Below are players about whom I feel much differently than the expert consensus ranking (ECR) over on FantasyPros.com. These are twelve players that I have ranked at least five spots higher or lower than the ECR for week 2. However, I’m focusing on players that are actually guys that you might be debating about whether to start or sit them. For example, I have Reggie Bush ranked seventh at RB, but the average expert rank has him as the twelfth RB. So yeah, I like Bush more, but you’re starting him either way. Instead, I’m going to be talking about guys ranked in roughly the 8-15 range at QB/TE and the 15-30 range for RB/WR.
If you have additional start/sit questions, feel free to ask in the comments below or ask me on Twitter @TheRealTAL.
Carson Palmer /vs. DET / ECR: 16 / My rank: 12
Arizona’s offensive line is terrible. And Detroit’s pass rush is above average. This is admittedly a bad factor for Palmer. But on the bright side, Detroit’s offense is going to put up points. Palmer is just going to have to throw a lot in catch up mode. From 2010-2012, Palmer was 14th in yards per attempt, so when he gets a lot of volume, he can put up big yardage. And he put up that above average YPA when his best receivers were an aging Terrell Owens and Denarius Moore. His supporting cast is much better this year.
Russell Wilson / vs. SF / ECR: 14 / My rank: 19
The expert consensus ranking says Wilson is a sit this week, so I’m not going too far out on a limb here. But I am quite a bit lower on him than the average, and I’m the fifth lowest on him overall, so I feel strongly about him this week. There’s a decent chance that you drafted Wilson as your only QB and don’t think anyone on the waiver wire is worth picking up to start over him this week. But if Josh Freeman or Philip Rivers are available (and both are available in about 80% of ESPN leagues), I’d roll with them this week.
The San Fran matchup is just so scary. Wilson did score 22 fantasy points against SF in their second matchup last year, but he only had 171 yards passing in that game. And in their first game he was held to 122 yards.
DeAngelo Williams / @ BUF / ECR: 22 / My rank: 14
DeAngelo has a 4.9 yards per carry mark for his career. And he managed 5.1 yards per carry in a tough matchup with Seattle last week. The dude is talented. He’s been limited the past few years by injuries, splitting carries with Jonathan Stewart, and Cam Newton/Mike Tolbert getting the goal line work. But he’s healthy now and Jonathan Stewart isn’t. Cam and Tolbert may steal the touchdowns, but DeAngelo is a good bet for 100+ yards in this matchup. The Bills were ranked the 2nd worst run defense by Football Outsiders last year, and they allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs.
Lamar Miller / @ IND / ECR: 25 / My rank: 20
I wasn’t a big Miller guy in the preseason; I don’t own him on any of my eight teams. But even though I didn’t like him to begin with and even though he was horrendous in week 1, I’d find it very hard to sit him this week if I did own him because the matchup is so good. The Colts were the worst run D in the league last year according to both Football Outsiders and ProFootballFocus.com.
Bryce Brown / vs. SD / ECR: 42 / My rank: 28
There are 27 running backs that I feel confident will be the highest scoring back on their team this week, and I have them ranked accordingly. But of the backups, Brown is the guy I like the most. There has been a lot of talk about the pace of the Eagles offense and the number of plays they ran. They ran the ball 49 times, and LeSean McCoy got 31 carries. The volume may not be quite that high going forward, but it’s still going to be above average. And the Eagles would probably be well served to let Brown carry a little higher percentage of the load. If they do, I think he’s a worthy flex play.
Chris Johnson / @ HOU / ECR: 19 / My rank: 26
I wasn’t in agreement with Johnson being drafted as a top 15 back because I thought their o-line additions were going to help more with pass protection than run blocking. But I also don’t think he’s outside the top 25, which is where I have ranked him in each of the first two weeks. He’s just had bad matchups to start the season. Anytime a back I think in the 16-20 range faces the Steelers or Texans, they’re probably going to end up in this space. But in an average matchup next week against the Charges, I imagine he’ll be right back in the 16-20 range.
Mike Williams / vs. NO / ECR: 28 / My rank: 22
Going back to last season, Williams has touchdowns in five of his last six games and is averaging 70 yards per game. And the last four games of last season were the worst stretch of the season for Josh Freeman. It’s hard to tell where Freeman is at right now, but it’s encouraging to know that even at Freeman’s worst, Williams managed to be productive. I think he’s a steady play, and I love him against the Saints who allowed the second most fantasy points to receivers last year. They allowed 22 fantasy points to an essentially Roddy White-less Atlanta receiving corps last week.
Stevie Johnson / vs. CAR / ECR: 31 / My rank: 23
Stevie is money in the bank for 1000 yards and six or seven touchdowns each year, and I think E.J. Manuel is at least good enough to get him there once again. As for the matchup, Carolina’s front seven is highly lauded and rightly so, but their secondary is their weak spot. They didn’t have a single defensive back who was rated as above average in coverage by ProFootballFocus last year, and they didn’t do anything to upgrade the weakness in free agency or the draft.
Antonio Brown / @ CIN / ECR: 21 / My rank: 26
This is just a really tough matchup. The Bengals had three corners rated as above average last year according to ProFootballFocus and they also had the 5th highest rated pass rush. I’m not saying a touchdown won’t be scored in this game, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we only saw a defensive or special teams TD or none at all.
The other thing is that I just can’t talk myself into moving Brown ahead of any of the guys directly ahead of him in my rankings. I’m a Brown fan, but I prefer the aforementioned Williams and Johnson. I don’t love Julian Edelman but it’s hard to ignore his potential this week. I think Cecil Shorts will be better with Chad Henne. And I can’t put Brown ahead of Anquan Boldin after what Boldin did last week even though Boldin has a tough matchup in Seattle.
Torrey Smith / vs. CLE / ECR: 24 / My rank: 33
The analysis I gave for Chris Johnson applies almost exactly the same to Smith. Smith is probably a back end WR2 with all things being equal. But the matchups haven’t been favorable for him early on. Joe Haden is tough, and Smith will be hard pressed to get to double digit fantasy points against him.
Brandon Myers / vs. DEN / ECR: 11 / My rank: 3
The knock on Myers from week 1 is that he got most of his yardage and his touchdown in junk time. This is a fair criticism, and Myers is going to have weeks where he does little to nothing. But I’d be surprised if he disappeared this week. When you combine week 1 with last season, the Broncos have allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends in the last 17 games. They’re tied with two other teams for most touchdowns allowed to tight ends and third in yardage allowed to tight ends. Last week they allowed 100 yards on eight catches to Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson.
Greg Olsen / @ BUF / ECR: 9 / My rank: 16
On the other end of the spectrum, the Bills have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends since the beginning of 2012. In fairness, the Bills did lose both of their OLBs from last year who were rated as above average in coverage, but they did add Jerry Hughes who is also above average in pass coverage. The bigger factor is the weakness of the Bills defense in other areas. We mentioned their poor run D earlier when discussing DeAngelo. And they were 5th and 6th worst in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs and WRs last year. I think big days are in order for Cam, DeAngelo and Steve Smith. But I expect Olsen to be left out.