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Favorites & Fades

Week 2

By: Nick Caron | HC Green | Eli Mack | John Fessel
Updated: 9/17/23



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:





- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning

Vikings @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -6.5
Total: 48.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

No Brainers: WR Justin Jefferson

Favorites: TE T.J. Hockenson

With Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, George Kittle, and others all dealing with injuries that have them out or at least limited at the moment, to say that the tight end position is weak right now throughout the league would be an understatement. That’s why a player like T.J. Hockenson, who finished as the TE2 in 2022, is so valuable right now. Hockenson also delivered in Week 1, catching eight of the nine passes that came his way. While he was only able to muster 35 yards on those catches and didn’t score a touchdown, he was still the TE3 on the week while finishing second at the position in targets behind only Zach Ertz.

This type of usage follows the pattern of usage that the Vikings were deploying throughout the second half of the season after acquiring Hockenson. It shouldn’t really come as any surprise that his usage will remain one of the best at the position. The Eagles are a great defense so it’s tough to be too excited about anyone facing them. Still, Hockenson is about as good of a bet as can be made at the tight end position right now and should be again in the conversation to finish as the top scorer at the position this week.

On the Fence: WR Jordan Addison

Rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison had an excellent NFL debut as he caught four of the six passes that came his way for 61 yards and a touchdown. This was an important performance as it proved that he’s going to be a focal point of the offense despite his young age and having to contend for targets with one of the league’s best receivers in Justin Jefferson.

Still, there are some side notes that we need to be aware of when it comes to Addison that make him more of an “on the fence” player than a “favorite.” Particularly his snap percentage from Week 1 is a bit concerning, as he saw the field for just 56.2 percent of the Vikings’ offensive plays, whereas teammate K.J. Osborn was out there on 90.6 percent of plays, indicating that - at least from a personnel standpoint - Addison is still the WR3 in this offense. Certainly, there is a talent discrepancy here and Addison will almost certainly play himself into more usage as time goes on, but we could see some ups and downs early this year when it comes to his fantasy production.

There were quite a few horrific performances from other receivers and Addison did look good in Week 1, so don’t feel too worried if you do have to put him in your lineup this week, just understand that there might be more risk in starting him against an excellent Eagles defense than it might appear on the surface.

Fade: RB Alexander Mattison

While he produced just 34 yards on the ground, Week 1 has to be considered a win for fantasy managers rostering Vikings running back Alexander Mattison. Mattison was out there for 73.4 percent of the snaps, with Ty Chandler being the only other back who even saw the field, checking in on just 11 total snaps for the afternoon. Mattison also out-touched Chandler by a ratio of 14 to 4, and he was surprisingly useful in the passing game, catching three passes on four targets, including a touchdown.

While we have to be happy with the usage, there’s no question that Mattison’s actual production on his touches was uninspiring against a bad Buccaneers defense. Now he faces the fearsome Eagles front seven that might just be the best unit in the entire league, in a game where his team is a six-point road underdog.

We’ve seen that Mattison could be utilized more in the passing game than we originally expected, and he will almost certainly get the early down work in this game, but this looks like a potentially disappointing fantasy day for Mattison if he’s not able to sneak into the end zone as he did in Week 1.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown

Favorites: WR DeVonta Smith

Fantasy managers who spent significant draft capital on Eagles wide receivers were happy in Week 1 as the duo delivered solid fantasy production in a road game against the Patriots. This week they come home to face a Vikings defense that is coming off of a 2022 season where they were the ninth-worst defense at defending opposing wide receivers. They gave up 11 combined catches for 117 yards on 16 targets to the duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Week 1 and that was against Baker Mayfield who was making his first start for the Bucs in a game where they were significant underdogs. Now the Vikings have the unenviable task of trying to stop one of the league’s best duos out wide. Fire up Smith and A.J. Brown both as WR1s this week.

On the Fence: TE Dallas Goedert

The biggest concern coming out of the Week 1 performance from the Philadelphia passing game has to be the usage - or lack thereof - from tight end Dallas Goedert. He was targeted just once in Week 1 and did not make a catch on that pass, which meant that he was blanked on the stat sheet for the first time since Week 3 of the 2019 season. Goedert is not a super high-end option at the position, but one thing we can typically rely on is that he’s going to get his five to seven targets and he’s usually going to make a handful of catches in each game. Sometimes that means he gets into the end zone and gives you a truly difference-making performance at a bad tight end position, but the last thing we expect is that he’s going to give us absolutely nothing. Because of this terrible performance, Goedert really can’t be considered a Favorite at the moment.

Even with this information, though, fantasy managers shouldn’t be completely pressing the panic button on Goedert quite yet. He still played on 92.4 percent of Philadelphia’s offensive plays, with only one other tight end even seeing the field throughout the game. There’s no question that Goedert is still the top tight end on the roster and thus we should have hope that he’ll get back to being a reliable mid-level TE1 this week.

Fade: All Philadelphia Running Backs

The Eagles completely bamboozled the fantasy world in Week 1 when it came to their backfield. Sure, we had all heard the reports that Kenneth Gainwell was going to be a bigger part of the backfield than some had originally believed, but few could’ve possibly predicted that newcomer Rachaad Penny would be a healthy scratch while fellow newcomer D’Andre Swift saw just two touches on a 28.8 percent snap share. It was truly the Gainwell show in Week 1.

Now we head into Week 2 and it would be easy to project that Gainwell will lead the backfield in touches and snaps again, but Gainwell actually suffered a rib injury and has been ruled out of Thursday night’s contest. It would be great if we could just immediately assume that someone else will be able to step in and become the bell cow for the Eagles in Week 2, but this is a truly volatile situation that could go anyway, with Swift, Penny or even Boston Scott seeing significant touches. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome, at least on the surface, seems to be some sort of committee approach that will probably limit the upside of all three of these backs, requiring them to either get into the end zone or produce a high reception share to really deliver anything of use for fantasy purposes.

If you’re absolutely desperate, Swift seems like the best bet given his history of usage in the passing game and the fact that he was at least active and seeing the field on roughly a third of the Eagles’ snaps, but don’t be surprised if his usage doesn’t shift significantly from where it was in Week 1 and the Eagles instead just make things painful on fantasy managers with a full-blown committee.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Vikings 20 ^ Top

Bears @ Buccaneers - (Mack)
Line: TB -2.5
Total: 40.5

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

No Brainers: QB Justin Fields

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR D.J. Moore; WR Darnell Mooney

Moore’s debut as a Chicago Bear did not go so well. Two catches on two targets caught many by surprise, especially considering the negative game script for most of the contest. I would anticipate the Bears being more purposeful in getting their star free agent receiver involved this week against the Bucs. Whether that translates into startable production remains to be seen as Justin Fields still has a long way to go as a passer. He ranked 24th in ESPN’s QBR last week and only 13 of his 37 attempts went to wideouts. Despite Darnell Mooney (4-53-1) finishing last week with better numbers than Moore, I think he takes a noted step back in Tampa this week.

