Week 2 fantasy football buy or sell
32 seconds for 32 teams — using the numbers behind the numbers to predict fantasy football success
Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is in the books, and half the world’s fantasy teams are winless. Now is not the time to panic, but it’s not the time to sit on your laurels either.
We now have more pertinent information about fantasy usage than all the preseason speculation in the world, and every player is either trending up (Kareem Hunt) or down (David Johnson). Fantasy football is won in-season, not during drafts. Astute owners are already adding key waiver names and getting trade offers out.
So what players are trending up or down, and who should you sell high on or target for a buy low trade? Let’s go around the league with 32 seconds each for 32 teams.
Get well soon, David Johnson. Everyone’s recommending Kerwyn Williams as the pickup but Andre Ellington out-snapped him 20 to 9. Williams may get more carries while Ellington picks up the slack in the passing game, but neither will come close to matching Johnson’s production and the entire team could really struggle without him. John Brown looks like the WR2. He was second on the team in snaps and had nine targets.
Devonta Freeman out-snapped Tevin Coleman 36 to 24 but had just 14 touches to Coleman’s 12, and Coleman had more targets in the receiving game. The two barely ever shared the field, so with only one RB on the field for a more ordinary offense (compared to last year), will there be enough fantasy production for either to hit their presumed value? Tight end Austin Hooper had two long catches for 128 yards but both came on broken plays and were on his only targets, so don’t get too excited just yet.
The Ravens took an early lead and sat on the ball, so there’s not much to go on here especially in the passing game, where Joe Flacco was just 9/17. The big pickup for the week is Javorius “Buck” Allen. Allen led Ravens running backs in snaps and carries and, with Woodhead already sidelined, is the best receiving back on the team that threw to its RBs more than anyone in football last year. He looks like a usable RB2 in PPR leagues.
LeSean McCoy was the beast you hoped for. He had 22/110 on the ground plus 5/49 on six targets. And he didn’t get a TD vultured by Mike Tolbert — Tolbert just happened to be in while McCoy shook off a stinger. The other Bills player that looks worth owning is tight end Charles Clay. He had 4/53 receiving with a touchdown on nine targets and should lead the team in targets most games.
Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart rotated series early then mixed it up as the game went on. McCaffrey had 13 carries, five catches on seven targets, and three punt returns. Stewart added 20 touches, seven on the final clock-killing drive. The two combined for nine targets, a welcome sign for those worried that Carolina wouldn’t throw to its RBs. The Panthers didn’t pass much so there’s not much to learn there, though this tends to happen with Carolina. Cam Newton only ran three times. If he’s not going to pass much or run, it’ll be hard to find value.
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Hello, Tarik Cohen. The Human Joystick had 5/66 on the ground and another 8/47 in the air plus a touchdown on 12 targets. He’ll be one of the hottest adds in fantasy leagues this week, but remember that the Falcons allowed the most catches to running backs last year so this might have been a one-week game plan. Jordan Howard still played in ten more snaps and had 16 touches for 66 yards and a TD. He may not be quite the workhorse we hoped for but still looked good. No Bears WR played more than 47 snaps or had more than four targets. None are worth owning for now.
The Bengals didn’t do much, but Joe Mixon owners should be encouraged. Mixon had 22 snaps, more than double Jeremy Hill’s 10, and he led the team in RB touches with 11. Gio Bernard played the most snaps this week with 29 but quite a few of those were in passing situations in the second half with the team trailing. Mixon looks like he might be 1a in this run game already and had three targets too. He’s worth targeting, and Hill can probably be dropped.
It looks like Corey Coleman is the early leader to be WR1 for the Browns. He led the team with 5/53 on six targets and scored a TD. DeShone Kizer was actually pretty good. He went 20/30 and nearly led a comeback, and he had his first passing and rushing TDs. The Browns have a tough game in Cleveland this week but then see their schedule open up, so there could be some fantasy production on its way.
Ezekiel Elliott showed no signs of rust. He had 29 touches for 139 yards, and now he’s getting involved in the passing game too with a career-high five catches. He might be the #1 pick in fantasy drafts held today and looks like a steal if he can stay on the field. Dez Bryant only put up 2/43 but led the team with nine targets. He’ll be fine.
C.J. Anderson looked healthy and ran well with 20/81 on the ground. Jamaal Charles played every other RB snap and had 10/40 of his own. He looks like a handcuff worth owning, and Anderson looks like a safe RB2. Don’t rush out to grab Bennie Fowler. He’s definitely still just the WR3, safely ahead of Cody Latimer but well behind Thomas and Sanders, and the TDs won’t come most weeks.
