Among the games on the Week 2 slate across the NFL, none is bigger than the NFC Championship Game rematch between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum. It’s a game loaded with offensive firepower and fantasy relevance — the last time these teams met in the regular season, they combined for 80 points and 737 passing yards.
Given that aerial onslaught, the cornerbacks from both teams are going to be very busy. And while Los Angeles’ Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters and New Orleans’ Marshon Lattimore are all considered among the best in the business at what they do, Eli Apple is … not.
However, in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
After trading for Apple during the season last year, the Saints decided against picking up the former first-round pick’s fifth-year option for 2020. Despite that setback, Apple told Amie Just of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he intends to show he’s worthy of a new deal in New Orleans.
“I’m always going hard, just go hard every day and do my best to learn from everybody and pick everybody’s brain,” Apple said. “But, of course, I’m going to come out and bring energy and just go hard and make plays.”
Playing opposite Lattimore in New Orleans, Apple tends to be targeted with regularity by opposing quarterbacks. As a matter of fact, Apple was targeted more times in 2018 (109) than any cornerback in the NFC.
Throw in that Apple’s a better tackler than he is in coverage and this week’s matchup with the Rams loaded receiving corps, and the former Ohio State standout is just about everything fantasy owners could ask for in a streaming option at his position.
If Apple’s not available in your IDP league, here are some other players to consider in Week 2.
Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas (at Washington)
Awuzie had just four tackles Sunday against the New York Giants, but he still managed to make a big splash by chasing down Giants tailback Saquon Barkley on a play where Awuzie was clocked at 22.81 miles per hour — the fastest timed speed on an NFL Play since 2017. According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the play earned Awuzie a “random” drug test from the NFL — and impressed teammate Byron Jones.
“I hate to admit it, man,’’ Jones said. “He likes to gas himself up enough. But he’s fast. He’s always been quick. I didn’t know he was that quick.’’
Washington doesn’t necessarily jump out at you as a potent passing attack, but it’s worth noting that Washington attempted 44 passes last week against Philadelphia. In a game where Washington is likely to be playing from behind, Awuzie could be a better IDP play than he appears to be at first glance.
Rasul Douglas, Philadelphia (at Atlanta)
The Philadelphia secondary didn’t have a great afternoon in Week 1, allowing 380 passing yards and three scores to veteran journeyman Case Keenum in a win over Washington. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com that just about everything that could go wrong on the back end did.
“I think you have a tendency when you give up a play to get a little less aggressive in coverage and then we gave up some underneath things,” he said. “But there was a lot of different things. Overall, we just didn’t, particularly in that first half, didn’t have a lot of sync. Our zones weren’t good, our man wasn’t good, our blitz wasn’t good — we were still stopping the run pretty good — but whether it was a combination of tackling or angles going to the ball or defending deep to short or playing tight coverage, it just didn’t look like us and didn’t look like what we’ll look like.”
Philadelphia used a rotation at cornerback against Washington, but it was Douglas who played the most of the lot at 55 snaps. If that holds true on Sunday night in Atlanta it could mean a fat stat line — no team in the NFL surrendered more fantasy points to cornerbacks in 2018.
Tre Flowers, Seattle (at Pittsburgh)
In just his second NFL season, Flowers has gone from college safety to fifth-round draft pick to starting cornerback with Seattle. As Aaron Fentress wrote for NBC Sports Northwest, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll believes that Flowers playing all over the secondary has helped him ascend to the starting lineup so quickly.
“He’s a real savvy, aware football player,” Carroll said. “It makes sense for him. The game’s not difficult for him at all and I think it’s because he’s been in the middle of so much. Kind of like a quarterback has a feel for the whole game different than other positions. Kind of how as he played, I felt like he had a real sense that could help him in making the transition.”
From an NFL perspective, Flowers had a rough Week 1 against Cincinnati. But from an IDP standpoint he was phenomenal, piling up 11 total tackles and 10 solos in a one-point Seattle win. Now Seattle heads east to face a Pittsburgh team that led the AFC in fantasy points allowed to cornerbacks in 2018.