Week 1, while low scoring in a lot of places, was still a helluva a lot of fun. As usual, there were plenty of surprises, both good (look at that Jags defense!) and bad (wtf happened to the Giants offense?), but we need to be cautious to not overreact too strongly to a one-week sample size. There are always mirage teams who impress in Week 1 before falling back to normal in Week 2. I try to avoid those landmines in the matchups below, but this week will go a long way towards revealing which teams are for real in fantasy this year.
As with last week, below I go game-by-game and player-by-player for every Week 2 contest. Those looking for quick-hitting start/sit/flex/stream analysis will find that listed for the main players for every team. Below that, I do my best to preview the game with additional insight, stats, and analysis to contextualize my recommendations. This process is going to evolve as I get better at writing this thing solo, and we get more data the further we get into the season.
Now, enough blathering on. We've got lineups to set, and matchups to explore. Time to dive in.
Detroit Lions at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday)
Week 1 was a fantastic showing for the Lions offense and Matthew Stafford, but I'm concerned about this matchup. They travel to New York into the teeth of a dynamite Giants defense, featuring an elite secondary. Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will likely lock down Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, so I'd leave both on the bench this week. I know, Golladay was electric in Week 1, but, not to be a total skeptic here, let's see the kid do it again versus a great defense before truly believing. This should open things up for Eric Ebron and Golden Tate over the middle. Jason Witten tagged the Giants for seven catches, 59 yards and a touchdown on nine targets last week, though Cole Beasley caught just three passes for 32 yards from the slot. Tate caught all nine of his targets from the slot in Week 1 for 93 yards. This backfield, like many across the NFL, is a mess. While Abdullah saw 18 touches in Week 1 he managed just 41 total yards, and the matchup isn't much better against the Giants stout defensive front. Theo Riddickmight be worth a shot in deeper flex in PPR leagues, as he did catch six passes last week. However, you simply can't feel good about these backs right now.
Woof, that Giants offensive display in Week 1 was painful to watch. I'd pretty much avoid starting all of the pieces from this group aside from Odell Beckham Jr., who should be on track to play this week. There's a chance he'll be a "decoy," but if Beckham's playing I'm playing him. Once again, be sure to slot him into the flex and add someone like Shane Vereen to give yourself roster flexibility on Monday night. OBJ's probable return takes the shine off Sterling Shepard's target total, as the second-year pro hauled in seven of eight looks in Week 1 -- for a measly 44 yards. Even though Beckham will be back, I'd avoid trusting Eli Manning until we see proof this offense can get back on track. They've scored 20 or fewer points in seven straight games now dating back to last year. This backfield is one to avoid as well unless you're playing in a PPR format, in which case Shane Vereen is worth a look. He led the Giants in targets (10) and receptions (nine) last week and could be used in the short passing game as a substitute for the running game, which completely stalled against the Cowboys (10 carries, 30 yards). The Giants defense at home could be worth a look, especially in DFS as people may be off this group after the Lions dominant showing in Week 1. However, they have the pass-rush and secondary that could notch a few sacks and turnovers in what figures to be a lower scoring game.
Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC (Thursday)
Rookie Deshaun Watson will start, but having to travel on the road against a strong defense on a short week is a recipe for disaster. Watson's mobility will put him on the streaming radar in the future, but leave the rookie on the bench in Week 2. He averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt and completed 52 percent of his passes against the Jaguars. While Terrance West and Javorius Allen put up solid totals, that was due to insane volume. The Bengals front seven allowed just 3.8 yards per carry to the Ravens backs, and with the Houston offensive line still a mess, that darkens the forecast for Lamar Miller. Especially since Tyler Ervin is seeing volume in the passing game (five targets to Miller's two) and head coach Bill O'Brien said this week that rookie D'Onta Foreman would start seeing more opportunities. Timeshare backs on struggling offenses aren't worth starting in fantasy. DeAndre Hopkins led all receivers in Week 1 in percentage of team air yards with 56.04 but managed just seven receptions on 16 targets for 55 yards and a touchdown. He's a flex at best this week against a Bengals secondary that allowed Joe Flacco just 3.7 air yards per completion, the lowest total in Week 1. That's partially the Ravens offense, but it doesn't bode well for the Texans passing attack, especially with Adam Jones returning from suspension. All three tight ends on the Houston roster suffered a concussion in Week 1 and aren't startable on a short week. It's unlikely Andy Dalton commits five turnovers again, but a rebound could be in order for the Texans' talented defensive unit, especially given the Bengals porous offensive line (allowed five sacks).
