Week 1 is always an emotional roller coaster. Everyone is excited to have football back, but limited preseason play often makes for a sloppy first weekend of the regular season. That often breeds some unpredictable performances. Last week, though, in my Love/Hate article debut, I believe I was spot on, for the most part, especially with those on the hate list. Now, with a one-week sample size, in addition to months of off-season research, I feel that much more prepared to bring you a list of players that I love and hate putting in starting lineups for Week 2. My picks will only become clearer to choose as more games are played and data is collected.
Fantasy football managers should be on notice when it comes to deciding to plug said players in their lineup each week. Sometimes you don’t have a choice as options on your roster become scarce. If you do have options, though, I believe what I have to say about these players that I love and hate will help put you in a position to win your week.
Players I Love and Hate in Week 2 of the 2022 Season
Love: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders 2022 home opener in Week 2 welcomes the Arizona Cardinals to town. In Week 1, Arizona allowed 44 points to the Kansas City Chiefs, the most of any defense across the league. Patrick Mahomes diced up the defense tossing five touchdown passes. That’s five touchdown passes on the road and without Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs’ roster.
Now, Derek Carr gets home-field advantage against the very same Cardinals defense. Additionally, his connection is already so strong with offseason acquisition, Davante Adams, who is also his former college teammate. Adam’s 17 targets leads the entire league after one week.
The fact of the matter is that the Cardinals’ defense is nowhere near as threatening as the Los Angeles Chargers, who intercepted Carr three times last week in addition to sacking him five times. His 37 pass attempts last week was tied for 10th amongst quarterbacks. I expect him to keep up the passing volume and show out in front of the Vegas crowd in Week 2. I love starting Carr if you need a streaming option. He’s a good bet to finish inside the top 10.
Some Extra Love:
Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Russell Wilson are all 0-1 this season. They have a combined two passing touchdowns between the three of them. Wilson’s 17.80 points are at least somewhat respectable as Stafford (10.8) and Rodgers (4.7) fail to crack the top 25 in points for Week 1. The good news? All three have home matchups this week and are double-digit point favorites. Fire them up with confidence. They’re going to earn our trust back.
Hate: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not one for betting against Tom Brady. History is unkind to those who do. However, history will also show that Brady is 0-4 against the New Orleans Saints in four regular season games as a Buccaneer. He did get the best of them when it counted the most during the 2020-21 playoffs but they seem to have his number otherwise. That’s why I find it easy to hate starting him this week.
Brady enters Week 2 with Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Russell Gage as his top-three pass catchers. Evans figures to see shadow coverage from Saints cornerback, Marshon Lattimore. If you’re unfamiliar with their one-on-one matchup history, Lattimore typically owns Evans:
Mike Evans in 10 career matchups against Marshon Lattimore:
1-14-0 (injured after just 17 snaps)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 14, 2022
The Saints notoriously stout run defense let 31-year-old, Cordarelle Patterson rush 22 times for 120 yards and a score last week. That leads me to believe Leonard Fournette could have a big game in Week 2. Odds are, you’re starting Brady. I just think, if you do, you’re hoping for three or more touchdowns, specifically in the red zone, to help boost his numbers. He has six total passing touchdowns in five matchups with this team as a Buc. On two occasions, he threw zero touchdowns. My belief is that the Buccaneers lean on the run game and their defense in this one.
Love: Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
It’s important that I mention both notable New England backs here because I love the idea of starting both of them in Week 2 fantasy football lineups. New England’s first half of Week 1 was forgettable. Two turnovers and two punts later, they found themselves down 17-0 at halftime. In their first drive of the second half, New England ran 15 plays, nine of which were opportunities on the ground and through the air for either Harris or Stevenson. However, it was running back, Ty Montgomery, who caught a short pass in the flat for a touchdown. Montgomery is now on the Injured Reserve as of earlier this week.
Harris, Stevenson, and the Pats face off on the road again against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2. The Steelers will be without 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt, as he recovers from a pectoral injury. Pittsburgh’s defense allowed Joe Mixon to rush 27 times for 82 yards in Week 1. Mixon also added seven receptions on nine targets for an additional 53 yards.
With Mac Jones dealing with back spasms, I think New England goes back to basics and leans on the run. I love Harris and Stevenson to both see double-digit opportunities, in the form of carries and targets, with each finding the end zone in this one. Fantasy football managers should expect both to score north of 10.0 PPR points quite easily, something they failed to do last week.
Some Extra Love:
If you’re hoping for Cam Akers to turn things around in Week 2, you may see it. However, it will be Darrell Henderson who opens the door for Akers once the Los Angeles Rams have a comfortable lead against the Atlanta Falcons. Akers, after a three-carry effort for zero yards last week, should not be in starting lineups, in my opinion. Henderson is the guy in L.A. and should be, instead. I love his chances to rack up 100 rushing yards in this one. Once he does, Akers could get some run when the lead increases.
