Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Projections for Top Players at Each Position

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2017

Aug 11, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In general, you never want to sit your top talents in fantasy football. But every once in a while, a matchup is so tough or a player is playing so poorly that you need to put them on the bench.

Is this the week you'll bench a star?

Probably not. But it's certainly possible. Below, we'll go through the consensus top-10 rankings for each position this week, my projections for the players and start 'em, sit 'em advice. It's like three articles in one!

And as always, may the fantasy points be with you.

                    

Consensus Quarterback Rankings

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 10:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers attempts to quiet the crowd in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

My Projection: 22 Points 

Verdict: Start

It's hard to recommend ever sitting Rodgers, even against a solid Atlanta Falcons defense. Don't overthink things.

             

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

My Projection: 24 Points

Verdict: Start

There may not be a safer bet in all of fantasy than Brady coming off a loss and facing a New Orleans defense that gave up 25 fantasy points to Sam Bradford last week. 

        

3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

My Projection: 20 Points

Verdict: Start

The Packers stifled Russell Wilson last week, but that was at Lambeau Field. Expect Matt Ryan to post solid numbers in Atlanta, where he averaged 22.5 fantasy points per game last year.

        

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

My Projection: 22 Points

Verdict: Start 

The Patriots just gave up 31 fantasy points to Alex Smith at home. Brees, at home, has crazy upside this week.

         

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

My Projection: 19 Points

Verdict: Start

San Francisco limited Cam Newton to 14 fantasy points in Week 1, and Wilson managed just eight points against the Packers. It's a bit early in the season to panic when it comes to Wilson or overrate the Niners defense, however. Start Wilson without worry.

         

6. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

My Projection: 19 Points

Verdict: Start

Carr faces a New York Jets defense that gave up 19 fantasy points to Tyrod Taylor. He's a safe bet after a solid start to the season in Week 1.       

        

7. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

My Projection: 18 Points

Verdict: Start 

The Bears have an improved defense, but Winston has a fantastic assortment of weapons and the Bucs ended up having a Week 1 bye. Winston's a solid pick.     

          

8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

My Projection: 17 Points

Verdict: Start 

Newton showed some rust after his offseason shoulder surgery, scoring just 14 fantasy points, while the Bills held Josh McCown to just 11 points in Week 1. Expect a stronger showing from Newton in Week 2, however, as he gets into more of a rhythm. 

          

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

My Projection: 18 Points

Verdict: Start

Never sit Roethlisberger at home. In six home games last year, he averaged 24.5 fantasy points per contest. Even against a tough Minny defense, keep him in those lineups.

                

10. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

My Projection: 15 Points

Verdict: Sit

Frankly, Rivers gets the "sit" designation because I'd start Marcus Mariota over him. If he's your top option this week, you could do way worse, but he just missed out on being a QB1 for me in 10-team standard leagues.

                    

Consensus Running Back Rankings

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Briean Boddy-Calhoun #20 of the Cleveland Browns tackles Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

My Projection: 14 Points

Verdict: Start

You never sit Bell. Never, never, never. Minnesota has a tough defense, but even coming off a rough week, Bell is a safe bet.

                

2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

My Projection: 15 points

Verdict: Start

See above. Elliott is a must-start every week.

              

3. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers

My Projection: 12 points

Verdict: Start

Miami has a solid front seven, but Gordon has made himself one of the no-brainer starts at running back over the past two seasons.

       

4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

My Projection: 11 points

Verdict: Start

The Panthers won't give up any easy yards to McCoy, but it's not like the Bills have a better option on offense. Be it through the ground or through the air, McCoy will get his touches and production.

        

5. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

Spoiler alert: It's very rare you'll ever want to sit your top running back, even against tough matchups. Freeman is no exception. 

        

6. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins

My Projection: 9 points

Verdict: Start

The Chargers have a ton of potential defensively, but C.J. Anderson did rush for 81 yards last week. It's hard to imagine Ajayi failing to hit double-digit points, either through sheer yardage or with a touchdown added to the mix. Ajayi is certainly at great risk of not posting huge numbers, but even if he doesn't, it's hard to imagine him failing to be a top-20 running back. He's worthy of your starting lineup.

         

7. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs

My Projection: 13 points

Verdict: Start

Hunt isn't going to score 40 fantasy points again this week, but he'll still be a huge part of the game plan. Until he proves otherwise, he's a must-start. 

      

8. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

The Jets are bad. The Raiders will probably pass the ball at will on their young secondary, so I could see Lynch taking a backseat in the game plan this week. He's still a safe bet to put up solid enough numbers to make him a viable starter, however.

        

9. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

My Projection: 14 points

Verdict: Start

Fournette is going to be the centerpiece of Jacksonville's offense. There's no reason to ever sit him.

        

10. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Washington is tough against the run, so Gurley's upside is limited, but not so limited that there are enough other running backs pushing Gurley out of starting consideration.

         

Consensus Wide Receiver Rankings

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

My Projection: 15 points

Verdict: Start

What would it take for you to justifiably consider sitting Jones? Injury, retirement or a bye week, right? Start him. Always start him.

      

2. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

My Projection: 14 points

Verdict: Start

Sitting Brown should be a punishable offense in a court of law.

   

3. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers 

My Projection: 15 points

Verdict: Start

Packers-Falcons has shootout written all over it. That's good news for Nelson owners.

         

4. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

My Projection: 16 points

Verdict: Start

Evans is going to have a huge season. That starts in Week 2.

         

5. Brandin Cooks, New England

My Projection: 12 points

Verdict: Start

Brady and Cooks are going to have fun against the wideout's former team. Expect Cooks to post strong numbers.

        

        

6. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

My Projection: 12 points

Verdict: Start

The Raiders are going to own the Jets through the air. Cooper's an easy start.

