Punch Drunk Wonderland

Week 2 Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

After a down starter week to the season it’s time to dive into Week 2 of the 2017 season. Each week we will be taking a look at some players with favorable matchups that are start-worthy and others with not-so-favorable matchups that you should keep on the bench. This week’s start/sit advice comes courtesy of our friends at numberFire. If you are a daily fantasy player, some of these starts could be great values. Be sure to check back often for updated player rankings and weekly waiver wire targets.

If you have Sit/Start questions, try out the Sit/Start Tool and/or My Playbook, contact me, or hit up @PDWonderland on Twitter.


Start Carson Palmer (at Indianapolis): It’s going to feel uncomfortable, but Carson Palmer is in another good spot in Week 2. And it’s a better matchup than what he saw last week.

The Colts were torched by Jared Goff in LA this past Sunday, as he threw for 306 yards on just 29 attempts. After averaging 5.31 yards per attempt during his rookie year, that bump to 10.55 in Week 1 looked pret-tay nice. 

One of the ways Goff was able to dissect the defense was through the deep ball, something he didn’t utilize much during his rookie year. He went 5 for 6 for 136 yards and a score on balls that travelled 15 or more yards through the air, giving him a perfect quarterback rating on those tosses.

Meanwhile, Bruce Arians’ offense (Carson Palmer’s offense) is all about chucking it deep. Last year, Palmer ranked 10th among relevant quarterbacks in percentage of pass attempts that travelled 15-plus air yards, and in 2015, he ranked first.

All of this is going to be enabled by Vontae Davis being sidelined. He missed Week 1 with a groin injury, and it sounds like it’s a significant one. If he’s out again in Week 2, Palmer could eat.

Sit Jay Cutler (at Los Angeles): You may look at Cutler’s matchup this week and think it’s a good one. After all, Trevor Siemian just lit up the Chargers‘ D with almost 23 standard fantasy points on Monday night.

Siemian also needed a rushing touchdown to get there, though. The truth is, this Los Angeles (it still feels weird to type that) secondary is one of the better ones in football with two cornerbacks — Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward — who can shut down opposing wideouts. It was a top-10 defense last season, according to our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, and that was without Verrett for most of the year. Again, this didn’t exactly show in Week 1, but that’s why we shouldn’t overreact.

The Dolphins will be on the road in this one, and they have a bottom-half Vegas implied team total on the week. Cutler’s a very risky start.

Start Sam Bradford (deeper play, at Pittsburgh): Against New Orleans Saints on Monday night, Bradford was able to complete 8 of 9 deep targets for over 200 yards and a score. He ended the week with the league’s highest passing yardage total on those types of throws, having thrown it deep roughly four more times in Week 1 than he averaged all of last year.

Bradford’s not a bad deep ball thrower — he ranked sixth in completion percentage on passes that travelled 15 or more yards down the field last year. He just didn’t do it very often, mostly because the Vikings‘ offensive line has been a mess for over a year. That was negated in Week 1 because of a matchup against a subpar Saints defense that had just two quarterback hits.

The Steelers are much different. Though the matchup was easier for them in Week 1, Pittsburgh ended their game against Cleveland with eight quarterback hits, the fifth-most in the NFL. They’ll pressure Bradford more than he saw against New Orleans, which could limit his upside.With that being said, Bradford still makes for an OK-enough streaming play. He looked nearly flawless with any sort of time in the pocket on Monday night, and the Steeler secondary was porous at times against rookie DeShone Kizer in Week 1.

So Bradford comes with risk, but if the Vikings click like they did in Week 1, the reward is still there for quarterback streamers.

Sit Matthew Stafford (at New York): Stafford posted a great performance in Week 1 despite a tough matchup. But he was also at home where he’s scored roughly three more fantasy points per game versus on the road over the last three years.

The Giants secondary didn’t have their best game last Sunday night, but it’s still a talented group. Vegas seems to think so, as well, as this week’s contest currently sits with a 43.5-point over/under with the G-Men as four-point favorites. It could, overall, end up being a low-scoring game in New York on Monday night, and I wouldn’t want to trot out Stafford as a result.

Other quarterbacks to start: Alex Smith (vs. Philadelphia), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Minnesota)
Other quarterbacks to sit: Dak Prescott (at Denver), Andy Dalton (vs. Houston)

Running Back

Start Terrance West (vs. Cleveland): Though Buck Allen outsnapped West against the Bengals in Week 1, we have to believe a lot of it had to do with the fact that the game was out of hand and the Ravens wanted to keep their starting running back fresh. Allen will still be involved a good bit in Week 2, but West is going to get the start and more than likely see work at the goal line — he was the only Baltimore back who saw an attempt within the Cincinnati five-yard line last week. Against Cleveland, as 7.5-point favorites, West and the Ravens should have plenty of opportunity to pound the rock in Week 2.