Fade: RB Khalil Herbert; RB D’Onta Foreman; RB Roschon Johnson

This Bears’ backfield is a mess from a fantasy perspective. Nine carries for Khalil Herbert in the opener; five each for D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson. Also, throw in the inevitability of Fields stealing the money carries at the goal line and you have an even greater reason to steer clear of this backfield. Most of Roschon’s work came in garbage time in the second half but he did seem to be most talented running of the group. Keep an eye on this RB rotation in Week 2. The Bucs gave up 34 rushing yards to the Vikings RBs last week and the 6th fewest fantasy points to running backs last season.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Mike Evans; WR Chris Godwin; RB Rachaad White

Mike Evans just keeps doing Mike Evans things. He led the team last week in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, plus a score. Evans came at a discount this year in drafts compared to previous years, as many anticipated a drop-off in 2023. That drop-off may very well still happen; just not yet. We cannot count him out, despite who his QB is. Godwin remains a steady presence in this Bucs offense as well. Godwin doesn’t seem to have the downfield burst he had prior to his ACL injury in 2021, but he remains a solid fantasy contributor who owners can count on for solid low-end WR2 numbers.

Rachaad White had a dreadful Week 1, although the volume he received was promising. Only nine other runners had more than his 17 carries, so while the 36 yards he mustered leaves a lot to be desired, the degree to which he was the focal point is a great sign moving forward.

On the Fence: QB Baker Mayfield

I must say, I’m not the biggest Baker Mayfield fan. But if I’m optimistic about the pass catchers for Tampa Bay, shouldn’t I be optimistic about the QB? Logic would probably say I should, but it’s hard for me to see beyond his often-careless play. At best, Mayfield is a bye-week filler or Hail Mary option for injury-plagued teams. The Bears defense just allowed Jordan Love to the QB4 in Week 1 so there’s room for Mayfield to play above his average outcome.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Bears 14 ^ Top

Packers @ Falcons - (Mack)
Line: ATL -2.5
Total: 40.5

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB AJ Dillon

Fellow RB Aaron Jones is iffy with a hamstring issue sustained last week. If he can’t suit up, Dillon becomes a high-end RB2 this week, despite his usual absence from the passing game. This backfield, when healthy, is something of a 55-45 split in Jones’ favor, making both startable options most weeks. But if during any week one of them is out, it opens the possibility for some solid production for the available RB, and I envision that for Dillon should Jones sit this one out.

On the Fence: QB Jordan Love

Opinions of Jordan Love during draft season were all over the board—from him flirting with a top-10 finish at season’s end, to him being inconsistent and fringe starter for fantasy in 2023. His Week 1 performance, though, should have quieted the skeptics just a bit. He was solid from a fantasy perspective, tossing three TD passes on just 27 attempts. That kind of efficiency isn’t expected every week, but it gave us a glimpse into the potential of this offense with Love as its conductor. WR Christian Watson’s possible absence from this game, coupled with Aaron Jones’ injury concerns, could make things dicey. But Love is positioned to continue the upward swing he started on Week 1.

Fade: TE Luke Musgrave

Rookie Luke Musgrave’s first NFL game last week was solid but unspectacular. Tight ends didn’t do much across the league in Week 1, as no player at the position had more than 56 receiving yards. But guess who had the second-most receiving yards at the position? Luke Musgrave. With the TE position in fantasy being as thin as it is, any player with promising potential should be rostered. Musgrave fits that mold. But while he’s a building block in fantasy who can add depth at a thin position, I think it would be foolish to rely on him as a fantasy starter right now. Give him time, though. Be patient. It could pay off soon.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: RB Bijan Robinson

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Drake London / TE Kyle Pitts

For the life of me, I don’t understand Atlanta’s approach on offense. The team has invested two top-10 draft picks in pass catchers Drake London and Kyle Pitts since 2021—players we were told could alter the destiny of that franchise, and in Pitts’ case, someone who’s a generational talent. Yet here we are in 2023, watching Falcons games while screaming at the television, wondering why the team is employing a painfully conservative offensive strategy from 1982.

That strategy, generally, is fine. I guess. But if they want to PLAY that way, why not DRAFT that way? Target a few 280-pound blocking TEs or some road-grating 320-pound guards. But they draft athletic skill players then employ a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offensive philosophy. Incredible.

London is considered the team’s No.1 option, but he finished last week with one target and zero catches. One target. One. Target. It’s maddening, and as long as it keeps happening and I keep writing these pieces for this site, I’m going to keep howling at the moon about it. Throw the ball to your skill position players in whom you invested top 10 picks. How difficult can that be? Apparently, very difficult.

Fade: QB Desmond Ridder

It was painful watching Desmond Ridder under center in Week 1. This offense, outside of its RBs, it limited. They only had 48 plays, including 18 pass attempts. Eighteen. In 2023. The fact that they scored 24 points with THAT philosophy and THAT coach is a minor miracle. It will be interesting to see how this offense responds when it plays a prolific team and is forced to score. But Ridder belongs nowhere near your starting lineup, and barely on your roster.

Prediction: Packers 27, Falcons 17 ^ Top

Colts @ Texans - (Mack)
Line: pick'em
Total: 39.5

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

No Brainers: QB Anthony Richardson

Favorites: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

This team is not deep with many fantasy options, but Pittman is certainly the team’s best fantasy producer outside of Anthony Richardson. While some anticipated that Pittman’s production would be hit or miss this season as Richardson gets a firmer grasp of the NFL game, Pittman came out the gates with a stellar game, finishing with 8 catches on 11 targets—a nearly 30 percent target share. With RB Jonathan Taylor on IR through Week 4, Pittman can expect to be the main cog in this Colts offensive engine, and his fantasy owners can expect him to be in the conversation for WR3 status each week.

On the Fence: RB Zack Moss

Moss sat out the opener last week with an arm injury, but he returns to a running game desperate for some production. Deon Jackson last week had 14 yards on 13 carries, plus he lost two fumbles. Yikes. Moss won’t remind anybody of Barry Sanders, but eclipsing 14 yards on 13 carries should be a possibility. I would recommend sitting him this week to see first how he does with Richardson under center.

Fade: N/A

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

No Brainer: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Dameon Pierce; WR Nico Collins; WR Robert Woods

Rookie QB CJ Stroud’s first NFL game was nothing to write home about in the traditional sense. But as first NFL games go, it wasn’t too bad. The rookie had 44 pass attempts with no picks, yet he could only muster 9 points. It was eye-opening, however, to see the degree to which WRs Nico Collins and Robert Woods were used. The two accounted for nearly a 50 percent target share. That’s promising. I’m a fan of RB Dameon Pierce. Devin Singletary will continue to have a role, but I wouldn’t expect it to be such that it eats into Pierce’s long-term value. Houston’s offense is young and a work in progress. This offensive core is best used for roster depth—sans Pierce—not necessarily players you can rely on week after week. Keep an eye on this team. They will have some sneaky productive weeks moving forward.

Fade: TE Dalton Schultz

With such emphasis on getting the WRs the ball last week, Dalton Schultz was the odd man out with only four targets. Stroud is not yet at the point where he can make more than one pass catcher fantasy relevant. He could be years away from that. Schultz at this point is best used for roster depth and/or bye week fill-in. Offensively, I think this team is on the right track but it will require some patience.

Prediction: Colts 24, Texans 16 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Lions - (Green)
Line: DET -4.5
Total: 47.5

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

No Brainers: RB Kenneth Walker, WR DK Metcalf

Favorites: QB Geno Smith

Week 1 was a disaster for the Seahawks, and Smith got caught up in it, throwing for a paltry 112 yards against the Rams. The loss of starting OTs Abraham Lucas (knee) and Charles Cross (toe) played a big part, and there’s a good chance they’ll have to do without both in Week 2 -- Lucas was placed on IR, but Cross still has a chance to play. While that’s less than ideal, the Seahawks will at least be able to plan for their absence rather than adjusting on the fly, which should help Smith get back on track. His last trip to Motown concluded with 320 yards and 2 TDs passing to go with 49 yards and his lone rushing TD of 2022. He’s worth the risk as a QB1 depending on your options.

