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Fantasy Football: NFL Week 2 Cheat Sheet
Injuries dominate this week's Cheat Sheet, with a number of regular starters giving their owners headaches before the Week 2 kick. Just like Tom Brady dealing with backups because of an injury to Danny Amendola, you may find yourself frustrated with the options at hand. We're here this week to help you through the tough decisions.
We'll be updating here all Sunday morning with important news as it breaks. Meanwhile, the MMQB's Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm will be taking your start/sit questions on the @SInow Twitter feed from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
10:55 a.m. -- Word out of Arizona is that Larry Fitzgerald will play against the Lions. ESPN's Adam Schefter had the news first. I'd still make sure to have a backup option in the late games just in case (Andre Roberts and Kenny Stills come to mind), but I'm starting Fitz with confidence. This isn't a Roddy-White-as-decoy situation. If he plays, he'll be a factor.
11:07 a.m. -- Per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Julio Jones is on the field running routes right now. He's listed as questionable, but practiced Friday and is expected to play. Thankfully, the Falcons are in the early set of games. Make sure he's in your lineup if he plays.
Meanwhile, teammate Roddy White is not on the field with the receivers. Even if he plays, you can't trust him. Keep him on your bench.
11:30 a.m. -- Jones and White are officially active. Start Jones, bench White.
It's a rainy day in the Midwest, and that could create some problems for games in Chicago and Green Bay. The Soldier Field surface is notorious for its repeatedly poor condition, and there was a college football game there yesterday with Illinois hosting Washington. The track very well could be sloppy. You're not going to bench Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte or Brandon Marshall, but be aware of it. If you have a tough decision deep on the fringes involving a player from this game, perhaps Jay Cutler, Greg Jennings, Martellus Bennett or Kyle Rudolph, the weather could swing it.
11:50 a.m. -- Kicker news! Kai Forbath is inactive, so if he's your kicker you'll need to make a move. Some widely available kickers I like are Alex Henery, Ryan Succop and Mason Crosby.
Jason La Canfora is reporting that Josh Freeman may end up asking the team for a trade. There's a ton of acrimony in Tampa Bay, and that can end up affecting the team's fantasy output. Even though Freeman put up a stinker against the Jets last week, a trade would really hurt the fantasy value of Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and, to a lesser extent, Doug Martin.
12:06 p.m. -- Prince Amukamara was listed as questionable after suffering a concussion last week, but he's active will play. That's huge news for the Giants with Peyton Manning and Co. in town. With lots of three-WR sets from the Broncos, the Giants could not afford to have one of their best DBs out.
12:25 p.m. -- With all the injuries at the wide receiver position today, you might find yourself going deeper than usual. Rueben Randle owners may want to consider getting him in the lineup. Despite being the No. 3 on his own team, he'll be on the field a ton with Victor Cruz in the slot. Champ Bailey is out with a foot injury, and the trickle-down effect that will have on the rest of the Denver secondary cannot be overstated. After catching five balls for 101 yards against the Cowboys last week, Randle is a guy I love this week as a WR3.
12:40 p.m. -- Bad news for Danny Amendola owners. Ian Rapoport is reporting that he has torn adductors, and possibly a sports hernia, that could require surgery. If he does have to go under the knife, he'll be out six weeks. This was always the risk with Amendola, though you had to think you'd get more than one game out of him before potentially losing him for half of the fantasy regular season. Rob Gronkowski can't return soon enough, if for nothing else than Tom Brady's sanity. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman owners can pat themselves on the back.
12:58 p.m. -- One final update on Roddy White from Falcons insider Knox Bardeen. He is indeed expected to be nothing more than a decoy today. As long as you have another option, you'll want to keep White planted firmly on your bench.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Get Ahmad Bradshaw in your lineup
Vick Ballard and the Colts caught a tough break when the back tore his ACL in practice on Thursday. He got a majority of the touches out of the backfield last week, though that had something to do with Bradshaw being slowed by a foot issue. He's the man now, and should be started in all formats, even against a strong Miami defense. I'd consider him just inside the top 25 at the position for the rest of the season.
