As many of my colleagues on this site have already stated, the first week of the fantasy football season is the single most frustrating and mystifying week of the entire season. People like Austin Collie and Arian Foster go off like they’re perennial Pro Bowlers, while guys who are perennial Pro Bowlers like Andre Johnson and Frank Gore (17 rushes for 38 yards, really?) came stumbling out of the gate looking like sad, lost little puppies.
Similar to the aforementioned Pro Bowlers, I came wobbling and swerving out of the gate like a college kid taking a sobriety test at Mardi Gras. Chris Johnson was solid and steady as always in Week 1, while Calvin Johnson was one bad call away from being an uber-stud and outright savior. Philip Rivers had a decent day but choked on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and, you guessed it, 4th and Goal to lose the game. Lastly, Greg Olsen was just meh, neither studly nor dudly. My Dud predictions failed me as expected, yet I applaud myself for not being a complete embarrassment in this public forum.
Here we go, Fantasy Football Studs and Duds for Week 2 of the Fantasy Football Season…
Stud- Matt Ryan
Although Matt Ryan failed to hit the end zone in Week 1, he helped keep the Falcons in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which boasts one of the best defenses in the league. Their running game was not nearly as efficient as it has been in the past (Michael Turner 2.2 yds/carry) so if they are going to be a major contender come playoff time, they need to readjust. They start that process in Week 2 at home against the Cardinals. The Cards looked suspect in their opener giving up 250+ yards passing to rookie QB Sam Bradford in his first game as a professional with no true #1 wide receiver on the field. What does that mean for the Cards when they face a real QB/WR tandem like Ryan and Roddy White (23 targets, 13 rec. for 111 yds)? Whatever bad it means for the Cardinals, it means great things for Matt Ryan fantasy owners.
Dud- Eli Manning
The Giants looked impressive in Week 1 with a performance that seemed to silence most of their critics. Eli showed great poise and was able to pick apart the thoroughly porous Panther defense with ease, but now they have to roll into Indianapolis to battle the Colts, a team that is out for blood after being almost single-handedly defeated by Arian Foster. I’m sure the Giants coaching staff has been watching Foster's highlight reel over and over again, just grinning and salivating, because they have the weapons in the backfield to repeat such a performance. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have a serious opportunity to set the tone early and run rampant over the Colts. What does this mean for Eli? Well, not much, apart from taking the snap, handing it off, and letting his boys go to work. It's not that he won't throw downfield; it just means that his opportunities will be thoroughly limited. It will be more about being efficient and safe rather than taking shots. Could be a good week for the Giants as a whole, but Eli will take a backseat to his running backs in Week 2, not to mention that the Colts secondary held Matt Schaub to only 107 yards on 9 completions.
Honorable Mention: Derek Anderson- Don’t let week one fool you
Stud- Jamaal Charles
Charles was a huge surprise last season, so much so that he was able to force Larry Johnson out of the starting position, as well as the city of Kansas City. In 2010, so far, even though it has only been a week, Charles has proven that he deserves the opportunities he is receiving by putting a hurt on the Chargers on Monday Night Football with 92 rushing yards on only 11 carries. Now the Chiefs face a Browns team that looked thoroughly unimpressive in their opener against Tampa Bay, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, this is neither new nor surprising. I think Charles has a breakout week ahead of him as the Chiefs put major emphasis on the run to try and control the game and abuse the Browns front line. In his only appearance against the Browns in 2009, Jamaal Charles had 170 total yards and a touchdown; a performance that
I foresee being repeated.
Honorable Mention: Steven Jackson / Ahmad Bradshaw
Dud- Ronnie Brown
Certain facts from the opener against the Bills do not bode well for Ronnie Brown’s season as a whole. First of all, they barely beat the Bills, who have improved, but still, it’s the Bills. Secondly, the volume of carries in the opener swayed more toward Ricky Williams. Brown carried the ball 13 times, while Williams carried the ball 18. Granted, the Dolphins have always been a dual-headed running team, but Brown was always considered the more talented and reliable back. That fact remains, but Williams found a way to leach some touches and limit his statistical line so far. Based on these facts alone it is hard to start either guy from week to week, not to mention they face a much more talented front line against the Vikings in Week 2. I just cannot see Brown or Williams having a big day against the speedy Vikings linebackers and the Mullet Militia up front.
Stud- Malcom Floyd
I don’t think this is so much my belief in Floyd as a stud receiver as it is in Rivers as a quarterback and the Jaguars playing on the other side of the field. The Jags let Kyle Orton and the Broncos have their way with them in Week 1 with a relatively rag tag group of receivers on the field (Brandon Lloyd with 100+ yards?). The Chargers are coming off of a dismal defeat on Monday Night and they need a serious rebound week. They cannot go into a two-loss hole, so expect them to come out firing straight away. Malcom Floyd is their best receiver outside of Antonio Gates, and although he only had 3 receptions in the opener, he was targeted a team high 12 times. If Floyd can turn a few more of those targets into receptions, which he will at home this week, he is poised to have a big week and turn around those Red Zone woes that plagued them so (I rhymed!).
Honorable Mention: Mark Clayton – Young Sam Bradford’s go to guy
Dud- Steve Smith (The Carolina Panthers One)
This is not a knock on the guy as a player as Smith is one of the best out there, but similar to Calvin Johnson in Detroit, he is currently in a bad situation. Smith started the season with a new quarterback who has only a handful of starts under his belt, and now in just Week 2 he is paired with another new quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, with even fewer professional starts; zero. Clausen has an upside, but he is still green with a pretty raw skill set. The Panthers coaching staff will have to keep him on a tight leash; throw the ball short, dump it off to his backs, and limit the space for error, all of which are bad fantasy factors for a downfield threat like Steve Smith. This will probably be a good week to have DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, but if you’ve got Steve Smith it may be time to find an alternative, even against Tampa Bay.
Stud- Visanthe Shiancoe
Brett Favre’s main target in Week 1 against the Champs with 4 catches for 76 yards and a Touchdown against a stout New Orleans D. Although he didn’t catch a ton of balls, it was still enough for a team high, and was targeted a team high 7 times. Shiancoe is going to become even more of a weapon this week against Miami because Percy Harvin’s status for the weekend is once again in doubt and Miami’s defense has only faced Buffalo. Buffalo threw to their tight end a whopping zero times, in an unimpressive first week win. If the health of the Viking wide receivers remains as unsteady as it is right now, Shiancoe could become their only highlight player down the field and in the Red Zone, evidence of which we will find out very, very quickly this week against Miami.
Dud- Jermaine Gresham
In Week 1, the rookie tight end was targeted 10 times for 6 catches and a TD. The 6 catches and the TD are both good for people in leagues that get points for receptions, but in yardage leagues it was a bit less unimpressive as those 6 catches only accounted for 25 yards. Gresham is a big guy with great hands and proved that he was the real deal against the Patriots last week. However, the Ravens defense is a whole different breed. The Ravens are faster and they hit a whole hell of a lot harder, especially the tight ends. The only highlight you need to see from their Monday Night matchup against the Jets was Ray Lewis blowing up Dustin Keller (2 catches 13 yards), and what a glorious sight it was. I look forward to the Ravens continuing to lay the hurt on some folks come Sunday, and I’m sorry Jermaine, it looks painful.