1:00PM ET Games
Houston @ Carolina
Texans-Panthers has a 40-point Vegas total, lowest of Week 2. Carolina is a three-point favorite. Even after a slow opener, the best play on the Panthers' side is Greg Olsen taking on a Texans defense that got gashed by Travis Kelce (6-106-2) last week. Olsen's DFS ownership could be surprisingly low as fickle players are often consumed by recency bias. Very few people who used Olsen last week will use him again. ... Even as Olsen and the Panthers' wideouts struggled, there were promising takeaways from Cam Newton's Week 1. OC Mike Shula demonstrated a commitment to utilizing Cam heavily on read-option plays and quarterback keeps. Newton's 14 rushing attempts against the Jaguars tied for the second highest single-game total of Cam's career. Now facing a Texans defense that last Sunday coughed up three passing TDs to Alex Smith, I'm intrigued by a Cam-Olsen stack in DFS tournaments. ... Jonathan Stewart handled 72% of the Panthers' Week 1 snaps, piling up 22 touches. While the results weren't ideal (81 scoreless yards), Stewart's usage was, and it's only a matter of time before Newton's increased rushing usage begins creating space for Carolina's running game as a whole. In Week 2, Stewart is a solid RB2 even in a tough matchup with a Texans defense that held Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis to 71 yards on 22 carries (3.23 YPC) last week.
Newton's Week 1 target distribution: Ted Ginn 7; Jerricho Cotchery 6; Stewart 4; Olsen, Corey Brown, and Devin Funchess 3; Mike Tolbert 2. ... The Panthers employed a four-way wideout committee in last week's win over the Jaguars. Starters Brown and Ginn played 75% and 59% of Carolina's snaps, respectively. Slot man Cotchery (44%) and rookie Funchess (38%) mixed in on a rotational basis. It may be awhile before a Panthers receiver becomes legitimately dependable from a production standpoint. Funchess' opener was a disaster, dropping 1-of-3 targets, having another intercepted, and catching the third for a gain of nine. In Week 1, the Texans' secondary didn't allow a Chiefs wideout to top 52 yards. ... Although there was pre-game chatter of Tolbert taking on an "increased role" due to Carolina's inept receiver corps, Tolbert played only 25% of the Week 1 snaps and gained 18 yards on two touches.
As three-point road underdogs in what projects as the week's lowest-scoring game, Houston has a team total under 19 points. It's an ugly situation for Texans skill players. ... The Houston backfield is especially ugly. Coach Bill O'Brien employed a three-way RBBC in Week 1 against the Chiefs, with Alfred Blue (10 touches), Jonathan Grimes (7), and Chris Polk (6) rotating throughout. Grimes actually played the most, seeing a 53% snap rate. All three are poor flex options against a Panthers defense that limited Jaguars backs to 70 scoreless yards on 17 runs (4.12 YPC) on Opening Day. ... After Brian Hoyer committed two red-zone turnovers that led directly to two Chiefs touchdowns in Week 1, the Texans threw in the towel on Hoyer this week, installing Ryan Mallett at quarterback. Mallett's job will be the same as Hoyer's was supposed to be: manage the game and don't give the ball to the other team. Mallett has a big arm, but isn't very good. Mallett's ball placement is poor, and he offers little to nothing athletically. In 2014, Mallett was traded away by Bill Belichick for a conditional seventh-round pick -- the least compensation possible -- and in 2015 failed to beat out journeyman Hoyer in Texans camp. In two spots starts last year, Mallett went 41-of-75 passing (54.7%) for 400 yards (5.33 YPA), two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Fire up the Panthers' D/ST this week.
Friday Update: Stud Texans LT Duane Brown (thumb) is not expected to play on Sunday, upgrading the matchup for Carolina's fantasy defense. The Panthers are expected to be without MLB Luke Kuechly (concussion, doubtful) and quite possibly DT Star Lotulelei (questionable, foot), however. Kuechly and Lotulelei are arguably Carolina's highest-impact defenders.
Mallett's target distribution off the bench last week: DeAndre Hopkins 6; Grimes and Keith Mumphery 2; Nate Washington, Garrett Graham, Cecil Shorts, and Ryan Griffin 1. ... Hopkins was already in great shape from a usage standpoint with Hoyer under center, but the fact that he immediately asserted himself as Mallett's go-to guy can't hurt. All six of Mallett's throws directed at Hopkins were complete for gains of 8, 14, 12, 17, an 8-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion. Carolina's coverage can be stiff keyed by underrated LCB Josh Norman, but Hopkins is a borderline WR1 on volume alone. ... The Texans started Washington over Shorts in Week 1, but Washington and Shorts logged almost the exact same snap count. Washington was the preferred target of Hoyer in the first half. Especially considering Washington had just one catch in the final two quarters, the pecking order could change with Mallett now quarterbacking Houston's offense. Until we get more data, I would not want to trust Washington or Shorts as a Week 2 fantasy start. ... The Texans' tight ends played minimal roles in Bill O'Brien's offense last year, and it looks like that'll be the case again this season. Even in a Week 1 game where Hoyer and Mallett combined for 47(!) pass attempts, Graham, C.J. Fiedorowicz, and Griffin combined for six targets and two catches.
Score Prediction: Panthers 24, Texans 17
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
After a dismal opener, the Vegas line makers expect a Week 2 bounce back for the Saints' offense. Facing a Bucs "defense" that Marcus Mariota showered with four TD passes in his first NFL start, New Orleans is a whopping 10-point favorite with a 28.5-point team total. Stack your lineup with Saints. ... One of fantasy's strongest Week 2 running back plays is Mark Ingram, taking on a Tampa team that last week surrendered 123 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to Bishop Sankey, Terrance West, and Dexter McCluster (4.56 YPC). Whereas Ingram managed nine carries as the Saints played from behind in last week's loss to Arizona, positive game flow should allow Ingram to pile up rushing attempts in this one. His increased usage in the passing game is icing on the cake. ... We'll get more info on the Week 2 availability of C.J. Spiller (knee) following Friday's practice. My early guess is he will not play against the Bucs, and even if he does he'd be hard to trust after missing almost all of training camp. Much more so than Ingram, Spiller's return would pose a big threat to the usage of Khiry Robinson, who rotated with Ingram in last week's loss to Arizona, playing 36% of the snaps and gaining 70 yards on 13 touches. Robinson would be a lower-end flex option if Spiller doesn't dress.
Friday Update: Spiller (knee) was listed as questionable/limited on Friday's injury report, a designation that provides no real clarity on his Week 2 availability. A little birdie familiar with the Saints' plans did tell me that Spiller was involved in the team's game-plan install portion of Friday's practice, and Spiller is likely to play against the Bucs. I think we'll see Spiller mix in for 6-9 touches behind Ingram, limiting Robinson's usage much more so than that of New Orleans' bellcow and goal-line back. Ingram is a strong Week 2 fantasy start. Spiller isn't this week, but could become one by as soon as Week 3.
New Orleans' weak pass-catching cast may be problematic for Drew Brees all year, but he should be viewed as a high-floor QB1 in season-long leagues and rock-solid DFS cash-game option versus Tampa Bay. In last week's embarrassing 42-14 loss to the Titans, Lovie Smith's defense generated just two hits on Mariota, whom PFF charted as "under pressure" on only four dropbacks. Even with a suspect supporting cast, Brees ought to be a shoo-in for a multi-TD game. ... Brees' Week 1 target distribution: Ingram 9; Brandin Cooks 8; Brandon Coleman and Marques Colston 7; Robinson 6; Ben Watson 5. ... Cooks had a quiet opener (4-49), but did burn Patrick Peterson for a 30-yard gain and played 99% of the Saints' snaps. Now taking on a Bucs defense that Kendall Wright rinsed (4-101-1) in Week 1, Cooks makes for an enticing DFS stack with Brees. It's notable that through 11 career NFL games, Cooks has averaged nearly 18 PPR points at home versus 9.8 PPR points on the road. The Saints, of course, are at home this week. ... Just as he did this preseason, Coleman played ahead of Colston last week. Coleman logged a 78% snap rate to Colston's 62% and posted a 4-41-1 line to Colston's 3-29 on the same target count. While Coleman is firmly in the WR3 discussion, 32-year-old Colston continues to look out of gas. ... Hill only played 24% of the Saints' Week 1 snaps, seeing zero targets. Watson is in control of Saints tight end duties, starting and handling a 92% snap rate at Arizona. Watson should be in consideration for TE1 streamers against a Bucs defense that permitted a combined 4-61-1 receiving line to Titans tight ends last week and has historically been vulnerable to tight ends in Lovie's Tampa-2 scheme.
It's worrisome for the Buccaneers that their Week 2 team total is just 18.5 points against a defense as leaky as the Saints'. Then again, it should be expected after Tampa's offense managed 14 points at home against the Titans last week, seven of which came in fourth-quarter garbage time of a 42-14 beatdown. Bucs fans need to hope Jameis Winston makes incremental strides over the course of his rookie season. Fantasy owners need to stream defenses against Winston. ... Doug Martin's ADP skyrocketed all August, driven by the logic that Martin "looked good" in preseason games. Martin did look good, but his team is awful, and that can crush the fantasy outlook for any runner regardless of talent level. The Bucs' offensive line got bulldozed by Tennessee in last week's loss, while Martin was rendered a non-factor by game flow as Tampa Bay's defense hemorrhaged points. Not a passing-game back, Martin got out-snapped by Charles Sims in catch-up mode. Until the Bucs get better, Martin is going to have weeks where he legitimately hurts fantasy owners because he isn't even in the game. At the Superdome, Martin is a boom-or-bust RB2 whom the Vegas line suggests is likely to bust.
