By: Zach Haugen (Twitter: @ZHaugenFootball)
FFD260 Start/Sit Week 2
You are always pumped immediately following your fantasy football draft. You are convinced that you drafted a team full of superstars. But when the regular season starts you realize that you can’t play all of them every week, and stress starts to set in. What if I start player X and he blows it, or maybe even worse, what if player Y explodes this week on my bench. Ultimately we will never be perfect in our lineup decisions, but we can make smarter decisions. Nobody needs to be told to start their workhorse running backs or top 10 wide receivers. Nobody needs to be told to play anyone they have going against the Jets. So who are the players in week 2 you should stick into your starting lineups and who are the ones that should sit?
Tyrod Taylor at the Panthers- As long as Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are covering sideline to sideline the Panthers defense will be good, but they are not the formidable unit they once were and are have shown that they can be beat. I like Tyrod almost every week as a floor play at QB thanks to the added rushing points he gives you. This week is no different.
Carson Palmer vs the Colts- Palmer looked legitimately bad last week, and I don’t think it is a fluke. Palmer will look like 2015 Peyton Manning this year as a shell of himself. But even 2017 Manning could probably carve up this Colts defense. I mean for god’s sake, JARED GOFF carved up this Colt’s secondary. I get why you don’t want to play him, but give it one more week.
Philip Rivers vs the Dolphins- I had my doubts about Rivers, after he looked like an aging declining quarterback last year. But week 1 he passed the eye test by throwing for 3 touchdowns against the vaunted Broncos defense. Rivers now plays a Dolphin’s secondary that was flat out awful last year, and has a healthy talented group of playmakers around him. I think he is a top 10 play for week 2.
Russell Wilson vs the 49ers- I don’t really understand why the Seahawks offense starts so slow every year, but they did it again in week 1. To be fair, the Packers got to Wilson almost every play cutting through the turnstiles that call themselves the Seahawks offensive line. This may be a problem all year, but Wilson is use to being under pressure and the 49ers are one of the best matchups that the Seahawks offense could hope for. Expect a solid QB1 performance from Wilson boosted by his rushing floor.
Eli Manning vs the Lions- There was hope that Manning could have a bounce back season after being surrounded by Beckham, Marshall, and Shepard, but he didn’t get off to a strong start. True, he didn’t have Beckham, but Beckham is still nicked up and is very unlikely to be at full health even if he plays this week. Marshall was invisible in week 1 and is clearly not the Brandon Marshall of 2015 anymore. Until Manning starts proving it, and Beckham is fully healthy, leave Manning on the bench despite the matchup.
Carson Wentz at the Chiefs- Carson Wentz topped 300 yards last week and had a couple highlight plays that had people calling him the future of the NFL. But people just ignored his horrible pick six and multiple head scratching decisions. This is what I don’t get about Wentz, people seem to only focus on the good and ignore the bad. The bad side of quarterbacks tends to show brightly against this Chiefs defense though, and I expect a few ugly plays by Wentz that could sink his fantasy day.
Marcus Mariota at the Jaguars- I love Mariota as a quarterback, but from a fantasy perspective, he is a bit like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. Last week against a Raiders defense that was supposed to be subpar he failed to pass for a single touchdown. Fortunately he was saved by a rushing touchdown. Historically though, Mariota has feasted on bad defenses and struggled for fantasy against top end defenses. I am buying in that the Jaguars have a top end defense, and if I had other options I would be keeping Mariota on my bench in week 2.
Running Back Starts
Jordan Howard at the Buccaneers- I am not telling you that Howard’s stock is rising with the emergence of Tarik Cohen, because it isn’t. But don’t act like this is the end of fantasy relevance for Jordan Howard. He is still the same talented back he was last year and he got 68% of the team’s rushing attempts in week 1. Howard may no longer have the upside of being a top 5 running back, but he is still a reliable RB2 week in and week out including week 2 against the Buccaneers assuming his health cooperates.
