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Inside the Matchup
Week 2
9/13/18; Updated: 9/14/18

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Justin Bales



Sunday Early:


KC @ PIT | LAC @ BUF | MIA @ NYJ | MIN @ GB | PHI @ TB

Sunday Late:




- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Ravens @ Bengals - (Swanson)
Line: pick
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense had their way with the hapless Bills in a 47-3 blowout win over Buffalo that included six total touchdowns by the Baltimore offense, including three passing TDs from Flacco.

The fact that the Bills were unable to do anything on offense enabled offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg free reign to call whatever plays he wanted on offense. Nine different Raven players caught a pass in the game from Flacco, led by Willie Snead with four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Fellow free agent additions John Brown and Michael Crabtree each joined Snead with a receiving touchdown, while tight ends Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, and Maxx Williams each caught three passes. If one of the three tight ends emerges as the primary pass-catching option at the position , they will garner serious consideration for fantasy purposes, but as it stands, none of them is worthy of a start if the Ravens continue to spread around the targets.

Flacco and the Ravens passing game should continue to find success moving the ball in the air this week against a Bengals defense that gave up 319 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to Andrew Luck and the Colts. Although Luck did throw an errant pass into double coverage of Jack Doyle, the Bengals were more than susceptible to the pass.

A matchup to watch is this game will be the trio of tight ends for the Ravens against the Bengals linebacking corp. Doyle and Eric Ebron combined to catch 11 balls for 111 yards and score against Cincinnati. In addition, look for Mornhinweg to take out a page in the Colts playbook by featuring running backs Alex Collins and Buck Allen in the passing game. Rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins combined to catch 10 passes for 54 yards Week 1.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Alex Collins owners were undoubtedly frustrated to see their fantasy running back post a pedestrian seven rushes for 17 yards, as Kenneth Dixon led all Baltimore ball carriers with 13 rushes. Although Collins did salvage a rushing touchdown, his limited volume and lost fumble negated his value. To make matters worse for Collins owners, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson also received seven rushing attempts for 39 yards, indicating that the first round pick will be used more as a running threat than initially thought.

A knee injury sustained late in the game will likely keep Dixon out of the lineup for the next few weeks, presumably opening the door for Collins to receive a larger share of rushing attempts. Also, it seems reasonable to assume that Dixon would have received more volume had the game script not been blown out of proportion due to the pathetic Bills offense struggling to do anything.

The Bengals allowed a combined 12.2 fantasy points to the trio of Hines, Wilkins, and Christine Michael, as the Colts did the majority of damage through the air against Cincinnati. But those stats should be taken with a grain of salt, as the Bengals dominated the line of scrimmage against a young Colts offensive line. While certainly talented, Andrew Billings, Gino Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap may find it more challenging to manhandle guard Marshal Yanda and center Matt Skura.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco (High-End)
RB2: Alex Collins (High-End)
RB3: Javorius Allen (Low-End)
WR3: Michael Crabtree (Low-End)
WR3: John Brown (Mid-Range)
TE2: Nick Boyle (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception for 21 fantasy points in a 34-23 road victory over the Colts on Sunday. A.J. Green led all receivers with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown, while 2017 first round pick John Ross caught his lone target for a three-yard touchdown.

The revamped offensive line, including left tackle Cordy Glenn, gave Dalton ample time to survey the field and pick apart the Indianapolis secondary. The return of Tyler Eifert was a nice addition to the Bengals offense, as the former Notre Dame star caught three catches for 44 yards. When healthy, Eifert is a difference-making weapon in the offense and adds another viable red zone threat outside of Green.

Second-year running back Joe Mixon stole the show on the ground and in the air with 149 total yards and a score. The preseason narrative of Mixon’s receiving volume eating into the value of Giovani Bernard proved to be correct, with Gio catching just one pass for 11 yards.

Dalton and the Cincinnati passing game will find it to be much tougher sledding this Thursday against a Baltimore unit that gave up just 98 yards and no scores to Buffalo last weeks. Although the Bengal offense is certainly more potent than the Bills, Dalton’s history against his division rival has been less than stellar. The Red Rifle completed just 58% of his passes vs. Baltimore last season, with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

On the injury front, the Bengals enter Week 2 reasonably healthy, with reserve wide receiver Cody Core as the only offensive player listed on the team’s injury report with a sore back.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Joe Mixon was brilliant against the Colts last week flashing the size and speed combination few possess in the NFL on his 27-yard TD scamper. Beyond his excellent power and quickness, Mixon is a skilled pass-catching running back who is primed to post at least 50 catches this season out of the backfield.

Mixon’s emergence as an elite receiving option drastically limits Bernard’s value, with Mixon garnering 44 of the team’s 55 snaps. Bernard is nothing more than a flex play in the deepest of leagues and may be dropped in standard formats.

The defensive stats of the Ravens last week are skewed why the ineptitude of the Bills offense, so relying on them in this game preview is pointless. If 2017 is any indication, the best way to beat the Ravens defense is on the ground and not the air. Baltimore allowed the 11th-most points to opposing running backs last season while allowing the fewest and second-fewest points to wide receivers and quarterbacks respectively.

Mixon and Bernard combined for 148 yards on 28 carries in Week 17’s road victory by the Bengals that cost Baltimore the final Wild Card slot in the AFC playoffs. There is no doubt that Marvin Lewis and the Bengals coaching staff will once again lean on the ground game in what could be a hard-fought divisional tilt on Thursday Night.

There are no injuries of note on the defensive side for Baltimore, but starting cornerback Jimmy Smith will miss Thursday’s game and the next two contests for violating the league’s conduct policy.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton (Low-End)
RB1: Joe Mixon (High-End)
WR1: A.J. Green (High-End)
WR3: John Ross (Low-End)
TE2: Tyler Eifert (High-End)

Prediction: Ravens 21, Bengals 10 ^ Top

Panthers @ Falcons - (Bales)
Line: ATL -6.0
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Cam Newton only threw for 161 yards last week, but he added 58 yards and one touchdown on the ground, as well. He’ll face off against the Atlanta Falcons, who will be without S Keanu Neal in their secondary. Newton’s rushing always gives him a high floor, but he will see a boost from Neal’s absence. It’s important to note that Newton is averaging only 208 passing yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game against Atlanta throughout his career.

Devin Funchess and Jarius Wright led the Panthers wide receivers in target share (19.2%) last week. Neither found much success, though, combining for 12.4 fantasy points. D.J. Moore failed to record any targets, making the first round pick a non-factor at this point in the season. Greg Olsen (foot) has been ruled out for the next few weeks, meaning Ian Thomas will be Carolina’s main tight end moving forward. He caught both of his targets last week, but only recorded four yards. While Funchess should see a boost in opportunity with Olsen out, It’s difficult to trust anyone else in this passing attack.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey is the only running back to consider in Carolina. He gets a matchup against Atlanta, who allowed the Eagles to run for 113 yards and two touchdowns last week. McCaffrey also averaging 5.0 rushing yards per attempt, but only saw 10 attempts last week. Most importantly, McCaffrey saw a 34.6% target share, leading the Panthers with nine targets. Atlanta had trouble containing Darren Sproles out of the backfield last week and have historically given up receiving yards to running backs. In addition, they could struggle to slow down Carolina’s rushing attack with LB Deion Jones injured for the season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
Flex: Devin Funchess
Bench: D.J. Moore

Passing Game Thoughts: Carolina featured one of the best pass defenses in the NFL last week, but their easy matchup against the Dallas Cowboys skew their numbers a bit. Matt Ryan is coming off of a game, in which he attempted 43 passes and has found quite a bit of success against Carolina throughout his career, averaging 274 passing yards and 1.6 passing touchdowns per game. His last four stat lines against the Panthers:

2017: 28-45, 317-1-0
2017: 24-38, 313-2-1
2016: 27-33, 277-2-0
2016: 28-37, 503-4-0

Julio Jones was Ryan’s top receiver last Thursday, seeing 19 targets, or a 44% target share. He also led the league with three red zone targets last week. Jones also gets a matchup against DB Donte Jackson, who struggled in limited snaps last week. Surprisingly, Mohamed Sanu was the only other receiver to see a target for Atlanta last week. He’s an efficient player, posting a 71% catch rate since joining the Falcons and Sanu is a player that can contribute on limited opportunities. Austin Hooper is the clear-cut top tight end in this offense, but he has been limited in practice this week with a knee injury.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: The Falcons feature a two-headed monster at running back. Devonta Freeman (knee) only saw nine touches last week, and is questionable for this game. If he’s ruled out, Tevin Coleman will carry the workload and be a solid RB2. In three games last season with Freeman out, Coleman racked up 21, 21, and 19 touches. He only totaled 45 yards last week, but he also found the end zone. Carolina allowed Dallas to average 4.3 yards per carry last week, and Atlanta’s backfield could be in for a big day. Keep an eye on Freeman’s status this weekend.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan
RB2: Tevin Coleman (RB1 if Freeman sits)
WR1: Julio Jones (elite)
Flex: Devonta Freeman (RB2 if healthy)
Flex: Mohamed Sanu

Prediction: Panthers 24, Falcons 20

Browns @ Saints - (Bales)
Line: NO -9.5
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Tyrod Taylor struggled to complete 15 passes on 40 attempts last week, but that isn’t surprising, as the weather conditions were far from ideal. He also led the team with 77 yards and one touchdown on the ground. He’ll continue to make for a high upside option, especially against a team that allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 417 yard and four touchdowns, while also adding 36 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Jarvis Landry was the top receiver for Cleveland in Week 1, as he was targeted 15 times. Overall, he posted a 7/106 line on those targets. The Browns have suggested that they are looking to get Josh Gordon more involved in the offense. DeSean Jackson burned the Saints for a 5/146/2 line last week, and Gordon also features plenty of speed. The only concern is an expected shadow by Marshon Lattimore, who has allowed only a 60% catch rate. David Njoku is expected to enjoy a breakout season, and saw seven targets last week, which was the second highest on the team. He’ll continue to make a high upside touchdown threat.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Carlos Hyde was the lead running back for the Browns in Week 1, while Duke Johnson is playing more of a receiving role. Hyde totaled 22 carries for 62 yards and one touchdown but wasn’t featured much in the passing game. He only recorded one reception, but he saw six targets on top of five rushing attempts. The Saints looked decent against the run last week, but the Bucs enjoyed a stellar day through the air leaving little need to test the Saints run defense. If we assume the Saints will be playing from ahead in this game, it might script Hyde out of the offense and favor Duke Johnson, making Hyde somewhat touchdown dependent to return RB2 value.

Value Meter:
QB2: Tyrod Taylor (high upside)
RB2: Carlos Hyde
WR2: Jarvis Landry (mid-range)
TE2: David Njoku
Flex: Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson

Passing Game Thoughts: Drew Brees looked to be back in form last week, completing 82.2% of his passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns against the Buccaneers. He’ll get a decent matchup this week against the Browns who have a rising defense, but their numbers last week were a bit inflated by the weather. That will not be the case this week, as this game will take place in a dome, where Brees has been at his best.

Michael Thomas is the clear-cut WR1 for the Saints, recording 17 targets or a 38% target share last week. He posted an elite 16/180/1 line, as well. There have been rumors that Denzel Ward could shadow Thomas, and that would be a difficult matchup if that is the case. Ted Ginn Jr. is the other receiver that did damage last week, recording five receptions for 68 yards and one touchdown. Ben Watson also posted decent numbers, but it’s clear that the Saints have two top offensive weapons, while Ginn is cleaning up the scraps.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: The Saints got into a shootout last week, and Alvin Kamara only saw eight carries. He turned those carries into 29 yards and two touchdowns, maintaining his elite fantasy points efficiency from last season. He also posted an elite 9/112/1 line on 12 targets, which was the second most on the team. Last week, Cleveland allowed James Conner to record 192 yards and two touchdowns on 36 touches. Kamara is significantly more talented than Conner, and could post elite numbers against Cleveland.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB1: Alvin Kamara (elite)
WR1: Michael Thomas
TE2: Ben Watson
Flex: Ted Ginn Jr.
Bench: Mike Gillislee

Prediction: Saints 35, Browns 27

Texans @ Titans - (Bales)
Line: HOU -2.5
Total: 43.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Deshaun Watson struggled with pressure last week. He completed only 50% of his passes for 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also wasn’t scared to run - 40 yards - in his first game back from a major knee injury. The Titans somewhat struggled to get a pass rush against the Dolphins, but they have a plethora of talented pass rushers that could slow down Watson this week.

DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee are all questionable after being limited participants in practice. Hopkins saw a 32% target share last week - 11 targets - and that could increase throughout the season. He’s one of the most consistent receivers in the NFL. If Will Fuller (hamstring) is back, he should slide into Bruce Ellington’s role, who saw eight targets last week. Fuller is a significantly more talented receiver, and Ellington turned those targets into 13.7 fantasy points. Tennessee allowed the Miami to average 8.2 yards per pass attempt, and these receivers can do some damage if Watson can deal with the pressure.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller saw a workhorse role last week, totaling 72.4% of the running back touches. He totaled 98 yards on 20 carries, and would have had a great fantasy week if Alfred Blue didn’t vulture a one-yard touchdown. That likely will not be the case throughout the season, as Miller has proven he can be a three-down back. Essentially, Blue was bailed out by a touchdown, while Miller proved that he comes with more than enough value to be considered. The Titans kept the Dolphins running backs out of the endzone last week, holding Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore to 109 yards on the ground. The matchup for Miller isn’t daunting and fantasy owners should feel secure rolling him out as an RB2.

Value Meter:
QB2: Deshaun Watson (high risk, high reward)
RB2: Lamar Miller
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins (elite)
WR2: Will Fuller (low end)

Passing Game Thoughts: Marcus Mariota (elbow) flashed very little upside in his first game, throwing for only 103 yards and two interceptions before being injured. He has rushing potential, but it’s difficult to get passed his 3.6 fantasy point game last week. Mariota gets a plus matchup against the Texans, though, who allowed 267 passing yards and three touchdowns to the Patriots. Houston also struggled to contain opposing quarterbacks last season allowing the 10th most fantasy points to the position.

Corey Davis was a target hog during the first week, recording six receptions for 62 yards on 13 targets. The next closest wide receiver saw only three targets. TE Delanie Walker saw seven targets, but he is injured, and his role will shift to Jonnu Smith. The other receivers should also see a boost, as it’s somewhat unlikely that Smith sees nearly double digit targets on a weekly basis. Tajae Sharpe saw three targets last week, while Taywan Taylor only saw one. Rishard Matthews (knee) failed to record a target last week, but Tennessee has stated that his role will grow as the season progresses. Overall, the receivers are a group to avoid outside of Davis.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Dion Lewis out-touched Derrick Henry 21-11 last week. Lewis also played quite more snaps (49-20), but that may move closer to 50/50 as the season progresses. Henry also had a 60+ yard touchdown called back on a holding penalty. It’s obvious Lewis is the running back to own at this point, especially since he ran a touchdown in from the four-yard-line, suggesting Henry isn’t even a goal line back. Houston allowed James White to post a 4/38/1 line out of the backfield, and Lewis could pose a problem for them this week.

