Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 2
With Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season in the books, we have some data points to dig into. We can use those to overreact. We can choose to ignore them. We can try to add in context to them.
But we saw a lot last week, and now we need to transfer it to our lineups for our start-or-sit decisions, which are never as easy as we'd like them to be.
We saw standout players from various teams, and we saw the New England Patriots' offense continue to click in 2018. Now, they head to Jacksonville to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the worst matchups in all of fantasy football.
Do you start Tom Brady? Rob Gronkowski? What about the running backs? It depends on your other options. What if you came to read this article and don't even have any Patriots rostered on your team, and I talk almost exclusively about that game? That doesn't help. And I'm trying to help.
For this -- and many other reasons -- I like to bucket players into groups when deciding who we should start or sit in a given week. To me, no player is ever a must-sit, but there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's the goal here, as well as to show why we should feel certain ways about players.
So, based on market shares, snap counts, betting lines, and defensive matchups, I'll be grouping players into three tiers to help with start-or-sit decisions: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider playing whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives.
For the most part, these players are listed in order of confidence, and the groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench, should I start this player this week? Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league.
Start With Confidence
- Drew Brees: Brees rattled off 37 completions on 45 attempts for 9.8 yards per attempt and 3 touchdowns in Week 1. The Cleveland Browns could prove tough all year defensively, but Brees gets another dome game to start the season. No team opened with a higher implied team total than Brees' squad (29.25 points).
- Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger travels back home to face a shoddy Chiefs defense, one that allowed 8.61 adjusted yards per attempt in Week 1. The Steelers' heavy implied team total suggests Roethlisberger could be commanding Week 2's top-scoring offense.
- Cam Newton: Newton ran 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown last week, production that gives him an elite weekly floor at the quarterback position. Newton averaged 17.1 fantasy points against the Falcons last year despite completing only 27 of 58 passes (46.6%) for 317 yards (5.5 per attempt), 1 touchdown, and 3 picks because he ran 20 times for 145 yards. The Falcons just lost Keanu Neal and Deion Jones for the season, two massive losses for the defense.
- Tom Brady: The matchup is bad, but Brady went 26 of 38 for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs at home last year to help quell whatever concerns you have. Jacksonville also let up four games of 20-plus fantasy points to quarterbacks over their final seven games last season, including the playoffs.
- Russell Wilson: Wilson managed to top 22 fantasy points last week against a tough pass defense despite only 2 carries for 5 yards. The Chicago Bears didn't generate quite as much pressure as it may have seemed last week, and Wilson didn't even need Doug Baldwin to come through in Week 1.
- Philip Rivers: The Bills' secondary appeared to be much improved on paper, but they did not appear to be much at all in Week 1, allowing 8.42 adjusted yards per attempt and 3 touchdowns. Rivers notched 8.61 adjusted yards per attempt and 3 touchdowns of his own on 51 attempts in a comeback bid.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo somewhat struggled on his 33 attempts last week against Minnesota (15 completions for 1 touchdown and 3 picks, generating a solid 7.9 yards per attempt). He had a few unfortunate drops, though, and now faces a Lions secondary that got lit up at home by a rookie.
- Patrick Mahomes: Among all passers with more than 15 attempts in Week 1, Mahomes led the way in average depth of target, via FantasyADHD.com. He averaged 9.5 yards per attempt and also ran 5 times for 21 yards, adding half a passing touchdown worth of production with his legs. Against the Steelers, he's a borderline lock, but we saw only 27 attempts from him in the opener, and 66% of his yardage came from a single receiver.
- Alex Smith: Smith's average depth of target was tiny (3.2 yards) in Week 1, but a matchup with the Colts makes that irrelevant. Indy gave up 8.50 adjusted yards per attempt and a 75.0% completion rate in Week 1, a sign that Smith will move the ball down the field without much resistance.
Consider If Needed
- Aaron Rodgers: We don't know how limited he'll be, and he gets a matchup against the Vikings, who mostly stymied Garoppolo in Week 1. In the second half last week against a defense that's no slouch, Rodgers completed 17 of 23 attempts for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns, though he had some catch-and-run help, of course.
- Deshaun Watson: Watson notched just 5.2 yards per attempt on 34 passes in the opener, so that's not great. What is great is that he ran 8 times for 40 yards, not something expected after returning from ACL surgery. However, Watson's line is depleted without Seantrel Henderson. The Titans' defense generated almost no pressure in Week 1, but Watson isn't setting up to be a matchup-proof option early in 2018.
- Kirk Cousins: Cousins had just average efficiency in Week 1 in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and Passing Success Rate, going 20 of 36 for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Packers' defense showed up in Week 1, as well. Minnesota is a road underdog, pushing Cousins out of confident start territory.
