By Mike Cannici
Buffalo @ Green Bay
The Bills attempt to bounce back from a tough home loss against the Dolphins this week, as they travel to Lambeau Field to face one of the elite offenses in the league. The Bills will be without star LB Paul Posluszny for a few weeks, which certainly won’t help their chances at upsetting the Pack. The guys you want to start in this game unfortunately aren’t on the Bills. CJ Spiller can be considered in PPR leagues based on his receiving skills and the fact that he is the starter. Sit Lee Evans because, while he has the talent, Trent Edwards isn’t a guy who can get him the ball consistently. On the Packer side, you want to insert all of their offensive players into your lineup. Aaron Rodgers, new starting back Brandon Jackson, receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and TE Jermichael Finley all need to be started this week. On the IDP side, no Buffalo player is really startable in IDP leagues. The one guy you may want to look at would be Donte Whitner, who may see an increase in tackles since Posluszny is out. On the Green Bay side, you want to start Charles Woodson along with rookie S Morgan Burnett. Coming off his three sack performance against the Eagles, third generation LB Clay Matthews is also a guy who you want to start this week.
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
Both teams are coming off emotional week one games. The Ravens played a hard fought defensive battle against the self anointed World Champion New York Jets, while the Bengals are coming off a blowout against the Patriots. This week for Baltimore, you want to use Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin no matter what. Rice will bounce back this week and Boldin should put up similar if not better stats than last week. QB Joe Flacco is a borderline start this week on the road against two of the best corners in the league in Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. The Bengals players actually had pretty solid individual games which, of course, is what really matters in fantasy. Carson Palmer should put up respectable numbers against this Ravens D, but should sit if your team has a solid backup. RB Cedric Benson is a start, if only because he should get in the end zone. Ochocinco and T.O. are also starts as the Ravens pass defense was solid last week only because of Mark Sanchez’s inability to get into a rhythm. Palmer should fair better. Bengal rookie TE Jermaine Gresham is a decent play this week as well, especially in 2TE leagues, after his six catches and a touchdown in week one. IDP owners should definitely have Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs in lineups and on the Bengals side of the ball LB Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones are guys you should be starting in tackle heavy leagues. Keep an eye on Rivers though as he is questionable with a foot injury.
Tampa Bay @ Carolina
Bucs QB Josh Freeman played well last week against the Cleveland Browns and is a borderline start this week against the beat up Panther DBs. Chris Gamble will not play for Carolina and rookie Mike Williams could be in for a big day, perhaps having Hakeem Nicks numbers from last week, which is WR3 numbers at the very least. Mike and Cadillac Williams are the two must starts from this offense and Freeman is a decent matchup play. The Panthers home opener should mean some big things for their two headed monster out of the backfield in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. QB Matt Moore (concussion) practiced without limitation Friday and is slated to start. Moore is not someone you should even be considering or owning after last week’s dreaded performance at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Steve Smith is the lone guy in this passing game that needs to be in lineups, or even owned for that matter. The RBs should also be started as Stewart should see a healthy dose of touches in his second game after seeing just five last week. Barrett Ruud of Tampa is the one consistent IDP who needs to be in lineups, but EJ Biggers is a guy who could put up some solid numbers this week so keep an eye on him. For Carolina, LBs Dan Connor, James Anderson and Jon Beason combined for 33 tackles last week and all 3 are solid starts in IDP leagues with Connor and Beason being the must-starts.
