Thumbs Up of the Week: Tom Brady (v CAR)
Brady didn’t have the Tampa Bay debut he would have liked last week, but he still put up 20+ fantasy points without Mike Evans or Rob Gronkowski making a huge impact, and now the offense gets a cupcake matchup against the Panthers in Week 2. Look for Brady and his guys to come out angry and fire on all cylinders after a real game to build some chemistry. I have Brady as a top-five play.
Thumbs Up: Aaron Rodgers (v DET)
If last week was any indication, it looks like we will be getting the chip-on-his-shoulder version of Rodgers in 2020, and Detroit—coming off a tough loss in the opener—isn’t in position to stop him as they deal with some injuries on defense. Excluding the final game of 2018 in which he was concussed early, Rodgers has thrown for multiple scores in each of his past eight outings versus the Lions. I’m expecting to see more frozen ropes to Davante Adams and others on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ PHI)
The numbers obviously don’t pop in the box score (20-of-31 for 275 yards and one interception), but Goff played really well last week, and I think the showing bodes well for his overall outlook this year. The concern about a matchup in Philly isn’t high based on a) how the Los Angeles offensive line played against a talented Dallas front, and b) the Eagles’ defensive line being unable to make much of an impact versus a sub-par Washington line. Goff should produce as a low-end QB1.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v NO)
Similar to Goff, the numbers unfortunately didn’t match the actual performance for Carr in Week 1, but there is reason to be encouraged—as Henry Ruggs III flashed big-play ability, and the passing attack in general looked good but saw modest production with Josh Jacobs scoring three touchdowns. Things may need to be opened up for the opening of Allegiant Stadium versus a New Orleans defense that is better attacked through the air than on the ground; Carr is a high-floor streamer that could see increased upside in Week 2.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Deshaun Watson (v BAL)
We’ll see if the extended preparation time is able to make a difference, but Watson and the Texans were destroyed by the Ravens last November, 41-7, and Baltimore’s defense doesn’t look any friendlier in 2020. In the loss, Watson combined for just 182 scoreless yards (with two turnovers), and there would probably be more concern about Houston than there currently is if not for some late success in the opener when the game was all but decided. I have Watson as my QB15 for Week 2.
Thumbs Down: Carson Wentz (v LAR)
Many are pointing to the offensive line as reason for Philadelphia blowing a 17-point lead against Washington, but Wentz simply has to play better, and the Rams aren’t an opponent to get on track against. Although the former No. 2 overall pick has pulled a rabbit out of his hat in tough spots before, the Week 1 performance felt like a new low, and I’d have a difficult time trusting Wentz after he held onto the ball too long and forced passes into coverage last week.
Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (@ CHI)
You could see the flashes out of Jones on Monday night, but as said before the season, he might not be a quarterback that can be started confidently until the tough matchups over the first four weeks are in the books. Last season, Chicago limited Jones to just 4.2 yards per attempt in a low-scoring affair, and New York is still getting things together on their retooled offensive line. Look elsewhere for now.
Thumbs Down: Russell Wilson (v NE)
I still have Wilson ranked as a low-end QB1, and you probably aren’t benching him after he put up the most points at the position in Week 1. However, the Patriots remain perhaps the most stingy secondary in football after forcing three Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions last week, and Bill Belichick will do what he can to make Sunday night a low-scoring matchup. Those with another QB1 option (Aaron Rodgers was a late-round pick as a second quarterback in many leagues, for example) could think about subbing out Wilson.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Nick Chubb (v CIN)
Part of me thinks that it’s time to give up on the Browns after a 32-point loss in the opener, but maybe the Ravens are just that good, and going down 24-6 at halftime didn’t give us an accurate look at the kind of run-heavy system Kevin Stefanski wants to have. Cleveland would be wise to feed Chubb—who averaged 6.0 yards per carry on ten attempts last week—against a Cincinnati defense that allowed Chargers rookie Joshua Kelley to rush 12 times for 60 yards and a score in the opener. I’d say both Chubb and Joe Mixon should bounce back as RB1 options on Thursday night.
Thumbs Up: Ronald Jones II (v CAR)
Jones II undoubtedly passed the eye test in last week’s loss to the Saints, and his usage (19 touches) should have fantasy owners feeling confident about him as Tampa Bay’s clear lead back. The Panthers had the NFL’s worst run defense in 2019 and just allowed an overall RB1 week to Josh Jacobs, so Jones II should be positioned for a big day if the Bucs don’t change things up for some reason. Get the third-year back in lineups as a high-upside RB2.
Thumbs Up: Sony Michel (@ SEA)
Cam Newton should be a borderline QB1 after a dominant rushing performance in his Patriots debut, but I doubt Seattle is quite as vulnerable as the Dolphins were, and increased attention on the quarterback will open things up for Michel. Most are looking at the split backfield as cause for concern when it comes to New England’s starter, but he was expected to be eased in, and I would point to Michel converting the team’s first (and only) goal-line carry in Week 1 as reason to be optimistic about him as a low-end RB2/FLEX.
Thumbs Up: James Robinson (@ TEN)
The Jaguars were clearly being truthful about Robinson as their starter and lead back this year, as the undrafted rookie turned 17 touches into 90 yards in an upset victory over the Colts. Tennessee won’t be an easy matchup despite a solid showing by Melvin Gordon against them in Week 1, but Robinson’s workload will make him a worthy start.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Malcolm Brown (@ PHI)
Brown was excellent on Sunday night, but it’s important to not overreact based on one game, and the Eagles actually played strong run defense for as bad as they were overall in the opener. I’m expecting Sean McVay’s offense to slant more towards the pass this week, so Brown could go from waiver-wire darling to Week 2 disappointment for those expecting immediate returns with him in their lineup.
Thumbs Down: Benny Snell (v DEN)
Mike Tomlin has said that James Conner (ankle) has a shot to play this weekend, but if he’s out, Snell could still be a risky start versus a stout Denver defense. On Monday night, it took 31 carries for Derrick Henry to reach 116 yards, and Pittsburgh would be expected to simply air it out if needed with Ben Roethlisberger controlling the offense. If he draws the start, I’d say Snell is more of a touchdown-dependent RB2 than the borderline RB1/RB2 that Conner usually is.
Thumbs Down: Frank Gore (v SF)
I guess this is the week of avoiding new starters at running back, but Gore is another option that will face a tough matchup in New York’s first game without Le’Veon Bell. For the most part, the upside isn’t that high for the veteran runner, as he’s scored just two rushing touchdowns over his past 36 games, and Adam Gase will continue to rotate backs. I’d rather play a “backup” like Joshua Kelley or Latavius Murray.
Thumbs Down: Tevin Coleman (@ NYJ)
Coleman needs to remain rostered in all formats after just five touches in the opener, as he had a limited role to the air quality in San Francisco, and it was clear Kyle Shanahan wanted to give him the ball when on the field with a carry or target on all six of his offensive snaps. That said, the Jets are a difficult draw for Week 2, and it might be best to keep Coleman on the bench as he splits time with Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon.
Thumbs Up of the Week: A.J. Brown (v JAX)
Brown was a definite disappointment for those who needed a big game on Monday night (especially anyone that stayed up late on the east coast), but he could have easily exploded with a couple of missed would-be touchdowns that Ryan Tannehill didn’t even see—including a 90-yarder that analyst Louis Riddick pointed out on the ESPN broadcast. Tennessee has obviously watched tape and should make it a point to get Brown the ball against a 1-0 Jaguars team that won’t be taken lightly.
Thumbs Up: Julian Edelman (@ SEA)
A 23-yard run combined with five receptions for 57 yards quietly led to a solid performance from Edelman in the opener, and he could be the focal point on Sunday night as New England tries to pull off a road upset. The personnel is obviously different for Seattle, but Edelman has gone for lines of 9/109/1 and 7/99 in two career matchups against them (including Super Bowl XLIX), and he should be able to find the holes in zone coverage to produce WR2 numbers again.
Thumbs Up: CeeDee Lamb (v ATL)
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are both must-starts this week for a great matchup, but there will also be room for Lamb to be a significant factor with Blake Jarwin (knee) done for the season. In his debut, the No. 17 overall pick caught five-of-six targets for 59 yards and played 82% of the team’s offensive snaps, so fantasy owners can confidently get him in lineups as a high-upside FLEX for a probable shootout.
