Houston Texans (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
Don't get cocky, Texans fans. Geez, next thing you know, we'll have Kay Bailey Hutchison on the two-dollar bill and hot-and-cold running crude oil in every public restroom. It may just turn out that beating the Chiefs this season may not be a signature achievement; going to Carolina and doing it to the Panthers would be a lot more impressive. As for the Panthers, I guess John Fox isn't getting fired after Week 1, huh? Carolina outclassed the Rams using healthy doses of DeShaun Foster and Julius Peppers, who didn't register a sack and "only" made three tackles, but recovered a fumble and was in Marc Bulger's face all day. Call this one the David Carr Bowl.
Fantasy Up: OK, get this: Somehow, Carolina is 20-2 (including the playoffs) when Foster notches 15 or more carries in a game. I expect the Texans to have a bit more spine against the run than the Rams did, but contrary to what I wrote last week, Foster (17 carries for 94 yards in Week 1) appears to be the back to ride right now, at least until he gets hurt. Jake Delhomme was good, not great, against a much-improved St. Louis pass rush. He played it conservative in the first half, rarely throwing the ball downfield, until he connected on Steve Smith's bomb. Sure, 33 percent of his yards came on that one play, but the three scores were nice. He's a starting fantasy QB this week, especially against a set of Houston safeties that got even shakier when Jason Simmons tore a patellar tendon last week. For heaven's sake, the Texans just signed Will Demps. Ick. Andre Johnson has to be pleased about Matt Schaub's first regular-season game at the helm of the Houston offense. AJ's 77-yard score was the longest of his career, and the 10 targets were also appreciated. The Carolina defense stuffed Steven Jackson last week and last season, too: 25 carries for 85 yards total in two games. Rookie linebacker Jon Beason looked good against the rush but overran a few plays, while retired safety Mike Minter wasn't missed. This unit's a good bet this week. Keep an eye on first-year starting TE Jeff King. Delhomme looked his way a couple of times in the red zone.
Fantasy Down: Notions that Ron Dayne only spelled Ahman Green when last week's game with Kansas City was decided are wrong. Dayne wasn't very good, but nine of his 13 carries came while the Chiefs still had a chance. In fact, Dayne was the heart of Houston's clock-killing drive that used up the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. Green's still the primary back, and 73 yards rushing is OK. But Dayne will be used often, in hopes that Green will last a full season without getting hurt. Schaub was very accurate (16-for-22) against a pretty good KC defense last week, but take out the 77-yarder and he had 148 yards. AJ will get his, but Carolina's corners (Ken Lucas and Richard Marshall, especially) are tough. I was all over the Houston defense last week, but I won't use them in Week 2. Carolina's offensive line was really strong against St. Louis. Rookie Ryan Kalil out of USC, a center by trade, was a mauler at guard (filling in for the suspended Jeremy Bridges), and Mike Wahle looked all the way back from his shoulder surgery. No reason to look at any Houston receivers besides Johnson. Kevin Walter was targeted twice (once on a deep ball) and caught a single pass for 10 yards in Week 1. Fantasy hype-ster Jacoby Jones caught two passes for 33 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)
The Browns traded their starting quarterback for scrap metal two days after proclaiming him the best guy they had. What happened? Charlie Frye was never going to be Superman, and as my college football partner in crime Stephanie Taylor (a Browns fan) said, "Frye was terrible in college, so I'm not sure why we thought he'd suddenly be a great pro." Still, heads are no doubt spinning in the Cleveland locker room. Derek Anderson gets the start this week, and Brady Quinn is coming. And in redraft leagues, I wouldn't touch either.
Fantasy Up: Not that you wouldn't normally do so, but play your Bengals. Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson are in for big weeks. The Cincy defense, which created six turnovers, two sacks and scored a touchdown last week, might yield a few yards on the ground to Jamal Lewis, but they're eminently startable nonetheless. Heck, for those in insanely deep, two-TE leagues, you could even keep an eye on Daniel Coats, an undrafted rookie out of BYU. He only caught one pass for 9 yards in Week 1, but the Bengals like him. Kellen Winslow's knee is clearly fine, and he's my No. 2-rated tight end this week. Cincinnati's linebackers aren't their strength anymore, and as a defense they allowed the third-most fantasy points to TEs last season. You have to start T.J. Houshmandzadeh, because no matter the state of his knee, Palmer's looking his way a lot. But Housh didn't get much separation against the Ravens, as his nine catches for 50 yards indicate.
