The B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 2

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 15, 2022

The B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 2

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    Saquon Barkley (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

    The first week of the 2022 fantasy football season is complete, and that leaves fantasy managers at polar opposites of the spectrum.

    At one end, you have undefeated teams who are riding high. They reaped the rewards of Josh Allen's big game in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. Did a happy dance watching Justin Jefferson torch the Green Bay Packers. Rejoiced while Travis Kelce exploded against the Arizona Cardinals.

    At the other, you have winless squads who are in the dumps. They are lamenting Aaron Rodgers' miserable outing against the Vikes. Bemoaning the disappearing act by Ezekiel Elliott. Mourning the disappearance of Kyle Pitts.

    However, whether Week 1 was a celebration or a disappointment, it's over now. It's time to look ahead to Week 2. To continue winning streaks or end the skid.

    And there's no better way to do that than by availing yourself on the information contained in the B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 2.

    Shall we begin?

Week 2 Smash Starts

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    Kareem Hunt (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

    There was no shortage of big performances that won weeks for fantasy managers last week, whether it was Patrick Mahomes' five-score effort against the Cardinals, Saquon Barkley's huge game against the Titans or Davante Adams' big debut with the Las Vegas Raiders.

    They were all no-brainer fantasy starts. But these players are also set up to post the kind of Week 2 stat lines that will help lead fantasy managers to the proverbial promised land.

    Can I get an amen?


    Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. MIN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $7,300]

    Hurts didn't do a ton throwing the ball last week, completing just over 56 percent of his passes without a touchdown pass. But the third-year pro made up for that with 90 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Last week's effort against Green Bay notwithstanding, the Vikings gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.

    Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (vs. ATL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,300]

    Fantasy managers who invested in Stafford in drafts are no doubt trying to tell themselves that everything will be OK after last week's clunker against the Bills. It will—there's a lot of difference between Buffalo's league-leading defense from last season and a Falcons team that gave up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021.

    Running Back

    James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (at LV) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,900]

    Conner's 15 touches for 55 yards last week weren't especially impressive, but he was bailed out by a rushing touchdown. Not only is Conner a good bet to find the end zone again this week against a Raiders team that gave up the third-most PPR points to running backs last year, but the game script in this matchup should be more favorable than last week's blowout loss.

    Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,600]

    The Browns showed last week what their recipe will be with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback—Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for 38 touches against the Carolina Panthers. There's no reason to think that won't again be the case this week against a New York Jets team that was 29th in the league in run defense a year ago, allowing over 138 yards per contest on the ground.

    Wide Receiver

    Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills (vs. TEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,200]

    After last week's 4/88/1 stat line against the Rams, the Davis hype train has become the Shinkansen of fantasy football. Given this week's matchup with a shaky Titans secondary that surrendered the most fantasy points in the AFC to wide receivers last year, by this time a week from now said hype train will probably break the sound barrier.

    Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. TB) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,800]

    Thomas turned back the clock in last week's comeback win over the Falcons, catching a pair of touchdown passes in the second half. The seventh-year veteran's snaps may again be scaled back a bit as he works his way back from a lost 2021 season, but he has Jameis Winston's confidence in the red zone ahead of a tilt with the Buccaneers. The Saints are going to have to throw the ball to win.

    Tight End

    Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals (at LV) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,500]

    Ertz had just two catches for 14 yards in last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but one of those grabs went for a touchdown and he added another grab for a two-point conversion. Look for Ertz's target share (and production) to increase Sunday in a plus fantasy matchup for his position against the Raiders. This game has some legitimate shootout potential.

    Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (vs. CIN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,200]

    With Dak Prescott sidelined by a hand injury, it's hard for fantasy managers to get excited about any of the Cowboys pass-catchers. But Cooper Rush is more likely to throw shorter passes over the middle than to attack opponents down the field, and last year the Bengals gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Week 2 Must-Fades

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    Najee Harris (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    Just as there were plenty of big performances in Week 1, there were also no shortage of disappointments.

    Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry barely cracked the top 40 at the position in fantasy points after being held in check by the New York Giants. While A.J. Brown was going off in his first game with the Eagles, fellow Philly wideout DeVonta Smith was posting the first goose egg of his NFL career. Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott all posted modest stat lines under center—and Prescott got hurt to boot.

    They say that misery loves company, and these players are about to leave fantasy managers in the same state of malaise.

    Maybe we should start a support group.


    Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,400]

    Fantasy managers worried about Brady after one blah week against the Cowboys might want to grab the Pepto Bismol. This week Tommy Terrific faces a Saints team that gave up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last year, and Brady's last outing against New Orleans was underwhelming. He's a low-end QB1 at best in Week 2.

    Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. CHI) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,500]

    This isn't because my recommendation of Rodgers as a "must-start" in Week 1 was spectacularly wrong. OK, it isn't just because of that. The Bears were a middling fantasy matchup in terms of fantasy points given up to quarterbacks in 2021, but given what we saw from Green Bay's offense last week, Rodgers is hard to trust until the Pack show some signs of life on that side of the ball.

    Running Back

    Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. New England) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,200]

    This isn't just a matter of the foot injury that Harris has stated he intends to play through, although that's certainly a factor. The reality is that injury or no, Harris didn't look good last week, managing just 26 yards on 12 touches against the Bengals. The offensive line is a mess. Harris is hurt. And the Patriots are a good defensive team. Pass.

    Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (at BUF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $8,300]

    In fairness, Henry has had success in the past against the Bills—in Week 6 last year, he rolled Buffalo to the tune of 143 rushing yards and three scores on 20 carries. But as good as Buffalo's defense was last year, it may be even better in 2022. Tennessee looked very sketchy on offense in last week's loss to the Giants. And if (when) the Titans fall far behind, Henry and the run game will go out the window.

    Wide Receiver

    Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (at DEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000]

    Cooks had a decent Week 1 against the Colts, catching seven of 12 targets for 82 yards. That's closer to Cooks' fantasy ceiling than the floor in Week 2—the Denver Broncos surrendered the seventh-fewest PPR points to wide receivers a year ago. And given the lack of weapons around him, Cooks is a good bet to see double coverage for much of Sunday's contest.

    Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (at GB) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400]

    To a large extent, Mooney's poor Week 1 stat line can be chalked up to the atrocious weather conditions in Chicago. That shouldn't be an issue in Green Bay on Sunday. But the Packers were a bottom-10 fantasy matchup for wide receivers last year, and after the Green Bay defense was roasted by Justin Jefferson last week, cornerback Jaire Alexander and the Packers defense will no doubt have a chip on their shoulders at Lambeau Field.

    Tight End

    Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. NE) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,400]

    One week into the season is far too early to pronounce Freiermuth's second-year breakout chances DOA. But the Steelers passing game was barely passable last week against the Bengals, and no team allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends last season than the Patriots. Look elsewhere for a starter at tight end this week.

    Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (vs. TEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,800]

    On some level, the writing was on the wall that Knox could be hard-pressed to match last season's nine touchdown catches and top-10 fantasy finish. Knox had just one catch for five yards in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, and now he draws a matchup with a Titans defense that allowed the sixth-fewest PPR points to tight ends in 2021.

Week 2 Mastering the Matchups

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    Matt Ryan (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

    Raise your hand if you thought that Carson Wentz of the Commanders was going to be a top-three fantasy quarterback in Week 1. Or if you thought that James Robinson of the Jaguars would be a top-12 running back in his first game back from an Achilles tear. Or that Robbie Anderson of the Panthers would be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.

    Now put your hand down. Lying is wrong.

    Few things in fantasy football feel better than watching a matchup or "sleeper" play blow up in a given week. Getting big numbers from a surprise star can turn what would have been a loss into a win.

    None of these players are sure things by any stretch. But they have the kind of favorable matchups that can set the stage for a big game.


    Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (vs. WAS) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400]

    Goff was OK but not much more than that last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, passing for 215 yards and two scores in a three-point loss. But that effort came in a bottom-10 fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in 2021. This week Goff draws a Commanders team that led the league in fantasy points given up to the position last season.

    Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,500]

    Frankly, the Colts probably don't want Ryan throwing for 352 yards again in Week 2—that big yardage outing was due to Indy falling behind against the Texans. But a Week 2 matchup against a Jaguars team that allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and just gave up that huge game to Carson Wentz is still awfully tempting.

    Running Back

    Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (vs. ATL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,700]

    Much to the chagrin of fantasy managers who invested in Cam Akers over the summer, Henderson served as the Rams' lead back against the Bills in Week 1. Henderson tallied a so-so 73 total yards against the Bills, but this week's plus matchup with the Falcons should set the stage for a better statistical effort.

    Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers (vs. SEA) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,100]

    With Elijah Mitchell (knee) on injured reserve, Wilson is the next man up as the lead back for the 49ers. After a miserable offensive effort against the Bears, look for the Niners to try to get the ground game going against a Seattle defense that just gave up over five yards a carry to the Broncos. The waiver wire darling of Week 2 should come out of the gate fast.

