1:00PM ET Games
San Francisco @ Carolina
Vegas Projected Score: Panthers 29.25, 49ers 15.75
Whereas Carolina returns home on extra rest following its Thursday night loss in Denver, San Francisco is traveling cross country on a short week for this 1pm ET start. This is a game the Panthers should control while imposing their will offensively. As PFF's Pat Thorman has noted, last year's Panthers played at a faster pace at home, utilizing no-huddle offense on 33% of their snaps compared to only 8% on the road. This factored into Cam Newton's home-away splits, as he posted only three top-ten QB1 weeks on the road versus six top-five finishes at Bank of America Stadium. Although some aspects of the 49ers' defense have changed, it is worth noting that they gave up 31.5 points per game on the road last year, compared to only 16.9 points at home. Cam is Week 2's highest-ceiling quarterback start. ... Jonathan Stewart is more likely to go overlooked as a strong Week 2 play. Annually dominated in time of possession, Chip Kelly's Eagles allowed the NFL's fifth (2014) and third (2015) most rushing attempts the past two seasons as a byproduct of Kelly's fast offensive pace. Although the Niners defended the run well last Monday night, doing so in Carolina on short rest will be a far tougher task. Stewart predictably struggled last week in Denver (15-64), but he did handle 75% of the Panthers' running back carries and should benefit from a big upgrade in game script. Stewart is an upside RB2 in season-long leagues and will probably go lower owned than he should be in DFS.
Cam's Week 1 target distribution: Kelvin Benjamin 12; Greg Olsen 9; Devin Funchess 4; Corey Brown 2; Ted Ginn and Stewart 1. ... Benjamin looks poised to prove many negative offseason narratives wrong. He logged 72% of Panthers' Week 1 snaps and was consistently Newton's first read, drawing a dozen targets and manhandling Broncos shutdown CB Chris Harris on a 14-yard touchdown. Although his snap share may dip a bit this week, Benjamin's (6'5/240) matchup is significantly better against 49ers CBs Tramaine Brock (5'10/195), Jimmie Ward (5'11/193), and Chris Davis (5'10/202). Benjamin is a WR2 play with WR1 upside. ... The biggest Week 2 concern for Carolina pass catchers is positive game script, which could curb Cam's pass attempts if the 49ers don't put up a fight. Olsen remains a top-five TE1 play in a week the Panthers shouldn't struggle to score points. Including the playoffs last season, Olsen scored six of his eight TDs in home games. Olsen's per-game target average did dip slightly from 8.0 on the road to 7.5 at home. ... Carolina used a Week 1 wideout committee behind Kelvin with Ginn (60%), Funchess (51%), and Brown (51%) rotating in. Funchess was the Panthers' lone wideout on the field in one-receiver running sets, but he routinely left the field in "11 personnel" passing situations. Funchess may need a Benjamin injury to become start worthy in fantasy this season. ... Ginn was targeted just once against the Broncos. There will be bigger games ahead, but they will be tough to predict. Ginn was always a better best-ball than season-long fantasy investment.
The 49ers' Week 1 offense consisted of a heavy dose of pistol-zone runs and flailing up-the-middle quarterback scrambles as Blaine Gabbert matriculated the ball down the field on long drives against an incompetent and poorly-coached Rams team. Beyond perhaps Case Keenum, no quarterback who took the field in Week 1 threw the ball more inaccurately yet got away with more than Gabbert. Now facing a Panthers defense with the NFL's fastest linebacker corps and extra time to prepare, San Francisco seems unlikely to repeat its fluke success. Gabbert is a two-quarterback-league option at best whose theoretical value is derived entirely from mostly off-script scrambling. ... Beyond Gabbert's maniacal up-the-gut runs, the 49ers' running game also struggled on an efficiency basis. Carlos Hyde was fortunate to score twice in an offense that got a combined 33-107 (3.24 YPC) rushing line from its running backs and couldn't hold blocks until Rams DT Aaron Donald was ejected. Hyde was incessantly hit in the backfield due to interior line breakdowns. Hyde was also wholly ineffective in the passing game, gaining five yards on four targets with a drop. No. 2 back Shaun Draughn wound up playing 26% of San Francisco's Week 1 snaps, hit pay dirt on a three-yard second-quarter run, and replaced Hyde in third-down situations when the 49ers' offense was slowed down. No. 3 back Mike Davis played in garbage time. Hyde remains a boom-bust RB2 in a daunting Week 2 matchup at Carolina.
Gabbert's Week 1 target distribution: Jeremy Kerley 11; Torrey Smith 6; Quinton Patton 5; Garrett Celek 4; Hyde and Vance McDonald 3; Draughn 2. ... Precisely what we wanted Bruce Ellington to be all spring, August 28 acquisition Kerley ran laps through the Rams' secondary and looks like the heavy favorite for targets in Kelly's slot-friendly attack. Kerley's Week 2 draw does get tougher versus Panthers slot CB Bene Benwikere, although Kelly's offense gets the slot receiver matched up on linebackers and safeties much like Jordan Matthews used to. Albeit with very limited touchdown upside, Kerley is already in play as a WR3/4 in PPR leagues. ... Patton (5-60) and Smith (2-13) are the 49ers' perimeter receivers, positions to which Gabbert is more hesitant to throw the ball. Patton's possession game does better suit Gabbert's passing preferences, but the 49ers appear likely to spread the ball around behind Kerley. ... The Niners spent most of Week 1 in 11 personnel with three receivers on the field and Celek and McDonald rotating as the single tight end. McDonald (62%) narrowly out-snapped Celek (56%), though Celek drew one more target. McDonald did score the 49ers' lone receiving touchdown. The 2015 Panthers allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to tight ends and held Virgil Green to 28 yards on five targets in Week 1. There are better TE1 streamers this week than McDonald.
Score Prediction: Panthers 30, 49ers 13
Dallas @ Washington
Vegas Projected Score: Redskins 24, Cowboys 21.5
After its vaunted rushing attack was stopped dead in its Week 1 tracks by the Giants, Dallas heads to D.C. for a potential get-well game. Last year's Redskins finished 22nd in run-defense DVOA, and this year's unit was gashed for a combined 29-149-2 (5.14 YPC) rushing line by Steelers running backs last Monday night. Washington now faces the smash-mouth Cowboys on a short week. I am betting the running room Ezekiel Elliott lacked against New York will appear in Washington. Elliott still finished his debut with 21 touches and is a high-floor, high-ceiling RB1 play in Week 2. ... Dak Prescott was a checkdown machine in the opener, averaging 5.0 yards on 45 attempts and targeting tight ends, running backs, and slot man Cole Beasley on over 70% of his throws. Prescott went 0-for-6 on passes beyond 20 yards and only took off to run twice. Whether the low-risk approach was a function of game plan or Dak's own hesitancy was tough to tell, but it was a slightly discouraging performance by a quarterback who played with far more aggressiveness in August. Fantasy owners of Prescott need to keep in mind that Beasley dropped a surefire touchdown pass, and Dez Bryant had another would-be score overturned on replay. Prescott hasn't shown enough yet to be viewed as more than a two-quarterback-league play from a season-long standpoint, but he just narrowly missed a much more productive opener. With his price up in DFS, Prescott is certain to go extremely low owned in Week 2.
Prescott's Week 1 target distribution: Witten 14; Beasley 12; Bryant 5; Terrance Williams 4; Elliott, Brice Butler, and Lance Dunbar 2; Alfred Morris 1. ... Witten was his rookie quarterback's safety valve, dominating targets as the Cowboys attacked the Giants on high-percentage routes in the middle of the field. Washington's defense is similarly weak over the middle. The Skins coughed up the NFL's sixth most catches and seventh most yards to tight ends in 2015, and yielded five receptions to Jesse James in Week 1. As the Cowboys' coaching staff refuses to do anything creative to free up Dez, Witten looks like the favorite to lead Dallas in receptions again. ... Especially after Steelers slot man Eli Rogers produced 6-59-1 in D.C., Cowboys slot man Beasley needs to be taken seriously as a lower-end PPR option following an eight-catch opener. Beasley's shortage of big-play ability always caps his ceiling, but he is a more reliable target than No. 2 wideout Williams. ... Dez owners can try to hang their hat on Antonio Brown's Monday night demolition of Redskins RCB Bashaud Breeland (8-126-2), but that and Bryant's individual talent are all we have to cling to at the moment. It is frustrating to say the least that Bryant came away with one reception on five targets in a game where Prescott teed up 45 attempts -- about 20 more than his pre-game expectation. Dez is now averaging under 47 yards in 15 career games without Tony Romo. I'm downgrading Bryant to a WR3/flex until something changes.
Kirk Cousins' Week 1 was terribly disappointing against a weak Steelers pass defense. The volume was there with 43 attempts, but the efficiency wasn't as Cousins was picked off twice -- although the second should have been overturned -- and didn't move the offense until the Redskins got down big in the second half. Fantasy owners can continue to count on Cousins teeing up big pass-attempt totals on a team that can't run the ball a lick, but he's going to have to play way better to return fantasy QB1 value. In Week 2, Cousins will deal with a Cowboys team that will try to milk clock and keep Washington's offense off the field, a feat I think Dallas will mostly accomplish against a weak Redskins run defense. Eli Manning did emerge from Opening Day with three touchdown passes against the Cowboys and had a clean pocket, absorbing only two hits. ... The Redskins played pass-first offense early and went hurry-up late versus Pittsburgh, which meant passing-down specialist Chris Thompson (62%) out-snapped Matt Jones (30%). Thompson also executed a late-game goal-line carry over Jones, although it seemed specific to the no-huddle package Washington was riding at that point in the game. Thompson finished with only six touches, but he should be owned in all season-long PPR leagues. Jones is bench fodder as a two-down committee back on a pass-centric team.
