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Running Backs

Derrick Henry – Game script shouldn’t be an issue for the Titans at home against the Colts. Their defense was able to keep the Browns in check last week, and as long they’re in the game, Henry will continue to get fed. Both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson were able to stay efficient against the Colts in the run game, so Henry has a good shot at producing with volume.

Marlon Mack – Mack had a 63 yard TD run last week against the Chargers, and still would’ve had over 100 rushing yards without it. They want to feed him the ball without Andrew Luck, and he had 25 rushing attempts to show for it. When Mack had 25 or more carries last year, he averaged 130 rushing yards; he gets it done with volume. The matchup isn’t particularly tough, so I doubt the Colts get away from that game plan unless they get down big; Vegas has this game very close.

Mark Ingram – Another good matchup for Ingram. The Cardinals stacked heavily stacked the box against the Lions last week, and we’ll see if they can do the same this week. If you asked me two weeks ago, sure, of course they can stack the box against Lamar Jackson and the run-heavy Ravens… but with Jackson showing that he can do things with his arm, they might not be as inclined to do that. Also, Matt Stafford tore their secondary apart, partly because of that, and because Arizona is lacking corners. The Ravens might be able to have a second straight dominant win; Vegas agrees with them being favored by almost 2 TDs.

Austin Ekeler – Ekeler should have a spot in your lineup this week after what he did in Week 1. It’s tough to get a good gauge of the Lions rushing defense last week because they had to defend 4+ WRs all day long. The Chargers’ more traditional formations will allow the Lions to get into their base formations. Ekeler is a lock for 17+ touches, because.. well, he’s had 17+ touches in each of his starts in the NFL.

Kerryon Johnson – You kind of have to start him, right? Considering where you drafted him, and the fact that he’s probably getting 15+ touches, he’s a start. Kerryon totaled 62 yards on 18 touches last week against the Cardinals, and part of that can be contributed to them stacking the box against him 50% of the time. Him and CJ Anderson faced the two highest rates of stacked boxes in Week 1. We didn’t see any goal line attempts last week, but the assumption is that Anderson will get a majority of those, or at least eat into them. We saw how Marlon Mack was able to gash the Chargers defense last week, and he faced a stacked box at one of the lowest rates. Even though the committee can be annoying, 18 touches is more than enough for Kerryon to do his thing more often than not as a RB2.

Sony Michel – The Patriots couldn’t run the ball last week against the Steelers with Michel, but still gave him 15 rushing attempts. This week, they go up against a Dolphins team that had two RBs combine for 31 carries and 163 yards. Tom Brady can light it up, but the Pats will likely play with a lead for a majority of this game, leaving Michel to close it out. With the Dolphins defense almost non-existent, Michel should bounce back in what should be an ideal game script.

Nick Chubb – A bit of a disappointing performance last week, as he was sharing the backfield with Dontrell Hilliard before his concussion. Once he went out, D’Ernest Johnson played the role of Chubb’s complement. He still played on 70% of snaps, so that will be plenty to get it done against the Jets on Monday night. Devin Singletary got a chunk play on each of carries, but the Browns’ offensive line is a bit of a concern right now. I’m not panicking on Chubb, he’ll be in my lineup for Week 2.

Leonard Fournette – He had a lackluster performance in Week 1, but he played on 86% of snaps. He’s going to be involved in the pass game regardless of how game script turns out. His floor is high, and so is his ceiling. He’s an every down back, so I’m playing him every week, just in case you weren’t sure.

Chris Carson – Carson’s new responsibilities in the passing game put him in RB1 territory. He caught 6 of 7 targets on top of his 15 carries – that’s the type of opportunity you want your RB to see. Start him, even though Sony Michel couldn’t get going last week against the Steelers; Michel isn’t involved in the pass game.. Rex Burkhead and James White combined for 10 catches for 97 yards. Carson can do some damage this week.

