Week 2 is upon us! Week 1 was definitely a weird one with all the injuries and the surprising backfield snap percentages. Mainly I believe that due to no preseason, players are being eased into the offense and as the weeks progress we should see an increase in snap percentages. Without further ado let’s get into this weeks plug em and sit em’s!
Plug em in
Jared Goff (LA Rams): Goff had a great game against a stellar Cowboys defense, throwing for 275 yards on 20 completions. Malcolm Brown got both the touchdowns resulting to a low fantasy game for Goff. This week Goff is up against a very weak Eagles defense that blew a 17-0 lead to Dwayne Haskins. I’d expect Goff to air out this very weak Eagles defense that might be without DE Barrnet this week.
Tom Brady (TB Buccaneers): Brady had a poor first half against the Saints last week, he had trouble getting anything going. His main target, Mike Evans, was shut out by a very good Saints defense. This week, Brady is up against a Panthers defense that allowed Derrick Carr to throw for 239 yards and drop 34 points during week 1. With Evans back in the mix, I would expect this to be a blowout by the Bucs and Brady to take advantage of this week defense and regain his hype.
Mathew Stafford (DET Lions): Mathew Stafford looked great week 1 against a very good Bears defense and without his favorite target, Kenny Golladay. He threw for 297 yards to TJ Hockenson and Danny Amendola. With Golladay expected to be back for the Lions and Matt Patricia desperate to win, Stafford will air out the Packers who defensively did not look great in week 1. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings dropped 34 points on the Packers defense and Adam Thielen had 6/110/2 stat line. Big day coming up for the Stafford/ Golladay duo this Sunday.
Sit em out
Derrick Carr (LV Raiders): Derrick Carr was able to have a nice game against a weak Panthers defense. This will not be the case this week against a good Saints secondary that picked off Brady twice and shut down Mike Evans. With a young receiver core, Carr will struggle this week against the Saints.
Deshaun Watson (HOU Texans): The Texans offensive line looked absolutely horrendous in the season opener against the Chiefs. This made it very hard for Watson to find his receivers. Also majority of Watsons fantasy points last week, came during garbage time when Chiefs were up by 3 scores (only had 7 points first half). Texans are against the Ravens defense in week 2 that has an even better defensive line (Derek Wolfe, Calias Cambell, Mathew Judon, Brandon Williams) than the chiefs. The Ravens shut down OBJ (3 catches for 22 yards on 10 targets) and Baker Mayfield (189 yards and 1 int) in week 1s bout against the Browns. Even with Watson’s rushing ability I would be wary of starting him his week against the Ravens.
Daniel Jones (NY Giants): Jones had a decent game week 1 putting up 19.36 fantasy points against the Steelers in a close game. He will have a much harder time week 2 against a Bears defense that allowed an average of 13.7 fantasy points to QBs in 2019. The Bears defense includes many big names in Tashaun Gipson, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller Roquan Smith and Khalil Mack. Jones will have a tough time this week against a strong Bears secondary.
Plug em in
Raheem Mostert (SF 49ers): Mostert was the only thing going for the 49ers offense on Sunday against the Cradinals. The surprising part was that Mostert was given goal line work as well. With a 60% snap percentage among RBs in week 1, Mostert put up 25.10 fantasy points. This week Niners are up against a Jets defense that allowed 98 rushing yards to the Bills rushers (Allen, Singletary and Moss). I am expecting a blowout game this week considering how much the Jets offense struggled against the Bills defense, Mostert should have another nice game running out the clock. Deebo Samuel is also still out with an injury which bodes well for Mostert.
Todd Gurley (ATL Falcons): Todd Gurley put up 13.70 fantasy points playing only 46% of the snaps for the Falcons. This low percentage may be due to the Seahawks airing it out in the first half and HC Dan Quinn wanting to rest Gurley. Quinn did mention before season started that Gurley will see 15-25 carries a game on a weekly basis. Falcons are against a Cowboys defense that maybe without Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee in week 2. In week 1 Cowboys also let Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers run for a 100 yards against them and let uppitiest 2 rushing TDs. Gurley should see a higher snap percentage this week against the Cowboys week run defense.
Jonathan Taylor (IND Colts) : Phillip Rivers loves throwing to his running backs (Austin Ekeler owners you can cry its okay), in week 1 Rivers targeted Taylor 6 times and Hines 8 times as well as Mack 3 times before he got hurt. Now with Taylor having the starting role he will see an increaser in carries and targets. Colts are also against the Vikings this week who looked decent against the run but still allowed the Packers to have 158 rushing yards (mainly due to Packers running the ball with the lead). The promising part however, is the efficiency of the Packers backs in the passing game and that is where Hines and Taylor will shine this week.
