Start and Sit: Week 2
With just one week in the books, players haven't made home and road starts to offer evidence of possible changes to the value of home-field advantage this year. But at least in Week 1, home quarterbacks were significantly more productive than their road counterparts, outscoring them by a combined margin of 310.2 to 286.5, an average of about 1.5 more points per home game that is similar to the typical advantage from the last three seasons (1.2). That makes me feel better about my preseason decision to stick with my normal venue adjustments, and hopefully it can help you make the best possible start and sit choices for Week 2.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) -- home and road and dome and outside -- the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can get these projections for all players, along with yardage and touchdown projections, by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Russell Wilson doesn't need the help, but he demonstrated the boost a quarterback receives from a matchup against the Falcons in Week 1. He finished fourth for the week with 9.2 yards per attempt and tied for first with four passing touchdowns, and the Falcons generally increase their opponents' yards and touchdowns per pass attempt by 9% and 26%, sixth- and eighth-most in football. This week, Dak Prescott lucks into that draw and does so at home in the dome where he has averaged 2.3 more fantasy points per game than on the road since 2017.
Kyler Murray may have announced himself as matchup-proof with 91 yards and a score as a runner in a difficult passing matchup against the 49ers in Week 1. That's good news this week since the early-season matchup adjustments for Washington may understate the quality of their pass defense. They crushed Carson Wentz with eight sacks and could be making a 49ers-like defensive leap this season. But that one-week performance won't deter me from starting Murray in Week 2. The Eagles are likely particularly susceptible to the pass rush with their preseason offensive line injuries to Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson, and Wentz still threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Murray should throw for less and run for more to avoid the volume of sacks Wentz took, and that's good news for his fantasy value this week.
With a true-talent ranking of 14th, Drew Brees is a matchup play despite his reputation. And away from the Superdome where he has averaged 5.1 more fantasy points at home than on the road since 2017 and likely without top receiver Michael Thomas on Monday night, he seemed destined for a bench recommendation this week. But luckily for him, he drew the Raiders, whose defense boosts passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 10% and 28%, both top-eight in football. Panthers starter Teddy Bridgewater completed 65% of his passes for 7.9 yards per attempt against them last week and could easily have thrown for three touchdowns if Christian McCaffrey hadn't run a pair of scores in from the 6- and 3-yard lines. We project Brees for 2.1 touchdowns this week, and that boosts him eighth at the position.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
After that aforementioned Week 1 performance, you may not be eager to leave Russell Wilson on your benches this week. You probably shouldn't in traditional formats, but his matchup against the Patriots knocks him out of my top 10 at the position and makes him a bad DFS play at the very least. Despite their many free-agent and opt-out losses, the Patriots defense looked like their 2019 unit with top-five DVOA rates against the pass (-27.0%, third) and overall (-23.8%, fifth) in Week 1. And last season, that defense cut opposing quarterbacks' passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 16% and 47% and increased interceptions by 117%, all the most in football.
Matthew Stafford was one D'Andre Swift touchdown catch away from a strong opener against a stout Bears defense, and he could get No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay back this week -- although Golladay didn't practice on Wednesday. But I still suggest you avoid Stafford in fantasy this week. The Packers cut passing touchdowns and promote interceptions by 22% and 37%, respectively, both top-eight in football. And some of Stafford's success last week likely came from his home venue, where he has averaged 1.1 more fantasy points than on the road the last three season. He won't have that luxury in Lambeau this week and drops from my top 20 because of it.
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Running Backs|
With many runners dealing with counterbalancing venue and opponent trends this week, two backs stand out as having by far the best matchups. The first is Ronald Jones. Jones assuaged many fantasy players' fears that Leonard Fournette would create a workload committee with 19 touches despite a loss in Week 1. That confidence comes at the perfect time with the Bucs hosting the Panthers and their porous run defense on Sunday. Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards and three scores against them in Week 1, and that just continues a trend from last season where they boosted opponent yards per attempt by 25% and touchdowns per attempt by 132%, both the most in football. Much of their defensive personnel has turned over, but possible keystone run-stopper Kawann Short is already hurt again this season. The Panthers defense may improve as they gain experience, but Jones is a top-10 option for me in Week 2.
