1:00 PM ET Games
Cleveland @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 23.5, Browns 15.5
This game’s 39-point total is Week 2’s second lowest in a battle between teams that scored 18 (Browns) and 20 (Ravens) points on Opening Day, the first quarterbacked by an exciting but inconsistent rookie and the second by less-than-full health Joe Flacco, who missed all of August with herniated disc in his back and struggled to get his usual mustard on Week 1 throws before the Ravens took the air out of the ball in a shutout victory. Flacco’s nine completions and 17 attempts were both half-decade lows, and his longest completion – a 48-yard score to Jeremy Maclin – occurred on a wide-open slot route where a confused Bengals secondary let Maclin sprint untouched to the house. Flacco threw multiple touchdown passes in just three games last year and two occurred against the Browns, but his health and volume are difficult to trust as more than a two-quarterback-league play. … As Danny Woodhead (hamstring) went down early against Cincinnati, the Ravens turned to Buck Allen as their backfield leader in snaps (50%) and touches (21) with Terrance West (41%, 19) close behind. West played more than Allen when the game was still competitive, however, and scored on a second-quarter goal-line run. West remains the favorite for carries and easy touchdown chances, but Allen’s superior passing-game prowess makes him almost as good of a PPR bet. Filling in as Baltimore’s lead back late in the 2015 season, Allen averaged 18.9 touches per game from Week 11 on and caught four or more passes in six of the final seven weeks. Favored by over a touchdown at home against the Browns, West is an underrated RB2 play and Allen is an immediate flex option.
Flacco’s Week 1 target distribution: Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman 4; Woodhead 3; West, Allen, Mike Wallace, Ben Watson, Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams 1. … Maclin caught the aforementioned break on his 48-yard score and otherwise managed eight yards on three targets against Cincinnati. Still, he is the Ravens’ go-to receiver and therefore offers WR3/flex viability. Maclin ran 77% of his Week 1 routes at slot receiver, where the Browns play second-year UDFA Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Per PFF’s Nate Jahnke, Antonio Brown piled up 99 yards on just nine slot routes against the Browns last week. … 31-year-old Wallace was a ghost in Cincinnati, playing only five more snaps than Perriman and drawing three fewer targets. I’d like to see evidence of Flacco challenging a defense vertically before investing a fantasy start into Wallace, who fell below 60 yards in each of last year’s two Browns games. … Perriman logged a 64% snap rate in Week 1, managing five yards on four targets while losing coverage battles with Bengals CBs Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III. Perriman is only a Dynasty-league stash. … Each member of the Ravens’ tight end committee drew a single Week 1 target. Molasses-slow Boyle (5.04) led the unit in playing time (68%), 36-year-old Watson (61%) came in second, and Williams (26%) was a distant third.
DeShone Kizer has flashed promise each time he’s taken an NFL field, but he will be a quarterback to stream defenses against for the foreseeable future. Week 1 opponent Pittsburgh posted top-six D/ST stats, capitalizing on Kizer’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long with seven sacks. Kizer’s aggressive passing mentality and rushing skills will give him fantasy appeal against weaker foes, but not on the road at Baltimore. The Ravens return home after shutting out the Bengals on the road, and Baltimore has allowed an average of just 14.8 points over its last eight games at M&T Bank Stadium. … The Ravens’ annually impenetrable front remained stout in last week’s win over the Bengals, limiting Cincy backs to a combined 21/75/3.57/0 rushing line and five catches. Isaiah Crowell’s Week 2 outlook is rough as a severe road underdog against an immovable defense. Thinking forward, it is good news that Crowell logged a robust 78% snap rate with 19 touches in Week 1, while Duke Johnson played in the slot and rookie Matt Dayes only swiped five touches on 20% of the plays. Crowell’s schedule lightens up considerably in Weeks 3-5 (@ IND, vs. CIN, vs. NYJ), so he will likely become a buy-low target soon.
Kizer’s Week 1 target distribution: Corey Coleman 6; Duke Johnson and Seth DeValve 5; Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis 3; Crowell, Dayes, and David Njoku 2. … Kizer’s preseason rapport with Coleman carried over into the first game, where Coleman notched 5/53/1 receiving while leading the Browns in targets. Coleman’s touchdown came on a quick slant near the goal line, out-muscling Steelers RCB Artie Burns. Although his Week 2 matchup isn’t easy against a Ravens secondary that checked A.J. Green (5/74/0) in Week 1, it’s become clear Coleman is Kizer’s go-to guy and Cleveland’s lone fantasy-viable pass catcher. … Johnson’s move into the slot hurts his fantasy value because he’s not going to be racking up change-of-pace carries to supplement his receiving stats. Johnson is bench fodder in PPR leagues and droppable in non-PPR with basement-low TD probability each week. … Kizer showed no tangible chemistry with Britt or affinity for throwing to him in August, and in Week 1 Britt caught 1-of-3 targets for 13 yards with a drop. After coach Hue Jackson wouldn’t even commit to Britt as a Week 2 starter early this week, Britt looks droppable in re-draft leagues. … As expected, the Browns used a three-way tight end committee in Week 1. DeValve led the way in snaps (47%) and targets but isn’t anywhere close to a full-time player. First-round pick Njoku (44%) was his rotational partner. Blocker Randall Telfer played 27% of the downs.
Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Browns 14
Chicago @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Buccaneers 25, Bears 18
After their opener was canceled due to Hurricane Irma, the Bucs’ season kicks off against an upstart Bears team that would have upset the Falcons in Week 1 if not for a mistake-filled red-zone possession at the end of the game. Chicago largely played lights-out defense against last year’s best offensive team in a 23-17 defeat. The Bucs do have a full, real game of tape on the Bears, whereas Chicago can only study Tampa Bay’s preseason snaps, while Jameis Winston has had historical success against Bears DC Vic Fangio’s defense, meeting twice in the past two years with QB10 and QB8 weekly fantasy finishes on yardage/touchdown totals of 312/2 and 295/2. With DeSean Jackson on board to elevate the entirety of Tampa Bay’s offense, Winston is a confident QB1 start for Week 2. Over the past two years, Kirk Cousins averaged 48.5 more yards per game and over a full yard more per pass attempt (8.44, 7.41) with Jackson in the lineup as opposed to without him. … The Bucs will start Jacquizz Rodgers at tailback with Doug Martin suspended until Week 5. Across five 2016 starts, Rodgers averaged 23.4 touches for 105.2 yards per game, although passing-game specialist Charles Sims played in only one of those and is now 100%. Rodgers’ matchup also looks tough against a Bears front that just shut down the Falcons’ elite run game, holding Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to a 20/53/2.65/1 rushing line on Opening Day. Still, as a home-favorite running back set up for 16-plus touches, Rodgers is at worst a viable RB2 despite the less-than-ideal draw. Rodgers will follow up with starts against the Vikings and Giants before Martin returns.
Winston turned in useful 2015-2016 fantasy games against Chicago despite slow ones from Mike Evans, whose two career stat lines against Fangio defenses are 4/61/0 and 4/66/0. Fangio’s unit also contained Julio Jones (4/66/0) in Week 1 with heavy coverage, although it freed up Austin Hooper for big plays and allowed Mohamed Sanu to rack up easy catches. Still, with Jackson on the other side, Fangio figures to be less capable of selling out to stop Evans. … It is promising for Cameron Brate’s outlook that Hooper ripped off gains of 88 (TD) and 40 yards against the Bears, who lost coverage-maven ILB Jerrell Freeman to a torn pectoral. Despite the first-round selection of O.J. Howard, Brate remained the Bucs’ lead tight end this preseason and led all NFL tight ends in 2016 slot-route percentage (64%) while catching six of his eight TDs when lined up inside. In last year’s Week 10 date with Chicago, Brate posted his second-highest yardage total (84) of the season and caught 7-of-7 targets with a ten-yard score. Brate is an underrated TE1 play for Week 2. … I’d like to learn more about Howard’s usage before streaming him, specifically his block-vs.-route percentage after Howard blocked on 53% of his preseason snaps. Brate blocked just 29% of the time in August. … You know what you’re getting into with DeSean Jackson; he is a high-variance play. And that figures to especially be the case in a balanced Bucs offense where Jackson won’t be peppered with targets. Whereas last year’s Redskins finished seventh in the NFL in pass attempts, last year’s Bucs came in 16th. Jackson faced Fangio’s Bears in each of the past two years, unsurprisingly emerging with inconsistent box-score results (2/43/0, 5/114/0).
Mike Glennon avoided egregious Week 1 mistakes and drove the Bears into final-drive scoring position in a near upset of the Falcons, and for that he deserved a better fate. But Glennon remained the dink-and-dunk passer he’s always been despite his 6-foot-7 height and supposedly strong arm, and his Week 2 outlook is far worse bringing the NFL’s weakest wideout corps on a road trip to Tampa Bay. The Bucs are the same organization that let Glennon walk in 2017 free agency after OC-turned-head coach Dirk Koetter spent the last two years learning Glennon’s strengths and weaknesses. And they now have a 67-snap tape of Glennon in the Bears’ offense. Last year’s Bucs allowed just 17.1 points per game over the final eight weeks, also quietly finishing top nine in the NFL in sacks (38) and fourth in interceptions (17). The Bucs are one of my favorite D/ST streamers for Week 2. … The Bears’ backfield was a full-fledged committee in last week’s loss to Atlanta. Jordan Howard led in touches (16) and playing time (57%), but dynamic rookie Tarik Cohen (13, 42%) was close behind and outgained Howard 113 to 66. Howard didn’t help himself by dropping a would-be game-winning touchdown catch at the goal line on the Bears’ final second-down play. Chicago’s wideout deficiencies should secure Cohen’s passing-game usage after he led the team in Week 1 targets (12). At least for Week 2, Howard needs to be downgraded to a risky RB2 as a road-dog running back facing a talented and deep Bucs defensive front that stole 326-pound stud DT Chris Baker from the Redskins to play alongside perennial difference maker Gerald McCoy. On projected game script alone, this matchup looks much stronger on paper for Cohen than Howard.
