We’ve already seen some big surprises and fascinating matchups in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, probably none more so than the Monday night overtime ending in Las Vegas. We asked ESPN insiders Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler for their thoughts on this week’s schedule as we enter Week 2.
Week 2 NFL upset picks fantasy football sleepers and failures and what we’re hearing around the league
Which teams should we be concerned about after poor first-round performances, and will we see improvements in their subsequent games? What were the most surprising aspects of the first week, and are they likely to continue? And yes, that includes a discussion of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ Sunday disappointment. Our experts also reveal their Week 2 upset choices, including a Super Bowl contender who falters after a great start. Graziano and Fowler also identify must-start sleepers and potential fantasy flops for fantasy managers wanting to make all the correct moves. They go over everything and then wrap it up with everything else they’ve heard this week, including contract discussions and injury statuses. Let’s start with our top upset picks, but you can easily skip to Week 2’s other key questions.
What’s your best Week 2 upset pick?
Fowler: Let’s go with the Colts (+4) over the Rams. After picking the Raiders to cover in that terrible masterpiece of a game on Monday night, I’m feeling confident. So here is my attempt to bring the Rams’ ridiculous hype down a notch. The Colts are a talented team, but they didn’t show it in the first game. The offensive line will improve, and the defence will learn from the loss to Seattle, when receivers were allowed to go past them downfield. The Colts will want to eliminate the big play by forcing Matthew Stafford to beat them with short passes in the hopes of forcing him to make a few mistakes. Graziano: I was at their game on Sunday and was astounded by their pass defence. Carson Wentz’s entire point was that he was coming into this ideal situation. In Week 1, it was anything but that, thanks to Seattle’s ability to generate pressure with its front four. I trust the Colts’ coaching staff to fix it, but it might be a tough matchup against Aaron Donald and company while they wait for offensive lineman Eric Fisher to return.
I’ll take the Bengals (+3) over the Bears. I’m riding the crest of the tidal wave. It’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of Cincinnati’s victory on Sunday. The Bengals blew the game late after it appeared they had it in hand, and you had a feeling they were going to Bengal the thing away somehow throughout overtime. They didn’t, however. The Bengals were the ones who gave it away to the Vikings, and they took advantage of it in an unexpected manner. QB Joe Burrow is a confidence booster for a franchise that has fought for years to find reasons to be optimistic.
Burrow didn’t seem phased in the pocket after his knee injury, which is an encouraging indication for a team that desperately needs a strong start. This is something I can get behind. That defence appears to be marginally better. If the Bears don’t find a way to create explosive plays, the calls for rookie quarterback Justin Fields will only become louder. Graziano: Those cries won’t go away any time soon. Matt Nagy believes he can keep them at bay, but I don’t believe he is correct.
What was the most surprising performance from Week 1 — and do you think you’ll be buying or selling it in the future?
Graziano: The Green Bay Packers’ failure surprised me the most, and I’m selling it. I believe the Saints have a superior defence than many people believe, and I’m not ready to write off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers after just one game. On the offensive line, they started two rookies, which is a problem they need to solve. But offensive tackle David Bakhtiari will return at some time, and I have faith in Rodgers and his coaching staff to figure out what went wrong on offence Sunday.
Fowler: You have to believe the Packers will shake off the rust quickly. At the same time, this is what happens when a quarterback skips offseason workouts for the first time in years and has months of squabbles with the front management. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the bad vibes didn’t spill a little onto the field, whether intentionally or unintentionally. For me, the biggest surprise was Fields’ use as a compliment to Andy Dalton by the Chicago Bears. For the most part, Chicago kept that a secret. Isn’t there no other option except to buy here? At this point, I don’t expect to see any fewer Fields.
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