By: Justin Lynch
Lynch is back with the highs and the lows of week 2 in fantasy football.
Fitzgerald followed up a 6-87 week one with a 8-112-3 week two. I’m not someone who puts much stock into three touchdown games, because that will likely be his only one of the season, but Fitzgerald has my attention. I said last week that I’m not sure if you can trust anyone on Arizona. Fitzgerald is starting to change my mind. Though I’m still not sold on him, it’s tough to deny that he’s Carson Palmer’s top option. And Palmer’s playing pretty well. Fitz will not return to form, don’t get the wrong idea, but he really might be good enough to be a weekly starter.
Matthews did not record a reception until late in the fourth quarter, but he still managed to go 6-80-1. Coming off of a 10-100 performance, Matthews has to be talked about as a top-10 WR. Great fantasy players can get points in different ways. Matthews was shut out most of the game, but still managed to match his week one output (in PPR leagues). Week one saw high volume targets and big yardage, whereas week two was saved by a garbage time touchdown. Matthews is becoming one of those guys that you’re just waiting for him to get his points. He will still have down games, but there aren’t many guys who will catch three or four straight passes on one drive and create a solid fantasy day for himself off of that one stretch. Matthews has shown he can be one of those guys, and he’s dangerously close to being mentioned as one of the top fantasy receivers.
Murray grinded out 65 yards and a TD against a tough Ravens defense. He also caught all three of his targets for 22 yards. Nearly 90 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown is very solid against a tough Ravens D, though they are without Suggs. What’s really good to see, however, is Derek Carr throwing the ball well. They have Crabtree and Cooper on the oustide and, with Carr’s ability to get them the ball, teams can no longer stack the box and dare the Raiders to throw. Murray will see more running room as a function of the improved passing game. He also is clearly the starter and a three-down back who even gets the goal-line carries, and, in today's NFL, there’s something to be said in that.
I know he didn’t play. I know he’s out two more weeks. But, listen. Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards in week one and then threw for 369 in week two. Williams is running well, so it’s not as if they need to pass because the absence of Le’Veon Bell is causing their run game to be nonexistent. Besides, Bell makes a big difference in the receiving game, as well. Antonio Brown is a monster, we all know that. But Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have been less than impressive. Take away a 35-yard TD to DHB, and Wheaton and DHB together had five catches for just over 100 yards. Neither of these guys are game changers, and neither are showing any reason they should remain in the lineup when Bryant returns. Bryant will come back into an offense that’s firing on all cylinders and become the number two target. He will be going against number two corners every week, and he has the talent that Wheaton and Heyward-Bey don’t have that will allow him to take advantage of the matchups. Bryant might still be out, but his stock is rising fast.
You may have noticed the omission of Matt Jones in the first section. That’s because we really don’t know what to expect from him going forward. What we do know is Jones just outgained Morris by 64 yards on one more carry, and Jones was the go-to in the red zone. Jones’ 6.5 yards/carry is a great game against a top front seven, but Morris’ 3.2 yards/carry in the same game, on almost the exact same number of carries, is concerning to say the least. I don’t know how good Matt Jones will be, but this will be a committee for the rest of the season. They’ll likely ride the hot hand, which definitely is not something you want to hear as a Morris owner.
Forsett is 29 and many think last season was just a fluke. His week one dud in Denver was nothing to throw a fit about, but he followed that up with another weak performance, this time against Oakland. His 5.4 yards/carry last season has dwindled to 3.8 yards/attempt thus far. Yes, it is still early, but low yards/carry is a sign that a player might not eventually figure things out. The entire offense in Baltimore is struggling. They don’t have to weapons on the outside to spread the field, so teams are ready to stop the run all the time. Steve Smith showed this week he can still play, and Breshad Perriman will eventually be healthy, but even then it’s tough to see teams being afraid of the Ravens passing attack. To make matters worse, Lorenzo Taliaferro stole Forsett’s goal line carries this week. The sky is not falling for Forsett owners, but you certainly need to drastically temper your expectations.
St. Louis Receivers
I said last week that we need to slow down on Tavon Austin. Well, we need to slow down on St. Louis’ offense as a whole. Nick Foles is not Andrew Luck and we cannot expect him to be on fire every week. We also cannot expect one player to rise above the rest in this offense. Last week, it was Tavon Austin. This week, it was Kenny Britt. Next week, it may be Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick (if they ever activate him), or Jared Cook. I still like the Rams as a team, but stay away from their wideouts for fantasy purposes.
2 Things to thinks about
Cooks has been disappointing through two games so far. He managed 4-49 in week one and 5-62 in week two. What makes it even more concerning is the Saints were in games where they needed to throw late in the game to win, and Cooks still struggled to throw up solid numbers. In standard leagues, he’s been simply bad. In PPR leagues, he’s been at least reasonable. Cooks had a lot of promise coming into this season, and this is not what many expected. But let’s go into the time machine and travel back to this time last season. T.Y. Hilton’s first two weeks saw him go 5-41 and then 6-65. Nearly identical stats. Both guys were just getting used to being the top target for a great quarterback. Hilton followed that by putting up 100+ yards in six of his next 10 games, including three games with at least nine receptions. Hilton ended the season as one of the top PPR receivers (and not too shabby in standard leagues, either), with 82 catches for over 1300 yards and seven TD’s. Cooks will be okay.
By think about Dion Lewis, I don't mean go pick him up right now. Don’t just go straight to your waiver wire and say, “Blount only had two carries, Lewis is the starter.” Lewis himself only got seven carries. On the flip side, Lewis gained 40 yards on those seven carries, a strong 5.7 yards/attempt. Lewis does seem to be coming into the Shane Vereen role as he was targeted nine times and caught six balls for 98 yards. Right now, Lewis is fourth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, but just remember what your dealing with. The Patriots didn’t give it to Blount because running up the middle plays right into the Bills’ strength. Lewis is better off the edge, so he got the nod. Next week vs. Jacksonville, the Patriots might try to just go straight ahead, meaning more Blount and less Lewis. Don’t forget that Lewis fumbled again this week, his second of the season. Fumbling is a Cardinal Sin in New England. Patriot running backs are notoriously inconsistent, maybe Lewis will be able to keep it up, but it’s a slippery slope with Belichick’s backfield.
1 Concluding Thought
Rookie running backs are always tough to make out. Ameer Abdullah had a very strong week one, followed by a day that saw him gain nine yards on six carries, and only haul in one catch. Yeldon had a similar output to his week one performance, but saw his carries more than double. Melvin Gordon improved on a sub-par week one, but still wasn’t anything special. Todd Gurley hasn't even played yet, but here’s the deal with rookie backs: they take time. Abdullah showed us what he can do last week. He’s going to be inconsistent for a little while, but he should eventually settle into a solid role in the Lions offense. Don’t go crazy for Yeldon and his 25 carries, either. He only gained 70 yards, under 3 yards/attempt. What you look for out of rookies is flashes or steady improvement. Both Yeldon and Abdullah have shown flashed, whereas Gordon has shown more steady improvement (yes, I know it’s only been two games). Gordon outperformed his 14-51 week one with a 16-88 week two. His gain in yardage also came with a decrease in receptions, however. Going forward, I like Gordon the best of the three, but Abdullah should also become a viable starter by season’s end. You just have to give them time. And, you never know, even Yeldon could become something this season, just don’t bail on these guys yet.