Value Meter:
RB2: Dion Lewis (mid-range)
WR3: Corey Davis (high end)
TE2: Jonnu Smith (high end)
Bench: Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry

Prediction: Texans 17, Titans 14

Colts at Redskins - (Katz)
Line: WAS -5.5
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Andrew Luck isn’t all the way back from his shoulder injury, but this was definitely a step in the right direction. Luck tossed up the ball up 53 times, completing 39 passes for 319 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. That’s the type of volume that helped Luck finish as the QB2 in 2014. T.Y. Hilton caught a red zone touchdown, which is always encouraging. Jack Doyle had a bad fumble, but otherwise remained his usual reliable self. I would not buy into Eric Ebron’s performance. The 4-51-1 line is nice, but doesn’t seem repeatable given he was on the field for only 45% of the snaps. It looks like Ryan Grant is the second wide receiver as he outsnapped Chester Rogers 65-47. That certainly has value, but it’s difficult to say how much given that Luck isn’t going to attempt 50+ passes every week. The Redskins are fresh off a demolition of the Cardinals, but it’s fair to say Luck is just a tad bit better than Sam Bradford at playing quarterback. I’m expecting another game of negative game script, which means a lot of passes for Luck.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Wilkins is going to promptly lose his job to Marlon Mack (hamstring) if and when Mack is ready to return, which could be this week. Wilkins is just not cut out to be a starter in the NFL as he has a very limited skillset and cannot catch passes. Nyheim Hines, on the other hand, most certainly can catch passes. He proved it in college and showcased that ability last week with seven receptions. He totaled just 33 yards, but the usage is very encouraging. I definitely prefer him to Wilkins going forward. Mack and Hines play different roles so Hines should be largely unaffected by Mack’s return. With the Colts offensive line constantly struggling, Luck may find it necessary to dump it off to Hines a lot again this week. He’s a PPR option only, though.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andrew Luck (low end)
WR2: T.Y. Hilton (high end)
TE1: Jack Doyle (low end)
Flex: Marlon Mack (if he plays), Nyheim Hines (PPR only)
Bench: Ryan Grant, Eric Ebron, Jordan Wilkins, Chester Rogers

Passing Game Thoughts: Out of Alex Smith’s 21 opening week completions, just eight of them went to wide receivers and they made up just 65 of Smith’s 255 yards. The Colts are an extremely favorable matchup for any opposing offense and Smith is repeatedly disrespected in the fantasy community. He is arguably the week’s best streaming option. Another positive from last week’s game was the health of Jordan Reed. He looks every bit like the elite tight end we’ve seen for years. He belongs in lineups for as long as he remains healthy. As for the receivers, Paul Richardson is my preferred option over Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson, but none of them are appealing. After all this preseason hype discussing Smith’s check-down nature and how great that will be for Crowder, the slot man saw just four targets last week. Crowder needs volume to thrive and I’m not sure he’s going to get it. Your best bet is to avoid all of the Redskins receivers.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: The one Redskins “receiver” you do want is Chris Thompson. Remember when people were fretting about the notion that he won’t be 100% until November? That went away real quick once Derrius Guice tore his ACL. CT is the primary back in Washington and was as efficient as ever last week, racking up 65 yards on the ground on just five carries and 63 yards in the air on six receptions. The rushing efficiency is unsustainable, but the receiving acumen is well documented giving him a high weekly floor in PPR. As for Adrian Peterson, please do not overreact. He did this last year in his Arizona debut. AP touched the ball 26 times on the ground for 96 yards. That’s typical AP inefficiency (3.7 ypc.) His 70 yards on two receptions is a fluke but Peterson can certainly volume his way to RB2 numbers and he’s going to get goal line carries. The Colts present a highly favorable matchup. Peterson is probably going to make me look stupid for a second week in a row, but I’m confident I will get the last laugh. However, I acknowledge he is a legitimate start this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith (high end)
RB2: Chris Thompson (PPR only, Flex play in standard)
RB2: Adrian Peterson (mid-range)
TE1: Jordan Reed (mid-range)
Bench: Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson

Prediction: Redskins 30, Colts 20

Chiefs @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT -5.5
Total: 53.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Kansas City head coach Andy Reid turned some heads this offseason when he traded away Alex Smith to the Redskins in favor of second-year QB Pat Mahomes, just one year after Smith posted an MVP caliber season for the Chiefs. After an impressive 32-28 win over the Chargers in which Mahomes threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns, Reid looks like he made the right decision and Mahomes looks like an impressive quarterback of the future.

Speed was on display for the Chiefs in their opening week road victory over the Chargers, as Tyreek Hill burned Los Angeles on a 58-yard slant that he took to the house. The speedster also scored a touchdown on a punt return in the first quarter and a jet sweep pass from Mahomes, showcasing his ability to beat opposing defenses in many different ways. Hill’s quickness and Reid’s ability to find mismatches will be a crucial aspect of this game, as the veteran Pittsburgh cornerbacks of Joe Haden and Artie Burns do not have the speed to keep up with Hill.

Look for defensive coordinator Keith Butler and defensive back coach Tom Bradley to use more zone coverage than usual to help mitigate the chance of Hill and Sammy Watkins to beat man coverage with speed. If that is the case, tight end Travis Kelce should be more involved than in Week 1 as he excels in finding gaps in the middle of the zone on short and intermediate routes.

Kareem Hunt was surprisingly quiet against the Chargers, especially in the passing game with zero catches on one target. Hunt’s limited work in the passing was surprising considering he caught 54 passes for 455 yards and three scores last season. Hunt’s lack of usage appeared to be more of a game plan by Reid to attack the Chargers with Hill and the receiving corps, but I suspect Hunt will be more involved in what could be a shootout in Pittsburgh.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Game script and the success of the Chiefs passing attack and special teams were contributing factors to Hunt posting a pedestrian 16 rushes for 49 and no scores Week 1. Hunt did not receive a red zone carry in the game and the Chiefs scored two “passing” touchdowns on jet sweep passes from inside the five-yard line. If Hunt had been given a chance to run the ball on either of those two plays, his stat line would have been more respectable for fantasy owners.

Pittsburgh allowed 100 yards and a rushing touchdown to the trio of Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and Nick Chubb Week 1 against Cleveland, with Hyde rushing for 62 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. Butler’s defense gave up the 14th-most points to opposing running backs last season, as seven different running backs managed to reach double figures in fantasy points. However, Hunt did struggle against the Steelers in 2017 when the two teams faced off at Arrowhead Week 6, with only 21 yards on nine carries. Hunt did log five catches for 89 yards in that game, signaling the possibility that he will be more involved in the passing game this week.

For Kansas City to be successful on the ground, the offensive line will need to be able to sustain blocks against a talented trio of Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave. The Chiefs were dreadful running the ball between the tackles in the preseason and will likely struggle again on Sunday, which could force Reid to lean more on the pass than the run in this matchup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes (Mid-Range)
RB1: Kareem Hunt (Low-End)
WR1: Tyreek Hill (Mid-Range)
WR4: Sammy Watkins (High-End)
TE1: Travis Kelce (Elite)

Passing Game Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger was dreadful last week with three interceptions against an underrated Browns defense on a windy and rainy Sunday in Cleveland. Big Ben completed just 56% of his passes and was under constant pressure as Miles Garrett and the Browns sacked Roethlisberger four times Week 1. Big Ben left the game with a bruised throwing elbow and starting offensive lineman David DeCastro is dealing with a broken bone in his hand.

On a positive note, the Steelers return home to the friendly confines of Heinz Field and the Kansas City defense will be much easier to move the ball against than the Browns. The Chiefs game up 424 passing yards and three touchdowns to Philip Rivers last week, as wide receiver Keenan Allen caught eight passes for 108 yards and a score. Second year WR Mike Williams posted a career-best 81 yards on six catches, while Melvin Gordon and Austin Eckler combined to catch 14 passes for 189 yards and a score out of the backfield.

All skill position players on the Steelers are worthy of a start in what could be a high scoring game. Antonio Brown is the start of the week at the wide receiver position and is a lock for at least 100 yards and a score or two, while JuJu Smith-Schuster matched up against Orlando Scandrick in the slot is an enticing option.

