Fantasy football start 'em, sit 'em: Don't start any Raiders in Week 2
The biggest mistake fantasy owners make in Week 2? Assuming that everything that happened in Week 1 will just carry over.
While many of the big performances from last week are just setting the stage for a huge season (hey, Calvin Johnson! How’s it going, Matt Ryan?). Others are no more than a mirage. Each game is its own delicate ecosystem, with different environments, circumstances and stressors. What worked last week may not work against this week’s opponent. Something a team didn’t even show last week could be integral to its gameplan in Week 2. As hard as it may be to do, you have to forget some, but not all, of what occurred last week, and treat this week as a completely different entity.
Below are all of SI.com’s recommendations on who to start and who to sit for Week 2.
The following recommendations are based on 12-team leagues that start one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, one RB/WR flex, one tight end and one defense. However, to accommodate slightly deeper leagues, they extend to 14 quarterbacks and tight ends, 30 running backs and 40 receivers.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Steelers: Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton
Bell had a monster showing in Week 1, totaling 197 yards from scrimmage, six receptions and a touchdown. The 38-yard run for a score was especially impressive, showing a level of explosion unseen in his rookie year. A similarly skilled Giovani Bernard went for 110 total yards on 20 touches against the Ravens last week. Brown goes without saying, while Wheaton played nearly every snap last week, and caught six of his seven targets for 97 yards. The Ravens don’t field nearly the defense they once did. Wheaton is a strong WR3 option this week.
Ravens: Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta
Your co-leader for targets after the first week of the 2014 season is Pitta, who racked up 15 in the loss to the Bengals last week. Flacco will continue to throw the ball in his direction a ton, and he could be a monster in PPR leagues. Torrey Smith could see a lot of Ike Taylor, who struggled in coverage against the Browns. Expect this Smith, and not Steve, to be Flacco’s big target this week.
Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, LeGarrette Blount, Heath Miller, Steelers DST
It's quite possible that Roethlisberger is your best option at quarterback, depending on your roster. I have him outside the top-14, though, even with Brown, Bell and Wheaton all as starts. It has less to do with him, and more to do with the fact that there are just a lot of good quarterback matchups this week. I prefer Jake Locker against the Cowboys and Carson Palmer against the Giants.
Ravens: Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, Ravens DST
One of Pierce, Forsett or Taliaferro could very well emerge and become a fantasy weapon in Baltimore. Fantasy owners, however, should wait for some clarity on how the playing situation will shake out before trusting any of them as starters. There also exists a strong possibility that none will finish the season within the top 30 at the position. On a short week, it’s unadvisable to play any of them.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Dolphins: Knowshon Moreno, Mike Wallace, Dolphins DST
So much for Moreno struggling outside the friendly confines of the Denver offense, huh? He torched the Patriots for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, likely making him the long-term starter in Miami. Matt Forte blitzed Buffalo for 82 yards on 17 carries last week, and with the Dolphins opening as small favorites, they could very well be nursing a lead here late. Moreno is a strong play this week. Wallace was a target machine last week (he had 11), and the Buffalo secondary did not look good against the Bears’ pass catchers. Wallace has to be in all starting lineups. Cameron Wake and the Miami pass rush wreaked havoc on New England. They can do the very same to EJ Manuel and the Bills on Sunday.
Bills: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson
These two backs may limit each other’s ceiling, but they also both continue to produce starter’s numbers. Spiller had double the carries against the Bears in Week 1, but Jackson had eight more yards and put the game away with a 38-yard run in overtime. They both had three targets, as well. Expect this sort of division of labor all season. Even though Miami shut down the Patriots in the second half last week, Jackson and Spiller are top-30 backs this week. The Dolphins were much better against the pass than against the run a week ago.
Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay
Miller, who began as the starter last week, picked up 59 yards on 11 carries, and caught four of his five targets for 19 yards and a touchdown. Even though he seems to have ceded control of the starting job to Moreno, he still has a sizable role in the offense; he’s the superior receiver, and Moreno didn’t have one target last week. Forte had eight receptions against the Bills, so Miller could get significant playing time this week. He’s right on the fringe of flex consideration.