Pretty much everything that could go wrong for Andy Dalton did in Week 1. His ground game sputtered, his protection failed, he threw costly (and ill-advised interceptions) and had a tipped passed fall to the Ravens as well. He faces a tough task trying to reset his system on a short week against a talented Houston defense, but at home, he'll be at least streamable. Week 1 surely represented an apocalyptic scenario for the Red Rifle (I hope). This backfield is an absolute mess and shouldn't be trusted in fantasy. Giovani Bernard led the way in terms of playing time with a 45 percent share of snaps compared to Joe Mixon's 38 and Jeremy Hill's 17 (he was the "starter" for what it's worth). As for touches, Mixon led the way with 11 for 24 yards, followed by Bernard with eight for 79 yards, with Hill closing it out with seven for 24 yards. Yeah, you want no part of this in your lineups right now. A.J. Green is back, y'all. He saw 34.5 percent of the team targets in Week 1, managing 74 yards on five receptions. That type of volume makes him impossible to remove from starting lineups, though that should have already been a given. Don't fret over Tyler Eifert's minimal usage (one target). The Bengals barely threatened the end zone with just eight plays inside the Ravens' 20, which is where Eifert dominates. Tight ends basically need touchdowns to be fantasy relevant at this point, and there are few better at scoring them in the league than Eifert. The Bengals defense is a must-start this week. They netted a sack and an interception against the Ravens despite Flacco only attempting 17 passes all game. Even better is that the Texans are coming off a game where their quarterbacks were sacked 10 (!) times. Home teams on Thursday games average 8.11 fantasy points per game since 2000 (includes kickoff and Thanksgiving games).
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
DeShone Kizer's fantasy career is off to a nice start following a QB9 performance in Week 1, but he absolutely should not be streamed or started in Week 2 against the Ravens. Three of the four Ravens pass rushers were below the league average in average separation from QB, a pass rush metric from Next Gen Stats. That means they were often in Andy Dalton's grill, which makes sense given his four interceptions, one fumble, and five sacks. Duke Johnson is more wide receiver than running back now after not playing a single snap in the backfield in Week 1. That torpedoes his upside, and he needs to be benched. Isaiah Crowell handled 85 percent of the backfield carries and saw two targets as well. Pittsburgh has an underrated run defense, so don't turn away from Crowell based on his low yards per carry average. He's a low-end RB2 or flex given the volume and scoring upside near the goal-line. The only piece of the Cleveland passing offense worth a look this week is Corey Coleman, who caught five of six targets for 53 yards and a score in Week 1. Coleman led the team with 20 percent of Kizer's targets and 21.98 percent of his intended air yards. He's the best bet to get by the talented Ravens secondary for a score. On 63 offensive plays, the Browns tight ends went out for 31, 28, and 16 plays between Seth DeValve, David Njoku, and Randall Telfer, respectively. Steer clear of this tight end committee for now, though DeValve's line of 4-52-0 on five targets is something to watch moving forward.
Joe Flacco is still working his way from a preseason back injury, and as a result only attempted three passes of more than 10 air yards in Week 1 (completing zero). The Browns were roasted by Antonio Brown (11 catches, 182 yards) in Week 1, but there are few teams Brown doesn't roast at this point. They held the rest of the Steelers pass-catchers to a paltry 6.2 yards per catch average and a 52 percent catch rate, though Jesse James did hit paydirt twice in the red zone. For now, we should avoid this passing attack until Flacco gets right and their pass attempts increase. Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman tied for the team lead in targets ... with four. Without Maclin's busted coverage 48-yard touchdown, DANNY WOODHEAD would have led the team in receiving and he left the game in the first quarter. Terrance West and Javorius Allen, however, are both in flex consideration as the Ravens should control this game and will look to protect Flacco with a heavy dose of rushing attempts. The Ravens tied for the lead with 42 team rush attempts in Week 1 (Bills), so there will be opportunities abound in this backfield. Allen gets a slight bump in PPR as the likelier Woodhead replacement. The Ravens defense at home against a rookie quarterback is a must-start. Just look at what they did to Andy Dalton on the road last week.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Mike Glennon nearly authored a fourth-quarter, come-from-behind, upset victory for the Bears in Week 1, but fell just short. He looked like a capable enough starter to move this offense along but isn't on the fantasy radar against a talented Buccaneers defense we've yet to see on the field in 2017, despite the obvious REVENGE narrative. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are the twin turbo engines that drive the Bears offense. They combined for 29 touches, 179 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 against a frisky Falcons defense, and should receive the volume necessary to produce at worst as flex options in this one. Howard's value as a locked-in RB1 is quickly evaporating with Cohen's increasing role, but he was on the field for eight more plays than Cohen. The speedy rookie might be the better start of the two, though, as the Bucs allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to backs in 2016 in addition to 4.22 yards per carry and 12 rushing scores. No Bears wide receiver saw more than four targets in Week 1, though more could be up for grabs with Kevin White's season-ending injury. This entire passing attack is one to avoid for now, though Zach Miller (six targets, four catches, 39 yards) could be on the deep streaming radar in PPR formats. The Bears defense managed just one point against the Falcons and now has to travel on the road for the Bucs home opener. There are plenty of better options available.
