We are almost through Week 2 of the NFL season. Tonight we get blessed with a doubleheader: Saints/Panthers and Browns/Steelers. I don’t expect either to be particularly interesting games, but who are we kiddin’? Football is football.
Every week, we’ll preview the Monday Night Football matchup and make sure you get all the information you need to know to perfect your starts/sits, prop bets, and DFS lineups. Let’s get into it!
MNF Preview: Saints vs. Panthers & Browns vs. Steelers
What You Need To Know:
Weather Will Be a Non-Factor
We’re looking at about 65 degrees with wind at 5 MPH for kickoff in Carolina. Not exactly the frozen tundra. The Steelers will have almost the exact same weather. The weather shouldn’t have any relevance from a fantasy perspective in either game.
Expect Underperformance In the Running Game for NO/CAR and CLE/PIT
PFF has the offensive line of both the Saints and the Panthers at -25% and -21% disadvantage, to their respective defensive line matchups in the run game. That is in the bottom third of this week’s matchups. That means both Jonathan Williams and Miles Sanders would be in the “Sit” column for me tonight. I view Jonathan Williams at peak value when we can expect lots of red zone visits because he’s usually money to punch it into the endzone. The Saints offense isn’t there yet. As for Miles Sanders, he had 4 yards per carry last week, but that’s not happening tonight. He’ll get his carries because a rookie QB can’t have a one-dimensional gameplan, but I expect sub-50 yards rushing tonight for Sanders.
PFF has the offensive line of both the Browns and the Steelers at -13% and -6% disadvantage, to their respective defensive line matchups in the run game. However, both teams have their best players at the running back position. Nick Chubb is coming off of 18 carries for 100+ rushing yards, and while he’s not in the best matchup to repeat that, Chubb is pretty much matchup-proof as one of the game’s elite running backs. If he’s on your roster you start him. Najee Harris has the best matchup of all four teams, relatively speaking, at least. He’s coming off of 6 carries for 31 yards, but I expect him to get 15+ carries in this one. I might even sprinkle in a few Jaylen Warren lineups in DFS. The Steelers will need to establish the run.
On the Panthers, well…let’s just say Bryce Young is going to be in for a night to forget. I expect the running game to be non-existent, which leads to plenty of third and outs, and third and long situations. That said, PFF ranks each of Carolina’s top three targets at “Below Average” or “Poor” on the WR/CB matchups. If you have to choose, Paulson Adebo is the corner to target, and Adam Thielen will have the most snaps with Adebo covering him. DJ Chark is next after him. Hayden Hurst, the team’s top tight end leads the team in receiving with 41 yards. So…yeah.
As for the Saints, PFF rated Chris Olave with an “Average” matchup, while both Mike Thomas and Rasheed Shaheed were rated “Good” matchups. You can safely start any of these three players in both fantasy football matchups and/or DFS lineups. Derek Carr will have to lean on the passing game in this one to pull away, and he’s had success with all three players after Week 1. Olave leads receivers with 112 yards on the year, but Shaheed is a dangerous deep threat, and Mike Thomas is a possession receiver/former All-Pro. You can’t go wrong with any of them in this matchup.
PFF ranks Amari Cooper as the only Browns receiver with and “Average” or better matchup. Deshaun Watson has yet to regain his form as an elite passer in this league, and Elijah Moore leads the team in receiving with 3 catches and 43 yards. I expect this game to be mainly a rushing battle so you can avoid the Browns receivers again.
As for the Steelers, George Pickens leads the Steelers receiver with a “Below Average” matchup. Both Robinson and Austin have “Poor” matchups. Robinson leads the team with 64 yards, but both Pickens and Austin are speed demons with great hands and homerun ability. I’d pass on starting any of the three, but Pickens and Austin are interesting to me in DFS. Especially Austin as there isn’t much tape on him as he’s making his 1st start, and I could see him used all over the field (slot, outside, punt returner, etc.).
Avoid TE Options If You Can
The TE position isn’t much to drool over tonight. Hayden Hurst leads the Panthers in receiving yards after Week 1. With 41 yards. He has a rookie QB and provides a big target/safety blanket for Young, but he’s not going to do anything special for you in fantasy or DFS. As for the Saints, Juwan Johnson/Taysom Hill/Jimmy Graham is a three-headed tight end monster that scares absolutely no one. At least from a fantasy perspective. Johnson is the TE1 and hasn’t made that connection with Carr yet, and Hill and Graham have also yet to make an impact. Look elsewhere.
As for the Browns and Steelers, Njoku is only a threat in an offense that can throw the ball. The Browns have yet to demonstrate the desire or ability to do that. The same goes for the Steelers and Pat Freiermuth. You’re better off on the waiver wire if you have to start either of them.
Saints Win by Multiple Scores; Browns Win Close, Low-Scoring Game
DFS Selection Pool:
Saints Defense, Derek Carr, Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, Mike Thomas, Hayden Hurst, Nick Chubb, Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Calvin Austin, George Pickens, and Kenny Pickett
Prop Bets: Saints Receiving Total OVERs and NO/CAR Rushing Total UNDERs; CLE/PIT Rushing Total OVERs and Calvin Austin OVERs