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Quick Grades Week 2 (Fantasy Football Start or Sit Advice)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Sep 18, 2020

Wow! What an opening week! We saw plenty of quality performances from some of fantasy’s best in Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams, some duds in Mark Ingram and Mike Evans, and plenty of notable injuries. For Week 2, we’ve already been treated to a Thursday Night fireworks show that saw rookie Joe Burrow shine bright in primetime and Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb help the Browns avoid an 0-2 start with a 35-30 shootout victory. This week, we’ll be without Michael Thomas and Le’Veon Bell at least. Those players are already confirmed out, but we’ve got some other notable players dealing with significant injuries in Kenny Golladay, George Kittle, Chris Godwin, and James Conner.

Week 1 gave us some insight into how opposing defenses might perform, how team offenses may look, and potential target shares and workloads moving forward. It’s a small sample size, but the first 16 games of the year should guide us in better projecting results for Week 2. We’ve seen some improved grades in the mid-to-lower tiers, though most of our top-notch studs remain at the head of the class.

Once the season begins, the most difficult part of any fantasy manager’s week is start or sit decisions. These lineup choices can make or break a week, but unfortunately, not everyone has time to sit down and read lengthy fantasy advice articles. That’s where Quick Grades comes in. Each week of the football season, I’ll be providing a condensed and easily digestible chart of grades for 220 fantasy-relevant players based on the following four criteria:

Fantasy Ability
Despite a tough matchup, Christian McCaffrey took a screen pass 90 yards to the house last week

Expected Volume
Zach Ertz is always heavily targeted as one of Philadelphia’s top pass-catching options

Matchup
Tyreek Hill got loose for 200 yards against Cincinnati’s porous secondary

Surrounding Talent
Sam Darnold has one of the weakest receiving corps in the league

Each of those criteria will be graded on a scale of 1-25, with the cumulative total resulting in a final grade (A+ to F) and a recommendation based on that grade. The criteria are weighted differently based on position, so it’s not a direct 1-for-1 conversion. Surrounding talent refers to offensive line for RB, quarterback play for WR and TE, and skill-position talent for QB.

The players are sorted by grade in descending order with the highest grades at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The highest-graded players receive A+ (Must start), and the lowest receive F. However, there are varying degrees of the F grade, and some players with this grade are flex plays, desperation plays, Hail Mary plays, or should remain on your bench, depending on the grade and position.

The charts are screenshots of a spreadsheet, but the link to the original can be found below. Because players are not searchable within the sheets in this article, they’ve been added to the bottom of the page so that they can be searched and referenced quickly. In addition to the player grades, I’ll provide:

  • Start of the Week: A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week
  • Stream of the Week: The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire
  • Deep-League Stream of the Week: The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues
  • Fade of the Week: A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance
  • Tough Calls: Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

Link to Full Quick Grades Document

It’s easy to see that an ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grade makes a player a must-start, but it might not make sense at first glance why some players are rated ‘C’ or worse and still have ‘Start,’ ‘Strong Start,’ or ‘Flex’ attached to their names. Because of all the different variables that go into a player’s performance in any given week, only those players with the absolute highest potential, best matchup, and strongest talent get ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grades. Therefore, even solid plays will earn grades that may appear sub-optimal on the surface, but it’s all relative from position-to-position. The hard cutoff is 50 for every position, as grades lower than this will earn a ‘Desperation’ or ‘Hail Mary’ tag in every situation.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the grades. Best of luck in all your matchups this week, and if you have any questions, please hit me up on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.

Note: As always, remember to check back on FantasyPros ahead of kickoff to get the latest injury news. I’ll provide “what-if” grades in the event that an injured player doesn’t suit up, but otherwise, these grades assume full health at the time the article is published on Friday morning.

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Running Backs

Ahead of Week 2, we’ve got two running backs with perfect grades in Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara. Zeke gets a tasty matchup in the Falcons, while Kamara should see his already-robust target share increase with Michael Thomas sidelined. Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains a strong play but gets a tougher matchup in the Chargers, and Jonathan Taylor‘s grade skyrockets after Marlon Mack‘s season-ending Achilles tear suffered in Week 1.

