Week 1 is always such a joy to watch. There’s that new-season smell in the air, every team in the league has Super Bowl aspirations, and you’re sure your fantasy team is headed for greatness. But for some of us, there’s less optimism heading into Week 2. Your favorite real team got embarrassed by the Raiders on national television, and your fake team got trounced by your buddy’s squad, and he literally won’t stop talking about it.

But it’s ok, friends. A new week is upon us, and the Backup Plan is here for you. By my rudimentary calculations, five of the 13 players I recommended in Week 1 had good fantasy performances. You may say I did a horrible job, but if I were playing baseball, I would be batting about .385 for the season. Those are Hall of Fame numbers right there.

So same deal for this week: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys I think they’ll be better than this week.

Quarterbacks

Rex Grossman vs. Arizona

Yahoo: 15 percent owned, ESPN: 9 percent owned

Leading a column with a Rex Grossman endorsement is probably a good way to lose readers, but hear me out. No-sex Rex threw for 300+ yards and two scores last week, and his prospects look even better this week, as he’s facing a Cardinals defense that allowed Cam Newton to throw for something like a billion yards in his first start last week. I know Rex is Gross, Man, but you could definitely do worse off the waiver wire.

Guys he’s better than this week: Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez

Chad Henne vs. Houston

Yahoo: 32 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned

Quick quiz: who scored the second-most fantasy points at QB in Week 1? If you actually answered Chad Henne, that’s the first and last time you’ll ever be right about anything. Henne seemed to finally learn how to play quarterback in his first game of the season, and while there’s little reason to believe that will continue, he is worth your attention in Week 2. The Texans’ defense isn’t much to fear, so Henne could very well put up some decent numbers again this week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Cam Newton, Kyle Orton

Colt McCoy vs. Indianapolis

Yahoo: 36 percent owned, ESPN: 19 percent owned

I’ll probably end up recommending McCoy every week this season, so just go ahead and get used to it. He’s the perfect fill-in; good enough to feel safe starting him in good matchups, but not good enough that you feel like you need to waste a roster spot on him. The Colts defense will likely stop no one this year, so McCoy could be another solid matchup play in Week 2.

Guys he’s better than this week: Matt Cassel, Donovan McNabb

Running Backs

Cadillac Williams vs. New York Giants

Yahoo: 49 percent owned, ESPN: 48 percent owned

I don’t even understand how this guy isn’t owned everywhere for this week. Steven Jackson is likely out, and the Rams have said Cadillac will get a heavy workload with quarterback Sam Bradford nursing a finger injury. You may not trust him, but Williams can help you this week. He’s like a worn down old, well, Cadillac; he’s kind of beat up and could break down at any moment, but for now, he’ll get you where you need to go.

Guys he’s better than this week: DeAngelo Williams, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Ben Tate vs. Miami

Yahoo: 44 percent owned, ESPN: 51 percent owned

Ok, I get that people might be slow to pounce on Cadillac. But slow to add a guy who rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown last week? C’mon. Yes, Arian Foster is practicing and likely going to play, but Gary Kubiak is sure to ease him back to full-time carries, and you can’t ignore the success Tate had in Week 1. If you need help at your flex spot, Tate is a good play until Foster proves he’s all the way back.

Guys he’s better than this week: Marshawn Lynch, Pierre Thomas

Willis McGahee vs. Cincinnati

Yahoo: 53 percent owned, ESPN: 95 percent owned

ESPN users, you can go ahead and skip to the wide receiver section. You guys obviously understand that Knowshon Moreno can’t stay healthy for more than six consecutive carries, but the YAHOOligans apparently didn’t get that memo. Moreno is again nursing a hamstring injury this week (surprise!), so McGahee will see plenty of action on Sunday. The Broncos aren’t any good, but they should be good enough to get McGahee 50-60 yards and a touchdown if Knowshon can’t go.

