Week one is in officially in the books! Which means the fantasy talk around the water cooler is as predictable as death and taxes. Why did I play that guy? He’s so overrated! Who wants a trade? I gotta make a move!
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the “Knee-Jerk Reaction week”. Irrational conclusions based on one small subset of data. Just one snapshot out of 16 games.
Panic sets in for all fantasy owners during “Knee-Jerk Reaction week”. If a player performed well, he’s set for the season. If an early-round draft pick bombed out, trade talks are initiated immediately. It’s the nature of a fantasy football owner to overreact, and this leads to some great opportunities to buy low or sell high.
This week’s Start/Sit Column includes some players who will perform quite differently than Week One. No matter last weekend’s results, we encourage you to stay the fantasy football course! Continue to believe in your team and keep a level head.
Fantasy Football: Start/Sit Week Two
START OF THE WEEK: Philip Rivers QB (vs. Miami)
The Chargers return home after a tough intradivisional loss on the road at Denver. Rivers was efficient with 192 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception against the best pass defense in the NFL. He now returns home to face a Miami Dolphins team that still hasn’t played a game due to Hurricane Irma.
Miami will travel cross county and bring a pass defense that was the fourth most generous to opposing fantasy quarterbacks in 2016. The Chargers have a ton of weapons for Rivers and Keenan Allen finally looks healthy after an ACL tear in week one last season.
With four sacks and one interception in Denver, the Chargers defense is strong and will pressure Miami quarterback Jay Cutler all game. This is a very tough opener for the Dolphins, and Rivers will have a big Week One performance.
Start: Derek Carr (vs. NYJ)
Fantasy football isn’t hard. Carr comes home and faces a Jets defense that allowed Tyrod Taylor to produce the seventh best quarterback fantasy line coming off a concussion. Oakland had an impressive 26-16 win at Tennessee, and Carr equaled Taylor’s performance in a much tougher venue. Running back Marshawn Lynch gives Oakland a solid ground game to balance the production of wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. A west coast trip for the woeful Jets means a top three fantasy quarterback floor for Derek Carr.
Start: Jameis Winston (vs. CHI)
Tampa Bay gets the offensively challenged Bears in their home opener. Head coach John Fox has built an underrated defense, but their limitations on offense will give Winston extra possessions throughout the game. With new deep threat DeSean Jackson opening up the field, Winston will pick apart the Bears with intermediate throws to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard, and running backs Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. Don’t buy into the Mike Glennon “revenge game” narrative, start Winston with confidence in Week Two.
Start: Russell Wilson (vs. SF)
While Seattle’s offensive line woes still exist, San Francisco doesn’t pose much of a threat to Wilson in Week Two. The 49ers allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last season, and the trio of Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, and Tyler Lockett will feast in Seattle’s home opener. Wilson was stymied in Green Bay, failing to produce a touchdown while getting sacked three times and losing a fumble. With the added dimension of his mobility, Wilson has a high fantasy floor in Week Two.
Start: Eli Manning (vs. Detroit)
The Giants offense struggled in Dallas, but a Monday Night Football battle with Detroit should provide the perfect venue for a bounce back performance. The Lions defense performed well against Arizona, but still allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season. I expect Odell Beckham to play, and Manning will be focused on getting Brandon Marshall (one reception, 10 yards) much more involved. Detroit only had one sack against Arizona, and Ezekiel Ansah is still recovering from a knee injury. Start Manning with confidence at home on Monday night.
- Andy Dalton (vs. Hou): Bengals were embarrassed in home opener by Baltimore, but so was Houston. Short week favors a big Dalton bounce back performance.
- Joe Flacco (vs. Cle): Baltimore’s pressure defense forces multiple turnovers, giving Flacco his second solid fantasy performance.
- Cam Newton (vs. Buf): Newton still recovering from shoulder surgery, but will enjoy positive game script and short fields in Panthers rout of Bills.
Sit: Carson Palmer (vs. Indy)
While the Arizona veteran quarterback threw the ball 48 times, he produced minimal fantasy production in Week One. Even with a strong receiving core of Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson, and John Brown, the week to start Palmer is not on the road after losing David Johnson. Palmer’s three interceptions against Detroit are a cause for concern, and if would be better to see a strong performance before feeling comfortable placing him in your starting lineup.
