One thing was clear in Week One: It's tough to be a running back, and better to be a wide receiver to start the season. Three 100-yard rushers compared to nine receivers with 100-yard games to start the season. One of those players was Oakland Raiders quarterback Terelle Pryor, whose 102 yards rushing set a new franchise record.
Even coming out of Ohio State, Pryor was known best for his rushing abilities and not his passing. So his performance isn’t really much of a surprise. And we shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of a ground game across the league. Over the last six years, receivers overall have had a better first weekend.
Consider in 2012 five players had 100-yard rushing games in Week One and eight receivers went for a century. In 2011, it was seven rushers to nine receivers; 2010 three to nine; 2009 five to seven ; and 2008 seven to nine.
There could be any number of reasons why receivers have done so well in the first week of the season. Teams could have passed more because they were down early, or coaches wanted to exploit an obvious mismatch. Overall, do not bail on your running backs in favor of receivers in any of your flex spots after one week. They still average more touches, unless they have a serious turnover problem like New York Giant David Wilson.
Below are three players at each position that have some of the best matchups in Week Two.
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Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Coming off a solid opening week win, Forte only had 50 yards, but that was against Cincinnati’s scary frontline. This week, it's Minnesota, who gave up 191 total yards to Detroit’s Reggie Bush in Week One.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller got the most touches, but struggled against New England. But against a Carolina defense that surrendered 134 rushing yards, Spiller has a solid chance to shine, especially if EJ Manuel has another solid day in the pocket.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
His debut against the 49ers was underwhelming, but he did get into the end zone. Lacy’s a solid second or third running back start.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
The defending champs were rocked in Week One, but Smith still flashed his speed and hands with four receptions for 92 yards. Against Cleveland this week he should score his first touchdown of the year.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
He burned the Browns for nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Hartline is clearly the No. 1 receiver for Ryan Tannehill, and against Indianapolis in Week Two, he could continue his march to a second straight 1,000-yard season.
Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins
Everyone is jumping on his bandwagon, and while it might be too soon to say Hankerson is an absolute starter for the rest of the season, it’s safe to say he could do some serious damage against a Green Bay secondary that allowed 404 yards passing in the first week.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Normally a matchup against Pittsburgh is reason enough to stay away. But with lots of injuries for the Steelers, and Dalton completing 79 percent of his passes in Week One, he’s a solid bet. Dalton has a far higher ceiling this week then Seattle's Russell Wilson or Houston's Matt Schaub.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In eight career games against New Orleans, his Week Two opponent, Freeman has posted 2,154 yards and 10 touchdowns to nine picks. The Bucs offense stalled against the Jets, but the Saints new defense under Rob Ryan only has one game under its belt and could implode. Also should the Tampa Bay defense struggle against the Saints high-powered offense, Freeman will be asked to throw a ton.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler flipped an unfortunate first week draw against the Bengals into 242 yards and two touchdowns. In Week Two, he hosts a Minnesota secondary that is still young and taking its lumps, giving up 357 yards to Detroit.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Cook made his debut with the Rams in high fashion, leading all receivers with seven catches for 141 yards and two scores. He plays Atlanta this week, who allowed 357 passing yards. This week Cook’s a better start than New York’s Brandon Meyers, or Carolina’s Greg Olsen, who have far tougher matchups.
Kellen Winslow, New York Jets
Injuries plagued his career, but Winslow has an ideal situation in New York. Many rookie quarterbacks have made their tight end their favorite targets, and Geno Smith showed plenty of chemistry with Winslow for a team high seven catches for 79 yards.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
Right now he’s the best option for Joe Flacco after Torrey Smith, and his experience and ability to catch a high volume of passes makes him ideal for Baltimore against Cleveland.