After getting our first taste of NFL action last week, it’s time to either move to 2-0 or make our way into the win column here in Week 2. Since it’s so early in the season, there are no bye weeks and only a handful of injuries to navigate around—although some of those injuries are to big names like Chris Godwin, George Kittle, and Le’Veon Bell. Although some may be tempted to do it, you shouldn’t just start the players you drafted in order, particularly in deeper leagues. Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 2 (please note, all players below are currently starting in fewer than 20% of leagues):
Ben Roethlisberger (QB - PIT)
After finishing as a QB1 last week, Roethlisberger probably shouldn’t be a sneaky start this week but it seems some are reluctant to throw him back into their lineup after a three-touchdown performance on Monday Night Football. After a slow first half, Roethlisberger looked mostly like his old self again against the Giants and now gets an opportunity to play a Broncos team that has to travel across the country on a short week without top corner A.J. Bouye. Pittsburgh’s top receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, will likely be covered by third-round rookie corner Michael Ojemudia. While Ojemudia had a solid debut against A.J. Brown and Co., I think he’ll struggle against Smith-Schuster in this matchup. While I wouldn’t call this a great matchup like the one Roethlisberger had against the Giants, it’s not a bad one, either. Given the matchups and injuries to top weapons other quarterbacks are dealing with this week, Roethlisberger is a top-10 play.
Kirk Cousins (QB - MIN)
Cousins finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback last week despite attempting only five passes in the first half of his team’s game against the Packers. A fourth-quarter surge spiked his numbers, but Cousins has an easier matchup this week to take advantage of. The Colts’ secondary is still having all sorts of problems. After ranking in the bottom half of the league against fantasy quarterbacks last season, Indianapolis allowed Garnder Minshew to throw three touchdowns and complete 95% of his passes in Week 1. I have a feeling this Vikings-Colts game is going to turn into a bit of a shootout with two untrustworthy secondaries. If so, Cousins could have another QB1-worthy fantasy day. He’s my QB16 heading into the week.
Zack Moss (RB - BUF)
While Moss was out-snapped by Devin Singletary in Week 1, the workload on the ground was a 50-50 split with nine carries apiece. The most interesting aspect of that, however, is where those carries took place. Per Mike Tagliere of Fantasy Pros, Moss received three carries from inside the five-yard line in Week 1. Singletary has received two carries from inside the five-yard line in his 13 games in the NFL combined. Considering how Frank Gore was used in Buffalo last season, it’s another clear indication that goal-line work is going to go to someone not named Singletary more often than not. The Dolphins are a great matchup too. They ranked in the bottom 10 last season when it came to defending fantasy running backs and allowed 119 rushing yards to New England running backs in Week 1—that doesn’t even include Cam Newton’s 75 rushing yards or Julian Edelman’s 23-yard carry. Given a very similar look this week against a divisional foe with a running quarterback, Moss should have plenty of opportunities to touch the ball and find the end zone. Moss is my RB30 this week.
James Robinson (RB - JAX)
After a double-digit fantasy point performance last week, Robinson is a bit of a forgotten man this week in a solid matchup against the Titans. Robinson was on the field for 68% of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps in Week 1—with no other back playing even a quarter of the team’s snaps—clearly indicating that he’s the man in this backfield at the moment. The Titans just let the combination of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay run for 4.63 yards per carry against them after being a bottom-half team against fantasy running backs last season. The spread (Titans -8.5) is too large for this game. I believe the Jaguars will keep the game close, which’ll allow them to continue to run the ball deep into the second half. Moss is a top-30 play this week at running back.
Tarik Cohen (RB - CHI)
Cohen slightly out-snapped David Montgomery 30-29 with the Bears fighting from behind, but he wasn’t used too frequently in the passing game, surprisingly. He had just two targets, catching both of them for six yards. I expect a better performance in Week 2 against a weak Giants defense. While Montgomery is the preferred option of the two Chicago backs, I wouldn’t shy away from Cohen after one meh performance. He looked good on the ground, which is a nice bonus, and the Bears may need to keep pace with an exciting, yet turnover-prone Giants offense. Remember, Cohen was targeted 195 times over the previous two seasons. I expect him to be back in that six targets per game range here in Week 2 and be a solid flex option.
Anthony Miller (WR - CHI)
Miller is a helluva player and you need to hop aboard the hype train before all the seats are filled. The strong connection between quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Miller dates back to late last season. From Weeks 11-16, Miller ranked as the WR17 in total points and WR19 in average fantasy points per game. He finished as a top-20 wide receiver again in Week 1 with a 4/76/1 performance against the Lions. The Giants defense just got decimated by Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard and will travel to Chicago on a short week. I expect big games from both Miller and Allen Robinson, with the former ranking as a top-25 play this week.
Russell Gage (WR - ATL)
One of my favorite waiver wire adds in the second half of last season, Gage continues to prove he can thrive in the role vacated by Mohamed Sanu. The Falcons want to throw the ball a ton and they have to because their defense is so poor. That means there will be plenty of looks, even with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley atop the wide receiver depth chart. Gage matched both of those players with 12 targets in Week 1, finishing as the No. 11 WR in fantasy. Atlanta has a good matchup against a depleted Cowboys secondary in Week 2. While I don’t expect Matt Ryan to throw 54 times again, I expect that he’ll reach 40. Last season, Gage ranked as the WR48 with an average of 10.3 fantasy points per game in PPR formats once Sanu was traded, so Week 1 was far from a fluke even if it was the best-case scenario. Gage is a solid flex option in Week 2.
Parris Campbell (WR - IND)
Campbell led all Colts wide receivers in snaps in Week 1 and gets to go up against a questionable secondary carved up by Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 1. He looks healthy and there isn’t a Minnesota corner that can match his speed all game. As mentioned earlier, Vikings-Colts could become a bit of a shootout and Campbell is going to get plenty of big-play shots this week. His floor may be a bit lower than the other two guys on this list, but his ceiling is WR1 territory if things break right. Given the less-than-expected usage of rookie Michael Pittman Jr. in Week 1 and his recently-reported toe injury, things are looking even better for Campbell to get a significant workload.
Logan Thomas (TE - WSH)
Thomas led all Washington players in targets (8) last week as the team’s new top tight end. He caught four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown and gets a matchup against the worst defense in the NFL against fantasy tight ends last season here in Week 2 (Cardinals). I expect Dwayne Haskins to continue to lean on the tight end this week in what should be the best matchup on the field for Washington. Thomas, a former Arizona draft pick at quarterback, is a top-15 play against his former team.
Chris Herndon (TE - NYJ)
I’ll be honest with you, this one is a complete dart throw. But if you’re in a deep league hunting for tight ends, what you’re really in search of is a touchdown. Sam Darnold has played better at home than on the road in his young NFL career, and Herndon has three touchdowns in his last seven home games. He’s averaging 3.7 catches and 47.3 yards per contest in those games as well. So he’s essentially averaging 11 PPR fantasy points per game in his last seven home games. He’s available in 93% of leagues if you’re in a pinch.