Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Philadelphia)
Raise your hand if you expected Ryan Fitzpatrick to finish as the best fantasy quarterback in Week 1. Fitzpatrick was practically flawless in the Buccaneers’ win over New Orleans, completing 21-of-28 passes for 417 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and also chipped in with a rushing touchdown as well. While he’ll likely cede the starting quarterback role to Jameis Winston when he returns from suspension, after his dominant performance this past week there’s no reason to think he can’t have another successful game in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard all played well in the victory and Fitzpatrick will look to make another big statement against the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles in Week 2.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington (vs. Indianapolis)
A late signing at the end of the preseason, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer dazzled in his first game with his new team, Washington. Adrian Peterson had 26 carries for 96 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and added two receptions for 70 receiving yards out of the backfield. Without any legitimate threat behind him on the depth chart, the path to a consistent workload on a week-to-week basis is ripe for the taking. Washington hosts the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, which is a favorable matchup for Peterson considering the Colts are one of the worst teams when it comes to defending the run. Considering Peterson is on the wrong side of 30 and has logged a cross-country road trip for miles during his career, it’s essential to monitor the situation and see how he holds up over the next few weeks. For now, though, Peterson is an RB2 with RB1 upside and should be locked into your starting lineup for the time being. The key words there are “time being.”
Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (at Tampa Bay)
Jay Ajayi silenced many of his critics (at least for right now) in an excellent Week 1 performance on Thursday night. Ajayi tallied 62 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns to propel his team to victory. As far as snap counts go, Ajayi and Darren Sproles each saw 29 snaps apiece, while Corey Clement saw just 13 snaps. It seems the Eagles are going to utilize Darren Sproles more than we all expected them to. Ajayi will continue to cede passing downs to Sproles or Clement but looks to be the primary between-the-tackles runner and goal-line back. His Week 2 matchup against Tampa Bay is a juicy one. They were 30th in the NFL last season with 17 rushing touchdowns allowed and allowed an average of 117.5 rushing yards per game, which ranked 23rd. In Week 1, the Tampa Bay allowed a whopping 40 points to New Orleans. This is a prime opportunity for Ajayi to build upon his Week 1 performance and set the tone for the remainder of the season.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Kansas City)
Le’Veon Bell, who? With Bell sitting out and refusing to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers, James Conner shined in his debut and ran wild over a pretty good Cleveland Browns run defense. The second-year running back out of Pittsburgh had 31 carries for 135 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, five receptions for 57 receiving yards and was a fantasy stud in the process. As long as Bell is not around, Conner should be viewed as a must-start fantasy running back with RB1 upside. Even if Bell returns, you should still hang onto Conner. With Bell not being involved in any football activities, he is more prone to injury since he hasn’t been taking hits and putting in the necessary work to remain in prime physical shape. My point is – Conner should be rostered for the duration of the season because if something happens to Bell when he does come back, Conner will go right back to being the must-start fantasy option he is currently is. Keep him on your roster, no matter what. If Bell remains on the sideline this week, plug Conner into your starting lineup for a Week 2 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs that just allowed 5.2 yards per carry, 14 receptions, 189 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown to the Los Angeles Chargers running backs in Week 1.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos (vs. Oakland)
A popular mid-round sleeper pick of mine, Emmanuel Sanders had a phenomenal Week 1 against Seattle, tallying 10 receptions, 135 receiving yards, one touchdown on 11 targets. His 11 targets led all Broncos pass catchers, which is a positive sign for his short and long-term fantasy outlook. Case Keenum has been fond of targeting his slot receiver in the past, and if Sunday was any indication, it should be an excellent year for Emmanuel Sanders. His Week 2 matchup against the depleted Oakland defense opens up all kind of opportunities for more big plays. He should be viewed as a WR2 with low-end WR1 upside going forward.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers (vs. Minnesota)
The fantasy community was in shock when Aaron Rodgers was carted to the locker room in the first quarter of Sunday night’s game. Fortunately, Rodgers returned in the second half and overcame a big deficit to beat Chicago, 24-23. Randall Cobb was superb in this game, tallying nine receptions on 10 targets for 142 receiving yards and a touchdown, including a spectacular 75-yard touchdown to take the lead late in the game. Cobb’s 52 snaps were second on the team to Davante Adams’ 59 snaps. Jimmy Graham also was on the field for 59 snaps but had just two receptions for 8 yards on four targets. So much for Graham being a fantasy stud with Rodgers. I know, it’s early, but still. I never understood the Jimmy Graham hype this summer.
Cobb looks to be revitalized after a couple of subpar seasons, and if he continues to see nine-plus targets a week, he should be considered a mid-level WR2 with high-end WR2 upside. A tough matchup looms in Week 2 against a formidable Minnesota defense. Jamaal Williams and the Packers running backs will struggle to run against that front-seven, so look for Rodgers to carry the team with his arm.
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Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
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Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions