Conventional wisdom this summer was that the quarterback position was deep. Week 1 did little to dispel that notion as a whopping 14 quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards, and five games produced two quarterbacks topping the 300-yard mark, an NFL record.
Even Matt Ryan(notes) and Mark Sanchez(notes), who had averaged only one 300-yard game per season coming in, topped 300 yards. Atlanta and the New York Jets backed up claims that they would open up the offense as Ryan threw 47 times (second-highest total of his career) and Sanchez threw 44 times (tied for his career high).
Of course, game circumstances forced the hand for many offensive coordinators in Week 1, but there's been a league-wide shift towards a passing emphasis in the past few years – the league passing attempt totals sat in the low 16,000 range in the early part of this past decade, but has spiked into the low 17,000 range the past couple of seasons.
The point here is that, if you are using an extra bench spot on a backup quarterback, in many leagues it's not worth it. If an owner can go out and grab a waiver QB with a quality upside given a decent matchup like Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), Rex Grossman(notes), Chad Henne(notes) or Colt McCoy(notes) (all more than 50 percent available), what's the point of wasting a roster spot on a backup you may only use once or twice, especially if you drafted one of the preseason consensus top 10 signal-callers? Better to use that spot to make a RB or WR spec play.
Alright, let's jump into the Week 2 matchups, Skinny-style (you'll notice a few changes from last season, but it's mostly cosmetic):
Total Week 2 green-light plays by position: 14 QBs; 24 RBs; 27 WRs; 11 TEs
After ranking as the sixth-worst fantasy defense against RBs last season, the Panthers gave up 4.8 yards per carry to Beanie Wells(notes) and the Cardinals in Week 1. The team starts two rookie third-rounders at defensive tackle and has now lost the heart of its defense, Jon Beason(notes), for the season with an Achilles injury. Look for the Packers to give RB James Starks(notes) the extra carries they felt they should have given him in Week 1. … Cam Newton had a fantastic debut, but Arizona's defense pales in comparison to the Packers. He won't have as much time to throw (with Clay Matthews(notes) in relentless pursuit), and Steve Smith won't be nearly as open (with Charles Woodson(notes) draped over him) in Week 2. Don't bank on a Newton encore. I'd try to avoid playing any Panthers this week.
Headline: Starks rocks, Pack rolls
If Seattle didn't have problems enough, now it has to go to Pittsburgh to face an ornery Steelers defense that just got smacked in the mouth by division-rival Baltimore. Sorry, even I, a devout Seahawks fan, can't find a way to make even a drop of lemonade out of this lemon. Avoid all Seattle entities this week. … With arguably the Steelers best offensive lineman (Willie Colon(notes)) out for the year and Seattle showing strength again against the run with DL Red Bryant(notes) healthy like he was early last season, RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes) doesn't have huge upside this week. But with a likely major field position and time of possession advantage, as well as Ben Roethlisberger's(notes) ability to extend plays, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities for the Steelers offense.
Headline: Big Ben, Steelers rebound in big way
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ NEW YORK JETS
Maurice Jones-Drew's(notes) knee held up just fine in Week 1. But he's on a pitch count, and he'll face a Jets defense that allowed less than 3.0 yards per carry to Dallas RBs in Week 1. He's getting a green light designation, but there's not a lot of upside this week. The Jets did give up over 100 yards to Jason Witten(notes), and the Jags' best hope will probably be to follow suit and look to Marcedes Lewis(notes), who was targeted just three times in Week 1, often. … The Jets squeaked out a win against the Cowboys, but they did it in less than typical fashion, running the ball just 15 times. Even though the Jets talked about loosening up the offense this season, there's no way they want to lose their smash-mouth identity in the process. Look for the Jets to get Shonn Greene(notes) involved heavily this week. The Jags held tough against the run last week, but that was because Tennessee inexplicably ran just 12 times. Jacksonville was a terrible defense last year all around and, although likely improved, don't give them too much credit for its Week 1 showing.
Headline: Sanchez soars, Jets fly past Jags
Chris Johnson handled just nine carries in his '11 debut, and he was inexplicably not given a carry in the second and third quarters despite the Titans very much being in the game. Head coach Mike Munchak said afterwards that CJ will be fine and that he'll get more carries going forward, but it's hard to trust Johnson this work given what happened in Week 1 and the fact that he'll face a Ravens defense that held Rashard Mendenhall to a 12/45 line in the opener. WR Kenny Britt(notes), who flashed his immense goal-line talents in Week 1, remains the best bet among Titans this week. … Baltimore's offense was strong across the board last week, but don't be surprised if its defense is once again the star in this one. The Ravens forced seven Pittsburgh turnovers, and that was against a QB in Roethlisberger who is much, much less excitable than Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes). Don't be surprised if Ed Reed(notes), the "greatest NFL thief of all time," turns in a classic Pick-6.