Sit Ameer Abdullah (at New York): As noted with Stafford above, scoring opportunities may be limited for the Lions this week. And even if they weren’t, I’m not sure how confident Abdullah owners should be feeling today. He played 51% of the team’s snaps in Week 1 (27th-highest at the running back position), and while he saw a goal-line carry with Zach Zenner inactive, teammate Dwayne Washington had as many carries (two) as Abdullah from within the opponent’s 10-yard line.

And if this indeed ends up being a negative game script for Detroit like Vegas thinks it will, we may see more Theo Riddick on the field this week instead of Abdullah. That’s on top of the fact that — again, ignore Week 1 here because of matchup — New York had one of the best run defenses in the league last season.

Start James White (at New Orleans): Anytime there’s a big Vegas game total on the board — like this week between the Saints and the Patriots— you should do your best to get players on those teams into your lineup. Especially when that game is being played in the Superdome, the Coors Field of the NFL.

White’s intriguing not just because he’ll be playing in that high-scoring game, but he may be playing a lot in it. In Week 1, he played 53% of New England’s snaps, which led the team. And his usage was great — he carried the ball 10 times and saw 5 targets through the air. It was the first NFL game in which White saw double-digit carries. Ever. (His previous career high was seven.)

Even though we generally want to target White in possible negative game scripts due to his pass-catching ability, it’s important to note that none of his carries occurred in the fourth quarter in Week 1. So that’s 10 carries in three quarters. If he sees that kind of workload against the Saints, he could put together a nice day.

Sit Rob Kelley (at Los Angeles): Just 3 of Rob Kelley’s 10 rushes from Week 1 were deemed a success, according to our expected points model, which is certainly below average for a running back. He played 52% of the team’s snaps against the Eagles last week — not a hugely worthwhile number for an early-down back — saw just one target, and tallied a mere 30 yards on the ground. Not great.

The Rams are expecting Aaron Donald back in this Week 2 tilt against Washington, making this an even more difficult matchup for Kelley than originally thought. Given his Week 1 performance alone, to be honest, I’m not sure you can be all that confident in him — he’ll basically have to score a touchdown to be a valuable start. And I wouldn’t want to bank on that after he ended last week without a goal-line touch.

Start Alvin Kamara (vs. New England): One of the more shocking things that happened in Week 1 — at least from a fantasy standpoint — was Alvin Kamara’s usage for New Orleans. He led the Saints’ backfield in snaps, getting the ball seven times on the ground with another six targets through the air. A huge red flag with Kamara entering the NFL was his lack of usage on the ground, as he averaged only 9.36 carries per game during his final season at Tennessee. We normally don’t see successful NFL running backs who didn’t carry a large workload in college, so to see him get seven Week 1 attempts was a big surprise.

He landed in the perfect spot for his skillset, though, and the passing game volume is absolutely noteworthy. That’s definitely true this week. The Saints, who always score points at home (they averaged 31 points per game in New Orleans last year), are, as I noted earlier, 6.5-point underdogs to New England. That negative game script could force the pass-catching Kamara on the field for another hefty snap count. If that happens, he’ll more than likely end up as a viable PPR asset in fantasy this week.

Other running backs to start: Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. Chicago), Javorius Allen (deeper play, vs. Cleveland)
Other running backs to sit: Joe Mixon (vs. Houston), Matt Forte (at Oakland)

Wide Receiver

Start John Brown (at Indianapolis): Brown played a solid 84% of Arizona‘s snaps in Week 1 against the Lions, but fantasy owners may be a little upset that he only finished with 4 catches for 44 yards. The good news is that he saw nine targets, accounting for nearly 20% of the team’s looks in the game. And, according to Kevin Cole’s expected fantasy points model that uses air yards to help determine how many fantasy points a player should’ve had, Brown simply underperformed based on his usage in Week 1 — his expected total was 17.5 points, but he scored a little more than 7. That difference was the third-highest at wide receiver this past week.

That doesn’t simply mean he was bad. It means regression could hit. And that could very well happen here in Week 2 against the aforementioned Colts’ secondary, which looks like a college unit without Vontae Davis.

Sit T.Y. Hilton (vs. Arizona): Let’s just forget about the matchup and the fact that Arizona’s secondary is a top-half one in football. Hilton himself — with Jacoby Brissett or Scott Tolzien or any other non-Andrew Luck quarterback they try to throw under center in Indy — is really, really hard to rely on right now. He finished Week 1 with 7 targets but caught just 3 of them for 57 yards. He also got 32 of those yards on one reception. That’s fine, I guess (it’s actually not), but where’s the upside? The Colts are at home with one of the worst implied team totals of the week (lack of scoring), the matchup isn’t great (lack of targets), and they have no quarterback (lack of good throws). Bench Hilton until we get Luck under center once again.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


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