Sit em out
Mark Ingram (BAL Ravens): 3 headed committee in the Ravens backfield as it seems from week 1. Ingram only played 36% of the snaps and wasn’t targeted at all in the passing game. Even though the Texans defense let CEH run all over them week 1 I would be wary of starting Ingram this week just because of Dobbins and Edwards stealing carries.
Kenyan Drake (ARI Cardinals): This one hurt to watch week 1. Drake and Edmunds seems to be in a full on committee in the Cardinals backfield. Drake got 16 carries and Edmunds got 6 however, Drake was barely used in the passing game only getting 2 receptions. Edmunds got targeted 5 times by Murray. Cardinals running backs also have a really tough game this week against Chase Young and the talented Washington front 7. Eagles only managed 57 yards with 17 attempts against Washington. Sit Drake this week against the Washington football team
Melvin Gordon (DEN Broncos): Melvin Gordon owners might have gotten a steal as Phillip Lindsey is expected to miss time due to turf toe. Even then I would bench Gordon this week against a Steelers defense that shut Saquon Barley down to 6 yards on 15 carries! This Steelers defensive line is legit.
Plug em in
Anthony Miller (CHI Bears): Anthony Miller (4/76/1) out played Allen Robinson (5/74/0) week 1 with only 42% snap share! Nagy was easing in Miller who’s returning from a shoulder injury especially since there was no preseason. I would expect this percentage to increase going into week 2 against a very weak Giants secondary that allowed JuJu (6/69/2) and Dionte Johnson (6/57/0) to have great games. If Mitchel Trubisky can keep up his performance I would expect both Robinson and Miller to have great games.
Cowboys WRs (Dal Cowboys): I was reluctant of drafting Cowboys WRs due to the insane amount of talent on the field however, Dak Prescott was able to get everyone the ball. Cooper, Gallup and Lamb had 18.10, 8.00, 10.90 fantasy points respectively against a good Rams defense that includes pro bowl corner back, Jalen Ramsey. This week against the Falcons who allowed Wilson to throw for 322 yards and drop 4 TDs I would expect the Cowboys offense to have field day.
Parris Campbell (IND Colts): It was Parris Campbell (6/71/0 on 9 targets) who was Phillip Rivers favorite target week 1 and not veteran TY Hilton (4/53/0 on 9 targets). Campbell plays the same role for the Colts that Keenan Allen played for the Chargers making him a go to target for Rivers. A favorable matchup against a Vikings defense that got aired out by Rodgers in week 1 bodes well for Campbell and the Colts WRs.
Sit em out
DJ Moore (CAR Panthers): This ones an easy sit em for this week and there are two reasons why. First reason is that Teddy Bridgewater and DJ Moore will be up against a tough Buccaneers defense that shut down Drew Brees (18/30 for 160 yards and 2 tds) and Michael Thomas (3/17/0). Second reason is that DJ Moore wasn’t Teddy Bridgewater favorite target week 1, it was actually Robby Anderson who had 6 receptions fro 114 yards and 1 touchdown. DJ Moore is a must sit this week in a tough matchup.
DJ Chark (JAC Jaguars): Minshew Mania is back BABY! However, it seems like Chark got left behind. Out of Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault and DJ Chark, Chark had the least amount of targets with 3 and Cole led the way with 5. I don’t expect it to stay the way but I would be wary of Chark until I see him lead the pack. Jags also play the Titans defense this week that have a solid corner back in Malcolm Butler. There are better options available than Chark this week.
AJ Green (CIN Bengals): AJ Green is finally back and ready to take the league by storm… it might have to wait a couple weeks. Green had a tough matchup week 1 against Casey Hayward and was held to 51 yards and no touchdown. Green has another tough matchup week 2 against Denzel Ward who ranked as a top 25 CB in 2019 according to PFF. Joe Burrow is also getting eased into the NFL and without a preseason its going to take a few weeks. I would be wary of Green this week in a tough matchup.
Plug em in
Logan Thomas (WAS Football team): Logan Thomas is this years Darren Waller. Thomas and Haskins have already developed a really promising connection. Thomas led the Washington football team in targets (8) against the Eagles week 1. He hauled in only 4 receptions but got 37 yards and 1 td from it. The promising part are the targets. Week 2 the Washington football team are up against the Cardinals who allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2019. With Scary Terry likely to be covered by Pro Bowl corner, Patrick Peterson, Haskins will be looking at Thomas a lot this week.
