NFL fantasy: Week 2 Start ‘em, sit ‘em defense & special teams

There are a lot of solid D/ST plays this week. But who will be the duds and surprise studs in Week 2?​

NFL fantasy defenses came out on fire last week, scoring as many touchdowns as the tight ends scored (eight). Nine teams accumulated double-digit fantasy points, even though several you might expect to be included on that list faltered. The Rams and Jaguars tied for the third best point total overall in week one with 28 each. 

But… there were just as many mediocre or poor performances. Which teams are likely to be on which side of the ledger in Week 2? Here are a few thoughts about who to start or sit. 

START THESE GUYS: Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Miami) 

The Chargers ranked as a D/ST-12 after one week of play. They got some pressure on Denver’s quarterback and two turnovers. Against Miami, they face Jay Cutler who is still getting familiar with his new teammates. That won’t stop him from taking chances that the young Trevor Siemian is coached not to take. 

The effect of an extended layoff and disrupted schedule for Miami due to Hurricane Irma could work in the Chargers’ favor, too. Expect a few turnovers and sacks in a sloppy game for the Miami offense. 

SIT THESE GUYS: Green Bay Packers (at Atlanta)

There is a lot of talk about the Packer defense after they held the Seattle offense without a touchdown. There is just as much talk about the Atlanta offense after the Chicago Bears almost pulled off the upset in Week 1. 

Everything will correct itself in Week 2. Seattle did not have a Devonta Freeman. Heck, they didn’t even have a Tevin Coleman. Julio Jones will be among a flock of Falcons who score in what could be the type of shootout that pushes both these teams out of any “improved-defenses” conversations for a while.

START THESE GUYS: Cleveland Browns (at Baltimore)

Baltimore features a quarterback they worry will break with every hit. Joe Flacco only passed 17 times as the Ravens ran out the clock while their defense mauled Cincinnati. They will want to run the ball again this week as they imagine Cleveland’s offense won’t be much more of a challenge than the Bengals were. But Baltimore doesn’t exactly have a Le’Veon Bell. 

Oh! And Cleveland’s defense held Bell to 47 total yards while allowing only two touchdowns to the vaunted Steelers’ offense. (A blocked punt provided Pittsburgh’s third score.) The Browns recorded six passes defended and several tackles for loss. Expect Cleveland’s improved defense to hold up well to the Ravens’ limited offense in a potential punting contest. 

SIT THESE GUYS: Houston Texans (at Cincinnati) 

Cincinnati came out of the preseason widely regarded as an offense to watch. New weapons and stars returning from injury were supposed to make Andy Dalton a top-five NFL fantasy quarterback again. We are still waiting to see that offense because it didn’t show up for Week 1’s game against Baltimore.

Houston could provide the fix. Just four days after allowing Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory to rush for 142 yards and failing to record a sack or turnover despite the Jaguars suspect offensive line, the Texans will face an embarrassed and determined Bengals offense.

The Texans will play without inside linebacker Brian Cushing, who is in the concussion protocol. JJ Watt will play with a badly broken finger. Whether the Texans’ defense can get it together in a short week is less likely than the Bengals getting their offense on track.  I would not take a chance on Houston either way. 

START THESE GUYS: Tennessee Titans (at Jacksonville) 

Jacksonville is this week’s hurricane team. They are coming off a solid victory against last week’s hurricane team, the Houston Texans. The Jaguars largely rode Leonard Fournette on offense. The rookie gained 124 yards on 29 touches, while Chris Ivory tacked on 53 more yards on ten touches. Houston could not come up with stops or turnovers as the Jaguar’s maligned offensive line held it together. 

Tennessee will not allow Jacksonville to be one dimensional. Their front seven is strong enough to make stops and force the Jaguars to pass. The bad news is that the Titans defensive backfield did not look as good as advertised last week. The good news is that Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee are not the Oakland Raiders. Jacksonville and Fournette come down to earth this week against the Titans D/ST. 

SIT THESE GUYS: Dallas Cowboys (at Denver) 

Even without Odell Beckham Jr in the lineup, what the Cowboys’ defense did to the Giants this week earned them some attention. Eli Manning’s detractors will increase their calls for his retirement when young Trevor Siemian looks like YA Tittle in comparison this Sunday. 

Dallas will have to face a quarterback who has an offensive line in front of him, receivers who get open beyond the line of scrimmage, and a running game. Dallas’ eight-ranked D/ST played well, but they did not fix all their issues last week as much as they played a team unable to take advantage of them. Throw in the loss of cornerback Orlando Scandrick and week two has the makings of a long day for the Dallas defense. 

Obvious plays we shouldn’t have to mention

Arizona (vs. Indianapolis) and the Raiders (vs. the Jets) are must starts due to their competition. Baltimore (against Cleveland) and Seattle (vs San Francisco) are, too. 

Tampa Bay (against Chicago) and Cincinnati (against Houston and rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson) are strong considerations. 

It’s reasonable to expect the Rams to have a good day against Washington. I also expect the Panthers to contain Buffalo. 

Week 2 flash-in-the-pan prediction

Indianapolis makes Arizona feel even older, grabbing four turnovers and a special-teams score in a particularly ugly first game without David Johnson.

Which D/ST are you starting this week? Let us know in the comments below!

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