After last week’s ambitious A-Z fantasy rankings, this week I go back to the basics. It’s two weeks into the fantasy football season and the surprises just keep on coming. Michael Vick is a top-10 fantasy quarterback, something you couldn’t have said with a straight face just two weeks ago. Jahvid Best and Arian Foster (not Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson) are the top fantasy backs. I mean, Jay Cutler has only thrown one pick! Needless to say, plenty of things you didn’t see coming.
Much like business, it’s not what you did last week; it’s what are you going to do for me now. Let’s look into the crystal ball, shall we?
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB (at Chicago): Chicago’s run defense has certainly improved, but the pass defense is, simply put, not good. They’re 27th in the league in passing yards while Green Bay’s passing offense is, simply put, really good.
2. Peyton Manning, IND (at Denver): Let’s not mince words: If you have Peyton Manning, and you’re looking here for advice on if you should start Peyton Manning, you don’t deserve to have Peyton Manning. That is all.
3. Tom Brady, NE (vs. Buffalo): Tom Brady played okay last week, but his team didn’t. Bill Belichick and the Pats will look to make a statement against a division rival. New England will score – a lot. Added bonus: they’ve never felt bad about running up the score.
4. Matt Schaub, HOU (vs. Dallas): What will he do for an encore? Schaub played absolutely out of his mind last week, going off for 497 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cut that in half, and it’s still a great week. Now we just need to figure out how to score 1.5 touchdowns…
5. Drew Brees, NO (vs. Atlanta): Read ‘Manning, Peyton.’
6. Michael Vick, PHI (vs. Jacksonville): He’s as athletically gifted as they come, so his rushing stats shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the impressive thing about Vick’s first two games is how well he’s performed as a passer. It’s hard to get too excited about two games, but he’s playing at the level many thought he could attain out of college. He’s a strong start until further notice.
7. Tony Romo, DAL (@ Houston): Dallas is 0-2, but not because of Tony Romo. He’s second in the league in yards, and based on how poorly the Cowpoke’s offensive line has played, they’re going to need to continue to chuck it around if they want to get a win. Plus, Houston has given up over 800 yards in just two games. There will be fireworks in Houston.
8. Phillip Rivers, SD (at Seattle): More fun with math! Seattle is 26th in the league in passing yards allowed; Rivers is third in the league in quarterback efficiency and has put up some impressive statistical games.
9. Brett Favre, MIN (vs. Detroit): Warning: Favre fans avert your eyes! Brett has not played well yet this season. Okay, you can look again. That being said, the Vikings have something to prove this week against Detroit. If he’s going to put up a big game anytime soon, this is definitely the matchup.
10. Donovan McNabb (at St. Louis): McNabb’s first game against Philly is just a week away. Something tells me he’s going to want to go in riding some momentum.
Sleepers: Joe Flacco, BAL; Shaun Hill, DET; Jay Cutler, CHI; Alex Smith, SF; Kyle Orton, DEN (With Moreno ruled out, his value goes up)
1. Ray Rice, BAL (vs. Cleveland): It should be a big bounce back week for Rice after being bottled up by Cincinnati. Flacco looked awful last week and so has the offense. Coach Harbaugh needs to jumpstart the offense, and Rice is the guy to do it.
2. Adrian Peterson, MIN (vs. Detroit): Vikings players have had to deal with talk all week about how poorly they played. They need a big week. AP played well last week, and should again this week.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC (vs. Philadelphia): I still believe a blowout game is on the way. You’ve been warned.
4. Chris Johnson, TEN (at New York Giants): Chris Johnson is good, but so was Pittsburgh’s defense last week. Not to worry, he’ll have a great game against the G-men.
5. Steven Jackson, STL (vs. Washington): Sam Bradford has been up and down, but the one constant has always been Jackson. If you’ve got him, start him.
6. LeSean McCoy, PHI (at Jacksonville): You might expect McCoy’s numbers to go down with a rushing option like Vick at QB. But defensive ends and linebackers are now forced to over pursue, leaving rushing lanes all over the field. McCoy’s week two numbers are no accident.
