Each week I’ll be going through and analyzing every game that occurred the weekend before, offering whatever nuggets of wisdom I can. It may be useful to use Ctrl + F to find specific players you’re interested in. This week was a hecatomb, especially at the tight end position. I hope your team made it out relatively in one piece. In any case, we’ve got some work to do, let’s get crackin’.
Texans vs. Bengals
Deshaun Watson played exactly the way you’d expect a rookie quarterback starting their first game to play. He had some good moments (including a 50+ yard rushing touchdown!) and some… questionable moments, but overall he’s qualified to serve his purpose in fantasy. That purpose, of course, is to throw the ball to DeAndre Hopkins. Rain or shine; home or away; dome or Atlantian sphincter; if he’s not handing the ball off or running in long TDs himself, Watson will be dutifully throwing to Hopkins. This week, Hopkins’ 13 targets were more than all 3 other pass catchers combined. Hopkins owners rejoice, big games are coming. It goes without saying that no other pass catchers need be considered in leagues of standard size and shape.
I’ve got some bad news for you Lamar Miller owners, you’d better sit down for this. D’Onta Foreman had 12 carries to Miller’s 18, and, well, I don’t see any reason why we won’t be looking at a 50/50 timeshare soon. Both backs were equally effective (3.38 yards per carry to 3.33 YPC, respectively). Still, 18 carries and three receptions is not bad. Maybe there’s a silver lining after all. If Foreman is not owned in your league and you’re in need of RB depth, he could be a sneaky stash who could produce low-end RB2 value now and high-end RB2 value should something happen to Miller.
Andy Dalton may look like the Riddler, but make no mistake, the Batman villain he most closely resembles is the Joker. The boy’s a match, and he just wants to watch the world burn. Two weeks into the season, Dalton only has 390 some odd yards with four interceptions and a lost fumble. And no touchdowns. That’s right, in two home games; with top-shelf weapons; Dalton has failed to find the end zone. Now it is true that the Bengals offensive line might as well channel their inner Motown divas and start singing Stop! In the name of love with one hand on their hip and the other outstretched for all the good their blocking attempts are doing. Still, after watching both Bengals games in their entirety (pray for me), I feel uniquely qualified to confidently say the Bengals woes are 90% Dalton’s fault. He’s making bad decisions, he’s making poor throws, he’s forcing the ball where nothing ought to be forced— all the while cackling while Gotham Cincinnati bathes in chaos. Then, to cap it all off, Dalton throws a hot potato to his center Russell Bodine which sets the poor man up to be pancaked by the defensive terror J.J. Watt. Burn, baby Burn.
So fantasy managers should all sell all their Bengals, right? Not so fast. Even in the midst of Dalton’s insanity, A. J. Green still is on pace for 1128 yards, which is not too shabby at all. This was despite the fact that he was only targeted one time in the second half of the game with Houston—a sin so egregious that the Bengals Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was fired for it. Green is going to get a sharp increase in targets, and he’s going to start getting touchdowns, bet on it. I’m not nearly as high on tight end Tyler Eifert. Even more than most tight ends, Eifert’s value lies almost exclusively in touchdowns. If he’s not scoring in real life, you’re not scoring in fantasy. Yes, he did get a red zone target this week (even going so far as to catch a touchdown, though it was negated by a penalty), but this is not a team that is likely to have too many trips to the red zone, and with the offensive line looking this much like Diana Ross’ backup singers, I’d be betting on Eifert being called upon to block a lot.
Through two weeks, the chimeric RBBC monstrosity that is Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Joe Mixon has been split almost perfectly evenly, with Bernard getting the start both weeks and producing the most points, and Mixon getting a slight edge on carries. Despite what Mixon owners may think they saw, he has not really outplayed the others (they’ve all played reasonably well) and is not likely to command a larger carry share anytime soon. Avoid this backfield for the time being, but keep an eye on Bernard in case the new offensive coordinator is able to get something going.
Bills vs. Panthers
I wish everyone could have someone who looks at them like Tyrod Taylor looks at Charles Clay. I know many of you followed my advice last week and picked up Clay, and yes, his stat line was not what we all hoped for. Still, just as Rob Gronkowski put up a stinker in week one, we have to assume that Clay is going to have some down games. I stand by my enthusiasm though. Even in a game where he only received 3 targets, Clay was Taylor’s first read on almost every single play. It’s uncanny to go back and watch. I got to the point where I could predict a run after the snap with 100% accuracy because that’s the only time Taylor didn’t immediately look at Clay. Needless to say, the Panthers game planned around taking Clay away and he was almost always double teamed. No other receivers on this team are fantasy relevant at this time, though this could change as Jordan Matthews heals up to factory settings and Zay Jones gets up to NFL speed.
