Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v SEA)
Last year’s Seahawks-Lions game was a complete shootout that Seattle won, 48-45, but Goff threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns (one interception), and he’s arguably playing the best football of his career right now. Detroit having a few extra days to prepare should lead to plenty of offensive success, so if Goff is still available in your league and you need a starting option this week, we have him as a top-eight option for Week 2.
Thumbs Up: Geno Smith (@ DET)
On the other side of another possible high-scoring battle, Smith really slowed down in the second half of last week’s loss, but he threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions in 2022—also adding seven carries for 49 yards and a score on the ground. Geno did much of his damage throwing to DK Metcalf (149 yards) and Tyler Lockett (91 yards), which is a duo that will test the new-look Detroit secondary and puts the veteran passer in QB1 ranks.
Thumbs Up: Russell Wilson (v WAS)
Wilson operated a conservative passing attack last week, but he was efficient by completing 27-of-34 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns in a close loss to Las Vegas. Although the Commanders have a pass rush that can cause problems and make it a slugfest, I’m expecting Sean Payton to allow his quarterback to be a bit more aggressive—especially if Jerry Jeudy (hamstring) is back in the lineup. Wilson is one of a few strong QB2 plays for this week.
Thumbs Up: Brock Purdy (@ LAR)
All Purdy has done since taking over as the starter for San Francisco is win and have multi-touchdown games, so he’s established himself as a very reliable option for fantasy owners. At some point, I’d anticipate the ceiling being increased if Purdy is able to do a bit more as a runner (which is something we saw a glimpse of last week with three attempts for 20 yards). For the most part, Purdy will simply get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, and that is enough to make him a borderline top-15 option.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Dak Prescott (v NYJ)
Dallas didn’t have to throw the ball all over the yard last Sunday night in a 40-0 win over the Giants, and this weekend could be more of the same if Dan Quinn’s defense keeps up their high-level play in Zach Wilson’s first start of the year. Prescott will have huge games as the season progresses, but Mike McCarthy will have a ball-control offense when he can, and I don’t see them testing things with the Jets coming to town.
Thumbs Down: Matthew Stafford (v SF)
Stafford was locked in as the Rams took down the Seahawks in Week 1—resulting in 334 passing yards and a first down on 17 of his 24 completions. But the 49ers will be a much tougher matchup (particularly without Cooper Kupp), and Stafford has thrown for 230.5 yards per game with a 5:5 touchdown-interception ratio and 0-4 record against San Francisco in the regular season since being traded to Los Angeles. Consider him a low-end QB2.
Thumbs Down: Bryce Young (v NO)
The options for quarterbacks to avoid this week are slim, but Young struggled in his debut (146 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions), and I have general concerns about his outlook in Carolina. On Monday night, the No. 1 overall pick will be taking on a New Orleans defense that seems to have gotten their playmaking upside back, so Young is a quarterback to avoid until we see improved play from the Panthers as a whole.
Thumbs Down: Sam Howell (@ DEN)
Howell showing his toughness and willingness as a runner has been encouraging with a rushing touchdown in both career starts, and I think it’s something that will continue. That said, Sunday will be a major test as his first career road start versus a stingy Denver defense, and there are strides Howell needs to make playing from the pocket to feel confident about putting him in fantasy lineups. I’d recommend going with a high-floor option like Mac Jones instead.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Rhamondre Stevenson (v MIA)
Stevenson should already be locked into lineups, but he falls outside the RB1 ranks on sites such as ESPN and FantasyPros. Yes, the offensive line isn’t currently a strength for New England and Ezekiel Elliott saw more work than you’d like, but Stevenson handled 18 touches for 89 total yards in the opener—and that was despite missing practice on Friday due to a stomach bug. Facing a Miami defense that was just shredded by Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley for a combined 255 total yards and two touchdowns, Stevenson is our overall RB7.
Thumbs Up: James Cook (v LV)
The Jets were a difficult opponent to take on in Week 1, but Cook had 16 touches and six targets to lead the Buffalo backfield, and Las Vegas should make for a much easier matchup. Basically, the second-year back staying around 15 or so weekly touches will give him a good chance of remaining in the RB2 ranks, and his big-play ability should be on display before long. We have Cook in the top 20 at running back for Week 2.
