Which borderline players should you start or sit in Week 2? Here’s a look at 10 players who are on the cusp.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens QB
Flacco got off to a decent start to the season, throwing for 258 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in last week’s win over the Bills. This week, he has a chance to be an elite fantasy play. The Browns’ defense let up 403 yards and 29 points to an Eagles’ offense led by rookie Carson Wentz last week. As of Thursday at 6 p.m., Flacco was owned in just 26 percent of Yahoo leagues and 21.8 percent of ESPN leagues, making him a solid plug and play if you didn’t manage to get a top-tier quarterback. Flacco’s a low-end QB1 this week.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons QB
From a fantasy perspective, Ryan put up solid numbers in Week 1, throwing for 334 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a loss to the Buccaneers last week for the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks. But it could’ve been an even bigger day -- the Falcons scored just one touchdown on four red-zone chances. The Raiders let up a league-high 419 passing yards to Drew Brees and the Saints last week, but Ryan and the Falcons will need to get their red-zone offense in order for him to have a big fantasy day. Ryan’s a high-end QB2.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles QB
Let’s not get too high on the No. 2 overall pick too quickly. Wentz looked good in his NFL debut, throwing for 278 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but it was against the lowly Browns. The Bears held Brock Osweiler and the Texans to just 215 passing yards last week, so the youngster’s in for more of a challenge. Keep him on the bench until after the Eagles’ bye in Week 4. He has another tough matchup against the Steelers in Week 3.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions RB
Abdullah is splitting carries with Theo Riddick, but he was the leading rusher for the Lions last week with 63 yards, and he should be going forward. Both backs contributed in the passing game as well -- Abdullah had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown and Riddick had five catches for 63 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Colts. As long as Abdullah continues to get the bulk of the carries, he’s the Lions back you want. The Titans’ defense held the Vikings to just 301 yards of total offense last week, but that was with journeyman backup Shaun Hill at quarterback. Abdullah’s a strong RB2, especially in PPR leagues.
Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks RB
at Los Angeles
After being on the field for just 22 of 82 offensive plays last week, Rawls won’t just be getting more work, he’ll also be getting the start, coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. With Christine Michael getting the start last week against the Dolphins, Rawls rushed for just 32 yards on 12 carries and had three catches for 26 yards. The expected increased workload makes Rawls a better play, but his surgically-repaired ankle still is a bit of a concern. Give Rawls another week to see what he does before running him out there.
Shane Vereen, New York Giants RB
vs. New Orleans
The Giants have moved away from their running-back-by-committee approach from last season, with Rashad Jennings becoming the clear No. 1 after rushing for 75 yards on 18 carries against a weak Cowboys’ defense last week. Jennings got just six carries (more than his 4.8 per game career average), but rushed for 38 yards. He also had three catches for 23 yards, which is Vereen’s bread and butter. The Saints’ defense is one of the worst in the league. It allowed 486 yards and 35 points in a loss to the Raiders last week. Vereen’s a nice flex option, especially in PPR leagues.
Travis Benjamin, San Diego Chargers WR
With Keenan Allen out for the year with a torn ACL, the Chargers will need someone to step up. Benjamin is coming off a career year with the Browns last season. He had career highs across the board with 68 catches, 966 yards and five touchdowns with a combination of Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis throwing to him. Now that he’s paired with a legitimate quarterback in Philip Rivers, Benjamin has a chance to shine even more. Last week he had seven catches for just 32 yards against a tough Chiefs’ defense. The Jaguars -- who held Aaron Rodgers to 199 passing yards last week -- present another tough matchup. Benjamin’s a high-end WR3 this week, but could be a better option going forward.
Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans WR
The rookie got off to a great start with seven catches for 76 yards in his NFL debut. The Titans went pass-heavy in Week 1, with a 65-35 pass-run ratio, and it wasn’t just because they were playing catchup. The Titans, who were expected to rely on their power run game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, led the Vikings until the third quarter last week, and Marcus Mariota’s 41 pass attempts were fairly evenly split -- 21 in the first half and 20 in the second. It’s hard to say if this pass-heavy trend will continue, but if it does against anyone, it’ll be the Lions, who are much better against the run than the pass. Sharpe’s a good WR3/flex option this week.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens WR
Wallace had the sixth-most fantasy points among wide receivers last week in standard scoring leagues, but it was mostly from one big play -- a 66-yard touchdown catch. Wallace was known as a big-time deep threat in his heyday, and Joe Flacco seems to have helped revive that. Aside from the big touchdown catch, though, Wallace had just two catches for 25 yards in the Ravens’ win over the Bills. It’s hard to count on the deep threat on a consistent basis, but the Browns’ defense allowed the second-most pass plays of 40 or more yards last season. Even still, I’d be conservative and sit Wallace until we see more.
Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers TE
For the past 11 seasons, the Steelers counted on veteran tight end Heath Miller for a heavy workload. Now that he’s retired, they’re looking to the second-year tight end to fill that void. James had five catches for 31 yards in a win over the Redskins last week. The Bengals allowed just 188 passing yards in a win over the Jets last week, so it’ll be a tough matchup for James. Keep him on the bench this week.