Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.
C.J. Spiller is about to become a star again. He's back as a must-start Fantasy running back.
In 2011, Spiller took over for an injured Fred Jackson in the final six games of the year after Jackson suffered a broken leg. He finished the season with double digits in Fantasy points in four of those outings, and he's about take over for Jackson again.
Jackson suffered a knee injury in Week 1 at the Jets, and he's expected to be out for at least four weeks. That will allow Spiller the chance to start in Week 2 against the Chiefs.
|Ahmad Bradshaw||vs. TB|
|Maurice Jones-Drew||vs. HOU|
|Chris Johnson||hat SD|
|Frank Gore||vs. DET|
|Steven Jackson||vs. WAS|
Spiller was amazing against the Jets after Jackson went down in the second quarter. He finished with 14 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 25 yards, and he flashed plenty of big-play ability.
He has a favorable matchup against the Chiefs, who allowed double digits in Fantasy points to 11 running backs last year -- including Jackson in Week 1 -- when he had 20 carries for 112 yards in a 41-7 Buffalo victory. If Spiller gets enough touches, he should shine.
In 2011, the Chiefs had 17 running backs get double digits in carries against them, and all but two (Rashard Mendenhall and Marion Barber) reached at least eight Fantasy points. Now, Michael Turner had 11 carries against Kansas City in Week 1 and finished with just 32 yards, but Spiller is more talented than Turner at this point in their respective careers.
I'm confident starting Spiller in all leagues as a direct replacement for Jackson. And if you drafted Spiller without owning Jackson you should find a way to get him in your lineup this week.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers||15||0||72||71|
|Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys||20||29||73||2|
|Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots||12||20||68||3|
|Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins||11||16||64||8|
|Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals||10||6||100||54|
|Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs||7||5||67||60|
|Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals||6||3||34||24|
|Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs||11||1||41||51|
|Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars||9||4||41||61|
|Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens||12||6||75||46|
|Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos||17||23||70||7|
|BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals||6||15||46||12|
|Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts||7||13||58||14|
Peyton Manning (at ATL): Manning was better than expected in Week 1 against the Steelers with 253 passing yards and two touchdowns, and he might be just as good this week against the Falcons. Atlanta just lost starting cornerback Brent Grimes (Achilles) for the season, and this game could be a shootout with Manning and Matt Ryan going head to head. Manning's Week 1 performance should give you plenty of confidence to start him in all leagues.
Philip Rivers (vs. TEN): Rivers played well in Week 1 at Oakland with 231 passing yards and one touchdown, and he was one touchdown away from having an excellent week. He gets a Titans defense at home that just gave up two passing touchdowns to Tom Brady, and Rivers has been solid in San Diego with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in his past five games. Rivers should remain a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback this week.
Andrew Luck (vs. MIN): As I expected, Luck struggled at Chicago in his first career start with 309 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, but he'll rebound this week in his first home start. The Vikings just allowed 260 passing yards and two touchdowns against Blaine Gabbert in Week 1, and Luck should have similar success. If you're torn on your quarterback situation this week then give Luck the starting nod over guys like Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco.
Jay Cutler (at GB): Cutler wished the Packers secondary "good luck" in trying to slow down this passing game, and we agree. He was amazing in Week 1 against the Colts with 333 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and Alex Smith just had 23 Fantasy points against the Packers. Cutler has one touchdown and six interceptions in his past two games at Lambeau Field, but this is a new passing attack for the Bears with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. We expect Cutler to have his first good game in Green Bay.
Robert Griffin III (at STL): We were counting on Griffin to play well at the Saints in Week 1, and he rewarded owners who started him with 28 Fantasy points. He might not be that successful again, but he should still play at a high level against the Rams. Griffin passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints and also ran for 42 yards. His dual threat ability will tough for the Rams to stop, and he should remain a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback this week.
|Andy Dalton||(vs. CLE)||The Bengals passing game will benefit with Joe Haden out.|
|Josh Freeman||(at NYG)||Even Freeman can exploit this suspect secondary.|
|Carson Palmer||(at MIA)||The return of Denarius Moore will make Palmer look better.|
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. NYJ): Roethlisberger had a solid game against the Broncos in Week 1 with 19 Fantasy points, and it was good to see him connect on a touchdown to Mike Wallace after having no time to practice in the preseason. But you have to be concerned starting him in Week 2 against the Jets, especially with Darrelle Revis (concussion) expected to play. Roethlisberger last played the Jets in 2010 and finished with 18 Fantasy points. That should be his ceiling this week.
Joe Flacco (at PHI): The Eagles did a great job in Week 1 against Brandon Weeden in holding him to 118 passing yards and four interceptions. Now, before you say "it's Brandon Weeden," keep in mind the Eagles held seven of their past eight opposing quarterbacks to 15 Fantasy points or less, including six in a row. Flacco also has just five touchdowns, three interceptions and two fumbles in his past five road games while averaging 214 passing yards over that span. He should do better this week but not by much.
Mark Sanchez (at PIT): The way Sanchez played against the Bills in Week 1 was a tremendous surprise given the Jets' woes in the preseason. He had 26 Fantasy points and found new targets in Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. We're skeptical of him playing that way at Pittsburgh, but if he does that again then he's worth adding in all leagues. For now, he's just a questionable starter in two-quarterback formats. Even though Manning did well against the Steelers you can't expect Sanchez to play at that level. In his lone start at Pittsburgh in 2010 he had 170 passing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Jake Locker (at SD): The good news for Locker is he's expected to play against the Chargers despite suffering a left shoulder injury in Week 1. He also is facing a San Diego secondary with a banged up cornerback in Quentin Jammer (hand). The bad news is Locker could be one hit away from sitting on the bench, and the Chargers just held the Raiders to one touchdown in Week 1. Nate Washington (leg) should play, and Kenny Britt returns from his one-game suspension, but we're concerned about Locker based on the injury. He's a risky starter in two-quarterback leagues.
Blaine Gabbert (vs. HOU): Gabbert was one of the best surprises in Week 1 with 22 Fantasy points against the Vikings. He had a great preseason and has an improved receiving corps with Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts. But the Texans have a solid defense and last year held Gabbert to 233 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in two games. He should be better than that in this matchup, but he's still just a risky starter even in two-quarterback leagues.
Bust alert: Michael Vick (vs. BAL): There won't be many times where we'll recommend sitting Vick when he's healthy, but this could be a week where he struggles. He was beat up against the Browns in Week 1 with 16 official hits, although that number seems low. He threw four interceptions on 56 attempts, and the Ravens are definitely a tougher opponent than the Browns. The Ravens have gone 19 games without allowing multiple touchdowns to an opposing quarterback, and Vick could be in for a long game. It's hard to bench Vick, but he's actually a risky start this week given his opponent.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. CLE): Green-Ellis was quietly one of the best surprises in Week 1 with his 15 Fantasy points against a stout Ravens defense. This is a much easier matchup against the Browns, and Green-Ellis should be able to do what he does best -- find the end zone. He is worth using as a No. 2 running back or flex this week depending on your lineup.
Reggie Bush (vs. OAK): Another surprise in Week 1 was Bush, who had 115 total yards against the Texans. Bush had 14 carries for 69 yards and caught six passes for 46 yards. The Dolphins will again lean on Bush against the Raiders, who could be a little sluggish on a short week with a cross-country trip for a 1 p.m. ET start.
Trent Richardson (at CIN): The bad news for Richardson in Week 1 was he had 19 carries for just 39 yards against the Eagles. The good news is his surgically repaired knee, which cost him all four preseason games, held up fine, and this is a much easier matchup against the Bengals. Cincinnati allowed two rushing touchdowns against Ray Rice last week, and the Ravens ran for 5.6 yards a carry. Richardson should be used as a No. 2 running back or flex.
Alfred Morris (at STL): You know the name by now. Morris had the most carries in the NFL in Week 1 with 28, and he finished with 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns at New Orleans. The Rams allowed the second-most Fantasy points to running backs in Week 1 against the Lions with 27, and this is a good time to trust Morris as a starting option. Yes, it's a Washington running back, so anything could happen knowing how Mike Shanahan operates. But opportunity plus good matchup equals a starting Fantasy running back.
Stevan Ridley (vs. ARI): If Ridley plays all year like he did in Week 1 at the Titans when he had 20 Fantasy points then he will become a must-start running back in all leagues and never get mentioned in this column again. The potential is there, and we like Ridley again this week. The Cardinals did well in containing Marshawn Lynch in Week 1 with 21 carries for 85 yards, but a cross-country trip for a 1 p.m. ET start is tough for a good team. The Cardinals will be overmatched against the Patriots, and Ridley should see plenty of chances for success. Start him in all formats.
|Donald Brown||(vs. MIN)||Has the chance for double digits in Fantasy points in consecutive weeks.|
|Michael Bush||(at GB)||Like Week 1, look for Bush to find the end zone at least once.|
|Jonathan Dwyer||(vs. NYJ)||Could be a flex option in deeper leagues after solid Week 1 outing.|
|Jacquizz Rodgers||(vs. DEN)||The more Atlanta throws, the better Rodgers will be, especially in PPR leagues.|
|Mark Ingram||(at CAR)||He scored at Carolina last year and could do so again.|
Kevin Smith (at SF): Smith passed the first part of his two-game audition for the starting job when he had 91 total yards and two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 1. But that was the easy part. This week Smith gets the 49ers, and he should struggle. The 49ers allowed the fewest touchdowns to opposing running backs last year with just three, and they allowed just one Fantasy point against the Packers' running backs in Week 1. Mikel Leshoure (suspension) returns in Week 3, and then Smith will be part of a tandem.
