Monday, September 26, 2016

Defenses have their day

They say defense wins championships.

“They” obviously don’t play fantasy football.

By definition, the game we love so much is almost exclusively driven by offense – sorta like the Lions – with just one of eight or nine slots typically reserved for a team defense. Often selected in the last round or two of the draft, many players tend to view defenses as interchangeable on a weekly basis, based on matchups and which units are trending up.

Case in point: just watch the scramble for Kansas City’s defense on this week’s waiver wire.

Indeed, for one weekend, at least, several defenses demanded their due.

At the top of the heap were the ball-hawking Chiefs, whose eight-turnover, two-touchdown, three-point-yielding pummeling of the Jets produced enough points to offset a career day by the weekend’s top fantasy wideout, Marvin Jones.

The Vikings continued their early-season dominance by sacking Cam Newton an incredible eight times – one of which was a safety – picking him off thrice, taking a punt return to the house and holding one of the NFL’s top offenses to 10 stinking points. Kelvin Benjamin might as well have stayed home for the day.

New England’s defense shut out, and embarrassed, the Texans on Thursday night. The Bills picked off Carson Palmer four times, sacked him five times and returned a botched field goal for a score.

Defenses don’t win fantasy championships. But in any given week, they sure can propel you to victory.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. Two rookie quarterbacks are raising eyebrows across the league, but only Wentz currently looks like someone you can count on for consistent fantasy production. Like Dak Prescott, he has yet to throw an interception; but unlike the Cowboy rookie, Wentz has thrown TD passes in each game (five so far) and he’s looking downfield frequently. He’s not yet ready for fantasy primetime, but the Eagles’ future is worth stashing now for a rainy day.

Trevor Siemian, QB, Broncos. Once considered simply a placeholder until rookie Paxton Lynch is ready to roll, Siemian is making his case for a longer look. His 4-TD, turnover-free performance on the road against a solid Bengals defense catapulted him onto the fantasy radar. With the Bucs and other sub-par defenses on tap, QB-challenged teams should give him a call.

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. Jeremy Langford was carted off the field Sunday night with a possible Achilles injury, leaving the backfield in the promising rookie’s hands. The Bears were in catch-up mode most of the night, so Howard’s carries were limited. But he made the most of his opportunities, including as a receiver. This should accelerate Howard’s expected ascension to the starting role over the less-heralded veteran.

Don’t be fooled

Shane Vereen, RB, Giants. He looked sharp taking over the starting job with Rashad Jennings nursing an injured thumb, but Vereen still shared carries – and short scoring runs – with Orleans Darkwa. Jennings is expected back next weekend, and the trio will be splitting touches against the fearsome Vikings defenders. I’ll pass.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns. It certainly sounds intriguing to have a receiver who also lines up as a wildcat QB and a rusher. But Pryor has done precious little in his previous four years to suggest that Sunday’s outing was more than an aberration. Miami’s defense has a way of making mediocre talents look great.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday morning observations -- Week 3

Good morning, Fools. It's another beautiful day in Fantasyland, but after last week's bloodbath, it's a rough week to be an NFL player. So many injuries, so many backups playing and so much ground to cover. Let's get started...

So far, here's who we already know will NOT play today: Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, Jamaal Charles, Ameer Abdullah, Adrian Peterson (to state the obvious), Doug Martin, Thomas Rawls, Jonathan Stewart, Arian Foster, Sammy Watkins, Donte Moncrief and Virgil Green.

There's also a very good chance that Rashad Jennings, Willie Snead, Antonio Gates, Zach Ertz and Delanie Walker will sit out. The Saints play on Monday night, so you may have to make an early call on Snead. Shane Vereen will likely carry the load for the Giants.

Alshon Jeffery, on the other hand, is planning to suit up for tonight's matchup with the Cowboys, and will try to catch passes from Brian Hoyer. There's a chance he'll be on a snap count and/or be used as a decoy though, because his knee isn't yet 100%. So if you have a safer option, it would be wise to use it. (For my part, I'm rolling with Marvin Jones in Alshon's place.)

