Start’em Sit’em Week 2
Week one in the NFL always seems to be a wild week. That usually means that Week 2 is either about celebrating small victories are driving down the road to fantasy redemption. Whichever role you find yourself in, this is the Gridiron Experts Start’em Sit’em column and this will serve as your compass to victory in Week 2. As usual, there are plenty of injuries and emerging names to sift through following Week 1, so let’s get to some of those names that you should start and others that you should sit.
Recapping Week 1, the best pick of the week for me has to be the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott who finished with 405 passing yards and four touchdowns. Another good selection was the suggestion to sit Russel Wilson, who as suspected, wound up with fewer pass attempts than usual. No one is perfect however and that shined through on my selections of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard as starting options. Never the less, this week’s column is looking to help you break the fantasy bank, so let’s get to it.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Patriots @ Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 36.6%
Week 1 was an abomination for the Miami Dolphins as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens came into Miami and put up 59 points. While some Dolphin players reportedly have their agents scrambling for trades, there isn’t much time to waste. The Dolphins defense may not have known what hit them in Week 1, but this week presents a much more familiar foe as Tom Brady and the Patriots are coming to town. On Sunday night, Tom Brady would throw for 341 yards and three touchdowns. It would mark just the sixth time since 2017 where Brady would throw for three hundred plus yards and three or more touchdowns in a regular-season game. While Brady has been in the league for a long time, most recently, Miami has treated the Patriots quarterback well. In two out of his last three starts in Miami, Brady would wind-up finishing the fantasy week as a top-three quarterback. As if all of those numbers and the Dolphins disastrous Week 1 isn’t enough, Week 2 will serve as Antonio Brown’s debut as a Patriot. For at least another week, the sky will continue to fall in Miami.
Ravens vs. Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 37.5%
As previously mentioned, the Ravens tuned up the Dolphins by the score of 59-10. At the forefront of that melee in Miami was Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Shattering the preconceived notion that he was just a running quarterback, Jackson would throw for five touchdowns. This is even more impressive considering that Jackson threw for just six touchdowns in 2018. While I’m not expecting a repeat performance in Week 2, I do like his matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. In a Week 1 matchup that ended in a tie, the Cardinals allowed Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions to throw for 385 yards and three touchdowns. That performance would mark the first game Stafford threw for more than 350 passing yards since Week 4 of the 2017 season. Things won’t be much better for the Cardinals in Week 2 who will continue to play without Patrick Peterson who is serving a six-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. To reiterate, I do not suggest that Lamar Jackson is the next Pat Mahomes, but he is certainly a hot hand that is worth riding in Week 2.
Seahawks @ Steelers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 53.5%
Much to the dismay of Seahawks fans, for the second week in a row I have Russell Wilson as my quarterback that you should consider sitting. Week 2 will have the Seahawks playing another AFC North team but this time it will take place in Pittsburgh, against the Steelers. While the Steelers did make Tom Brady look terrific again in Week 1, this sit recommendation again has more to do the Seahawks offensive philosophy. In a one-point win against the Bengals last week, Wilson had just 20 pass attempts. Granted, he still managed two touchdowns and was four yards shy of 200 passing yards, I envision this game against the Steelers being more of a Chris Carson and James Conner smash-fest. Envisioning two weeks in a row with minimal passing attempts has me yet again listing Wilson as a sit candidate.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
49ers @ Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 14.4%
During the 49ers victory against the Buccaneers in Week 1, free-agent acquisition, Tevin Coleman had left the game with an ankle injury. As of this writing, the most recent report on Coleman was that he was due to undergo an MRI on Monday and that Kyle Shanahan was “concerned” about his running back. In his potential absence, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert will look to fill the void when the 49ers will serve as the Bengals first home opponent of the 2019 season. While the Bengals certainly played a lot tougher in Week 1 than experts had predicted, they still allowed a running and a rushing score to Seahawks running back, Chris Carson. Thanks to those touchdowns, even with subpar rushing and receiving yards, Carson will still finish Week 1 as one of the better fantasy running backs.
