Welcome to the Fantasy Football Rundown: a weekly article written by yours truly in which I give at least one sentence on every single fantasy relevant player for Week 2. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, you name it, I talk about it here. Be warned, this is a beast of a piece. If you’re looking for a specific player, I recommend using your web browser’s search function to head straight to said player. Otherwise, enjoy reading!
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears
QB Joe Burrow — Burrow held up well against a Minnesota Vikings’ defensive front that generated the league’s fourth-most QB pressures against them (5). This week’s opponent, the Chicago Bears, managed to produce just one pressure under Sunday’s primetime lights which bodes well for Burrow’s Week 2 outlook. He’s a high-end QB2 with back-end QB1 upside.
WR Ja’Marr Chase — Turns out all Chase needed to cure his mental hiccups was live action. The rookie led the team in targets (7), catches (5), receiving yards (101), and tied Tee Higgins with one receiving touchdown apiece. Chase is a mid-tier WR2 this week.
WR Tee Higgins — Higgins’ lacking athletic profile but sharp route running abilities had him destined for a second-fiddle job and that time is nigh. He makes for a fine flex play on a weekly basis now.
WR Tyler Boyd — LA Rams’ slot receiver Cooper Kupp eviscerated the Bears’ nickel coverage, catching 7-of-10 targets for 108 yards and one touchdown. Slot man Boyd remains a steady flex option, especially in full-point PPR leagues.
RB Joe Mixon — With Burrow less than 100%, a monster workload was expected for Mixon, and head coach Zac Taylor delivered. Mixon accounted for 150 of the teams’ 410 yards from scrimmage as well as 1 of their 3 touchdowns. The stud back also went 4-for-4 in the receiving department, solidifying his elite bellcow status. He’ll be in play as a top-5 RB this week.
QB Andy Dalton & Justin Fields — The fact that Fields totaled more fantasy points than Dalton did, despite playing 5 snaps to Dalton’s 64, tells you all you need to know about Matt Nagy’s mismanagement of this franchise. Unless Fields is named the starter, neither passer is a viable fantasy asset this week.
WR Allen Robinson — Robinson’s enormous target share keeps him in play as a high-end WR2 this week but his Week 1 stat line of 6-for-11 targets and 35 yards was downright disappointing. Cincy’s defense is nowhere near as stout as the Rams’. Hopefully a similar workload bears more fruit this week.
WR Darnell Mooney — Mooney is so tough to trust with Dalton at the helm. This is the match-up to flex him but a complete goose egg is well within his range of outcomes. He’s not a recommended start.
TE Cole Kmet — Kmet out-snapped TE Jimmy Graham (51-to-14) and out-targeted him (7-to-2). He’s the TE to have rostered in CHI but again, with Dalton under center, Kmet is a big risk.
RB David Montgomery — Montgomery may be the second coming of Frank Gore—slower than you’d hope for but a very complete skill set. It was nice to see Montgomery finish firmly in the RB1 ranks despite a high snap share for No. 2/above average receiving back Damien Williams, who likely saw an uptick in usage due to LAR jumping out to an early lead. Montgomery should be on the Top 12 RB radar again this week in a much softer defensive match-up. Williams’ standalone value is limited to very deep full-point PPR formats.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns
QB Tyrod Taylor — Taylor and Co. capitalized on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ dysfunction last week en route to a surprise victory over their division rival. Although Ty-God might be able to keep up his helpful rushing production (4 carries for 40 yards), his 0.4% Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE) tells us that he really only got what was given to him by the lacking Jags’ defensive back crew. He’s a shaky 2QB/Superflex option in a tough match-up.
WR Brandin Cooks & Nico Collins — Cooks tossed a cow in front of rookie Collins’ hype train by hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 132 yards. Collins meanwhile toiled away to the tune of one catch on three targets for just seven yards. The Browns’ CBs won’t fold as easily as the Jaguars’ but Cooks’ volume keeps him as a Top 30 option. Collins is just a bench stash.
WR Danny Amendola — Amendola is back on the full-point PPR deep league radar after securing 5-of-5 targets for 34 yards and a score.
RB Mark Ingram — Ingram came out of nowhere to dominate backfield work. When the dust had settled, Ingram sloth-crawled his way to 85 yards and 1 touchdown on a whopping 26 carries (3.3 yards per carry—yeesh), while failing to secure his 1 target. He’s a volume-based flex play while neither Phillip Lindsay, nor David Johnson belong in fantasy lineups.
QB Baker Mayfield — Mayfield looked great on Sunday, especially when Kevin Stefanski dialed up play-action passes for him. His 8-for-8, 150-passing yard play-action stat line is as good as it gets. Touchdowns evaded him last week but Mayfield remains a high-end QB2 in a phenomenal match-up against one of the league’s worst defenses.
WR Jarvis Landry — Landry’s up there with death and taxes. Ever reliable, the veteran receiver caught 5-of-5 passes for 71 yards while adding 2 carries for 13 yards and a touchdown as the cherry on top. He’s a high-floor WR2 this week.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Anthony Schwartz, & Donovan Peoples-Jones — Beckham didn’t play last week, which ultimately might’ve been a good thing. It’s best to have a player who’s returning from injury experience live hitting in practice, not during a game. We just don’t know how the individual will react to it for the first time, and said player doesn’t know either. Look for Beckham to put on pads this week before trusting him in your fantasy lineup on Sunday. DPJ, the People’s Champion, out-snapped the rookie Schwartz 47-to-31 but was out-targeted 5-to-1. The downfield role, typically filled by Beckham, appears to be a timeshare. Both Schwartz and DPJ are bench stashes at this time.