Fantasy Down: Braylon Edwards is the big loser in this QB derby. Fully healthy almost two years removed from his ACL tear, Edwards would be a fantasy threat on almost any other team in football. You have to worry about how the kid will react to this tough situation (he threw a sideline tantrum last season), and while I'm not going to be surprised if he busts open the occasional huge play, it seems like that'll only happen a few times this season. He's only a flex option right now. Jamal Lewis looked like a dog against Pittsburgh. He carried it 11 times for 35 yards, and those numbers hardly tell the tail of his badness. All the flowery pieces about how dominant he expected to be are now so much kindling. The offensive line didn't do much against the Steelers, and that was to be expected, but Lewis himself was as tentative as ever, and his first-quarter fumble helped put the Browns in a deeper hole early on. Cincy isn't particularly stout against the run, so I won't be shocked to see Lewis register a moderately successful day, but hear me: You don't want him on your fantasy team. Shayne Graham's hip prevented him from kicking freely in Week 1, and he didn't practice Wednesday. He might play, but I'd have another option ready, just in case.
Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
I don't know why I'm surprised: The Jags have been playing to the level of their opponents for two-plus seasons. And if that's the case this week, Atlanta visiting J-ville could be the ugliest game of the week. What the heck was up with the Jaguars' play calling on Sunday? Thirteen combined rushes for the Jags' backs (David Garrard's five scrambles don't count), and 30 passes for Garrard? In a 13-10 game? That's awful.
Fantasy Up: I still believe in Maurice Jones-Drew, and if you can trade for him after a desultory Week 1 (seven carries for 32 yards and three catches for 28), I'd do it. This is an up-and-down franchise (always the hallmark of a great head coach), and they'll play well in about half their games this year. When they do, Drew is going to score touchdowns. Alge Crumpler is the only real playmaker the Falcons have to throw to, and they targeted him only five times last week. I wouldn't expect Joey Harrington to get much done via the air, but Crumpler's still a starter. As dreadful as the Jags' defense was against Tennessee last week, I'll give them a mulligan and play them in Week 2. Maybe the Titans are just much stronger than we gave them credit for on the offensive line? I can't look at a linebacking corps that's got a healthy Mike Peterson, a guy who could play in the middle in Daryl Smith, and a second-year guy in Clint Ingram coming off a tremendous rookie campaign, and see a bad defense. Expect production this week.
Fantasy Down: I know Chris Brown walked all over the Jags, but I wouldn't be able to bring myself to start Warrick Dunn or Jerious Norwood. Neither guy was good against Minnesota, and while it's clear Jacksonville's rush defense isn't the equal of the Vikings', it shouldn't be quite so pathetic on an every-week basis, plugged up as it is by John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. Dunn gained 2.5 yards per carry average on 22 totes last week, while Norwood only got seven touches (and only five rushes). I like the right side of that Atlanta line, but not enough. I realize I somehow forgot Harrington in my weekly QB rankings, and accidentally put both Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown in the mix. And you know what? I kind of don't regret it. Dennis Northcutt was the most productive Jacksonville receiver last week (four catches for 57 yards on nine targets), but I have a hunch that'll vary from week to week. I can't see starting any of these guys.
Green Bay Packers (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
The Giants are in trouble. Losing your starting backfield in Week 1 is bad. Losing last year's leading sack artist (Osi Umenyiora, out with an MCL injury) is bad. Losing a former first-rounder who's supposed to anchor the defensive line (William Joseph, out for the season with a back injury) is bad. And starting R.W. McQuarters and Corey Webster at corner is really bad. Listen, I know Green Bay's offense was practically defunct last week, but their passing attack should hit it big in Week 2.
Fantasy Up: This might be the only week of the season where I wholeheartedly endorse Brett Favre as a fantasy starter. Favre made some typically terrible throws against Philly, but he also looked quicker and more decisive on a lot of plays as well. Of course, just when you think the guy must've read ESPN.com's fantasy pages this summer (bashing him) and is reining it in a little, he fires a needlessly risky pass Sheldon Brown's way. But I don't care. The Pack's running game is on a respirator at this point, and this play-calling staff has TVs. They saw what Dallas did Sunday night. They're going to throw. For the same reason, I've got Donald Driver back up in the top 12 among receivers. He gutted out Week 1 with his sprained right foot, to the tune of 12 targets and six catches for 66 yards, and was all over the field. Green Bay's defense is even better than advertised. Charles Woodson looks like a different guy than the one who sulked his way out of Oakland, and Al Harris has graduated to next-to-elite level. Nick Barnett was fabulous last week, and while the Eagles schemed to stop Aaron Kampman, he was still disruptive. Jeremy Shockey is an every-week starter, and Plaxico Burress probably has to be too, even though the Giants' QB situation is unstable, to say the least.
