Fantasy Football Sleepers Week Two
The first week of the fantasy football season is behind us and the NFL has once again thrown its faithful for a loop. From the Thursday night season opener in which the Kansas City Chiefs spoiled the New England Patriots’ perfect season, handing them their first Week 1 loss since 2014, to the Monday night finale in which the Denver Broncos barely held on to victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, it was an eventful beginning to the 2017 NFL season.
Week 1 could be renamed the week of the sleeper. Eight of the top 15 of fantasy’s offensive scoring leaders held less than a 60 percent start-percentage at MyFantasyLeague.com.
Not only did Taylor appear in my Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 1 article last week, but five of 10 of my sleepers scored at least 11 fantasy points in standard scoring while seven of 10 scored at least 12 points in PPR formats.
Entering Week 2, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include Allen Robinson, Danny Woodhead, David Johnson and C.J. Fiedorowicz all succumbing to significant injuries, be sure to check out our own Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters.
Ready or not, here my Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2.
MFL Start-Percentage: 48.30
Although Dak Prescott finished as the QB11 last week with 17.1 points, he is only being started in 48.30 percent of fantasy leagues on MFL. Perhaps, it’s because he facing a normally stout Broncos defense in Week 2. However, Denver’s defensive unit is coming off of a rough Week 1 outing against the Chargers. They allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 192 yards and three touchdowns, which equates to 17.7 fantasy points. Without longtime safety T.J. Ward roaming the defensive backfield, the Broncos’ defense may be a bit more welcoming until Justin Simmons adjusts to his new starting role at strong safety. I expect Prescott to exploit Denver’s secondary and work the middle of the field, which is prime Cole Beasley and Jason Witten territory. If Ezekiel Elliott can get going on the ground and wear down the defense, much like he did last week against the Giants, Prescott will be in line for another stellar outing on Sunday afternoon.
MFL Start-Percentage: 43.52%
Before you say it, yes, I’m very aware of Carson Palmer’s dreadful performance last week against the Lions. His 269 yards, one touchdown and three interception day, which translates to nine fantasy points, has his fantasy owners who believe he is in store for a bounce-back year, running for help, especially if he’s their QB1 in deeper formats or in those in which you can start multiple signal callers. Yet, here is, nominated as one of my Week 2 sleepers. Why? MATCHUP.
Not only is Palmer facing a Colts defense that was just as terrible in Week 1 as he was, but they were terrible against the Los Angeles Rams-led Jared Goff. The Colts allowed Goff to appear efficient for the first time in his career, yielding 16.4 fantasy points to the former No. 1 overall pick from 2016. Moreover, the Cardinals will be without their best player, David Johnson for the unforeseen future, which bodes well for Palmer’s fantasy outlook moving forward. But lets’ focus on Week 2. Since Vontae Davis is not expected to play for the second straight game with a groin injury, Indianapolis will be missing their best cover-corner. This game spells bounce back for not only Palmer but his slew of pass-catchers that includes Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and J.J. Nelson. I know Palmer burned DFS players in Week 1, myself included, but it just might pay off to roll with him in what could be one of the best quarterback matchups of Week 2.
Need Week 2 Start’EM Sit’EM advice? Phil Clark has you covered right here.
Running Back Sleepers
MFL Start-Percentage: 42.63
While Mike Gillislee is the popular running back to start for the Patriots — he is being started in 82.76 percent of MFL leagues — James White could serve as a high-upside sleeper in Week 2, especially in PPR scoring formats. Although Gillislee out-produced White in Week 1 from a fantasy perspective — he accumulated 22.5 fantasy points to White’s 6.8 (9.8 PPR) — the latter out-snapped the former 44-to-24. White was on the field for 53 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps to Gillislee’s 30 percent.
Looking ahead to Sunday, White is entering a prime fantasy matchup against a Saints defense that was torched in the opener by the Vikings. New Orleans allowed the 10th most fantasy points to RBs in Week 1, surrendering 24. If Minnesota’s offense could light up the Saints, just imagine what an angry New England unit, coming off a loss, could do to a defense poised to finish in the bottom eight when its all said and done. While most of the damage was done on the ground — the Saints yielded 138 yards rushing to Dalvin Cook and company — they also gave up 42 yards receiving on 6-of-8 targets to Vikings RBs, which is where White will flourish.