Jameis Winston has flirted with fantasy QB1 status thus far in his professional career, and it could all come together in 2017. The Buccaneers were the only team in the NFL without a play of 50-plus yards in 2016, but new arrivals DeSean Jackson had four such receptions alone. Mike Evans saw the highest percentage of a team's targets in 2016 with 30.3 percent but Jackson's arrival should cut into that. The hope is that this improves Evans' efficiency, but that remains to be seen. Either way, Evans is a WR1 until further notice, while Jackson makes for a nice flex. Matt Ryan only attempted two passes of 20-plus air yards against the Bears, completing one -- his 88-yard touchdown to Austin Hooper. With Doug Martin serving his three-game suspension, Jacquizz Rodgers will likely handle lead-back duties. He assumed that job for three weeks last year and finished as the RB14, RB10, and RB13 in standard scoring. The Bears could be a tough matchup, though, as they're coming off allowing just 2.65 yards per carry to the likes of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Rodgers is at least at home, so he's a low-end flex play. Don't let O.J. Howard's high draft status trick you into starting him. Cameron Brate is one of Winston's preferred red zone options (16 targets, eight touchdowns in 2016), and is the better bet for a touchdown in this game too. The Bucs defense is a solid play at home this week, especially since they're barely owned in NFL.com leagues after missing Week 1.
Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Everything for this offense has changed with the news that Sam Bradford will sit out with a knee injury and Case Keenum will start. If you have options to play instead of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, I'd try to roll with them instead. This could increase Dalvin Cook's workload, but it also might force the Steelers to load the box and make Keenum beat them. This is a disaster for fantasy football with so little time to process what this change might mean. Do the best you can to fill the holes in your lineup and hope Keenum can keep this offense afloat. While the Vikings defense is one of the youngest, most talented squads in the league, you do not start defenses on the road in Pittsburgh where the Steelers averaged 28.3 points and 397 total yards last year.
By this point, you've likely heard of the Big Ben home-road splits narrative. Well, for fantasy football purposes he averages nearly seven more points per game and twice as many passing touchdowns per game at home. Get him in your lineup. It's tough to take much from the Vikings run defense in Week 1 as the Saints ground attack was, well, grounded. Le'Veon Bell managed just 3.2 yards per carry on 10 attempts in Week 1, a shockingly small workload, but that should increase after a week of practice. If you're worried about sitting Antonio Brown against the Vikings secondary you might want to consider gardening as a pastime instead of fantasy football. Martavis Bryant is the bigger question mark, as he looked a bit rusty after missing much of the offseason while serving a suspension. Roethlisberger did target him on what could have been a deep touchdown, but the chemistry wasn't there and the play fell incomplete. Bryant is a constant big-play threat and makes for a fine flex this week in case he gets back on track. Yes, Jesse James scored twice in Week 1. No, I don't think that is production we should rely on. If he leads the team in red-zone targets again in Week 2, then he'll have our attention. It'll be hard to sit the Steelers defense after a strong opening performance now that they return home, but Bradford was taken down just once against the Saints and flashed remarkable accuracy. If the offenses start trading blows here, the scoring upside goes out the window for this group.
New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Tom Brady hasn't had back-to-back games with zero passing touchdowns since 2006, and the Saints were just carved up by Sam Bradford to the tune of 346 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Brady had two games without a passing touchdown last year, and threw four and three touchdowns in the subsequent games, respectively. With extra time to prepare and adjust the offense sans Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, and (possibly) Danny Amendola, expect Brady to come back with a vengeance. Fortunately for fantasy players, Week 1 offered some backfield clarity in New England. Mike Gillislee is the go-to option near the goal-line, giving him touchdown upside in the flex. James White and Rex Burkhead are on the PPR flex radar, as this game script seems more destined to suit their skill sets. White had more opportunity in Week 1, but Burkhead was targeted in the red zone and deep. Brandin Cooks should be in starting lineups: he's back in a dome against his former team featuring a mediocre secondary. Giddy up. Don't overlook Chris Hogan this week after a disappointing Week 1. Adam Thielen shredded the Saints from the slot to the tune of 147 yards, and Hogan played 54 percent of his snaps in the slot in Week 1 with Amendola and Edelman out. Brady trusts Hogan far more than recent acquisition Phillip Dorsett, too, so there's plenty of upside for Hogan in what figures to be a high-scoring game. Rob Gronkowski was shadowed for most of Week 1 by Eric Berry, who essentially neutralized the most dangerous tight end in the league. The Saints don't have an Eric Berry, and with the Patriots offense looking for answers in the passing game don't be surprised if Brady turns to old reliable early and often. Kyle Rudolph was only targeted three times against the Saints but caught all three for 26 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots defense was boat-raced on their home turf against the Chiefs in Week 1. A road trip to the house Drew Brees built is not one fantasy players should join in on.
The Saints performance on Monday night was a bit of a fantasy nightmare, but they scored a touchdown on just one of their trips to the red zone after scoring on 66.2 percent of trips in 2016 (third in the NFL). Drew Brees didn't turn the ball over, but his lone touchdown toss only netted him a QB16 finish. Back in the comfy confines of the Superdome, Brees should push to finish as the QB1 against the Patriots defense. Brees is the only quarterback with a 100-plus passer rating against Bill Belichick defenses (min. 100 attempts), and he has a 10-1 touchdown-interception split against the Patriots since 2000. Brees also throws 2.94 touchdowns per game at home versus just 1.88 on the road and averages nearly 31 fantasy points per game since 2011. The Patriots also just conceded the QB1 performance to Alex Smith of all passers last week. Backfield-wise, holy hell is this group a mess. Rookie Alvin Kamara led the group in snaps and carries, but no Patriots back mustered even 20 rushing yards. Adrian Peterson needs to ride the fantasy pine as he looks ill-suited for the Saints offense, while Kamara and Mark Ingram could be in the mix as low-end PPR flex plays. They each saw five targets in Week 1, catching four and five passes, respectively. Michael Thomas should bounce back in this contest, especially if the Saints switch back to a more pass-focused approach. He led the team with eight targets last week. Ted Ginn is in the mix as a floor play with upside. Despite his pedigree as a deep threat, the Saints only targeted Ginn once on a pass more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. It appears while Willie Snead is out that Ginn is playing a more short-range role while TommyLee Lewis is the downfield option. Cobby Fleener scored a touchdown and caught five of six targets for 54 yards. He'll be in the mix again, as his track record of performing well in fantasy while Snead is out continued. Don't you dare start the Saints defense against Tom Brady. That is all.
Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Carson Wentz was a solid streaming option last week, but a road trip to Arrowhead Stadium feels dicey. Last year the Chiefs allowed a 55.7 completion percentage and 5.8 yards per attempt to opposing passers with a 7-10 TD-INT split. Wentz has some upside though with his new weapons and getting to face a Chiefs defense in its first week without Eric Berry, but he should be on the lower end of your streaming quarterback radar. LeGarrette Blount led the backfield in carries (14) but played just 35 percent of the offensive snaps. He's a low-end flex where you pray for a goal-line touchdown. Sadly, he's the only back worth playing in this offense presently, though Darren Sproles has some appeal in deep PPR formats. This could be a nice bounce-back spot for Alshon Jeffery. He played 49 percent of his snaps at left wide receiver in Week 1, which would set him up to mostly avoid Marcus Peters, who predominantly covers the offensive right side of the field. Three players saw more targets than Jeffery in Week 1 -- Nelson Agholor, Sproles, and Zach Ertz. If this trend continues, we may need to get a bit worried. Speaking of Agholor, he should be a safe PPR flex option this week after seeing eight targets in Week 1 in his new role as the Eagles slot receiver. The Chiefs were tagged for eight catches and 121 yards from the slot by the Patriots. The loss of Eric Berry is a huge one for this Chiefs defense and could create an opportunity for Ertz to eat over the middle of the field, much like he did in Week 1 (eight catches, 93 yards). The Eagles defense is one of the most opportunistic units in fantasy, which helps them produce big point outings. The Chiefs and Alex Smith, in particular, are very good at protecting the football. I'd look to stream the position instead of rolling with the Eagles here.
Was Alex Smith's deep passing production in Week 1 an anomaly or a sign of what's to come from the Chiefs in 2017? Smith hit three of his four passes of 20-plus air yards against the Patriots for 178 yards and two touchdowns and a 156.3 passer rating. In 2016 he completed under 30 percent of those attempts, for 453 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 66.1 rating. He's very likely to regress back to more human Alex Smith production, but he at least has a good matchup in Week 2 to continue his hot start to the season. The Eagles gave up 240 yards and a touchdown to the struggling Kirk Cousins in Week 1 and lost Ronald Darby to a dislocated ankle. What will Kareem Hunt do for an encore? It's impossible to sit the electric rookie this weekend, and all fantasy eyes will be on how he follows up his historic debut. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are must-starts at this point. They were first and second on the team in targets last week, and both carried the ball as well. The passing attack in Kansas City is pretty concentrated, and those two are the primary beneficiaries. Carson Wentz is an improving young passer but is still prone to outrageously boneheaded gaffes. He gave Washington a pick six last week and a fumble on an errant backfield pass, along with a few other interceptable passes that weren't caught. The Chiefs defense at home will be a solid start.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
The Titans offense relies on the running game, which stalled out of the gates in Week 1 as DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined to average just 3.83 yards per carry. This was a bit of a surprise as many expected the Raiders defense to still be a bit suspect. The Jaguars on the other hand, held the Texans backs to a measly 3.66 yards per carry thanks to new arrival Calais Campbell looking other-worldly in the middle of that defensive line. Murray is still worth a start as the Titans could revert back to the run-heavy approach that worked so well for them last year, but there is cause for concern. While Corey Davis looks like a star on the rise, this is a brutal matchup for the talented rookie as he's likely to draw plenty of coverage from Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 68 when targeting Ramsey and 67 when targeting Bouye in 2016. That duo finished eighth and ninth in Matt Harmon's Next Gen Stats top-10 No. 1 corners breakdown, too. Same goes for Rishard Matthews, as he's likely to see plenty of that combo as well. Ramsey is a game-time decision though, and his absence would be a big boost for this passing attack, so monitor his status closely. All of this could create space for Eric Decker, who was targeted eight times in Week 1 but managed just three catches. Speaking of Harmon, he's forecasting a bounce-back for Decker this week, which you can read about here. The Jaguars allowed just a 62.7 percent catch rate to tight ends in 2016 to go along with the seventh-fewest yards, but Delanie Walker still looks like a decent start. The Texans tight ends managed six catches for 60 yards, and if Davis/Matthews are locked up with Bouye/Ramsey all afternoon, Mariota could funnel the offense through Decker and Walker. If this new Jags offense continues rolling in Week 2, there's little reason to consider the Titans defense in fantasy. A run-first, turnover-free offense offers little in terms of fantasy production.
