Fantasy Friday: Week 2 Starters, Sitters, & Sleepers
Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season is behind us.
And so is the shootout that was the Thursday Night Football game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
For all the fantasy football owners out there panicking because they lost their first game ... don't. It's early, dudes!
The loss of Keenan Allen hurt a lot of rosters out there -- mine included -- but injuries are to be expected. Gotta plan for them.
We did get a few lasting memories out of the weekend:
- Six games were decided by 2 points or less,
- America witnessed a quarterback who keeps up with his dental hygiene,
- A franchise is in a new place, but demonstrated the same old tendencies, and
- A Patriots team proved capable without their star quarterback and tight end.
Odds are Week 2 gives more of the same, so be ready.
Without further ado, it's time to clean out those gums -- and those fantasy lineups -- as we prepare for the Starters, Sitters, & Sleepers for Week 2!
Note: Obvious fantasy starters -- eg- Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Antonio Brown, et al -- will not be discussed.
Eli Manning v New Orleans: Need I remind you of what happened last season when the Giants met the Saints? It certainly wasn't defense that won that game. Eli went 30-41 for 350 yards and 6 scores as the G-men barely prevailed 52-49.
After seeing a Saints defense that allowed 35 points to the Raiders in Week 1, it looks like they haven't completely fixed the struggles plaguing them a year ago. Start Eli with confidence heading into this potentially juicy matchup.
Matt Ryan at Las Vegas in Oakland: Well, that's what Sin City would have you believe.
Ryan had a blistering hot start to his 2016 campaign with a 300+ yard, 2 TD performance in a loss against division foe Tampa Bay. Dude spread the ball around to eight different targets on the day, tossing touchdowns to Julio Jones -- predictably -- and new off-season addition Mohammad Sanu.
The Raiders are 1-0, despite their defense surrendered 400+ yards and 4 TDs to Drew Brees in Week 1, which included a 98-yard touchdown, the longest play in Saints' history.
With high-profile signings Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson still getting acclimated in Oakland, this may be the time to roll out Ryan without any doubts that he starts a hot streak.
Carson Palmer v Tampa Bay: Remember that Buccaneer defense? Well, this week, it gets matched up with the high-flying Cardinals' passing attack. Palmer wasn't bad against the Patriots -- tossing two scores to reliable receiver Larry Fitzgerald -- but he didn't eclipse the 300-yard mark.
This week, dude gets Brucie's Boys, who had trouble against Matt Ryan. On top of that, the Cardinals are hungry for a win. Expect Palmer and his passing game to be a focal point for an Arizona win on Sunday.
Other chuckers with great matchups:
Drew Brees at the New York Giants
Derek Carr v Atlanta
Blake Bortles at San Diego
Alex Smith at Houston: Dude played great in the season-opening, come-from-behind win in overtime against the Chargers. He threw two touchdowns -- as opposed to one interception -- as part of his 350+ yard total. That's a feat he only accomplished once last season, in a loss at Cincinnati.
However, this week, Smith confronts a stingy Texans defense that gave Jay Cutler fits all game long, sacking him five times, picking him off once, and forcing two fumbles while not letting him reach 250 yards passing.
Smith is prone to a gem of a game every now and then and last week was the diamond in the rough. This week's matchup should scare you enough to keep him on the bench.
Ben Roethlisberger v Cincinnati: Before you think I'm crazy for putting Big Ben in the sit column this week, hear me out.
Last year, when the Steelers played the Bengals in the first matchup, Le'Veon Bell injured his knee and wouldn't return for the rest of the season. In their two games, Roethlisberger threw for a combined 544 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Without Bell again, Big Ben will be forced to throw again this week after having a stellar outing in Week 1. However, the Bengals had his number last season and, although it's a new year, this is a decision I'm making solely based on the numbers. If you have a better matchup this week, the risk may pay off.
Andrew Luck at Denver: Dude was the No 1 scoring QB in most formats --- and next to Drew Brees in others -- after his 385 yards and 4 scores against Detroit.
This week, he matches up with the always-tough Denver defense. Luck's had three career meetings with the Broncos, and only one actually took place in Mile High Stadium. In that one, the Colts were completely dependent on his passing attack where he produced 370 yards, two scores, and two picks.
The Broncos have improved since 2014 and Luck may in fact struggle in this one. While I'm not saying to sit Luck because that's easier said than done, you may want to consider the matchup your other quarterback has.
