Week 2 Fantasy Football Recap And Week 3 Projections: Satisfying Surprises and Distressing Disappointments
In Week 2, there were definitely some awe-inspiring performances, as well as some all-time duds. Let’s recap!
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – 49ers
Jimmy GQ carried modest expectations into a Week 2 matchup at Cincinnati. In Week 1, Garoppolo went 18/27 for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception, as the defense largely led the way to a 31-17 win. In Week 2, Garoppolo went 17/25 for 297 yards and tossed three touchdown passes to go with just one interception. The sixth-year pro connected with Marquise Goodwin, Raheem Mostert, and Deebo Samuel for touchdowns. Jimmy G was projected to score 15.9 points heading into the game (21st among Quarterbacks) but racked up 22.7 (6th) in a strong showing.
In Week 3, the 49ers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2), fresh off a devastating season-ending injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While this injury primarily affects the offense, the defense hasn’t exactly been stellar to begin 2019. In two games, Pittsburgh has given up 61 points (6th-most), 640 passing yards (4th-most) and six passing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-most). Garoppolo is well worth consideration for your Week 3 lineups.
Russell Wilson, QB – Seahawks
Quietly, the ninth quarterback taken off the board (on average) in drafts is having an excellent start to the season. Wilson went 29/35 (almost 83% completion percentage) for 300 yards, rushed for another 22, and tossed three touchdown passes. He found Will Dissly twice and tossed a 28-yard touchdown to D.K. Metcalf. Ultimately, Wilson led the Seahawks to an important road win and improved to 2-0 on the young season. He was projected to score 17.9 points (12th among quarterbacks) but ended up with 24.2 (5th-most).
Next week, the Seahawks will host the New Orleans Saints (1-1), who just lost quarterback Drew Brees for a lengthy amount of time. The Saints defense has performed well to begin 2019 but has proven to be immensely vulnerable to deep passes. The Saints have given up three passes of 40+ yards to date, tied for 3rd-worst in the NFL. Also, they are giving up 9.5 yards per completion, tied for 5th-worst in the league. Wilson has completed 78% of his passes thus far for 496 yards while throwing five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s averaged about 11.5 yards per completion, which makes him a strong starting candidate for Week 3.
Lamar Jackson, QB – Ravens
2019’s top-scoring quarterback was at it again on Sunday, pulverizing the hapless Arizona defense. Jackson completed 24/37 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Additionally, he was Baltimore’s leading rusher on the day, amassing 16 carries for 120 yards.
In Week 1, the second-year pro made headlines by throwing for 324 yards with five touchdowns against the Dolphins. While the Week 2 passing numbers weren’t quite as prolific, Jackson was again outstanding and led the Ravens to a 23-17 win over the Cardinals. Jackson seems to have developed a rapport with Tight End Mark Andrews (17 targets in two games) and Wide Receiver Marquise Brown (18 targets in two games). Though he was projected to score the 4th-most points among quarterbacks in Week 2 (19.9), Jackson didn’t disappoint, posting 30.9 points, trailing only Patrick Mahomes among all quarterbacks. He now has 64.4 points on the season, tops among all signal-callers.
It’s important to note that as good as Jackson has been in 2019, he’s played against two of the worst teams in Miami and Arizona. I think he’s legitimate, but it’ll be interesting to observe how he plays when going against top-tier defenses. This won’t be the case in Week 3, as Jackson gets to take on a Kansas City pass defense that has been extremely vulnerable since the beginning of 2018 and allowed Gardner Minshew to complete 88% of his passes in Week 1. However, Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest environments for visiting teams, which should make it a tough test for Jackson. Start him, but don’t necessarily expect 30+ points.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB – Bears
Not that Trubisky is a starting fixture on most fantasy rosters, but his start to 2019 has been disappointing, to say the least. In two games, the third-year quarterback has completed less than 60% of his passes for 348 yards. He has yet to throw his first touchdown pass and has tossed an interception. Trubisky took a big step forward in 2018 as he led the Bears to an NFC North title.
