By Zac Bellman
Special to the Tribune
It was a rough start for many top running backs the NFL in Week 1. Stevan Ridley and David Wilson were benched after putting the ball on the ground, and Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson and Arian Foster were all held without a touchdown. Before everyone goes diving into the waiver wire, let’s all remember the story of Kevin Ogletree. In last season’s opener, Ogletree exploded for eight catches, 114 yards and two touchdowns. Ogletree was by far the most popular pick up in fantasy leagues that following week, but his performance proved to be a flash in the pan. The rest of the season he caught only 24 more passes and two more touchdowns. Why bring up Ogletree? Because it’s the first game of the season, don’t overreact and have faith in the players you originally drafted. Also if your league limits the number of transactions you can make, don’t waste one early on this year’s Kevin Ogletree. Here are my picks to start, sit, and take a closer look at this week.
Start: Eli Manning (Giants) vs. the Broncos – Although everyone was still talking about his brother’s performance even at the conclusion of Week 1, Eli had a tremendous performance as well. He threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns, giving him the third highest fantasy output for a QB last week, behind only his brother and Colin Kaepernick. Eli is 0-2 in matchups with his brother, and seeing as this may be the final game between the two, he won’t be holding anything back. To be clear you are still starting Peyton if you have him however.
Sit: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) vs. the Bengals – Big Ben really struggled to move the ball down the field against a Titans defense not known for their ability to shut down the pass last week. This week he takes on a defense he failed to throw for more than one touchdown against in each of their two meetings last year. Roethlisberger will be forced to leave the pocket in this game against a Bengals rush that brought down the QB 51 times last season. This can lead to big plays or forced throws that turn into interceptions.
Sleeper Start: Russell Wilson (Seahawks) vs. the 49ers – Wilson was very hot and cold in his two matchups with the 49ers in his rookie season. On the road he had a career low in yards and completion percentage, but in their meeting in Seattle he threw for a career high four touchdowns. This game is in Seattle, and the Seahawks will look to exploit Nnamdi Asomugha the way the Packers were able to in Week 1.
Start: Daryl Richardson (Rams) vs. the Falcons – Richardson is the type of back that will get touches regardless of the score. He didn’t score in Week 1, but his 25 total touches mean he will get his opportunities. It is not time to give up on Richardson, even with the possibility of Isaiah Pead returning to action this week.
Sit: Fred Jackson (Bills) vs. the Panthers – Jackson showed glimpses of the days when he shined in a committee with C.J. Spiller last week, but don’t expect it to continue in Week 2. The more versatile Spiller will steal a majority of Jackson’s touches in both the running and passing game. Marshawn Lynch, a back in the similar mold of Jackson, also struggled against the Panthers last week.
Sleeper Start: Joique Bell (Lions) vs. the Cardinals – The Lions’ backs saw a lot of action in Week 1 against the Vikings. Reggie Bush is a sure-fire starter, but Bell also saw plenty of touches and is available in a pinch when Bush needs a break. He appears to have taken Mikel Leshoure’s carries around the goal line, which is a strong indication of his fantasy prospects going forward.
Start: Desean Jackson (Eagles) vs. the Chargers – Chip Kelly’s offense and the Eagles’ speedy playmakers appear to be the perfect match if their first game was any indication. One of the most exciting results could be the re-emergence of Desean Jackson as a reliable fantasy player. Jackson, Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are leading a downright scary fast offense. More plays means more touches for all three, making all three fantasy starters on just about any given week.
Sit: Greg Jennings (Vikings) vs. the Bears – AJ Green was able to haul in a couple touchdowns against the Bears, but Jennings is not AJ Green. Jennings is getting the attention of a number one receiver when he is used to playing the slot. It certainly showed in Week 1, when he was only able to catch three passes for 33 yards. His familiarity with the division did not help him against the Lions, and don’t expect much to change in Week 2 against the Bears.
Sleeper Start: Kenbrell Thompkins (Patriots) vs. the Jets – If you don’t know who Kenbrell Thompkins is yet get acquainted. He had 14 passes thrown to him in Week 1, and with slot receiver Danny Amendola unlikely to play Thursday night, he could see just as many this week. Production was minimal at only four catches for 42 yards, but Tom Brady doesn’t throw that many times to one player that isn’t capable of putting up more than that.