Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Week 2
If you need a full reminder of the considerations that go into the weekly Fantasy Football Power Rankings, check out last week’s intro. The short-version reminder is that these power rankings are for fantasy football purposes only and a snapshot of this week only. If a playing time and/or usage situation remains murky, that hurts a team’s ranking since all parties involved are less reliable to roll out as fantasy options until things clear up. A perfect example is the RBBC in Seattle. Depending on the league size, a few of those backs could be rosterable, but none can be trusted as fantasy starters this week, and that hurts Seattle’s ranking.
|31||Colts (vs. Cardinals)|
|30||Ravens (vs. Browns)|
|28||Bears (@ Buccaneers)|
|27||Browns (@ Ravens)|
|26||Jaguars (vs. Titans)|
|25||Giants (vs. Lions)|
|24||Bengals (vs. Texans)|
|23||Bills (@ Panthers)|
|22||Texans (@ Bengals)|
|21||Cardinals (@ Colts)|
The bottom three teams have zero must-start players. The Jets totaled 214 yards on offense, per Pro-Football Reference, and Matt Forte played more snaps than Bilal Powell. T.Y. Hilton was drafted as a WR1, but it’s hard to trust him on the Andrew Luck-less Colts against the talented secondary of the Cardinals that features lock-down corner Patrick Peterson. He’s a flex play at best. The Ravens defense is a strong play, but no one else is a lock to deserve starting this week. They attempted only 17 passes in a 20-0 shutout of the Bengals. Sure, Jeremy Maclin reeled in a touchdown and had 56 yards on his two catches, but he’s more of a bench option in a game Baltimore should be able to lean on their running game in again. Speaking of the running game, Terrance West led the backfield with 80 yards rushing and a touchdown, but Javorius “Buck” Allen led the team in carries with 21 for 71 yards, and he played 33 offensive snaps to West’s 27. West feels like the better bet of the two as a touchdown-reliant RB2/Flex.
Carlos Hyde has a tough-as-nails matchup against the Seahawks, but after catching all six of his targets for 32 yards and playing 79% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps, he’s a safe option based on volume alone. The Bears lost Kevin White for the season, and Jordan Howard’s stock takes a bit of a hit after playing just 57% of Chicago’s offensive snaps and watching rookie Tarik Cohen shine. Cohen ripped off 113 yards from scrimmage on five carries for 66 yards and eight receptions for 47 yards and a score. He was the most targeted Bear with twice as many targets (12) as the next most targeted option, tight end Zach Miller. Howard reached pay dirt on the ground on 13 carries for 52 yards, and he did catch three of five targets for 14 yards. Howard remains a RB2, but now more of a low-end RB2 while Cohen is a deep-league option at RB2 or flex with the Bears likely to play catch up.
The Browns are a two-man show from a fantasy perspective with Isaiah Crowell touching the ball 19 times and amassing 66 yards from scrimmage on 79% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps played. The preseason rapport demonstrated between rookie QB DeShone Kizer and second-year receiver Corey Coleman carried over to the regular season with Coleman posting a 5-53-1 line on six targets. He’s a fringe WR3/Flex. The Jaguars are a one-man show on offense with Allen Robinson out for the year, but Fournette is a hell of a focal point of the offense. Against the stout defensive front of the Texans, Fournette rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and even added three receptions on three targets for 24 yards. The Giants embarrassed themselves in prime time without Odell Beckham Jr. Given the fact his status for the game was in question up until Sunday, it seems likely he’ll play this weekend, and he’s an elite talent. I trust no one else on that offense, however, if you’re desperate at running back in PPR leagues, it’s worth noting Shane Vereen led the Giants in targets (10) and receptions (nine) while racking up 51 yards receiving.
The Bengals have an elite talent at wide receiver of their own. A.J. Green caught five passes on 10 targets for 74 yards in a disastrous opener for the Bengals. Tyler Eifert was awful catching his lone target for four yards, but he should still be viewed as a starter. After Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson combined to take 10 sacks last week, the Bengals defense is usable based on sack upside. The short week of preparation for a Thursday Night Football game aids the cause of using Cinci’s defense, too. The Bills force fed LeSean McCoy 27 touches, and Shady responded with 110 yards rushing and 49 yards receiving. After Hyde amassed 45 yards on nine carries and 32 receiving yards on six receptions against the Panthers in Week 1, Shady’s a good bet to best all of those marks this week.
The Texans have three starters for fantasy purposes this week, and their defense might be the highest scorer of the bunch. The Bengals allowed five sacks in their opener, and Andy Dalton responded to the pressure by throwing four picks and losing a fumble. The Bengals defense was gashed by the combo of West and Allen, and Lamar Miller is a better back than that duo. DeAndre Hopkins was targeted 16 times and turned them into seven receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. It’s not an efficient line, but the volume will keep his value afloat despite sub-par QB play. The Cardinals’ nosedive in ranking should come as no surprise with David Johnson almost certainly missing this week and likely many more. I had lofty expectations for Carson Palmer after his finish to 2016 and excellent 2015 campaign, but he was a wreck against the Lions in Week 1. Still, they’ll need to air it out to compensate for the loss of their do-it-all back, and Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are the beneficiaries. The Colts’ ineptitude even makes fill-in, committee backs Kerwyn Williams and Andre Ellington — at least in PPR leagues for the latter — considerations. The Cardinals defense is the best fantasy commodity this week, however, after the Colts allowed two defensive touchdowns and a safety while turning the ball over three times and surrendering four sacks against the Rams.
|20||Panthers (vs. Bills)|
|19||Redskins (@ Rams)|
|18||Eagles (@ Chiefs)|
|17||Rams (vs. Redskins)|
|16||Broncos (vs. Cowboys)|
|15||Lions (@ Giants)|
|14||Dolphins (@ Chargers)|
|13||Cowboys (@ Broncos)|
|12||Chargers (vs. Dolphins)|
|11||Seahawks (vs. 49ers)|
Cam Newton wasn’t sharp in the opener, and I remain skeptical of his fantasy outlook. The Panthers are 7.5-point favorites, and the Bills face a steep step up in competition. Newton’s rustiness held Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen back last week, but both remain fantasy starters. Christian McCafrey was impressive in his regular season debut with 85 yards from scrimmage on 13 carries and five receptions, and he’s an RB2. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 65 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards and a score, and the spread could lead to a game flow that results in a similar output this week. The Panthers defense is also a rock solid option against Shady and not a heck of a lot else.
The Redskins and Eagles opposed each other in Week 1, and they’re back-to-back in the rankings. Both have starting caliber No. 1 receivers in Terrelle Pryor and Alshon Jeffery and fantasy starters at tight end in Jordan Reed and Zach Ertz. Kirk Cousins looked bad without former offensive coordinator and current Rams head coach Sean McVay, but I wouldn’t jump ship on him as a starter. Carson Wentz looked sharp, but he’s not startable against Kansas City’s defense after they held Tom Brady in check. They did give up three rushing touchdowns to Mike Gillislee, so that makes former Patriot goal-line back LeGarrette Blount a touchdown-chasing option. Darren Sproles has some PPR appeal after pass-catching back James White recorded 68 yards from scrimmage and three receptions against the Chiefs, and Sproles totaled 45 yards from scrimmage and tied for Eagles’ lead in targets with eight — he turned those into five receptions for 43 yards. If you’re the gambling type, Nelson Agholor could be worth a start. Slot receiver Danny Amendola torched the Chiefs for 100 yards on six receptions, and Agholor thrived in the slot in Week 1 with a 6-86-1 line.
