A surprise-laden Week 1 gave NFL fans nine comeback wins, shootouts and ballsy decisions.
Among the surprises were several fantasy football breakout performances — the Detroit Lions found a way to score 39 points despite the absence of “Megatron,” and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers utterly stuffed the Atlanta Falcons run game. Where does the league go from here? Which performances were the real deal, and which were frauds?
For starters, don’t expect the San Francisco 49ers to do to the Carolina Panthers anything slightly resembling what they did to the Los Angeles Rams. And definitely don’t hold your breath waiting for the San Diego Chargers to compile 388 yards against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that allowed 294 to the Green Bay Packers.
When sifting through the coal in search of a diamond to bolster your weekly fantasy football team, this comes into play. Particularly early in the season, players have to toe the fine line between “high-priced locks” and “discount flyers.”
That being said, here are the top locks and flyers of Week 2.
Despite a disappointing Week 1 loss to the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots, Carson Palmer ($8,200) led the Arizona Cardinals with 271 passing yards and two touchdowns — 18.9 fantasy points. Those numbers will see a jump, when the Cards host the Bucs on Sunday afternoon.
While Tampa Bay slowed the Falcon running game, it did little against Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and company. The “Dirty Bird” passing game bears a striking resemblance to that of the high-flying red birds. The results of this game will show that.
Trevor Siemian ($6,400) did not exactly impress in his first-career start, but that was against the Carolina Panthers‘ top-tier defense. In his second go-around, though, he will stare down an Indianapolis Colts secondary that was torched by the Lions’ attack, led by running backs Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah.
Not only will Anderson ($7,800) play a key role in the Bronco air attack, he will also have lanes through the Colt defense that was ripped for 116 yards on the ground in a week ago. Another promising play is Ezekiel Elliot ($7,900) against a Washington group that was hit for 147 rushing yards against a Pittsburgh Steelers squad sans Le’Veon Bell.
Former Oakland Raider Rashad Jennings ($6,300) will look to follow up an 8.3-fantasy point performance by torching the same New Orleans Saints defense that was shredded for a league-high 167 yards by a less-than-imposing Raiders run game.
The only question regarding New Orleans-native Odell Beckham Jr., facing a Saints secondary that gave up 319 in the air to go with their 167 allowed on the ground, is will Victor Cruz‘s return to form cost him targets. Along with his Cajun quarterback, “OBJ” is going to cook the Saints like Gumbo, and tell the “Nola” fans precisely Who Dat.
Like Beckham, Seattle Seahawks top target Doug Baldwin ($7,000) is an incredibly reliable play. Unlike the Giants standout, Baldwin somehow remains among the lower-salary No. 1 options. Against any team, he is a smart play. Against a Rams secondary that struggled with Blaine Gabbert and the 9ers, he is a downright must.
The Lions can be expected to throw the ball nearly 40 times again in Week 2. Eric Ebron ($5,500) will be heavily targeted again. Save yourself some salary by taking the very affordable Detroit big man over the likes of Greg Olsen or Jordan Reed.
Keep your eye on the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ Julius Thomas, who is on the path to a rebound season after dealing with injuries much of 2015. If he is back to his Bronco-esque form, his stock will skyrocket right through the ceiling.
When looking for a kicker there is a simple algorithm to follow: look for a team that will move the ball, but may have difficulty finishing drives in the endzone. This week, Justin Tucker ($4,800) will not only get three-plus extra-point attempts, he will also get a few more field goal attempts. Just another ho-hum double-digit output from the Baltimore Ravens leg-man.
Don’t overthink this one. The Seahawks, and one of the best defenses in the game, will take on the only team to be shutout in Week 1. Not only did the Rams offense struggle to move the ball, they had a tough time keeping it away from the opposition. “The Legion of Boom” should be expected to record more takeaways than the two swiped by the 49ers.