Fantasy Football Week 2: Prove-it weeks for Patrick Mahomes, Jared Cook; Tight end auditions; and eight things to know
Heath Cummings breaks down Week 2 and tells you what you need to know.
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It's a dangerous place to be as a Fantasy owner, in between Week 1 and Week 2. We've learned so much and so little. Outstanding performances in Week 1 carry more weight than they would in Week 9 if we had a half a season of data. Overreactions happen, but so do underreactions. If you're waiting for a Week 1 star to prove it you're probably deciding you're not going to roster him. In summary, this feels like a bigger week than it is. Our perceptions will be challenged and the sample size will be doubled.
Here are the eight things you need to know about Week 2:
The Eagles still aren't at full strength, but that may not matter.
We're getting another week of Nick Foles as we continue to wait for Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery to play football. Thankfully, it shouldn't be as ugly as Week 1 was for Fantasy production. The Eagles travel to Tampa Bay to face a Buccaneers defense that just gave up 40 points to the Saints. They've lost one starting cornerback (Vernon Hargreaves) to IR and another (Brent Grimes) is dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss Week 1.
This isn't enough to make me feel good about starting Foles in anything but a two-quarterback league, but it should assuage any fears you have about starting Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz. Those two should dominate targets and I would expect Ertz's catch rate and Agholor's Y/R to bounce back after Week 1. Jay Ajayi looks like a must-start option with Doug Pederson saying he wants to get his back even more work.
It's prove-it week for Week 1 surprises.
Like I said, it's dangerous to trust one data point in Fantasy Football, but can be even more risky to ignore it. So Week 2 will be a big one for those players who blew our socks off in Week 1. Here are four you should watch especially close:
- Patrick Mahomes - I've been excited about Mahomes since the day the Chiefs drafted him, but I didn't expect him to kick off the season like that on the road against the Chargers. Mahomes made a few great throws and also took advantage of Andy Reid scheming him into a couple of touchdown passes that traveled approximately one foot combined in the air. Now the Chiefs play their second road game in as many weeks on the other side of the country. If Mahomes repeats his Week 1 performance we'll have no choice but to view him as a top-five quarterback.
- Austin Ekeler - When the Chargers lost Hunter Henry to an ACL injury we had to start considering how they were going to replace that production, and specifically the targets. They have always been a team that heavily targets tight ends, but even with Antonio Gates back they don't have the talent to do that. In Week 1, the answer was the running backs. Melvin Gordon and Ekeler combined for 20 carries and 18 targets against the Chiefs. Gordon is a workhorse, so Ekeler will need the Chargers to stick to this game plan if he's going to be more than a handcuff. They have a great matchup this week and I can't wait to see if both backs can take advantage of it.
- Quincy Enunwa - The preseason gave us some indication Enunwa was going to be Sam Darnold's favorite target. Week 1 all but confirmed it. Enunwa saw 10 targets to just one for Robby Anderson. The most impressive part about that is Darnold only threw 21 passes in the blowout win over the Lions. The Dolphins come to town in Week 2 and it will be interesting to see how they react to what the Jets put on tape in Week 1. Does Darnold look deep more often or continue to dump the ball short? If it's the latter, we need to start viewing Enunwa as a top-25 receiver in PPR.
- Jared Cook - We've seen this before from Jared Cook. He has five games in the last six years with more than 100 yards receiving. The encores have been largely disappointing. But this time he has Greg Olson as a coordinator, and Olson's offense has a soft spot for the tight end. Cook has a matchup this week against a very good Broncos defense, but the Broncos do give up production to tight ends. Will Dissly had 100 yards last week against them. Cook has a chance to establish himself has a top-12 tight end with a good performance in this game.
Josh Allen is making his first start.
Once again, the Nathan Peterman experiment did not end well. Hopefully this was the last time we have to endure it. That's because their first-round quarterback is making his debut. Allen is in a terribly difficult spot and we should definitely grade him on a curve. He's surrounded by arguably the worst set of weapons in the league and his offensive line is terrible. He's also facing a hungry Chargers defense that still has enough talent to strike fear in any quarterback, much less a rookie.
The more interesting thing with Allen starting is the rest of the Bills. Does this give LeSean McCoy any room to run? Is Kelvin Benjamin Allen's favorite target? Can the rookie complete enough passes to make anyone Fantasy relevant?
The Falcons defense is hurting.
It was bad enough when the Falcons lost Keanu Neal for the season, but now their best linebacker, Deion Jones, is also on IR. In a matter of one week the Falcons have gone from an above average defense with big upside to an also-ran. You can't feel comfortable with them as your starting defense for the rest of the season, but I'm sticking with them in Week 2. It's their home opener, the crowd should be raucous, and Cam Newton has had plenty of struggles in Atlanta.
T.J. Yeldon could be a must-start running back.
Make sure he's owned in your league. If Leonard Fournette is unable to go on Sunday, Yeldon should be viewed as a top-10 running back who will see 20-plus touches. The Jaguars aren't going to air it out in this game, and even if they do Yeldon will be heavily involved in the passing game as well. He had seven targets in Week 1 against the Giants.
Where it gets tricky is if Fournetteis active. I'd be shocked if they activate him and give him 20 touches this week. That makes me less likely to start Fournette than I would Yeldon if Fournette was out. Both running backs would be low-end No. 2s or flex options and Yeldon may actually be the better choice in PPR.
Holding auditions for No. 1 tight ends.
We came into the year with, at most, ten must-start tight ends. We lost two of them in the first two weeks of the season. So this week we're holding auditions for starting tight ends. Here are the top candidates:
- Jonnu Smith - Smith will replace Delanie Walker in Tennessee and could fall into a ton of targets. Marcus Mariota has always looked to his tight end and this week we'll find out if it was solely because of his connection with Walker.
- Will Dissly - Dissly is getting a call-back after surprising the Fantasy universe with 105 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. He faces a much taller task against the Bears this week, but opportunities could be there.
- Ian Thomas - When the Panthers took Thomas in the 4th round they thought he could learn behind Greg Olsen for a year or two. Now it looks like he'll be thrust into the starting role, we'll see how he responds.
- Jake Butt - Butt was one of the top tight end prospects in college football two years ago. After a long recovery from a torn ACL he's the best pass-catching tight end in Denver. It's a great matchup this week against the Raiders.
I doubted Wilson last week in Denver and he made me look silly, but this may be an even more difficult matchup. He's at Chicago for their home opener on Monday night. That is going to be one amped up crowd and defense. He's also without his best wide receiver. But, he was in this situation for most of last week and found a way. The Seahawks defense is really bad, so Brian Schottenheimer isn't going to have the luxury of running the ball due to game script. I'm still starting Wilson unless I have someone like Ben Roethlisberger or Alex Smith on my bench.
Andy Dalton is in primetime against a division opponent.
I'm not a huge fan of narratives, but Dalton has been quite terrible after dark. In 18 career night games, Dalton has averaged 6.3 Y/A and thrown 14 interceptions. His passer rating is 10 points lower than it is during the day. The numbers aren't much better against AFC North opponents, and he's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his career against the Baltimore Ravens.
Last week's top streaming option should no longer be in your starting lineup. Even if you don't believe any of the narratives, the Ravens are an elite dense and Thursday night football isn't generally a positive for quarterbacks. Thankfully, there's a Case Keenum against the Raiders. Keenum is at home with a great matchup against a bad defense.and it's
So who should you sit and start this week? And where does every player stack up? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 2 Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB is going to finish in the top 5 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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