Assembling a championship-winning fantasy football roster in the draft is only half the battle. Now, knowing which of your players to start and who to sits on a weekly basis is the best way fantasy football managers can improve their winning odds.
Here are some undervalued players to consider starting and others to sit in Week 2 of the 2021 season.
Jameis Winston (QB) New Orleans Saints
We have seen Winston be an elite Fantasy option in the past so there is no reason to believe his Week 1 onslaught of the Green Bay Packers can’t be repeated. Well, maybe not a beat down to that extent with such efficiency, but huge production from Jameis seems closer to a probability than an outlier at this point. On just 20 attempts, he threw for 148 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite these eye-popping numbers there may have been two even more important factors. Taysom Hill was essentially a nonfactor and Winston did not turn the ball over. This game was a massive step for Fantasy owners in having confidence in his job security and full control of the offense. If you grabbed him late, you may have stolen a potential QB1, we already know the upside is there.
Kareem Hunt (RB) Cleveland Browns
In most leagues, Hunt was drafted as an RB3/FLEX option, but he’s got a good shot at producing RB2 or better numbers in Week 2. Hunt was in on 28 snaps for Cleveland in Week 1, just three fewer than Nick Chubb. Always a red-zone threat, Hunt rushed for a score against Kansas City and snagged all three of his targets.
This week, the Browns are 12.5-point home favorites against Houston. This should set up for plenty of favorable game scripts for both Nick Chubb and Hunt, who roasted the Texans for 132 total yards the last time he faced them. Fire up both Browns’ backs in this excellent matchup.
Melvin Gordon (RB) Denver Broncos
Javonte Williams saw 14 carries to Melvin Gordon’s 11 last week, but that’s not something to be overly concerned about. Don’t get me wrong, this is going to be a committee, nonetheless, Gordon is the starter and leader of the committee, last week’s game just never felt overly competitive and the team leaned on the younger back in the second half. I’d expect the carries to generally be flipped most weeks with Gordon also getting the majority of the passing work.
Week 1 Gordon rushed for 101 yards, a TD, and caught all three of his targets for 17 yards while Williams rushed for 45 yards and lost four yards on his only target. This week the Broncos go up against the Jaguars who are just atrocious. They barely looked like a football team last week and got blown off the field by the Houston Texans. Both these running backs should go nuts, but Gordon is the top Fantasy back in Denver as of now
Marquez Callaway (WR) New Orleans Saints
Despite an offensive explosion from the Saints Week 1, Callaway had very little impact grabbing just one of his two targets for 14 yards. Low output was always expected from Callaway in the opener going up against a very tough matchup against Packers’ cornerback Jaire Alexander. While two targets may look alarming we have to remember Winston only threw 20 passes and his two targets led all Saints’ wide receivers tied with Deonte Harris.
This week the Carolina Panthers are a much better matchup for wideouts and it’s very unlikely the game script will lead to so few attempts in the passing attack for New Orleans. He was a sit for me Week 1, but I wouldn’t mind flexing him Week 2.
Courtland Sutton (WR) Denver Broncos
With Jerry Jeudy going down and Sutton having a quiet Week 1, most of the talk in Denver has been about Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler. Make no mistake, Sutton is the WR1 in Denver with Jeudy out for about six weeks. Sutton only caught one of his three targets in the opener for 14 yards. Look for a huge uptick in targets this week against a terrible Jacksonville defense.
Sutton was always expected to be eased into the offense, but with Jeudy out there’s no more time for that. He will step up as the top guy in this passing attack and has a great matchup to do so. With a better matchup and a void at WR1, Sutton should be slid into your flex this week.
Jakobi Meyers (WR) New England Patriots
Meyers is the WR1 in New England and should be a weekly start in PPR leagues. He saw nine targets Week 1 and caught six passes for 44 yards. While the numbers aren’t gaudy, he was going up against arguably the best secondary in the NFL in Miami led by cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.
This week he takes on the Jets. The Pats are coming off a loss and are going to beat the breaks off of the Jets. Mac Jones’ passing style is going to be a quick-strike attack. This fits Meyers’ profile perfectly. Look for him to be peppered with targets weekly and him to have a big role in embarrassing the Jets this week.