- Andrew Luck: Luck chucked it 53 times in the opener but now heads to Washington to face a pass defense that allowed just 3.18 adjusted yards per attempt in Week 1. Volume will carry him to a borderline QB1 week most likely, but a 5.7-yard average depth of target and just 1 carry in Week 1 limit his upside until we see otherwise.
- Jared Goff: Goff has never displayed a monstrous ceiling in the NFL, but he did top 16 fantasy points in both meetings against the Cardinals in 2017. Arizona failed to show that they're a must-avoid matchup in Week 1, when they allowed 9.83 adjusted yards per attempt.
- Matthew Stafford: Even in a performance as dreadful as Monday night's was, Stafford mustered 12.0 fantasy points despite 4 picks. Talks of the Jets knowing the Lions' plays have been downplayed, but that should mean some more careful planning against the 49ers, who allowed a solid 7.89 adjusted yards per attempt and 20.4 FanDuel points in Week 1 to Kirk Cousins.
- Tyrod Taylor: Taylor was a dreadful 15 of 40 in the opener but still wound up the QB6, thanks to 77 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Saints likely won't give up 48 points for a second straight week, but Taylor on turf against what's looking like a leakier defense than we expected is in play, given his rushing floor.
- Case Keenum: Keenum's debut had hiccups (3 picks), but he also threw for 3 touchdowns and wound up with 22.2 fantasy points and 329 yards. The Oakland Raiders let up 17.2 points last week to Goff.
- Matt Ryan: Ryan was a Week 1 dud but wound up just 2 for 10 in the red zone with an interception. Last season, Ryan tallied 15 red zone touchdowns and just 2 picks. Also in 2017, Ryan threw for 300-plus yards and accrued at least 18 fantasy points in each game against the Panthers. Atlanta heads home, where Ryan actually played worse in 2017, but he's not a must-avoid just yet.
Sit If Possible
- Joe Flacco: Flacco was efficient in Week 1, notching a Passing NEP per drop back three times higher than league average, but only 2 of his attempts were deeper than 16 yards, and his average depth of target was merely 6.0 yards, 3.8 yards shy of the first-down marker, on average. His production was boosted by run-after-catch, and he now gets a short week against a divisional foe, the Bengals
- Andy Dalton: Dalton failed to take full advantage of a weak pass defense in Week 1 but did rack up 8.50 adjusted yards per attempt on 28 attempts. Similar to Flacco, Dalton had a shallow average depth of target (5.0 yards) and averaged 3.2 yards shy of the sticks. The combination of a shaky Week 1, a short week, and a tough defense at home against Baltimore put Dalton outside the streaming conversation if you can avoid going there.
- Blake Bortles: Bortles usually has more fantasy upside and safety than he displayed in Week 1, when he posted an average depth of target of just 7.0 yards on 33 attempts.
- Marcus Mariota: Mariota struggled in the opener, generating 6.4 yards per attempt on his 16 passes, and now he is dealing with an elbow injury and the loss of go-to tight end Delanie Walker. He's not a shallow-league start. If Blaine Gabbert starts, he's also a sit in fantasy football against the Houston Texans.
- Ryan Tannehill: The Jets' defense proved they weren't a pushover in Week 1, allowing a minuscule 1.83 adjusted yards per attempt. Tannehill was fine, going 20 for 28 for 230 yards (8.2 per attempt) with a pair of touchdowns and picks. He's not a one-quarterback-league start.
- Nick Foles: Even in a plus-matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Foles is well off the re-draft radar after going 19 of 34 for 117 yards (3.4 per attempt) with a pick in Week 1. However, in 2QB leagues, he's not the worst play against a secondary that just lost Vernon Hargreaves III.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick: A matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles isn't where we want to rely on Fitzmagic. The Eagles generated pressure on 19 of 49 Week 1 pass attempts.
- Derek Carr: Carr just doesn't profile as a strong fantasy performer and now faces a Denver Broncos defense that is still sturdy. Carr posted a 5.2-yard average depth of target and averaged 4.3 yards shy of the sticks. He has just four games with more than 15 fantasy points since the start of 2017.
- Sam Darnold: The Dolphins recorded 3 picks in the opener and gave up just a 52.6% completion rate. For as good as Darnold was overall, it's not worth finding out how good Miami's pass defense might be.
- Josh Allen: Allen should start against the Chargers, but we didn't see enough from him in Week 1 to try anything funny in fantasy. He was 6 of 15 but did throw 4 of those 15 attempts at least 16 yards downfield, completing none.
- Sam Bradford: Bradford went 20 of 34 for 154 yards and a pick in his debut with the Cardinals and now faces a tougher test by way of the Los Angeles Rams' defense.
Start With Confidence
- Todd Gurley: Gurley's 93.7% snap rate and 25 opportunities in Week 1 keep him in the elite tier of fantasy assets regardless of matchup. This week's matchup features an opposition that allowed nearly five yards per carry (4.94) and gave up 133 receiving yards to backs in Week 1.
