6:23 AM ET
AJ MassESPN Staff Writer
Fantasy football, baseball and college basketball contributor.
Author of book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here.”
So much changes from week to week around the NFL, and we’re here to make sure you’re on top of it all heading into Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season.
The weekly fantasy football cheat sheet provides a rundown of the best tips from all of the fantasy football content that ESPN has posted over the last seven days. You’ll find answers to the biggest start/sit questions of the week and other pertinent matchup advice from our team, including Field Yates, Mike Clay, Eric Karabell, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Matt Bowen, Seth Walder, Al Zeidenfeld, Eric Moody, Liz Loza, Daniel Dopp and ESPN Insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, plus all of NFL Nation. It’s all the best advice in one handy article.
Here’s what our experts are saying about Week 2 in the NFL:
Should you believe in Week 1 standouts?
• Week 2 ESPN Fantasy staff rankings
• Karabell: Fantasy trade value index
• Karabell’s Week 2 superflex ranks
• Field Pass: Lamb, Packers WRs
• The Playbook for Week 2
• Last-minute pickups
• Karabell: Week 2 players to watch
Playing the matchups:
• Best, worst matchups by position
• Key Week 2 WR/CB matchups
• Bowen’s upgrades, downgrades
• Week 2 mismatches to exploit
• DFS advice for Week 2
Just because an unexpected name or two makes an appearance in NFL box scores and ESPN SportsCenter highlight reels in Week 1, that doesn’t mean fantasy managers should rush to the waiver wire in order to claim these previously unwanted — and even potentially unknown — players. Sure, sometimes a sensation that seemingly comes from nowhere actually does become a fantasy factor for the rest of the season. However, more often than not, they prove to be one-week wonders who will simply fade into the remote recesses of your memory, like Frisman Jackson. Remember him?
Our NFL Nation team took a look at some of the more eye-opening outings from Week 1 and weighed in as to whether or not we’ll still be talking about them down the road.
Is Taysom Hill going to be a thing on a weekly basis? Five touches isn’t a ton, but enough to be a viable fantasy TE! Hill was able to accomplish a ton in just 17 snaps, and while that was third among the team’s TEs, he essentially put the offense on his back in the first quarter. Hill showed he was something special several years ago in his “do-everything” role, so it would be surprising if the Saints don’t continue to go to him repeatedly as he evolves as a tight end. — Katherine Terrell
Did you see enough from James Robinson to label him the lead of a potential committee? Absolutely. I wasn’t expecting much out of Robinson after he spent nearly all of camp and the preseason doing only individual work because of his conditioning. What kind of shape would he be in? Turns out he was fine: He scored twice on 12 touches and averaged 6.0 yards per carry. Travis Etienne Jr. had four carries and two catches, and while I expect him to get more work, Robinson is going to be the lead back. — Michael DiRocco
David Montgomery held a significant snap edge, but did Khalil Herbert earn more of a split? Week 1 showed how different the Bears’ rushing attack can operate with Luke Getsy calling plays. Montgomery is undoubtedly Chicago’s lead rusher (team-high 17 carries vs. San Francisco), but Herbert showed he can supply the offense with a good dose of variety, rushing nine times for 45 yards (5.0 yards per attempt) and a 3-yard touchdown. This split should carry over on a more consistent basis week to week than it did last year, when Herbert’s workload skyrocketed after Montgomery was sidelined by a knee injury (Weeks 5-8) but dwindled the rest of the season (22 total attempts Weeks 9-17). — Courtney Cronin
Antonio Gibson led the Commanders in rushing and receiving yards. He almost lost his job this summer. Should we feel good about him hanging on to this role or potentially look to move him after the strong season debut? There’s no doubt Gibson will continue to have a key role with this offense, though the carries likely will diminish when Brian Robinson returns. However, even after it became clear Robinson had taken over as the primary ball carrier, the Commanders still planned to showcase Gibson in the passing game out of the backfield. They love getting him the ball in space. The hard part with this offense will be knowing who from week to week will have big games, as Washington features more playmakers than in the past. But Gibson will continue to get touches. — John Keim
Should anything be read into the 11 targets Donovan Peoples-Jones saw (the only Browns player with 25-plus receiving yards)? The Browns’ passing attack is not worth the fantasy investment at the moment, outside maybe wideout Amari Cooper, who remains the clear No. 1 target for QB Jacoby Brissett despite Sunday’s numbers (Cooper had only three catches for 17 yards but forced a pass interference in the end zone that led to a TD). Even with 11 targets, Peoples-Jones finished with only six receptions for 60 yards. He did have a terrific game, highlighted by multiple diving and difficult grabs. But given how limited Cleveland’s passing attack appears to be without QB Deshaun Watson, nobody outside Cooper can be counted on to deliver consistent fantasy production. — Jake Trotter
How should you respond to the Dak Prescott injury?