Sticking on the theme of slot receivers who had success last week, rookie Cooper Kupp caught four balls for 76 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Sammy Watkins was efficient reeling in all five of his targets for 58 yards, and while Todd Gurley did’t fully take advantage of a cushy matchup, he did touch the ball 24 times and total 96 yards from scrimmage with a score. They’re all fantasy starters, and the Rams defense is, too. Aaron Donald should be back this week and add to a defense that’s not light on talent and hummed with Wade Phillips calling the shots as the defensive coordinator, albeit against a Scott Tolzien-led — and later Jacoby Brissett-led — offense.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were 1,000-plus yard receivers last year, but neither surpassed 70 yards receiving in the opener. Don’t overreact to one game, though. C.J. Anderson looked more like the end of 2015 version of himself than the one who struggled before having his 2016 season cut short by injury. Anderson rushed for 81 yards on 20 carries and reeled in one of three targets for seven yards. Jamaal Charles was a change-of-pace option who rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries, but he did get some work in the red zone. In fairness, it’s worth noting Anderson had a touchdown wiped off the board due to illegal motion, and I suspect Anderson will get more goal-line work than Charles. The Broncos defense didn’t force a ton of turnovers or rack up a bunch of sacks, but they were stingy and held the Chargers to under 250 yards. They’re not a defense to sit in favor of a stream play.
Matthew Stafford was great in Week 1 ripping the Cardinals for 292 yards passing and four touchdowns after opening the game with a pick-six. He has a much easier assignment this week and is a slam-dunk starter. Ditto for Golden Tate coming of of a 10-107 line on 12 targets. Rookie Kenny Golladay balled out with 4-69-2 on seven targets and played on 62% of Detroit’s offensive snaps, and there’s this nugget from NFL.com’s Matt Harmon as well. Eric Ebron was quiet in Week 1, but he played 72% of Detroit’s offensive snaps, and the Giants were beaten up by Jason Witten for 7-59-1. Ebron’s in the discussion for low-end starter this week. Ameer Abdullah was also unimpressive with just 41 yards from scrimmage, but he did carry the ball 15 times and add three receptions, so the volume alone puts him in the low-end RB2/flex range.
The Dolphins had a bye in Week 1 as a result of Hurricane Irma. After the Chargers struggled against the combo of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, Jay Ajayi won’t make things any easier this week. Receivers Devante Parker and Jarvis Landry join him as fantasy starters. The Cowboys have a tough draw against Denver’s stingy defense in Denver, but Ezekiel Elliott is a stud and ditto for Dez Bryant. The matchup does mean gamers who own Dak Prescott and have a solid backup should consider sitting Prescott, though. The Chargers are top heavy, but Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen are must-start players every week, and Tyrell Williams actually led the Chargers with 54 yards receiving while tying Gordon and Allen for the team lead in receptions with five. He’s playable as a flex, namely in PPR leagues. Hunter Henry was a major disappointment without a single target and should be benched this week.
The Seahawks’ offensive line remains a problem, but the rebuilding 49ers are a far easier draw than the Packers in Green Bay. Seattle is a 12-point favorite at home. Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, and the defense are all no-brainer plays.
|10||Vikings (@ Steelers)|
|9||Titans (@ Jaguars)|
|8||Buccaneers (vs. Bears)|
|7||Chiefs (vs. Eagles)|
|6||Saints (vs. Patriots)|
This was the toughest grouping to rank. The Vikings shined in the first game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader, but they faced the Saints, so it’s probably not wise to peg them as the second coming of the 1998 Vikings that scored 556 points just yet, but Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen looked great. Each is an easy decision to start until further notice. Kyle Rudolph was targeted only three times, but he found pay dirt and caught all three balls for 26 yards with the TD, and he’s a fantasy starter as well.
The Titans have a tougher challenge, and their top-end talent is probably a tick behind Minnesota’s, but they offer more depth. Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and Delanie Walker are easy starts, the defense looks streamable, and I’m bullish on Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis after the former caught five of nine targets for 71 yards and the latter led the team in targets with 10 targets and turned them into six grabs for 69 yards. Also, both get a boost from the team running more three-wide receiver sets in the opener than last year, as Matt Harmon pointed out on Twitter. Harmon also tweeted this impressive bit of info about Davis.
