Just like that, we’re already off to the second week to the season! There are 14 games on schedule for Sunday, and that only makes the field of rosterable players as large as it can get. The good news: you already have a weeks worth of games completed to help you decide. The bad news: you are going to rely on a bunch of wrong overreactions.
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That is why I’m here to help you make the most important decisions of your weekend while minimizing your potential losses: who to sit and who to start in fantasy football. Fear nothing. Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about deciding who to put on that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback or how could you address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider if you have the following players on your team or can get them via waivers before Sunday’s games start.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (at CIN) - START
Things didn’t go the way 49ers fans wanted on Week 1. Not at least in terms of how their quarterback performed on the field. Yet even with that, San Francisco came away with the win. Garoppolo’s game was shaky at best, logging just 8.4 DKFP (fifth-worst among starters) on a 166-passing yard effort. I’m leaning toward a strong bounce back from Jimmy, though. Cincinnati’s defense put up good numbers against Seattle, but it ranked eight-worst in DVOA against the pass, allowing the fourth-highest number of passing yards. Garoppolo was overlooked in season-long drafts and more than probably is still available on your league’s waiver wire.
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. KC) - START
Speaking of good matchups, you won’t find a better one than that of Kansas City. Add a clear-as-water game plan to the equation and you’ve get a great play on your hands. In this case, it is represented by Carr. The often-criticized quarterback started the season with a win, completing 22-of-26 passes against Denver in one of the toughest QB-DEF matchups of the week. In a — supposedly — much easier Week 2 game for him, Carr should still keep exploiting his minimal offensive options in Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams. He knows who to target and he will do so. And if Josh Jacobs can provide a little more in the passing game, look for an explosion coming from Carr.
Kirk Cousins, MIN (at GB) - SIT
I’m not going to spend much time with this one. Minnesota — and Cousins, by proxy — completed one of the weirdest games ever played in the NFL. The Vikings ran 38 times and just attempted 10 passes in just 49 offensive plays. That split had not happened since 1982 (!). It was odd, it was ridiculous, and if it was something for fantasy owners, it was bad for racking up points at the QB position. Cousins finished the day with 14.3 DKFP, 21st-best among all starters. Until we know for sure what Minnesota is up to and if this will be the norm, you better stay away from Cousins given his low floor/ceiling.
Joe Flacco, DEN (vs CHI) - SIT
We’re not breaking ground here. Flacco is as average as he has ever been, no matter the change of scenario. Denver’s OL allowed three sacks in Week 1 and Flacco lost 19 yards due to it. He threw for 268 yards, falling just in the middle of the rank for starters, and he added a bunch of fantasy points on a garbage-time touchdown pass. All of this in an easy matchup against Oakland. The game this Sunday profiles as a much tougher proposition. Chicago’s defense just allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2018 and ranked first (by a mile) in DVOA against the pass. Courtland Sutton looked great but he might find it hard to replicate his WR1 production, and the rest of the receiving corps (barring Emmanuel Sanders) doesn’t offer high hopes.
Matt Breida, SF (at CIN) - START
San Francisco’s backfield looked like a fantasy nightmare just days ago. It was about to feature Breida, Tevin Coleman and even a little bit of Raheem Mostert here and there. The share of snaps between Breida and Coleman was expected to be close to 50/50 at least for the first few weeks. Until Coleman went down injured. With him out of the picture, Breida is the clear bell-cow of the 49ers rushing game, and Mostert shouldn’t pose much concerns about Breida’s opportunities on offense. Although he didn’t run for much against Tampa (37 yards on 15 carries), he led the way in usage and was even targeted in a few plays. Already a good situation, it’s also a great matchup for Breida against a Bengals defense that doesn’t know how to stop the rushing game (fourth-most yards allowed to RBs in 2018).
Mark Ingram, BAL (vs ARI) - START
Running back versus Arizona’s defense equals instant start. That is how the fantasy football lineup algorithm works. Even against a ridiculously bad running team in Detroit, the Cardinals allowed 116 yards on the ground. Last season, they led — or trailed, better said — the league in rushing yards and touchdowns allowed to RBs, and it wasn’t even close. Oh, and I’ve yet to mention that Ingram comes from a Week 1 debut with Baltimore in which he simply burned Miami to the tune of 107 yards on 14 carries to go with two scores. Ingram might not offer you the all-around game of other runners on the passing side of things, but you know for sure what he can do on the ground, and the matchup can’t be better.
Phillip Lindsay, DEN (vs CHI) - SIT
Not only does Denver have a tough game against Chicago, the Broncos go against the Bears with a below-average QB in Flacco and starting a running back in Lindsay that flopped in Week 1. I’m not too high on Lindsay’s 2019 expectations and potential. He did well last year, but I still don’t trust him. He finished last week as the RB27 in DKFP with just 10.6, which is to say he was a high-end RB3/FLEX fantasy option at best. He had an almost equal split with Royce Freeman in the backfield (11-to-10 carries), yet Freeman finished with 13 more yards than him on one fewer attempt. The only positive for Lindsay was 23 receiving yards on four receptions, but with such a small share of passing duties against as great a defense as the Bears, you better sit Lindsay this time.
Aaron Jones, GB (vs MIN) - SIT
We all believed the Packers’ doubts about giving Jones the role he deserves in the backfield as the clear-cut, go-to option with the arrival of Matt LaFleur. Turns out we were wrong. At least to a certain extent. Jones saw only 14 touches and couldn’t do better than 39 yards all game long against Chicago in Week 1. Green Bay passed 30 times, and the running side of the Packers’ game plan looks like it’s going to be marginalized, thus affecting Jones’ potential. I wouldn’t judge purely on what happened against the Bears as it was a true low-scoring, one-of-a-kind type of game, but I’d leave Jones out at least one week to see how things go. Minnesota could be hard to deal with from the ground, so that helps making this decision too.
