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Play At Your Own Risk

Week 2: Use Caution When Starting Barkley, C. Davis and M. Davis

by Jennifer Eakins
Updated On: September 15, 2021, 11:23 am ET

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Writing this weekly column puts me in a stellar mood for several reasons, but the main one is it gets me singing a song from one of my favorite bands Widespread Panic entitled Bust it Big.  While the premise doesn’t quite have the same meaning as what we’re going for here for fantasy purposes, the chorus “Bust it big, write my ticket, gonna call my shots and ride my liquor down to Mexico”, can be applied to my hot takes. Right? 

Speaking of those takes, in last week’s debut of this bust article I highlighted five players with the potential to underperform. I’m delighted to report that three of those five guys did indeed falter, as Justin Herbert came in as QB26, Ezekiel Elliott put up RB44 numbers, and Allen Robinson ended the week as WR68, all in half-PPR points. 

Let’s get into this week’s crop of players who have the potential to stall out and mess up fantasy rosters everywhere. As usual, I’m not saying these are players who must remain on benches, but you should at least temper expectations if you decide to roll with them in Week 2. 

Saquon Barkley @ Football Team 

I know you guys are itching to roll out your first-rounder this week, but he’s too risky to count on as an RB1 or even RB2 at this point. Barkley’s health and usage are still a concern, and so is the fact that he posted a meager 2.6 yards per run last week against Denver.  

We’re looking at a short turnaround this week against a Washington defense that allowed just 90 total rushing yards in Week 1, the 14th fewest in the NFL. While it’s a gut punch to have to start another RB or two in his place, Barkley is best suited for the pine on Thursday night. 

Corey Davis vs. Patriots 

Corey Davis backers may not be home from their victory laps yet after his half-PPR WR5 performance from Week 1. However, upon return, they should note that a few factors could limit his ability to put up those kinds of numbers this week against New England. 

Jamison Crowder will be back, which could cut into his volume as the Jets’ WR1, plus Davis is facing a Patriots’ secondary that allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts last week. I’m not saying to bench Davis straight up, but he’s probably more of a fantasy WR3/4 than the WR2 you may be expecting.  

Mike Davis @ Buccaneers 

Last week Davis saw a hearty snap count (75%) but his number was only called for 15 rushing plays and six passing-downs. He didn’t exactly make the most of his opportunities either, only posting 49 yards on the ground with an additional 23 receiving yards on three catches. Atlanta struggled to get anything going in their first tilt of the season and this weekend is not the ideal situation for a get-right outing. 

The Falcons head to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon to face a run defense that shut down the Cowboys backfield last week, surrendering a meager 11.2 half-PPR points between both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Davis may be someone you were counting on as an RB2 or even RB1 if you went with some sort of a Zero-RB approach, but you may want to consider keeping him sidelined this week in favor of someone in a more productive offense with a better matchup. 

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Kirk Cousins @ Cardinals 

While Cousins may not be someone you drafted as your roster’s QB1, he did put up starting numbers as the fantasy QB12 last week, thanks to some overtime love. I wouldn’t expect similar results this week in the desert as the Cardinals feature a much better pass rush than Cincinnati, considering they effectively manhandled Ryan Tannehill to the tune of a QB25 performance in Week 1.

Cousins does have the arsenal to put up points, but this week may not be one to get cute and insert him into your lineup instead of the player you actually drafted for that spot.  

DeVante Parker vs. Bills 

The 28-year-old enjoyed a double-digit output day in Week 1 but that gravy train could come to a screeching halt on Sunday. Parker’s success was partly due to Will Fuller’s one-game suspension, along with Stephon Gilmore’s absence from the other side of the ball in New England. 

With Fuller back this week to muddy up the Miami passing attack even more, it will be tough to justify Parker as a starter. There’s also the fact that the Dolphins will line up against a Bills’ defense that shut down the Pittsburgh passing attack for most of last week’s contest, allowing just 177 yards from Ben Roethlisberger and just 29.8 half-PPR points between all four Steeler’s wideouts. It may be tempting to start Miami’s target leader, but you probably have someone in a better spot this week already on your roster.

Jennifer Eakins

In addition to contributing for NBC Sports EDGE, Jennifer Eakins is an analyst and podcast co-host for 4for4 Fantasy Football. When not writing or talking about the NFL, you can find her in the mountains outside Denver or on Twitter @themondaymommy