Gio Bernard – Mixon is obviously a start if he goes, but if he doesn’t, Bernard should play at least 70% of snaps and dominate the RB market share of touches. The 49ers are a team that can be run against, and we saw what Ronald Jones was able to do last week. This is a matchup you want for your RB, and Bernard will be able to contribute heavily in the pass game as well; the 49ers allowed the 7th most receptions and the 8th most receiving yards to RBs in 2018.

Matt Breida – With Tevin Coleman out, Matt Breida steps in as the main guy in the backfield, while Raheem Mostert has a decent sized share as well. Breida was efficient all last season when he wasn’t banged up, and while Cincinnati played relatively well against Chris Carson in the run game, it’s not a defense that scares you away. Remember, this team gave up the 4th most rushing yards and almost 5 yards per carry to opposing RBs last season. Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone scheme is what will allow Breida and Mostert to be successful. Breida should easily log 15-20 touches if he can make it through the game unscathed.

Damien Williams – The further into the season we get, the more potential work LeSean McCoy can take from Williams. However, in this matchup against the Raiders, there still can be plenty to go around in what should be a very positive game script. Together, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman averaged almost 5 yards per carry on Monday night, so the matchup is there. As long as Williams remains the main guy, there will be enough work for him (especially in the passing game) to return at least RB2 numbers with RB1 upside. Not sure how long that lasts, but I would milk it as long as I can.

Tarik Cohen (PPR) – Cohen was the Bears’ full-time slot WR last week in place of Anthony Miller. No word on whether Miller will play a bigger role this week, but until he does, Cohen will see targets out of the slot. He caught 8 of 10 targets for 49 yards last week, so nothing amazing, but his floor is relatively high at the moment, and we know he can take it to the house on any given play. This role might not last too long. Hopefully Chris Harris moves to the outside in the new scheme and shadows Allen Robinson instead of playing his typical role guarding the slot receiver; can’t imagine him defending a RB all game.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Ridley – Case Keenum had a huge day against Philly’s secondary last week, and Matt Ryan should be able to take advantage as well. Ridley will likely see a lot of Ronald Darby since he primarily lines up on his side, but it’s not a matchup we should be worried about. Ridley is a big play waiting to happen, and we saw how many times Terry McLaurin got deep last week; Keenum missed McLaurin wide open, which would’ve been another 70-yard TD. Ridley should be in lineups this week.

Tyler Boyd – The 49ers gave up the the 6th most fantasy points to slot WRs last season with K’Waun Williams as their nickel corner, and it really got bad towards the end of the season, with them giving up the most to slot receivers over the last four weeks of the season. Chris Godwin was somewhat of a letdown last week out of the slot with Jameis Winston completely shitting the bed, but he was only targeted six times, and that was a team-high; he did catch a TD late, though. When Boyd came out of the slot, most of this routes were ran on the left side of the formation, which is the opposite side Richard Sherman plays, so he’ll avoid him as well. Keep him in your lineups in Week 2, especially in PPR.

Tyrell Williams – Taking over as the #1 WR after the Antonio Brown departure, Williams had a great first game against the Broncos on Monday night – 6 of 7 catches for 105 yards and a TD. The Chiefs come to town, so you would figure that the Raiders will have to score some points. This game is tied for the highest point total of Week 2, and Derek Carr historically has good games at home against the Chiefs. We saw a 6th round rookie tear the Chiefs defense up in three quarters, so we can see Carr have a good game with Williams being his first option at receiver. Last week, the Chiefs gave up the 5th most fantasy points to the Jaguars perimeter WRs, and the 7th most fantasy points in the league to their slot WRs.

Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson – D-Jax is a must-play after the week he had last week. Not only was he a deep threat, but he got serious volume – 8 of 10 for 154 yards and 2 TDs. Alshon was shadowed by Josh Norman, but still had a decent day. This week, they go up against a Falcons secondary that shouldn’t scare anyone. The Vikings threw the ball only ten times last week, so the raw numbers against that secondary look bad, but on a per snap basis, Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver gave up an average of almost a full fantasy point per route run against them. Oliver did not look good, and both of these WRs will go up against him many times this weekend. The over/under is set at 51, but it can very well go over.

DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel – Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis gave up 0.38 and 0.34 fantasy points per route run against them on the perimeter last season, which is not good. The 49ers didn’t test the Bucs last week with their WRs, so it wasn’t a true litmus test. Moore will see more of Hargreaves, and Samuel will see more of Davis. Samuel should bounce back this week after seeing a lot of Aqib Talib on Sunday; neither of these guys are must-starts, but I would feel comfortable having either in my lineup this week as a flex play.

Michael Gallup – Gallup has looked great in camp, in preseason, and it carried over to Week 1. Kellen Moore’s offense is creative and has really opened up this passing game, and it’s possible him and Dak start supporting two WRs for fantasy. If Josh Norman shadows Amari Cooper, Gallup will once again have a great matchup this week; see DeSean Jackson in Week 1. Norman shadowed Alshon Jeffery on 94% of routes last week, so we can see Gallup run free all game long.

Jamison Crowder – The matchup for Crowder in the slot isn’t amazing against the Browns, but the Bills matchup was terrible, which is why he didn’t go above 100 yards on his 14 receptions. That doesn’t matter for PPR, so with Quincy Enunwa sidelined for the season, Crowder is guaranteed a nice-sized target share to give you that high floor in PPR leagues.

Tyler Lockett – Lockett had a total of TWO targets last week. After the game, he said he was never double teamed the way he was in that game, so that can explain a little bit. We shouldn’t expect the Steelers to do that though; they gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to slot WRs last season, and it continued in Week 1, as they gave up the most fantasy points of the week to Patriots’ slot receivers. Lockett should bounce back; I wouldn’t be scared off of his 2-target game in Week 1.

Chris Godwin – Godwin is going up against Javien Elliott in the slot; it’s not a matchup we should be afraid of. Jameis Winston was terrible last week, but Godwin led the team in targets with only 6 and salvaged his day with a late TD. This offense is tough to trust, but with James Bradberry potentially shadowing Mike Evans, Godwin should be the first option once again.

Desperate Starts

Running Backs

Devin Singletary – Frank Gore got most of the touches in the run game for the Bills, and it’s better to be patient with Singletary and keep him on your bench, but this is a good matchup for him. He out-snapped Frank Gore 45-19 last week, and was the primary pass-catcher in the backfield with 5 targets. With TJ Yeldon on the bench, Singletary’s touches can potentially go up pretty quickly if he’s going to maintain the type of snap percentage he saw in Week 1. By the way, once Singletary started touching the ball, the Bills started to make a comeback and win the game. I’m buying low right now while I can before a breakout. In a matchup against the Giants, he might do just that.

Rex Burkhead – There will likely be a lot of rushing attempts in this game against the Dolphins after the Patriots go up big, and Rex can potentially gather 12+ touches. He had great opportunity last week, logging 8 carries and 8 targets. The Patriots were up big, but Burkhead was still able to get work in the passing game. Burkhead is always a threat to score when he’s healthy, as he’s used in some packages in the red zone. This is an efficiency + matchup play if you’re hurting for an option.

Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson – I will not bet against Adrian Peterson coming off a healthy scratch, and in a game where he wants to prove to his head coach that he was wrong for doing it. It’s a tough matchup against Dallas, but Peterson has surprised us in tough matchups as recently as last year. Game script can easily go Chris Thompson’s way, leaving Peterson with less than 15 carries, but he has upside of close to 20 carries and goal line work. Just for clarity, if Derrius Guice was “healthy” and had this role once again this week, he’d be in my Sit section. Thompson is the preferred start in PPR leagues, as Dallas has allowed the 5th most receptions to RBs in 2018.

Raheem Mostert – Mostert had 6 touches to Breida’s 10 after Tevin Coleman left the game, so he should be plenty involved against the Bengals. 12+ touches doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility, so he’s more of a deeper league play. The matchup is pretty good considering how the Bengals fared against RBs last season (see Breida above), so Mostert is a flex who can be efficient with his touches.

Malcolm Brown – Brown had 11 carries, 2 of which were converted goal line carries last week, on only 26% of snaps. He was out-touching Gurley going into the 4th, so there’s a possibility that the work continues, there’s a possibility it goes up, and obviously a possibility of it going down. It’s also possible Gurley resumes main goal line duties. Either way, it seems as though Gurley will have a complement all season long. If Brown gets 12+ touches along with potential goal line work, he can be a flex play when you’re desperate, and he can be that this week against the New Orleans. Remember, Carlos Hyde shredded them for 83 yards on his 10 carries. I’m not excited by starting Brown, but this offense puts RBs in very good position to succeed.

Miles Sanders – He’s the lead back, but he’s fighting both Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard for playing time. With that being said, he played almost 48% of snaps last week, so it’s a decent amount of time to do his thing against Atlanta. He should lead the backfield in touches, with Sproles hopefully not having as big of a role as he did in Week 1. By the way, Sanders scored a TD, but had it called back because of penalty. He’s the best looking back out of the bunch, and should break out sooner or later. Even with a positive spin, it’s important to remember that this is a 3-headed backfield right now.

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald – Larry emerged as Kyler Murray’s #1 and the guy he trusted when it came time to make a comeback against the Lions last week. Not only did he have 13 targets last week, but his depth of target and route tree has increased; he was 5th in air yards last week, which is not something we have associated with Fitz. With the Cardinals running 4 WRs as their base set, Brandon Carr will have to choose between him and Christian Kirk on every play; this will be the norm when any team is a good nickel corner. It might seem like a tough matchup on paper, but the Ravens played the Dolphins last week. They lost a few pieces on defense, so Larry should still be able to make things happen with volume. He’s preferred in PPR, but that might change as we continue to see higher depth of target catches.

John Brown – It’s possible Janoris Jenkins shadows John Brown, but it’s not likely. Jenkins shadowed Amari Cooper last week on 64% of routes, and Amari had only one catch against him; all his work was done outside of Jenkins’ coverage. The Giants gave up the most fantasy points last week to perimeter WRs, as we saw what Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper were able to do. Brown catching 7 of 10 targets for 123 yards and a TD was very encouraging, and he’s the clear #1 for Josh Allen. Their skillsets mesh, and Brown can be a staple WR3 moving forward.

Dede Westbrook – Westbrook will be going up against whoever the Texans decide to replace recently released nickel corner Aaron Colvin with after being lit up on Monday night. The slot responsibility will likely be shared between veteran Phillip Gaines who was just signed on Tuesday and their 2nd round rookie Lonnie Johnson, so the matchup is there for Dede. Minshew did a great job last week, albeit against a vulnerable Chies secondary. He spread it around a bit, but he targeted Dede on 24% of his throws, including his TD. It’s hard to trust this offense at the moment until we see more, but know that Dede is still an option.

Donte Moncrief – Moncrief didn’t play well yesterday, but he had a tough matchup against Jason McCourty, who shadowed him on more than 50% of his routes, according to PFF. He led the Steelers in targets last week, and will now see a lot of Tre Flowers, who was the Achilles heel at corner for the Seahawks last season, and it continued in Week 1 against the Bengals. The Seahawks gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to the Bengals’ perimeter WRs last week, which continued from last year, when they gave up the 11th most throughout the season. Rookie Ugo Amadi was the primary nickel corner for the Seahawks last week, but he has a shoulder injury – Jamar Taylor was just re-signed because of it. Moncrief played 82% of snaps between these two positions (left WR and slot), so he has an opportunity for a big Week 2.

