Start and Sit

The best players to target and avoid on your fantasy rosters (with impact from venues, weather forecasts, and opponents).

Start and Sit: Week 2

by Scott Spratt

It's the second straight week of clear skies and warm temperatures to start the football season. Hopefully the offenses with fantasy potential that seemed still mired in preseason form in Week 1 -- such as the Bears, Browns, Falcons, and Steelers -- can take advantage of those excellent conditions and put up some fantasy points this week. I have high hopes for the latter team, at the very least.

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 within 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 the defensive tendencies of the opponent (Def). 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.

Quarterbacks

Best Week 2 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
B.Roethlisberger PIT 1 SEA Rk 16 4 4 4  
Pts   +4.7 -0.2 +0.8 +5.3
C.Newton CAR 1 TB Rk 22 17 17 9  
Pts   +1.7 0.0 +2.6 +4.3
R.Fitzpatrick MIA 1 NE Rk 27 24 24 16  
Pts   +2.0 -0.1 +2.0 +3.9
T.Brady NE 0 MIA Rk 10 9 9 8  
Pts   +1.4 -0.1 +2.6 +3.9
D.Carr OAK 1 KC Rk 23 16 16 12  
Pts   +2.0 -0.1 +2.0 +3.9
P.Mahomes KC 0 OAK Rk 1 3 3 1  
Pts   +0.3 -0.2 +3.7 +3.8

Next to maybe Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger has the most publicized home/road splits at the position. Over the last three seasons, Roethlisberger has completed 3.9% more passes for 30 more yards and 1.1 more touchdowns per game at home than on the road. That adds up to a 5.7-fantasy point advantage at home that is the most among quarterbacks with more than a year of experience as his team's starter.

The Steelers had other problems in Week 1, but being on the road and facing the Patriots' fearsome secondary didn't help. They should have a much easier time of things in Pittsburgh against the Seahawks this week. Back in their Legion of Boom days, the Seahawks cut passing touchdowns per attempt by as much as 50%. But that cut fell to 18% after the 2016 season, and they have actually boosted touchdowns a bit the last two years. I'm not sure how much stock one should put into their weird performance against the Bengals on Sunday, but the Seahawks defense performed better against the run (No. 2 DVOA) than the pass (No. 11 DVOA). I'm confident of Roethlisberger in the top 10.

Cam Newton had his own forgettable debut performance, but he should do better tonight against a Buccaneers team that increases passing yards per attempt by 15% and passing touchdowns per attempt by 53%. Ryan Fitzpatrick was held to 29 pass attempts against a scary Ravens team that controlled the ball with 46 carries against just 26 passes. He still produced a respectable 6.4 yards per attempt and should have ample garbage-time opportunities to rack up fantasy points against the Patriots.

Tom Brady may not have Antonio Brown against those Dolphins, but he assuaged any fears concerning the loss of Rob Gronkowski with a 341-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 1. The Dolphins defense promotes passing yards per attempt by 20% and passing touchdowns by 72%, which more than counterbalances their 9% reduction in pass plays facing teams that tend to build big leads and run the ball to kill clock.

Derek Carr didn't carry the volume of passes to excel in fantasy on Monday night, but he completed 84.6% of his passes -- 14.4% more than expected according to Next Gen Stats -- and looked fine without Antonio Brown. He will likely throw way more than 26 times this week facing a Chiefs team that increases passing plays by 16%. And the Chiefs defensive issues from last year didn't look solved as sixth-round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew carved them up for 275 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Nick Foles.

Patrick Mahomes didn't have any trouble against the Jaguars' No. 1 projected DVOA defense last week, so I'll leave him where he belongs as the No. 1 ranked fantasy quarterback in Week 2 facing a Raiders team that increases passing yards per attempt by 21% and passing touchdowns by 81%, both the most in football. He will likely have a similar performance as last week, with excellent fantasy numbers but a modest total of pass attempts given a Raiders team that decreases pass plays by 14%.

