🏈 2 Top TEs Return, But 2 Key RBs Are OUT

Everything you need to know for Week 2...

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In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Paramount+:

  • WEEK 2 IS HERE

  • Morning Download: No Austin Ekeler

  • QUICK HITTER: A Bet from our friends at Hammer Betting Network

  • The ‘chopper drops down with a must-play WR

  • Bets From The Group Chat: Dialing up the degens

  • It's 9/17. Take it away, Peter Overzet.

Week 1 was a brutal week for the TE position.

Hunter Henry and Hayden Hurst led the pack with a whopping 14.1 and 12.6 points in Half PPR leagues.

It wasn’t pretty. but things are trending up for Week 2.

T.J. Hockenson got the position off to a fast start on Thursday night with 22.1 fantasy points on a 7-66-2 line.

And last night we got even better news for solidifying the TE landscape…

🙏 The Top 2 TEs are BACK

The Chiefs offense looked abysmal against the Lions in their Week 1 opener without Travis Kelce, but they will, fortunately, have him available today:

He immediately returns to the throne as the top TE play on the week and solidifies the Chiefs/Jaguars game as the premiere matchup of the week with a tantalizing 51.5 point total:

Game hub

Not to be overshadowed, Mark Andrews—who missed the Ravens opener vs. the Texans with a quad injury—will also return to action today:

This will give us our first look at a revamped Ravens passing attack under Todd Monken with their full complement of weapons. And most importantly, gives us a far more appetizing 1-2 punch at the top of the TE rankings (no offense, Henry & Hurst):

If you are playing DFS this week, Andrews makes a great addition to Bengals stacks.

🛠️ Everything you need for Week 2

Read on for more info in the Morning Download on Austin Ekeler, Amari Cooper, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well as updates in the Watercooler on key Packers players (Aaron Jones and Christian Watson), C.J. Stroud, and Brandin Cooks.

For everything else you need for Week 2—including our Inactives page, which will update shortly after 11:30 am ET with all of the relevant status updates—you can get to your destination with a mere click of a button.

See our suite of tools to get you ready for today’s slate below:

Rankings
Game Hub
Prop Tool
Free Bets
Projections
Start Sit
UD Picks
Inactives

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1:00 pm ET Kick-Off

  • Kansas City at Jacksonville

  • Baltimore at Cincinnati

  • LA Chargers at Tennessee

  • Las Vegas at Buffalo

4:25 pm ET Kick-Off

  • NY Jets at Dallas

  • Washington at Denver

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Morning Download

There’s always a flurry of overnight news to process on Sunday mornings. Matt LaMarca is here to catch you up on the most important updates to guide your lineup decisions today…

There are some big names currently on the injury report, but we got a bit of clarity on Saturday evening. The news cycle is constantly churning in the NFL, and you need to stay up-to-date to make the most informed decisions.

Here’s what you might’ve missed so far this weekend.

❌ Austin Ekeler Gets Ruled Out

It seemed like Ekeler was trending towards not playing, but the team made it official on Saturday. They ruled out last year’s No. 1 fantasy running back, along with two linebackers for their Week 2 matchup vs. the Titans.

Ekeler’s absence makes Joshua Kelley a lock-and-loaded starter against Tennessee. Kelley already put himself into flex consideration in Week 1, racking up 91 yards and a touchdown with solid underlying utilization, and he should have the Chargers backfield basically to himself.

That said, this is a slightly tougher matchup than the Chargers faced last week. The Titans are known for being a strong defensive squad under head coach Mike Vrabel, and they allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards to the Saints in Week 1. Still, 20+ touches are realistic in this matchup, and he checks in as a top-20 option at the position in our Week 2 rankings.

Morning Download

👀 Chiefs Elevate La’Mical Perine

The Chiefs have made some massive additions to their roster in recent days. It started by signing Chris Jones to a one-year deal, officially ending his holdout. Tight end Travis Kelce was also cleared to return to action after missing Week 1 with an injury. That gives the Chiefs their top two non-Patrick Mahomes players back in the lineup.