Other slingers with tough matchups:
Russell Wilson at Los Angeles
Sam Bradford v Green Bay
Brock Osweiler v Kansas City
Jameis Winston at Arizona: Dude was extremely impressive in Week 1, tossing four touchdowns and close to 300 yards.
He has an interesting matchup against the Cardinals this week. Arizona struggled to stop Jimmy Garoppolo from moving down the field a week ago, so their secondary has proven to be a glaring issue.
Winston is showing great progress in just his second season, and he could have a quietly great game against a team that isn't covering well at the moment.
Marcus Mariota at Detroit: Dude's first game of the season wasn't terrible -- almost 300 yards in the air and two scores -- but did have two costly turnovers in a loss to the Vikings. This week, he faces a Lions D that surrendered nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns to Andrew Luck in Week 1. This is as good as it gets for the top overall pick a year ago to enjoy a bounce-back week.
Joe Flacco at Cleveland: Why not go with another road matchup in this week's sleeper list? Flacco only found the end zone once last week against the Bills, as the Ravens still try to recover from injuries sustained last season.
With all his receivers finally healthy at the same time, Baltimore Joe heads into Believeland this weekend to take on a Cleveland team trying to find themselves. With a defense that surrendered 250+ yards and two scores a week ago to rookie QB Carson Wentz, it could be a long search.
Other QBs with sleeper potential this week:
Carson Wentz at Chicago
Dak Prescott at Washington
Jimmy Garoppolo v Miami
CJ Anderson v Indianapolis: Dude dominated the stout Panther defense in the first game of the season, torching them with 24 touches, nearly 140 scrimmage yards, and two scores.
Anderson was a high-risk, high-reward draft pick for fantasy football this season after an inconsistent 2015 campaign. As the clear-cut No 1 back in Denver, he has all the makings for a season deserving of a first-round pick. This week, the Broncos get a juicy matchup against a fairly weak Colts defense. No question about starting CJ this week.
Ryan Mathews at Chicago: The Eagles' running back situation is no longer in limbo. Mathews is established as the workhorse.
Not only did he dominate the touches last week -- 22 to Sproles' 7 -- but he gets a Week 2 matchup against a Chicago defense that allowed over 100 yards on the ground to Lamar Miller of the Houston Texans. Mathews' involvement in the offense should continue to rise, especially with the recent injury to tight end Zach Ertz.
Other RBs with good matchups:
Lamar Miller v Kansas City
DeAngelo Williams v Cincinnati
DeMarco Murray at Detroit
Todd Gurley v Seattle: I swear to you, I'm not crazy. The way the Rams' offense looked last week was enough to make an average football fan sick to his or her stomach.
The 49ers' defense had Gurley & Co figured out early and often. It doesn't get easier for LA, as they host the Seahawks for the first NFL game in Los Angeles since 1994. With Case Keenum announced as the early starter for Week 2, you may want to consider your other running backs' matchups before playing Gurley.
Carlos Hyde at Carolina: Dude had another happy Week 1 with 25 touches, over 90 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns. After the first game last season, the 49ers' No 1 running back struggled to find his way and only played in seven games due to a foot injury.
Week 2 sees the Niners heading to Charlotte to visit a Panthers bunch that isn't too happy after their Week 1 loss. Hyde may have trouble finding running room against a consistently stout Carolina front seven.
Jeremy Hill at Pittsburgh: Dude salvaged an otherwise paltry fantasy performance with a goal-line touchdown against the Jets.
Other than that, Hill had 9 rushes for 31 yards and a score, while Giovani Bernard didn't fare much better: with 30 all-purpose yards on 7 touches. On the horizon is a Steeler defense against which Hill has never scored in the regular season. With his usage and value confined to the red zone, Hill is a touch-or-bust candidate who looks more bust-worthy this week.
Other RBs with tough matchups:
Jonathan Stewart (questionable) v San Francisco
Frank Gore at Denver
Doug Martin at Arizona
Melvin Gordon v Jacksonville: Dude finally had his breakout performance in Week 1 against Kansas City, rushing for 57 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
The rookie who didn't score once in his first year now has a pair under his belt, and he should continue to see plenty of action alongside Danny Woodhead after the Keenan Allen injury. Jacksonville's defense has gotten better, but Gordon would still be a sneaky good play.
Rashad Jennings v New Orleans: Dude got plenty of action in Week 1, accumulating 19 touches for nearly 80 yards against the Cowboys. Even though he was held out of the end zone, Jennings now heads into a matchup that was an offensive showdown a year ago and has more than enough potential to be the same this time around.
