What a great week of football last Sunday, huh? For me, Sunday turned into a six-hour RedZone session, and truth be told, it was fantastic. A definite 10-out-of-10. I also had a pretty fun time in fantasy last week, behind the great efforts of Brandin Cooks, DeMarco Murray, Eli Manning, Blair Walsh, and the Minnesota Vikings D/ST. But this is a new week, a new set of matchups, and a new sets of games to analyze and pick apart to get the most out of our fantasy matchups.
One of the most intriguing matchups this week comes back to Denver, for the Broncos-Colts game. We have two very efficient (albeit, in their own ways) offenses combining with one very stout defense. Regardless, this game one of the most interesting games on the slate, as we get to see one of my favorite running backs have the possibility field day against a very weak Indianapolis defense.
So let’s get to it!
Start of the Week: C.J. Anderson, HB Denver
Not only do I have Anderson on a majority of my teams, I will be starting him with confidence on Sunday with the expectation that anything below 30 points (what he got against the Panthers last Thursday) will be disappointing. Not even based off of one week, I have nothing but high expectations for Anderson on the year. The reason why Anderson is performing so well is because Peyton Manning is out of the picture. As good as The Sherrif was, he did not fit Kubiak’s system last year, as the HC needed an agile QB to run the ball out of center, instead of a pistol or full shotgun formation. Sieman is the QB Kubiak needs to run his ideal offense, and it’s starting to look very sexy and efficient, even against a very tough Panthers front seven (or at least on paper).
Fast forward to this week, where Anderson will get a tasty matchup against a Indianapolis defense that surrendered 109.0 yards for 2 TD’s on the ground, and 120 yards and 2.0 TD’s on the air to HB’s last week against Detroit. Good thing for us, because not only does Anderson do well running the ball, he also doubles as a back on passing downs. Also, this week, Indianapolis will be without DE Henry Anderson with a knee injury this week. At home, Anderson is a great play, and will continue to be one throughout the year.
Fire him up with confidence.
Joe Flacco (vs. CLE) – For the first time since 2011, Flacco will start the year with the same Offensive Coordinator from the previous year, and he’s looking pretty comfortable so far in his second year under Marc Tressman. Flacco didn’t impress too many folks last week against the Bills, however he definitely looked more mobile after coming off his knee injury. Breshad Perriman has flashed at times last week (giving me hope, at the minimum), Mike Wallace has established himself as a deep threat, and unlike his other adventures elsewhere, Flacco can actually reach him, Dennis Pitta has looked comfortable after his injuries a few years ago, and Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith have looked very reliable in an offense without a solid run game thus far. Flacco will get a very tasty matchup against a Cleveland Browns secondary that surrendered 278 yards and 2 TD’s to the rookie Carson Wentz. Flacco should have no issues moving the ball down the field, and provides a very nice streaming option for the Brady owners or those who are just streaming in general.
Matthew Stafford (vs. TEN) – Well, that didn’t take long. If you remember, I hyped up Stafford in early June this year, for a few reasons. One, I’m probably one of the biggest Jim Bob Cooter (Detroit’s OC) fans this year, as I absolutely love his offense, and as we saw Sunday, it fits Stafford very well. Second, Stafford’s SOS is something to get excited about, as over the course of the next few weeks he’ll get the Eagles, Bears, Rams, Washington, the Saints, and this week, he’ll get the Titans. With a receiver corps that includes Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick out of the backfield (combined for 120 yards and 2 TD’s last week), Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin. The Titans secondary did a decent job against Shaun Hill last week, but I am fairly confident in the fact that Matthew Stafford is a better QB than Shaun Hill. For those owners who are debating between Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, or even Ben Roethlisberger versus Stafford, I think you give the nod to the latter here.
