by Greg Talcott
*Note: “Start” refers to level 1/level 2 players; “Flex” includes level 3/level 4 and Flex position*
As I stated back on July 28, Peyton Manning’s days are numbered, but I certainly didn’t think it would be a topic one game into the season. Sports media has been openly discussing Manning’s future following his zero TD, duck-tossing performance against Baltimore. I was way off in my predictions for Manning’s production last week, as was every fantasy point prediction tool under the sun. I don’t think Manning has had two bad weeks in a row, but if he does now, fantasy owners without a legit backup are in trouble. If Manning is your QB1, now is the time to shore up the QB2 position. Kansas City looked good against Houston last week, I think that momentum carries over: Kansas City wins 31-24.
Houston looked horrible with Brian Hoyer under center last week. Hoyer looked like your average cable guy who played high school ball 15 years ago trying out for an NFL team and failing miserably. Perhaps quarterbacks who are cut from the Cleveland Browns should not be anointed the starter for another NFL team; what do you think about that one NFL GM’s? DeAndre Hopkins looked great despite Hoyer’s performance and should no doubt have more upside with Ryan Mallet at quarterback. Carolina’s offense isn’t very good given the plethora of injuries they have so this game could be a stinker. Houston wins on the road 21-17.
Apparently, the 49ers were none too happy with the preseason commentary about how bad they will be in 2015 because they crushed the Vikings in Week 1. Carlos Hyde looked like the real deal and fantasy owners who picked Hyde have to be licking their chops over what the season may hold. Pittsburgh’s offensive performance against the Patriots was solid, but under-performed expectations. The 49ers may not stink as bad as everybody thought before the season started, but they aren’t winning on the road in Pittsburgh. Steelers win 28-17.
Jameis Winston looked bad last week while Mariota stole the show with his AFC Offensive Player of the Week performance. Life won’t be any easier on the road in New Orleans this week against the Saints, who are eager to get a win following their opening week loss to the Cardinals. New Orleans’ defense is not as good as the Titans, but that probably won’t matter much when it comes to Winston’s performance this week. Saints win 42-21
If you took AP in the first round, how do you feel watching his performance on Monday night? A) Anger B) Confused C) Violated D) Nausea E) All of the Above. What kind of game plan involves giving AP, who was “out for redemption”, 10 carries in his first game back in a year? What kind of game plan revolves around Teddy Bridgewater throwing the ball? Answer; a losing game plan. One has to hope the Vikings’ coaching staff actually realizes the only MVP on their team wears #28 and give him the ball. The Vikings looked overrated while Detroit looked good in a close loss on the road against the Chargers. Ameer Abdullah looks like the top back in the Lions’ offense, Matthew Stafford looks like Jay Cutler, and the Lions’ receivers looked sad. Expect Detroit to bounce back and beat the Vikings 24-23.
The Bears made a game of it last week right up to a classic Cutler turnover. Unfortunately for the Bears, they don’t have a creampuff coming to town this week, but rather the coach they should have hired a few years ago, Bruce Aryans; and the Cardinals who bring with them Super Bowl aspirations. Nobody in Chicago who is sober has Super Bowl aspirations as long as Jay Cutler is at the helm. Arizona has a tough defense, speed in the backfield, an excellent quarterback (14-2 in his last 16 starts for AZ) and weapons outside. The Bears will fight hard under John Fox but come up short, Cardinals win 31-23.
This game is going to be a brawl with the new look Bills and Rex Ryan hosting division rival New England. The Bills posted a convincing win against the Colts in Week 1 and they will pose a formidable challenge to Tom Brady and the Pats. I think this has the makings of a very close game and those tend to favor Brady and Coach Hoodie. A late Gronkowski TD seals the victory for New England 28-24.
The Chargers and Bengals are evenly matched and both looked good in their Week 1 openers. The Bengals are a slight favorite this week because they are at home and since it is not a playoff game Andy Dalton has the potential to play well. Look for good production out of the passing game, especially the TE position for both teams. Bengals win a close one 28-24.
