By and large, matchup plays and sleepers got fantasy football owners through the first week of the season.
Drew Brees against the Oakland Raiders? Easy. Jordan Matthews against the Cleveland Browns? Too easy. And while nobody would claim to have suggested starting Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (the dude led all tight ends in scoring going into Monday), Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was a superb sleeper against the San Diego Chargers—he posted 25 points.
This week, it's more of the same, though owners now have more reliable data to use. Rather than completely hinging on last year's results and projections, established data from the first week exists.
Let's compare some of the biggest scorers from last week to find the best matchup before breaking down notable plays.
|Andrew Luck (at DEN) vs. Alex Smith (at HOU)||Andrew Luck|
|Drew Brees (at NYG) vs. Matthew Stafford (vs. TEN)||Drew Brees|
|Jameis Winston (at ARI) vs. Matt Ryan (at OAK)||Matt Ryan|
|Aaron Rodgers (at MIN) vs. Derek Carr (vs. ATL)||Derek Carr|
|Cam Newton (vs. SF) vs. Carson Palmer (vs. TB)||Cam Newton|
Top Matchup Play: Eli Manning, NYG (vs. NO)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning didn't blow away the fantasy world last week, scoring 18 points.
The good news seems unlimited, though, as the younger Manning tossed a trio of touchdowns on just 28 attempts against an iffy Dallas Cowboys defense. It's on to another questionable defense for Manning in Week 2 thanks to an encounter with the New Orleans Saints.
Those Saints not only allowed the most points on average to quarterbacks last year, the unit coughed up 21 to Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr despite his only throwing one touchdown.
With Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and breakout rookie Sterling Shepard to work with, Manning looks ready to post one of the highest-scoring days of any at his spot.
Sleeper: Carson Wentz, PHI (at CHI)
Maybe a rookie quarterback isn't such a bad idea.
Carson Wentz made his NFL debut with the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend and found himself above names such as Manning and Carson Palmer in terms of fantasy scoring thanks to a pair of touchdowns and 19 points.
While Wentz only played the Cleveland Browns, NFL reporter Rand Getlin provided some advanced metrics to show just how well he did:
It doesn't get much more difficult for Wentz this week—not against a Chicago Bears defense that gave up two passing touchdowns to Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.
|Spencer Ware (at HOU) vs. Theo Riddick (vs. TEN)||Spencer Ware|
|C.J. Anderson (vs. IND) vs. David Johnson (vs. TB)||David Johnson|
|DeMarco Murray (at DET) vs. Melvin Gordon (vs. JAC)||Melvin Gordon|
|Matt Forte (at BUF) vs. LeSean McCoy (vs. NYJ)||LeSean McCoy|
|Lamar Miller (vs. KC) vs. Jeremy Langford (vs. PHI)||Jeremy Langford|
Top Matchup Play: Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. SF)
Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers was a major letdown for fantasy owners, but only those owners who didn't play matchups well.
Stewart was obviously going to struggle against the Denver Broncos defense, which he did, totaling just six fantasy points. But those who drafted him have a light at the end of the tunnel—he plays against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.
Those 49ers allowed the second-most points to backs on average last year, and one of the league's biggest rebuilds doesn't look much better so far.
Bad game or not, Stewart took the lion's share of the work last week and will be the ultimate example of opportunity equals production in Week 2 against a porous defense.
Sleeper: T.J. Yeldon, JAC (at SD)
Last year, Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon wouldn't have made a list as a sleeper, but the team has since brought on veteran Chris Ivory to help him out.
Ivory, though, faces an unfortunate medical issue that has him hospitalized, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Yeldon faced the same situation to start the season and managed 12 points against a stingy Green Bay Packers defense. The task gets easier in Week 2 against San Diego, a team that was one of the five worst on average against backs last season.
Remember Ware from the intro? San Diego was responsible for shooting him up the scoring boards and should do the same for Yeldon.
|Brandin Cooks (at NYG) vs. A.J. Green (at PIT)||A.J. Green|
|Larry Fitzgerald (vs. TB) vs. Jordan Matthews (at CHI)||Jordan Matthews|
|Mike Wallace (at CLE) vs. Will Fuller (vs. KC)||Mike Wallace|
|Kelvin Benjamin (vs. SF) vs. Amari Cooper (vs. ATL)||Kelvin Benjamin|
|Julio Jones (at OAK) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (vs .KC)||Julio Jones|
Top Matchup Play: Jordan Matthews, PHI (at CHI)
Jordan Matthews is the biggest winner of Wentz exploding out of the gates, and owners better keep going with the ride.
Wentz looked Matthews' way 14 times in Week 1. The Vanderbilt product reeled in seven of those for 114 yards and a score, good for 17 points. Before Monday, four wideouts had totaled better production.
One could make the case the rookie won't look to Matthews so often all the time, but a lack of other notable weapons and Matthews proving himself a nice safety valve probably swings it in the other direction.
Besides, Chicago just gave up 16 (Will Fuller) and 11 points (DeAndre Hopkins) to Houston wideouts. Matthews should likewise exploit the hobbled secondary for another big day.
Sleeper: Mike Wallace, BAL (at CLE)
Mike Wallace wasn't dead in the fantasy waters as some might have thought when he joined the Baltimore Ravens.
Far from it, in fact. Wallace didn't need long to hook up with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco on deep connections, catching three passes for 91 yards and a score, giving him 16 points.
John Paulsen of 4for4 Football put it best:
This has beat up on the Browns often already, so it should go without saying Wallace should have a monster line in Week 2.
Alas, keep in mind Cleveland coughed up the most points to wideouts on average last season before the gaffe against Matthews and the Eagles to start this season. Wallace should help keep the Browns right near the top in that regard.
|Jack Doyle (at DEN) vs. Eric Ebron (vs. TEN)||Eric Ebron|
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins (at ARI) vs. Greg Olsen (vs. SF)||Greg Olsen|
|Travis Kelce (at HOU) vs. Jason Witten (at WAS)||Travis Kelce|
|Kyle Rudolph (vs .GB) vs. Jacob Tamme (at OAK)||Jacob Tamme|
|Delanie Walker (at DET) vs. Antonio Gates (vs. JAC)||Antonio Gates|
Top Matchup Play: Jacob Tamme, ATL (at OAK)
One would think Jacob Tamme falls under the sleeper category, but a starting tight end for a passing attack as potent as Atlanta's doesn't let him do so.
Tamme has been around since 2008, so the Falcons haven't been shy about letting him do the work at the spot. Case in point: In Week 1, Matt Ryan targeted him eight times. The Kentucky product caught six of those for 51 yards, good for five points.
It doesn't sound like much, but that's the floor for Tamme, a guy who will see plenty of scoring opportunities this year. Week 2 could see Tamme's ceiling thanks to an encounter with the Raiders, a team that allowed the third-most points to tight ends last year on average.
Sleeper: Coby Fleener, NO (at NYG)
Coby Fleener of the Saints isn't the easiest sell.
He went out in Week 1 and caught all of one pass from Brees while wideouts Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead erupted.
But Fleener won't stay silent for long, especially not going into an encounter with the Giants, the unit that slotted above even the Raiders last year when it comes to points allowed to tight ends.
The Giants coughed up six points to Dallas tight end Jason Witten last week. New Orleans has a better quarterback and a more dangerous offense, so Fleener could wind up scoring in the great matchup.