Week 2 Sleepers And Busts
Well… That was fun. Week 1 was definitely not short on big-time performances from some unexpected players and a few big-time busts from long-time fantasy assets. If we are going to walk away from 2019 Week 1 with any kind of take, let it be that no matter how hard we try, there is only so much that we will be right on because ultimately there is no control. There is only the process and the result. A big thing when looking for the Week 2 Sleepers and Busts.
Process: Do your best to find quality matchups across your team to best set yourself up for victory. Result: Watch people we do not know attempt to do things we can not do and hope that one of many different factors do not get in the way of fantasy points being scored. So, let us use process to hopefully find good results to take advantage of and bad results to avoid.
Mecole Hardman vs Oakland Raiders
This one seems somewhat obvious following the news that Tyreek Hill will be missing some time due to injury. Since Hill has been in the league, he has been a hyper-efficient elite wide receiving weapon and if we go back to the 2019 NFL draft when the future of Hill was in question, at least as far as we know, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted a player in a similar mold of their former West Alabama and newly extended WR in Mecole Hardman from Georgia. Hardman scored 13 times on just 73 touches and averaged 16 yards per reception while in school. Both players were short on production in college but hyper-athletic. Hardman is not on the same level but still showed us in the pre-season that he can be an effective scoring option scoring twice on 7 touches.
We saw that Sammy Watkins, as one would expect, is the clear number 1 WR in Hill’s absence logging 9 receptions on 11 targets for 198 yards and 3 targets. How much more can they ask Sammy to do? Travis Kelce and the running backs are always going to get theirs. 10 receptions on 15 targets in Week 1. Hardman may have not seen anything near the Tyreek Hill workload but he did play on over 70% of the team’s offensive snaps (53). Only Sammy Watkins played more snaps than Hardman among the skill position players. Hardman is a Kansas City Chief starting WR for the next few weeks. That has some appeal, right?
Reasons For Hope
Kansas City will take on the Raiders in Week 2 and despite them looking decent on defense for much of their Monday night game, they did not see an offense anywhere near the caliber they will in KC. Oakland gave up 5 receptions for 86 yards and a TD to Emmanuel Sanders in Week 1 and will have their hands full with all the other weapons KC brings. Hardman will see an increase in volume, which was 0 in Week 1 almost certainly because it is hard to play that many snaps and not see anything. There is the possibility for a few rushing attempts as well. KC used the rookie in a similar fashion to Hill in the pre-season. Tyreek Hill essentially took everyone by surprise and Hardman has a shot to do just that in Week 2.
You can see that Andy Reid is highly effective at using a player of this skillset. (Data and PPOppo Chart provided by FFStatistics.com)
|Player||Position Target Rank||Position Rank||Difference|
|2016||Tyreek Hill, WR||57||23||34|
|2017||Tyreek Hill, WR||24||9||15|
|2018||Tyreek Hill, WR||12||3||9|
Miles Sanders vs Atlanta Falcons
Now, if you were to just look at the final statistics from the Philidelphia Eagles first game, you would probably say that it appears to be a full-on committee. That may have been true in Week 1 and because, again, we do not have any control, could be the case moving forward but the timeshare in a high-powered offense can actually be consistent and productive for fantasy.
Week 1 Snap Counts
- Miles Sanders-36
- Jordan Howard-17
- Darren Sproles-23
- Corey Clement-3
You can see above that even though it may not have been the most productive fantasy day, Sanders led all Eagles RBs in snaps against the Washington Redskins. In the game, the rookie led the group with 13 opportunities, tied for the team lead in touches with 12 but he was out produced by the other running backs so one would walk away from this thinking Sanders might be third in line. Let us not forget that he had a touchdown called back due to a holding call and almost scored on another carry that was later finished off by Alshon Jeffrey. He received 2 straight carries from inside the five-yard line as well. The day could have been much better looking.
