Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 2: Start James Robinson, Kareem Hunt; Sit Tua Tagovailoa, Dameon Pierce
Getty Images. Pictured: James Robinson (left), Kareem Hunt (right)
Welcome to overreaction week, also known as Week 2 of the NFL season.
A number of shocking things happened in Week 1, and it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff with such a small sample size. Try not to fret too much because a quarterback struggled to throw in a monsoon — yes, this is a Trey Lance statement — and take a few deep breaths: Kyle Pitts and Alvin Kamara will be fine.
Below are some players at each position you should start in Week 2, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 2 Start 'Em
Quarterbacks to Start
I am once again asking you to start Kirk Cousins. This may become a thing all year, as I thought he was wildly undervalued during draft season. He was drafted as the QB15 according to FantasyPros, which is quite low considering the weapons he has in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Irv Smith Jr., Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison.
Cousins was solid in Week 1 against the Packers and completed 23 of 32 attempts for 277 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions — good enough for 19 fantasy points and a QB12 finish. This feels like a neutral matchup on the road against an Eagles team that just gave up 35 points to the lowly Lions. Cousins is a low-end QB1 in Week 2 with upside.
If you lost Dak Prescott, might I interest you in another NFC East quarterback? Credit where credit is due: Carson Wentz looked pretty good in his debut for the Commanders considering he was the QB24 by ADP. He completed 27 of 41 attempts for 313 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, finishing as the QB3 in fantasy.
The bad news for Wentz is he won't get to play the Jaguars every week, so I'm not sure how many QB3 finishes he has in him. The good news is the Commanders have another relatively soft matchup against the Lions. Wentz is a high-end QB2 this week and a serviceable streamer for Prescott managers.
Wide Receivers to Start
I was all over Courtland Sutton this past offseason as the No. 1 WR in the Broncos' revamped offense, and I'm not backing off that stance because of a sloppy Monday Night Football game. That said, Jerry Jeudy looked solid and had the better fantasy day of the two with four catches (on seven targets) for 102 yards and a touchdown.
There is a universe in which Russell Wilson makes both fantasy relevant — a dynamic we saw in Seattle with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Jeudy isn't quite matchup-proof yet, but this is an excellent one against the Texans, who were carved up by Michael Pittman Jr. in Week 1. Consider him a high-upside WR2.
Amon-Ra St. Brown wasn't the flashiest rookie last season, but he was able to finish the year strong. He was the WR5 in half PPR from the Lions' Week 9 bye onwards and the WR2 in the final six games of the season. He continued that trend in Week 1, catching a whopping eight of 12 targets for 64 yards and a touchdown, finishing as the WR11.
Until rookie Jameson Williams rejoins the team, I expect this production from St. Brown to continue. He is a fantastic start this week against Washington and should be slotted in as a high-end WR2 with WR1 potential.
Christian Kirk led Jacksonville in all receiving categories in its season opener against the Commanders. He reeled in six of 12 targets for 117 yards and finished as the WR19. His 31.6 percent target share was impressive, as was his production. Jacksonville may not have the sexiest offense, but Kirk is the No. 1 for now and he should be a solid WR3/flex with the AFC South-rival Colts on deck.
Disclaimer: This is more of a deeper league/daily play. Gage was one of my favorite offseason sleepers until Chris Godwin's timeline was moved up and the team added veteran Julio Jones. Gage could capitalize on the potential absences of Godwin (hamstring), Jones (knee) and Mike Evans (calf) this week — all non-participants in practice on Thursday. Gage would be a legitimate WR3/flex option if two of the three were to miss this week against the Saints.
Running Backs to Start
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ran all over the Panthers' porous run defense in Week 1 and collectively tallied 38 touches for 213 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns (both Hunt). Hunt saw 15 touches to Chubb's 23 and played three more snaps than Chubb. He is going to play a major role in this offense — especially in the first 11 weeks before Deshaun Watson returns. The Browns have a cakewalk matchup on the slate against the Jets, which puts Chubb in the RB1 tier and Hunt comfortably in the RB2 tier.
I'm not victory-lapping my preseason James Robinson takes quite yet, but suffice it to say that I was impressed with the Jaguars' backfield split in Week 1. Robinson saw 11 carries — compared to Travis Etienne Jr.'s four — and recorded 66 yards and a touchdown.
