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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Start Your Chargers and Browns Skill Players in Week 2

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: September 18, 2021, 1:53 pm ET

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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.




Start of the Week: Justin Herbert vs. Cowboys -- Coming off Week 1’s QB26 finish, Herbert actually played much better than that finish would suggest against Washington. The Chargers ran the fourth-most plays of the week (78) while Herbert fired off 47 passes for 337 yards and one touchdown against one of the league’s premier defenses. The Chargers’ offensive line looks much improved with first-round LT Rashawn Slater eliminating Chase Young and Co. in his debut. And now the Bolts will travel back home for their home opener against a Dallas defense that will be without starting DEs DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) and Randy Gregory (COVID) fresh off getting waxed by Tom Brady last Thursday night when Brady hung the QB5 week on the Cowboys with 379 yards and four touchdowns. Cowboys-Chargers has the highest total of the weekend’s main slate at 55 points and will likely only go up in the coming days.




Jalen Hurts vs. 49ers -- Last week’s “Start of the Week,” Hurts was flawless in his evisceration of the Atlanta defense, completing over 77% of his 35 attempts for 264 yards and three touchdowns to go with a 7-62 rushing line en route to the QB6 week. He’ll now draw a Niners defense that was already painfully short on cornerbacks and then lost starter Jason Verrett to a torn ACL in Week 1 against the Lions. San Francisco has resorted to signing Dre Kirkpatrick this week while leaving the door open for a possible Richard Sherman reunion. While a good chunk of the Lions’ output was posted in fourth-quarter garbage time and comeback mode, Detroit still finished with 430 total yards and 33 points. Hurts plays behind one of the league’s top offensive lines facing an undermanned secondary in a game with a 50-point total.

Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions -- Not many quarterbacks played worse than Rodgers in Week 1 when the Packers got annihilated by the Saints in Jacksonville. Rodgers was the week’s overall QB34, getting out-scored by backups Trey Lance and Justin Fields, with his clunker. But Monday night against the Lions looks like a major bounce-back, get-right spot with Rodgers out to prove something. The Lions surrendered 314 yards to Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 1 at an otherworldly 12.56 yards per attempt rate. And then it was revealed Detroit’s top cover CB Jeffrey Okudah suffered a torn Achilles’ in the loss, ending his season. Devoid of a pass rush and cover corners, the Lions should be no match for Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. The Packers’ implied team total of 29.75 points is tied for the third-highest of Week 2.

Baker Mayfield vs. Texans -- Mayfield almost helped organize an upset of the Chiefs in Week 1, completing 75% of his 28 passes for 321 yards at 11.46 yards per attempt. He didn’t throw any touchdowns with Cleveland rushing for four scores, but Week 2 should provide a chance at an aerial assault on the Texans. Houston flamed the Jaguars in Week 1, but Trevor Lawrence was still able to post the QB12 week, though garbage time obviously helped. The Texans aren’t good, but the Jaguars may not be either. Devoid of pass rush and secondary talent, this is as soft of a matchup Mayfield will see all year. The Browns are 12.5-point favorites with an implied team total of 30 points, second only to the Bucs (32) for Week 2. Mayfield is a strong streamer.




Jameis Winston at Panthers -- Winston hung the QB4 week on the Packers in Week 1 with his five-touchdown barrage, but he finished the day with just 148 passing yards and did his damage on 20 attempts. This is a run-first offense that wants to play slow and methodical. Winston simply can’t keep up that 25% touchdown rate, and this looks like a letdown spot off the big win. The Panthers are flush with young talent at all levels of the defense. This game’s 45-point total is the second-lowest of the weekend. Winston is more of a two-QB league start than top-12 play.

Trevor Lawrence vs. Broncos -- In his NFL debut last week, Lawrence finished as the overall QB12 but benefited greatly from the Jaguars playing in comeback mode most of the afternoon. Lawrence fired off 51 passes, completing just 54.9% of those against the lowly Texans at a below-average 6.51 yards per attempt, but did toss three touchdowns and three picks. The coaching staff in Jacksonville has already said they don’t want Lawrence throwing the ball anywhere close to 51 times again. The rookie now gets a much tougher defense with a deep secondary and strong presence off the edges. The 45-point total is tied for the week’s second-lowest, and Jacksonville’s implied total of 19.5 points is the fourth-lowest of Week 2.

