NFL Week 2 fantasy football and betting dive with Matthew Berry originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Things move fast in the NFL, but things may even move faster in fantasy football. As Week 1 is officially in the rearview mirror, we look ahead to some of the top headlines heading into Week 2.
The first week of games was filled with excitement and joy to celebrate the return of NFL football, but we also saw a number of significant injuries to top fantasy players. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury, which required surgery. He’s set to miss the next three games but was able to stay off the IR. The 49ers received an early-season blow when RB Elijah Mitchell went down with a knee injury against the Bears. He’s expected to be out for at least two months.
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game. But the show must go on, and so we turn the page to the upcoming week. One way to workaround injuries in fantasy football is to play in as many leagues as you possibly can. Take it from NBC Sports fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry, who’s playing in 12 leagues this season. You read that correctly, 12 leagues.
“That’s the gig,” he said jokingly. “It’s hard to be a fantasy football analyst and not actually play fantasy football, right?”
He breaks down why it’s important to immerse yourself in as many leagues formats and fantasy football platforms as possible to be a well-informed analyst. He explains that trends differ between league formats and platforms so he feels it’s essential to be as involved as you can to provide educated advice. Twelve leagues may be a lot and seem like a full-time job, but hear him out.
Let’s look at Berry’s advice for Week 2 fantasy football lineups.
Should I start or bench these players in Week 2?
There is no secret that Cowboys backup QB Cooper Rush will be a downgrade for the Dallas offense after Prescott’s injury. Is it outrageous for fantasy managers to bench CeeDee Lamb against Cincinnati this week?
“I understand the concern and I think it’s real,” Berry said. “He’s too good. He’s going to get too high a target share.”
He may not be a top-five wide receiver until Prescott is back, but he’s going to be in the top 20 range.
Matthew Berry: Start CeeDee Lamb
James Robinson or Travis Etienne vs. Colts
With James Robinson outshining teammate Travis Etienne in Week 1, is Robinson the Jaguars RB you should start in fantasy?
“I think both guys are viable,” Pederson said.
With Doug Pederson now as the head coach in Jacksonville, he brings up the point that Pederson has shown before – during his time with the Eagles – that he likes to involve multiple running backs.
“I think there’s probably more upside with Etienne. Robinson is a little more touchdown-dependent and volume-dependent for his fantasy value,” Berry said.
Still, he thinks that if you’re a manager who either has both of these tailbacks on your roster or one of them, they’re both startable in Week 2.
Matthew Berry: Start James Robinson and Travis Etienne
Curtis Samuel at Lions
It was only right that the Washington Commanders (Berry’s favorite team) was brought up during this conversation. Curtis Samuel played well and was clearly Carson Wentz’s top target in Week 1. Is there a strong rapport there that could elevate Samuel’s fantasy value?
“I don’t think he can be the WR 1 because Terry McLaurin is there,” he said.
However, he does think that Samuel can turn into a dependable fantasy wide receiver as the season progresses. Samuel saw a team-high 11 targets against Jacksonville, so there is something there to build off of with Wentz. It’s not that long ago that Samuel saw fantasy stardom when he was with the Panthers, who were also coached by Ron Rivera and Scott Turner, the head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively, for the Commanders.
“Curtis Samuel’s versatility and speed was one of the reasons why coach Rivera and coach Turner wanted to get him to be a part of the Commanders,” Berry said.
It’s fair to say that they like him in Washington.
Matthew Berry: Start Curtis Samuel
Jeff Wilson Jr. vs. Dameon Pierce
With Mitchell set to miss some time, we take a look at one of the top waiver wire pickups this week and wonder if we can start Jeff Wilson Jr. over one of the more-hyped up running backs in the preseason.
“I would [start Jeff Wilson],” he said.
Berry currently has Wilson ranked as RB27 while having Dameon Pierce as RB37. He highlights how Wilson has shown flashes of high fantasy production, with recently dropping 20 or more fantasy points in four games back in 2020.
He is tempering his expectations for Wilson, though, since Deebo Samuel figures to be more involved in the backfield. He also brings up how the 49ers could have more design runs for their young QB Trey Lance.
Still, with Wilson set to be the starter in Week 2 and with Pierce's role and volume potentially being disrupted by veteran running back Rex Burkhead, it’s Wilson who should get the starting nod.
Matthew Berry: Start Jeff Wilson, bench Dameon Pierce
Life’s a risk - NFL betting value for Week 2
Fantasy football isn’t the only game in town. Nowadays, sportsbetting interest has immensely grown, so much so that we had to pick Berry’s brain to find betting value for some of the Week 2 games.
Packers (-10 spread, -550 moneyline) at Bears
With a double-digit spread in this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup, should bettors consider this bet?
Aaron Rodgers anytime TD + Packers to win (+660)
“I think that one might be tough because (A.J.) Dillon’s so good and they’ve been going run-heavy.”
Of course, there’s always a chance AA Ron (I mean Aaron) Rodgers could scramble to find the endzone, but that could be more of a sucker’s bet.
“I probably would take the over on A.J. Dillon rushing (yards) in this game and the over on Aaron Jones receiving (yards).” The over/under for Dillon rushing yards is currently set at 30.5
Matthew Berry’s pick: Aaron Jones receiving yards over 30.5 (-105)
A.J. Dillon rushing yards prop is currently unavailable on PointsBet.
Commanders (+1 spread, +105 moneyline) at Lions
For the first time in 24 games the Detroit Lions are not the underdogs ahead of their matchup.
“The disrespect is ridiculous,” Berry said. “My 1-0, undefeated Washington Commanders, first place in the NFC East [are] getting points from the winless Lions?!”
Berry wasn’t shy to say that he immediately jumped at the first chance he had to bet his Commanders to win on the road. He gets the whole culture change that’s going on with the Lions, but he still thinks Detroit has secondary deficiencies. He’s encouraged by what he saw in Week 1 from Washington, mostly the team’s willingness to throw the football a lot. He found the line at +2.5 but would still take it at +1.5 if you can find it.
“I am taking it personal,” he said. “It’s [like] the Michael Jordan meme.”
Matthew Berry’s pick: Commanders +1.5 (if you can find that number)
Patriots (-2 spread, -125 moneyline) at Steelers
The Steelers were able to come away with the win against the defending AFC champion Bengals and the Patriots lost their opener against the Dolphins. Yet, it’s the Steelers who enter this Week 2 clash as the underdogs at home.
“It’s a weird [line],” Berry said. “I know the betting markets really like Mac Jones.”
Yes, it’s an odd line. It almost makes you think about what insight do the sportsbooks know that the general public doesn’t.
The Steelers looked like the better team of the two in Week 1. Is this a Bill Belichick vs. Mike Tomlin thing? Are the books foreseeing Belichick wreaking havoc on Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky? That being said, Berry is on board with taking the points with the Steelers at home.
Matthew Berry’s pick: Steelers +1.5 to +2.5