|Steve Johnson had a breakout 2010, but without a complementary receiver, can he repeat that success in 2011?|
Every week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com focuses on key recent trends and numbers, and tells you how they will affect your fantasy outlook for the upcoming week.
Feeling the heat:
Players who have positive numbers following them into Week 2.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Stat: Johnson has 11 TD catches in his past 15 games. He also needs two catches to reach 100 for his career.
Analysis: Even though Johnson has no proven receiving complements, Ryan Fitzpatrick can make sure defenses pay if they double team his top pass-catcher. Johnson will continue to prove his breakout 2010 season was no fluke. He is a must-start in all formats.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City
Stat: Charles is averaging 121 rush yards per game in his past four games vs. the NFC as he heads into a matchup with the Lions.
Analysis: The preseason offensive doldrums have leaked into the regular season for Kansas City, and the Detroit defensive line looks as good as advertised. Charles seems destined for a disappointing week, but you cannot bench him, because the best players can often overcome daunting matchups. If Charles has a down outing, you can buy low on him in Week 2 if you are looking to deal for a top-tier RB.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago
Stat: Matt Forte had 158 yards from scrimmage last week.
Analysis: Forte is playing for a new contract, and it should be noted he is from Slidell, La. and played college ball at Tulane.This week, he travels to New Orleans to face the Saints. Any time a player "goes home" or faces his former team, you should take note. Good performances can be spurred by extra emotional sparks, and Forte has the contract issue and a homecoming firing him up this week.
Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets
Stat: Keller had five first-down receptions in Week 1 vs. Dallas. He also caught his the 11th TD pass of his career.
Analysis: Keller has teased Fantasy players before with his potential. Mark Sanchez would be smart to keep getting him the ball often. If you added him, monitor for him finally building on his considerable potential. But do not start Keller until he proves he can start contributing more consistently.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
Stat: Chris Johnson averages 92.1 rush yards per game in September, the fifth-highest average in NFL history for any player with a minimum of 10 games.
Analysis: It's going to be another down week for Johnson. The Titans had trouble opening holes for him against Jacksonville, and it will obviously be no easier against Baltimore. Should you bench him? All depends on your other options, but keep in mind Johnson has the elite talent to bust out again when you may least expect it.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona
Stat: Kolb now has 300 yards passing in four of eight career starts. He passed for 309 yards against Carolina in Week 1.
Analysis: Kolb took good care of the ball last week, limiting mistakes and managing the game well. He kept the Cardinals in the game and won it for them by taking advantage of Carolina defensive flubs. Kolb is improving as a passer, but the Cards will be tested more by Washington this week and it is best to keep him reserved until he becomes even more comfortable with his new team.
DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas
Stat: Ware aims for his third consecutive game against the 49ers with a sack. It should also be noted that since the start of 2006, he has 74 sacks, most in the NFL.
Analysis: Ware should get more than one sack this week as the Cowboys front seven tees off against Alex Smith, who could be the most shaky starting QB in the NFL right now. Smith struggles with accuracy and decision-making, and getting pressure from Ware means a long day for him and makes the Dallas defense a quality one-week play.
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati
Stat: Benson posted his 13th 100-yard rush game with the Bengals in Week 1.
Analysis: No one in any draft seemed to really want Benson this year, and anyone who took him was seemingly settling. There was a perception that he is about to fall off and playing with a rookie QB did not help matters. But Benson is 28 years old and only has two career seasons of 300-plus carries. Plus, Andy Dalton is smart enough to keep defenses honest and Bruce Gradkowski does command some respect. It's OK to keep rolling with Benson as your RB2.
SEARCHING FOR SPARKS:
These players will look to turn some negative outlooks around in Week 2.
Cadillac Williams, RB, St. Louis
Stat: Williams has one 100-yard rushing game in the previous four seasons before joining the Rams.
Analysis: Williams may be needed to start this week against the Giants, and he looked pretty good in relief of Steven Jackson in the opener. But Williams has been historically mediocre, and when a defense actually can prepare for him, he won't challenge them in major ways. Opportunity does not always lead to production, and Williams will illustrate that point in Week 2.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego
Stat: Ryan Mathews totaled 22 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots in his first meeting with them last season.
Analysis: Mathews could see more of a consistent workload this week with Mike Tolbert dealing with a minor knee injury. The Chargers do need a quality running game to stay near New England in the time of possession battle. Mathews should perform well enough to be a solid flex option for Week 2.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami
Stat: Reggie Bush has averaged 3.4 yards per carry in the month of September.
Analysis: Bush, of course, always pads his stats with receiving totals, but in order for him to be consistently effective, he needs to improve his YPC. He averaged 3.5 yards per pop in the opener. The Dolphins are giving Bush the opportunity he wants, but he will never be a dependable rusher. You cannot bank on quality production every week, and Bush is going to draw a lot of defensive attention from the Texans. Keep your expectations tempered even though he is a good flex option.
Devery Henderson, WR, New Orleans
Stat: Henderson did not have a 100-yard game in 2010. He also did not score after Week 2.
Analysis: Henderson was a popular add this week, but he has historically been an inconsistent deep threat who is often boom or bust. Henderson has always been high on the New Orleans depth chart and is not about to become more dependable with the loss of Marques Colston. Robert Meachem is the better Saints WR to have while Colston is out.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota
Stat: Harvin has only four 100-yard receiving games in his career so far.
Analysis: Harvin caught two passes for seven yards in the opener. He has no true respectable passing threats to complement him this year, and will be double-teamed and bracketed often. Do not hesitate to bench Harvin unless you have no other viable options.
Tim Hightower, RB, Washington
Stat: Tim Hightower has only four 100-yard rushing games in his career.
Analysis: Hightower faces the team that traded him away this week, the Arizona Cardinals. As previously outlined, you can expect invigorated performances from players who face their old teams. This is especially true when a team has given up on a player. Hightower will score at least once this week and will approach 100 rushing yards.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver
Stat: McGahee has one TD run dating back to Week 9 of 2010.
Analysis: The Broncos need to start establishing the run to gain some offensive balance, and with Knowshon Moreno hurting, McGahee can get the opportunity to make his presence felt more this week. Stash McGahee for now, he is going to start producing more as the season progresses, especially as a short-yardage TD producer.
Zach Miller, TE, Seattle
Stat: Miller had two catches for nine yards for Oakland last year in a Week 11 meeting with the Steelers.
Analysis: Miller won't do much this week against Pittsburgh, and while he is falling off fantasy radars very fast, do not forget about him. When the Seahawks make a needed QB switch to Charlie Whitehurst in a few weeks, Miller will re-emerge as a reliable fantasy player. Whitehurst will look for his safety pass-catcher a lot, as he often operates conservatively, but more effectively than Tarvaris Jackson.
For more advanced insights and breakdowns, check out the RotoExperts.com Xclusive Edge package, which includes VIP access to all content from Scott Engel, a 15-year Fantasy veteran analyst with sites such as CBS SportsLine and ESPN.com, and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame.