Game Thoughts: Jet fans were ready to give Sam Darnold
a key to the city after the rookie QB led New York to an impressive
48-17 road victory over the Lions Week 1. The hysteria surrounding
Darnold as the greatest Jet quarterback since Joe Namath cooled
somewhat when Darnold looked more like a rookie than a savior
in Sunday’s 12-20 loss to the Dolphins at Met Life Stadium.
Hyperbolic jokes aside, Darnold does appear to be the real deal,
and it seems as though the Jets do have their quarterback of the
future. But expectations need to be tempered, especially when
Darnold is asked to carry the team and throw the ball 41 times
in a game. Unlike the lopsided win over the Lions, the Jets did
not give Darnold a cushion with defense and special team plays
and the running game did not provide Darnold and the passing game
Things will not get easier this week for Sam and the Jets when
the team heads to Cleveland to take on a Browns defense that held
Drew Brees and the Saints without a touchdown for three quarters
of the game on Sunday. Although they are still looking for their
first win in over two years, Cleveland’s defense held Brees
and Ben Roethlisberger to 578 yards and three touchdowns in the
first two weeks of the season and will pose a difficult challenge
for Darnold and the Jets.
Cleveland enters the game tied for third in sacks with seven,
and Greg Williams’ defensive unit has forced a league-best
five fumbles in two games. The matchup outside of Miles Garrett
going against Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell will be a critical
one for the success of the Jet passing game. Also, New York will
need to place extra focus on defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi,
a second-year player from Charlotte who has been on fire this
season with 11 combined tackles and three sacks.
The evolution of Quincy Enunwa as Darnold’s favorite target
continued with seven catches for 92 years on 11 targets against
the Dolphins. Look for Darnold to once again lean on his security
blanket, especially if the Jets offensive line plays as poorly
against the Browns as they did against the Dolphins. Miami gave
Darnold very little time to throw the ball, with pressure from
both outside and up the middle.
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: Although veteran Bilal Powell earned the
start for the second consecutive weak, he was ineffective with
five rushes for six yards, with Isaiah Crowell earning 63% of
the team carries for the game. Crow also struggled to the tune
of 35 yards on 12 carries as the Jets as a whole failed to do
much on the ground against the Dolphins.
At first glance, it would appear as though the Browns are an
excellent matchup for Crowell and Powell based on the fact that
Cleveland has allowed the eighth-most points to opposing running
backs in 2018. But when you consider the fact that the two running
backs who have faced the Browns are James Conner and Alvin Kamara,
that stat line is not that appealing.
Cleveland did what most teams could not do in 2017, limiting
Kamara to just 46 yards on 13 carries, with zero touchdowns and
no big plays. By limiting the big plays to Kamara and getting
steady pressure on Brees, the Browns were able to successfully
hold one of the most prolific offenses to 305 total yards and
only two touchdowns. Neither player is a great start in this game,
but it forced to choose between the two, Powell’s receiving
ability out of the backfield makes him more attractive.
Game Thoughts: Through two games of the 2018 regular
season, veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor is the 17th ranked quarterback
with 23.2 fantasy points per game. He is just .10 points behind
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and ahead of other high profile fantasy
assets like Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Although the former Buffalo Bill has just two passing touchdowns
during that span, he leads all quarterbacks with 103 rushing yards
and one touchdown on 12 attempts.
Taylor and the Browns continue their season and quest for their
first win against a Jets defense that allows the 19th-most points
to opposing quarterbacks and the sixth-fewest points to opposing
running backs. With just two games in the books, including a shocking
four-interception debacle by Matthew Stafford Week 1, it is too
early to gauge how well a defense like the Jets will match up
against the Browns and running quarterback like Taylor. What we
do know is that Ryan Tannehill did find success last week by limiting
the number of throws (just 23 attempts) and using his legs to
extend drives for the Dolphins (eight rushes for 44 yards).
The Browns will not be with the services of wide receiver Josh
Gordon after the team traded the embattled star to New England
for a conditional fifth-round pick. Jarvis Landry will continue
to be a target hog and the primary wide receiving weapon for Taylor,
but his availability for Thursday’s game against the Jets
is in question after Landry was limited this week with a knee
injury. Although I anticipate he will play, Landry is listed as
questionable and owners need to monitor his status before kickoff.
On the injury front, starting outside linebacker Josh Martin
is in the concussion protocol and has not been able to practice
this week. He will likely miss the game, with Jeremiah Attaochu
likely getting the start in his absence. The loss of Martin could
present an opportunity for Taylor to exploit Attaochu in coverage
with tight end David Njoku.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: The trio of Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson,
and Nick Chubb have combined to score the 20th most fantasy points
this season. With a rushing touchdown in each of the first two
games, Hyde continues to be the primary back and the player to
own in the Browns backfield, despite the fact that he is averaging
a party 2.8 yards per carry.
Head coach Hue Jackson told reporters on Tuesday that the team
needs to get Duke Johnson more involved in the passing game. After
setting career highs in targets (93), receptions (74), receiving
yards (693), and receiving touchdowns (2), Johnson has been missing
in action this season with three catches for 15 yards on eight
The Jets have allowed the fifth-fewest points to opposing running
backs in the first two weeks of the young season, although Kenyon
Drake had an excellent day against Gang Green on Sunday with 53
yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to go along with four catches
for 17 yards.
With Landry likely limited with a knee injury and Gordon no longer
on the roster, look for Taylor to focus more on Johnson in the
passing game on screens and quick dump offs out of the backfield.
Both the Lions and the Dolphins found moderate success using running
backs in the passing game, and the Browns may follow suit if the
offensive line is unable to open holes up the middle for Hyde.
Game Thoughts: The trial by fire rookie season for Josh
Allen continues Week 3 in a difficult road matchup against a Vikings
defense that allows the seventh-fewest points to opposing offenses
this season after finishing as the No.1 defense in 2017. Only
three quarterbacks have managed to throw for two or more touchdowns
against Mike Zimmer’s defense dating back to 2016, and only
Aaron Rodgers has managed to throw for more than three touchdowns
vs. the Viking since 2015.
In his first two NFL games, the former first-round pick out of
the University of Wyoming completed 24 of 48 passes for 319 yards,
with one passing touchdown and two interceptions. Allen has flashed
his elite arm at times and his above-average mobility with 58
yards on 12 carries, but he has also looked every bit the rookie
with poor decisions and missed reads.
Allen’s top target is 6’5”, 240-pound wide
receiver Kelvin Benjamin, a former first-round pick in the 2014
draft out of Florida State. Benjamin secured the lone touchdown
pass from Allen last week against the Chargers, but with 10 targets
in two games and only 29 receiving yards, starting Benjamin in
anything outside of a deep 14-team league is not advised.
From a pure scheme perspective, Zimmer is going to confuse and
intimidate Allen with elaborate and complex blitz packages that
will lead to numerous sacks and turnovers. If Zimmer and his defense
can limit Aaron Rodgers to one touchdown and less than 300 yards
passing on the road in Green Bay, one would assume that Allen
will find it tough sledding on Sunday in front of 50k crazed Viking
fans at US Bank Stadium.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: Just like the in the passing game section,
there are no skill position players on the Bills worthy of a start
in anything but the deepest of large formats. Not only did the
Vikings end the 2017 season allowing the fewest points to opposing
quarterbacks, and wide receivers, Minnesota also allowed the fewest
points to opposing running backs.
Starting tailback LeSean McCoy suffered a rib injury against
the Chargers last week and his status is in doubt for Sunday.
Marcus Murphy and Chris Ivory shared the backfield duties in McCoy’s
stead, with Murphy rushing for 31 yards on six carries and Ivory
adding a rushing touchdown on two carries for seven yards. From
a pure volume perspective, Murphy is the likely lead back on first
and second downs with Ivory working in as a short yardage and
goal line option, but neither player is worth the risk in what
could be a shutout for the Vikings and a lopsided loss for Buffalo.
QB3: Josh Allen (Low-End)
RB4: Marcus Murphy (Low-End)
WR4: Kelvin Benjamin (Low-End)
TE2: Charles Clay (Low-End)
Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins has been worth every penny
of his monster free agent contract with six passing touchdowns
and 669 passing yards over the first two weeks of the season.
At 30.3 fantasy points per game, including last week’s 425-yard,
four touchdown performance on the road against Green Bay, Cousins
enters week three as the No.4 ranked QB in fantasy football behind
Big Ben, Patrick Mahomes, and the legend of Ryan Fitzmagic.
Coinciding with the monster start for Cousins is the stellar
performance of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, two wide receivers
targeted in the first three rounds of drafts who have both come
through for fantasy owners. Diggs is ranked fourth among wide
receivers with 12 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns,
and Thielen is not far behind as the No.8 ranked WR with 29.3
fantasy points through two games.
Both wide receivers and all skill position players on the Vikings
for that matter are excellent plays this week against a Bills
defense that has been so putrid through the first two games that
starting cornerback Vontae Davis abruptly retired during halftime
in the Charger game on Sunday. While I think it shows lack of
charter for a player to quit on his teammates, Davis’ shocking
move is a microcosm into the dumpster fire that is the 2018 Buffalo
A negative game script is the biggest threat to Vikings skill
position players this week, as it is entirely possible that the
Minnesota defense may completely stonewall Allen and the Bills,
leaving little need for Zimmer to have his starters play the entirety
of the game.
On the injury front, Dalvin Cook did not practice on Wednesday
and Thursday due to a hamstring strain and right tackle Rashod
Hill sat out with a foot ailment. Cook’s absence in the
passing game, should he not be able to play or if the Vikings
simply sit their star in what should be an easy win, may lead
to more targets for Kyle Rudolph over the middle and Thielen out
of the slot. After a disappointing first game with just one reception
on two targets, Rudolph was very active in the Green Bay game
with seven catches for 72 yards on eight targets.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: Two weeks does not provide a large enough
sample size to gauge the overall effectiveness of a defensive
unit against the run. But when you consider the fact that the
Bills finished last season as the worst team in the league in
points allowed to opposing running backs and are once again ranked
in the bottom three this season in that stat, it is safe to say
that starting your running backs against Buffalo is going to be
a wise move this year.
Unfortunately for Dalvin Cook owners, capitalizing on this matchup
may not be an option if Zimmer and the coaching staff opt to give
their second-year back a week off to heal his ailing hamstring.
If active, starting Cook is a must regardless of any concerns
about game script. Should Cook be inactive, Latavius Murray would
be in line for an increased workload and would rise into strong
RB2 consideration. Murray was somewhat ineffective against the
Packers with four runs for 19 yards, but a workload of 15 to 20
carries at home against the Bills could make the former Raider
a sneaky play on Sunday.
Bengals at Panthers
- (Bales) Line: CAR -3.0 Total: 43.0
Game Thoughts: The Bengals are only averaging 247 passing
yards per game, but they have also thrown for six touchdowns this
season while Dalton is averaging a healthy 35 passing attempts.
He gets a matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who dominated
the Cowboys, but allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 272 yards and
two touchdowns (with two rushing touchdowns) last week. Carolina
also ranks in the bottom-five of the NFL in completion percentage,
allowing their opponents to complete 73.7% of their passes.
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
A.J. Green has found the end zone four times this season, but
he has only seen 17 targets through two games. He has recorded
each of his touchdowns from the slot, but it’s unknown if
Cincinnati will feature him out of the slot even more. Tyler Boyd
is the clear number two receiving option last week, posting a
9/161/1 line on 14 targets. John Ross is the third option, but
has failed to make an impact early this season, although he does
come with boom or bust speed. Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, and Tyler
Kroft have all split targets at tight end, and none of them are
safe enough or come with enough upside to warrant consideration.
This game is one that could quietly feature more points than expected,
and Cincinnati’s offense is one that tends to fly under
Running Game Thoughts: Unfortunately, Joe Mixon is dealing with
a knee injury and won’t be able to suit up in this game.
Gio Bernard is expected to take over a larger role at running
back, but rookie Mark Walton could steal some of his snaps. Bernard
is an all-around back, who can play every down. Last week, he
needed only 10 touches to score 8.2 fantasy points. I would expect
him to play the majority of the snaps in this game with Walton
playing a secondary role. Bernard is an exceptional receiver,
and he should have a feature role even if Carolina runs away with
this game - which I don’t expect.
Game Thoughts: Cam Newton is a quarterback that always
makes a great fantasy option for a number of reasons. Most importantly,
he comes with tremendous rushing potential, adding to his floor.
Through two games, Newton has run for 100 yards and one touchdown.
He also threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns last week. He
gets an elite matchup this week, facing off against Cincinnati,
who is allowing 332 passing yards per game this season. They have
only allowed four passing touchdowns, though, which is a bit of
The Panthers receivers are far from great, even though they are
in a good spot this week. Devin Funchess saw an uptick in targets
with Greg Olsen out last week, catching seven of nine passes for
77 yards. He will get a matchup against William Jackson, though,
who is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Jarius Wright and
Torrey Smith are the next top options, but they are simply boom
or bust options in this offense. Ian Thomas is playing tight end
with Olsen out, but he simply isn’t seeing enough targets
to warrant interest.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Outside of Newton, Christian McCaffrey
is the focal point of the Carolina offense. Through two games,
he has seen 18 carries with 20 receptions on 24 targets. He has
10 targets more than Funchess, and his lack of carries isn’t
concerning with his passing work. McCaffrey has also been a relatively
consistent option with tremendous upside without finding the end
zone this season. Similarly to the other backs in this article,
McCaffrey is a player that can score fantasy points in any type
of game script.
Game Thoughts: The Denver Broncos head to M&T Bank
Stadium riding a two-game winning streak to start the season after
victories over Seattle and Oakland. Both victories for the Broncos
were close games with a margin of victory of three or fewer points,
with Case Keenum orchestrating a come from behind victory over
the Raiders with 10 fourth-quarter points last week.
From a fantasy perspective, the Keenum era of Denver Broncos
football has been less than impressive, as the journeyman quarterback
ranks 17th overall with 14.6 fantasy points per game. Keenum’s
329-yard, three touchdown game on opening day was marred by three
interceptions and numerous poor decisions with the football. He
then failed to throw a passing touchdown against the Raiders,
only to somewhat salvage his day with a rushing touchdown and
16 rushing yards on three carries.
Although Keenum has not been very impressive for fantasy owners,
his presence has elevated the play of wide receivers Emmanuel
Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The former enters Week 3 as the
No.11 ranked WR with 231 yards and one touchdown, while the latter
has 11 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 21
We would be remised not to mention the breakout performance of
undrafted rookie running back Phillip Lindsay and his effect on
both the rushing and passing game. The former Colorado Buffalo
local product caught two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown opening
day against the Seahawks and is currently just six yards behind
Matt Breida for the league lead in rushing yards.
After shutting down rookie Josh Allen on a wet opening day game
Week 1, the Ravens we torched by Andy Dalton and the Bengals to
the tune of 265 passing yards and four passing touchdowns, with
A.J. Green securing three of the four Dalton passing TDs. The
Bengals found success exploiting the Raven secondary that is without
Jimmy Smith for two more games. Brandon Carr is a skilled cornerback
but lacks the quickness he once had, and Marlon Humphrey was simply
unable to keep up with Green and Tyler Boyd in man coverage. Look
for the Broncos to take a page out of the Bengal playbook and
target Humphrey on play action passes, assuming the ground attack
with Lindsay and Royce Freeman is working.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners and fantasy
analysts assumed correctly this summer that the Broncos leading
running back would be a rookie and not incumbent Devontae Booker.
But very few, myself included, anticipated that undrafted rookie
Phillip Lindsay, and not third round pick Royce Freeman, would
be the leading tailback on the team after two weeks. Lindsay is
the first undrafted running back in NFL history to post at least
100 scrimmage yards in each of his first two career games.
