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NFL Weekly Picks - Week 2
By Bob Cunningham
September 11, 2003
 
STRAIGHT-UP
Last Week -- 9-7 (56.3%)
Overall -- 9-7 (56.3 %)
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Last Week -- 6-9-1 (40%)
Overall -- 6-9-1 (40%)
PREMIUM PICKS*
Last Week -- 1-0 (100%)
Overall -- 1-0 (100%)

Ok, so what did we learn the first week?
We learned that the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs are still darned good.
We learned that it's not neccessarily a sure thing that Rams QB Kurt Warner will return to his 1999-2001 form.
We learned that the holdout of Philadelphia RB Duce Staley ultimately meant next to nothing.
We learned that the Buffalo Bills have a much improved defense. Ditto Minnesota.
We learned that some things (the Bengals, Quincy Carter, the Cardinals defense) never change.
And lastly for now, we confirmed that any team can beat any other team in any given week... right Miami?

PREVIEW - WEEK 2 (Sept 14-15)

MIAMI at NEW YORK JETS

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Dolphins favored by 3

Records: Dolphins 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Jets 0-1 (0-0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Jets have won 3 of the last 4 in this series, and are 14-6 ATS in the last 20 meetings.

Game Summary: Miami's loss to Houston at home was a real stunner, and it makes it more complicated to analyze them from here on out. The Jets shouldn't win this one, on paper, but they've usually had the best of the Dolphins during coach Herman Edwards' tenure.

Prediction: JETS, 21-16

Dolphins:
Good news from Week 1 was the effectiveness of the passing game. QB JFiedler is a good option in larger leagues, RB RWilliams and WR CChambers in any league.

Jets:
There are no sure plays, including RB CMartin, who was displaced by LJordan at the goal line in Week 1.

Dolphins:
DB Sam Madison (ques.)

Jets:
QB Chad Pennington (out)

BUFFALO at JACKSONVILLE

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Bills favored by 3

Records: Bills 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Jaguars 0-1 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Buffalo won the last meeting at Jax, 13-10 in 2001.

Game Summary: The Bills defense was ultra-impressive in its opener, and New England figures to be more of a threat at this point than the Jags. Go with the hot team.

Prediction: BILLS, 24-17

Bills:
Play every key player, including WR JReed.

Jaguars:
RB FTaylor is the only truly solid play. QB MBrunell should be considered in the largest leagues only.

Bills:
none

Jaguars:
WR Jimmy Smith (suspended through Week 4)

CLEVELAND at BALTIMORE

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Ravens favored by 2 1/2

Records: Browns 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Ravens 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Cleveland is 3-1 in its last four against Baltimore, both straight-up and ATS.

Game Summary: I was impressed with the play of Cleveland's defense in its opener, shocked at how poorly Baltimore performed. If the Browns can pressure rookie QB Kyle Boller, it could be another long day for the Ravens. Like Dolphins-Jets, another mini-upset pick.

Prediction: BROWNS, 23-20

Browns:
Don't expect this offense to have the same success that Pittsburgh's had, but QB KHolcomb and WR QMorgan are plays. Rest RB WGreen.

Ravens:
RB JLewis, TE THeap and the Ravens teams are good bets, but the rest are borderline.

Browns:
none

Ravens:
none

PITTSBURGH at KANSAS CITY

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Chiefs favored by 3

Records: Steelers 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Chiefs 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Steelers have won 5 of the last 6 meetings, and every one of them has been at KC. The two haven't played at Pittsburgh since 1990.

Game Summary: With due respect to the Steelers' dominance of this series, I like KC because the Chiefs have more to prove. They seem to have a stingy defense to go with the potent attack, and quality Chiefs clubs are typically especially nasty at home.

Prediction: CHIEFS, 27-21

Steelers:
The passing attack is reliable, but consider skipping RB AZereoue. Tough matchup for the D, but still a reason-able risk in bigger leagues.

Chiefs:
QB TGreen, RB PHolmes and TE TGonzalez are weekly plays, but the WR scene is muddled.

Steelers:
LB Joey Porter (out)

Chiefs:
none

TENNESSEE at INDIANAPOLIS

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Colts favored by 2

Records: Titans 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Colts 1-0 (1-0)

Stats Worth Noting: The Titans swept the season series a year ago and have won three of their last four at Indy.

Game Summary: The Colts should be encouraged by their opener, because they won despite struggling on offense. It was a Tony Dungy-type game. But Tennessee is more lethal, and better balanced. Plus, the Titans have owned this series. I can't go against trends on every game.

Prediction: TITANS, 24-20

Titans:
Although Colts D is improved, QB SMcNair, RB EGeorge, and WR DMason are musts. I like the Titans D, too.

