Steaming from Week 2’s NFL action the Twittersphere has been bogged down with angry traffic from players, owners and most importantly fans on the replacement officials’ incompetence. Fantasy football has been impacted, as well as the ability to watch a football game with brutal officiating calls that consistently need replay and official review challenges.

We all know about the Facebook boasting NFL referee who is an avid Saints fan but what about one of the officials’ from the Ravens vs. Eagles game actually told LeSean McCoy he needed him to have a big game for fantasy implications. Professionalism and the integrity of the game are all being compromised by the ugly labor dispute and the NFL needs to put a stop to this so this is my courageous plea. Roger Goodell, please do something good for the game and return the experienced and well regarded NFL referees back to work to end the lockout to settle this dispute immediately. Pay the officials their due compensation and take this as tasting your own medicine in the wake of Bounty Gate when the integrity of the league was being compromised, this is doing the same thing and is putting players safety in danger too.

Last week there were many instances where officials lost control of the game including Monday night’s clash in Atlanta. If there has ever been more reason it was seen last week, this isn’t getting better anytime sooner. So let Ed Hochuli suit up the zebra stripes and get his flex on while signaling first down so we can all sleep a little easier. Seriously, these replacement cyclopes have to go and I’m not talking about Shane Falco and the replacements from Keanu Reeve’s hit movie. C’mon NFL!

Alright, so now on to the important part who to start, who to sit and who you shouldn’t sleep on to surprise for the week. Reader Beware: if you think I’m good at picking defenses to pick up and play from week to week, then you haven’t been reading this column.

Running Backs

Ray Rice BAL VS. NE

Ray Rice always seems to tear apart the Patriots. Whether it was that prolific run in the 1st quarter of what ended up as a laugher in the playoffs at Foxboro a few years back or well…let’s just stick to that memory. I love Rice in this matchup. Against a tough Philly D, Rice was productive last week in the running and passing game. Let’s not kid ourselves though, the Pats defensive is much improved thus far this season, but Baltimore knows its strength is its physical style of pounding the rock, so expect some payback from last season’s AFC Championship in mind on Sunday and Rice to revved up and ready to exact some revenge.

Maurice Jones-Drew JAC VS. IND

MJD has a juicy matchup this week. Indy isn’t the strongest run defense and Blaine Gabbert is Blaine Gabbert, meaning there should be the running game and more of the same to bring to the table. I think he rewards fantasy owners who were very up in the air with him when drafting him because of the holdout situation. This is a division foe and it’s not getting much easier for Jacksonville this year. I foresee 2 TDs and 100 yard effort here, cash your MJD chips in this week.

Doug Martin TB VS. DAL

Who’s your favorite Martin? Mine personally is Curtis Martin and his blue collar mantra with the NY Jets, but this week I am loving this little guy out of Boise State. I acknowledge drafting Martin this season based on the idea that he could be good back up if Blount beats up a teammate or gets arrested and even better if they develop a passing game. Well I was wrong, he straight out won the starting job based on skill and he’s talented enough to run over a Dallas D that saw a big game from Beast Mode last week. While Martin won’t be tasting the rainbow and mowing down skittles after touchdown runs against the Cowboys this week, I expect Martin will need to develop a unique touchdown dance as he’s prime to eat up that Dallas D this week.

Quarterbacks

Cam Newton CAR VS. NYG

To kick off the slate of games for the week we have these lovable Thursday nighters thrown in here from the onset this season. I love the NFL Network, if not for Rich Eisen, Coach Mariucci’s, Marshall Faulk and Primetime’s analysis than to see who will win the goodie bag of crap they give to the player of the game. My prediction is it’ll be Cam Newton this week. That means Carolina will have to go into the defending champs house and impress. Newton’s got a nice weapon in Brandon LaFell opposite to Steve Smith and if Eli does what he did prior to the 4th quarter against the Bucs, this Panthers team will make him pay. I see Cam rising to the occasion, he’s not one to shy away from the spotlight, and he’ll give the Giants D fits.

Robert Griffin III WAS VS. CIN

Coming off last week’s prediction to sit RGIII, I’ve decided he’s a must start from here on out. Why? I don’t know it really defies logic, but even with Garcon out last week he managed to throw and run for TDs and has unbelievable poise that only Josh Morgan could dream of emulating. It’s the Redskins home opener and it’ll be the biggest hyped grand QB entrance since a Jeff George signing back in the early 2000s. But seriously, Bengals made Brown’s rookie QB Brandon Weeden look like a veteran and Flacco an All-Pro. I’m saying in my conservative estimate of the “Bullet-Proof Tiger” Pick of the Week will be RGIII and 250 + passing yards with 3 TDS (combo of running and throwing).

