Each week, the Fantasy Island contestants will submit a preview for each of that weekend's games. The best preview from each game will be selected and combined with the others into one comprehensive guide, where points are awarded based on how many individual previews from each writer are selected. Get it? OK. We sorta do too.
Bears at Packers
[Ed. note: The deadline for submissions was prior to last night's Lambeau Massacre]
I’m a Bears fan. This week, I desperately fear the Packers defense. I fear they’ve prepared with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 ninja warriors. I fear they’ll strafe the field at Lambeau with thunderous hellfire, spitting shrapnel and leaving nothing but Bear parts where the Bears once stood. I fear their emotion. I fear their will to win. I fear Clay Matthews will eat me while I’m waiting to board an airplane. I am just plain sceeeered.
Brandon Marshall and the Bears D all looked extremely solid last week, but I’m not sure I would start either of them if I had James Jones (who is my call for Aaron Rodgers's boyfriend receiver this year), Randall Cobb, or the Packers D. Matt Forte is probably not a bad bet, but I’m just so scared of those Packers! I hope I’m wrong.
Chiefs at Bills
Player to start: Ryan Fitzpatrick
I’m fully aware that Fitzpatrick is, um ... awful, but lost in the mix of the Jets’ thrashing of Buffalo last week is that Fitzpatrick is going to get plenty of chances to air it out this season. Statistically, attempts are way more important than efficiency for quarterbacks (in the fantasy world, that is). Think about it — the top quarterbacks average around 8.5 yards per attempt, but even the league’s worst quarterbacks check in around three-fourths of that number.
The difference is that quarterbacks in conservative offenses — the Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez–esque players — chuck the rock about 65 percent as often as Drew Brees & Co. Simply put, passing attempts are important, and Fitzpatrick figures to do a whole lot of throwing against the Chiefs.
— Jonathan Bales
Browns at Bengals
I warned you last week about T-Rich, and I will tell you again: TRADE HIM NOW! Don’t read too much into Baltimore’s manhandling of the Bungles last week, A.J. Green is still a stud, and the Law Firm is a low-end RB1/high-end RB2, but the best play in this game is this: BENGALS D/ST. They’re available in 82 percent of leagues, and they are worth a pickup even if you have to carry two defenses this week. Four Words: True American Brandon Weeden.
— Josh Klein
Vikings at Colts
The 105.5 quarterback rating and breezy 270 passing yards are certainly building blocks, but because Adrian Peterson’s regenerative cells basically make him a Spider-Man villain, Christian Ponder will only be trusted with red zone handoffs or being the opening domino in a gadget play. In Indianapolis, it’s clear they trust Andrew Luck to be an unsupervised child with weekend cash. An essay on Reggie Wayne’s second act as a loyal mentor is coming soon, and he currently leads the NFL with 18 targets. If you’re not thrilled with your tight end situation, look into Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph and his seven targets for 67 yards, or Indy’s Coby Fleener and his 10 targets, six catches, and 82 yards. Don’t let his touchdown fool you; Donald Brown remains a third-world flex option. His backfield receiving was a non-factor, and he only got nine carries.
— Ramon Ramirez
Raiders at Dolphins
Darren McFadden was a revelation in the Raiders’ passing game Monday (even if he wasn’t so hot running the ball) with 13 receptions for 86 yards, making him a certified stud in PPR leagues. If Honey Boo Boo was split out wide, she would be just as valuable as the receivers in this game. The only one worth your consideration, Denarius Moore, is hobbled by a strained hamstring. Starting any Dolphin in a non-16 team league is a decidedly bad omen for the rest of your season.
— Matt Borcas
Cardinals at Patriots
While volunteering for the Cardinals one day last year, I caught Larry Fitzgerald in the film room by himself. I put my ear to the door. “Why yes, Tom, that’s a perfect route for me!” Then, in a slightly deeper voice, “We’re going to a no-huddle offense, Larry. Be ready.” Fitzgerald then squealed, “Of course, Tom! Just put it in my hands. I’ll be your Randy Moss any day!” The lower voice then spoke again: “Larry, you’re my best friend. I love being your quarterback.” And finally, Larry again: “Aw shucks, Tom. You’re too awesome. Really. Let’s be best friends forever.”