Jimmy Garoppolo at Eagles -- Garoppolo was last week’s QB25 despite playing out of his mind with 314 yards and one touchdown on 25 attempts (12.56 YPA). That’s about as good of a game the 49ers could ask for out of their game manager starter. Rookie Trey Lance came in and stole a five-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield in the first quarter, and that’s always going to be a threat to Garoppolo. The Niners run one of the most run-heavy offenses in football, and the Eagles are fresh off completely stamping out the Atlanta passing offense in Week 1. The Falcons were unable to score a touchdown, and Matt Ryan averaged a pitiful 4.69 yards per attempt. There’s no reason to expect a ceiling game out of Garoppolo. He’s a borderline QB2/3.




Start of the Week: Najee Harris vs. Raiders -- Harris played every single offensive snap in the Steelers’ upset win over the Bills in Week 1, but he was bottled up by the Buffalo defense for 49 yards on 17 touches. The promising news was Harris’ 100% playing-time clip and 19 combined carries and targets on 55 offensive plays. The Steelers want to operate through Harris, and Week 2 has the making of his coming-out party. The Raiders surrendered a combined 19-93-2 rushing line to Baltimore’s backfield duo of Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray last Monday night and will now be traveling east on a short week. The Steelers are 5.5-point home favorites with an implied team total of 26.25 points, creating a positive rushing environment. Harris is my favorite overall running back play of Week 2 and should be popular on DFS sites.




Darrell Henderson at Colts -- Like Najee Harris above, Henderson dominated his team’s backfield work, playing 94% of the Rams’ snaps and ceding just one touch to Sony Michel late in the fourth quarter of the easy win over the Bears. Henderson went 16-70-1 on the ground with a 17-yard catch on his lone pass-game target. Playing in the league’s fastest-paced offense and dominating the playing time, Henderson should be treated as an every-week RB1 headed into Indianapolis. The Colts surrendered 117 yards on 19 touches to Chris Carson last week, and All-Pro MLB Darius Leonard has missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with an ankle injury. Henderson’s command of the playing time and volume make him a no-brained start.

Kareem Hunt vs. Texans -- Nick Chubb out-carried Hunt 15-6 in the season opener, but Hunt did see three targets and converted his lone goal-line chance for a two-yard touchdown. The playing time was also split evenly at 53% to 47% in slight favor of Chubb. With the Browns as 12.5-point home favorites, there’s enough meat on the bone for both Hunt and Chubb to post big afternoons. Chubb is a lock-and-load RB1 while Hunt checks in as a strong RB2 play with upside. The Browns should be able to do pretty much whatever they want against Houston.

Melvin Gordon at Jaguars -- Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams split the playing time right down the middle 50-50 last week against the Giants with Williams out-carrying Gordon 14-11. Gordon saw three targets in the passing game, however, and capped the win with a monster 70-yard touchdown sprint. Williams is going to take charge of this backfield at some point, but Gordon is as fresh as he’ll be all year and should remain a focal point for the Denver offense. Both running backs are in play against a Jaguars unit that got thrashed by Mark Ingram (26-85-1) and Phillip Lindsay (8-25-1) while also allowing a receiving score to David Johnson. Denver enters Jacksonville as six-point favorites. Gordon is a usable RB2 in a plus spot.




James Robinson vs. Broncos -- Robinson played 64% of the snaps to Carlos Hyde’s 34% clip in Week 1, but Hyde still out-carried Robinson 9-5 in the blowout loss. Even with Travis Etienne on I.R. and done for the year, coach Urban Meyer seems to prefer Hyde as his backfield leader. It’s a very concerning development for Robinson’s fantasy players headed into an even tougher Week 2 draw against a Broncos unit that suffocated Saquon Barkley and the Giants in Week 1. It’s tough to find a reason to trust Robinson for fantasy lineups with the Jaguars implied to score just 19.5 points in a game with a minuscule 45-point total while facing a top-notch defense.