Glennon’s Week 1 target distribution: Cohen 12; Zach Miller 6; Howard 5; Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, and Kevin White 4; Dion Sims 3; Deonte Thompson 2. … Whereas Sims blocked nearly half of the time, Miller ran a pass route on 75% of his Opening Day snaps and is worth DFS punt-play discussion against the Bucs, who are breaking in new starters at Sam linebacker (Devante Bond), strong safety (T.J. Ward), and slot corner (Robert McClain), all areas where Miller runs routes. … In the post-Cameron Meredith (ACL/MCL) and Kevin White (shoulder) era, Wright is easily the Bears’ best wideout left standing. Wright got hot after White went down in the fourth quarter of Week 1, drawing all four of his targets in the final 12 minutes and catching three for 34 yards. Wright figures to run most of his routes at McClain, who is with his fifth different NFL team in four years. As Chicago’s pass volume could be elevated by negative game script, Wright is a prime Week 2 bounce-back target after he disappointed the DFS community as a high-owned Week 1 play. … Even with White out of the picture, I am in wait-and-see mode with the rest of the Bears’ pass catchers. Thompson played 66% of the Bears’ Week 1 snaps but drew only two targets, dropping one. Bellamy was a 49% player, gaining just 27 yards on three catches with a drop and spraining an ankle. Markus Wheaton will apparently make his Bears debut after missing all of training camp and Week 1 due to an emergency appendectomy, followed by a fractured finger.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Bears 14
Minnesota @ Pittsburgh
Team Totals: Steelers 25.5, Vikings 20
Back from a Week 1 performance where he exceeded expectations relative to his past road splits in a 263-yard, two-score effort at Cleveland, Ben Roethlisberger draws a far-tougher matchup against Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, who held Drew Brees to a QB16 finish last Monday night with a pass defense that punched holes in the Saints’ normally strong offensive line and held every New Orleans pass catcher below 55 yards. Roethlisberger’s at-home dominance still matters, of course, and it is now coupled with Martavis Bryant’s elevation effect on the whole of Pittsburgh’s offense. Ben’s home-away splits held strong last season; including playoffs, he posted a 10:10 TD-to-INT ratio away from Heinz Field versus a 20:5 clip in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger accomplished the home feats against several very-good defenses, notably posting yardage/touchdown totals of 259/3 versus Cincinnati, 300/5 versus the Chiefs, 289/2 against the Giants, and 279/3 against Baltimore. Had you been betting on the Steelers’ offense when they played at home over the past three-plus years, you likely own a home. … Le’Veon Bell displayed surprising rust in Week 1 against the Browns, managing 47 yards on 13 touches as OC Todd Haley showed more faith in his aerial attack than Bell, who missed all of training camp due to a holdout. Bell now has two full weeks of practice under his belt, and he is going to need to be the centerpiece of this offense for the Steelers to have their best chance at staying power in an AFC that opened up a bit when the Patriots lost in Week 1. The play here, obviously, is to keep faith in Bell, and potentially grab him at reduced DFS ownership. The Vikings’ run defense did look stouter than ever last Monday night, limiting Saints running backs to a combined 19/53/2.79/0 rushing line.
Roethlisberger's Week 1 targets: Antonio Brown 11; Jesse James 8; Bell and Martavis Bryant 6; Eli Rogers 5; Vance McDonald 1. … A Vikings reporter tweeted that he witnessed Xavier Rhodes practicing on different sides of the formation this week, presumably in preparation for shadowing Brown. The reporter then deleted his tweet because tweeting in-season practice observations is not permitted by the Vikings. It sounds like we have a chance to get Brown in single coverage against Rhodes, who later popped up on the injury report with a hip ailment. I have respect for Rhodes, but I have way more respect for Brown, who is our generation’s Jerry Rice. … Bryant looked rusty and/or out of sync with Ben in Week 1, dropping one of his six targets and watching as another got picked off. His two-catch, 14-yard return after a year away due to suspension was a good reminder that while always exciting in theory, Bryant has a very low weekly floor. He has finished below 50 yards in 14-of-22 (64%) regular season games. Nevertheless, Martavis maintains through-the-roof weekly upside, and news that Rhodes may shadow Brown enhances Bryant’s matchup because it will put him up against Vikings LCB Trae Waynes, who allowed all eight passes thrown his way in Week 1 to be completed for 90 yards and a touchdown. … Staying ahead of trade pickup Vance McDonald, James logged a 90% Week 1 snap rate and scored two red-zone touchdowns. It’s a reminder that as a byproduct of simply playing in a great offense, getting lots of snaps, and being 6-foot-7, James is a sneaky bet for a double-digit touchdown year. I question James’ week-to-week floor when he doesn’t hit pay dirt, but he’s always going to encounter favorable matchups as defenses concern themselves much more with halting the Killer Bs.
Saturday Update: Note that if Sam Bradford (knee) does not play Sunday, his absence would significantly reduce the Vikings' offensive expectation as a whole, severely damaging the fantasy outlooks for Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph, and make the Steelers one of this week's premier D/ST plays.
I was really into the Vikings’ offense and team as a whole entering the season, but I think the public overreacted at least a bit to their Monday night dominance of New Orleans. This exciting, revamped offense will face its first strong test in a short-week road trip to Pittsburgh, which has 37 sacks over its last ten regular season games with healthy reinforcements at every level of DC Keith Butler’s defense. Albeit in part due to rookie DeShone Kizer’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long, Pittsburgh piled up seven Week 1 sacks and completely eliminated the Browns’ run game, dominating what was thought to be and will likely still be a solid Cleveland offensive line. Risk was added to Sam Bradford when late-week word broke of stability problems in his twice-surgically-repaired left knee, and the Vikings signed QB Kyle Sloter off their practice squad on Saturday. I'm downgrading Bradford to a risky two-QB-league play. … The Steelers held Browns backs to a combined 20/40/0 rushing line on Opening Day after finishing No. 11 in run-defense DVOA last season despite DE Cameron Heyward’s nine missed games. Going from home favorite against the Saints to six-point road dog at Heinz Field, Dalvin Cook’s situation is far less favorable this week than last. Nevertheless, we can hang our hats on Cook’s usage. The Vikings fed their second-round pick 25 touches on 78% of the Week 1 snaps, and alleged goal-line/short-yardage threat Latavius Murray fumbled on half of his two carries.
Bradford’s Week 1 target distribution: Adam Thielen 10; Stefon Diggs 8; Cook 5; Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon 3; Jarius Wright 2; Laquon Treadwell 1. … The biggest weakness in Pittsburgh’s defense right now is pre-season acquisition CB Joe Haden, who allowed an NFL-high 109 receiving yards in Week 1, most notably getting burned by ex-teammate Corey Coleman. As Haden is playing all of his snaps on the perimeter and Diggs is now running 77% of his routes outside, this matchup lays out favorably for Diggs to build on his monster Monday night (7/93/2) versus New Orleans. … The Steelers rotated 32-year-old William Gay and second-year UDFA Mike Hilton at slot corner on Opening Day, with Hilton logging more snaps. This is notable for Thielen, who is now a 73% slot guy. Until further notice, I’m treating Thielen as a true every-week fantasy starter. Dating back to last season, Thielen has topped 100 yards in three of his last five games. … This is not a matchup to fear for Rudolph against a Steelers defense that yielded the NFL’s tenth-most receiving yards to tight ends (946) last season. Rudolph wound up blocking more than expected in Week 1 because Minnesota controlled the game with a lead, but there is every reason to stay with him as a mid-range to high-end TE1. Despite good defenses on both sides, this game offers some shootout potential. Rudolph has 82 receptions and eight touchdowns over his last 16 games.
Score Prediction: Steelers 27, Vikings 20
New England @ New Orleans
Team Totals: Patriots 31, Saints 25
After bungling their opener, Bill Belichick’s Patriots had ten days to prepare for a Saints team on a short week. In Week 2’s highest-totaled game, this is a premium bounce-back spot for Tom Brady. Last year’s Saints allowed the NFL’s second-most points (454) and a league-high 4,380 passing yards, and Rich Hribar nicknamed the Superdome football’s version of Coors Field for its elevation of enemy offenses. Although Brady relentlessly overthrew receivers against Kansas City, New England’s offense was as vertically oriented and aggressive as we’ve seen in sometime. After Brady averaged just 4.1 attempts per game aimed further than 20 yards downfield in 2016, he attempted nine 20-plus-yard throws in Week 1. Last Monday night, this same Saints defense struggled so badly in the pass-rush and coverage departments Sam Bradford was made to look like a budding All Pro. Yes, Brady’s Week 1 stunk. Let’s not overthink his Week 2. … Mike Gillislee has almost no passing-game involvement – he played just 30% of the Week 1 snaps, pass blocked once, ran four routes, and wasn’t targeted – but he is the Patriots’ clear-cut goal-line runner in the highest-totaled game of the week. He’s a good bet for a TD, if not multiple. … Rex Burkhead (12%) and Dion Lewis (7%) played minor Opening Day roles and are mere bench stashes in 12- and 14-team leagues. … James White was as close to a lead back as he’s ever been versus Kansas City, pacing his competition in playing time (53%) and logging double-digit carries for the first time in his career. (His previous high was seven rushes.) In what projects as an up-tempo, high-scoring affair, White should be locked and loaded as a PPR starter. He even offers flex appeal in non-PPR leagues this week.
