September 14, 2011
Each week the Noise highlights seven somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. For those playing the Flames home edition, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues to qualify. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the revamped scoring system shown below. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 2 Flames in the comments.
Jay Cutler(notes), Chi, QB (Noise Week 2 QB Rank: 11, 21-percent started)
Matchup: at NO
In Chicago's throttling of Atlanta last week, Jay Cutler's fantasy contributions were anything but bearish. The smug QB surpassed the 300-yard mark and tossed a pair of touchdowns, presumably inflating his already enormous ego to George Clooney proportions. His odds of duplicating that production this week appear strong. Granted it was Aaron Rodgers(notes), but the New Orleans secondary, torched repeatedly by Jordy Nelson(notes) and Greg Jennings(notes), looked very average in the opener. There are no targets on Chicago's roster that remotely resemble either Packers' talent level, but, in what should be a shootout in the Superdome, Cutler will likely deliver big numbers. Keep in mind the Saints allowed 8.9 yards per attempt to Rodgers last week. Yes, Gregg Williams will throw everything and the kitchen sink at the signal caller. Last week, the Falcons forced Cutler to the turf five times. But if he receives at least adequate protection, favorable fantasy results are bound to follow. Trust him as a QB1 in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Carnell Williams(notes), StL, RB (Noise Week 2 RB Rank: 18, five-percent)
Matchup: vs. NYG
Three years ago when Williams suffered his second patella tendon tear most believed he was on the verge of being buried at Cadillac Ranch. But after catching 46 passes last season in Tampa, the same number current teammate Steven Jackson totaled last year with the Rams, this ride showed he had plenty left in the tank. With S-Jax likely out due to a strained quad, it's time for Caddy to build on his surprising effort against the Eagles (140 total yards on 25 touches). The Giants, sans starters Justin Tuck(notes), Osi Umenyiora(notes) and Jonathan Goff(notes) last week, did a remarkable job keeping Tim Hightower(notes) in check. Although the 'Skins back finished with a quality fantasy day, his 2.7 yards per carry was appalling. Minus Danny Amendola(notes) and with Sam Bradford(notes) banged up, many would automatically assume Williams is a flex-only play given the matchup. But he showed considerable power last week, racking 53 yards after contact. By sheer attrition he has excellent odds of racking around 100 total yards. And that could be a conservative estimate. If Bradford exploits NY's weakened secondary, he could flirt with the century mark on the ground alone. Because of his versatile skill set, entrenched third-down role and spike in carries, he's a back-end RB2 in 12-teamers, especially in PPR formats.
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 76 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 37 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 21.1 fantasy points
James Starks(notes), GB, RB (Noise Week 2 RB Rank: 18, 11-percent)
Matchup: at Car
Even a certain chemically-altered gumshoe and his talking dog could solve the mystery of the Packers' backfield after watching the season opener. It's obvious the talent gap between Starks and rapidly aging veteran Ryan Grant(notes) is wider than B.J. Raji's(notes) badonkadonk. The youngster, though slower than most featured backs, exhibited more power and burst shedding would-be Saints tacklers en route to a 57-yard, one-TD effort. Amazingly, 48 of those yards came after contact. Post-game Mike McCarthy admitted Starks deserved more touches, a hint of what could unfold moving forward. Against Carolina that desire will likely be carried out. The centerpiece of the Carolina defense, linebacker Jon Beason(notes), was lost for the season after snapping his achilles last week in Arizona. Already suspect on the ground with their defensive leader — Beanie Wells(notes) rolled his way to a top-10 RB tally last week — the Panthers are now extremely vulnerable between-the-tackles in his absence. Grant will still be involved in some capacity, probably netting roughly 30-35 percent of the touches, but Starks is in position to establish his rightful claim as the lead horse. On roughly 15-20 carries, anticipate top-20 numbers