Highest aDOT among Week 1 WR (min. 5 tgt):
Anthony Schwartz – 24.8 😳
Tyler Lockett – 21.8
Henry Ruggs – 20.0 👀
Antonio Brown – 19.7
Brandin Cooks – 19.6
Bryan Edwards – 19.0
Marquez V-S – 18.5
Emmanuel Sanders – 18.4
Ja'Marr Chase – 17.0
DJ Chark – 16.3#FantasyFootball #NFL pic.twitter.com/5VUzMFqcTO
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) September 16, 2021
TE Austin Hooper, David Njoku, & Harrison Bryant — A three-way tight end committee is entirely untenable for redraft leagues. Njoku and Bryant are holds in dynasty.
RB Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt — Chubb and Hunt picked up right where they left off last season, parlaying their exceptional 1-2 punch usage into top-15 RB value. Chubb even saw a helpful uptick in routes run. Against the Texans, Chubb should compete for another top-5 finish while Hunt factors in as a high-end RB2/back-end RB1.
Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Rams
QB Matthew Stafford & WR Cooper Kupp — The Stafford/McVay era got off to a hot start as the Rams trounced the formerly feared Bears’ D. Russell Wilson and Co. had little issue dicing up the Colts’ Cover 2 scheme with stud slot receiver Tyler Lockett delivering a banger of a performance, reeling in 4-of-5 targets for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rams’ slot star Cooper Kupp was the clear cut favorite of LA’s new signal caller, posting team highs in targets (10), catches (7), receiving yards (108), and T-receiving scores (1). Kupp is a WR1 against the Colts this week. Stafford should again finish near the QB10 spot.
WR Robert Woods — Woods salvaged his underwhelming yardage output with a short area touchdown. Expect him to retain his mid-tier WR2 ways at worst this week.
TE Tyler Higbee — Higbee’s breakout season is here. Last week’s 5-of-6 targets, 68-yard line didn’t overwhelm but he’s got a great shot at making some noise this week. Seattle tight ends combined for 5 targets, 5 catches, 57 yards, and a touchdown against Colts coverage last week. Higbee saw zero target/snap competition from the rest of the Rams’ tight end room. He’s a mid-to-high TE1.
WR DeSean Jackson & Van Jefferson Jr. — Jefferson and D-Jax are locked in a rotation for the downfield receiver role. The former capitalized on it and garnered waiver wire consideration. Should the elder Jackson miss time, Jefferson would rocket to the streaming flex realm.
RB Darrell Henderson Jr. & Sony Michel — While we can expect Michel’s role to increase as the season goes on, Henderson’s Week 1 usage and snap share were extremely promising. The latter is a locked-in RB2 for the time being. Michel is just a speculative stash.
QB Carson Wentz — Wentz didn’t embarrass himself in Week 1 but he’s got stiff competition against the Rams’ fearsome defense in Week 2. He’s only a consideration in 2QB/Superflex leagues.
WR Michael Pittman, Zach Pascal, & Parris Campbell — Pittman is still the best bet to be relevant but until one of these guys separates, they should only be fired up in DFS.
TE Mo Alie-Cox & Jack Doyle — Avoid true tight end committees outside of bestball, in which case MAC should be on your radar.
RB Jonathan Taylor & Nyheim Hines — Hines got paid, Taylor is now a real deal dual threat, and the Indy offense as a whole concretely runs through this backfield. Marlon Mack and his repaired Achilles tendon are no longer a factor. The Rams welcome opponents to use their running backs against them, in hopes of coaxing them into inefficient play calling. That bodes very well for both JT and Hines. Hines is a high-floor RB2 who can hit top-15 RB numbers in full-point PPR formats while JT is a mid-range RB1.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
QB Josh Allen — Head coach Brian Daboll took responsibility for getting a little too cute with the play-calling after their Week 1 upset loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers but he shouldn’t kick himself too hard. BUF stayed within 1% of their FH/ED passing rate from last year, with a mark of 63%. Eliminating the trick plays and getting back to their high-octane pass-first offense should get things back on track this week. He’s a top-5 fantasy QB.
WR Stefon Diggs — Diggs caught 9-of-14 targets for 69 yards in what would be considered a down week for the elite WR. He’s got another tough match-up with the Dolphins’ vaunted secondary but he’s a top-5 WR entering the week regardless.
WR Cole Beasley — While some may point to the defensive matchup as enhancing Beasley’s Week 1 usage, his 13 targets can’t simply be ignored. The veteran slot receiver, whose rostership was likely depressed because of his outspoken anti-COVID-19 vaccine sentiments, finished just a hair behind Bills’ WR1 Diggs with 8 catches for 60 yards. Patriots’ slot receiver Jakobi Meyers produced an efficient, if unsexy, stat line of 44 yards, catching 6-of-9 targets against the MIA nickel unit last week. Just two players separate the average targeted air yards of Beasley (5.7) and Meyers (6.4) from Week 1 (per Next Gen Stats). Beasley is a better player, with a better quarterback, in a better offense. Expect him to produce an even more efficient line than Meyers did last week.