Headline: Reed, Rice, Ravens reign
If you saw the way Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick attacked the Chiefs secondary once KC lost safety Eric Berry(notes) (torn ACL on fourth play of the game on a questionably cheap low block by WR Stevie Johnson(notes)), you have to be excited for what the Matthew Stafford(notes)/Calvin Johnson show has in store for us this Sunday. Those two will occupy the Chiefs' thoughts, and I think that makes Jahvid Best(notes) dangerous this week, especially with no Berry patrolling the Chiefs' defensive ranks. … Right now, the Chiefs best plan of attack is to keep their defense off the field. That means force-feeding the running game. Jamaal Charles(notes) should see a ton of carries for as long as KC can keep the score close.
Chiefs: S Eric Berry (ACL)
Headline: Chiefs bested by Best, Lions
Cam Newton sent a clear message to the fantasy community in Week 1 that Arizona is a secondary to be messed with. Expect Rex Grossman to follow suit against the Cards this week. Grossman has thrown for 300-plus yards in three of his past four games for the Skins. And he likes to throw to his tight ends, something that Newton had much success doing against Arizona. Fred Davis(notes) went over 100 yards against the Giants and he's likely to remain a strong fixture in the lineup this week even as Chris Cooley(notes) says he's 100 percent healthy. … The big mismatch for the Cardinals, as it is most weeks, is WR Larry Fitzgerald(notes), who'll have at least a five-inch height advantage on the 'Skins' corners. Giant Hakeem Nicks(notes) exploited this matchup to the tune of 7/122 last week (narrowly missing a TD), and Fitz should be able to at least match that production, especially with the safeties having to respect RB Beanie Wells in the backfield. Early Doucet(notes) is one of those guys that I've been waiting for the stars to align with health and opportunity, and this could be that year. He remains a solid sleeper after going over 100 yards in Week 1.
Fred Davis; Early Doucet
Headline: Grossman deals in win over Cards
Saints corner Patrick Robinson(notes) was burned repeatedly by Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. Expect QB Jay Cutler(notes) to look to exploit that matchup often, in addition to a steady diet of screens to Matt Forte(notes), arguably the best receiving back in the league. He put up a 5/90/1 receiving line in Week 1 and New Orleans was generous to backs in the passing game last year. I have Cutler running under the caution flag, but I have a hunch his numbers will come out a little better than that. … With injuries plaguing the Saints receiving corps, TE Jimmy Graham(notes) is the only player you can hang your hat on outside of Drew Brees(notes). The running game is a full-on tri-toon as it's clear that Mark Ingram(notes), Pierre Thomas(notes) and Darren Sproles(notes) are all firmly in the backfield mix. Given the job-share and the opponent, none are particularly attractive this week.
Roy Williams; Chicago Defense
Headline: Three more TD passes from Brees declaws Bears
It's high time we started to think of Ryan Fitzpatrick as a viable low-end QB1. He was 10th in FAN PPG at QB last season, and he threw for four TD passes in Week 1. He's in a pass-friendly offense and he's facing an Oakland defense that allowed 304 passing yards to Kyle Orton(notes) on Monday night. … Week 1 only underscored the unreliability of anything in the Oakland offense save Darren McFadden(notes). Oakland receivers have finished second-to-last in fantasy points three consecutive seasons and it scored the third-fewest points in Week 1. I like fullback Marcel Reece(notes), a former receiver at the University of Washington who, on a per touch basis, makes a lot of big plays. He's a deep sleeper in this offense, but the Raiders should consider expanding his role with no viable threat at tight end now that Zach Miller is gone.
Headline: Fitzpatrick leaves Silver-n-Black blue with late heroics
Peyton Hillis(notes) was underwhelming in Week 1, but he should rebound on Sunday. Indy is not built to hold up against Hillis' bruising style – it gave up big numbers to most every physical back it faced last season. The Colts still know how to operate the Cover-2 zone well, though, and this is not a week to bank on much from QB Colt McCoy, or his pet tight ends. … The Colts' offense, outside of WR Reggie Wayne(notes), was non-existent against Houston in Week 1. I expected Joseph Addai(notes) to have a good game, but the Colts fell behind early and Addai, who averaged 4.9 ypc, didn't see many opportunities. It's unlikely that the Browns will be able to match the offensive output of the Texans, and I'd expect Addai will see at least 15-20 touches in this one.
