The NFC North finds itself in an unusual position entering week 2, with the Detroit Lions leading, and presumptive division favourites Green Bay in third place. Seeing the Chicago Bears’ offense in competitive action was also interesting for fantasy players. Here, we look at all the important matchups in the division.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at CHICAGO BEARS
While he didn’t put up big stats last week, Cutler (as he has done so often in his career) flashed brilliance. With an improved surrounding cast, Cutler has low QB-1 potential. However, this week in particular, starting him carries risk, as this game could be an all-out ground war. Consider yourselves warned.
Christian Ponder just isn’t very good at football, real life or fantasy. AVOID.
Forte didn’t have the huge game many were expecting last week. As this column pointed out last week, he was more likely to put up RB2 numbers. This week, he should be much closer to RB1 figures. The Vikings’ defense isn’t the powerhouse it used to be, and Forte should also be more involved in the passing game. Start him with confidence.
Best RB in fantasy football. Bar none. That’s literally all that can be said about Purple Jesus.
As we predicted last week, Mashall’s volume was down, but his production wasn’t. Look for that to continue this week, and for the rest of the season. A top-3 WR this week, just like most weeks.
While he didn’t have big yardage last week, Alshon was targeted 8 times, which bodes very well for his future value. Teams will have to scheme against Marshall, leaving Jeffery singled in coverage. He’s a good bet to add a TD to another 60-yard game this week.
Simpson will be one of the hottest waiver wire pickups this week. This is understandable after he blew up for 140 yards, but bear in mind that is over half of his total yardage from all of last season. He is a serviceable player to have on your bench, but expecting him to produce at this level consistently, or even again at any point in the season, might be wishful thinking. His athleticism gives him alluring upside, but as noted above, Ponder simply isn’t good enough to help sustain this level of performance. Particularly this week, with Chicago’s elite cornerbacks, 60-70 yards seems much more viable.
Greg Jennings/Cordarrelle Patterson
While he only came down with 3 catches, Jennings was actually only finished with one target less than Simpson. He will have better games this season, but predicting that this game against the Bears will be one of them is dangerous. He’s best left on your bench this week. Patterson had just one target and one catch for 10 yards, while playing just 5 offensive snaps. He has a lot of work to do to be a consistent contributor for his real life team, much less your fantasy squad.
Bennett looks like he will be a very valuable addition to the Bears, providing them with a very strong blocker and another matchup problem. He had 6 targets last week, and made a spectacular catch on his 8-yard TD. He seems to have Cutler’s trust already, and is a strong bet to put up another TD against a Vikings D who gave up 5 catches and a TD to Lions tight ends last week.
Rudolph was ineffective last week, with just 2 catches for 27 yards. His value seems entirely dependent on red zone usage, and while he is exceptionally productive there (87% RZ catch rate over 2 seasons), it’s a dangerous line to tread. The bright spot is that Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham combined for 10 catches against the Bears last week. He should get close to doubling his yardage in week 2.
This is a great matchup for the Bears D/ST, going against the erratic and inconsistent Ponder. A surefire top-5 unit.
Not a viable start this week against the Bears and their plethora of weapons. There will be better options on the waiver wire.
Gould only attempted one field goal last week, but converted it from 58 yards. He might not get many attempts again this week. A very middle of the road option.
Similarly to Gould, Walsh made his only attempt from over 50 yards (52). He has the leg strength and accuracy, he just needs more chances to shine. When the offense splutters (and it will), Walsh will come in to his own.
Washington Redskins at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Rodgers is an elite player surrounded by elite talent, which is now (mostly) healthy. He put up 333 yards and 3 TDs against probably the best defense in the NFL. There’s no doubt that he will put up similar numbers against a worse (but by no means below average). He could be the top scoring QB if the game turns out to be a shootout.
