NFL Power Rankings Week 2

What an amazing weekend. The 49ers get a win on the road, the Oregon Ducks get a W, Brett Tomko throws a shutout for the A’s, Tom Brady resumes his place as an NFL God, and my fantasy football teams go 3-0. Could life get any better? I submit that it cannot.

So now that week 1 is over, and every team has taken the field, there is some actual in-season analysis to go along with preseason projection. Mind you, there is a lot of football left to be played, as one game doesn’t make or break a season. As much as a douche-nozzle as he is, I don’t think Jay Cutler is that bad or the Seahawks are that good.

But let’s get it on. On to the rankings (you can see my week one rankings here and here):

32 (Last week 32) – Bengals – Their top pick breaks his foot in his first day of practice; not good. They are shut out in the first three quarters by a team who gave up 28 points per game last season; bad. Carson Palmer, who’s arm is toasted more than Michael Richard’s comedy career, managed to lead the Bengals to a go-ahead touchdown with 0:38 seconds left; promising. But then on a play straight out of NFL films, the Bengals clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, giving up a back-breaking 87-yard touchdown to a white wide receiver. Ouch.

Fantasy update: Cedric Benson – YPC wasn’t good but finished with over 100 total yards and still has a firm grip on the starting job.

31 (31) – 0-1 – Lions – What do ya know, it’s the same old Lions. The running game sucks, the defense sucks, and the hotshot rookie throws for three INTs.  On the bright side, Stafford was only sacked once. Too bad moral victories in the NFL are worth just as much as a poopy-flavored lollipop.

Fantasy update: Calvin Johnson – Despite an inexperienced passer and a non-existent running game, Megatron still got his. He numbers will go up as Stafford improves.

Big weekend for the best white wide receiver in the AFC West. Man, look how gritty he is!

Big weekend for the best white wide receiver in the AFC West. Man, look how gritty he is!

30 (30) – 0-1 – Rams – When you give up more yards in penalties than you gain on the ground, you’re in for a long day. Clearly, Bulger and Jackson can’t do it by themselves. This team is going nowhere; time for the Rams to start looking for a QB of the future.

Fantasy update: James Laurinaitis – If you play in an individual defensive player league, pick this guy up. He is a tackling machine and their only true playmaker on defense.

29 (29) – 0-1 – Browns – Is it just me or does it seem like every single huge game by a running back is against Cleveland. If Willis McGahee played in the AFC North, the Browns run defense could single-handedly revive his career. Oh wait, he already is. Nevermind.

Fantasy update: Braylon Edwards – Just a shove out of bounds away from being fantasy relevant. He will continue to tantalize next week.

28 (27) – 0-1 – Chiefs – Gave up 501 yards of offense to the perennial offensive juggernaut Baltimore Ravens. In other news, Larry Johnson is still awful.

Fantasy update: Larry Johnson – Stay. Away.

27 (26) – 0-1 – Buccaneers – Offense impressed, led by has-been’s Byron Leftwich and Cadillac Williams. Defense torched, by Tony Romo and Roy Williams. Don’t believe in the offense, but I believe in the defense. At least I believe in something.

Fantasy update: Kellen Winslow – Good day for Miami tight ends, well at least two of them. You can do better than 8 yards, Greg Olsen.

26 (28) – 0-1 – Raiders – The running game is for real and the defense looked surprisingly good, holding the Chargers to under 100 yards rushing. But in typical Raider fashion, they choked down the stretch. How has Al Davis not had a heart attack yet?

Fantasy update: Zach Miller – Say hello to Zach Miller, the Raiders only 1,000 yard receiver this season.

25 (16) – 0-1 – Panthers – To put it positively, Jake Delhomme answered a lot of questions about his ability to still play quarterback in the NFL. Unfortunately, the answers weren’t pretty; kind of like watching Rick Fox or 90210’s Jennie Garth on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader this month. Makes you wonder why Carolina didn’t take a flier on Jeff Garcia.

Fantasy update: Jake Delhomme – If he was your sleeper backup QB, don’t kid yourself. You can stick a fork in Jake, he’s done.

24 (23) – 0-1 – Jaguars – Yeah, they only lost by two points at Indy, but man did their offense look pathetic. Wonder if Matt Jones gave David Garrard a discount on the good stuff.