Kansas City @ Cleveland
Coming fresh off a win against division rival San Diego, the Chiefs will be looking to start off the season 2-0. RB Jamaal Charles only touched the ball 12 times Monday night, making the most of his touches with over 100 total yards and a score. His carries should increase this week and remember last year, Charles tallied 170 yards against Cleveland. Matt Cassel stunk it up last week, but the weather probably played some part of it. Look for Dwayne Bowe to bounce back with a solid game as a WR3 this week. Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas are good starts in leagues where you get return yardage especially since they both see snaps on their respective side of the ball. The Browns will be without injury/turnover prone Jake Delhomme this week, meaning Seneca Wallace gets the start. Wallace doesn’t get a lot of hype but has actually been pretty good in his career backing up Matt Hasselback. He doesn’t turn the ball over too often and can use his legs to pick up first downs. He’s not a guy I’m starting this week however. RBs Peyton Hillis and Jerome Harrison are decent flex plays this week since they are home and not exposed to that “college-like” atmosphere we saw in Kansas City last week. Hillis is a good bet to get in the end zone, while Harrison should pile up more yardage. In the passing game, I really like Mohammed Massaquoi against the KC corners. Use him as a WR3 or flex play this week. In the IDP game, KC LB Derrick Johnson is coming off a 12 tackle performance and is a solid LB3. If you’re in a bind and your league requires a DT, Glenn Dorsey, who may have finally figured it out, could have a solid game as well. On the Brown’s side, Rookie S T.J. Ward is the only must start on this defense until star LB D’Qwell Jackson (pectoral) returns, possibly next week. Ward had 11 tackles and a forced fumble last week against Tampa.
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee
The Steel Curtain barely survived last week at home, needing a 50 yard TD run on their first play in OT by Rashard Mendenhall to beat the Falcons. S Troy Polamalu picked off Matt Ryan to set up that winning score. Tennessee smoked the Raiders at home last week, with CJ2K going off for 142 yards and 3 scores. This is another game that should be a defensive battle, with two scrambling QBs who can throw the ball. Pittsburgh’s Dennis Dixon definitely has the better weapons, but Vince Young has been great since he came in mid way through last season. Dixon isn’t a guy you should be starting unless you’re in a real bind in a 2QB league, while Vince Young is a borderline starter, mainly because of his legs. RB Chris Johnson is the no brainer player that you start no matter what from Tennessee, as the receiving corp is too inconsistent to trust. Second year man Kenny Britt obviously has the most potential but his maturity and attitude are still being questioned, so until he straightens up, he’s barely ownable in anything but dynasty leagues. As for the Steelers, Mendenhall is a must start as is Hines Ward. Heath Miller at TE is another solid start if you’re in a TE by committee situation. Mike Wallace is difficult to recommend as he may be covered by Cortland Finnegan, but could break loose for a deep score, so he’s another borderline WR3 or flex play. In IDP land, look no further than Titan S Michael Griffin, who is coming off a 12 tackle performance against Oakland. Griffin should put up similar tackle numbers and maybe even force a turnover against the inexperienced Dixon. On the Steeler side, Lawrence Timmons appears to be adjusting well to that inside spot as he racked up 11 tackles last week, and as long as Troy Polamalu is healthy, he’s a solid option at DB.
Chicago @ Dallas
Coming off a disappointing loss on the road to division rival Washington, the Cowboys look to rebound in their home opener against Jay Cutler and the Bears. Chicago won a tight one against Detroit, who lost sophomore QB Matthew Stafford for an extended period of time after a vicious Julius Peppers hit. Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten are the obvious every week starters, and look for Marion Barber to be a sneaky play as well. Barber recorded 102 yards and a TD in their last meeting and should receive the bulk of the carries while finding the end zone at least once. Dez Bryant is a solid WR3/Flex play this week against the Chicago secondary, and was targeted 12 times, catching eight for 56 yards last week. He will be a main stay in this offense going forward. The Bears problems start up front with their offensive line which is the key to how long the Bears stay in this game. I like Cutler to put up solid numbers this game and he’s a borderline starter, if for no other reason than his O-line. WRs Devin Aromashadu and Johnny Knox were targeted 10 and 7 times respectively, compared to Devin Hester’s 2 targets. Those two are his go to guys along with TE Greg Olsen, who was targeted six times after many thought he would become obsolete in Mike Martz’s offense. With Aromashadu’s deep threat ability, he is the sneaky play this week, and Greg Olsen is solid starter in 12 team leagues. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor both saw a lot of touches last week, but don’t expect either to do much in the running game this week. Forte, however, is a great play as a RB2 in PPR leagues. Taylor should be benched this week but could have some value in the coming weeks in PPR leagues. Defensively, Chicago had some big games last week including LBs Lance Briggs (9 tackles, 1 FR, 1 Def TD) and Brian Urlacher (8 tackles, 1 sack). Both of these guys are must starts when healthy, as is Julius Peppers if you’re in a league that requires a DL. On the Dallas side, DeMarcus Ware is expected to play after suffering a neck injury last week and should put up big numbers going up against rookie LT Chris Williams.
