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Positional Rankings: Week 2

Eric Giessler - Fantasy Expert



The NFL can change at the drop of a dime; listening to several podcasts this week I've already heard a slew of professional analysts drinking kool-aid on players that they ranked twenty spots lower last week. That is the nature of this game. It is important not to abandon your entire strategy in one week, but it is also important to react to what you see. Nothing hurts more than reacting to recency bias by benching a stud and then watching him go off; but it hurts equally as bad when you don't pull the trigger and the stud struggles. NFL games are played in the future; you don't have access to the future. Try to develop a system where the squirrel and the sloth can co-exist within you. That was confusing, right? Sorry. Without further ado, here are my absolutely error free week 2 rankings.


Based on half PPR scoring.



Quarterbacks


1. Patrick Mahomes @OAK

2. Lamar Jackson vs ARI

3. Carson Wentz @ATL

4. Tom Brady @ MIA

5. Matt Ryan vs PHI

6. Jared Goff vs NO

7. Ben Roethlisberger vs SEA

8. Drew Brees @ LAR

9. Russell Wilson @ PIT

10. Cam Newton vs TB


Ride or Die : Carson Wentz - Case Keenum torched the Eagles secondary in week 1 for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns; this on the heels of a 2018 season in which they allowed the third most passing yards in the league. The Eagles secondary is middle tier on their best day. Stock up, Matt Ryan. I highlighted the Eagles secondary issues to strengthen my case for a possible shootout here. The Atlanta secondary allowed the sixth most passing yards in 2018. Either signal caller is a fine play, I give the slight edge to Carson Wentz.


Risky Call I Believe In : Ben Roethlisberger - I hate buying into oversimplified narratives but sometimes the truth doesn't lie. For his career Big Ben has a passer rating 10 points higher at home than on the road. This statistic doesn't scare me for every road opponent, but in hindsight, traveling to Foxborough to open a season probably wasn’t the best scenario. Ben gets to stay home this week where the Steelers will host the Seahawks. The Seattle defense has a big reputation, but a deeper dive will show an average unit. Their pass defense finished middle of the pack in 2018 despite their offense finishing 30th in plays per game; illustrating the fact that they allow big yards per play. Andy Dalton managed to fill up the box score on the road in week 1 against a secondary that consists of Shaquill Griffin and not much else notable. I look for Seattle to defend the run respectably and for Roethlisberger to find success in the air.


Consensus Top Dog Fade: Dak Prescott - Not every pick has to be based on statistics. I've been a believer in Dak since day 1, he's a solid quarterback. I look for Dallas to establish Elliott in his second game after spending the offseason in Cabo. I also expect Washington to struggle; if Dallas gets up early and the Redskins can't answer, the Cowboys could run the ball a ton leading to a game script that isn't quarterback friendly. Prescott has a nice floor in this game, but I don't see a high probability for an outburst. In the current NFL environment that has so many options for fantasy, a fade is not necessarily an indictment of a player.


Hail Mary: Derek Carr - The Kansas City BuzzSaws are coming to town this week to face the Raiders. Despite the loss of Tyreek Hill, I expect Mahomes and Co. to score the rock at a high rate per usual. In 2018, the Chiefs allowed the second most plays and passing yards against. In week 1, two Jaguar quarterbacks combined for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns continuing that narrative against Kansas City. This strategy will likely be a theme this season as well; you can probably fire up the quarterback on the opposite sideline as Mahomes every week.



Running Back


1. Christian McCaffrey vs TB

2. Ezekiel Elliott @ WAS

3. Saquon Barkley vs BUF

4. Alvin Kamara @ LAR

5. Dalvin Cook @GB

6. Todd Gurley vs NO

7. Nick Chubb @ NYJ

8. James Conner vs SEA

9. Chris Carson @ PIT

10. Damien Williams @ OAK


Ride Or Die : Todd Gurley - There has been a lot of discussion over the health of Todd Gurley; a lot of the warning signs are concerning I will grant that concession. It's week 2 and this is a huge game for the Rams vs New Orleans. Malcolm Brown did look great last week, but so did Todd Gurley. I expect the Saints to challenge the Rams a bit more than the Panthers and Todd Gurley plays up in the passing game quite well. The ghost of Carlos Hyde just hit New Orleans for 8.3 ypg last week. It's too early in the season for me to be scared by arthritis, give me all of the Gurley I can get this week.


Risky Call I Believe In: Damien WIlliams - This pick certainly fits the category after Ole Shady McCoy looked great for the Chiefs last week. Oakland allowed the second fewest receiving yards to running backs in 2018 and continued that trend last week, only allowing 28 yards to the Denver stable. You know what? I DON'T CARE. Give me Damien Williams this week, especially in DFS where getting a big part of the Chiefs offense at a reduced ownership could pay off big. I think Damien has a pretty high floor even with Shady around and quite frankly I don't think Oakland's typical defensive numbers really apply when the Chiefs come to town.


Consensus Top Dog Fade: Leonard Fournette - With Nick Foles going down, expect Houston to stack the box against Fournette, who surprisingly is the owner of a less than desirable 3.7 YPC career rushing average. Volume and passing game involvement in a negative game script could save Fournette, but I am looking elsewhere if I have options.


