Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v NO)
The season didn’t start as Goff owners would have liked with just 9.4 fantasy points in Carolina, but back at home for Week 2, he should be an excellent QB1 option. In four career meetings against the Saints (including playoffs), Goff has thrown for 314 yards per game with a 9:4 touchdown-interception ratio—and that’s despite three of those matchups being played at the Superdome. New Orleans doesn’t have the cornerbacks to defend Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp in an NFC Championship Game rematch.
Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (@ NYG)
Because of four turnovers in the first half (three of which weren’t his fault), Allen hovered around zero fantasy points for most of Week 1, but he came alive in the fourth quarter with a touchdown both through the air and on the ground to finish with a respectable 16.0 fantasy points. While the Giants have to be better than they were last week against the Cowboys, Allen’s mobility is what makes him such an attractive fantasy asset, and New York lacks speed at linebacker. Consider the second-year quarterback a high-upside, high-floor QB1.
Thumbs Up: Ben Roethlisberger (v SEA)
I originally had Roethlisberger as a top-ten play last week expecting a shootout, but he was moved down after thinking more about the matchup, as the Patriots were basically able to dictate things by putting Stephon Gilmore on JuJu Smith-Schuster and making Donte Moncrief—who was credited with one drop but arguably had three or four—beat them. This week, I would be surprised if James Washington doesn’t have a bigger role to open up the offense, and Big Ben should be much better at home against a defense that just allowed Andy Dalton to throw for 418 yards.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v KC)
Even without taking the Antonio Brown saga into consideration, Carr played great on Monday night against the Broncos, completing 22-of-26 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown. Overall, Carr has really struggled against the Chiefs throughout his career, but he’s been much better in the past two home matchups with 351 yards per game and a 6:0 touchdown-interception ratio. Based on what we saw last week from Oakland’s offense and Kansas City’s defense (11.0 yards per attempt allowed to sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew), Carr is set up for a big game in Week 2.
Others: Marcus Mariota (v IND), Jimmy Garoppolo (@ CIN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Deshaun Watson (v JAX)
Jacksonville’s defense was absolutely torched by Sammy Watkins and the Chiefs last week, but I think that will only make it more likely they come ready to play this Sunday in Houston. Watson is difficult to bench—and he still remains a low-end QB1 option because of the rushing upside—but the Texans are coming off a heartbreaking loss on a short week and were limited to just 20 points in both matchups last season (Watson averaged just 186.5 passing yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game).
Thumbs Down: Kyler Murray (@ BAL)
Arizona looked completely lost for about three quarters in the NFL debuts of Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but they turned things on in the fourth, and the No. 1 overall pick ending up airing it out 54 times in the 70-minute tie. Hopefully the momentum can carry over into Week 2 and beyond, but the more likely scenario is that it will come screeching to a halt for a trip to Baltimore. If there’s a positive for those that want to play Murray for whatever reason, he only had 13 rushing yards and still finished as last week’s QB11.
Thumbs Down: Sam Darnold (v CLE)
The good news for Darnold owners is that he threw it 41 times in the opener, but the bad news is that he averaged just 4.27 yards per attempt, and the USC product will need to be more aggressive if he’s going to be a reliable fantasy option in 2019. Last season, Darnold struggled against the Browns (15-of-31 for 169 yards and two interceptions), and I don’t like the matchups for Robby Anderson and the rest of the wideouts. It might be best to look elsewhere until Chris Herndon returns next month.
Thumbs Down: Aaron Rodgers (v MIN)
Rodgers was limited to just 12.9 fantasy points last Thursday night, and it could have been even worse in what turned out to be a defensive battle (the only touchdown was a fluky jump ball to Jimmy Graham). I expect him to be better this week, but after what Minnesota did last week to the Falcons, Rodgers remains more of a QB2 option despite a career 41:6 touchdown-interception ratio against the Vikings.
Others: Kirk Cousins (@ GB), Mitchell Trubisky (@ DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Sony Michel (@ MIA)
The stat line for Michel (15 carries for 14 yards) wasn’t pretty in the opener, but he had no room to operate as Pittsburgh seemed to prioritize stopping the run. This week, the 2018 first-round pick will get more opportunities against Miami’s league-worst roster, and it’s notable that Michel’s rookie-year breakout came in a 38-7 victory against the Dolphins in which he rushed 25 times for 112 yards and one touchdown. I have him ranked as my No. 9 running back for Week 2.
Thumbs Up: Damien Williams (@ OAK)
Williams saw limited action against Oakland last year, but he rushed 16 times for 89 yards (5.6 YPC) and one touchdown, and more important than the rushing production, his weekly receiving role should increase with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) out. Also, despite 11 touches for 93 yards by LeSean McCoy in his team debut, Williams remains the clear goal-line back on a high-powered offense, so he should stay in lineups as an upside RB2 for a game with shootout potential.