Now that Danny Amendola dealing with a concussion, he may not play. He has yet to practice this week. In that scenario, the Patriots may elect to line White up all over the field to create mismatches. It would also generate extended opportunities for him to make an impact. In what is expected to be a high-scoring affair, White could be in line for double-digit PPR points in Week 2 despite the presence of Gillislee on early-downs.
MFL Start-Percentage: 21.40
For the second consecutive year, the Seahawks have tremendous question marks at running back. Although they added Eddie Lacy via free agency this offseason, it appears that he has quickly fallen out of favor with head coach Pete Carroll. Lacy only played seven snaps in Week 1 against the Packers, accumulating three yards on five carries. In fact, no Seahawks running back performed particularly well last week. C.J. Prosise received four carries for 11 yards and Chris Carson led all Seattle rushers with 49 total yards on seven touches. The odd man out of this equation is Thomas Rawls. He was inactive for the opener with an ankle injury but is practicing in full leading into his favorable Week 2 matchup against the 49ers.
San Franciso’s defense was gouged last week by Panthers RBs. They surrendered the eighth most fantasy points to opposing RBs in Week 1, allowing 27.8. Moreover, Rawls absolutely shows up to play against his NFC West division rivals. In three career meetings, Rawls has rushed for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 44 carries, adding another 55 yards and a score on five receptions as a receiver out of the backfield. Averaging 16.3 FPPG against the 49ers, Rawls is a sneaky upside start for Week 2.
Need fantasy trade advice? Check out Hunter Gibbon and Matthew Foreman’s Buy Low Sell High article. They’ll give you the inside scoop on when and which players to deal for a maximum return.
Wide Receiver Sleepers
MFL Start-Percentage: 51.42
Although the Rams acquired Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in free agency this offseason, after one week, third round pick, Cooper Kupp, is the wide receiver addition that paid off. Facing a defunct Colts’ secondary in Week 1, Kupp caught 4-of-6 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. He finished as the WR10 with 17.6 fantasy points in PPR scoring formats.
Kupp is entering a fine Week 2 matchup against the Redskins. A team that allowed Nelson Agholor to put up a career-high 6-81-1 stat line operating primarily out of the slot, which is Kupp’s forte. Washington also allowed the 11th most fantasy points to WRs last week, surrendering an eye-popping 33.4 to the position. With Josh Norman expected to blanket Watkins for most of the game on Sunday, the middle of the field should be wide open for Jared Goff to operate the ball to Kupp. Although he could be started in either format, Kupp is a more trustworthy PPR play in Week 2.
MFL Start-Percentage: 37.37%Earlier in the week, we learned that Allen Robinson would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2017 season with a knee injury. And since the Jaguars placed rookie standout Dede Westbrook on the injured reserve list with a core muscle injury before the start of the season, Jacksonville has a gaping hole at wide receiver. The two names that are dominating the fantasy waiver wire as intra-team replacements are Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Although Hurns was buried on the depth chart “behind” Robinson, Lee and Keelan Cole to start the year, he has emerged as the fantasy darling to presumably lead the Jaguars in receiving. However, if you’ve followed me up to this point, you’ll know that I’ve been on the Lee bandwagon all offseason. I believed he would ultimately lead Jacksonville in receiving even with a healthy Robinson. I’ve always viewed Hurns as the big play threat and Lee, when healthy, as the every-down playmaker on the outside with the versatility to line up in the slot. Though some may disagree, I’m rolling with Lee in Week 2 and beyond as the Jaguars’ WR1.
Lee is facing a familiar foe Sunday as the Jaguars host the Titans. Tennesse is coming off of a Week 1 matchup with the Raiders, whose receivers torched the Titans’ secondary for 42.1 fantasy points, which was the fifth most fantasy points allowed to WRs last week. In their final matchup of the 2016 season, Lee was outstanding. He caught three targets for 37 yards and a touchdown while passing for another score on a gadget play to Blake Bortles. Although the Jaguars are expected to be a run-first team to mask Bortles’ deficiencies, it is a passing league, which means someone will have to be on the other end of a Bortles pass. I expect Lee to thrive without Robinson in the lineup. While Lee and Hurns are both hit or miss, I trust Lee quite a bit more to break out.