On the Fence: WR Tyler Lockett

You have to go back to Dec. 2, 2019, to find a less productive effort from Lockett than the two catches and 10 yards he posted against LA last Sunday. He took a hard hit during the game as well and was evaluated for a concussion. Lockett was cleared, though, and should be full go in Week 2. The last time he faced the Lions, the veteran hauled in six passes for 91 yards, trailing only Metcalf (7-149-0). We know he can do damage against the Lions, but with the tackle situation it remains to be seen if Smith will have the time for Lockett to work downfield. He’s a fringe WR3.

Fade: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

It was a forgettable debut for Smith-Njigba, who caught three passes (on five targets) for 13 yards. It was something of an accomplishment that he was able to play in the game after sustaining a wrist injury during camp, but that’s small consolation to any fantasy owners that plugged him into their lineup. JSN’s short-area quickness has a chance to make him a popular target if the blocking can’t hold up, but it feels like taking a wait-and-see approach with the rookie is the better path right now.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

No Brainers: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Favorites: QB Jared Goff

Put bluntly, Goff was a vastly superior player statistically at home last season than on the road. To that end, he averaged 275 yards and 2.5 TDs per game at Ford Field, highlighted by his 378-yard, 4-touchdown performance against the Seahawks in Week 3. He was efficient but unspectacular against the Chiefs, but after watching Matthew Stafford light up Seattle without Cooper Kupp, owners should be looking for a way to get Goff in their lineup as a solid QB1.

On the Fence: TE Sam LaPorta

LaPorta had a solid debut, hauling in five passes for 39 yards and being heavily involved in the offensive attack. Also pointing to a possible big game is what T.J. Hockenson was able to do in this offense against the Seahawks a year ago when he posted an 8-179-2 line in that Week 3 shootout. On the flip side, Hockenson dealt with inconsistent usage before his trade to Minnesota, which is something LaPorta could encounter as well. The rookie is a fringe TE1 with moderate risk/reward.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Lions 34, Seahawks 24 ^ Top

Chargers @ Titans - (Mack)
Line: LA -3.0
Total: 45.5

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Update: Austin Ekeler is listed as Doubtful.

No Brainers: QB Justin Herbert; RB Austin Ekeler (ankle)

Favorites: WR Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen continues to put up numbers despite his advancing age and competition for targets. He led the team last week in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, and we should continue to expect such production from the 31-year-old veteran. The Titans just gave up 8 for 112 to Saints WR Chris Olave last week. Herbert should have his way in this game, giving Allen owners optimism heading into the contest. Look for Allen to pace the receiving corps with a productive stat line.

On the Fence: RB Joshua Kelley

As of this writing, RB Austin Ekeler has yet to practice this week, opening the door for Joshua Kelley to start in his place. Kelley should be productive even if Ekeler plays, as he has stand-alone value after last week’s performance. Both Ekeler and Kelley finished with 16 carries, and each was productive. And while Ekeler’s receiving prowess separates him from his teammate, Kelley nonetheless remains a startable option, particularly in the flex position. Keep an eye on Ekeler’s availability, but also know that Kelley is an option either way.

Fade: TE Gerald Everett

As tight ends go, Gerald Everett is a solid NFL option but a marginal fantasy producer. Tight ends are hit or miss generally but making matters more complicated are tight ends who must battle others for targets. That’s Everett. Tight ends usually help their QBs by being the safety valve running short routes. With the Chargers, Ekeler plays that role, leaving little left to nibble on. Fade Everett this week…and most others.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

No Brainers: RB Derrick Henry

Favorites: N/A

Upddate: DeAndre Hopkins is a gametime decision.

On the Fence: WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle)

Heading into this season, no clear-minded fantasy player believed DeAndre Hopkins would rekindle the production he enjoyed during his heyday with Houston. First of all, he’s older; secondly, QB Ryan Tannehill is “just a guy”; and third, we all know Derrick Henry is the straw that stirs Tennessee’s offensive drink. Starting Hopkins means banking on the 38 percent target share he received last week. That’s sure to deliver solid numbers at some point. The eyeball test during last week’s game against New Orleans revealed that Hopkins still possesses a pop to his game; the kind of quick twitch athleticism he’s shown throughout his career. That’s a plus. But at this stage of his career, Hopkins is what he is: a high floor/low ceiling receiver who can complement a fantasy team well. Hopkins missed practice on Thursday so check his status after practice on Friday.

Fade: QB Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill is best left for Super Flex leagues; one QB leagues should run away from him as fast as you can. He completed only 50 percent of his passes last week and tossed three interceptions. He is not a reliable fantasy player this week, next week, or the week after that.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Titans 17 ^ Top

Ravens @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: CIN -3.0
Total: 46.5

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews (quad)

Favorites: WR Zay Flowers

With Andrews inactive in Week 1, Flowers emerged as Jackson’s go-to receiver. The rookie was targeted on 10 of the 22 passes, catching nine of them for 78 yards; for comparison, the duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman combined for five receptions and 72 yards. It was an impressive performance with Flowers proving he could make things happen in space and turn quick passes into meaningful gains. The team certainly hopes to get Andrews back this Sunday, but even if that happens, Flowers could be deployed as a low-end WR3.

On the Fence: RBs Gus Edwards / Justice Hill

The season-ending injury to J.K. Dobbins (Achilles) is a bad case of déjà vu for the Ravens, which went through that same scenario back in 2021. This time, at least, he wasn’t immediately followed onto the IR by Edwards and Hill, both of whom sustained season-ending injuries of their own two years ago. Here’s what we know: the Ravens are still going to run the ball, it’s in their DNA. What we don’t know is how carries are going to be distributed. Edwards ran eight times for 32 yards in Week 1, and Hill had nine yards on an identical eight carries but two of them went for touchdowns. For this Sunday, both are risk/reward flex plays.

Fade: N/A

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

No Brainers: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: TE Irv Smith

Nothing went right for Cincinnati’s offense in rainy Cleveland last Sunday, but there were at least encouraging signs for Smith in his debut with the club. Only Chase (9) and Higgins (8) were targeted more times than Smith (5), who matched Mixon for second on the team with three receptions. His predecessor, Hayden Hurst, caught 10 balls and scored a touchdown in two games against Baltimore last year, so Smith does offer some fringe TE1 upside if you’re in need.

Fade: WR Tyler Boyd

Boyd (2-10-0) finished fifth on the team in targets (3) against the Browns, and with as out of synch as the offense looked, it feels awfully optimistic to think the Bengals will generate enough passing to support their No. 3 receiver. Boyd was decent in two matchups with the Ravens a season ago, including a respectable 5-51-0 line in Week 18, but he’s not someone to roll the dice on this week.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 20 ^ Top

Raiders @ Bills - (Caron)
Line: BUF -8.0
Total: 47.5

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: WR Davante Adams

Favorites: RB Josh Jacobs

A long holdout had some worried about Josh Jacobs’ early season usage, but those concerns seemed to be completely overblown as Jacobs got right back to elite usage with 19 carries and two catches in Week 1. His efficiency was terrible as he only produced 48 rushing yards on those carries, but we have to expect that his per-touch efficiency will regress back closer to his norm as times goes on. Another positive note is that Jacobs played nearly 80 percent of the snaps, so there’s really no concern that he’s going to be losing any significant touches to either Zamir White or Ameer Abdullah.

