Ten most intriguing players of Week Two

Posted Sept. 15, 2010 @ 5:09 p.m.
Posted By Pat Fitzmaurice

1. Arian Foster — Only O.J. Simpson had more rushing yards in a season opener than the 231 yards Foster churned out against the Colts last week. Foster also scored three TDs. Are we witnessing the emergence of an elite running back, or is the Indianapolis run defense just that bad? We'll learn more this weekend when the Texans go on the road to face the Redskins, who did a reasonably good job of keeping the Dallas running game in check last week.

2. Michael Crabtree — Uh-oh. Is Crabtree, who was still a rookie holdout at this time a year ago, on his way to being stamped as a colossal bust, or was his two-catch, 12-yard performance against Seattle last week a mere hiccup? With his lengthy holdout last year and his well-publicized practice spat with Vernon Davis not long ago, Crabtree is developing a reputation for selfishness. I've suggested in the past that Crabtree is a possession receiver falsely advertised as a playmaker, but at this point, his fantasy owners would probably be willing to settle for Crabtree emerging as a credible possession guy. A Monday-night home game against the Saints will put Crabtree under the national microscope, and the Saints' fine starting cornerbacks, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, are blocking the road to redemption.

3. Brandon Jackson — Meet the first waiver-wire sensation of the 2010 fantasy season. The Packers have placed Ryan Grant on IR with an ankle injury, leaving Jackson as their primary tailback … unless, of course, Green Bay swings a deal for, say, Marshawn Lynch, or some other running back from The Island of Misfit Toys. Jackson has always been an able blocker and pass catcher, but he appears to have improved as a runner over the last calendar year. I'm anxious to see how Jackson fares as a lead back, and whether he'll carry the load on his own or get help from FB John Kuhn (who ran for a TD last week) and others. Jackson debuts as a starter at home against the Bills, who'll be without LB Paul Posluszny, perhaps their best run defender.

4. Randy Moss — Tom Brady just got paid. Wes Welker has been getting adulation from all angles. Where does that leave poor Randy? The pouty pass catcher held a pity party for himself Sunday after his team's easy victory over the Bengals, telling a media throng that this will be his final season with the Patriots. Moss softened his stance ever so slightly a day or two later, but the message was clear: This often-unhappy superstar is again unhappy. Moss has played in the NFL for 13 years, and the two worst seasons of his career came in his final seasons with his former teams. In 2004, he had 13 TD catches in 13 games with the Vikings, but he had only 49 catches for 767 yards — easily his worst catch and yardage rates of any of his seasons in Minnesota. In 13 games for the Raiders in 2006, he had 42 catches for 553 yards and three TDs. If this is indeed his last season in New England, don't expect Moss to produce banner numbers. Oh, and by the way, Moss is holding a first-class ticket to Revis Island, as the Pats visit the Jets this weekend.

5. Eli Manning — Week One was a mixed bag for the youngest Manning brother, who threw three TD passes (all to Hakeem Nicks) and three interceptions in a win over the Panthers. Now, Eli visits Indianapolis for a Sunday-night matchup against big brother Peyton. But how much throwing will Eli do? After what Arian Foster did to the Colts last week, the Giants might opt to let Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs hammer away at Indy's marshmallow run defense.

6. Calvin Johnson — Megatron owners, you got hosed last week. Johnson was rule-booked out of a 25-yard TD catch that almost certainly would have given the Lions a Week One road win over the Bears. Aside from the controversial non-catch, 'Tron was fairly quiet, with four catches for 45 yards. With Matthew Stafford on the shelf for a while with a shoulder injury, will Johnson be similarly quiet this week against the Eagles and in the weeks to come, or will he click with backup QB Shaun Hill?

7. Michael Vick — As of Wednesday afternoon, Eagles head coach Andy Reid had not ruled out the possibility of Kevin Kolb starting for the Eagles in Week Two, but with Kolb failing a concussion test on Wednesday, the chances of Kolb returning to the lineup this soon seem remote at best. And then there's the not-irrelevant fact that Vick dramatically outperformed Kolb in a Week One loss to the Packers, nearly bringing the Eagles all the way back from a 17-point deficit. If Vick indeed makes the start when the Eagles visit Detroit this weekend and plays well — not exactly a far-fetched scenario, since he'll be facing a Lions defense that just gave up 463 yards to the Bears — Andy Reid may have a full-blown QB controversy on his hands, and it's even possible that the normally demure fan base in Philadelphia will have opinions on the matter.

8. Darren McFadden — About the only silver-and-black lining for Raiders fans in last week's blowout loss to the Titans was the performance of McFadden, who totaled 150 combined yards and caught a late TD pass that prevented an ugly loss from being even uglier. It remains unclear how the workload will be divided once Michael Bush returns from a broken thumb, and we don't know when Bush will return to action. But even if Bush is back this week, McFadden looks like a good fantasy play this week, since he has a lip-smacking matchup against the Rams in Oakland.

9. Percy Harvin — Well-publicized problem for the Vikings: Harvin suffers from debilitating migraine headaches. Less-publicized problem for the Vikings: Brett Favre suffers from Harvin's debilitating route running. In the first game of the new season, we saw that Sidney Rice's hip injury is going to be a major issue for the Vikings, who fell to the Saints, 14-9. Minnesota wide receivers had a combined four catches for 56 yards, with none of the wideouts catching more than one pass. Harvin had one catch for 12 yards. It's likely he'll do better in the Vikes' home opener against the Dolphins this weekend, but the notion that Harvin will pick up a great deal of the slack in Rice's absence is misguided. Harvin just isn't a go-to receiver, mainly because he runs such lousy routes. He needs to play with receivers who can occupy a defense's attention while he sneaks into open spaces, and with Rice out, Minnesota has no such receivers.

10. Jamaal Charles — On his second carry of the season, Charles sprinted 56 yards for a TD. That was the good news for his fantasy owners, many of whom won games on that play. The bad news is that Charles split carries evenly with Thomas Jones. Charles ran 11 times for 92 yards. Jones ran 11 times for 39 yards. It was obvious in the Chiefs' Monday-night win over the Chargers that Charles is a more effective, more explosive runner than Jones, just as it was obvious during the preseason. Unfortunately for Charles owners (myself included), Chiefs head coach Todd Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis are two of the few people who watch the Chiefs on a regular basis and have been unable to identify Charles as the better player. Perhaps Haley and Weis will have their "eureka" moment this weekend when the Chiefs visit the Browns.


Watch for "Fitz's Four-Course Fantasy Feast" later this week.