Football is back, baby! Week 1 is in the books. We witnessed some heartbreaking injuries, some heroics of mythic proportions, and some total duds. The injuries to Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen are extremely disappointing, and put a real damper on the potential at the position as a whole for this season. Losing two of the best players at any position will do that. With injury though, comes opportunity. We’ll address a few players who will assume the role of TE1 for their respective teams, and do our best to project their impact for Week 2.
With one week of football under our belt we are in a bit of a precarious position. We have more current and relevant data than what we were using for Week 1, but the sample size is too small to take at face value. Consider the Saints. They just got steamrolled by the ‘Fitzmagic’-led Bucs, but their defense last year was among the top-10 in the League. Seeing as their roster and coaching staff are essentially the same, it’s safe to assume that they will improve on their dismal Week 1 performance. If you recall, the Saints had a similar defeat in Week 1 last season to the Vikings. It’s important to balance how you weigh Week 1 data against the entirety of last season’s data. Take the “Thanos Approach” you might call it: perfect balance.
Tyrod Taylor @ New Orleans Saints – FD: $6,600 | DK: $5,900
Tyrod was serviceable last week. His completion percentage was pretty dismal, going 15-for-39 with a touchdown, but made up for the lack of receptions with his legs running for 77 yards and a score. Tyrod should have a “complete” offense when they face off against the Saints in New Orleans. By complete I mean Hue Jackson will get out of his own way, and intentionally start Josh Gordon. Now New Orleans was expected to have, not a lock-down defense, but a better defense than what we saw this past Sunday. I’m expecting them to make improvements on their performance, but not enough so that Tyrod and the Browns aren’t able to put up some points. The same argument I made for starting Tyrod last week persist through Week 2. The Saints will put up points, and are looking to make a statement coming off an unexpected defeat. This will keep Tyrod throwing, and that’s what you look for in your DFS/Streaming quarterbacks.
Alex Smith vs. Indianapolis Colts: FD: $7,100 | DK: $6,000
I featured Alex Smith as a start against the Cardinals last week, and he panned out to be a great start. I think he’s due for another fantastic week against the weak Indianapolis Colts DST that allowed Dalton to throw for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. Smith was, depending on your scoring format, on the cusp of scoring 20 FPTS. His performance was more than promising, and acts as a great baseline going forward. Smith will have the advantage of playing against a porous Colts defense at home, with a Week 1 victory under his belt. The frustrating pattern that is emerging from Redskins’ QBs is their inability to really get their wide receivers involved. Yes, Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed both had good receiving days this past week, but Crowder, Doctson, and Richardson were all major fantasy duds. Smith needs to break from routine, and get his wide-outs more involved in the passing game to have success against the Colts.
Eli Manning @ Dallas Cowboys – FD: $6,500 | DK: $5,500
Eli is coming off of a disappointing Week 1 loss to the still-dominant Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a tough game to watch outside of that incredible TD run by Saquon. Eli went for 23 of 37 passes with 221 yards on Sunday. He failed to record any touchdowns, and had an INT. Better times are ahead for Eli though, and I expect big things from him this week against Dallas. He has arguably some of the best weapons in the League, and he’s going up against a much weaker defense. Cam Newton didn’t make much of an impact against the Cowboys through the air. He was without his Pro Bowl TE, Greg Olsen, for the majority of the game, and the game script didn’t really necessitate a high volume passing game for the Panthers. Eli will right the ship this week, and will be a solid play for DFS & season long purposes.
Case Keenum vs. Oakland Raiders – FD $6,700 | DK: $5,800
Keenum was one of my Start ‘Em’s last week, and he paid off. He faced off against the Seahawks’ defense and managed to put together an okay day with 25 of 39 passes for 329 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. The interceptions obviously put a damper on his overall fantasy output, but his performance was encouraging for Denver’s offense as a whole. Sanders and D. Thomas haven’t missed a step, and the running backs appear competent enough to keep their offense dynamic. This week he’ll be facing off against the Raiders, who had a horrible showing under the bright lights on Monday. Coming off of a short week, Oakland’s defense should be easy to exploit. If Keenum manages to cut down on his turnovers, he could end up with a QB1 performance in Week 2.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Detroit Lions – FD: $7,300 | DK: $6,000
Did you see what my son, rookie Sam Darnold, did to the Lions defense? I sure did. Is Jimmy ‘GQ’ Garoppolo currently a better quarterback than Sam Darnold? You bet your ass he is. Jimmy had a disappointing season debut on Sunday completing 15-of-33 passes for 261 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Those numbers didn’t win you week 1, but it was against arguably the toughest defense in the League without his star wide-out. Conversely, Matt Patricia’s defense looks to be one of the weaker defenses in the League after a Week 1. In effect, Jimmy will go from playing against one of the best defenses in the League to one of the worst. Week 2’s matchup strikes me as a high scoring affair that I want to take advantage of in DFS.
Matt Ryan vs. Carolina Panthers – FD: $7,100 | DK $5,700
Matty Ice pretty much pooped the bed on Thursday in what was probably the most boring game of Week 1. It was a tough game to watch, and a tough matchup for Matt on the road against a vaunted Eagles defense. Now he’ll face the Panthers at home. Fun Fact: the Falcons have won four of the last five matchups against the Panthers in the regular season. The Falcons’ run game takes a significant hit if Freeman is sidelined this Sunday. This will mean more focus on the passing game which should benefit Matty Ice. Still, both teams will be coming into Sunday’s contest trying to get something going on offense as neither was able to get much going in Week 1. I smell a shootout.