Etienne was slightly more involved in the passing game, however, and caught two of four targets for 18 yards. I predicted this would be some sort of split with Robinson cannibalizing some of Etienne's workload. He is a RB3/flex this week in a slightly negative matchup.
Rhamondre Stevenson's stock rose in the final weeks of training camp after James White's retirement. The hope was head coach Bill Belichick would deploy the Year 2 back similarly to White, who was a PPR workhorse. Stevenson was a dud in Week 1, recording just eight rush attempts for 24 yards and two catches for two yards.
He will look to bounce back from this RB57 finish, even in a less-than-stellar road matchup against the Steelers. There is reason for optimism, especially with hybrid WR/RB Ty Montgomery going on the injured reserve for at least four weeks with a knee injury. Stevenson should pick up some of the slack in the passing game and can be considered a RB3 option.
Despite preseason hype surrounding the 2022 NFL Draft's top running back prospect (Breece Hall), it was Michael Carter who dominated the Jets' backfield in Week 1. Carter registered 10 carries for 60 yards and caught seven of nine (!) targets (tied for second behind Corey Davis) for 40 yards, finishing as the RB19.
Hall managers don't want to hear this, but the reality is Carter tallied just shy of 1,000 scrimmage yards in his rookie season and will have a role in this offense. He's a solid RB3 option this week and I would start him over Hall against Cleveland.
Tight Ends to Start
Pat Freiermuth is one of my absolute favorite young tight ends, second only to Kyle Pitts. He reeled in five of 10 targets for a team-leading 75 yards in Week 1. His obvious talent and physical attributes aside, I expect he will be somewhat of a security blanket for quarterback Mitch Trubisky (or Kenny Pickett) all season. The matchup isn't stellar against the Patriots, but I still expect Freiermuth to deliver as a low-end TE1.
Defenses to Start
Cincinnati's D/ST was a complete flop in Week 1 and failed to capitalize on what should have been a juicy matchup against the Trubisky-led Steelers. It recorded only one sack and allowed 23 points to finish as the DST27.
I am cautiously optimistic the Bengals will redeem themselves against the Cowboys, who were the lone team to not score a touchdown in the opening week and will be without star quarterback Dak Prescott. Dallas' offensive line allowed four sacks and the team mustered just three points despite Prescott playing most of the game. Backup Cooper Rush should give the Bengals' defense opportunities aplenty.
Week 2 Sit 'Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Tua Tagovailoa will have weeks here and there where he'll be a fringe QB1 start. This is not one of those weeks. Even though the Dolphins looked pretty solid in their 20-7 win over the Patriots, Tagovailoa tossed just one one touchdown and tallied 15 fantasy points.
He has another pair of difficult matchups on the slate against the Ravens on the road and then the Bills at home. He is a sit this week against a Baltimore defense that is looking tough with Marcus Peters healthy again.
Ryan Tannehill had a nice Week 1, at least from a fantasy standpoint. He completed 20 of 33 attempts for 266 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions — finishing as the QB11 — in the Titans' shocking loss to the Giants. Things don't get any easier this week against the well-rested Bills, who are currently the betting favorites at +450 to win the Super Bowl.
Buffalo's defense quelled the reigning Super Bowl-champion Rams in the season opener, recording three interceptions, seven sacks and allowing just 10 points. I expect Tannehill to struggle and would be nervous to start him even in two-quarterback/superflex formats.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Geno Smith outperformed expectations in Week 1 and led the Seahawks to a 17-16 upset of the Broncos. However, his performance didn't really help either of his star receivers — Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf — as they finished as the WR73 and WR63, respectively.
Both will suffer this season catching passes from Smith, though I expect the impact on Lockett to be more significant. The lackluster nature of the Seahawks' offense downgrades Lockett into the boom-or-bust category and outside of starting consideration against the 49ers.
Much to my dismay as a perennial D.J. Moore truther, it was Robbie Anderson — not Moore — who led the Panthers in all receiving categories in the team’s disappointing Week 1 loss to the Browns. He caught five of eight targets for 102 yards and a touchdown — good enough for a WR10 finish — while Moore caught three of six targets for 43 yards and finished as the WR53.
The vast majority of Anderson’s production came on a 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. This is extremely on brand, as Anderson has been a boom-or-bust deep threat his entire career, perfectly suited to best-ball formats. He is a sit for me — even against the Giants.
