Start 'Em or Sit 'Em for Fantasy Football Week 2
In many respects, the first week of the fantasy football season is an exercise in two things: what we know and what we don't.
We knew going into the 2019 season that Carolina Panthers tailback Christian McCaffrey would probably be a fantasy star. Sure enough, he topped 200 total yards and scored twice in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
We did not know, however, that Rams tailback Todd Gurley would be out-pointed by backup Malcolm Brown, who scored a pair of touchdowns in that same game.
That Week 1 exercise leads to a Week 2 balancing act, applying what we learned without simultaneously overreacting to a limited sample size. That can be tricky, and it's already left many fantasy managers reaching for the antacids at this early point of the season.
To help with that fantasy heartburn, I've combed through the start/sit questions on the Bleacher Report app in order to highlight some players to target and others to avoid.
Let's start walking the tightrope—and hopefully securing a Week 2 win.
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Henry, Mack and Jones, Attorneys at Law
As I mentioned in the intro, it's important not to overreact to one week of the season.
That said, it's equally important to pay heed to what we've seen so far and what's coming this week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack draws the toughest matchup of this trio in Week 2. As a matter of fact, no team in the NFL gave up fewer points-per-reception (PPR) fantasy points per game to running backs last season than the Tennessee Titans. But after he carried the ball 25 times for 174 yards and a score last week, Mack is an awfully hard guy to sit.
As good as Mack was in Week 1, Derrick Henry was that much better, racking up 159 total yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Tennessee Titans' blowout win of the Cleveland Browns. He draws a middling fantasy matchup with the Colts and needs to be in lineups, as well.
This isn't a knock on Jones. But the Minnesota Vikings put the clamps on the Atlanta ground game last week and ranked outside the top 20 in fantasy points surrendered to the position in 2018.
Aaron is the odd man out here.
The Call: Henry and Mack
Stop the Bleeding
If it makes you feel any better, my career winning percentage in Week 1 is atrocious. I always come out of the gate slowly—at least in part because so many of the players I draft seem to do the same.
The easiest call of this group is sitting Dede Westbrook for either Josh Gordon or Michael Gallup. Westbrook was able to salvage a serviceable Week 1 stat line with a garbage-time score, but his fantasy value now takes a major hit with Gardner Minshew II at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Similarly, while Miles Sanders likely has a bright future with the Philadelphia Eagles, the present is cloudy at best. He tied for the team lead in running back touches with 12, but he managed just 27 yards and appears mired in a full-blown committee with Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard.
That brings us to David Montgomery, who amassed 45 total yards in his Chicago Bears debut. The debut was underwhelming, but it's not a reach to imagine the Bears making a more concerted effort to establish the run against a Denver Broncos defense that was gashed by Oakland Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs in Week 1.
If this is a PPR league, I'd swap out all three for the two receivers and Matt Breida, who will serve as the San Francisco 49ers' lead back after Tevin Coleman suffered a high-ankle sprain against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that gave up two scores to Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson in Week 1.
In standard scoring, though, Montgomery should stay in at the expense of Gordon, whose Week 1 score covered up the fact he was only targeted four times.
The Call: Gallup/Breida/Gordon (PPR), Gallup/Breida/Montgomery (standard)
A Moment of Silence, Please
Before we go any further, I'd like to offer my heartfelt condolences.
Kidding aside, adding Andy Dalton isn't a bad idea if you have the roster space. Quarterbacks carry that much more value in deeper dynasty formats, Dalton is coming off a career high in passing yards against the Seattle Seahawks, and Mitchell Trubisky's effort against the Green Bay Packers was a tad disconcerting.
And by "a tad disconcerting," I mean he was mostly awful.
However, I don't know that I'd be willing to drop either of those quarterbacks in a dynasty league for the Red Rifle, who's nearing the tail end of his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals. So if you don't have another spare roster slot, I'd be inclined to lean toward Trubisky against the Denver Broncos.
Neither Denver nor the Tennesee Titans (Jacoby Brissett's Week 2 opponent) were especially good matchups for quarterbacks last year, but the Broncos looked hideous against the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. And after their opening-night debacle, you have to think getting the offense on track is priority No. 1 for the Bears this Sunday.
If Trubisky stinks it up again, it's officially time to panic about that third-year breakout so many (including me) thought could be coming in 2019.