Winston's Week 1 target distribution: Vincent Jackson 11; Austin Seferian-Jenkins 7; Sims 5; Adam Humphries 4; Louis Murphy 3; Martin and Bobby Rainey 1. ... While still something to consider, those target totals may be deemed irrelevant looking toward Week 2 with Mike Evans (hamstring) set to return. Evans practiced all week and on Thursday deemed himself "100%" healthy. If he truly is, Evans has a great matchup against a Saints defense missing top CB Keenan Lewis (sports hernia), FS Jairus Byrd (knee), and Byrd replacement Rafael Bush (torn pec) in a game where Tampa Bay projects to be trailing and dialing up pass attempts. ... After an inefficient 2014 season, V-Jax remained inefficient in the opener, managing 51 scoreless yards on his team-most 11 targets. It's commonly a bad sign when aging receivers can't parlay opportunities into yards and fantasy points. Jackson is 32 1/2 years old. Now sure to lose volume with Evans back, V-Jax is a shaky WR3 even in a plus matchup. ... Although one of his TDs occurred in garbage time, it was promising to see Seferian-Jenkins log an 80% Week 1 snap rate and go berserk (5-110-2) against the Titans. In Week 2, "ASJ" will face a Saints defense that yielded a combined 5-86-1 receiving line to Cardinals tight ends last week, including blocker Darren Fells' 4-82-1 pummeling of Saints rookie DB Damian Swann and WLB David Hawthorne. Seferian-Jenkins is a low-end TE1 with room for growth.
Score Prediction: Saints 30, Buccaneers 20
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San Francisco @ Pittsburgh
The left-for-dead 49ers shocked the world in their dominant Week 1 drubbing of the Vikings. They enter Week 2 in a prime letdown spot. Six-point road dogs coming off an emotional national TV win and playing on a short week, San Francisco's team total is under 20 points, even against Pittsburgh's swiss-cheese defense. ... Impacted by recency bias in addition to his reasonable cost, Carlos Hyde will be an extremely popular Week 2 DFS play. Hyde's floor is raised by Reggie Bush's calf injury, which will increase Hyde's workload and quite likely his passing-game usage. While Hyde has entered the RB1 realm in season-long leagues, this game's Vegas line plus the matchup have me approaching "El Guapo" with caution in daily fantasy. Pittsburgh's big weakness is in the air; last year's Steelers ranked a respectable 17th in run-defense DVOA versus 30th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense metric. In Week 1, Pittsburgh limited Patriots running backs to 70 scoreless yards on 20 carries (3.50 YPC). Fire up Hyde confidently in your re-draft leagues. You may want to tread lightly in DFS.
A Colin Kaepernick-Anquan Boldin stack would be the ultimate DFS contrarian play while the public jumps on Hyde. Or, if you're understandably skittish on underachiever Kaepernick, just go with Boldin as an affordable WR3/flex. Pittsburgh's defensive backs were skewered in the NFL opener, coughing up 288 yards and four touchdowns while Tom Brady completed over 78% of his throws. Pro Football Focus charted Steelers DBs Antwon Blake, Cortez Allen, and Will Allen with six missed tackles combined. Particularly if the 49ers trail in this game and Boldin piles up targets, "Q" should go to work after the catch. ... Kaepernick's Week 1 target distribution: Vernon Davis 6; Boldin 5; Garrett Celek 4; Torrey Smith 3; Hyde and Bruce Ellington 2; Jarryd Hayne 1. ... Combined with his 99% snap rate, Davis' team-target high was promising to see. Unfortunately, Davis committed an ugly first-half drop while losing five targets to rotational TEs Celek and Vance McDonald. Even in a great matchup against the Steelers, Davis is a dart-throw streamer only in Week 2. ... Signed by San Francisco to a five-year, $40 million deal in free agency, Smith played just 60% of the 49ers' Week 1 snaps and saw three targets, catching one for 11 yards. As he usually does, Smith will mix in some big games over the course of the year. You're on your own trying to predict when they'll occur.
Including playoffs and regular season, the Steelers have played five games without Le'Veon Bell over the past two years. They've gone 0-5 and averaged 16 points per game. The Steelers are 19-10 with a 26.7 points-per-game average when Le'Veon plays. Bell will miss one more week, while Martavis Bryant has three games left on his own suspension. Expectations for Pittsburgh's offense should be tempered in the meantime. ... While the Steelers' nearly 26-point team total theoretically bodes well against the 49ers, I don't think Ben Roethlisberger can be trusted as more than a fringe QB1 until critical passing-game weapons Bell and Bryant return. It doesn't instill confidence in Big Ben that San Francisco physically imposed its will on Week 1 foe Minnesota, holding Teddy Bridgewater to 231 scoreless yards on 32 attempts last Monday night, along with five sacks taken and an interception. ... One positive that came from Pittsburgh's opening loss to New England was its run blocking. While Maurkice Pouncey fill-in Cody Wallace remained a liability at center, the Steelers were otherwise able to move the Patriots' talented defensive front on the ground, consistently creating alleys for DeAngelo Williams. It was frustrating that Williams was repeatedly pulled in scoring position, but he played 84% of Pittsburgh's snaps and parlayed 22 touches into 132 yards. Seeing legitimate every-down-back usage, Williams is an RB2 against the Niners. The Steelers' ability to create running lanes also bodes well for when Le'Veon returns.
Big Ben's Week 1 target distribution: Antonio Brown and Heath Miller 11; Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey 7; Williams 1. ... Nothing of special note stands out about Brown's Week 2 matchup, but Pittsburgh's high Vegas point total and the 49ers' relative inexperience at cornerback beyond Tramaine Brock should set up Brown for his routine big game. Being virtually uncoverable also helps. ... At least until Martavis Bryant returns, it would make a lot of sense for the Steelers to keep involving Miller heavily in their passing game, just as they did at New England. Miller is at least a reliable pass catcher, while Wheaton and Heyward-Bey are obvious duds. Across the league, only Tyler Eifert (12) saw more opening-week targets than Miller, who is an underrated if low-ceiling TE1. ... A complete fantasy tease, Wheaton has now played seven games without Martavis in the lineup the past two seasons. Wheaton has secured 27-of-46 targets for 332 scoreless yards, good for a 3.9-catch, 47.4-yard average without a touchdown. He's a WR4, and will be a WR5 when Martavis comes back.
Score Prediction: Steelers 23, 49ers 20
Detroit @ Minnesota
As both teams return from disappointing Week 1 defeats, Lions-Vikings offers a sub-par 43.5-point Vegas total with host Minnesota favored by 2.5. ... This is still a prime bounce-back spot for Adrian Peterson, who managed 52 scoreless yards in last Monday's loss to the 49ers while shaking off rust and adjusting to OC Norv Turner's more shotgun-oriented offense after not playing in the preseason. Peterson still flashed burst and power on contact, and I'd expect him to be fine going forward. With the speed bump behind him, A.P. should be treated as a locked-in RB1 and potentially low-owned DFS play against a Lions defense still missing WLB DeAndre Levy (hip). Detroit allowed 97 yards and two TDs on 28 runs to Chargers tailbacks last week. ... The Lions were considerably leakier in the air at San Diego. Keenan Allen (15-166), Stevie Johnson (6-82-1), and Ladarius Green (5-74-1) all churned out big box scores as Philip Rivers topped 400 yards. Relentlessly torched by Allen on in-breaking routes, 35-year-old RCB Rashean Mathis showed his age, while LCB Darius Slay suffered an ankle injury and was limited in practice this week. This is a plus matchup for Teddy Bridgewater as a two-QB-league start and low-end streamer. Keep in mind Minnesota only ran 54 plays in Week 1 as the Niners dominated clock. The Vikings will regress positively in offensive volume after averaging 62 plays per game last year, and that will help the production of their skill players.
Bridgewater's Week 1 target distribution: Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph 7; Jarius Wright 4; A.P. and Charles Johnson 3; Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata 2. ... Quiet last Monday night, Johnson is in a good rebound spot against Mathis, whom Pro Football Focus charted with nine receptions allowed for 85 yards on Opening Day. Johnson is still more of a fantasy WR3/4, but offers WR2 upside in plus matchups. This could be one. ... Wallace's outlook will get a boost if Slay is at all limited. That would force Detroit to turn to 30-year-old journeyman slot CB Josh Wilson outside with Nevin Lawson or sixth-round rookie Quandre Diggs playing inside in nickel sets. For now, at least, Wallace looks to have a more voluminous passing-game role than Johnson, though that's based on a one-game sample size. I'm viewing Wallace as an every-week WR3. ... Clearly missing all-purpose playmaker Levy in pass coverage against San Diego, the Lions had trouble with Antonio Gates fill-in TE Ladarius Green. Coming off a five-catch opener, Rudolph is worth serious consideration as a low-end TE1 in this game.
The Vikings' defense enters Week 2 on a short week after getting shellacked by Carlos Hyde & Co. last Monday, eviscerated to the tune of 32-189-2 by 49ers tailbacks, excluding Colin Kaepernick's 41 rushing yards. In Week 1, Ameer Abdullah led Lions backs in snap rate (45%) and touches (11), parlaying them into 94 yards and a 24-yard TD. Detroit's backfield is very much an RBBC, but Abdullah is the strongest play of the lot and safe to install as an upside RB2 in this favorable matchup. ... Joique Bell played 36% of the Lions' Week 1 downs, managing 41 scoreless yards on eight touches and losing early-game work to Zach Zenner. Theo Riddick played just 17% of the snaps and touched the ball twice. Barring an injury to lead runner Abdullah, Bell, Zenner, and Riddick will likely work to cancel each other out in weekly box scores. Bell does have some value in TD-heavy leagues as the probable favorite for goal-line carries. But he is not a recommended Week 2 flex. ... Matthew Stafford returns from an uneven opener to face a Vikings defense that played the pass better than the run last season under Mike Zimmer, and was again exposed on the ground in Week 1. In last year's two meetings with Zimmer, Stafford went 36-of-61 (59%) for 338 combined yards (5.54 YPA) and two touchdowns. Stafford is best viewed as a mid-range to high-end QB2 in Week 2.
