Where are all the people who asked after Week 1 if the Texans had suddenly transformed themselves into a running team? Are they still asking, or are their mouths still agape after watching Matt Schaub torch the Redskins for 497 yards and three scores?
As noted previously, each position below will have a list of weekly “must starts” to go along with the usual recommendations. They’re players that warrant “no-think” fantasy status due to talent, workloads or both, regardless of opponent. The lists are subject to change, but additions and deletions will be made sparingly.
If you disagree with any of the selections, or want to offer some of your own, please post a comment at the bottom of the page. We’ll be here every Thursday until the end of your fantasy season.
Start him: Joe Flacco, Ravens
We know, we know. After two horrible games (one TD, five INTs), you’re ready to jump ship on Flacco after drafting him as a low-end QB1. Just remember that the Ravens opened the season on the road against a couple of tough defenses in the Jets and Bengals. Also, keep in mind that Flacco THREW FOR MORE THAN 3,600 YARDS AND 21 TOUCHDOWNS LAST SEASON! He hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to play, folks – he’s had a couple of bad games. Flacco should start to turn things around at home against the Browns this week. Buy low if you can.
Sit him: Eli Manning, Giants
The Giants host the Titans’ league-best pass defense in Week 3. Allowing just 85.5 yards per game through the air doesn’t sound so great when the opposing quarterbacks have been Jason Campbell, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch, but it’s still pretty good. It says here that a low-scoring game will be played in Jersey, with the Titans keeping Manning and the Giants’ solid passing game in check.
Pick him up: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
At 6’6”, 248 pounds, Freeman is just too big to be left out of this space. The second-year QB is showing signs of improvement for the Bucs, averaging 180 yards per game with four touchdown passes against just one interception in his first two contests. He’ll face tougher opponents than the Browns and Panthers – starting in Week 3 with the Steelers – but for the most part the Bucs have a pretty soft schedule. Freeman has also flashed the ability to run a bit, with 77 yards on six carries so far, and that’s always a nice bonus for fantasy owners. He could become a decent QB2 for your squad, especially in favorable matchups down the line against teams like the Rams, Cardinals, Lions and Seahawks.
On shaky ground: DeAngelo Williams
Start him: Clinton Portis, Redskins
Portis was fine in Week 1 and just so-so in Week 2, combining for a mediocre 96 yards on 31 carries. This week, the ‘Skins visit the Rams, who have allowed 285 yards against the decidedly un-terrifying rushing attacks of the Cardinals and Raiders. As an RB3 or flex play, Portis should be ready to make a solid fantasy contribution. If he doesn’t, he’s probably a lost cause.
Sit him: Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers
The easiest path to fantasy points for a running back is a heavy workload, and Caddy has carried the ball 49 times (second in the NFL) for 126 yards. If he’s going to get the ball that much, it’ll be hard to bench him in most weeks. Unfortunately, the Bucs host the Steelers on Sunday, and you might have noticed that the latest edition of the Steel Curtain looks ferocious. They’ve allowed just 20 points in two games, along with 2.2 yards per carry. Caddy is only at 2.6 himself, and the Steelers are going to eat him alive. Literally, with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Pick him up: Donald Brown, Colts
We tabbed Brown as a sleeper during the preseason. Then he laid a goose egg in Week 1 against the Texans, and we got angry. Week 2 got us off the ledge, as Brown was a key cog in the Colts’ dominant rushing attack against the Giants, with 16 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Brown’s backfield mate, Joseph Addai, carried 20 times for 92 yards and is still the lead back here. Just remember that in early 2009, Brown came close to sharing the workload with Addai before getting hurt, and it looks like we’re going to see that again. Timeshares giveth, and timeshares taketh away.
Must starts (17): (WR – 10) Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, Marques Colston; (TE- 7) Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, Brent Celek, Tony Gonzalez
Start him: Santana Moss, Redskins
Entering 2010, Moss’ career featured two really good seasons mixed in with seven mediocre campaigns, and he’s been a regular fantasy disappointment. However, Donovan McNabb has targeted Moss 22 times in two games, and completed 16 of those passes for 166 yards. Moss appears to be McNabb’s new favorite receiver, and looks like a points-per-reception (PPR) league stud. Moss started in 45.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues in Week 2, and it’s time he got promoted. A nice matchup against the Rams is next.
Sit him: Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
We love Ochocinco. He’s the most entertaining player in the NFL, and comes up with great stunts like taking 85 fans out to dinner in Charlotte this Saturday (he did the same thing in Indianapolis during the preseason). The thing is, we think Carson Palmer’s Week 1 outburst against the Patriots was a garbage-time mirage, and that he’s really not very good. Ochocinco had four catches for 44 yards in Week 2, and quarterback play is likely to make him an up-and-down fantasy performer in 2010.
The Panthers need a win – badly – and the bet here is that they’ll put up a fight against the Bengals’ offense. The fans in North Carolina can help us out with this recommendation by making sure Ochocinco overeats and enjoys a few extra cocktails at his pregame dinner.
Pick him up: Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
The first-round draft choice missed the season opener due to a foot injury, but exploded into fantasy consciousness in Week 2 with eight catches, 97 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Thomas will be a very popular free agent in your league this week, as he’s capable of becoming the top wideout on a team that threw the ball nearly 56 percent of the time last season, and has done so on 52 percent of its offensive plays so far this year.
Thomas is big, strong, fast – the total package – and with the Broncos’ receiving corps full of complementary types, there’s room for a star to emerge. Thomas is also still a rookie, but fantasy free agents don’t usually come with bigger upside than this guy. At press time, Thomas was owned in just six percent of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues. Go get him if you can.
Good luck in Week 3!
John Halpin writes his “Wide Write” fantasy football column every week during the NFL season for FOXNews.com. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy, and co-hosts a daily fantasy podcast. You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37), or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.