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Fantasy

STATS 2017 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Tiers

By: STATS LLC

Week 1 is in the books, and what a wild ride it was. We saw a lot of big names bust, the No. 1 overall pick suffer a potentially season-ending injury, and multiple rookies explode in their NFL debuts. One thing I love about Week 2 every year is we finally get a sample of data to work with. Often times people overreact considerably to Week 1 results, and I’m sure this week will be no different. The theme for this week’s Tiers is just that – who are we buying the hype on, and who are we not?

Also, please note these are for standard scoring. The numbers in parentheses are how many tiers a player moves up or down in PPR, where applicable.

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers (at ATL)
Tom Brady (at NO)

After the Patriots got humiliated by the Chiefs on national TV, many people were pondering if this is finally the inevitable decline of Brady. I’m here to tell you it is not and he will bounce back in a huge way this week. Both elite QBs get potential shootout matchups in domes. Fire them up.

Tier 2

Russell Wilson (vs. SF)
Matt Ryan (vs. GB)

Seattle’s offensive-line woes were on full display in Week 1, leading to a ton of tweets asking if Wilson is a lost cause. Of course, we want him to have time to throw and be protected enough to avoid massive hits that could jeopardize his health. This will likely effect his real-life value more, as I think it could force him to pull the ball down and run more often. Week 2 will be a big test to his rest-of-the-season value since he should be able to rack up points against the Niners, who will be without stud rookie LB Rueben Foster.

Tier 3

Jameis Winston (vs. CHI)
Drew Brees (vs. NE)
Derek Carr (vs. NYJ)
Cam Newton (vs. BUF)

Winston, who didn’t play last week because of Hurricane Irma, should put up solid QB1 numbers on a defense that just suffered a massive blow with Jerrell Freeman placed on IR.

Last week was a rare time that I listed Brees as a QB2 and “sit” candidate. That turned out all right, but now we see him as a lock-and-load QB1 in what will be a shootout at home.

Derek Carr could have a huge first half and then simply try to run the clock out in the second, when the Raiders likely are up a couple TDs. He is a low-ceiling/high-floor play this week because of the blowout factor.

Cam Newton still has to shake off some rust and can’t rely on too many downfield throws coming off rotator cuff surgery. I noticed him wincing a bit and stretching it out all throughout the game last week. This may alarm some, but as someone who went through the exact same injury/surgery, I would say not to worry too much. He isn’t re-aggravating it when he looks to be in pain. It’s standard discomfort as he tries to get back his full range of motion after being in a sling for several weeks. He will get better as the year goes on and can still make up for lack of huge passing stats with his legs.

Tier 4

Carson Palmer (at IND)
Alex Smith (vs. PHI)
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. MIN)
Kirk Cousins (at LAR)
Philip Rivers (vs. MIA)
Marcus Mariota (at JAC)

After a horrendous opening week for Palmer – who Corey told you to avoid last week – I have him squarely back in play as a QB1 this week. He gets a dream matchup against the Colts, who made Jared Goff look like ’07 Tom Brady, and will also be without David Johnson. On the surface it may seem as though the loss of DJ will hurt his stock somehow. However, I think we are more concerned with quantity vs. quality in this case for fantasy purposes. Arizona will need to become even more pass-heavy, and Palmer is going to see a larger TD share with DJ out.

To me, the biggest QB surprise Week 1 was Alex Smith. He has three tremendous receiving weapons now and seems to be playing with some purpose to hush the critics who called for Pat Mahomes to start. I’m not moving him up into must-start territory or anything, but he is still a low-end QB1 for this week. The Eagles are a team that can be prone to big plays and just lost a key CB in Ronald Darby.

Tier 5

Matthew Stafford (at NYG)
Eli Manning (vs. DET)
Carson Wentz (at KC)
Joe Flacco (vs. CLE)

I expect Stafford to come back down to earth this week in a tough road matchup against the Giants. Manning, on the other hand, needs Odell Beckham to return this week after the display we all saw in Week 1. I look for him to bounce back, but he is very hard to trust in leagues where you start one QB. Joe Flacco tends to lull us all to sleep for 14 out of 16 games, but every year he has about 2 games where he goes “Whacko Flacco” with like four TDs in the first half. This week’s Whacko Flacco detection system has him at a 7.2 out of 10 threat level against the Browns.

