Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 2
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Even throughout Cooper Kupp's historic, unflappable season, he was the top wideout for the week just three times in 2021. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may pop in terms of fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Sin City Shootout: Kyler Murray and Derek Carr Combine for 5+ Total Touchdowns
Arizona's defense was carved up by Patrick Mahomes, and it wasn't all the lethal Kansas City offense. Their 36.0 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus -- worst in the NFL by a country mile -- was indicative of some massive breakdowns amidst their young secondary.
As for Las Vegas, they had plenty of issues, too. Justin Herbert posted 0.53 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which trailed only Mahomes. Herbert is awesome, but that's also partly due to a Las Vegas secondary that wasn't expected to be special, either.
numberFire's projections have the signal-callers going for 4.05 touchdowns, but it seems far too low for a high-scoring matchup. Since Kyler is such a threat with his legs, I'll go with five total scores for these two gunslingers, and do everything you can to get some exposure to this game in your lineup.
2. Waiver Wire Washout: Jeff Wilson Posts Single Digits in Santa Clara
Many of your league mates will blow their free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB) on Jeff Wilson this week. I'm not sure it's that simple.
First, even with Elijah Mitchell out for a while, Wilson is not a plug-and-play 20 carries like a high-level running back waiver pickup can merit. This San Francisco offense had five different leading rushers last year, and they cycled through Mitchell, Wilson, and Trey Sermon last year. Rookies Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason are now also in the fold.
Second, Wilson wasn't overly effective last year. He averaged just -0.04 Rushing NEP per carry along with a 39.2% rushing success rate. Both are below the league average.
And, for a surprising third note, the Seattle Seahawks showed well against the rush on Monday night. They held Denver to -0.32 Rushing NEP per carry, which was the best mark in the league for a defense. Granted, a lot of that was a huge boost due to two goal-line fumbles, but the Broncos only rushed for 103 yards.
In a worse-than-expected matchup, I wouldn't count on a monster afternoon from Wilson. If he's not producing, there's always a chance Kyle Shanahan runs with a different back, too.
3. Robinson's Rebound: Allen Makes a Real Debut for Los Angeles With 10+ Fantasy Points
After an offseason filled with anticipation of Robinson eating into Cooper Kupp's role, it was Kupp who secured 15 targets to just 2 for A-Rob.
Really, some of that may have been due to the Rams' offensive line struggles as Buffalo posted five sacks in the opener. Even in the limited, one-week sample, Kupp's average depth of target (6.9) is much lower than Robinson's (17.5), and therefore, getting him the ball is less reliant on quality protection.
Still, the Bills have a tremendous pass rush, and L.A. likely won't be caved in all season. With that the case, Robinson is still startable entering this Week 2 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
A-Rob still played 96.7% of snaps last week, so see if you can buy low from an impatient league mate. This Rams' passing game has produced five top-15 wide receivers in the last four years, and Robinson is still a candidate despite the early struggles.
4. Don't Worry About Dalton: Schultz Catches 5+ Passes from Cooper Rush
With that the case, I'm not particularly interested in throwing a dart on the wire to start over Dalton Schultz.
Everything about Schultz's Week 2 matchup with the Bengals says he should be viable. Not only did the Cowboys' weapon see nine targets on Sunday, but two of them came in the two drives with Cooper Rush. Rush also fired seven targets at Schultz in his lone start last year.
Common sense would lead to a belief that Dallas relies more on its short passing game while Dak Prescott is on the mend, and Schultz is a key component of that. The tight end position is too weak to consider benching Schultz -- one of the best currently at his position -- in Week 2 despite some obvious concerns.
5. G.O.A.T Grounded: Saints D/ST Baffles Brady Again; Holds Him Under 20 Fantasy Points
Brady was bottled up on Sunday in Dallas. He posted just 0.05 Passing NEP per drop back, which was below the league average in Week 1. With some offensive line injuries and the quick departure of Chris Godwin, it was easy to see why.
The problem is Brady might need all hands on deck to battle New Orleans. In 2020, he posted -0.31 Passing NEP per drop back against the Saints, and in 2021, it jumped to -0.08, but that's still well below last year's league average (+0.11).
This game will be the Saints' home opener, too, so he'll have to face a raucous crowd to try and buck this trend.
I'd be hesitant to start Brady given his upside in fantasy comes solely from his passing. He adds nothing through rushing, and he hasn't done that well historically against New Orleans. Plus, he's 45 years old. We can't totally rule out that he won't show his age in what is reportedly his final season.