In Week 1, the entire Bears offense was shut down in a 10-3 loss to Green Bay. In Week 2, the Chicago rushing attack and defense led them to a road win against Denver. Trubisky was a non-factor, passing for 120 yards without a touchdown or interception. He was projected to score 16.8 points and walked away with 5.6 (last among QBs who didn’t get hurt or benched). Trubisky ranks 28th at the position in fantasy points through two weeks.
Trubisky takes on a porous Washington defense in Week 3, but you can’t realistically consider starting him. He shouldn’t be rostered in 1-QB leagues until he can string together a few solid performances. For now, it appears that the Bears will continue to try to win via a strong defense and a solid rushing game, led by rookie David Montgomery.
Cam Newton, QB – Panthers
Battling an ankle issue, the former MVP has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 88 attempts. Equally troubling is his lack of usage in the running game. After averaging 7.6 carries per game from 2011-2018, Cam has rushed for -2 yards on just five carries through the first two games of 2019. He has 58 rushing touchdowns in his career, which has gone a long way towards establishing his presence as a reliable fantasy option.
In Week 2, Newton was projected to score 19 points (7th-most among quarterbacks) against Tampa Bay but completed 49% of his passes without a touchdown pass. He did throw for 333 yards but on 51 attempts (only 6.5 yards per completion). Cam walked away with 11.3 points, 6th-worst among quarterbacks who did not get injured or benched.
In Week 3, the Panthers will travel to Arizona to take on a suspect Cardinals defense that has given up 309.5 passing yards per game (6th-worst in the NFL) and five passing touchdowns (tied for 3rd-worst) with zero interceptions. It’s an intriguing matchup, to say the least, and would make me pause before benching or getting rid of Newton. My eyes tell me that he doesn’t look the same thus far in 2019, but I don’t believe in giving up on a player after two weeks. His health is also worth monitoring leading into Sunday’s matchup, as Newton did not practice on Wednesday. If he plays and stinks against a terrible Arizona secondary, I’ll start considering other options. Not quite yet though.
Deshaun Watson, QB – Texans
Despite a looming Week 2 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, there was optimism among Watson owners. The third-year quarterback had accounted for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in Week 1 against New Orleans, and the Jaguars defense had been gashed at home by Patrick Mahomes. Though Houston escaped with a narrow victory, Watson had an unusually quiet game. He completed 16/29 passes for 159 yards and did not throw a touchdown pass. Even with a two-yard touchdown run, Watson finished with just 12.9 fantasy points, well short of his projected mark of 18.7. A week after rushing for 40 yards against the Saints, Watson carried the ball four times for only five yards.
In Week 3, the Texans travel to L.A. to take on the Chargers. An injury to Derwin James has adversely affected the L.A. pass defense, as they have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 75.4% of pass attempts (3rd-worst in the NFL) with multiple passing touchdowns in both games. Despite the off-game for Watson, he’s almost matchup-proof. 12.9 points will be the exception, not the rule for the young quarterback.
Aaron Jones, RB – Packers
Owners were filled with doubts about Jones after a poor Week 1 outing in which he ran for just 39 yards on 13 carries and caught one pass for zero yards against the Bears. A Week 2 matchup with a Minnesota defense that had held a dynamic Atlanta offense to just 73 yards on the ground in Week 1 further fueled the doubters. However, Jones delivered in a big way, carrying the ball 23 times for 116 yards with a touchdown, and adding four catches for 34 yards. The Packers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead courtesy of Aaron Rodgers but leaned on the ground game the rest of the way. Sunday marked a career-high in carries for Jones (the first time he had ever rushed 20 or more times in a game). Jones was projected to score 14.2 points (18th among Running Backs) but finished with 25 (2nd).
It’s an encouraging sign for the 24-year-old, who has an inviting Week 3 matchup against a Denver defense that has allowed 251 yards on the ground through two games and three scores while limiting opponents to less than 200 yards per game and only one touchdown through the air. Feel comfortable slotting Jones in as your RB2 or Flex.