Cousins' Week 1 target distribution: Jordan Reed 11; DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder 10; Pierre Garcon 6; Thompson 2; Jones and Josh Doctson 1. ... Steelers ILB Ryan Shazier deserves credit for bottling up Reed (7-64) in the opener. Reed gets another tough matchup in Week 2 against a Dallas defense that last year smothered tight ends with athletic-freak FS Byron Jones and held Reed to stat lines of 3-33-0 and 4-45-0 in two meetings. Also inhibited by the Redskins' likely loss of play volume against the Keepaway Cowboys, Reed remains an elite season-long TE1 start whose DFS viability is more murky. ... The lone Redskin who showed up last Monday night, Jackson dropped 6-102 on Pittsburgh and gets another plus matchup against shaky Cowboys LCB Morris Claiborne and RCB Brandon Carr. D-Jax went 6-80-1 against Dallas in Week 13 last year and was held out of the second game. He remains an extremely underrated WR2 in season-long leagues who was commonly drafted as a WR4. ... Slot man Crowder (75%) out-snapped Garcon (64%) in Week 1, although they finished with similar production. Crowder and Garcon are role-player possession types in the Redskins' offense with limited fantasy appeal. First-round pick Doctson played 19% of the snaps in Week 1 and should get more this week.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, Redskins 21
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Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Vegas Projected Score: Steelers 26, Bengals 22.5
In what I mistakenly believed would be a difficult Week 1 matchup for the Steelers' passing game, Ben Roethlisberger came out white hot, dropping 300 yards and three touchdowns on Washington before DeAngelo Williams salted the game away. Pittsburgh's offensive line kept Big Ben clean, permitting just four hits and one sack in a game where Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 38 times. Ben's fantasy results have been up and down over the past two years against Cincinnati, managing weekly finishes of QB25, QB22 in 2015 but QB11, QB4 the previous season. Still, Roethlisberger's favorable and large-sample home-game splits bode positively for his Week 2 outlook. ... DeAngelo Williams has been the Steelers' feature back for ten full games dating back to last season, in them averaging 23.8 touches for 127.1 total yards with 13 TDs and a 4.70 yards-per-carry average. This is another plus draw for Williams against the Vontaze Burfict-less Bengals, who coughed up 137 yards on 26 carries (5.27 YPC) to Jets running backs last week. Even with Burfict in the lineup last year, Williams spent Week 14 as the Steelers' feature back and emerged as the overall RB4 scorer with 25 touches and a pair of TDs. Coming off an opener where he logged 82% of the offensive snaps and 91% of Pittsburgh's running back touches, Williams has the top floor-ceiling combination among RB1s on the Week 2 slate.
Roethlisberger's Week 1 target distribution: Antonio Brown 11; Williams 9; Jesse James and Eli Rogers 7; Sammie Coates 3. ... Brown made quick work of Redskins RCB Bashaud Breeland (8-126-2) in Week 1 and now has an absurd 144-2,130-13 receiving line in 16 career games with Le'Veon Bell inactive. More so than any team, however, the Bengals have done a respectable job of containing Brown by holding him to 7-119-0, 7-87-0, 6-47-1, 7-128-1, and 9-117-0 over the past two seasons. I'm giving the slight edge to Odell Beckham as this week's top receiver play, but it's close. Ben's favorable home-game splits also work to Brown's benefit. ... The return of Markus Wheaton (shoulder) throws a wrench into Coates' playing time but shouldn't affect Rogers, whose slot role is secure with Wheaton slated to play Z. Having Wheaton back may even help Rogers considering Wheaton struggles to win against man coverage. Rogers earned WR3 consideration with a promising preseason followed by a 6-59-1 stat line at Washington. Last week, this same Bengals defense gave up 7-54-1 to Jets slot receiver Quincy Enunwa. ... Coming off a five-catch opener where he logged 100% of the Steelers' offensive snaps and was targeted twice inside the ten-yard line, James remains squarely in play as a tight end streamer and low-cost DFS option. In last year's two regular season meetings with the Bengals, Big Ben targeted his tight ends 25 times and now-retired Heath Miller caught ten passes in both games. Dating back to August, Roethlisberger has consistently looked to James in scoring position.
Locking on to A.J. Green again, Andy Dalton's fantasy production is likely to remain limited by the limitations of his supporting cast. Brandon LaFell-C.J. Uzomah-Tyler Boyd is a mountainous downgrade from Marvin Jones-Tyler Eifert-Mohamed Sanu, while the Bengals' Opening Day failure to incorporate Giovani Bernard into the passing game is concerning for their ability to generate offense when it isn't funneling through Green. For a quarterback who absorbed seven sacks and ten hits, Dalton did play a strong Week 1 game, maintaining his composure and keeping the offense moving in Cincinnati's 23-22 win over the Jets. A better real-life than fantasy quarterback at this stage, Dalton will do Week 2 battle with a Steelers defense that held Kirk Cousins to last week's QB25 score, rendered Washington's offense one dimensional, and permitted just one Redskins pass catcher to clear 65 yards in a game where Cousins attempted 43 passes. As a road-dog quarterback with a sub-par supporting cast, Dalton is a two-QB-league play only in Week 2. ... Jeremy Hill (49%) and Bernard (47%) split Week 1 snaps right down the middle with Hill handling nine touches to Gio's seven. Including playoffs, Hill averaged 56.3 total yards in last year's three Steelers meetings and will continue to need short-distance TDs to pay off as an RB2 start. Bernard averaged 43.7 total yards against Pittsburgh. Top five in run-defense DVOA last season, the Steelers picked up where they left off by holding Redskins running backs to an 11-47-1 rushing line in Week 1. Matt Jones and Chris Thompson combined for three catches for 25 yards. Hill and Gio are low-floor, low-ceiling flex options in Week 2.
Dalton's Week 1 target distribution: Green 13; Uzomah 5; Bernard and LaFell 4; Boyd 3. ... The lone Redskin to have a big game against Pittsburgh was No. 1 wideout DeSean Jackson (6-102). The Steelers struggled mightily to contain No. 1 receivers all last year and have long failed to slow Green, whose last six stat lines against them are 5-71-1, 6-132-1, 11-118-1, 8-82, 11-224-1, 9-93. Green also has wild home-road splits with a career away-game average of 6.7-101.4-0.7 compared to 4.4-63.0-0.5 at Paul Brown Stadium. A high-floor, high-ceiling play, Green looks like a cash-game staple in DFS this week. ... Uzomah -- not Tyler Kroft -- served as the Bengals' Week 1 replacement for Eifert (ankle) and should maintain the role after logging 88% of Cincinnati's offensive snaps and breaking off a 54-yard catch and run against the Jets. Uzomah is a good athlete with 4.62 speed at 6-foot-6, 262. He's worth a look in deeper leagues, although the Steelers' Week 1 containment of Jordan Reed (7-64-0) is a mild concern. ... LaFell (93%) and Boyd (75%) were both near-full-time players in Week 1 as Cincinnati stayed in three-receiver 11 personnel for almost the entire game. Both have plus Week 2 matchups against the Steelers' sub-par cornerback corps, but LaFell and Boyd may work to cannibalize each other's production as complementary options behind alpha-receiver Green. LaFell is the preferred dart throw.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 21
New Orleans @ NY Giants
Vegas Projected Score: Giants 29, Saints 24
In a replay of last year's Week 8 barnburner that produced an otherworldly 101 points, the Giants host the Saints as five-point favorites in a game with Week 2's highest Vegas total. Drew Brees and Eli Manning traded blows in the 2015 meeting, finishing as the Nos. 1 and 2 weekly quarterback scorers, respectively, and combining for 13 touchdown passes and 855 passing yards. Due in part to Brees' road splits, I like Eli's chances of coming out on top this time. The Saints' swiss-cheese defense managed zero sacks and only three hits against Derek Carr in Week 1, and lost top CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) along the way. Eli is a shoo-in top-three QB1 play in Week 2. ... Rashad Jennings' Week 1 fantasy production was nondescript, but he out-touched Shane Vereen 19 to 9 and continued to be employed as the Giants' clear-cut lead back, just as Jennings was in the final month of last season. The Saints were gutted by Raiders running backs for a 24-151-3 rushing line (6.29 YPC) on Opening Day. Jennings is a sneaky-upside RB2 play and will go overlooked by DFSers focused on members of each team's passing game. ... Although Jennings remains the superior one-for-one bet, passing-down specialist Vereen is in play as a PPR option after posting 8-60-1 receiving last Week 8 against the Saints. There's a chance up-tempo game script will lead to more usage than usual for Vereen, who totaled 61 yards on nine touches in Week 1, playing 44% of the Giants' offensive snaps.
Eli's Week 1 target distribution: Odell Beckham 8; Vereen 5; Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard 4; Will Tye 3; Jennings and Larry Donnell 2. ... OBJ got loose for 8-130-3 in last year's Week 8 date with New Orleans and won't have to deal with Breaux this time. Lit up by Amari Cooper (6-137) and Michael Crabtree (7-87) in Week 1, the Saints will be forced to turn to undrafted rookies De'Vante Harris and Ken Crawley and September 6 street free agent signing Sterling Moore for big roles behind new "No. 1" corner P.J. Williams, who was flamed for nearly 100 yards by Cooper alone last week. Beckham is the top fantasy receiver play of Week 2. ... The Giants used a base-three receiver offense on Opening Day in Dallas. Cruz was not limited, logging 88% of New York's offensive snaps while Shepard played 93%. In a cupcake draw, Cruz and Shepard are both squarely in the WR3 discussion. Neither was heavily targeted against the Cowboys, but that can be blamed on Dallas' slow pace, which also slows down its opponents. Whereas the Cowboys have finished the last two seasons 18th and 29th in snaps, New Orleans is fourth and third. Play volume should not be a problem for any Giants skill-position players this week. ... TEs Donnell and Tye also have ideal matchups, but they are tougher fantasy sells playing in a rotation. Donnell logged 54% of the Giants' Week 1 snaps, while Tye handled 44%. Although Donnell caught a 15-yard touchdown pass, neither tight end drew more than three targets.
Drew Brees remains a strong season-long start, but his home-away splits are at least worth discussing. Tangible in a huge sample size, Brees has averaged 1.63 career touchdown passes per game on the road compared to 2.31 at home. Last season, Brees finished as a top-five weekly scorer in 5-of-8 home games, but had zero top-five finishes on the road and finished inside the top-ten fantasy passers in just 1-of-7 away games. The high-scoring likelihood of this affair still keeps Brees in the mid-range QB1 mix. ... C.J. Spiller was a Week 1 scratch, vaulting Travaris Cadet into the backfield rotation. Cadet dealt a significant blow to Mark Ingram's usage, siphoning seven targets while Ingram was targeted just twice and finished with 14 touches in a game the Saints led most of the way. Tim Hightower mixed in for five touches. While it may make sense from the Saints' perspective to limit their feature back's early-season workload, fantasy expectations for Ingram will have to be reduced if Cadet and Hightower continue to see involvement. Ingram played only 41% of New Orleans' Week 1 snaps. The Giants' rebuilt run defense looked for real on Opening Day, holding Cowboys running backs to a combined 27-86-1 (3.19 YPC) rushing line and allowing Ezekiel Elliott zero room to operate. For Week 2, at least, Ingram should be downgraded from a borderline RB1 to a mid-range to lower-end RB2.
Brees' Week 1 target distribution: Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead 9; Cadet 7; Michael Thomas 6; Coby Fleener 4; Ingram 2. ... Brees' reduced road production unsurprisingly spills over into his receivers' box-score stats. Cooks has scored 11 of his 15 career all-purpose touchdowns at the Superdome and averages 81.8 receiving yards per game, versus only 52.8 yards on the road. All four of Snead's career TDs have come at home, and his yardage average dips from 84.5 at the Superdome to 60 in road games. Cooks remains a quality WR2 this week, but his ceiling may be slightly curbed at MetLife Stadium. ... Snead has a better matchup facing a Giants defense that was attacked by Dallas in the middle of the field last week, where Cole Beasley and Jason Witten combined for an absurd 17 receptions. Running more interior routes than Cooks, Snead will get frequent chances against New York's slow-footed linebackers and safeties. ... Thomas played 77% of New Orleans' Week 1 snaps and is likely to see another bump in playing time after No. 2 TE Josh Hill suffered a high ankle sprain, which will force the Saints to go all in on three-receiver 11 personnel sets. In a projected shootout, Thomas is worth a look in leagues where you can start four or more receivers. ... Hill's injury should also help Fleener, who turned in a slow opener (1-6) but ran pass routes on 73% of his snaps and will square off Sunday with a Giants defense that allowed the NFL's second most fantasy points to tight ends in 2015, then gave up a 10-87 receiving line to Cowboys tight ends in Week 1. I'm going to continue to fire up Fleener where I own him in season-long leagues. He'll be a contrarian DFS option this week.
Score Prediction: Giants 30, Saints 24
Miami @ New England
Vegas Projected Score: Patriots 24.5, Dolphins 18
Back home after their upset win at Arizona, the Patriots host the Dolphins as favorites by nearly a touchdown. OC Josh McDaniels designed a quick-drop, screen-heavy offense with a foundation running game against the Cardinals, putting Jimmy Garoppolo in high-percentage situations and executing a balanced attack. A similar approach seems likely against a Dolphins defense that is built somewhat similarly to Arizona's with a havoc-causing front seven but some holes on the back end. Although passing-game specialist James White tied for the team lead in Week 1 targets, he was not as involved as I thought he would be, getting out-snapped 58% to 34% and out-touched 22 to 6 by LeGarrette Blount. The matchup is not quite ideal against a Dolphins defense that held Seattle's running backs to 28-96-0 (3.43 YPC) in Week 1, but this is a spot where New England should play with a lead, giving Blount a chance to capitalize on positive script and late-game clock-killing mode. Blount is an exciting RB2 play with a lofty touchdown ceiling. White is a shakier flex option specific to PPR leagues. ... Rob Gronkowski's (hamstring) availability will dictate whether Garoppolo has any streamer appeal. Over the past four seasons, Tom Brady averaged 2.12 touchdowns and 290.5 yards per game when Gronkowski played, compared to only 1.69 TDs and 256.1 yards with Gronk out of the lineup. Gronk is a legitimate quarterback elevator. Mid- to late-week reports suggested he is likely to rest another week.
Last week's Patriots receiving stats will be rendered irrelevant if Gronkowski plays, though we should expect Julian Edelman (7-66) to remain a key cog regardless against a Dolphins defense that gave up 9-92-1 to Doug Baldwin in the opener. Baldwin and Edelman run routes in the same areas of the field. ... Martellus Bennett spent 62% of his Week 1 snaps as a blocker, managing 14 yards on five targets. He may again be needed to block Cameron Wake and Mario Williams. Williams suffered a Week 1 concussion, however. I would upgrade Bennett if Mario can't go. ... Chris Hogan scored a 37-yard TD on a badly missed assignment by Cardinals rookie CB Brandon Williams, and otherwise contributed 2-23 receiving on three targets. Even against burnable Dolphins rookie RCB Xavien Howard, Hogan would be hard to trust in a fantasy lineup in Gronk's return. Hogan will be a WR4 if Gronkowski is again inactive. ... Patriots rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell played 53% of the Week 1 snaps. Once Gronkowski returns, Mitchell's playing time will downtick as New England incorporates fewer three-wide looks and more two-tight end packages with Bennett, Gronkowski, Hogan, and Edelman on the field together.
The Dolphins head to Foxboro as road dogs with a low team total after scoring points on just 2-of-12 drives last week in Seattle. In fairness, they would have scored ten more if not for a Kenny Stills dropped touchdown bomb and a 27-yard blocked field goal. Still, the matchup does not get easier this week; in Patriots meetings where Bill Belichick did not rest starters over the past two years, Ryan Tannehill's weekly fantasy finishes are QB25, QB10, QB22 with five combined interceptions, ten sacks taken, and four fumbles. Last week, the Seahawks sacked Tannehill five times with nine total quarterback hits on only 34 dropbacks. The Patriots' fantasy defense looks like a better bet than Tannehill this week. ... Arian Foster dominated the Dolphins' Week 1 backfield, logging 84% of the snaps and 84% of the running back touches. After Jay Ajayi was a healthy scratch in Seattle, I'll believe Ajayi is any sort of factor when I see it. While Foster isn't going to do much on the ground most weeks, he showed his receiving prowess with an early-game 50-yard catch and run where he slipped Seahawks All-Pro FS Earl Thomas in the open field, and finished with 100 total yards. Foster's Week 2 outlook is improved by the Patriots' loss of MLB Dont'a Hightower (knee). Regardless of matchups, Foster should be viewed as a high-floor RB2, especially in PPR leagues. Keep in mind the Dolphins host the lowly Browns next week.
Tannehill's Week 1 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 10; Arian Foster and Kenny Stills 5; Jordan Cameron 3; Damien Williams and Leonte Carroo 2. ... Although Landry didn't get going until the second half of last week's loss to Seattle, he came away with 7-59 on ten targets and now has at least five catches in 21 of his last 25 games. Landry has faced New England three times since becoming a full-time starter one month into his 2014 rookie year, posting stat lines of 6-71, 6-72, 8-99. Larry Fitzgerald is used somewhat similarly to Landry in the Cardinals' offense. Fitz's 8-81-2 performance last Sunday night against Patriots CB Logan Ryan suggests Landry may have a higher ceiling than his historical numbers versus New England suggest. ... DeVante Parker (hamstrings) apparently has a chance to play in Week 2. He's a WR4/5 bench stash at this point, albeit definitely one worth owning in a Dolphins offense that won't be able to run the ball at all this year, and will therefore live and die with the pass. ... Stills played 98% of Miami's Week 1 snaps. An 80-yard TD bounced off his hands, and Stills had another arguable drop among his five targets. Whereas Ryan is likely to chase Landry, I suspect we'll see LCB Malcolm Butler stick to Stills. Butler played a major role in checking Michael Floyd (3-60-0) last Sunday night.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17
Kansas City @ Houston
Vegas Projected Score: Texans 23, Chiefs 20.5
After last week's comeback win over the Chargers in overtime, the Chiefs visit Reliant Stadium where Jay Cutler was pummeled in Week 1, absorbing five sacks and a whopping 13 hits as the Bears scored zero points in the second half. Facing Houston's dominant defense on the road will be a shock to Kansas City's system after knifing through San Diego's cupcake defense at home. A conservative, ball-control game plan is likely from the Chiefs, setting up point chasers of Alex Smith's big Week 1 for probable disappointment. Since their Week 9 bye last year, these are the weekly quarterback finishes allowed by the Texans: QB28 (Cutler), QB31 (Bortles), QB26, QB30, QB13 (Brady), QB7 (TyGod), QB19 (Brees), QB12 (Fitzpatrick), QB24 (Dalton). The Texans hosted the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round and held Smith to 190 passing yards and one touchdown. ... Kansas City's best bet to move the chains will be on the back of Spencer Ware (49%), who just barely out-snapped Charcandrick West (44%) last week but out-touched him 18 to 9 and out-gained him 199 to 23. The Texans' run defense is not nearly the pushover San Diego's was, but Houston did lose ILB Brian Cushing (MCL) for multiple weeks, and J.J. Watt (back) isn't quite himself yet. Unfortunately, the Chiefs will be without both of their starting guards (LG Parker Ehinger, concussion; RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, ankle) on Sunday. An elite RB1 last week, Ware is best viewed as an RB2/flex play in Week 2.
Smith's Week 1 target distribution: Ware 8; Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, Chris Conley 7; West 6; Albert Wilson 5; Demetrius Harris 3. ... Including playoffs, Kelce had his two biggest games of last season against these same Texans, posting 6-106-2 in Week 1 and 8-128 in the Wild Card Round. Last year's Texans still permitted the ninth fewest catches, 13th fewest yards, and ninth fewest touchdowns to opposing tight ends, however, and they gave up just 14 yards on five targets to Bears tight ends last week. Kelce remains a solid season-long start, but this is a tough matchup. ... Maclin's numbers in those games were 5-52-0 and 3-29-0, although he left the second early with a high ankle sprain. Coming off an opener where he outproduced expectation versus Jason Verrett (5-63-1), Maclin is no worse than a solid WR3 play. Maclin is obviously a much different kind of player, but the Texans did allow 105 yards in the first half to Bears No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery last week. ... Conley's Week 1 playing time (84%) and targets (7) seem promising, but keep in mind they came in a game where Alex Smith attempted a career-high 48 passes. Most weeks, vertical streaker Conley is more likely to be in the 4-6 target range.
