While football fans are grateful for the NFL’s return, it wasn’t the Week 1 most hoped for. The vast majority of offenses across the league struggled due to some combination of sloppiness, bad weather, and first-game jitters. Naturally, fantasy managers were shocked at the big names putting up minuscule stat lines.
Poor starts to the season are nothing new; the first week of the year is often referred to as an “extra week of preseason” for a reason. Brighter days are ahead for your fantasy rosters; don’t lose faith in these three stars heading into Week 2.
Week 2 Fantasy Football Bounceback Candidates
TE Darren Waller, New York Giants
The Giants played some of the worst football ever seen last Sunday, getting demolished 40-0 at home against Dallas. While it was disheartening to watch New York’s offense get repeatedly destroyed, Darren Waller did lead Big Blue in catches (three), yards (36), and targets (five). Even with no time to throw, Daniel Jones repeatedly looked for his tight end down the field.
An eight-point fantasy total wasn’t what anyone was hoping for from Waller, but considering most starters were pulled by the fourth quarter, this was never going to be a big night for anyone. A much softer matchup against the Cardinals awaits, and Waller’s role as the top receiving option should lead the way for a solid Sunday.
WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
While Higgins notching a grand total of zero catches might garner concern at first glance, context matters. The entire Bengals’ offense was useless last Sunday, mustering only three points on a rain-soaked day in Cleveland. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for just 81 yards, making a productive day for either Higgins or Ja’Marr Chase impossible.
The best sign for Higgins’ viability going forward is the eight targets thrown his way, second on the team behind Chase (nine). It’s been eight years since a player failed to garner a catch with that many opportunities, but that speaks more to Burrow’s poor performance. Cincinnati has started slow before, and this should be no different. Higgins, last year’s PPR WR16 in points per game, has a track record of success even as a secondary option; he should have no trouble rebounding in Week 2.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions
After months of anticipation, fantasy managers felt betrayed by Jahmyr Gibbs’ usage against the Chiefs. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson had promised that Gibbs would be utilized in unexpected ways, fueling dreams of a future PPR monster splitting time between the slot and the backfield. That wasn’t the case Thursday night; Gibbs handled nine touches for a total of 60 yards, while David Montgomery handled the majority of carries (21) and red zone work.
Most rookies can be drafted with patience, but Gibbs’ draft stock (12th overall pick) and comments like Johnson’s created unrealistic expectations out of the gate. That doesn’t mean the coaching staff doesn’t have bigger plans in store. Gibbs was more effective than Montgomery, whom Detroit seems to view as more of a workhorse than a weapon. Head coach Dan Campbell said that the Lions didn’t want to overwork their young back in his first game.
“They’ve got that one under their belt,” Campbell said Friday, “…so for Gibbs, he’ll begin to get more touches now…That was just the beginning last night.” If what Campbell said is true, the days of Gibbs handling single-digit touches will feel like a thing of the past by next week. Start him with confidence going into a good matchup against the Seahawks.