If you've been reading this newsletter, you know I have my concerns about Ben Roethlisberger. You know who isn't concerned about Roethlisberger, at least for Week 2? Jamey Eisenberg, who tabbed Big Ben as his Start of the Week for his upcoming matchup Sunday against the Raiders.
Part of it is about the situation the Raiders are facing, traveling across the country for a 1 p.m. ET start coming off a grueling overtime win over the Ravens on Monday night. That cross-country, west-to-east, early-start game is always tough for West Coast teams, and it's almost unfair they have to do it with a day less of rest than the Steelers. Jamey also likes the matchup in general, even without that context, as well as the fact that it's the home opener for the Steelers.
That's a lot of arrows pointing up for Roethlisberger. You can read more of Jamey's thoughts on Ben and get the rest of his calls for Week 2 in his Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column right here. Today's newsletter will also feature Dave Richard's Starts and Sits, Sleepers and Busts column for Week 2, as well as my thoughts on some of the biggest questions heading into the week.
And, if you want your questions answered directly, subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel and join Adam Aizer, Dave Richard and I at 2 p.m. ET for our start/sit live stream. We'll be discussing all of the latest news and answering your toughest lineup questions, and we'll be there every week to make sure you're ready for the first lineup lock of the week.
Get ready for Week 2 with our other preview content here:
- Week 2 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Starts, sits and sleepers for every game (LINK WHEN PUBLISHED)
- Week 2 Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
- My Week 2 Rankings: Flex Top 150 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Keep an eye out for tomorrow's newsletter, where I'll preview every game this week, including full injury report updates from around the league. Here's what else today's newsletter will cover:
- 2️⃣Dave Richard's Week 2 Preview
- ❓Biggest questions❓
- 🆚TNF Preview: Buccaneers vs. Cowboys
- 🚑Week 2 Injury Watch
There are the obvious calls, and then there are the ones you need help with. Dave Richard goes through each game to identify the most interesting matchups and biggest lineup dilemmas for Week 2. Here are some of his top picks for this week. You can find the rest of his advice for Week 2 here:
- Ja'Marr Chase -- "The only things Chase dropped in Week 1 were the jaws of his preseason detractors. He looked like a sure-fire first-round pick to me. Mental errors cost Chicago on two deep touchdown catches last week against crafty, but not necessarily athletically dominant, wideouts. In total, the Bears allowed an average of 7.0 yards after catch per reception, fourth-worst on the week. Mental errors can get cleaned up, but it doesn't mean the Bears won't get tested. You can be sure the Bengals will try dialing up some plays for Chase, who commanded a 26% target share in his first game with no drops."
- James Robinson -- "The Jaguars forgot about their run game last week, throwing on 11 of 12 plays in the first quarter and 21 of 30 in the first half. Chances are they were focused on attacking the Texans secondary and letting Trevor Lawrence let it rip. Down 20 at halftime, they really couldn't afford to suddenly become balanced. My hunch is that they'll employ a more balanced approach this week against the Broncos, helped especially by Denver's legit secondary. Bank on more carries and some good receiving numbers for Robinson, who averaged 5.0 yards per tote last week thanks to an added burst to his game from last year."
- Jaylen Waddle -- "Of the 27 pass plays Waddle was in last week, he ran a route over 10 yards downfield only six times. Receivers like that need consistent volume, and I'm not sure Waddle is a cinch to renew his 22% target share last week with Will Fuller coming back to the Dolphins offense. The flipside to that is Fuller's presence will undoubtedly open things up underneath for Fuller. It's an unknown if the Dolphins can take advantage. The Bills pass defense looked mostly great last week, holding the Steelers to under 200 passing yards. Work under the assumption that Waddle is good for maybe 12 PPR points, which is why he's a flex option at best in PPR. There are others out there with more upside."
- Tyler Boyd -- "I want to believe in Boyd, especially after the Rams ate up middle-field targets against the Bears last week, but it's pretty clear where he stands in the Bengals' hierarchy. Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins simply offer more explosiveness to Joe Burrow, which the quarterback clearly was aware of last week (Chase had seven targets, Higgins had six, Boyd had four). But in a close game the Bengals went deep into overtime in, Burrow still threw the ball just 27 times versus 35 run plays. Chicago's pass defense is exposable, but I'm just not certain Cincinnati will throw a ton, nor am I certain Boyd will see an uptick in work even in a favorable matchup. It feels like a trap to start Boyd as anything other than a PPR flex."
