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START/BENCH: Week 2

The first week of the 2018 NFL season is in the books, and with it the first week of fantasy football. Some things went just as predicted. Los Angeles Rams tailback Todd Gurley had a good game. So did Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. And New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

But, as is the case every single year, other things did not. Top four picks David Johnson (Arizona) and Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas) were bailed out by late touchdowns. Kansas City Chiefs tailback Kareem Hunt wasn’t so lucky. And Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper spent Week 1 on the side of a milk carton.

It was a typical Week 1 – equal parts exciting and maddening.

It was also hit-and-miss from the perspective of this column. The folks who took my advice to spot-start New Orleans wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. were pretty happy. The ones who rolled out Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford at my behest? Not so much.

Um … oops?

Here’s the thing about Week 1. Yes, there are some takeaways from last week’s slate that we can reasonably expect to hold true throughout the season – like the Buffalo Bills being awful. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t going to score 48 points every week, and Ben Roethlisberger probably isn’t going to be a turnover machine all season long.

Early in the season, it’s crucial not to make snap judgments. With the occasional exception, the smart play is to trust in your draft prep and stay the course. There aren’t any big changes to the “Studs” list this week. I’m not crowning anyone just yet. And you won’t see this writer throwing in any towels on anyone.

Well, not yet, anyway.

Enough blathering. Let’s get after it. Gotta either keep the winning streak going or get back to .500.

We won’t even talk about which one I’m doing more of.

Stupid Week 1.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Case Keenum, Denver (vs. Oakland)

Keenum threw three interceptions in last week’s win over Seattle, but he told ESPN’s Jeff Legwold he’s excited about what the Broncos are capable of. “Couple of bad reads, just trying to make the big play when we don’t have to,” Keenum said. “I realize that, it’s something I’m going to fix, something I’ll be better at. It’s not exactly how you’d draw it up. But I’m really excited how good this football team can be, [if] we take care of the ball, I take care of the ball – those [interceptions] are all on me – we’re going to be really hard to beat.”

Yes, Keenum threw three interceptions. But he also passed for 329 yards, tossed three touchdown passes and finished Week 1 as the seventh-ranked quarterback in Sharks League Scoring. The Oakland Raiders looked like a team that’s going to struggle mightily to rush the passer in 2018 against the Los Angeles Rams, and with plenty of time to throw Keenum should be able to put together another solid stat line.

ROLL THEM OUT

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota (at Green Bay)

Cousins played relatively well in his Minnesota debut, passing for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a win over San Francisco. Week 2 brings a Lambeau Field showdown with Aaron Rodgers and a matchup with a Green Bay secondary that surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks a year ago.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia (at Tampa Bay)

I guess you could qualify this as a spot-start double-dip for Week 2. Tampa Bay may have won last week’s wild shootout with New Orleans, but their woeful secondary didn’t look one bit better in the Big Easy than it did in ranking dead last in the NFL in pass defense a year ago. This is going to be a matchup to exploit all season long, and Foles should be a cheap daily fantasy (DFS) play.

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SIT THEM DOWN

Tom Brady, New England (at Jacksonville)

Yes, the Golden Boy is a stud. He may well be the greatest quarterback to ever lace them up. Last week against Houston he threw three touchdown passes and didn’t appear to even really break a sweat. But Brady’s playing with a depleted receiving corps on the road against the best pass defense in football. If ever there was a week to consider sitting him, this is it.

Derek Carr, Oakland (at Denver)

Carr struggled mightily against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, tossing three interceptions without a touchdown pass. That he managed to finish 25th in fantasy points among quarterbacks speaks to just how many dud outings there were under center last week. This week’s matchup on the road at Denver isn’t a favorable one.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. Baltimore)

After something of a shaky start last week Dalton got it together, passing for 243 yards and two scores against Indianapolis. However, not only do Dalton and the Cinicinnati Bengals get one of the stingiest fantasy matchups for quarterbacks last year in Baltimore, but the game is at night. That means prime time Andy Dalton. And prime time Andy Dalton is bad.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.