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August 17, 2009

Fantasy Football QB Start/Sit Rankings (Week 2)

1. Peyton Manning
(IND) –Week 1 did not provide Manning owners with one of his flashiest fantasy performances, but it was fairly solid none the less. We expect more from him in a week 2 match up against a good, but not great, Miami pass defense on Monday night. The Dolphins are clearly better at stopping the run and opportunities should be plentiful in the passing game. Manning will be without #2 WR Anthony Gonzalez, but the cupboard is hardly bare with his top shelf targets remaining in tact. Manning is arguably the safest fantasy option in a week with sub par QB match ups across the board.

2. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – In spite of his lackluster week 1 showing, Rodgers heads into week 2 as one of the better fantasy options at the QB position. He will face an improved and underrated Bengals pass defense, but Cincinnati’s pass rush should be much less severe than the one Rodgers faced in week 1. He should be more than solid with ample time in the pocket to scan the field for open targets. As usual, Rodgers is a must start.

3. Tony Romo (DAL) – He was able to answer his critics in spectacular fashion with a 353 yard, 3 TD passing performance in week 1. A week 2 match up against the Giants should prove a bit more challenging. The good news is that Romo has an outstanding track record against the Giants averaging 279 passing yards per game in his last 3 starts against them. He also has 10 TD passes to just 2 interceptions during that span. It also doesn’t hurt that the Giants secondary is pretty banged up. A big performance in this match up will go a long way in solidifying Romo’s status as an elite fantasy QB. He should play well.

4. Tom Brady (NE) – Following a shaky first half against the Bills in week 1, Brady was able to knock off the rust en route to a monster 4th quarter fantasy effort. He certainly looks to be on the verge of returning to elite form, but a week 2 match up against the Jets on the road could prove troublesome if New York’s outstanding defensive performance in week 1was any indication. Fortunately, few if any QB’s in the league are better at making adjustments and figuring out opposing defenses than Tom Brady. It is a scary match up indeed, but we like Brady’s chances to come out on top.

5. Drew Brees (NO) – Regardless of the inferior opposition faced in week 1, a 358 yard 6 TD passing performance is extremely impressive even by Drew Brees standards. Unfortunately, the challenge grows by leaps and bounds against an elite Eagles defense on the road in week 2. For starters, Brees’ numbers in away games paled in comparison to his numbers at home a season ago. At home, he threw 23 TD passes with only 5 picks in 8 games. In 8 road games, Brees threw for only 11 TD’s with 12 interceptions. That said, we love that he is riding the hot hand and in spite of the unfavorable match up, Brees remains a must start fantasy option. You should lower expectations given the location of this game and caliber of opposition.

6. Kurt Warner (ARI) – With a prime week 1 match up at his disposal, it is fair to say that Warner vastly underachieved and frankly, he didn’t look very good doing it. In his defense, Warner was playing through a stinger injury and his receiving options were not at an optimum level with Anquan Boldin battling a hamstring injury and Steve Breaston being a last second scratch with a knee injury. While we aren’t completely confident that Warner will rebound against the Jaguars in week 2, there are some favorable aspects to this match up. Anquan Boldin should be a bit healthier and Jacksonville will be starting rookie Derek Cox at CB. Cox was able to intercept an under thrown Peyton Manning pass last week, but he spent the majority of the day getting smoked by Reggie Wayne.

7. Matt Ryan (ATL) – While a week 2 match up against Carolina does not appear all that favorable on paper, sometimes the numbers can be very deceptive in predicting the future. First, Carolina comes into this game with the top ranked pass defense in the NFL only allowing 82 yards through the air last week against the Eagles. This may be the most misleading stat in the history of the NFL. The fact of the matter is that Philadelphia did not even need a passing game after the first 5 minutes of that game. Secondly, Ryan did not throw a single TD pass against Carolina last season. This is a relevant statistic, but the Panthers defense was better a season ago, Ryan is better now and he did not have Tony Gonzalez to throw to in the red zone. Bottom line, we think that the Falcons will rely heavily on their running game as usual in this match up, but Ryan should have more than ample opportunity to make some big plays against this defense and we like his chances.

