With a fun Thursday Night Football game in the books, it’s time to take a look toward the rest of our week two lineups. There were some wild and woolly week one games, so there are a lot of players who we have questions about headed into week two. We’ve taken a look at twelve different players who people have lots of questions about headed into the second week of action. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Start or Sit Trey Lance versus Seattle?
I get it, Trey Lance burned you hard in week one. He finished the game with 28 pass attempts for 164 yards, a pick, and 13 rush attempts for 54 yards. It was a true worst-case scenario game for the sophomore quarterback in his first start as the team’s designated quarterback. And really, when the rain cooperated, he made some good throws, so it wasn’t all bad. Plus, 54 rushing yards is the equivalent of a statue quarterback putting up an extra 135 passing yards.
It might seem on the surface that we might be due for more of the same this week. There’s rain in the forecast for Santa Clara on Sunday, but the 49ers and Seahawks are due to get 0.37 inches of rain (or one centimeter). Contrast that to the 4.34 inches that soaked Chicago last week, and you can see that the rain won’t be an issue for this one. Then, what about the opponent?
Well, Trey Lance is playing an opponent for the second time for the first time. The 49ers turned to Lance after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured just before halftime in week four last season. In that game, Lance threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while kicking in 41 rushing yards… in a half. Lance has that kind of upside against a Seahawks defense that will miss Jamal Adams for this one (and potentially the rest of the season). Even if he has a bad passing day, Lance has 13 rush attempts per game in his three starts at QB, which would smash the QB rushing attempt record if he did it over the course of the entire season. For that reason alone, you should start Trey Lance and not think twice about it.
Start or Sit Aaron Rodgers versus Chicago?
Aaron Rodgers had himself a h*ck of a time against the Vikings in week one, and should definitely turn his fortunes around in week two, after having his fifth-worst fantasy day since becoming the starter, out of 207 games started. That’s pretty bad, right? Well, last season in week one was his third-worst game as a starter (1.32 fantasy points) and he won MVP, so it’s a bit premature to panic about Rodgers in 2022.
But, is it too early to worry? I don’t think it is. The Vikings’ defense turned into a brick wall, holding the Packers to just 5.5 yards per play. In contrast, the Vikings averaged 6.5 yards per play in the same game, and the 2021 Packers averaged 5.8 yards per play, and that included kneel downs! The Packers certainly struggled last week, but will it carry over to this week?
The short answer is probably not. Allen Lazard is due back, and Chicago won’t have the benefit of the rain to stop Rodgers, and Rodgers is likely licking his lips for the chance to obliterate the Bears’ defense. Over the last five season, Rodgers averages 21.5 fantasy points against Chicago, with two of his five best games against the Bears coming last season. It doesn’t seem to matter who is out there, you should start Aaron Rodgers against Chicago if you have him on your roster (though I prefer Lance for his rushing floor).
Start or Sit Jameis Winston versus Tampa Bay?
This start or sit can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, and I need to bring the Chicago monsoon down upon a quarterback. This week, you should sit Jameis Winston against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week, Dak Prescott threw the ball 29 times before leaving the game, completing fewer than 50% of his pass attempts en route to a 134 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception effort. The Tampa Bay defense, it appears, hasn’t missed a beat from last season, when they allowed just four quarterbacks over 20 fantasy points last season (and three of them were Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, and Dak Prescott).
Jameis finished with a respectable 269 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 9 rushing yards, without a pick. He was QB6 last week, so that has some potentially looking his way this week. Don’t. That stat line lies, as going into the fourth quarter, Jameis had zero touchdowns and just 56 passing yards. He then went nuclear against the Falcons’ woeful defense to salvage himself a great fantasy day. Unfortunately, he won’t have that luxury against the stout Tampa Bay defense this week, which is why you should sit Jameis Winston if you want to eat that W.
Start or Sit Darrell Henderson versus Atlanta?