Stafford's Week 1 targets: Golden Tate 8; Eric Ebron 5; Abdullah and Calvin Johnson 4; Bell, Riddick 2. ... After the Chargers held Johnson to a 2-39-0 line on four targets, coach Mike McCoy explained San Diego sold out to stop him by using a "light box" in order to devote "resources" (specifically RCB Brandon Flowers and FS Eric Weddle) against Detroit's top wideout. In Week 15 last season, the Vikings deployed Xavier Rhodes in shadow coverage of Megatron, holding him to 53 yards on six targets. Part of me wants to fire up Johnson as a DFS play whom others may avoid after his slow opener. Another part of me is concerned with Rhodes' coverage. Johnson is a high-end WR1 regardless of matchup in season-long leagues, but he's a tricky daily-fantasy investment this week. ... Tate was bottled up by LCB Jason Verrett and slot CB Patrick Robinson last week, managing 24 yards on eight targets. Tate's Week 2 box score should be stronger if Rhodes follows Megatron; last Week 15, Tate piled up seven catches and scored a seven-yard TD with Rhodes on Johnson. With Megatron healthy, Tate is more of a WR2/3 than the clear-cut WR2 he was commonly drafted as, but I think he'll return WR2 value in this particular game. ... Ebron played 64% of the Week 1 snaps, turning five targets into 53 yards and an 18-yard TD. It was a step in the right direction for the oft-frustrating Ebron, who is at least in the back-end TE1 conversation. I still think Ebron would probably need a Johnson or Tate injury to be approached as a reliable week-to-week play.
Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 21
Arizona @ Chicago
Cardinals-Bears has a modest 46-point Vegas total with visiting Arizona favored by 1.5. The Cards' offense will take on a slightly new look with Andre Ellington (PCL) expected to miss 2-3 games, and Chris Johnson and David Johnson replacing him. The box-score beneficiaries could be in the passing game, where more will be put on Carson Palmer's plate with Arizona missing its lead runner. Just like last week, Palmer has a gorgeous matchup facing a Chicago defense Aaron Rodgers just got done spraying with three touchdown passes while absorbing zero sacks. As is often mentioned in these Matchups columns, Palmer can go toe-to-toe with almost any quarterback in the league from a passing standpoint when his pocket is clean. He should have a clean pocket at Soldier Field and is a strong QB1 in both season-long leagues and DFS. ... On Monday, coach Bruce Arians deemed Chris Johnson Arizona's "lead dog" in the absence of Ellington. Chris played well ahead of David Johnson in the opener, handling a 29% snap rate and ten touches to David's 8% and one touch, which of course went for a game-sealing 55-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. We'll see more of David against the Bears, but his role lacks clarity, as does the effectiveness of 30-year-old Chris. While David offers more forward-looking upside, Chris is the preferred RB2/flex at Soldier Field.
Palmer's Week 1 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 8; John Brown 7; Darren Fells 5; Ellington and J.J. Nelson 3; David Johnson 2; Chris Johnson, Jermaine Gresham, and Michael Floyd 1. ... Fitzgerald was fantastic in last week's win over the Saints, shredding CB Brandon Browner for clutch chunk-yardage plays en route to 87 yards on six catches. Fitz may slow down over the course of his age-32 campaign, but he's an underrated WR2/3 in a plus matchup with the porous Bears. Mostly a slot receiver these days, Fitzgerald will see a ton of slot CB Sherrick McManis, a special teamer throughout his six-year career. ... Brown looked poised for a monster Week 1 when he posted a 4-46-1 stat line in one quarter versus New Orleans. Brown was targeted twice more in the end zone by Palmer -- one drawing a pass-interference flag to set up Ellington's goal-line TD -- but failed to make a catch thereafter. Still, Brown appears headed for a breakout season as Arizona's primary big-play weapon. Brown plays on both sides of the formation and should have success against Bears RCB Alan Ball and LCB Kyle Fuller, neither of whom is even a mediocre starter. ... While Fitz and Brown each handled over 93% of the Cardinals' Week 1 snaps, Floyd (hand) only played 15% and was targeted once. His role likely to expand gradually, Floyd is worth hanging onto as a WR5 but can't be trusted as a Week 2 play. ... Fells (4-82-1) had a career-best game against the Saints, but also shared time with Gresham, mostly blocks, and isn't worth streamer consideration.
Even as the Bears tried to "manage" him with 33 rushing attempts, Jay Cutler turned in a bumpy opener versus Green Bay. Poor decision making resulted in a critical fourth-quarter pick caught by Clay Matthews, while Cutler was often under duress as the right side of his line got dominated with Kyle Long struggling at his new right tackle spot, and Vlad Ducasse exposed at right guard. In last week's win over the Saints, Arizona's defense effectively eliminated the middle and deep portions of the field, forcing Drew Brees to dink and dunk. Never a disciplined passer, Cutler should be good for some costly mistakes if the Cards can execute a similar approach. The good news is the suddenly fast-paced Bears used a ton of no-huddle against the Packers and ripped off 71 plays, fourth most in the NFL in Week 1. Cutler should remain a useful two-QB-league option and streamer in easier matchups. ... After the Bears hired him as coach, John Fox referenced the "Keepaway" Cowboys as a template from which he planned to work when installing Chicago's offense. Last year's Cowboys led the NFL in time of possession, allowing their talent-deficient defense to be on the field for the fifth fewest plays in the league. Just like 2014 Dallas, the Bears were committed to the run game against the Packers, so much so that Matt Forte's 24 carries tied for his second highest single-game total since 2011. And Forte remained highly active in the passing game, catching 5-of-8 targets for 25 yards. For as long as his nearly 30-year-old body can handle it, Forte will log heavy usage. It's worth noting that the Cards coughed up 15 combined receptions to Saints running backs last week. Against highly aggressive defenses like Arizona's, opposing OCs tend to view running back pass plays as blitz beaters, especially in the screen game.
Cutler's Week 1 target distribution: Alshon Jeffery 11; Forte 8; Martellus Bennett 7; Eddie Royal 5; Marquess Wilson 2. ... Based on my own game watching, I'd estimate Jeffery (calf) played at no better than 75% last week. That didn't stop Cutler from forcing Jeffery the ball, resulting in a respectable 5-78 receiving line. This week, look for Patrick Peterson to shadow Jeffery just as he did to Brandin Cooks (4-49) in last Sunday's win over the Saints. Cooks did beat Peterson for a 30-yard reception early in the fourth quarter, but was otherwise held to 19 scoreless yards on seven targets. Based on size and playing style, I'd say Peterson (6'0/219) is a tougher matchup for Jeffery (6'3/216) than he was for lightning-quick Cooks (5'10/196). While Jeffery remains an every-week WR1/2 in season-long leagues, he's a tougher DFS sell until he clearly shows he's healthy. ... Royal's Week 1 was a letdown statistically (1-8), but he did start opposite Jeffery and played 84% of the Bears' snaps. There are some five-plus reception games in Royal's future. This could be one if Peterson contains Jeffery. I'm still not bullish on Royal as anything more than a back-end, low-ceiling WR3. ... Bennett has four-plus catches in 14 of his last 17 games and, historically, the Cardinals have had trouble defending the tight end because their blitz-heavy tactics frequently leave the middle of the field wide open. As he will be all year long, Bennett is a mid-range TE1 with top-shelf TE1 upside.
Friday Update: Already dealing with a calf injury, Jeffery experienced hamstring "tightness" following Thursday's practice, and did not participate in Friday's session. The Chicago media is calling Jeffery's hamstring injury a setback related to the strained calf. Listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, Jeffery's absence would upgrade the outlook for Bennett in particular. With Rob Gronkowski drawing a tough matchup at Buffalo, I may pivot onto Bennett as my go-to DFS tight end in 50/50 and head-to-head games.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 27, Bears 23
New England @ Buffalo
Facing their division rivals after a Week 1 upset of Indianapolis, the Bills are one-point dogs in a Week 2 game with a Vegas total of 45 points. The expectations for Buffalo's offense seem overly aggressive against a Bill Belichick defense that had nearly ten days to prepare for Tyrod Taylor's second NFL start. Expect Belichick to confine Taylor to the pocket and force him to make throws. While Taylor has done a good job in the pass game since arriving in Buffalo, my entirely feel-based prediction is that we'll see Taylor struggle versus the Pats. ... The Patriots got gashed on the ground two Thursday nights ago as DeAngelo Williams delivered a 21-127 rushing line in what was thought to be a tough matchup. It should be noted that New England essentially sold out to stop the pass at the expense of their run defense, leaning heavily on sub-package alignments that emphasized lightweight defenders. For instance, they used 6-foot-3, 262-pound rookie Geneo Grissom at defensive tackle. We'll likely see the Patriots' defense attack the Bills in heavier fronts this week. If New England indeed executes such a strategy, LeSean McCoy could be in for another long day following his scoreless, 87-yard opener. Especially after he couldn't practice Thursday due to an apparent hamstring setback, McCoy is a potential trap if you're using last week's data to drive belief in him.
Karlos Williams asserted himself as McCoy's top backup on Opening Day, parlaying six carries into a 6-55-1 rushing line and playing ahead of Anthony Dixon. Bryce Brown got cut this week. Williams makes for a solid McCoy handcuff and has lottery-ticket stash appeal in deeper leagues considering McCoy's recurring injuries. ... Taylor's Week 1 target distribution: Percy Harvin 5; McCoy and Charles Clay 4; Sammy Watkins 3; Robert Woods 2. ... Per Rotoworld's Graham Barfield, these are Watkins' last eight PPR weekly finishes dating back to 2014: WR58, WR63, WR88, WR18, WR78, WR20, WR40, WR114. While Watkins' matchup gets easier facing Malcolm Butler after Vontae Davis goose egged him in Week 1, I'd be very hesitant to trust Watkins as more than a dart-throw WR3 in a low-volume pass game where defenses haven't struggled to contain him. ... If you're starting Harvin against the Pats, you're probably just chasing points. On a weekly basis, complementary players Harvin, Clay, and Woods figure to essentially rotate decent games with no week-to-week predictability. Harvin secured all five of his Week 1 targets for 79 yards and a TD, but was off the field for nearly 40% of the Bills' snaps and benefited from Davis shutting down Watkins. Barring an injury to Watkins, I don't think Harvin, Clay, or Woods will ever be strong fantasy starts regardless of the opponent.
