NFL Week 2 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 2 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
While the end of Week 1 is all about panic and overreaction, the end of this week is steeped in sadness and regret for most fantasy football owners. They witness, first-hand, the error of their ways and spend far too much of their time wondering how to recover from the mess with which they left themselves. It’s a good thing it’s only Week 2, right? Plenty of time to recover. The schedule is not as unforgiving as many would think and even an 0-2 start can be shaken off to the point where the playoffs are still well within reach. The trick is to recognize all that is happening around you and to take that information and use it to your advantage.
Of course, you have plenty to sift through and, sometimes, perception is distorted to the point where we’re not sure of what is real and what isn’t That’s what these hot takes are for. We look at the knee-jerk reaction and figure out if we’re on the right path or if emotion is taking over. Like these, for example…
If Bruce Arians Moved on from O.J. Howard , Fantasy Owners Should Too
We spent the entire preseason telling you to study the systems and that, for fantasy purposes, opportunity can trump talent. Well, here we are with an uber-talented tight end and a coach who doesn’t see him. Now, obviously, the Bucs moved to a more run-heavy scheme Thursday night as they took the lead against the Panthers and opted to run out the clock when afforded the opportunity. But Cameron Brate still saw two targets to not even a single look for Howard. So what gives? Do we need to drop Howard? Maybe. But not yet.
True, when Arians was coaching in Arizona, he used his tight ends primarily as blockers and perhaps that is the route he is leading off with here, but the coach did open the door for Howard on Friday when he simply said, “…he’s got so much talent and he can play a heck of a lot better than he’s playing.” So you’re saying there’s a chance? Yes, but it’s up to the player here to now prove himself. In Week 1, Howard had a costly fumble and tipped a pass right into the arms of the defense while this past week saw some shoddy blocking on the field. He is definitely capable of doing better, so if you can afford to hold him on the bench and use a different tight end for now, we recommend the ol’ stash-and-see.
Cam Newton is Done
First and foremost, can we please move on from the fashion critiques? Sure, this week’s post-game presser yielded a number of quality Mugatu memes, but your fantasy games are not won or lost by horrible hairdo’s or clothing that looks like it was yanked from a dumpster yet costs more than your monthly mortgage payment. The question is whether Newton can be relied upon to be your starting fantasy quarterback. If you’re looking at these first two weeks, your answer is no. He has yet to throw a touchdown pass and he isn’t running. There is wide speculation that the foot injury he suffered late in the preseason is the reason and while his head coach Ron Rivera vehemently denies it, the handwriting on the wall says otherwise. With just inches to go for a first-and-goal at the one-yard line, Rivera opted for a direct snap to Christian McCaffrey and watched as the Bucs defense was locked in and managed to push the running back out of bounds before he could reach the first-down marker. That was easily a QB-sneak first down and the Panthers could have/should have won that game. Rivera can say whatever he wants, but 99 times out of 100, that ball stays in Cam’s hands. An achy foot and the inability to push off properly is what we’re looking at. Will it be an issue all year? No. So tuck Cam away on your bench and get your back-up ready. Unless you’re in a 10-team league and there are a ton of QBs out there, letting him go too soon might be a mistake you don’t want to make.
Kyle Shanahan Has the 49ers Headed for the Super Bowl
If I heard the broadcast correctly, the last time the 49ers opened the year 2-0 on the road, it was the late 80’s and Joe Montana was reluctantly handing over the baton to Steve Young. Yeah, it was that ago. But now here we are and San Francisco has beaten the Bucs in Tampa and now the Bengals in Cincinnati. Even without Tevin Coleman (recovering from a high-ankle sprain), the Niners dominated with a ground game that hung almost 260 rushing yards on the Bengals defense. Jimmy Garoppolo looked like a different quarterback here in Week 2 and threw for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns. And the defense? Come on. Andy Dalton threw for over 400 yards in Seattle the week before and almost kicked the 12th Man in the jimmy-jammies. The 49ers look phenomenal, right? If you need me to pause while you contain your laughter, I can do that, because no, this is not a team I am buying into. Everyone needs to take a step back and remember just how bad the Bengals are. Forget about what they did in Week 1. They still lost the game. But the Bengals are a horrible team. Their offensive line is a mess, they have zero ground game at the moment and this defense is like a sieve. The 49ers may be 2-0 but that is a hollow 2-0 to me. Save your judgement and Bay Area eagerness for after they finish up against the Steelers, Browns and Rams over the next three weeks.
