Start your studs! I’ll only be talking about guys who aren’t as obvious. If your stud has a tough matchup, don’t get cute.
Allen Robinson vs Seattle
Seattle couldn’t hold Denver’s WRs on the outside last week, especially on Tre Flowers’ side, where they gave up the most fantasy points to WRs last week lining up on that left side. Allen Robinson got the most snaps from that side of the field last week, and played about 65% overall on the outside. Even with an improved Bears defense, Seattle should put up points, and the Bears should have to continue to throw. Robinson looked great last week to start the game before the play calling got conservative. He’s a good start this week at home.
Jarvis Landry @ NO
Patrick Robinson is a great nickel corner, so it’s a tough matchup, but Tyrod just isn’t looking anywhere else. Tyrod’s eyes are glued to Landry, and he’ll get the opportunity. With the Browns likely throwing a ton trying to keep up with the Saints at home, Landry should overcome the matchup with the opportunity he should receive. Josh Gordon will probably be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore, and yes he got burned by Mike Evans last week, but Tyrod isn’t looking Gordon’s way anyway.
Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas vs Oakland
The Raiders started Leon Hall in the nickel exclusively last week, and actually played Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside on a limited basis. If DRC isn’t going to play the slot, we should be able to target slot WRs going up against Oakland all year long. Sanders played almost 60% of his snaps from the slot last week, and I would expect that to continue. Gareon Conley also gave up a ton of fantasy points on the left side of the offensive side, and Sanders played about a quarter of his snaps on that side of the field, so make sure he’s in your starting lineup. Demaryius Thomas also moved around the formation a ton, and played almost 75% of his snaps lining up against those two vulnerable spots. With Oakland’s best corner in Rashaan Melvin playing exclusively on the other side, I’m not worried at all about this matchup for these two.
Marvin Jones and Golden Tate @ SF
Richard Sherman exclusively played the offense’s right side last week, which is basically what he’s done his entire career, and that’s where Golladay plays on most of his snaps. Marvin Jones primarily lines up on the left side of the field where Akhello Witherspoon lines up, and that’s where we should expect Matt Stafford to attack. The 49ers gave up the 9th most fantasy points last week to Vikings WRs on that side last week, and it was the same vulnerability they had last year, where they gave up the 5th most fantasy points all last year to that side, and the single most in the last 8 games of the season. Jones needs to be in lineups. Adam Thielen was able to rack up catches and yards last week from the slot, and with the Lions likely having to keep throwing it with their terrible defense not helping then, Tate should be able to rack up targets as well.
Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison vs Minnesota
With Xavier Rhodes potentially shadowing Davante Adams, there can be extra targets to go around to Cobb and Allison. It looks like nickel corner Mackenzie Alexander will play this week after missing last week, so it’s a big of an upgrade for the Vikings defense, but if Aaron Rodgers plays, they will depend on the short passing game out of the shotgun.; that fits into the rapport between Cobb and Rodgers. Trae Waynes isn’t as good on the other side, so Allison can take advantage of that matchup. Rodgers can support multiple WRs, especially at home, so he makes a great WR3 of flex in your lineup. I probably would sit these guys if Rodgers doesn’t play.
Cooper Kupp vs Arizona
Safety Budda Baker is playing the Tyrann Mathieu role, but he just isn’t as good in coverage yet this early in his career. Patrick Peterson moved around a ton last week, but stayed on the perimeter, so he’ll see a lot of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Because of that, expect Kupp to continue to get looks.
Devin Funchess @ Atlanta
Funchess lined up on the right side of the field where Atlanta’s best corner in Desmond Trufant lives only 15% of the time last week. With Greg Olsen out, Funchess should extra opportunity, especially in the end zone. Without Olsen, he went from 0.29 TDs per game to 0.67, and scores about 5 more PPR points per game as well. I wasn’t a fan of drafting Funchess, but he should be viable while Olsen is out.
Chris Hogan @ Jax
Don’t go full tilt because of Hogan’s game last week. He played in the slot a lot more than we thought he would, and because of it, he was lined up against former Jaguar and Texans’ best corner in Aaron Colvin. Colvin allowed a league low 0.17 fantasy points per route run against him last season. I did say Colvin isn’t on the Jaguars anymore right? Well, because of it, Hogan should run about half of his routes away from A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. With Phillip Dorsett playing primarily on the outside, the production should be back in Hogan’s favor this week.
Ted Ginn vs Cleveland
Ginn actually lined up more in the slot than any other Saints WR last week. Cam Meredith was inactive last week because of his lack of playing time this offseason and a need to get the timing of the offense right. Until he emerges, Ginn is clearly the 2nd WR option for Drew Brees, and at home against Boddy-Calhoun in the slot, who gave up a good game to Juju last week, I’m good starting Ginn in Week 2. Boddy-Calhoun was targeted more than any other Browns corner last week, and didn’t fare to well. I would expect that to continue this week with Michael Thomas also lining up in the slot a ton.
