Joe Burrow (at CLE) **Thursday**
Cleveland’s defense was a mere speed bump for the Ravens last week. While the Bengals offense struggled for most of the game, on the last drive they saw shades of LSU Burrow when they played with more tempo. The Browns secondary is decimated and should have a lot of trouble with the talented quintet of receivers the Bengals can roll out there when everyone is healthy. Burrow added a rushing touchdown last week to remind us that he can bolster his fantasy stats with his running ability.
Mitchell Trubisky (vs NYG)
Trubisky’s comeback came against a Lions secondary that was down their top three corners, but the Giants secondary isn’t that great even at full strength. The pass rush didn’t bother Ben Roethlisberger last week and the Giants were soft against the run too. Trubisky can also add value as a runner. It should be a more successful day for the Bears offense overall, giving Trubisky a chance to build on the confidence gained in the fourth quarter.
Philip Rivers (vs MIN)
Rivers flaws will be remembered more than his successes from Week 1, but he did complete 36 passes and rack up 363 passing yards, only one fewer than Aaron Rodgers compiled against the Vikings pass defense last week. It’s possible that the Vikings will be one of the worst pass defenses in the league until Danielle Hunter returns or their new cornerback group settles down. Rivers has an impressive array of weapons in the passing game, including his running backs, and they should be full display against the Vikings.
Tyrod Taylor (vs KC)
Taylor is a deep sleeper this week, but unless the Chargers keep their track record of holding down Patrick Mahomes II going, their quarterback will have to pass more and likely run more to keep up with the Chiefs. Deshaun Watson was barely effective for most of the game but ended up notching solid fantasy numbers during garbage time against the Chiefs last week.
We will see this week if Brian Daboll has become a new gameplan every week to fit the opponent kind of offensive coordinator. Last week, he barely challenged the Jets run defense in the first half and let Josh cook in the passing game. This week, the Bills strength on offense at outside wide receiver will be nullified by the Dolphins elite outside corner duo, so the passing game could focus on the backs, tight end, and slot receiver, with the Bills reprising the Patriots successful Week 1 strategy of running the ball more than twice as often as they passed. The Dolphins allowed three scores on the ground, making both Moss and Singletary worth more consideration this week after a quiet Week 1.
Ronald Jones II (vs CAR)
Jones was clearly the back with more initial burst and juice in his cuts against the Saints Week 1. Bruce Arians might have plans to play Leonard Fournette more in upcoming weeks, but that should just show that since the Bucs lack a dominant power blocking offensive line, Jones will easily be the better back for this offense. If Jones gets the majority of the backfield touches against a Panthers defense that allowed three walk-in scores for Josh Jacobs, he could end up being the best value play of the week.
Antonio Gibson (at ARI)
The Washington staff wants Gibson to earn their confidence before they give him more touches, especially at the goal line. It has to be apparent to them just how much more Gibson has to offer than Peyton Barber, so it’s up to Gibson to earn that trust. If he does in practice this week, or even if Washington just calls more passes to him against a Cardinals defense that allowed a long catch-and-run score to Raheem Mostert last week, then he will reward fantasy players who take a chance on him.
D'Andre Swift (at GB)
Swift was one easy dropped pass from a two-touchdown week that would have made him the toast of fantasy teams and the city of Detroit. It appears that he will the passing-down back for the Lions, which should be enough to give him a large role and extended chance at redemption in a game the Lions are destined to trail for most of against a red hot Aaron Rodgers on the road with a banged up secondary defending the Packers receivers that accounted for four scores last week.
Myles Gaskin (vs BUF)
Gaskin was the best Dolphins back in Week 1 and he was also the back on the field for most of the catch-up mode of the offense. Expect them to be in catch up mode again this week against a Bills team that was humming on offense and stifling on defense against the Jets last week. Gaskin’s ceiling is modest, but you could do worse in deep PPR leagues with so much uncertainty at running back after Week 1.