    Wide Receiver

    Robbie Anderson, Carolina Panthers (at NYG) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,300]

    Spurred on by a 75-yard touchdown against the Browns, Anderson eclipsed 100 receiving yards in his first contest playing with Baker Mayfield. It's far too early to say that Anderson is back to being an every-week fantasy starter, but when the matchup is right the 29-year-old merits a look. This week against the Giants, the matchup is right.

    DJ Chark, Detroit Lions (vs. WAS) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,100]

    Chark's Detroit debut actually went pretty well—he was targeted eight times, catching four for 52 yards and a touchdown. Those eight targets trailed only Amon-Ra St. Brown's 12, and in Week 2 Chark and the Lions get a Commanders team that surrendered the second-most PPR points to wide receivers last season.

    Tight Ends

    Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,600]

    Engram's Jaguars debut was quiet—four targets, four receptions and 28 yards. However, the sixth-year veteran has a puncher's chance at bigger and better things in Week 2 against the Colts. Last year, the Colts allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends, and Indy just gave up a two-touchdown effort to O.J. Howard of the Texans.

    David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,700]

    Njoku spent most of Week 1 on the side of the proverbial milk carton, making just one catch against the Carolina Panthers. However, this week's opponent (the New York Jets) gave up the seventh-most PPR points to tight ends last year, and Jacoby Brissett has a history of targeting the position in the passing game.

Week 2 Reading the Defense

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    Myles Garrett (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

    To a large extent, Week 1 was all about chalk regarding team defenses.

    Heading into the season, the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were widely considered two of the best defenses in the league. And despite tough matchups, both defenses shined in Week 1. The Buccaneers held the Dallas Cowboys to just three points and 244 yards of offense, while the Bills piled up seven sacks, three takeaways and shut out the Rams in the second half.

    However, neither the Bills nor the Bucs were the No. 1 defense of Week 1. That honor goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who amassed seven sacks, five turnovers and a defensive touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Expecting that kind of effort from a defense isn't especially realistic, but here are a few matchup plays to target if you stream the position—and a few defenses that could disappoint in Week 2.

    Strong D/ST Starts

    Denver Broncos (vs. HOU) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,800]

    The Broncos didn't have a great Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, and the Texans were surprisingly effective offensively against the Colts. But the Texans are still one of the more talent-deficient teams in the league on offense, and the Broncos should be motivated to get things back on track in front of the home crowd on Sunday.

    Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,700]

    Cleveland didn't really take advantage of last week's prime matchup with the Panthers, finishing outside the top 15 fantasy defenses in many scoring systems. However, this week's matchup with the Jets is also of the prime variety—New York allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to defenses in 2021. And the Jets managed just nine points in a blowout loss to the Ravens in Week 1.

    New York Giants (vs. CAR) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,200]

    Given that the Giants were short their top-two edge-rushers last week, the team played really well defensively in upsetting the Tennessee Titans. Now the G-Men get a Carolina Panthers team that paced the NFC in fantasy points allowed to defenses a season ago. Neither of the teams in this game is a sure thing defensively, but both are decent streaming options and inexpensive DFS plays.

    Weak D/ST Starts

    Dallas Cowboys (vs. CIN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,000]

    Last year's No. 1 fantasy defense played relatively well last week against the Buccaneers, but trouble is mounting in Big D. It's bad enough that Dallas is hosting a Bengals team as loaded with skill-position talent as any club in the NFL, but with Dak Prescott out, the team's offense is leaving Micah Parsons and the defense with very little margin for error.

    Philadelphia Eagles (vs. MIN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,500]

    The Eagles kick off the 2022 season with three favorable defensive matchups in their first four games. The problem is that this week's home date with the Vikings isn't one of them—the Vikings were an offensive buzzsaw last week against Green Bay and are stacked with offensive talent. It doesn't inspire confidence that last week's tilt with the Detroit Lions didn't go as planned for the Eagles defense either.

    New Orleans Saints (vs. TB) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,400]

    The Saints were one of the bigger defensive letdowns of Week 1, finishing outside the top 25 at the position despite what looked to be a favorable matchup with the Falcons. New Orleans is 4-0 in the regular season against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, but there's quite a bit of shootout potential here, and the Bucs allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to defenses last year.

Week 2 Fantasy Mailbag

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    Antonio Gibson (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

    Every week during the 2022 season, I'll be pulling a handful of fantasy football questions from the Bleacher Report app and answering them here. Hopefully those answers will aid not only the managers making the query but others as well.

    Have a question you want to have answered? Head on over to the fantasy football section of the app and make with the asking.

    Kareem Hunt or Miles Sanders in my flex? -- @davidthaking

    Both Sanders and Hunt were solid for fantasy managers in Week 1, with Sanders logging 105 total yards and a touchdown and Hunt finding the end zone twice. Both backs logged 15 touches, and both backs have top-10 matchups in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2021. This is a really close call, but Sanders' status as Philly's nominal lead back gives him a narrow edge.