Although the Dallas Cowboys are trying to put an optimistic spin on things, the reality may well still be that the team will have to be without Dak Prescott for close to two months after the quarterback had surgery on his right thumb on Monday. Perhaps Prescott will make it back sooner than currently expected, but what does his absence mean for the fantasy value of the Cowboys WR options in the short term? And, for those fantasy managers now with a gaping hole in their lineups, whom should they target as a replacement?
Matt Bowen suggests that Carson Wentz of the Washington Commanders could be a decent stopgap, especially in Week 2: “You will get some roller-coaster moments in any game involving Wentz, who threw two interceptions in Week 1, as his physical tools can play to his detriment at times. However, Wentz also dropped four touchdown passes on the Jaguars defense on Sunday, finishing with 313 yards passing and 27.72 fantasy points. Getting a healthy Curtis Samuel back in the mix for Washington is a boost, and I believe we will see more targets for rookie Jahan Dotson. … With a Week 2 matchup versus the Lions, I’ll be first in line to stream Wentz as my starter in my home league, as I look to replace Prescott.”
Field Yates also likes Wentz, but goes on to compare him to another NFC option: “Much of the same logic applies to New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston, who was QB6 in Week 1, has three excellent receivers and plays on a team that had an identical pass rate in neutral situations as the Commanders. Wentz gets the Week 2 edge against the Lions, however, as Winston is a fade against a tough Buccaneers defense.”
In terms of the Week 2 situation under center for Dallas, Yates is not all that enthusiastic: “CeeDee Lamb‘s value takes a hit with Cooper Rush under center, as while his target share should remain robust (he had 11 in Week 1), Rush is an unquestionable downgrade from Prescott. … Lamb’s talent and projected target share keep him as a fantasy starter, but the path to a top-five wide receiver season — which seemed at least plausible in the preseason — is gone now. I’m not as concerned about TE Dalton Schultz, as his average depth of target was just 6.0 yards in Week 1. The throws to Schultz are infrequently difficult ones, so he should be impacted less.”
Another expert, another NFC name to consider. Here’s Eric Karabell’s take on the available QB pool: “Los Angeles Rams starter Matthew Stafford has built-in equity after his 41-TD performance and Super Bowl last season. He is not on the hot seat unless his elbow is hurting him and the team isn’t sharing the info. … For New England Patriots starter Mac Jones, dealing with back spasms, and Jacksonville Jaguars starter Trevor Lawrence, dealing with development, fantasy managers are not patient, but with the depth at this position, they don’t need to be.”
Karabell also serves up a very solid bit of advice to those of you thinking you might want to roll the dice by trading for the injured Prescott now, in the hopes of stashing him until his return: “Do not trade for Prescott as if he will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback upon his return. Too many things can happen. It could be four weeks, it could be eight. And if you desire to trade for Washington’s Wentz after his four-TD performance against the Jaguars, good luck with that. We have so much evidence how that’s a bad idea, from past injury to performance. Be careful with San Francisco’s Trey Lance, too. The franchise claims it’s not close to returning to Jimmy Garoppolo, and perhaps the 49ers mean it, but they aren’t like the Jaguars with Lawrence. San Francisco can be only so patient.”