I dropped my clipboard at that very moment, and Fitzgerald rushed to the door, opened it, and pulled me into the room. “What did you hear?" he yelled. I nervously replied, “Nothing. I was just walking by and dropped my clipboard.” That Larry Fitzgerald smile came over his face. “Good. I was just in here reviewing some game film. But I need to be alone to study. So why don’t you head on to where you were going.”
If you’re starting anyone for the Cardinals whose last name is not Fitzgerald, I wish you the best in your 20-team fantasy league. The not-so-sleeper in this game is anyone with a silver helmet. Just pick a skill position player and start him.
— Shane Morris
Buccaneers at Giants
Player to start: Mike Williams
As we saw in the NFL Wednesday-night opener, the Giants’ secondary is extremely lackluster. Despite Tony Dungy’s pregame declaration that Michael Coe would “play well because he texted me before the game and said he wouldn’t let me down,” Coe sucks. Add an overrated Corey Webster and either Justin Tryon or Jayron Hosley as the nickel back, and you have the makings of a lot of “I thought we were in Cover 2, Mr. Coughlin!”
Look, the G-Men know they’re weak in the back end of their defense, so they’re going to roll a safety over top of Vincent Jackson at all times. The Bucs will be down in this game and thus forced to air it out, so Williams is a good bet for solid WR2 fantasy numbers.
— Jonathan Bales
Ravens at Eagles
“Hi, my name is Philadelphia, and I’m a hype-aholic.” (Seated crowd replies, “Hi Philadelphia.”)
Then, Philadelphia takes a deep breath and begins, “I thought it would be OK, you know, if I started Vick, just once. The first time, he scored me 5 TDs, and I got almost 40 points. But the next time I did it, he got hurt. Every time I started Vick, it was an injury. So then I tried Jackson. For one whole season, it was horrible. It was about not having enough money or something. And then McCoy came along, and I thought things would get better. I kept calling it a dream ... ”
Starting any player in Philadelphia is a risk akin to leaving a cocaine addict in charge of a Bolivian border exchange. It’s risky, and could be highly rewarding, but also carries the inherent chance of injury, high turnover totals, and a complete lack of production. My gut says McCoy doesn’t run well against the Ravens defense.
Now, to determine whether or not you should start Vick: [Flips coin. It’s heads.] Abort mission. Put in DeSean Jackson and hope for the best. If you can grab Pitta, do it. Flacco loves Pitta, and Torrey Smith is the home run threat, stretching the crossing routes for anyone underneath. As always, Ray Rice won’t let you down.
— Shane Morris
Saints at Panthers
DeAngelo Williams’s lateral stall-outs (six carries, minus-one yards rushing at one point in the second half) were so awful that he apologized to fantasy owners via Twitter. New Orleans and their porous, pothole-laden defense is an opportunity to bounce back. Drew Brees is going to lead the NFL in passing again, as every fall weekend will mean shaky leads and shootouts. Lance Moore is an unsexy guy you should try to trade for. He led all Saints with six catches for 120 yards; had one less target than Marques Colston; and let's remember Robert Meachem moved to San Diego and enigmatic monk Devery Henderson is a bottle-cap sweepstakes.
— Ramon Ramirez
Texans at Jaguars
Player to start: Andre Johnson
Frankly, I don’t like Johnson this year. Although he’s clearly an elite talent, the Texans are going to be up big a lot in the AFC South, meaning Arian Foster will get the rock. The 10 targets Johnson saw in Week 1 put him in line to approach his career-high of 162, but there’s no way he’ll keep up that pace in the Texans’ run-heavy offense.
This week, though, Houston travels to face a Jacksonville team that is going to do everything possible to stop the run. After yielding big numbers to Adrian Peterson in Week 1, the Jags aren’t going to just let Foster walk all over them. Look for Matt Schaub to throw to Johnson a bunch when Jacksonville stacks eight in the box.
