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7 Sleeper Starts and Duds: Week 2 (Fantasy Football)

Sep 16, 2021

Week 1 was full of oddities. Elijah Mitchell emerged as the top back in San Francisco after Raheem Mostert suffered a season-ending injury and Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch. Jameis Winston threw five touchdowns in his first start as a Saint, which was five more touchdowns than his future Hall-of-Fame opponent, Aaron Rodgers, had. Brandon Aiyuk was seemingly in the doghouse, playing just 26 snaps and seeing a whopping zero targets. Ezekiel Elliott had a meager 13 touches and totaled under 40 yards. Stefon Diggs saw a ridiculous 14 targets, but only had 69 yards and no touchdowns to show for it.

This game we love often throws a lot of things our way that we never see coming, but with each passing week, we all should have a better understanding of what’s possible and of what’s likely to come. With only one week of data to work from, the safest way to spot fantasy’s sleepers and busts each week is to look at the matchups. Our featured experts are here to do just that and share their favorite lower-ranked starts and higher-ranked duds for the upcoming week.

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Q1. Who is a player outside of our top 100 flex rankings that is a deep sleeper start and why do you think he has upside this week?

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB) 
“The Packers had a disastrous Week 1, and while you’d never expect that from last year’s No. 1 DVOA offense, it makes more sense that it would happen against the Saints (the No. 2 DVOA defense) than most teams. Like Aaron Rodgers, I expect a bounce back in Week 2, and that makes Valdes-Scantling an appealing deep flex play. The Lions increase receiving yards and touchdowns per target by 23% and 19% for No. 2 receivers.”
– Scott Spratt (Football Outsiders)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the buzz of Packers training camp. Despite the Pack getting blown out, we saw MVS earn a 22% target share. Aaron Rodgers has historically bounced back from poor performances, and a matchup against the terrible secondary of Detroit will certainly help that.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Latavius Murray (RB – BAL) 
“I understand that Murray looked like a bit of a second fiddle against the Raiders, but the fact that he got 10 carries and scored a touchdown after only a few days on the roster speaks volumes. Ty’Son Williams struggled in pass protection at the end of the game and, even if he retains his bigger role, we know the Ravens want multiple running backs to factor in. The Chiefs do a good job of limiting wide receiver production but they can be vulnerable against the run, as the Browns showed last week, and Baltimore will likely want to control the clock to keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines. That could mean 15 touches for Murray, and with a decent chance to score a touchdown, there’s plenty of potential for him to make an impact.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Trey Sermon (RB – SF) 
“This is a complete roll of the dice, but I’m not completely off of Sermon just yet. He’s sitting at 151 overall in our flex rankings and there’s a strong possibility that he comes out in Week 2 as the starter over Elijah Mitchell. Due to the uncertainty, I understand why he’s down this low in the rankings, but if you’re looking for a sneaky flex option this week, Sermon has some upside.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

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

Stefon Diggs (WR – BUF) 
“You are obviously starting Diggs every week, but Miami’s secondary is a really strong unit, particularly Xavien Howard, who will likely shadow Diggs. He performed fine in shadow coverage against Howard for a mortal in Week 17 last year (seven catches, 76 yards), but it was certainly below his season average (Howard did not line up against Diggs when the teams met in Week 2, as Noah Igbinoghene, who replaced an injured Byron Jones, did and allowed Diggs to put up a monster game). The Patriots basically avoided Howard in Week 1, and although the Bills certainly won’t do that, fantasy managers should lower their expectations for Diggs, even if he is still an obvious start.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

David Montgomery (RB – CHI) 
“I think Montgomery is an underrated talent. He’s finished third and seventh among backs with 100 or more carries in avoided tackle rate the last two seasons. But fantasy production is about opportunity as much as efficiency, and Montgomery looks unlikely to repeat the 68 targets he had with Tarik Cohen sidelined in 2020 with Damien Williams now in town. In Week 1, Williams out-targeted Montgomery five to one. A carry-heavy workload will make Montgomery very dependent on his touchdowns for fantasy. He may have one this week against a plus Bengals matchup, but don’t expect value at his 14th-place running back ranking every week.”
– Scott Spratt (Football Outsiders)

Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG) 
“Barkley is a terrifying fantasy player. We have no clue when the workload will get up to speed. He has a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game against a terrific Washington defensive line. I’d be looking at all my options before I acquiesce to play Barkley this week.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL) 
“Ridley is one of the most talented WRs in the NFL, but this offense looks absolutely putrid after one week. The Falcons now get to take on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that is absolutely going to wreak havoc on Atlanta’s offensive line and make life difficult for the passing game. Ridley still belongs in your starting lineup, but we shouldn’t be expecting top-five production from him this week.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Thank you to all the experts for giving their sleeper starts and duds. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.

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