Combining Power Rankings, Start/Sit advice,* and game predictions, the Oracle is a Sunday morning smorgasbord out of the spread formation.* The variety of fantasy formats means conventional start/sit columns won’t address your dilemma. Shallow League Bench lets you know which star to keep in reserve in 10-team leagues. Deep League Start provides the deep sleeper for 14-team leagues (or leagues like the one I run that require you to start four wide receivers).
No. 18 Bucs 17 at No. 12 Cowboys 27
This is a referendum game on the Dez Bryant fantasy hype. Look for Miles Austin to score twice and Dallas coaches to suggest he benefited from coverage rolled to Bryant. Even in a loss, I like the talent of Doug Martin to outshine the overhyped DeMarco Murray in his one.
Deep League Start: Kevin Ogletree. The Dallas No. 3 receiver wasn’t much of an option against the swarming Seahawks defense, but the matchup with Tampa is very similar to the one he blew up against in Week 1.
No. 31 Jags 20 at No. 20 Colts 38
This game has the potential to be a lot more exciting than most think. Blaine Gabbert should find his rhythm with Justin Blackmon against the Colts’ atrocious secondary. Overshadowed by RG3, Andrew Luck is off to a spectacular start in his own right. With Austin Collie joining the fray, it may be time to start generating fun nicknames for the Colts offense.
Shallow League Bench: Reggie Wayne. As was the case last week against Minnesota, there’s a chance the Colts get ahead and don’t need to pass the ball. Collie was the clear No. 1 in this offense before suffering his most recent concussion and could quickly resume that role.
Deep League Start: Donald Brown. Brown is off the radar after two quiet weeks but has played well. He could see a much heavier touch load if Indy takes an early lead.
No. 22 Bills 41 at No. 32 Browns 27
The Browns defense has been shredded so far and will be helpless again this week without Joe Haden. Buffalo added exciting defensive talent in the offseason, but they’re still more of a gambling, high risk unit.
Shallow League Bench: Trent Richardson. Cerberus looked amazing against Cincy, but he’s going to be very inconsistent going forward. A low end RB2, Richardson could easily be your third best RB.
Deep League Start: Donald Jones. Jones is on the wire in most leagues but could be a hot pickup after Buffalo slaughters the Browns.
No. 23 Jets 6 at No. 29 Dolphins 12
I like the lower rated Dolphins to win an old school, defensive slugfest. Miami can hold their own in the trenches and already possess the superior quarterback.
Shallow League Bench: Reggie Bush. Rex Ryan’s defense is a completely different monster than the one Bush shredded a week ago.
No. 26 Chiefs 41 at No. 28 Saints 38
Contrary to what you hear, the Chiefs are the more talented squad in this one. In fact, widespread organizational dysfunction makes these two squads shoe-ins to continue underperforming their talent. Saints savior Drew Brees hasn’t received the appropriate scrutiny for two terrible games.
Deep League Start: Matt Cassel. Fantasy’s current No. 5 quarterback is starting in a lot of my lineups. The Saints defense is a train wreck, and K.C. will need a ton of passing yards to stay competitive. Even if my game theory is wrong, Cassel projects for a bunch of garbage time yards.
No. 19 Bengals 27 at No. 14 Racial Slurs 31
Both defenses have already been ravaged by injuries. Robert Griffin III continues his assault on the NFL and Josh Morgan avoids the killer penalty this week on their game winning drive. A.J. Green catches multiple touchdowns from Andy Dalton in the loss.
Shallow League Bench: BenJarvus Green-Ellis. You’ve got to have two better backs. Right?
Deep League Start: Leonard Hankerson. I was concerned that Hankerson only got 14 routes last week, but media reports suggest he will play Garcon’s role this Sunday. Banana Stand readers know Hankerson is a big time athlete.
No. 17 Rams 12 at No. 15 Bears 20
Sam Bradford has looked tremendous so far, but the Bears offer a different test than any he’s faced so far. All Rams runners should be on your bench. Jay Cutler embarrassed himself on the big stage last Thursday night. He’ll come out with something to prove, but he may play better when half asleep.
Shallow League Bench: Brandon Marshall. You didn’t draft Marshall just to bench him after a bad game, but in 2-WR leagues there are a lot of guys who have better matchups than Cortland Finnegan. If Finnegan can handle Andre1500, he can handle Marshall.
