The opening weekend of the 2016 NFL season was well worth the long months of waiting. There were eight games decided by four points or less which led to a bevy of fantastic finishes. A lot of big names came up flat especially at the running back position but it’s early and big names will come up with big totals soon enough. Be patient.
A deeper look shows that all in all RBs didn’t have that bad of a Week 1. There were actually 11 RBs that topped 100 total yards as receiving backs were all the rage in Week 1. That was the same number of WRs that topped 100 total yards in the opening weekend. Not so bad after all, eh?
One last quick note that I forgot to mention in last week’s opening before we look at Week 2. We obviously hit on four players at each position and decided on that number to keep this piece from becoming War and Peace.
So you’ll notice in my rankings that there may be a name ranked a little higher than a ‘Start’ selection that gets broken down that particular week. It’s really just a matter of which player I feel needs a bit more explaining as to why I consider him a start. Feel free to start the player that doesn’t get broken down in the article if you so choose. It basically means I consider the players close enough that each one could get the job done that week.
Let’s get to it.
Marcus Mariota, TENNESSEE at Detroit – Mariota had a decent stat line against the tough Vikings defense but his two costly turnovers were both defensive scores. He’ll find the going much easier against a Lions defense that just allowed over 400 total yards (21 rushing) and four touchdown passes to Andrew Luck. More importantly, they gave up three scores to the TE position and Mariota has one of the best in the league in Delanie Walker.
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA at Oakland – The Raiders secondary was a hot mess in week one. So much so that their big money free agent CB Sean Smith was benched. Ryan connected on 69% of his passes against the Buccaneers tossing a pair of scores while not turning the ball over. Oakland will have no answer for the Ryan-to-Julio Jones connection in a game that figures to be a shootout with two porous defenses.
Matthew Stafford, DETROIT vs. Tennessee – We are riding the hot hand here as Stafford looked very comfortable spreading the ball around in the absence of the retired Calvin Johnson. He used eight different receiving options and was especially effective in getting the ball to his fine pass-catching RBs. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick combined for 10 receptions for 120 yards with two TDs. Stafford has solid offensive weapons at every position and will carve up a Tennessee secondary that failed to create a turnover against career backup Shaun Hill.
Derek Carr, OAKLAND vs. Atlanta – Carr let us down last week posting only one touchdown pass in a high-scoring win against the Saints. He did lead his team to victory with a 2-point conversion pass to Michael Crabtree and returns home full of confidence. Carr also returns home to face an Atlanta secondary that was tuned up by Jameis Winston last week. Tampa Bay rolled up 281 passing yards and four passing touchdowns on the Falcons. Look for a bounce-back week from Carr.
Tyrod Taylor, BUFFALO vs. NY Jets – The Bills passing game was inept in the opener and Taylor failed to create any offense with his legs. Throw in the recent news that Sammy Watkins is dealing with a foot issue once again and we can’t trust putting Taylor anywhere near our starting lineups in a short week (Buffalo and New York play Thursday night).
Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh – This is not a favorable matchup for “The Red Rifle” as he’s often struggled from a fantasy perspective against the Steelers. In the two games last season, Dalton threw for one score while turning the ball over four times before getting injured. For his career, Dalton has 13 touchdowns (one rushing) against Pittsburgh and has turned the ball over 12 times. Those are not numbers we want from our starting QB.
Alex Smith, KANSAS CITY at Houston- Smith looked great in Week 1 leading the Chiefs to a come from behind win with a rushing TD to seal the deal. That’s all well and good but that was against the Chargers and this week Smith faces a J.J. Watt–led Texans defense. The Texans racked up five sacks last week and are looking for some payback after the embarrassing 30-0 loss to KC in the playoffs last year. By the way, in that blowout win, Smith only had 190 yards passing with one TD and an interception. There are better options this week.
Carson Wentz, PHILADELPHIA at Chicago – Yes. Wentz looked very good in his first career start tossing a pair of touchdowns while not turning the ball over. That was against Cleveland who I consider the second worst team in the league (congrats to the Los Angeles Rams for being THE worst team) and at home. While this Bears defense won’t be confused with “The Monsters of the Midway” they will be playing at home and did manage to keep Brock Osweiler from posting top-12 QB numbers last week. Let’s see a few fantasy productive games from Wentz before trusting him to lead our teams.