Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
It's also important to have a keen eye for matchups dictated by the remaining schedule. I am now updating my projected strength of schedule rankings every week over at SportsLine. My objective is to break down how the schedule affects every Fantasy relevant player for the upcoming four weeks, the playoff stretch and the entire season. You'll also be able to find my key takeaways on which players you should buy low, sell high and more trade targets.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
Daniel Jones QB
NYG N.Y. Giants • #8
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
If Jones is going to do well, he'll need his receivers to be outstanding like they were last week. That's a tough order to give on a short week with a still-suspect offensive line. Starting Jordan Love, Justin Fields and Russell Wilson instead should work out.
LAST WEEK: Came up aces against a Cardinals defense that didn't blitz him much and tried to hang with some man coverage. He wasn't pressured anywhere as much as he was in Week 1 and finished with 321 passing yards, 59 rush yards and three total touchdowns, all scored in the second half.
O-LINE: Rebounded from a miserable Week 1 (65.9% pressure rate allowed) to hold up against a less-challenging Cardinals front (29.5% pressure rate allowed). Left tackle Josh Ezeudu was especially good in pass protection as was rookie center John Michael Schmitz, but both will see a step up in competition this week.
49ERS: Generally play more zone than man coverage and are expected to do so in this matchup, not only because it's their specialty but because of Jones' mobility around and out of the pocket. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is a lock to fire up a bunch of blitzes as well; the 49ers have a pressure rate of at least 37% of their snaps in each of their first two games.
JONES: Predictably has struggled when pressured, already owning a minus-0.53 EPA per dropback and a 26.2 QB rating this year when the heat's on. Last year those numbers were minus-0.18 and 83.8, so mercifully there's room for improvement but this might not be the week for it.
GIANTS: Are without Saquon Barkley, likely putting more work on Jones' plate. Last week was just the ninth time in 22 career games with at least 36 pass attempts that he's thrown two touchdowns. In those 22 games, he's thrown at least one interception 15 times.
UH OH: Jones not only figures to deal with a heck of a lot of pressure, but tight end Darren Waller should be smothered by a 49ers pass defense that ranks top-seven in yards per catch allowed (9.4), yards after catch per reception allowed (YAC/reception; 3.31 yards) and has given up just one touchdown to wide receivers and tight ends combined (it was to Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth from three yards out) with zero missed tackles.
Zack Moss RB
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
If you start Moss, you're hoping Gardner Minshew is his quarterback. The offense looked more traditional and Minshew isn't near the threat to take rushing work away from his running backs. Moss also ran with good efficiency with Minshew last week, though that could change dramatically this week. If it's Richardson on the field then Moss' upside really craters. Either way, the matchup stinks for him.
LAST WEEK WITH RICHARDSON: In 16 snaps Moss had five touches (one reception) and totaled 19 yards (3.3-yard rushing average).
LAST WEEK WITH MINSHEW: In 39 snaps Moss had 17 touches (three receptions) and totaled 88 yards (5.4-yard rushing average) and scored from 11 yards out.
ALL COLTS RBs WITH RICHARDSON (including Moss): In 82 snaps Colts RBs had 27 touches (eight receptions) and totaled 76 yards (2.0-yard rushing average) with zero touchdowns. Richardson has three rushing touchdowns already.
RAVENS: Against the Texans and then the Bengals, no running back has hit 13 PPR or 10 non-PPR points. Behind a terrific linebacker duo in Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, the Ravens have held enemy backs to 3.6 yards per carry and rank in the top-eight in runs of five-plus yards allowed (eight), runs of 10-plus yards allowed (one!), yards after contact per rush allowed (2.38) and missed tackles on rushes (four).
Gus Edwards RB
BAL Baltimore • #35
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Ravens have habitually used multiple running backs for years, and they'll try to do so with Edwards and Gordon. But I suspect those same high-value touches that went to Hill will now go to Edwards, especially near the goal line. He should have a solid edge in overall touches too. I would give Edwards a shot ahead of Dameon Pierce, Zack Moss and A.J. Dillon (assuming Aaron Jones is sidelined, of course).
LAST WEEK: In their first game without J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore kept leaning on Justice Hill in both overall snap share (barely, 54% to Edwards' 46%) and in high-value situations (50% of third/fourth downs and 86% of inside the 10 snaps). The one inside-the-10 snap he didn't play on, Edwards scored from a yard out after Hill had a try at it. Despite all this, Edwards still outgained Hill on his 10 carries (62 yards) compared to Hill's 11 carries and three catches (53 yards).
FOURTH QUARTER: When it was time to put the game away Edwards stepped up and played 12 of 18 fourth-quarter snaps (Hill had the other six, all in the first half of the quarter). Edwards converted three short third-downs in the quarter including the one to ice the game. The team trusts him.
