Six points with David Dorey

Friday’s quick look at six fantasy items to know

Week 2 saw the return of scoring with seven teams topping 30 points and Tua Tagovailoa tossing for 469 yards and six touchdowns in a thrilling comeback win over the Ravens, who choked on a 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Week 1 saw so many teams come out rusty and unprepared. Week 2 was marked with exciting comebacks and plenty of fantasy points.

We’ve already lost Trey Lance for the year, and Dak Prescott returns anywhere from this week to November, depending on who you ask. After two weeks, there are fantasy stars from 2021 that haven’t been seen much.

Here’s six things to think about this weekend:

1.) Let’s draft WR,WR,WR,WR, RB – Had a feeling, checked it out, and was correct. The decline in rushing is significant. I compared the stats for fantasy positions between 2021 and 2022 through the first two weeks of each season. There was really no statistically significant change from last year except one position. I’ll include the full table at the bottom. But for running backs:

RB RUN RYD RTD Target Catch CYDS CTD FF Pts
2021 1,472 6,359 55 426 330 2,554 18 1,659
2022 1,294 5,651 27 423 324 2,249 16 1,372
-178 -708 -28 -3 -6 -305 -2 -287
Drop 12% 11% 51% 1% 2% 12% 11% 17%

 

None of the positions varied other than running backs. The decline in the number of runs (12%), rushing yards (11%), and rushing touchdowns (51%) was noticeably skewed. Rushing tends to rise at the end of the season with bad weather games, but can we even rely on that anymore?

2.) Da Bears – They have been unbelievably bad on offense through two games and rant at or near the bottom in almost all fantasy categories other than running back. There is no way that this will continue. Week 1 was in the rain against the 49ers, and they won. It meant nothing. They ran well versus the Packers with 170 yards and both touchdowns. But the passing game was even worse – 7-of-11 for 70 yards and an interception. HC Matt Eberflus’ offense is being  installed and was in tough venues and conditions for two games. This week, the Bears host the Texans. This is likely their weakest matchup of the year.

Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet combined for only two catches and four yards but the first two games can be explained away. Eberflus has spoken to the need to involve Kmet and Mooney and they should be force-fed this week. They are also waiting for rookie speedster Velus Jones (4.3 40-time) to heal his hamstring and stretch the field. The Bears have two road games to follow, so this is the week to take advantage. This is the week they have to show at least a return to last year, if not actual progress.

3.) Kyle Pitts – I speak for all the other Pitts owners who spent a third-round pick. We did not sign up for  consecutive 2-19-0 stat lines. It’s been brought up to the still-calm HC Arthur Smith and he said that Pitts is every bit as much a part of the game plan as fantasy leaguers hope, but coverages have allowed other players to do more – like Drake London’s 13 catches for 160 yards and a score over two games.  He said there have been plenty of plays where Pitts was the first read. The first games were versus the Saints and at the Rams. Both are above-average defenses. Pitts’ final game in 2021 was versus the visiting Saints and he turned in just two catches for eight yards. Smith said, “The ball will find him. He’s going to break out here again, and we’re going to win because of it.”

Stat rankings are hardly reliable this early, but Pitts faced the current No. 2 and No. 5 defenses versus tight ends. The Seahawks this week are No. 24. He’ll be better this week as were the Broncos (7-85) and the 49ers (1-38, TD) who played without George Kittle. If Pitts turns in another 2-19 game, then it is reasonable to start breathing into a bag. But no need to  hyperventilate yet.

4.) Cowboys receivers – It was bad enough losing Dak Prescott for a few weeks or so. But now Dalton Schultz is not a lock to play on Monday night which would bring in a tag team of rookie tight ends of Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. Last year, Schultz turned in 79 yards in each meeting. But the receiving picture is further compounded with the return of Michael Gallup who has undergone full practices. He may be on a pitch count, but the receivers could use more help.

The question is how the Cowboys handle Gallup. Noah Brown is a fifth-year receiver that just now has been a part of the game plan. He leads the Cowboys with ten catches for 159 yards and the lone receiver touchdown of the year. He should remain in the slot, but the Cowboys need to get CeeDee Lamb into the endzone and not outplayed by a fifth-year depth receiver.