Derrick Henry is a no-brainer every-week start in traditional formats, but a home matchup against the Jaguars vaults him to second at the position this week. The Jaguars stunned the Colts on Sunday, but they did so at home, and even with that game script they allowed the Colts' trio of backs to gain 218 combined rushing and receiving yards and score two touchdowns against them. Generally, the Jaguars boost running back yards and touchdowns per carry by 24% and 58% and yards and touchdowns per target by 22% and 30%. All of those rates are top-10 in football, and Henry should benefit from all of them himself as the Titans' bell-cow back.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Running Backs|
We project Christian McCaffrey to lose 2.0 PPR points this week with a matchup against the Bucs and their No. 1 DVOA run defense from 2019 (-34.7%). But that isn't enough to displace him from the top spot in my rankings. I'm not sure any matchup can.
For players in full-season leagues, the backs who could lead to lineup decisions are Melvin Gordon in Pittsburgh and Todd Gurley in Dallas. Gordon enjoyed temporary bell-cow status in the second half of the Broncos' Monday night opener after Phillip Lindsay injured his toe. He may have that workload boost in Week 2 as well. But he still loses ground in my rankings with a road matchup against a Steelers defense that is a top-10 reducer of rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt and receiving yards and touchdowns per target for running backs.
Gurley isn't quite the bell-cow he used to be in Los Angeles in his new home in Atlanta. And really, that's probably good news for his full-season value given his degenerative knee condition. Still, it does open Gurley open to matchup bench recommendations. He's not quite there this week on the road in Dallas, but he does face a Cowboys team that slightly cuts run plays (3%) and yards per attempt (5%). That plus the road start -- in a dome, but not the run-friendlier home one -- drops him to a back-end RB2 for me this week.
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
If there was any concern with DeAndre Hopkins' target share as he moved to a new offense, he allayed them with a career-high 14 catches in Week 1. Now he's my true-talent No. 3 fantasy receiver, and he jumps to No. 1 this week with Michael Thomas likely sidelined and with a matchup against Washington. I mentioned that defense's heavy sack total earlier, but sacks are a greater risk for Murray than they are for Hopkins and the other Cardinals receivers. Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby are likely to be the relative weakness of Washington's defense, and based on their tendencies from 2019, Washington boosts No. 1 receiver yards and touchdowns per target by 7% each. No. 2 option Christian Kirk could enjoy a bounce-back from his one-reception season-opener as well. Where the 49ers cut No. 2 receiver completion rates by 8% and yards per target by 9%, Washington boosts them by 20% and 7%.
The Cowboys receivers don't have to worry about their roles this week. The Falcons defense boosts completion percentage and yards and touchdowns per target by at least 10% to both No. 1 and No. 2 receivers. I highlighted CeeDee Lamb in the table because he may be the most surprisingly ranked of that threesome, but all three of he, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup are inside my top 20 this week. Stack away in DFS.
Adam Thielen vaulted into my true-talent top 10 after a Week 1 target share of 32.0% that would have landed him second behind Michael Thomas (33.3%) last season. And this week, he jumps even higher to fifth at the position in the dome in Indianapolis. The Jaguars offense may be better than many expected, but the Colts defense still boosts No. 1 receiver yards and touchdowns per target by 13% and 115%, each top-five in football. The only concern with Thielen is if the Vikings build a big lead and run out the clock. But at least last season, the Jaguars were a neutral matchup for opponent pass plays.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
Squaring off with rookie corner A.J. Terrell, DK Metcalf enjoyed one of the biggest matchup boosts in Week 1. This week, things turn around on him as he welcomes defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore to town. The Patriots cut No. 1 receiver yards and touchdowns per target by 9% and 66%, both top-10 in football. But they also have incredible depth at cornerback and similarly damage the productivity of No. 2, slot, and deep receivers. Metcalf falls from 12th in my true-talent rankings to 34th this week, and Tyler Lockett suffers about as drastic a fall from 21st to 32nd.
John Brown and Diontae Johnson are not the No. 1 receivers for their teams with Stefon Diggs and JuJu Smith-Schuster in town and healthy. But they did lead their teams with 10 targets apiece in Week 1. That bodes well long-term, but for this week. Brown and Johnson probably belong on your benches outside the top 35 at the position. The deep threat Brown will have to contend with the Dolphins' suddenly exceptional cornerback corps of Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and rookie Noah Igbinoghene and could suffer more based on the Dolphins' tendency to increase their opponents' run plays by 19%. And while the Broncos boost yards and touchdowns per target for No. 1 receivers, they cut them for No. 2 receivers by 26% and 38%, top-five in football.