Tier 6

Jared Goff (vs. WSH)
Tyrod Taylor (at CAR)
Sam Bradford (at PIT)
Dak Prescott (at DEN)
Andy Dalton (vs. HOU)

I was never one of the experts to just bash on Goff and the Rams heading into this year based on their pathetic 2016. I’m also not one of the experts thinking they have an offense that will provide fantasy gold. As with most things, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. Goff is certainly in play as a low-end QB2 in two-QB leagues. The additions of Sammy Watkins and rookie Cooper Kupp have had an obvious impact on his fantasy outlook, and I think it’s a bit understated just how much of an upgrade coach Sean McVay is over Jeff Fisher for Goff’s long term value.

I loved Taylor and Bradford as low-end QB1 plays last week and they did not disappoint. Trust me on this one – don’t overreact to their predictably good Week 1 performances, as I expect them to flop somewhat this week. They are nothing more than middling QB2 plays.

Prescott isn’t a good option this week. However, he can make up for what will be a lackluster passing game with some decent rushing stats to make him a low-end QB2.

Tier 7

Blake Bortles (vs. Titans)
Jay Cutler (at LAC)
Trevor Siemian (vs. DAL)

This is the last of the semi-playable QB options this week.

Tier 8

DeShone Kizer (at BAL)
Jacoby Brissett (vs. AZ)

Kizer has sneaky upside with his dual-threat playing style that’s still overlooked in fantasy somehow, but this week I don’t like his chances on the road against the Ravens. The Colts have no other choice but to throw Brissett into the fire despite having just a couple of weeks to learn the playbook. Nothing would be worse for them then starting Scott Tolzien again, as he was an absolute trainwreck Week 1.

Tier 9

Deshaun Watson (at CIN)
Mike Glennon (at TB)
Josh McCown (at OAK)
Brian Hoyer (at SEA)

Watson could very well pop up as a solid QB2 from time to time this year – just not this week. He’s dealing with an ankle issue on a short week, which curbs his rushing upside. Four of his pass catchers – including all three tight ends – will miss this week due to concussions. The Bengals could catch him forcing the ball to DeAndre Hopkins too much, so his interception(s) potential this week is quite high.

Running Backs

Tier 1

In Memoriam: David Johnson

On this day we had to lay to rest David Johnson to the IR. The fantasy gods took his season too soon. We wish you a fast and speedy recovery. DJ, you will be missed. In his honor, we will send him off one last time in Tier 1 to pay our respects, as no other RB deserves it this week.

RIP David “DJ” Jerome Johnson (Week 1 ’17 – Week 1 ’17)

Tier 2

Le’Veon Bell (+1, vs. MIN)
Ezekiel Elliott (at DEN)

No one has seen their stock shoot as high in one week as Elliott. It’s quite possible he’s able to avoid the six-game ban while the No. 1 RB in fantasy football got placed on IR. The second part particularly gave a significant boost to both Bell’s and Zeke’s fantasy value by default. The dropoff at RB is even more severe now with so few studs left. This week I like Elliott’s matchup more, but Bell always has the slight edge due to his pass game involvement.

Tier 3

Melvin Gordon (vs. MIA)

MG3 is yet another player who gets a huge boost in value with DJ on IR. He is one of the few true workhorse backs and gets a decent enough matchup at home to have this Tier all to himself.

Tier 4

Kareem Hunt (vs. PHI)

I’ll be perfectly honest with you – I was expecting to be low on Hunt compared to everyone else this week. I am giving him very modest projections, and he is still somehow all the way up to my No. 4 RB. Week 1 will no doubt be his best game of the season and it would be silly to chase those numbers. It’s also just as foolish to just write it off as a fluke and still make the case that his pass blocking will somehow derail his fantasy value. He clearly has the talent, and now he also has one of the clearest paths to bankable usage in the league.

Tier 5

Todd Gurley (vs. WSH)
Leonard Fournette (vs. TEN)
Marshawn Lynch (-1, vs. NYJ)
Jay Ajayi (at LAC)
LeSean McCoy (+1, at CAR)

Gurley should get just enough touches, and the Rams should move the ball just enough this week to get him scoring chances. He comes off as such an odd mixture of being both a low-ceiling/low-floor player and also a top-five RB for the week, but here we are.

Lynch seems like the safest bet for a rushing TD. I’m a bit worried about the Raiders being up by so much in the second half that they save Lynch in garbage time. The first half will be a fight for Carr & the WR/TEs to score the early TD(s) before Lynch.