WR Emmanuel Sanders & Gabriel Davis — It appears as though Sanders did in fact beat out Davis for No. 3 WR duties, but both players were given a high enough snap share to remain fantasy relevant on a weekly basis. Sanders played on 79 of the team’s 85 total snaps, catching 4-of-8 targets for 52 yards. Davis logged 43 of the team’s 85 snaps, securing 2-of-5 targets for 40 yards and a touchdown. Sanders deserves WR3/flex consideration in .5PPR leagues. Davis can be started as a WR4/multi-flex option.
Update 9/15/21: Davis registered a DNP on Wednesday (ankle). Could be a day of rest but it’s a situation to monitor.
TE Dawson Knox — Knox did exactly what was asked of him but there just isn’t a lot of work to be had. BUF utilized 10 personnel (four wide receivers) on a whopping 29% of snaps last week, far and away the league’s highest rate. While they may not hit that mark every week, it’s a frequent personnel grouping for them. Knox is not on the TE1 radar.
RB Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, & Matt Breida — Singletary had a chance to put distance between himself and the surprisingly inactive Moss on Sunday but he managed to fumble twice (both were recovered). Breida fantastically failed to do anything with his four carries. Expect Moss back this week but he’s really only a low-end flex candidate, as is Singletary.
QB Tua Tagovailoa — Tua’s stuck in the QB2 realm in another tough match-up with a porous offensive line. The return of Will Fuller (suspension) should be a big boost to his raw box score production though.
WR Will Fuller — The Prodigal Son returns. Prior to 2020, Fuller operated purely as a field stretcher, never seeing fewer than 14.0 average targeted air yards (TAY) in a given season. Last year, assuming the X-receiver role in Houston after the departure of DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller’s TAY dropped to 12.5, yet his yards per game soared to a career-high of 79.9—8 yards higher than his next closest mark. Working with a new quarterback this year, Fuller is unlikely to stick to the top-5 .5PPR WR pace that he was on with Deshaun Watson, but he really can’t be ranked lower than a top-24 option at the position entering Week 2.
Update 9/17/21: Will Fuller will not play this week due to a personal issue. We do not know when he will return.
WR DeVante Parker & Jaylen Waddle, & TE Mike Gesicki — Parker played well in Week 1 but he’s likely to operate as Fuller’s sidekick. He’s just a hold for Week 2. Waddle ended all debate as to whom would operate as the team’s primary slot receiver—Waddle or TE Mike Gesicki. The answer is resoundingly ‘Waddle’. He’s a flex option this week. Gesicki is merely a TE2 at this point.
RB Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, & Malcolm Brown — Gaskin is the lead back, but not by much. His 53.7% snap share did lead the bunch but Ahmed (29.6%) and Brown (20.4%) weren’t far behind. If Steelers’ bellcow back, Najee Harris, couldn’t get the job done against Buffalo’s front playing 100% of his team’s snaps, Gaskin is a surefire flop. If you have to start one of these guys, Gaskin is the pick, but only in very deep multi-flex full-point PPR leagues.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
New England Patriots
QB Mac Jones — Jones played well in Week 1, posting a 4.9% CPAE, 11th best in the league, against a great Dolphins pass defense. Jones should be on the high-end QB2 streaming radar against a Jets defense that just got hosed for a bevy of long balls by the Carolina Panthers.
WR Nelson Agholor & Jakobi Meyers — Agholor is the best Pats’ WR bet to return flex value in most leagues this week. Operating as the team’s designated deep threat (12.9 TAY), Agholor’s runway is clear after the Jets placed starting safety Lamarcus Joyner on Injured Reserve (torn triceps) on Monday. Meyers should stay full-point PPR, multi-flex relevant this week. His 6.4 TAY were definitively safety blanket-esque and his 35 slot snaps towered over the rest of the team.
TE Jonnu Smith & Hunter Henry — Smith and Henry are really only up for TE-premium league usage right now. Smith played 55 of the team’s 75 Week 1 snaps, and Henry was right behind him with 54. Smith took his lone carry for six yards and both guys secured each target thrown to them (Smith: 5-for-5 and 42 yards, Henry: 3-for-3 and 31 yards). In normal leagues, both should be rostered/benched for now.
RB Damien Harris & Rhamondre Stevenson — Harris was dominating lead back snaps and touches (23 carries for 100 yards/2 catches on 3 targets for 17 yards) in the lead back role before fumbling the game away in scoring position. Fortunately for him, Stevenson registered a lost fumble as well, and perhaps more importantly, Belichick’s reputation as an aggressive punisher is somewhat unfounded. He will quietly offer support to his players in situations like these so don’t abandon ship with Harris. In fact, he might be a priority trade target right now. Stevenson is just a bench stash.
RB James White — White continued his steady pass catching ways and finished the week tied for the team lead in receptions (6) and recorded the second-most receiving yards. He’s a fine flex in full-point PPR leagues.
New York Jets
QB Zach Wilson — Wilson finished as the QB16 last week but notably chose not to activate his rushing floor. While the connection with Davis should remain reliably in place, Belichick does a great job of confusing rookie signal callers. Wilson is just a mid-range QB2 this week.
WR Corey Davis — The Jets finished with the third highest rate (40%) of 12 personnel usage last week (one RB, two TEs, two WRs), which massively reduces target competition for No. 1 WR Davis. The veteran free agent signee stormed his was to a beautiful 5-of-7 for 97 yards and 2 touchdown stat line, en route to the fifth-highest .5PPR total at the position (24.2). He’s a top-15 WR option right now and those who have him rostered should be licking their chops with the Stephon Gilmore-less Patriots (IR) matchup on deck.