Bills: EJ Manuel, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Scott Chandler, Bills DST
Watkins played the entire game against the Bears last week, and he was frequently put in run-blocking situations, which is a good sign that his ribs are no longer a concern. However, he still shouldn’t be trusted as a starting option just yet unless you are very thin at receiver. Manuel threw for just 173 yards last week, and Watkins only had four targets. Let’s not get too excited about the Bills just yet.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Redskins
Jaguars: Toby Gerhart
A sprained ankle limited Gerhart’s touches against the Eagles, even though he returned later in the game. The Jaguars expect him to play on Sunday, and Washington presents a great matchup. Arian Foster piled up 103 yards on 27 carries, though part of the reason for the workload was because Houston was putting away the game in the fourth quarter.
Redskins: Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson
One of these days, everyone is going to wise up to what Washington has in Morris. All he did last week was run for 91 yards on 14 carries against what should be a pretty good Houston defense. Hopefully for Morris’ owners, Jay Gruden wises up to that sooner rather than later. Garcon had 12 targets last week, while Jackson had nine. The concerns about both of their workloads were overstated. They’re both, at worst, top-25 receivers against the Jaguars.
Jaguars: Chad Henne, Allen Hurns, Marqise, Lee, Cecil Shorts, Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars D
Hurns exploded in his first-ever NFL game, catching two touchdowns in the first quarter last week and finishing the day with four catches for 110 yards on nine targets (and those two scores). Chance are he’s going to be a focal point of the offense, but this is still the Jaguars, though. He’s limited by the offense he plays in, and Marqise Lee actually led the team with 10 targets. The preference here is still for Lee, but neither is worth starting this week.
Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Niles Paul, Redskins DST
If you just look at the box score from last week’s game against Houston, you'll probably think Griffin played pretty well. However, the Redskins offense scored only six points, and Griffin was under pressure on 22 of his 41 dropbacks. That led to a whole lot of dink and dunk passes, and not much of anything down the field. While his downfall remains greatly exaggerated, he’s not a top-14 quarterback this week.
Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans
Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten
Yes, last week was a dreadful performance for Romo and the entire Dallas passing game. Let’s just go ahead and burn the tape to that one. The 49ers are still the 49ers, even with all their missing players, and Romo’s interceptions could all be chalked up to terrible decisions. The Titans defense looked good last week, but it didn’t have to deal with any receiver remotely as good as Bryant. Their shutting down of Jamaal Charles owes as much to Andy Reid phasing out his best player as anything the Titans did defensively. You should be starting all your Cowboys with confidence.
Titans: Jake Locker, Shonn Greene, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Titans DST
Locker had one of his best games as a pro last week, going 22-for-33 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Dallas defense remains in disarray, and both Wright and Hunter can exploit matchups with corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Hunter is an especially strong bet for a huge game this week after getting eight targets against the Chiefs. Greene clearly has a stranglehold on the starter’s job in Tennessee, getting 15 carries for 71 yards while Bishop Sankey carried the ball just six times. Despite the well-founded confidence in the Dallas offense, Romo remains prone to mistakes, making the Titans one of the better defenses to stream this week.
Cowboys: Terrance Williams, Cowboys DST
Williams caught four of his seven targets for 50 yards and a touchdown last week, but a large part of the reason he received so many targets was due to Bryant's abbreviated absence. Assuming Bryant is fully healthy, Williams likely won’t see as many balls thrown in his direction this week. He had seven targets in a game just four times in all of 2013.
Titans: Bishop Sankey, Nate Washington, Delanie Walker
After getting six carries and playing just 11 of Tennessee’s 82 snaps last week, Sankey is clearly nothing more than a backup to Greene. He cannot be viewed as a fantasy starter in any situation until something changes. Walker did catch a touchdown pass last week, but he had only three receptions on four targets. Wright and Hunter will hog most of the spotlight against Dallas.
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
Cardinals: Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals DST
Ellington calmed the fears of a nation when he suited up on Monday night and played on 39 of Arizona’s 74 snaps, getting 18 touches for 80 yards. Despite Bruce Arians’ preseason protestations, 18-to-20 touches always felt like the realistic bounds for Ellington, so for him to do that in Week 1 with all his foot issues was encouraging. There is reason to believe that Palmer can do to the Giants what Matthew Stafford did last week, perhaps sans the rushing touchdown. Floyd looked dynamic the first week of the season, catching five passes for 119 yards, and he should be started every week. We can also forget about last week’s near no-show for Fitzgerald; get him in there confidently against the Giants.
Giants: Rashad Jennings, Victor Cruz
While Jennings struggled to get anything going running the ball behind the Giants offensive line, he flashed his versatility by catching four passes for 50 yards, just narrowly missing out on a receiving touchdown. He had 20 touches on Monday night, and that is likely to be about his weekly average. He also scored on a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter, so there’s little reason to worry about Andre Williams’ vulturing short-yardage scores.
Cardinals: Jonathan Dwyer, John Brown
Well that sure was a fun 72 hours of relevance for Dwyer. With Ellington’s foot apparently healthy -- though he did admittedly slow down in the fourth quarter -- Dwyer really doesn’t have any fantasy value. Brown, meanwhile, has plenty of value, and showed what he could do on a nifty catch and run for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown against the Chargers. But he’s still a deeper option, and not quite a starter for Week 2 in typical 12-team leagues.
Giants: Eli Manning, Andre Williams, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Larry Donnell, Giants DST
No team looked worse offensively in Week 1 than the Giants -- It’s clear that they are struggling to learn offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system. Couple that with a tough matchup against a strong defense, and you are going to want to stay away from most everyone on this offense. Manning is barely a worthy backup in traditional one-quarterback leagues given the way he looked in the preseason and against the Lions last week. If Jennings is indeed getting goal-line carries, there really isn’t a place for Williams on fantasy rosters. Do not cut him just yet, however. Let’s see the Giants turn to Jennings in short-yardage situations with consistency before jettisoning Williams.
New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Patriots: Tom Brady, Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski
Brady and the Patriots were absolutely dominated by the Dolphins’ pass rush, led by Cameron Wake, in the second half last week. Brady’s performance was undoubtedly frustrating for his fantasy owners, and there are real concerns about this offensive line, but he’s still a strong play against the Vikings, who do not feature quite as strong a front four. Vereen piled up 71 yards and a touchdown on 12 touches, while Edelman caught six of his nine targets for 95 yards. Rob Gronkowski, meanwhile, got 11 targets on just 25 routes run. Limited snaps don’t really mean a whole lot when you’re Gronkowski. If he plays in real life, he starts in fantasy leagues. Simple as that.
Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph
Patterson will likely be an ever greater fixture of the Minnesota gameplan with Peterson out. He's the only true downfield playmaker in the offense without Peterson, so expect the Vikings to force the ball in his direction. I wouldn't be surprised if he had 15 touches against the Patriots.
But while Patterson should be started, it seems that some already want to start engraving his plaque for Canton. He may have had the highlight-reel touchdown run last week, but he also had just three receptions on five targets for 26 yards. He’s supposed to be making his way as a receiver, remember. No one can count on the explosive plays to be there every week. Jennings led the team in receptions, yards and targets, and is a solid WR3/4 against the Patriots.
Patriots: Stevan Ridley, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola, Tim Wright, Patriots DST
Ridley got just eight carries in a game in which the Patriots led from the middle of the first quarter nearly all the way through the third. They didn’t really have a reason to eschew the run until the Dolphins took a 10-point lead with 3:29 left in the game, and yet they did. That does not bode well for Ridley’s long-term future, and it certainly doesn’t give fantasy owners enough confidence to start him this week.
Vikings: Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Cassel, Vikings DST
Even with Peterson out this week, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are not worth starting. Not everyone in the league is worth plugging into your lineup simply because they have opportunity. There still needs to be some underlying talent, and there isn't enough of it with Asiata or McKinnon this week.
Furthermore, without Peterson, the Vikings are likely to be chasing a few scores in this game. Expect Cassel to have to throw the ball around 40 times.The Vikings had two takeways, five sacks and allowed just six points last week, but the Patriots are not the Rams. They showed last week why the best defensive strategy in fantasy leagues can often be to play the matchups, but the Vikings D is not a unit that owners want to ride with on an every-week basis.
New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns
Saints: Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, Jimmy Graham
Brees owners had to be disappointed to see the Saints score 34 points but have their quarterback throw for just one touchdown. He could be in line for a monster day against a Browns defense that allowed Ben Roethlisberger to throw for 365 yards -- 10.7 yards per attempt -- and a score. Thomas and Ingram showed off the workload split that could be in place all year, with Ingram getting 13 carries while Thomas toted the ball seven times and had six receptions on seven targets. Both should start this week. Meanwhile, the pass-catching triumvirate of Colston, Cooks and Graham combined for 20 receptions, 269 yards and a touchdown. No member of the group had fewer than 8.2 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.
Browns: Terrance West, Jordan Cameron
With reports saying that Ben Tate is likely out two weeks because of his knee injury, West immediately becomes a starting option in fantasy leagues. He looked great in his career debut last week, running for 100 yards on 16 carries. Isaiah Crowell may have scored twice, but it was West who dominated the touches out of the backfield in Tate’s stead. The Falcons ran for 123 yards on 25 carries last week, good for 4.9 yards per carry. Cameron is considered questionable with a sprained shoulder suffered in last week’s loss to the Steelers. Keep a close eye on this situation, but if Cameron starts for the Browns, he should start for all his fantasy owners, too.
Saints: Khiry Robinson, Kenny Stills, Nick Toon, Saints DST
Robinson scored a touchdown last week, but he had just six carries to Ingram’s 13. Thomas’ role in the offense is safe, so if Robinson is going to gain a more significant share of the touches out of the backfield, he will have to wrest it from Ingram. After the Alabama product’s performance in Week 1, that seems unlikely, at least for the time being.
Browns: Brian Hoyer, Ben Tate (out), Isaiah Crowell, Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin, Taylor Gabriel, Browns DST
Don’t be bluffed by Crowell finding the end zone twice last week. He only had five carries, while West had 16. He will have a role in the offense with Tate out, but West is the man in Cleveland. Even if Josh Gordon’s suspension is overturned and he can play this Sunday, Hoyer should be on your bench. You would have to believe that Gordon has at least a little bit of rust that he would need to shake off if he’s all of a sudden eligible to play.
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals
Falcons: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White
Ryan proved just what he can do with Jones and White healthy in Week 1; he had the best game of his career last week, racking up 448 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime win over the Saints. Jones had seven grabs for 116 yards, while White caught five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals undoubtedly have a strong defense, but you’re starting these three players week in and week out. Jackson looked good against the Saints, though he only got 12 carries. The Bengals present a tough matchup for a running back, but Justin Forsett managed to pick up 70 yards on 11 carries last week. Jackson is a low-end RB2.
Bengals: Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green
Dalton saved his fantasy day in Week 1 with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Green with fewer than five minutes left in the Bengals’ win over the Ravens. Just as last week was a predictably bad matchup for Dalton, this week’s game with the Falcons should be one fantasy owners know he can exploit. Brees and the Saints essentially moved the ball at will against the Falcons last week, but you don’t have to be a future Hall of Fame quarterback to make that happen. Dalton and Green should both have big days. While Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Jeremy Hill will have a larger role in the offense in the future, it’s hard to imagine Bernard’s role decreasing much. He had 20 touches that he turned into 110 yards last week. After seeing what Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas did to the Falcons, he should be excited about this week’s game.
Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman, Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Levine Toilolo, Falcons DST
Rodgers appears to be safely ahead of Freeman on the depth chart, but safely behind Jackson. Even though his touchdown run last week was impressive, he just doesn’t get enough touches to count on him as a fantasy starter. Douglas had seven targets a week ago, while Hester had six, but Ryan isn’t going to put the ball in the air 43 times every week. We’ve seen Hester flash as a receiver before, then immediately recede back into the darkness. Douglas proved himself capable when Jones was out with a broken foot last year, but there just aren’t enough balls to go around to make him a starter this week.
Bengals: Jeremy Hill, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, Tyler Eifert (out), Jermaine Gresham, Bengals DST
Hill will be a very interesting player going forward. Keep a close eye on how Jackson’s promise to get Hill more involved manifests itself this week. He cannot be considered a starter for Week 2, but if he is on the field more frequently, and not just in short-yardage situations, we could have an intriguing timeshare on our hands. Gresham is the slightest bit tempting with Eifert out, but we’ve seen this movie before. Fantasy owners would be foolish to expect a different ending. Vontaze Burfict may not be able to play because of a concussion suffered last week, and this defense is a whole lot worse when he isn’t out there.
Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers
Lions: Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Lions DST
Some recommend sitting Stafford this week because of the matchup with the Panthers. Not here. In a league like today’s NFL, offenses drive the discussion. Even though the Panthers admittedly present a tough matchup, Stafford has to be started given all the weapons at his disposal. This is a very dangerous offense, and you want all your Lions in there this week. Tate impressed in his first game with the Lions, catching six passes for 93 yards. Bush and Bell split the workload just about down the middle. You can expect Bell to see more touches when the Lions are nursing a lead, as was the case last week. No matter if it’s Cam Newton or Derek Anderson under center for the Panthers, the Lions defense is a great option. They produced seven hurries, five hits, three sacks and two takeaways last week.
Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen, Panthers DST
Benjamin had eight targets last week, while Olsen had 11. Expect that to be the norm this season. The team is so devoid of other weapons in the offense that nearly everything will fall to these two. Newton is expected back this week, which is also good news for Benjamin and Olsen. With all the volume both of them should see, it’s going to be hard to ever put either on your bench. The defense picked up right where it left off, sacking Josh McCown three times and forcing three turnovers.
Lions: Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria, Eric Ebron
The Lions' hoarding of tight ends does these three a disservice when it comes to fantasy value. None can be trusted until, and unless, one emerges as the starter. One thing to note, however, is that Fauria was targeted twice in the end zone last week.
Panthers: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant
Newton is expected to play this week after missing the season-opening win over the Buccaneers with fractured ribs. Newton owners should be able to survive one more week with him on the bench so he can show us exactly what he has in the tank. This also isn’t the best matchup for anyone, least of all a quarterback nursing a rib injury. Williams looked good last week, running for 72 yards on 14 carries, but the Lions present a much different set of challenges than do the Buccaneers. Ndamukong Suh is one of the best run stuffers in the league, and he makes it hard to trust any Carolina running back this week.
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rams: Zac Stacy, Rams DST
Stacy got just 11 carries last week, as the Rams fell behind the Vikings early and were forced to pass the ball more often than they would normally like. All the familiar red flags with Stacy were still there. His long run was seven yards and he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. I have him not as an RB2, but as a flex play this week. The Rams defense didn’t quite get its doors blown off by the Vikings, as the latter managed a not overwhelming 345 yards of total offense. It did well against Adrian Peterson, allowing him just 75 yards on 21 carries. They should be able to make some things happen against Josh McCown and the Buccaneers.
Buccaneers: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Buccaneers DST
Week 1 was terrible all around for the Buccaneers offense. Doug Martin had just nine yards on nine carries and was forced to leave the game with a knee injury, Josh McCown threw for 183 yards and 5.2 yards per attempt and tight end Brandon Myers led the team in receptions (six) and receiving yards (41). That wasn’t exactly how they drew it up. Martin, Jackson and Evans should all be started this week, but fantasy owners should have a short leash with this team. The offensive line could be a real problem all year, and McCown was a career backup who was coaching high school football a few years ago for a reason. As for the Buccaneers defense, let’s just say that you want to take advantage of Austin Davis. The Vikings sure did.
Rams: Austin Davis, Benny Cunningham, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook
Cunningham ran for more yards per carry than Stacy, but he had just five totes. The one guy who is of any interest here is Quick. He had seven catches on nine targets for 99 yards last week, and should have been added in nearly all fantasy leagues earlier this week. He dominated the middle of the field for the Rams, and at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds can be an imposing force. I’m not starting him this week, but he’s a guy to keep an eye on. He could definitely, at worst, be a factor when the bye weeks begin.
Buccaneers: Josh McCown, Bobby Rainey, Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Speaking of interesting players, fantasy owners would be wise to keep watch over Seferian-Jenkins. He had a couple targets early, catching one of them for 26 yards, before leaving due to injury. Myers got eight targets with Seferian-Jenkins on the sideline. If he is indeed the starter in Tampa Bay and on the field for a significant portion of their snaps, he’d be worth an immediate pick-up in many leagues.
Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers
Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch, Percy Harvin, Seahawks DST
It seems Lynch had a message for all the fantasy owners who downgraded him heading into the season. He ran all over the Packers on opening night, picking up 110 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The Chargers just allowed the Cardinals to run for 4.2 yards per carry on 26 carries, and you can bet Lynch will once again be the focal point of the Seattle attack. Harvin played in just 39 of Seattle’s 70 snaps last week, but he had seven targets and four rushing attempts. Even if he’s out there for a limited number of snaps again, he will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. These San Diego corners can be exploited, and the Seahawks have a knack for getting Harvin in space and creating tough matchups for their opponents.
Chargers: Ryan Mathews, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates
Mathews got just 14 touches against the Cardinals last week, but he ground out a useful game for his fantasy owners, getting 60 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. This is obviously a very tough matchup, but it isn’t a death sentence for running backs. It would take a lot more than a game against the Seahawks to force Mathews to fantasy benches. It was just one game, but I’m a little concerned about Allen. While he had nine targets last week, just one was deep down the field. The Seattle secondary shut down Aaron Rodgers last week, so Allen’s ceiling is pretty low for Week 2. Still, you show me 40 better receivers. Finally, Gates had a team-high 10 targets last week while Ladarius Green had two and only played 24 snaps. Gates is still the tight end to own in San Diego.
Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller
Last week was a perfect example of why Wilson is a great real-life quarterback, but not quite yet a guy you start every single week in fantasy leagues. The Seahawks ran the ball 37 times and threw it 28 times against Green Bay. Wilson didn’t make any mistakes, but he also had just 191 yards and 6.8 yards per attempt. This isn’t a bad matchup for him, but you can likely do better at quarterback in Week 2.
Chargers: Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal, Ladarius Green, Chargers DST
The Seahawks shut down Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game last week, holding the best quarterback in the league to 189 yards and 5.7 yards per attempt. That doesn’t exactly portend of good things to come for Rivers. He struggled in his own right against the Cardinals, and it will likely only be tougher with Seattle in town this weekend. Green was a preseason darling, but he has yet to unseat the veteran Gates as the starter for the Chargers. There isn’t a whole lot to like about San Diego’s offense this week.
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
Texans: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Texans DST
Foster had a nice game last week, running for 103 yards and a touchdown, and adding 17 yards through the air. Let’s acknowledge, however, that he needed 27 carries to get to 103 yards, translating to just 3.8 yards per carry. The good news here is that he looked completely healthy, and that bodes well in what should be a very good matchup with the Raiders. They allowed a combined 170 yards on 23 carries to Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory last week. Another iffy quarterback situation, and yet Andre Johnson keeps on putting up numbers. He caught six of his nine targets for 93 yards last week. The Raiders secondary will be overmatched when he comes calling. Even without Jadaveon Clowney, the Texans’ defense is one of the best options this week. J.J. Watt was all over the field against Washington in Week 1, and the Raiders’ offensive line just doesn’t have an answer for him. Expect him to be doubled or chipped by a running back or tight end all afternoon.
Congratulations if you had Week 2 in your “Oh wow, the Raiders really don’t have anyone worth starting in fantasy leagues” pool. Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden were the only potential saving grace, and they combined for 26 yards on 13 carries last week. This is a depressing offense. The Raiders’ greatest contribution to the fantasy community will be its attractiveness for streaming defenses playing them.
Texans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeAndre Hopkins, C.J. Fiedorowicz
Hopkins just barely missed the cut. He had four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown last week. However, the score went for 76 yards. Just like we discussed with Cordarrelle Patterson a bit earlier, no player can count on the huge play being there every single week. Hopkins slots in just behind guys like Greg Jennings, Markus Wheaton and Kelvin Benjamin.