Guys he’s better than this week: Joseph Addai, James Starks/Ryan Grant

Wide Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders vs. Seattle

Yahoo: 13 percent owned, ESPN: 8 percent owned

Sanders got the crap-end of the targets breakdown last week compared to the other Steelers pass-catchers, but he won’t stay down there for long. The Steelers are going to play angry after the Ravens made them look like a middle school team in Week 1, and it’s not like the Seahawks defense is going to stop anybody. Sanders will likely get a lot of looks in the slot this week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Pierre Garcon/Austin Collie, Hines Ward

Early Doucet vs. Washington

Yahoo: 26 percent owned, ESPN: 9 percent owned

Starting a guy playing opposite a team’s stud receiver is never a bad idea, and Doucet fits that bill for the Cardinals playing second fiddle to Larry Fitzgerald. He had 105 yards and a score on just three catches last week, and it’s possible that Kolb could look his way more this week. Don’t expect triple-digits again, but Early could be good for 70+ yards and maybe a score against a mediocre Redskins secondary.

Guys he’s better than this week: Chad Ochocinco, Braylon Edwards

Jacoby Jones vs. Miami

Yahoo: 29 percent owned, ESPN: 9 percent owned

Using a similar strategy, Kevin Walter is out for Houston this week, so Jacoby Jones is all set to be Andre Johnson’s new sidekick. The Dolphins will probably be so focused on Johnson and Arian Foster that they’ll forget that the Texans even have other players, so the speedy Jones might be able to sneak past them for a few catches. 50+ yards isn’t out of the question, and who know, maybe he’ll return another punt for a touchdown.

Guys he’s better than this week: Jordy Nelson, Devery Henderson

Tight Ends

Fred Davis vs. Arizona

Yahoo: 10 percent owned, ESPN: 9 percent owned

Everybody owns the guy with the name, but nobody owns the guy getting the touches. Chris Cooley is still well more owned than Freddy, but Davis had 105 receiving yards last week and Cooley had just 21. I’m no math whiz, but it seems like Davis got more play. The Cardinals defense is bad this season, so I would play the dude currently catching the ball and bench the dude who used to catch it like two years ago.

Guys he’s better than this week: Marcedes Lewis, Tony Gonzalez

Jermaine Gresham vs. Denver

Yahoo: 21 percent owned, ESPN: 13 percent owned

To be honest, I’ll start just about anybody facing off against the Broncos defense this season. Young quarterbacks love them some TEs, so if the rookie Andy Dalton is healthy this week, Gresham should definitely get some looks his way. He had nearly 60 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and he could equal those numbers against a bad Broncos defense if Dalton is the guy targeting him.

Guys he’s better than this week: Brandon Pettigrew, Zach Miller

Defense/Special Teams

Cleveland vs. Indianapolis

Yahoo: 17 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent owned

I told you to pick up the Cleveland defense last week, and it was a failure. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The Colts looked completely hapless with Kerry Collins under center in Week 1, and it’s not likely to get better anytime soon. The Browns are not a dynamic unit, but they should be a good bet to get some fantasy points against Indianapolis.

Defenses they’re better than this week: Atlanta, New York Giants

Dallas vs. San Francisco

Yahoo: 66 percent owned, ESPN: 23 percent owned

Now we have a pickup for the ESPNites of the world. Yahoo loves the Dallas defense for some reason, but ESPN does not. That should change this weekend, however, because I like just about any defense playing against Alex Smith. He threw for 124 yards in Week 1. Against the Seahawks. If that’s his level of play against the Cowboys, he’ll probably total negative-16 yards and throw nine interceptions. Or something comparable to that.

Defenses they’re better than this week: New England, San Diego

  1. Dan says:
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    Where does Fitzpatrick fit on your QB chart? I presonally like him better than Grossman, Henne and McCoy. I think he realy came on last year after becoming the starter and think/hope/blame Peyton for needing him to be a top 10 fantasy QB this year.

  2. Josh Vitale says:
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    @Dan: I like Fitzpatrick more than all the guys I mentioned. Had a big day last week, and the Raiders defense is nothing to be afraid of. I don’t know if you’ll get top-10 out of him, but if he continues to play well top-15 is not out of the question.

  3. elwood blues says:
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    Do you like Doucet over Gibson.. this week and moving forward?

