2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 2: Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

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We’re now officially one week into the 2021 NFL season as well as the 2021 fantasy football campaign. And while many hyped fantasy studs delivered as advertised in Week 1, there were some who let their fantasy managers down. We also saw our fair share of injuries that could affect the fantasy football landscape going forward.

To navigate these letdowns and injuries, we’re here with some Week 2 fantasy football sleepers to help you win your week and hopefully your season.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections for Week 2

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Quarterback

Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Broncos-Jaguars Total: 45 via BetMGM
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

Teddy Bridgewater had one of his best games in recent memory in his Denver Broncos debut. Normally a game manager, Bridgewater popped for 20.46 fantasy points on the road against the New York Giants, who have a capable defense.

I’m not normally a Bridgewater guy, but I must give credit when it is due. Despite the loss of Jerry Jeudy (ankle), he still has plenty of weapons to work with including Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, and a pair of pass-catching backs.

In Week 2, Bridgewater will remain on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who just surrendered 291 passing yards and two touchdowns to Tyrod Taylor of the Houston Texans. Jacksonville’s defense is a mess, which bodes well for Bridgewater’s fantasy outlook in Week 2. If the Jaguars can’t get any pressure on Bridgewater, he will pick them apart and take shots deep to his playmakers when they are there.

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Deep QB Week 2 Sleeper: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints

  • Saints-Panthers Total: 44.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 44.5 (-110), Under 44.5 (-110)

Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold looked like a new player sans Adam Gase. In his first game with Carolina against the New York Jets, Darnold contributed 19.06 fantasy points on a 279/1/0 quarterback stat line. He also ran for a score against his former team.

If the New Orleans Saints play like they did last week against the Green Bay Packers, the Panthers will be playing from behind, which means Darnold will have to air it out. Unlike his days with the Jets, Darnold now has a slew of weapons at his disposal to put up points.

The Saints managed to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to nothing in what was arguably the biggest upset of Week 1. New Orleans’ defense is good, but not strong enough to do that every week. I don’t think Darnold will go off, but he won’t lose you the week, either.

Also Consider: Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Running Back

Ty’Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Chiefs-Ravens Total: 55 via BetMGM
  • Over 55 (-110), Under 55 (-110)

We all had questions about Ty’Son Williams entering the Baltimore Ravens’ season opener since after he was thrust into a starting role following season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.

It didn’t take long for Williams to answer those questions, ending Week 1 as the RB9 with 18.4 points. He carried the ball nine times for 65 yards with a touchdown while adding another 29 yards as a receiver on 3-of-4 targets.

While Latavius Murray also garnered 10 carries, he only rushed for 28 yards and a meager 2.8 yards per carry while Williams managed 7.2 yards per tote.

Williams gets a Kansas City Chiefs defense that was smashed by Cleveland Browns’ backfield in Week 1. Kansas City’s defense allowed a league-high 34.2 fantasy points to the running back position as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 116 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. They both averaged 5.5 yards per carry as well.

Williams is a must-play in Week 2. Don’t get cute and fade him because of Murray.

James White, New England Patriots @ New York Jets

  • Patriots-Jets Total: 43 via BetMGM
  • Over 43 (-110), Under 43 (-110)

Damien Harris was terrific last week against the Miami Dolphins, but a costly fumble late in the game may deter the New England Patriots from featuring him as the standalone back.

What’s more, Rhamondre Stevenson also lost a fumble. Because of Harris and Stevenson’s ball-security issues, New England may return to leaning on James White, a trusted Patriots asset for years.

White played the second-most snaps of New England’s rushers in Week 1, logging 28 to Harris’s 40. While he only rushed four times for 12 yards, White did the bulk of his damage as a receiver by catching 6-of-7 targets for 49 yards. His seven targets tied him with Nelson Agholor for second-most on the team to Jakobi Meyers’s nine, so it looks like we are getting the Tom Brady-era version of White now that Mac Jones is under center.

White will get a Jets defense that yielded the 13th-most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1 (19.1) against the Panthers. Notably, Christian McCaffrey caught all nine of his targets for 89 yards, so White could be just as busy in the passing game in Week 2.

Deep RB Week 2 Sleeper: Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons

  • Falcons-Buccaneers: Total 52 via BetMGM
  • Over 52 (-110), Under 52 (-110)

Despite the offseason hype surrounding Giovani Bernard and Ronald Jones, it was Fournette who led the Buccaneers’ backfield in Week 1. Fournette played 42 snaps — nearly double the 23 from Bernard (17) and Jones (six) combined. Jones lost a fumble early and did not see the field again, so he already appears to be in Bruce Arians’ dog house.

