Week 1 of the NFL season offered much to dissect. Here’s a recap of last week’s games, followed by Week 2’s best bets:
WEEK 1 RECAP
Chiefs 34, Texans 20: The most interesting thing about rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s debut — besides the 138 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown — was he didn’t receive a single target (he’s an exceptional receiver). Kansas City’s offense didn’t need another playmaker.
Cardinals 24, 49ers 20: The only quarterbacks I have ranked above Kyler Murray (321 total yards, two total touchdowns against a good Niners defense) going forward are Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
Seahawks 38, Falcons 25: I predict Atlanta will find itself in plenty of games like this, which means invest in anyone associated with its passing game.
Bills 27, Jets 17: Sam Darnold is capable of being a good NFL quarterback, but his development is being impeded by a bad coach and a dearth of talent surrounding him.
Bears 27, Lions 23: Don’t overreact to Mitchell Trubisky’s fourth quarter (three touchdown passes). Lions are going to Lion.
Packers 43, Vikings 34: We are about to witness an all-time great “F-U” season from Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams will be the biggest beneficiary.
Patriots 21, Dolphins 11: Stay away from Miami’s backfield. Four players had at least five carries (including Ryan Fitzpatrick) and none of them reached double-digits — Myles Gaskin led with nine. It’s clearly a mess.
Football Team 27, Eagles 17: Tight end Logan Thomas receiving more targets (eight) than Terry McLaurin (seven) was a surprise — and disappointing.
Raiders 34, Panthers 30: No need to panic, but Christian McCaffrey only received four targets. Three wide receivers received at least eight. There were only two games in 2019 where McCaffrey received four or fewer targets.
Jaguars 27, Colts 20: Philip Rivers targeted his running backs 17 times against Jacksonville. Something to keep in mind if you are rostering Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines going forward.
Ravens 38, Browns 6: There’s a lot of personality on Cleveland’s offense. A lot of mouths to feed. If it doesn’t have a better showing this week against Cincinnati, things can get ugly real fast.
Chargers 16, Bengals 13: Austin Ekeler’s single target is concerning. He averaged almost seven targets in 2019. It’ll be hard for him to maintain his fantasy value if he sees significantly less opportunities in the passing game.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 23: Alvin Kamara looked like his dynamic self (he was banged up all last season). If Michael Thomas misses time with an ankle injury, Kamara owners should benefit greatly.
Rams 20, Cowboys 17: The Los Angeles defense held Dallas’ high-octane offense in check. Here’s its schedule until its bye week in November: at Philadelphia, at Buffalo, N.Y. Giants, at Washington, at San Francisco, Chicago and at Miami. Every single offense on this list has a question mark (or several question marks) attached to it.
Steelers 26, Giants 16: New York’s offensive line is a legit concern, but I’m not too worried about Saquon Barkley just yet — and I have him in multiple leagues. A talent like his usually finds a way (Barry Sanders didn’t have a bunch of All-Pros blocking for him). However, I am adjusting my expectations for his ceiling a bit.
Titans 16, Broncos 14: If Jonnu Smith gets seven targets per game, then we’re talking a top-10 tight end this season.
Follow me on Twitter @UTEddieBrown if you have questions throughout the week.
Here are my best bets for Week 2:
CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND
Obvious starters: Joe Mixon (CIN), Nick Chubb (CLE), Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE), Jarvis Landry (CLE).
Who to start: Despite finishing third among Bengals receivers in snaps and routes against the Chargers, A.J. Green (CIN) still received nine targets and has WR2 upside against a banged up Browns secondary. Tyler Boyd (CIN) deserves flex consideration against a pass defense that got torched by the Ravens. Kareem Hunt (CLE) is a premium flex option with upside after producing 81 total yards and four receptions last week.