I think two things work in the favor of the 49ers running backs in this one. One element to the 49ers likely gameplan is that Shanahan is going to need to develop this running game to help open up play-action for an inconsistent Jimmy Garoppolo. The other thing in this matchup is that the 49ers won’t have to suffer through the dreaded trip from Santa Clara to Cincinnati as they will be spending the week in Ohio. Breida has big-play ability and regardless of Coleman’s status, I think we see Breida with a big play or two in this one.
Chargers @ Lions
ESPN Starting Percentage: 59.5%
While Week 1 has left us with many questions, one question that didn’t need answering was if the Chargers would end up missing Melvin Gordon. In a matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, Austin Ekeler would manage three touchdowns on just 18 total touches. Up next for Chargers is a road game against the Detroit Lions. In Week 1, the Lions took on the Cardinals in Arizona and for the first time in the last three years, David Johnson had a Week 1 worth talking about. Much like Ekeler against the Colts, Johnson was utilized in both the rushing and the receiving game to the tune of 137 total yards and a touchdown. Week 1 was no fluke and Ekeler will continue to be a fixture in this Chargers offense. If you managed to draft Ekeler with the anticipation of a Melvin Gordon holdout, continue to enjoy the fruits of your opportunistic ways.
Bears @ Broncos
ESPN Starting Percentage: 66.6%
I want to make one thing clear here, I’m a fan of Bears running back, David Montgomery. That being said, I do not like his Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos. The first element to this is the Bears head coach, Matt Nagy. Several of us in the fantasy industry are hoping that Nagy has watched the Week 1 game-film and has seen the error in his ways with just giving Montgomery seven total touches. I think that the learning curve for Nagy will take at least one more frustrating week for fantasy owners. Given Montgomery’s frustrating usage, I don’t think we can look to Josh Jacobs’s Monday night performance as a sign of hope. It is important to note that Jacobs and his strong fantasy output also came behind 24 carries. On top of the carries, Jacobs doesn’t have to worry about sharing a backfield with Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. I also expect this Broncos front seven recover from their Week 1 performance. Since 2011, Vic Fangio defenses have had an averaged in the top 10 in fewest rushing yards allowed. I don’t mean to discourage the Montgomery owner as another bad outing is likely to have some hitting the panic button, but this week is not the week to put him out there. If this pick pans out, and you find a Montgomery owner who wants to trade the Bears back, feel free to buy-low as better days are ahead.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Patriots @ Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 48.1%
Listen, there aren’t many times that you can use the percentages that I use and nominate Antonio Brown as a start option, so excuse me for taking full advantage of it. Is Antonio Brown a few eggs short of a full carton, probably. Did Antonio Brown orchestrate his release from the Raiders, most likely. All of that being said, Brown is as talented as he is crazy and one thing that fantasy football and the NFL do have in common, it is about winning. Vilified or not, Antonio Brown gives you a tremendous chance to win as the Patriots head into Miami to take on the Dolphins. Much like I mentioned earlier, the Dolphins were completely torched by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. The Dolphins will put up a fight at some point this season, but it will not come in Week 2 and I’m advising that you start almost all of your Patriot shares. People can compare Brown’s stint with New England to be like Chad Ochocinco’ Patriots tenure all they like but the reality is, Brown is far more talented than that and you would be ignorant to assume otherwise. For what it is worth, in two games against the Dolphins, Brown has nine receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Cardinals @ Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 16.7%
From sinners to saints, my next wide receiver start suggestion is Larry Fitzgerald. Most folks, myself included, had Fitzgerald pegged as a player who would ride off into the fantasy sunset with Christian Kirk taking over as the lead pass catcher for the Cardinals. After Week 1 however, some people may be looking to change their tune as Fitzgerald finished with eight receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers had the future hall of fame receiver finishing just outside the top 10 wide receivers in half-point formats. It is also important to point out that a majority of Fitzgerald’s targets came late in the game as Kyler Murray played his best. Opposing the Cardinals is the Ravens and while they will have one of the better defenses in the league this year, I fully expect Kyler Murray to give the Ravens more problems than Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen did. Murray had 54 pass attempts in Week 1 and that tells me not only is Kliff Kingsbury unafraid to let his rookie throw the ball, it also says that perhaps there is more volume for Fitzgerald than we may have initially foreseen. Make no mistake, Kirk still has plenty of value in fantasy, but Fitzgerald does deserve flex consideration.