Brady’s Week 1 target distribution: Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola 7; Rob Gronkowski 6; White and Chris Hogan 5; Burkhead 3; Dwayne Allen 2; Phillip Dorsett 1. … Over the past three weeks, the Patriots have lost top WR Julian Edelman (ACL), fourth WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee, I.R.), and Edelman replacement Danny Amendola (concussion/knee). Dorsett is still learning the offense after being acquired at final cuts. Due to the wideout shortage, New England seems likely to use more Gronk-Allen “12” personnel with Cooks and Hogan at receiver. Both Cooks and Hogan enter blowup spots against a Saints defense Stefon Diggs (7/93/2) and Adam Thielen (9/157) each shredded in Week 1. Hogan plays almost the exact same role Thielen does in the Vikings’ offense, and Diggs is used similarly to Cooks. … With Amendola out of the picture, Hogan and Gronk should eat in the middle of the field. I do agree with the popular notion Gronkowski didn’t look himself in Week 1, and the thought even crossed my mind in August when watching him in preseason games. (Perhaps it’s the reason Gronk played in preseason games after not doing so previously since 2012.) Either way, I think Eric Berry and the Chiefs’ swarming coverage warrants most credit for Gronkowski’s slow opener. Especially after losing so many critical passing-game parts, the Pats need to get Gronk going, and this is the perfect matchup to do it.
Last year’s Patriots finished 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, and they looked even worse in Week 1 as Alex Smith neared career highs in passing yards (368) and TDs (4). The main culprit was New England’s pass-rush void; they only hit Smith on four occasions, and his pocket was consistently clean beyond a few specific plays. Drew Brees is always an exceptional box-score bet at the Superdome, and there is nothing to fear about his Week 2 opponent. I believe Brees will go far lower owned in DFS than he should this week. … Adrian Peterson is bench fodder at best after he logged just 15% of New Orleans’ Week 1 snaps and appeared a complete misfit for the offense, then got into a sideline spat with Sean Payton. I can’t say I’d be surprised if Peterson didn’t dress week. … Rookie Alvin Kamara paced the Saints’ backfield in snaps (50%) and targets (6) in Week 1 at Minnesota, tying Mark Ingram for the team lead in touches (11). The Patriots allowed the NFL’s second-most receptions (102) and third-most receiving yards to running backs in 2016, then got flamed by Chiefs backs for a combined 6/102/2 receiving line on Opening Day. Kamara has already entered flex status as a PPR starter with upside for more. … Ingram still scored the most PPR points of the group in last Monday night’s loss, and his stat line would have been far bigger if not for repeated goal-line stuffs. Ingram has the most-secure role in the backfield and maintains RB2/flex value in all formats. I also expect Ingram to lead the Saints in carries this week. New England got trampled for an 18/169/9.39/2 rushing line by Chiefs RBs in Week 1, losing OLB Dont’a Hightower (MCL) in the process.
Brees’ Week 1 target distribution: Michael Thomas 8; Kamara and Coby Fleener 6; Ingram and Ted Ginn 5; Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis 3; Peterson 1. … Based on their body length, my best guess is we’ll see Stephon Gilmore chase Thomas while Malcolm Butler gets physical with Ginn. Neither is an ideal matchup, but the Patriots’ inability to generate up-front pressure is a potentially fatal flaw that will inevitably make their secondary look worse. In a probable shootout, Thomas is a big-upside WR1 play and Ginn a respectable WR3/flex, especially after we saw Tyreek Hill blow 20 yards behind New England’s defense on a 75-yard touchdown bomb last week. … The Pats allowed the NFL’s fifth- and sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends over the past two seasons, then shut down Travis Kelce (5/40/0) in the opener, although No. 2 TE Demetrius Harris’ stat line (2/15/1) does elevate what New England served up to the position as a group. Fleener’s usage is still what matters most. In two games missed by Willie Snead over the past two seasons, Fleener’s receiving lines are 7/109/1 and 5/54/1, and Fleener showed an unusual-for-him willingness to fight for balls in traffic last Monday night. Keep streaming him until Snead returns.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34, Saints 31
Philadelphia @ Kansas City
Team Totals: Chiefs 26.5, Eagles 21
The 47.5-point total on Eagles-Chiefs is third highest of Week 2 in a battle between teams that produced Week 1 scoring outputs of 42 (Kansas City) and 30 (Philadelphia) in difficult road matchups. Even after his big opener, Carson Wentz should be approached with caution at Arrowhead, where the Chiefs have held each of their last six opponents below 20 points and allowed an average of 14.6 points over their last eight games. Kansas City’s loss of SS Eric Berry (Achilles’) does improve Wentz’s outlook, but not to the extent that he’s more than a risky QB1. The good news is Wentz’s pass catchers all have respectable matchups, which we’ll touch on shortly. … LeGarrette Blount was indeed the Eagles’ Week 1 lead runner despite his sluggish preseason, logging a team-high 15 touches even as Darren Sproles (49%) out-snapped him (35%). Blount scored his second-career receiving TD in Philly’s win over Washington, which obviously isn’t something fantasy leaguers can count on moving forward. The Eagles will soon find that putting Blount on the field limits their offense because it telegraphs to the defense that run plays are coming; Blount ran a pass route on just 4-of-24 Week 1 snaps. As Blount carries a dangerously low floor as a 5.5-point road underdog lacking a tangible passing-game role, he is at best viewed as a touchdown-or-bust flex option. … Despite pre-game buzz of an “increased role” for Wendell Smallwood, the second-year back managed nine yards on five touches in Philly’s win over the Skins, playing 23% of the snaps.
Wentz’s Week 1 targets: Sproles, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor 8; Alshon Jeffery 7; Torrey Smith 3; Brent Celek 2; Smallwood and Blount 1. … Ertz (8/93/0) led the Eagles in all Opening Day receiving categories and is the biggest matchup-driven beneficiary of Berry’s loss. The Chiefs will resort to some combination of Ron Parker and Daniel Sorensen covering tight ends. Ertz has 95 receptions over his last 16 games and has efficiently caught 39-of-47 (83%) of his targets from Wentz over their last five games together. … Chiefs LCB Marcus Peters patrols one side of the field, which is good news for Jeffery, who drew just one of his Week 1 targets on the right side of the offense where Peters lines up. Low-volume deep threat Smith appears likely to attract more of Peters’ coverage. Assuming the alignments hold, Jeffery is positioned for a bounce-back game against RCB Terrance Mitchell, whom PFF charged with a team-high 96 yards allowed in Week 1, not including several big pass-interference penalties Mitchell committed when trying to hang with Brandin Cooks. For the foreseeable future, the right and slot corner positions in Kansas City’s secondary will be areas to attack. … The Eagles’ biggest Week 1 surprise was Agholor’s breakout (6/86/1). Philly’s slot man logged 59% of the offensive snaps, abusing the Skins’ linebackers and safeties. Agholor looked crisp and quick, but I’d like to see him get another plus box score under his belt before trusting him in any form of fantasy. Prior to Opening Day, Agholor went 28 career games without hitting 65 yards and scored just three touchdowns in that span.
After a highlight-reel Week 1 display in Foxboro, the Chiefs return home with ten days to prepare for Andy Reid’s former team in what’s expected to be a relatively high-scoring game with Kansas City favored by 5.5 points. Andy Behrens’ favorite statistic is that Alex Smith has never thrown for 300 yards twice in the same season, which will be put to the test against an Eagles pass defense that had glaring secondary deficiencies even before losing top CB Ronald Darby (dislocated ankle) until midseason. We have a 137-start sample that suggests Smith is a low-ceiling fantasy passer, but I couldn’t discourage any 12- to 14-team fantasy leaguers from streaming him in this spot, even if it feels point-chasey. … Kareem Hunt turned in literally the best Week 1 by a rookie running back of all time in last week’s upset victory. While Hunt deserves credit for his elusiveness, power, and tendency to waste zero steps while pressing the hole, what most stood out to me was his route-running diversity. Hardly just a checkdown catcher, Hunt ran legitimate downfield routes against the Patriots and turned his short receptions into long gains with surplus RAC. The lone mild concern was Hunt's snap rate (57%); he led all NFL running backs in Week 1 fantasy points but finished 18th in playing time. Hunt’s playing time could easily rise going forward, of course, and it should. Week 2 opponent Philadelphia played stout defense by holding Redskins backs to a combined 13/34/2.62/0 rushing line last week, although they were gashed by Chris Thompson in the passing game (4/52/1). Hunt is an elite every-week RB1.
Smith’s Week 1 target distribution: Tyreek Hill 8; Travis Kelce 7; Hunt and Albert Wilson 5; Chris Conley 4; Demetrius Harris 2; Charcandrick West 1. … The Patriots held Hill in check for the most part, but FS Devin McCourty blew coverage on one specific play and Hill got wide open behind the defense for a 75-yard touchdown, which accounted for 70% of his Week 1 fantasy production. Hill’s opener was still very promising, leading the Chiefs in target percentage (23%) on a career-high 74% snap rate. Hill figures to be a chalky DFS play against the Darby-less Eagles. … Philadelphia allowed the NFL’s second-fewest yards to tight ends (423) last season, then contained Jordan Reed (5/36/0) in Week 1. In a non-ideal Week 2 matchup, a fantasy start invested into Kelce is a bet made almost entirely on Kelce’s talent. It is worth noting that tight ends historically tend to have their highest-scoring games at home, and Kelce has scored 8-of-14 career touchdowns at Arrowhead. … Conley led all Chiefs wide receivers in Week 1 snaps (94%), but only gained 43 yards on four targets to show for it. Including playoffs, Conley has appeared in 36 career games and has never exceeded 70 yards. He has one career regular season touchdown. … Wilson manned slot receiver against New England, collecting his five targets on a 57% playing-time clip.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 24, Eagles 21
Tennessee @ Jacksonville
Team Totals: Titans 21.5, Jaguars 20.5
Titans-Jags has a modest game total (42.0) with visiting Tennessee as a short road favorite. The Jaguars’ offensive intentions were clear all offseason and in Week 1, as they amassed 39 team rushing attempts while needing only 11 completions to whip the home-favorite Texans 29-7. With Allen Robinson (ACL) done for the year, Jacksonville’s run-game emphasis should remain just as much if not more ardent versus a Titans team that showed some Opening Day run-defense leakage against the Raiders, whose backs combined for a sustaining, chain-moving 26/102/0 rushing line even though no Oakland runs reached 15 yards. Tennessee also lost run-stopping SS Johnathan Cyprien to a multi-week hamstring strain. Expect more extreme-volume usage for Leonard Fournette, who tallied a whopping 20 touches at halftime against the Texans, and finished with 29. There were reasons to be concerned about Fournette entering the season, but at this point he should be considered a confident RB1. … Chris Ivory excelled in the Jaguars’ change-up role in Houston and should continue to log 8-12 touches per game assuming positive game script. Ivory isn’t a sexy name at this point, but I think he is worthy of a bench stash in 14-team season-long leagues with some standalone fantasy value and underrated upside on this run-committed team should Fournette’s foot act up again. … Blake Bortles’ low-volume, game-manager role curbs his upside and lowers his floor, and losing Robinson deals Bortles a significant blow as the Jaguars’ only dangerous perimeter playmaker. Bortles is merely a two-quarterback-league option at this point.
