Week 2 Fantasy Football Matchups

To prepare you as best we can for your week of Fantasy Football, we've devised this series of previews for each NFL game. We'll give you a taste of what to expect, then rank each significant Fantasy contributor on a scale from 0-5 logos (with five logos suggesting can't-miss; a player or unit without any logos suggests you shouldn't start him under any circumstances). The rankings take the matchup into account, but injuries and other significant factors also contribute.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Get used to hearing about the Panthers running the ball, because it's going to apply every week. But this week they have plenty of reason for optimism because of their great history against Tampa Bay. You can't judge the Bucs by last week when the Browns sort of gave up on their run game; the Panthers will pound and pound with theirs until they absolutely have to give it up. DeAngelo Williams has at least 120 rush yards and two touchdowns in three of his last four against Tampa Bay. He should lead the way for the Panthers. Steve Smith used to have a brilliant track record against Tampa Bay but he had just four grabs for 82 yards in two games against them last year. If Tampa Bay hones in on the run, Smith could score in this matchup and buck the 2009 trend. The Bucs should get a pretty good effort out of Josh Freeman. Between the Panthers' weak pass rush and Tampa Bay's good enough receiving corps, Freeman should be alright. The only non-trustworthy Buc is Kellen Winslow, who has been slowed by the Panthers in the past and could struggle again here given the coverage that safety Charles Godfrey can provide. Mike Williams and Sammie Stroughter have the stuff to exploit the Panthers' secondary deep, and Freeman will have the time to do it.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Josh Freeman QB Matt Moore
Cadillac Williams RB DeAngelo Williams
Earnest Graham RB Jonathan Stewart
Mike Williams WR Steve Smith
Sammie Stroughter WR Dwayne Jarrett
Kellen Winslow TE Dante Rosario
Connor Barth K John Kasay
Buccaneers DST Panthers
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Ravens playing on a short week makes them vulnerable, especially against a team that had their way with them twice last season. But they should be able to duplicate what the Patriots did offensively to upend the Bengals and be successful. This includes a balanced attack, though Joe Flacco should find ways to test the Bengals safeties with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tight end Todd Heap. Anquan Boldin clearly has gotten acclimated to Flacco as well; another 100-yard game isn't out of the question. The Bengals will give the Ravens something they didn't see a lot of last week: Offensive overload. We'll find out just how far Cincinnati has come. Last year Baltimore was trampled by Cedric Benson, and even though he enters this game with some good history against the Ravens, he's not a perfect play simply because he couldn't establish consistency last week. Cincinnati's O-line doesn't seem to have the same grit as last year. The Ravens have had Chad Ochocinco's number for years, but Terrell Owens' size could be a mismatch for their smallish corners. If T.O. or tight end Jermaine Gresham become problems for the Ravens' secondary, the Bengals could end up doing whatever they want. Expect Carson Palmer to shoulder the load for Cincy, especially if the Ravens put up points. He's a potential high-risk/high-reward Fantasy start.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Joe Flacco QB Carson Palmer
Ray Rice RB Cedric Benson
Willis McGahee RB Bernard Scott
Anquan Boldin WR Terrell Owens
T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR Chad Ochocinco
Todd Heap TE Jermaine Gresham
Billy Cundiff K Mike Nugent
Ravens DST Bengals
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The last time these teams met, Jerome Harrison totaled nearly 300 yards with three touchdowns, Jamaal Charles had 170 total yards and a touchdown, Chris Chambers had 114 yards and a score and Matt Cassel three for over 330 yards with two scores. Not much defense. Don't expect a complete repeat. The Chiefs are coming in on a short week on the road, not a good combination. They shouldn't abandon the run at any point in this game as it's clear Charles and Thomas Jones give them the best chance to control the game and win. Tack on Dwayne Bowe giving the Chiefs' passing game a chance as a red-zone target and Kansas City could come out of this at 2-0. Of course, Harrison might have something to say about that -- there's no doubt that Cleveland will give Harrison more of an opportunity to make some plays after limiting him and watching Peyton Hillis cough up the football last week. With the passing game a mess, look for Harrison to easily be the most productive Browns player available. Just don't expect 300 total yards.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Cassel QB Seneca Wallace
Jamaal Charles RB Jerome Harrison
Thomas Jones RB Peyton Hillis
Dwayne Bowe WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Chris Chambers WR Josh Cribbs
Tony Moeaki TE Evan Moore
Ryan Succop K Phil Dawson
Chiefs DST Browns