Eli Manning (vs. NO) – Have you seen those “Peyton on a Sunday Morning” commercials? Remember when Peyton invites Eli over for nachos, but Eli can’t because he has a game? So then Peyton marks him down for Tuesday? Well, this Tuesday Peyton and Eli are going to bond over nachos and reflect on Eli’s absolute destruction of the Saints secondary. Last week, we saw a glimpse of what Eli and Co. can do this year against the Cowboys, throwing TD’s to both Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. However, Dallas’ strength of their defense is their secondary, but that is not the case for the Saints, as they gave up 423 yards and 4 TD’s to Derek Carr last week. The great thing about last week is that the Saints had Delvin Breaux against Oakland, and it obviously didn’t make a difference, but this week, the Saints will be without the CB, which is even better news, as not only will Eli have a field day, his wideouts should too. The only thing to be concerned about is that if they get to a big lead early, they could sit back and let Rashad Jennings run the ball, controlling the clock. Regardless, Manning is a Top-3 QB this week.
Philip Rivers (vs. JAC) – Their offensive line play is certainly improving, but with the loss of Keenan Allen, against a vastly improved Jags D, and plenty of other options to choose from aside from Rivers, I don’t think it’s a wise idea to start him this week. Although their secondary did not do so well against Aaron Rodgers (key word here is Aaron Rodgers), their defensive line stopped any attempts at a ground game, only giving up 68 total yards from both Lacy and James Starks. With Woodhead and Gordon possibly out of the picture, their secondary will definitely be able to match up with a receiving corps that boasts Travis Benjamin as their #1. It’s not looking good for Rivers come Sunday.
Russell Wilson (@ LA) – Although Wilson has said that he’s “ready to go”, I’m not fully convinced that he’ll be 100% when he faces the Rams. Aside from his health, I think the Seahawks will continue to play conservatively with Thomas Rawls a full 100% and as their RB1 on the depth chart (more below). Plus, I don’t think Wilson will throw the ball much if their behind, mostly because I don’t think they will be behind. However, the Rams will be very emotional and mad, and it’s fair to assume that they won’t take their foot off the pedal, as they will mark their season debut in L.A. will Jeff Fisher’s job on the line. Believe it or not, this actually goes against Wilson. Like I mentioned with Rivers, there are plenty of other options over Wilson this week.
Andrew Luck (@ DEN) – Whatever you do, don’t start Luck this week. There are at least 10 other guys I would want, and I wouldn’t talk you out of starting Jimmy Garoppolo against a very vulnerable Miami secondary. Fact of the matter is, Luck did so well against Detroit because it was Detroit. With a weak O-Line, as once again they’ll start 4 rookies, Denver’s defensive line should have a field day. Even in the secondary, Denver should have no issues shutting down Hilton, Moncrief, and the speedy Phillip Dorsett. I don’t mean to repeat myself over and over again, but like I mentioned Wilson and Rivers, there are plenty of other options Sunday.
T.J. Yeldon (@ SD) – With one Christopher Ivory not playing in Week 2, Yeldon is sure to build off of his 88% snap rate last week against the Packers. He gets a dream of a matchup against the Chargers, a team that surrendered a lot against Spencer Ware last week, and this week, still won’t be able to have DE Joey Bosa. Yeldon is a great RB2 this week, and provides a new element to this Jags offense, which should have little issues moving the ball down the field Sunday.
Jeremy Langford (vs. PHI) – Did you know Langford played closed to 97% of offensive snaps last week? The Chicago back is quickly become a very reliable bellcow for John Fox and Co., and gets a nice matchup against the Eagles, a team that gave up 84 yards and a TD on the ground, and 53 yards out of the backfield to Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson last week. The addition of G Josh Sitton has paid big dividens, and Langford should help the Bears control the clock and tempo of the game, and is a great RB2/high-end FLEX play this week.
Rashad Jennings (vs. NO) – Like I mentioned last week, no more are the days of the Giants constantly rotating their RB’s with no clear #1 option, giving fantasy owners headaches for days. Unfortunately, the game script of last week pulled away from the production of Jennings last week, but we shouldn’t have those issues against the Saints tomorrow. It is very likely that the Giants get out to a very early lead, and they use Jennings to control the game and tempo for the second-half. This is a Saints front seven looks very vulnerable last week, giving up 151 yards and 3 TD’s on the ground to Oakland backs last Sunday. Jennings is a very good play this week, and the game script is in his favor.