Colts:
Go with the Big 3 of PManning, EJames and MHarrison, and throw in TE MPollard as well. Make the D prove it another week.

Titans:
TE Frank Wycheck (ques.)
K Joe Nedney (out)

Colts:
WR Brandon Stokley(ques.)

HOUSTON at NEW ORLEANS

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Saints favored by 8 1/2

Records: Texans 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Saints 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: First-ever meeting.

Game Summary: New Orleans certainly can't let this one get away, but it won't be a gimme. The line is too big, and a surprise because I'd think a lot of the "action" would be on the 'dogs. The Saints' passing attack is better than Miami's, and that will be the difference.

Prediction: SAINTS, 26-21

Texans:
RB SMack, WRs AJohnson and CBradford, and the defense are OK in bigger leagues. QB DCarr? Really big leagues only.

Saints:
QB ABrooks, RB DMcAlister, and WRs JHorn and DStallworth are definites. K JCarney also inviting.

Texans:
none

Saints:
none

WASHINGTON at ATLANTA

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Falcons favored by 3

Records: Redskins 1-0 (0-0-1 ATS), Falcons 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The teams have played only three times in the last 11 years, and not since 1997.

Game Summary: Because of Michael Vick's absence, the teams are comparable on offense. What sets them apart is the Falcons' superior defense. At home, it's too much for the Skins.

Prediction: FALCONS, 24-13

Redskins:
Stay away from the RB set-up. If you must, RB LBetts is your best, uh, "bets". WRs LColes OK, but WR RGardner ignored in Week 1.

Falcons:
RB WDunn and WR PPrice are only strong plays. TE ACrumpler good in most leagues. I like the defense, too.

Redskins:
none

Falcons:
QB Michael Vick (out)

DETROIT at GREEN BAY

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Packers favored by 6 1/2

Records: Lions 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Packers 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Packers haven't lost to Detroit at home since the 80s, and are 9-1 ATS in their last 10.

Game Summary: Despite a banged-up WR corps and a questionable defense, past results in this rivalry are too strong an indication to ignore. Besides, I look for a huge bounce-back effort by Brett Favre and the Pack.

Prediction: PACKERS, 30-13

Lions:
QB JHarrington is a go because you should play the hot hand. WR CRogers can't be ignored, and WRs BSchroeder and AHakim are intriguing.

Packers:
QB BFavre and RB AGreen are musts. Look for WRs AFreeman, JWalker and TEs WWalls and BFranks to step up. Leave the defense alone for now.

Lions:
RB James Stewart (out)

Packers:
WR Donald Driver (out)
WR Robert Ferguson (doubt.)

SAN FRANCISCO at ST. LOUIS

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Rams favored by 3

Records: 49ers 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Rams 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Rams have won 6 of the last 8 meetings, and 4 in a row at home.

Game Summary: QB Marc Bulger gets the start for St. Louis, and he's been dynamite as a home starter. This game will show us if the Rams are legit contenders or not. Watch the QB controversy explode after this one.

Prediction: RAMS, 31-24

49ers:
The passing game is a go, the running game iffy because GHearst and KBarlow are getting roughly equal time. Despite the big Week 1, bench the SF defense.

Rams:
Play Bulger and all the other key skill players, as you normally would.

49ers:
TE Eric Johnson (out)

Rams:
QB Kurt Warner (ques.)
DB Jason Sehorn (out)

CAROLINA at TAMPA BAY

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Buccaneers favored by 9 1/2

Records: Panthers 1-0 (0-1 ATS), Buccaneers 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bucs have won 4 of the last 5 meetings, including a sweep last season, but Carolina is 3-2 ATS over that stretch.

Game Summary: I have a funny hunch about this game. I can't bring myself to predict a shocker outright, but Carolina's defense and ground game could cause Tampa Bay all sorts of problems. Look for this one to be tight.

Prediction: BUCS, 13-10

Panthers:
RB SDavis and the defense are only legit plays. WR MMuham-mad should sit this one out.

Buccaneers:
WRs KJohnson and JJurevicius are quality, and of course the defense. QB BJohnson only in larger leagues. RBs take a seat.

Panthers:
WR Kevin Dyson (out)

Buccaneers:
none

SEATTLE at ARIZONA

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Seahawks favored by 4 1/2

Records: Seahawks 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Cardinals 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Last year's two clashes were the first between these two in over a decade, and the road team won convincingly both times.

Game Summary: Look for the above trend to continue, because the Seahawks have taken a step up and have the offense to blow it out early, although I expect the Cardinals to hang tough for a while as they did at Detroit last week.

