Ever spend a Sunday morning or early afternoon constantly flipping a guy in and out of your final WR or Flex spot? Ever had an opening week where you were stuck between starting Steve Smith or Austin Collie and the rosters locked before you could decide to put Smith in? There’s got to be a better way!
Every week, I’m going to give you a few thoughts on guys I think could have a big week who are predominantly benched, along with guys who are in most starting line-ups that shouldn’t be. But as a disclaimer! I am not saying bench any of the aforementioned sleepers for the starters I’m saying may fizzle out. These are just ideas to help you hone in on your final line-up.
The percentage numbers listed are players’ percent started in ESPN then percent started in Yahoo:
Austin Collie (5.6%, 19%) – I know it’s near impossible to feel good starting a guy who put up a fat zero in the opening week. I also know it’s near impossible to want to start the third target for Kerry Collins. Call me crazy, but I think Collie has a big bounce-back week. The Colts are up against the Browns this Sunday, and while the Browns don’t boast any sort of intimidation factor, they did limit Bengals #1 receiver A.J. Green to just one catch (albeit a 41-yard TD) in their opener. I expect the Colts to really push their offense to see what they have in Collins, and the Browns to continually double Wayne and Clark, giving Collie plentiful opportunities. He did have an apparent touchdown called out-of-bounds in week one that you won’t see in the stat line, adding to the optimism that Collie isn’t completely lost without Manning behind center.
Willis McGahee (11.8%, 11%) – I expect these percentages to rise when Knowshon Moreno is officially ruled out with a bum hamstring, which will move McGahee into the lead back role. The Broncos get a nice matchup against Cincinnati, and while the Bengals did shut down Peyton Hillis last week, he still managed 87 total yards when it was all said and done. John Fox is more in love with the run than Sarah Palin is with Michigan basketball players, and with Brandon Lloyd possibly sitting out, it’s going to be a run first, second, and third offense, except when they maybe throw a screen pass. I think McGahee will easily get to 25 touches and find the endzone at some point in the game. Start confidentially.
Malcolm Floyd (8.6%, 24%) – I’m pretty sure most of you reading this caught the Dolphins/Pats Monday night ridiculous shoot-out, that even had Ron Jaworski forgetting the mic was on. With a big-time matchup between the Bolts and Patriots this Sunday, I don’t expect any of that to change. The Patriots defense did a lot of bending and not breaking, but with Phillip Rivers throwing on them instead of Chad Henne, I expect some pretty wild numbers. Vincent Jackson is obviously the guy, but after seeing what Davone Bess and Brian Hartline did alongside #1 target Brandon Marshall against the Pats’ secondary, I think Floyd has a huge game in this shootout.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (8.8% 16%) – If you have Fitzpatrick, chances are you have one of the top-10 QBs that all have pretty favorable matchups this week. That being said, Fitzpatrick is going to have yet another big game week 2 with Oakland coming into town. I know the Broncos passing game didn’t look like what it was last year against the Rayyydahhhs, but I attribute a lot of that to John Fox’s aforementioned “run every down or you’re fired” philosophy. With Nnamdi out of Oakland, the Raiders secondary is much more porous, and I see Fitzpatrick having at least another 2-TD game. Since becoming the starter in week 3 last year, he’s been as legit and consistent a QB as anyone, only having one game without a TD.
Johnny Knox (15.8%, 18%) – Perennial bust Roy Williams, who can’t even be considered a bust anymore because he’s so bad, is probably out for week 2 with a groin strain, giving Johnny Knox a start on the turf in Nawleans. Knox had 3 catches for 60 yards in week 1 against the Falcons, slightly limited by the Bears not needing big plays for the majority of the 2nd half after building a strong lead. Expect the Saints to come out all cylinders firing and not fall into the dump-it-short trap the Falcons fell into, which will open the Bears’ playbook in catch-up mode. I like Knox a ton this week, especially when you consider Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings torched the Saints’ secondary (not to mention Donald Driver actually looked competent as well). Seeing an 80+ yard game with a score from Knox is entirely realistic.
Anthony Fasano (0.5%, 0%) – More for deeper or 2-TE leagues, I think Fasano has another big game against the Texans in week 2. I liked what I saw when Fasano got his looks; he was unafraid to get balls across the middle, and was nabbing catches with one hand with ease. I think Henne gets a lot of spread formations to work with again in week 2, giving Fasano a lot of room to build on his 82-yard opening game. We’re going see a lot of passing in this game against the Texans’, so if you’re hard pressed to find a TE you want to start, Fasano is guy out there in almost every league that you can count on a big game from.
Son of a Bench:
Rashard Mendenhall (98.5%, 93%) – I know it would be almost impossible to bench Mendenhall if you got him, but I don’t think this a week where you’re gonna get much out of him. On paper, the Seattle defense looks like a saucy matchup, but the Steelers are having so many problems with their offensive line, I don’t think Mendenhall is going to find any room to run. With Willie Colon on IR among the other Steelers issues up front, the Seahawks are not going to hesitate in exploiting them with confusing schemes and constant pressure. Not to mention that Seattle held Frank Gore to 59 yards on 22 carries on the ground last Sunday. I know it’s going to be painstakingly hard to bench Mendenhall, but if you have some solid options behind him, I think it’s the right way to go.
DeAngelo Williams (87.8%, 42%) – What a wild spread for the starting percentage of Williams… But I’m going to side with the Yahoo crowd and agree he shouldn’t be predominantly started. The Panthers have a tough matchup against the Pack, who limited the Saints’ backfield in the ground game in last Thursday’s opener. The Packers did give up a lot of yards to the Saints’ backs in the passing game, but I don’t see Cam Newton and the Panthers utilizing their backs in the same manner. The Panthers are going to be down early, and don’t use running back check downs very often to advance the ball in catch-up mode. This is going to be another tough week for Williams owners; it might as well be a tough week with him on your bench.
Reggie Wayne (89.9%, 93%) – Wayne was pretty much the only Colts player who had a good opening game, but the Browns saw that as well. Building off my argument to play Collie, if Wayne doesn’t have double-coverage throughout week 2’s contest, I think the Browns have some major defensive game-planning issues. Now I’m obviously not saying I would bench Wayne for Collie, but if I was in an ESPN-Standard 2-WR league, I could think of numerous situations where I would let Wayne ride the pine.
Beanie Wells (84.4%, 53%) – Even though he had a nice debut against the Panthers, let’s be honest, my Panthers aren’t exactly a stout D. The Cardinals go up against a much-revitalized Redskins defense this week, and Beanie Wells is going to get beanied. The Giants had a tough time getting their ground game moving and it’s going to be the same story for the Birds. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wells and the rushing attack get ignored early.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (77.1%, 46%) – Minus an early short-yardage TD, the law firm didn’t have any sort of prominence in the Patriots’ offense in their opener. A lot of BJGE supporters claim, “it was just an offensive matchup decision” that limited his touches in favor of Danny Woodhead, but I don’t think the law firm has enough of a role in that offense to warrant a start any time soon. As mentioned earlier, I also think the Pats/Bolts matchup is going to quickly become a shootout, giving BJGE even fewer opportunities.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone in week 2!