Michael Turner (vs. DEN): In a game where the Falcons won 40-24 in Week 1 at Kansas City, Turner failed to contribute. He had 11 carries for 32 yards and was outplayed by backup Jacquizz Rodgers, who had 35 total yards. Our fears for Turner this season were realized, if just for one game. The Falcons went to a pass-happy attack, and Turner doesn't fit in that offense. Now, he could still find the end zone against the Broncos this week, but in a matchup between Ryan and Manning we don't anticipate much running. It's hard to bench Turner in all leagues, but if you have better alternatives you might keep him reserved. The good news for Turner is he has four touchdowns in his past five home games.
Willis McGahee (at ATL): Two negative things happened for McGahee in Week 1 against the Steelers. He fumbled, which is bad for any player, and he lost a scoring chance to backup Knowshon Moreno. Now, we expect McGahee's role to be fine, but he has to be more secure with the ball. The problem is this game could be a shootout, and the Falcons allowed just one running back (Toby Gerhart) to score in their past five home games.
Cedric Benson (vs. CHI): Benson was not a factor in Week 1 against the 49ers with nine carries for 18 yards, and he should struggle again this week. The Bears did allow a touchdown to Donald Brown in Week 1, but Chicago should be able to contain Benson, especially if this game becomes a shootout. We like Benson's upside for the rest of the season, but the early part of Green Bay's schedule will make it difficult to start him in most formats.
Ronnie Brown (vs. TEN): There's a chance Ryan Mathews (shoulder) won't return this week against the Titans as previously expected, but even if he's out don't plan on using Brown. He struggled as the starter in Week 1 against Oakland with five carries for 5 yards and five catches for 26 yards, and he's unlikely to do more even in an another favorable matchup against the Titans. Brown is not worth owning in most leagues even as the handcuff to Mathews.
Bust alert: Shonn Greene (at PIT): You couldn't have been happier with Greene in Week 1 when he had 27 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. But it will be difficult to repeat that performance against the Steelers, who should be quite upset after another loss in Denver. The Steelers were able to limit the Broncos' rushing attack last week despite Moreno scoring, and Greene is unlikely to get 20-plus carries in this matchup. The Steelers are also tough against opposing running backs at home since Rice and Chris Johnson were the only running backs to score in Pittsburgh last season.
Vincent Jackson (at NYG): No team gave up more Fantasy points to opposing receivers in Week 1 than the Giants against the Cowboys, and their secondary will likely be a weak point all season. Jackson had a quiet debut for the Bucs in Week 1 with four catches for 47 yards, but he had 10 targets and could be heavily involved again this week. He could get his first Tampa Bay touchdown against the Giants.
Reggie Wayne (vs. MIN): Wayne will be this year's Steve Smith as the veteran receiver who will be rejuvenated with a standout rookie passer much like Smith had with Cam Newton in 2011. Wayne was the Luck-y recipient of nine catches for 135 yards on 18 targets in Week 1, and he benefited once Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman (shin) went down in the first half. The Vikings don't have anyone who can contain Wayne, and he should return to must-start status in all leagues.
Steve Johnson (vs. KC): Johnson had another quality game against the Jets in Week 1 with four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, although the score came when Revis was on the bench. Still, he was productive again, and he could see an increase in targets with David Nelson (knee) out. The Chiefs were abused for 34 Fantasy points by Atlanta's receiving corps in Week 1 with Julio Jones going for 108 yards and two touchdowns on six catches, and Johnson has nine catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns in two games against Kansas City over the past two years.
Eric Decker (at ATL): I love Demaryius Thomas in this game going back to his college town for Georgia Tech, but Decker should play well also. The Falcons have a beat up secondary, and Decker should be able to help in a shootout. Decker had a quiet first game against the Steelers with five catches for 54 yards, but he had seven targets. Manning will look to keep him active, and he should be a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver. The Falcons gave up double digits in Fantasy points to 12 receivers last year, including two in the same game three times (twice against New Orleans and once against Green Bay). Look for Thomas and Decker to reach that total this week.
