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    Beyond the Boxscore: Fantasy Football 2023 Week 2 Lineup Advice from proven expert

    Not sure who to start in Week 2? Jacob Gibbs gave lineup advice on how to handle some of the more complicated Week 2 start/sit situations.
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    Each week, we're going to go beyond the boxscore and dive into the most interesting situations from around the NFL and discuss how they might shape the Fantasy landscape for the upcoming week. My hope is that you leave this article feeling at least a little bit more confident in the reasoning behind your lineup decisions.

    I'm going to give advice in this space and hope to be right more than wrong, but most importantly, I hope that you leave these episodes with a clearer and fuller understanding of what goes into my rankings here on SportsLine. I'm excited to peel back the curtain a bit and invite you to start thinking about your lineup decisions in a less linear way. We're trying to move away from this player ranks two spots higher than this player, so he's the one to start – lineup decisions are almost always more dynamic than that!

    I do my best to create space to answer questions on Twitter throughout the week, you might catch me there. I also plan to create a live stream version of this article where we can talk through lineup decisions together each Wednesday.

    My goal is to be more present and available to help SportsLine members with their Fantasy lineup decisions this season! Below, you'll find the situations that stood out the most to me when making important lineup decisions across my leagues for Week 2.

    If you're starting your Fantasy football draft research or scouring the Internet for Fantasy rankings, you need to see what SportsLine's highly-rated expert Jacob Gibbs has to say. Gibbs uses a data-driven approach that has helped him consistently provide accurate rankings at every position. He has proven to be one of the nation's most accurate Fantasy rankers in recent years -- posting the eighth-most accurate results over the past three seasons, according to Fantasy Pros.

    Now, Gibbs has projected every Fantasy-relevant player's stats and shared his findings for Week 2 of the 2023 season. In Week 1, Gibbs advised starting Puka Nacua while helping Fantasy managers avoid disappointing performances from Najee Harris and George Pickens.

    One player Gibbs is especially high on in Week 2: Texans wide receiver Nico Collins. Gibbs loved what he saw from Collins in Week 1 and is starting him ahead of Garrett Wilson with Zach Wilson taking over at QB for the New York JetsGibbs is also all-in on a rookie receiver! You NEED to see Gibbs' analysis before you lock in your lineup.

    So who are the best under-the-radar players to start in Week 2? And which rookie receiver is a must-start? ... Join SportsLine here to see Jacob Gibbs' 2023 Fantasy football rankings, sleepers, breakouts and busts, all from one of the nation's most accurate experts as graded by FantasyPros!

    I'm excited to start Anthony Richardson and Michael Pittman

    The pace with which the Colts are playing increases the Fantasy upside for this offense, and the passing attack centers around Michael Pittman. Really, everything -- the increase in play action and RPO usage, the elevated situation-neutral pass rate, the elevated first-down pass rate -- that we've seen about Shane Steichen's offensive game plan has me excited about the outlook for Pittman and Anthony Richardson.

    Richardson projects as a top-10 Fantasy QB with upside for much more if he creates more as a rusher. The Colts have a good-enough implied point total of 20.75 points against Houston, and I'm actually excited to start both Richardson and Pittman. In my early Week 2 rankings, Richardson is the QB6, while Pittman ranks as the WR24.

    Dameon Pierce could bounce back in a big way in Week 2

    If Indianapolis is able to move the chains and is playing with pace, it could elevate the pace of this game as a whole. The Texans produced 72 plays (fourth most) in Week 1. These two teams each ranked top-10 in offensive plays in Week 1, and those didn't come against particularly easy defensive matchups.

    Week 1 was a discouraging one for Dameon Pierce, there's no way around it. There wasn't much room on the ground against one of the strongest rush defenses (Baltimore) in the NFL, but things could be different in Week 2.

    The Colts were solid against zone rushing in 2022, but Travis Etienne and the Jaguars found gaps (9-47-2 rushing on zone attempts) against Indy's defense in Week 1. A rate of 65% of Houston's rush attempts were zone-schemed in Week 1.

    Pierce's snap rate was up there with the most disappointing data points that we got in Week 1.

    It should rise in Week 2. For his career, Pierce has a 65% snap rate in game that were decided by one score (9+ points) or less.

    I expect Houston to lean on Pierce in Week 2 after their Week 1 gameplan got a bit away from them and led to 50+ dropbacks for rookie C.J. Stroud. Pierce currently sits as the RB16 in my latest rankings -- ahead of Jahmyr Gibbs, Alexander Mattison, Najee Harris, and Rachaad White and just behind James Cook and Rhamondre Stevenson.