Start of the Week: Ronald Jones II (TB)

Stream of the Week: Jerick McKinnon (SF)

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Josh Adams (NYJ) 1% Rostered

Fade of the Week: Melvin Gordon (DEN)

Tough Calls: This week, Todd Gurley and rookie Jonathan Taylor come in pretty closely in their respective grades, though the edge goes to the rookie here. Taylor’s great matchup, ability to work as a runner and receiver out of the backfield, elite offensive line, and newfound workload make him a strong start in Week 2.

* If James Conner is ruled out, Benny Snell becomes a ‘C+ Strong Start’

Wide Receivers

Michael Thomas has been ruled out, and both Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay are also out, so those who rostered any of the studs will have to look for other options. Emmanuel Sanders, Scotty Miller, and Quintez Cephus all get substantial boosts this week as a result of those absences. We’ve got a pair of target monsters as our top-graded wideouts, while some familiar faces make up the rest of the highest tier.

Start of the Week: CeeDee Lamb (DAL)

Stream of the Week: Parris Campbell (IND)

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Keelan Cole (JAC) 1% Rostered

Fade of the Week: Keenan Allen (LAC)

Tough Calls: Robert Woods and Amari Cooper are neck-and-neck this week, and while Woods should command a larger share of his team’s targets this week, Cooper’s tasty matchup with Atlanta gives him the advantage in Week 2.

* If Chis Godwin plays, he becomes a ‘C+ Strong Start’
* If Kenny Golladay plays, he becomes a ‘C+ Strong Start’
* With A.J. Brown ruled out, Corey Davis becomes a ‘D+ Flex’
* If Courtland Sutton is ruled out, Jerry Jeudy becomes a ‘D+ Flex’
* With Jamison Crowder ruled out, Breshad Perriman only becomes an ‘F Desperation’
* If Henry Ruggs is ruled out, Bryan Edwards becomes a ‘D Flex’

Quarterbacks 

While Lamar Jackson may be lauded as the top play at QB this week, he’s not our highest-graded signal-caller here. Instead, we’ve got Dak Prescott and his full arsenal of weapons in a huge smash spot against a porous Falcons’ secondary. A pair of young, mobile QBs come in next. Kyler Murray dazzled against San Francisco in Week 1, and he should be able to work some of that magic against Washington, while Josh Allen could have a big day against Miami. After a rough Bucs’ debut, Tom Brady is due for a bounceback, and Aaron Rodgers draws a favorable matchup with Detroit that lands him in the top-10.

Start & Stream of the Week: Philip Rivers (IND)

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Dwayne Haskins (WAS) 5% Rostered

Fade of the Week: Carson Wentz (PHI)

Tough Calls: Unsurprisingly, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes both grade as ‘A’ plays in Week 2, though L-Jax gets a slight advantage. His matchup with Houston is a bit easier than Mahomes’ matchup with the Chargers.

Tight Ends

The top-heavy TE position sees the usual cast of characters making up the top-5, as Travis Kelce grades as the best option at his position in Week 2. George Kittle is a must-start if he suits up, but there’s a chance he’s held out for precautionary reasons in a matchup the 49ers could certainly win without him (*Editor’s Note: Kittle has been ruled out)

Start of the Week: T.J. Hockenson (DET)

Stream of the Week: Logan Thomas (WAS)

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Jordan Reed (SF) 2% Rostered

Fade of the Week: Mike Gesicki (MIA)

Tough Calls: I love Jared Cook this week, but he grades out just below the next highest TE, Darren Waller. With Michael Thomas out, Cook should absorb some additional targets and yards after leading his team in receiving in Week 1. However, Waller is the top target for a team that should be chasing points and avoiding throwing at Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore, leaving Waller to do some damage over the middle of the field. The latter is a better option here.

* If Jack Doyle is ruled out, Mo Alie-Cox becomes an ‘F Flex’
* With George Kittle ruled out, Jordan Reed becomes an ‘F Flex’

Player Search, Find

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Tight End

Quarterback 

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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