- Alvin Kamara: Kamara emerged from Week 1 with 5 red zone targets, most of any player, regardless of position. He totaled 3 touchdowns and played on 81.2% of snaps. You're never benching him.
- Melvin Gordon: Gordon handled 20 of 21 running back carries for the Chargers and played 75.6% of his team's snaps. Where he really did damage was through the air: 9 catches on 13 targets for 102 yards. Gordon added an end-zone target and racked up 23.1 half-PPR points despite not scoring. That workload is elite.
- David Johnson: DJ got phased out late with the game out of reach, something that's in the cards for his Cards, who are 13-point underdogs against the Rams. Still, Johnson played 67.9% of snaps and handled 18 opportunities even in a down week.
- Saquon Barkley: Barkley played 77.5% of snaps in Week 1 and tallied 24 of 29 running back opportunities (including 6 targets), a game-script-agnostic workload that we should expect to continue, given his draft stock. The Cowboys let up 4.78 yards per attempt last week.
- Ezekiel Elliott: Zeke handled 19 of 21 running back opportunities for the Cowboys last week while playing 92.2% of snaps. He's got one of the safest workloads in football locked up, so he's matchup-proof, despite offensive line injuries.
- Dalvin Cook: Cook played 80% of the Vikings' snaps and combined for 23 opportunities (16 carries and 7 targets) and 95 yards. He did trail Latavius Murray 3 to 2 in red-zone carries, but the snap count puts Cook in weekly start territory.
- Joe Mixon: Mixon obtained workhorse status in Week 1, playing 76.4% of Cincy's snaps. He accounted for 17 of their 18 running back carries and gathered a career-high 7 targets. You can't bench that workload easily.
- Christian McCaffrey: We can nitpick about McCaffrey's goal-line work, but he did lead the team with 2 carries from inside the 10. Plus, the bottom line is that he played on 85.1% of Carolina's snaps and had 19 opportunities, a number surpassed by only 14 running backs in Week 1. No team faced more running back targets than the Falcons in 2017, and the loss of Greg Olsen helps.
- Kareem Hunt: A Week 1 disappointment from a production standpoint, Hunt has no workload concerns. He played 71.4% of snaps and accounted for 17 of 23 running back opportunities for the Chiefs.
- James Conner: Conner played on 91.7% of snaps in Week 1 and handled all 37 running back opportunities for the Steelers. The Chiefs just saw north of 100 receiving yards out of the backfield last week. He's a locked-in starter without Le'Veon Bell.
- Jordan Howard: Howard played 71.4% of the Bears' snaps in Week 1 and accounted for 20 of 30 running back opportunities. He's now a home favorite against a defense that let up nearly 150 rushing yards to the Broncos in Week 1.
- Jamaal Williams: Williams played 61.7% of snaps in Week 1 and handled 15 of 17 running back carries and 2 of the 5 targets. It's not a great matchup against the Vikings, but the workload puts Williams into near-bellcow territory on a great offense.
- Kenyan Drake: Week 1 was good for Drake. He played 74.2% of the team's snaps and totaled 18 opportunities, compared to 9 for Frank Gore (all of which were carries). Gore was more efficient on the ground, but targets are worth about double for running backs in fantasy football. Drake's workload makes him a weekly start for now.
- Lamar Miller: Miller was a Week 1 workhorse, playing 77.0% of snaps and seeing 22 of 28 running back opportunities for the Texans, including 4 red zone carries. Tennessee allowed 4.74 yards per carry to the Dolphins last week.
- Tevin Coleman: Coleman equaled Devonta Freeman with 11 opportunities in Week 1 and broke a 50% snap rate by himself. He scored in the red zone and has flex appeal in Atlanta's dome. With Freeman out, Coleman is set for a big workload in Week 2.
Consider If Needed
- Alex Collins: Javorius Allen led the backfield with 30 snaps in Week 1; Collins played 27, and Kenneth Dixon played 22, meaning they all played between 27.5% and 37.5% of the possible snaps. That's not a good recipe for success. But not all is lost for Collins. Dixon actually led the backfield with 13 attempts, while Collins had 7, which is a bit misleading. First-half carries were divvied up 6 for Collins, 1 for Allen, and 0 for Dixon. Allen had 6 first-half targets. Based on that, we can assume that Collins and Allen are the two go-to pieces in the backfield anyway, and now Dixon is expected to miss time.
- Jay Ajayi: Ajayi started slow in the opener but wound up with 15 carries on 29 snaps (40.3%). He had 2 red zone carries, and the Eagles are road favorites. He's not a slam dunk, but his touchdown opportunity against a bad defense keeps him in play, while the low snap count keeps him out of confident starter range.
- Adrian Peterson: Washington is a heavy home favorite, exactly the type of script you want for Peterson, who handled 26 carries last week, including 7 red zone carries and 3 carries from inside the five (both league-bests).
