Just like week one, the second week of the NFL season figures to feature many rookies placed into big time situations. Will the group of rookie quarterbacks who struggled in week one bounce back on Sunday? Will a rookie left tackle be able to slow down one of the NFL's premier pass rushers?
There are a ton a great match ups and rookies to watch for in week two. Where should you be focused?
Match-ups to Watch
Kansas City DE Tamba Hali vs. Buffalo LT Cordy Glenn
Cordy Glenn was a bit of a pleasant surprise for the Bills this summer. Pre-draft many had questioned his ability to be a starting left tackle, at least early in his career. However, Glenn took hold of that spot and never let go. In spite of their offensive woes, Glenn had a pretty solid debut against the Jets, giving up no sacks and only one pressure.
He’ll have another tough test this Sunday as he matches up against Kansas City’s front seven. Tamba Hali will be returning from his one game suspension, and it’s likely that he’ll be matched up against Glenn a majority of the game. Hali has recorded 26.5 sacks over the last season, and still looks to be one of the league’s top pass rushers. Sunday will be a big chance for Glenn to prove he’s worthy of being a starting left tackle.
Miami RB Reggie Bush vs. Oakland’s Front Seven
Oakland’s outing against San Diego didn’t leave much to feel good about, but one positive they could carry away is that they held the Chargers’ ground game in check. But while they only allowed 32 yards rushing, some people weren’t overly impressed, blaming the absence of Chargers RB Ryan Matthews instead of the solid play of guys like Richard Seymour and Rolando McClain.
The Raiders will get a chance to prove that their run defense is one of the league’s best when they match up against Reggie Bush and the Dolphins. Last season Bush put up a 100 yard performance against Oakland, and ran for 69 on only 14 attempts in this season’s opener. With Daniel Thomas out, Bush will get all the carries and will be looking to repeat those performances. Will the Raiders show that last week was a fluke, or will they be boasting another strong defensive outing in week two?
Houston DE JJ Watt vs. Jacksonville RT Guy Whimper
Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert appeared to be a guy ready to put his awful rookie season behind him and take the next step in his development. He’s got a tough test against a strong Houston secondary in week two, but the key to his success or failure this week is likely to be his right tackle, Guy Whimper.
With starter Cameron Bradfield unlikely to play, Whimper is expected to get the nod and start at right tackle in his place. Unlike many situations where it’s the left tackle who will face off against an elite pass rusher, it’s likely going to be Whimper who sees the most of JJ Watt Sunday. Watt had a great game last week, and at least on paper the match up against Whimper is one that Watt should have no trouble with. Can Whimper keep Watt away from Gabbert, or will Gabbert’s comeback story hit a bump in the road?
Related: 2012 NFL Scouting: Week One in Review
QBs Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, and Russell Wilson
Out of the five rookie starting quarterbacks starting in week one, only Robert Griffin III put up a performance he could really go home happy about. How will the other four quarterbacks bounce back in week two?
Brandon Weeden had the toughest debut of all the rookie quarterbacks, and he’ll be looking to bounce back in the Browns’ divisional game against Cincinnati. It’s tough to imagine Weeden having a worse game than he did in week one – he’d have to thow five picks to do that – but it’s still going to be crucial that he show improvement. He could use the help of fellow rookie Trent Richardson, who had a very pedestrian week one showing and left Cleveland with no option but to throw the ball 35 times.
Russell Wilson didn’t have a terrible game in week one, but there still is plenty of room for improvement. Unfortunately things won’t get any easier for him as he’ll be going up against a much improved Dallas Cowboys defense. The Cowboys are expected to blitz early and often, meaning Wilson has to be both decisive and accurate in his pre snap reads.
Ryan Tannehill started his career against one of the best defenses in the league, and he was in over his head. He threw three interceptions in the second corner that all but won the game for Houston, due in no small part to the tremendous pressure that he was feeling from JJ Watt. Tannehill has the tools to be a good NFL player, but he needs a better supporting cast. He’ll need a better effort from his team mates if the Dolphins expect to beat the Raiders.
Although he’s extremely talented, Andrew Luck had a difficult first game was well. He made some poor throws, but a bigger problem was that his offensive line struggled to keep the Chicago defensive line out of his face. That won’t get much better on Sunday, as now Luck will have to keep an eye on stand out defensive end Jared Allen all game long. If he can get some time in the pocket, Luck should have a much better game. Will he get that chance?
New England DE Chandler Jones
In Jones’ debut, he had the tough task of trying to beat Tennessee left tackle Michael Roos. Roos is widely regarded as one of the top left tackles in the game, and a quite game from Jones would have been forgivable, and even expected.
Jones wasn’t about to use that as an excuse, however. He held his own against Roos, and at times even made Roos look like a rookie. He finished the game with five tackles, and recorded a sack and forced fumble on a play where Roos had no chance of slowing him down.
Jones has a much more favorable match up on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona offensive line looked awful throughout the preseason, and starting quarterback John Skelton is already banged up. Jones and the rest of the Patriots defensive line should have a massive game.
Buffalo CB Stephon Gilmore
It wasn’t just rookie quarterbacks that had tough opening weeks. One of the many additions to the Bills’ defense, rookie Stephon Gilmore, had a tough day as well. He (along with the rest of the Buffalo secondary) looked lost for most of the day, and it resulted in the Mark Sanchez-led offense having their way.
Gilmore will get a chance to rebound against Kansas City, but it won’t be an easy game. At any given snap he could find himself lined up across from Dwayne Bowe or Dexter McCluster, both tough assignments, and both are drastically different players. Will Gilmore and the rest of the Bills defense be up for the task, or will Matt Cassell have a big day?
Fantasy Quick Hits
- Tennessee tight end Jared Cook has been a fantasy enigma to this point in his career. However, it looks like he finally has the playbook down, and more importantly he’s got a great connection with Jake Locker. He played over 80% of the Titans snaps and looks like a player ready to break out. He’s worth stashing on your roster before someone else grabs him at the very least.
- Leonard Hankerson is a pretty good guy to have stashed on your roster as well. It was clear in week one that the X receiver is going to play a big time role in the Redskins offense. If Pierre Garcon ever misses time (and he may not play Sunday) Hankerson will take that role over. He and RGIII look to be on the same page, and Hankerson could be a guy waiting to break out.
- Dexter McCluster appears to have taken the Wes Welker role in Kansas City’s offense, and that’s important news in any PPR leagues. He was the most targeted Chief in week one (ten targets). He’s a guy you want to have in PPR leagues.
- With the news that Matt Forte has a high ankle sprain, Michael Bush becomes a very good RB2/Flex play in most leagues. Bush has an especially good match up next week against the Rams. Forte could be out until the Bears come out of their bye week (week 7) so Bush is a good investment here for the next month or so.