Fantasy update: Maurice Jones-Drew – If Garrard can’t get it together, this could turn into a Steven Jackson-like situation.

23 (22) – 0-1 – Dolphins – Aside from the fact that I just don’t think they are any good, Miami goes from a .465 SOS last year, to the most difficult schedule in the league this year, at .594. I don’t see one game where I can guarantee a Dolphin victory.

Fantasy update: Devon Bess – Had over 550 yards in his rookie season, and has a nice first week grabbing 7 catches. Sleeper

22 (25) – 1-0 – Jets – Mark Sanchez looked good on Sunday. Do it two weeks in a row and then I might start to believe it. Until then, I’m not buying.

Fantasy update: Dustin Keller – He could be someone to keep an eye on. Sanchez might have found a favorite target in his super-athletic tight end.

21 (20) – 1-0 – Broncos – What an inspiring play for white people all around the world.

Fantasy update: Correll Buckhalter – Took advantage of Moreno’s poor day and had a nice 10 touches for 57 yards. Workload may increase.

20 (19) – 0-1- Texans – This is just one of those games where you forget about and move on. Kind of like that night where you had a few too many drinks and hooked up with a girl so ugly your friends don’t even say anything.

Fantasy update: Matt Schaub – I wouldn’t worry about him unless he does it again. Just a really, really bad day for the Texans.

19 (21) – 0-1 – Bills – God is a Patriots fan.

Fantasy update: Fred Jackson – Playing for his future workload. Motivation does crazy things to people.

18 (18) – 0-1 – Redskins – Game really wasn’t as close as the scoreboard suggests, as Campbell hooked up with Cooley for a late TD pass in garbage time. Should lower them just because they made Eli look good.

Fantasy update: Chris Cooley – Even though his TD was in garbage time, I like him as a solid tight end  you can count on week in and week out.

17 (24) – 1-0 – Seahawks – Played against the worst team in the NFC in the one stadium with a true home field advantage. We’ll learn a lot more when they travel to San Francisco next week.

Fantasy update: Julius Jones – Looks like Jones might have found a home in Seattle. Not too worried about Edge.

16 (11) – 0-1 – Bears – ESPN couldn’t have said it better in their power rankings, “The loss to Green Bay was tough. The loss of Brian Urlacher for the season was devastating.”

Fantasy update: Matt Forte – Never really bought into him as a top-5 pick. Be happy if he duplicates his stats from ’08.

You never know what will happen when Shaun Hill drops back for a pass, but hey, that's part of the fun!

You never know what will happen when Shaun Hill drops back for a pass, but hey, that's part of the fun!

15 (17) – 1-0 – 49ers – After getting swept by the Cards in three of the past four years, getting a win in Arizona is a great start for Mike Singletary. San Francisco certainly wasn’t flashy, but they controlled the clock (31:47 TOP) while Shaun Hill and defense stepped up when they were needed.

Fantasy update: Shaun Hill – Will never sell an instructional video on the 7-step drop, but he gets it done. Solid #2 quarterback.

14 (12) – 0-1 – Cardinals – Still have too much firepower to not be competitive in the NFC West. Boldin wasn’t at full-strength and they were without Steve Breaston. But even though Tim Hightower had 12 receptions for 121 yards, Arizona needs to improve the ground  game.

Fantasy update: Tim Hightower – 49ers were leaving the flat open all day. Hightower didn’t just suddenly become Marshall Faulk.

13 (15) – 1-0 – Packers – Made a $20 bet with Alon that the Vikings would finish with more wins than the Packers. You can now add Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings to my anti-man crush list.

Fantasy update: Aaron Rodgers – With that being said, I like Rodgers much better than Favre this season.

12 (14) – 1-0 – Saints – Is there anything more fun to watch than Drew Brees playing the Lions? Yes, actually. Watching Drew Brees play the Lions when you have him on two of your three fantasy teams. Dear diary: jackpot.

Fantasy update: Jeremy Shockey – Has Drew Brees found a new red zone target?

11 (9) – 1-0 – Giants – Along with Miami tight ends, I have an unhealthy obsession with Michigan receivers. My hate for Eli Manning was assuaged by the fact Mario Manningham made his first career touchdown.

Fantasy update: Mario Manningham – Is 800 yards and 6 TD’s out of the question?

10 (10) – 1-0 – Cowboys – Who needs T.O.? Romo, Barber, Williams and Witten provide plenty of weapons for Dallas’s potent offense. The defense, though, is a little frightening.

