I hope everyone had a better Week 1 than I did. Granted, it was nearly impossible to be worse. I went a miserable 4-11 last week with my picks. Travis Etienne left me hanging twice with missed touchdowns. I lost my survivor pick and a fantasy matchup because of a poorly-conceived 64-yard field goal attempt. It was bad. But, we pick ourselves up because it can’t get worse (I hope). The dawn of a new week is upon us. Hopefully, we can right the ship with our picks for Week 2 as well as win our fantasy matchups with some useful nuggets along the way. This is Betting the Spread Week 2! Here we go!
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New York Jets vs Cleveland Browns (-6)
Pick ATS: Cleveland Browns
Last week, I warned to bench Breece Hall and wait to see what his usage would look like. It didn’t help they played against the staunch Ravens’ run defense. Yes, Michael Carter saw more work, but that was to be expected. However, Hall’s usage was still more than I expected and that’s encouraging. Additionally, Hall’s 10 targets were No. 2 amongst running backs on the week only to Javonte Williams‘ 11. Carter’s involvement renders both of them low-end RB2 options for now, but the Browns are not as robust against the run (they ranked No. 23 in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA) as the Ravens are. Additionally, Hall has the athleticism to break a big one. Carter should get more work, but Hall saw enough work for me to prefer him over Carter.
Washington Commanders (+2) vs Detroit Lions
Pick ATS: Washington Commanders
First, I love the over on this game. Second, I like the Commanders and think they win outright with Detroit’s rash of injuries that includes star running back D’Andre Swift and offensive line anchors Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker. It will be worth keeping an eye on their status as the week goes on, but their activity at practice hasn’t been promising. Thirdly, I’ll eat crow on Amon-Ra St. Brown. While he’s a damn good player, I thought his late-season surge was primarily a function of injuries to Detroit’s other reliable weapons. Well, all of them were back (and D.J. Chark was brought in) and St. Brown still racked up 12 targets. He caught eight of them for 64 yards and a touchdown. Now, he gets a Washington defense that just relinquished 12 targets, 6 catches, and 117 yards to Christian Kirk. St. Brown looks set for another big week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints (+3)
Pick ATS: New Orleans Saints
For whatever reason, the Saints have the Bucs’ number. In five matchups against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, the Saints are 4-1 and held the Bucs out of the end zone twice. The trend could continue with another injury to the Buccaneers’ offensive line (Donovan Smith) and Chris Godwin pulling a hamstring last week. Mike Evans should draw the Marshon Lattimore shadow treatment once again, who has gotten the edge in this head-to-head recently. Evans has averaged a 3.6-1.8-26.2-0.6 stat line in his last five games against the Saints and is trending the wrong way in practice (as are Julio Jones and Chris Godwin) with a calf injury. I’m a firm believer in starting your studs. However, expectations should be tempered, and Evans shouldn’t be near your DFS lineups this week. I liked the Saints to cover before the Bucs’ wide receiver room got yanked from its feet but another win against Tom Brady looks all the more promising.
Carolina Panthers (+2.5) vs New York Giants
Pick ATS: Carolina Panthers
I know the Panthers lost to a backup quarterback, and the Giants beat the Titans on the road, but I’m not sure why PlayerProfiler EDGE and Vegas deem the Giants favorites. I think the Panthers have a more complete roster and can pull out a win. But for fantasy purposes, Saquon Barkley is all the way back. The Panthers are fresh off allowing 213 yards and two touchdowns on 38 touches to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt last week. Saquon’s revenge tour is only starting.
New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)
Pick ATS: Pittsburgh Steelers
The good news for Diontae Johnson is he registered a 31.5-percent target share in his first game without Ben Roethlisberger, and his 12 targets were tied for the No. 6 most on the week among wide receivers. The bad news is he was only able to muster 55 yards from it and required one of the better catches you’ll ever see to get that far while Mitchell Trubisky averaged just 5.1 yards per attempt. I wrote about being pessimistic about Johnson in the offseason, but this is a performance either side can tout in their favor. The workload will be there, but can Trubisky (or Kenny Pickett, eventually) reliably and consistently get him the ball? I still have my questions. Last week was a reminder, however, that Johnson is an incredible receiver.
