Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 2
With one week of the 2019 NFL season under wraps, it is time to see where we went right and where we went wrong from a fantasy football perspective as well as a deep dive into Week 2.
I have to say, opening weekend was every bit of a surprise with some teams and players. And while we shouldn’t overreact after one game, some of the fantasy assets that we were depending on really didn’t help us very much — see Jameis Winson. There were also players we weren’t expecting to have a big game who came through for the small few who had them in their lineups — Marquise Brown and Lamar Jackson to name a few. These players are the sleepers I’m trying to identify to help you dominate your matchups.
Most-Productive Players from Week 1
In the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, seven players were started in fewer than 50 percent of leagues at ESPN. These aforementioned players are the sleepers of the week starting at the top with Sammy Watkins, who balled out against the Jaguars in a tough matchup. With Tyreek Hill expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks, Watkins is the WR1 in Kansas City. His start-percentage will skyrocket and take him out of sleeper eligibility in my article. Woe is me. However, perhaps it’s time to fire-up Mecole Hardman.
Sleepers Week 1: Full-Disclosure
Week 6 Full-Disclosure by the Numbers
- While I didn’t have my best week of calls to open the season, I did have a few hits, especially in PPR scoring formats. Dede Westbrook, Mark Andrews, and Jason Witten all found the end zone in Week 1. However, Westbrook didn’t do much of anything else and finished as the PPR WR30.
- I will hang my hat on my Jason Witten touchdown call as I said he would score almost the day he came out of retirement once he faced the Giants early in the year. Historically, he owns them and the Giants haven’t been able to contain the tight end in the red zone in centuries.
- Mark Andrews was my hit of the week finishing as a top-four tight end in both standard and in PPR scoring formats. If Lamar Jackson continues to play the way he did in the season opener, Andrews will be poised for a breakout campaign.
- Tevin Coleman was off to a solid outing against the Buccaneers, but ultimately left the game early with an ankle injury and will be forced to miss time. It is time to employ your Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert shares and away we go with the wild card that is the 49ers’ backfield.
- I recommended Duke Johnson as a start in PPR scoring formats and he returned 13 PPR points. A solid day for your Flex player.
- My biggest whiff was Dante Pettis, who barely played any snaps, two to be exact. Although he isn’t droppable, if he sees little snaps again in Week 2, it will be time to panic about a player that most saw as a potential breakout WR2 for 2019.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 1 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
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 Tevin Coleman, Tyreek Hill, and Nick Foles all succumbing to injuries last week, some more significant than the others, be sure to check out Brandon Hamer’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 2 to help you fill the vacant holes on your fantasy team’s rosters. You can read that here.
Week 2 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.7
For the first two quarters or so against the Jets last week in the season opener, Josh Allen didn’t exactly look like the player we thought we would get in 2019. However, in the second half and after Jets stud linebacker C.J. Mosley exited the game with an injury, Allen showed his poise, leading the Bills to a win following a 16-point deficit. Completing 24-of-37 passes for 254 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions — he added another 38 yards and a score on 10 carries while losing a pair of fumbles — Allen still managed to finished as the Qb16 with 18 fantasy points despite the four turnovers.
In his upcoming matchup on the road at the Giants — he will be playing at Met Life Stadium in consecutive games — Allen should look like the player who lit the league on fire down the stretch in 2018. The Giants gave up the second-most fantasy points to the quarterback position last week, allowing Dak Prescott to accumulate 33.4 fantasy points on a 405/4/0 quarterback stat line and completing 78.1 percent of his passes with a 158.3 QBR. With John Brown posing as Buffalo’s big-play deep threat and Cole Beasley playing underneath in the slot — not to mention Zay Jones, who had a quiet Week 1 — expect a big game out of Allen in Week 2.
*I own Allen in a dynasty league in which I also roster Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers. I’m tempted to start Allen over both to show my faith in him this week.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.4
In his first regular-season game with new head coach Zac Taylor calling the shots, Andy Dalton had a monster game, completing 35-of-51 passes for 418 yards and a pair of scores with no picks a pair of lost fumbles. Not only did he finish as the QB13 with 20.7 fantasy points, but he accomplished that feat without A.J. Green. In fact, it was not Tyler Boyd but John Ross who ran wild and open all game long in the season opener posing a 7/ 158/ 2 line of his own. Did I mention that Dalton also did this on the road in a hostile environment in Seattle?
If you listen to me on the FF Faceoff Podcast, then you’ll know that I believe in Dalton as a quarterback and I also believe Zac Taylor is just what the doctor ordered for Dalton and the Bengals. And no, it is not because Taylor had a cup of coffee with Sean McVay either. It is because Taylor is a change. A change from a stale Marvin Lewis and also a young, offensive mind.