Austin Ekeler, RB – Chargers
Count me among those who thought that Ekeler would gradually be surpassed by Justin Jackson. Through two games though, Ekeler has been a vital cog in L.A.’s offense, carrying the football 29 times for 124 yards (4.3 YPC) and two touchdowns, while hauling in 12 passes for 163 yards and an additional two scores. He leads all Flex players with four touchdowns. On the heels of a 39.4-point Week 1 performance, Ekeler entered Week 2 with a strong projection of 16.8 points, 9th among Running Backs. His 23.3-point output in Week 2 was 4th-best at the position.
In Week 3, the Chargers will take on a Houston defense that is giving up 6.0 yards per carry, tied for worst in the NFL. Ekeler has proven that he is worthy of a start due to the prominence of his role on the ground and through the air. Start him with confidence until/unless Jackson overtakes him, or there is any news regarding an eventual return of Melvin Gordon.
Dalvin Cook, RB – Vikings
I thought that Cook would have a big year if healthy, but man has he been great. Through two games, Cook ranks second among running backs with 54.1 fantasy points. In Week 1, the Green Bay Packers held the Bears to a mere 46 rushing yards on the road in Chicago. In Week 2 at Lambeau Field, the Packers defeated the Vikings 21-16 but allowed Dalvin Cook to gash them on the ground for 154 yards on 20 carries (7.7 yards per carry). Additionally, he added three catches for 37 yards. Cook paced the position at fantasy points in the week with 28.1, shattering his projection of 15.9.
In Week 3, the Vikings will host the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has been effective against the run in the early going, allowing the 5th-fewest rushing yards (126), 5th-fewest yards per carry (2.8), and have yet to allow a rushing score. However, you’re obviously not sitting Cook at this point. From sheer volume alone, he is a good bet to provide at least RB2 numbers even in the worst of matchups.
What a poor outing for Cincinnati’s duo in the backfield. Mixon was questionable going into the matchup due to an ankle injury, played, and racked up 17 rushing yards on 11 carries. Many owners played Bernard in the hopes of Mixon being limited. However, Bernard carried the football six times for only six yards and was a non-factor in the passing game, totaling one reception for seven yards. Cincinnati hasn’t had any luck on the ground through the first two weeks, gaining just 59 yards on 33 carries. Owners who started either running back were extremely frustrated, as Bernard tallied 2.3 fantasy points (compared to a projection of 11.7) and Mixon added 5.7 points (projection of 14.8).
The Bengals will travel to take on a 2-0 Buffalo squad with an imposing defense. Through two games, the Bills feature a top-10 rush defense that has only given up 30 points (5th in the NFL), though this was against poor offenses in the Jets and Giants. In Buffalo, against a mediocre Bengals squad, the Bills should be in a position to dominate defensively, which leaves Mixon, and especially Bernard as risky plays in that contest. Start other options if you have any available.
This one doesn’t require too much analysis. Both are elite talents at their position, and both had extremely poor (for their standards) Week 2 outings. Kamara was probably hurt by the injury to Drew Brees early in the 1st Quarter, as he went on to carry the ball 13 times for 45 yards while adding only one reception for 15 yards. This was only the second time that Kamara had been held to single-digit points in PPR scoring since his rookie season in 2017.
Meanwhile, McCaffrey had one of the least efficient games of his career, rushing 16 times for 37 yards and adding two catches for 16 yards. Tampa Bay’s game plan seemed to involve focusing on McCaffrey and making Cam Newton beat them through the air. Newton threw 51 passes but completed less than half of them and was unable to find the end zone.
Both Kamara (7.0 points) and McCaffrey (7.3 points) significantly under-achieved compared to their projections (20.8 points and 25.1 points respectively).
In no world is any owner benching either of these two stars. They’re among the most matchup-independent starters in the league. Carolina will take on a porous Arizona defense in Week 2, so McCaffrey should be a good bet to put up his usual 20+ points.
The Saints have a tougher task on the road in Seattle but expect Teddy Bridgewater to lean heavily on Kamara in what’s sure to be an imposing environment. Start both of these players with confidence next week, and every week thereafter.