Fantasy Down: Jared Lorenzen will probably get the start, though the Giants are still holding out hope Eli Manning makes a Lazarus-like recovery. It's not like Lorenzen won't be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, but against this defense, he's got no business in your lineup. His elusiveness is right up there with the giant heads on Easter Island. Brandon Jackson rushed 15 times for 40 yards against the Eagles, and it's going to be an unsteady season. Vernand Morency sounds like he'll be out for Week 2, but I'd probably still hesitate to use Jackson. Face it: Favre wants to throw. Greg Jennings (hamstring) would be a nice bet if he was healthy, and I still rated him 40th among receivers. However, it sounds more and more like the Pack will decide whether to use him Sunday morning. Derrick Ward was justifiably the hottest pickup in fantasy after Week 1, but again, I wouldn't use him this week. Brian Westbrook managed 4.3 yards per carry against Green Bay, but I don't think Ward will get that much. Lawrence Tynes missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a bad calf, so owners of the Scottish kicker may need to find a replacement.
Buffalo Bills (0-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Buffalo's defense is a "Mr. Woodcock"-esque mess. Jason Webster was already an unfortunate starter at corner, but he broke his forearm last week and is out for the season. So second-year player Ashton "Shake" Youboty will have to start, and you can feel the Roethlisberger drool from here. Keith Ellison has a high ankle sprain and his replacement, Coy Wire, has a sprained MCL, so the linebacking corps is thin. Starting free safety Ko Simpson is out for the season with a fractured ankle. Ryan Denney is out with a foot surgery and won't be back until Week 7. Denver racked up 470 total yards last week; that they scored just 15 points is an issue for another time. It's going to be a long year in Orchard Park.
Fantasy Up: Ben Roethlisberger should have another big game, though expecting four touchdowns on 161 yards passing (and just 12 completions) is a bit unrealistic. Plus, I'd expect the Steelers to do their best to establish Willie Parker this week. Fast Willie cracked the century mark, but those who watched Week 1 know he wasn't impressive, failing to score twice from in close, and fumbling right after he broke a 25-yarder in the second quarter. The talk about using FWP in the passing game more hasn't materialized just yet (one catch, minus-2 yards), but give him time. Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes are must-starts. Youboty (with some safety help) will probably be on Ward, while Terrence McGee could be on an island against Holmes. Both sound good to me. Heath Miller is a high-upside tight end option who may start getting more red-zone looks again. Remember, he began last season like a house ablaze, and new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians loves multiple tight end sets. Miller caught a 22-yard score last week, and had another red-zone opportunity but got tackled on the Cleveland 5.
Fantasy Down: J.P. Losman regressed to early childhood against Denver. He turned it over twice, and passed for a whopping 91 yards (and 4.6 yards per attempt). I can see using Lee Evans against a Pittsburgh secondary that could be without Deshea Townsend (groin), but Losman will get blitzed stepping off the bus. No thanks. ... Marshawn Lynch was solid in his first NFL game, carrying it 19 times for 90 yards and a 23-yard score, and normally I'd have him snugly ensconced within my top 24 running backs. But Pittsburgh front seven looks loaded for bear again, to say nothing of Mr. Polamalu's flying hair. The pass protection in Buffalo is awful once again, and while the run-blocking is better, methinks the Bills will be in desperation mode early and often.
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-1)
Orlando Pace getting hurt is bad for business in St. Louis. His backup, Todd Steussie, is already out for another couple months, so former first-rounder Alex Barron has to switch to the left side, and Milford Brown will have to play right tackle. I think this hurts the passing game more than the rushing. Pace still has been a wall when it's come to protecting Marc Bulger, but he hasn't been quite the plow horse he was in Marshall Faulk's heyday.
Fantasy Up: Start Frank Gore and Steven Jackson. 'Nuff said? Bulger and Torry Holt will also be every-week starters all season, no matter who's manning the O-Line. Scott Linehan wants to push the issue. If the Niners get as aggressive as they did against Arizona Monday night, expect a lot of screens to Jackson, and a few deep balls to Holt. Arizona's offensive line couldn't hold out long enough for Matt Leinart to get that done. Even without Pace and starting guard Richie Incognito, the Rams tell a better story. ... I'd still give Randy McMichael another start this week. He's not elite, but I have to think they'll target him more than twice a game. If they signed McMike to just be a blocker, the Rams are in for a rude awakening. ... Darrell Jackson may have hands of stone, but eventually he'll haul in one of those 50-yard bombs and make his owners look very smart for continuing to start him. ... Keep using Vernon Davis. He'll reward you.
