This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 2 of the 2014 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham, or LeSean McCoy. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em - Jake Locker (TEN, QB)
Assuming that Dallas doesn't implode on themselves, Jake Locker has the opportunity to put up respectable numbers this week. Locker shows up this week at #10 in the FFN QB rankings ahead of guys like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton. He had a hot start to the season in 2013 and it looks like he'll start 2014 off hot as well.
Start 'em - Colin Kaepernick (SF, QB)
EJ Manuel had his way with the Bears last week, so it's not unreasonable for Kaepernick to do some damage. Kaepernick is a much more talented mobile QB than Manuel and the Bears gave up 19 fantasy points to him last week. This will be the opening season game in the new stadium, so we're expecting the Niners to come out swinging. Kaepernick is ranked 12th right now in the FFN Week 2 rankings.
Start 'em - Terrance West (CLE, RB)
Ben Tate sprained his knee last week giving Terrance West an opportunity to shine, and shine he did rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries. The Saints gave up 123 yards on the ground last week to the Falcons so the century mark may not be out of the question. Add in a couple of receptions, and West's FFN ranking of 17th (std) and 22nd (ppr) makes him a viable low-end RB2 or flex option this week.
Start 'em - Frank Gore (SF, RB)
Frank Gore disappointed many fantasy owners last week in what was a choice matchup. He'll have an opportunity to redeem himself this week against a Bear defense that let CJ Spiller bring in 15.4 pts (ppr) and Fred Jackson 10.4 pts (ppr). Chicago gave up 174 yards between them. Gore shows up in the Top 15 of both standard and ppr formats this week making him an RB2 or a very solid flex play.
Start 'em - Knowshon Moreno (MIA, RB)
The change at QB didn't impact Knowshon Moreno last week. His 24 carries for 134 yards and a score reminded us of his banner year in Denver. He'll face a Bills defense that coughed up 24.9 points (ppr) to Matt Forte last week. Even though Lamar Miller is listed ahead of him on the depth chart, the Dolphins are going to make sure that Moreno is heavily involved. He's ranked 18th and 24th (std/ppr) on FFN this week making him a nice flex option.
Start 'em - Michael Floyd (ARI, WR)
The coaching staff in Arizona made it clear that they won't be forcing the ball into any one player's hands (subtle jab at Larry Fitzgerald) this year. While Fitz is listed at the top of the depth chart, it was all about Michael Floyd last week. That should continue this week with a juicy matchup against the Giants who are giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Floyd is ranked ahead of Fitzgerald on FFN in both standard and ppr formats as a low-end WR2.
Start 'em - Kendall Wright (TEN, WR)
Ranked one spot ahead of Floyd in the FFN rankings this week is Kendall Wright. His 6 receptions for 46 yards and a score last week made him a decent WR2 or flex play. In PPR formats, Wright should excel even if his total yardage doesn't hit the century mark. The Cowboys will likely give up some decent yardage through the air making Kendall Wright a nice WR2 and even Justin Hunter a decent flex option this week.
Start 'em - Reggie Wayne (IND, WR)
Reggie Wayne stepped right back into the security blanket role for Andrew Luck hauling in 9 receptions for 98 yards. He was targeted 13 times and was clearly the number one receiver for the Colts. He looked quick and his routes were crisp. Wayne is a high-end WR2 this week against the Eagles. If the Jaguars can throw on the Eagles, you better believe that Luck and the Colts will be able to.
Start 'em - Martellus Bennett (CHI, TE)
One of our favorite sleepers at the TE position this year was Martellus Bennett. He was drafted as a backup in many leagues but performed at TE1 levels last week. We expect that to continue in Week 2. His FFN rankings this week have him at TE1 status (12th in std scoring, 10th in ppr). The Niners held Jason Witten to a paltry 14 yards last week, but that had more to do with Romo. Cutler will feel pressure, but he'll still get the ball into Bennett's hands for a decent fantasy day.
Start 'em - Zach Ertz (PHI, TE)
One of the nice surprises from last week was the performance from Zach Ertz who finished 6th among all tight ends last week hauling in 77 yards and a score. Julius Thomas ripped the Colts last week with 104 yards and a ridiculous 3 scores. Ertz won't come close to 3 TD's, but he should be able to take advantage of Indy. He's a Top 10 option among TE's on FFN this week.