In his upcoming matchup at home against the 49ers, Dalton should be a bit more comfortable and could once again show-out, even without Green in the lineup. While the 49ers defense looked improved last week, they are playing o the road for the second-straight game to open the year. Moreover, the 49ers could have surrendered three touchdown passes to Jameis Winston in Week 1, but two were called back — both to Cameron Brate which is something Tyler Eifert owners should be taking note of. I’m buying Dalton and the Bengals in Week 2. He’s a lock start in Superflex formats and could be considered in deeper single QB leagues as well.
Week 2 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.2
Why do the 49ers carry a plethora of running backs? Because they can’t stay healthy. Already down Jerick McKinnon, who was lost in the preseason in consecutive years with recurring knee injuries, the 49ers also lost Tevin Coleman to an ankle injury in the season opener against the Buccaneers, which crushed my fantasy teams and my sleepers article.
However, I believe in Kyle Shanahan’s philosophies and his ability to generate productive backs no matter whose name is on the back of the jersey and the new RB1 is a player I fell in football love with last season, Matt Breida. One of the reasons why I fell for Breida is that he is a FOOTBALL PLAYER!!! How many times did we think he had one foot in the grave only to draw an active designation in the following game? I love his toughness and durability. I also love how effective he is with his opportunities.
Breida will get the Bengals on the road this week, a team that surrendered the 14th most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1 (19.9) in a loss to the Seahawks in which Chris Carson totaled 80 yards and a pair of scores on 21 touches (six receptions). Carson finished as the PPR RB8 with 24.1 points. While I’m not sure Breida will finish as an RB1, RB2 upside is not out of the question.
If Breida, who accumulated at least 10.1 PPR points in 8-of-14 games last season, is featured ahead of Raheem Mostert as the 49ers RB1 — and he is fully expected to be — expect an RB2 performance with fringe RB1 upside on Sunday from a player who finished 2018 as the No. 6 back in yards per touch (6.0) and the No. 9 back in true yards per carry (4.8).
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.4
While the Eagles backfield is crowded, I am still a believer in Jordan Howard in early-down and short-yardage situations. In the season opener, Howard logged eight touches, which was second on the team to both Darren Sproles and Miles Sanders, who drew 12 apiece. However, if you consider the game-slow — Philadelphia was playing from behind and forced to pass the ball — it makes sense that Howard’s usage was low.
In his upcoming matchup with the FalconsI expect Howard to not only bounce back, but he could return double-digit fantasy points and find the end zone. Why? I believe the game will be close. In the past three regular-season matchups between Philly and Atlanta, which were all played at the Eagles, the outcomes on close, which means Howard could be used to control the game. What’s more, the Falcons were lit up last week by Dalvin Cook for 120 total yards and two touchdowns on 23 touches (two receptions), finishing as the PPR RB4 with 26 fantasy points. While Howard won’t get all of it, he will get a piece of the action, especially on the goal line. Howard is an upside Flex option better suited in standard-scoring formats for Week 2.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.6
With Derrius Guice forced to miss extended time with a meniscus injury, Washington’s backfield will be employed by both Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. However, for their upcoming matchup with the Cowboys, I am putting my money safely on Thompson to be the better fantasy play. Yes, Peterson had a solid outing against the Cowboys the first time they played in 2018, posting 107 total yards on 25 touches, but the oft-injured Thompson was inactive due to injury. Surprise, surprise. But, when Thompson is healthy and active, he is one of the most dynamic pass-catching backs in the league.
In the season opener at Philadelphia, Thompson carried the ball three times for 10 yards and caught seven of a team-high 10 targets for 68 yards and finished as the RB14 in PPR scoring formats with 14.8 points. While I don’t expect much action from Thompson as a rusher — those carries will goto Peterson — I do believe the pass-catching back will be involved early and often as a receiver, especially if the Cowboys jump off to an early lead, forcing the Redskins to play from a negative script. Considering the Dallas pass-rush led by Demarcus Lawrence, Case Keenum may have to check down a ton, which bodes well for Thompson from a fantasy football perspective. As long as Thompson doesn’t succumb to injury on Sunday, accumulating double-digit PPR points should be a walk in the park.
Week 2 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 34.8
I was pessimistic about the Raiders sans Antonio Brown for a few reasons. Not only is he an elite talent and a tremendous loss on the field, but Brown’s off the field antics could do one of two things. Tear apart a locker room or force a team that no one had very much hope for to ultimately rally.
In Week 1, we saw the Raiders come together and rally behind Derek Carr, who is unequivocally their leader. Carr showed that Brown’s distractions could be overcome by leading Oakland to a win over the Broncos in a primetime Monday Night Football spot. Carr also showed that Tyrell Williams could be a reliable WR1. Hauling in 6-of-7 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown, Williams ended Week 1 as the WR17 with 22.5 PPR points.