FILM: Edwards wasn't the fastest runner between the two, but he was the better runner. He seemed to have better vision and felt more in-sync with the O-line while Hill ran with inconsistent vision and patience. It's Hill's speed and versatility in the passing game that keeps him on the field more than the bruising Edwards.
JUSTICE HILL: Is not expected to play after suffering turf toe. The Ravens will call up Melvin Gordon from the practice squad to help; Kenyan Drake was signed for insurance purposes, per ESPN.
COLTS: Have been outstanding against the run save for one bad quarter against the Jaguars. In that fourth quarter, they allowed 5.4 yards per carry with five missed tackles. In their other seven quarters against Jacksonville and Houston they've given up under 2.5 yards per carry with three missed tackles. With big boosts from Grover Stewart and Shaquille Leonard on top of stalwarts DeForest Buckner and Zaire Franklin, the Colts run defense has been much better than expected.
RAVENS: Are expected to be without two starting offensive linemen again this week; the replacement for Ronnie Stanley at left tackle (Patrick Mekari) did a nice job blocking, while the replacement for Tyler Linderbaum at center (Sam Mustipher) had some whiffs. It's not a serious downgrade but the center figures to have more problems this week given the matchup.
TEN Tennessee • #10
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Even if Hopkins has a full week of practice, he could wind up with a stat line that resembles what he did in Week 1: 13 targets, seven grabs and 65 yards. That's flex worthy in PPR, but still not good enough to call a start, especially in non-PPR leagues. I'd rather shoot for upside with Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison and Tutu Atwell.
LAST WEEK: Played despite not practicing at all in the lead-up to the game. Played 59% of the snaps and 72% of Tennessee's pass plays, big drop-offs from Week 1, suggesting there was a snap management issue. But the biggest drop-off was in target share: 20.8% compared to 39.4% in Week 1. Ryan Tannehill throwing 10 fewer passes was also a big factor.
FILM: For the most part Hopkins looked like the recent version of himself, running terrific routes with good lateral agility and solid (sometimes good) speed. But he struggled to separate from man coverage, which frankly has been an issue for him at this stage of his career anyway.
BROWNS: Have played the second-most man coverage through the first two weeks of the season with consistent usage in each of their games against the Bengals and Steelers. They're also pressuring the quarterback at a high rate (at least 38% of snaps in each game) without consistently sending blitzes. They're in the top-12 in four-man pressure rate, which is a staple for most of the very good defenses around the league. As a benefit, they've stymied every receiver they've played save for one play against George Pickens in Week 2.
Jerome Ford RB
CLE Cleveland • #34
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If the matchup were better Ford would be a runaway must-start. But even in a tough matchup Ford carries appeal because the Browns can use him in the pass game, work him on the edges of the Titans defense and, frankly, need to get some pressure off of Deshaun Watson's shoulders. I'd expect north of 15 touches in what feels like a competitive low-scoring game, perfect for Ford's game script. It's a little risky but I'd chance it with Ford over Javonte Williams, Isiah Pacheco and certainly Najee Harris.
FORD: A one-time running back for Alabama, he totaled 20 touchdowns and over 1,500 total yards in his last year at Cincinnati (2021). The Browns took him in Round 5 and sparingly used him as a rookie because, hello, they had Nick Chubb.
FILM: Ford is fast (as you saw), has pretty good size and is an upgrade in the passing game because he understands spacing and getting open, both of which were clear on his short TD catch at Pittsburgh. Where he struggled last week and in the past is in his vision and decisiveness on runs -- he may take a little bit of time to process the play in front of him. He also showed out as a pass blocker, stone-walling a Steeler on each of his three tries.
OTHER BROWNS RBs: Ford has yet to handle a big slate of reps as a pro, so the Browns may hesitate a little to give him a huge workload this fast. Kareem Hunt gives Cleveland a back who knows the offense and Pierre Strong, while an asset on special teams, can also pitch in. Neither one figures to land a meaningful role this week unless Ford struggles. Put simply, Ford should be the guy.
TITANS: Lead the NFL in rush yards per carry allowed (2.6), defense rush EPA (14.19, a huge number) and rushes of five-plus yards allowed (six). They're also top-five in yards before and after contact allowed and missed tackles on runs (three). A plus-size D-line with savvy linebackers behind them is great, but to be fair, they've taken on Jamaal Williams, Taysom Hill and Josh Kelley.