Mecole Hardman, KC (at OAK) - START
What a great performance by Sammy Watkins, right? Yeah, sure, but everybody knows about six-year veteran Watkins. What about Hardman, though? The rookie went from nobody, to undrafted, to sleeper, to hyped backup, to starter in the span of two weeks. He looked good in preseason but with Watkins, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce featured on KC’s offense things didn’t look great for the newcomer. But Week 1 arrived and not only did Hardman aligned on 78% of the offensive snaps, he also saw Hill go down to injury, expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Although all those snaps ultimately went for nothing — Hardman was only targeted once — we can expect a massive uptick in usage from this point on. If you have an open spot at the WR3/FLEX, Hardman could be well worth starting.
DeSean Jackson, PHI (at ATL) - START
Jackson’s stats from last week’s game could fool you. In his first game back in Philadelphia, Jackson finished with 154 yards on eight receptions and two TDs. Great numbers, but more than 100 of those yards came on two deep passes from Carson Wentz. I’m not taking anything away from Jackson, don’t get me wrong, I’m just letting you know what you can get from him on a good day (as if you didn’t know already). Rostering someone like D-Jax is always a risk as he is the definition of boom-or-bust with his exclusive deep-threat profile, but he pencils in as Wentz’s go-to option on offense other than Zach Ertz, no matter the situation. Jackson was the most-targeted receiver of the day with a 25.6% share, way above that of Ertz (17.9% of targets) and Alshon Jeffery (15.4%). That role on the offense more than makes up for the risk of his style of play.
Adam Humphries, TEN (vs IND) - SIT
I don’t think Tennessee brought Humphries to the team in March to target him once per week. They signed him to a $36 million contract, and that is no slouch. The problem he’s facing, though, is that no one expected the Titans offense to be as loaded as it appeared in Week 1. Rookie WR A.J. Brown has become one of “my guys” after his performance last week. Veteran TE Delanie Walker looked as if he had just stepped out of the fountain of youth. Even RB Derrick Henry added 75 receiving yards. I’m not buying into Humphries falling down the pecking order of this offense, but given what we saw during the first game of the season and the options Mariota has on offense, you’re better off Humphries at least this weekend until things get clearer in terms of who’s going to be who in this attack.
Dante Pettis, SF (at CIN) - SIT
What a change of narrative. San Francisco entered the season with a Pettis who — although involved in a little bit of controversy and battle-of-thoughts regarding his potential this year — looked like one of the guys bringing the most upside to his team. And then he went and layed an egg. The 49ers won against Tampa Bay and Pettis logged one target. But that isn’t even the worst. He was just aligned on two snaps all game long, and neither played on special team plays. I never bought into Pettis’ hype and won’t do any time soon. This is not a case of “hey, there will be better and more productive days.” There is a hill to climb for Pettis before he becomes even remotely relevant for this offense. Fade him for now (and maybe all season).
Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. IND) - START
I already mentioned Walker in Humphries’ blurb. Let me write a quick summary to allow you to catch up with Delanie. He’s 35 years old, comes from an almost fully-lost season (one game in 2018), plays the tight end position for an average-at-best team and finished last week with a massive 55 yards of five receptions with two TDs. Effortless. And this week he’s hosting a sweet defense in a great matchup against the Colts. If you didn’t spend big money of one of the three top-tier TEs of the league, but drafted Walker, consider yourself a winner. He already showed what he can do and there aren’t many players at the position with such a high floor as that of good old Delanie.
Darren Waller, OAK (vs. KC) - START
Let’s get this straight. Antonio Brown is not a Raider anymore (if we consider he ever was). Oakland’s offensive options read like this: no one, Josh Jacobs, no one, no one. Enter Darren Waller and you get a winner. Yes, Derek Carr is probably not going to do magic and finish as a QB1 every week (although if there is a chance, it comes this week against KC’s defense). The only threat to Waller’s production on the passing side of the game comes from WR Tyrell Williams, but even with him on the field, Waller finished with more targets (seven to Williams’ six). Also, Waller was present on 100% of his team’s snaps on Monday against the Broncos. The situation he’s in can’t be better and the upcoming matchup against the Chiefs makes this fantasy decision easy to make.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at GB) - SIT
I don’t know if I should write anything here. I could easily point you to Cousins’ blurb direction and leave it there. Look, Minnesota is as run-laden as any team has ever looked. They passed the ball 10 times and ran 38. It is not that Rudolph had a bad game, it is that he didn’t even have the chance to have a bad game. In an offense that features Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen at WR, Rudolph’s targets were already going to be limited. Add an offensive scheme in which the quarterback becomes averse to throw the ball and which relies — intelligently — on a generational running back to carry the attack and you get a clear tight end to fade this week and probably for most of the season.
Vance McDonald, PIT (vs. SEA) - SIT
Ben Roethlisgerber looked as bad as ever in Pittsburgh’s Week 1 loss to New England. Sure, things will probably be a little better against Seattle, not much though, as the Seahawks ranked above-average against the pass in DVOA last year. You can also expect the Steelers to score more than a field goal and Roethlisberger to complete more than 57% of his attempts. What I’m not buying is McDonald helping him get there. If you look at his numbers from Week 1 you may lean toward rostering him: two receptions for 40 yards. The reality is much more cruel, though. McDonald wasn’t targeted until the final two minutes of the game — yet he was in on 71% of the offensive snaps (!) — and hoping he will keep putting up 20 yards per reception is just stupid. All of this, also, playing catch-up to the Patriots. The Seahawks won’t make things easier for the tight end, as they ranked fourth-best in fantasy points allowed to the position (10.0 per game). Somehow coveted player with middling production, clear sit situation.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is chapulana) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.