Week 2 fantasy football power rankings and full slate guide

Cleveland Browns wide receiver <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/27591/" data-ylk="slk:Jarvis Landry">Jarvis Landry</a> is primed to push for a top-five receiver finish in Week 2 (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry is primed to push for a top-five receiver finish in Week 2 (AP Photo/David Richard)

Here, I’ll run through every Week 2 game and rank them from best to worst from a fantasy perspective. We’ll also look at betting lines to project possible winners and game script, and examine one key matchup to watch in each game.

1 – Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 53.5
Favorite: Steelers (-4.5)

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Here’s your “everyone in the pool” game of the week. The Chiefs matchup with the Steelers currently carries the highest projected total of the Week 2 slate and has actually gone up from its 50-point open. Pittsburgh’s offense predictably flopped in last week’s 1:00 pm EST road start but have a pillow-soft landing spot here. The Chiefs defense was as generous as expected in Week 1, ceding 418 passing yards and three scores to Philip Rivers. It’s all too predictable for the Steelers to bounce back and win this home game. Patrick Mahomes and company struck hard on the high-end of their range of outcomes in Week 1. They should have no problem reciprocating their end of the shootout. With points expected to rain and in light of his disappointing Week 1, Kareem Hunt makes for a prime contrarian play in DFS. No one will want to play Hunt at $29 with the other options in that range, and he was still on the field for over 70 percent of Kansas City’s Week 1 snaps.

Matchup to watch

The Chiefs got ripped up by running backs in the passing game last week. Kansas City allowed an NFL-high 14 catches for 189 yards to the combination of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. As many before him have, James Conner stepped right into Le’Veon Bell’s vacated workload in the passing game. Conner finished third on the team with a 14.6 percent share of the targets. Not only will the matchup be consequential for this contest, we need to monitor this for exploitation in future weeks. Conner can further cement his status as an RB1 workhorse. The Chiefs can affirm this as a weakness that upcoming opponents (49ers, Broncos, Jaguars, Patriots) should take advantage of.

2 – Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 49.5
Favorite: Saints (-10)

Week 2’s betting line looks painfully similar to what was expected from the Saints in Week 1; a massive home favorite in a high-scoring contest. New Orleans will have to hope for a better result this time around after letting the Bucs steal a road win. The Saints offense should continue to roll, even though the Browns showed they have two defensive cornerstones in Week 1 with Denzel Ward and especially Myles Garrett. Alvin Kamara ran more routes than any other running back in the first week of the season and Michael Thomas drew 11 of his 17 targets from the slot, hauling in 10 of them. The young, electrifying offensive pillars of this team are being used to maximum efficiency. Cleveland showed offensive life in the first week of 2018, even if it wasn’t as clean as they’d have liked. A shootout is in play here, especially if the Saints build an early lead. Tyrod Taylor hit 40 pass attempts last week, something he’d done just once since becoming a starter in 2015. For better or worse, the Browns have no hesitations with letting him cut it loose.

Matchup to watch

The Browns are not using Landry as a glorified third-down back like the Dolphins obsessively did during his Miami stint. Landry owned a 52.8 percent market share of the Browns air yards in Week 1 and carried an averaged depth of target over 14 yards. He’s running real downfield routes and winning on those chances. Of course, he’s still primarily a slot receiver, taking 63 percent of his snaps inside and gathering 11 of his 14 targets. But more vertical routes from the slot — not just little Miami-style layups — are far more optimal. New Orleans just allowed a 58-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson from the slot last week. With this new usage and a date with the Saints in a possible high-scoring affair, Landry could push to be the top-scoring receiver in Week 2.

