Well, we're through one week of fantasy (and real) football. John Kuhn scored the first touchdown of the season, as we all predicted (and rightly drafted him). Okay, maybe not, BUT we did choose Allen Hurns to score the most fantasy points for a receiver behind only Calvin Johnson. Still no? Okay, so maybe things didn't go as planned last week, but Week Two is a new week, which means the need for a new start 'em, sit 'em column.
This week's column comes on a new day (Thursday), and will continue as such for the rest of the season to make sure you know whether to start your Thursday night guys over any Broncos or opposing players. As far as this Thursday goes, it should be fairly easy: you're starting Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown if you have them; if you have any other Steelers or Ravens, you're likely going to want to keep 'em on the bench.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get to your weekly Broncos start 'em, sit 'em and focus on this week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The players in this section should appear in your lineups this Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.
QB, Peyton Manning
As was discussed last week, you're likely going to be starting Peyton every single week. Last week there were a couple exceptions, such as if you had Drew Brees who was matched up against the Falcons dismal defense; this week, Peyton should be in line to have the most dominant performance of any fantasy quarterback (Drew Brees will be a close second in his match-up against the Browns).
Coming off of a 22.46 point performance against the Colts, which earned Manning third spot for QBs behind a pair of Matt's (Ryan and Stafford), Manning should do even better this week against a reeling Chiefs defense. The Chiefs just lost one of their best defenders and leaders, Derrick Johnson to a season-ending injury, and they surrendered 20.04 fantasy points to Jake Locker. Yes, Jake Locker. Expect Manning, who exploded for 31.82 points in his last game against the Chiefs, to put up a very big week.
Prediction: 385 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT- 27.4 fantasy points
Peyton Manning (DEN), Drew Brees (NO), Andrew Luck (IND), Matt Stafford (DET), Carson Palmer (ARI)
RB, Montee Ball
Montee Ball was the 13th ranked running back in Week One, registering 14.3 points in standard leagues (16.3 in PPR). One key thing to recognize and take away from Ball's performance was that the Broncos have a clear desire to get him involved in their offensive game-plan. Taking pass targets into account, Ball had more touches (26) than all but five running backs (Foster, Bell, McCoy, Forte, Murray) in Week One. Taking into account the sheer number of plays that the Broncos run each week, Peyton's affinity for checking down to his running backs, the nine missed tackles that Ball forced in Week One, and Ball's nose for the end-zone, you're going to want to start him this week against the Chiefs.
Prediction: 75 rush yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 20 rec. yards- 15.5 fantasy points (19.5 PPR)
Lesean McCoy (PHI), Matt Forte (CHI), Jamaal Charles (KC), Adrian Peterson (MIN), Montee Ball (DEN)
WR, Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius started off the season uncharacteristically bad, recording just 4.80 fantasy points in Week One (8.80 PPR). The upside? Peyton targeted DT 11 times in the season opener, suggesting that Thomas will be his number one target in 2014 yet again. It's hard to forget how badly Manning picked on Chiefs' corner Marcus Cooper in 2013, completing four passes to Demaryius for 115 yards, and Thomas will likely be matched up against the young corner yet again on Sunday. Forget about last week, this week will be a comeback week for DT in Denver. Despite the Week One blunders, Thomas is a must-start against the Chiefs in Week Two, he'll be a high-end WR-1 this week.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD- 17.0 fantasy points (24.0 PPR)
A.J. Green (CIN), Calvin Johnson (DET), Demaryius Thomas (DEN), Jordy Nelson (GB), Dez Bryant (DAL)
WR, Emmanuel Sanders
Three of the first four plays in Denver's game against the Colts were passes to Emmanuel Sanders; the fourth-year receiver is going to see a lot more action in Denver than he did in Pittsburgh. In the opener, Sanders reeled in six of nine targets, with only one legitimate dropped pass, for 77 yards. Sanders played all over the field with Welker out of the lineup, lining up in the slot and outside, and even running the ball on a jet-sweep, much like the Seahawks have been using Percy Harvin. Sanders is truly a multi-dimensional weapon, and he's a legitimate deep threat, as shown on his 40-yard reception in the second quarter of last week's game.