Raiders: Literally everyone
Derek Carr, Jones-Drew, McFadden, all the below-average receivers, and of course the defense. Oh, for the days of Rich Gannon, Charlie Garner and Tim Brown. Or Daryle Lamonica and Fred Biletnikoff. Or Ken Stabler and John Madden. Or even Jeff George and Napoleon Kaufman.
New York Jets at Green Bay Packers
Jets: Chris Johnson, Eric Decker
Johnson was about the least sexy pick a fantasy owner could make a few weeks ago, but he always goes about his business. He ran for 68 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 28 yards and a touchdown last week. He may be no Marshawn Lynch, but this Green Bay defense is susceptible to the run. The Jets will take advantage of that with both Johnson and Chris Ivory, though only the former is worth starting in Week 2. Decker caught five of his six targets for 74 yards against the Raiders last week. You can bet he will continue to rack up the targets, and that volume alone will make him a WR3, at worst, in most weeks. One red flag, however, is the strong positive grade for both Sam Shields and Tramon Williams in coverage last week.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Packers DST
The Jets are not the Seahawks. After Green Bay got the season off to a halting start in Seattle last week, expect Rodgers and company to light up the scoreboard in their home opener. That means no more wasted touchdowns on John Kuhn. Nelson and Cobb are both in line for big days, as we first discussed in our Week 2 projections. Nelson got two end-zone targets last week, and those are as good as fantasy gold. The bet here is that Lacy is able to play, despite suffering a concussion last week. If he does, he needs to start for his fantasy owners.
Jets: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro, Jets DST
Smith had a very efficient game against the Raiders, completing 23 of his 28 pass attempts for 221 yards, 7.9 yards per attempt, one touchdown and one interception. He also added 38 rushing yards, nearly the equivalent of another passing touchdown. Still, there’s a long way from that performance against the Raiders and the circle of trust of a starting fantasy quarterback in one-quarterback leagues. Ivory ripped off the big 71-yard touchdown run last week, but he’s still more a depth fantasy back than a reliable starter.
Packers: James Starks, Jarrett Boykin, Andrew Quarless
Starks and Lacy would flip-flop spots here if the latter is unable to play. It’s a situation we’ll monitor as we get closer to Sunday. Boykin didn’t get a target against the Seahawks last week, and it’s hard to throw him in there as a starter when you have your full complement of receivers available to you. Quarless is expected to start with Richard Rodgers likely out, but the Packers haven’t gotten anything from the tight end position in years.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce
I feel pretty safe saying that Andy Reid will get Charles more than 11 touches this week. Getting the ball in your best player’s hands just 11 times could have something to do with scoring 10 points last week. The best thing about Charles is that even if the Broncos blow out the Chiefs, he’s such a weapon as a receiver that he can’t be phased out of the gameplan. Kelce somehow only played in 19 of the Chiefs’ 58 snaps last week, though he did get five targets. Expect him to be out there a lot more on Sunday.
Broncos: Peyton Manning, Montee Ball, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas, Broncos DST
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a fantasy writer who’s a bigger Locker fan than I am, but if he threw for 266 yards, 8.1 yards per attempt and two touchdowns against the Chiefs last week, just imagine what Manning can do. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Sanders are all automatic starts every single week. This Chiefs defense is depleted after season-ending injuries to Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito. The Broncos will take advantage. Ball’s surface numbers may not look impressive, but no back had fewer yards before contact than he did last week. That he was able to get to 67 yards is a testament to his abilities.
Chiefs: Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano, Chiefs DST
Smith fell apart in Kansas City’s loss to the Titans, and not all of that can be blamed on Bowe’s absence. He may have to throw the ball a lot on Sunday, and a heavier dose of Charles will certainly help, but he’s not a top-14 quarterback this week. Avery racked up an impressive 13 targets last week, though a large part of that was because of the marginalizing of both Charles and Kelce, and Bowe’s suspension. With none of those in play this week (we hope), Avery’s targets should come way down.
