I’ll hope to bring you guys as much success as we had Week 1. Last week’s cover boy Chris Ivory galloped for two touchdowns. Carson Palmer and John Brown took the lid off New Orleans’ defense. And Stevie Johnson piled up 80-plus yards and a score. My only regret was being completely off Carlos Hyde, who shredded the Vikings for 168 yards and a couple scores. Start/Sit is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely be building my cash lineups around on Sunday. As was the case last week, I’m ignoring the Thursday night game.
Start of the Week: Carson Palmer at Bears: The Cardinals lost Andre Ellington to a knee injury in the opener that is expected to keep him out 1-3 weeks. Not that the offense was built around him to begin with, but this gives Arizona even more reason to put more on Palmer’s plate. The Bears’ front seven didn’t register a single sack or hit on Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. Any time Palmer gets a clean pocket, he’s lethal. The Packers moved the ball with ease against Chicago last week, scoring four touchdowns on seven possessions. And the Bears’ cornerback situation is one of the least-inspiring in the league with Alan Ball starting opposite Kyle Fuller and Sherrick McManis covering the slot while Tracy Porter recovers from a hamstring injury. It’s a group to target.
Sam Bradford vs. Cowboys: Once again, the Eagles are projected to be the highest-scoring team of the week with a projected team total of 30 points. That puts Bradford in play every time, and we’ll likely see him in this space often as long as he’s healthy. He unleashed 52 passes in Week 1 against the Falcons. Expect the Eagles to balance things out more this week after running the ball just 16 times in the opener, but Bradford should still throw the ball 30-plus times. The back end of the Cowboys’ defense remains an on-paper weakness until proven otherwise. Eli Manning didn’t take advantage of it last week, but coach Chip Kelly will know how to dissect it. Brandon Carr and Tyler Patmon are no matches for Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews.
Andy Dalton vs. Chargers: The Bengals are projected to be one of the higher-scoring teams of Week 2 with a 25-point team total, and the spread is marginal at 3.5. I point to this tweet last week from Joe Goodberry, who’s a man to go to for all things Bengals. As you can see, against uncommon opponents, which the Chargers qualify as, Dalton’s numbers are out of this world with a passer rating 34.5 points higher and a completion percentage nearly 13 percentage points better. Dalton also has always been better at home throughout his career. He has one of the best offensive lines, and the Chargers lack a true elite pass rusher off the edge. They also field one of the smallest corner duos.
Eli Manning vs. Falcons: Manning totally busted last week, failing to throw a touchdown, but I’m willing to move past it and go back to the well with the Giants at home. The G-Men have an appetizing team total of 26.75 points, fourth-highest of Week 2, in what projects to be a close game with a 2.5-point spread. Coach Dan Quinn’s defense showed well in the first half against the Eagles last week, but really couldn’t keep up after halftime. They lack a pass rush and won’t have the benefit of the home dome crowd behind them this time. The Giants like to play fast, but weren’t able to in Week 1 with the Cowboys draining the clock right out of the gate. The Falcons received a bottom-10 pass coverage grade and bottom-five pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus in Week 1.
Ryan Fitzpatrick at Colts: The Jets will probably be one of the slowest-paced offenses in the league this season, but they’ll be forced to play up in speed this week against the high-flying Colts. They’re seven-point underdogs, and while I expect the Jets to hang around a bit, Fitzpatrick is likely going to have to throw the ball in the second half. The Colts’ pass defense offered little resistance against Tyrod Taylor in Week 1, allowing him to complete 9-of-11 passes for 147 yards (13.36 YPA) and one touchdown in the first half. The Bills were then able to squat on the ball at home in the second half. Fitzpatrick also gets the familiarity of having faced Indianapolis a number of times the past couple years when he was with the Texans and Titans. The Colts don’t have much of a pass rush, and the Jets’ offensive line is one of the better, more underrated units in the league. This game will also be played in a dome with perfect “weather” and no wind to affect Fitzpatrick’s noodle arm. It’s doubtful many redraft owners will have to dig this deep, but Fitzpatrick makes for a contrarian DFS play.