LeSean McCoy led the team in Rushing and receiving attempts, which is encouraging. Far less encouraging was his 12 carries for 9 (9!) yards. I don’t traditionally put a ton of stock into the yards per carry stat, but still, I feel like I could vomit out a .75 YPC if called upon. It’s tough to put this all on Shady—the Carolina defensive front seven is elite, and the Carolina defensive coordinator was surely aware of the ‘if Taylor doesn’t immediately look for Clay it’s a run play’ thing. Call it a ‘tell’. In any case, things will surely get better next week when the Bills play—who do they play again? Let me check my schedule… Denver. Crap.
The big news on the Panther’s side was the foot injury to tight end, Greg Olsen. The last time he missed a game, George W Bush was president, so we’re in uncharted territory here. This is a big blow for the Panthers. In his absence, expect 30-year-old career journeyman Ed Dickson to take over. Dickson has told his coaches that they should treat him the same as they would Olsen. This would be fine if he were as good as Olsen (he’s not). In the week of the TEpocalypse, I suppose we should keep our eyes on every backup, but I don’t see a lot of value going forward here. Cam Newton continued where he left off last week, making some crisp throws, but many head-scratchers as well. He was lucky to escape without multiple interceptions, as at least two of his passes hit defenders in the hands. It’s a matter of no small concern that the Panthers made it to the red zone three times, and three times they could not convert. On one of their last drives of the game, they went three and out from the two-yard line.
In the absence of Olsen, both Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess played well, though I fear for their safety—Newton kept throwing murderballs three feet above their heads in the center of the field. I’m not sure if either will be worth rolling out on a weekly basis but if pressed I’d probably choose Benjamin, who commanded more targets and who drew a defensive pass interference call on an end-zone target.
Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey both split touches about equally, with Stewart commanding twice the rushes and Mccaffrey almost all of the passing attempts. Both got a shot at scoring from the two-yard line but Stewart was smothered in the backfield and Cam Newton overthrowing a wide open McCaffrey by five or six feet. He’s not as tall as you are, Cam. I would continue playing either back as a high-end RB3 with upside.
Bears vs. Buccaneers
There’s no way to sugarcoat this—the 2017 Bears are the reincarnated 2016 Rams. Mike Glennon tried to fulfill the role of a game manager, and largely succeeded, making short, accurate dump-offs all game. Kendall Wright, Zach Miller, and even Josh Bellamy received over 7 targets, though none of them stood out enough to warrant serious fantasy attention.
If this Bears team is the 2016 Rams reborn, then Jordan Howard is a reincarnated 2016 Todd Gurley—a first-round pick who has talent but whose team’s aerial offense is so poor that he faces stacked boxes every play. In fact, Howard may well be a poor man’s Gurley, as he can’t catch well, and he is now battling an injury. Unless something changes, Howard is a bust with a capital ‘B’. I’m trading him wherever I’ve got him. It may be too late after next week. Tarik Cohen again flashed some serious moves this week and again performed among the team’s top receivers. He did have a costly fumble on a punt return (why is Cohen returning punts!?), but overall, he’s clearly the Bears’ best asset. Still, it’s hard to trust him week to week, as one player—no matter how studly – cannot be a team’s entire offense. Something must change here, but until it does, I’m probably sitting all bears except during the most favorable of matchups.
Jameis Winston served up a heaping plate of fantasy banality. Yummy. Mike Evans picked right up where he left off and is an every-week WR1. Desean Jackson looked useful enough, looking like the clear number two target on the team. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard fought over the meager TE scraps, with Brate getting the early work and Howard only coming in once the game was firmly in hand. Neither is worth owning until further notice.
If Doug Martin is the Muscle Hamster, then can we start calling Jacquizz Rodgers the Sinew Gerbil? Seriously, the kid looks like a hobbit out there. Granted, an unusually aggressive hobbit with dreadlocks, but a hobbit, nonetheless. During Martin’s absence last year, Rodgers performed well but also had 30+ carries several games in a row. In an effort to not break him in half, it looks like the Bucs are trying to limit his carries. Rodgers still had a respectable 19 carries, but Peyton Barber was in for nearly a whole series late in the third quarter where he racked up ten carries. Encouragingly, the Bucs put Rodgers back in when the team got into the red zone. Charles Sims is strictly a pass catching back, and he’ll struggle to find value week to week, though he was wide open on what would have been a 50+ yard touchdown had Winston not overthrown him.
