HOU 13, CIN 9
We are two weeks into the season and the Bengals are still searching for their first offensive touchdown. Perhaps a new offensive coordinator will jump-start Cincinnati in Week 3, but potentially being without Tyler Eifert (back, knee) will not help matters. A.J. Green (5-67) is someone you should try to buy in your league due to the sluggish start by Cincinnati. DeAndre Hopkins (7-73) was decent but it took a whopping 13 targets to get there. Houston only attempted 24 passes, so Hopkins is the 1A and 1B in this passing game for now. Nuk has 29 targets through two games, so keep firing him up even in a tough Week 3 matchup. As for Houston’s running game, D’Onta Foreman (12-40) stole plenty of work from Lamar Miller (18-61) in what was obviously a close game. Foreman won’t be eating into Miller’s receiving work, but it appears he might significantly ding Miller’s already “meh” outlook sooner than many expected.
CLE 10, BAL 24
Cleveland’s five turnovers are a story. DeShone Kizer (3 INTs, fumble) left the game with a migraine and was replaced by Kevin Hogan, who passed for 118 yards and a touchdown (one INT) in relief. The touchdown was a nice-looking strike to rookie tight end David Njoku, but the interception was thrown on the move into triple-coverage. Yikes. Cleveland fans have already begun to stir up a quarterback controversy, which is probably why they lose all the time. Just let Kizer play, you dummies. If Kizer does return as the QB in Week 3, it will be interesting to see who leads this team in targets. Rashard Higgins (7-95) was productive, while Seth DeValve (2-61), Duke Johnson (3-59), and David Njoku (3-27-1) each found ways to contribute. Corey Coleman is going to miss a large chunk of time with a broken hand, so someone will need to step up if Kenny Britt (1-2) continues to be invisible. The Ravens continued to use Javorius Allen liberally, as Allen rushed for 14-66 and had a 5-35-1 receiving line. Terrance West (8-22-1) only managed 16 snaps with a soft tissue injury, per Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec. I would expect West and Allen to continue to lead this running game, despite the solid effort by newcomer Alex Collins (7-42). Out of 68 snaps, Allen played 43, West had 16, and Collins had 8. Collins played well and that always bears mentioning, but he is a non-factor in this running game unless injuries befall Allen or West.
BUF 3, CAR 9
Greg Olsen (1-10) broke his foot and will miss about six games. He is not expected to miss the entire season. In his absence, Kelvin Benjamin (6-77) and Devin Funchess (4-68) should be a tad bit safer, though Cam Newton (20/32, 228 yards) has not been impressive so far. The Carolina running game belongs to Jonathan Stewart (15-40), not Christian McCaffrey (8-10). “Run-CMC” will still get his receiving work (4-34) but this is a timeshare until further notice. Per the goat Adam Levitan, through two weeks J-Stew has 35 touches to CMC’s 30, and Stewart has three carries inside the 5-yard line while CMC has zero. Perhaps the loss of Olsen means CMC gets more involved, but we’ll have to see. The Bills were limited to only 69 yards rushing against Carolina’s stout defense. LeSean McCoy (12-9) had a terrible day on the ground, and his receiving line (6-34) didn’t take the sting out. Since Tyrod Taylor (17/25, 125 yards) had a really boring day, none of the Bills pass-catchers did anything of note. Only Shady McCoy interests me in this Bills offense...and maybe a dart on Charles Clay in PPR formats when he has a good matchup.
ARI 16, IND 13
The Cardinals needed overtime to get it done against the Colts, which is really embarrassing. The Arizona running game was a timeshare between Chris Johnson (11-44) and Kerwynn Williams (9-22). The passing game is a conundrum, too. Here is a damning stat from Levitan: Larry Fitzgerald (who is 34 years old) has played on 136 of Arizona’s 141 snaps this season, and has only totaled a 9-95 receiving line. Sketchy. J.J. Nelson (5-120-1) and Jaron Brown (4-73) paced the Cardinals in Week 2 while Fitzgerald underwhelmed (3-21). Other than a flyer on Nelson or either of the Brown receivers, this Arizona offense is looking rather mediocre right now. Sidenote: Bruce Arians criticizing his quarterback after a win looks bad, especially when Palmer was without his starting running back, wide receiver, left tackle, left guard, and tight end. Poor form, Arians. On the Colts side, Frank Gore (14-46-1) and Jack Doyle (8-79) had decent games. Jacoby Brissett (20/37, 216 yards, 1 INT) wasn’t as bad as Scott Tolzien, so he will get the starting nod in Week 3 against the Browns.