Matthew Stafford at Vikings: The Vikings didn’t even show up for their Week 1 opener on Monday night in San Francisco, getting steamrolled out of the building by the 49ers. But if they did anything decently well, it was pass coverage. Granted, Colin Kaepernick is one of the least-polished passers in the league, but Minnesota still has a formidable back end with RCB Xavier Rhodes, LCB Terence Newman, and FS Harrison Smith. Stafford was awful against coach Mike Zimmer’s defense in two starts last season, completing 47-of-81 passes (58 percent) for 376 yards (4.64 YPA) and a 2:2 TD:INT ratio. I can’t trust him as a top-12 quarterback in a road matchup with a division rival.
Tom Brady at Bills: I know Brady has dominated the Bills over the course of his career, and even did so last season with a 361-yard, four-touchdown performance in Week 6, but I don’t envision things going as smoothly this time around. Coach Rex Ryan is a master schemer and has the most talent he’s ever had on a defense with a top-notch pass rush, athletic linebackers, and a No. 1 corner in Stephon Gilmore. The Bills won’t show Brady anything he’s never seen before, but the defensive ability is through the roof. Buffalo held Andrew Luck to 4.96 YPA and a 63.6 passer rating in Week 1. If this game was in New England, it’d be a different story. I’m expecting a low-scoring grudge match.
Joe Flacco at Raiders: On paper, this game looks like an opportunity to use Flacco. The Raiders are likely to be without both FS Nate Allen (knee) and SS Charles Woodson (shoulder) and field one of the weakest cornerback units in the league led by first-round bust D.J. Hayden. But Flacco and the Ravens are traveling cross-country into the Black Hole. I like Baltimore’s chances of winning this one as six-point favorites, but it should be a Justin Forsett game, especially in the second half. The Ravens have 36-year-old Steve Smith Sr. leading their pass-catching unit, followed by an underwhelming Kamar Aiken as the No. 2 receiver and inexperienced Crockett Gillmore at tight end.
Marcus Mariota at Browns: Mariota is coming off a historic, four-touchdown debut against the Bucs, but he only attempted 16 passes. Plenty will be on him this week against the Browns, but I’m not a fan of the matchup. The strength of the Cleveland defense is its pass coverage led by Joe Haden. Haden was beat by Brandon Marshall for 5-56-1 last week, but he’s one of the top corners in the league and the Titans don’t have a receiver of Marshall’s caliber. Expect both teams to run the ball as much as they can in this one. The 41.5-point over-under is the third-lowest of Week 2.
Start of the Week: Justin Forsett at Raiders: The Ravens are heavy six-point road favorites, which sets up well for Forsett to get plenty of action. He’s the focal point of OC Marc Trestman’s offense, much like Matt Forte was in Chicago. Forsett tied Steve Smith Sr. for the team lead with seven targets Week 1 against a tough Broncos defense. The Raiders should offer far less resistance this week after allowing two touchdowns to Jeremy Hill, who likely would’ve had a bigger day if he didn’t lose a ton of work to Giovani Bernard late in the Bengals’ blowout win. The two combined for 151 yards on 33 touches. Forsett is the man in the Ravens’ backfield, especially with Lorenzo Taliaferro still battling a knee injury and Buck Allen coming off a horrid preseason. The Raiders allowed the most fantasy points to running backs last season and surrendered the fifth-most in Week 1.
Tevin Coleman at Giants: Coleman out-carried Devonta Freeman 20-10 in Week 1 and out-gained him 80-18 on the ground. The rookie clearly outplayed his backfield mate and should see more snaps in the Atlanta backfield moving forward. Without MLB Jon Beason (knee), the Giants’ run defense is one of the worst in the league. Beason’s replacement, Uani’ Unga, legitimately looked like he had no idea what he was doing Week 1 against the Cowboys. Expect the Falcons to try and control the clock more this week on the road, and for OC Kyle Shanahan, a run-game genius, to give Coleman plenty of opportunities. Coleman should once again threaten 20 touches.
Mark Ingram vs. Bucs: Much like Forsett above, this NFC South tilt sets up wonderfully for Ingram, especially if C.J. Spiller (knee) can’t play. But I won’t downgrade Ingram if Spiller is in the lineup. Ingram is the early-down back and goal-line guy for New Orleans. He also showed improved hands in the passing game during the preseason and Week 1. With the Saints as heavy 10-point favorites, it should mean a ton of second-half work for Ingram. The only concern would be the Saints getting too big of a lead and giving a bunch of reps to Khiry Robinson. New Orleans hinted all offseason that it wanted to become more run-oriented to help hide a suspect defense and take some work off Drew Brees’ plate with a somewhat-depleted receiving corps. The Bucs were gashed for 135 total yards and two touchdowns by Bishop Sankey and the rest of the Titans’ running backs last week.