It’s a big reason why I locked in Kansas City -2.5 in our Bet Tracker earlier this week.

However, the Chiefs are quietly dealing with a minor situation at running back. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a big part of the team’s rotation in Week 1, garnering 35% of the rushing attempts. However, he’s officially questionable with an illness.

With Perine being elevated to the active roster, all signs point towards CEH getting the day off.

That’s phenomenal news for Isiah Pacheco. He was the Chiefs’ top running back last week, but he saw just 47% of the snaps and 47% of the rushing attempts. Jerick McKinnon could take on a larger role than he did in Week 1, but the coast is clear for Pacheco to serve as the Chiefs’ early-down hammer.

If you drafted him, you can feel much better starting him at RB2 or flex if Edwards-Helaire is inactive.

🚑️ Amari Cooper Pops Up on Injury Report

This one came out of nowhere. He practiced in full on Friday but reportedly aggravated a groin injury on Saturday. He’s been listed as questionable on the official injury report, and there’s a legit chance that he’s unable to go on Monday night vs. the Steelers.

This puts fantasy players in a tough spot – do you replace Cooper in your starting lineup or hope that he suits up?

Personally, I think if you have a serviceable replacement option that plays on Sunday, I’d make the swap.

Cooper was limited to begin with in Week 1, posting a low 63% route participation. That was the third-highest mark among the team’s receivers, and he was out-targeted by Elijah Moore.

With Cooper now banged up, it’s possible he’s limited once again, even if he is active.

Dwain McFarland has dropped Cooper to WR31 in his Week 2 rankings, so there’s plenty of merit in looking in another direction.

If you are still looking to start Cooper, it’s imperative you have another Monday night option to pivot to if he’s ruled out. Someone like Donovan Peoples-Jones is likely available on your waiver wire, but there are other potential candidates with two Monday night games this week.

Quick Hitter
Watercooler

🚑️ Austin Ekeler isn’t the only top RB who will miss Week 2. The Packers will miss theirs.

🧀 The Packers won’t have Christian Watson either. Brutal.

🤢 The Texans QB situation looks hairy today. Keep tabs on this one.

🚁 The Chopper’s must-play WR. The Titans’ defense is a pass funnel.

⭐️ The Cowboys won’t have Brandin Cooks today. Will he be ready for Week 3?

🤯 Wait, Aaron Rodgers could return this year?? Time to do your part, Zach Wilson.

🐴 The Broncos will be without Greg Dulcich for the next month. Tough break.

🚨 An important reminder. DON’T BE ASSHOLES TO PLAYERS.

Hidden Gems

Everyone knows the best plays. Jalen Hurts, Christian McCaffrey, Justin Jefferson, Travis Kelce. But what about the sleepers know one else is on? Those are the guys that can vault you to the top of the leaderboard. In this weekly piece, Pete will go treasure hunting for Hidden Gems that you can draft in Battle Royale contests on Underdog Fantasy and in DFS contests.

Normally for this piece, I’ll hit on one Hidden Gem for each position, but Week 2 presents an interesting strategic angle surrounding a single game that I want to explore.

Let me explain…

🦁 The Game Stack Approach: Seahawks @ Lions

We know stacking is important across virtually every fantasy format (a Tua to Tyreek stack took down last week’s Battle Royale), but there can also be diminishing returns to over-stacking in large-field contests.

When we need to beat 56,000+ other entries like we do in Battle Royale this week, we need to be near-perfect across our entire lineup, which often requires selecting the right one-off pieces from individual games.

But every once in a while the stars will align for one game to soar well beyond any expectations and be the game you need to win tournaments.

