By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
It’s been a crazy year, but football is finally back, and we’re ready to set the fantasy table for Week 2 of Love/Hate. To clarify, when we say we “love” a player, we mean that we expect him to outperform his projections for that week, and the opposite for players we “hate.” We are using PPR scoring when we refer to players’ rankings. With that in mind, let’s get to it. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Kyler Murray (ARI) vs. Washington
The Cardinals looked like a revamped franchise last week in their comeback win against the 49ers, and Kyler looked like the quarterback he’s been hyped up to be. Murray quickly established a solid connection with star WR DeAndre Hopkins, and it’s going to be exciting to see what Murray is able to do in his sophomore season with some real firepower at wide receiver. The Washington defense looked stout in the second half against the Eagles in Week 1, but it’s too small of a sample size to consider them a threat to Murray’s production. Murray is a top 3 QB this week.
Chris: Aaron Rodgers (GB) vs. Detroit
After being a consensus top fantasy football quarterback for years, Rodgers entered the 2020 season ranked by most experts as a middle-of-the-pack option. He’s 36 years old, the team doesn’t have much depth at wide receiver, and they just used their first-round draft selection on a quarterback. Rodgers threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers’ 43-34 road win last week, a good response to any doubt of his abilities. This week, he’ll face a Lions defense that allowed the most passing yards per game last season and let a Mitch Trubisky-led Bears offense score 27 points on them in week one of this year. Rodgers will play at home this week, where his passer rating is 9.1 points higher than on the road in his career. Expect another dominant performance from A-Rod this weekend.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Deshaun Watson (HOU) vs. Baltimore
Poor Deshaun Watson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in football, but he just can’t get any help. The Chiefs blitzed the daylight out of him and his lowly offensive line, but Watson still managed 20 points in a lopsided loss to Kansas City on opening night. I don’t think Watson will get as lucky in Week 2. The Ravens defense is solid top to bottom and absolutely manhandled Baker Mayfield and the Browns, and I’m looking for a similar result for Watson and the Texans against a defense that held opposing quarterbacks to a second-lowest 12 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Carson Wentz (PHI) vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Eagles blew a 17-0 lead in week one to a Washington team that carried low expectations this season. Wentz looked lost, throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice (losing one), while under constant pressure from a fierce Washington front. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson is expected to play this week, but Wentz shouldn’t expect much more comfort in the pocket due to an Aaron Donald-led Rams pass rush that looked disruptive against a solid Cowboys offensive line last week. Philadelphia’s offense is still lacking a reliable wide receiver corps and Jalen Ramsey will make the problem worse. Try to find another option at quarterback this week.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Aaron Jones (GB) vs. Detroit
Jones opened up the 2020 season with 66 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown against Minnesota in Week 1, and he’ll figure to see similar usage and production against a weaker Lions defense. The Packers answered any questions about their offensive capabilities with a lopsided win over the Vikings, and it’s good to see that Aaron Jones remains a large part of this offense. Detroit allowed 22 fantasy points per game, the fourth highest in the league, to opposing running backs in 2019 and allowed the Bears to rush for over 100 yards in Week 1, so expect a big week from Jones.
Chris: Ronald Jones II (TB) vs. Carolina
As far as we know, Jones is the starting running back this week in Tampa Bay’s home opener. That may not have been the inspiring start to this paragraph you were hoping for if you have Jones on your fantasy team, but it’s the truth. Jones was on the field for just 47% of the Buccaneers’ offensive snaps in week one, but he handled a hefty workload of 17 carries and three targets. If he has a similar level of involvement on Sunday against a weak Panthers run defense, he could certainly be a top-ten fantasy running back this week. Carolina allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game in 2019, and seems to be on track for more of the same in 2020, as Josh Jacobs enjoyed a three-touchdown, 93-yard rushing performance against the Panthers last week.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Chris Carson (SEA) vs. New England
Carson impressed fantasy owners with 24 points and a pair of touchdowns in Seattle’s Week 1 victory in Atlanta, but if you look deeper at his stat line, there is a bit of cause for concern. Carson logged just six carries for 21 yards, and it would have been a disappointing day had he not snagged a couple of scores early. Pete Carroll has expressed that Carson is still the lead back in Seattle, but the fact that Carlos Hyde out-carried him in his first game as a Seahawk concerns me and is something to keep an eye on. The Patriots boast one of the best run defenses in the league, holding opposing running backs to just 11 points a year ago, so Carson may be in for a down week.
