Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Fantasy Football Stars to Play and Bench

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 09:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 9, 2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jaguars defeated the Giants 20-15.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Heading into NFL Week 2, fantasy football start 'em, sit 'em decisions must take into account any Week 1 silliness bleeding over into the next slate of games. 

Always an unpredictable (and enjoyable) mess, Week 1 provided some rough tides for fantasy owners to wade through. This is probably best illustrated by the quarterback position, where Joe Flacco outscoring Matt RyanCam Newton and a host of others rocked the boat. 

Let's not forget the whole Ryan Fitzpatrick scored 42.28 points thing, either. 

Endure, owners must. We're learning about the who and why of NFL stars still, but also seeing some theories realized and developments owners can lean on to make informed decisions.

These are matchup comparisons to know and a few stars to start and sit. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Drew Brees (vs. CLE) vs. Matthew Stafford (at SF)Drew Brees
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. KC) vs. Philip Rivers (at BUF)Philip Rivers
Andrew Luck (at WAS) vs. Russell Wilson (at CHI)Andrew Luck
Kirk Cousins (at GB) vs. Patrick Mahomes (at PIT) Patrick Mahomes
Cam Newton (at ATL) vs.Aaron Rodgers (vs. MIN)Aaron Rodgers
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Philip Rivers, LAC (at BUF) 

Don't throw in the towel on Philip Rivers by any means. 

Rivers' Chargers looked ugly in a 38-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs to start the season, but the veteran quarterback himself was solid, tallying 29.96 points on 51 attempts. 

This number would have been much, much higher if Rivers' targets had not dropped multiple touchdowns. He excelled under pressure and his guys got open deep, yet they did him no favors with drops. 

Any worries about Rivers on the road are unfounded as well—he's playing the Buffalo Bills, after all. Those Bills just made Flacco look like a superstar, coughing up three passing scores and 21.74 points. Rivers is bound to go north of that, if not the 30-point mark. 


Star to Sit: Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. HOU)

Marcus Mariota has all the upside in the world from a franchise-quarterback standpoint, but there isn't much there in the fantasy realm. 

Mariota had an odd setback a year ago, throwing 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He didn't seem to start reversing the trend in Week 1, throwing two picks, totaling 3.62 points and suffering an elbow issue. 

According to Jim Wyatt of the team's official website, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said Mariota "is feeling good." But he's set to face the Houston Texans, a team with exaggerated points-against numbers right now after a bout against Tom Brady in Week 1. 

In other words, it's holding-pattern time when it comes to Mariota. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Saquon Barkley (at DAL) vs. Melvin Gordon (at BUF)Saquon Barkley
Alvin Kamara (vs. CLE) vs. Kareem Hunt (at PIT)Alvin Kamara
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. NYG) vs. Adrian Peterson (vs. IND)Adrian Peterson
James Conner (vs. KC) vs. David Johnson (at LAR)James Conner
Dalvin Cook (at GB) vs. Marshawn Lynch (at DEN)Dalvin Cook
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Saquon Barkley, NYG (at DAL)

Don't get gunshy on a rookie now. 

As expected, Saquon Barkley exploded on to the scene in Week 1, drumming up 106 yards and a score for 19.80 points against a stout Jacksonville Jaguars defense. 

Given the outlook here, Barkley should hit that same total or above rather easily against a Dallas Cowboys team with little going right on either side of the ball.

The Cowboys coughed up north of 16 points total between Carolina's two prominent names at the position in Week 1, and the Dak Prescott-led offense isn't marching well or holding on to possession long. 

These Giants have no reason to take risks offensively on the road, meaning plenty of usage for a guy who is clearly one of the most talented backs in the league already. 


Star to Sit: LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. LAC)

Things aren't going to magically improve for LeSean McCoy. 

While Shady remains one of the game's most prominent backs, even he didn't stand a chance in Week 1 while Nathan Peterman struggled under center, carrying it seven times for 22 yards and a putrid 2.60-point output. 

The Bills aren't going to improve much under center regardless of what they decide to do and this is one of those rare cases where even opportunities won't equate to production. Shady has to run right into a Chargers defense that just silenced Kansas City's Kareem Hunt to the tune of 4.9 points. 

