Hours remain between Week 2 fantasy football and owners who must come up with winning lineups by picking through player rankings and projections.
Really, Week 2 is already underway thanks to the Thursday Night Football clash between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. What did it tell owners? Peyton Manning is just fine after a 20-point outburst. It also stressed there is no such thing as a sure thing—Jamaal Charles scored 14 points but lost two fumbles.
Pair the information with last week, and owners have the groundwork for another successful week. Below, let’s run through the top players at each position based on projected totals by standard-league scoring, then highlight some of the matchups we love.
Week 2 Schedule
Remember the above lesson with Manning?
It’s one to apply to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who didn’t have the hottest 2015 debut with 16 points.
Call it something of a red flag, as the Saints scored just one time in four trips to the red zone. Seasoned owners know why—Jimmy Graham now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.
Still, if there’s one thing that can turn around an iffy start for one of the league’s best, it’s an outstanding matchup. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers personify this for Brees, as Lovie Smith’s defense just allowed 24 points to Tennessee rookie Marcus Mariota via four touchdowns.
At home in a noisy dome, look for Brees to have a monster game as he gets accustomed to life without Graham and better works in targets such as Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman.
It seems every year owners stand a bit skeptical as to Tony Romo’s viability. Every year he proves doubters wrong, going for 22 points with three scores in Week 1 this season.
The worry with Romo now? He just lost Dez Bryant to an injury. But this is Romo going into a matchup with Philadelphia, which just let Matt Ryan go for 15 points behind an iffy line. He’s going to be passing a lot in what should be a shootout and still has Terrance Williams and Jason Witten to lean on, so expect a major performance.
Another superstar looking for a redemption tour?
Try Marshawn Lynch, who looked like he had a serious lack of Skittles before Week 1, scoring just 12 points. It doesn’t sound terrible, but for a guy who is 100 percent owned, a full 17 points behind the highest scorer and carries the moniker Beast Mode, owners should want to see better.
Which they will. Now Lynch gets the Green Bay Packers, a leaky defense that just allowed Chicago’s Matt Forte to score 22 points last week. It’s going to be a shootout at Lambeau Field, but Seattle has no qualms about running it no matter the score. The tackle issues Green Bay showcased last week aren’t going to improve against the league’s most physical back.
Speaking of physical, Cincinnati Bengals emerging star Jeremy Hill continues to post gaudy numbers. He bullied Oakland on the ground last week to the tune of 18 points with two scores.
This week, Hill encounters San Diego, a West Coast team that has to travel across the country for an early kickoff after allowing Detroit rookie Ameer Abdullah to rush for 50 yards and a score on just seven totes.
Here’s the kicker—unlike Detroit, Cincinnati won’t hesitate to run it down throats no matter the score. Hill is a stud who will see perhaps one of the highest carry totals of the week, so get him in those lineups.
Owners seemed to scoff at the idea of playing New Orleans’ Mark Ingram against the scary Arizona defense last week. What owners need to catch up on, though, is the idea that Ingram is one of the league’s best (and secret) bell cow backs.
Ingram scored 11 points in a tough matchup, rushing nine times for 24 yards and catching eight of nine targets for 98 yards. Those lowly Buccaneers? They also gave up 74 yards and a score on 12 carries to an unproven Bishop Sankey last week.
Get this while it lasts, owners. C.J. Spiller continues to work his way back from injury (he’ll be limited at best in Week 2) and figures to absorb the pass-catching duties. For now, though, Ingram is a slick play in any format.
In a world where Calvin Johnson records just two catches, owners need a new reliable target each week.
It’s DeAndre Hopkins time.
Owners will hate the fact Hopkins doesn’t have a defined quarterback, but it didn’t matter much last week against a stingy Kansas City defense when Nuk caught nine passes for 98 yards and two scores, placing him behind only Julio Jones with 23 points.
These opportunities won’t go away, folks. Look at data compiled by Rotoworld’s Adam Levitan:
Now Nuk gets a spotty Carolina defense? Yes, please.
How about Jarvis Landry? Owners may shy away given the impressive amount of weapons the Dolphins flaunt, including Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, Jordan Cameron and more.
But Landry eased the minds of fantasy owners last week, catching eight passes for 53 yards and housing a punt return for 12 points. Things figure to clear up even more against a miserable Jacksonville defense.
It’s also very important to keep in mind Landry was the most-targeted option for Miami last week (12), besting the next highest by five targets. This isn’t a new trend, nor will it change—the Landry-Ryan Tannehill connection is something owners can count on each week.
Want a bit of a sleeper? Look no further than Donte Moncrief of the Indianapolis Colts, who quietly posted 10 points last week with six grabs for 46 yards and a score.
A date with the New York Jets seems tough, but keep in mind the defense will be without Antonio Cromartie. Darrelle Revis will have to deal with T.Y. Hilton (if he plays), so Moncrief stands to see a boatload of targets and it’s quite clear he can produce when given the chance.
Maybe Week 1 was better labeled as “redemption week.”
Graham did just fine in his new locale despite no longer playing in a pass-happy offense. He was third on the team in targets, catching six of them for 51 yards and a score, good for a reliable 11 points.
Reliability is what it’s all about at such a volatile position. In the confines of game flow, Graham was really only third on the team in targets last week because Russell Wilson had to throw 41 times in an eventual overtime loss.
In other words, Graham looks like the top option in Seattle when things are normal. Now he gets Green Bay, where the Seahawks could be playing from behind and need to pass. Considering the Packers just gave up 11 points to Chicago’s Martellus Bennett before he left the game in the third quarter, Graham looks to be in the best matchup of the week.
Well, this is simple.
Baltimore doesn’t trot out the historic Ray Lewis-led defenses of past years by any means these days, but the Ravens did post 14 points last week against a Manning-led offense.
Now, the unit does take a hit without Terrell Suggs, who is lost for the season.
Just not against Oakland. The Raiders encountered a strong Cincinnati defense last week and went 3-of-12 on third downs with 246 total yards and 13 points. Starting quarterback Derek Carr injured his hand in the process, and while he’s expected to play, it was quite clear the offense wasn’t doing much harm no matter who was under center.
Phil Dawson of the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t the most reliable fantasy option in Week 1, converting two extra points and going 2-of-3 for seven points.
Still, things look great for the veteran in Pittsburgh this weekend as he should see plenty of opportunities to improve on his average in what could be a tough-sledding game for the offense.
Dawson hit 80.6 percent of his field goals last year and posted five double-digit outings. If Colin Kaepernick and Co. manage to move the ball enough against a rebuilding, sometimes-shaky Pittsburgh defense, he could be one of the better plays of the week.
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