Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 2
Howard Bender recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw.
What in the world is going on here? Madness, right? Sheer madness. If you thought you were going to see a nice, easy-going season in the NFL, then you really haven’t been paying attention to the world around you. It’s 2020, baby, and it’s going to continue being one of the wildest rides of your lives. I’d wish you all good luck, but that’s just pointless. The football gods have their plans and we are all just helpless pawns in their game.
Here’s what we are all dealing with now…
My Fantasy Football Season is Over – Decimated by Injuries
We headed into Week 1 without Miles Sanders, Kenny Golladay and Courtland Sutton , while Mike Evans was questionable with a hamstring issue. Then we lost Michael Thomas , A.J. Brown, Jamison Crowder , Le’Veon Bell, Marlon Mack , James Conner , Phillip Lindsay , George Kittle , Jack Doyle and Blake Jarwin . A brutal start, right? Well, Week 2 just walked in and said, “Hold my beer.”
Though it has yet to be confirmed, it would appear that Saquon Barkley suffered a torn ACL on Sunday and his season is done. Test results on Monday are expected. Christian McCaffrey also left early on Sunday with an ankle injury and is now headed for an MRI of his own. Oh, we’re not even close to done.
Raheem Mostert sprained his MCL, Cam Akers hurt his rips, Davante Adams has ankle and hamstring problems, Courtland Sutton now injured his knee, Parris Campbell hurt his too, Chris Godwin is still concussed, Sammy Watkins may now be too, Sterling Shepard has a toe problem, Breshad Perriman ’s ankle is hurt, Jimmy Garoppolo has a high-ankle sprain of his own, Drew Lock sprained his shoulder, Tyrod Taylor's chest hurts and C.J. Uzomah tore his Achilles on Thursday.
Brutal, right? Welcome to the NFL in 2020. Injuries happen all the time, but make no mistake – no OTAs, no mini-camp and a shortened preseason have all left these players extremely vulnerable and we are witnessing first-hand how and why the NFL amended its IR policy and why it was necessary to have more IR spots added to your fantasy leagues. This is only the beginning and we haven’t even dealt with any COVID outbreaks yet – at least none with the players yet. Fans and referees only for now.
But before you start bitching that your season is over because you just lost half your roster, understand that so did everyone else. And if they didn’t, they are about to as we start preparing for Week 3. For lack of a better phrase, this is where we separate the men from the boys; the women from the girls, if you will. Or let’s just say the competitors from the quitters. This is why you spend all those hours prepping for your draft, learning teams’ rosters and coaching systems and focusing now on your in-season strategy. Sure, you can quit and say how 2020 was a disaster and you got screwed, but no one wants to hear that kind of whining and crying. Stand tall. Roll with the punches. Start formulating your waiver/FAAB game plan now and be prepared. Your season is far from over so stop being a baby.
Cam Newton is Already Comeback Player of the Year
For those of you who love to pro-rate numbers for a full season, Newton may be on-pace to pass for only eight touchdowns, but he’s going to rush for 32. Impressive, right? After playing in just two games in 2019, Newton has new life in New England and he’s got all of Boston’s finest asking the question, “Tom who?” OK, so it’s not going to really go down all year like this, but you simply cannot argue against what we’ve seen no matter how bad you think Seattle’s and Miami’s defense might be. The one thing everyone said about Cam being a viable fantasy option was that it would be dependent on his legs and so far, he’s averaging 56 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns per game. Obviously, this pace won’t keep up, but it is clear that Bill Belichick has tweaked his system to cater to Cam’s strengths and we are looking at yet another successful project-player being effective in the Patriots’ system. His biggest competition for this award may have been Ben Roethlisberger , but anyone who watched football knows…
Big Ben Now Sucks at Home Too
Yeah, that’s right – sucks. It doesn’t matter that the Steelers won the game or that he threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He still looked terrible doing it. There were times when he just didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and what was up with all the throws batted down at the line? Sure, that touchdown pass to Chase Claypool looked great, but his throws lacked zip and there were quite a number of wobblers, some shoestring catches and had he not been facing a depleted Denver secondary who just lost its best corner in A.J. Bouye , there would have been more interceptions. You can think all you want that his homecoming was great and he led the Steelers to their second win in two weeks, but as the opponents get tougher, he’s going to struggle.
