Aaron Rodgers (QB, Packers)
When Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Rodgers’ status for Sunday’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings he said, “This is no layup…that’s why it’s a day-to-day situation.”
Rodgers is working on the sidelines to rehab his sprained knee, but backups DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle have been taking all the first team snaps in practice.
If Rodgers plays, there is no question fantasy owners should have him active regardless of his High Injury Risk and Below Average Health Performance Factor (HPF). Rodgers on one good leg is better than most quarterbacks on two healthy legs.
James White (RB, Patriots)
The Pats have a problem in their backfield. Aside from RB James White and FB James Develin, they don’t have anyone healthy to hand the ball off to. Jeremy Hill is on injured reserve and Rex Burkhead is in the league’s concussion protocol. Sony Michel continues to be a limited practice participant as he works his way back from knee surgery. The team did sign former Eagles RB Kenjon Barner to handle kick returns but working him into the offense will take time, so he’s unlikely to be ready by Sunday. Develin is a traditional fullback in that he is best suited to block and take the occasional carry for short yardage. So, White is poised to take the lion’s share of the RB touches this week. Look for the Patriots to feature their passing game against the Jacksonville defense, which means White will again be a terrific option in PPR leagues.
Nelson Agholor (WR, Eagles)
The Eagles will again be without the services of their No. 1 WR Alshon Jeffery, which means Agholor will step up and take that role. He clearly did so in the opening game against the Falcons, as he received 10 of the 14 WR targets, and the wide receivers received 66% of all the pass attempts. The Eagles face a Buccaneers squad that allowed a stunning 439 passing yards to the New Orleans Saints, whose running game could only muster 43 total rushing yards.
Marcus Mariota (QB, Titans)
Mariota injured his elbow in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins and played just awful. He completed 9 of 16 attempts for 103 yards with two interceptions thrown. He had a lowly completion rate of just 56.3%. But let’s set aside last week’s debacle and look at the matchup this week. The Titans have a tough matchup for Week 2 against the Houston Texans. The Texans have a stout pass rush that gets to the quarterback quickly, and Mariota’s elbow is still not healed. The Titans lost their two starting offensive tackles in Week 1, and they’ll need all the help they can get to keep Mariota protected from the fearsome Texans pass rush. Mariota’s injury has him at an Elevated Risk for Injury and his Health Performance Factor is just Below Average. Fantasy owners should consider other options if they are available.
DeShone Kizer (QB, Packers)
If Aaron Rodgers is unable to play the Week 2 matchup against the Vikings, don’t even consider playing Kizer for one second. The Minnesota defense is tough. Just ask San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who competed 15 of 33 pass attempts (45.5%) for just 261 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions; and he was viciously sacked three times.
Devonta Freeman (RB, Falcons)
Freeman began the season with an Elevated Injury Risk, and the fact that he was unable to finish the game in Week 1 serves as validation for the Inside Injuries’ algorithm. Freeman has not practiced since leaving that game, so the injury alone is cause enough to bench Freeman for Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers.
However, if you’re at all skeptical about the injury, there are three stat-related facts you should be aware of when making your final decision about Freeman. First, since Week 4 of the 2017 season, Freeman has topped 12 carries exactly twice, including one game in which Tevin Coleman was on the sidelines with an injury. Second, in the eight games in which he’s played against a Ron Rivera-coached defense, Freeman has just two touchdowns. The final nail in the coffin has to be this: During the regular season last year, Weeks 1-16, just two running backs scored more than 17 PPR points against the Carolina Panthers: Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. (a tip of the cap to Mike Tagliere of Fantasypros.com for those three statistics).
Derrick Henry (RB, Titans)
Henry was clearly the RB2 for the Titans in week 1, as Dion Lewis made the most of his touches. Lewis ended up with 110 yards and a touchdown while Henry could only scramble up 31 yards with his 11 touches. While we were led to believe the workload would be divided somewhat evenly between these two running backs, in reality Lewis played 49 snaps versus just 20 for Henry. Things may not work out this way every week, but Lewis is currently the Titans running back to own. Given the way Henry plodded when he did get the ball, he can be dropped in redraft leagues.
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seahawks)
Doug Baldwin is going to be sitting this one out with a couple of bad knees, so why am I advising you to bench Lockett when he’s the No.2 receiver? The answer is simple if you know the roles of the receivers. Lockett is an outside receiver. He has big play capabilities when he can break one deep for a long gain or a touchdown. The plays that go his way are the high risk/high reward type plays.
However, just like Doug Baldwin, Brandon Marshall is best suited to the short and middle game – the routes over the middle that look to split a zone defense, or routes where there is a bad matchup in man coverage. Marshall will eat up routes like that and burn the Broncos’ secondary for a bunch of short and mid-range gains. The Denver defense is built to prevent those big long plays and get to the quarterback quickly. If Russell Wilson can scramble enough to gain a few extra seconds, Marshall will find a way to get open in the middle of the field and catch plenty of passes. Start Marshall in PPR formats but bench Lockett who just won’t get enough targets to matter in Week 2.
*By Tim McCullough