As I was writing this week’s recap, one of my dogs came up, sneezed all over my foot, and walked away. It was a solid reminder that as good as things may be going for me, to my dogs, I am nothing more than a snot janitor. With a number of studs sneezing on our proverbial feet in Week 2 (I am looking at you, entire 49ers roster), somebody needs to make sense of the mess. As ever, I am here to be your Kleenex and help sort through the madness of this past weekend.
Patriots 13, Jets 10
Despite how poorly the Patriots receivers fared (Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins combined for 6.2 million drops), I still am drinking the juice. Rob Gronkowski is almost back, Danny Amendola should hopefully be healthy (for him) soon, and I have to believe that the Pats rookies played their worst game of the season. Tom Brady may not justify some folk’s preseason number three ranking, but I have faith he finishes in the top five.
While we are on the topic of disappointing New England players, Steven Ridley once again did nothing to help his owners. But I am still buying. The Jets front seven looked great, and it isn’t like they were dropping six into coverage to double all the Patriot receivers. Instead, the Jets were able to stack the box and make Brady throw. Things don’t get easier next week as New England hosts the Buccaneers, but for the season I am remaining strongly in camp Ridley.
The difference between Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory is Starks. As in, Ivory is one James Starks better than Powell. (Yes, I recycled that joke from my twitter feed, @jeff218miller.) It is hard to watch this continue to be a timeshare when the former Saint could be a weekly RB2 if he had 15-plus touches, but until the Jets coaching staff realizes they should not be throwing the ball 35-plus times a game, I don’t have much hope that it changes.
Buy - Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and both rookies (as mid-season stashes)
Sell - All the Jets receiving options. Every week one of them may be worth a play, but good luck guessing who and when.
Hold - Ivory
Bills 24, Panthers 23
I am already seeing some Cam Newton questions floating around the net. A lot of the concern seems to stem from the Panthers unwillingness to call designed runs for their star quarterback. To me, the bigger concern is the uber-conservative play calling as a whole. After being third in the league with 8 yards per pass attempt last season, Newton’s current YPA of 5.8 has him ranked in the 30s. I am a bit concerned considering this is offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s MO, but Cam is just too good not to improve.
DeAngelo Williams continues to be serviceable, if not exactly awe inspiring. He also continues to be inefficient, ranking very poorly in NEP per rush attempt. But as long as Carolina keeps feeding him the ball, none of that matters. He is locked into flex viability with a 7-8 point weekly expectation and little upside for much more.
There isn’t much to say about the victorious Bills. Stevie Johnson had a nice game, but he is still the same guy as he always was: a low-end WR2. His teammate C.J. Spiller saw 20 touches for 129 yards. He ceded a touchdown to the old man, Fred Jackson, but as long as he is getting the ball so much, his ADP will be well justified.
Buy - Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, and Cam Newton.
Sell - Ron Rivera. What more does this guy have to do to get fired?
Hold - For the second straight week, DeAngelo Williams.
Bears 31, Vikings 30
Chicago’s offense continues to look like it could be a force once they get their legs fully under them. Jay Cutler looked brilliant at times and awful at others, but at the end of the game he had a solid fantasy performance. If he can spend more time being the Jay of the second half last week and the first half this week, he will warrant high-end QB2 consideration.
For the second straight week the Bears spread it around, with three players having nine or more targets. Matt Forte looks like he could catch 75 balls and Martellus Bennett is solidifying himself as a red zone force. There is a lot of fantasy goodness here.
Those of you who were patient with Greg Jennings saw that he can still perform with a terrible quarterback throwing it to him. You could do much worse than having him as the first guy off your bench in standard leagues. In PPR, he is flex worthy.
Buy: Martellus Bennett. Check the health of his shoulder before you get too excited, but he is clearly a big part of this offense.
Sell: All Vikings not named Peterson, Jennings or Blair Walsh. Christian Ponder is holding this team back and making most of their roster inconsequential.
Hold: Alshon Jeffery. He may have WR3 upside, but his use is uneven right now. Until we see consistency, stash him at the end of your bench.
Packers 38, Redskins 20
For the second straight game, RG3’s owners were bailed out by garbage time. The good news is that their secondary is going to keep giving the offense plenty of opportunity to play catch up. The bad news is that Griffin does not look like himself. He is not stepping into throws, running the ball, or playing with much confidence. You have to think this will improve with time, but facing off against Detroit’s vicious pass rush next week won’t help matters.
Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris both had nice games. Morris would be a top-10 back if he could get more than 12 or 13 carries a game, but as long as he isn’t touching it, Garcon will. Pierre had huge game on Sunday with an 8-143-1 line on 13 targets. He is Griffin’s most reliable receiver and as such will keep seeing and abundance of balls thrown his way.
Aside from Eddie Lacy leaving with a concussion on his first carry, the Packers can be summed up rather succinctly: Start all of them all the time in any matchup.
Buy - Every Green Bay Packer
Sell - Fred Davis. His ownership percentage is already low, but it isn’t low enough.
Hold - RG3
Dolphins 24, Colts 20
I am aware that numberFire doesn’t think too highly of Ryan Tannehill. This is probably based largely on his poor NEP figures from 2012 when he ranked ahead of only Mark Sanchez in NEP/pass attempt. But that was then, and this is now. While he is still not a fantasy starter, he is squarely on the radar in deep, two-quarterback, and dynasty leagues. More importantly to most folks, his play is bringing value to a number of offensive options in Miami:
-Charles Clay has had two nice games, but it is still difficult to see him as anything more than a TE2 flier. But if you are struggling at tight end, you could do worse than taking a shot on Clay.
-Brian Hartline had solid Brian Hartline-type game. If you are in a PPR league you could do worse.
-Lamar Miller is another unpopular player around here. However, like Tannehill, he is showing improvement in his 2nd year. I watched a good portion of this game and Miller looked spry and explosive. He is a strong weekly flex who maintains RB2 upside.
The big news in Indy was the loss of Vick Ballard for the season. Ahmad Bradshaw stepped in and had a solid, if unspectacular, game. With the Colts striving for offensive balance, he provides great value at flex, especially in PPR leagues.
T.Y. Hilton had his 2013 coming out party. You would hope this is the last we have seen of the Darrius Heyward-Bey as a starter experiment. Hilton offers vastly superior talent, athleticism, and production to the former Raider. As long as he is getting targets, Hilton is in low end WR2 territory.
Buy - Bradshaw as a high-end flex/low-end RB2
Sell - Mike Wallace. He is still an inconsistent performer and a poor fit for this offense. Find somebody who is a buyer and see if you can make a deal.
Hold - Coby Fleener had himself a nice game, but as long as Dwayne Allen is around, it is hard to have confidence in it happening consistently.
Chiefs 17, Cowboys 16
This was the least interesting game of the week from a fantasy perspective. There were no surprises or injuries, and even the disappointments (Jason Witten, Miles Austin) were somewhat predictable given the matchup.
Aside from a big day from Dez Bryant, the Cowboys didn’t get a lot done in Arrowhead. Considering that the Chiefs are looking to be one of the better defenses in the NFL, I wouldn’t look too much into it.
Dwayne Bowe had a nice day thanks to a second half touchdown. It would be good to see him be more of a focal point of the offense. Hopefully that comes along with time as Alex Smith gets more proficient in Andy Reid’s offense.
Jamaal Charles is looking very much like LeSean McCoy from years past. He caught eight of 10 targets and carried the ball 16 times on his way to over 100 total yards and a touchdown.
Buy - Andy Reid’s utility belt. Even Batman is jealous of that thing.
Sell - Andy Reid’s mustache. Wilford Brimley called, he wants his look back.
Hold - Tony Romo (literally). My sister-in-law is right, he is awful handsome.
Chargers 33, Eagles 30
Philip Rivers has put up great numbers the first two weeks, albeit against Houston’s middling pass defense and the Eagles leaky secondary (and abject lack of a pass rush). But if I am completely honest, this whole thing feels like an awful lot like a trap… If you feel the need to add Rivers, I get it. But let’s not get cute and start him over a legitimate top-15 option.
The story of Ryan Mathews’ 2013 season has already been written. He is a two-down back who runs hard but has limited upside. As long as he can’t pass block and they don’t trust him as a receiver, you can hope for 15 or so carries a week. If San Diego gets down early, it will be much less. But as long as they are in games, he is worth a flex play.
The Chargers receiver situation is a mess. With Malcom Floyd out for the foreseeable future after being taken off the field on a stretcher, there is no clear number one option. A lot of people wanted that to be Vincent Brown, but it hasn’t happened. Those of you screaming “EDDIE ROYAL” at your computer screens need to take a Xanax. He is definitely somebody who should be owned, but I can’t think of a scenario where I would be comfortable starting him in a 12-team league. Check back on numberFire later this week as I will be writing longer and more eloquently about the NFL’s current touchdown leader.