Thomas Rawls (@ LA) – He’s finally the #1! Like I mentioned with Wilson, I’m not fully convinced that he’ll be 100% when he faces the Rams. Aside from his health, I think the Seahawks will continue to play conservatively with Thomas Rawls a full 100% and as their RB1 on the depth chart. Plus, I don’t think Wilson will throw the ball much if their behind, mostly because I don’t think they will be behind. With the game script leaning towards his favor, Rawls should finally come back to fruition against this Rams front seven that surrendered 88 yards and 2 scores to Carlos Hyde last Monday. Remember this is the same back that ranked 1st in the NFL of all backs in DYAR last year. Long story short, he’s really good.
Melvin Gordon (vs. JAC) – With Keenan Allen hurt, this changes the whole Chargers offense changes, as it is likely Gordon will now see a stacked box filled with Jaguars come Sunday. The Jags front seven looks very respectable, as they only surrendered 11 fantasy points to backs last week against the Packers. Even aside from the matchup, Gordon was no where to be found when the game was close and when the Chargers were trailing for a bit, and you have to wonder if the Chargers will play a lot from behind Sunday against the Jags.
Frank Gore (vs. DEN) – Behind an iffy offensive line, in Denver, against a very stout rush D, it’s plain and simple: you shouldn’t start Gore this week, and there are plenty of other options to go with. Sure, he’s fine rest of season, but you can’t take this back that has more downside than not.
Matt Jones (vs. DAL) – Washington’s run game against Pittsburgh was atrocious last week against Pittsburgh, and Jones only had eight touches on the day. I could see Washington struggling a bit this week against the Cowboys, and due to the nature of their own defense and secondary, it’s likely Kirk Cousins and Co. will find themselves behind a lot, forcing themselves to abandon the run. According to Football Outsiders, the Dallas offense is middle of the road, which definitely doesn’t hurt the upside of Jones, but it’s very minimal, and there are plenty of other options.
Willie Snead (@ NYG) – It’s a little nerve-racking that the strength of the Giants defense is their secondary, but this is Willie Snead in an offense led by Drew Brees, a little different than Dak Prescott last week. Snead is quickly becoming one of Brees’ favorite targets on the year, building off of a very strong camp over the Summer. Building off a very nice game last week against the Raiders, he has a nice history against the Giatns, as last year, he exploded for 7/76 and 2 TD’s.
Julian Edelman (vs. MIA) – Edelman looked very comfortable with Jimmy G under center last week against the Cardinals, catching all 7 balls thrown his way. He’ll get a very good matchup against a vulnerable Miami secondary, who gave 18 catches to receivers last week (would have been 18 if Stills could have come down with it). We’ve seen Edelman work at his best with Rob Gronkowski drawing defenders away from him, and it looks like Gronk will be back in Week 2. He’s a fantastic WR2 in PPR leagues, and you have to expect a nice floor with many targets due his way.
Sterling Shepard (vs. NO) – Last week, we saw a glimpse of what Eli and Co. can do this year against the Cowboys, throwing TD’s to both Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. However, Dallas’ strength of their defense is their secondary, but that is not the case for the Saints, as they gave up 423 yards and 4 TD’s to Derek Carr last week. The great thing about last week is that the Saints had Delvin Breaux against Oakland, and it obviously didn’t make a difference, but this week, the Saints will be without the CB, promptly putting Shepard in the WR3/FLEX category, and a great start in a game that will be the highest-scoring one according to Vegas this week.
Doug Baldwin/Tyler Lockett/Jermaine Kearse (@ LA) – I apologize for repeating myself, but the same thing of this Seattle-Rams game will be echoed for the receivers on the Seattle side of the ball. Until Baldwin caught his TD, none of these receivers looked comfortable in the Seattle offense against a weak Miami secondary last week. HC Pete Carroll should keep a conservative approach with the fragility of Russell Wilson this week against the Rams, and should keep and remain in control of this game, and it turn, gamescript and tempo.
Stefon Diggs (vs. GB) – With a very stout rush D that should get to the Minnesota QB (whoever that is this week), their secondary should have no issues covering Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell. This is their home opener in a new stadium, but I can’t endorse Diggs, especially if Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford will take control against the Packers rush D that hurried Bortles all week last Sunday.
T.Y. Hilton/Donte Moncrief/Phillip Dorsett (@ DEN) – Against the Broncos secondary with a long day coming for Luck behind this offensive line that will be starting 4 rookies this week against Demarcus Ware and Von Miller, to name a few, I don’t think Luck will have a good day at all, and in return, you have to bench your Colts wideouts for more favorable opponents this week.
Coby Fleener (@ NYG) – Here’s why I am very optimistic for Fleener this week. One, the strength of the Giants defense are their Cornerbacks and D-Line, not their Linebackers or Safeties, which directly benefits Fleener. Remember, this is the same Giants D that gave up a lot of volume to Jason Witten last week. There is some concern over his ability to pick up the playbook, but here’s how I look at this: It’s only an issue for the short term, possibly only last week, and there’s a reason why the Saints paid him last week. Also, have people forgotten that he went to Stanford? Understanding the offense won’t be, and shouldn’t be, an issue for a Stanford graduate. He’s a tad risky, but the matchup is there with one of the best QB’s of all time, and his upside is tremendous.
Gary Barnidge (vs. BAL) – With the return of his good buddy Josh McCown, Barnidge is quickly looking like a quiet Top-10 TE rest of season. A lot were concerned with his big fat zero he put up last week against the Eagles, but I’d be remiss not to mention that he played a whopping 98.1% of offensive snaps last week, so it just didn’t work out with him and the deep-throwing RGIII. Enter Josh McCown, a QB that helped Barnidge put up 35 catches for 512 yards and 6 scores, en route to a #1 TE performance through the weeks in which McCown started and was healthy. Barnidge will get a great first chance to make an impact with McCown this week against the Ravens this week. In PPR leagues, he’s as close to a must-play as you can get.
SLEEPER: Jacob Tamme (@ OAK) – If Tamme catches a TD in PPR leagues last week, you’re looking at a 17.1 point-performance. With Mohamed Sanu possibly gone, Tamme could pick up a lot of slack, with Matt Ryan’s next possible option after Julio being Justin Hardy. He has a nice floor this week against the Raiders, even on the road, and he provides a nice streaming option this week in a position that is starting to become ugly on the year.
Jimmy Graham (vs. LA) – He’s finally starting to look healthier, however like I mentioned with Wilson above, I think the Seahawks will continue to play conservatively with Thomas Rawls a full 100%. Plus, I don’t think Wilson will throw the ball much if their behind, mostly because I don’t think they will be behind. Also, this Rams D will be very emotional and angry after an embarrasing loss against the 49ers, in addition to it being their home opener in Los Angeles. There are other options instead of Graham this week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (@ ARI) – Simply put, this is still the same TE that was in the doghouse for the longest time, and a 50-yard TD shouldn’t give us any confidence. He’s a raw talent, however the Bucs passing game (aside from maybe Vincent Jackson) should have a very long day against the Cardinals Sunday.
Josh Brown (vs. NO) – In a game tabbed as the highest-scoring of Week 2 (an expected 51-pt O/U between the teams), it’s never a bad idea to target a kicker from that game, and Brown will be returning to the Giants after serving his one game suspension.
Defense & Special Teams
New England Patriots (vs. MIA) – Works both ways Sunday in this AFC East showdown. On one side of the ball, we have the New England Patriots, marked by strength at their front seven, and even their secondary, as they caused many problems against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals a week ago. They also have a great history against the ‘Fins, sacking Tannehill 6 times last year, including a safety. They should have no issues against the 19th ranked O-Line this year according to PFF.
Miami Dolphins (@ NE) – On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins D should have a very long day. Their front seven is very respectable, but with Mario Williams and Jordan Phillips looking iffy with concussion and ankle worries, this defense is not looking great at all, in addition to their very vulnerable secondary. Jimmy Garoppolo should not have any worries moving the ball down the field with Rob Gronkowski returning, creating matchup nightmares for Miami. There’s reason to have hope rest of season, mainly because of their sack upside, but it shouldn’t come here.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great second week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 3-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.