Sit: Sam Bradford (at Pit)
The Vikings signal caller unexpectedly produced the third best quarterback line for Week One. That came in the comforts of U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota heads to Pittsburgh to face a Steelers defense that allowed the sixth fewest points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks and the third fewest to opposing fantasy wide receivers last season. Bradford was fantastic in Week One, but there are much better fantasy options than a road game at Heinz Field.
Sit: Tyrod Taylor (at Car)
Taylor was a pleasant fantasy surprise after suffering a concussion during preseason. He threw for 224 yards, two touchdowns, one interceptions, and finished second among all quarterbacks with 38 rushing yards. This week the Bills will travel to Carolina to face a Panthers defense that generated four sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery at San Francisco in Week One. The Panthers are always tough against the run, which means Taylor will have to lean on his limited receiving core. It was great to see Taylor back to his underrated fantasy ways, but he is a clear “sit” this week against the Panthers.
Sit: Carson Wentz (at KC)
The Philadelphia sophomore quarterback had a strong road performance at Washington. Wentz was one of only six quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards, but will have a much more difficult time at Kansas City. The Chiefs defense held Tom Brady without a touchdown pass at home, and Justin Houston will be a nightmare for an Eagles offensive line that may be without offensive tackle Jason Peters. Wentz is a solid fantasy quarterback moving forward, but pass on Week Two.
Start: Mike Gillislee (at N.O.)
The Patriots have found their new “LeGarrette Blount” in the form of Mike Gillislee. The former Buffalo Bills backup received the majority of the goal line work and scored three touchdowns against Kansas City to finish as the second best running back in standard scoring leagues. Gillislee struggled against a stout Kansas City run defense with only a 3.0 yard per carry average, but faces a Saints defense that just allowed rookie Dalvin Cook to rack up 127 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per carry. The Patriots will try to limit the opportunities for Drew Brees at home, and that will involve featuring Mike Gillislee early and often.
Start: Terrance West (vs. Cle)
Baltimore was incredibly impressive in a 20-0 win at Cincinnati. The Ravens unfortunately lost running back Danny Woodhead to a hamstring injury for the next six to eight weeks. That leaves Terrance West to receive the majority of touches moving forward as well as the goal line work. He totaled 80 rushing yards and a touchdown on the road against a strong Bengals defense. In their home opener against the Browns, look for West to be the fantasy beneficiary of short fields and a run heavy game script.
Start: Melvin Gordon (vs. Mia)
Gordon got off to a great start in Week One at Denver with several carries and receiving targets in the first quarter. But after the Chargers fell behind, they moved away from Gordon in both offensive aspects. Even with only 54 yards rushing, he finished as the 11th best running back in standard scoring and the ninth best in PPR formats. Gordon is one of the last true three-down running backs as proven by his five receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown. The Miami starters haven’t played meaningful football since Week Three of the preseason, and the cross country trip only complications matters. Gordon will produce a top five running back fantasy performance this week.
Start: Jonathan Stewart (vs. Buf)
One of my favorite zero running back targets, Stewart has always been productive when healthy. The popular narrative was that rookie Christian McCaffrey would siphen fantasy value from the Panthers veteran running back. After Week One, it appears the complete opposite is true. Stewart received 18 carries and will be the top goal line choice for a Carolina coaching staff focused on keeping quarterback Cam Newton healthy. While McCaffrey is the better passing downs option, his fumble against San Francisco will linger in Ron Rivera‘s mind. With Carolina likely to enjoy positive game script against a poor Buffalo team, look for Stewart to garner 20 plus carries and another top 10 fantasy running back finish.
- Giovani Bernard (vs. Hou): The most productive Cincinnati running back gets an 0-1 Houston team on a short week. Leading rusher and second leading receiver for Bengals in Week One.
- Chris Carson (vs. SF): The late round rookie has taken the reins of the lead running back position fherom Eddie Lacy. With Thomas Rawls still injured, Carson could take command of t job with big performance.
- Tarik Cohen (at TB): The rookie will prove that his top four fantasy running back finish was no fluke. The Buccaneers will bottle up Jordan Howard causing Chicago to play catchup with the sizzling Cohen leading the way.
