Fantasy Football: Early Season Takeaways
Well, Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books. If your fantasy football team survived the rash of injuries then you scored a victory regardless of your team’s output. There were some surprises in Week 1 and a few clarifications during Week 2. Let’s take a look at how some of those surprises from Week 1 fared and if the hot names rebounded.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Minshew was the talk of the town after a few starts last season. His swagger, play making ability and mustache were a thing of beauty. Late in the season he struggled, throwing for over 210 yards only once in the last five games. After blowing up the team, many thought the Jaguars would be the laughing stock of the NFL, but Minshew had other plans. He has played fearlessly and the team’s offense has performed. I expect his numbers to flourish as they will be playing from behind most of the season. Minshew-mania is alive and well and the man continues to provide smiles and inspiration.
Aaron Rodgers ,QB, / Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
Drafting Jordan Love in the first round signaled that the end of Aaron Rodgers time in Green Bay must be around the corner. No fantasy sites had him anywhere near the top of the fantasy draft board. How Rodgers became a sleeper was flabbergasting to me.
Clearly the man reinserted the chip on his shoulder, if it ever even left. He threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1, smashing the Vikings, who many saw as the favourite in the division. He followed up with 240 yards and two touchdowns in their Week 2 their drubbing of another divisional foe in the Lions. It was fairly evident that Rodgers has a BFF in Davante Adams, feeding him a whopping 17 targets for 14 receptions, 156 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
Adams pulled up with a slight injury in Week 2 but it appears to be nothing serious. Unfortunately, as a Bears fan, I believe Rodgers and Adams will continue to set the league on fire if both are healthy. Their chemistry is second to none.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen and Diggs were arguably the most dynamic WR duo in the NFL. With Diggs being traded to Buffalo, it left a proven veteran in Thielen to potentially be a target hog while the highly touted rookie, Justin Jefferson, acclimates to life in the NFL.
Many were down on Thielen since losing his speedy counterpart, but the man is the epitome of an NFL wide receiver, with great hands and supreme route running ability. He delivered in Week 1, doubling his teammates’ target share with eight targets, turning those into six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
While Week 2 saw his QB, Kirk Cousins, falter, Thielen had another eight targets but those translated into a measly three catches for 31 yards. Cousins will feed Thielen and defenses know this. However, Minnesota’s offense is too potent to struggle like they did in Week 2. Cousins will need to trust his other receivers or expect more down games for Theilen. Moving forward I expect Minnesota to make the adjustments they need to get their team back to form. Veteran’s like Cousins and Theilen won’t be held down for long.
Odell Beckham, WR, Cleveland Browns
He stunk on the field and on Twitter in Week 1. However, facing a porous defense in Cincinnati offered a chance at a nice recovery. If Baker Mayfield and his talented cast couldn’t get it together this week, it was a clear indicator that this season could be a potential disaster.
Targets were not the problem Week 1, it was off target throws that doomed Beckham’s numbers. He caught just 3-of-10 passes for a measly 22 yards without a score. In Week 2 versus the Bengals he caught 4-of-6 targets for 74 yards and a touchdown, including blowing by a defender and scored on a 43 yard bomb. It was a beautiful throw and exactly what Browns fans thought would become the norm when Beckham came to town.
Most expected more from the duo last season. Poor coaching and inconsistent QB play was to blame. What is the excuse this season? If Beckham could put together huge games with Eli Manning in the saddle, why can’t he with Mayfield? The two have never appeared to be on the same page. This would be considered a mediocre game back when Beckham was in NY, but now it’s a breakout game in Cleveland? If you’re banking on Beckham, you may be in trouble.
TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Yikes. Hilton has struggled thus far. While reports stated that Rivers and the star WR had built a connection prior to the season starting, it’s clear that they have a way to go. Week 1 saw T.Y. bring in 4-of-9 targets for 53 yards. The targets were there, yet the output was not. Week 2 saw only five targets with three catches for 28 yards. Hilton also dropped a 44 yard touchdown in Week 2.
While these numbers are worrisome, let’s remember Hilton’s track record and also the lack of talent around him. Only rookie Michael Pittman and the tight ends are there to take away targets right now. It can also take a little time for a new quarterback to get on the same page as a wide receiver. I expect these veteran players to work hard this week and bury the New York Jets this weekend. If they can’t get it together versus the Jets, then it may be time to hit the panic button.
Los Angeles Rams Backfield
The Rams stunned the NFL world by upsetting the favored Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Leading the Rams backfield was perhaps the least talented of their runners, Malcolm Brown. Brown rushed 18 times for 79 yard and two touchdowns. Rookie Cam Akers had 14 carries for a measly 39 yards, and way down on the totem pole was Darrell Henderson, last season’s hype train who tallied six yards on three carries.
Brown is the least explosive of the three runners but will gladly grind out the tough yards. While I see him continuing to get the goal line work, I don’t see him dominating carries with the other two talented backs on his heels.
My Week 1 analysis was spot on, as in Week 2 Brown split the carries nearly 50/50 with Henderson. Akers left early with a rib injury. If you thought you may have hit the jackpot on waivers with Brown, guess again. Perhaps Henderson will finally get his opportunity as he turned 12 carries into 81 yards and a score. Henderson has burst, and needs to be on the field. It seems each back has value to the team, which may translate to each of them having little fantasy value. While injuries may thrust Henderson into a near every down role, I don’t see it lasting. I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting any of them on a weekly basis, but they each may be serviceable to fill in or play in the flex if needed.
Miami Dolphins Backfield
If anyone told you that Myles “Sandman” Gaskin would be leading this team in carries after Week 2 I would have called that the most bold prediction in all of fantasy. Why would you bring in two running backs with strong track records (Jordan Howard and Matt Breida) only to play your in-house, late round draft pick from the previous season?
Yes, I did draft Gaskin in the last round of my dynasty league last year and thought I may have a potential stud on my hands. Instead, when the backfield went awry, they handed all the carries to Patrick Laird! Perhaps that is why Gaskin was not on my radar. Gaskin must have shown very well in training camp to usurp the two proven ball carriers.
Howard was a late round pick I was in love with, as the man has run for a ton of yards in his career. It appears Howard’s only role is the goal line and Gaskin even has more receptions than Breida, who was seen as the pass catching RB in this offense. Moving forward, it appears the only one worth owning is Gaskin. I don’t see him faltering. He has the opportunity and I’m confident he will run with it.
There are many intriguing headlines coming into week 3, especially with all the injuries. Mike Davis should be a solid option while McCaffrey recovers from injury. I wouldn’t trust any RB in the NY Giants backfield right now. My guess is that Devonta Freeman will eventually lead that team in carries, they did pay him $3 million dollars. I like rookie WR Hamler to step in and get a healthy amount of targets for the Denver Broncos now that Sutton is done for the year, he may be worth grabbing if he’s still around. McKinnon should have a heavy workload this week with Mostert and Coleman out, but don’t be surprised if he’s limited due to injury concerns and Wilson ends up getting half the carries. Mullens (49ers) and Driskell (Lions) should sling it around and both showed last season that they are capable back ups. If you’re desperate, they’re both serviceable. Good luck this week!