    Brandon Aiyuk or Drake London for my flex? -- @jwilson024

    The status of George Kittle (groin) for Week 2 still isn't known, and if he's unable to go against the Seahawks that would make Aiyuk a much more tempting fantasy play. Aiyuk's three targets in Week 1 can be at least partly blamed on the rain, but even if Kittle is out and it is sunny, San Francisco's quarterback will still be Trey Lance. London drew seven targets and made five catches for 74 yards in his pro debut. With the Falcons likely to be playing from behind and Jalen Ramsey probably covering Kyle Pitts, roll with the rookie.

    After Taysom Hill's big game against Atlanta, can he be trusted as a weekly fantasy starter? – @WhoDat99

    In a word, no. Hill had 83 total yards against the Falcons, but he did so on just five touches, and 57 of those yards came on one play. There's just no telling from week to week what his role in the offense will be, and he's not going to peel off many more 50-plus-yard runs. Hill is the same player in Week 2 he was entering the season—a low-end, dart-throw TE2.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster, Robbie Anderson or Darnell Mooney? PPR. -- @hugo_lewis

    Mooney is out. The Bears barely cracked 200 yards of offense last week, and Mooney will probably draw quite a bit of Jaire Alexander in coverage. I have already mentioned that Anderson could be a sneaky-good play, but provided that Smith-Schuster (shoulder) is out there Thursday night, you have to play him. In two meetings between the Chiefs and Chargers last year, the teams averaged 58 combined points per game.

    Antonio Gibson or Ezekiel Elliott? -- @bman_lyon

    Gibson is the poster dude for how quickly fortunes can change in the NFL. A few weeks ago, he appeared to be the odd man out in the Commanders backfield. Now, coming off a big game against Jacksonville and with a plus matchup on tap against a Lions team that allowed over 200 rushing yards last week, he's a borderline RB1. He's also a safer play than Elliott given the uncertainty surrounding the Dallas offense.

    I'm considering benching Alvin Kamara for A.J. Dillon or Kareem Hunt. Is that dumb? -- @BringBackGOZ

    Kamara's Week 1 usage was disappointing, but generally patience is a virtue with high-end fantasy options early in the season. However, there are exceptions to the "always start your studs" axiom. Kamara is battling a rib injury. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best run defenses. And the last time Kamara faced Tampa, he managed just 31 yards on 13 touches. Dillon and Hunt both had 15 touches and at least one touchdown last week, but Dillon has the better chance of repeating that workload against the Bears on Sunday. With Kamara banged up and facing a bad matchup, fading him this week isn't a bad idea.

THE Fantasy Boom of Week 2

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    Mike Williams (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    No one player can make or break an entire season. Even cataclysmic injuries to top-five picks can sometimes be overcome with some waiver wire magic and/or a trade or two.

    Cue about 10 percent of the folks who rostered Christian McCaffrey the past two years smiling wistfully. The rest are throwing things.

    However, one player can make or break a week. Get a huge game from the right guy, and a team can cruise. Have a starter lay an egg, though, and it can be game over.

    With that in mind, we're going to conclude each edition of the B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football with one player who is going to define the week to come—for better or worse. The Boom (or Bust) of the Week.

    In Week 2, it's the former—and a player who appears all but certain to explode in the week's first game.

    Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (at KC) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,600]

    After a breakout 2021 season, expectations were high for Williams this season, with some fantasy analysts opining that the sixth-year veteran might actually be a better value in drafts than batterymate Keenan Allen. However, when Week 1 rolled around, Williams vanished—he was targeted just four times and caught two passes for 10 yards against the Raiders.

    Fantasy managers need to put that bad game in the past. Relegate it to the dustbin of fantasy duds of the past. And get Williams into lineups for Week 2.

    Because opportunity isn't just knocking. It's going to kick the door in.

    After suffering a hamstring injury against the Raiders and with the Bolts playing on a short week, Keenan Allen has already been ruled out for Week 2. That leaves Williams as the no-doubt No. 1 receiver for Los Angeles in its AFC West showdown with the Chiefs.

    There isn't a game this week with a higher over/under. Oddsmakers apparently see the game playing out the same way the past couple have—a back-and-forth shootout. The Chiefs are also banged up in the secondary. With Trent McDuffie on injured reserve, Kansas City will be rolling out a Day 3 rookie opposite Rashad Fenton at cornerback.

    Williams should see a big target share against a banged-up secondary in a high-scoring game.

    What's not to like?

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    Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.


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