Who To Start, Who To Sit In Fantasy Week 2: Start Antonio Brown, Sit Trevor Lawrence & James Robinson
Getty Images. Pictured: Antonio Brown (left) and Trevor Lawrence (right).
Setting your fantasy football lineups each week can be hard, especially on the heels of a wild Week 1.
Below are some players at each position you should start for Week 2 of the NFL season, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 2 Start ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Start
This was a no-brainer last week, but it’s worth mentioning after a downright awful Week 1 against the Saints. Rodgers completed 15 of 28 attempts for 133 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions and scored just 3.3 fantasy points. To put this into perspective, he threw five interceptions in all of 2020 to a whopping 48 touchdowns.
However, one QB34 finish isn’t enough to scare me off of Rodgers and the Packers. His Week 2 matchup against the Lions is an excellent “get-right” game for the reigning NFL MVP.
Jameis Winston, Saints at Panthers
We saw an entirely new Winston this weekend in his debut as the Saints’ starter. He completed 14 of 20 attempts for 148 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions, and rushed six times for 37 yards — good enough to finish as QB4 for the week. Fantasy managers took note, as his rostership on Yahoo! jumped from 44% on Monday to 65% on Wednesday. He is a viable streamer in certain weeks, including this one against the Panthers in an NFC South divisional showdown.
Wide Receivers to Start
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers vs. Falcons
We saw vintage Brown as the veteran stole the show in the NFL season opener against the Cowboys. He was the Buccaneers’ top receiver and caught five of seven targets for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Tampa’s offense was firing on all cylinders in Week 1 and the Bucs get another cupcake matchup this week at home against the Falcons’ bottom-of-the-barrel pass defense that just made Jalen Hurts look like Peyton Manning.
Sutton had a disappointing Week 1 and caught just one of three passes for 14 yards. He clearly lacked the chemistry with new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that Jerry Jeudy demonstrated. With Jeudy slated to miss four to eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain, the other Denver pass catchers will have to step up, which should in theory mean more targets for Sutton, as well as Noah Fant, K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick.
Sutton is on the road this week against a Jaguars defense that just allowed a Tyrod Taylor-led Texans team to throw all over the place (say that 10 times fast). It’s an excellent bounce-back spot for Sutton, who is just one year removed from a 1,000-receiving yard season, to distinguish himself as the WR1 in this offense.
Johnson was the team’s most-targeted receiver in Week 1. He caught five of 10 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown, while JuJu Smith-Schuster caught four of eight passes for 52 yards and Chase Claypool caught three of five passes for 45 yards. Ben Roethlisberger looked bad, but he has a much easier matchup against the Raiders on deck this week. Johnson is clearly the team’s alpha receiver and he should thrive in Week 2.
Mike Williams, Chargers vs. Cowboys
Williams performed well in a tough matchup against Washington in Week 1 and caught eight of 12 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He had one fewer target than Keenan Allen and finished as WR16 in half PPR.
Williams’ role as the WR2 in this high-volume passing offense is great value given where he was drafted, and l love this matchup against the Cowboys’ highly exploitable pass defense.
Running Backs to Start
Melvin Gordon III, Broncos at Jaguars
I was all over the Gordon train this offseason, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised to see him post a nice Week 1 finish as RB6 in half PPR. Much of his production came by way of a 70-yard touchdown, and he saw nearly identical carries to Javonte Williams.
The Broncos always intended this to be a “60-40 split,” according to Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright (with Gordon getting the edge over Williams). Gordon should dominate the Jaguars defense that just allowed Mark Ingram II to run all over them.
This isn’t the most fantastic matchup against the Colts’ stout run defense, but Henderson has next to no competition out of the Rams’ backfield. He saw 16 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 17 yards while Sony Michel saw just one carry for two yards. Start him with confidence as a mid- to high-end RB2.
