*All Quarterbacks are for 1-QB leagues and RB/WR are for PPR leagues*
START: Matt Ryan (vs. PHI)
Week one of the NFL season did not go well for Matt Ryan and the entire Atlanta Falcons offense. The Minnesota Vikings‘ defense is one of the elite in the league as they ranked top 10 in points allowed and turnovers as well as top five in yards allowed and yards per play allowed last season.
This week, Ryan gets a much better matchup at home against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that just got torched by Case Keenum. Keenum put up 380 yards and three touchdowns with average at best-receiving options. Matt Ryan’s top three receivers (Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu) would be the No.1 for the Redskins.
I see the Falcons’ offense coming out stronger after an embarrassing week one performance and taking advantage of a suspect secondary. Ryan is a top 10 play for me this week.
SIT: Russell Wilson (at PIT)
Russell Wilson started the 2019 season with as good of a matchup as possible with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Seattle, but he couldn’t take advantage. Wilson finished with less than 200 yards and just 16.64 fantasy points, which was less than Gardner Minshew, Eli Manning and Andy Dalton.
Now the one-week performance shouldn’t cause for all the concern, but the usage should add to it as Wilson attempted just 20 passes in the game. The Seahawks are committed to running the ball which severely limits what Wilson’s fantasy performance will be on a weekly basis.
He’ll now be facing a Steelers‘ defense that got torched by Tom Brady but shouldn’t be one you’re automatically targeting. This is a unit that was far better at home than on the road last season as they allowed fewer touchdowns, yards, lower completion percentage and forced more interceptions in the splits.
Although the Sunday night game against the Patriots didn’t show this, I see the Steelers defense as an improved group from last year with an improved secondary and one of the best front four in the NFL. The latter of the two groups should lead to a rough day for Wilson.
SLEEPER: Derek Carr (vs. KC)
The post-AB Oakland Raiders offense looked very sharp against a stout defense led by one of the best defensive minds in the league in head coach Vic Fangio. Derek Carr looked as good as he has since Jon Gruden took over as head coach and he’s got another opportunity to build on it with the Kansas City Chiefs coming to Oakland.
This is a defense that just got shredded by 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew after he came in for the injured Nick Foles. Minshew completed 88%(!) of his throws on his way to 275 passing yards and two touchdowns. In a likely shootout game, Carr has a great opportunity to finish top 10 at the position this week.
START: Derrick Henry (vs. IND)
After finishing the 2018 season on a really high note, Derrick Henry picked right up where he left on in week one as he put up the third-highest point total for the running back position against the Cleveland Browns. Now, he gets the defense that allowed Austin Ekler to put up the second-highest point total at the position last week.
While Austin Ekler did record nearly 75% of his points through the receiving game, Henry has the advantage of running behind a top-10 offensive line while Ekler had a bottom 10 unit.
Despite the shortcomings in the line play, the Chargers as a whole (Ekler + Justin Jackson) rushed for a combined 115 yards on 18 carries (6.3 ypc) which bodes well for Henry’s outlook. Henry seems primed for a second straight top 10 finish at the position.
SIT: Phillip Lindsay (vs. CHI)
I’ve been adamantly selling Phillip Lindsay stock this offseason after he went from undrafted to pro bowler last season due mainly to the situation he’s in now. The head coach and offensive coordinator are different and running back Royce Freeman, a third-round selection in 2018, has gotten rave reviews this offseason.
If week one is any indication, this backfield will be mainly a 50/50 split between Lindsay and Freeman. Lindsay had just one more carry but was less effective as he averaged 3.9 ypc compared to Freeman’s 5.6.
This week he gets a Bears defense that ranked first in opponents rushing yards per game (77.8), fourth in yards per carry (3.8) and gave up the least amount of rushing touchdowns (five) last season.
The unit’s coming off a game where they held Aaron Jones to 39 yards on 13 carries and just 4.9 fantasy points. Given the uncertainty of a substantial workload with a limited offense going up against an elite run defense makes this a clear sit ‘em for me.
Also: Duke Johnson Jr. (vs. Jax) and Aaron Jones (vs. Min)
Sleeper: Miles Sanders (at ATL)
When you look at what Miles Sanders did last week it won’t seem that impressive, but he had a touchdown run called back due to penalty and got tackled at the 3-yard-line. The rookie finished with just 25 yards on 11 carries (2.3 ypc), but if you add the yards lost on the holding call, which didn’t seem to really work towards Sanders benefit, his ypc raises to 3.8.
Sanders will now have the benefit of going up against Atlanta Falcons’ defense that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the running back position and from the looks of week one they haven’t gotten much better. Dalvin Cook put up 111 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns against the Falcons in week one behind a questionable offensive line. As for Sanders, the Eagles have one of the best units in the league.
I don’t see the Jordan Howard presence as a serious problem for Sanders as the rookie is the far superior all-around running back while Howard really just offers value in the run game. Sanders offers a high upside flex play this week.
Also: Devin Singletary (at NYG) and Chris Thompson (vs. Dal)
Start: Brandin Cooks (vs. NO)
A major let down in week one, Brandin Cooks put up just 5.90 points on the road against the Carolina Panthers, but don’t let that sway you from putting him in your lineup this week. He’ll be facing a New Orleans secondary that struggles to defend the deep ball as they showed against the Texans, most notably on the two-play drive at the end of the game to take the lead.
Cooks himself had a great day on the road against the Saints last year as he put up six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. This time he gets them at home where he was far better at last year accounting for nearly double the catches (53 vs. 27 on the road), more yards (767 vs. 437) and more touchdowns (3 vs. 2). This game has all the makings to be a shootout like we saw last year in New Orleans’ 45-35 victory and Cooks should redeem owners he let down in week one.
Sit: Emmanuel Sanders (vs. CHI)
Emmanuel Sanders has defied what most people anticipated he’d look like in his brief play coming off an Achilles injury he suffered late last year. He put together a 5/86/1 stat line against the Raiders in week one on his way to 19.60 fantasy points, but week two is a completely different animal with the Chicago Bears coming to Mile High.
The Bears are coming off a game against the Packers where they allowed a combined 20.6 points to wide receivers and that included 7.6 points to Davante Adams. Unlike Adams, Sanders has Joe Flacco throwing him the ball instead of Aaron Rodgers, which makes this tough matchup harder.
This is a low-scoring, defensive team that doesn’t offer much reliability on a week-to-week basis for the skill position players in fantasy and this week is the epitome of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game ends 13-6 and that’s why I’m leaving Sanders on the bench this week.
Sleeper: Michael Gallup (at WSH)
There had been rave reviews coming out of camp for second-year wide receiver Michael Gallup. Gallup offers a pure deep ball threat that Cowboys lack on the perimeter as he showed week one against the New York Giants. Gallup hauled in all seven of his targets for 158 yards and gets another great matchup in week two against the Redskins who were just burned by another deep threat in DeSean Jackson.
With Josh Norman likely shadowing Amari Cooper around the field, Gallup will have the advantage of going up against converted wide receiver Quinton Dunbar who got torched last week going against Jackson. I’m looking for Gallup to have a top 20 performance at the wide receiver position this week against a suspect coverage secondary behind Josh Norman.
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