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Rookie Kenny Golladay had a big finish with 4/69 and two touchdowns on seven targets but played only 44 of 71 snaps and is the clear WR3. He is a speculative add but don’t put him in your lineup yet. Ameer Abdullah out-snapped Theo Riddick 36 to 22 and had 15 carries to Riddick’s one but didn’t do much with them. Riddick’s 6/27 and a TD in the air was a lot more useful, and it still feels like he may be the RB you prefer if you have to play one.
It looks like the Ty Montgomery truthers were right. Montgomery got almost all the work, out-snapping Jamaal Williams 74 to 6 and had 23 touches for 93 yards and a TD. He looks like a solid RB2, though he probably won’t be on the field for 74 snaps again this season. Randall Cobb had a big day with 9/85 receiving on 13 targets but is still the clear WR3 here. He ate all of the space underneath while Seattle’s superb safeties took away the deeper stuff.
It looks like DeAndre Hopkins could be the monster he was in 2015. He led the league in targets this weekend with a monster 16 and was the only Houston WR to get a single target, and he played every snap. It looks like this is Deshaun Watson’s team going forward and rookie QBs tend to lock in on one target so Hopkins could be huge. Lamar Miller played all but two snaps and got a huge target share. Everything changed with Watson under center. All three of those guys, Watson included, look like good targets to go after.
The Colts were truly atrocious Sunday, and no one would fault you for benching everyone involved here until they prove they have a QB that can tie his own shoes. Even the reliable Frank Gore disappointed with just 19 snaps to 17 for Marlon Mack and 14 for Robert Turbin, but Gore was the clear guy early in the game before things got away. He may get dropped in some leagues but still looks like the lead back.
Leonard Fournette looked like the stud you hoped for with 29 touches, 124 yards, and a TD against a good Texans defense, but be careful. Fournette only out-snapped Chris Ivory 38 to 26 and won’t play with the lead most games, and he’ll have to adjust to the extra attention now that he’s proven himself and with the Jags missing their top receiver. Fournette is probably a slight sell high. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are speculative pickups at receiver. One or both will be useful going forward when Bortles has to throw more than 21 times once the team isn’t facing Tom Savage. Expect Lee to lead the team in catches but Hurns to score more TDs.
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Kareem Hunt fumbled the ball on his first carry — then racked up 246 yards and three touchdowns. This will probably end up Hunt’s best game of his season, maybe even in his career, but he looks like a workhorse. How many players not on Pittsburgh would you trade Hunt for right now? Are there any? Tyreek Hill owners are excited but he played only 50 of 69 snaps (15 fewer than Chris Conley) and had a pretty blase 6/58 day outside of the one monster 75-yard TD. That’s the deal with Hill. His targets are up (8) but next week you might just get stuck with the 6/58 and no big play.
Los Angeles Chargers
Everyone’s favorite tight end sleeper Hunter Henry is still sleeping. He played just 23 of 58 snaps and didn’t get a single target. You may not want to drop him but really can’t play him yet. Melvin Gordon saw more of the same from 2016, with a huge workload but poor yards per touch and reliant on TDs for scoring. That just doesn’t feel sustainable long term. Tyrell Williams looks like the WR2 to own. Travis Benjamin caught a TD but Williams led the team in WR snaps and had three more targets.
Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley got heavy volume like last year and added a touchdown, and he didn’t even have to play the whole game. There’s a slight concern on the terrible YPC with 19/40 rushing but he should be good. The same can’t be said for Sammy Watkins. Watkins had only five targets and played the third most snaps among Rams WRs. He may struggle to score consistent points this year. Tavon Austin played only seven snaps and shouldn’t be owned.
The Dolphins didn’t play because of the hurricane. This would be a great time for you to go get DeVante Parker while you still can.
It was the changing of the guard for Vikings RBs on Monday night, and Dalvin Cook looked fantastic. He had 25 touches for 137 yards and was involved early and often, so it looks like the hype was real. Latavius Murray played only three snaps and should be dropped. We’ll see if Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs can both remain useful when Sam Bradford isn’t perfect most weeks, but both were terrific. Diggs is clearly the go-to guy but Thielen led the team with 10 targets and had a huge 9/157 effort.
Mike Gillislee looks like a sell high. He had three TDs but played just 24 snaps and didn’t have a single target. He’s going to be TD or bust. James White could be the more consistent player. He played 43 snaps and had 10 carries and three targets. Rex Burkhead (10 snaps) and Dion Lewis (6) were hardly involved and can be dropped. Danny Amendola only played 32 snaps thanks to an injury that cost him a quarter but still had 6/100 and looks like the guy who will benefit most from Edelman’s absence. Chris Hogan played the most snaps of any WR and had five targets and three rushes but only 22 yards. He’s a hold but might struggle to score consistently.
