Wide Receiver Starts
Emmanuel Sanders vs Raiders
After posting 10 catches on 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown in week one perhaps this one is a no brainer. Sanders looked electric and gets a Raiders defense that surrendered 233 yards and 2 touchdowns to a Rams offense that is run focused with Todd Gurley in the backfield. With rookies making up the lions share of the Broncos carries look for Case Keenum to abuse this Raiders defense down the field. Cooper Kupp saw 9 targets from the slot in week one so it’s not absurd to think Sanders could reproduce his week one line.
Mike Williams @ Bills
Williams was highly touted out of the draft last year but injured his back and missed most of the season. This year he was an afterthought as most felt he was buried behind Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin. Flash forward to week one and most of Phillip Rivers day was spent watching things like this:
When Phillip Rivers murders Travis Benjamin, you’ll know why. pic.twitter.com/DTEA6hzAfB
— Andrew Claudio (@Claudio_GSN) September 9, 2018
Meanwhile, Williams converted 5 of his 6 targets for 81 yards and looks to be a legit threat for the WR2 role for the Chargers.
The Bills just got shredded by Joe Flacco who hit 9 different receivers for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. Williams is a sneaky play who could see a lot of red zone opportunities this week in Buffalo.
Dante Pettis vs Lions
Another sneaky play this week is Dante Pettis against the Lions. Marquise Goodwin is nursing a thigh bruise and Pierre Garcon looked every bit of 32 years old in week one. Meanwhile Pettis saw 5 targets and was on the field for 73% of the snaps just behind Garcon’s team leading 80%. Pettis saw 27% of Jimmy Garoppolo’s 368 air yards for the week.
The Lions are still running Matt Patricia’s Super Bowl defense, giving up 48 points to a rookie quarterback in week one. With Jimmy’s pocket presence and Kyle Shanahan’s offense the Lions should have a long day again. If Goodwin remains out, Pettis should see plenty of targets and become one of week two’s waiver wire darlings.
Wide Receiver Sits
Larry Fitzgerald @ Rams
Fitzgerald is a first ballot hall of famer and the number one option on his team but faces a Rams defense that is going to be unforgiving to opposing wide receivers. The Raiders picked at the Rams defense using the tight end and running back position and I’d expect the Cardinals to do the same should they have anyone competent on the coaching staff.
Randall Cobb vs Vikings
Cobb looked like the player of old in week one but faces a stout Vikings defense who stifled the 49ers offense. Aaron Rodgers is rarely denied and this week is likely no different but with Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham I expect the focus to shift to mismatches he can find with Graham while still threading targets to Adams. Rodgers took advantage of the aggressiveness of Kahlil Mack targeting Cobb almost exclusively within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Cobb will see targets but temper expectations against this patient Vikings defense and find a higher upside option if you can.
Running Back Starts
Chris Thompson vs Colts
The Colts just surrendered 95 yards and a touchdown along with 5 receptions on 7 targets for 54 yards to Joe Mixon. Adrian Peterson may see the bulk of the carries for the Redskins but Thompson was the most efficient runner and saw the most targets on the entire team with 7. The Redskins should be able to do the same thing this week giving Thompson the chance at another big day.
Darren Sproles @ Buccaneers
Jay Ajayi did the most with his carries in week one scoring two touchdowns but the sneaky stats belong to Darren Sproles. Sproles saw only 5 carries but saw 7 targets. The Eagles wide receivers are in flux and battling injuries and Nick Foles looks like the Nick Foles of old. If he plays look for shorter passes to mitigate his inconsistency.
The Saints and Drew Brees targeted Alvin Kamara 12 times for 9 catches in week one, and the Buccaneers were able to corral him in the running game to the tune of just 29 yards. I like the Eagles to try the same thing here if and when they can’t get Ajayi going against this front seven and Sproles will be the beneficiary.
Royce Freeman vs Raiders
Let the panic subside on Freeman after the split with Lindsay in week one. It’s certainly possible this turns in to a year long timeshare but we saw Freeman be the best runner throughout the preseason and there’s no reason to panic after just one game. He’ll face an Oakland defense that just gave up over 100 yards to Todd Gurley. Freeman still saw 39% of the snaps and should still get 12-15 carries against a weak defense.
Running Back Sits
Jamaal Williams vs Vikings
Another player against this Vikings defense that is a sit for me this week. The Vikings only gave up 90 total rushing yards to the 49ers and Williams isn’t even the best runner on his own team. I believe the Packers will use Ty Montgomery a bit more in this game with screens and flats to try and slow down the rush. Even if they don’t, I wouldn’t expect a big game from Williams whose career average is just 3.6YPC so far.
Joe Mixon vs Ravens
You spent a high pick on Mixon and are probably not going to bench him, especially after his week one numbers but on a short week against a Ravens defense that smothered the Bills I’m tempering my expectations. I can see the Bengals leaning a little more on Giovani Bernard in this game to ease the workload of Mixon and save him for the rest of the season as their bell cow back.