Fantasy Down: Alex Smith isn't quite a starting fantasy quarterback, even against a pass defense as shaky-looking at the Rams'. That Niners/Cardinals game was as ugly as it gets, with Leinart racking up 3.6 yards per attempt and Smith logging 4.1. Smith, in particular, had the manacles on all game, as the 49ers played Stalin-ball until their game-winning drive. Gore is apt to have another huge output this week (he carried it for 261 yards and two scores against St. Louis in two games last season), so don't expect to see Mike Nolan open things up for Smith yet. ... I'm not tempted by either defense. San Fran is much better, but those sure are a lot of weapons the Rams have. Meanwhile, St. Louis still isn't very good.
New Orleans Saints (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
If the Saints lose here, a season's worth of goodwill evaporates in a heartbeat. And it's possible. On Sept. 6, New Orleans' offense looked like 2006 never happened. The Saints rarely threw downfield, Reggie Bush looked exactly like the too-small back Houston bypassed, and Drew Brees played it close to the vest at all the wrong moments, while making several bone-headed throws. And on defense, who still thinks signing Jason David was a good idea?
Fantasy Up: Get Brees right back in there and give him a mulligan. He's healthy and he's still got weapons. You can't just blame Indy's Cover 2 for Brees' bad game, though; he threw three TD passes at Tampa (which uses the same alignment) in November 2006. Marques Colston is still also a must-start in all leagues. This is still the guy who caught 61 percent of the passes thrown his way in '06, and the guy who received 14 targets in the red zone (despite missing time with a sprained ankle). He got eight abbreviated targets in the opener, and caught six of 'em. He'll score Sunday. Bush and Deuce McAllister each rushed for 38 yards in Week 1, and the offense didn't score a touchdown. Sean Payton seemed to fall in love with the flare to Bush early, to the tune of eight targets, but the Colts' ultra-quick back seven shut Bush down. Tampa doesn't boast that kind of quickness any longer. The Bucs have to find ways to get Joey Galloway matched against David, because if they do, it could be a quick six. I'd start Galloway with that in mind. Eric Johnson may not quite be a starter in a 12-team league yet, but Brees looked for the hammerhead tight end nine times in Week 1, and Johnson caught eight. He can be picked up in deeper leagues.
Fantasy Down: Will Cadillac Williams play with his injured ribs? As of this posting, Jon Gruden wasn't saying. Even if he does play, Caddy would appear to be a poor bet to get short-yardage carries. If he doesn't, Michael Pittman is getting the hype, but Earnest Graham got the carries late against Seattle. None of these guys should start in a 12-team league this week. I'd love to tell you to play Jeff Garcia. But Tampa's young offensive line looked as dismal as ever in Seattle, allowing five sacks and getting Garcia's bell rung. I think Charles Grant takes out his Week 1 frustrations on Jeremy Trueblood Sunday, which is why, although I wouldn't be shocked to see a few big pass plays, I wouldn't recommend Garcia.
Indianapolis Colts (1-0) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
Suddenly this is an AFC South showdown. We know Peyton & Co. will get theirs. The real question comes on the other side. The Colts' defensive quickness now appears to have been a perfect match for the Bush-led Saints, but what happens when LenDale White comes chugging at those undersized linebackers and safeties?
Fantasy Up: Start all your Colts, but be aware that Albert Haynesworth was a one-man wrecking crew against the Jags last week. I mean, this rush defense was putrid last season, and it capped Jacksonville at just 72 yards? (As I mentioned earlier, the Jags barely tried to run, but still ) Joseph Addai should do his damage around the outside and via the air, though. Vince Young didn't throw all that well in his two starts against Indy last season (a combined 25-for-46 for 226 yards, two TDs and three picks), but he ran for 121 yards on 13 attempts, good for 9.3 yards per carry. Again, size may be one way to overcome Indy's light-and-quick approach, and Vince has size. Chris Brown made hay most often to the left side of his line, behind OG Jacob Bell and OT Michael Roos. (If you haven't heard much about Roos, you will. He's really good.) That side just happens to be where Dwight Freeney plays most of the time, and everyone knows the best way to beat Freeney is to run right at him. I know Brown's a perpetual tease, but I think he pleasantly surprises again Sunday.
