NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -
As soon as Week 1 finished, there you were, awaiting the projections for this week and who to start. Sometimes, they’re on the money. But more often not, they’re the safe or average guideline for how a player might perform. You might think to yourself, “Philip Rivers tore it up last week. Why is he projected an even lower scoring week against the Bills, who just allowed Joe Flacco three touchdowns?”
That’s what I was wondering. I have Alex Smith on my bench, who’s projected higher. And while he could indeed turn out to be a good play as well, watching the Chargers sling the ball around the field against the Chiefs is hard to ignore. I say all that to point out how projections don’t tell the whole story with the upside. Rivers, with his arsenal of targets, even backup RB Austin Ekeler who has some PPR value, will have to have a bad week before he’s out of my lineup.
So here are a few players I think outperform and underperform their current ESPN projections.
Better than projected:
QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
Unless you on the extreme end of the position (Brady, Rodgers down to Prescott, Foles), the projections are probably all within a few points. That’s why at this position in particular, you need to pay attention to the match-up and upside. Rivers vs. the Bills should be a solid play if your other option at quarterback is a little dicey.
RB Alex Collins, Ravens
It was a weird opening week for a running back that’s expected to be a bell cow, but there are a few reasons I think he’s better than the 11 points he’s currently projected in PPR leagues. Kenneth Dixon will miss significant time due to injury, and against the Bengals defense on a Thursday night, Collins should be fresh after just seven carries and ready to crush it.
RB Carlos Hyde, Browns
Regardless of whether the Saints secondary bounces back or not, I think stopping the run will still be an issue. Taking the bulk of the carries, I see Hyde finding the endzone at least once and topping his nine point prediction.
WR Cooper Kupp, Rams
He’s projected 11 points, and it’s taking a risk to guarantee he’ll score more, but with the amount of targets he’s getting, I think Kupp has to be at least your flex every week, but especially this week against Arizona, who got shredded in the first half last week by Alex Smith.
Worse than projected:
RB Royce Freeman, Broncos
This one hurts. I was big on Royce Freeman and drafted him in a couple of leagues. But Denver’s pulled a fast one on all of us have him in at least a two-headed backfield with Devontae Booker still lingering as well. Phillip Lindsay took the same amount of carries and was more of a threat in the passing game as well. Last week against LA, the Raiders appeared to have a game plan to hold onto the ball and limit the time the Rams’ offense was on the field. That doesn’t bode well for a running back in a shared backfield, especially if you have Freeman in a PPR league. You’ve been warned.
RB Peyton Barber, Buccaneers
Philly’s run defense is filthy, just as it was a year ago. They shut down just about everything Atlanta did last week, and I wouldn’t expect that to be any different this week against Tampa Bay. Single digits would be my projection.
As always, I’m cautious about starting most players against the Vikings and Rams defense, but in the Packers’ case this week, you obviously have to go with Aaron Rodgers and Davonte Adams. I’d probably wait another week to throw Randall Cobb in there, though.
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