Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have exposure to on Sunday.
Start of the Week: Eli Manning vs. Saints: This one pretty much speaks for itself. “Quarterback X vs. the Saints” is always a recommended play. The Saints allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, and are off on the wrong foot once again this year after allowing Derek Carr to complete 24-of-38 passes for 319 yards and one score in Week 1. Manning was directly responsible for one of the biggest games against this Saints pass defense in 2015, completing 30-of-41 passes for…get this…350 yards and SIX! touchdowns. And New Orleans’ pass defense has arguably gotten worse and lost No. 1 cornerback Delvin Breaux to a broken fibula in the opener. The Saints’ top three corners are P.J. Williams, DeVante Harris, and Ken Crawley. Who are they? Well, all three just played their first career NFL game last Sunday. Williams is a 2015 third-rounder, while Harris and Crawley are undrafted rookies. The Saints and Giants were the fifth- and sixth-fastest paced teams, respectively, in the league Week 1, and 13th and second last season. The 53.5-point over-under for Saints-Giants is easily the highest on the board for Week 2.
Josh McCown vs. Ravens: Predictably, Robert Griffin III was injured and isn’t going to make all 16 starts. Many didn’t expect him to get hurt in the very first game of the season, but here we are, and McCown is the Browns’ new (old?) starter. The 37-year-old made eight starts last season before suffering a broken collarbone and giving way to Johnny Manziel the remainder of the season. Two of McCown’s eight starts came against the Ravens. In Week 5, the two teams went to overtime and McCown completed 36-of-51 passes for 457(!) yards and two touchdowns. The Browns ran 90 plays that day. Facing Baltimore again in Week 12, McCown completed 21-of-38 balls for 212 yards and a score. He missed 13 snaps that Monday night after breaking his collarbone. Cleveland ran just 53 offensive plays in their opener against the Eagles, but according to Football Outsiders, the Browns were the fastest paced team in the league Week 1, averaging an offensive play every 24.31 seconds. The fast pace bodes well for McCown, and his weaponry is infinitely better than it was last year, including the additions of bona fide big-play threats Terrelle Pryor and first-rounder Corey Coleman on the outside to go with Gary Barnidge down the seams. This game could easily turn into a sort of mini-shootout between division rivals. Baltimore likes to throw the ball after being second in the league in pass-to-run ratio in 2015. If I were a betting man, I’d probably take the over on the 42.5-point total. Last season’s matchups between these two teams finished 33-30 and 33-27.
Matthew Stafford vs. Titans: After being the Week 1 “start of the week” in this column, we’re going back to the well with Stafford after he treated us so well on the road against the Colts. Stafford was the overall QB4 last week, completing 31-of-39 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He’s been on absolute fire since OC Jim Bob Cooter took over play-calling duties last midseason. And the schedule remains soft. The Titans allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Hell, 36-year-old career backup Shaun Hill even had some nice throws against this unit Week 1, completing 18-of-33 balls for 236 scoreless yards. There’s literally no comparison between Hill and Stafford, as Stafford has arguably the strongest arm in football, and Hill’s ball floats out of his hand. Stafford is going to be able to make the throws Hill couldn’t in Week 1. Tennessee finished 23rd in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA last week and was 24th last season. Titans cornerbacks Jason McCourty, Perrish Cox, and Brice McCain all finished with negative coverage grades at Pro Football Focus after Week 1. Fire Stafford up again with confidence at home. Detroit’s projected team total of 26.75 points is the fifth-highest mark of Week 2.
