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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 2

Welcome back for the Week 2 edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, your matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each NFL Week 2 game profile below, the players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Note: Fantasy points allowed statistics utilize the Fantasy Sharks default PPR scoring system.

Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Chiefs Steelers
Quarterback 3rd 7th
Running Back 1st 23rd
Wide Receiver 8th 17th
Tight End 14th 21st
Defense/Special Teams 31st 4th
Vegas Line: Steelers -4.5
Vegas Over/Under: 53.5
green-light This game has the highest over/under of any contest this week, so both the Chiefs and Steelers offenses should be off to the races. Playing at the safe confines of Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) should shake off last week’s dud against a Chiefs defense that was gashed for 424 passing yards last week. Roethlisberger has yet to practice this week, though so far there has been little concern as to his availability. Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster are going to have their way with an under-manned Chiefs secondary. James Conner finished last Sunday as the overall RB2, and is in line for an explosive encore performance. Tyreek Hill comes off an insane Week 1 performance that saw him rack up 171 total yards and three all-purpose scores on 9 touches, while Pittsburgh’s top CB Joe Haden (hamstring) could be limited. Patrick Mahomes second career NFL start couldn’t have gone much better, and he’ll look to keep the party going against Pittsburgh’s questionable pass defense.
yellow-light Travis Kelce was only able to reel in one pass for six yards last Sunday, though was targeted six times. Kelce should have more success, though it may take some time for him and QB Mahomes to get better acquainted. Kareem Hunt may be in for another so-so outing given the Steelers held the Browns’s backfield to just 3.3 yards-per-carry last Sunday. Sammy Watkins was held to a quiet 3-21-0 against the Chargers, though actually played more snaps than teammate Tyreek Hill. With Hill likely commanding the majority of Pittsburgh’s attention, Watkins should be able to break a big play or two.
red-light Not only is second-round rookie James Washington behind AB and Juju for playing time, but Justin Hunter as well. Spencer Ware only saw the field as much as he did last week because the Chiefs were up big. Vance McDonald (foot) has resumed practicing fully, though it’s uncertain how much use he’ll see after having been sidelined for over a month. McDonald’s impending return squashes any usefulness Jesse James may have had this week after the latter posted a 3-60-0 line aganist Cleveland last week.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Dolphins Jets
Quarterback 28th 23rd
Running Back 14th 28th
Wide Receiver 28th 6th
Tight End 6th 29th
Defense/Special Teams 20th 26th
Vegas Line: Jets -3
Vegas Over/Under: 
43.5
green-light Even with the return of DeVante Parker (finger), Kenny Stills should remain the Dolphins’ no. 1 wideout. The Jets allowed three Lions’ wide receivers to combine for 18-247-1 last Monday night. As expected Quincy Enunwa functioned as Jets QB Sam Darnold‘s safety valve on short/intermediate routes against Detroit, a role which the former Nebraska alum should continue to occupy so long as the team decides not to feature a traditional tight end in the passing game.
yellow-light Kenyan Drake led the Dolphins with 17 touches last week while handling a 74 percent snap share, and the Jets run defense didn’t exactly have to work very hard against Detroit last Monday evening. Isaiah Crowell (60% snap share) and Bilal Powell (40% snap share) received exactly 10 touches each last Monday night. Crowell is the better bet among the two Jets backs to find the end zone, while Powell is the more polished pass catcher. Is the Jets defense that good? Or were the Lions just that bad on Monday Night? I’m going to wager moreso on the latter, though the Jets D/ST makes for a sensible streamer playing at home against a low-octane Dolphins offense.
Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant all appear to be in a three-man rotation behind Stills, which is likely to get even more complicated with the healthy return of DeVante Parker. Robby Anderson was targeted just once (a 41-yard touchdown) against the Lions, and will likely be the one squaring off the most with Dolphins CB Xavien Howard. Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) is expected to return, and it remains to be seen how he fits back into the offense after Anderson and Enunwa played reasonably well on Monday night.

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Eagles Buccaneers
Quarterback 25th 2nd
Running Back 22nd 3rd
Wide Receiver 15th 3rd
Tight End 24th 11th
Defense/Special Teams 12th 32nd
Vegas Line: Eagles -3.5
Vegas Over/Under: 
44
With a 9-147-1 line last Sunday, Mike Evans reminded everyone why he’s one of the NFL’s best receivers, and now gets an Eagles defense that is fresh off allowing Julio Jones to go bonkers against them in their season opener. It was nice to see Nelson Agholor garner 10 targets last week, though he’ll need QB Nick Foles to take more shots downfield in order to turn them into more than the 33 receiving yards he had against Atlanta. Expect the Eagles’ pass game play calling to be a bit more aggressive given the Bucs are missing their top two CBs due to injuries. Zach Ertz had one of his worst games in recent memory in Week 1, dropping multiple catchable balls that he usually could come down with in his sleep. Similar to Agholor, however, Ertz also saw 10 targets, and will continue being one of Foles’ primary reads.
Already a player on the rise due to a strong preseason, Chris Godwin could have the no. 2 wideout role all to himself if DeSean Jackson (shoulder/concussion) can’t suit up. While I had an inkling Ryan Fitzpatrick was in for one of his patented Fitz Magic games last week, I didn’t expect 400+ passing yards and 5 total touchdowns. Expect Fitzpatrick to come back down to Earth this week, but the connection he’s displaying with his wideouts appears to be for real. Jay Ajayi was a tale of two halves against Atlanta last week, piling up 50 of his 62 rushing yards and both scores after halftime. While the Tampa Bay defense was gouged by the Saints’ backfield in Week 1, a majority of the damage came via the air, and so far it appears Ajayi’s involvement in the pass game is going to be minimal. Darren Sproles appears locked in as the Eagles’ primary change-of-pace/receiving option out of the backfield after splitting snaps dead evenly with Ajayi last week. Mike Wallace put up a bagel on three targets in his Eagles debut, though it was hardly his fault given his quarterback’s accuracy issues. Wallace has a better chance of scoring a long one this week as the Tampa Bay DBs are a much weaker group than Atlanta’s.
Peyton Barber is in for a tough go against an Eagles defense that held the Falcons backfield to just 55 yards on the ground and 3.7 yards-per-carry. O.J. Howard dominated snap percentage 67-38 over Cameron Brate, though it appears QB Fitzpatrick prefers throwing to his wideouts over the tight ends. Howard’s fantasy value likely makes a jump once/if Jameis Winston (suspension) gets back under center. A preseason sleeper of mine, Corey Clement handled only 5 touches while playing just 18 percent of the Eagles’ running back snaps in Week 1, leaving the former undrafted free agent as nothing more than a handcuff. That said, Darren Sproles is currently dealing with a knee issue, so Clement could be a candidate for an expanded role of the former sits.

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed (Weeks 1 through 16)
Position Browns Saints
Quarterback 21st 1st
Running Back 4th 31st
Wide Receiver 9th 1st
Tight End 13th 17th
Defense/Special Teams 10th 30th
Vegas Line: New Orleans -9
Vegas Over/Under:
49
The Saints may have suffered a crushing loss last week, though that didn’t prevent Drew Brees from finishing as the overall QB2. Expect Brees to keep the party going in this home contest against the Browns middling pass defense that gave up 335 passing yards to the Steelers last week. Michael Thomas is coming off career highs in catches (16) and receiving yards (180) from last week’s shootout against the Bucs, and looks to be in-sync as ever with Brees. Jarvis Landry is the Browns no. 1 wideout until further notice with Josh Gordon working his way back to being a full-time player. It wasn’t pretty, but Tyrod Taylor finished as the Week 1 QB6 thanks to his 77 yards and a score on the ground. Taylor is going to have a busy afternoon as he attempts to keep pace with the Saints’ high-powered offense. Alvin Kamara should have no problems against a Cleveland rush defense that was trampled by James Connor a week ago.
Josh Gordon caught just one pass last week, but made it count as it was a 17-yard scoring strike. Gordon is still getting acclimlated to his new quarterback after spending much of training camp away from the team. Carlos Hyde managed 62 yards and a score against the Steelers, though his yards-per-carry average was a miniscule. The Browns running game could be phased out early if the Saints erupt with a large lead early. In that event a blowout does begin to occur, Duke Johnson should be called upon more than he was in Week 1 to snag passes out of the backfield. With a 5-68-1 on six targets last week, Ted Ginn made it clear he still has a grip on the Saints’ no. 2 wideout job.
Last week I suggested monitoring Cameron Meredith and TreQuan Smith’s usage in the Saints Week 1 matchup to see which one starts pushing Ted Ginn for snaps, and it appears the correct choice was neither, as Meredith was inactive and Smith was on the field for just 12 plays. David Njoku reeled in just three of seven targets for 13 yards against Pittsburgh, and faces a Saints defense that was one of the best at defending tight ends a season ago, while also allowing just two catches to the Tampa Bay tight ends last week.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.