Vikings vs. Steelers
In classic fantasy football fashion, we went from ‘Sam Bradford may have a minor unexpected injury’ to ‘Bradford is out’ in a day and a half. Going from Bradford to Case Keenum feels like the football equivalent of going from Metallica to Nickelback. Unfortunately for managers who own Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, the door won’t open without the Bradford shaped key. The talent is definitely there, and both receivers were wide open as often as not, but Keenum just isn’t good enough to use them properly. For good or for ill, Kyle Rudolph’s value won’t take nearly as big of a hit should Bradford miss extended time, given his shorter routes.
Dalvin Cook, unfortunately, appears to be in the same boat as Diggs and Thielen. Without Bradford forcing defenses to respect the pass, Cook was consistently facing stacked boxes while regularly meeting his first tackler behind the line of scrimmage. You’ll probably need to start him if you’ve got him, but temper expectations sans Sammy Sleeves.
Ben Roethlisberger looked bloated and gassy in week one, like he had had too much Taco Bell just before game time. In week two he obviously ate a salad before the game—he looked hungry. Antonio Brown did his energizer bunny routine, and Martavais Bryant showed up mentally, which worked out well for his owners. All players mentioned could have had much bigger days, had several pass interference penalties and deep incompletions not robbed them of big gains. Jesse James’ week one game was never going to be a sign of things to come. He’s safely droppable in most leagues (unless your pun-based team name requires that you keep him).
Le’Veon Bell posted an acceptable stat line against a tough front 7, but only through the weight of sheer volume. I was surprised when I saw the stat line, it seemed to me as if Bell ran better than the numbers suggest.
Cardinals vs. Colts
Carson Palmer isn’t turning out to be the sneaky sleeper that some had hoped for, but he hasn’t been terrible either. It’s clear that Larry Fitzgerald’s best days are behind him, but I now fear that his ‘good enough’ days are also behind him. J.J. Nelson was a popular pickup on the waiver wire this week after his big game, and his usage was very encouraging. He could have had an even bigger day, but a third touchdown was called off when one of his feet touched slightly out of bounds. This is a team that is likely to have to throw often to stay competitive, given that it may also be worth checking out Jaron Brown, who quietly had a decent game in John Brown’s absence.
The Cardinals tried hard to make Kerwynn Williams work out as David Johnson’s backup, but in the end Chris Johnson (of ‘2k’ fame) ran better, longer, harder and stronger. Pick up Johnson if he’s still available. Andre Ellington is exclusively a pass catching back and need not be owned at this time unless 3 catch games for 12 yards rustles your jimmies.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett got the start in this one, taking over for Scott ‘Streaming D’ Tolzien. The team is still bad, and T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief are still probably not startable. This is especially true if the team continues to deploy the run-heavy, short dump-off strategy that kept them competitive in this game. If they do, keep an eye on Jack Doyle whose 8 targets are enough to make my eyebrows do this.
Frank Gore passed the eye test, but unfortunately he’s going to be a tough guy to start as long as Andrew Luck is out. You really need him to score a touchdown to be worth starting. This team can’t really support one fantasy running back, and it certainly can’t support more than one. Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin are not worth owning, even as speculative lotto tickets.
Patriots vs. Saints
Tom Brady’s back, baby. He was beating the Saints so consistently and so blatantly that one could almost picture him sitting on their chests, smacking them in the face with their own hands, all the while yelling “Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!” Rob Gronkowski had a big night, though he did drop two catchable balls (including a second TD). He also had an injury scare which is part of the bargain when one drafts the Fiesta. Chris Hogan did this week what everyone hoped he would do last week, though much of his success can be attributed to the fact that the Saints sold out the middle of the field in order to shut down Brandin Cooks. Better days are coming, Cooks owners, keep the faith. Phillip Dorsett had some clutch plays, and by ‘some’ I mean 3. He can stay on your waiver wire for now.
Mike Gillislee got his customary goal-line TD and had another one called back on a penalty. In this game, as in all games going forward, he’ll get the bulk of his carries once the game is firmly in hand with the Pats leading. James White is looking like a weekly flex/RB2. HE has the highest floor of all backs. Rex Burkhead followed Hogan’s lead by having the game that most hoped for last week. He’s the back most likely to explode one week and go silent the next, especially if the rib injury that sidelined him for the second half of the game turns out to be serious.