5.) Malik Willis – The Titans were dominated by the Bills last Sunday night and they finally benched Ryan Tannehill after he threw for only 117 yards, two interceptions and a 32.7 QB rating (if you just throw one incompletion and stop, you get a 36.9). He gave way to the third-round pick Malik Willis. It’s no changing of the guard, yet, and Tannehill remains the starting quarterback. But the Titans are 0-2 and if they rack up many more losses, then Wilson could get a start.

Whenever they do rely on him, the offense will change with a quarterback that ran for over 800 yards in each of his last two season in Liberty. And that probably depresses the passing production. Tannehill needs to connect with Robert Woods (5-52) better and throw a score to anyone other than a No. 2 running back. Poor blocking is leaving Derrick Henry less productive, so the Titans need to get back on track these next few weeks. This is a team that is struggling and pulling down the fantasy fortunes of their best players.

6.) Irv Smith – The Vikings tight end opened the year with no catches on two targets. Justin Jefferson took over in the win against the Packers. But in Week 2, Smith accounted for eight targets – second to only Justin Jefferson. And he caught the lone touchdown in the loss to the Eagles. It is notable that while Jefferson was being contained, neither Adam Thielen nor K.J. Osborn saw an uptick in their targets. The Vikings play the Lions this week and Jefferson should be a lock to do well. But Smith’s usage will say a lot about how this new offensive scheme regards Thielen and Osborn.

 

Below are the total from the first two weeks of 2021 vs. 2022.

QB RUN RYD RTD PASS CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts
2021 273 1,194 16 2,235 1,489 16,585 108 1,477
2022 270 1,075 10 2,234 1,435 15,526 105 1,364
(3) (119) (6) (1) (54) (1,059) (3) (113)
RB RUN RYD RTD PASS CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts
2021 1,472 6,359 55 426 330 2,554 18 1,659
2022 1,294 5,651 27 423 324 2,249 16 1,372
(178) (708) (28) (3) (6) (305) (2) (287)
TE RUN RYD RTD PASS CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts
2021 3 14 0 456 311 3,311 33 842
2022 10 93 1 441 283 2,918 18 698
7 79 1 (15) (28) (393) (15) (143)
WR RUN RYD RTD PASS CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts
2021 45 316 1 1,286 852 10,839 58 2,322
2022 66 441 1 1,296 822 10,329 71 2,331
21 125 0 10 (30) (510) 13 10

 

Fantasy Football: 10 utilization stats to know from Week 2

Here are the utilization stats you should know from Week 2 of the NFL season.

We now have a two-game sample size of fantasy football data to work with from the 2022 NFL season.

It’s still a relatively small sample size, but trends are starting.

Before you make any roster cuts or waiver claims for Week 3, here are 10 utilization notes to know following Week 2.

‘One tough dude’: Cowboys WR Noah Brown may not be unknown anymore after career day

The 7th-round pick caught all 5 of his targets Sunday, logging career-best yards and scoring his 1st TD. It was no surprise to his team. | From @ToddBrock24f7

After 55 games as a Dallas Cowboy, Noah Brown finally has a souvenir to take home. A late-round draft pick in 2017, the New Jersey native has been buried on the team’s depth chart for most of his pro career, contributing heavily on special teams but remaining mostly anonymous to the casual fan.

But after extending the Cowboys’ opening possession with a clutch 17-yard pickup on an early 4th-and-2 and then capping off the drive with his first career touchdown, the 26-year-old says the ball he caught in the end zone from backup passer Cooper Rush will serve as a treasured memento.

“I’ve got to keep that one,” Brown told reporters following the Week 2 win; his leaping score set the tone for a largely-dismissed Dallas squad to pull off a 20-17 upset over last year’s AFC champs.

On Sunday, Brown literally caught everything that came his way, snagging five receptions on five targets and ending the day with a career-best 91 receiving yards and led to that long-awaited touchdown.

Rush-to-Brown isn’t the connection anyone would have guessed to put up the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the season. But just as the Week 1 injury to Dak Prescott opened the door for Rush to make a name for himself over the next few weeks, having Michael Gallup and James Washington in the rehab room for training camp and the preseason has given Brown a chance to show the rest of the world what those within the organization have always know he can do.

