9 Things We Learned: Week 2 (2019 Fantasy Football)
The second week of the NFL season started with an entertaining finish in Carolina after a snoozefest for the first 55 minutes. If you had Cam Newton, Christian McCaffery, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and especially O.J. Howard (we will get to him later), you probably could have cared less about Thursday all together. At least Godwin owners were happy going into the weekend’s slate of games.
On Sunday, we saw dominant performances from the Chiefs and Patriots again, great finishes in Houston and Denver, major injuries to big-time quarterbacks, and some bounce-back performances from star fantasy players. Let’s also not forget about the poor Miami Dolphins. They were a gracious host to Antonio Brown’s debut for New England, and the receiver scored his first touchdown of many from Tom Brady.
As irritating as how dominant the Patriots have been and will be this season, we can’t complain too much now that we have football back. Here were my takeaways from the second week of NFL action.
1. O.No. Howard.
Drafted in the fourth to sixth rounds of most drafts, O.J. Howard has not produced as a starting tight end through two weeks. Howard was a non-factor on Thursday night, as he caught zero passes. The performance came after he had only four catches in Week 1. Maybe head coach Bruce Arians wanted to make a statement to Howard who fumbled in the redzone in their first game. Whatever the case may be, Howard has fantasy owners in a panic, and rightfully so.
The good news from Thursday night’s goose egg was Howard played on 54 out of 59 plays but was mainly used a blocker. Arians mentioned to reporters that Howard had not lived up to his potential so far by stating, “You’d probably have to ask him. He’s got so much talent and he can play a heck of a lot better than he’s playing.” He also added that his lack of targets was due to how the game played out. Howard owners probably aren’t comforted by Arians’ comments, but I wouldn’t hit the drop button on him just yet. There will be some games where the Buccaneers are going to need to pass the ball a lot more this season.
2. Injury concerns lead to fantasy production concerns.
The biggest headlines from Sunday were the injuries to Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. They never came back in the game, and it directly affected the production from star fantasy players in JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner (who also left with an injury), Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas.
Mason Rudolph filled in for Roethlisberger and threw for two touchdowns, and both went to tight end Vance McDonald. Smith-Schuster has yet to transition into the WR1 the Steelers were hoping for so far, and if Rudolph is his quarterback, his chances would get even smaller. The injury could also hurt Conner’s value as well. Without the threat of Roethlisberger’s deep-passing ability, opposing defenses can focus on the running game.
Drew Brees’ replacement, Teddy Bridgewater, didn’t do much for the Saints other than pepper Michael Thomas with targets (13). Thomas finished the game with ten receptions and 89 yards which was a good sign, but it may be hard to trust him getting quality work with Bridgewater at the helm. Kamara wasn’t a factor after Brees left, finishing the game with just 45 rushing yards and one catch for 15 yards. Kamara and Latavius Murray could play a bigger role in games without Brees. Unfortunately, defenses will be ready for a high-volume run game from a Brees-less Saints team.
3. The Patriots and the Chiefs are rolling.
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes already look destined to meet in the AFC Championship. New England has put up 76 points in two games with one of the more talented skill groups in the league, and Mahomes has already thrown for 821 passing yards with seven touchdowns.
Tom Brady is entering his 20th season, and he may have his most talented group of weapons since Wes Welker and Randy Moss. With versatile James White, Sony Michel, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and now Antonio Brown, Tom Brady and the Patriots should produce a whole lot of fantasy numbers. The hard part will be where it goes each week. On Sunday we saw Brown and Michel blow up, but last week we saw Gordon and Philip Dorsett have big games. With so many mouths to feed, fantasy volume may be hard to come by for most of the Patriots’ skill players. One thing is for sure: Tom Brady is back to fantasy relevancy.
Let’s not forget how dominant the Patriots’ defense has been over the last two weeks. Surrendering only three points to the Steelers and Dolphins combined, the Patriots not only have an explosive offense but a dominant defense.
