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Michael C. Hebert / New Orleans Saints

Week 2 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”


Week 1 was a tough one for big-time injuries, as Allen Robinson is done for the season with a torn ACL, David Johnson injured his wrist and will be out for the majority of the season, and Danny Woodhead might be done until November with a hamstring injury. But before you cry about your fantasy team losing one of their best players, remember that these athletes—Robinson and Johnson in particular—are basically losing a year of their careers. While they’ll have weeks or months of long rehab, all you need to do is find a replacement by trade, free agency, or a bench option. Injuries are a part of the game, and you have a lot less to overcome than the athletes do… Just something to keep in mind.

 

As always, you can check our weekly rankings for all your lineup decisions. This article will give a description as to why I have certain players higher (“Thumbs Up”) or lower (“Thumbs Down”).

 

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Philip Rivers (v MIA)

Rivers threw for three touchdowns and had 17 fantasy points in Week 1 against Denver, and it could have easily been 19 points if not for a missed holding call that resulted in an interception. Playing his first home game in Los Angeles, I expect Rivers to pick apart the Dolphins questionable secondary. He’s a solid QB1.

 

Thumbs Up: Carson Palmer (@ IND)

The 37-year-old Palmer looked his age in Week 1 with a three-interception performance against the Lions, but he has a prime bounce-back opportunity this Sunday, as the Colts just had 46 points hung up on them by Jared Goff and the Rams. Arizona will have to rely on Palmer’s arm with David Johnson (wrist) out for an extended period of time.

 

Thumbs Up: Sam Bradford (@ PIT)

Concern about the offensive line was the only reason I didn’t have Bradford even higher than my 10th ranked quarterback last week against New Orleans, and after seeing the unit do a decent job—which is a huge improvement over last season—I feel confident keeping him as a back-end fantasy starter. I mean, did you see some of the throws he was making on Monday night? Bradford has been a fringe QB1 since Pat Shurmer took over as offensive coordinator. [Note: Sam Bradford (knee) is inactive for Week 2]

 

Thumbs Up: Alex Smith (v PHI)

Sam Bradford wasn’t the only former first-overall pick to silence his critics in Week 1, as Alex Smith lit up the Patriots to kickoff the 2017 NFL Season last Thursday night with 368 yards and four touchdowns in a convincing win. Smith’s confidence is probably close to an all-time high as he heads into an easy matchup with the Eagles. He’s a streaming option.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Dak Prescott (@ DEN)

Well, as stated, Philip Rivers had three touchdowns in Denver last week, and I highly doubt that the Broncos start the year by allowing consecutive quality starts (both at home) to opposing quarterbacks. Dak will always have the ability to rush for a score to save fantasy owners, but it’s not something you want to rely on. Look elsewhere this week.

 

Thumbs Down: Matthew Stafford (@ NYG)

I would hate to go into Monday night’s matchup with just Stafford needing about 15 fantasy points to win, as the Giants defense—playing at home—will be tough. Even with the offense unable to sustain any drives outside of a near 10-minute one in the third quarter, New York’s defense looked stout as ever in Week 1, allowing just 19 points to Dallas. Stafford is barely a top-20 option for me.

 

Thumbs Down: Andy Dalton (v HOU)

Last week I had Dalton here because of the Ravens defense, and things aren’t going to be much easier for Cincy on Thursday night after being shutout in the season opener. When these two teams played on Christmas Eve last year, it was a 12-10 win for Houston in which Dalton threw for 268 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, but the score came on an 86-yard slant where two defenders collided with each other. The Texans should be ready after getting dominated by Jacksonville, and the sick Color Rush jerseys for Cincinnati don’t make Dalton worth inserting into your lineup.

 

Thumbs Down: Marcus Mariota (@ JAC)

I’m not too concerned about Mariota after the Jags bullied Houston’s offense in Week 1, as the Tennessee offensive line has some bullies of their own and is an elite unit. Still, the corner combination of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey might be the league’s best, and the Titans had some issues against a soft Oakland defense last Sunday. A potential high-end QB1 most weeks, Mariota is outside my top-10.