The Bills got absolutely gashed by Breece Hall in Week 1 and while Jacobs lacks the explosiveness of Hall, he’s likely to see at least 15 touches this week even if the Raiders end up getting blown out. He’s an RB1.

Update: Jakobi Meyers has been ruled out.

On the Fence: WR Jakobi Meyers (concussion)

Meyers suffered a concussion in Week 1 and missed practice on Thursday so his status is in doubt for this week. However, he was one of the more surprising top performers as the former Patriot caught nine passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets. His 38.5 percent target share was vastly more than we could’ve ever assumed it would have been in his first start for a new team and he played on nearly 80 percent of the Raiders’ offensive snaps. By comparison, former Raiders 100-catch receiver Hunter Renfrow played on just 22 percent of the snaps.

He isn’t typically a strong touchdown producer, but he’s someone who’s capable of consistently seeing five or more targets per game, especially in a passing game that’s as consolidated as Las Vegas’ seems to be. We’ll need to see more before we trust him to be an every-week fantasy starter, but given the landscape throughout the league right now he’s a solid Flex option in PPR formats.

Fade: TE Austin Hooper

There are really only a handful of tight ends throughout the league that fantasy managers can really be excited about so it’s not as if there was a ton of hype around him coming into this season, but Austin Hooper was disappointing in Week 1 even given very low expectations. Hooper played just two more snaps than rookie Michael Mayer, saw just one target, which he did catch for a 20-yard reception, but failed to get into the end zone and now has to be looked at as a player who can be dropped in most leagues. Tight end is ugly right now, but we need to see more from Hooper before he can even be rostered.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

No Brainers: WR Stefon Diggs

Favorites: QB Josh Allen

Quarterback Josh Allen is coming off of one of the worst games he’s had since his early years when he looked like he shouldn’t even be playing in the NFL. Allen threw three ugly interceptions and fumbled in a loss against the Aaron Rodgers-less Jets on Monday night.

Still, even despite this horrendous performance that certainly cost fantasy managers dearly, there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic about his prospects heading into Week 2. Allen carried the ball six times for 36 yards, continuing his tradition of being one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, and there’s really no reason to believe that he won’t still be willing to take off and run for scores near the goal line. He also threw for 236 yards and a touchdown against a high-quality Jets defense, whereas the Raiders were a bottom-10 defense against opposing quarterbacks in 2022. In fact, Las Vegas intercepted just six passes on the year - tied for fewest in the NFL - so the “whoopsies” we saw from Allen in Week 1 should be minimalized against this bad secondary.

This looks like a big bounce-back week for the Bills passing game as a whole, but particularly for Allen who remains one of the top assets in all of fantasy football.

On the Fence: RB James Cook

One of the more contentious players during draft season, Bills running back James Cook saw decent usage in Week 1 as he carried the ball 12 times 46 yards, adding four receptions for 17 yards in the passing game. He played on nearly 60 percent of Buffalo’s snaps in a game that was surprisingly competitive even after Aaron Rodgers’ injury.

While he certainly didn’t light up the stat sheet, what we can take away from this game is that Cook is definitely the RB1 in this offense, particularly when the game is close or when the Bills are behind on the scoreboard. That should be enough to make him a viable RB2 right now, especially against the Raiders and their defense that gave up 135 total yards to the duo of Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine in Week 1. The Raiders also gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs throughout the 2022 season, so there’s no reason to think that their Week 1 struggles were a fluke.

Fade: RB Damien Harris

Many assumed that while James Cook might be the “starter,” that Damien Harris would be the defacto “goal-line” back in Buffalo and could even see a good share of the early-down work. Instead, the veteran played on just 13 percent of snaps, far behind James Cook (59.4 percent) and even Latavius Murray (23.2 percent). It’s always possible that Harris ends up coming in at the goal line and stealing a touchdown from Cook, but if he’s seeing fewer than 10 touches overall - which seems like almost a guarantee at the moment - then it’ll be almost impossible for him to deliver for fantasy purposes even if he does get in the end zone. He’s a player to avoid right now.

Prediction: Bills 30, Raiders 17 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Jaguars - (Mack)
Line: KC -3.5
Total: 51.5

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes

Favorites: TE Travis Kelce (knee)

Kelce missed the opener last week with a bruised knee, but many expect him to make his debut on Sunday despite his limited practice status as of this writing. The way KC’s receivers struggled against Detroit last week put into sharp focus just how much the Chiefs need Kelce. Some may argue the receivers’ play cost the Chiefs the game. I anticipate Kelce playing this week, and I also anticipate Patrick Mahomes making Kelce the focal point of the passing game, per usual, with a 30 percent target share. Kelce will remind folks why in most drafts, owners chose him in the 1st round.

On the Fence: RB Isiah Pacheco

Kansas City has an undeniable RBBC, with Isiah Pacheco serving as the starter and Clyde Edwards-Helaire as his primary backup and Jerick McKinnon as the pass-catching back. With each RB’s role in the offense being defined, it nonetheless still makes it difficult to go into a fantasy contest with confidence with one of these players in your lineup. If I had to decide on a Chiefs RB in this contest, it would be Pacheco. He should get the most touches of the three, and with his signature hardnose running, he could potentially break one. Start him if you must, but temper expectations.

Fade: WR Skyy Moore; WR Kadarius Toney

I’m a Detroiter who’s a recovering Lions fan. But watching Chiefs receivers drop all those passes last week was painful to witness. Mahomes spread the ball widely, with five players having at least four targets. While that may help disguise some things from an NFL perspective, spreading the rock that thinly does nothing for fantasy. Skyy Moore was a trendy pick during draft season, with most suggesting that a KC receiver will step up this year to take some of the pressure off Kelce. Most figured it’d be Moore. Time will tell if it will be him, but a starting WR playing with the best QB in the league finishing the opener with zero catches? Makes me wonder. And Kadarius Toney? Let him work out whatever’s going on between his ears before ever inserting him in your lineup.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: WR Calvin Ridley

Favorites: QB Trevor Lawrence; RB Travis Etienne; WR Zay Jones; TE Evan Engram

Admittedly, Trevor Lawrence should be in the NO BRAINER category. But I wanted to mention something: While I expect Lawrence to have his best season, he puts the ball in harm’s way too often for my liking. He should have had three interceptions last week if defenders had held onto the giftwrapped throws. That happens way too much. He must clean that up if the Jags are to continue their ascension. But there is no debate, obviously, about starting him this week.

As for Zay Jones and Evan Engram, each had solid performances and delivered numbers, although Engram’s stat line wasn’t eye-popping. But for what it’s worth, he was among the leaders at the TE position last week in receptions and receiving yards. So, there’s that. Zay out-snapped Christian Kirk 62-to-42 last week, playing over him in two-WR sets.

