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Running Backs

Derrick Henry – Are we really going to think about sitting Henry after his onslaught against the Jaguars last season? This is typically a tough matchup, but when LeSean McCoy can gain 81 yards on 10 carries in Week 1 and Carlos Hyde can total 90 on 20 last week, we can start gaining some confidence in Henry. Tennessee has a good defense, they’re going up against Gardner Minshew, so the game script should be well in favor for Henry to produce with volume.

Leonard Fournette – 86% and 97% of snaps over the last two games, respectively. Only Christian McCaffrey and Le’Veon Bell are averaging over 90% of snaps like Fournette is. I’m only putting him here in case you’re not aware of how much opportunity he is getting. The touches aren’t ridiculously high, the offense isn’t great, but his floor is high because of how much is on the field.

Aaron Jones – I guess this one’s a little obvious after last week. I wasn’t in on Jones last week, but no one saw that type of volume coming from Jones against that Vikings defense, especially when playing only a little more than 50% of snaps. The Packers are favored at home by 8 points against Denver, so there’s a possibility Jones has another high volume day. With the Packers defense playing very well over the first two weeks, a date with Joe Flacco doesn’t seem too daunting. Jones’ involvement in the pass game last week was also encouraging. After a 27-touch week, he’s in your lineup.

Damien Williams – He’s more of a PPR start at this point, but his chance of scoring is relatively high on this offense. He suffered a knee contusion, which is a fancy name for a bruise, so he should be fine for Week 3. The Ravens have a good defensive front, but Williams isn’t going to be bringing much value in the run game anyway. Williams has shown serious rapport with Mahomes in the passing game, and when there is a mismatch against a linebacker, it will be exploited. If LeSean McCoy misses time with his ankle injury, Williams gets an upgrade.

Mark Ingram – The Chiefs are favored by about a TD in this game, and yes, maybe the game script will limit Ingram’s workload. By the way, Ingram is the primary passing down back, but Lamar Jackson hasn’t been targeting his RBs. Still, the total for this game is set at 55 points, so it’s very hard to sit the primary + GL back on this red-hot offense with so many points to be had. If he is able to get volume, though, the Chiefs have been giving up almost 6 yards per carry.

Marlon Mack – Volume. 25 carries in Week 1, 20 in Week 2. Amazing production in Week 1, not so much in Week 2. Doesn’t matter. Follow the volume. The Colts are favored by 2 at home against Atlanta, so Vegas doesn’t think Atlanta will go up in this game, and if that happens, it’ll allow Mack to maintain the volume he’s been getting.

Sony Michel – You thought last week was bad? This week, the Patriots are favored by 22.5 points at home against the Jets. 22.5 is not a typo. This is the type of potential game script you want to start Michel in. No word on whether CJ Mosley and Quinnen Williams will be back this week, but the volume should be there for Michel regardless.

Chris Carson – Chris Carson had 18 touches last week, was looking to have a big day, but he lost two fumbles in that game, his third lost fumble over the first two games, and he was basically benched for Rashaad Penny until they needed him for a late 4th and short to win the game. We don’t know what the backfield will look like this week, but I have a feeling Carson will be back in his role until he fumbles again. Even if Penny grabs more of the share, Carson will be the primary ball carrier, pass catcher, and goal line back on a run heavy offense. This week against the Saints, the Seahawks go up against a less-potent offense than we’ve been used to with Drew Brees out. Also, the Saints have allowed 5.85 yards per carry over the first two weeks, so the matchup is there for him.

Austin Ekeler – 19 touches, 23 touches over the first two weeks, respectively? 6 catches in each game, averaging 13.6 yards per reception? 4 TDs total through 2 games? Start him as a RB1 against Houston.

Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert – While Sony Michel couldn’t get anything going against the Steelers, Rex Burkhead, James White, Chris Carson, and Rashaad Penny was able to. With Kyle Shanahan’s system coming to town, along with how Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert have performed with their touches over the last year in it, it’s hard to not start both of these guys as RB2s. Breida will be the primary back with Mostert trailing him closely in touches. Hopefully one of them will get the goal line looks without bringing in Jeff Wilson as a TD vulture.

David Montgomery – Week 2 was a very encouraging week for David Montgomery. He had 19 touches in this game, out-touching Mike Davis 19-3, while Tarik Cohen had 6 touches. He also got all three goal line opportunities, finally converting on the third. The only concern is his snaps; would’ve loved for his snaps to be up a bit. This past week, he was out there for 45% of snaps compared to the 35% in Week 1, so at least there is some improvement. The Redskins have allowed backs to efficient against them this season, so Montgomery has a chance to turn that volume into better production in Week 3.

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk – With Kingsbury’s offense putting out 4 WRs as their base formation, both Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald have been able to run primarily out of the slot; Kirk over 80% and Larry over 90%. Fitz is averaging 12 targets and 108.5 yards over the first two games, while Kirk needed that 2nd game to turn his volume into 114 yards.

Fitzgerald is hard to sit right now; not only is he being targeted, but he’s being targeted further down the field than we’ve been used to in the twilight of his career. He’s 6th in air yards through two weeks, so his targets are way more valuable than they’ve been over the past few years.

The other encouraging thing about this passing offense is that it’s first in pass attempts so far, but it’s worth noting that had an OT period in Week 1. In Week 2, Baltimore dominated time of possession 37 minutes to 22, but Arizona still got 57 offensive plays off… that’s encouraging for fantasy numbers.

The matchup against 4 WR sets, especially with the Cardinals targeting the slot will always be a mismatch for opposing defenses. Carolina has an undrafted free agent Javien Elliott playing inside right now, and they’re going to have to get creative in guarding both of these guys. Chris Godwin had a great game against the Panthers out of the slot in Week 2.

Marquise Brown – The total for the Ravens/Chiefs game is at 54.5 as of Wednesday, so you want as many pieces from this game in your lineup as possible. Brown’s snaps went way up in Week 2, and he’s obviously Lamar Jackson’s go-to WR. There’s too much upside against this Chiefs secondary in a potential shootout to keep Brown on your bench. The Chiefs have actually done okay against outside WRs so far, but the slot is where they’ve been giving up points; Brown has ran 41% of his routes from the slot, so he’ll get his opportunity to expose that vulnerability. The Chiefs have also given up 4 TDs to 4 different WRs over the first two weeks, so start Brown.

Allen Robinson – Robinson was shadowed on a majority of his routes by Chris Harris last week, so when you combine that with Mitch Trubisky’s inadequacies, you kind of have to let that game go. This week, he goes up against a Redskins defense that has allowed the 4th most fantasy points to both perimeter and slot WRs, and Robinson plays all over. Josh Norman might shadow, but it doesn’t matter; he’s been giving up more than half a fantasy point per route run against him so far this season.

Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders was able to get it done for a second straight week in a tough matchup against Chicago at home last week, grabbing 11 of 13 targets for 98 yards and a TD. This week, he’ll see a lot of Jaire Alexander, who’s been holding the left side of the perimeter down pretty well. Sanders and Joe Flacco have a rapport, though (25% target share), and it’s hard to sit Sanders while he’s on a roll. As far as fantasy points, the Packers are middle of the pack on the perimeter, so it’s not a matchup that we need to necessarily stay away from.

Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones – Golladay is the play since he’s actually getting volume, while Marvin Jones is a bit desperate but viable. Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas have not been good so far this year, both giving up more than half a fantasy point per route run against them, while the Eagles defense as a whole are giving up the most fantasy points to perimeter WRs. Terry McLaurin, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley all had more than 100 yards and at least one TD against them. Playing your WRs against the Eagles is a theme once again in 2019.

Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman – Watkins is obvious; he had 13 targets from Patrick Mahomes last week. Outside of the obvious start, there’s way too much upside in this game against the Ravens, and if you want a piece of this potential shootout, put either of these other two guys in your lineup. This game has a 54.5 over/under, and we saw Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk both put up 100 yards out of the slot against this Ravens defense last week. That’s good news for Hardman, who lined up in the slot on a majority of his routes in Week 2. Robinson seemed like the go-to early for Mahomes, but if Hardman’s 2nd long TD stood, we might not have been able to discern much of a difference between the two. Also, this game is in Kansas City.

Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman – I’m sure you were already starting him, but I just want to point out that he only played 20 snaps last week, and we should see a spike there. He was targeted on about half of those snaps, so he’ll likely see another large target share for Tom Brady. The Jets have a real problem at corner; their highest-paid corner Trumaine Johnson is being benched because of the coaches questioning his passion for the game, resulting in bad play on the field. Against Nate Hairston and Darryl Roberts on the outside, both Gordon and Brown can take advantage. Gordon was shadowed by Xavien Howard last week, so Brady hardly went his way; there’s no situation like that this week. As far as Edelman, the Jets have also allowed the 9th most fantasy points to slot WRs so far.

Michael Thomas – Even without Drew Brees, you’re starting Michael Thomas. The game plan will still be to give Thomas a high target share, and because of volume and talent, he’s in your lineup. It’s a great matchup top; Tre Flowers and Shaq Griffin have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to perimeter WRs. He lines up on Flowers’ side the on a majority of his side, and that’s the corner you want matched up on him out of the two.

Juju Smith-Schuster – Even with Ben out, Juju is the best player on that offense, and he’ll get his share of targets. With Mason Rudolph in the game last week, he had the majority of target share. Rudolph likes to throw it down field, so Juju’s game breaking ability will still be in play. The good news is that Juju has played a majority of his snaps in the slot, and the Achilles heel of the 49ers pass defense is against nickel corner K’Waun Williams; he’s given up almost half a fantasy point per route run against him, and we saw that slot WR Tyler Boyd was able to rack up 10 receptions on 10 targets last week.

Tyler Lockett – The Saints have given up the 6th most fantasy points to the slot so far this season, which is where Lockett has ran a majority of his routes from. He finally got serious volume last week, and that can continue because of the matchup this week.

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Evans might be shadowed by Janoris Jenkins this week, but it shouldn’t be a real issue. The Giants have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to perimeter WRs, on the left and right side of the field; that accounts for 79% of where Evans lines up. Evans’ air yards and targets are close enough to Chris Godwin where we can’t forget about him; he’s a buy low because the production hasn’t matched his usage. As far as Godwin goes, the Giants are a bit more stout against the slot, but I wouldn’t go so far to say they are actually stout. Either way, Godwin has lined up on the outside on almost 50% of his snaps, so he’ll get his production either way.

Desperate Starts

Running Backs

Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman – Lindsay and Freeman are pretty much splitting their work 50/50, and even in a tough matchup against the Bears, they were pretty efficient. What’s keeping them afloat with their 10-13 carries per game is their involvement in the pass game. Lindsay caught 4 of 6 targets in Week 1 and and 4 of 7 in Week 2. Freeman wasn’t involved a ton in Week 1, but was all of a sudden targeted 7 times, catching 5 of them for 48 yards. Joe Flacco has always loved to target RBs, and he’s continuing that trend in Denver. The matchups haven’t seemed to matter for Royce Freeman, who has been more efficient than Lindsay, averaging 5.24 yards per carry over his first two games. Let’s hope the receiving work continues for these two. They are preferred starts in PPR leagues. Freeman is a sneaky buy low.

