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Week 2 fantasy matchups: Gore, Jackson should be solid


It's always imperative to check the injury reports, but it might be more important than ever this week. Among the slew of injuries last week, the status of several starting quarterbacks is in question.

One thing we noticed last week is that teams are passing a little more than they have. They passed 53.1 percent of the time. Also, running backs are catching a higher percentage of passes than they have in the past. So especially if your league rewards points for receptions, that is something to consider.

Notice that several of the running backs who saw little to no preseason action - LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, et al - had subpar games last week. Perhaps it is out of their system and now they're ready to roll.

Here's a look at key fantasy matchups for Week 2:

Texans at Panthers
The key for Houston is to block DE Julius Peppers -- if they do then QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson should have good games. If I had to guess, I'd pencil in RB Ahman Green for about 75 yards… Carolina, like Houston, played surprisingly well last week. Many owners are waiting for Carolina to get DeAngelo Williams into the mix, but here's the bottom line: When RB DeShaun Foster gets at least 15 carries in a game, the Panthers are 20-2. So look for Foster to be the man until proven otherwise. WR Steve Smith, of course, is a tough matchup for anybody. QB Jake Delhomme, who had a 125.7 passer rating last week, plays very well against AFC teams.
Bengals at Browns
I like Cincinnati RB Rudi Johnson - he's had 125-plus yards in four of his last five games against Cleveland. QB Carson Palmer has 13 TDs in six games vs. Cleveland. WR Chad Johnson needs 82 yards to become the Bengals' all-time leading receiver… Derek Anderson most likely will start at QB for the Browns. The only one worth playing here is TE Kellen Winslow.
Falcons at Jaguars
Statistically, Atlanta QB Joey Harrington was terrible last week -- but he wasn't that bad. Falcons RB Jerious Norwood is the type of back who can do damage against Jacksonville, moreso than Warrick Dunn. I also like TE Alge Crumpler… For the Jaguars, I like both RBs, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Neither was impressive last week - was this another example of players rusty from lack of preseason action? Keep an eye on the emerging passing combo of QB David Garrard and rookie WR John Broussard.
Packers at Giants
While it was the Cowboys passing game that did most of the damage last week, you can run on the Giants -- making Packers rookie RB Brandon Jackson a play here. If Green Bay's line can protect QB Brett Favre, then look for him to connect with WR Donald Driver… If QB Eli Manning plays for the Giants, then he'll do well - along with WR Plaxico Burress, TE Jeremy Shockey and RB Derrick Ward. But if Manning doesn't play, all bets are off and no Giants are worth playing.
Bills at Steelers
Buffalo will not be able to run on Pittsburgh, so the only stats here will come from WR Lee Evans and QB J.P. Losman. The Bills had just 184 net yards last week against Denver… If Jay Cutler threw for over 300 yards on Buffalo last week, look for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to have another good day. That said, Roethlisberger completed passes to six different receivers last week, so don't expect any one of his receivers to put up huge numbers. Of course, RB Willie Parker should fare well here, too.
49ers at Rams
San Francisco RB Frank Gore and St. Louis RB Steven Jackson should both bust out here after slow starts. Last year, Gore and Jackson combined for more than 4,500 yards from scrimmage... For the 49ers, other key plays are QB Alex Smith and Arnaz Battle… I don't think the 49ers defense is ready to slow down the Rams' duo of QB Marc Bulger and WR Torry Holt. Jackson is facing a defense that ranks 29th against the run after one week, so look out for him this week.
Saints at Buccaneers
The plays here for New Orleans are RB Deuce McAllister, QB Drew Brees and WR Devery Henderson - in that order. I realize the Saints defense is not among the elite in fantasy, but you will see the Saints blitz early and often in this contest, so don't be surprised if they notch a few sacks and make big plays… There's nobody worth playing from Tampa Bay. QB Jeff Garcia has had success against New Orleans - 9 TD passes in three games - but that wasn't with this team.
Colts at Titans