Sanders fell pretty late in drafts amid workload concerns after Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell was drafted in the fifth round. Sanders saw 19 touches to Gainwell’s 11 in the Eagles’ opener against Atlanta and tallied 113 all-purpose yards. He faces a 49ers defense that was carved up against D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams last week, who finished as RB5 and RB4 in half PPR, respectively.
Damien Harris, Patriots at Jets
Harris tallied 23 carries for 100 yards and tacked on two catches on three targets for 17 yards. He did fumble, but so did rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. I don’t think he’s in Bill Belichick’s dog house — yet. Start him in this plush matchup against the Jets as a fantasy RB2.
Tight Ends to Start
Tyler Higbee, Rams at Colts
This matchup doesn’t look stellar on paper, but this Rams passing game is going to be a problem with Matt Stafford at the helm. Higbee reeled in five of six targets for 68 yards and finished as TE9 in half PPR last week against Chicago. He was Stafford’s favorite target after Cooper Kupp and should continue to be a fringe TE1 in Week 2.
Noah Fant, Broncos at Jaguars
Fant was the most-targeted pass catcher in the team’s Week 1 win over the Giants. He caught six of eight passes for 62 yards and should benefit from Jeudy’s absence as well, especially in a juicy matchup in Jacksonville.
Defenses to Start
Patriots Defense at Jets
Starting any defense opposite the Jets last season was basically a cheat code for fantasy. I don’t think they’ll be the pushover team they were in 2020, but the Patriots defense should make swift work of their rookie opponent. It’s a massive coaching mismatch and I expect the Patriots to be a top play in a game with one of the lowest point totals (42) of the week, second to only the Giants-Washington Thursday night game (40.5).
Browns Defense vs. Texans
The Browns defense looked predictably permeable against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs and finished 26th for the week. They face a team on the other side of the offensive spectrum this week in the Texans, who admittedly looked good against the Jaguars, but won’t put up nearly the fight Kansas City did. This is an excellent matchup for the Browns D/ST.
Week 2 Sit ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Matt Ryan, Falcons at Buccaneers
This isn’t just an overreaction to the Falcons’ pathetic showing in Week 1. The Buccaneers defense is fearsome — much more so than the Eagles’ unit, against whom Ryan completed 21 of 35 attempts for 164 yards and zero touchdowns. He is a weekly sit at this point until this offense finds its stride.
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars vs. Broncos
Lawrence looked lost in his rookie debut against the Texans. The No. 1 overall pick was drafted as a fringe fantasy QB1, but he completed just 28 of 51 attempts for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions against a bad Houston defense. He faces a much tougher Broncos team this week and is only worth starting in two-quarterback/superflex formats as a low-end QB2.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Corey Davis, Jets vs. Patriots
Among Bill Belichick’s many super powers is his uncanny ability to shut down rookie quarterbacks. He held the Chargers and 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert to zero points in what was otherwise a fantastic season for Herbert. This doesn’t bode well for 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson or his pass catchers. Davis looked sharp in his debut for Gang Green and picked up a pair of touchdowns, but I expect him to come back down to earth this week against the Patriots.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers vs. Eagles
Please raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by Kyle Shanahan.
At least with the case of Trey Sermon’s last-minute benching, you knew you had to substitute him. Annoying, but not the end of the world. Aiyuk, on the other hand, bageled after seeing zero targets and one special teams play. He has been dealing with a hamstring injury and isn’t someone I’m excited to start until he proves he’s healthy and in Shanahan’s good graces. Sit him if you can against the Eagles, who completely shut down the Falcons’ passing attack in Week 1.
Robby Anderson, Panthers vs. Saints
Anderson’s Week 1 was salvaged by way of a 57-yard touchdown on three targets, though he was clearly not Sam Darnold’s top option behind D.J. Moore and LSU rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. Sure, it’s a bit of a recency bias, but the Saints just held the Packers to three points and intercepted Aaron Rodgers — who had five turnovers all year in 2020 — twice. New Orleans’ strong defensive showing coupled with Anderson’s target volume makes me wary of starting him this week.
I was always concerned this offense wouldn’t be able to sustain three startable wide receivers for fantasy.