Start 'em - Houston Texans (HOU, DEF)
Last week we suggested benching the Houston Texans based upon the fact that they were the worst defense in the NFL last year and we didn't expect Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt to carry the defense by themselves. Apologies all around. The Texans tore up Washington and this week they face a questionable Raiders offense. Even though Clowney will miss the game with a knee injury, there was enough spark in that defense to recommend a start this week, especially with such a beautiful matchup.
Start 'em - Shayne Graham (NO, K)
Shayne Graham's two field goals (including a 50-yarder) and 4 extra points was enough to put double digits up on the fantasy scoreboard. With a high-powered offense behind him, Graham should have plenty of opportunities to put it through the uprights in Cleveland on Sunday.
Sit 'em - Tony Romo (DAL, QB)
Don't give up on Tony Romo just yet. The Cowboys will play from behind a lot this year meaning that while Romo may not be the greatest NFL QB at the moment, he's still fantasy-relevant. The problem is that he looked terrible last week and his matchup this week is even tougher. The Titans kept Alex Smith to under 10 points last week and will certainly put the pressure on Romo. If you've got someone like Russell Wilson or Jake Locker, they would make for a better play at QB this week than Romo.
Sit 'em - Jay Cutler (CHI, QB)
Jay Cutler flashed signs of brilliance last week, particularly in the first half. Then came the pressure. The Niners will put a ton of pressure on him this week, and with his two top receivers hurt (Brandon Marshall - ankle; Alshon Jeffery - hamstring), we expect to see forced throws and ultimately turnovers. San Fran murdered Tony Romo last week. While Cutler will not get murdered, he's going to have a difficult day.
Sit 'em - Trent Richardson (IND, RB)
We're not ready to throw the towel in on Trent Richardson yet, but there's not much to get excited about. The offensive line in Indy has its own issues and that degrades T-Rich's value. Ahmad Bradshaw was more impressive last week easily surpassing Richardson's measly 3.3 yards per carry. Bradshaw had more carries and saw more snaps than Richardson last week and is actually the better fantasy option this week even though he missed some time this week from general soreness. Richardson needs to show some more potential before you plug him into your lineups.
Sit 'em - Ryan Mathews (SD, RB)
Ryan Mathews looked pretty decent on Monday night against the Cardinals. He'll have an uphill battle this week against a very stout Seattle defense that did a fantastic job limiting Eddie Lacy to just 2.8 yards per carry before he left the game with a concussion. The Seahawks gave up the 6th-fewest fantasy points to RB's. Mathews will struggle on Sunday afternoon.
Sit 'em - Victor Cruz (NYG, WR)
The Cardinals will likely prevent any chance of us seeing some salsa dancing when they face Victor Cruz and the Giants on Sunday. Eli Manning looked Cruz's way just six times last week against the Lions of which only two of those opportunities turned into receptions. New York has a lot to do offensively to get themselves into playoff form, and until they do, Victor Cruz-fantasy owners will suffer right alongside Giants fans.
Sit 'em - Dwayne Bowe (KC, WR)
With his one-game suspension in the rearview mirror, Dwayne Bowe is ready to suit up as the Chiefs head into Denver to take on the Broncos. Luck and his receiving corp did well last week against Denver, but Alex Smith is not Andrew Luck. The Chiefs opted to use Smith last week instead of Jamaal Charles to very disappointing results. Andy Reid won't make that mistake again.
Sit 'em - Antonio Gates (SD, TE)
Antonio Gates looked great in last week's season opener, but he'll face the same difficulties that teammate Ryan Mathews will face this week when he goes up against the NFL's top-ranked defense. Seattle shut down Green Bay's tight ends last week and Gates had some hamstring issues this week in practice. The Seahawks gave up the 7th-fewest yards through the air last week against one of the best QB's in the league. Expect Gates to have a difficult day.
Sit 'em - Kansas City Chiefs (KC, DEF)
So much for their Top 10 draft rankings - the Chiefs looked terrible last week against Tennessee. They lost Derrick Johnson for the year and looked out of sync throughout that game. Last year's best defensive unit was a shell of its former self, and a matchup with Peyton Manning and the Broncos is not the kind of game where they're going to suddenly turn things around. This is not the week to start the Kansas City D.
Sit 'em - Nick Novak (SD, K)
If the Seahawks can keep the Chargers out of field goal range (a very likely scenario), then Nick Novak's contributions to the scoreboard are going to be limited. Mason Crosby was limited to just 4 points last week so temper your expectations with Novak this week.
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