Darrell Henderson seemingly put all questions about the touch split in Los Angeles to bed last week, as he finished with 18 touches to Cam Akers’s three. While Henderson left some meat on the bone against a stout Bills’ defense, mustering just 73 yards on those touches, Cam Akers left dinner before the food even got there, finishing with zero yards on three touches. So, what can we expect from Akers and Henderson in week two? Well, Sean McVay basically said that it’s up to Cam Akers to earn his role back with the defending champions. That means, at least for now, it’s Darrell Henderson’s role to lose, and what a role it is.
Sean McVay loves bell cow backs. Since joining the league, he’s given a running back at least 20 touches in 38-of-82 games, or 46% of his games. And if you think this is just a Todd Gurley thing, he gave Sony Michel seven 20+ touch games last season. So, if I could basically guarantee you at least 18 touches against any but the stoutest of defenses, you’re taking it. That’s why I’m going to start Darrell Henderson this week.
Start or Sit James Robinson versus Indianapolis?
The Jaguars gave James Robinson 12 touches last week, which he turned into 69 yards and two touchdowns. Conversely, they gave Travis Etienne six touches, which he turned into 65 yards and two missed touchdowns. On a per-touch basis, Etienne seems like he’s the more explosive back, compared to James Robinson. But, at the same time, you can’t get away from the two touchdowns. This one is difficult for me to evaluate since I am still in your data-gathering mode about the Etienne/James Robinson split.
So, let’s take a look at their opponent; the Indianapolis Colts held James Robinson to 33 yards on his 11 carries, which is exactly half the yards per carry that James Robinson managed last week. So, we have to worry about the stout Colts defense stopping James Robinson, especially since he isn’t the preferred pass-catching back (that’s Etienne’s forte). That somewhat relegates Robinson to being a two-down banger against a stout run defense. I am going to recommend that you sit James Robinson for now, but with the understanding that he’s a coinflip to fall in for a touchdown. He could still just end up with single-digit fantasy points with that score, though.
Start or Sit Jeff Wilson versus Seattle?
Jeff Wilson was the hot fantasy football pickup this week after the 49ers announced that Elijah Mitchell will miss about two months with an MCL sprain. But, can you go ahead and slot him right into your lineup? As a 49ers fan, I wish the answer to that question was more straightforward, but the 49ers turned to Deebo Samuel as a running back last season partially because of Jeff Wilson’s struggles at the position. Wilson had four starts at the position last year and had 18.75 opportunities per game in those games. Unfortunately, he failed to reach 60 yards in three of the four games, getting 56, 57, and 58 yards in the three contests not against the Atlanta Falcons (119 yards on 23 touches).
The Seahawks, who Wilson takes on this week, allowed 5.3 yards per carry to the Broncos’ running backs last week, which is really bad. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the worst against opposing running backs last season, allowing 5.0 yards per carry to the position. So, that makes for a good matchup. While I don’t feel great about Jeff Wilson long-term, he will get a lot of touches and a soft landing this week. If you’re in a bind, you can go ahead and start Jeff Wilson.
Start or Sit Darnell Mooney at Green Bay?
Much like Trey Lance above, I am giving Darnell Mooney a mulligan for the monsoon game that destroyed any notions that the 49ers-Bears game would be at all normal. But, some things happened in that game that give me hope. The first is Justin Fields’ willingness to work downfield, even in a rainstorm. He got the Bears on the board with a 51-yard touchdown to Dante Pettis, and his Equanimeous St. Brown was from 18 yards out, on the edge of the red zone. This bodes well for Mooney in week two, as it’s highly likely the Bears throw a ton, and try to get their best offensive weapon going again.
Last week, Justin Jefferson embarrassed the Packers, catching 9-of-11 passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. Granted, he’s Justin Jefferson, but he was also wide open for a lot of these passes, and that’s because of something strange the Packers have decided to do with their defense. Justin Jefferson did the wide bulk of his damage against zone defense last week, seeing 23 (of his 59) snaps against it, and catching 8/8 targets for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Should the Packers employ this again this weekend against the Bears, Darnell Mooney should feast. In a 3WR league, you should start Darnell Mooney. In a 2WR or flex league, it’s a case-by-case start or sit basis, but he should be in the mix there, too, despite his terrible week one.