— Jonathan Bales
Redskins at Rams
I’ve been trumpeting Danny Amendola since the preseason. He’s not just a PPR goldmine; he's also a guy who's going to be the only viable option for Sam Bradford 80 percent of the time because of the Rams' offensive line issues. Amendola finds the end zone this week, in some manner or another, and will stake a claim as to the top waiver wire pickup of Week 2. It goes without saying — don’t touch a Washington running back unless you’re the sort that likes to play Russian Roulette for $200K with Floyd Mayweather.
— Stephen Whiting
Cowboys at Seahawks
Braylon Edwards saw nine targets in last week’s game against Arizona. You can make all of the jokes you want to about Braylon's drops, but I’ll bet you have guys on your bench who didn’t see nine targets last week. I’m not saying that Braylon can be owned in a standard fantasy league right now, but I am keeping my eye on him. Russell Wilson doesn’t have to be very good to be the best quarterback that Edwards has ever played with. Here are the quarterbacks that have thrown Braylon the ball over the course of his career: Trent Dilfer, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Mark Sanchez, and Alex Smith. That’s not a list of quarterbacks, that’s a list of punchlines.
Strong fantasy plays: Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray, Marshawn Lynch
Fair to middling plays: Sidney Rice, Russell Wilson, Jason Witten
— Frank DuPont
Titans at Chargers
Do not fret, fellow Chris Johnson owners, I have sent Mr. Johnson a message on Twitter to register our objection to his performance last Sunday. The message read, “HEY THANKS 4 NOTHING I LOST BY 2 B/C OF U. YOU'RE A LOSER!” I will let you know when I get a response and/or apology.
I’m actually not worried about Johnson. He won’t ever be what he was in 2009, and his results will be uneven, but he also isn’t going to be as bad as he was last week. In fact, I might see what the trade market is for Johnson by sending out some offers.
Strong fantasy plays: Antonio Gates, Chris Johnson, and Phillip Rivers
Fair to middling plays: Jared Cook, Malcolm Floyd
— Frank DuPont
Jets at Steelers
Don’t expect the Steelers defense to look as holey as they did last week. First, it’s Mark Sanchez. Second, Ryan Clark is back. If you won the waiver wire and picked up Stephen Hill, congrats. Now it comes down to you trusting Sanchez. Hopefully you know when to start him and when to bench him. If your roster is deep enough, I’d leave Hill on the bench until the bye-week run starts. I would try to pick up Heath Miller if you’re in need of a TE. He had one TD against Denver, and it should have been two. Look for Miller to get a lot of action now that Hines Ward has retired.
— Ryan Moskal
Lions at 49ers
The Handshake Bowl pits the highly caffeinated Jim Harbaugh against the perpetually offended Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford against a valiant 49ers front seven, and Kevin Smith against his own body. Smith beat the odds in Week 1, emerging unscathed, but San Francisco poses a difficult challenge. As the suspended Mikel Leshoure readies himself to return next week, Smith owners will spend this game holding their breath, praying for the veteran’s appendages to remain connected to the corresponding tendons, joints, etc. After the obvious (Smith, Megatron, Brandon Pettigrew, Frank Gore), Nate Burleson and Michael Crabtree are respectable starts, especially in PPR leagues.
— Matt Borcas
Broncos at Falcons
I live in Denver. If you think that watching SportsCenter and hearing everyone make love to Peyton with their words is bad, imagine living in the heart of it. There is literally a huge Peyton billboard right outside my office. I seriously think this place would riot if Peyton and Danilo Gallinari had a kissing party. With that said, let’s get to some fantasy rankings!
1. Peyton Manning
2. Matt Ryan
1. Michael Turner
2. Willis McGahee
3. Jacquizz Rogers
4. Jason Snelling
1. Julio Jones
2. Roddy White
3. DeMaryius Thomas
4. Tony Gonzalez
5. Jacob Tamme
6. Eric Decker
— Josh Klein