Tier 6

Devonta Freeman (vs. GB)
Jordan Howard (at TB)
Dalvin Cook (at PIT)
DeMarco Murray (at JAC)
Ty Montgomery (at ATL)
Lamar Miller (at CIN)

Quite a few of these RBs have stud backups who curb their upside a bit. They all make safe, high-floor plays most weeks except for Montgomery. Despite his fantastic Week 1 finish, I think we need to handle him with caution still. His playing style and health/build are going to make for a very volatile season. This week sets up nicely, though, with a potential shootout in a dome, so roll him out with confidence.

Tier 7

C.J. Anderson (vs. DAL)
Mike Gillislee (-1, at NO)
Christian McCaffrey (+1, vs. BUF)
Carlos Hyde (at SEA)

Patriots RBs and especially Gillislee are going to be headaches all year. When Gillislee is scoring TDs he will make his owners very happy, but unfortunately I feel like that’s all he offers. This week, there should be enough TDs to go around that I’d say he’s the second-most likely RB to rush for a TD behind Lynch.

Tier 8

Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. CHI)
Terrance West (vs. CLE)
Rob Kelley (-1, at LAR)
Jonathan Stewart (vs. BUF)
Isaiah Crowell (at BAL)
LeGarrette Blount (-1, at KC)
Ameer Abdullah (at NYG)
Tevin Coleman (vs. GB)
Javorius Allen (vs. CLE)
Mark Ingram (vs. NE)
Kerwynn Williams (at IND)
Bilal Powell (+1, at OAK)
Tarik Cohen (+1, at TB)

Rodgers saw a sneaky boost in value with the Bucs forced to take their bye Week 1. He was always going to provide three games of value until Doug Martin returns.

Cohen was the No. 1 waiver-wire add this week. I think people are hyping him a bit too much simply based on his eye-popping Week 1 performance, but there’s no question has the talent to be a league winner, especially in PPR. He still has Howard to contend with for touches, and I view Cohen as a big-play dependent RB3/Flex (in PPR he is a solid RB2). It’s going to be very hard for a potentially very bad Bears team to maintain two RBs as viable fantasy options.

We really don’t know how the Cardinals will handle their backfield in life after DJ. I liked Williams a lot, but the additions of DJ Foster and Chris Johnson certainly curb his outlook for now. Despite the crowded situation, I think they give Williams first crack this week. It is such a good matchup against the Colts that I think it unfairly puts him in a position to run away with 14-18 touches going forward if he performs well. However, he is too risky to plug into starting lineups just yet since all 32 teams play this week.

Tier 9

Paul Perkins (vs. DET)
Frank Gore (-1, vs. AZ)
James White (+1, at NO)
Joe Mixon (vs. HOU)
Matt Forte (at OAK)

This tier is a sight for sore eyes. It’s a bit too soon to give up on Perkins since the Giants really do need him to step up in order to become a more balanced team. Mixon seems stuck in a brutal three-way RBBC at the moment. If they start to slip in the standings, I think they start giving him more opportunities going forward.

Tier 10

Andre Ellington (at IND)
Charles Sims (vs. CHI)
Chris Thompson (at LAR)
Derrick Henry (at JAC)
Darren Sproles (+1, at KC)
Thomas Rawls (vs. SF)
Giovani Bernard (vs. HOU)
Jamaal Charles (vs. DAL)
Adrian Peterson (vs. NE)
Theo Riddick (+1, at NYG)
Alvin Kamara (vs. NE)
Shane Vereen (vs. DET)

This tier can certainly be described as the rear end of RBBCs. Some of them have vulture TD upside (Henry/AP), while others have insane PPR upside (Sproles/Thompson/Riddick/Kamara/Vereen). You don’t want to have to be starting any of these guys in standard leagues this early in the season.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Julio Jones (vs. GB)
Antonio Brown (vs. MIN)

Week 1 was a weird opening week for WRs. Mike Evans was on a bye, Beckham was out, T.Y. Hilton didn’t have Andrew Luck, and quite a few had tough matchups. Order has been restored this week as we get a prime Julio eruption spot. I still love AB this week despite the tougher matchup on paper. He is borderline matchup-proof, and the Steelers are at home.

Tier 2

Mike Evans (vs. CHI)

There will be plenty of buzz on Evans after this week, I’m sure.

Tier 3

Jordy Nelson (at ATL)
Brandin Cooks (at NO)
Tyreek Hill (-1, vs. PHI)
Odell Beckham Jr. (vs. DET)
A.J. Green (vs. HOU)

Nelson and Cooks have fantastic matchups in what should be shootouts. Don’t let any narratives such as “Trufant might shadow Jordy” shy you away from using him in DFS. I see a growing trend of giving too much weight to a single defensive player in a lot of cases.

