Wed Sep 16 9:24am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Crowder setup for more success
We have one week in the books. It was an interesting first week of the season, having a little bit of everything. There were some big games. Some fantasy stars disappointed. And we had some unfortunate injuries to key players. So it was just a normal week in the NFL for the most part. The best news was there was football, though. That is my big takeaway. Let’s hope we can keep it going. I know I’m looking forward to Week 2.
Now for my random thoughts. . . . ..
If you are a Michael Thomas owner, that is a huge loss to overcome. But don’t fret. You can get through this. Just try to tread water until he is back in the lineup. The receiver position is deep this year, so hopefully you have options available to help. It is not all doom and gloom for Thomas owners. It is very early and he might not miss much time. Throwing in the towel because of the injury won’t help matters.
Saquon Barkley might be the most talented back in the game, but if he doesn’t get any help for him offensive line, it could be another long season for him. The Giants were a mess blocking for him last week. I know it was an unfavorable matchup for him but the showing wast still a concern for me. That line looked awful. Hopefully, they can get it going for all those Barkley owners out there. We’ll see. . . . .
There are lots of waiver wire running back options this week but my favorite is Nyheim Hines. I just think he has a ton of upside as the top pass-catching back on this roster. Just think of Austin Ekeler the last few years with the Chargers. This is what Hines is capable of with Philip Rivers as his starting quarterback. I expect him to get five-plus receptions every game this year. He is not going to be a touchdown dependent player. He is going to get his weekly targets. Running backs for the Colts last week caught 17 passes!
So if the Jaguars were tanking their season to get Trevor Lawrence, they might want to think again about that first pick. Gardner Minshew continues to impress me. He has the “it” factor and just makes plays. I think he is an above-average NFL starter. I also think he is worth some spot starts for fantasy teams. The Jaguars are going to have some trouble running the ball this year, so don’t be surprised if Minshew posts some big passing numbers along the way.
I don’t think Tom Brady is done after one week of action. Sure, it was a disappointing first game. He was on the road against one of the best teams in all of football, though. And he hasn’t had the normal offseason, getting acquainted with his offense and teammates. I think he will get going. This stuff can take some time. It was just a game. I still have faith in Brady with all the offensive weapons that surround him.
I would not be surprised as all if Davante Adams leads all fantasy receivers in scoring. He was targeted 17 times in the opener and Aaron Rodgers seems on a mission to prove all his doubters wrong. This bodes well for Adams to have a career-best season. He is going to get a weekly workout as the clear top receiver in this offense
I know JuJu Smith-Schuster scored two touchdowns and was the most productive fantasy receiver for the Steelers, but I was more impressed with Diontae Johnson. Johnson led the team in targets with 10, having four more than Smith-Schuster. It is clear that Ben Roethlisberger likes to look for Johnson. He is going to have a breakout year in an offense that looks to be pretty potent.
I could not be more excited about the prospects of the Cardinals offense. Arizona put up some points and yards against a top 49ers defense in the opener. Kyler Murray was on point and looked like a player that has taken a step forward in year two. And DeAndre Hopkins didn’t seem to miss a beat with his new team. This offense has a ton of weapons with one of the top young quarterbacks in the game at the helm. The Cardinals offense has the makings of being pretty special this year.
I’m really intrigued by Cam Newton after his Week 1 performance. Sure, the Patriots don’t have much at the receiver spot, but that hasn’t stopped Newton in the past from producing big for fantasy teams. If he can run the ball like he did the first week of the year and sprinkle in a few passing touchdowns, he really has a chance to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Remember, he has two seasons with double-digit rushing touchdowns. Newton can be a difference maker when he is making consistent plays on the ground, which is likely how the Patriots will utilize him this year. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy.
Don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 2 rankings.
News and Notes: The Jets signed running back Kalen Ballage on Tuesday. New York is looking to add depth at running back because of the injury to LeVeon Bell. . . . .The Patriots signed kicker Nick Folk to the 53-man roster Tuesday. He should take over the starting kicking duties for the team. . . . .San Francisco signed receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday. He gives the team some much needed depth at the position and could play a role in a hurry with his new team.
Allen Robinson, WR, Bears. Robinson had a decent first game of the season, catching five passes for 74 yards on nine targets. He got a lot of looks once again, which should be a trend all season. Robinson gets a great matchup in Week 2 against a Giants defense that seems to have a lot of holes once again. New York allowed the third most fantasy points to receivers in Week 1. Robinson can hit the 100-yard mark in this one.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Brees might be without Michael Thomas this week and his opener was just alright, but don’t bet against him to post big numbers in Week 2. He plays the Raiders, a team that allowed Teddy Bridgewater to throw for 260 yards against them last week. Brees can have a much better showing this week even if Thomas doesn’t play. The Saints have enough weapons in the passing game to do some damage to the Raiders secondary.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs. Jones got most of the work for the Bucs in Week 1, rushing 17 times for 66 yards. He also caught two passes for 16 yards, giving him 82 total yards. This came against a very good Saints defense, though. Jones actually ran well, considering how much room to run was out there for him. He is the lead back right now for the Bucs, getting 19 touches compared to six for Leonard Fournette. If he gets that much work again this week against the Panthers, look for big things from Jones. Carolina was torched by Josh Jacobs last week.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Jets. Crowder was the top target for the Jets last week and that should be the case much of the year. He had seven receptions for 115 yards on 13 targets. The 49ers have a good defense but don’t let that scare you off from using Crowder. The Jets could get down in this game, being forced to throw more. Plus, DeAndre Hopkins had double-digit receptions against the 49ers last week, so it is possible for Crowder to produce big even in a close game.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns. Chubb had a ho hum first week, rushing 10 times for 60 yards. He also caught a pass for six yards. It was a decent showing against a very good Ravens defense. Things get much easier for him this week against the Bengals. Chubb had a 100-yard showing against the Bengals last year. Cincinnati allowed 155-rushing yards in their opener.
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. It is hard to trust the Eagles offense right now, mainly because of all their injuries along the offensive line. Wentz was running for his life last week and that should be the case again this week against the Rams, a team that has Aaron Donald along their defensive line. The Rams also did a good job of holding an explosive Cowboys offense in check, allowing the 12th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Until the Eagles get healthier, you might want to leave Wentz on your bench.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. Gordon had a pretty good start to his Broncos career, rushing 15 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for eight yards, giving him 86 total yards on 18 touches. Those numbers aren’t eye popping, though. He was held in check much of the night until late in the game. That could be the case again this week for Gordon against the Steelers. Pittsburgh absolutely dominated the Giants rushing attack, holding Saquon Barkley to just six yards on 15 carries. Gordon might have a hard time repeating his production from last week.
Robby Anderson, WR, Panthers. Anderson had a fantastic first game with the Panthers, catching six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. He got most of his production on his 75-yard touchdown reception, being held 40 yards on his other five catches. Anderson is going to be worth starting along the way this year because he is a big-play threat. But he is likely going to disappear some weeks, especially in an offense that probably won’t force many big plays down the field. Anderson has a tough matchup this week against the Bucs, a team with a solid secondary. Tampa allowed the second fewest fantasy points to receivers last week.
Frank Gore, RB, Jets. Gore might be starting but that doesn’t mean he belongs in fantasy lineups. He ran six times for just 24 yards last week and didn’t catch a pass. He might get some carries and the goal-line work for the Jets, but he is going to be a touchdown dependent player at this stage of his career. And we don’t see him finding the end zone against the 49ers. There are better options out there than Gore.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Chargers. Taylor had a disappointing first start for the Chargers. He had a great matchup against the Bengals but was only able to manage just more than 11 fantasy points. He failed to score a touchdown and ran for just seven yards. This game was a prime matchup for Taylor and he did next to nothing. He is not a player to put in fantasy lineups until he starts showing something on the field. He gets the defending Super Bowl champs this week, so go with other options.
Philip Rivers, QB, Colts. Rivers had a 300-yard showing his first game with the Colts, throwing for 363 yard and a touchdown against the Jaguars. This was a favorable matchup and Rivers took advantage with a 20-plus fantasy point showing. Rivers will be worth using on a spot start basis for fantasy teams. And this week is another good matchup for Rivers, playing the Vikings. Minnesota had a lot of turnover at cornerback this offseason and it showed last week, getting torched by the Packers. The Vikings allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks in Week 1.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Redskins. Peyton Barber might have gotten more carries last week, but he didn’t do much with those chances. His fantasy day was aided by two scores. Gibson was the better back of the two and should continue to get double-digit touches in this offense. He has a chance to really build on last week, playing the Cardinals this week. Arizona allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs in the opener. Look for Gibson to break off a few big plays in this one.
Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals. Burrow had a pretty good debut against a good Chargers defense. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 193 yards and ran for 46 yards and a touchdown. He produced just fewer than 20 fantasy points without throwing a touchdown pass. Things will get better for the rookie, especially in better matchups. And this week against the Browns is a good matchup for Burrow. The Browns look to have some defensive issues once again this season. Cleveland allowed the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last week, making Burrow a good spot play in this one.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers. Johnson led the Steelers in targets in Week 1, getting targeted 10 times in the game. He caught six passes for 57 yards, producing solid numbers. It was a good start to the season for Johnson, who seems setup for a breakout year with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. Denver was middle of the road against the pass last week against the Titans, so look for the Steelers to have some success throwing the ball. It would not surprise to see Johnson build on his opener.
Zack Moss, RB, Bills. The good news for Moss in the opener was he found the end zone and had 12 touches in the game. The bad news is he managed just 27 total yards with all his work. But either way, Moss is going to be a big part of this offense, especially with Devin Singletary giving Moss every opportunity to take the starting job away from him. The Bills should have a lot more success running the ball this week against the Dolphins, a team that allowed 217-rushing yards in Week 1. Moss is worth using as a flex play in Week 2.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Bengals/Browns, Falcons/Cowboys, Panthers/Bucs, Chiefs/Chargers, Ravens/Texans, Saints/Raiders.
Low Scoring Games: Vikings/Colts, Broncos/Steelers.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.