        

7. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

I really don't love this matchup for Thomas, as New England has a solid secondary. The Patriots had more issues with their linebackers than anything else in Week 1, and it's hard to imagine the entire defense posting that poor of a performance again. On the other hand, Brees and the Saints should turn to the air plenty at home. Thomas has very high potential, though he could also bust. 

      

8. Odell Beckham, New York Giants

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

Beckham has earned must-start status every time he's healthy. If he plays, you start him.

     

9. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

My Projection: 11 points

Verdict: Start

Few players in the top echelon of receivers are more boom-or-bust than Baldwin, but he torched the Niners for 22 fantasy points in Seattle last year. Keep him in those lineups.

10. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

With Vontae Davis out of the lineup for Sunday's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, Fitzgerald is poised for a strong showing.

       

Consensus Tight End Rankings

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 31: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots watches the action from the sideline in the second half during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England

My Projection: 15 points

Verdict: Start

Never sit Gronkowski. Don't even think about it.

              

2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

My Projection: 6 points

Verdict: Start

The Eagles are very good against tight ends and held Jordan Reed to five catches for 36 yards last week. But there aren't many better options than Kelce, who is an instrumental part of Kansas City's offense. Keep him in your lineup but temper your expectations.

                  

3. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

Few players have been more consistent than Olsen in recent years. At tight end, he's an easy choice to start every week.

              

4. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

My Projection: 10 points

Verdict: Start

Graham was on the back of a milk carton in Week 1, but he'll bounce back. You don't have a better option on your bench.

        

5. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles    

My Projection: 7 points

Verdict: Start

Ertz showed growing chemistry with Carson Wentz in Week 1. The talent has always been there for Ertz, and last weekend he looked like he would be a focal point of Philly's offense. Kansas City is a tough matchup, but Ertz should get enough targets to have a solid showing.

           

6. Jordan Reed, Washington

My Projection: 8 points

Verdict: Start

Philly is tough against tight ends, so Reed's slow start to the season isn't major cause for concern. He'll have a bigger day against the Rams. 

           

7. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

My Projection: 8 points

Verdict: Start

Rudolph is always a risk because he remains fairly touchdown-reliant. Nonetheless, betting on him has become a better bet than everyone else behind him in the rankings in the past two seasons.

        

8. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans 

My Projection: 6 points

Verdict: Start

Walker racked up 98 receiving yards and a touchdown in two games against the Jags last season. He's a safe start this week.

       

9. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers 

My Projection: 7 points

Verdict: Start

As mentioned previously, I expect this game to be a shootout. Bennett is a nice option.

10. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

My projection: 4 points

Verdict: Sit

Fleener burnt me last year, so I'm wary of trusting him. And while the Patriots couldn't slow down Hunt or Tyreek Hill, they did hold Kelce to five receptions for 40 yards. Fleener had a solid Week 1, but I want to see him replicate that performance with some consistency before recommending him as a TE1. I'd sooner trust a player like Charles Clay.

           

Consensus Defense Rankings

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 10: Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after being beaten for a touchdown by Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers during a game at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won 17-9
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

1. Seattle Seahawks

My Projection: 15 points

Verdict: Start

Seattle's defense is nasty, and Brian Hoyer is San Fran's starter. This is an obvious decision.

      

2. Arizona Cardinals

My Projection14 points

Verdict: Start

The Colts will be starting Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett. This is another obvious choice.

       

3. Baltimore Ravens

My Projection: 13 points

Verdict: Start

Baltimore dominated the Bengals, and now they get a rookie quarterback in Cleveland's DeShone Kizer. They're a great choice in Week 3.         

        

4. Oakland Raiders

My Projection: 9 points

Verdict: Start

Oakland is a bit high on this list for my tastes, but then again, they face the Jets. So feel free to start them.

         

5. Carolina Panthers

My Projection: 8 points

Verdict: Start

Carolina's defense is already off to a solid start. The Bills should provide a bit more of a challenge than the Niners did, but not enough of one to make the Panthers a poor choice to start.

             

            

6. Denver Broncos

My Projection: 7 points

Verdict: Start

Another tough call, but the fact that this game is in Denver—where teams tend to struggle adapting to the altitude—is the only reason I'd consider starting them against a fantastic Dallas offense. Still, this is a low-upside pick. 

      

7. New York Giants

My Projection: 5 points

Verdict: Sit

Maybe New York's pass rush bothers Matthew Stafford. But I could easily see this contest becoming a shootout. I'd stay away. 

        

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

My Projection: 5 points

Verdict: Sit

Marcus Mariota and the Titans are for real this season. This isn't a matchup against Savage; don't trust the Jags defense this week. 

9. Kansas City Chiefs

My Projection: 7 points

Verdict: Start

The Eagles have a lot of offensive weapons, and Carson Wentz was solid in Week 1, but he's still a second-year quarterback. This is a risky matchup for the Chiefs, but they have a strong enough defense to roll the dice. Trust the track record here.

10. Los Angeles Chargers

My Projection: 7 points

Verdict: Start

Trust in this defensive line. And trust in the fact that after the Chargers, there aren't may good defenses or solid matchups to exploit left.

          

Consensus Kicker Rankings

Frank Victores/Associated Press

(Note on kickers: I agree with all the rankings, so consider them all starting-worthy options.)

1. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens: 15 points

2. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots: 15 points

3. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons: 14 points

4. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers: 13 points

5. Giorgio Tavecchio, Oakland Raiders: 13 points

6. Blair Walsh, Seattle Seahawks: 12 points

7. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys: 11 points

8. Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints: 11 points

9. Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs: 10 points

10. Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers: 10 points

                   

All consensus rankings via FantasyPros.com. All point totals and points-against statistics for standard-scoring leagues according to Yahoo.