Joe Flacco at Browns: As mentioned above, I feel pretty strongly about this game bringing some fantasy goodness to our lives. Flacco looked like his old self in his first game back from a torn ACL last week, completing 23-of-34 passes for 258 yards and a score against a tough Bills pass defense. With Steve Smith Sr. and Dennis Pitta back healthy and the addition of deep threat Mike Wallace, this might be the best supporting cast Flacco has had in a couple years. It’s an aging group, but one that should be in peak condition this early in the season. The Browns allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, and the defense as a whole looks much worse on paper in 2016. They have zero pass rush, and supposed top cornerback Joe Haden looks like he simply might not have it anymore. At the time of his season-ending concussion last Week 8, Haden was Pro Football Focus’ fifth-worst cover corner out of 115 qualifiers. Haden was roasted by Nelson Agholor for a long 35-yard touchdown last week. RCB Jamar Taylor and slot CB Tramon Williams combined to allow seven catches for 102 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets against the Eagles. In total, rookie Carson Wentz threw for 278 yards and two scores in his first career NFL start after playing fewer than 40 preseason snaps. Receivers were running free all afternoon last Sunday, and things could have gone much worse if Wentz was a bit more accurate and the Eagles didn’t drop a handful of passes. Flacco is a rock-solid QB1 streamer on the road this week.
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Carson Wentz at Bears: While Wentz had a fine debut against the Browns, completing 22-of-37 passes for 278 yards and a pair of scores, he’ll be making his first career road start on Monday Night Football at Soldier Field. The Eagles and Bears project to be two of the slower-paced offenses in the league this season. In coach Doug Pederson’s first game last week against the Browns, the Eagles were 31st in pace. The Bears were forced to play up in pace in their opener because the Texans are one of the league’s fastest offenses. But Chicago was 21st in pace in 2015. Both offenses figure to be of the run-first variety, and the low 43-point over-under for Monday night suggests many points won’t be put up on the board. It’s the fifth-lowest total of the week. Ideally, the Eagles would probably like to limit Wentz to around 25 pass attempts per game and ride Ryan Mathews and the run game. Mathews toted the rock 22 times Week 1, with Kenjon Barner (4-42) and Darren Sproles (5-12) mixing in for another nine rushing attempts. A lot of those attempts came in the second half with the Eagles eventually winning by 19 points, but it was clear from the start that the Eagles wanted to work Mathews, giving him 11 carries before halftime. Wentz has upside, but this isn’t the week.
Alex Smith at Texans: Last week’s overall QB3, Smith was probably scooped up off the waiver wire by average joes who just sort the free agents by total fantasy points and pick the first one off the list. Reality is Smith isn’t a usable QB1 in one-quarterback leagues most weeks of the season. And this is one of those weeks. Points chasers will be sorely disappointed if they’re expecting Smith to duplicate his 34-of-48 for 363 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception passing day again this week on the road. Those 48 passing attempts last week were Smith’s single-game career-high since entering the league as the No. 1 overall pick 11 years ago. In two matchups with the Texans last season, Smith averaged 27.5 attempts for 216.5 yards, though he did throw a total of four touchdowns. The Texans were sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last season and have started off on the right foot this year, allowing the seventh-fewest in Week 1. Smith’s Week 1 numbers were heavily inflated by the Chiefs falling behind 24-3 in the third quarter and rallying all the way back to win in overtime on the heels of their hurry-up pass offense. Smith is a mid-range QB2.
Kirk Cousins vs. Cowboys: Cousins was slapped with the one-year franchise tag in the offseason and is under immense pressure to duplicate his 2015 season in order to cash in big next March. He didn’t get off to a great start, tossing two picks and no touchdowns Week 1 against the Steelers. Cousins threw just two interceptions at home all of last season, and none came after Week 1. Cousins simply looked off on Monday night, struggling badly with his accuracy, and now he’s on a short week. Both the Cowboys and Redskins are in desperate need of a win after starting their seasons 0-1. It should be a quality game, but Cousins and the Washington offense will be significantly down in pace against a Dallas team that was 32nd in pace last season and wants to play ball-control offense, especially on the road with a rookie quarterback. The Cowboys allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. In his lone meaningful matchup against them in 2015, Cousins completed 22-of-31 passes for 219 yards and one score. The two teams faced off again in Week 17, but the Redskins had already sewn up the division title and Dallas had already given up on its season. Cousins attempted 15 passes, completing 12 for 176 yards and three scores. The Week 13 matchup is more indicative of how this one should play. Cousins should rebound to have a strong overall fantasy season in 2016, but it’s not a great idea to start quarterbacks against Dallas.
