It’s been just two weeks, and already we’re about 12 weeks away from the playoffs for most leagues. Before you know it you’ll either be crying into your turducken, or loyally purchasing whatever Tom Brady tells you to buy.
Yes, it’s still early, but sanity is already slipping. Like, say, that time when I left both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin off of the wide receiver rankings…
1. Tom Brady @ BUF — Two weeks in a row I’ve lowered Brady slightly at least by Brady standards due to either a poor matchup or poor recent performances against an opponent. This crow tastes awful.
2. Philip Rivers vs. KC — A season of picking on a Kansas City secondary playing without Eric Berry continues, but Rivers’ widened eyes go beyond Berry’s absence. Over his past four starts against the Chiefs he has nine touchdown passes, and just one interception.
3. Matthew Stafford @ Min — There was a time not too long ago when I was among the many who were well aware of Stafford’s potential, but were waiting for him to stay healthy. Screw that. If Rivers can post 335 passing yards and two touchdowns with his similarly explosive offense in Week 1 against Minnesota, you’ll be getting some sexy numbers from Stafford Sunday.
4. Michael Vick vs. NYG — Vick is hesitantly placed here with the obvious caveat of his health, although it’s looking like he’s progressing steadily and will play against the Giants. Those who drafted Vick early and then quickly invested in another top quarterback knowing Vick’s brittle nature could be faced with a difficult decision.
5. Aaron Rodgers @ CHI — He stays in the top five because he’s Aaron Rodgers, but he’s also your prime candidate for lowered expectations this week. Over his last four games in Chicago, Rodgers is averaging a very pedestrian 250 yards per game.
6. Ryan fitzpatrick vs. NE — This feels high, and a little too knee-jerky since Fitzpatrick has picked apart weak secondaries for two straight weeks, throwing for 472 yards and seven touchdowns. But this week he’s facing another poor secondary that’s already given up 762 yards through the air.
7. Drew Brees vs. HOU — A revamped secondary has been effective against one offense in shambles (Indy), and another one with a very average quarterback (Miami). The first true test comes this week.
8. Kevin Kolb @ Sea — Ben Roethlisberger had nearly 300 passing yards last week against Seattle while focusing primarily on Mike Wallace, who had 126 yards and a touchdown. The Kolb/Larry Fitzgerald combo is ready for a similar performance.
9. Cam Newton vs. JAC — Newton makes his GLS top 10 debut against a Jacksonville secondary that isn’t nearly as scary as the Green Bay unit that forced his first three interceptions.
10. Ben Roethlisberger @ IND — The Colts’ secondary remains a strong point despite struggles elsewhere, and held Matt Schaub to 220 yards in Week 1. However, the run defense is still weak, which should open up opportunities for Big Ben with Rashard Mendenhall running wild.
Notable omission(s): The first reason for Tony Romo’s exclusion is clear. Even though concussions are very fickle and have caused concern for Vick, a punctured lung is downright scary, despite Dallas’ confidence that he’ll play against Washington. If he does play, the Redskins’ defense and pass rush has quickly become brutish with Ryan Kerrigan complementing Brian Orakpo. Sheer talent can overcome an injury, but this isn’t an ideal matchup for a quarterback playing with a fractured rib that restricted breathing only a few days ago.
Matt Ryan also misses out because of his shaky outing with two interceptions against premier cornerbacks last week. There’s a drop off from the Eagles’ cornerbacks to Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib, but not a steep one.
1. Chris Johnson vs. DEN — If he doesn’t bust out this week against a run defense that’s given up 2,735 yards in its last 18 games, I’ll swim in a pool of Frank’s Red Hot. Random, yes, but consider the risk I’m taking here, and how a similar pledge worked out for Rick Reilly.
2. Rashard Mendenhall @ IND — This has the makings of a slaughter, and that means a some quality second half clock-eating time for Mendenhall.
3. Ahmad Bradshaw @ PHI — The Eagles’ linebackers, their lone defensive weak area, will continue to be exploited. Philly has been susceptible to the long run, giving up a 61-yarder to Michael Turner in Week 2, and a 31-yarder to Steven Jackson in Week 1.
4. Michael Turner @ TB — There’s a lot to like about the Bucs’ front seven and their youth. But the maturation process will take some time, and we’re seeing that in the 4.6 yards per carry they’ve allowed so far.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew @ CAR — The Panthers bent but didn’t quite break on the ground last week against the Packers. This is the week when the levy bursts.
6. Ray Rice @ STL — Rice receives a slight downgrade because of the efficiency of the Rams’ linebackers, but it remains slight because he carved up Pittsburgh just two weeks ago.
7. Adrian Peterson vs. DET — Peterson faces a run defense that hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet, but has still looked impressive.
8. Tim Hightower @ DAL — Hightower has been effective thus far, but he hasn’t quite shown the tremendous burst he had in the preseason. That ends this week.
9. Shonn Greene vs. OAK — I honestly had to quadruple check to make sure my highly caffeinated eyes weren’t deceiving me when I read that the Raiders have given up 7.1 yards per carry.
10. Legarrette Blount vs. ATL — If Raheem Morris doesn’t properly utilize Blount early against a defense that worries about corralling a runner on their way to sacking the quarterback, then he needs a timeout in the corner. One day fans will actually be able to do this.
Notable omission(s): Matt Forte is averaging 60.5 yards per game against Green Bay, yardage that will look very nice on your bench.
LeSean McCoy is the other glaring, and perhaps regrettable omission. He’ll post fine numbers against the Giants, but I’m simply seeing matchups elsewhere with greater potential.
