Aaron Gleeman hit a walk-off pinch hit over at the Baseball Daily Dose, so I'll be taking his place here for a day. Like the Tyler Thigpen era, it promises to be short and inaccurate. Let's take a game-by-game look at the early games for Sunday. They are ranked in order of what I'd like to watch. .
1. 49ers @ Saints
Vernon Davis is never going to be Jason Witten: a tight end that produces each week. But the 49ers are trying to get him involved down the field, so I wouldn't give up hope. Especially this week. . No 49er receiver has more than 13 targets this season. If Bryant Johnson can't go, upgrade Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, and Arnaz Battle. . Lance Moore fever has spread to the Rotoworld home offices. Or at least my apartment. . This is a good week to use Pierre Thomas as a flex. With so many receivers out, Reggie Bush may get fewer carries and more snaps out wide. That's not a bad thing for him.
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2. Browns @ Bengals
Cincy has found a team they can protect Carson Palmer against! The Browns can't rush the passer, and Palmer nearly managed 300 yards against the Giants despite constant pressure. Palmer still forces the ball into spots, but fantasy owners should take that aggressiveness as a tradeoff. . Chad Ocho Cinco isn't separating from defenders, but at least his shoulder is improved. I made an office bet this week he'll still top 1,150 yards this season. Only 1,062 to go. . Chris Perry is a meat and potatoes runner, but Marvin Lewis loves him and will keep feeding him until he collapses. That makes him safe this week. That also makes Kenny Watson an undervalued asset. Kellen Winslow was targeted 13 times last week and caught two passes. . My thoughts on the Browns are in the rankings. Don't expect another 51-45 game, but both offenses should enjoy their best game of the season.
3. Packers @ Bucs
The Bucs pass defense has been uncharacteristically poor, giving up big plays to bad teams. That bodes well for Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings. . Ryan Grant says he's finally healthy and did show improved burst against the Cowboys in a quiet game. He's due to breakout. . Jordy Nelson will probably take over for James Jones as Green Bay's third receiver, but I can't imagine using him in fantasy leagues. . With Al Harris out, the Bucs will continue their pass happy ways. Antonio Bryant has ten more targets than any other Buc. Brian Griese remains a competent QB2 in fantasy, but a bad NFL starter by the looks of things. . Earnest Graham is averaging fewer than 14 touches per game. . Don't expect Jerramy Stevens to repeat his big day.
5. Vikings @ Titans
Kerry Collins, graybeard and all, takes shots down the field. And coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is getting people open. Since the Vikings' rush defense is so strong, Collins could throw a lot of passes in this game and put up decent stats. . Stay far away from LenDale White. The Vikings have people much fatter than him (hello, Pat Williams) to clog lanes up the middle. Chris Johnson's speed has a better chance of getting RB2 value, but he's a risky play. . 85% of Adrian Peterson is still better than most everyone else, even in a tough matchup. The Titans corners are very physical, which could lead to problems for lightweight receivers like Bernard Berrian.
6. Texans @ Jaguars
I believe in Matt Schaub, despite his early struggles. He eventually calmed down against Tennessee and played a solid game if his receivers didn't drop so many passes. . Steve Slaton was very impressive in the game. He wouldn't go down at first contact and wasn't afraid to go inside. Slaton is not built like a third-down back. Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme opened up some nice holes for him too. Look for them to be bigger this week. He's a solid RB2. . This is David Garrard's easiest matchup this season by far. Houston's secondary has problems, especially if Fred Bennett misses the game. Matt Jones has turned his career around with some steady outings and is due for a breakout game.
7. Cardinals @ Jets
After all the off-season spending, the Jets offensive line looks better. But not that much better. Arizona's defense is improved and could give New York problems. . Thomas Jones is on pace for only 261 carries, although that's probably because the team has trailed so often the last two weeks. . I've largely dismissed Chansi Stuckey to this point, but he has only two fewer targets than Laveranues Coles thus far. . Is there a better "Big three" at quarterback and wideout right now than Warner/Boldin/Fitzgerald? There is still potential for their stats to rise because Warner has thrown ten fewer passes per start this year.
8. Broncos @ Chiefs
One amazing part of Jay Cutler's season is how much he can still improve. He can make silly decisions or lose his accuracy for a stretch, then save the day with eye-popping throws. If you asked NFL GMs who they would start a team with today, Cutler would get the most votes. If I drafted tomorrow, he'd be a top-two quarterback. . Eddie Royal has quieted down after his big Week 1, but stick with him in this matchup. . Damon Huard gives Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez owners plenty of hope in a good-looking matchup. Denver's overrated secondary has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to wideouts in the league. Dre Bly is off to a career-ending season. . This is the week to break out Selvin Young, who is averaging 6.9 yards-per-carry this season.
9. Falcons @ Panthers
Carolina had some long plays dialed up for Steve Smith last week, but they couldn't protect Jake Delhomme long enough to try them. That shouldn't be the case this week, although Atlanta's defense has looked surprisingly competent against an easy schedule. . Muhsin Muhammad and D. J. Hackett threaten to cancel each other out for fantasy purposes. The same goes for Dante Rosario and Jeff King. My rankings indicate this is a good week to gamble on Jonathan Stewart as a RB2. . The Falcons are one of the only teams I haven't watched a complete game of, so I don't have much to say about them. This will be test of Michael Turner and Roddy White's staying power against competent defenses. Expect a big step back.
More game previews coming on Pancake Blocks