Ah! Week 2 comes around and the fantasy football world has returned to normalcy!....What? Nothing went back to normal? Everything was still crazy and out of control? Oh well, a man can dream. Let's just keep chugging along and get straight to the games for Week 3.
As always, these games are ones that I think will result in good fantasy days for a lot of the players involved in them. Just because I don't have the Chargers @ Vikings game in here doesn't mean I don't really like Adrian Peterson this week, these games just especially caught my eye as good for fantasy purposes.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ St. Louis Rams - Sunday, Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m. ET
Overview: I'm sure some of you are looking at this matchup and wondering why the Rams are on any list for fantasy relevant purposes. Well, look no further than the Steelers Week 2 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. Now, Carlos Hyde and the running game may not have had time to get anything going (both due to injury and the Steelers offense running them out of the building), but the passing game had plenty of time to get garbage time stats. Colin Kaepernick piled up 335 yards and 2 touchdowns and was 33/46 passing for a 106.7 passer rating against the Steelers (again, mostly in garbage time). I don't think I need to mention what Tom Brady and the Patriots did to Pittsburgh's defense in Week 1, right? I know the Rams' defense is better than the Niners', but I don't see them slowing down this explosive Steelers attack, especially with them getting Le'Veon Bell back this week. This sets the Rams up for all kinds of junk time stats in the passing game, as the Steelers currently have the 27th ranked pass defense in the league. I don't usually like to rely on this, but it seems like something you're going to be able to count on for much of the year with teams going up against Pittsburgh's high-powered offense and sieve-like defense.
The Rams: I know Nick Foles isn't a world-beater at quarterback, but I feel pretty confident that if you're one of those people who lost Tony Romo or is worried about Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and/or Sam Bradford, you could do worse than streaming Foles this week. While he hasn't been great in the first two weeks, he also hasn't been awful, with a completion percentage of 59.3, 447 passing yards, 2 TDs and no INTs. I'd also look at Foles as a contrarian play in DFS lineups.
As far as his targets go, I can't say that I'd trust any Rams' wide receivers at this point. I'm sure numbers are going to be there for somebody, I just have no idea who that individual is going to be. Kenny Britt caught the lone passing touchdown last week, but I don't have any faith in any of the options in St. Louis -- which also includes Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and the like -- being startable, even in a solid fantasy matchup such as this. If you want to take a shot in the dark on one of these guys in DFS for contrarian purposes I get it, but do so at your own risk. The only option in the passing game other than Foles that I think is fairly dependable (and I use that term loosely) is tight end Jared Cook, who had 6 and 7 targets (for 10 catches and 132 yards total) in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. I'm not saying I think Cook is a Top-10 option, but if you're streaming tight ends he's around the Top-15 and he's an interesting cheap target in DFS to go along with Foles.
Is this the week we see Todd Gurley make his NFL debut? We'll see. Even if it is, I'm not sure I'm rolling him out there in my lineups. I mean, not only would it be his first week back from major knee surgery, it would be his first EVER NFL game. If he doesn't play, the bulk of whatever carries are available would go to Tre Mason, who only ran 7 times for 26 yards last week. If the game script goes as I foresee, the Rams won't be doing a lot of work on the ground in the second half. I'd sit Mason if at all possible and would only use him as a flex at best.
The Steelers: I could use a bunch of stats to support my reasoning here, but would it really matter? At this point, I think it's pretty obvious that you're starting your Steelers each and every week. The offense has been firing on all cylinders through the first two weeks of the season and that's been without Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant! Bell comes back from his 2 game suspension this week and the Washington Redskins just ran all over the Rams' defense. For those of you that have him on your fantasy teams...let the games begin! Watching what Antonio Brown does to opposing players and defenses is just incredible. It's like he moves at a completely different speed than the rest of the players on the field and it's truly amazing. It doesn't hurt to have a QB like Ben Roethlisberger throwing to you either. These guys are Top-5 at their respective positions every week and aren't leaving your starting lineup.
As for the other pieces of the Steelers' offense...Heath Miller has had solid fantasy production in the first two games of the season and the Rams gave up 6 catches for 82 yards to Jordan Reed in Week 2. If you don't have a top-tier option, Miller is steady and can be a starting TE. Who's excited about Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey?! Not this guy. Seriously though, is anyone going to trust Heyward-Bey as a starter on your team? We've seen him have decent games before -- as he did last week with 4 catches for 77 yards and 1 TD - but he's never been good for stretches of games. I'll wait until Bryant comes back from his suspension to use a second WR option in the Steelers' offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots - Sunday, Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m. ET
Overview: Wait, what? The Rams and the Jaguars are both involved in this week's best fantasy games? This can't be...and yet, here we are. I think this game is basically going to mirror the first match-up we previewed, as the Pats should put up a lot of points and the Jags will have to dig themselves out of a big hole. New England just let Tyrod Taylor go 23/30 passing for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns (with 3 picks) to go along with 43 yards and 1 TD on the ground. That was good enough to make him the #4 QB in standard leagues in Week 2. Ben Roethlisberger went 26/38 for 351 yards and 1 TD against them in Week 1 and would have had an even better fantasy day if not for Darrius Heyward-Bey sliding his foot out of bounds in the end-zone for no apparent reason (see how everything comes full circle?). The Patriots' run defense is even worse, allowing the 5th most rushing yards in the league through two games. Like their counterparts in Pittsburgh, I don't believe the Patriots' offense will be slowed by the Jaguars defense (shocking, right?), making this game another possible junk-time magnet, or even a shootout if the Jags can keep pace with the Pats.
