After an exciting opening weekend of NFL action, Week 2 arrives to show us a clearer picture of who’s real and who’s a flash in the pan. Opening week was a time for optimism in the fantasy football community. Week 2 is go time for half of the fantasy world as they hope to avoid a tough 0-2 start.
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):
Teddy Bridgewater (QB - DEN)
Bridgewater looked quite sharp in his debut as the Broncos’ starting quarterback in Week 1, finishing north of 20 fantasy points as a top-15 player at the position. He’s got a juicy matchup on tap this week against a Jaguars defense that, quite frankly, looked awful in Week 1 and allowed 23.64 points to Tyrod Taylor. Dating back to the start of last season, Jacksonville has allowed quarterbacks to score 15% more fantasy points per game (FPPG) than league average. The loss of Jerry Jeudy hurts, but between Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, and Denver’s top-two running backs, Bridgewater has plenty to work with and should finish as a top-15 passer again.
OwnersBox Price: $5800
Mac Jones (QB - NE)
Jones had a better real-life regular-season debut than a fantasy one (15.24 points, 23rd among quarterbacks), but he’s poised to be more productive this week. Call it a hunch that this plays in Jones’ favor, but we all know how much disdain Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has for the Jets as a franchise—he’ll take any and every opportunity to bury them. With Jones’ sea legs under him facing a defense allowing 18.2% more FPPG to quarterbacks than league average over the last 17 games, I expect the rookie to take a big step forward in his fantasy production. I also expect New England to be more aggressive in general with their passer against a team that doesn’t have a defense anywhere near the caliber of Miami’s.
OwnersBox Price: $5600
Deep Sleeper: Tyrod Taylor (QB - HOU)
Jamaal Williams (RB - DET)
Williams was tied with Joe Mixon as fantasy’s No. 2 running back last week. Yep, you read that right. While his 25-point performance was a fluke—he’s not Christian McCaffrey—Williams should continue to be a productive player throughout the fantasy season. He’s firmly in flex consideration until further notice, as the Lions will be digging out of plenty of holes late in games and leading on Williams and D’Andre Swift in the receiving game. Fully expecting Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to put on an offensive display on Monday Night Football, the Lions could be forced to play the same way they did in the fourth quarter against San Francisco. Green Bay has been a favorable matchup for fantasy running backs dating back to last season, too. Williams is a borderline top-30 running back for Week 2.
OwnersBox Price: $4900
Nyheim Hines (RB - IND)
Hines continues to be one of the most underrated running backs in fantasy. His top-20 finish last week was no fluke—remember, he was a top-30 running back last season even after Jonathan Taylor took over the lead role. While the Rams aren’t a good matchup for rushers in general (despite what David Montgomery did last Sunday night), they have allowed running backs to average 8.96 FPPG just in the receiving game over the last 19 games (including playoffs). Hines led all Colts in targets (8) and tied for the lead in receptions (6) in Week 1. Expect the lack of outside talent on the Colts’ offense to lead to heavy running back involvement yet again.
OwnersBox Price: $4800
James White (RB - NE)
It’s nice to see White back up to his old tricks. Replacing Cam Newton with Jones has opened up White’s old role as a highly productive pass-catching back. White tied Jakobi Meyers for the team lead in receptions (6) and tied for second in targets (7), finishing the opening week in RB2 territory. The Jets present a juicy matchup as well, as they’ve allowed running backs to average 11.98 fantasy points per week just in the receiving game since the start of the 2020 season. It also helps that White was essentially the only Patriots running back that didn’t fumble last week. I expect another double-digit fantasy performance from White in Week 2.
OwnersBox Price: $4400
Deep Sleeper: Trey Sermon (RB - SF)
Cole Beasley (WR - BUF)
Beasley always seems to find a way to hang around the WR3 conversation in PPR formats. While there’s nothing flashy about his game, he’s consistently peppered with targets from Josh Allen—he had 13 in Week 1. You could do a whole lot worse than Beasley in your WR3 or second flex spot. Plus, attacking Miami from the slot will give Beasley the best WR-CB matchup for Buffalo throughout the game. I would not be surprised to see double-digit targets heading Beasley’s way this week.
OwnersBox Price: $4600
Anthony Schwartz (WR - CLE)
OK, you have my attention, rookie. With Odell Beckham Jr. out last week, Schwartz received the third-most snaps among Browns wide receivers. He tied for the team lead in targets (5) and even had a 17-yard rush. Schwartz brings a blazing speed element that’s otherwise lacking in Cleveland’s receiving corps. With Beckham Jr. out again this week and facing a Texans secondary allowing wide receivers to score 8.3% more FPPG than league average, Schwartz has a golden opportunity to get that one big play that can make his fantasy day.
OwnersBox Price: $3400
Tim Patrick (WR - DEN)
Patrick was a favorite of mine in this column last season and makes his first appearance in this space this year—and for an eerily similar reason. Patrick needed an early-season injury in front of him to be fantasy-relevant, and last year, Courtland Sutton suffered a torn ACL in Week 2. From that point forward, Patrick averaged 11.53 FPPG. This year, Jerry Jeudy suffered an ankle sprain in Week 1, which pushed Patrick up the depth chart. Patrick scored 13.9 fantasy points last week and gets a favorable matchup against the Jaguars—a team that’s allowed fantasy wide receivers to score 3.3% above average over the last 17 games—this week. Patrick was productive when elevated due to injury last year and should be able to replicate that success in the same scenario this season.
OwnersBox Price: $3700
Deep Sleeper: KJ Hamler (WR - DEN)
Jared Cook (TE - LAC)
Look at old man Jared Cook turning in a double-digit performance in Week 1! Cook showed immediate chemistry with quarterback Justin Herbert, catching five of his eight targets for 56 yards in his Chargers debut. While he’s not Hunter Henry, he does figure to be a key component of Los Angeles’ passing game moving forward. While Dallas isn’t a particularly strong matchup for tight ends—partly because teams just attack the Cowboys’ corners with their top wide receivers—Rob Gronkowski torched them in the season opener. Cook should be plenty involved in the Chargers’ game plan and is a borderline TE1 this week.
OwnersBox Price: $4100
Cole Kmet (TE - CHI)
Kmet continues to progress into the player the Bears hoped for when they took him with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In the opener against a stout Rams defense, Kmet tied for second on the team in targets (7), catching five of them for 42 yards. He has a much more favorable matchup this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed tight ends to score 14.8% more FPPG than league average since the start of last season. If you’re looking for a cheap WFS/DFS option or a waiver-wire dart throw, Kmet should be on your radar.
OwnersBox Price: $3700
Deep Sleeper: Tyler Conklin (TE - MIN)
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