In case you needed a reason to play Colts QB Peyton Manning, note that he has thrown 15 TDs in his last six games versus Tennessee, averaging 274 yards passing in those games. Of course, RB Joseph Addai and WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are must-starts as well… Despite Chris Brown's 175 yards last week, I prefer RB LenDale White here. White is more of a power runner than Brown, and that's what you need to do against the Colts. You can also play QB Vince Young and TE Bo Scaife.
Seahawks at Cardinals
Seattle RB Shaun Alexander has 10 rushing TDs in his last five games versus Arizona. QB Matt Hasselbeck is worth playing here, and don't be concerned with the fact that WR Deion Branch didn't catch a pass last week -- he'll make up for it here… Cardinals QB Matt Leinart plays much better at home than on the road. In six career games at home, he's thrown for more than 200 yards in each. Seattle can be be hard to run against, so we'll see what Edgerrin James can do. The passing game will spread it around more, but you still need to play the big two - WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Vikings at Lions
For the record, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and catch a TD pass of 60-plus yards in his pro debut. Minnesota has won 14 of last 15 versus Detroit. Note for folks who play individual defensive players: Vikings DE Brian Robison is emerging as a rookie gem - he had two sacks last week and looks like the real deal… Like most teams, Detroit will have a very hard time running on Minnesota, so QB Jon Kitna and WRs Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson are the only Lions worth playing here.
Cowboys at Dolphins
For Dallas, QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten and WR Terrell Owens are the plays. It's always tough figuring out if Marion Barber or Julius Jones will be the standout at RB from week to week, but I don't think either of them will do much against Miami. The Dolphins defense wasn't that great last week against Washington, but they're still good… For Miami, I like QB Trent Green, WR Chris Chambers and RB Ronnie Brown to do something. Brown was a disappointment last week, but I think he'll get yards as a runner and receiver here.
Jets at Ravens
In all probability, Kellen Clemens will get the start. It's hard enough to make your first career start on the road - it's even harder when it's on the road against the Ravens defense… For Baltimore, RB Willis McGahee, WR Demetrius Williams and TE Todd Heap could post good numbers. Don't be afraid to play QB Kyle Boller - he might be as good or better an option for the Ravens now than Steve McNair.
Chiefs at Bears
Don't expect more than just an average game here from Kansas City RB Larry Johnson, despite some key injuries in the Chicago defense. But notice that Johnson caught seven passes last week, so the combined yards from scrimmage could be good. TE Tony Gonzalez should catch a bunch of passes… For Chicago, RB Cedric Benson still hasn't looked that good, and thew Chiefs run defense is good. QB Rex Grossman and WR Bernard Berrian will have a chance to make plays.
Raiders at Broncos
It looks like Daunte Culpepper will get the start here and not Josh McCown. Unfortunately for the Raiders, I don't think Culpepper will be able to do much here. You can play RB LaMont Jordan and WR Ronald Curry, though… For Denver, I like QB Jay Cutler, RB Travis Henry and WRs Brandon Marshall and Javon Walker to make plays. Backup RB Selvin Young has looked very good and is someone to start thinking about as insurance.
Chargers at Patriots
I always think it's tough making that long trip east, but this being a night game might help. LaDainian Tomlinson didn't get many yards last week, but he had 123 rushing and 64 receiving yards in in last year's playoff game against New England, even with the Patriots keying on him. QB Philip Rivers should be good but not great here. Check the injury status of TE Antonio Gates, and consider playing WR Vincent Jackson… For the Patriots, I like QB Tom Brady, RB Laurence Maroney and WR Donte' Stallworth. After Randy Moss had the monster game last week, I expect San Diego to roll the coverage his way and then the Pats take advantage by going to Stallworth more here.
Redskins at Eagles
Redskins RB Clinton Portis has had 5 TDs in his last 4 games versus the Eagles. WR Santana Moss has a history of playing very well on Monday nights - averaging almost 30 yards per catch. QB Jason Campbell and WR Antwaan Randle El are also possible plays. Note: The Eagles are without Pro Bowl CB Lito Sheppard… Philadelphia will struggle to move the ball here. Washington took a step back on defense last year but they seem to have gotten back to form. Still, it's worth playing QB Donovan McNabb, RB Brian Westbrook and WR Kevin Curtis.