Nelson Agholor @ TB
Agholor is preferred in PPR in case his low depth of target continues, but we do know that the volume will be there with Alshon Jeffery out once again. Darren Sproles was also downgraded on Thursday with a hamstring injury, so even more targets can open up for Agholor. The matchup is great too; nickel corner Vernon Hargreaves is out for the season, and outside CB Brent Grimes will also most likely be out with a groin injury. Agholor lined up where those two usually line up around 75% of his snaps last week. This entire secondary can be beat in a big way.
Tyler Lockett @ Chicago
We saw what Chicago allowed to slot WR Randall Cobb last week, and Tyler Lockett made a shift inside after Doug Baldwin left the game last week; Lockett played more than 70% of his snaps in the slot after Baldwin got hurt, so his target share should increase this week in that role. Brandon Marshall actually has a bit of a tough matchup against Prince Amukamara on the left side, so Lockett should be looked at when Marshall is lined up over there. Chicago wasn’t great all year to slot WRs, so I’m good throwing Lockett into my lineup this week.
Corey Davis vs Houston
I’m putting him here to make a point. Without Delanie Walker in the lineup for the rest of the year, Davis should continue to get elite target share like the 13 targets he saw last week. He’ll be very hard to sit the entire year, and this week in particular should be just fine as far as matchup goes. Like I sad earlier, Aaron Colvin is the bright spot out of the Houston corners, but Davis only played about 30% of his snaps from the slot last week. Once Davis is on the outside, he has a clear advantage against Johnathan Joseph, as well as against safety Kareem Jackson if he’s forced to play there after Kevin Johnson was placed on IR.
Adrian Peterson vs Indy
This Indy defense can be run on, and I’m not worried about a negative game script in this game. Washington is favored at home by almost a TD, so game script seems to be in Peterson’s favor. It’s tough to start him in PPR leagues, but he’s also tough to sit this week; the couple of catches he had last week was encouraging.
Tevin Coleman vs Carolina
Tough matchup, but it appears Devonta Freeman is not expected to play, so Coleman will get all the touches for Atlanta. With Coleman’s ability in the pass game, it should supplement his work in the run game enough to come out with a decent game for fantasy purposes. Coleman always has the ability to break one loose, so there’s upside on top of the volume.
Kenyan Drake @ NYJ
I’m putting Drake here because some might not consider him an every-week RB2, but for me he is until further notice. Frank Gore might have out-produced him on the ground last week, but Drake played almost 75% of snaps. That’s very encouraging usage, and I’m going back to that and expect better touch numbers and usage out of Drake in a game that won’t span over 7 hours.
Mike Williams @ BUF
Williams had a great line yesterday, but only played on 54% of snaps. That should increase, as he had more targets and production than guys who played more snaps like Tyrell Williams. He caught 5 balls for 81 yards, and he didn’t even have to use his special ability in the red zone to give you fantasy value, which is a great sign. He split his snaps on the outside between the left and right side, and should be just fine against this defense when he’s not lined up against Tre’Davious White.
Cole Beasley vs NYG (PPR only)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie doesn’t play nickel for the Giants anymore, so the slot is pretty vulnerable. With no Jason Witten or any other capable pass-catching TE, Cole Beasley is clearly Dak Prescott’s favorite target, seeing 32% of the target share, which ranked 11th out of all WRs last week. Beasley might not be viable for the entire season as rookie Michael Gallup gets eased into more playing time. Beasley doesn’t have a huge ceiling, but he’s good for at least 5-6 catches in every game for the near future.
Dante Pettis vs Detroit
With Marquise Goodwin likely out for Week 2, Pettis will see time on the field, and see most of his snaps away from Darius Slay. He only played that side of the field on 18% of his routes last week. Pettis is a very talented WR, and if given opportunity, he is a decent play this week against this terrible Lions defense. Nevin Lawson gave up a shit ton of fantasy points last week against him, and the slot should be exploitable as well. Take a shot on Pettis for some upside if you don’t have any other viable options.
Bilal Powell vs Miami
Miami’s run defense isn’t very good, and Powell is a candidate to be on the field no matter what the game script looks like. Isaiah Crowell will no doubt be involved and share touches, but he won’t be the preferred option if the Jets get behind, or in their hurry-up offense. Powell was even on the field when the Jets were trying to run the clock out; it wasn’t just Crowell. If you’re hurting and in need of a RB this week, Powell is someone you can depend on for about 15 touches.