“He’s a baller. We’ve been together since we were rookies,” Rush explained Sunday evening in his postgame remarks. “He just keeps getting better and better every year. He earned that starting spot, and you guys got to see tonight why. All he does is make tough catches, always in the right place at the right time… He’s a heck of a player.”

“Noah’s a stud. He’s so competitive,” head coach Mike McCarthy added. “Just the offseason he had, obviously the anticipation of the opportunity that he was going to have this year. Now you’re just seeing the payoff of it.”

Brown has always made the most of limited opportunities, dating back to his time at Ohio State. As just a redshirt sophomore, he started all 13 games for the Buckeyes and hauled in four touchdown grabs in one memorable game against Oklahoma. That single season was enough to convince Brown to skip his final two years of college eligibility and declare for the NFL draft.

The Cowboys took him in the seventh round, mainly after running back Ezekiel Elliott lobbied the front office to draft him. But Brown has sometimes struggled to get on the field, as an always-crowded WR room in Dallas has had to compete for complementary roles behind A-listers like Dez Bryant, Amari Cooper, and now CeeDee Lamb.

After missing a big chunk of 2018 and all of 2019 with injuries, Brown has finally had his breakout moment.

“It’s extremely satisfying,” Brown told media members Sunday. “This organization has put a lot of trust in me for a long time. To come out here on a big stage, in a big moment, and make the play, I was happy to be able to do that for my guys.”

After his performance Sunday, Brown may even continue a Dallas tradition of obscure receivers rising to prominence and vying for more playing time. At one point, Cedrick Wilson, Cole Beasley, Patrick Crayton, Terrance Williams, even Kelvin Martin were unknowns, too.

“Well, I like those- quote- no-name receivers to step up and be the difference,” team owner Jerry Jones said after the Week 2 win. “Give him a chance. He got out there and got some more snaps under his belt.”

In fact, Brown was on the field for 85% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps versus Cincinnati, far surpassing fellow receivers Dennis Houston (34%), Simi Fehoko (10%), and KaVontae Turpin (8%).

He maintained a presence on special teams as well, the spot where he first earned the trust of his Cowboys coaches.

“It’s great,” Brown said of his increased usage on offense, “but I was out there doing the dirty work today, too. I always take pride in that, take pride in getting open, take pride in blocking, whatever I’ve got to do.”

That’s the thing that stands out most to McCarthy about Brown.

“Tough, tough football player, both on offense and special teams,” the coach offered. “Love the way he plays. How many receivers are your personal protector on punt team? One tough dude.”

But on Sunday, Brown was more than just a special teams contributor. With Gallup to return soon and Washington to follow, he hopes all the years spent with Rush in practice- and how it manifested itself on the field in a huge Week 2 win- translates to more pass-catching opportunities on Sundays.

“It’s huge. It’s just a testament to all the work we put in in the facility,” said Brown. “Not a lot of people get to see Cooper or me in the past, really, but the work showed today. I’m proud of that.”

He’s pretty proud of that touchdown ball, too. Even thought he admits he doesn’t have a place at home ready for it.

“Not yet. I’ll find one.”

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How did these former Ohio State offensive players do Week 2 in the NFL?

How did these former Ohio State offensive players do Week 2 in the NFL? #GoBucks #NFL

While we are waiting on the Ohio State Buckeyes to kick off Big Ten conference play against the Wisconsin Badgers, it is fun to sit back and watch how former Ohio State players wreck it in the National Football League.

We are incredibly blessed to be Buckeye fans because there are so many talented players that we enjoy on Sunday after watching current Ohio State players on Saturday. The list of former Buckeyes is so large we have to split this list into offense and defense.

Here are the former offensive Ohio State football players who made a splash during Week 2 of the NFL.

3 stars from Cowboys’ upset Week 2 victory over Bengals

A dominant defensive performance was augmented by two players who have risen together from the bottom of the depth chart. @CDPiglet takes a look at the top players from Sunday night.

The Dallas Cowboys came in to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a record of 0-1 after an abysmal performance last week. The loss was compounded by injury to quarterback Dak Prescott. In order to defeat the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, they were going to need a much better all-around performance. They got it.