CJ Uzomah (CIN Bengals ): Rookie QBs love their tight ends and that was evident in the Bengals versus Chargers game last Sunday. Joe Burrow targeted Uzomah 5 times from which Uzomah hauled in 4 receptions for 45 yards against a tough Chargers defense. This week the Bengals are up against the Browns who just let up 2 TDs to Mark Andrews in week 1s matchup against the ravens. With Denzal Ward on AJ Green and Joe Mixon struggling on the ground, CJ Uzomah and Tyler Boyd are in for a big game on Thursday night.
Other starts: Tyler Higbee (LA Rams), Jared Cook (NO Saints), Eric Ebron (PIT Steelers)
Sit em out
Noah Fant (DEN Broncos): Noah Fant was the only viable fantasy starter for the Broncos since Courtland Sutton did not play week 1. Fant flourished catching 5 passes from 6 targets for 81 yards and 1 touchdown. For a relatively new QB like Drew Lock, a tight end can really be a quarterbacks best friend. I would expect this connection to struggle however in week twos matchup against the Steelers who shut down Evan Engram to 2.90 fantasy points and ranked 5h in 2019 against TEs. If Sutton is able to suit up this week expect Fants numbers to drop even more.
Rob Gronkowski (TB Bucs): Gronkowski has been on our do not draft list since the Bucs added him. Once again this week, he isn’t someone you should start. OJ Howard led all tight ends for the Bucs in targets and receptions. Howard also got looked at in the red zone. Gronk on the other hand did not get a single red zone target. The Panthers defense was surprisingly tough on Darren Waller last week and held him to 45 yards and 0 TDs. I just don’t like Gronk as a fantasy viable TE this year.
Other Sits: Hayden Hurst (ATL Falcons), Chris Herndon (NY Jets), Jack Doyle (MIN Vikings)
Plug em in
Rams D/ST: Rams are up against a weak Eagles offense that is missing 3 starting offensive linemen and let the Washington defensive line sack Carson Wentz 8 times week 1! Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd are going to eat this week. Also the Rams Secondary led by Jalen Ramsey are much stronger than the Washington secondary so expect more turnovers.
Other Starts: Bucs D/ST, Niners D/ST, Bills D/ST
Sit em out
Cowboys D/ST: Matt Ryan and the Falcons aired out the Seahawks defense throwing for 450 yards during week 1. Cowboys also lost Leighton Vander Esch during week 1s loss to the LA Rams. I am expecting this game to be a shootout and neither of these defenses will show up this week.
Other sits: Titans D/ST, Patriots D/ST, Chargers D/ST
This article goes into depth of some players you should start (plug em in) or bench (sit em out) during week 1. This doesn’t include the top 5 at every position as they are always must start and not dependent on matchups. As always comment any questions and what y’all think!
‘Plug em in’ Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger: The Giants have arguably the worst defense in the NFL. They lost key pieces of their secondary over the last two seasons, including Landon Collins, Deandre Baker, Eli Apple and Janoris Jankens. Even with last week’s addition of Logan Ryan, the Giants will struggle to shut down opposing offenses. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off an injury but has been having a great training camp. In 2018, (the last time Big Ben played a full season), he led the league with 5129 yards. Expect a big game from Roethlisberger and the Steeler’s passing offense.
Matt Ryan: The Atlanta Falcons play the Seahawks this week in a game that should be a shootout due to both teams lackluster defenses and high powered offenses. The biggest weakness of the Seahawks defense is their defensive line. With the loss of Jadeveon Clowny and Frank Clark over the past two seasons their d-line lacks the ability to create QB pressure it once possessed. This will allow Matt Ryan to have an abundance of time in the pocket to read the defense and complete passes. Ryan also benefits from his WR duo that includes Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, along with the Falcon’s new offensive weapons, Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst. The Falcons are also getting back their right guard, Chris Lindstorm, who was held out his rookie season in 2019 due to an injury. Sit back and watch Matt Ryan air out the Seattle defense.
Cam Newton: Dual-threat Quarterbacks are always valuable in fantasy football. Cam Newton is up against a developing Dolphins defense. Since he got signed, Cam has been on a mission to regain his spot as an elite NFL QB. Patriots coaches and players report that Newton practices nonstop, being the first one in and last one out. It’s been a while since Newton has seen the field. He was reinjured early in 2019 after initially injuring his shoulder in 2018. In 2018 Newton was averaging over 20 fantasy points a game before his injury. Now that he is healthy and has new offensive weapons in Julian Edelman, James White, K’Neal Harry and one of the greatest coaches in our generation in Bill Belicheck, Cam Newton should have a good game against the weak Dolphin’s front-seven.