Although it wasn't always pretty, Brock Osweiler's Texans debut was a success and could have been far bigger if not for Will Fuller's drop of a surefire 80-yard touchdown pass. Quarterbacks have consistently performed above expectation in Bill O'Brien's offense, and the Texans now have dynamic enough weapons to ensure that will be a recurring theme. Osweiler will be streamer worthy against sub-par pass defenses and is on the map as a two-quarterback-league start against the Justin Houston-less Chiefs, who generated only one sack and three hits on Philip Rivers last week. Kansas City struggled more to contain San Diego's rushing attack than its passing game, but obviously got help from Keenan Allen's second-quarter ACL tear. ... Now a legitimate bellcow back, Lamar Miller set career highs in touches (32) and carries (28) in last week's win over Chicago, logging 78% of the Texans' offensive snaps and 91% of the running back touches. The Chiefs allowed a 30-146-2 (4.87 YPC) rushing line to Chargers running backs in Week 1, plus 5-31-1 to Danny Woodhead in the passing game. For a player with enormous workload upside in a perhaps not-so-difficult matchup, Miller is certain to be criminally low owned in DFS tournaments. Miller is a locked-in every-week RB1 in season-long leagues.
Osweiler's Week 1 target distribution: Fuller 11; DeAndre Hopkins 8; Lamar Miller 4; Braxton Miller and Stephen Anderson 3; Tyler Ervin, Ryan Griffin, and C.J. Fiedorowicz 2. ... Fuller was in no way inhibited by last week's hamstring injury, only resting on a handful of running downs against the Bears and making plays at all three levels of the field. Mischaracterized as a one-trick deep threat by many -- myself included -- Fuller's obvious rapport with Osweiler dating back to August suggests he's going to be far more than that in the pros. In Week 2, Fuller and Hopkins will take on a Chiefs secondary that got no pass-rush assistance versus San Diego and simply could not cover Keenan Allen before he got injured. One thing that should be nice about the Texans' top-two receivers this year is that the passing-game distribution is shallow with very little at tight end and slot man Braxton Miller yet to make a big move for target volume. I'm locking in Fuller as an every-week WR2/3 in 12-team leagues and Hopkins as an every-week WR1. Hopkins' two receiving lines against Kansas City last year were 9-98-2 and 6-69-0.
Score Prediction: Texans 23, Chiefs 20
Tennessee @ Detroit
Vegas Projected Score: Lions 26.5, Titans 20.5
Coming off a 39-35 shootout win in Indianapolis, the Lions return home as six-point favorites against the Titans, whose Week 1 exotic smash-mouth approach didn't go as planned. Detroit, on the other hand, did impose its will in an extremely efficient effort by Matthew Stafford versus a barely-there Colts defense. While it's tough to have takeaways from Tennessee's defensive performance against Vikings fill-in starter Shaun Hill, it is notable that the Titans didn't sack Hill once, gave up 103 yards to Stefon Diggs, and permitted 65 yards to Kyle Rudolph, who entered Week 1 having cleared 60 yards just four times in his previous 39 games. I think the Titans' defense is a little bit better than it gets credit for, but not enough to consider this a concerning matchup for Stafford, who has a 22:2 TD-to-INT ratio and 71.1% completion rate in nine games since the Lions' Week 9 bye last season. ... I mentioned last week that Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah had a plus matchup against the Colts' decrepit linebacker corps, but I had no idea Riddick and Abdullah would explode like they did. Despite losing an early goal-line score to rookie short-yardage back Dwayne Washington, Riddick and Abdullah combined for 258 total yards and three touchdowns as both backs were repeatedly sprung into space. In season-long leagues, Riddick is a sell-high candidate coming off a fluky two-TD game after he managed three touchdowns in the same role all last year. Abdullah logged 61% of the Lions' snaps after playing only 33% as a rookie. He will pay RB2 dividends and then some if the increased usage sticks.
Stafford's Week 1 target distribution: Marvin Jones 10; Golden Tate 7; Eric Ebron, Riddick, and Abdullah 5; Anquan Boldin 3. ... Although Stafford spread the ball around against the Colts, Jones emerged as the Lions' leader in targets and receiving yards (85). Diggs' big Week 1 against Tennessee should bode well for Jones' Week 2 outlook. Jones will run most of his routes at LCB Perrish Cox, who earned Pro Football Focus' worst Week 1 grade among Titans cornerbacks. ... Tate led Detroit in Week 1 catches (7) and also has a plus draw versus RCB Jason McCourty and slot CB Brice McCain, who were victimized by Diggs and Vikings slot WR Adam Thielen (4-54). Jones is the superior bet for big plays. Tate looks like the better bet to rack up easy catches. ... Despite missing most of camp with an ankle injury, there were no restrictions on Ebron's Week 1 role. He logged 91% of the Lions' snaps and caught 5-of-5 targets for 46 yards and a score. Tennessee allowed the seventh most fantasy points to tight ends in 2015, before being had by Rudolph last week. ... The Lions spent all of Week 1 in a three-wide, one-tight end formation with Boldin as the third receiver. Although Boldin made the most of his three targets (3-35), he will likely need an injury to Jones, Tate, or Ebron to become a viable fantasy play.
After back-breaking second-half turnovers cost them their Week 1 bid against a stingy Vikings defense, the Titans go on the road to domed Ford Field one week after Detroit was flamed by Andrew Luck for 385 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Lions generated minimal pass rush against a Colts offensive line many left for dead in August, consistently affording Luck clean pockets even on five- and seven-step drops. This is a better spot for Marcus Mariota than last week, when he still totaled 290 yards and two touchdowns despite not playing his best against a much tougher opponent. Mariota is certain to go overlooked by the DFS public and offers a big Week 2 ceiling in season-long leagues. ... Despite struggling on the ground (13-42), DeMarco Murray out-snapped (72%) and out-touched (18) Derrick Henry (30%, 7) in Week 1 and saved his fantasy day with a big receiving line (5-35-2). Murray remains entrenched as the Titans' lead back, but his Week 2 matchup is tougher than Mariota's against a Lions defense that held Colts running backs to 61 scoreless yards on 16 carries (3.81 YPC) on Opening Day. Still, Murray's all-purpose usage raises his floor and his scoring-position role bolsters Murray's weekly ceiling after he racked up three red-zone touches in Week 1, including two receptions inside the Vikings' ten-yard line. He is a solid RB2 option in season-long leagues. Barring an unforeseen enhancement of Henry's role, the rookie won't be startable without an injury to Murray.
Mariota's Week 1 target distribution: Tajae Sharpe 11; Murray and Andre Johnson 7; Delanie Walker and Harry Douglas 5; Rishard Matthews 4; Henry 2. ... Whereas Johnson, Douglas, and Matthews rotated near evenly against the Vikings, impressive fifth-round rookie Sharpe was employed as Tennessee's clear-cut No. 1 wideout. Sharpe's 93% snap rate easily led the team and he flashed like a young Antonio Brown with standout ball skills and route-running chops en route to 76 yards on seven catches. This is another game that should result in negative script for the Titans, bolstering Sharpe's target count. In Week 1, Phillip Dorsett (4-94), Donte Moncrief (6-64-1), and T.Y. Hilton (6-79) all had success to varying degrees against this same Lions pass defense. Sharpe has already earned season-long WR3 treatment. ... Matthews is looking like an early drop candidate in 12-team leagues. His Week 1 snap rate (52%) was lower than Douglas' (54%) and eaten into by Johnson (35%). ... We should have a good idea that Walker is headed for a disappointing season if he fails to capitalize on an almost best-case-scenario matchup at Detroit. The Lions gave up a league-high 12 touchdowns to tight ends last year, before Dwayne Allen and something named Jack Doyle combined for 7-88-3 against them on Opening Day. In DFS tournaments, I am intrigued by the idea of stacks built around Mariota and Walker.
Score Prediction: Lions 27, Titans 23
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Vegas Projected Score: Ravens 24.5, Browns 18
The Browns' "loss" of Robert Griffin III is a potential net gain for the fantasy prospects of Cleveland's skill-position unit. A superior precision passer, McCown quietly finished No. 14 in NFL passer rating among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts last season and threw for at least 270 yards in four of his seven full games. McCown had an absurd 457-yard, two-TD game against a similar-looking Baltimore defense in Week 5 last year despite far less-explosive weapons than Cleveland has now. McCown is immediately in play as a two-quarterback-league option. He will also be popular in DFS, albeit perhaps too much so after Baltimore's Week 1 defense shut down Buffalo's passing game (111 yards) and hit Tyrod Taylor on 25% of his dropbacks. ... One of the biggest bumps with McCown under center goes to Duke Johnson, who last year averaged 5.4 receptions in McCown's seven full games compared to a 2.5-catch average in the other nine. Opponents are going to pour points on the Browns' inexperienced defense all season, forcing them into comeback mode, which is where Johnson can shine. Johnson is still just a shaky flex option against Baltimore, but he should become more useful in PPR leagues when bye weeks kick in. ... Isaiah Crowell's Week 1 rushing line (12-62-1) looks decent on paper, but he gained 40 of his yards on the game's final three snaps with Cleveland down by 19 points. Baltimore's defense stymied Buffalo's elite ground game last week, holding Bills backs to a 19-54-1 (2.84 YPC) rushing line. Crowell is a low-end flex option in Week 2.
