Red Zone

NFL fantasy football week two starters and benchwarmers

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Associated Press

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Julio Jones, or to bench Blake Bortles and Taiwan Jones? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in week two of the 2015 season.


Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Chargers. His team won handily in Oakland last week, so Dalton wasn’t asked to do much in the second half. That should change on Sunday, and the Red Rifle is sure to turn his attention from Tyler Eifert to A.J. Green in a more wide-open attack. San Diego’s secondary gives up plenty of TD passes, so Dalton should have a fine outing in his home opener.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions at Vikings. The rookie’s stellar debut last weekend wasn’t as shocking as starter Joique Bell’s poor performance. We expected Abdullah to overtake Bell at some point this season, but not quite this quickly. Against the defense that just made Carlos Hyde the darling of fantasy football, Abdullah is a must-start.

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars vs. Dolphins. Let’s go with another rookie who got off to a solid, though not spectacular, start last week. What’s most significant is that Yeldon received the majority of the carries against the Panthers’ stingy defense, so look for a similar workload and better results against Miami’s more-generous run defenders.

John Brown, WR, Cardinals at Bears. Michael Floyd is still working his way back from his finger injury, giving the second-year speedster another opportunity to assert himself in Arizona’s passing game. Carson Palmer should continue to shine against Chicago’s weak secondary.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys at Eagles. He’s no Dez Bryant, nor is he Julio Jones. But Williams is capable of inflicting major damage on a Philly secondary that surrenders passing yards and TDs in big chunks. The third-year wideout should pickup more than his fair share of Bryant’s targets, and at least one long scoring play seems inevitable.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles; RBs Chris Ivory, Justin Forsett, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey, Joseph Randle, Lamar Miller, Alfred Morris, Jeremy Hill, Tevin Coleman; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, DeAndre Hopkins, Roddy White, Jordan Matthews, Vincent Jackson, Keenan Allen, Julian Edelman, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Golden Tate.


Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks at Packers. Marshawn Lynch’s mom isn’t the only one who thinks her son should be better deployed by the Seahawks. Despite a hefty 41 pass attempts against the Rams, Wilson had a mediocre fantasy performance in the opener – highlighted by six sacks. He’ll face another stiff test at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, so consider a safer option this weekend.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans at Panthers. Blue was expected to be the bell cow until Arian Foster (groin) returned; but instead, Houston rolled out a full-fledged running back by committee approach in the opener. This is a tough matchup already, but having to compete for touches with his own teammates spells trouble for Blue.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers vs. 49ers. Williams looked surprisingly spry in the season kickoff, though he failed to reach the end zone. San Francisco effectively shut down a rusty Adrian Peterson on Monday night and should have less trouble keeping the 32-year-old Williams in check on Sunday.

Torrey Smith, WR, 49ers at Steelers. It’s not entirely clear that Colin Kaepernick has been introduced to Smith yet. With just one 11-yard reception on three targets, the “prized” offseason acquisition was virtually invisible in the opener. Despite the favorable matchup, Smith should be nowhere near your starting lineup until he and his quarterback recognize each other.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins vs. Rams. Garcon was Kirk Cousins’ most-targeted wideout in the opener following DeSean Jackson’s exit, and that should continue. What is also likely to continue is Cousins’ struggles, particularly against a legit Rams defense. The Redskins should lean heavily on Alfred Morris in this tough matchup.

More thumbs down: QBs Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater, Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel; RBs Devonta Freeman, Todd Gurley, Rashad Jennings, Dion Lewis, Frank Gore, Latavius Murray, David Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, Melvin Gordon, Ryan Mathews; WRs Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Travis Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Stevie Johnson, Markus Wheaton, Amari Cooper, Andre Johnson, Kendall Wright, Eric Decker, Danny Amendola.


Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals at Bears. I have serious reservations about CJ.6K’s season-long prospects behind Arizona’s line — especially since Andre Ellington (knee) isn’t expected to miss too long. But Johnson will be the workhorse against the vulnerable Chicago run defense, and Palmer will put the former fantasy superstar in good position to rack up a rushing score or two on Sunday.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Tom Brady against the vaunted Bills defense. Sure, they made Andrew Luck look average in Week 1, but Brady has a stellar track record against this secondary and nobody can cover Rob Gronkowski. Enjoy the ride if you have either superstar on your roster.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).