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2023 Fantasy Football: Targets, Fades for NFL Week 2

Sep 10, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) is introduced to colts crowd before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to overreaction week – also known as Week 2 of the NFL season – when the hot takes are as spicy as they are numerous. 

It’s too easy to emphasize unexpected or outlier events – such as the Chiefs, Bengals and Bills all suffering crushing upsets or the Giants getting spanked in primetime – largely due to recency bias. 

Take a deep breath, do your best to separate the wheat from the chaff and remember we still have 94 percent of the season left. 

Below, we’ll break down one player at each position to target (love) and one at each position to fade (hate) for your Week 2 fantasy football lineups based on matchups, injuries, strategies and more.

Love/Hate for NFL Week 2

Players We Love This Week

Anthony Richardson, QB (at HOU)

Anthony Richardson showed flashes of greatness right out of the gate in his rookie debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2023 fourth-overall pick completed 24-of-37 attempts for 223 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

He also tacked on 10 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, finishing as the QB4 for the week. Richardson appeared to suffer a knee injury late in his first game, which does not seem severe but is worth monitoring this week. He was replaced for the Colts’ final three snaps – likely out of an abundance of caution.

Richardson has sky-high upside this season as a viable week-to-week fantasy starter. He should be regarded as a top 12 play in Week 2 with the Houston Texans on deck – as long as he is healthy and ready to go come Sunday afternoon. 

Zay Flowers, WR (at CIN)

Zay Flowers had a strong showing in his NFL debut during the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 1 win against the Texans. He logged team highs in every receiving category, reeling in nine-of-10 targets (47.6 percent share) for 78 yards, and even logged two rushes for nine yards. 

The next most targeted players were Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman and J.K. Dobbins – all of whom had three. 

The 2023 first-round pick landed in a sweet situation with the Ravens, who have been searching for a reliable receiver for Pro Bowl QB Lamar Jackson for multiple seasons. Flowers likely saw a small boost in target share with TE Mark Andrews sidelined. However, the team is also down a major weapon, with Dobbins suffering a season-ending Achilles injury. 

All signs point to Flowers having the opportunity for a massive rookie campaign. This week, he is a high-end WR3 or flex option against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that Donovan Peoples-Jones just burned for 114 yards. 

Jamaal Williams, RB (at CAR)

Jamaal Williams was unremarkable in the New Orleans Saints’ Week 1 nailbiter against the Tennessee Titans, logging 18 carries for 45 yards (2.5 yards per carry). 

He also caught both of his targets for seven yards, finishing as the RB37 in half-PPR scoring. In fairness to Williams, the matchup was rough against a Titans defense that allowed the fewest rushing yards and third-fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2022. 

Williams – who finished as the fantasy RB8 last year – has two more weeks of decent value left with Alvin Kamara suspended for the first three games. Williams should provide borderline RB2 value in this week’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who Tyler Allgeier and rookie Bijan Robinson trampled for 177 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. 

Darren Waller, TE (at ARI)

There were few positive takeaways from the New York Giants’ blowout loss in primetime against the Dallas Cowboys. QB Daniel Jones (who we suggested fading last week) looked more like the vintage, turnover-prone Jones than the version we saw last year. 

The offensive line allowed seven sacks (47 lost yards), and the defense hemorrhaged 40 points. Darren Waller caught three-of-five targets for 36 yards and finished as the TE18 in half-PPR. 

Jones, who completed just 15 passes on Sunday, will not throw two picks every game, and the Giants will not be that awful each week. I expect the Giants to get things back on track in Week 2 with the Arizona Cardinals on deck. 

Arizona’s defense is abysmal and particularly susceptible against tight ends, allowing the most fantasy points to the position last season. Waller should bounce back nicely and into the high-end TE1 tier in this get-right game. 

Players We Hate This Week

Dak Prescott, QB (vs. NYJ)

The Giants’ incompetence and a nice showing from the Cowboys’ backfield and defense obscured what was a subpar outing for Dak Prescott. He completed just 13-of-24 attempts for 143 yards, zero touchdowns and finished as the QB27 for the week. 

In fairness to Prescott, the weather was undoubtedly a factor in both teams’ passing attack, and jumping out to a lead allowed Dallas to lean on its stout run game.

Prescott will face a much more competent unit in Week 2 from the New York Jets, who forced a fumble and three Josh Allen interceptions on Monday night. The Jets boast an above-average pass-rushing unit and one of the top secondaries in the NFL, which could mean a sloppy afternoon for the Cowboys. 

Expect Dallas to come back down to earth and Prescott to fall outside the top 12 in this brutal matchup. 

Christian Kirk, WR (vs. KC)

Christian Kirk drew a lot of preseason buzz as a potential sleeper after finishing as the WR11 in half-PPR last year. 

Unfortunately, during the team’s Week 1 win over the Colts, it became abundantly clear it will be the Calvin Ridley show in Jacksonville this season. Ridley posted a huge stat line in his first game since 2020, reeling in eight-of-11 for 101 yards and a touchdown. 

On the other hand, Kirk was a massive letdown with just one catch on three targets for nine yards. Kirk was out-targeted by Ridley, Zay Jones, Evan Engram and Travis Etienne Jr., who also racked up more points. 

Kirk inspires minimal confidence moving forward, including this week against the Kansas City Chiefs. He is a low-upside WR3/4 for this week. 

Cam Akers, RB (vs. SF)

Death, taxes, and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay playing games with fantasy managers’ hearts. In July, McVay lauded his Year 3 running back and told the media he expected Cam Akers to be a “huge part of what we’re doing moving forward.” 

As such, many managers felt comfortable drafting Akers as a low-end RB2 with the potential to be a workhorse back. 

However, the “huge part” McVay mentioned only translated to 22 carries for 29 yards (a whopping 1.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown that ultimately saved fantasy managers who started Akers. 

There is little reason for optimism for his role in the offense. He saw zero work in the passing game, participated in just 35 percent of snaps and looked ineffective compared to supposed backup Kyren Williams. Williams out-snapped Akers 53 to 28 and out-gained Akers 52 to 29. 

Akers could earn his way back into McVay’s good graces and a starting role (like last season). Still, there is virtually no situation where he should be started this week against the San Francisco 49ers’ shutdown defense (save, perhaps, 16+ team leagues). 

Kyle Pitts, TE (vs. GB)

The Atlanta Falcons’ season opener was a bit of a mirage. Although the team picked up the win against the Panthers, there were numerous worrisome signs, especially from a fantasy perspective. 

Second-year QB Desmond Ridder looked rusty and completed just 15 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line struggled, allowing four sacks, and their star TE, Kyle Pitts, was held to two catches on three targets for a team-high 44 yards. 

He was out-targeted by Mack Hollins and Robinson and tied with Allgeier. Drake London managed to do even worse than Pitts and logged a goose egg on one target for the day. 

The Falcons leaned heavily on the run game with a two-person committee of Robinson and Allgeier. That could be their strategy moving forward as Ridder develops. In the meantime, Pitts and London are both extremely risky plays in this low-volume offense against a Green Bay Packers defense that will put up more of a fight than Carolina’s. 

Pitts is a low-end TE1 who – we can only pray – could fall into the end zone to help justify drafting him at his ADP of TE7. 

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