Worst Week 2 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
K.Murray ARI 0 BAL Rk 15 18 18 30  
Pts   +0.6 0.0 -1.6 -1.0
J.Brissett IND 0 TEN Rk 16 23 22 29  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 -1.1 -0.8
J.Allen BUF 0 NYG Rk 12 24 24 25  
Pts   -0.2 -0.1 +0.1 -0.2
D.Brees NO 0 LAR Rk 16 29 29 23  
Pts   -0.8 0.0 +1.0 +0.2
R.Wilson SEA 0 PIT Rk 5 11 12 15  
Pts   +0.1 -0.2 +0.4 +0.3
J.Winston TB 0 CAR Rk 9 20 19 18  
Pts   -0.8 0.0 +1.2 +0.4

Kyler Murray threw the ball 54 times in Week 1. Overtime was a factor, but Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense and Murray's obvious arm talent make him a safe QB2 for fantasy in my mind. At least, that will be the case most weeks. Matchups don't come any tougher than on the road in Baltimore. The Ravens cut passing yards per attempt by 12% and passing touchdowns by 23%. They also more than double passer fumbles. Leave Murray on your benches in every format.

The Titans showcased their own stout pass defense in blowing out the Browns on Sunday. They and the Ravens are the top two defenses in pass defense DVOA after one week. The Titans also cut passing touchdowns by 18%. Jacoby Brissett looked capable in relief of the retired Andrew Luck, but the Colts offense will likely skew heavily to rushing. Avoid him in fantasy in Week 2.

I'm not convinced that Josh Allen's massive 8.2-fantasy point home advantage from a year ago is a sustainable trend. Much of it came from what seems like a coincidental split of six rushing touchdowns at home against just two on the road. Week 1 aside, Allen threw a similar ratio of picks to attempts at home and on the road last year. He draws the Giants, who were the second-worst DVOA pass defense in Week 1. But all that said, I'm not bullish on his fantasy potential this week. The Giants may be bad against the pass, but they still cut passing touchdowns per attempt by 15% -- probably because they increase rushing touchdowns per attempt by 40%. Maybe Allen gets that rushing score, but I think this could be the Devin Singletary breakout.

NFC South rivals Drew Brees and Jameis Winston have the same 4.2-fantasy point home advantage over the last three seasons, and both get the bad draw on the road against the Rams and Panthers, respectively, this week. Brees salvages a back-end QB2 rankings thanks to the plus Rams matchup for passing. Meanwhile, I'm subjectively more pessimistic for Winston than my No. 18 ranking. The Panthers enter the season as a defense that boosts passing yards and touchdowns, but upgrades in their pass rush and secondary could turn them into a minus matchup for quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs

Best Week 2 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
J.Jacobs OAK 1 KC Rk 7 5 5 3  
Pts   +2.4 -0.1 +2.7 +5.0
C.McCaffrey CAR 1 TB Rk 2 2 2 1  
Pts   +2.8 0.0 +2.1 +4.9
M.Ingram BAL 1 ARI Rk 26 29 29 22  
Pts   +0.7 0.0 +3.7 +4.4
J.White NE 0 MIA Rk 26 24 24 23  
Pts   +3.2 -0.1 +1.1 +4.2
N.Chubb CLE 0 NYJ Rk 4 6 6 4  
Pts   +1.7 -0.1 +2.4 +4.0
D.Williams KC 0 OAK Rk 22 20 20 14  
Pts   +2.3 0.0 +1.3 +3.6
J.Conner PIT 1 SEA Rk 6 4 4 6  
Pts   +2.6 0.0 +0.8 +3.4

Josh Jacobs took 23 of the Raiders 26 running back carries on Monday night. That workload vaults him into the top 10 at the position in my true-talent rankings. This week, he could threaten the top spot against a Chiefs team that increases rushing yards per attempt by 18% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 71%. The Raiders face blowout potential, but Leonard Fournette managed a solid 13 carries with more than 5.0 yards per carry last in a similar situation. If that's the downside for Jacobs this week, sign me up.