Bortles’ Week 1 target distribution: Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee 4; Fournette 3; Ivory and Keelan Cole 2; Robinson, Arrelious Benn, James O’Shaughnessy, Tommy Bohanon 1. … Lee frustratingly didn’t catch any of his four Opening Day targets, but he is most elevated by Robinson’s loss as the Jaguars’ top playmaker left. The Titans’ vulnerable secondary allowed the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers in Week 1, a number that would’ve been far bigger had Amari Cooper corralled numerous easy end-zone targets. Lee is an uncomfortable Week 2 fantasy start, but an underrated one based on opportunity and matchup. He tied for the team lead in Week 1 targets and played 83% of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps. … Slot man Hurns was an 80% Week 1 player and is the only other Jags pass catcher worthy of a mention. The situation in Jacksonville was much different back in 2014, of course, but when Robinson missed six games that year with a broken foot, Hurns averaged 6.8 targets per game. On a much more run-heavy 2017 Jaguars team, that or something even lower seems like a reasonable weekly projection for Hurns.
A combination of Houston’s Duane Brown-less offensive line and Texans quarterbacks’ penchant for gripping the ball far too long in the pocket played significant parts, but nothing should be taken away from the Jaguars’ ferocious Week 1 defensive effort. The Jags amassed a league-high ten sacks and surrendered a league-low 2.9 yards per play, and at every level of Jacksonville’s defense there are legitimate, proven difference makers. Marcus Mariota has a favorable box-score history against the Jags, but this isn’t those underachieving defenses of the past. At very least, fantasy expectations need to be lowered in this projected low-scoring road game. … DeMarco Murray rotated with Derrick Henry slightly more than expected on Opening Day, logging 14 touches on 73% of the snaps to Henry’s six touches on a 28% playing-time clip. What really hurt Murray was Tennessee finishing with 42 pass dropbacks versus 18 running back rushing attempts. In Week 2, Murray draws a tougher matchup against a Jags defense that stymied the Texans’ running game last week, holding Houston backs to a combined 21/77/3.67/0 rushing line. Resuming a run-oriented offense would be one logical approach for the Titans to take after their surprise pass-first Week 1 game plan. I’m still treating Murray as a borderline RB1, albeit with reduced expectations for Week 2 considering the matchup. Henry hasn’t earned flex consideration yet.
Mariota’s Week 1 targets: Corey Davis 10; Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews 9; Eric Decker 8; Murray and Taywan Taylor 2. … As the Titans’ perimeter wideouts will have to deal with shutdown Jags CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, Walker looks to have the most promising Week 2 draw in Tennessee’s pass-catcher corps. Even as each of the Texans’ three tight ends were concussed in last week’s game – for real – Houston’s TEs combined to corral six passes against Jacksonville, while DeAndre Hopkins was the lone Texans wideout to catch a ball. Walker looks like the Titans’ best bet to move chains through the air in this matchup. … Davis’ Week 1 usage was much stronger than expected, leading the team in targets on 66% of the snaps. Davis has a brutal schedule over the next three weeks (@ JAX, vs. SEA, @ HOU), but it opens up considerably after that. I’d upgrade Davis to a WR4/flex in 12- and 14-team leagues for the time being. A Brandon Marshall-level talent coming out of Western Michigan, Davis has WR2 upside over the course of the year. … Because he plays the slot on 72% of his snaps and should therefore draw much less of Bouye and Ramsey, Decker has the best Week 2 matchup in Tennessee’s wideout corps. Jags slot CB Aaron Colvin is far from a slouch, but I’d take my chances targeting him over Jacksonville’s stingy boundary corners. Decker did next to nothing in Week 1, but his snaps (94%) and targets (8) were both where they need to be for fantasy viability. … Matthews is in a similar Week 2 spot to Davis. I’m treating Decker as a WR3/flex and Davis and Matthews as WR4/flex options this week.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 23, Titans 20
Arizona @ Indianapolis
Team Totals: Cardinals 25.5, Colts 18.5
The box-score-driven post-game narrative on Carson Palmer’s three-pick Week 1 didn’t quite align with on-field reality. Football is a game very much dictated by ball bounces, and the ball simply didn’t bounce Arizona’s way in Detroit. Palmer’s interceptions were all explainable: a route mixup with David Johnson, a high pass caused by Palmer getting hit at the end of his follow-through, and a ball that bounced off Andre Ellington's body right into Lions SS Miles Killebrew’s hands for a pick six. Palmer’s velocity and ball placement were all there after an impressive preseason, and I even thought he showed an ability to elude the pass rush he’s lacked in recent years. Jermaine Gresham and Larry Fitzgerald both dropped touchdowns, and J.J. Nelson alligator armed a 40-yard sideline bomb that would have elevated Palmer’s yardage well above 300. Losing Johnson (wrist), LT D.J. Humphries (knee), LG Mike Iupati (triceps), and John Brown (quad) are non-negotiable blows, but I’m not shying away from streaming Palmer in 12- and 14-team leagues against the Colts, who allowed an AFC-most seven completions of 20-plus yards to Jared Goff in Week 1 while generating minimal pass rush (five QB hits, 1 sack). … In Johnson’s absence, the Cardinals will resort to a three-back committee tentatively led by Kerwynn Williams with receiving back Ellington in the change-up role and 244-pound thumper Elijhaa Penny offering a short-yardage option. Ellington paced what’s left of the backfield in Week 1 playing time (27%) but handled only two touches. Williams didn’t play as much (12%) but logged six touches and executed a goal-line carry. Penny made three special teams tackles. Even in a favorable Week 2 matchup, Williams and Ellington look like dicey flex plays. I prefer Williams of the two. Chris Johnson looked washed up this preseason and was cut, so I’m not expecting anything from him.
Palmer’s Week 1 target distribution: Larry Fitz 13; Johnson and John Brown 9; J.J. Nelson 6; Jermaine Gresham 4; Ellington 3; Williams 1. … Fitzgerald came oh-so-close to a two-touchdown opener, narrowly missing a catch at the one-yard line in the first half, then letting a deep end-zone pass bounce off both of his hands on Arizona’s final drive. Fitzgerald’s 13 targets were second most in the league, and he draws another plus Week 2 matchup against a Colts defense Rams rookie slot WR Cooper Kupp hit for a 4/76/1 receiving line on six targets last week. As Arizona’s offensive focal point post-David Johnson, I am confidently standing behind Fitzgerald as a legitimate WR1 play in this game. His outlook is further enhanced by Brown (out, quad) and Gresham's (questionable, ribs) injuries. … Jaron Brown (75%) out-snapped J.J. Nelson last week, but Brown struggled to get open against Lions CBs Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson, and didn’t see a single target. With John Brown ruled out, Nelson is the best fantasy best bet because of his ability to separate and Palmer’s willingness to throw to him in the red zone. Nelson quietly has eight TDs over his last ten games.
Held to one touchdown by the Aaron Donald-less Rams defense in Week 1, the Colts’ offense is FUBAR and will remain so until Andrew Luck (shoulder) returns, which isn’t expected for “several more weeks,” according to reports. … Indy’s predictable inability to sustain drives resulted in the Colts running just 50 Week 1 offensive plays compared to the Rams’ 65, and Los Angeles dominated time of possession 34 to 25. … No Colts pass catcher hauled in more than three passes or reached 60 yards in the embarrassing, 46-9 loss, and this week T.Y. Hilton figures to draw Patrick Peterson’s shadow coverage. I’m dropping Hilton to a WR4. … The Cardinals gave up the NFL’s fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2016, then held Eric Ebron to a 2/9/0 receiving line on three targets on Opening Day, none of which bodes well for Jack Doyle. … Indy’s backfield is even more of a low-upside, low-floor quagmire after Frank Gore (38%), rookie Marlon Mack (34%), and Robert Turbin (28%) rotated on a near-even Week 1 basis. Gore and Mack tied for the team lead in touches (11) with Turbin (3) third in line. As Indy has a bottom-five team total on the Week 2 slate, this is an offense to avoid in as many fantasy-lineup decisions as possible.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 27, Colts 13
Buffalo @ Carolina
Team Totals: Panthers 25, Bills 18
With just two preseason passes under his belt after throwing-shoulder surgery, Cam Newton showed early rust in Week 1 at San Francisco. He eventually settled in, completing each of his final nine attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown in a lopsided, 23-3 victory. Newton now returns home to face the Bills, who let career-59% passer Josh McCown complete 67% of his Week 1 attempts with Jermaine Kearse, Will Tye, and “Eric Tomlinson” as his top-three pass catchers. The Bills have new starters at 6-of-7 spots in their defensive back seven, most of whom aren’t very good. They also failed to generate meaningful pressure on McCown, hitting him on just 5-of-40 dropbacks with one sack. This is a possible smash spot for Cam, who is a threat to lead all quarterbacks in weekly fantasy points whenever healthy. … Christian McCaffrey out-snapped Jonathan Stewart 70% to 43% in Week 1, but Stewart out-touched McCaffrey 20 to 18, and Stewart scored the backfield’s lone TD on a red-zone reception where McCaffrey served as a decoy. As Carolina is favored by a touchdown at home, this sets up as another positive-script game where Stewart can log a similar if not superior workload to his dynamic rookie counterpart, giving both Panthers backs RB2/flex appeal. The Bills shut down the lowly Jets running game in Week 1, but Buffalo’s up-front personnel is largely the same from last year’s, when they finished 30th in run-defense DVOA, allowing the NFL’s third-most run plays of 20-plus yards (14) and the league’s fourth-highest yards-per-carry average (4.55). For Carolina’s offense, this should be a plus matchup across the board.