Also, I hope you picked up Jaylen Warren off waivers this week. Savvy managers already had pieces of him. But Najee Harris admitted to a lisfranc injury suffered in the preseason and followed that up by rolling his ankle (the same foot as his lisfranc injury) in Week 1. Harris has claimed he will play in Week 2 but is at great risk of re-injuring his foot and being ineffective due to the high ankle sprain. Drafted for his high floor when active, Harris has quickly turned into one of the riskiest players in all of fantasy football. Jaylen Warren needs to be rostered EVERYWHERE.
Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars (+4)
Pick ATS: Jacksonville Jaguars
Travis Etienne. What the hell? Between not one but two touchdowns falling by the wayside, James Robinson scoring twice, and turning this backfield into a 50-50 split faster than expected, things did not pan out for Etienne. As someone who prioritized Etienne all offseason long, I didn’t have much fun this weekend. However, there’s still reason for optimism. For one, he averaged almost 11 yards per touch and should’ve scored twice. For another, Etienne saw almost all the high-value opportunities in Jacksonville’s backfield. Thirdly, Jacksonville should be trailing most games. Etienne should see those snaps. Props to James Robinson for balling out in his first game back from the torn Achilles; it truly is a great story. I still believe Etienne is the most talented player in this backfield who could still see his workload increase as the season progresses. I’m not selling Etienne. Fantasy gamers should buy low where they can.
Miami Dolphins vs Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens
If ever there was a debate as to who the alpha was in this Dolphins’ passing attack, that answer may have been settled on Sunday. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both played the same amount of snaps (40), but Hill out-targeted Waddle 12-5. Waddle did find the end zone, but it would’ve been nice to see that target total split a bit more evenly. The Dolphins threw the ball 33 times which ranked No. 20 among all teams in Week 1. Most likely, fantasy gamers are starting both Hill and Waddle, but the next couple of weeks will be worth watching to get a better grasp of this passing attack.
Atlanta Falcons vs Los Angeles Rams (-10.5)
Pick ATS: Los Angeles Rams
Did you start Cam Akers? Don’t worry, I did too. It would’ve been nice to know if Darrell Henderson had flat-out beat Akers in the running back competition before Thursday. However, there isn’t anything we can do now but the best we can. Henderson immediately vaults back into the high-end RB2 he was last year. This is evidenced by his robust workload. Akers is not dead yet, though. He should be nowhere near starting lineups at the moment, but James Robinson showed running backs can come back from a torn Achilles and play well (albeit it’s just one game). Henderson has lost his footing as the Rams’ starting running back twice in consecutive seasons. He’s no stranger to injuries either. Akers will be heard from again. He’ll have to be on benches until that happens, however.
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers (-10)
Pick ATS: San Francisco 49ers
The Trey Lance takes are flying everywhere. Maybe we cut him some slack for playing in a monsoon? Lost in the hullabaloo is the fact that Lance ran for 54 yards. As I noted earlier on Twitter, Lance is going to get those rushing yards. But including last week’s swamp fest, Lance has averaged 7.7 yards per attempt in the NFL. This is a small sample size, but it is nice to see a number like that. Last season, Derek Carr ranked No. 7 in the NFL in yards per attempt with that number. Trey Lance will be fine and has a great schedule opening up in the next seven weeks. This starts this week with Seattle. Buy Trey Lance where you can.
Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) vs Dallas Cowboys
Pick ATS: Cincinnati Bengals
I don’t have much on the Cowboys. Their offensive line got wrecked by the Bucs, Dak Prescott is hurt, and they are starting nobodies alongside CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Lamb, however. He racked up 11 targets last week. He put up an 8 targets, 6 receptions, and 112 yards in Cooper Rush‘s (Prescott’s replacement) lone start last season. There’s no one else to throw the ball to with Jalen Tolbert a healthy scratch. The Tom Savage corollary can lift Lamb up until Prescott returns.
Meanwhile, Tee Higgins is in concussion protocol. Higgins missed two games last season. Here are Tyler Boyd‘s stats in those two games. In the first game Boyd accounted for six targets, four receptions, 36 yards and a touchdown. In the second game, Boyd put up 11 targets, nine receptions, and 118 yards. Boyd is the rare wide receiver option with a contingent upside. He’s a WR2 if Higgins can’t go.
Houston Texans (+10) vs Denver Broncos
Pick ATS: Houston Texans
Rex Burkhead is a cockroach. He never dies, no matter where he’s at. No fantasy manager wants him, yet the next thing you know he’s starting somewhere. That’s the case now in Houston. The Dameon Pierce hype train was fun, but Burkhead went full Omni-Man against it. Burkhead’s usage was elite last week in a game the Texans were leading. It follows a trend dating back to Week 11 of last season. From then, until now, Burkhead has registered at least 15 touches in eight of nine games and is averaging 17 per game in that span. He was locked in as Houston’s third-down back entering this season, but Burkhead seeing 14 carries was unexpected. Vegas sees Houston as big underdogs, so Burkhead could feast yet again through the air. He’s a solid high-end flex option and will continue to be until we see Pierce worked in more. Any and all zero/hero RB drafters should’ve gone heavy after Burkhead on waivers.
Arizona Cardinals vs Las Vegas Raiders (-6)
Pick ATS: Las Vegas Raiders
Who was Arizona’s leading receiver in Week 1? None other than Greg Dortch, that’s who! Dortch led Arizona in targets (nine), receptions (seven), and yards (63). Dortch admirably filled the slot role vacated by Christian Kirk. He is a fine desperation play and solid DFS dart throw, but imagine Dortch getting this type of usage in the slot but being more explosive. Yes, I’m telling you to add Rondale Moore, the Cardinals’ actual starting slot receiver, if he was dropped in your leagues.
Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers (-10)
Pick ATS: Green Bay Packers
Don’t worry about Aaron Jones. He out-snapped A.J. Dillon 38-28 and ran more routes (22) than Dillon (13). Start both with confidence this week. Don’t worry about Cole Kmet either. He too was victimized by a monsoon, but he played 83-percent of Chicago’s snaps and posted a 71-percent route rate. Darnell Mooney too will see better days, but it’s harder to forecast that this week against the Green Bay corner trio of Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas. Justin Jefferson lit them up, but he’s also Justin Jefferson.
Tennessee Titans vs Buffalo Bills (-10)
Pick ATS: Buffalo Bills
Things don’t look great for Derrick Henry. He averaged just 4.1 yards per carry against a Giants defense that cut last year’s starting middle linebacker (Blake Martinez) and is without potential star rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Bills ransacked the Rams’ offensive line last week, are 10-point favorites, were No. 11 in run defense DVOA last year, and only improved their defense this year. Derrick Henry needs positive game scripts to reach his ceiling. Real fantasy analysis (there’s an oxymoron for ya!) say to temper expectations for Henry. Stupid analysis tells you that when I play against Derrick Henry in fantasy football, he is the greatest fantasy running back of all time. I play against him this week. Take that for what you will.
Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles (-1)
Pick ATS: Philadelphia Eagles
Give me all the overs in this game. Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, the total, you name it. I will take all the overs except for Adam Thielen. In the last two seasons, Thielen has only one game in PPR scoring with double-digit fantasy points in which he didn’t score a touchdown. He’s going to see either Darius Slay or James Bradberry for a majority, if not all, of this game. Fade him, but don’t fade anyone else.
Good luck in Week 2 everyone!