FFStatistics Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em: Week 2
Don’t overreact, don’t overreact, don’t overreact… I’M GONNA OVERREACT! What a weird Week 1. Lamar Jackson is actually an all-time great passer. The Browns are going to go 0-16 again. Cam Newton‘s arm is gonna fall off any time now. The 2018 rookie WR class is the best of all-time. So the reactions go. It is easy to get carried away with our reaction to the first week of the NFL season. The key is to glean through the data and find what is real and what is not.
Last week, we went 12-for-21, 57%, in terms of hit rate (not counting the three injuries). All-in-all, not a bad Week 1, all things considered. Things should get easier from here as we gain more data from this years’ teams. While it is not a lot to go on, it is the most relevant data we have.
Onward and upward to Week 2!
Tom Brady @ Miami Dolphins
Tom Bray is one of if not the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The last several seasons in fantasy football, however, Brady has been inconsistent. Of course, what else can you expect from a 42-year-old QB? It also seemed like the Patriots were wanting to run the ball more in the last several seasons, ranking third, 11th, and third in 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively.
However, Brady started 2019 off with a bang, throwing for 341 yards and three TDs against the Pittsburgh Steelers. All of this was done without Antonio Brown, who is supposedly going to play in Week 2 (there have recently been rape charges leveled at AB, so keep an eye out for that).
Brady gets the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. The Dolphins have already become a joke in the fantasy community after they allowed the Baltimore Ravens to score 59 points, including 324 yards and 5 TDs on only 20 pass attempts to the “running” quarterback Lamar Jackson. Of course, this is a continuation of last season, when the Dolphins ranked 25th overall in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA and 23rd against the pass.
After he tore apart the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, Tom Brady is a must-start against a dismal Dolphins in Week 2.
Lamar Jackson vs. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson is the greatest passer alive! This, of course, is not true. However, Jackson did prove that he is much more than a Konami Code quarterback. And everyone will move the goalposts on him, saying “It was just the Miami Dolphins.” Regardless, Jackson threw the ball extremely well and he did not even need to run the ball, only rushing three times for six yards. Is Lamar Jackson that type of quarterback? No, and I doubt many expect him to be. Regardless, he proved he can throw.
Jackson gets another awesome matchup in Week 2. The Arizona Cardinals gave up 385 yards and 3 TDs through the air to Matthew Stafford and what was supposed to be a run-heavy Detroit Lions offense. It helps that the Cardinals had the fastest pace in seconds per snap by over two seconds. The Cardinals are still without their top two cornerbacks and will be for the first six weeks. They are vulnerable to the pass.
Lamar Jackson has a very safe floor because of his running ability. However, Week 1 he did not need to use his legs and that may also be the case in Week 2. He will be a top-10 QB in Week 2, whether on the ground or through the air.
Philip Rivers @ Detroit Lions
No Melvin Gordon, no problem. Another year, another good start for Philip Rivers with 333 yards and 3 TDs against the Colts. Rivers has been extremely consistent the last five seasons. The Colts ranked 10th overall in defensive DVOA last season and were supposed be better this season. Rivers just does not care. The absence of Gordon may also be a good thing for the Chargers, forcing them to throw more often. In Week 1, the Chargers threw 64% of the time.
Rivers will get a much better matchup in Week 2. The Lions allowed rookie Kyler Murray to throw for 308 yards and 2 TDs. This is nothing new from the Lions. They ranked second to last in terms of pass defense DVOA.
If a rookie can take apart the Lions pass defense, so should a very skilled veteran in Philip Rivers. Thus he is a start in Week 2.
Kyler Murray @ Baltimore Ravens
Kyler Murray had a great NFL debut, throwing for 308 yards and 2 TDs in a near comeback win in Week 1. Of course, he faced a Lions defense that was bad against the pass in 2018 and seemed to continue to be bad in 2018.
Unfortunately for Murray, he faces a very strong Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 2. Obviously, it is hard to say what the Ravens defense looks like after Week 1, because Dolphins. But, in 2018, the Ravens ranked third overall in defensive DVOA and third against the pass. They also gave up the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2018.
The rookie is going to get his real NFL welcome from the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. It will be a rough go for Murray, sit him.
Mitchell Trubisky @ Denver Broncos
Mitchell Trubisky had a rough start to the 2019 season. On national television, Trubisky was held to 228 yards on 45 attempts, 1 interception, and was sacked five times. That entire game was ugly, as the final score was 10-3.
