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Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: How to set your fantasy lineups for Week 2 – SI.com

It’s time for our weekly stroll across the league, looking at all the start and sit possibilities for every fantasy-relevant player in all 16 games on the Week 2 slate. Remember, we’ve added a new category this season to account for the nuances of each individual league, highlighting conditional starters along with must-starts and must-sits for each game. Your deployment of the conditional start players will depend on your roster and league parameters. Use those in conjunction with our weekly rankings to build your best possible lineup.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Must start: C.J. Anderson (toe, ankle), Jamaal Charles, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Maclin (back), Travis Kelce, Broncos DST

The last thing the Broncos’ offense needed was a short-week assignment against a defense like Kansas City’s, but that’s exactly what it will get. Despite last week’s struggles, you want Thomas and Sanders on the field. Anderson is also a go if he can play through ankle and toe injuries, but don’t expect him to be more than an RB2. Maclin owners should roll with him if he can shake off his back injury to start Thursday night. He was going pretty well last week before the injury slowed him down. Kelce and Charles, meanwhile, look like potential top-three players at their respective positions.

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Conditional start: Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, Ronnie Hillman, Chiefs DST

It took just one week for us to reach a point many thought was not possible: Manning is not a slam-dunk fantasy starter this week. Combine the way he looked in the Broncos’ win over the Ravens with the short week and the Chiefs’ defense, and it’s possible that he finishes outside the top 12 at the position. He’s actually my No. 14 quarterback this week. Hillman could be an intriguing play if Anderson is out, but I wouldn’t think of him as more than a flex play in a deep league. I’ll put my words where my money already is and let you know that I’m starting the Chiefs’ defense in two leagues. Short weeks almost always favor the defense, especially one as good as Kansas City’s. A matchup with a Manning-led team may not be as scary as it used to be.

Sit: Knile Davis, Owen Daniels, Albert Wilson

Until we see more from Manning, Daniels cannot be thought of as a fantasy starter, especially given the depth at the tight end position. Wilson could have some value in deep leagues if Maclin is out for a while, but he’s not yet worth a roster spot.

Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers

Must start: Jonathan Stewart, DeAndre Hopkins, Greg Olsen, Texans DST, Panthers DST

Welcome to the WR1 class, Mr. Hopkins. The third-year receiver out of Clemson checked every box in Week 1. He had plenty of opportunities, getting 13 balls thrown his way. He was efficient with his chances, catching nine of them for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He got targets of both the red-zone and deep varieties. Hopkins is my bet to lead the NFL in targets this year and could end up a top-five receiver. Stewart remains an RB2 this week, but the low ceiling of the Carolina offense could keep him slowed against the Texans. Teams are going to force Cam Newton to beat them with his arm. If you’re a Greg Olsen owner, forget about the no-show last week.

Conditional start: Alfred Blue

With Houston trailing Kansas City by multiple scores for nearly their entire game last week, the game flow got away from Blue early. He looked decent on his nine carries, gaining 42 yards, but he’s still a low-value running back in what should be a tough matchup with the Panthers this week. Ryan Mallett should help, but Blue is no more than a low-end flex play.

Sit: Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Philly Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn, Devin Fuchess, Cecil Shorts, Nate Washington

Mallett’s ascension is good news for every skill player in Houston, but he’s not yet on the fantasy radar, beyond being a low-end play in two-quarterback leagues, and even that would be based largely on matchup. There’s no doubt that he has a big arm, but you should want to see a little more on-field proof from him before trotting him out as a starter in any format. This may seem a bit harsh for Newton, but the reality is that there just isn’t a lot of value in the Carolina passing game. He threw for just 175 yards, 5.65 yards per attempt and one touchdown against one interception last week. His value depends on what he does as a runner, and Ron Rivera wants him to do less of that. He’s no more than a low-end QB2.

