Fantasy Football Market Report: Week 2

Looking at which fantasy players have improving — and decreasing — value moving forward.

For decades, the NFL defiantly opposed scrambling quarterbacks. Their view was that they could be effective in college, but to succeed in the NFL, you needed to be a pocket passer. There have been those that have tested that theory over the years, from Steve Young to Michael Vick to Cam Newton.

However, Lamar Jackson has shattered that notion over the last two seasons and, if Week 1 taught us anything, it’s that in a copycat league, other teams are taking notice.

On Sunday, five quarterbacks led their teams in rushing – Kyler Murray (13 carries for 91 yards and a rushing touchdown), Newton (15-75-2), Josh Allen (14-59-1), Jackson (7-45) and Russell Wilson (3-27).

They weren’t alone. Five other quarterbacks made big plays with their legs in Week 1, including Joe Burrow (8-46-1), Dak Prescott (3-30), Deshaun Watson (6-27-1), Mitchell Trubisky (3-26) and Teddy Bridgewater (4-26). Even glaciers like Kirk Cousins (4-34) and Tom Brady (a rushing TD) got in the act.

The day of telling a rushing quarterback he has to learn to be a pocket passer or change positions looks to be over. There’s a new prototype QB emerging and he uses his legs and his arm to do damage.

Here is the Week 2 Fantasy Football Market Report:

Fantasy Football Risers

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Coming off a down season in 2019 despite the Packers winning the NFC North, the fantasy disrespect shown Rodgers was shocking. In some circles, he was ranked below guys like Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield. In most leagues, he was drafted as a No. 2 quarterback for the first time since 2007. After carving Minnesota for 364 yards and four touchdowns, owners are going to have a hard time to continue benching him.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Detroit Lions

When the Lions picked up Peterson after he was released by Washington, it was unclear what plan Detroit had for him. They had Kerryon Johnson as an incumbent and highly touted rookie D’Andre Swift. But, it was Peterson who was the main man Sunday against Chicago. He had 14 carries for 93 yards in his debut – Swift and Johnson combined for 10 carries for 22 yards. Given Swift’s critical drop at the end of the game, Peterson could again find himself as the focus in Detroit’s backfield.

Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots

Replacing a legend is never easy, but Newton silenced a lot of his doubters. He was extremely efficient passing (15 of 19 for 155 yards), but his fantasy contribution came on the ground, leading the team with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He appears to have turned back the clock to five years ago with the Panthers. He was viewed as a backup fantasy QB at best on fantasy draft day, but made a lot of believers with how he took control of the Patriots offense and gave it a completely different look.

Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Everyone seemed to automatically anoint Cam Akers as the replacement for Todd Gurley as the featured back for the Rams. Apparently, Brown didn’t get the memo. He made the most of his opportunities against Dallas, rushing 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 31 more yards. Those who invested in Akers may have to wait to get what they want because Brown won’t be stepping aside to hand the job over without a fight.

Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Throughout training camp Tom Brady was talking up Miller, an undersized receiver who reminded Brady of guys like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. He showed Sunday that it wasn’t just talk, as Miller caught five passes for 73 yards. While there is a slew of competition to get the ball – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate – the one player Brady seems the most comfortable with is the relatively unknown Miller, which could be a good thing for Tom’s latest Smurf receiver.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Injuries are a part of the game and Marlon Mack has had his share of them. It was the primary reason why the Colts used a second-round pick on Taylor. When Mack went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon in the season opener (he’s done for the year), Taylor’s value just spiked and should only increase as he leaves his main competition in the rearview mirror and controls his own feature back destiny.