Fantasy Down: If Young's going to be that ugly passing the rock, forget playing any Tennessee receiver. Justin Gage maxed out WR catches for Tennessee last week with two. Ick. Neither does Bo Scaife deserve to start yet. He's VY's security blanket, but if Young's going to leap in the air every time he throws, his most valuable fantasy target is going to be the guy who holds the yard marker. It should go without saying you shouldn't start the Tennessee defense, but I probably wouldn't use Indy just yet, either. I grant you, the New Orleans game was impressive. But the Saints never even really tried punching the Colts in the mouth. They were overclever, and it bit them. At least you can be pretty sure Jeff Fisher will try to use size and brute force.
Sloppy wasn't the word for Arizona last Monday. "Slipshod" was more like it. "Wussified" also came to mind. If you want to crown the 49ers, then crown 'em, but the Cardinals' offensive line is what we thought it was. I grant you, Arizona's backs did rush for 126 yards, but they did it on 32 carries, and Matt Leinart was pressured a bunch. Ultra-conservative play-calling didn't help.
Fantasy Up: Shaun Alexander has been running with his hand in a cast or splint in practice this week, but he laughed at reporters who asked if he might not play Week 2. (It's not nice to mock people, Shaun.) Plus, Maurice Morris hurt his hip last week and is questionable. ... Matt Hasselbeck was uninspiring against Tampa, but he should get more work done in Arizona. His last time out against this defense, Hasselbeck went 20-for-28 with 243 yards and three touchdowns. ... Deion Branch has been the subject of widespread panic this week, since he logged zero catches and three targets against the Bucs. Tampa's straight Cover 2 played very conservatively in Seattle last week and left a safety deep on Branch's side every time the speedy receiver was in a pattern, but it's not likely Arizona will do the same. Branch is either a weak No. 2 WR or a strong flex. ... Edgerrin James still is a fantasy starter, but he is teetering on the brink. It's good for his owners (if not necessarily the Cardinals) that Ken Whisenhunt followed through on his promise to use (overuse?) James, to the tune of 26 carries in Week 1. But 3.5 yards per tote won't get it done (he was 3.4 in '06). At this rate, with this O-line, James is on a fast train to Palookaville. ... I maintain that Seattle's run defense has the potential to be bad against better teams, but it flexed plenty of muscle versus Tampa. You should start them.
Fantasy Down: Leinart can't be considered a fantasy starter. He was 14-of-28 for 102 yards last week, and it was exactly that ugly. His receivers weren't open, he wasn't decisive, he was pressured too often, and frankly, the Cardinals were too conservative. Leinart had six games of 34 attempts or more in '06, which is part of what made him attractive to fantasy owners. It will be interesting to see how often he gets over that number in '07. ... Good luck with Nate Burleson. He is replacing high-ankled D.J. Hackett, and he produced a couple of catches for 41 yards (and a fumble) last week. I don't trust his hands. ... Every year, people in deep leagues draft the Arizona defense. And every year, they are disappointed. Terrence Holt forced a fumble but was otherwise invisible last week, and I still say the corners will get exposed against a team that actually throws the ball. Eugene Wilson is great, but I'm staying away.
Ten wins, here they come! OK, no, probably not. Detroit's defense is one of the worst in the league, although, once again, it might not show against a second straight offensively challenged opponent. The round robin of moribund NFC franchises continues, as the Perpetual Rebuilds square off against the Everlasting Overhauls. Obviously, Detroit's Martz-laden offensive stars are the ones to watch here, but don't expect 36 points again. Minny's defense is good.
Fantasy Up: Adrian Peterson might have the field to himself with Chester Taylor limited by a sore oblique, and that's awesome news against a defense that couldn't contain LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. I have Peterson 14th among RBs this week. ... Roy Williams got only six targets last week, matching the totals of Mike Furrey and Calvin Johnson, while No. 4 WR Shaun McDonald got seven. Williams' one-on-one matchup should be a touch easier (he goes from Nnamdi Asomugha to Antoine Winfield), and, of course, he is the elite red-zone option here. Against a very good Vikings D, Williams is the only one I would start at wideout, although Johnson and Furrey have flex appeal. ... And yes, despite the pressure Martz will put on it, I would start the Minnesota defense. You can't run on Kevin Williams and Pat Williams in the middle, Cedric Griffin has turned into one tough (and big) corner to throw on, and E.J. Henderson was everywhere against Atlanta.