Miles Austin (at SEA): His injured hamstring seemed fine in Week 1 against the Giants when he had four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Austin has now scored in four of his past five games going back to last year, and the Seahawks will have trouble stopping all of Dallas' weapons in Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray and Kevin Ogletree. That's right, Ogletree belongs. Tony Romo still trusts Austin in big spots, and his touchdown in Week 1 came in the fourth quarter to put the Giants away. We're glad Austin is back at 100 percent.
|Brandon LaFell||(vs. NO)||LaFell should remain hot against a cold New Orleans secondary.|
|Alshon Jeffery||(at GB)||Jeffery could be this year's Julio Jones or A.J. Green.|
|Randall Cobb||(vs. CHI)||No Greg Jennings (groin) is good for Cobb and James Jones.|
|Darrius Heyward-Bey||(at MIA)||This should be a good week for Oakland's passing game.|
|Danny Amendola||(vs. WAS)||Had 9 targets in Week 1 and should remain heavily involved again.|
DeSean Jackson (vs. BAL): Jackson played well in Week 1 against the Browns with four catches for 77 yards on 11 targets, but he has a tough matchup this week against the Ravens. He could see increased coverage if Jeremy Maclin (hip) is out, and the Ravens have done well against No. 1 receivers going back to last year with only Wallace and Kenny Britt reaching double digits in Fantasy points. In Week 1, the Ravens held A.J. Green to five catches for 70 yards, and seven Fantasy points in a standard league might be the ceiling for Jackson this week.
Mike Wallace (vs. NYJ): Wallace did a nice job in Week 1 at Denver with four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown on six targets, but he might get a matchup with Revis this week, which should be tough. Wallace had seven catches for 102 yards in his last meeting with the Jets in 2010, but we're not counting on Wallace to reach double digits in Fantasy points. He should be considered just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver for this week.
Justin Blackmon (vs. HOU): Maybe the ankle injury Blackmon had prior to Week 1 limited him against the Vikings when he had just three catches for 24 yards on six targets. He was wide open for a touchdown in the first quarter, but Gabbert overthrew him. This week, Blackmon has a tougher matchup against the Texans, who held the Dolphins' receivers to nine Fantasy points combined last week. We expect the Jaguars to do much better, but Houston's defense can be swarming. And we need to see Blackmon prove himself first before starting him as anything more than a No. 3 receiver in most leagues.
Titus Young (at SF): We still have high expectations for Young this season, but he can't be making "dumb" decisions, which is what coach Jim Schwartz said after Young head-butted Rams defender Janoris Jenkins in Week 1. Schwartz benched Young after that play, and he finished with two Fantasy points. He should improve this week, but his playing time could be limited in a disciplinary move, which makes him a risky Fantasy option. The 49ers also have a stellar secondary and could make this a difficult matchup for Young.
Kenny Britt (at SD): We're glad Britt is back from his suspension, but his snap count is expected to be limited coming back from last year's knee surgery. While he could easily score a touchdown, it's too risky to start him this week as anything more than a No. 3 Fantasy receiver. Let Britt prove he's back at 100 percent, and hopefully he can re-emerge as a starting Fantasy option in the majority of leagues.
Bust alert: Torrey Smith (at PHI): Smith struggled in Week 1 against the Bengals with just two catches for 57 yards, and he could have another tough week against the Eagles. Philadelphia hasn't allowed a receiver to reach more than 65 receiving yards in its past six games, including matchups with Marshall, Bryant and Austin. Smith should see plenty of Nnamdi Asomugha, and he should be considered more of a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best. He has plenty of upside this season, but this is not a good week to consider him a must-start option.
Jacob Tamme (at ATL): After a mediocre preseason, Tamme started out 2012 with a strong performance in Week 1 with five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on five targets. This week he faces a Falcons defense with a banged up secondary, and the Chiefs were able to have success with their tight ends last week against Atlanta with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Tamme has Top 10 Fantasy potential this week and could be on his way toward a breakout campaign.
Kyle Rudolph (at IND): The only thing missing for Rudolph in Week 1 was a touchdown because he also had a solid performance against Jacksonville with five catches for 67 yards. He had seven targets from Christian Ponder, and we hope that continues this week against the Colts. He should remain heavily involved in the passing game as the second-best weapon for Ponder after Percy Harvin, and we like him as a starting option in all leagues.
