Defense was almost non-existent in Week 1 of the new NFL season, and daily fantasy football players should expect more of the same come Week 2. Not including Monday night's games, 20 teams surrendered 20 or more points, including six letting up 30 points or more, and another six teams allowed 400-plus yards of total offense. Passing defenses were especially porous as eight teams gave up 300-plus yards in the air.
Lots of factors contributed to this defensive void and eye-popping fantasy numbers. For one, it’s the first week and even after training camp and the preseason defenses still have to shake off that proverbial offseason rust. There’s also personnel changes, either in the form of new additions to the defense like a team seeing immediate results from a skill position signing in free agency or from the draft.
Given how the NFL’s become more of a pass-centered league, the stars who benefited most were under center and on the receiving end of all those passes. The Saints Drew Brees was outright masterful despite losing, while the Bengals Andy Dalton looked sharp and connected with the week’s leading receiver A.J. Green on 12 of 13 targets.
On the flipside, only one running back was able to eclipse the century mark on the ground. Free agency signee Lamar Miller exploded for 106 yards in Houston’s comeback win over visiting Chicago, but Kansas City’s Spencer Ware adapted and got into the passing explosion, notching 129 yards off seven receptions and still tallied 70 rushing yards in an overtime win over San Diego.
It was truly an incredible offensive display for most of the NFL, and defenses will need time, perhaps the next couple of weeks, to figure out these highly potent offenses. So in the meantime, enjoy the inflated scores.
Here are Week 2’s rankings. Keep in mind, the rankings are fluid and will change will from week-to-week, and they aren’t naming any one player the best at their position. Rather it's meant to identify who has the best matchup and who might give you the best combination this week.
1.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2.Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
3.Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
4.Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
5. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bonus: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers; Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
The extra job security, or rather a new contract, clearly boosted Brees and he’s sure to fire off 40 or more passes against a Giants D that allowed rookie Dak Prescott to total 227 passing yards. Carr didn’t find the end zone until late in the win over Brees and New Orleans, but he should tear up the Atlanta secondary that made Winston look like an All-Pro. Stafford and the rest of the Lions offense actually looked freer without Calvin Johnson since defenses aren’t quite sure where the Detroit quarterback is going to go. Winston may not have four touchdown passes against the Cardinals, but then again no one expected Jimmy Garappolo to escape Arizona with a victory either. The Cardinals allowed Garappolo to complete 72 percent of his passes, and Winston's far more lethal than him.
1.Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
2.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
3.Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
4.Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
5.Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Miller should repeat his Week 1 work against a Chiefs D that allowed 155 rushing yards to San Diego, while Johnson’s going to have a tough matchup versus the Bucs (only 52 rushing yards allowed in Week 1). But the Cardinals back should get more than 16 touches and in any PPR league he’s a must buy. Peterson’s price will fall after his 31-yard performance against Tennessee, and the matchup isn’t great since division rival Green Bay only coughed up a league-best 48 rushing yards in Week 1, but historically speaking he’s lit up the Packers for 110 yards a game for this career. Meanwhile, there’s no way the Cowboys allow Prescott to throw 45 times again, so look for Elliott to garner at least 20 attempts and start his rookie of the year campaign.
1.A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
2.Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
3.Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
4.Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5.Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Bonus: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Green made his case for “Best Receiver in the Game” against what was supposed to be a tough Jets secondary, and at times it looked like he had Velcro on his gloves. Next up is a Steelers secondary that was looking for help late in the preseason and has allowed Green to score six touchdowns in 10 career games. Cooper and Jeffery are huge targets for their respective quarterbacks, and will likely be cheaper options compared to Julio Jones and Antonio Brown for the next couple of weeks. Evans doesn’t have a fantastic matchup, but he does tower over Arizona’s defensive backs so he could be dangerous.
1.Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
2.Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
3.Jacob Tamme, Atlanta Falcons
4.Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
5.Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bonus: Larry Donnell, New York Giants
Tight ends accounted for eight receiving touchdowns in Week 1, but all were scored by players with five targets or less. That won’t continue, so focus on any of these listed tight ends, especially Witten, who notched a league-high 14 targets. If Gronkowski does come back, he’s still going to be expensive so don’t even bother if you can land Olsen or even Tamme for hundreds less in cap room.
1.Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2.C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
3.Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
4.Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
5.Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Another week of filling the stat sheet and Ware’s going to replace Jamaal Charles in the starting backfield. He does face a Houston D that allowed only 73 rushing yards at 3.7 yards per attempt but that also allowed the Bears to build an early lead in Week 1. Stewart averaged 4.3 yards per carry against the Broncos excellent defense, so the 49ers might not be too hard a matchup.
Yes, the Seahawks are on the road but against a one-dimensional offensive team like Los Angeles, they will be just fine. San Francisco is still trying to find the players to help them find the portal to any offensive dimension so Carolina’s a worthwhile play, even if they’ll be one of the pricier D/STs. Baltimore, harkening back to the old days, also has a favorable matchup against a very limited Browns offense (even before Robert Griffin III went down), and Green Bay should only have trouble with Peterson. Like most do in “suicide” or “pick’em” pools, following Cleveland’s schedule and picking their opponent might be the best way to settle any indecision over which D/ST to start week-to-week.