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Fantasy Football Fallers

Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Last season, Ingram had a career year because he was the designated red zone running back – rushing for 10 TDs and catching five more. What has to be troubling for Ingram owners isn’t that J.K. Dobbins scored two touchdowns, it was how he scored them – on runs of two and three yards. That used to be Ingram Territory, but may not be anymore.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

What has extended Fitzmagic’s career has been his ability to be better than the guy he was supposed to be backing up. He did it with the Jets, Buccaneers and Dolphins. He seemed like the ideal guy to keep the seat warm for when Miami was ready to turn the offense over to Tua Tagovailoa. But, coming off an opener in which he looked brutal throwing for just 191 yards with no touchdowns, three picks and a passer rating of 44.6, Tua Time may be getting pushed up faster by the day.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

It’s hard to throw a guy under the bus who left a game due to injury, but this is the same thing we were seeing from Bell last year. He carried six times for just 14 yards and it seems like everything that worked for him in Pittsburgh hasn’t in New York. Frank Gore shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate threat to his playing time, but anyone who had Bell last year made sure they didn’t have him this year for just what we saw Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings defense

The Vikings were always a popular defense to have because, under Mike Zimmer, they’ve had a penchant for sacks, turnovers and scoring defense – all the positives you look for. But, without three of their starting D-lineman from the last several years (Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen) and their top three cornerbacks (Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander), the Vikings got carved up, giving up five touchdowns and being humbled by Green Bay. The defense will get better, but that was a red flag that will have Vikings D/ST on the waiver wire this week.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

The post-Philip Rivers era began with a lackluster performance from Taylor, who barely completed 50 percent of his passes and threw for just 208 yards and no touchdowns in a game the Chargers never led against Cincinnati. The Chargers used the sixth pick of the draft to take Justin Herbert and Taylor may only have one or two more games to right the ship or he will get replaced. He needed a big Week 1 to set the tone. He set the tone, but not the one he wanted.

Fantasy Football: Targets, Touches & TDs – Week 1

Analyzing which Week 1 fantasy football performances have staying power and if you should add or pass on those players in your fantasy football league.

The NFL’s 101st season is a NFL and fantasy football season unlike any other, and that was clear on the opening Sunday with fans in attendance at only one of the day’s 13 games and face-masked coaches – well, for the most part – patrolling the sidelines.

But in other respects, 2020’s Week 1 was much of the same ol’, same ol’ with the New England Patriots receiving superior quarterback play to beat the Miami Dolphins and the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals bumbling away chances for a 1-0 start like only those woebegone franchises can.

Fantasy football-wise, there were the usual Week 1 standouts who came out of nowhere to blow up on benches or are now taunting and tempting owners from the waiver wire.

But which of these standouts are flash-in the-pan fool’s gold (recall Sammy Watkins, Case Keenum and T.J. Hockenson from Week 1 a season ago) and which are the real deal? Here’s the forecast for 10 of Sunday’s surprise standouts (going by relative preseason ADPs) and whether we’re buying in or simply bypassing …

Fantasy Football Targets, Touches and TDs

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton

Fantasy position rank (Huddle Performance scoring) through Sunday: Seventh with 27.2 fantasy points

Buying or bypassing? Definitely buying.

Cam did the bulk of his fantasy damage with his legs Sunday, rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns on a team-leading 15 carries in the 21-11 home win over the Dolphins. He only threw for 155 yards with no TD tosses, but he passed his most important test by seemingly emerging from the contest fully healthy.

In the six (of his nine total) seasons in which Newton has played at least 15 games, he’s been a top-four fantasy quarterback five times. And even though he’s now 31 and the Patriots’ passing-game weapons are less than ideal, Josh McDaniels’ offensive mind can certainly make up for a number of deficiencies and can easily help set up Cam to another top-10 fantasy QB season.

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: Ninth with 26.7 points

Buying or bypassing? Bypassing – aside from two-quarterback leagues.

Trubisky was impressive Sunday, throwing for 242 yards and three TDs without a turnover in rallying the Bears to a 27-23 comeback win over the host Detroit Lions. He has traditionally done well vs. the Lions, too.

