Congratulations to every one out of ten or twelve owners who had Chris Johnson, as well as the rest of the winners of Week 2 fantasy matchups. Meanwhile, Frank Gore sizzled while the Pats fizzled, and some perceived top fantasy defenses got absolutely torched. First, a look at the injuries and their outlook:
- Matt Hasselback - Fractured rib, doubtful for Week 3. Coach Jim Mora is planning already to go with Seneca Wallace. You shouldn't, but you should look for other options.
- Donovan McNabb - Broken rib. If you picked up Kevin Kolb for insurance, plan on using him again this week against Kansas City. McNabb was still in pain heading into Sunday, and the Eagles have a week off after a favorable matchup this week, so expect him to rest again.
- Mike Bell - Grade I MCL Sprain, doubtful. Similar, but not as serious to teammate Pierre Thomas' injury, the timing of this really hurts Bell's long-term value. Now Thomas likely steps back into his roll if Bell misses a week or two. Trade Bell while his value is high if possible.
- Marion Barber - Quad strain, doubtful. It's looking like Barber misses this week, but I assume he'll return for the week after. Hopefully you have running back depth, as most owners didn't draft Barber with Felix Jones; Tashard Choice might be available and worth a weak flex-play against an equally weak Carolina run defense. Don't risk this one: Barber plays Monday night, so you won't be able to swap him out if you ride it down to the wire.
- Chad Clifton - Ankle, out Week 3. I mention this one only because of its impact on the Packers offense. Already forced to bring in extra blockers, the Packers shift their entire offensive line around with Clifton, and Aaron Rodgers was constantly under pressure from the Bengals front seven. Luckily this shouldn't be too much of a concern against St. Louis this week, but it's something to keep an eye on.
Now, onto the game tape (Note: I had problems with my video for the SEA/SF game, so an update on that will come in the next day or two):
Carolina 20, Atlanta 28
- Matt Ryan is getting close to must-start material. If you want to dissect Ryan's rookie season, he struggled as many would have guessed against Cover 2 defenses. Well, Carolina runs the Cover 2, and he didn't seem to have much trouble with it. His progressions look better, and he's taking what the defenses give him. He may never be the most talented QB in the league, but he's going to be a winner if he plays like this. We'll see how matchup proof he is when he faces better defenses over the next month.
- Jake Delhomme wasn't too bad this week, and Steve Smith owners can exhale a bit. I'm not sure who had the fortitude to start him after last week, but he gave owners with 300+ yard bonuses a few extra points even, and his interception wasn't too critical of an error.
- You weren't reading anything I wrote if you took Michael Turner No. 1 overall, or even in the top three of your draft. He doesn't catch passes (well, Forte may not either) and he's not so dominate at the goal line as evidenced by taking multiple tries at the end zone against a not-so-intimidating Panthers front. Still, as long as he holds up without injuries he's looking pretty safe as a mid-first round pick.
New Orleans 48, Philadelphia 22
- Before getting into anything else, a lot of eyes are going to be on the Eagles-Chiefs game this week because of Michael Vick. Looking at the Wildcat formations, or whatever Andy Reid wants to call them there, it's going to be very intriguing to see how they utilize Vick, DeSean Jackson and Kevin Kolb together. Kolb did a rough job in selling pitches, and corners didn't bite on plays the way they would if Vick was on the field. Chiefs coach Todd Haley said that they've been practicing for this, but if Jackson is healthy I like him to pile up yards in all sorts of ways this week.
- With defensive tackles like boulders, teams aren't going to have much success running it up the gut on the Eagles. That's why Sean Peyton used misdirection plays to free up holes for Mike Bell's successful gains. His play calls are some of the best in the NFL in terms of keeping the defense guessing continually.
- The verdict on Kolb is still out for me. Looking at his first half numbers, they're not all that dissimilar from Brees. But he misses wide open receivers and just shows general inexperience, which is to be expected. The Wildcat formations that keep the Chiefs guessing may really be the key to Philly's offense clicking this week.
Houston 34, Tennessee 31
- The Titans safeties continue to be the problem in the secondary. After Ben Roethlisberger torched them in Week 1, Matt Schaub utilized the play-action to score huge chunks of yardage against Tennessee when they took the bait.
- Here's something that would make David Carr look like a jealous teenage girl: Schaub wasn't sacked once in the Texans victory, nor did he turn the ball over once. Schaub went six of 13 on third and fourth downs, converting on long yardage and targeting Owen Daniels frequently when he needed to move the chains.
- For anyone worrying about Steve Slaton's 17 carries for 34 yards after previously dominating the Titans, here's a quick bit from Jake at BattleRedBlog.com, SBNation's Texans affiliate: "Slaton has had problems, but they can get better. Every time he got the ball with a little bit of room to run (i.e., screen pass), he ran with conviction. I don't know what the secret is to make him run that way on regular hand-offs, but the coaching staff needs to figure it out for this team to be able to take advantage of the opposing team's pass rush effectively."
Minnesota 27, Detroit 13
- Despite an offensive line that still has plenty of work (and revamping to do), rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew showed why he was a first-round pick this year. Pettigrew is an instant upgrade in terms of blocking for Kevin Smith. The Lions got away from that in the second half and it's a small part of why they didn't produce after leading going into halftime. He's not going to make a fantasy impact directly, though.
- Don't fret Adrian Peterson's first-half statistics if the first two weeks have taught us anything. The brooding offensive line of the Vikings overpowered an over-matched Lions defensive front as expected and when they wore down, Peterson took advantage. The Niners have had a history of containing Peterson, so with a slight back injury it'll be interesting to see if their physical defense holds up in the second half.
- The Vikings have done the right thing in playing conservative, but they're going to be put to a test against the Niners. It's going to be a more physical defense, and they're going to stack the box against Peterson. This is going to be Favre's first test of stretching the field more than likely, and he's not the same gun-slinging quarterback that he used to be as the numbers will tell you.
New England 9, N.Y. Jets 16
- Poor Tom Brady. The guy comes back from missing a whole year, leads the team to an emphatic comeback victory, and then gets torn apart for his play the next week. Here's a good comp for him: Peyton Manning. Manning took a good deal of time to recover in the beginning of the 2008 season, and I seem to recall him having a decent year. Similar to Manning, Brady still looks tentative in stepping into throws and isn't feeling the pressure in the pocket as well as he did before. It's ludicrous to pick him apart; if anyone is willing to take less than what he went for now, go get it. And on second though, forget the poor Tom Brady; he's still got Gisele.
- For once, Bill Belichick looked out-coached in this game. The Patriots failed to adapt to the pressure that the Jets were throwing to one side of the offensive line. They needed to temporarily abort of the spread and use more two-tight end sets to neutralize the rush.
- Reason No. 105 Brady struggled: no safety valve. Wes Welker is officially more important to this offense than anyone but the offensive line. Randy Moss stretches defenses and Joey Galloway, well, takes up space. It's Welker though that moves the chains and works so well with behind the line of scrimmage and in short distance. His return helps Brady owners as well.
- Last but not least, Randy Moss was absent for good reason at the Meadowlands. No, it's not because it was bananas loud in there, it's Darrelle Revis. Put him up there as one of, if not the best corners in the game right now. His who's who of elite receivers shut down now includes both Moss and Andre Johnson.
Arizona 31, Jacksonville 17
- No one is questioning that Beanie Wells is going to be the better running back over Tim Hightower both in fantasy and reality, and it's going to be long before the season is over. The knock on Wells was just learning protection schemes better. Well, Ohio State fans may be familiar with another problem that has plagued Wells and came creeping out of the woodwork: fumbling. Talent has never been the question, as he came out of high school the top player at his position and third best in the class of 2006. But fumbles kept him on the bench early at Ohio State, so it'll be interesting if it'll be a problem in the NFL. It's not so much on his inside runs, but keep a close eye on the ones he bounces to the outside.
- How do you stop Maurice-Jones Drew? Well if you're the Jaguars defense, you give up a bunch of points early. This game was 31-3 at one point in the third quarter. After scooting for a 36-yard run on Jacksonville's first drive, MJD only gained 30 yards on 12 carries. Getting behind is going to be the death of this team. They have a run-first identity, and while David Garrard is certainly underrated, this offense isn't built for comebacks.
- Mike Sims-Walker is really the wild-card here, and people have been wild about picking him up. There's mixed thoughts here. Torry Holt is not the same player he was for the Rams, a do-it-all true No. 1 WR. He's turned into a very good possession guy, and that's it. Sims-Walker got his touchdown in garbage time, but he's getting targets, and it's not crazy to think he could be the better fantasy receiver, as long as he stays healthy. The reason we haven't heard of him yet is because he's spent more time on the IR than the field.
- In last week's article I talked about how poorly T Levi Brown played against the Colts. Well, Brown won the lottery with Jags DE Reggie Hayward out with a broken leg on IR. He's a big reason why Kurt Warner had so much time to throw and Jacksonville lacked a pass rush. His play is something to watch closely when he takes on a few well known pass rushers for the Colts on Sunday night as to whether Warner has the time to get the ball downfield to his receivers.
