“Did you win last week?” The Fantasy Greek hopes you did and hopes you are ready for some more fantasy football! Week 1 was very much like a balloon blown up to its breaking point and then suddenly popping – POP! That feeling of, “How are things going to go in Week 1?,” or “Will I win in Week 1?” is now gone. Week 2 has several good games on tap as well as several blowouts. In any case, fantasy teams that won last week, could easily lose this week.
As you should know, whether you should play the players on your rosters in any given week should be contingent in part on the match-up. This is not about making the perfect choice because we don’t know how players will really do on a week-to-week basis. Rather, this is about making a sensible and reasonable choice on which player to play. So, to assist in being you’re “Second Opinion for Your Fantasy Football Instinct,” the goal in “Fantasy Football Weekly Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football owner, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up this week by reviewing the weekly match-ups and identifying which players are “On the Gridiron,” a “Coach’s Decision,” or “On the Pine.” We also provide a down-n-dirty listing of each category within Quick Hits for On the Gridiron, Coach’s Decision, and On the Pine. For many of you, the information provided simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. If you like, skip the fluff, and find your player’s match-up for analysis. If you are looking for a waiver wire pick-up, then look for those players still on your waiver wire, and you can read that analysis too.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Identifies players you should play because of their match-up or because of their role on their team’s offense.
COACH’S DECISION: Identifies players who you normally would play but whose match-up this week is not very good; identifies players who you normally would not play but whose match-up this week is good; or identifies players who are injured that you, the fantasy coach, will need to make the call on whether or not to play.
ON THE PINE: Identifies players who you should likely avoid unless there is no one else on your roster or on the waiver wire that can help your team win. NOTE: Since kickers’ weekly performances are difficult to predict, kickers will not be categorized but defenses (DST) will. As to kickers, just get a good one on a team that will give the kicker an opportunity to score points.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
Sunday, September 18th – 1:00 p.m. EST
SEAHAWKS (0-1) v. STEELERS (0-1)
The Seahawks looked awful last week in their season opener, but then so did the Steelers. This is a week for the Steelers to right their ship. Expect the Steelers to be popping on all cylinders and expect this to be a Steelers route of the struggling Seahawks.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Given all the problems the Seahawks have had on offense, the Steelers DST is a must-start. As the Steelers struggled last weekend on offense, expect the team’s stars, to step it up this week and give it their all. QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, and WR Mike Wallace should all be on the gridiron. This should be a game that the Steelers control.
COACH’S DECISION: That said, Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders may not be regular fantasy starters this season. But, one or both of them could do something in this game. While the Fantasy Greek feels you must have better fantasy options, if you are searching for someone to play this week as a WR3, you can consider them.
ON THE PINE: With the Steelers expected to play the Seahawks, it’s difficult to even consider RB Marshawn Lynch as a flex-play this week. WR Sidney Rice looks like he will miss another game and you can’t trust WR Mike Williams or TE Zach Miller right now until QB Tavarris Jackson settles down and proves himself.
RAVENS (1-0) v. TITANS (0-1)
Well, the Ravens surpassed expectations last week by, for the most part, destroying the Steelers. Even with a couple of talented players on their team, the Titans can hardly be compared to the Steelers. So, the Ravens should continue their campaign of dominance in Week 2 with a Ravens win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Titans had a tough time stopping the run last week so RB Ray Rice, remains a must start. While the Titans did much better defending the pass, with the way the Ravens pass game got going, this is not the week to bench QB Joe Flacco (unless you really have a better option) or WR Anquan Boldin. If you are going to play just one Titan, it has to be WR Kenny Britt if only because the Ravens secondary showed it was still susceptible to the pass last week. However, treat him as a low WR2 to high WR3 for fantasy purposes. It goes without saying, that after what the Ravens did to the Steelers last week, the Ravens DST should be on fantasy gridirons.
COACH’S DECISION: RB Chris Johnson is among the very best at the running back position and he should get a good load of work this week compared to last week. However, the Ravens rush defense stymied a good Steelers rush defense and Rashard Mendenhall. If there is a week, and there are usually a couple, to consider Chris Johnson for the pine this is it, especially if you have depth at the position. Otherwise, hope for the best. WR Lee Evans was a disappointment last week, and he may be have nicked up this week. So, while there is nothing scary about this match-up, you likely have other and better options.
ON THE PINE: The Ravens did a great job getting both TE Ed Dickson and TE Dennis Pitta some work last week. Until one of them distinguishes himself, they should remain on the pine. QB Matt Hasselbeck had a decent game last week but nothing special. Against the Ravens, don’t expect much in terms of overall production. No other player on either team should be on fantasy gridirons this week.