His run of four straight games with at least 23.6 fantasy points from Week 12-15 last season likely is still fresh in fantasy memories, but in Trubisky’s other 17 games since Week 11 of the 2018 season, including a wild-card playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, he’s only scored as many as 23.6 fantasy points once. Trubisky rhymes with risky, and that’s exactly what the up-and-down QB is outside of two-quarterback leagues or as a fill-in start in standard leagues.

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: 13th with 22.6 points

Buying or bypassing? Buying – in two-quarterback leagues only.

Minshew was superb Sunday in directing one of the upsets of the day, completing 19-of-20 passes for 173 yards and a trio of TDs in a 27-20 win over the visiting Indianapolis Colts. With the second-year starter also an able ground threat – he was fifth among QBs with 344 rushing yards a season ago – and the Jags figuring to have to throw often given their overall talent deficiencies, Minshew is a strong bet to improve on his No. 21 fantasy finish at the position a season ago, but there’s simply still not enough to count on him as a weekly starter in a 10- or even 12-team league.

Los Angeles Rams RB Malcolm Brown

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: Fourth with 23.0 points.

Buying or bypassing? Interested, but just renting for now.

While rookie Cam Akers and second-year back Darrell Henderson were the sexy summer fantasy picks in the Rams’ backfield following the offseason departure of Todd Gurley, it was the veteran Brown who outtouched (21-18) and outperformed (110-49 in total yards 2-0 in TDs) the young duo combined in Sunday night’s 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Brown, though, had a big Week 1 a year ago with 17.3 fantasy points (53 total yards, two TDs on 11 touches spelling Gurley), but never reached double digits in any of his remaining 2019 contests. Don’t expect a repeat of that tumble, but once Akers gets up to speed, expect Brown to revert back to a reserve/handcuff role once again in L.A.

Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim Hines

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: Seventh (fourth PPR) with 19.3 (27.3) points

Buying or bypassing? Most definitely buying – particularly in PPR leagues.

Hines led Indy in rushing (28 yards on seven carries) and receiving (eight catches for 45 yards) and scored via the ground and air in the loss to the Jags.

Some of Hines’ production was a result of starter Marlon Mack’s season-ending Achilles’ tendon tear Sunday, and he should continue to fill a valuable pass-catching role with rookie Jonathan Taylor assuming the bulk of the rushing duties going forward. Hines was an afterthought in drafts with the excitement of the Colts selecting Taylor in the second round this spring, but the former has been highly underrated despite 115 receptions in 33 career games since 2018, and now needs to be rostered in all PPR leagues.

Los Angeles Chargers RB Joshua Kelley

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: 16th with 12.0 points

Buying or bypassing? Buying as a bench stash/handcuff.

The rookie back had a strong debut Sunday, rushing for 60 yards and a TD in a 16-13 road win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite only receiving one target, Austin Ekeler rushed a career-high 19 times for 84 yards Sunday so expect those carry and target totals to balance out more toward the latter as the season goes on given Ekeler’s non-workhorse stature. That will leave a decent chunk of rushing attempts available, and with Justin Jackson (2 carries for 4 yards Sunday) battling a quadriceps issue to open the season, Kelley is in prime position to seize the No. 2 role.

Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: Ninth with 20.4 points

Buying or bypassing? Bypassing outside of deeper leagues.

Gage caught a career-high nine of 12 targets for 114 yards in Sunday’s 38-25 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks and stunningly still finished with the third-best receiving day on the team. Fellow wideouts Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley also were targeted 12 times apiece and each finished with nine catches as well with Jones racking up 157 receiving yards and Ridley 130 to go along with a pair of TD grabs.

Matt Ryan has attempted eight more passes and finished with 86 more yards than any other passer so far through Sunday, and while it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Falcons ranked among the pass-heaviest teams at the end of the season, asking one offense to support a trio of top-30 fantasy wide receivers is a lot to ask, so Gage, while promising, remains the odd man out. Don’t prioritize adding him outside of deeper leagues.

Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: 24th (PPR) with 14.0 points

Buying or bypassing? Buying as wideout depth.