Newton’s Week 1 targets: McCaffrey 7; Kelvin Benjamin 5; Greg Olsen 4; Stewart, Russell Shepard, and Devin Funchess 2. … All Panthers pass catchers disappointed on Opening Day due in large part to game flow, as Newton needed only 17 completions and 171 yards to seal the win. This game does set up as another that may leave Benjamin and Olsen in a low-volume bind, although both have near-pristine matchups. Bills No. 2 CB E.J. Gaines will tough out a shoulder injury, and No. 1 CB Tre’Davious White is a severely sub-par 12th-percentile SPARQ athlete who coughed up nine touchdown catches over his final two seasons at LSU. Benjamin should stay locked into season-long lineups and is an intriguing buy-back play in DFS. This same Bills secondary gave up seven catches to Seahawks castoff Jermaine Kearse last week. … When targeting tight ends against Buffalo in Week 1, Josh McCown went a perfect 5-of-5 for 59 yards. Olsen wound up blocking on 61% of his snaps in San Francisco simply because the 49ers were so non-competitive. … On his Week 1 40-yard touchdown catch, Shepard got wide open in the middle of the field, then beat a pathetic tackle attempt by 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt to reach pay dirt. Just Carolina’s No. 3 receiver, Shepard played 30% of the Panthers’ offensive snaps and is safe to ignore. … Funchess played 67% of the Week 1 downs, but he drew only two targets and continues to struggle to separate.
Whether it spills over into a new season under a new regime remains to be seen, but last year’s Bills had stark home-road splits. Buffalo averaged 30.8 points per game at The Ralph compared to 19.1 points in away games, and Tyrod Taylor threw 12-of-17 TD passes at home. The Panthers’ defense is no slouch, either. After a slow start to 2016, Carolina held seven of its final ten opponents to 20 points or fewer, and their front seven dominated the 49ers’ offensive line in Week 1, amassing eight hits and four sacks. Tyrod Taylor was a great DFS tournament play on Opening Day, but he is a risky two-quarterback-league option in Week 2. … LeSean McCoy outscored Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson in Week 1, and OC Rick Dennison said the Bills would not back off McCoy’s workloads moving forward after he piled up 27 touches against the Jets. Regardless of opponent, McCoy will be a top-three RB1 play for as long as his body holds up on this usage. … It’s not a sexy take, but “Tub of Goo” Mike Tolbert warrants rostering in touchdown-heavy leagues. Tolbert logged two carries inside the five-yard line in Week 1 and 13 touches overall on a 30% playing-time rate. The Bills are going to be an extremely run-heavy team in 2017. Tolbert appears locked into 9-14 touches per game with sporadic goal-line chances sprinkled in.
Taylor’s Week 1 target distribution: Charles Clay 9; LeSean McCoy 6; Zay Jones 4; Jordan Matthews 3; Nick O’Leary 2; Tolbert, Patrick DiMarco, Andre Holmes 1. … The narrative that quarterback-pass-catcher familiarity matters held true with Tyrod and Clay in Week 1, as Clay led Buffalo in targets and caught his eighth TD in 29 games as a Bill. Last year’s Panthers allowed the league’s second-most fantasy points to tight ends, a position to which their Cover-3 zone can be vulnerable. This looks like a neutral matchup for Clay at worst, and his usage has a real chance to be bankable moving forward. He warrants genuine TE1 discussion. … Matthews and Jones look like routine fades against unsung Panthers CBs James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, who held Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin to a combined 9/102/0 receiving line on 16 targets last week. Taylor is far more of a big-play than high-volume, short-area thrower, and Carolina’s zone defense is designed specifically to make offenses work underneath.
Score Prediction: Panthers 27, Bills 17
4:05 PM ET Games
NY Jets @ Oakland
Team Totals: Raiders 28.5, Jets 15
As nearly two-touchdown home favorites against the minor-league Jets, every Raiders skill-position player is a full-fantasy go for Week 2. It is a legitimate waste of time to worry about game script in situations where the offense is positioned to impose its will on a defense. The Jets are traveling cross country to take on Derek Carr, who was last week’s fantasy QB7 as part of a balanced Raiders attack that passed 32 times with 29 rushes. This is a game where Oakland should build a significant lead, and Carr is their likeliest means of building it. He has a great floor and better ceiling against a Jets defense that allowed Tyrod Taylor to be last week’s fantasy QB9 throwing to Charles Clay, Jordan Matthews, and Zay Jones. … The visiting Jets got their clocks cleaned by Buffalo in Week 1, allowing LeSean McCoy and “Tub of Goo” Mike Tolbert to combine for a 34/152/1 rushing line. 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch showed he still has tackle-breaking ability left in the tank with 92 violent yards on 19 touches against Tennessee. Lynch played just 47% of the Raiders’ offensive snaps, however, as DeAndre Washington (24%) and Jalen Richard (21%) operated as near-equal change-of-pace partners. Still, the Raiders’ status as a monster home favorite and Lynch’s #NarrativeStreet appeal in his native Oakland’s home opener make him an overwhelmingly strong bet for a strong Week 2 game. Lynch stated emotionally that the reason he un-retired was to play in the Raiders’ final season in Oakland before the franchise moves to Las Vegas.
Carr’s Week 1 targets: Amari Cooper 13; Michael Crabtree 7; Jared Cook 5; Lynch and Washington 2; Richard, Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson 1. … Cooper grabbed a big Opening Day target lead, but he has been out-targeted by Crabtree 146/145 to 130/132 over the past two years, and their usage going forward should be closer to even. Beyond numerous red-zone drops by Cooper, both Raiders wideouts looked spry against the Titans, and Crabtree was at-times dominant in last week’s road-game upset win. Both have plus Week 2 draws against Jets CBs Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, and Juston Burris. Cooper and Crabtree should be locked into season-long lineups and strongly considered in DFS, where Crabtree figures to remain underowned. … Cook played a bigger Week 1 role than most expected, catching 5-of-5 targets for 56 yards on a 71% snap rate. Bills tight ends combined for a 5/75/1 receiving line against the Jets in Week 1. An athletic seam stretcher, Cook has already earned streamer consideration for Week 2.
Even in a game where Josh McCown moved the offense relatively admirably by getting the ball out quick, the Jets were a Week 1 trainwreck against the defense-deficient Bills. The running game was a near-complete non-factor as Matt Forte out-snapped Bilal Powell 60% to 52%, yet Powell held a lead in touches with 12 to Forte’s 9. Gang Green predictably lost the time-of-possession battle 33 to 27, which should be a common theme all year for the NFL’s most-inept offense. Powell is the better fantasy play, but neither resembles a reliable fantasy option. … No Jets rusher reached 25 yards in Week 1, and no Jets pass catcher hit 60. Jermaine Kearse led the way in targets (9) and catches (7) on 95% of the snaps. Robby Anderson did finish second in targets (8) but managed 22 yards despite a team-high 98% playing-time clip. Rookies ArDarius Stewart (66%) and Chad Hansen (21%) rounded out the corps. Even against a weak Raiders defense, I don’t think there is a single strong fantasy option in the Jets’ offense this week.
Score Prediction: Raiders 34, Jets 10
Miami @ LA Chargers
Team Totals: Chargers 24.5, Dolphins 20.5
As a four-point home favorite against the run-defense-deficient Dolphins, Melvin Gordon deserves to be one of this week’s most popular DFS plays after an opener where Gordon logged 23 touches and six targets on a 76% snap rate. Traveling cross country after their originally-scheduled season opener was postponed due to Hurricane Irma, the Fins finished 22nd in run-defense DVOA last season and will be forced to start fifth-round rookie DT Davon Godchaux on the interior in addition to third-year UDFA MLB Mike Hull, who is getting the nod only because out-of-shape projected starter Rey Maualuga (hamstring) couldn't practice this week. When these clubs met last November, Gordon piled up 29 touches and 132 all-purpose yards. … Philip Rivers hogged the touchdowns in these clubs’ 2016 meeting, passing for 326 yards and three scores, although he did throw four picks. Nevertheless, Rivers should be approached as a high-floor, high-ceiling Week 2 fantasy quarterback returning home after a three-TD game in Denver. The Dolphins seriously considered benching “top” CB Byron Maxwell in favor of retread Alterraun Verner in August, and sophomore bookend CB Xavien Howard struggled mightily as a rookie. Miami’s starting free safety will be journeyman Nate Allen until T.J. McDonald’s suspension ends.
