Can you hear the footsteps? No, they're not Allen Barbre's feet shuffling trying to stop Mr. Ogunleye. They belong to Chansi Stuckey dashing to the end zone, John Carlson rumbling down the middle of the Rams defense and Clinton Portis sprinting down the sideline just one time against a stingy and blue Giants defense.
OK, who am I kidding? My other picks weren't that great, but Vince Lombardi put it best when he said: "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."
So what's in store for this week? I have added a few new features, but you'll solid analysis, including a look at Brett Favre against the Lions with the RapidDraft.com experts.
Week 2 Player Watch
Kurt Warner: The Cardinals defense did its job by holding Frank Gore to 1.4 yards per carry, but I'm not so sure you can say the same for the Cardinals quarterback. From the little that I saw of the game last week, Warner looked old, slow, and just flat uncomfortable in the pocket against a scrappy 49ers defense. It was like he couldn't find an opening in the secondary unless he had a clear throwing lane. It doesn't get any easier for Warner and the offense as the Cardinals travel to Jacksonville for Week Two. Warner has to pull a Manning-to-Wayne and get Fitzgerald the ball constantly if fantasy owners want to see the numbers they expect to see out of the aging signal caller.
Adrian Peterson: After steamrolling, stiff-arming and high-stepping past the Browns defense, the Vikings running back will have the daunting task of running past the Detroit Lions. The good news for fantasy owners is that Peterson is not only red hot (as usual) but he rushed for more than 100 yards in both games against the Lions in 2008. The bad news is that he didn't record a touchdown against the roar-less NFC North rival last season. I suspect that he will be everyone's pick as the lock of the week, period.
Terrell Owens: The usually boisterous Owens was quiet and cool in the locker room after the Patriots held him to just two receptions for 46 yards on Monday night. Surprising, considering that he didn't even catch his first Trent Edwards pass until almost the end of the third quarter, while Randy Moss was working on a 12-reception 2009 debut. This week, the Bills will host the Buccaneers, a team that allowed Tony Romo to go nuts to the tune of 353 yards and three touchdowns. I suspect that Edwards will want to target Owens more than three times against what looks to be a very poor pass defense, otherwise we may just see the darker side of the aging diva.
On the Injury Front
There were a few injuries from Week One that fantasy owners need to be watch. The three most noteworthy involve Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson and Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. McNabb suffered a fractured rib after running his way in to the end zone against the Panthers. Word out of Philadelphia is that McNabb has not been practicing, but is progressing somehow. It remains to be seen if he'll start on Sunday against the Saints. If he can't go Kevin Kolb should start, even in light of Jeff Garcia being signed by the team earlier this week.
Out west, the Chargers may have to play without their star runner this week against the Ravens. The severity of Ladainian Tomlinson's ankle injury is yet to be determined, but after seeing what Darren Sproles did while he was out during the game-winning drive against the Raiders I don't think the Chargers will hesitate to keep Tomlinson on the bench if they feel the need, especially with Ray Lewis lurking on the other side of the ball.
Finally, the Colts quarterback Peyton Manning may have to get creative with inexperienced talent moving forward as Indy's version of "Gonzo" could be out for an extended period of time after severely injuring his knee. Those two inexperienced talents -- Pierre Garcon and rookie Austin Collie; two names that fantasy owners should get to know and keep a close eye on. Other Injuries: Hakeem Nicks (foot, out 2-3 weeks), Brian Urlacher (Wrist, out for the season), and Troy Polamalu (Knee, out 3-6 weeks).
Week 2 Obvious Starts
Quarterback: David Garrard vs. Arizona -- Last season the Cardinals traveled east four times. In those four games, their defense allowed an average of 285.5 yards and 3.75 touchdowns per game. Garrard, last season, recorded 1,903 and eight touchdowns at home; two of those games were against NFC opponents where he averaged 277.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Do I have to say anymore?
Running back: Mewelde Moore vs. Chicago -- The door is open for Moore after a porous week one performance by starter Willie Parker. Better yet is Moore's 5.8 yards per carry career rushing average against the Bears. Moore has proven in the past that he can shoulder the load for the Steelers and he'll do it once again.
Wide Receiver: Nate Burleson vs. San Francisco -- Coach Mike Singletary will make sure that his best cornerback, Nate Clements, is stuck like glue to TJ Houshmandzadeh, which will force Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to throw in the direction of Burleson. Don't expect a huge game, but six or seven receptions for 90-plus yards and a touchdown are definitely possible and at the same time worth a start.
Tight end: Chris Cooley vs. St Louis -- Last week, Seahawks tight end John Carlson had a career day against the Rams linebackers and safeties. Against the Giants, the Redskins offense looked defeated at times in week one, but was charged late by Chris Cooley. The Redskins also haven't forgotten the embarrassing loss to the Rams last season and will be ready to pile on the points this week. Look for Cooley to not only build off his performance last week, but be the primary target for Jason Campbell.
Quarterback: Jay Cutler vs. Pittsburgh -- Yes, besides his four interceptions, his performance last week wasn't that bad, but this week he'll face an even tougher task of dissecting the fast and chaotic Steelers defense. Don't give up on Cutler altogether, but if possible keep him out of your lineup this week.
Running back: Julius Jones vs. San Francisco -- Jones is coming off a 117-yard performance, but keep in mind that was against St Louis; the same Rams team that Jones rushed for 100-plus yards against in 2008 (1 of his 2 100-yard games all season). The 49ers are a scrappier defense that will force the Seabirds to throw the football.
Wide Receiver: Lee Evans vs. Tampa Bay -- Fantasy owners should be drooling over Evans after seeing what Patrick Crayton was able to do to the Buccaneers defense. Keep in mind, however, that the Bills will probably focus on getting TO the ball more than twice, as noted above. In fact, it is my belief that a TO temper-tantrum will come unless he gets every last ball, which ultimately makes Evans an afterthought this week. In his only game against Tampa Bay, Evans caught one pass for 12 yards, and that was without Mr. Owens.
Tight End: Jeremy Shockey vs. Philadelphia -- Yes, Drew Brees is unbelievable, but based on the Eagles performance in week one their defense right now is 30 teams better than the Lions‘ version. Shockey will not catch two touchdown passes this week. I repeat -- put Shockey on your bench if you have a better option.
RapidDraft writers Eric Huber, Matt Schauf, and Frank Mazzola put their knowledge to the test and give you their insight on three burning fantasy questions heading into what looks to be an exciting, story-filled 2009 season:
1) After seeing what Drew Brees did against the Lions last week would you consider starting Brett Favre this week, even if he was your back-up to an elite quarterback?
Huber: I would start him only if he's paired on my fantasy team with another low-end starter and not guys like Drew Brees or Tom Brady. This week is going to be all about Mr. Peterson again. Schauf: Favre isn't my No. 1 starter for the week, but I certainly think he can score among the top five. I'd start him over almost all others. Mazzola: No. Adrian Peterson commands too much of this offense's focus for Favre to accomplish what Brees did. Play your elite quarterback instead.
2) Who is one player who will surprise in Week Two, good or bad? Explain why.
Huber: Ahmad Bradshaw is the name I keep hearing. After seeing what Tampa Bay did against the Cowboys defense last week, I can't see why the Giants can't do the same only at a higher level. Back-up Danny Ware is out, so this is Bradshaw's best chance to breakout, and I say he does it with former Giant Derrick Ward looking on across the field.
Schauf: Chester Taylor will present starter value this week against the Lions. He was the most targeted receiver for the Vikings in Week 1. All he has to do is find the end zone once.
Mazzola: Reggie Wayne will surprise, but not in a great way. Sure, he's going to get just about all the WR looks now that Anthony Gonzalez is down, but don't you think the Dolphins know that as well? Stopping him will be the biggest priority of their game plan.
3) Is now the time to trade for Adrian Peterson? How much are you giving up for him? Explain.