Brandon Marshall is also expected to play, though he'll be a game-time decision with his knee and foot injuries. He, too, is expected to be on a snap count against the Chiefs.

In somewhat of a surprise, rookie Kenyon Drake will start at RB for the Dolphins today, not Jay Ajayi. So if you decided to take a flier on Ajayi, you should probably re-think that. Drake, of course, scored last week after Foster went down, but I haven't seen enough of him to feel good about recommending him in your starting lineup. He has a tasty matchup, but you figure he won't be treated like a workhorse, so it's anybody's guess.

And in case you missed it, the Bucs waived TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was charged with a DUI.

That's it for this morning. I'll be tweeting inactives and late-breaking news in a bit. Good luck today, Fools.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 3 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and DeAngelo Williams, or to bench Case Keenum and Brandon LaFell? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans vs. Raiders. Mariota is off to a so-so start to his season, but he’ll face the NFL’s passing doormats when the Raiders come to town. It’s hard to say which of his receivers, other than Delanie Walker, will prosper, but Mariota seems assured of having his best outing of the young season on Sunday.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers vs. Rams. I once proclaimed that Sims was a more talented and complete back than Doug Martin. Martin made me eat those words last season, but that doesn’t diminish what Sims brings to the table. As a potent dual threat (with nearly equal yardage rushing and receiving, but four more receiving TDs, over his career), Sims will get his chance to shine as the workhorse against a Rams defense that bounced back nicely last week after a miserable opener.

Theo Riddick, RB, Lions at Packers. Green Bay manhandled T.J. Yeldon and Adrian Peterson over the first two weeks, and they are likely to clamp down on the Lions’ running game as well. But Riddick is more deadly as a receiver – where the Packers are vulnerable – and he is likely to see a season (if not career) high in touches with Ameer Abdullah now on injured reserve.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers vs. Lions. Cobb is off to a disappointing start, with Jordy Nelson once again the apple of Aaron Rodgers’ eye. With Detroit’s porous secondary, and stingy run defense, up next, Cobb will be targeted often on Sunday. The Lions have surrendered six passing TDs already, so look for both Cobb and Nelson to add to that total.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers at Colts. The former Brown out-shined the over-hyped Tyrell Williams last weekend, reeling in six catches for 115 yards and a pair of TDs. As hot as Philip Rivers has been, and going up against Indy’s sieve-like secondary, Benjamin should continue to cement himself as heir to Keenan Allen’s lead role.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Derek Carr; RBs C.J. Anderson, Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Jeremy Maclin, Jarvis Landry, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Michael Floyd, Jordan Matthews, Michael Crabtree, Eric Decker, Marvin Jones, Willie Snead.

Roll ‘em back

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks vs. 49ers. It’s too early to press the panic button, but not too soon to put Wilson on your bench. His ankle clearly wasn’t right against the Rams, and now Doug Baldwin (knee) is limping around, too. San Francisco’s defense is vulnerable, but Wilson isn’t in the best position to take advantage.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders at Titans. Murray has been unable to distance himself from Oakland’s two other backs – DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard – who have earned enough carries to keep him from becoming a true workhorse. Facing a Titans defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing rushers so far this season, Murray’s short-term outlook isn’t getting any rosier.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings at Panthers. Why should we expect McKinnon to prosper where Adrian Peterson couldn’t? Especially against a stout defense, on the road, with Matt Asiata potentially poaching the goal-line carries? Sure, he was worth scooping up off the waiver wire, but McKinnon should be stashed on your bench this weekend.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos at Bengals. Denver is leaning on its running game as Trevor Siemian eases into his leadership role. That means there just aren’t that many passes to go around, and Sanders’ value has suffered as a result. Against a solid pass defense on the road, the wideout comes high risk for low production.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins at Giants. The big-play receiver’s production has suffered thanks to Kirk Cousins’ early-season struggles. Meanwhile, New York has coughed up just one passing TD to date, and they are shutting down the long balls that are D-Jax’s specialty. Strike three: he’s dealing with ankle and knee issues.

