There are some early conclusions to be drawn after two weeks of the NFL season, and how it pertains to figuring out fantasy lineups.
The Seattle Seahawks offensive line has been as dreadful as many predicted, and injuries to quarterback Russell Wilson’s already lean list of primary weapons make any Seahawk selection a risky fantasy move. We also know that quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon are enjoying a healthy front line after numerous injuries struck the San Diego Chargers last year, and if that health continues, the Chargers could easiliy maintain the AFC’s highest-scoring offense.
Even though they’ve each shown signs of weakness, the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals remain the class of the NFC and many of their players should be targeted by daily fantasy owners in Week 3 and beyond.
It’s also becoming apparent that the Green Bay Packers offense is struggling to find a groove, while the New York Giants have overcome their late-game problems from last season.
Furthermore, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston came back to earth and was torn asunder by the stout defense everyone expected out of Arizona, while the Jacksonville Jaguars don't look like they're ready to contend for a playoff berth.
The Houston Texans defense looks like the force they were supposed to be, while the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, and Kansas City Chiefs are among a number of teams trying to find an early foothold in the standings and on the scoreboard. We can probably add the Detroit Lions and their injured defense to that list as well.
It may seem these are assumptions made too soon from a small sample size, but fantasy owners know that the most consistent fantasy-point scorers come from winning teams that build a steep trajectory early in the season and also know to avoid those teams trending downward.
So, as we turn to Week 3, when crafting lineups and combinations for FanDuel, DraftKings, or any other platform, use our rankings below and try and focus on the teams who have created some early separation in the standings.
1.Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
2.Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
3.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
4.Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
5.Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bonus: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts; Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Enjoying some overall solid protection, Rivers has laser-like focus and while he won’t keep up his 70 percent completion rate or 8.3 percent touchdown pass rate he does face a Colts D that allows more than 20 points a game. Palmer will stare down a Bills secondary that’s just a little bit worse than Indy’s, and he may have the best, most balanced set of tools of any quarterback in the league. In a loss, Brees still put up 263 yards and a touchdown and even though he’s meeting a Falcons D posting the sixth-best work against opposing QBs, he’s tortured the Falcons for 38 touchdowns in 21 career games.
Still, it’s Atlanta’s Matt Ryan that has the best matchup of the week with New Orleans’ secondary the worst against opposing quarterbacks.
1.C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
2.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
3.LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
4.Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
5.Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
The Broncos have struck the right balance between Anderson and second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian, with the rusher totaling 40 rushes to Siemian’s 59 pass attempts, but Anderson should even things up against a slightly above average Bengals rushing D. Johnson draws a Buffalo unit allowing more than 94 rushing yards a game, while Blount should follow up his 100-yard Week 2 with even more production thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury. Gordon’s exploded and living up to his hype from last season and should get even more attempts with Danny Woodhead now out for the year. Lacy will be a very cheap option against the Lions. The fire is now at Lacy’s feet, and he must perform in Week 3 or James Starks will start to take more carries.
1.Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
3. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
4. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
5. Brandon Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Bonus: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers; Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
Brown is a safe pick even though he floundered against Cincinnati in Week 2. He should fly against the Eagles secondary in Week 3 and be worth the hefty price tag. Benjamin’s a perfect combo of size and speed who’s tied for seventh with 21 targets and will get be a more cost-effective choice than Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, or A.J. Green. Same goes for Landry, who’s benefiting tremendously from Miami’s failure to run the ball (No. 25 in the league with 125 total rushing yards through two games). And whoever is under center for New England will look to throw to Edelman early and often on Thursday night.
1.Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
2.Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
3.Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
4.Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
5.Jacob Tamme, Atlanta Falcons
Bonus: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
The Giants may be 2-0 but they’re allowing the second-most points to tight ends this season, hence Reed’s No. 1 ranking this week. As the second-most targeted Washington player, Reed should reach pay dirt for the first time this season, while Walker can pick apart a Raiders D that’s only better than New Orleans and New York against tight ends. Rodgers also has an enviable matchup in Detroit (allowing 9.5 points to TEs), but keep an eye on his back-up, Jared Cook, as the week progresses. Pitta’s on the comeback trail and may have rediscovered his 2012 form when he totaled 61 receptions for 669 yards and seven touchdowns off 94 targets. Pitta also has four more targets than Baltimore’s next leading receiver, Mike Wallace.
1.Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
2.Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
3.Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
4.Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
5.Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Few could have predicted Diggs would be leading the NFL in receiving yards, but if Adrian Peterson’s torn meniscus keeps him out Sam Bradford will have to fire away, even against Carolina. Cooper almost scored his first touchdown of the year but a 51-yard bomb by Derek Carr was negated by a flag. Still, Cooper’s poised to light up a Titans secondary that is the ninth worst against opposing receivers.
The Texans are a safe pick because of how they’ve played the first two weeks and because of Garoppolo’s injury, but they won’t be cheap and they will only have four days to recover and prepare. Seattle’s offense is severely lacking, but that defense is still largely solid and will wreak havoc on San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert, who’s completing less than 55 percent of his passes. Carolina could go either way against the Vikings, but if Peterson’s playing it could be trouble since the Panthers are a middling 18th against the run so far. And the Jets are going to feast on a Kansas City offensive line that’s already surrendered 7.0 sacks, tied with Indianapolis for second-worst in the league.