How did your fantasy teams do in Week 1? Did any of you own Lions WR Calvin Johnson, who got robbed of a touchdown catch near the end of his team’s loss against the Bears? What about Texans RB Arian Foster, who exploded for 231 rushing yards, and is near (but not quite on) our must-start list?
As noted last week, each position below will have a list of those 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. We opted to mostly leave the lists alone after Week 1, but are open to changes starting next week.
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: Kyle Orton, Broncos
We recently recommended Orton as a fantasy draft bargain, as he was a top-15 quarterback in 2009. We’ll put our money where our mouth is this week, when Orton gets to chuck it at home against the Seahawks. We’re not at all convinced that Seattle’s Week 1 thrashing of the 49ers wasn’t a fluke, and we really liked that Orton threw 33 times for 295 yards and a score against Jacksonville.
The Broncos threw the ball 56 percent of the time last season, and did so on 57 percent of their plays in Week 1. If your QB1 is Philly’s questionable, concussed Kevin Kolb, or if you don’t trust Eli Manning’s chances against the Colts in Indy, Orton can be a timely fill-in.
Sit him: Carson Palmer, Bengals
Palmer threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. Yippee? Not exactly. Palmer was 10-for-15 for 68 yards with a fumble and a pick-six before a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the first half, and post game comments didn’t exactly praise his pre-stat padding play in the blowout loss. With the Ravens in Cincy this week, look for a lower-scoring game, more runs from the Bengals, and fewer opportunities for Palmer to connect with his aging, creaky receiving corps.
Pick him up: Michael Vick, Eagles
Vick is probably not a long-term solution, as Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid has insisted that Kevin Kolb will remain the team’s starting quarterback when recovered from his concussion. However, you never know how someone will heal from an injury like that, and Kolb won’t practice until this Friday at the earliest. He could be out a week or two.
Vick’s wheels seem to be as good as ever, as he ran for 103 yards on 11 carries in relief work against the Packers, while also throwing for 175 yards. For as long as Kolb is out, Vick is a viable fantasy play, starting with this week against the Lions. Confirm Kolb’s status before you start Vick, of course.
Removed from list: Ryan Grant, Packers (out for season)
Might be added very soon: Arian Foster, Texans
Start him: Darren McFadden, Raiders
One of fantasy’s biggest busts of 2009, McFadden put himself back on the map with 150 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Titans. Even when Michael Bush returns from his thumb injury, McFadden should get plenty of playing time, as he’s both more explosive and a much better receiver (six catches for 55 yards in Week 1). Bush’s status for Week 2 is shaky, and you’ve gotta think that a home date against the Rams is a good situation for McFadden.
Sit him: Shonn Greene, Jets
Did you draft Greene in the first round? Yeah... you might want to sit down for a minute. Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan said on Tuesday that he wants Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson to each get 15 carries per game, and that’s on the heels of a season opener that saw Greene fumble twice while gaining 18 yards on five carries. Tomlinson had 11 carries for 62 yards, and looked spry.
In Week 2 the Jets visit the Patriots, who shut down Bengals RB Cedric Benson (15 carries, 43 yards in a blowout) last week. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork and the rest of what should be a stout Pats’ run defense will be waiting for the J-E-T-S, and you should probably see how much of a part-time player Greene really is before starting him in such a tough spot.
Pick him up: Brandon Jackson, Packers
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the best fantasy free-agent pickup of the season! Stop whatever you’re doing – like reading this article – and see if Jackson is still available in your league. If someone hasn’t beaten you to the punch, grab him immediately. With the aforementioned Grant out for the season, Jackson becomes a terrific fantasy play in the Pack’s high-powered offense. He’s a decent runner, he catches the ball well, and though he might lose some short-yardage TDs to John Kuhn, he’s immediate fantasy starter material. It's not often that you can find such a high-upside player after your draft.
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: Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Yes, we know that Floyd caught just three passes for 48 yards against the Chiefs, and you might be disappointed if you own him. Floyd was also targeted by QB Philip Rivers a team-high 12 times, while Legedu Naanee got eight looks and TE Antonio Gates got six. Rivers likes Floyd, and he’s likely to go after him again regularly this week against the Jaguars. Don’t lose faith yet.
Sit him: Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Fifty-five percent of FOXSports.com owners that own Sims-Walker started him in Week 1, and we’re not so sure that’s a good idea this week against the Chargers. He was shut out by the Broncos on Sunday, and had just 16 catches for 175 yards in his final six games of 2009. It says here that Sims-Walker needs to prove his fantasy value before getting another start.
Pick him up: Mark Clayton, Rams
Clayton didn’t join the Rams until a few days before the season opener, and he made his presence felt right away, with 10 receptions for 119 yards against the Cardinals. Clayton has been a decent but not great wideout during his six-year NFL career, and you probably shouldn’t expect him to become a superstar just because he suddenly looks like the main man in the Rams’ receiving corps. Still, Clayton has a reputation for being hardworking and smart, and that sounds like just the kind of security blanket rookie QB Sam Bradford needs.
Clayton will be better in points-per-reception leagues than standard formats.
Good luck in Week 2!
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.