8. Phillip Rivers (SD) – He was slightly underwhelming in week 1, but it really didn’t come as much of a surprise given his track record against Oakland. Unfortunately, things will not get any easier for Rivers in week 2 as he will face a tough Baltimore defense. The good news is that Rivers will be playing at home and the Ravens showed some vulnerability against a weak Kansas City offense playing a back up QB in week 1. He will be tested, but Rivers typically rises to the challenge when facing the NFL’s better defenses. That is until playoff time.

9. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Considering the quality of opposition, Roethlisberger’s week 1 fantasy performance was impressive. The opportunity to carry that momentum into week 2 is also fairly promising. The Steelers running game should be more effective against Chicago, so you can’t expect the uncharacteristically high volume of pass attempts that you saw from him in week 1, but a better running attack should actually help Roethlisberger from an efficiency standpoint and a solid day is expected. Santonio Holmes is developing into a top flight WR for him and the Bears should be vulnerable without Brian Urlacher. Roethlisberger is slowly but surely coming back into favor as a must start fantasy option, but in order to complete the transaction, he is going to need better protection up front.

10. Joe Flacco (BAL) – Granted, Flacco did not face one of the NFL’s better defenses (KC) in week 1, but he was extremely impressive none the less. At the very least it was a big step in the right direction and a momentum builder. A week 2 match up against San Diego should present more of a challenge, but the Chargers pass defense appears to have some of the same glaring weaknesses that ranked them near the bottom of the NFL in that respect a season ago. So far, Flacco has the Ravens offense firing on all cylinders and week 2 will go a long way in proving he can keep it that way. We also like the fact that he appears to have a much wider variety of weapons to choose from. WR Mark Clayton and TE Todd Heap seem poised to step up this season and compliment Derrick Mason as go to guys.

11. Brett Favre (MIN) – After watching Drew Brees throw for 6 TD’s last week, it’s impossible not to like this match up. Unfortunately, as much as it hurts to say it, Favre is no longer in Drew Brees’ league as far as fantasy football is concerned. The Vikings run heavy offense won’t do fantasy owners any favors either and the fact that Favre is probably going to be limited to more of a game managing role until he settles in will also hamper the cause. On the other hand, if the Minnesota coaching staff decides to take the shackles off of the passing game earlier than expected, this is probably the week to do it. It also doesn’t hurt that Favre has a stellar track record against the Lions. He should be considered a risk/reward fantasy play for week 2.

12. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) – After a bumpy start and 2 interceptions, Hasselbeck settled into his new look offense en route to a very productive week 1 performance as expected. Granted, the caliber of opposition was weak, but it was an impressive start to his 2009 campaign none the less. A week 2 match up against the 49ers isn’t quite as promising as the San Francisco defense was quite impressive in their own right limiting a high powered Arizona passing attack to just 1 TD in week 1. We are optimistic about Hasselbeck’s chances in this match up, but it won’t be a cakewalk like last week.

13. Trent Edwards (BUF) – Either the Bills offense is a lot better than everyone anticipated or the New England defense is going to be in for a long agonizing season. Regardless, we were impressed with Edwards and the Bills no huddle attack in week 1 despite the fact that the offense only seemed to be on the field for about 5 minutes. Edwards will have to do a better job finding his big play receivers to have future success, but that should come in time and Week 2 should provide opportunity in that regard. The Dallas receivers consistently torched the Tampa Bay secondary for big plays in week 1 and we see no reason why T.O. and Lee Evans should not be able to do the same. Granted, Edwards is no Tony Romo.

14. Jason Campbell (WAS) – He heads into week 2 with one of the sexier fantasy match ups on the board against the Rams. Unfortunately, this match up was equally appealing for Campbell last season and he didn’t even have a single TD pass in an embarrassing 19-17 loss. We like the revenge factor and the ease of the match up, but Campbell seldom puts up flashy numbers against the NFL’s biggest creampuffs. He has a golden opportunity to turn the tables, but with his track record, don’t count on it.

15. Shaun Hill (SF) – He isn’t going to stand out most weeks, but given the right match up, Hill is capable of producing solid fantasy totals. Week 2 against Seattle looks to provide just such a match up. A beat up Seahawks secondary fared better than expected a week ago, but they remain extremely vulnerable and ranked dead last in pass defense in 2008. Hill was unspectacular in his one start against them last season, but this is an improved 49ers offense and the potential is there.