The Call: Dalton if you have the room, Trubisky if you don't.
A Good Problem to Have
As problems go, this isn't a bad one to have: three quality wide receiver options and just two lineup slots in which you can place them.
A week ago, this would have been a relatively obvious call. But a lot can change in seven days. Now, the most obvious start of the bunch is the wideout who would have been the odd man out before.
Tyrell Williams isn't going to post a 6/105/1 stat line every week with the Oakland Raiders. But Derek Carr clearly has confidence targeting him down the field. Only Darren Waller had more targets than Williams' seven against the Denver Broncos, and there's little question Oakland will be forced to throw the ball Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In PPR scoring, an argument can be made for Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots in the No. 2 spot. But regardless of the scoring system, Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams is the play.
Woods didn't light it up against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, hauling in eight catches for 70 yards. But his 13 targets led the team, and Sunday's NFC title game rematch with the New Orleans Saints has more than a little shootout potential.
The Call: Williams and Woods
Wilson or Rivers?
This question is another example of just how quickly things can change in fantasy football. A few weeks ago, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was regularly coming off draft boards several rounds before Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Of course, that was before the two went in different directions during Week 1. Rivers finished inside the top 10 in most scoring systems thanks to 333 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Wilson was held under 200 passing yards and finished outside the top 15.
From a matchup perspective, their upcoming opponents are relatively similar in terms of fantasy points allowed a year ago. The Detroit Lions were 17th in the league, while the Pittsburgh Steelers checked in slightly higher.
Both quarterbacks are also on the road, but there's a fair bit of difference between traveling to Ford Field to meet the Lions and taking on the Steelers at Heinz Field when they're fresh off getting their heads handed to them by the New England Patriots.
Rivers, who draws Detroit, is the play.
The Call: Rivers
Wide Receiver/Flex Help
There are actually quite a few good options here.
We can rule out Adrian Peterson as one of them. Yes, with Derrius Guice (again) on the shelf with a knee injury, Peterson has gone from healthy scratch to lead back for the Washington Redskins in just over 72 hours. But he carried the ball 36 times for just 134 yards in two games against the Dallas Cowboys last year, earning an average of fewer than four yards per carry.
Given that Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton combined to catch 12 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown last week against the Oakland Raiders, a case can be made for a Denver Broncos stack. But a matchup with the Chicago Bears defense makes the idea problematic at best.
Sutton is the better option of the two after he led Denver in catches (seven) and targets (eight) in Week 1.
Tempting as it may be to roll the dice with John Ross of the Cincinnati Bengals after his 158-yard, two-touchdown explosion, one game does not a dependable fantasy option make. The Philadelphia Eagles' Alshon Jeffery has proved himself a much more reliable player who could easily be involved in a high-scoring tilt with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night.
The Call: Sutton and Jeffery
Singletary vs. Bernard
Whether it was Joe Mixon in Cincinnati (left ankle sprain), Tevin Coleman in San Francisco (high ankle sprain) or Derrius Guice in Washington (right meniscus injury), it didn't take long for injuries to hit the running back position.
We don't know whether injuries have forced this intrepid fantasy owner into this decision. But regardless of how they got here, they're left in a tough spot.
It could get a lot better if the Buffalo Bills would just give rookie tailback Devin Singletary the ball more. Against the New York Jets last week, he turned nine total touches into almost 100 total yards, including a 23-yard carry.
Given that quarterback Josh Allen and veteran running back LeSean McCoy combined for just 58 yards on 21 carries, it's not an unreasonable assumption that Singletary has earned a larger slice of the backfield pie against a New York Giants team that surrendered the eighth-most PPR fantasy points to running backs in 2018.
Go with the rookie here even if Mixon's ankle injury keeps him out against the San Francisco 49ers. You won't regret it.
The Call: Singletary
Tight End and Wide Receiver Help
We'll start here with the wide receivers. Since I don't know how many you need, let's get our rank on.
1. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (at Tennessee Titans): If Week 1's 8/87/2 stat line against the Los Angeles Chargers was any indication, then Hilton is going to be just fine with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
2. Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams (vs. New Orleans Saints): Cooks was quiet last week, managing just two grabs against the Carolina Panthers. But each of the last two times the Rams and Saints squared off, he has hauled in at least six passes and topped 100 receiving yards.
3. DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Moore posted a respectable seven receptions for 76 yards against the Rams in Week 1, but he's a distant third here behind a pair of potential top-12 options with much higher ceilings this week.
At tight end, this is a classic example of overthinking. Mark Andrews was great for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, catching eight passes for 108 yards and a score. But Zach Ertz is a top-three fantasy option coming off a record-setting season.
Don't get cute.
The Call: Ertz, Hilton, Cooks
Another Running Back Decision
Injuries weren't the only problem at running back in Week 1. There were surprising carry shares and disappointing performances, too.
Take Sony Michel of the New England Patriots, for example. Yes, last week's matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers was hardly ideal from a fantasy perspective, but those who started the second-year tailback were undoubtedly hoping for just a tad more than 14 rushing yards on 15 carries.
That's a robust 2.8 feet per carry.
Despite that miserable outing, it's not time to glue Michel to the bench just yet. For starters, he doesn't appear to have lost Bill Belichick's confidence. He had over half of New England's 29 rushes Sunday night.
This week's matchup with the Miami Dolphins is also substantially more favorable. Whereas the Steelers ranked outside the top 25 in fantasy points allowed to tailbacks in 2018, the Dolphins slotted inside the top five.
If you watched much of last week's game in South Florida, you know the run defense hasn't gotten better—and it may actually have gotten worse.
Matt Breida has potential this week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it's not hard to imagine the Pats racing to a lead and grinding out the second half with a healthy dose of Michel.
The Call: Michel
Here's a quick look at some of the other start/sit and roster questions posed on the B/R app.
OHerman asked: "Is Devonta Freeman done?"
Eleven touches for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings is…ouch. But one game in which the Atlanta Falcons fell behind early is too small a sample size to write Freeman off entirely.
dblock4 wants to know: "Lamar [Jackson] or [Carson] Wentz for Week 2? Also, would you trade either of them and who?
After what he did against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, it's awfully hard to sit Lamar Jackson right now. Hold off on the trade for now unless a Godfather offer comes along.
JWB11 wonders: "How concerned should I be with the Vikings passing offense?"
Much like with Freeman, I'm not prepared to call Minny's 1940s offense from Week 1 a trend rather than an aberration—yet. If they go exceedingly run-heavy again Sunday in Green Bay, then you can worry.
MattyIce216 has a WR question: "3 out of 4. OBJ, Robert Woods, Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins."
You can't sit Odell Beckham Jr. or Sammy Watkins with Tyreek Hill out. I prefer Robert Woods over Allen Robinson II, but not by much.
Tj2450 needs RB help: "Can start 3 of 4. [Le'Veon] Bell, [Todd] Gurley, [Josh] Jacobs, [Austin] Ekeler."
Odd as it sounds, Todd Gurley gets the week off here given the uncertainty surrounding his workload.
jakeofny is looking for wideout advice: "DK [Metcalf] or Robby Anderson?"
I expect the New York Jets to make an effort to get Robby Anderson more involved in Week 2. He's my play.
TSH3 wants help with his quarterbacks: "Dak [Prescott] or Cam [Newton]?"
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers should roll against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, but Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys offense are already rolling. Duck the chance of an ugly Thursday game and go with Prescott in Week 2.
behrnic has two comparable wide receivers to choose from: "Tyler Boyd against 49ers or Will Fuller against Jags? Standard scoring."
Will Fuller V is always a threat for a long touchdown, but Tyler Boyd has both a better matchup and a larger target share.
kprause is angry at Mike Evans and the Tampa offense: "Is Mike Evans fantasy-relevant if Jameis Winston can't throw the ball to his own team?"
It's not like interception issues are something new with Jameis Winston. For what it's worth, Mike Evans' last two meetings with the Carolina Panthers haven't gone especially well. But he'll turn it around. Be patient.
Finally, jjdgolf has a question that's on the minds of many: "What the hell do you do with Todd Gurley?
Watching Malcolm Brown score two touchdowns last week has a lot of folks in panic mode. But you can't sell right now and get any value, and Gurley did still have 101 total yards on 15 touches in Week 1. At this point, most teams won't have much choice but to start Gurley and hope.
Have other fantasy football start/sit questions? Post them here, on the Bleacher Report app or on Twitter [@IDPSharks] and I'll do my best to help.
Gary Davenport was the Fantasy Sports Writers Association 2017 Football Writer of the Year.