Week Two Fantasy Football: Start or Sit

 Matchups are the most important factor when it comes to choosing who to start this week in fantasy football.  The only exceptions are the s...

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Most Fantasy Relevant NFL Teams

Every team has at least one player with fantasy relevance.  Even the Cincinnati Bengals who finished with the first overall pick last season had Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd who could be started almost every week.  However, some teams have much more fantasy relevance than others.  These are normally the high powered offenses and the teams that consistently make a push for the playoffs.  Today I will be breaking down the most fantasy relevant teams and the players that make them so productive.

The most obvious team is the Kansas City Chiefs.  A healthy Patrick Mahomes makes this team absolutely electric.  Even before Mahomes took over, Alex Smith made these weapons relevant as well.  Patrick Mahomes has been and will be a threat to finish as the QB1 every week no matter the match up.  A quarterback can't finish that high without having at least one weapon put up good numbers.  Based on their current ADPs, the Chiefs have three weapons being drafted in the first two rounds thanks to this Mahomes led offense.  

Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have been producing for years now and have their fantasy output amplified with Patrick Mahomes.  Both Kelce and Hill could finish at the top spot at their respective positions any given week.  The third player being drafted in the first two rounds is rookie running back Clyde Edwards Helaire.  CEH hasn't played a single NFL snap yet, but he has proven in college to be a prolific pass catching back.  Andy Reid knows how to get production out of running backs as well.  He helped LeSean McCoy back in Philadelphia become a great running back and has utilized Damien Williams in Kansas City.  CEH will produce for fantasy off the volume alone, but the talent is there as well.  The Chiefs also have guys like Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman who have the ability to put up big numbers, it just happens less often than Hill and Kelce.  

Kansas City also has a defense that will be relevant for fantasy in 2020.  They started out rough in 2019, allowing nearly 25 points per game before their bye week.  After that bye week, they allowed just over 10 points per game.  The defense will not be as good as it was at the end of last season, but they should definitely improve from how they started last year.  They have explosive players on the defensive line like Frank Clark and Chris Jones who will inevitably get sacks.  They also have Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Charvarius Ward, and Bashaud Breeland (suspended four games) who can all force turnovers.  With the improvement in yards and points per game allowed on top of the sack and turnover production, this defense could be streamed in a decent match up.  

The New Orleans Saints are another offense with ability to score 30 points any given week.  Drew Brees is always a threat for a 300 yard game and is a lock for at least 25 touchdowns on the season.  Brees has solid weapons who also go pretty high in drafts like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.  Both Thomas and Kamara are first round picks in fantasy football and have definitely lived up to those expectations.  Michael Thomas finished as the WR1 last season and could very easily repeat that with the amount of targets he receives.  Alvin Kamara struggled with an injury most of the 2019 season, but even he had some fantasy relevant weeks.  

Some later round picks from this team include Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, and even Latavius Murray in slightly larger leagues.  Although Sanders is getting old, he could very easily put up big numbers in this offense.  He is a refined route runner and Drew Brees has an incredibly accurate arm; if Sanders is open, Brees will find him.  Jared Cook is also getting up there in age but he continues to produce as well.  Cook is a big play tight end so the receptions may not be there, but the yards and touchdowns will be.  He can be inconsistent at times, but he could finish in the top five at the tight end position in a good match up.  Latavius Murray proved last season that he still has some gas left in the tank.  Kamara struggled to play through his injury at times, Murray stepped in and produced.  He won't see much action between the 20s, but could get some red zone and goal line work.

The Saints defense is also a pretty safe start nearly every week.  They have a solid pass rush led by Cameron Jordan and potential breakout star Marcus Davenport.  They also have Demario Davis and Nigel Bradham at linebacker who can both cause turnovers or get sacks.  The secondary isn't bad, but they are inconsistent at times.  They have a good mix of veteran and young players with Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins at corner, along with Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins at safety.  This defense has the ability to shut teams down, but needs to be more consistent.  The sacks will come nearly every week, but interceptions may be hard to come by at times. 

Dallas also has a lot of fantasy options.  Dak Prescott finished the 2019 season as a top five quarterback and is currently being drafted as such.  He can almost always go off for a big game, but also has the chance to finish outside the top ten.  Prescott will very rarely, if ever, be a total bust as he is always a threat for at least 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns.  Dak's productivity has to come from somewhere and in this offense, it's mainly from his receivers.  Amari Cooper has the tendency to disappear at times, typically after an injury but it still happens for a couple games throughout the season.  Michael Gallup is a young , but promising receiver.  He had over 1100 yards in 2019 and missed two games.  They also drafted Ceedee Lamb who will make up for the loss of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten.  Blake Jarwin could be in for a breakout season with the loss of Witten, but Lamb will receive some of those vacated targets.

As great as this passing offense may be, the running game is what allows it to open up so much.  Ezekiel Elliot is an elite running back in this league and will continue to produce year in and year out.  He is nearly a lock for 100 yards and a score every single game.  Elliot doesn't have the receiving capabilities of guys like Barkley or McCaffrey, but he can definitely catch the ball when needed.  Zeke should be in for another great season and will easily (barring injuries) finish as a top five running back.  He may have the safest floor of any running back in the league.

