As said here every week, I can’t predict the future nor do I try to pretend to. What I can do is dive into the numbers, dig through the juicy matchups, examine trends, watch the film, and collect data that I feel should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week I plan to try to make some of your decision-making easier with what I’ve collected but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team! We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, & Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s rock.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Sam Darnold | Carolina Panthers: It seems it was a long time ago that this was the QB we were talking about being scared of ghosts. Maybe it was getting away from Adam Gase that finally allowed him to flourish, or finally having capable weapons around him. Either way, shout out to my friend Kevin Coleman and others who predicted a Darnold bounce-back this season.
Darnold is QB13 so far in fantasy, averaging 19 PPG. surpassing the expectations of many. Darnold has accounted for 4 total touchdowns through 2 weeks while completing 68.5% of his passes and is 11th in the NFL in passing yards. The Houston Texans right now are 5th in DVOA against the pass in 2021 but were very susceptible to it in 2020. I expect the Panthers to blow out the Texans with rookie Davis Mills expected to start and Darnold will be a big part of that.
Justin Fields | Chicago Bears: Quarterbacks that run will always be king in Fantasy Football. The extra element that can be added with their legs is what can win you leagues. Look no further than Jalen Hurts at the end of last season. Matt Nagy has announced that Fields will make his first career start this Sunday against the Browns with Andy Dalton set to miss at least one game if not more.
He recorded a whopping 10 carries alone when he entered the game for the injured Dalton in Week 2 and with a full week of practice with the starters, who knows how many plays the Bears can scheme up for him.
What’s even more interesting is the Browns have allowed rushing scores in each of the first two weeks to opposing quarterbacks (Mahomes & Taylor) and have allowed over 28 points per game to QBs (3rd-most). With Dalton inactive, Fields will be a top 10 quarterback play in Week 3.
Daniel Jones | New York Giants: Speaking of running quarterbacks, is anyone more slept on in that regard than Daniel Jones? Jones has 122 rushing yards through 2 weeks. That trails only Lamar Jackson & Jalen Hurts. As we’ve talked about, rushing will make a QB fantasy relevant, even if they’ve struggled in the real deal.
I’ll bet you didn’t know Daniel Jones was QB5 on the season. That’s right. He only trails Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. What might be even more impressive is that he hasn’t thrown an interception this season. Daniel Jones gets to face the Falcons, who have allowed the most fantasy points to QBs this season. In a game I expect to be a shoot-out, Daniel Jones is in a great spot to be in your lineup this week and starting with confidence.
Quarterback to Sit:
Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders: This may be shocking to some, as Carr is being regarded as a good start for the surprising 2-0 Raiders this week. Not only does Carr lead the NFL in passing yards with 817 (The next closest being Kyler Murray at 689), but he’s also got a solid 66% completion percentage and is tied with an NFL-leading 93 pass attempts. At first glance, this seems like the weakest matchup for him after having played the Ravens & Steelers, but not so fast.
The Dolphins have given up the 10th-fewest points to quarterbacks so far this season. The Dolphins’ secondary is legit, led by Xavien Howard who again continues to show he’s one of the best in football (#3 ranked CB according to PFF). Look no further with how much better this defense is than in Week 2 when they held Josh Allen to 179 passing yards on 33 pass attempts. That was with Allen going into the game averaging 30.35 Fantasy Points per game against the Dolphins in his career. I think there are better quarterbacks this week to play than Carr so he won’t be in any of my lineups.
Running Backs to Start:
Saquon Barkley | New York Giants: It’s been rough sledding for Barkley through the first few weeks. He’s recorded 23 carries for 83 yards on the season (3.6 ypc) and looks to have lost a step. Not to mention his offensive line hasn’t been helping his cause. We must remember that Saquon was going against top teams in DVOA against the run the first two weeks. According to Football Outsiders, both the Broncos and Washington rank in the top half of team DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value over Average) against the run this season. Denver ranks 5th in the least rushing yards allowed per game at 67.5.
Barkley goes from a short week on Thursday night football, to a 10-day rest and getting to go against the awful Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons through 2 weeks have allowed the second-most rushing yards per game at 173 and rank in the bottom 10 in terms of DVOA against the run. If it’s gonna be right for Barkley, it’s this week and I’d feel comfortable putting him back in your lineup.
Ty’Son Williams | Baltimore Ravens: We’ll forgive Ty’Son for that pop-up fumble he had last week against the Chiefs that Devin Duvernay recovered for a TD in mid-air. In that game, he ran for 5.9 yards per clip and looked very much like an explosive running back in this offense. In fact, his 6.5 yards per carry this season rank second-best behind only Nick Chubb with a minimum of 20 attempts.
