I’ve rebranded the classic fantasy football start/sit column into “Roasts & Ghosts”. A roast is a player who is not only a clear start, but is in for a monster game. A ghost meanwhile is a player who could just be a typical sit, but also might be a star player who gives you less than you were expecting. I have a roast and a ghost for each position to help you set your best lineups for Week 2.
Roast: Jalen Hurts vs San Francisco 49ers
The Jalen Hurts QB1 campaign started off with a bang in Week 1 as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback looked locked-in against a hapless Atlanta Falcons’ secondary. Hurts finished with 264 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and another 62 yards on the ground. Only Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, and Patrick Mahomes had more fantasy points per attempt than Hurts in Week 1. That’s elite QB production.
As an encore, Hurts is facing off against a 49ers defense that just let Jared Goff and his merry band of misfits light them up to the tune of 338 yards and 3 scores. The Niners also lost cornerback Jason Verrett for the season after Week 1’s matchup. Hurts is primed to have another roast week.
Ghost: Derek Carr vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Derek Carr might not be the sexiest fantasy QB name but he did just come off a Monday night performance in which he tossed for 435 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading to a QB10 finish. That’s not bad for a quarterback most of us think of as the walking definition of average. Don’t get your hopes up though for a repeat performance.
The Las Vegas Raiders get to face the buzzsaw that is the Steelers’ defense. A defense, mind you, that just held Josh Allen to under 300 passing yards despite passing the ball 57 times. Pittsburgh graded out as one of the best pass defenses of Week 1 (per NEFF rating) and lived in Allen’s lap for much of the game. T.J. Watt recorded five QB hits alone and the defense racked up three sacks against the Buffalo Bills.
Carr’s heroics where amazing Monday night but I think the Raiders’ signal caller comes back to Earth Sunday and could quite easily produce a fantasy dud.
Roast: Najee Harris vs Las Vegas Raiders
On the other side of the Raiders vs Steelers matchup, you have rookie running back Najee Harris facing a tasty matchup in the Raiders’ run defense. I know fantasy managers were disappointed in Harris’ Week 1 outing in which he recorded just 49 total yards on 17 touches but rest assured, this is the week you drafted him for.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Harris played every offensive snap and recorded every backfield touch for the Steelers in Week 1. That level of volume is beyond elite in today’s age of running back committees. Facing a Raiders defense that just finished giving up the second-most rushing fantasy points in Week 1, Harris’ insane volume is certain to translate into a roast week. I’d confidently rank Harris as a top-10 back this week.
Ghost: Dalvin Cook vs Arizona Cardinals
Like I said on this week’s Starts & Sits podcast, you’re never going to bench Dalvin Cook. Chances are you spent a top four pick to get him and you’re going to ride or die by his legs. However, if you’re in a six player league and just so happen to be LOADED at running back, this might be the week to break in favor of another one of your elite backs.
We saw what this Cardinals defense was able to do against Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. Henry finished with a very inefficient 58 yards on 17 carries. Henry was able to turn 4 targets into 3 catches for 19 yards, but his rushing work was largely kept in track. Cook had a similarly inefficient Week 1—61 yards on 20 carries, 6-of-7 targets for 43 yards, and a fumble—buoyed by a rushing touchdown. Without that touchdown, Cook would’ve dropped from his RB8 .5PPR finish, all the way to RB20.
Going from one top run defense to another in back-to-back weeks doesn’t fill me with confidence that Cook is going to go off in Week 2.
Roast: Mike Williams vs Dallas Cowboys
I am putting all my eggs in the Mike Williams basket this week. And why shouldn’t I? After hearing all off-season that he was in for a career year, Williams started 2021 seeing 12 targets for 82 yards and a score against a stout Washington Football defense. Write that atop the list of things you love to see.
No team surrendered more receiving fantasy points in Week 1 than the Cowboys, who were absolutely shredded by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. I’m operating under the idea that every game the Cowboys play is going to be an offensive shootout and the Los Angeles Chargers have more than enough fire power to go toe-for-toe with them. Williams huge target share in Week 1 gives me the utmost confidence that in a juicy matchup such as this, he’ll again return high-end WR2 value. Oh, and Keenan Allen has a chance to be the WR1 this week so plan accordingly.
Ghost: Terry McLaurin vs New York Giants
Dear readers, I’m worried about Terry McLaurin. I love me some Scary Terry and with the gunslinger himself Ryan Fitzpatrick under center this season, I thought for sure this was going to be McLaurin’s season to finish a WR1. Alas, Fitzpatrick is on IR with a hip injury and now Taylor Heinicke is up at starting QB.
As Nic Bodiford explained in his Thursday Night Football preview, Heinicke in his young career has a propensity to locking in on close and easy targets, most notably his running backs and tight ends. The matchup is doubly worrisome for McLaurin this week as he’ll likely be shadowed by cornerback James Bradberry. Last year, Bradberry was one of the best cover corners in the league, allowing just a 54% completion percentage on passes thrown his way. I have McLaurin ranked as my WR24 this week and that almost feels too high.
free terry mclaurin https://t.co/bFatQwaUwl
— pete astronaut aboard the pitts-8 rocket rogers (@petemrogers) September 14, 2021
Roast: T.J. Hockenson vs Green Bay Packers
T.J. Hockenson certainly lived up to his billing of “the only pass catcher in Detroit that you should care about”. Hock caught 8-of-11 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in Week 1. Going up against a Packers defense that allowed the sixth-most targets and T-most touchdowns to the position in Week 1, Hock seems primed to be in another roast situation. Confidently fire him up as a top-3 tight end this week.
Ghost: Jonnu Smith vs New York Jets
It’s too early in the season to really pick out defensive trends—thought the Jets did limit the Carolina Panthers to just 23 yards from their tight end position in Week 1. Much of my call with Jonnu Smith comes from just the existence of Hunter Henry. While Smith did catch all 5 of his targets for 42 yards, his stat line would have been that much more attractive had he also gotten Henry’s 3 catches for 31 yards. I’m worried that these two tight ends are going to perpetually cap each other’s fantasy value so until we really see what roles emerge for them, I’m tempering expectations.