The Chargers Have Angered the Football Gods
Well something had to have happened this week, because the Chargers kicked a field goal to close out the first half and then never saw another point the rest of the way. That’s not to say they didn’t try, but they had two touchdowns nullified – one from Austin Ekeler and one from Justin Jackson – because of penalties and then kicker Ty Long channeled his inner shankapotamus and missed a pair of kicks in the second half that should have given the Chargers the lead and the win. In total, the Chargers had nine penalties that cost them 70 yards and, ultimately, at least 12 points (we can’t assume Long would have made either extra-point, can we?). This offense has the ability to put up some big points, but undisciplined football is not going to help the situation. Someone needs to un-jam one of Philip Rivers ’ eyelids and cut the head off a live chicken to pull the curse off Long’s leg. Once that happens, we are back in business.
Kirk Cousins is a Waste of a Roster Spot
Take a look outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and you’ll see the entire village armed with torches and pitchforks, ready to come after Frankenstein’s monster. How dare you give $54 million to Kirk Cousins . How dare you! Not only is the fanbase upset with what they’ve witnessed, but fantasy owners are ready to cut all ties with Cousins right now as well. He threw the ball just 10 times for just 98 yards and one score in Week 1 and followed it up with 230 yards, one touchdown and two very costly interceptions. At least the first pick appeared to be tipped, but that second one at the end of the game? What the heck was that? Cousins heaved the ball downfield and it never even looked close as it slowly dropped into the hands of Kevin King in the end zone. But are we really done with Cousins or should we, similar to Cam, just in need of a little break? I’d say it’s the latter here as well. Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison have this ground game humming and now that Cousins has his back to the wall with the fans, you know he’s ready to rebound with another “You like that?” moment. Stash and be patient. Better days are ahead.
Shares of Steelers and Saints Should Be Sold Right Now
Like rats running from a sinking ship, you all need to sell off your shares of Alvin Kamara , Michael Thomas and JuJu Smith-Schuster . They’re dead! The official word is Drew Brees is expected to miss six weeks with a torn thumb ligament and we’re all still waiting to find out if Ben Roethlisberger is going to have surgery on his injured elbow. If he does, we could be looking at a six-to-eight week absence, at the minimum, for him as well. Obviously, the notion of Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudolph leading the Saints and Steelers, respectively, is not something upon which fantasy dreams are built, but you also can’t hit the panic button just yet. You cannot trade Kamara or Thomas or Smith-Schuster as you look like a punk trying to do so. Yeah, a punk. Who’s going to give you full value for Kamara in a trade as he comes off a down week and everyone and their grandmother are saying defenses will now stack the box? How are you going to recoup the value of JuJu when everyone in your league is concerned that Rudolph won’t be able to make the same throws Big Ben could make? You need to sit on your hands and not make any kind of a panic trade. Wait and see. Evaluate. They just might surprise you. Just ask the owners of Vance McDonald right now. And beware the sharks. They smell blood in the water and the lowball offers are about to come piling in. Keep in mind – anyone offering you a deal to “help” you in your time of need is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Chiefs Wide Receivers Are Interchangeable Cogs in the Machine
Well, damn….this one just might be true. This offense is all Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes . Could Reid do it without the reigning MVP? Maybe. But not likely. Mahomes is incredibly gifted and while I’m not going to laud him as the first QB fantasy owners will recommend you take in the first round, that third or fourth-round value is looking pretty tasty. With no Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins under close coverage, Reid and Mahomes set it up to make rookie Mecole Hardman and veteran wideout Demarcus Robinson look like first-round talent as well. Robinson was dominant with six grabs for 172 yards and two scores and can you imagine the numbers for Hardman had LeSean McCoy ’s stupid holding penalty not negated that 72-yard TD strike? Oh baby! Give it up for Travis Kelce who remains one of the most dominant forces on the field, but before we start making it rain at Club FAAB to acquire Robinson (something I told you guys to do last week), understand that we may not be able to exactly pinpoint who among the receivers is going to see the work. This week it was Robinson. Next week it may be Hardman or Watkins again. Before you go spending your not-so-hard-earned FAAB dollar or use your waiver priority, check the individual coverage match-ups and try to read the tea leaves. We’ll help you along the way, but you should get your research started for Week 3 against the Ravens as soon as the data starts rolling out on Tuesday.