Drew Brees looked just as sharp as Brady in this game, however he was not helped by his team’s many offensive penalties and by his receivers’ drops. Michael Thomas’ owners probably feel a lot like Brandin Cooks’, but his 18 targets through two games tell me he’ll be just fine going forward. I can’t say the same for perpetual hype magnet Brandon Coleman and I certainly don’t think Ted Ginn Sr. is worth owning. Ginn did have his customary wide-open drop by the way, ask a Carolina fan, they’ll tell you all about the tradition. Coby Fleener has started off hot, but we’ve only got one more game until Willie Snead comes back and wrecks his fantasy value.
Alvin Kamara has started to distinguish himself as the most valuable back in New Orleans, though that still barely makes him rosterable. Brees was taking a lot of deeper shots to him this week which is unusual for any running back not named Rex Burkhead. Mark Ingram is getting the most rushing attempts and a fair amount of targets as well, but he’ll need to nearly double his usage in order to provide a reliable fantasy payoff. Adrian Peterson is the clear third wheel in the backfield. Awkward.
Browns vs. Ravens
To whomever told Corey Coleman that he can strengthen his grip by punching cinderblocks before games, you’ve had your fun, now please tell him the truth. Sigh. As is tradition, when one brown receiver falls, another rises like a phoenix from the ashes. In this case, one Mr. Rashard Higgins. I liked what I saw from this kid, and I always enjoy a good practice squad-to-starter feel good story. Wrap him up, I’ll take him. Seriously though, someone has to catch the ball in Cleveland and it sure isn’t going to be the surly ghost of Kenny Britt who haunts the Brown’s stadium but only on Sundays and only during home games. Nor is it likely to be David Njoku who scored (as tight ends are occasionally known to do), but whose target share is too low for my tastes.
Duke Johnson Jr. has basically become the defacto WR3, and may provide a reasonable return as a bye-week fill in. The Baltimore front 7 ate Isaiah Crowell’s pizza lunchables this week. Regardless, Crowell is a prime buy-low candidate, having faced two of the top run defenses in the league and with a rookie quarterback who is still figuring things out. There are better days ahead, bet on it.
The Raven’s defense may be the best in the NFL this year. I mean, I’ll wait to crown them until they face a decent offense, but wow, they look crack-a-lackin’ through two weeks. On the other side of the ball, Gatling Joe Flacco resumed his pass-heavy ways this week after a bizarre rush-fest in week one. The venerable Benjamin Watson showed the kids how it was done, pacing the team in targets and yards. He may be worth keeping an eye on— He got off to a hot start before his injury last year as well. Jeremy Maclin hasn’t had the volume that many had hoped for when they bought him, but he did score, and he’s the unquestioned WR1 on this team, which has got to be worth something.
Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen has picked up the pass-catching mantle than many hoped would make Danny Woodhead a sneaky flier this year. Allen handily outplayed Terrance West, who would have been a dud this week were it not for a fortunate score. Still, West is simply not #goodatfootball, and owning him was only ever a good idea when he was guaranteed volume, which he is not going forward. In fact, one Alex Collins of 2016 Seahawk fantasy sleeper fame produced double West’s yardage on one fewer carries. I’d grab Collins while you can, because there’s a fantastic chance he takes the early down back role on this offense.
Eagles vs. Chiefs
It’s probably time to pick up Carson Wentz if he’s still on your waiver wire. He’s going to be a top-10 QB this year. Alshon Jeffrey had the game he should have opened the season with in week two, though I’m sure the handful of fantasy managers who started him this week are feeling forgiving. Through two weeks, he leads the team in targets, and seemed to be Wentz’ first look on nearly every play. I’m starting him with confidence till he snaps in half like a human twig. Zach Ertz continued his hot streak which stretches back well into last year, and his 18 targets through the last two games suggest that this fuego mas caliente is likely to continue. At this point he’s legitimately looking like a top-3 tight end through the rest of the season. Some of you went out and acquired Nelson Agholor after his outburst last week. Hang your heads in shame, you should have known better than that. I mean, the guy has two contractor grade two-by-fours for arms.
After making me look very foolish last week, Legarette Blount went back to doing exactly what I predicted he would do, namely, fall down at the first tentative sign of contact. He finished with 1 target for 0 yards. Wendell Smallwood again did little with little, and Darren Sproles got 10 total carries, which is not enough flour with which to bake a fantasy cake. Avoid all three of these guys like your life depended on it.
