Fantasy football is a game of small sample sizes, this season smaller than most. We had next to no information to start this season with reduced reporting and no preseason games to draw helpful usage info from. Because of this we need to rely on our superior preseason research and making the appropriate adjustments once the season starts. One week of games is not enough to make me completely change my mind on any player yet, but it does start to let us see what teams want to do.
One thing to be careful of is overreacting and forgetting that we knew some teams were going to start slow. If you have players from teams with a new QB, HC, or OC then give them extra time figure things out and don’t cut bait too quickly. It’s a weekly game and even if you start 0-2 there is plenty of time to turn things around. Be patient and don’t go dropping players that we had as starters. If you want to let go some of our bench stashes, that is fine. Now let’s get some W’s this week.
Over Easy matchups of the week
(games with a high total score providing fertile fantasy soil)
Dal/Atl Total 53.5: Atlanta will probably be a mainstay in this space all season thanks to high play volume, an awesome offense and terrible defense. After Dallas was terrorized by Aaron Donald last week they get one of the worst pass rushes in the league in week two. I want all three Dallas receivers, and expect Hurst to replace Gage in the Falcons three man group.
Hou/Bal Total 50: The Chiefs put up 34 on the Texans a week ago and now the Ravens will meet them. Baltimore has the highest implied team total and it should be a smash spot for all the main players. If Houston can keep it close then we might get an idea of how this Ravens run game will go, but I think you are fine to start Ingram and Dobbins. After the Ravens D crushed the Browns last week I am avoiding all Texans players outside of David Johnson and Will Fuller, yes including Watson.
Det/GB Total 50: Aaron Rodgers came out firing last week and gets a Lions D that gave up three fourth quarter TD’s to a Trubisky led Bears squad a week ago. You have to wonder if the Packers will get back to their #EstablishingIt ways, or if the air raid will continue here. I am starting Rodgers/Jones/Adams either way, but I feel better about MVS than Lazard. For the Lions, with Golladay out I am queuing up Stafford and Jones with certainty, Cephus and Swift had good usage while avoiding AP. Hockensen is the wild card in the offense, he wasn’t a big part of the game plan last week, but could see more usage here. I find myself wanting to stay away from most Lions players as I could see GB either dominating or this game hitting the under.
Deviled Egg matchups of the week
(games without a high ceiling that we want to limit exposure in)
There are a lot of low scoring games this week, but this is the worst three. The first two games figure to have one team get the majority of the points and the last be closer than we would have thought a month ago.
Den/Pit Total 40.5: I see Pitt getting way ahead in this game and then coasting. Denver could score the lowest points on the slate against this staunch defense. I’m bumping all Steelers pass catchers a little and avoiding almost all Broncos if you have a decent alternative. With Sutton set to return it makes it hard to trust Fant or Jeudy. MG3 should have a hard time against the Pitt D.
Buf/Mia Total 41: Buffalo should lead in scoring and figures to have one of the highest scoring D’s of the week. The Dolphins may be without Parker for the week and figure to have a similar week to last week against the Pats. Better days are ahead for the Fins, but back-to-back games against the divisional powerhouses is not it. This could be Zack Moss’s coming out party after he saw similar usage to Singletary last week on fewer snaps.
SF/NYJ 41: Two injury ravaged teams go at it in week two. I think this will be the lowest scoring game on the slate and could be done while the other games are in the third quarter thanks to a lot of ineffective rushing on both sides. Mostert should have the volume and ability to go off, but the loss of Kittle will hurt this rushing attack. Brandon Aiyuk makes his debut, but I am not starting him here. Herndon could make a very nice TE play as he’ll eat all of the volume in this Jets offense. Do not start Frank Gore.
Soft Boiled Egg plays of the week
(A new section where we highlight the week’s largest favorites to target their ‘running’ game.)
49er’s, Packers, Steelers, Bucs, Titans, Cards, Chiefs, Ravens
It’s going to be a great week of football when there are EIGHT teams that are a TD favorite. If you have a fringe starter RB in these games, then give them a bump over other flex plays. The Steelers are an interesting conundrum for fantasy owners to navigate. A potentially massive payout if you guess right between Conner and Snell. I favor Conner over Snell as I believe he is healthy and was held out last week because they didn’t need him against an overmatches Giants squad.
Sunny-Side Up plays of the week
(Fringe starters or bench players you should get in your lineup. You don’t need me to tell you to start your studs, but this are other players worthy of consideration. Especially if some of your studs are banged up or in a bad matchup.)
Last week’s calls did not go so well thanks to some unexpected game scripts and lack of knowing any team’s game plan. We look to rebound with this week’s fringe flex starters. A reminder we are targeting the RB3, WR4 tier or lower of players here and not telling you to start Ezekiel Elliott.