Beckham should return this week but may ease into 2017 a bit. Obviously, this makes it difficult to make backup plans with him playing Monday night, so start planning ahead. Green owners don’t need to care about Dalton throwing picks if he keeps feeding Green the ball.

Tier 4

Doug Baldwin (vs. SF)
Michael Thomas (vs. NE)
Amari Cooper (vs. NYJ)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. IND)
Demaryius Thomas (vs. DAL)
Terrelle Pryor Sr. (at LAR)
DeAndre Hopkins (at CIN)
Michael Crabtree (vs. NYJ)
Keenan Allen (vs. MIA)
Sammy Watkins (-1, vs. WSH)

Baldwin and Cooper have cupcake matchups on paper. However, I’m very worried about game flow for each of them. If their respective teams get up early there will be less of a need to pepper them with targets. They are still rock solid WR1s due to their high TD odds this week.

Tier 5

Kelvin Benjamin (vs. BUF)
Alshon Jeffery (at KC)
Adam Thielen (at PIT)
Stefon Diggs (at PIT)
Golden Tate (+1, at NYG)
Jeremy Maclin (vs. CLE)
T.Y. Hilton (vs. AZ)
Dez Bryant (at DEN)
John Brown (-1, at IND)

Thielen and Diggs did not disappoint in their dream matchup against the Saints at home. They are still WR2 plays this week, but I think people need to temper their expectations with them a bit. It will be very hard for both of them and Kyle Rudolph to all post strong numbers each week. We may see a “musical chairs” pattern with any one of them putting up a dud nearly every week, I’m afraid.

Hilton desperately needs Luck to return, as he is nothing more than a low-end WR2 with a scary low floor in the meantime.

Tier 6

Emmanuel Sanders (vs. DAL)
Chris Hogan (at NO)
Davante Adams (at ATL)
Martavis Bryant (vs. MIN)
Randall Cobb (at ATL)
DeSean Jackson (vs. CHI)
DeVante Parker (at LAC)
Pierre Garcon (at SEA)
Jarvis Landry (at LAC)
Ted Ginn Jr. (vs. NE)
Marqise Lee (vs. TEN)
Allen Hurns (vs. TEN)
Tyrell Williams (vs. MIA)
Cooper Kupp (vs. MIA)
Mike Wallace (vs. CLE)

The WR3/Flex tier is surprisingly good this year as there are many options with serious upside in this group. Two notable additions to this tier this week are Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, who will surely see a huge boost with Allen Robinson on IR. We need to start taking Cooper Kupp seriously, but at the same time a lot of the hype is a bit overblown due to a one-week sample size. I see him settling in as a decent Flex player that will be valuable once bye weeks/injuries start to thin out the player pool.

Tier 7

Rishard Matthews (at JAC)
Corey Coleman (at BAL)
Paul Richardson (vs. SF)
J.J. Nelson (-1, at IND)
Eric Decker (at JAC)
Jamison Crowder (at LAR)
Nelson Agholor (at KC)
Corey Davis (at JAC)
Jordan Matthews (at CAR)
Jermaine Kearse (vs. OAK)
Mohamed Sanu (vs. GB)
Kenny Golladay (at NYG)
Tyler Lockett (-1, vs. SF)
Brandon Marshall (vs. DET)
Donte Moncrief (vs. AZ)
Sterling Shepard (vs. DET)
Robby Anderson (vs. OAK)
Marvin Jones Jr. (at NYG)

Nelson is a player who may not see a high snap or target count, but is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. I think he makes for a good desperation upside play for people lacking in options at their Flex slot, who see themselves as underdogs in their matchups. Jalen Ramsey is a bit banged up, but the Jaguars are going to need him this week to help slow down what is a suddenly deep Titans WR corps. Rishard/Decker/Davis will be a similar musical chairs situation, where any given week one of them could erupt while another could put up a dud. Matthews still has the safest floor as he gets the best combo of target/TD shares of the three.

Tier 8

Taylor Gabriel (-1, vs. GB)
Brandon Coleman (vs. NE)
Zay Jones (at CAR)
Breshad Perriman (vs. CLE)
Kendall Wright (at TB)
Kenny Stills (at LAC)
Marquise Goodwin (at SEA)

Coleman put up a dud last week filling in for Willie Snead, who is serving a 3-game suspension. He is a darkhorse sleeper pick this week in DFS, though, as I think he will be under-owned despite his massive frame that can allow him to win contested balls, especially in the red zone.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski (at NO)

Do not overlook Gronk in DFS this week after his Week 1 dud. I cannot emphasize this enough, as he is heading into what should be a shootout.