Latavius Murray & Devonta Freeman will be there to spell Williams, but he’s the guy in this backfield you want. His 5 receptions so far this season as well will definitely help. He now matches up against the Lions, who have allowed over 37 PPG to running backs. That ranks second in the NFL. They just let Aaron Jones put up 41.5 fantasy points, grabbing 3 receiving touchdowns against them. Williams is a rock-solid RB2 this week.
Chase Edmonds| Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds has averaged 10 carries a game at over 5.5 yards per carry while contributing 9 receptions in the passing game. That roughly 15 touches for nearly 95 total yards per game will definitely play, but many fantasy owners are hoping for even more.
In terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, Jacksonville ranks 10th-most and is giving up an average of 140.5 yards per game. The Jags have also allowed 6 RedZone touchdowns this year, which ranks in the top 3 in football through the first two weeks.
In a game I expect the Cardinals to do whatever they want with this Jaguars defense, Edmonds makes to be a very solid flex play.
Running Back to Sit:
Mark Ingram | Houston Texans: It’s safe to say Mark Ingram has seemed to set himself apart from Phillip Lindsey, David Johnson, & Rex Burkhead in this backfield. The carry disparity in that same order is 40, 13, 9, 0. In other words, the other 3 have just more than HALF the carries that Ingram has combined. In the passing game? Well, Ingram’s 3 targets only trail David Johnson’s 6.
However, the Texans play the Panthers this week, who look they could have the best defense in football this year. The Panthers have allowed only 93 rushing yards through two weeks, which ranks first in the NFL. There are better options you can play here than Ingram or any Texans running back.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Courtland Sutton | Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton is an example of someone who got an incredible opportunity with the unfortunate injury to Jerry Jeudy, and he rose to the occasion. Sutton saw 12 targets in Week 2, which was the most in his NFL career. That translated to 9 grabs for 159 yards.
The Jets have a tough front that I’d expect to make the run game a little more difficult for the Broncos, and I think they’ll beat the Jets through the air. The Jets don’t have the personnel to stay with these Broncos receivers and Sutton should be in for another good week.
Devonta Smith | Philadelphia Eagles: I know last week was a little bit of a letdown for Smith after a dud against the 49ers (2 receptions for 16 yards), but I’d expect him to bounce back in a big way this week. He gets to go against a Dallas Cowboys team that has allowed 32 PPG to wide receivers so far this season and just allowed Mike Williams and Keenan Allen to combine for 11 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys allowed the most touchdowns in 2020 to the WR position and someone of Smith’s caliber should be able to take advantage and find the endzone in this divisional showdown.
Rondale Moore | Arizona Cardinals: The top waiver-wire add from Week 2 looks like he’s here to be a factor for your fantasy team for more than just last week. What might surprise you is Moore leads the Cardinals in targets, receptions, and yards through 2 weeks. Yes, DeAndre Hopkins is still on the team. We also saw his snap percentage go up 17% from 29-46 from Week 1 to Week 2. That should continue to rise as he gets acclimated to this offense.
While Moore may have a low ADOT (average depth of target) at 3.92 yards, the Jaguars have allowed 8.8 yards per attempt to quarterbacks (5th-worst in the NFL) and won’t have any answers to stop this Cardinals passing attack. I expect Hopkins will get his, but don’t be surprised if Moore tries to replicate what he did in Week 2.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Marquez Callaway | New Orleans Saints:
To say Marquez Callaway has been a disappointment would be an understatement. Callaway has only 3 catches for 22 yards through 2 games. That’s with a 22% target share with only one Redzone target.
While Callaway could eventually figure it out, I’m not counting on that being this week against the New England Patriots, the team that just picked off rookie Zach Wilson four times last week. Right now, Jameis Winston is averaging 12.5 completions per game and going against a team that feeds off turnover-prone quarterbacks. There won’t be much volume, and the Patriots are king when it comes to taking out an opponent’s number one target. Do not play Callaway.
Tight End to Start:
David Njoku | Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Landry has been placed on short-term IR and Odell Beckham is questionable to play Sunday. Where do we look into the passing game for the Browns? I have a feeling Njoku is the guy you’ll want this week at the position.
While the targets and catches are similar to the other two tight ends (Austin Hooper & Harrison Bryant), Njoku ranks 1st on the team in target percentage and yards. He also is second among pass-catchers in air yards, which means potential for more big plays. This is my low-owned dart throw at TE this week and I feel pretty good about it.
Tight End to Sit:
Logan Thomas | Buffalo Bills: This isn’t a fade Logan Thomas or Taylor Heinicke proclamation. This is a fade opposing passing games proclamation against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have allowed a fantasy low of 18.58 points this season to quarterbacks. That’s for two games. As you would expect, that hasn’t translated well to players catching the ball.
Opposing TE’s have a total of 8 fantasy points in the 2 games, while WR’s have scored 29 points. This should be a rough week for the Washington offense as a whole and I’d look elsewhere for your tight end.
For more follow me on Twitter @DMendy02