QB: Big Ben Roethlisberger, Pit- Such a great debut to give us confidence in his arm. Made the most of an easy matchup on Monday night. Denver is a tougher matchup, but I think this Pitt offense is matchup proof and Big Ben will again be a QB1.
Other considerations: Daniel Jones, NYG; Cam Newton, NE
RB: Zack Moss, Buf- A gift matchup against the Dolphins. Moss had good usage in week one and gets a good spot here to show what he has. He got the goal line carries which is what we need to know. He may split those with Allen, but as long as he is on the field we want him.
Ronald Jones, TB: Smash spot against the Panthers after Josh Jacobs crushed them last week. Fournette is not competition in this backfield and McCoy shouldn’t get too many snaps as it should be a positive game script. The RoJo show starts here.
Other considerations: Nyheim Hines, Ind; Raheem Mostert, SF; Mark Ingram/JK Dobbin, Bal (One of them is going to go off and potentially both; see Chubb/Hunt from Thurs)
WR: Parris Campbell, Ind- He’s in such a good spot as his role continues to develop in this offense. I remain very excited to see where he goes this season.
Diontae Johnson, Pit- Saw the target share and air yards we have been dreaming of all offseason. With Big Ben healthy it is time to start Johnson every week.
John Brown, Buf- Gets the Dolphins. The Bills showed they are willing to air it out even with a lead last week, they figure to be in the lead for most of this game and the lower ADoT from Josh Allen has benefitted Brown thus far and I think he’ll have another good week here.
Other considerations: Corey Davis, Ten; CeeDee Lamb, Dal; Christian Kirk, Ari; Scotty Miller, TB
TE: Hayden Hurst, Atl- Hurst was the odd man out last week against Seattle as it was all the WR’s. I think Hurst will be in the place of Gage this week. He might not be an every week option, but very few TE’s are.
Other considerations: Dallas Goedert, Phi; Evan Engram, NYG (seems forgotten after getting the Pitt D in week one, don’t forget him)
Eggs Benedict players of the week
(Top players that are set to betray your lineup. These are stud players that have a higher chance to bust than in their usual matchup. Their output from this week will likely be below their season average. I try to keep this to starter caliber players and not pick on RB4/5 or players outside flex consideration.)
Deshaun Watson, Hou- I’m avoiding Baltimore’s D for offenses that don’t seem to have things figured out and Houston didn’t have things figured out in week one. They did have the most time to prepare of any team for week two, but I just don’t see it coming together as they figure out life without Hopkins.
Josh Jacobs, LV- Picking week ones highest RB score to disappoint in week two. Jacobs had perfect game script and the weakest matchup last week. He gets a tough Saints D in week two and will probably be off the field on obvious passing downs. If he gets it done this week then he is an every week starter moving forward.
Melvin Gordon, Den- Pitt D shut down Barkley last week and MG3 is no Saquon. Volume will be on his side and he helps out in the receiving game, but he could get blanked here.
Others who will be below average: CMC will be below his usual output against TB, but like Kamara he gets enough receiving work to stay in lineups. The Jets D is superb, but I believe Mostert will carry enough volume to score well.
DK Metcalf, Sea- I think Metcalf is going to get the Gilmore treatment here and the Pats will live with what Lockett does to them.
Tyreek Hill, KC- Hill has struggled against the Chargers in the past. I don’t think he is an avoid, but a lower your expectations. If you are truly stacked at receiver I could see sitting him, but likely you will want to increase risk by targeting some higher-ceiling/ lower-floor types in other positions.
Others who will be below average: Marvin Jones, Det (will either smash with over 20 or fall with less than 10); Keenan Allen, LAC (didn’t see former Rivers-level volume in week one and I believe Chargers will try to keep running all game)
Noah Fant, Den- Fant was the beneficiary of Sutton missing Monday night’s game. With Sutton set to play this week and a tough matchup against the Steelers I am fading the rising star.
(Weekly kicker and defense streaming options)
Last week review
DST scoring varies so much by league, we will use ESPN standard scoring, the place they finished on the week and the Value Over Replacement Player (Difference in points between the defense and the number 12 defense, or last starter in a twelve team league):
DST 1: Chargers 12 points T-3rd, VORP 8 points
DST 2: Eagles 5 points T-9th, VORP 1 point
DST 3: Titans 3 points T-15th, VORP -1 point
Overall, seven defenses finished in double figures. The only other defense widely available that finished in the top ten was Washington. If we had known earlier in the week that the Eagles would be without half their OL, then we would have had them as a recommendation. Still, a solid week with two defenses coming in the top ten in points.