7. Frank Gore, SF (at Kansas City): Gore is just a beast. San Francisco wants to pick up a win. Those two things are connected.
8. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (vs. Tampa Bay): As the quarterback carousel continues to go round-and-round, Mendenhall remains the constant.
9. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (vs. Cincinnati): A rookie quarterback making his first start? Better get that run game ready.
10. Arian Foster, HOU (vs. Dallas): We’ve seen Houston run the ball well; we’ve seen Houston pass the ball well. Why not do both well at the same time? Foster owners should take comfort in the fact that he still got 19 carries despite the team’s shootout last week. Very good sign.
11. Darren McFadden, OAK (at Arizona): Welcome back to relevancy Mr. McFadden.
12. Cedric Benson, CIN (at Carolina): Could be a track meet in Carolina.
13. Michael Turner, ATL (at New Orleans): Jason Snelling is breathing down his neck. He’s got plenty of motivation to play well this week.
14. Pierre Thomas, NO (at Atlanta): Thomas is no longer sharing carries with Reggie Bush, leaving him as close to being in a single back system as you get in the bayou. Extra carries = more fantasy points. See, math can be fun…
15. Matt Forte, CHI (vs. Green Bay): The Bears will pull out all the stops to slow down the Packers offense.
16. Knowshon Moreno, DEN (vs. Indianapolis): Cautiously optimistic about this matchup. Indy gives up yards in bunches. Hopefully Denver doesn’t fall behind too early. ((UPDATE: Moreno has been ruled out of Sunday’s game.))
17. Jahvid Best, DET (at Minnesota): Even against the #1 rush defense in the league (yes, it’s the Bears), Best had a big week. Expect those week one-like numbers against Minnesota.
18. Ryan Mathews, SD (at Seattle): See ‘Turner, Michael’ and sub out Mike Tolbert for Jason Snelling. ((UPDATE: Tolbert has been named the starter.))
19. Clinton Portis, WAS (at St. Louis): He’s getting older, but they’re still the Rams, so…
20. Joseph Addai, IND (at Denver): Wow, the Colts can run the ball.
21. Jamaal Charles, KC (vs. San Francisco): So can KC.
22. Ronnie Brown, MIA (New York Jets): Going up against a good defense, but still could get a goal line carry or two.
23. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. Cincinnati): See ‘Williams, DeAngelo.’
24. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (vs. Tennessee): Did you see Brandon Jacobs’ helmet end up in the stands? I don’t blame him. He’s stints on the bench get longer each time Bradshaw totes the rock.
25. Shonn Greene, NYJ (at Miami): He’s got to repay fantasy owners confidence in him, right?
Sleepers: Tim Hightower, AZ; LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ; Brandon Jackson, GB; Mike Tolbert, SD ((UPDATE: Named starter with Ryan Mathews out. Consider him in Mathew’s spot)); Jason Snelling, ATL; Marion Barber, DAL; Fred Taylor, NE
1. Andre Johnson, HOU (vs. Dallas): Only fools doubt Andre. Only fools.
2. Randy Moss, NE (vs. Buffalo): Played well against the league’s top corner – just think how he’ll do against Buffalo’s corners.
3. Miles Austin, DAL (at Houston): As established earlier, Dallas is going to throw the ball against the Texans. And when they throw the ball, it’s tends to go Austin’s way.
4. DeSean Jackson, PHI (at Jacksonville): Vick has a favorite target, and it’s an undersized wideout from Cal.
5. Greg Jennings, GB (at Chicago): You can’t run on Chicago, but you sure can pass on them. A lot.
6. Roddy White, ATL (at New Orleans): 20 catches, nearly 200 yards? Yeah, White’s pretty good start.
7. Reggie Wayne, IND (at Denver): He catches passes from Peyton Manning. Moving on.
8. Brandon Marshall, MIA (vs. New York Jets): No Revis = happy Marshall.
9. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs. Oakland): Fitzgerald is simply too good to not put up bigger numbers. At this point, he could line up at QB and throw himself passes. Still, the second you doubt him is the second he blows up.
