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Fantasy football Week 2 lineups: Start, sit and sleepers

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Football

How about that Lamar Jackson?

Few foresaw the Ravens quarterback having such a strong Week 1 with five touchdown passes. But that's what the first weeks of the season are about: surprises.

(And in case you're wondering, Jackson is a fair bet again this week against the Cardinals, though you may have better options. See below.)

Such unexpected gifts are hard to predict. There are, however, some Week 2 matchups where it's hard to go wrong.

Start

1. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots at Dolphins

It's only one week, but Brady's fantasy owners have to feel better about a couple of offseason worries: Rob Gronkowski's retirement would hasten Brady's decline as a top-tier fantasy producer, and the Patriots were becoming more of a run-first team.

Brady's 341-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Steelers quieted those concerns. In the long term, the Patriots need to do more to establish the running game (they got just enough against Pittsburgh) and they'll face better secondaries.

Just not this week.

The Dolphins made some curious decisions with playing time in the Ravens game for the few playmakers they have left. You can debate whether they're tanking for a top draft pick, but there's no arguing they're in no condition to defend Brady's aerial assault, especially considering the emergence of Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, and the addition of Antonio Brown to join Julian Edelman.

In Brady's last trip to Miami, he threw for 358 yards with three scores and no interceptions.

2. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders vs. Chiefs

One of the highlights of Jacobs' debut was a goal line leap into the end zone -- his first of two red-zone rushing touchdowns. Jacobs is the type of back who can be used in all situations, and if he can put on the kind of display he did against Vic Fangio's Broncos, he can make hay against the Chiefs. Leonard Fournette averaged over 5 yards against them and totaled 94 yards rushing and receiving.

Jacobs will probably top 100 scrimmage yards against the defense that allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs and doesn't look that much improved.

3. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions vs. Chargers

The Lions can't stick with one ball carrier long enough for him to find a rhythm. Just can't do it. Fortunately, Johnson get plenty of touches as a receiver, where the Chargers ranked second in yards allowed to running backs. He probably won't put up the kind of numbers Marlon Mack did on Sunday, but Matt Patricia, please give him a chance.

4. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts at Titans

This prediction could look really foolish if the Colts' new and improved offensive line fares no better against Tennessee's rush than the Browns' line did. But here's guessing they do, at least well enough for Hilton to run past Malcolm Butler or whoever the Titans throw against him. Hilton should see plenty of volume, too, with Devin Funchess on injured reserve.

5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns at Jets

Beckham's fantasy managers had to be a little worried about his lackluster showing against the Titans. But Tennessee is tougher than they get credit for. The Jets have been vulnerable to big plays from wide receivers and could be just what Beckham and Baker Mayfield need to build on their connection.

6. Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens vs. Cardinals

Andrews has had receptions at least 20 yards or longer in seven of his last 17 regular-season games, so he can amass yardage in chunks. Against the Dolphins, he hauled in all eight targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals were formidable against tight ends last season but let T.J. Hockenson set a rookie debut record with 131 yards.

7. Ka'imi Fairbairn, K, Texans vs. Jaguars

The Jaguars have a top-notch secondary to go with a strong pass rush, so you could see a lot of Texans drives stalling in field goal range.

8. Saints defense at Rams

The Saints popped off the screen with six sacks against the Texans, but they still gave up 28 points. Guaranteed, Jared Goff won't hold the ball as long as Deshaun Watson does.

Sit

1. Joe Flacco, QB, Broncos vs. Bears

The Raiders are improved but you get the feeling Flacco should've done more with his opportunities. His receivers -- outside of Emmanuel Sanders -- still seem green, and you'd expect the Bears defense to be keyed up for a game against their former coordinator, Vic Fangio.

2. David Montgomery, RB, Bears at Broncos

Eventually Montgomery will be a viable flex option, just not likely this week. Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledged that he didn't call enough rushing plays, but he still plans to ease in Montgomery. "The hard part is ... a rookie coming in and learning, there's a lot of intricacies to our offense, with rules and assignments. Not just with running the ball, but in pass protection and running routes," Nagy said.

