The opening week of football season did not disappoint. We witnessed miraculous comebacks, historical performances — both good and bad — in addition to disappointing starts from new coaches and big wins from old coaches. Heck, we even saw the Cleveland Browns put an end to their losing streak without winning a game!
Hopefully your fantasy team was able to capitalize on all the success while avoiding any pitfalls. Either way, here are three players to start and three to sit in your fantasy football league this week to insure you have a productive head-to-head matchup.
Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins
Smith carved up Arizona’s defense in Week 1, completing 70 percent of his passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, and will face the worst secondary in the league in Week 2, the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts’ best starting cornerback is Quincy Wilson, who allowed three different Cincinnati receivers to catch all four of the balls thrown his way in coverage, including a three-yard touchdown pass to John Ross in the red zone. Wilson also allowed 1.9 yards per snap in coverage last season; only Oakland’s David Amerson was worse (2.2).
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Howard carried the ball 15 times for 82 yards and added an additional five catches for 25 yards during Sunday night’s demoralizing loss to the Green Bay Packers. There were some concerns he would lose ground to Tarik Cohen but Howard not only played 50 snaps to Cohen’s 28 in Week 1 he also ran more routes than Cohen did (23 to 18) in the opening game — key for those playing in a point-per-reception, or PPR, scoring format.
On Monday night, Howard and the Bears will face off against the Seattle Seahawks, the 24th best run-defense unit in the NFL, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus.
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Highly targeted tight ends are precious in fantasy football, so when Kittle is targeted nine times in a game — second only to Jack Doyle and Zach Ertz (10 each) — it’s time to take notice.
The second-year pro had a great day without even making the most of his opportunity, catching five passes for 90 yards. That gave him the third-highest yardage total at the position for the week. Plus, next week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions, was horrible at defending tight ends in coverage last season. The Lions allowed a passer rating of 112.1 to opposing tight ends in 2017, the sixth-worst mark in the NFL, in addition to allowing the highest yards per attempt in the league (8.7) to the position.
The Jets’ tight ends, Neal Sterling and Eric Tomlinson, caught all four targets against the Lions on Monday night.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
A one-legged Rodgers threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday night, turning in a heck of a performance to bring the Packers back from a 20-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. But that was against the Chicago Bears, a good, but not great defense.
Minnesota ranked ninth and sixth, respectively, in pass rushing and secondary defense last season. On Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, three different defensive players sacked Jimmy Garoppolo — defensive ends Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and strong safety Harrison Smith — with another four hits and 19 hurries by the rest of the defense. The Bears managed four sacks, three hits and nine hurries against the Packers.
It’s also worth noting when Rodgers was pressured by the Bears in Week 1 his completion rate dropped from 77 to 38 percent, a decline consistent with his performance over the past three years.
I would understand if you didn’t feel comfortable benching the top quarterback, but if you do decide to go with Rodgers in Week 2 adjust your expectations accordingly.
If Rodgers doesn’t play, you should probably bench all Packers receivers. More pressure could be a disaster for backup quarterback DeShone Kizer. The second-year pro saw his passer rating drop from 73.9 to 32.8 when facing pressure in 2017, illustrating the team would have been better off if Kizer threw each attempt in the dirt (39.6 passer rating) than try to make a play.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders
Two reasons to downgrade Lynch this week:
First, the bruising rusher carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards and a touchdown on Monday night but played fewer total snaps than Jalen Richard, which isn’t ideal.
Second, Oakland’s Week 2 opponent is the Denver Broncos, Pro Football Focus’ second-best rush defense heading into the 2018 season.The Los Angeles Rams were ranked 21st.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green had a huge week for the Cincinnati Bengals and anyone who rostered him in fantasy football: six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. However, he feasted on the league’s worst secondary, according to Pro Football Focus, and now faces the fourth-best secondary on Sunday in the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens probably don’t hold Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to 70 yards passing as they did Buffalo’s quarterback tandem of Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen — who reportedly will get the start Sunday — but there is no doubt the pass coverage will be significantly better in Week 2 than it was in the opening matchup.
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