Mecole Hardman – Hardman played the 2nd most WR snaps behind Sammy Watkins last week with Tyreek Hill leaving the game early, and with Hill out, Hardman can assume a lot of what Andy Reid liked to do with Hill. It’s really about combining Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid with a speedster like Hardman. He played well in the preseason, and should be involved in the game plan. The Raiders gave up the most 40+ yard passing plays last season, so there is potential for Hardman to use that speed against this team. On Wednesday, Andy Reid said he doesn’t mind exploiting rookies talents, and he believes Hardman can step in and play. Hardman is a boom/bust option where you’re taking the advantage of the matchup. Gareon Conley left the game on a stretcher with a neck injury, but he’s apparently fine and could suit up; if he doesn’t play, upgrade Hardman.

Marquise Brown – The Cardinals secondary is missing a lot of pieces, including Patrick Peterson. Byron Murphy allowed half a fantasy point per route run against him – not ideal, and Brown lined up on Murphy’s side on 71% of his snaps. Brown can get behind this defense, but just remember that he only played 12 snaps yesterday. He’s completely boom/bust, and we have no idea how many snaps he’ll play this week, and how many routes he’ll run. If you’re shooting for the home run, throw Brown in your lineup.

Temper Expectations

Running Backs

Duke Johnson – Johnson split the backfield more than we thought he would on Monday night, so we should see a fair share of Carlos Hyde as well. Duke was the guy in their red zone and goal line snaps, so he is going to have chances to score. This Jaguars defense allowed Patrick Mahomes to do big things, and now they face Deshaun Watson, who also should do his thing at home. Jalen Ramsey vs DeAndre Hopkins will be a great matchup to see, but it might mean a few more dumpoffs for Duke Johnson. The Chiefs offense opens up a lot more room for their RBs than the Texans offense, but Damien Williams caught 6 balls for 39 yards himself. I’m not sure whether I’m selling myself or not on Duke this week; he’s not a sure-sit because of the matchup, but I’m definitely tempering expectations.

James Conner – Conner only played on 46% of snaps, and that’s by far the lowest total he’s played when healthy last season; as a matter of fact, he hardly played under 80% of snaps when healthy. Jaylen Samuels was involved, and he came on the field because of the game script the Steelers found themselves in. Prior to this week, Conner was the guy in any game script the Steelers found themselves in. The silver lining is that Conner was still very involved in the pass game, catching all four of his targets for 44 yards. Also, Seattle’s secondary made Andy Dalton look like Patrick Mahomes last week, so Big Ben should be able to put Conner in opportune positions to find the end zone at home.

Aaron Jones – He’s going to live in this section for a couple of weeks. This week, he goes up against the Vikings, who easily took care of both Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith last week. I wouldn’t expect Jones to get a ton of volume in this game, just like he didn’t last week against the Bears. I might try and look for another option this week if I can, but I’m not reaching too far down the barrel.

Wide Receivers

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs – Kirk Cousins threw 10 passes last week against the Falcons; that’s a game you would think can be a bit higher scoring with Cousins and Matt Ryan potentially going back and forth. Nope. Once the Vikings went up, they stayed up, and ran the ball all game long. Their new offensive coordinator is bringing that mentality to the Vikings, so Aaron Rodgers would obviously have to play better at home for that to change this week. If it does, it should bode well for the Diggs and Thielen, as the Packers gave up the 8th most fantasy points to perimeter WRs last season. By the way, Thielen ran out of the slot on only 27% of snaps in Week 1. It’s possible Kevin King and Jaire Alexander took a step forward this year, but the Bears offense wasn’t necessarily a proper litmus test. If the Vikings air it out, they will be tested by Diggs and Thielen. These two will likely be starts for me this week (assuming Diggs is off injury report) with Cousins throwing the ball at least 20 times in Green Bay, which might still not be enough; these two will likely have to depend on efficiency, and not volume.

