Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books, and we’ve still got as many questions as we have answers. Here’s the good, the bad, and the oh so ugly for Week 2.
1) Dalvin Cook is proving to be an absolute stud. Through two games, Cook has pounded the ground for 265 yards and three TDs on 41 carries. He looks fully healthy and is finally getting the workload that we had hoped for last season. Cook only exceeded 20 fantasy points in one game last year; he has scored more than 25 points in each of the first two weeks. It is early in the season, but Cook seems like the steal of the draft and could be a league-winner for those that believed in his talent.
2) Austin Ekeler has filled in very nicely for holdout Melvin Gordon. He is not turning heads for the work he is doing on the ground, but he is an absolute PPR machine. Ekeler is being used as a workhorse in the Chargers offense and has proven that he can handle the load. Through two weeks, Ekeler has the most receiving yards, total touchdowns, and PPR points at the position. He will continue to be a great start for fantasy owners until Gordon ends his holdout. Those of us that picked up Ekeler late in drafts are really hoping that Gordon holds out as long as possible!
3) Lamar Jackson is killing it both on the ground and through the air. In Week 1, we witnessed Jackson destroy the Miami defense through the air. In Week 2 against the Cardinals, Jackson ran for 120 yards while also passing for 272 yards and two TDs. He has yet to face a strong defense, but he has done everything that the Ravens have asked of him. As a rookie, Jackson’s consistency and rushing ability gave him a high fantasy floor, but he was never a week-winner. Now two weeks into his sophomore breakout campaign, he has already put up two massive fantasy weeks in a row. Those who took a chance on him late in drafts are very happy with their decision.
Lamar Jackson’s fantasy production as an NFL starter.
1) Damien Williams has been underwhelming on the ground, rushing 22 times for just 34 rushing yards. His 1.5 yards per carry ranks him 65th among all RBs. The silver lining for fantasy owners is that Williams is drawing ample targets in the passing game. He has caught nine balls for 87 receiving yards through the first two weeks. Williams earned 39 out of 75 offensive snaps in Week 2, while LeSean McCoy was in on 30 offensive plays. That’s not the snap count percentage you want to see from an RB drafted in the first three rounds. Both Williams (knee) and McCoy (ankle) got injured in week 2, and we will have to keep an eye on their progress through the week. If needed, you can continue to start Williams in PPR leagues due to his receiving floor, but it will be difficult for Andy Reid to increase his snap count if he does not start producing on the ground.
2) Duke Johnson’s usage is starting to become a big concern. Many were happy when the Texans signed Carlos Hyde, as he was not seen as a threat to take away work from Johnson. But in Week 2, Hyde out-carried Johnson 20 to 6. Johnson was in on 39% of offensive snaps, while Hyde was in for 61% of snaps. Deshaun Watson is not known to use his running backs in the passing game, and through two games he has only targeted Johnson six times.1 Johnson’s fantasy numbers look no different from his time as a backup in Cleveland, and it is going to be hard to trust him on a week to week basis. Fantasy owners should hold Johnson for now, but he he won’t sniff my starting lineup until we see his usage increase significantly.
3) Cam Newton’s rushing floor has completely disappeared. Newton averaged 39 rushing yards per game throughout his career. Through two games in 2019, he has rushed for -2 rushing yards. Eli Manning has 10 more rushing yards than Newton so far this season. Yikes. Carolina’s offense has not been able to move the ball consistently while Newton has been dropping back far more than usual. Could Newton’s low rushing volume be due to a lingering health issue? Newton has been nearly impossible to trust since injuring his shoulder late last season. When healthy and running the ball, Cam Newton’s ceiling is the overall QB1. But when he is not able to produce on the ground, his ceiling is non-existent, and his floor is quite low. At this point, fantasy owners need to find a replacement in their starting lineups.
The Oh So Ugly:
1) Mitch Trubisky’s performance in Denver was … umm, let’s go with “yucky” to be kind. Trubisky’s career outlook seems to be pointed the opposite direction as fellow draft-mates Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. In week 2, Trubisky threw for 120 yards and zero TDs while only adding eight yards on the ground. He has scored less than 13 fantasy points in five of his last six starts. If you held onto him after Week 1, it is officially time to drop him.
2) Donte Moncrief’s woes continue as a Pittsburgh Steeler. 95 WRs have earned at least five targets through two weeks. Out of those 95 receivers, Donte Moncrief ranks dead last in PFF receiving grade with a score of 43.3. It hurts my eyes watching him try to catch a ball. Steelers QBs have a rating of 1.7 when targeting Moncrief, which is impossibly bad. Ben Roethlisberger did not target Moncrief in Week 2 after targeting him 10 times in Week 1. When Mason Rudolph entered the game, he immediately targeted Moncrief. It was a great pass from Rudolph; however, Moncrief tipped the ball in the air, and Seattle made the interception. He was not targeted again for the remainder of the game. I expect to see less and less of Moncrief each week — or at least a girl can dream. Moncrief has not produced more than 9.7 PPR points since Week 10 of last season. Feel free to drop him onto waivers, where he will likely stay for the rest of the season.
3) Devonta Freeman has only rushed for 41 yards on 19 attempts so far this season. Atlanta hyped up Freeman and his health all offseason, getting fantasy owners excited that they would see the 2015-2017 version of Freeman this year. Instead, Ito Smith has 23 more rushing yards on nine fewer rushing attempts. Freeman has been on the field for 55% of offensive snaps while Smith has been on the field for 44.5% of snaps. This backfield has been a full-blown RB committee, which is not a good sign for Freeman’s future fantasy outlook. He is currently the RB44 in PPR formats, and if you can trade his name still for a decent value, I would jump on it. Otherwise, you will have to stash him while you hope to see his workload increase over the next few weeks.
Image Credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Dalvin Cook.
- Johnson had zero receptions off of one target vs. the Jaguars. (back)