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Cardinals are coming across three time zones to play a game at 1 p.m. ET -- they have not had much success doing this in the past. Tim Hightower will be the primary rusher again this week, but the passing game will be under the spotlight here. Despite Rashard Mendenhall's 50-yard touchdown run last week in overtime, the Falcons run defense looked good and will be up to the challenge of what the Cardinals offer. If they couldn't pound the ball against the Rams, they're not expected to be very good here. That will force Derek Anderson to put the ball in the air, and he shouldn't exactly be expected to play well because Atlanta's secondary is talented. If there's a matchup to exploit, it's Falcons nickelback Christopher Owens vs. someone like Steve Breaston, who clearly has good chemistry with Anderson. The Falcons had to get away from using Michael Turner last week and it didn't work out. This week they should be able to ride Turner and mix in their passing game with his runs. Expect the Falcons to be methodical: Work the clock with Turner and take advantage of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez's size.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Derek Anderson QB Matt Ryan
Tim Hightower RB Michael Turner
LaRod Stephens-Howling   RB Jerious Norwood
Larry Fitzgerald WR Roddy White
Steve Breaston WR Harry Douglas
Stephen Spach   TE Tony Gonzalez
Jay Feely K Matt Bryant
Cardinals DST Falcons
Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Bills have to find ways to get C.J. Spiller more involved. They really don't have a choice here -- he's the best weapon they have. The problem is that the Dolphins really exposed their offensive line last week and the Packers have even better linebackers to do the same thing. Maybe Spiller breaks a couple of decent runs, but it's hard to see their offense putting up many points against this defense. For the Packers, the loss of Ryan Grant shouldn't be felt this week since the Bills will enter the game missing several starting linebackers. Brandon Jackson is a good play here, and it's not silly to think that his backup, John Kuhn, sees a little work -- especially if this becomes a blowout. And a blowout is likely given the ability of the Green Bay offense. With Grant out, Aaron Rodgers could pass a little more than normal, which could be the case for the rest of the season.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Trent Edwards   QB Aaron Rodgers
C.J. Spiller RB Brandon Jackson
Fred Jackson RB John Kuhn
Lee Evans WR Greg Jennings
Roscoe Parrish WR Donald Driver
Jonathan Stupar   TE Jermichael Finley
Rian Lindell K Mason Crosby
Bills   DST Packers
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Bears are going to have their hands full here. Last week the Cowboys defense looked mortal thanks in part to a Redskins offensive line that played better than expected. The Bears will need a similar effort from their O-line and after watching the Lions get penetration last week the Cowboys could shred it. A strong pass rush and a quarterback taking seven-step drops typically leads to bad news. Throw in Matt Forte's suddenly sore knee and it could get messy. Forte's big Week 1 was thanks in part to some really awful play by the Lions defense -- this Cowboys defense is good and it would be a shock to see Forte produce half of what he did last week. The Cowboys will get back two starting offensive linemen, and do they need them. Alex Barron at right tackle was a big mistake last week and the team will be happy to have Marc Colombo back there. The Cowboys should be able to pull off whatever they'd like but they seem to be interested in getting Dez Bryant involved. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him play well against Chicago's secondary. The only Cowboy who is questionable is Jason Witten, who helped block last week and will probably be asked to do more of the same with Julius Peppers coming to town.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Jay Cutler QB Tony Romo
Matt Forte RB Marion Barber
Chester Taylor RB Felix Jones
Johnny Knox WR Miles Austin
Devin Aromashodu WR Dez Bryant
Devin Hester WR Roy E. Williams
Greg Olsen TE Jason Witten
Robbie Gould K David Buehler
Bears DST Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Just what we wanted to see: Shaun Hill vs. Michael Vick. The Lions are probably confident enough to trust Hill with a similar gameplan that they'd use if Matthew Stafford was healthy, but the reality is that Jahvid Best needs to do a better job reading defenses and making better runs. He'll have a chance in this matchup against the Eagles, who will likely be without their best run-stopping linebacker, Stewart Bradley. Hill also showed last week that he knows who to get the ball to -- Calvin Johnson. Expect the Eagles to double-cover Johnson (he can beat their smallish secondary) and otherwise blitz Hill hard and try to force him into mistakes. Meanwhile, Philly had to see what Matt Forte did last week as a receiver and salivate. They have several catch-and-run playmakers to give the Lions fits. With Vick under center, expect Philadelphia to keep it simple with short- and mid-range passing and just take advantage of their playmakers' speed. So long as Vick doesn't turn the ball over, he should be pretty solid and might even make a case to keep Kevin Kolb rested for another week.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Michael Vick QB Shaun Hill
