This is a tricky week when it comes to deciding which defenses to stack offensive players against. Sure, I know the Titans looked pretty good offensively last week, with rookie Marcus Mariota at quarterback beating up fellow rookie Jameis Winston and the Bucs, but do we really want to double down on this offense versus the Browns? Mariota is still a rookie QB and I’m not sure he will have as much success against a better defense, especially one that will have film on him and won’t take him lightly.
I gave serious thought to putting Jacksonville and Oakland on this list but in the end I just didn’t see all that much from Miami and Baltimore on offense. It would be hard to recommend those units until we see some sort of spark offensively. Show me first before I start loading up on those players.
As for defenses I do want to pick against this week.
Chicago Bears: The Bears actually played a bit better than expected last week versus the Packers, so perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh here, but I’m receiving question after question this week about Carson Palmer and whether or not he should be started over the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford, or even Matt Ryan. The answer to that question would be yes to all, except Ryan. The Bears can be thrown on, and both Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown could once again have solid Fantasy days. Michael Floyd, however, may still be brought along slowly and you should sit him if you have other options. The main question is, what should you do with RB Chris Johnson? Andre Ellington is out for at least this game, and coach Bruce Arians has already announced that Chris Johnson will start over David Johnson. Arians apparently doesn’t like using a rookie RB to start unless he has to. The Cards can run on Chicago and while David Johnson may not start, he still may end up being the better Fantasy back, and that’s a problem because it could come in limited touches. The bottom line is that I trust the Arizona passing game more than I do the running game versus the Bears.
Tampa Bay: Yeah, I know you’re shocked that the Bucs are on this list. They likely would’ve been here even if they didn’t melt down last week versus the Titans. They are playing the Saints in New Orleans, in that dome, and are having defensive issues. This is not a good thing. The Saints offense is still sort of a work in progress without TE Jimmy Graham, but the Bucs might just be the cure for what ails them. One of the reasons Titans QB Marcus Mariota had so much success last week was that Tampa just left receivers wide open or uncovered. If they can’t get their act together this week, then Drew Brees will just pick them apart. We all know Brandin Cooks is a must-start, but you should also start Brandon Coleman and Marques Colston. New Orleans just seems to be a different, more explosive offense at home under coach Sean Peyton and Brees. As for CJ Spiller, I’d rather wait one more week. He is practicing in a limited fashion this week and even if he does play Sunday, they may play it safe with Spiller since they won’t need him to play a full complement of snaps in order to beat Tampa.
Atlanta at Giants: Who don’t you want to start in this game? Granted, the Falcons played better defensively than expected Monday night, but watching that game you get the feeling that if the game was five minutes longer, Philly would’ve won because the Falcons just didn’t have an answer for them defensively. Now, the Giants don’t quite have the offense that Philadelphia does, and they haven’t hit their stride offensively yet this year; but still, points should be put on the board in this game. You’re starting both quarterbacks, Julio Jones (watch his hamstring injury) and Odell Beckham. Roddy White is also a must-start. White didn’t get much love during the preseason because of the elbow injury but looked just fine in Week 1, and if Jones is slowed at all with the hammy, even more targets could come White’s way. Now, you shouldn’t start Leonard Hankerson, but if Jones is a late scratch, then yes, he’s a go. Reuben Randle could be a flex consideration for the Giants, but TE Larry Donnell is also a good start, as we all saw what Zach Ertz did coming back from injury. The Falcons’ running game looks to be in Tevin Coleman’s hands and you should start him, but more as an RB2 or Flex play. As for the G-men, give me Shane Vereen in a PPR league. Rashad Jennings, like Coleman, is a good start as well.
Dallas at Philadelphia: Am I picking on defenses or the NFC East? If the Redskins weren’t playing St. Louis, they might be here also. You may be asking how Philly can be on this list with Dallas losing WR Dez Bryant for at least a month (probably closer to two). Well, Tony Romo has been without top wideouts before. Remember when the Cowboys had Roy Williams? Who did Romo turn into a star before he flamed out? That would be Miles Austin (who now, coincidentally, plays for Philadelphia). How about the big contract he got for Laurent Robinson? Robinson had one big year with Romo before disappearing into oblivion. Can Romo do the same for Terrance Williams? One has to believe so. Two Dallas players to watch in deeper leagues are RB Lance Dunbar and WR Gavin Escobar. We all saw the mismatch Dunbar can be as a receiver out of the backfield Sunday night and that should continue for the foreseeable future. Escobar may be listed as a TE, but in reality he’s a WR. You will rarely see Escobar brought in as a blocker and he may actually line up more in the slot than as part of the offensive line. Romo also likes to look for Escobar in the back of the end zone when Dallas is inside the 10; he is a red zone threat.
The Eagles can light up the scoreboard versus just about anyone, and Dallas isn’t good enough defensive to stop them consistently. Everyone is talking about the Bryant injury, but no one mentions that rookie LB Randy Gregory will be out for this game as well. This means Dallas will be without their top two pass rushers (Greg Hardy suspended) for this contest. Quarterback Sam Bradford could have all day to pick apart the Dallas secondary Sunday. I’m starting Nelson Agholor. Yeah, he wasn’t a big part of the offense Monday, but coach Chip Kelly will rectify that here. Tight end Zach Ertz is also now a must-start each week for me. His health was the only reason we advised against starting him Monday. Well, not only did he start, but he looked good. Kelly will also make sure to get RB DeMarco Murray more involved in the running game, but you were starting him anyway. Figuring out how Chip will use Darren Sproles or Ryan Mathews can lead one to drink, but they will both be Flex options.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.