Entering his upcoming matchup with the Chiefs, Williams could once again be busy. Let’s face it, the Chiefs are fully expected to jump off to an early lead and likely win the game, which means the Raiders will be playing within the proverbial negative game-script and passing a ton. And while Williams’ seven targets were good for second on the team to Darren Waller’s eight, it is safe to say that the former is the clear-cut No. 1 wideout ahead of ::yawn:: rookie fantasy darling Hunter Renfrow and veterans Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson.
Historically, Williams has had moderate success when matched up with the Chiefs, but he was in a different situation as he was the WR2 with the Chargers and sometimes the No. 3 or No. 4 passing option when considering Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and the running backs. Now, he is the No. 1 or at worst the No. 2 behind Waller. In his past two games against Kansas City while still a member of the Chargers, Williams has combined for an 8/79/1 line. Facing a Chiefs defense that allowed three different Jaguars wideouts to finish with at least 30 yards and a touchdown last week, Williams is in the back-end WR2 conversation for Week 2.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.9
Michael Gallup showed promise as a rookie in 2018, but after an outstanding offseason and an offensive coordinator change in Dallas, the second-year wideout appears to be coming into his own. In the season opener, Gallup led the Cowboys in targets (7), receptions (7), and yards (158). And although he didn’t score, he still managed to finish as the WR15 with 22.8 PPR points.
In his Week 2 matchup with the Redskins, Gallup, who is the Cowboys’ deep-ball receiver, could be in line for another big outing. With Josh Norman expected to be locked up with Amari Cooper, Gallup will likely draw Quinton Dunbar, who allowed DeSean Jackson to burn him for receptions for 154 yards and two scores on 10 targets last week. It could be a long afternoon for the Redskins’ defense. Gallup is a quality Flex option with fringe WR2 upside for Week 2.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.7
If you read my Josh Allen blurb above, you’ll know that the Giants were torched by Dak Prescott and Cowboys wideouts. You’ll also know that I believe Allen will have a big game. And if Allen plays well, John Brown could be the main beneficiary.
In the season opener, Brown accumulated a 7/123/1 stat line on a team-high 10 targets and finished as the PPR WR9 with 25.3 fantasy points. And while he might have a difficult time reaching the 20-point plateau again in consecutive weeks, his matchup with the Giants surely gives him that chance. Likely drawing Janoris Jenkins, who surrendered a 6/106/1 stat line on nine targets to Amari Cooper in Week 1, in coverage, we could see Brown go-off for another big score — he was good for a 38-yard touchdown against the Jets last week. Brown has legit WR2 upside in one of the best fantasy matchups for wide receivers and quarterbacks for this week’s slate of games.
Week 2 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 23.0
I’d like to take this time to talk about Darren Waller in my sleepers column before I can’t anymore. Not only is he more than likely the second-most reliable pass-catching asset on the Raiders that is not a running back or named Tyrell Williams, but he is also an emerging star. What’s more, if Jared Cook’s 2018 production wasn’t enough to convince you that Derek Carr is comfortable featuring the tight end, then perhaps Waller’s showing in the season opener should open your eyes some.
In Week 1, Waller finished as the TE7 with 14 PPR points on a 7/70/0 stat line on eight targets. In fact, Waller’s eight targets led the team overall in that category. He also played in all 55 of Oakland’s offensive snaps. He is a grinder who has earned the trust of Jon Gruden and most importantly of his QB1. In an interview with the media this week, Gruden said that “we’re going to get the ball to Waller” and also stated that the emerging tight end is a “special player.” I know I’m buying it.
Entering Week 2, Waller will get a soft matchup with the Chiefs, one that he is sure to exploit. Not only will Kansas City likely blow the game open early and force the Raiders to play within a negative game script and pass the ball early and often, but they also allowed Jaguars tight ends — James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim — to combine for an 8/49/0 stat line on nine targets. With opportunity and athleticism on his side, Waller is primed for a career game on Sunday against the Chiefs.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.0
I like whichever Redskins tight end draws the start this week against my Cowboys. First off, let’s touch on Jordan Reed, who missed the season opener with a concussion and is up in the air for Week 2. Currently, Washington beat writer John Keim is suggesting that the team has “more optimism” about Reed’s playing status against the Cowboys, but nothing is certain, which means if you’re a Vernon Davis owner, you’re sitting pretty right now.
Drawing TE1 status last week against the Eagles with Reed out, Davis caught 4-of-7 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown and finished the week as the TE5 with 11.9 standard fantasy points. Now, he will get a Cowboys defense that was lit up by Evan Engram in Week 1 with an 11/116/1 stat line on 14 targets and ultimately finished as the TE2 17.6 points. While the Dallas defense is one of the best in the league, their perennial weakness seems to be containing the tight end at times, which bodes well for Davis or Reed, especially since we can assume the Redskins will be chasing points and having to throw to keep up. Davis hung a 2/73/1 line on Dallas in their last matchup in November of 2018.
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.