Wow. What a great Week 1, right? Even if the team you follow didn't win or your fantasy teams had bad showings, it was definitely still fun to watch. The featured game for this series last week (Lions-Colts) definitely lived up to expectations and there were plenty of fantasy points to go around, including QBs Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck throwing 3 and 4 touchdowns, respectively, and at least 340 yards apiece, with a total of 74 points being scored by both teams. You were also pretty happy if you started basically anyone from the Raiders-Saints match-up (sorry Coby Fleener owners!), especially if you had some combination of Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks/Willie Snead, who all went nuts. And the Saints still lost! Like I said, fun to watch. We're all hoping that Week 2 will be just as entertaining, but while we wait to find out, let's take a look at the Fantasy Game of the Week.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants - Sunday, September 18 at 1:00 p.m., Over/Under: 53
Speaking of New Orleans, it may seem like I'm going chalk with this game, but sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice. Both the Saints and Giants have high-powered offenses with big-time play-makers on the outside and quarterbacks that can get them the ball with ease, as well as running backs that can get the job done both running and in the passing game. They are also known to be limited, to be kind, on defense. What does all of that add up to? Fantasy goodness, that's what.
Did I mention that Drew Brees went nuts in Week 1? I did? Well let me go into a little further. Brees finished his game against the Raiders with 423 yards and 4 TDs, completing 67% of his passes. What more could you want from your starting QB? This week he gets a Giants' pass defense that has been notoriously bad over the past several years, including being dead last in the league in passing defense last season. I know they didn't let Dak Prescott do much against them last week (25-for-45 for 227 yards and 0 TDs, although Dez Bryant almost came down with one in the endzone), but he's a rookie and I'm pretty sure Dallas' game plan involved Dak almost exclusively throwing short passes, just so he couldn't lose the game for them. I know Brees and the Saints don't usually play as well on the road, but I think he shreds this Giants' pass defense. He's a Top-3 option at QB.
If Brees went crazy last week, then he had to have someone catching the ball, right? That would be WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Cooks finished as the #1 WR in standard scoring for Week 1, putting up 6 catches for 143 yards and 2 TDs on 9 targets, including a 98-yard bomb. Snead was able to keep pace with him though, finishing as the #4 WR himself, catching all 9 of his targets for 172 yards and a TD. The Giants gave up the 9th most fantasy points to WRs in 2015 and I'm not sure how much of an improvement Janoris Jenkins is over Prince Amukamara at CB. Cooks is a must-start and you should find a way to get Snead in your lineups as a WR2 or flex. The only Saints' player who really killed his fantasy owners in Week 1 was TE Coby Fleener, who finished with just 1 catch for 6 yards on 4 targets. The Raiders gave up the 3rd-most fantasy points to TEs in 2015 and although it's difficult to predict defenses from year-to-year, this was believed to be a good match-up for Fleener. The fact that the rest of the passing game was amazing proves that Oakland's pass defense still isn't very good, making this even harder to swallow. But you can't give up on him yet, as TE has been the focal point of the Saints' passing game for years under Brees and head coach Sean Payton. Now, the Giants gave up the 2nd-most fantasy points to TEs last season and they just allowed old-man Jason Witten to catch 9 passes against them, albeit for only 66 yards. Don't be afraid, start Fleener.
RB Mark Ingram didn't have a great Week 1 fantasy-wise, scoring just 7 points, but he averaged 4.8 yards per carry (YPC). The problem was that he only got 12 carries for 58 yards and 14 touches overall, including 2 catches for 29 yards. This was likely just due to how well the Saints' passing game was flowing in this game and I'm not worried about Ingram in the long run at all, especially since New Orleans just cut failed free-agent signing RB C.J. Spiller. The Giants gave up the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing RBs last season, but they looked a little more stout last week against a very good Cowboys' offensive line, allowing only 101 yards rushing. That being said, if you have Ingram you're starting him and I'm not particularly scared of this match-up yet. He should still be a Top-10 RB this week.
The G-Men weren't amazing on offense against Dallas in Week 1 (just 316 total yards and 20 points), but they have enough talent and enough recent history to suggest that they'll have better showings, specifically this week against New Orleans. I said earlier that the Giants have been known for having a pretty weak defense recently, but they're nothing when compared to the Saints, who have been ranked 25th or worse against both the pass and the run in each of the past two seasons, including finishing 31st in both categories last season. Go big or go home, right? It doesn't look like that trend will be reversing any time soon either, as the Raiders just put up 35 points against them in their own building and managed 486 total yards on offense. Bottom line: you're starting as many Giants as you can get your hands on, at least all the ones that make reasonable sense.