Start of the Week: Jonathan Stewart vs. 49ers: Stewart is coming off one of the toughest matchups he could ask for last week against the Broncos. He still managed to average 4.3 YPC on 15 attempts. The 49ers gobbled up Todd Gurley and held him to 47 rushing yards this past Monday night, but the Rams have no passing offense whatsoever, so San Francisco was able to load the box with eight defenders and sell out to stop the run. Cam Newton won’t allow the Niners to do that on Sunday. Plus, San Francisco is on a short week and traveling cross-country for an early start coming off a 28-0 shutout win. This is a prime letdown spot for them, especially with the Panthers having 10 days' rest and in desperate need for a win after an 0-1 start. Carolina should throttle San Francisco as a 13-point favorite. In games the Panthers won by at least 13 points last season when Stewart was healthy, he averaged 21.3 carries and 87 rushing yards per game. On top of that, new coach Chip Kelly’s 49ers offense was fourth in pace Week 1, and his Eagles offense was No. 1 in tempo last season. The Panthers are going to get a ton of opportunities to put up points. The 49ers allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs last season, and Kelly’s Eagles surrendered the sixth-most.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Dolphins: In the Patriots’ first game without Tom Brady last week, Blount carried the ball 21 times against the Cardinals, turning them into 67 yards. He received 20-plus carries in a game just one time last season. It’s clear the Patriots want to protect youngster Jimmy Garoppolo and hammer their run game these first four weeks of the season. The Dolphins stood up relatively well against the Seahawks’ rushing attack in the opener, but they traveled from Miami to the farthest NFL city possible (Seattle) and come all the way back east for another road date in New England. That’s as brutal of a two-week schedule as one will see in the NFL. Miami surrendered the most fantasy points and third-most rushing yards to running backs last season. In one meeting with the Dolphins, Blount posted a 17-72 rushing line. That’s obviously nothing to get excited about, but 16-18 carries would seem to be Blount’s floor this week. And with the Patriots as 6.5-point home favorites, Blount could see upwards of 24 carries with no other early-down bruiser on the roster. He’s a good bet for a score. Blount is an ultra-strong play on FanDuel at $6,000.
Rashad Jennings vs. Saints: The Giants operated much of last season in a three- or four-man backfield committee, with Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, and sometimes Orleans Darkwa. This season, Jennings is the clear lead dog, with Vereen as the change-of-pace and pass-game back. Jennings played 31-of-57 snaps Week 1 against the Cowboys and rushed 18 times for 75 scoreless yards. Vereen carried the ball six times for 38 yards. Jennings has a firm grip on early-down duties and is expected to handle goal-line work with Williams let go at final cuts. In 2015, the Saints allowed the second-most fantasy points and rushing yards to running backs. Last Week 8 against these Saints, Jennings averaged 5.4 YPC and turned 12 touches into 85 yards. New Orleans was just as bad on defense in Week 1, yielding 151 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Raiders running backs. This is about as juicy of a spot as Jennings will see this season. Every single Giants skill position player, aside from the tight ends, is a starting option in fantasy this week. The Saints finished 27th in run-defense DVOA last season and sit at 31st after Week 1.
Danny Woodhead vs. Jaguars: Woodhead out-snapped Melvin Gordon 50-23 in Week 1, but most people remember Gordon rushing for two early touchdowns. The sophomore had his moments, but Woodhead was “the guy” much of the day, out-touching Gordon 21-14. Most think of Woodhead as a pass-catching back, but he’s an underrated between-the-tackles runner. Eleven of his 16 carries last week came between left guard and right guard, and he turned them into 54 yards. The Chargers also seem to prefer Woodhead in the red zone, though both he and Gordon each saw three looks inside the 20-yard line last Sunday. The Jaguars have one of the more underrated run defenses after finishing last season 17th in DVOA. But Jacksonville is making the cross-country trip, and Woodhead has a solidified role on a team that just lost Keenan Allen for the season to a torn ACL. Even if he doesn’t find running room on the ground, Woodhead is still going to get his passing targets. Expect Woodhead to see a dozen touches at the bare minimum, while he has 18-20 touches upside.
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Carlos Hyde at Panthers: Hyde is a Week 1 All-Pro. He rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s home opener and visited pay dirt twice again this past Monday night against the Rams. This week’s date with the Panthers on the road is a much tougher spot. The Panthers were gashed by C.J. Anderson last Thursday night, but coming back home on 10 days rest, Carolina should smack the 49ers around. The Panthers are 13-point favorites, so Hyde probably isn’t going to be on the field as much as he was Week 1. Shaun Draughn is the pass-game and hurry-up back for San Francisco. Carolina finished last season sixth in run-defense DVOA. Defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short should have their way with the 49ers’ LG-C-RG combo of Zane Beadles-Daniel Kilgore-Andrew Tiller. Draughn has a good shot to out-score Hyde.
Melvin Gordon vs. Jaguars: Gordon was listed in this same space last week, and it came back to bite us. He had the best game of his young career, rushing 14 times for 57 yards (4.1 YPC) and his first two career touchdowns. Gordon had some moments Week 1, but he was vastly out-snapped (50-23) and out-touched (21-14) by backfield mate Danny Woodhead. Woodhead seems to have all of the important roles in this backfield. He’s the preferred option on passing downs and in the red zone, and is also an underrated runner inside the tackles. Points chasers will be all over Gordon on Sunday, but the Jaguars only yielded 3.66 YPC to running backs last season. And Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for just 68 scoreless yards on 18 carries (3.77 YPC) in Week 1. Unlike Woodhead, Gordon doesn’t have a pass-game role to fall back on, making him an RB3/4.
Theo Riddick vs. Titans: There’s a common theme going on here among the “sit” running backs. All are coming off monster, multi-touchdown Week 1 performances. Riddick scored a rushing and receiving touchdown last week against the Colts, totaling 108 yards on 12 touches. He looked good as both a runner and receiver. But that very likely will go down as Riddick’s best game of the season. The Colts were ravaged by injuries and playing overmatched and slow ILBs D’Qwell Jackson and Sio Moore. They had no chance against the speedy Riddick. The Titans were 30th in total defense DVOA last season, but one thing they’ve been good against is pass-catching running backs. They allowed the fewest receptions for the second fewest yards and sixth-fewest touchdowns to opposing running backs last season. And Vikings running backs only managed one catch for three yards in Week 1. Titans ILB Wesley Woodyard was Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 inside linebacker out of 60 qualifiers last season, finishing third against the run and 12th in pass coverage. While Lions running backs dominated last week, this week sets up better for the conventional passing game, featuring Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Eric Ebron down the field and outside the numbers.
Start of the Week: Mike Wallace at Browns: Signed to a two-year, $11.5 million deal in March after he was released by the Vikings, Wallace seemed like an almost too-perfect fit in Baltimore. His deep speed wasn’t put to use in previous stops in Miami and Minnesota, but Joe Flacco’s big arm and penchant for taking shots downfield were attractive to Wallace. The 30-year-old put that long speed to use in Week 1, running right by Bills S Duke Williams for a 66-yard touchdown. Flacco delivered a perfect ball, hitting Wallace in stride deep down the middle. In total, Wallace secured 3-of-6 targets for 91 yards and the score. He was also second among Ravens receivers in snaps, playing 44-of-72 in their five-man rotation. Steve Smith Sr. led both in targets (nine) and snaps (45). With Breshad Perriman (calf) missing practice Wednesday, that rotation could be down a man for Week 2, which could lead to an uptick in snaps for Wallace and everyone else. The Browns allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last season and surrendered the fourth-most Week 1, with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor scoring 19- and 35-yard touchdowns against them. Eagles receivers were running free all afternoon, sneaking behind the defense on numerous occasions. They can only hope to contain Wallace. Surely, Flacco is going to look deep to him at least two or three times. Wallace is on the WR3 map and makes more an intriguing tournament play in daily games.