Sit: LeGarrette Blount (at KC)
The Eagles lead running back salvaged a bad performance with a miracle receiving touchdown in Week One. Kansas City only allowed Mike Gillislee to tally 3.0 yards per carry and the plodding Blount will fair much worse in the hostile atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium. Blount will fail to even come close to his finish as the 17th best running back during Week One in standard scoring leagues.
Sit: Lamar Miller (at Cin)
The whispers have already started about Houston rookie D’Onta Foreman getting more touches in Week Two. Miller is just an enigma; an impressive athletic running back who continually underperforms in games. Struggling against the Jaguars defense is certainly reasonable, but the lack of production over the last year is starting to build a narrative. In addition to Foreman, teammate Tyler Ervin tallied four catches for 18 yards on five targets. Facing an angry Bengals defense on a short week, Miller should be on your bench for Week Two.
Sit: Ameer Abdullah (at NYG)
Abdullah is in fantasy football running back “no-man’s land.” He’s an starting running back that won’t get goal line touches or third down passing work. His 15 carries for 30 yards performance greatly disappointed fantasy owners in a 35 point explosion against Arizona at home. Now he goes on the road against a tough Giants defense with a limited game script role. Theo Riddick outproduced him in Week One and Dwayne Washington is still stealing carries. Starting Abduallah this week is simply charity for your fantasy opponent.
Start: Keenan Allen (vs. Mia)
It was great to see Allen healthy and producing fantasy points in against the “No Fly Zone” at Denver in Week One. Allen was clearly back to being Philip Rivers top receiving option after a robust 10 targets against the Broncos. In this week’s home opener, he will face a Dolphins pass defense that was fifth most generous to fantasy wide receivers in 2016. Allen will produce a 15-plus point PPR performance against the Dolphins.
Start: Brandin Cooks (at N.O.)
Everything lines up for a huge Brandin Cooks “Revenge Game” performance on Sunday in New Orleans. The Patriots need the win after their loss to the Chiefs, the Saints defense just got torched by both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on Monday, and the Patriots leading Week One receiver (Danny Amendola) is out with a concussion. Cooks will be featured often by a head coach who is a master of motivation tactics. Look for Cooks to have a big game in New Orleans in Week Two.
Start: Jeremy Maclin (vs. Cle)
The Browns could not contain Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown in Week One, allowing 11 receptions for 182 yards. This bodes well for Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin who made the most of his two receptions for 56 receiving yards and a touchdown. With Joe Flacco slowly improving, Maclin will garner the majority of receiving targets and secure a WR3 fantasy performance. Look for over 80 yards a touchdown for veteran receiver.
Start: Davante Adams (at Atl)
The home opener for Green Bay was the Randall Cobb show, but that will change in Atlanta this Sunday. In a 33-32 loss last season in Atlanta, Adams totaled 12 receptions on 14 targets. The Falcons always roll coverage toward Jordy Nelson, leaving Adams to have a big game. Green Bay always plays well in Atlanta and their offense indoors is lethal. Adams will have more fantasy points than Cobb and maybe even Nelson on Sunday.
- Cooper Kupp (vs. Was): Sammy Watkins will draw Josh Norman, leaving Kupp to continue building his rapport with Jared Goff for a WR3 floor in all formats.
- Kelvin Benjamin (vs. Buf): The Panthers will never be lead in receiving yards by Russell Shepard again. Benjamin reestablishes his top receiving status in Carolina.
- T.Y. Hilton (vs. Ari): Don’t shy away from Hilton. In 11 games without Andrew Luck, Hilton is still averaging double-digit fantasy production and one less target per game.
Sit: Alshon Jeffery (at KC)
Alshon Jeffery simply isn’t what he used to be. He is on a one-year “prove it” contract after failing to do so last season in Chicago. Last week’s three receptions for 38 yards line was uninspiring, and won’t be any better at Kansas City. With Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Torrey Smith cutting into targets, I have no faith in starting Jeffery in any difficult matchup.
Sit: John Brown (at Ind)
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer did not look good at Detroit on Sunday, which is a bad thing for all Cardinals receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald. Brown’s preference for deep ball routes make his fantasy production volatile, and it’s difficult to trust him on the road at Indianapolis. In their first game without star running back David Johnson, the Cardinals will struggle to find their offensive stride, making Brown a bench choice in favor of better fantasy options.