- James Conner -- "Conner out-touched Chase Edmonds last week, but it was a byproduct of the Cardinals salting the game away as half of Conner's 16 carries came in the fourth quarter (Edmonds had three fourth-quarter carries). Conner definitely has his role locked up as the power back and clock-killing back, but Edmonds has the passing downs role as well as a piece of the running downs role when the game is in the balance. That should be the case against the Vikings, whose run defense allowed a bunch of yards to Joe Mixon last week, but it was over 29 carries through nearly five quarters. I suspect Edmonds will have a good shot to repeat last week's numbers (106 total yards) as the Vikings' zone-preferred defense could yield plenty of receptions to the running back. And don't rule out Conner as a touchdown scorer in what's expected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the weekend. "
- Juwan Johnson -- "Maybe the best thing Johnson did over his 12 snaps last Sunday (yep, just 12) was adjust to two off-target throws from Jameis Winston for touchdowns. He's got solid speed for a guy his size, but it's the length he offers as a pass-catcher that makes him appealing, especially for someone like Winston who doesn't throw with pinpoint accuracy. If you start him, you're hoping the Saints coaches liked his athleticism and give him more routes to run, particularly when the Saints get inside the 10-yard line. Guys like Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Higbee and Jared Cook should start ahead of him. He's totally worth a roster spot, so get him if he's still out there."
- Corey Davis -- "It's pretty obvious that Davis is not only the Jets' best receiver, but their best offensive player. You can bet your left shoe Bill Belichick's defense will be keyed in on him so that they don't yield a fluke score like the Panthers did on his first touchdown last week. It's a play like his second touchdown on an out route deep in the red zone that you have to sweat out if you sit him. But the truth is that the Jets' O-line is a mess and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is about to see all kinds of exotic coverages meant to trip him up. You shouldn't even feel that great about him as a flex this week."
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On Wednesday, I took to Twitter to answer some of your biggest questions heading into Week 2, writing about Brandon Aiyuk, backfield splits, Juwan Johnson and more. Also on Wednesday, CBS Fantasy Editor Dan Schneier surveyed the FFT team with some big questions of his own about early draft regrets and our Week 2 breakout and bust calls. Because, while we got plenty of answers in Week 1, we were still left with plenty more questions that you need answers to.
Here are my answers to some of those questions, and check out both of those pieces to see if your questions were already answered.
Joe Mixon. I was very, very high on Mixon coming into this season, and I was willing to draft him as early as the 1-2 turn in all leagues. But I only ended up with him in a few leagues, and I should have made that more of a priority. The only problem was, if you were drafting in the first half of the first round, you needed him to slip to 18th or later to snag him, and you couldn't always count on that. He's a top-four RB for me for Week 2, and I think he's going to have a monster season in the role we've always wanted for him.
I don't think there's anyone I really regret, though I'm not exactly feeling great about having Julio Jones on more than half of my teams right now. Not that I'm panicking, but Week 1 was discouraging, for sure. Hopefully the Titans line can play better moving forward, because I still certainly believe in the talent.
Najee Harris. If you're worried about him at all, don't be. He only had 45 yards on his 16 carries and just the one catch, but he got the Le'Veon Bell treatment in his first NFL game, playing every single snap for the Steelers. He'll presumably get a breather at some point, but it's clear Pittsburgh views him as a legitimate three-down back it can lean on, and that's going to lead to top-12 production almost by default, even if this offense isn't great.
I mean, you certainly don't want to see the head coach calling your fifth-round pick out this early in the season. Shanahan is a finicky coach, and he doesn't care much about draft stock or perceived hierarchies; he's just going to play who he thinks gives him the best chance to win. I assume that means Aiyuk will see his role increase moving forward, but there are shades of Dante Pettis in this -- Pettis, if you remember, entered 2019 as the projected No. 1 wide receiver and a popular breakout candidate but found himself in Shanahan's doghouse following a disappointing training camp.