Peyton Hillis; Reggie Wayne
Headline: Vinatieri's four field goals lift Colts over Browns
Obviously Donovan McNabb(notes) will have better days and he won't be facing a premier defense like San Diego every week, but can you really trust any part of the Vikings passing game in Week 2 after McNabb's 39-yard performance? It's obvious the team will ultimately try like crazy to get WR Percy Harvin(notes) the ball in stride and with space to work with. I think he'll be just fine for the long haul, but I'd bench him until the kinks get worked out. … The Vikings allowed 15 catches, 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns to Chargers running backs in Week 1. For that reason, you have to keep the sleeper tag affixed to RB Earnest Graham(notes), who had eight catches for 58 yards in the Bucs' loss to Detroit. In general, though, Minnesota played a high-powered Chargers offense tough, picking Philip Rivers(notes) twice and applying ample pressure. Josh Freeman(notes) didn't have a great preseason and he was only adequate in Week 1. I wouldn't consider him of top 12 ilk this week, though I like the matchup for tight end Kellen Winslow(notes), and Mike Williams' red zone skills makes him a hard player to sit no matter what the matchup may be.
Adrian Peterson; Mike Williams; Kellen Winslow
Headline: Peterson runs "All-Day" in win over Bucs
Dez Bryant(notes) should not have been in the game against the Jets in Week 1 after he suffered a quad injury. He was worthless at that point, yet Tony Romo(notes) continued to target him to no avail. It speaks to the Cowboys' lack of depth at receiver, and Bryant, Miles Austin(notes) and Jason Witten are going to see a ton of looks each week – they all had at least eight targets against the Jets. That Tarvaris Jackson threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns doesn't speak well for the 49ers' pass defense. That's like 300 yards and three TDs for your typical top-15 level signal-caller. Tony Romo should be just fine this week, although Jason Witten could be headed for a modest day against the top fantasy defense against the tight end since '08. As for Felix Jones(notes), the 49ers are stout against the run. But not as much as the Jets, who Jones managed 66 YFS and a TD against. He's a tweener this week between a green light and a yellow light – what I like to call chartreuse. … San Francisco's offense was abysmal against Seattle in Week 1. RB Frank Gore(notes) couldn't find daylight and, as usual, Vernon Davis(notes) was the only intriguing element in the passing game. Dallas allowed 94 yards and a TD to the tight end position in Week 1, so Davis looks viable for this Sunday, but that's it.
Tony Romo; Felix Jones; Miles Austin; Dez Bryant; Vernon Davis; Dallas Defense
Frank Gore; Jason Witten
Headline: Miles too much for 49ers to overcome in loss to Cowboys
New coach, same story for Denver. Against Oakland, the team couldn't run the ball and couldn't stop the run. Expect Cincy to attack that soft Denver interior with a healthy dose of Cedric Benson(notes). Coming into the year, I liked TE Jermaine Gresham(notes) in a safety valve role for rookie QB Andy Dalton(notes). And that hunch held up in Week 1 as Gresham caught five of his six passes and a TD in the two quarters with Dalton before he left the game with injury. Dalton's expected back this week, which bodes well for Gresham against a Denver defense that was fourth-worst in fantasy against the tight end last season. … The Broncos running game was an oxymoron on Monday night. Knowshon Moreno(notes) and Willis McGahee(notes) combined for 25 rushing yards. Although Josh McDaniels is gone, this is still team that is going to have to lean on the arm of Kyle Orton.
Bengals: QB Andy Dalton (wrist); LT Andrew Whitworth(notes) (foot)
Headline: Benson, Bengals buck Broncos. go to 2-0
This could be a preview of the AFC Championship game. The Patriots are on a streak of nine-straight games with at least 30 points scored. Looking particularly good this Sunday is Tom Brady's(notes) magnificent tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez(notes) and Rob Gronkowski(notes). San Diego has long struggled against the tight end, and Brady has a special thing going on with his two tight ends. Against backs and receivers, San Diego is excellent. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) manages to find pay dirt in even the toughest of times, and Brady and Wes Welker(notes) can play catch in the dark. … New England doesn't have a great pass rush and its secondary is nothing to write home about. We saw Brandon Marshall(notes) hang 139 receiving yards on the Pats in Week 1. Vincent Jackson(notes), although not as talented as Marshall, should follow suit with a strong effort in what could be a Brady/Philip Rivers shootout.