The offense did more than just not lose the game, they literally went out and won it with a last-minute drive. The defense kept the game close as they held a high-powered offense to only 17 points, and made Bengals QB Joe Burrow uncomfortable all night. The special teams unit was special as well with two field goals of 50-plus yards, including the game winner as time expired. When a team plays a complete and competitive game like Dallas did Sunday night, it makes it difficult to narrow down the three best stars of it.

6 Cowboys who could be shocking cuts before the 2022 regular season

Sometimes it’s about who’s better. But sometimes there are other factors at play when it comes to the initial 53-man roster. @KDDrummondNFL looks at a few names that would raise an eyebrow if let go.

The Dallas Cowboys may not be as deep as they have been in years past, but that doesn’t mean they will have an easier time when it comes to putting together their 53-man roster. There are still decisions to make for Stephen Jones, Will McClay and head coach Mike McCarthy that include talent, but go beyond who the best player is right now (or in three weeks).

In addition to who offers the best performance, the team will be looking to ensure they don’t say goodbye to potential they want to continue harnessing. Beyond that there is the injury factor for guys the club may look to bring back during the season, and the rules to which those maneuvers can happen. Mixed all together and there could be some interesting decisions made come August 30. Here’s a look at six players who could be on the outside looking in at the initial 53-man roster.

WR Noah Brown returning to Cowboys on one-year deal

Brown had career-high numbers in 2021; he could have the chance to do even more depending on the other Cowboys free agent receivers. | From @ToddBrock24f7

The Cowboys are re-signing one of their pending free agent wide receivers. But not one who’s been getting a lot of attention as teams prepare for the annual roster churn.

Noah Brown will come back to Dallas on a one-year deal, the team announced Tuesday. The 26-year-old caught 16 passes last season for 184 yards in 13 game appearances with the club. He turned in nearly identical stats in 2020 to earn a one-year contract in March 2021 worth $1.127 million. The terms of his latest deal have not been made public.

The Ohio State product was a seventh-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2017. He ranked eighth on the team in receptions and receiving yards and was generally slotted on the depth chart as the fifth Dallas receiver, behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Cedrick Wilson. Brown has also been a solid special teams contributor for the Cowboys.

Cooper has been rumored to be released this offseason; Gallup and Wilson are set to become free agents, just as Brown was. With more movement expected in the WR room, Brown could have the opportunity to increase his standing with the club heading into his fifth season as a pro.

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Buckeyes in the NFL: Notable former Ohio State football players Week 12 offensive performances

#Buckeyes in the NFL: Notable former Ohio State football players Week 12 offensive performances

Well, the regular season is over for the Ohio State Buckeyes and now we all must sit and watch the Michigan Wolverines play the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. But before we collectively sit in misery, let’s dive into what some former Buckeyes accomplished in the NFL this weekend.

The list of former Ohio Stat stars playing in the NFL is long and varied, and for that reason, we split these lists in two and this one will focus on the offensive stars making waves at the highest level. Hopefully, rooting for these Buckeyes make the Michigan loss a little easier.

Amari Cooper out; Could another Cowboys WR have a Miles Austin moment vs Chiefs?

In 2009, a bench WR stepped up in Kansas City and became a superstar; which current Cowboys player could repeat the feat this Sunday? | From @ToddBrock24f7

In the final hours leading up to an away game at Arrowhead Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys lose their biggest name at wide receiver. Winning on the road in Kansas City is a challenge for a team at full strength, but depending on a little-known depth player to step up at a key playmaking position in the notoriously-hostile environment puts the Cowboys at a distinct disadvantage.

Yes, that is the scenario enveloping the Cowboys this week as four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper has been declared out of Sunday’s matchup after being placed on the Reserve/COVID list.

But that opening premise is actually describing the 2009 season, when Dallas and Kansas City were set to square off in a Week 5 meeting. By the time the dust had settled that day, a 25-year-old Cowboys benchwarmer named Miles Austin had become an instant celebrity.

Could history repeat itself this weekend to produce a new Cowboys legend? Who in the current Dallas locker room is best-suited to play the role of Austin in the 2021 reboot?

