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Fantasy football insights with Watson for Week 2

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Berry on board with Miles Sanders (1:35)

Miles Sanders makes Matthew Berry's "love list" for Week 2 vs. the Falcons and says that by the end of the year, Sanders will be the Eagles RB fantasy managers want. (1:35)

For those who are looking for a tool to concentrate various web opinions into one location in order to help make roster moves, IBM offers Watson's Insights as an unsupervised, quantitative supplement to the more in-depth, personalized analysis that you would normally expect from an ESPN analyst.

IBM Insights uses Watson AI to analyze thousands of fantasy articles, blogs, websites and podcasts, and provide support data to assist with fantasy football decisions. Watson outputs an estimated scoring range for each player and projects the chances that a player will exceed the upside estimate (e.g., "boom") or fall short of the low-end estimate (e.g., "bust") in any given week.

The following article points out a few notable insights from Watson for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season, as of early Friday afternoon.


Running back decisions

Running backs are some of the most potentially powerful producers in fantasy football, but they are also often the scarcest commodity because there are so few "No. 1" backs these days. As such, there is usually a very clear hierarchy at the top with a handful of ultra-elite backs who are definite starts every week. However, it can be difficult to decide between backs of similar caliber when anticipated playing time and matchups could be key differentiators.

The following analysis was performed on the top-40 running backs who are expected to play this week (and who did not already play on Thursday), based upon IBM Insight projections for the week.

Projections higher than rank

Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals

  • Weekly rank: 110, 32nd among RBs

  • High projection: 15.6 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 5.4 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.23

  • Bust chance: 0.12

Breida is lined up to get the start this week with Tevin Coleman (ankle) out, and he faces a Bengals defense that allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs last season and allowed Chris Carson to produce 81 total yards and two total touchdowns on 15 carries and six receptions in the season opener.

Watson's Insight: Breida could produce RB2 numbers this week, a clear step up from his not-quite-flex season ranking. Matchup and opportunity make him an attractive play.

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys

  • Weekly rank: 176, 50th among RBs

  • High projection: 15.3 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 4.9 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.25

  • Bust chance: 0.12

While Adrian Peterson is expected to start at running back this week in place of the injured Derrius Guice, Thompson may have a better chance to produce due to his prolific pass-catching ability. The Cowboys are heavy favorites this week after scoring 35 points on nearly 500 total yards in their season opener, which suggests that the Redskins could be playing from behind, thus giving Thompson more opportunities to catch the ball on Sunday.

Watson's Insight: Thompson is a reasonable flex play this week with a great chance to dramatically outpace his season-ranking.

Most likely to go boom/Least likely to bust

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

  • Weekly rank: 97, 30th among RBs

  • High projection: 14.0 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 4.2 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.24

  • Bust chance: 0.09

Sanders had a relatively quiet debut with only 27 total yards, but he led the Eagles' backfield with 11 carries, which indicates that the rookie has already earned a nice share of touches. This week, he'll be facing a Falcons defense that allowed the sixth most fantasy points to opposing running backs last season and gave up 120 total yards and two touchdowns to Dalvin Cook in Week 1.

Watson's Insight: Sanders is a rookie in a three-way time share in the Eagles backfield, but he gets enough touches to have a good chance to outproduce expectation against a relatively weak Falcons run defense.

Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Weekly rank: 169, 45th among eligible RBs

  • High projection: 9.2 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 2.9 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.25

  • Bust chance: 0.10

Hyde got off to a quick start with his new team in the season opener, leading the Texans' backfield with 83 yards rushing on 10 carries. He is the more rush-heavy back, while Duke Johnson Jr. is the bigger receiving threat. This week, the Texans are heavy favorites in a home game against a Jaguars team whose starting quarterback got injured in the opener. If the Texans are playing with the lead, they would be more likely to have their rushing back in the game more often, which would bode well for Hyde's chances to boom.

Watson's Insight: Hyde has a good chance to outproduce expectations as the bigger, more traditional "rushing" back in a game his team is favored to win.

Insights provided by IBM Watson in partnership with ESPN