Duke Johnson, RB – Texans
“The Duke” has been a popular Flex play through the first two weeks of the season, due in large part to a great deal of owner confidence in Deshaun Watson and the Houston offense. Though teammate Carlos Hyde played well in a Week 1 loss at New Orleans, Johnson also made his presence felt, totaling nine carries for 57 yards on the ground and four receptions for 33 yards through the air.
In Week 2, Johnson was effective on the ground but saw limited volume. He accumulated six carries for 31 yards and couldn’t haul in a reception. Much of Johnson’s fantasy value is based on his abilities as a receiver, so if he is only targeted once in a game, it is not an encouraging sign for owners. Duke’s output of a mere 3.1 fantasy points was significantly lower than his projection of 11.8.
Johnson gets a Week 3 matchup with a Chargers defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete roughly 75% of their passes, which bodes well for Johnson’s prospects. L.A has also allowed the 5th-most yards on the ground (297) and 4.9 yards per carry (tied for 10th-worst in the NFL). Though Johnson disappointed in Week 2, he did so against a solid Jaguars defense. Start him as your Flex and give him some time before giving up hope.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR – Broncos
“They” said that Sanders looked great in the preseason, after a lightning-quick recovery from a 2018 Achilles injury. I said to wait and make sure he still looked good after going through a full game. In Week 1, Sanders put up an excellent line of 5/86/1. In Week 2, he was even better, posting 11 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown against an elite Chicago defense. Through two weeks, Sanders is third at the position with 48.4 fantasy points. In Week 2 specifically, the longtime veteran totaled 28.8 points, thereby shattering his projection of 10.7 points. It’s safe to say that Sanders looks healthy and primed for a big season.
Sanders will face a tough task in Week 3 as the Broncos travel to Green Bay to face a Packers defense that has allowed only 458 yards through the air (9th-best), and just one receiving touchdown to date. Though the matchup is less than ideal, and Joe Flacco does not elicit confidence from fantasy owners, Sanders has developed into a reliable Flex play for the foreseeable future. He seems to have developed a rapport with Flacco and appears to be 100% healthy and in prime form.
Chris Godwin, WR – Bucs
Godwin was a popular breakout candidate going into this season, and thus far he’s lived up to the hype. In Week 1, Godwin hauled in three passes for 53 yards and a touchdown against what’s turned out to be a vastly improved San Francisco defense. In Week 2, his output more than doubled after posting a stat line of 8/121/1. Godwin amassed 26.1 fantasy points in the outing, shattering his projection of 14.4.
In Week 3, Tampa will host the struggling New York Giants, who have already allowed 642 passing yards and five touchdowns. I expect Jameis Winston to have a big day, which bodes well for Godwin. He’s a must-start this week, and probably every week moving forward. The Giants are a mess and Godwin will take advantage.
Kenny Golladay, WR – Lions
It’s pretty telling when the Lions put a mere 13 points on the board at home and Golladay still had a monster game. The 25-year-old was targeted 10 times and hauled in eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in a 13-10 victory over the Chargers. Golladay has scored in both 2019 games and has been targeted 19 times in that span. Matthew Stafford can be extremely pass-happy when he has trustworthy receivers, and Golladay has emerged as one such player. Golladay finished the day with 25.7 fantasy points, more than double his projection (12.4).
Detroit will play Philadelphia in Week 3. The Eagles are off to a 1-1 start but have featured one of the worst pass defenses in the league. In two games, the Eagles have given up 680 yards through the air (2nd-worst in the NFL) and six passing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-worst in the NFL). The Eagles also feature one of the better run defenses in the NFL. It’s likely that the Lions attempt to win a high-scoring affair with Matthew Stafford’s arm, which should mean big opportunities for Golladay. He’s a worthy start in any league.
Dede Westbrook, WR – Jaguars
Rostered in 86.1% of leagues on ESPN, Westbrook was one of the more popular waiver wire ads and late-round draft picks. Five catches for 30 yards and a touchdown in the season opener further encouraged owners to trust Westbrook with a start. Unfortunately, if you started him in a Week 2 matchup against Houston, you’re regretting it now. Westbrook hauled in only one catch for three yards in Sunday’s game. With only 1.3 fantasy points, Westbrook wildly underperformed his projection of 10.8.