Thumbs Up: Tre’Quan Smith (@ LV)
The concern here is the Saints having enough weapons to simply turn to Taysom Hill, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, and others with Michael Thomas (ankle) out of the lineup, but Smith is at least worth considering as a big-play FLEX—especially since the Raiders have a young cornerback group that can be exploited on a double move with one Drew Brees pump fake. Nelson Agholor or Bryan Edwards can also be a capable MNF replacement for those holding out hope that Thomas will suit up.
Others: Marquise Brown (@ HOU), A.J. Green (@ CLE)
Thumbs Down of the Week: D.K. Metcalf (v NE)
Metcalf took advantage of a great matchup in Week 1 to put up a 4/95/1 line against Atlanta, but things get a lot more challenging on Sunday night with Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots coming to town. Last year, Metcalf didn’t even catch a pass when shadowed by Patrick Peterson in Week 16, so it’ll be a fun battle if we see Gilmore tasked with taking away the athletic wideout this week.
Thumbs Down: Will Fuller (v BAL)
Aside from David Johnson, the chemistry between Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller was basically the lone bright spot for Houston’s offense in Week 1, but the pairing might struggle this week against the confident Baltimore secondary. Also, it’s worth noting that Fuller’s two biggest games in 2019 were followed up by a combined six receptions for 52 scoreless yards, so he could quickly cool off. I have the Texans’ No. 1 target ranked as more of a volatile FLEX.
Thumbs Down: Marvin Jones (@ GB)
Kenny Golladay (hamstring) missing another game would probably lead to more targets for Jones, but I think he’d be better off as the No. 2 this week ahead of a matchup against Jaire Alexander. Since the Packers drafted Alexander in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Jones—who had previously destroyed Green Bay—has combined for three receptions in two matchups. I have the veteran ranked outside the top 30 at receiver.
Thumbs Down: Keenan Allen (v KC)
Again, it’s important to not overreact based on one game, but Allen might be the player I’m most concerned about from a fantasy perspective based on what happened last week—as Mike Williams seemed to be the preferred target for Tyrod Taylor. Although we saw Allen have a couple of big games last year against the Chiefs, I’d like to see it happen with Tyrod before confidently getting him back in the WR1/WR2 ranks.
Others: Tyler Lockett (v NE), Preston Williams (v BUF)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Rob Gronkowski (v CAR)
Gronkowski was a “Thumbs Down” for the opener due to the matchup, but I think we will see him unleashed on Sunday as Tampa Bay looks to bounce back from their loss in New Orleans. Any preseason talk of Gronk being the No. 3 tight end with a limited role shouldn’t have even been entertained as serious, but 77% of the snaps played last week officially puts it to bed.
Thumbs Up: Hayden Hurst (@ DAL)
While he didn’t have the Atlanta debut that fantasy owners would have liked, Hurst had a tough draw against Seattle, and the matchup will be much easier on Sunday for another likely shootout. Remember, the Cowboys will be without linebacker Vander Esch (collarbone), and Hurst could see plenty of favorable looks with Mike Nolan’s defense sending resources to contain (or attempt to contain) Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
Thumbs Up: Dan Arnold (v WAS)
Dallas Goedert gave Washington fits in Week 1 as an athletic tight end that can get vertical, and Arnold brings the same kind of skillset to start cashing in on the summer hype. Other options probably have a higher floor, but Arnold is a top-20 play for me in Week 2.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Chris Herndon (v SF)
Herndon had a very healthy role in the opener (six receptions for 37 yards on seven targets), but I wouldn’t count on a big game this week against an athletic San Francisco linebacker group. In general, I expect we will see a focused defense for the Niners as they fight to avoid an 0-2 start and talk of a Super Bowl hangover.
Thumbs Down: Jordan Akins (v BAL)
The positives piled up for Akins in the opener—production (39 yards and a touchdown), playing time (81% offensive snaps), and passing the eye test (impressive run-after-catch)—but as stated for Austin Hooper here last week, the Ravens allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2019. There are probably better options.
Thumbs Down: Logan Thomas (@ ARI)
We don’t know what kind of numbers George Kittle (4/44) would have put up last week if he wasn’t impacted by a mid-game knee injury, but standout rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons has the athleticism to erase opposing tight ends, so Arizona shouldn’t be the pushovers to the position they were in 2019. Thomas should be downgraded despite a touchdown last week.