Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans Opponent: Tennessee Titans
It is no secret that I LOVE Deshaun Watson. I’ve said it on the podcast multiple times and in various profile pieces as well, and basically every night before I go to bed. So it is safe to say I watched last Sunday’s NE vs. HOU game with a heart-rate monitor firmly attached to my person. Watson looked BAD. He missed throws all day long. His line gave him no help as the Patriots sacked Watson 3 times and forced a fumble. As a manager of multiple shares of Watson this year my heart rate is skyrocketing right now, just writing about that game and his performance. Call it hope, optimism, or call me delusional but I think Watson is a prime bounce back candidate here. Look, you likely don’t have a choice given the draft stock that was required to pick up Watson this year but I like Watson to get it right this week against a Titan’s squad that allowed Ryan Tannehill to score twice and throw for 230 yards. Watson is better than Tannehill right? Right!?!?!?
Alex Smith, Washington Redskins Opponent: Indianapolis Colts
Alex Smith is like the vanilla ice cream of the NFL. By himself he’s not going to blow your mind. But you throw that ice cream on top of a freshly baked cookie, or a gooey, chocolatey brownie and you got yourself the choicest of desserts! The cookie/brownie in this case is the plethora of weapons at Smith’s disposal in Washington. He has Reed, Crowder, Doctson, and Richardson in the passing game, not to mention the rejuvenated 1-2 punch in the Redskins backfield of Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Coming into this year, Smith was being disrespected – much like that vanilla ice cream. He had just put up career numbers in KC and was going to an OC in Jay Gruden that made career years for Andy Dalton in Cincy and Kirk Cousins in Washington. This week Smith will watch as the Colts defense comes to town and this unit is really lacking talent. If you are streaming QB or looking to play matchups this week can feel confident starting Smith.
Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Tyrod Taylor, or as I affectionately like to call him T-Mobile! The fact of the matter is that he is way more reliable than the mobile carrier he shares a nickname with. Last week in the rain and not playing at his best, we saw him finish in most Fantasy formats as the #5 QB, tied with Aaron Rodgers. The bottom line is with his rushing ability and possibly the best weapons he has ever had, Taylor projects to be a fine option each week. Even though I project the New Orleans defense to have a much better day than their effort against Fitz-magic last week, I think you can feel good about Tyrod playing a defense that gave up four passing scores as well as a QB rushing TD.
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears Opponent: Seattle Seahawks
Jordan Howard caught a lot of heat these last few years for his inability to catch the football consistently out of the backfield. But if you watched the Bears/Packers game on SNF you saw that Howard passed the eye test as a legit receiver out of the backfield. He saw 5 targets and caught them all. That was a higher target (4) and reception (3) count than fellow running mate Tarik Cohen. It looked as if the countless days spent in camp using the machine to work on his hands may be paying off. After this game took a turn Howard’s usage dipped and he finished as RB19 in many formats, but I am excited for his matchup this Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Last week Seattle gave up over 180 all purpose yards to the Denver running backs. While I think Cohen will get his fair share of usage, it is clear that Bear’s coach Matt Nagy is not afraid to use Howard as a receiver and the still very young Mitchell Trubisky could look to check downs quite a bit.
Lamar Miller, Houston Texans Opponent: Tennessee Titans
As mentioned above the Texan’s offense was causing quite a bit of heart palpitations across the fantasy universe and Lamar Miller was no exception. The Patriots were a much better defense though than I believe most thought they would be this early in the season. My line of thinking here is that between Watson bouncing back and the Texans defense creating more opportunities against a Titan’s offense that will be trotting out an injured Mariota, Lamar Miller should be a great play this week.
Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
Much like your typical Millennial, the Ravens seem to have commitment issues, especially as it pertains to their running backs. They spent all offseason very quiet about their backfield: not signing any free agents, not drafting any backups or challengers to Alex Collins, but also not talking Collins up with any vote of confidence. Now because of the blowout nature of their previous victory against the Bills, Baltimore only gave Collins 7 carries. I actually think he could have got more if not for his fumble in this contest. That is an issue that deserves monitoring and Buck Allen needs to be rostered in all formats after carry leader Kenneth Dixon has gone down with a knee injury. But because of that injury, coming into this week I expect to see a heavy dose of Alex Collins this week in a divisional game that projects to be much closer than the Ravens/Bills game.