On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes recorded his sixth game with at least 300 yards passing and four touchdowns, and he has only played in 19 games! In the second quarter alone, he threw for four touchdowns, two going to his top receiver this week in Demarcus Robinson. Similar to the Patriots, the Chiefs have a lot of weapons. With Tyreek Hill out for some time, we may see different players featured in this offense. Last week the WR1 in fantasy was Sammy Watkins and with only a few games left this week, Demarcus Robinson could be the WR1 in Week 2.
4. Unexpected top wide receivers from Week 1 looked good in Week 2.
John Ross, Marquise Brown, D.J. Chark, Terry McLaurin got off to hot starts in Week 1 and delivered again on Sunday. I doubted whether Ross could put up fantasy numbers in back-to-back weeks, but he proved me wrong by having four catches for 112 yards with a touchdown on eight targets. Without A.J. Green on the field, it looks like Ross could see consistent fantasy production.
Marquise Brown only had five targets last week, but he made the most of them with four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns (30.7 PPR points). He had some injury concerns before their game Sunday against the Cardinals, but Brown had 13 targets and caught eight balls for 86 yards (16.6 PPR points). Jackson and Brown seem to have a good rapport together already and should see more big weeks to come.
With the loss of Nick Foles and the start of rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, D.J. Chark‘s fantasy production wasn’t affected. In Week 1 he had 24.4 PPR points, and he followed that up with 18.5 PPR points on seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Chark seems to be Minshew’s go-to target.
One of the best nicknames in the league, “Scary” Terry McLaurin, is the only fantasy-relevant wide receiver for the Redskins. McLaurin has a combined 16 targets in two games with 187 yards and two touchdowns.
As unexpected as the performances were in Week 1, these players are all worth a waiver wire claim or FAAB bid after a strong Week 2.
5. Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) looks like a top-5 tight end.
As good as Lamar Jackson has looked so far, so has one of his main threats: tight end Mark Andrews. His Week 1 performance was good for TE3 in PPR formats with 25.8 points on eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with eight receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. That’s consistency. Andrews will most likely be the TE1 going into Week 3 in fantasy and should be expected to continue his role as Jackson’s leading pass catcher at Kansas City.
6. Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN) could be the RB1 in fantasy.
Going into Week 2, Dalvin Cook was the RB5 after his 27.0 PPR point performance in Week 1. Cook followed up his 111-yard game with another 100+ yard performance with 154 yards on the ground, and he added three catches for 37 yards. Cook kick-started the Minnesota Vikings’ offense against the Packers with a beautiful 75 yard run for a touchdown. He has that home run potential every time he touches the ball, which could propel him to the top overall running back in fantasy this year.
7. Antonio Brown (WR – NE) and Tom Brady (QB – NE) are already in sync.
As if the Patriots needed any more help, Antonio Brown landed in their lap and produced right away. In his first game in a Patriots’ uniform, Brown had four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. Brown hasn’t even practiced with the team for a week and already is clicking with Tom Brady. If you were able to predict that Brown would end up being a Patriot and you traded for or drafted him, kudos to you. Your fantasy season may have been saved by Bill Belichick. This duo could be deadly in the NFL and fantasy.
8. Miami might go 0-16.
If you own any Miami dolphins on your fantasy team, drop them right now! Just kidding, but man, do they look bad. Their defense has already surrendered 102 points! Even with a bunch of garbage-time opportunities, their offense hasn’t produced at all. You would think someone would emerge as a garbage-time hero, but there isn’t enough (Fitz)magic to save this team. Let’s hope the Dolphins trade away any fantasy-relevant players you may have right now because no Dolphin is worthy of a fantasy roster.
9. The Bears have a kicker!
I know this may not have huge fantasy impact, but the Chicago Bears may have solved their kicking woes with Eddy Pineiro. He drilled a 53-yard game-winner in a wild finish in Denver. Due to an incompetent offense and solid defense, the Bears could be in a lot of field goal situations instead of scoring touchdowns. How incompetent is their offense? They have only scored one touchdown in two games, and Mitchell Trubisky is still yet to throw a touchdown. They have played two good defenses, but Pineiro could be a good kicking option if you need one. Pineiro is currently 4 of 4 from fields goals with two of them being from 50 yards or more. OK, that’s enough kicking talk.