Boyd took a backseat to Tee Higgins and rookie Ja’Marr Chase in the Bengals’ overtime victory over the Vikings. He caught three of four passes for 32 yards, while Higgins reeled in four of five targets for 58 yards and a touchdown and Chase caught five of seven targets for 101 yards and a touchdown.
He wasn’t able to capitalize on a soft matchup against Minnesota’s exploitable secondary, and he gets the Bears this week on the road. Boyd is an easy sit for me.
Running Backs to Sit
Mike Davis, Falcons at Buccaneers
Better days are ahead for Davis, who posted 15 carries for 49 yards and caught three of six passes for 23 yards in Week 1 against the Eagles, but those days are unlikely to come this week. He faces a stingy Buccaneers run defense, which just held Ezekiel Elliott to 33 rushing yards last week. I still like Davis’ long-term value based on where he was falling in drafts, but I’m definitely fading him this week in Tampa Bay.
Mark Ingram II, Texans at Browns
Ingram was clearly the alpha in this running back clown car last week. He saw 26 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Phillip Lindsay saw eight carries for 25 yards and a touchdown and David Johnson saw just three carries for 10 yards and caught three of four targets for 18 yards and a touchdown.
I’m still not ready to trust any Texans running back for week-to-week production, especially when they’re facing a much tougher opponent than the Jaguars this week. The Browns shut down the Chiefs’ run game last week and I expect them to do the same to the Texans in their home opener.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders at Steelers
Sure, Jacobs picked up a pair of touchdowns in Week 1 against the Ravens, but he only saw 10 carries for 34 yards and caught one pass for six yards (so much for that involvement in the passing game Jon Gruden promised us). Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake saw six carries for 11 yards and caught all five of his targets for 59 yards.
It’s clear this is going to be a committee, with Jacobs seeing more work on the ground and Drake getting more of the third-down work through the air. If you can, you should consider sitting Jacobs this week against the Steelers.
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. Broncos
Robinson had a disappointing Week 1, though so did most of the Jaguars squad. He rushed five times for 25 yards and reeled in three catches on six targets for 29 yards. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde saw almost twice as many rushing attempts for 44 yards. The entire dynamic is a bit confusing given Hyde is known more as a change-of-pace, third-down back, and it’s concerning given Robinson’s efficacy as a fantasy RB is entirely dependent on volume.
The Jaguars face the Broncos this week, who were lights-out against the Giants’ run game in Week 1 and held Saquon Barkley to just 26 yards. Robinson is a sit for me this week.
Tight Ends to Sit
Gesicki laid a goose egg on three targets in the Week 1 opener against the Patriots. This offense was never going to be very pass-friendly with Tua Tagovailoa under center, and — with DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle to feed — it appears Gesicki will be the odd man out. He’s borderline droppable at this point and definitely not startable against the Bills this week.
Juwan Johnson, Saints at Panthers
Johnson had a fantastic season debut against the Packers and caught all three of his targets for 21 yards and two touchdowns. That said, this passing attack isn’t nearly as high volume as it once was. Winston attempted just 20 passes total in the game for 148 yards, and tight end Adam Trautman was targeted twice as much as Johnson was.
He was a fine waiver wire add and dart throw with the Saints extremely lean at the receiver position, but he can’t be relied on for week-to-week production just yet with such a low target volume.
Defenses to Sit
Ravens Defense vs. Chiefs
It’s probably common sense at this point, but you shouldn’t start defenses against the Chiefs. Kansas City averaged 415.8 offensive yards per game last season — the most in the NFL. Simply put, they’re a nightmare for opposing defenses. Sit the Ravens D/ST in this game, which has the highest point total of the slate (55.5).
Colts Defense vs. Rams
The Colts had the third-best team defense for fantasy last season, but they’re facing the Rams this week who looked fearsome with new quarterback Matthew Stafford at the helm. The Rams simply have too many weapons for Indianapolis to stop. They’re an easy sit this week for me.