Favored by a point, the Patriots have a Week 2 Vegas team total of 23. Tom Brady was a vice-grip lock to shred Pittsburgh last week. He isn't going to repeat against Buffalo. In 14 career meetings with Rex Ryan defenses, Brady is 317-of-534 passing (59.3%) for 3,744 yards (7.01 YPA) with a 25:18 TD-to-INT ratio and 90.1 QB rating. Those are QB2 statistics. Brady is still a low-end QB1 this week, but expectations should be checked. ... These are Rob Gronkowski's last five stat lines against Rex's teams: 8-113-2 (2011), 6-78-2 (2012), 8-114 (2013), 5-68 and 6-31-1 (2014). You may notice they've gotten progressively worse. You may also notice that Gronk has stayed productive despite Ryan's scheming. Gronk may not be a great bet to finish as the overall TE1 this week, but you'd also struggle to rank anyone ahead of him going into Week 2. ... If Rex sells out to stop Gronkowski, Julian Edelman would theoretically be in a pretty good spot. It's worth noting, however, that Edelman has managed stat lines of 5-44 (2013) and 4-44 (2014) in his last two games against Rex. Edelman did have a 13-catch, 78-yard box score against Ryan's Jets in Week 2 of 2013, although Gronk didn't play in that game.
Brady's Week 1 target distribution: Edelman 12; Gronk 8; Dion Lewis 5; Danny Amendola 3; Brandon Bolden 2; Aaron Dobson and Scott Chandler 1. ... Lewis was the Patriots' feature back in the NFL opener against Pittsburgh, logging a 75% snap rate and 19 touches for 120 yards. Lewis was yanked at the goal line for Bolden, however, and LeGarrette Blount is back from suspension. While Lewis can officially lay claim to the "Vereen Role" in New England's offense, his weekly outlook is going to be dicey, and his TD-scoring potential is essentially nil. Lewis is just a PPR flex option at Buffalo, even with the Pats seemingly likely to game plan around the Bills' stout run defense. ... Blount has faced a Rex Ryan team three times the past two seasons. He's finished with rushing lines of 5-0, 1-4, and 4-11. While Blount should return as the favorite for goal-line carries in New England, there will be better weeks ahead to use him in fantasy. ... Amendola played 56% of the Pats' Week 1 snaps, while Chandler played 41%. Third receiver Dobson played 49%. One may tease with a decent game here or there over the course of the year, but you'll have trouble correctly pegging any of them as quality starts in a given week.
Score Prediction: Patriots 23, Bills 17
San Diego @ Cincinnati
Sunday's Bolts-Bengals game sports a solid 47-point Vegas total with Cincinnati favored by three. Coming off an emotional comeback win over the Lions and now traveling over halfway across the country, this is a potential letdown spot for San Diego. ... Probably the best bet to capitalize if such a scenario plays out is Jeremy Hill taking on a Chargers defense that yielded 70 yards and a TD on 15 carries (4.67 YPC) to Lions RBs last week. Hill lost more snaps than usual to Giovani Bernard in last week's 33-13 blowout win over Oakland, but should dominate Cincy's backfield more often than not this year. Hill still logged a 54% snap rate compared to Bernard's 43% and 19 carries to Gio's eight, also executing twice on short-yardage scores. Hill is a high-floor DFS play and high-end RB1 versus San Diego. ... Hill handled each of the Bengals' first seven running back touches against the Raiders, while Gio didn't get the ball until the second quarter and piled up seven of his 14 touches in the second half. The Bengals led 24-0 at the break. My sense is Bernard saw an increased role due to Cincinnati's big lead, but it's also conceivable OC Hue Jackson truly wants to try to rotate his backs. For now, I'm viewing Gio as a low-end flex only worth discussion in PPR leagues. ... After having Andy Dalton exposure in last week's Black Hole game, I'm fading him at home this week. Including playoffs, Dalton has faced Chargers DC John Pagano's defense three times over the past three seasons, completing 68-of-112 passes (60.7%) for 735 yards (6.56 YPA), and a 3:5 TD-to-INT ratio with a fumble lost. Dalton is best viewed as a mid-range QB2 option in Week 2.
Dalton's Week 1 target distribution: Tyler Eifert 12; A.J. Green 8; Gio 6; Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones 3. ... On Opening Day, the Raiders paid Eifert little mind while shading a safety toward Green's side, essentially doubling A.J. while Cincinnati's tight end ran free. As Eifert made Oakland pay dearly (9-104-2), don't expect future opponents to repeat that mistake. Expect a rebound from Green, whose stat lines in the aforementioned games against Pagano were 5-83-1, 9-85, and 3-34 despite Dalton's struggles. Situations like what happened with Eifert and Green tend to come full circle. The Chargers will now devote more attention to Eifert, and Green should eat. ... That isn't to diminish Eifert as a Week 2 start. He's a top-six fantasy tight end until proven otherwise and has a plus matchup against a San Diego defense that coughed up a 4-53-1 receiving line to Eric Ebron last week. ... Sanu got the start in two-wide sets against the Raiders, while Marvin Jones worked into three-receiver formations. Neither was a fantasy factor. This Sunday, expect Sanu and Jones to frequently draw versatile Chargers CB Jason Verrett in coverage. Verrett was fantastic in last week's win over the Lions, playing a major role in holding Golden Tate to 24 yards on eight targets. Verrett emerged from Week 1 with a top-five coverage grade among 97 qualifying cornerbacks at Pro Football Focus.
A Bengals team that last year ranked No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA limited Derek Carr and Matt McGloin to a combined 30-of-43 passing for just 203 yards (4.72 YPA), two touchdowns, and two turnovers in Week 1. Philip Rivers is obviously better than both Oakland quarterbacks, but this is still a difficult draw for San Diego's pass game. It can't help that the Chargers' team total is only 22 points. Rivers is a back-end QB1 in Week 2. ... Another "Danny Woodhead Game" seems likely at Cincinnati, which allowed the fourth most receptions in the NFL to running backs last season and the second most receiving yards, as noted by PFF's Pat Thorman. Including FBs Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale's production, the Bengals yielded a combined 13 catches for 94 yards and two TDs to Raiders running backs in Week 1. Woodhead led Chargers backs in snap rate (54%) during last week's win over Detroit, handled 16 touches, and dominated red-zone snaps ahead of Melvin Gordon, who hurt himself by losing a second-half fumble. Until Gordon gains back ground, Woodhead warrants every-week RB2 treatment in PPR leagues and is a worthwhile flex play in non-PPR. He's also underrated in DFS. ... While Gordon looked better running the ball against Detroit than he did this preseason, he played only 44% of the Chargers' snaps and was pulled for Woodhead in the red zone. San Diego's loss of mauling RG D.J. Fluker (ankle) is likelier to be felt by inside runner Gordon than Woodhead. In Week 2, Gordon will take on a Cincinnati defense that held Raiders backs to 55 yards on 15 runs (3.67 YPC) last week. I'd project Gordon's touches in the 13-16 range.
Rivers' Week 1 target distribution: Keenan Allen 17; Woodhead 7; Ladarius Green and Stevie Johnson 6; Gordon 3; Malcom Floyd 2; Branden Oliver 1. ... Against Detroit, Allen was every bit the target monster fantasy owners who drafted him hoped he'd be, incessantly flaming Lions RCB Rashean Mathis. Allen leads the league in targets entering Week 2. Allen's most common adversary Sunday figures to be Bengals RCB Pacman Jones, who is still playing at a reasonably high level but turns 32 later this month. At age 23, Allen is an every-week WR2 with WR1 upside. Jones did play a key role in holding Amari Cooper to 47 scoreless yards on nine targets last week. ... Johnson was my favorite Week 1 minimum-salary receiver in DFS. I'm going to fade Stevie this week, especially after his price increased. Johnson's matchup is also much tougher against stout Bengals slot CB Leon Hall. PFF charted Hall with just five yards allowed on five Week 1 targets. ... While Allen, Johnson, and Green all went off, Floyd was a non-factor against the Lions beyond a 29-yard hookup with Rivers, Floyd's lone catch of the game. Floyd is a low-volume vertical presence who should have some solid games this season, but they'll be virtually impossible to predict. Floyd recently turned 34. ... Long underutilized by the Chargers, Green finally made his presence felt in the opener, flashing his big-play ability en route to a 5-74-1 stat line while playing over 83% of San Diego's snaps. Green stands 6'6/238 with 4.56 speed. So long as his involvement continues to cooperate, Green should return fantasy TE1 value until Antonio Gates (suspension) returns.
Score Prediction: Bengals 24, Chargers 20
Tennessee @ Cleveland
Only two Week 2 games have lower Vegas totals than Titans-Browns, where the over-under is 41.5 with Tennessee listed as a one-point favorite. Cleveland actually opened as the favorite, but I'm guessing bettors pushed the line the Titans' way. While there's every reason to believe Marcus Mariota will be a quality NFL starter -- he already is, in my opinion -- point chasing last week's four-TD game is not advised in a likely low-scoring tilt with the Browns' stingy backend. Mike Pettine's unit ended 2014 ranked No. 2 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA and second in interceptions, and remained solid in the season opener, holding Ryan Fitzpatrick under 180 yards with no Jets receiver topping 62 yards. Tennessee is weak at wideout and Mariota's big Week 1 came against a Bucs defense that hasn't been able to stop the pass since Lovie Smith took over as coach. In season-long leagues, Mariota is best treated as a QB2 with QB1 upside. I don't think he's a locked-in starter quite yet. ... Pettine's defense is far more exploitable on the ground. Now missing edge-setter OLB Scott Solomon (ankle), Cleveland silver plattered 153 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries (4.78 YPC) to Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell last week. Keep in mind the Browns ranked dead last in the NFL in run defense in 2014. Playing only 39% of the Titans' snaps, Bishop Sankey was still spelled often by Terrance West and Dexter McCluster at Tampa Bay, but led the backfield in touches (14) and turned in the best rushing performance of his young career (6.17 YPC), which should lead to more usage this week. Sankey has earned RB2 treatment in this plus matchup.
