This week we focus more on second-tier players, the ones we struggle to fill in at our flex positions or final receiver slot. Two weeks does give us the beginning of a trend, so let's see what this week offers.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
QB Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Packers
Cutler has mixed history against the Packers after his trade to the Bears. In four games vs. Green Bay as a Bear, he's averaging 219 yards, one touchdown and 2.3 interceptions. The Packers have his number. However, there's no denying the Packers' defense is struggling, having allowed opposing quarterbacks 425 yards and two touchdowns per game the last two weeks. Cutler may be able to exploit their secondary.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills vs. Patriots
What can you say about Fitzpatrick outside the fact he's as hot as they come and one of the league's bigger surprises. As a starter, last season he had a per-game average of 249 yards, one touchdown and 2.5 interceptions. The interceptions are brutal, but he knows this offense better in his second season. So far this season he's averaging 236 yards with 3.5 touchdowns and only 0.5 interceptions per game. The Patriots are struggling against the pass, allowing 397 yards and two touchdowns with 1.5 interceptions per game this season. This is a matchup you want to take advantage of.
RB Mike Tolbert, Chargers vs. Chiefs
Tolbert was impressive in Week One but fell back to earth in Week Two. He's struggling to run, averaging 23 yards and 0.5 touchdowns this season. However, he's lived up to the rep of being the team's receiving back, averaging nine targets for 8.5 receptions, 66 yards and one touchdown per game. We know the Chiefs at 0-2 are a wreck. They're allowing opposing running backs to rush for 134 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game with four receptions for 38 yards and 0.5 touchdowns receiving. Tolbert should be able to take advantage of a reeling Chiefs team.
RB Fred Jackson, Bills vs. Patriots
Jackson finally has the starting job, and after two solid weeks in which he has averaged 115 yards with one rushing touchdown, he's facing a Patriots defense that can't stop opposing offenses. They're allowing opposing backs only 63 rushing yards and 0.5 rush touchdowns per game but also 96 receiving yards with 0.5 touchdowns per game by the RBs. Jackson's a pass-catching back who should be able to take advantage of the Patriots' weakness.
WR Jerome Simpson, Bengals vs. 49ers
Simpson has seen nine targets each game the last two weeks and exploded last week for 136 yards against the Broncos. The yardage may be a fluke; his targets are not. The 49ers are allowing opposing wide receivers 213 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game, making Simpson a solid bet to take advantage of the Niners' secondary.
WR Doug Baldwin, Seahawks vs. Cardinals
Baldwin was shut down last week by a Steelers defense having something to prove. However, the Seahawks face the Cardinals this week, and they're one of the league's worst, allowing opposing wide receivers 211 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Against a soft 49ers defense in Week One, Baldwin saw six targets, converting them into four receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Because of the matchup, he makes a desperate injury fill-in if you're in a jam this week.
WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns vs. Dolphins
Last season Massaquoi had a good game against the Dolphins, seeing seven targets and converting them into four receptions for 81 yards. The Dolphins have had their own issues against opposing receivers this year, allowing 240 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. This game could turn Massaquoi's fortunes around for at least one week as he's been averaging 6.5 targets for three receptions for 61 yards. He'll have a chance to exploit the Dolphins and makes a solid flex or injury fill-in this week.
TE Fred Davis, Redskins at Cowboys
There is no question who the fantasy tight end to own is. Davis is averaging 6.5 targets, converting them into 5.5 receptions for 96 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. The Cowboys are allowing 75 yards and one touchdown to opposing tight ends per game. The way he's playing, combined with the matchup, makes him a No. 1 fantasy tight end.
TE Evan Moore, Browns vs. Dolphins
Moore makes a better play in basic touchdown-only leagues, but he's a red-zone target and has two touchdowns this year. Miami struggles against the TE position more than vs. wideouts, allowing 112 yards and 1.5 touchdowns to the position. Toss in 8.5 receptions per week as well, and Moore has a chance to finally better his overall numbers. He's averaging, in two games, 3.5 targets for two receptions, 26 yards and one touchdown. The matchup gives him an opportunity to post season-best numbers.
MATCHUPS TO AVOID
QB Jason Campbell, Raiders vs. Jets
In Week One, the Broncos held Campbell to only 105 yards and one touchdown, but he bounced back, taking the Bills to task for 323 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in another one rushing. So far this season he's averaging 2.5 TD passes per game. However, he's facing a Jets team that is not as dominant as many thought it would be but is still tough. The Jets are allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for 227 yards, one touchdown but 2.5 interceptions. Keep Campbell on your bench this week as this is not a matchup to exploit.
RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers vs. Jaguars
Williams has been a huge disappointment. He had been expected to drop a little bit this season, but averaging only nine attempts for 43 yards and no touchdowns is not the type of drop most had expected. That comes out to 2.5 yards per carry. He's not part of the receiving game, either, with five total receptions for 29 yards. The Jaguars may be a mess on offense, but on defense they're holding rushers to an average of 53 yards, 0.5 touchdowns rushing. It may be time to bench Williams as the matchup is not there.
WR Eric Decker, Broncos at Titans
Decker's been hot this season, averaging four receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. However, he's facing a Titans team that is still looking for consistency on offense but, defensively, is clamping down on opposing receivers this season, allowing them only 100 yards and no touchdowns per game. This is not the matchup you want for Decker. The Titans are tough.
WR Nate Burleson, Lions at Vikings
Burleson is just about at the point he's an every-week play. He's averaging seven targets and turning them into six receptions for 77 yards, though he has no touchdowns. The Vikings are losing, but it's not because of their defense. They're holding opposing receivers to 129 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. There may not be enough footballs to make it to him this week. He's been steady, but this matchup may be tough to overcome.
WR Mario Manningham, Giants at Eagles
Manningham has been a disappointment so far this year. Averaging seven targets, he's converting those into 3.5 receptions but for only 53 yards and no touchdowns. He's facing an Eagles defense allowing only 96 yards and 0.5 touchdowns to the position. His play and his opponent this week may prove to be too tough a matchup.
TE Jeff King, Cardinals at Seahawks
The Cardinals are a high-scoring team right now, and King, averaging two receptions for 49 yards and one touchdown, is beginning to get noticed by fantasy owners. However, he's the blocking tight end and he's facing a bad Seahawks team. However, they've done well against opposing tight ends, holding the position to 31 yards and no touchdowns. A cheap touchdown is always welcome, but exploiting the Seahawks for one may be difficult this week.
TE Owen Daniels, Texans at Saints
This is a tough bench, but the Saints are allowing only 29 yards and no touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Daniels has been a mild disappointment this year, seeing only 3.5 targets for two receptions, 19 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. Don't make the mistake of assuming greater value because it's Daniels. He's not seeing his numbers, and the Saints aren't allowing the position to score.