Jay Cutler, Broncos – Cutler looks like he’s going to take the same type of meteoric rise from a fantasy perspective that Tony Romo did last season. He’s been unstoppable the first two weeks, and he once again has Brandon Marshall to throw to. He shut up the skeptics who thought his opening week performance against the Raiders may have been a fluke by throwing for 350 yards and a gaudy four TDs against San Diego. Cutler is a must start every week.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – If LaDainian Tomlinson’s toe continues to be an issue, the Chargers will have to rely on Rivers’ arm even more to win. And San Diego may be the most desperate team in the league after the way they lost their first two games. Unless your other quarterback’s name is Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or Jay Cutler, Rivers needs to be your starter.
Kurt Warner, Cardinals – Warner detractors say, he’s an injury risk. Every starting quarterback in the NFL – every player, in fact – is an injury risk. What’s not to like about Warner? Yes, his 361-yard, three-touchdown day was in Arizona’s home opener, and yes it was the Dolphins, but production like that can’t be ignored. He’s got a solid running game and two absolute stud receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Don’t expect similar numbers on the road against Washington this week, but a 275-yard, two-TD game isn’t out of the question – and those numbers are fantasy starter worthy.
Peyton Manning, Colts – You can’t really say Manning’s “rising” when he’s already at or near the top of the list of fantasy quarterbacks, but there were some questions after Week 1 about how much rust he had accumulated. He knocked that off in a big way against the Vikings, even though it took him most of the game to do so. Manning looks like he’s back to top form, and he should have Dallas Clark back for Week 3.
J.T. O’Sullivan, 49ers – The career vagabond showed some serious toughness – and earned himself some fantasy relevance – by withstanding an eight-sack Seattle barrage and still managing to throw for 321 yards and a score. He’s a plausible starter this week against the Saints. If, say, you lost Tom Brady and your No. 2 QB didn’t cut the mustard, you can probably grab O’Sullivan off the free agent pile.
Jason Campbell, Redskins – This is NOT to say that Campbell has all of a sudden “found it,” or that he’s worthy of a start after putting up 321 and a TD against what looks once again to be a porous New Orleans pass defense. But if you’re already hurting at the position and you don’t have any other options, Campbell could be worth a look at home against Detroit.
Donovan McNabb, Eagles – If not for a boneheaded play by DeSean Jackson, McNabb would have had two touchdowns. Last week you could have dismissed his monster game because it was the Rams. You can’t do that this week – yeah, the Cowboys look weak against the pass, but give McNabb the lion’s share of the credit. Not only was he strong through the air, he was extremely strong and at times impossible to take down in the pocket. And Jackson, his idiotic play not withstanding, is the deep threat McNabb hasn’t had since Terrell Owens. McNabb is another quarterback who is a must, must start every week.
Carson Palmer, Bengals – You really want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. You can say his Week 1 flop was an aberration, and more a case of the Baltimore defense being good as opposed to Palmer and the Bengal offense being that bad. And you can also consider throwing out Week 2, as Palmer had to deal with 60 mile an hour wins against Tennessee. But this is a bottom line business, and Palmer’s has been horrible – to put it mildly. This week the schedule makers still aren’t doing him any favors as the Bengals hit the road to play the Giants. Don’t trade him for pennies on the dollar just yet, but you almost have to bench him this week.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – Hasselbeck’s plight is bordering on tragic or comical, depending on your point of view. Billy McMullen wasn’t even in the league a week ago – now he’s Hasselbeck’s No. 1 receiver. That says all you need to know about Hasselbeck’s worth. Until some of his receivers get healthy, it’s not too much of a stretch to say Hasselbeck is almost as worthless from a fantasy perspective as Tarvaris Jackson.
Derek Anderson, Browns – You’ve got to be concerned with his production so far (only one touchdown through two games), even if he had to deal with the remnants of a hurricane in Week 2. And the schedule is cause for even further alarm – Baltimore, the Bengals, a bye, the Giants, Redskins, Jacksonville and the Ravens (again) await in the upcoming weeks.