Week 2 Sleepers

A look at the best under-the-radar starts for Week 2

Quarterback

Jared Goff (vs WAS) - Goff was barely challenged in Week 1 against the Colts, but the good news is that he executed smoothly, produced good numbers and was on the same page as his top receiving weapons. The Rams offense could get thwarted a bit by head coach Sean McVay’s old team knowing his strategy on offense, but Washington isn’t a shutdown defense and Carson Wentz was able to pass for over 300 yards against them last week. This could be confirmation that the Rams pass offense has been greatly improved in year one.

Trevor Siemian (at DAL) - The Chargers defense is a tough draw, but Siemian was more than up to the task in the red zone, accounting for three scores in the Week 1 win. The Cowboys defense was expected to be a creampuff at first, but they bottled up a Beckham-less Giants offense. The task for Siemian is still easier this week, especially with his top receivers going from facing Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward to Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown and amybe even a rookie corner starting if Orlando Scandrick can’t go because of his broken hand.

Carson Palmer (at IND) - Palmer was horrific in Week 1 and appeared to be very near the clock striking midnight on his effectiveness. The Lions defense wasn’t a stout opponent, but the Colts make them ferocious in comparison. The loss of David Johnson could be crippling for this offense against good defense, but Indianapolis doesn’t have one of those, especially without Vontae Davis. If Palmer can’t put up a solid score this week, it’s really time to mail in this season for the Cardinals offense.

Jay Cutler (at LAC) - Cutler gets that Chargers defense that Trevor Siemian courageously moved the ball against in Week 1, and he’ll need to be mentally tough to stand tall and create against the best pass rush duo in the AFC, and maybe in the league. The Miami offensive line is relatively healthy and Cutler has a budding talent in DeVante Parker who can win balls downfield in close coverage. Cutler should still be a viable play outside of the Top 15 and possibly much better than expected in light of the reunion with Adam Gase.

Running Back

Chris Carson (vs SF) - Carson won the most snaps and touches in the Seahawks backfield despite Eddie Lacy and CJ Prosise being healthy, and the team expressed excitement about his growth and future. The return of Thomas Rawls presents another obstacle, but it could be temporary given Rawls’ injury history. Carson should be the top choice to run when the Seahawks open up a big lead on the 49ers, and he could get goal-line carries. He’s the best bet of a crowded backfield in a 49ers matchup that produced two solid running back plays last week.

Kerwynn Williams (at IND) - The Cardinals backfield quickly became a mess when David Johnson went down, and the offense could follow in short order, but probably not this week against the Colts, who appear to be waving the white flag with Andrew Luck sidelined. Williams got the score last week in place of Johnson and should lead the backfield in touches this week. He has been efficient on limited touches in the past. As long as new re-addition Chris Johnson doesn’t get goal line carries over Williams, he has a great chance to score this week.

Terrance West (vs CLE) - The Ravens are smartly easing Joe Flacco back in and relied on their defense and running game when the game script allowed for it last week. Against rookie DeShone Kizer and the Browns, it could very well go down that path again this week, setting up West (and possibly his running mate Javorius Allen) for 20 carries and reasonable chance at a score - although this Browns defense contained Le’Veon Bell last week. Allen might be almost as good or better than West in PPR leagues, assuming Michael Campanaro doesn’t take over a lot of Danny Woodhead’s vacated targets now that the team has had a week to prepare without him.

James White (at NO) - White was the primary back early in the loss to the Chiefs, and should be second in the carry pecking order to Mike Gillislee again this week, White should also get some red zone look in what promises to be a high-scoring game and he could get some looks in the slot with Danny Amendola unlikely to play coming off of a concussion. He has a multi-touchdown ceiling and relatively high floor in PPR this week.

Alvin Kamara (vs NE) - Which Saints running back most resembles Kareem Hunt, who eviscerated the Patriots defense last week? It’s clearly the rookie Kamara, who already led the three-man New Orleans RBBC last week. Kamara can run routes downfield like the one that Hunt converted into a long score last week, and he’s got the best burst to possibly expose the Patriots run defense once again this week.