The Buccaneers were on bye with the Dolphins, but their highly intriguing offense will take aim at the Bears as 6.5-point favorites and an implied team total of 24.75 points. Mike Evans and Jameis Winston are the crown jewels of the offense and the top fantasy plays, but offseason addition DeSean Jackson is a solid starter as well. With Doug Martin suspended, game flow should play out well for Jacquizz Rodgers, making him an RB2 with 20-touch potential. The Buccaneers are a great steam option on defense this week, and if you’re a Hunter Henry owner in a league with either or both of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard available, you could do worse than casting a dart in their direction.
The Chiefs fantasy talent is consolidated among three players — and their defense, which is a weekly starting unit — but boy are those three players really good. Kareem Hunt was a show-stealer in the opener coming up just two receiving yards short of reaching triple-digit yardage on the ground (148) and in the air (98). He scored once on the ground and twice through the air on five receptions. Tyreek Hill busted out for 7-133-1 on eight targets and even carried the ball twice for five yards. Andy Reid is going to continue to get him the ball, and his home-run ability will result in more big lines like this as the season goes along. Travis Kelce had a ho-hum game with five receptions on seven targets for 40 yards receiving, but he is poised for a big week against a Redskins squad that was awful defending tight ends last year and was torched by Ertz for 93 yards on eight receptions last week.
The Saints stunk in the opener against the Vikings, but they’re at home this week. Drew Brees has been a fire-breathing monster at home, and in 2014, 2015, and 2016 he averaged 311.3 yards passing per game (Y/G), 356.6 Y/G, and 345.9 Y/G, respectively, with 59 touchdown passes in 24 games in that three-year window. He hosts a New England defense that made Alex Smith look like a stud carving them up for 368 yards passing and four touchdowns. Michael Thomas had a rough go of it against the Vikings catching five of eight targets for 45 yards receiving, but he’s a WR1 in a game that should be a shootout. Other pass catchers who are starting worthy from the Saints this week include Ted Ginn and Coby Fleener. Fleener had a 5-54-1 line and could continue to step up in the absence of Willie Snead. The Saints’ backfield touches won’t be as consolidated as those from the Chiefs last week, but after watching Hunt spank the Patriots, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are enticing plays. Kamara led the backfield in snaps played (31 of 62) with Ingram a bit behind him (26) and Adrian Peterson (nine) hardly playing at all, according to the snap count from Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus (PFF).
5- Steelers (vs. Vikings)
Brees isn’t the only quarterback who’s played substantially better at home in recent seasons. The same can be said for Ben Roethlisberger. In 2014, he tallied 347.3 Y/G, 23 touchdown passes, and four interceptions in eight games at home. In 2015, he ripped off 348.0 Y/G, 16 touchdown passes, and seven interceptions in six games at home. Last year, he schooled defenses for 319.2 Y/G, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions in six games at home. He’s simply a different player at home, and a no-doubt fantasy starter there. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell don’t require analysis beyond play them every single week and watch them pile up points. Martavis Bryant is the other fantasy option on Pittsburgh. He was quiet in the season opener with just two receptions for 14 yards on six targets, but the most important number, in my opinion, is his 83% of offensive snaps played. As I jumped right into Pittsburgh’s analysis, Big Ben plays much better at home than on the road, and that helps Bryant’s case for bouncing back from his disappointing first game after missing all of last year due to suspension. The Steelers’ fall in the rankings is less about them and more about the matchups for the other top-5 teams.
4- Raiders (vs. Jets)
The Raiders looked sharp in a week in which most teams were far from clicking on all cylinders. Derek Carr passed for 262 yards and a pair of scores on 32 attempts spreading the wealth to Amari Cooper (13 targets, 5-62-1), Michael Crabtree (seven targets, 6-83-0), and newcomer Jared Cook (five targets, 5-56). The quartet are great starting options against the hapless Jets, and Marshawn Lynch looked good in rumbling for 76 yards on 18 carries and adding a reception for 16 yards in Week 1. He could be asked to run the ball more when the Raiders inevitably race out to a big lead against the visiting Jets. Oakland is a 13.5-point favorite with an implied team total of 28.5 points. Their defense is a stream option this week.