James White at the Saints- I honestly just want as many pieces of this game as I can. It has a 54-point over/under, is being played in a dome, and has 2 of the best quarterbacks of the 21st Century. Points should be put on the board at a brisk pace, and James White should be one of the beneficiaries. Not only was White clearly used in the passing game, but he got 10 carries in a game with mostly negative game script. While Gillislee is the goal line back, White appears to be the guy with the most consistency in that backfield, particularly in potential shootouts like in week 2.
Mark Ingram vs the Patriots- I was a bit discouraged by Ingram’s usage in week 1. I expected Adrian Peterson to eat into his workload, but I didn’t expect splitting carries with Alvin Kamara. That being said, I think he is still the most well rounded running back on the roster, and no amount of Sean Payton hatred can keep this game from being a fantasy goldmine. I expect a bounce back week for Ingram, and maybe a good sell high opportunity.
CJ Anderson vs the Cowboys- Fantasy owners hate CJ Anderson, and I get it. He has burned owners so many times before. But that has mostly been for his ability to stay on the field. Watch a Broncos game, and you will see that CJ Anderson is a legitimately good NFL running back, and when given the amount of touches he deserves he produces for fantasy. That is despite the fact that seemingly every game he has a big play called for a meaningless penalty. It’s actually pretty crazy how often this happens to him. He isn’t a superstar, but if CJ Anderson continues to see 20 touches weekly, should be safely plugged in as a solid Rb2.
Running Back Sits
Carlos Hyde at the Seahawks- I am a big Carlos Hyde believer this year. He looked legitimately good in week 1, is getting the bulk of the touches. He was even very involved in the passing game. This Shanahan offense should do him wonders. Still, running backs on inherently bad offenses are doomed to be volatile, and there is no week more than this that screams trouble for Carlos Hyde. This Seahawks defense is stacked at every position, and just held a very explosive Ty Montgomery to 2.8 ypc. I think if you are very thin at running back it is ok to play Hyde as desperation Rb2, but if you have depth, plug someone else in this week.
Frank Gore vs the Cardinals- Gore actually had more spring in his step than I expected to see in week 1. The old man strength lives on. The problem is that his quarterback and offense stink. Gore isn’t ever going to break off long explosive runs anymore, so you need him to have volume and scoring opportunity. He had that with Luck, but he doesn’t right now. Until Luck comes back he is a must sit for me.
Ameer Abdullah at the Giants- Abdullah is talented. He is a sparq freak with decent vision and adequate power. But he is in a pass first offense with an elite pass catching back and limited scoring opportunities. I believe Abdullah will have fantasy success this year, but this is not the matchup to chase it. Yes the Giants gave up over 100 yards to Zeke, but come on guys; it’s Zeke and the Cowboys offensive line. This defense is legit, and I am not excited for any Lions skill players, but would especially be sitting Abdullah, unless you want to see him continually run into the brick wall that is Snacks Harrison.
Jonathan Stewart vs the Bills- Stewart had a great week 1 and reminded people that McCaffrey isn’t the only show in town. Let’s remember though that was against the 49ers with insanely positive game script. Sure the Panthers are a run first team, but I don’t envision another 38 carries this week for the Panthers. It was also McCaffrey’s first game in the NFL, and I expect them to ease him into more work as the year goes on. While the Bills defense might not be elite, they are still much better defense than San Francisco in my opinion, after holding an average running back group in Powell and Forte to 2.5 ypc and a long of 11 yards. Stewart will have value this year, but it won’t be as a weekly starter and I would advise looking for higher upside options if possible.
Wide Receiver Starts
Kelvin Benjamin vs the Bills- Benjamin disappointed fantasy owners in week 1, with only 1 catch for 25 yards, but he still led all Panther wide receivers in targets, and is an elite red zone option. He looked legitimately dominant in the preseason. Assuming the game script is slightly more neutral this week, the pass attempts should go up and more targets for Benjamin mean more chances for a grown man touchdown catch that he has made us accustomed to.
