Week 2 Preview: And the Fun Don’t Stop
For the first week of football there is this emotional buildup followed by a crescendo of mind blowing sports action. After Monday passes, the novelty of football’s return can wear off. Well my friends, take three Advil, drink some water, and shed that hangover. There is plenty more fun to be had. Time to grab a fresh can of ice-cold knowledge.
Players to Watch
C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills, RB)
Week 1, Fred Jackson goes down. Well, it’s a good thing the Bills drafted Spiller in 2010. Spiller exploded in his first game after the injury to Jackson, rushing for 169 yards (Week 1 leader) on just 14 carries. He goes up against a Chiefs defense that only gave up 84 yards total on the ground, but got gashed by the pass. Spiller is an effective receiver out of the backfield as well. Look for him to potentially take a screen pass for long yardage, or to the house for six.
Wes Welker (New England Patriots, WR)
The truth about Bill Belichick: Not one person on this earth knows what he is thinking. I don’t think his family knows. He probably hides game plans from them too. But the truth is, Wes was a no show last Sunday (3 Rec, 14 Yds). Josh McDaniels claims that his decreased role was due to “game planning” for the Titans. As if they needed some super secret offense for the lowly Titans? If they ran a backyard “run around until you find some space” offense, they probably still would have won by 10. Welker fantasy owners have to be nervous about what this means going forward (I took him as my number one pick in my draft… It’s a PPR league, and I had the 8th pick, I THOUGHT IT WAS A STEAL). One thing is for sure, if your name is not Tom Brady, the Patriots organization has a hard time coughing up dough, and Welker does not have a long term deal in place. Could we be seeing a decreased role due to this? I hope not or my fantasy season is over.
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons, QB)
Matty Ice took it to the Chiefs last week, throwing for 299 yards and 3 TDs. He also had 25 yards rushing for a TD as well. There has been swirling talk about Ryan, and whether he is ready to join the “elite” quarterback club (it’s an actual club… I hear they have a yearly meeting, drink scotch in dinner jackets and congratulate each other on the enormity of their successes). Ryan has the best starting receivers in the league, bar none. Rowdy Roddy White and Julio Jones provide a formidable tag team to compliment other solid options. Jones has had his coming out party and seemingly so has Ryan, but how will they produce against a better Broncos defense?
Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders, RB)
Darren “Run DMC” McFadden had only 32 yards on 15 carries last week against the Chargers. Many times, he was running 10 yards backwards to try to find some daylight. It wasn’t what he did on the ground, but in the passing game that was notable. McFadden hauled in 13 receptions for 86 yards. He was held without a home run strike last week, but we all know he has that potential. He goes up against an absolutely dismal Dolphins team (arguably the worst team in the league). Add one long run to this stat line, and McFadden is 100 yards rushing and receiving. While nothing in this league is guaranteed, the Dolphins giving up scores and yards are about as close as it gets. Run Darren, run.
Games to Watch
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 4:25 PM EST
I can’t make up my mind on this game. I’ve seen the Jets play so poorly; so many times that it’s hard to say they’ll show up. But this past weekend says otherwise. I know it was against the Bills, but the offense looked like it had some rhythm and the defense locked it down. The Bills could end up being one of the more disappointing teams in the league, and my pick of Mario Williams as a player to watch last week is bordering on shameful. All the pundits have said this game will determine if the Jets are for real. While the Jets are enthused to have found the endzone roughly 100% more than they did in the preseason, I can’t see the Steelers starting the season 0-2. The last time these two played was in 2010, and the Jets won 22-19. Perhaps they can repeat that performance.
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM EST
Last week, I almost lost the hope of repeating as survival league champion because of a horrendous showing by the Detroit Lions against the Rams. That game wasn’t even a “defensive battle”; it was just trading punts between offenses that could not make a play. Stafford was a mess to say the least and Pettigrew probably had four key drops (I lost count). I hope Schwartz put something in the Gatorade this week during practice; they are going to have to shed last week if they want a chance to contend with this 49ers team. I praised the 49ers defense in last weeks preview, but they were even better than I imagined. Patrick Willis was taking extended breathers on the sideline while NaVorro Bowman made a statement to the league. He racked up 11 tackles and picked off Rodgers once. The Lions will need more than points to contend against the 49ers, they’ll need some defense too. The 9ers put up 30 points on a Packers defense that held the Bears to 10 points. The 49ers seem like the most solid team in the league, but it is early. With Megatron on the other side of the ball, you can’t count the Lions out just yet.
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:00 PM EST
This match up is similar to the Lions @ 49ers in that one team looked great week one, and the other barely squeaked out a win against a far inferior opponent. Philly barely got through the Browns, and Michael Vick threw 4 INTs in the process. He stepped up when it mattered most, delivering a late touchdown to close it out. However, he’ll need much better play against a Ravens defense that CRUSHED a playoff team from last year. The Ravens made the Bengals look awful. Andy Dalton looked flustered, and got picked once for six by Ed Reed (of course). What was actually the most surprising event was Joe Flacco’s coming out party. He was extremely impressive connecting for 299 yards and 2 TDs. He is on the cusp of being a dependable, upper tier QB. He’ll have to prove himself against an Eagles defense that had four interceptions last week (against the rookie Weeden though).
Injuries, News, and Notes
- Kevin Kolb will start against the Patriots on Sunday… like that will make a difference (13.5 point underdog).
- Roddy White has a groin injury and was not in practice on Thursday. He’s normally good about being ready on gameday. I’d expect him to go.
- Matt Forte likely suffered a high ankle sprain in last night’s game against the Packers. Look for Michael Bush to have to step up in Chicago next week, and maybe longer.
- Dwight Freeney, the once explosive DE in Indy, will not go due to an ankle injury against the Vikings.
- Ryan Mathews might actually play on Sunday for the Chargers. He claims he is “right where he needs to be” in terms of playing on Sunday. However, he is not the team doctor. Stay tuned.
- Pierre Garcon was “very limited” in practice on Thursday. The coaches are unsure of his status for Sunday against the Rams. This could be a fantasy killer if he doesn’t go; this is a favorable match up