Thumbs Up: D’Andre Swift (v MIN)
Kenneth Gainwell (ribs) sounds like a longshot to play on a short week, and Swift is expected to be a bigger part of the offense either way—with head coach Nick Sirianni saying after Sunday’s win that he “never [wants] to come out of a game where [Swift] has two touches.” Looking at last year’s September matchup, lead back Miles Sanders was given 20 touches against Minnesota, and Swift might get a shot to be featured if Gainwell is indeed out.
Thumbs Up: Zack Moss (@ HOU)
He’s coming off a broken arm, but Moss should immediately step in as the clear starter for Indy’s offense—especially after Deon Jackson struggled in the opener by turning 18 touches into 28 yards and fumbling twice (both lost). In last year’s season finale, Moss was able to rumble for 114 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries versus Houston, and he should at least be a low-end RB3 play in his 2023 debut.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Alexander Mattison (@ PHI)
I would think the Vikings will try to be a bit more balanced than last year’s matchup when Dalvin Cook rushed six times for 17 yards and Kirk Cousins threw it 46 times, but the Eagles are still a very stout opponent—and Mattison was saved by a short receiving touchdown in the opener. If he’s unable to find the end zone for the second week in a row, Mattison will likely disappoint on Thursday night. He barely cracks the top 30 at running back.
Thumbs Down: Miles Sanders (v NO)
Sanders also draws a difficult primetime matchup in Week 2, as the Saints limited Derrick Henry to 15 carries for 63 yards to begin the season, and backup Tyjae Spears caught just one-of-four targets for one yard. With the Panthers making it known they want a rotation at running back, I could see Sanders—following a poor showing for the offense as a whole—taking a hit in terms of workload after 22 touches against the Falcons, and Chuba Hubbard was the more efficient runner in Week 1 by turning nine carries into 60 yards.
Thumbs Down: Cam Akers (v SF)
The 22 rushing attempts for Akers last week might be somewhat misleading, as he only saw four carries in the first half before getting fed late to close out the game. Overall, it seems Kyren Williams is the lead back for Sean McVay’s offense (even if not the “starter”), and the possibility of falling behind versus the 49ers makes Akers a risky bet for Week 2 lineups.
Thumbs Down: Ravens RBs (@ CIN)
Justice Hill scored twice and Gus Edwards has been productive when given the opportunity throughout his career, but the Baltimore backfield might be best avoided in the first game without J.K. Dobbins (Achilles). Aside from simply not knowing which back might lead the way, it’s also notable that the Ravens are down two starting offensive lineman with Ronnie Stanley (knee) and Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) out. I would be looking elsewhere if you have options.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (v CHI)
He was a slight disappointment last week with five receptions for 51 yards, but Godwin sealed the game with a clutch 11-yard grab last week against the Vikings, and the connection with Baker Mayfield should only improve. Based on the opener, Chicago appears to be very shaky defending the middle of the field, so Mayfield should be looking to Godwin early and often as Tampa Bay hopes to start 2-0. We have the Penn State product as a borderline WR1/WR2.
Thumbs Up: Deebo Samuel (@ LAR)
Samuel is another wideout that had a modest showing in Week 1 with five catches for 55 yards, but he always comes to play versus the Rams—putting up fantasy-point totals of 15.0, 18.8, 21.8, 20.96, and 20.7 in five meetings since his rookie year. The Week 1 performance of Brandon Aiyuk (8/129/2) might have some worried about Samuel, but I’d definitely roll with him as an upside WR2 that also has a high floor.
Thumbs Up: Gabe Davis (v LV)
Davis has been established as a boom-or-bust option in the low-end WR2/FLEX range, but I don’t think Josh Allen will suddenly reign in the deep ball following Monday night’s struggles—and the Raiders have a cornerback group that can get beat downfield (including Marcus Peters). While the downside is Davis only getting a few targets and not hitting big on any of them, his weekly ceiling makes him worth taking a shot on in matchups like the one he gets on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Romeo Doubs (@ ATL)
Again, Christian Watson doesn’t seem likely to play in Week 2, which sets up Doubs to operate as the clear No. 1 wideout coming off a two-touchdown performance in the opener. Still somehow available in nearly 75% of ESPN leagues, Doubs is a must-add and definite low-end WR2/FLEX option this week (and possibly most weeks) due to his touchdown potential; I’m not overly concerned about a matchup versus Atlanta despite the struggles Carolina had against them in Week 1.
