Start ’em Sit ’em Week 2: Baker Mayfield and Mike Williams rise in this week’s ranks – Pro Football Network

After months of waiting, the NFL is back. Week 1 gave us a sensational opening week that caused us to rethink how we view some players for fantasy football. With not all matchups being equal, here are our top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 2 of fantasy football.

NFL Start ’em, Sit ’em for Week 2: Quarterbacks

As the season kicks off, which QBs are must-starts and who should remain on the bench in Week 1?

Start ’em | Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

If you just look at his fantasy finish, Mayfield was a Week 1 disappointment. He was the QB25 with 13.6 fantasy points. But that’s not a true representation of his play on Sunday. Mayfield completed 75% of his passes and threw for 321 yards, which tied Matthew Stafford for No. 8 on the week.

He did all of this without Odell Beckham Jr., and Anthony Schwartz tied for the most targets. The Browns just hung 29 points on the Kansas City Chiefs, and in Week 2 they face … checks notes … the Houston Texans.

The same Texans defense that ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to QBs last season (20.2) and just allowed Trevor Lawrence, in his very first NFL game, to throw for 332 passing yards and 3 touchdowns (QB11 in fantasy).

I am all in on a Browns team that honestly should have won last week if not for a dropped snap by the punter. They’ll take their frustrations out on the surprisingly 1-0 Texans. Mayfield is a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 in Week 2 and leads my list of starts at QB.

Sit ’em | Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

There is no question the pressure is on Tua — justified or not. But there’s no doubt he knows it, and if we are honest, it showed in Week 1 against the New England Patriots. Of the two former Alabama QBs, Tua was the one looking like a rookie. He completed just 59.3% of his passes for 202 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT as the QB19 in fantasy (17.2 points).

I have been on the Team Tua side this offseason. I think he will be better this year, and the additions of Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller (who returns this week) will help him. But I do not feel comfortable with what I saw in Week 1 to roll him out in Week 2.

The Bills’ defense is legit. They held the Steelers to just 54 yards of offense in the first half and just 252 as a team. Ben Roethlisberger looked, well, not great, and had just 188 yards passing. Also, for all the hype surrounding Najee Harris, he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.

The Bills exit Week 1, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs (12.02) and fourth-fewest overall at 61.8 (before MNF kicks off). This is not a matchup I would be looking to target for fantasy until we see the version of Tua we think is there.

Running backs

While these RBs found themselves with adjusted roles in the preseason following injuries to surrounding players, they are on opposite sides of start/sit debates for Week 2.

Start ’em | David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

I had a difficult time this offseason trying to decide how I viewed Montgomery. For all the times he flashes, he would then disappoint. Even in his end-of-season blow-up, you couldn’t help but look at the teams he faced and feel they played a massive role. Then throw in head coach Matt Nagy resuming play-calling duties, and I was luke-warm at best on Montgomery. Well, safe to say I am adjusting in Week 2.

Despite going against the No. 4 ranked run defense in fantasy last season, Montgomery carved up the Rams. He rushed 16 times for 108 yards on Sunday night and found the end zone. Montgomery also added a 10-yard reception for good measure as he was the RB8 in PPR formats (18.8 points). 

In Week 2, he faces a Bengals defense that ranked 23rd in points to RBs (24.7) and just gave up 28.8 to the Vikings. If Montgomery can record a few more receptions, a top-six finish is not outside the realm of possibility. I would not spend too much time on this straightforward start ’em or sit ’em decision for Week 2.

Start ’em | Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos

This whole offseason, Gordon was pushed to the side by fantasy managers after the Broncos drafted UNC standout RB Javonte Williams. But Gordon reminded everyone in Week 1 that he, in fact, still has good football left in him.

Although Williams out carried him (14 to 11), Gordon had 101 rushing yards on the day, which he capped off with a 70-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. He also led the backfield in targets (3), hauling in all 3 for 17 yards. This is going to remain a 50/50 split, but I don’t think that matters in Week 2.

The Broncos take on a Jaguars defense that struggled to contain 31-year-old Mark Ingram (85 yards and 1 TD). The Jags were 30th against RBs last season (30.1) and just allowed the third-highest total to RBs (36.4) this weekend.

The loss of Jerry Jeudy (ankle) likely means the Broncos will lean on the rushing game a bit more in Week 2. Gordon is a solid low-end RB2 this week, with Williams coming in as a flex. 

Sit ’em | Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons

Davis has been a divisive topic in fantasy all offseason. You either loved him or hated him. To some, he was a 300-opportunity steal in drafts. To others, a wasted pick with little upside. After one week, I don’t think we gained much clarity.

Davis totaled just 72 yards on 18 touches in Week 1 against the Falcons, finishing as the RB30 on the week (10.2 points). Still, it’s worth noting the Eagles jumping out ahead early on likely led to a change in the game plan.

If they thought the Eagles got out fast, what do they think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to do to them in Week 2?

The Buccaneers allowed only 47 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard (both of whom I can guarantee are more talented than Davis). Stay far away from Davis in Week 2. He is a very low-end RB3 at best for Week 2 and on my sit ’em list for fantasy football.

NFL Start ’em, Sit ’em for Week 2: Wide receivers

With the WR position deeper than ever for fantasy football, start ’em or sit ’em decisions for Week 2 are invariably matchup-dependent.

Start ’em | Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brown stayed on the straight and narrow this offseason and greeted fantasy managers with a vintage performance in Week 1 against the Cowboys. On just 7 targets, Brown recorded 5 receptions and led the Bucs WRs with 121 yards and 1 touchdown as Tom Brady’s vertical threat. He ended the week as the WR11 in PPR (23.7), just one spot ahead of teammate Chris Godwin (23.5).

