Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2016
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Eli Manning (NYG, QB)
With a solid corp of receivers at his disposal facing a suspect defense, how can you not like Eli Manning this week? He's facing a New Orleans secondary that got torched by Derek Carr and company to the tune of 319 yards. Given the matchup, it's no surprise to see Eli rise to the 2nd-ranked QB on this week's FFN rankings.
Start 'em Marcus Mariota (TEN, QB)
In an ugly game against a stout Vikings defense, Marcus Mariota came away with an average day. Things will get better when Mariota takes on a Detroit defense that couldn't stop Andrew Luck from tallying 368 yards passing and 33.5 fantasy points in standard scoring. Mariota warrants consideration above guys like Cousins, Flacco, Winston, Ryan, and Fitzpatrick.
Start 'em Jeremy Langford (CHI, RB)
One of our DFS suggestions
this week is Jeremy Langford. He's a Top 10 guy this week in both standard and PPR formats against the 23rd-ranked Philly run defense. The Eagles should do a fine job making the passing game difficult for Cutler and Jeffery, but as we saw last week, the Bears will lean on their run game and Langford is primed for his coming out party.
Start 'em Thomas Rawls (SEA, RB)
He's ranked 23rd this week among RB's in standard scoring, but don't let that sway you. Rawls is the guy that the Seahawks want to give it to. Sure, Christine Michael will get some touches, but with a healthy Rawls and a slightly banged-up Wilson, expect the Seahawks to ground and pound it this week.
Start 'em Steve Smith (BAL, WR)
Not only is Steve Smith incredibly fun to watch, he also led the team in both snaps and targets last week. While Mike Wallace turned in the points with his touchdown, fantasy sports is a numbers game and Smith is going to have more opportunity to make big plays and put up numbers. He's severely undervalued in his 46th-ranked spot this week but should be a solid flex play for you.
Start 'em Sterling Shepard (NYG, WR)
He may not salsa dance, but there should be plenty of opportunity for Shepard to dance his way into the endzone against a Colts defense that got torched last week. He's a low-end WR3 in the rankings but definitely can finish much higher than that in what is likely to be a high scoring and high passing game.
Start 'em Gary Barnidge (CLE, TE)
Fool me once. Shame on me. Fool me twice. Shame on...ah, whatever. Don't let last week's goose egg spook you into not starting Gary Barnidge. With Josh McCown back under center, it should be back to normal for Barnidge. The biggest winner in the loss of RGIII is likely to be these two.
Start 'em Delanie Walker (TEN, TE)
Like Barnidge above, don't let last week's poor performance sway your decision. Delanie Walker and company will face a Lions defense that let the Colts two tight ends walk all over them. Seriously - had you even heard the name Jack Doyle before last week? Expect a healthy dose of Walker and some nice fantasy points along with it.
Start 'em Carolina Panthers (CAR, DEF)
We all expected so much more out of the Rams against a questionable 49ers offense. Carolina should shut down San Fran this week in a way that Los Angeles was simply unable to. Even against a more-talented Denver Broncos in the season kickoff game, the Panthers (our #1-ranked defense) put up a respectable 8 fantasy points. They should hit double digits this week.
Start 'em Chandler Catanzaro (ARI, K)
After posting a measely 3 fantasy points against the Pats, we anticipate Catanzaro to bounce back nicely against a Tampa Bay defense that gave up 10 fantasy points to Atlanta's Matt Bryant last week.
Sit 'em Alex Smith (KC, QB)
After coming from behind to lead the Chiefs in a thrilling victory last week while putting up 330 yards in the process, it's back to reality for Alex Smith. The Texans are much more difficult than the Chargers. The only allowed 185 passing yards last week from Jay Cutler and should clamp down on Kansas City's aerial attack.
Sit 'em Jameis Winston (TB, QB)
Sometimes fantasy football is a boom or bust game, and we expect Jameis Winston to go from his 4-TD performance last week to a 1-TD bust this week. The Cardinals are not going to be as easy to throw against as the Falcons were last week. Jimmy Garoppolo managed 13.76 fantasy points, and while Winston should see that number, he likely won't go much higher than it.
Sit 'em Todd Gurley (LA, RB)
Rule #1 in fantasy football is to never bench your studs, so while we're not advocating sitting Todd Gurley, we are urging you to lower your expectations. Look at this week's rankings and you'll find him at #17 making him an RB2 play this week at best. Seattle allowed just 64 yards last week on the ground, and based upon the forgettable performance we saw from the Rams on Monday night, there's little optimism for them right now.
Sit 'em Ameer Abdullah (DET, RB)
We'll put both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick on the sit list this week. Both played exceptionally well last week against the Colts, but Tennessee is a different story. They held Adrian Peterson to just 31 yards and was brutal on running backs all last season. Riddick has potential in PPR formats, but neither should be anything more than a possible flex play this week.
Sit 'em Tavon Austin (LA, WR)
You'll have to scroll way down in this week's rankings to find Tavon Austin. Coming in at #50, you won't find another depth-chart-WR1 near him. That speaks volumes about the way the Rams are playing and the matchup that they have against the Legion of Boom. Jarvis Landry pulled in 6 fantasy points last week (std) against Seattle, so to expect Austin to significantly outperform that seems unrealistic.
Sit 'em Sammy Watkins (BUF, WR)
Watkins could very well play the role of decoy this week. He reminds us a lot of the week to week deliberations we all had with Calvin Johnson in the past. His foot is hurt and he's legitimately questionable. This type of injury tends to linger and that's not what fantasy owners want to hear. Obviously, like Megatron, if he plays, you have to start him, but we'd be concerned with both his floor and ceiling this week.
Sit 'em Zach Miller (CHI, TE)
When you click on a player's name in the FFN weekly rankings, you'll find a section popping up called Defensive Dossier. This will show you how other similar players fared against the same defense this year. Click on Miller and you'll see that Gary Barnidge was held to zero points last week. After coming off a game where he only had 14 yards total, Zach Miller's outlook for this week is similarly poor.
Sit 'em Martellus Bennett (NE, TE)
While Martellus Bennett said this week that he's happy to trade a dumping in the stat sheet for a win, fantasy owners don't share the same sentiment. With Gronk out, it should have been Bennett's show, but he spent most of his time blocking. With Gronk expected to be back this week, Bennett may have to wait to figure out his role in this offense.
Sit 'em Minnesota Vikings (MIN, DEF)
The Vikings were spectacular on defense last week putting up serious numbers for fantasy owners. It's one thing to take out Marcus Mariota and the Titans. It's something entirely different to do that against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The story line is great - first regular season game at the new US Bank Stadium, but the ending likely won't be as great.
Sit 'em Phil Dawson (SF, K)
While the Niners put 28 points on the board last week against LA, Phil Dawson only got four of those points. We don't expect the Niners to have their way with the Panthers so easily given that Carolina has historically been tough on fantasy kickers. Given that Dawson is our 32nd-ranked kicker this week, the experts seem to agree.