Kyle Pitts TE
ATL Atlanta • #8
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
If Pitts' playing time keeps trending in the right direction, and if the matchup isn't that bad for him, then he should have a shot at coming through for some solid numbers. I wouldn't expect a big breakout game but he should at least land the 10 PPR points needed to be a useful Fantasy starter. We are getting to a point where Pitts could just be a weekly bust but I'm just not there yet. I'd take the shot on Pitts over Sam LaPorta and Hunter Henry this week, and he could be a terrific low-owned DFS option too.
FILM: Pitts was getting open against zone coverage and ran more routes of 11-plus yards in Week 2 (11) than Week 1 (4), but of those 11 routes, two were clear-outs so a teammate could get open. Others in Atlanta, especially Drake London, are getting open faster than he is.
END ZONE: Pitts drew a defensive pass interference call from two yards out that would have otherwise been a touchdown catch. On the very next play he had another end-zone target but Ridder threw way off the mark. Clearly he was on Arthur Smith's mind when it came to scoring.
SNAPS: Pitts still isn't a full-time player. He played 60% of the snaps in Week 1, 71% of the snaps in Week 2. He's definitely trending in the right direction, but between this and his slower-than-expected routes, he may still be experiencing some limitations from the knee injury that ended his 2022 season early.
TARGETS: On the season his Average Depth of Target (ADOT) is 11.75 but just one of his four receptions has gone for longer than that (his fortunate 34-yard underthrown lollipop from Desmond Ridder in Week 1). Also, through two weeks, Pitts has a 17% target share (third-highest on the team) and a ghastly 14.5% target per route run rate. That's not good.
LIONS: Have allowed a 78% catch rate to tight ends (just below league-average) and rank bottom-five in yards per catch allowed (12.5) and missed tackles against tight ends (five). They've played Noah Gray, Blake Bell, Noah Fant, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson; at least one tight end has nine PPR points against Detroit each week. Also, the initial defender covering Fant's targets last week, James Houston, is out and was replaced by Derrick Barnes, who was better against the run than the pass. The matchup isn't bad.
Jared Goff QB
DET Detroit • #16
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Atlanta's defense isn't scary enough to deter people from trusting Goff again in Week 3. Expectations should remain mild but he's in a better-than-usual spot thanks to the Lions run game somewhat unsettled with David Montgomery expected to play. More should fall on Goff's shoulders, including (hopefully) more targets for Jahmyr Gibbs. Goff should start over Justin Fields, Deshaun Watson, Jordan Love and Daniel Jones.
LAST WEEK: Goff and the Lions got swept into a high-scoring shootout at home where he razed Seattle's defense for 323 yards and three scores with a pick.
FALCONS: Blitzed Jordan Love a ton last week -- 59.3% of his snaps, to be exact. They got to him just once, though; the Packers allowed a pressure just 22.2% of their offensive snaps, which suggests the Falcons are capable of being an aggressive bunch defensively but may not be able to consistently overcome a capable offensive line.
O-LINE: The only weak link of Detroit's front five last week was right guard Graham Glasgow, who allowed three pressures over 15 pass snaps while replacing Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Glasgow figures to start this week. Backup-turned-starter Matt Nelson held his own at right tackle. This is still a good unit even if it's down two starters.
GOFF: Obviously has better numbers when he's not pressured, but through two weeks he's still completing 65% of his passes when pressured for a modest 6.8 yards per attempt. He's not perfect but he's on a much better pace than he was in 2022, or ever.
Gabe Davis WR
BUF Buffalo • #13
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
This feels like a good matchup for the Bills to air it out, or at least throw it a bunch because the Commanders run defense is pretty good. They've also registered well against tight ends. The fun part is even if the Commanders play heavy zone to deter the deep ball, Allen can make things happen off-schedule for Davis, just like he did last week. I'd start Davis as an upside play over both Commanders receivers, Garrett Wilson and Michael Pittman.
LAST WEEK: Saw his role change from Week 1 -- he was used more in motion pre-snap and even saw an uptick in slot snaps against Las Vegas. It worked out for him, but maybe not because of where he lined up. His short touchdown and his long catch of 40 yards were both on scramble plays where Allen evaded pressure.
TARGET SHARE: On the season he's seen a weak 14.7% target share, barely ahead of James Cook (13.3%), Dalton Kincaid (13.3%) and Dawson Knox (12%). But that's weighed down by his extremely low number against the Jets -- against Las Vegas he saw 19.4% of the target share, which is where he should be most weeks.
COMMANDERS: Were annihilated by deep throws last week, giving up four deep pass plays of 15-plus yards not including a last-gasp Hail Mary that connected for Denver. It's a bad look for a pass defense that not only added speed to its secondary but also has a deep pass rushing unit. Two of the long throws came on blitzes and two came with man coverage, so they were beat every which way by the big play.