QB Eli Manning was pretty efficient in Week 1, finishing with 3 TDs (and 1 INT) on just 28 pass attempts, completing 19 of them for a 68% completion percentage. The fact that he only threw for 207 yards doesn't concern me, especially now that he's going up against the Saints. Manning finished as the #9 QB in standard scoring last week and I'd expect him to finish the season as a QB1 with former Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo now taking over as Head Coach. He's at least Top-5 this week and probably more like Top-3.
I won't say Odell Beckham Jr. was a disappointment against Dallas, but 7 fantasy points wasn't what you were looking for when you drafted him Top-3 Overall. Don't be surprised if he triples or quadruples that point total against a New Orleans' secondary that gave up the 7th-most fantasy points to WRs in 2015 and doesn't look any better in 2016. He should be the #1 WR going into this weekend. Second and third options Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard both scored TDs in Week 1, but in the long run they will also take away from each other in fantasy value, as they will fight for secondary targets behind Beckham. For this week however, I would have no problem using either guy as a WR3 or flex. The TE could be a nice fantasy option in this offense if the reps weren't being split between Will Tye and Larry Donnell. Donnell caught a 15-yard TD last week on his only reception, while Tye had 3 catches for only 16 yards. It's an amazing match-up, but I don't think you can trust one of these guys unless you're desperate and in a very deep league.
I did say that it's not only the Saints' passing defense that's bad, right? RB Rashad Jennings averaged 4.2 YPC on 18 carries in Week 1 and if he had just fallen into the end-zone he would've been a RB1...but still, 18 carries! New Orleans just gave up 167 yards rushing, 3 rushing TDs and 6.4 YPC to Oakland, including a 75-yard TD run to Jalen Richard (who?!). I was on the Jennings bandwagon during draft season and I love him this week, as he has always been good when given a full workload, which the Giants seem willing to provide to start the season. Consider Jennings an amazing RB2 this week with the chance to put up RB1 numbers. Also, keep an eye on Shane Vereen in deeper PPR leagues. He got 5 targets in the passing game (which is he known to excel in) to go along with 6 carries. If he get somewhere in the 10-12 touch range he could sneak into flex territory going up against this defense.
Keep An Eye On These Too
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - Sunday, September 18 at 1:00 p.m., Over/Under: 48.5
I like a lot of players in this one, but it doesn't seem like these divisional games are high-scoring very often, particularly between these two teams. That being said, you're starting Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams, all of whom were fantastic on Monday night against Washington.
If you settled for Andy Dalton as your QB to start the season you're probably starting him here, but I don't feel great about it, which is similar to how I felt about Kirk Cousins last week going up against this same defense. I do however, feel great about A.J. Green. Did you see him toast Darrelle Revis last week to the tune of 12 catches for 180 yards and a TD? I couldn't decide if I was more happy for Green or sad for Revis. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are both probably low-end RB2s or solid flexes.
Tampa Bay at Arizona - Sunday, September 18 at 4:05 p.m, Over/Under: 50
This was the only other game that I truly considered making the Fantasy Game of the Week. Jameis Winston looked legit against the Falcons in Week 1 and I think he has nice weapons around him. The only problem here is that the Bucs have to go to Arizona to take on a Cardinals team that just lost at home to the Patriots when they didn't have Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski. They're going to want to redeem themselves from that performance and should be fired up going into this game. I think we'll see what Winston is really made of here.
On the other side, look for Arizona's passing game to bounce back after an off night against New England, especially against a Bucs defense that just got beat up for over 300 yards and 2 TDs by Matt Ryan. I'm starting Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald here. You could even consider John Brown in a flex spot.
Atlanta at Oakland - Sunday, September 18 at 4:25 p.m., Over/Under: 49.5
Just being honest, I think Oakland might blow the doors off Atlanta here. They're going to be pumped after beating New Orleans on a 2-point conversion last week and their offense was humming in that game. Pair that with an Atlanta defense that just got destroyed by Jameis Winston and Co. and you have a nice match-up. I'm starting Derek Carr as a Top-6 or 7 QB option again this week and his two main targets, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, should be started as well. Cooper is a WR1 and Crabtree is a WR3 or flex. Latavius Murray is an auto-start here as well.
Atlanta scares me a bit on offense, although this looks like a nice match-up. I think of Matt Ryan in the same vein as Cousins and Dalton as this point and believe he can give you any type of game at any time, but he's still a pretty good option this week if you're streaming or using a rotation. You don't need me to tell you to start Julio Jones, but I'd want more from him than what he did last week. #2 WR Mohamed Sanu had a nice game against Tampa, but he shouldn't be started yet, especially since he's been limited this week with an ankle injury. You're starting Devonta Freeman too, but I'm not really excited about it. I was never on the Freeman bandwagon for one reason or another and Tevin Coleman looked really good last week. I'm expecting the two to split touches more and more as the season progresses.
All right everyone, them's the games! Remember if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter @GarrettHobgood. Good luck in Week 2!