Carlos Hyde – Hyde had 20 carries for 90 yards last week, and has leap-frogged Duke Johnson as the primary RB in Houston’s backfield. Duke got only 6 carries, and was targeted only once. Hyde also out-snapped Duke 60.3% to 39.7%. He had two scoreless weeks, but has been relatively efficient, totaling 83 rushing yards on 10 carries in Week 1. He’ll be TD dependent since he’s not involved in the pass game, but Houston is a good offense to get 20 carries for. The Chargers aren’t a defense to be afraid of, so Hyde can perform with volume. Goal line usage would be a plus, since he’ll be somewhat TD dependent; he’s not being involved in the pass game.

Frank Gore – With Devin Singletary potentially out with a hamstring/calf strain (whatever the Bills are calling it, there were conflicting reports), Gore can see volume like he did in Week 2. Cincinnati gave up a shit ton of rushing yards to the 49ers last week, and they are 1 yard short of Miami in rushing yards allowed so far. They are giving up 5.4 yards per carry, which is actually worse than Miami. This is a pure volume play, and Gore has a chance to plunge in with a goal line TD.

Devonta Freeman – Freeman has played terribly so far to start the season, ranking extremely low in yards after contact per attempt, while Ito Smith has actually shown some signs of life in Atlanta’s backfield. This is a 50/50 snap split currently, but this matchup has actually been a good one so far for RBs, currently giving up 5.5 yards per carry. Freeman’s still involved in the pass game enough to the point where he can turn 15 touches into a low-end RB2 return. Going up against the Vikings in Minnesota and Philly weren’t good matchups, so Freeman has a chance of giving you his first decent game of 2019. By the way, we might need to see Ito Smith more, as he’s been more efficient in the run game against the two tough opponents on his limited touches… we just can’t depend on his 6-7 opportunities per game. Darius Leonard is currently in the concussion protocol, so if he’s out, Freeman gets an upgrade.

Peyton Barber – Even with Ronald Jones out-playing Barber in Week 1, he hardly got a chance in Week 2. Instead, Barber got a whopping 23 carries and totaled 82 yards with a TD. That type of volume seems like Bruce Arians wants to ride him to keep Jameis Winston’s attempts as low as possible. Barber has a decent matchup against the Giants this week, so if you’re desperate at RB, Barber has a shot to get volume once again.

Wide Receivers

Nelson Agholor – With both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson out this week, Agholor should be able to take advantage with more volume once again. In their absence, he caught 8 of 11 targets for 107 yards with a TD. The only reason why he’s not a sure-fire start is because I wouldn’t take out one of your normal starters to put Agholor in. When a backup RB steps into an injured RB’s shoes, the touches are more guaranteed. Mack Hollins and JJ Arcega-Whiteside will be part of the game plan and has practiced with the starters all week, so the targets can be a bit spread out. The good news is that the Lions have given up the 13th most fantasy points to slot WRs, so the matchup is good; Agholor was in the slot on 62 snaps last week.

Curtis Samuel – Samuel will be seeing a lot of rookie Byron Murphy on the right side of the field, which is where Arizona has given up some fantasy points so far this season. With Samuel also lining up in the slot about 30% of the time as well, where the Cardinals are giving up the 2nd most fantasy points so far this season, he’ll have an advantage most of the day. Samuel played extremely well last week against the Bucs, and if Cam Newton hit him more when he was open, his day would’ve been even bigger than it was. Kyle Allen might actually be an upgrade to Cam Newton if we’re talking accuracy.

Devin Smith and Randall Cobb – With Xavier Howard most likely following Amari Cooper, both Smith and Cobb will run free against perimeter corner Eric Rowe and nickel Jamal Wiltz, respectively. Each of these corners have given up more than 1 fantasy point per route run against them. Cobb is probably the better volume play given that the Dolphins have already given up the 3rd most fantasy points to slot WRs so far, but Smith can make it happen for you on a long play as well. We’re usually not on backup WRs on any team because of injury, let alone the Cowboys in the past, but that tells you how much we like this new system Kellen Moore’s running.