Although Lindsay is smaller than Freeman and projects to be more
of a pass catching and change of pace back, he has been exceptional
running between and outside the tackles in his first two pro games.
Freeman has not been bad, with 99 yards and a rushing touchdown
on 23 carries, but Lindsay clearly has more of a bounce to his
step and appears to have given the Broncos a shot in the arm.
Both players will play, along with Booker on third down, against
a Ravens defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points
per game this season. It should be noted that a negative game
script in the Buffalo game somewhat skewed Baltimore’s ranking
this young season, as LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, and Marcus Murphy
were limited to just 16 total carries Week 1.
In 2017, the best way to attack the Ravens defense was on the
ground and not the air, with Baltimore ending the year allowing
the 11th-most points to opposing running backs. Opposing running
backs scored a touchdown in three of the final games of the regular
season, including a two-touchdown game against Pittsburgh Week
Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco has been a pleasant surprise
this season as the No.11 ranked QB with 612 passing yards and
five passing touchdowns in his first two games. The addition of
a trio of new wide receivers in Michael Crabtree, John Brown,
and Willie Snead has given Flacco a nice variation of pass-catching
options skilled at exploiting different parts of the defense areas
of the field. In addition, Flacco’s trio of tight ends gives
him an excellent threat in the middle of the field, and the return
of Marshal Yanda at guard has afforded the former Delaware quarterback
time to throw the ball.
Flacco’s Week 3 matchup against the Broncos will be arguably
his most difficult task to date, although Denver has allowed the
14th-most points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Russell
Wilson threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns against Denver
Week 1 and Derek Carr completed 90% of his passes for 288 yards
and a score last week.
Denver’s defense is good, especially with the outside pass
rush of Von Miller, but they are nowhere near the Super Bowl winning
team with Peyton Manning. Look for Flacco to test the side of
the field opposite of Chris Harris, while also focusing on the
middle of the field with his tight ends, as Denver allows the
fifth-most points to tight ends in 2018 and ranked as the third-worst
against tight ends in 2017.
With a receiving touchdown in each of this first two games with
Baltimore, John Brown appears to be the wide receiver to own on
the Ravens in 2018. Although technically listed as the No.2 WR
on the depth chart, Brown is a skilled deep threat and an underrated
route runner. Of the three wide receivers to start this week against
Denver, Brown is unquestionably the one to start, with the possibility
of a deep touchdown on play action in play.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: Owners who invested a third or fourth
round pick in Alex Collins are likely regretting their selection
after a pedestrian 16 rushes for 48 yards and one touchdown for
the second-year player from Arkansas. Although Collins did manage
a rushing touchdown Week 1 against Buffalo, a fumble and negative
game script limited him to just seven attempts.
Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen have been active in the backfield
along with Collins, with Allen working in as the goal line and
primary receiving back in the Marty Mornhinweg offense. On a bright
note for Collins owners, Dixon will be on the shelf for a while
with a knee injury, which should open the door for more carries
Aside from a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run in which beast mode
and the Raiders offensive line bull rushed the entire Denver defense
for a scrum touchdown last week, the Broncos have done an excellent
job limiting opposing running backs to just 3.6 yards per carry
When healthy, guard Marshal Yanda is one of the premier run-blocking
guards in the league and his presence in the middle of the Baltimore
offensive line is critical to the success of the running game.
The matchup between Yanda and nose tackle Domata Peko is one to
watch in this game. If Yanda and center Matt Skura can control
the middle of the line of scrimmage, Collins should be able to
find some running room.
Packers at Redskins
- (Katz) Line: GB -3.0 Total: 45.5
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need two working
knees to be productive, but you kind of wish he had them. Rodgers
attempted 42 passes last week and spread the ball around between
Davante Adams (8-64-1), Jimmy Graham (6-95) and Geronimo Allison
(6-64). The Redskins shut down the woeful Cardinals Week 1 and
mostly contained Andrew Luck in Week 2. Luck did get them for
two touchdowns, but only threw for 179 yards. The Redskins have
allowed their opponents’ top receiver to catch seven balls
in back to back games. That bodes well for Adams, who is Rodgers’
clear top target. Rodgers should attempt at least 35 passes so
there should be plenty left for Randall Cobb, who is coming off
a down game (4-30). Look for the split to flip again as Cobb reestablishes
himself as the second option and Graham/Allison take more of a
backseat. Regardless, both Graham and Allison have proven they
are weekly starting options.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: Jamaal Williams has had
a two-game audition to prove he is worthy of the starting job.
Suffice it to say, I don’t think he’s going to get
the part. Williams has amassed just 106 yards on 31 carries and
has been a zero through the air (3-12). Ty Montgomery has been
more efficient with 38 yards on seven carries, but it’s
the seven carries that’s the problem. Montgomery is seldom
used in this offense, including in the passing game where he also
has just three receptions through two games. Enter Aaron Jones
returning from his two-game suspension and may very well get an
opportunity to supplant Williams as the primary early-down back.
Jones is the more talented player, but there is still the legitimate
concern that Green Bay goes from a two-man backfield to a three-man
backfield with none of these players possessing much fantasy value.
The Redskins let Jordan Wilkins run for 61 yards on 10 carries
last week so the matchup is less than imposing, but the Packers
are just a pass first, pass second offense making any of the Packers
RBs uninspiring options.
Game Thoughts: The Alex Smith that finished as the overall
QB2 last year is long gone. It’s almost like not having
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as weapons has a negative impact
on a quarterback’s production. Smith’s top two receivers
have been Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson, who have combined
to catch just 13 passes for 133 yards through the first two weeks
of the season. Jamison Crowder has been a complete no show, fooling
everyone who thought he would mesh will with Smith. Jordan Reed
is still this team’s WR1, but he’s had a quiet start
to the season with 10-103-1 through two games. The good news is
he’s still healthy. The Packers just allowed Kyle Rudolph
to go off for 7-72 and in a game where I expect the Redskins to
have to throw, Reed could have a big day.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: The leader in targets for the Redskins
is not even a wide receiver; its running back Chris Thompson and
it’s not even close. Thompson has 21 targets through two
games, but the more impressive number is the 19 receptions for
155 yards. Thompson leads the team in targets, receptions, and
receiving yards through the first two weeks. He played 42% of
the snaps in Week 1 and 68% of the snaps Week 2 making him the
clear primary back in this offense. Unsurprisingly, Adrian Peterson
fell back to earth in Week 2. Against a laughably bad Colts run
defense, AP managed just 20 yards on 11 carries. He did chip in
with three receptions for 30 yards, but make no mistake, Peterson
is done. He will surely have another spike week at some point,
but a 33 year-old washed up RB cannot be trusted in fantasy lineups.
The Packers gave up nothing to Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray
last week (14-57 combined) and while they struggled against Jordan
Howard Week 1 (15-82), Peterson is more Cook/Murray in this scenario
than Howard. This is a game that should feature negative game
script for the Redskins, resulting in a lot more Thompson than
Peterson – just like last week.
Colts at Eagles
- (Katz) Line: PHI -6.5 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: I think it’s a legitimate question
as to whether Andrew Luck ever returns to being an elite quarterback.
He certainly hasn’t looked the part through two weeks this
season. In Week 1, he threw 1.5 games worth of passes. In Week
2, he threw for just 179 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Luck peppered T.Y. Hilton with 11 targets and he scored his second
touchdown in as many games. Even against a strong Eagles secondary,
Hilton is a great option. The next man up in the passing game
is Jack Doyle. Even though Eric Ebron has scored in each of the
first two games, Doyle has run more routes and remains Luck’s
preferred option so don’t be fooled into chasing Ebron’s
touchdowns. Outside of a fluky 75-yard touchdown to O.J. Howard
last week, the Eagles have held opposing tight ends to just five
receptions for 45 yards through two games. So Doyle may be the
next best option in the Colts passing game, but the reality is
its Hilton or bust for fantasy owners. Just be sure to monitor
the statuses of both Hilton (quad) and Doyle (hip) as neither
had practiced as of Thursday. Hilton claims he is fine, but we
know better than to take players at their word on their own health.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Marlon Mack returned last
week and played just 30% of the snaps. He was involved early,
but then gave way to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. We found
after the game that Mack is still working his way into game shape
and this was done to not gas him. Mack should see increased usage
going forward because Wilkins is slow and largely ineffective
despite his 10-61 line and Hines is purely a pass catcher. However,
we can’t know for sure when Mack will assume more than a
50% opportunity share and against the Eagles front-seven, I won’t
gamble that it’s this week. The presence of Mack vaporizes
any value for Wilkins or Hines, making this an undesirable fantasy
situation. Throwing an additional wrench into the fold is the
fact that Mack (foot, hamstring) missed practice both Wednesday
and Thursday. With the Eagles being the number one run defense
in the league through the first two weeks of the season, allowing
just 2.9 yards per carry, even if Mack sits, neither Wilkins nor
Hines has any serious upside.
Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz returns this week, rendering
any information we may have been able to glean from the first
two weeks largely irrelevant. I don’t think the Eagles passing
offense can be much worse, but it is fair to wonder if it won’t
take a couple games for Wentz to get back into the swing of things.
This is his first real game action since tearing his ACL so he
may be a bit tentative and struggle with accuracy. The good news
is Wentz is walking into a great matchup against one of the worst
secondaries in the league. The bad news is the Eagles may be able
to control this game on the ground and mostly hide Wentz while
he re-acclimates to playing football.
Even with Wentz at less than 100 percent, Nelson Agholor has
come a long way from the guy I said shouldn’t be in the
NFL back in 2016. Agholor has seen 22 targets over the first two
games and Wentz should lean on him just as much. The Eagles did
sign Jordan Matthews this week and are expected to insert him
directly into the slot, pushing Agholor to the outside. It remains
to be seen how that will impact his performance. Any concerns
over Dallas Goedert eating into Zach Ertz’s value have been
put to rest. Ertz leads the team with 23 targets and we know he
and Wentz have an established rapport from last season. Alshon
Jeffery (shoulder) returned to a limited practice this week, but
I wouldn’t trust him even if he plays.
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: The Eagles are still employing a rotating
backfield, but the rotation may be thinner as Jay Ajayi went down
with a back injury last week. Corey Clement will be the “main”
back this week if both Ajayi and Darren Sproles miss. He won’t
be a feature back because Doug Pederson doesn’t do that
so Wendell Smallwood will undoubtedly see a decent share of the
work while UDFA Josh Adams, recently signed from the practice
squad, will mix in as well and hopefully make enough of an impact
to carve out a role. The Colts were pasted on the ground by Joe
Mixon (17-95-1) in Week 1 and the Eagles have one of the league’s
premier offensive lines. Clement should see 12-15 touches and
has legitimate upside this week.
Saints at Falcons
- (Bales) Line: ATL -3.0 Total: 53.5
Game Thoughts: Drew Brees has found plenty of success
through two weeks, as he’s averaging 341 passing yards and
2.5 touchdowns per game. He’ll be traveling to Atlanta for
this game, but Brees has struggled at times on the road throughout
his career, averaging 2.3 touchdowns per game at home, but only
1.7 touchdowns per game on the road. It should be noted that the
Saints are averaging 40 pass attempts per game compared to only
28 rush attempts this season. Atlanta has historically been a
better team at home, meaning New Orleans could be forced to throw
the ball 35+ times again this week.
Atlanta is only allowing 219 passing yards per game, but those
numbers are a bit skewed because of their matchups against the
Eagles and Panthers, who are far from elite passing teams. Michael
Thomas is the focal point of New Orleans passing offense, as he
owns a 38% target share and has turned those 30 targets into 28
receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr. and
Ben Watson are the other two options in the passing attack but
they have only seen 13 and nine targets respectively. Ginn’s
big play ability makes him a boom or bust option. Sean Payton
recently stated that Tre’Quan Smith needs more touches,
but he has seen only two targets this season, and it’s unlikely
that number increases by a large amount this week.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: Alvin Kamara has been the featured running
back for New Orleans, as he has totaled 58.3% of their carries.
He gets a matchup against Atlanta, who is allowing 5.2 yards per
rush attempt, which ranks in the bottom-three of the NFL. Kamara
also ranks second on the team in targets (18), while turning those
into a 15/165/1 receiving line. Mike Gillislee is the only other
running back of note, but he’s averaging only 5.5 rush attempts
per game without seeing any targets. This game should feature
a plethora of points, and Kamara is an option that can find the
end zone multiple ways, saving himself from any poor game script
Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan is known for being a better
option at home, and he scored 31.7 fantasy points in his first
home game this season. He gets an elite matchup this weekend against
the Saints, who are allowing 326 passing yards per game this season.
That ranks fourth last in the NFL, and they have also allowed
five passing touchdowns. Atlanta is a better team at home, which
is a bit worrisome for game script, but it’s difficult to
believe Atlanta will take their foot off the peddle during this
Julio Jones owns a 41.8% target share this season, and he’s
the only player on the Falcons with double digit targets. He’ll
be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore, who is one of the best cornerbacks
in the NFL. With that being said, Mike Evans found plenty of success
against Lattimore in the first game this season and Jones is more
than capable of winning this matchup. Mohamed Sanu and Calvin
Ridley are seemingly splitting targets, limiting both of their
upside while Austin Hooper is second on the team with nine targets,
totaling eight receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Hooper
is nothing more than a risky tight end option.
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: Devonta Freeman was expected to miss multiple
weeks, but there are rumors suggesting he can play this week.
However, that’s highly unlikely after he missed Thursday’s
practice. Instead, Tevin Coleman should play the majority of the
running back snaps. In his last game without Freeman, Coleman
totaled 125 yards on 20 touches, but failed to find the end zone.
New Orleans is also allowing 102.5 rushing yards per game, and
Coleman is another running back that has multiple ways to find
success, regardless of the way this game plays out.
Giants at Texans
- (Bales) Line: HOU -6.0 Total: 42.0
Game Thoughts: Eli Manning has been extremely unproductive
this season, but it hasn’t necessarily been his fault. The
New York Giants feature one of the worst lines in the NFL, leaving
very little Manning can do. He gets a matchup this week against
the Houston Texans, who are allowing only 225 passing yards per
game. It’s highly unlikely that Manning will have time to
throw downfield, meaning he should struggle once again.
Odell Beckham Jr. dominated an elite Jacksonville defense the
first week, but cooled down last week against the Cowboys (4-51).
As mentioned above, the Giants offense has very little time to
throw the ball, limiting Beckham’s upside. Sterling Shepard
and Evan Engram are the other two top options in the Giants receiving
group, but they are in a similar situation as Beckham. This is
an extremely high upside receiving group, but it’s impossible
to trust them with this line.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley has shown flashes early
this season, scoring 20+ PPR fantasy points in each of his first
two games. His numbers were a bit skewed against Jacksonville,
as he had a 60+ yard touchdown run. He only ran for 28 yards last
week, but caught 14 of 16 targets for 80 yards. It’s clear
the Giants want to quickly dump the ball off to Barkley, raising
his floor. He’s one of the safer options in this offense.
Game Thoughts: Deshaun Watson struggled in his first
start with pressure, but that wasn’t the case last week.
Watson threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans.
He gets a matchup against the New York Giants, who are only allowing
164 passing yards per game this season, but have played two run
heavy offenses (JAC, DAL). Watson has run for 40+ yards in each
of his games this season.
DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are the top receiving options
for the Texans, as they combined for 62.5% of the targets last
week. In Week 1, Fuller was injured and Hopkins saw 11 targets
against the Patriots. Hopkins and Fuller turned the 20 targets
last week into 14 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
It shows that both players can produce, although Houston is currently
a -6 point favorite, and they may not need to throw late into
the game. There aren’t any other passing options on this
team, especially in a matchup where the Texans should be playing
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller has handled 56.7% of Houston’s
carries this season, totaling 166 yards through two games. He
saw 20 carries in his first game, and could see north of 20 carries
if Houston gets an early lead in this game. Alfred Blue has stolen
some of his work, but not enough to be considered in any leagues.
Miller is still the workhorse running back, who is also seeing
some passing work. Based on the Vegas line, Miller should be in
line for plenty of work against Giants defense that is allowing
their opponents to run for 5.2 yards per rushing attempt.
Raiders at Dolphins
- (Katz) Line: MIA -3.0 Total: 44.5
Game Thoughts: Call off the search party. We’ve
found Amari Cooper! After a dismal opening performance, Cooper
gave fantasy owners a sigh of relief with a 10-116 outing against
the Broncos. This week, he’ll match up against Xavien Howard
for most of the game if he plays the outside. The Dolphins proved
vulnerable to the slot as Quincy Enunwa (7-92) ate them up underneath
last week. Jordy Nelson ran 52% of his routes from the slot in
Week 2, but only saw four targets. I think Gruden was blowing
smoke when talking about Nelson this offseason and given Nelson’s
slow start, his time in the slot may not matter much this week.
Cooper owners would prefer he see more slot work to avoid Howard.
Regardless of who plays the slot, you cannot trust Derek Carr,
even after a game where he threw just three incompletions. Jared
Cook came back down to earth last week with four catches for 49
yards. That’s still a useful TE line, but anyone expecting
a Week 1 repeat was fooling themselves. Martavis Bryant returned,
but only played 40% of the snaps. He is off the fantasy radar.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: This is the Marshawn Lynch
show. He touched the ball 20 times and fell into the end zone
to provide solid RB2 value last week. That’s what Lynch
is – a touchdown dependent RB2. The bad news is his volume
is game script dependent. The good news is you know he’s
getting the ball at the goal line. That will remain the same this
week in a game that should remain competitive throughout. Doug
Martin is next in line for backfield touches, but doesn’t
see enough volume to warrant fantasy consideration. Ditto for
Jalen Richard unless the gamescript gets away from the Raiders.
The Dolphins gave up 35 receiving yards to Dion Lewis in Week
1 and 74 yards and a TD to Bilal Powell in Week 2.
Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill has now thrown two touchdowns
in consecutive games to start the season. Unfortunately, he’s
on such a low volume passing offense (51 attempts through two
games) and a team that isn’t good enough offensively to
justify starting him. Volume isn’t all that important for
quarterbacks as long as they are throwing touchdowns, but the
Dolphins are a bottom half of the league offense so you cannot
be confident they’ll be in a position to score on any sort
of consistent basis. When he does throw, lacking a true number
one receiver, he just spreads the ball around. Last week, no Dolphin
saw more than five targets nor had more than four receptions.
Albert Wilson and A.J. Derby scored the touchdowns, but neither
is a reliable fantasy option. Kenny Stills is a deep man and Jakeem
Grant can’t be trusted…yet. DeVante Parker might return
after being inactive last week. The Raiders held Case Keenum to
222 scoreless yards last week and Ryan Tannehill isn’t much
better than Keenum, if at all. There’s just nothing exciting
about the Dolphins passing game.
OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: The good news for Kenyan Drake owners is
he’s the clear goal line back. He punched in a six-yard
score last week. The bad news is he’s in a 60-40 split with
Frank Gore as that was literally the snap count share last week.
Drake handled 11 carries to Gore’s nine. Last week, Drake
was more efficient with 53 yards against Gore’s 25 and Drake
also caught four passes, but without workhorse volume, Drake is
nothing more than an RB2 at best. Through two games, the Raiders
are giving up a league worst 5.7 yards per carry. Drake could
be in line for his best game of the young season if the Dolphins
are able to play from in front.
49ers at Chiefs
- (Caron) Line: KC -6.5 Total: 55.0
Game Thoughts: One of the hottest quarterbacks heading
into 2018, Jimmy Garoppolo struggled of the gate this season,
with a very difficult road matchup against the Vikings in Week
1 in which he threw three interceptions. Without rushing skills
to fall back on, difficult matchups like that can lead to some
ugly fantasy days, but Garoppolo bounced back in Week 2 with a
solid performance against the Lions and he’ll now face one
of the weakest secondaries in the league as the 49ers head to
Kansas City to face the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have already given up an astonishing 876 yards and
six touchdowns in two games, with the Chargers and Steelers combining
for 111 pass attempts against them over the first two weeks of
the season. With the KC offense clicking at the pace it has been,
it would make sense that the 49ers could be in line to become
the third straight quarterback to attempt 50 passes against the
Chiefs. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin could be back this week
which would help the passing game as a whole, but he’s still
dealing with a thigh injury that might not allow him to be at
full strength. Pierre Garcon likely will continue to fit in as
the top target in the passing game this week but he’s only
been targeted 11 times through two contests, so he’ll need
to see a significant uptick in targets to produce WR1 fantasy
The player to watch in this matchup is tight end George Kittle
who leads the team with 13 targets through two contests, which
he has caught seven of for 112 yards. Kittle hasn’t made
a trip to the end zone yet but facing a defense that just gave
up eight catches for 164 yards and a touchdown to the tight end
position a week ago against the Steelers, Kittle looks like a
nice potential boom play in Week 3.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: The San Francisco backfield continues
to be a committee situation but the separation of physical talent
was certainly on display in Week 2 as Matt Breida blew up with
a big game against the Lions while Alfred Morris was his usual
plodding self, rushing for fewer than 4.0 yards per carry for
the second straight game. With Morris’ usage in the passing
game being practically nonexistent, it just makes sense for the
49ers to lean more heavily on Breida in the coming weeks, but
we might not see that come to fruition on the field quite yet.
For now, we have to approach this situation as roughly a 50-50
split which isn’t ideal for fantasy purposes, but Breida’s
explosiveness does make him a viable fantasy option against a
Chiefs defense that has been awful as a whole so far in 2018,
giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs
through the first two weeks of the season.
Game Thoughts: There were supposed to be growing pains.
There was supposed to be regression for the Kansas City offense.
There was no way that Patrick Mahomes could even come close to
what Alex Smith did during his MVP-level season in 2017.
Through two weeks, no player in the entire world of fantasy football
has exceeded expectations more than Chiefs quarterback Patrick
Mahomes. Mahomes’ absurd 10 touchdown passes are reminiscent
of the numbers he put up in the Air Raid offense at Texas Tech.
Sure, some regression is practically inevitable, but the one thing
we’ve learned is that the Kansas City offense is absolutely
loaded and it will be very difficult to slow them down this season
as long as the key players remain healthy. Mahomes’ favorite
targets in the passing game are the same as Smith’s from
a season ago, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce,
who continue to be set-and-forget top options at their position,
but even KC newcomer Sammy Watkins had a huge game against the
Steelers in Week 2, catching six passes for 100 yards.
The 49ers have already given up nearly 600 passing yards and
five passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks while forcing
no interceptions, which all contributes to making Mahomes and
his weapons some of the strongest plays in Week 3. Roll out Mahomes,
Kelce and Hill with confidence as some of the top players at their
positions while Watkins is an interesting Flex play in what should
be a high scoring contest.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: The Kansas City passing game has been
absolutely dominating early this season and that has certainly
hurt Kareem Hunt’s fantasy production, but he’s still
a player who should be started as a solid option in almost all
formats. Hunt has touched the ball 35 times through two games
and there’s little reason to believe that will change anytime
soon. Preseason concerns about Spencer Ware’s potential
role in the offense look to be false advertising and Hunt is still
clearly the workhorse back in Kansas City.