Josh Allen Will Win the NFL MVP
While everyone looks to past heroes like Cam and Big Ben, we like to live in the now and right now we are looking at a breakout campaign. For those who dismissed Josh Allen ’s Week 1 300-yard, two-touchdown performance because he was facing the Jets, well how does 417 yards and four touchdowns taste? Oh, it was against Miami? Yeah, ok, you can keep thinking that. But after two-straight seasons with a completion rate under 60-percent, check out our boy Josh and his 70.4-percent mark through the first two games of the season. His yards per attempt are up nearly three yards per pass, his accuracy has significantly improved, he extends plays with his legs, runs when he has to and he’s putting a big ol’ smile on all the face in Bills Mafia and fantasy. You can dismiss it as two soft opponents or you can hop on the bandwagon now before the rest of the fantasy community calls you a poser. Don’t worry. I’ll make room for you.
Justin Herbert Will Be Rookie of the Year
Tua who? Clyde Edwards-Who-Cares? Where is Cam Fakers or Henry Buggs? OK, fine, Joe Burrow looks amazing and Jonathan Taylor rushed for 100 yards in his first game, but these guys had the chance to prepare for the starts to their seasons. Herbert was thrown right into the fire Sunday when a pre-game chest injury forced the Chargers to pivot off Tyrod Taylor and let Justin Herbert take the reins. The Chiefs may have won the game, but they were expected to. In fact, this game had an 8.5-point spread. The Chiefs were supposed to maul the Chargers. Did they? Not even close. In fact, Herbert had such a nice debut (along with a great performance by the defense), it took an overtime field goal for Kansas City to escape with the victory. Herbert finished the day with 311 passing yards, one touchdown throw, one pick and 18 rushing yards that included a rushing touchdown of his own. He was a solid fit for the system Anthony Lynn and Shane Steichen brought to the team this season and Herbert even helped elevate the talent around him, most notably Austin Ekeler . Keep your eyes on this kid and if you need a fantasy quarterback to replace yours who got hurt, he’s got the Panthers, Jets and Dolphins over the next five weeks with the Bucs and Saints mixed in. The AFC West better be careful as the Bolts could be as strong as 5-2 through the first seven weeks of the season.
Vomitous, right? Well, the sun shines on a dog’s ass at least once and here we go, two weeks in and Davis already has one 100-yard game and his first touchdown since Week 7 of 2019. Following in the footsteps of DeVante Parker , Davis sucked over the first four years of his career. Blame the crappy QB situation in Tennessee all you want, he has been a miserable failure at the NFL level after being colossally overhyped coming out of college. But lo and behold, here we are and Davis looks like 2020’s breakout candidate. Of course, he does. That would be so 2020, wouldn’t it? After all, you do realize that Corey Davis is an anagram for COVIDs Year, right? And you thought this year couldn’t get more disgusting. Well, all you Davis truthers who are now crawling out of the woodwork with your “I told you so’s” and “We were right about him all along,” enjoy your mini victory lap for the time being. This too shall pass. A.J. Brown will return soon enough and all of you with Davis in your lineup will be scrambling around in Week 5 asking if you should start him or Scotty Miller. This one just ain’t happening.
