Fantasy stats to know for every Week 2 game
Each NFL season is a gigantic puzzle. At this point of the season, we’ve only just started to put together the border pieces. But each week, we’ll continue to fill in the gaps as we gather more data points and use them to exploit the best matchups at every position.
With just one week of information, early-season matchups can be tricky waters to navigation. However, there were some themes from Week 1 that continued what we saw last season. In other cases, new trends potentially emerged. Given the current lay of the land, here are some matchup notes from the remaining 15 games on the Week 2 slate:
Tennessee @ Detroit
Delanie Walker rebounds in a big way.
After leading all tight ends in targets last season, Walker got off to a slow start with just three catches for 42 yards on four targets in Week 1. The good news is that he gets to face a Lions defense that gave up a league-high three scores to Colts tight ends last week along with seven catches for 88 yards. Walker gets back on track in this one.
Baltimore @ Cleveland
This isn’t the week to go with Isaiah Crowell or Duke Johnson.
The Ravens defense looked revitalized in Week 1, holding the Bills in check and yielding just 2.8 yards per carry to Buffalo running backs. While the Browns offense should run more efficiently with Josh McCown under center, the change isn’t enough to completely reshape our outlook on Cleveland. Additionally, the committee between Crowell and Johnson will continue to cap both players’ fantasy value. Consider them both on the outside of the RB2s looking in this week.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
A.J. Green remains a top-end WR1 play this week.
Stating the obvious a bit, but this deserves repeating. In two games against the Steelers last season, Green had 17 catches on 23 targets for 250 yards and two scores. Green is coming off a massive Week 1 performance and is poised to keep on trucking this weekend. With Tyler Eifert still sidelined and a lackluster surrounding receiver group, Andy Dalton is going to pepper Green with targets yet again this week. In a very strong week for wide receiver, Green is among the top plays at the position.
Dallas @ Washington
Ezekiel Elliott gets on track in Week 2.
It wasn’t a huge debut performance for the fourth overall pick, but Elliot was one of just nine backs to top 20 carries for the week and did manage to find the end zone. While some Elliott owners may be a little nervous about the rookie’s meager 2.6 yards per carry, he has the matchup to erase any concerns. Washington got shredded by DeAngelo Williams last week to the tune of 5.1 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. This one will be Elliott’s coming out party.
New Orleans @ New York
Upgrade Jennings and Vereen this week.
While much of the attention is being paid to the receivers in this game, don’t overlook the running backs here. New Orleans gave up 6.3 yards per carry and a whopping 4.9 yards after contact per attempt in Week 1. The Saints picked right up where they left off last season when they yielded a league-high 5.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Rashad Jennings racked up 18 carries in Week 1 and figures to again be the early-down workhorse. He slides up to a borderline RB1 play this week. Those looking for a sneaky play may want to consider Shane Vereen. In a potentially high-scoring game, Vereen could see a lot of work if the Giants happen to get down early.
San Francisco @ Carolina
Jonathan Stewart is poised for a big game.
The 49ers held Todd Gurley in check in the opener, but they face a much stiffer test on the road this week in Carolina. This defense gave up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season, which makes Jonathan Stewart a very intriguing play this week, especially in DFS. Cam Newton is going to get his in this contest, but his presence will help to open things up for Stewart. Consider Stewart a sneaky fringe RB1.
Miami @ New England
More volume this week for LeGarrette Blount.
Blount was among last week’s most heavily used runners, racking up 21 carries in the Patriots opener. That trend figures to continue this week against the Dolphins. The last time Blount faced the Dolphins, he tallied 17 carries for 72 yards and forced four missed tackles. With Jimmy Garappolo under center, look for the Patriots to continue to lean on Blount. He’s a back-end RB1 play this week who has a lot of DFS appeal.
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Kansas City @ Houston
Tougher matchup this week for Spencer Ware.
Ware was massive for fantasy owners last week, posting the second-most fantasy points at the running back position. It appears that Jamaal Charles will be sidelined again for this contest, which means another healthy workload for Ware. However, there are two things to keep in mind: 1) Ware played nearly identical snaps to Charcandrick West, so there’s no guarantee he dominates touches again, and 2) Ware faces a tough Texans defense that features all-world DE J.J. Watt. Jeremy Langord did score against Houston in Week 1, but overall it was pretty rough day. He averaged just 3.4 yards per carry against the Texans.