The Broncos showed that they have confidence in Sanders, playing him in multiple formations, all over the field, and his connection with Peyton Manning was apparent. Sanders is going to be a solid WR-2 play most weeks (in a 10-team league), but he has explosion potential- expect a few very big weeks for him in this offense. That being said, this week is the same, you can confidently play Sanders as a high-upside WR-2, with the potential to break the bank for you.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 90 yards- 9.0 fantasy points (15.0 PPR)
Randall Cobb (GB), Michael Floyd (ARI), Emmanuel Sanders (DEN), Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN), Antonio Brown (PIT)
TE, Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas was the highest-scoring Broncos player last week, which earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week, with seven receptions for 107 yards and three big touchdowns (28.40). In case you were wondering (or if you weren't), Thomas matched Calvin Johnson, the leading fantasy wide receiver in Week One, last week. Better change that Twitter bio, Julius (overused joke, sue me). Thomas has a favorable match-up in Kansas City this week, but then again, when does he not? Seriously, Julius Thomas proved last week how tough he is to cover, torching both linebackers and safeties on the way to his three TDs.
With Derrick Johnson injured, the Chiefs are even weaker in coverage against tight ends, and Julius is one of the best in the league right now. After last week's performance, expect some extra attention on the Broncos' weapon, but don't expect it to hinder him too significantly. After all, teams are going to have to pick their poison when dealing with the Broncos' numerous weapons on offense; too much attention on one receiver leaves another area compromised, so don't expect any extra attention on Julius to slow him down greatly. It goes without saying, but Thomas is a must-start TE-1 this week, and most weeks.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD
Jimmy Graham (NO), Julius Thomas (DEN), Rob Gronkowski (NE), Vernon Davis (SF), Dennis Pitta (BAL)
After a Week One showing of just 7.00 points, expect the Broncos' defense to rebound against Kansas City and their weak O-line and offense in general. The Chiefs struggled mightily to produce offense against a middling Titansdefense, and should have their hands full against the Broncos' bolstered defense. Denver's D showed spurts of greatness in Week One, and created two turnovers and three sacks in their much-anticipated debut. Despite the fact they are facing fantasy stud, Jamaal Charles, you can feel confident starting Denver's defense this week in any size of league.
Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
K, Brandon McManus
Any Broncos kicker that can kick extra points and short field goals will be a starter each week. Owners can start McManus with confidence.
Kansas City Chiefs
RB, Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles was many peoples' (including my own) consensus number one fantasy choice this season. One week into the season, it appears Andy Reid doesn't have Charles on his own fantasy team. Charles was given just 11 touches in Week One against the Titans, suggesting that the talented back fell into wrongs with the coach, was not up to 100%, or Andy Reid simply had a poor game-plan. I want to say you can be confident that Charles will be back to normal in Week Two, but I don't want to be held reliable for fantasy football losses (it's serious stuff), so I'll say you can be 99% sure that Charles will see more of the ball in Week Two, and will give you much better production fantasy-wise. The Broncos improved defense is a formidable opponent, but Charles is as talented as they come, andAlex Smith will likely have to check down to his backs often, considering the way the Chiefs' O-line has looked and the tough pass rush they'll be facing. Charles is still an RB-1 in all leagues, and there's no reason to be concerned that last week was a sign of what the rest of the season will look like.
Prediction: 75 yards, 1 TD, 5 receptions, 35 yards- 17.0 fantasy points (22,0 PPR)
Montee Ball (DEN), Jamaal Charles (KC), Le'Veon Bell (PIT), Eddie Lacy (GB), Giovani Bernard (CIN)
WR, Dwayne Bowe
Bowe has returned from his suspension and will assume the role of number one receiver in Kansas City, but he's coming off a disappointing season to say the least. After being drafted as one of the top receivers in fantasy last year, Bowe finished in the range of Marlon Brown, James Jones, and Cecil Shorts. Expect more from Bowe this season, as the Chiefs will need to throw more often (they'll be playing from behind in more games), but don't expect him to be your go-to guy like he was in 2012. Bowe's real value comes in the red-zone, where he is the biggest target for Alex Smith outside of Travis Kelce, and should be a touchdown guy for the Chiefs.
In Week Two against the Broncos, don't expect Bowe to have a ton of value in PPR, as Alex Smith doesn't tend to pass to him often; however, he'll be valuable if the Chiefs get in the red-zone, and should still see enough production to be a quality start as a high-end WR-3 or in the flex position.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 70 yards, 1 TD- 13.0 fantasy points (18.0 PPR)
Kendall Wright (TEN), TY Hilton (IND), Dwayne Bowe (KC), Greg Jennings (MIN), Steve Smith (BAL)
Note: Steve Smith > Dwayne Bowe in PPR leagues.
These are players who would be much better off left on your bench.
WR, Cody Latimer
There is hype surrounding the young wide receiver, but Latimer's name was dead silent in the Broncos' victory over the Colts, and if Welker receives his reinstatement for Sunday's game it will be even more unlikely that Latimer sees snaps/targets. Keep a close eye on Latimer or stash him on your bench, as he has potential to put up points later in the season, especially if Welker continues to have health issues.
Kansas City Chiefs
TE, Travis Kelce
Like Latimer, Kelce is a stash-and-wait player at the moment, but you're more likely to see him become fantasy-relevant before Latimer. Kelce was a big deal for the Chiefs in the pre-season, and should see more snaps and more of the game-plan focused around him, but the 18 snaps he saw last week is a discouraging sight for owners, especially in single tight end leagues. If you play in a league with two tight ends in the lineup, Kelce is worth a start in the TE-2 slot.
The Chiefs defense is reeling with the loss of Mike "Not Danny" Devito and one of their leaders, Derrick Johnson. The defensive unit still has promising aspects, but it's yet to be seen how the holes will be filled there and it's not worth starting them until there's a concrete solution. It wasn't promising last week, with Jake Locker and the Titans hanging 26 on Kansas City's defensive unit. With the Broncos on the other side of the field, the Chiefs defense should be kept as far away as possible in Week Two, even in two-defense leagues.
K, Cairo Santos
The rookie kicker was 1-for-2 in Kansas City's opener, and is unlikely to get the opportunity to kick many field goals in the upcoming game. Not worth a start with all the other kickers that are available on the waiver wire.
These are players who could go either way, it's up to you whether you'd like to gamble on them or not.
WR, Wes Welker
Welker is still in limbo; we're unsure of whether or not he'll be playing on Sunday. If you're brave, you can plug him into your lineup, but if you've got a player like Markus Wheaton or Torrey Smith, you'd be better off playing them on Thursday night than waiting for the news on Welker and potentially getting burnt. Even if he is in the lineup, Welker is a gamble, coming off of a concussion in the third pre-season game and not necessarily being included in this week's game-plan. My advice, sit Welker this week, but it's a coin toss, so it's up to you.
WR, Andre Caldwell
Caldwell is effected by the presence (or non-presence) of Wes Welker in the Broncos lineup. If Welker is a go, Caldwell is not worth starting in almost all leagues; however, if Welker remains suspended on the sidelines, Caldwell is worth a start as a WR-3, simply because of the Manning-factor. Caldwell made just two catches for 16 yards last Sunday, but was targeted five times in the pass game and should see a similar amount of targets if Welker misses the game. Again, if you have an option to plug in on Thursday, don't hesitate to play them ahead of Caldwell, he's a hit-or-miss play if you're scrambling for someone to plug into your lineup.
Kansas City Chiefs
WR, Donnie Avery
Avery is undoubtedly worth a start in 14-team leagues, especially those that are PPR, but he's a tougher decision in 10 and 12-team leagues. Avery's 13 targets from Week One are sure to see a regression, but he's a home-run type player who can take one the distance if he has open space. It's likely that Dwayne Bowe's presence in the lineup, as well as a likely expanded role for Kelce, will have an impact on Avery's targets and catches. In the end, Avery is worth a start as a high-upside flex, but he'll be a hit or miss against Denver's defense this week.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.