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Wide Write: Cutler Ready to Bounce Back

We’re changing the format slightly from last year, since this column used to only include players I was recommending. I’ve decided that more negativity is warranted around here, so a “sit him” designation will be added at the three major fantasy positions.

Also, all my recommendations aren’t part of the Pulitzer Prize-worthy copy below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Write Video Blog. I’m actually more brilliant on camera, if you can believe it.

Read on for your Week 2 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to widewrite@foxnews.com.

Quarterbacks

Start him: Jay Cutler, Bears

Don’t let one bad game get you down, folks. We’re talking about a guy who threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. Sure, Cutler’s receivers aren’t that great, and the Steelers are coming to town. But he’s got the strongest arm in the business, and the Bears need a win. Also, if Kerry Collins threw for 244 yards and a TD against the Steelers in a low-scoring game last week, Cutler’s a good bet to at least equal those numbers. I see a big game coming.

Sit him: Eli Manning, Giants

You’re going to be tempted to start Manning after his big opener against the Redskins, but I have a hunch the Giants are going to struggle against the Cowboys on Sunday night at the grand opening of Jerry’s Great Big Video Arcade. My daughter’s favorite player was 18-35 for 191 yards and two interceptions when the G-men visited Dallas last season, and I fear a repeat. I hope the Giants don’t revoke my season tickets over this.

Pick him up: Shaun Hill, 49ers

Hill is owned in just under seven percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and that’s ridiculous. After getting the Niners’ starting job at midseason last year, Hill threw for 12 touchdowns in eight games, and averaged 234 yards. In Week 1 against the Cardinals, he was 18-for-31 for 209 yards and a score. If you need a temporary fill-in for someone like Donovan McNabb, you could do much worse than Hill, who faces the Seahawks at home this week. Hill is a terrific fantasy backup.

Running backs

Start him: Darren Sproles, Chargers

The diminutive Sproles had 14 touches (nine rushes, five receptions) against the Raiders on Monday, totaling 66 yards and a TD. He appears to be in line for a bigger role this season, and if LaDainian Tomlinson’s ankle injury limits him again this week, getting Sproles into your fantasy lineup could make you look really, really smart.

Also, keep a close eye on Tomlinson’s status if you own him. He’s probably going to play, but if things look uncertain by the weekend, sit him down against the Ravens rather than risking a goose egg.

Sit him: Reggie Bush, Saints

This violates my “if it’s a Saint, start it” rule, but Bush is now in a situation where he’ll be sharing time with both Pierre Thomas (out with an injury in Week 1) and Mike Bell (143 yards rushing against the Lions). Bush is an RB2 for most of his fantasy owners, but after getting 12 touches to Bell’s 28 in Week 1, the Saints’ backfield situation is in extreme flux, and you should stay as far away from it as possible.

Pick him up: Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers

After his career-long litany of injuries, I don’t trust Williams even a little to stay healthy. If I had to bet money at a Vegas sports book on how many games Williams will last, I’d take the under on 5.5

With that said, Williams looked really good against the Cowboys, with 97 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He’s in a timeshare with Derrick Ward, but is available in 85 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and you could do a lot worse on the free-agent wire. Just make sure you look at him as a temporary solution.

Receivers (WR/TE)

Start him: Derrick Mason, Ravens

I enjoyed the debut of Baltimore’s new “Air Flacco” offense. They threw the ball 43 times for 307 yards and three touchdowns, which nobody expected, even against the Chiefs. This week’s opponent – the Chargers – were 31st in the league against the pass last season, and Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron knows the Bolts well, having served as their OC a few years back. Now that Flacco seems to be maturing into a top-notch QB, Mason is bound to benefit. The guy could get open five or six times if his team was playing eight-on-11.

Sit him: DeSean Jackson, Eagles

Kevin Kolb is going to be throwing the ball for the Eagles this week. Kevin Kolb! Jackson is a low-end WR2 for most of his teams, but he should be avoided against the Saints in Week 2. If he returns another punt for a touchdown like he did against the Panthers, you can blame me.

Pick him up: Earl Bennett, Bears

During the preseason, we all read a lot about how Bennett and Cutler would click because they were college teammates at Vanderbilt. My reaction to those stories was the same as it was about every optimistic preseason prediction: I’ll believe it when I see it.

On Sunday night, I saw it. Bennett caught seven passes for 66 yards against the Packers, and if we think Cutler is going to have a big game, then Bennett would obviously stand to benefit. He’s available in 87 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, so you can get him if you want to.

Also: If you’re looking for a team defense, the Packers are hosting the Bengals, who scored seven points at home in the season opener. Dom Capers’ unit looked good against the Bears, and they’re still widely available. I just picked them up in a league, and I plan to keep them for awhile … Tons of tight ends are available, and unless you have one of the top four or five - Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark and maybe Owen Daniels – you can feel free to play the matchup game all year long. If you’re looking for suggestions, New England’s Ben Watson is an obvious one after catching two touchdowns against the Bills. San Francisco’s Vernon Davis (five receptions, 40 yards in Week 1) is also widely available.

Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write’s video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.


John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy.

For more fantasy sports coverage, visit FOXSports.com/fantasy.