On the Fence: WR Christian Kirk

This team is stacked with offensive skill players, so there will be some weeks where one of them will leave a lot to be desired. Christian Kirk had that distinction last week. He finished with only one of Lawrence’s 24 completions. This game has the makings of a high scoring affair, which could spread the production more evenly. It’s simply too many mouths to feed in Jacksonville, and there will be weeks when someone is on the outside looking in.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Jaguars 31, Chiefs 27 ^ Top

49ers @ Rams - (Fessel)
Line: SF -7.0
Total: 45.5

No Brainers: RB Christian McCaffrey, TE George Kittle

Favorites: WR Deebo Samuel, WR Brandon Aiyuk

The 49ers mainly ran out two-receiver formations, and unsurprisingly both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk were on the field the most. Both played over 85 percent of offensive snaps, despite a blowout, and Aiyuk led in targets (8 - catching all 8) while Samuel caught 5 on 7 targets and added 2 rushes. Despite the Rams surprising victory over the Seahawks in Week 1, their defense was completely gutted during the offseason, and the secondary losses headed by Jalen Ramsey should be great news for both Aiyuk and Samuel. Aiyuk (129 yards and 2 TD) had the bigger day in Week 1, but Samuel’s ability to produce in both the passing and running game might make him a bit better value in a game where the Niners are heavy favorites. You really can’t go wrong firing up either one as WR2 this week, though.

On the Fence: n/a

Fade: RB Elijah Mitchell

McCaffrey dominated the backfield snaps (58) in Week 1. That could change at any moment, as Mitchell saw a fair amount of action when he and McCaffrey were both healthy in 2022, but it would be wise to see it happen in 2023 before believing it. Especially after Mitchell’s quiet day – just 10 snaps and 5 touches - despite the favorable conditions of a blowout win versus Pittsburgh.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

No Brainers: n/a

Favorites: WR Puka Nacua (oblique)

Van Jefferson’s 93% snap count easily led Rams receivers, but he did not turn out to be Matthew Stafford’s favored target, or even close. Instead, it turned out to be Rams 5th round rookie Puka Nacua. As a matter of fact, Nacua’s 15 targets matched Cooper Kupp’s highest total during his world-beating 2021 season (145-1947-16). There’s no doubt that Kupp is an outstanding receiver, but can we ignore the fact that Nacua seamlessly stepped into his shoes with 10 receptions and 119 yards? It’s worth noting that Stafford’s ability, coupled with his clear desire to have an alpha target, has helped create the only two 1900-yard receivers in history. Nacua is reasonably not headed for that territory, but a healthy and refreshed Stafford seems poised to elevate Nacua into instant fantasy relevance sans Cooper Kupp.

On the Fence: WR Tutu Atwell

The Rams dominated time of possession in Week 1 versus the Seahawks, 39 minutes to 21. As such, there were both plenty of pass attempts and rushes to go around (78 total plays of offense). While a distant second in targets to Nacua, former 2nd rounder Tutu Atwell finished with 8, matching Nacua with 119 receiving yards (6 receptions). Atwell was not targeted in eight games as a rookie in 2020, and just 35 times in his sophomore season of 2021, so it’s fair to wonder whether Atwell’s opening week outburst is a sign of him coming into his own or more of an outlier against an exhausted and beatable Seahawks secondary.

The latter may be true, as Atwell recorded 108 of his 119 yards after half time. Still, Atwell played 79% of snaps in Week 1 and while the Rams are not likely to out-possess the 49ers this week, Stafford may find himself throwing often to try and play catchup, meaning there could be ample targets available for Atwell. Keep in mind that the 49er’s secondary is more formidable than the Seahawks, and will presumably be better rested throughout the game. Starting Atwell this week would mean having a strong measure of faith in his maturation as a player. If that’s not the case for you, sit him.

Fade: QB Matthew Stafford, RB Kyren Williams, RB Cam Akers

As previously covered, the Rams had a cornucopia of snaps against the Seahawks last week, and that gave all three of Matthew Stafford, Cam Akers and Kyren Williams desirable opportunities to produce. While Stafford looked good, he was only able to turn 38 pass attempts and 3 rushes into 14.5 fantasy points, and Akers was completely shut down by the Seahawks front-7, managing just 29 yards despite a league-leading 22 carries (he did salvage his day somewhat with a TD). Kyren Williams was the only one of the three to make fantasy football noise, turning 15 rushes and 2 targets into 54 yards and 2 touchdowns. Still, the Rams only produced 92 yards on 40 rushes, and the 49ers stiff defense is unlikely to be any kinder, nor present the red zone opportunities that made Willams’ day worthwhile against the Seahawks. It’s likely going to be a tough day for all three of these men, and neither Akers nor Williams can be counted on to see even 10 touches this week.

Prediction: 49ers 30, Rams 14 ^ Top

Giants @ Cardinals - (Fessel)
Line: NYG -4.0
Total: 39.5

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

No Brainers: RB Saquon Barkley

Favorites: QB Daniel Jones, TE Darren Waller

The Giants had a head of steam for about 2 minutes, and then they were subsequently steamrolled by the Cowboys for the final 58 minutes of last week’s game. There’s enough talent on the offensive side of the football (and plenty on the defensive side) to believe Week 1’s result was due to the quality of their opponent and somewhat merely that of an aberration. The good news for Giants is they should be far better this week.

In terms of NFL talent, the Cardinals are arguably the polar opposite of the Cowboys – especially with Kyler Murray out of action and 2020 1st rounder LB Isaiah Simmons traded late in the preseason to the G-men. Arizona did hang in against Washington, but despite Sam Howell repeatedly handing the Cardinals opportunities (6 sacks taken, 2 turnovers), the Commanders still walked away with a 20-16 victory and Howell finished with a Top 12 fantasy performance (19.2 points). Daniel Jones is far more polished than Howell and should be in great shape for a big rebound game.

Darren Waller made it through the Giants’ brutal Week 1 both unscathed and as the Giants target leader (3 receptions on 5 targets). Logan Thomas saw 8 targets against the gutted Cardinal defense, and had it not been for a drop he would have walked away with a strong 5 reception performance despite the inaccuracy of Howell. Waller is a superior talent to Thomas, of course, and he should both be a benefactor of, and a reason for, Jones having a strong performance.

On the Fence: WR Darius Slayton

Slayton, Parris Campbell and Isaiah Hodgins all had over a 60 percent snap rate Week 1, with Slayton and Campbell leading the way (67% a piece). With Wan’Dale Robinson and Sterling Shepard still recovering from injuries, these snap rates are likely to continue. Waller is reasonably first up for targets, though, and the Giants will likely have a run heavy approach featuring Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones against the rebuilding Cardinals. What offensive opportunities remain could very well be peppered around. Arizona’s defense is beatable enough that one of the Giants receivers – especially deep man Slayton - could provide flex value without a large number of targets, but it’s certainly a risky proposition.

Fade: WR Jalin Hyatt

There was a lot of buzz about Hyatt coming out of camp this summer. Week 1’s outcome (36% of snaps, 1 target) doesn’t mean it’s unjustified, but it is a good reminder that Hyatt – a third round pick – will likely need time to work his way onto the field enough to have a shot to be relevant in fantasy football. Daniel Jones averaged 29.5 pass attempts per game last year, and in a game where the Giants could get their frustrations from Week 1 out of their system, it seems wise to anticipate Jones’ targets hitting the under this week. With all the names currently in front of him on the depth chart, there simply isn’t enough targets for Hyatt.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB James Conner

It’s virtually impossible to imagine the Cardinals being in the positive game script very often this season, especially while they are juggling backup quarterbacks into the starting line up each week. That’s never a good prescription for running back production in fantasy football, but James Conner is one of the limited number of three-down backs in football and carries a better floor than most. While some weeks may find him smothered every time he catches the football (5 receptions for 8 yards), Week 1 supported the notion that he’s got a good chance to beat his career high of 55 receptions (2018). With the added fact that Conner is by far the best option on the rare occasions they get into the red zone, he’s quite capable of carrying flex value even against a vastly superior team such as the Giants.

