With two weeks in the books, fantasy owners can start looking at trends to see how players fare against opposing defenses. Fantasy rosters are going to be a little different this week due to the amount of injuries that occurred in Week 2, so it’s hard to gauge how some of the replacement players are going to fare and how offenses are going to look without some of their leading players.
With that in mind, here are five players that should exceed their current rank, and five that may disappoint. This is not a start/sit column, but rather analyzing players in terms of their rankings.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins vs. Cleveland Browns
Tannehill started the season with a tough matchup against Seattle. In Week 2 against the New England Patriots, he had 387 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. However, the Patriots’ defense is tougher than the Cleveland Browns, a team that may not win a game all season. Under hew head coach Adam Gase, Tannehill is given more opportunity to take control of the offense. This should be the week fantasy owners see this. He’s connected with DeVante Parker, and without Arian Foster, look for the passing game to be the focal point of the Dolphins’ offense. He’s the 12th-ranked quarterback this week, but should finish higher than that.
Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers
Torched by Spencer Ware in Week 1, the Chargers’ run defense is burnable. Gore is seemingly ageless, and he is given the opportunity week after week. In Week 2, he looked great when he scored a touchdown, having the awareness to judge the sideline and tip-toe in bounds to get the score. He’s going to lose work to Robert Turbin, but it will only help him stay as fresh as possible. In a week where running backs are hard to find, Gore is healthy and has a great matchup. He is ranked 24th, but he has solid RB2 value.
Tevin Coleman/Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (Mon.)
The Saints’ defense is beatable, despite what happened against the Giants in Week 2. Keep in mind the Giants also don’t have a great running game. With the Falcons’ pass catchers banged up, look for Coleman and Freeman (ranked 17th and 19th respectively) to have big games on Monday night. Both backs are solid RB2s. In two games, Coleman has eight targets; Freeman has four. Coleman should be more involved in the passing game, giving him even more value in PPR leagues.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets
The New York Jets’ secondary is not the formidable back end of the past. Through two games, they have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. A.J. Green had 180 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and while Maclin isn’t quite the caliber as Green, he’s poised to have a good game. Alex Smith struggled in Week 2 (which hurt Maclin), but he should bounce back this week as well. The Chiefs are home, where they typically play better, and Maclin should exceed his No. 24 WR ranking.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
In Week 1, Witten had 14 targets and looked to be a favorite of Dak Prescott. However, in Week 2, he had just four targets, as Dez Bryant was more involved in the offense. The Bears are struggling defensively, and Witten should be more involved this week as the Cowboys figure out the offense. He doesn’t always get the red zone looks, but he’s usually good for a 5/50 stat line, or 10 points in a PPR league. Witten is ranked as the No. 11 tight end, but may finish higher than that.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles
While Roethlisberger is still a QB1 (ranked No. 7 in the QB rankings), fantasy owners should remember that he typically does not play as well on the road as he does at home. In 2015, he played six games at home and six games on the road. He threw for 238 more yards at home, had nine more touchdowns and two fewer interceptions. Currently, Philadelphia is giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. However, the Eagles have faced Jay Cutler and Robert Griffin III. This will be a good test for the Eagles’ defense, but Roethlisberger likely won’t put up top-5 fantasy numbers in Week 3.
Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Murray has a touchdown in each of the past two games, which is the only thing that has salvaged his fantasy value. He has yet to exceed 60 rushing yards and he has a combined seven receptions for 57 yards in two games. He’s losing touches to DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard and the Raiders appear comfortable with this running back by committee approach. In Week 3, Murray faces the Titans, the defense that is currently allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. They held Adrian Peterson to 31 yards in Week 1. Murray is ranked 11th this week, but he is a low RB2.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos
Green struggled in Week 2 after his monster Week 1 performance, and things aren’t looking much better for this Sunday either. Denver has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and the Broncos have faced Kelvin Benjamin and T.Y. Hilton. Green is ranked as the No. 12 WR for Week 3, but he is truly a WR2 this week. He had eight targets in Week 2, but he only could haul in two of them for 38 yards. It will get better, but Week 3 may be rough for Green owners.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
After helping Sam Bradford look good in Week 2, Diggs is going to have a tougher time in Week 3. The Carolina defense has given up the third fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Panthers held Demaryius Thomas to 48 yards in Week 1. Diggs is going to be the focal point of the Vikings’ offense following the loss of Adrian Peterson, but he’s a low WR2 this week. He is ranked 21st, but he may finish lower than that.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins
Fantasy owners that drafted Barnidge have to be disappointed in the season so far. After his Week 1 goose egg, all signs pointed up for Barnidge. Josh McCown was in at quarterback, with whom Barnidge had success last year. However, Barnidge could only muster four receptions for 37 yards in Week 2, and now McCown is out for an extended period. On top of that, No. 1 WR Corey Coleman also is out and rookie Cody Kessler will be making his first NFL start. Kessler may turn to Barnidge as a safety blanket, but it’s hard to trust anyone on the Browns’ offense at this point. Barnidge is the No. 17-ranked tight end. Fantasy owners can find better options.
Week 2 Results
For Week 2, here are the Five Up/Five Down selections and how they fared (standard scoring):
Matthew Stafford: Ranked 6th, Finished 18th
C.J. Anderson: Ranked 2nd, Finished 11th
Rashad Jennings: Ranked 6th, Finished 48th
Vincent Jackson: Ranked 41st, Finished 66th
Gary Barnidge: Ranked 4th, Finished 25th
Russell Wilson: Ranked 13th, Finished 27th
Devonta Freeman: Ranked 23rd, Finished 20th
Melvin Gordon: Ranked 32nd, Finished 4th
Dez Bryant: Ranked 9th, Finished 26th
Jacob Tamme: Ranked 19th, Finished 5th
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.