Week 1 is in the books, and as the old adage goes, “You don’t really know until you know.” This is especially true with the NFL, because who saw the Rams putting up 46 points? Before we head into the matchups, let’s look at some season ending injuries that have fantasy football impact.
- David Johnson, RB, Arizona – The biggest name to go down, Johnson’s wrist was injured in the 3rd quarter of Week 1, sending shockwaves throughout social media and the league. Johnson, the consensus #1 overall pick in most fantasy leagues, was placed on IR but with a designation to return. In redraft leagues, he can be dropped. I would not continue to hold onto him if I do not have to. A tough blow for the Cardinals and fantasy owners who drew the #1 slot.
- Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville – Robinson went down with a torn ACL in the 3rd play of the season, and will be sidelined for the entire 2017 season. He can be dropped in all redraft leagues.
- Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore – Another year, another injury for the diminutive pass catching back. This time, a hamstring injury. He had touches early on, signaling that he was going to get a lot of work with Baltimore in 2017, but he was placed on IR this week, ending his season.
So starting this week, I’ll be putting myself on front street. How was my start of the week and sit of the week? Kirk Cousins was my Week 1 “Start of the Week”, and he had a bit of a stinker, going 23/40 for 240 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, for a total of 11 points in 1/2 PPR (1/2 PPR being the official scoring format of Pack to the Fantasy! … or something.) My Week 1 “Sit of the Week” was T.Y. Hilton, and he was certainly affected by the lack of Andrew Luck. He caught 3 of 7 targets for 57 yards and lost a fumble. So on to Week 2! (Remember… CTRL+F is your friend to find your players!)
Week 2 START OF THE WEEK (THE BIG CHEESE!)
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay
He will be toting the rock for Tampa in their first game of the season after Hurricane Irma washed away any hope of playing in Week 1. Chicago just lost Jerrell Freeman for the season and have allowed 9 rushing touchdowns in their last 4 games (dating back to last season). Fire him up as a strong RB2.
Week 2 SIT OF THE WEEK (THE LIMBURGER!)
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas
If Dallas wins, it will likely be because of a strong effort by Ezekiel Elliott, not by the wideouts who will be blanketed by one of the trio of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, or Bradley Roby. I do not like the aerial attack of the Dallas Cowboys this week, especially Bryant. He’s still a WR3 on talent alone.
Browns @ Ravens
- DeShone Kizer had some flashes of his athletic ability in Week 1, but he’s not an advisable start, with the Ravens poised to pitch another shutout. He does have a rapport with Corey Coleman, who is a dart throw flex play. The rest of the offense has no value this week, including Isaiah Crowell. After averaging less than 2 YPC in 17 touches, Crowell gets to face Baltimore’s stout run defense. No thanks! Browns D/ST? Don’t even think about it.
- After blanking the Bengals in Week 1, everybody wants to know if the Ravens D/ST has turned the corner back to relevancy. At least for this week, fire them up, they’re almost a virtual lock for multiple sacks, turnovers, and a coin flip shot at a TD. Terrence West and Buck Allen combined to touch the ball 40 times, but while the Browns’ interior might be more stout than Cincinnati, the game plan should be the same. Both are solid flex plays this week, with Allen getting the nod over West in PPR formats. Jeremy Maclin scored on a busted play last week, but only had 3 more targets, and Mike Wallace was a non-entity. Both are solid flex plays as well. If you need a QB in a dire way, Joe Flacco could be a desperation pickup in a good matchup, but it could also be very run heavy like Week 1.
Bears @ Buccaneers
- Chicago had the look of overachievers against Atlanta last Sunday, almost stealing the win away from the defending NFC champions. Unsure if that will continue, but for now, continue to start Jordan Howard behind that relatively solid line of his. Tampa has a solid front 7, but I’d plug him in as a safe RB2. He should have had a touchdown at the end of the game last week, but dropped it in the end zone. He did lead the team in total touches, but Tarik Cohen was dynamic out of the backfield in the passing game. He vaults into high-end flex consideration, possibly even a low end RB2 if you need a starter. Kevin White went on IR with a broken collarbone, so Chicago’s best receiver is Kendall Wright. I still would not pick anybody up from that receiving corp; I would adopt more of a wait-and-see approach with this group. Mike Glennon should be left on the wire, heading to Tampa to face his old team, where HC Dirk Koetter has all the tape in the world on him. Chicago’s D/ST should be hibernating on the waiver wire for Week 2.