LeSean McCoy RB Jahvid Best
Mike Bell   RB Maurice Morris
DeSean Jackson WR Calvin Johnson
Jeremy Maclin WR Nate Burleson
Brent Celek TE Tony Scheffler
David Akers K Jason Hanson
Eagles DST Lions
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
It doesn't get any easier for the Steelers, who may very well play this game with Flozell Adams and Jonathan Scott as their starting offensive tackles. The Titans' pass rush has been spotty, but it did account for four sacks last week vs. Oakland including one from rookie stud Derrick Morgan. They could easily harass Dennis Dixon and make moving the chains difficult for the Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall didn't do much until the final play of his overtime game last week, and the feeling here is that he'll struggle almost as much this week. He's not an optimal choice given the state of his O-line. For the Titans, the big question is whether or not Chris Johnson can make headway against this incredible run defense. In Week 1 last season the Steelers bottled him up, but he's a different back right now. He also didn't have Vince Young as his quarterback for that game, and Young's versatile play has made a difference in how defenses play the Titans. Jeff Fisher's staff has never been one to get creative offensively, but they could throw some curveballs here in the form of passing a bit more and rushing a bit less and finding ways to get Johnson (or Young) open in space. Johnson has to be considered a must-start and Young actually could find a way to be fairly productive. Toss in Nate Washington going up against his former team for the second year in a row and the Steelers will certainly have their hands full.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Dennis Dixon QB Vince Young
Rashard Mendenhall RB Chris Johnson
Mewelde Moore RB Javon Ringer
Hines Ward WR Nate Washington
Mike Wallace WR Kenny Britt
Heath Miller TE Bo Scaife
Jeff Reed K Rob Bironas
Steelers DST Titans
Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings -- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Dolphins should be glad to have Brandon Marshall in this game since their run game could be in big trouble. It's clear they're going to lean on Marshall when they need to, and this matchup suggests that Marshall will be targeted heavily. Expect 100 yards out of him and maybe some decent production out of the rest of the Dolphins' receivers. Granted, they have the linemen to move some of the Vikings' front seven around, but not enough to really expect huge numbers from Ronnie Brown. He might be as effective as he was last week. The Vikings will have 10 days to get ready for Miami, and surely they'll find holes up front and in the back of the defense to try and exploit. The Fins did a nice job against the Bills' running game last week but the Vikings are an entirely different breed, and Adrian Peterson should do just fine against them. The Vikings should lean on A.P. and ease Brett Favre into action, meaning that the passing game should be improved from Week 1 but not on the pace we saw last season. One more nuance: New Vikings receiver Greg Camarillo is familiar with the Dolphins defense as he joined Minnesota after training with Miami all summer and playing with them for years. He's a sleeper for this week, and his information to the Vikings staff will be better than what third-string cornerback Benny Sapp can give the Dolphins on his former team. Expect big improvement from the Minnesota offense.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Chad Henne QB Brett Favre
Ronnie Brown RB Adrian Peterson
Ricky Williams RB Albert Young
Brandon Marshall WR Percy Harvin
Brian Hartline WR Greg Camarillo
Davone Bess   WR Bernard Berrian
Anthony Fasano   TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Dan Carpenter K Ryan Longwell
Dolphins DST Vikings
St. Louis Rams at Oakland Raiders -- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
The Rams should ride Steven Jackson as much as his sore knee will let them as the matchup has potential for him. Still, the Raiders will probably fall into the same trap the Cardinals did in Week 1 and load up the box to force Sam Bradford to pass. Clearly, the Rams aren't afraid of that scenario. Mark Clayton can do damage so long as he's not lined up directly across from Nnamdi Asomugha, and look for Danny Amendola to continue playing a role as a short-area threat. Meanwhile, there's more coaching familiarity here as Jason Campbell will square off against a Steve Spagnuolo-led defense for the fourth time in three seasons. That's not good for Campbell as he's had two touchdowns, no interceptions and no more than 242 passing yards in any of those meetings. Considering the offense Campbell is in now, and realizing that Spagnuolo has a way of getting to him, there's not much of a chance for the Raiders' signal caller to put up serviceable stats. Even Darren McFadden's totals should be tempered with Michael Bush coming back; McFadden might still be the lead back but his reps will potentially be held down by Bush. He'd be in, lineman Robert Gallery might be out and the quarterback has a bad history. Just another bad day for The Black Hole.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Sam Bradford QB Jason Campbell