Depending on your roster situation and league depth, Donald Brown, now the No. 2 back in Indy, could be worth a shot. Bradshaw manages to play most games every year, but his foot problems are chronic, and the Colts won't be able to feed him 20 times week in, week out. Brown could carry some value once the bye weeks hit.
Matt Ryan might have to play Sunday without his favorite toys at full strength
Roddy White limped through Week 1 with a high ankle sprain, serving as little more than a decoy for the Falcons. He didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable, though coach Mike Smith said he'd play. Still, it's hard to trust him after last week and unlikely he'll be any more effective against the Rams. You'll only want to start him if you're devoid of options.
Running mate Julio Jones was limited in practice this week with a knee injury, and he, too, is listed as questionable for Sunday. I'd be more flexible with him, though. He missed practice completely on Wednesday so the fact that he was able to participate later in the week, even in a limited fashion, is a good sign. The Falcons play in the first set of games Sunday, so you'll have your full complement of receivers available to you if he can't go. If he plays, make sure he's in your lineup.
The problems at the top of the depth chart have created an opportunity for fifth-year man Harry Douglas. He had four catches for 93 yards last week, and should play a big role again, even if both White and Jones play. He's widely available in the fantasy community. Not only would I add him, I think he's a strong WR3 this week.
Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Second-rounders racking up points
The Larry Fitzgerald conundrum
Fitzgerald suffered a hamstring injury in practice Wednesday and it slowed him down the rest of the week. He's expected to be a game-time decision Sunday, but his owners don't have the same luxury that Jones' owners do. The Cardinals kick off at 4 p.m. ET, meaning you'll have to roll the dice early if you want to start him. If the Cardinals deem him healthy enough to play, you're going to want him in your lineup. With Carson Palmer in town the real Fitz is back, and the Cardinals should be able to throw the ball with effectiveness against a subpar Detroit secondary. I'd take the chance and keep him in my starting lineup, while making sure I had a backup option who also plays late in case he sits. Some interesting names likely to be available in your league who can jump in for Fitz in a pinch include teammate Andre Roberts, New Orleans' Kenny Stills, Cincinnati's Mohamed Sanu and San Francisco's Quinton Patton. I'd add them in that order.
Speaking of Roberts, he's worth owning, not just as an insurance policy for Fitz, but based on his own merits. He had eight catches for 97 yards a week ago, and this offense looks capable of supporting three fantasy-relevant receivers with Palmer at the helm. If Fitzgerald is out, Roberts should be started in all formats and would be my No. 27 receiver this week. If Fitz does play, Roberts could still be worth a look in deep leagues.
Injury news lightning round
Jamaal Charles (quad) was a full participant in practice on Friday. He'll be in there against the Cowboys.
Reggie Bush dominated the Vikings last week despite dislocating his thumb, pulling his groin and tweaking his knee. The Lions list him as probable, though.
Dez Bryant (foot) practiced all week and looks good to start at Kansas City. Teammate Tony Romo played the entire second half last week with after taking a crushing blow to his midsection late in the first half. He's still dealing with a ribcage injury, but he's listed as probable.
Cecil Shorts (groin) was able to practice and should start in Oakland. He's a must-start with Chad Henne under center. More on that in a bit.
Wes Welker (ankle) and Eric Decker (shoulder) are both probable. Start them as usual. I expect a bounce-back week from Decker. Peyton Manning simply isn't the type of quarterback who keeps his receivers on the outs for a drop or two. If you get yourself open, you'll get the ball. Forget his ugly game against the Ravens. He'll do well this week.
Sidney Rice (knee) practiced Friday and is good to go for the big showdown with the 49ers on Sunday night. Early pole position in the NFC is on the line, but Rice shouldn't be counted on as a starter in fantasy leagues this week. With a full slate, you should have better options.
The Packers upgraded Jermichael Finley's (toe) status to probable after Friday's practice. Use him as you normally would.
Owen Daniels (back, groin) was a full participant in practice Friday. He was a beast for his owners last week, catching five passes for 67 yards and two scores. Make sure he's in your lineup.
