By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
As we turn the page to Week 2, here is our list of players to be confident in and be skeptical of. 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. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Dak Prescott (DAL) @ Washington
Prescott had his way against a suspect NY Giants secondary last week, gashing the G-Men for 405 yards and 4 TDs, putting up 31 fantasy points. He and Amari Cooper looked in synch the whole game, and he looked like a true pocket passer. He’ll face another questionable defense that just let Carson Wentz put up 25 points, mostly in the second half. This should be a game Dallas controls, so look for the Cowboys’ offense to try and get off to a quick start under the right arm of their franchise quarterback.
Chris: Tom Brady (NE) @ Miami
The 42-year-old Patriots signal caller gets the Miami Dolphins in week two of the NFL season. Yes, the Patriots have a history of losing on the road against Miami, but the 2019 “tanking for Tua” Dolphins are not on par with previous squads. The entire country watched Josh McDaniels` offense dismantle a revamped Steelers defense last week, while the Dolphins allowed 59 points to a team known for its defense. The stars are aligning for this contest to be the biggest blowout of the week, meaning big fantasy numbers for Brady and Co.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Drew Brees (NO) @ LA Rams
Over the past year or so, New Orleans has become more and more intent on running the ball, and a big part of that is the presence and emergence of Alvin Kamara. I would be very surprised if this game turns into the shootout that it was a year ago. The Rams held Cam Newton to just 5.4 points last week, and while you can’t expect that weak of a performance from the future hall-of-famer, Brees is primed for a down week on the road against one of the NFL’s top-3 defenses.
Chris: Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) @ Cincinnati
In case you were thinking about starting Garoppolo against the Bengals because of their poor defense, I would advise against it. Garoppolo had what should have been an easy opponent last week in the Bucs defense, but failed to live up to expectations, producing only 10.4 fantasy points. The Bengals defense impressed me for the large majority of the game against the Seahawks in week one, specifically their defensive line. While I am not sure if that will roll over into this week, I am not confident at all in Garoppolo`s fantasy prospects. Since joining the 49ers, Garoppolo has thrown for 13 TD and 9 INT (they are 7-2 in those games) and has never really looked great. In addition, we heard about some awful practices he had this offseason coming off of a shortened 2018 season due to a torn ACL. Call me a skeptic of Garoppolo for week two against Cincinnati.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Chris Carson (SEA) @ Pittsburgh
Chris Carson continues to be one of the most undervalued players in the NFL. In 2018, the Seattle Seahawks led the NFL in rushing, and Carson was the biggest reason why. He only totaled 45 rushing yards in Week 1, but his presence in the receiving game is what makes him a potential top 10 RB every week. Pete Carroll has shown he is willing to play Carson on all three downs, and he is the definition of a workhouse back. We all saw what happened to the Pittsburgh defense on national television last Sunday night, so there should be plenty of opportunities both in the running and passing game.
Chris: Mark Ingram II (BAL) vs. Arizona
In 2018, the Arizona Cardinals allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. In 2018, the Baltimore Ravens rushed for the second most yards on a per game basis. What do these two statements mean? Start. Mark. Ingram. In. Week. Two. This is a matchup made in heaven as we get the retooled Baltimore offense playing at home against the lowly Cardinals. The game script in this one should be beneficial to Ingram as well, as we will likely see him as the primary ball carrier in the fourth quarter with the Ravens running out the clock. If you have Ingram on your team, be excited, you’re not going to get a better matchup than this.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Todd Gurley (LAR) vs. Saints
Last week was the nightmare scenario for Todd Gurley owners. The one thing we thought he would have for sure was the goalline work, but it turned out to be Malcolm Brown who vultured the only two rushing touchdowns of the day for Los Angeles. This is big problem for Gurley’s fantasy ceiling, as Sean McVay has been vocal about getting his star RB as much rest as needed during the regular season. Darrell Henderson was the supposed 3rd down back that we didn’t see much of in Week 1, so we can’t rule him out of seeing increased touches, and with Malcolm Brown now back on the fantasy radar, Gurley really takes a fantasy hit. When you factor all of this in with the fact that the Saints had the 2nd best rushing defense of 2018, Gurley looks primed to struggle in Week 2.
Chris: Devonta Freeman (ATL) vs. Philadelphia
Yikes. That is the best way to describe the Falcons performance in week one against the Vikings. The whole offensive unit struggled until it was garbage time in the fourth quarter, making the
final score of 28-12 look deceptively closer than it really was. Freeman had only 11 total touches (8 carries and 3 receptions) while mustering just 31 total yards and a fumble just outside of the red zone. Freeman gets another tough matchup in week two against a stingy Eagles rush defense that allowed the fourth-lowest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: Alshon Jeffery (PHI) @ Atlanta
After a slow start, the Eagles’ offense hit their stride in the second half against Washington. A big part of that was the return of DeSean Jackson’s deep ball presence, but what flew under the radar last week was that Alshon Jeffery had six receptions and two TD’s in Philly’s second-half comeback. He’ll see the Falcons in primetime in Week 2, a team that has been defensively-challenged for years and who is coming off of an embarrassing loss against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. I expect this game to be high-scoring, and with the Falcons’ now having to respect DeSean Jackson, there should be plenty of room for Alshon to go to work on the league’s 26th best pass defense.