Steven Jackson RB Darren McFadden
Kenneth Darby   RB Michael Bush
Mark Clayton WR Louis Murphy
Danny Amendola WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Billy Bajema   TE Zach Miller
Josh Brown K Sebastian Janikowski
Rams DST Raiders
Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos -- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
There isn't a ton to like from the Seahawks here, but the same thing was uttered last week. For starters, they should be able to run the ball a little better. That's good for them but Fantasy owners should be bent by the fact that Pete Carroll is using three guys. Justin Forsett is still the safest bet because he's the one who is most versatile and the one with the most playing time. The passing game that opened some eyes last week could be a little more limited here as the Broncos' secondary is good at containing the opposition. They yielded three scores last week -- two to tight end Marcedes Lewis -- so it only makes sense that the Seahawks will try and utilize John Carlson in a similar fashion. The Broncos should also have a better chance running than passing, or at least a better shot at putting up yards on the ground vs. through the air. Knowshon Moreno looks pretty good this week, and while the Seahawks just might have as gritty of a secondary as the Broncos do, the short-area passing game Denver employs should be successful. Eventually, someone could break free for a long gain. Eddie Royal isn't starting material just yet but he's absolutely worth holding on to.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Hasselbeck QB Kyle Orton
Justin Forsett RB Knowshon Moreno
Leon Washington RB Correll Buckhalter
Mike Williams WR Jabar Gaffney
Deion Branch WR Eddie Royal
John Carlson TE Daniel Graham
Olindo Mare K Matt Prater
Seahawks DST Broncos
Houston Texans at Washington Redskins -- Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
The Arian Foster show was nice while it lasted, but if you expect anything beyond 100 yards and a touchdown this week you'll be disappointed. The Redskins defense made a big statement in its debut and they're going to be tough against the run. The Texans have the guns to throw the ball, of course, but there's one big problem they'll run into: Ex-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is now with Washington, and he's sure to have a good grasp on how to cover the Texans offense. Not only should the Texans throw more than run, but they'll have a far tougher time moving the chains against Washington. This is dangerous for them as the Redskins could put out a blueprint for how to knock off Houston. This isn't an excuse to sit any of the prominent Texans players, but it could be a real shocker to see the Texans roll up more than 21 points. Therein lies the problem for the Redskins -- they're not exactly a lock to get to 21 points. But Shanahan knows this defensive personnel fairly well too, and chances are they'll test the Texans run defense with Clinton Portis and also look for Santana Moss deep. Moss actually has a nice matchup against the Texans' weak secondary and should be a strong consideration this week. Chris Cooley should also find a way to make an impact, and we feel that Donovan McNabb will find the end zone for the first time as a Redskin. This should be a fun game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Schaub QB Donovan McNabb
Arian Foster RB Clinton Portis
Steve Slaton RB Larry Johnson
Andre Johnson WR Santana Moss
Jacoby Jones WR Anthony Armstrong
Kevin Walter WR Joey Galloway
Owen Daniels TE Chris Cooley
Neil Rackers K Graham Gano
Texans DST Redskins
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers -- Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
Despite David Garrard's three touchdowns last week, the Jaguars' offense will remain dedicated to Maurice Jones-Drew. The matchup isn't terrible for him and he'll be motivated to nail down a rare road win while playing back in his home state of California. The Chargers' secondary is pretty darn good (just 68 yards allowed through the air to the Chiefs) and they should match up well with Jacksonville's hodge-podge on the outside. Keep an eye on Mike Thomas, who could be Jacksonville's version of Wes Welker (inside seam receiver) as the weeks go on. The Chargers' passing game was for real in Week 1 and they should be strong again here. Love the matchup for Antonio Gates, and if the Jags defend him like the Chiefs did for the final three quarters of last week's contest, you can take Legedu Naanee and Malcom Floyd to the bank. Granted, the Chiefs double- and triple-teamed Gates and Rivers picked them apart. You can still expect the Chargers to do what they want here en route to a decent game for all parties involved. We could see Ryan Mathews' first touchdown and potentially 100 total yards since he'd get extended reps if the Chargers built a big lead.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
David Garrard QB Philip Rivers
Maurice Jones-Drew RB Ryan Mathews
Rashad Jennings   RB Darren Sproles
Mike Thomas WR Legedu Naanee