DAVIS: Already leads the Bills with five target of 15-plus Air Yards. He was second on the team last year with 44 such deep targets, three fewer than Stefon Diggs, and with nearly identical results (0.9% lower catch rate, 46 fewer yards, one fewer touchdown).
WAS Washington • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
It is worth noting that McLaurin was the go-to guy when Washington trailed last week, so it's possible he keeps that role this week, even if the data suggests his outside role is tougher than that of Dotson, who moves around a lot more. If Logan Thomas is out, perhaps McLaurin sees an extra target or two. I would start McLaurin as a low-end flex over Dotson, even if he doesn't have the same kind of upside, because he seems to have connected with Howell. But I would not start McLaurin over Jordan Addison or Chris Godwin.
Jahan Dotson WR
WAS Washington • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Maybe there's a bump there for both receivers if Logan Thomas is sidelined, and perhaps the matchup is easier for Dotson than for McLaurin, but the reality is that Washington has become one of those offenses that likes to spread the ball around when they throw, and use the run game even when they're trailing. It's especially annoying that Dotson hasn't become a focal point nor has he found scoring chances like he did last year. He's no better than a low-end flex who, I think, still carries some upside, but not enough to be a better option than George Pickens, Jerry Jeudy or Tutu Atwell.
LAST WEEK: McLaurin got cooking once the Commanders were down 21-3, catching 3 of 4 targets for 44 yards including a deep 30-yard gem from Sam Howell in tight coverage. Dotson had five first-quarter targets ... and had one more called off by a penalty for the rest of the game.
FOURTH QUARTERS: This is weird -- McLaurin and Dotson have combined for THREE second-half targets and Z-E-R-O fourth-quarter targets from Howell. Making the issue even stranger is that Washington has been in competitive fourth quarters in both Weeks 1 and 2 against the Cardinals and Broncos. And it's not like either defense they've faced double-teamed either receiver or clamped down on one for the whole game (Pat Surtain was only on McLaurin consistently in the late fourth quarter).
COMMANDERS: Not only have tried to spread the ball around, but they've leaned on *checks notes* Brian Robinson in both of their come-from-behind wins. Just looking at the second halves, Robinson had 29 touches and no one else had more than four! Even Howell has thrown just 16 times on 22 dropbacks in the third and fourth quarters. Crazy!
OVERALL TARGET SHARE: No one in Washington is at 20% for the season. Dotson actually leads the way at 19% with McLaurin at 15.9%, one spot behind *checks notes again* Logan Thomas with 17.5%.
AND THE SECOND-HALF TARGET SHARE LEADER IS: Tied between Thomas and *seriously this note checking is getting lame* Antonio Gibson at 20% each. Dotson, by the way, is at 6.7%.
LOGAN THOMAS: Isn't expected to play this week after taking an ugly hit last week at Denver. His target opportunities are available for others.
CAN WE GET TO THIS WEEK ALREADY? Buffalo ranks ninth in man coverage snaps (26.1%), a change from prior years, which is something we thought might happen with Sean McDermott calling plays. I can't say they're a shutdown unit based on their data because they're not dominant at any one thing. They have given up four catches of 20-plus yards (none more than 25 yards) and are giving up 13.4 yards per catch, which is in the bottom 10. They have been worse against slot guys than outside guys, though both TDs allowed to receivers came along the outside, both against Tre'Davious White -- one on a well-schemed play and another on an amazing adjustment, and both by elite receivers.
WORTH MENTIONING: After Breece Hall used the Bills defense as his own personal welcome mat, the Bills run defense rallied to slam on Josh Jacobs in Week 2. If they reamins staunch against Washington, the Commanders will have no choice but to take to the air. They'll be aided by a Bills pass rush that hasn't blitzed much through two weeks and is below league average in pressure rate with four rushers (30.2%).
Jerry Jeudy WR
DEN Denver • #10
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I anticipate Jeudy taking on more work and a larger role in Denver's offense this week, particularly if the Broncos find themselves in a competitive game like they have through the first two weeks. Jeudy looked good and ran fast, so there's no reason for Wilson to not give him some opportunities throughout the game. I like him much better in PPR where he can work as a high-end flex ahead of Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin and DeAndre Hopkins.
LAST WEEK: Jeudy was heavily in the slot -- nearly 75% of his snaps. He played nearly 70% of the snaps too, so it felt like he shook off some cobwebs and still showed where he'll line up the most is this season.
FILM: Jeudy looked good, using speed and precise route running to consistently break from coverage or find space against zone defense looks. He and Wilson seemed to miscommunicate on a couple of plays, something that could hopefully fix itself this week.
DOLPHINS: Are expected to do what most defenses do against Wilson and play a lot of zone coverage without blitzing him a ton. Jeudy has flip-flopped against zone coverage but ultimately will need improved target volume if he's to come through for a good game against it.