More thumbs down: QBs Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford, Blaine Gabbert; RBs Carlos Hyde, Matt Jones, Rashad Jennings, Jeremy Langford, Jeremy Hill, Spencer Ware, T.J. Yeldon, Justin Forsett, Fozzy Whittaker; WRs John Brown, Tavon Austin, Torrey Smith, Allen Hurns, Markus Wheaton, Vincent Jackson, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Boyd, Golden Tate, Pierre Garcon, Sammy Watkins.


Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins vs. Browns. Nobody wants to make a better impression this weekend than Ajayi, who believes he should be Miami’s starting tailback. With Arian Foster sitting out with a pulled groin, he’ll get his chance to soar against a defense that is likely to be sucking wind thanks to its offense’s ineptitude.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…continues to distrust Matt Ryan as your starter.
He is currently the top-ranked fantasy QB in the land, yet he is being started by less than half of his owners. On Monday night, he’s facing the Saints – a defense that he regularly torches. While I don’t expect Ryan to maintain this pace all season, he’s absolutely worth riding while he’s high.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 2 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Cam Newton, Panthers – Torched the 49ers for 353 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT and 37 rushing yards.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Flung it for 396 yards and 3 TDs, plus an INT.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Passed for 308 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover, before taking an early shower.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Rebounded from poor outing in the opener with 297 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, plus 25 rushing yards.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Tossed 4 TDs with just 220 yards, plus a fumble.
Derek Carr, Raiders – Passed for 299 and 3 TDs, without a turnover.

Matt Forte, Bears – Piled up 100 yards and a TD trifecta on Thursday night.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals – Just 17 rushing yards, but PPR leaguers loved his 9 receptions for 100 yards and a score, though he fumbled.

Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers – Scored twice on 7 catches for 108 yards.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – Took 6 passes for 115 yards and 2 TDs.
Corey Coleman, Browns – The rookie had his coming-out party with 5 receptions for 104 yards and 2 TDs.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – Likes his new QB, teaming for 9 receptions, 182 yards and a TD.

Greg Olsen, Panthers – Led his peers with 5 catches for 122 yards and a TD.
Martellus Bennett, Patriots – No longer just a blocker, Marty B. took his 5 receptions for 114 yards and a score.

Cardinals – Collected 4 INTs, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks, a TD on an INT return and held the Bucs to 7 points.
Broncos – Generated 5 sacks, 2 turnovers and scored TDs on both turnovers.
Panthers – Amassed 2 sacks, 2 INTs, a fumble and a TD on the fumble return.

Graham Gano, Panthers – Hit all 4 of his FGs – for 31, 39, 41 and 49 yards – plus 4 XPs.

This was a great week to play against…

Alex Smith, Chiefs – Passed for 186 yards without a score and 2 lost fumbles.
Eli Manning, Giants – Led the Giants to victory, but not his fantasy teams, with 368 passing yards, but no scores and a fumble.
Jameis Winston, Bucs – Had a miserable afternoon, passing for 243 yards and a TD, but 4 INTs and a fumble.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Passed for just 254 yards without a score or a turnover.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Amassed just 197 passing and 22 rushing yards with 1 TD but 2 turnovers.
Jay Cutler, Bears – Passed for 157 yards with 0 TDs, but an INT and a fumble. Yeah, he kinda sucks.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Managed just 26 combined yards before leaving with a knee injury.
Arian Foster, Dolphins – Shocker… He left injured after just 9 rushing yards.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Injured after losing 7 yards rushing and catching 3 balls for 15 yards.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Left injured after gaining just 16 total yards.
Ameer Abdullah, Lions – Only 38 yards before leaving with a foot injury.
Doug Martin, Bucs – Ran for 23 yards before exiting early with a bum hammy.
Danny Woodhead, Chargers – Injured his knee and lost for the year after rushing for just 27 yards.
Justin Forsett, Ravens – Ran for 37 yards and caught 3 passes for just 9 more.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Ran for 34 yards and had just 18 yards on 3 receptions.
James White, Patriots – Ran for 19 and caught 2 passes for 10 yards.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Combined for 40 yards on the day.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Just 30 rushing and 17 receiving yards (on 4 catches).
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Held in check with 22 rushing yards and 3 catches for 37 more.
T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars – Rushed for 28 yards and made just 10 yards on 8 catches.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Settled for 50 rushing yards on Sunday night.