Doug Marrone's fever dream of running an NFL offense without passing the ball damn near came true in Week 1. Blake Bortles only threw 21 passes, but was clean, avoiding turnovers and scoring one touchdown. He's off the fantasy radar in 2017 unless the Jags are forced back into their pass-happy 2015 offense, which seems unlikely. This is good news for managers with Leonard Fournette on their squads. The rookie saw 29 (!) touches in Week 1 and recorded the third-highest scrimmage yards total (124) of a player making their NFL debut since 2009. He did all this while seeing the highest percentage of carries with eight-plus defenders in the box (57.7), per Next Gen Stats. The Titans held the Raiders backs to 3.9 yards per carry in Week 1, but the Jaguars might have an advantage given this offensive philosophy shift. Against the Texans 3-4 front the Jaguars ran Fournette out of the I-formation nine times for 57 yards (6.3 ypc average). The Titans also run a 3-4 defense, though they primarily played with just two down lineman and five defensive backs (nickel) against the Raiders to combat their aerial assault. Even if the Titans return to more base fronts, Fournette could grind out significant yardage from the I as we saw in Week 1. The Raiders didn't run once out of that formation in Week 1, so the Titans might not be prepared for this type of physical ground assault. With Allen Robinson suffering a torn ACL, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee step up as the top options in the passing attack, but neither is relevant. They tied for the team lead in targets last week with four. This run-always approach from Marrone truly takes the air out of the passing game. The Jaguars defense started out hot and are worth another go at home against a Marcus Mariota-led offense that doesn't quite appear to be operating at peak efficiency just yet.
Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Well, that wasn't the start many fantasy analysts envisioned for the Cardinals offense in 2017. Carson Palmer turned in a disastrous performance (one touchdown, three interceptions) and the team lost David Johnson (wrist) until December most likely, if not later. That being said, Palmer could be primed for a rebound. The Colts are still without star cornerback Vontae Davis, making them incredibly vulnerable to deep passes. Bruce Arians loves to throw deep, and his wide receiving corps is stuffed with speedy downfield threats (John Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown). It might be tough to go back to the well with Palmer after that performance, but Jared Goff completed four of his five deep passes last week for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. Johnson's injury also likely turns this offense into a bit more of a pass-heavy unit, increasing Palmer's odds of redemption. As for how to replace Johnson, the team indicated they'll trot out some sort of committee, with Kerwynn Williams as the early-down back, Andre Ellington the change-of-pace/pass-catching specialist, and Elijaa Penny as a short-yardage hammer. The team also re-signed veteran Chris Johnson, so there's that. Williams is the best low-end flex option for now, but this might be a situation to avoid. In the passing attack, Larry Fitzgerald should smash in this game, especially after the Colts struggled to control rookie slot man Cooper Kupp. Fitzgerald saw 13 targets in Week 1 and could push for 15-plus in this contest. It stinks that John Brown is OUT for this game with a quad injury, as he was in a great spot to bounce back. J.J. Nelson figures to be the next man up after seeing six targets in Week 1. He's a risky flex, but hsa upside given his speed and ability on deep passes. The Cardinals defense was taken to task last week. That won't happen again facing either Scott Tolzein or Jacoby Brissett.
The Colts fans get to return home in Week 2, which is about the end of the fantasy niceties I can muster in this section. Jacoby Brissett will start, but that isn't likely to change the outlook here very much. The Cardinals defense was just shellacked by the Lions and could be looking for revenge, especially as Bruce Arians faces off against his old team. The Colts fell behind so quickly last week that Frank Gore played a mere 37 percent of the snaps. His backup, Marlon Mack, found the end zone in Week 1 during garbage time, but it'd be foolish to bank on that happening again. Until Andrew Luck returns to save this offense, I'm still going to advise avoiding the Colts skill position players at all costs.
Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
It warmed my heart to see Tyrod Taylor deliver last week, even after I recommended sitting him, but that performance doesn't make him startable in Week 2 on the road against a ferocious Carolina defense. As expected, LeSean McCoy saw ALL of the touches last week (27 to be exact), racking up 159 total yards. He had a touchdown vultured from him by Mike Tolbert when he left briefly with an injury, but with 25-plus touches locked-in McCoy is impossible to sit, even in subpar matchups. Zay Jones and Jordan Matthews combined for just seven targets and three catches in Week 1. They're not worth starting in this run-heavy, slow-moving offense. Charles Clay, on the other hand, proved to be a great streaming tight end in Week 1, and could be worth a shot in Week 2 again. Carolina allowed George Kittle to catch five passes last week, and Clay is coming off a team-leading nine targets in Week 1. He's Taylor's go-to target right now and will be a factor if the Bills get to the red zone as well. The Bills defense delivered against the Jets as expected, but they can be tossed back to the waiver wire for now.
