Based upon each noted player’s 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 upon.
“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: Matt Cassel vs. BUF; Andrew Luck vs. MIN; Christian Ponder @ IND
Matt Cassel vs. BUF:Cassel had himself a solid fantasy outing in Week 1 against the Falcons as he threw for 258 yards and 1 touchdown, while adding another 20 yards and a score on the ground. This week he finds himself going against a Bills squad that allowed Mark Sanchez to throw for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns against them in the opener.
Taking Sanchez’s performance into account, along with the Bills lackluster defensive efforts from last season (they allowed 30 touchdown passes in 2011 – third most in the league), it’s a fairly safe assumption that Cassel will have another worthwhile fantasy outing in Week 2.
Andrew Luck vs. MIN: Andrew Luck didn’t have a great start to his NFL career, but he did manage to throw for over 300 yards and 1 score in his NFL debut. It was also a good sign for fantasy owners that he made productive use of veteran receiver Reggie Wayne (9 receptions, 135 yards receiving) and fellow rookie – and former college teammate – Coby Fleener (6 receptions, 82 yards receiving).
This week Luck faces a Minnesota secondary that allowed Blaine Gabbert to throw for 2 scores and 260 yards against them in the opener. This is the same unit that surrendered a league worst 34 touchdown passes in 2011.
Until the Vikings secondary shows they can prevent opponents from posting touchdowns against them at a rate of two per game starting the quarterback facing this unit will continue to be a safe fallback option whenever your weekly starter isn’t a viable option.
Red Light: Matt Schaub @ JAC; Ben Roethlisberger vs. NYJ; Mark Sanchez @ PIT
Matt Schaub @ JAC: The Jacksonville Jaguars defense ranked among the NFL’s better units last season both in terms of passing yards allowed per game (208.8, 8th best in the league) and touchdowns surrendered (21, 9th best in the league). They allowed second year pro Christian Ponder to pass for 270 yards in the opener, but they also kept him from connecting with any of his targets in the end zone.
Given the Texans shift towards being a bit more of a run oriented offense the last two years – thanks to the emergence of Arian Foster – and the fact the Jaguars D has done a pretty good job as of late preventing opposing quarterbacks from racking up fantasy points against them, Schaub doesn’t appear to be a great option for fantasy owners this week.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. NYJ: Roethlisberger had a decent fantasy showing Sunday night against the Broncos (245 passing yards, 2 touchdowns), but it wasn’t outstanding. In Week 2 he goes against a Jets secondary that was one of the best at defending the pass last season (201.0 passing yards allowed per game – 5th best in the league; 15 touchdown passes allowed – 2nd best in the league).
New York limited Ryan Fitzpatrick to 195 passing yards in the opener. They did yield 3 touchdown passes to the Bills signal caller, but it’s worth noting 2 of those touchdowns came in the fourth quarter well after the game was out of reach. Perhaps more importantly, they were both scored after Darrelle Revis had left the game with a head injury.
Most reports are listing Revis’ injury as a “mild concussion” although some outlets have stated that is not the case. Either way, as of now it sounds like there is a fair chance Revis will be good to go against the Steelers. Pay attention to whether he participates in practice later in the week, however.
If Revis doesn’t play then Roethlisberger becomes a fair starting option, but as of this writing I believe Revis will be on the field come game time.
Yellow Light: Joe Flacco @ PHI (b);Carson Palmer @ MIA (s); Robert Griffin III @ STL (b)
Green Light: BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. CLE; Alfred Morris @ STL; Reggie Bush vs. OAK; Stevan Ridley vs. ARI; Doug Martin @ NYG
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. CLE: I had Green-Ellis marked as a worthy starter this week regardless of how he performed against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. That said, his impressive prime time debut as a Bengal (18 carries, 91 yards, 5.1ypc, 1 touchdown) against a defensive unit notoriously known for its ability to stop the run simply makes him that much more of an intriguing option in Week 2.
This coming Sunday Green-Ellis has a home contest against a Browns squad that just allowed 110 rushing yards on 20 carries to LeSean McCoy. Granted, McCoy is one of the best backs in the league, but when you combine his performance with Green-Ellis’ impressive outing against the Ravens and the fact the Browns were poor against the run in 2011 (they allowed 147.4 rushing yards per game, ranking 30th in the league) it stands to reason that “The Law Firm” will have his second straight starter worthy outing.