Sammy Watkins, Bills – Hobbled around for 20 yards on 2 catches.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Caught a 9-yarder.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – He settled for 20 yards on 3 receptions.
Mohamed Sanu, Falcons – Only 19 yards on 3 catches.
Tajae Sharpe, Titans – Collected 33 yards on 4 balls.
A.J. Green, Bengals – Limited to 38 yards on 2 receptions.
Golden Tate, Lions – Took 2 passes for 13 yards.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – You can’t ask for much better than 4 receptions for 39 yards.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Just 3 for 39 yards.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Only 40 yards on 3 receptions against a team that he loves to torch.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Just 41 yards on 4 catches.
Kevin White, Bears – Notched 36 yards on his 4 receptions.


Coby Fleener, Saints – Still out of sync with Brees, catching just 2 balls for 29 yards.

Time to go to your backup plan

Uh oh. Talk about putting a damper on the debut of your glossy new stadium…

Even though he was off to a poor start to the season, the sight of Adrian Peterson being dragged off to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his right leg, had to make Vikings fans – and his fantasy owners – throw up a little in the back of their mouths.

While we don’t yet know the full extent of his injury, Peterson seems assured of missing some games. Which means Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will once again return to fantasy relevance.

One need only look to Pittsburgh and Kansas City to see how valuable the right backup in the right situation can be. DeAngelo Williams is currently the top RB in Fantasyland. Spencer Ware ranks in the top five. Both are expected to shift back to supporting roles once Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles return, respectively. But until then, the backups are racking up the fantasy points.

Now it’s McKinnon’s turn. And Jay Ajayi’s. And perhaps Charles Sims’, too.

News will trickle in over the next few days on the severity of the injuries that befell a plethora of rushers, including Arian Foster (groin), Doug Martin (hamstring), Jonathan Stewart (hamstring), Ameer Abdullah (foot), Thomas Rawls (leg) and Danny Woodhead (knee). But fantasy players may need to act on incomplete information in the interim.

Of course, the injury bug doesn’t feast only on running backs. Jets wideout Brandon Marshall suffered a knee injury on Thursday and could very well miss a game or two.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh McCown, backups themselves, were likewise bitten on Sunday. But their teams’ third-stringers have little, if any, fantasy relevance, beyond the impact they will have on their offenses in general, and their receivers in particular.

Fantasy owners who assembled depth on their rosters during their drafts will be rewarded now. But it should be a very busy waiver wire this week, and there’s very likely a gem or two available who could pay major dividends in the short term, if not longer.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings. Peterson’s owners were suffering enough watching their first-round pick get stuffed by the Packers, and the Titans before them. Now they’ll be scrambling to add McKinnon, who has played well in the past when called upon. Asiata is the battering ram with a history of goal-line vulturing, but McKinnon is the shiftier, speedier back who can rack up the yards and big plays.

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Panthers. Famously fragile Jonathan Stewart pulled a hammy against the 49ers, leading to a career-best 100-yard rushing performance from third-stringer Fozzy Whittaker in his absence. But Artis-Payne, a healthy scratch on Sunday, is Stewart’s primary backup and should be the best option to step into his cleats.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins. Speaking of fragile backs…Arian Foster is hurt. Again. Ajayi is the next man up in the Dolphins’ struggling offense, for what that’s worth. He found himself in his coach’s doghouse in Week 1; but now he’ll get the chance to reclaim the starting gig he thought was his heading into the season, before Foster was signed.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers. Already owned in two-thirds of all fantasy leagues thanks mostly to his prowess as a receiver, Sims could be the team’s starting tailback if Doug Martin’s hamstring keeps him sidelined. All Sims has ever needed was a chance, and it could be coming as soon as Week 3.

