Initial reaction to the Week 2 fantasy rankings
Our staff’s Week 2 fantasy rankings are now live on the site, which means it’s time again to weigh in on which rankings stand out from the pack, as well as offer up my analysis to help you find some middle ground for making those tough lineup decisions.
I dissected quite a few players in my Week 1 rankings reaction, and with the exception of a certain Buffalo Bills quarterback who shall remain nameless, the projections turned out to be pretty spot on. So let’s get right into it for Week 2.
Cam Newton: QB1 (CAR vs. SF)
Newton was fantasy’s No. 9 quarterback in Week 1 against Denver, which was right about where he was pegged as the QB8. The top QB off the board in most fantasy drafts, our staff is unanimous in ranking him No. 1 at home this week against San Francisco. While the 49ers did yield a league-low four fantasy points to Case Keenum in the opener, it was, you know, Case Keenum. Of course, what separates Newton is his rushing ability, and he produced 11 fantasy points on the ground alone in the opener. If there is one concern, it’s that the Panthers coaching staff may look to limit the amount of hits Newton sustains after getting hit 17 times against Los Angeles.
Drew Brees: QB3 (N.O. @ NYG) – Mike Tagliere (QB9)
Brees has been a perennial top-five fantasy quarterback every season in the PFF era, and four of our rankers have him at No. 2 on the road this week against the New York Giants. Mike Tagliere is the outlier with a No. 9 ranking, and the Giants did just shut down Dak Prescott in his first career start. It’s also true that historically, Brees has been a much more effective quarterback at home (101.2 career rating) than on the road (90.8). Still, this is a Giants team that graded 29th in pass coverage last season and recorded pressure on only 31.3 percent of passing plays in sub-packages, the second-lowest rate in the NFL in 2015. Even with an improved front-seven, I like Brees’ chances to find the soft spots and finish among the top-five QBs this week, which is reflected in his league-high DraftKings salary.
Derek Carr: QB14 (OAK vs. ATL) – Pat Thorman (QB8)
Jameis Winston just carved up the Falcons defense for 281 yards and four touchdowns passing, as his 87.7 PFF grade through the air was third-best in Week 1. This week, Carr gets those same Falcons at home. I’ve been a rather big Carr proponent all summer, and he came through as one of my top QB streaming options in the opener. What stands out for the third-year pro is his coolness under pressure. He overcame a league-high 44 drops last season in addition to completing 66.7 percent of his passes against the rush. In last week’s opener, he led a nice comeback by engineering three fourth-quarter scoring drives. I’m with Pat Thorman: look for Carr to post another top-10 fantasy week.
Lamar Miller: RB6 (HOU vs. KC) – Jeff Ratcliffe (RB3), Mike Tagliere (RB11)
A few months back, I listed Miller going to Houston as the most impactful offseason move for fantasy purposes. Well, in his first game with the Texans, he carried the ball a career-high 28 times and logged 32 touches total. Mind you, over Miller’s previous 61 career games with the Dolphins, he had eclipsed 20 carries in a game only once, and this was despite averaging a healthy 4.6 yards per carry. Mike has Miller outside the top 10 RBs at home this week against Kansas City, while Jeff Ratcliffe is highest, at No. 3. The Chiefs yielded the third-most fantasy points to the running back position at home against San Diego in the opener, and with Houston’s ground-heavy attack behind Brock Osweiler, I’d be surprised if Miller failed to follow up his Texans debut with another top-five fantasy week.
Devonta Freeman: RB14 (ATL @ OAK) – Tyler Loechner (RB11), Pat Thorman (RB19)
Personally, as a Devonta Freeman owner in both dynasty and keeper formats, I’m ready to concede that it’s truly time to worry about the workload split in Atlanta’s backfield. The “hot hand” approach lent itself to Tevin Coleman producing 117 yards on 13 touches, compared to just 40 yards on 15 touches for Freeman. While Freeman did see more goal-line work, the overall snaps were split fairly evenly, with Freeman holding a slight 36-32 edge in snaps. Perhaps most concerning is that Coleman went into a pass route 23 times (and had a team-high five catches for 95 yards) compared to 18 for Freeman, who is coming off a 73-catch sophomore campaign. Until further notice, it’s tough to argue against our rankers that Freeman cannot be trusted as a RB1, even in PPR formats.
Doug Martin: RB16 (TB @ ARI) – Loechner and Brandon Marianne Lee (RB10), Tagliere and Ross Miles (RB20)
There is a fairly vast gap between how a few of our rankers view Martin this week against an Arizona defense that graded as our third-stingiest run defense in the opener. Martin’s final line against Atlanta was rather uninspiring, as he rushed for only 62 yards and averaged 3.4 YPC. However, he did log 18 rushes, compared to only four for Charles Sims. What’s more, Martin added 34 yards on five receptions, compared to 32 yards (and a TD) on three catches for Sims. Martin had only 33 catches a year ago, while Sims had 51 grabs and went over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. But Martin did manage to catch 80 percent of his 41 targets last season. He also posted 49 catches as a rookie, so it’s not as if that’s an alien skillset. Given the expected workload, I like Martin as a fringe RB1 this week.
Allen Robinson: WR8 (JAX @ SD) – Tagliere (WR21)
Our bold call of the week goes to Mike for his low expectations of Robinson in San Diego this week. Perhaps the rest of our staff — and the fantasy community in general, given Robinson’s DraftKings’ salary – is willing to give Robinson a mulligan for his Week 1 outing. After all, he did draw a league-high 14 targets and is coming off a top-five fantasy finish in his second season. But like Mike, I’d exercise caution for a player who barely cracks the top-40 at his position after one week and, let’s face it, has a pretty small one-year sample size of elite fantasy production. Despite those 14 targets, Robinson caught only six of them, as the Packers made certain to pay him some extra attention. For me, he dips into the WR2 range this week.