By Jared Clifton
Week two was…well, it was kind of a pain in the ass honestly. A lot of injuries will have us all scrambling come waiver option time today and hopefully these nuggets will help you as you process where to go next, as we unpack the games and important pieces from week two.
Thursday Night Game
Despite 61 passes from Joe Burrow and 13 targets to AJ Green, Green only came down with 3 catches for 29 yards. Early into the season, it’s promising that Burrow and Green have hooked up for 22 targets total, but they’ve largely looked forced and Green hasn’t shown the crispness and athleticism that he had prior to a string of injuries the past few seasons. The targets will still come in bunches and I expect them to get on the same page eventually, but Tyler Boyd is much more in sync with Burrow and remains the safer play.
Just as we had all but written Baker Mayfield off, he comes in and delivers a vintage Thursday night performance. But, that’s who he is. He has always thrived when he has been written off and loves nothing more than showing up his critics. Well, maybe not more than Cheesecake Factory back alleys, but still. It was against a less than stellar Bengals defense, but for at least one night, Browns fans got to see what a #1 overall pick should feel like. Against a beatable Washington team, he floats into QB2 or SF range.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games
New York Giants:
With Saquon Barkley lost for the season, where does that leave the Giants? This wasn’t a good offense before, but without their spark plug, the fantasy outlook for the remainder of the offense doesn’t look good. If anyone is in a slightly better spot, it’s Evan Engram, as the underneath is now missing a host of typical Barkley routes.
Have a day, David Montgomery! A week after a middling performance against the Lions, Montgomery totaled 127 yards and a touchdown on 19 touches; his best performance since week 8 of last year. It was very promising to see him involved in the passing game and he was really the sole play maker for the Bears on Sunday. Another inviting match-up awaits against the Falcons next week.
Another week, another muddled usage of running backs, with Kerryon Johnson leading the team in carries, Adrian Peterson leading the team in rushing yards and D’Andre Swift leading the whole team in catches. Swift remains the safest due to his pass game usage, but none are all that attractive for the moment.
Green Bay Packers:
For those of us that championed the TD regression talk for Aaron Jones this year, you can feel free to tell us to shut up now. He’s right in line with last year’s ratio of a TD every 8 touches through two games and with this blazing Packers offense, you won’t find me doubting Jones again any time soon.
For the second week in a row, James Robinson dominated the carries among Jacksonville running backs and had a much better showing than in week one. With 120 total yards (102 on the ground), he has secured his spot as the lead back and is even moving closer to RB2 status. He remains safe next week in a game that should be back and forth against Miami.
With AJ Brown missing Sunday’s action, it was expected that both Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis would garner the majority of the looks and they both came through with TDs (Smith with 2) on a highly efficient day from Ryan Tannehill. As teams continue to stack the box against the Titans run offense, both should continue to put up respectable lines, even when Brown returns.
The post-Kevin Stefanski offense in Minnesota hasn’t been good, as they now rank 28th after two weeks. A portion of that are the two early deficits that have killed the game script for Dalvin Cook and the overall running game. The problem there is, he hasn’t been targeted much when the Vikings have trailed and with a date with the efficient Titans offense looming, he’ll need to get more involved in the passing game to start to make his first round price tag look legitimate.
The FAB dollars that were likely spent on Nyheim Hines this past waiver period, paid off to one catch for four yards this week. Frank Reich clearly showed that he wants to ride Jonathan Taylor and he looked the part of a true three down lead back in a comfortable game flow on Sunday. Another big showing should be upcoming, as they play the Jets at home this week.
A week after setting a career high in passing yards, Josh Allen went ahead and tacked on another 105 yards to his previous high, as a follow up. With a clear rapport established in new wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the Bills offense has shown the ability to score at will against two inferior opponents, so this week’s slate against the Rams will be telling on how far the offense and Allen have actually come.
Coming off one of the worst games of his career, Ryan Fitzpatrick righted the ship and looked pretty good against a good Bills defense. In doing so, he brought Mike Gesicki into the forefront as a potential game changer at the tight end position. Fitzpatrick looked Gesicki’s way 11 times and completed 8/130/1 to the rising star. Gesicki now gets a favorable match-up against the Jaguars, who have allowed 13 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends through two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers:
In a game riddled with important injuries, Jordan Reed quietly entered himself back into the tight end conversation. He led the team in targets with 8 and finished the day with two touchdowns. The longevity of his relevance is largely dependent on how long George Kittle is out, but with a team that is now facing Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert missing some time, Reed is a guy that makes sense to scoop up and hope that the 49ers need to rely on him, at least for a few more weeks.
New York Jets:
The clear front runners for worst team in the NFL, we are likely weeks away from the unceremonious firing of Adam Gase. There doesn’t appear to be a winnable game until a week 10 tilt with the Dolphins (***a potentially Drew Lock-less Broncos match-up being a notable exception), so Sam Darnold has his work cut out for him, to remain the guy in New York. The ultra-conservative game plan has not helped Darnold’s development, but without some serious forward progress, he’ll soon be seeing the Ghost of Christmas Future, in Trevor Lawrence.
Los Angeles Rams:
A year after a serious Super Bowl hangover season, the Rams look like a formidable offense again. That bodes well for their real life prospects, but figuring out the backfield distribution and how a talent like Robert Woods gets more carries than catches, will be a continuing battle for fantasy managers. That said, Jared Goff continues to move up the QB rankings and as the picture gets clearer, there will be many fantasy relevant shares coming out of LA this year.
