If opening weekend is for irrational fantasy expectations, then by Week 2 most fantasy football owners have been brought back down to earth and understand things are a bit more difficult than they seem.
Whether it’s a first-round pick producing a dud in Week 1 or an overlooked sleeper going off, picking the right lineup isn’t an exact science and can require taking a gamble. While some of the marquee names top the Week 2 rankings for each position, keep an eye on the not-so-household names in the mix as well.
Here’s a quick breakdown by position of Week 2 in fantasy football.
Even with the smallest of sample sizes to work with, fantasy owners have already gotten a glimpse into how things may be different in 2015 than expected. From breakout performers to surprising duds, the Week 1 results demand some impact moving forward.
Case in point—Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. The rookie absolutely exploded in his NFL debut by throwing four touchdowns, ranking as the third-highest quarterback scorer for Week 1 and having owners tripping over each other in the race to waivers.
Rookie struggles are certainly on the horizon for Mariota—but not this Sunday. Another strong matchup, this time against the against the Cleveland Browns—who gave up two touchdowns through the air to Ryan Fitzpatrick—should keep Mariota rolling as a top QB option.
Week 1 results need to be dismissed in some other instances, such as the performance of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. After a two-interception outing in his season opener, Luck should feast against a New York Jets secondary that is likely to miss Antonio Cromartie, per ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini.
Luck and the rest of the quarterbacks will be looking up at Drew Brees, however, in Week 2. The New Orleans Saints quarterback is fresh off gashing the Arizona Cardinals’ strong secondary for 355 yards and now faces a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense still reeling off a Week 1 drubbing.
Post-Week 1 is a time for fantasy owners to panic at the fact that the first-round running back they selected likely didn’t put up the expected numbers. But for others, it brings a pleasant surprise.
That’s the case for owners who happened to bet high on 49ers running back Carlos Hyde. As San Francisco’s new workhorse in the wake of Frank Gore’s departure, Hyde absolutely exploded in Week 1 with 168 yards and two scores, scorching the rest of his RB competition.
Another back who put up fireworks opening weekend, Jeremy Hill is in line to top him for Week 2. Fresh off two touchdowns of his own against the Oakland Raiders, Hill’s Cincinnati Bengals face a San Diego Chargers unit that conceded the fifth-most ESPN points to running backs last week.
While it’s all smiles for owners with those players, those who have big-money backs Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Anderson could be in for more disappointment. All three backs have tough Week 2 matchups that have them ranking outside the top 10.
It’s impossible to argue that any of those three shouldn’t be given a starter’s spot, but don’t expect first-round contribution from them.
A dream-like matchup for owners with the top receivers in fantasy football has come up in Week 2.
If you are able to employ either the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones or the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. for the weekend, expect nothing short of fireworks from both. Jones should feast once again versus a Giants secondary that is no match for his elite combination of size and speed.
Meanwhile, Beckham can expect to right the ship following a pedestrian opener, facing a Falcons defense that allowed more than 300 passing yards from Sam Bradford on Monday night.
Elsewhere, look for Tavon Austin and Kendall Wright to continue what’s been a breakout 2015 so far. Austin’s speed will continue to be utilized in a St. Louis Rams offense that will face the hapless Washington Redskins, while Wright should continue to be Mariota‘s No. 1 option against the Cleveland Browns.
Week 1 produced a coming-out party for a number of tight ends, but there’s no change at the top—that spot is still comfortably held by one Rob Gronkowski.
Following his three-touchdown outburst on the opening day of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gronk will be in line for more red-zone opportunities against the Bills. Hoping to start 1-0 in the division, Tom Brady will look his favorite option’s way plenty.
That being said, owners who have Tyler Eifert or Dwayne Allen can also expect some big stats. Eifert put up the third-most fantasy points for TEs Sunday and should be in line for more against San Diego, while Allen’s Colts face a Jets defense that gave up the second-most points to tight ends in ESPN leagues last season.
As if the other positions aren’t the same way, picking a strong defense and special teams unit is all about the matchups.
The premier matchup for Week 2 puts the Miami Dolphins in the driver’s seat for the most fantasy points of the weekend. They face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have no offensive identity to speak of at the moment.
Beyond that, expect another strong outing for the Titans, as they are likely to make Johnny Manziel‘s life difficult.
Go with the potential for highest-scoring offense in Week 2 when it comes to employing the right starting kicker, which includes the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Falcons against the Giants. Both have kickers who can hit from deep and will be in line for many field-goal tries.
Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com