JACOBS: 49ers left tackle Joe Staley on Tomsula, Hyde, black uniforms

San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Must start: Ben Roethlisberger, Carlos Hyde, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown

This game will feature two of Week 1’s heroes, most notably Hyde, who looked every bit the RB1 in the 49ers’ win over the Vikings on Monday Night Football. In all likelihood, this will be an easier assignment for the burgeoning star out of Ohio State. Brown is now working on a 34-game streak with at least five catches for at least 50 yards. He doesn’t have the weekly ceiling that, say, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. feature, but no elite fantasy player is as consistent as Roethlisberger’s No. 1 target. Speaking of Roethlisberger, he scraped together a useful fantasy game last week, and while the 49ers’ defense looked much better than expected in Week 1, he remains a top-five quarterback for me. Just wait until he gets Le’Veon Bell back next week. Finally, Williams has one more week of fantasy relevance before getting brushed to the side. He’s a low-end RB2.

Conditional start: Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Markus Wheaton, Vernon Davis, Heath Miller

There is a little bit of concern for the 49ers traveling east to play a game that will begin at 10 a.m. in their home time zone. That has to push down everyone on this offense just a little. Kaepernick didn’t do much against the Vikings, taking a back seat to Hyde and throwing for just 165 yards. He did add 41 yards on the ground, however, and that’s the equivalent of a passing touchdown in standard-scoring leagues. He and Hyde are going to be great for one another all year. I’d have to be in a very deep league before considering Smith or Wheaton as a starter at receiver or flex. Neither may get very many opportunities to make plays this week. Davis is a borderline TE1, but after what we saw from the position last week, chances are you can do better. If you were down at the position, hopefully you were able to scoop someone like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jordan Reed, Ladarius Green or Eric Ebron.

Sit: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, 49ers DST, Steelers DST

Heyward-Bey made a few plays down the field last week, and it appears that he could fill that field-stretching role in the offense until Martavis Bryant returns from his suspension. The Niners DST is back on our minds, but you don’t want to start it against an offense like Pittsburgh’s.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Must start: Drew Brees, Doug Martin, Mark Ingram, Mike Evans (hamstring), Vincent Jackson, Brandin Cooks, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Remember that defense that gave up four touchdowns to Marcus Mariota in his first career game? That same defense gets Brees this week. Not only does that make him and Cooks potential matchup-changers this week, it also gives some juice to a few more players we’ll discuss in the next section. Evans owners should pay close attention to his practice participation this week. If he’s able to make his season debut, chances are you’re starting him. Even at 80%, he’s going to be one of the better players on your roster. He may not be more than a WR2 in those circumstances, however. His return would be bad for the fantasy value of both Jackson and Seferian-Jenkins, though not bad enough to push either to the fantasy bench. Seferian-Jenkins, in particular, looks like regular fantasy starter in all formats. This game sets up nicely for both starting backs, though Ingram’s value could take a slight hit if C.J. Spiller can return from his knee injury.

Conditional start: Jameis Winston, C.J. Spiller (knee), Brandon Coleman, Marques Colston, Saints DST

As poorly as Winston played last week, there’s an argument for getting him active in two-QB leagues on Sunday. That argument is neatly summarized by Carson Palmer’s performance against the Saints in Week 1. Winston may not be anywhere near the same league as Palmer, but this Saints defense can be exploited, especially against the pass. Winston can take advantage, especially if a mostly healthy Evans returns. Ingram and Khiry Robinson combined for 13 receptions for 149 yards last week. Spiller is going to be a significant weapon in this offense when healthy. If he plays this week, he’s a solid flex option. Depending on league depth, Coleman and Colston are potential WR3s in what should be a great matchup. The 6’6” Coleman has the size and skill set to develop into Brees’s go-to receiver in the red zone. He’s my No. 36 receiver for Week 2.

Sit: Charles Sims, Khiry Robinson, Louis Murphy, Ben Watson, Josh Hill, Buccaneers DST

Sims had five carries for 12 yards last week. Hill didn’t get a target. We can all stop talking about them, right?

