6 Interesting Tidbits for Week 2 (Fantasy Football)
After months of anticipation, we finally had some real NFL games over the weekend! And at the end of the day it was… underwhelming? That isn’t to say there weren’t compelling moments and outstanding individual performances, but we also had a slew of big-name disappointments, wretched quarterback play, and depressing injuries (RIP David Johnson). Chances are Week 1 will be more remembered for its low points than anything else. We’ll go through some of both the good and the bad below, but hopefully your fantasy teams — whether in season-long or daily — survived a topsy-turvy opening week.
In this space, we’ll journey through some Interesting Tidbits every week to help you with your upcoming lineup decisions. This can include notable recent performances, changes in playing time, historical matchup trends, and so on. At the very least, maybe we’ll uncover some amusing factoids along the way! So without further ado, let’s see what’s on tap for Week 2.
Le’Veon Bell’s 47 yards from scrimmage in Week 1 were the fewest of his career
Arguably one of the most shocking duds in Week 1 was Le’Veon Bell’s performance against the Cleveland Browns. With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming in as huge road favorites against a defense that struggled in 2016, who wouldn’t expect a consensus top-two fantasy pick to clean up? Instead, Bell submitted his worst statistical regular season game of his career. He had just 10 carries for 32 rushing yards, and three receptions for 15 yards through the air — 47 combined yards with zero touchdowns. It was all the more surprising considering the Steelers led for the entire second half, normally a positive game script for a running back. Is the Cleveland defense better than expected (even without Myles Garrett)? Did the Pittsburgh offensive line just have a poor day? Or did Bell’s offseason holdout leave him rusty and unprepared? Maybe it’s a little bit of all those things, but this was such a flukey result that it’s a reminder not to panic after only one game. A 25-year-old, all-world running back who had 1,884 yards from scrimmage in 12 games last year didn’t suddenly lose it overnight. The Steelers are home favorites against the Minnesota Vikings next week, and we should expect Bell’s usual volume and success to return moving forward.
Jared Goff threw for his first 300-yard game, but it came against the Indianapolis Colts
Wow, is Jared Goff actually not terrible? Was it just Jeff Fisher all along? Seriously though, while Bell stunk it up with a career worst, Goff submitted easily his best career game — not that this is saying much. In his seven starts in his rookie season, he only managed to surpass 200 passing yards twice, and threw more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five). While it’s nice to think Goff has turned the corner, the caveat is this performance came against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are not only a poor defense to begin with, but they were missing their best cornerback in Vontae Davis, and they rolled out a Scott Tolzien-led offense that couldn’t stay on the field. Really, if ever was there a perfect storm for Goff to succeed, it was this game. That isn’t to say that there might not be real improvements at work here — especially with new weapons in Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp — but we also shouldn’t overreact to one performance. If he can hang in there this week against Washington then maybe we can start really believing in Goff.
The Arizona Cardinals offense could be in big trouble moving forward, but not in Week 2
Week 1 couldn’t have gone any worse for the Arizona Cardinals. Not only did they lose their best offensive weapon in David Johnson for possibly the entire season, but Carson Palmer submitted a horrendous three-pick stinker against what was supposed to be a cupcake matchup in the Detroit Lions. While we don’t want to overreact to the “Carson Palmer is done” talk, one can’t help but be concerned, particularly now that he’ll be missing his number one lifeline in Johnson. The good news? The Cardinals play the aforementioned Colts in Week 2. If Goff could throw for 300 yards, surely a “washed up” Palmer can too? It may make you feel squeamish, especially if you used Palmer in Week 1, but if ever there was a spot for a rebound it’s this one. But if Palmer fails again, then we might have to stick a fork in this entire offense.
James White is Week 1’s surprise leader in snaps among Patriots running backs
All the talk was about Mike Gillislee (24 snaps), and then eventually Rex Burkhead (10), entering the New England Patriots’ Week 1 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs, so naturally in the end it was Super Bowl hero James White (43) who ended up on the field the most. Grant it, much of that was due to the Patriots trailing for most of the second half, a negative game script that played into White’s pass-catching abilities, but it’s all a painful reminder of how unpredictable this backfield might be week-to-week. The good news for Gillislee owners is he did indeed fill the “LeGarrette Blount role” and punched in three touchdowns, but the low snap count shows how game script dependent his role is likely to be. As it stands, White and Gillislee look like the leaders in the clubhouse, but after the shellacking the Patriots took against the Chiefs, we can’t rule out Bill Belichick deciding to change course and utilizing Burkhead, or even Dion Lewis (6), more frequently. Burkhead owners in particular should resist cutting bait just yet until we see how the rotation shakes out in what could be a shoot out against the New Orleans Saints.
Charles Clay led the Buffalo Bills in targets in Week 1, and could be their defacto number one pass-catcher
Charles Clay was a deep sleeper entering the season, but his high involvement in the Week 1 passing game was still a pleasant surprise. Clay was targeted a team-high nine times against the New York Jets, resulting in 53 yards and a touchdown. In 2016, he had eight or more targets just once, so this is hardly the norm. But with Watkins off to Los Angeles, and two new faces starting at wide receiver (Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones), it stands to reason that quarterback Tyrod Taylor would focus on old reliable. In fact, Matthews and Jones only had seven targets combined. It’s fair to wonder if the market share will eventually sway toward the wide receivers as they get acclimated in the offense, but in the meantime, it sure looks like Clay could have nice volume coming his way. He’s a worthy tight end add in deep leagues for those hurting at the position.
Deshaun Watson has been declared the Houston Texans’ starting quarterback for Week 2, and while it’s tough to have too much confidence in a hobbled, rookie quarterback on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, his presence could still be a huge boon to DeAndre Hopkins’ value. In Week 1, the Texans offense was an utter disaster under Tom Savage, with Hopkins only getting targeted five times in the first half. But once the Texans made the switch to Watson to start the second, Hopkins’ targets jumped to a whopping 11. Ultimately, the 16 total targets only resulted in 55 yards and a touchdown, but even with some inefficiency, that’s massive potential volume if Watson continues to look his way this often. Double-digit targets per game could be in the cards for Hopkins moving forward.