SLOT WRs: Miami struggled with Keenan Allen Week 1 (52 of his 76 yards came from the slot) but bounced back with a good showing against all of the Patriots' slot receivers in Week 2. Nickelback Kader Kohou figures to be the guy likely facing Jeudy -- he's allowed a 100% catch rate through two games, but for just 5.6 yards per catch.
HOU Houston • #31
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If I was assured that Pierce would see more playing time and exceed the 17 touches he had last week, I'd be more inclined to start him because I don't think the matchup is that tough. Until that changes, and especially once the line gets better, Pierce is tough to believe in. I'd rather go with Jerome Ford, Isiah Pacheco and Joshua Kelley.
TEXANS: Entire run game has been an eyesore through eight quarters. Pierce hasn't averaged 3.5 yards per carry yet in a game. He also has a minus-0.04 yards before contact per rush average this year (third-lowest among RBs with at least 20 carries) and 2.69 yards after contact per rush average (below the league average). A lot of that is on an offensive line that somehow hasn't been graded bottom-five by Pro Football Focus in run blocking.
O-LINE: It looks like stud left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be back this week. But two-thirds of the interior spots and the right tackle are still problems for Houston right now.
PIERCE: Has yet to play 50% of the snaps in a game. Hold on, it gets worse. Pierce has played just 57% of the Texans' first- and second-downs; he's played a lean 19% of their third-down snaps so far. There's too much sharing in this backfield.
JAGUARS: The stats say Jacksonville's run defense is awesome -- 3.1 yards per carry allowed, just six runs of five-plus yards afforded and zero rushing touchdowns given. But Isiah Pacheco had four of those six five-plus yard runs last week including gashes for 11 and 31 yards, and he had just 12 carries.
Nico Collins WR
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Collins figures to see a lot of targets from C.J. Stroud and have a shot at making a good game great if he can shake coverage and gain extra yards after the catch. He's already been doing plenty of that and this matchup shouldn't hinder him.
LAST WEEK: Improved on his 14-point PPR outing against the Ravens with a seven-catch, 146-yard, one-score explosion against the Colts' hapless secondary.
TEXANS: Have been forced into pass-heavy game scripts because they've fallen behind in both of their games this season, but Collins has been a part of the offense even in the first half. Last week he had scored and racked up 60 yards on three catches in the first 22 minutes of game clock. Best of all, Collins is averaging 10 targets per game.
JAGUARS: Have allowed a 72% catch rate to outside wideouts (bottom-10) for 12.0 yards per catch (better than league average). The larger problem in Jacksonville are the handful of plays where they've allowed over 20 yards after the catch.
COLLINS: Is averaging 5.77 YAC/reception on the year, 10th best among 61 receivers with at least 10 targets.
JAC Jacksonville • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Two things are working against Kirk this week: The Jaguars' likelihood of running the ball well and the matchup being great for all the pass-catchers and not just him. Tack on Kirk not seeing a lot of downfield throws in Week 2 and it feels like he will be without the necessary volume to be a good Fantasy receiver. I've moved him behind the Commanders receivers, DeAndre Hopkins and Josh Reynolds.
LAST WEEK: Kirk was a focal point for the Jaguars, leading with 14 targets and turning them into 11 grabs for 110 yards. He was the alternative for their run game, which went mostly unused (13 carries for Travis Etienne and D'Ernest Johnson combined). Kirk had two throws downfield for 13 and 40 Air Yards (he caught the longer one). The rest of his 12 targets combined for 24 Air Yards.
TEXANS: Have struggled in all facets defensively and looked worse against the run in Week 2. Zack Moss averaged 4.9 yards per run and had 10 runs of five-plus yards. Houston missed seven tackles in the game. It's a certainty the Jaguars will try to run at least a little more after throwing 72% of their snaps in Week 2.
TEXANS: Also have a beat-up secondary -- slot cornerback Tavierre Thomas broke his hand and will be replaced by inexperienced-but-speedy nickelback Grayland Arnold. That matchup looks juicy (and would benefit Kirk), but top cornerback Derek Stingley got hurt in practice this week and will be replaced by veteran Shaquill Griffin. THAT matchup looks even better and should suit Calvin Ridley just fine.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Kelley is worth another shot because he seems like the clear lead guy for the Bolts as long as Austin Ekeler is out. The game figures to be high-scoring, so getting a back who will play over 70% of the snaps makes a lot of sense. He's a low-end starter I would use over Dameon Pierce, Zack Moss and any Jets RB.
LAST WEEK: Played 78% of the snaps including all seven inside the 10 and all but three snaps on third and fourth downs. He just had the unfortunate luck of taking on the Titans, who sabotaged almost half of his runs by dominating his blocking (not just by his O-line but by his receivers too).
FILM: Kelley has quick acceleration to top speed, but he didn't consistently react instinctively to the blocking in front of him and may have needed an extra second to get moving when he stopped his feet. He did finish a number of his runs with power, which will help against lesser run defenses. His third-down work isn't going anywhere because he did a great job as a blocker, but don't expect him to handle a lot of targets.
VIKINGS: Are coming off a 10-day break following a dismantling on the ground at the hands of D'Andre Swift and the Eagles. The week before they handled business against the Buccaneers running backs who struggled to find lanes behind their iffy O-line. In both games the Vikings did worse against zone-run schemes than power schemes.
CHARGERS: O-line has been much better blocking for zone-run schemes.
Hunter Henry TE
NE New England • #85
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Henry has a safe PPR floor of 10 points -- he's grabbed at least five passes in each game and should be in line for that amount if the Patriots don't suddenly find success on the ground. Not many tight ends have that same floor, so he's a starter who feels safer for Fantasy than Sam LaPorta, David Njoku and Pat Freiermuth.
PATRIOTS: Have become one of the league's pass-heaviest offenses with a 68.5% pass rate (tied for third highest). It's not entirely because they've found themselves trailing in the second half, either -- they rank sixth-highest in pass rate in the first half of games (66.2%).
HENRY: Has caught all but two of 13 throws from Mac Jones so far. That sounds nice, but those 13 targets represent just 13.5% of Jones' throws through two weeks, a low target share to be sure. Henry also has yet to record more than 13 yards on any of his receptions and is averaging just under 10 yards per grab.
JETS: Allowed two touchdowns to tight ends last week, both from inside the five-yard line. They've also allowed 84.6% of tight end targets to be caught, but tight ends have seen just 13 targets against them. On those 13 targets, only one was caught for more than a 10-yard gain (15 yards to Dawson Knox in Week 1). The Jets bend, but don't break, against tight ends, except maybe near the goal line.
NO New Orleans • #13
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Thomas is OK as a flex in PPR since 12 points is a pretty easy bar for him to reach. Expecting anything more than that feels risky, particularly since Derek Carr has made a bunch of plays with Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed, both of whom figure to give the Packers cornerbacks more trouble than Thomas. I'd roll with him over DeAndre Hopkins and George Pickens but I would start Tutu Atwell, Jordan Addison and Michael Pittman over Thomas.
THROUGH TWO WEEKS: Thomas has played mostly outside while Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and tight end Juwan Johnson take turns in the slot. He's had at least eight targets per game and 11 PPR points in each game, but he hasn't
YARDS AFTER CATCH: Over 12 receptions, Thomas has totaled exactly eight yards after the catch. His 0.67 YAC/reception average and 11.8% explosive play rate suggest that he's in need of heavy volume in order to be a good Fantasy receiver. The 8.5 targets per game hasn't quite gotten the job done.
PACKERS: Sport one of the league's top outside cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander. He dominated D.J. Moore in Week 1 but did have a hard time with tall, big and fast receiver Drake London in Week 2. Thomas should be slightly easier for Alexander to handle, as will Rasul Douglas (who actually has better metrics than Alexander so far).
CAR Carolina • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
There are too many things that can go right for Sanders -- he could score, he should continue to see a good amount of work, and he could be dangerous if the Seahawks miss a tackle against him. That should keep him in lineups, but Chuba Hubbard seeing game action when the Panthers were trailing in the fourth quarter is troubling, as is the Panthers offense as a whole with Bryce Young struggling to quickly adapt to the pro game. I'd still use him over Javonte Williams, Dameon Pierce and Najee Harris, but I'd chance it with D'Andre Swift, Brian Robinson and Jerome Ford over Sanders.
LAST WEEK: Sanders' workload and efficiency dropped in a tough matchup against the Saints. He continued to play sparingly on third downs, and he saw Chuba Hubbard handle 12 of 21 snaps in the fourth quarter as the Panthers' hurry-up back. At least he still saw at least 17 touches for the second straight game.
FILM: After a 13-yard run early on, New Orleans keyed in on him and overwhelmed Sanders and his blocking for pretty much the rest of the game. Eight of his runs went for three yards or less, and his second-longest play of the game, run or catch, went seven yards. His speed, once he used it, was fine, but it looked like he was a little slow to react when he didn't have a clear lane.
SEAHAWKS: Have allowed four touchdowns to running backs through two games (three in Week 1 to the Rams). That's awful. But they've held opposing RBs to 2.7 yards per carry and 0.37 yards before contact per rush, both top-five in the league. Considering they played the Lions last week, that's not bad. They have missed 15 tackles, worst in the league, but only three of the plays with a missed tackle went for seven or more yards, and none went for more than 16.