Prediction: SEAHAWKS, 34-20

Seahawks:
All the key offensive players are easy plays, and I like the defense as well in larger leagues.

Cardinals:
QB JBlake and WR ABoldin are the hot hands, so stick with 'em. You're best off ignoring just about everyone else.

Seahawks:
DB Shawn Springs (out)
DL Chad Eaton (out)

Cardinals:
none

NEW ENGLAND at PHILADELPHIA

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Eagles favored by 5 1/2

Records: Patriots 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Eagles 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Eagles won the only meeting between the two since 1992.

Game Summary: Seeing the Eagles blanked at home, even by a D as good as Tampa Bay's, was a shocker... almost as amazing as New England's shutout loss at Buffalo. Well, at least we know something will probably give here. Looks like the Pats are going to start 0-2.

Prediction: EAGLES, 24-13

Patriots:
Not a bad week to bench everyone, but QB TBrady and WR TrBrown are still OK plays.

Eagles:
Look for QB DMcNabb to bounce back, finding WR TPinkston often. DStaley best RB option but I'd skip it. Defense a must play.

Patriots:
none

Eagles:
DL Jerome McDougle (doubt.)

CINCINNATI at OAKLAND

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Raiders favored by 10 1/2

Records: Bengals 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Raiders 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: Cincinnati is 3-1 ATS in the last four meetings, but the most recent was 1998.

Game Summary: Cincinnati is in the process of going through that learning curve associated with a new coach and a bunch of youngsters. The Raiders are the polar opposites -- a bunch of old guys who know how to get it done. This one has all the makings of a good ol' fashioned butt-whuppin'.

Prediction: RAIDERS, 35-15

Bengals:
RB CDillon might find some daylight, and WR CJohnson has become a fantasy mainstay. That's 'bout it, though.

Raiders:
All the Raiders' key skill players, including dinged WR JPorter, are sound plays in this one. Ditto the defense.

Bengals:
none

Raiders:
WR Jerry Porter (prob.)

DENVER at SAN DIEGO

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Broncos favored by 3

Records: Broncos 1-0 (1-0 ATS), Chargers 0-1 (0-1 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The home team has dominated this series, winning all but one since 1998.

Game Summary: I'm a Marty Schottenheimer fan, and this is the type of game in which he tends to do his best work. The Chargers have the tools to be a player in the AFC West, and this is the game they begin proving it -- against a division rival playing its second road game in as many weeks.

Prediction: CHARGERS, 20-17

Broncos:
You know I'm not a JPlummer fan, so it's no surprise that I suggest he sits. RB CPortis, WR RSmith and TE SSharpe are wise. So, too, is the defense.

Chargers:
QB DBrees a good sleeper pick, and RB LTomlinson due for a big day. WR DBoston worth starting, but give the others a week for further analysis.

Broncos:
none

Chargers:
TE Stephen Alexander (prob.)

CHICAGO at MINNESOTA (Sun. night)

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Vikings favored by 8

Records: Bears 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Vikings 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Bears are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 at Minnesota, but was beaten there a year ago, 25-7.

Game Summary: This is a rivalry game, which typically is closer than the records suggest they should be. But you can't help but consider what happened in Week 1 -- the Vikes and the Yikes. I have to go with the more recent trend in this one.

Prediction: VIKINGS, 38-17

Bears:
What a mess. WR MBooker the only sure play. Others like QB KStewart and RB AThomas you insert at your own peril.

Vikings:
The key components of the passing game are no-brainers, and RB MWilliams proved him-self worthy of a spot in a fantasy lineup also. The defense a risk play with large upside.

Bears:
none

Vikings:
RB Michael Bennett (out)
TE Byron Chamberlain (out)

DALLAS at NEW YORK GIANTS (Mon.)

Fantasy Take

Key Injuries

Line: Giants favored by 7 1/2

Records: Cowboys 0-1 (0-1 ATS), Giants 1-0 (1-0 ATS)

Stats Worth Noting: The Giants have dominated at home in recent years, winning four straight including a 37-7 rout last year.

Game Summary: Unfortunately for Dallas, I see much the same type of game that transpired last year at The Meadowlands. Smells like smoked Tuna to me.

Prediction: GIANTS, 30-14

Cowboys:
An ugly matchup. Only WR JGalloway and perhaps WR ABryant are worthy of a start.

Giants:
QB KCollins, RB TBarber, WR AToomer and TE JShockey are weekly plays. WR IHilliard OK in larger leagues. Defense also a must this week. And K MBryant also solid.

Cowboys:
none

Giants:
K Mike Hollis (out)