Next on the slate for Jacksonville is a divisional matchup against Tennessee. The Titans have allowed the 2nd-fewest passing yards to date (365) and have already totaled four interceptions. This is a dangerous game for Gardner Minshew and Co, and unfortunately for Westbrook owners, he’s included in the “Co”. Stay away from starting him unless you’re truly desperate.
Robert Woods, WR – Rams
For the first time in what seems like forever, Woods didn’t receive 65% of Jared Goff’s pass attempts (I’m exaggerating, but it sure feels that way). In the game, Woods was only targeted twice, his lowest total since being targeted twice in a game against the Browns in December of 2016. Sunday was an extreme letdown for owners, who have come to rely on Woods’ stable role in a high-powered Rams offense. In a resounding victory over the Saints, the 27-year-old hauled in two passes for 33 yards and added one carry for nine yards. He accumulated 6.2 fantasy points on the day, well below his 14.4 projection.
In Week 3, the Rams will take on the 1-1 Cleveland Browns, fresh off a Monday Night Football victory over the New York Jets. The Browns have only allowed 385 yards through the air in 2019 (5th-best in the NFL), but this is largely due to them taking on the somewhat inept passing attacks of the Tennessee Titans and Luke Falk-led New York Jets. Don’t let a one-off poor performance worry you. Start Woods with confidence every week.
Deandre Hopkins, WR – Texans
To be clear, five catches for 40 yards isn’t a “bad” game. It’s just not what we’re used to seeing from the superstar wide receiver. Prior to Sunday, Hopkins hadn’t been held to less than 50 receiving yards and no touchdowns since Week 16 of the 2016 season. Expectations were somewhat tempered due to a tough matchup with Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars defense. However, owners penciling Hopkins in as a surefire WR1 were disappointed that he only totaled 9.0 fantasy points and fell significantly short of his 16.0 projection.
Does it matter? Hopkins is a top-five wide receiver and a young superstar. You’re starting him every week no matter the matchup. The Texans will visit the Chargers, and Hopkins is a good bet to put up his usual absurd stat line. Though I doubt this thought crossed your mind, don’t even think about benching him.
Mark Andrews, TE – Ravens
Apparently, Lamar Jackson Superstar Syndrome is contagious. While Jackson is pacing all NFL Quarterbacks in fantasy scoring through two weeks, Mark Andrews has done the same at the Tight End position. The second-year pro has caught 16 out of 17 targets on the year, totaling 220 yards and two touchdowns. He followed up an impressive 8/108/1 Week 1 outing with a remarkably similar 8/112/1 showing in Week 2. Andrews blew past his projection (9.5) for the second consecutive week by earning 25.2 fantasy points, best at the position.
A Week 3 tilt against a mediocre Kansas City defense should prove advantageous for Andrews owners. He’s a surefire TE1 until either he or Jackson cools off. Even if one of them cools off slightly, he’s a viable weekly option. Temper your expectations, as he won’t put up 25 points every week. However, he should be a solid starting option for the short term at least.
Will Dissly, TE – Seahawks
In a Week 2 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dissly displayed no ill-effects from a knee injury suffered in Week 1. The tight end caught five passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns. He’s only rostered in 2.2% of leagues on ESPN, so this information may be more useful for owners looking to pick up Dissly. The 23-year-old more than tripled his projection (6.5) by amassing 22 fantasy points on the day, good for 4th-most among Tight Ends.
In Week 3, Seattle will host a shorthanded Saints squad that just lost Drew Brees for an extended amount of time. The New Orleans pass defense has been middling so far, but Dissly is still a risky play as a middle of the road target in a run-first offense. However, Dissly has four touchdowns in six career games with Russell Wilson at the helm, so he’s an intriguing option to stash on your bench if you have room. Stick with a safer option for this week if you can.
