PLAY or STAY AWAY?
And just like that, Whisper Nation, week 2 is upon us! And there is plenty to talk about. Lamar Jackson, Sammy Watkins, the new-look Dallas Cowboys dominated NFL highlights for the week one. We saw monster performances from Austin Ekeler, DeSean Jackson, and Deshaun Watson. Were any of those guys on my Week 1 Play or Stay Away list? The answer is no, but trust me I won’t stop there. I vow to continue to give you advice week in and week out, no matter how many times I am wrong. To be fair, I did tell you to play Jimmy Graham, who scored a touchdown and I advised you to avoid Big Ben, who only managed to lead the Steelers to a single field goal drive against the Patriots.
This article is all about giving you a fresh take on some guys I feel have the clearest path to succeed at their position and the dudes who are going to have a real hard time getting it done on Sunday. So let’s get after it – week 2 isn’t gonna start itself!
Well I figured this day may come. I know it would eventually be time for me to write about our old friend Jared Goff. Jared, you single handedly ruined my articles last year on at least 5 separate occasions! I need us to have a better year together, please? In all seriousness, I love Goff’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints this week. Over the last couple years, these teams meetings meant fireworks, so I am all-in on Goff this week. I realize Goff didn’t eclipse 200 yards against the Panthers last week, but in Goff’s matchup last year against the Saints he nearly got 400 yards and tossed 3 scores. We already know how stacked the Rams are on offense and with even more complementary pieces like Malcolm Brown and Tyler Higbee emerging, Goff is in store for a big year, starting this week.
Damien Williams was on this list last week, but not exactly on the right side of it. He followed my designation up by posting the RB12 performance in PPR scoring. His day was salvaged by a TD but for a RB in a Chiefs offense we can’t exactly say touchdowns are hard to come by. The argument against Williams rest on LeSean McCoy’s usage on last Sunday. McCoy saw nearly 40% of the teams rushing market share while Damien saw 50%. There is no doubt we have a committee on our hands here given McCoy’s skillset and history with Reid and not to mention Williams lack of starting running back usage in his career. For this week, however, I am excited about Williams outlook against the Raiders. The Chiefs offense looked like it didn’t miss a step against the Jags as Mahomes and crew posted 40 points in Jacksonville. Now they head to the Bay Area to take on a Raiders team that just last year was in the bottom 8 for Fantasy points allowed to running backs. Keep in mind the Raiders do not have the firepower to keep up with the Chiefs in this matchup and both McCoy and Williams should be headed for big days as heavy favorites.
Larry Fitzgerald/Christian Kirk
In our rankings right here on the site, we have both these Cardinals wide receivers in our top 15 for week 2. I understand the matchup is not the greatest on paper, but I have much more faith in the volume than I do the actual matchup. Will the Cardinals struggle? Most likely. But they were one of only two teams in week 1 to throw the ball 50 or more times and I see them chucking that thing around even more in Baltimore against Lamar Jackson and these new look Ravens. What is even more impressive than the team level passing volume, is the fact that Larry Legend and Captain Kirk accounted for 50% of the team’s target market share. It is clear in the early going that Kyler Murray will lean on his two stud WRs and Fantasy GMs should as well.
Ohhhhh Boy! It didn’t take me very long to write about, friend of the show, Mark MANdrews! Mark Andrews picked up where he left off in 2018 on Sunday by posting the TE3 performance behind 108 receiving yards and collecting one of Lamar Jackson’s five touchdowns. Marky Mark was on fire and WhisperNation was not surprised having heard Johnny and myself hype him all offseason. This one is an easy pick for me. Talent meets opportunity in Baltimore this Sunday as Mark Andrews will face a Cardinals squad that has historically been atrocious when guarding tight ends in the NL and just allowed rookie TE phenom, T.J. Hockenson to destroy them to the tune of 6 catches, 131 yards and a score! If you picked up Andrews on waivers, great add. If you drafted him, even better. Now go start him.
I seem to perplex quite a bit of people by my stance on Russell Wilson this year. I spent most of the Summer advising you to not draft him for your redraft squads in 2019 and not only did I raise eyebrows, I damn near got hate mail. Wilson was QB9 in most league last year which was start-worthy of course, but he needed a career high TD rate of 8.00% to do so. The Seahawks threw the ball at the lowest rate in the NFL last year and how did they follow it up in week one this year? They were one of only 6 teams to run more than they threw in week one. Brian Schottenheimer has been vocal over the last year and half of his desire to deploy a run heavy scheme in Seattle and he is delivering. Wilson is as talented as they come but he will need to change teams to be a year long start for me. Now as far as for this week, Wilson and the squad will travel to Pittsburgh to take on a likely very motivated Steelers squad that is very talented on defense. I expect a rough performance from Wilson in week 2.
Miles Sanders was one of my favorite running back prospects in the 2019 season. I felt like he was getting slept on due to the guy that spent years ahead of him on the depth chart at Penn State: Saquon Barkley. Sanders it seemed, was finally going to get his shot to shine until the Eagles spent their 2nd round pick on him and had Fantasy GM’s across the world upset. Doug Pederson’s Eagles squads always deploy a running back by committee approach. I was sure that given the draft capital spent on Sanders, however, Pederson would make Sanders his guy and give him some Fantasy friendly usage. After week one, what we know is that we don’t know anything. This backfield was split 3 ways with Sanders at least leading the team in rushing market share at 35%, Darren Sproles following up with 29%, and Jordan Howard mixing in at 19%. This matchup is a juicy one against the Falcons on Sunday night after Davlin Cook just ran through the Falcons last Sunday with 21 carries, 111 rushing yards, and two TDs. I just can’t trust rolling Sanders out there until I see Pederson stop splitting this backfield up in 3 parts.
I had to keep refreshing the page when I was looking at the post game stats for the Vikings after week one. Kirk Cousins only managed to throw the ball 10 times! The Vikings preached all offseason that they wanted to get back to basics and run the football – and did they ever. While I love this mindset as it pertains to the running game and Dalvin Cook, I am really concerned with what it may mean for their wide receivers, and in particular, Stefon Diggs. I had previously loved Digss’ outlook for the year but given the way Cousins showed favoritism to Thielen in the preseason and even in this low volume effort against Atlanta, I am adjusting my outlook for Diggs. Diggs will also be playing a vastly improved Packers defense this week, and until I can see some life from the often injured talented WR I am avoiding him.
I felt the need to bring up Ebron here because I think WhisperNation needs to realize that Ebron is not running the routes and playing the snaps of your prototypical starting TE. Jack Doyle is healthy and back and when looking at the snap percentages we see Doyle played 68% of the team’s offensive snaps, while Ebron only played on 39%. Ebron will have games where he has a touchdown, but simply relying on an Ebron touchdown every week when Andrew Luck no longer plays for this team is a dangerous proposition. You can do better and you should, starting this week.