Start 'Em Sit 'Em: Week 2
Fantasy Football Start Sit: Week 2
Week 1 of the NFL season delivered plenty of highlights, drama, and injuries to create fascinating finishes across the fantasy landscape. Preparing for Week 2 as a fantasy manager requires a goldfish memory, as a lot of the outcomes for individual players will change based on a team's health, their opponent, and playcalling. It's imperative to focus on these three factors while fading coach-speak and beat reporters to the best of your ability. That's not to say completely ignore reports and updates throughout the week, but treat them with healthy skepticism. I will practice what I preach and use these tangible factors as a foundation to formulate the most objective start/sit decisions for some of the most difficult players to assess heading into Week 2.
Jalen Hurts (QB) Philadelphia Eagles
A ton of questions surrounded Jalen Hurts and his ability to operate within the Philadelphia Eagles offense, ushered in by new head coach, Nick Sirianni. While a lot of people speculated that there would be a heavy dose of running the football, Hurts wound up passing 35 times for 264 yards and three touchdowns against an Atlanta secondary that ranked first in points allowed (28.3 FPPG) per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2020. Hurts nearly led the Eagles in rushing yards as well, averaging 8.85 YPC for 62 yards, boosting him into a QB5 finish in half-PPR formats. Continue starting him in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, it's certainly a more talented defense than he faced in Week 1, however, Lions quarterback Jared Goff was able to string together a 358 yard, three-touchdown outing against the 49ers that fell just short of a miraculous comeback. The Eagles' offensive line is healthy and rated in the top half of the league, per Pro Football Focus, as Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, and Jordan Mailata looked dominant against the underrated Falcons' front-seven. Hurts might be forced to do more with his legs against the likes of Fred Warner and Jaquiski Tartt, which could prove lucrative if Philadelphia manages to control the line of scrimmage. Devonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Miles Sanders, and Dallas Goedert create a formidable receiving corps for Hurts to rely on, as each player saw at least five targets in Week 1. Don't let the 49ers' defense scare you away from keeping Hurts in starting lineups as a low-end QB1 in his 2021 home debut.
Nyheim Hines (RB) Indianapolis Colts
Frank Reich and Carson Wentz historically targeted tight ends during their time together on the Philadelphia Eagles. However, their reunion proved more difficult to predict, as the majority of Wentz's targets were delivered to running backs Nyheim Hines (8) and Jonathan Taylor (7). The two running backs saw 42.8 percent of the Colts' total target share in their Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Hines is a low-end RB3/Flex play against a Rams defense that just allowed Chicago Bears running backs David Montgomery and Damien Williams to rack up over 150 combined yards of offense. While Taylor saw 17 carries, Hines, the fourth-year running back out of North Carolina State, finished with a higher YPC (3.8) and led the Colts in targets, turning them into six receptions for 48 yards. His nine carries for 34 yards elevated him to an RB19 finish in half-PPR formats in Week 1. Hines recently signed a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension that signifies how Reich and the rest of the Indianapolis coaching staff feel about his role within the offense. It's a less than ideal matchup against the Rams but their elite pass rush could force Wentz to deliver even more dump-off passes to Hines, creating the potential for a solid RB3 outing at home against a traveling West Coast team. Hines is a high-floor Flex option to start if you're already dealing with injuries, particularly in PPR formats.
Antonio Brown (WR) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the most notable wide receiver performances in Week 1 came from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown. The veteran wideout managed to haul in five of seven targets for 121 yards and a touchdown to finish as the WR9 in half-PPR formats for Week 1. Brown torched his defender on a deep vertical route to snag a beautiful 47-yard touchdown reception to close out the first half of Tampa Bay's 31-29 win against the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the drama surrounding Brown's last two seasons, he appeared focused and is likely an integral part of the Buccaneers offense in 2021. He saw more targets (7) than Mike Evans (6) and was even utilized as a ball-carrier on a six-yard rushing attempt. It's a high octane offense to be featured in, and if Brown continues to surpass Mike Evans in targets, particularly downfield targets, he is a solid WR2 moving forward. In Week 2, Brown gets another plus matchup against an Atlanta Falcons defense that surrendered three receiving touchdowns to Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. The Falcons' secondary is extremely raw, which will allow the savvy veteran Brown to take advantage using his top-end speed and elusiveness to replicate another WR1 finish in Week 2. Tom Brady threw 50 pass attempts against the Cowboys, which means Brown could see double-digit targets alongside Chris Godwin. If you were waiting to see how Brown's role would look, wait no longer. He's a WR2 with WR1 upside who should be inserted into all fantasy lineups.