Rex Burkhead/James White/Sony Michel @ Jax
Don’t start all of them! Keep an eye on who’s playing for the Patriots this week. They’re all capable of catching the ball, so even against a tough Jags D, passing to RBs is going to be the preferred method of moving the ball for Tom Brady. Sony Michel was limited and Burkhead was limited as well as of Thursday. James White is the only healthy RB, and he’ll definitely be involved. In a PPR league, I have no hesitation starting James White. If one of the other backs are out, it’ll be White and whoever, and I will start that whoever as well in a PPR league. It’s always tougher in standard, because TDs are always harder to predict with this bunch, but if it’s Burkhead, he’s the better standard play and the favorite for goal line work.
Davante Adams vs Minnesota
Aaron Rodgers is hobbled, but as long as Rodgers is on the field, it’s very tough to sit his #1 WR. The other problem is that Xavier Rhodes will likely shadow Adams this week. Tough matchup, but the upside is too high to bench. Adams is a good enough player to overcome if given ample opportunity.
TY Hilton @ Washington
Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar form a nice duo on the outside, so hopefully TY can take advantage while he’s in the slot. He’s still going to get the targets from Luck, who threw 50+ times last week, so I’m not too worried about Hilton with the opportunity he should see.
Brandon Marshall @ Chicago
Marshall will definitely see increased opportunity, and I’m okay starting him this week in a revenge game, but he ran a majority of his routes last week on Prince Amukamara’s side of the field. The Bears were one of the best last year on Amukamara’s side of the field, and he only gave up 0.2 fantasy points per route run against him, which is one of the best in the league. If Marshall can get matched up on the right side of the field against a smaller corner in Kyle Fuller, there is a size advantage there that Marshall can take advantage of in the red zone. I understand if you want to start him this week because of the increase in opportunity with Baldwin out, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t come away with a good game.
Jay Ajayi @ TB
Darren Sproles injured his hamstring in practice this week, and that’s not a good sign after being downgraded to DNP on Thursday. Because of it, a ton of snaps open up for Ajayi against a bad defense, albeit an improved rushing defense. He can potentially rack up close to 20 carries and maybe a catch or two. Alvin Kamara didn’t find much success on the ground against this front, so keep that in mind. Corey Clement gets an upgrade too.
Josh Gordon @ NO
It’s very tough for me to start Gordon this week for a couple of reasons. The first reason is Tyrod Taylor not looking at him enough; Gordon played on 78% of snaps last week, and only had 1 catch one 3 targets last week. Jarvin Landry is getting all of Tyrod’s looks with 15 targets last week, in addition to 7 targets to David Njoku. The second reason is that Marshon Lattimore is projected to shadow Gordon all game long, and even though Mike Evans torched him last week, at least Evans got the opportunity. Without the opportunity plus the tough matchup, I’m sitting Gordon this week, even with the Browns in a potential negative game script. Let’s be clear; if Baker Mayfield was the QB of this team this week, there’s no way Gordon is on my bench even in this matchup.
Kelvin Benjamin vs LAC
If you were thinking about starting Benjamin, you might be in a dire situation. That offense is terrible right now, but we’ll see what Josh Allen can do in his first start. Either way, Casey Hayward is projected to shadow Benjamin. I’m staying away.
Jamison Crowder vs Indy
Indy’s defense is hot trash, but their only bright spot is probably their nickel corner Nate Hairston. Last year, Hairston and the Colts gave up the least amount of fantasy points to slot WRs. We saw what Tyler Boyd was able to do against Baltimore out of the slot on Monday night, but he couldn’t get much done against Indy even with the Bengals scoring 34 points against them. Alex Smith has a history of not liking WRs so much, but I can see Crowder being a bit of a buy low target or even a waiver pickup after owners get frustrated with him after Week 2.
Jordan Wilkins/Marlon Mack @ Washington
If Mack is back this week, this backfield will be too crowded to start anyone from it. They also can’t run the ball behind that offensive line, will possible get into a negative game script, so there aren’t good vibes around this running game right now. Nyheim Hines would be the only RB I feel okay about starting in a full PPR format.
It’s a tough matchup for Williams this week against the Vikings, but the Packers might need to depend on him a bit this week on the ground with Rodgers hurt. Williams has the upside of a goal line carry or two, but he isn’t breaking a long one, and it’s going to take a lot to have some success against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. There’s also a possibility that Ty Montgomery will be used more for Rodgers and that quick passing game he’ll run because of his knee injury. With all of those things considered and Williams possibly not getting a whole lot of touches, I rather find another option, even with the upside he possesses in this offense.
I’m not a big fan of Carlos Hyde in this game with the Saints more than likely being up for most of it. The Browns would like to get Hyde as involved as possible, but it’ll likely be Duke Johnson on the field for most of it. Hyde can potentially salvage his day with a goal line TD, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it; I don’t foresee the volume in this game. I would only sit Hyde if you have another suitable backup. If not, Hyde isn’t the worst play in the world; he’s still their early down back and it’s also still possible the Browns stay within arm’s reach in this game if the Saints defense continues to not play as well.