QB: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (@ Chicago)
Last week, the Chicago Bears allowed Aaron Rodgers to earn 22 fantasy points without Jordy Nelson and with Randall Cobb not playing at 100%. The defense of the Bears is one we’re not accustomed to seeing. They’re youthful, inexperienced, and at times, a bit shaky. When you watched them last week against the Pack, they looked a bit lost during some points of the game, and they allowed James Jones, a guy who had been on the active roster for about a week, to score two touchdowns.
When the Cardinals lineup against the Bears this week, they’ll certainly be feeling confident, coming off a comfortable 12 point win against the New Orleans Saints. Palmer, second among QBs in fantasy points last week, has been exceptional for the Cardinals when he’s been healthy. At 35, the former Heisman winner still puts up dazzling numbers, including his three touchdown, zero interception performance last week. With weapons like John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and company spreading the field, I predict Palmer to put up similar numbers to last week.
RB: Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (@ NY Giants)
In my opinion, Tevin Coleman was the best running back in this year’s draft class. How many people in the history of Indiana football have rushed for 2,000 yards? One, and it’s Coleman. His success was of course overshadowed by Melvin Gordon’s ridiculous display last season, but Coleman’s is far more impressive considering Wisconsin churns out offensive lineman like it’s a hobby.
Last week, Coleman was very impressive against the Eagles, rushing for 80 yards. Given the fact that he was able to establish himself in such a strong fashion last week, look for Tevin to be toting the rock a little more this week. Given that the Cowboys racked up 80 rushing yards in an offensive shootout without a feature back, you have to think Coleman will be able to punch one in against a relatively weak Giants rush defense.
WR: Steve Smith, Sr., Baltimore Ravens (@ Oakland)
Last week was a very quiet week for Ravens WR Steve Smith, Sr., as he was only able to haul in two catches for 13 yards. How do 3.3 fantasy points one week turn straight into a great matchup the next? Simply put…
Andy Dalton tore up the Raiders’ pass defense last week, throwing two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Even though Smith, Sr. only brought in two receptions last week, Joe Flacco did target him seven times. Look for that ratio of catches to targets to improve this week for the always-dangerous Smith. It’s hard to rule out a guy with eight seasons of 1,000 receiving yards or more.
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ New Orleans)
It’s pretty obvious that Jameis Winston was outgunned last week. He looked uncomfortable, irritable, and ill prepared against a Titans team that really struggled last season. Despite that, one thing we know about rookie QBs is that they tend to improve week-to-week. Given that Seferian-Jenkins is a 6’6” target, you have to think he can only help Jameis do just that.
Last week, Seferian-Jenkins caught both of Winston’s touchdown strikes, causing him to be one of the talks of the league last week. The Saints weren’t able to generate much of a pass rush against the Cardinals (part of the reason Carson Palmer found his way on to this list), and if that’s the case again this week, Winston will be able to find time to find his massive target in his tight end.
D/ST: Miami Dolphins (@ Jacksonville)
If week-by-week you consistently see the defense that’s going against Jacksonville in this spot, don’t be surprised. In their home opener last week, the Jags only put nine points up on the board against the Panthers. They also had the second worst performance of any team in the NFL last week, accumulating only 265 yards of total offense.
This week, the defensive line of the Dolphins is going to have an absolute field day. The pressure up the middle of Ndamukong Suh coupled with the exterior pass rush of Cameron Wake spells major trouble for the Jaguars and Blake Bortles. Given that intense pressure he’ll be facing, I’d be surprised if Bortles didn’t throw at least one pick this week.
K: Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (@ Minnesota)
Prater did not attempt a field goal last week in the Lions’ loss to the Chargers, but he was 4/4 on extra points. This week is an entirely different animal for Detroit, as they’ll head to Minneapolis to face their division rivals, the Vikings. While last week didn’t provide Prater the opportunity to line up for a field goal, divisional matchups in the NFC North always seem to be a more grind-it-out style of football.
In the last two seasons, Prater has registered an incredibly high level of efficiency, converting on almost 89% of his field goal attempts, missing only one field goal in 2013. I have no doubt that Matt Stafford and company will move the ball against this mediocre Vikings D, giving Prater the opportunity to cap off some drives this week.