(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to set your lineup or pick your DFS roster.)
I’ll be continuing our Fantasy 5 articles each weekend prior to Sunday’s slate, but I wanted to put my own little twist on it heading into the 2017 season. I want to not only focus on the biggest headlines from around the league, but also some of the storylines that have piqued my interest and are worth diving into a bit. While we don’t think about it as such at first glance, the NFL is one of the biggest dramatic events we witness each week, with big plays and big scores influencing both our fantasy teams and our excitement for the game. We also have the underlying stories that make up the backbone of the league as an interesting topic to dive into briefly here in this weekly segment. Let’s get started.
1. Indianapolis turns to QB Jacoby Brissett as starter
The Scott Tolzien tryout lasted about as long as anyone could expect. His very first pass of the season was taken back for a pick-six by Trumaine Johnson and it didn’t get much better from there. The Colts and Patriots made an intriguing trade prior to the season, sending former first-round pick WR Phillip Dorsett for the Patriots’ Brissett. Brissett looked phenomenal during the preseason and held his own starting couple games for New England last year during Tom Brady’s suspension. Brissett has a big arm and some mobility and has been named the starter heading into Week 2. He has a tough task against the Arizona Cardinals and remains off the fantasy radar. However, it will be intriguing to see if Brissett can revive the fantasy potential of his surrounding weapons moving forward.
2. Is Sam Bradford the real deal?
Bradford set an NFL record last season. completing 71.6 percent of his passes. He kept it going in Week 1 against a hapless Saints secondary, completing 84.6 percent of his dropbacks for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns. While his status for Week 2 is still questionable (knee), it looks like he’s on the precipice of finally breaking out thanks to some continuity. He finally has the same coaching staff for two years in a row. Bradford’s backed by a strong supporting cast of weapons at every position. He has arguably a top-five defense that should keep the Vikings close in games and avoid negative game script. Last year, Bradford showed us that he excels under pressure (only Aaron Rodgers had a higher passer rating than Bradford’s 87.7), can hit the deep ball with accuracy (led the league with 57.4 percent), and can get rid of the ball quickly under duress (top-10 in average time to throw). The Steelers’ strong defense will be a great test for him Sunday to see if he can continue to emerge as one of this year’s best fantasy late round quarterback options.
3. What’s the deal with Odell Beckham Jr.?
The news for Beckham has been all over the map. We’ve heard that he could be out 6 to 8 weeks and we’ve also heard that he is trending toward likely playing Monday. What we do know with certainty is that Beckham was limited in practice this week. He hasn’t participated in a full practice since his injury sustained in the preseason. Eli Manning was quoted as saying, “The guy hadn’t practiced in three weeks. I never thought it was a reality of him playing (in Dallas).” Manning went on to mention that even if Beckham were to play, he’d be limited in the number of things they could do on offense with him.
If Beckham were to lace up Monday night (no sure thing as of the time of this writing), he’ll be covered by Detroit’s Darius Slay. Slay was our No. 13-graded cornerback last year, allowing just a 53 percent catch rate on targets thrown in his direction. Given the uncertainty surrounding Beckham, the tough one-on-one matchup, and the timing of the game (MNF), it may be safer to look elsewhere and play another wideout in your fantasy lineups on Sunday.
4. Shootouts galore in Week 2?
Get your popcorn ready for Week 2, because we’re in line for what could be a ton of touchdowns this Sunday. The current line for the Patriots/Saints game is 57 points. We’ve only seen three games with a higher closing total over the past three years. Playing on what’s been affectionally dubbed the “Coors Field of DFS,” we should see a ton of points put up by both Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
The Falcons will be debuting their brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in another projected high-scoring game with the Packers (56.5 game total). This will be a rematch of the NFC Championship game last year in which the Falcons won 44-21. Players at nearly every position in this matchup should be considered startable in fantasy leagues this week.
5. Injury roundup
- John Brown (quad) has been officially ruled out against the Colts. It elevates Larry Fitzgerald the most as one of the few dependable receiving options for Carson Palmer to rely on. He should be in line for massive volume in a plus-matchup and started everywhere in season-long leagues. J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown also move into the spotlight. Nelson saw six targets last week, putting together a 5-43-1 stat line. Brown had two big plays called back by penalty last week. The Colts’ secondary should be beatable by all three of these guys with Vontae Davis expected to miss another game (groin).
- The Patriots have ruled out Danny Amendola already due to concussion. Amendola caught 6-of-7 targets last week for 100 yards. His absence raises the ceilings of Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, and Rob Gronkowski in what should be a shootout with New Orleans. Phillip Dorsett took over for Amendola after his injury in Week 1, but was mostly used just as a decoy, seeing one target. There’s been chatter that Rex Burkhead and James White could see some snaps at slot, and it shouldn’t surprise any of us if Bill Belichick creates some unconventional packages to find ways to score in this shootout.
- Jason Verrett has been ruled out of the Chargers/Dolphins game. That could mean a big game for Miami’s slot and secondary receivers, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. Breakout phenom DeVante Parker is expected to draw shadow coverage by our No. 7-ranked cornerback from last year, Casey Hayward. Verrett’s absence should provide an easier path for Jay Cutler to pepper Landry and Stills with additional targets. The Chargers are currently 3.5-point home favorites in a game that will likely force the Dolphins to pass.
- The 49ers’ first round pick Reuben Foster (ankle) is expected to miss this week’s matchup against the Seahawks. It’s a good time for Thomas Rawls (ankle) to see his name removed from the injury report. The Seahawks running game lacked much vigor with Eddie Lacy at the helm, but preseason superstar Chris Carson was able to pick up the slack. All three will likely see snaps in this matchup, but Rawls figures to see the majority of touches. The 49ers allowed the most rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns last year. A big week from Rawls shouldn’t surprise anyone given the limited depth San Francisco has with Foster being ruled out.