- LeSean McCoy: The bottom fell out for McCoy in Week 1, and he saw just 10 opportunities for 21 yards on an offense that couldn't move the ball. The Bills are touchdown underdogs but are at home and should lean on the run game for as long as possible with Allen under center. McCoy still played 53.1% of snaps in the opener, and that's not a terrible mark for a low-end running back play.
- Carlos Hyde: Hyde handled 22 carries and had 2 targets on a 52.8% snap rate. That's not quite workhorse status, but two-thirds of the 27 running backs with at 50% snap rate in Week 1 produced at least 10 half-PPR points.
- Royce Freeman: Sure, he's losing third-down and receiving work, but the Broncos are touchdown favorites at home, the type of script you drafted Freeman for in the first place. He still led the backfield with a 39.2% snap rate.
- Dion Lewis: Lewis led the Titans' backfield, playing a whopping 71.0% of snaps and seeing 24 of 35 running back opportunities, including 2 red zone carries.
- T.J. Yeldon: Leonard Fournette is not expected to play through a hamstring injury. Yeldon proved capable enough to be the guy last week, handling 21 opportunities on a 61.9% snap rate. If Fournette sits, we can consider Yeldon a flex option.
- Rex Burkhead and James White: Burkhead and White are flex options this week. They essentially each played 50% of the team's snaps in the opener. Burkhead totaled 21 opportunities to 14 for White (9 of which were targets). Keep an eye on Burkhead's status, as he entered concussion protocol.
- Chris Thompson: Thompson played on 41.8% of snaps in Week 1 and saw 7 targets, 9th-most at the running back position, even in a blowout in Washington's favor (all 7 targets came in the first half). The added value of receiving work relative to carries will keep Thompson in the flex conversation most weeks.
- Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell: Both are in the flex conversation for Week 2 at home. They each played 24 snaps (40.0%). Powell tallied 14 opportunities (12 carries and 2 targets), while Crowell saw 10 carries, including 4 red zone carries and a 62-yard touchdown romp. Neither are safe starts, but such an even split between just the two of them put each in flex territory.
- Alfred Morris and Matt Breida: Breida edged Morris in Week 1 opportunities (13 to 12), but Morris played 51.5% of snaps compared to 45.5% for Breida. Morris had 5 red zone carries, as well, and now he's a home favorite against a rush defense that allowed 6.32 yards per tote in Week 1. Both are in the flex conversation.
- Duke Johnson: Johnson had a 46.1% snap rate in the opener and totaled 11 opportunities (5 carries and 6 targets). He hauled in just 1 of 6 targets, though, meaning he had a lot of missed opportunity on his 26 routes (via ProFootballFocus).
- Derrick Henry: Henry had a red zone carry and a long touchdown that got called back, but he played just 29.0% of snaps and is now tethered to either an injured quarterback or Blaine Gabbert. Dion Lewis had 8 targets, compared to 1 for Henry. So, we'd need a touchdown from Henry, and red zone visits aren't guaranteed in Week 2. He's close to sit territory given such bad Week 1 usage.
- Phillip Lindsay: Lindsay could be a thorn in the side of Royce Freeman. The Broncos are favorites, but Lindsay had 13 carries on early downs last week, and his receiving work boosts his floor.
Sit If Possible
- Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny: Carson and Penny split opportunities (12) and snaps (25) equally. Coach-speak indicates that Carson will have the edge in Week 2, but road underdog status pushes both out of the picture in shallow leagues.
- Marshawn Lynch: Lynch played on just 36.5% of snaps and had 13 opportunities on Monday night for just 49 yards total. You're banking on a touchdown, but the Raiders are nearly touchdown underdogs on the road. Sit Lynch if you can swing it.
- Peyton Barber: Barber's 72.7% snap rate and handling of 19 of 24 running back opportunities indicate he's a workhorse, but the Bucs' total is hovering around 20 points, and the Eagles held the Falcons' more talented backs in check in the opener.
- Kerryon Johnson: Johnson will get a shot to prove he can be the early-down back for the Lions, given LeGarrette Blount's injury, but Detroit is a fairly heavy road underdog -- not the script to deploy Johnson, with Theo Riddick in tow as the third-down back.
- Ty Montgomery: Montgomery played an okay 38.3% of snaps in Week 1 but had just 7 total opportunities, not enough to consider unless you're in a deep league.
- Tarik Cohen: Cohen played just 40.0% of snaps last week and drew 4 targets; as a home favorite, he should be an afterthought again.
- Jordan Wilkins, Marlon Mack, and Nyheim Hines: Wilkins (56.1% of snaps) and Hines (45.1%) led the backfield as a two-man duo in the opener, but Mack's possible return limits each. Hines should carry some PPR value without Mack, as the Colts project to trail based on the betting line, and Wilkins is a borderline start if you need, but you should bench these guys if possible -- which is why they're in the "Bench If Possible" tier.