Juwan Johnson (TE) New Orleans Saints
I spent the majority of this article telling you what you saw last week wasn’t real. Quite the opposite with Johnson. He should only get better. His two TDs were a Fantasy owner’s dream, but his three targets and 21 yards may look this look flukey, especially in such a blowout.
However, I as well as other Fantasy experts that followed the Saints all summer projected a breakout for Johnson and he looks like the better pass-catching tight end for the Saints, particularly in the red zone. With more passes being thrown by Winston I predict he sees more targets and I also believe he will wrestle more targets away from Adam Trautman as the season goes on. He outperformed him all summer and Trautman saw six targets Week 1 and converted just three of them into 18 yards.
Derek Carr (QB) Las Vegas Raiders
After watching Carr throw the ball 56 times for 435 yards and two TDs on national television against the Ravens on Monday Night, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and emotion of what we just watched. However, what you may not have watched on Sunday afternoon was how bad the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense made Josh Allen look. That defense was beating Allen down and made him look a whole lot more like 2019 Josh Allen than the MVP candidate of 2020.
The Bills only scored 16 points as he threw the ball 51 times at just 5.3 yards per attempt for 270 yards, one TD, two fumbles on three sacks, and a QBR of 40.7. Carr is a fine streaming option this season and a legitimate QB2 option in Superflex leagues, but he’s no Josh Allen and I want no parts of this Steelers defense right now. Leave him on your bench.
Mark Ingram (RB) Houston Texans
Ingram was a big surprise in the opener, but a lot of that had to do with a run-heavy second-half playbook as the Texans tried to close out a surprising win. This was simply the perfect storm against an embarrassment of an opponent. The fact that it took 26 carries to get 85 yards should be more alarming than the touches are encouraging.
Houston faces the Browns this week and they will not immediately be blowing them out and looking to just pound the ball up the middle over and over. That probably won’t happen again all year. I suggest you don’t start any Texans’ back, but if you had to, David Johnson is most likely your best bet since he’s the pass-catching back and this team will be trailing in Cleveland.
Mike Davis (RB) Atlanta Falcons
This backfield is going to be extremely frustrating this season. Beyond none of the backs being good and running behind a porous offensive line, the every-down back narrative surrounding Davis is looking like it may have been a mirage as well. Davis did lead the backfield with 15 carries and six targets which he took for 49 rushing yards and three receptions for 23 yards. Unfortunately, both Cordarrelle Patterson and Keith Smith were also worked in. On seven carries Patterson led the team with 54 rushing yards and caught two passes. Davis carried the ball twice and caught all three of his targets.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR) San Francisco 49ers
I don’t know what’s going on here and it doesn’t seem like anyone else does either. Aiyuk played just 26 snaps Week 1 and saw zero targets after a huge fantasy finish last year during the back half of the season and glowing reports all summer. Coaches say he needs to learn to be a professional. Beat writers are backtracking saying he tailed off late in camp. And rumors are swirling that he may have missed curfew, which seems to be unsubstantiated. Don’t cut him, but you just can’t start Aiyuk until we find out what’s going on.
Christian Kirk (WR) Arizona Cardinals
Kirk had a big Week 1 catching five passes for 70 yards and two TDs. The numbers look incredible but we’ve seen this before from Kirk. We’ve seen him have multi-touchdown games in the past and he just can’t string anything together. This is an outlier game so don’t chase the points. If you plug him in your flex hoping for a repeat performance you will be disappointed like everyone who has done the same in past seasons. He’s a bottom-of-the-bench player and nothing more until he proves he can be a consistent contributor.
Kyle Pitts (TE) Atlanta Falcons
Pitts disappointed many Week 1 catching four passes for 31 yards. That’s the Fantasy owner’s fault for having such high expectations for a rookie tight end. He was never going to live up to the expectations of his ADP. Nevertheless, he saw eight targets, which is encouraging, and did about what he should have been expected to do.
Pitts is going to be a star, but if you were hoping he’d be a world-beater this season, you’re in for a long year. That’s not to say he’s not a viable starter, however, I would look elsewhere against the Bucs this week. Calvin Ridley is the only Atlanta skill-position player I’d be willing to play this week against Tampa Bay and even with him, I’d temper expectations.
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