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Sunday Scaries: Week 2

Week 1 Update:

Kyler Murray+2 Vs. Lamar Jackson. Kyler needed that +2 to edge out Jackson, but I'll take the W.

Jalen Hurts Vs. Trey Lance +3 . Lance finished as QB27, while Hurts finished as QB4. +3 wasn't enough. Another W.

Saquon Barkley +5 vs. Derrick Henry. Barkley didn't need the +5. Instead, he finished as the RB1 overall, while Henry finished RB33. Took the L on this matchup.

Running Season Record: 2-1.

Week 2 Matchups:

Tom Brady Vs. Aaron Rodgers. Straight Up.

In Week 1, both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers finished with fewer than 11 fantasy points while also finishing outside the top-26 of Quarterbacks. Brady only threw for 212 yards against a hapless Dallas team, while Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception against an NFC North in nearly 400 attempts. Neither played in the preseason, and the rust showed in the first week of the 2022 season.

Upside seems hard to come by for Tom Brady. Brady faces a New Orleans team that just listed Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Jameis Winston as Questionable for Sunday. This may mean increased snaps at Quarterback/Running Back for Taysom Hill. Back in Week 15 of 2021, Taysom started at QB against the Bucs in which the Saints shut out Tampa Bay 9 -0, controlling possessions and pace of play. Brady finished 26/48-214-0 with an INT. However, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette all suffered injuries in the game. And yet, Tampa has its own injury concerns entering Week 2: Mike Evans is Questionable, Russell Gage was limited in Week 1 due to a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason, Chris Godwin won't play due to a hamstring injury. The healthiest Tampa Bay wide receiver, ironically, is Julio Jones. Jones, Evans, and Gage all have average or below-average matchups vs. New Orleans going into Sunday's games.

As for Aaron Rodgers, he owns the Bears. Now, whether that turns into fantasy goodness is a whole other conversation. It was obvious in Week 1 that Rodgers missed his trusted former WR1 in Davante Adams after Christian Watson dropped a sure-fire 80-yard TD throw on Green Bay's first possession. Coach LaFleur stated after the Week 1 shellacking from the Minnesota Vikings that he wanted to get Aaron Jones more involved after Jones only handled 5 carries and was targeted only 5 times-- I expect that to be true. Robert Tonyan should also handle more than a 35% snap share in Week 2 as he ramps up play following the torn ACL.

Final Pick: Aaron Rodgers. Call me a Packers homer. Rodgers continues to dominate the Bears in Week 2.

Justin Jefferson vs. AJ Brown +4 Points.

Both Jefferson and AJ Brown boomed Week 1. Jefferson finished as the WR1 overall with 34.9 fantasy points, while Brown scored 20.5 as the WR7 overall. Had Brown scored a TD, he'd be up at the WR2 overall for Week 1. Neither of these performances was fluky. Both WRs commanded double-digit targets as their quarterbacks seemed to attack their NFC North opponents.

Jefferson's 34.9 fantasy point score ranked in the 97th percentile among weekly scores in his career-- indicating that this score was most likely the highest ceiling outcome for Jefferson on the season. Jefferson's matchup is also a juicy one, as his PFF Matchup ADV rates as "Excellent" against all 3 of the Eagles corners: James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, and Darius Slay. Amon-Ra St. Brown caught 8 passes on 12 targets for 64 yards and a TD for Detroit Week 1 against these same Eagles defensive backs-- Jefferson is a clear multi-tier upgrade on St. Brown.

Concerns about whether AJ Brown would get the receiving volume necessary to achieve WR1 status were put to rest in Week 1 against Detroit where he commanded 13 Jalen Hurts targets-- the most times Hurts has ever targeted a wide receiver in an NFL game. The "Disney vacation" narrative showed out strong. AJ Brown's 20.5 fantasy point output, ranking as the WR7 in Week 1, wasn't as much of a "boom" for Brown relative to what he's done in the past. In fact, over the last three seasons, 20.5 fantasy points would only be a 76th percentile outcome, leaving room for higher ceiling performances later in the season. In fact, AJ Brown's 84th percentile outcome over the last 3 years ranks 6th, only behind Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Deebo Samuel, Tyreek Hill, and Tyler Lockett-- notice no Justin Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson is 14th among WRs over the last 3 seasons in 84th percentile weekly score. AJ Brown also has two "Excellent" Matchup advantages per PFF. And while Minnesota's defense did limit no Packers WR to exceed 37 receiving yards, they admittedly weren't put to the test as they will be with Brown.

Final Pick: AJ Brown +4. Brown booms harder than Jefferson, and in what may turn out to be another sneaky shoot-out, I'll take the points.

Travis Etienne Jr. Vs. Cam Akers +1.5 Points

Both Etienne and Akers were disappointing plays in Week 1 of 2022.

Akers only played 12 snaps, carrying the ball 3 times for zero yards. McVay said Akers "needs to maximize his opportunities when he gets into the game." It makes you wonder whether McVay's comments were intended to be motivational, or ironic, as Akers didn't have many opportunities to maximize Week 1. Instead, Darrell Henderson touched the ball 18 times for 73 yards. Akers, considered one of the budding star running backs before tearing his Achilles during the 2021 preseason, seems to have much work to do even after working his way back from the injury. Perhaps Akers gets more touches in Week 2.

Travis Etienne, whose 2021 season ended before it could start, received 6 touches in his NFL debut Week 1, accumulating 65 yards, but fumbled and dropped two passes, one of which would've been a walk-in TD. It could have been a massive day for Etienne. On the other hand, though, James Robinson handled 13 touches for 69 yards and scored 2 TDs in his own return from an Achilles injury. Robinson's majority touch share should be an early red flag for Etienne's upside moving forward.

Final Pick: Travis Etienne. Let's not get cute. Akers will need to show he's back. 1.5 points is just not enough juice to get me there.

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