Is there nobody who will recommend an AFC name for our dear readers? Fear not, Tristan H. Cockcroft has one for you: “Matt Ryan (Colts, at Jaguars) needs to control the football more effectively than he did in the opener (4 fumbles, 1 lost), but a Jaguars matchup gives him good odds of keeping up the late-game momentum he showed.” He ranks Ryan’s Week 2 opponents as the 11th-best matchup for quarterbacks to exploit.
Looking for the latest injury news leading up to kickoff? Check out all of the Week 2 inactives here.
How will the San Francisco 49ers adapt?
The San Francisco 49ers are planning to be without RB Elijah Mitchell for about two months after the back suffered a sprained MCL in Week 1 action, with Jeff Wilson Jr. called into service to take over the bulk of the ground game. Mitchell’s injury will certainly force the team’s offense to make some adjustments, so fantasy managers are going to want to pay attention to how Kyle Shanahan and company tweak their plans.
Wilson has had bright stretches before, as he finished the 2020 season with back-to-back games with 20-plus fantasy points. Last season, Wilson wasn’t as efficient with his reps, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry with only eight targets total. That said, it’s an effective rushing attack and Wilson figures to handle 12-15 attempts per game until Mitchell returns. Given the presence of Deebo Samuel and Trey Lance as runners, the value for Wilson caps out as a flex play who will need a touchdown to catapult into an RB2 finish. — Yates
Jeremy Fowler echoes these sentiments for Week 2: [I see] Wilson establishing himself as a valuable RB2 or flex option. Mitchell’s injury elevates Wilson to the top of the 49ers’ depth chart, which is always a good place to be for easy rushing yards. Lance and Samuel combined for 21 carries in Chicago. Gotta think Wilson absorbs some of that workload against Seattle.
Beyond the impact of Mitchell’s absence on the run, there are bound to be some ripple effects on the team’s receivers. In Week 2, Mike Clay feels that a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks seems to be a very good spot for the 49ers to turn to the pass: “The Seahawks pulled off a surprising upset on Monday night, but concerns remain at the cornerback position. Both Jerry Jeudy (4-102-1 receiving line) and Courtland Sutton (4-72-0) came away with solid-to-good production against a Seattle defense that sat in two-high and Cover 3 looks on over 80% of pass plays. Seattle rolled with fifth-round rookie Tariq Woolen and journeyman Mike Jackson as its perimeter corners for a majority of the game, with veteran Justin Coleman handling the slot. Brandon Aiyuk (87% perimeter in Week 1) will mostly work against Woolen and Jackson. Samuel (81% perimeter) will get some run in the backfield, but he’ll see those two most often when playing receiver this week. Both pass-catchers can be upgraded for Week 2.”
Are the New York Giants for real?
The New York Giants have started every season since 2017 with an 0-2 record, so a Week 1 win against the Tennessee Titans was a long time coming for fans of the venerable franchise. Nobody is buying those playoff tickets just yet, but optimism certainly abounds for the team for good reason — on both sides of the ball.
On defense, as Seth Walder explains, there are multiple options to have a strong Week 2, beginning with LB Oshane Ximines: “This could transfer to Azeez Ojulari or Kayvon Thibodeaux if they play, but someone is going to benefit as an outside pass rusher going against Carolina this week. Not only did Baker Mayfield record a 12.5% sack rate in Week 1 after posting a career-worst 8.9% sack rate in 2021, but both the Panthers’ tackles struggled in pass protection. Taylor Moton and rookie Ikem Ekwonu tied to rank 62nd out of 65 tackles in the category.” Don’t be afraid to get this D/ST into your lineups.
Meanwhile, Al Zeidenfeld takes a liking to Saquon Barkley in his DFS selections: “Barkley was underpriced on DraftKings in Week 1 ($6,100) and I believe he’s still underpriced in Week 2. His workload is exactly as we had projected, with nobody to challenge him for snaps. In fact, he led the league in Week 1 with 83% of the snap share at running back. Carolina is an inefficient defense when it comes to stopping opposing running backs, the Giants are favored and get to play at home. Barkley is going to be one of the most popular players on the slate, regardless of position.”
