Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 2
Coming soon to theaters near you: Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 2: The Curse of the Quarterbacks.
Ben Roethlisberger. Drew Brees. For a scary minute, Aaron Rodgers. There were quarterback injuries to spare on Sunday, and the ramifications could be significant. As of this writing, we have no idea of the severity of Roethlisberger’s elbow or Brees’ thumb injury. But the early signs point to both being serious enough to cause multiple-week absences.
If you own Brees or Roethlisberger in a one-quarterback league, you can probably survive. There are most likely plenty of serviceable options available on your waiver wire. But if you own skill players in either Pittsburgh or New Orleans, it is time to be concerned.
Michael Thomas (WR – NO) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
If you’re looking for reason for optimism with Thomas, it’s that in a game where Teddy Bridgewater threw 30 of the Saints’ 35 pass attempts, Thomas saw 13 targets and hauled in 10 of them for 89 yards. Bridgewater is a serviceable quarterback, and he is familiar with Sean Payton’s outstanding system. If Bridgewater continues to pepper Thomas with targets, the wide receiver is going to succeed. But obviously not quite at the level we’re accustomed to seeing.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO) – Panic Meter Rating: 9
Kamara is a brilliant talent but was bottled up for just 60 total yards against the Rams, which included only a single reception. As good as Kamara is, he, like almost any running back, needs defenses to respect the pass, and he also benefits from Brees’ immense football IQ to maximize his targets. Without Brees, Kamara’s fantasy stock will certainly dip a bit. He’ll still be an RB1, certainly, but he would fall from that true top-four elite tier most likely.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT) – Panic Meter Rating: 8
Smith-Schuster had a more than respectable game against the Seahawks, hauling in five of eight targets for 84 yards. And Mason Rudolph likely has a bright future ahead of him and made many strong throws in relief of Ben Roethlisberger. But it’s difficult to see Smith-Schuster coming anywhere close to his draft-day projections with the youngster throwing him the ball. He’s a talented wide receiver who will still see plenty of targets in a good offensive system. For that reason, Smith-Schuster will likely have solid value regardless of if or when Roethlisberger returns. But, there’s still plenty to be concerned about compared to how you viewed him before Week 2.
Cam Newton (QB – CAR) – Panic Meter Rating: 10
Newton’s accuracy has been awful through two weeks of the season, as he’s struggled at times to complete even the most basic throws to open receivers. Fantasy owners can accept that flaw with Newton, so long as he makes up for it with his rushing ability, as he has in nearly every other season.
But so far this season, he has negative-two rushing yards. You, fantasy owners, sitting on your couch, have more rushing yards than Cam Newton this season. And when the Panthers won’t let him run a quarterback sneak at the end zone with half a yard to go, it’s a pretty good bet that Newton isn’t going to rush anytime soon.
Is there hope for a turnaround? Of course. Newton has looked droppable at times in the past only to come on with several strong performances. But, at this point, concern about Newton being a viable QB1 rest of season should be high.
Mike Evans (WR – TB) – Panic Meter Rating: 1
Yes, it’s been a bad start for Evans, who has just six catches for 89 yards and no touchdowns through two games. And yes, Chris Godwin is living up to his preseason hype and will continue to siphon targets.
But Evans should have had a touchdown on Thursday against the Panthers had Jameis Winston not overthrown him, and his targets, receptions, and receiving yards should only continue to trend up. And although Godwin will steal some looks, his emergence could ultimately help Evans, as defenders will need to shift at least some of the attention Evans usually gets toward Godwin.
It’s only the slightest bit of panic for Evans that is warranted. For the most part, move along.
Joe Mixon (RB – CIN) – Panic Meter Rating: 5
Mixon played through an ankle injury against the 49ers, but he might as well have just taken the game off, as he gained just 27 yards on 14 touches. He now has just 44 total yards through two games (though, of course, he left Week 1’s game against the Seahawks early), and has actively hurt his fantasy owners.
Concern is absolutely warranted with Mixon, considering he’s battling the ankle injury, he’s running behind a decimated and poor offensive line, and he has several tough matchups ahead, including games against Baltimore and Jacksonville. But we know what Mixon can do, even in stagnant offenses and on bad teams, and absent his ankle injury lingering, he should again start putting up RB2 numbers once A.J. Green and Cordy Glenn return.
Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
In Week 2 against the Bears:
- Phillip Lindsay: 13 carries for 36 yards, 2.8 average
- Royce Freeman: 11 carries for 54 yards, 4.9 average
- Phillip Lindsay: Seven targets, four catches, 30 yards
- Royce Freeman: Seven targets, five catches, 48 yards
And that comes off a game in Week 1 where Freeman gained more rushing yards on fewer carries than Lindsay. The Broncos coaching staff has always wanted this to be a split, so Lindsay owners likely realized that going in. But what they didn’t know going in is that Freeman would be the more effective back.
The Broncos aren’t going anywhere, but they’re 0-2 and the coaching staff surely is desperate for a win. At some point, they’re going to lean more on whichever back is getting the job done. For the time being, that’s Freeman. If that continues, Lindsay’s role may only grow weaker.