On the injury front, star safety Eric Berry appears as though he will miss this game with a heel injury. His absence is a big knock against the Chiefs and their ability to cover the tight end, making Jesse James or Vance McDonald (foot) an interesting play in deeper leagues.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: The Pittsburgh ground game did not miss a beat without Le’veon Bell as James Conner rushed for 135 years and two scores on 31 carries. The second-year back added 57 yards on five catches out of the backfield and could once again be a massive part of the passing attack against a Chiefs defense that allowed 189 receiving yards to running backs last week.

The Chiefs allowed the 12th-fewest points to opposing running backs last season with only one opposing running back reaching triple digits in yardage in any game in 2017. That one running back was Le’Veon Bell, and he torched the Chiefs for a season-high 179 yards on 32 carries. While I don’t anticipate Conner reaching that impressive yardage total, he is certainly in line for a big day and is a must-start in all formats.

On the injury front, right inside linebacker Reggie Ragland is dealing with a knee injury and fellow linebacker Ben Niemann missed last week with a hamstring injury. Ragland looks like he will be able to play on Sunday, but the prognosis for Niemann is not as, and it looks like he will miss another game.

For the Steelers, starting guard David DeCastro did not practice on Wednesday due to a broken hand. It appears as though he is going to play through the injury, but he will likely have a cast on his hand that could hinder his ability to block.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Elite)
RB1: James Conner (Mid-Range)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Elite)
WR2: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Mid-Range)
TE2: Jesse James (Low-End)

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Steelers 28

Chargers at Bills - (Katz)
Line: LAC -7.5
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Keenan Allen remains the main option in the Chargers passing game, playing 88% of the snaps last week. Philip Rivers just missed LA’s number two WR, Tyrell Williams (or he dropped it, depending on your perspective) on a wide open touchdown. Travis Benjamin also committed one of the worst drops you’ll ever see. Meaning, Rivers’ 424-yard, three touchdown line could have been even bigger. This is how it goes when your team is constantly trailing. That will hardly be the case this week against the worst team in the NFL. While Rivers has no shot at getting anywhere near 51 pass attempts, we all saw what Joe Flacco did to the Bills last week meaning Rivers can attempt as few as 30 passes and still post QB1 numbers. Expect Allen to once again see double digit targets. Fantasy owners may be somewhat intrigued by Mike Williams because of his draft capital and his five receptions on six targets for 81 yards last week. I’m here to provide the other side of the argument. All six of those targets came in the fourth quarter with the Chargers down multiple scores. Mike is clearly fourth on the depth chart behind Allen, Tyrell, and Travis Benjamin, all of whom played more offensive snaps. In a positive game script for the Chargers, you can only trust Rivers and Allen.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: The real second member of the Chargers passing attack is Melvin Gordon, who led the team with 13 targets last week. Gordon was his usual inefficient self on the ground, rushing for just 64 yards on 15 carries, but he excelled through the air with 102 yards on nine receptions. Gordon is a volume king and it is not going anywhere. Keep an eye on Austin Ekeler, though. If Gordon were to go down, Ekeler could very well match Gordon’s productivity. Ekeler caught all five of his targets for 87 yards and a touchdown. He only played 27% of the offensive snaps so don’t go chasing last week’s points. With the Chargers poised to experience significant positive game script, Gordon is an obvious RB1 play, but Ekeler could get some heavy burn in the fourth quarter as the Chargers are in clock killing mode.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers (low end)
RB1: Melvin Gordon (mid range)
WR1: Keenan Allen (low end)
Bench: Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Antonio Gates

Passing Game Thoughts: Clearly the biggest question heading into Week 1 was whether the world was ready for the Nate Peterman Experience. The answer, unequivocally, was no. The Experience, as I now call him, lasted a little over two quarters. I think Josh Allen is one of the worst “top” QB prospects of all time, but it’s the correct move to start him this week. The Chargers were shredded by Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs last week, but I still believe in their secondary and things will be much easier this week against the Allen led Bills. Kelvin Benjamin will continue to lead the team in targets. He caught just one of seven last week as the Bill quarterbacks combined for 11-of-33 for 98 yards. As a result, Benjamin and the rest of the pass-catchers can’t be trusted. The Chargers defense is an elite play this week.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy is still good at football. I promise. Unfortunately, it’s not going to matter. You simply can’t start McCoy with any confidence on this team. He’ll get all the goal line carries if the Bills ever get close enough. They averaged 6.6 yards per drive last week. McCoy managed just 22 yards on a mere seven carries and I really don’t see things ever getting much better. This offense is a wasteland.

Value Meter:
Flex: LeSean McCoy
Bench: Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay

Prediction: Chargers 34, Bills 7

Dolphins at Jets - (Katz)
Line: NYJ -3.0
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It was an up and down return for Ryan Tannehill. He completed 20 of 28 throws last week for 230 yards and two touchdowns, but he also turned the ball over twice. Kenny Stills was the Dolphins best wide receiver, but he did so in his usual Stills way with a 75-yard touchdown. Other than that, he, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant all had similar lines. Stills is the only receiver you can use due to his ceiling. Rookie TE Mike Gesicki saw two targets and isn’t ready to be relevant. It is difficult to know what to make of the Jets defense after Matt Stafford made them look like the ‘85 Bears last week. I’m inclined to think most of that is on Stafford. The Jets didn’t record a sack last week but trusting the Dolphins passing game members on the road is a risky proposition.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Kenyan Drake (46 snaps) clearly played ahead of Frank Gore (18 snaps), but the old man was enough of a thorn in Drake’s side to cap Drake’s upside. Gore actually outrushed Drake 61-48 despite handling five fewer carries. Drake was more involved in the passing game, though, seeing four targets to Gore’s zero. The Jets bottled up the Lions run game last week, but that game was also out of hand very early and the Lions have horrible running backs. I think Drake will be fine as an RB2, but he’s definitely not someone with a high ceiling.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ryan Tannehill
RB2: Kenyan Drake (low end)
WR3: Kenny Stills (boom or bust)
Bench: Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Frank Gore, Mike Gesicki

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold’s career started in the worst possible way with a touchdown to the wrong team. He did recover nicely, not turning it over the rest of the game while throwing for two touchdowns. With the game out of hand early and Stafford gift wrapping points for the Jets, we didn’t get to see Darnold air it out much. He did drop a dime to Robby Anderson for a 41-yard touchdown in an effort to eschew the notion that he’s just a dink and dunk quarterback. His top target was clearly Quincy Enunwa, who led the team with six catches for 63 yards and a score. He looks like the Jets receiver to own. Enunwa is going to be the Jets primary slot receiver and operate as a safety blanket for the rookie QB. He could be in for a strong PPR year and is worth inserting into lineups this week if you need a replacement for Marquise Goodwin or Doug Baldwin.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: Bilal Powell started and was dominating snaps until what looked like an eye injury caused him to exist. Isaiah Crowell stepped in and was effective. Each RB saw 40% of the snaps. This is a true timeshare with each holding RB3/Flex value. Powell only caught one pass, which was one more than Crowell, but Crowell was way more efficient on the ground with 102 yards on 10 carries compared to 60 yards on 12 carries for Powell. Both backs were productive though and it was Crowell that scored. The Dolphins run defense bottled up Derrick Henry last week, but struggled with Dion Lewis. With Powell being the shiftier of the two Jets’ RBs, he is a slightly better bet than Crowell this week.

Value Meter:
WR3: Quincy Enunwa
Flex: Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell, Robby Anderson
Bench: Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor

Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 17

Vikings @ Packers - (Swanson)
Line: GB -1.0
Total: N/A

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins’ first start for the Minnesota Vikings was a success, as the high priced free agent acquisition completed 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards and two scores in a 24-16 win against the San Francisco 49ers. Cousins hooked up with Adam Thielen on six receptions for a game-high 102 yards, while Stefon Diggs hauled in three catches for 43 yards and a score.

In a positive note for both Vikings fans and Dalvin Cook owners, the second-year tailback appeared to be back to his rookie form, with six catches for 55 yards to go along with 16 carries for 40 yards on the ground.

Considering the matchup against a 49ers team the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks in 2017 and once again appear to be exploitable in the air, Cousins’ 12-place finish was likely a disappointment for owners expecting a monster game.

Green Bay’s front office revamped a defensive secondary that allowed the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks last season by using two top 45 picks on cornerbacks, including the 18th overall pick on Jaire Alexander from the University of Louisville. Both players are currently playing behind veterans Tramon Williams and Kevin King, but they provide excellent depth to a position of weakness for the team and Alexander logged three tackles week one against the Bears.

Despite these additions, the Packers are more susceptible against the pass than the run and the Vikings will likely look to attack Green Bay through the air, especially to the tight end and in the slot with Thielen.

A matchup to watch will be the Vikings offensive line against the outside rush of Clay Matthews, Muhammad Wilkerson, and blitzes from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The below average offensive line of Rashod Hill and Mike Remmers on the right side allowed three sacks and five QB knockdowns against a 49ers team that does not feature a stout defensive front. If the Packers can continue to be strong against the run and get sustained pressure on Cousins, they will have a good chance of staring the season 2-0.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook returned to the field Week 1 for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last September against the Lions. Although the former Florida State star managed just 40 yards on 16 carries for a 2.5 yard per carry average, he hauled in six of his seven targets from Kirk Cousins for 55 yards, while playing in 80% of the team’s offensive snaps. As expected, Latavius Murray worked in for 11 carries on 14 snaps, but Cook earned the majority of work and should continue to play in around 75% of offensive plays.

Cook’s ineffectiveness on the ground against the 49ers begs the question if he will struggle this week against a Packers unit that allowed just two rushing touchdowns in the final seven games of the 2017 season. When healthy, defensive lineman Mike Daniels is one of the most talented run stopping players in the NFL. The addition of free agent Muhammad Wilkerson will bolster an already stout run stopping line, which could pose a problem for a Vikings offensive line that entered 2018 ranked as the No. 28 unit out of 32 according to ProFootball Focus.

Look for the Vikings to continue to keep Cook involved in the passing game even if they fail to move the ball consistently on the ground. Over the past two seasons, the Packers have allowed the 10th most receiving yards in the league to opposing running backs, and the Vikings will have more than a few opportunities to try to exploit Mike Pettine’s blitz packages with screens and other quick passes to Diggs and Thielen on crossing patterns.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (Low-End)
RB1: Dalvin Cook (Low-End)
WR1: Stefon Diggs (Low-End0
WR2: Adam Thielen (High-End)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The fate of the Packers and all of the skill position players in Green Bay were on life support for nearly an hour on Sunday night when Aaron Rodgers left the game against the Bears with a serious knee injury that had the appearance of a season-ending ailment. The loss of Rodgers would once again kill the value of Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, Randall Cobb, and all three Packers running backs for the entirety of the season.

In a stroke of good fortune, the knee injury proved to be not as severe as it appeared and Rodgers returned to throw for three touchdowns while leading the Pack back to a victory over a shocked Bears team. Rodgers has yet to be cleared to start and is currently listed as questionable against Minnesota. Assuming that he does not need season-ending knee surgery, Rodgers will play and is a must-start even against a tough Vikings defense.

Look for Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy to use a quick passing game like they used I the second half of the Sunday Night game against Chicago. Having Rodgers get the ball out early will help mitigate the likelihood of making the injury worse by reducing the number of hits on the quarterback, especially against a team like Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, who love to blitz with pro bowl safety Harrison Smith. This style of passing game will make Randall Cobb a high-volume play and could reduce the number of deep targets outside to Geronimo Allison.

Only one quarterback since 2015 has managed to throw for four touchdowns in a game against Mike Zimmer’s defense. That quarterback was Aaron Rodgers in 2016, the last time Rodgers played against Minnesota at home. Considering the fact that Rodgers will lack the mobility that makes him arguably the most dangerous QB to ever have played the game, he does have a track record of at least 20 points in his previous four games against the Vikings.

On the injury front, Adams was added to the injury report on Wednesday with a sore shoulder. Be sure to monitor his status as the week progresses. His absence in the lineup would increase the target volume for Cobb, Allison, and Graham, but hurt the overall efficiency of the offense.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Jamaal Williams rushed the ball 15 times for 47 yards against the Bears on Sunday night, while failing to connect on his two targets out of the backfield. Ty Montgomery added another seven yards on two carries with 21 receiving yards on two catches.

The Green Bay ground game is predicated on the fact that opposing defenses must account for the ability of Rodgers to pick them apart in the passing game, thus limiting their ability to stack the box to stop the run. But with a stout defensive line, led by Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson, and Everson Griffen, Zimmer’s unit is more than capable of stopping Williams and Montgomery with their front four. Guards Taylor Lane and Justin McCray struggled in run blocking last week against the Bears and will certainly have their hands full this week as well.

Williams should once again be the starting back for McCarthy and will continue to see the majority of snaps due to his superior pass blocking skills. The Vikings will bring pressure against Rodgers throughout the day, and Williams’ ability to pick up blitzes will be a key factor for the Pack to win the game.

From a pure fantasy perspective, neither running back is a great play in this game and other options at the position should be considered. If faced with the situation of having to start one of them, Williams would be the guy based on volume.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Low-End)
RB3: Jamaal Williams (High-End)
RB3: Ty Montgomery (High-End)
WR1: Davante Adams (Low-End)
WR3: Randall Cobb (High-End)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (Low-End)

Prediction: Packers 17, Vikings 16

Eagles @ Bucs - (Bales)
Line: PHI -3.0
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Eagles passing attack will likely continue to struggle with Nick Foles under center. He needed 34 attempts to throw for 117 yards and one interception last week against the Falcons. He does get a matchup against the Bucs, who allowed the New Orleans Saints to throw for 432 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in Week 1. Furthermore, Tampa Bay allowed the Saints to average 9.8 yards per attempt. While we shouldn’t confuse Foles with Drew Brees, the matchup does look promising on paper.

Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz were the focal points of this offense, seeing 10 targets each. The only other major factor was Darren Sproles, who saw seven targets out of the backfield. Mike Wallace is a bit of a hidden gem in this offense, though. He failed to record a catch on three targets last week, but he saw 109 air yards. The coaching staff has suggested they want to get him going this week, and Ted Ginn burned Tampa for a 5/68/1 line in the deep threat role last week. Backup tight end Dallas Goedert is another potential red zone target.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: As mentioned above, Sproles lead the running backs with seven targets, and he should lead them again this week. Alvin Kamara featured a 9/112/1 line against the Bucs as a receiving threat out of the backfield last week. Jay Ajayi has been the top true running back for Philadelphia, though. He led the team with 15 carries, 62 yards, and two touchdowns; the majority of which came in the second half. The Eagles have suggested they want to get him more involved as he recovers from a pre-season foot injury, and he could potentially see 20+ touches.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jay Ajayi (mid-range)
WR2: Nelson Agholor (PPR)
TE1: Zach Ertz (high end)
Flex: Mike Wallace, Darren Sproles
Bench: Nick Foles

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Fitzpatrick came out of nowhere, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns on only 28 attempts last week. He also added 36 yards and one touchdown on the ground. He gets a tougher matchup against the Eagles, as they featured a top-10 defense last season against quarterbacks. Still, they allowed Matt Ryan to continuously get in the red zone in Week 1, although they could not convert.

