Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers: Week 2
After a wild Sunday that saw 10 games be decided by one score or less, and six quarterbacks go over 30 fantasy points, here’s my Week 2 rapid response to whose value is rising and whose is falling.
Keelan Cole (WR – JAX)
No Fournette, no problem! You never know what you’re going to get with Blake Bortles. In 2015, Allen Robinson received 151 targets and finished as the WR6 overall, and then in 2016, he received the same number of targets from the same quarterback and finished as the WR27. Bortles certainly has hot games though, and Keelan Cole is emerging as the receiver you want to own in Jacksonville. He caught seven of his eight targets for 116 yards and a touchdown and was responsible for 30% of Bortle’s passing yards in Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Through two games, Cole leads the Jaguars in targets, receptions, and receiving yards.
Cleveland Browns pass catchers
The fear of drafting receivers (or Duke Johnson) who play for the Browns was that Tyrod Taylor doesn’t throw the ball that much and that he has an extremely crowded arsenal. The first part of that equation has rung true so far as Taylor is 18th in the league in pass attempts through two games (and could be 20th after Mitch Trubisky and Russell Wilson play tonight), but the release of Josh Gordon shakes up the dynamic. They look a lot more like a normal (non-crowded) team now. Jarvis Landry will be the possession receiver who moves the chains and gets peppered with targets, Antonio Callaway will emerge as the number two option with big-play ability (as he displayed on his 47-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter against the Saints), and Duke Johnson will have a role similar to what he had last year. Without Gordon, the target potential for all three of these players just went up.
Matt Breida (RB – SF)
It’s only a matter of time before Matt Breida becomes the preferred choice in San Francisco’s backfield. Even if you exclude Breida’s incredible 66-yard touchdown run against the Lion’s, he’s still averaging 5.6 yards per carry through two games compared to Alfred Morris’ 3.3. Breida can also be more effective than Morris in the passing game. The downside is that his 5”10, 190-pound frame likely won’t support a real workhorse load, but volume and opportunity should start to shift in his direction.
Brandin Cooks (WR – LAR)
Anyone who thought that Brandin Cooks would have the “Sammy Watkins role” from last year should be hiding in a hole. In two games, Cooks has already piled up 24% of the targets that Watkins had last year and is on pace to get 136 targets on the season. Sean McVay had the entire offseason to plan for Brandin Cooks, and it shows. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have their roles, but Cooks already has at least 128 more yards than both of them.
Juju Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
For two weeks in a row now, Juju Smith-Schuster has outperformed Antonio Brown. While Brown has six more targets, they both have 18 total receptions, and Smith-Schuster has 80 more yards on the young season. Brown is the best wide receiver in football, and he isn’t going anywhere, but Smith-Schuster is no slouch. The opponent’s best defensive back is going to be on Brown more often than not, and this may be more of a 1A/1B dynamic than anyone thought.
Jamison Crowder (WR – WAS)
Just a few weeks ago when everyone was drafting, Jamison Crowder was a popular target in the middle rounds. His skill set seemed to line up with the type of quarterback Alex Smith is, and his 3.2 average yards of separation placed him well above both Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson. He was supposed to be a target monster. After two games, however, Crowder has a mere five catches on eight targets for just 40 yards, and the Redskins offense looked flat as a board against the Colts. Alex Smith seems to prefer Chris Thompson, who leads the team with 21 targets through two games, while Crowder is fifth on the target list after Jordan Reed, Richardson, and Doctson.
Jameis Winston (QB – TB)
In many of my leagues, I stashed Jameis Winston at the end of my bench to be my quarterback after Week 3. I figure it would take an otherworldly performance by Ryan Fitzpatrick to unseat Winston as the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay. Technically I was right, I just didn’t think that performance was actually going to happen. Through two weeks, Fitzpatrick leads the league in passing yards and is second in passing touchdowns, and he’s done it against the Saints and the Eagles, two of the better defensive teams from a season ago. I’m not sure Winston is getting his job back any time soon.
Royce Freeman (RB – DEN)
Just before the season started, the Broncos announced that Royce Freeman would be their lead back, and then Phillip Lindsay came along and crushed the hopes and dreams of Freeman owners everywhere. Lindsay has out-touched Freeman 32-23, and has all but won the starting running back job in Denver. Lindsay’s 5”8, 190-pound frame suggests that Freeman will continue to see work and be in the mix, but it’s a far cry from what we expected when John Elway told us Freeman would be their three-down back after they drafted him (Freeman still doesn’t have a reception yet this season).
LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF)
You want to know how bad the Buffalo Bills are? Vontae Davis retired at halftime. Many of us thought that despite the state of the Bills team, McCoy would end up being an RB2 just based on volume. So far that has not been the case. He finished as the RB56 in Week 1 and the RB26 (so far) in Week 2. He’s only had 16 rushing attempts and 28 receiving yards through two games. It doesn’t appear safe to own anyone on this Bills team.
Corey Davis (WR – TEN)
If Marcus Mariota doesn’t get well soon, it could be another disaster of a season for Corey Davis. Davis is 11th in the league with 20 targets through two games, but he’s only turned that into 117 yards and is currently the WR42. There were high hopes during draft season that if all were healthy, Davis would put up WR2 numbers, but the Titans’ offense hasn’t clicked yet, and if Mariota isn’t well enough to throw properly, we may still be waiting a while.