WR Elijah Moore — Moore is a screaming buy-low right now, having left over 70 yards on the field via a long drop and a 22-yard penalty. He’s a multi-flex, full-point PPR starting option against New England.
WR Braxton Berrios & Jamison Crowder — Berrios was the biggest beneficiary of Crowder’s absence last week (COVID-19/Reserve List), hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 51 yards. With Crowder active this week, neither should be recommended plays.
TE Tyler Kroft, Ryan Griffin, & Trevon Wesco — Avoid this group.
RB Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, & Michael Carter — The coaching staff bafflingly gave Coleman the start and the washed up back predictably flopped (9 carries for just 27 yards). While Coleman makes like Karl Hungus, logjammin’ without fixing the cable, the rest of the Jets backfield are just bench-holds. Johnson and Carter will vault into the flex conversation the moment that Coleman is demoted. None are fantasy-relevant this week.
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Head coach Kyle Shanahan seems intent on galaxy braining his team into a tough season. Fortunately for Garoppolo, that means the veteran gets to keep his job despite the team selling the farm for heir apparent Trey Lance, handicapping their salary cap and Lance’s development in the process. Garoppolo did what the team asked of him last week, efficiently connecting with receivers on 17 of his 25 pass attempts for 314 and 1 touchdown, while dutifully subbing out at the 5-yard line so Lance could post a perfect 1-for-1, 5-yard touchdown line with WR Trent Sherfield. Expect a similar performance against an albeit tougher opponent, Philadelphia, in Week 2. Jimmy G’s a mid-to-low QB2.
WR Deebo Samuel & Brandon Aiyuk — Whenever Samuel’s been able to take the field, his jaw dropping talents pop off the screen. Through one week, he’s been well worth his average draft position, especially in dynasty where his stock has dropped far too low. Meanwhile, Shanahan effectively benched Aiyuk last week, offering flimsy lines about the second-year receiver’s August hamstring injury as a hindrance. As days pass, more and more signs point to this being a Shanahan temper tantrum though (more on Trey Sermon in a bit), as the savant/egomaniacal coach has a long history of publicly embarrassing players that he’s unhappy with (think Dante Pettis). For the time being, Aiyuk should not be anywhere near a redraft starting lineup. He’s only up for consideration in DFS. Samuel on the other hand is a must-start this week. After catching 9-of-12 passes for 189 yards and 1 touchdown on a Faustian 59.24% of San Francisco’s air yards, the third-year dynamo is a locked-in WR2 with easy peasy top-12 upside. Samuel managers should be on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if he can repeat his league-leading 8.1 Average Yards After Catch Above Expectation.
TE George Kittle — Kittle continued his steady ways last week, hauling in 4-of-5 targets for a respectable 78 yards. He’s a top-5 fantasy TE once again this week.
WR Trent Sherfield — Sherfield remains a bench-hold in deep leagues as Lance’s clear cut go-to guy. Whenever the former takes over the job, Sherfield will be a sneaky multi-flex league option.
RB Eli Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty, & Trey Sermon — Stud rookie back Sermon was a surprise inactive last week, after running as the No. 2 back for months. Shanahan has tried to play this off as Mitchell and Hasty simply having beat out Sermon for the primary rotational roles behind starter Raheem Mostert but one doesn’t simply drop their No. 2 running back after he balls so hard in the preseason. Whatever the case may be, Mitchell seized the day after Mostert suffered a season-ending meniscus injury with just two carries in the books. Mitchell’s 4.35 jets were on full display as he gashed the Lions’ defense for 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries en route to the RB12 finish. With Sermon likely active, given Mostert’s absence, expecting a 1-for-1 repeat of Mitchell’s Week 1 performance is a hair aggressive, and we’re still getting a handle on everyone’s usage. Mitchell can be considered a mid-to-high RB2 Week 2 while Sermon and Hasty make for risky multi-flex plays.
QB Jalen Hurts — Hurts put the hurt on ATL last week, toasting their undermanned defense for 264 aerial yards, a trio of passing touchdown strikes, and 62 glorious yards on the ground. The second-year signal caller displayed impressive efficiency in both departments, completing 27-of-35 passes while averaging 8.9 yards per carry on his 7 totes. Philly brass has to feel a little bit better about not executing that trade for Deshaun Watson right about now. Expect another mid-to-high QB1 showing again this week.
WR DeVonta Smith — An 18-yard touchdown reception was a truly fitting start to Smith’s career. The stud rookie established himself as Philadelphia’s No. 1 WR/pass catcher on a 6-of-8 for 71 yards and 1 touchdown stat line, all marks either a team-best or tying the team-highs. Given where managers likely drafted him, Smith’s a WR2 that one gets to start as a WR3/flex for the foreseeable future.
WR Jalen Reagor — Reagor foot-raced his way to a long touchdown on a likely lucky screen pass late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Should the team draw up more short area usage for him, he might be able to turn things around. Reagor was downright awful last year though so approach with caution in Week 2. He’s best left on the bench in redraft but could be fired up in large field DFS tournaments.