DeAngelo Williams vs. 49ers: Admittedly, I hated the Williams signing for the Steelers. He looked completely done for the Panthers the past couple years. It was tough to see his 127-yard Week 1 against the Patriots coming, and with the Steelers as heavy six-point favorites and still without Le’Veon Bell (suspension), this sets up as another game for Williams to get 20-plus carries. The 49ers bottled up Adrian Peterson on Monday night, but the Minnesota offensive line is missing its two best blockers in C John Sullivan and RT Phil Loadholt. The 49ers now head out on the road to the east coast, and the Steelers, despite losing C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), have a solid offensive line. Williams should handle all the backfield duties, though FB Will Johnson could steal goal-line work again. Still, Williams should get enough work to put him on the RB2 map.
Lamar Miller at Jaguars: Miller fell victim to a weird Week 1 for the Dolphins. They went ultra-pass heavy in the first half and ran far fewer plays than the Redskins despite getting the win. Week 2 sets up a lot better for Miller to get more work. The Dolphins are six-point favorites on the road against a Jacksonville defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs last season. That was mainly because running backs were able to rack up so many opportunities with their team leading the Jaguars. And that projects to be the case Sunday. Coach Joe Philbin hinted at a bigger role for Miller in the offseason, and Week 2 is a perfect time to get him going in OC Bill Lazor’s fast-paced offense.
Doug Martin at Saints: Martin was a victim of game flow in the opening loss to the Titans. He averaged nearly five yards per carry, but received just 11 totes because the Bucs were getting blown out of their own building. Expect much of the same Sunday. The Bucs are 10-point underdogs, which could leave Martin on the sidelines for much of the second half in favor of Charles Sims. Martin looked great in the preseason and on limited touches in Week 1, but there may not be many games where the Bucs will be able to work him for 20-plus carries. The Saints aren’t scary on defense, so if this game stays close somehow, Martin could pay off, but I’m going to trust Vegas with this one.
Melvin Gordon at Bengals: Gordon received 10 first-half touches in Week 1, but lost a third-quarter fumble and was benched for much of the second half. He received just three carries following the gaffe. On top of that, Gordon received zero red-zone touches, while Danny Woodhead got six carries and two catches inside the 20-yard line. Woodhead pounded in a one-yard touchdown at the goal-line and also scored on a nine-yard draw play. The Bengals were really poor against the run last season and remain without stud WLB Vontaze Burfict (knee), but DT Geno Atkins is back to full strength one year removed from a torn ACL. They performed pretty well against the Raiders’ run game in Week 1.
Alfred Morris vs. Rams: I was wrong on Morris last week against the Dolphins; he consistently picked up four- and five-yard gains as the Redskins’ offensive line did well handling Ndamukong Suh. Don’t expect the same this week against the Rams’ loaded front-seven anchored by DT Aaron Donald. The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year isn’t yet mentioned in Suh’s class, but he’s just about, or already, there. And the talent surrounding him is better in St. Louis. Morris faced the Rams at home last season and managed all of six yards on eight carries. Expect much of the same this year.
Latavius Murray vs. Ravens: Murray had a decent Week 1, averaging 4.0 YPC and catching all seven of his pass-game targets for 36 yards, but he didn’t get enough work with the Raiders getting crushed by the Bengals. Another AFC North team comes to Oakland this week, and the Ravens have arguably the top run defense in the league, even without DT Haloti Ngata. They bottled up C.J. Anderson with ease in Week 1, limiting him to 29 scoreless yards on 12 carries. Murray has gobs of talent, but plays on a weak offensive team that will likely be trailing on the scoreboard for much of the season.
Start of the Week: Brandin Cooks vs. Bucs: Cooks drew a tough matchup with Cardinals CBs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu last week and ended up reeling in just 4-of-8 targets for 49 scoreless yards. The good news is he led all Saints receivers in targets and played 73-of-74 snaps. With Marques Colston playing the slot, Cooks will probably run a good amount of his routes against Bucs LCB Alterraun Verner. Verner received Pro Football Focus’ fifth-worst coverage grade among 97 cornerbacks in Week 1. The Saints are projected to be the second-highest scoring team of Week 2 with a team total of 28.5 points. Look for Cooks to be involved plenty and burn up the Superdome turf.