But to answer the question, you should not be dropping Aiyuk, and I view this as a very nice buying opportunity. Maybe Aiyuk never gets back in Shanahan's good graces, but he's also a lot more talented than Pettis ever was, so I'll bet on it. That being said, I was skeptical he was going to be a must-start Fantasy option before this, and I'm definitely not certain he's a better player than Deebo Samuel, who looked fantastic in Week 1.
I think both will be fine, but I'm a lot more confident in Ezekiel Elliott than I am Julio Jones for Week 2. Elliott gets guard Zack Martin back and the Chargers should present an easier challenge than the Bucs did -- the Cowboys largely abandoned the run in Week 1 very early on, and it's not hard to see why given the opponent. He's still a must-start Fantasy option.
As for Julio, I'm still ranking him as a WR2 for Week 2, but I definitely want to see him and Ryan Tannehill get on the same page quickly. That'll be easier when Chandler Jones hasn't established semi-permanent residence in their backfield, so hopefully this is the week they figure it out. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit worried.
Not particularly, yet, though I can't shake the thought of how much they struggled last season when Julio Jones wasn't playing. In seven games where Jones was inactive, Matt Ryan averaged 6.6 yards per attempt with a 4.0% touchdown rate, well below his career rates of 7.5 Y/A and 4.6%. The addition of Kyle Pitts was supposed to help mitigate some of that, and I do think Ryan is going to play better moving forward.
However, one thing to keep an eye on is that, in situations where the point differential against the Eagles was within one score either way (36 offensive plays), the Falcons ran the ball 53% of the time; they threw 62% of the time last season in such situations. That was much more in line with Arthur Smith's play calling in 2020 with the Titans, which is a bit concerning for the passing game.
🆚TNF Preview: Giants at Washington
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook
- Line: Washington -3.0; 40.5 over/under
- Implied totals: Washington 21.75-Giants 18.75
What to expect: Woof, that's an ugly O/U. But, given that neither offense looked particularly good, Washington is starting a backup quarterback and the Giants have a bunch of guys who have been dealing with injuries coming off a short week. This one will probably be pretty ugly, and you don't want to have too much exposure for Fantasy if you can avoid it. I'm still starting Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin in all leagues. After that, there's no must-start player here.
Key injuries: Evan Engram (calf) is out, while Saquon Barkley is the only relevant player with a questionable tag for this one. It seems like a perfunctory designation, with Barkley likely to be limited at practice for the foreseeable future -- he had the same designation for Week 1. Now, that doesn't mean you should start Barkley just because he's active. I have him ranked as a No. 2 RB, but I can also acknowledge how much risk is involved in playing him given the uncertainty about how much he'll play. I can't blame you if you don't; Jamey has him as a sit for this week.
What to watch for: Uh ... I hope both sides have fun? I'm having a hard time getting excited about a Taylor Heinicke/Daniel Jones matchup except for the potential of some unintentional comedy. Still, if you're going to watch it, you want to see Barkley show a little more burst after going through a game without breaking a tackle for the first time in his career in Week 1. It will also be interesting to see if Sterling Shepard still remains at the top of the receiving hierarchy for the Giants. He ran the majority of his routes from the slot and looked excellent in the first game. Do Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney become more of a focus now that they've got their feet wet and have practiced without limitations? Also, does Washington continue to try to scheme up targets for Gibson on early downs? And how does Terry McLaurin look with Heinicke at QB? This might not be a great game for Fantasy, but it could be an eventful one in terms of what it could mean moving forward.
Notable player props
- Sterling Shepard: OVER 4.5 catches -- It's worth noting that this prop is at -170 at Caesars, so you have to be pretty sure it's going to hit. And you should be! Shepard averaged 5.5 catches per game in 2020 and 5.7 in 2019 and had nine targets and seven catches in Week 1. Maybe Golladay is ready to take over as the No. 1 target and Toney's role will increase enough that he's more than a gadget player, but my expectation is that Shepard sees a similar role to what he had in Week 1.
- Antonio Gibson: OVER 67.5 rushing yards -- This one feels like a pretty safe bet given the workload Gibson is likely to see. He has topped 67.5 yards on the ground in four of his last six full games and will likely be asked to shoulder a heavy load with Heinicke under center. And Heinicke's mobility should help open some rushing lanes for Gibson, too.