Martavis Bryant vs the Vikings- I have to admit that this one feels risky. Bryant just came off a dud game against Cleveland and now faces one of the leagues best pass defenses in the Minnesota Vikings. Week 1 was an opportunity to knock off the rust for the whole Steelers offense though, and Antonio Brown dominated the receiving stats. With Rhodes likely shadowing Brown, Bryant should see more looks. Especially because he will get to do battle with a beatable Trae Waynes more often than Vikings fans want to see. Antonio Brown produces in every matchup but Bryant performs when Roethlisberger performs, and Roethlisberger performs at home. It isn’t the easiest matchup, but it only takes one big play for Bryant to pay off, and I think he will see more than 1 this week.
Chris Hogan at the Saints- I am still of the belief that Hogan will never be a weekly fantasy starter. I don’t think he sees enough volume in this loaded offense to do that. But week 2 shapes up as a perfect storm for Hogan. Tom Brady just got embarrassed on National TV. Edelman, Amendola, and Mitchell are all hurt. This game has a 54-point over/under, which is the highest of the week. I think Brady bounces back strong, and somebody has to catch those passes. I expect at least 8 targets for Hogan this week, and that is more than enough to do damage against this Saints secondary.
Alshon Jeffery at the Chiefs– Alshon had a bad first week, but that was expected when Josh Norman was shadowing him. He still had 7 targets, and that number should grow quite a bit if the preseason is any indication of how much Wentz likes Alshon Jefferey. Marcus Peters is a great cornerback, but he isn’t shut down in the same way Josh Norman is. He will create a ton of turnovers but will also give up big plays. I think Alshon breaks a big play this week and ends up with a nice fantasy line for his second week with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dez Bryant at the Broncos- Look, if you have 3 other good options, then you don’t need to play Dez this week. For instance, in one league I am starting Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs over Dez. But people sitting him on their benches for Tyrell Williams and Kendall Wright amaze me. Dez Bryant was your second round pick for a reason. He is a big play waiting to happen and a red zone menace. Dez was still heavily targeted in his week 1 dud against the Giants, and was inches away from a couple of touchdowns. Even if Bryant’s ceiling is capped by the difficult matchup, he is still more likely to score a touchdown than almost any wide receiver you have on your bench right now.
Wide Receiver Sits
Adam Thielen at the Steelers- Thielen had a huge game in week 1 catching 9 balls for 157 yards against the Saints. It was overshadowed by Diggs 2 touchdown catches, but was a reminder for fantasy players of the real connection between Thielen and Bradford. I like Thielen for fantasy, but he is still behind Diggs, and Bradford, despite his amazing week 1 performance, is not Tom Brady. That means that Thielen will likely be inconsistent and you need to play him based on matchups. I think week 2 is a Diggs week. The Steelers defense is a much better unit than the Saints, but with one glaring weakness named Joe Haden. Haden lined up the vast majority of the time on the right side, which is where Diggs tended to line up. To add to the worries, Bradford has some injury concerns with his knee. Thielen is startable for sure, but if you have other good options I would look to sit him in week 2.
T.Y. Hilton at the Cardinals- This one is pretty straightforward but needs to be said anyway. It is hard to sit Hilton when you spent such high draft capital. But Hilton isn’t a WR1 or even WR2 without Luck. He is a volatile flex who needs to get a big play. He is also going against one of the NFL’s best pass defenses in the Arizona Cardinals and should see plenty of Patrick Peterson. You can play Hilton in desperation hoping that Brissett will be an improvement. But I would be trying hard to find another option.
Marvin Jones at the Giants- I hope nobody is considering this one, but he was put into a lot of lineups in week 1, with high aspirations for the season. In a fantastic game for Stafford, Jones put up a dud ceding a lot of production to Golladay. Golladay is still behind Jones in this pecking order so he could be a value, but this week is not the week to expect the bounce back. The Giants have a legitimate defense, and the Lions are likely to hide Tate in the slot. That means Jones will be drawing a lot of Janoris Jenkins who just shut down Dez Bryant. Avoid at all costs.
Corey Coleman at the Ravens- Coleman benefited week 1 from a strong debut by Deshone Kizer. Kizer did still take 7 sacks though and seems to be just a tick to slow at this point in mental processing. That likely won’t fare very well in week 2 against a Ravens team that just ate Andy Dalton alive forcing 5 turnovers. I think this will be a rough week for the Brown’s offense and specifically the passing game. I like Coleman, but would rather look to buy low on him after this week’s matchup.
