Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 2
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I’d understand if you don’t want my advice this week.
To open the season, I gave the brilliant recommendation of sitting Sammy Watkins against the Jaguars. Those who complied missed out on 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns. While a low floor remains, he’s a must-start against any opponent while Tyreek Hill recovers from a clavicle injury.
But hey, hopefully readers at least played Dak Prescott and Delanie Walker in Week 1. Although those two can stick in starting lineups, gamers shouldn’t fall into the trap of operating solely on last weekend’s results. Some outcomes are telling. Others, however, hinged more on the opening draw. Let’s examine how managers should handle a few notable players following an up or down start.
Jared Goff (LAR) vs. NO: QB12 ECR
Frequenting the sit section last week, Goff went a mediocre 23-of-39 for 186 yards, one touchdown, and a pick against Carolina. Including the postseason, he has offered more than one passing touchdown in just one of his last nine contests. That includes an NFC Championship Game overtime victory at New Orleans in which he posted 297 yards through the air. Let’s refer back to last week’s table highlighting Goff’s cavernous home/road splits last season. This time, study it with the knowledge of the Rams hosting the Saints in a potential shootout. Don’t overreact to a poor Week 1. Goff is a matchup play, and this is the right matchup.
Jameis Winston (TB) at CAR: QB17 ECR
Unlike Goff, Winston’s woeful Week 1 can’t be shrugged off so soon. Last Sunday’s three interceptions marked the 17th multi-pick outing of his career. He has 17 in a dozen games dating back to the start of 2018. The poor opening also came with his lowest yards per attempt average (5.2) since November 5, 2017. The Panthers proved more adept at stifling the pass than anticipated against Goff, and they’ll play host once more this weekend. Winston could easily bounce back with a massive stat line, but there are too many capable passers out there to deal with the headache. I’d rather take my chances on Josh Allen against an abysmal Giants defense.
Sony Michel (NE) at MIA: RB18 ECR
Michel ran for 14 yards on 15 handoffs in a 30-point win. That’s awful, but New England might double that margin of victory against Miami. The Patriots are 18.5-point favorites — on the road — against a tanking team that relinquished 265 rushing yards to Baltimore in Week 1’s catastrophic 59-10 loss. Say what you will about never trusting a Patriots running back, especially now that they’re suddenly loaded at receiver, but Michel demands another chance in this matchup. If he doesn’t do anything in this optimal scenario, it’s time to worry. While we’re out it, start all Patriots against the Dolphins. Even the water boy.
Miles Sanders (PHI) at ATL: RB28 ECR
On the bright side, Sanders led the Eagles in snaps during his NFL debut. Unfortunately, he still saw the field for just 36 of 75 plays in a three-man committee alongside Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles. The Penn State alum produced a paltry 27 total yards on 12 touches, so most fantasy managers won’t be in a hurry to take him out for another spin.
While hardly a must-start, the matchup secures Sanders as a high-upside flex flier. Last year, the Falcons relinquished the fourth-most fantasy points and an NFL-high 122 receptions to running backs. Kirk Cousins only attempted 10 passes in Minnesota’s 28-12 win over Atlanta, but Dalvin Cook sliced the NFC South squad open for 111 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. As Philadelphia’s most talented running back, Sanders can make his mark as a runner and receiver against an opponent vulnerable in both facets. It doesn’t show in the bottom line, but he also had a 21-yard touchdown run called back in Week 1’s win over Washington.
Phillip Lindsay (DEN) vs. CHI: RB29 ECR
A start here in Week 1, widespread fears of Lindsay losing reps to Royce Freeman came to fruition. The former logged just four more snaps than the latter, tallying 66 yards on 15 touches. Denver never led at Oakland, so the favorable game script also didn’t pan out. That’s not likely to change against the Bears, who already shifted from slight underdogs to a two-point favorite at Mile High Stadium. Last year’s stingiest rushing defense commenced 2019 by flummoxing Aaron Jones to 39 yards. Now that they’re operating as a more formal backfield tandem, Lindsay or Freeman won’t muster any Week 2 value unless they hit pay dirt.
