Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 2
Chiefs vs. Steelers
It was a spectacular opening weekend for the Kansas City Chiefs. Head Coach Andy Reid improved to 5-1 in opening weekends with the Chiefs and they continued dominating the AFC West, improving to 17-2 since 2015 against division opponents. The best part is they looked like they were having fun and that makes the team a pleasure to watch every week. This week KC heads to Pittsburgh, a team they have struggled against in the Reid era.
Pittsburgh has won three straight including a playoff loss just last season. Have things changed for KC or will this be another low scoring defeat for the Chiefs?
Vegas has this over/under at 53.5 right now but I don’t see how we see that sort of offense in Week 2. Kansas City hasn’t scored more than 14 in Pittsburgh since 1989, including a 13-19 loss in last years playoffs. The young QB showed out in Week 1 but heading into Hines Field the young QB will have the toughest test of his young career.
Pat Mahomes exploded in Week 1, winning AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Was this a fluke or are we looking at the next fantasy star?
I firmly believe Patrick Mahomes will be the next fantasy star at QB but we may have to hold off expectations this week. Pittsburgh will show the young QB this week looks he’s never seen and bring pressure from places that he may not be able to process. Of course, a few timely throws from the gunslinger may be enough to win the game but that cannot be counted on. He’s a borderline QB1 in fantasy but proceed with caution.
Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce both had disappointing opening weeks. With either or both bounce back this week?
Kansas City should rely heavily on Kareem Hunt this week. Hunt had just 16 carries and no catches in Week 1 but if KC has any chance to keep this game close Hunt will need to be the centerpiece of the attack. The Steelers defense gave up 100 yards on the ground and TD in Week 1 and Hunt should be a strong RB1 this week. I am much more concerned with Travis Kelce, especially early in the year. Mahomes did not play with a TE at Texas Tech. In Kelce’s first ever game with Mahomes, he had 6 targets but only converted 1 catch for 6 yards. For long stretches of the game, Mahomes was locked on to Tyreek Hill and ignored his TE. This won’t continue all year but early in the season expect low numbers for Kelce.
What should owners be doing with Sammy Watkins?
Watkins should be benched and could even be dropped for owners looking for immediate impact. The most important things for a young QB are trust and chemistry. Mahomes has not shown either with Sammy Watkins throughout the preseason and in Week 1. Mahomes has a Jedi mind link with Tyreek Hill, much like Kylo and Rey, and I don’t see that as a trend that changes. Watkins is one of the most efficient WR in the league in the red zone and this is something to pay attention to when the bye week gauntlet hits but for now he is not a fantasy option.
This Kansas City defense was gashed on Week 1. Is there anything positive we can take away from the game moving forward?
As expected, there Kansas City defense is awful. The Chiefs defense surrendered 29 fantasy points at QB, 47 at WR and an incredible 51 at RB. 33 first downs led to 500+ total yards against and 33 first downs. While they did force 2 turnovers, they should be avoided as a fantasy team defense but this is a positive sign for the Kansas City offense who should see plenty of opportunity with game scripts. If you are playing IDP there are two players to target on your waiver wire: Ron Parker (6 tackles 2 assists) and Anthony Hitchens (7 tackles, 1 assist). In individual defensive fantasy football, terrible defenses lead to big fantasy weeks for owners.
Is James Conner legit? What is his outlook against the Chiefs?
James Conner blew away all expectations in week one against the Browns and is poised for a big week against the Chiefs in a potential shootout. Incredibly, Conner was the only Steelers running back with an offensive snap and was on the field for 92% of the team’s plays. This simply won’t continue all year, as the Steelers will have to rotate in another running back from time to time. Yet even with a decent decrease, Conner seems locked into top-tier usage in an explosive offense. In theory, he could have a disappointing week if the Steelers fall behind and are forced to pass, as he is not Le’Veon Bell in the passing game. But his 5 catches on 6 targets for 57 yards seems to indicate he can hold his own as a receiver. In what will be a common theme in this preview, fire up Conner in all formats with confidence against a leaky Chiefs defense.
I know I need to start Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but what about rookie James Washington? Is he poised to make an impact?
Even in sloppy conditions in week one, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster delivered a typically excellent performance. If the Chiefs’ offense puts up points like they did last week, the Steelers should find themselves feeding their best receivers early and often. Start both in every league you possibly can, including daily fantasy leagues.
Rookie wide receiver James Washington saw a disappointing 13% of offensive snaps last week, with Justin Hunter dominating third wide receiver duties (playing 61% of offensive snaps). Hunter did nothing with his targets, however, and Washington flashed big-play ability in the preseason. Last year JuJu saw a small number of snaps and targets in week one but was steadily incorporated into the offense afterward, and saw his role steadily grow every week. If Washington follows a similar path, maybe he is used more in a high scoring slugfest this week. But until we see him on the field more, he can’t be trusted to start except in the deepest leagues.
Was last week the beginning of the end for Ben Roethlisberger?
Against the Browns in the rain and wind last week, Ben Roethlisberger threw 3 interceptions, was sacked four times, and lost 2 fumbles to almost singlehandedly keep the Steelers from winning the game (they tied). Doesn’t it feel like we do this every year? Roethlisberger looks bad in a road game that the Steelers should have won, only to come roaring back the next week? I’m not falling for it again, especially in a matchup against a Chiefs defense that allowed Philip Rivers to throw 51 times for 424 yards and 3 touchdowns last week, while only forcing 1 interception and 1 sack all game. And Ben still managed to throw for 335 yards last week, while providing his receivers with ample opportunities to make plays. Roethlisberger is always better at home, and the sky is the limit this week. He’s an upper tier QB1 in week two.
Is there a Steelers tight end worth playing in this high scoring matchup?
Vance McDonald missed last week, opening the door for Jesse James to catch 3 of 5 targets for 60 yards in the opener. McDonald is practicing fully and looks ready to play this week. However, he has only participated in five full practices since the start of training camp. It’s hard to see the Steelers giving him a full workload this week, muddying this situation to the point where neither player is anywhere near a TE1. James could certainly vulture a touchdown, but week one’s 60 yards will probably represent his season high. Keep an eye on McDonald for potential streaming opportunities ahead, but he can’t be trusted in almost any league this week.
Is the Steelers defense a streaming option this week after a 7 sack week one?
Probably not. They had a strong game against the Browns in bad weather, with T. J. Watt recording 3 of the team’s 7 sacks. But the Chiefs offense looked explosive in week one, and can seemingly score from anywhere on the field. Maybe the Steelers can rattle Patrick Mahomes and force some turnovers, and a defensive or special teams touchdown can make any defense a top 10 weekly scorer. But you should be able to find better options against much less talented quarterbacks this week on the waiver wire.