Wide Receiver

Chris Hogan (at NO) - Don’t bail on Hogan. He won’t covered by Marcus Peters this week and the Saints allowed just about everything to work in the passing game for the Vikings last week. Danny Amendola is likely out with a concussion and knee problem, leaving even more targets up for grabs in the wake of Julian Edelman’s injury. Hogan could easily post Top 5 wide receiver numbers this week.

Ted Ginn Jr (vs NE) - The Patriots-Saints matchup should be among the highest-scoring games of the week, so it’s a good week to break ties in favor of players in that game. Ginn is the best deep threat for the Saints and he is also being used on shorter routes. The Patriots let Tyreek Hill get away last week, and they should focus more on Michael Thomas than Ginn in the gameplan. He has a very high ceiling in what could be a shootout.

Paul Richardson Jr, Tyler Lockett (vs SF) - The 49ers defense was spirited but really didn’t make Cam Newton that uncomfortable last week, he was just rusty. San Francisco should have trouble keeping Russell Wilson and the passing game as quiet as Newton was last week and it’s likely that at least one of Richardson, who had a sensational downfield catch last week, and Lockett, who should get more snaps and had a red zone catch last week, reels in a big downfield play this week.

Corey Davis (at JAX) - Davis wasn’t 100% or a starter going into last week’s game and he was still the leading wide receiver in targets and catches. This week he should be even healthier and ready to be Marcus Mariota’s main man in a matchup against the fierce Jaguars, but one that might be missing Jalen Ramsey, who hadn’t practiced yet as of Thursday. Davis won’t be considered a sleeper for much longer.

Cooper Kupp (vs WAS) - The chemistry that is the foundation of great quarterback-wide receiver combinations is clearly there with Kupp and Jared Goff. This week, the Rams face a Washington defense that has Josh Norman for blotting out #1 receivers, but allowed Nelson Agholor to get free for a big play last week. Kupp might draw Norman much less often than Sammy Watkins and lead the team in receiving yards again this week.

Allen Hurns (vs TEN) - Hurns is the best bet to pick up the slack left by Allen Robinson’s season-ending ACL tear. He’s a superior deep threat to Marqise Lee and Lee was only healthy enough to shed the albino tiger label last year. The Titans gave up good games to both Raiders receivers last week and also allowed another score to Seth Roberts, so there are matchups to be exploited in the Tennessee secondary when Blake Bortles is allowed to throw this week.

JJ Nelson (at IND) - With John Brown out, Nelson becomes a high ceiling play off of the waiver wire against the suspect Colts defense without Vontae Davis. He showed multi-score upside when called along last year and the Rams pass offense did whatever it wanted against the Colts last week.

Tight End

Jared Cook (vs NYJ) - Cook emerged as a clear third target in a very good offense. This week, he faces a Jets team that couldn’t keep track of Charles Clay and should have allowed two scores to him despite no scary options to defend at wide receiver. The Raiders should score frequently in this one, giving Cook an increased chance for a score to go along with his catches this week.

Will Tye (at OAK) - The Raiders are reliably bad against tight ends, giving up 7-76 to Delanie Walker last week. Jets tight ends combined for 5-59 last week 3-34 going to Tye, who just joined the team in the first post-cutdown waiver wire run. Eric Tomlinson has missed two practices already this week, so Tye could have this role all to himself before Austin Seferian-Jenkins returns from suspension next week.

Cameron Brate (vs CHI) - Brate is a forgotten man after the Bucs had the rare Week 1 bye in deference to Hurricane Irma, but he is set up for a nice Week 2 against the Bears defense that forgot that Austin Hooper was an eligible receiver and then couldn’t tackle him on two catches that went for 128 yards and a score - and one that lost starting inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Brate has excellent red zone chemistry with Jameis Winston and first-round rookie tight end OJ Howard probably isn’t ready for a big role in the offense yet.

Jesse James (vs MIN) - James was a frequent and sure-handed underneath target for Ben Roethlisberger, and the quarterback will probably lean on James again this week against a very aggressive Vikings pass rush. Last week, tight end Coby Fleener was the only Saints that outproduced expectations in the passing game against the Vikings, so there’s groundwork laid for back-to-back good games from James.