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Wayne, Welker get Week 2 nod
I apologize on behalf of the Packers and Bears for giving you a dismal Thursday night affair. With the exceptions of the Green Bay defense, Tom Crabtree, a little Cedric Benson and Mason Crosby, it was truly a miserable affair.
Brandon Marshall did not have a pass target in the first half. He later dropped a touchdown pass. Let that sink in for a moment.
Let’s get back on the field and preview the weekend.
Victor Cruz vs. TB
Cruz bounces back in a big way this week against the Buccaneers. He was targeted 11 times in the season-opening loss to the Cowboys, catching six passes for 58 yards. Obviously, we remember his three drops in fantasyland, but he’ll get past that quickly. I’m anticipating a strong effort from the Giants following the long layoff.
Percy Harvin at IND
Harvin touched the ball 11 times for 104 yards in the season-opening win against the Jaguars. He logged six receptions for 84 yards on eight targets. Look for him to be involved early and often against the suspect Indianapolis secondary. I liked what I saw from Christian Ponder in Week 1, and the terror that is Adrian Peterson will create opportunities downfield.
Demaryius Thomas at ATL
The Falcons lost Brent Grimes to a torn ACL, thereby leaving a big void in the secondary. I suspect that Peyton Manning looks to take advantage of his absence early in the Monday night affair.
Thomas finished Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh with five receptions and 110 receiving yards, including a 71-yard touchdown sprint.
Steve Smith vs. NO
Smith has been limited in practice and was officially listed as “questionable” on the injury report. He caught seven passes for 106 yards in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. The foot injury isn’t going away, and I suspect that we’ll see Smith on the report all season. Both the New Orleans and Carolina offenses are looking to bounce back from terrible Week 1 efforts, and there just might be a shootout in the offing.
Wes Welker vs. ARI
I’ve heard the rumblings about the “phase-out” of Wes Welker in New England. I’m not ready to believe the rumor, conjecture and speculation just yet. Welker’s low snap count in Week 1 was the subject of many column inches, and his three-catch, 14-yard day obviously left fantasy owners wanting.
Welker and the Patriots have a great opportunity on tap against the Cardinals at home. I’m curious to watch how the Cardinals use Patrick Peterson this week. I suspect that he matches up with Brandon Lloyd downfield and that the spread attack allows Welker ample room to work across the middle.
I’ll send up the red flares into the night on Sunday if Welker disappears again.
Stevie Johnson vs. KC
Johnson caught four passes for 55 yards, including a touchdown, in the blowout loss to the Jets. It wasn’t world-beating, but you got the late touchdown to help the final total. He’s a better option this week, as the Chiefs will likely be without Brandon Flowers again. We could see another high-scoring affair develop here.
Marques Colston at CAR
Fantasy owners are still lamenting the near-touchdown from Week 1 when he fumbled inside the five-yard line. Colston was targeted 11 times, finishing with four receptions for 71 yards. I like the Saints offense to continue the momentum of that frantic second half from Week 1. Drew Brees and company will get back to basics on the road.
Reggie Wayne vs. MIN
Wayne caught nine passes for 135 yards in the season opener against Chicago. He and Andrew Luck established a strong rapport and he led all NFL receivers with 18 targets. Look for Luck to target Wayne frequently against the suspect Minnesota secondary in his home debut.
Michael Crabtree vs. DET
Crabtree caught seven passes for 76 yards and found space in the Green Bay secondary in Week 1. I’m reticent to jump onboard wholly, but he was targeted nine times. The 49ers will work to establish the run early, thereby allowing Alex Smith to take his shots downfield against a suspect secondary. I’m intrigued.
Brandon LaFell vs. NO
LaFell delivered as a sleeper last week with 65 receiving yards on three receptions, including a touchdown in the Panther’s loss to Tampa Bay. He’s a fantastic start in the back-end WR3 or WR4 slot against the Saints, a defense that was positively torched last week by Robert Griffin III. With Steve Smith banged up, I look for LaFell’s target count to rise in Week 2.
Lance Moore at CAR
Moore caught six passes for 120 and a touchdown in the Saints’ season-opening loss to the Redskins. I caution that most of his production came in frantic comeback mode, but that doesn’t dissuade me from recommending him this week. Moore benefits from the injury to Devery Henderson and the fact that this game could turn into a shootout in a hurry.
Dexter McCluster at BUF
McCluster shone in an expanded role against the Falcons in Week 1. He was targeted 10 times in the blowout defeat, finishing the game with six receptions and 82 yards. I’ve made no secret of my infatuation with the Kansas City offense, and McCluster’s new role is mighty intriguing. Of course, the fact that he possesses dual-position eligibility for many owners (RB/WR) is a nice bonus. Look for McCluster to shine against the Buffalo defense.
Domenik Hixon vs. TB
Hixon caught three passes for 55 yards against the Cowboys, a nice debut as the physical cornerbacks shut down Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. He also nearly corralled a touchdown reception, but for an ill-directed Eli Manning pass. I’m intrigued to watch this unit coming out of the long layoff. Nicks is listed as “questionable” because of his foot injury, but is expected to play. Regardless, I anticipate a sizable target count for Hixon and some work for preseason sleeper Reuben Randle.
Jason Avant vs. BAL
Both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are banged up and may be limited on Sunday. I note that both receivers were available at practice, but I’m reticent to endorse either against the Baltimore secondary. I suspect that Avant, who has shone in their absence in the past, will take on a larger role in this game. He caught four passes for 27 yards in Week 1 and warrants consideration in deeper PPR leagues. It would take a deactivation for the stars to get him into standard lineups.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. NYJ
Sanders caught four passes for 55 yards in the season-opening loss to Denver. I’m anticipating a larger role in Week 2 against the New York secondary. Darrelle Revis has been ruled “OUT” because of a concussion, leaving Kyle Wilson to team with Antonio Cromartie to challenge Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Look for the Jets to bring pressure on Roethlisberger, thereby leaving holes in the secondary. I like Sanders to post a big day as Roethlisberger checks down to his secondary options.
Vincent Jackson at NYG
Jackson was targeted 10 times in the season-opening win over the Panthers, but generated just four receptions for 47 yards. I still don’t trust his connection with Josh Freeman, nor do I trust Freeman’s accuracy or willingness to push the ball downfield. As a result, Jackson rates a difficult play, even if you believe that the Tampa Bay offensive line will be able to withstand the push from the New York front.
Torrey Smith at PHI
Smith caught a long pass of 52 yards early in Monday’s win over the Bengals. He finished with just 57 yards on two receptions (four targets). Smith faces a difficult proposition against the Philadelphia secondary this week. I suspect that Cam Cameron works to get the ball into Smith’s hands more consistently this week, but he’s no better than a low-WR2 play this week considering the road matchup.
Santonio Holmes at PIT
Holmes caught four passes for 68 yards in the Jets’ dominant season-opening performance against the Bills. That output is mighty disappointing when considering how well and balanced the New York offense played in that contest.
Holmes faces a difficult matchup this week against cornerback Ryan Clark and his former team. The potential gadgetry with Tim Tebow may present opportunities, but Holmes is no better than a WR4 in my rankings this week.
Sidney Rice vs. DAL
Rice missed consecutive practice days this week because of a knee injury, therby putting his availability in question. He caught four passes for 36 yards, including Russell Wilson’s lone touchdown pass of Week 1. Even if Rice gets cleared to play, I don’t like the matchup against Dallas’ physical cornerbacks.
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