- With DeSean Jackson now in the fold, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to key in on everybody in the Tampa offense. Especially Mike Evans, who made the leap to the NFL’s elite WR in 2016. Evans is a slam-dunk WR1 and Jackson should be a WR3. Jackson’s target numbers aren’t especially high, but we know what to expect with him. Boom or bust. Jacquizz Rodgers will carry the ball until Week 5, as Doug Martin is suspended by the NFL until then. Fire up Rodgers in a juicy matchup, making him a strong RB2. If you need a TE, Cameron Brate is one to keep tabs on. He gets into the slot quite a bit for a TE (64% of routes run from the slot, tops in NFL among TE) and fended off O.J. Howard in the preseason. As for Howard, he’s not an advisable play as of yet until we see his usage. Jameis Winston should have a field day in this one, taking advantage of the depleted Chicago defense. Start that man! Tampa’s D/ST is a solid play against a Chicago offense that has the capability to shut down at any time.
Bills @ Panthers
- LeSean McCoy is the standout fantasy option for Buffalo in Week 2 and will get his touches running the ball or through the air. Look for a ton of garbage time yardage and another great line. An easy RB1. Tyrod Taylor is iffy against a good Carolina secondary. They certainly are NOT the Jets. Leave him on the bench this week. As for Taylor’s receivers, fade out the wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones in this one. Charles Clay got 9 targets at TE, and at a thin position, can be started but temper expectations. I have zero expectations for the Buffalo D/ST. Take that as you will.
- Carolina should follow the same script as the win in San Francisco in Week 1. Running the ball with Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey and a low volume through the air. Unfortunately that would effect Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin mostly, even though they have an excellent matchup. Stewart is a safe low end RB2 and McCaffrey is a better RB2. As for the receivers, Olsen is a must-start every week, and Benjamin is an easy WR2. Cam Newton should have a relatively easy game as he did last week where he only needed 171 yards through the air. As always, start Newton. The Panthers D/ST should have a great game and is an advisable start.
Vikings @ Steelers
- The Vikings looked great against the Saints, but who doesn’t? Honestly! Gotta figure Adam Thielen isn’t sneaking up on anybody anymore. He’s legitimately turned himself into an every week fantasy starter. Thielen and Stefon Diggs are an excellent 1-2 punch for Sam Bradford, who got off to a hot start in 2017 against the New Orleans Village Bicycles. Do I buy it? Well if they can knock off Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, it would add some legitimacy. Dalvin Cook had an excellent beginning to his career, and while he faces a much stiffer test, the usage is there for him to succeed. Cook to me is a high-end RB2 with obvious upside. Diggs and Thielen are high end and middle of the road WR2’s, respectively. Bradford… can you trust him? If you’re desperate, plug him in, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Kyle Rudolph disappointed a bit with 3 targets, but I see that number rising. A solid start at TE. The Vikings D/ST, normally an advisable start. should be benched this week against Ben and Co.
- Antonio Brown did Antonio Brown things last week, showing why he’s the best receiver in the game. Top WR this week for me, an easy WR1. Martavis Bryant had a stinker last week, and you have to accept that as he starts to get back into the swing of things after his lengthy suspension. He is a true boom or bust player. But the boom elevates his value to that of a high end WR3 for the time being. Le’Veon Bell was a bit rusty after his hold out, as this is essentially his preseason. You can’t bench him though. TE Jesse James scored 2 red zone touchdowns but shouldn’t be starting as of yet unless you’re desperate. Ben Roethlisberger dominates at home. Start him and wave those towels! If you don’t buy into the Vikings offense, the Steelers D/ST is a decent play. Very volatile this week, however.
Patriots @ Saints
- Patriots with 10 days to prepare… yikes. I expect the Patriots to bounce back in a major way. Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski… start your studs. Mike Gillislee is even startable (low end RB2/Flex) with 3 touchdowns in Week 1. James White is pretty much the lead back as it stands though, and should be started in every PPR league on the planet. As for the Pats D/ST, I’d hold off, only because it should be a high scoring affair.
- Adrian Peterson only logged 15% of the snaps in the backfield for the Saints, so to me, that makes him benchable. Even droppable if you have a pickup you need to make. The other 2 running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, pretty much split the workload. Both are good flex plays, with Ingram higher in the pecking order. Michael Thomas is a high end WR1 this week and should have Stephon Gilmore covering him, who has a penchant for giving up the big play. Ted Ginn can be used as a low end WR3 after what Tyreek Hill did to the Patriots’ secondary. Minus Willie Snead, Coby Fleener looks like the beneficiary, so he can be started in the meantime. Death, taxes, Drew Brees in the Superdome. Start and watch the points roll in. Don’t even try it with the Saints D/ST.
