By Kyle Fisher
Week 2 of the NFL season provides some interesting matchups for fantasy players. This is also the first week we can use data and observations from this season, instead of the preseason or historical trends. During the season, we will focus on 10 to 12 matchups which can help fantasy owners, and 10 to 12 matchups which aren't so promising based on statistics, injuries or other factors.
Jay Cutler vs. Raiders: Cutler threw for 304 yards last week in a win against the Bills and has thrown at least one touchdown in all six of his starts. The Raiders gave up 284 yards passing and three touchdowns last week against the Lions. With Javon Walker and Brandon Marshall, the Broncos should be able to score points through the air, so expect a couple of touchdowns from Cutler.
Brandon Jackson vs. Giants: Jackson struggled last week against a solid Eagles defense but will continue to get the bulk of the carries. He catches a break this week against a banged-up Giants unit that allowed 142 yards rushing on 4.7 yards per carry last week. Jackson also knows he must perform well or risk losing his job to Vernand Morency.
Chris Chambers vs. Cowboys: Chambers had a good game last week, catching six passes for 92 yards. With Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman battling plantar fascitis and limited at best, look for Chambers to have another big day. What's more, the Dolphins should be playing from behind and will need to throw.
Lamont Jordan vs. Broncos: Jordan had a great Week 1, with 70 yards on the ground and another 89 through the air. Raiders receivers could have trouble in this game with uncertainty at quarterback and the great Broncos secondary, so Jordan might be relied upon more than usual. The Broncos also struggled last week against Bills rookie Marshawn Lynch, who had 90 yards and a touchdown.
Adrian Peterson vs. Lions: This might be the last time you see Peterson on this list because soon he likely will be a must-start back every week. Chester Taylor is injured, and even if he plays, Peterson still will get the bulk of the touches. Expect similar numbers to what Peterson put up against the Falcons last week (163 total yards from scrimmage).
Eric Johnson vs. Buccaneers: Johnson brings real value to the tight end position, especially in point-per-reception leagues, but he is easily overlooked with all the weapons in the New Orleans offense. Johnson opened with eight catches against the Colts and faces a Buccaneers defense that gave up 8.5 yards per catch to the Seahawks last week and five catches to Seattle tight end Marcus Pollard.
Cincinnati defense vs. Browns: While the Bengals have never been a great yardage or scoring defense, they do create turnovers. They totaled five turnovers and six sacks last week. This week, they go against the Browns and new starting quarterback Derek Anderson. The Browns offense might be this year's version of the 2006 Raiders.
Green Bay defense vs. Giants: The Packers held the Eagles to fewer than 300 yards and forced three turnovers Sunday. While the Giants have a potentially explosive offense, they will be without running back Brandon Jacobs and probably without quarterback Eli Manning. A must start, especially if Manning does not play.
J.P. Losman vs. Steelers: Losman had only 97 yards passing on just 4.6 yards per catch last week. It doesn't figure to get much better against a Steelers defense that will bring great pressure. The Browns completed less than 45 percent of their passes last week against the Steelers, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.
Ronald Curry vs. Broncos: Curry was a star for fantasy owners in Week 1, catching 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. But that was against a weak Lions pass defense, and this week Curry will meet Champ Bailey and the stout Broncos defense. The Broncos held Bills star receiver Lee Evans to two catches for 5 yards. With Josh McCown a question at quarterback and the Broncos tough defense, this could be a long day for Curry.
Antwaan Randle El vs. Eagles: Randle El had the best game of his pro career last week against the Dolphins, catching five passes for 162 yards. Now, the Redskins face the tough blitzing style of the Eagles, whose defense allowed just three field goals and 169 yards passing on 4.0 yards per attemp in its loss to the Packers. Randle El was held to just six catches and 85 yards with a touchdown in two meetings against the Eagles last season. Expect more of the same from Randle El.
Tatum Bell vs. Vikings: Bell had a nice game against the Raiders, rushing for 87 yards and one touchdown on only 15 carries. Bell, though, faces last year's No. 1-rated Minnesota run defense that allowed just 94 yards on 3.4 yards per catch last week against Atlanta. Bell likely will struggle all season to get enough carries to consistently help a fantasy roster unless he breaks a big run or gets in the end zone. Don't expect that to happen this week.
Plaxico Burress vs. Packers: Burress might have been the Week 1 fantasy MVP. He could have trouble this week, though. In addition to potentially being without quarterback Eli Manning, Burress has a history of struggling after dominant games. After his two 100-plus-yard games last season, Burress was held to just two total catches and no touchdowns. The Packers did a good job against Donovan McNabb last week, and we see them putting the clamps on Burress this week.
Thomas Jones vs. Ravens: Jones just can't catch a break. First it was the Patriots, who held Jones to just 42 yards, then come the Ravens. The Ravens held Bengals star Rudi Johnson to just 50 yards on 18 carries. While Jones might get a lot of carries due to the injury to Chad Pennington, he might not do a lot when he gets the ball. The Ravens only allowed two backs to gain more than 100 yards last season, Travis Henry and Larry Johnson.
Clinton Portis vs. Eagles: Portis posted good numbers last week against the Dolphins, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown. But he was held in check for much of the game, until the Dolphins defense tired due to the offense's inability to do anything. In the first half, Portis had just 17 yards on seven carries. This week, he matches up against an Eagles defense that held the Packers to just 46 yards rushing on 2.7 yards per catch, and an Eagles offense that is better than the Dolphins. Don't expect the Eagles' defense to tire; expect Portis to struggle.
Marshawn Lynch vs. Steelers: Lynch was very impressive in his debut, rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown. However, this week he matches up against a Steelers defense that allowed just 46 yards on 2.9 yards per catch against the Browns. Additionally, the Steelers were third in the NFL in rushing defense last season, allowing just 88.2 yards per game on 3.5 yards per catch. They also have new head coach Mike Tomlin, the architect of last season's No. 1-ranked run defense (Vikings).
Josh McCown/Daunte Culpepper vs. Broncos: Whoever starts for the Raiders will find it tough against the Broncos. If McCown plays, he has shown he can put up good fantasy numbers against poor pass defenses. This is not a poor pass defense, as it might have the best secondary in the NFL. If the Raiders are to be successful, they are more likely to be so on the ground. If Culpepper plays, look for the Raiders to keep the offense simple and limit Culpepper's mistakes. Either way, it doesn't bode well for fantasy owners.
Miami defense vs. Cowboys: The Dolphins gave up 400 yards of offense against the Redskins last week. While Jason Campbell did not have great numbers, he did throw for more than 200 yards. The Redskins also ran for almost 200 yards. The Cowboys have the formula with two running backs (Julius Jones, Marion Barber), a great receiver (Terrell Owens), an emerging quarterback (Tony Romo) and a solid tight end (Jason Witten) to wear the Dolphins out. The Dolphins don't have the weapons the Giants do on offense, and we expect the Dolphins to struggle on offense.