Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 2 Matchups to Consider
Making it through the first week of the fantasy season means half of all fantasy managers are happy and the other half are upset about how their Week 1 turned out. Whether you’re trying to remain perfect or want to get back to .500, getting your lineup set to its optimal performance is essential and that’s why we’re here!
Justin Fields (CHI) at Tampa Bay
All of the offseason hype came to a halt Sunday after Justin Fields managed a measly QB15 finish in his 2023 debut. The talk of a more pass-centric offense didn’t make its way to the field for the Bears, even though Fields threw the ball 37 times against the Packers. In fact, the last time Fields had that many attempts in a game was when he played in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl with Ohio State. All those attempts really don’t mean anything if he’s averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt, which ranks around the middle of the pack for QBs who attempted at least 30 passes in Week 1.
Looking forward, the Buccaneers were one of the surprises in Week 1, holding the Vikings’ high-powered offense to just 17 points. Over the last year, the Tampa Bay defense hasn’t been a great matchup for opposing fantasy QBs. In 2022, the Buccaneers only gave up 20 or more fantasy points to opposing QBs five times. Fantasy managers who invested in Justin Fields in drafts gave up too much to not be putting him in their lineups this early in the season. That said, another mediocre week from Fields may have managers start rethinking having him locked into their lineups going forward.
Kurt would prefer to play: QB13 – Daniel Jones at Arizona
Brock Purdy (SF) at LA Rams
It’s hard to really know what Brock Purdy may actually be when it comes to fantasy football through his 10 starts (seven if you’re just counting fantasy season games), but the efficiency of the 49ers’ offense has given him a lot of opportunity to consistently finish inside the top 12 of QBs. Thus far, Purdy has thrown at least two TDs in every regular season start he’s made, but he’s also only ever posted more than 20 points in four-point TD scoring once. If Purdy continues to grow in the San Francisco offense, there’s a chance he could become a consistent streaming option solely based on how good the weapons are around him and the offense’s ability to function at a highly efficient level.
Nobody would have predicted that the Rams were going to put the brakes on one of the best passing attacks from 2022 in Week 1 against the Seahawks, but that’s exactly what they did. L.A.’s defense reminded fantasy managers of the tough matchup they were prior to 2022 when they were completely decimated with injuries all over the field. When it comes to playing Purdy as a streaming option this week, I’d be willing to roll the dice that the Rams won’t be able to slow down the machine that is the 49ers’ offense but would have tempered expectations.
Kurt would play Purdy over QB12 – Anthony Richardson at Houston
Javonte Williams (DEN) vs Washington
The fact that Javonte Williams was back on the field in what seemed like full capacity is a pretty amazing feat considering the injury he suffered less than a year ago. Williams didn’t produce the scoreline that will make you glad he was in your lineup, but if you watched him on the field he really did look good in what was a pretty bland Denver offense. Aside from the four yards per carry he averaged, Williams was also plenty involved in the passing game, seeing six targets. While the efficiency wasn’t there, as the Broncos’ offense grows into Sean Payton’s scheme this year, I’d expect Williams to blossom into a much better fantasy option as well, and have been trying to acquire him everywhere I can.
It’s hard to tell exactly what Washington’s defense will be in 2023 since they benefited from playing a depleted Arizona offense to start the year. The Commanders only really gave up nine total points to the Cardinals, but they did allow a top-24 RB finish from James Conner in a game where he didn’t even find the end zone. With star DE Chase Young’s status for Sunday still uncertain, this week could be a good opportunity for Williams to finally deliver the big fantasy performance that fantasy managers have been dreaming of since he came into the league. I’d play Williams in my lineups as an RB2 with upside.
Rachaad White (TB) vs Chicago
It isn’t quite time for Rachaad White investors to hit the panic button, but I might be taking that protective case that surrounds the big red button off ahead of this week. It’s been well-documented how inefficient the Buccaneers’ running game was in 2022, but there was hope that White would be able to overcome those inefficiencies similar to how he did down the stretch last season with the backfield to himself. There’s no doubt that the volume was there for White, seeing 19 total opportunities on the day, but if he can’t turn that many chances into more than 49 yards, he will have a very difficult time helping fantasy rosters without falling into the end zone every week.
If there’s a cure for a bad rushing attack, Chicago very well may be one of the best prescriptions that the NFL can offer. In Week 1, the Bears gave up the overall RB1 on the week to Aaron Jones who did so with just 13 opportunities. It doesn’t seem like the Chicago defense that gave up the most rushing TDs in the league last season has changed much, but if White can’t turn this matchup into something for fantasy managers to cool down about, it may be time to bail and look for better options going forward.
Kyren Williams (LAR) vs San Francisco
Perhaps one of the sneakier RB waiver wire pickups for this week, Kyren Williams gave the fantasy world the Week 1 game that we heard could have happened in 2022’s season opener for the Rams. Williams was easily the most productive back for L.A., finishing with 52 yards and two TDs for an RB7 finish. While the efficiency wasn’t great, Williams was much better with the work he received than Cam Akers (22 carries for 29 yards…yikes) and didn’t even get to display his chops in the receiving game which is what the fantasy community was excited about when he came into the league last season. Assuming Williams gets a crack at leading the backfield this week, he could be a big-time addition for fantasy managers.