Week 2 does not get much easier. The Broncos ranked fourth in pass defense DVOA in 2018. They did struggle a bit in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, but they still held Derek Carr to 259 yards and 1 TD. That was without starting linebacker Todd Davis and starting cornerback Bryce Callahan. The Broncos also have one of the most formidable pass-rush duos in Bradley Chubb and Von Miller.
The Bears are headed into another defensive showdown, which is not good news for Mitchell Trubisky. Sit him in Week 2.
Kirk Cousins @ Green Bay Packers
Kirk Cousins only threw 10 times in Week 1, completing eight for 98 yards and 1 TD. The Vikings did not need Cousins to throw as they dominated on the ground, running 38 times for 172 yards and 3 TDs. The Vikings defense also dominated the Atlanta Falcons, holding them to 12 points. Do not get it twisted though. Cousins has been great since becoming a starter in the NFL. Over the last four seasons, he has finished as a QB1 and thrown for over 4,000 yards and 25 or more touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Cousins faces a difficult matchup in Week 2. The Packers are coming off of a game where they held Mitchell Trubisky to 228 yards on 45 attempts and 1 INT. While Cousins crushed the Packers last season to the tune of 767 yards and 7 TDs in two games, this Packers defense is better than they were last season. The Vikings also emphasized in the offseason that they want to run the ball more.
Cousins can be effective in Week 2. He just won’t get the volume nor will he be facing the Packers of 2018. Sit him.
Sony Michel @ Miami Dolphins
LOL Dolphins! I simply could use this as the reason for starting Sony Michel and you would except it. I won’t, but the point still stands. The Dolphins are in full “Tank for Tua” mode as demonstrated by their 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did they allow Lamar Jackson to throw for five touchdowns, but the Dolphins also allowed the Ravens rushing attack, led by Mark Ingram, to run for 265 yards and two touchdowns. In 2018, the Dolphins allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs and ranked 23rd in DVOA against the run. So, same old same old.
Despite the frustrating start for Michel in Week 1 (15 carries for 14 yards), he still led the Patriots backfield in touches. What people don’t seem to realize is that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was actually effective against the run. They ranked eighth in DVOA against the run and allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to RBs.
This is the perfect bounce-back game for Michel. The Patriots will likely go up big early and use Michel to milk the clock. Michel is safe to start in Week 2.
Miles Sanders @ Atlanta Falcons
Doud Pederson does not care about your fantasy football team. He uses as many RBs as he wants. When Miles Sanders was drafted by the Eagles, you could here the combined cry of anguish from those who have dealt with the frustration. Three Eagles running backs received significant touches in Week 1. Sanders received the most carries but fell behind Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles in targets. The 36-year-old Sproles was by far the most effective with his touches. Sanders also saw the highest snap share of the Eagles RBs.
Expect a more effective game from Sanders in Week 2. The Atlanta Falcons were just thrashed by Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and company to the tune of 172 yards and 3 TDs on 38 carries. The Vikings were so effective on the ground that QB Kirk Cousins only had to throw 10 times. The Falcons also ranked 30th in DVOA against the run in 2018. They gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs as well.
Miles Sander will have a breakout game sooner rather than later. My bet is sooner. The Falcons are susceptible to giving up big games to RBs. Thus, Sanders is a start in Week 2.
Kerryon Johnson vs. Los Angeles Chargers
There has been a lot overreaction around Kerryon Johnson after Week 1. He had a less than stellar week with only 49 yards on 16 carries on the ground and only two targets against an Arizona Cardinals defense that gave up the most fantasy points to RBs in 2018. Of course, the Cardinals were much more susceptible through the air due to their top two cornerbacks being out, so the Lions took advantage of that. CJ Anderson was also given 11 carries, which is worrying.
Regardless, Kerryon has a spectacular matchup in Week 2. The Los Angeles Chargers gave up 174 yards and 1 TD on 25 carries to Marlon Mack in Week 1. They were also not good against the run in 2018, giving up the 11th-most fantasy points and the most receiving yards to RBs. Meanwhile, they were much more effective against the pass, ranking 10th in DVOA and giving up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to QBs.
Kerryon is also in for a bounce-back game. The Chargers are not good against the run and the Lions will likely have to lean on him. Start in Week 2
Royce Freeman vs. Chicago Bears
Royce Freeman looked good with the ball in his hands on Monday night. Unfortunately, the game script did not really allow him to get a ton of touches. Still, he ran for 56 yards on 10 carries and caught his lone target for 5 yards. Unfortunately, Freeman’s ceiling is capped because of the presence of Phillip Lindsay, who also takes most of the passing work. The good news, however, is that Freeman and Lindsay are in a near 50/50 split when it comes to snap share, much different than last season.
Freeman is startable most weeks in the flex because of his snap share. Just not this week. The Bears are the best defense in the NFL. They held the Packers 10 points in Week 1. They held Aaron Jones to 39 yards on 13 carries and 1 target. The Bears ranked second in DVOA against the run in 2018 and allowed fewest fantasy points to RBs.
The Bears are an avoid for most fantasy assets, and it is not different for Royce Freeman in Week 2.
Devonta Freeman vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Devonta Freeman is a favorite of many to jump back into the RB1 conversation in 2019. Unfortunately, he starts out with two very difficult matchups. In Week 1, the Vikings held Freeman to 19 yards on 8 carries and another 12 yards on 4 targets. Of course, the Vikings held the Falcons scoreless until the fourth quarter. It just was not a good game for the Falcons offense.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much easier for Freeman in Week 2. The Eagles have been good against the run the past couple of seasons. in 2017, they ranked second in DVOA against the run. In 2018, they ranked ninth. They allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs in 2017 and the 10th-fewest in 2018. The success continued in Week 1, as the Eagles only allowed 28 yards rushing on 13 carries to the Washington Football Club.
Devonta Freeman will have a good season. It just won’t start of fantastic. Sit Freeman in Week 2.
David Johnson @ Baltimore Ravens
This is not really a choice for David Johnson owners. Treat this more as a caution that he is not going to be overly productive in Week 2. Week 1 was a promising start to the season. Johnson combined for 137 yards on 18 carries and 7 targets and 1 receiving TD. One of the most positive things to come out of Week 1 is David Johnson’s creative usage. At this time last season, Mike McCoy was running DJ down the middle… always.
What a difference a year makes for DJ.
The Kingsbury offense is going to get him in space instead of forcing him into the most dense area on the field.
— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) September 9, 2019
DJ gets a much tougher matchup in Week 2. The Baltimore Ravens held the Dolphins rushing attack to 21 yards on 12 carries. The running backs also combined for 3 receptions for 28 yards. This is nothing new for the Ravens, who ranked third in DVOA in 2018 and sixth against the run. They also gave up the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs in 2018.
While many David Johnson owners don’t really have a choice in starting him, temper expectations in Week 2.
John Brown @ New York Giants
Smokey Brown set a “record” of sorts, producing a 100-yard game in his first game as a Buffalo Bill, a first. He also produced the most yards for a Bills WR in a Week 1 game since Eric Moulds did it in 1999. Brown seems to be a perfect fit for the strong-armed, Bills QB Josh Allen. Brown was paired with another strong-armed QB in Baltimore with Joe Flacco. Before Lamar Jackson took over in Week 10, Smokey was the WR18.
Brown and the Bills get a spectacular matchup in Week 2. The Giants allowed 405 yards through the air and 4 TDs. Michael Gallup caught all 7 of his targets for 158 yards with an averaged depth of target (aDOT) of 11.7. Brown’s aDOT in Week 1 was 11.9. This was not a fluke game for the Giants defense. They ranked 26th in DVOA against the pass.
The Giants secondary looks to be extremely vulnerable. While Brown’s QB is not very accurate, he can throw deep, which is Smokey’s specialty. That is why he is a start in Week 2.
Willie Snead vs. Arizona Cardinals
Willie Snead is an undervalued WR. He was Lamar Jackson’s second-highest targets pass-catcher in 2018 and had the most catches. Snead is the veteran among the two rookie WRs and will be a safety valve for Jackson in 2019.
Snead saw the second-highest snap share of the Ravens WRs in Week 1. He was only targeted three times, but he caught 2 for 41 yards and 1 TD. Meanwhile, rookie Hollywood Brown caught 4-of-5 targets for 147 yards and 2 TDs on only 12 snaps. He won’t be able to maintain that efficiency and production.
Snead has a chance to be much more involved in Week 2. The Cardinals allowed Detroit Lions slot receiver Danny Amendola to catch 7-of-13 targets for 104 yards and 1 TD. Snead is also a slot receiver, playing 72% of his snaps from the slot in 2018 and 62.5% in Week 1.
The Cardinals pass defense is abysmal. Lamar Jackson already proved he can throw the ball in Week 1. He will likely throw some more in Week 2, and Snead will benefit.
Michael Gallup @ Washington Football Club
Maybe this is a reaction to Week 1, which I warned you not to do. A lot of people were off of Gallup after last season’s inefficiencies. However, Gallup’s target quality was very poor. He ranked 101st in the percentage of targets that were catchable. Dak Prescott‘s QBR when throwing to Gallup, which is a combination of both Gallup and Prescott, was 77.1 which was the lowest of any of the Cowboys’ pass-catchers with over 30 targets.
The trade for Amari Cooper helped Gallup, as well as the Cowboys offense as a whole, be more effective. With Cooper, Gallup received more targets, receptions, yards, and PPR points. All of this culminated in a breakout game for Gallup in Week 1 with 7 targets for 158 yards.
Gallup should be able to produce another great game in Week 2. The Washington Football Club gave up 313 yards and 3 TDs to the Eagles. DeSean Jackson went for 154 yards and 2 TDs on his own. Gallup, like Jackson, is the downfield receiver for the Cowboys. Gallup ranked 16th in yards per reception last season with 15.4. In Week 1, he averaged 22.6 YPR. Washington gave up the ninth-most fantasy points in 2018 as well.
Gallup had a huge game in Week 1. He will continue the hot start in Week 2.
Courtland Sutton vs. Chicago Bears
Courtland started out his season with a bang, even if the Broncos didn’t. Sutton caught 7-of-8 targets for 120 yards, a far cry from his disappointing 2018. Sutton was the most targeted WR ahead of Emmanuel Sanders and tied with Sanders for the highest snap share among the WRs.
Unfortunately, Sutton draws the toughest matchup in the NFL currently. At some point I need to just say “Chicago Bears” and that is all that needs to be said. The Bears held the future-hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers to 203 yards. Now imagine what they will do to Joe Flacco… The top receiver was Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 52 yards. The Bears ranked first overall in defensive DVOA and first against the pass. They allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to WRs.
The over/under for this game is 40, meaning it will be low scoring. It is going to be rough sledding for the Broncos in Week 2, so probably best to just avoid the Broncos altogether.
Robby Anderson vs. Cleveland Browns
Robby Anderson should have a good 2019. He is the WR1 for the Jets. He and Sam Darnold showed chemistry at the end of 2018 as well. Over the last four weeks of the season, Anderson was the fantasy WR6.
Unfortunately, he has two tough matchups in the first two weeks. In Week 1, he drew one of the best defenses in the league in the Buffalo Bills. That led to a low scoring affair and only 3 receptions on 7 targets for 23 yards.
Now Anderson gets the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. In Week 1, the Browns gave up 248 yards through the air and 3 TDs to the Marcus Mariota led Tennessee Titans. However, only 105 of those yards were to WRs and all 3 TDs were between the TEs and RBs.
The Browns ranked seventh in DVOA against the pass. They allowed the 13th-fewest fantasy points to WRs in 2018. This was all before drafting one of the best cornerbacks in the draft in Greedy Williams.
The Browns defense is one of the best in the league. They also have one of the more underrated secondaries in the league. Robby Anderson will be shut down in Week 2. Sit him.
Anthony Miller @ Denver Broncos
There are two issues with Anthony Miller in Week 2. First, is his lack of usage in Week 1. Miller received one target. The more disturbing stat is that Miller only played 16 snaps. Meanwhile, according to PFF, “running back” Tarik Cohen played 40 snaps from the slot. We can’t overreact to Week 1, but we need to watch this situation in Week 2.
The other issue with Miller is his matchup. Chris Harris Jr. is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and arguably the best slot corner in the league, according to PFF. The Raiders avoided throwing at Chris Harris on Monday night, instead choosing to throw at Isaac Yiadom, who gave up 9 receptions on 10 targets.
Allen Robinson will be a good start in this one. Anthony Miller no so much.
Mark Andrews vs. Arizona Cardinals
Mark Andrews is may analysts’ favorite for a tight end breakout. He started that breakout in Week 1. Andrews led the Ravens in targets in Week 1 with eight. He caught all of them for 108 yards and 1 TD. This is a continuation of the chemistry he and QB Lamar Jackson showed last season. Andrews led all of the Ravens pass-catchers in yards last season with Jackson and was second in QBR when targeted.