Less effective deep but a superior all-field passer to Griffin, McCown's presence under center should also boost the outlook for Corey Coleman, who is capable of running a wider array of routes than ex-quarterback Terrelle Pryor. McCown should also eventually help Josh Gordon. Initially, I think the best approach to Browns wide receivers is to put them on a wait-and-see week as we evaluate whom McCown looks for and feeds. That is especially the case against a Ravens defense that last week didn't allow any Bills pass catcher to reach 50 yards. ... The one Browns pass catcher we should be able to trust immediately is Gary Barnidge, with whom McCown showed a legitimate connection last year. While Barnidge drew just two Week 1 targets from RG3 and averaged a 4-50-0.25 receiving line in eight games with Cleveland's other quarterbacks last year, Barnidge's weekly average leaped to 6-80-0.75 in McCown's eight starts. Barnidge also burned the Ravens twice (8-139-1, 7-91).
Making his NFL debut after playing only 38 preseason snaps and his college ball at the D-IAA level, Carson Wentz nevertheless cut through the Browns' "defense" like a knife in hot butter. Wentz threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns despite one of the worst receiver corps in football, one that cost Wentz additional yards with four combined drops. Joe Flacco is coming off a nondescript opener, but he won't get a more favorable matchup for the rest of the year. Flacco is worth a long look as a streamer and is sure to be lesser owned than he should be in DFS. ... The Ravens' backfield went about as expected in Week 1. Justin Forsett and Terrance West split work right down the middle with Forsett logging 13 touches on 49% of the downs, while West mixed in for 40% of the snaps only to manage 38 yards on 14 touches. West did handle the lone red-zone touch produced by Baltimore's offense. The Browns' run defense was surprisingly competent in their opener, limiting Eagles running backs to 32-132-1 (4.13 YPC) rushing and stoning Ryan Mathews repeatedly at the goal line. Forsett and West both look like low-ceiling flex options for Week 2.
Flacco's Week 1 target distribution: Steve Smith Sr. 9; Mike Wallace 6; Dennis Pitta 4; Forsett and Kyle Juszczyk 3; West, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, and Kamar Aiken 2. ... The Ravens used a five-way wideout rotation last week versus Buffalo, playing Smith on 63% of the snaps, Wallace on 61%, Aiken 50%, Perriman 29%, and Moore 19%. Smith pathetically managed 19 yards on nine targets and is tough to take seriously as the NFL's oldest receiver coming off a torn Achilles', at least until he proves capable of producing in the box score. ... Wallace is the Ravens' lone wideout worthy of WR3 consideration. Showing he still has something left in the tank, Wallace blew by Bills S Duke Williams for a 66-yard touchdown on Opening Day, and added quick-hitting catches against stout CBs Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore en route to 3-91-1 receiving. Dusted by Mike Evans (5-115-1) and Vincent Jackson (4-78) in one half in the third preseason game, Cleveland's secondary picked up where it left off by yielding 7-114-1 to Jordan Matthews and 4-57-1 to Nelson Agholor with rookie Wentz at quarterback in Week 1. ... Pitta dominated snaps (78%) over Crockett Gillmore (42%) and Maxx Williams (13%) against the Bills, while Cleveland ceded 7-69-1 to Eagles tight ends in Week 1. Pitta needs to be grabbed in deeper season-long leagues and has worked his way into the tight end streamer conversation.
Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Browns 20
4:05PM ET Games
Seattle @ Los Angeles
Vegas Projected Score: Seahawks 22.25, Rams 16
After squeaking out a 12-10 win over the Dolphins, the Seahawks head to L.A. for the relocated Rams' home opener. Deservedly so, the Rams are being laughed at after an embarrassing 28-0 Monday night loss to the 49ers, and their best effort should be expected in Week 2. At least for the time being, Russell Wilson's Week 1 ankle injury does not appear to be a concern after he practiced fully all week. It's certainly still possible some of his mobility will be compromised, potentially troublesome behind a bad Seahawks line and facing Los Angeles' dominant up-front foursome of DTs Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald and DEs Robert Quinn and William Hayes. These are Wilson's last three weekly fantasy finishes against the Rams: QB7, QB14, QB26. At least for this week, I'm downgrading Wilson to a fringe fantasy starter and avoiding him in DFS until he confirms he's healthy and the offense functional. ... The Seahawks will reinstall Thomas Rawls as their starting running back after opening the season with Christine Michael in the first-team role. Rawls' outlook also upticks due to a broken hand suffered by passing-down back C.J. Prosise, whose offensive role is likely to be limited or even eliminated for a few weeks. Even while playing only 27% of the Week 1 snaps, Rawls drew three targets against the Rams, equaling his weekly high from a season ago. Rawls' fantasy value will get a significant boost if he's more involved in the passing game. I'm going back to treating Rawls as an every-week RB2 with RB1 upside. Michael has become a low-end flex option.
Wilson's Week 1 target distribution: Doug Baldwin 11; Tyler Lockett 8; Jermaine Kearse 7; Luke Willson and Michael 4; Rawls 3; Paul Richardson 2; Prosise and Jimmy Graham 1. ... Seahawks slot man Baldwin should have loved seeing 49ers slot man Jeremy Kerley (7-61) eat up the Rams with clutch catches all game long last Monday night. Baldwin has seven or more receptions in three of his last four games against Jeff Fisher's defense. He may be targeted especially heavily if Wilson's ankle prevents him from getting outside the pocket and forces him to lean on quick-timing patterns. ... Lockett's Week 1 box score (3-17-0) disappointed, but his usage didn't. Albeit in a game Wilson uncharacteristically dropped back to pass 46 times, Lockett's eight targets were more than he drew in any game last season, and he logged 75% of the snaps as Seattle played three-receiver 11 personnel almost the entire game. I've seen some season-long owners prematurely sending Lockett to the waiver wire. ... Kearse (84%) still played ahead of Lockett and will pop off for a few big games this season, but they will be tough to predict. Kearse had four games above 75 yards last season but nine below 40. ... Still battling back from his torn patellar tendon, Graham played just 20% of Seattle's Week 1 snaps compared to Willson's 77%. The Seahawks' tight end situation should be avoided in fantasy football until further notice.
Herm Edwards stated at halftime of last Monday night's Rams blowout loss in San Francisco that Jeff Fisher's offense "set football back by 50 years." Indeed, the Rams put the sham in shameful, showing no ability to clear running lanes or challenge with the passing game. On passes thrown five yards beyond the line, Case Keenum went 5-of-18 for 74 yards and two interceptions. The Rams punted on 10-of-13 possessions and turned the ball over on their other three. ... None of this is surprising, of course, for a team with zero at quarterback and next to nothing at receiver or on the offensive line. In Week 2, Todd Gurley faces a Seattle run defense that finished 2015 ranked No. 3 in DVOA, and which held Miami running backs to 47 scoreless yards on 15 carries (3.13 YPC) in Week 1. Dating back to 2014, Gurley has averaged 73 total yards over his last eight games. For perspective, Buccaneers No. 2 back Charles Sims has averaged 72.3 total yards over his last eight games. In season-long leagues, the only thing you have left to bet on with Gurley is his theoretical talent. Nothing about Gurley's situation suggests he will be capable of finding room against competent defenses. He also has one of the toughest schedules in the league.
Tavon Austin finished with 13 yards on 12 targets in Week 1 at San Francisco. Countless throws intended for Austin by Keenum were made several yards beyond his grasp. Austin reminded that he is capable of making intermittent big plays with a 28-yard punt return in the second half, but his offensive impact was utterly nonexistent. In the rare instances the Rams got Austin the ball in the run or pass game, he was immediately leveled by a close defender. In last year's two meetings with the Seahawks, Austin managed totals of 15 and 28 yards from scrimmage.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 23, Rams 17
Tampa Bay @ Arizona
Vegas Projected Score: Cardinals 28.5, Bucs 21.5
A Bucs pass defense that finished 26th in DVOA last season looked no better in the opener, hemorrhaging 334 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Matt Ryan, who enjoyed his best game in an awfully long time. This is a beautiful draw for Carson Palmer, who moved the Cardinals' offense efficiently against a far more imposing New England defense last Sunday night and hit Larry Fitzgerald for a pair of red-zone scores. Palmer should be viewed as a high-floor Week 2 play. I also think he will go overlooked by the DFS public with so much focus on Eli Manning and Cam Newton. ... David Johnson's 95% snap share and 87% touch share from Week 1 is Le'Veon Bell 2014 kind of usage, and sets up Johnson for a special season wherein weekly run-defense matchups simply will not matter. Week 2 opponent Tampa Bay was gashed by Falcons RBs in the passing game last week, ceding a combined 9-115 receiving line to Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Johnson's opener could have been even bigger if not for Fitzgerald's "vulture" scores, which came from one and three yards out. Tampa Bay's stout run defense is barely a concern for Johnson's Week 2 outlook. As a home-game running back on a team favored by seven, Johnson is in a prime fantasy spot. ... One Arizona beat writer spent all spring claiming Chris Johnson would start over David. In Week 1, Chris played two snaps, rushed once for two yards, and was out-snapped (9) and out-touched (2) by No. 3 back Andre Ellington.
Palmer's Week 1 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 10; Michael Floyd 7; David Johnson 6; John Brown and Jermaine Gresham 4; Ellington, Jaron Brown, and J.J. Nelson 2. ... Fitzgerald was a fantasy monster in the first half of last season and looks poised for another fast start after torching usually-stingy Patriots CB Logan Ryan (8-81-2) in Week 1. As primarily a slot receiver, Fitzgerald also benefits from matchups against linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field. Mohamed Sanu has a poor man's version of Fitzgerald's skill set and dropped 5-80-1 plus a two-point conversion on these same Bucs in Week 1. For plus-sized Fitzgerald (6'3/225), there is nothing imposing about Tampa Bay's nickel package of LCB Brent Grimes (5'9/177), rookie RCB Vernon Hargreaves III (5'11/204), and slot CB Alterraun Verner (5'10/189). ... After battling headaches stemming from a training camp concussion, John Brown was eased in against New England, logging only 57% of Arizona's Week 1 snaps and operating as the clear No. 3 receiver. He lost playing time to Gresham and Darren Fells as the Cardinals made frequent use of two-tight end sets, packages in which only Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are on the field. Floyd is the Arizona boundary receiver to own. Brown can't be trusted until his snaps and usage rise.