Oakland 13, Kansas City 10
- Better days are ahead for Dwayne Bowe. When this offense gets in a rhythm he's going to put up the borderline-No. 1 WR stats that he was drafted for. He's caught nine of the ten balls thrown his way so far, and those points are going to come for owners. If you want a ringing endorsement on Bowe in comparison to the rest of the offense, ESPN Fantasy's Christopher Harris called Bowe "an oasis in an island of feces." Hmm.
- Speaking of smelly things, JaMarcus Russell. No, really, as a Chiefs fan transplanted in Lions territory, it's reeking up here almost as bad as Detroit's secondary. The Chiefs are much better with DB Brandon Flowers, who missed Week 1 against Baltimore and was a big reason they torched his replacement. Still, they're not elite, but Russell made everyone look Pro Bowl-esque. If he's your backup QB, you better hope things work out for your starter, and don't count on much for your bye week.
- Bobby Wade might actually become serviceable, particularly in PPR leagues. Look at your rankings, and plug him in where you thought Bobby Ingram would have gone, and he'll probably have similar value. Matt Cassell gave him a number of looks. Bowe is so dynamic that he'll always get the looks in the end zone, but Wade can move the sticks.
St. Louis 7, Washington 9
- The Redskins are going to be gone fishin' in January if the offense moves along like this too much. Jason Campbell dink and dunked with Chris Cooley for yardage early, but looked average at best otherwise. His athleticism is his best trait, but otherwise his play-making leaves something to be desired. An under-thrown ball to Malcolm Kelly on their first play could have gone for a touchdown, and in the red zone Campbell went just 1-for-5 with a measly five yards. To his credit, FB Mike Sellers did drop a touchdown pass, though.
- Donnie Avery was the goat of this game. Even before Avery's fumble that cost the Rams the game, he dropped an easy pass on their first drive, and didn't do them any favors with an illegal blocking penalty in the second quarter.
- Laurent Robinson was the more valuable receiver. Marc Bulger wisely targeted him often against DeAngelo Hall, who was undersized. Hall had no chance covering Robinson on the fade route for Bulger's sole touchdown throw.
- Looking ahead,
Cincinnati 31, Green Bay 24
- Mental mistakes would have killed one of these teams if they weren't both guilty of it. 24 penalties combined were due to inexperience in the Green Bay secondary and lack of discipline on both lines. Speaking of the Packers' secondary, when FS Nick Collins exited due to injury, Carson Palmer absolutely picked apart Jarrett Bush. The Packers played two backup safeties in the second half, and despite solid play from their corners, Palmer was able to work the middle of the field because of this.
- The problems continued on the offensive line for Green Bay. As I mentioned, LT Chad Cliffton's injury only helped spark Bengals DE Antwan Odom's five sacks, four of which came after Cliffton exited. The Packers struggled with pass protection all day, and I'm pretty sure if a quarterback with less mobility than Rodgers were behind center that Odom may have gone double-digits.
- Greg Jennings couldn't have flopped on owners harder if he was in Megan Fox's latest movie than he did Sunday. All injury reports indicated that his wrist wouldn't be an issue. He still managed to blank those who started them due to good coverage by DB Leon Hall, and one pass that was so directly dropped it would have knocked him over in dodgeball. Squaring off against the Rams next week should serve as a decent apology.
- Cedric Benson is more encouraging as a borderline No. 2 RB/flex play, which is where I ranked him preseason and how he's performing. He showed excellent vision and the offensive line was getting second-level blocks for him as he ran up the middle between the tackles. He's never going to have the speed to get around the corner, but if he runs with purpose like he has been, he'll be reliable. Now if Carson Palmer can be more consistent, Benson will see more goal line opportunities translate into points.
Tampa Bay 20, Buffalo 33
- Long after Chuck Liddell and Michael Irvin are eliminated from Dancing With the Stars, I'm still backing Derrick Ward as the better bet than Cadillac Williams. Williams again had the better fantasy week via receiving, but I can't see him being more productive over the long haul. Ward was better on the ground, with nine carries for 32 yards compared to Williams' paltry seven for just nine yards.
- Make no mistake; Fred Jackson will still have value when Marshawn Lynch returns from his suspension. Jackson rumbled for 163 yards on 28 carries and added six catches against the Bucs. Further supporting this notion is the loss of RT Brad Butler, who was lost for the season this past week. This line is now far more suited to protect the pass than the run. Don't cut ties with Jackson when Lynch returns is the moral here.
