Dwight Howard

NFL Fantasy: Validation Week

On the second Sunday of the 2019 NFL Fantasy Football season, millions of team managers watched games with crossed fingers hoping to see their initial reactions to Week 1 pan out.

Would their new receivers ball out again? Would their patience with under-performers from last week be rewarded? Would Tom Brady feed AB as one popular television host reported? Or would the newest Patriot see only a few touches as the pre-game reporter predicted?

Joe Ross, TJ Hockensen, Lamar Jackson, Devante Adams, OJ Howard, and Carlos Hyde answered many of our post-opener questions and theories.

Unfortunately, many of the answers lead to more questions heading into Week 3. Those questions are even more difficult to manage as we get wind of MRI results and morning-after aches and pains.

But here is the early scoop on some of fantasy football’s biggest conundrums.

The Real Deals

Lamar Jackson didn’t throw for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns this week. Instead, he had the type of Lamar Jackson game we expected. The Ravens quarterback threw for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. But it was the 120 rushing yards he tacked on that carried him to another 30+ point fantasy football performance.

Not only will I say Jackson is the real deal; I’ll say he could be another Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes edged out Jackson for the QB-1 honors this week. They are two of the three quarterbacks to post top-5 quarterback fantasy totals in each of the first two weeks.

Dak Prescott is the third. He followed up last week’s QB-2 tally with the QB-3 performance (27.88 points). Like Jackson, Prescott’s opponents (Giants and Redskins) don’t boast world-beating defenses. That gives Dak-haters hope that he’s not as good as he looks. But he’s good enough to be a real deal.

Todd Gurley’s days as a workhorse back might be over, but he’s still pretty good. Last week, we worried if he would lose all his goal-line carries to Malcolm Brown. He didn’t this week and one touchdown on top of his 67 total yards and a few catches made him a top-11 running back.

It warmed hearts to see Gurley garner the bulk of RB touches. On the other hand, Malcolm Brown had more yards-per-carry and yards-per-catch. That also means whoever of Gurley or Brown scores a touchdown will be a top-20 RB, which makes Gurley not quite as real as he used to be.

Do you know who is for real? Dalvin Cook took the RB-1 spot this week with another big day for Minnesota (28.1 points). The Vikings are serious about running the ball and that means plenty of a still-healthy Cook.

Austin Ekeler got 75% of the Chargers’ running back touches and snaps again this week. Derrick Henry had 80 yards rushing and a touchdown for his second Top-10 performance. Josh Jacobs looks like he’s for real too, after rushing for 99 yards.

Emmanuel Sanders’ knee is not a concern and fellow old-timers Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, and Larry Fitzgerald are showing they are still for real even as youngsters home in on their turf. Devante Adams also went over 100 yards after his disastrous opening day.

Calvin Ridley is back, and rookies Terry McLaurin and Marquise Brown are off to a good start. Their situations should help make them real.

Brown’s teammate, Mark Andrews, looks like the real deal at tight end. Darren Waller put together a pair of 10-point games, too.

Reasonable Doubt

Week 2 left us wondering if any other Week 1 or preseason promise is just a dream. The jury is still out on Kyler Murray. That might not be fair after he finished as a Top-10 quarterback in each of his first two weeks, but Baltimore sold out against the run and dared Murray to throw touchdowns. He didn’t.

That could be the anti-Cardinals game plan going forward since the quarterbacks don’t get points for field goals or RB runs. I worry defenses will further adapt and limit the fantasy football output of the rookie passer.

Aaron Rodgers has the Packers on top of the NFC North with a 2-0 record but gave us QB-24 and QB-18 efforts along the way.

Jameis Winston will no longer be called a sleeper, unless he is facing the Dolphins or the Giants – like he is this week.

Jacobi Brissett and Gardner Minshew are being asked to manage games. They might get some real-life wins, but they are not leading us to fantasy football glory any time soon.

Malcolm Brown scored two touchdowns last week and can grab yards in chunks, but he still is a clear number 2 to Todd Gurley. We saw this week that Brown is not the goal line back as long as Gurley is healthy.