TEN 37, JAC 16
Marcus Mariota (15/27, 215, 1 TD, 1 INT) underwhelmed but Derrick Henry (14-92-1) did not. Henry took over for DeMarco Murray (9-25) after Murray suffered a hamstring injury. Henry is going to continue eating into Murray’s opportunities. Tennessee’s receivers had a pretty tough day against a stout Jaguars defense, but I wouldn’t worry about them long-term. On the Jaguars side, Leonard Fournette (14-40-1) remains the most attractive play each week, though receivers Allen Hurns (6-82-1) and Marqise Lee (7-76) make for solid plays as well. Blake Bortles passed for 223 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble...wherefore art thou, Colin Kaepernick?
PHI 20, KC 27
LeGarrette Blount only saw six snaps in this game, compared to 50 for Darren Sproles and 14 for Wendell Smallwood. Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson claimed Blount’s lack of usage was game-flow related, which is odd since this was a tight game. For my part, I do not want any Eagles running backs. This morning I cut Smallwood from one fake team and took a chance on Alex Collins (it’s a deep bench). I mentioned the upgrade on Ertz’s outlook in my weekly tight end rankings due to the loss of Eric Berry, and Ertz (5-97) rewarded my faith. Carson Wentz (25/46, 333, 2 TDs, 1 INT) made a handful of receivers useful, namely Alshon Jeffery (7-92-1) and Torrey Smith (4-66). On the Kansas City side of things, Kareem Hunt (13-81-2) and Travis Kelce (8-103-1) were dominant, while Tyreek Hill (4-43) remained a boom-or-bust option. Hill is best utilized as a WR3 in my opinion, so you can better stomach the peaks and valleys. Alex Smith (21/28, 251, 1 TD) was serviceable but unspectacular for fake team purposes, but it does seem apparent that his job is safe in 2017. Let’s all chill out with the Pat Mahomes talk.
NE 36, NO 20
Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three scores in this one. Rob Gronkowski (6-116-1) and Chris Hogan (5-78-1) were the top performers, while James White (8-85) and Rex Burkhead (3-41-1) also contributed. This is still Mike Gillislee’s (18-69-1) backfield, though, as Dion Lewis (4-14) was the next best runner. On the other side, Drew Brees (27/45, 356, 2 TDs) was unable to buoy his terrible defense. Michael Thomas (5-89) improved after a poor Week 1, while Brandon Coleman (4-82-1) took advantage of Willie Snead’s suspension. Alvin Kamara (3-51) was slightly useful and Coby Fleener (3-33-1) found paydirt for the second week in a row. Mark Ingram (8-52) and Adrian Peterson (8-26) split carries, but Ingram bolstered his final tally with a 4-24 receiving line. With Kamara’s receiving chops in the fold, this running back rotation is an official headache...but give me Mark Ingram if I have to choose. I wouldn’t be happy about it, though.
MIN 9, PIT 26
Not a single Viking returned value this week, as Sam Bradford missed the game with a left knee injury. As of now, it sounds like Bradford should return in Week 3. That is a good thing, because Case Keenum (20/37, 167 yards) didn’t get it done. Ben Roethlisberger (23/35, 243, 2 TDs) enjoyed being at home, while Le’Veon Bell (27-87) had a tough time on the ground. Bell also flopped in the passing game (4-4). PSA: No, you are not worried about Le’Veon Bell, and no you are not trading him for Kareem Hunt (or anyone else). Be patient. Antonio Brown (5-62) and Martavis Bryant (3-91-1) were the top receivers, while Jesse James (4-27) still got a piece of the pie. Vance McDonald was a no-show in the stat column.