Golden Tate vs. Titans: Detroit’s running backs did all the heavy lifting both in the run and pass games last week against the Colts. Tate reeled in all seven of his targets Week 1, but turned them into just 41 yards. He also played outside on the vast majority of snaps, only running 22.5 percent of his routes out of the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. (Anquan Boldin occupied the slot 86.5 percent of the time.) The strength of the Tennessee defense is its inside linebackers and safeties. Outside is where the Titans are vulnerable with a cornerback trio of Jason McCourty, Perrish Cox, and Brice McCain that doesn’t scare anyone. The Titans finished 24th in pass-defense DVOA last season, and checked in at 23rd in Week 1. Stefon Diggs did whatever he wanted, securing 7-of-9 targets for 103 yards. Tate and Diggs are similar in style as Z/slot receivers who run crisp routes with sure hands and yards-after-catch skills. Tate received a red-zone target and carry last week. Comfortably plug him in as a WR2 this week with the Lions’ team total set at 26.75 points.
Michael Crabtree vs. Falcons: Crabtree is another Week 1 carryover on the list. He had a fine day against the Saints, posting a 7-87 line plus a two-point conversion on 11 targets. Crabtree’s 11 looks were second on the team to Amari Cooper’s 12. Headed home, Crabtree again is in a plus spot. The Falcons were shredded by Jameis Winston for four passing touchdowns in Week 1. Only one went to a receiver (Mike Evans), but Winston badly missed a wide-open Evans in the end zone in the first quarter on what should have been a fifth touchdown pass. The Falcons came out of Week 1 at No. 31 in pass-defense DVOA and finished 22nd in the category last season. Budding star CB Desmond Trufant began last season playing strictly the left side, but he started shadowing a bit late in the year. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that coach Dan Quinn will stick Trufant on Cooper, letting possession-type Crabtree work against Robert Alford. Alford allowed a 4-91-1 line and 141.4 passer rating in his coverage Week 1. Crabtree is as safe as they come as a WR3 with some upside. He again led the Raiders in red-zone targets in the opener with a pair.
Sterling Shepard vs. Saints: The rookie wasn’t on my radar at all Week 1 against the Cowboys, but he played all but four offensive snaps and converted his four targets into a 3-43-1 receiving line, though Eli Manning was picked off on the one pass that wasn’t complete. Still, Shepard’s four targets were just one more than Will Tye and four behind Odell Beckham for the team lead. Playing way up in pace this week in a game with a massive 53.5-point over-under, six targets should be Shepard’s floor. The Saints are pieced together with sticks and glue at cornerback and will be starting three corners in P.J. Williams, DeVante Harris, and Ken Crawley who all just made their NFL debuts last week. Shepard drew rave reviews all summer long as both a route runner and for his sticky mitts. Both he and Beckham are good bets to find the end zone on Sunday. Eli Manning tossed six touchdown passes when these two teams met last season, so there’s plenty to go around. New Orleans was 32nd in pass-defense DVOA last season and 28th to start 2016.
Mohamed Sanu at Raiders: Sanu inked a big contract with the Falcons in the offseason, and his Week 1 box score had fantasy owners scrambling to the waiver wire to add him this week. But taking a deeper look and re-watching the film against the Bucs, 59 of Sanu’s 80 yards last week came on a completely busted coverage. Sanu snuck out to the right sideline and caught a pass with no defender within 15 yards of him. His short red-zone touchdown was impressive, however, but Sanu also dropped two passes after finishing dead last in drop rate back in 2014. Additionally, Sanu may not be 100 percent after twisting his ankle in the second half. He’s practicing this week and will play, but it’s notable nonetheless. At 6’1/211, Sanu is a bigger target. He used his size against Tampa Bay’s smaller corners Brent Grimes (5’10/185), who Sanu beat for his five-yard score, and rookie Vernon Hargreaves (5’10/204). Oakland employs much bigger, physical corners in Sean Smith (6’3/220) and David Amerson (6’1/205). Slot corner D.J. Hayden (5’11/190) is also bigger for his position. They can be more physical with Sanu than Grimes and Hargreaves. And Sanu, while big, is more of a finesse player. Smith had a terrible Week 1, but that was against speed demons Brandin Cooks (4.33 forty). Sanu ran a 4.67 forty at the 2012 Combine.