Although he only had 41 rushing yards, Lacy was playing against the best run stuffing team in the league. He also added 1 reception for 31 yards, and punched in a touchdown. The Redskins are strong against the run, but Lacy should find room with the defense having to respect Rodgers and the pass game. Another 100 total yard, 1 TD game is well within his reach.
Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb
If you own either of these players, you are starting them. Both were exceptional against the 49ers, with 7 catches, a TD and over 100 yards EACH. Nelson finally seems healthy, and Cobb is as dangerous in space as any player in the league. While the Redskins have a good defense, their weakness is in the secondary, and Nelson and Cobb can capitalise. Both are top-15 options this week, and either could very easily get inside the top-10.
Although he was only targeted twice, with no catches last week, Jones has a bigger opportunity this week with Jermichael Finley injured. Look for him to record at least 50 yards, and a TD is a distinct possibility, with his red zone prowess.
Finley was, as usual, a mixed bag. He recorded 5 catches for 56 yards and a TD, but also had a ball bounce off him which was then intercepted. For the most part, he looked good, and if he’s a full go this week, he could be in line for another good game. Just keep an eye on his status leading up to the game.
*Editor’s note: Finley practice Friday and is probable for Sunday’s game*
The Packers defense sorely missed Morgan Burnett last week, with Casey Heyward’s absence exacerbating the situation. And while RG3 still clearly isn’t fully fit, the Redskins still have very good weapons. At best, this unit will be top-10 this week, and even that is an ambitious projection.
Didn’t even attempt a field goal last week. Avoid.
DETROIT LIONS at Arizona Cardinals
Stafford had a nice game week 1, with over 350 yards passing and 2 TDs. This week, he faces a tougher challenge, with Arizona’s improved defense looking like they will test his mettle. With an improved run game, Stafford might not be passing quite as much as last season, but his consistent volume means he will always be in the QB1 discussion. Be wary of the Cards defense causing turnovers, but he should put up over 300 yards and multiple touchdowns.
What a performance from Bush in his début for the Lions. 191 total yards and a TD is the right way to endear yourself to your new fans, and your fantasy owners. Bush might not be the season’s rushing leader, but (if he stays healthy) he should be in the mix for most scrimmage yards. The injury concern has already crept up, but it didn’t hamper him last week, so there’s no reason to fret now. It’s unrealistic to expect another 200 yards, but he should have at least another 130 total yards.
Hands up if you saw that coming? Bell has always been a capable player, and Bush’s introduction looks to have freed him up to create even more mismatches. He has locked up the #2 position in Detroit’s backfield, and will see the majority of goal-line carries. He will have uneven production over the course of the season, but he’s a fine backup option on your team, and a weekly flex at worst in PPR leagues.
Megatron was disappointing in week 1, and faces a stern test against Patrick Peterson week 2. But don’t fret, he’s still the premier wideout in the game. He was targeted 9 times last week, and it will be sooner rather than later that he gets back to his usual production. NEVER SIT YOUR STUDS. Still my #1 WR for this week.
Burleson took advantage of being single covered while the Vikings focused all their attention on Calvin. With Ryan Broyles not ready to get back into the fold yet, Burleson has some value as a WR4, but you shouldn’t expect more than that. Another 6 catches for 78 yards (last week’s stat line) would be a great game for him.
Brandon Pettigrew/Joe Fauria/Tony Scheffler
Pettigrew had just 4 targets last week, which he was only able to convert into 2 catches for 6 yards. Fauria had 3 catches for 27 yards and a TD, and Scheffler had one target, zero catches. This is a muddled situation, and neither Pettigrew nor Fauria should be rostered as more than a TE2. Scheffler should be on the waiver wire. Fauria has the best chance at production this week, as his red zone ability gives him the biggest upside.
While Carson Palmer is prone to regular brainfarts, the Cards offense is capable of putting up points, and Larry Fitzgerald is going to damage a lot of teams this season. The Lions D/ST has the chance to put up points this week, but they are a very risky play.
Akers is a decent kicker on a high-powered offense. There are worse options out there.