Ronald Jones is Finished in Tampa Bay
Speaking of Tampa Bay (nice segue, right?), if it wasn’t obvious to you before, the fact that Bruce Arians never wanted Ronald Jones to be his starting running back is slapping you in the face right now. Listen, the handwriting was on the wall when they drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn. It was put in all caps and bold type when they signed LeSean McCoy . When they added Leonard Fournette to the mix, it was a punch in the face, telling you to wake up. Despite all the lip service saying that Jones was his lead back, Arians was looking for an excuse – maybe even hoping and praying – to pull the guy from the starting job and when he fumbled an exchange (which may or may not have been Tom Brady ’s fault), Arians finally had his moment. From that point in the game on, Leonard Fournette took over the starting role and will now hold onto it for the duration of the season. Regrettably, I had Fournette on the bench in all but one of the leagues I am in because I figured it might take another week for the transition to be made, but those days are behind me. This guy becomes a must-start every week and you don’t even have to hit me up on Twitter to ask.
The Falcons Will Go 0-16 and Still Lead You to a Fantasy Championship
You can hear all about the Cowboys epic comeback and last-minute victory on today’s Fantasy Alarm Show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. You know Jim Bowden is going to go bananacakes for this one and it’s going to be a horror show for all non-Cowboys fans. A horror show. I may even pull a Tyrod Taylor and call out sick. But the takeaway from this game isn’t how the Cowboys better give Dak Prescott a new contract before they are forced to make him the first Billion-Dollar Man, no. It’s about how absolutely pathetic the Atlanta Falcons defense is this season. How does an NFL team with a top defensive-minded coach allow a team to come back on them like that? That was just pathetic. Maybe things would have been different had Julio Jones not dropped that easy-peasy touchdown thrown by fellow wideout Russell Gage , but who cares? They never should have let them get back into it the way they did. Just awful and downright inexcusable.
But the real takeaway here is that those of us who own Falcons in fantasy do not want to see this defense improve one bit. Hell no. Why would we? Matt Ryan had 273 passing yards and four touchdowns and wasn’t able to take his foot off the gas. Calvin Ridley topped 100 yards and had two touchdowns. Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst each found the end zone and, again, Julio should have as well. In Week 1 they were forced to pass to play catch-up. This week they aired it out successfully and had to continue. It doesn’t matter if they jump out early or not, this team is going to stay in passing mode all game long. And don’t worry…if Dan Quinn gets fired, the team will likely just bump up OC Dirk Koetter who LOVEs to throw the ball. This is win-win for Falcons owners and none of us in fantasy care if they win a game all year.
The Vikings Will Go 0-16 and Win You DFS Money By Stacking Against Them
As much as I love Dalvin Cook , Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, this is going to be a veritable nightmare year for the Vikings. This defense is awful. Absolutely awful. They can’t stop the run as Danielle Hunter is on IR and Linval Joseph is on the Chargers. Their secondary, save for poor Harrison Smith , is in complete shambles. Unless they were to actually make a trade (or three) for help, this is going to be a major area for fantasy owners and DFS players to target. Imagine how bad the damage would have been had it not been Philip Rivers ? You can start doing your Week 3 research right now and start building your lineups around Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill . Oh man….even Corey Davis is about to land in mine and I will hate myself every step of the way as I deposit mad cash into the bank.
You Can Shove Your Packers Regression Up Your…
OK, we’ll keep it P.G. here. No need to finish off the column with a bunch of profanity. But holy moly, did this offense open up a can of whoop-ass on the Lions this week. Aaron Rodgers didn’t even need to follow up his Week 1 studliness with a high-level performance this week. His 240 yards and two touchdowns were nice, but Aaron Jones was just downright beastly. He finished the day with 236 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns and he is already on-pace to destroy last season’s totals. We can rein it in a bit, but with more games against the Vikings and Lions, along with match-ups against the Falcons, Panthers and Jaguars, it’s beginning to look a lot like 2019 for the Packers. Don’t pay any attention to the haters after they quiet down in Week 3 against the Saints and everyone starts saying, “See, look what happens when they face a good defense.” Who cares right now? They’re going to be facing plenty of crappy defenses throughout this season and that chip that’s sitting on Aaron Rodgers ’ shoulder ain’t going away.