With any luck, the Bills will find a better offensive identity later in the season in time for the fantasy playoffs, but rolling out McCoy now is flirting with disaster. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Odell Beckham (at DAL) vs. Michael Thomas (vs. CLE)Michael Thomas
Mike Evans (vs. PHI) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (at TEN)Mike Evans
Jarvis Landry (at NO) vs. Julio Jones (vs. CAR)Jarvis Landry
Keenan Allen (at BUF) vs. T.Y. Hilton (at WAS) T.Y. Hilton
Antonio Brown (vs. KC) vs. Stefon Diggs (at GB)Stefon Diggs
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Jarvis Landry, CLE (at NO)

It's high time to forget the stigma of Cleveland Browns fantasy players. 

Thank Jarvis Landry, the new arrival and Hard Knocks star who went out in Week 1 and caught seven of his 15 targets for 106 yards, going for 14.10 points in the process.

No other Browns player had more than seven targets, and while Josh Gordon should see more snaps moving forward, that might only help free Landry up more, not hinder him. 

This feels doubly true against the New Orleans Saints, road game or not. These Saints were responsible for the mentioned Fitzpatrick outburst, letting DeSean Jackson (29.10 points), Mike Evans (24.20) and Chris Godwin (11.60) do whatever they want. 

This obviously means Gordon is a start as well, but Landry is clearly the same target hog he has always been. His new schematic surroundings seem to have him doing more in the big-play department than before, making him a contender for top-scorer status. 


Star to Sit: Randall Cobb, GB (vs. MIN)

It's fun to make Week 1 discoveries and roll with them while winning fantasy games. 

At face value, Randall Cobb seems like one of these. The narrative that Cobb should benefit from Jordy Nelson's departure seemed true enough to start the season, as he had a team-high 10 targets, catching nine of them for 142 yards and a touchdown good for 24.70 points. 

But it's never so simple. There is a huge difference between the Chicago Bears secondary Cobb just torched and the Minnesota Vikings unit he'll face in Week 2. There is history here as well considering Cobb has never broken the 70-yard receiving mark over 10 games against Minnesota. 

As fantasy regulars are well aware, Cobb is also one of the most erratic elements of the game and should be treated as such, even after a big performance. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Rob Gronkowski (at JAX) vs. David Njoku (at NO)Rob Gronkowski
Jordan Reed (vs. IND) vs. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs. NE)Jordan Reed
Jack Doyle (at WAS) vs. Evan Engram (at DAL)Evan Engram
Zach Ertz (at TB) vs. Eric Ebron (at WAS)Eric Ebron
Travis Kelce (at PIT) vs. Jimmy Graham (vs. MIN)Travis Kelce
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. IND)

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09:  Tight end Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins runs with the football after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Redskins def
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Jordan Reed is one of those early-week discoveries owners can lean on in a big way. 

Reed is easily one of the best tight ends in football and only betrays owners with injury issues. The idea new Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith would lean on him like he did Travis Kelce got plenty of proof in Week 1, where Reed received five targets, catching four of them for 48 yards and a score and a cool 12.80 points. 

This number should only head north against a Colts team that coughed up 34 points in Week 1. Tyler Eifert didn't shred the defense, but he's also on a pitch count after yet another back surgery. 

No such pitch count exists for Reed, and with secondary members like Malik Hooker going to work on an unproven cast of wideouts, Reed should have a massive day. 


Star to Sit: O.J. Howard, TB (vs. PHI) 

The expected O.J. Howard breakout still hasn't happened. 

Howard didn't do much as a rookie after becoming the No. 19 pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so his sheer upside and household name after college days at Alabama lent to the idea his sophomore year would see him ascend the ladder. 

Instead, despite Fitzpatrick's outburst, Howard received two targets. Four players saw more chances and there isn't any reason to believe this will change in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Maybe that's a good thing, as those Eagles bottled up Atlanta's tight ends in Week 1, holding Austin hooper to less than five points on three catches. 


All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.  


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