CHI Chicago • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
There's a part of me that wants to buy into Fields one more time in case he explodes on the ground this week. And hey, the Bears are getting desperate for a win (and some good news), so they'll try almost anything. Fields' mobility could help set a floor of 15 Fantasy points, and his ceiling is double that. Concerns about the Chiefs defense being more than ready for it, and the Bears offensive line being in shambles, makes me nervous. I'd consider him over Deshaun Watson and Jordan Love, but safer choices like Jared Goff, Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow (assuming he plays) make more sense.
FIELDS: While there were flashes of good quarterbacking last week, the reality is that he's still struggling to set his feet properly, get the ball out quickly, find open receivers and read defenses. It's especially troubling that he got worse as last week's game at Tampa Bay went on.
O-LINE: What was supposed to be a strength has quickly unraveled as left tackle Braxton Jones was placed on injured reserve this week. That puts two starters on the sideline against a Chiefs defense that's still looking to put maximum pressure on opposing quarterbacks (they've been below the league average in each of their first two games). Both tackle spots appear to be liabilities for Chicago.
FIELDS: Spoke this week about the need to play "his game" and not be "robotic." He said he wants to "think less" and "play off of instincts." It's basically a suggestion that he's receiving too many pointers and simply just wants to go out there and react to what the defense is doing. It's hard to hear that and expect him to improve as a thrower, but it should almost certainly mean he'll run more than he has this year.
CHIEFS: Haven't been tested by running quarterbacks much this season. Last year the defensive unit allowed 4.9 yards per rush to quarterbacks and seven rushing touchdowns including Jalen Hurts' three in the Super Bowl.
BEARS: Have called five designed runs for Fields through the first two weeks. From Week 5 through Week 17 last year, they called 76 -- nearly seven per game. That doesn't include another 50 scrambles (4.5 per game) he took on when a passing play broke down.
Dak Prescott QB
DAL Dallas • #4
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
There's always a chance this game plays out like Prescott's Week 1, when he didn't have to throw much in a lopsided win where the Cowboys defense dominated. Because that's in play, Prescott's upside for a big game is about 20 to 22 Fantasy points. He should get close, which is why he's a low-end starter for Week 3. I'd start Jared Goff and Geno Smith ahead of him, but not Justin Fields or Russell Wilson.
PRESCOTT: Threw more in Week 2 in part because the Cowboys couldn't consistently run the ball against the Jets. That helped him notch 255 yards and two touchdowns, missing on just seven of his 38 pass attempts against a really good jets secondary.
CARDINALS: Haven't gotten blown out yet as they've created a decent pass rush to attack the Commanders and Giants' O-lines over the first two weeks of the season. They've also been better than expected against the run (3.3 yards per carry, only two runs of 10-plus yards allowed). Both passers to play Arizona have had to throw at least 31 times, and both have totaled at least two touchdowns.
COWBOYS: Are a step-up in class as far as their O-line goes, better than league average in pass rush pressure rate allowed (18.5%). Prescott has been sacked once through two games against two feisty New York defenses. He should have time to throw in Week 3.
PRESCOTT: Has been about the same against man and zone coverages this year but was better last year against zone coverage. The Cardinals have started each of two games playing heavy zone coverage before changing to man coverage in the second half. It could allow for Prescott to get off to a fast start.
Najee Harris RB
PIT Pittsburgh • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Steelers land in Vegas after an emotional and very physical home win on Monday, but the short turn-around figures to impact Pittsburgh's defense (which played 87 snaps!) more so than its offense. This is clearly Harris' easiest matchup to date and might be his easiest of the season. We'll know after this game whether or not he still has juice. With the hope he can score and rack up at least 60 total yards, I'd start him over Javonte Williams, Zack Moss, the Jets RBs and the Bears RBs.
THE BAD: Through two games, Harris has three plays that have exceeded five yards. They've been good ones -- gains of 17, 21 and 24 yards -- but they've been overshadowed by the 13 plays that have produced two or fewer yards. For reference, Harris has 19 touches on the year.
THE GOOD: Harris is still dominating running downs work, has played on 5 of 7 red-zone snaps and also their lone play inside the 10-yard line. That's right, they've had only one. Through two weeks. But he's had it and still seems like their preferred back, for now.
FILM: He's rarely explosive with the ball in his hands, but the run-game struggles are not all on him. The Steelers offensive line has struggled in a major way to open up lanes for him. Who they've played -- San Francisco and Cleveland -- have made a massive difference. Two of those three big runs involved him hitting the edges and a third saw him weave out of a tackle and change course. He's needed that space to accelerate to his top speed.
