As part of our weekly start and sit column, I break down some unheralded names that should be in fantasy lineups this week. The goal here isn’t to identify the top starts each week, instead, it’s to find plays that you might not expect or may be wavering on.
Start: Donovan Smith, QB Texas Tech vs. Houston
This probably isn’t surprising given that Smith went 14-16 for 221 yards and four touchdowns in week one filling in for an injured Tyler Shough. Smith’s dominant performance should continue in week two despite facing an upgraded defense in Houston. Hence, why he is on the list here. Usually, a quarterback coming off this performance would be a no-brainer, however, we think they can have continued success this week.
Houston has one of the best defenses in the Group of 5 headlined by up-and-coming star Doug Belk. However, in week one they were unprepared for what should have been an easy (or easier) win against UTSA. In the game, Frank Harris passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Texas Tech should see similar success this week and with new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley at the helm, they can capitalize on it. The Red Raiders offense is going to be top-three in passing rate this season which should keep any QB productive. Specifically, with a 75% neutral game script pass rate in week one, Kittley is the maestro of the passing offense.
Sit: Cameron Ward, QB Washington State @ Wisconsin
I would classify Cameron Ward’s debut as solid, but not necessarily more than that. It was remarkably similar to his time at Incarnate Ward, with a high number of pass attempts but a low passing depth and yards per pass attempt. On 40 attempts, he had a 5.6 yards per pass attempt but threw three touchdowns. The biggest concern is his inability to push the ball downfield effectively. In 2021, he had a 59.8% completion percentage beyond 10 yards per PFF. I didn’t see a change in that this week.
|Spread||Implied Team Total|
Wisconsin has a very good defense *shocker*. The real kicker for this call is that they are 17.5-point favorites currently and that number is about spot on with mine. With the game total being 47.5, the implied team total for the Washington offense is only 14.5 points, barely over two touchdowns. I don’t think you can start a quarterback with that implied team total. Look elsewhere this week despite their 58.5% neutral game script pass rate in Week 1.
Start: Reese White, RB Coastal Carolina vs. Gardner-Webb
If Braydon Bennett misses time again this week, Reese White is a must-start. Against a quality Army defense, White toted the rock 21 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also added two touchdowns receiving. This is a team that generally splits carries among two backs and continued to do so with Bennett out. However, White was the first one up and saw key touches early in the game. Overall, he saw 53% of the carries and 56% of the total backfield touches. In an even better matchup this week, White should be a fixture in lineups if he’s seeing 20+ opportunities.
Start: La’Damian Webb, RB South Alabama @ Central Michigan
I’m rolling out South Alabama RB La’Damian Webb this week with relative confidence. Last week against Nicholls State, Webb had 20 touches, totaling 116 yards and two touchdowns. No other rusher on the roster had more than five carries despite a blowout win. We extensively profiled Webb over the summer highlighting his potential bell-cow role. It appears that he will be a focal point for the Jaguars.
The spread in this game is 4.5-points against Central Michigan, meaning Vegas expects this to be close. I think the Chips win but this is not a good front-seven. Last year CMU ranked 68th in EPA per play against the rush but lost impact linebacker Tico Brown and will be a demonstrably worse unit in 2022. South Alabama on the other hand has a quality offensive line, featuring Antawn Lewis and James Jackson.
Start: Charlie Jones, WR Purdue vs. Indiana State
How can we not start Chuck Sizzle this week? The affectionately named outside receiver for Purdue broke out in a big way last week and appears to be the Boilermakers WR1. In week 1, Jones had 18 targets as the primary option. In week one, he led the country in targets while posting 21 fantasy points. Since 2020, Purdue has passed at a top-10 rate in neutral game script situations in comparison to the country’s 44% average. Last week Jeff Brohm’s offense passed in the same situation against Penn State at 68.2% of the time.
Indiana State does not meet the definition of a formidable foe this week. Purdue should be able to do as they please and with a nearly 70% pass rate when the game isn’t out of hand, there should be plenty of potential for this Jones to sizzle this week. Since 2018, the WR1 for Jeff Brohm has averaged over 18 points per game in the worst season. If Jone is truly the primary option here, he’ll end up a must-start each week.
Sit: Xavier Worthy, WR Texas vs. Alabama
As a true freshman, Worthy posted one of the best age-adjusted production seasons we’ve seen from a receiver. Last season Worthy posted a 28.6% receiving yard market share while leading the Longhorns in receiving. Last week Texas didn’t need to pass so major production from Worthy wasn’t necessarily expected. However, this week the Texas offense will undoubtedly struggle against Alabama’s vaunted defense.
The spread here is currently 20 points depending on which book you look at with a 62-point total. Again, like with Cameron Ward above the implied total is lower than we want to target. With an implied team total of 21 points, the Longhorns will likely find touchdowns few and far between. I’m fading this entire offense this week if possible and despite Worthy being drafted as a top-15 overall pick. Worthy likely gets Kool-Aid McKinstry in coverage this week potentially being bracketed by Jordan Battle or Malachi Moore. The Alabama secondary is truly a deadly unit and the corners could easily keep Worthy off the scoresheet.