Week 2 of fantasy football kicks off with many owners hoping and praying Rob Gronkowski gets healthy. They also hope that Travis Benjamin embraces his new No. 1 WR role for the Chargers; that Spencer Ware's big game last week wasn't a flash in the pan; and the Vikings put in Sam Bradford. That move alone leaves fantasy owners hoping Adrian Peterson isn't the worst mistake they made in round 1 of their draft.
Drafting is just a small part of the winning equation for fantasy football. The waiver wire and your sit/start decisions are what makes or breaks your league standings. Trades are also a part of it, but most people don't do trades unless they feel like they are clearly winning in the deal. With that said, I'm going to tell all Willie Snead owners to sell high on him RIGHT NOW.
Snead went berserk in Week 1, racking up 172 yards and a touchdown on his 9 receptions. Snead is the No. 2 WR in New Orleans, but those yards are almost certain to be his season high as defenses will game plan to limit him going forward.
On the other side, I'd buy low on Peterson and consider putting in a waiver claim on Patriots WR Chris Hogan if he is available. He is a BIGTIME sleeper of mine. Lastly, Seahawks Coach Pete Carrol announced on Wednesday that Thomas Rawls would start Week 2, pushing Christine Michael to the bench. Get Michael out of your lineups.
Blake Bortles– Jaguars: Bortles is as legit as it comes for a QB, yet he gets little to no respect from national media. What more does he need to do outside of opening the season with 320 yards, 1 Touchdown, and 1 Interception? The yards were 8th-best to open the season, and the TD/INT were even with "elite" QBs Russell Wilson and Cam Newton.
This week Bortles gets a Chargers defense that gave up 34.90 to Spencer Ware in Week 1, another 24.00 points to their starting WRs, and another 13.40 to their TEs. Beyond that, it's going to be real interesting to see how the team responds to losing Keenan Allen for the season. That kind of blow can affect not only the offense, but the defense as well if the offense fails to move the ball. I'm saying it now, Bortles finishes Week 2 as a QB1.
Derek Carr – Raiders: Carr has a chance this season to really break out and finish as a top-10 fantasy QB. He has Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree at WR, Latavius Murray at RB, a sneaky sleeper TE in Clive Walford, and a defense that should allow him to not be on the field the whole game.
This week he draws the Falcons, whose defense gave up 4 TDs and 281 yards to Jameis Winston last week. Winston is no slouch, but Carr is a better QB with just as good of weapons to throw to. Put him in the low-end QB1 category this week.
Spencer Ware – Chiefs: Ware showed in Week 1 that there will be no committee needed in Kansas City this season as he punched up 199 total yards and a touchdown. Obviously, that is a tall order for him to fulfill every week, but he showed everyone that he is more than capable of handling the every-down back role for the Chiefs.
This week he gets a tough Texans defense, but should once again do well in PPR formats as a check-down option for Alex Smith. Start him with confidence as a RB1.
Danny Woodhead – Chargers: Speaking of PPR beasts, Woodhead is someone I would trade for before he goes off again this season. With the Chargers struggling to find a groove on offense without a true WR1, Woodhead should be able to match his 81/756/6 receiving line from last season. He has more value in PPR formats than standard, so make sure you are playing him in the right league.
I'd consider him an RB2/3 in standard formats this week, and a strong RB2 in PPR formats going forward.
Jordan Matthews – Eagles: Carson Wentz put up impressive numbers in his first career start, completing 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Matthews was on the receiving end of 14 of those throws, hauling in 7 of them for 114 yards and a touchdown. He is clearly Wentz's go-to guy, and that will only increase now that Zach Ertz is out for multiple games.
I'd consider Matthews a strong WR2 play with upside into the WR1 category against the Bears' weak secondary.
Doug Baldwin – Seahawks: Baldwin put up great numbers (9/92/1) despite overall poor play by Wilson, who was struggling with an ankle injury all game. There are also rumors circulating that the Seahawks have remained in constant contact with QB Tarvaris Jackson, making fantasy owners wonder just how bad Wilson's ankle injury really is.
The Rams got embarrassed by a terrible 49ers offense in Week 1, both on offense and on defense. With the Rams unable to move the ball on offense, the defense spends too much time on the field and gets tired early on because of it. That's important because WRs like Baldwin have a prime opportunity to abuse their secondary week in and week out. Look for Baldwin to be a strong WR2 play with upside.
Gary Barnidge – Browns: The loss of Robert Griffin is a blessing in disguise for the Browns offense. Josh McCown is a capable QB right now, whereas RGIII keeps drawing an NFL paycheck because of the player he once was. McCown made Barnidge a Pro-Bowl TE last season, so there is little reason to think he can't do it again this season.
