Fantasy Football Week 2: Top 5 quarterbacks to start
By William Bologna
Week 1 was full of surprise fantasy studs and duds at the quarterback position. Week 2 will give us a better picture of what to expect from quarterbacks this season.
Stability at the quarterback position is one of the most valuable virtues to make an NFL team great. Although in fantasy football, you shouldn’t be afraid of a little quarterback controversy. I’m not telling you to go out and drop your trusted fantasy starter, but every once in a while, depending on matchups, there could be better options available.
Everybody watched Alex Smith shred the Patriots defense and put up a whopping 31 fantasy points. Matthew Stafford was the second most productive fantasy quarterback, posting 27.1 points. Rounding out the top five are some surprise names: Sam Bradford, Trevor Siemian, and Carson Wentz.
The lesson here is that it won’t always be the elites like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers putting up the most points in fantasy. Both quarterbacks faced a tough matchup, subsequently posting only 10.7 and 16.5 points.
If your projected starting quarterback is facing a tough defense, you should consider exploring a better matchup. These five quarterbacks will be great starts to lead your fantasy team to victory in Week 2.
Next: 5. Carson Palmer
5. Carson Palmer vs. Indianapolis Colts
Carson Palmer will not likely be the quarterback to lead your fantasy team to a championship this year. Although, for Week 2, a favorable matchup against the Colts and the injury to David Johnson add to Palmer’s upside.
The Cardinals are coming off what could be the worst Week 1 in the league. Not only did they lose 23-35 to the Lions at home, but they also lost their star running back for an extended period of time.
The injury to Johnson means that the Cardinals offense will be forced to become more dependent on the passing game. This means more attempts and ultimately more opportunities to produce points for Palmer. Palmer, a veteran, will shine in adversity this week against a bad Colts defense.
Palmer is facing a Colts defense that allowed Jared Goff to throw for over 300 yards and a touchdown. If a young, inexperienced quarterback like Goff can do that to the Colts defense, the possibilities for a savvy veteran like Palmer are endless.
Palmer isn’t necessarily a “must-start,” but he is available in 86 percent of ESPN leagues, andcould be a worthwhile start if your main quarterback is facing a tough matchup.
Next: 4. Alex Smith
4. Alex Smith vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Alex Smith silenced all and any talks of Patrick Mahomes starting this year with his performance in Week 1. Going up against one of the most feared defensive units in the league, Matt Patricia’s New England defense, Smith posted a league high 31 fantasy points. Smith could secretly be surrounded by more weapons than any quarterback in the league, making his fantasy upside enormous.
Last week, Smith didn’t tear apart the Patriots defense alone, he did it with some help. Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce all played exceptionally well, ultimately helping Smith produce. The Eagles defense may be no easy matchup, but they certainly don’t have the same star-power as the Patriots defense.
Last week, the Eagles defense looked impressive against Washington. Although, the Chiefs offense is a far more cohesive unit, as they’ve been developing chemistry for years featuring mostly the same starters.
Week 1 taught us that the weapons on the Chiefs offense are the real deal, and he’s still available in over 50 percent of ESPN leagues. Smith may not be a “dream quarterback,” but he’s good enough to get the ball into the hands of these offensive weapons, making Smith a great start for Week 2.
Next: 3. Russell Wilson
3. Russell Wilson vs. San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson is owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues, meaning there were a lot of disappointed fantasy owners last week. Wilson produced only 8.3 points against the Green Bay Packers last week, despite being a top-10 fantasy quarterback last year.
After last week’s performance, many may consider benching Wilson. Although, even great quarterbacks like Wilson sometimes get off to a slow start. Don’t expect to see the same Wilson we saw last week for the rest of the season because he’s proven to us countless times that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
The Seahawks Week 2 matchup against the 49ers presents them with a great opportunity to bounce back and gain some momentum. Not only is this a divisional home game, but the Seahawks will be facing a 49ers weak defense, which historically, Wilson has performed well against.
Lastly, the return of Thomas Rawls from injury will only help Wilson and the Seattle offense by bringing stability to the run game. By forcing the 49ers defense to respect the run, Seattle can open up the top of the field for big plays, ultimately resulting in big points for Wilson. If you’re a Wilson fantasy owner, don’t give up on him after one bad game and start him in Week 2.
Next: 2. Tom Brady
2. Tom Brady vs. New Orleans Saints
Tom Brady and his defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots took a beating Week 1 against the Chiefs. After a slow start in 2014, Aaron Rodgers told us all to RELAX, R-E-L-A-X, and that is the same message I send to Brady fantasy owners.
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Before we jump to say that Brady “looked old” or has “fallen off,” I mind you that there is no quarterback with the ability to bounce-back quite like him. The last time the Patriots lost to the Chiefs on national television was a Monday night game in 2014. The Patriots lost 41-14. After the game, all Bill Belichick had to say was “we’re onto Cincinnati,” and boy, he was right.
The following week, Brady and the Patriots bounced back and beat the Bengals 43-17. Just as they were “onto Cincinnati” in 2014, they’ll be onto New Orleans this week.
Brady’s matchup against New Orleans should make his fantasy owners eyes light up. This is the same New Orleans defense that made Sam Bradford look like Brady himself, scoring 25.5 fantasy points. Not only is this a great matchup, but this is also a homecoming/revenge game for Brandin Cooks. We can fully expect Brady to find Cooks a number of times, allowing him to post major fantasy points.
Next: 1. Derek Carr
1. Derek Carr vs. New York Jets
Derek Carr posted a solid performance in Week 1 against the Titans. Carr threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns while taking care of the ball and not committing a single turnover. Another year to build chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, along with the addition of Marshawn Lynch to wear down defenses will ultimately help Carr emerge as a top-tier quarterback this year.
Carr has a favorable matchup going against the New York Jets, who allowed Tyrod Taylor to be the 7th highest scoring quarterback in Week 1 with 18.8 fantasy points. Lynch, who came back with a boom Week 1, will wear down the Jets defense and force them to leave men in the box, making them susceptible to big plays through the air.
Not only does the Jets defense make Carr a good start, but so does their offense. During Week 1, we saw the Jets offense struggle to stay on the field, constantly going three-and-out. The Jets inability to keep their offense on the field will both tire down their defense and also present Carr with more time on the field and more opportunities to produce points.
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Carr lost to the Jets in his first career start in 2014, but then came back to throw for 333 yards and four touchdowns against them in 2015. In Week 2, consider Carr a “must start” as he will have a field day against a Jets defense struggling to find their identity early on in the season.