Eli Rogers vs. Bengals: A late-round favorite of ours here at Rotoworld, Rogers had a stellar Week 1 box score against the Redskins, catching 6-of-7 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a bit of luck, though, as it bounced off Sammie Coates’ chest and into Rogers’ open hands in the end zone. He was also the intended target on Ben Roethlisberger’s interception. All in all, Rogers showed more good than bad and is locked into three-wide sets as the full-time slot receiver, even with Markus Wheaton (shoulder) set to return this week. The Redskins’ weakness is at slot corner, but the Bengals may have found a gem last week in CB Josh Shaw. Shaw covered the slot for Cincinnati against the Jets, and allowed just one catch for zero yards on four targets while also picking off a pass. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a 0.0 passer rating throwing at Shaw. The Bengals were ninth in pass-defense DVOA last week and finished 17th last season. Rogers will have big weeks, but there are better options for Week 2, especially with Wheaton reentering the mix in Pittsburgh.
Jeremy Maclin at Texans: It’s hard to advocate benching Maclin in season-long leagues because he’s so consistent, but this matchup is really tough for Maclin both on paper and based on results. Maclin is going to get his targets, but the Texans are terrific against the pass. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to receivers last season and finished seventh in pass-defense DVOA. After Week 1, Houston is sixth in pass-defense DVOA, and it returns its entire cornerback trio of Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and Kevin Johnson. Maclin faced these same Texans twice last season, posting receiving lines of 5-52-0 in Week 1 and 3-29-0 in the Wild Card round. He saw 12 targets across the two contests, but this feels like a possible Travis Kelce game. The Texans had no answer for Kelce last season, with him putting up lines of 6-106-2 and 8-128-0. Houston didn’t do much to upgrade their safety spots and just lost ILB Brian Cushing to a torn MCL.
Start of the Week: C.J. Uzomah at Steelers: Who? I’m sure that’s what many of you are asking yourselves. We’re taking a dive down into the depths of the tight end position, but watching Uzomah on film the past couple weeks points to some promising trends. With Tyler Eifert (ankle) missing all of training camp and still out, Uzomah has taken over as the Bengals’ starting tight end. After playing a total of 51 offensive snaps as a fifth-round rookie last season, Uzomah was in on 52-of-59 plays Week 1 against the Jets. He saw five targets, catching two of them for 59 yards and turning one into a monster 52-yard gain down the middle. What was notable, however, was the Bengals’ effort to get Uzomah involved in the passing game early and in the red zone. He was targeted twice in the end zone against the Jets, and back in the all-important third preseason game, Uzomah was also targeted in the end zone. He’s obviously failed to secure any of them for scores, but it’s crystal clear Andy Dalton likes the 6’6/265 tight end in the scoring area. The Steelers allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends last season, and Redskins TEs posted an 8-84-0 line in Week 1. Jordan Reed came a Ryan Shazier fingertip away from catching a touchdown. Shazier is the Steelers’ best and most athletic inside linebacker, but he left late in Week 1 with a knee injury and didn’t practice Wednesday. Him sitting out would be an even bigger boost to Uzomah. Those in deeper leagues looking for a Zach Ertz replacement should give Uzomah a long look.