Hate: Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
It’s a Monday Night Football prime-time game for Dalvin Cook. I think fantasy football managers relying on him to win them their matchups might hate the outcome. Cook is an obvious start simply based on where you drafted him. However, in a reformed offense, run by former Rams offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell, I’m worried about Cook’s weekly ceiling.
First of all, there is no denying that Cook is one of the best running backs in the league. For fantasy football purposes, his 20 carries and five targets in Week 1 are exactly what we want to see. That usage, though, is perhaps a result of a commanding lead over the Packers for the majority of the afternoon. I’m not so sure the Philadelphia Eagles lie down so easily in their home opener this Monday.
While Cook’s usage is encouraging out of the gate, five of his 20 carries occurred in the final three or so minutes to put an out-of-reach game on ice. What concerns me the most is his lack of opportunities to score. When inside the 10-yard line, the Vikings ran five plays, four of which were passes. Cook will see the bulk of the work out of this backfield, but I think his ceiling is capped by a decrease in pass-catching, especially when in close. Don’t hate me too much for this one. I’m just letting you know how Kevin O’Connell is running this offense.
Love: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
I’m not panicking just yet on Mike Williams. With Keenan Allen out this week, I love starting Williams everywhere that I have him. He is my top candidate for the biggest bounce back from Week 1 to Week 2 and should do so in front of a national audience on Thursday Night Football.
The Chargers are heading to Kansas City in a highly anticipated divisional matchup. Unfortunately though, the Chiefs are down first-round pick, Trent McDuffie, at cornerback, following a Week 1 hamstring injury. That, plus Justin Herbert at quarterback, as well as Williams’ own size and ability, make it easy to show love his way ahead of Week 2.
His 93% of offensive snaps were the most of any other skill player on the Chargers last week. This matchup with the Chiefs is going to be another AFC West shootout for Los Angeles. Given that they are four-point underdogs, I highly anticipate Williams as a focal point to their offense to kick off Week 2.
Some Extra Love:
Darnell Mooney heads to Lambeau Field on Sunday Night to face the Green Bay Packers. I do like the Packers secondary, but it’s hard to argue for them after getting scorched by Justin Jefferson for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Mooney is Chicago’s top receiving option. In a game they are not expected to win by any means, Mooney may cash in for fantasy football managers, especially in junk time for the Bears. He is another bounce-back candidate from Week 1.
Hate: Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens
This is a big deal for me to have to hate starting Rashod Bateman after beating the drum for him all offseason. His Week 1 performance was saved by a 55-yard touchdown bomb from Lamar Jackson. It was just Bateman’s second and final catch of the day. It could be another low-volume performance for the second-year receiver in Week 2.
Bateman figures to see most of Dolphins’ start cornerback, Xavien Howard’s, attention. Against the Patriots, Howard forced an end zone interception while holding DeVante Parker to just one catch. His talent and experience may be too much for Bateman in just the second game of the season. As a result, Mark Andrews should feast in this one. I’m still very high on Bateman for the 2022 fantasy football season. I just think if you have other options at wide receiver, putting him on the bench this week isn’t the worst idea.
Love: Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
I love Dalton Schultz this week in spite of the recent thumb injury holding Dak Prescott out for the next few weeks. Schultz and the Cowboys host the Cincinnati Bengals who just allowed second-year tight end, Pat Freiermuth, to catch five of his 10 targets for 75 yards. They allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (12.5) to tight ends and the most to a tight end who didn’t score a touchdown.
With Cooper Rush at quarterback, Schultz figures to be an important piece of the Cowboys offense. Rush hastily stepped in for Prescott toward the end of an unwinnable game. With just 12 total passes late in the game from Rush, Schultz caught two of them for 18 yards. Especially given his position, I think Rush could look Schultz’s way more often, especially for short and intermediate pass attempts. I know Dak’s absence is stressful, but Schultz is one of a few Cowboys that are still worth starting.
Hate: The Seattle Seahawks Tight Ends
I’m saying tight ends here. That’s plural. Both Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson find themselves in the top-eight at the position with 13.3 and 12.3 points from Week 1, respectively. However, figuring out which one to start is a guessing game not worth playing. This unit is also playing the San Francisco 49ers. Albeit in monsoon-like conditions, the 49ers did not allow Chicago Bears tight end, Cole Kmet, to record a single catch. In fact, he saw fewer targets than many of his teammates that have no business seeing as many as they did. Fade the Seahawks tight ends this week. I hate that I even have to say it and doubt anyone really even considered starting them.