Some surprises, both the good and bad kind, in Week 1 in terms of fantasy performances by wide receivers and tight ends. Before we look ahead to Week 2, let’s see how my Week 1 advice fared.
Start Donte Moncrief (12.4 fantasy points) – The Colts' offense is going to score A LOT of points this year.
Sit Jarvis Landry (5.9 FP) – Landry was in a tough spot going up against the Seahawks in Week 1, he’ll rebound this week.
Start Dwayne Allen (13.3 FP) – Once again Allen scored a touchdown in the season opener.
Start Golden Tate (4.3 FP) – In a game where Matthew Stafford threw for more than 300 yards, Tate managed only 41.
Start Coby Fleener (0.6 FP) – In a shootout with the Raiders, somehow Fleener managed only one catch for six yards.
I also warned you against starting Jeremy Maclin, who happened to catch five balls for 63 yards with one touchdown, which was good for 12.2 fantasy points.
START THESE WRs...
Travis Benjamin, SD (vs. JAC)
Keenan Allen‘s torn ACL has paved the way for Benjamin to get even more playing time. Benjamin will now start opposite of Dontrelle Inman on the outside, and should see an uptick in targets from this point on. Benjamin, who put up 966 yards receiving and five touchdowns a season ago with mediocre quarterback play in Cleveland, now has Philp Rivers throwing to him. That combination has the potential to be very enticing for fantasy owners. The Chargers will host the Jaguars in Week 2, a defense that finished 29th against the pass last season. All signs point towards giving Benjamin a start in Week 2.
Jordan Matthews, PHI (at CHI, Mon.)
Matthews had quite the start to the season, catching seven of 14 targets for 114 yards and one touchdown, good for 17.4 fantasy points. This week Matthews has a solid matchup ahead against the Bears. Last week, Chicago surrendered almost 30 fantasy points to Houston's WRs, including two touchdowns. Combined that with Matthews’ early rapport with Carson Wentz, and he is now on the WR2/3 radar for Week 2.
DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs. DAL)
Jackson was Kirk Cousins' main passing option in Week 1 against the Steelers, where he caught six of 10 targets for 102 yards. He’s always going to be the team’s top deep threat and that should be on full display this week as Jackson gets to play what seems to be his favorite opponent, the Dallas Cowboys. He's put up no fewer than 12 fantasy points in each of his last three games against them. That includes one game with 136 yards and two others where he scored a touchdown. When you also consider the question marks on the current Dallas defense, Jackson becomes a nice option.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs. NO)
As a 4.5-point home favorite in a game with a huge over/under of 53, the G-Men boast one of the highest projected team totals of Week 2 at 28.75. In Week 1, Shepard and Victor Cruz were each targeted four times, each caught a touchdown and were each on the field for the majority of the game (Shepard 53 of 56 offensive snaps, Cruz 50 of 56), as the Giants mostly used 3-WR sets. While that makes it difficult to know who to trust, Shepard looked great in his NFL debut, and even with Cruz involved, there should be enough opportunity and success against the Saints' cobbled together secondary for Shepard to make some big plays.
SIT THESE WRs...
Randall Cobb, GB (at MIN)
It looks like we should be expecting more of the 2015 version of Cobb this season, even with Jordy Nelson back. Cobb isn’t off to a great start, posting 57 yards and no touchdowns in a win over the Jaguars. This could continue against the Vikings, which have held him to 258 yards (36.8 YPG) and two touchdowns in seven career meetings. Cobb is difficult to sit, so if you do start him it should be with real caution.
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at DEN)
Andrew Luck looked like the 2014 version last week as he carved up the Lions for 385 yards and four touchdowns. But in a game where Luck threw the ball 47 times, Hilton only had six catches for 79 yards and zero touchdowns, good for only 7.9 fantasy points. Teammates Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett both lapped Hilton on the stat sheet. He could be in for another tough week against CBs Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and a Broncos’ pass defense that is among the toughest in the league.