16. David Garrard (JAC) – After a dismal week 1 performance, it is difficult to get excited about Garrard’s fantasy potential against anyone right now, but there are a couple of underlying factors that give Garrard sleeper value for week 2 against Arizona. For starters, the Cardinals secondary gave up an NFL worst 36 passing TD’s a season ago and that secondary remains in tact. Of the 36 TD passes they allowed, 17 of them came in the 5 games in which the Cards had to travel to the east coast, which will be the case on Sunday when they visit Jacksonville. If Garrard can step up his game, he should be able to take advantage of a jet lagged Cardinals pass defense, but after last week, he is far from a safe bet.

17. Eli Manning (NYG) – When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, you never really know what you are going to get from Eli Manning. He has had very mixed results against the boys in silver and blue, including some of the best and worst games of his career, with no real pattern to speak of. An unimpressive Dallas secondary in week 1 against Tampa does breed a glimmer of hope into this match up, but Manning is so unpredictable, it is difficult to gauge. He should be considered a risk/reward fantasy prospect for week 2.

18. Kerry Collins (TEN) – He isn’t really a guy that you can feel extremely confident about, especially with a sub par track record against week 2 opponent Houston. However, we think the additions of Nate Washington and Kenny Britt to go along with Justin Gage and Bo Scaife will give the Titans passing game a nice boost in 2009. He will never be an elite fantasy QB and the Titans will continue to be a run first team, but you could do much worse than Collins. If rookie Mark Sanchez can be effective against the Texans in his first ever NFL start, we see no reason why a seasoned veteran like Collins shouldn’t be effective as well, especially with a much improved arsenal of weapons. Unfortunately, effective is probably about all you can ask for. Anything more would be a nice bonus.

19. Matt Schaub (HOU) – After a very disappointing week 1 performance it is unclear if Schaub is that far off or the Jets defense is just that good. We will give him the benefit of the doubt and go with the latter, but Schaub was not even close to meeting expectations in that game. The bad news is that week 2 will not get any easier against a hungry Titans defense. It would be an understatement to say that Schaub does not have a pleasant history against Tennessee. In 2 games against them last season, he was sacked 6 times, fumbled 3 times, intercepted 3 times and had just 1 TD to his credit. In 2007, Schaub left both match ups against the Titans prematurely with injuries. We are still highly optimistic with regard to his overall fantasy potential and he certainly has the weapons to get the job done, but you may want to steer clear until he proves worthy. The odds are not in his favor for week 2.

20. Carson Palmer (CIN) – At times, Palmer looked fairly sharp in week 1, but he was unable to close the deal on a number of occasions and the 2 interceptions did not help his cause. Unfortunately, there isn’t much light at the end of the tunnel heading into a tough week 2 match up at Green Bay. The Packers defense embarrassed Jay Cutler in week 1 and the outlook for Palmer doesn’t appear much brighter. He has the tools to surprise, but it wouldn’t be unwise to go with another fantasy QB in week 2.

21. Kyle Orton (DEN) – Take away the game winning TD off of the tipped ball and Orton’s fantasy numbers from week 1 are pretty dismal. Contrary to popular belief, Orton will have an even tougher test in week 2 against Cleveland. The Browns possess a very underrated pass defense whose 23 interceptions ranked 2nd in the NFL a season ago. They appear to be even better this year. Orton is not a safe bet for a productive week 2.

22. Jay Cutler (CHI) – After the debacle that was week 1 for Cutler in Green Bay, we can’t recommend him for fantasy use against an even better Steelers defense in week 2. We are confident that he will turn the corner at some point, but it is apparent that the Bears offense has a ways to go with Cutler under center. This isn’t a match up you want to test.

23. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – He looks like he is going to be the real deal in time and we do like the week 2 match up against a Patriots defense that struggled in week 1, but it is probably too early to throw him into the fire just yet and Bill Belichick is sure to have some tricks up his sleeve for the rookie.

24. Chad Pennington (MIA) – He should be quietly efficient as usual, but Pennington isn’t likely to help your cause much in a Monday night match up against the Colts.

25. Byron Leftwich (TB) – He certainly surpassed expectations in week 1 against a pretty good Cowboys defense and a match up against a battered Bills defense in week 2 has potential, but Leftwich still has much to prove before gaining any real consideration as a fantasy starter.

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