Jakobi Meyers (WR) New England Patriots
Cam Newton's favorite target, Jakobi Meyers, proved to be quarterback agnostic, as rookie quarterback Mac Jones funneled a team-high nine targets to him during New England's 17-16 Week 1 loss at home. A gritty and impressive Dolphins defense featuring Xavien Howard and Byron Jones held most of the Patriots in check for the duration of the game. Meyers finished with six receptions for 44 yards, which isn't going to win a fantasy matchup, but it's encouraging to see that the third-year wideout continues to shine as the Patriots' WR1. His zero career touchdown streak is bound to end any week, so why not against another division rival in the New York Jets? Their defense gave up 80 yards to D.J. Moore and a 57-yard touchdown reception to Robby Anderson in Week 1. It remains vulnerable and inexperienced with a pair of rookie linebackers that will have trouble defending Meyers in the slot. Still not feeling comfortable rolling Meyers out as a WR3? Consider that he saw 98.7 percent of the Patriots' snaps in Week 1, leading the team with a 12 percent target share. You won't find a much safer WR3/Flex option than Meyers in Week 2, particularly against a New York Jets team with an entirely new coaching staff and personnel.
Jared Cook (TE) Los Angeles Chargers
The rebuilt Los Angeles Chargers fought through adversity under a new coaching staff in an impressive Weel 1 road win in Washington. Relying on new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Herbert executed a masterful game plan as the second-year franchise quarterback. Lombardi helped design and call plays under Sean Payton in New Orleans, which saw Alvin Kamara used as an alpha target out of the backfield with 107 targets in 2020. This lead many to believe Austin Ekeler would see a similar target share in Week 1, however, the running backs saw only one of Herbert's 47 pass attempts. Where did the rest of the targets go? Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams each saw double-digit targets, while veteran tight end Jared Cook saw eight targets and hauled in five receptions for 56 yards. Despite the presence of Donald Parham Jr., Cook commanded a 17 percent target share and out-snapped him with six additional plays. Cook faces the Dallas Cowboys defense in Week 2, which is a unit that allowed Rob Gronkowski to secure eight receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. Cook is a safe mid-range TE1 and offers exciting upside in a retooled offense he's familiar with due to his time playing under Lombardi in New Orleans.
Trevor Lawrence (QB) Jacksonville Jaguars
There's no denying that Trevor Lawrence is a phenomenal prospect and quarterback talent. However, he threw three interceptions against a less than stellar Texans defense in Week 1, which is certainly concerning considering that the Denver Broncos defense is on deck in Week 2. While Lawrence did throw 51 passes for 332 yards, most of it came against soft coverage during garbage time. Every level of the Broncos' defense has a Pro-Bowl caliber player, something that cannot be said about the Texans' defense. Lawrence will have a difficult time returning QB1 fantasy value, particularly with the conservative, clock-chewing style of play Denver displayed during their win against the Giants in Week 1. This game has one of the lowest over/under totals (44) and the Jaguars are a six-point underdog at home, which is enough for me to fade Lawrence in his home debut. Tua Tagovailoa and Jameis Winston are safer quarterback streaming options off of fantasy waiver wires. They both possess the experience and personnel needed to yield more productive fantasy finishes than Lawrence in Week 2.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City was dealt a difficult opening schedule, as they won a hard-fought contest against the Browns in Week 1 through the heroics of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. That's right, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was pretty much a non-factor in the outcome of the win, carrying 14 times for 43 yards and catching all three of his targets for 29 yards. Despite the reconstructed offensive line that the Chiefs' front office addressed via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, Edwards-Helaire was relegated to 3.1 YPC and failed to produce a single carry for 10 yards or longer against the Browns. Entering Week 2, he now faces a Baltimore defense that held opposing running backs to the 12th fewest fantasy points per game in 2020. Mahomes used his mobility to score a rushing touchdown in valuable goal-line territory, further limiting Edwards-Helaire's opportunity to return his second-round draft capital. It doesn't feel good but James White or Jamaal Williams are RB3s with a higher floor than CEH, who is not desirable to start on the road in a difficult Week 2 matchup against the Ravens.