Vance McDonald, TE – Steelers
Vance McDonald has been inconsistent in his fantasy career, to say the least. When Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday’s game with what turned out to be a season-ending elbow injury, McDonald owners were pessimistic. However, the veteran hauled in each of his seven targets for 38 yards and two touchdowns, good for 22.8 fantasy points. He easily surpassed his projection (9.0) and was 3rd-best among Tight Ends for the week.
In Week 3, the Steelers travel to take on a 49ers squad that has been much better than previously advertised. San Francisco’s pass defense has been excellent, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete only 59% of their passes for three touchdowns. It will be a difficult test for Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh offense. The pickings should be slim, so McDonald is best left on your bench in this one.
O.J. Howard, TE – Bucs
One of the first tight ends off the board in most drafts, Howard put up a lackluster performance in Week 1 and didn’t put up a performance at all in Week 2. In 60 snaps, Howard wasn’t targeted. Winston did not have a flagship game by any stretch of the imagination, passing only 25 times as the Bucs leaned heavily on Peyton Barber and the running game. However, Howard’s total lack of usage was a killer for many teams in Week 2.
As far as Week 3 matchups go, Howard and the entire Tampa Bay passing game has a favorable one. Tampa will host the New York Giants and Daniel Jones is making his first NFL start. New York is allowing quarterbacks to complete 71% of their passes (tied for 7th-worst) for 642 yards (3rd-worst) and have allowed five touchdown passes (tied for 5th-worst). They have yet to intercept an opposing quarterback. Many owners will presumably attempt to replace Howard after his ghastly outing, but I’d advise caution for at least another week. The Giants can’t seem to stop a nosebleed, and Winston played well last week in limited action. I think he has a big game, and Howard could easily be a part of that. Give him another week before you give up hope.
T.J. Hockenson, TE – Lions
One of the hot waiver wire pickups, Hockenson was a huge letdown for owners in Week 2. A week after going off for 25.1 fantasy points in his NFL debut, the rookie hauled in just one pass for seven yards on three targets. Granted, the Lions only put 13 points on the board, but Matthew Stafford threw 30 passes, 16 of which went to the duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. This dud was on the heels of a Week 1 masterpiece in which Hockenson caught six passes on nine targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. With 1.7 fantasy points, Hockenson fell well short of his projection (9.1).
As mentioned, the Eagles have featured one of the worst pass defenses and one of the best run defenses so far in 2019, so it’s likely that Stafford must air it out in Week 3 to give the Lions a chance to win. Any game in which Stafford must air it out could easily end up with 40-50 pass attempts. Hockenson is extremely talented, and his likely high snap count and the course of the game should result in a solid rebound performance. Keep the confidence going.
Jimmy Graham, TE – Packers
I featured Graham as a “sit” option in last week’s “start/sit” column and man did he prove me right. His Week 1 touchdown was fluky, and he wasn’t even targeted in a Week 2 victory against the Minnesota Vikings. For some reason, Graham was projected to score 8.3 points in the contest but put up a big ugly zero for any owner unlucky enough to start him.
As I said with Hopkins, does it matter? You can’t realistically trust Graham as a starting option unless you’re in a 2-TE league or are desperate. Add in the fact that the Packers will host the Denver Broncos, who have allowed only one passing touchdown (tied for 2nd-best in the NFL) and 189.5 passing yards (4th-best). Graham is an extremely poor play in Week 3 and beyond. Don’t even roster him let alone trust him enough to start him.
Green Bay Packers – D/ST
The Packers defense was one of the biggest surprises of Week 1, holding the Bears offense to 3 points and 254 yards total in Chicago. Green Bay followed this up with another solid performance in Week 2 against the Vikings. Dalvin Cook had a big day on the ground, but Kirk Cousins only completed 43.8% of his passes (14-for-32) and was picked off twice. The Packers also recovered two fumbles to bring the total number of turnovers to four for the game.
A Week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos shouts “high floor, low ceiling” to me. The Broncos don’t score a ton of points (only 30 through two games), but also don’t turn the ball over much and have only allowed five sacks, with one game coming against the imposing Bears defense. The Packers should be a safe option to start this week, but I also wouldn’t expect a monster outing from them. So, depending on what the rest of your roster is looking like, start them and take the probable points, or risk a higher-reward defense for the week.