Seattle @ Los Angeles
Tough sledding for Todd Gurley yet again.
One of last week’s biggest disappointments, Gurley managed just 47 yards on 17 carries and posted negative-five yards as a receiver. That’s certainly not what you’d expect out of a consensus top-five fantasy draft pick. However, the concerns are very real for Gurley in the Rams’ one-dimensional offense. Opposing defenses are going to continue to key Gurley, which means a lot of rough weeks are ahead. This week may be the roughest, as he faces a Seattle defense that gave up just 3.1 yards per carry to running backs last week and 3.5 yards per carry to the position last season. If you drafted Gurley, you likely have to start him, but he’s downgraded outside the top-10 fantasy running backs this week and isn’t much of a DFS consideration.
Tampa Bay @ Arizona
Larry Fitzgerald continues to roll.
The veteran receiver got off to a good start with 81 yards and two scores on eight catches in the Cardinals’ opener. He was the Cardinals’ most-targeted receiver, and that volume is a good bet to continue this week. Fitzgerald isn’t targeted frequently downfield, but he has shown a propensity throughout his career to run after the catch. That ability bodes positively this week against a Buccaneers defense that allowed 11.9 yards after catch per reception to Atlanta wide receivers in Week 1. Fitzgerald’s hot start will continue this weekend.
Jacksonville @ San Diego
All systems go for T.J. Yeldon.
With Chris Ivory sidelined last week, the Jags fed Yeldon 25 touches. While his 1.9 yards per carry does little to inspire confidence, the Chargers have the cure for what ails you. San Diego gave up 5.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs last season, and just yielded a massive fantasy day to Spencer Ware. Ivory is on the wrong end of the questionable tag and looks unlikely to play again this week. That means a full workload yet again for Yeldon in a buttery matchup. He’s an RB1 play worth of strong DFS consideration.
Atlanta @ Oakland
Stream Matt Ryan this week.
He didn’t do anything to wow you in the opener, but Ryan was solid and was among the 12 quarterbacks to top the 300-yard plateau in Week 1, finishing with 334 yards to go along with two scores. Of course, the top passing total of the week belongs to Drew Brees, who put up 423 yards against this Oakland defense. While the Raiders feature one of the league’s elite edge rushers in Khalil Mack, their secondary struggled mightily against the Saints. They’re going to have their hands full again this week with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. The Saints were also able to pick on LB Malcolm Smith with Travaris Cadet out of the backfield. Smith will get an even more difficult coverage assignment this week against Atlanta’s pair of speedy backs, both of whom are capable receivers.
Indianapolis @ Denver
C.J. Anderson is a top-end RB1 play.
The matchups don’t get much better than this one. Anderson goes up against a Colts defense that was the only unit to yield 100-plus yards on the ground and through the air to opposing running backs last week. Lions backs, led by Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, posted 120 receiving yards on 10 catches and 109 rushing yards on 21 totes. Anderson racked up 20 carries in Week 1 and saw four targets as a receiver. With his three-down workload and the Broncos offensive line firing on all cylinders, Anderson is in the mix as this week’s top running back play for season-long and should be considered a strong option for DFS cash games.
Green Bay @ Minnesota
Not the best week for Eddie Lacy.
The much-discussed Green Bay running back managed a decent start to the season with 4.4 yards per carry, but didn’t post a huge fantasy day with just 61 yards on the ground and 17 as a receiver. In Lacy’s last meeting with the Vikings, he had 13 carries for 34 yards and chipped in two catches for seven yards. With the Vikings boasting one of the league’s most imposing front sevens, Lacy gets a matchup downgrade this week.
Philadelphia @ Chicago
Fade Zach Miller this week.
Sure, it was partially to do with Robert Griffin III, but Gary Barnidge’s Week 1 stat line deserves a closer look. Last year’s breakout fantasy tight end managed zero catches on just two targets against the Eagles. Philadelphia used Malcolm Jenkins against Barnidge, and they’re likely to do the same on Monday night against Miller, who went just 3 catches for 14 yards in the Bears’ opener.