TE Dallas Goedert & Zach Ertz — Ertz was given the day off on Wednesday with a “hamstring/rest” designation. Should Ertz miss time though, Goedert would vault to the TE6/7 range. As of now, the latter is more of a back-end TE1 option. His recent performance offered hope for the future.
RB Miles Sanders & Kenneth Gainwell — Sanders and Gainwell are the two fantasy-relevant backs here. Boston Scott didn’t log a single snap. Ahead of Week 1, it was thought that Sanders might take on a run-heavy role with Gainwell and/or Scott soaking up all of the backfield receiving usage. Turns out, Sanders and Gainwell both saw plenty of work in both facets of the game. Sanders carried the ball 15 times for 74 yards and caught 4 of his 5 targets for 39 yards while Gainwell gained 37 yards and 1 touchdown very well on his 9 carries, sprinkling 2 catches on 3 targets for 6 yards on top. After the walloping that the top two Detroit backs laid on the Niners last week (216 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns), Sanders is a safe RB2 and Gainwell a decent flex play.
Related: Top 5 Wavier Wire Adds for Week 2
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Las Vegas Raiders
QB Derek Carr — Carr handled himself well against Baltimore in primetime last week but a date with the fearsome Steelers’ defense renders him a 2QB/Superflex-only option this week.
TE Darren Waller — At this point Waller can only be considered an elite fantasy weapon, not an elite tight end. His 19 targets on Monday night against Baltimore led the league and Jon Gruden later called him “the best player [he’s] ever coached”. Waller’s a top-2 TE once again.
WR Bryan Edwards & Henry Ruggs — Edwards and Ruggs are just running cardio at this point. Hold them if you please.
RB Josh Jacobs & Kenyan Drake — Jacobs is already nursing a number of lower body injuries but is expected to play this weekend. Against the Steelers’ front, with a subpar offensive line, he’s a back-end option in single flex leagues. Drake could return a little more value than Jacobs in a full-point PPR format but his rushing abilities leave a lot to be desired. He’s not a great option.
QB Ben Roethlisberger — As evidenced by his -8.1% CPAE (fourth worst in the NFL), Roethlisberger’s ancient body just doesn’t have it anymore. Fortunately for him, he’s playing the Raiders so he’s still a viable streaming option in single QB leagues.
WR Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, & JuJu Smith-Schuster — Head coach Mike Tomlin bafflingly gave JuJu—the guy with the bad knee—the highest snap share of PIT’s WR trio. Thankfully, Roethlisberger still lit up Johnson with a team-leading 10 targets but this is rough game planning; both JuJu and Johnson had TAY marks of less than 6-yards while second-year man Claypool operated in the “downfield” role at 10.4. Claypool, a dominant receiver in-waiting made the most of his 5 looks, catching 3 of them 45 yards. All three players are flex-worthy due to the JV-level secondary that Vegas is working with though.
TE Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth — The latter is a bench stash in dynasty.
RB Najee Harris — The rookie dual threat back royally flopped last week but he stayed on the field for 100% of the team’s snaps. That’s elite. Harris is perhaps the single best buy-low running back in fantasy right now. The O-Line deficiencies limit his upside but he’s an upside RB2 at worst in this one.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
QB Jameis Winston — Post-Lasik/Sean Payton-infused Winston looks like a passer reborn. Producing one of the more bizarre stat lines of Week 1, Winston went 14-of-20 for 148 yards and 5 touchdowns. He surprisingly added 6 carries for 37 yards on the ground as well.
209 instances in NFL history of a QB throwing 5+ TDs in a single game: Jameis Winston (148) has the lowest pass yardage total. Not hating on Jameis; dude was balling. Just a cool stat. NOT hate. YES cool. Cool? Cool.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 13, 2021
Last week’s QB4 has another shot at a top-12 finish against a stars-and-scrubs Panthers’ defense.
WR Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, & Chris Hogan — Callaway was targeted early but Winston went Full Brees and just dished to whomever was open. Both Harris and Hogan found pay-dirt for six. Callaway is the best bet to return flex value in redraft leagues but all three could be inserted into large field DFS lineups.
TE Adam Trautman & Juwan Johnson — Johnson stole the show with his perfect 3-for-3, 21 yards and 2 touchdowns stat line, but the team hardly intended to use him that way. The agile tight end saw just the third highest snap count at the position for NO. Johnson should be added (and benched for now) in deep leagues. Trautman, meanwhile, dominated both snaps and targets—his 51 snaps were third highest on the team overall and his 6 targets were two more than any other Saint. Trautman is quietly the better bet to return TE1 value this year.
RB Alvin Kamara & Tony Jones Jr. — It’s tough to say how much of a 1-2 punch this really is. Kamara soaked up snaps until the game was well out of hand, when Jones came in and mostly took what was blocked for him (-10 Rush Yards Over Expectation). Kamara looks like his young self, taking his 23 total touches for 91 yards and a score. Against the divisional rival Panthers this week, he gets overall RB2 honors in this week’s ranks. Jones is only an option in deep multi-flex leagues but could be worth a roll of the dice in DFS.
QB Sam Darnold — Someday OC Joe Brady will leave Carolina for a head coaching gig, and the Panthers will be in trouble, but until then they’ve got an offensive mastermind in the building. Brady dialed up passing plays on a sublime 68% of the team’s first-half early-downs (FH/ED), T-fifth most in the NFL. After that promising performance, the crazy legged Darnold remains QB2/Superflex viable even in a tough match-up.