- Latavius Murray: Murray had 11 carries in Week 1 but just 4 in the first half. The matchup with Green Bay projects to be neutral or even negative, so Murray would need a goal-line plunge to give us much, based on the opening-week usage.
- Darren Sproles and Corey Clement: Sproles and Clement each had three second-half opportunities after Ajayi took over, so we can't get caught up in the surprising usage for them in the opener.
- C.J. Anderson: Anderson had a carry from inside the 10, while McCaffrey and Newton each had one (Newton scored). Alex Armah also scored from inside the 10. Without the guaranteed goal-line work, Anderson is a desperation play at best, as he played just 12 snaps total.
- Giovani Bernard: Bernard played just 14 snaps in Week 1, a 25.5% snap rate, and had 2 opportunities.
Start With Confidence
- Antonio Brown: Brown converted an end zone target for a touchdown and, via FantasyADHD.com, compiled 16 total targets (39.0% of his team's targets) and 164 air yards (50.0%).
- Julio Jones: Jones racked up 198 yards and 435 air yards (a massive 64.3% air yards share) on 23 targets (a 29.1% target market share) against the Panthers last season, and he's up to his old ways in 2018 with more than three-quarters of Atlanta's Week 1 air yards and 2 end zone targets (but no touchdowns to show for it).
- Michael Thomas: Thomas played 95.3% of snaps, saw 17 targets in Week 1, and caught 16 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. He's a weekly lock.
- A.J. Green: Green dominated the Bengals' pass-game usage in Week 1. He played north of 94% of snaps, had 28.6% of their targets, and 69.8% of their air yards. He's matchup proof with that type of elite target data.
- Odell Beckham: Beckham came through in a tough matchup, catching 11 of 15 targets against the Jags last week. His 41.7% target share and 61.6% air yards share were absolutely dominant.
- DeAndre Hopkins: Nuk was somewhat held in check in Week 1, turning 11 targets and 119 air yards into 78 yards and 8 catches. You know you've got a weekly lock when 11 targets and a 31.6% air yards share is considered a down week.
- Keenan Allen: Allen's 11 targets gave him a 22.0% target market share, yet his 95 air yards were only a 19.7% rate. That's just nitpicky, however, as Allen faces either Rafael Bush or fourth-round rookie Taron Johnson in the slot, both of whom allowed a touchdown in slot coverage last week (as well as all 5 targets to be caught).
- Tyreek Hill: Hill dominated on 8 targets (a 32.0% target market share), generating 169 receiving yards and 146 air yards (42.7%). He benefitted from a punt return and a short shovel pass, but his rapport with Mahomes is beyond promising.
- Adam Thielen: Thielen netted 12 targets and 157 air yards, 34.3% and 63.8% market shares, respectively. He certainly had the best opportunity in Week 1 among Vikings receivers.
- Stefon Diggs: Diggs had just 6 targets (17.1% -- a little concerning) but a 31.3% air yards market share and converted his end-zone target for a touchdown in Week 1. The matchup with the Packers isn't tough enough to avoid for Diggs.
- Mike Evans: Evans accounted for 25.0% of the Bucs' Week 1 targets and was the only Buc to top 5 targets, indicating that he's getting fed first and foremost. The Eagles allowed 6 games of at least 20.0 half-PPR points in 2017 (second-most) and allowed Julio Jones to torch them in Week 1.
- Davante Adams: Adams caught 5 of 10 targets in his lone game against the Vikings last season, but he did total 54 yards and score in that one. All 10 targets came from Brett Hundley, as Rodgers was injured after 4 attempts. In the opener in 2018, 7 of Rodgers' 30 attempts went to Adams.
- Jarvis Landry: Landry's Week 1 workload makes him nearly a must-start: 91.0% of snaps, 15 targets (a 38.5% market share), and 214 air yards (52.8%). Patrick Robinson is a tough slot matchup, but Landry split out wide 35.0% of the time in Week 1, via ProFootballFocus.
- Golden Tate: Tate earned a 28.8% target share (15 targets) in the opener and gets a matchup with San Fran, who just let up more than 100 yards to slot receivers in Week 1.
- Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders is a locked-in play with his workload: 11 targets and an 86.5% snap rate while working primarily out of the slot in Week 1.
- Demaryius Thomas: Thomas had 10 targets in the opener and caught his end zone target. He's clearly the secondary option behind Sanders, but the passing offense still funnels through the two of them.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu boasted a 75.0% snap rate in Week 1 and had 8 targets for 119 yards, though he did damage on a catch-and-run. There's no reason he can't do that again against an awful Chiefs secondary, one that lucked out on a few key drops by the Chargers in Week 1.