10. Calvin Johnson, DET (at Minnesota): The Lions offensive actually has some balance now that Best is on the scene. Megatron will be the biggest beneficiary of the young back’s stellar play.
11. Santana Moss, WAS (at St. Louis): Just remember, you heard it here first.
12. Wes Welker, NE (Buffalo): See ‘Moss, Randy.’
13. Steve Smith, CAR (Cincinnati): Jimmy Clausen will be given very simple reads in his first start. Something tells me his reads will include Steve Smith.
14. Marques Colston, NO (vs. Atlanta): Brees and the Saints always play well against their division rivals, and Atlanta’s secondary doesn’t necessarily scare anyone.
15. Anquan Boldin, BAL (vs. Cleveland): Flacco needs a confidence boost after tossing four picks against Cincy.
16. Donald Driver, GB (at Chicago): See ‘Jennings, Greg.’
17. Hakeem Nicks, NYG (vs. Tennessee): Keep an eye on his health this week, but if he’s healthy, you have to like the new number one receiver in New York.
18. Chad Ochocinco, CIN (at Carolina): Which Carson Palmer do we get? Week one version or week two? That answer will tell you which Ochocinco you’re going to get.
19. Mike Sims-Walker, JAC (vs. Philadelphia): Showed up a week late to the party, but at least he showed up.
20. Dez Bryant, DAL (at Houston): There’s going to be a lot of offense in Houston. Fantasy owners should continue to send bribes to Jerry Jones for Dez to continue to return kicks.
21. Johnny Knox, CHI (vs. Green Bay): If this thing turns into a shootout, Knox could have a huge day.
22. Steve Smith, NYG (vs. Tennessee): The other Steve Smith moves up higher here if Nicks can’t go.
23. Jeremy Maclin, PHI (at Jacksonville): Because Philly can throw again.
24. Malcolm Floyd, SD (at Seattle): Only three catches, but plenty of yards. There’s a way to use this weapon, hopefully Norm Turner figures out how.
25. Dwayne Bowe, KC (San Francisco): The talent’s there, so now Matt Cassel just needs to get the ball there.
Sleepers: Demaryius Thomas, DEN; Pierre Garcon, IND; Percy Harvin, DEN; Hines Ward, PIT; Mike Williams, TB; Mark Clayton, STL
1. Antonio Gates, SD (at Seattle): Yes, he’s still very good.
2. Dallas Clark, IND (at Denver): So is he.
3. Jermichael Finley, GB (at Chicago): If you haven’t noticed, I’m high on the Packers passing game.
4. Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (vs. Detroit): Minnesota’s receivers might be playing poorly, but Favre’s still got Shiancoe. More importantly, he trusts Shiancoe.
5. Vernon Davis, SF (at Kansas City): Good player, great matchup.
6. Jason Witten, DAL (at Houston): I’ve never seen a player so angry he couldn’t go back in a game following Witten’s concussion against Chicago. Expect a very hungry JW.
7. Greg Olsen, CHI (vs. Green Bay): For whatever reason, Olsen plays well against Green Bay. I don’t try to explain it, I just have to rank him higher than normal.
8. Tony Gonzalez, ATL (at New Orleans): Still among the best there is.
9. Dustin Keller, NYJ (at Miami): Mark Sanchez is looking his way a lot. In a PPR league, Keller is money.
10. Owen Daniels, HOU (vs. Dallas): This is the game Daniels returns to 2009 form.
10a. Chris Cooley, WAS (at St. Louis): Continues to tear it up for McNabb. Expect it to continue.
Sleepers: John Carlson, SEA; Kellen Winslow, TB; Zach Miller, OAK; Mercedes Lewis, JAC; Heath Miller, PIT
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Tampa Bay)
2. Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland)
3. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Detroit)
4. San Francisco 49ers (at Kansas City)
5. New York Jets (at Miami)
6. New England Patriots (vs. Buffalo)
7. Cincinnati Bengals (at Carolina)
8. Philadelphia Eagles (at Jacksonville)
9. San Diego Chargers (at Seattle)
10. Green Bay Packers (at Chicago)
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This post was written by Stephen on September 23, 2010