West handled 13 carries in his Titans debut, but was repeatedly stacked up on runs in scoring position, lost a late-game fumble, and piled up five of his attempts in the fourth quarter of a 42-14 rout. West was not used in the passing game and warrants no fantasy consideration. ... Mariota's Week 1 target distribution: Kendall Wright and Sankey 4; Delanie Walker 3; Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter 2; Anthony Fasano 1; Dorial Green-Beckham 0. ... All Titans pass catchers have tough matchups against a Browns secondary that boasts Joe Haden and Tramon Williams on the corners, with playmaking Tashaun Gipson at free safety and Donte Whitner on the strong side. The exception is Wright, who totaled 90 yards from scrimmage and two TDs while catching six passes in last year's Week 5 date with Cleveland. Haden played in that game, but did not shadow Wright, who is moving around enough this season that he would be difficult for any cornerback to follow. ... Green-Beckham continues to offer the highest forward-looking ceiling in Tennessee's pass-catcher corps, but "DGB" worked as the No. 4 receiver on Opening Day, playing just 15% of the snaps. He has depth-chart climbing to do, but is a WR5 hold in re-draft leagues. ... Walker suffered a hand injury in Week 1 and was limited to 4-47-0 in last year's clash with Cleveland. If Walker plays, he'll be a low-end TE1. If he doesn't, the Titans plan to turn to Fasano and Chase Coffman in a tight end timeshare.
I've contemplated becoming a Browns fan this year because writing up their offense every week is a great time saver. Cleveland's Week 2 Vegas team total is barely over 20 points against a Titans defense that is short on talent. ... Continuing to show zero signs of a second-year step forward, Isaiah Crowell broke one eight-yard run in last week's pummeling by the Jets, and managed 12 yards on his other 11 carries. He was utilized in an even rotation with Duke Johnson, who rushed seven times for 22 yards but wasn't so much as targeted in the passing game despite that being Johnson's primary strength. Crowell played 49% of the snaps, Johnson played 44%, and Shaun Draughn mixed in for a handful. After their brutal Opening Day showing, it'd require an immense leap of faith to invest in Crowell or Johnson as a Week 2 start. I do believe Johnson will eventually take over as Cleveland's lead back and would keep him stashed in all leagues. ... Either Josh McCown (concussion) or Johnny Manziel (not good) will start at quarterback against the Titans. In a low-volume, inefficient passing game with a low Vegas total, don't go looking for "sleepers" in the Browns' receiver corps.
Score Prediction: Titans 23, Browns 13
Atlanta @ NY Giants
Falcons-Giants has the second highest Vegas point total of the week (51) with host New York as a 2.5-point favorite. That gives the Giants a strong team total of nearly 27 points. Last Monday night, Sam Bradford was a few drops and missed calls by the officials from having a monster game against the Falcons. Like the Eagles, the G-Men use up-tempo offense and now face an Atlanta defense playing on a short week in a road game. Eli Manning's Week 1 box score disappointed as slot man Preston Parker tallied three drops, but I like Manning's odds of getting back on track in this matchup. Eli may go low-owned on DFS sites, making him an attractive tournament option. ... The Giants utilized a three-man RBBC in their opener at Dallas. Lead runner Rashad Jennings logged 13 touches and played 34% of New York's offensive snaps. Shane Vereen mixed in for seven touches on 42% of the downs. Black hole Andre Williams managed 14 yards on six runs, was not targeted in the passing game, and finished with a 23% snap rate. It would be in the Giants' best interests to eliminate Williams from their running back rotation and ride the Jennings-Vereen tandem, but that's just a hope at this point. Jennings did hog goal-line work, scoring a one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and handling New York's final red-zone series. While the Falcons did well to hold Eagles backs under 4.0 combined yards per carry last week, this isn't a stout run defense. Jennings is a respectable low-end RB2/flex play against the Falcons. Vereen is only worth a look as a flex in PPR leagues until we see evidence of a larger role.
Manning's Week 1 target distribution: Odell Beckham 8; Parker 6; Vereen and Rueben Randle 5; Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells 4; Jennings 1. ... An intriguing DFS tournament strategy this week would be to stack QB-WR combos coming off slow Week 1s. Eli-Beckham suit that approach perfectly in an expected high-scoring game. Held to 44 scoreless yards in the opener, OBJ dusted the Falcons for a 4-44-1 line in his NFL debut last season in addition to drawing a long pass-interference flag despite playing only 53% of the snaps in that game. Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant's coverage is a concern, but I'd take my chances with Beckham if Trufant matches him one on one. I'm not worried about Beckham's disappointing Week 1. ... Although Randle was not listed on the injury report, NBC's Cris Collinsworth mentioned during last Sunday night's telecast that Randle is barely able to practice due to an unresolved knee issue. Randle has dealt with knee tendinitis dating back to college and had an especially bad flareup in training camp. This is a good-looking matchup for Roob on paper, but I want to see Randle produce before using him in fantasy. ... Donnell played only 68% of the Giants' Week 1 snaps and got blown up as a run blocker, while No. 2 tight end Fells handled 55% of the downs. Donnell-Fells has the makings of a tight end timeshare and, for now at least, a fantasy situation to avoid.
Coming out of Indiana, the primary concern on Tevin Coleman was his ability to move the chains as a runner. He was a boom-or-bust college back, accumulating the vast majority of his stats by winning open-field sprints against Big Ten defenders. In last Monday's upset of Philadelphia, Coleman indeed ran with toughness and grinded between the tackles, averaging 4.0 yards per carry on 20 attempts against a top-flight run defense behind Atlanta's makeshift offensive line. Coleman's shortage of passing-game involvement is a fantasy concern, but at this stage he is clearly Atlanta's lead ball carrier. Coleman is cheap on DFS sites and has a favorable Week 2 draw versus a Giants team that lacks quality run-defense personnel. He's in the RB2 discussion in non-PPR leagues and is a worthy PPR flex. A 4.39 speedster, it's only a matter of time before Coleman's big plays happen in Kyle Shanahan's outside-zone scheme. ... Whereas Coleman played 58% of the Falcons' Opening Day snaps and handled 20 touches, Devonta Freeman touched the ball 13 times -- gaining just 47 yards -- and played 36% of the downs. Freeman's night could've been far bigger, of course, had Matt Ryan not missed him on a designed shot play down the sideline. Regardless, Freeman is a change-of-pace and passing-down specialist for now, and players used in that capacity are rarely viable fantasy starters. Freeman is a difficult sell as a Week 2 flex play.
Utterly bereft of pass rush without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants didn't so much as get a hit on Tony Romo until there were four minutes left in the third quarter last Sunday night, before finishing sack-less as Romo completed 80% of his 45 throws. This occurred despite Dez Bryant's (foot) early exit. New York's defense is a sieve, and Matt Ryan shouldn't struggle to capitalize. He's a strong QB1 play. ... Ryan's Week 1 target distribution: Julio Jones 11; Roddy White 8; Freeman and Leonard Hankerson 4; Jacob Tamme 3; Coleman 2. ... Just as he'll be all season if he stays healthy, Julio was a fantasy week winner against Philly (9-141-2) despite having three bubble-screen receptions negated by penalties. Julio went 11-105 in last year's Week 5 meeting with the Giants. ... White played 84% of the Falcons' Week 1 snaps, reeling in four for 84 yards. White was held to 26 yards on two catches in the aforementioned 2014 Giants game, but benefits from Atlanta's tight end vacancy and is worth using as a lower-end WR3 in New York. ... A 68% player against the Eagles, Hankerson blocked well in the running game but took a backseat in the passing game. He likely won't be a fantasy option barring an injury to Jones or White. ... Tamme was the Falcons' primary tight end against the Eagles, with Levine Toilolo working in behind him and in "12" personnel. Tamme may contribute red-zone TDs here and there over the course of the season, but there are better TE1 streamers.
Score Prediction: Giants 28, Falcons 24
St. Louis @ Washington
Rams-Redskins has the second lowest Vegas total of Week 2 at 41 points, ahead of only Texans-Panthers. Even as 3.5-point dogs, the top fantasy players are on Washington's side, but the Skins' team total of under 19 is concerning for them. ... My favorite low-cost DFS receiver play in Week 1 was Stevie Johnson. With DeSean Jackson (hamstring) likely out for the next month, I'm all over Pierre Garcon. Garcon led the NFL in targets and catches in 2013 -- before D-Jax went to D.C. -- and could benefit if St. Louis' perennially stingy tight end coverage slows down Jordan Reed. Even in his disappointing 2014 campaign, Garcon touched up the Rams for a 9-95 stat line last Week 14 -- in a game D-Jax missed. As St. Louis primarily plays zone coverage in the secondary, Garcon should have voids to exploit. Last week, Jeff Fisher's defense yielded 20(!) receptions to Seahawks wideouts. ... Also working in Garcon's favor was Reed's addition to the injury report Thursday, where he was limited with a quad ailment. Still expected to play, Reed will be a strong TE1 start against the Rams. Kirk Cousins targeted Reed a team-high 11 times in last week's loss to the Dolphins, while Reed logged 86% of Washington's snaps. Especially with Jackson out, Reed should remain a ballhog.