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns. The rookie had his coming-out party on Sunday and is available in about a third of all leagues. Though he’s facing the possibility of playing catch with fellow rookie Cody Kessler, Coleman is a playmaker. And fellow Baylor wideout Josh Gordon will be back on the field in three weeks to take the pressure off.

Don’t be fooled

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks. Thomas Rawls suffered a leg contusion on Sunday, giving Michael another chance to stake his claim to the lead rushing role. But Michael has flamed out too often for me to justify recommending him, and his offense has looked uncharacteristically lame over the first two weeks.

Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots. He benefitted from the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but the entire team could suffer with Jacoby Brissett (or a free agent signee) under center for the next couple of weeks. Amendola has a history of big games, followed by disappearances, followed by the inevitable injury. Don’t bother.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Lions. He reeled in his first TD as a Lion, and had another score nullified by a holding penalty. But he’s still the third wide receiver in this offense, and he will do more harm to Golden Tate’s value than he’ll add to your fantasy team.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday morning observations - Week 2

Good morning, Fools. It's another glorious day in Fantasyland, as we set our sights on continuing our unbeaten streaks, or getting off the schneid. Either way, it's time to dominate.

Let's take a quick stroll across the NFL landscape...

Will he or won't he? That is the question in New England, as Rob Gronkowski is getting closer to his return. According to Ian Rapoport, Gronk is not likely to play, though he will workout pre-game. So anything can happen. But as of now, you'd better make alternate arrangements.

We saw last week that Marty B -- at least while Gronk is out -- is little more than a glorified blocker. So look elsewhere for help. Zach Ertz is out, too.

Jamaal Charles is also expected to sit out another week, letting Spencer Ware test his luck with the tough Texans defensive line.

Demaryius Thomas (hip) should play against Indy.

Another week without Chris Ivory means another week for T.J. Yeldon to try to distinguish himself. I expect more mediocrity today, though he has a decent matchup.

In Miami, Jay Ajayi is out of his coach's doghouse and will suit up, though Arian Foster (hamstring) will surely carry the bulk of the workload against the Pats. DeVante Parker is expected to make his 2016 season debut, which will help the Fins, but not Kenny Stills.

Sam Bradford will also make his debut as the Vikings QB today. Again, very glad I'm not invested in the Minnesota passing offense. (Or any part of their offense, for that matter; though AP is welcome on the Fool's team any time.)

Russell Wilson (ankle) will suit up. I don't own him in either of my leagues; but if I did, I would start him, unless I had another elite QB like Brees, Palmer, Rodgers, etc...

One of the things I'll be looking for today is how the targets are meted out in San Diego, now that Keenan Allen is gone. I expect to see a much heftier workload for Antonio Gates, and for Danny Woodhead to prosper as well. I know lots of folks are singing Tyrell Williams' praises, but I think Travis Benjamin is the wideout most likely to benefit from Allen's absence. But, as I said, we'll see.

As a side note, Brandin Cooks and DeAngelo Williams were the top fantasy players of Week 1. Matt Forte already has laid claim to one spot this week. Who do you think stands on the podium with him? Tweet me your predictions.

That's it for now. Inactives and other late-breaking news to follow via Twitter (@ladd_biro). Go get 'em, Fools!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Week 2 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and DeAngelo Williams, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Kenny Britt? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 2 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins vs. Cowboys. Despite faring poorly as a team, Cousins still managed to pass for 329 yards against the Steelers (with two interceptions). His foes this week are much more generous, and he has a healthy DeSean Jackson – whom the Cowboys have made a very wealthy man – at his disposal. Look for a nice rebound game for the Redskins’ gunslinger.

