The 2009 NFL season kicked off with a bang last weekend, providing us fans with the excitement, action, and superb highlights that we've come to expect out of the country's greatest sports league. While there wasn't a catastrophic injury that will impact fantasy owners like the one suffered by Patriots QB Tom Brady in week 1 of the 2008 season, there were a few that will surely hurt fantasy owners for the next few weeks. Donovan McNabb, Anthony Gonzalez, and LaDanian Tomlinson all got banged up and will not see any action in week 2, causing owners to look elsewhere for production at key positions. You never like to see players go down, but it's part of the game and an important aspect of fantasy football is dealing with adverse situations like early season injuries to your stars. Finding viable replacements can be a bit tricky this early since there's such a small sample size of games to analyze, but there are a lot of good reads throughout the Internet where you can find helpful information to help you make those decisions. I recommend http://www.rotoworld.com/ as a site that has thoughtful commentary geared towards fantasy owners.
I'll be the first to admit it, my juice wasn't the freshest last week, but it surely wasn't bad. Sure, the Bengals and Broncos game was not the high scoring affair I'd thought it would be, but Cedric Benson put up good numbers in the Bengals' heartbreaking loss. Looking back on my picks, I'd say I was about 50% on, with Flacco and my tight ends (minus Greg Olsen, who will bounce back) being the top performers of the group, and Palmer and Schaub being the worst. Now that I've got a full set of games to look at, I expect this week's juice to taste like Minute Maid (my favorite OJ on the planet). I've been incredibly busy with work so I've had to cut down on the commentary, but here are the players you should consider plugging into your lineups this weekend.
1. Joe Flacco (Bal) at San Diego: I've gotta stick with Flacco after last week's 307 yard, 3 touchdown performance. The Chargers defense looked pretty suspect against the Raiders on Monday night and, while they'll probably do a little better at home, they've always had difficulty stopping tight ends, which is really going to hurt them on Sunday against Flacco and TE Todd Heap. I'm not expecting another 300-yard game from Flacco, but 250 and a few touchdowns is certainly within reach.
2. Trent Edwards (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: He seemed hesitant to throw deep on Monday night, but Trent Edwards looked solid against the Patriots in week 1. He's got a nice looking matchup against a Bucs defense that got annhilated against Tony Romo and the Cowboys last weekend and I've got a feeling Terrell Owens is going to have a monster game. That adds up nicely for Edwards, who's careful with the football and also has Lee Evans to throw to opposite TO.
3. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) vs. New England: I'm starting to believe more and more every week this rookie is the real deal. The guy looked solid in the preseason and continued that success last weekend against the Texans. Further, the Patriots secondary looked vulnerable against Edwards and the Bills on Monday night. I like the weapons surrounding Sanchez, especially Leon Washington, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller, making him an even more enticing QB option. Plus, the Pats will probably put up some points, forcing Sanchez and the Jets to air it out plenty.
1. Darren McFadden (Oak) at Kansas City: Need I go back a year to McFadden's week 2 trip to Kansas City in 2008? Okay, I will just for fun. Hmmm, it looks like he dominated the Chiefs in KC last year, rushing 21 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. Like I said in last week's post, the Raiders offense will go as McFadden goes, so he'll get plenty of opportunity to shine, especially against a team with a run defense as poor as the Chiefs'. Sure, Michael Bush will get his share of carries (including goal-line duties), but McFadden is too good to sit this week.
2. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) at Dallas: Bradshaw outperformed Brandon Jacobs last week and the Cowboy run defense was suspect against the Bucs running back committee (which is much, MUCH weaker than the Jacobs/Bradshaw combo).
3. Fred Jackson (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: Jackson's productive game against New England last Monday night was not what Marshawn Lynch owners wanted to see. While he was only decent as a runner, he was incredibly effective as a receiver. I think he's going to be a big part of what the Bills do tomorrow and will have more success on the ground against a Bucs defense that gave up 4.9 yards per rush last weekend against Dallas.
1. Lee Evans (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: He let me down in week 1, but I'm going right back to him this week against the Bucs. Tampa's got a big weakness at both safety positions, which bodes well for the speedy Evans. He won't blow you away with his reception total, but I believe he'll break a big play this weekend.
2. Percy Harvin (Min) at Detroit: After week 1 it's official that Harvin's explosiveness has transferred from college to the pros. While he didn't get the ball a whole lot last weekend, he made the most of his opportunities and he gets an even worse defense to pick on this week.
3. Louis Murphy (Oak) at Kansas City: The Raiders will probably run all game long, but to win they must balance their attack to a certain extent. Russell was very inaccurate on Monday night against the Chargers, but it's clear that Murphy is the WR he trusts most. The Raiders are incredibly thin at WR this week with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Nick Miller banged up, so Murphy will be on the field most of the game. TE Zach Miller will lead the team in receptions again, but Murphy could rack up the yards against an awful Chiefs secondary.
1. Zach Miller (Oak) at Kansas City: He's the best receiving option in Oakland and he faces a terrible Chiefs defense. There's really nothing not to like about Miller this week.
2. Todd Heap (Bal) at San Diego: As Zach Miller showed everyone on Monday, the Chargers still cannot stop a tight end. Heap was outstanding in the Ravens' week 1 win over the Chiefs and I expect him to put up big numbers in San Diaaaaaaaago.
3. Dustin Keller (NYJ) vs. New England: Keller got off to a great start last week against the Texans. As I've been saying about Keller, he's going to see plenty of targets with a rookie QB under center. Sanchez will need more of the same from Keller if the Jets are going to compete with the Pats tomorrow.