Kickoff: Thursday, September 14th, 8:15 PM ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Betting Odds: PHI -7, 48.5 O/U total via OddsShark
Writer: Nick Beaudoin
Kirk Cousins (Start, Low-QB1)
I can already see the “Prime Time” Kirk Cousins narrative all over the walls as Minnesota visits PFF’s #3 ranked secondary in Philadelphia. On paper, this is a matchup to avoid. However, the Eagles may quietly be down a few key players this week, opening several holes in the defense for Cousins to exploit. I expect (former Patriot) Head Coach Kevin O’Connell to follow the Patriots’ blueprint from last week, attacking the middle of the field with slot WRs and TEs, which allowed Mac Jones to finish as the QB2 overall with 316 yards passing, three touchdowns, and one interception. Cousins always has plenty of weekly upside with surrounding cast Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockensen, and first-round pick Jordan Addison, and will likely be playing catch-up as 7-point road underdogs. Cousins can be used as a low-QB1 against Philadelphia, and hopefully change his narrative.
Alexander Mattison (Start, RB2), Ty Chandler (Sit)
The Alexander Mattison experiment has finally begun, gaining 44 yards and one touchdown on 14 touches in Week 1. Mattison has the potential to be an RB1, but I personally am not betting against PFF’s #1 defensive line in Philadelphia. Mattison will get the lion’s share of carries and receptions out of the backfield, but I expect the game script and individual matchups to lean toward Cousins and the passing game (see below). Mattison is a low-floor, high-ceiling RB2 option based on guaranteed volume in Week 2.
Ty Chandler served as the primary backup in Week 1, gaining zero yards on three carries, but 18 yards on one reception. He is only a threat for touches when giving Mattison a breather, and should only be rostered as a potential handcuff.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Jefferson (Start, WR1), Jordan Addison (Start, WR2), KJ Osborn (Sit), TJ Hockensen (Start, TE1)
Justin Jefferson is in my opinion the best WR in the league. He was my first overall pick in standard leagues, and my first WR off the board in Dynasty leagues. With that being said, this is not a matchup I look forward to. When these two teams met last year, Eagles #1 CB Darius Slay was given the task to shadow Jefferson, who ended up with one reception for seven yards on six targets – by far his worst performance of the season. Slay, on the other hand, walked away with two interceptions and one pass breakup. These numbers will be extremely difficult to duplicate, but if you took Jefferson in the first round, he is in your lineup and should be treated as the WR1 any time he is on the field.
Jordan Addison was Minnesota’s first-round pick, earning four receptions on six targets, gaining 61 yards and one touchdown in his first NFL game. The former Biletnekoff winner is known for precise route-running, immediately steps in as Adam Thielen’s replacement, and is a sneaky-good option this week in Philadelphia. Eagles #2 CB James Bradberry is currently in concussion protocol, and if he misses Thursday’s game, will be replaced by UDFA Josh Jobe. This is a huge downgrade in talent, and if this is the case, Addison’s target share should increase greatly with the level of commitment needed to stop Justin Jefferson. Addison could very likely lead the team in targets in Week 2 and has a high-end WR2/ low-end WR1 upside.
Third-year WR KJ Osborn has game-breaking ability, but he is nothing more than a boom-bust option until proven otherwise. He did earn six targets in Week 1 and will still be involved in the offense but will be difficult to predict as the #4 option on this offense. He is a FLEX play at best, assuming Jefferson and Addison stay healthy.
Outside of Addison, TJ Hockensen could also be the team leader in targets in Week 2. The former No. 8 overall pick has taken over games before, and if the Eagles have a weak spot, it is in the middle of the field. In Week 1, the Patriots TE duo Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki combined for 92 yards on 8 receptions and one touchdown. Since then, LB Nakobe Dean has been placed on IR and S Reed Blankenship has not been practicing. Look for Cousins to pepper targets to Hockensen and Addison in the middle of the field as the Eagles do their best to contain Jefferson.
Jalen Hurts (Start, QB1)
Despite a 16-0 early lead against the Patriots, Jalen Hurts somehow let fantasy managers down as the QB19 in Week 1. Week 2 will be a different story against a Vikings secondary that just allowed the Buccaneers’ receivers 15 receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns, all with Baker Mayfield at the helm. With the league’s highest implied point total of 28 in Week 2, we can expect Hurts to pick apart this secondary, as well as get back to using his legs with “number one” RB Kenneth Gainwell trending towards doubtful. Fire up Hurts with confidence as a top-3 QB play in Week 2.
Kenneth Gainwell (Out), D’Andre Swift (Start, RB2), Boston Scott (Sit), Rashaad Penny (Sit)
After adding household names D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny this offseason, the Eagles backfield was naturally led by Kenneth Gainwell in Week 1; he had a combined 18 total touches for 74 yards. The Eagles have played backfield roulette for years, often riding the hot hand when you least expect it. However, we may be fortunate to have a little more clarity entering this game. The Eagles coaching staff has already admitted they need to get Swift more touches, and with Gainwell trending toward not playing, this makes Swift the clear starter in Week 2. Swift provides value in both rushing and receiving aspects and–without Gainwell–is all but guaranteed for 10-15 touches in a home matchup with an expected positive game script.
Behind Swift will be Philly-favorite Boston Scott as well as Rashaad Penny. Both of them have the potential to vulture a TD, but with two touches in Week 1, for Scott and Penny being deemed a healthy scratch, you cannot rely on either in your fantasy lineups this week.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
AJ Brown (Start, WR1), DeVonta Smith (Start, WR1), Quiz Watkins (Sit), Dallas Goedert (Start, TE1)
When these two teams met last year, the Eagles duo combined for 12 receptions on 15 targets for 149 total yards. I’m expecting bigger numbers at home on Thursday. AJ Brown is an absolute stud coming off a 10-target week against New England and must be started every week as a WR1 in all formats.
DeVonta Smith does not get the recognition that Brown does, but he finished as the WR9 last season and provides WR1 upside. He also put up 10 targets last week, and although Brown finished with more yards, it was Smith who scored the touchdown. I expect the Eagles to pick apart the Minnesota secondary this week, giving both Brown and Smith the potential to finish in the WR1 range.
Behind Brown and Smith lies Quez Watkins, who had just two targets last week. He is not a viable starter as the #4 or 5 receiving option on this team.
Many might be scared off by Dallas Goedert putting up a zero last week against NE, but I am buying in. Belichick has a history of taking away your best players, and last week it was Goedert who took the hit. Although he is rarely a game-breaker, he is too talented to not be involved in the game plan. He is as consistent as they come, somehow finishing last season as the TE12 despite missing five weeks with a shoulder injury. Look for a bounce-back week with Goedert resuming his role of 5-7 targets.
– Nick Beaudoin