New Indy QB Philip Rivers finished with only one fewer completion (37-36) than Ryan Sunday and his most frequent targets were WRs T.Y. Hilton and Campbell (nine apiece) and the aforementioned Hines (eight) out of the backfield.

Campbell, though, led the team in receiving yards Sunday with 71 on six receptions, and his specialty as an underneath target seems more compatible with the 38-year-old Rivers’ current game than the deep-threat Hilton. Campbell might’ve been overlooked in your league after health issues limited to him to 18 receptions in seven games as a rookie in 2019, but add him to your bench if you’re looking to upgrade your wide receiver depth and upside.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Scott Miller

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: 29th (PPR) with 12.9 points

Buying or bypassing? Buying – in deeper leagues.

Miller added to his preseason buzz with five catches for 73 yards on six targets Sunday in the Bucs’ 34-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Like Gage, it’s tough to get excited about the No. 3 wide receiver on a team with two fantasy studs in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but the latter clearly was limited by a balky hamstring in Week 1 and finished with only a two-yard TD catch on four targets Sunday.

New Bucs QB Tom Brady found a connection in New England with another wideout from the Mid-American Conference in Julian Edelman, and Bowling Green’s Miller could be a poor man’s version in Tampa. Swoop him up in deeper leagues or if you need a bench flyer.

Washington Football Team TE Logan Thomas

Fantasy position rank through Sunday: Seventh with 9.7 points

Buying or bypassing? Bypassing – for the time being.

Thomas, a converted former QB, led Washington in targets Sunday with eight, and reeled in four of them for 37 yards and the team’s only receiving touchdown in a 27-17 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Those aren’t small feats on a team in dire need of reliable offensive weapons, and among all league tight ends, only Philly’s Dallas Goedert (nine) has had more Week 1 targets than Thomas. Still, tight end is a deeper fantasy position than in recent seasons, and it often comes down to which TE scores a TD that week. Definitely keep Thomas on your radar if you need help at the position, but he’s far from a must-add if more proven talents such as Mike Gesicki, Chris Herndon and Jack Doyle are also available in your league.

Fantasy Football Extra Points

  • With injuries continuing to hamper the team’s wideout corps, Philly tight ends Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz combined for 16 targets, 11 receptions, 119 yards and both of Carson Wentz’s passing TDs in the loss to Washington. Goedert is no longer a secret as he begins his third season, and through play Sunday, led all league tight ends in targets (nine), receptions (eight) and receiving yards (101). Both Eagles tight ends are strong weekly starting considerations.
  • The Lions’ backfield was a three-headed mess Sunday with Adrian Peterson leading the way in touches (17) and total yards (114) and rookie D’Andre Swift (6 touches-21 yards) pacing the contingent in snaps (34) while scoring the group’s only touchdown. The odd man out appears to be incumbent Kerryon Johnson, who rushed seven times for only 14 yards while bringing up the rear in snaps (26).
  • Saints stud RB Alvin Kamara rushed for only 16 yards on 12 carries Sunday but looks to be well on his way to some expected positive touchdown regression after scoring twice – once each via air and ground – and having a third TD overturned on a coin-flip replay. Kamara totaled only six TDs all of last season after scoring 31 over his first two years.
  • Lost in the shadow of Josh Jacobs’ monster rushing day (25 carries-93 yards-three TDs) Sunday for the Las Vegas Raiders, he finished second on the team in targets with six and caught four for 46 yards, setting career highs in all three categories. It was only one game against the defenseless Panthers, but Jacobs is looking like a locked-in elite fantasy back for his sophomore season.
  • Jets WR Jamison Crowder paced the team with a 39.4 percent target share (13 of 33) and caught seven for 115 yards and a TD. Crowder led the team with 122 targets a season ago (26 more than any other player). A full 27 of those targets came in two games against the Bills, giving him 29 catches on 40 targets for 180 yards and two TDs in his last three outings vs. Buffalo. Swoop him up if he’s still available in your league.