As always, we need to give a little bit of context to the term “fade.” Keep in mind as you read that just because a player is listed as a “fade,” that doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.”
What a “bust” designation does mean is that you’ll want to consider higher upside options in the flex.
Welcome to Week 2 of the fantasy football season! Week 1 was loaded with surprises top to bottom, as is every first week of the season. Don’t get too comfortable with what we saw in Week 1, however, with plenty of time for shakeups and a new slate of defensive matchups on tap!
Here's whom I think could disappoint in Week 2:
Fade: Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Since being traded to the Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford has played five games against the San Francisco 49ers, thanks to their position as a fellow NFC West rival. In those matchups, Stafford averaged 252 passing yards per game, totaling just seven passing touchdowns compared to his six total interceptions to average just 14.35 fantasy points per game.
Surprisingly, the Rams' questionable offensive line held up fairly well in Week 1, with Stafford seeing pressure on just 23.1% of dropbacks. However, it would be a shock if that success continued against Nick Bosa and the rest of the 49ers' defense. San Francisco made the Steelers' offensive line look like a junior varsity squad out of the gate.
With playmakers all across the defensive line ready to ruin Stafford’s day — including new offseason addition Javon Hargrave and 2022 second-round pick Drake Jackson — who combined for 4.0 sacks to open up the season — expect that pressure to likely force some mistakes and miscues, which Stafford is less likely to recover from without star receiver Cooper Kupp to bail him out.
Bust: Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
I’m not just here to hate on the LA Rams, I promise.
They do have a tough matchup, however, and the significant workload Akers saw in Week 1 might be enticing for fantasy managers as they set their lineups. Akers was tremendously inefficient with the work he did receive however, totaling just 29 scrimmage yards with (thankfully) a rushing touchdown to save his fantasy day. Where fantasy managers will need to pump the brakes, even beyond that abysmal efficiency, will be the timing of that usage. Interestingly, despite ranking fifth among running backs with 22 touches to start the season, 12 of those actually came in the fourth quarter as the Rams looked to ride out their lead over the Seahawks.
In Week 2, Akers won’t be any happier with the circumstances of his touches, set to face the San Francisco 49ers, who have been one of the most stifling run defenses dating back to 2022. Since last season, the 49ers have allowed just 13.8 fantasy points per game in half-PPR scoring formats as the only defense in the league to have allowed fewer than 1,100 rushing yards in that span.
Akers, who’s already struggled with efficiency and saw the bulk of his carries in garbage time to start the year, is a bonafide bust in Week 2.
Fade: Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Javonte Williams saw a significant workload in his first game returning from a complicated season-ending knee injury suffered in 2022. He totaled 17 touches, which yielded just 57 total yards. It’s the touches that were encouraging, however, but even if that heavy workload continues in Week 2, he’ll have an uphill battle to return to form in terms of efficiency.
In Week 2, the Broncos will face the Washington Commanders. Even without Chase Young, who missed Week 1 with a neck injury (and is likely to miss Week 2 as well), the Commanders’ defensive line came to play. Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat provided a lot to love against the run game, holding the Cardinals backfield to just three yards per carry and allowing just a single broken tackle on the week.
Even if broken tackles are Williams’ specialty, it feels unlikely that this is the breakout game you’re looking for, not against this particular opponent.
Fade: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr. and the rest of the Colts offense got off to a solid start to open the season with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson. They’ll face a bigger challenge in Week 2, however, against the Houston Texans, coming off a solid outing from the cornerback trio of Steven Nelson, Derek Stingley Jr. and Tavierre Thomas. This is a secondary that started out the 2022 season slow, having allowed four different wide receivers 100+ receiving yards leading into the Week 6 bye.
From Week 7 on through to 2023, the Texans defense has notched a 39.4% pressure rate (fourth) and 12 interceptions (t-fifth), allowing just a 2.9% touchdown percentage to opposing quarterbacks — fourth lowest in the league.
Pittman’s no stranger to the Texans, of course, having played them six times in his career as a divisional rival. His best performance against them came in Week 1 of the 2022 season, where he finished as the overall WR5 on the week before leveling out as the WR26 through the remainder of the season. Pittman’s potential for volume as a top target for Richardson is high, but this rookie quarterback still has a ways to go before he’ll rank among the league’s top passers, even having exceeded expectations in Week 1.
Expect this Texans defense to force Richardson to make a couple of mistakes, which will likely come at Pittman’s expense as the receiver on the other end.
Bust: Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
You aren’t sitting Garrett Wilson because, well … he’s Garrett Wilson. Don’t sit your stars. However, if there were any matchup where you’d consider it, it might be this one. Though the Jets are coming off a high following their Monday night miracle win, they’re also now managing expectations for what their season will look like with Zach Wilson under center.
Though the QB-WR pairing did manage a receiving touchdown in Week 1, it came on the back of one of the craziest catches we’re bound to see all season. In Garrett’s 10 games played with Wilson at quarterback, he never exceeded 15 fantasy points in a single matchup while also having one of the lowest floors conceivable, totaling 5.1 or fewer fantasy points in six of those games.
In Week 2, the Jets will face the Dallas Cowboys, with Stephon Gilmore and Trevon Diggs dominating coverage and Micah Parsons, Dante Fowler, DeMarcus Lawrence and Chauncey Golston dominating the pass rush. This defense might very well eat Zach alive, which won’t help Garrett’s fantasy prospects.
No, thank you.
Bust: Hayden Hurst, TE, Carolina Panthers
Fantasy managers streaming the tight end position or dealing with injuries that might carry into Week 2 (Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews) may have their eyes on Panthers TE Hayden Hurst. In his first regular-season game with the Panthers, he led the team with seven targets on the day, catching five of those for 41 yards and a score to finish as the overall TE2 on the week.
Unfortunately, next up on their schedule is the Saints defense, who have allowed just a single tight end to score more than nine fantasy points in a single week dating back to last season. This defense has allowed just two touchdowns to the position in that same span, so it feels quite unlikely that Hurst will be in for a repeat performance in Week 2.