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks at Rams. Seattle will lean on its running game more than usual as Russell Wilson is hobbling on a bum ankle. Rawls is returning to his starting job after playing a supporting role in the opener. And best of all, he’s facing a Rams defense that looked absolutely dreadful on Monday night.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles at Bears. It’s always nice to have someone going in the Monday nighter, and Mathews should pay off handsomely. He was the clear-cut leader of Philly’s backfield in the opener, while Carson Wentz showed that he can keep opposing defenses honest. Mathews will relentlessly pound a Chicago run defense that gave up 129 yards last weekend to Houston.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders vs. Falcons. Atlanta made Jameis Winston look like a Hall of Famer in the opener (and maybe he will be), so don’t be surprised if David Carr & Co. have a similarly successful outing when the Falcons travel cross country to face them in the Black Hole. Crabtree saw nine targets in Week 1 and should be busy again. Look for at least one TD apiece for him and his sidekick, Amari Cooper.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins at Patriots. I benched Landry in the opener, and the decision paid off. He’s back in my starting lineup this weekend, where he should pick up against New England where Larry Fitzgerald left off on Sunday night. Despite his mediocre output in Seattle, Landry was still targeted a healthy 10 times, and this week, that workload will pay dividends.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, David Carr, Matt Stafford, Blake Bortles; RBs C.J. Anderson, Rashad Jennings, Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller, Matt Jones, Spencer Ware, Latavius Murray, Jeremy Langford, Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, Duke Johnson; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Emmanuel Sanders, Allen Hurns, Willie Snead, Jordan Matthews, Doug Baldwin, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Marvin Jones, Jordy Nelson, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin.

Roll ‘em back

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers at Cardinals. I’m going out on a limb here. But as much as I like Winston’s chances to build on his stellar Week 1, I am very wary of him heading on the road against a proud and talented Arizona defense that was embarrassed in the opener. Winston is still young; and while he won’t be a disaster, he comes with plenty of risk.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals at Steelers. Hill has yet to have a strong outing against his division rivals, in large part due to his shared arrangement with Giovani Bernard. In tough matchups, like this weekend’s, both of their ceilings are too low to trust. The Bengals will likely abandon their running game early in a potential aerial showcase.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans at Lions. Murray continues to struggle as a runner, posting a paltry 3.2 yards per carry against the Vikings. Of course, he scored twice as a pass catcher, but that seems like an aberration. The Lions’ run defense held up well in the opener, and could make Murray’s job tough, especially since Derrick Henry will demand his touches, too.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts at Broncos. I don’t necessarily think the Denver defense will ground Andrew Luck & Co. I just don’t think any of his receivers are likely to have big games. Hilton, in particular, worries me, as he’s working through a knee issue and he’ll be blanketed by Chris Harris all day. If you have safer options, use them.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans vs. Chiefs. The rookie was one of my recommended free agent pickups earlier this week, but let him marinate on your bench for now. KC’s secondary is for real, and as well as Osweiler played in the opener, he’s not immune to a rough outing or two. This could be one of them.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford; RBs Arian Foster, T.J. Yeldon, Frank Gore, Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West, Christine Michael, Chris Ivory; WRs John Brown, Kamar Aiken, Mohammed Sanu, Pierre Garcon, Corey Coleman, Davante Adams, Kevin White, Tavon Austin, Torrey Smith, Travis Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Kenny Stills, Vincent Jackson, Stefon Diggs.


Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans at Lions. Marcus Mariota threw the rookie’s way 11 times against the Vikings. Sharpe clearly has a strong rapport with his QB, and he couldn’t ask for a better matchup to build on his salty debut. Detroit’s pass defense folded like a cheap suit against the Colts in the opener.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Russell Wilson against the Rams. Yes, he’s dealing with a bum ankle; but assuming he starts as expected, keep him in your lineup. First off, he’s facing a team that was just blown out by Blaine Gabbert. Second, if he’s healthy enough to play, he’s healthy enough get the ball to his receivers. In this matchup, he could stand in the pocket like a statue and still fling three TD passes.