Mark Ingram at Browns -- Ingram, 31, handled 26-of-37 backfield carries for the Texans in their Week 1 upset of the Jaguars, playing 46% of the snaps. But Ingram managed just 85 yards and a goal-line touchdown plunge on his 26 attempts (3.27 YPC) despite finishing the week as the overall RB17. Ingram was likely picked up in a lot of fantasy leagues by box-score readers, but that very well could go down as his best stat line of the season. Ingram should be traded for whatever fantasy managers can get in return. The Texans are severe 12.5-point road underdogs in Cleveland. Ingram may not see half of the work he saw in Week 1. David Johnson is the Texans’ pass-game back. Houston is implied to scored a Week 2-low 17.5 points.

Myles Gaskin vs. Bills -- The Dolphins don’t seem to want to commit to Gaskin after he battled some injuries last season in an expanded role. He handled just nine of the Dolphins’ 23 running-back carries, but Gaskin at least appears to be the preferred option in the passing game, as he caught five balls against New England. Still, Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed are going to be thorns in Gaskin’s side. All three running backs saw one carry each in the red zone with Brown getting the lone one inside the 10-yard line. Gaskin now gets a tough Week 2 draw with a Bills defense that shut down Najee Harris for 16-45-0 on the ground in Week 1.

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Start of the Week: Jarvis Landry vs. Texans -- Odell Beckham (knee) will be out again for Week 2. With OBJ out for the season opener, Landry tied for the team lead with five targets, producing a perfect 5-71 line while also scoring a five-yard rushing touchdown. Baker Mayfield loves to spread out his targets, but Landry is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver with OBJ on the sidelines. Facing a Texans defense that traded its No. 1 corner before the season, Landry should find plenty of room to operate in this one. The Browns’ 30-point implied team total is the second-highest of the week. Fantasy players should be trotting out all of their Cleveland guys.




Cole Beasley at Dolphins -- Beasley drew 13 targets in the Week 1 loss to the Steelers, producing an 8-60-0 line on 91% of the offensive snaps as an every-down player out of the slot. With Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders expected to see the most of the Dolphins’ strong outside cornerback duo of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, Beasley has the easiest on-paper matchup of the trio on the inside. The Bills run one of the pass-happiest offenses in the league and should fire off 40-plus attempts in Miami. Beasley is an underrated WR3 who gets a boost in PPR formats. He went 5-70-0 in his lone matchup with the Dolphins last season. Jakobi Meyers saw nine targets out of the slot to lead the Patriots last week against Miami.

Jakobi Meyers at Jets -- Meyers played 99% of the snaps and led the Patriots with nine targets and six catches for 44 scoreless yards against the Dolphins last week in Mac Jones’ first career start. The Jets are severely lacking talent on the defensive side of the ball after losing several players to season-ending injuries and already searching for secondary help. They didn’t have much of an answer for the Panthers in Week 1, but Carolina settled for a number of short field goals despite moving the ball down the field against the Jets. Meyers’ playing time and target volume make him a reliable WR3 against a bottom-level pass defense.

DeVonta Smith vs. 49ers -- In the Week 1 win over the Falcons, Smith led all Eagles’ WRs with an 87% playing-time clip and drew a team-high eight targets, turning them into 6-71-1 as the week’s WR20. Already having a connection with Jalen Hurts from their Alabama days, Smith is Hurts’ most-trusted target ahead of a date with a 49ers defense that was already lacking quality cornerback depth and then lost starter Jason Verrett to a Week 1 torn ACL. This game has a strong 50-point total. Smith should again be fired up as a WR3 with upside for much more.




Elijah Moore vs. Patriots -- Moore played 86% of the Week 1 snaps against the Panthers, but his four targets were a distant fifth on the team, and his connection with fellow rookie Zach Wilson appeared off much of the day. His lone catch went for a three-yard loss. Wilson was getting pounded most of the afternoon behind a suspect offensive line. With the offense a work in progress and Moore now susceptible to losing playing time with Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole due back this week, he’s best left on fantasy benches for the Week 2 date with the Patriots in a game with a fantasy-unfriendly 42.5-point total. Crowder should be back manning the slot.

Michael Pittman vs. Rams -- Pittman played a team-high 97% of the snaps in the Week 1 loss to the Seahawks, but he finished fourth on the team with four targets in a dink-and-dunk offense that funneled 15 targets to RBs Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor. Pittman will now draw top CB Jalen Ramsey’s coverage. The Colts’ vanilla offense and Ramsey’s coverage bump Pittman down to WR4/5 territory. The Rams completely shut down Chicago’s passing offense last Sunday night. And L.A.’s pass rush should have a field day against an undermanned Indy line.

Darnell Mooney vs. Bengals -- Mooney was the only Chicago wideout to play 100% of the snaps in the Week 1 loss to the Rams last Sunday night, but his seven targets produced a meager 5-26-0 line with Andy Dalton failing to throw a single pass more than 15 yards down the field. The matchup is easier this week against the Bengals, but Dalton is holding this offense back with his milquetoast playing style and fixation on checking the ball down to the short areas of the field. Mooney will be a big beneficiary when the Bears turn to deep ball-thrower Justin Fields. For now, Mooney is best stashed on fantasy benches as a WR5.




Start of the Week: Kyle Pitts at Bucs -- Pitts was a big fantasy disappointment in Week 1, turning in a 4-31-0 line on eight targets against the Eagles as the week’s TE24. But Pitts’ role is conducive to big fantasy production going forward. The Falcons used him in the slot and out wide on a large percentage of his 68% snap share, which was second on the team among all pass-catchers. The Falcons are going to be playing catch-up most of Week 2 as 12-point road underdogs. Matt Ryan could throw the ball 50 times in this one, and Pitts should easily see double-digit targets in that scenario. Cowboys TEs Blake Jarwin cand Dalton Schultz combined to catch 9-of-10 targets for 65 yards last week against the Bucs. Pitts is a top-five TE1 play.




Tyler Higbee at Colts -- In his first game with Gerald Everett now off to Seattle, Higbee played 100% of the Rams’ offensive snaps against the Bears, turning six targets into a 5-68 line as the week’s TE9. This is the workload we all hoped for from Higbee with Everett gone, and now the sky is the limit for Higbee in a Matthew Stafford-led offense. He saw one of Stafford’s four targets from inside the 10-yard line. One of my favorite late-round tight ends who could enter the top-five mix at the position in fantasy, we couldn’t have asked for much more from Higbee in Week 1. He now gets a Colts defense that permits catches to the tight end position and gave up a perfect 5-57-1 line on five targets to Seahawks TEs Will Dissly and Everett last Sunday.

Jared Cook vs. Cowboys -- Cook played 58% of the Chargers’ snaps last week against Washington, out-snapping Donald Parham (41%) and Stephen Anderson (25%) while also finishing third on the team with eight targets. Cook reeled in five of those for 56 scoreless yards as the week’s TE15. We want as many pieces of this Dallas-L.A. game as possible. It’s going to be up in pace, favor the passing game, and features a mouthwatering 55-point total. Cook was second on the Chargers with two red-zone targets in Week 1, seeing one of those inside the 10-yard line. Cook is dirt cheap on daily fantasy sites and is a strong season-long streamer after Rob Gronkowski tore up Dallas for a perfect 8-90-2 line on eight targets last Thursday night.

Dallas Goedert vs. 49ers -- Goedert played 73% of the Week 1 snaps and drew five targets compared to Zach Ertz’s 58% playing time clip and two targets. Goedert turned his five looks into four catches for 42 yards and a nine-yard touchdown. Ertz is now dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday before a limited session Thursday. If Ertz is hampered at all or even misses this one against the 49ers, it could pave the way for a Goedert ceiling game. T.J. Hockenson ripped the 49ers for last week’s overall TE3 performance.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.