Rivers’ Week 1 targets: Keenan Allen 10; Tyrell Williams 7; Gordon 6; Travis Benjamin 4; Antonio Gates 3; Austin Ekeler 2; Branden Oliver 1. … Allen has a white-hot matchup against the Dolphins’ leaky secondary, specifically slot CB Bobby McCain after Allen ran 61% of his Week 1 routes inside. Among 52 qualified slot defenders last season, McCain’s 113.5 passer rating allowed ranked tenth worst by PFF. … Run-after-catch maven Williams also has a gorgeous draw outside versus whatever combination of Howard, Verner, and Maxwell the Dolphins trot out. Albeit without target vacuum Allen in the lineup, Williams flamed a similar-looking Miami secondary for a 5/125/1 receiving line in these clubs’ 2016 game. … Benjamin operated as Los Angeles’ No. 3 receiver against the Broncos, logging a 67% snap rate and beating RCB Bradley Roby for a 38-yard TD. Benjamin lacks standalone fantasy value, but his explosiveness is a boon to the Chargers’ offense. … Gates led the Chargers’ tight end timeshare in Week 1, out-snapping Hunter Henry 66% to 40%. Henry ran only seven pass routes and didn’t draw a single target. The Chargers may continue to force the issue with Gates until he breaks Tony Gonzalez’s all-time tight end touchdown record, for which Gates and Gonzo are presently tied. Now is the time to play Gates in fantasy, especially DFS. Henry is unplayable until the usage shifts. With Allen at safety, aging Lawrence Timmons at strong-side linebacker, and slow-footed Maualuga in the middle, the Dolphins should be vulnerable to tight end production all season long.
The Chargers’ D/ST is worth a long look for streamers as home favorites facing a cross-country-traveling Dolphins team quarterbacked by turnover-prone Jay Cutler, whose mistakes were limited (21:11 TD-to-INT ratio) by coach Adam Gase’s conservative approach during their 2015 Bears season together, but who has an extensive track record suggesting he’s always a defense-friendly target. Cutler has led the NFL in interceptions twice, is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and has spent just over a month with his new team after forgoing retirement to reunite with Gase. Projected game script indicates the Dolphins will be playing from behind in this one, enhancing the odds Cutler gives the ball to the other team while having to deal with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram’s edge pressure with stud CB Casey Hayward cornering the perimeter. … The Bolts held Jay Ajayi to 80 total yards on 20 touches when these clubs met last November. Los Angeles did lose run-stuffer MLB Denzel Perryman (ankle) to injured reserve during the preseason, and finished 2016 a middling 16th in run-defense DVOA. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles combined for a 30/121/4.03/0 rushing line against them last Monday night. While this isn’t quite an ideal spot for Ajayi on paper, his volume should be bankable as Miami’s offense focus. Ajayi averaged 22.2 touches per game from Weeks 5-16 last year.
DeVante Parker opens with a difficult draw versus Chargers CB Casey Hayward, who contained Demaryius Thomas (5/67/0) last week. All told, Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were held to 93 scoreless yards on 14 targets. The good news is Cutler has shown a persistent willingness to target receivers when "covered," which bodes well for Parker's volume as well as Hayward's interception odds. … Kenny Stills is a low-volume, big-play specialist bound for TD regression after Stills flukily scored nine touchdowns on 42 catches last season. With Parker taking on a bigger role and Julius Thomas joining the pass-catcher corps, Stills’ TD total is certain to lessen. … Jarvis Landry played 72% of his 2016 snaps in the slot and has the best on-paper matchup in Miami’s receiver corps against Chargers slot CB Trevor Williams, a second-year UDFA out of Penn State. It was concerning that Cutler showed much less chemistry with Landry than Parker this preseason, but the Dolphins look likely to need a big game from Landry, especially if they fall into negative script as road underdogs. … Behind Parker, Landry, and Stills in the pecking order for targets, Julius Thomas will be a touchdown-dependent streamer all year long. Unfortunately, Thomas’ touchdown juice ran out when he left Peyton Manning’s Broncos for big money in Jacksonville. Thomas has just 9 TDs over his last 26 games. The Chargers did flash tight end vulnerability in Week 1, yielding a combined 5/98/0 stat line to Denver’s TE triumvirate.
Score Prediction: Chargers 31, Dolphins 20
4:25 PM ET Games
San Francisco @ Seattle
Team Totals: Seahawks 28.25, 49ers 14.25
Offensive-line incompetence torpedoed the Seahawks’ ability to move the ball in Week 1 at Lambeau, where they managed three field goals as Russell Wilson took eight hits and four sacks. One forward-thinking positive is that Seattle’s road-game offensive struggles were the norm all last year, but they were much better at home. Including playoffs, the Seahawks have averaged 30.1 points over their last eight games at CenturyLink Field, versus a pathetic 15.6 points over their last ten games on the road, including five efforts of 10 points or fewer. This gives us Week 2 optimism for Week 1 fantasy bust Wilson, whose individual performance showed a quarterback far past last year’s knee and ankle injuries. As spry as ever, Wilson ripped off 29- and 11-yard scrambles and wiggled his way out of countless sacks against the Pack. … The Seahawks’ run-game outlook should be boosted by San Francisco’s loss of rookie WLB Reuben Foster (high ankle sprain), who flashed high-impact ability versus both the run and pass in preseason games and 11 Opening Day snaps. Unfortunately, Seattle’s backfield distribution is unclear with Thomas Rawls expected to start after missing Week 1 with his own high ankle sprain, rookie Chris Carson continuing to show the most all-purpose ability, and C.J. Prosise locked into passing-down duties. Eddie Lacy figures to be the odd man out after playing just 14% of the offensive snaps last week and generating three yards on five runs. Rawls is risky, but his Week 2 ceiling appears to be the highest in this group.
Wilson’s Week 1 targets: Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham 7; Doug Baldwin 4; Tyler Lockett 3; Carson and Nick Vannett 1. … Baldwin’s home-road splits are also hard to ignore, seeing as they’ve been drastic for more than two seasons. Since the beginning of the 2015 campaign, Baldwin has averaged 84.2 yards and 0.75 TDs per game at The Clink compared to 53.7 yards and 0.53 TDs on the road. Baldwin runs over 60% of his routes in the slot, and in Week 1 the 49ers used fourth-year UDFA K’Waun Williams and SS Jaquiski Tartt as slot corners, giving up a 40-yard score to Panthers slot WR Russell Shepard. … Richardson was Seattle’s clear No. 2 wideout in Green Bay, tying for the team target lead and out-snapping Lockett 84% to 53%. We all want Lockett to “happen,” but the Seahawks have several reasons to continue to limit his offensive usage, most notably Lockett’s return-game value and NFL injury history. Either way, Richardson and Lockett are both high-variance WR4/flex types regardless of opponent. Richardson is the better dart throw because of his superior opportunity. … Graham had a rough Week 1, dropping a pass and too often losing in contested situations. The Seahawks ran a league-low 49 Opening Day snaps, which played a major factor in their abysmal offensive box score. As Seattle is now back home where their offense tends to function much more smoothly, Graham is a prime rebound candidate.
The 49ers have a painfully low team total, coughed up nine quarterback hits and four sacks to Carolina’s defensive front at home last week, and now travel to face a superior defensive front in Seattle. The only viable Niners plays are volume driven, and to be avoided where possible based on this team’s low-scoring projection. … First is Carlos Hyde, whose Week 1 usage was certainly promising. Hyde logged a 79% snap rate in San Francisco’s loss to the Panthers, tallying 15 touches to No. 2 back Matt Breida’s 4 and utility FB Kyle Juszczyk’s 3. The Seahawks’ star-studded front seven unsurprisingly gave Packers RBs all kinds of problems at Lambeau last week, holding them to a combined 21/63/3.0/1 rushing line with no runs longer than eight yards. That same front is going to be even better at home. … Season-long leaguers drafted Pierre Garcon for his volume projection, and he delivered with ten Week 1 targets and a 6/81/0 result against the Panthers’ underrated corners. The Seahawks’ corners are better. Garcon can still be a PPR producer this week, but I don’t like his odds of having a truly big game. … The 49ers took shots downfield to Marquise Goodwin versus Carolina, but none of them connected. The fascination with Goodwin confuses me. His best receiving season was 421 yards in four years at Texas and his NFL career high is 431 yards. That is an eight-year sample of Goodwin not being a productive wideout.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 28, 49ers 13
Washington @ LA Rams
Team Totals: Rams 24.5, Redskins 21.5
After a turnover-filled home loss to the Eagles, the Redskins trek cross country for a Week 2 date with the upstart Rams, who poured 46 points on the Colts in Week 1 and got promising play from both their offensive line in pass protection and sophomore QB Jared Goff, who has played himself into every-week starter status in two-quarterback leagues with a solid preseason and first game. Albeit against an overwhelmed opponent, Goff executed rookie coach Sean McVay’s offense to perfection en route to QB14 fantasy numbers on the week. Goff gets another plus draw against the Skins, who finished 24th in pass-defense DVOA last year, then served up a top-five QB1 finish to Carson Wentz last week. In 12- and 14-team start-one-quarterback leagues, Goff has earned streamer consideration. … Even as Todd Gurley’s Week 1 rushing efficiency (2.1 YPC) was putrid, he delivered 96 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 24 touches and ran 25 pass routes, a number Gurley has bettered in only four previous career games. Gurley simply doesn’t look like the same back that came out of Georgia in 2015, but he is a volume-secure home favorite whose passing-game role will lift his floor. Among Week 2’s 16 games, Skins-Rams has the fourth-highest total (46.0) on the slate.