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins Opponent: New York Jets
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Right? Listen, I get the concern here. The Jets are coming off a beatdown of the Lions on Monday night, but I feel that game would have been much different if Marvin Jones had come down with just one of the two deep TD bombs he dropped. I think the Lions took the Jets for granted and I don’t expect that to be the case with Miami. With DeVante Parker still nursing his broken finger and broken ego, Stills was able to capitalize on his apparent rapport with Tannehill to the tune of two touchdowns. What was even more assuring was that Stills’ scores were diverse as he scored from 75 yards and also from 10 yards out. Stills was a player I was excited about coming into this year and his stock continues to rise heading into week 2.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos Opponent: Oakland Raiders
No need to overthink this one – Sanders is good at football. The Raiders Defense did not have a good second half defensively against the Rams receivers on Monday night either. Additionally Sanders saw the team high in targets last week with 11. I like his positive fantasy output to continue as he builds on the trust Case Keenum has shown in him not only last week, but during the preseason as well.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Normally I am not one to suggest starting ancillary offensive options against the elite Vikings defense but Cobb is an exception to that rule. Last week Randall Cobb was targeted a team high 10 times. It is also incredibly interesting to note that since the beginning of last year in the 6 games that Rodgers has been the starter Cobb was a top 20 PPR WR in four of those games. While the Vikings have a premier cornerback in Xavier Rhodes, I expect him to shadow Adams or Allison and Cobb will be left to Mackensie Alexander who is banged up and could miss this game.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders Opponent: Denver Broncos
Jared Cook was easily one of the hottest waiver pickups this week, and why not? He caught 9 of 12 targets for a whopping 180 yards. Look for his production to stay hot as the Raiders play the Broncos who let a 3rd string “blocking” tight end Will Dissly torch them for 103 yards and a score.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars Opponent: New England Patriots
If you’re feeling like rolling the dice, which let’s be honest is basically what the TE position equates to every week, take a chance on ASJ. It is not clear who the number one option receiving option is for the Jags and last week ASJ saw just one less target than than the team high. His big bodied frame makes him a nice TD bet especially if Fournette is forced to miss time this week.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
As mentioned above, I don’t love telling you to start guys against the Vikings, especially a guy that underperformed in a big way last week against the Bears. I do however think that based on what San Fran did with Kittle last week, Aaron Rodgers will look to attack the Vikings using short and intermediate routes and Graham could see a nice uptick to pair with his always present TD upside.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
Do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart? Well as Dirk Koetter pointed out after last week’s near 50 burger against the Saints, “Fitzmagic” is alive and well! Ryan Fitzpatrick absolutely torched the Saints to the tune of 417 yards and 4 TDs as well as a rushing score. So the question is can this magic act continue? When I think of Ryan Fitzpatrick over the years I think of one of the most popular magic acts of all time: “The Disappearing Act.” Fitz will have to face the reigning Super Bowl Champion Eagles on 10 days rest and for that reason I am not starting him. This young girl’s heart is lacking “Fitzmagic” for this week at least.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders Opponent: Denver Broncos
This past monday night with the emotion from his coach’s return to football and the electricity of the Black Hole behind him, Carr was able to put together a masterful first half of football. However, for as long as I have watched football, they play two halves. After the Ram’s defense settled down the pass rush was able to get to Carr and forced him into throwing 3 interceptions. Now, it’s hard to say that any team rivals the tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, but the Denver Broncos have no slouch of a pass rush themselves with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. I didn’t like Carr last week at home in Oakland against a top rated pass rush and I really don’t like him traveling to Denver to face another.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys Opponent: New York Giants
The major concerns about the Dallas offense were not put to rest any by their underwhelming performance against the Panthers in Carolina this past weekend. Dallas didn’t score their only points until 8:51 in the 4th quarter and even then it was a Zeke rushing score that did it. I like Prescott’s talent as far as a gamer in the NFL and his ability to win and keep his team in games, however that doesn’t equate to fantasy points. Dak has relied heavily on arguably unsustainable rushing TDs to remain a viable fantasy starter. The story this year for me is the complete lack of talent surrounding Dak and I do not expect that to suddenly change Sunday night.