Start or Sit Christian Kirk versus Indianapolis?
Christian Kirk is the WR1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that threw the ball 42 times last week, and who has passing the ball in their DNA. Kirk finished last week with 12 targets for 6 catches and 177 yards. Kirk should get at least 8-9 targets again this week, and that alone vaults him into starting consideration. He’s taking on a middle-of-the-road defense that allowed Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks to connect for 7 catches and 82 yards, on 12 touchdowns. So, because of this, and because the closest thing to a Brandin Cooks on the Jags is Christian Kirk. He should see the majority of the targets, get over 80 yards, and perhaps even score a touchdown. Because of this, I’m going to start Christian Kirk this week.
Start or Sit Hunter Renfrow versus Arizona?
Through one week in Las Vegas, things aren’t going well for the ancillary pieces around superstar wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams finished last week with 17 of 24 wide receiver targets last week (and 17 of 37 overall). That left the rest of the team to fight over just 20 targets, with Darren Waller getting six and Hunter Renfrow getting six. They also lost this game, however, and pretty much have to point to the fact that the entire offense was Davante Adams as a reason why. Luckily, they get a rebound game this week against a completely hapless Arizona Cardinals defense that couldn’t stop anyone on the Chiefs last week.
This should be a get-right game for both the Raiders and Hunter Renfrow. However, things could get out of hand in a hurry (and all that production could soak up to Davante Adams). So, out of an abundance of caution, I am going to go ahead and sit Hunter Renfrow this week, despite the juicy matchup that allowed 5 passing touchdowns to the Chiefs in week one.
Start or Sit Pat Freiermuth versus New England?
The Patriots “shut down” Mike Gesicki in week one (one target and one catch), which looks impressive on paper. But, you have to consider that there hasn’t even been a single good vibe surrounding Mike Gesicki this offseason, which makes it less impressive that they stopped him. While that statistic lies, it also hides one simple fact: the Patriots are terrible this season. Just, truly godawful. While the Steelers aren’t exactly the ’72 Dolphins, they seem to be better than the Patriots. They’ll also have a hobbled Najee Harris this weekend, which means more of the other weapons on the team. Last week, Pat Freiermuth had ten targets (six in regulation) which makes him the likely #2 target on the team, and the one most likely to get end zone looks. You can go ahead and start Pat Freiermuth, and keep him in your lineup for the foreseeable future.
Start or Sit Dawson Knox versus Tennessee?
Do you want fantasy points? Well, Dawson Knox might not be the best place to go. He’s one of the purest touchdown-or-bust tight ends in the NFL, notching just one double-digit PPR fantasy game last season when he didn’t score a touchdown. That trend continued on the Thursday Night Football kickoff in week one, as the Bills knocked around the Rams, but Knox ended with just one catch for five yards. So, you have to ask yourself: is Dawson Knox going to score a touchdown? The answer might surprise you: Maybe.
The Titans aren’t the best matchup for Knox in week two. They allowed just three receiving touchdowns to tight ends last season, the fewest in the league. They also allowed the third-lowest yards per target, meaning that tight ends didn’t do a whole lot against them, yardage-wise. I’m not even going to embarrass us both by acting like whatever happened in week one mattered: the entire tight end group had one target, a one-yard touchdown catch to backup tight end Chris Myarick. Sit Dawson Knox this week as the odds are against him scoring a touchdown in a tough tight end matchup.
Start or Sit Cole Kmet at Green Bay?
Cole Kmet had zero targets in week one against San Francisco. But, as I’ve already said so many times in this piece: throw it out! That game was a nightmare for all involved. If you’re being cautious, and you want to see Cole Kmet do it before you trot him out there, I understand. He has literally zero targets in a season where some were talking spicy like he might end up second at the position in targets. But, he should get a target boost this week, so if you’re in a bind, you can go ahead and start Cole Kmet against the Packers, but ideally, you want to look elsewhere while he gets his legs under him. This is an unprecedented move in start or sit history: do whatever you want with Cole Kmet. There’s no way to say one way or the other what will happen, and if you’re a Kmet Kid, I’m not here to yuck your yum.