Coby Fleener (vs. MIN): This should be a fun game to watch with two of the best young tight ends in the NFL with Rudolph and Fleener. In Week 1 at Chicago, Fleener had six catches for 82 yards on 10 targets, and he should remain the No. 2 target for Luck behind Wayne, especially with Austin Collie (concussion) and T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) banged up. Marcedes Lewis had 11 Fantasy points against the Vikings last week.
|Owen Daniels||(at JAC)||Has two touchdowns in his past four games against the Jaguars.|
|Jermaine Gresham||(vs. CLE)||Has two touchdowns in his past two games against the Browns.|
|Scott Chandler||(vs. KC)||Had two touchdowns against the Chiefs in Week 1 last year.|
Brent Celek (vs. BAL): Celek had a nice game in Week 1 at Cleveland with four catches for 65 yards on eight targets, but he lost a touchdown to Clay Harbor and now has a tough matchup. He will benefit if safety Ed Reed (hamstring) is out, but the Ravens clamp down on tight ends. Baltimore was second in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends in 2011, and in Week 1 the Ravens held Jermaine Gresham to three catches for 30 yards.
Marcedes Lewis (vs. HOU): Lewis had a great debut in Week 1 at the Vikings with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, which was his first touchdown since 2010. But the matchup against the Texans could be difficult. Houston was third in fewest Fantasy points allowed to tight ends in 2011, and Lewis has just one touchdown in his past five meetings against the Texans with a high of five Fantasy points over that span.
Fred Davis (at STL): Davis has pulled a disappearing act with an uneventful preseason and just two catches for 38 yards on four targets in Week 1 at New Orleans, despite the Redskins going off for 40 points. We still expect Davis to play a prominent role, but you might have to see him more involved before starting him in all leagues. He could benefit if Pierre Garcon (foot) is out or limited, but Davis has Fantasy owners worried if you drafted him as your starter.
Bust alert: Greg Olsen (vs. NO): Olsen had a good debut in Week 1 at Tampa Bay with six catches for 56 yards on seven targets, but this could be a tougher matchup for him against the Saints. New Orleans now employs Steve Spagnuolo as the defensive coordinator, and he helped the Rams last year lead the league in fewest Fantasy points allowed against tight ends. The Saints were able to contain Davis in Week 1, and New Orleans also held Olsen to three catches for 21 yards and a touchdown in two games last season, which averages out to four Fantasy points a game. I'm not sure if Olsen will have much more than four Fantasy points this week again.
Patriots (vs. ARI): CBS analyst Phil Simms went on our Fantasy Football Today postgame show this past Sunday after announcing the game with the Patriots at the Titans, and he was raving about New England's defense. The Patriots had a defensive touchdown, one interception, two sacks and a fumble recovery while holding Tennessee to 13 points and 284 total yards. This week the Patriots get the Cardinals at home with Kevin Kolb under center behind a mediocre offensive line. Enough said.
Seahawks (vs. DAL): The Seahawks DST played well against the Cardinals in Week 1 while allowing 20 points, 253 total yards and two turnovers with only one sack. They will need a better effort against the Cowboys since Dallas is loaded with talent compared to Arizona. The Cowboys also had extra time to prepare for this game since they played Wednesday night in Week 1 in a dismantling effort against the Giants, and the Seahawks DST could be outmatched when it comes to their Fantasy value. We recommend benching the Seahawks DST this week for available options like the Redskins, Bengals and Raiders, who are all owned in less than 45 percent of leagues.
|Shayne Graham||at JAC|
|Blair Walsh||at IND|
|Billy Cundiff||at STL|
Nate Kaeding (vs. TEN): There were some great kicker performances in Week 1, including Billy Cundiff, Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker -- all surprising us with at least 14 Fantasy points. Kaeding was among that group with 16 points on five made field goals and one extra point at Oakland. Fantasy owners may have forgotten about Kaeding after he missed all of 2011 with a torn ACL, but he showed he can again be an elite Fantasy kicker in Week 1. He's still available in 28 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, so you might consider adding him and starting him this week against the Titans. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski had 10 Fantasy points against Tennessee last week, and Kaeding could reach double digits again in this matchup.
Jason Hanson (at SF): The Lions offense is hard to slow down, even for a great defense like the 49ers, but points should still be tough to come by. The 49ers limited the Packers to 22 points in Week 1, with kicker Mason Crosby getting just two extra points. In 2011, the 49ers were tied for second in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing kickers with 22 made field goals and 21 extra points. Hanson faced the 49ers last year at home and was 2 of 3 on field goals with one extra point, and playing outdoors also puts him at a disadvantage. He's worth benching this week in favor of Adam Vinatieri, Walsh or Cundiff, who are all owned in less than 25 percent of leagues.