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Stay away from Keller, Celek
Who would have thought that the Chicago and Green Bay defenses would offer the most intrigue on Thursday night?
Jay Cutler (and maybe his fantasy owners) will have nightmares all week. Meanwhile, fantasy owners that trusted the Green Bay defense have to be positively giddy about the Bears’ decision to leave J’Marcus Webb on an island. Teach counting to your children by watching tape of the seven sacks absorbed by Cutler.
Let’s get into the secondary positions for Week 2, including some intriguing spot plays at the kicker and defense slots. It’s time for another edition of “Lineup Calls.” I begin with the tight end position and respect to an all-time great.
Tony Gonzalez at DEN
The future Hall of Famer just keeps going. Gonzalez caught five passes for 53 yards with a touchdown in his return to Kansas City. The need to contend with Roddy White and Julio Jones creates large spaces in the secondary, and Gonzalez can still stretch the seams. Look for him to be active Monday in what could develop into a shootout.
Brandon Pettigrew at SF
Pettigrew missed a chance at a sure-fire touchdown in Week 1, much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners and Lions fans. He still finished with five receptions and 77 receiving yards (fourth among tight ends). It’s not a huge spot this week against the 49ers, but I suspect that Stafford checks down to him frequently as San Francisco applies pressure up front.
Owen Daniels at JAC
Play him while he’s healthy. Seriously, Daniels caught four passes for 87 yards to lead all tight ends in Week 1. The Houston running game motored along with Arian Foster, thereby setting up play-action and giving Daniels room to run down the seams. Look for more of that in Week 2 against the Jaguars.
Greg Olsen at NO
Olsen caught six passes for 56 yards in the opener against the Buccaneers. He’s on the radar as a double-digit target player this week in a potentially high-scoring NFC South matchup. He’ll best Fred Davis’ two receptions and 38 receiving yards by halftime.
Coby Fleener at MIN
Who doesn’t like saying the name “Fleener?” The rookie from Stanford connected frequently with his college teammate, Andrew Luck, generating six receptions for 82 yards in the opening loss to Chicago. He’ll post another huge target count this week against the Vikings.
The Vikings allowed Marcedes Lewis to snap his scoreless streak in the opener. Lewis finished with five receptions for 52 yards.
Todd Heap at NE
Heap caught three passes for 32 yards in the Cardinals’ win over the Seahawks. I put him on the radar because he received multiple red zone targets. If the Patriots post a big point total, as expected, look for Kevin Kolb to open things up.
Kyle Rudolph at IND
Rudolph generated five receptions for 67 yards in the opener against Jacksonville and has settled in as a No. 2 option for Christian Ponder. The fact that the Vikings have not established another wideout at this juncture (Aromashodu/Jenkins) puts Rudolph in line for another big target count.
Martellus Bennett at TB
Bennett caught four passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in the opener against the Cowboys. He’s in line for another big effort against the Buccaneers, particularly if Hakeem Nicks is slowed by his foot injury. The Buccaneers surrendered six catches and 56 receiving yards to Greg Olsen in Week 1.
Brent Celek vs. BAL
Celek caught four passes for 65 yards in Week 1 against the Browns. He may be called to take on a higher role if Maclin or Jackson is unavailable, but I still anticipate a tepid effort against this Baltimore defense. Even with a lopsided score late, Jermaine Gresham amassed just 30 receiving yards on three receptions. Approach him with caution.
Dustin Keller at PIT
Keller is still working through a hamstring injury sustained during the preseason. He caught a single pass for seven yards in the season-opening demolition of the Bills. I just can’t trust his health or target count against a better opponent.
Dennis Pitta at PHI
If you’re in a PPR league, then Pitta likely stays in rotation for you this week. He caught five passes for 73 yards with a touchdown in the opener against Cincinnati. I’m not anticipating a repeat performance against this Philadelphia defense. The receptions may be there, but YAC and red zone appearances will be sparse.
Blair Walsh at IND
Did you see the leg on Walsh in Week 1? He converted 4-of-4 field goal tries in Week 1, including a 55-yarder. Look for multiple tries indoors against a weak Indianapolis defense. “ROBO-back” Adrian Peterson will post another strong effort on the ground, and everything past midfield is fair game.
Ryan Succop at BUF
Succop and the Chiefs got out of the gate strong in Week 1 against the Falcons before the wheels came off in the second half. I’m anticipating a better, more consistent effort from the Kansas City offense against this Buffalo defense. He converted one field goal with three PATs against the Falcons.
Connor Barth at NYG
I don’t trust Josh Freeman and the passing attack to finish off drives just yet. Freeman threw an early touchdown pass to Mike Williams, but was forced to settle for three field goals from Barth. I do like Doug Martin’s ability to move the ball on the ground, and that balance should create opportunities for Barth once again.
Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
What else do I need to say?
The Bengals were overwhelmed by the no-huddle attack in Baltimore on Monday night, but this is hardly the same type of test. Brandon Weeden and the passing game sputtered, and Trent Richardson was ineffective against the Eagles. I expect better numbers from Richardson in Week 2, but the Cincinnati defense will not have to contend with the same type of offensive balance.
* The loss of Thomas Howard from the linebacker corps is moderately troubling.
Oakland at Miami
Will the Raiders have solved the long-snapping woes by Sunday?
If so, then I love this defense in Week 2 against the Dolphins. Despite horrid field position and a decided lack of production from the offense, the Raiders limited Philip Rivers and the offense to a single touchdown. Look for the Raiders to attack Ryan Tannehill and force multiple turnovers.
San Diego vs. Tennessee
The Chargers played well against the Raiders in Week 1, obviously aided by the horror show that became the Oakland special teams unit. I’m encouraged by the Chargers’ effort against Darren McFadden in Week 1 on the ground (the Raiders amassed 32 rushing yards total) and that the ability to slow down Chris Johnson will present opportunities against Jake Locker.
Dallas at Seattle
The Cowboys’ cornerback tandem manhandled the Giants’ high-octane passing game and stuff the run for much of the game despite the absence of Jay Ratliff. I’m expecting a rough home debut for Russell Wilson. He’s already dealing with injuries in his receiving corps and faces an aggressive defense coming off of a long layoff.
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