Others: George Pickens (v CLE), Kendrick Bourne (v MIA)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Drake London (v GB)
London made it in the “Thumbs Down” section last week, and the performance was even worse than imagined with the former No. 8 overall pick not even catching a pass and being targeted just once. Any hopes for a quick rebound might be dashed by a matchup versus shutdown cornerback Jaire Alexander after Green Bay limited D.J. Moore to 25 scoreless yards, so London should be left on the bench on an offense that will run the ball as much as possible.
Thumbs Down: Mike Evans (v CHI)
The connection between Evans and Baker Mayfield got off to a great start with 66 yards and a touchdown in the opener, but as mentioned, the Bears are better attacked on the inside—while Evans will often be battling top cornerback Jaylon Johnson outside the numbers. If Todd Bowles’ defense plays like they did last week and Justin Fields doesn’t quickly get on track through the air, Tampa Bay might not need to be overly aggressive getting the ball to Evans, who we have as our WR30 this week.
Thumbs Down: Brandin Cooks (v NYJ)
The situation of not needing to throw came into play last week for Dallas, as Cooks was limited to 22 yards on four targets (though he did draw a pass interference penalty on a deep ball). I know Sauce Gardner didn’t have his best showing on Monday night, but the Cowboys will still be avoiding him this weekend—in turn limiting the upside for Cooks with Tony Pollard and CeeDee Lamb being the options Dallas plays through. Both Cooks and Michael Gallup are options to hold before an easier matchup against the Cardinals in Week 3.
Thumbs Down: Puka Nacua (v SF)
Nacua began his career with ten receptions for 119 yards on a whopping 15 targets last week, and he’ll certainly be a popular play for Week 2. However, the 49ers have been difficult matchup for Los Angeles in recent years (despite Cooper Kupp going off since Matthew Stafford was acquired), so Nacua might fall off based on the opponent. You can still go with the impressive rookie as a quality FLEX option, but don’t chase points from a previous week by starting him over a stud that might have struggled in the opener.
Others: DeAndre Hopkins (v LAC), Nico Collins (v IND)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Dallas Goedert (v MIN)
Goedert didn’t catch a pass last week, and he was only targeted once on a day where the Philadelphia offense didn’t get much going. Fortunately, there has been plenty of talk about the star tight end being more involved starting on Thursday night, so fantasy owners need to keep him in lineups against a Minnesota defense he caught five-of-six targets for 82 yards on in Week 2 of the 2022 season.
Thumbs Up: Sam LaPorta (v SEA)
Some were expecting more, but LaPorta catching all five of his targets for 39 yards in his debut was a tremendous start for him at a position that can take time to produce at. Fantasy owners could do a lot worse than a tight end that played 83% of the team’s offensive snaps, and LaPorta has underrated touchdown upside with Detroit combining for 12 scores from the position in 2022.
Thumbs Up: Jake Ferguson (v NYJ)
Ferguson drew understated offseason hype, and he was highlighted on the Sunday Night Football broadcast last week with Dak Prescott apparently saying he’ll have a huge year. Based on the Jets being stingier on the outside than between the numbers, Ferguson should be a key target along with CeeDee Lamb this week, and he’s a strong TE2 option coming off a seven-target game in the opener.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Hayden Hurst (v NO)
Chigoziem Okonkwo (zero receptions) was the first victim of New Orleans having an unforgiving defense when it comes to defending tight ends, and Hurst—despite a 5/41/1 line in the opener—could be next if the Saints force Bryce Young to look elsewhere to beat them on Monday night. In six career matchups, Hurst has been limited to 22.2 receiving yards per game versus the NFC South rival.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Higbee (v SF)
The thought heading into Week 1 was that Higbee would be a significant part of the passing attack with Cooper Kupp (hamstring) out, but that wasn’t the case with three targets (to be fair, he caught them all for 49 yards). Even though San Francisco allowed a touchdown to Pat Freiermuth last week, the defense is still expected to be one of the most difficult matchups for opposing tight ends, so Higbee may need a score to pay dividends.
Thumbs Down: Logan Thomas (@ DEN)
On the bright side, Logan Thomas was targeted a team-high eight times in the opener, and Sam Howell seems to be very comfortable throwing to him. For the negatives, Thomas struggled a bit in general with a drop and missed block, and Cole Turner—who had a nice 17-yard reception—might eventually push for more playing time for an offense that will get Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson more involved in future weeks. I’d rather play Zach Ertz this week if going with a veteran option.