Alfred Morris @ STL: My gut tells me RG3 may be in for a difficult outing following his impressive NFL debut against the Saints, but fellow rookie Alfred Morris stands a better chance at repeating the success he had last Sunday.
Morris received the much “ballyhooed” start in the Washington backfield during the opener and made the most of his opportunity. He carried the ball 28 times for 96 yards and punched it into the end zone on two occasions.
While Mike Shanahan has frustrated fantasy owners with the handling of his running backs over the years, one week into the 2012 season it appears he may have settled on using a primary ball carrier – at least in the early goings anyway.
St. Louis’ defense played well enough to keep them in a tight contest against the Lions last week, but ultimately they still surrendered 355 passing yards to Matthew Stafford and surrendered 4.8ypc to Kevin Smith on his 13 carries (Smith also had 1 rushing touchdown).
This is the same defensive unit that allowed 152.1 rushing yards per game in 2011 (31st in the league) and 17 rushing touchdowns (5th most in the NFL). As long as Morris doesn’t fall victim to “Shanahan’s Shenanigans” in Week 2 he should have himself another relevant fantasy outing.
Red Light: Kevin Smith @ SF; Marshawn Lynch vs. DAL; Trent Richardson @ CIN; Shonn Greene @ PIT; Michael Turner vs. DEN
Kevin Smith @ SF: Kevin Smith provided a strong outing for those who started him last week as he combined for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns (he also had 4 receptions for those PPRers out there), but chances are he won’t have nearly as much success against the 49ers in Week 2.
San Francisco finished their 2011 campaign limiting opponents to just 77.2 rushing yards per game. They also yielded just 3 rushing touchdowns over the entire course of the regular season. In the opener last week they held Cedric Benson to just 18 yards on 9 carries.
The Packers ground game isn’t one to be feared, but given the numerous injuries Detroit has dealt with at the position in recent years neither is theirs. As such it is recommended Smith is placed on your bench this Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch vs. DAL: Lynch brushed aside his back spasm issues to turn in a respectable 97 all-purpose yard outing against the Cardinals on Sunday, but from a fantasy perspective his production was somewhat lacking. He goes into Week 2 preparing for a road game against the Dallas Cowboys.
While Ahmad Bradshaw managed to finish with a solid performance (93 total yards, 1 touchdown) against Dallas in the opener, in truth he was bottled up for most of the afternoon. His touchdown run came from 10-yards out thanks to a nice play call by Kevin Gilbride which looked to catch the Dallas defense completely off guard (they seemed to be defending the pass all the way on the play).
He then scampered for 33 yards later in the game which made his rushing totals appear to be more complete than what they really were (without the 33-yarder he had 16 carries for just 45 yards).
When taking these factors into account, along with the fact Dallas played the run quite well in 2011 (they allowed just 99.1 rushing yards per game and only 10 rushing touchdowns for the season), it’s hard for me to envision Lynch having a performance that amounts to anything better than produced last week.
If that stat line appeals to you than go ahead and use him. If it doesn’t however, then I’d suggest going with a different option.
Yellow Light: C.J. Spiller vs. KC (s); Ahmad Bradshaw vs. TB (b); Pierre Thomas @ CAR (s)
Green Light: Randall Cobb vs. CHI; Dexter McCluster @ BUF; Lance Moore @ CAR; Randy Moss vs. DET; Michael Crabtree vs. DET; Vincent Jackson @ NYG
Randall Cobb vs. CHI: The thoughts behind starting Randall Cobb this week are pretty simple. He impressed with the opportunities he was given as a rookie in 2011 and got off to great start this season hauling in 9 receptions for 77 yards in the opener.
That alone wouldn’t make Cobb a clear starting option heading into Week 2, but with Greg Jennings nursing a groin injury he becomes an intriguing option – especially in a PPR scoring format.
If Jennings is cleared to play, however, then Cobb may not be worth the start. But with the Packers playing Thursday night Jennings has a short week to recover from the injury making it less likely he will get on the field.