Jesse James vs. Bengals: Both tight ends in this Bengals-Steelers game are relative unknowns in the general fantasy community. James is a 6’7/267 behemoth 2015 fifth-rounder who played all 68 offensive snaps in the opener. He caught 5-of-7 targets for 31 yards and was targeted twice in the red zone. James plays a lot like former Steelers great Heath Miller. The Bengals allowed the most catches and fourth-most yards to tight ends last season, but only surrendered one touchdown to the position. A regression to the mean is certainly in order, and the Bengals will also be without do-it-all WLB Vontaze Burfict, who is serving the second game of a three-game ban. In two regular season games against the Bengals last season, Miller posted lines of 10-105 and 10-66 on 22 total targets. The Bengals also let free safety Reggie Nelson walk as a free agent. James is probably the safer bet among he an Uzomah, but there are more mouths to feed in Pittsburgh than Cincinnati. James and Uzomah are both minimum price at $4,500 on FanDuel this week.
Virgil Green vs. Colts: Green won the Broncos’ starting job out of training camp and played 41-of-58 snaps in the Week 1 opener against a tough Panthers defense. He corralled all four of his targets for 28 yards and tied for the team lead with one red-zone look. Green’s matchup gets exponentially easier this week. The Colts trot out decrepit D’Qwell Jackson at one inside linebacker spot and 35-year-old Mike Adams at strong safety. The Colts got rinsed by between-the-numbers pass catchers of the Lions last week, allowing receiving touchdowns to RBs Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah and TE Eric Ebron. The Colts allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the tight end position in Week 1 and the ninth-most last season. Green is a favorite of popgun-armed first-year starter Trevor Siemian, especially down by the end zone. Green is on the streaming radar and would get another big boost up the ranks if Demaryius Thomas (hip) is forced to sit out.
Clive Walford vs. Falcons: Walford was a popular streamer last week against a Swiss-cheese Saints defense, but he only managed a 3-25 line on five targets. The Falcons were shredded by tight ends last season, surrendering the fourth-most catches for the third-most yards and sixth-most touchdowns to the position. Week 1 against the Bucs didn’t tell any different of a story, as Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers each caught a touchdown. Atlanta’s rookie linebackers Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell are works in progress. The two combined to allow 9-of-9 passes in their coverage to be caught for 82 yards and two touchdowns last week. Walford played just under 50 percent of the Week 1 snaps, but he’s still the Raiders’ top pass-catching tight end.
Zach Miller vs. Eagles: Miller is another repeat sit from Week 1. He managed just three catches for 14 scoreless yards in a tough spot against the Texans. It doesn’t get any easier on Monday night. The Eagles held Gary Barnidge to zero catches on two targets in Week 1, though Barnidge did drop both short passes. Even if he caught them, he wasn’t going anywhere. Eagles SS Malcolm Jenkins is arguably the best cover safety in the league, and second-year MLB Jordan Hicks is a rising star at the position. Miller is behind both Alshon Jeffery and Jeremy Langford on the target totem pole. With Jay Cutler’s buddy and slot WR Eddie Royal back healthy as well, Miller’s faces a lot of competition for looks. Better days are ahead for Miller, but he’s started off with two brutal matchups.
Jared Cook at Vikings: The fantasy community falls victim to the Cook hype each and every year. After a training camp full of positive reports, Cook split snaps pretty evenly with Richard Rodgers pretty evenly Week 1 against the Jaguars, and both players saw just two targets. The Vikings have one of the better MLB-SS duos in the league with Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith. They kept Delanie Walker under wraps for much of Week 1, allowing just a 3-42 line. Kendricks won Defensive Player of the Week honors. Let’s see it before we believe it with Cook.
Coby Fleener at Giants: Fleener bit fantasy owners hard last week. In a dream spot against the Raiders, he laid an egg with a 1-6 receiving line on four targets. He wasn’t even targeted in the red zone. Fleener is like a smidge-better version of Jared Cook. Fleener has at least shown it more than Cook, but both are athletic specimens who seem to do less with more. The Giants were brutal against tight ends last season, allowing the most catches for the most yards and sixth-most touchdowns to them, but FS Darian Thompson looks like a keeper and WLB Jonathan Casillas drew strong marks in coverage Week 1 and has received plus grades in that area in the past. The entire Giants defense as a whole looks much improved from 2015. It would be nice to see Fleener get on the same page with the offense before keeping him locked in as a fantasy TE1.