Lesean McCoy, Buffalo Bills Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
My Mom always liked to say, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out too!” I bet that’s what managers who deployed McCoy last week felt like yelling at the TV screen. The harsh reality is you likely don’t have a ton of options to replace Shady. But if you do I am highly suggesting you look elsewhere. You thought Baltimore’s offense had a field day against the Bills and caused them to completely implode in the 47-3 shellacking? Wait until Phillip Rivers and the high flying Chargers come to town! Buffalo is in trouble. Their line stinks, they have issues at receiver, and now will start a rookie QB with mechanical deficiencies. You put him into your lineups, you can take him out too!
Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns Opponent: New Orleans Saints
My feelings towards Carlos Hyde have been more hot and cold than Taylor Swift’s love life! After his strong preseason showing, I went out and started him in multiple leagues. I don’t know about you but Hyde was feeling 22! As in he ran the ball 22 times for only 62 yards. Carlos! Look what you made me do! This week’s matchup against the Saints doesnt give me any more confidence as I can see this game shaping up as a shootout or a blowout by the Saints and either way, Hyde will likely cede passing down work to Duke Johnson. If you have Hyde in your lineups, try and copy Swift’s strategy with her boyfriends and replace him, quickly!
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans Opponent: Houston Texans
I do think that brighter days lie ahead for fantasy football darling Derrick Henry. His size/speed combo seems destined to produce results in the NFL. I don’t think he finds that success this week, however against the Houston Texans. Houston boasts a defense with premiere run defenders such as JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus. They also held the New England backfield tandem of Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead to only 89 yards combined last Sunday. Henry will need games where Tennessee is up big and looking to run out the clock to post respectable fantasy numbers as this game projects to be close and Houston maybe even favored. Dion Lewis has been effective and will likely remain a limiter to any Henry upside this season including this week.
WR Chris Hogan, New England Patriots
Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
Those managers with stock in Hogan watched as their greatest fears were realized in last week’s contest against the Texans. Hogan was targeted only 5 times, only caught one ball, and only recorded 11 yards. The fact remains that regardless of the Edelman suspension, there are plenty of mouths to feed in New England. Well maybe this week will be an up week? Maybe he is due? Not likely, as the Pats travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jags and their elite secondary that includes Jalen Ramsey who will likely be spending most of his time matched up against Hogan. If you have other options at WR, and you should because it is incredibly deep, move away from Hogan this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals Opponent: Los Angeles Rams
If you read this piece last week you know that I urged you to steer away from Amari Cooper if you could, based on his matchup against the daunting Los Angeles secondary. Just because the right answer is easy, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I know, Larry is a LEGEND. Hard to respect any other WR in this league more than Fitzgerald. But the facts are the facts and Amari Cooper caught one pass for 9 yards last week and Derek Carr was intercepted three times by this unit. I don’t like Larry’s chances to return respectable numbers this week.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts Opponent: Washington Redskins
I don’t feel good about this one either, ok!?!? But if you look at Hilton’s games in a dome vs those on grass like the grass in Washington D.C. you would temper expectations too. His averages over his career indoors are nearly 5 catches, 80 yards and .40 touchdowns, however when on grass it dips to 4 catches 60 yards and .25 touchdowns. This is not my only concern, however, as Hilton will be matched up against a healthy Josh Norman. Luck is usually a guy that takes what the defense gives him and I expect that to be underneath work to the tight ends this week.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
I liked what Tampa Bay and Howard specifically were able to do last week but I am projecting a major come back down to earth game from the Buccs against the top tier Philly defense. Last week Philly held Atlanta tight ends to only 2.4 points in most formats.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns Opponent: New Orleans Saints
A lot was made out of the Browns offense due to HBO’s Hard Knocks. That includes David Njoku who was on the field for 88% of the team snaps against Pittsburgh. But he only caught 3 of his 7 targets for 13 yards. With Gordon ramping up his involvement and Landry doing Landry-like things Njoku’s value could be in trouble.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals Opponent: Baltimore Ravens
I am really happy for Eifert that he has battled back and seems to be as healthy as ever working his way back into the fold in Cincy. What I am not happy about is his fantasy outlook this week against a legit Baltimore defense that snuffed out Buffalo’s tight ends last week limiting Charles Clay to zero catches on only two targets.