On the Fence: WR Marquise Brown, TE Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz (10 targets) was Joshua Dobbs favorite target in Week 1 and Marquise Brown tied Conner for 2nd with 5 targets. Brown has had 100 targets or more each of the last three seasons, so it’s likely that he and Ertz see a more even share going forward, with Brown presumably eclipsing Ertz as age continues to take it’s toll on the veteran TE and the role for Trey McBride’s expands. In the meantime, Dobbs seems intent to check down as often as possible, so as long as he’s the starter Ertz could be in for a lot of action. Whether he can do much with the opportunities (just 21 yards on 6 receptions last week) is hard to say, but it could be enough to make him a back end TE1.

Marquise Brown’s talent isn’t elite, but it’s been good enough to produce a 1000-yard season (2021), and he’s been a respectable flex option over the previous 3 seasons whenever healthy. Both being on a Cardinals team that should have no choice but to throw and lining up as the team’s WR1 are in his favor, but the quarterback situation is not, as was evidenced by Week 1. Clayton Tune is a gun-slinging rookie and that’s probably more suitable for Brown’s prospects than the veteran game manager Joshua Dobbs, but it is Dobbs who was announced the starter for Week 2. Tune could enter at any point, though, boosting Brown’s value. Otherwise, Adoree Jackson may erase Brown from the flex landscape.

Fade: WR Michael Wilson, TE Trey McBride

3rd round rookie Michael Wilson’s snap rate was incredibly encouraging – 90% - and while his 4 targets didn’t quite follow suit, one could see better days for Wilson. Like Marquise Brown, though, Wilson is going to be especially hamstrung by Dobbs limitations and style of play. The rookie is not as polished as Brown, and despite his snap rate, Wilson is likely to be 4th on the target tree behind Brown, Ertz and Conner through the early part of his career. That means he’ll have far more fantasy duds than studs. Facing fellow rookie and 1st rounder Deonte Banks - one of just two corners to be targeted at least 3 times in Week 1 and not allow a catch - Wilson appears to be a very wise fade.

TE Trey McBride seems destined to overtake Zach Ertz at some point, but while he caught both his targets for an efficient 23 yards, McBride’s 37% snap rate was substantially lower than his 53% snap rate as a rookie. Some of that has to do with the time Ertz missed last year, but it’s clear that coach Gannon feels the need to keep a veteran like Ertz out there as often as possible for now. Times may change, but McBride is a clear fade in Week 2.

Prediction: Giants 23, Cardinals 13 ^ Top

Jets @ Cowboys - (Caron)
Line: DAL -9.0
Total: 38.5

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

No Brainers: WR Garrett Wilson

Favorites: RB Breece Hall

Week 1 saw 2022 rookie running back sensation Breece Hall play in his first game since tearing his ACL, logging 31.5 percent snap share behind newly-acquired veteran Dalvin Cook. While the snap share sounds bad, the positive is that Hall looked incredibly explosive, producing 147 total yards on just 11 touches. He ran out of steam on a huge 83-yard run where he nearly scored or his day would’ve looked even more impressive.

Dalvin Cook looked washed as he ran for just 33 yards on 13 carries, which should mean more playing time for Hall going forward. Aaron Rodgers is now out for the season, so the Jets will need the explosiveness that Hall can provide - they can’t rely on grinding the clock with three-yard carries from Cook if they want to win games.

Still, there’s always the possibility that the coaching staff is still in “ease him in” mode with Hall, therefore we need to keep expectations realistic. Look for Hall to see somewhere between 12 to 16 touches here in Week 2, which should be enough for him to be a solid fantasy option even against an excellent Cowboys defense.

On the Fence: RB Dalvin Cook

Former Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was the lead dog in the Jets committee backfield in Week 1, playing on 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. He saw significantly more playing time than both Breece Hall and Michael Carter, touching the ball 16 to Hall’s 11. While he was far less effective with his touches than Hall was, the there’s no denying that the Jets’ coaching staff seems to trust him.

What’s concerning is that while Cook is a veteran, his pass-blocking is subpar at best and downright awful at its worst. That could lead to Breece Hall playing even more of the passing downs as the season goes on, and even as early as this week.

The Jets won against a very good Bills team in Week 1, even after Rodgers’ injury, so we can’t expect that they’re going to completely abandon their gameplan that got them a W. Volume is king at the running back position, therefore Cook is someone who can still be considered as a Flex option here in Week 2.

Fade: WR Allen Lazard, TE Tyler Conklin

There was hope that Aaron Rodgers could make more than one pass-catching weapon viable for fantasy purposes in this Jets offense, but now that New York is looking at Zach Wilson behind center again, it’s going to be extremely tough to trust any of the team’s pass catchers other than Garrett Wilson.

Allen Lazard saw just four targets in Week 1, catching two of them for 46 yards, while tight end Tyler Conklin was targeted just once, making a two-yard catch with his minimal opportunity share.

Perhaps Zach Wilson can start to progress as a player now that he has little competition on the depth chart, but for now this is a passing game that fantasy managers will mostly want to avoid.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

No Brainers: RB Tony Pollard

Favorites: WR CeeDee Lamb

Normally a “no-brainer,” CeeDee Lamb has to be a bit lower this week given the potential matchup against one of the league’s best cornerbacks in Sauce Gardner. Lamb does play out of the slot a good bit, so he could avoid Gardner on those snaps, but it’s still something to temper expectations about. Although Gardner gave up five receptions in Week 1, we shouldn’t assume that he’s suddenly fallen off.

On a positive note, despite a less-than-typical 17 percent target share, Lamb caught all four of his targets for 77 yards in Week 1. It makes sense to assume that Dallas’ overall passing volume will be down this year, but the Week 1 game was definitely a weird outlier where they weren’t incentivized to pass at all. Lamb is coming off of a 156-target season, so even a decent drop-off from that number should still result in him being one of the 10-most-targeted players in football this season. He’s someone who needs to remain in lineups even in difficult matchups.

On the Fence: QB Dak Prescott

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had some ugly fantasy production in Week 1, but that was largely due to the game script and rainy weather. The Cowboys got out to an early lead and their defense just absolutely terrorized the Giants’ offense, so Prescott wasn’t asked to do much.

Week 2 could be a bit of a different story as the Jets have a very good defense that really punished Josh Allen in Week 1. They gave up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2022, including just 15 passing touchdowns, which tied them with the Texans for fewest passing scores conceded.

Prescott is a solid QB2 option for Week 2, but there might be better options on your bench or even the waiver wire in single quarterback formats.

Fade: WR Brandin Cooks (knee)

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks played his first game for the Cowboys and while we know that the lack of volume meant that none of the pass-catchers in this offense was really going to produce much, it’s tough to not be disappointed in his four targets resulting in just two catches for 22 yards. Worse yet, Cooks was actually out-snapped 34 to 39 by fellow receiver Michael Gallup, which most of us did not see coming, although again that could have been more game script-dependent than anything so don’t hit the panic button yet.