Thumbs Up: David Montgomery (@ DEN)
It would be a lot easier to evaluate Chicago’s fantasy options if Matt Nagy simplified the offensive game plan, but at the very least, I hope the extra days to prepare helped the Bears realize that Montgomery needs more than seven touches. Now, I don’t suddenly expect the rookie to be a workhorse like Josh Jacobs was against Denver, but 12+ touches would make him a solid FLEX option, and the Broncos—even at home—can be worn down on a short week.
Thumbs Up: Adrian Peterson (v DAL)
With Derrius Guice (knee) likely missing an extended period of time, Adrian Peterson will be active on gameday and should lead the way on early downs for a Redskins squad that wants to run the ball. You can be sure that All Day wants to make sure he’s never a healthy scratch again, so look for him to run angry against a Dallas defense that he rushed for 99 yards on last year in a home victory. Peterson is a low-end RB2/FLEX option.
Others: Matt Breida (@ CIN), Jordan Howard (@ ATL)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Aaron Jones (v MIN)
Minnesota absolutely dominated the Falcons up front last week, and if they come out with the same energy on the road, those who spent an early pick on Jones may really be hitting the panic button by Sunday night. Besides a tough opponent, Jones is faced with continued concerns about a committee after seeing worse than a 60/40 split with Jamaal Williams in the opener (59% to 41% to be exact). I have him as more of a solid FLEX than strong RB2.
Thumbs Down: Devonta Freeman (v PHI)
The main two “Thumbs Down” options from last week (Freeman and the aforementioned Jones) combined for just 7.0 fantasy points, and them being here as repeats is all about the respective matchups. Philadelphia lost defensive tackle Malik Jackson (foot) for the season, but their front remains stout enough to make this a worrisome spot—especially when you look at what Freeman has done against them in the past with 38 attempts for 110 yards (2.89 YPC) and zero rushing touchdowns in four career meetings.
Thumbs Down: Leonard Fournette (@ HOU)
Fear of an injury was the reason Fournette was ranked as a low-end RB2 in our draft rankings, but I didn’t think it would be an injury to someone else (Nick Foles) that downgrades his outlook. Perhaps rookie Gardner Minshew will stay hot after going 22-of-25 off the bench in his first NFL action, but for now, Fournette will faced plenty of stacked boxes and has a significantly lower fantasy floor with a somewhat capped ceiling.
Thumbs Down: Phillip Lindsay (v CHI)
They started the season with a loss, but the Bears showed nothing to suggest they won’t be a shy-away matchup for running backs in 2019, so I wouldn’t mess around with what looks like a straight split in Denver’s backfield. While Lindsay saw a decent chunk of work (11 carries and four receptions) on Monday night, Royce Freeman turned ten carries into 56 yards and meaningful snaps on third downs (probably because the team trusts him in pass protection). Lindsay is closer to the top 40 than the top 20 this week.
Others: James White (@ MIA), Devin Singletary (@ NYG)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Sammy Watkins (@ OAK)
It’s important to not overreact to the bad or the good with less than 6% of the season in the books, but Watkins’ week-winning performance is worth celebrating if only because most of the industry couldn’t say enough negative things about him over the summer (and our WR19 draft ranking on Fantasy Consigliere was higher than anyone). A 9/198/3 line will make people quickly change their tune, though, and Watkins is a top-five play against an Oakland secondary that doesn’t seem to have anyone who can contain him.
Thumbs Up: Antonio Brown (@ MIA)
Brown will be removed from this list and deserves to be in prison if the rape allegations from last night are true, but the process may take a little bit to play out, and his participation at practice today suggests that a) the Patriots believe his denial, and b) he may play this weekend. If so, AB—who was said to have zero mental errors with Jon Gruden’s complex system in Oakland—can be immediately inserted into lineups as a top-12 option, and his stock will only grow from there if he stays on the team.
Thumbs Up: Tyrell Williams (v KC)
The primary beneficiary of Brown getting released by the Raiders was clearly Williams, and he didn’t waste any time in proving he could be a No. 1 receiver when he caught six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Again, the matchup against the Chiefs could turn into a shootout, and Williams has the size/speed to give the Kansas City cornerbacks trouble on the perimeter. He’s a low-end WR2 until further notice.
Thumbs Up: D.K. Metcalf (@ PIT)
Metcalf beat the clock to overcome minor knee surgery and play in Week 1, which is a testament to the kind of athlete he is. And not only did he play, but he played well, catching four-of-six targets for 89 yards against a quality Bengals secondary. This week, the matchup will be easier because Pittsburgh—which has a small cornerback group to begin with—could be missing Joe Haden (shoulder), and in general, Seahawks-Steelers has the makings of a high-scoring affair.