Across the field, Damien Williams will face a favorable matchup, as well. The Raiders boost rushing yards per attempt by 9% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 43%, and unlike the Chiefs, they also boost rushing plays by 14%. Many Williams owners are likely worried by LeSean McCoy's team-leading Week 1 rushing performance, but half of McCoy's 10 carries came with the Chiefs up three scores. I think McCoy is a handcuff and Williams is a solid RB2 play this week.

Like most Patriots, James White can be difficult to predict week to week. Case in point, he had 16 touches for 112 yards and two touchdowns last September against Miami and followed that up with just six touches, 28 yards, and no touchdowns against the Dolphins in December. The Patriots may be better and the Dolphins are pretty clearly worse since that pair of contests, and that could set up a blowout that heavily features power back Sony Michel. But White has also enjoyed marginal advantages in touches, yards, and touchdowns at home over the road the last three years that add up to a 3.0-fantasy point advantage in Foxboro. I'm content to start him as a back-end RB2 in PPR formats.

Nick Chubb was a touchdown away from a decent fantasy performance despite the Browns' blowout loss to the Titans last week. I think he's clearly a true-talent RB1 the first half of the season. The Jets defense looked improved thanks mostly to C.J. Mosley in Week 1, but that improvement skewed passing (No. 6 DVOA) over rushing (No. 22). They should be a major matchup upgrade for Chubb over last week against a Titans defense that cuts rushing touchdowns by 63%, second most in football.

Worst Week 2 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
M.Mack IND 0 TEN Rk 10 15 15 20  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 -1.0 -0.8
R.Freeman DEN 1 CHI Rk 37 39 39 45  
Pts   +0.9 0.0 -1.5 -0.6
M.Brown LAR 1 NO Rk 53 53 53 56  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 -0.5 0.0
L.Murray NO 0 LAR Rk 44 44 44 46  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 -0.2 +0.1
F.Gore BUF 0 NYG Rk 47 52 52 53  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 +0.3 +0.1
P.Lindsay DEN 1 CHI Rk 21 21 21 25  
Pts   +2.1 0.0 -1.9 +0.2

The Colts' Marlon Mack will be the next runner to try to best that fearsome Titans run defense. Mack is a comparable true-talent player to Chubb in my mind, but the matchup drops him from a back-end RB1 to a back-end RB2 this week. Meanwhile, Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay draw the Bears, who cut rushing touchdowns by even more than the Titans do -- at 50%, it is the most in football. Freeman should be more susceptible to difficult rushing defenses than Lindsay now that Lindsay has taken over the bulk of the Broncos' receiving back work. The Bears were "only" 10th-best allowing a -9.5% DVOA to receiving backs last year. They were top-five against every wide receiver position and tight ends.

Latavius Murray saw just eight carries to Alvin Kamara's 20 last week. That drops Murray to 44th in my true-talent rankings, and he falls a few more spots facing a Rams defense that cuts run plays by 8% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 10%. I'd still rather start him than the Rams' Malcolm Brown in the same game. Brown may have drawn the goal-line looks and scored twice last week, and the Saints may boost rushing touchdowns a bit compared to an average team. But Brown seems unlikely to be involved in the Rams passing game in a backfield with Todd Gurley and receiving back Darrell Henderson, and the Saints cut rushing plays by 15%.

Avoid using Frank Gore this week and maybe the rest of the season in shallow formats. Devin Singletary looked exceptional in his Week 1 debut and was on the field for 48 snaps compared to just 19 for Gore. Their four-to-11 carry split from Sunday seems likely to flip as the season progresses, and Singletary is already the passing-down choice.