WR D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, & Terrace Marshall — Moore and Anderson saw a team-leading 52 snaps while the rookie slot receiver Marshall was in on 34. Moore’s eight targets led the trio but Marshall’s six weren’t far behind. The rookie’s 3 catches for 26 yards were far less impressive than Moore’s 80 yards on 6 catches but solid usage is solid usage and managers should hold tight with the former. The fantasy land seems to have been granted their off-season wishes as well—Moore has returned to operating as the team’s primary X-receiver. At the beginning of last year, Moore was given Z duties while Anderson operated as the team’s alpha. With Moore back in the driver’s seat, we can expect more reliable WR2/3 production from him and his 11.4-yard average depth of target (aDot). Unfortunately for Anderson, his week-to-week volatility is increased in the downfield receiver role. While his aDot is likely to come down by 15-yards or so from last week’s 30.0, the fact that he secured just 1-of-3 targets may not be out of the norm. Anderson made the most of it though, housing his lone reception for a 57-yard score. Long balls will be hard to come by against New Orleans’ sturdy D. He’s a moderate flex play this week. Marshall is only startable in deep multi-flex leagues.
RB Christian McCaffrey & Chuba Hubbard — McCaffrey dominated backfield snaps while leading the team in targets, going a perfect 9-of-9 for 89 yards in the passing game. He’s once again the overall RB1. Hubbard is a pure backup.
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Teddy Bridgewater — Bridgewater unsurprisingly locked onto his short area targets in Week 1. Although not a recipe for season-long success, the hapless Jags just made Tyrod Taylor look like a spring chicken. Denver’s signal caller is firmly on the 2QB/Superflex radar this week.
TE Noah Fant & Albert Okwuegbunam — Jeudy and Fant saw the two highest slot route rates last week and thus led the team in targets as a result. Jeudy suffered a high-ankle sprain and landed on IR this week though so it’s wheels up for Fant, who should operate as a de facto slot WR for the next four to six weeks. He’s second-tier TE1 this week. Albert O is only on the DFS radar. His two targets inside the 10-yard line were as good as anyone in the league.
WR Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, & Tim Patrick — The love that Teddy showed Sutton in the team’s final preseason game didn’t translate to live action results. The unbelievably talented X-receiver is only viable in multi-flex leagues despite seeing one of the softest defensive match-ups one can find. Hamler will compete with Fant for a decent number of snaps in the slot. He’s on the flex-streaming radar and should absolutely be in DFS lineups this week. Patrick went a perfect 4-of-4 for 39 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s a great receiver but this group is deep. Treat him similarly to Hamler and hold onto him tightly in dynasty. He’ll be free of Denver soon enough.
RB Melvin Gordon & Javonte Williams — As predicted last week, Gordon is still very much involved in this backfield. The duo split the snap share right down the middle with 33 apiece. Williams led the carry-count 14-to-11 but Gordon maintained the lead in the receiving department, out-targeting Williams 3-to-1. The veteran also kept a slight lead in the 2-minute offense, a role he should hold onto for much of the year and his 70-yard score was a sight to behold. Gordon weaved through traffic between the tackles before exploding to towards the left sideline, running to daylight. His 21.52 MPH mark was the fastest speed of any ball carrier in Week 1.The old man’s still got it. Either one could spring into the top-15 against a Jacksonville defense that just gave up 138 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns to Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and David Johnson.
QB Trevor Lawrence — No one knows what head coach Urban Meyer will do next. An anonymous source recently called him “unhinged” and there’s speculation that he may simply leave the pros if the vacant USC coaching job were offered to him. Lawrence was allowed to let it rip on 65% of the team’s FH/EDs and his 8.6 average intended air yards don’t indicate a dink-and-dunk approach. It is anyone’s guess as to how much of an influence Darrell Bevell and his downfield ways are influencing decision making though. And if so, Meyer could wrest control at any given moment. Still Lawrence got the job done last week and has a chance to return back-end top-12 value once again in Week 2.
WR D.J. Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr, & Laviska Shenault Jr. — The three Jags’ receivers had a bizarre Sunday. Chark caught a measly 3 of his 12 targets but made the most of them with 86 yards and a score. Marvin saved his day by catching a four-yard score with five seconds left. Prior to the eleventh hour dart, the veteran jump-baller would’ve had 4 catches and 73 yards to his name. Although late scores like that can’t be banked on, it’s nice to know that Lawrence looked his way in crunch time. Shenault’s 57 yards from scrimmage don’t reflect it but the man had a monstrous workload, confirming Travis Etienne-like usage in the process. The second-year pro caught 7-of-10 targets and took 1 carry for 9 yards. Denver’s defense is no pushover but CB Ronald Darby landed on IR (hamstring) this week and stud DE Bradley Chubb’s status (ankle) is entirely up in the air. All three Jag receivers are WR3s this week.
TE James O’Shaughnessy — O’Shaughnessy had the game of his life on Sunday, catching 6-of-8 balls for 48 yards. In a league starved of tight end talent, the long time vet is worth a speculative add.
RB James Robinson & Carlos Hyde — Although Robinson out-snapped Hyde 47-25, Meyer ran these two as a true committee in the touch departments. The aged Hyde took his 9 carries for 44 scoreless yards while Robinson, also unable to find pay dirt, took his paltry 5 carries for 25 yards. Robinson thankfully maintained primary receiving duties, catching 3-of-6 targets en route to 29 receiving yards. Hyde secured both of his targets for a sum of 14 yards. Against the Broncos’ fearsome front, neither one are desirable plays. Robinson is this week’s RB30 and Hyde gets the RB46 spot.
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
QB Kirk Cousins — Cousins might be in trouble this week. The Cards’ front-seven gained a soft reputation last year but their formerly malleable ways were only a symptom of too many injuries. Healthy now, The Cards shredded the Titans’ offensive line last week en route to a league-high six sacks. Consider Cousins a non-option in single QB formats.
WR Justin Jefferson & Adam Thielen — Thielen, just like last year, showed the world that he’s still one of the league’s premier receivers. The wily veteran posted team-highs in all receiving categories; 9 catches, 10 targets, 92 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Against a much tougher opponent, expectations should drop a hair. He’s still a top-15 WR on the week though. Same goes for the youngster Jefferson, whose 5 catches and 71 yards don’t quite reflect the intentions of the 9 targets Cousins chucked his way.
WR K.J. Osborn — Osborn came out of nowhere last week, pummeling Cincinnati via a 7-of-9 76-yard stat line. It remains to be seen if the team is actually going to embrace decent three-wide receiver usage with TE Irv Smith Jr. on the shelf but if so, Osborn would be a viable start in multi-flex full-point PPR leagues. Add him as you need a startable WR3/4.
RB Dalvin Cook — Can you smell what he’s cooking? It’s an elite RB1 performance, no matter the odds! Alexander Mattison is a pure backup.
QB Kyler Murray — Murray is one of the best players alive today, hands down. The diminutive speedster with a cannon of an arm is redefining the position. Fantasy’s current QB should have another fine outing against a Vikings’ defensive front that could be without linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, and defensive end Everson Griffen.
WR DeAndre Hopkins — Hopkins is a top-5 WR this week.
WR Christian Kirk & Rondale Moore — Kirk finally played like the receiver that the team drafted him to be all those years ago. He dominated slot routes on his way to a 5-of-5, 70 yards and a touchdown outing. Kirk needs to be added across all formats as a WR3 with WR2 upside this week. Moore, for his part, looked great as well. The explosive rookie took 4 of his 5 targets for a crisp 68 yards receiving. With Kirk’s apparent emergence, expectations for Moore have to be dropped a tad. Given the match-up, he’s a multi-flex starting option though.
WR A.J. Green — Stop it. Green should not be rostered in redraft formats.
RB Chase Edmonds & James Conner — Edmonds worked as the clear cut lead back while Conner gobbled up garbage time carries. Against this banged up front-seven, Edmonds is firmly on the RB3/flex radar. Conner is a risky multi-flex play but the matchup might facilitate an end zone face-plant.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Matt Ryan — The Falcons’ O-Line is a problem. Ryan is a mid-to-low QB2 this week as a result. TB’s defensive-front is as good as it gets.
WR Calvin Ridley — This is another week where Ridley might finish closer to his floor than his ceiling. He absolutely should not be benched though. Expectation-wise, he’s a top-15 WR at worst.
TE Kyle Pitts — Prime buy-low moment right now. Pitts tied Ridley for a team-leading 8 targets, lined up a team-high 19 times in the slot, and only took 8 snaps from the in-line TE position. He didn’t blow up the box score but truly elite TE1 usage was just confirmed.
WR Russell Gage — Hopeful we can stop debating his role now. He doesn’t really have one.
RB Mike Davis & Cordarrelle Patterson — Davis’ had a brutal outing but much of that was due to a complete lack of help from his offensive line. With that unlikely to improve this week, he drops from an RB2 to a flex. Patterson is worth a bench spot after his decent Sunday showing. He’s not likely to straight up steal the job from Davis though.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Tom Brady — The greatest QB of all time tees off against one of the NFL’s worst offenses. Given the lack of rushing floor, expect a finish between QB3-QB6.
WR Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, & TE Rob Gronkowski — The biggest hindrance to each player’s production is the total number of mouths to feed here. Still, that didn’t stop Godwin and Brown from posting top-15 WR numbers last week and Gronk even finished as the overall TE1! Consider all three WRs top-24 plays but all three have WR1 upside. Gronk is a top-5 play at the TE position.
WR Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, & Jaylon Mickens — All four should be in DFS lineups.
RB Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, & Giovani Bernard — Jones and Fournette are worth starts in very deep leagues as rushing TDs are likely to be scored against ATL’s defense. Bernard is tough to trust as this could just be a pure blow-out and his receiving talents may not be needed for long.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers
QB Dak Prescott — LAC offers a stiff defense but Dallas will get the job done. Both teams were top 5 in offensive plays run last week and elite offenses can boost each other to heights that offensive vs defensive match-ups can never dream of. Dak’s an elite QB1, as always.
WR Amari Cooper & CeeDee Lamb — With Michael Gallup out a few weeks (calf), Cooper and Lamb aren’t just top-12 options at the position, both players have elite WR1 potential. Plus, Chargers’ starting safety Nasir Adderley (groin) has registered back-to-back DNPs…
WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. — Wilson’s the next man up in Gallup’s stead. Wilson should be rostered as a Week 2 fantasy starter, set expectations within the WR3/flex threshold.
TE Blake Jarwin & Dalton Schultz — The two proficient pass catchers neutralize each other’s fantasy viability.
