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RED LIGHT/GREEN LIGHT: Week 2

Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a 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 of the NFL Week 2 game profiles below, 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 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.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Browns Ravens
Quarterback 14th 30th
Running Back 30th 21st
Wide Receiver 12th 26th
Tight End 2nd 29th
Defense/Special Teams 5th 17th
Vegas Line: Ravens -9
Vegas Over/Under: 38.5
The Ravens D/ST is a strong play against a rookie quarterback whose offensive line allowed 7 sacks in Week 1. Despite Cleveland’s success in limiting the Steelers’ rushing attack o an NFL-low 43 yards last Sunday, Terrance West should be fed on the ground in a game where the Ravens are 9-point favorites, as the Ravens continue to ease the burden Joe Flacco’s troublesome back.
DeShone Kizer appeared light years ahead of any other Browns quarterback in recent memory against Pittsburgh. His rushing upside gives him a decent floor as well, despite the difficult matchup. With Danny Woodhead (hamstring) on IR, Javorious Allen should slide right in as the Ravens’ pass-catching back, and will see enough receiving volume to be considered FLEX-worthy. The Ravens have a historically stout rush defense, but Hue Jackson showed last week that he will continue to feed Isaiah Crowell even if the game script goes south.
Ravens CBs Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr allowed just 109 yards to receivers last week, making Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt off the radar for me. The Ravens aren’t going to push Joe Flacco if they don’t have to, so their game plan should most likely revolve around running the ball and playing defense as 7.5 point Vegas favorites. Outside of a long touchdown, Jeremy Maclin was mostly silent last week, and also figures to see a minimized role in Week 2 due to a run-heavy game plan. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman have similar usage concerns as well.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Bears Buccaneers*
Quarterback 11th 15th
Running Back 15th 9th
Wide Receiver 18th 16th
Tight End 1st 23rd
Defense/Special Teams 15th 15th
Vegas Line: Buccaneers -7
Vegas Over/Under:
43
Jacquizz Rodgers should be fed plenty in game where his team is favored by 7. In 2016, Rodgers averaged 23.4 touches per game in five starts. Cameron Brate is the next tight end in line after the Bears were victimized for 128 yards by Austin Hooper in Week 1. The Bears also allowed the third-most passing yards last week, making Jameis Winston a solid QB1 for this contest. The Buccaneers D/ST could be a useful streaming option as the Bears will struggle to put up points.
The Bears actually did an admirable job of containing Julio Jones in Week 1, and held Mike Evans to the exact same 4-66-0 line when these two teams battled in 2016. Jordan Howard should still receive enough carries to be useful, but if last week was any indication, Tarik Cohen is going to eat heavily into Howard’s snaps, especially on passing downs. Look for Jameis Winston to test the Bears deep with DeSean Jackson, who roasted them last year for 5/114/0 as a member of the Redskins.
Down Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, Kendall Wright is the last man standing in the Bears’ receiving corps. He needs to show more than 3-34-0 to be worthy of fantasy consideration though. Zach Miller also figures to benefit from the Bears’ lack of quality receiving option, but it’s only a matter of time before he suffers his annual injury as well.

*Note: Since the Buccaneers did not play Week 1, the rankings reflect the team’s 2016 performance from Weeks 1-16.

Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Vikings Steelers
QB 16th 7th
RB 20th 23rd
WR 14th 16th
TE 6th 13th
D/ST 30th 21st
Vegas Line: Steelers -6
Vegas Over/Under:
 45.5
Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings’ secondary effectively shut down the New Orleans passing attack for much of their Week 1 tilt, but Antonio Brown gets the green light each week until he proves otherwise. Despite last week’s dud, Le’Veon Bell can be expected to get back on track. Minnesota allowed only 60 rushing yards to the Saints, but gave up 9 catches for 74 yards to RBs. Don’t overthink Ben Roethlisberger, and start him in home contests.
It’s a shame Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen can’t face the Saints every week, as the Steelers did not allow any pass-catcher to exceed 53 yards in Week 1. Fun fact about Thielen: the receiving stats from his last 5 games are 4-101, 0-0, 12-202, 1-7, 9-157. If history continues, Thielen is due for a 2-12 output this week. Sam Bradford should also find the going a bit tougher outside the comfort of U.S. Bank Stadium. With 25 touches in the season opener, it’s clear the Vikings want Dalvin Cook to be their workhorse, but the Steeler’s defense is fresh off allowing 2.3 yards-per-carry (YPC) in Week 1. Don’t expect a ton of yards from Kyle Rudolph, but he is as a good a bet for a score as anyone on the Vikings when they get down into the red zone. Pittsburgh’s D/ST is a decent play, as they should be able to pressure Sam Bradford more consistently than New Orleans did.
Martavis Bryant had a rough Week 1 outing (2-14-0), and is a risky start against the Vikings’ stingy secondary. I’m not chasing Jesse James‘ two touchdowns from last week, as he should take a back seat in the Steelers’ passing game more often than not. This is another contest where the Vikings’ D/ST needs to be shelved. Pittsburgh averaged 28.3 points per game at home last season.

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.