Chiefs @ Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 32.1%
I must admit, I have never been one of the biggest Sammy Watkins supporters. Week 1 certainly put me in my place though as Watkins would finish with nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Now comes the news that Tyreek Hill is going to miss a few weeks with a collarbone injury. Plain and simple, being a number one wide receiver in an offense such as the Chiefs is prime fantasy football real estate. In regards to the Chiefs next opponent, the Raiders finished 2018 in the top ten in most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. While the Raiders prevailed over the Broncos on Monday night, they also allowed both Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton to finish just outside the top twenty at the wide receiver position. On a related note, if you are in deeper leagues, you should be looking for Mecole Hardman on your league’s waiver wire.
Vikings @ Packers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 82.2%
Last week, Stefon Diggs began his 2019 season with just two receptions for 37 yards. Up next for the Vikings is a road game against the Green Bay Packers. Last week, with the exception of Allen Robinson, the Packers kept Bears wide receivers in check as they allowed Taylor Gabriel and Cordarrelle Patterson to have a combined three receptions. While most folks are citing the Bears offensive woes having more to do with their own play-calling, I think that the Packers defense is going to be an issue for opposing teams. Back to Diggs’ Week 1 numbers, I’m linking some of his struggles to a hamstring issue that had him sitting out of practice on Wednesday of last week. I would not be surprised to see Diggs miss another day or two of practice this week and either way, I think you are dealing with another disappointing week out of Diggs.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Lions vs. Chargers
ESPN Starting Percentages: 6.5%
In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, T.J. Hockenson was one of the most talked-about weapons on the offensive side of the ball. When it came around to fantasy draft season, however, Hockenson was a name that went unmentioned. Hockenson is now back to being a player that people are talking about after his fantastic debut against the Arizona Cardinals. In that matchup against the Cardinals, Hockenson finished with six receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. His nine targets would have him finishing tied for second in targets among Lions pass catchers and I think that bleeds into the Lions Week 2 matchup against the Chargers. It should be noted however that the Chargers generally played well against the tight end position. In 2018, the Chargers allowed the fourteenth fewest points to the position. In Week 1, the Chargers allowed just two receptions to both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron. All of that being said, I think that Stafford seeing Hockenson as a prime target will win out over the Chargers history against the tight ends. If you are having issues at the position, feel free to pick up and start Hockenson.
Browns @ Jets
ESPN Starting Percentages: 60.0%
Last week, I had nominated David Njoku as a player that you should sit and thanks to a touchdown, he burned me a bit. Regardless of that, I’m still looking at Njoku as a player that you should sit in Week 2 as the Browns prepare to make things right against the New York Jets. Last season, the Jets allowed the fewest receptions and the second-fewest yards to tight ends. That appeared to bleed into Week 1 of this season as the Jets allowed little to nothing to Bills tight ends. Grant you, the Buffalo Bills tight ends are far from the level of Njoku, but I still expect the Jets to shut him down. With emerging players like Mark Andrews and the previously mentioned, T.J. Hockenson, you can do better elsewhere in Week 2.
Start’em Sit’em Defense
Texans vs. Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentages: 13.1%
Injuries are a part of the game, and they are ugly. The Jacksonville Jaguars would have to agree with that statement following their newly signed quarterback, Nick Foles breaking his collarbone. Gardner Minshew filled in admirably for Foles as he threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns. This was against a Chiefs defense that routinely struggled last season and I do not think that Minshew will be as lucky in Week 2 against the Houston Texans. I will grant you that the Texans defense didn’t look lights out against the Saints, but then again, there aren’t many defenses that do. If you own a defense with a tough matchup this week, the Texans defense are worth looking at.
Rams vs. Saints
ESPN Starting Percentages: 85.3%
Quite simply, the Rams are going to be going up against the dynamic offense that is the New Orleans Saints. Last season, when the Rams took on the Saints in Week 9, the Rams defense would wind up finishing the week outside of the top 20 in scoring at the position. Much like suggesting that you sit the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1, it would be great if you had a deep enough bench to sit the Rams and start another defense. Either way, I don’t see the Rams have a great DST week.