Seven Week 2 Storylines: It’s Time to Bounce Back

Lamar Miller rushed for three more yards than you and me last Sunday.

Fantasy owners during this time of year are like four-year-old children whining at a toy store. They want the new toy, but that wish isn’t being granted. And no matter how much you tell them to stop complaining, they won’t. They just won’t.

It wasn’t a bad move to have Stevan Ridley in your lineup last night against the Jets. There was no Shane Vereen, the Patriots needed to establish a ground game and Ridley seemed to be the guy to get 20-plus touches. The Jets defensive line is looking great, sure, and they held Doug Martin to a modest game on the ground last week, but volume can go a long way in fantasy football. That’s what Ridley will get, even with tough matchups throughout 2013.

But you want to drop him. Oh.

There have been 17 NFL games played this year, and people are already making decisions that can hurt an entire fantasy season. They’re frustrated – I get it. They’re complaining at the toy store. But I can’t stress it enough: you’ve got to remove emotion from this addicting game of ours.

There are a few stud-like players who put up stinkers in Week 1, but it’s not time to worry just yet. Take a look at how they can improve in Week 2.

Can the Bucs offense get back on track against New Orleans?

A touchdown salvaged an otherwise poor performance by Doug Martin against the Jets, as he rushed 24 times for just 65 yards on the ground in Week 1. Josh Freeman, an up-and-down passer throughout his career, was just as miserable, posting a -1.72 passing net expected points total. Freeman was worse – 1.72 points worse – than an average passer in his position with the Buccaneers last week.

Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were fine from a fantasy perspective, and that should continue against the Saints this week. We should also expect Doug Martin to have a nice ground day against a New Orleans defense that ranked second to last in our efficiency metrics last season.

I’m not sure you trust Freeman unless you’re completely desperate though from a pretend pigskin standpoint. He played poorly the last time he faced the Saints, and they looked competent against Matt Ryan in Week 1. Wait until Freeman shows at least some consistency throwing the ball – that’s a key thing to watch on Sunday.

Is this Panthers rush defense for real?

I’m just warning you: C.J. Spiller could be in for another tough day on the ground. The Panthers held Marshawn Lynch to just 43 yards on 17 totes in Week 1, and only allowed Seattle to score 12 points. A big part of the run stuffing came from rookie Star Lotulelei, who had four tackles including one for a loss against Seattle.

The Panthers will be tested again on Sunday as they go to Buffalo to face the explosive Spiller. I expect the Bills to run C.J. even more than they did in Week 1, as a fumble may have forced them to play the veteran Fred Jackson a little more than usual. He’s a clear start in fantasy, but be prepared for a potential disappointment against an improved Panthers defense. This isn't the same team as last year.

Can David Wilson and Lamar Miller bounce back?

There’s reason to feel better about Week 2 if you’re a Wilson or Miller owner. For Wilson, he’ll get his opportunity back in the Giants backfield. Tom Coughlin’s made it clear that the Giants need Wilson to perform in order to be successful, so feeding him the rock won’t be a problem. If he fumbles, however, then – well – we’ll have some issues.

Lamar Miller’s dreadful performance against the Browns, to me, is a two-sided one. We haven’t liked Miller from a metrics standpoint much, so it wasn’t incredibly surprising to the guys at numberFire to see Miller disappoint. However, let’s be clear that Miller won’t be that bad statistically each week. He ran into a good, underrated defense in Cleveland, and couldn’t find much room. This week will give us a better glimpse of Miller’s potential, as he gets a great matchup versus Indianapolis. He’s a good flex play in Week 2.

Should you sell the Redskins offense?

The stat lines won’t look bad, but the Redskins got a lot of late-game points last week, skewing their raw metrics a bit. Robert Griffin III ranked 16th in terms of passing net expected points during Week 1, worse than Ryan Tannehill and Christian Ponder. As noted, this number looks at how many real points a player was adding through the air for his team.

Let’s call it rust for the time being. The Skins get a nice matchup against the Packers this week, a team that surrendered the second-best passing performance efficiency-wise in Week 1. RGIII may not be to Kaepernick’s level right now, but he’ll have an opportunity to step up and perform. From a fantasy perspective, I do worry about his rushing totals, as he’s not going to see the same number of designed runs as he did last year.

Oh, and watch how they use their tight ends. Jordan Reed was actually targeted more than Fred Davis last week, making the situation a potential fantasy nightmare.

Will the Broncos offense keep it going in Week 2?

No, Peyton Manning won’t throw seven touchdowns this week, but he’ll get enough fantasy points to make owners smile. There’s no need to worry about him.

What you should worry about is the running back situation. We’ve got to continue to monitor which backs see touches, as the Broncos backfield is about as unpredictable as the catch rules in the NFL. As a team, they rushed the ball 23 times for just 65 yards. Pitiful. Awful. Miserable.

The Manning Bowl will be an interesting one, as the Giants try to get over their Week 1 loss to their division rivals. Expect a high-scoring matchup with loads of fantasy points.

Is Russell Wilson bench-worthy this week?

In short, yes. “But he threw four touchdown passes the last time he faced the 49ers!” says the Wilson apologist. Yes, he did. He also threw for 171 yards.

Here’s the deal: Russell Wilson isn’t a plug-and-play fantasy quarterback. He’s not like Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He’s limited by pass attempts, and won’t do as much with his legs as some of the other athletic signal-callers in the league.

I’m sure Seahawks fans are closing out this article tab in their browser, but this is reality. The Hawks have a sound run game (typically), and they don’t need Wilson to have unicorn-like numbers to win. The defense can do that.

There are better options than Wilson against the 49ers this week, especially after a single-touchdown performance against the Panthers in Week 1. We currently have Wilson as our 21st-ranked quarterback for Week 2. Bold? Perhaps, but the quantity of quality quarterbacks (Q’s for the win) is immense.

Will Ben Roethlisberger get sacked 16 times on Monday Night?

Oh, boy - that Steelers offensive line. Yikes. I worry for Ben Roethlisberger’s health against Cincinnati’s defensive line on Monday night, and he’s clearly a sit this week in fantasy football.

But here’s something to give Steeler fans an ounce of optimism: Jonathan Dwyer.

No – no, not Dwyer. Dwyer? Didn’t he just get cut from the Steelers and re-signed because of a LaRod Stephens-Howling season-ending injury?

He did, but he may play a big role on Monday night. And it’s not just his running ability, or lack thereof. It’s his ability to pick up the blitz. During the game last weekend against Tennessee, Steeler running backs were at fault of giving up 3.5 of the five sacks the Steelers allowed, per Enter Dwyer, who’s strength is pass blocking. There's a chance that he sees the field more than most are predicting.

This isn’t to say the Steelers will win or that the Bengals won’t get to Roethlisberger: They will. But keep an eye on Dwyer’s playing time and how he’s used. Isaac Redman could end up taking the backseat, while a refreshed Dwyer makes the most of his opportunity.