It looks like opposing defenses will be able to take away Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill, but not both. New England sold out to stop Kelce while Hill dominated, and Philadelphia took Hill away and let Kelce run wild. After throwing for 360 yards and 4 touchdowns, Alex Smith went back to his boring old 250/1 self. You can’t teach an old Smith new tricks it would seem.
Kareem Hunt is starting to feel like 2015 Devonta Freeman. In a week or two his owners will feel cheated in any game where he doesn’t rip off a 50+ yard TD.
Titans vs. Jaguars
Unusually pass-heavy in week one, Tennessee fell back more on the run this week. Marcus Mariota’s legs provide a nice high floor for him, even during weeks where the game script keeps him from throwing much. His favorite target from last week, Corey Davis, left the game with an aggravation of his pre-season hamstring injury, and is of questionable utility for the indefinite future. Personally, I don’t mess with hamstring injuries, as they tend to linger and sap a player’s fantasy effectiveness. Delanie Walker had a pleasing day, though this was mostly due to his gimmicky rushing touchdown. He simply hasn’t been getting the volume to be more than a low end TE1 play. Outside Walker, I’m not convinced that any of the other receivers are worth pursuing on this team. Rishard Matthews is the best of the bunch, but Mariota is spreading the ball around too much to count on him. Eric Decker looked to me as if he were giving it the old one-cheek try. If he’s not going to get consistent red-zone looks (as seems to be the case), then he’s worthless for fantasy purposes.
Demarco Murray got the start, and for the second week in a row played less like Demarco Murray the all pro and more like Demarco Murray the desiccated husk. Supposedly this is because his preseason hamstring injury is lingering (again, stay away from hammy injuries, people). In any case owners should absolutely be concerned about his effectiveness going forward, especially when backup Derrick Henry (who filled in sporadically in the first half and had the backfield to himself the second half) is more than capable of handling the starting job.
I believe that Jacksonville wants to transition to a run-heavy style, but as long as they are consistently trailing (which they will be most weeks), Blake ‘Did I do that?’ Bortles will be hucking with gusto. With Allen Robinson sidelined, Marquis Lee and Allen Hurns are the receivers to own. Hurns put up the higher garbage-time inflated fantasy statline this week, but Lee is the guy I’d rather own, owing to his superior skill and higher target share.
Leonard Fournette’s season long usage is much more likely to resemble week two as opposed to week one, which is fine, though he’s not likely to be the top tier RB1 that some had started to expect. Some analysts are getting all hot and bothered about Chris Ivory after he had six carries this week. He holds no value unless Fournette misses time, and even then maybe not.
Jets vs. Raiders
You know things are grim when Jermaine Kearse is far and away the best receiver on your team. J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! I’ll sign off on Kearse as some volume-based emergency depth, but let’s not plan on him scoring two touchdowns each week, mmmkay? This is especially true considering the imminent return of Austin Seferian-Jenkins whose talent has been hidden behind his love for booze. He’s supposedly sober now, and I’ve been quietly stashing him everywhere I can. In a post-TEpocalypse world, I like the prospect of a talented player who is likely to pace his team in targets.
Bilal Powell, receiving back extraordinaire had 0 catches on 2 targets. He’s not looking like the league-winner many expected. Matt Forte looks like a better weekly play, but that’s only relative to Powell. He’s just not getting enough carries to be relied upon week to week. I wouldn’t start any Jets backs until further notice.
Every time I see teams playing on that ridiculous converted baseball diamond that the Raiders call a football field, a small piece of me dies. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are going to keep swapping big games, just like they do every year. They are almost certainly the best fantasy WR tandem in the league, and both are low end WR1s. This week’s 3-TD outburst should put to rest fears that Crabtree’s red zone target share will start to decline. Notably, 2 of his 3 scores came from the one-yard line. Consequently, Derek Carr is a low end QB1. I’m much less excited about Jared Cook. He’s getting plenty of targets, but the quality of those targets and his middling talent means he’ll be inconsistent week to week.
Marshawn Lynch ‘demoralized’ the Jets when he danced an insensitive dance on the sidelines this week. In other news, Jet’s trainers are still trying to find the prankster who spiked their team water with estrogen. Lynch is not likely to get bell cow carries anytime soon, and it’s annoying to see him lose goal-line carries to the likes of Michael Crabtree, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for him on this high powered offense. In other news, Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington are going to rip off the occasional long touchdown. This happens every year, it doesn’t mean they’re worth owning.
