- Discussing the players desperate for a strong performance in Week 2 to kick off the Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet
Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups and kick up your feet. Let’s get to it.
In nine out of 10 situations, it's too early to be worried just yet. After Week 2, however, fantasy owners could be mashing that panic button. Who do you think needs a strong game in Week 2 to prevent his owners from feeling like their season is slipping away?
Michael Beller: I’m going to go what I think is a bit off-script and say Chris Hogan. I was not in on the Hogan hype this offseason, largely because that even without Julian Edelman, Hogan was, at best, the No. 2 pass-catcher in the Patriots’ offense. We saw that dynamic on display in Week 1, with Rob Gronkowski catching seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Hogan catching one for 11 yards. He got five targets, but that was fewer than James White (nine) and Phillip Dorsett (seven). Hogan had a fine season last year despite losing seven games to injury, catching 34 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns. Still, those numbers translate to a 16-game pace of 60.4 catches, 780.4 yards and 8.9 touchdowns, and the fantasy community was willing to extrapolate those to treat him like a top-20 receiver. Much of Hogan’s value last year was tied up in finding the end zone, and there are few, if any, stats more volatile than receiving touchdowns. With Edelman’s return looming in Week 5, Hogan needs to start stringing together a couple of good games to hold down a role in the offense that makes him a bankable fantasy player.
Stephen Andress: The player that instantly came to mind: Amari Cooper. Personally, I never understood his ADP in the late-third/early-fourth this season as WR16 off the board. I own zero shares of him because the sample size was big enough to warrant major consistency concerns. In 2017, a receiver needed to average 12.5 points to be a top-24 PPR option. In 2016, it was, you guessed it, 12.5 PPR points. After his dreadful Week 1 performance, Cooper has failed to reach that mark in 21 of 33 weeks, going back to the start of the 2016 season. All the while, Matt Harmon's Reception Perception charted Cooper as one of the worst in the league in contested catch rate, he struggled in man/press coverage, and added weight going into this season. What might be most concerning is that Derek Carr only threw to him three times in Week 1 in a game where the Raiders trailed most of the second half. Now he faces Denver on the road in Week 2, a team he's failed to reach 60 yards against in each of their last four meetings, with a combined 18 yards in the last two. Sell. Sell. Sell.
Chris Allen: I’m going to cheat and select two players because they’re playing each other in Week 2. The Texans-Titans game is full of intrigue, but for the wrong reasons. I know we’re not supposed to panic, but who isn’t worried about Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota? Watson had an early fourth-round draft cost in 12-team leagues and literally fumbled on his first play in 2018. An 11-point outing was not what fantasy GM’s were expecting, and there’s little sign of things improving. DeAndre Hopkins is already dealing with an injury, Will Fuller isn’t completely healthy yet, and their already poor offensive line lost starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson. Granted, Bill Belichick had months to scheme against Watson, but there were too many mistakes. He showed a lack of pocket awareness. His passes were off the mark. He looked very much like a quarterback coming off a major injury who didn’t play in the preseason, and only had six NFL starts in his career. The Titans offer a better matchup defensively, but Watson needs a QB1 performance to instill the confidence fantasy owners had at the height of draft season.
On the other side of that same game, we have Mariota. His season started on the wrong foot before it even began, with Rishard Matthews disappearance during the offseason and subsequent injury. He looked lost in limited duty during the preseason, and then lost Delanie Walker for the year in Week 1. On top of that, he suffered an elbow injury of his own, and while the team is optimistic, the negativity surrounding this offense continues to pile up. The Tennessee front office was praised for their forward-thinking mentality in hiring both Mike Vrabel and Matt LaFleur, and the assumption of rational coaching leads me to believe the offense will be tailored to Mariota’s strengths without Delanie Walker. If not, the only solace fantasy players can find in drafting Mariota is that his cost should allow them to pivot to other quarterback options without completely ruining their season.
Jennifer Eakins: Faith in Derrick Henry needs some restoration this week, or else owners may just have to think about moving on altogether. He was off to a steady start in Miami in Week 1, earning eight touches before Dion Lewis even saw the ball, but the game script eventually flipped, leaving Henry with just 11 total touches to Lewis’ 21. It also doesn’t help that the third-year back scored just 0.37 PPR points per touch while fellow Lewis ended with an impressive 1.05. Henry’s overall lack of effectiveness is certainly a cause for concern, especially with Lewis totaling 110 yards and a score on his 21 touches. For now, Henry is considered a touchdown-or-bust flex play this week. That will remain the case going forward, unless he can prove to bring more than one dimension to the table in the Titans backfield.