Consider If Needed
- T.Y. Hilton: Hilton's 11 targets translate into a 21.2% market share, and his 108 air yards were 37.6% (17th in Week 1, for some added context). That's not top-tier usage from a market share standpoint, so if Luck doesn't throw 53 times again, Hilton could find himself dependent on a big play. Still, Hilton moved around and played only about a quarter of his snaps from the slot last week, and he's not a bench option in this matchup.
- Larry Fitzgerald: Fitz doesn't have a matchup advantage this week, but he did play 98.1% of snaps and see 10 targets for 76 yards in Week 1. He commanded an elite 29.4% target market share and 43.3% air yards market share, making him a consideration if you don't have three stud wideouts to play ahead of him.
- Allen Robinson: Robinson's 20.4% target share and 51.7% air yards share answered a lot of questions about his usage with the Bears. he posted a 15.3-yard average depth of target and draws a matchup with a secondary that allowed a pair of top-18 performances last week. Robinson is a flex-worthy play if you need him.
- Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp: These thee will be bucketed together most weeks, and the Week 1 usage keeps them similar enough that we may as well consider them all in this tier. None can be started with confidence, as targets were divvied up in Week 1: 9 for Woods and Kupp and 8 for Cooks. They each ran between 30 and 33 routes. Cooks had the best production and also drew big penalties downfield, but it was Woods who led in air yards with a whopping 161, compared to 88 for Cooks and 83 for Kupp. They all played 61 snaps (96.8%). They're all weekly starts, but none seem likely to emerge as confident, can't-miss weekly options given the target dispersal. If anything, we can assume it'll be a Cooks week, as he should line up away from Patrick Peterson on the left side of the field, but Woods will also get turns against Jamar Taylor while Kupp mans the slot.
- Kenny Stills: Stills is a great example of why I like to bucket players into tiers. Was his Week 1 great? Sure was. Is he someone you should sit because of the matchup? Not really, but the matchup isn't a cakewalk. Is he a player you absolutely have to get into your starting lineup at the expense of a more established option? No. So he's someone to consider if you need to use him rather than a "must-start" or a "must-sit" player. Stills was in on 95.2% of Miami's Week 1 snaps, netting 5 targets, 4 catches, 106 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He did, though, have only 80 air yards, and the Jets' corners aren't an enviable matchup.
- Nelson Agholor: Agholor had 10 Week 1 targets for just 33 yards and just 49 air yards, but 10 targets isn't anything to scoff at, even if the results weren't there. The Bucs allowed double-digit catches in the slot last week.
- Corey Davis: Davis has quarterback concerns, but he saw 13 targets in the opener, a 34.1% target market share, for 112 air yards (43.2%). He caught just 6 for 62 yards but did have 2 red zone targets in case you think the Titans score well despite their offensive situation. Mariota threw 7 of 16 attempts to Davis; Gabbert threw 6 of 22 passes to Davis.
- Randall Cobb: Cobb caught 8 of his team-high 9 targets from Rodgers in Week 1 and played 86.7% of the team's snaps. Cobb played almost exclusively from the slot in Week 1, which should get him a matchup against Mike Hughes, who let up 52 yards on 3 targets in the slot last week.
- Marvin Jones: Jones totaled 3 end zone targets on 8 total looks, but he fell to third on the pecking order in volume and now faces Richard Sherman. You probably can't bench Jones, but if we were merely pointing out players with a lot of red flags for Week 2, Jones would probably be listed as a traditional sit.
- Jamison Crowder: Crowder ranked third on his own team with a 62.0% snap rate and turned 4 targets into just 32 yards, but he did have 3 of his 4 targets in the first half.
- Tyler Lockett: Lockett saw just 4 targets and 37 air yards but should see a solid workload in Week 2 out of the slot, where he ran two-thirds of his routes last week. He played 98.2% of snaps, as well, suggesting that he was a key piece of the offense regardless of Baldwin's injury.
- Kenny Golladay: Golladay had a career-high 12 targets in Week 1 and played 92.9% of snaps, leading all Lions receivers. He shouldn't run many routes against Sherman, either, putting Golladay firmly in the flex conversation in Week 2.
- Michael Crabtree: Crabtree co-led the Ravens with 6 first-half targets in Week 1, yet he tallied only 61 total air yards, a 25.2% market share but a low raw total. He caught his lone end-zone target. Overall, he had he best Week 1 usage of the Ravens' receivers.
- Devin Funchess: Even with Olsen seeing 9 targets in Week 17 against the Falcons, saw 6 of his own and had 7 in the Week 9 matchup, which Olsen missed. In those two outings alone, Funchess held a 23.2% target market share and a 35.1% air yards market share, great usage. His market shares should be solid; it's just the raw volume that is always a letdown.
- Pierre Garcon: Garcon failed to convert an end zone target in Week 1 and saw 6 total passes go his way for just 21 yards. He did play a receiver-high 80.3% of snaps, and Marquise Goodwin's uncertain status for Week 2 should lead to a big workload for Garcon again. He just needs to avoid Darius Slay.
