Based upon each noted players upcoming match-up they will either be given the “Green Light” (start ‘em) or the “Red Light” (sit ‘em). Individuals who fall within the “Yellow Light” category will be players facing an opponent that could be cause for concern, but not necessarily dangerous enough to outright declare the player should be benched (think of it as a “proceed with caution” warning).
The “Yellow Light” will also be applied to players who have a favorable match-up that may make them worth taking a gamble on, but aren’t necessarily options you want to rely on.
“Yellow Lighted” players with an (s) following their name are options you may consider starting if you’re in a jam. “Yellow Lighted” players with a (b) following their name are the guys you may want to consider benching even though you would normally start them.
Green Light: Andy Dalton @ WAS; Alex Smith @ MIN; Matt Cassel @ NO
Andy Dalton @ WAS: Dalton had a difficult Week 1 outing against a tough Ravens defense as he threw for just 221 yards and 1 interception with no touchdowns. He bounced back with an impressive performance last Sunday, however, in Cincinnati’s home opener against the Cleveland Browns (318 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception).
This week the Bengals signal caller faces a Redskins defense that has allowed more than 300 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes in each of their first two games of the season. Such numbers are to be expected when facing Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (like they had in Week 1), but when Sam Bradford accomplishes the same feat against you in your very next game there’s cause for concern.
The loss of Brian Orakpo (OLB) and Adam Carriker (DE) won’t make things any better for Washington’s defensive unit either, so expect Andy Dalton to have himself another strong performance when he takes the field this Sunday.
Red Light: Andrew Luck vs. JAC; Josh Freeman @ DAL; Carson Palmer vs. PIT
Andrew Luck vs. JAC: Andrew Luck has started his NFL career off on the right foot with fairly impressive outings the past two weeks, but his match-up this Sunday against Jacksonville doesn’t appear to be a good one for fantasy owners.
The Jaguars offense still leaves much to be desired, but their defensive unit was pretty solid in 2011. And while they’ve yet to prove they can stop the run in 2012, they have not yielded a touchdown pass in either of their first two games.
Because the Colts rushing attack isn’t all that effective Luck may throw the ball enough to produce in the range of 250-280 yards passing, but the odds are against him approaching the high end of that estimation. He’s also likely to throw for no better than one touchdown in this contest.
Yellow Light: Brandon Weeden vs. BUF (s)
Green Light: Andre Brown @ CAR; Alfred Morris vs. CIN; Michael Bush vs. STL (if Forte is OUT)
Andre Brown @ CAR: First things first – if Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) is declared active for the Giants game then all bets are off as far as regarding Andre Brown as a definitive start.
Secondly, even if Bradshaw is not active, there is a possibility the Giants 2012 first round pick, David Wilson, will be given an opportunity to work his way out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse after fumbling on just his second carry in the NFL against the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener.
In regards to Bradshaw it seems unlikely he will play. The Giants have been vague about the extent of his injury, but he did not participate in Tuesday’s practice. And with New York playing this Thursday night Bradshaw doesn’t have a full week to recover from his injury. At this point it seems unlikely he will play, but pay attention as to whether he participates in practice on Wednesday.
As for Wilson, his presence is somewhat of a concern, but given Brown’s impressive effort on Sunday (13 carries for 71 with 1 touchdown; 5.5ypc) it’s doubtful the first round pick will supplant him on the depth chart. The concern is that he’d make something happen on the carries he’s given which could then translate into Coughlin giving him more opportunities during the game.
While that is a possibility, it’s probably not one to be overly worried about. Brown will get his chances and as long as he performs well he should see the majority of touches this week out of the Giants backfield against a Carolina defense that hasn’t performed all that well against the run.
In 2011 the Panthers ranked 25th in the league against the run allowing an average of just over 130 rushing yards per game. Opponents averaged 4.8 yards per carry against them and punched it into the end zone 18 times.
So far this season they haven’t performed much better. Doug Martin, D.J. Ware, and LaGarrette Blount combined for 117 rushing yards against them in the opener and this past Sunday Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram totaled 163 rushing yards with a touchdown against them.
Suffice to say, if Bradshaw is out Brown stands an excellent chance of rushing for no less than 80 yards with 1 touchdown.
Red Light: Darren McFadden vs. PIT; Shonn Greene @ MIA; Michael Turner @ SD; Stevan Ridley @ BAL; Cedric Benson @ SEA
Darren McFadden vs. PIT: McFadden’s 13 receptions for 86 yards in Week 1 was great for those of you who play in PPR formats, but his run production in the early goings this year been terrible.
The focal point of the Raiders offense has managed just 54 yards on 26 carries as he tries to adjust to new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s zone-schemed run blocking system.
There is no doubt McFadden possesses the talent to break-out with a monstrous effort sooner or later, but it’s doubtful that will come this Sunday against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh’s defense is annually regarded as one of the best units in the league, and they play exceptionally well against the run. In 2011 they held opponents to less than 100 rushing yards per game while yielding just 7 touchdowns via the ground.
In 2012 they have yet to allow any one running back to total more than 64 yards against them. And while Knowshown Moreno managed a score against Pittsburghin the opener there won’t be too many backs that accomplish the same.
In a PPR league McFadden will always be worth starting as no less than a #2RB, but chances his rushing woes will continue this Sunday.
Yellow Light: Adrian Peterson vs. SF (b); Frank Gore @ MIN (b); BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ WAS (s); Pierre Thomas vs. KC (s)
Green Light: Brandon LaFell vs. NYG; Randy Moss @ MIN; Greg Little vs. BUF; Malcolm Floyd vs. ATL; Danny Amendola @ CHI
Brandon LaFell vs. NYG: LaFell had his share of productive outings last year, but his season totals weren’t the kind that make a receiver truly standout – especially one that is overshadowed by Steve Smith.
With that said, however, a keen observer would have noted that the third-year wide out managed 613 yards receiving on just 36 receptions in 2011. That’s an average of an impressive 17.0 yards per catch. In regards to that statistic alone – in order to provide some perspective – that puts him in the company of a player like DeSean Jackson.
Through the first two games of 2012 LaFell is at it again averaging 17.2 yards per catch on just 9 receptions for a total of 155 yards receiving (he also has a touchdown). And this Sunday he’ll face a Giants secondary that has surrendered yards to receivers by the boat load.
In Week 1 New York allowed Kevin Ogletree to come out of nowhere with an 8 catch, 114 yard, 2 touchdown performance. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, meanwhile, chimed in with another 8 receptions for 158 yards and a score between them.
This past Sunday it was Vincent Jackson who got the best of the Giants secondary as he totaled 5 receptions for 128 yards and a score. Mike Williams also got in on the action with 3 receptions of his own for 59 yards and a touchdown.
With all this information laid out before us LaFell owners would be hard pressed not to get him in their starting line-ups for Week 3.
Red Light: Larry Fitzgerald vs. PHI; Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. PIT
Larry Fitzgerald vs. PHI: If you are one of many owners who believe in the mantra “Never Bench Your Studs” then Larry Fitzgerald will be in your starting line-up this Sunday and no one would fault you for doing so (myself included).
If you tend to be somewhat of a risk taker however – or just plain “crazy” in the opinion of some – then benching Larry Fitzgerald against the Eagles may be a thought worth running through your mind.
While Fitzgerald did put a hurting on the Eagles last season with a 7 catch, 146 yard, 2 touchdown performance against them in Week 10 the defensive unit Arizona will be facing this time around is much improved.
In 2011 Juan Castillo was learning how to be a defensive coordinator during the season after having spent most of his career as an offensive line coach. He also had major holes at the linebacker position, and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who played out of position due to the presence of Asante Samuel) had trouble getting used to playing in a new defensive scheme.
This year Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie are performing as advertised when acquired by Philadelphia last offseason, and DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have drastically improved the linebacker unit. The Eagles also still possess one of the best pass rushes in the league.
Through two games this season the Eagles have shut down opposing wide receivers. Granted, in Week 1 they managed to do this against the less than stellar Cleveland Browns, but last Sunday they held Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith in check (along with Joe Flacco).
Furthermore, Larry Fitzgerald isn’t off to such a great start. He posted 4 receptions for 63 yards in the opener and then followed it up with 1 catch for 4 yards in a shocking win last week against the New England Patriots.
There is also one other factor that may come into play here. When Fitzgerald had his big day against the Eagles last season he did so with John Skelton at quarterback. This time around Kevin Kolb will be at the helm.
If anyone knows Kolb’s strengths and weaknesses in this league it is Andy Reid. As such he should be able to provide worthwhile information to his defensive staff as to how he feels his team can best cause Kolb to struggle.
As I said, no one would fault you for starting Fitzgerald (and he may very well have a strong outing), but based upon the match-up there is a fair chance he will have his third straight underwhelming performance to the start his 2012 campaign.
Yellow Light: Kevin Ogletree vs. TB (s); Andrew Hawkins @ WAS (s); Dexter McCluster @ NO (s); Laurent Robinson @IND (s); Reggie Wayne vs. JAC (b)
Green Light: Jason Witten vs. TB; Martellus Bennett @ CAR; Owen Daniels @ DEN; Dennis Pitta vs. NE
Jason Witten vs. TB: Under normal circumstances Jason Witten is too obvious of a choice to be noted as a starter worthy option at tight end. Given the fact he came into the start of the regular season battling a lacerated spleen, however, many owners have been hesitant to plug him into their starting line-up.
In Week 1 Witten somehow managed to will his way onto the Cowboys active roster despite the seriousness of the injury he had suffered a few weeks earlier. Not only was he active, but he started and stayed on the field throughout the entire game (being rested only occasionally). His statistics weren’t all that impressive (2 receptions for 10 yards), but the effort spoke volumes about his determination and toughness.
Due to his poor fantasy production, however, many of his owners were not willing to use him as starter last Sunday against the Seahawks.Witten had a solid outing though as he reeled in 4 receptions for 58 yards while being targeted 10 times.
This week Witten faces aTampaBay defensive unit that has surrendered passing yards by the bunches. Cam Newton averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt against them while throwing for more than 300 yards. Eli Manning then took the field against the Bucs this past Sunday and threw for more than 500 yards while averaging 10.0 yards per passing attempt.
More notably as it pertains to the Cowboys fan favorite,Tampa Bay has allowed tight ends to get involved in the feeding frenzy against them. Carolina’s Greg Olsen posted 6 receptions for 56 yards them in the opener and Martellus Bennett had a fine afternoon himself against the Bucs last Sunday with 5 receptions for 72 yards and a score.
If Bennett and Olsen can produce numbers like that then surely Tony Romo will be able to get his favorite target well involved in things against the Buccaneers as well. Look forWittento remind fantasy owners why he’s amongst the best options at the position this Sunday.
Red Light: Heath Miller @ OAK; Jacob Tamme vs. HOU; Marcedes Lewis @IND
Heath Miller @ OAK: Thanks to Todd Haley’s offensive scheme in Pittsburgh Heath Miller has enjoyed a bit of a small revival as a worthwhile option at tight end amongst fantasy leaguers. He posted 4 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and then followed it up with another score on 3 receptions for 19 yards against the Jets this past Sunday.
He faces an Oakland unit the week, however, which managed to limit Antonio Gates to for 4 receptions for 43 yards in the opener. And while Miami’s Anthony Fasano caught a touchdown against them last week he was otherwise limited to 2 receptions for 19 yards.
If you start Miller this week you’ll likely be relying him to score a touchdown for the third straight game to start the season in order for him to provide meaningful fantasy production.
More than likely though that won’t happen as the odds are not in his favor.
Yellow Light: Greg Olsen vs. NYG (s); Kyle Rudolph vs. SF (s); Scott Chandler vs. CLE (s); Coby Fleener vs. JAC (s)