Eric Decker at Colts: Decker was targeted just three times in the opener and managed a 2-37-1 receiving line. But the Jets were ahead most of the afternoon and able to feed Chris Ivory in the run game. With the Jets as seven-point underdogs in Week 2, Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to have to unload more passes. With Brandon Marshall likely to see plenty of shutdown CB Vontae Davis, it’ll likely mean more targets for Decker. Decker ran over 80 percent of his routes out of the slot in Week 1. With Colts LCB Greg Toler (neck) back at practice this week, Darius Butler will likely cover the slot for Indianapolis. Butler received poor marks in coverage last season from Pro Football Focus and gave up a 6-119-1 line last week, including a 51-yard score to Percy Harvin.
Nelson Agholor vs. Cowboys: Agholor had a Week 1 to forget, as he managed just one catch for five yards on two targets while running most of his routes against Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant. But there were positives to be taken from the game. Agholor played 59-of-74 snaps, which was second-most among Eagles receivers behind Jordan Matthews. This week, Agholor draws a much easier home matchup with burnable Cowboys CB Brandon Carr. Agholor flashed big-play ability in the preseason, especially with his YAC skills, and hopefully Sam Bradford will take a couple more shots downfield in this one after dumping too many balls off to Ryan Mathews and Riley Cooper in Week 1.
Charles Johnson vs. Lions: Teddy Bridgewater completely face-planted in the Vikings’ opener at San Francisco, and Johnson received just three targets behind Mike Wallace’s six. The Vikings probably won’t be able to support more than two options in the pass game this season, but Johnson was routinely talked up by OC Norv Turner as the team’s best receiver in the offseason. He and Bridgewater also showed a good rapport last season. Lions top CB Darius Slay had to leave Week 1 early with an ankle injury and was unable to make it all the way through Wednesday’s practice. That could leave the Lions’ starting corners as Rashean Mathis, Josh Wilson, and rookie Quandre Diggs. Mathis allowed a 9-85 receiving line on 11 passes thrown his way in the opener. Wilson is a run-of-the-mill veteran who has bounced around the league the past few years.
Pierre Garcon vs. Rams: DeSean Jackson is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a hamstring injury, leaving Garcon as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver. If the Rams have any weakness on defense, it’s their defensive backfield. With St. Louis expected to hold Alfred Morris at bay in the run game, Kirk Cousins is likely going to have to dial up some passes. Garcon will probably draw Janoris Jenkins in coverage. Jenkins was highly suspect last season and gave up a ton of big plays. Jordan Reed, the Redskins’ likely No. 2 target without Jackson, has a tough matchup with WLB Alec Ogletree and SS T.J. McDonald, which could mean the Redskins will lean even more on Garcon. He’s a candidate for double-digit targets on Sunday in a game the Redskins are projected to lose.
Davante Adams vs. Seahawks: It’s probably not the best idea to sit Packers receivers, but Adams could draw the worst matchup of the night on Sunday against Richard Sherman. Adams ran most of his routes from the right side of the formation in Week 1, with Randall Cobb in the slot and James Jones off to the left. Sherman has been a stationary left corner, covering right-side receivers, for much of his career. He moved around more in Week 1 against the Rams, covering the slot at times. If that’s the case Sunday night, Adams could have a better go of it against Deshawn Shead, but he’d still likely see a lot of Sherman. Last year, the Packers completely avoided throwing at Sherman.
Roddy White at Giants: White looked healthy and refreshed Week 1 against the Eagles on his way to a 4-84 line. But this offense goes through Julio Jones in the air. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could shadow Jones, leaving White to work against Prince Amukamara. Both were top-30 cover corners at Pro Football Focus last season and the strength of the Giants’ defense, so whoever lines up across from White will have the edge. Matt Ryan is also historically worse on the road outside of the Georgia Dome. Expect the Falcons to rely on their run game more Sunday and feed Jones the targets.
Golden Tate at Vikings: Tate (quad) missed Wednesday’s practice and is expected to be a game-time decision, so he may not even play Sunday. But if he does, I still don’t like this matchup for him. With Calvin Johnson in the lineup, Tate doesn’t see nearly as many targets, even though he saw eight to Megatron’s four in Week 1. Expect that to change this week. The Vikings have a strong pass defense. Tate will likely run most of his routes against slot CB Captain Munnerlyn, who held Tate to a 6-39-0 receiving line on nine targets across two games last season.