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Tight Ends|
For the second time in the last two seasons, an injury disrupted George Kittle's bid to take advantage of the Cardinals' fantasy-friendly tight end defense. That robbed a lot of fantasy teams of what seemed like a lock for 100 yards and a score, and it robbed all of us a look at how versatile rookie defender Isaiah Simmons might change things for that aspect of the Cardinals defense this year. Knowing what we know now, I'll just go ahead and start Washington tight end Logan Thomas in two-tight end leagues and in DFS. He had only eclipsed four targets once in his four-year career at the position, but his eight targets from Week 1 could be a sign of things to come with just Jeremy Sprinkle and Marcus Baugh behind him on the depth chart.
For players in shallower leagues, I'll mention that I'm bullish for Dallas Goedert's fantasy prospects regardless of matchup. The Eagles have finished first in football with 43% and 57% two-tight end rates, and he's 10th in my true-talent rankings. That ranking doesn't change this week, but Goedert does enjoy a mild boost for a matchup with the Rams defense that increases tight end touchdowns by 13% per target.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Tight Ends|
George Kittle, Jack Doyle, and Tyler Higbee all suffered injuries in Week 1. And rather than stress over their health in the event that they do play, I'd suggest you avoid all three this week, at least in DFS. Kittle's fourth-place ranking is about as low as he ever falls at the position. The Jets don't have an outstanding overall defense, but they decrease tight end completion rate by 7%, yards per target by 4%, and touchdowns per target by 62%. The Vikings have a transparently excellent tight end defense. They held the position to a league-worst -46.4% DVOA last season and cut their completion rate, yards, and touchdowns per target by 7%, 20%, and 103%, all top-three in football. And Higbee would have to leave the dome for a road matchup against an Eagles defense that is a top-10 cutter of completion percentage (4%), yards per target (8%), and touchdowns per target (20%).
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Kickers|
Among the top kicker options, Chris Boswell and Greg Zuerlein are good choices this week. The former saw an offensive renaissance with the return of normal quarterback starter Ben Roethlisberger, and while he doesn't get the extra air time from a game in Denver, the Broncos still boost short field goal attempts by 16% thanks in part to a stout red zone defense. Meanwhile the latter should enjoy a boost from the Falcons defense which is fantasy-friendly for pretty much every position. In particular, they increase their opponents' long field goal attempts by 12%, something Zuerlein should be able to take particular advantage of in the dome in Dallas.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Kickers|
The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Randy Bullock faked the hamstring injury that he clutched after he missed his game-tying field goal chance at the end of the Bengals' opening loss to the Chargers, but the team did claim Browns' anti-hero kicker Austin Seibert off waivers this week. Regardless, you want to avoid the Bengals kicker on the short week in Cleveland on Thursday. Not only is it a difficult venue, but the Browns cut short field goal attempts by 4%. Wait to confirm the Bengals' offensive improvements before you trust their kicker in minus matchups.
|Best Week 2 Matchups - Defenses|
The 49ers couldn't keep Murray quiet in the pocket on Sunday, but they'll likely have no trouble against the statue that is Sam Darnold. Their 14% boost of passer interceptions and the Jets' 45% increase of sacks allowed foreshadow a bunch of turnovers. They jump to third at the position this week, and you can probably safely stream defenses against the Jets for the rest of the season.
If you don't have one of the highly drafted defenses with good matchups this week, take a look at the Browns. There's little shame in their annihilation by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 1. I like their chances to bounce back on Thursday hosting the rookie Joe Burrow. Cincinnati's offensive line could be better this season, but the Bengals still finished in the bottom 10 of teams with an 8.2% adjusted sack rate in Week 1.
|Worst Week 2 Matchups - Defenses|
After a surprisingly difficult Week 1 test against their divisional rival Washington, things don't get easier for the Eagles in Week 2 hosting the Rams. If you can, bench their defense in fantasy this week. The Rams may have the best offensive line in football again. They were already a top-three cutter of tackles for losses and sacks per pass attempt. And if Rob Havenstein and Austin Blythe continue to play like they did against Dallas in the opener, they likely won't allow many of the big plays that drive defensive fantasy success.
The Chiefs will be at least a decent defensive start against most of their inferior opponents, but that may not be the case against the divisional rival Chargers this week. Tyrod Taylor is a notoriously conservative passer. He has just a 1.4% career interception rate. Meanwhile, the Chargers are top-10 reducers of tackles for losses and sacks per pass attempt. I have the Chiefs outside my top 20 defenses for the week.