  4. djbooyah20 says:
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    Trade Q –
    Current roster: Vick, Roddy, BMarsh, VJax, Britt, M. Thomas, McFadden, Forte, F. Jones, J. Best, Owen Daniels. League is PPR and 2 WR, 2 RB, RB/WR Flex

    My buddy is shopping A. Gates to me hard, he has Gronk and is a NE fan so he is willing to let Gates move on.

    After SD’s performance last week I am unsure, but weary of owning both Gates and VJax either way as it’ll be hard for them to both consistently put up numbers together. He asked for Britt and Felix Jones for Gates, I said negative. But I’m considering a fair swap of VJax for Gates? What do you think, win or lose? Can you think of another offer that makes more sense, maybe a Mike Thomas and Best? Or is that not nearly enough?

  5. Josh Vitale says:
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    @elwood blues: This week I like Doucet, but ROS probably Gibson. Doucet will probably be very inconsistent, and if Gibson and Bradford can play well together while Amendola is out he could be solid all year.

    @djbooyah20: I would obviously try to get Gates if you can. Chargers may not have been great in Week 1, but Gates is a stud. And honestly, I think Britt and Felix is fair for him. I like Felix, but I like McFadden, Forte and Best more, and Britt is clearly only your 4th best WR. Take out Britt/Felix and add Gates and that’s a pretty stacked team. I would hold V-Jax, because he’ll still be a stud this season.

  6. elwood blues says:
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    Yeah, I don’t need a starter this week. I am looking for something down the road, and replace Crabtree. Thnx.

  7. djbooyah20 says:
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    I agree on paper, but can I really get 10+ points each week from Gates and VJax? With Tolbert hogging all the TDs, that rollie pollie son of a B!!

  8. djbooyah20 says:
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    And do you like it EVEN more if I can snag a Joesph Addia or James Stark with Gates? He may bite on it..

  9. Josh Vitale says:
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    @elwood blues: I like all the guys here for this week, but some of them have a lot of down the road potential. If Emmanuel Sanders is available in your league, scoop him up.

    @djbooyah20: If you can get Starks, do it. And I understand your skepticism, and I would be too if V-Jax was my No. 1 WR. But the beauty for you is that he’s only your No. 2 or 3 WR, so you’re not relying on him at all. I hate having two guys on the same team too, but both these guys are studs.

  10. Sensei says:
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    Any advice for trading draft picks and would you do this trade?

    I’ve been offered Stafford and Rd 5 pick for Hightower and Rd 3 pick.

    My current lineup looks like this:
    We start 1QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX.
    My Lineup is: Eli Manning, J. Charles, F. Jones, R. White, M. Manningham, L. Moore, T. Hightower
    Bench: J. Starks, J. Harrison, D. Bess, N. Burleson, M. Massaqoui, A. Brown

  11. Random Collmenter says:
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    You like Eli or Kolb this week? I’m leaning Kolb…

    btw you have a typo in the last entry, Dallas v Minnesota instead of Dallas v San Fran.

  12. Dion says:
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    My team is J Freemond, A.P., Forte, M Wallace, Mike Williams (TB), Jermaine Gersham, San Diego Defense, David Akers…

    S Johnson (Buf), E Doucet, Cutler, L Kendricks, Delone Carter, C.J. Spiller, and Daji Karim…..

    Both my QB’s have the same bye week.. (I was a bone head) No one in my league is willing to deal unless it involves S Johnson or one of my starters.

    Should I ride it out and wait to pick up a qb week 8 or do you see a worthy combo of trade bait on my current roster?

  13. Josh Vitale says:
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    @Sensei: I’m a huge Stafford fan this year, so I would definitely consider that trade. Manning is pretty bleh at QB, and Hightower isn’t all that great. If you can stomach the loss at RB, I might go for that. But maybe see if you can give up a little it lower of a draft pick. I don’t think Staffrd is quite worth a 3rd.

    @Random Collmenter: I would lean Kolb as well. Manning looked pretty bad in his first start, and, while Manning couldn’t do anything against them, Washington’s secondary isn’t all that great. I like Kolb to have a good game against them.