1. Calvin Johnson vs. MIN — There’s a reason to be a little leery here, because with a similar height advantage over Antonie Winfield in Week 1, Vincent Jackson had only 31 receiving yards. However, Jackson can’t quite match Johnson’s bulk, or speed.
2. Andre Johnson @ NO — At first there was the mild concern that regardless of the opponent, Johnson’s numbers could suffer somewhat because of Arian Foster’s nagging hamstring injury. Thanks for taking care of that, Ben Tate.
3. Stevie Johnson vs. NE — One day the entire fantasy WR top 10 will be named Johnson, and they’ll play on a team named The Johnsons while eating Johnsonville Brats after every practice and playing in Johnsonville, New Zealand following NFL overseas expansion.
4. Mike Wallace @ IND — Kerry Collins has already fumbled four times, losing three of them and often giving the opposing prime field position.
5. Larry Fitzgerald @ Sea — Another game where poor field position could greatly help a primary receiver who’s also a consistent red zone threat, this time because of the Tarvaris Jackson show.
6. Vincent Jackson @ KC — Go read that intelligent-sounding analysis of Rivers’ brilliance against Kansas City again. Read it 13 times. Memorize it even, and recite it to loved ones. I do this daily.
7. Kenny Britt vs. DEN — Champ Bailey won’t play because of a hamstring injury. Yes, Britt has a nagging hamstring of his own, but it doesn’t sound too serious, and his quickly developed chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck after racking up 271 yards over two games.
8. Brandon Marshall @ CLE — A Browns team that gave up 28 passing touchdowns last year hasn’t really been tested yet between games against Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
9. Santana Moss @ DAL — The Cowboys’ secondary may be just behind Dallas in terms of being a prime target to bully with your wide receivers and quarterbacks all year long.
10. Santonio Holmes @ OAK — If the Oakland run defense remains atrocious, the opposition’s passing attack will also cash in regularly because of the safeties brought into the box.
Notable omission(s): This may lead to more delicious crow, but both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson have struggled somewhat against the Eagles, with Maclin averaging 56.5 yards over three games, and Jackson a moderate 69.8 over six games. Jackson of course also brings the potential of a return score, but that’s merely an added wild card.
1. Antonio Gates @ KC — For the first time in 34 games Gates was held without a catch last week. This is about as common as a dog who can walk down the stairs on two feet, and you know what they say about dogs who walk down stairs of two feet: they never get held without a catch two games in a row.
2. Dustin Keller @ OAK — Does this feel a little ridiculous ahead of names like Finley and Graham? Sure, but when a tight end is emerging–or perhaps continuing–as a quarterback’s favorite target, notice is required. Keller has 11 receptions over two games, which has led to 161 yard and two touchdowns.
3. Jermichael Finley @ CHI — Greg Jennings has been painfully average at Soldier Field with 56.6 yards over six games. If that trend continues and Rodgers’ deep threat is minimized, Finley’s big-bodied presence will be utilized often up the middle.
4. Jimmy Graham vs. HOU – While we’re favoring hot hands, Graham has 135 receiving yards over two games.
5. Jason Witten vs. WAS — Jake Ballard and Jeff King aren’t exactly known as position powerhouses, or at least not yet. They’ve combined for 95 yards and a touchdown against Washington, with Ballard accounting for 41 of those yards with one of his catches two weeks ago.
6. Rob Gronkowski @ BUF — Now that Aaron Hernandez is out for a week or two (or six), Gronk is a solo act. He’ll take a break from spanking Kate Upton this week to spank the Bills.
7. Owen Daniels @ NO — Last year Daniels didn’t have over 50 yards receiving in a game until Week 6, and then he had 271 yards over his last four games. Waiting is the hardest part.
8. Vernon Davis @ CIN — Over the first two games of 2011 Davis has 65 receiving yards, and he had 151 yards over the first two games of 2010. Alex Smith has always been unreliable and inconsistent, his crosshairs have always been focused on Davis. That’s not the case early this year.
9. Tony Gonzalez @ TB — Gonzo showed us Sunday night that he still has some life left in this 67-year-old legs. The source of Gonzalez’s IV may be Julio Jones. Against the Eagles we began to see that combined with Roddy white the speed of Atlanta’s wideouts opens up the middle for Gonzalez.
10. Marcedes Lewis @ CAR — It’s sounding like Lewis will return from a calf strain. Some will see Blaine Gabbert’s debut as a damaging for the Jaguars offensive skill players. For Lewis it may actually be beneficial, with Gabbert frequently looking for a safety valve.
Notable omission(s): We’re not by any means giving up on Brandon Pettigrew this early, but it’s Nate Burleson may be stealing some of the balls that went in his direction last year. Over his first five games in 2010 Burleson was averaging a paltry 35.2 yards per game, and his two games this year have balanced out to 76.5 yards.
1. Josh Scobee @ CAR
2. Dan Carpenter @ CLE
3. Alex Henery vs. NYG
4. Neil Rackers @ NO
5. Rob Bironas vs. DEN
6. Nick Novak vs. KC
7. Josh Brown vs. BAL
8. Jay Feely @ SEA
9. John Kasey vs. HOU
10. Jason Hanson @ MIN
1. Detroit @ MIN
2. Arizona @ SEA
3. Pittsburgh @IND
4. New York Jets @ OAK
5. Atlanta @ TB
6. Green Bay @ CHI
7. San Diego vs. KC
8. Wasington @ DAL
9. Miami @ CLE
10. Philadelphia vs. NYG