3 – Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 47.5
Favorite: Washington (-5.5)

The Colts road trip to Washington could bring far more fantasy goodness than most expect. Washington’s offense went up and down the field against a lifeless Cardinals squad in Week 1. Alex Smith looks like a perfect fit for the offense as an extension of the coach on the field. While Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson have long odds to remain healthy, both are in peak form right now and that makes this offense one of the most talented groups in the NFL. On the other side of the field, the Colts can chase their way into turning this game into a shootout as long as their pass protection cooperates. We know the team has major issues on the offensive line but Luck can still thrive when rushers are kept at bay. Luck posted a gaudy 84 percent of his passes when kept clean in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus. Washington has a criminally underrated pass rush unit that saw Sam Bradford post a 7.6 passer rating under pressure last week, and if anyone wrecks this possible shootout, it’s them.

Matchup to watch

When either team has the ball, keep your eye on the backfield. The Colts running back group looks like a potential quagmire, but Nyheim Hines (20) and Jordan Wilkins (17) were both top-seven in routes ran among Week 1 backs. A passing game role in this offense — which is likely to play from behind for most of the year — would be huge for whoever holds the job down. Washington’s backs are in fantastic spots as well. Chris Thompson led the team in targets in Week 1 and gets a Colts defense that just gave up six catches for 65 yards to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Fresh off a 28-touch day, Adrian Peterson should dominate in a game where Washington is a 5.5-point home favorite facing a soft defense.

4- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 44
Favorite: Eagles (-3) 

It’s tough to get a read on this game. The Eagles offense looked undermanned in Week 1 while the Buccaneers pulled off a massive upset at the hands of a wildly effective Ryan Fitzpatrick. There’s reason to expect both units to regress toward their respective means in Week 2. Philadelphia’s stop unit is ferocious and applied a whopping 27 pressures to Matt Ryan last week. The Buccaneers defense confirmed their status as a sieve, getting shredded by the Saints in New Orleans. Given their histories, it’s difficult to argue that both Nick Foles and Fitzpatrick are among the streakiest passers in the NFL. We could see them both boomerang from their Week 1 outcomes. Each team has matchups to exploit when they have the ball, so it’s worth chasing this game even with the lower total and volatile passers.

Matchup to watch

Nelson Agholor dominated opportunities in the Eagles passing game during the opener, inhaling 28 percent of the targets. While all of those were of the short variety, Agholor has a shot to continue racking up receptions with Alshon Jeffery out and could boost his yardage total against a defense that has much less team speed than the Atlanta Falcons unit. Agholor is one of the top players at winning on middle of the field routes against slot corners and coverage linebackers. He posted an excellent 82 percent success rate vs. zone coverage in his 2017 Reception Perception sample. The Bucs are a 50-plus percent zone defense and just put their starting slot corner, Vernon Hargreaves, on injured reserve. On the other side, Chris Godwin is in position to post WR2 numbers. He showed once again last week that he is an excellent football player and could see a boost in routes if DeSean Jackson (concussion) doesn’t play. The Eagles aren’t a pushover pass defense by any means, but just gave up over 160 yards to Julio Jones, who led all receivers in air yards in Week 1.

5 – Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 46.5
Favorite: Packers (-2)

The Packers haven’t confirmed Aaron Rodgers’ status yet but signs are pointing to him playing. Even if he trots out there, this game has a shot to flirt with the under. Minnesota’s defense is ferocious and looks like it will avoid their first big injury issue of the season. Despite Trae Waynes missing a chunk of Week 1 action, he practiced in full on Wednesday. Even playing in Lambeau, the Vikings can do enough to keep the Packers offense in check. Rodgers playing alone keeps this game high on our priority list for fantasy but Minnesota also has several matchups in its favor. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will go to battle against an inexperienced secondary that let Allen Robinson get loose several times last Sunday, even when Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t hit him.

Matchup to watch

If Minnesota can control this game and beat the spread, Dalvin Cook has a shot to find far more rushing success than he did in Week 1. While he averaged fewer than three yards per carry in the opener, he was on the field for 80.3 percent of the snaps. The Packers gave up 5.4 yards per carry to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in Week 1, showing leaks in their run defense. Even if the Packers do build a lead, the Vikings lead rusher also finished second on the team in targets (seven) and ran the second-most routes (31) among all backs in Week 1. Cook looks squarely set in a workhorse back role.

