5 Burning Questions for Week 2 (Fantasy Football)
I hurt my back watching football this past week. I’m dead serious. I woke up Monday morning with a back and neckache that only got worse through the day. Sitting on the edge of my seat from 1 PM to 12 AM on Sunday, then 7 PM to 1:30 AM Monday night, staring upwards at big-screen TVs, is apparently not very good for the body, or the heart.
Oh well. It was worth it, and I’d do it again. I just wonder when my neck, back, and chest will stop burning. Speaking of burning questions…
1. Is the Dallas offense this bad?
Dak Prescott’s rookie year showed flashes of Russell Wilson — mobile, big arm, calm under pressure, playmaker. His sophomore year was closer to Blake Bortles — errant, barely a game manager, dependent on play action and simple reads. This is a pivotal year three not only for Prescott’s development, but for the wealthiest franchise in the NFL.
It did not get off to a good start. Cowboys fans now have more questions than answers. Is Cole Beasley the WR1 in this offense, and how is that even a remote possibility? Were they counting on Tavon Austin to be a secret weapon? Can Prescott hit guys in stride, throw into tight windows, and be a franchise quarterback? Why won’t they throw more to Ezekiel Elliott? How long does Jason Garrett last? Will Dez Bryant please keep the Twitter takes coming? The ‘Boys have a virtual must-win game at home versus an improved New York Giants team on Sunday night. Improvement must begin now.
2. Is Joe Mixon finally happening?
Mixon is an exceptionally talented running back. No reasonable person has ever disputed this. Is Mixon an exceptional fantasy football asset? Well, that question is complicated.
He was hyped to high heaven in 2017 only to stutter, flash, and then fade. Giovani Bernard is still on the team, still talented, and still a guy the coaches like. This offensive line is still sub-average, and game script will generally be too.
Well, the new year is off to a strong start. With 44 of 56 snaps, 24 of 26 RB opportunities, 21 touches for 149 yards and a touchdown, Mixon operated as the bell-cow running back that Bengals brass said he would be and fantasy owners hoped for.
However, it’s only Week 1, and they played a soft Indianapolis defense. Total offensive play count was still low like it was in 2017. They draw a much more difficult Ravens defense in Week 2, albeit at home in Cincinnati. I want to know if Mixon will continue to earn bell-cow volume. If he does, then owners can be happy even if his efficiency and output aren’t as stellar as they were in Week 1. We know the talent is there, and we’ve just been waiting for the prime opportunity. It might finally be here.
3. How good can the Bears D/ST be?
Hey, did you guys hear that the Bears traded for Khalil Mack, who is very good at football? Though everyone and their mother has heard about him by now, here’s something you might not be aware of. With the NFL’s hardest strength of schedule, one of the highest injury rates in the league, and an offense that struggled to stay on the field, Chicago was still the ninth-highest scoring D/ST in 2017. That’s because the defensive roster was already strong, and Vic Fangio is as good a DC as there is.
They added a stud mike linebacker, Roquan Smith. They have a real offense that can control the clock now. The only piece missing was the edge rush, and they just added the best of the best. Every year, a D/ST emerges from the waiver wire to go on and be a dominant fantasy asset. My burning question is, “Are the Bears D/ST that unit this year?” Yes. Emphatically, yes.
4. Why the hell is LeGarrette Blount on the field in the third quarter of a blowout?
For that matter, why is Blount even starting? I mean, I get it, veteran deference and all. But this isn’t the 2017 Bengals, where Jeremy Hill started in front of Mixon. Hill was still relatively young and not downright awful. This is old, slow, one-dimensional Blount we’re talking about, and he’s standing in the way of significant snaps for a guy the Lions traded up in the second round to acquire, Kerryon Johnson, who by the way is actually good!…like, really freaking good at football.
Blount had three carries for negative three yards when — in the middle of the third quarter, down 31-17, at home, to the rebuilding New York Jets — either Matt Patricia or Jim Bob Cooter decided that it was time for a fourth. What the hell is going through a coach’s brain that makes him think this is acceptable? I don’t ask this as a Johnson owner. I don’t even ask this as a Lions fan. I ask this as a fan of the sport, open and honest competition, entertaining television, justice, truth, and good, well-coached football. Why in all of God’s green earth is Blount on the field right now?!
5. Is Derek Carr a franchise quarterback?
Like Prescott, Carr had a monstrous 2016, followed by a disastrous 2017 — inaccuracy, low yards per attempt, turnovers, you name it. The hope was that Jon Gruden would come in and put Carr back on track. For a half. Gruden had 10 years to prepare for this game, and he put all that film study into preparing for one glorious opening script.
It’s only Week 1, and he was going against an elite Rams defense, so it’s not time to panic on Carr just yet, but owners cannot be happy with anything they saw — whether it was intercepted underthrows, intercepted throwaways, or his propensity (which we can trace back to last year) to check the ball down. I’m starting to wonder if 2016 just a mirage or a flash in the pan.
Nick Zychowicz is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Nick, check out his archive and follow him @NJZychowicz.