Los Angeles Rams – D/ST
If you started the Rams defense in Week 2, you lucked out. In what was predicted to be a high scoring affair, Drew Brees was injured early in the 1st Quarter. From that point on, the Saints were out of sync offensively and were only able to muster nine points from three Wil Lutz field goals. The Rams also picked off Brees and had two sacks on the day. There was nothing flashy about the performance, but if you were bold enough to start the Rams against the Saints, you’re happy to be walking away with the #7 defense of the week.
The Rams face the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. The Browns are fresh off a dominating win against the shorthanded New York Jets. While the Cleveland offense has yet to truly get going, they still possess a dangerous ability to break out at any time. However, the Browns have allowed eight sacks over the first two weeks, while Baker Mayfield has thrown four interceptions in that span. Plug the Rams into your starting lineup and hope that the Browns don’t break out in this one.
Atlanta Falcons – D/ST
The Falcons are widely regarded as being a poor defensive team (see awful 2018 defensive metrics). However, they’ve had a decent start to the 2019 season. In what was expected to be a shootout with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Falcons only allowed 20 points, while generating three sacks, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions. The Falcons ended up in a tie for the #3 defensive ranking in fantasy for Week 2.
In Week 3, the Falcons draw a matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. Jacoby Brissett has only thrown for 336 yards through two games but has thrown five touchdown passes and one interception in that span. Marlon Mack has rushed for 225 yards on the ground, 3rd-most in the NFL. While the Colts offense may not be “dynamic”, they should protect the football and may limit feasting opportunities for Atlanta’s defense. There are probably better streaming options out there.
Dallas Cowboys – D/ST
While Dallas features an improving and high-flying offense, the defense still features legitimate stars, including Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. A Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins seemed promising, especially since Derrius Guice suffered an ACL injury in Week 1. While Dallas won comfortably, they failed to produce a turnover and registered only one sack on the day. Certainly not a “terrible” outing by the Cowboys, but certainly not great either.
What’s the best medicine for a sickly defense? Why a matchup with the Miami Dolphins of course! The Dolphins have been outscored 102-10 through two weeks, and just traded away one of their best defensive players in Minkah Fitzpatrick. The game is in Dallas and has “blowout” written all over it. The Cowboys will be one of the most popular streaming options in Week 3, and for good reason. Pick them up and start them with confidence.
Cincinnati Bengals – D/ST
It’s not that anybody realistically expected the Bengals to dominate on defense. However, they had a strong showing on the road against Seattle in Week 1, and there was hope that a matchup at home against a worse San Francisco offense was a viable streaming option for Week 2. Instead, the Bengals were walloped at home and allowed 572 yards of total offense. Not only did they fail to gain any points for owners, but if you’re in a league that allows negative points for defenses, odds are good that they earned you negative points. In a vacuum, it may not be a surprise that the Bengals performed poorly. However, given their Week 1 success and the Week 2 matchup, it certainly was a disappointment.
In years past, a defense playing against the Buffalo Bills would be a popular streaming option. However, a revamped Buffalo offense led by the improved Josh Allen and a promising rookie in Devin Singletary is no longer a cakewalk for opposing defenses. The Bills are 2-0 to begin the year with both wins coming on the road. They return to New Era Field and dismantle the Bengals. If you were ever considering streaming Cincinnati this week, don’t.
Denver Broncos – D/ST
The Broncos weren’t “bad” on defense in Week 2 either but didn’t do anything remotely interesting or useful. They held the Bears to 16 points and less than 300 yards of total offense in the game but failed to generate a turnover or a sack. Additionally, the Bears aren’t exactly a juggernaut on offense. If you started them you’re less than enthusiastic about such a vanilla performance.
A matchup against the Green Bay Packers should make you nervous. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t posted gaudy numbers to this point, but was extremely efficient in Week 2, before Green Bay played it rather conservatively and relied on the running game. At that point, Aaron Jones began to dominate the game. The game is in Green Bay, which makes it even riskier. Consider other streaming options this week.