Who to sit: Top overall pick Joe Burrow (CIN) didn’t look terrible in his first start, but we are a ways from counting on him in fantasy. Austin Hooper (CLE) is touchdown-dependent unless his target share increases. It’s hard to trust Baker Mayfield (CLE) after how bad he looked against the Ravens.
Sleeper: A legit pass rush against a rookie quarterback on a short week make the Browns D/ST a solid streaming option.
N.Y. GIANTS AT CHICAGO
Obvious starters: Saquon Barkley (NYG), Evan Engram (NYG), Allen Robinson (CHI).
Who to start: Darius Slayton (NYG) has four multi-touchdown performances in his last 10 games. Sterling Shepard (NYG) is a solid flex option in PPR with at least five receptions in nine of his last 11 games. A guaranteed double-digit touches keep David Montgomery (CHI) in the flex conversation. Tarik Cohen (CHI) deserves flex consideration in deeper PPR formats. A very bad offensive line and a turnover prone quarterback makes the inconsistent Bears D/ST a solid streaming candidate.
Who to sit: There aren’t any bye weeks so leave Daniel Jones (NYG) on your bench. Golden Tate (NYG) is still dealing with a hamstring issue. One quarter doesn’t constitute a breakthrough for Mitchell Trubisky (CHI). Jimmy Graham (CHI) remains a touchdown-dependent option at tight end.
Sleeper: A solid effort (76 yards and a score) against the Lions should earn Anthony Miller (CHI) more targets.
ATLANTA AT DALLAS
Obvious starters: Julio Jones (ATL), Todd Gurley (ATL), Calvin Ridley (ATL), Matt Ryan (ATL), Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), Amari Cooper (DAL), Dak Prescott (DAL).
Who to start: Hayden Hurst (ATL) appeared to be the odd-man out in a prolific passing game against the Seahawks, but now he faces a Cowboys defense who struggled mightily against tight ends last season. Russell Gage (ATL) is a premium flex option in PPR with at least five receptions in six of his last seven games. Michael Gallup (DAL) has WR2 upside against a weak Falcons secondary.
Who to sit: It’s all hands on deck in this potential assault on the scoreboard.
Sleeper: Rookie CeeDee Lamb (DAL) produced a decent debut (five receptions and 59 yards on six targets) and deserves flex consideration in deeper leagues.
DETROIT AT GREEN BAY
Obvious starters: Davante Adams (GB), Aaron Rodgers (GB), Aaron Jones (GB).
Who to start: I imagine Matthew Stafford (DET) will have to keep up with Rodgers in this one. Decent usage (eight targets against the Bears) makes Marvin Jones (DET) a solid flex option in a pinch. The potential of double-digit carries gives Adrian Peterson (DET) flex value in deeper standard leagues. T.J. Hockenson (DET) is a borderline TE1 in what should be a high-scoring affair. Allen Lazard (GB) is a decent flex flier in deeper standard leagues.
Who to sit: I’d take a wait-and-see approach with Kenny Golladay (DET) until he proves his injured hamstring is healthy. Kerryon Johnson (DET) is the one running back on the Lions I have absolutely no interest in. Danny Amendola (DET) is too inconsistent for my taste, but he does have value in the deepest PPR formats. Let’s see if Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB) can do it again before we invest. The Packers D/ST will be useful at some point this season, but not this week.
Sleeper(s): We should be talking about the two touchdowns D’Andre Swift (DET) scored in his debut, but he dropped the gimme. Fellow rookie Quintez Cephus (DET) actually led the Lions in targets (10) with Golladay sidelined.
JACKSONVILLE AT TENNESSEE
Obvious starters: D.J. Chark (JAX), Derrick Henry (TEN).
Who to start: High volume and decent production (90 total yards on 17 touches) give rookie James Robinson (JAX) flex value in most leagues. You are starting A.J. Brown (TEN) if his knee ailment isn’t too serious. Ryan Tannehill (TEN) will have a serviceable day against a young secondary. The Titans D/ST looks like it has developed a solid pass rush. Jonnu Smith (TEN) looked like a focal point in the passing game against the Broncos.