Tony Romo DAL VS. TB

In the words of my favorite College Gameday host Lee Corso…not so fast my friend. Tony Romo didn’t look so tough on Sunday against an underrated and superior Seattle secondary after he torched the Giants in the kickoff to the season. Now this is Dallas’ home opener and Jerry Jones won’t stand for mediocrity so Romo better bring his PF Flyers and start tossing TDs or things could get ugly in Big D. I expect he’ll recover against an up and coming Tampa team. Dez and Austin will get back in the mix and with Witten on the road to recovery I see nothing but positives from Romo in my crystal dome.

Wide Receivers

Andrew Hawkins CIN VS. WAS

Andrew who? Yep, another unknown until I saw that Ravens were chasing him around wildly and then he did the same thing to an above average Browns’ defensive secondary. I think if Dalton keeps targeting him like Clint Eastwood does an empty chair then more big things are in store for this guy opposite AJ Green. Washington has been in a couple shootouts thus far and with a couple more key injuries to the defense last week I expect Hawkins will have some room and will find success in bunches. I foresee Hawkins putting up numbers similar to Danny Amendola did last week, for favorable comparison, against a similar opponent in Washington.

Reggie Wayne IND VS. JAC

Reggie still has swag, he might be long in the tooth but he’s got wheels and expect Luck to find him often against a Jaguar team that struggles in most facets of football related skills. The best thing Reggie does is find a way to get open for his QB and he’s seen 25 targets already and found fantasy glory with a TD last week. Keep him in the lineup, I love the matchup.

Brandon Marshall CHI VS. STL

Where art thou Brandon last week at Lambeau Field? True, he and the entire Bears offense disappeared but I expect vastly different results this week against a less aggressive and talented Rams squad. He dropped a TD last week so he owes fantasy owners and in an aggressive “Panty-Dropping” pick of the week Marshall returns to King Cutler’s castle as fantasy stud and will pay huge dividends to fantasy owners at a tune of 2 TDs and 100+ yards receiving.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham NO VS. KC

Going out on a limb here but that Jimmy Graham is really good. He’s got physical skill of a power forward (Vernon Davis, have you seen him dunk over the goal post?) and hands like a degenerate Terrell Owens (meaning he holds onto the ball). So Brees will dial up his number early and often and versus a KC team that has taken a good shellacking the first two weeks it’s a good bet this gets worse before better against an angry 0 and 2 Saints squad. Graham cracker munch, start this guy!

Antonio Gates SD VS. ATL

Early indications are that Gates is expected back this week from his rib injury that sidelined him last week. Gates is looking to impress this week. His opposing foes’ offense has future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez and I might be crazy but Gates is going to be HOF material when it’s all said in done. This guy was healthy finally to start the season and over the past few years has often been injured so I don’t expect this minor setback to inhibit a monster game or year. Rivers to Gates just like old times.

Defense

Green Bay Packers

Every week it’s a pickup and play defense that I recommend and every week so far it’s a BUST. Well, Packers were a smash hit last week vs Da Bears. They are available shockingly in some leagues so this week and if you have the chance grab these cheese heads. So I don’t expect a herculean effort like week 2 but Seattle will probably have a more conservative offense approach and are still starting a rookie at QB in Wilson. Roll the dice on Monday night, I think this could be a very low scoring game that hinges on turnovers and big time hits. Qwest will be loud and so could this defense.

Tip of Week

Don’t panic. Even if you’ve started out 0-2 it’s far too early to unload valuable position players that are underperforming in what is such a young season. Remain patient, confident but also aware of who is a buy low or sell high option. You may know Stephen Jackson or Chris Johnson are having subpar seasons but that’s no reason to unload unless an unbelievable trade comes around that improves your team. So some advice to those inexperienced fantasy owners, which rings true to political presidential seekers, you always want to be aware of who else is out there. Do not blow a gasket based on numerical forecasts, past performance or what you believe to be true that will swing victory in your favor. Run your thoughts by an advisor or expert before getting in too deep and proposing non-sense because once it’s recorded on the internet you’ve got to live with the consequences – trade consequences for all you fantasy lovers. Be proud and be the 47% of fantasy owners who are undefeated going into week 3. You matter and so do the players on your team so don’t sell them short.

RIP Steve Sabol.