Mike Sims-Walker WR Malcom Floyd
Marcedes Lewis TE Antonio Gates
Josh Scobee K Nate Kaeding
Jaguars DST Chargers
New England Patriots at N.Y. Jets -- Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
The Patriots will get it done here through the air, though the player most likely to lead the way is Wes Welker, not Randy Moss. The Jets have had problems with the Pats' short-area passing game in the past and chances are New England will focus on beating the Jets up the middle of the field with Welker and their rookie tight ends including Aaron Hernandez, who has sleeper written all over him this week. Randy Moss is a real question mark: His recent history against Darrelle Revis (who will be all over him) suggests he'll struggle, but a week after venting about his contract to the media could result in him letting off some steam with some impressive plays. There's risk and reward there, and with the Patriots possibly going away from Revis like most teams do, Moss could be an eyesore for Fantasy owners. The Jets are in trouble in this game as their offensive line clearly isn't as good as it was a year ago and the Patriots run defense isn't going to fear them one bit. Bill Belichick's big men up front opened eyes last week when they held Cedric Benson to roughly three yards per carry; tack on LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene splitting reps and it looks like they'll cannibalize each other's stats. Not good for Fantasy owners, and it's not good for anyone to expect the Jets to throw the ball well here as the Pats' secondary matches up well with Mark Sanchez. It was clear against Baltimore that Sanchez is still getting a feel for the game. If there's one perk he has, it's that the Patriots' pass rush still has some work to do, so he could get a little more time to throw compared to what he had last week.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Tom Brady QB Mark Sanchez
Fred Taylor RB Shonn Greene
Kevin Faulk RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Wes Welker WR Jerricho Cotchery
Randy Moss WR Braylon Edwards
Aaron Hernandez TE Dustin Keller
Stephen Gostkowski K Nick Folk
Patriots DST Jets
N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis Colts -- Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Expect the Giants to try and run the ball here for obvious reasons. The Colts couldn't stop the ground game last week, and the more they run the ball, the less time Peyton Manning will have time to play. Controlling the clock and attempting to repeat what Houston did in Week 1 will go a long way. Both running backs should do well. The matchup isn't quite as good for Eli Manning as the Colts have the secondary to match up well with the Giants, especially with Kevin Boss a non-factor. Indianapolis should wind up running more than it did last week but not much more. There could be some allure to running when they see rookie defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul lined up as an inside rusher, and Peyton Manning might check out of passes for running plays there. Otherwise, the Colts will take to the air, especially in two areas: Deep passes and short inside routes. That's sort of par for the course for Peyton &Co., but they should be just as successful here as they were last week, statistically speaking.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Eli Manning QB Peyton Manning
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Joseph Addai
Brandon Jacobs RB Donald Brown
Hakeem Nicks WR Reggie Wayne
Steve Smith WR Pierre Garcon
Mario Manningham WR Austin Collie
Travis Beckum TE Dallas Clark
Lawrence Tynes K Adam Vinatieri
Giants DST Colts
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers -- Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Do trap games exist in Week 2? We'll find out since the Saints have to be eying a matchup vs. the Falcons in Week 3. They cannot overlook a 49ers team that was completely embarrassed at Seattle last week in a nationally televised game. The Saints are going to have to lean on Drew Brees here, something the 49ers won't be able to entirely stop because they're not deep enough in the secondary. The matchup for Pierre Thomas doesn't look convincing -- he could score but his rushing yardage shouldn't be huge. You can find better this week. The Niners have to get Frank Gore going, though the Saints are sure to load up as best they can to slow him down and smack around the Niners' offensive line. Alex Smith turned to mush last week after starting fairly strong against the Seahawks, but he'll find good matchups for tight end Vernon Davis, and that should help him get comfortable. Bottling up Gore and Davis is a tall order for a Saints defense that had a hard time with Adrian Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe 10 days ago, making this a tough matchup -- but a winnable one -- for the defending champs.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Brees QB Alex Smith
Pierre Thomas RB Frank Gore
Reggie Bush RB Anthony Dixon
Marques Colston WR Michael Crabtree
Robert Meachem WR Josh Morgan
Jeremy Shockey TE Vernon Davis
Garrett Hartley K Joe Nedney
Saints DST 49ers
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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