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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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