Until D-Jax returns, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, and Jamison Crowder will all be in the mix for snaps opposite Garcon. Roberts figures to start against St. Louis, but Grant is a favorite of the coaching staff and fourth-round rookie Crowder could factor into the slot. Despite Jackson's early Week 1 exit, Roberts (4), Grant (2), and Crowder (1) all finished below five targets. ... The Redskins stayed committed to their running game in last week's loss to Miami, so much so that Alfred Morris compiled 121 yards on 25 runs, Alf's highest single-game carry total since the Shanahan era. Preseason star Matt Jones mixed in for six carries, gaining 28 yards and playing only 13% of Washington's snaps. Despite August rumors to the contrary, Morris is the Redskins' feature back until something changes. Morris' Week 2 outlook is rough, however. The Skins are underdogs by a fairly sizable margin -- a concern for a game-flow-dependent, two-down back -- while St. Louis held Alf to a putrid six yards on eight rushes in December of last year. Seattle's offensive line got dominated by the Rams' ferocious defensive front in Week 1, limiting Seahawks backs to 93 scoreless yards on 24 carries (3.88 YPC). Morris remains a shaky RB2. Jones is worth holding onto as an RB4/5 stash, but lacks standalone value.
Although the Rams scored 34 points in last week's upset win over Seattle, positive fantasy takeaways were few and far between. St. Louis won with trick plays and special teams. The Vegas line makers aren't buying the Rams as a suddenly potent offense, setting their Week 2 total at just over 22. I'd take the under against an underrated Redskins defense. ... Nick Foles' St. Louis debut was a mixed bag, showing a willingness to test vertically and deep down the seams, but also losing two fumbles and demonstrating erratic ball placement. Ryan Tannehill is a superior quarterback, and in Week 1 Washington's talented front seven all but shut him down, sacking Tannehill three times, forcing a fumble, and limiting Tannehill to checkdown-type completions. Still certain to serve a low-volume game-manager role, Foles is a two-QB-league option only. ... Last year's Redskins quietly fielded one of the NFL's top run defenses. That remained the case in Week 1, as Washington held the typically potent Dolphins backs to 53 scoreless yards on 14 carries (3.79 YPC). Back from his hamstring injury, Tre Mason is best viewed as a low-end RB2 but quality flex. He'll lose all passing-game work to Benny Cunningham, and managed a 20-66-0 rushing line against the Redskins in last year's Week 14 date.
Foles' Week 1 target distribution: Cunningham 7; Jared Cook 6; Tavon Austin 5; Stedman Bailey 4; Kenny Britt 3; Lance Kendricks 2. ... Brian Quick is St. Louis' most talented wideout, but he was a healthy scratch on Opening Day. I still think Quick is worth the wait in some 12- and most 14-team leagues, but wouldn't argue much if you're inclined to drop him. ... Coming off an 85-yard opener, Cook is worth a look as a Week 2 streamer. The Skins are injured and ineffective at safety, and Cook went 4-61-2 in these clubs' 2014 meeting. Jordan Cameron (4-73) led Miami in receiving against Washington last week. ... Austin started against Seattle, playing 80% of St. Louis' offensive snaps and making highlight reels with a 75-yard punt return touchdown in addition to a 16-yard rushing score. Austin netted -1 yards combined on his other five offensive touches, however, and is only a realistic option in return-yardage leagues. ... With Austin at Z, Britt is the Rams' X receiver with Bailey rotating into the slot. In theory, all of St. Louis' wideouts have plus Week 2 matchups against a Skins defense missing top CB Chris Culliver (suspension) and burnable even when Culliver plays. Still, this Rams passing game remains unlikely to produce a consistent week-to-week fantasy asset.
Score Prediction: Redskins 20, Rams 17
4:05PM ET Games
Miami @ Jacksonville
Fins-Jags has a Vegas total of 41.5 points with visiting Miami generously favored by six. That gives the Dolphins a team total of nearly 24. The projected game flow derived from the Vegas line suggests Lamar Miller should be a high-floor, borderline RB1 play at Jacksonville. Although the fantasy results were pedestrian, Miller played 81% of Miami's Week 1 offensive downs, handling 14 touches to backup Damien Williams' two. In last year's Week 8 date with Gus Bradley's Jags, Miller totaled 99 yards on 17 touches. Jacksonville did do an excellent job of defending the run last week, limiting Jonathan Stewart to 56 scoreless yards on 18 carries. While a huge game seems unlikely, this is at worst a solid spot for Miller. I'm considering him as a cash-game play in DFS. ... In the aforementioned Week 8 game last year, Ryan Tannehill went 16-of-29 passing (55.2%) for 196 yards, one touchdown, and one pick, adding 48 rushing yards against the Jaguars. Tannehill remained a short-area passer in last Sunday's win over the Redskins, missing several opportunities in the vertical game. This isn't a bad matchup for Tannehill, but it doesn't look like a particularly great one, either. He's on the QB1 fringe.
Tannehill's Week 1 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 12; Jordan Cameron 7; Rishard Matthews 6; Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills 3; Williams and Miller 1. ... As expected, Landry is already a target monster in OC Bill Lazor's quick-hitting passing attack. Landry is an every-week WR2 in PPR, and supplemented his Week 1 fantasy output with a 14-yard rushing attempt plus a 69-yard punt return score. Even with his role dramatically increased on offense, Landry remains a core special teamer. After LaMichael James' release, Landry may add kickoff returns to his game-day duties. ... Cameron looks like the No. 2 option in Miami's passing game, leading the team in Week 1 receiving against the Redskins and playing 98% of the snaps. So long as Cameron is healthy, he's a top-seven pass-catching tight end across the league and an every-week TE1 regardless of matchup. The Jags did hold Greg Olsen to one catch last Sunday, but the Fins have more weapons to defend than Carolina. ... The Dolphins' perimeter receiver situation remains a fantasy quagmire. At one point believed to be no higher than No. 5 on the depth chart, Matthews actually led the unit in Week 1 snaps. Jennings was second, and Stills third. Rookie DeVante Parker only played one down, but his role will grow steadily. Until someone emerges from the pack, this is a situation to avoid in start-sit decisions.
The Vegas line doesn't bode well for Jacksonville, which has the lowest team total of Week 2 at under 18 points. ... If you *only* watched Blake Bortles' first two NFL preseasons, you'd think he was a shoo-in for 2014 Rookie of the Year and the Jags are set for a long time at quarterback. If you *only* watched Bortles' to-date regular season performances, you'd think the Jaguars drafted a bust. Through 15 NFL appearances (14 starts), Bortles has a 58.6% completion rate, 6.00 YPA, and 12:19 TD-to-INT ratio with 60 sacks taken. Bortles was scattershot, frenetic, and unable to move the offense in last week's loss to Carolina, absorbing five sacks and wasting 13 targets on fifth-round rookie slot receiver Rashad Greene. This is an offense to stream defenses against. ... On a brighter note, T.J. Yeldon showed promise in the opener, moving the chains on the ground and largely operating as an every-down back. He played 63% of Jacksonville's snaps and handled 15 touches compared to change-up runner Denard Robinson's 24% snap rate, five carries, and two catches. Unfortunately, the inept, Bortles-quarterbacked Jaguars offense is a huge threat to Yeldon's fantasy ceiling this year. He's a mere flex play against Miami's talented defensive front.
Bortles' target distribution in Week 1: Greene 13; Allen Hurns 7; Allen Robinson 6; Yeldon 4; Robinson 2; Clay Harbor 1. ... Pathetically, small-and-slow rookie Greene managed 28 yards on 13 targets against Carolina before suffering back and head injuries. He was limited in practice this week and should lose slot duties to Marqise Lee whenever Lee returns from his hamstring injury. Lee was also limited in this week's practices. ... Robinson had a miserable opener, dropping two balls and securing 1-of-6 targets for 27 yards. Even if Bortles' struggles continue, there are better days ahead for Jacksonville's high-flying 22-year-old wideout. In Week 2, Robinson should get lots of chances against Dolphins nickel back Jamar Taylor, who plays right corner in sub-packages and coughed up seven catches on eight targets against the Redskins, per PFF's charts. Miami's RCB in base formations is Brice McCain, who stands 5'9/185 to Robinson's 6'3/220. While Robinson could be in for a long day if LCB Brent Grimes sticks to him all game, the Dolphins almost never use Grimes to shadow No. 1 wideouts. I still like Robinson as a WR3 play with WR2 upside. He's also likely to have minimal ownership on DFS sites, where Robinson's price may have hit its season low. ... Hurns primarily runs routes on Grimes' side of the field and therefore figures to see more of Miami's top cornerback. Hurns should be usable at some point in 2015, but I don't think he's a good fantasy play this week.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 23, Jaguars 17
Baltimore @ Oakland
The Ravens head to Oakland in a prime bounce-back spot after narrowly losing their opener 19-13 in Denver. Baltimore is a six-point road favorite in the Black Hole with a solid team total of 24.5 points. Not only were the Raiders shredded by Andy Dalton in Week 1, they lost FS Nate Allen (knee) to I.R./return and SS Charles Woodson to a shoulder injury. Per STATS, the Raiders were the only NFL team not to blitz on a single Week 1 snap. Decimated at safety and terrible at corner, Oakland's pass defense is a sitting duck, making a Joe Flacco-Steve Smith Sr. stack an attractive proposition in DFS tourneys. Flacco is a sneaky QB1 streamer in season-long leagues. ... Coming off an abysmal preseason, rookie Buck Allen's struggles continued in last Sunday's loss to Denver. Surprisingly given ten touches, Allen totaled 34 yards and averaged 3.33 yards per carry. With Lorenzo Taliaferro back this week, Allen deserves to quickly tumble down the depth chart. ... While Justin Forsett's fantasy owners should be disappointed he lost so much work to the rookie, Forsett did play 72% of Baltimore's snaps and compiled 18 touches, seeing seven targets in the passing game. Forsett is set up for featured duties in a far easier Week 2 matchup. In last week's blowout loss to Cincinnati, the Raiders' defense was gashed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries (4.67 YPC) by Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Bengals backs also combined for seven catches and 49 yards.