6 – Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (4:05 pm EST)

Total: 48
Favorite: 49ers (-6)

The 49ers and Lions enter this game after disappointing Week 1 showings, Detroit especially. Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo chucked a combined seven picks in their first games with two returned for touchdowns. We could see both offenses bounce back in this spot. The Lions defense is a confirmed pushover with their utter lack of pass rush. Sam Darnold was kept clean on 78 percent of his dropbacks in Week 1 and completed 14 of 18 pass attempts. The 49ers and their quick-strike passing game should eat the Lions alive. It’s impossible to confidently project Matthew Stafford to get this offense into high-gear after his faceplant Monday night. That said, there are holes to pick in the 49ers defense and Detroit could put up numbers in catchup mode. Either way, the 49ers giving six points still feels like a solid option at home.

Matchup to watch

George Kittle was on the field for 77.3 percent of the snaps in Week 1 and led the team with a 31.3 percent share of the team’s air yards. All the opportunity is there. If Kittle hauled in a long dropped touchdown and/or Garoppolo hit him when open in the end zone last week, we’d be talking quite differently about Kittle today. The Lions just got ripped up in the middle of the field by the Jets’ big slot receiver, Quincy Enunwa. Kittle will run his routes in the same area of the field. This could be your last chance to acquire the breakout tight end.

7 – Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 44.5
Favorite: Texans (-2)

Neither of these AFC South squads performed up to expectations in Week 1. However, this is a potential bounce-back spot for both teams, especially Houston. The Titans defense snagged two picks but also gave up 8.2 yards per attempt and a 71.4 percent completion rate to Ryan Tannehill. The stop unit has talent and can make big, havoc-inducing plays but is far from a shutdown unit at this time. If Will Fuller returns, that could open up the field for Deshaun Watson and company. It was clear they were far too compressed with just one above average player (Hopkins) in the passing game last week. Expect Houston to get back on track, win the game and help push this total over.

Matchup to watch

Second-year tight end Jonnu Smith will jump into the starting lineup to replace Delanie Walker. Smith was a wildly impressive athlete coming out of college and flashed big-play ability in spurts as a rookie. He’s 100 percent on the sleeper radar. The Texans unsurprisingly gave up a big game to Rob Gronkowski in Week 1 and ceded the third-most yards (123) to tight ends among defenses. This is a trend that appears to be set to carry over from 2017 when the Texans were top-six in yards, catches and touchdowns allowed to the position. Smith is a $10 buy on Yahoo Daily Fantasy and has streaming value as a dart throw.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look to rebound against a division rival in Week 2. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look to rebound against a division rival in Week 2. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

8 – Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 44.5
Favorite: Falcons (-6)

While there’s plenty of sizzle on these two offenses, this division meetup projects to be a low-scoring affair. The Panthers loss of Greg Olsen and a litany of offensive line injuries raises questions about their ability to consistently move the ball. The Falcons looked disjointed on offense in Week 1 and just put two of their most important defenders on IR in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. Atlanta sacrificing six points in the spread seems generous and Carolina could easily cover that gap, if not just straight up win this game. The under might well come through here but the six-point spread is unlikely to hold given Atlanta’s issues.

Matchup to watch

Cam Newton doesn’t have a sterling track record against the Atlanta Falcons in recent years, averaging 181 passing yards and 0.83 interceptions per game over their last six regular season meetings. However, he’s made up for those flaws with rushing success, averaging 43.5 rushing yards and scoring twice in that span. Atlanta’s loss of Jones and Neal could possibly open up new room for Newton to thrive. The Falcons have allowed the most receptions to running backs in each of the last three seasons in part because they’re willing to concede short passes and trust explosive rangy players like Jones and Neal to limit yards in space. We might see a different approach from Dan Quinn and company in light of the injuries. If not, Newton and Christian McCaffrey could rip it up against this diminished linebacker group.

9 – New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars (4:25 pm EST)

Total: 45.5\
Favorite: Pick ‘em

The Patriots and Jaguars square-off for a rematch of the last AFC Championship game. Obviously, any time Tom Brady takes the field the game has a chance for fireworks, but taking on the Jacksonville defense at home will be a slog. Brady got over on the team with 290 yards and a pair of scores last year and can withstand a pass rush. He boasted the best passer rating when under pressure last season. However, New England’s cupboard of offensive skill position players is depleted compared to what they boasted when these teams met last year. The Jaguars have the edge now.

Matchup to watch

The Patriots took to the underneath passing game to best the Jaguars pass defense last season, funneling the offense through their running backs and slot receivers. The combination of Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James White collected 39 percent of the team’s targets. With Sony Michel only set to possibly get his first NFL action, Rex Burkhead banged up and Jeremy Hill on IR, White should easily lead this backfield in snaps. He may even push for double-digit targets in this spot and is a clear fantasy start.

10 – Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (8:15 pm EST – Monday)

Total: 43
Favorite: Bears (-3.5)

The Seahawks are headed on the road for the second-straight week after looking like the up and down team most expected heading into 2018. The Bears showed off a suffocating front-seven in their season opener against Green Bay. It’s a clear mismatch when Seattle has the ball. Neither team’s offense is operating at 100 percent with Seattle’s best pass-catcher injured and the Bears still searching for a consistent rhythm. The Bears should sneak away with a win at home but neither team looks ready to push for a mountain of points. The projected total is low but the under could still hit.

Matchup to watch

Allen Robinson’s usage and deployment were gleefully promising in Week 1. He led the Bears with 107 air yards and he was used across the formation. Robinson took 38% of his snaps from the slot in Week 1, per PFF. He saw four of his seven targets lined up inside and caught all four of them for 61 yards. He’ll also still draw coverage from Seahawks rookie corner Tre Flowers. The 146th overall pick in the draft, Flowers was demolished in Week 1, allowing the most yards per route covered (3.49) among all corners.

11 – Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (4:05 pm EST)

Total: 45
Favorite: Rams (-13.5) 

Talk about a buzz saw. After one of the more dismal performances in Week 1, the Cardinals travel to LA to take on the impressive Rams. The spread here is massive but it may still hold. The Cardinals have little to nothing to be excited about on offense right now and the loaded Rams defense just made mincemeat of the Raiders on Monday night. It’s hard to see Arizona being competitive in this spot.

Matchup to watch

Given that the Rams have the second-highest implied team total of the week, you shouldn’t hesitate to get those players into DFS and season-long rosters. On the other side of the ball, the main exercise we need to worry about here is monitoring David Johnson’s usage in the passing game. Last week, Johnson ran the dump-off style routes of a normal running back. He is not just a normal running back, though. Johnson maintained a 0.78 average depth of target and owned a measly 3.4 percent share of the team’s air yards in Week 1. Those figures sat at 4.7 and nine percent during his magic 2016 season. We need to see that type of usage again.

12 – Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 43
Favorite: Chargers (-7.5) 

A west coast team giving 7.5 points on an early 1:00 pm EST road start is a tall order, especially one as prone to gaffes as the Chargers. However, the Bills just aren’t an NFL team right now. They can’t pass protect, they have no advantages in the aerial game and their running back is easy to take away given his surroundings. Not to mention, their supposedly strong secondary was flamed by Joe Flacco to the tune of a 73.5 percent completion rate and three passing scores. The Bills will start Josh Allen this week because they have no choice. Management can’t reasonably expect to win with- or ask their fans to pay to watch a game started by- Nathan Peterman, who has epically flopped in his two NFL starts (4.1 yards per attempt, 10.4 percent interception rate). That said, Allen isn’t ready to command this substandard offense. The Chargers can maintain the spread here.

