Fantasy football analyst Sal Vetri will use this space to deliver his keys to victory every week of the 2023 NFL season.
Finding No. 1: The best RB spot of the week belongs to Isiah Pacheco
Isiah Pacheco, who is expected to play amid a hamstring injury, finds himself in an ideal spot. The Chiefs are 12.5-point favorites against the Bears in Week 3. Kansas City has the highest team total on the slate at 31 points. Starting running backs in similar spots average over 16 fantasy points.
In Week 2, Pacheco saw his role quietly improve. He earned 63% of the Chiefs’ rush attempts, a 16% increase from Week 1 and he produced 5.3 yards per touch. Expect over 13 fantasy points from Pacheco on Sunday.
Finding No. 2: Kyren Williams is trending up
Kyren Williams is a second-year player out of Notre Dame. He fell in the 2022 draft due to a poor 40-time and lack of burst. He was expected to play right away as a rookie in 2022 but a preseason foot fracture held him back.
Now in 2023, Williams is a top-20 RB the rest of the season. He’s currently second in points scored through two weeks with 42.4. In Week 2, without Cam Akers, Williams played an insane 97% of the snaps and handled 78% of the carries.
This led to 24 opportunities, 10 targets and 25 fantasy points. Williams is also an elite pass-protector and pass-catcher. This skill set will keep him on the field in all situations.
Finding No. 3: The Pick Up & Play is Jerome Ford
Jerome Ford is the Browns’ new starting running back. Cleveland drafted Ford in 2022, despite having three backs under contract already. This shows how much they liked Ford, and it’s hard not to. Ford has solid and elite speed. He earned over 1,500 yards in his final year of college and has shown he’s a capable pass-catcher.
Ford has been the primary backup to Nick Chubb all summer. This continued in Week 2 after Chubb’s injury. Ford handled 90% of the RB carries for the Browns, leading to 20 total opportunities.
The Browns did re-sign Kareem Hunt, but he ranked 60th in RB efficiency last season. His contract is up to $4 million, with likely $1-2 million being guaranteed. This is standard backup money.
Remember, Cleveland chose Ford over Hunt all offseason.
Finding No. 4: Monitor the Seattle secondary
The Seahawks have allowed 326 passing yards per game this season, the second most in the league. Through two weeks, their starting safeties, Julian Love and Quandre Diggs, rank bottom-three in coverage. Their slot cornerback, Coby Bryant, ranks last in cornerback coverage.
Bryant has allowed 10 receptions through two weeks in man coverage. This week, Seattle faces the Panthers without Bryce Young. Instead, veteran QB Andy Dalton will start. During the offseason, Adam Thielen stated a big reason why he chose Carolina was because Andy Dalton was there.
Thielen will get the strong matchup in the slot against Coby Bryant. Thielen is coming off a 20-point fantasy performance. He’s an interesting flex option this week.
Finding No. 5: Sell high on DJ Moore
Trade DJ Moore away as soon as possible. Moore bounced back from a poor Week 1 and delivered 100+ yards in Week 2. His 13.4-point performance landed him with the WR28 finish for the week.
But here’s the issue: Moore ranks 83rd in WR usage through two games. Despite the Bears trailing for the majority of their first two games, Moore has been targeted just nine times. This volume ranks 61st among WRs, behind guys like Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Calvin Austin.
Moore is a victim of poor playing-calling, a bad offensive line and Justin Fields’ accuracy issues. Trade him for Michael Pittman Jr. or Garrett Wilson if you can.
Finding No. 6: The best WR Spot of the week belongs to Mike Williams
Mike Williams finds himself in the best game environment of the week. The Chargers are slight underdogs in a game with the highest total on the slate at 55 points. This is a historically great spot for fantasy points.
Williams missed time in Week 1 due to injury, but in Week 2 he earned a team-high 12 targets. He was targeted 8% more per route than Keenan Allen. According to Jacob Gibbs, Mike Williams has out-targeted Keenan Allen 18 to 17 on 67 routes run together this year.
Williams is a top-12 WR this week — start him.
Finding No. 7: The sketchy spot of the week belongs to Brian Robinson
Robinson has had a fantastic start to the season. He ranks top-10 in running back usage and this has led to him producing the third-most points through two weeks. But Robinson enters a sketchy situation in Week 3. He and the Commanders are seven-point underdogs against the Bills. This game sets up better for Antonio Gibson.
Although Gibson hasn’t produced in fantasy through two games, he’s still involved in the offense. Gibson has played 41% of the snaps and handled 93% of the two-minute work. He leads the Commanders RBs with 42 routes run and five targets. If the Commanders fall behind in this game, we could see Gibson earn more snaps.
In five games as an underdog in his career, Brian Robinson averages just 9.2 points.
Finding No. 8: A deeper dive into Christian Kirk
Kirk bounced back in a major way in Week 2. After posting just 1.4 fantasy points in Week 1, Kirk dropped 16.5 points on 14 targets in Week 2. Kirk saw his routes increase from 66% in Week 1 to 84% in Week 2. At first glance, you may think he took the WR2 job from Zay Jones, who only ran 62% of routes in Week 2 vs. 94% in Week 1. But this is not the case.
Zay Jones was still the WR2, but he missed time in this game with an injury. Calvin Ridley also missed time with injury and ran 21% fewer routes than he did in Week 1.
Kirk was the only healthy starting WR for the entire game. This led to him seeing more overall snaps, routes and targets. Kirk was still not as involved in two-WR sets when Zay Jones and Ridley were out there.
Expect Kirk to see his routes and snaps drop in Week 3.
Finding No. 9: The Bucs’ offense is an unexpected surprise
Tampa Bay is 2-0 to start the year on the backs of Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans and Dave Canales.
You may not recognize that last name. Canales is the new offensive coordinator for the Bucs. He was the Seahawks QB coach last season and he helped turn around Geno Smith’s career. He’s doing the same through two games with Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield ranks No. 1 under pressure this season and is third in QB efficiency. Mayfield’s play has fueled the entire offense. Mike Evans is second in WR fantasy points and Rachaad White ranks seventh in RB usage.
We need to adjust our previous expectations of this team and its playmakers now that we’ve seen Canales’ offense in action. Chris Godwin is a buy in fantasy and second-year TE Cade Otton is a sneaky add.
Finding No. 10: It’s not the time to panic about Josh Jacobs
Through two weeks, Jacobs has averaged just 9.5 fantasy points. He’s coming off a week where he rushed for negative yards. But if you watched the game, you know this wasn’t his fault. Jacobs was hit behind the line of scrimmage at the highest rate in Week 2.
Here’s some positive news: Jacobs has handled 77% of the snaps and earned 70% of the Raiders’ rush attempts this season. This has led to a strong 18.5 opportunities per game. He ranks sixth in RB usage so far.
So why has he struggled? Outside of the awful offense line play, the truth is it’s just a small two-game sample. Vegas was without Jakobi Meyers and lost Davante Adams in Week 2. It was easy for the Bills defense to stack the box against Jacobs.
Expect a better performance in Week 3 as a home favorite vs. Pittsburgh.