CHI 7, TB 29
The Bears trailed 26-0 after one half of football, so “garbage time” came early. Consequently, Chicago managed only 20 yards rushing but passed for 290 yards. Not exactly what they had in mind for this team, of that I am certain. Popular running back add Tarik Cohen managed an 8-55 receiving line, while Kendall Wright (7-69) did some damage with his 10 targets. Jacquizz Rodgers (19-67-1) got it done on volume, as his 34 snaps were more than Charles Sims (21) or Peyton Barber (16). Mike Evans (7-93-1) was really the only viable Buccaneer receiver, as Jameis Winston was pretty inaccurate (18/30, 204, 1 TD). My favorite Tampa play this season will probably be the defense whenever they have a good matchup, but I do expect the Mike Evans/DeSean Jackson pairing to have some lethal games in the future.
MIA 19, LAC 17
Jay Ajayi had 30 touches in this one, with a 28-122 line on the ground and a pair of receptions for four yards. Jay Cutler (24/33, 230, 1 TD) managed to make all three of his receivers viable options. DeVante Parker (4-85) made at least one excellent grab over the top of stud corner Casey Hayward, and I am in the growing camp of people who believe that Parker will morph into Smokin’ Jay’s favored target soon enough. Jarvis Landry (13-78) was a stud in PPR formats, while Kenny Stills (2-37-1) chipped in a score. Philip Rivers (31/39, 331, 1 TD) did enough to win, except he plays for the Chargers. The Bolts couldn’t run with Melvin Gordon (9-13-1) and lost the time of possession battle (33:22 to 26:38). Keenan Allen (9-100) looks like the top option for Rivers and Hunter Henry (7-80) made a comeback after a concerning bagel in Week 1. Antonio Gates (2-11-1) broke the all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end, and he should continue to poach touchdowns from the otherwise useful parts of the Chargers offense this season. Tyrell Williams (4-54) gave us a little bit, but he feels like a WR3/WR4 type unless some injury befalls someone ahead of him.
NYJ 20, OAK 45
The largest story in this one was Michael Crabtree (6-80-3) and his continued dominance in the red zone. We all keep waiting on Amari Cooper (4-33) while Crabtree continues to crush it. Jalen Richard (2-51) helped out in the passing game and turned in a 6-58-1 effort on the ground. Cordarrelle Patterson (3-57-1) and Marshawn Lynch (12-45-1) also chipped in. I wouldn’t worry much about Lynch; the Raiders were in control in this one, so giving Lynch a little break made sense. On the Jets side, Matt Forte (9-53) out-touched Bilal Powell (6-13) in the running game and Elijah McGuire (6-29) made an appearance. I would stay away from this Jets mess right now if I could. Josh McCown (17/25, 166, 2 TDs) did enough to make Jermaine Kearse (4-64-2) viable, but it is still difficult to get excited about any part of this Jets offense. Kearse, for instance, only saw five targets...he ain’t scoring twice every week, people.
DAL 17, DEN 42
Contrary to what Jason Garrett believes, Dak Prescott (30/50, 238, 2 TDs) turned in a strong effort against the Broncos, while Dez Bryant (7-59-1) rose above his tough cornerback schedule. Tight ends against Denver continued to be a thing, as Jason Witten (10-97-1) continued his strong play to begin the year. Ezekiel Elliott (9-8) was a no-show and was called out by Garrett for a lack of effort. Trevor Siemian (22/32, 231, 4 TDs, 1 INT) is the big story, though I am not yet ready to anoint him as the next Peyton Manning. He does offer QB2 value though, while Demaryius Thomas (6-71) and Emmanuel Sanders (6-62-2) continue to be the strongest plays in the passing game. C.J. Anderson (25-118-1) dominated the backfield touches, while Jamaal Charles (9-46) mixed in a little. This seems to be the setup in Denver, as Charles had 10 carries in Week 1. We’ll see what the eventual return of Devontae Booker does to shake this ground game up, if anything.