Parris Campbell (vs MIN)
Campbell’s stat line was good, but a little disappointing considering that Philip Rivers threw the ball 46 times. He should be even better this week against a Vikings secondary that gave up big play after big play to the Packers receivers last week. We are probably witnessing a changing of the guard from TY Hilton to Parris Campbell and it could be resounding this week against the woeful Vikings secondary.
Scott Miller (vs CAR)
Miller should get to start in place of Chris Godwin because Godwin is in concussion protocol and wasn’t placed in it until Wednesday. He was fantasy relevant last week with Godwin and Mike Evans on the field, and he’s facing a much weaker secondary. Tom Brady used Miller as a good run after catch target and he should find a lot of room to run against the Panthers this week.
The Jets secondary was abysmal last week and the pass rush didn’t do them any favors. Jimmy Garoppolo should have a lot more time and space to operate against the Jets and both Bourne and Aiyuk - who should be ready to play this week after recovering from a camp hamstring injury - will have chances to put up big plays in what should be a walk in the park for the 49ers.
Preston Williams (vs BUF)
Williams is actually a better play this week since DeVante Parker appears to be healthy enough to take the field against the Bills this week. After a nondescript return to action following his season-ending ACL tear during his breakout game last year, Williams should be primed for a big week as long as Bills shutdown corner Tre’Davious White covers Parker this week.
Anthony Miller (vs NYG)
Miller wasn’t even close to a full-time player last week, with Ted Ginn Jr getting more snaps and Darnell Mooney and Javon Wims getting almost as much action as Miller, but he still caught the game-winning score. Rational coaching would dictate that Miller gets a lot more work this week against a Giants secondary that had no answers for the Steelers talented wide receiver group last week.
The Lions secondary saw Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant get banged up last week and #3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah missed Week 1. They draw a red hot Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau, which is no time to be coming in anything but full strength at cornerback. Valdes-Scantling had a long score last week and Lazard followed a long reception with a short score. Both are decent bets to do it again this week.
John Ross (at CLE) **Thursday**
Ross actually led the Bengals receivers in snaps last week and he just barely missed a score as he and Joe Burrow work out their deep ball chemistry. This week he’ll face an overmatched Browns secondary and should have a chance to get free behind them at least once. If you’re looking for a longshot big-play producer this week, Ross is your man.
Jordan Akins (vs BAL)
Akins was one of the best targets on the field for Deshaun Watson last week, breaking three tackles on one reception and scoring on the other. It would make sense that he would be a big part of the game plan this week because the strength of the Ravens defense is their corners, but Bill O’Brien doesn’t always make sense.
Eric Ebron (vs DEN)
Ebron’s Week 1 was a letdown, but the Giants seemed to pay more attention to him in coverage than maybe they should have considering how often Steelers wide receivers ran free in their secondary. The Broncos are notoriously poor against tight ends and gave up a nice game to Jonnu Smith last week so Ebron could bounce back.
O.J. Howard (vs CAR)
Howard scored last week on a perfect play design that left him wide open in the end zone and he looked way more viable than the ghost of Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. With Chris Godwin trending towards out, there should be a few targets shaken free in the Bucs pass offense against a Panthers defense that gave up 34 points last week. Expect a bounce-back performance by the whole Bucs offense that Howard could be a big part of.
Jordan Reed (at NYJ)
Reed might have a momentary return to glory against the Jets on Sunday if the team decides to let George Kittle rest his injured knee. Reed is healthy and he might be one of the most viable targets in an offense that is already missing its #1 receiver. The Jets allowed tight end Dawson Knox to get free in the end zone last week, but Josh Allen missed him.
C.J. Uzomah (at CLE) **Thursday**
Uzomah quietly had a nice game against the Chargers to open the season and he’ll face a Browns defense that allowed two scores to Mark Andrews. Uzomah really got going in the fourth quarter as Joe Burrow found his game, and if that carries over to Thursday night, he could be a favored target against the ragtag Browns linebacker/safety group.