Dolphins vs. Chargers
After declining markedly the past few years and amidst pre-season trade rumors, Jarvis Landry kicked this year off with a bang, notching 15 targets. Holy crap. I was low on Landry coming into the season, and I’m still not totally sold, but I’m absolutely paying attention now. Jay Cutler has a well-deserved reputation for locking onto one receiver, staring them down, and forcing the ball their way, even in double coverage. Devante Parker is that guy for Cutler this year. He rarely had separation on his 9 targets, and yet the ball kept coming his way. Luckily, he’s a talented guy, and was able to make at least one highlight-reel catch over the top of a defender. I like Parker very much going forward. Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas looked like afterthoughts, I wouldn’t count on them producing on any given week.
Jay Ajayi had an absurd 30 touches this week, which was second only to Leveon Bell’s 31. Ajayi looked decisive and crisp, consistently chunking of yardage. Ajayi is another player I’ve been low on coming into the season—he’s dealing with knee pain and we’ve seen him blow up one week only to disappear the next. He’ll be someone I’ll be closely monitoring, but all signs are obviously very positive at the moment.
Phillip Rivers continued to look commanding, and it’s impressive that the guy who paced the league in interceptions last year has yet to throw one through two games (I’m not going to count the obvious pass-interference pick from last week). He’s an every week starter as far as I’m concerned and a solid mid-range QB1. Keenan Allen owners should be excited. The kid is clearly Rivers’ favorite target, and he is the perfect match of talent and opportunity. Averaging 10 targets a game through two weeks, Allen is a WR1 with a safe floor. Hunter Henry surprised me, as he was involved early and often, even in a game where the Chargers were clearly trying to get Antonio Gates a record-tying touchdown. We’ve known for a while that Henry is the future of the lucrative tight end position in LA, but Gates has capped his ceiling until now. Through two games, Gates has looked his age. I have been very low on Henry this year, but I’m paying attention now. Another 8 target game and I’m buying. If another receiver is worth owning on this team, it’s probably Tyrell Williams, though I’m not confident he’ll get consistent enough targets to stay relevant weekly.
The Miami front 7 utterly shut down Melvin Gordon, which is a concern. Still, Gordon made up for ground production with 8 targets for 65 yards through the air and a goal line score. This is a high powered offense, and Gordon is a Swiss-army knife. He’s a top end RB1.
Cowboys vs. Broncos
This game was delayed at the end of the first quarter for well over an hour. This gave the witch doctors Denver had hired enough time to perform their dark voodoo arts on the Cowboys effigy’s they had collected. Fortunately, the local Walmart only had Dak and Elliott dolls.
Dak Prescott was indecisive, frequently making bad decisions. Fortunately for Dez Bryant owners, most of those bad decisions involved forcing the ball his way regardless of coverage. For the second week in a row, Dez was the primary red zone target, and through two weeks he is second only to Deandre Hopkins in targets, with 25. Wow. Speaking of red zone shenanigans, through two games the Cowboys have passed 93% of the time inside the opponent’s 15 yard line. This is nuts given the fact that the fuzzy fellow in the backfield is generally considered to be pretty good. The upshot is this: Dez Bryant is looking like a solid WR1 this year. If Bryant being second among all receivers in targets is surprising, the fact that Jason Witten easily leads all tight ends in targets through two weeks (20) is surprising in the same way that walking into your kitchen in the morning and seeing Witten there eating your cereal would be surprising. What are you doing here? Needless to say, Witten is on the right trajectory to finish the year as a top-3 tight end. He needs to be owned everywhere.
The Denver Broncos stole Ezekiel Elliott’s mojo, and it was an ugly sight. This was a strange game, so owners shouldn’t panic, but still, that red zone pass/run split is perplexing. If it continues we may have a problem going forward.
Trevor Siemian has quietly started the year off white hot. I can’t say that I completely understand it, but I also can’t say that his success has been a fluke. It’s gotten to the point where he probably needs to be owned in most leagues until he shows signs of coming back to earth. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders seem to have a Crabtree/Cooper dynamic to them, with Thomas chunking yardage and Sanders soaking up end zone targets. I’m extremely high on both this year. No other receivers are noteworthy on this team at present.
C.J. Anderson is the unquestioned starter in this backfield, and Jamaal Charles will only show fantasy returns if (when?) Anderson gets injured. Anderson is an every week RB1.