Cam Newton threw two touchdowns against the 49ers but managed just 171 yards as the Panthers pretty much controlled that match from the opening whistle. As his shoulder gets healthier and he knocks off more rust, we could start seeing more of the old Cam, the one who was a fantasy football god. He's a solid start this week against a Bills secondary that lost Ronald Darby via trade in the preseason. Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart have the look of a duo that could lead the league in running back production. The Panthers are deploying them in interesting ways, including from the backfield together. They combined for 20.7 standard fantasy points and 27.7 PPR points. Both are solid floor plays in the flex with touchdown upside. Kelvin Benjamin disappointed with just one catch for 25 yards on five targets, but it is encouraging that he saw 34.69 of Newton's targeted air yards. Benjamin is still a weekly start and should bounce back in a big way as Newton gets healthier. Same goes for Greg Olsen and his 18 yards. He had fewer than 20 yards just once last year. The Panthers defense could end up as one of the best units in the league at the end of the year, and a home date with the Bills offense should create plenty of opportunities for fantasy points.
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
Fantasy football is by and large an unpredictable game, but every once in awhile the NFL serves analysts a softball. That was predicting the Jets offense, which was a disaster in Week 1 against the Bills. The team mustered 214 total yards, which is just 32 fewer than Kareem Hunt accumulated on his own in Week 1. Josh McCown tossed two interceptions and likely won't find the going any easier against Oakland's fierce pass rush, led by game-wrecker Khalil Mack. Desperate PPR players could give Jermaine Kearse a look, as he caught seven of his nine targets for 59 yards, but his ceiling is basement-level. Same goes for Bilal Powell, a trendy breakout candidate this year who was out-snapped by Matt Forte 33-30 in Week 1. Powell did snag five receptions but turned those into a whopping 17 yards. Oakland will control this game and nothing is lining up well for the Jets.
It's all systems go this week for the Raiders offense. In Week 1 against the Jets, the Bills tied for the most plays run (74) yet still managed the sixth-most yards per play (5.7), despite not boasting the deepest or most talented offense outside of LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. The Raiders offense is chock full of dynamic playmakers, and all of them need to be in your lineups. The Jets gave up 408 total yards to the Bills -- it'll be an upset if the Raiders don't threaten to beat that. It goes without saying to start the likes of Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree, but don't overlook Jared Cook. He saw five targets, catching all five for 56 yards last week, but more noteworthy was his 15.6 percent target share. I wrote in this column last week that the Raiders would have to buck a recent trend of targeting tight ends for Cook to be fantasy relevant, and that might be happening. An Oakland tight end hit 15.6 percent of the team targets just once in 2016 (Clive Walford, Week 2), and here Cook did it in his first game with the team. Charles Clay received nine targets against the Jets last week, catching four for 53 yards and a touchdown. Stream Cook with confidence. The Raiders defense surprised last week, holding the loaded Titans offense to just 350 total yards and 16 points. Khalil Mack and company are in a prime spot to stomp the Jets in front of the Black Hole. They're one of the best streaming options of the week.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
The King of YOLO Balls, DGAF, and smokin' fake cigs, Jay Cutler, is back in the NFL, folks. And since streaming is sort of the (calculated) YOLO approach to setting a fantasy lineup, it makes perfect sense that Cutler could be a nice replacement starter this week. The Chargers defense allowed Trevor Siemian to put up a top-five fantasy finish against them on Monday night, though that had a lot to do with Siemian's rushing score, I digress. Cutler has the weapons and arm talent to make plays against this defense. Why not give him a shot? I guarantee it'll be a wild ride either way. Speaking of rides, hop aboard the Jay Train and get Ajayi into your lineups. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles averaged just over four yards per carry on Monday, and Ajayi should see 20-25 touches in this bout. The wide receiver group is a bit of a mystery, but Cutler's preseason affinity for DeVante Parker points to him being his No. 1 option this year. This is bad news for Jarvis Landry, a slot receiver who has survived in fantasy the last few years thanks to massive volume. Cutler doesn't have a great history of targeting his slot wideouts, even in his one year with Adam Gase (2015). Eddie Royal played in the slot for much of that year when healthy, but 44 percent of his targets came when Alshon Jeffery was out of the lineup. Even worse for Landry is that he's battling a knee injury as well. I;d leave him on the bench, but the absence of Jason Verrett (knee, OUT), could open up things for Parker and Kenny Stills. Casey Hayward could shadow one of them, but Verrett's loss is a big one. Parker is the best play thanks to his combination of talent, athleticism and the favoritism of Cutler, but those in deep leagues could dial up Stills' number too. Julius Thomas hasn't done much in fantasy without Peyton Manning, so until that trend changes he needs to ride the pine.
Only five teams in the NFL gave up more passing touchdowns than Miami last year. They signed veteran safety Nate Allen and drafted Cordrea Tankersley to try and fix this, but Philip Rivers should be able to work his way through this secondary. Hell, he just tossed three touchdowns against the "No Fly Zone" in Denver. Melvin Gordon saw 23 touches against the Broncos, cementing the workhorse status we all presumed he'd have this year. He's an RB1. Keenan Allen resumed his role as Rivers' favorite target, soaking up 30 percent of his pass attempts. He'll have better odds of a big game out from under the coverage blanket the Broncos buried him under. Tyrell Williams' seven targets were a welcome surprise and signal he's (for now) the second option in this aerial assault. He's a decent flex option. I'd avoid chasing the production of Travis Benjamin this week based on his four targets, though he has the look of a boom-or-bust home run threat moving forward. The tight end position is, surprisingly, a concern. It's tough to tell if this was purely game-planning or a shift in philosophy from head coach Anthony Lynn, but Antonio Gates saw just three targets while Hunter Henry put up a goose egg. Gates led the way in playing time with 36 snaps to Henry's 23. Until their role in this offense evens back out or becomes more clear, it's best to leave them on the bench. The Chargers defense is a decent start this week. Cutler was sacked 29 times the last time he played in an Adam Gase offense, and the Bolts boast one of the best pass-rush duos in the league with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa (who took down Trevor Siemian three times in Week 1).