Fantasy Down: Let's be clear: Jon Kitna played well versus Oakland. One of his interceptions wasn't his fault (Roy Williams dropped it), and Kitna was dynamic with his feet. But he was dreadful against Minnesota last season: six interceptions and two touchdowns. You know Detroit will throw without end Sunday, so opportunities will be there. But for me, Kitna is just way too risky. ... This probably is Tatum Bell's final start, since Kevin Jones sounds like he will be ready in Week 3. Too bad, because if Jones had been ready this week, Bell could have looked like a hero for playing well in Week 1 (87 yards on 15 carries with a TD). Don't use him this week. ... Tarvaris Jackson wasn't completely lost against the Falcons, but like Alex Smith and Matt Leinart, Jackson never had the reins taken off. He rarely threw downfield and mostly was a game manager against an inferior opponent.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you the 1981 San Diego Chargers! Also known as ... the 2007 Dallas Cowboys! Dallas could very well lead the world in offense this year, but as good as the passing game looked Sunday night, the pass defending? Not so much. The real question in this game is whether Miami can rise to the occasion and produce big-time offense to match the Romo-ites. I think maybe they can. (Where's Rolf Benirschke when you need him?)
Fantasy Up: I'm about the only person alive who thinks Ronnie Brown still should be starting in your 12-team league. I know he got only 11 carries for 32 yards in Week 1 against a suspect Washington D, and I know Jesse Chatman getting seven carries is worrisome. But Chatman has a bruised knee, and even if he plays Sunday, he will be limited. I think that clears the field for Brown, who can duplicate the effort of Derrick Ward against Dallas. ... Clearly, Tony Romo is an every-week starter. You hear announcers warble every week about quick releases and such, but Romo might genuinely have the quickest release in the game. And like him or hate him, he usually makes decent decisions. The fact that Yeremiah Bell is out for the year at safety only helps. ... Jason Witten caught all six of his targets for 116 yards and a score last week. The Dolphins have much better linebackers than the Giants and won't just randomly ignore Witten, but still, you start him. ... I'm also making a case for Trent Green. Maybe not quite as a top-12 guy, but I have him at No. 15 for the week. No, he wasn't strong in Washington. He rarely threw downfield, tossed a disastrous pass in the final seconds of regulation that should have been returned by Fred Smoot for a game-winning touchdown and basically was a dump-off machine. But it sounds as though Terence Newman is out again at corner for Dallas, and that means Green will have tons of opportunities if the Dolphins let him throw.
Fantasy Down: In Terry Glenn's absence, the Cowboys seem content to split time between Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd (while giving a bunch more to Witten), making neither player all that attractive (although I still think Crayton should be owned in all leagues, because if/when he does break out, he could be a force). ... Neither defense looks good to me this week. Miami used to be an every-week unit, but I wouldn't use it against an explosive pass attack like this. And those who drafted Dallas early after drinking the Wade Phillips Kool-Aid need to grab someone else. Could things get better once Greg Ellis gets back? Maybe. But I hate Roy Williams in coverage, and the corners need all the safety help they can get. ... I guess David Martin isn't quite ready for the Antonio Gates role in Cam Cameron's offense.
The final score of this game will be 10-9. Next.
Fantasy Up: Willis McGahee looked decisive against the Bengals on Monday night, although the holes did close up a bit once Jonathan Ogden got hurt. Adam Terry will start at Ogden's left tackle spot Sunday with rookie Marshal Yanda taking Terry's spot on the right side, but I still think it will be worth playing McGahee. The short-yardage problems that plagued him in Buffalo persist; Musa Smith cannibalized a TD, and the only time the Ravens consistently seemed ready to throw last week was in the red zone. I don't expect the Jets to struggle on defense every week the way they did against New England. Still, McGahee will get a bundle of chances, and that makes him a good No. 2 RB. ... Laveranues Coles caught two scores against the Patriots, and although he tends to be Chad Pennington's security blanket (and Pennington won't play Sunday), I'd still use him unless you have a bunch of other strong options. ... Todd Heap and the Baltimore D are every-week plays.
Fantasy Down: Kellen Clemens will take over for Pennington, leading the Jets offense, and it's about the toughest first starting gig imaginable. Clemens has a big arm and might connect on a few deep balls, but he also will turn it over. ... Thomas Jones' calf held up against the Pats, and despite the fact that he didn't practice much this week, you can expect to see him in there against a mad Baltimore team. That's not a good recipe. I wouldn't use him. ... Kyle Boller probably will get the start in place of Steve McNair. Boller looked solid after McNair left late last Monday and would have led the Ravens to a tying TD, if not for a bad offensive pass interference call. There are worse quarterback options in fantasy for Week 2. But there are a lot of better ones, too. ... Mark Clayton has to be benched until the Ravens' receiving situation shakes out. Demetrius Williams was used more often in Week 1 (nine targets to two), which might have been because of Clayton's ankle. Or it might simply be that Williams' raw athletic potential is coming to fruition. I probably wouldn't start any Baltimore receiver.
