Weeks one and two for Fantasy Football have been head scratching to say the least. Le’Veon Bell was a running back two in 1/2 point per reception leagues. Trevor Siemian is the overall quarter back two. AJ Green is the wide receiver 27 in 1/2 ppr leagues due to the Cincinnati Bengals lacking the ability to score a touchdown.
It has been crazy.
Despite the confusion, weeks one and two taught fantasy owners a lot about their players. The third week is a pivotal week to make decisions on players and whether they are legit or not.
Here are my favorite (non obvious) plays at every position this week, excluding last night’s Rams/49ers game of course. If these players are on your team, do not think twice, start them with confidence.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Stafford has been tremendous so far this season. The offense in Detroit runs through him, as they have not posted a 100 yard rusher since 2013. Stafford himself may be their best running option, last week against the New York Giants he had three chain-moving scrambles for 23 yards.
Stafford goes up against the Atlanta Falcons in Detroit. The Falcons, while they limited the Bears passing attack week one, struggled to contain Aaron Rodgers (as many defenses do) in week two. The only interception they have this year came off an unusual Rodgers overthrow. The Falcons’ pass defense has flaws, and Rodgers proved that by attacking in the flats and with slants. A 20+ yard pass to Ty Montgomery came off a flat route, and an 18 yard touchdown to DaVante Adams came off a slant.
The Lions’ preferred plan of attack typically is the intermediate routes, which Stafford and his number one receiver, Golden Tate, thrive on. Tate had 84% of his targets in the short or mid range in 2016. Expect Stafford to expose the middle of Atlanta’s defense with Tate and running back Theo Riddick, who make their living on short or intermediate routes.
Disclaimer: Running backs and receivers will be thought of as in a 1/2 point per reception format, so heavier volumes of receptions help, but are not the end-all be-all.
Mike Gillislee, Patriots: Gillislee thrived in his week one match up with Kansas City, scoring at the one yard line three times. He clearly is a play whenever the Patriots are favored in games and need to run the clock out at the end of the game. Sound familiar? That is because LeGarrette Blount had the exact same role last season.
Blount only scored 18 touchdowns last year. No big deal.
After two games it is obvious Gillislee is in the “Blount Role” for New England. In the Patriots week two match up against the Saints, Gillislee had seven of his 18 carries in the fourth quarter. In a home match up against the Houston Texans, who have struggled offensively, expect this trend to continue.
Start Mike Gillislee with confidence, and thank me later when he scores one or two short touchdown and gets half his carries and yards in garbage time. After all, it doesn’t matter how you got the points, only that you got them.
Terrelle Pryor, Redskins: Pryor has struggled so far this season, only registering eight catches for 97 yards in his first two games. That is not a representation of his performance however. The whole Washington offense has struggled, and a home game against the Raiders is just what the team needs.
Oakland has a fantastic offense, and an average defense. Without Jordan Reed at full strength, Terrelle Pryor is the number one red zone threat in this game for Washington. This shootout between two talented offenses should yield many targets for Pryor, as well as plenty of scoring chances.
Terrelle Pryor is a talented receiver with a quality quarterback. Do not overreact to two bad weeks and bench him this week. If he cannot perform for a third straight week in a good match up, then you can panic. Good thing he will not, and is a quality flex play or a wide receiver two in any format.
Austin Hooper, Falcons: In addition to playing with last year’s MVP, Matt Ryan, Hooper has a great match up as well. Essentially “game flowed” out of the Falcon’s game versus Green Bay, he never had a chance. Hooper was unable to get going due to Atlanta getting a big lead and running most of the game, combined with a defensive score as well.
The middle of the Lions’ defense was tested last week when they played against a talented receiving tight end in Evan Engram. Engram went for 4 catches for 49 yards and had a wide open 18 yard touchdown right down the middle of the field. Hooper playing alongside bigger threats such as: Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman means he can fly under the radar and find some openings in coverage.
HOOOOOOOOOOOPER TO THE CRIB.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 10, 2017
Hooper showed his ability to break tackles and create extra yards against Chicago week one (see above video), and against the Lions’ defense he can showcase that once more.
Tight end is a tough position to predict and rely on. It can be very touchdown dependent, but Hooper is a solid play for fantasy owners who do not own an elite tight end.
Philadelphia Eagles: Despite giving up 27 points and not forcing a turnover against the Chiefs, the Eagles face the Giants this week. The Giants have been god-awful in their first two games of the season. Opposing defenses (Cowboys, Lions) have scored 11 and 18 points respectively this season against the Giants.
New York has major offensive line and running back issues. Pass blocking is sub par, as the line has surrendered 8 sacks in the first two games combined. The run game is nonexistent in addition, Paul Perkins is not a starting running back in the NFL. This makes them incredibly one dimensional and even with Odell Beckham Jr., this team will struggle.
Expect the Eagles defense, which forced four turnovers in week one and scored a touchdown, to rebound and be a top 3 fantasy defense.
Does it even matter?: Flip a coin, kickers are so random it is not even funny. Maybe pick based on whose name you like the most, or who has the funniest picture on ESPN’s database. Kickers suck. The “G.O.A.T” kicker, Steven Gostkowski, even misses extra points. Get rid of kickers in Fantasy Football.
That wraps up Fantasy Friday. I hope you all have a successful weekend, and remember; Fantasy makes just about zero sense and is impossible to predict, try not to get too mad if you lose. If you do take an “L”, just remember, it could be worse. You could be a Jets fan.