 

. . .

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Ty Montgomery (@ ATL)

Does anyone still think Montgomery isn’t going to be the featured back for Green Bay? The former receiver handled 23 touches against a tough Seattle defense last week and was a near every-snap player. In an Aaron Rodgers-led offense with a probable shootout with the Falcons, Montgomery is a top-five option this week.

 

Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v GB)

It’s usually a smart move to play good players in projected high-scoring games, and Coleman definitely fits the billing. Fireworks should be flying on Sunday Night Football between the Packers and Falcons, and the dynamic back has as much upside as anyone. He’s an RB2 like usual, but with an even higher ceiling.

 

Thumbs Up: Mark Ingram (v NE)

Unless you own Alvin Kamara in a dynasty league, the Saints’ season opener was a bad sign for all running back options in New Orleans, as Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, and Kamara split the work pretty evenly, essentially killing each other’s opportunity to make a significant impact. However, the Patriots-Saints matchup feels like an Ingram game with Drew Brees trying to keep up with Tom Brady. The former Heisman winner totaled 71 yards on 11 touches in Week 1 and is the most well-rounded back the Saints have. He should get 12-15 touches in a high-scoring game, making him an RB2 option.

 

Thumbs Up: Jamaal Charles (v DAL)

Ignoring the lost fumble that shouldn’t have been a fumble (his elbow was down in my opinion, and head coach Vance Joseph clearly agreed with his displeasure after the call stood), Charles had a strong debut for Denver, as he turned 10 carries into 40 yards. The numbers don’t jump out to you, but his ability to get to the perimeter did. Charles is a nice FLEX option if he handles 8-12 touches per week, and I think offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will get him more involved as a receiver against Dallas.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Adrian Peterson (v NE)

It’s important not to overreact to one week of games, but I don’t know how you can come away from Peterson’s Saints debut with anything other than concern. AD handled just six touches in the loss, and despite getting the start and rushing for nine yards on his first carry, he was quickly phased out of the offense with his other handful of carries being spread throughout the rest of the game. You could see in Peterson’s eyes that he was unhappy with his role, and his status in New Orleans is one of the main early-season storylines to follow. He’s Adrian Peterson, so he remains a FLEX option, but you can’t play him with confidence.

 

Thumbs Down: Isaiah Crowell (@ BAL)

It’s a dangerous game betting on opportunity over talent, and the main reason I had Crowell as a top-50 player was based on his on-paper-elite offensive line. Unfortunately, as expected, defenses are going to stack the box and make rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer try to beat them; that led to 33 yards on 17 carries in Week 1 for Crowell. Similar results will likely occur against Baltimore’s top-notch defense.

 

Thumbs Down: Frank Gore (v ARI)

Gore ran hard in the season opener, but Indianapolis just isn’t going to be very competitive until Andrew Luck returns. The 34-year-old had 10 carries for 42 yards, but rookie Marlon Mack got 10 carries for himself and will see work again against the Cardinals. If the game gets out of hand, you are probably looking at another poor fantasy performance from Gore.

 

Thumbs Down: LeGarrette Blount (@ KC)

The work (14 carries) was a good sign, but Blount’s efficiency on the ground wasn’t, as he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in his debut with the Eagles. You obviously can’t rely on him catching a touchdown every week, and Philadelphia might abandon the run against the Chiefs in Arrowhead on Sunday.

 

. . .

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins (@ CIN)

If you don’t follow our Twitter account (@whitewolf) or pay attention to the fantasy news on our homepage, you might not have seen that Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said he wishes Hopkins has “20 targets” in the season opener. That is music to the ears of fantasy owners, and you can bet that Deshaun Watson will target his fellow Clemson alum a bunch in his first NFL start. While most have Hopkins as a low-end WR2/FLEX, I think he’s a volume-driven, high-end WR2.