Matchup to watch 

We can reasonably project all the Chargers mainstays to hit their fantasy projections in Week 2 and we just don’t care about anyone on the Bills roster right now. One player to track is Austin Ekeler. The satellite back was a popular waiver-wire pick after an electric Week 1 but his volume is still an issue. He ran just 15 pass routes to Melvin Gordon’s 31 and handled just five carries. These figures came in a game where the Chargers ran 74 plays to maintain a shootout with the Chiefs. Ekeler is a points-chasing play until we see a bump in volume.

13 -New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (8:20 pm EST)

Total: 42.5
Favorite: Cowboys (-3)

The Giants and Cowboys will go head to head in their first of 30 required annual Sunday Night Football games. Neither team showed much overall promise in Week 1. The allure of the Giants skill position talent masked the realities of the dearth of talent on the right side of their offensive line and the myriad of holes in their defense. Oh, and that they’re still playing with a quarterback who hasn’t been good in over two years. The Cowboys have no matchup advantages when they’re on offense. Their offensive line is a ghost of what it once was thanks to injuries and inexperience on the interior. The passing game features a multi-receiver rotation with a rookie in Michael Gallup and a cavalcade of middling to bottom-of-the-roster types. The first team to 20 here wins.

Matchup to watch 

We’ll look to see an expanded use for Saquon Barkley as a receiver. The rookie back ran just 25 routes in Week 1, while 12 other players had more. He drew six targets but hauled in just two for 22 yards. Pass-catching work is key to the rookie unlocking his true ceiling. We need to see more than this, especially since his slightly boom-or-bust collegiate running style carried over into Week 1.

14. Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (4:25 pm EST)

Total: 46
Favorite: Broncos (-6)

Derek Carr has averaged under 200 passing yards and just one touchdown per game against the Broncos over the last two seasons. It’s hard to fathom where any optimism would come from in this spot as the Raiders travel to Denver. The Broncos continued their dominant home streak last week and are now 32-3 in their last 35 home games in the first two weeks of the season. And their defense looks like it has its 2015 mojo back. Denver should easily roll in this Mile-High contest. That makes the backfield interesting. Royce Freeman led the group in snaps but this team looks to be set on a hot hand approach. You can go back to Freeman while Phillip Lindsay is a low floor flex. Devontae Booker is also there.

Matchup to watch

Jared Cook saw a whopping 50 percent of his team’s air yards in Week 1, more than any other player at his position by far. The next closest tight end was Gronk with 33 percent. It might feel like chasing points with Cook in Week 2 but he has a shot to continue the momentum. The Broncos got whacked by unproven tight ends Will Dissly and Nick Vannett in Week 1 to the tune of 116 yards and a score on just four catches. It’s a continuation of a trend from the last two seasons, where Denver allowed the sixth-most catches to the position in back-to-back years.

This is fine. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
This is fine. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

15 – Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (1:00 pm EST)

Total: 43.5
Favorite: Jets (-3)

The Jets were the biggest surprise of Week 1, shellacking the Lions on Monday night in a game that started with a Sam Darnold pick-six. It wasn’t just the Lions melting down, either; the Jets look legit. It’s hard to take much away from Miami’s Week 1 game given the strange conditions of that hours-long affair against the Titans. The only player you’re confident rolling out from the Miami side is Kenny Stills, who led the team in receiving by 68 yards more than the next closest player. The same can be said for Quincy Enunwa on the Jets. A sleeper none of us talked about enough, Enunwa drew 45 percent of Sam Darnold’s passing targets. Only Julio Jones handled a bigger workload in Week 1. He’s a fringe every-week WR3 play with that volume and drawing targets from a rookie passer comfortable getting the ball out quick to open space in the middle of the field.

Matchup to watch

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth surrounding Kenyan Drake’s Week 1 fantasy flop, especially with Frank Gore taking nine carries for 61 yards. However, Drake’s overall usage numbers were solid. He led the backfield with a 74-percent snap share, ran 22 pass routes with a 2.8 average depth of target and collected 17 touches overall. The Jets front is no joke and this is a road start, so Drake could show further promise in the usage department and still not hit in fantasy. He could emerge from Week 2 as prime buy-low candidate.

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