Carson Wentz : The Washington Football team has a really good defensive line, but their defense has lots of missing pieces. Their secondary ranks at 30th overall according to PFF for 2020. With the loss of their star CB Quinten Dunbar, WAS’s secondary will be even weaker than last year. Offensively, Wentz will have Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery back as weapons. He will also have Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert in the passing game. In 2019 the two games against Washinton, Wentz had 25 and 19 fantasy points respectively. Carsen Wentz should be in for a big game on sunday.
Sneaky starts QBs: Daniel Jones, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garroppolo
‘Sit em out’ Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers is not the same since his injury and one of the biggest reasons for that is the lack of receiver talent for the Packers. Other than Devante Adams the Packers don’t have a clear WR2 rather they have two WR3s. Matt LeFluer also did not make any attempt during the draft to grab one, instead he drafted QB, Jordan Love in the first round. They also grabbed running back AJ Dillon in the draft. Matt Lefluer is also leaning towards running the ball a lot more in Green Bay. Finally looking at Aaron Rodgers’ two games against Minnesota in 2019 he scored 13 and 9 fantasy points respectively. There are lots of better options than Rodgers this week don’t settle.
Kirk Cousins: It’s very simple to dissect why Cousins is a bench player for this week. First of all the Packers defense is very good, especially their pass rush led by Za’darius Smith and Preston Smith. Cousins will be under pressure all game and will need to get that ball out quick. This results in a problem because Packers have Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos sitting in the secondary awaiting a bad throw. Secondly, the Vikings lack a receiver other than Adam Thielen. Thielen will be the primary target of the Green Bay defense. Justin Jefferson is a rookie and this will be his first NFL game (due to no preseason), in a tough matchup here it’s likely he struggles. Lastly in 2019 Cousins scored 8 and 7 fantasy points respectively against the Packers and ended as QB20 overall. Kirk Cousins will be a matchup dependent starter for 2020.
Phillip River: Phillip Rivers is coming into a run heavy offense with the Indianapolis Colts (in 2019 Colts ranked 4th with 29.4 rush attempts per game). In San Diego with Keenan Allen, Rivers ended as QB6 however, you should expect his numbers to drop without his star wideout and in Frank Reich’s offense. The Colts are also up against a very lacking Jaguars team in a game that is likely to be a blowout. Colts will be running out the clock with the dynamic duo of Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. Finally the Colts receivers are still very underdeveloped outside of TY Hilton and Jack Doyle. Rivers will likely lean on the run game for week 1 as well as for the majority of the season.
Ryan Tannehill: There is no doubt that the Titans are a run heavy offense. In 2019 the Titans ran 48.79% of the time which was the third highest in the league. Week 1 the Titans are up against a very formidable Broncos defense. The biggest talents on this defense include their front seven as well as a solid corner in Bryce Calahan. This will make it very hard for Tannehill to get the ball into his star wideout, AJ Brown’s hands, as he is likely to be shadowed by Callahan or AJ Bouye. Outside of Brown this team lacks reliable receiving targets. Against this tough Broncos defense bench Ryan Tannehill.
Bust QBs: Drew Lock, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater
‘Plug em in’ Running backs
Marlon Mack: Marlon Mack has been getting the majority of the first team work throughout training camp. Mack has notably been excelling with passing work, catching everything Philip Rivers throws in his direction. His backup, Jonathan Taylor, has been struggling throughout camp with receiving work and pass blocking. Taylor is likely to get some of the first down work but expect the majority of it to go to the Colts star back who ran over a 1000 yards last season. The Colts are also up against a poor Jaguars defense that has lost its talented players over the past two seasons. Other than Josh Allen, the defensive line includes a few unproven no names who will have trouble stopping Mack and the Colts O-line. Colts are likely to go up in score early and just run out the clock with Mack and Taylor.
David Johnson: David Johnson is getting another shot in 2020 with the Houston Texans. Bill O’Brien traded potentially the best receiver in the league for Johnson in the offseason and has claimed he wants the Texans to start running more this season. The Texans offensive line (ranked 22) is also a moderate improvement over the Cardinals offensive line (ranked 29). David Johnson has proven himself as a receiving back for the Cardinals, so in a high scoring game against the Chiefs, Johnson should get his share of targets. The Chiefs also allowed 124.8 rush yards per game last season, which ranked 8th highest in the NFL. In his Texan’s debut, David Johnson should act as a workhorse back and gather a touchdown or two.
Todd Gurley: Gurley has a chance to be one of the biggest steals of 2020. As previously mentioned, the Falcons-Seahawks game is projected to be one of the highest scoring games of the week. In a game that is set to be an offensive battle, Gurley should run through Seattle’s defensive line that is devoid of talent. Todd Gurley is coming off a great training camp receiving praise from coaches and players like OT Jake Mathews and FB Keith Smith. The OC for the Falcons has also stated that Gurley will be given 15-25 carries a game, which could give him RB1 potential. Gurley has also said his knees feel much better from the past two seasons. The Falcons have spent numerous high-value draft picks on offensive lineman the past two seasons, and the signing of Todd Gurley makes their intent to run the football more obvious. Plug in Gurley in your lineups this week!
James Conner: James Conner and the Steelers are up against a weak Giants defense in week 1. The Steelers will be running the ball a lot to control the clock and keep the ball way from Saquon Barkley and the talented Giants offense. James Conner missed 6 games in 2019 due to assorted injuries saw his rushing numbers drop tremendously. Now fully healthy and with Ben Roethlisburger under center, James Conner can hopefully get back to his 2018 pro bowl form. This favorable matchup for the Steelers lead back is a great opportunity for fantasy owners to regain trust in him.
Sneaky start RBs: Jordan Howard, James White, Boston Scott
‘Sit em out’ Running Backs
David Montgomery: David Montgomery is returning from an injury he suffered at camp just a few weeks ago. It is likely he will need some time to fully recover before he cant get back to his 2019 form. The Bears are also up against a high scoring offense on the Lions. The Bears will have to pass the ball a lot more this game to keep up with Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. The Lions front seven also added two new weapons in DT Nick Williams and LB Jamie Collins Sr. David Montgomery will have a tough time producing to start off 2020.
Lions backfield: The Lions backfield is a mess fantasy wise. With the addition of rookie, D’andre Swift, and veteran, Adrian Peterson, to the 1-2 punch of Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson, the Lions backfield is too crowded. D’andre Swift is a player to keep on your bench for now as he is the RB4 in the Lions depth chart currently. Swift is also returning from an injury he suffered at camp a few weeks back. Adrian Peterson will steal goal line work from Kerryon Johnson as well as some early down work. This would ideally lead to Kerryon Johnson as being a weak flex however, this week he is someone you should bench. This is because the Lions are up against a top 5 defensive line and both Johnson and Peterson are unlikely to produce. If you have any of the Lions running backs on your roster, just wait and see how the season progresses and who emerges as the lead back.
Miles Sanders: Miles Sanders is a stud and it will be very tough for you to bench him as he was likely an early round pick. However, I advise you to be wary of him and see if it’s possible to rely on him a little less in week 1. Washington’s defensive line is projected to be one of the best in 2020. With the addition of Chase Young to Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Daron Payne, this group will be very tough to run against. Not to mention that Miles Sanders is coming off an offseason injury and will be slow to start. Another reason to be wary is that the Eagles offensive line has lost three starters over the past couple of months. Running the ball may not be as easy with a group of lineman who haven’t had any game time to garner chemistry. More so I would expect the Eagles to go up early and run out the clock with backup RB, Boston Scott in order to keep Sanders healthy. Don’t expect Miles Sanders to put up RB1 numbers during his week 1 match up.
Melvin Gordon: Melvin Gordon is now in a full blown committee in Denver with Phillip Lindsey and Royce Freeman. What makes it worse is that Gordon is coming off a rib injury that kept him out of practice just last week. This led to Lindsey and Freeman cutting into Gordon’s first team reps. The Broncos are also up against a former playoff contender, the Titans. The Titans were also ranked 13th in 2019 in rush yards allowed per game. With the tough matchup and the limited reps it’s safe to say bench Gordon week one.
Bust RBs: Jags RBs, Bucs RBs, Cam Akers
‘Plug em in’ Wide Receivers
Jamison Crowder: Jamison Crowder looks to be the newest PPR darling in fantasy football. He doesn’t get a whole lot of YAC and doesn’t get many deep targets, but Darnold loves to hit him on short passes. Against Buffalo last season, Crowder scored 24.3 and 20 fantasy points in PPR leagues. Crowder should be able to avoid All-Pro CB Tre’davious White by moving into the slot, where he does most of his damage. With Darnold under center, Crowder is set to produce a consistent 15+ points, and should be considered a high-end flex or WR 2 every week.