Deep League Start: Alshon Jeffery. If St. Louis schemes to take Marshall out of the game, Jeffery steps into the spotlight. Janoris Jenkins gave up a long touchdown last week and could be victimized again here.
No. 1 49ers 27 at No. 25 Vikings 10
Game manager has always been a nice way of calling a quarterback crappy, but suddenly Alex Smith is creating the elite game manager category. You should be able to buy low next week on what will be a sneaky good Vikings offense going forward.
Shallow League Bench: Adrian Peterson. In fact, Peterson is a sit in all but the deepest leagues this week.
Deep League Start: Kendall Hunter. I don’t like any niche players in this game, but if you’re desperate Hunter will be the back who salts the game away late.
No. 7 Lions 45 at No. 27 Titans 31
Calvin Johnson should crest 200 yards in this one, while the quick-healing Kenny Britt matches him blow for blow a week before most have him in their lineups. The Titans finally take advantage of garbage time in this one.
Shallow League Bench: Nate Washington. I don’t recommend sitting any fantasy viable players in this contest, but if Washington had any value this season it would have come before Britt got healthy. On the other hand, this isn’t the week to jump off the Jake Locker bandwagon if you’ve ridden it this far.
Deep League Start: Chris Johnson. Yep, we’re already to the point where a first round pick can only be started in a plus matchup. The Lions are more about penetration than gap discipline so this is the game where he should break a long run if he’s still got it in him.
No. 3 Falcons 27 at No. 21 Chargers 17
They like to say you can only play your schedule. That’s true. It’s also true that Charger wins over Oakland and Tennessee don’t tell us anything. Atlanta has the makings of a Super Bowl team, but they might consider trading for a RB.
Shallow League Release: Michael Turner. The Falcons will be tempted to waive the Burner in the coming days. You should beat them to it.
Deep League Start: Jackie Battle. A pure desperation play, Battle could see goal line carries or a heavy fourth quarter workload in the case of a Mathews re-injury or an unlikely San Diego rout.
No. 11 Eagles 17 at No. 5 Cardinals 20
Based on their yardage differentials, Arizona’s start seems more unsustainable. On the other hand, the Cards aren’t a walking game management disaster. Without their left tackle, Michael Vick is only 70% to make it through four quarters against such a marauding defense.
Shallow League Bench: Larry Fitzgerald. It will be interesting to see how often the Legend is isolated against former Cardinal DRC.
No. 9 Steelers 24 at No. 31 Raiders 0
The battle between boring and blue collar is a semantic matter in Pittsburgh. Aesthetics aside, the offensive line upgrades haven’t seemed to take. Meanwhile, the Raiders are in the first days of what promises to be a multi-year if not multi-decade rebuilding project. Perhaps changing the blocking scheme should not have been the first order of business.
Shallow League Bench: Everybody. I would not start a player from this game. Other than Antonio Brown, of course.
Deep League Start: Denarius Moore. For those who can stomach the injury risk.
No. 4 Texans 27 at No. 16 Broncos 13
The loss at Atlanta is a better barometer of where Denver is at this point. Solidly average to slightly below in run defense, pass defense, and run offense, they’ll need Peyton Manning to be morph back into his 25-year-old self to be competitive in this one. I’d like Houston to run a more balanced offense so that they’re ready in case of competitive games.
Deep League Start: Owen Daniels. Ben Tate’s pushing hard for an equal committee, so I assume you’ve already got him in your lineup, but Daniels is also a good play against a defense that seemed to think Tony Gonzalez was wearing a cloak of invisibility.
No. 6 Patriots 13 at No. 8 Ravens 17
The two teams who faced off in last year’s AFC Championship game spent the offseason trying to become more like the other. Can Baltimore succeed as an up tempo squad? Does it make sense for an injured and ailing Patriots squad to slow the game down? Josh McDaniels has been utterly unconvincing with his play-calling foibles so far.
Shallow League Bench: Brandon Lloyd. Many feel like Lloyd is on the verge of a breakout. His target splits suggest the opposite.
Deep League Start: Julian Edelman. I spent a big chunk of my FAAB this week to acquire Edelman in all leagues. It’s a gamble, but if the Patriots are willing to bank on him as the next Welker, then so am I. His route numbers in Week 2 were through the roof.