The Broncos might not have shown it Monday night against Josh Jacobs, but they have a run defense to be reckoned with.

3. Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins vs. Patriots

 

It's hard to imagine a worse scenario for Drake: Not much of a passing game to keep an aggressive Patriots front seven off your heels and backup Kalen Ballage breathing down your neck.

4. Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals vs. 49ers

With every game it becomes evident that Boyd is a WR2 (at best), so A.J. Green's absence is more of a detriment than a benefit. San Francisco's also is fairly solid at cornerback.

5. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers at Panthers

This is less about Godwin and more about his turnover-prone quarterback, Jameis Winston, who looks like a shaky proposition on a short week on the road against a stout division rival. Godwin is the type of flex play you make when the conditions are in your favor.

6. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers

Henry's going to have to prove he's more than just potential. Facing the Lions in Detroit is not the time to risk it. Back off until further notice.

7. Dan Bailey, K, Vikings at Packers

It's often tricky trusting kickers at Lambeau Field (even the Packers' Mason Crosby) and Bailey just hasn't gotten many field goal opportunities since arriving in Minnesota. He had four point-after kicks last week and had his second career lowest average (7 fantasy points, per CBS Sports) last year.

8. Redskins defense vs. Cowboys

They're are feisty bunch against division rivals -- give them that much -- but as we witnessed in the second half against the Eagles, pluck only takes you so far.

Sleepers

1. Josh Allen, QB, Bills

The Giants' anemic pass rush resurfaced against the Cowboys. It's an area New York has tried to revamp but perhaps they're not quite there yet (and it's not like the secondary can pick up the slack). All the better for Allen, who could try to gash the Giants with big connections to John Brown and company as Dak Prescott did with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb.

2. Matt Breida, RB, 49ers at Bengals

Tevin Coleman's high ankle sprain pretty much clears the deck for Breida, who just has to worry about the outside chance of Raheem Mostert stealing his thunder. Breida had at least three catches in four of his last five games of 2018. The Bengals have been friendly to running backs, but they've been generous to pass-catching running backs (a fourth-most 901 yards and six touchdown receptions).

3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Chiefs at Raiders

Adrian Peterson (34) has taught us: Don't underestimate a talented back just because of age. The 31-year-old McCoy, familiar with an Andy Reid offense, outperformed Damien Williams by rushing for 81 yards on 10 carries (Williams' 13 produced just 26 yards). Williams got the majority of red-zone looks but he's no lock in that area.

Regardless, Kansas City's offense is potent enough to sustain two running backs. And both Broncos Lindsay Phillips and Royce Freeman flashed against the Raiders.

4. Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons vs. Eagles

In a game Matt Ryan made sloppy, uncharacteristic mistakes, he still found Ridley four times for 64 yards and a score. Ridley should have an even bigger game against an Eagles secondary that was victimized for big gains by Redskins pass catchers.

5. Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams vs. Saints

Kupp received a whopping 10 targets, and though he didn't produce much yardage, it's an encouraging sign he'll return to form soon. Kupp may also benefit by not being the Rams receiver who draws Marshon Lattimore in coverage.

6. Darren Waller, TE, Raiders vs. Chiefs

What you might have missed during the Tyrell Williams Show was that Waller lived up to preseason expectations (as much as you can tell from one week) catching seven of eight targets for 70 yards. Don't be fooled by the Chiefs' Week 1 showing, the Jaguars have rarely been strong at tight end. Kansas City was last season's most generous defense to the position.

7. Brett Maher, K, Cowboys at Redskins

Maher was held to five point-after attempts, but it's a lot to ask the Cowboys offense to repeat a five-touchdown performance. Could they really be that efficient?

8. Texans defense vs. Jaguars

It might seem odd to recommend them after they wasted Watson's fourth-quarter comeback, but that game was a dogfight in New Orleans. The Texans return to Houston to face rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew making his first start.

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