There were no real surprises in the Eagles offensive performance. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson once again posted monstrous days. But thus far, the Eagles have faced two pretty poor defenses. We should get a much better idea how good they really are this coming Thursday as they host the Chiefs and their stingy D.
Buy - Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson as every week starters
Sell - Philip Rivers. I am sticking to my guns on this one.
Hold - Antonio Gates. He looked spry on Sunday in Philly. If he repeats against a team with something other than two statues at safety, I am a buyer.
Ravens 14, Browns 6
According to reports, Torrey Smith ran all sorts of routes against Joe Haden and the Browns. This is a departure for him, but is a very encouraging sign for his prospects for 2013 and beyond. If the Ravens finally start using him in other ways, his value will take a nice leap up.
Marlon Brown is the only other Raven’s pass catcher worth mentioning. He had a solid, low-volume game that was saved by a short touchdown. He should be owned in all leagues, but isn’t much more than a bye week fill in with some redzone upside.
If Ray Rice misses time with his hip flexor, Bernard Pierce should be started in all leagues. He won’t catch the ball like Rice, but he is a very good runner who is more than able to hold down the fort.
While the Brown’s defense continues to impress (start them against the Vikings next week), Brandon Weeden is really holding back the offense. Hopefully his returning young stud receiver, Josh Gordon, helps take the top off defenses and gives both Weeden and Trent Richardson some room to operate. If not, the Browns and their second year running back from Alabama are a threat to continue to disappoint.
Buy - Jordan Cameron as a potential top-5 tight end.
Sell - Joe Flacco. I don’t even want him in a two-quarterback league.
Hold - Richardson will put up better numbers as the season progresses. But it may be time to start considering his upside in 2013 isn’t what we once thought.
Texans 30, Titans 24
As we have been predicting right along, Matt Schaub is having a very good fantasy season. Arian Foster’s troubles (he has not looked anything like himself) are helping Schaub’s value, but the main contributing factor is his efficiency with the ball. Having a young, breakout wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t hurt either. Hopkins is owned in only 61 percent of ESPN leagues, a number that is about to skyrocket. If Andre Johnson misses time with what we think is a concussion, Hopkins is a WR3 with upside.
Despite Foster looking a step slow, he did what he always does and scored a short touchdown. As long as the Texans keep feeding him the ball at the goal line he, will continue to be an RB1.
The Titan’s declared that Kendall Wright needed to be more involved and they stayed true to their word. He saw a team-high 11 targets, catching seven for 54 yards and a touchdown. But as I said in last week’s recap, the receiving situation is muddled at best. Jake Locker is not a good NFL quarterback and the Titan’s have three legitimate options to throw it two. Add in Chris Johnson’s 20-25 weekly touches and you find yourself an untenable WR situation.
Buy - Matt Schaub and DeAndre Hopkins
Sell - Chris Johnson. He has a 3.3 YPC average and faces the Jets, Chiefs, Seahawks, and 49ers in four of his next five games. Those four defenses are holding their opponents to a combined 3.1 YPC.
Hold - Arian Foster
Cardinals 25, Lions 21
This past week, I was simply blown away by the love Joique Bell was getting in the Questions section of numberFire. So let me be clear about something: Week 1 was a significant aberration. Week 2 is a much better representation of Bell’s true value. Can we all agree to be a bit more reasonable now?
In other Lions running back news, Reggie Bush left the game twice with a knee injury.
Warning: Joique Bell value overreaction is incoming.
And just when I got you all calmed down…
OK, so Reggie hurt his knee. It didn’t look like much and according to the man himself, it doesn’t seem to be too serious. If the MRI comes back negative, we should not expect to see more than a week or two of significant touches from Bell. During such a time if it happens, he warrants RB2 consideration in PPR leagues and is a flex play in standard.
Andre Ellington is an interesting potential pickup this week. He seems to have moved to the RB2 slot in Arizona, which isn’t a bad place to be when Rashard Mendenhall is the starter. If nothing else, Ellington could provide some deep league PPR pop as the Cardinals lead third down back. He may be worth a stash if you have room on your bench.
Larry Fitzgerald pulled a Roddy White by playing when he was too hurt to be productive. Unless he practices in full by Friday, I would strongly consider benching him next week.