Sit: Dez Bryant (at Den)
The Cowboys top wide receiver had a predictable poor performance against the Giants pass defense in Week One totaling two receptions on 43 receiving yards. In Week Two, he faces the toughest pass defense in the NFL on the road. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris will limit Bryant throughout the game especially in the red zone. Bryant is not a high catch guy and is very touchdown dependent. There are much better options this week than Bryant against the “No Fly Zone” in Denver.
Start: Zach Ertz (at KC)
While the Chiefs have a strong defense, especially at home, the loss of Eric Berry is critical to containing opposing tight ends. After limiting Rob Gronkowski to only two catches for 33 yards, the Chiefs will have a difficult time against Ertz, who racked up 93 receiving yards while catching all eight of his targets at Washington. Ertz will solidify his must-start status after a top five fantasy tight end finish this week.
Start: Tyler Eifert (vs. Hou)
Eifert will find a much easier time than Week One against a Houston defense that struggled to stop the Jaguars at home. Eifert finished with only one catch for four yards as the Bengals struggled to protect quarterback Andy Dalton against the Ravens vicious pass rush. Playing on a short week, Eifert will return to his top 12 fantasy tight end status with a strong Week Two performance.
Start: Coby Fleener (vs. N.E.)
Fleener finally feels looks comfortable in the Saints offense, which makes him a must start option each week. With Willie Snead still suspended until Week Four, Fleener was the leading receiver for New Orleans with five receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown at Minnesota. Drew Brees at home is always a safe fantasy bet, and Fleener is a great start in a potential shoot out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
- Cameron Brate (vs. Chi): Brate led all tight ends with eight touchdown catches in 2016. He is a safe bet for a top-12 tight end game against a Bears defense that allowed Austin Hooper to total 128 receiving yards.
- Charles Clay (at Car): Clay continued his strong fantasy production from the end of last season with 53 yards and a touchdown in a win against the Jets. Traveling to Carolina provides a stiff test, but Clay is the most reliable receiver in a depleted Buffalo receiving core.
- Jesse James (vs. Cle): With tight end being such a difficult position to find consistency, there is no reason to bench a starting tight end who caught two touchdowns in Week One. Pittsburgh will put up points at home against Cleveland, making James a safe fantasy play.
Sit: Eric Ebron (at NYG):
The Anquan Boldin red zone targets are going to Golden Tate and rookie Kenny Golladay. Ebron was not effective in Week One, and will need to help protect quarterback Matthew Stafford against a strong Giants pass rush on Monday Night Football. He is trending in the direction of an every week sit at the tight end position.
Sit: Evan Engram (vs. Det)
Ebron’s counterpart needs to also hit the bench for fantasy owners. The Giants offensive line is a mess and that means more snaps for fellow tight end Rhett Ellison. Rookie tight ends are rarely fantasy viable, and Engram will support that narrative until the offensive line improves for New York.
Sit: Jason Witten (at Den)
Witten totaled seven catches for 59 yards and a touchdown in a Week One home win over the Giants. Now the Cowboys travel to Denver, where Witten will need to protect quarterback Dak Prescott from Von Miller and company. The Chargers tight end duo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry tallied two catches for 17 yards on Monday night, meaning Witten should be avoided in all fantasy starting lineups.
- Ravens (vs. Cle): Baltimore totaled five sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception on the road at Cincinnati. The should do even better in their home opener against Cleveland.
- Pittsburgh (vs. Min): The Steelers defense is much improved with upgrades in the secondary, and while Sam Bradford played well at home against New Orleans, a road game in Pittsburgh is a much different animal.
- Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Mia): Four sacks, one fumble recovery, and one interception at Denver is an impressive start for Joey Bosa and the Chargers. Miami coming cross country without a Week One game will lead to a top ten fantasy finish for the Chargers.
- Philadelphia (at KC): The Eagles defense was solid in Week One, but playing at Kansas City is always difficult. There are better options this week.
- Detroit (at NYG): The Lions defense finished as the eighth best fantasy option in Week One. Traveling to New York against a Giants offense looking to bounce back is bigger challenge. Don’t trust the Lions on the road just yet.
- Houston (at Cin): Short turnaround for the Texans, who lost linebacker Brian Cushing to a concussion and 10 game suspension. The Bengals will straighten out their offensive woes, while the Texans offense will continue to struggle this week at Cincinnati.
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