3- Falcons (vs. Packers)
The Falcons weren’t the well-oiled machine that reached the Super Bowl last year, but Matt Ryan still passed for 321 yards on just 30 attempts in the opener. They’re also at home this week, and the game’s over/under total of 53.5 points with the Falcons favored by 2.5 points, is quite fantasy friendly. Julio Jones is a threat for the top scoring total at wide receiver on a weekly basis, and last year in the NFC Championship game he torched the Packers for 180 yards and a pair of scores in Atlanta. In that same playoff contest, Devonta Freeman rumbled for 42 yards on the ground and added 42 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air. Backup running back Tevin Coleman ran for 29 yards and a score and caught three passes for 35 yards. The running game struggled to get in a groove in Week 1, but Freeman’s an RB1 this week and Coleman’s an RB2/flex option in a game with such an eye-popping total. Austin Hooper is a fringe starter at tight end after catching both of his targets for 128 yards and a score. Hooper’s touchdown was an 88-yard reception that included a vicious stiff arm that can be seen here.
2- Patriots (@ Saints)
I tend to avoid narratives, but an angry Tom Brady should pummel the Saints this week. After all, Sam Bradford went 27-for-32 for 346 yards passing and three touchdowns. Nothing against Bradford, but he’s no Brady. Brandin Cooks caught three of seven targets for 88 yards and should have little trouble torching his former team. The Saints ranked 28th defending tight ends last year, per Football Outsiders (FO), and they should be just what Rob Gronkowski needs to wash the bad taste out of his mouth after catching just two passes for 33 yards on six targets last week. Chris Hogan generated a ton of buzz after Julian Edelman went down for the year in the third preseason game, and Hogan proceeded to post a woeful line of three rushes for 17 yards and one reception for eight yards. He was on the field for 90% of New England’s offensive snaps last week, though, and he’s worth rolling back out there again this week as a WR3 with big upside. Mike Gillislee was the most productive Patriot with 15 carries for 45 yards and three touchdowns. He was out touched and out snapped by James White. White rushed 10 times for 38 yards and caught three of five targets for 30 receiving yards. FO ranked the Saints dead last defending running backs in the passing game last year. Gillislee and White both get the green light this week despite the murkiness of the playing time distribution in the backfield.
1- Packers (@ Falcons)
I discussed the Packers getting blown out in the playoffs against the Falcons last year above, and Green Bay is a 2.5-point underdog on the road. A strong case could be made for dropping them below the Patriots and the Falcons, but Aaron Rodgers is coming off of a 311-yard passing performance against the much tougher Seahawks defense. Rodgers is the ring leader of the offense, but there are a ton of weapons to love in this one, starting with his No. 1 receiver. Jordy Nelson led the NFL in touchdown receptions last year, and he started his 2017 campaign with a TD grab and seven receptions for 79 yards. Randall Cobb looked a lot more like the dynamic player he was in 2014 than the one who battled injuries in 2015 and 2016 in the opener, and he led the Packers in targets (13), receptions (nine), and receiving yards (85). Davante Adams broke out last year ranking tied for second in the NFL in touchdown receptions (12) while coming up just short of 1,000 yards with 997 on 75 grabs. He was targeted seven times and caught three passes for 47 yards against the Seahawks. That brings the total to four fantasy starters, and I’m not done. Martellus Bennett caught three of six targets for 43 yards, and Ty Montgomery was a bell cow carrying the ball 19 times for 54 yards and a touchdown while adding four receptions for 39 yards. Montgomery played 74 of 82 offensive snaps. Atlanta ranked 25th defending running backs in the passing game, per FO, and they allowed the most receptions (109), targets (141), receiving yards (87), and tied for the most touchdown receptions (six) allowed to running backs last year, according to Pro-Football Reference. They showed no signs of shoring up that issue against the Bears with Tarik Cohen catching eight of 12 targets for 47 yards and a score, and Jordan Howard adding three receptions for 14 yards. Green Bay’s offense is a treasure trove of fantasy goodies this week.