Kickoff: Monday, September 19 at 8:30 PM ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Betting Odds: PHI -2.5, 50.5 Total on Oddshark
Writer: Drew DeLuca (@DrewDeLaware on Twitter)
Kirk Cousins (Start)
Kirk Cousins threw for over 270 yards and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers last week, giving the Vikings an early lead that was never in danger. The Vikings may need to air it out a bit more to keep pace with a Philadelphia Eagles offense that fired on all cylinders in Detroit after a slow start. The Eagles’ defense was inconsistent at best last week, so Kevin O’Connell’s new passing attack should have no trouble generating plenty of yards and more than a few scores. Start Cousins with confidence in 10-team and larger leagues.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1), Alexander Mattison (Sit), Kene Nwangwu (Sit), Ty Chandler (Sit)
As happy as the City of Philadelphia is when the Eagles win, there are grumblings when the defense is gashed for 181 rushing yards, despite several key veteran and rookie additions. In particular, there’s been plenty of chatter surrounding Jordan Davis‘ limited snap count, and the night-and-day difference when he’s on the field:
The #Eagles allowed 2.9 yards per carry when Jordan Davis was on the field. They allowed 10.0 yards per carry when he was off the field.
— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) September 12, 2022
Expect the Eagles’ defense to show significant improvement once Davis starts seeing more snaps, but we think Dalvin Cook has a solid day in store before the defense starts to iron out its wrinkles in earnest. Cook racked up 103 total yards last week and is overdue for a trip to the end zone: his current four-game touchdown drought is his longest since 2018. The Eagles allowed more rushing yards than any other team in the league last year, and only four teams allowed more rushing touchdowns. Start Cook with confidence while Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon tries to right the ship.
Alexander Mattison saw more work in a complementary role than he has in years past, compiling 36 yards on eight carries. He’s not in the flex conversation at this point, but his situation bears watching. If his carry split rises above 30-35 percent and stays there, he could offer stand-alone value in larger leagues, with home run upside in the event of an injury to Cook. Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chander flashed at times this preseason, but it appears neither should be on the radar of fantasy managers for the foreseeable future.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Jefferson (Start, WR1), Adam Thielen (Start, WR3), K.J. Osborn (Sit), Jalen Reagor (Sit), Irv Smith (Sit)
Justin Jefferson had himself a day during Kickoff Weekend, scorching the Packers for 184 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. Tyreek Hill had his way against an Eagles defense featuring Darius Slay last year, and there’s no reason why an All-Pro talent like Jefferson can’t repeat such a feat this coming Sunday.
Adam Thielen is too touchdown dependent to lean on him as anything more than a WR3, and he’ll have his hands full with 2021 Pro Bowler James Bradberry, but we can’t ignore the inconsistency shown by the Eagles’ defense last week. However, we’re not as high on K. J. Osborn‘s matchup against above-average slot corner Avonte Maddox. We certainly can’t recommend former Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor either, so apologies to those who love a good “revenge game” narrative. We’re also sitting Irv Smith, who was a non-factor in Week 1. A bounce-back game seems unlikely, as the Eagles appear to be much stronger against the tight end than in recent years, thanks to the addition of free-agent linebacker Kyzir White.
Jalen Hurts (Start), Gardner Minshew (Sit)
Incredibly, Jalen Hurts was the QB4 last week despite throwing zero touchdown passes. There is no fantasy league in existence in which Hurts should be riding pine…unless, of course, there’s a fantasy manager who’s also rostering Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, or maybe Patrick Mahomes in a 1QB league. Hurts can carry a fantasy team with his legs alone, and last week flashed deep ball productivity that was sorely lacking in 2021. Until further notice, consider him a Top Five fantasy quarterback by default in any given week.
Jalen Hurts attempted 32 passes against the #Lions and had 0 turnover-worthy plays. His adjusted completion percentage of 83.3% ranked 6th during week 1. There is plenty for Hurts to improve on, but his scrambling and the way he protects the ball gives the #Eagles a high floor. pic.twitter.com/VeU7o8pvbk
— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) September 14, 2022
Miles Sanders (Start, low-end RB2/Flex), Kenny Gainwell (Sit), Boston Scott (Sit), Trey Sermon (Sit)
Miles Sanders entered Week 1 under a cloud of uncertainty, and not just because of a preseason hamstring injury that cost him three weeks of practice time. His lack of utilization in 2021 was cause for consternation in the Greater Philadelphia area, and the former 2nd Round pick from Penn State compiled a whopping total of zero touchdowns last season.
While Hurts led the Eagles in rushing attempts (17) last week, Sanders was more efficient, racking up 96 yards on 13 carries, including a late 20-yard scamper that effectively ended the Lions’ hopes of a comeback victory. Sanders topped 100 total yards only three times last season in 12 games, so it’s a good sign that he did so in his first opportunity in 2022.
Many fantasy analysts passed on Sanders in Round 8 or so in season-long fantasy drafts this year in favor of Kenny Gainwell in the neighborhood of Round 13. Of the six targets thrown in the direction of Eagles running backs last week, four of them went to Gainwell; Sanders caught the other two. Gainwell ended the day with 32 yards on seven touches and a touchdown. Boston Scott saw only four touches, taking his lone red zone touch into the end zone for a third-quarter touchdown. Of this group, Sanders is the only one we can start with confidence this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A.J. Brown (Start, WR1), DeVonta Smith (Start, WR3), Quez Watkins (Sit), Zach Pascal (Sit), Dallas Goedert (Start)
A.J. Brown broke out in a big way in his Eagles debut, catching 10 of 13 targets for 155 yards. It was a game of epic, historical proportions:
Most receiving yards by non-rookie in their team debut in NFL history:
Anquan Boldin: 208 (2013)
Randy Moss: 183 (2007)
Art Powell: 181 (1963)
A.J. Brown: 155 (2022) pic.twitter.com/nD8gRsw78M
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 13, 2022
Brown didn’t reach the end zone, but we like his chances of finding paydirt in this tilt: only five teams allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers than the Vikings last season. That same Vikings allowed more yards per game to wide receivers than any other team in the league, so we’re all in on Brown. These same metrics get us excited about a rebound game for DeVonta Smith, who had his lone reception of Week 1 negated by a penalty.
Quez Watkins has a tantalizing combination of steady hands and game-breaking speed, but he projects as a boom-or-bust option who’s more valuable in bestball leagues and DFS GPP tournaments than he is in season-long managed leagues. Zach Pascal, as always, does just enough to siphon volume away from his fellow wide receivers, yet too little to offer value himself. Dallas Goedert, however, is a viable start as a mid-range TE1. The former South Dakota State Jackrabbit is currently listed as the TE5 this week, according to FantasyPros’ Week 2 Expert Consensus Rankings.