Ronald Jones II (RB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Whether it was a "good" or a "bad" fumble, there's no denying Ronald Jones cost himself the opportunity to be the lead running back in the Tampa Bay backfield in Week 1. The offense was pass-heavy against what appeared to be an improved Cowboys defense, with Tom Brady completing 32 of 50 pass attempts for 379 yards and four touchdowns to win a nailbiter at their home opener. Fournette saw nearly all of the work in the Buccaneers passing game, converting five receptions for 27 yards on seven targets. Seven targets tied Antonio Brown for the third-highest target total. This is dreadful news for RoJo if he is withheld from the passing game. Since he appears to be the second option in an under-utilized Tampa Bay backfield and has no guaranteed passing volume, Jones becomes a high-risk running back to avoid in lineups as much as possible for Week 2.
Michael Pittman Jr. (WR) Indianapolis Colts
I was very optimistic about Michael Pittman Jr. in what appeared to be a plus matchup against the Seattle Seahawks defense in Week 1, as they allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2020. However, it was a different Seahawks defense that showed up in Indianapolis, limiting Pittman to three receptions for 29 yards on four targets. It doesn't get any easier, as Pittman will likely be shadowed by Los Angeles Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey in Week 2. Ramsey is coming off of a game where he held Allen Robinson to six receptions for 35 yards on 11 targets, meaning Pittman will have his work cut out to produce even as a low-end WR3/Flex player. With Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson continuing to recover from offseason foot surgeries, combined with the limited wide receiver target share, Pittman should sit on fantasy benches until he gets his first promising matchup against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Marquez Callaway (WR) New Orleans Saints
Marquez Callaway lit up opposing defenses in the preseason, exciting fantasy managers as a potential late-round sleeper prospect in the final rounds of drafts. Unfortunately, he was only targeted twice and held to one reception for 14 yards in Week 1, despite a five-touchdown performance from Saints quarterback Jameis Winston. Conversely, only one Saints player saw over five targets and it was their tight end, Adam Trautman. Callaway will likely exceed the one reception he produced in Week 2 against the Panthers but I am staying away from him as a Flex option until he sees five or more targets in consecutive games. Winston's passing ability seems to be improved, meaning Callaway could explode for a big play at any moment. Keep him on your bench for potential sell-high trade opportunities in the future. The Panthers racked up six sacks in Week 1 and held all Jets receivers under 100 receiving yards. Meanwhile, we still don't know who will emerge as the alpha target in this offense. There are too many red flags to confidently suggest starting Callaway, although his athletic profile and location could bloom into something special later in the season.
Anthony Firkser (TE) Tennessee Titans
Jonnu Smith's departure to New England created hype surrounding Anthony Firkser throughout the offseason. Collectively, the Tennessee Titans failed to live up to their hard-nosed reputation in Week 1, struggling against the Arizona Cardinals' defensive front. Chandler Jones sacked Ryan Tannehill five times, creating continuous pressure on one of the league's most improved quarterbacks last season. Only 21 of Tannehill's 35 attempts connected in Week 1, with Firkser securing three of his four targets for a dismal 19 yards. The addition of Julio Jones and the loss of former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to Atlanta seems to be two specific moves that have left the Titans searching for their identity. New offensive coordinator Todd Downing is an internal hire from tight ends coach but he will be tasked with forming a strategy to counter the poor play of the offensive line. The Titans get no relief in their schedule, as they will travel to face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 with a defense that allowed four passing touchdowns to Kyler Murray. It could become a blowout quickly yet again, which means passing will be mandatory to quickly reduce a deficit. Yet, when Derrick Henry sees as many targets as Firkser, it's time to sit him and insert Austin Hooper or Dalton Schultz off of waivers instead.
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Matt is an avid writer and enjoys analyzing the game within the game that is fantasy sports. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his fiancé and three pets, which typically involves some type of outdoor exercise or adventure. He likes to read, listen to Podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the fantasy sports industry. Pat McAfee is a massive inspiration to Matt, along with his parents and friends. He is guilty of ordering the same menu item at restaurants.