Chase Claypool was an afterthought in the Steelers' 23-20 overtime win over the Bengals. He caught four of six targets for 18 yards and finished as the WR50.
If it's any solace, rookie George Pickens was also unremarkable and saw just three targets and caught one pass for three yards. All of the Steelers' pass catchers will be limited by Mitch Trubisky, which could put Claypool into the touchdown-dependent category for the rest of the season. The Patriots' defense is no cake walk either. He is a firm sit for me this week.
DeVonta Smith recorded 64 catches for 916 yards and five touchdowns in a solid rookie campaign. This season, the Year 2 wideout will have take a backseat to A.J. Brown, who caught 10 of 13 targets (44.8 percent share) for 155 yards to completely steal the show in Detroit.
Next closest in targets were Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and running back Kenneth Gainwell (four each). Smith laid a goose egg in the affair, however, and cannot be trusted in lineups at this time.
Running Backs to Sit
Raise your hand if you were personally victimized by Cam Akers in Week 1. In fairness, the entire Rams offense looked off from the start and had no answers for the Bills in the season opener, but starting the week off with a Thursday night goose egg is one of the worst feelings as a fantasy manager.
Akers' utilization was dreadful: He saw three carries for zero yards to Darrell Henderson Jr.'s 13 carries for 47 yards and five catches for 26 yards. Henderson also out-snapped Akers 55 to 12 in the game and looks like Los Angeles' starter. Akers is a firm sit — but not drop, yet — until further notice.
Pierce was the subject of significant attention in the weeks leading up to fantasy drafts. Many were quick to herald the preseason phenom as a top-24 play right out of the gate — an expectation I thought was a bit lofty for a rookie running back on a below-average offense.
Pierce was mostly unremarkable in his debut and was both out-touched and out-snapped by 32-year-old Rex Burkhead in the Texans’ 20-20 tie. He tallied 11 carries for 33 yards and caught his lone target for six yards while Burkhead rushed 14 times for 40 yards and caught five of eight targets for 30 yards.
I believe Pierce can develop into a workhorse back (although that was not his role at Florida), but it may take some time. In the interim, Burkhead will likely cannibalize some of Pierce’s value and be involved in the passing game enough to render Pierce a firm sit in Week 2.
Tony Pollard's utilization in Week 1 left a lot to be desired. He split snaps with Ezekiel Elliott (38 to 40) but was out-touched by Elliott 11 to four. To be clear, neither running back had a good day for fantasy, though Elliott looked like the superior rusher (from the eye test).
Toss in the fact that the entire Cowboys team is going to take a hit with Dak Prescott out with a thumb injury for an unclear amount of time. The workload is concerning from a fantasy standpoint and could wane even further if Cooper Rush can't generate positive games scripts in Prescott's absence. Pollard cannot be trusted against the Bengals.
Dobbins seemed close to starting in Week 1 after missing an entire season with a torn ACL he suffered in training camp last year. He was ultimately inactive, leaving the Ravens with the underwhelming tandem of Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis. The duo collectively tallied just 42 rushing yards on 13 carries against the lowly Jets and are completely droppable at this point.
Dobbins logged a full practice on Thursday and is trending towards making his first start since January 2021, though I would be wary of playing him — or any Ravens running back — this week. Dobbins could be "the guy," but I need to see it first. He is a sit for me this week.
Tight Ends to Sit
I was down on Mike Gesicki all offseason with the thought that he would be the "odd man out" following the addition of Tyreek Hill. He was a complete non-factor against the Patriots and caught one target for one yard while Hill and Jaylen Waddle saw 12 and five targets, respectively. Gesicki is a firm sit and potential drop candidate.
I prefer a number of other widely available tight ends, such as Hayden Hurst (15% rostered in Yahoo leagues), Logan Thomas (10%), Robert Tonyan (33%) and even Evan Engram (21%) over Gesicki.
Defenses to Sit
If you've made it to the end of the article, you may have picked up that I am pretty low on the Dolphins this week. Miami's defense was superb in Week 1, recording two fumble recoveries, one interception, one touchdown and two sacks while allowing just seven points.
The unit finished as the DST2, though it is worth mentioning that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was banged up in that game. They have a much more fearsome Week 2 opponent in the Ravens and should be left on the bench (or waivers) based on the matchup.