What Kansas City didn't need: to get their doors pretty much blown off by Houston, to have Larry Johnson get only 10 carries in the opener, to have Chicago lose badly at San Diego, to have this game at Soldier Field. If you are looking for Survivor Pool material, here it is.
Fantasy Up: Cedric Benson sure is getting a lot of flak. Shaun Phillips went on the record after last week's game, saying he thought Benson was soft, and Chicago reporters killed forests while scribbling hate haikus to Benson. But failing to get much done on the ground against the Chargers is no sin. And the good news is John Tait made it through the game unscathed, and it sounds like Ruben Brown will be OK after a shoulder injury. I absolutely would start Benson on Sunday. ... You have to use Johnson. After the Bears shut down LaDainian Tomlinson for three quarters, this would appear to be something of a suicide mission, but remember: Chicago lost Mike Brown for the season (again), as well as DL Dusty Dvoracek. One or two more injuries up the middle for the Bears, and they will start feeling the pain. LJ has created his share of pain over the past two seasons. ... Tony Gonzalez against the Chicago linebackers should be a lot of fun to watch.
Fantasy Down: I wouldn't start either quarterback. Damon Huard looking old and slow Week 1 was not a surprise, but I can't see using Rex Grossman, either. This is precisely the kind of game in which Grossman went off course last year (contests in which the Bears probably didn't need to score big to win), but I've learned two things in all my years: Don't try to time the stock market, or Rex Grossman. (Pretty funny to hear that, according to the Chicago Tribune, former Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who now is in San Diego, might or might not have referred to Grossman as a "mental midget.") ... Greg Olsen will be a game-time decision, and you need to see the rookie TE play once before you use him. However, the higher likelihood of Olsen suiting up drops Desmond Clark out of fantasy lineups. ... Eddie Kennison reportedly has a torn hammy and will miss a month. Dwayne Bowe, who showed some decent spark in his first game last week, takes over at flanker, but none of Kansas City's receivers should be in your lineup.
Here's a fun drinking game. Every time an announcer says, "These old AFL rivals," drink up. Every time an announcer says, "These teams don't like each other," drink up. Every time an announcer says, "Mike Shanahan wants to beat Al Davis," drink up. Every time an announcer incorrectly pronounces "Nnamdi Asomugha," drink up.
Fantasy Up: Jay Cutler threw to Javon Walker 15 times in Week 1, giving him more targets than any other receiver in the NFL. As such, despite the fact that he will run against Asomugha, you have to use Walker. As for Cutler? I've got him at No. 13 among fantasy quarterbacks this week, meaning that if you drafted him to be your starter, you probably should use him. The kid still makes a lot of weird in-play decisions and gets himself into some awkward throwing positions, but he is strangely hard to sack, mainly because he will rifle a ball into coverage even with linemen snaring his feet. ... Travis Henry will be a very strong play in Week 2. Oakland couldn't stop Denver's former starter Tatum Bell in last week's game. ... Ronald Curry probably will get a lot of coverage from Champ Bailey, and we saw what Bailey did to Lee Evans. Still, Bailey is not invulnerable, and the Raiders will run trips to Bailey's side and let Curry cut across the middle. I would use the former Tar Heels basketball star. ... Nickel man Domonique Foxworth sprained his ankle Sunday and is highly questionable, leaving Denver without its two primary backup corners. Still, the Broncos' pass rush was all over J.P. Losman last week and comes in waves. Use this defense.
Fantasy Down: Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown have split first-team reps in practice this week, and the Raiders won't announce their starter until Sunday. That's OK: You don't want either. Culpepper's giant arm represents the biggest fantasy upside, but his mobility is down to nil, so teams will blitz him like crazy. And McCown was turnover- and mistake-prone against a bad Detroit defense. He also has a broken finger and a sprained ankle. ... No thanks, LaMont Jordan. Denver's rush defense isn't one of the league's best, but I can't use Jordan as anything more than a flex. If he does it two weeks in a row, I'll reconsider. ... Sebastian Janikowski missed all three of his field goal attempts in Week 1. How does this guy still a have a job? ... Zach Miller received six targets Sunday, which is a good sign for the rookie's value. You can't start him yet, at least not in single-TE leagues, but keep an eye open. ... Brandon Marshall is an intriguing end-zone target, and he did catch five passes for 52 yards and a score last week. You can't start him yet, either, but if Fabian Washington struggles like he did in the loss to the Lions, Marshall could put himself squarely on fantasy radar.