Johnny Manziel is going to get his chance to start this week and he needs to make the most of it. Replacing an injured Josh McCown last week, Manziel threw a beautiful 54-yard TD on his second pass attempt to Travis Benjamin and then committed 3 turnovers while getting shellacked by the lowly Jets. The Titans, on the other hand, have Marcus Mariota and momentum coming off a stellar debut against Tampa Bay. The Browns are not a very good football team and they will lose this one at home 28-13.
Julio Jones put on an amazing show on Monday night against the Eagles, unfortunately he tweaked his hamstring in the process. Commentary from the Falcons sounds pretty optimistic about Jones playing this week. This will be a tight game, but should favor Giants in the end. New York didn’t play very well against Dallas and yet, they were less than 2 minutes from being 1-0. I expect far better production out of Manning, Beckham, and Rueben Randle this week. Atlanta should be able to move the ball and score, just not enough to win. Giants win 27-24
I liked the Rams last week at home against the Seahawks and thus I REALLY like them this week against Washington. The Redskins aren’t a very good team with DeSean “Cinderella” Jackson out with another hamstring injury, and they definitely won’t be any better without him. The Rams have a ferocious defense and a solid offense, the problem is picking a starter for your fantasy team. Eventually, Todd Gurley should become the man in the backfield, but he is not close to shouldering the load anytime soon if he is still questionable for this weekend. Tre Mason should be back this week, so that will cut into the production that Benjamin Cunningham had in Week 1. Nick Foles is a decent play this week, if perhaps you have someone like Peyton Manning as your QB1 and don’t want to risk another bad performance. Jared Cook seems to be the favorite in the passing game with Brian Quick still day-to-day. Rams win 21-10
Miami looked good last week against a lousy team and as luck would have it they get to play one of the worst teams in the league in Week 2; the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. I like Miami’s defense against what passes for an offense in Jacksonville. Blake Bortles doesn’t have much to work with on offense, especially with Julius Thomas still sidelined by injury for the next few weeks (Thomas appears on my Top 5 Fantasy Bust list here). Even though he has little to work with, for some reason Bortles targeted rookie Rashad Greene an astonishing 13 times last week which Greene turned into 7 catches for an anemic 28 yards…the Hallmark for Offensive Inefficiency Award goes to? No, not Jay Cutler. Jarvis Landry and Ryan Tannehill should have good numbers on Sunday, Miami beats the Jags: 24-7.
Derek Carr should be back this week and that is a good thing if they have any hope of beating the Ravens. Baltimore did not look good in Week 1, but the Raiders’ suspect defense will be without Charles Woodson this week, meaning it doesn’t get any easier than this for Joe Flacco. That being said, Flacco is not surrounded by a bevy of offensive talent and Justin Forsett cannot carry this team on his own. Flacco needs to get something going with Steve Smith Sr, who he targeted 7 times last week resulting in just 2 receptions. Look for Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray to do the heavy-lifting for the Raiders in Oakland’s first win of the season; Raiders 13-10 over Baltimore.
Romo worked his fourth quarter magic to lead the Cowboys over the Giants on Sunday night and he did it without Dez Bryant. One has to wonder how long Romo can keep this up without the star receiver, and without the dominant running game he had last season. I think the Cowboys are deep enough to remain competitive most weeks, but it will come down to the Cowboys’ defense stepping up against teams like Philadelphia. There is simply no way you lose DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant and not see a drop in scoring. The Eagles, fresh off their offseason makeover lost a tough game to Atlanta, but will get even this week. Eagles win 31-24.
Seattle got off to a slow start last year and it ultimately didn’t matter by the end of the year. This year, money is standing in the way of Kam Chancellor getting on the field and that has a major impact on the Seahawks’ defense. The Packers, and Eddie Lacy in particular are the next to benefit from the Kam Chancellor holdout. Winning at Lambeau Field is tough enough when you are at full strength and virtually impossible with the hole that has developed in the Seahawks’ secondary. Packers win 24-13.
Indy did not play a good game in Week 1, and that has a lot to do with Buffalo’s aggressive defense. The bad news for Indy is they play another aggressive defense in the Jets with arguably the best corner in football, Darrelle Revis. TY Hilton is day-to-day with a knee bruise which doesn’t help Andrew Luck’s production potential vs last week’s performance. The Colts will win the game, but fantasy owners should have modest expectations for the Colts’ offense. Colts win 23-17.