Ronald Jones (TB) at CAR: RB37 ECR
In Bruce Arians’ first game as Tampa Bay’s head coach, Jones established himself as the backfield alpha by accumulating 93 yards on 14 touches. He’ll now face the same Panthers who got gouged by Todd Gurley (101 yards) and Malcolm Brown (two rushing touchdowns). Might as well throw the hot waiver-wire add into the fire, right?
Not so fast. Despite his enhanced involvement, Jones recorded fewer snaps (22) than Dare Ogunbowale (27) and Peyton Barber (25). This offense didn’t support one strong fantasy running back last year, so Jones still faces a steep climb to fantasy viability. He’s in danger of losing passing-down work to Ogunbowale and goal-line carries to Barber, so take at least one more week to scout the second-year back from the bench.
John Brown (BUF) at NYG: WR29 ECR
The Giants looked bad against the Cowboys. So, so bad. Dak Prescott, who procured a perfect passer rating, steered both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup to triple-digit receiving yards. After getting burned for big plays by both wideouts, they’ll face another potent deep threat in Brown. The 5’11” speedster resembled a perfect vertical option for Allen when corralling seven of 10 targets for 123 yards and a score against the Jets. He should flourish again at the Meadowlands against a ravaged defense that will give Allen all day to find his new teammate downfield.
Tyrell Williams (OAK) vs. KC: WR33 ECR
Williams’ ECR should rise (if it hasn’t already) once everyone has a chance to process the late Monday night contest. Now Oakland’s clear No. 1 wideout, the former Charger snagged six of seven targets for 105 yards and a score against a capable Denver secondary. D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook all found the end zone at Kansas City’s expense to earn a top-30 PPR performance in Week 1. Beyond Williams, the rest of the Raiders’ wide receivers combined for six catches and 36 yards in a 24-16 triumph. He’s in line for a heavy target share in an opportune matchup that will require Derek Carr to attempt more than 26 passes as a home underdog.
Robby Anderson (NYJ) vs. CLE: WR31 ECR
Sorry to pick on Anderson again, but he goes from facing Tre’Davious White to Denzel Ward. While he may do better than Corey Davis‘ whopping zero yards against Cleveland, Anderson might not massively exceed Week 1’s three catches and 23 yards. Sure, he could also go full Watkins. Playing the percentages … probably not. His ECR, ahead of more targeted teammate Jamison Crowder, is still too high given the matchup and inherent risk.
John Ross (CIN) vs. SF: WR42 ECR
By now, Ross should have found a new home in most fantasy leagues. Those who claimed him, however, should wait a beat before trusting the breakout beyond deeper leagues. He had never eclipsed three catches in a game before mounting seven for 158 yards and two touchdowns at Seattle. Maybe Zac Taylor’s offense is for real, but Andy Dalton probably won’t replicate Week 1’s 51 pass attempts, his most in three years. Ross’ ranking probably reflects his current stock as a high-upside WR4 who could greatly elevate that appraisal with another big showcase.
Darren Waller (OAK) vs. KC: TE10 ECR
Waller didn’t take long to transcend from waiver-wire sleeper into a top-12 tight end. With Jared Cook out of Oakland, the new starter led the Raiders in targets (eight) and receptions (seven). He didn’t win many fantasy matchups with 70 yards, but it’s imperative to take notice of an athletic, heavily involved tight end who saw the field for every single snap Monday night. Those without one of the position’s few steady starters can add Waller and deploy him against the Chiefs, who ceded 347 passing yards and three touchdowns to Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. It’s not an overreaction to place Waller over Eric Ebron, Greg Olson, and Jimmy Graham in the early ECR.
Jimmy Graham (GB) vs. MIN: TE15 ECR
After going eight games without a touchdown to conclude 2018, Graham won a jump ball in the end zone — have you heard that he used to play basketball? — last Thursday night. That’s certainly a good sign, but it’s hard to get jazzed about three catches for 30 yards. Dating back to last season, he hasn’t reached 35 yards or four receptions in his last fives games. The Packers will stay in the NFC North to face another ferocious defensive in the Vikings. Although Austin Hooper caught all nine targets against them in Week 1, last year’s third-ranked passing defense still isn’t an enviable matchup. Given the lack of volume in a Green Bay offense that didn’t respawn without Mike McCarthy, Graham is a touchdown-or-bust option not worth starting over Waller, Hooper, T.J. Hockenson or Mark Andrews.