The Jaguars: Last week against the Dolphins, Jaguars' QB Blake Bortles went 18/33 for 273 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 27 yards. It's not amazing, but it's something...and that was against what we thought was a pretty good defense in Miami. Like Nick Foles, Bortles shouldn't be started in standard leagues if you can help it, but in deeper or 2 QB leagues, as well as DFS tournaments, he's interesting in a possible blowout or shootout.
Here's the biggest difference between the Rams and the Jaguars in these two games: the Jags have a definite #1 WR. Allen Robinson had a down Week 1 against a strong Panthers' defense and CB Josh Norman (who also shut down DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2), but exploded in Week 2 against Brent Grimes and the Dolphins' secondary. I don't think Robinson is 155 yards and 2 touchdowns every week, but he should continue to get heavily targeted and be the #1 guy in Jacksonville. I like him as a #2 WR against the weak Patriots' defense. I'm not gravitating toward the rest of the Jags' receiving options, which includes Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Hurns has had success and the script is there for him to do so in this game, I just wouldn't use him in anything but deep leagues or as a dart throw in DFS.
I'll say this about rookie RB T.J. Yeldon: he is getting ALL the work in the Jaguars' backfield. He had only 70 yards on 25 carries in Week 2, but still...25 carries! Now, I don't believe he'll get the chance to get that kind of volume this week with the Patriots' offense putting up points, but he should get basically every carry until the game gets out of hand. And even then, he'll get some receptions out of the backfield. In fact, it could be a situation where the Jags believe the only way to beat the Patriots is to keep them off the field by pounding the ball on the ground. If Jacksonville could do it, Yeldon could have a great day. I'd use him as a #2 RB or a strong flex.
The Patriots: Tom Brady is really good. Like, ridiculously good. Like, 69.2% completion percentage for 754 yards, 7 TDs and 0 INTs in two games, good. You know who else is really good? Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. You don't need me to tell you to start these guys.
After the first two weeks, you'd think I'd say the same thing about RB Dion Lewis. I just have a feeling that sooner or later, Bill Belichick is going to pull one of those switcheroos on us and give LeGarrette Blount about a million carries. Could it be this week? Well, the Jaguars have actually be pretty good against the run so far (#5 in the league), but they also haven't played against Belichick and the Pats. You can't bench Lewis after what he's done in the first two weeks and he's a #2 RB or great flex, but I'd temper expectations just in case. As for Blount, despite what I said about him possibly getting a lot of run in this game, you can't start him. He only had 2 carries after his Week 1 suspension and New England may want to keep the momentum they have in the passing game going. Wait and see what his role turns out to be before putting him in your lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Green Bay Packers - Monday, Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m. ET
Overview: This is one of the most interesting games of the week to me, from both a fantasy and real-life football perspective. I want to see the Chiefs' pass rushers against the Packers' offense line, as well as the Packers' defense against some really good weapons for the Chiefs on offense. While the Packers have been pretty good against the pass so far -- they're #12 in the league in pass yards allowed -- it's another story against the run, where they're 31st in rushing yards allowed with a horrendous 5.3 yards per rushing attempt against them. You think the Chiefs are going to ride Jamaal Charles a little? Kansas City's defense has been the opposite, strong against the run (8th in the league) and weak against the pass (23rd), which plays into the Packers' (and namely Aaron Rodgers') hands, as Eddie Lacy is banged up with an ankle injury going into Monday night. The difference is that the Chiefs are tied for 3rd with 7.0 sacks in two games. Also, does anyone else even remember that Alex Smith was the #1 pick in the 2005 NFL draft, which was the same year that Aaron Rodgers had to wait until pick #24 to hear his name called? Crazy, right? We know how great Rodgers and the Packers' offense are, let's see if the Chiefs can make the plays to keep up with them. Either way, points will be put up in this game.
The Chiefs: Alex Smith is the ultimate game manager and can make some plays, but when he has to play against a great defense -- like he did against the Broncos last week -- things can get away from him a little. Fortunately, the Packers' defense isn't up to that level, although they do have a lot of good players. I don't think Smith is going to have to put the Chiefs on his back in this one, as they should be running a lot, but he'll have to make some plays. I think he'll do enough to get the ball to his weapons, but I wouldn't trust him on my fantasy teams this week as anything more than a possible deep league fill in.
