In Week 1 fantasy owners got an inkling of what their team is capable of this season, but obviously didn’t get the full picture. The Miami Dolphins looked like they could be the darling defense of the season, New Orleans may have hit a home run with rookie receiver Brandin Cooks, Denver’s Julius Thomas could take Jimmy Graham’s title as the best tight end in the NFL and the entire New York Giant offense looked disheveled.
Those are some of the many first takes owners got from Week 1, but with Week 2 beginning Thursday as Baltimore takes on Pittsburgh, the outlook for this year’s fantasy season will become wider and clearer.
Let’s breakdown some of Week 2’s running backs and wide receivers who could be started and those owners should think about sitting. There are also a few sleepers lurking for owners to monitor before setting their lines up. Remember, always start and sit players at your own discretion.
RBs To Start/Sit
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension makes Bernard Pierce and Forsett the top backs for the Ravens. In Week 1 Forsett looked far better than Pierce, gaining 70 yards and scoring one touchdown on only 11 carries. He also made 5 receptions for 14 yards. Forsett hasn’t taken Pierce’s job just yet, but he has an excellent chance against a Pittsburgh D that let up 183 rushing yards in Week 1. Both sides are facing a shorter week, but Forsett should be fresh. He’s likely you best as your No. 2 running back, but only as a last resort as your flex. Baltimore could opt to keep Forsett fresh, and put in rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who should also be watched by owners.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Darrel Young got the touchdown, but Morris carried the Redskins offense with 91 yards on 14 carries in Week 1’s loss to Houston’s dominate D. In PPR leagues you might have a better option, with Morris totaling only 20 receptions since he entered the league in 2012. But as an every down back against a Jacksonville squad that surrendered 145 rushing yards in its first game, and hasn’t faced him before, Morris is a must start.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Another NFC East back that put the offense on his back in Week 1, Murray could have some trouble against Tennessee this week. With Tony Romo struggling and not looking healthy at all, Murray gained 118 yards and 1 TD against a humming San Francisco D. But the Titans are coming off a crushing 26-10 win over Kansas City, holding the Chiefs to 245 total yards and forcing three turnovers. They also held running back Jamaal Charles to 19 rushing yards, which may be more attributable to head coach Andy Reid’s play calling but that shouldn’t be held against Tennessee.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
The Rams woes at quarterback would typically translate into a bigger workload for Stacy, but owners should be wary. In Week 2 St. Louis hits the road to face a Tampa Bay defense that underachieved in Week 1, and still has top defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson. The Rams were down early and forced to throw against Minnesota in Week 1, which limited Stacy’s carries to only 11. Unless St. Louis finds a better QB soon, it figures to be a problem throughout the season for Stacy owners.
WRs to Start/Sit
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Before he injured a hamstring in the third quarter and was held out for the rest loss to Buffalo in Week 1, Jeffery looked terrific with five receptions for 71 yards, highlighted by a 44-yard reception that set up Chicago’s first touchdown drive. Owners might be wary with Jeffery sitting out practice on Wednesday, and the trip to San Francisco a scary proposition in Week 2. But when it comes time to set your lineup Jeffery should be started. With his size (6-foot-4, 230 lbs.) and speed Jeffery can create space and shake off 49ers defensive backs for a big game.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons offense looked unstoppable in Week 1, which may have more to do with the New Orleans secondary being a major disappointment. But White was very sharp, totaling five catches for 72 yards and 1 TD off seven targets from QB Matt Ryan. The Week 2 matchup against Cincinnati might make owners question White’s placement in the lineup, but the Bengals are limping after their Week 1 win over Baltimore. Key contributors like defensive tackle Geno Atkins (feet), linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) and d-end Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) either sat out practice on Wednesday or were limited. The Bengals might not be able to pressure the passer as much as they usually do, giving Ryan more time to find White.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
This is a very difficult call, considering Cruz has been such a star for the Giants the last three years. But the Giants o-line is providing no coverage for Eli Manning (sacked twice, hit another nine times at Detroit), and the quarterback looked completely out of sync with his receivers in their new offense. Next up is a punishing Arizona defense with top cornerback Patrick Peterson likely to cover Cruz throughout the game. Cruz might come up big for a few catches and 50-plus yards, but there’s more value in starting Houston’s Andre Johnson or Indianapolis’s Reggie Wayne, and maybe putting another running back or tight end in the flex spot.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
Wallace came up big with 7 receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown against a New England secondary that was supposed to terrorize the league. This is a tough call, but Miami takes on a Buffalo squad more than capable of limiting Wallace and forcing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to make some bad throws. Wallace should be a solid play throughout the season, but this figures to be a low scoring game with the defenses being the difference.
Week 2’s Start and Sit:
Start: Andre Johnson, WR Houston; Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis; Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona; Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, WRs, Tampa Bay; Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee; Arian Foster, RB, Houston; Chris Ivory, RB, N.Y. Jets; Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia; Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland
Sit: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland; Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta; Dexter McCluster, RB, Tennessee; Shane Vereen, RB, New England; Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco; Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego; Golden Tate, WR, Detroit
Week 2 Sleepers
Niles Paul, TE, Washington Redskins
With Jordan Reed out this week, Paul will have an expanded role as RG3’s top tight end. He led Washington with 86 receiving yards in Week 1, and is a safer bet over teammate Logan Paulsen who typically serves as a blocker in two tight-end sets. For Reed owners, Paul should be picked up this week and for the future given Reed's injury history.
Devin Hester, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The NFL’s greatest kick returner of all-time came up with the second best receiving performance of his career against New Orleans, 5 receptions for 99 yards. No one expected Hester to play that critical a role in the Falcons offense, but he’s a solid deep option for Matt Ryan if White and Juloio Jones are covered. Hester might be a pickup in deeper leagues, but if he has a big game in Week 2 he could shoot up the waiver-wire.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fellow Jags receiver Allen Hurns made all the headlines and rightfully so, but the rookie Lee had an impressive debut with 6 receptions for 62 yards and was far more effective that Hurns in the second half. The former USC star had a setback after suffering a hamstring injury during practice Wednesday, but he has several days to heal up. The Jags are short on playmakers with Cecil Shorts status still up in the air, so Lee could be a big pickup this week and in the coming weeks.