A Manning-driven fireworks show in New York (well, New Jersey)
It's so much more fun to say New York, though, you know? Anyway, frequently games that we expect to be high scoring end up disappointing us, like last week's Atlanta-New Orleans matchup. That won't be the case with the Broncos and Giants. Peyton and Eli meet for the third time in their respective careers, and they come into this one with the top two trios of receivers in the league. In addition, they each have an athletic, pass-catching tight end at their disposal.
As if the presence of those eight weapons weren't enough, both teams may be missing key starters in their secondary. Champ Bailey has already been ruled out with a foot injury, while Antrel Rolle (groin) and Prince Amukamara (concussion) are both listed as questionable. You were already starting the brothers Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Welker, Decker, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. However, there's a strong case to be made for giving Rueban Randle a go this week. He caught five of his six targets for 101 yards last week, and with David Wilson on thin ice and a first-to-score-30-wins feel to this game, Eli could easily end up throwing the ball 40-plus times this week. Randle is a worthy WR3 this week.
Fantasy Football Composite Player Rankings -- Week 2
The most notorious fumbler in the league should be in your lineup this week
Most everywhere I look, I see David Wilson ranked outside the top-20 backs this week. One place you won't see that is my personal rankings, where I have him at ninth. The thinking? Look, we know if he fumbles early there will be a better chance of Tiki Barber coming out of retirement (again), reconciling with the Giants, and leading the team in carries than seeing Wilson get 20 touches this week. But the bottom line is he's an insanely talented runner and by far the best back on the Giants' roster. Moreover, his fumbling problem is blown way out of proportion. Everyone remembers his fumble against Dallas last year because it was his first career carry, was on national TV and earned him a nice, secure spot in Tom Coughlin's doghouse. Did you also know that was his only fumble all season? Yep, he touched the ball another 126 times after that and did not put the ball on the ground once. Don't let last week's benching influence you Sunday. Wilson belongs in your lineup.
When is Chad Henne a massive upgrade?
When he's replacing Blaine Gabbert. How Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville coaching staff decided Gabbert deserved yet another shot at the starting job, we'll probably never truly know. Luckily for those of us who like our quarterback play to be at least decent, I'm betting we won't be subjected to him as a starter for the rest of the season. Henne took over for Gabbert in late October last year, and finished the season with 2,084 yards 11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 6.77 yards per attempt. Now those aren't exactly world-beating numbers, but they do hint at competence, something of which Gabbert falls far short. Andrew Luck had an incredibly efficient game against the Raiders last week, completing 18-of-23 passes for 7.74 YPA. Henne himself isn't worth starting, but he makes a worthy starter out of Cecil Shorts, and his presence should help Maurice Jones-Drew bounce back, as well.
Bench Lamar Miller at your own peril
I know, it was ugly last week. I was right there with ya. I own him in two leagues. And I'm starting him with confidence again this week. To begin, last week's stinker wasn't wholly the result of poor play by Miller and the Miami offensive line. Cleveland has one of the best defensive fronts in the league, and they're going to give a lot of running backs trouble this year. The Colts do not present the same challenge. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, Terrelle Pryor was second in the league with 112 rushing yards last week. The holes will be there for Miller. I'm willing to bet he takes advantage. He's my 18th-ranked back this week. Jump on board with me. I promise it'll be fun.
NFL reminds teams of anti-discrimination policy
A memo sent Monday by Commissioner Roger Goodell to ownership, front-office personnel and coaches says: ''Please ensure that this Apuestas Breeders Cup document is made available to all players and staff.''
It includes a section on questions teams cannot ask prospective draft picks and free agents. After the NFL combine in February, three players said officials posed questions relating to their sexual orientation.
Examples given of prohibited queries include: ''Do you like women or men? How well do you do with the ladies? Do you have a girlfriend?''
The document also says ''any jokes, comments or pranks'' about an employee's sexual orientation constitute harassment. Examples are ''giving someone a sexual gag gift'' or hiring a stripper for an employee's birthday party. ''Offensive or degrading words or phrases'' and posters or screen savers of a sexual nature are also harassment.
The timing of the memo proved appropriate. Later Monday, veteran NBA center Jason Collins became the first active male professional athlete in the four major North American sports leagues to come out as gay.