  14. DaBears says:
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    Would you start Steve Johnson or Cadillac Williams this week at the flex spot?

  15. CL says:
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    Josh:

    Pick 2 to start and 1 to drop please:

    Lee Evans, Jacoby Jones, Emanuel Sanders, and Sidney Rice.

    Thanks man! Enjoy the weekend!

  16. El Gato says:
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    Need a WR3 with big upside — going against a tough opponent and pickings are slim –

    Eric Decker (assume Lloyd is out)
    Brandon Gibson
    Lee Evans
    Earl Bennett
    Jabar Gaffney

    Who you got? Thanks!

  17. CL says:
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    by the way, my league is 12 team, 1 PPR with return yards.

  18. Commish Cauda says:
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    12-team, 0.5 PPR w/bonuses for long TDs (40+, 50+)

    Austin Collie is my WR3. I also own Greg Little and Antonio Brown

    Unfortunately, all of your above suggestions are already owned. Any of these guys better options?

    Mike Sims-Walker
    Greg Salas
    Doug Baldwin
    Jerome Simpson
    Donald Driver
    Dom Hixon
    David Nelson
    Earl Bennet
    Donald Jones

    Thanks.

    MJC

  19. Josh Vitale says:
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    @DaBears: I like Cadillac this week. Should have a huge workload on MNF, so could be good for a big fantasy day.

    @CL: This week, the ones to start are Sanders and Jones, because Lee is questionable and Rice isn’t playing. If it’s a return yards league, I would say drop Evans, because even if Jones only plays like a WR3, he’ll be money with return yardage.

    @El Gato: I like Jabar a lot this week. The Cardinals secondary is atrocious, and Rex seems to like Gaffney. I’d say him first, and Gibson second.

  20. Josh Vitale says:
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    @Commish Cauda: I like Mike Sims-Walker still. He’s obviously very inconsistent, but he is technically the No. 1 WR for the Rams, and the Giants secondary is a mess. Not a bad option this week and going forward. And with Manning out, he’s probably a better bet than Collie.

  21. Commish Cauda says:
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    Thanks.

    How about Caddy vs. Reggie Bush this week in a non-PPR?

  22. Will J says:
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    Please. Please help. My hair is graying, my blood pressure rising.

    I have Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Lloyd (who’s back at practice), Steve Smith, and Jordy Nelson. I can start 3 of them. WHO’S IT GONNA BE?

    Right now I have Lloyd sitting, but I just don’t know.

  23. Josh Vitale says:
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    @Commish Cauda: If S-Jax is definitely out, then I like Caddy. If S-Jax plays, Reggie Bush.

    @Will J: If Brandon lloyd plays, he has to start. And I would say you have to start Bradshaw, because the Giants have said they’re going to run it a lot this week with Nicks out. And it has to be Smith over Jordy, because Jordy is fighting for touches while Cam will likely throw to Smith a bajillion times.

  24. Kojak says:
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    Should I play Henne or Sanchez this week? By your post, I’d say Henne because you’re picking Rex Gross. Man. over Sanchez in “Guys he’s better than this week”.

    I need to lock this up soon. Would love to hear your feedback.

  25. SDRE says:
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    I have Stafford as my QB and Sanchez as the backup. Would you rather have Sanchez or Grossman as your backup rest of the season?
    My thinking is that if Stafford gets hurt, there’s more upside with Grossman. If Stafford stays healthy, Sanchez has a really good playoff schedule.

  26. Josh Vitale says:
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    @Kojak: Henne this week. Texans defense is still not that strong, and Henne looked good in Week 1. Sanchez is still just mediocre at best for fantasy purposes.

    @SDRE: Though I don’t like Sanchez as a fantasy QB, he might be the better backup option. Rex might have more upside, but Sanchez is clearly the safer play. You know he won’t lose his job at any point this season, so he’s a smarter person to keep on the bench in case there’s a Stafford injury.

  27. Shippity says:
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    I was a little too harsh last week (understatement). For whatever little it’s worth, I’m warming up to this column. I think it’s just a tough column to write for week one but will become increasing useful as the season progresses. Thanks.

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