49ers vs. Seahawks
After a surprisingly good week one, the 49ers reminded us that they still have a long ways to go against a touch Seattle defense. Brian Hoyer looked like the human equivalent of wearing socks with sandals—awkward and ineffective. The Seahawks showed that Pierre Garcon can be effectively taken out of play, and in his absence Marquise Goodwin was unable to pick up the slack.
If there is a silver lining here, it’s Carlos Hyde, who somehow produced despite the absence of a passing game. Hyde will be a weekly starter, and he’s valuable even if touchdowns will be few and far between.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, and Jimmy Graham. Keep in mind that Wilson has some of the most distinctive and predictable first/second half season splits in the league. Going back three years, he always sucks it up in September and October before catching fire in November and December. As goes the pass thrower, so goes the pass catchers. Baldwin’s splits mirror Wilson’s and I expect Graham to pick things up later this season as well. I’m not dropping any of these guys, but I am finding short term replacements. You should do the same. Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson have been getting a bit of success recently, and they’re certainly talented players, but this is not a team that can support more than two fantasy receivers, and Baldwin/Graham have first dibs.
Thomas Rawls started in his first game of the season, and immediately gave every manager who has ever owned him a rage stroke. 4 yards on 5 carries! With Eddie Lacy preparing to hibernate for winter and C.J. Prosise not seeing anything near the volume he’d need to be viable, the only fellow left standing is one Chris Carson. I like Carson if his volume stays up, but I am concerned about this team’s feculent offensive line, whose utter ineffectiveness makes everything so much harder than it has to be.
Redskins vs. Rams
Watching Terelle Pryor and Kirk Cousins play together is like watching a giraffe and a walrus dance together. They’re not in sync, and someone keeps stepping on the walrus’ flippers with both left feet. I’m not saying it’s time to be concerned about Pryor, but, well… I mean, is it? I just wish he could give me some glimmer of hope that things will get better. Jordan Reed looked okay, but he also left the game early with an ‘unspecified injury’ (as is tradition). I wish the cute EMT in the medical tent would stop leading him on so he can get back to playing football. Jamison Crowder simply isn’t getting the target volume he’ll need to be viable week to week. I’m fading every player mentioned in this paragraph, and the only ones I would stash on my bench are Pryor and Reed.
Chris Thompson has been making a good living through two weeks as the emergency dump-off option. Still, the vast majority of his production has come on long breakaway plays. I wouldn’t bet on him long term, the volume simply isn’t there. Rob Kelley went out with a rib injury this week, and Samaje Perine Came in and immediately proceeded to unimpress. He’s worth a look as a back who will get plenty of volume if Kelley misses time, but he showed nothing to think he’ll be more than a flex play even then.
After handing the Colts their own severed head in a bag last week, Jared Goff was much less deadly in week two. Washington made shutting down Cooper Kupp a priority, though even so Kupp could have had a much bigger day had he not tripped on his lone red-zone target. Someone you’ve never heard of named Gerald Everett scored a bunch of fantasy points but he doesn’t need to be owned as 1. He’s a rookie tight end, 2. He doesn’t have the weekly targets to succeed, and 3. He got injured in this game. Sammy Watkins continues to disappoint, and is more than droppable.
Having sent the cursed monkey paw he acquired at a market in Marrakech before last season to Jordan Howard, Todd Gurley is ready to reclaim his rightful place as a weekly fantasy RB1. Seriously, Gurley has talent and opportunity; the recipe for fantasy success. He’s the kind of guy who can fumble twice in one game and not get benched.
Packers vs. Falcons
I feel like I should just list the players who didn’t get hurt here. Already without their starting left and right tackles, the Packers lost Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and three or four high impact defensive players over the course of the game. For what it’s worth, Cobb looked very good. Aaron Rodgers was having a really rough time, of it, totaling around 75 total yards and one interception at the half. He was able to salvage his fantasy stat line with a late rally, but still, things looked pretty unpolished for much of the game. Of the two offensive injuries, Nelson is the most likely to miss significant time, and Cobb is the most likely to play through the injury and just be terrible for the rest of the year. Either way, it’s potentially time to invest in Davante Adams and one of either Martellus Bennett, or Geronimo Allison. I’m betting on Allison, who had an impressive preseason. Bennett received fistfuls of targets in this game, but dropped more than half of them.
Ty Montgomery is getting starter’s carries. The last time Green Bay actually used a running back as intended, he finished as a top-6 back (Eddie Lacy in 2014) and I expect the same result for Montgomery this year.