On the other end of quarterback spectrum, Carson Wentz has looked horrid after two games and has fallen off the QB1 radar for the time being. It was nice to see Miles Sanders back and heavily utilized, but the remaining weapons will have to be scrutinized going forward. With a more robust than anticipated tight end field, even Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are going to have to be viewed as back end TE1’s until Wentz gets his game right.
Surprisingly, the Broncos offense put up a good fight against the vaunted Steelers D, even after Drew Lock was knocked from the game early. He is expected to miss several weeks with an AC sprain, so I do expect that to be a decent downgrade over the next few weeks. Melvin Gordon III continues to look like a steady RB2 and would benefit from Jeff Driskell needing to check down the ball more, especially with Courtland Sutton set to miss the rest of the season.
Benny who? The tales of James Conner’s demise were greatly exaggerated, as Mike Tomlin made a concerted effort to get his star running back going early and often. Conner enjoyed 121 total yards on 18 touches and is back in the conversation as a high end RB2, should he remain healthy.
Panthers fans and fantasy managers should breathe a sigh of relief, as it appears Christian McCaffrey escaped serious injury, on a Sunday that was not so kind to other stars. However, he is expected to 4-6 weeks and the Panthers will need better play from new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, in order to elevate decent performances from DJ Moore and Robby Anderson into league winning stat lines, in his absence, as they face two difficult match-ups in the Chargers and Cardinals the next few games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
It wasn’t perfect, but it looked better for the Bucs on Sunday, as they got Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette going. Coupled with a healthy return of Chris Godwin, this has the look of an offense that can sustain multiple high level fantasy shares. It appears that Rob Gronkowski will not be among that group and is largely droppable in all formats.
Sunday Late Afternoon Games
Washington Football Team:
In another mediocre team offensive showing, Washington’s Antonio Gibson did show some promise as the lead back. Outside him and Terry McLaurin, there isn’t a lot to be excited for in Washington, as guys like Steven Sims Jr., JD McKissic and Logan Thomas are too dependent on the yet to be determined progression of Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Kyler Murray is doing Lamar Jackson like things in Arizona and has an inviting six week stretch against less than stellar defensive units to continue his tear through his sophomore breakout campaign. There is no buy low or even buy medium on this guy, but he’s a guy that may very well be worth the price of admission, as he continues as a top 3 QB and gives borderline RB1 numbers to boot.
Kansas City Chiefs:
While it wasn’t ideal to see Clyde Edwards-Hellaire struggle on the ground, after an amazing debut, it was a great sign for his overall usage to see him with 8 targets. He is set up to be a fantastic every down option for the Chiefs going forward and his week two dip may provide an opportunity to get him at a small discount.
Los Angeles Chargers:
The surprise start for Justin Herbert was a double gift for the Chargers and fantasy fans Sunday. While we wish the best for Tyrod Taylor and the mysterious chest injury that shelved him moments before kick-off, we got to see the future early in LA and it was a great show. Herbert looked calm and efficient on his way to a pass and rush TD each and he brought Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen, back into the fold as top fantasy options. Assuming Herbert gets the nod again next week, he has a very attractive match against the Panthers. Grab this guy in dynasty now.
Greg Roman told us all to expect a different rotation and that’s what we got. Gus Edwards was the surprise leading ball carrier and Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins had explosive runs on their carries. So, who’s the guy? Short answer is we don’t know, so unless Edwards is traded, this is a backfield that will puzzle all season long. My advice? Next big game by one of three, try to sell high and get out of that conundrum.
Will Will Fuller please report to the field? Oh, he was on the field for 37 snaps? Well, then I don’t really know what to say to Fuller shareholders. After a great week one showing as the lead receiver, he went into complete oblivion in a game that Deshaun Watson threw the ball 36 times. It’s possible that his hamstring tweak moved him into decoy status, but as the team’s de facto WR1, 0 targets is a concerning stat going forward.
Sunday Night Game
New England Patriots:
It seems illogical that Cam Newton waited on the free agent heap for so long, as he has been vintage Cam through two weeks. Coming three yards shy of his first 400 yard passing performance since his second game of his pro football career, he was a force at the goal line and came within a foot of having his third rushing TD of the game, as time expired. In a year where several QB’s have shined early, very few have shined brighter than Newton.
The likely front runner for NFL MVP, Russell Wilson was spot on in a game that resembled more of the Pete Carroll balanced attack, showing that the Seahawks have duality and that will make Wilson a top QB all year long. Also positive is the continued usage of Chris Carson in the pass game, as Carroll has deployed him very similarly to the way the Packers use Aaron Jones. Carson has sneaky RB1 upside in this offense.
Monday Night Game
New Orleans Saints:
A sloppy game doomed the Saints on Monday night, as Drew Brees and Co. struggled at times to get things going without Michael Thomas on the field. Alvin Kamara did his best to do it all, finishing with 174 total yards and two touchdowns on 9 catches and 13 carries. Kamara moves up to the top 3 of backs, with Barkley done for the season and CMC due to miss 4-6 weeks. He could bring a huge haul to panicked managers, coming off this huge showing.
Las Vegas Raiders:
In the first ever game in Las Vegas, Derek Carr put on a show, outplaying Drew Brees at nearly every turn. With the Saints focused on keeping Josh Jacobs in check, Carr spread the ball around to eleven different pass catchers and came through with 282 yards and 3 touchdowns and has completed over 70% of his passes with no turnovers to begin the year. He’s the perfect streamer or SuperFlex going forward.
I’ll be back with The Hurry Up Offense on Saturday night, but in the meantime, send me any start/sit or FAB questions on Twitter @unstuckintime82 or to the gang @rideordynasty.
Jared Clifton – Host of Cover 3 Podcast, Editor, Writer
Ride or Dynasty