The Fantasy Fool: Week 2 starters and benchwarmers

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Ryan Mathews in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and DeAngelo Williams, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Kenny Britt? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 2 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins vs. Cowboys. Despite faring poorly as a team, Cousins still managed to pass for 329 yards against the Steelers (with two interceptions). His foes this week are much more generous, and he has a healthy DeSean Jackson – whom the Cowboys have made a very wealthy man – at his disposal. Look for a nice rebound game for the Redskins’ gunslinger.

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks at Rams. Seattle will lean on its running game more than usual as Russell Wilson is hobbling on a bum ankle. Rawls is returning to his starting job after playing a supporting role in the opener. And best of all, he’s facing a Rams defense that looked absolutely dreadful on Monday night.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles at Bears. It’s always nice to have someone going in the Monday nighter, and Mathews should pay off handsomely. He was the clear-cut leader of Philly’s backfield in the opener, while Carson Wentz showed that he can keep opposing defenses honest. Mathews will relentlessly pound a Chicago run defense that gave up 129 yards last weekend to Houston.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders vs. Falcons. Atlanta made Jameis Winston look like a Hall of Famer in the opener (and maybe he will be), so don’t be surprised if David Carr & Co. have a similarly successful outing when the Falcons travel cross country to face them in the Black Hole. Crabtree saw nine targets in Week 1 and should be busy again. Look for at least one TD apiece for him and his sidekick, Amari Cooper.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins at Patriots. I benched Landry in the opener, and the decision paid off. He’s back in my starting lineup this weekend, where he should pick up against New England where Larry Fitzgerald left off on Sunday night. Despite his mediocre output in Seattle, Landry was still targeted a healthy 10 times, and this week, that workload will pay dividends.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers):QBs Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, David Carr, Matt Stafford, Blake Bortles; RBs C.J. Anderson, Rashad Jennings, Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller, Matt Jones, Spencer Ware, Latavius Murray, Jeremy Langford, Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick, Duke Johnson; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Emmanuel Sanders, Allen Hurns, Willie Snead, Jordan Matthews, Doug Baldwin, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Marvin Jones, Jordy Nelson, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin.

Roll ‘em back

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers at Cardinals. I’m going out on a limb here. But as much as I like Winston’s chances to build on his stellar Week 1, I am very wary of him heading on the road against a proud and talented Arizona defense that was embarrassed in the opener. Winston is still young; and while he won’t be a disaster, he comes with plenty of risk.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals at Steelers. Hill has yet to have a strong outing against his division rivals, in large part due to his shared arrangement with Giovani Bernard. In tough matchups, like this weekend’s, both of their ceilings are too low to trust. The Bengals will likely abandon their running game early in a potential aerial showcase.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans at Lions. Murray continues to struggle as a runner, posting a paltry 3.2 yards per carry against the Vikings. Of course, he scored twice as a pass catcher, but that seems like an aberration. The Lions’ run defense held up well in the opener, and could make Murray’s job tough, especially since Derrick Henry will demand his touches, too.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts at Broncos. I don’t necessarily think the Denver defense will ground Andrew Luck & Co. I just don’t think any of his receivers are likely to have big games. Hilton, in particular, worries me, as he’s working through a knee issue and he’ll be blanketed by Chris Harris all day. If you have safer options, use them.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans vs. Chiefs. The rookie was one of my recommended free agent pickups earlier this week, but let him marinate on your bench for now. KC’s secondary is for real, and as well as Osweiler played in the opener, he’s not immune to a rough outing or two. This could be one of them.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford; RBs Arian Foster, T.J. Yeldon, Frank Gore, Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West, Christine Michael, Chris Ivory; WRs John Brown, Kamar Aiken, Mohammed Sanu, Pierre Garcon, Corey Coleman, Davante Adams, Kevin White, Tavon Austin, Torrey Smith, Travis Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Kenny Stills, Vincent Jackson, Stefon Diggs.


Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans at Lions. Marcus Mariota threw the rookie’s way 11 times against the Vikings. Sharpe clearly has a strong rapport with his QB, and he couldn’t ask for a better matchup to build on his salty debut. Detroit’s pass defense folded like a cheap suit against the Colts in the opener.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … Benches Russell Wilson against the Rams. Yes, he’s dealing with a bum ankle; but assuming he starts as expected, keep him in your lineup. First off, he’s facing a team that was just blown out by Blaine Gabbert. Second, if he’s healthy enough to play, he’s healthy enough get the ball to his receivers. In this matchup, he could stand in the pocket like a statue and still fling three TD passes.

Ladd Biro is a four-time finalist and two-time winner of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter(@ladd_biro).

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