The pride of Liberty University makes for a good flex play against a soft Saints defense.
LeGarrettte Blount v Miami: Dude saw the bulk of New England's carries last week (22) and made the most of it (70 yards, TD) against an otherwise tough Arizona defense. The Patriots head home for their Week 2 game against the Dolphins, a team against which Blount has scored in each of his last two games.
Other RBs with sleeper potential this week:
Jeremy Langford v Philadelphia
Justin Forsett at Cleveland
TJ Yeldon at San Diego
Kelvin Benjamin v San Francisco: Dude looked ready to roll last week in his first regular-season game in over a year, hauling in six catches for over 90 yards and a touchdown.
Benjamin is locked in as Newton's top target, and there's no doubt he should get plenty of looks in the Panthers' home opener against a 49ers' defense that was made to look good by a pourous Rams offense.
Mike Evans at Arizona: The Buccaneers looked in-sync last Sunday in their win against the Falcons. Dude caught five passes for just under 100 yards and a score. Could he have returned to form? He did make improvements in the off-season, and he takes on a Cardinals' secondary that's lacking depth and will have trouble matching up with his size.
Emmanuel Sanders v Indianapolis: Dude had a pedestrian Week 1 against Carolina's challenging defense, reeling in five passes for 49 yards. But things are looking up for him this week; he faces a Colts defense without Vontae Davis. What's more, that crew has a hard enough time against the pass as is.
To make Sanders an even more intriguing play, teammate and fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas is questionable this week. If Thomas does or doesn't go, Sanders has six catches in both career matchups with Indy, including a touchdown catch in last year's affair.
Other WRs with good matchups:
DeSean Jackson v Dallas
Jeremy Maclin at Houston
Jordan Matthews vs Chicago
TY Hilton/Donte Moncrief at Denver: It's very hard to like starting receivers who are going up against the Denver defense. Despite Kelvin Benjamin's performance against it a week ago, the Broncos' secondary gives opposing wideouts fits. Not to mention, both of the Colts' top receivers have been held in check every time they've gone up against Denver, scoring zero times. Hilton's eclipsed five catches twice and totalled over 75 yards once. If you have better matchups, you may want to roll them out.
Randall Cobb at Minnesota: Dude had six catches in Week 1 for 57 yards. Now that's not so terrible for PPR formats, but this was an underperformance considering:
- It was against Jacksonville, and
- The Green Bay offense should be one of the more pass-heavy in the league.
This week features a matchup with a tough and talented Minnesota Vikings secondary that will do whatever it takes to eliminate Rodgers and his weapons from making an impact. Look elsewhere for points this week if you can.
Tavon Austin v Seattle: For all of you who drafted the ex-Mountaineer as a backup receiver, one word: Why?
Dude's had sporadic performances where he was actually worth playing, but that's why someone invented the word sporadic. With the quarterback situation unsettling in Los Angeles, Austin has very little appeal, even in PPR leagues. It won't get any easier against a challenging Seattle secondary.
Other WRs with tough matchups:
Tyler Lockett at Los Angeles
Torrey Smith at Carolina
Stefon Diggs v Green Bay
Sterling Shephard v New Orleans: You gotta love when a rookie scores in his first regular-season game, when it actually means something.
Dude joins a group of Giants receivers who now have Victor Cruz back from injury, meaning more mouths to feed on offense.
Luckily, Shephard caught three of his four targets in Week 1, and the Giants now get to host New Orleans in a possible second act of the offensive onslaught that was featured last season. Expect Shephard to get some quality looks.
Travis Benjamin v Jacksonville: With Keenan Allen out, Philip Rivers' weapons on offense will have to step up.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the injury could be this deep-threat off-season acquisition. Dude caught seven balls in the Week 1 loss to Kansas City, but for only 32 yards. Benjamin automatically moves up the depth chart without Allen, and the Chargers may be inclined to run more plays designed for the speedster.
Tajae Sharpe at Detroit: Here's another pleasant surprise from a rookie receiver in Week 1, compiling seven catches for 76 yards. For PPR owners, this dude's become a must-add waiver wire pickup and is emerging as a favorite to become Marcus Mariota's top wideout. He's a quality flex play against a team that gave up nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns through the air last week.