 

Thumbs Up: Sammy Watkins (v WAS)

Another Clemson guy and Hopkins’ former teammate in college, Sammy Watkins caught all five of his targets last week in a blowout win over Indianapolis. Had the Colts been able to put points on the board, I think Watkins would have exploded. He is expected to see his fair share of Josh Norman on Sunday, but Norman let Torrey Smith get behind him twice in the opener, so there’s no reason Watkins can’t do the same but actually hit for a big play. He’s an upside WR2 option.

 

Thumbs Up: DeVante Parker (@ LAC)

Did somebody say upside? DeVante Parker had a rare Week 1 bye to train at his laboratory or whatever he does to prepare for the “Monster Bowl” after the season, and I think the stingy LA corners will have trouble defending him, as both Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett are sub-six-footers. Parker was a clear favorite of Jay Cutler in the preseason, and he should get plenty of chances to make plays downfield. “Faster Alshon” is my #15 wide receiver for Week 2.

 

Thumbs Up: Chris Hogan (@ NO)

Chris Hogan had a quiet game last Thursday as a he mostly occupied Marcus Peters, but it probably won’t matter who is on him this week, as the Saints couldn’t contain Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen in the opener against Minnesota. Hogan could be in for a monster day if New Orleans decides they don’t want to let their former #1 receiver Brandin Cooks beat them.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Dez Bryant (@ DEN)

A “Thumbs Down” last week, Bryant could only coral two of his nine targets against the Giants on SNF, and he faces a similarly difficult task against the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. Dez should be on the bench if possible, as he is my 36th ranked wideout for Week 2.

 

Thumbs Down: Terrelle Pryor (@ LAR)

Preseason concerns remain after Pryor and the Washington offense looked out of sync in the season opener, and their new big-bodied receiver left a lot of production out of the field against a weak Philly secondary. Now, he could be shadowed by six-foot-two cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Pryor is barely a top-40 option for me.

 

Thumbs Down: T.Y. Hilton (v ARI)

Hilton is not even a top-40 option, as he will be without Andrew Luck again and should see a lot of Patrick Peterson on Sunday. I don’t even think T.Y. can be started until Luck returns, and no one knows when that will be. I’d recommend selling high if you can.

 

Thumbs Down: Michael Thomas (v NE)

I had Thomas here last week due to Xaiver Rhodes, and he was held to 45 scoreless yards. Like Week 1, I think he’s good enough to remain a low-end WR2, but Thomas is almost certainly going to be the guy Bill Belichick tries to take away on Sunday. New England held Travis Kelce to 40 yards by focusing on him a week ago.

 

. . .

 

TIGHT END

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Rob Gronkowski (@ NO)

Gronk isn’t going to be held in check for two straight games. He averaged 5.25 catches, 118.25 yards, and had three touchdowns in four healthy games with Tom Brady in 2016. He should have no problem approaching 100 yards and a score against New Orleans and is the obvious #1 tight end for Week 2. Gronkowski should be a building block in daily fantasy lineups.

 

Thumbs Up: Hunter Henry (v MIA)

Maybe I’m just losing my mind but I still have Henry as a midrange TE1 after getting zero targets in Week 1. Coming off a loss, it’s hard to believe Philip Rivers won’t want the talented 22-year-old on the field more as a receiving threat against the Dolphins, especially because they were so weak against the position last year.

 

Thumbs Up: Cameron Brate (v CHI)

O.J. Howard’s presence could make Brate a frustrating guy to own, but he’s the tight end you want in Tampa Bay, and Chicago lost one of the league’s best cover linebackers in Jerrell Freeman to a torn pectoral in their Week 1 loss. Brate led the position with eight scores in 2016, and will look to start 2017 with a strong performance.