- Sterling Shepard: Shep's 7 targets were in line with what he did with Beckham healthy last year. He ran 69.4% of his routes from the slot last week, so he's a firm play if you're looking at a low-end flex spot.
- Ted Ginn Jr.: Ginn's 6 targets comprised 13.6% of New Orleans' Week 1 attempts, but he played a healthy 78.1% of snaps. Ginn was targeted twice while inside the 10-yard line, including once in the end zone.
- Tyrell Williams: Williams played 75.6% of snaps in Week 1 and had 5 targets (but just 2 catches for 8 yards and a touchdown). Tyrell actually had a pair of end-zone targets and another that featured him inside the 10, so that's great usage, and he has a snap count edge on the receivers below him on the depth chart.
- Mohamed Sanu: Sanu accounted for 14 targets against the Panthers last season with a minuscule average depth of 4.9 yards. His snap rate of 80.0% in Week 1 make him a low-end PPR flex if needed.
Sit If Possible
- Chris Hogan: We saw the floor last week in what was a good matchup (1 catch on 5 targets). Now, Hogan gets a tough matchup without guaranteed volume. He's someone you should try to bench if you can.
- Amari Cooper: Cooper is the type of player you'd expect to see as a "sit" after he drew 3 targets on 69 snaps for 20 air yards and 9 receiving yards. He now faces a Broncos secondary that won't give him many advantageous matchups, even if he moves around.
- Sammy Watkins: Watkins caught 3 of 5 targets, but he wasn't a deep threat, with an average depth of target of just 5.4 yards in Week 1.
- Will Fuller: We'll be excited to jump back in with Fuller, given his performance with Watson last season, but there are offensive line concerns, and Fuller had a 15.9-yard average depth of target last season. For that reason and the hamstring injury, the big-play may not be there in his return.
- Chris Godwin: With news that DeSean Jackson is set to play in Week 2, it is harder to get excited about Godwin, who played 69.7% of snaps in Week 1 and ran 24 routes.
- Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa: Anderson finished Week 1 with just 1 target, a 41-yard launch, but played only 35 snaps (58.3%). The game got out of hand, but the low snaps and low targets are a concern, regardless of how the game went. Conversely, Enunwa gathered 10 targets on just 40 snaps and a team-high 20 routes, but he played just 40 snaps and had 20 routes. If low volume is in the cards, we need guaranteed efficiency, not something the Jets' offense affords us.
- Jordy Nelson: Nelson played 97.3% of snaps but had 4 targets and 23 air yards, usage that suggests an ugly week against a tough secondary.
- Danny Amendola: Amendola's preseason didn't translate into the regular season. He played a sturdy 72.6% of snaps but had 6 targets for 26 yards and just 50 air yards. The upside will always be capped from a downfield perspective, and if he needs to fight off Jakeem Grant (7 targets) and Albert Wilson (4 targets, including an end-zone target), he can't be trusted in our lineups.
- Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson: Doctson led the team with 88.6% of snaps played but had no first-half targets (he wound up with 3 total); meanwhile, Richardson had 3 of his 6 targets come in the first half. Richardson would be the preference if you had to choose, but neither are shallow-league starts even in a stellar matchup.
- Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley: You can't trust any Dallas receiver after that Week 1 showing. Beasley was the lead option with 8 targets and a 67.2% snap rate. Hurns' 59.4% snap rate was the only other mark above 50%. That doesn't cut it.
- Travis Benjamin and Mike Williams: The matchup is apparently strong here, and we just saw the Ravens' receivers pick apart the Bills, but the usage for the tertiary and and quaternary Chargers receivers makes them bench-first options. Benjamin played 57.3% and Williams played 53.7% of snaps. Williams had 6 targets; Benjamin had 5. Benjamin had a whopping 152 air yards (31.5%) but one catch. Williams caught 5 of 6 targets for 81 yards but barely broke a 50.0% snap rate. They're both on the fringe of a flex spot in 12-team leagues, but they didn't really come through even when Rivers threw 51 times.
- John Brown and Willie Snead: Smokey Brown found the end zone in Week 1 on an end-zone target, and he had another target on the two. That's good usage near the goal line, but he tallied just 4 total targets. We can blame the blowout, but Crabtree and Snead had 6 targets each. With so little separating the trio of receivers, we should exercise caution, given the low total an short week of preparation.
- Tyler Boyd and John Ross: Boyd led this duo in snaps: 87.3% to 65.5%. Yes, Ross scored, but he totaled 2 targets, 1 catch, and 3 yards; Boyd had 5 targets. With a short week brewing, Boyd and Ross are off the season-long radar in shallow leagues until we see more separation and air yards their way.
- Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones: Benjamin led the Bills with 7 targets in Week 1 and had a strong average depth of target (16.1 yards) but caught just 1 pass for 10 yards. Jones had 6 targets for 26 yards and actually saw 4 of Allen's 15 attempts to lead the team. But you'd really have to be desperate to be looking here in a tough matchup.
