For starters ...

The Baltimore Sun

We're in Week 2 of fantasy playoff season, so the format here shall remain quick and dirty.

Remember to review every spot on your roster with a careful eye. You don't want to play any iffy matchups if you can avoid it, because a five-point slip here or there can end your season. Of course, some disasters, you can't protect against.

Just ask any Carson Palmer owner who was riding high until last weekend.

Players you normally wouldn't start but should consider this week:

Jay Cutler, Broncos at Texans - Houston's pass defense can be attacked, and Cutler has really been pretty solid in recent weeks. I wouldn't expect a four-touchdown repeat, but he'll give you what you need from the quarterback spot if you're strong elsewhere.

Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers vs. Falcons - Garcia has missed the past two weeks but says he'll start against Atlanta. He was effective against the Falcons' below-average pass defense earlier this season, so if you don't have a front-line starter at quarterback, he's a reasonable fill-in.

Aaron Stecker, Saints vs. Cardinals - Arizona's run defense isn't terrible, so don't expect Stecker to repeat his 100-yard effort from Monday night. On the other hand, he is a starting running back now, and the Saints seem likely to have plenty of scoring opportunities against the Cardinals. That makes him a reasonable No. 2 back in my book.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants vs. Redskins - Not a great matchup, but this is just to note that Jacobs looked reasonably durable in his return to the lineup against Philadelphia and is a serviceable option for your No. 2 runner.

Frank Gore, 49ers vs. Bengals - Most of you would probably start him anyway against Cincinnati. I just wanted to mention him given that I recommended sitting him last week.

Joey Galloway, Buccaneers vs. Falcons - He has been inconsistent this season, but he beat the Falcons for a deep touchdown earlier, and I like his chances to do it again. He's a good No. 2 receiver this week.

Plaxico Burress, Giants vs. Redskins - Washington's pass defense is weak, and Burress had a productive week against it early in the season. He has been a maddening player to own this season but should start this week in almost any three-receiver format.

Shaun McDonald, Lions at Chargers - He's not a great scoring threat, but with Roy Williams out, you know he'll receive plenty of looks in Detroit's high-volume passing attack. You can also bet the Lions will be playing from behind in San Diego, so he should give you plenty of yards as a third receiver or flex player.

Players you might usually start but shouldn't:

Vince Young, Titans at Chiefs - Kansas City defends the pass well, and Young just doesn't throw for many touchdowns. He also hasn't run much in recent weeks to compensate.

Shaun Alexander, Seahawks at Panthers - This is a weekly warning now. He was a top-10 pick, yes. But he's not very good anymore.

Willie Parker, Steelers vs. Jaguars - It seems weird to consider benching the league's leading rusher. And I'm sure Parker will have a solid 80-yard week, so if you don't have a decent reserve option, leave him in. But there are about 20 guys I'd start ahead of him, including preseason afterthoughts such as Ryan Grant, Earnest Graham and LenDale White. Parker is a great example of how drastically the fantasy landscape can change in the course of a season. He's taken a half-step back (because he just doesn't score) and a bunch of relative unknowns, given the opportunities, have swooped right on past him.

Travis Henry, Broncos at Texans - Mike Shanahan is back to juggling runners again, and with Selvin Young on the ascent, Henry isn't worth the risk if you have another option.

Steve Smith, Panthers vs. Seahawks - It's hard to sit the guy who went above all other receivers in a bunch of drafts. But, man, he hasn't had a big game since Week 6. That trend seems unlikely to change with Vinny Testaverde at the helm of a terrible offense. I guess I'd still start him in a three-receiver format, but yuck.

Anquan Boldin, Cardinals at Saints - I hate toe injuries. They always sound so minor on the television ticker, but then your guy remains questionable all week and, at the last minute, he's scratched. Boldin has a toe injury that kept him out last week. Yikes.

Donald Driver, Packers at Rams - He has become another member of the Willie Parker All-Stars: Heck of a player ... doesn't score.

As for defenses, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I like the Bengals for a second week in a row against the disappointing San Francisco offense. Seattle has been a possible start all season and should give you a solid tally against Carolina. I don't see many traps on the defensive side. Leave the fading Detroit unit on the shelf as it faces San Diego.

As always, good luck.

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