Kyler Murray is Improving at the NFL Level
Simply put – no. He is not. Murray is definitely posting fantasy-friendly passing yard numbers, but he failed to throw a touchdown here in Week 2 and he’s got a whopping 17 rushing yards through two weeks. What’s worse is that Murray doesn’t do much of anything for the first three quarters of a game and then suddenly lights it up in the fourth, giving the illusion that he’s improving. Maybe someone needs to tell him and Kliff Kingsbury that we play four quarters at this level and if you want to win, you need to show up for each one of them. The Cardinals may be able to escape with a victory against some more defensively-challenged teams, but if Kingsbury and Murray don’t start game-planning for the first half, they’re going to be spending the rest of the season making in-game adjustments on how to play from behind and never quite get there. It’s easy to pad your numbers when the defense is pulling back to protect the lead, but using that as your fantasy quarterback is not the recipe for success.
Carlos Hyde Owns the Texans Backfield
He may be on his fifth team in two years, but he’s still better than Duke Johnson . Yep. I said it. And you know what…? It’s a fact. For all of you who overrated the value of poor ol’ Dukie and criticized me for not placing him higher in the preseason rankings (he never made it higher than 36th on my board in PPR formats), well where are you now? What do you have to say for yourselves? The 25-year old who just needed an opportunity outside of Cleveland has given you what…? Fifteen carries for 88 yards? Four catches for 33? BORING!!! You can complain about the offensive line all you want. You can cry about having to face the Jaguars if you need to, but the bottom line is that Hyde managed to produce 90 yards on 20 carries against the Jags and he had 83 rushing yards the week before. This backfield belongs to him and your boy Duke is nothing more than a third-down pass-catching back. He is a complement, not a star. The sooner you get that through your head, the less you’ll mistakenly throw him into your starting lineup at the expense of…well…anyone else.
The Slot Receiver Facing the Bears is a Must-Own in DFS Each Week
No, this plan did not work in Week 1 for Geronimo Allison owners, but I think we can all look back at the Packers offense that first game and understand that very few of the players were on the same page. Heck, even Aaron Rodgers and his head coach Matt LaFleur weren’t even on the same book, let alone chapter or page. But as we all witnessed yesterday, attacking Buster Skrine is the way to go. Raise your hand if you started Emmanuel Sanders in either seasonal or DFS? I don’t see many hands. I had Sanders in the example lineups Sunday and I had him active in every league I have a share. Say what you want about Joe Flacco , but against Skrine in the slot, Sanders managed to produce 98 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. He was a PPR-dreamboat and damn sexy in standard leagues as well. Now am I expecting this kind of production from Sanders every week? Nope. But what I am doing is making sure I own shares of Trey Quinn everywhere I can for Week 3. Adam Thielen for Week 4. Hunter Renfrow in Week 5 and yes, even Tre’Quan Smith for Week 6. It is a very simple formula and one that will bring you continued success all year…at least until the Bears wise-up and put him on the bench.
Lots of work ahead of us, people! Congrats if you won this week, but we don’t rest on our laurels. Glean what you need from the above takes and use the information to keep yourself on that winning path next week.