Wide Receivers

Best Week 2 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
J.Jones ATL 1 PHI Rk 3 2 2 1  
Pts   +0.6 0.0 +2.5 +3.1
J.Smith-Schuster PIT 1 SEA Rk 8 5 5 4  
Pts   +1.6 -0.1 +0.8 +2.3
T.Williams OAK 1 KC Rk 12 8 8 5  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +1.7 +2.2
C.Ridley ATL 1 PHI Rk 23 23 23 11  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +1.7 +2.2
D.Moore CAR 1 TB Rk 21 22 22 13  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 +1.4 +1.7

I was a little surprised to have a pair of Falcons on my best matchups list this week, even if they are at home in the dome. The Eagles have traditionally had an excellent pass defense courtesy their deep pass rush. But Week 1 skewed the other way, with the Eagles having the fourth-worst DVOA pass defense and third-best DVOA run defense. That may be a one-week anomaly, but the Eagles also increase pass plays by 19%, the most in football. Even if Matt Ryan is less efficient than usual in the matchup, he should provide ample targets to buoy Julio Jones to the No. 1 and Calvin Ridley to the No. 11 fantasy receivers this week.

JuJu Smith-Schuster should be the biggest beneficiary from Roethlisberger's home/road splits this week. He's in my top five at the position. Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller are the clear top two receivers for the Raiders without Antonio Brown, and that makes Williams a typical WR2 who looks even better against a poor Chiefs defense this week. And the Panthers' D.J. Moore had 10 targets compared to just four for Curtis Samuel in Week 1. I expect a similar ratio for the rest of this season, which will make Moore a back-end WR2 who jumps to the front-end tonight at home against the Buccaneers.

Worst Week 2 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
D.Hopkins HOU 1 JAX Rk 4 3 3 7  
Pts   +0.6 0.0 -1.7 -1.1
L.Fitzgerald ARI 0 BAL Rk 10 11 10 19  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 -0.6 -1.0
J.Brown BUF 0 NYG Rk 35 38 38 43  
Pts   -0.5 -0.1 -0.2 -0.8
W.Fuller HOU 1 JAX Rk 39 32 32 44  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 -1.1 -0.8
T.Lockett SEA 0 PIT Rk 9 14 13 15  
Pts   -0.8 -0.1 +0.1 -0.8

You can't bench DeAndre Hopkins ever, but he falls all the way to wide receiver No. 7 in my rankings facing the Jaguars, who I still think have a good pass defense even after their dismantling by the Chiefs. They were the sixth-worst DVOA pass defense last week but were Football Outsiders' No. 1 projected DVOA defense before the season. Along those same lines, Will Fuller isn't a great flex option this week, although he's clearly the Texans' No. 2 receiving option with Keke Coutee still fighting a preseason ankle injury.

I'm not trusting any Cardinals receiver this week in Baltimore, but the team's apparent proclivity for passing should buoy Larry Fitzgerald to a high-end WR2 most weeks. And the Giants cutting of passing touchdowns in favor of rushing touchdowns should hurt John Brown more than any other Bills receiver now that it's clear he's the team's top choice on the outside.

Tight Ends

Best Week 2 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
D.Waller OAK 1 KC Rk 6 4 5 2  
Pts   +0.6 -0.1 +1.6 +2.1
G.Olsen CAR 1 TB Rk 9 9 9 9  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 +1.3 +1.5
V.McDonald PIT 1 SEA Rk 13 12 12 11  
Pts   +1.0 -0.1 +0.4 +1.3
A.Hooper ATL 1 PHI Rk 17 15 15 14  
Pts   +0.3 0.0 +1.0 +1.3
Z.Ertz PHI 0 ATL Rk 4 7 7 4  
Pts   -0.3 0.0 +1.5 +1.2
M.Gesicki MIA 1 NE Rk 28 28 28 27  
Pts   +0.3 -0.1 +0.7 +0.9

It's just one week, but Darren Waller looked explosive on Monday night, and along with Tyrell Williams may be one of the only two talented Raiders' receiving options. He leaps to my true-talent No. 6 tight end and jumps further to second for me this week against the Chiefs. But obviously feel free to start the triumvirate of Travis Kelce (No. 1 PPR ranking), Zach Ertz (No. 4), and George Kittle (No. 5) over him for safety.

