Happy Week 2, everyone. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes, as these are players I’ll likely have some exposure to over the weekend.
Start of the Week: Carson Palmer at Colts: Palmer really bit us in the back side last week. Believe me, I used Palmer in a lot of spots and in daily leagues, so I took a beating just like the rest of you who streamed him. Palmer threw three picks, but the first was a total miscommunication, the second a bad overthrow when Palmer was getting hit, and then the third a tipped ball intended for Andre Ellington. Palmer was also unlucky when it came to his own receivers, seeing Larry Fitzgerald drop a touchdown pass. Things easily could have been different. I’m doubling down and going back to the well for Week 2. The Colts were flat-out embarrassed in a drubbing by the Rams last week. Jared Goff did whatever he wanted against this sorry excuse of a defense. Without top CB Vontae Davis, the Colts are left with a cornerback trio of T.J. Green, Rashaan Melvin, and Nate Hairston. On top of that, they have no pass rush. Goff completed 72.4% of his passes for 306 yards and a score. He got his first career win and it was the first time Goff has topped 235 passing yards. The Colts received Football Outsiders’ second-worst pass-defense DVOA grade in Week 1, behind only the Saints. It would be better for Palmer if this game was in the desert, but Lucas Oil Stadium inside the dome will work. Arizona’s 26-point implied team total is the sixth-highest of Week 2. And with David Johnson (wrist) done for the next 2-3 months, more will likely be put on Palmer’s plate.
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Jameis Winston vs. Bears: Winston and the Bucs had Week 1 off after Hurricane Irma rolled through Miami last week. Tampa Bay’s starters essentially haven’t played in three weeks. That’s a long layoff and might require some rust be knocked off early Sunday, but Winston is still a strong streaming option at home against a Bears team coming off a crushing home loss to the defending NFC champions. The Bears really should have beaten the Falcons. On paper, this isn’t an amazing matchup by any means for Winston, as the Bears were 11th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last season and 17th in pass-defense DVOA, but Winston had one of his best games of 2016 against DC Vic Fangio’s group. Last Week 10, Winston threw for 312 yards with a season-high 9.5 YPA and a pair of touchdowns. That game was also in Tampa Bay. Winston’s pass-game weaponry has been upgraded tenfold since then with the additions of DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, and Chris Godwin to go with Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, and Adam Humphries. The Bears overhauled their secondary, but it’s still a league average group at best. Tampa’s 25-point team total is one of the week’s highest.
Russell Wilson vs. 49ers: Wilson was downright awful last week at Lambeau Field, completing just over 50% of his passes for 158 yards (5.85 YPA) and no scores. Wilson finished as the QB23 on the week. The Seahawks have had some serious road struggles in recent memory. But they get to head back home to the comfy confines of CenturyLink Field where Seattle is 13.5-point favorites over the 49ers. At home last season, Wilson averaged over 272 yards per game with a 67% completion rate compared to 62.4% on the road, 8.17 YPA to 7.31 away from home, and a 13:3 TD:INT mark as opposed to 8:8 on the road. His passer rating was also 21.4 points higher at the Clink. The offensive line is an obvious concern and the main reason for Wilson’s struggles, but it was just as bad last year. Seattle’s implied team total of 28 is the fourth-highest of Week 2. As nearly two-touchdown favorites, one would think the Seahawks would run the ball as much as possible. However, they haven’t shown any semblance of a running game all summer, aside from rookie Chris Carson. Look for the Seahawks to put it on Wilson’s shoulders to secure their first win.
Jared Goff vs. Redskins: Goff isn’t even owned in most 10- and 12-team leagues that start one quarterback. But he makes for a passable Week 2 streamer, especially in two-quarterback formats. It’s hard to feel confident using Goff as a QB1, but this is a terrific spot after he sliced and diced the Colts for 306 yards and a score on a 72.4% completion rate last Sunday. The Redskins were picked apart nearly as bad, and they surrendered a top-five fantasy finish to Carson Wentz in D.C. The Redskins now get to travel cross-country to L.A. to face old pal Sean McCoy coming off his and Goff’s first career wins. Goff’s offensive line is always going to be a concern, but as long as they can keep him upright like they did last week, Goff showed he’s capable of making the throws. He was 5-of-6 on throws 20-plus yards downfield for 112 yards and one touchdown. Goff’s supporting cast is so much better under McVay with the additions of LT Andrew Whitworth, C John Sullivan, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and rookie TE Gerald Everett. The Rams’ 24-point implied team total is 13th-highest on the slate. That’s a long way from where they were with Jeff Fisher.
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Kirk Cousins at Rams: Cousins was pretty dreadful at home against the Eagles in Week 1. He didn’t appear to have any timing with new No. 1 wideout Terrelle Pryor, overshooting Pryor on a couple deep balls while also seeing Pryor drop a couple passes. Jamison Crowder made no noise, and Jordan Reed couldn’t squirt loose for any substantial gains. Cousins’ lone touchdown was a dump-off pass to Chris Thompson where the Eagles provided a how-not-to-tackle video on the play. Philly’s pass rush was in Cousins’ face all afternoon. The Rams present an equally-stiff challenge as they welcome back star player Aaron Donald. Robert Quinn looked like a reborn man in DC Wade Phillips’ scheme in Week 1, while franchise player CB Trumaine Johnson was lockdown in coverage. This Rams defense is fast up front and can cover on the back end. Plus, the Redskins are coming all the way across the country to face a team led by their former OC, Sean McVay, who knows Cousins’ strengths and weaknesses probably better than Cousins does. Cousins looked like he needed another game or two to get comfortable with his new receivers. This isn’t a good spot.
Dak Prescott at Broncos: Was DC Wade Phillips’ loss really that significant of a blow to the Broncos? Philip Rivers threw three touchdowns against the Broncos on the road this past Monday night, putting up the QB10 finish for Week 1. However, he compiled just 192 yards. I’m willing to bet on the Broncos’ defensive talent again at home. Prescott finished as QB11 in Week 1 and attempted the most passes he’s attempted in a calendar year last Sunday night against the Giants. That had more to do with the Giants’ inability to put drives together, handing the ball to Dallas for a whopping 74 offensive plays. Things will be much slower in Denver where the 42.5-point total is the third-lowest of the week and second-lowest of the Sunday-Monday games. Prescott has shown in the past he can perform in slow, dragged-out games, but on the road at Mile High is a different story. He’s a QB2.
Carson Wentz at Chiefs: As mentioned previously, Wentz was able to go into Washington and hang a top-five quarterback fantasy finish on the Redskins in Week 1, throwing for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 39 attempts. With the Eagles still not possessing much of a running game, Went is going to be airing it out a ton this season. And the Chiefs just lost All-Pro S Eric Berry to a torn Achilles’ last week. However, the Chiefs are coming off a 10-day break, basically a mini-bye, and coach Andy Reid dominates off bye weeks. On top of that, games at Arrowhead tend to be much more low scoring. 4for4 Football fantasy super-brain Chris Raybon noted that under Reid, Chiefs games at Arrowhead have averaged just 40.8 total points compared to 46.2 away from K.C. And only four times in the Reid era has an opposing quarterback thrown for 300 yards at Arrowhead. Eagles-Chiefs has the third-highest total of the week at 47.5 points, but Philly is implied at just 21.5 points, the 19th-highest team total for Week 2. Wentz is fine in two-QB leagues but not a top-12 option.