As of this writing I’m inclined to think the veteran receiver will not play against the Bears, but that is far from definitive so it’s a situation you’ll have to monitor up until game time.
Dexter McCluster @ BUF: I must admit that starting Dexter McCluster feels like a risky proposition, but in a PPR format I’d be willing to give him a go this week.
McCluster was drafted as a versatile player early in the second round of the 2010 draft with expectations he could help the Chiefs in a variety of ways. Not only was he viewed as a capable return man, but he was looked upon as an offensive acquisition that could play both wide receiver and handle a few carries out of the backfield from time to time.
When Jamaal Charles was lost for the season early in 2011 McCluster he was relied upon to play a significant role at running back and had a moderate level of success (4.5ypc, 516 rushing yards; 46 receptions, 338 receiving yards; 2 touchdowns combined). With Charles back in the fold, however, and the acquisition of Peyton Hillis in the offseason, McCluster can now function as the slot receiver where he appears to be best suited.
He recorded 6 receptions for 82 yards in the opener against the Falcons while being targeted 10 times. As such, he could be a worthwhile play in Week 2 going against a Buffalo defense which had difficulties controlling the non-lethal aerial attack of the New York Jets.
Red Light: Anquan Boldin @ PHI; Santonio Holmes @ PIT; Torrey Smith @ PHI; Laurent Robinson vs. HOU; Greg Little @ CIN
Anquan Boldin @ PHI: Boldin had a nice start to his season (4 receptions, 63 yards, 1 touchdown), and I expect he will post better numbers throughout the year than most have anticipated, but his Week 2 match-up against the Eagles doesn’t appear to be a good one for him.
Philadelphia has one of the best pass rushes in the league, and that combined with the efforts of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are going to make them fierce competitors against the pass.
The additions of DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks at the linebacker positions this offseason have also betteredPhiladelphia’s defensive unit as whole. They didn’t face much of a challenge in shutting down the Browns last Sunday so the Ravens offense will be a much greater gauge of how fearsome the Eagles D will actually be, but if you can avoid playing Boldin this week I would suggest doing so.
Yellow Light: Greg Jennings vs. CHI (b); Mike Wallace vs. NYJ (b); James Jones vs. CHI (s); Donald Jones vs. KC (s); Andrew Hawkins vs. CLE (s); Donnie Avery vs. MIN (s); Andre Roberts @ NE (s); Brandon Lafell vs. NO (s)
Green Light: Coby Fleener vs. MIN; Kyle Rudolph @IND; Martellus Bennett vs. TB; Greg Olsen vs. NO; Owen Daniels @ JAC; Jared Cook @ SD
Coby Fleener vs. MIN: Fleener made an impressive rookie debut last week as he hauled in 6 passes on 10 targets for 82 yards. Those types of numbers suggest he will clearly be a valued member of the Colts offense right off the bat.
This Sunday he’ll be facing a Vikings secondary which is very unproven when it comes to defending the pass. They ranked 26th in the league in passing yards allowed per game in 2011 (251.2) and proceeded to allow Blaine Gabbert to throw for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns against them in their opener.
More notably as it pertains to Fleener, Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis caught 5 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota last Sunday.
When you factor all these numbers together it stands to reason Fleener will produce a starter worthy performance in Week 2 against the Vikings.
Red Light: Brent Celek vs. BAL; Marcedes Lewis vs. HOU; Dustin Keller @ PIT
Brent Celek vs. BAL: Celek had a solid start to the season with 4 receptions for 65 yards against the Browns, but he achieved those statistics in a game in which Michael Vick threw the ball 56 times.
While Andy Reid clearly prefers a pass first approach on offense, it’s very unlikely Vick will throw the ball anywhere near that amount against the Ravens. Furthermore,Baltimore’s defense is one of the better units in the league and is coming off a game in which they limited Jermaine Gresham to just 30 yards on 3 receptions.
Fantasy owners should be able to find a more reliable option than Celek for this week’s contest.
Yellow Light: Brandon Myers @ MIA (s); Scott Chandler vs. KC (s); Jason Witten @ SEA (b); Jacob Tamme @ ATL (s)