I saw NFL MVP predictions on Twitter following Jameis Winston's four-touchdown Week 1, a billing Winston will only be able to approach by producing against defenses much tougher than Atlanta's. The challenges come in short order, as the Bucs play their next four games at Arizona, versus the Rams, versus the Broncos, and at Carolina. Although Jimmy Garoppolo did not embarrass himself in Week 1 against this same Cardinals defense, his lone touchdown pass came on a fortunate early-game coverage bust and he finished as the weekly QB20. I don't think Winston owners would be crazy to send out sell-high trade feelers this week. The quarterback position is easily replaceable in season-long fantasy, and Winston won't be a top-12 start for more than a month. ... As a road-dog running back facing Arizona's stout defensive front, Doug Martin is in an even tougher Week 2 spot than Winston. This is a game that theoretically sets up better for passing-game specialist Charles Sims, although the same could have been said for LeGarrette Blount and James White last Sunday night, and Blount emerged with 70 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries compared to White's six touches for 44 scoreless yards. The Cardinals did hold Blount to 3.18 yards per rush. Martin remains a tough Week 2 sell as more than an RB2 fantasy start. Sims is in the flex discussion for fantasy owners already in injury-induced binds.
Winston's Week 1 targets: Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson 7; Adam Humphries and Martin 5; Cameron Brate 4; Sims 3; Austin Seferian-Jenkins 1. ... The Falcons did not use Desmond Trufant to shadow Evans (5-99-1) last Sunday. Trufant instead stayed at left corner, spending more time on Jackson (2-18-0). After managing one catch for four yards in the first half, Evans saved his fantasy day with a 45-yard touchdown against RCB Robert Alford. The Cardinals seem likely to let Patrick Peterson chase Evans, but the way last Sunday's game played out is a reminder that shadow coverage is not a certainty. I would play Evans in season-long leagues, but tread lightly in DFS. ... Jackson has hit 100 yards just four times over his last 39 games with only seven TDs during that span. With that said, he has a gorgeous theoretical matchup against Cardinals rookie CB Brandon Williams, who was torched all preseason and blew the aforementioned first-quarter coverage on Chris Hogan's 37-yard score. I'm viewing V-Jax as a fringe WR3 option with some upside. ... The Bucs employed a frustrating three-way tight end rotation against the Falcons, giving blocker Luke Stocker 57% of the snaps, Brate 38%, and Seferian-Jenkins 28%. Seferian-Jenkins made his lone target count on a fantastic 30-yard touchdown catch, but he got blown up as a run blocker and can't be trusted in fantasy lineups as a lightly-used rotational player.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 28, Bucs 20
4:25PM ET Games
Jacksonville @ San Diego
Vegas Projected Score: Chargers 25, Jaguars 22
Following a meltdown loss at Arrowhead, the Chargers return home as three-point favorites in a potentially high-scoring game. Forward thinkers may need to lower expectations for Philip Rivers after he lost Keenan Allen (ACL) in Week 1. Whereas Rivers entered 2015 with a 69% completion rate, 7.9 YPA, and 76:30 TD-to-INT ratio in Allen's 39 career games, Rivers' numbers dip to 62% with a 7.1 YPA and 67:41 TD-to-INT ratio in his last 39 games sans Allen. With all of that said, Rivers' Week 2 outlook remains solidly in QB1 territory against a Jags team traveling cross country for a rematch of last year's Week 12 game in Jacksonville, where Rivers finished as the fantasy QB3 via 300 yards and four touchdowns. Rivers' matchup is further improved by the Jags' loss of CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring). Rivers gets the Colts in Week 3 and Saints in Week 4, so he should stave off any Allen-induced losses on plus matchups in the short term. The rebuilt Jaguars defense was unable to get consistent pass rush on Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, managing three hits and one sack. ... Although Melvin Gordon generated buzz with two early-game short TDs in Kansas City, Gordon was out-touched 21 to 14, out-snapped 68% to 32%, and even out-carried 16 to 14 by Danny Woodhead. The usage was worrisome for Gordon in a game San Diego mostly played with the lead, which is theoretically when Gordon should see increased work. In season-long leagues, Gordon is a recommended sell-high candidate. Woodhead is an every-week RB2 in PPR leagues who could also get there in non-PPR if he continues to be utilized as he was against the Chiefs. Even without Allen, I expect San Diego to remain a three-receiver, shotgun-based offense with Woodhead as the backfield leader.
Rivers' Week 1 target distribution after Allen went down: Travis Benjamin 7; Tyrell Williams 4; Dontrelle Inman and Woodhead 3; Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry 1. ... At least based on the small sample of two-plus quarters Allen missed, Benjamin looks like San Diego's best bet for target volume going forward. Equipped with 4.36 speed and a career 14.8 yards-per-reception average, Benjamin is also very capable of making big plays. He should be elevated from a fringe WR3 with Allen to an every-week WR3 with Allen out of the mix. ... A sneakier bet for high-volume catch games is Inman (79%), who out-snapped Benjamin (75%) and Williams (60%) in Week 1. Mainly a slot receiver, Inman will run high-percentage routes in San Diego's quick-hitting passing attack. Inman posted five games over 50 yards last year, including lines of 5-65-1 in Week 12 at Jacksonville and 8-82-1 at Oakland in Week 16. ... A second-year UDFA out of Western Oregon, Williams is arguably the most intriguing Dynasty asset of the bunch. Williams is a SPARQ freak with 4.43 speed at 6-foot-4, 204 and a skill set similar to Malcom Floyd. If it all comes together, Williams could absolutely become a re-draft and DFS option, as well. Talked up by Rivers this week, Williams' snap share should jump into the 75-80% range going forward. ... Lost in all of the post-Allen receiver discussion is the fact that Gates will have to be leaned on more heavily. Gates went 4-53-2 in last year's Week 12 game in Jacksonville. Even at age 36, Gates will be the best bet to score touchdowns in the Chargers' offense the rest of the way.
After losing their home opener 27-23 to Green Bay, the Jags travel to San Diego where they fell 31-25 last Week 12. Blake Bortles still produced 329 yards and two touchdowns in what was a back-and-forth shootout dominated by early field goals before the clubs combined for three fourth-quarter TDs. The Bolts defended the pass better than the run in 2015, but Alex Smith exploited leaks on the Eric Weddle-less back end last week with 363 passing yards and three all-purpose TDs in a top-three fantasy quarterback finish. In a pass-first Jaguars offense that struggled mightily to run the ball on the Packers last week, Bortles is a high-upside QB1 bet in sunny San Diego. ... Chris Ivory (illness) will miss another game, giving T.J. Yeldon another shot at workhorse usage after Jacksonville's offensive line failed to give him running room versus Green Bay. Yeldon managed a measly 21-39-1 rushing line, but did draw six targets, played 85% of the snaps, and piled up five red-zone touches, scoring on a five-yard run. The Joey Bosa-less Chargers were gashed by Chiefs running backs in Week 1, coughing up 222 total yards to Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, including Ware's 11-70-1 (6.4 YPC) rushing line. The Chargers lack speed at inside linebacker, where Denzel Perryman (4.78) and Manti Te'o (4.82) roam. Yeldon is a high-end RB2 play with RB1 upside.
Bortles' Week 1 target distribution: Allen Robinson 15; Yeldon 6; Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas 5; Marqise Lee 4; Rashad Greene and Marcedes Lewis 2. ... Robinson (6-72) was defended well by underrated Packers CBs Sam Shields and Damarious Randall last Sunday, and gets another tough draw against stingy Bolts RCB Jason Verrett. Jeremy Maclin came out of last week's Verrett battle with a respectable 5-63-1 receiving line, however, and Robinson (6'3/220) has a significant size advantage on San Diego's top corner (5'10/189). It should also be noted that Verrett missed practice time this week with a calf injury. Week 1 indications were that Robinson will be treated as a true alpha receiver in Jacksonville's 2016 offense after averaging a little over two targets more per game than Hurns last year. After leading the entire NFL in targets in Week 1 -- but producing below expectation -- Robinson is one of this week's most intriguing DFS tournament plays. ... Thomas' emergence as a major factor is probably going to hurt Hurns more than anyone. The Jaguars aggressively motioned Thomas around the formation in Week 1 versus Green Bay and he came away with 5-64-1 on five targets. On his 22-yard touchdown catch, Thomas lined up at X receiver and beat Packers CB Quinten Rollins on a fade. Last week, the Weddle-less Chargers gave up an 8-94 receiving line to Kansas City's tight ends. In a potential high-scoring Week 2 affair, Thomas should be locked into lineups as an upside TE1. Hurns is best approached as a fringe WR3/4.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Jaguars 23
Atlanta @ Oakland
Vegas Projected Score: Raiders 26.75, Falcons 22.25
Coming off a thrilling 35-34 shootout win at New Orleans, the Raiders return home to face an Atlanta defense Jameis Winston dusted for four touchdowns and the No. 5 fantasy quarterback finish in Week 1. Dan Quinn's Falcons ranked dead last in sacks (19) in 2015 and didn't sack Winston once in the opener. Sure to benefit from a clean pocket, Derek Carr should be viewed as a high-ceiling QB1 start this week. Carr's last ten weekly fantasy finishes when he's been sacked twice or less: QB3, QB8, QB24, QB6, QB5, QB5, QB10, QB26, QB7, QB7. ... Latavius Murray's fantasy owners should expect him to be more of a lead back in a committee than true workhorse this year. Murray logged only 60% of Oakland's Week 1 snaps and 15 touches, losing 11 combined to rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. After hitting pay dirt from six yards out in the first quarter against the Saints, Murray also lost a fourth-quarter goal-line score to FB Jamize Olawale. As the Raiders are back home and favored by 4.5 points, Murray remains well positioned to pay Week 2 dividends as an RB2 play with RB1 upside. Oakland should mostly control this game, setting up Murray to improve on last week's 14 carries. Pro Football Focus charted Atlanta's defense with 12 missed tackles in last week's loss to Tampa Bay. ... Richard took his first NFL carry 75 yards to the house and has earned playing time at the expense of Washington. As the Raiders would likely turn to a three-way committee of Richard, Washington, and Olawale if something happened to Murray, Washington's handcuff appeal has diminished considerably, and his chances of carving out standalone fantasy value now appear remote.