Mike Evans – He doesn’t have a good history against James Bradberry. In their two matchups last year, Bradberry shadowed him on 86% and 75% of his routes; Evans caught 1 of 7 targets for 16 yards and 4 of 6 for 48 yards in Bradberry’s coverage, respectively. Not great, so I wouldn’t have high expectations, especially with how bad the Bucs offense looked in Week 1. Am I looking for another option? Only if I have a good one.

John Ross – Ross will likely see a good amount of Richard Sherman, but he moved around enough last week where he’ll avoid Sherman. Jason Verrett might play, but it’s possible Ahkello Witherspoon continues to see work on the other side of the field. He had a great game last week, but he was playing against the worst of Jameis Winston. I’m not dying to have Ross in my lineup, and there’s no guarantee he sees the same amount of share he saw last week with Andy Dalton throwing the ball 51 times.

Sterling Shepard – It seems as though Sterling Shepard is playing out of the slot at least until Golden Tate is back; he ran 71% of his routes from the slot last week. Last year, Buffalo was very stout against the slot, giving up the 11th least fantasy points for the season, and 6th least over the last 8 games; while they gave up a whopping 14 receptions to Jamison Crowder, he didn’t cross the 100-yard mark – that’s a win for the Bills. Keep in mind that Shepard is in the concussion protocol as this is being written, so it’s possible he doesn’t even play this week.

Danny Amendola – His 13 targets was very encouraging moving forward considering how much Matt Stafford relied on Golden Tate in the past, but he’ll see a lot of Desmond King in the slot against the Chargers. Tough matchup for him, so I’m looking for another option.

Amari Cooper – I’m not sitting Cooper, and I’m not too worried about Josh Norman, but Cooper doesn’t have a great history while being shadowed. Like I mentioned in the Gallup blurb, Cooper made only one catch while in Janoris Jenkins’ shadow coverage last week, and he might have Norman shadowing him on a lot more routes this week. Keep in mind that Norman isn’t a shutdown corner, but he did follow Jeffery on 94% of routes, according to PFF.

Will Fuller – Fuller might see a few more looks with DeAndre Hopkins shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, and we’ve seen speedy guys like Sammy Watkins give AJ Bouye trouble in the past. Bouye is no slouch though, so it’ll definitely be a tough matchup. Fuller can beat him deep, so he’s not a must-sit. The lack of targets in Week 1 for Fuller is worrisome, but it only takes one with Fuller. Play him for upside, but know he’s not safe.

Terry McLaurin – Pretty tough matchup for McLaurin this week. Last week, he lined up primarily on the side Byron Jones covers, so that’s not ideal for him. Might want to wait a week or two before he’s in your lineup because of his tough matchups.


Running Backs

Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale – Ronald Jones is probably the only guy in this backfield who has any sort of upside at this point. He ran well last week, but I don’t want to start him while he’s in a 3-man committee. He will continue to have a shot at trying to win the starting job, in which case we might see Barber’s snaps eventually dwindle down.

Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage – Even with the Patriots going up big and Kenyan Drake likely seeing a majority of playing time, I still don’t trust this team to get him the ball. The Dolphins were down the entire game last week, and gave Drake only three targets. I’m staying away from this team until they show some life.

David Montgomery – Montgomery didn’t play enough last week to warrant a start. It’s very possible he starts gaining some traction in snap percentage against Mike Davis, but until then, I don’t want to throw him in my lineup; I’m waiting patiently.

Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman – These two played a nearly equal split last week, and against the Bears defense, it’s hard to imagine one of them getting enough touches to have a decent day.

Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith – After what I saw last week, it’s very hard to play these two this week. The Eagles have a great run defense, these two split snaps almost equally last week against a tough Vikings defense, and Freeman only out-touched Smith 11-7. I’m looking for other options if possible, otherwise will hope for the best with Freeman.