QB: Ryan Tannehill/Tennessee Titans: Next up for the Titans is the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has given up 567 yards and 5 passing TDs in 2 weeks. Even with AJ Brown out in this game Tannehill should be able to get a nice rhythm rolling with Jonnu Smith as Minnesota allowed Colts TE Mo Alie-Cox to log 111 yards last week. Tannehill has 488 yards passing and 6 TDs through 2 games. This is a young defense in the secondary that is struggling to generate a pass-rush. Tannehill could put up video game numbers.
WR: Damiere Byrd/New England Patriots: This one is a matter of trusting the Patriots to come out throwing again. Byrd had 9 targets for 6 catches and 72 yards in Week 2 against Seattle. While this comes with some concerns the matchup is nice. The Raiders have given up 571 passing yards this season. Byrd is explosive in the open field and can turn a 4-yard throw-and-catch into a 75-yard TD in the blink of an eye. Byrd has a connection with Cam Newton as a result of being teammates in Carolina. Byrd has his arrow pointing up.
WR: Russell Gage/Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones is a game-time-decision and evening if he plays how much will his hamstring allow him to be on the field? Gage has 21 targets in 2 games and has turned it into 15 catches for 160 yards and 1 TD. While Calvin Ridley would function as the WR1 for Atlanta, Gage would see a slight increase in work for the Week 3 matchup with Chicago. While Chicago is considered by many to have a defense that is their identity they are not as scary in the defensive backfield as we’ve seen in prior years. Gage could feast against Chicago.
WR: Golden Tate/ NY Giants: Sterling Shepard is on IR, Saquon Barkey is on IR and that leaves the Giants in search of playmakers. They did just sign Devonta Freeman but if Saquon couldn’t run behind that line then why will it be different for Freeman? Sorry, for the quick tangent. While I’m not a firm believer in Daniel Jones he will have to sling it and we’ll Golden Tate is just about all that’s left. The 49ers are at way less than full strength on offense and defense so maybe Tate can be beneficiary of it all. Jones has thrown for 520 yards in 2 games. Tate is coming off a 5 target 5 catch game for 47 yards.
RB: D’Andre Swift/Detroit Lions: The Lions backfield is a disaster. Through 2 weeks, here are the snap counts between these three: D’Andre Swift 54, Adrian Peterson 39 and Kerryon Johnson 39. Here are the opportunity counts: Peterson 24, Swift 18, Johnson 16. Swift has 8 catches on 10 targets this season and could find himself on the field a bunch in Week 3. The Lions opponent the Arizona Cardinals are a high-flying offense that will not take their foot off the gas. In this scenario, I like Swift to be the best back for Detroit. Now, I’m not saying he has a Barry Sanders type of day, but I am saying 5+ catches isn’t insane.
RB: Jerick McKinnon/San Francisco 49ers: McKinnon has scored both weeks of the season and has looked like his usual explosive self. It’s great to see given he battled complications from a knee injury for 2 seasons. I expect McKinnon to be used like Raheem Mostert doing work on the ground and in the air. He won’t get the goal-line work but he can score from midfield no problem. McKinnon is a solid play while Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both out with injury. The Giants have not given up a rushing TD yet but have surrendered 276 yards in 2 weeks on the ground.
TE: Drew Sample/Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow three 61 times against Cleveland ending up in 15 total TE targets. Sample had 9 targets taking over for CJ Uzomah who tore his Achilles but had 6 targets and 1 TD prior to the injury. Looking ahead Sample has a favorable schedule for a TE in my opinion. More than 20% of passes have gone to the TE position in Burrow’s first 2 games. Sample saw a 35% target share after Uzomah got injured against Cleveland. While 35% isn’t likely a figure to be maintained it shows he will be involved and should be a red-zone favorite for Burrow.
FLEX: Jeff Wilson Jr/San Francisco 49ers: As noted earlier for McKinnon the matchup is favorable and with injuries galore at the RB position for the 49ers Wilson figures to be involved. Wilson scored 5 TDs on 30 touches last season; including 2 TDs against Cincinnati last season where he filled in for a very similar injury situation. Wilson will take on the early-down and goal-line work. Double-digit carries isn’t a wild expectation and rather something I expect from Kyle Shanahan. Also, worth noting McKinnon hasn’t seen double-digit carries since Week 6 of the 2017 season; opening up more reason to like Wilson this week.
FLEX: Joshua Kelley/ LA Chargers: Another tremendous matchup featured on the list week. The Chargers square off against Carolina. Through 2 games, the Panthers have allowed 6 rushing TDs and 255 rushing yards. Kelley has emerged as the workhorse back handling 35 carries after 2 games. Kelley has taken on early-down and goal-line work while Austin Ekeler is still the clear 1A in this backfield. However, the volume is something that warrants weekly consideration for Kelley. Kelley is about to pop and have a big game and I feel like it’s this week against Carolina. Here is why I say Kelley is on the verge of a big-time game, he is among the league leaders in red-zone attempts (8), carries inside the 10-yard line (6) and rushes inside the 5-yard line (3). In Week 2 against the Chiefs, Kelley handled 25 total touches (23 carries) in an overtime game, and he finished with 113 total yards.
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