The biggest concern for Hunt owners right now is that he has
been a very minimal contributor as a receiver, despite some monster
performances from the Chiefs passing game. Thankfully he’ll
get an opportunity in Week 3 to play against a San Francisco defense
that has already conceded a shocking 21 receptions to opposing
running backs, which is second-most by defense in football. We
may need to reassess Hunt as an RB1 if he continues to be an afterthought
in the passing game but for now he’s in what should be a
good matchup against a bad defense and his usage remains high
enough that he’s a mid-level RB1.
Game Thoughts: Marcus Mariota (elbow) is still questionable,
and Blaine Gabbert simply isn’t a good NFL quarterback.
Jacksonville owns arguably the best passing defense in the NFL,
and this isn’t a matchup to use either quarterback in, especially
after Gabbert only threw the ball 20 times last week, while Tennessee
ran the ball 32 times.
Corey Davis is the clear-cut number one receiver for the Titans,
as he is the only player with double digit targets. He’s
also averaging a healthy 10 targets per game, although this is
not a matchup you can trust him in. The next healthy receiver
(Tajae Sharpe) has five targets this season, and you can expected
limited opportunities in the passing game once again. The only
other thing to consider is that Jacksonville should be leading
for the majority of the game, meaning Tennessee should be throwing
the ball late.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry are essentially
splitting snaps for the Titans. If Mariota is ruled out again,
they will continue to see a major chunk of the offensive production
this week. Overall, Lewis is averaging 18 touches per game, while
Henry is averaging only 14 touches. Of the two, Lewis is the better
option, as he will likely benefit from the negative game script.
Lewis is seen as the passing down back, although he also plays
early downs. It will be difficult for Henry to hit value outside
of a touchdown in this game, and Tennessee will likely struggle
to score points against this defense.
RB2: Dion Lewis (low-end)
Bench: Marcus Mariota, Blaine Gabbert, Derrick Henry, Corey Davis
Game Thoughts: Blake Bortles proved that he can take
over a game if needed, as he threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns
against the Patriots last week. He generally is not needed, though,
and it’s tough to believe he will be against the Titans
this week. The Titans are allowed 256 passing yards per game,
but that has been in two relatively close games. The Jags likely
will not need to throw that often this week.
The Jaguars receiving group is a bit difficult to predict, as
they have four players with 10+ targets, but none with 15 targets.
Keelan Cole is the best option, as he posted a 7/116/1 line against
the Patriots last week. Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and Austin
Seferian-Jenkins all caught touchdowns last week, as well. Overall,
expectations for this group need to be tempered, as it’s
much more likely that Bortles throws for closer to 30 attempts
(Week 1) than 45 (last week), especially if Leonard Fournette
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette has been limited in
practice this week, but he’s expected to play. He saw 12
touches in Jacksonville’s first game before leaving with
a hamstring injury in the first quarter. He was also playing a
role in the passing attack. The only concern is that Jacksonville
gets out to an early lead, and they rest Fournette because of
his injury. T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and Corey Grant are two players
that are being featured in the passing game, but they will likely
play reserve roles if Fournette is healthy. Furthermore, Tennessee
is allowing 4.9 yards per rush attempt, and Jacksonville should
rely heavily on the run this week.
Chargers at Rams
- (Caron) Line: LAR -7.0 Total: 48.0
Game Thoughts: The first head-to-head matchup of the
two new Los Angeles franchises features the Chargers going “on
the road” to face the Rams in what could be the game of
the week. Chargers’ Philip Rivers has come out of the gate
strong, throwing three touchdowns in each of his first two contests
with only one total interception, adding 680 passing yards to
go along with those already impressive numbers. Rivers has found
a weapon out of the backfield in Melvin Gordon while also continuing
to feed the ball to top wideout Keenan Allen, but he’s also
spreading the ball around the field in an impressive fashion.
The Chargers have six different pass catchers who have caught
at least five passes through the first two games, including second-year
receiver Mike Williams who seems to be coming into his own and
may soon establish himself as the clear second target in the Chargers
wide receiver group. Tyrell Williams has actually out-snapped
Mike Williams through the first two games but the younger Williams
has seen more targets and been more productive with those targets.
Both are likely to vulture targets from one another for the time
being, but there’s little question that the Chargers hope
to see their 2017 first round pick continue to develop on the
Unfortunately the Chargers do face a difficult Week 3 matchup
against the Rams who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to
opposing quarterbacks through the first two games of the season.
Of course, the QBs they’ve faced, Derek Carr and Sam Bradford,
are not on the level of Rivers, but there’s still a decent
possibility that Rivers and the Chargers passing game will be
slowed down significantly in this matchup. We’re still rolling
out Keenan Allen, but the other members of the passing game -
including Rivers himself - probably can be left on many fantasy
benches this week.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: He’s only touched the ball 24 times
for 92 yards on the ground through two games, but preseason notes
from reporters that the Chargers planned to use Melvin Gordon
more in the passing game this season appear to be true. Gordon
has already caught a ridiculous 15 passes through two games, putting
him firmly in the top five at the position in that category. While
there’s almost no way that he continues to catch this many
passes, Gordon’s overall usage is encouraging and makes
him a strong RB1 in practically any matchup, including against
a solid Rams defense.
It’s obvious that we’re starting Gordon this week,
but the other member of the Chargers backfield that has fantasy
owners interested is Austin Ekeler. A talented pass-catching option,
Ekeler has already touched the ball 24 times through two contests
despite Gordon’s high usage, and he’s averaging over
nine yards per touch. Ekeler won’t be supplanting Gordon
as the Chargers’ lead back anytime soon but there’s
no reason to believe that the team is suddenly going to completely
go away from him, either. He appears to be here to stay and that
might actually be a good thing both for the Los Angeles offense
as well as the long-term health of Gordon. He’s only a deep
PPR Flex sleeper at this point, but Ekeler is a player who should
be owned in most leagues and started by owners who are in a pinch
with their running backs.
Game Thoughts: He’s only thrown three touchdowns
through his first two games, but Rams quarterback Jared Goff continues
to run one of the league’s most efficient offenses. His
targets have been consolidated almost exclusively between four
players, including running back Todd Gurley, which has helped
make all three of his top wide receivers into fantasy-relevant
players. The best of the bunch so far has been newcomer Brandin
Cooks who leads the team in catches (12) and yards (246). While
he’s yet to get into the end zone, it seems like it’s
just a matter of time before he beats a defense deep. This week
he faces a Chargers secondary that is considered to be talented
but was absolutely obliterated by Tyreek Hill back in Week 1.
Cooks is a great WR2 with top five upside this week while Cupp
and Woods are reliable WR3/Flex plays in what could end up being
an offensive shootout.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley barely cracked the 2.0 yards
per carry mark in Week 2 against the Cardinals, but his three
touchdowns certainly put a smile on fantasy owners faces as he
makes his case to be the fantasy football MVP again in 2018. The
Chargers are a solid run defense but there really aren’t
any defenses in the league that would keep Gurley out of being
ranked as a solid RB1. The usage in both the running and the passing
game, particularly at the goal line, make Gurley one of the highest
floor players in all of fantasy football while also giving him
the elite upside that could make him the top scorer on the board
in any given week.
Backup running back Malcolm Brown had a surprisingly high number
of touches in Week 2, but much of that came well into the game
after Gurley had been removed from the contest. Gurley was dealing
with some minor cramping and the Rams were up multiple scores
with the game well in hand, so it made sense for LA to preserve
their prized back. Don’t expect that to happen in most games,
especially here in Week 2 in a game that is likely to see quite
a few points scored by both teams.
Bears at Cardinals
- (Caron) Line: CHI -5.0 Total: 38.0
Game Thoughts: It hasn’t been a particularly great
start to the fantasy season for Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago
passing game, but there have been signs of life for this once
stagnant offense. Allen Robinson seems to be re-establishing himself
as the target monster that made him one of the best fantasy football
wide receivers back in 2015 and Trey Burton got into the endzone
for the first time as a member of the Bears this past week. Burton,
rookie Anthony Miller and the other member of this passing game
are yet to truly break out so far this season but they’re
doing a decent enough job of giving Trubisky some other options
to throw to in the passing game.