The breakout will continue in Week 2. The Arizona Cardinals gave up 131 yards and 1 TD to rookie TE TJ Hockenson.
Andrews will get plenty of volume all season. In Week 2, he gets a Cardinals team that just gave up a huge day to a rookie TE. Feel safe in starting Andrews.
Jimmy Graham vs. Minnesota Vikings
Jimmy Graham just keeps going. He was the lone bright spot for the Packers in Week 1 with 30 yards and 1 TD. While he is not the Jimmy Graham of old, he is still productive. In 2018, Graham quietly had 91 targets and finished as the TE10.
Jimmy Graham will continue his production in Week 2. The Minnesota Vikings struggle against tight ends. Last season, they ranked 30th in DVOA in coverage of tight ends. In Week 1, the Vikings allowed Austin Hooper to catch all nine of his targets for 77 hards. Graham had a mixed back against the Vikings in 2018, with a 6 reception, 95-yard day, and a 2 reception 34-yard day.
Graham will have a second good day against the Vikings in Week 2. Start him.
Darren Waller vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The secret may be out about Darren Waller. He had a mini-breakout on national television on Monday night against the Broncos, catching 7-of-8 targets for 70 yards. Before that, Waller was relatively unknown. Basically, all we knew is that he was a physical freak who transitioned from wide receiver to tight end. Not anymore.
Waller will have another chance to display his dominance at the TE position. The Kansas City Chiefs defense is not good. They allowed a rookie QB to complete 88% of his passes for 275 yards and 2 TDs in Week 1. While the Jaguars TEs were not overly productive, they combined for 8 receptions for 49 yards. The Chiefs ranked 25th against TEs in coverage in 2018. They allowed the most fantasy points to TEs in 2018 as well.
Waller dominated the Broncos. Now he is set to dominate the Chiefs. Start him in Week 2.
Evan Engram vs. Buffalo Bills
Like David Johnson, Engram owners likely don’t have a choice but to start Engram. This is more about tempering expectations. Engram dominated in Week 1. He caught 11-of-14 targets for 116 yards and 1 TD. Many were wondering who would be the WR1 after OBJ left. It’s Engram. Over the past two seasons without OBJ, Engram received two more targets, over 20 more yards, 0.13 TDs, over 7% more target share, and 4.5 PPR points per game. Now with OBJ gone, Engram is primed to explode.
But, he may not do so well in Week 2. The Bills are one of the best defenses in the league. They ranked second overall in DVOA in 2018 as well as against the pass. The Bills also ranked second in DVOA against TEs in coverage. In terms of fantasy football, the Bills allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2018.
I don’t think anyone can not start Engram. But he may be in for a rough week in Week 2.
Tyler Higbee/Gerald Everett vs. New Orleans Saints
Some may be considering starting Tyler Higbee after his Week 1, in which he caught 4-of-5 targets for 20 yards and 1 TD. Don’t. Week 1 was highly irregular for the Rams. QB Jared Goff threw 39 times for 186 yards. WR Brandin Cooks only caught 2-of-6 targets for 39 yards. Malcolm Brown scored the two rushing TDs. You get the idea. Higbee and/or Gerald Everett may be more involved this season, but it is hard to glean anything from the Rams Week 1 win.
Do not expect the Rams TEs to be nearly as involved or productive in Week 2. The Saints have had a decent defense the past couple of seasons. In 2018, they ranked 11th overall in DVOA. Against TEs in coverage, the Saints ranked fourth in DVOA. They allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2018 as well.
This is going to be a high scoring game with the over/under set at 53. Just don’t expect much for the Rams TEs.
Austin Hooper vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Austin Hooper is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league. He has improved every year of his career, finishing as the TE6 in 2018. He started how his follow-up campaign with a great start, catching all 9 of his targets for 77 yards against the Vikings.
Hooper will not be as productive in Week 2. The Eagles, despite giving up a 48-yard TD to Vernon Davis in Week 1, are good against TEs. Against TEs in coverage, they ranked seventh in DVOA in 2018. The Eagles allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points in 2018. They allowed three TEs to score double-digit fantasy points.
This game will be a high scoring affair with the over/under at 51. However, Hooper will not play a big role. Sit him in Week 2.
That’s it for this week. I hope you found this article helpful once again. Good luck in Week 2!