Tier 2

Travis Kelce (vs. PHI)
Greg Olsen (vs. BUF)
Jimmy Graham (vs. SF)
Jordan Reed (at LAR)

This entire tier was underwhelming in Week 1, but I look for them to get back on track this week. I’m just a tad worried about Olsen’s short-term value as Newton shakes of the rust on his repaired shoulder. He typically saves his best for home games, though, which is where they have their battle with the Bills.

Tier 3

Zach Ertz (+1, at KC)
Kyle Rudolph (at PIT)
Delanie Walker (at JAC)
Martellus Bennett (at ATL)
Coby Fleener (vs. NE)

I don’t expect Ertz to slow down this week in what would normally be a tough matchup for TEs on paper. The Chiefs lost Eric Berry for the season, and he was key in shutting down opposing TEs (See: Gronk Week 1), so I am not downgrading TEs facing them for the foreseeable future. Another TE who saw their stock rise after Week 1 was Fleener. I like him even more this week in a potential shootout, and he should continue to see an extra target or two while Willie Snead is out.

Tier 4

Tyler Eifert (vs. HOU)
Jared Cook (vs. NYJ)
Charles Clay (at CAR)}
Austin Hooper (vs. GB)
Hunter Henry (vs. WSH)
Zach Miller (at TB)
Jason Witten (at DEN)
Julius Thomas (at LAC)

You have to keep in mind the TD dependent nature of this tier of TEs. They likely aren’t going to post 70-plus receiving-yard games, so a lot of their bigger weeks are only going to come when they score. Because of this you have to be very careful not to play Whack-a-Mole by playing the TE who had a good game the week before, only to have their luck flipped the very next week.

In particular, this could be the case for someone like Hunter Henry. He failed to record a stat in Week 1. You have to keep in mind that Rivers only threw for 192 yards, and with the number of mouths they have to feed, someone was going to be a massive bust. It certainly hurts Henry’s long term value that his floor is a goose egg. I think he gets involved again this week against Miami and should still be rolled out if you do not have access to any TE ranked in the top-15 this week.

Tier 5

Antonio Gates (vs. MIA)
Cameron Brate (vs. CHI)
Evan Engram (vs. DET)
Jesse James (vs. MIN)
Jack Doyle (vs. AZ)
Eric Ebron (at NYG)

There is still high-upside potential this far down at TE due to the high percentage of TDs they can score any given week. Last week Jesse James scored twice, but I feel like rolling him out this week when you have access to a top-15 TE is a lot like walking across a frozen pond. Don’t let the illusion fool you as it can backfire big time if you aren’t careful.

Kickers

Tier 1

Stephen Gostkowski (at NO)

Tier 2

Matt Bryant (vs. GB)
Giorgio Tavecchio (vs. NYJ)
Blair Walsh (vs. SF)
Justin Tucker (vs. CLE)
Phil Dawson (at IND)
Wil Lutz (vs. NE)
Mason Crosby (at ATL)

Tier 3

Cairo Santos (vs. PHI)
Dan Bailey (at DEN)
Graham Gano (vs. BUF)
Younghoe Koo (vs. MIA)
Nick Folk (vs. CHI)
Greg Zuerlein (vs. WSH)
Chris Boswell (vs. MIN)

Tier 4

Dustin Hopkins (at LAR)
Ryan Succop (at JAC)
Matt Prater (at NYG)
Randy Bullock (vs. HOU)
Jake Elliott (at KC)
Adam Vinatieri (vs. AZ)
Aldrick Rosas (vs. DET)
Brandon McManus (vs. DAL)
Jason Myers (vs. TEN)
Kai Forbath (at PIT)
Cody Parkey (at LAC)
Stephen Hauschka (at CAR)
Connor Barth (at TB)

Tier 5

Ka’imi Fairbairn (at CIN)
Robbie Gould (at SEA)
Chandler Catanzaro (at OAK)
Zane Gonzalez (at BAL)

Defenses

Tier 1

Baltimore Ravens

Tier 2

Seattle Seahawks
Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals
Arizona Cardinals
Oakland Raiders

Tier 3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers
Tennessee Titans
New York Giants
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Dallas Cowboys
Pittsburgh Steelers

Tier 4

Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams
Miami Dolphins
Denver Broncos
Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots

Tier 5

Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers
Indianapolis Colts
Atlanta Falcons
Detroit Lions
Buffalo Bills
Washington Redskins
Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers

Tier 6

New York Jets
New Orleans Saints