He does get a decent matchup here in Week 3 against a weak Arizona
defense that has already given up over 600 yards passing through
two games. Trubisky is still a low-end QB2 option, but his under-the-radar
rushing ability does give him some upside. Robinson would typically
be ranked a bit higher but he’s a low-end WR2 this week
in what could be a difficult matchup if the Cardinals opt to shadow
him with cornerback Patrick Peterson.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: Chicago running back Jordan Howard has
been known as one of the top between-the-tackles grinders in the
league so far in his young career, but he’s actually off
to a bit of a slow start on the ground in 2018. Howard has averaged
just barely over 4.0 yards per carry and he hasn’t yet strolled
into the endzone. However, what should have fantasy owners double-checking
the box score is his surprisingly high usage in the passing game.
Howard caught just 52 total passes through the first 32 regular
season games of his NFL career, but he’s already caught
eight passes through the first two games of 2018, putting him
on a pace for 64 receptions this season. Certainly Howard is not
going to be the team’s primary pass-catching back - that
role should eventually lean back toward Tarik Cohen - but the
uptick in passing game usage has helped Howard remain a decent
enough fantasy option even though he’s struggled a bit on
the ground. This week he’ll get one of the best on-paper
matchups possible as he goes up against an Arizona defense that
has given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs
so far this season.
Howard is a viable low-end RB1 play in both standard and PPR
formats this week, but Cohen should probably remain on your bench
until we see more usage from him or at least a matchup that the
Bears are likely to fall behind in and thus need to rely more
on their passing game.
Game Thoughts: After an embarrassing blowout, shutout
loss to the Rams in Week 2, it’s now time to start seriously
worrying about the entire Arizona offense. We expected them to
struggle, we expected them to lose, but we didn’t expect
them to look completely helpless on offense. Head coach Steve
Wilks confirmed this week that Sam Bradford will start again for
the Cardinals this week, but if he struggles again, there’s
plenty of reason to believe that the team could give rookie Josh
Rosen a chance. That makes playing Bradford a serious risk even
in two-quarterback formats.
The only player to even consider in this passing game at the
moment is wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who himself is currently
dealing with a hamstring injury that has limited him in practice.
Fitzgerald hasn’t produced many fantasy points yet this
season but he’s caught 10 passes on 15 targets and should
continue to be the lead pass catcher in this offense. It remains
to be seen how valuable that will be, but for now he’s still
worthy of a low-end WR2 start in PPR formats.
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: Running back David Johnson was a consensus
top five overall pick in fantasy drafts this offseason but fantasy
owners are feeling very panicked after two awful games from their
first round pick. Johnson himself hasn’t looked particularly
poor, but the Cardinals offense has been so bad that he just hasn’t
been given many opportunities. It’s hard to get much going
as a runner when your team is getting blown out by a total score
of 58-to-6 over its first two games.
But look, those games are in the past. We now realize that the
Arizona offense is probably not good enough to make Johnson a
fantasy MVP candidate, but the usage rates should still be good
enough that he produces some quality fantasy production this season.
He’s been given 28 total touches in two games and that number
figures to go up in games where the Cardinals are at least able
to stay relatively close on the scoreboard. That seems at least
more likely to happen this week as the Bears offense hasn’t
been great so far this season. The Chicago defense has been quite
good, though, so high touch totals still might not lead to great
production for Johnson if he’s unable to get into the end
zone. Still, despite the early season worries, Johnson should
still be in your lineup for now.
Cowboys at Seahawks
- (Caron) Line: SEA -1.5 Total: 41.0
Game Thoughts: In game with one of the lowest implied
point totals for the week, the Dallas Cowboys head to Seattle
to face the Seahawks in what is expected to be mostly a defensive
battle. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been unable to establish
much chemistry with any of his pass catchers which has led to
some weak fantasy days from him so far this season despite the
fact that he’s yet to throw an interception. He still has
some rushing ability which does give him a decently high floor
as we saw this past week when he ran for 45 yards against the
Giants, but Prescott’s ceiling as a passer appears to be
about as low as any QB in the league at the moment. The Cowboys
simply have no high-level pass catching options in their offense.
Not a single Dallas receiver has double-digit receptions and only
one (Cole Beasley) has more than 10 total targets through the
first two games of the season. The Cowboys remain a run-first,
ball control offense despite being without center Travis Frederick
and that is unlikely to change. They’ve run the second-fewest
offensive plays in the league so far this season and until that
changes, the Cowboys passing game is one to avoid for fantasy
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: We had concerns that Ezekiel Elliott would
suffer the same fate that David Johnson has dealt with early in
the season by playing in a low-powered offense, but Elliott just
continues to be one of the elite fantasy players in the league.
Elliott has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his first two
games of the season but he’s also been targeted 10 times
in the passing game. He’s caught eight of those for only
26 yards, but he has such a reliable workload that it seems almost
inconceivable that he’d get fewer than 15 touches in any
game this season as long as he’s healthy. That type of usage
alone, even in tough matchups, makes Elliott a solid fantasy RB1.
The Seahawks haven’t conceded a rushing touchdown yet this
season, but there’s a good chance that changes this week
against Elliott and the Cowboys.
Game Thoughts: The criticisms of the Seattle offensive
line are valid, but it’s getting to the point that it might
be time to start looking at the quarterback position with a bit
more of a critical eye as well. Russell Wilson has historically
started off slow in a number of seasons throughout his career,
but the disappointing play we saw from him against the Bears in
Week 2 is seriously concerning. Sure, he’s still without
his top receiver in Doug Baldwin, but Wilson looked completely
lost at times as a passer and worse yet, he’s simply not
using his legs like he has in the past. Wilson finished second
among all quarterbacks with 586 rushing yards in 2017, which helped
him become the highest-scoring player at the position. This season,
he’s run the ball just five times for 24 yards through two
games. Rushing yardage, particularly for quarterbacks, can often
be game script-dependent and can also come in chunks, but for
Wilson owners, it’s becoming a major concern that he’s
not buoying his fantasy production with his legs.
It’s not all terrible for Wilson as he’s still been
a mid-level QB2 through two games, but the problem is that we
haven’t seen much that gives us much belief that it will
get significantly better, at least until Baldwin is back on the
field. Baldwin is still likely a few weeks from getting back,
so for now we need to temper our expectations for Wilson, especially
against a front-seven like Dallas’ that is capable of getting
after the quarterback. The Cowboys have only given up one passing
touchdown through their first two games and their defense has
so far lived up to the billing of being much-improved this season.
Veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall currently leads the team
with nine receptions, but he’s third on the team in receiving
yardage. He’s playing just two-thirds of Seattle’s
offensive snaps while Tyler Lockett has been on the field for
almost every play so far this season. Lockett has just eight receptions
so far but he’s scored in both games. Make no mistake about
it - for now, Lockett is Seattle’s WR1 and is really the
only pass catcher in this offense who has anything other than
very deep league value. Yes, tight end Will Dissly has also scored
in each game, but he’s a player that seems almost guaranteed
for regression as he was not a productive pass catcher at the
college level and he’s at best the third option in the Seattle
passing game. You could do worse at tight end, but he’s
a mid-level fantasy TE2 unless we see him continue to produce.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: It’s true that Chris Carson continues
to be the “starting” running back in Seattle, but
what does that really mean for fantasy purposes? Through two games,
the answer appears to be pretty simple - not much. Carson has
carried the ball just 13 times, caught just three passes and has
failed to get into the end zone. While his yards per carry are
so far substantially higher than his rookie teammate Rashaad Penny,
it has been Penny who has out-touched Carson by a total of 21
to 16 through two contests. Projecting which way this backfield
will go - if either way - is anyone’s guess, but the truth
is that the Seattle offensive line, and the offense as whole,
is simply not good enough to give either of these backs the opportunity
to be a consistent fantasy producer as long as they’re stealing
touches from one another.
