Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

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Fantasy Football Week 2 Sweet & Sour

Roethlisberger, Conner, Funchess Among Hot Starts

Matt Citak
September 14, 2018 - 9:15 am
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What a crazy opening week to the 2018 NFL season.

Week 1 saw its fair share of madness, from the copious amount of injuries to the multiple upsets, all the way down to Aaron Rodgers' Willis Reed-esque comeback.

And we still have 16 weeks to go.

Luckily for you, I'll be here throughout the fantasy season sharing lineup suggestions.

Players who look poised for a big week will fall under the "Sweet" category, while guys that might be in for a tough matchup will fall in the "Sour" section. In addition, I'll add a couple of sleeper picks at each position for those in need of a streaming option.

MORE: Janoris Jenkins Leaves Giants Practice Due To 'Family Situation'

Let me preface this article by saying I won't be telling you the obvious. You don't need me to tell you to start Todd Gurley or Antonio Brown each week. And a player falling in the "Sour" section doesn't necessarily mean you should bench him -- it means you should lower your expectations for that player given the circumstances that week (matchup, injuries, etc.). While I want these recommendations to help you make lineup decisions, at the end of the day, you have to go with your gut. 

Without further ado, here are your Week 2 recommendations. 

Quarterbacks

Sweet

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Big Ben's home/away splits are fascinating. Since 2014, Roethlisberger averages 24 fantasy points at home, but only 14.7 points on the road (including the postseason). This week, he's home playing an awful Chiefs defense that just allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Considering the potency of Kansas City's offense, this has all of the makings of a shootout. Make sure Roethlisberger is in your lineup.

Alex Smith, Washington Redskins -- Despite the Chiefs discarding him over the offseason, Smith showed us in Week 1 that there's plenty left in the tank. Smith threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins' win and looked strong doing it. Washington's offense performed like a well-oiled machine against the Cardinals last week and should follow suit this Sunday with a matchup against the lowly Indianapolis Colts. Smith should finish as a top-10 QB this week.

MORE: Lichtenstein: Jets Fans Should Be Wary Of Crash In Home Opener

Sour

Tom Brady, New England Patriots -- In case you missed the intro, I am by no means telling you to bench Brady -- he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and should be started every week. However, if there was one week to consider sitting him, it would be this one. Brady has a daunting matchup against the Jaguars' defense this week. The 41-year-old did throw for 290 yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville in the AFC championship game last season, but New England has a revamped offensive line this year. The Jags are going to pressure Brady early and often in this one, which may lead to the talented QB struggling to put up a dominant stat line. 

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons -- What a rough way to start the season for Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Despite coming just one play short of defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions in Week 1 (similar to last year's NFC playoffs), Ryan looked awful in the season opener. The former MVP QB completed just 48.8 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns and one interception. The Panthers' defense isn't as good as the Eagles', but it appears as if it may take a couple of weeks for Ryan to shake off the offseason rust. I'm looking elsewhere at QB this week.

Sleepers

Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns -- I don't expect the Saints defense to put up two consecutive abysmal performances, but even so, I like Taylor in this one. The mobile quarterback registered 24 fantasy points against the Steelers last week, largely due to his 77 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Cleveland will likely be chasing points on the road against a strong New Orleans offense that will be looking to bounce back, which should give Taylor ample opportunity to score some fantasy points. Taylor is a strong streaming option in Week 2.

Case Keenum, Denver Broncos -- Keenum showed us in Week 1 that his production last season in Minnesota was not just a product of Pat Shurmur's offense. The veteran quarterback completed over 64 percent of his passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. His three interceptions were a bit alarming, but even with the 1-to-1 touchdown-to-turnover ratio, Keenum still finished with a good fantasy day. Going up against a Raiders defense that just got smoked by Jared Goff, Keenum has streaming appeal this week.

Running Backs

Sweet

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Le'Veon who? Conner filled in for Pittsburgh's star running back in Week 1, and, boy, did he make the most of the opportunity. The second-year back carried the ball 31 times for 135 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, adding five receptions for 57 yards. But the most important stat from the Steelers' season-opening win was Conner playing on 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps. We don't know how long Bell will continue to hold out, so take advantage of Conner's starts while you still can. Kansas City just allowed the Chargers' running backs to amass over 290 total yards last week. Conner is a must-start RB1.