JAGUARS (1-0) v. JETS (1-0)
Like the previous two games, we have a lesser Jaguars team facing a much better Jets team. While the Jaguars certainly showed more gusto than The Fantasy Greek expected last week, the Jets beat a much better Cowboys team at home. The Jets should win this game over the Jaguars. The Jets suffocating defense and attacking offense will do the trick.
ON THE GRIDIRON: There is no reason why RB Maurice Jones-Drew cannot post similar stats to those posted by RB Felix Jones of the Cowboys last week. However, the concern is if the Jaguars can’t get their passing game going, the Jaguars could become one-dimensional which could expose Jones-Drew to constant pressure in the running lanes. Still, Jones-Drew remains a decent fantasy start. Due to some difficulties the Jaguars have had defending the pass, QB Mark Sanchez is good for the start here if your QB1 has pulled an awfully difficult match-up. This also means WR Santonio Holmes should be on gridirons as a WR2 and Plaxico Burress can be on gridirons as a solid WR3, if you need the help. It goes without saying that the Jets DST should be active in all formats.
COACH’S DECISION: RB Shonn Greene failed to be the rushing star of the team when he was given a genuine opportunity to do so last week. While The Fantasy Greek would not blame you for avoiding Greene, this match-up still seems too good not to start Greene as an RB2 or flex-play, as the Jets look like they genuinely want to get Greene involved in the offense sooner, rather than later. TE Dustin Keller played well last week due to a TD. While he could do well again this week, there is always the possibility he disappears from the offense. That said, owners likely have a better option. The Jets need to show us that Keller will remain a consistent part of the offense before he garners regular weekly consideration.
ON THE PINE: After RB LaDanian Tomlinson posted respectable, not great, flex-play type numbers last week, it is still difficult to start him unless he begins to get featured again in the offense, which could happen. With the Jaguars facing one of the better pass defenses in the league, owners should look elsewhere for receiving options as both TE Marcedes Lewis and WR Mike Thomas will likely struggle against the Darrelle Revis led Jets secondary.
CARDINALS (1-0) v. REDSKINS (1-0)
So far, the theme has been three dominating teams facing off against what appear to be much lesser opponents. Not this game. Last week, both the Cardinals and more so, the Redskins, showed that they could be teams that will contend within their respective divisions. QB Kevin Kolb has reignited the Cardinals passing game as has QB Rex Grossman for the Redskins. Both RB Beanie Wells and RB Tim Hightower have breathed a breath of fresh air into both offenses. However, the Cardinals are traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast and for some reasons, teams doing this have a tough time adapting to the time change or travel or both. This still has the makings of a good game. But, if defense wins football games, then it feels like the Redskins should be 2-0 after Week 2.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Both RB Beanie Wells and WR Larry Fitzgerald should be on the gridiron if you own them because the Redskins can be had for some decent stats at the positions. We all know how badly Cam Newton burned the Cardinals secondary last week, which means QB Rex Grossman is a good start this week. Likewise, with the Redskins passing game going, WR Santana Moss should be able to improve on last week’s performance and TE Fred Davis, who appears to be Grossman’s second option, could put a stranglehold on the starting TE position for the Redskins. While the Cardinals rush defense looked tough last week, it was partly because the Panthers abandoned their rushing game. The Redskins won’t do that. RB Tim Hightower, and the Redskins offensive line, did well against a Giants front seven that has been tough. While the Cardinals rushing defense appears better than its pass defense, Hightower is performing at too high of a level not to be on fantasy gridirons this week.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Kevin Kolb is an option this week, but your QB1 must have pulled an awfully tough match-up to give Kolb the nod for the start. After last week’s game, WR Early Doucet is a tempting option. However, if you added him off waivers, you still likely have other receivers you can play ahead of him, at least for this week. If Doucet takes flight like he did last week, he could be getting regular gridiron starts in Week 3. The Redskins DST played really well against a good Giants offense. As such, they are a fantasy option this week if you feel you need the help.
ON THE PINE: Until TE Todd Heap can post some regular fantasy stats, he should be kept firmly planted on fantasy benches. Because TE Fred Davis has played so well since the preseason, TE Chris Cooley has hardly been involved in the offense. And, until Cooley gets involved with the offense again, owners should not consider him for the fantasy start. Both WR Anthony Armstrong and WR Jabar Gaffney looked good last week. Still, with Moss and Davis apparently being slightly ahead of them in the offense, it could be one more week before we see if either has a chance at some staying power for fantasy purposes.
RAIDERS (1-0) v. BILLS (1-0)
In this game, we have another West Coast team flying east for a 1:00 p.m. game. Both teams won least week when they were not expected to. Between the two, the Bills seem to be the better all around team on offense and defense and in all phases of the game. Besides, coming off their big win where they all but shut down an explosive Chiefs offense, it’s hard to picture the Bills losing before the home crowd. While The Fantasy Greek is a fan of the Raiders too, see the Bills winning this game and entering Week 3 at 2-0! Keep your fingers crossed Bills fans.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Both these teams are going to run the ball and pass to their running backs making both RB Darren McFadden and RB Fred Jackson must starts this week. WR Steve Johnson should be on gridirons too as at least a WR2 even against what is still a pretty tough Raiders pass defense. Owners need to monitor his injury status however, as reports indicate that a previous groin injury sidelined him from a day of practice this week.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a special game last week and many owners ran to waivers to immediately add him to rosters this week. While Fitzpatrick could continue playing that well, the Raiders are decent against the pass. Your QB1 would have to have pulled an awfully difficult match-up for Fitzpatrick to earn the start. The same can be said of TE Scott Chandler who posted a couple of TDs en route to one of the best TE performances last weekend. Still, we need to see some consistency but you could do worse. While the Raiders should be able to establish some sort of a running game, their passing game should be under fire, so if you wanna consider the Bills DST for the start, do so, because you could do worse with some of the match-ups some of the better DSTs (like the Chargers; please don’t drop them on your waiver wire) have pulled this week.
ON THE PINE: QB Jason Campbell struggled a bit last week. As it is unclear how much work RB Michael Bush will get in the offense with McFadden healthy, he should likely be avoided in fantasy for now. With the Bills playing the pass tough, it’s hard to look at any Raiders wide-out this week including WR Jacoby Ford (injured). The Raiders DST feels like an option this week, but not the best one out there. This is a week where RB C.J. Spiller could do something but let him do it from the pine.
BUCCANEERS (0-1) v. VIKINGS (0-1)
Both losses these teams experienced last weekend hurt, so obviously both teams want to win this week. However, the Vikings really looked bad as they could hardly muster any real offense albeit, against a tough Chargers defense. The Vikings have AP, but wins will not come without a three-dimensional play. One or two is not enough. The Buccaneers had a good game but still lost. Playing indoors against a team they can beat, the Buccaneers should be able to ignite their offense and work the Vikings defensively to post their first win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Buccaneers passing game pretty much revolves around QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams, and TE Kellen Winslow, and all three should be active against the Vikings who had their share of problems defending the passing game last week. Even though RB LaGarrette Blount disappointed owners last week, this is no time to abandon him. The Buccaneers admitted that they made a mistake by abandoning their running game last week. The Vikings also got smoked by the Chargers rushers. While Blount may not have his best game of the season, you have to think he’ll bounce back with a good one. With the way the Vikings offense played last week, the Buccaneers DST can be on the gridiron this week. That said, RB Adrian Peterson should do well for his owners regardless of the match-up.
COACH’S DECISION: It was really difficult putting WR Percy Harvin down as a Coach’s Decision. But, after last week’s game that left us wondering whether Harvin could flounder this season, The Fantasy Greek would blame no owner for benching Harvin this week and starting another receiver with a better match up.
ON THE PINE: Last week was not the game QB Donovan McNabb wanted to have as his first game as a Viking. Until McNabb proves himself, he is hard to play in fantasy right now. No other players on these two teams is worth fantasy consideration this week.
BEARS (1-0) v. SAINTS (0-1)
It almost feels like these two team’s records should be reversed. But, they’re not. For the most part, the Bears stymied the Falcons. But for the slow start at the beginning of the game, the Saints were right there with the Packers. Whatever the case, regardless of the Bears outstanding defense/special teams, this game has the makings of a track meet where there will be a lot of throwing of the pigskin. While the Bears could upset yet another top rated team, the thought here is the Saints are playing at home, so should have the edge. This would be a different story if the Bears and Saints played at Soldier field.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Bears RB Matt Forte should be on the gridiron as should QB Drew Brees for the Saints. With Marques Colston out for several weeks, this makes for a good start for WR Robert Meachum and WR Devery Henderson. Likewise, TE Jimmy Graham should be good for some decent yardage and even a TD. While this may not be the best game to play the Bears DST, they are hard to bench given the fact they should get some sacks, a turnover or two, and possibly a defensive TD. So, you have to keep them active regardless of the downside.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Jay Cutler looked good last week and he could look even better this week. Cutler can be on the gridiron should your QB1 have a questionable match-up. Because there is a potential for the Bears to pass more than usual, and Roy Williams looks dinged up, WR Johnny Knox is deserved of a WR3 start. Last weekend, the Bears had a tough time containing the running game. Yet, RB Mark Ingram could struggle again as he did last week and you should consider him against your other options. Indeed, RB Pierre Thomas seemed to be more involved in the Saints offense as was RB Darren Sproles. Sproles has value if your league counts kick return TDs to the player and not the defense. Thomas and Sproles would be no better than RB3s and only if you need the help. The Saints DST is a decent option this week even though they looked awful last week.
ON THE PINE: The Fantasy Greek is still not ready to give any of the other Bears wide-receivers the nod for a fantasy start.
PACKERS (1-0) v. PANTHERS (0-1)
Last week, QB Cam Newton’s rookie debut was amazing! This week, however, Newton faces one of the league’s toughest defenses, and the Panthers, defensively, one of the league’s toughest offenses. And, while the Panthers, especially Newton, may do some amazing things in this game, hard to see anything less than a Packers win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON:Aaron Rogers, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and the Packers DST should all be on fantasy gridirons, as usual.
COACH’S DECISION: Likewise, WR Jordy Nelson is worthy of a start too as a WR3 if you need the help. The match-up bodes well for RB Ryan Grant and especially, RB James Starks. If you own Starks, this is a good game to get him on the gridiron. Likewise, the Packers seem to always struggle against opposing tight-ends which means TE Greg Olsen makes for a solid fantasy start. While the Packers didn’t do a great job against the rush last week, this is likely not a good start for RB DeAngelo Williams and RB Jonathan Stewart. But, you may have to play Williams anyway.
ON THE PINE: Simply put, this is a week that QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith should be on fantasy pines. Cam Newton is not Drew Brees and the Packers DST is not the Cardinals DST.
BROWNS (0-1) v. COLTS (0-1)
Two teams with disappointing losses to start the season but for different reasons. Talent-wise, the Colts have the edge. Playing-wise, it feels like the Browns do. In a game tough to call, if the Browns can slow the game down, keep the Colts offense off the field, and generate a couple of turnovers, the Browns should win this game. The Fantasy Greek thinks the Browns can do it.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Colts struggled to stop the rushing attack of the Texans last weekend which makes RB Peyton Hillis a must-start this week. While the Colts passing game is currently struggling, WR Reggie Wayne continues to produce and should stay on fantasy gridirons. While the same cannot be said about TE Dallas Clark, the match-up is right and sooner, rather than later, one would think Clark should be in the mix again.
COACH’S DECISION: RB Joseph Addai hasn’t been a sexy fantasy play lately. Yet, the Browns allowed the Bengals to run on them last weekend which makes Addai an attractive low RB2 or flex-play this week. While you have to think the Colts will turn things around, and the Browns DST is a legitimate option with the problems the Colts had last week, it still feels like the Browns DST should be avoided in this game.
ON THE PINE: The Colts did a good job against the Texans tight-ends last weekend. While TE Ben Watson and TE Evan Moore are attractive options, it’s hard to say which will have abreakout performance. While the match-up bodes well for QB Colt McCoy and his main receiving targets, including WR Mohamed Massaquoi, this may still not be the best week to get them on the gridiron as they did well against the pass last weekend. Obviously, we are still waiting to see when QB Kerry Collins will adjust to his new team, and while he does so, WR Pierre Garcon and WR Austin Collie should remain on fantasy pines. The Browns seem to be doing a better job protecting the ball, so, among other reasons, the Colts DST should be avoided in this game.
CHIEFS (0-1) v. LIONS (1-0)
The Chiefs looked woeful last weekend while the Lions looked like the team touted by many to be a contender within the NFC North. As this game is indoors, there should be a fair amount of scoring by both teams. Right now, the Lions look like a bit too much to handle with a banged up Chiefs team looking to get back on track. Lions win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Chiefs got lambasted last weekend in the passing game which makes QB Mathew Stafford a must start this week. Indeed, besides Stafford, owners of WR Calvin Johnson and RB Jahvid Best should expect good things from them this week. Likewise, with the Bills tight-end scoring not once, but twice on the Chiefs, TE Brandon Pettigrew makes for a solid fantasy start this week. Regardless of how well the Lions defense is playing, RB Jamaal Charles should still be poised to have a decent day of production and even though WR Dwayne Bowe didn’t do much last week, he would be tough to consider benching.
COACH’S DECISION: With the way Matt Cassel played for the Chiefs last week, the Lions DST is a viable option this week for owners looking for some help. You have to like what WR Nate Burleson has been able to do with Stafford under center. Still, The Fantasy Greek feels Burleson is a good game or two away from regular fantasy consideration.
ON THE PINE: But for last week’s performance, QB Matt Cassel has a decent opportunity to do something this week. Should he do so, let him do it from the pine along with the rest and remaining players on these teams.
Good luck this week!