DeSean Jackson: Jackson has been performing great in training camp and is set to explode this week. The Eagles are projected to blow WAS out this week in what should be a decently high scoring performance by PHI’s offense. With rookie WR Jalen Reagor expected to miss the first game, DeSean Jackson should slot in as the #1 option for QB Carson Wentz. WAS also traded away star CB Quentin Dunbar, who was the best coverage back in the NFL according to PFF. Last season, in week 1 against WAS, Jackson caught 8 targets for 154 yards and 2 TDs. While he likely won’t achieve that same level of production, Jackson is the #1 option for a quality quarterback and should see his fair share of targets. I would definitely start him as a high-end flex if you were able to draft him.
Michael Gallup: All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey will have the responsibility of shadowing WR Amari Cooper on Sunday Night Football. This means that both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb should be inline for more targets than normal. The Rams-Cowboys game should be a high-scoring affair on both sides of the football and Dak Prescott should have a good game. While Cooper will likely get his fair share of targets, Gallup should see an increased workload with Ramsey on Cooper. I like his odds of ending as a WR 2 this week and I think he should be started in all leagues.
Sneaky Start WRs: Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf, Dionte Johnson
‘Sit em out’ Wide Receivers
Devante Parker: While Devante Parker was able to get the better of Stephon Gilmore in their second matchup last season, I would stay wary of starting him. The reigning DPOY is still a tough matchup and Parker has been limited in practice with an injury. If you have other options to start over Parker I would definitely use them. I would consider Parker a low-end flex this week.
Terry Mclaurin: While the hype on McLaurin has been out of control this offseason, his week 1 matchup doesn’t look great. Newly acquired CB Darius Slay should shadow McLaurin for most of the game. With a ferocious Eagle’s pass rush, QB Dwayne Haskins will have to get rid of the ball quickly. This means McLaurin will have to win his matchups with Slay, which is no easy task. Whie he likely won’t be shut down, I don’t think McLaurin is a dependable WR 2 this week, and should be relegated to your bench.
AJ Green: A.J. Green faces CB Casey Hayward in his first game since 2018. While Green was dominant when healthy, he hasn’t played in almost 2 seasons. He comes back to face one of the top corners in football. To add onto that, rookie QB Joe Burrow will take the stage for the first time in his NFL career. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing Burrow, I don’t like the Bengal’s passing offense week 1. That being said, as Burrow acclimates to the NFL after the first few weeks (and Green stays healthy) I think Green can become a dependable WR 2 for the future. This week, I would try and find a better option.
Amari Cooper: Amari Cooper will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey in week 1. As previously mentioned, Ramsey is one of the top corners in the NFL, and Cooper likely won’t be as effective as usual. Cooper, who tends to be a boom-bust receiver, is set up to bust in week 1. I personally wouldn’t start Cooper if I had better receivers with more favorable matchups, but if you are desperate then he is a high-risk, medium-reward level play.
Bust WRs: Allen Lazard, Tyler Boyd, Deebo Samuel
‘Plug em in’ Tight Ends
Hayden Hurst: The Falcons are playing the Seahawks in a high scoring matchup. Everyone on the field should have a nice outing, especially Falcons newest addition, Hayden Hurst. In 2019 Falcons TE, Austin Hooper, ranked seventh in PPR PPG with only thirteen games under his belt. It seemed like the Falcons finally utilized their TE under their new OC Dirk Koetter. Koetter specifically traded for Hurst for this high powered Falcons offense for 2020. Moreover Seattle is very weak against TEs, in 2019 they allowed 70.8 yards per game to TEs which was the third most in the league.
George Kittle: George Kittle is an absolute beast and is a must start most weeks, especially week one against the Cardinals. In 2019 Cardinals allowed the most points to opposing TEs with 13.1 fantasy points per game! Even with the addition of rookie Isiah Simmons, expect this number to stay relatively high mainly with Kittle, who is arguably the best TE in the league. Another reason to expect Kittle to produce this week is that this Niners versus the Cardinals game is a set to be a high scoring divisional game. Expect many targets to George Kittle as Deebo Samuel is likely to be shadowed by standout CB Patrick Peterson.
Austin Hooper: Austin Hooper finally broke out in 2019 with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2020 he finds a new home with the Browns. Throughout training camp it’s been reported that Hooper and Mayfield have a real connection on the field and that Mayfield has found him multiple times in the endzone. Expect this connection to carry over to the week one matchup against the Ravens. The Ravens were tough against TEs in 2019 allowing only an average of 5 PPG. However, they lost Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas during the offseason so expect this number to rise. Especially against a stacked Browns offense because the main targets for the Ravens defense will be to stop Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. Hooper is our high-risk high-reward starter of the week!