Kendall Wright at Browns: Wright played fewer snaps than both Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter in Week 1 against the Bucs. Marcus Mariota only threw the ball 16 times, and Wright happened to turn one of his targets into a 51-yard touchdown. The Bucs are extremely poor on the back end, but the Browns are strong in coverage. Wright will likely draw Joe Haden and/or K’Waun Williams in coverage Sunday in a game that will probably be run-heavy. It’s hard to get behind any pass catchers in Tennessee with Titans-Browns expected to be one of the lowest-scoring games of the week. Give Wright a bump up in PPR, but it’d be nice to see him play as the No. 1, not No. 3, receiver.
Start of the Week: Zach Ertz vs. Cowboys: Ertz played 52-of-74 (70 percent) snaps in Week 1. He only played at least 70 percent of the snaps three times last season. Blocking specialist TE Brent Celek was only in on 27 snaps last Monday night. Coach Chip Kelly has hinted at wanting to use more “11 personnel” this season with only one running back, one tight end, and three receivers on the field. If Week 1 was any indication, Ertz may be in for a much-deserved expanded role in 2015. Sam Bradford targeted Ertz eight times, but the two didn’t have great chemistry. Ertz had to make a fully-stretched out 21-yard catch over the middle, and Bradford missed his tight end on what would have been an 11-yard touchdown. With the two able to get some practice reps together this week, the rapport should be better Week 2. The Cowboys allowed the most catches, second-most yards, and seventh-most touchdowns to tight ends last season, finishing 31st defending the position. Jordan Matthews and Ertz should gobble up targets Sunday, with Nelson Agholor stretching the field.
Dwayne Allen vs. Jets: Allen is totally dependent on touchdowns for his fantasy success. He scored last week against the Bills and gets a very favorable matchup Monday night against the Jets. Coach Todd Bowles’ defenses in Arizona were sieves against tight ends, and the Jets are coming off a 2014 where they allowed the most touchdowns (14) to tight ends. Allen is a good bet to find the end zone, even if he isn’t going to catch more than maybe four passes for 40 yards.
Martellus Bennett vs. Cardinals: I’m going to keep hammering on these bad tight-end defenses. Arizona, as mentioned above, has been one of the worst teams at defending the opposing tight end the past couple seasons. The Cardinals allowed the most yards (1,085) and eight touchdowns to tight ends in 2014. Having a fully healthy Tyrann Mathieu should help, but he’ll likely be assigned to Bears slot WR Eddie Royal on Sunday. Bennett is the No. 2 or 3 option in Chicago and is one of the better bets to score Week 2. Cardinals-Bears has an offense-friendly 45.5-point over-under.
Jared Cook at Redskins: Cook led all Rams pass catchers in targets last week and looks like he could be the No. 1 option for Nick Foles. He’s a seam-stretching tight end with plus speed for his position. Redskins FS Dashon Goldson was absolutely horrible in coverage last season, and the Redskins will be without top CB Chris Culliver, who was suspended for Week 2. Washington hemorrhaged fantasy points to tight ends last season, surrendering 11 touchdowns and 934 yards to them. Cook caught four passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins in Week 14 last season. He only scored three touchdowns all season.
Jordan Reed vs. Rams: The Rams have been one of the stingiest defenses against tight ends under coach Jeff Fisher. The allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2014 and second-fewest the previous season. Jimmy Graham snuck loose for 51 yards and one touchdown in Week 1, but he was having a really tough time finding open space for much of the first half. The Rams are so fast on defense, and WLB Alec Ogletree and SS T.J. McDonald took major steps forward in their respective developments over the course of last season. Reed is unlikely to find much room to work Sunday.
Jason Witten at Eagles: Witten will probably have to take on a bigger role in the pass game with Dez Bryan (foot) on the shelf, but this is a week to avoid him. The Eagles allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends last season and got even more athletic over the middle with the addition of ILB Kiko Alonso, who made a leaping one-handed interception down the seam against the Falcons in Week 1. Fellow ILB Mychal Kendricks is also no slouch. Witten was held to just eight catches for 77 scoreless yards in two matchups with the Eagles last season.
Delanie Walker at Browns: Walker is battling a sprained ligament in his wrist and will be at less than 100 percent if he plays Sunday. With ILB Karlos Dansby healthy after missing a good chunk of last season with a sprained MCL and FS Tashaun Gipson ballhawking over the middle, the Browns are another stingy defense against tight ends. There are better streaming options at tight end Week 2.