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Week 2 Sleeper Starts & Busts (Fantasy Football)

Sep 14, 2017

Charles Clay is Tyrod Taylor’s most trusted weapon

As if lineup decisions aren’t hard enough, week 1 was filled with surprises as studs looked like duds and the combination of Alex Smith/Kareem Hunt would have nearly guaranteed you a victory. If there’s one thing we know about football, though, it’s that surprises are to be expected, but they aren’t always so random.

Throughout much of last week, we warned of Dez Bryant’s matchup and he ended up stinking on the final stat sheet. That’s not a shot at Dez and his talent, but matchups do make a difference. Game script is another factor in a player’s outlook. Considering these factors, our featured pundits are naming their week 2 sleepers and busts.

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Q1. Give us a player outside of our top 100 Flex that represents a deep sleeper start and tell us why you think he has upside this week.

Charles Clay (TE – BUF): @ CAR
“Clay has been locked in as Tyrod Taylor’s top option in the passing game dating back to last December. In those 5 games, Clay has hauled in 25 catches for 282 yards and 5 scores. He’s averaged nearly 8 targets per game during that stretch, making him a medium ceiling, yet safe-floor tight end with potential for more. The Bills square off against the Panthers this week, a team that allowed the 2nd-most points to opposing tight ends last season. That puts Clay in the TE1 conversation this week, making him a solid start at TE, or at the FLEX spot in deeper leagues.”
– Seth Klein (The Fantasy Fix)

Charles Clay and the Bills have a difficult Week 2 matchup with the Panthers. However, over his last five games dating to last season, Clay has been targeted 39 times, catching 25 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns. If he’s not a top-10 TE this week, you’re overthinking.”
– John Halpin (

Jermaine Kearse (WR – NYJ): @ OAK
“I’m not usually one for targeting Jets players, but Jermaine Kearse< (currently ranked at 123) is set up for a week where he should outplay his current ranking. Kearse was barely in New York for a week before Week 1’s game against the Bills and still led the Jets in targets. Quite a few of those were dump-offs, but it’s clear that Josh McCown is comfortable with the veteran. While McCown may not hold onto his job for very long, Kearse should get plenty of looks in Week 2 against the Raiders, and has a good chance to find the end zone as he represents McCown’s best red zone option.”
– Nick Raducanu (ProjectRoto)

Antonio Gates (TE – LAC): vs. MIA
“Call me crazy, but this is the week that Antonio Gates finally breaks the all-time touchdown record. He out-snapped the ever-so-popular Hunter Henry 38 to 23 in Week 1. He didn’t score, but this is the first home game of the season and the opponent is about as good as it gets. The Dolphins played against 10 tight ends who saw at least five targets last year, and of those 10, nine of them scored at least 9.5 PPR points, and five of them scored at least 16.3 PPR points, including Gates. What better way to start the season for a bunch of fans who just lost their team to another city?”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Allen Hurns (WR – JAC): vs. TEN
“It’s hard not to like Hurns this week. Jacksonville was not tasked with throwing the ball in a surprisingly dominant victory over Houston in Week 1. Expect them to in Week 2 in a tough matchup against Tennessee and Hurns, an offseason afterthought, to step back into a significant role for the team now down Westbrook and Robinson. He led receivers with four Week 1 targets in a game where Blake Bortles threw only 21 passes.”
– Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)

Q2. On the flip side, what player inside the top 40 Flex is likely to disappoint fantasy owners this week?

Leonard Fournette (RB – JAC): vs. TEN
“Fournette had an amazing NFL debut, posting 100 yards and a TD while adding in 3 catches for 24 yards in the Jags’ huge 29-7 win over the Texans. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Coach Marrone let Fournette handle 29 touches in Week 1; unfortunately, that’s a number that isn’t going to be reached every week. Chris Ivory was on the field for 25 plays and had 9 carries (and 1 reception), and T.J. Yeldon, who missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, is practicing in full and due back this week. Minus Allen Robinson, the Jags may opt to run the ball even MORE, but that could lead to some inefficiency and fatigue. As for Jacksonville’s opponent, the Tennessee Titans, well, they were fantasy’s No. 2 defense vs. opposing running backs last season. This isn’t to say Fournette won’t help your fantasy team this week, but there’s a good chance he finishes in the No. 30-40 range rather than where he currently sits as the 17th-ranked FLEX for Week 2.”
– Seth Klein (The Fantasy Fix)

“As much as I love Leonard Fournette, this is not a week to be excited about placing him in your lineup. The Jaguars were able to manhandle the Texans and do whatever they wanted on offense last week, but the Titans won’t give them that comfort. Most don’t realize that the Titans have been a top-six defense against fantasy running backs in each of the last two years, including a No. 2 finish last year. They allowed just six rushing scores last year and just one running backs to top 84 yards on the ground. You don’t want to bench Fournette because of the volume he’ll get, but he’s likely to disappoint after such a promising Week 1.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR): vs. BUF
“I think Mike Gillislee is the no-brainer here, but I’ll go with Christian McCaffrey. While I think he’ll have a lot of NFL success, the Panthers are already talking about limiting the rookie’s touches as to preserve him for the entire season. I think he’ll get a good 10-12 touches, but it’s a lot to ask of him to hit top-40 value unless he eclipses at least 15-18 touches. The Bills limited the Jets running attack last week, so the Panthers matchup doesn’t exactly set up nicely for McCaffrey either.”
– Nick Raducanu (ProjectRoto)

Dez Bryant (WR – DAL): @ DEN
“Bryant, who comes off a disappointing season opener (two receptions, 43 yards) is heading into a road matchup with the nasty Broncos defense. Aqib Talib, Chris Harris & Co. were easily last year’s stingiest defense against fantasy wide receivers, and should be pretty good again despite Monday night’s struggles versus the Chargers. Dez is a low-end WR2 for me.”
– John Halpin (

Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN): @ PIT
“Despite a huge opening week, I’m steering clear of Stefon Diggs in Week 2 if there are reasonable replacements on my roster. Sam Bradford is dealing with an injury and the Steelers, including with newly minted CB Joe Haden, present a much stiffer test on defense than the Saints. Look for New England to rebound against that same Saints defense and expose Week 1’s offensive outburst from Minnesota as a bit of smoke and mirrors.”
– Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)

Thank you to the experts for naming their sleeper starts and sits. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.

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