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Week 2 Fantasy Football Fades: Staying grounded with Elijah Mitchell

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Although I’ve added a Fade Column to my weekly schedule for the 2021 Fantasy Football Season, I know this piece might not be popular with all fantasy managers. After all, it’s no fun to read tempered predictions (or bad news) tied to your favorite players.

That established, the goal of any fantasy season is to make as many good decisions as possible, hoping that the accumulation of good decisions will get you where you need to go. I am not saying everyone listed in this article needs to be automatically benched on your roster — your team depth and context will determine how you play that. Perhaps you’ll use this column more for a DFS slant, or as a springboard to player props.

Like anything else, I advise you to consider any reasonable argument you come across but ultimately make your own measured decision.

And with that preamble established, here are your Week 2 Fades. Queue up the Mazzy Star, and away we go.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, @ Eagles (DFS: $19)

Mitchell was justifiably the hot waiver target this week, and the manager who landed Mitchell surely did so with an aggressive offer. Those teams probably didn’t want to roster Mitchell as much as they needed to roster Mitchell, with injuries and other mishaps taking over their backfield. So if you’re in that camp, fear not. I’m not saying you wasted your money or you landed on a lemon.

I just want us to stay grounded.

Kyle Shanahan generally likes to use multiple backs. Trey Sermon, inactive in Week 1, could easily step into some sort of role at Philly. JaMycal Hasty only had one rush at Detroit — a goal-line carry as it were — but he also could see an increase in work. And the Eagles rushing defense will surely put up more of a fight than the Lions did.

San Francisco’s offense might be complicated for a while, with two quarterbacks playing and a nebulous depth chart. Does anyone dare to use Brandon Aiyuk this week? Mitchell will likely lead the team in carries this week, but I wouldn’t expect him to shove everyone out of the way. He’s more of a flex play on my clipboard. And if you’re looking for a running back at this DFS price point, I’d point to Darrell Henderson ($18) first. (FF: 62 total yards, 2 catches, 0 touchdowns)

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell
Elijah Mitchell will likely get his share of carries in Week 2, but fantasy managers expecting a huge outing could be disappointed. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)

Mark Ingram, RB, @ Browns (DFS: $15)

So Ingram is back in our fantasy lives, with a new team and a new number and a new offense to shepherd. And how can you not love a back coming off a 26-carry effort? Alas, Ingram made just 3.3 yards per tote against the Jaguars, and the Jags are not on the schedule this week — the nasty Browns defense is.

I suspect we might look back at Houston’s Week 1 victory as we do Jacksonville’s Week 1 victory from last year — a fluke result that briefly distracted the football public from the truth: This is one bad football team that’s going to struggle to score. One more obvious strike against Ingram this week — the Texans are 12.5-point underdogs. With a limited receiving role and game flow unlikely to go his way, Ingram has a Week 2 crash landing written all over him. (FF: 57 total yards, 1 catch, 0 touchdowns)

Pittsburgh Passing Game vs. Raiders

It’s not uncommon to see older quarterbacks thrive in the NFL, and we were spoiled last year. Tom Brady, age 44, won the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers, age 38, grabbed the MVP. Even Ben Roethlisberger, age 38, had a tidy 33 touchdowns against 10 picks.

But the touchdown deodorant and a very good sack-avoidance rate masked a significant decline in Roethlisberger’s game. His puny 6.3 YPA was the lowest of his career by far. Pittsburgh didn’t just struggle to chuck the ball downfield, it outright refused to at times. And as a result, a talented set of receivers struggled to meet weekly expectations.

I’m not sure much is different for Pittsburgh in 2021. Although the Steelers shocked the Bills last week, the win was about defense and special teams. Even prized rookie RB Najee Harris struggled to get anything going (16 carries, 45 yards).

Pittsburgh can go back to its preferred blueprint on Sunday. The Raiders are likely spent, physically and emotionally, after emptying the tank against Baltimore on Monday night. Harris should find rushing room. And Roethlisberger can settle in as a part of this offense, not the driver of it. I expect Pittsburgh to be one of the low-volume passing games in Week 2, and I can’t play anything tied to this passing game proactively. I’m going to be under market on Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster (sure, one of them will probably score a touchdown; good luck winning that game of Three Card Monte). (FF: 229 passing yards, 1 touchdown, no receiver tops 65 yards)

Juwon Johnson, TE, @ Panthers (DFS: $13)

Is the glass half-empty or half-full here? Johnson only saw 12 snaps in the glorious romp over Green Bay, but he cashed in two short touchdowns and turned into one of the surprise fantasy stars of Week 1. Meanwhile, Adam Trautman — the team’s primary tight end — played 82 percent of the snaps and drew a team-high six targets.

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Johnson’s size and athleticism — remember, he’s a converted wide receiver — could keep him ticketed for the goal-line work. And his second touchdown was a win on play design, a nifty pick-play where Johnson was all alone in the left corner of the end zone (it was adorable that Jameis Winston still almost overthrew him). If Johnson were still prized at the minimum for DFS, I’d consider him as a semi-punt play. But now that he’s been bumped up a few bucks, I think we need to find someone who has a chance to win all over the field, not just on specialty snaps. Johnson has no floor at the moment. I also expect an underrated and emerging Carolina defense to put up a fight, perhaps spring the upset — I still don’t consider Winston part of the Circle of Trust. (FF: 2 catches, 13 yards, 0 touchdowns)

Other Week 2 Fade Candidates

Saquon Barkley, Mike Davis, Dallas Goedert, Julio Jones, Mike Williams

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