Matt Ryan did a fine job leading his offense to an early lead, though it is worth noting that the traditionally middling Green Bay defense was playing without many of its best players. Julio Jones didn’t have a touchdown, but then again he rarely does. Still, his owners ought to be reasonably content with his 108 yards. Mohamed Sanu was critical in holding several drives together, though it’s unclear if he’ll be used reliably every week going forward. Shockingly, Austin Hooper’s two targets this week produced 121 fewer yards than his two targets last week. He’s a boom or bust dart throw with low usage and can be safely dropped.
Devonta Freeman looked like one of the most talented backs in the league in this game, ducking, weaving, and spinning his way to 100 yards on the dot and 2 touchdowns. He’s in play for RB#1 overall this year. Like an M.C. Escher sketch, something feels wrong about having this team be able to support two fantasy viable running backs. The longer you stare at it, the more confused you become, and yet Tevin Coleman is indeed a legitimate RB2.
Lions vs. Giants
The giants did a pretty good job of shutting down Golden Tate, early, but no one else. Matthew Stafford was aboe to get two quick touchdowns which happened to go to Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron and then Detroit was content to sit on their lead, only attempting to throw six times in the whole second half of the game (two of those attempts resulted in defensive penalties.) Ebron had a big night, but I’m still far from convinced that he will be a regular factor going forward. By the same token, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay barely were featured at all, though Tate had a tough matchup in the slot, and Golladay looked wide open to me for most of the night, things just didn’t break right for him. Through two games, Golladay still has more targets, receptions, and yards than Jones, and the two both have a pair of touchdowns between them. I’m not counting Golladay out just yet.
Ameer Abdullah received more carries this week than he’s ever had in his career. 17. This is his ceiling folks. Meh. Theo Riddick also got more usage than normal, but his real value is in the passing game, and the Lions weren’t passing for most of this one.
Watching the Giants play for the second week in a row has made me wish to have my eyeballs melt out of my skull like the bad guys in Indiana Jones. Evan Engram was the only worthwhile fantasy play this week, but I’m still not picking him up just yet. Brandon Marshall is officially droppable, Odell Beckham Jr. is should be benched until fully healthy. Eli Manning ought to be led out into the forest, given a crispy apple and some salt lick and then sent to horsy heaven.
Paul Perkins will almost certainly be losing whatever his role was to Orleans Darkwa. Both are thoroughly droppable. Ugh, I’m going to go watch Devonta Freeman highlights in order to wash the taste of the Giants out of my mouth.
Awesome write up! I’ll be back next week!
Do you believe that Alvin Kamara is worth a roster spot in 10-man .5 ppr??
Awesome write-up. But please, can you bold player names? It’s so tough to sort through.
can you bold player names?
Great write up, I’ll keep a eye out for this article on /r/fantasyfootball every week.
Great write up! Definitely appreciate your dedication to watch every game and provide us with some valued analysis. That being said, i’m questioning the ‘Coby Fleener will regress when Willie Snead returns’ statement. It seems like this has been plastered all over the internet based on a few games in 2016. What about the differences between 2016 and 2017? Fleener has a year of experience working with the Saints offense now and it is no secret that the TE position is one that typically takes time for a player to get in sync with the team. Then the biggest factor, Brandin Cooks is no longer on the team. I honestly think the return of Snead is going increase production for both Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener. The Saints are at their best when they have enough quality receivers on the field to take advantage of mismatches on defense.
Probably not in a 10 man, unless you have unusually large benches.
The player names are bold, what browser are you viewing on?
Thanks for the encouragement, look for the article sometime on Wednesdays! :-)
Fleener and Snead uprate in the same area of the field, and are likely to compete for targets. Cooks departure has opened up more targets for Thomas, but I don’t think Fleener will benefit much from those :-)
Do you actually watch all these games? Or how do you do these?
I watch the condensed version of each game (every snap lined up one after the other) on one of the pay services the NFL offers. Each NFL game includes only about a half hour of actual play.
Terrance West droppable for Mixon in .5 ppr?
I wouldn’t just yet. We don’t know the extent of Wests injury just yet. If he’s not that hurt, I like him better than Mixon for the time being.
Love this weekly write-up. At this point, who are you higher on moving forward D’Onta Foreman or Alex Collins?
I think Collins probably had s a higher ceiling, since he could conceivably take the job outright. Foreman has a much higher floor, as he is guaranteed carries right now.
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