Carr's Week 1 target distribution: Amari Cooper 11; Michael Crabtree 9; Clive Walford 5; Seth Roberts 4. ... Rather than shadow Mike Evans (5-99-1) with Desmond Trufant in Week 1, the Falcons left Trufant at left cornerback and he wound up on Vincent Jackson (2-18) more. Cooper is still likely to draw Trufant the most based on where they line up, but Amari shouldn't have to deal with the Falcons' top corner all game. Cooper predictably torched New Orleans (6-137) and will ascend to every-week WR1 value if he can continue to out-target Crabtree. ... Crabtree also paid off against the Saints (7-87), adding the game-winning two-point conversion on a gutsy call by coach Jack Del Rio. Although he lacks Cooper's big-play ability, Crabtree has a superior Week 2 matchup against Falcons RCB Robert Alford and slot CB Brian Poole. Alford gave up nearly 100 of Winston's Week 1 passing yards, including Evans' 45-yard touchdown. Poole is an undrafted rookie. ... Even with Mychal Rivera wearing street clothes, Clive Walford disappointingly played under half of the Raiders' Week 1 snaps and saw less playing time than blocker Lee Smith. While his Week 2 matchup is favorable against a Falcons defense that gave up 5-64-2 to Bucs tight ends last week, the limitations on Walford's role make him a low-floor fantasy investment.
The Falcons' preseason timeshare spilled into Week 1, where Devonta Freeman just barely out-snapped (36) and out-touched (15) Tevin Coleman (32, 13). Most concerning was Coleman's better production on less opportunity, totaling 117 yards to Freeman's 40. Coleman out-targeted Freeman 6 to 4 and made chunk plays in the passing game, bailing out Matt Ryan on screens, wheel routes, and checkdowns with Atlanta's quarterback under duress. If Freeman had any shining light, it was his six red-zone touches compared to Coleman's one. As a Freeman owner in multiple leagues, I'll still be downgrading him to a low-end RB2 and upgrading Coleman into flex territory. The Raiders held Saints running backs to 72 scoreless yards on 19 carries (3.79 YPC) in Week 1, and Oakland's offense seems likely to pile up points on Atlanta's weak defense, creating negative game script for the Falcons' rushing attack. ... Ryan turned in his best game in awhile last Sunday versus Tampa Bay, finishing as the weekly QB6 and topping 330 passing yards, a mark Ryan exceeded just three times all last year. Despite their impressive on-paper personnel, the Raiders' pass defense didn't impress at all in the season opener, yielding 423 yards and four touchdowns to Drew Brees. The Raiders were forced to bench RCB Sean Smith for getting torched by Brandin Cooks (6-143-2) and Willie Snead (9-172-1). While Oakland should play better in its home opener, Ryan is worth firing up in two-quarterback leagues. I am still treading lightly with Ryan in standard-sized formats. Ryan has managed 22 touchdown passes over his last 16 road games (1.34 average) compared to 29 TDs in his last 17 games at home (1.71).
Ryan's Week 1 target distribution: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Jacob Tamme 8; Coleman 6; Freeman 4, Justin Hardy 2. ... Another reason to approach Ryan with Week 2 caution is ankle injuries suffered by Jones and Sanu. Both will play, but the injuries present unnecessary risk for Ryan in a potentially overrated spot. ... Julio let down a lot of DFS players last week, meaning he is virtually certain to go lesser owned than his talent dictates. Ryan leaned on Jones heavily outside the Georgia Dome last year, targeting Julio a whopping 14.9 times per game on the road compared to a 10.5-target average at home. Jones remains an elite WR1 in season-long leagues and is especially attractive in DFS tournaments. Jones should run most of his pass routes at RCB Smith, whose confidence may be shaken. ... Sanu is likely to see more of LCB David Amerson, who wasn't great in Week 1 but wasn't nearly the burn victim Smith was. 59 of Sanu's 80 yards in Week 1 came on a busted coverage, and Amerson (6'1/205) has the requisite size to put clamps on Sanu (6'2/211), who I'm viewing as a low-end WR3 this week. ... The 2015 Raiders were one of the NFL's most generous teams in terms of tight end production allowed, but they gave up only six yards on four targets to Coby Fleener in Week 1 after upgrading their secondary and linebacker corps in the offseason. There will be better weeks to stream Tamme.
Score Prediction: Raiders 27, Falcons 20
Indianapolis @ Denver
Vegas Projected Score: Broncos 26, Colts 20
C.J. Anderson is a home-favorite running back on extra rest following last Thursday night's win over the Panthers. Now the Broncos' offensive centerpiece, Anderson logged 83% of Denver's snaps and out-touched rookie Devontae Booker 24 to 3. In addition to his enhanced workloads, Anderson should continue to benefit from the Full-Kubiak offense in which frequent bootleg action helps create rushing alleys and the Broncos will stay committed to the running game. Denver had only 28 called passes compared to 29 runs against Carolina. Week 2 opponent Indy was gashed for a combined 21-109-2 (5.19 YPC) rushing line last week by Lions running backs after Detroit finished dead last in the NFL in rushing in 2015. Anderson is an elite RB1 in season-long leagues and a strong cash-game play in DFS. ... NFL Films' Greg Cosell described Week 1 Lions-Colts as "a college game" because no defense was played. Indianapolis' nonexistent defense had the biggest hand in it, getting torched all day long at the second level, where the Colts' linebackers are the slowest in the league. Trevor Siemian is a mere caretaker in Denver's offense, but there won't be a better week to start him in two-quarterback leagues. I would not yet be willing to trust Siemian in standard formats, and he doesn't offer enough upside for DFS.
Siemian's Week 1 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 8; Demaryius Thomas 6; Anderson and Virgil Green 5. ... Per NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Siemian went 10-of-10 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown on throws to the left side of the field in Week 1. Sanders ran the most routes on that side and will mainly match up with 32-year-old Colts RCB Antonio Cromartie, who was signed late in camp and missed practice time this week with a hamstring injury. Particularly with Demaryius battling a bothersome hip, Sanders is a highly attractive WR2/3 play. ... Already banged up and in danger of losing significant volume in Denver's revised offense, Thomas needs to be downgraded to a shaky WR3 despite this week's favorable on-paper draw. Mid-week reports stated Demaryius could be seen "grabbing" at the hip and "grimacing" at Wednesday's practice, where he participated in only one-third of his usual reps. ... Conversely, the arrow is up on streaming candidate Green, who runs his pass routes in areas of the field Siemian is most comfortable throwing the ball and will square off with the Colts' putrid second-level defenders. Lions tight ends combined for a 6-51-1 receiving line against Indianapolis in Week 1.
After losing their opener on a last-second field goal by Lions K Matt Prater, the Colts visit the Broncos as six-point road dogs. Dating back to last season, Denver has faced consecutively the high-scoring offenses of New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Carolina (twice), holding them to point totals of 18, 16, 20, 17, 10, and 20. While the Colts' Week 1 performance was promising in that they protected Andrew Luck and dropped 35 points on the Lions, nothing about Luck's matchup suggests he is likely to have similar success in Week 2. Luck did face the Broncos' defense in Week 9 last season -- albeit in a game played in Indianapolis -- and emerged as the No. 9 fantasy quarterback that week. Luck is a low-end QB1 start in the rematch. ... After finishing No. 4 in run-defense DVOA last year, the Broncos held Panthers running backs to 83 scoreless yards on 20 carries in Week 1. Coming off an 18-touch opener versus Detroit, Frank Gore should be downgraded to a low-ceiling RB2/flex option at Denver. This is a game the Broncos should be able to control with their run game and defense, limiting Indy's offensive volume. The Colts are more likely to move the ball with quick passes than runs by Gore.
Luck's Week 1 target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 12; Donte Moncrief 7; Phillip Dorsett, Dwayne Allen, and Gore 6; Jack Doyle 4. ... All skill players have bleaker-than-usual outlooks against the NFL's premier defense, but Hilton's heavy Week 1 usage combined with a passable Week 9 stat line (5-82) in last year's date with Denver suggests he can continue to be trusted in fantasy lineups. I suspect we will see Broncos top CB Chris Harris (5'9/194) spend the most time on Hilton (5'10/183) while Aqib Talib (6'1/202) squares off with Moncrief (6'2/223). ... Moncrief hit pay dirt last week against Detroit and now has six touchdown catches in Luck's last eight starts. The Broncos struggled with Kelvin Benjamin's size in Week 1 (6-91-1) and Moncrief is the Colts' biggest wideout. ... 4.33 speedster Dorsett paced the Colts in receiving yards (94) against the Lions, delivering chunk plays deep downfield. As Indianapolis' No. 3 passing-game option at best with little red-zone involvement, however, Dorsett will be very tough to trust on a weekly basis. I'm viewing him as a WR4 in season-long leagues barring an injury to Hilton or Moncrief. ... Allen ran a pass route on 61% of his Opening Day plays, a huge improvement on his 39% rate from last year. Unfortunately, Allen shared time with fluke two-touchdown scorer Doyle, playing only ten more snaps than the Colts' No. 2 tight end. Allen will continue to be a touchdown-or-bust low-end TE1. Allen's matchup remains favorable against a Broncos defense that allowed the NFL's eighth most yards to tight ends last season and gave up 7-73 to Greg Olsen in Week 1.
