There were 764 points scored in Week 1, then 740 in Week 2, about a half-point difference between all games. Ryan Fitzpatrick was the best quarterback in the world in Week 1, then did it again in Week 2. (And yes, that’s hyperbole, but … not by as much as you might think.) Michael Thomas caught all but one of his double-digit targets in Week 1 (16 of 17), then did it again in Week 2 (12 of 13).
There’s a flip side, though. Eleven defense/special teams units had a touchdown in Week 1, but only two did in Week 2 (the Bears did it both weeks). Amari Cooper looked as if he would repeat his 2017 bust season in Week 1, then caught 10-of-10 targets for 116 yards in Week 2. The Ravens had a world-beating defense in Week 1, then gave up four first-half touchdowns.
The moral? It’s still early. We know some things. We don’t know others. If you believed in a player two weeks ago, you should probably believe in them now … unless you shouldn’t. I’ll attempt to figure some of that out below.
This is my weekly look at the best and worst fantasy situations in the week to come. Powered by our data and analysis at Pro Football Focus, I look at players that might surprise you in a given week. And it all starts with my Mismatch of the Week, the single player I expect to have in the most of my DFS lineups based on the quality of the situation.
Mismatch of the week
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
For all intents and purposes, the Bears have two running backs on their roster — Howard and Tarik Cohen (they are the only two with carries). Cohen has nine carries through two games; Howard has 29. Of Cohen’s nine carries, only three came in the second halves, in games the Bears were leading and just trying to put away (that they failed in that effort once doesn’t really matter). The Bears use Cohen some early when they are trying to get a lead but use Howard when they want to end the game. And against the woeful Cardinals in Week 3, the Bears might be trying to put the game away for some 45 minutes of game time. Howard has topped 30 carries in a game twice in his career. This week should be the third.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Through two weeks, Garoppolo is only 25th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks, with 29 fantasy points — a total that six different QBs topped in Week 2 alone. In eight games now for San Francisco, he has 2,027 passing yards, 10 TDs and 8 INTs. His 16-game pace as a 49er would have had him as the No. 32 fantasy quarterback last year, just ahead of played-seven-games Carson Palmer. He’s only our 19th-graded quarterback, and his top receiver, Marquise Goodwin, is no lock to play in Week 3. That’s all the bad news. The good news? The 49ers play the Chiefs, who have our worst team-wide defense grade and our worst pass-coverage grade. The only part of the defense where the Chiefs have graded well is against the run. Garoppolo should feast.
Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have had a rough start to the season, even at 1-1. Carson Wentz is due back this week, but Alshon Jeffery hasn’t played, Mack Hollins hasn’t played and won’t, Mike Wallace might be hitting injured reserve, Darren Sproles missed Week 2, and news came down Tuesday that Jay Ajayi is likely to miss Week 3. Wentz’s return is a good sign, but it seems doubtful the team will give him a massive workload right away, especially considering the paucity of healthy receivers on the roster, and with Ajayi out, that bodes well for Clement to see a big workload.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
Receivers not named A.J. Green have totaled 156 yards and one touchdown through two games against the Ravens. The team has our No. 5 pass-coverage grade. But while they are good on the outside, the Ravens struggle from the slot, where Tavon Young has done the lion’s share of work and allowed a passer rating of 149.5 and two touchdowns on eight targets into his slot coverage. Sanders has run more than twice as many slot routes so far as Demaryius Thomas.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You always want to be careful chasing big plays — a full half of Howard’s yards this season (75 of 150) came on a single long touchdown Sunday. So it’s fair to be hesitant about buying in on Howard as a top tight end. That said, there’s still the thinking out there that the Buccaneers have a timeshare at tight end with Howard and Cameron Brate. Last year, the two played basically the same number of snaps (Brate 582, Howard 608) and Brate dominated the target load (73 to Howard’s 36), but this year, Howard has well out-snapped (88-38) and out-targeted (6-1) Brate. This isn’t a timeshare anymore.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are good. Like, really good. Like, maybe-should-be-Super-Bowl-favorites good. And despite all that, the team has a quarterback it hides more often than not. Goff is our 18th-graded quarterback (68.7) and 19th in fantasy scoring. He’s not going to lose anything for the Rams, but he pretty clearly isn’t the one they want to win things either, even with a 1-2-3 punch at receiver in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp that is among the league’s best. Now, against a Chargers team that has an elite secondary, the receiving trio might struggle and the team might lean on the run.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington
Fourteenth in the league in rushing yards. Tenth in the league in non-PPR fantasy points. Tell a Washington fan that about Peterson two weeks ago, and you probably get a hug. But all is not rosy for the veteran. He has the No. 48 overall RB grade (out of 59 qualifying). He has 3.1 yards per carry (48th) and 2.5 yards after contact per attempt (38th). In Week 2, he managed all of 20 rushing yards on 11 attempts. That won’t be tenable for long. Against Green Bay in Week 3, the team will be looking to pass more. Chris Thompson up, Peterson down.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
Sometimes I cheat a little. Sometimes I include someone in the bad situations because I really want to talk about them in a good way. This is one of those times. Davis is 12th in the league in targets, a number that ties him with four others for 12th-most and doesn’t accurately represent his per-game share going forward, since Delanie Walker was active for one of those games. It hasn’t turned into production yet, but with a load that large and not a lot of competition, it will. It just might not happen this week, as Davis and the Titans face Jacksonville. Don’t drop Davis if you have him, trade for him if he’s on the market, but maybe let him ride the pine this week.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
The math on Eifert appeared pretty clear before the season — he was a high-risk/high-reward option who would score touchdowns and produce for fantasy when healthy, but there were no guarantees he’d be healthy for any length of time. But through two weeks, the Bengals have babied Eifert in an effort to keep him healthy, and the end result is that he’s actually behind teammate C.J. Uzomah in snaps (73-72, with Tyler Kroft playing 52) and only has 7 targets, tied with the aforementioned Walker, who has only played one game. Eifert might regain his touchdown prowess as the season wears on, but for the time being he doesn’t even need to be rostered, let along started.
Daniel Kelley is the fantasy editor for Pro Football Focus.
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