Although it’s hard to gauge what will stick and what won’t when it comes to NFL performances after just two weeks, we can see some trends start to emerge that we as fantasy managers can take advantage of. In this article I’ll lay out three things to keep an eye on in the coming weeks that will give you that extra edge over your league mates when it comes to start/sit, trade and waiver decisions.
Ravens Pass Defense
In the first two weeks of the season, the ravens have given up over 54 passing attempts per game. Yes, you read that number right, 54! For reference, the average pass attempts per game across the league last year was 34.4. This is happening with the Ravens for a couple of reasons. For one, they haven’t been playing well in the secondary and teams are noticing that. They were the last ranked unit last year, a couple of guys are currently playing through injuries and John Harbaugh explicitly referred to the plays they were giving up in week one of this year as “below the line.” This problem should be extremely recognizable on film and I fully expect teams to continue to exploit that by passing as much as possible when they play Baltimore. Secondly, the Ravens have an excellent offense. The coaching, QB play and weapons all combine to form a team that is racking up yards and scoring a lot of points. The Ravens are likely going to be winning during the majority of their games this year, forcing their opponents to pass the ball. Now, I don’t expect this average of 54 passes to stay this high as it is quite ridiculous, however the Ravens should be near the top of pass attempts at least for the next few weeks. With potential volume like this, and lack of quality play in the secondary, I would be targeting this matchup for you WRs when considering bench decisions, trades and waivers.
49ers Run Defense
Another less surprising finding of the NFL season so far is that the 49ers run defense is pretty darn good. They picked up right where they left off last year (allowing the 7th least rush yards and 6th worst YPC across the whole season) and held the Bears backfield duo to a measly 71 yards and 2.7 YPC and the Seahawks backfield trio to an even worse 34 yards and 2.8 YPC. Now, granted, the Seahawks don’t have the most elite backfield in the league and the conditions for the Bears game were horrific, however these types of performances are exactly what you’d expect to see from a team with a front seven consisting of Javon Kinlaw, Samson Ebukam, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dre Greenlaw, Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair. I expect the Niners to continue shutting down opposing run games for the foreseeable future, which should mean that you look to avoid playing running backs (who aren’t workhorses or who don’t catch passes) against them each week. You’re going to be starting Javonte Williams and McCaffrey regardless of the matchup but I’d be wary of the Rams backs, Edwards-Helaire and Patterson in their matchup(s) with the Niners in the coming weeks.
It is now two straight weeks that the Commanders have given up 12 targets and 116 yards to an opposing team's WR1. Without full game film, it’s hard to tell whether Kendall Fuller is shadowing this year or Washington’s opponent’s top receiver is seeing some of Fuller, William Jackson and others, however regardless, that receiver is going off. Christian Kirk and Amon-Ra St. Brown are no slouches, but they also aren’t on the level of all-pro WRs such as Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson either. Despite that, they’ve combined for 57.1 point fantasy points against Washington which translates to over 28 points per game. So far, WR1s have been feasting against this Commander’s secondary and it’s a specific matchup I’d be looking to target until the Washington corners prove otherwise. AJ Brown and CeeDee Lamb should be smash starts in the coming weeks and maybe Darnell Mooney and Allen Lazard can have one of their first big games of the season against Washington before week eight as well.