A fond farewell to Adrian Peterson. Peterson vowed revenge but was barely even on the field, playing a career-low nine snaps. Instead rookie Alvin Kamara led Saints RBs with 31 snaps, seven carries, and six targets. He should definitely be owned in all leagues. Mark Ingram was used almost as frequently but could be unreliable in this setup. Peterson may not even be worth owning, though it’s probably worth waiting a week or two to make sure. Don’t get too excited on Coby Fleener just yet. His 5/54 and a TD look good but he played just 32 of 62 snaps, barely more than Josh Hill.
New York Giants
The only real takeaway for the Giants is that Odell Beckham is very good and this team missed him dearly. And also that Paul Perkins probably still sucks. Perkins played just 18 snaps and had 7/16 on the ground, though it’s encouraging that he saw three targets. Shane Vereen had 9/51 receiving and played 31 snaps. He’ll be one of those moderately useful PPR backs.
New York Jets
Bilal Powell was a popular sleeper but had a rough start. He played just 30 snaps to 35 for Matt Forte and had 12 touches to Forte’s 9. Five catches help but the Jets couldn’t do much against the Bills and Powell can only do so much on a bad team playing half the time. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse both had 8+ targets if you need a random dart throw at WR.
Don’t look now, but the Amari Cooper era may finally be here. Cooper’s 5/62 and a TD line doesn’t look that special, but he had four targets inside the ten yard line after having zero all last season. He had 13 targets and played 13 more snaps than Michael Crabtree, so he could finally be the guy. Marshawn Lynch was good too. He played more snaps than DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard combined and ran well against a good Titans run defense.
Like last year, it looks like the Eagles could spread the wealth too much on offense to let any single player stand out. Darren Sproles was the surprise snap leader out of the backfield with 33, ten more than LeGarrette Blount. Blount had 14/46 on the ground and caught a random one-yard TD but looks like a very tenuous play with that work rate. Sproles got eight targets but only two carries for all that time. Nelson Agholor doesn’t look too reliable either. He played only 43 snaps and had a boring 5/28 day outside of the 58-yard TD that was about 98% Carson Wentz and 2% Agholor. He’s not worth a pickup.
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Relax — LeVeon Bell will be just fine. Even studs needs to shake off the rust. Bell only played 43 of 60 snaps being eased back into the game plan but still got the lion’s share of the work. Antonio Brown is absurdly good, but Martavis Bryant played only one snap less and had six targets so he’ll have that breakout game soon… maybe even next week with the Vikings Xavier Rhodes matched up against Brown.
Carlos Hyde and Pierre Garcon appear to be every bit the workhorses they were expected to be. Hyde had 77 yards on 15 touches including six catches, and Garcon had 6/81 on 10 targets. Both of them did that in a game in which the 49ers barely even had the ball, so when they keep it longer and score some points, Hyde and Garcon could be very valuable. Both are buy lows.
The Seahawks were a disaster offensively, allowed the Packers to run 33 more offensive plays. Russell Wilson had only 14 completions, so there’s not much to learn in the passing game. The run game looks like a mess, but Eddie Lacy clearly isn’t the answer. He played just seven snaps in a revenge game with Thomas Rawls sidelined. He can be cut at this point and his career may not last long. Rookie Chris Carson played 27 snaps to lead the team at RB. He’s worth an add, though Rawls is probably the guy you want most if anyone.
The Bucs didn’t play because of the hurricane. Jacquizz Rodgers is a great RB pickup if someone dropped him.
The Titans had a pretty odd game plan with 41 pass plays to just 21 runs, about reverse what we expected in 2016. All three receivers and Delanie Walker each had 8–10 targets but that won’t likely be the case most weeks. Eric Decker led the team with 60 snaps. Corey Davis played only 42 but was the top receiver anyway. DeMarco Murray looks like a great buy low if you can snag him. He out-snapped Derrick Henry 47 to 18 and got most of the work, even if he never really got going. Henry is just a backup right now.
The Washington run game was as expected. Robb Kelley played 33 snaps to Chris Thompson’s 30 but had a boring 10/30 on the ground with only one target. Thompson caught a TD and had 4/52 in the air but ran for only three yards. What you have here is two guys each playing half of a RB role. Much like Detroit, neither is particularly usable. Terrelle Pryor had 11 targets and looks like he was worth your early pick. Ryan Grant played almost as much as Jamison Crowder and far more than Josh Doctson. Grant is probably going to be useful at times this season, while Doctson can be dropped.