Steelers running back James Conner runs against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
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Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins -- Look at that old man go! Peterson saw a ton of volume in Week 1, finishing the day with 26 carries and three targets. The 33-year-old also received all three of Washington's running back touches inside the 10-yard line, showing that he's the team's clear goal-line back. While I don't expect him to continue this production on such a high number of touches all season, Peterson's legs look fresh at this point. As noted with Smith, the Colts' defense is awful this year. Peterson is looking at another good fantasy day in Week 2.

Sour

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers -- Williams did not look great in Week 1 going up against an improving Bears defense. The young back averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, and things are not going to get any better this week against a stingy Vikings defense. Since the start of last season, only one team has totaled over 100 rushing yards or more than two touchdowns against Minnesota. Williams will also likely have to stay back in pass protection for a lot of this game. Keep Williams on your bench in Week 2. 

MORE: Jets' Johnson: Trade For Darnold 'Most Important Decision' Team Has Made In Years

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans -- Henry was severely outplayed in Week 1 by Dion Lewis, which does not bode well for the bruising back's season outlook. Henry is going to need volume in order to be a productive fantasy running back this season, and that doesn't look like it's going to happen playing in a struggling Titans offense while competing for touches with the speedy Lewis. Considering the injuries along Tennessee's offensive line, along with Marcus Mariota being less than 100 percent, I'm keeping Henry far away from my lineup this week.

Sleepers

James White, New England Patriots -- It doesn't matter how bundled the Patriots' backfield situation may appear. One thing you can count on is White playing a big role in the team's passing game. In Week 1, that meant four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown, to go along with his five carries for 18 yards. Brady targeted White eight times against the Texans, matching Rob Gronkowski for the most on the team. With Brady likely to be under pressure for a lot of Sunday's game, he could lean heavily on short passes to his reliable running back. I'm considering White a borderline must-start in PPR leagues. 

Alfred Morris, San Francisco 49ers -- Morris was far from impressive in his 49ers debut, but let's chalk that up to the rough matchup against the Vikings' defense. Things should be a lot easier for Morris this week as San Francisco will take on the Lions at home. Detroit's run defense was awful against the Jets on Monday, allowing New York's backs to combine for 188 rushing yards and two scores. Matt Breida is another sleeper pick this week, but with Morris out-touching him and receiving the goal-line carries, I'm giving the edge to Morris.

Wide Receivers

Sweet

Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers -- Consider these numbers: In five games without Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen last year, Funchess' total numbers were 39 targets, 405 yards and four touchdowns. Obviously, Benjamin is now in Buffalo, and with Olsen's injury sidelining him at least for the next month, Funchess should see a big uptick in targets this week. He will have to play better than he did last week against the Cowboys (three catches for 41 yards), but the 24-year-old could be in for a big Week 2 performance against a Falcons defense missing a few of their key players on the defensive side of the ball. 

Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess
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Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles -- While you have to like the targets (10) and receptions (eight) Agholor totaled in Week 1, the 33 receiving yards were a disappointment. Dating back to last season, the young receiver has averaged 7.8 targets per game (including the postseason), so you know the opportunity is there for the taking. This week, I expect Agholor to make the most of his chances. Philadelphia has a Week 2 matchup against a Tampa Bay secondary that ranks as one of the worst in the NFL and that just lost its best corner (Vernon Hargreaves) to injured reserve. As long as game flow doesn't play against him, Agholor is in for a big game.

Sour

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders -- I warned about Cooper last week going up against the Rams' defense, and the young receiver answered by catching just one pass for 9 yards. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, I think we're going to see more of the same in Week 2. The Raiders are on the road in Denver this week, facing a Broncos defense that allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last year. Cooper is likely going to face at least some shadow coverage from Chris Harris Jr., which is bad news for Oakland. Cooper is an easy fade this week.

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Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns -- While I am sour on Gordon this week, I still like his season outlook. The talented receiver was out-targeted 15-3 by Jarvis Landry in the Browns' season-opening tie, which further solidifies the reports out of Cleveland all summer that said Landry was developing a strong rapport with Tyrod Taylor. But even with his few targets, Gordon was able to find the end zone in Week 1. Gordon is still shaking off the rust from missing most of camp, and will get back to being a reliable fantasy starter sooner rather than later. But with a tough matchup against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints on Sunday, I'd keep Gordon on my bench for another week. 