Buy - Alka Seltzer. If you own Bush or Fitzgerald, your week three lineup decisions are likely to cause indigestion.
Sell - Your soul to the Devil in return for their good health.
Hold - Rashard Mendenhall. He looks like a legit, low-end flex option through two weeks. I am not ready to buy it fully for obvious reasons (injury potential, poor offensive line, throw first team, he is Rashard Mendenhall).
Saints 16, Buccaneers 14
What an ugly, ugly game. Drew Brees did not play well, the Saint’s running game was a sham, Marques Colston was super quiet (until the very end of the game, anyway, when he caught a huge 31-yard pass), Josh Freeman was awful, and Mike William’s caught only two of six targets for nine yards.
Can we just move on? OK, good.
Buy - Vincent Jackson. No matter how bad his quarterback plays, he always gets the ball.
Sell - Mark Ingram
Hold - Mike Williams
Raiders 19, Jaguars 9, Fans 0
The biggest news from this game is Maurice Jones-Drew’s injured ankle. On Sunday, MJD’s direct backup was 2011 6th rounder, Jordan Todman. With the Jags offensive line opening zero holes in two games, he is unplayable. Oh, and by the way, next week they travel to Seattle. Captain Obvious says, “This is a situation to avoid.”
Terrelle Pryor showed why I said not to get cute with him last week. Sure, he rushed for 50 yards, but he only threw for 126 and didn’t have a touchdown. All this was against a bottom five NFL defense. Pryor is going to be very inconsistent at times since he lacks the throwing ability and weapons of other running quarterbacks. I am much less on board with him than just about anybody I know.
Speaking of players I am not on board with, Darren McFadden had a nice game on Sunday. He ran for 129 yards on only 19 carries, a near seven yard per carry average. He added to his totals with 28 receiving yards and four receptions. It will be much tougher sledding next week against a Bronco’s defense that has allowed only 81 total rushing yards in two games.
Buy - Nobody. Seriously.
Sell - Everybody. Darren McFadden especially. His value will never be higher.
Hold - Cecil Shorts. He has so much talent. I just hope they figure out a way to get him the ball with some consistency.
Broncos 41, Giants 23
I should preface what I am about to say by telling you that I do not own David Wilson in any leagues. Now that we got that out of the way, can somebody tell me what the Giants were thinking giving Brandon Jacobs the same amount of touches (seven) as Wilson? How hasn’t every member of the coaching staff been fired? I just can’t see how they can continue to justify this when they are 0-2 and have no semblance of a running attack.
So with all that said, I am a (tentative) buyer on Wilson for the remainder of the season. If I owned him, his first productive game of the season would be on my bench (I need to see it to believe it), but he way too talented in comparison to their other backs to continue to get this treatment.
Eli Manning played pretty poorly, but still provided Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Brandon Myers with solid statistical days. The interceptions hurt, but as long as they can’t run, Eli will have to throw.
Knowshon Moreno may have just locked up the gig for at least the near future. Ronnie Hillman was a complete non-factor and Montee Ball fumbled away his chance early in the first quarter. Moreno could be entering flex-worthy status, especially next week against the Raiders.
In the sure-to-be-weekly wide receiver statistical carousel, Eric Decker led the way in targets (13) and receptions (9). Julius Thomas had another nice effort, confirming that he belongs in the TE1 discussion.
Buy - David Wilson. This is not some ringing endorsement, but his value is surely as low as it will be all year. Things have to get better.
Sell - Brandon Jacobs
Hold - Rueben Randle. He is fourth in line for targets, so there will be weeks like this.
Seahawks 29, 49ers 3
You can ignore everything that happened to the 49ers last night; It is by far the worst game they will have all year. There is nothing to be learned, nothing to panic about, and really nothing to take away except that Seattle is nearly untouchable at home.
Seattle’s defense was simply dominant. Because of that, the only thing they really did on offense was run the ball. And boy did they. Marshawn Lynch had a monster game with three touchdowns on 135 total yards. Nothing else really happened for their offense, but it didn’t need to.
Buy - Seattle’s defense in Seattle. Avoid playing everybody but your studs against them.
Sell - Lightning. How many games are you going to mess up this year?
Hold - Frank Gore. He has not looked particularly good to my eyes in either game this year. Watch him closely in a much easier home game against the Colts in week 3.