Fournette wasn’t outstanding against the Dallas Cowboys, but he still managed 10.9 PPR points. Though he only rushed nine times for 32 yards (3.6 yards per carry), he also caught 5-of-7 targets for 27 yards. Those receptions saved his day in fantasy and kept Bernard (three targets) at bay, as Bernard only played in a two-minute drill and third-down scenarios.

Assuming Fournette sustains that workload, he should have a big game ahead of him in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. Fournette burned them for one of his best games last year when he rushed for 49 yards and two scores on 14 carries en route to 18.5 PPR points. Atlanta’s defense also appears vulnerable against the run after allowing Philadelphia Eagles RBs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell to accumulate 17.3 and 12.3 PPR points against them in Week 1, respectively.

Also Consider: Mark Ingram, Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns; Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

Leonard Fournette Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB

Leonard Fournette appears poised to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield, making him one of our top NFL Week 2 sleeper picks. (Image: USA TODAY)

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Wide Receiver

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns

  • Texans-Browns Total: 48 via BetMGM
  • Over 48 (-110), Under 48 (-110)

I’ll once again roll out Brandin Cooks — one of the most underrated and disrespected wideouts in fantasy football. Even on a seemingly lackluster Houston Texans offense with Tyrod Taylor at the helm, Cooks was quite productive in Week 1, corralling 5-of-7 targets for 132 yards with a 19.1 aDOT.

Cook led the team with seven targets and played 61 snaps in Week 1, finishing as the WR22 with 19.2 fantasy points — a score away from the WR1 tier. The de facto No. 1 receiver on a Texans team that should be trailing more often than not this season — at least when they’re not playing the Jags — Cooks will be heavily utilized.

Look for Cooks to go off in his upcoming matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Not only will Cleveland likely dominate this game and force Houston to play catch-up, but the new-look Browns secondary has yet to gel. Tyreek Hill went ballistic on them in Week 1, torching Cleveland for 37.7 PPR points on a monster 11/197/1 line. Cooks and Taylor aren’t Hill and Patrick Mahomes, but they will amass production in garbage time.

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Sammy Watkins, Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Chiefs-Ravens Total: 55 via BetMGM
  • Over 55 (-110), Under 55 (-110)

Cue the revenge game narrative for Sammy Watkins. Watkins will suit up against one of his former teams on Sunday night in the form of the Kansas City Chiefs. Not always the best fantasy play, Watkins is coming off of a solid outing in his Week 1 Baltimore Ravens debut against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Watkins led the Ravens in targets (eight) and receiving yards (96) on four receptions, finishing as the WR39 with 13.9 points. After reuniting with OC Greg Roman from his prolific Buffalo Bills days, Watkins could have one of his more productive years in 2021.

In this upcoming matchup with the Chiefs, Watkins should be heavily involved in the passing game again, especially if the game turns into a shootout or if Baltimore is playing from behind. After proving himself in Week 1, Watkins is a quality flex option for Week 2.

Deep WR Week 2 Sleeper: Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Broncos-Jaguars Total: 45 via BetMGM
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

With Jerry Jeudy sidelined for the foreseeable future with an ankle injury, it’s time to fire up Tim Patrick or K.J. Hamler. While Hamler comes with draft capital as the 46th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos also invested in Patrick, awarding him with a one-year, $3.4M deal this offseason to keep him.

Although Hamler comes with upside, he did drop a touchdown last week. Meanwhile, Patrick continues to dazzle any time he gets a chance. He went for 13.9 fantasy points last week against the Giants, hauling in all four of his targets for 39 yards and a score. In 2019 and 2020, Patrick totaled nine games with 10+ PPR points, so his Week 1 performance wasn’t merely a fluke.

The Broncos will get a cake matchup with the Jaguars in Week 2. As mentioned above, Jacksonville’s defense was just shredded by the Houston Texans in Week 1, making Patrick a good bet to thrive in Week 2.

Also Consider: Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings; Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots @ New York Jets

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Tight End

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams @ Indianapolis Colts

  • Colts-Rams Total: 47.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 44.5 (-110), Under 47.5 (-110)

I’ll continue to ride Tyler Higbee into Week 2. While he didn’t score on Sunday night against the Chicago Bears, Higbee was the dominant tight end for the Los Angeles Rams. While some believed Jacob Harris might be a factor at the position, he didn’t play a single snap. That helped Higbee finish as the TE9 in Week 1 with 11.8 points and a 5/68/0 line on six targets.

Speaking of targets, Higbee was the second-most targeted player in Los Angeles after Cooper Kupp (10). With former Rams TE Gerald Everett in Seattle, Higbee is already playing a much larger role in the offense this year.

Higbee will face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, who yielded the 10th-most fantasy points (11.7) to the tight end position last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Look for Higbee to have another strong game in Week 2.

Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys

  • Cowboys-Chargers Total: 54.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 54.5 (-110), Under 54.5 (-110)

While Donald Parham was the offseason fantasy football darling, good ole reliable Jared Cook was the featured pass-catching tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1. Cook played 47 snaps to Parham’s 41 but ranked third on the team in targets (eight) compared to Parham’s one. As a result, Cook was the TE13 last week with 10.6 fantasy points on his 5/56/0 line.

In Week 2, Cook will get a Cowboys defense that was picked apart by Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s aerial attack in Week 1. Notably, Rob Gronkowski feasted on Dallas as the TE1 with 29 points, hauling in all eight of his targets for 90 yards and a pair of scores.

Another aging tight end, Cook could have himself a day at the Cowboys’ expense. I wouldn’t expect a TE1 finish, but I do like him to find the end zone and snag a few receptions.

Deep TE Week 2 Sleeper: Pharaoh Brown, Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns

  • Texans-Browns Total: 48 via BetMGM
  • Over 48 (-110), Under 48 (-110)

Pharoah Brown led all Texans tight ends in snaps (59) during Week 1, followed by Jordan Akins‘s 47. Brown also out-targeted Akins 5-to-2, ranking second on the team in targets en route to a 4/57/0 line that was good for a TE12 finish (10.7 points).

Now, Brown will get the Browns in Week 2, whose defense was absolutely gashed by Travis Kelce in Week 1. Cleveland allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends last week (20.7). With a lack of reliable pass-catching options outside of Brandin Cooks, Tyrod Taylor will continue to lean on his big-bodied tight end in Week 2.

Also Consider: Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers; Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks @ Tennessee Titans

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Kicker

Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Broncos-Jaguars Total: 45 via BetMGM
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

The Denver Broncos’ offense played better than expected last week against the New York Giants, as QB Teddy Bridgewater led Denver to three touchdowns which resulted in three extra points for Brandon McManus. However, there were also a pair of stalled drives in which McManus was successful on field goal opportunities. After finishing with nine points against the Giants, McManus will get a Jacksonville team that yielded 14 kicker points to new Texans K Joey Slye in Week 1, tying Robbie Gould for K1 on the week.

In theory, If the Broncos’ offense was that successful against the Giants, then they should have ample scoring opportunities versus the lowly Jaguars. Those opportunities will afford McManus another week inside the top 12 of fantasy kicker finishes.

Also Consider: Joey Slye, Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns; Nick Folk, New England Patriots @ New York Jets

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2: Defensive Team

Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings

  • Cardinals-Vikings Total: 51 via BetMGM
  • Over 51 (-110), Under 51 (-110)

The Arizona Cardinals’ defense was a pleasant surprise in Week 1, shutting down the high-powered Tennessee Titans. Chandler Jones registered five sacks while the team recorded three takeaways, limiting Tennessee to just 13 points and finishing as the top defense in fantasy football with 16 points.

The Cards will look to replicate that performance at home against the Minnesota Vikings. While that doesn’t look like a great matchup on paper, the Cincinnati Bengals did notch three sacks and a fumble recovery against Minnesota in Week 1, so don’t be surprised if Arizona’s defense produces another strong performance.

Also Consider: New York Giants @ Washington Football Team; Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Recap

NFL Week 1 Disappointments:

  • QB Justin Herbert (13.64)
  • QB Matt Ryan (7.36)
  • QB Aaron Rodgers (3.32)
  • RB Antonio Gibson (11.8)
  • RB Austin Ekeler (11.7)
  • RB Derrick Henry (10.7)
  • RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (10.2)
  • RB Mike Davis (10.2)
  • RB James Robinson (8.4)
  • RB Najee Harris (5.9)
  • RB Ezekiel Elliott (5.9)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (3.7)
  • RB Aaron Jones (4.2)
  • WR Davante Adams (10.6)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (10.4)
  • WR Allen Robinson (9.5)
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (9.2)
  • WR Tyler Boud (6.2)
  • WR Courtland Sutton (2.4)
  • WR Marquez Callaway (2.4)
  • WR Brandon Aiyuk (0)
  • TE George Kittle (9.8)
  • TE Jonnu Smith (9.8)
  • TE Kyle Pitts (7.1)
  • TE Robert Tonyan (2.8)

NFL Week 1 Injuries to Monitor:

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip)
  • RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
  • RB Rashaad Penny (knee)
  • WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle)

Anthony’s Accountable

This is a recap of my plays from last week (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10+ PPR points (15+ for QBs):

  • QB Trevor Lawrence (22.08)
  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo (14.76)
  • RB Raheem Mostert (2.0), injured
  • RB James Conner (5.3)
  • RB Leonard Fournette (10.9)
  • WR Brandin Cooks (18.2)
  • WR Marvin Jones (18.7)
  • WR Elijah Moore (0.7)
  • TE Tyler Higbee (11.8)
  • TE Zach Ertz (5.4)


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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