Arizona @ Atlanta
Matt Ryan, featured in this week’s Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em, could have a big day vs. Arizona’s secondary. He struggled last week against Pittsburgh, but should rebound at home against a defense that allowed 252 yards and a TD in Sam Bradford’s first career start. Ryan has two more things going for him; Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Arizona QB Derek Anderson’s debut wasn’t spectacular, but he got the job done against St. Louis, spreading the ball around for 297 yards and a score. Unfortunately Larry Fitzgerald only had three catches but he was targeted 15 times and scored the game-winning touchdown. Steve Breaston finished with 7 catches for 132 yards and is a solid WR3 in PPR leagues. With Beanie Wells still questionable, avoid starting him for at least one more week. Tim Hightower will start and have solid value in PPR leagues as a Flex option. Defensively, Curtis Lofton and Cardinals S Adrian Wilson are the two must starts. Arizona CB Greg Toler and DL Calais Campbell are also decent starts in leagues that require those positions.
Philadelphia @ Detroit
In Michael Vick’s first NFL start since 2006, the speedy QB will get to exploit Detroit’s improved, but still weak defense. Vick looked very good in relief of Kevin Kolb last week, racking up 103 rushing yards and reminding the league why he’s so dangerous. He is a solid start in all leagues this week against the poor Lions secondary that could be missing S Louis Delmas. LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek are must starts, with DeSean Jackson’s value taking a slight hit with Vick at the helm. With the big play always a possibility, Jackson is a guy you want to start, but temper expectations. He probably won’t put up WR1 numbers. Detroit is in some trouble with Stafford out indefinitely and Shaun Hill under center. Hill just doesn’t have the arm strength or potential of Stafford but could serve as a decent replacement until Stafford returns. A positive to Hill’s performance last week was his realization that Calvin Johnson can go get most balls, so Megatron’s value may have actually increased with Stafford’s absence. Jahvid Best should have a decent game this week as a Flex option and should make a few big plays. Johnson and Best are the only viable fantasy options this week in Detroit’s offense. Defensively, Eagles LB Stewart Bradley (Concussion) is out indefinitely. The two Eagles you want in your lineup are DE Trent Cole and rookie S Nate Allen. Both had solid games last week and that should continue throughout the season. If DeAndre Levy comes back this week, he’s a strong play at LB, along with DE Kyle Vanden Bosch who put up 11 tackles and a sack last week. Louis Delmas missed practice Friday but says that he will play. If he does, he is a must-start.
Miami @ Minnesota
Brett Favre and the Vikings are ready for their home opener and I believe will take the Dolphins out back to the woodshed and put a beating on them. After a tough loss on opening night, the Vikings offense, led by Favre, should have a big day. Percy Harvin is expected to play and have a major role in the offense, unlike last week’s one catch performance. Former Dolphin Greg Camarillo is a sneaky start this week in PPR leagues as he should have a solid day after another week to gel with his new offense. Bernard Berrian is not a guy I trust at all and should be on your bench. Visanthe Shiancoe and Favre have developed a great chemistry together and Shiancoe is a must start in all leagues. AP is another no brainer and should have a big day Sunday. For the Dolphins, you’re going to bench QB Chad Henne and both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams if possible. Brandon Marshall is the only player with good value just because he’s an absolute freak and can dominate almost any corner in the league. In his only meeting against the Vikings, he posted 10 receptions, 114 yards, and a TD, and should be started every week he’s not visiting Revis Island. The Vikings defense is going to get after Chad Henne often and Miami will have trouble moving the ball downfield. DE Jared Allen and LBs E.J. Henderson and Chad Greenway are great starts this week, as Henderson incredibly seems to be 100% after breaking his femur last season. In leagues that require a CB, Antoine Winfield is a pretty decent start as well. On the Miami side, LB Karlos Dansby is a great LB2 along with S Yeremiah Bell in tackle heavy leagues or leagues that require a DB.
That’s all for the early game previews, enjoy the games this weekend and good luck in your leagues.