The problem with working Williams into your lineup right away has nothing to do with his opportunity and everything to do with facing the 49ers’ defense. San Francisco’s defense picked up right where they left off from 2022 in their opener against Pittsburgh allowing only 41 total rushing yards on the day. In 2022, the 49ers gave up the second-fewest rushing yards and the lowest yards per carry in the league. If Williams is going to return on the FAAB and waiver priority that was used on him this week, he’ll need to be involved in the passing game where he’s never seen more than three targets in a single week. Proceed with caution on Williams this week, but he’s a solid hold going forward.
Kurt would rather play RB37 – Joshua Kelley at Tennessee
DeAndre Hopkins (TEN) vs LA Chargers
Gross is the first word that comes to mind when I think about what we watched with DeAndre Hopkins and the Titans’ passing game in Week 1. While Hopkins still saw 13 targets, overall the Titans’ passing game left fantasy managers wanting more. Of QBs who threw at least 30 times in Week 1, Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill ranked second-worst in success rate (a measure of the percentage of yards gained needed to get a first down). A Titan can’t change its stripes, so fantasy managers shouldn’t have expected a high-flying offense from Tennessee, but efficiency was at least something this offense has been able to hang its hat on in their best days. Sunday was not one of them.
Getting to take on the team that just gave up 466 passing yards to start the year could be the recipe for getting Hopkins going in the two-toned blue. The Chargers’ defense was a top-10 unit in passing yards and completion percentage in 2022, so there’s a good chance they can right the ship after Tyreek Hill’s explosion in Week 1. Fantasy managers who invested in Hopkins could roll the dice again this week but might have to shift if the Titans can’t be more productive in the passing game with what seems like a good matchup.
Kurt would rather play WR23 – Mike Williams at Tennessee
Zay Flowers (BAL) at Cincinnati
If there was any debate about who the leading WR in Baltimore would be this season, all you’d have to do is turn on the tape from Week 1 to find that your answer is Zay Flowers. The Ravens’ rookie turned in a WR20 finish in his NFL debut, leading the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Granted, this all came without Mark Andrews on the field, but there’s something to be said about a rookie being able to step in and lead a veteran-filled receiving room from the jump. Possibly the only complaint about Flowers’ debut could be his shallow average depth of target of 2.8. Of rookie WRs who saw at least five targets in Week 1, Flowers had the second-worst ADOT.
After getting worked over by the Browns in Week 1, at first glance it might seem like the Bengals are a good target for a big fantasy week, but it can be deceiving this early in the season. In 2022, the Bengals gave up the third-fewest passing TDs in the league and only allowed 154 yards in their nasty weather game last week. Baltimore’s passing attack is also clearly still trying to find their footing so fantasy managers may want to consider Flowers a flex option this week before cementing him in their lineups going forward.
Kurt would play Flowers over WR25 – DJ Moore at Tampa Bay
Nico Collins (HOU) vs Indianapolis
Houston isn’t where fantasy managers have turned for receiving options in recent years, but Nico Collins may be one worth keeping an eye on going forward. Despite the Texans only scoring nine points in Week 1, Collins still turned in a WR27 finish behind six receptions for 80 yards which was good enough for a 26% target share. If you look through the Targets Per Route Run report from Week 1, you’ll see Collins in the top 10 sandwiched between Davante Adams and DeVonta Smith. As the season progresses, we’ll see rookie CJ Stroud take steps forward to make this offense better, and a veteran presence like Collins will go a long way in helping him make those strides.
While the NFL matchup with the Colts may not be the best football to watch, Collins could have a good opportunity to be a productive fantasy option again this week. Last week the Indianapolis defense gave up the WR6 and WR18 finishes to the Jaguars in a game that was more competitive than many would have thought. If the Texans continue to allow CJ Stroud to throw the ball 40 or more times as they did in the season opener, Collins will have plenty of opportunity to be a solid flex option for fantasy managers.
Kurt would play Collins over WR38 – Brandin Cooks vs NY Jets
Dalton Kincaid (BUF) vs Las Vegas
There was a lot of talk coming into the season about how the Bills’ rookie TE Dalton Kincaid could be the second receiving option on this high-powered offense. However, a nasty offensive output from Buffalo put a damper on Kincaid’s debut. The fact that Kincaid was involved in the offense seeing 80% of snaps and half of the TE targets for the Bills should be encouraging as he gets worked into the passing game.
If there’s one thing that has been consistent from season to season, it’s the Raiders’ inability to cover athletic TEs in the passing game. In 2022, Las Vegas gave up double-digit weeks to opposing teams’ TEs in eight of their games. All of the fantasy community should expect this week to be a “get right” game for the Bills’ offense, and I’d expect Kincaid to be a part of straightening the path for Josh Allen and company. I’d be playing Kincaid in my TE spot expecting top-10 TE production this week.
David Njoku (CLE) at Pittsburgh
It’s been a hot and cold experience with David Njoku ever since the Dark Lord returned to play QB for Cleveland. Prior to Deshaun Watson’s return in Week 13 of 2022, Njoku averaged nearly five receptions and just over 50 yards per game. For the last five games they played together in 2022, those numbers went down to three receptions and 32 yards per game and things didn’t start much better in Week 1 when Njoku only saw three targets. Some of the lack of passing could be attributed to the bad weather, but it has to be concerning when it comes to Njoku’s future as a fantasy-viable TE.
What could be more concerning when it comes to Njoku is the lack of production the Steelers gave up to the TE position in Week 1. Pittsburgh only gave up 19 total yards to the 49ers’ TEs, which could have been aided by the 152 yards they gave up on the ground. If you need to play Njoku this week, it might be worth looking for other options that could have a higher upside outside of hoping that he’ll find himself in the end zone at some point this week.
Kurt would prefer to play TE11 – Hunter Henry vs Miami