- Taylor Heinicke: UNDER 34.5 pass attempts -- Heinicke did attempt 44 passes in his lone start last season, but that was in the playoffs against the Buccaneers, and 18 of those attempts came as they tried to come from behind in the fourth quarter. My expectation is Washington tries to play it conservative against a Giants offense they should be able to handle pretty easily.
🚑Week 2 Injury Watch
The Big News: Odell Beckham has been ruled out for Week 2. If you've been reading this newsletter going back to training camp, you'll know there were concerns among beat writers covering the team that Beckham would not be able to play a full complement of snaps in September, but this is worse than I feared. Of course, the team is likely just being cautious with Beckham, especially with what should be an easy matchup against the Texans on the way in Week 2. However, you can't feel particularly confident that you're going to get much of anything from Beckham for at least a few more weeks, making him a somewhat questionable bench option. Anthony Schwartz was unexpectedly one of the stars for the Browns in Week 1, but if you're looking for a deep-league or DFS play with Beckham out, Donovan Peoples-Jones is likely still the better option, given his 80% snap share. Neither is more than desperation play.
I'll have a full breakdown of the injury report in Friday's newsletter along with my preview of each game, but here's a look at some notables from the first practice participation reports of the season. And, luckily, it's actually a pretty light list!
Injuries to watch for Week 2
It's not clear what these injuries mean quite yet.
- Josh Jacobs (toe/ankle) -- Jacobs was pretty beat up Monday night, and I would expect the Raiders to be pretty cautious with him as they prep for the Steelers Sunday. At this point, I'm expecting Jacobs to play despite not practicing, but if he doesn't, Kenyan Drake would probably be a top-25 RB even against a tough matchup.
- Marquise Brown (ankle) -- The Ravens held a walk-through practice since they played Monday, so he was estimated as a did-not-practice, which tells us very little about how concerning this injury might be. We'll know more after Thursday's practice, and hopefully Brown will be alright coming off a really strong first game.
- Gabriel Davis (ankle) -- It's not clear at this point how serious this injury is, but Davis was unable to practice to open the week, so we can't ignore it. He's a boom-or-bust play in deep leagues as the Bills No. 4 WR, but he remains worth stashing for the upside.
Trending up for Week 2
This doesn't mean they will play, but we got good news about them Wednesday.
- Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) -- Aiyuk was a full participant Wednesday, so the injury seems to be of little concern at this point. Now, the concern is about whether he's in Kyle Shanahan's dog house, and whether he'll be able to get himself out quickly.
- Jamison Crowder (COVID) -- Crowder is hoping to be cleared to return to practice Thursday, and would be lined up to start in Week 2 against the Patriots if all goes according to plan. He'll likely start in the slot, with Corey Davis and Elijah Moore primarily manning the outsides, and could have some appeal in PPR leagues.
- Zach Ertz (hamstring) -- Ertz left Week 1 briefly with the injury, but was able to play through it, and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday there was "no great concern" for Ertz's status at this point. He's just a low-end starting TE, but if he does miss time, that would push Dallas Goedert up even higher into the ranks.
- Anthony Miller (shoulder) -- Miller would have been available in an emergency in Week 1, and is expected to return Sunday against the Browns. He suffered a separated shoulder in the team's preseason opener, which has been an ongoing issue for him over the years. Whether he'll step into the starting lineup or split time with newly acquired Danny Amendola, who scored a touchdown in Week 1, remains to be seen. Miller will need to prove himself before he has much Fantasy relevance.
Trending down for Week 2
This doesn't mean they won't play, but they aren't moving in the right direction yet.
- Rashaad Penny (calf) -- Penny is expected to miss a few weeks with his injury, but it looks like he won't go on IR. Alex Collins is likely to be the primary backup to Chris Carson in his place.
- Tyrell Williams (concussion) -- Williams will have to be cleared through the NFL's concussion protocol, so there's no telling if he will suit up in Week 2. If he doesn't, Quintez Cephus should get the start in Williams' spot, and he actually led the team's wide receivers in targets with seven. He'll only have appeal in deep, deep leagues, but keep an eye on him.
- D'Wayne Eskridge (concussion) -- As with Williams, Eskridge has to go through the league's protocol to be cleared. The Seahawks like him and his big-play ability, but he only has appeal in Dynasty leagues right now even when healthy.