Tight End Sleepers
MFL Start-Percentage: 53.81%
Coby Fleener is coming off of a solid Week 1 outing against the Vikings in which he caught 5-of-6 targets for 54 yards and a touchdown. His six targets were second-most on the team to Michael Thomas’ eight. Without Willie Snead in the lineup — he is serving a three-game substance-abuse suspension — I believe Fleener will thrive and continue receiving his excess target-share. Yes, Ted Ginn is the WR2 in the offense without Snead, but the veteran wideout is more of a big-play threat than anything else. Plus, he’s had issues with drops throughout his career. In his second season with the Saints, Fleener likely has Drew Brees’ trust, while Ginn’s is still developing.
Entering Week 2, Fleener has a welcoming matchup against the Patriots. New England’s defense surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing TEs last week versus the Chiefs, giving up 18.9 points to the position. Although Travis Kelce reeled in 5-0f-7 targets for 40 yards, it was his backup, Demetrius Harris who found the end zone. Not only does the Patriots’ defense appear more susceptible in 2017, but Fleener has had past success against them. Albeit was while he was still a member of the Colts, Fleener has accumulated a 19-268-0 stat line versus New England in four career games. Not only do I expect Fleener to continue his success in Week 2, but he is Mike Hauff’s “Lock of the Week” in his Draft Kings primer.
MFL Start-Percentage: 53.66%
Charles Clay was one of my Week 1 Sleepers, and he didn’t disappoint. He caught 4-of-9 targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. However, the stat to monitor here is his target-share. By far, his nine targets led the Bills in that category. The next most targeted player on the club was LeSean McCoy with six, followed by Zay Jones with four. Finishing as the TE5 with 11.3 fantasy points, Clay is emerging as a legit threat in a Buffalo offense desperate for pass-catchers.
Week 2’s matchup against the Panthers isn’t the greatest in hindsight. They only allowed 7.7 fantasy points to TEs last week, but that was against a rebuilding 49ers team and a young George Kittle. However, TE was a position of weakness for the Panthers in 2016. They conceded the second most fantasy points to the position to end the campaign. Since Carolina didn’t do much this offseason to upgrade their defense, I expect them to struggle to bottle up the more experienced TEs in 2017. Clay falls into that category. Scoring at least one touchdown in four of his past five games dating back to Week 14 of last season, Clay is poised to maintain that streak on Sunday.
Two Deep Sleepers If You’re Desperate
MFL Start-Percentage: 23.27
If there is any matchup in which you could feel confident starting Blake Bortles, it is in those in which he is facing the Titans. In six career games versus Tennessee, Bortles has accumulated a 1,677-12-2 stat line while completing 64.8 percent of his passes. In fact, in their last three meetings, he’s thrown for 984 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception. He even caught a TD from Marqise Lee in their last matchup. While allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the QB position last week against the Raiders and Derek Carr, it doesn’t look like Tennessee’s pass defense has improved at all from a poor showing in the 2016 campaign. Borltes should once again thrive against the Titans on Sunday. He is a startable desperation QB2 with upside for Week 2.
MFL Start-Percentage: 15.55%
Following up a rough Week 1 outing against the Cowboys in which he was nonexistent — he totaled 25 yards on nine touches — Paul Perkins will look to bounce back in a favorable Week 2 matchup against the Lions. Despite escaping the season opener with a win over the Cardinals, Detroit allowed the 10th most points to fantasy RBs, surrendering 26.7 points to the position. Since the Giants couldn’t get anything going on offense last week, perhaps the onus should fall on their play-calling. Although the game was fairly close, New York passed the ball 77.36 percent of the time. If they intend to win, a much more balanced attack is needed. In the only other time Perkins faced the Lions in Week 15 of the 2016 season, Perkins was effective, rushing for 56 yards on 11 carries. Expect New York to get their rushing attack going early on Sunday leaving Perkins as a sneaky desperation start for Week 2.
Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 2. I hope you enjoyed it! Want more? Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football news, notes and yes, sleepers, on our show, the Faceoff, a Gridiron Experts podcast. Check it out.
Oh, and before I forget, we will answer your questions on our show! All you have to do is Tweet us with your question @FFfaceoff.
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.