- Calvin Ridley: Ridley ran 38 routes, according to PFF, which was only 7 fewer than Julio Jones and 4 fewer than Mohamed Sanu. But Ridley saw just 2 targets and no catches. He's a player to consider actively benching whenever possible.
Start With Confidence
- Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski left early in last year's playoff game against Jacksonville, but his 8-target, 123-yard, 1-touchdown Week 1 show he's ready to go, regardless of matchup.
- Travis Kelce: Kelce's struggles against the Chargers continued into the 2018 season. The Steelers have stifled tight ends since the start of last year (allowing just a single tight end to top 12.5 half-PPR points: Rob Gronkowski). But you're starting Kelce.
- Zach Ertz: Ertz had 10 targets in the opener, and you're never going to bench that type of volume at the tight end position. Just know that the Bucs are a tough tight end defense. In 2017, only Eric Ebron hit double-digit half-PPR points against them, and it took him 11 targets to do so.}
- Jordan Reed: Reed ended the first half last week with 4 catches on 4 targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. He had just 1 more target after that, so we don't need to worry about the fact that he was outnsnapped by Vernon Davis (47 to 41).
- Jack Doyle: Doyle's 10 targets averaged just 5.9 yards downfield, in line with Luck's average depth of target. Doyle lost out on 2 end zone targets to new teammate Eric Ebron, but he's the de facto WR2 for the Colts and meshes well with a low-aDOT Luck early on.
- George Kittle: Kittle played 77.3% of snaps and turned 9 targets into 90 yards with plenty of missed opportunity because of a drop. Kittle had 2 targets featuring him inside the 10, with one of them being an end zone target.
- Trey Burton: Burton fell flat in Week 1, catching 1 of 6 targets for 15 yards. However, his 6 targets and 29.0% air yards share project him as the secondary option behind Robinson in Chicago's offense. He also notched a more-than-healthy 87.1% snap share, cementing him as a key piece in the offense.
- Evan Engram: Engram caught 8 of 12 targets for 98 yards in two games against Dallas last year. That's nothing to bank on, especially after a 2-catch, 18-yard game last week. However, few tight ends have 90% of snaps locked up like Engram does.
- David Njoku: Njoku's 7 targets accounted for 17.9% of Tyrod Taylor's throws, a market share that ranked 8th in Week 1 for a tight end. His 87.6% snap rate ranked 11th at the position. He's a borderline TE1 with that workload against the Saints, especially with Josh Gordon out.
Consider If Needed
- Jared Cook: Cook caught 4 of 13 targets against the Broncos last year, but he saw 12 targets alone in the opener, and Carr hugged the line of scrimmage with his passes in Week 1, a sign that Cook could flirt with double-digit targets again.
- Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph had 2 targets (not great) on an 83.1% snap rate (pretty great). He converted one of them from 11 yards out for a touchdown. The market share is too low to make Rudolph a confident start, however.
- Jimmy Graham: All four of Graham's targets came from Rodgers in Week 1, but that's an 11.1% market share -- despite a 98.3% snap rate. The Vikings allowed 10.0 yards per target to George Kittle last week.
- Benjamin Watson: Watson's Saints are massive home favorites, and he played 79.7% of snaps in the opener. He saw 4 targets (1 red zone target), as well, putting him in low-end streamer territory, given the high-octane offense.
- Ricky Seals-Jones: RSJ played a massive 92.5% of snaps in the opener but saw 6 targets for only 19 yards. His 25.5% air yards market share ranked 7th at the position in Week 1.
Sit If Possible
- Eric Ebron: Ebron had 2 end zone targets but fell shy of a 50.0% snap rate and wound up with 5 total targets, a 9.6% market share. You're chasing touchdowns if you start him.
- O.J. Howard: Howard saw only 2 targets (catching both for 54 yards) despite playing 65.2% of snaps (43 in total). The Eagles allowed just 4 tight ends to hit 10.0 half-PPR points last year, so this isn't the matchup to get overly optimistic.
- Austin Hooper: Hooper finds himself on a home favorite, which is a good sign for tight ends. He played 84.3% of snaps in Week 1, ranking 15th at the position. He's fine from an attrition standpoint but not an active start option.
- Tyler Eifert: Eifert played just 22 snaps, a 40% rate. That's not enough to warrant a start in shallow leagues, considering how touchdown-dependent Eifert has been in his career.
- Charles Clay: Clay was targeted just once on Allen's 15 attempts and twice total in Week 1. The Chargers kept Kelce in check (1 catch on 6 targets for 6 yards) last week.
- Antonio Gates: Gates played an okay 40.2% of snaps but wound up with only 3 targets, none of which were inside the 40. He did convert a two-point conversion, but he's not a shallow-league play.