Seattle 10, San Francisco 23: Update coming Friday.
Pittsburgh 14, Chicago 17
- A lot of the talk has been about Johnny "Knoxville" Knox, who played in two-receiver sets in the second half instead of Earl Bennett, but I'm not convinced he's outright taking the job away from Jay Cutler's former teammate. The Bears have pushed Bennett to learn all three receiver positions while leaving Knox at just one, but Knox is the same player as Hester; it doesn't make sense putting them on the field at once. This might be a case that they split but neither is as valuable for fantasy purposes.
- Will two-tight end sets continue to sap the value of the best one in Chicago? First Desmond Clark, and now Kellen Davis. Both Greg Olsen and Davis saw six targets from Cutler, and it's not unlike the Bears to utilize both of them. Of those second-tier options at TE this season, Cooley and Daniels are looking to be the better choices more and more.
Cleveland 6, Denver 27
- Better times look to be ahead for Kyle Orton and the passing game in Denver. Timing is still an issue for this offense, but as Brandon Marshall particularly, as well as the other receivers get in tune with things, it could be dynamic. One encouraging sign is that Orton completed six of his last seven passes in Sunday's game for 134 yards. If Orton is your backup QB and you were worried, things will improve.
- As an Eddie Royal owner myself, this is one situation to actually be worried about. The more experienced Brandon Stokley is taking significant targets and playing time away and might grab the No. 2 job here at some point. Here's to hoping Royal rebounds or posts a good game for owners to sell high on if not. He's not far away from being drop material in shallower leagues.
- Here's an alarming statistic:
Brady Quinn to Braylon Edwards: 6-7, 90 yards
Brady Quinn to all other receivers: 12-21, 71 yards
I'm not sure what this means, but I'm pretty sure Quinn needs to improve either way before whatever Derek Anderson is doing on the sideline is considered seat-warming.
Baltimore 31, San Diego 26
- Was ranking Vincent Jackson outside of the top 15 receivers this year too low? I'm starting to think so. As San Diego continues to lose offensive lineman, Rivers is going to be passing more and Jackson is more talented than everyone though. He's too big and too fast for even the best corners to cover. If Rivers can become more consistent, this could be one of the next great QB-to-WR connections.
- Touching more on the offensive line struggles, the loss of C Nick Hardwick until December means more bad news for LaDanian Tomlinson owners. With a slew of great matchups coming in a few weeks, LT2 looked like a great buy-low candidate. Now, maybe not so much. Darren Sproles may continue to be used more as the offense suits his style. If Tomlinson bounces back with a great game or two, selling might not be a bad option.
- Don't sweat on Todd Heap. He only pulled down one reception, but he's getting open, and Joe Flacco is going to continue to look for him with few better options in the passing game. If you didn't manage to get a top option at tight end, stop waiting and click the add button on this guy.
N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31
- Now seems like the perfect time to buy low on Brandon Jacobs. After a tougher first two games, how's this for an inviting schedule: @TB, @KC, vs. OAK, @NO. It does get tougher after that, but if you can package a lesser, over-performing back with a No. 4 WR or some other combination for Jacobs, now is the time.
- Mario Manningham is for real. He saw 13 targets against Dallas, and 900 yards with 8 touchdowns seems like a fair projection for the Michigan product. Lost in all the hype is Steve Smith, who is the more reliable of the two, and showed off his very polished route running in absolutely burning Dallas for his touchdown grab in the red zone. Smith is still more valuable in PPR leagues.
- Giants DB Corey Webster did an excellent job on keeping Roy Williams quiet, but I think better days are ahead for Williams. He's still a decent low-end No. 2 WR.
Indianapolis 27, Miami 23
- No game has been more picked apart in the media this week than this, but there are some things worth noting, like how the Colts defense struggled to contain the run. More specifically, the Wildcat. By my count, the Dolphins had run about 40 running plays for 180 yards. Of those plays which were run with the Wildcat, 11 of them went for 100 yards; that's about twice the yardage per play with that formation. The Dolphins said they only planned to use about six snaps with the package, but the Colts failed to contain it, so Miami took advantage.
- Ted Ginn Jr. still had trouble bringing in some passes that he should have held onto, but Chad Pennington looked his way a lot. He tied for a week-high 16 targets, and hauled in 11 of those.
Special thanks go to all the NFL blogs here at SBNation.com, Football Outsiders and some of their metrics, Derek at IgglesBlog.com for his outstanding analysis and help with video, and Ten Yard Torrents for any assisted video analysis necessary.
See you next week.