Headline: Late Gostkowski field goal gives Pats heavyweight title
Arian Foster(notes) (hammy) isn't expected to play in Week 2 if he doesn't practice. But you should count on Houston having success on the ground, regardless. Head coach Gary Kubiak has his running game hitting on all cylinders, be it Foster or Ben Tate(notes), or even Derrick Ward(notes). Tate's the healthiest of the three right now and he'd likely see another big load if Foster sits again. In the passing game, the Dolphins were torched by Tom Brady in Week 1. Andre Johnson(notes) is an obvious play, but give Jacoby Jones(notes) some thought, as well. His role will expand with Kevin Walter(notes) nursing a sore shoulder. And expect Owen Daniels(notes) to bounce back from a rough Week 1. He played a heavy blocking role in Week 1 as the Texans nursed a big lead. This game should be a bit more contentious. … All we'd heard about Reggie Bush's(notes) role with Miami proved true as he touched the rock 20 times on Monday night, including a healthy nine receptions. The last time he faced the Texans, he caught a career-high 12 passes. That was a few years ago, but little has changed in regards to how a healthy Bush will be employed. The dump-off pass is like a run for him, so he should continue to be a PPR standout this week. I was lukewarm on Chad Henne's performance in Week 1, despite the gaudy totals. He was off target in some crucial situations, and just doesn't seem to be on the same page with Brandon Marshall in the red zone. Marshall is still a beast, and he'll overcome most weeks. But I'm backing off Henne this week. I think Houston's defense could bring him back down to earth.
Kevin Walter; Miami Defense
Headline: Texans' team effort overwhelms Dolphins
You can't sell the drama any better than Michael Vick(notes) returning to his old stomping grounds to face the Falcons. The venue means little in the fantasy realm, as Vick, LeSean McCoy(notes) and DeSean Jackson(notes) are firmly in the "never sit" category. Jeremy Maclin(notes) would be there, too, but he’s not all the way back from a preseason viral infection as his 1/20 line in Week 1 would indicate. Outside the Eagles' Big 3, I don't have much faith in anyone else for Philly at the moment. … The Eagles allowed 157 rushing yards to the Rams in Week 1 and Michael Turner(notes) managed 100 yards on 10 carries against a typically tough Chicago run defense. Count on the Falcons trying to work the clock and keep Vick off the field by employing Turner early and often. If the Falcons fall behind, the Eagles secondary poses a problem for any passing attack. But Roddy White(notes) is one of the most matchup-proof receivers in the league and I wouldn't sit him in any situation. The rookie Julio Jones(notes), however, is likely headed for a quiet Sunday night.
Julio Jones; Atlanta Defense; Philadelphia Defense
Headline: Fired-up Falcons rebound in Vick's return to Atlanta
It's appropriate that St. Louis and the Giants faceoff this week as these might be the two most banged up teams in the league. For the Rams, Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola(notes) are expected to be out while the Giants are sweating a Hakeem Nicks knee injury that could force him out of action on Monday night. Rams backup RB Cadillac Williams posted an impressive 91 rushing yards in relief of S-Jax last week, but even an injury-depleted Giants run defense should pose stronger opposition than what Caddy faced against Philadelphia last week. Expect QB Sam Bradford(notes) to have to go to the air often on Monday night, despite the sore finger, and with Amendola out, the often-maddening Brandon Gibson(notes) will have a big opportunity. I expect he'll make enough plays to qualify for green light status, but he'll probably drop a couple in crucial moments, as he's prone to do. … If Nicks can't play, and even if he can, count on the Giants leaning more on the run this week. The team pretty much forgot about Brandon Jacobs(notes) once it fell behind to the Redskins, as Jacobs carried just once in the second half despite a solid 5/28 effort in the first half. That should change this week, assuming the Giants can hold the Rams down early.
St. Louis Defense
Rams: QB Sam Bradford (finger); RB Steven Jackson (quad); WR Danny Amendola (elbow); OT Jason Smith(notes) (ankle); CB Ronald Bartell (shoulder)
Headline: Giants ground attack comes alive in Monday night win