Week 2 had come and gone – do we know who's good yet?
Specifically, do we know which defenses are good yet? With bye weeks starting in Week 4, we're that much closer to playing matchups with fringe starters and fill-ins, so it's important to figure out which teams struggle against certain positions.
Looking at overall stats helps. It's pretty easy to see that Seattle is strong against the pass (113 yards allowed per game) and San Diego struggles (375.5), but there are usually extenuating circumstances to consider. For instance, if a team has played against a mobile quarterback, their numbers against the run could be skewed. The Colts, who rank 29th in rush defense, are a good example. Raiders' QB Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards against them in Week 1, but overall, they've only given up 75 rushing yards per game to RBs.
Likewise, if a team has led by a large margin in the second half, their numbers against the pass could be inflated. The Broncos, who have cruised to victory both weeks, have the 28th-ranked pass defense, but much of the damage has been in garbage time.
Finally, strength of schedule matters, too. The Chiefs have only allowed nine points per game, and while holding the Cowboys to 16 points last week was impressive, it was a home contest. Their Week 1 matchup against Jacksonville, where they allowed two points, doesn't tell us anything. It's too early to say they're an elite defense even though the numbers tell us they are.
Now, let's look at some risers and fallers at each offensive position after the first two weeks. Also, don't forget to send your questions in for Friday's fantasy mailbag. Every Friday during the season, we'll tackle the best fantasy questions of the week and help you with roster, trade and strategy decisions. You can submit your questions by 5:00 p.m. CT every Thursday. Please specify players with common last names (e.g. Davis, Jackson, etc.) and include the relevant scoring parameters of your league (e.g. PPR, passing TDs worth 4 points, etc.).
It was another big week for quarterbacks, though several “starters” disappointed, including Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick (more on him in a second), Russell Wilson and Tony Romo. We know there's no real reason to worry about Brees, but the others might have owners thinking about playing their backups, especially if said backup is Michael Vick, who once again had a huge game. Several other backups, including
It still seems too early to bench most QB1s for any of the guys listed above, with the possible exception of Vick. Vick seems destined to put up big numbers while he's healthy, so take advantage while you can. However, there's a reason Kaepernick, Wilson and Romo were drafted where they were, and they still have more upside most weeks than the aforementioned backup options. This could obviously change, but we're still dealing with small sample sizes, so fantasy owners shouldn't rush to judgment.
Notable Riser: Philip Rivers wasn't particularly sharp in San Diego's opener despite throwing for four touchdowns, but he looked like his old self last week against the Eagles, completing 36-of-47 passes for 419 yards and three TDs. Clearly, the favorable matchup helped, but San Diego's passing game was sharp at all levels (short, intermediate, deep), and having a receiving weapon in the backfield like Danny Woodhead is something San Diego has lacked since Darren Sproles departed. The loss of deep threat Malcom Floyd (neck) will hurt, but rookie Keenan Allen might be able to fill the void. Either way, with Antonio Gates healthy and Eddie Royal doing a great Steve Smith impression, Rivers has to be considered a top backup right now.
Notable Faller: Despite rushing for 87 yards, Colin Kaepernick registered just 5.8 fantasy points last week. Blame it on the tough matchup in Seattle, blame it on the weather delay – blame it on whatever you want – but the bottom line is he looked bad. With TE Vernon Davis straining his hamstring and WR Anquan Boldin showing that he can be shut down by a physical corner, the preseason concerns about Kaepernick's lack of receiving options are suddenly more real. It will be interesting to see how Kaepernick bounces back next week in a favorable matchup against Indianapolis. He's still a QB1, but his trade value is lower.
It seems to happen around Week 2 every year, and this year was no different – injuries struck a number of key running backs. Maurice Jones-Drew (left ankle), Reggie Bush (left knee), Ray Rice (left hip), Eddie Lacy (concussion) and Steven Jackson (thigh) all left their respective games early, and all should be be considered questionable, at best, for next week.
Based on usage patterns after these players were injured, Jordan Todman (Jones-Drew), Joique Bell (Bush), Bernard Pierce (Rice), James Starks (Lacy) and a mix of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling (Jackson) will likely be the lead backs for the Jaguars, Lions, Ravens, Packers and Falcons, respectively, if the starters can't go next week. Bell, Pierce and Starks would all have a good amount of value, while Todman and the Falcons' duo would only be flex-backs, if that. If anything, Jones-Drew's and Jackson's injuries will simply cause their respective teams to throw more, creating more value for Jacksonville's and Atlanta's receivers.
Notable Riser: Denver's running back quagmire became a little clearer. Not only did Knowshon Moreno have a big game, but rookie Montee Ball also fumbled inside the 10-yard line. Ball only had one fewer carry, but it seems clear that Moreno is the lead back. Even better is that Moreno averaged 7.2 yards per carry compared to just 1.3 for Ball -- a sign that Moreno's surgically repaired knee is holding up just fine. He remains an injury risk going forward, but for now, Moreno is a solid RB2.
Notable Faller: We picked on David Wilson last week, and we're going to do it again after he gained just 17 yards on seven carries against Denver. Giants' coach Tom Coughlin said after the game that Da'Rel Scott was New York's third-down back and Brandon Jacobs, who had had seven carries and a touchdown, was the goal-line back. That doesn't leave a lot of work for Wilson, especially if he continues to struggle. At least other committee backs like Stevan Ridley (16 carries) and Ryan Mathews (16) received a good amount of touches. Even on Monday night, when electric Bengals' rookie Giovani Bernard scored twice, veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis more than doubled up his touches (23 to 9).
Another early-season tradition is the rise of rookie wide receivers, and Week 2 saw TDs from St. Louis'
Dobson likely did more harm than good to his fantasy value with his frequent drops on Thursday night, but with Danny Amendola (hip) likely out for at least four weeks, Dobson should get more chances to make plays. Patterson's TD was on a kickoff return, and he was only targeted twice in the passing game, so his fantasy value is still minimal. Hopkins (13 targets), Austin (12) and Brown (6) were all integral to their team's respective offenses, and Hopkins is especially interesting after Andre Johnson was checked for a concussion after Sunday's game. All three rookie receivers will likely have their ups and downs, but all three have WR3 value, especially Austin in PPR leagues.
Notable Riser: The only thing holding T.Y. Hilton back in the preseason was a supposed position battle with Darrius Heyward-Bey for the Colts No. 2 receiver spot. But Hilton caught six of 12 targets for 124 yards on Sunday, and Heyward-Bey exited early in the second half due to a shoulder injury. Hilton is clearly poised to start opposite Reggie Wayne now, and given his run-after-the-catch ability, he could be in line for a big season.
Notable Faller: As we've said before, wide receivers are often inconsistent, so you can't get too discouraged by early returns -- unless a receiver isn't part of his team's offense. So far this year, Lance Moore hasn't been a big part of the Saints' offense, getting just four targets in each game. Last week was especially disappointing considering Darrelle Revis was expected to cover Marques Colston, thus creating favorable coverage for Moore. Either way, the Saints' passing game is currently a three-man weave between Jimmy Graham, Colston and RB Darren Sproles. Moore is likely to have a good game eventually -- he always does -- but after showing signs of consistency last year, he looks like he's going to be a boom-or-bust WR3 every week again.
Tight ends continued their early-season shuffle, with preseason sleepers Martellus Bennett and Julius Thomas each scoring again and fellow preseason sleeper
The Colts' Coby Fleener took advantage of Dwayne Allen (hip) being out, catching four of eight targets for 69 yards and a score. Both Houston TEs (Garrett Graham and Owen Daniels) scored for the second straight game, and the Giants' Brandon Myers (10 targets) was actually involved in his team's gameplan before garbage-time this week. Overall, more potential starting options emerged, but outside of Jimmy Graham, it's still tough to find someone you “know” is going to produce week-in and week-out.
Notable Riser: One of the most interesting TE performances last week came from Miami's Charles Clay. Clay, a converted H-back, is only playing tight end because of Dustin Keller's preseason knee injury. He received little fanfare in Week 1 when he caught five of six targets for 54 yards, but on Sunday against the Colts he hauled in five of seven targets for 109 yards. Even better is that he scored on a one-yard TD run. We can't say with certainty that Clay will continue to get carries around the goal line, but the possibility adds to his value. He's still a little too unproven to count on as a TE1, but he's a great stash as a backup.
Notable Faller: Fantasy owners are often quick to tire of veterans in favor of more exciting sleepers, and after both Jason Witten (3 catches, 12 yards) and Tony Gonzalez (4 catches, 33 yards) struggled on Sunday, you can bet their owners are considering some of the aforementioned “breakout candidates” this week. Never mind their respective track records, but the fact that each received eight targets on Sunday shows that they're still big parts of their team's offenses. Bad games are common with tight ends, but it's a lock that Witten and Gonzalez will bounce back in a big way.
Chiefs at Eagles
Stat to know: Only Dwayne Bowe (8) and Jamaal Charles (10) had more than four targets for Kansas City last week. The Eagles are allowing the second-most passing yards per game (360.5), but you can't really trust anyone in Kansas City's receiving game except for Bowe.
Sleeper: QB Alex Smith (average of 35 pass attempts and two TDs in first two games.)