Phillip Lindsay is the second back in Denver, too. Not that I’m stocking up on Royce Freeman.

Leonard Fournette is not the top-tier back he used to be. Volume should be king, but with no second running back on the team and an offense trying to manage the clock with a second-string passer, the best he can do is RB-18? When he failed to convert that last-second two-point conversion, Fournette fell off my radar.

One week after Danny Amendola and tight end TJ Hockensen caught most of Matthew Stafford’s passes across the middle, Stafford found his outside receivers, Marvin Jones, Jr and Kenny Golladay. Amendola and Hockensen combined for 1 catch on 4 targets for 7 yards.

Dante Pettis followed up his two-target performance of Week 1 by taking a firm “0” for his Week 2 effort. Also, Donte Moncrief was charged with a dropped pass on his only target of the game. Washington is the winner of the WR-2 designation by default in Pittsburgh.

Sammy Watkins disappeared this week despite projections of a monster game in Tyreek Hill’s absence. Instead, DeMarcus Robinson – who you might recall was a waiver suggestion here last week- took over the top spot.

Offenses to Count On… Or Not

You don’t need me to tell you the Rams and Chiefs make every skill player a viable fantasy football threat. You also don’t need me to warn you off about the Dolphins. But we better review the offenses dealing with injured quarterbacks, because their impact could turn the fantasy football world on its head this week.

We already see two examples on the board. Indianapolis’ Jacobi Brissett looked like he could sustain TY Hilton and Marlon Mack after good performances in Week 1. Hilton fell from the WR-6 spot to the WR-30. However, he still managed 14.3 points on 4 catches, 43 yards, and a touchdown. But opponents bottled up Marlon Mack (8.3 pts- RB-36) all day. Hilton and Mack have high ceilings and we might have just seen their floors. Eric Ebron scored a touchdown, but he and fellow tight end Jack Doyle are too uneven to trust.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew changed the dynamic of the Jaguars’ perceived receiving game for fantasy football. Preseason sleeper Dede Westbrook is definitely not Minshew’s favorite target. Instead, Chris Conley and DJ Chark are playing bigger roles in the offense. Chark, in particular, could be a popular streamer for anyone in trouble during bye weeks.

New Orleans has an experienced backup for Drew Brees in Teddy Bridgewater. A good week of practice should help him run the offense as planned. But he probably won’t. He didn’t look good off the bench, but I suspect he will be better when we see him next time.

The change in the Saints’ offense might be to subtly shorten some routes. It would be wise to pay attention to Saints’ beat writers this week to see if Bridgewater shows a preference for a different receiver. My best guess is that Jared Cook and Latavius Murray benefit a bit if Brees is sidelined.

Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow is a major concern, complicated by the late-game knee injury to James Connor. But the truth is, Pittsburgh’s offense already looked incredibly ordinary without Le’Veon Bell and Andre Brown. While one could say the Steelers’ offense ran a little better when Mason Rudolph entered the game, Pittsburgh will try to control the game flow better, which could affect their receivers.

Denver has an above-average defense, but when no Bears’ wideout or tight end is among the top 55 fantasy football receivers, I worry about those preseason reports of regression on the part of Mitchell Trubisky. Allen Robinson is good, but his quarterback gives him and every other Chicago receiver a low floor.

Philadelphia didn’t just get beat Sunday; they got beat up! DeSean Jackson (groin), Alshon Jeffrey (calf), Dallas Goedert (calf), and Corey Clement (shoulder) were all knocked out of the game. Zach Ertz looked like a candidate to join them after the 100th blow to his ribs. Carson Wentz also took some serious hits. All of it has me warily remembering the Eagles offense last season when injuries took their toll.

Speaking of Injuries

Drew Brees stayed in Los Angeles to see a hand specialist today. He couldn’t grip a football without pain after what appears to be a thumb or wrist issue.

Roethlisberger was in obvious pain when throwing before he left the game trying to work something out of his elbow. He’ll get an MRI today, as will James Connor (knee).

Kansas City’s Damien Williams will also get an examination of his knee. LeSean McCoy will probably see more action if Williams misses next week’s game against the Ravens, but you might want to see if Darwin Thompson is available for any long-term issues.

Baltimore’s primary rusher, Mark Ingram, finished this week’s game but left little doubt his body is hurting. After being on the injury report all week with shoulder soreness, Ingram fell to his knees on the sidelines after one play and was assisted to the blue tent. It is a situation for Ingram owners (or savvy waiver wire hawks) to watch.

Bills rookie Devin Singletary left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. We’ll have to wait for word as to how severe it is.

When David Johnson left the game with a wrist injury, there were a lot of gasps and moans. But he says everything is alright and he returned to finish the game after some treatment.

Tight end Tyler Higbee was removed from the Rams’ game with a chest injury.

Waiver Prospects

Based on performance-to-date and their Week 3 matchups, there is not a single quarterback generally available in 50% or more of leagues who I would confidently stream.

But for any desperate Roethlisberger or Brees owners out there who don’t want to roll the dice on their replacements, Jameis Winston gets one last chance as he faces the pathetic Giants secondary on his home field. Josh Allen at the Bills’ home opener might have some excitement in him too.

If Raheem Mostert is still available, I’d pick him up. San Francisco is running a true committee, but both Breida and Mostert bring decent ceilings and floors. Jeff Wilson scored twice, but that was in a rout. Don’t expect the third runner to do that every week.

Frank Gore is worth a stab in his home opener, especially if Devin Singletary is out. I would not expect the Bills’ TJ Yeldon or Patrick DeMarco to pick up chunks of yardage like Singletary did in limited opportunities.

Darwin Thompson might cover part of Damien Williams’ load. Jaylen Samuels might be forced into service in Pittsburgh. Even if Connor plays, Samuels might see an uptick in touches with backup Mason Rudolph at quarterback.

Demarcus Robinson will be a popular add as Tyreek Hill is not expected back yet. Nelson Agholor should see some action if Alshon Jeffrey and/or DeSean Jackson misses time in Philly.

DJ Chark seems to be a favorite target of the Jacksonville passer. If Sam Deebo, Terry McLaurin, or Mecole Hardman slipped through from last week, they are worth roster spots, too.

Will Dissly is back in Seattle. If you’re not happy with your tight end, see if the Jets’ Chris Herndon is available for future reference. He’ll be on the field in Week 6 (Jets have an early bye week.)

If there was any doubt about the worthiness of streaming any DST against the Dolphins, please note that the New England Patriots, notorious for slow DST starts, put up an overall best Week 2 score (half-PPR) of 37 points.

Unfortunately, Dallas plays Miami this week and is probably not available. However, you can also get some mileage out of Tennessee (vs Jacksonville), Washington (vs Bears), or the 49ers against the Steelers without Roethlisberger and Connor.

Extra Points

Miles Sanders got the bulk of carries and snaps for the Eagles last night. You know and I know that this means nothing in the world that is Philadelphia. Next week, Jordan Howard might be on the field all night. But, we can hope the rookie breaks off a run or two and takes over the committee soon.

Carlos Hyde was only the RB-32, but he had 20 carries for 90 yards. Duke Johnson got 6 carries and the only target thrown to a running back. Apparently, all the excitement about having healthy wide receivers on the field has eliminated the enthusiasm for Johnson in the passing game. He could be drop material for a worthy waiver add.

David Montgomery got noticeably more work in Chicago’s victory in Denver. He scored his first touchdown and caught a pass in an RB-15 effort that gives hope to his fantasy managers (and Bears fans!)

Marquise Brown (13) and Mark Andrews (10) accounted for 23 of the 38 targets from Lamar Jackson. Seven different players shared the other 15.

The entire Miami Dolphins offense combined for 29.8 fantasy football points against New England. That was less than three players (Demarcus Robinson, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson) and less than the Patriots’ defense (37).

Remember- you can send fantasy football questions to us on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below. We’ll answer every one of them for you before game day.


Pat Opperman NFL Fantasy Analyst, click here for more.

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