Jamaal Charles should be the focal point of the Chiefs' offensive game plan in this game (as he should be in pretty much every game) and he's been his usual self in the first two games, averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 37 attempts against the Broncos and Texans, two strong defenses coming into the season. He's also always a regular in the passing game and he's got 13 targets through two weeks. Charles is a stud.
There's really only two guys in the passing game that you're paying any attention to: Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin. Kelce came into the season with big expectations and definitely delivered in Week 1 with 6 catches for 106 yards and 2 TDs. My issue is that he only did it on 6 targets and he only got 5 targets -- resulting in 4 catches for 58 yards -- in Week 2. The Chiefs need to get Kelce more involved and give him more targets to up their offensive output. You're starting him either way, as we've seen his potential and it's enough to possibly make him the #2 TE in fantasy. Maclin has underwhelmed so far, with 5 catches for 52 yards and 4 for 57 and no TDs in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. I liked Maclin coming into the season and he looked good in the preseason, but I'm just not sure Alex Smith is going to elevate him into the #2 WR range in fantasy. He's a solid #3 WR or flex and you can use him as a low-end #2 WR if you're in a bind.
The Packers: There's a trend here, isn't there? Aaron Rodgers is another guy that you don't need me to tell you to start, but he's worth mentioning just because of how great he is. Did you see or hear the stat that's been thrown around lately that involves Rodgers not throwing an interception at Lambeau Field since Week 13...of 2012? That's insane! He's thrown 545 pass attempts and 43 touchdowns at home since his last pick at home. It's like he's an android or something...
After having only 5 targets for 5 catches, 38 yards and a TD in Week 1 coming off a shoulder injury, Randall Cobb got more involved in Week 2 with 11 targets for 8 catches and 116 yards. Start him with confidence as your #1 WR. When Jordy Nelson went down in the preseason, a lot of people were throwing a ton of hype towards Davante Adams (two thumbs pointing at this guy). Since then, however, James Jones has come back to Green Bay and his impact has been felt on the offense, especially -- and almost exclusively -- in the red zone. I still think there's room for Adams to be a #2 WR this year, but it's more likely that he finishes in the WR3 range and Rodgers just spreads the ball around after getting Cobb his targets. Adams does have a chance at a good game here though, as Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both had nice performances against the Chiefs' secondary last week. Of course, this all depends on his availability, as Adams has yet to practice this week after suffering an ankle injury in the Sunday night game against Seattle. As the #3 WR on his own team, Jones is one of those guys that you'll never want to trust as a starter in standard leagues, but in TD only leagues or DFS tournaments, he's worth a shot. However, if Adams is out, Jones could be worth higher consideration this week. Tight end Richard Rodgers had a touchdown last week, but he's only got 7 targets through the first two weeks. I wouldn't trust him.
The running game is going to be a bit iffy this week, as Eddie Lacy has also been hampered with an ankle injury he suffered in last week's game. If you're a Lacy owner you should have picked up his backup -- James Starks -- in order to ensure you have someone to plug into your lineup if Lacy is out, especially since this is the Monday night game. If you don't have Starks, you may want to go the safe route and start someone else you have playing on Sunday, as I doubt Lacy's status will be revealed before Monday. Either way, watch up for updates on both Lacy and Davante Adams throughout the weekend. Whether Lacy ends up playing or Starks has to take his place, this isn't a great match-up against the Chiefs' solid run defense. I know Lacy was your #1 pick, but unless you have both players, I'd try my best to avoid it for this week.
Redemption! Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans - Sunday, Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m. ET
The Colts have been surprisingly horrific so far on offense -- the lowest scoring offense in the league, in fact -- especially considering what we all thought they were going to be coming into the season. That time should be coming to an end starting this week, as Indianapolis starts to reach the easier portion of their schedule, with 4 of their next 5 games against Tennessee, Jacksonville, New England and New Orleans. Andrew Luck can't be happy with his play so far this season and I think he's going to start taking it out on the not-so-great defenses he'll be playing in his upcoming schedule, starting this week against the Titans. Also, I'm looking for Frank Gore to have a nice game here, as I thought he actually looked really good in that game against the Jets last week (minus that fumble at the goal line...that was just ugly), when he had several good runs called back on penalties. T.Y. Hilton should be getting healthier after a knee injury hindered him last week and Donte Moncrief has been fantastic, even with the poor play of the rest of the offense. Only Andre Johnson really concerns me at this point. He's had a really amazing career, but it just looks like he's moving in slow motion right now and he might be near the end. It's not a sure thing, but keep your eye on it if you're a Johnson owner.
As for the Titans, I'm not sure they'll keep up with the Colts' offense here, as their defense played pretty well against the Jets last week, despite missing their top 3 cornerbacks. Marcus Mariota could end up with some good stats here, but I wouldn't trust any other Titans in this game, as Delanie Walker is coming off an injury and Bishop Sankey and Kendall Wright both came back down to earth last week. I mainly wanted to point out that Indianapolis' offensive woes should come to an end here and you should keep your Colts in your lineups!
That's all I've got for this week! Good luck in Week 3!