Who to sit: Chris Thompson (JAX) looks like nothing more than a change-of-pace back at this point. Gardner Minshew (JAX) is definitely one of my top streaming options at quarterback this season, but you shouldn’t have to utilize him just yet. Tyler Eifert (JAX) remains touchdown-dependent and injury-prone. I’d like to see if Corey Davis (TEN) can do it again — 101 yards on seven receptions was a solid opening week — and if his hamstring is healthy (he didn’t practice Wednesday). Adam Humphries (TEN) only deserves consideration in the deepest PPR formats.
Sleeper: I expect the Jaguars will continue to look for creative ways to get the ball in the hands of rookie Laviska Shenault (JAX). Consider him a flex flier if you’re in need.
MINNESOTA AT INDIANAPOLIS
Obvious starters: Dalvin Cook (MIN), Adam Thielen (MIN), Jonathan Taylor (IND), T.Y. Hilton (IND).
Who to start: This could be a sneaky offensive showcase, so Kirk Cousins (MIN) has value if you’re desperate. Nyheim Hines (IND) is a premium flex play with RB2 upside in PPR. Six receptions (on nine targets) give me confidence in Parris Campbell (IND) as a flex option. I’d start Jack Doyle (IND) if he gets the green light after dealing with ankle and knee issues this week. We’re dealing with a buy-low opportunity for Philip Rivers (IND) — a solid streaming option going forward.
Who to sit: The Vikings D/ST didn’t look like its old self against the Packers. Alexander Mattison (MIN) maintains value as the premier handcuff in fantasy, but he could also develop flex value in deeper leagues as a backup, eventually — he had 80 yards on 10 touches (including four receptions) in Week 1. Both Irv Smith (MIN) and Kyle Rudolph (MIN) look touchdown-dependent. I’m fading a decent Colts D/ST this week.
Sleeper: Rookie Justin Jefferson (MIN) needs more volume to be viable, but trust me, he has the goods.
BUFFALO AT MIAMI
Obvious starters: Josh Allen (BUF), Stefon Diggs (BUF), Bills D/ST.
Who to start: Devin Singletary (BUF) and rookie Zack Moss (BUF) both have flex value — Singletary for his dual-threat capabilities and Moss for his red-zone opportunities. I’d consider John Brown (BUF) a solid flex option if his foot ailment checks out. The volume should be there for Mike Gesicki (MIA) to be a TE1 this week.
Who to sit: Cole Beasley (BUF) only has value in the deepest of PPR leagues. The play-making Dawson Knox (BUF) needs more volume before we can trust him. The matchup and a lingering hamstring injury has me fading DeVante Parker (MIA). Jordan Howard (MIA) and Matt Breida (MIA) are both touchdown-dependent — the run game looked like a total mess against the Patriots.
Sleeper: Preston Williams (MIA) will be the top target in a passing game that will likely have to throw a bunch, especially if Parker is sidelined or limited.
SAN FRANCISCO AT N.Y. JETS
Obvious starters: Raheem Mostert (SF), 49ers D/ST.
Who to start: You’re starting George Kittle (SF) if he plays. If Josh Allen can light up the Jets secondary, so can Jimmy Garoppolo (SF). Jerick McKinnon (SF) showcased value in deeper PPR formats in his return to action. Breshad Perriman (NYJ) is a solid flex flier with Richard Sherman on IR and Jamison Crowder potentially sidelined.
Who to sit: Any fantasy value we were hoping for Tevin Coleman (SF) having might be undone by inconsistent usage. It’s too early, but Mohamed Sanu (SF) has familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s system and should develop into a trustworthy target. Jamison Crowder (NYJ) was the lone bright spot on the Jets offense last week and his status is clouded because of hamstring injury. This is a difficult matchup for Chris Herndon (NYJ). The ageless-wonder Frank Gore (NYJ) remains touchdown-dependent against his former team.
Sleeper: Rookie Brandon Aiyuk (SF) would be Garoppolo’s top target if Kittle is sidelined or limited.
L.A. RAMS AT PHILADELPHIA
Obvious starters: Robert Woods (LAR), Cooper Kupp (LAR), Tyler Higbee (LAR), Miles Sanders (PHI), Zach Ertz (PHI).
Who to start: Decent usage helps rookie Cam Akers (LAR) maintain flex value in deeper leagues. Usage and red-zone opportunities fuel the flex value of Malcolm Brown (LAR). Don’t be blinded by Ertz, Dallas Goedert (PHI) is a TE1 too.
Who to sit: I’m not afraid of using Jared Goff (LAR) here, but you probably have better options. Darrell Henderson (LAR) appears to be the odd-man out in this backfield trio. DeSean Jackson (PHI) remains a boom-or-bust option. Boston Scott (PHI) heads back to your fantasy bench with a healthy Sanders returning. I’m fading the Eagles D/ST this week, unless you can’t find a better option. Jalen Reagor (PHI) is certainly an exciting rookie to watch — his skills were definitely on display with that 55-yard reception — but he’s nothing more than a lottery ticket in fantasy at this point.
Sleeper: The Rams D/ST was solid against the Cowboys and now face an offensive line that gave up eight sacks to the Football Team.
DENVER AT PITTSBURGH
Obvious starters: Steelers D/ST.
Who to start: Healthy usage (six targets) and production — 81 yards (56 after the catch) and a score — give me confidence in Noah Fant (DEN) despite the difficult matchup. You’re starting JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) if he plays. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) always has value when he plays at home, even when there’s no fans to see it. Benny Snell (PIT) has flex value regardless of James Conner’s situation.
Who to sit: I’m fading Melvin Gordon (DEN) against a defense that destroyed Saquon Barkley last week. Phillip Lindsay (DEN) will likely be sidelined with a toe injury. Even if he plays, I’d like to see how Courtland Sutton (DEN) deals with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder before I trust him going forward. I like what I saw from rookie Jerry Jeudy (DEN) against the Titans, but like I said, this is a very difficult matchup. The Broncos D/ST appeared toothless without Von Miller. I don’t trust James Conner (PIT) when he’s supposedly healthy, let alone when he has a high-ankle sprain.
Sleeper: Eric Ebron (PIT) plays a defense that allowed seven receptions, 42 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends last week.
CAROLINA AT TAMPA BAY
Obvious starters: Christian McCaffrey (CAR), D.J. Moore (CAR), Mike Evans (TB), Tom Brady (TB).
Who to start: Curtis Samuel (CAR) maintains flex value in deeper PPR formats. You’re starting Chris Godwin (TB) if he makes it through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Almost 20 touches against the Saints places Ronald Jones (TB) firmly in the flex conversation. O.J. Howard (TB) is the tight end I want in the Bucs offense.
Who to sit: I’m fading Teddy Bridgewater (CAR) against an improving Buccaneers defense. Robby Anderson (CAR) won’t catch a 75-yard touchdown every week. It looks like Rob Gronkowski (TB) is only a touchdown-dependent option at this point in his career. We need to see higher usage to trust Leonard Fournette (TB).
Sleeper: The speedy Scotty Miller (TB) could turn into a PPR option if Brady continues to look his way — Miller had 73 yards on five receptions (six targets) and even had a carry for six yards last week.
WASHINGTON AT ARIZONA
Obvious starters: Terry McLaurin (WAS), DeAndre Hopkins (ARI), Kenyan Drake (ARI), Kyler Murray (ARI).
Who to start: Logan Thomas (WAS) appears to be the No. 2 target in the Football Team’s pass offense.
Who to sit: Peyton Barber (WAS) will always-and-forever be a touchdown-dependent option. I’ll be all-in if the Football Team D/ST can corral Murray the way they did Carson Wentz last week. Let’s see where the usage stands for Christian Kirk (ARI) and Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) after this week.
