Fantasy Football

Marcas Grant's 2021 NFL Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 2

Many things about fantasy football are unpredictable. It's the uncertainty that brings us back to the fake game year after year. If we knew for sure what was going to happen, this wouldn't be as fun. More importantly, I'd be out of a job. So … hooray for chaos! 

But not everything about fantasy is so murky. The biggest known heading into Week 1 is that we really didn't know much. We spent plenty of time speculating. The entire offseason was one big fever dream of what we think could happen this year. Alas, what we wish for and what we get are frequently not the same.  

In that spirit, we lick our Trey Sermon and Michael Pittman-sized wounds, take stock of what we learned, and try to get better in Week 2. Let's go. 

Broncos nation wasn't particularly thrilled with Teddy Bridgewater  being named the starter, but he acquitted himself well in the season opener. This week, the matchup is even more in his favor against a Jaguars defense that made Tyrod Taylor  and the Texans look dynamic. It would be better if Teddy Two Gloves still had Jerry Jeudy  at his disposal, but Tim Patrick is a nice substitute – and has some sleeper potential of his own. 

(Side note: Tyrod and the Texans would be the name of my Cowboy Troy cover band.)

Jared Cook is the fantasy football equivalent of the end piece of bread. No one wants it. Most actively avoid it. Yet for the intrepid few who make the move, it ends up being oddly satisfying. Now I have a hankering for French toast. Cook is 34 years old, in his 13th season and on his sixth NFL team. He's no one's idea of a TE1 but manages to do just enough to make you take notice. In Week 1, that meant turning eight targets into five catches for 56 yards against a good Washington defense. This week's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, isn't nearly as imposing. Cook is a tantalizing option for anyone inclined to stream tight ends.

Seasons change. Years pass. James White endures. The man under center in New England has changed multiple times in the past two seasons, but White's role remains the same. His weekly floor remains safe, even if uninspiring. There's plenty of upside this week against a Jets defense that is improved but still showing some holes. Mac Jones did a good job spreading the ball around in the season opener. Nonetheless, seven targets for White suggests he still has a lot to do with how the Patriots will move the ball.

Maybe Chase Edmonds isn't your typical sleeper. He's the starting running back in one of the NFL's most productive offenses. Despite that, there wasn't much excitement surrounding him heading into the season. I even made his teammate James Conner one of my sleeper options last week. It was meh. Even after an RB17 finish in Week 1, the Edmonds buzz isn't really buzzing. That could change with a solid performance against the Vikings this week. Minnesota had no answers for Joe Mixon. Edmonds won't get the same snap share, but he can do some of the same things. If he puts together a similar stat line to Week 1 and finds the end zone to boot, Edmonds will start generating more conversation.

The Jaguars are bad. That's not a total surprise. It's a small surprise at just how bad they looked in Week 1. This could work to our advantage. Unless things improve dramatically, Jacksonville figures to have one of the league's highest passing volume offenses this year. It's why many analysts thought Marvin Jones was being undervalued. It's also why I'm waving the Laviska Shenault Jr. banner again. Sterling Shepard abused the Broncos secondary from the slot in Week 1. Shenault ran 33 of his 40 routes from the slot in the opener. If things go as they did last week for the Jags, Trevor Lawrence and his receivers should be doing plenty of work in the second half in catch-up mode.

Bears fans had Justin Fields dangled in front of them for a few plays last week before ultimately succumbing to the reality of Andy Dalton. Take heart! Things should be better this week. For one, the Bears won't have to deal with the Rams defense. This week is also a #Revenge game for Dalton against his original team, the Bengals. Cincy allowed Kirk Cousins to finish as a top 12 quarterback this week. There's no reason Dalton can't do the same.

People questioned David Njoku saying he wanted to stay with the Browns. In Week 1, we started to understand why. He played nearly as many snaps as Austin Hooper and caught three of his five targets for a team-high 76 yards. Moreover, he reminded us all how athletic he is and why we loved him as a tight end prospect several years ago. A potential return by Odell Beckham could eat into Njoku's already small target share. But a matchup against the Texans could be enough to even the ledger.

Adding Van Jefferson to this list might be a case of chasing the points. It might also be me taking a short victory lap after believing he could be a deep sleeper this season. However, it could have a lot to do with the Rams and their vertical passing game getting a shot at a Colts defense that had its hands full with Seattle's receivers last week. Starting Jefferson comes with the caveat that his low target share makes him a supreme boom-or-bust candidate. (Say it with me … he's better in BestBall formats). If you're looking for a high-upside flex option in deep leagues, he could be your guy.

Back in March, I had the foolish idea to write a four-part series on tight ends. There were laughs, there were tears. Along the way, I lighted on the idea that Dawson Knox could be a late-round gem. His four catches for 41 yards in Week 1 aren't going to have anyone rushing to the waiver wire, but it was the fifth-highest yardage total of his career and continues the narrative that the Bills want him more involved in the offense. The Dolphins gave up eight catches and 73 yards to the Pats tight ends last week. Knox is a decent deep sleeper streaming option this week.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is unclear on the concept of "off days." Send him your leisure time struggles or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.

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