WAS 27, LAR 20
The Redskins gouged the Rams on the ground, with Samaje Perine (21-67) stealing work from Rob Kelley (12-78). Kelley is nursing a rib injury, and if he misses Sunday I prefer the guy who had 21 carries (Perine) to the guy who had three carries (Chris Thompson) against the Rams. Granted, Thompson (3-77-2) has been showing out this year, and has probably earned more carries, but I’d still choose Perine over him. Kirk Cousins only passed for 179 yards and a single score on his 27 attempts, so the Washington pass-catchers were pretty boring. I suppose that happens when you rush for 229 yards as a team and crush time of possession (36:19 to 23:41). Jordan Reed has an “SC joint sprain,” whatever that means. It sounds like he is day-to-day for now, but be sure to check in on him prior to Sunday’s game. The Rams aren’t exciting offensively, but this unit does have some value. Jared Goff (15/25, 224 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) is a low-end QB2 option, while Todd Gurley continues to produce based on volume. The passing game is likely going to be shifting sand from week-to-week, so good luck guessing which guy is going to show up each time. Against the Rams it was Gerald Everett (3-95) and Todd Gurley (3-48-1). Gurley also added 16 carries for 88 yards and a score on the ground. Gurley is still the safest play on this offense. Everett (thigh) left the game in the third quarter but returned to limited practice on Tuesday, which is reassuring.
SF 9, SEA 12
It is time to be worried about Russell Wilson, ladies and gentleman. Per Scott Barrett at PFF, the Niners pressured Wilson 21 times on Sunday. This Seattle offensive line (if you can call it that) may be Wilson’s undoing. Chris Carson (20-93) was the lead dog in the Seattle backfield, a trend that renders Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise unplayable. Only Tyler Lockett (6-64) and Doug Baldwin (6-44) appeared in the passing game, as Seattle proved again that the trade for Jimmy Graham (1-1) was wasteful. Why trade for a guy if you won’t utilize him? Paul Richardson (2-19-1) caught the game-winning score after dislocating his right ring finger in the first quarter. The finger broke through his skin. He got it stitched up and came back to catch the game-winner from Russell Wilson, who had to scramble for his life just to get the pass away. Awesome stuff, if you can call beating the Niners at the end of the game “awesome.” On San Francisco’s side, the pass-catchers were shut down by Seattle. Only Carlos Hyde (15-124) was useful. After three more catches for 19 yards against Seattle, Hyde now has nine receptions for the year, which is a third of the way to his career-high of 27. We have only played two games. Hyde is a high-floor play each week, even if his ceiling is capped by the poor team context.
GB 23, ATL 34
I swear this Packers offense looks “Jordy-dependent” to me. Davante Adams (8-99-1) and Randall Cobb (6-60) contributed, but it just wasn’t the same without Nelson. Ty Montgomery was chalk for a reason, as he totaled a 10-35-1 line on the ground and added 6-75-1 via the air. Running backs who catch passes against the Falcons continued to be a thing, so check out Theo Riddick this week. Anyway, the Falcons were predictable. Devonta Freeman (19-84-2) shouldered the load and Julio Jones (5-108) was legit. Mohamed Sanu (5-85) was the upstart in Week 2, rendering Austin Hooper (2-7) pretty useless. Per Adam Levitan, Hooper has played 88 of ATL’s 117 snaps this season, but has only totaled four targets. The playing time is encouraging, but the lack of targets is not. Lastly, just when you think Tevin Coleman (6-42) is becoming an afterthought in the Atlanta offense, he goes out and catches a a touchdown. I guess he will continue to stick around, but if Freeman is getting 20 touches per game I won’t complain.
DET 24, NYG 10
The obvious storyline is the continued ineptness of the Giants offense sans a healthy OBJ. Beckham Jr. played on 34-of-56 snaps on Monday night, or 61% of the time. He caught 4 balls for 36 yards, tying Evan Engram (4-49-1) for the highest number of receptions on the team. The other story is the Giants defense holding the Lions to only 257 total yards without starting defenders Janoris Jenkins and B.J. Goodson. I would say there are better things ahead for this unit, but that is difficult to forecast without some life on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions improved to 2-0 behind the arm of Matthew Stafford, who threw for a pair of scores and didn’t turn the ball over. Ameer Abdullah (17-86) showed signs of life, while Theo Riddick (9-20) caught a bunch of balls for no yardage—great for all you PPR fiends. Lastly, tight ends against the Giants is still a thing, as the formerly invisible Eric Ebron caught five balls for 42 yards and a score.
In summation, I would like to state the obvious: whenever NFL head coaches throw their players under the bus publicly, it is a bad look. That is all.