Sterling Shepard – Shepard should be out of the concussion protocol, and he has a good matchup in the slot against MJ Stewart. He’s been giving up the most fantasy points per route run against him of the Bucs’ three corners. Now, this is Daniel Jones’ first professional start, so temper expectations, but he looked sharp enough in the preseason where Shepard can do his thing as their #1 WR. It’s possible Cody Latimer doesn’t make it out of the concussion protocol, and Benny Fowler tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday. Targets should funnel Shepard’s way.

Damiere Byrd – The Cardinals run so many plays, and Byrd has been the third WR in the passing game through two weeks. He had 7 targets in each game, and he’s a deeper league play; He’ll see a lot of Donte Jackson, who has allowed more than half a fantasy point per route run against him so far this year. Deep league play.

Marquez Valdez-Scantling – Now that the tough matchups are out of the way, MVS can potentially do some damage. Chris Harris will be locked onto Davante Adams, and MVS will be matched up with Isaac Yiadom on the other side. QBs have been picking over him the past two weeks, targeting him on 28% of throws, and he’s been giving up half a fantasy point on each route run against him. MVS is just a sneaky play in deep leagues, or if you’re desperate for a high-upside flex.

DK Metcalf – Going up against Marshon Lattimore used to be something we stayed away from; not this year. Lattimore has given up 0.64 fantasy points per route run against him, and the Saints have given up the most fantasy points to WRs lining up on Lattimore’s side; that happens to be where Metcalf lines up 70% of the time. He’s still a rookie, but Russell Wilson is still his QB, and he’s performed over the past two weeks.

Temper Expectations

Running Backs

Kerryon Johnson – CJ Anderson got cut, and while his touches were reduced between Weeks 1 and 2, Kerryon actually ended up playing 54% of snaps in Week 2 from 57% in Week 1. Ty Johnson’s usage increased, as he played 20% of snaps from 9%. The Lions did pick up Paul Perkins, and while we can assume he won’t be part of the rotation, we can be sadly mistaken given this coaching staff’s tendencies. We want Kerryon to be freed into the 20-touch + goal line role, maybe some more involvement in the passing game as well, but we will have to hold our breath until we see it. The matchup against the Eagles isn’t great, but we should see at least 15 touches out of Kerryon, so start him as a low-end RB2.

Joe Mixon – It has been a rocky start for Mixon, but with him being questionable coming into Week 2 and having to test his ankle pregame, we knew that he wasn’t going to be 100%; we also knew that Gio Bernard would have a fair share of snaps because of it. If Mixon is practicing in full for Week 3, he’ll most likely be in my lineup as a RB2. The offensive line hasn’t looked great in the run game, so it’s tough to trust him right now, but the touches should be there if he’s healthy. The matchup isn’t great, so we would be depending on volume and that offensive line stepping up.

Josh Jacobs – Jacobs is nursing a tweaked groin, so we have to monitor Oakland’s practice reports this week. If he plays, going into Minnesota and performing on the ground isn’t easy. Minnesota has a good shot at going up early, so we can see Jacobs’ volume go down like we did from Week 1 to Week 2. The Raiders will want to start the game by running the ball, but they will need to stop the Vikings ground game if they want to get their own to thrive throughout the game… so far so good for the Raiders run defense, but the outside zone operated by Dalvin Cook is a different beast. Vegas has the Vikings as 8 point favorites, which usually isn’t correlated with a ton of volume for opposing RBs.

Alvin Kamara – Kamara takes a significant hit with Drew Brees out, as this Saints offense being a well-oiled machine that stays on schedule is one of the reasons Kamara is able to do what he does. Catching him in stride and ball placement are very underrated aspects of Kamara’s run after the catch, which gives him a chance to consistently show his special ability in the open field. He went from 20 touches in Week 1 to 14 touches in Week 2, and even if he sees 15 touches in Week 3, the quality of his touches won’t be as great. He’s probably now a borderline RB1, so he’s still starting… but temper your expectations on his ceiling.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Ridley – The Colts were great against perimeter WRs last season, and it has continued into this season, although they haven’t really been tested. Rock Ya-Sin will likely be on Ridley most of the time, and I’m only assuming that because the Colts don’t want Julio Jones to get a hold of the rookie. Both Pierre Dasir and Ya-Sin have moved around the outside.