RAIDERS: Looked pretty solid against the run in Week 1, but collapsed against the Bills in Week 2. In both games Las Vegas allowed at least 4.4 yards per carry and at least 3.2 yards after contact per attempt. They missed eight total tackles over the two games and exactly four runs of 10-plus yards in both.
PIT Pittsburgh • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Two things make Pickens a worthy flex starter: The expectation that Kenny Pickett won't get pressured a ton, and the likelihood that Pickens will lead Pittsburgh in targets. But on top of Pickens' flaws is the thought that the Steelers should be able to run the ball effectively this week as the Raiders have not been good against the run. If that's the case then Pickett may not have to throw a ton. So keep expectations mild for Pickens, who I would start over Tutu Atwell, Terry McLaurin and the Chiefs WRs.
LAST WEEK: Reminded the Steelers playcaller that he existed when he took a slant 71 yards to the house. That was on his third target of the game, which came with nearly 6:00 left to play in the first half. Pickens had two more targets to end the half, then five more in the second half to lead the Steelers by a mile. His final stat line: 4-127-1.
FILM: There's good and bad here. The preseason criticism about Pickens not being able to get open was clear -- I take no pride in saying that, by my count, he was legitimately open on eight of his 30 routes including just twice against man coverage. However, the preseason criticism about Pickens not running a variety of routes was squashed, especially in the second half when he ran six different types of routes over 11 routes.
PICKETT: Also hasn't put together a clean game yet as a thrower. He was off-target on two throws to Pickens and made bad reads on two other targets to Pickens. A fifth pass was batted down. Pass rush pressure has been a major factor impacting Pickett.
RAIDERS: Rank dead last in pass rush pressure rate through two games at 22.7%. That includes Las Vegas blitzing Josh Allen on 41% of his dropbacks last Sunday. Maxx Crosby is a tremendous pass rusher, but the rest of the defense -- especially up front -- has struggled. This is welcomed news for a Steelers offensive line that's seen nothing but pressure through the first two weeks.
WORTH NOTING: Las Vegas has allowed four touchdowns to receivers, but only one went to a No. 1 type (Courtland Sutton, Week 1 when Jerry Jeudy was out). As bad as they were at corralling Gabe Davis in Week 2, they were very effective against Stefon Diggs. Keep in mind: Diggs is among the craftiest route runners in the league and Davis is fast -- both qualities Pickens hasn't mastered yet.
Chris Godwin WR
TB Tampa Bay • #14
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
The story is the same for Godwin every week: If he scores he should bring over 10 non-PPR/15 PPR Fantasy points; if he doesn't you'll probably be disappointed. That makes him a weekly WR3, even in a matchup that will probably be scarier for Mayfield than for Godwin because of the Eagles' pass rush. Maybe that means more short targets, which helps in PPR, but not as much in non-PPR.
THROUGH TWO WEEKS: Despite seeing only four fewer targets than Mike Evans, Godwin has caught 10 of 14 for 109 scoreless yards. This includes him seeing two end-zone targets last week, both of which were off-target from Baker Mayfield.
FILM: Godwin was never the fastest guy, but it does feel like his agility is sudden, which is an asset that helps him get open. He's shown very good timing with Mayfield on shorter throws, mostly in-breaking routes.
GODWIN: Needs volume -- the 7.0 targets per game is nice but without explosive after-catch ability on the regular, he needs touchdowns to be effective for Fantasy. Otherwise, he's just a solid No. 3 PPR wide receiver with a modest floor.
EAGLES: Despite a top-10 catch rate allowed to receivers (58.9%), they haven't been the shut-down unit we learned to love last season. They've also been among the zone-heaviest pass defenses this season, playing at 78% of their snaps. Losing slot cornerback Avonte Maddox will sting them. Veteran outside cornerback James Bradberry remains in the concussion protocol.
GODWIN: Hasn't been the Bucs' primary slot receiver so far this season -- Deven Thompkins and rookie Trey Palmer have been working there the most. Which means Godwin will either see plenty of Bradberry if he plays or Josh Jobe, who was responsible for two Minnesota touchdowns last Thursday. It's a pretty big difference.
Tutu Atwell WR
LAR L.A. Rams • #5
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Rams actually do not register as one of the league's top passing offenses, though it seems like it given the targets Nacua and Atwell have gotten this season. It's a concentrated offense -- those two see way more targets than anyone else on the team ... and honestly more than most receivers in the league. Nacua will still get his, but Atwell should be in play for another quality outing, especially if the Bengals do line up and try to attack Stafford with the blitz. I'd roll with Atwell as a volume-based upside receiver over the Commanders duo, the Chiefs duo and DeAndre Hopkins.