GAME SUMMARIES & FANTASY COMMENTARY:
Thursday Night Game:
Green Bay Packers 23 (1-1)
Chicago Bears 10 (1-1)
Fantasy Focus – Packers: The disappointing showing from Aaron Rodgers (219-1-1) is not a surprise. Despite what some think, it’s Greg Jennings (DNP – groin) who makes the Packers passing attack go. Jordy Nelson (6-84-0) topped Green Bay in receiving, but he’s much better as a No. 2 receiver with Jennings on the field commanding attention from top cover corners. Dropped passes and sloppy play continue to plague Jermichael Finley (4-26-0), while James Jones (2-(-1)-0) continues to show that he is inconsistent from week to week, even as a fill-in starter. The play of Cedric Benson (20-81-0 rushing and 4-35-0 receiving) was a pleasant surprise following his dud Week 1 showing. Randall Cobb (1-28-0 rushing and 1-20-0 receiving), as I warned you last week, likely will not be a consistent fantasy contributor.
What you should know: As you probably suspected, Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game will return to amassing astro-numbers when Jennings returns, so patience is in order. While Benson is worth a roster slot, he probably is not a savior for your team. The Packers remain a heavy pass-first offense, and Benson usually plays very well against his former team. Benson’s numbers versus the Bears could be his best game of 2012.
Fantasy Focus – Bears: The Bears offense looked like world beaters in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Monsters of the Midway played like eggbeaters against the Packers. Chicago had success running the football against the Pack (like the 49ers did in Week 1) with Matt Forte (14-54-0 rushing and 4-49-0 receiving) and Michael Bush (14-54-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving), but Chicago seemed determined to have Jay Cutler (126-1-4) do a Drew Brees impersonation, and Cutler was sacked seven times. Brandon Marshall (2-24-0) was blanketed all game long and dropped a touchdown grab in the end zone. With Marshall facing regular double teams, none of Chicago’s other receivers, including Earl Bennett (2-21-0), Alshon Jeffrey (1-7-0) and Devin Hester (0-0-0) stepped up.
What you should know: It’s obviously time to downgrade the Bears passing attack. Marshall remains a must-start, but Cutler rates as just a fantasy backup. Forget about the other Chicago receivers for now. Bush has solid No. 2 fantasy running back value going forward as a fill-in starter. Forte is not expected to return until after the Bears’ Week 6 Bye at the earliest.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Buffalo Bills 35 (1-1)
Kansas City Chiefs 17 (0-2)
Fantasy Focus – Bills: As you probably know, this game was the C.J. Spiller show. He shredded a sagging Kansas City defense for 170 total yards (15-123-2 rushing and 3-47-0 receiving). Since Spiller was running so well, Ryan Fitzpatrick (178-2-0) settled into a game-manager role with solid contributions from Steve Johnson (2-56-1) and Scott Chandler (2-53-1). After laying an egg last week, Buffalo’s revamped high-priced defense played much better, racking up five sacks, two picks and two recovered fumbles.
What you should know: Spiller obviously is the heart and soul of the Bills offense until Fred Jackson (leg) returns. Did anyone step up in place of David Nelson? Nope. Brad Smith, T.J. Graham and Brad Smith each caught just one ball. However, it looks like Chandler could be settling in as Fitzpatrick’s second option in the passing game. Chandler is coming off two straight solid outings (4-38-1 in Week 1 and 2-53-1 in Week 2) and has some fantasy potential as a backup. Johnson is the only reliable Bills receiver to play right now. Fitzpatrick remains a No. 2 fantasy triggerman. The Buffalo defense looks like a better play on its home field.
Fantasy Focus – Kansas City: The Chiefs want to run the football with a one-two punch of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis every week. However, Charles (6-3-0 rushing and 3-19-0) never got on track, and Hillis (11-66-0 rushing and 2-25-0 receiving) didn’t do much when it mattered. And it’s hard to run the football when you fall behind 21-0 at the half. Matt Cassel (301-2-1) also did little when this game mattered, padding his numbers thanks to some garbage-time production. Dwayne Bowe (8-102-2) led all Chiefs receivers while Jon Baldwin (3-62-0) had a quiet game. Week 1 waiver-wire favorite Dexter McCluster (4-32-0) was quiet.
What you should know: Unless your team is absolutely loaded at running back, don’t give up on Charles or Hillis. However, it looks like the Kansas City will use a “hot-hand” approach with Charles and Hillis, which obviously makes either one a somewhat risky start each week. Bowe maintains must-start status. As long as Bowe is producing, Baldwin and especially McCluster are risky plays.
Carolina Panthers 35 (1-1)
New Orleans Saints
Fantasy Focus – Panthers: Carolina got back to running the football this week, amassing 219 rushing yards and three rushing scores as a team against a very porous New Orleans defense. Jonathan Stewart (11-51-0 rushing and 1-17-1 receiving) made his 2012 debut after sitting out Week 1 with an ankle injury. DeAngelo Williams (14-69-1) and Michael Tolbert (2-3-1 rushing and 2-23-0 receiving) did their part to make the ground game click. Cam Newton (253-1-0 passing and 13-71-1 rushing) looked more in control this week. Smith (3-104-0) led all Carolina receivers. Olsen (1-13) did little, but he really wasn’t needed this week.
What you should know: Brandon LaFell is setting in as the second option in the passing attack. He has amassed two solid lines in a row (3-65-1 in Week 1 and 6-90-0 in Week 2). Stewart remains the most valuable Panthers running back. Williams, however, usually rates as just a flex option. The xx-year pro rarely catches passes (he didn’t catch any in Week 2), which makes his fantasy value heavily dependent on scoring. If Williams doesn’t score, his fantasy outing. Don’t expect regular touches for Tolbert each week with Williams and Stewart in front of him on the depth chart.
Fantasy Focus – Saints: Although Darren Sproles (13-128-0 receiving) didn’t receive any rushing attempts for the second week in a row, nobody is complaining – especially owners in leagues with PPR scoring. His Week 2 stat line is a career best in a Saints uniform. Like Carolina, the New Orleans also got back to running the ball with Pierre Thomas (9-110-0 rushing and 4-33-0 receiving) and Mark Ingram (16-53-1). Jimmy Graham (6-85-1 in Week 1 and 7-71-1 in Week 2) is off to a hot start, but Lance Moore (6-120-0 in Week 1 and 2-30-0 in Week 2) cooled off.
What you should know: Although New Orleans has lost two straight, they’re still amassing great fantasy stats. If Sproles isn’t going to tote the rock regularly, Ingram’s value receives a small boost. Marques Colston (4-71-0 in Week 1 and 3-49-0 in Week 2) is off to a slow start, and there are whispers that he is playing with a bum knee. If you’re stacked at receiver, think about sitting him. Otherwise, give Colston another shot in Week 3 against a sagging Kansas City Chiefs defense. Moore should bounce back since Sproles won’t catch 13 passes every week. Drew Brees (325-1-2) had a somewhat disappointing outing by his standards, but keep in mind the Saints triggerman usually plays better in doors.