John Brown – Cincinnati has been relatively good on the perimeter, where Brown typically runs his routes. Either way, Brown should be in most lineups because of the volume he’s getting. Catching 7 of 10 targets, then 7 of 8 targets for an average of almost 100 yards over the first two weeks means he’s Josh Allen’s guy, and they have a clear rapport. If he underperforms, I wouldn’t be surprised, considering Tyler Lockett was limited to only 2 targets in Week 1 because of double teams. I wouldn’t let that be too much of a deterrent to keep Brown out of your lineup. If he lines up against Dre Kirkpatrick on the right side, that’s a matchup where Brown has the advantage.

John Ross – Tough matchup for him in Buffalo. Tre’Davious White hasn’t shadowed yet, and he probably won’t this week either. However, Ross does run most of his routes on White’s side. Ross might be able to catch Levi Wallace on the other side, as that’s where Buffalo has been a bit vulnerable so far. Ross had 3 catches before catching his 4th on the Bengals’ last drive in garbage time for a 66-yard TD. If I have another option with a good matchup, I mean lean that way this week.

Stefan Diggs and Adam Thielen – These two will be in this section until their volume goes up. We just have to forget about the volume these two had last year under OC John DeFilippo. Diggs has 3 catches on 9 targets, and Thielen has 8 catches on 11 targets. The good news is that they face the Raiders this week in Minnesota, who were exploited in the 2nd quarter of last week’s game to Patrick Mahomes. It’s not a secondary to be worried about, so if the volume picks up a little bit, these two can have a good game. Just be aware that if the Raiders let Dalvin Cook do his thing, they can get up early, while the defense keeps Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs in check; if that’s the game script, we can see another low volume game.

Terry McLaurin – McLaurin is the true #1 WR for the Redskins right now, and the rapport between him and Keenum is there. Tough matchup this week against the Bears; the pressure against Keenum is the worry. If he’s protected, McLaurin will be able to get open against either Prince Amukamara or Kyle Fuller. The only issue is whether Keenum will be protected throughout this game. The good news is that Washington has only allowed 2 sacks so far, and their adjusted sack protection sack rate is also 3rd best in the league behind the 49ers and Cowboys. That being said, they went up against Dallas and Philly, whose adjusted sack rate is at the bottom of the league, according to Football Outsiders. Temper expectations on McLaurin this week.


Running Backs

Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard – The split is too close for comfort. There’s nothing about this matchup that should scare you, but this is a 3-man backfield with Sproles actually seeing more snaps than Jordan Howard. Once the touches go into the 15+ range or the snaps become less evenly distributed, that’s when we should start thinking about having these guys in your lineup.

Adrian Peterson – Peterson only had 10 carries last week for 25 yards, Steven Sims even stole a few carries away. Chris Thompson is the only RB in the backfield I’m willing to start, and only in PPR, but I don’t want to. Remember, the Bears are good.

Wide Receivers

Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder – Luke Falk targeted Robby a ton after he came into the game against the Browns on Monday night, but he’ll be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore. That’s not something I want to depend on; Gilmore is one of the most feared shadow corners in the league. Jonathan Jones has also balled out against slot WRs, so I’m sitting Crowder as well, even in PPR.

Tyrell Williams – Williams is usually a WR3 start as the Raiders #1 WR, but he’ll be shadowed by Xavier Rhodes. He’s not used to shadow treatment, but he’ll get it on Sunday. Rhodes might struggle at times with elite WR talent, but Williams isn’t that. I’ll avoid if I can.

Corey Davis – I am assuming you were going to sit him anyway, or cut him, but he’ll see a lot of Jalen Ramsey. Nope.