Barnidge vaults right into the top-5 TEs, and is a must-start going forward.
Baltimore Ravens defense: I know I just said Barnidge is a must-start, but one player does not a team make. The Browns running game is far from imposing, their WRs feature a rookie (Corey Coleman), a former QB bust (Terrelle Pryor), and a guy who disappears during games in Andrew Hawkins. Even though the Ravens don't have the defense they once did, there is nothing on the Browns depth chart that scares you.
I'm playing the Ravens as a streamer defense in most of my leagues, and suggest you do the same. If they're unavailable, give the Jaguars D a look.
Brock Osweiler – Texans: Osweiler was solid in Week 1, throwing for 231 yards and 2 TDs. He did throw 1 INT though, that anyone watching saw coming from a mile away. The real problem that I have with him is he was just solid against a terrible Bears secondary. This week he takes on a MUCH tougher Chiefs defense that held Philip Rivers in check last week.
He's much more of a QB2 than a fringe QB1.
Philip Rivers – Chargers: Speaking of Rivers, there are big questions about how the offense responds to the loss of Allen again this season. Travis Benjamin is more of a #2 WR than the #1 role he is thrust into now; Dontrelle Inman managed just 35 catches in essentially the same role last year; Tyrell Williams is interesting from a fantasy standpoint, but still not someone who has proven anything in the NFL; Antonio Gates is a redzone threat, not a go-to guy between the 20's.
Danny Woodhead gets a major boost in value in my books, but for me he isn't someone that is going to propel Rivers back into the QB1 rankings. I'd consider him a risky QB2 until we see how the offense responds.
Duke Johnson – Browns: There was a lot of offseason hype about Johnson in the new Browns offense. Instead of proving he deserves a bigger role in the offense, Johnson ran the ball 3 times for 22 yards and caught 3 of 5 targets for 28 yards against a not-so-good Eagles defense. I know it was just Week 1, but how can we really believe he will do better against the Ravens this week?
Johnson has some PPR value in deeper formats, but shouldn't be considered a fantasy play until he shows more of a defined role in Hue Jackson's offense.
Giovani Bernard – Bengals: The problem Bernard will have this season is finding his role behind Jeremy Hill in the running game, and fighting for targets behind AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Brandon LaFell, and possibly even Tyler Boyd in the passing game. I truly believe the Bengals have to find a way to get Bernard the ball given his playmaking ability, but that is easier said than done in a running offense.
Bernard is a risky flex play this week against the Steelers. He could go off if the Steelers get ahead and the Bengals throw, but that was the case last week and he failed to show up on the fantasy radar.
Dez Bryant – Cowboys: I laid out in the recap article this week why Bryant is one of the more overrated fantasy players out there. If he doesn't score a touchdown, he isn't worth playing because he doesn't get 100-plus yards 9 times out of 10. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, Dak Prescott looked like a true rookie when the preseason was over and the Giants threw a non-vanilla defense at him in Week 1.
With QB problems, a running offense, and a QB that only has eyes for TE Jason Witten, Bryant is someone I would try and trade given his name value.
Willie Snead – Saints: Snead broke out last week, but that is why I'm telling fantasy owners to be aware and beware about playing him this week. It's not that the Giants have an imposing secondary that will shut the Saints passing attack down. Rather, it is not logical to think Cooks and Snead will both break 125-plus yards and a TD again in Week 2.
Snead is more of a cautionary tale in that people are going to view him as a WR1 based on his numbers last week, but he is much more of a WR3 in fantasy terms. He took advantage of poor tackling and blown assignments by the Raiders, something that isn't going to happen every week in the NFL.
Coby Fleener – Saints: Fleener had a pedestrian preseason, catching 4 of 6 targets for 27 yards on 63 snaps. Those dismal numbers followed him into Week 1 where he finished with 6 yards on 1 reception. The problem is he seems to be having trouble adjusting to the Saints playbook, which is causing him to lose a prime opportunity to excel in a pass-heavy offense with a future Hall of Fame QB.
Until he locks down the system, Fleener is little more than a stash in fantasy leagues. Once he does though, he could be a TE1 if Drew Brees trusts him.
Los Angeles Rams defense: The Rams-49ers game was one of the hardest games I've ever had to watch in my life. If Jared Goff is so unready for the NFL that he is the Rams' No. 2 QB on their official depth chart, and a healthy scratch in Week 1, someone in the front office is going to get fired.
I talked about why offense dictates a defense's performance with Baldwin above. If the Rams defense finished Week 1 ranked outside of the top 20 fantasy defenses, despite playing one of the worst offenses in the NFL, imagine what they will do against a well-coached offense with legit playmakers in the Seahawks. I'd stay as far away from them as humanly possible unless something drastic changes in L.A.