Score Prediction: Broncos 24, Colts 20
Sunday Night Football
Green Bay @ Minnesota
Vegas Projected Score: Packers 22.75, Vikings 20.25
The Packers' Week 1 offense disappointed considering the return of Jordy Nelson (knee) and addition of Jared Cook, getting nothing going downfield and forcing Aaron Rodgers to make plays out of structure and off improvisation in Green Bay's 27-23 win over Jacksonville. Rodgers' fantasy week was salvaged by three all-purpose touchdowns, but the lone highlight was an incredible-if-fortunate scoring bomb to Davante Adams with a defender draped on Rodgers' back. It will likely take a few weeks for the Packers' offense to resume hitting on all cylinders. In four games against Minnesota since Mike Zimmer took over as coach, Rodgers' weekly fantasy finishes have been QB18, QB8, QB8, and QB13. The Vikings return home after limiting Marcus Mariota to a QB14 finish in Week 1, where both of Mariota's touchdowns came on throws to running back DeMarco Murray. Typically a better fantasy bet at Lambeau, I like Rodgers as more of a mid-range to low-end QB1 than elite option in this matchup. ... Eddie Lacy logged 15 touches and a 53% snap share to James Starks' five touches and 26% playing-time clip in Week 1. Albeit not a full-time bellcow, Lacy's performance and usage were promising for a back selected as an RB2 in most drafts, regaining his tackle-breaking form with ample burst to the edge. The Vikings did play stout Opening Day defense, limiting Murray and Derrick Henry to a combined 18-45-0 (2.5 YPC) rushing line in Nashville. Lacy remains a solid-if-unspectacular start in season-long leagues.
Rodgers' Week 1 target distribution: Nelson 9; Randall Cobb 8; Adams 7; Richard Rodgers 3; Lacy and Jared Cook 2. ... Despite pre-game snap-count concerns, Nelson was on the field for 79% of the Packers' offensive plays, led the team in targets, and got by Jaguars WLB Telvin Smith for a six-yard touchdown in Week 1. Nelson is more WR2 than WR1 until he and Rodgers iron out their timing. Jordy's matchup is improved by the Vikings' loss of top CB Xavier Rhodes (knee). Fill-in RCB Trae Waynes was Tajae Sharpe's (7-76) whipping boy on Opening Day. ... Cobb's four career stat lines versus Zimmer's Vikings: 6-37-0, 2-24-1, 4-58-0, 3-34-1. Set to contend with underrated slot corner Captain Munnerlyn, Cobb is a WR2/3 play this week. One positive Week 1 takeaway was the Packers' use of Cobb frequently in the backfield, which is a means of defeating man coverage by getting Cobb matched up on linebackers. Cobb supplemented his receiving line (6-57) with three carries for 11 yards. ... Adams dominated third receiver snaps in Jacksonville, logging an 85% snap rate and making a diving catch on Rodgers' 29-yard touchdown bomb. Adams is going to be an inconsistent producer as the third wheel in Green Bay's passing game, but his role is secure. ... A popular Week 1 DFS play and tight end streamer, Cook (49%) wound up sharing snaps with Richard Rodgers (39%) as the duo rotated in three-receiver, one-tight end 11 personnel, which Green Bay utilized on every single snap. Cook and Rodgers are in a committee that will render them untrustworthy week-to-week fantasy investments.
Sam Bradford will take over as the Vikings' quarterback after his September 3 acquisition, giving Bradford exactly 14 days of preparation ahead of his first Vikings start. Bradford will almost certainly be used as a low-volume game manager whose primary responsibility is handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson. Bradford would be a weak two-quarterback-league play against a Packers pass defense that ranked Nos. 6 and 11 in DVOA the past two seasons and held Blake Bortles to the fantasy QB17 finish despite 42 dropbacks in Week 1. ... Including the playoffs, Peterson has a 174-600-6 (3.45 YPC) rushing line over his last nine games with just 77.4 total yards per game during that stretch. As the sample size grows, these are increasingly concerning developments for a 31 1/2-year-old running back who doesn't have enough receiving value to compensate for any loss of ground-game effectiveness. The Packers' defense lived in the Jaguars' backfield last week, holding T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson to a combined 24-46-1 (1.92 YPC) rushing line. In last year's two meetings, Green Bay held Peterson to 13-45-1 and 19-67-1. Peterson belongs in season-long lineups, but he's no longer cash-game viable in DFS. We will know the Vikings are concerned if they begin giving Jerick McKinnon more snaps at Peterson's expense.
Stefon Diggs confirmed he has a stranglehold on No. 1 wideout duties in Minnesota by pacing the team in Week 1 targets (9) at Tennessee, and parlaying them into 7-103 receiving. Diggs was all over the place, making catches against five different Titans defenders. Slot man Adam Thielen chipped in 4-54, but no other Vikings perimeter receiver exceeded six yards. Diggs' production came with Shaun Hill, of course, and it remains to be seen whether he developed any rapport with Bradford over the past two weeks. Diggs' matchup is improved by the Packers' loss of top CB Sam Shields (concussion). ... Although I prefer Eric Ebron, Jesse James, and Virgil Green over him, Kyle Rudolph is worth a look as a deep-league tight end streamer. Inexperienced at inside linebacker, Green Bay hemorrhaged 7-112-1 to Jaguars tight ends on Opening Day. Rudolph was hit or miss against the Packers last season, dropping 6-106-1 on DC Dom Capers' defense in Week 11 before goose egging in Week 17.
Score Prediction: Packers 23, Vikings 21
Monday Night Football
Philadelphia @ Chicago
Vegas Projected Score: Bears 22.75, Eagles 19.75
The Eagles were creative in their Week 1 use of Carson Wentz and didn't shy away from letting him rip it. They used Pistol formations, read option, and boot action to capitalize on Wentz's underrated athleticism, and the No. 2 overall pick emerged with 37 pass attempts plus two scrambles in his NFL debut. After shining against the Browns, Wentz gets a tougher Week 2 test at Soldier Field, where the Bears are coming off an opener in which they hit Brock Osweiler eight times and limited Houston's running game to 35-129-0 (3.69 YPC) rushing. Wentz will also be without Zach Ertz (ribs), one of his top-two pass catchers. While Wentz has earned two-quarterback-league consideration, Ertz's absence keeps him at the lower end. ... Ryan Mathews' draw is also more difficult than it may appear, but his secure usage solidifies Mathews' RB2 value. Mathews out-touched Darren Sproles 22 to 7 in Week 1 and led all NFL running backs in red-zone carries (7), including three inside Cleveland's five-yard line. Sproles' domination of passing-game work and high snap share (41%) keep Mathews out of RB1 hunt.
Wentz's Week 1 targets besides Ertz: Jordan Matthews 14; Sproles and Nelson Agholor 5; Josh Huff 3; Dorial Green-Beckham 2; Brent Celek 1. ... The Bears gave up 5-107-1 to Will Fuller and 5-54-1 to DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1 and present a gorgeous draw for Matthews, who made five of his seven Week 1 catches when lined up at slot receiver. On Monday night, J-Matt will take on Bears second-year UDFA slot corner Bryce Callahan, who stands 5'10/184 to Matthews' 6'3/212. Coming off an opener where he dominated targets in a game with positive script, and now entering a Week 2 game where the Eagles seem likely to face more negative script, J-Matt is a locked-in WR2 with WR1 upside and one of my favorite DFS plays of the week. Matthews' outlook is enhanced by Ertz's absence. ... Matthews also dominated Week 1 snap share (88%), while Agholor (83%) was the clear No. 2. Huff (35%) and DGB (31%) rotated in situationally. With Ertz out for a few weeks, the arrow is pointing up on Agholor after a solid opener (4-57-1) wherein he dusted Joe Haden for a 35-yard touchdown. Agholor should draw Bears journeyman LCB Tracy Porter for most of Monday night's game and is worth a look in deeper PPR leagues where you can start four or more wide receivers. ... To replace Ertz, the Eagles figure to turn to a timeshare of Celek and athletic Trey Burton, who missed Week 1 with a calf injury. Until one of the Eagles' complementary tight ends establishes himself as a consistent target for Wentz, they will be low-floor dart throws in fantasy leagues.
Hosting Philly as three-point favorites, the Bears return from a Week 1 game in Houston where they looked competitive in the first half but fell apart in the final two quarters. Jay Cutler absorbed five sacks and an incredible 13 hits, and Chicago didn't move the ball at all in the second half, where their final seven possessions consisted of five punts, one interception, and a turnover on downs. While there are exploitable aspects of the Eagles' secondary, their front seven is highly imposing and largely dominated last Sunday's win over Cleveland. Cutler is just a two-quarterback-league option this week. ... Jeremy Langford remained inefficient with his run- and pass-game chances against Houston, but he logged 96% of the Week 1 snaps and 95% of the Bears' running back touches. That workhorse usage is going to keep Langford in the every-week RB2 mix even if he isn't breaking many tackles or busting big plays. Dating back to last season, Langford has spent four games as the Bears' feature back. Langford has emerged from them averaging 20.8 touches per game with five TDs. He should be viewed as a high-floor fantasy play versus the Eagles.
Cutler's Week 1 target distribution: Kevin White 7; Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal 6; Langford and Zach Miller 4. ... Jeffery dominated the early part of last week's loss to the Texans with 105 yards in two quarters, but he was held catch-less in the final two frames. With White and Miller struggling, expect a major uptick in Jeffery's Week 2 workload versus an Eagles defense that was weak at corner long before losing LCB Leodis McKelvin to a hamstring strain. Philadelphia served up deep balls to Corey Coleman (58 yards) and Terrelle Pryor (44) last Sunday. Jeffery is an elite WR1 play who is underpriced on DFS sites. ... White's preseason struggles carried over into Week 1, where he managed 34 yards on seven targets with a third-down drop and a bad route that resulted in an interception, after which Cutler could be seen scolding White. Slot man Royal (65%) played less than White (98%) against the Texans, but that may need to change soon. ... Miller (3-14) was barely heard from at Houston and gets a tough Monday night draw versus an Eagles defense that has long shut down enemy tight ends, and held Gary Barnidge catch-less on two targets in Week 1. (In fairness, both of Barnidge's targets were drops.) The Bears are going to need more from Miller going forward, but he will be hard to trust until it actually happens.
Score Prediction: Bears 23, Eagles 21