Chris: Malcolm Brown (LAR) @ Philadelphia
There are too many question marks here for my liking. We could see Cam Akers play a significant role in this game, as he did last week when he logged 14 carries in his NFL debut. Additionally, creating anything resembling a running game against the Eagles has been a tall task for offenses over the past several years. In each season since 2016, Philadelphia has boasted a top-seven rushing defense in terms of yards allowed per game. So, what happened in their 2020 opener? They allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards of any team in the league. Brown had an impressive week-one performance, and could be a viable option most weeks this season, but I would shy away from him in this matchup.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: Stefon Diggs (BUF) @ Miami
Diggs had an impressive debut with the Bills in their Week 1 victory against the Jets, tallying 8 receptions for 86 yards. Josh Allen was throwing the ball well, and it’s nice to see that he and Diggs have established a solid rapport this early. It’s only a matter of time before Diggs solidifies his spot as the undisputed WR 1 in Buffalo, and a Week 2 matchup against a suspect Dolphins defense is a great spot for Diggs to break out, as Miami was the second most generous defense to opposing WR’s in 2019, allowing just over 27 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Emmanuel Sanders (NO) @ Las Vegas
With Michael Thomas expected to miss the Saints’ Monday night game in Las Vegas, Sanders is slated to see an expanded role in Sean Payton’s offense. The veteran wide receiver was tied with Thomas for third on the team in targets in week one, behind Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, but could feasibly lead the team in the category this week. Not only will Sanders garner more attention from quarterback Drew Brees, but the Raiders were dreadful at defending wide receivers last season. With high volume and a favorable matchup, Sanders is a solid option this week.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Terry McLaurin (WSH) @ Arizona
It was a bit of an underwhelming 2020 debut for Scary Terry, who made my love list last week. McLaurin saw just seven targets from Haskins, which is concerning considering that McLaurin lived on his huge target share in 2019. Because the Washington offense is very low on offensive playmakers, McLaurin is going to see all kinds of extra attention from opposing defenses. This week, that likely means a shadow from Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson. I would wait a week on McLaurin.
Chris: D.K. Metcalf (SEA) vs. New England
We continue the tradition of putting a receiver facing the Patriots on the hate list. Metcalf has exceeded expectations so far in his NFL career, but he has a very difficult matchup ahead of him this Sunday. Metcalf and New England’s secondary share similar strengths: their physicality. The Patriots play an aggressive man-to-man defense, and they play it very well. They also do a good job of limiting big plays, which are Metcalf’s bread and butter. Whether J.C. Jackson or Stephon Gilmore is covering Metcalf this Sunday, he’ll have a tough time putting up big numbers.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Darren Waller (LV) vs. New Orleans
The Raiders unveil their new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Monday night in a primetime matchup with the Saints, fresh off their Week 1 road win in Carolina. In that game, the Raiders offense looked impressive, putting up 34 points against the Panthers. Even with the addition of Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, Waller led the team with 8 targets, even if he did not have the kind of production fantasy owners were hoping for against a weak Carolina defense. Still, his target share makes him an easy start every week, and his matchup against an exploitable Saints secondary in what should be a high-scoring game makes for a plus matchup for the veteran tight end.
Chris: Evan Engram (NYG) @ Chicago
Engram failed to produce the flashiest stat line in the Giants’ first game of the season, but he was targeted seven times – including twice in the red zone – by Daniel Jones, which should be enough to hold back fantasy managers from hitting the panic button. The questions about Engram have always revolved around his health, not his talent, and he’s healthy as he heads into an advantageous matchup against the Bears in week two. While Chicago’s defense was stout last year, they were generous to opposing tight ends. The trend continued in their season opener last week, as T.J. Hockenson scored 16.6 fantasy points against the Bears. Engram is in a good position to bounce back this weekend as the Giants look to capture their first win of the season.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Rob Gronkowski (TB) vs. Carolina
Gronk was nowhere to be seen in his debut with Tampa last week, and as a result he’s back on my hate list for Week 2. I’m just not buying him at all. Even against a brutal Panthers defense, there’s little reason to trust that Gronkowski can turn it all back on out of nowhere. Stay away from the former Patriot until he proves he can, once again, be a consistent fantasy tight end.
Chris: T.J. Hockenson (DET) @ Green Bay
Hockenson put up big numbers in the Lions’ heartbreaking loss against Chicago last week, but was tied for fourth on the team in targets with five. The second-year tight end also faces a Green Bay defense that limited him to just four receptions for 21 yards in their sole matchup last season. It wasn’t just Hockenson though, the Packers’ defense proved troublesome for most opposing tight ends last year. With mediocre volume expected and a challenging road game on the horizon, Hockenson could have difficulty repeating his week one success.
Defenses we love this week
Cole: Chicago Bears (vs. Detroit)
Chris: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Carolina)
Defenses we hate this week
Cole: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Denver)
Chris: New England Patriots (@ Seattle)
Spreads we love this week
Cole: Ravens -7.5, 49ers -7, Vikings +3
Chris: Chiefs -9, 49ers -7, Ravens -7
Edited by Tyler Kading