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 78 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.1 fantasy points
Plaxico Burress(notes), NYJ, WR (Noise Week 2 WR Rank: 23, 45-percent)
Matchup: at Jax
The mental, and we can only presume, physical scars Burress received while imprisoned for two years in upstate New York were thought to have taken quite a toll. As a result, many owners purposely avoided the wideout on draft day, a glaring oversight. Against the Terence Newman(notes)-less Cowboys Sunday night, Burress flashed vintage form, hauling in four catches for 72 yards and a score. This week, with an equally favorable matchup, his output could be just as outstanding. Defensively, Jacksonville picked up exactly where it left off from 2010, giving up explosive pass plays (7.7 ypa). Last week, Kenny Britt(notes) and Nate Washington(notes) combined for 203 yards against the Jags, averaging a ridiculous 18.3 yards per catch. With a noticeable size advantage over dinged corner Derek Cox(notes), who is one of the league's worst DBs when healthy, Plax should solidify his standing as a borderline WR2/3. He may indeed be a "space cadet," but for those that picked him up on the cheap, he's well on his way to turning a galactic profit.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 76 yards, 1 touchdown, 17.4 fantasy points
Nate Burleson(notes), Det, WR (Noise Week 2 WR Rank: 27, 16-percent)
Matchup: vs. KC
When compared to Megatron, Burleson is R2-D2 in terms of overall talent. But the veteran, a key figure in an explosive passing offense, is anything but a bucket of bolts. Week 1 at Tampa, he compiled a serviceable five catches for 60 yards on five targets. He also chipped in a 20-yard run. Burleson, a smooth route runner who thrives near the goal-line, should produce fruitful numbers in the encore. The devastating loss of Eric Berry(notes) to a torn ACL has the Chiefs defense, a unit that allowed four TDs to Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) last week, reeling. Without its leader and best downfield defender, KC is no match for the Lions' high-powered passing attack. Calvin Johnson(notes) is the unquestioned apple of Matthew Stafford's(notes) eye, but with coverage rotating to the Pro Bowler's side, Burleson has a great chance to win many one-on-one battles with Brandon Carr(notes). Start him with confidence as a WR3 in competitive formats.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.6 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Rex Grossman(notes), Was, QB (Noise Week 2 QB Rank: 8, three-percent)
Matchup: vs. Ari
Whether seen in politics or sports, Washington typically is an unforgiving place where reputations are chewed up, spit out then urinated on. However, for the suddenly sexy Rexy, the nation's capital could be the location of a surprising career rebirth. Coming off a sensational 305-yard, 2-TD performance against the rival Giants, Grossman is poised to not only duplicate, but exceed his opening week stat line. To put it kindly, Arizona is an abomination against the pass. Rookies Patrick Peterson(notes) and A.J. Jefferson(notes) were humiliated by Carolina last week as Cam Newton threw for 422 yards and two TDs, shattering Peyton Manning's(notes) record for most passing yards in a rookie debut. Yes, Grossman will take a bad sack or three. And he will always be a magnet for turnovers. But he made several quality throws last week, delivering several on-the-money passes to Santana Moss(notes), Anthony Armstrong(notes) and the very underrated Fred Davis(notes). Considering the issues 'Zona had defending Steve Smith, who is a similarly styled receiver as Moss, it's fathomable Grossman's final Week 2 rank will come close to matching his jersey number. Sound the sax, Rex will most certainly be in effect against the Cards.
Fearless Forecast: 24-37, 317 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, 26.9 fantasy points
BONUS SHOCKER: Domenik Hixon(notes), NYG, WR (zero-percent started) — Hixon could start opposite Mario Manningham(notes) if swelling in Hakeem Nicks'(notes) knee doesn't subside. The matchup against the Rams, who will be without starting corner Ron Bartell(notes) and likely Bradley Fletcher(notes), is very enticing. Deep leaguers, particularly Danny Amendola supporters, needing a quick fix, should roll the dice on the one-percent owned receiver.
ADDITIONAL WEEK 2 FLAMES
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