Week 2 Matchup
We just watched Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison run through, around, and over the Atlanta Falcons run defense to the point that Kirk Cousins only had to throw 10 passes in the game. The Vikings RBs totaled 32 attempts on the ground with 168 combined rushing yards and 2 TDs. Cook also saw 2 targets and hauled both in for 9 more yards. Not a great increase for PPR leagues but remember that they only threw 10 passes total. Atlanta has been bad in recent years against pass-catching RBs (139 targets to RBs in 2018) and with the game being in Atlanta, the falcons should put up a bit more of a fight against a talented but less than stellar defense in Philly.
This could provide more opportunity for the running backs to be involved in the passing game and even if Sproles leads the group, Sanders still received only 1 fewer target in Week 1. If Atlanta looks like it did in Week 1 though, Sanders should get a bit more work with a lead then he did in a surprisingly close game against the Redskins.
Giovani Bernard vs San Francisco 49ers
FFStatistics Splits DataTable – Giovani Bernard
You can see above what Gio has done without Joe Mixon in the lineup. This one kind of depends on the health of Joe Mixon. If Mixon is out there, Bernard will be nothing more than he normally is. But, if Mixon were to miss time, Bernard could be in for a big day against the 49ers. For a lot of the same reasons that I had Peyton Barber as a sleeper in Week 1, which did not work out because the 49ers defense scored more than either team’s offense, but there was running back production to be had in the game despite the deficit on the scoreboard.
(Ground (Attempts/Yards rushing/TDs), Air (Targets/Receptions/Yards/TDs)
- Peyton Barber-Ground (8/33/0) Air (4/2/12/0)
- Ronald Jones-Ground (13/75/0) Air (1/1/18/0)
- Dare Ogumbowala-Ground (0/0/0) Air (5/4/33/0)
- Total-Ground (21/108/0) Air (10/7/63/0)
That type of output is withing Gio’s skillset and just a rookie to back him up. The 49ers allowed 132 targets to the RB position last season and they were turned into 99 receptions for 798 yards and 3 TDs. Bernard will not get the full workload as TrayVeon Williams should get some touches but a 60-65% workload is well within reach.
Malcolm Brown vs New Orleans Saints
So this is a timeshare now right? Maybe… Maybe not. let us look a little deeper at the game than just the stats.
- Todd Gurley – 54 (70.1%)
- Malcolm Brown – 21 (27.3%)
- Darrell Henderson – 2 (2.6%)
Touches/ Yards/ TDs/ Receptions/ Targets
- Todd Gurley – 15/ 101/ 0/ 1/1
- Malcolm Brown – 11/53/2/ 0/ 0
- Darrell Henderson – 1/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0
Gurley received the first three drives of the game and it was not until a Carolina Panthers fumble deep in their own territory two minutes into the second quarter that Malcolm Brown came in the game. He received both touches from the ten-yard line in and scored. Earlier in the offseason, Sean McVay and his staff had expressed a desire to use Gurley in the most important situations. At the beginning of the game, passing opportunities (Gurley was in the game on every passing play), when the game is close, the Rams are behind, or to close out a victory type scenarios.
This is essentially how the game played out. When the Panthers offense could do almost nothing and the Rams were either tied at zero or had a lead is when Malcolm Brown was called in to cap off a gift-wrapped TD. There is no reason to pound Todd Gurley into the line there. As the game progressed and the Panthers inched closer and closer the last years NFC champ, the usage went from a near 50/50 in the middle of the game to TG3 getting carry after carry to salt the game away. He looked good doing it as well with runs of 17, 15, 7, and 2 yards on four straight attempts that set the Rams up for another score. He was also in the game on the last few drives to finish out the win.
The Rams will take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon and there should be no shortage of points, yards, and opportunities to be had. If the trend of Gurley on almost all passing downs and the most important snaps, this game should be riddled with them. On the flip side, If Brown is only going to play significant snaps if the Rams have a lead and not on passing downs, then his opportunity should be limited even more. The Saints have a high powered offense capable of keeping pace with or even taking the lead on the Rams. This should keep Gurley out there. Also, the Saints have a solid run defense that only allowed 100 or more yards four times all year. TG3 may have had very limited production in last years playoff meeting with the Saints but he did score the TD.