Well, the Seahawks and Lions tilt this week provides us with all of the necessary ingredients for a blow-up spot:

Seahawks @ Lions

Not only does this game have the second-highest total on the slate (47), but we have a history between these two teams combining for track meets:

  • In Week 17 of 2021, these two teams combined for 80 points. Russell Wilson threw for 4 TDs. DK Metcalf caught three of them. Rashaad Penny rushed for 170 yards and 2 TDs. And Amon-Ra St. Brown went 8-111-1 on the comeback.

  • Then last year in October, they faced off again and combined for 93 points. Yes, you read that correctly. 93. Penny dominated again with 151 yards and 2 TDs. Jamaal Wiilliams went for 108 yards and 2 TDs. T.J. Hockenson had an eye-popping 179 yards and 2 TDs.

While it will be hard to bank on another 80+ point explosion between these two squads, the pieces are in place for it to happen.

Both of these offenses like to play fast (Seattle was fourth in situation-neutral pace in Week 1, per Pat Thorman) and they both have a tendency to give up explosive plays (Lions games averaged a league-high 51.8 points in 2022).

Hidden Gems

The field doesn’t want to stack this game up (but we should).

Even better, the Battle Royale ADP landscape gives us plenty of unique avenues for attacking this game.

Here are the current field exposures for all of the relevant skill position players:

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (100%)

  • Sam LaPorta (51%)

  • Jahmyr Gibbs (67%)

  • David Montgomery (9%)

  • Jared Goff (7%)

  • DK Metcalf (98%)

  • Kenneth Walker (38%)

  • Tyler Lockett (9%)

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba (4%)

  • Geno Smith (4%)

That leads us to my favorite way to attack this game...

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Bets from the Group Chat

Welcome to Week 2 of Bets from the Group Chat. This is where Geoff elicits as much information as he can from the Fantasy Life staff about their leans for this week. It’s really a selfish endeavor, as he’ll be using some of their plays to offset his own losers.

Anyways, back to the bets.

A couple of these were given to me with some great info alongside them. Some were merely degenerate suggestions. We’ll break them all down below and see how many are worth playing for week 2.

🐅 Jordan Likes: Tee Higgins over 60.5 yards (-115, BetMGM)

Honestly, this one makes plenty of sense. As Jordan laid out in the chat, the Ravens’ secondary is in shambles. SHAMBLES.

Marlon Humpheries is out, Marcus Williams is out and Joe Burrow is pissed (I’m assuming).

The goose egg from week 1 by Higgins was shocking but he’s in a great spot to bounce back. He started slowly last year as well but rebounded with a 71-yard, 1-touchdown game against Pittsburgh in week 2.

History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme - Mark Twain (Jordan)

💪 LaMarca Likes: Rhamondre Stevenson 80+ yards, 2+ TDs (+1550, BetMGM - SGP)

Matt has been killing it in the bet tracker this year, so when he pipes up we should probably listen.

Discord Bet

And all joking aside, I can see this happening.

I laid out the case for Stevenson in the Sunday Night Betting Breakdown for Week 2 to go over his rushing prop, as the Dolphins’ rush defense got crushed in Week 1. He still saw a bulk of the snaps and carries in week 1 – despite ceding some work to Ezekiel Elliott.

Stevenson found the endzone twice on just one occasion last year but he did go over 100.0 yards rushing twice. You can currently get +1550 on a Rhamondre 80+ yard rushing game with 2 TDs over on BetMGM.

🤝 Geoff/Matt F. Likes: Geno Smith over 12.5 rushing yards (-120, BetMGM)

Alright, since I got no pushback from Matthew Freedman on our prop pod this week when I brought this up I’ll assume we’re good to include him on this one too. Smith is a more mobile quarterback than people give him credit for and went over 20 yards rushing 8-times last year.

The Lions brought great pressure last week and forced Patrick Mahomes into 6 scrambles. Smith is missing two starting tackles this week and with the Seahawks 4.5 4.5-point underdogs, he could also see some prevent defense at the end of this game (aka, openings for cheap rush yards).

Our projections like this one too with Smith having an 18.2 rushing-yard projection for week 2.

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