What is worrisome is that Cooks is dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out of practice and while he’s expected to play on Sunday, this is just another reason to be pushing him down the rankings. Additionally, he could end up being lined up against Sauce Gardner quite a bit when Lamb moves to the slot.

Week 1 was a weird game for the Cowboys offense as a whole, but fantasy managers should be taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the Dallas pass-catchers outside of CeeDee Lamb.

Prediction: Cowboys 23, Jets 17 ^ Top

Commanders @ Broncos - (Fessel)
Line: DEN -3.5
Total: 38.5

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

No Brainers: n/a

Favorites: WR Jahan Dotson

In Week 1, the Broncos defense allowed just 261 yards and 4.7 yards per play. The one bright spot for the Raiders offense was the work done between Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Myers. Myers only mistake was taunting Broncos cornerback Damari Mathis, who he torched for two touchdowns. Enter Dotson, who has thus far in his career presented as a major touchdown threat. With Terry McLaurin likely to command much of Patrick Surtain’s attention and still recovering from turf toe, all eyes should be on Dotson, who led Commanders wideouts with both 7 targets and 5 receptions in Week 1 and will draw Mathis for this match up. In two games with Sam Howell under center, Dotson has co-chaired with Logan Thomas as Howell’s favorite target. It’s a small sample, but is likely to continue this week and Dotson will be a prime candidate to find the end zone.

On the Fence: TE Logan Thomas

The Broncos defense doesn’t have many flaws, but they were scorched by tight ends last year, allowing the 4th most fantasy points in the league. Yet in Week 1, even with rookie linebacker Drew Sanders not yet ready to enter the fray (0 snaps on defense), Denver held the combination of veteran Austin Hooper and rookie Mike Mayers to just 1 catch for 20 yards. Which Denver-D shows up against Logan Thomas is a fair guess. Thomas is a serviceable but unexceptional talent, averaging 33 yards per game since 2020 and collecting just 12 touchdowns in an 8-year career. He doesn’t have a big ceiling, especially with Howell scrambling away some check down opportunities, and while one game doesn’t eradicate the vulnerabilities the Broncos showed against tight ends last year, there’s a real risk of Thomas being shut down here.

Fade: QB Sam Howell

Howell got some buzz in the preseason, and one could even say – at least from a fantasy perspective – that he lived up to in Week 1, finishing 10th in scoring. But that was against the Arizona Cardinals, not the Denver Broncos. A look inside the numbers reveals that Howell was on target on just 69% of his throws despite a rather conservative 7.5 intended air yards per pass. Howell held the ball too long, taking 2.7 seconds in the pocket (matching his time in the pocket during the final week last year), and paid the price with 6 sacks. The Broncos are equipped to make the price Howell pays for such indecisiveness and inaccuracy much higher. It’s best to sit him.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

No Brainers: n/a

Favorites: RB Javonte Williams

In Week 1, Williams usage was desirable (13 rushes and 4 receptions), but his results were underwhelming (57 yards). Don’t be discouraged. Javonte broke a pair of tackles and produced a whopping 3.5 yards after contact on his rushes. Meanwhile, though he produced just 5 yards receiving, his 6 targets not just outpaced Samaje Perine (4), but led the Broncos. Williams was involved as receiver in both 2021 and in 2022 - before going down with an injury (22 targets in four games). He appears to be headed down that blessed road again, even with Perine now in town.

Williams may not quite be a bell cow, but a 60/40 run share coupled with several targets a game makes him a less game script vulnerable than most, and a solid RB2 in what may be another back-and-forth grind against Washington.

On the Fence: WR Jerry Jeudy (hamstring)

Jeudy is back at practice, albeit in a limited fashion, and may be in line to play this Sunday. If he returns, he’ll be greeted by one of the more formidable cornerback rooms in the NFL, featuring Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St. Juste and rookie 1st rounder Emmanuel Forbes. No wide receiver on Arizona had more than 33 yards against the Commanders secondary in Week 1, and while Russell Wilson is better than Joshua Dobbs, at this point it’s fair to wonder if the gap is big enough to get a healing Jeudy even into flex territory this week.

Fade: QB Russell Wilson

Week 1’s Russell Wilson looked different than 2022 Russell Wilson in one regard – he didn’t turn over the football. Otherwise, despite Sean Payton’s arrival, it seemed to be the same story: lackluster production against very beatable opponents. Wilson managed just 177 yards on 34 pass attempts. Even two touchdown passes weren’t enough to push him beyond mid-QB2 territory despite what was a very down week for many other NFL quarterbacks (25% of starting QB’s scored less than 10 fantasy points). Most alarming of all was the mere 1 rushing yard that Wilson tallied for the game. The Commanders defense is much more imposing than the Raiders, and Wilson doesn’t appear to have the skills anymore to count on him in any match-up, let alone a tough one.

Prediction: Broncos 16, Commanders 15 ^ Top

Dolphins @ Patriots - (Caron)
Line: MIA -3.0
Total: 46.5

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: WR Tyreek Hill, QB Tua Tagovailoa

Favorites: WR Jaylen Waddle

It’s reasonable to have some concerns about Jaylen Waddle’s usage coming out of the Dolphins’ Week 1 victory over the Chargers. Sure, he caught four passes for 78 yards so he certainly didn’t tank any fantasy lineups, but the fact that he earned just five targets on 45 pass attempts from Tua Tagovailoa is a bit worrying. Nevertheless, we’ve seen this kind of sporadic usage from him in the past and it’s kind of something that fantasy managers just have to be okay with because he can also deliver huge performances that really help deliver wins for fantasy football.

Waddle is dealing with an oblique injury that has kept him limited throughout practice this week, so be careful and check the pre-game inactives, but he’s expected to play and should have a decent matchup against a Patriots defense that gave up 14 catches to the duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith in Week 1.

On the Fence: RB Raheem Mostert

With De’Von Achane inactive and Jeff Wilson on the IR, Mostert really became a bell cow back for the Dolphins in Week 1. While he only carried the ball 10 times and caught two passes, Mostert was on the field for 73 percent of the Dolphins’ total offensive snaps in what turned out to be a passing game shootout against the Chargers.

Mostert now heads into Week 2 on the injury report himself, with a knee issue that kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Reports are that the knee injury was more maintenance-related than anything, though, so he should be ready to go and likely deployed again as the team’s primary backfield weapon.

The Dolphins will likely be one of the more pass-heavy offenses in the league this season, but Mostert is someone who has the potential to be a solid RB2 option as long as his backfield mates are sidelined. Unfortunately, he also has the possibility of busting if he’s as ineffective with his touches as he was in Week 1 and fails to get into the end zone.

Fade: WR River Cracraft

One of the surprise beneficiaries of the Dolphins-Chargers shootout in Week 1 was veteran wide receiver River Cracraft. Cracraft actually out-produced both Braxton Berrios and even Jaylen Waddle in the game as he saw five targets, catching three of them for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The Dolphins’ third wide receiver role is still open and they should continue to be a pass-heavy offense, but fantasy managers shouldn’t be looking to a player like Cracraft to be anything more than a frustrating touchdown-stealer. He played just 40 percent of the snaps for the Dolphins in Week 1 and has never caught more than nine passes in a season. It can be easy to overreact based on one game sample sizes, but this is a player to avoid.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

No Brainers: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Favorites: TE Hunter Henry

Patriots tight end Hunter Henry surprised many as he finished Week 1 as the TE1 in fantasy, catching five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. He played 78.8 percent of snaps for the Patriots in Week 1, while newly-acquired backup Mike Gesicki was on the field for just 41.2 percent of snaps. Gesicki was targeted just three times.

The tight end position is terrible right now, so finding someone who is in competition to be his team’s target leader on a weekly basis is great for fantasy purposes. Henry is also one of the better goal-line weapons at the position, making him a solid TE1, especially against the Dolphins’ defense that gave up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2022.

On the Fence: WR Kendrick Bourne

Another shocking “winner” of Week 1 was veteran wide receiver Kendrick Bourne who saw a whopping 11 targets, catching six of those passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Bourne is currently a top-five wide receiver producer after one week.

His 11 targets were a surprise to everyone, but it’s worth considering that he did that in a game where the Patriots surprisingly decided to pass the ball way more than they usually do, resulting in other receivers like Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster each also seeing seven targets.

Bourne was definitely the top receiver for the team in Week 1, but there are plenty of reasons to not be overly optimistic about his prospects going forward. For starters, tight end Hunter Henry should continue to be the team’s primary goal-line weapon. Bourne is unlikely to suddenly ascend into a big-time touchdown producer, as he’s now in his seventh professional season and has never finished with more than five touchdowns in a full season. Additionally, the Patriots didn’t end up winning the game against the Eagles when they tried to match them through the air, so they may be less incentivized to lean so heavily on their own passing game going forward.

Still, the Patriots may end up falling behind on the scoreboard in this game and if it ends up being anything like Week 1, then they may be willing to get into a shootout with another of the better offenses in the league and that could lead to another decent target share day for Bourne. He’s a risky option, but one that could pay off.

Fade: QB Mac Jones

Mac Jones was the fantasy QB2 in Week 1 on a shocking 54 pass attempts (most in NFL). This was a far cry from his norm, as his career average is just under 32 attempts per game. There’s a chance that this could be the new Bill O’Brien offense coming into play, but chances are that it was just a one-game outlier and not something that we should be expecting going forward.

It’s reasonable to assume that the Patriots will end up needing to pass more in this game than they would typically prefer to, as the Dolphins showed in Week 1 that they might be the most explosive offense in the entire league. Still, another 54-attempt game seems unlikely. The Patriots lack weapons in the passing game and would almost certainly prefer to get into a battle of field position rather than try to shoot out with the Dolphins, so don’t expect a repeat performance from Mac Jones in this one.

Prediction: Dolphins 30, Patriots 23 ^ Top

Saints @ Panthers - (Mack)
Line: NO -3.0
Total: 39.5

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: WR Chris Olave

Favorites: WR Michael Thomas

Including last week’s opener, Michael Thomas has played in 11 games since 2019 and scored three TDs. No one expects him to get back to the 32 percent target share he enjoyed from 2019; that player is gone. But we shouldn’t allow the memory of how he used to dominate cloud our judgment and expectations about him now. He can still be a fantasy asset and a startable option on your team. It will be important to keep your expectations in check while also realizing that Thomas now plays second fiddle to Chris Olave.

On the Fence: WR Rashid Shaheed

The second-year player looked good last week. He was third on the team in targets with six and scored the only TD through the air. It’s best to take a wait-and-see approach with Shaheed at this time, but with Michael Thomas’s recent bouts with injuries, Shaheed could be in line for a huge boost in potential if he ever gets a chance in Thomas’s absence.

Fade: RB Jamaal Williams

The good news is Jamaal Williams was the bell cow RB last week, getting 18 of the 19 RB carries. Opportunities equal fantasy gold, and Williams’ role in the offense appears set. The bad news is he didn’t do much with those touches. It will be interesting to see how his role changes once RB Alvin Kamara returns in Week 4 after being suspended for the season’s first three games. I suspect we will see Williams’ true value at that time, much the same way he was productive in Detroit last year. Until then, tread lightly with him.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Miles Sanders

Miles Sanders had a career year last season, finishing the campaign with 1,269 yards and 11 scores, plus another two TDs through the air. In last week’s opener, he seemed to pick up where he left off. Nothing exciting, but we got to see his role in the passing game. He had only 20 receptions last year in Philly, but it looks like he might eclipse that this season playing behind a rookie signal-caller. If Sanders can boost his receiving totals across the board, he will solidify his status as a productive RB2 in fantasy.

On the Fence: TE Hayden Hurst

Hayden Hurst led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in last week’s opener—a notable accomplishment for any TE on any team. Hurst should continue garnering rookie QB Bryce Young’s attention as a safety net option in the passing game. And with the dearth of productive TE options in fantasy, Hurst could be a nice find in 2023.

Fade: Adam Thielen

Thielen has seen better days, that much is certain. The 33-year-old’s 2023 season got off to a whimper, tallying only two targets of Bryce Young’s 38 pass attempts. He will have some games this year that remind folks of his ability, but mostly he will be relegated to your bench. Like this week.

Prediction: Saints 23, Panthers 16 ^ Top

Browns @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: CLE -2.5
Total: 38.5

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

No Brainers: RB Nick Chubb, WR Amari Cooper

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Deshaun Watson

Given the rainy weather conditions, you should probably grade Watson’s 2023 debut on a curve. He threw for 154 yards, ran for 45, accounted for two TDs (one passing, one rushing), and tossed an interception. While those numbers aren’t great, they were miles ahead of what Joe Burrow was able to muster on the other side. Watson faced the Steelers in the season finale last year, passing for 230 yards, 2 TD, and 2 INTs in a 14-point loss. He took seven sacks in that one as well, and you can bet TJ Watt (three sacks in Week 1) will be looking to put him on the ground this Monday. He’s a risk/reward selection with a likely ceiling as a low-end QB1.

Fade: TE David Njoku

In his last five games, Njoku has totaled 12 receptions, 129 yards, and a TD, which comes out to 2.4 catches and 25.8 yards per game. Despite that, the former first-round pick continues to find his way into weekly rankings as a viable play. Granted, he has some upside -- his first game with Watson led to a 7-59-1 line -- but most weeks he winds up disappointing. Until he at least strings together a couple of noteworthy efforts, Njoku is best left on your bench.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

No Brainers: RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth (chest)

Favorites: WR George Pickens

With WR Diontae Johnson (hamstring) set to miss a few games, Pickens becomes the clear lead receiver ahead of veteran Allen Robinson. This despite Week 1 where A-Rob posted 64 yards on five receptions compared to a 5-36-0 effort from Pickens. The second-year wideout was considered an ascending talent coming into the season and a popular breakout candidate, and there’s little doubt he’s the most dangerous vertical threat on the roster. The 49ers were able to limit him successfully. The Browns have a solid defense of their own, but they can’t match San Francisco. Pickens had 72 yards and a touchdown the last time these teams locked up. Pencil him in as a solid WR3.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB Kenny Pickett

As we wrote last week, there’s a major difference between excelling in the preseason versus the regular season. That doesn’t mean Pickett can’t become a capable NFL quarterback but opening the year with San Francisco and Cleveland is a tall task for such a young player. He passed for 195 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in Week 18 last year, and with Johnson out of action, you might not want to expect much more than that. He’s not a QB1 option in primetime.

Prediction: Steelers 23, Browns 19 ^ Top