Huber: The guy is unbelievable, so I don't know of too many people who would be willing to trade him from their teams. To answer the question -- No, now is not the time to trade for Mr. Peterson. I would wait until his value comes down a bit, and that may not be until he has one or two bad weeks. Right now, you would have to give up at least a first and third round player along with maybe another starter at one of the prime positions (QB, RB, WR).
Schauf: Um, what owner is going to be willing to give him up?
Mazzola: Good luck trying to trade for "All Day." I would think that the cost would be prohibitive... I'm not giving up an elite quarterback or wide receiver plus a couple of other good players (which is what I believe it would take) for one guy. To me, having your roster strong in all areas trumps having the best player at one position.
4) Name your "best" and "bust" starts at each position (QB, RB, WR, TE).
Huber: QB -- Best: Aaron Rodgers, Bust: Jay Cutler RB -- Best: Adrian Peterson, Bust: Cadillac Williams WR -- Best: Calvin Johnson, Bust: Marques Colston TE -- Best: Owen Daniels, Bust: John Carlson
Schauf: QB -- Best: Peyton Manning, Bust: Matt Schaub RB -- Best: Adrian Peterson, Bust: Mike Bell WR -- Best: Reggie Wayne, Bust: DeSean Jackson TE -- Best: Chris Cooley, Bust: Benjamin Watson
Mazzola: QB -- Best: Peyton Manning, Bust: Matthew Stafford
RB -- Best: Adrian Peterson, Bust: Kevin Smith
WR -- Best: Greg Jennings, Bust: Dwayne Bowe
TE -- Best: Tony Gonzalez, Bust: Dustin Keller
Week 2 Fantasy Game Breakdown: Cincinnati vs. Green Bay
So, Chad Ochocinco thinks he's going to win a battle with Nick Barnett; that's laughable! What else is in store for this, all of sudden, exciting fantasy showdown? How about a leap of faith, more productive quarterback play, or an early season shootout? We'll see. In the meantime, here's what I expect in this showdown this week from a fantasy standpoint.
Quarterback : Carson Palmer vs. Aaron Rodgers -- Both quarterbacks looked uncomfortable last week, but it was Rodgers who was triumphant on the field in the season opener while Palmer was left weeping on the sidelines. I still believe Rodgers will have an unbelievable season and it starts this week. I'm taking Rodgers all day!
Running back: Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant -- If Packers and fantasy fans are wondering why Allen Barbre will start this week at right tackle, consider Ryan Grant. Last week Grant rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries (3.8 yards per carry), while Forte struggled to find any running room at all for the Bears. Twenty of Grant's rushing yards came on two plays designed to the right over Barbre, but wait, it gets better. After running for 17 yards on one play on a second quarter drive, Grant went to that same side and dashed for 25 yards, before having it called back due to a Jason Spitz holding penalty. So what am I saying? I'm saying I'm taking Grant in this game; maybe because of Barbre (oh, the irony). The Bengals rushing attack will not only struggle, it will be stopped dead.
Wide Receiver: Chad Ochocinco and Chris Henry vs. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver -- As noted above, Ochocinco is already running his mouth, but I believe he could just make a leap of green and gold faith as promised. However, I can't deny the facts, and the facts are that Greg Jennings is a better start than the always entertaining No. 85, and Donald Driver is a safer start than the up-and-down (on and off the field) Chris Henry. I expect a wild Lambeau shootout, but the Packers receivers will most likely fire most of the fantasy shots.
Tight End : Daniel Coats vs. Donald Lee/Jermichael Finley -- Daniel Coats is just getting his NFL feet wet due to several injuries to his competition and hasn't garnered his quarterback's trust quite yet. At the same time, Lee and Finley haven't done much to prove their starter worthy just yet in the fantasy world either. My suggestion -- play another option altogether if you have one.
2009 NFL Defensive Ranks
Cincinnati -- RushYards/Game: 10th. PassYards/Game: 18th. Points/Game: 7th.
Green Bay -- RushYards/Game: T15th. PassYards/Game: 23rd. Points/Game: 10th.
Enjoy the Packers-Bengals game and any other NFL games that you decide to enjoy in week two. Good luck.