Goff’s Week 1 targets: Gurley and Cooper Kupp 6; Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods 5; Tyler Higbee 3; Derek Carrier 2; Tavon Austin and Gerald Everett 1. … Kupp led the Rams in Opening Day yards and tied for the team target lead in a game where Los Angeles attempted only 30 passes due to the lopsided score. McVay’s 2016 Redskins were seventh in the NFL in pass attempts, so higher-volume games are likely coming. Kupp now faces a Washington defense that got flamed in the slot all last year, then gave up a career-best 6/86/1 receiving line to Eagles slot WR Nelson Agholor in the first game. With outside CBs Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland likely to cause Watkins problems, Kupp should continue to flourish as the Rams’ best weekly bet for receiving stats. … Watkins is Los Angeles’ only other fantasy-playable pass catcher. He looked 100% in the first game, catching 5-of-5 targets for 58 yards but failing to get loose for big plays. Still, Watkins fell short of box-score expectations and will now face a much tougher task against a Washington defense that quieted Alshon Jeffery (3/38/0) and Torrey Smith (1/30/0) on Opening Day. The Skins are most exploitable in the middle of the field, where Kupp roams.
Kirk Cousins didn’t get much help from his drop-plagued teammates, but he committed three Week 1 turnovers in a disappointing performance where Cousins faced heavy pressure (eight hits, four sacks) against a disruptive Eagles front en route to a fantasy QB20 finish. The Rams are expected to get back holdout DT Aaron Donald, whose impact would be felt on the interior from both a pass-rush and run-defense standpoint. Until we see more chemistry between Cousins and his revamped pass-catcher corps, he’s best placed around the QB1 fringe. … Even without Donald on Opening Day, Los Angeles’ run defense limited Colts backs to a combined 22/73/3.31/1 rushing line. Rob Kelley was another Week 1 disappointment, sharing playing time nearly evenly with Chris Thompson, 52% to 48%. In addition to getting outplayed by Thompson in the first week, the biggest culprit for Washington’s opener was their decisive time-of-possession loss (34:26) and 18th-place finish in offensive plays run (63). Kelley managed 30 yards on ten carries and can only be viewed as a touchdown-dependent RB2/flex option at this stage. Thompson ripped off a 29-yard catch-and-run score, but only drew seven touches overall and can’t yet be trusted in fantasy lineups. Preseason fumbler Samaje Perine only played on special teams.
Cousins’ Week 1 target distribution: Terrelle Pryor 11; Jordan Reed 8; Jamison Crowder 7, Ryan Grant 6; Chris Thompson 5; Kelley and Brian Quick 1. … Everything is there for Pryor; he just has to execute. He led the Skins in Opening Day catches, yards, and targets, but dropped a 50-yard touchdown bomb after dropping 2-of-7 targets in the preseason. I do not believe Pryor has bad hands after he dropped just 6-of-140 targets in Cleveland last year. We need to continue to fire him up with confidence. … Josh Doctson keeps aggravating his bum hamstring and seems unlikely to contribute anytime soon, meaning coaches pet Grant will stay in the slot with Crowder being stretched outside. This is far from an optimal talent configuration in Washington’s wideout corps, and it doesn’t help that Crowder has battled some sort of hip injury. It’s possible I’m overreacting after Crowder’s alarming 14-yard opener, but I’m downgrading him to a WR4 and making him “prove it” before confidently reinvesting fantasy starts. … The Eagles’ annually stingy tight end coverage contained Reed (5/39/0) on Opening Day, but all of his usage was positive. He played 87% of the offensive snaps and finished second behind Pryor in targets. Whereas Crowder has found himself in a concerning situation, Pryor and Reed will continue to be big-upside bets.
Score Prediction: Redskins 24, Rams 23
Dallas @ Denver
Team Totals: Cowboys 21.5, Broncos 20.5
The Cowboys visit Denver as short road favorites (-1) coming off a cinch, 19-3 home-game win over the Giants. Dallas was extremely aggressive with Ezekiel Elliott’s workload, feeding him 29 touches and five targets -- tying Zeke’s highest target total from his rookie season -- while experiencing positive game script against the G-Men. It is in the passing game that Elliott offers most room for sophomore growth. The Broncos struggled against power running games all last year, although they do deserve credit for holding Chargers backs to a combined 22/64/2.9/0 rushing line in Week 1. I still don’t think this is a matchup to fear. With David Johnson on I.R., Elliott is all set to compete with Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy for the NFL’s biggest workloads on a weekly basis. … Dak Prescott’s brutal early-season schedule continues in this road trip to Mile High after Dak just barely squeaked into the start-caliber quarterback range with a fantasy QB11 finish in Week 1 against the Giants. Philip Rivers did throw three Opening Day touchdown passes against this same Broncos group, although he was held below 200 yards and was fortunate to play a role in each of the Chargers’ scores in Denver, including two TDs from 11 yards or closer. Ultimately, Prescott is a really good player in a really tough matchup. Here is a short list of perhaps non-obvious QBs I would rather play than him: Russell Wilson (vs. SF), Philip Rivers (vs. MIA), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. MIN), Derek Carr (vs. NYJ), Jameis Winston (vs. CHI), Carson Palmer (@ IND).
Prescott’s Week 1 target distribution: Dez Bryant and Jason Witten 9; Terrance Williams 7; Elliott and Cole Beasley 5; Brice Butler 3. … Bryant’s terrifying Weeks 1-3 schedule was the main reason he fell to the middle and sometimes late second round in most season-long drafts, and he failed the first test in last week’s win over the Giants, managing 43 scoreless yards with Janoris Jenkins draped all over him. The good news is Prescott kept throwing at him to the extent Dez led the team in targets despite the bad draw and led all Week 1 wideouts in end-zone targets (4). Bryant should get his fair share of RCB Bradley Roby in this game, as the Broncos do not use shadow coverage with any of their corners. Roby had a forgettable Week 1, allowing 5-of-8 Philip Rivers passes thrown his way to be completed for 77 yards, including Travis Benjamin’s 38-yard score. I’m downgrading Bryant to a WR3 during this rough patch – he gets Patrick Peterson in Arizona next – but still playing him in most of my season-long leagues where I have him. … Witten is Dak’s main fallback option when Bryant doesn’t separate and remains a viable streamer against Denver after a high-volume, 7/59/1 effort against the Giants. ... Williams and Beasley both look safe to ignore against Broncos LCB Aqib Talib and slot CB Chris Harris, respectively.
Trevor Siemian again showed why he deserved the Broncos’ starting quarterback job with a solid opener versus an underrated Chargers defense, but Siemian is a mere two-QB-league play against Dallas, who despite talent shortages at all three levels has a knack for limiting enemy quarterback production by playing disciplined under talent-maximizer Rod Marinelli, and benefits from an offense that routinely wins at keepaway. Last year’s Cowboys ranked second in the NFL in time of possession and a dead-middle 16th in fantasy quarterback points allowed, and in Week 1 only four teams possessed the ball longer, while Dallas opponent Eli Manning finished as the QB25. … C.J. Anderson was Denver’s clear-cut lead back last Monday night, out-touching Jamaal Charles 21 to 10 and out-snapping him 70% to 30%. Charles has looked good enough and got enough Week 1 usage to be worth stashing on season-long-league benches, but only Anderson is usable at the moment. The 2016 Cowboys quietly ranked No. 8 in run-defense DVOA, and in Week 1 they held Giants backs to a combined 30 yards on ten carries. With a strong Broncos defense behind him to control game script, Anderson looks like a bankable-volume RB2.
Siemian’s Week 1 target distribution: Demaryius Thomas 8; Emmanuel Sanders 6; Bennie Fowler 4; AJ Derby and Anderson 3; Jeff Heuerman 2; Charles and Virgil Green 1. … Cowboys top corner Orlando Scandrick suffered a broken left hand in Week 1, upgrading the matchups for both Thomas and Sanders. Sans Scandrick, the Cowboys’ boundary CBs will be retread journeyman Nolan Carroll and second-round rookie Chidobe Awuzie with Anthony Brown in the slot. Both Thomas and Sanders run the vast majority of their routes outside. Deciding between Thomas and Sanders on a one-for-one basis is difficult, but both are quality season-long-league starts. … I’m ignoring Fowler’s two-touchdown Week 1 game. Fowler played only 55% of Denver’s offensive snaps and ran just 27 routes, and his elevated red-zone usage was a function of matchup with Casey Hayward chasing Demaryius and Jason Verrett on Sanders. … Even against a Cowboys defense that got pounded by tight ends all last year, no Broncos tight end is appealing for Week 2. Green led in Week 1 playing time (65%), but he drew one solitary target and blocked on 73% of his snaps. Derby ran a route on 76% of his plays, but he was only in the game 42% of the time. Heuerman (25%) is the Broncos’ third-string tight end.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 23, Broncos 20
Sunday Night Football
Green Bay @ Atlanta
Team Totals: Falcons 28.5, Packers 25.5
Sporting Week 2’s second-highest game total, Packers-Falcons is a white-hot fantasy matchup between teams that played twice last season to high-scoring 44-21 and 33-32 results. Aaron Rodgers tagged Atlanta for a combined 7:1 TD-to-INT ratio, in addition to rushing lines of 6/60 and 4/46. Green Bay’s pass protection was an issue at times in its Week 1 win over Seattle, but Rodgers still emerged with 332 all-purpose yards against arguably the NFL’s most-talented defense. Now in a projected shootout at Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Rodgers is Week 2’s top fantasy quarterback play. … In an overwhelmingly promising opener, Ty Montgomery led all NFL running backs in snaps played (74) and turned 23 touches into 93 yards with a score. No. 2 back Jamaal Williams logged just six snaps and carried the ball twice, only entering when Montgomery briefly exited with an apparent bruise or nick on his leg, from which he quickly returned. Williams still hasn’t registered a rushing attempt of longer than six yards in the NFL, including the preseason. Being used as Green Bay’s version of David Johnson, Montgomery is a locked-in RB1 in season-long leagues and playable in DFS lineups alongside Rodgers because of his passing-game ability. The converted receiver ran a whopping 39 pass routes in Week 1. For perspective, Le’Veon Bell averaged 33.5 routes run per game in 2016. Last year’s Falcons allowed a league-high 109 receptions to backs, and in Week 1 Atlanta was tagged for a combined 11/61/1 receiving line by Bears RBs, not including Jordan Howard’s drop of a would’ve-been game-winning touchdown on Chicago’s final drive.
