Week 2 Offensive Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar plays for Week 2


Tyrod Taylor (at New Orleans)

Taylor had a hard time throwing the ball downfield in bad conditions against the Steelers, but this week, he’ll get the Saints defense that Ryan Fitzpatrick just lit up in the ideal conditions of the Superdome. Taylor will pad his fantasy line with rushing stats, and if the Saints jump out to a lead, he could face prevent defenses. Josh Gordon could also get right in his second game and exploit the same issues Tampa did last week, giving Taylor lots of paths to big value.

Case Keenum (vs Oakland)

Keenum had a few throws he might want to take back against the Seahawks last week, but he was still ultraproductive with his trio of wide receivers and receiving back Phillip Lindsay. He’ll face an Oakland defense that was a speed bump for the Rams passing game last week, and at home where the Broncos tend to thrive early in the season.

Mitchell Trubisky (vs Seattle)

Trubisky was on fire in the first half against Green Bay, but the lack of scripted plays and the Bears mentality about nursing a big lead took the air out of his balloon last week. The Bears offensive game plan should have more depth this week, and they are facing a Seattle defense with a lot of holes in their young secondary. Allen Robinson should also be more ready to put on a show for the home crowd after fully shaking off the rust in Week 1.

Eli Manning (at Dallas)

Manning missed a few throws last week, and he could have gotten some help from his teammates on a few plays, but for the most part, it was a respectable performance against the elite Jaguars defense considering the new offensive personnel and scheme. Manning should have a much better chance at success this week against the Cowboys, and we might see that the Jaguars defensive prowess masked how good this Giants' pass offense can be with Odell Beckham healthy, Saquon Barkley making the run game a major threat, and Ben McAdoo replaced by Pat Shurmur.

Running Back

James White (at Jacksonville)

Any rational gameplan against the Jaguars would likely emphasize passing to the running backs anyway, but White has a real chance to be featured this week with Rex Burkhead in concussion protocol, Sony Michel just trying to get back on the field for the first time in over a month, and Jeremy Hill on injured reserve. White is money in the red zone, and the Patriots don’t have the wide receivers to threaten the Jaguars outstanding pair of outside corners, which should funnel targets to Rob Gronkowski and White.

Alfred Morris, Matt Breida (vs Detroit)

It appears the 49ers are going to split the backfield somewhat equally, but after the Lions let the Jets run all over them last week, that shouldn’t prevent you from playing one of these two backs. Breida is the better PPR play with his pass-catching ability and Morris might be the better bet to score a touchdown and finish the game if the 49ers build a lead, although he did fumble at the goal line last week. The 49ers running game under Kyle Shanahan should be very productive, and the Vikings defense last week was not a good barometer of how this backfield will perform most weeks.

T.J. Yeldon (vs New England)

As of this writing, there is some expectation that Leonard Fournette will play, but we can’t be certain until game time. It still follows that Fournette will get less work than usual a week removed from a game-ending hamstring injury, and he could tap out early if the hamstring doesn’t feel right during the game. Yeldon is more than competent and a good pass-catcher, and the Texans had a lot of success running the ball last week, including in the red zone.

Theo Riddick (at San Francisco)

It was clear last week that the Lions efforts to improve their running game in the offseason did not bear any fruit. LeGarrette Blount also came out of the game banged up. The 49ers shut down Dalvin Cook last week, so they should have no trouble keeping the Lions running game stuck in neutral. Riddick makes more sense as a frequently used back if the Lions stay in passing mode, and Cook had a lot more success as a receiver than a runner against San Francisco.

Wide Receiver

Quincy Enunwa (at Miami)

Maybe Enunwa shouldn’t be considered a sleeper with his clear #1 wide receiver status and the varied efforts the Jets made to get the ball in his hands, but DFS pricing and waiver wire bidding indicate that perhaps he isn’t seen as an every-week start yet. It is doubtful that the Dolphins will use shutdown corner Xavien Howard to shadow Enunwa, which is the only thing that could ruin an injury-free afternoon against Miami.

Devin Funchess (at Atlanta)

Funchess was quiet against the Cowboys last week, but he had a touchdown in one of the matchups against the Falcons and a 5-86 line in the other last year. The 5-86 came in the stretch without Greg Olsen, and Funchess scored six times in the nine games Olsen missed last year. He should have an increased role with Olsen out in Week 2, especially in the red zone.

Dante Pettis (vs Detroit)

Pettis was on the same page with Jimmy Garoppolo in the deep passing game, so much so that one wonders if Marquise Goodwin is going to be the clear #1 deep target when he returns from his quad injury. Goodwin unsuccessfully tried to come back from the injury last week and will likely be out this week. The Lions gave up a deep score to Robby Anderson on only 21 pass attempts from Sam Darnold, which bodes well for Pettis’s chances of scoring on a longball this week.

Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall (at Chicago)

It wasn’t just Aaron Rodgers magic, the Bears secondary had a complete breakdown on the game-winning touchdown and also gave up a deep score to Geronimo Allison. Seattle will have to be effective through the air to win Monday night, and with Doug Baldwin out, that means more of Lockett and Marshall. Lockett has a real chance to reproduce Allison’s long score after he had one last week against Denver, and Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays helps his cause. Marshall had one score overturned by offensive pass interference before the one that counted against the Broncos. If Seattle gets into the red zone, Marshall’s number is likely to be called.

Tight End

Jared Cook (at Denver)

If you need any encouragement to play Cook after he has flopped post-big Week 1 performances in the past, just look to blocking tight end Will Dissly’s 3-105-1 last week. The Broncos also have strong cornerback play similar to the Rams, which will focus targets in the middle of the field, which happens to be their weak spot. Cook has a good chance to be lineup worthy again this week.

Ricky Seals-Jones (at Los Angeles Rams)

Seals-Jones dropped a touchdown last week, but still got six targets and should be a major part of the Cardinals passing game with the Rams taking away the outside pass, as they did against the Raiders last week. That funneled targets to Jared Cook, who set a franchise record for a tight end. Seals-Jones might not approach Cook’s Week 1 line, but he should have every opportunity to be startable in the weakened tight end position.

Ben Watson (vs Cleveland)

Watson moved well in his first game back for the Saints, and considering the landscape at tight end in fantasy, he was serviceable with his four catches for 44 yards. Cleveland allowed Jesse James to pile up 60 yards on only three catches, and Watson is probably still faster than James at this late juncture of his career. The Saints offense should be primed for a big day in an important home game, which should feature multiple red zone trips that could result in Watson touchdowns.

Jonnu Smith (vs Houston)

Smith will step into a much larger role this week with Delanie Walker on injured reserve. He is very talented and physically gifted, and the Titans were expecting him to take on a larger role this year. The Texans couldn’t stop Rob Gronkowski last week, so the Titans might be able to find something there to exploit. Corey Davis has been limited with a hamstring and Rishard Matthews was a non-factor last week, so Smith could be a frequent target this week.

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