Others: John Brown (@ NYG), Mecole Hardman (@ OAK)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Josh Gordon (@ MIA)
In real life, I don’t think the Patriots will care at all about stats, as it will simply be fun for Gordon, Antonio Brown, and Julian Edelman—assuming AB is OK with it, though he’s the likely focal point anyway—to play together and all benefit from each other’s presence. For most weeks, the passing volume should be enough to keep Flash’s high-upside WR2 status in tact, but for a weekend trip to face a Miami team that just lost by 49 points, I’m not sure New England will pass enough to count on him. Plus, Gordon is the most likely candidate to draw Xavien Howard’s coverage on the outside.
Thumbs Down: DeSean Jackson (@ ATL)
I feel like this might be something I bring up more than anything when discussing wide receivers, but Dan Quinn’s defense simply doesn’t allow the deep ball, and Jackson knows that as well as anyone with just 11.4 yards per reception against Atlanta over the past two seasons. You might want to make up for not having DeSean in lineups last week, but overall, I think Sunday night projects as more of a running back and tight end game for Philly. Look elsewhere.
Thumbs Down: D.J. Moore (v TB)
Last season, Moore was held to just five receptions for 60 scoreless yards in two starts against the Buccaneers, and with everyone still relatively healthy at receiver, he might be getting a bit overvalued as a top-20 option. The 22-year-old will get a boost if Greg Olsen (back) doesn’t suit up, but Carolina has plenty of targets that could have a big night on Thursday, including Curtis Samuel, who averaged 15.7 fantasy points per game against the Bucs in 2018.
Thumbs Down: Robby Anderson (v CLE)
As stated, I’m worried about the matchup for Anderson against Denzel Ward, and after one week, he looks like a big-play dependent FLEX option on an offense that will be centered around Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder. For what it’s worth, this is actually the fourth year in a row that New York has faced Cleveland, and Anderson has combined for seven receptions and 69 scoreless yards so far.
Others: Larry Fitzgerald (@ BAL), Jarvis Landry (@ NYJ)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Darren Waller (v KC)
Waller caught seven-of-eight targets for 70 yards on Monday night, and that might just be the start of his 2019 breakout. On Hard Knocks, Jon Gruden notably called tight end the “lifeblood” of Oakland’s offense—and that was with Antonio Brown still on the team. Those comments were followed up by Gruden calling Waller “special” this week, and the former wide receiver is a mismatch nightmare that’s locked into a significant role. The Chiefs allowed eight receptions to tight ends in the opener.
Thumbs Up: Mark Andrews (v ARI)
I was and still am concerned about a lack of snaps limiting Andrews’ reliability and overall value, but the concerns can be pushed back a bit based on Baltimore’s upcoming schedule. This week, they’ll take on a Cardinals defense that just allowed T.J. Hockenson to go for a 6/131/1 line in his first NFL game, and the good part about splitting snaps with Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst is that someone needs to play if the game gets out of hand; that was Andrews last week when he caught a touchdown from Robert Griffin III.
Thumbs Up: Dallas Goedert (@ ATL)
Those planning to use Goedert this season need to do it based on matchups, as while last week’s outlook wasn’t great, Sunday night should be a different story. I expect Doug Pederson will want to attack the holes in Atlanta’s zone coverage with Zach Ertz and Goedert on the field together, and the safeties/linebackers being drawn to Philly’s starter will allow his backup to do some damage. Hopefully some of it comes in scoring territory.
Other: Noah Fant (v CHI)
Thumbs Down of the Week: T.J. Hockenson (v LAC)
Aside from Dak Prescott going off, the shortened version of “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” last week was very accurate…. until the tight ends. Hockenson was a big reason for that, as I thought Arizona’s weakness on the perimeter would be exploited, but it was actually the middle of the field that routinely busted coverages for the rookie to run free through. The Chargers—a team that has shutdown Travis Kelce in the past—won’t be quite as generous, and there’s a fairly good chance Hockenson just had his best game of the season.
Thumbs Down: Trey Burton (@ DEN)
I wouldn’t be too optimistic about Burton (groin) playing in Week 2, but even if he does, Chicago has too many players that need targets for him to be worth considering at less than 100%. Also, I would personally want to see Mitchell Trubisky play better before starting anyone other than Allen Robinson out of the Bears’ wideouts and tight ends.
Thumbs Down: Virgil Green (@ DET)
Hunter Henry’s broken leg will force Green into an expanded role over the next month or so (unless the team signs Antonio Gates again), but he’s more of a blocking tight end that needs a touchdown to be worth a start for fantasy owners. The young options—even the ones I’m lower on than most people—have more upside than the veteran.
Other: Jack Doyle (@ TEN)