Hail Mary: Miles Sanders - Atlanta allowed the sixth most fantasy points and the second most receptions to opposing running backs last season; Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison also just destroyed them last week. Furthermore, they have allowed the most receptions to opposing running backs for 4 straight seasons. This is likely more of a schematic issue than it is a personnel issue. There is nothing safe about this play, but there is a lot to like this week about Miles Sanders. In his career debut, Sanders handled 11 carries and had 2 catches. I don't want to list his yardage total because it does not fit my agenda...I paused for laughter. One thing the box score cannot account for is what I saw on the TV; Sanders looked fast and explosive. If Doug Peterson continues to give him 12-15 touches a game, that will be plenty to gouge this leaky Atlanta defense.



Wide Receiver


1. Julio Jones vs PHI

2. Mike Thomas @LAR

3. Odell Beckham Jr. @NYJ

4. DeAndre Hopkins vs JAX

5. JuJu Smith-Schuster vs SEA

6. Amari Cooper vs WAS

7. Sammy Watkins @ OAK

8. Cooper Kupp vs NO

9. DJ Moore vs TB

10. DeVante Adams vs MIN


Ride or Die: Odell Beckham Jr. - The Browns were bamboozled last week by the Titans. That happens in the NFL sometimes. Beckham Jr. still managed 7 catches on 11 targets for 71 yards; if that is the floor, I cannot wait to see the ceiling with his new team. I still believe in the Browns roster despite a poor showing. Week 2 in general is a tough week for the top tier of fantasy wide receivers, who as a group face a lot of top cover cornerbacks. I'll take Odell this week against a Jets defense who gave up the second most fantasy points to WRs in 2018 in addition to being torched by John Brown in week 1.


Risky Call I Believe In: Tyrell Williams - I wrote a decent size blurb about why you should play Derek Carr this week; basically the same story applies for Tyrell Williams this week. Feel free to target the Chiefs defense any time you are in need of a streamer. Sometimes it really is simple. The Jaguars had 3 wide outs produce usable fantasy lines in week 1 against Kansas City.


Consensus Top Dog Fade: Mike Evans - Panthers CB James Bradberry owns Mike Evans. Sorry Mike, I love ya buddy, but it's true. In two games in 2018, Bradberry covered Evans exclusively; Evans managed a two game total of 7 catches for 50 yards. Zoom out and the outlook is even worse; it seems the Panthers own Mike in general. In 10 career games Evans has managed one 100 yard game, 3 touchdowns, and has only caught 45% of his targets. There is a non-zero chance Evans has a big game, but I can't spend my hard earned money going against those numbers if I have other options. Look to buy-low on Evans if he does indeed have a poor game; with the next 3 opponents being NYG, LAR and NO, I like him to get back on track over that stretch.


Hail Mary: Mecole Hardman and Marquise Brown - I already recommended Hardman in the waiver wire article so I'll keep this short. Tyreek is hurt, Hardman is fast, he plays for the Chiefs. Hardman is unproven, but he did play 78% of snaps last week. If you are searching for an available player for this week with upside, fire up Hardman. As for Marquise Brown, typically I'm downplaying his big game but he plays the Cardinals this week. Even if he only sees the field on 19% of the plays as he did last week, against Arizona that could be 492 snaps...whew, those Arizona corners may get tired. This is the Hail Mary section so go ahead and fire these two speedsters up in your deep leagues.



Tight End


1. Travis Kelce @ OAK

2. Zach Ertz @ ATL

3. George Kittle @ CIN

4. Evan Engram vs BUF

5. OJ Howard @ CAR

6. Greg Olsen vs TB

7. Darren Waller vs KC

8. Jared Cook @ LAR

9. Mark Andrews vs ARI

10. TJ Hockenson vs LAC


Ride Or Die: Darren Waller - Here I am again, targeting the Chiefs. Unlike Derek Carr and Tyrell Williams, I really do like Waller longterm. The Chiefs allowed 10 touchdowns, 87 catches and 1,067 yards to the tight end position in 2018. Waller emerged in the first half Monday, but Denver did seem to scheme him out in the second half. I just included that to offer somewhat of a counterpoint to my unbridled Waller love train.


Risky Call I Believe In: OJ Howard - There isn't much data that backs me up here, in reality opposing TE Greg Olsen has a much easier statistical foundation for this matchup. I do have my pride though, and I was all over OJ two weeks ago. I'm not ready to jump ship yet. This matchup isn't overly difficult, the Panthers were middle of the pack against tight ends last season and OJ did get them for 2 touchdowns in week 9. Jameis Winston looked horrible in week 1 even with the quarterback whisperer aboard the pirate ship. I have to think Tampa can move the ball some how, some way. Mike Evans is dealing with a tough matchup, I think OJ Howard can find success here. If you are really crazy you can play fantasy zombie Cameron Brate.


Consensus Top Dog Fade: Eric Ebron - The Colts travel to Tennessee this weekend who displayed a downright scary defense against the Browns. It is a one week sample but it scared me. Ebron is already touchdown dependent with the way the Colts deploy him, so what if the Colts don't score much here? A touchdown dependent TE doesn't sound too appealing in that scenario. I'll also note that the Titans allowed the 7th lowest production to the TE position in 2018. Njoku did manage to find the end zone in week 1, but didn't do much else. You should be able to do better than Ebron this week.


Hail Mary: Trey Burton - When looking for a tight end Hail Mary, I'll admit its not fun and maybe the success rate is not the best. I'll give it a shot anyway. Burton has big play ability and he is sort of the forgotten man in Chicago. I am a sucker for post-hype players, always feeling like I can get a bargain. Denver wasn't great against the TE last year and they also were exploited by Darren Waller last week; I included Burton here just to make sure he isn't completely forgotten. This is a new year, if Burton looks good this week you may want to take notice in deeper leagues.



Eric Giessler - Across The Board

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