Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 2 lineups!
Sit: All running backs
Chase Edmonds has a tough matchup with tackles Terron Armstead and Austin Jackson both possibly out. Miami was also near the bottom of the league in Pace and ranked first in pass rate over expectation during Mike McDaniel’s first game as head coach. Moreover, with the Ravens' secondary banged up already just like last season, Miami’s receivers will likely be featured Sunday.
JK Dobbins will be limited if he makes his season debut, as his injury was serious; recall, he tore his ACL, MCL, hamstring and meniscus. Fantasy managers should remain patient … Devin Duvernay scored two touchdowns last week but saw just four targets on 18 routes; he shouldn’t be anywhere near fantasy starting lineups.
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
Start: Michael Carter, Browns D/ST
Carter started, played more snaps and had more carries than Breece Hall during the Jets’ season opener, with the rookie also losing a fumble. Both looked good, but Carter dominated third-down work (71 percent) and ran more routes, so he figures to play a bigger role in Week 2 with New York near touchdown underdogs. Both Carter and Hall can be used as flex plays, but Carter currently looks like the superior start.
Cleveland allowed just 2.8 YPC and recorded four sacks in Week 1 and now gets to face a 37-year-old Joe Flacco who got only 5.2 YPA and one TD on 59 passes last week. The Jets are also down to their third left tackle who’s trying to play through a knee injury.
Start: Carson Wentz, Jamaal Williams
Wentz was fantasy’s No. 3 QB in Week 1, heading a Washington offense that was surprisingly among the league leaders in pass rate over expectation. Flaws remain, but Wentz is playing indoors this week against a Lions defense that allowed an NFL-high 7.6 YPA and 31 passing scores last season. Detroit was first in Pace in neutral situations in Week 1, and Washington was 12th; it makes sense this total has been creeping toward 50 points.
Only one run defense was graded worse in DVOA than Washington’s in Week 1, and D’Andre Swift has missed multiple practices with a sprained ankle. Williams acted as Detroit’s goal-line back last week, so he can be used as a flex play in this matchup with upside for much more should Swift’s injury limit him in any way or force him to sit.
Sit: Matt Ryan
Start: Christian Kirk
Ryan struggled during his Colts debut, managing just 7.0 YPA (-4.6 CPOE) with four interceptable passes against Houston. It was just one game, and Jacksonville looks like a favorable matchup this week, but Michael Pittman is questionable and Alec Pierce has already been ruled out, Indy refuses to properly use its best tight end and there might be rain with sustained winds in Jacksonville.
Ryan is also at an age (37) where quarterbacks not named Tom Brady can suddenly suffer a steep decline.
Kirk has been targeted by Trevor Lawrence as a true No. 1 receiver ever since signing a huge offseason contract that paid him as one of the league’s top wideouts. He ranked top-three in air yards in Week 1 and needs to be treated as at least a top-15 PPR receiver moving forward. Facing a pass-funnel Colts defense that’s extremely stingy against the run but beatable through the air, Kirk is a must-start in fantasy leagues. His expert consensus rank is the WR26, but he’s a top-12 WR on my board this week.
Start in DFS: Leonard Fournette ($22), Juwan Johnson ($10)
Fournette played nearly every snap and ran almost every route in the first half before Sunday night’s game became lopsided, and any worries about him being out of shape quickly stopped with an impressive rushing performance. With Chris Godwin out and Russell Gage not looking 100%, Fournette is also likely to start seeing far more targets, as Tom Brady leads the NFL in target% to RBs over the last five years.
The Saints have been a tough opponent for running backs over the last few seasons, but the 2022 version allowed 200+ rushing yards (and just their second 100-yard rusher over their last 79 games!) last week. Fournette sat out practice this week with a hamstring issue but is expected to play Sunday and could easily be a top-five fantasy RB.
Johnson has the stone-minimum DFS salary despite quietly being among the tight end leaders in target share and route involvement in Week 1. Johnson is a good athlete who also lined up in the slot or out wide on 76% of his snaps, so there’s fantasy potential at a tight end position that looks downright ugly. There’s target competition in New Orleans, but the Saints will likely pass a ton against the Bucs’ strong run defense and explosive offense (and Alvin Kamara may be out), so Johnson is an intriguing bargain.