Mike Evans torched an elite Marshon Lattimore for a 7/147/1 line on seven targets. While the line is encouraging, Evans has never been known as an efficient receiver, and only seven targets is a bit worrisome. DeSean Jackson is currently questionable with a head injury, but he’s tentatively on pace to play. Last week, he caught all five of his targets for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Godwin also found the end zone, posting a 3/41/1 line on four targets. Tampa Bay’s receivers were far too efficient last week, which doesn’t seem sustainable. That being said, they should find some success in this matchup, but expectations should be dropped significantly compared to last week. O.J. Howard also seems to be ahead of Cameron Brate in the tight end pecking order, although Howard only saw two targets last week.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Peyton Barber was the only running back of note, handling 86.4% of the Bucs carries. Ronald Jones, who is arguably the only running back that can take carries away from him, was inactive this week leaving backup duties to journeyman Jacquizz Rodgers. If Jones is inactive again, Barber will continue to play heavy snaps. The matchup here against an Eagles defense that gave up the 2nd fewest fantasy points to running backs last year isn’t appealing. It’s possible for Barber to deliver RB2 value on volume alone but his ceiling is likely capped.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ryan Fitzpatrick (low end)
RB2: Peyton Barber
WR1: Mike Evans (low end)
Flex: DeSean Jackson (if healthy)
TE2: O.J. Howard (low end)

Prediction: Eagles 20, Bucs 17

Cardinals at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -13.0
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: A disastrous Week 1 against Washington won’t give fantasy owners of Sam Bradford much confidence as they head to Los Angeles to face a much-improved Rams defense. Bradford, who is known for checking down and throwing efficient passes, was not even effective doing that in Week 1 and the begging for rookie Josh Rosen has already begun. We’ve seen other situations already this season, such as Buffalo, where veteran QBs were benched in favor of rookies, so there’s no guarantee that Bradford even makes it through this matchup if he’s struggling, making him an extremely risky play.

As far as receivers go, future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald will mostly avoid Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters who primarily play on the outside, but will instead see Nickell Robey-Coleman who himself was one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league in 2017. Fitzgerald sees enough volume to still have a good chance of producing a WR2 or Flex day in PPR formats, but his upside is likely capped in this matchup. The other wide receivers in the Arizona offense should be on your bench this week as they’ll see some of the toughest coverage in the league and really aren’t all that talented themselves to begin with. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones does have an intriguing matchup against a defense that just got gashed by Jared Cook. The Rams play a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense that should allow them to win this game but it might still benefit the Cardinals’ dink-and-dunk passing game.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The preseason concerns that the Arizona offense wouldn’t be good enough to give David Johnson the ability to be an elite fantasy RB came to fruition in Week 1 as Johnson was held in check against the Redskins. Johnson faces an improved Rams run defense in Week 2 and there’s reason to be concerned, but he could still have a good PPR game, especially if the Cardinals do end up falling behind on the scoreboard. The Raiders were behind on the scoreboard late in the game against the Rams in Week 1 and that led to Jalen Richard catching nine passes for 55 yards. Johnson is a better receiver than Richard and while nine receptions is an outlandishly high number, there’s a good chance that he pulls in five or more passes in this contest. Johnson could get game scripted out of being productive in the running game and that could be a problem all year, but he’s the type of back who can still contribute even if running the ball is out of the question.

Value Meter:
RB1: David Johnson
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald
TE1: Ricky Seals-Jones (low-end)
Bench: Sam Bradford, Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson

Passing Game Thoughts: The Los Angeles offense picked up where it left off in 2017 by producing big numbers in Week 1 against the Raiders. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and the newly acquired Brandin Cooks played almost exactly identical snaps (61). This is great news because we now know that all three players will heavily be involved in the passing game. Cooks was unable to haul in any big passes in his Los Angeles debut but he did draw two deep pass interference penalties, which is a good indication that Jared Goff is going to be willing to look his way deep.

All three receivers have fantasy value this week but they might vulture one another all season which makes them all difficult to trust as anything other than WR2’s or Flex’s in most leagues. One other thing to consider is that the Cardinals insisted that Patrick Peterson would not be in shadow coverage as much this season, but he was in Week 1, and could be again in Week 2, likely against Cooks. The tight ends in this offense are still not much for fantasy value but it’s worth noting that Tyler Higbee played 60 snaps to Gerald Everett’s five, so the job appears to be his without much competition at the moment. That won’t likely translate into many fantasy points, however.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley also picked up right where he left off in 2017 with another huge performance in Week 1. The Cardinals got absolutely destroyed by the Redskins’ running back in Week 1. Adrian Peterson rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown while Chris Thompson added 65 yards on the ground. The duo also combined for eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game. Gurley might be the top play on the entire board this week as the Cardinals will be on the road where they do not play nearly as well and are a -13 point underdog. This could mean a significant positive game script for the Rams and a potentially high usage day for Gurley. John Kelly was inactive while Malcolm Brown played the backup role for Gurley. Neither player has any fantasy value unless Gurley gets hurt.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low-end)
RB1: Todd Gurley (high-end)
WR2: Cooper Kupp
Flex: Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods
Bench: Tyler Higbee, Malcolm Brown

Prediction: Rams 35, Cardinals 20

Lions at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: SF -6.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Detroit Lions offense looked terrible overall in Week 1, but there was still enough targets to go around for Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay to all have decent fantasy days. Don’t look for that to happen very often, but the usage has to be inspiring for those who took a chance on the Detroit receivers. Unfortunately, Matt Stafford’s four interceptions were an ugly indication that the calm, efficient Stafford that we’ve seen in recent seasons might be reverting back to the guy who was much more dangerous with the football early in his career. The San Francisco defense isn’t too intimidating, though, and they were easily handled by Kirk Cousins and the Vikings in Week 1, who threw for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception in Week 1. With the Lions still not having much of a running game established, look for Stafford to pass the ball heavily again this week, which should give him and his receivers plenty of opportunities to produce fantasy-relevant days.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson looked like the best runner and arguably the best receiver out of the backfield for the Lions in Week 1 but this is still in a full blown timeshare. With the game out of hand early in a surprise blowout loss at home to the Jets in Week 1, Johnson played just 16 snaps to LeGarrette Blount's 13. It was pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick who led the team with 41 snaps, but that was mostly due to game script. It’s worth considering that this game could also produce a poor game script game, though, which would likely benefit Riddick and possibly Johnson a bit, if the 49ers are able to get things going on offense. If the game remains close, look for the snaps and touches to be relatively even between these three backs, which makes trusting any of them a risk until we see how things shake out.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (low-end)
WR2: Golden Tate, Marvin Jones (low-end)
Flex: Kenny Golladay
Bench: Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, Luke Willson

Passing Game Thoughts: Jimmy Garoppolo was exposed as being a human by the Vikings defense in Week 1, but don’t be too quick to write him off. The Vikings defense is one of the best in the league and it’d be tough to expect much more than what we got out of an overmatched 49ers offense. The big concern right now is that wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has been limited with hamstring injury which may end up keeping him out of this contest, but it should certainly keep him out of your fantasy lineup. Goodwin has come a long way as a receiver since he first came into the league but he is still primarily a player who makes plays with his speed. An injured hamstring won’t allow Goodwin to run at full speed, thus making him a less-than-optimal fantasy option. Pierre Garcon gets a boost if Goodwin is unable to play as he will likely see more targets come his way, especially playing against this terrible Lions defense that got lit up by rookie Sam Darnold in Week 1. The other player who will likely see more playing time in this contest if Goodwin is unable to play is Dante Pettis who scored in his NFL debut in Week 1 against the Vikings. Pettis is a deep league play only, or a tournament play if you’re looking for a cheap option in daily formats, but he’s someone to keep an eye on. Tight end George Kittle broke out in Week 1 and looks like he might be a solid TE1 going forward this season. If nothing else, he’ll likely be the team’s primary red zone weapon, which is great for fantasy purposes.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Veteran tailback Alfred Morris fumbled at the goal line or he would have had a better fantasy day, but he is still likely in line for a solid workload here in Week 2 against a bad Detroit defense that got run over by the Jets in Week 1. Matt Breida might end up being the player to own in PPR formats, especially in games when the 49ers are behind. He did nearly equal Morris in snaps in Week 1, but that game was a significantly negative game script that plays into his skill set much more than Morris’ who is not much of a pass catcher at all. Breida is a PPR flex option while Morris is more of an RB2 in standard leagues.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB2: Alfred Morris (standard scoring)
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Matt Breida (PPR), Pierre Garcon
Bench: Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor

Prediction: 49ers 30, Lions 24

Patriots @ Jaguars - (Bales)
Line: NE -1.0
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback to ever play, but even he gets a small bump down when playing a defense as good as the Jacksonville Jaguars. In their game last postseason, Brady threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. It’s difficult to use any of the Patriots receivers this week, as they are a team that gameplans away from their opponents’ strengths. Jacksonville has one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL, meaning Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett could see limited volume. Rob Gronkowski will see a boost, though, as tight ends can generally beat Jacksonville. Gronkowski posted a 7/123/1 line on eight targets last week, and he could lead the team in targets in Week 2.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Jeremy Hill (knee) is out for the season, while Rex Burkhead (concussion) and Sony Michel (knee) are both questionable for this week. That means James White will likely be the only fully healthy running back against the Jaguars. He only saw five carries last week, but he also led the team with nine targets. The Patriots love getting mismatches in space, and White will likely be a major part of their offense, especially as a receiver. He also scored a rushing touchdown against Jacksonville in the playoffs last season. Jacksonville allowed 113 yards on 21 carries to the Giants running backs last week with most of the damage done by Saquon Barkley. The Pats aren’t likely to force-feed carries to any one RB although James White should see a volume boost if Burkhead sits.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (low end)
RB2: James White (high end)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski
Bench: Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead

Passing Game Thoughts: Blake Bortles threw the ball 33 times last week, completing 18 of those attempts for 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. New England looked like a tough defense that loves pressuring the quarterback. As we all know, Bortles is a player that has struggled with pressure in the past, making him a risky option on this slate.

Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and Donte Moncrief all split targets last week, seeing four, six, and five, respectively. Bortles has always been a better quarterback when targeting the slot, making Westbrook the best option of the trio but is likely an uncomfortable flex option. Austin Seferian-Jenkins also saw five targets, catching three passes for 25 yards. He did catch a touchdown that was called back on a penalty.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was a major part of the Jacksonville offense before he was injured last week. He totaled 55 yards with three receptions in the first quarter. T.J. Yeldon then totaled 14 carries with seven targets throughout the remainder of the game. New England nearly gave up 100 yards to Lamar Miller last week, and Fournette is a clear focal point of the Jaguars offense when healthy. If he’s out, Yeldon will be the lead back with Corey Grant being a change-of-pace player. Fournette will likely be a gametime decision making it difficult for fantasy owners as this is a late-afternoon contest.

Value Meter:
RB1: Leonard Fournette (if healthy)
TE2: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Flex: Dede Westbrook, T.J. Yeldon (if Fournette sits)
Bench: Blake Bortles

Prediction: Patriots 24, Jaguars 21

Raiders at Broncos - (Caron)
Line: DEN -6.0
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr looked completely out of sync with his wide receivers in his return to NFL action in Week 1. The fifth-year QB was really only effective when the game was close and he was able to throw short to Jalen Richard and Jared Cook. Major concerns continued for Amari Cooper as he and Carr did not look to be on the same page. Cooper is still easily the team’s WR1 but there is worry that it just might not be enough to generate fantasy value on a week-to-week basis. Cooper and Jordy Nelson will see coverage from Chris Harris and Bradley Roby here in Week 2, who anchor what is still one of the better secondaries in the league. The player who has the best matchup in this offense is tight end Jared Cook who exploded for a monster game in Week 1 and faces a Denver defense that itself has struggled to slow down opposing tight ends. A completely uninventive offensive approach coached by Jon Gruden will lead to fewer opportunities for receivers and more potential for the defense to force turnovers and get sacks. The Broncos are one of the best defensive plays in fantasy this week.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Jalen Richard saw quite a bit of work due to game script, but also because Lynch was sick during the game. Don’t overreact - Lynch is still the second option with Richard being the team’s primary passing down back and Doug Martin is a distant third option. The Broncos did a great job of controlling the Seattle running game and will likely have success against a weak Oakland offense. Lynch is still a threat to score from inside the red zone, which he did against the Rams, however, thus making him a viable fantasy option. Lynch was physically ill but still dragged a number of Los Angeles defenders into the end zone for his first score of the season in Week 1.

Value Meter:
RB2: Marshawn Lynch
WR2: Amari Cooper (low end)
TE1: Jared Cook
Bench: Derek Carr, Jalen Richard, Doug Martin, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts

Passing Game Thoughts: New Broncos quarterback Case Keenum was not spectacular but he did his job getting the ball to his top receivers, specifically Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders was one of the better values in drafts and he should continue to see a high target share. It’s tough to know whether Sanders or Demaryius Thomas will have a big game on a week-to-week basis, but the Denver offense consolidates targets primarily to them, so they both typically see enough passes come their way to be reliable WR2s in PPR formats. The Oakland secondary is atrocious and both receivers should be good plays this week. Keenum himself is a great option in 2QB formats and could make for one of the better streaming options at the position this week if you’re someone who likes to play matchups.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Royce Freeman ran for nearly five yards per carry in his debut NFL game, but left fantasy owners a bit disappointed as he failed to get into the end zone or catch any passes. Meanwhile, fellow rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, who seemingly came out of nowhere to steal the Broncos’ second running back job from Devontae Booker, actually mirrored Freeman’s production on the ground with the exact same number of attempts (15) and yards (71), but was also able to haul in two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. Freeman did out-snap Lindsay and is expected to remain the team’s primary first and second down back, but Lindsay is certainly a player to look at on waiver wires as he may have a role all season and would almost certainly fill in as the Broncos’ top tailback if Freeman were to go down with an injury. Both Broncos backs are in play this week against a mediocre Oakland run defense that got run over by Todd Gurley in Week 1 and doesn’t appear to be particularly well-equipped to stop the run anytime soon.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum
RB2: Royce Freeman
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas
Flex: Phillip Lindsay
Bench: Courtland Sutton, Devontae Booker, Jake Butt

Prediction: Broncos 27, Raiders 17

Giants at Cowboys - (Katz)
Line: DAL -3.0
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: In case anyone forgot, Odell Beckham Jr. is back. Despite the toughest matchup imaginable, Beckham excelled against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, rattling off 11 receptions on 15 targets for 111 yards. Beckham is matchup proof and although the Cowboys have an improved secondary, he should have an even easier time this week. Eli Manning threw no touchdowns and one interception, largely just dinking and dunking against the Jaguars, averaging a measly 3.4 air yards per attempt. Even with great weapons, he’s not a trustworthy fantasy option. I will caution fantasy owners to not fret about Evan Engram’s disappointing Week 1. His performance was deceiving. He had an impressive 40-yard grab called back due to penalty and lost yards on a pass interference call that otherwise would’ve been a catch. The Cowboys linebackers are far worse in coverage which should allow Engram to bounce back nicely. As for Sterling Shepard, he will consistently see five to seven targets and provide a solid floor with a limited ceiling.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley did typical Saquon Barkley things last week. He barreled into the opposing defensive front a bunch of times until eventually he broke one. That’s what Barkley has always been. He is not going to give you consistent carries of five or six yards; he’s going to rush for two or three yards and then 30. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run was a masterpiece but if he doesn’t hit on the splash play or punch in a short score, his final line may be a bit disappointing. However, Barkley should see enough volume to rarely fail, especially given his usage in the passing game. He saw six targets last week to go along with his 18 carries and is looking like a lock to touch the ball 325+ times. He will be hard pressed to encounter an opposing foe more difficult than he saw last week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning (mid-range)
RB1: Saquon Barkley (high end)
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr. (high end)
TE1: Evan Engram (high end)
Flex: Sterling Shepard
Bench: Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman

Passing Game Thoughts: I think the Cowboys are in for a very long season. This passing game is a mess. Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett have to be the least creative offensive minds in recent history. Dak Prescott is one of the better quarterbacks in the league and he is being wasted by a weak supporting cast and incompetent coaching staff. When Cole Beasley is your team’s leading pass catcher, you’ve got issues. Beasley was efficient with seven receptions on eight targets for 73 yards. He has PPR value kind of like Theo Riddick has PPR value in that he won’t get you zero. Tavon “12-14 touches a game” Austin didn’t even reach the low end of that “prediction” in snaps, playing just 10. For some reason, it appeared Deonte Thompson was playing ahead of Michael Gallup. Gallup is by far, the most talented WR on the team and the only one I can see having significant fantasy value if he gets the opportunity. Terrance Williams (1-6 on two targets) should be left on the waiver wire and Allen Hurns belongs in the slot ahead of Beasley, but that won’t happen.

Prescott completed 65% of his throws for 170 empty yards and added 19 yards on the ground. Sadly, this is what you are going to see a lot of from Prescott this year – around 200 empty yards and 20-40 rushing yards. That’s good for 10-12 fantasy points, not what you want from your starting QB. Prescott will have a handful of big games, but he can be dropped in single QB leagues.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Credit to Ezekiel Elliott for “David Johnsoning” his way to a solid fantasy outing. Zeke had 86 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown last week. It was uninspiring, but a reminder that even on the worst of days, Elliott is still an RB1. The problem for Elliott is that the aforementioned incompetent coaching staff is doing him no favors. No play is less effective in professional football than the early down run against a stacked box. In 2017, the league average of runs against stacked boxes was 38.7%. Setting aside how staggeringly high that number is (teams should check to pass 99% of the time against a stacked box), the Cowboys put it to shame last week, running the ball against a stacked box a whopping 53.3% of the time. Unsurprisingly, they had a putrid 27% success rate running the ball on first and second down. The Cowboys offensive line did not play well, but can still dominate against weaker opponents and will mask how poor the offensive game plan truly is. For the Cowboys, their insistence on running even when it is extremely disadvantageous to do so is going to cost them games. For Zeke’s fantasy value, volume is king, and he is locked into a ton of it.

Value Meter:
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (high end)
Bench: Dak Prescott, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup

Prediction: Giants 19, Cowboys 16

Seahawks at Bears - (Swanson)
Line: -3.5 CHI
Total: 43.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Russel Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks likely needed the extra day off to heal up for their Monday Night Football matchup against the Bears after the Broncos terrorized Wilson in Week 1 to the tune of six sacks and two interceptions. The Seahawk offensive line struggled to protect Wilson and open rushing lanes for Chris Carson and Rashad Penny, as the Broncos held Seattle to just 362 total yards.

The No.30 ranked offensive line according to will be put to the test once again against a Bears defense that terrorized Aaron Rodgers for most of the game last week. Khalil Mack proved to be well worth his long-term deal a sack, fumble, and an interception for a touchdown in his first game action of 2018. The pass rushing combination of Mack and Leonard Floyd gives defensive coordinator Vic Fangio enough pressure on the quarterback without blitzing, which made Fangio’s 2012 49er defense so difficult for opposing offenses.

To make matters worse for the Seahawks, No.1 WR Doug Baldwin is out with an MCL sprain that will keep him on the sideline for multiple weeks. Veteran and former Bear Brandon Marshall will likely start opposite of Tyler Locket outside. Former Arizona Cardinal Jaron Brown may also see more action in this game due to the Baldwin injury, but his lack of volume makes him too much of a long shot to start.

Tight End Will Dissly was a surprise top performer at his position with three catches for 105 yards and a score. Denver has been historically weak against the tight end over the past two seasons, and Dissly’s big game has the appearance of an offense taking advantage of a weakness in the opposing defense. The Bears were the fourth-toughest team against opposing tight ends in 2017, with only three TE’s reaching double digits against Chicago. The Dissly game was fun to watch, but he may come back down to Earth this week.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game: Chris Carson and first-round draft pick Rashad Penny combined to run for 59 yards on 14 carries, with each back garnering seven carries from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Carson emerged with 51 for the 59 combined yards and earned the praise of his habitual-gum chewing head coach Pete Carroll, with Carroll telling the media earlier this week that Carson is pulling away with the starting job.

Unless the Seahawks start blocking better for Carson, it does not matter who is running the ball behind Russell Wilson, as the Seattle offensive line struggled against the Broncos and will likely struggle once against this week. Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, and Jonathan Bullard held Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery to just 54 yards on 17 carries. Neither running back managed to get much going on the ground and the linebacking corps of Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiakoski did an excellent job in run support.

On the injury front, guard D.J. Fluker is listed as questionable and could miss a second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (Low-End)
RB3: Chris Carson (Low-End)
WR2: Tyler Lockett (Low-End)
WR3: Brandon Marshall (Low-End)
TE3: Will Dissly (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: For most of the first half of Sunday’s Night’s game against the Packers the new Matt Nagy offense of the Bears looked to live up to everyone’s expectations. The dynamic duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen gashed the Packers for big play after big play, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky spread the ball around well to his new collection of receivers, including Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton.

The second half proved to be a different story with no scoring drives for the Chicago offense, and the Bears settled for two Cody Parkey field goals as the Packers and Aaron Rodgers stormed back to victory. It is not uncommon to see a rookie head coach with a young quarterback get conservative with a lead, but it was disappointing to see the Matt Nagy proved to be more like his predecessor John Fox down the stretch than the new regime of play callers like Doug Pederson or Sean McVay.

Look for the Bears to use an uptempo offense this week to keep an old and relatively shallow Seattle defense tired and unable to substitute. Although I anticipate that Chicago will lean on their advantage in the trenches to run the ball early and often against Seattle, play action passes to Burton between the biting linebackers and safety Earl Thomas will be there all day.

On the injury front for Seattle, starting linebacker K.J. Wright is listed as doubtful and will likely miss another game due to a knee injury. Rookie Shaquem Griffin and brother Shaquill Griffin will likely start again on Sunday, while defensive lineman Frank Clark may miss the game with a shoulder injury.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Howard led the Bears with 15 carries for 85 yards and five catches for 25 yards in the loss against the Packers, with backfield mate Tarik Cohen adding five carries for 25 yards and three catches for 16 yards for head coach Matt Nagy. Although Howard did not reach the end zone, the fact that he caught all five passes from Trubiski is very encouraging.

There is very little evidence to suggest that Howard and Cohen will not be successful running the ball against a Seattle defense that allowed the third-most rushing yards week one. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay each ran the ball 15 times for 71 yards against the Seahawks, with Lindsay adding two catches for 31 yards and score in the air. The Bears boast one of the highest rated run blocking lines in the league and Seattle will not be able to stack the box with Robinson, Burton, and Gabriel as passing threats.

Although factor to consider is the success of the Bears defense creating short fields from turnovers and special teams plays. If Chicago can wreak havoc on the Seattle offensive line with Mack and Floyd creating pressure on Wilson, the Howard may get some red zone opportunities to run the ball.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (Low-End)
RB1: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
WR3: Allen Robinson (Low-End)
WR4: Taylor Gabriel (Low-End)
TE1: Trey Burton (Mid-Range)

Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 17