Here's my take on Tape-Gate: A relative of a good friend of mine works for an NFL team. It's been common knowledge for time infinitum that one of the scouts' jobs is to sit with a pair of binoculars in the press box during games and stare at defensive assistants. Every time the assistant makes a signal, they write it down. They don't have to keep track of what plays are run; someone later matches their notes to game tape. That's why, my friend's cousin says, teams change their signals, sometimes every week. That a team could get docked a first-round pick for codifying this common practice on videotape just seems egregious. Did New England flout the rules? Absolutely. Did they deserve to be punished? Definitely. But this is the harshest penalty in recent NFL history. Ask yourself: Did the penalty fit the crime?
Fantasy Up: LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 123 yards for two scores and caught two passes for 64 yards in last year's playoff game against the Pats. Two years ago, in a regular-season game in Foxborough, LT carried for 134 yards for two scores and had 34 yards receiving. New England hasn't stopped him yet, so don't worry about his Week 1 sluggishness against the Bears. ... I know the Patriots' aerial attack looked unbelievable against the Jets, but New York's pass rush was positively hemophiliac, and there is no way San Diego's defensive personnel will play so poorly. Expect a lot more pressure on Tom Brady and a lot less separation for the New England receivers. I've already said the Chargers have my favorite fantasy defense this season, and I'm not benching them for anyone. ... Despite his surgical dismantling of the Jets, I kept Brady at No. 6 among quarterbacks. You obviously start him, but his uniform won't be so sparkly clean late Sunday night. Similarly, you have to use Laurence Maroney, but between a rough San Diego D and Sammy Morris stealing 11 carries (five in the first half) last week, I'm not expecting more than middling No. 2 RB production.
Fantasy Down: In 12-team leagues, I'm sitting both Philip Rivers and the New England defense. Oh, what an enigma I am. Rivers, as I've written all summer, is a far better real-life quarterback than fantasy QB; when Tomlinson is stealing red-zone TD throws, you know the deck is stacked against you. And I know New England knocked around Chad Pennington last week, but the team's dearth of playmakers in the defensive middle is going to catch up with them this week, in the form of LT and Antonio Gates (whose back will be OK). ... Vincent Jackson dropped a pass in the end zone last week and remains a question. He has got potential, but you probably have to see him fulfill more of it before putting him in your lineup.
Donovan McNabb admitted to reporters that his injured knee isn't as explosive as it used to be, although he claimed he still can get out of the pocket when he needs to. That's not what I saw Sunday. McNabb was flustered by pressure from the Packers, looked very slow and made several of his patented "zip-it-at-the-receiver's-feet" throws. Washington's defense isn't anything close to Green Bay's, so if McNabb doesn't turn it around at home on Monday night, it's going to be a long year in Philly.
Fantasy Up: You still start McNabb. Washington's secondary continues to be overpaid and overhyped, and with Shawn Springs on the bench and the mouthy Fred Smoot starting at corner, there should be plenty of open receivers for McNabb to throw to. For that same reason, I wouldn't give up on Reggie Brown yet, either. He is sure-handed, has good speed and will find a lot more room against Washington's DBs. ... Santana Moss should have a better game Sunday, especially with Lito Sheppard out with a sprained MCL. Will James (formerly known as Will Peterson -- remember him, Giants fans?) takes Sheppard's spot in the lineup. ... As I predicted last week, Clinton Portis is healthy and the more valuable of Washington's tandem, if only because he is so much more effective near the goal line than Ladell Betts. With Betts in the fold, Portis' days as a No. 1 RB are gone, but you start him. Betts is a borderline No. 2 RB or a good flex play. Losing Jon Jansen at right tackle last week doesn't help, though.
Fantasy Down: Maybe you picked up Antwaan Randle El because of his 162 yards receiving in Week 1, but please, don't start him. Can he be Washington's deep threat? I suppose, but that really is what Moss does best. Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders will get Randle El the ball here and there, but he is not the complement to Moss that the team has been seeking for three years. ... L.J. Smith told reporters he was 75 percent last week in Green Bay, and now he might sit Monday to heal his injured groin. That sounds risky, especially because you won't hear anything definitive before you have to make your decision Sunday. ... Don't be fooled by the Washington defense's Week 1 performance, in which it limited Miami to 273 total yards. It still is not a turnover-creating unit, and a less conservative game plan from the Fish might have exposed a substandard pass rush.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.