Flacco's Week 1 target distribution: Smith Sr. and Forsett 7; Crockett Gillmore and Kyle Juszczyk 4; Kamar Aiken 3; Michael Campanaro, Marlon Brown, and Maxx Williams 2; Allen 1. ... I love the way this game sets up for Smith Sr., Flacco's clear go-to passing option with first-round pick Breshad Perriman (PCL) out until October. PFF assigned coverage grades to 97 cornerbacks in the opening week. Raiders CB Neiko Thorpe -- who plays right corner in nickel packages -- came in 78th. LCB D.J. Hayden came in dead last. Smith should get a ton of chances against both. ... Aiken got the Week 1 start opposite Smith, but lost a yard on his lone reception and wound up essentially sharing time with Brown and Campanaro. Even in a great matchup, Baltimore's Nos. 2 through 4 receivers are hands off in fantasy leagues. ... Gillmore started over Williams in the opener and played 95% of the Ravens' snaps. Williams logged a 28% snap rate. Although Gillmore came up short against Denver (2-23-0), he was targeted by Flacco on a late-game end-zone pass and in Week 2 takes on a Raiders defense that Tyler Eifert flamed (9-104-2) in Week 1. Gillmore is worth low-end TE1 streamer consideration.
Derek Carr exited last Sunday's blowout loss to Cincinnati early with a throwing hand injury and didn't return, but he'll apparently start against the Ravens. This is a good spot for Baltimore's fantasy defense and a bad spot for Carr with Oakland's Vegas team total set at just 18.5 points. Playing at less than 100% on a low-scoring team against a solid pass defense, Carr is no more than a low-end two-QB-league option. ... The bad news is the Raiders, once again, showed themselves to be terrible in Week 1 against the Bengals. The good news for Latavius Murray is he was utilized as a three-down back, compensating for his low carry total (11) with seven receptions. If would-be passing-game specialist Roy Helu stays on the bench, Murray should see enough receiving involvement to maintain a high enough weekly floor to be treated as an every-week RB2. In all likelihood, Murray will again need heavy passing-game usage to pay fantasy dividends against the Ravens, who shut down C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman to the tune of 70 scoreless yards on 24 combined carries (2.92 YPC) in Week 1.
Carr's target distribution before he left the Week 1 game against Cincinnati: Amari Cooper 5; Murray 4; Michael Crabtree 2; Marcel Reece 1. ... Although Cooper's final box score (5-47-0) disappointed against the Bengals, he piled up five targets in the first quarter alone before Matt McGloin entered and started throwing footballs to people named Seth Roberts and Jamize Olawale. Cooper gets a very difficult Week 2 draw against Ravens shutdown corner Jimmy Smith, but Carr's return is good news for him, and Cooper should hold steady as a WR3 with WR2 upside driven by target volume alone. ... Dead-legged Crabtree allegedly had a great training camp, but he was silent throughout preseason and managed a 5-37-0 receiving line on eight Week 1 targets. I'll believe Crabtree is a factor when I see it. ... Mychal Rivera played 61% of the Raiders' Opening Day snaps and rotated with Clive Walford, who logged 36% of the downs. They caught one ball apiece and have no business on fantasy rosters.
Score Prediction: Ravens 27, Raiders 14
4:25PM ET Game
Dallas @ Philadelphia
The Vegas total on Cowboys-Eagles is 55.5 points, highest of Week 2 with host Philly as a five-point favorite. Narrative pushers will promote this as a DeMarco Murray "revenge game" after Dallas refused to pay him before Murray signed with their division rivals in free agency. While Murray will be a good bet for weekly TDs all season long, his Week 2 matchup isn't quite ideal against a Dallas defense that appeared rejuvenated by the healthy return of WLB Sean Lee in Week 1, holding Giants backs to 80 yards and a touchdown on 22 runs (3.64 YPC). I still like Murray as an RB1 in season-long leagues and upside play in DFS tournaments. ... While negative game flow limited Murray to 12 touches and a 46% snap rate in Week 1, Ryan Mathews mixed in for six touches on 20% of the snaps, and Darren Sproles logged 12 touches on 34% of the downs. The Vegas line suggests Philly should get positive game flow against the Dez Bryant-less Cowboys, which would lead to less work for pass-game specialist Sproles in particular. Sproles is a potential trap play this week. ... Sam Bradford's final Week 1 box score showed 336 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He should've had another touchdown on a play where Jordan Matthews clearly reached inside the pylon, but the officials missed it and the up-tempo Eagles hurried back to the line to execute a goal-line carry. Although Bradford's performance was ultimately imperfect, I saw what I needed to see to keep treating him as an every-week QB1. In Week 2, he'll face an injury-riddled Dallas defense missing top CB Orlando Scandrick (ACL/MCL) and nickel rusher Randy Gregory (ankle).
Bradford's Week 1 target distribution: Jordan Matthews 13; Sproles 9; Zach Ertz 8; Murray 5; Riley Cooper and Ryan Mathews 4; Miles Austin and Josh Huff 3; Nelson Agholor 2; Brent Celek 1. ... Matthews left yards and the aforementioned TD on the field in last Monday night's loss to Atlanta, but still emerged with a 10-102 receiving line, playing 85% of the snaps. Matthews should make a run at WR1 numbers this season and is a chalk play versus Dallas, which uses second-year UDFA Tyler Patmon at slot corner. Patmon stands 5'10/179 to J-Matt's 6'3/212. Matthews is a matchup nightmare as Bradford's go-to guy. ... Despite his slow opener (1-5), Agholor should be held onto in fantasy leagues. He started against the Falcons, played 80% of the snaps, and ran the second most pass routes on the Eagles (44), as noted by The Fake Football's Rich Hribar. Agholor is on the WR3 fringe against improved Cowboys LCB Brandon Carr, but it's just a matter of time before he becomes a big-time fantasy factor. ... Huff played only 49% of Philly's Week 1 snaps. Cooper played 58%, and Austin played 22%. Rotating role players tend to not make for reliable fantasy contributors. ... Benefiting from negative game flow, Ertz played more than I expected against the Falcons. He handled a 70% snap rate and ranked third on the team in targets. I'm just not sure Ertz will play that much on a regular basis when games are tight. After producing a 3-46-0 stat line, Ertz is on the low-end TE1 fringe.
Missing their alpha-dog X receiver, the Cowboys' offense will be far more condensed over the next few months. What's left is a host of role players at the skill positions, none of whom can match Dez Bryant's dominant big-play and red-zone ability. Last Monday night, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported an eight-week absence "would not be unexpected" for Dez. ... One of the league's better run defenses the past two years, Philly's front stayed stout in Week 1, holding Falcons backs to 98 scoreless yards on 30 carries (3.27 YPC). Joseph Randle operated as Dallas' lead back in the opener, with Darren McFadden mixing in for a couple of series and Lance Dunbar operating as the designated shotgun and two-minute back while also seeing a bevy of critical red-zone snaps. So long as he's leading the Cowboys in weekly touches, Randle will be in the RB2 conversation, even in tough matchups like this one. Dunbar has some low-end flex appeal in PPR leagues. McFadden is just a bench stash. ... While this game's high-scoring projection and his own top-end passing ability keep Tony Romo squarely in the fantasy QB1 conversation, missing Dez takes a big bite out of Romo's forward-looking touchdown projection. Bryant's 41 TDs the past three seasons lead the NFL during that span. Romo will have to make do as a dink and dunker. Philadelphia's defense is exploitable in the air, but Romo's week-winning performances are likely to be far fewer.
Romo's Week 1 target distribution: Jason Witten 9; Dunbar and Terrance Williams 8; Dez 7; Cole Beasley 6; Randle 3; Gavin Escobar 2; Devin Street and McFadden 1. ... Williams offers the best vertical skill set among what's left in Dallas' pass-catcher corps, but he can be a frustratingly up-and-down player, and is ill suited to a top-wideout role. Williams managed receiving lines of 2-38-0 and 2-19-0 in last year's two Eagles meetings. Williams is a worthwhile WR3 in season-long leagues, but he's a boom-or-bust investment in DFS whom I'd personally prefer to fade. ... Dad-runner Witten is nearing the end at age 33, but he's my bet to lead Dallas in receiving production until Dez returns. Witten caught eight balls and two touchdowns in Week 1 and had a seven-catch game against the Eagles last year. Witten is a mid-range TE1 who should mix in some top-five weeks. ... The Cowboys apparently plan to start Street in Bryant's place, which is probably asking too much. A second-year player out of Pitt, Street runs 4.55 at a lanky 6-foot-3, 198. He lacks the size-speed combo to win outside and the physicality to consistently work the middle portions of the field. Last Sunday night, Street's timidity showed on a seam ball that popped out of Street's hands on a hit by Giants S Brandon Meriweather and into the arms of CB Trumaine McBride, who nearly returned it to the house. Street is a borderline pickup in 12-team fantasy leagues. ... If Witten doesn't do it, slot man Beasley could be a sleeper to lead the Cowboys in catches until Dez comes back. Beasley is short on playmaking ability, but is a tough cover between the numbers. With LCB Byron Maxwell and RCB Nolan Carroll patrolling the corners, Philadelphia used stiff-hipped safety Malcom Jenkins to guard the slot last week. This is a plus matchup for Beasley.