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles just torched the Falcons to the tune of 264 passing yards and 3 TDs on Sunday, meaning this could get out of control quickly. Brown is a must-start in Week 2 in fantasy, as are all Buccaneers pass catchers.

Start ’em | Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

Once again, Landry is being undervalued. It’s almost a running joke at this point due to its regularity. With Beckham Jr. ruled out before kickoff (ACL), Landry had his usual solid day, recording 5 receptions (5 targets) for 71 yards while adding 2 rushes for 13 yards and a touchdown — finishing as the WR17 on the week with 19.4 fantasy points.

Beckham Jr. is not guaranteed to suit up in Week 2, and the Browns are taking on the Texans, who just allowed 219 receiving yards and 2 TDs on 16 receptions to WRs last week. Landry has low-end WR2 upside this week even if OBJ returns to the field.

Start ’em | Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Talent has never been the question for Mike Williams. It’s been staying on the field. In one of the more surprising stats of Week 1, Williams had 12 targets, hauling in 8 passes (75%) for 82 yards and a score. He fell just outside the WR1 territory as the WR14 on the week with 22.2 fantasy points.

Washington was projected to be one of the most challenging defenses to face in 2021, having ranked No. 3 vs. WRs last season. But I think this is more indicative of the power the Chargers’ offense possesses with Justin Herbert at the helm and OC Joe Lombardi calling plays.

In Week 2, they take on a Cowboys defense that was just dominated through the air for 250 yards in the opening week to WRs. When making a start or sit decision in Week 2, plug Williams into your lineups this week as a high-end flex.

Sit ’em | Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Do not overreact to what you saw in Week 1. However, I am nervous about Gage. Despite the Falcons being in garbage time for a majority of the game, Gage drew just 2 targets and failed to bring in a catch in what should have been an easy matchup. Gage was a 100-target WR last year (109) and looked to take a step forward with Julio Jones in Tennessee. But the lack of volume, along with only a 68% snap share, has me concerned.

The Falcons take on the Buccaneers this week, and while they did allow 303 yards to WRs in Week 1, Gage is not the caliber WR of CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper. I expect a bounce back from the Bucs’ defense, which could lead to Gage having a second-straight disappointing week and is on my sit ’em list for fantasy football.

Sit ’em | DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

Did Parker lead the Dolphins in targets and yards? Yes. But do I think this is enough to justify starting him in Week 2? No, I don’t.

Parker saw a 26% target share in Week 1 (7), turning those into 4 receptions for 81 yards. Yet, despite leading the team, he was just the WR43 in fantasy with 12.1 points. The issue with Parker is his fantasy value is dependant on finding the end zone. Even going back to last season, while he was one of just 35 receivers to record over 100 targets, Parker’s 1.61 points/target was 88th (minimum 30 targets).

In Week 2, the Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills. The latter shut down the Steelers’ passing attack (honestly, entire offense) and deals with the extra competition with the return of Will Fuller, relegating Parker to the WR3 role on the team in all likelihood. Parker is a no-go for me in fantasy and should be on the bench this week.

Tight ends

Although the TE position in fantasy is notoriously shallow, start ’em or sit ’em decisions for Week 1 could mean the difference in a win or a loss.

Start ’em | Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Football is more run when Gronk is around. This is a universal fact. And in Week 1, no one was having more fun than Gronkowski. It was a vintage performance, finishing as the TE1 in fantasy (29 points) while hauling in all 8 of his targets for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In fantasy, if a tight end scores, they are a near-lock to end as a TE1 on the week. In Week 2, outside of maybe Travis Kelce, no TE has a better chance to find the end zone than Gronkowski. He is a top-five play at the position this week.

Sit ’em | Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

I almost feel bad doing this because Gesicki was my sit ’em pick at TE last week. I genuinely like him too. Gesicki is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL. There is no debate about that, and he is coming off a strong 2020 campaign. He finished as the TE7 (10.6 ppg) with over 700 yards and 6 touchdowns. 

However, what happened in Week 1? Gesicki went catchless on just 2 targets. In Week 2, the Dolphins take on a Bills defense that allowed just 1 catch for 19 yards to the Steelers’ combo of Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth. Add in the full complement of WRs with Fuller’s return, and once again, Gesicki is a sit ’em for me in Week 2 for fantasy.

NFL Start ’em, Sit ’em for Week 2: Defenses

The odds of winning your Week 2 fantasy football matchup skyrocket by nailing which defense to start.

Start ’em | New England Patriots

The Patriots were one of the better defenses last season despite having a league-high eight players opt-out due to the pandemic’s health concerns. In Week 1, they terrorized the Dolphins’ offense, allowing just 259 combined yards of offense (fifth-fewest), 17 points, and a takeaway.

In Week 2, they face the New York Jets and rookie Zach Wilson. Bill Belichick’s Patriots teams are 21-6 against rookie QBs since he took over the reins in New England in the 2000 season. They should have similar success in Week 2.

Sit ’em | Philadelphia Eagles

A round of applause for the Eagles and their performance in Week 1. They were great on offense, and that translated to the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles allowed just 6 points and 260 total yards to the Falcons, who were playing in catch-up mode all game. They were the No. 5 ranked defense in fantasy with 10 points. 

However, I’m not buying in for the repeat, and I don’t think you should either. In Week 2, the Eagles matchup with the 49ers, who just scored 41 points last week and have as dangerous an offense as there is in football. Jimmy Garoppolo tends to be risk-averse, which limits potential turnover opportunities for the Eagles. 

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