The MMQB editor-in-chief Peter King breaks down how offensive line play impacted Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston in Week 1 and what we learned about the rookie QBs in their debuts.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Must start: Ameer Abdullah, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate

The Abdullah Hype Train is now running at full speed after the rookie out of Nebraska totaled 94 yards and a touchdown on just 11 touches last week. There’s no way you can sit him against the Vikings, especially considering what Carlos Hyde did to them last week. If you’re an owner of any of the other three players listed above, just forget about what happened last week. Peterson never got a chance to get rolling, which was partly self-inflicted by the Vikings’ play-calling. Expect them to change that this week. Meanwhile, the Chargers did a great job on Johnson and Tate with an ingenious bit of defensive scheming. No. 1 corner Jason Verrett spent his entire day covering Tate, not Johnson, mostly in man coverage, shutting him down all by his lonesome. That freed up the defense to apply safety help to Johnson on every play, with No. 2 corner Brandon Flowers in coverage. Not every team is equipped to do that.

Conditional start: Matthew Stafford (elbow), Teddy Bridgewater, Charles Johnson, Mike Wallace, Eric Ebron, Vikings DST

Stafford will almost certainly play on Sunday, but his throwing elbow isn’t quite 100%. It was in a wrap for most of the second half after a crushing blow from Melvin Ingram and could be an issue for him this week. If you have another suitable, similarly ranked option—think Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton or Sam Bradford—go in that direction. Bridgewater is going to be fine, despite his flop against the 49ers on Monday. Both he and Johnson are way undervalued right now. I still have Johnson at WR26 this week. Remember, Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson torched Detroit for 21 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown last week. Ebron is a borderline TE1, and likely will be most weeks this season. I’d play him over Zach Ertz and Heath Miller.

Sit: Joique Bell, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Kyle Rudolph, Lions DST

The story here is Bell, who sure looked like a real-life backup last week. He got just eight touches, accumulating a total of 41 yards. The story is even more troubling if you look at just his rushing output, as he ran for 14 yards on six carries. Bell is no more than a low-end flex play in deep leagues.

• Fantasy Football Week 2 Risers and Sliders: Eifert, Gordon and more

Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears

Must start: Carson Palmer, Matt Forte, John Brown, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Cardinals DST

Palmer was one of the most impressive quarterbacks of Week 1, facing a defense no better or worse than the one he will see in Chicago on Sunday. He can likely approach the 307 yards, 9.59 YPA he put up against the Saints when he takes on the Bears in Week 2. That’ll mean good things for John Brown, who just might raid this secondary. Forte owners had to be giddy seeing the star back get 24 carries last week. He’s the focal point of this offense, as he should be. Jeffery didn’t have a huge game, but he was able to play through a calf injury that should be one week better at this point. He and Bennett are both top-tier plays at their respective positions in a game in which the Bears could very well be playing from behind.

Conditional start: Jay Cutler, David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington (knee), Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd (hand), Eddie Royal

Pay close attention to the Arizona backfield, both in practice this week and in the game on Sunday. Ellington is dealing with a knee sprain, but he may be able to give it a go against the Bears. If he can’t, the workload split between David Johnson and Chris Johnson will be the story of the game on Arizona’s side, at least from a fantasy standpoint. There’s a lot of hype surrounding the rookie out of Northern Iowa right now, as there should be given his size, speed and skill set. If he can carve out a role that nets him double-digit touches every game, he could be a weekly flex play. Cutler can be started in two-quarterback leagues but should be on the bench in traditional one-QB formats. Fitzgerald had six catches on eight targets for 87 yards last week. He’s my No. 30 receiver, but I wouldn’t think it’s crazy if someone had him six or seven spots higher.

Sit: Jacquizz Rodgers, Marquess Wilson, Darren Fells, Bears DST

Fells may have had 82 yards and a touchdown last week, but he’s still not on the fantasy radar. The other three in this group never will be.

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