Tight End Starts
Zach Ertz at the Chiefs- This isn’t the best matchup of the year for Ertz. I am not saying he is an elite tight end this week, but this is just telling you that Ertz has graduated to being a rare weekly start at the tight end position for me. He has clearly shown that he is a favorite target of Carson Wentz and has put up elite numbers at the end of last season and the beginning of this season. The Chiefs are a really good defense, and strong against the tight end, but the absence of Eric Berry should allow Ertz to finish as a low end TE1 this week.
Eric Ebron at the Giants- Ebron was on a 75 catch pace last year for the Lions, so his poor usage last week is not an issue for me, especially because he played almost all of the snaps. He was rusty and coming off an injury while playing the number 1 defense against the tight end. I expect him to be utilized much more heavily this week against a Giants defense that gave up 7 catches and a touchdown to old man Witten last week. The Giants have strong cornerbacks, which funnels the targets to the tight end position. I am playing Ebron confidently as a TE1 this week.
Martellus Bennett at the Falcons- Bennett had an unspectacular Packer debut-catching 3 passes for 43 yards, but facing the Legion of Boom is a tough way to start any season. This week he faces off against the Falcons in a game that should be a shootout. The truth is, after the top 5 or 6 tight ends, the goal is to stream a tight end that has a high chance to score a touchdown. Bennett plays in an elite offense with a superstar quarterback in a game that should see a lot of points put on the board. He is a prime steaming candidate for me in week 2.
Coby Fleener vs the Patriots- Coby Fleener burned fantasy owners last year, and people don’t want to get burned again. I get that. But sometimes it just takes time to acclimate to a new offense. With Snead missing the first game, Fleener is getting a second chance to show what he can do over the middle of the field. In week 1 he ended as the Saints leading receiver with 5 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots looked like a great tight end defense last week shutting down Travis Kelce, but the truth is the Patriots are good at what they want to be good at. They take away top weapons on the opposing team. Something tells me they don’t view Fleener as quite the weapon Kelce is. Use that to you advantage and play Fleener in what should be a shootout.
Tight End Sits
Austin Hooper vs the Packers- Austin Hooper blew up last week on the back of an 88-yard touchdown reception, but let’s be honest. He was wide open, and looked slower than molasses on that long run. I like Hooper as a long-term option in this offense, and week 2 offers a nice matchup, but I am not willing to play a tight end until I see him get more than 2 targets. Sure he could have a big game, but he could also easily have 0 catches. Wait and see on Hooper until the targets start to rise, and then pounce.
Hunter Henry vs the Dolphins- Much like Hooper, this has nothing to do with his matchup in week 2. Hunter Henry is a talented tight end on a good offense that could return a big week for you. But he was playing well behind Antonio Gates last week and didn’t see a single target. I expect that to change this week for sure, but until he starts playing legitimate snaps and out targeting Antonio Gates you can’t trust Hunter Henry to be a starter in your fantasy football lineup.
Jack Doyle vs the Cardinals- I am guessing you are sensing a theme here for the Colts. Sit all your Colts this week. Sure Brissett could be better than Tolzien. In fact, I don’t know how he could be worse. But this offense is still very bad, and they are playing an elite defense this week as well. Doyle was a popular streaming tight end candidate to begin the year, but until this offense is good enough to produce scoring opportunities Doyle has to stay on your bench.
Jared Cook vs the Jets- Cook started the season strong catching all 5 of his targets for 56 yards and seemed to be legitimately involved in the pass game. So why on earth would I tell you to bench him against the Jets? Zach, didn’t you read the beginning of your own article where you said to start everyone that plays the Jets? Yes, I read my own article. But the truth is that not everyone on this offense can eat every week and I fully expect this to be a Marshawn Lynch game. The Raiders will take an early lead and smash the ball right into the middle of that Jet’s defense over and over until they break. In a game that should take relatively few pass attempts and on a team that has many other capable red zone options, Cook is a sit for me this week.