    Nico Collins and Puka Nacua among 27 receivers ranked ahead of Garrett Wilson

    Pierce isn't the only Texan I'm cautiously optimistic about in Week 2. I also view Dalton Schultz as a viable tight end in PPR formats, and all three of Houston's receivers are fine plays if in a pinch. Of the bunch, Nico Collins is clearly my favorite. There's upside for much more than a spot-start from Collins if his Week 1 usage is any indication.

    Robert Woods ranks as the WR57 in my latest rankings update, just behind rookie teammate Tank Dell (WR51). Dell is an electric talent who led all of college football in receiving yardage across the 2021-22 seasons and was featured by Houston this preseason

    Indy's defense used Cover-3 at the third-highest rate (46%) in 2022, and their Week 1 rate was identical. Cover-3 typically leads to increased targets for WR1 types, and we've seen Collins' target per route run rate rise to 27.8% vs. Cover-3 since the start of 2022. I'd expect another high volume game for him, with upside for the ancillary receiving options if Houston is able to move the chains and create anywhere near as many plays as in Week 1.

    Another young receiver whose Fantasy value arrow is pointed straight up, Puka Nacua is officially getting the start over Garrett Wilson for me in a few leagues in Week 2. I'm worried about Wilson's role with Zach Wilson at QB. A whopping 48 different players had more targets AND air yards than Wilson in Week 1.

    No receiver accounted for a higher percentage of his team's targets than Nacua in Week 1.

    Nacua is trending towards being a top-24 Fantasy WR in Week 2, in my opinion. I detailed the matchup for Nacua against San Francisco in this Twitter thread. I don't believe that his 15 Week 1 targets were a fluke. Nacua is positioned for massive volume again in Week 2.

    Popular waiver wire additions are in play as Week 2 starters

    Kyren Williams also stands to potentially benefit from San Francisco's zone-heavy coverage scheme. He had the fifth-highest route involvement rate at the RB position in Week 1 and could be on the field a lot again with the Rams listed as 7.5-point underdogs. I prefer Williams to Antonio Gibson, Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift (even if Kenneth Gainwell sits), and both Baltimore backs in Week 2.

    Kendrick Bourne ran more routes than any receiver in Week 1 as the Patriots surprisingly played at the fastest pace in the NFL. New England has a decent 22-point implied team total (12th highest in Week 2) against Miami, and the over/under is set at a healthy 46.5 points. Miami's starting corners to open the season are Xavien Howard and Eli Apple. Howard earned a PFF coverage grade of 56 last year and led the NFL in receiving yardage allowed. Apple's grade was actually worse (55), and he allowed the seventh-most yards. In Week 1, Apple had a PFF coverage grade of 58. Howard's was 44.

    Hilariously elite is how I would describe Zach Ertz's Week 1 usage. He ran a route on 91% of Arizona's dropbacks and led the team in targets by a wide margin. He's a top-12 Fantasy TE in my early Week 2 rankings.

    Sorting out the fringe starter range at each position

    Those were the player-specific situations that stood out to me as worth discussing in detail this week. Each week, we'll wrap up this start/sit journey by sorting out the fringe starter range of my rankings at each position.


    The number of quarterbacks I consider to be viable starters dropped from 23 in Week 1 to 20 in Week 2, with Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, and Jordan Love standing out as viable desperation Hail Mary options.

    Group 1: Quarterbacks with the upside to push well north of 20 Fantasy points

    Tier 1 -- Justin Fields, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa
    Tier 2 -- Jared Goff, Geno Smith, Daniel Jones
    Tier 3 -- Kirk Cousins, Mac Jones, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Jordan Love

    If you're looking for upside, these are your guys.

    Implied point total for each quarterback's team in Week 2:

    26.5 points -- Goff
    25 points -- Burrow
    24.5 points -- Tagovailoa
    22.5 points -- Daniel Jones
    22 points -- Mac Jones
    21.25 points -- Love
    21 points -- Smith
    21 points -- Cousins
    21 points -- Tannehill
    20.75 points -- Watson
    19.25 points -- Fields
    18.25 points -- Stafford

    Considering the group this way makes Stafford stick out like a sore thumb. He's the only one with a low implied team total who doesn't bring rushing upside. Only Tagovailoa had a higher PFF grade than Stafford in Week 1, and I believe it's possible that he and Sean McVay will again exceed expectations in Week 2. I'm starting him ahead of Tannehill, Love, Sam Howell, Baker Mayfield, C.J. Stroud, and Kenny Pickett.

    I'd prefer to avoid Love in Week 2. The implied team total is decent enough, but Atlanta is an albatross that Arthur Smith seems to have created simply to suck the fun and joy out of Fantasy football. Slow-paced defensive battles against the Falcons are something I want no part of when choosing players to roster in Fantasy. Also, Love's off-target rate and PFF grade both suggest that his Week 1 results were much better than his performance.

    Group 2: Quarterbacks who feel like safe bets to post a score that doesn't hurt your lineup

    Tier 1 -- Dak Prescott
    Tier 2 -- Derek Carr, Brock Purdy, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson

    I don't see many paths to big upside for these four, with Cousins being the one exception. I placed him in both Groups. He's a special guy.

    I'm not expecting any of Prescott, Carr, or Purdy to need to push for a big total through the air. The expected game environments that they'll play in aren't all that appealing from a projected play volume standpoint. They're fine if you need stability. If you feel good about the rest of your roster, the quarterbacks in this tier make for much safer streaming options than someone like Stafford or Love.


    There are 19 players I feel really good about starting, and things get pretty thin after that.

    Group 1: There's definitely upside, but I'm not sure what type of role to expect

    Tier 1 -- Dameon Pierce, Jahmyr Gibbs
    Tier 2 -- Isiah Pacheco, Zack Moss, Breece Hall
    Tier 3 -- Khalil Herbert, Cam Akers, D'Andre Swift, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill

    The Week 1 usage for Isiah Pacheco was not good. He's going to have a difficult time producing in Fantasy if the backfield remains so evenly split. Jacksonville's rush defense looked great in Week 1. I'd rather avoid Pacheco for the time being.

    I expect Zack Moss to assume most or all of the workload that the Colts were giving to Deon Jackson, which was a massive 73% snap rate and 63% route involvement rate in Week 1. With rookie Evan Hull set to miss several weeks, this backfield is wide open for Moss to take over.

    Breece Hall is so dang good. His ability to manipulate defenders in space with burst and pacing is so fun, and he's been an absolute big-play machine to this point in his career. He only played 32% of the snaps and ran a route on five of 26 dropbacks in Week 1, but it's possible that New York is forced to lean on him more heavily as the primary source of offense earlier than they originally planned to. I'd like to continue to wait and see what Hall's role will be before trusting him as a starter, especially against the Cowboys. But, as we saw in Week 1, he can provide a week's worth of Fantasy points on any given play.

    Cam Akers was given the ball 22 times on the ground and ran really hard in Week 1. The result was, of course, 29 yards. Things won't get much easier against the Niners in Week 2. But, it's worth pointing out that Week 1 was a near bottom range of outcomes result with Akers in his current role.

    Group 2: These players make a lot of sense in theory, but I'm not excited by their projection

    Tier 1 -- Alexander Mattison, Najee Harris, Raheem Mostert
    Tier 2 -- Tyler Allgeier

    The matchup is brutal for Mattison and Mostert, and Allgeier's isn't much better. The Packers were really good against zone rushing in 2022 and stifled it in Week 1. No team uses zone more than Arthur Smith's Falcons.

    Group 3: We're betting on volume. There's not much upside here.

    Tier 1 -- Jamaal Williams, Rachaad White, James Conner
    Tier 2 -- Miles Sanders, Javonte Williams, Brian Robinson, Samaje Perine

    The lack of projected targets and relatively low implied team totals in Washington and New Orleans left both Robinson and Williams lower in my projections than I expected. Both backs are positioned well from a usage standpoint, and I'm quite comfortable starting them. They might not bring quite as much hypothetical upside as the backs from Group 1, but I feel a lot more confident in their workload.

    Implied team totals for the respective offenses that these backs play in:

    21.75 points -- White
    21.25 points -- Jamaal Williams
    20.5 points -- Williams, Perine
    18.25 points -- Sanders 
    17.5 points -- Conner
    17 points -- Robinson

    Commanding all or most of the backfield usage doesn't matter much if your offense spends most of the day running three unsuccessful plays and then punting.


    Group 1: I think we can trust these players

    Tier 1 -- Mike Williams, DK Metcalf, Amari Cooper, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel
    Tier 2 -- Tyler Lockett, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins
    Tier 3 -- Nico Collins, Michael Pittman, Zay Flowers, Puka Nacua
    Tier 4 -- Elijah Moore, Michael Thomas, Jordan Addison, Kendrick Bourne, Zay Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Darius Slayton, Tank Dell, Tyler Boyd, Robert Woods, Isaiah Hodgins

    I'm expecting a big-time bounce back for Big Mike against a Titans defense that is routinely torched down the field by perimeter receivers. Tennessee allowed an opponent passer rating of 122 on deep targets (15+ air yards) to the wide receiver position in 2022. The next-closest rate was 107. In Week 1, Derek Carr moved the ball down the field against this defense with ease.

    I was excited for the potential for Brandon Aiyuk to face more man coverage in Week 1, but the Steelers cut their 2022 man coverage rate in half in their first game. So, I wondered if maybe San Francisco changed Aiyuk's role in any sort of significant way. I did not find any such change; his first-read target rate was identical to 2022, and if anything, Aiyuk's elevated average route depth and increased go route rate in Week 1 both paint him as a player who should be expected to continue to struggle to draw targets when facing zone coverage.