Rodgers’ Week 1 target distribution: Randall Cobb 13; Jordy Nelson 8; Davante Adams 7; Martellus Bennett 6; Montgomery and Lance Kendricks 4. … Finally healthy after battling ankle woes the past two years, Cobb paced the Packers in Week 1 catches (9) and yards (85), playing 77% of the snaps. In this likely shootout, Cobb should be upgraded to a high-floor PPR WR3/flex after dropping a 6/82/0 number on Atlanta in last January’s playoffs. … Jordy’s receiving lines against the Falcons last season were 4/94/1 and 6/67/1. Nelson drew a heavy dose of Desmond Trufant in the first meeting and mostly won those battles. As Rodgers’ top receiver in a probable high-scoring affair, Nelson is an elite-upside WR1 play against the Falcons. The Packers proactively kept Jordy in plus coverage matchups in their opener, as he did most of his damage against rookie RCB Shaq Griffin and Seattle’s linebackers rather than LCB Richard Sherman. … This is a bounce-back spot for Adams after he caught 12 passes in last season’s first meeting with Atlanta, then scored a touchdown against Dan Quinn’s club in the playoffs despite playing hurt. While Nelson and Cobb project to run most of their Week 2 routes at Trufant and slot CB Brian Poole, respectively, Adams figures to draw quite a bit of RCB Robert Alford, who is the Falcons’ weakest link at corner. … Bennett is yet another Packer in a plus Week 2 spot against an Atlanta defense that allowed the NFL’s eighth-most yards (975) and sixth-most touchdowns (8) to tight ends last year, then gave up a 6/70/0 stat line on nine targets to Bears tight ends last week. Bennett ran 44 routes in his first regular season game with the Packers. It was Martellus’ highest route total since Week 5 of the 2015 campaign.
Matt Ryan torched Packers DC Dom Capers’ defense in each of last season’s two meetings, notching yardage/touchdown totals of 288/3 and 392/4. In what projects as one of this year’s premier shootouts in the second-highest-totaled game on the Week 2 slate, Ryan deserves to be ranked among this week’s highest-floor and highest-ceiling quarterback plays. I am not buying the Packers’ strong Week 1 defensive effort as a sign of things to come, and will be sure to have DFS exposure to the 2016 NFL MVP. … In their first game under rookie OC Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons employed a closer-to-even backfield timeshare than outgoing OC Kyle Shanahan ran. Devonta Freeman out-snapped Tevin Coleman 61% to 41%, although Freeman won the all-purpose touches battle by a mere 14-to-12 margin, and Coleman out-targeted Freeman 6 to 2. We are still in one-game samples, but this could be a pretty significant development for both backs’ fantasy outlooks if the Opening Day usage holds. For now, I’m still treating Freeman as a fringe RB1 and Coleman as a much riskier but still-high-upside RB2/flex option.
Ryan’s Week 1 target distribution: Mohamed Sanu 9; Coleman 6; Julio Jones 5; Taylor Gabriel 4; Austin Hooper and Freeman 2. … Julio essentially operated as a decoy in Week 1 against the Bears, managing 66 scoreless yards on four catches while Hooper broke off big plays and Sanu moved the chains. The Packers’ secondary was not tested due to Seattle’s dysfunctional offense on Opening Day, so I have a hard time taking away much from that game. Julio is a top-three NFL wideout in the second-highest-totaled game on the slate. I think he is a cash-game play in DFS. … Possession target Sanu logged an 81% Week 1 snap rate and is worth a long look in PPR leagues in an up-tempo game where he won’t be the focus of Capers’ game plan. In last year’s two meetings with Green Bay, Sanu broke off receiving lines of 9/84/1 and 5/52/1. … Manufactured shot-play specialist Gabriel was reduced to Atlanta’s clear-cut No. 3 receiver in Sarkisian’s first game calling plays, handling 53% of the snaps. Gabriel offers long-catch potential but a low floor as a low-volume role player. … Based on Week 1 usage, the Falcons have committed to Hooper as a genuine every-down tight end, and a catch-first one at that. He played a career-high 80% of Atlanta’s Opening Day snaps and ran a pass route on 55% of his plays. Hooper was only targeted twice, but there are higher-volume games in his future based on his on-field participation and the manner in which he is being used. Hooper is primed to break out and worth starting as a TE1 in this likely shootout.
Score Prediction: Packers 34, Falcons 33
DFS Players: Packers at Falcons is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders' top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups this weekend in daily fantasy football.
Monday Night Football
Detroit @ NY Giants
Team Totals: Giants 23, Lions 20
Totaled at 43.0, Lions-Giants has a low-scoring outlook with few true upside plays on either side. Matthew Stafford did overcome a difficult Week 1 draw at home against the Cardinals en route to a top-three quarterback finish, but he now treks to The Meadowlands, where the G-Men yielded 17.1 points per game last year and held Stafford to a QB20 finish in Week 15, surrendering six points in a 17-6 win. As Rich Hribar noted in The Worksheet, Stafford has been far from a matchup-proof passer in recent seasons, and the Giants have far fewer holes in their secondary than Week 1 opponent Arizona did. The Giants allowed the NFL’s second-fewest touchdown passes (15) last season, then held Dak Prescott to one touchdown pass in Week 1. … Ameer Abdullah turned in a disappointing opener, too often running horizontally against the Cardinals and finishing with 41 scoreless yards on 18 touches while losing sporadic scoring-position carries to Dwayne Washington and lots of passing-game work to Theo Riddick. Abdullah wound up playing 48% of the snaps. Clearly just the leader of an RBBC and nowhere near a true bellcow back, Abdullah now visits New York as a three-point road dog to face a Giants run defense that finished last season No. 2 in DVOA, then held Dallas backs to a combined 28/105/3.75/0 rushing line in Week 1. Abdullah looks like another hard pass on the Lions’ side. … Riddick touched the ball only seven times against the Cardinals last week, but six of them were receptions and he was more apparent deep in the red zone, scoring on a third-quarter reception from seven yards out. Riddick is a passable, if not particularly high-upside PPR flex play. Last year’s Giants allowed the NFL’s 12th-most catches to running backs (83), then gave up five more to Ezekiel Elliott in the season opener.
Stafford’s Week 1 targets: Golden Tate 12; Riddick and Kenny Golladay 7; Abdullah and T.J. Jones 4; Eric Ebron 3; Marvin Jones 2. … Tate hung ten catches on Patrick Peterson’s Cardinals last week and an 8-122 line on 13 targets on the Giants when these teams met last Week 15. Tate is so quick in a short area and moves around the formation so often that defenses generally opt against shadowing him and trying to take him out. Peterson ran with Marvin Jones most often last week. As the wideout with whom gunslinger Stafford has the best chemistry, Tate is a locked-and-loaded WR2 with WR1 upside each week, particularly in PPR. … Anyone who made the mistake of starting Jones last week should feel fortunate they got a touchdown out of it, although Jones deserves credit for beating Peterson for the six-yard score. Jones’ Week 15 receiving line against the G-Men last year was 3/41/0 on five targets. Particularly with rookie Golladay emerging and Ebron likely to be a bigger factor this week, I have a hard time getting excited about Jones. … Golladay logged a 60% snap rate in his first-ever NFL game, then tore up Cardinals No. 2 CB Justin Bethel for 60 yards and two touchdowns. NumberFire’s JJ Zachariason has pride bordering on vanity for dubbing Golladay “Babytron,” a nickname the entire city of Detroit apparently detests. Either way, Golladay has worked himself into the every-week WR4/flex discussion. My guess is we’ll see Jenkins matched up more with Jones while Golladay draws Giants 2016 first-round disappointment RCB Eli Apple in significant doses. … Ebron is flying well under the radar after a quiet opener against the Cardinals’ shutdown tight end coverage. That description wouldn’t fit the G-Men, who gave up last year’s fifth-most catches (89) and fourth-most yards (1,052) to tight ends, then yielded a 7/59/1 line to molasses-mover Jason Witten in Week 1. At worst, Ebron is a sensible streamer.
Odell Beckham is capable of breathing life into the Giants’ offense, but the unit could not have looked poorer without him against an at-best-mediocre Cowboys defense last Sunday night. Eli Manning’s arm looked shot all last year and no different in Dallas. Albeit without as many pick sixes (yet), Eli has faded into late-career Jake Delhomme/Matt Schaub territory as a dead-armed, gun-shy passer who operates sheepishly in leaky pass protection. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Cowboys blitzed the Giants on just 3-of-41 Manning dropbacks (7%) but still shut the offense down, holding the G-Men to three points. Eli is a mere two-QB-league option, and all alternative Giants pass catchers take massive usage hits with Beckham returning. … New York’s run game is another predictable trainwreck. “Lead back” Paul Perkins got out-snapped 54% to 32% by Shane Vereen in Week 1 as both finished with nine touches. Vereen has the most PPR value of the group, but no Giants back is a confident weekly start. … Washed-up Brandon Marshall and one-dimensional slot man Sterling Shepard have no fantasy value with Beckham back to soak up targets. Marshall showed so little separation ability in last week’s loss to the Cowboys that ex-Rotoworlder and current NFL.com analyst Chris Wesseling likened Marshall to 2015 Andre Johnson on the Colts. … Rookie TE Evan Engram is at least worth some Week 2 discussion. Engram caught 4-of-5 targets for 44 yards on 81% of the snaps in Week 1, and the Lions are soft in tight end defense. They nearly gave up two TDs to Jermaine Gresham last week, only for Gresham to drop one and have the other negated by his own penalty. Engram is a big favorite to lead all rookie tight ends in production.
Score Prediction: Lions 20, Giants 17