 

Thumbs Up: Coby Fleener (v NE)

Fleener caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, and he looked more comfortable with Drew Brees and the offense in his second year with the team. With Michael Thomas getting a lot of attention, things could open up over the middle and down the seam for Fleener. He’s a borderline TE1.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Jordan Reed (@ LAR)

Reed is my headline “Thumbs Down” for the second-straight week after totaling just 36 yards last Sunday in a tough matchup, and he has another one against the Rams in Week 2. He’s still my #5 tight end, but as he deals with a toe injury, Reed’s upside and floor are both lower than usual. Also, even though he’s never been a huge touchdown threat, the overall struggles of the offense could hold him back from scoring opportunities.

 

Thumbs Down: Austin Hooper (v GB)

I had Hooper as a “Thumbs Down” last week, too, but Jerrell Freeman’s injury allowed him to get free twice for huge gains, as he totaled 128 yards and a touchdown on two catches. The Packers aren’t going to lose him in coverage so easily after they held Jimmy Graham to eight yards last Sunday.

 

Thumbs Down: Martellus Bennett (@ ATL)

It’s all about consistency, as Bennett is the third repeat at tight end for “Thumbs Down.” He was held to 43 yards in Week 1, and even though Marty B should get some scoring opportunities if the Falcons and Packers trade scores, I think there are safer options, including Charles Clay and the aforementioned Coby Fleener.

 

Thumbs Down: Jack Doyle (v ARI)

With his quarterback out again, Jack Doyle definitely isn’t a safe option, particularly in Week 2 against the Cardinals, as they are a team that’s very stingy against opposing tight ends. Doyle barely cracks our positional rankings as the 25th ranked player.

 

. . .

 

DEFENSE

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Baltimore Ravens (v CLE)

The Ravens started 2017 by shutting out the Bengals in Cincinnati, which unsurprisingly only bolsters my belief that they will be considered the NFL’s best defense by year’s end. Now, they get 21-year-old DeShone Kizer and the Browns traveling to Baltimore. Buckle up.

 

Thumbs Up: Arizona Cardinals (@ IND)

Until Andrew Luck is back, the Colts are probably the top offense to target for defensive streamers. The Rams were able to score 29 fantasy points in Week 1 against them thanks to a couple pick-sixes, and Arizona had the top defense in the NFL last season. Don’t be concerned about Matthew Stafford shredding them in the fourth quarter.

 

Thumbs Up: Oakland Raiders (v NYJ)

If the Colts aren’t the top target for streamers, it’s probably the Jets. Oakland fared unexpectedly well against the Titans last Sunday, and New York might have the worst skill-position group in recent memory. The Raiders are a great option for this week.

 

Thumbs Up: Cincinnati Bengals (v HOU)

Jacksonville’s talent up front had something to do with it, but Houston’s offensive line deserves much of the blame for allowing 10 sacks in the season opener. The Bengals have some talent of their own on defense, and they’ll look to rattle Deshaun Watson in his first career start.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: New England Patriots (@ NO)

At home, New England allowed 42 points and almost 400 passing yards to the Chiefs. A trip to face Drew Brees at the Superdome—even with a mini bye week—doesn’t inspire confidence in starting the Patriots D/ST.

 

Thumbs Down: Pittsburgh Steelers (v MIN)

Pittsburgh’s defense probably won some fantasy matchups in Week 1, but they aren’t a starting option in Week 2 against an explosive Vikings offense. I expect a fun, high-scoring game on Sunday. [Note: With Sam Bradford (knee) out on Sunday, the Steelers D/ST are a good streaming option and no longer a Thumbs Down]

 

Thumbs Down: Jacksonville Jaguars (v TEN)

It’s hard to go away from a defense that just had 10 sacks, but it’s about what players (in this case a defense) will do for you, not what they’ve already done. The Jags aren’t going to be able to bully Taylor Lewan and his fellow linemen like they did the Texans.

 

Thumbs Down: Philadelphia Eagles (@ KC)

This is the most weapons Alex Smith has ever had in his career, and he put them to use in the season opener. Philadelphia is less dominant up front when playing away from home, and they don’t have the players on the back-end to contain Kansas City. Stream another defense instead.

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