With neither player being much of an asset in the passing game,
a matchup against the Cowboys defense that just held the Giants
and Panthers backfields to a combined 117 rushing yards through
two weeks does not look appetizing for either Carson or Penny.
If you have to play one, it should probably be Carson as he’s
shown a bit more juice on his touches so far, but avoiding this
situation entirely seems like a much better option.
Patriots @ Lions
- (Swanson) Line: NE -7.0 Total: 53.5
Game Thoughts: The Patriots made a splash this week by
trading a conditional fifth-round pick to the Browns for wide
receiver Josh Gordon. The jury is still out on whether or not
the embattled young star will be a fit in a rigid team environment
like the Patriots. Not only will Gordon be expected to be on time
to meetings and accountable, but the New England offense is also
notoriously complex and difficult to master.
Gordon will likely be active for the game against Detroit this
week and could see the field in certain packages to provide Tom
Brady a missing downfield threat. But it is unclear just how many
snaps Flash will play or if he will be used much at all after
just joining the team.
Brady may not need much help defeating the Lions, a defense that
has been overmatched in two losses against the Jets and the 49ers,
allowing their opponents to score on just over half of all offensive
possessions. In addition to failing to get sufficient pressure
on the quarterback, the Lions defensive front displayed poor gap
discipline against the 49ers and Jets, allowing multiple long
A positive note for the Detroit defense is the fact that they
have allowed only fifth-fewest passing yards (404) and only four
passing touchdowns. The bad news is those stats are skewed by
gaudy rushing numbers allowed and the fact that their special
teams have allowed big plays and negative game scripts afforded
opponents the ability to lean on the run. To make matters worse
for the Lions, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be out to beat
their former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in what could
be an ugly game for Detroit.
Patricia will likely employ a similar bracket coverage scheme
that Jacksonville used last week to look to take away Rob Gronkowski.
Look for Brady to respond with more targets to Hogan on the outside
and James White out of the backfield, while also placing a heavy
focus on running the ball against the league’s fourth-worst
run defense. Look for New England to also target cornerback Darius
Slay’s replacement outside if Slay is unable to play due
to a concussion.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: The Patriots are one of nine teams in
the NFL that has yet to score a rushing touchdown in the first
two games of the season. That is a surprising stat considering
that New England finished as a top-5 team in points scored by
running backs in each of the past four seasons. Look for that
to change this week as the Patriots will likely take advantage
of a Lions defense that allowed long touchdown runs to Isaiah
Crowell Week 1 and Matt Breida last week in San Francisco.
The million dollar question is which Patriot will be the beneficiary
of the great matchup against the Lions, as Sony Michel, the team’s
first-round pick this summer out of The University of Georgia,
is now in the mix after missing the first game with a knee injury.
Rex Burkhead and Michel played in 15 and 13 snaps respectively
last week against the Jaguars, with pass-catching scat-bat James
White playing on a team-high 34 snaps.
The play distribution in this game will likely be significantly
different than how things played out in Jacksonville, as the Patriots
were quickly behind and playing catch up with a 14-0 deficit.
An inverse game script is likely in this game, and more touches
for both Michel and Burkhead are likely in store.
Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford appeared to be in a funk
for the entire game against the Jets and the first half of game
two against the San Francisco 49ers, with questionable throws
after questionable throws as his team lost their first two games.
Stafford finally started to get his confidence back midway through
the Week 2 game at Levis Stadium and torched the 49ers for 347
yards and three passing touchdowns, nearly bringing the Lions
back for a late come-from-behind victory.
Stafford will look to build upon that solid second-half performance
this week against a Patriots defense that has allowed the eighth-most
points to opposing quarterbacks this season, including a four-touchdown
game by Blake Bortles last week in Jacksonville. Outside of Stephon
Gilmore, New England does not have a player in the secondary that
the Lions should avoid in their offensive scheme, and starting
safety Patrick Chung did not practice on Thursday and is likely
out again this week with a concussion.
The Lions boast three wide receivers who are startable assets
in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay, giving Stafford
more than enough firepower to attack the sub-par New England secondary.
No longer just a deep threat, Golladay has 13 catches for 203
yards and one touchdown on 21 targets, making the second-year
player a nice WR3 option with WR2 upside in all formats. Tate
and Jones continue to have excellent value as well, with Tate
leading the team in targets with 28 and Jones adding 108 yards
and a touchdown through two games.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: The Lions are one of many running back
committees that infuriate fantasy owners, as the three-headed
monster of Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick
have just 115 combined rushing yards on 29 carries, with zero
touchdowns posted in either game. Johnson and Blount each carried
the ball eight times for 43 and 38 yards respectively last week
against SF, while Riddick posted a game-high nine catches out
of the backfield.
Of the first two early down backs, Johnson has been the most
impressive, and he was far more active in the passing game than
Blount last week. It is a shame that Johnson will not likely receive
more than ten rushes against a Patriots team that is giving up
nearly five yards per carry this young season.
Game script in what should be a high scoring game should give
Riddick and Johnson ample work in the passing game and could make
each player worthy of a start in PPR formats. Blount is a far
more risky start, with the majority of his value coming as a td-dependent
play in only deep leagues.
Steelers at Bucs
- (Bales) Line: PIT -1.5 Total: 53.5
Game Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger has looked elite this
season, throwing for 787 yards and four touchdowns, while playing
one game in terrible weather. He now gets a matchup against the
Bucs, who have been getting in shootouts this season, allowing
377 yards and 2.0 touchdowns per game. Roethlisberger is also
averaging over 50 attempts per game, and that could continue in
what looks to be another shootout without much defense.
Antonio Brown is still the top option for the Steelers, leading
the team with 33 targets (16.5 per game). He was also vocally
upset this week, and Pittsburgh may be looking to get him the
ball even more. The other top option is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who
has recorded an 18/240/1 line on 27 targets this season. Tampa
Bay doesn’t feature any cornerbacks that are going to be
able to slow down this duo, and they should continue to post massive
numbers together. Jesse James and Vance McDonald are stealing
targets from each other, and while they both come with some upside,
it is a situation best avoided.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: James Conner is the workhorse running
back for Pittsburgh for as long as Le’Veon Bell is out.
He has handled 49 of the 51 running back touches this season,
totaling 257 yards and three touchdowns through two games. Predictably,
Tampa Bay has slowed down their opponents rushing attacks because
of their struggles against the pass. Conner should continue to
play a major role in this game, and he’s a player that is
guaranteed snaps in a game that should feature a plethora of scoring
Game Thoughts: Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing at an
other-worldly level through the first two games. He has totaled
819 yards and eight touchdowns on 61 attempts. He gets a matchup
against the Steelers, who allowed Patrick Mahomes to throw for
326 yards and six touchdowns on only 28 attempts. While Fitzpatrick
likely won’t see that type of efficiency, it still bodes
well for his fantasy upside.
Mike Evans has been his favorite target, nearly doubling the
targets of the next highest receiver. Evans has caught 17 of 19
targets for 230 yards and two touchdowns. DeSean Jackson and Chris
Godwin have been splitting targets, but this offense has allowed
both players to produce. Jackson has posted a 100% catch rate,
recording a 9/275/3 line through two games as the clear deep threat.
Godwin has seen 10 targets, catching eight of them for 97 yards
and two touchdowns. At some point in time, this offense will slow
down, but this is a matchup they can take advantage of. Pittsburgh
is going to score, meaning Tampa Bay will be throwing to match
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Peyton Barber is the lead running back
for Tampa Bay, but he has struggled quite a bit this season. He’s
averaging only 2.6 yards per attempt, but he’s also averaging
17.5 rush attempts per game. Pittsburgh is allowing 152 rushing
yards per game this season, and Barber has the potential to breakout.
He isn’t a player that you can trust, but he should be more
efficient against this defense, while potentially finding the