News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 2

(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

In most leagues, waivers run Wednesday morning. After that, one of two things can happen: Either players become free-for-all free agents until that week’s games, or there is another waiver run later in the week. Either way, one of the most valuable small actions fantasy players can add to their fantasy routine is a cursory check of who was dropped in waivers that week.

Players are on fantasy rosters for a reason. Maybe that reason is ultimately a bad one — a lottery ticket that didn’t pan out, or an insurance policy that ultimately became unnecessary — but it’s still a reason. So when a manager claims a player on waivers, that manager also has to drop a player who had some value. A lot of the time that value is ultimately nil, and you can ignore it. But sometimes someone faces a tough decision and a valuable player ends up on the wire at a point in the week when most players have forgotten about fantasy free agency.

In my longtime home league, the first week’s waiver moves included some big names dropped. Corey Davis. Donte Moncrief. Tevin Coleman. All understandable to some extent or another, but still. But one that was particularly notable was the release of Giovani Bernard. The guy who dropped him lost Tyreek Hill to injury, is still stashing Melvin Gordon, even has Rob Gronkowski (yes, he should have dropped Gronkowski). But in the end, a running back who backs up an injured guy hit the waiver wire. It looks like Joe Mixon will go in Week 2, but it's no guarantee, and even if he does, there aren't many higher-upside handcuffs.

I claimed him. I likely won’t be using him this week — I have David Johnson, Josh Jacobs, and Marlon Mack — but better he sit on my bench than he enter someone else’s lineup and hurt me. And if he has a big week or two with Joe Mixon out, maybe I have a trade chip. All it cost me was Justice Hill.

Use your waiver wire early in the week. But use it again later in the week. Double check who got dropped. Maybe that player can make your season.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the top rankings risers and fallers. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

2. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL @ WAS (RB2) — Expect Elliott’s workload to increase this week in a favorable matchup against Washington.
3. Saquon Barkley, NYG vs BUF (RB3) — The Giants aren’t good, but Barkley is still a stud.
4. Alvin Kamara, NO @ LAR (RB4) — This isn’t the best matchup for Kamara, but the Saints showed in Week 1 that he’s going to get fed in 2019.
5. Julio Jones, ATL vs PHI (WR1) — Sure, last week wasn’t fun for Jones owners, but did you see what the Washington passing game did against Philly?

Two starts, two sits

START Josh Allen in medium-sized leagues: Against the Jets, Allen ran the ball 10 times, reaching 16.0 fantasy points for the sixth time over his last seven games — he’s averaged a whopping 23.0 fantasy points per game over this stretch (third-most).
START Matt Breida in deep leagues: He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career but seems to be fully healthy heading into Week 2. He’s a low-end RB2 for fantasy this week, as the team’s lead back up against a Bengals defense that gave up the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs last year.
SIT Aaron Jones in shallow leagues: Jones played on just 61% of the team’s snaps in Week 1, drawing 13 of 18 carries and only one of three targets out of the backfield. So, stuck in a committee backfield and in a brutal matchup, he understandably underwhelmed, scoring just 4.9 fantasy points.
SIT Kirk Cousins in medium-sized leagues: In Week 1, the Vikings attempted just 10 passes all game, which was just the 10th time that’s been done since 2000. With the fifth-lowest implied point total of the week (20.8), Cousins is better left on your bench.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Darren Sproles: The Falcons are famous (or infamous) for letting running backs catch passes against them, and Sproles showed in Week 1 that he’s still the electric weapon he’s been his whole career.
BUST: Drew Brees: Aqib Talib’s Rams career now features 12 games played, 8 games missed. In the eight games he missed, the Rams allowed 26.37 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In the 12 games he has played, counting Week 1 against Cam Newton, the Rams have allowed 13.17.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: John Brown: For all the big individual games put up in Week 1, it was the Giants who allowed the most PPR points to opposing receivers, letting Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, and the Cowboys to put up 64.1 points on them.
WORST: Davante Adams: He was held to his worst game since 2017 against the Bears in Week 1 (and on Thursday night, guaranteeing it was widely noticed), and now is likely to face Xavier Rhodes in shadow coverage this week — Rhodes just held Julio Jones to one target and no catches in his coverage in Week 1.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Malcolm Brown in shallow leagues: We didn’t expect Brown to nearly equal Todd Gurley in carries but that’s exactly what happened in Week 1. More importantly, Brown saw two goal-line carries, while Gurley saw none.
ADD Jacoby Brissett in medium-sized leagues: Brissett was efficient in the opener and showed a good connection with T.Y. Hilton. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling but is in play in deeper leagues.
ADD Trey Quinn in deep leagues: Quinn only caught four balls for 33 yards, but he did find the end zone on one of them. He’s an interesting add in deep leagues.