Eagles @ Chiefs
- Carson Wentz going to Arrowhead could be a recipe for disaster, considering the Chiefs have held their last 6 foes under 20 points. Still, the Eagles have many fantasy options, including TE Zach Ertz, who was found early and often (8 rec., 93 yds.). Nelson Agholor had a great day, but I don’t trust it unless I see it again. Alshon Jeffrey shouldn’t draw Marcus Peters, so he should have an excellent day as a low end WR1. LeGarrette Blount scored a receiving touchdown last week (don’t count on that again!) but basically, him being on the field screams run almost every time to the defense. Darren Sproles played roughly half the snaps at RB and should be an easy PPR play at RB2 every week. Tough matchup for the Eagles D/ST, I’d bench them in Week 2.
- Kareem Hunt, is that guy any good? What a breakout for him on a national stage. He has another great matchup here. He only played 57% of the snaps at RB, but he should be getting many more in the weeks to come. High end RB2. I can’t foresee Alex Smith having a game like he did last week, where a good chunk of that was off of a busted play to Tyreek Hill. Pick him up and stash him, but I wouldn’t start him in Week 2. Hill’s line was largely comprised of a 75 yard TD on a busted coverage. He’s a solid WR3, but beware of the boom or bust nature. Travis Kelce does a lot of damage at home, but you’re not not starting him. Kansas City’s D/ST is an advisable start this week.
Titans @ Jaguars
- The Titans threw and slung the ball everywhere against Oakland in Week 1, but don’t expect that type of gameplan in Week 2. This is a matchup that favors DeMarco Murray, who should be in every lineup starting this week. As for the wideouts, I still have trepidation starting Corey Davis even though he had 10 targets last week. I’d like to see some consistency from him before I commit a starting lineup spot to him. Low-end flex play. Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker to me are flex plays as well, considering the opponent and gameplan. The highest upside of any receiver in this matchup is Delanie Walker, who is a must-start this week. So much attention will be on Davis and Matthews along with Murray that Walker could have some juicy matchups. Tennessee’s D/ST should garner some low end consideration.
- The Jaguars D/ST won’t register 10 sacks again. I virtually guarantee that. We’ll see if they are for real this week though. Leonard Fournette got some heavy, heavy volume last week and is an easy low end RB1. The game manager role that Blake Bortles is playing does nothing for him from a fantasy standpoint. Losing Allen Robinson makes the Jags’ pass catching situation dire and murky. I want no part of anybody, but if you asked me who would be the top option, it’d probably be Marquis Lee, but he’s a dart throw flex.
Cardinals @ Colts
- Ugh, do I have to? David Johnson is out for virtually all of the season, and I don’t want any piece of the scraps that are left over in Arizona’s running back room. They re-signed Chris Johnson to pair with Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington. So… that’s something. Carson Palmer isn’t quite done yet, even though he threw 3 interceptions last week. His connection to Larry Fitzgerald is still strong. Fitzgerald is a WR1 every week barring injury. Palmer is an iffy desperation start for now at QB. Arizona’s is an excellent start this week against the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts.
- For the Colts… Start nobody. I’m serious.
Jets @ Raiders
- So the Jets are making the trip west to the Bay Area… ouch. I almost want to say start nobody… but I’d probably take a flier on Bilal Powell getting some garbage time work. Forte got more snaps than Powell (60% to 52%) if you’re into that sort of thing. Jets D/ST is persona non grata.
- Start every starting Raiders offensive player. Even Jared Cook. He earned a bigger role in the offense catching all 5 targets in Week 1. The Raiders are 2 touchdown favorites at home this week, and that bodes well for Marshawn Lynch churning for yards and keeping the clock moving. Raiders D/ST can be safely started with a huge floor this week.
Dolphins @ Chargers
- Miami was the other team that had their Week 1 washed away because of Hurricane Irma, but they didn’t let Ryan Tannehill’s injury wash away their 2017 before it started. They went and signed professional football announcer and interception connoisseur Jay Cutler to take the QB job. For his sake, I hope he hands the ball off to Jay Ajayi early and often, as he’s a solid RB1 and bellcow, but that’s not the Cutler way, is it? He will force the ball into the hands of DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Jarvis Landry. Parker has the most obvious upside of the 3, and can be a difference maker on offense. For right now, Parker and Landry are WR3 and WR2, with Stills being a borderline flex play, but mostly staying on waiver wires. How many Cutler interceptions will we see this week? It’s good to have the maestro back where he belongs.
- Keenan Allen looked fantastic last week and only gets a BETTER matchup this week. Fire him up as a WR1 and one of the best plays of the week. Philip Rivers threw 3 touchdowns last Monday versus Denver, but he is a high floor play and could possibly work his way into a shootout. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry are both non-factors as it stands right now, but Tyrell Williams has flex appeal this week. Melvin Gordon? Oh yeah, give me that hoss. A bottom 1/3 run defense with his volume should equal paydirt this week. Any game Jay Cutler starts, the opposing defense is largely startable. I’ll buy into the Chargers D/ST this week. If nobody in Los Angeles cares about them, I will care, damn it.