Chris: JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) vs. Seattle
Finding himself in the love column this week is JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu was the sole bright spot in the Steelers embarrassing week one loss in prime-time, reeling in six catches for 78 yards, most of which came against Stephon Gilmore. The Steelers face a Seattle secondary that did not look good last week against an Andy Dalton-led, A.J. Green-less Bengals offense, allowing 418 passing yards. There should not be much panic over this Pittsburg offense, they are led by a Super Bowl-winning head coach and a veteran QB. I expect the Steelers to look much better against the Seahawks, having knocked off the rust (Roethlisberger played just 20 snaps for the Steelers in the preseason) in week one against New England.
Wide Receivers we hate this week
Cole: Adam Thielen (MIN) @ Green Bay
The Vikings threw 10 times last week. Yep, only 10. One of those happened to be a 23-TD pass to Adam Thielen on the first drive of the game. The only thing less trustworthy than Kirk Cousins at home is Kirk Cousins on the road, especially against a revitalized Packers defense that stifled Mitch Trubisky and the Bears. The Vikings will be forced to air it out more this week, so Thielen should see more opportunities than last week, but in a run-heavy offense like Minnesota’s, that can only mean so much.
Chris: Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) vs. Chicago
Sanders and the rest of the Broncos offense draw the daunting Chicago Bears` defense for their home opener in week two. While fantasy owners should be encouraged by Sanders` week one showing, it will likely be tough to repeat in week two. We saw Davante Adams only manage 36 receiving yards against the Bears in the season opener, and the Rodgers/Adams duo far exceeds the new pairing of Flacco and Sanders. The Bears were the best defense in the league last year, allowing just 17.7 points per game to opposing teams, and are a safe bet to retain that crown for another season.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Darren Waller (OAK) vs. Kansas City
Well, I had Hunter Henry, but…. So, his replacement as my TE love is the 26-year-old out of Georgia Tech, who burst onto the fantasy scene Monday night with seven receptions for 70 yards against Denver. Waller led Oakland with eight targets, and given Derek Carr’s history with favoring his tight ends, he is in a great position to break out in 2019. Kansas City gave up the 2nd most points to tight ends in 2018 and let Gardner Minshew (who we all had no idea existed until 4 days ago) put up 26 points in Week 1. Waller is a definite Week 2 starter.
Chris: Mark Andrews (BAL) vs. Arizona
The Ravens second-year tight end now finds himself as a key part of this Ravens offense after only catching 34 passes during his rookie season. Andrews appears to be a top target for Lamar Jackson, seeing three more targets than anyone else on the team in week one. The Cardinals were very generous to opposing tight ends in 2018 and allowed rookie T.J. Hockenson to rack up 131 yards and a touchdown against them to start off 2019. It is worth noting that new offensive coordinator Greg Roman previously served as the Ravens tight ends coach before being promoted for the 2019 season. In addition, Roman served as the 49ers offensive coordinator from 2011-2014, during that span, Vernon Davis, the 49ers tight end at the time, hauled in 26 touchdowns.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Evan Engram (NYG) vs. Buffalo
Evan Engram paced the tight-end position last week with 28.6 fantasy points in Week 1 @ Dallas, but don’t let that mesmerize you. Down by multiple scores, the Cowboys’ defense was content to give up short-range passes that Engram lives on, but that won’t be the case against the Bills. Buffalo gave up the fewest points to tight ends of all of the NFL and were the overall best passing defense in 2018, and they will be sure to force Eli Manning to extend his range in Week 2. Aside from Saquon, don’t expect much from any Giant against this stifling Bills defense.
Chris: Vance McDonald (PIT) vs. Seattle
After making the love list in week one, McDonald was disappointing against the Patriots. Although, as discussed with my love of JuJu Smith-Schuster, I believe the Steelers offense will ultimately be fine (especially against the Seahawks), it was clear in week one that Vance McDonald was not a big part of the game plan. McDonald was sixth on the team in targets with just four, and both of his receptions came in the final minutes of the game. Until I am proven otherwise, it is hard to trust McDonald going forward.
Defenses to Stream
Cole: Buffalo Bills (@ NY Giants)
Chris: New England Patriots (@ Miami)
Defenses to Avoid
Cole: Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Houston)
Chris: Los Angeles Rams (vs. New Orleans)
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org