Sleeper: My gut tells me we see the big-play ability of rookie Antonio Gibson (WAS) on full display this week.
KANSAS CITY AT L.A. CHARGERS
Obvious starters: Patrick Mahomes (KC), Travis Kelce (KC), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC), Tyreek Hill (KC), Austin Ekeler (LAC), Keenan Allen (LAC), Hunter Henry (LAC).
Who to start: Sammy Watkins (KC) deserves flex consideration after another solid start to a season — 82 yards on seven receptions (nine targets) and a touchdown. The Chargers offense doesn’t scare anyone, so start the Chiefs D/ST with confidence. Big-play receiver Mike Williams (LAC) will need to be utilized if the Chargers have any hope of keeping up with the Chiefs. A potential of double-digit touches and goal-line work makes rookie Joshua Kelley (LAC) a solid flex option in deeper standard leagues.
Who to sit: Demarcus Robinson (KC) remains a lottery ticket. I’m fading the Chargers D/ST because it’s hard to trust any defense matched up with Mahomes.
Sleeper: Mecole Hardman (KC) has the highest upside of any flex flier simply because he plays with Mahomes in the Chiefs offense. Oh, and he’s freaky fast.
BALTIMORE AT HOUSTON
Obvious starters: Lamar Jackson (BAL), Mark Andrews (BAL), Ravens D/ST, Deshaun Watson (HOU), David Johnson (HOU), Will Fuller (HOU).
Who to start: Marquise Brown (BAL) is premium flex play with upside because of his big-play ability. I still favor Mark Ingram (BAL) as a flex option, but this is quickly becoming a timeshare. Rookie J.K. Dobbins (BAL) has flex value as well against a weak Texans run defense.
Who to sit: Willie Snead (BAL) is a touchdown-dependent option at receiver. Brandin Cooks (HOU) looked a lot like a decoy against the Chiefs. Duke Johnson (HOU) only has value in the deepest PPR formats. We can’t trust Randall Cobb (HOU) until we see a higher target share. Jordan Akins (HOU) is a touchdown-dependent option at tight end.
Sleeper: Miles Boykin (BAL) actually led the Ravens in routes run against the Browns. There’s flex value in the deepest standard leagues here.
NEW ENGLAND AT SEATTLE
Obvious starters: Cam Newton (NE), Patriots D/ST, Russell Wilson (SEA), Chris Carson (SEA), Tyler Lockett.
Who to start: Julian Edelman (NE) maintains flex value in most formats. James White (NE) maintains flex value in deeper PPR formats. The Seahawks D/ST are always a solid option at home, even without fans.
Who to sit: Sony Michel (NE) looks like a touchdown-dependent option at running back. This is a very difficult matchup for DK Metcalf (SEA). Greg Olsen (SEA) remains touchdown-dependent.
Sleeper: N’Keal Harry (NE) seems to have a solid rapport with Newton and will provide decent value as a flex play if you’re desperate this week.
NEW ORLEANS AT LAS VEGAS
Obvious starters: Alvin Kamara (NO), Jared Cook (NO), Saints D/ST, Josh Jacobs (LV), Darren Waller (LV).
Who to start: Emmanuel Sanders (NO) is a solid flex play if Michael Thomas is sidelined. I like rookie Henry Ruggs (LV) as a flex option this week. Ruggs flashed his big-play ability against the Panthers and narrowly missed a touchdown as he was tackled at the one-yard line.
Who to sit: Michael Thomas (NO) will likely miss time with a high-ankle sprain. Drew Brees (NO) barely registered any production with a healthy Thomas against the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, handing the ball to Jacobs doesn’t boost the fantasy value of Derek Carr (LV).
Sleeper: Latavius Murray (NO) has flex value in standard leagues thanks to the potential of at least 15 touches.
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