Sleepers

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks -- Fantasy football is all about volume. And for Tyler Lockett, he can expect a lot of volume now that Doug Baldwin is sidelined with a knee injury. The speedy receiver caught just three of four targets for 59 yards in Seattle's opener. But if you look at the numbers, you see that Lockett ran 15 of his 21 routes in the slot once Baldwin got hurt and saw a ton of coverage from Denver's Harris. Lockett should have a much easier go this week against a Bears defense that finished in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to slot receivers last season.  

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Godwin was one of my favorite sleepers before the season, and his Week 1 performance made me feel even more confident about my prediction. The young receiver saw just four targets, but turned that into three receptions for 41 yards and an impressive one-handed grab for a first down. More importantly, Godwin played on 70 percent of Tampa Bay's snaps. If DeSean Jackson (concussion) doesn't suit up, Godwin enters the WR3 range, even against a tough Eagles defense. 

Tight Ends

Sweet

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers -- It was only the first game of the season, but anyone who drafted Kittle has to feel great about the young tight end's outlook this year. Kittle finished the season opener with 90 yards on five receptions and nine targets, and looked like Jimmy Garoppolo's clear favorite target. The 49ers play a Lions defense that just allowed the youngest starting quarterback in NFL history, Sam Darnold, to lead his team to 48 points in his first NFL game. Pierre Garcon is likely to see shadow coverage from Darius Slay, which should help open up the field for Kittle. He could easily finish as a top-five tight end this week. 

49ers tight end George Kittle
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Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders -- We've seen this before: Cook excites fantasy owners with a monster performance, just to come crashing back down to earth in the following weeks. It wouldn't surprise me to see this happen yet again, but not until after the tight end puts up another strong game this Sunday. The Raiders are taking on a Broncos team that struggled mightily at covering tight ends last season and allowed Seattle's fourth-round pick, Will Dissly, to total 105 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Cook may regress, but not until he records another positive performance. 

Sour

Trey Burton, Chicago Bears -- Despite all of the preseason buzz surrounding Burton, his Bears debut was rather unimpressive. The 26-year-old tight end reeled in only one of his six passes from Mitch Trubisky, finishing the game with just 15 yards. The six targets were definitely a positive sign, as it ranked second on the team, but the clear disconnect between Burton and his young QB was a little concerning. While I fully expect the two to get back on the same page, it may not happen until after Week 2. The Bears take on the Seahawks this week, and while their defense has taken a hit in recent years, Seattle is still very good against opposing tight ends. Considering the injuries at the position, it may be tough to bench Burton, but I'd be wary of starting the athletic tight end in this one.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings -- Rudolph managed just one reception in Minnesota's opener. Luckily for fantasy owners, that one catch was an 11-yard touchdown grab, saving the tight end from a disaster of a performance. Kirk Cousins only targeted Rudolph twice in Week 1, which is definitely a cause for alarm. Rudolph has always been a touchdown-or-bust tight end, and based on Week 1, it appears as if that will once again be the case for the 28-year-old. While the Packers' secondary is still a work in progress, they did just limit Chicago's Burton to only one catch last week. Rudolph will likely need to find the end zone to have even a decent fantasy performance in this one.

Sleepers

Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints -- Watson received rave reviews throughout New Orleans' training camp for the amazing shape he was in, and it showed in Week 1 as the 37-year-old caught four passes for 44 yards. While there are obviously a lot of mouths to feed in the high-powered Saints offense, Drew Brees has always targeted his tight ends, and Watson is the team's No. 1 pass-catching tight end this year. The Browns' defense is likely going to focus on shutting down Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on Sunday, which means Watson should see his fair share of advantageous matchups. I believe Watson will finish as a top-10 tight end this week.

Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals -- RSJ didn't put up big numbers in the first game of the year, finishing with just three receptions and 19 yards. But the important stat to look at is his six targets, which ranked third on the team behind only Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. The Cardinals have a nightmare matchup against the Rams this week. As we saw Monday night with the Raiders, wide receivers are going to really struggle to get open against Los Angeles' corners (Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib). However, the one way to beat the Rams secondary is through the tight end. (Oakland's Cook totaled nine catches for 180 yards last week.) Starting Seals-Jones is a gamble, but could pay off big for those willing to take the risk.

Matt Citak is a Web producer for WFAN Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewCitak.