What have we learned so far with two weeks of games played? Well for one thing, Fantasy owners need to be patient. How many owners wanted to throw James Jones off a cliff or push Eric Decker under a bus after Week One? This week, Jones only had 11 receptions for 178 yards and Decker nine for 87. Patience, relax, it’s a long season. That’s not to say there aren’t some players that I’m concerned about. Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore are two veterans who, if I said they will be fine, I’d be lying. MJD is on a terrible team and there really is no disputing that. Perhaps he gets traded by the deadline. Gore is playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, yet still hasn’t looked all that sharp to begin the season. What is even more worrisome, though, is that Kendall Hunter has looked good and LaMichael James will also be back soon to fight for carries. Bottom line is, don’t panic, even if you’re 0-2, you don’t want to do anything rash that you will regret later, but it is time to start taking a stronger look at your roster and see what is and what isn’t working.
I’m not panicking about Tom Brady and that offense yet, but now you know why some Fantasy pundits ranked Brady so low. If you’re a Danny Amendola owner, you certainly don’t have the right to be upset that he is injured. He’s hurt every year. Staying healthy is a skill; some players have it, some don’t. Amendola does not have it. When Rob Gronkowski comes back, does that mean the offense is back to normal? That is the million dollar question. With the lack of receiving depth on this team and no threat of a running attack, opposing defenses are going to scheme to stop Gronkowski, and force Brady to find another way to beat them. Not to mention there is no guarantee that Gronk will be back to his normal self as soon as he returns, or that he stays healthy for the remainder of the season.
What is wrong with the Dallas offense? Head coach Jason Garrett was forced to give up play calling during the off-season to OL coach Bill Callahan, but really nothing has changed. Well, one thing has, gone are the explosive plays. Dallas has become a dink and dunk offense under Callahan, rarely throwing the ball into the secondary. Is this because the OL can’t protect Tony Romo long enough for him to get the ball deep? Is it to eliminate Romo’s chances of throwing an interception? Probably both, but one thing for sure, it’s eliminating touchdowns, and oh yeah, the running game is non-existent once again. In a close game Sunday versus KC, Callahan did not call one running play. That’s not a misprint, not one running play was called, yikes.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid also isn’t a big believer in the run game, as Jamaal Charles only had six carries in the first half, but this is what Reid does. Charles is still a big part of the passing game and the Chiefs did run the ball to kill the clock, but Reid is thinking pass first, pass second, and pass third. One observation from this game, though, is that if the Chiefs keep running Alex Smith on naked bootlegs, he won’t be long for this season.
Fantasy owners had a mixed bag from the Falcons on Sunday. The good news was that the questionable Julio Jones played and had a great game with 11 catches for 182 yards and a score, but his partner in crime, Roddy White, was once again hobbled by an ankle injury and only had three catches for 21 yards. Right now you have to consider benching White next week unless he practices at least twice. White himself told Fantasy owners that if he doesn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday, then you shouldn’t start him on Sunday. More bad news was seeing Steven Jackson leave the game after his touchdown reception. It’s a thigh injury which doesn’t sound too severe. At least he accumulated seven Fantasy points before leaving.
Rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin had six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Atlanta. The Rams believe he is the playmaker they have lacked since the Greatest Show on Turf left town. That remains to be seen, as most of his damage came in garbage time when the team was down three scores.
Speaking of rookie success stories, it looks like the Bills have found their quarterback of the future in EJ Manuel. His numbers against a tough Carolina defense Sunday (27-39 for 296 yards and a score) are quite impressive. His game winning drive proves that he is not afraid of the pressure that comes with being a starting QB in the NFL. He looks to be a worthy starter in a 2QB league. Manuel’s success is also making rookie WR Robert Woods an option for Fantasy owners.
If the Vikings had a backup quarterback worthy of starting, you have to wonder if he would still be the starter by now. Christian Ponder is just not getting the job done. Fortunately for him, that backup is Matt Cassel, who didn’t exactly light the world on fire when he was the starter for Kansas City. Imagine the kind of damage Adrian Peterson would do if he actually had a real NFL QB under center.
The Redskins were right to play it careful with Robert Griffin III during the off-season. It’s obvious from the first two games that not playing in the pre-season has hurt him so far. Will he get better? Yes, but the growing pains may remain for another game or two. For the Skins, it’s more important that RGIII is healthy for the next 10 years. Alfred Morris gained over 100 yards yesterday, but most of those yards came in garbage time when Green Bay was playing their safeties well off the line of scrimmage. Now Fantasy owners don’t care how he gains the yards, but the Skins won’t get blown out of every game (at least I’m pretty sure they won’t) it might be nice if he could gain those yards while the outcome is still in doubt. Lucky for the Skins and Giants for that matter, that it doesn’t look like anyone in the NFC East is going to run away with this division.
The squeaky wheel got the grease in Indianapolis. Dolphins WR Mike Wallace complained last week, even though the team won, about not getting the ball thrown his way enough. Here’s to guessing he will be quiet this week after hauling in nine passes for 115 yards and a score. Lamar Miller also showed up for this game, as he had 69 yards on 14 carries, a 4.9 YPC, and actually got into the end zone. Daniel Thomas’ owners couldn’t have been happy about TE/FB Charles Clay getting the rock at the goal line for a score. Thomas did have eight carries for 30 yards, but if he isn’t going to get the ball at the goal line, his value is severely limited.
The season-ending injury to Vick Ballard has now made Ahmad Bradshaw a must start each week, at least until he gets hurt. Donald Brown is also a pickup now, as he should handle part of that running load for Indianapolis. In deeper leagues, Kerwynn Williams may be someone you want to keep an eye on.
Between the radio shows on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio, the emails we receive at RotoExperts.com, and my twitter account, the question I received most last week was what to do with Michael Vick? Should I start Vick over so and so? Questions like that. After the first two weeks of the season, outside of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and possibly Matt Ryan, I’m starting Vick. Is he going to get hurt? Yes. Could he get hurt on the first drive of a game, thus killing your Fantasy week? Yes, but if he stays healthy, he seems to be 30-plus Fantasy points waiting to happen. He’s a must-start for me right now along with DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.
Ray Rice left the game Sunday with a hip flexor strain which doesn’t look to be all that serious. The Ravens offense is a work in progress right now as they only managed 14 points, at home, against Cleveland. Now the Browns have a good defense, but not that good. Marlon Brown was a popular waiver wire pickup last week after Jacoby Jones went down and he didn’t disappoint as he caught a TD. Brown could be an even better Fantasy play during the next couple of weeks should Rice be forced to miss time. One would think Joe Flacco would have to drop back to pass more often without the bread and butter of the Ravens offense.
Arian Foster’s owners can relax. He looks healthy and having Ben Tate take away a handful of touches from him may not be the worst thing in the world. Perhaps it will keep him fresh throughout the season. Matt Schaub has gotten off to a hot start this season. Is it because the addition of DeAndre Hopkins has given him a legitimate second receiver to throw to? It looks that way. Schaub has also had to throw more than expected in the early going this season, as the team has been behind in both games.
If you’re in a 2QB league or a Josh Freeman owner, and you need a QB to cover your byes as the season wears on and your waiver wire has been picked clean, I’d grab Mike Glennon. Freeman doesn’t seem long for the starting job. Not only is he not playing well, but he wasn’t voted a captain by his teammates, missed the team photo, and now we are hearing he might ask for a trade. Another thing to consider. Freeman wasn’t drafted by Schiano, Glennon was. This seems to be just a matter of when, not if. Tampa has their bye in Week 5. That could leave Freeman two weeks to get his act together as the bye week would give Schiano two weeks to get Glennon ready.
Speaking of just a matter of time, Reggie Bush was hurt in the game Sunday. Shocking, I know. Bush took a helmet to the knee and suffered a deep bruise. As of now he is questionable to go in Week 3 although the smart money is on him playing. What this should do however is tell head coach Jim Schwartz that he needs to manage Bush’s workload. Yes Bush is dynamic and the more he is on the field the better chance of a big play, but you can’t get any plays from him if he’s stuck on the bench because of injury.
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fantasy owners should’ve learned the lesson from Week 1 where Roddy White was a decoy thanks to that ankle injury. Well Larry Fitzgerald was pretty much the same yesterday due to a bad hammy. It’s so hard to sit a superstar, but if they’re not anywhere near 100%, then sometimes it’s just better safe than sorry.
I really have very little to say about the Jaguars and Raiders. Chad Henne didn’t make that offense look all that much better. I am worried about MJD. I just have to wonder if he’s lost some of that swag because of who he is playing for. I really think he needs a change of scenery. In the humorous part of today’s column, a group of Jaguar fans will hold a rally to urge the team to sign Tim Tebow. Well, he really can’t be any worse than Henne or Blaine Gabbert.
The Manning bowl was a bit of a disappointment as Peyton had his way against his younger sibling. Eli threw four more picks yesterday giving him seven so far this season, ouch. David Wilson did get his starting job back but it didn’t matter much as running room was tough to find, but hey, at least he didn’t fumble the football.
Montee Ball however did fumble the ball, inside the Giants 5-yard line, and although he wasn’t benched, he has given a clear opening to Knowshon Moreno, who took it and ran. Moreno had 93 yards on 13 carries and scored twice. It may be his job to lose for the immediate future.
I’m not sure anyone can beat the Seahawks in Seattle. That 12th man is no joke. If the Hawks can get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they are going to the Super Bowl.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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