    I bring this up because the Rams used zone 87% of the time in Week 1. This feels like more of a spot for Deebo Samuel to soak up targets.

    Few players saw a higher percentage of their team's receiving volume than DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1, and he now faces a Chargers defense that was just embarrassed. Hopkins brings a much different skill set than Tyreek Hill, so who knows if he'll capitalize on the matchup, but his target total could get out of hand if his rates from Week 1 are even a little bit sustainable.

    Zay Flowers led the NFL with a 48% target share, but his average depth of target was only 2.8 yards. The rookie receiver was Baltimore's first read an absurd 60% of the time. No other player had a rate above 50%. The league leader was at 39% in 2022.

    This type of usage clearly isn't sustainable over a larger sample size, particularly if Mark Andrews returns to the fold. But this type of usage clearly does illuminate Baltimore's desire to get the ball into their Round 1 rookie's hands. The Ravens only have a 21.5-point implied team total for Week 2, so I'm not going out of my way to jam Flowers or anybody other than Jackson into my lineups. I'm happy to wait and see how Flowers handles a heavy dose of press coverage in Week 2 where I can, but clearly, his target total in Week 1 makes Flowers a viable play if you need him.

    Group 2: Mystery Box

    Tier 1 -- Garrett Wilson, Courtland Sutton, Gabe Davis, Marquise Brown
    Tier 2 -- Jahan Dotson
    Tier 3 -- DJ Moore, Christian Kirk, Drake London, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Treylon Burks
    Tier 4 -- Brandin Cooks, George Pickens, Jayden Reed, Darnell Mooney, Romeo Doubs
    Tier 5 -- Allen Robinson, Tutu Atwell, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Jonathan Mingo, Rashid Shaheed, Josh Downs, Curtis Samuel, Calvin Austin, Rashee Rice, Michael Wilson, Alec Pierce, Kayshon Boutte, Josh Reynolds, Terrace Marshall

    Gabe Davis goes from one of the most difficult schematic matchups for a field-stretching perimeter threat to one of the most inviting from Week 1 to 2. He's firmly in play as an upside flex option.

    Another Week 1 disappointment I avoided in a tough opening matchup but am rolling the dice on in Week 2 is Hollywood Brown.

    Jahan Dotson's usage was better in Week 1 than as a rookie, no doubt. I'm not sure if it was good enough to support starting him in a Week 2 road matchup against the Broncos. The Commanders are implied for only 17 points in Week 2.

    Tier 3 is pretty disgusting, huh? If you're placing a long-shot bet on one of those players to perform well in Week 2, I'd either put my money on Treylon Burks or Jaxon Smith-Njigba, as their teams will likely be forced to open things up offensively and could be dragged into a shootout.

    Week 2 could bring the big George Pickens game that everyone has been waiting for.

    Tier 5 is absolute chaos. It's Week 2 in the year 2023 and we're discussing Allen Robinson as a player who may lead his team in targets.

    Last week's usage makes Robinson and Calvin Austin feel like better plays than Pickens. I'm not sure if Robinson has the juice or if Austin has the size to beat man coverage at this point. I'm cautiously optimistic about Austin. He's got speed to burn and had no problem with man coverage at the collegiate level.

    Group 3: I'd really rather avoid them

    Tier 1 -- Terry McLaurin
    Tier 2 -- JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Lazard, Van Jefferson, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Adam Thielen
    Tier 3 -- Rashod Bateman, Marvin Mims, Quentin Johnston, Rondale Moore, Jalin Hyatt

    I don't think that either McLaurin or Smith-Schuster are healthy.


    Group 1 -- Upside shots

    Tier 1 -- George Kittle, Evan Engram
    Tier 2 -- Kyle Pitts, Sam LaPorta, Luke Musgrave
    Tier 3 -- Jake Ferguson, Chigoziem Okonkwo, Gerald Everett, Kylen Granson

    Group 2 -- I'm just looking for eight points, honestly

    Tier 1 -- Zach Ertz
    Tier 2 -- David Njoku, Tyler Higbee, Dalton Schultz, Dalton Kincaid
    Tier 3 -- Cole Kmet, Hunter Henry, Juwan Johnson

    Group 3 -- You can surely find a better option, right?

    Tier 1 -- Logan Thomas, Hayden Hurst, Durham Smythe, Dawson Knox, Cade Otton
    Tier 2 -- Irv Smith Jr., Mike Gesicki
    Tier 3 -- Noah Fant, Taysom Hill

    Good luck with your lineup decisions this week! Be sure to hit me up on Twitter during one of the Q&A's or Live Streams, when I set aside time for lineup questions!

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    Jacob GibbsDFS Guru

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