Greg Olsen had nine targets in Week 1 and has the good matchup tonight against the Buccaneers, but make sure he's playing before you start him. He is questionable with a back injury he suffered in Week 1. At least it's not his foot again. The Seahawks defense is a bit better against tight ends than wide receivers at this point, but they still finished just 13th allowing -3.7% DVOA to the position last year after finishing top-five the previous two seasons. That sneaks Vance McDonald into the back of my TE1s this week. Meanwhile, the Eagles and Falcons should offer positive tight end matchups to each other on Sunday. They finished 24th and 28th defending tight ends respectively in 2018, allowing 11.2% and 13.5% DVOA to the position.

Worst Week 2 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
O.Howard TB 0 CAR Rk 2 2 2 3  
Pts   -1.0 0.0 +0.3 -0.7
T.Burton CHI 0 DEN Rk 11 13 13 13  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 0.0 -0.5
E.Ebron IND 0 TEN Rk 22 23 23 25  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.3 -0.5
J.Doyle IND 0 TEN Rk 20 22 22 24  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 -0.3 -0.5
J.Cook NO 0 LAR Rk 16 21 21 20  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 +0.2 -0.4

The Panthers have a very good defense against tight ends, finishing fifth against the position with -15.1% DVOA in 2018. That hurts O.J. Howard a bit, but I'm optimistic he's going to be a featured part of the Buccaneers offense that will bounce back from a horrible opener. Trey Burton missed Week 1 and is unclear for Week 2. Avoid him anyway against the Broncos.

Do the same with Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle against the Titans' No. 2 defense against tight ends from 2018 (-31.6% DVOA). They will likely sabotage each other's fantasy potential, anyway, in what will likely be a more run-focused offense with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. And finally, Jared Cook should suffer from a matchup against the Rams and their No. 4 tight end defense from a year ago. He's barely in my top 20 this week, in part because of the Saints' unexpected-by-me reliance on wide receivers in Week 1.

Comments

9 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2019, 5:30am

1 James White

The NE game is @ Miami, but the description says James White enjoys an advantage at Foxboro.

2 Re: White

Well I feel dumb because my table clearly indicates that White is on the road in Miami. I think I got confused because White shows the counter split that you would expect from a receiving back, and his venue bump in my system is being carried by the greater trend as opposed to his own tendency.  Mentally lower him a bit from my No. 23 ranking, but you can still use him and Sony Michel I think in Miami.

3 TE Question

Out of curiosity, do you do full-position ranks? I'm trying to decide whether to play Njoku or Waller. They feel close, but I think Waller has a safer floor, and I believe KC was pretty terrible against TEs last year. My other concern is that NYJ don't figure to put up much of a game with Sam Darnold out; not sure if play volume will be on Njoku's side.

P.S. I might've just answered my question. Per Yahoo, KC was dead last vs. TEs in points against: https://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/f1/pointsagainst?season=2018&pos=TE&mode=average.

4 Re: TE question

I do, and I have Darren Waller as my No. 2 PPR TE this week.  I think most people would prefer the safety of the big 3 of Kelce, Ertz, and Kittle, but regardless, I have Waller nearly doubling up Njoku this week.  I have Njoku 15th at the position.

6 Thanks, Scott

In reply to by Scott Spratt

I realized that you had Waller #2 as stated in the article right after asking the question. I ended up dropping Njoku outright for Waller. It's a shallow(er) league, still guys like Olsen on waivers, etc. Thanks again for your response.

7 Re: Eagles

Interestingly, the Falcons promote passing TDs by 60% but are neutral for rushing TDs.  Some of that is built on the team's depleted 2018 roster, but it may be a better day for the Eagles receivers than their backs.

8 Info on stats

Where can I find more stats like the ones in the article. Are they exclusive to your own use or can I buy them on the fantasy football package

9 I would suggest providing…

I would suggest providing the players final rank after the added points in the total column for ease of reading.

 

At minimum the D and K weekly rankings NEED to be up Tuesday night to matter. I doubt im the only one who has waivers go thru early wed AM, so your rankings are too late.