The Cowboys were 2-2 coming into that October contest 12 years ago. It was the third year on the job for head coach Wade Phillips. Wide receiver Roy Williams, in his first full season in Dallas after being acquired by trade from Detroit the previous October, was to become the team’s top pass-catching threat after the release of Terrell Owens. But a ribs injury suffered against Denver caused Williams to miss several days of practice the following week. On Saturday, the day before their game versus the Chiefs, Williams was not on board the team plane to Kansas City. Someone named Miles Austin was to get his first NFL start.

Most Cowboys fans know the rest of the story. Austin absolutely exploded that day, hauling in ten catches from quarterback Tony Romo for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the 60-yard walkoff game-winner in overtime.

A star was born.

Williams was never again the undisputed WR1 for the rest of his short Dallas tenure. Austin, though, went on to lead the NFL in receiving yards that year and earned a Pro Bowl nod, the first of two straight. His 250-yard day at Arrowhead still stands as the franchise record for a receiver.

Austin was not a total unknown on his breakout day, though. He was officially listed as the team’s third receiving option after Owens’s release. The undrafted free agent was in his fourth season as a Cowboy, having seen action in 41 games. He had logged 23 catches on 45 targets for 435 yards and four touchdowns.

Clearly, though, Phillips and Romo and the rest of the offense thought enough of Austin to give him the opportunity when Williams was suddenly declared out.

So who is the under-the-mainstream-radar guy that the 2021 Cowboys might turn to for an Austinesque coming-out party in Kansas City? A look at the career stats of the current depth chart shows three players who all have not-dissimilar bodies of work coming into Sunday’s game.

Name Gms Tgts Recs Yds TDs
Miles Austin (entering 2009 KC game) 41 45 23 435 4
Cedrick Wilson 31 63 41 515 5
Noah Brown 45 52 31 358 0
Malik Turner 33 34 23 305 3

Wilson is the best-known of the bunch, both for his recent fill-in receiver work during Michael Gallup’s injury and for his current usage in many of the Cowboys’ gadget plays under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Turner just made a minor splash with two late scores in Week 9 to make the 30-16 loss to Denver seem less horrific than it actually was. And Brown has seen more playing time than any of them, although he hasn’t yet done anything that would light up a box score.

Wilson looks to be the primary beneficiary of Cooper’s COVID absence, but Dallas has shown a willingness to ride the guy with the hot hand. Should Brown or Turner catch fire by catching a few Dak Prescott passes in what promises to be a shootout, either could just as easily get their Miles Austin Mojo Moment this Sunday and provide the Cowboys with another weapon in the arsenal for when Cooper returns.

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Cowboys WR Noah Brown activated from COVID list, eligible for Week 1

Noah Brown is back on the active roster for the season opener in Tampa, but the WR and special teams player hasn’t practiced in over a week. | From @ToddBrock24f7

The Cowboys removed a name from the Reserve/COVID list on Wednesday. Just not the name that’s had the fanbase in a complete twist and spurned visions of the team jetting one player by himself to Tampa and chartering a limo with police escort to the Big Pirate Ship so he can make a dramatic run out from the tunnel just as the 2021 season officially kicks off.

All-Pro right guard Zack Martin remains in COVID protocol… but wide receiver Noah Brown is back, fully activated, and eligible to play Thursday night versus the Buccaneers.

Listed on the depth chart as the backup to starting wideout Amari Cooper, Brown also plays a key role on special teams. The former seventh-round draft pick out of Ohio State logged 14 receptions for 154 receiving yards in 2020 (both career bests). More crucially, he was on the field for 47% of the year’s special teams snaps for John Fassel’s unit, the most of any Cowboys offensive player.

The team had been holding an open spot on the 53-man roster for Brown, so no one needed to be demoted or let go for his return. While he could technically take the field Thursday, Brown hasn’t practiced since being placed in protocol August 31st.

Martin, meanwhile, is looking like less of a possibility with each passing hour. It was already a long shot that the six-time Pro Bowler would make the trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast as he awaits two negative COVID tests, but Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones didn’t do anything to stoke the fire on Dallas radio Wednesday.

Offensive lineman Brandon Knight also remains on the COVID watchlist, but apparently has a good chance to play in the season opener. He was classified as a “close contact” and has not reportedly experienced any symptoms.

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