Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Week 2
Things have normalized a bit after a weird Week 1, haven’t they? Brady’s back to single-handedly winning weeks for owners. Bell’s a factor again. And the Browns are back to looking like the lost and confused franchise that we all know and love. We’re settling into a groove and getting a clearer picture of how teams and players might look this year.
Trevor Siemian (QB – DEN)
Siemian is your overall QB1 through two weeks of play. Yes, you read that correctly. Granted he got a big boost from playing a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad Dallas defense that was missing basically all of its starting defensive backs. Also granted that he won’t keep up this pace he’s on. But still, he looks calm, cool, and collected at the helm of a complete team. Say what you want about his draft pedigree or arm strength, he’s standing tall and delivering accurate throws within a good offensive system. He moves up from barely-streamable pre-draft, to definitely rosterable now as a matchup play. He’s not a set-and-forget weekly play just yet, but he should warrant your consideration at Buffalo next week.
Derek Carr (QB – OAK)
Overall QB5, he looks like the only late-round QB besides Matthew Stafford who will insert himself into the top-three rest-of-season discussion. That’s not a knock on Siemian or Alex Smith, either. Carr is in complete control of a high-powered offense with Pro Bowlers at every single position. Marshawn Lynch joining the team helps the offense as a whole, and both Amari Cooper and Jalen Richard have taken steps forward in their development. The sky’s the limit for Carr.
CJ Anderson (RB – DEN)
CJ “RB1 when healthy” Anderson is definitely healthy and definitely an RB1. There’s nothing he doesn’t do well. The defense will continue to strangle opponents, and he’ll continue to be one of the best backs in the league when it comes to wearing down a defense and closing out a game. Even taking his production at home against a poor Dallas D with a large grain of salt, it looks like he’s going to be very good for many weeks to come. Drafted tentatively as a fourth-round RB2, he’s a rock-solid RB1 moving forward.
Derrick Henry (RB – TEN)
Per Pro Football Focus, Henry led all RBs in Week 2 in both YAC per attempt and elusive rating. So not only does he make you miss, but he breaks your tackle when you do get your hands on him. Also, get this, in the Titans’ last five games, despite only 48 carries to Murray’s 64, Henry has outgained Murray 253 to 221 on the ground (5.3 vs 3.5 YPC). He’s also outscored Murray four to nothing in that time frame. One more stat: Henry’s 4.1 yards after contact is third in the league. Murray’s 1.9 is 39th. With Murray’s hamstring flaring up, one wonders how long the Titans coaches continue to pretend like Murray gives them the best chance to win.
Chris Thompson (RB – WAS)
Flashing all kinds of skill and producing on the field, Thompson was already outplaying his price. Add that Rob Kelley is now hurt and that Samajae Perine looked pedestrian in relief, you have to assume Thompson’s volume is going to rise significantly moving forward. Not just a PPR back anymore (at least for the time being), Thompson needs to be rostered everywhere.
J.J. Nelson (WR – ARI)
WR2 in standard leagues through two weeks, Nelson has emerged as the go-to deep threat on a team that will be facing negative game scripts all year long. Garbage time is good time for fantasy wide receivers, and it’s not as if Nelson is untalented. If you’re looking for a flex candidate widely available in all leagues, look no further.
Jermaine Kearse (WR – NYJ)
WR5 in standard leagues through two weeks, Kearse has emerged as the go-to deep threat on a team that will be facing negative game scripts all year long. Garbage time is good time for fantasy wide receivers, and it’s not as if he Kearse is untalented. If you’re looking for a flex candidate widely available in all leagues, look no further. No, this is not an editing error.
Ben Watson (TE – BAL)
Eight catches on eight targets for 91 yards on Sunday. He’s a capable, startable tight end in a season where they’re dropping like flies. Make him a priority if you’re a Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, or Jordan Reed owner.
Cam Newton (QB – CAR)
“Missing layups like that, it’s uncalled for.” Tell us more, Cam. He just doesn’t look good out there, overthrowing easy TDs in both Week 1 and Week 2. Struggling mightily to put away cellar teams like San Francisco and Buffalo is not a good look. Not only has his play not improved from last year, but now he’s lost security blanket Greg Olsen for two months. This popular bounce-back candidate has too much upside to drop but too much downside to start.
Carson Palmer (QB – ARI)
Week 17, 2015, at home vs the Seattle Seahawks. You can pinpoint the exact moment that his guts burst open and mom’s spaghetti spilled out all over the field. The Cardinals looked like locks for an NFC Championship until the Seahawks pummeled him, recording sack after sack, knock down after knock down. Since then, he’s never stopped staring down the rush and playing scared — turning in a terrible postseason and keeping it rolling into 2016. Reports were good out of camp this year, and here was another bounce-back candidate. But it’s not happening. Without a star running back to lean on, or much of an offensive line, the immobile Palmer will be running for his life and throwing scared, per the usual. If you can’t even put up against the sieve that is the Indianapolis Colts defense, you’re done. Palmer is probably droppable.
Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
It’s starting to look like the Panthers spent their eighth-overall pick on a younger Darren Sproles. Despite getting good volume in Weeks 1 and 2, McCaffrey has underwhelmed. He looks slower than we’re used to seeing, but then again perhaps NFL defenders are bigger, faster, and stronger than PAC-12 defenders. Who knew? He’ll never gain yards after contact and Cam Newton isn’t accurate (nor is Mike Shula creative) enough to get McCaffrey the space he needs. Then again, if your problem is that the people around you can’t get you into space, maybe you’re the problem. Priced as a high-end RB2, McCaffrey looks more like a mid-range flex. Lots of time for this young genetics experiment to turn it around, and he will undoubtedly be a productive NFL player. But his fantasy stock is down for the time being.
DeMarco Murray (RB – TEN)
The hamstring which nagged in the preseason has apparently flared up. Also flaring up: Derrick Henry‘s stock. I’ve already covered all the statistics as to why Henry is up. All you need to understand why Murray is down is to watch the tape. It does not look good. Not explosive in cuts or strong through the hole, he just looks slow right now. Owners have to hope the hamstring gets right, and gets right fast, or Henry will run away with the job and what’s left of Murray’s value.
Bilal Powell (RB – NYJ)
Six rushes for 13 yards, and zero catches on two targets on a day when game script should have worked in his favor. You didn’t really spend a fifth-round pick on the New York Jets’ backup running back, did you?
Terrelle Pryor (WR – WAS)
Things have changed since last year. He’s not the primary read anymore. He’s not living in 40 minutes of garbage time every week. And these Redskins are not the offensive powerhouse they once were. Odds are that Cousins just needs more time to build chemistry with his new receivers. Problem is, fantasy owners don’t have time for their third-round investment to grow into his new role. Things should open up next Sunday night at home vs. the Raiders. They need to.
Nick Zychowicz is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Nick, follow him @NJZychowicz.