Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins QB
Tannehill threw for almost 400 yards last week against a formidable New England defense. Yes, the Dolphins were playing catchup from the get-go, so he did it on 45 pass attempts, but with Arian Foster likely out, the Dolphins will be relying on Tannehill. Plus, it’s a small sample size, but the Browns have allowed 27 points and 286 passing yards per game. Tannehill should be in for a big day and is a low-end QB1 this week.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins QB
at New York Giants
With no clear-cut dependable running back to speak of in Washington, Kirk Cousins has been forced to throw the ball a lot. Through the first two games, he has 89 pass attempts, tied for the most with Blake Bortles. The Giants’ defense has allowed just one passing touchdown and is the only team yet to allow a passing play of more than 23 yards, per Newsday’s Tom Rock. Unless you don’t have another viable option, leave Cousins on your bench this week.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills QB
After a heartbreaking loss at home to the rival Jets last week, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replaced him with Anthony Lynn, who was previously the team’s assistant head coach. It’s hard to imagine that will lead to a dramatic improvement with the struggling offense. Taylor had a good day against the Jets by fantasy standards, throwing for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, good for third-most points among quarterbacks in standard scoring leagues. But he has struggled with consistency, hitting Marquise Goodwin in stride for an 84-yard touchdown in the first quarter then underthrowing a deep ball intended for Sammy Watkins for an interception to open the fourth quarter. The Cardinals have one of the top defenses and are tied for the league-high with four interceptions in two games. Hold off on starting Taylor this week.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings RB
With Adrian Peterson expected to miss several months after tearing his meniscus in a win over the Packers, the Vikings will look to McKinnon and Matt Asiata to step up in the backfield. Asiata filled in admirably during Peterson’s 2014 suspension, combining for 882 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games, but it’s McKinnon who will get the start Sunday against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed 106.5 rushing yards per game. If you managed to snag McKinnon off the waiver wire, he’s a solid flex play.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals RB
After fellow running back Giovani Bernard went off for an impressive nine catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to the Steelers, while Hill has rushed for just 53 yards in two games, it seems the Bengals may be going in a different direction with their run game. Bernard also played 18 more snaps than Hill, who hasn’t rushed for at least 100 yards in a game since Dec. 28, 2014, after both played about the same number in Week 1. Between that and the fact that it’s a tough matchup against the reigning Super Bowl champs, it’s best to sit Hill.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers RB
Yes, Fozzy Whittaker rushed for 100 yards last week after Jonathan Stewart went down with a hamstring injury, but Cameron Artis-Payne, who was inactive last week, is expected take over the lead role with Stewart out. As a rookie last year, Artis-Payne averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 45 attempts in seven games. In the three games Stewart missed last season, Artis-Payne rushed for 152 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown. (Cam Newton led the team in rushing over that span, however.) Artis-Payne may have been a good addition if Stewart misses a chunk of time, but this isn’t the week to start him. Minnesota’s defense is No. 1 against the run, allowing just 47.5 yards per game and no touchdowns.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions WR
at Green Bay
So much for the “Calvin Johnson who?” sentiment. After leading the Lions with 90 receptions and finishing second on the team with 813 yards last season, it seemed they had their new No. 1 receiver in Tate. Not the case so far. Tate has nine catches for 54 yards and no touchdowns. Meanwhile, Marvin Jones, who the Lions acquired in the offseason, has become Matthew Stafford’s top target with 12 catches for 203 yards. Lambeau is one of the toughest places to play, and the Packers’ pass defense is underrated. Tate’s a flex play at best.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos WR
Despite having one of the most talented receiving corps, the Broncos are one of just four teams (the Bills, Bears and Browns) that doesn’t have at least one receiver with double-digit receptions. The Broncos’ game plan has changed, focusing more on the run with C.J. Anderson coming into his own and second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian still figuring things out. Last season, the Broncos had a 60-40 pass-run ratio, this season it’s been almost exactly 50-50. Between that and the fact that it’s a tough opponent in the Bengals, who have allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to receivers this season, according to Yahoo!, Sanders belongs on the bench this week.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons WR
at New Orleans
The Falcons are a pass-happy team, and they’re going against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The Saints rank 30th in passing yards allowed per game with 336. Sanu has been targeted as many times as Julio Jones (13), so he should get plenty of looks. Sanu’s a nice WR3 option this week.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens TE
After missing nearly two years with a fractured right hip on Sept. 21, 2014 against Cleveland, Pitta returned to the scene and put up one of the best games of his career. Pitta had nine catches for 102 yards in the Ravens’ comeback win over the Browns last week. He hasn’t gotten in the end zone yet, but this matchup gives him a good chance to score. The Jaguars have allowed 32.5 points per game and six passing touchdowns. Pitta’s a solid TE1 this week.