Fantasy update: Tony Romo – Pretty solidly locked in as the #3 QB right now, I’d say.

9 (5) – 0-1 – Titans – Could you really have asked for more going into the defending champion’s house on opening night? Yea, a win would have been nice. (Mandatory argument for a change in the playoff system).

Fantasy update: Kerry Collins – How is he still alive, let alone a decent quarterback in the NFL? Isn’t he like 40, and an alcoholic?

8 (8) – 1-0 – Falcons – All this game proved to me was that Miami is not good. I still need to see more from Matt Ryan to have Atlanta as a legitimate NFC title contender.

Fantasy update:  Michael Turner – I apologize if you bought into the Matthew Berry hype.

7 (13) – 1-0 – Ravens – Joe Flacco is really good. (I’m already at 1,700 words, give me a break).

Fantasy update: Joe Flacco – I have no problem with starting Flacco against a mediocre defense.

6 (3) – 1-0 – Chargers – I think the Raiders are better than what San Diego expected, but what worries me are the injuries to the O-line. The absence of Nick Hardwick and Marcus McNeil could turn LT into Sean Alexander.

Fantasy update: Antonio Gates – Is there a more consistent player in fantasy?

5 (6) – 1-0 – Colts – The Jags always give Indy a good game. Defense was impressive without Bob Sanders, can they keep it up?

Fantasy update: Reggie Wayne – Yeah, he’s pretty good.

4 (7) – 1-0 – Eagles – The McNabb injury hurts, but I love Garcia as an insurance policy. The scheduling Gods are watching over Philly; after playing the Saints in week 2, they’re at home against the Chiefs, a bye, at home against the Bucs and then at Oakland. Even a convicted animal killer could win two of those games.

I'm not 100% sure God is a Pats fan, but I know this guy is.

I'm not 100% sure God is a Pats fan, but I know this guy is.

Fantasy update: Defense/ST – Forced 7 turnovers. Nuff said?

3 (4) – 1-0 – Vikings – I said it: Adrian Peterson for MVP.

Fantasy update: Bernard Berrian – Don’t worry, the  chemistry will come.

2 (2) – 1-0 – Steelers – Has there ever been a defending Super Bowl champ that gets less love than the Steelers?

Fantasy update: Santonio Holmes – Finally emerging as the Steelers #1 WR.

1 (1) – 1-0 – Patriots – It’s so true I’m going to say it again: God is a Patriots fan.

Fantasy update: Pats RB’s – Stay away, you don’t want any of them.

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NFL Power Rankings

Time for the Sports Dude to do some actual analysis. With the NFL season right around the corner, it’s time for everybody’s favorite: the Power Rankings. With pre-season hope still riding high for every team, except possibly the Raiders and the Bengals, one could make the case for any team to top the list, but this is just one simple blogger’s point of a view (albeit a knowledgeable, yet overly-confident college student).

chadAs always, there’s the chance these rankings could very well end up being completely meaningless, but I’m just going to disregard that because at least for right now, I’m 100% not wrong.

Along with my prediction for each team, you’ll get one fantasy player who will exceed expectations (completely free of charge!) How about them apples?

32 – Bengals – What do you get when you put together an already bad NFL team, a publicity stunt appearance on “Hard Knocks,” and a player who legally changed his name to a grammatically incorrect spelling of his jersey number in Spanish? Answer: an even worse NFL team. I pity Bengals fans this season.

Prediction: 3-13.

Fantasy player to watch: Cedric Benson – After never living up to expectations in Chicago, the former number four overall pick quietly had a nice run as the starter last year; could flourish in full-time gig.

31 – Lions – I like what Jim Schwartz brings to the Lions and I guarantee that they will win more games this year than they did last year, although I don’t think it will be by much. Matthew Stafford will be a good NFL quarterback, but not this year. Rookie quarterbacks are almost never successful, especially when they are thrown into bad situations.

Prediction: 3-13.

Fantasy player to watch: Brandon Pettigrew – With Calvin Johnson sure to draw double and triple teams, look for Stafford to use Pettigrew as his security blanket a lot this season.

30 – Rams – Marc Bulger has been awful the past two years, and that was when he had Torry Holt as a go-to receiver. Who is he going to throw to now, Randy McMichael?

Prediction: 4-12.

Fantasy player to watch: Steven Jackson – Is there a single player more important to his team’s offense than him this year? Jackson will get plenty of touches, health is the key.

29 – Browns – Will finally hand starting gig to Brady Quinn. Unfortunately, that means they will have to take their lumps as Quinn learns on the job. I do like what Mangini will bring to the defense, but it’ll take him more than one year to turn things around.

Prediction: 4-12.

Fantasy player to watch: Braylon Edwards – Let’s just say I was visibly angry when my buddy Alon grabbed him right one spot ahead of me in the draft. Could be a top-5 receiver this year at a 6th round value.

28 – Raiders – Until Al Davis goes away, the Raiders will continue dwell in mediocrity (or worse), but there are some exciting pieces to work with. Darren McFadden, Justin Fargess and Michael Bush form a legitimate three-headed monster of a backfield that will take pressure off of developing quarterback JaMarcus Russell, but until someone steps up to help All-Pro CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the sieve-like run defense will be their undoing.

Prediction: 5-11.

sp_raiders_bengals_f04Fantasy player to watch: Darren McFadden – As talented as Adrian Peterson, just needs the help in the trenches; could emerge as a fantasy stud this year. Keep an eye on Zach Miller as well.

27 – Chiefs – Not sold on Matt Cassel outside of New England. When you trade Randy Moss, Wes Welker and a top-5 O-line for Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley and the rotting corpse of Larry Johnson, you unquestionably take a step back. Heck, give me Moss and Welker and I could put up 3,000 yards.

Prediction: 5-11

Fantasy player to watch: Dwayne Bowe – A near lock for 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns. Not sexy, but he will produce.

26 – Buccaneers – Let me get this straight, Byron Leftwich is the starting quarterback? Really? This is the same team that stockpiled like five quarterbacks two years ago. What happened?  Washed up quarterback, new offensive scheme and a defensive-minded head coach. Without even knowing the number, I’ll take the under on every single of their games this season.

Prediction: 6-10

Fantasy player to watch: Kellen Winslow Jr – Over 1,100 yards in 2007 and then crashed with the rest of the Browns in ’08. I feel a major comeback with the change of scenery this season.

25 – Jets – They have the same issue as the Lions: starting a rookie QB. Difference is, Mark Sanchez only had one full season under center in college. Is he talented? Yea, no doubt. Would Kellen Clemens be any better? Probably not. But remember, there have only been three quarterbacks to lead their team to at least seven wins in their rookie season: Dan Marino, Kerry Collins and Matt Ryan (as multiple readers have pointed out, Big Ben and Joe Flacco have done so as well, my mistake).

Prediction: 6-10

Fantasy player to watch: Defense/ST – Even though Pod Vader from the Fantasy Focus on ESPN isn’t a fan, I think defensive mastermind Rex Ryan will implement a run-first scheme that will keep the defense rested and off the field, and the scoring low.

24 – Seahawks – Quickly becoming a media darling in the putrid NFC West. I wish former-Oregon Duck Max Unger all the best, but I just don’t see it.

Prediction: 6-10

Fantasy player to watch: Matt Hasselbeck – With his receivers healthy again, I could see the gritty Hasselbeck re-emerge as a premier QB in the NFC.

23 – Jaguars – Unfortunately they play in the toughest division in football, and even more unfortunately, three of their first four games are against the AFC South. The other game? The NFC champions Arizona Cardinals. Quite possibly could start the year 0-4.

Prediction 6-10

Fatntasy player to watch: Torry Holt – Had 8 straight 1,000 yard season before the Rams fell apart last year. May be getting older, but the crafty veteran will be the favorite target of surprisingly effective David Garrard.

22 – Dolphins – They had a magical Cinderella season last year, but with the inevitable year-after curse and an off-season for teams to figure out the Wildcat, the Dolphins will come crashing back to earth. Of course, with Parcell’s running the ship, there’s always a chance Miami will jump the Bills and have a shot at the Wild Card come December.

Prediction: 7-9

Fantasy player to watch: Anthony Fasano – Fasano was a favorite red-zone target of Chad Pennington last season, totally seven touchdowns. Fasano should see an increased workload between the 20’s this year as well.

Come back tomorrow for teams 21 through 11.

If you have a disagreement with any of my rankings, please feel free to make your argument in the comments!