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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Gridiron Challenge: Week 2 preview

By Jim McCormick
Special to ESPN.com

Sleepers and stars were the buzzwords last week, and now its ankles and ACLs that will define this one. If this past weekend were played out in Madden '92, the ambulance would be quite busy. You get the idea.

In traditional fantasy, only one team can have the rights to the suddenly coveted Brandon Jackson, but in GIC we can all have him at a reasonable price. The resonating effect that a scenario like the Green Bay Packers backfield has on the GIC market is quite compelling because you can enjoy some nice margins with a rising commodity like Jackson.

You should also be aware that while the market and statistical returns are still so young and unsettled, the prices have yet to fluctuate. This means that for this week, you can continue to shop for the best matchups and proven commodities with little regard to your spending. Consider this your last week before school starts because the prices will rise after this weekend, but also contemplate that with all of this available talent, it takes a uniquely savvy manager to pace the pack. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to use your entire budget each week just for the sake of it. If the best possible team you feel you can field falls below your allowance, go with it in confidence instead of stocking up to max out the cap.

Buyer's Market

Consider these players as valuable Week 2 commodities to target

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego (6.2 price tag): If I'm going to advocate that you spend, I might as well endorse some top-dollar talents rather than just pointing out where money can be saved. This gourmet list begins with Rivers, who proved last week that he can move the ball ably without Vincent Jackson, even in a downpour against an improved Kansas City Chiefs defense. With a number of oversized talents to target and a matchup with a generous Jacksonville Jaguars secondary, Rivers should make his way into your lineup, as he has in mine.

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (5.8 price tag): Vick is priced as a low-end starter, but could be near the weekly leaderboard at the position after a visit to the fast track in Detroit. As a short-term investment, the immediate profits could be considerable.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams (5.7 price tag): One more elite for the taking is Jackson and his savory matchup against an unsound Oakland Raiders run defense. The Rams realize they got away from the ground too often last week, and a recommitment is in order, much to Jackson's statistical benefit.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders (4.8 price tag): On the other side of the field, "Run-DMC" actually lived up to his moniker last week with an impressive performance in an otherwise unimpressive showing by the Raiders offense. McFadden is proving to have prowess on both the ground and in the passing game, and his long-awaited emergence can be enjoyed at quite a discount.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers (5.2 price tag): What we know is that Jackson is an unknown and a once touted starter who inherits the job that Ryan Grant effectively took over a few seasons ago. No matter the pricing or the mystery, Jackson is in a prime spot to produce against a feeble Buffalo Bills rush defense. Keep in mind that the Bills boast one of the league's better secondaries that will likely lead to quite a workload for this promising commodity.

Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (5.1 price tag): As solid and steady as they come at a somewhat unpredictable position, Ward has proven to be Dennis Dixon's security blanket in the passing game. This week's matchup against a talented but exploitable Tennessee Titans secondary should lead to another week of solid returns from this Steelers staple.

Malcolm Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers (4.7 price tag): Call this more of a hunch than an analytical determination. I believe that given their slight misses last week, Rivers will look Floyd's way early and often as a means to stretch the field and open up the underneath routes for Antonio Gates and the backfield. A long score is not out of the question.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers (4.9 price tag): If you're up for paying top dollar for your tight end, look no further than Davis, who should enjoy a monster Monday night outing against a New Orleans Saints defense that allowed Visanthe Shiancoe to go off last week, and is generally susceptible to the position.

Philadelphia Eagles Defense (5.0 price tag): This doesn't require much of an explanation. Add an aggressive, ball-hawking defense to a journeyman quarterback behind a mediocre line and some profound point production will result.

Jim's Week 2 Lineup

My team, "I'm a Man, I'm Forte," scored 131 points in Week 1, good for the 94.6 percentile and just outside of the top 10,000 of competitors overall.

QB: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts; 6.4 price tag, 29 points-to-date
QB: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers; 6.2, 19 points
RB: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans; 6.0, 26 points
RB: Adrian Peterson; 6.0, 9 points
WR: Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys; 5.3, 20 points
WR: Andre Johnson, Houston Texans; 5.5, 3 points
TE: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers; 4.9, 13 points
K: David Akers, Philadelphia Eagles; 4.4, 8 points
DEF: Philadelphia Eagles Defense, 5.0, 6 points

Jim McCormick is an IDP and fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com, as well as the producer of the Washington Post's "Behind the Helmet" series and Sirius XM's Fantasy Sports Channel. You can reach him with your questions and comments on Twitter @JMcCormickESPN.