Rankings risers and fallers

RISER: John Ross: We knew Ross could find the end zone. He’s had a nose for it. But we had less assurance he could accumulate, and he set career-highs in receptions (7, most by 4), targets (12, most by five), and receiving yards (158, most by 106).
FALLER: David Montgomery: Montgomery will see more work, and the offense will put up better numbers, than Thursday. But by the end of draft season he was getting drafted as a mid-range RB2 or higher, and that was clearly too high. Mike Davis will keep Montgomery in check.

DST streamers

Houston Texans: Jacksonville will be without starter Nick Foles in Week 2. Although Gardner Minshew was awesome in Week 1, completing all 22 of his non-dropped passes for 275 yards and two scores, he’s still an inexperienced and unheralded Round 6 rookie quarterback. Houston checks all of the other boxes as well.

QB streamers

Marcus Mariota: In his first game of the 2019 campaign, Mariota and company beat the new-and-improved Cleveland Browns by four scores and were clearly the better football team. Even in a run-heavy situation as such, Mariota found his way to 24 pass attempts which gained 248 yards and three touchdowns.

Expected Fantasy Points

Keenan Allen: Quietly, Allen ranked second in expected and sixth in actual fantasy points, drawing 10 targets, 116 air yards, two targets inside the 10-yard line, two deep targets, and two end-zone targets.

Trade value chart

Austin Ekeler: Ekeler sees his value skyrocket with Melvin Gordon’s holdout continuing with no end in sight and Ekeler putting up a monster Week 1 performance. He’s going to be hard to acquire in trades right now.

Player prop bets (from BetMGM)

Jack Doyle UNDER 30.5 receiving yards: The Colts offense just isn’t the same with Jacoby Brissett under center. Credit where credit is due for his efficient Week 1 performance, but Brissett only targeted Doyle two times. Our numbers have that total up just a tad this week, but Doyle still hitting the under hard.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

Bargains

LeSean McCoy, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: It was difficult to get a read from Andy Reid on whether he was bluffing when he said he viewed McCoy as a co-starter, but one week in it feels like that was closer to truth than fiction. McCoy didn’t even play half the snaps of Damien Williams in Week 1 (45-20), but he did have 10 carries in his 20 snaps.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Oakland Raiders: Williams caught six balls on seven targets for 105 yards and a touchdown Monday against the Broncos. In the first half of 2018, Williams was on pace for 44 receptions for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns before cooling down. Williams looks to be the biggest benefactor with the departure of Antonio Brown and his DFS price has not caught up to him yet.

Locks

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Johnson averaged 6.7 targets per game at a 4.6-yard average depth of target in his massive 2016 — a running back who played wide receiver — then saw those numbers drop to 4.4 and 0.6, respectively, last year — a running back who is just a running back but catches some passes. In Week 1, those numbers were right back up.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: Engram got 14 targets in Week 1 with Sterling Shepard on the field. Now heading into a matchup against a strong Bills secondary, the already-bad Giants receiving game will run into a brick wall. Could Engram get to 20 targets?

Fades

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers: In Weeks 10-14 last year — the stretch when Jones was used as a virtual bell cow — he played 207 snaps over five games, compared to 93 for Jamaal Williams. In Week 1, Jones played 37 snaps compared to Williams’ 24. He still has the advantage, but if the split is going to be like that, we might need to rethink Jones’ upside.
Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints: Cook had only three targets in Week 1, well behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara (two givens) and also Ted Ginn. At least so far, it’s still a two-man attack. Cook is the fourth-highest-priced tight end on Week 2’s main slate, but for now that doesn’t look like his upside.

Stacks

Gardner Minshew, QB; Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Minshew had a 100% adjusted completion percentage, as his three incompletions came from two drops and a batted pass. The Texans signed Phillip Gaines afterward, and he is the presumed replacement in the slot. Regardless of who it is, expect the Jaguars to test the replacement slot corner against Westbrook and the rest of the secondary.

DFS facts to know

Seahawks vs. Steelers: In Week 1, Pittsburgh tied one other defense to record PFF’s worst coverage grade on deep passes. That other defense? The Seahawks. Sneaky shootout potential here.

Read More PFF Analysis

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