Sunday NFL preview: Why these pass-catchers could star

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Sunday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills, who travel to Miami for their first road game of the season, had more injuries crop up in their week of practice. Special teams standout Marcus Easley is listed as questionable with a back injury, though coach Rex Ryan said Friday that Easley "is fine ... he will be OK." Defensive end Jerry Hughes also showed up on the injury report with a wrist injury and was limited in Friday's practice, but he is probable for Sunday's game against the Dolphins. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins will take the field against the Bills shorthanded on the offensive line, with left tackle Branden Albert (hamstring) sidelined. A lot of pressure will be on backup left tackle Jason Fox and much-maligned guards Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas to keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill upright against an aggressive Bills defense. Tannehill might be a risky play for fantasy owners. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: LeGarrette Blount was suspended for the first game of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and only played seven snaps in the team's 40-32 win over the Bills in Week 2 because of a pass-happy plan. Blount should get more action Sunday against the Jaguars as the Patriots look to balance things out. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Wide receiver Eric Decker (knee) is unlikely to play against the Eagles, and there's a chance RB Chris Ivory (quadriceps) might also be sidelined -- or at least limited. The Jets need a second-tier player to emerge and help wide receiver Brandon Marshall carry the offense. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Justin Forsett led all NFL running backs with a 5.4-yard average last year, but he is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry through two games in 2015. Will that change Sunday against Cincinnati? In his past six games against AFC North teams, Forsett has averaged 91.2 yards from scrimmage. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Through two games, receiver A.J. Green has provided his fantasy owners with just 16 combined points. Part of that is because his early-season production is comparatively down. Through his first three seasons, the Pro Bowler averaged about 13 receptions the first two games of a season. He only has eight receptions so far this year. The six he had through two games last season didn't tell the full story after he was hurt five plays into the Week 2 win over Atlanta. Asked this past week about Green's involvement in the Bengals' offense, coach Marvin Lewis praised quarterback Andy Dalton for adequately passing to open receivers. It wasn't a ringing endorsement for going out of his way this week to make Green a bigger portion of the offense. Fantasy owners could be playing Green at their own peril again. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: If the Browns offense can't get points and yards Sunday, there's trouble in (burning) river city. The Raiders rank dead last in the league in total defense and 30th in passing yards per game. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 11.6 yards per passing attempt this season, and he's parking a new Ferrari (Le'Veon Bell) in his lot this week at St. Louis. Place him in your fantasy lineup. Roethlisberger is eyeing his 40th 300-yard passing game. He should get it -- he's averaging 360 yards through the first two games. Another encouraging number for Big Ben: Two sacks on the year. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans are going another week without Arian Foster, and by now, fantasy football players should have caught on to the plan for replacing him: It's a committee system, based on which particular skills work best on which plays. The Texans have focused on improving their running game, but even doing that likely won't create a fantasy juggernaut. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts only have four healthy cornerbacks for Sunday's game against Tennessee since Greg Toler (neck) and Darius Butler (hip) are out injured. Indianapolis can use safety Colt Anderson at cornerback if necessary. He played the position for a game last season. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback Blake Bortles is coming off one of the best games of his career, having thrown for 273 yards, two touchdowns and a career-high passer rating of 102.2. The Patriots are giving up 259.5 yards per game passing, including 242 yards and three TDs to Tyrod Taylor last week. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Even with Vontae Davis back in the Colts' secondary, the unit is thin. Ken Whisenhunt has to help rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota take advantage and connect with receivers. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: C.J. Anderson, who entered the week with ankle and toe injuries, practiced fully as the week drew to a close. Still, Ronnie Hillman will be an active participant in the run game. The Broncos are expected to try to assert themselves against the Lions 29th-ranked run defense, but they will also continue to give Hillman a healthy dose of carries as a 1-2 punch with Anderson. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: It's too early to give up on wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in fantasy leagues; the Chiefs haven't given up on Maclin. Quarterback Alex Smith has thrown Maclin's way 16 times among his 58 pass attempts. That not only leads the Chiefs by five targets, but also, Smith has thrown toward other wide receivers a total of 10 times. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Free-agent addition Michael Crabtree has 14 catches in two games. It's the third highest total after two games in team history. Crabtree is on pace for a career-high 112 catches. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: With his second concussion in 11 days, tight end Ladarius Green is questionable for Sunday's game against the Vikings and likely will be a game-time decision. Green has been productive through two games, with 10 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. If Green isn't cleared, expect receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Danny Woodhead to pick up the slack for the Chargers in the passing game. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Jason Witten is battling sprains to both ankles and his left knee, but he will play his 190th straight game and should be a security blanket for Brandon Weeden. In 15 games without Tony Romo, he has 87 catches, including four games with at least 10 catches, and seven touchdowns. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants get Sunday off and will return to practice Monday, when they hope to be joined by wide receiver Victor Cruz for the first time in more than a month. Recovering from last year's serious right knee injury and this summer's left calf injury, Cruz needs to get through a full week of practice without any setbacks or concerns if he wants to get on the field for the Week 4 game in Buffalo. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarco Murray's hamstring felt good enough for him to take part in Friday and Saturday walk-throughs, but he would still be a risk for fantasy owners. He hasn't exactly lit it up in the first two weeks. Darren Sproles seems like the best play among Eagles running backs. He would be the one constant if Murray and Ryan Mathews are sharing work, plus he's the main threat in the Eagles' short passing game. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins have Sunday off, and after a bad loss to the Giants, they hope to get some good news this week on receiver DeSean Jackson. Coach Jay Gruden said there's a chance Jackson will return from a hamstring injury for the Week 4 game against Philadelphia. It would be a quicker return than expected, but it would be a welcome one: In two games against his former team last season, Jackson caught nine passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: With Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery ruled out, the question becomes how effective Eddie Royal can be with hip and back injuries. Royal only practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. That is not good news for backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who is making his 12th career start. Tailback Matt Forte expects the Bears to try to establish the run versus the Seahawks defense. That could mean plenty of touches for Forte, rookie Jeremy Langford and Jacquizz Rodgers. Langford and Rodgers combined to play 24 snaps in the loss to Arizona. The Bears will try to avoid placing Clausen in predictable passing situations. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: With the Lions facing the best pass defense in the NFL, there are not a lot of options for fantasy football players. Starting Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate will still happen, but Eric Ebron might be worth some consideration as well. He has touchdowns in both of the first two games, and if there has been one way to attack Denver defensively, it is by throwing to the tight end. If you don't have a top end tight end, Ebron is a guy to look at. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: It looks like Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams, both with ankle injuries, will be available for Monday night's game against the Chiefs, but how effective will they be? And what's the risk of re-injury? Those are issues the Packers -- and fantasy football owners -- should be concerned about heading into the game. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: Guard Brandon Fusco is questionable for Sunday's game after he sustained a concussion last week, but if he's able to go, he'll be in line to help Adrian Peterson have a big day against a Chargers run defense that has allowed more than 5 yards per carry this season. Fusco, one of the team's best run-blockers, practiced in full on Friday and seems likely to play, barring a setback. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Although I still believe Roddy White will have a much better showing than he did last week, you can't take away from the flashes shown by Leonard Hankerson last week. He scored one touchdown and should have had another. Hankerson could be a primary scoring target again if the Cowboys focus their attention on Julio Jones on Sunday. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have struggled in the running game outside of quarterback Cam Newton because the blocking hasn't been good, but look for that to change Sunday. Running back Jonathan Stewart will face a New Orleans defense that has allowed 129.5 yards rushing a game and 4.3 yards per carry. When Stewart faced the Saints' defense in December, he gained 155 yards on 20 carries. He has been running hard, and he should find a few holes this week. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: C.J. Spiller should become a big part of New Orleans' offense starting Sunday. For one thing, he appears close to full health after practicing fully all week. For another, the Saints could rely on the short passing game and ball-control offense with Luke McCown in at quarterback. The Saints' offense has struggled to find a rhythm so far this year, but Spiller gives them the kind of dynamic mismatch they love to exploit. He only played seven snaps last week, but the first was a 19-yard catch out of the backfield. Saints tailbacks have 18 catches this year. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was ruled out Friday with a shoulder injury, so the Bucs' tight-end depth will be tested Sunday against the Texans. Still, Tampa Bay will rely on a "full-go" Mike Evans at wide receiver to help fill the void in the passing game, with Seferian-Jenkins' services unavailable after he collected a team-high 139 yards receiving through two games. Evans was held without a catch in Week 2, but he should receive a heavier workload in Houston. He could reward fantasy owners after becoming the Bucs' most dangerous receiving threat last year. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: Setting an NFL record with three touchdowns three different ways in the first two games brings a lot of pressure for a young players, but running back David Johnson seems unfazed by the attention or the fact that his jersey from last week's game is in the Hall of Fame. His role will continue to increase with Andre Ellington listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against San Francisco. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Rams tight end Jared Cook might have a sneaky good day against the Steelers, who yielded 14 catches for 178 yards (29th in the NFL) and four touchdowns to tight ends the first two weeks. Granted, one of those players was New England's Rob Gronkowski, but the Steelers are without linebacker Ryan Shazier, and Cook has been Nick Foles' favorite target with 10 catches for 132 yards on 12 targets the first two games. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Sure, it might be uninspired to start a quarterback in your fantasy league, but peek at Colin Kaepernick's career numbers against the Cardinals. He is 4-1 with nine TD passes against Arizona, the most touchdown passes he has against any team, with a 75.2 Total QBR. Plus, last week he ran four zone-read plays for 35 yards, his most on the zone-read since Week 7 of the 2013 season. Sensing a trend? -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch will be a game-time decision because of a calf injury. Pete Carroll said Lynch suffered the injury in Week 2 against the Packers, but he still finished that game. If Lynch misses his first game since 2011, it will likely be Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls splitting the workload. -- Sheil Kapadia