Kicker 1: Younghoe Koo 9 points T-10th, VORP 0 points
Kicker 2: Dan Bailey 4 points T-24th, VORP -5 points (eliminated by game script when the Vikings fell behind early and had to go for two down the stretch.)
Overall, nine kickers reached double digits in week one. Koo was in a three way tie for tenth and only three points out of first place.
Week Two recommendations:
DST 1: Kansas City Chiefs: The Chargers looked pretty bad against the Bengals in week one. They will play a ball control offense against the high powered Chiefs and fall behind early. Their center is injured and Chris Jones is going to have a fun day against his replacement.
DST 2: Washington Football Teamers: This could backfire in a huge way if Kyler is able to escape the pass rush or Kingsbury coaches an intelligent game in ways that the Eagles staff didn’t. This pass rush is legit and all of our other top options are heavily owned.
If you need someone deeper than these two, than look for Tampa Bay (dominant defense will look better not playing the Saints), Arizona (decent pass rush, Haskins turnovers), Seattle (could get out to a big lead and force Cam to pass without much around him, minimal pass rush has me staying away, but if you’re desperate game script should be on their side).
Kicker 1: Mason Crosby- Heavy favorite with a large point total playing at home.
Kicker 2: Ryan Succop- Another big home favorite. Neither kicker this week plays in a dome, but both are heavy favorites and should see a lot of opportunity.
If Zane Gonzalez (66% owned, doesn’t qualify for official recommendation) isn’t owned in your league then he should be priority add in the Arizona offense. At home to the Washington team, they could get stuck in the red zone quite a bit when the field collapses and the pass rush has more time to get home.
Hard Boiled Eggs
(guessing next week’s top waiver picks)
Most of the list from last week is a good bet for this week too.
RB: Josh Kelley is working his way into the Melvin Gordon role. Chris Thompson figures to see more work in a worse game script. Jerick McKinnon had a stand out week one and has the opportunity to add to it in a heavy ground game against a tough Jets D that sells out to stop the run. If Damien Harris was dropped in your league, then add him to your IR, he’ll be back week four.
WR: Corey Davis will go this week without AJ Brown. He should be seen as WR3 with WR2 upside this week against Jax. Mike Williams was heavily targeted last week and could see more this week against the Chiefs as the Chargers play catchup. N’Keal Harry will have his first chance to shine against the Seahawks. He fumbled away a TD last week, but Cam had his back. Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Reagor, Laviska Shenault, Bryan Edwards all rookie WR’s who should start to thrive sooner rather than later. Parris Campbell is just over 50%, but should be closer to 75-80% as the slot man for the Colts, he has Keenan Allen’s role from the Chargers and Indy is without TE’s for the week.
TE: Dallas Goedert is 70% owned, but should be 90-100% owned. He will be a top 10 TE this year. Chris Herndon is a big target monster without Crowder in NY. Logan Thomas (LT3) is another target monster in Washington who should continue to see strong volume moving forward. I believe Thomas is going to be this year’s Darren Waller and if you drafted a fringe TE you should add him to your team as a very capable back-up.
(players we should target in trades)
We probably won’t be able to get too many trades processed before Sunday, but anyone ranked top ten before the season I am still high on. It will take at least three or four weeks before I am bailing on most of these players. It’s difficult to buy low, but I would try, especially on Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, James Conner, Melvin Gordon and any of the injured wide receivers if their managers are panicked (Mike Evans and Kenny Golladay). Michael Thomas with his high-ankle sprain has me worried because it has ruined so many receivers. I wouldn’t sell Thomas for anything less than a top 20 player, but I wouldn’t blame you if you cut bait.
(random thoughts about the week)
From a pick ‘em standpoint this week is quite boring. Yahoo has 13/16 games where one team has been picked by 80% of people. We also had a large number of TD favorites mentioned above. So the actual action is not expected to be super interesting, hopefully our fantasy game stays interesting. This week will give us two weeks worth of usage information to make rest of season inferences on. Last week we were looking to see how backfield touches would be broken down and while we still need to confirm our assumptions there, it is time to focus more on pace and run/pass splits. Teams that are running with a higher pace offer more potential for fantasy goodness and learning how teams break down their play calling will help us determine how we should value their players. I am especially interested in New England, Seattle and Buffalo as they had the biggest changes from expectation. If Seattle lets Russ cook again early, then we need to bump Lockett and Metcalf way up our rankings and target them aggressively, even if they are expensive, in trades. If Buffalo is going to air it out again, then Josh Allen becomes an interesting trade target, as do Brown and Diggs. There is a lot to learn about teams and this week we get our second look. We’ll review on Monday/Tuesday.