John Brown, ARI (vs. TB)
After missing much of the preseason with a concussion, he played just 35 snaps (59 for Larry Fitzgerald, 58 for Michael Floyd) and wasn't even the most-targeted Brown on the team (Jaron Brown had six compared to John’s four). A home matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a high projected team total (28.25) may make it tempting to play Brown, but it's really difficult to trust him with a shaky role as the No. 4 target (behind Fitzgerald, Floyd and David Johnson) at best.
START THESE TEs...
Coby Fleener, NO (at NYG)
Was there a bigger fantasy bust in Week 1 than Fleener? All preseason everyone and their grandma was predicting what wonderful things Fleener was going to do in the Saints’ offense and what did he do in Week 1? He scored a pathetic 0.6 fantasy points on one measly catch for six yards. There are real concerns about Fleener because he has struggled to learn the playbook, but if he is going to have the season that everyone expects him to have, this is the game to show it as the Giants have done a poor job defending tight ends the past couple of years.
Jason Witten, DAL (at WAS)
The old guy still has it, and Dak Prescott is currently most comfortable making intermediate passes. Witten saw 14 targets, and like the days of old he didn’t see the end zone. But that will have to change, and he’s game flow-proof.
Antonio Gates, SD (vs. JAC)
The Chargers are down two wide receivers (Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson), and there are not a lot of experienced options around aside from Travis Benjamin. So who is Philip Rivers going to lean on when it’s third-and-6 or he’s in the red zone? You guessed it, his old favorite target. Gates will see more than his share of offensive opportunities against the Jaguars. Their defense allowed the sixth-most points to TEs last year.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs. BAL)
Last year’s TE surprise laid a goose egg in Week 1, but Robert Griffin III is likely out for the season, so in comes Josh McCown with whom Barnidge had undeniable chemistry in 2015. Barnidge averaged more than 14 fantasy points a game while McCown was in the lineup, and there’s no reason for this to change. Barnidge also put up a combined 15 catches, 230 yards and a score versus Baltimore in 2015.
SIT THESE TEs...
Dwayne Allen, IND (at DEN)
You had to like what you saw from Allen in Week 1. Andrew Luck looked his way early and often, especially in the red zone, where the two hooked up for one touchdown and narrowly missed a second. While that translates into a good season-long outlook for Allen, this isn’t the week to give him a go. The Broncos boast some of the best cover linebackers in the league, and rarely allow scores to tight ends. Look to stream another tight end this week.
Martellus Bennett, NE (vs. MIA)
He’s not looking like the TE we were hoping he’d be for the Patriots. He had five targets, yes, but only caught three of them for a measly 14 yards. Right now the Patriots have a healthy Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and a shockingly healthy Danny Amendola. Not to mention James White. Oh and it looks like some guy named Rob Gronkowski is going to play this week. Lots of mouths to feed and Bennett doesn’t need to be one. He can catch a TD at any time, but let’s not worry about that. Just sit him.
Jared Cook, GB (at MIN)
Cook’s strong preseason and combination of size and speed led some people to believe he could usurp incumbent tight end Richard Rogers as the starter. If Week 1 taught us anything, that has not yet happened. Cook nabbed just one pass for seven yards in a victory over Jacksonville, but clearly remains the second tight end on the depth chart in Green Bay. Traveling to Minnesota, which finished in the top half of the league against the pass, isn’t a favorable matchup either, making Cook a bench player in Week 2. Cook has the potential to finally break out, but until the numbers tell us otherwise, he’s best served as a backup/streaming option/bye week fill-in.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED..
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at LA)
The whole tight end position last week was just terrible and contributing to the disaster was Graham, who shockingly played in Week 1 but only managed 11 yards receiving. Just because Graham is a big name and you might have drafted him way earlier then you should have, there is no reason to keep putting him out there for him to only score 1.1 fantasy points every week. Either try to trade him to someone who still thinks Graham has something left, or cut him and pick up Eric Ebron, Jesse James or even Virgil Green this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.
(Top photo courtesy of www.redskins.com)