Hail Mary QB Start of the Week:
Ryan Tannehill @ New York Jets – FD: $6,200 | DK: $5,300
If there’s one game that everyone will forget from Week 1 it is the Titans/Dolphins seven hour marathon. Tannehill looked pretty decent for his first game back after a season ending knee injury last preseason. The elements made it impossible for Tannehill to find any kind of rhythm, but he ended Sunday’s contest going 20-of-28 for two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Dolphins will face the New York Jets in Week 2. “New Jack City” recorded a whopping five interceptions against Matty Stafford and the Lions on Monday, and they will carry this momentum into their matchup against Tannehill. While I love the Jets, I don’t think their defense is going to be that stout this week. Defenses coming off of a short week always make me skeptical, and according to a few Jets defensive players, they had a read on Matt Stafford that I doubt will carry over into Sunday’s match-up. I’m rolling the dice with Tannehill as my contrarian, Hail Mary QB start for Week 2.
Jared Cook @ Denver Broncos – FD: $5,000 | DK: $3,600
I’m not sold on the Raiders’ offense after Monday Night’s let down. One player who didn’t disappoint however is Jared Cook. As I said in my article last week, he had the most receiving yards for the Raiders last season, and kept that train rolling Monday night to the tune of 9 receptions for 180 yards. Now he’s on the road against the Denver Broncos. This is bad news for about every position except tight end. On Sunday the Broncos gave up 105 yards and a TD to relative unknown TE Will Dissly. The Raiders will continue to play to their strengths, and exploit the Broncos’ weakness against the tight end position. While I don’t think he repeats 180 yards, I don’t think another TE1 performance is out of the question.
George Kittle vs. Detroit Lions – FD: $5,600 | DK: $3,800
If Kittle isn’t owned in your leagues, then I recommend you go snag him. He was Garoppolo’s primary target on Sunday, and finished the day with 5 receptions for 90 yards. Not bad for a player who missed the majority of the offseason with injury against one of the tougher defenses in the League. Starting Kittle is simple. Goodwin’s injury bumps up Kittle’s involvement in the 49er’s offense, and they’re going up a defense that was just rocked by the rookie-led New York Jets. The points will be flowing for the 49ers, and Kittle should be the recipient of a healthy portion of those points.
Nick Boyle @ Cincinnati Bengals – FD: $4,400 | DK: $2,600
The fact of the matter is, Joe Flacco relies on his tight ends. This past Sunday we saw Baltimore tight ends get targeted a total of 13 times, with Boyle leading the pack seeing six targets, and converted those targets into three receptions for 40 yards. These aren’t groundbreaking numbers. The reason Boyle could be considered in Week 2 is his matchup against the Bengals. Cincinnati just gave up 111 yards and a touchdown to the Colts’ Ebron & Doyle TE duo. In what is typically a slower divisional game, on a Thursday no less, I expect Flacco to continue to lean on his tight ends making Boyle a sneaky DFS play.
Jonnu Smith vs. Houston Texans – FD: $4,200 | DK: $3,100
Very similar situation here as we’ll see with the Panthers’ Ian Thomas. Delanie Walker is sadly out for the remainder of the 2018 season after being placed on IR. Jonnu Smith, second year tight end out of Florida International University, is the next man up for the Titans. Last season he logged 18 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Not too shabby from a rookie playing with limited involvement under the legend, Walker. The combination of Mariota and Gabbert targeted the tight end position 12 times on Sunday, so there’s still hope at the position for the Titans. Smith has all the makings of what could be Walker’s replacement, and with it the responsibility of being a primary focal point of the Titans’ passing game. If you have a deep bench he’s worth the add consideration, and he’s basically free in DFS as well if you’re looking for those upside plays. The Texans aren’t a great defense against the tight end so this could be a good opportunity for Smith to be introduced as Walker’s replacement.
Benjamin Watson vs. Cleveland Browns – FD: $5,100 | DK: $3,400
I’m not fond of repeating streamer starts and DFS plays in back to back weeks, but sometimes the match-ups are just too spicy. The Saints are coming off of a rough loss to the Bucs, and will be looking to make a statement this week against the Browns. Conversely, the Browns just allowed Jesse James 3 receptions for 60 yards on Sunday, and don’t seem to have improved against the position from last season where they were ranked 28th against all tight ends. It took the majority of Sunday’s game for Watson & Brees to connect, but when they did Watson reined in all four targets for just 44 yards. Nothing to write home about, but certainly a performance to build off heading into Week 2. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Watson with nearly double the amount of targets this week, as the Browns’ defense will be hyper focused on the Saints’ studs, Kamara & Thomas.
Hail Mary Tight End Start of the Week!
Ian Thomas @ Atlanta Falcons – FD: $4,000 | DK: $2,900
Greg Olsen is down, and it’s next man up in Carolina. Last season when Olsen went down it was Ed Dickson who picked up the mantle as best he could. This season, it will be the rookie out of Indiana, Ian Thomas. Fans were excited when the Panthers drafted Ian in the Fourth Round of the 2018 Draft, but they were hoping that he’d have at least one full season to develop under Olsen’s tutelage. Signs are pointing to Thomas being the starting TE on Sunday against the Falcons. He’s got a low floor, but his athleticism allows for a high ceiling. All it takes for a tight end to be that difference maker is one touchdown. Thomas is a purely upside pick. A true ‘Hail Mary’. But, his low ownership might make him worth consideration for DFS purposes in what should be a higher scoring affair.
QB/TE COMBO OF THE WEEK
This week’s illustrious and coveted title goes to Jimmy Garoppolo & George Kittle. These two connected 5 times for 90 yards, and nearly a touchdown on Sunday. They’re slotted for big things this weekend going up against a disheveled Lions’ defense. Kittle obviously gets more of a bump if Goodwin is out this week, but even if Goodwin plays Kittle is still going to be a major factor in this offense. The 49ers will be looking to get their offense humming this weekend at home, so lock in this QB/TE stack in your DFS rosters.