Start: DJ Moore
Sit: All Giants but Saquon Barkley
Moore took a backseat to Robbie Anderson in Week 1, which may be a bit more concerning given it was the first game with new quarterback Baker Mayfield. Still, expect Carolina to make a concerted effort to get him (and CMC) involved in Week 2, and Moore was one of only five wideouts to play 100% of his team’s snaps last week. He should be fine moving forward.
Kadarius Toney played seven snaps last week when Wan’Dale Robinson left hurt and Richie James was somehow top-five in air yardage share. Kenny Golladay continues to look washed, and the Panthers allowed an NFL-low 4.3 YPA in Week 1 (and two other teams played in a monsoon). Sterling Shepard is the best Giants’ fantasy WR for those in deeper leagues.
Start: Patriots D/ST, Pat Freiermuth
New England’s defense played better than the final score indicated last week and now gets to face Mitch Trubisky and a Steelers team that just played almost five full quarters. As worrisome as the Patriots’ offense may be, the bet here is Bill Belichick over Pittsburgh OC Matt Canada.
Freiermuth led all tight ends in target share in Week 1 and had an 89% snap share after never reaching 80% during any game last year. Despite a shaky QB situation and competition for targets with strong WRs, Freiermuth looks locked in as a borderline top-five fantasy TE moving forward.
Start: Drake London, Darrell Henderson
Sunday presents yet another tough matchup for Kyle Pitts, while the rookie London impressed so much in Week 1 there’s a good chance he quickly becomes a weekly must-start and graduates from this column. Despite barely practicing for a month and making his NFL debut Sunday, London led Atlanta in routes while looking like a future star. How could you not like the Drake?
Henderson didn’t have a big Week 1 box score, but he dominated LA’s backfield, finishing with the second-highest snap share among all running backs. He was first in route run involvement rate, which resulted in a career-high five catches. The Rams’ offensive line isn’t as dominant as before, but Sean McVay has historically preferred to ride a feature back, and it remains a role that should produce extremely valuable fantasy numbers.
Cam Akers barely played in Week 1 (and might not have seen the field if Kyren Williams didn’t suffer a sprained ankle on the opening kickoff), ranking last among 105 RBs in rush yards over expectation last season after returning from Achilles surgery. Henderson has durability issues, but he’s also a legit player who averaged the most YPC (8.2) in the history of college football.
At home with extra rest and with the Rams as the biggest favorites (10 points) on the board while facing an Atlanta defense that allowed an NFL-high 8.0 YPC in their season opener, Henderson looks like a top-12 fantasy RB this week.
Sit: Rashaad Penny
Start: Jeff Wilson Jr.
Penny is going to have some eruption weeks this season, but he'll face a 49ers defense that allowed 2.7 YPC last week and ranked second in run defense DVOA last year. Moreover, Seattle may be getting rookie Kenneth Walker back and is coming off a short week having just won in a Monday night upset. The Seahawks may go run heavy in a game that calls for rain, but both teams are toward the bottom of the league in Pace, so this projects to have among the fewest plays of any matchup this week.
San Francisco was the most run-heavy team in Week 1 and once again is set to play through rain (what did Trey Lance do to deserve this?!). Wilson gets first crack at replacing the injured Eli Mitchell, and while he lacks upside and explosion, he’s the team’s preferred option in both the passing and goal-line roles. Wilson has put up productive numbers as a starter in the past, so he can be used in fantasy leagues despite the expectation of him losing work to Lance and Deebo Samuel.
Jordan Mason should be stashed in all fantasy leagues right now as well.
Start: Bengals D/ST, Dalton Schultz
Cincinnati’s defense played extremely well in Week 1, allowing just 4.4 yards per play (fourth fewest) while overcoming five turnovers on offense and having to play five quarters. This week the Bengals are touchdown favorites against a reeling Dallas offense badly missing its left tackle and Dak Prescott (the Cowboys have averaged 11 fewer points over 12 games without him since 2020). The Cowboys are such a mess, their coach has publicly called out his OC for bad play calling. Fire up Cincinnati’s D/ST against Cooper Rush this week.
Schultz had a 100% snap share and ran the third-most routes among tight ends in Week 1. His upside is now clearly limited with Rush at QB, but Schultz can remain a fantasy starter with the help of so many targets (and tight end being so incredibly thin). However, CeeDee Lamb’s expectations need to be tempered.