Do not be fooled and think that you have a high-end flex option or anything other than a very high-end handcuff. Gurley could have been warming up that knee and received a light workload as Ezekiel Elliott did in Week 1 following his holdout. After all, Gurley did not receive a touch in the pre-season so he is possible a little rusty and just needed a blow. Even limited touches (15-20) comparatively to the 25-30 we are used to seeing can still be very good for fantasy if he is healthy and in the McVay system.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Baltimore Ravens
Larry Fitzgerald showed everyone why is still a high-level receiver in Week 1. The Future Hall Of Famer caught 8/13 targets for 113 yards and 1 TD against the Detroit Lions. The opposition will be at a slightly elevated level in Week 2 when the Arizona Cardinals travel to meet the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore allowed just 211 total yards and 12 first downs while forcing 3 turnovers and surrendering just 10 points. Granted, it was the Miami Dolphins that they faced, 190 yards through the air and 21 on the ground are certainly impressive and Ryan Fitzpatrick can have himself a day at the most random times. Baltimore’s defense is legit.
The Ravens allowed just 2 receptions on 4 targets for 13 yards to Miami’s primary slot target, Albert Wilson. Wilson did suffer a calf injury in the game and he is nowhere near the player Fitzgerald has been for years but Wilson has shown to be one of the most electric and efficient pass-catching options in the league. The Ravens shut down the Dolphins passing game until the very end when rookie Preston Williams was able to score.
The Rookie QB
Baltimore’s defense will get its first crack at the highly touted rookie QB Kyler Murray who until, about the fourth quarter of the Week 1 game with the Lions, looked every bit the rookie he is. Some of the jitters should be gone but Baltimore will be looking to rattle the young quarterback. Murray should look for Fitzgerald often as a bail-out option but the Baltimore D will be expecting it. In two meetings with the Ravens under John Harbaugh, Fitzgerald has caught just 6/10 targets for 137 total yards and 0 TDs.
Baltimore had 3 sacks in the first game and Arizona has a poor offensive line that Murray can account somewhat for with mobility but let us also remember that Earl Thomas is a Raven now. Thomas is not only still one of the best safeties in the game but he is also very well acquainted with Fitzgerald from his many years as a Seattle Seahawk.
Devonta Freeman vs Philidelphia Eagles
Freeman will take on an Eagles team that allowed just 28 yards on the ground in Week 1. Freeman carried the ball 8 times for 19 yards in Week 1 and even though he did catch 3 of 4 targets, they went for just 12 yards. He failed to cross the goal line and also had a fumble. This was against a very tough Minnesota Vikings defense but the Eagles showed that at least on the ground, their D can be just as effective as it traditionally is. It has been a while since we have seen Devonta Freeman do what he is capable of doing do to some ware and tare on his slightly undersized frame. You can see below that he has been on a steady downward trend over the last four seasons since he finished as the number 1 RB.
Freeman will also be contending with Ito smith for touches and following his fumble against the Vikings, Smith started to see a lot more work. The two RBs equally split snaps in the first game (39/39) and Smith was largely more effective on his opportunities with 7 touches for 40 yards. Nothing impressive but more effective then what Freeman produced. Freeman will still likely be the lead ball carrier but we still could see a close to equal split in terms of snaps. Hope for a goal-line carry.
Week 1 came and went and man it feels good to be knee-deep in Week 2 already. Hopefully, this helps you when you have to make some tough choices heading into the games on Sunday. If you are like me, you are trying to find a little upside because you took it on the chin in Week 1 due to the loss of a big-time performer. Maybe you have a close matchup and need to make a tough choice between two players. Whatever the scenario may be, we can not complain. Football is back and Week 2 is about to get underway!
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