Fantasy Football Studs & Duds: Week 2
Here’s a look at the studs and duds of Week 2. We’ll look at one stud and one dud from each of the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to identify the best and worst at each position but to find players who had over- or underwhelming performances that warrant discussion.
Stud: Patrick Mahomes (KC)
23/28; 326 Yards; Six Touchdowns
Last week you could make the argument that Mahomes allowed Tyreek Hill to do the heavy lifting for him. Week 2 is a different story. The rising star dove headfirst into one of the league’s most hostile road environments and came away with six passing touchdowns and over 300 yards distributed evenly among his weapons. Mahomes looked sharp as can be and proved that he’s more than just a big arm by nailing throw after throw with pinpoint accuracy. Luckily for his fantasy owners, Mahomes is playing alongside a really bad defense that will force him to put his talents to good use most weeks. Eventually, his opponents will start to figure him out, and/or he’ll hit a wall at some point, but there’s no point in worrying about that now. Just enjoy the ride while you can.
Dud: Alex Smith (WAS)
33/46; 292 Yards
Mahomes’s predecessor didn’t look so good. Washington’s Week 1 opponent, the Cardinals, proved in Week 2 that they really are just one of the worst teams in the league, and that’s probably why the Redskins looked so dominant against them in the opener. The Indianapolis defense is not good, but they still held Smith’s offense to just nine points and no touchdowns. Most concerning is Smith’s conservative nature taking over. He targeted scatback, Chris Thompson, 14 times, twice as many as any of the team’s receivers. Smith didn’t even boost his value with that supposedly sneaky rushing ability, as he finished the day with just 14 yards on four attempts. If he can’t get it done against the Colts, trying to project Smith as even a streaming option going forward will be nigh impossible.
Stud: Melvin Gordon (LAC)
Nine Carries for 28 Yards; Six Receptions for 38 Yards; Three Total Touchdowns
This was typical Melvin Gordon, low efficiency, but ultimately coming away with loads of fantasy points. Backup running back Austin Ekeler continues to scare box score viewers, and for good reason, as he did finish with more carries and yards than Gordon. But this game was in hand throughout, and even on the drives that featured Ekeler the team made sure to bring in Gordon for the red-zone work. With Hunter Henry out for the year, Antonio Gates heading for retirement any day now, and Mike Williams still developing, Gordon has been Philip Rivers’s favorite red-zone target in these first two games. His receiving ability is finally getting the attention it deserves, and Gordon’s owners needn’t fret over his poor efficiency.
Dud: Isaiah Crowell (NYJ)
12 Carries for 35 Yards
Even last week, Isaiah Crowell rode on the coattails of a 62-yard TD run that came against a downtrodden Lions defense. The fact of the matter is that Crowell is a mediocre talent at best and the Jets are not going to be a consistently serviceable offense. For dependable fantasy production from running backs, you need at least the talent or the situation to be good, and Crowell offers neither. His best outlook will be in the division, against the Bills and Patriots, but the Jets don’t play either of those teams until Week 10. At this point, Crowell is a bye-week fill-in, and hopefully, he was drafted as such.
Stud: Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT)
13 Receptions for 138 Yards; One Touchdown
Juju is making an extremely compelling case as the team’s 1B receiver to Antonio Brown’s 1A. Most telling are Schuster’s 13 receptions on a whopping 19 targets while the Steelers played in comeback mode for basically 60 minutes. The best part for Juju is that Brown hasn’t exactly lost a step, so he’ll get to feast while the opposition schemes all its best talent around his teammate. It’s worth noting that Schuster is currently on pace for over 2,000 receiving yards on the season, so he’s due for some obvious regression. On the bright side, he can only pump out 50% of his current production and still be worth starting in most situations.
Dud: Robby Anderson (NYJ)
Three Receptions for 27 Yards
Anderson was great when he was basically the team’s only legitimate receiving threat, and that’s no backhanded compliment. It takes real talent to succeed when defenses are honing in on you. But Quincy Enunwa’s return has put a serious dent into Anderson’s workload. In fact, over the past two weeks Enunwa has had 21 targets compared to Anderson’s six. Both Bilal Powell and Terrelle Pryor have both seen more targets over that span as well. For whatever reason, this isn’t a situation where more talent is spreading defenses in a way that benefits Anderson. Perhaps the difference is Sam Darnold, who would seemingly rather make the high percentage throw than go for the home run. Anderson will have big games, but trying to figure out when to play him will be similar to DeSean Jackson (from years past more so than this year so far).
Stud: O.J. Howard (TB)
Three Receptions for 96 Yards; One Touchdown
Everyone thought the Bucs offense was fools’ gold in Week 1, but then they went ahead and did it again. Regardless, it would be truly over eager to call Howard’s big game anything resembling sustainable. The second-year tight end did virtually all of his damage on one 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Whether it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston, this offense will come back down to Earth. If Winston is fortunate enough to get his job back, watch out for Cameron Brate to take some of Howard’s targets. Winston has serious chemistry with the older tight end. Tight end is especially shallow this year, but if they can afford it then Howard’s owners might want to consider selling high to another team that’s desperate at the position.
Dud: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Two Receptions for 15 Yards
It was New England’s annual September meltdown in Florida, and Gronk felt the effects more than anyone else. He was doubled for pretty much the entire game, and none of the other Patriots receivers were able to step up and make the Jags reconsider. Even in double coverage, Jacksonville is one of the few teams that has the talent to shut down the all-time great tight end, thanks in large part to their combination of super athletic linebackers and good large defensive backs. Outside of Eric Berry in Week 6 and maybe the Jets’ young safety tandem, Gronk isn’t looking at any other notable matchup problems going forward, and even when he does it’s not like he can be benched.