Sneaky start TEs: Tyler Higbee, Blake Jarwin, Will Dissly
‘Sit em out’ Tight ends
Mike Gesicki: Gesicki developed a ton of offseason hype over the past few months. However expect him to under-produce during the start of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has gotten the start over Tua which will lead to less receptions to the TE, as Fitzpatrick rarely targeted his TE in 2019. Rookie QBs tend to target TEs more due to them being a security blanket for dump offs. Until Tua gets the start I would be wary of Gesicki. Another reason to bench Mike Gesciki week one is because they are up against a tough Patriots defense that only allowed 6.6 fantasy points to opposing TE in 2019. The first game in 2019 against the Patriots, Gesicki only scored 2.10 fantasy points. It’s safe to say be wary of Mike Gesicki until Tua gets the start.
Chris Herndon: Chris Herndon will be a vital part of the Jets offense in 2020 however, it’ll have to wait till week two. The Jets are up against a tough Bills defense that only allowed 5.8 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs. In 2019 the Jets also had a tough time involving a TE into their offense. When Herndon went down due to an injury, Ryan Griffen stepped up and also played no role in that Jets offense. With no preseason this year it will take time for Herndon to learn to play a big role in this offense and this tough Bills defense doesn’t bode well for him.
Rob Gronkowksi: Rob Gronkowski has been reunited with QB, Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and expectations are high for this duo. However we are not on this hype train especially against the Saints who allowed only 7.1 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs in 2019. The Buccaneers offense includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette and rookie Ke’shawn Vaughn. So Gronk will have to compete for targets with all these offensive weapons when he is on the field. Not only that but Gronk will have to compete for field time with Cameron Brate and OJ Howard as Bruce Arians has mentioned he wants a TE committee to keep all his TEs fresh.
Busts TEs: Dawson Knox, Packers TEs, Maxx Williams
‘Plug em in’ D/ST
Eagles D/ST: Eagles D/ST is up against a weak Washington offense that only has Terry Mclaurin as a weapon. Mclaurin will likely be shadowed by Darius Slay leading the offense to get shut out. Eagles defense also made many new additions during the offseason that include CB Darius Slay, DT Javon Hargrave, CB Nickel Robey-Coleman, LB Jatavius Brown as well as a rookie LB in the third round of the 2020 draft. The defensive line for the Eagles is fully healthy as well. Expect the Eagles D/ST to put up solid numbers against the Washington Football team.
Colts D/ST: Colts are up against the Jaguars in week one. Jaguars have one of the weakest offenses heading into the 2020 season. With the loss of Leonard Fournette and Nick Foles during the offseason this offense which ranked the 13th lowest in 2019 is expected to be worse heading into 2020. The Colts also made a big upgrade to their defensive line by adding a top 5 DT in Deforest Buckner. Expect Buckner to make an immediate impact on their defense. The Colts D/ST also has a very underrated secondary in Malik Hooker, Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin who will make more plays now that the defensive line, led by Buckner, will be pressuring opposing QBs.
Chargers D/ST: The Chargers are up against a newly led offense, the Bengals. Without a preseason it’s hard to predict how Joe Burrow will perform in his first NFL game. To make matters worse for Joe Burrow, he is up against a top ten defense in the Chargers. With the loss of Derwin James during the offseason this defense will take a big hit but that impact will be limited due to the Chargers newest additions. The Chargers drafted Kenneth Murray, LB in the first round who is expected to be their starting LB. They also added a top 5 slot CB, Chris Harris Jr. in the free agency. Their standout LE, Joey Bosa is expected to be fully healthy heading into the 2020 season. The Chargers D/ST is a must start this week against the Bengals.
49ers D/ST: The Niners arguably had the strongest defense in 2019. However, they went all the way to the super bowl so it’s likely they show a slight regression. With the loss of Deforest Buckner and no new additions to their CBs, the Niners defense will struggle against a tough matchup against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. The Cardinals added Deandre Hopkins, arguably the best WR in the league during the offseason. Since Richard Sherman doesn’t follow and stays on only one side of the field, Hopkins will have a few favorable matchups against Emmanuel Mosely. Against the Niners as a rookie in 2019, Kyler Murray was able to amass 391 passing yards, 4 pass td’s, 0 interceptions, 101 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. It’s clear that even the 49’ers dominant defense wasn’t able to stop him. This is also a divisional game, expect it to be high scoring and controlled offensively.
Patriots D/ST: The Patriots D/ST in 2019 was absolutely insane, averaging a whopping 14.8 fantasy points a game. Expect this number to drop a lot heading into 2020. The New England Patriots had a league high covid-19 opt out with 8 players. Two of those players are linebackers Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung. The Patriots also arguably have a weaker offense than in 2019 due to the loss of Tom Brady and no sign of a clear running back. A weaker offense puts more pressure on the defense to finish games. There is also a trend of the Dolphins showing out against the Patriots every year. Devante Parker destroyed standout CB, Stephon Gilmore in their 2019 matchup getting 8 catches for 137 yards. I would avoid the Patriots D/ST this week.
Every year there is that one defense that surprises everyone and ends up being a league winner. In 2019, that was the Patriots D/ST who averaged 11.8 Fantasy ppg. It’s unlikely that another team in 2020 will do that well because the Patriots had an absurdly easy schedule last year that helped their already-strong defense succeed. In this article our analysts will list teams that are the most likely and the teams that are least likely along with some sleeper defenses to target late in the draft.
This is list is based on:
Strength of schedule
Last year rankings
FA and post draft additions
As always if there are any questions about our decisions leave a comment!
Defenses primed for regression:
Hamza + Eric + Javier (same consensus by all analysts)
Niners D/ST: Loss of Buckner.Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, K’Wuan Williams dealing with soft tissue injuries.Had a superbowl run so the team has had less rest time. There is a trend that the best defense from the previous always experiences a slight regression. (Ex: Bears 2018-2019). Also is in one of the toughest divisions in football (NFC west).
Patriots D/ST: Many key defensive players opted out due to COVID. Dolphins and Bills got stronger offensively (divisional teams). Also one of the toughest schedules for 2020.
Defenses to avoid:
Bears D/ST: A struggling offense combined with a tough division puts the Bears defense in a bad position. Lost HaHa Clinton-Dix in the offseason.
NE D/ST: Being drafted at number 6 amongst all defenses is way too high for the reasons stated above.
RamsD/ST: The Rams have two of the best defensive players in football with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. These two helped them finish top 5 last year with 146 points an average of 9.1 points. However, their week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will prove to be tough after the great additions the Cowboys have made this offseason. You are better off looking elsewhere.
Broncos D/ST: 12th hardest schedule for 2020 according to NFL.com. Offense hasn’t found their groove yet. Same division as Chiefs and chargers. Loss of Chris Harris Jr. and Derek Wolfe.
Texans D/ST: Loss of DJ Reader, Jonathan Joseph, Mingo and Tashaun Gibson. In 2019 they ranked 19th overall as a defense after ranking 11th in 2018.Play the Chiefs week 1.Same division as Colts and Titans.
Tampa Bay D/ST: The Buccaneers were able to finish in the top 10 last season by having the 5th highest turnovers in the league. Tom Brady’s arrival will also put the defense in better game scripts. However, they get a nightmare week 1 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. They are not worth drafting and will be better off as a waiver wire pickup if available.
Defenses to target:
Vikings D/ST: Free agency additions- Michael Pierce, Trae Waynes, Anthony Zettel. Also drafted CB Jeff Gladney at pick 31 in the first round.
Cowboys D/ST: The Cowboys have relatively easy matchups against the NFC East opponents. Finishing last year at 17, the Cowboys have added Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen, and Aldon Smith. Their front seven is greatly improved and should be able to force turnovers with ease.
Bills D/ST: Talented defense and mediocre division. Offense will put them in favorable game scripts leading to opposing teams having to air it out. AFC east QBs they will face six times a year: Newton/Stidham, Darnold, Fitzpatrick/ Tua.
Colts D/ST: Added Deforest Buckner, Sheldon Day, Xavier Rhodes in free agency with Juston Houston, Darius Leonord, Malik Hooker and Kenny Moore
Chargers D/ST: Finishing last season at 7, the Chargers added top CB Chris Harris Jr. and DT Linval Joseph. While they do face the Chiefs twice a year, they should be considered otherwise weekly starters.
Colts D/ST: Easy schedule and great front seven for those sack points.
Saints D/ST: 9th easiest schedule. Ended 9th in 2019 in fantasy football at 8.4fppg and managed to keep most of the defense.
Ravens D/ST: Safe pick as the Ravens have been the second best in the league since 2018. They have added rookie Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and Justin Madubuike.
Chargers D/ST: Formidable defense that added Chris Harris and Linval Joseph in free agency, then drafted Kenneth Murray.