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
This one will be quick. The 49ers offensive arrow for the long-term is pointing up under the guidance of Kyle Shanahan, but after getting pulverized by the Panthers IN San Francisco (aka Santa Clara), the arrow is nose-diving as this unit travels to Seattle. The Seahawks defense is coming off a dominant performance limiting Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just 17 points in Lambeau Field and should make quick work of this Brian Hoyer-led group. Even Carlos Hyde and his volume-upside is a tough option to start given the Seahawks' swarming nature. While Hyde and Pierre Garcon will have plenty of usable weeks down the line, it's not worth the risk starting them this week.
The Seahawks passing defense disappointed against the Packers but should bounce back with a vengeance against the 49ers this week. Since 2010 the Seahawks average 26.9 points in home games in September, and since 2012 average 30.3 points per game following a game in which they scored zero touchdowns. Also of note is this great find from Davis Hsu, where the Seahawks average far more points on turf (like they have at home), than on grass. I'd avoid starting the Seahawks backs for now, though. Thomas Rawls is practicing and could return to game action, but it's up in the air how much he'll play. Chris Carson led the backfield in snaps last week, but Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise still remain. Patience is the best practice here. Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin are must-starts, though I'd put Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett on the bench for this one. Richardson played 83 percent of the plays last week to Lockett's 52, but if the Seahawks get up early (which they should) that'll take some of the air out of the passing game, and these two rely on deep plays. Start the hell out of the Seahawks defense this weekend at home. I hope you didn't need me to tell you that though.
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Turonvers sunk Kirk Cousins' fantasy battleship in Week 1, and more could be on the way against the Rams. Yes, the Rams defense looked god-like against Scott Tolzein, but this is a talented unit getting its best player (Aaron Donald) back, and Cousins is on the road. This offense struggled in the preseason and those issues carried over into Week 1. I'd stream the position instead of risking it with Cousins this week. Rob Kelley remains the workhorse but gets swapped out for Chris Thompson when the team falls behind as he offers next to nothing in the passing game. The Redskins NEED to get the ground game going, so there's potential volume coming Kelley's way, and we know he'll be a factor around the goal line. Thompson saw five targets last week and received four or more looks eight times last year. If the Rams offense is for real and puts up points, Thompson could be a factor. Terrelle Pryor saw 11 targets last week, and the Eagles just lost Ronald Darby to a dislocated ankle. If the volume is there again for Pryor, he could do some damage in fantasy lineups. I won't fault anyone for benching Jamison Crowder this week after he caught just three of his seven targets for 14 yards. Crowder is a better play when this offense is humming, but right now Cousins' struggles trickle down to negatively impact the diminutive slot receiver. Jordan Reed was second on the team in targets (eight), but only one of his looks came with 10-plus air yards, contributing to his low yardage output (36). Reed is a great red-zone weapon but received just one target near the end zone. Perhaps that changes in Week 2 as the Redskins look to get back on track. Washington netted a pick six against Wentz, but I'd leave them on the bench this week. The Rams improved O-line could slow the Washington pass rush, but if you take a chance on Washington just hope Goff turns back into a bit of a pumpkin after his impressive Week 1 showing.
Are we witnessing the rebirth of Jared Goff? Week 1 provided plenty of evidence for that as last year's No. 1 overall pick looked poised in the pocket and delivered darts all over the field. He's worth a stream in deeper leagues in case this is the start of something new and wonderful for Los Angeles football fans. Washington let the occasionally erratic Carson Wentz drop 307 yards and two touchdowns on them at nearly 8 yards per attempt. The Redskins front seven allowed just 52 yards on 20 carries from the Eagles backs, a paltry 2.6 yards per carry ... otherwise known as an aspirational figure for Todd Gurley. I kid, I kid, but Gurley is coming off a 19-carry, 40-yard performance (1.9 yards per carry) against the lowly Colts. He'll still be a solid flex though given his passing game work (six targets). The Eagles backs amassed seven receptions, 49 yards and one score against Washington. Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp are both worth a flex play this week. Terrelle Pryor was able to get open deep and find space in the middle of the Washington secondary a few times, and all it takes is one big play for Watkins to justify his place in your starting lineup. Don't fear a Josh Norman shadow, as he played almost all of his snaps lined up against the offensive right side of the field, so both Watkins and Kupp could see a bit of him. Kupp tied for the team lead in targets last week, and could follow the path of Nelson Agholor to success against this unit. Much of Agholor's 14.6 fantasy points came on a broken play, but Kupp's ability to get open deeper downfield could serve him well in this game. He averaged more air yards per target (12.9) than Agholor (12.6), and Agholor's figure benefited heavily from the 40-plus air yards he got on his broken play touchdown. The Rams defense welcomes back Aaron Donald and gets to face a Washington offense that just gave up 22 points to the Eagles. If you streamed the Rams last week, lock them into your lineup once again.
Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
In his three games against top-10 pass defenses in 2016 Dak Prescott averaged 229.3 yards per game, completed 74.4 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns with no interceptions. He picked up right where he left off in Week 1, authoring a masterful performance against the Giants elite defense (scoring 17.12 fantasy points in the process). He's on the road this time, but Prescott is the real deal and is on the verge of becoming matchup-proof in fantasy. Did you know Ezekiel Elliott is really good at football? Well, he is, and because of that, he's going to get a ton of touches. Dez Bryant was shut down by Janoris Jenkins in Week 1, but he saw three targets in the red zone. Denver boasts three shut-down corners in Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby, but all it takes is for Dez to snag one score to make him worth the start. Cole Beasley lost work to Terrance Williams in Week 1, a disappointing development for his PPR outlook. Jason Witten eviscerated the Giants as per usual, but shouldn't be in your lineup this week against the Broncos. It might be tempting to ride with Dallas' defense again this week, but the Broncos offense should fare better than the Giants did with their porous offensive line and no Odell Beckham Jr. -- especially at home.
I 100 percent whiffed on Trevor Siemian last week, so I apologize. I like Siemian well enough, I just thought the matchup against a stout Chargers defense would prove too much for him to produce in fantasy. Whoops. The Cowboys secondary was already a bit of a question mark before losing Orlando Scandrick to a broken hand. With talented playmakers around him, Siemian is worth streaming again in Week 2, though don't be surprised if his output is a bit less without the boost of a rushing score. C.J. Anderson could be the most overlooked featured back in fantasy from this summer. He played 69 percent of the snaps and handled 20 carries against the Chargers, and should be an RB2 against Dallas. The Giants couldn't run the ball against the Cowboys, but that's because the only position with more question marks than New York's offensive line might be its backfield. Bennie Fowler may have stolen the touchdowns, but Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders still led the team in targets. They're weekly plays and could bounce back against the weakened Dallas secondary. Denver boasts one of the best defenses in the league, but the Cowboys are a brutal fantasy opponent. They don't turn the ball over or allow many sacks, making it nearly impossible to score fantasy points. I'd sit the Broncos this week and stream the position.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Both the Packers and Falcons disappointed a bit on offense last week, but we need to approach this game as if it will be an absolute shootout. These teams squared off twice last year, with point totals of 65 in each. Aaron Rodgers and this entire passing attack, save Martellus Bennett, are absolute starts this week. The Falcons welcomed back star corner Desmond Trufant last week (who missed much of 2016), and he only allowed three catches on 29 coverage plays. However, the Packers wide receivers roam around so much they won't be locked down by Trufant, who primarily covers the offensive right side. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams were the three most targeted players on Green Bay in Week 1, and we shouldn't expect that to change. Martellus Bennett could be started, but I'm slightly concerned the Packers may keep a tight end in to help pass protect, as starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga missed last week and won't play this week either as he was sent back to Green Bay with flu-like symptoms. The right side of the Packers line allowed 1.2 sacks per game in 2016, but the Bulaga-less right side conceded 3.5 in Week 1. That's bad news considering 2016's sack king, Vic Beasley, primarily plays on that side of the line. Ty Montgomery has a chance to be the week's top scoring running back. After gutting out a strong performance against the elite Seahawks front seven, he faces a Falcons defense that was gashed on the ground and through the air by the Bears running backs in Week 1. No team allowed more targets (141), receptions (109), or receiving yards (870) to running backs than Atlanta last year, and that trend could be continuing into 2017. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard caught 11 of their 17 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown last week. Montgomery's volume (23 touches, 89 percent playing time) and matchup are in concert here, so make sure he's in your lineup. The Packers defense was great last week, but a road trip to Atlanta means the Packers stop unit needs to be on the bench.
Much like with the Packers, you're pretty much starting all of the Falcons if you have them. Matt Ryan attempted half as many deep passes (20-plus air yards) last week as he averaged last year, but the Packers could be his opportunity to get back on track. For whatever reason, Devonta Freeman was a touchdown machine at home last year with 11 of his 13 scores coming on familiar turf. He's still the back to start here, though Tevin Coleman can be flexed in this potential shootout. Julio Jones absolutely demolished the Packers secondary in the NFC Championship game last year, but 167 of his 180 yards (and both touchdowns) came while LaDarius Gunter was covering him, and the Packers released Gunter earlier this week. I still like Jones' chances of smashing in this game, but don't overlook Mohamed Sanu, who led the team in targets in Week 1 and destroyed the Packers the first time these two teams faced off in 2016 with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Austin Hooper did a lot of damage on his two targets last year, but I'd personally like to see him more involved in the offense before starting him every week. I wouldn't fault anyone chasing his touchdown-upside in this one, though. The Falcons defense could sack Rodgers a few times in this one, but that won't be enough to make up for all of the points the Packers should score.