49ers @ Seahawks
- The 49er options are dwindling in fantasy. Pierre Garcon has upside but he may draw Richard Sherman, which will limit his usefulness. Considering him a low end WR3 or even flex territory. Carlos Hyde grabbed 15 touches last week, but faces a more stout defense this week. He’s a flex play for me. As for the rest of the options… and going to Seattle… count me out.
- Seattle should adopt a run heavy approach to Week 2, where they play much better at home than on the road. The Seahawks’ backfield is still pretty murky though, with Chris Carson and Eddie Lacy muddling it up. Add Thomas Rawls and you have more questions than answers. I wouldn’t play any of them because it’s so difficult to hit on one. Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham should bounce back at home, both being must-starts, as well as the Seahawks D/ST.
Redskins @ Rams
- My man Kirk Cousins certainly bungled that Week 1 and unfortunately it doesn’t get any easier with Aaron Donald added into that stout defense from Week 1. He’s on the cusp of QB1 but if you have a better option, start him. I do really like Terrelle Pryor and so does Cousins. Pryor racked up 11 targets, now he just has to capitalize on them and be more efficient with them. Jordan Reed found himself swallowed up by the Eagles, but you don’t not start Jordan Reed when healthy. He should bounce back in a big way. Jamison Crowder is being split outside for the time being, which hampers his usefulness. I wouldn’t start him unless I was desperate. Same with the Redskins D/ST.
- Jared Goff dare I say, looked like a functional, competent NFL QB. It also helps when your defense tees off on the hapless Colts too. I’m not starting him, but I have an eye on him for right now. Todd Gurley gets the volume, but he’s woefully inefficient with his rushes (2.1 YPC). Cooper Kupp looks like the receiver to own in LA, and I would, but just to stash him away to see if he can get some consistency. The Rams D/ST has a ton of upside and is definitely worth a start this week.
Cowboys @ Broncos
- I can totally see Dallas getting locked down everywhere but their run game. Which will eventually open up holes in the passing game. That’s how valuable Ezekiel Elliott is to Dallas. Even in a bad matchup, you gotta fire up Elliott in your lineup. Dak Prescott is an iffy start for me, I would advise against him if possible. Dez Bryant is my “Sit of the Week”, I’m not confident in his ability to play in tough matchups and gut out elite performances. Low end WR3 for me. Any other Cowboy I would pretty much sit in this matchup, that goes for Terrence Williams and Jason Witten.
- Trevor Siemian played game manager for a bit and gutted out a nice win over the Chargers in Week 1 and he should have an easier time with Dallas’ secondary, which is now missing Orlando Scandrick after he broke his hand. Bump Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders up for this matchup, both are high end WR2 for this tilt. C.J. Anderson looked great in his bruising bowling ball style, but with surprising quickness. He is a high-floor RB2 with good upside. Denver’s D/ST should get a decent amount of play this week.
Lions @ Giants
- This matchup screams low scoring. Matthew Stafford has a nice showing versus Arizona, but faces a stiffer test with the Giants’ defense. He’s going to have to pass his way into a win, because the running game is spinning its tires. Ameer Abdullah can be a low end flex at best as he finds his footing in the Lions’ offense. Golden Tate had an excellent game, racking up 10 catches and moving everywhere in the formation. He’s a PPR maven and can be used as a low end WR1 in that format. Kenny Golladay for me is a wait and see, but if you missed the opportunity to grab him, you probably lost your shot. TE Eric Ebron can be streamed in your lineup if you need a TE, but you could probably do better. That last line perfectly sums up my feeling on the Lions D/ST: you could probably do better.
- The Giants offense looked atrocious on Sunday night… it was certainly offensive. Eli Manning clearly looks shot. If his last name wasn’t Manning, he’d be benched. He deserves to be, certainly in fantasy football. Or dropped. But add in Odell Beckham (WR1 every single week) from injury, and the entire dynamic of the offense changes. Brandon Marshall (WR4/flex) may be in the twilight of his career, but he can do better than 1 catch from last week. TE Evan Engram is a name to watch, as he was put all around the formation and is essentially a wideout in a tight end’s body. Big time upside, I don’t blame you if you pick him up and stash him. He’s that good. As is the Giants D/ST, who is definitely worth the start this week.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the extended fantasy preview of the Sunday Night Football matchup between Green Bay and Atlanta! Be sure to give a follow on Twitter to @PTTFantasy!