Now for the Dallas defense.  Their secondary took a hit with the loss of Byron Jones, but Chidobe Awuzie has shown some flashes and they drafted Trevon Diggs in the second round of the draft.  They also signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to improve their safety room.  The real strength of this defense is in the linebacker corps.  They have a great veteran in Sean Lee, a younger vet in Jaylon Smith, and a promising stud in Leighton Vander Esch. The only concern here is the health of these players.  Vander Esch went on IR in 2019, Sean Lee has been in and out of seasons for years now, and Jaylon Smith was of concern in college but seems to have grown out of his injury bug in the NFL.  This defense finished as the ninth best in fantasy last season, allowing 327 yards per game and about 20 points per game.  They don't force a ton of turnovers as they finished the season with just 17, but they can normally get to the quarterback a couple times per game (39 on the season).  They signed Everson Griffen to pair with Damarcus Lawrence to hopefully increase their sack numbers.

Although this team has consistently failed to live up to the hype, the Cleveland Browns could be in for a great fantasy year.  Starting with their quarterback, Baker Mayfield is in a make or break season.  If he can't produce with an improved offensive line, new weapons, and a seemingly capable coach, it may be time to move on from him.  There will obviously be growing pains in a new offense, but Baker knows he has to look good or his time in Cleveland could be coming to an end.  He has all the weapons he could possibly need for success in this offense as well.  Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are arguably a top five receiver duo in the NFL and are both a consistent threat for 100 yards and a touchdown.  They also have a great tight end duo with breakout star Austin Hooper and young stud David Njoku.  

The running back room is where a lot of the value of the Browns come from.  Nick Chubb has proven in just two seasons that he can carry the load of an every down back.  Chubb is not the greatest receiving back, but he has the ability to catch the ball in space and make guys miss.  They also have the 2017 rushing leader in Kareem Hunt who happens to be a great receiving back.  Although Chubb is the clear starter in this offense, Kareem Hunt will get enough work to be a weekly starter.  Kevin Stefanski loves using running backs in his offense and with a great duo like this, both of these guys will have value all year long.  

Cleveland's defense finished as the 22nd ranked defense in 2019, but that's with the loss of Myles Garrett for nearly half the season.  With this added pass rush coming back, the team should not only produce more sacks, but they'll also force more turnovers.  The secondary will improve with more time to develop their great, young corner duo of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams as well as the addition of safety Grant Delpit from LSU.  The linebackers aren't the best on this team, but Mack Wilson had a promising rookie season in 2019. 

The last team is the Arizona Cardinals.  They have one of the most exciting rosters heading into the 2020 season.  Kyler Murray has a great arm and will hopefully be looking to run a little more than he did last season.  Production on the ground is even more valuable for fantasy quarterbacks but with the addition of Deandre Hopkins, the Cardinals are clearly looking to pass the ball.  This offense also has the ageless wonder of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.  Neither of those names are as exciting for fantasy as Deandre Hopkins, but they both have potential to finish as a top 30 receiver with how fast this offense is looking to move.  

Arizona also put the transition tag on breakout running back Kenyan Drake.  Once they stole him from Miami, Drake had an incredible season.  In just eight games in Arizona, he had nearly 650 yards (5.2 YPC) and eight touchdowns.  Drake is a perfect fit for this offense and they will continue to scheme him into this offense.  Kyler Murray will also be a big factor in the run game.  Not only is Kyler fast, he's extremely quick and can beat nearly every defender to the outside of the field.  In his rookie season, he finished with nearly 550 yards on the ground with four touchdowns.  This offense has so many options and at the fast pace Kliff Kingsbury wants to play at, every one of these players will have fantasy relevance.

Unlike some of these other teams, the Cardinals defense may not be a weekly starter.  In 2019, no one on this team was getting sacks other than Chandler Jones who finished the year with 19.  They have added Jordan Philips who is coming off a career year, Devon Kennard, De'Vondre Campbell, and Isaiah Simmons who should all help improve this pass rush.  The Cardinals also couldn't stop any tight end last season which will also be helped by Isaiah Simmons and De'Vondre Campbell.  This Arizona defense will definitely see improvement from last season, but they are no more than a streaming option against a bad offense.  

Next five teams up:

San Francisco 49ers: great defense and tight end, injured and questionable receivers, Jimmy Garoppolo isn't an elite fantasy quarterback

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Great receivers and tight end, good quarterback, big question at running back, defense is good but needs to do it for another season before it's a consistent start.

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar is amazing, defense will get turnovers, and Mark Andrews is great.  Receivers are questionable behind Marquise Brown and running backs may be more of a committee than expected.

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson is great but can be inconsistent for fantasy, injuries at running back but Carson is underrated, great wide receiver duo, injuries at the tight end position, good defense but not great pass rush.

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff is good, but struggled in 2019 behind a bad offensive line.  Ball will be spread out a lot between receivers and tight ends but all should be valuable.  Big question at running back until a starter is named.  Defense is good but lacking some pass rush outside of Aaron Donald.

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