RB Ezekiel Elliott & Tony Pollard — Zeke should get back to his RB1 ways in what still amounts to a tough matchup, but few are tougher than what he faced last week. Pollard is only an option in extremely deep multi-flex full-point PPR leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers
QB Justin Herbert — Herbert should compete with the big dogs atop the QB1 pile this week. No. 1 overall honors are well within his range of outcomes. Any pass rush Dallas might’ve mustered against what might be the league’s best offensive line went up in smoke when top pass rush Demarcus Lawrence was labeled “out indefinitely” due to a foot injury and DE Randy Gregory was listed as Doubtful (COVID-19/Reserve List).
WR Keenan Allen & Mike Williams — Few stat lines better represent Keenan’s level of consistency quite like last week’s 9-of-13 for 100 yards. He’s a locked-in WR1 against Dallas. The new coaching staff affirmed their love, and use for Williams last week as he tore up the vaunted Washington defense, going 8-of-12 for 82 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s a mid-tier WR2 with easy WR1 upside.
WR Jalen Guyton & Josh Palmer — The Nos. 3 and 4 WRs make for enticing DFS plays.
TE Jared Cook & Donald Parham — Due to the other’s presence, neither are worthy of a TE1 start this week. Parham is worth a bench stash though.
RB Austin Ekeler — Ekeler’s a no-brainer RB1 this week in a stellar matchup. His lack of passing game usage last week should be forgotten after this shootout. Slow-footed Larry Rountree and Justin Jackson cycled in behind Ekeler with the former seeing more work. Neither offer study standalone value at the moment.
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks
QB Ryan Tannehill — Tannehill can’t be trusted outside of 2QB/Superflex leagues. New OC Todd Downing was inexcusably allowed to return to the lack-of-play-action ways that got him run out of Oakland. TEN’s 2(!) PA attempts were fewest in the league. Until we see Vrabel make Downing get with the times, we can’t trust Tannehill in single QB formats.
WR A.J. Brown & Julio Jones — Even in a great match-up, A.J. Brown is more of a back-end WR1 right now. Downing’s play-calling is the single saddest storyline of Week 1. Julio’s just a back-end WR2.
RB Derrick Henry — After the heyday that the Colts’ backs had last week against Seattle, faith should be preemptively restored in Henry as an elite RB1. Sunday should be a good time for all of us.
QB Russell Wilson — The Shane Waldron scheme got off to a great start last week and the team should have no issue expanding on that success against a hapless Titans’ defense.
WR D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett — Week 1 confirmed the Waldron-Seahawks’ intent to utilize their wide receivers early and often. Like Los Angeles (64%), Seattle targeted the wide receiver position on first-half early-down throws 63% of the time. It might take some time to fully implement it but Seattle fans really should expect the Seahawks to go full-Ram this year. With that kind of usage, Metcalf makes for a top-3 WR option against the Titans while Lockett’s floor is cemented as a top-15 WR play.
TE Gerald Everett & Will Dissly — The name of the game for Everett last week was efficiency. The stud TE caught both passes that came his way, securing one of them for a score. With Dissly seeing such a high snap share, it will be tough for Everett to return high-end TE1 value though.
RB Chris Carson — No. 2 RB Rashaad Penny left Week 1’s contest with a calf injury in the second quarter and is expected to miss a few games. After Penny’s exit, backups DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer combined for just five offensive snaps behind Carson, who finished the day with a total of 42 to his name. Alex Collins is likely to see some relief rushing work and Dallas should see a target or two come his way but this is Carson’s backfield right now. He’s a high-end RB2 with top-10 upside against the Titans.
Sunday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes — An every-week top-3 QB.
WR Tyreek Hill & TE Travis Kelce — These two stand alone at the top of this receiving game and there aren’t any other Chiefs who come close. Not that defenses really matter for Kelce but the Raiders’ Darren Waller just went 10-of-109 for 105 yards and 1 touchdown against this group. Kelce’s a sure bet for a top-2 TE finish. Like his sidekick, Hill finished as the overall WR2 in Week 1 and has a great shot at doing it again. His odds are substantially helped by Baltimore’s god awful injury luck at cornerback as of late.
WR Mecole Hardman & Demarcus Robinson — Just DFS plays at this point.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire — CEH saw fine dual threat usage last week but sometimes, there may just not be enough work to go around for all three of KC’s studs to have elite finishes. The young back’s subpar speed doesn’t help his cause though. Baltimore’s front-seven is no pushover so CEH is dropping from his typical fringe RB1/2 range to more of a mid-tier RB2.
QB Lamar Jackson — Lamar should run wild against KC’s welcoming defensive front. He’s a top-5 play.
TE Mark Andrews & WR Marquise Brown — Andrews racked up the second-highest single game snap total of his career on Monday Night Football (55), a promising start to the 2021 NFL season for him. Brown, meanwhile, showed up on the injury report with an ankle injury, registering a DNP on Wednesday. It could just be a day of rest but that’s not a great start to the week. Andrews would be in for monstrous, elite TE1 usage should Brown be unable to go.
WR Sammy Watkins — By virtue of being the potential last man standing, Watkins must warrant flex value.
RB Ty’Son Williams & Latavius Murray — Williams should remain the starter but as outlined here, there’s quite a bit of optimism for Murray’s fantasy flex potential. Both backs should cruise against KC’s “please run on us, don’t pass” style of defense.