Score Prediction: Eagles 28, Cowboys 23
Sunday Night Football
Seattle @ Green Bay
The 49-point Vegas total on Seahawks-Packers is third highest of what is expected to be a relatively low-scoring Week 2 across the NFL. The Packers are 3.5-point home favorites. Although I typically prefer to use Marshawn Lynch in DFS when he's at home with Seattle favored, I may veer from that approach on Sunday night. Green Bay was gashed by the Bears last week, serving up a 24-141-1 rushing line to Matt Forte. Including playoffs, Lynch faced Packers DC Dom Capers' defense twice last year, posting rushing lines of 25-157-1 and 20-110-2. It's worth noting that with third-down back Robert Turbin out of the picture, Lynch was targeted seven times in last week's loss to St. Louis, his highest single-game target total since November of 2011. (Lynch averaged three targets per game last year.) His PPR value on the rise, BeastMode should be a high-floor, high-ceiling RB1 at Lambeau Field. Lynch's matchup gets a slight boost after the Packers lost ILB Sam Barrington (foot) to I.R. in Week 1. ... Seattle's Week 1 offensive volume was inflated by a seven-play drive in overtime, but it's still notable that Russell Wilson's 41 pass attempts were a career high. Even if you disregard overtime, the Seahawks ripped off 72 plays from scrimmage, third most in the NFL in Week 1. Usually one of the league's slowest-paced teams, Seattle used no-huddle up-tempo late in the first half and throughout the final two quarters. This would be a very positive development for the fantasy value of Seattle skill-position players, and Wilson in particular. I think he's an every-week QB1 and intriguing DFS tournament option.
Wilson's Week 1 target distribution: Jermaine Kearse 10; Doug Baldwin 9; Jimmy Graham 8; Lynch 7; Tyler Lockett 4; Luke Willson, Fred Jackson, and Chris Matthews 1. ... Graham's three career receiving lines against Capers' Packers defense are 5-59-1, 7-76, and 4-56-1. Green Bay allowed a 5-55-1 line to Martellus Bennett on Opening Day. If Seattle keeps playing fast and loosening Wilson's pass-attempts leash, Graham will be a shoo-in to beat his pre-season detractors' fantasy projections this year. ... Even in an expected high-scoring game coming off a heavily-targeted week, Kearse isn't a compelling fantasy option. A well-below-average NFL starter, Kearse was limited to one catch for 35 yards when Seattle and Green Bay met in January's playoffs. ... Baldwin went 6-106 in that postseason game and warrants a look in WR3 slots, or as a DFS punt. By season's end, Baldwin should finish second on the Seahawks in targets behind Graham. ... Dynamic rookie Lockett played 70% of Seattle's Week 1 snaps, leapfrogging Super Bowl star Matthews. Lockett will struggle to become a consistent fantasy asset as the theoretically run-first Seahawks' third receiver, but he's worth stashing in 14-team leagues and starting in return-yardage formats. Lockett is handling both kickoffs and punts for the Seahawks and brought back a punt 57 yards to the house in last week's loss.
"Versus Seattle" always looks daunting on a sheet of paper, but the Packers are getting the Seahawks in a pretty nice spot. Not only does Green Bay have a Vegas team total of over 26 points, Seattle is missing difference-maker SS Kam Chancellor and typically isn't nearly as stout on the road. FS Earl Thomas is playing through a shoulder injury that limits his range of motion and consequently his ball skills, while the Seahawks' cornerback depth chart beyond Richard Sherman isn't nearly what it used to be. Seattle gave up 27 offensive points to the frickin' Rams last week. Season-long fantasy leaguers can start Aaron Rodgers confidently. ... Keep in mind this occurred against Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead, but Seattle's front seven remained stingy in last week's loss to St. Louis, limiting Rams RBs to 48 scoreless yards on 18 carries (2.67 YPC). In last year's two meetings with the Seahawks, Eddie Lacy rushed 33 times for 107 yards (3.24 YPC). The good news is Lacy averaged 18 touches in those games and his workload isn't in doubt. He's a low-end RB1 but probably someone to avoid in DFS.
Rodgers' Week 1 target distribution: Davante Adams 8; Randall Cobb 5; James Jones 4; Lacy and Richard Rodgers 3. ... On Opening Day, Sherman lined up at left corner in Seattle's base defense and moved to the slot in sub-packages, with RCB Cary Williams and LCB Deshawn Shead on the boundaries. If this alignment sticks and the Packers don't adjust, we can expect Sherman to cover Cobb on a ton of Week 2 snaps. Green Bay's offensive coaches are aware of this, of course. Don't forget that in Week 1 of 2014, the Packers used then-third receiver Jarrett Boykin to essentially occupy Sherman's coverage, while Cobb and Jordy Nelson ran in other areas of the field. While Cobb might not be a strong DFS play, I'd be hard pressed to simply assume the Packers won't adjust, and therefore bench Cobb in a season-long league. ... Immediately bypassing Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis for third receiver duties, Jones started against the Bears in Week 1, played 92% of Green Bay's offensive snaps, and made his presence felt in the red zone with touchdown catches from 1 and 13 yards out. Jones' usage and playing time are right where they need to be for Jones to be treated as an every-week WR3 with WR2 upside. If all of last week's alignments do stick, Jones will run most of his routes at shaky RCB Williams. ... Adams' Week 1 stat line (4-59-0) disappointed, but his team-high target count and snap rate (97%) did not. As the Packers line up in three-receiver sets as a base offense, Adams figures to run most of his patterns at LCB Shead, a special teamer and sometimes safety. ... Although TE Rodgers got the Opening Day start, he shared time with Andrew Quarless and wasn't a full-time player. Rodgers should deliver red-zone scores here and there over the course of the season, but he isn't a fantasy TE1.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Packers 24
Monday Night Football
NY Jets @ Indianapolis
The Vegas total on Jets-Colts is 47 points with host Indy favored by 6.5. Road dogs with barely a 20-point team total, this is a tricky game to navigate for Jets players. ... Chris Ivory was a Week 1 moneymaker in DFS and remains a quality RB2 against a weak Indy run defense, but there were concerns beneath his 100-total-yard, two-TD opener. Passing-down back Bilal Powell mixed in for 48% of the snaps in a game where the Jets were leading, also vulturing 14 touches and running effectively (5.17 YPC). Whereas the masses may hop on Ivory in daily fantasy this week, I'll be fading. Game flow could become problematic if the Colts' offense bounces back at home. ... Give the Colts' fantasy D/ST a long look in Week 2. Pick-prone Ryan Fitzpatrick figures to be forced to throw more than the Jets would like, while home teams installed as big favorites check a lot of boxes as defensive streamers. Indianapolis' defensive personnel is always a concern, but they have played stingy pass defense throughout coach Chuck Pagano's tenure with Vontae Davis shutting down an entire side of the field. Indy has ranked 13th and 10th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA the past two years.
Friday Update: Jets coach Todd Bowles revealed Friday that Ivory tweaked his groin in Thursday's practice. He was "limited" in Friday's session. While I'm firing up Ivory where I have him in season-long leagues, this is another red flag on his DFS outlook. Also sporting game-flow concerns, I think Ivory is a Week 2 fade in daily fantasy.
Fitzpatrick's Week 1 target distribution: Brandon Marshall 9; Chris Owusu 6; Powell 4; Eric Decker 3; Ivory 1. ... Marshall was a target monster in the opener and should be one all year, but his Week 2 matchup will be a challenge. Davis eliminated Sammy Watkins (three targets, zero catches) from the Bills' Week 1 offense and figures to shadow Marshall on Monday night. I'm firing up Marshall as a WR3 in season-long leagues, but holding my breath. My long-shot hope is that Davis sticks to one side of the field due to the Jets' four- and five-wide spread attack. ... Decker could theoretically benefit if Davis shuts down Marshall. Still, it's a concern that slot receiver Owusu out-targeted Decker in the opener, while fellow slot man Quincy Enunwa played 44% of the snaps. I'd still bump up Decker from a WR4 to a WR3 this week.
Sitting on a team total of nearly 27 points, the Colts seem poised to rebound offensively after a predictably sluggish Week 1, now facing a Jets defense short on edge-pass rushers and expected to be missing RCB Antonio Cromartie (knee). I'm guessing we'll see Darrelle Revis assigned to Andre Johnson if Cromartie can't play, which would upgrade the outlooks for Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, and the Colts' tight ends. ... While a bout with cramps cost him some Week 1 action, "pitch count" concerns on Frank Gore were realized against the Bills as he played just 43% of Indy's snaps and handled ten touches. The good news is Gore looked spry moving the chains between the tackles, while backup RBs Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga were ineffective in their chances. The bad news is the Jets' defense was impenetrable last week against the Browns, stuffing Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson for 42 scoreless yards on 19 carries (2.21 YPC). In brutal matchups like this one, Gore will need increased passing-game usage to pay fantasy dividends. He's a low-end RB2 in Week 2. ... Even in a bad game by Indy's offensive standards in Buffalo, Andrew Luck finished the week as a top-ten QB1 scorer. Luck can't be expected to tear it up Monday night, but Cromartie's absence would provide some relief, and the Colts' high team total is a positive indicator. Luck is an every-week stud.
Luck's Week 1 target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 14; Moncrief 11; Johnson 10; Dwayne Allen 6; Gore and Dorsett 3; Coby Fleener 1. ... Hilton's (knee) status is up in the air, and may not be determined until the Colts' medical staff puts him through a pre-game warmup on Monday evening. Hilton's availability or lack thereof has big fantasy implications, as Moncrief would likely become a -- or even the -- featured passing-game option, and Dorsett would play a lot more after logging a 22% snap rate in the opener. I'll put another update on the Colts' receiver situation below this paragraph before the game, but I think it would be best for fantasy owners to approach each member of the wideout corps with a lot of caution. At the drop of a hat, OC Pep Hamilton is capable of changing up his personnel packages with so many viable wideouts and pass-catching tight ends at his disposal, while the uncertain statuses of Hilton and Cromartie can drastically change the matchups and fantasy outlooks of Colts skill players. If forced to rank Indy's pass catchers for Week 2 at this very moment, I'd go with Hilton (assuming he's active) > Moncrief > Johnson > Allen > Dorsett > Fleener.
Friday Update: Hilton (knee) did not practice on Friday, which doesn't bode well for his chances of suiting up on Monday night. Cromartie (knee) is not expected to play. I'm still having a hard time navigating the receiver-defensive back matchups in this game from a Colts perspective. My dart-throw guess, as stated above, is that we see Revis on Andre Johnson with Moncrief as the best Week 2 fantasy option in Indy's wideout corps.
Score Prediction: Colts 24, Jets 17