Other WRs with sleeper potential this week:
Mike Wallace at Cleveland
Devin Funchess v San Francisco
Allen Hurns at San Diego
Antonio Gates v Jacksonville: The OG moves up as one of Philip Rivers' top targets once again, following the major injury to Keenan Allen. After a 3-20-0 stinker line a week ago, Gates should see plenty of targets this week against the team he torched for two touchdowns in their last meeting.
Greg Olsen v San Francisco: Olsen continues to be a target monster for the Panthers. Against the Broncos, dude led Carolina in catches with seven, had 73 yards, and saw lots of looks near the red zone. He should continue to see a heavy workload against the 49ers at home.
Gary Barnidge v Baltimore: Don't look at his Week 1 goose egg and think its time to bench him. With Robert Griffin III now on injured reserve, the Browns will start Josh McCown on Sunday, so the looks to Barnidge should resemble last season's.
McCown was the man that helped make Barnidge fantasy relevant in Cleveland and a matchup with the Ravens should be just what the doctor ordered as he went for 15 catches, 230 yards and one touchdown in 2 games against Baltimore last season.
Other TEs with good matchups:
Julius Thomas at San Diego
Eric Ebron v Tennessee
Jason Witten at Washington
Martellus Bennett v Miami: Bennett had just three catches for 14 yards in Week 1 against Arizona. With the possibility of Rob Gronkowski returning, dude resumes his regular role on your bench. But if Gronk doesn't play, Bennett's more touchdown-dependent than he is trustworthy.
Zach Miller v Philadelphia: Dude also had only catches for 14 yards in his opening game. Kevin White is healthy and ready to go, so it seems like Jay Cutler is looking more down the field now. Miller will have a good game here and there, but his role in the offense will most likely be less than it was last season.
Jimmy Graham at Los Angeles: The recovery continues. Dude had one catch for 11 yards in Week 1 after fighting through a questionable tag while he works his way back from the knee injury that ended his season early a year ago. It's best to keep Graham on your bench until he proves he can provide enough for fantasy teams to carry a TE1 tag again.
Other TEs with tough matchups:
Jared Cook at Minnesota
Jordan Cameron at New England
Brent Celek at Chicago: Zach Ertz is doubtful right now with a rib injury, opening the door for Celek to become Carson Wentz's security blanket for the near future.
Facing a Chicago defense that gave up six catches to the position a week ago, dude may find himself in a good spot, gaining the trust of the rookie chucker. Celek is a sneaky-clever play after seeing how much action Ertz got in Week 1.
Dwayne Allen at Denver: Dude started his 2016 season the right way against Detroit, catching four balls for 53 yards and a score.
Fellow teammate and tight end Jack Doyle was a presence as well, with three catches; two went for touchdowns. Either the Colts found their 1-2 punch at tight end, or Doyle's performance was a blue moon-type outing. Allen is the clear No 1 tight end for Indy, and a tough Broncos secondary may cause Luck to check the ball down more than he wants.
Jesse James v Cincinnati: The Steelers were put in a tough spot when free agent acquisition Ladarius Green was put on the PUP list to start the season. However, James has emerged as a potential replacement and looks a lot like the man who retired, Heath Miller.
Dude hauled in five passes last week for 31 yards and could see an expanded role in the offense going forward. He could be the trick up a fantasy owner's sleeve that the opponent doesn't see coming.
Other TEs who have sleeper potential:
Kyle Rudolph v Green Bay
Clive Walford v Atlanta
Carolina v San Francisco
Seattle at Los Angeles
New England v Miami
Baltimore at Cleveland
Green Bay at Minnesota
San Francisco at Carolina
Los Angeles v Seattle
Arizona v Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh v Cincinnati
Kansas City at Houston
Oakland v Atlanta
Philadelphia at Chicago
Minnesota v Green Bay
Dallas at Washington
Detroit v Tennessee
Stephen Gostkowski v Miami
Matt Prater v Tennessee
Adam Vinatieri at Denver
Graham Gano v San Francisco
Sebastian Janikowski v Atlanta
Josh Brown v New Orleans
Blair Walsh v Green Bay
Mike Nugent at Pittsburgh
Connor Barth v Philadelphia
Matt Bryant at Oakland
Dustin Hopkins v Dallas
Greg Zuerlein v Seattle
Roberto Aguayo at Arizona
Cairo Santos at Houston
Jason Myers at San Diego
Josh Lambo v Jacksonville
Chris Boswell v Cincinnati
Chandler Catanzaro v Tampa Bay
Agree? Disagree? Got fantasy football questions? Ask away on twitter and follow @ZT_Sports24