When it comes to potential free agent pickups, Mike Clay has his eye on the Giants huddle as well: “Sterling Shepard produced 71 yards and a score on 41 snaps in his return from a torn Achilles and has seen six-plus targets in 38 of his last 46 games tracing back to Week 1 of 2018. Shepard may prove to be a sneaky-great post-Week 1 waiver add and is closing in on flex value. For now, though, Kadarius Toney is not on the flex radar after playing on only seven snaps in Week 1.”
Quick hits, starts and sits
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Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: It’s really not the five Week 1 turnovers with Burrow. Sometimes, on an NFL Sunday, things go south, and when the wheels come off the tracks, forget about it. However, I have Burrow as my QB11 this week because of Micah Parsons (league-leading 57.1% pass rush win rate in Week 1) and that Dallas front, plus defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s ability to send situational pressure. The rebuilt Cincinnati offensive line struggled in pass protection last week against Pittsburgh. Without knowing the status of wide receiver Tee Higgins at this moment (concussion), I see Burrow as a fringe QB1 this Sunday. — Bowen
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts: Pittman is dealing with a quad injury and was limited in practice (this week). His absence on Sunday would be a significant blow to the Colts’ passing game against the Jaguars. Alec Pierce was also limited in Thursday’s practice with a concussion. Fantasy managers should expect Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin to take over starting wide receiver duties if both Pittman and Pierce are ruled out. Running back Nyheim Hines could also see more targets. — Moody
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens: Dobbins has been limited for about a month as he works his way back from a torn ACL. He will likely make his season debut in Week 2 against the Dolphins. However, fantasy managers shouldn’t count on Dobbins to handle a full workload. It is best to view him is as a low-end flex option this week. — Moody
Christian Kirk, Jaguars: Kirk really impressed me in Week 1. He was paid to be “the guy” in that WR corps, and he delivered in almost every way imaginable: 6 receptions, 117 yards on 12 targets for 17.7 fantasy points. His 31% target share in Week 1 after months of offseason debate about what he’ll look like gives me the courage to say that we’re just seeing the beginning of what Kirk will be in this Jags offense. — Dopp
Curtis Samuel, Commanders: Seeing Samuel healthy and making an immediate impact is huge. He’s a player I was high on after a breakout 2020 campaign, especially as he was reuniting with Ron Rivera in Washington. I thought he might have been cast aside after Dotson (whose talent I’m also enamored by and who I had listed as my WR5 before last April) was drafted in the first round. Seeing Samuel’s versatility used in Week 1 — particularly while Robinson is sidelined — is giving off big flex vibes. He’s my WR29 heading into the Commanders’ matchup at Detroit. — Loza
Robbie Anderson, Panthers: Anderson’s Week 1 stat line — five receptions, 105 yards receiving, one touchdown — was inflated by a 75-yard score. However, Anderson was targeted by Mayfield eight times in the game against Cleveland. We know Anderson brings a vertical element to any NFL pass game, and Mayfield is an aggressive thrower who will challenge opposing secondaries on both play-action and dropback concepts. Up next on the schedule are the Giants, with a defense that registered a blitz rate of more than 26% in Week 1, so there also could be some isolation opportunities for Anderson outside of the numbers. Fade balls, straight go routes there. In deeper, non-PPR formats, Anderson is worth a look as a WR3 this week. — Bowen
?Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders: Carr was 20th (through Sunday) in fantasy QB scoring in Week 1 as (other than Davante Adams) the Raiders’ aerial attack didn’t look as if it has hit its stride yet. But I watched the Cardinals try in vain to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last Sunday, and while Carr is no Mahomes, I don’t see how Arizona puts up much resistance against a Raiders team looking to get on track. If you waited until late in your draft and got Carr as your starting QB, or if you play in a two-QB league and were counting on him, don’t despair just yet. A big year is still in store for Carr and his pass-catchers. — Graziano
Source: ESPN NFL