Broncos: Andre Caldwell, Cody Latimer
These two receivers are way down the totem pole for the Broncos. Even though Latimer didn't play one snap last week, I'd rather have him than Caldwell. The latter is just a guy, and is likely just keeping a spot warm for Wes Welker. Latimer definitely has some breakout potential for later in the season. Neither should be near a starting lineup this week.
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett
The Bears suffered one of the most disappointing losses of Week 1, but all of their pertinent fantasy players produced, other than Jeffery, and that was only because of injury. Cutler rolled up 349 yards and two touchdowns, though he did throw two picks. Forte had 169 total yards. Marshall caught eight passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Bennett also had eight receptions for 70 yards and a score of his own. Even Jeffery, who was limited by injury, caught five balls for 71 yards. This team is an offensive force. You want these guys active every week.
49ers: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, 49ers DST
As good as the Bears’ offense might be, their defense could be just as bad. EJ Manuel looked comfortable against them in Week 1, and C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for 114 yards on 22 carries. Even Anthony Dixon ripped off a 47-yard run against them last week. That is great news for Gore, Hyde and Kaepernick. With the way Hyde ran against the Cowboys, he’ll have to get more carries on Sunday night. Expect the 49ers to lean on the run this week. It also makes sense, given the Bears explosiveness on offense, that the 49ers would want to limit possessions in this game. That’s why Crabtree and Boldin are both just inside the top-40 receivers. Both of them should be in most starting lineups.
Bears: Santonio Holmes, Bears DST
The Bears cut Micheal Spurlock earlier this week, a sign that Holmes is locked in as the team’s third wide receiver. He got five targets a week ago, and could be an option in deeper leagues when the bye weeks hit. This is a defense, however, that is not an option except in the greatest of matchups.
49ers: Steve Johnson
Given the likelihood of the 49ers pounding the ball on the ground against the Bears, fantasy owners can’t possibly start the team’s third wide receiver. All of your other fantasy-relevant 49ers should be active.
Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
Eagles: Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz
It took the Eagles a while to get going last week, but once they did, it was the same old machine the fantasy community got used to last season. The offense scored 27 points in the second half, with Foles throwing for 173 yards and two touchdowns. It speaks to how good McCoy is that, after a game in which he had 115 yards from scrimmage, there were questions from readers on Twitter asking if they should be worried about him. Brent Celek was on the field for more snaps than Ertz, but the latter ran more routes. You know what Julius Thomas did to the Colts last week. Expect Ertz to be heavily involved on Monday night. Sproles got 15 touches a week ago. If he can hit that number game after game, he’ll be a solid flex play all season. With the 11 guys the Colts run out there on defense, it’s definitely worth rolling the dice on Sproles this week.
Colts: Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen
The Colts defense is bad and their running game is potentially even worse. That’s great news for Luck’s fantasy owners. He is going to have to put up huge numbers this year if the Colts are going to defend their AFC South crown. The immortal Chad Henne was able to put up 266 yards and two touchdowns on this Eagles defense last week. Luck should be able to surpass those numbers. Hilton may be the big-play guy now, but Wayne still looks like Luck’s favorite receiver. Both are strong plays in Week 2. Allen had four catches on five targets for 64 yards and a score a week ago. He’s definitely the tight end to own in Indianapolis.
Eagles: Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Brent Celek, Eagles DST
Cooper had seven targets last week, but he caught four of them for a paltry 29 yards. Matthews had just two catches on four targets. They both appear to be running behind Maclin and Ertz in the passing game. As such, they cannot be trusted as more than depth for the time being.
Colts: Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Coby Fleener, Colts DST
Richardson is quite simply not a fantasy option at all. I wouldn’t have any problem cutting him altogether. Bradshaw has to be the lead back in Indianapolis. I was tempted to make him a start recommendation this week, but I don’t think Chuck Pagano is fully on board with the idea of Bradshaw supplanting Richardson just yet. This offense isn’t going to support two tight ends as fantasy options, and Allen is clearly ahead of Fleener in the pecking order. Nicks did manage to score last weak, but most the routes he ran were of the short and intermediate variety.