Fantasy football is back, and we got our first taste of fantasy football disappointments last week. They were great to see if you were facing one, but doesn’t it seem like your players are the only ones who didn’t show up? Anyway, these letdown weeks will occur regularly. so we have to try to identify Week 2 fantasy busts before they happen. (Mark Ingram and Jameis Winston, anyone?) Of course, some come out of nowhere, but we can take factors such as matchups, injuries, and previous game ineffectiveness to pinpoint possible bust candidates and inform your start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
Damien Harris vs. an awful Jets team? One of the hottest Week 2 waiver wire adds in Ingram? Mr. five touchdowns himself Winston? You bet ya — and we have good reason to worry about all of them.
Last week, we nailed the receiver group of Kenny Golladay, Marquez Callaway, and Courtland Sutton as busts, but we were obviously sleeping on Jameis Winston and the Saints’ defense. (We blame the Packers.) Our headliners were Darrell Henderson and D’Andre Swift (oops), so we obviously had our fair share of misses. We did learn a valuable lesson moving forward, though — don’t listen to Dan Campbell.
We won’t bore anyone with obvious sit candidates, but we’ll make a case each time with reasonable cause for each selection. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t sit these players if you have no better options (or just don’t want to — it’s your team after all), but at least prepare for potentially lower scores than usual.
Week 2 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Damien Harris, Patriots @ Jets (Jackson Sparks). The matchup with the Jets looks awfully juicy, and this pick could look silly after Sunday, but we can’t ignore Harris’ late-game fumble that sealed the Dolphins’ victory over the Patriots in Week 1. This is Bill Belichick we’re talking about here. Would it really be shocking if he punished Harris for at least one week? They shouldn’t need him to handle the Jets, so this feels like a classic “fade a Pats RB” week. This scenario also makes James White and J.J. Taylor sleeper candidates, as Rhamondre Stevenson also fumbled on his first NFL carry and didn’t see another one for the rest of the game.
Mark Ingram, Texans (Vinnie Iyer). Everything went perfectly for Ingram getting a heavy workload against the Jaguars, including game script and matchup. Throw that all out the window against the Browns.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders @ Steelers (Matt Lutovsky). Jacobs scored twice last week, but he didn’t look good otherwise. Sure, Baltimore is a tough defense, but Pittsburgh is even tougher. Jacobs doesn’t figure to be much better after a cross-country trip on a short week, so there’s no need to take a chance on him.
Week 2 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Matthew Stafford, Rams @ Colts (Sparks). You shouldn’t bench Stafford in all leagues, but he is quietly a bust candidate in Week 2. The Colts’ defense was torched by Russell Wilson, but that just feels like an uncharacteristic week from what is usually a stud defense. Although the Rams are talented, Seattle possesses arguably a more superior top-end skill group. If Stafford does go off in Indianapolis, we’ll evaluate Indy’s defense moving forward. For now, we still view them as a top-flight defense, far better than what the Rams faced in Week 1 (Bears).
Jameis Winston, Saints at Panthers (Iyer). Winston didn’t throw a lot and still got five TDs last week, but don’t chase that box score thinking he’s like Drew Brees. This game will be more of a runner’s duel between Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey than a passing fest.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans @ Seahawks (Lutovsky). Tannehill always seems to find his way to at least two TDs like he did last week, but the Titans’ offense looked completely out of sync against Arizona. They couldn’t block, and there was no rhythm between Tannehill and his receivers. Perhaps more worrisome is that Seattle’s pass defense against the Colts looked much improved from last year. With Seattle back in home in front of the “12th man,” Tennessee could be walking into another buzzsaw.
Week 2 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Corey Davis, Jets vs. Patriots (Sparks). In Week 1 (@ Carolina) Davis’ stat line (5-97-2) looked pretty at the end of the day. However, these were late-game touchdowns, one of which can be labeled as garbage time. Bill Belichick has been notorious for making rookie QB’s lives a living hell, so we can assume Zach Wilson will be ineffective. Yes, Stephon Gillmore (quad) is out, but J.C. Jackson and Devin McCourty still exist, and Wilson will be under duress all day long with left tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) out for the game.
Julio Jones, Titans @ Seahawks (Iyer). Jones didn’t really click with the offense in his first game, and it’s hard to see the chemistry between him and a struggling Tannehill suddenly rev up against red-hot Seattle on the road.
Will Fuller V, Dolphins vs. Bills (Lutovsky). We originally had Odell Beckham Jr. here, but his knee injury will keep him out another week. Instead, we’re going with another guy who didn’t play last week. Fuller is done serving his one-game suspension, so some fantasy owners might be excited to use him. He’s always a big threat who could go off in any given week, but give him a week to see how he fits into Miami’s offense.
Week 2 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Tyler Higbee, Rams @ Colts (Sparks). Higbee looked great with his new best friend, Matthew Stafford, and was second on the team with six targets. However, Seattle’s TE, Gerald Everett, only received two targets for 20 yards, though he did score a touchdown. Touchdowns are tough to project from week to week, so we can’t count on that. What we do know is Everett was generally a non-factor, and perennial All-Pro linebacker, Darius Leonard, will be assigned with covering Higbee for much of the game.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins vs. Bills (Iyer). This is more of a reminder that he’s not a startable tight end anymore and is borderline droppable in this new offense.
Juwan Johnson, Saints @ Panthers (Lutovsky). Johnson was a fantasy darling last week with two scores, so plenty of owners might be considering him this week. Keep in mind, he played just 12 snaps and had three targets. Fellow TE Adam Trautman had six targets. It’s tough to know much about the Saints’ offense after their blowout win, but Johnson is no lock for opportunities going forward.
Week 2 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
Carolina Panthers vs. Saints (Sparks). The Panthers’ defense looked solid in Week 1, but then you remember it was playing against the Jets. Meanwhile, the Saints’ offense looked efficient and put 38 points on the board vs. Green Bay. This should truly test the Panthers’ defense, so we’ll see how they look moving forward, but we can’t count on a strong performance in Week 2.
San Francisco 49ers at Eagles (Iyer). The secondary issues are concerning when facing a red-hot offense on the road.
Miami Dolphins vs. Bills (Lutovsky). We like the Dolphins for the season, just not this week. They didn’t do much against rookie QB Mac Jones in the opener, and we have a hard time believing the Bills’ high-powered offense will struggle again. Miami’s good, but they’re not quite Pittsburgh. Give the Dolphins another week before firing them up.