There is a lot of turbulence in Week 1 of the NFL season, and some games simply did not come close to playing out the way we though they would. It’s difficult to determine a game script this early and while we got a few right, we missed on a few that we’d like back.
With the first week behind us, there is some evidence as to how defenses will be deployed and how offenses will attack the opposition. We’ll lean on our defensive guru Aaron Rudnicki to help navigate the waters of Week 2 to determine this week’s matchups, both good and bad, between the wide receivers and their counterpart in the defensive secondary.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay ($7000)
Bischoff: The Buccaneers defense was torched by a rookie quarterback last Sunday, and while Cooks struggled in Week 1, he did so against a formidable secondary in Arizona. Quarterback Drew Brees will have more time this week and Cooks is going to make some big plays against the poor Buccaneers secondary.
Rudnicki: Tampa’s defense was pretty much a complete disaster last week and allowed the Titans to score at will on them. Drew Brees and his favorite target should have a field day here as well. Cooks was only targeted 8 times a week ago and had a quiet outing while matched up primarily with Patrick Peterson. Things should come much easier for him against the Tampa corners this week.
John Brown, WR, Arizona @ Chicago ($5100)
Bischoff: The Bears are simply not going to pressure quarterback Carson Palmer via the pass rush, and Palmer will sit back in the pocket to pick apart a bad secondary. There will be some shots down the field to Brown and he’ll be a big part of the game plan as a field stretching receiver.
Rudnicki: Brown is no longer a part-time player and he is likely to become a focal point of the Cardinals passing game this week. The Bears corners have some potential to turn things around eventually, but they struggled in the preseason and didn’t look much better against the Packers when they gave up 3 TDs. Alan Ball may have a size advantage over John Brown, but that’s about it and I expect Brown’s quickness to be the difference as he breaks at least one or two big plays.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas @ Philadelphia ($3300)
Bischoff: The loss of receiver Dez Bryant is a tremendous blow to the Cowboys offense, but quarterback Tony Romo will continue to make plays, and Beasley will be a nice part of what they’ll do going forward. He should easily give teams three times value at this price, and I’d consider that a minimum.
Rudnicki: With Dez Bryant out of the lineup, I expect the Eagles to focus most of their attention on Witten and Terrence Williams. That should leave Beasley working out of the slot as Romo’s most reliable option. The Eagles have major question marks at the slot corner position, and this matchup should make Beasley one of the safer plays you will find this week.
Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore @ Oakland ($6000)
Bischoff: The Ravens had a surprisingly poor performance on offense in Week 1 and they look to get going this week against the Raiders on the road. The Raiders looked like a bad defense at home last week and the Ravens should have no issues putting points on the board, and I could see Smith making a few gigantic plays this week. I don’t love the possible script of this game, but there’s enough meat on the bone even in the first half that Smith is a nice play at this price.
Rudnicki: I expect Smith to be matched up quite often with D.J. Hayden, who is possibly one of the worst cover corners in the league. The Bengals didn’t pick on him as much as they could have because the game got out of reach early, but this is exactly the type of matchup that Smith should feast on.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia vs. Dallas ($7100)
Bischoff: We saw last week how the Eagles would deploy Matthews and Bradford can’t take his eyes off of him. That’s a great thing in this full-PPR format, and it’s realistic to expect a bunch of receptions as we saw the rapport that he and Bradford already have together.
Rudnicki: The Eagles primarily use Matthews out of the slot so he may not match up with either of the Cowboys starting corners that often. That likely means he’ll be facing a third corner or safety a lot of the time, and that’s a matchup that he should be able to win consistently. The price is high, but I think he has a shot at being the highest scoring WR this week.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago @ Arizona ($4500)
Bischoff: Bennett is an intriguing play this week as he’ll be a safety valve for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, a player that should be heavily pressured by a defensive line and blitzers. Bennett will pick up a bunch of receptions and help move the chains for a somewhat potent Bears offense.
Rudnicki: I fully expect Patrick Peterson to limit the chances for Alshon Jeffery on the outside, and that should make Bennett the primary receiving option. He has a huge size advantage over Tyrann Mathieu, and Deone Buchanon is not known for his cover skills. Among the elite fantasy TEs, Bennett appears to be the best value this week.
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis @ Washington ($3000)
Bischoff: Cook looks like a very reliable option for quarterback Nick Foles, and he gets a nice matchup this week on the road versus a banged up secondary. He showed that he was an integral part of the offense against a superior opponent last week and at this price, he could easily be a three-to-four times value.
Rudnicki: Washington lost their starting strong safety last week, and it didn’t take long for Miami to start going after his replacement with Jordan Cameron. Cook caught all 5 of the passes thrown his way last week against Seattle, and should have similar success against a much weaker defense here.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago vs. Arizona ($7500)
Bischoff: Jeffery goes up against a very strong unit on the road in Arizona this week and I can’t see him making enough plays to warrant his price. Factors that make this matchup even gloomier are his calf injury and the potential for the Cardinals defensive line to smother Cutler.
Rudnicki: Jeffery is apparently recovered from the calf injury that sidelined him during the preseason, but this is a matchup that most daily players will want to avoid. The Cardinals will most likely allow Patrick Peterson to shadow him in man coverage. While the single coverage might seem appealing, Peterson is good enough to make them think twice and I expect the Bears to have more success using their other options this week.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati vs. San Diego ($7500)
Bischoff: The Chargers showed last week that there is a formula to take away a No. 1 receiver, and it was fully on display against Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. The Chargers played fantastic on defense in Week 1 and the price for Green is just too much to pay.
Rudnicki: The Chargers corners helped shutdown the Lions star receivers last week, while A.J. Green had a decent outing in a blowout win over the Raiders. While the game should be much closer this week, the matchup is going to be much more difficult for Green. At this price, I think there are much better options to choose in setting your lineup.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis vs. New York Jets ($4600)
Bischoff: Moncrief went off last week when Colts No.1 receiver T.Y. Hilton went off with a knee injury and he’ll be added to a bunch of rosters this week, but I want nothing to do with him this week as he could face Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. That’s not a recipe for success.
Rudnicki: The Colts are likely to be without T.Y. Hilton this week, so I imagine many daily players will rush out to select Moncrief in their lineups. I think there’s a good chance, however, that he winds up seeing a lot of time matched up with Darrelle Revis and that’s generally not a recipe for success.