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos
Sit: All Texans but Brandin Cooks
Start: Albert Okwuegbunam
Cooks could be shadowed by Patrick Surtain, but you’re not sitting him after he saw 12 targets in the season opener (2.22 YPRR). Nico Collins is expected to be more involved this week, as is Dameon Pierce, but both are best left on benches for now. And don’t bother adding — let alone starting — O.J. Howard, who scored two touchdowns last week but ran just six routes.
While it may have seemed like Denver’s tight end rotation was a committee Monday night, Albert O quietly dominated routes run (32 compared to 16 combined by the other three) and targets (six). If he continues to see this type of route involvement with Russell Wilson now his QB, a nice fantasy season will follow.
After fantasy managers fought over Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy at draft tables, it's wild Denver ranks last in WR target% (35.7) through one week of the season.
Arizona Cardinals @ Las Vegas Raiders
Start in DFS: James Conner ($26), Davante Adams ($36)
Conner played 96% of the first half snaps and ran a route nearly every dropback before the score got out of hand in Week 1, so he’s Arizona’s true every-down back. Conner remains a real injury risk, but he can be treated as an elite DFS option while healthy, especially in a matchup with by far the highest projected scoring total on the slate and facing a Raiders defense that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs last season. With no DeAndre Hopkins or Rondale Moore and Zach Ertz banged up, expect Conner to be featured in Arizona’s offense Sunday.
Greg Dortch can be used in PPR leagues with Moore out again.
Any concern regarding Adams leaving Aaron Rodgers emphatically ended in Week 1 when the star receiver led the league in target share and air yards. To put Adams’ usage in perspective during his first game with the Raiders, he had a 42 percent target per route run rate compared to Justin Jefferson’s 33% and Cooper Kupp’s 30%.
Playing indoors with his college QB and in an offense that was pass-happy during Josh McDaniels’ first game, Adams has an argument to be ranked as a top-three PPR player moving forward. With a DFS salary nearly 10% less than Kupp's, in a highly favorable matchup with the highest total on the slate and against a Cardinals defense with the shakiest cornerbacks in the league, Adams is a strong DFS building block.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Sit: Cole Kmet
Start: Robert Tonyan
Kmet played 84% of the snaps last week, and it’s entirely possible his lack of targets had everything to do with the poor weather, but it’s a little concerning he ran just one more route than (and was out-targeted by) Ryan Griffin. The Bears might be playing again in the rain Sunday night, so Kmet looks safest on fantasy benches should you have an alternative.
Tonyan led all Packer receivers in targets per route run (26%) during his first game returning from ACL surgery last week, and he figures to remain a big part of a Green Bay offense with shaky wideouts. Tonyan scored 11 touchdowns during his last healthy season, and that was with Davante Adams. Tonyan shouldn’t be available in more than 65% of Yahoo leagues, especially given the pathetic TE landscape.
Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills
Sit: Robert Woods
Start: Devin Singletary
Woods will be droppable if he has another game like his first with Tennessee when he finished last among six Titans in targets per route run (8%). Rookie Kyle Phillips continues to impress, while rookie Treylon Burks is going to see increased playing time moving forward. Woods belongs on fantasy benches.
Last week’s targets between Zack Moss (six) and Singletary (two) were a little misleading considering the latter played more passing downs. Not that Singletary is a good receiver, but he also appears to remain Buffalo’s preferred goal-line back, which is key to his fantasy value. Singletary scored nine touchdowns over the final six games (playoffs included) last season.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles
Start: Adam Thielen, Miles Sanders
Thielen took a backseat to Justin Jefferson in Week 1, but he figures to also benefit from Minnesota’s new offense (that took its foot off the gas in the second half last week) as the season progresses. Thielen was one of only nine receivers across the league to run a route during every dropback in Week 1, and this Monday nighter could sneakily be the highest scoring matchup of Week 2.
Sanders watched three others also run in scores in Week 1, but he’ll visit the end zone far more in 2022 if he continues to act as Philly’s preferred goal-line back (he was given three of the team’s five RB goal-line carries). The Vikings were gashed for 6.2 YPC during their season opener, and Sanders’ 5.1 YPC would rank top-five all-time among RBs if he qualified.