Ten Things We Learned in Week 2 (Fantasy Football)
If Week 1 was about not overreacting and letting things play out, Week 2 is about noticing trends starting to take shape and preparing the alarms in case things don’t go according to plan. It’s about confirming what you thought you knew and starting to think about secondary and tertiary ideas for things that haven’t gone your way through the first two weeks. It’s still very early in the season, so it’s not time to hit the panic button if you are 0-2, but starting to formulate contingency plans will only help in the long run. It’s time to take what we learned in the first two weeks and put an actionable plan in place. Below are some of the top observations coming out of Week 2.
1. Justin Fields May Not Be a Top Five Fantasy QB
It’s been a rough start for Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in 2023. The young quarterback made a name for himself last season with his running ability but has hardly utilized that skill in these first two games. The hope was he would level up in the passing game this season, but so far that’s yet to be seen. And you can’t blame the schedule, as the Packers and Buccaneers aren’t lockdown defenses. Fantasy managers who invested an early pick on Fields might have to do something they hadn’t planned on doing, look for a replacement QB off the waiver wire. By no means am I telling you to cut bait. I waived Fields last season after Week 3 and regretted it, big time. But you have to consider he may not be the top-five option we hoped he would be.
2. Joe Burrow‘s Injury Is a Cause for Concern
The Bengals and slow starts go hand in hand. Starting 0-2 against two divisional opponents is not a major concern. The real issue is that the calf injury that kept Joe Burrow out of the preseason isn’t going away. The highest-paid QB in the league aggravated the injury Sunday and his comments after the game weren’t reassuring. He salvaged his day with two touchdown passes to Tee Higgins in the second half, but the first six quarters of football this season have not been kind to Burrow and company. The next four weeks should give Burrow a good opportunity to put up big numbers. The Bengals play the Rams, Titans, Cardinals, and Seahawks. Keep a close eye to see if the calf injury continues to hamper him.
3. Mike Evans Is a WR1
All Mike Evans has done since entering the league in 2014 is put up nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and the fantasy community let him drop to the seventh round in drafts this year. Granted, it was a product of Baker Mayfield being the starting quarterback, but that shouldn’t have mattered. Evans put up record-setting numbers with Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tom Brady (at the end of his career) as his quarterbacks. We shouldn’t have doubted him, no matter who was throwing him the ball. Evans has 12 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns so far and the Buccaneers are 2-0. Andy Holloway chose Evans as one of his My Guys for a reason, and he was spot on.
4. The Rams and Cam Akers Must Part Ways
One of the biggest surprises of Sunday had nothing to do with the games being played, but the fact that Rams running back Cam Akers was inactive for the matchup against the 49ers. No one really knows what’s going on, including Akers himself.
I’m just as confused as everybody else. I’m blessed though 🤷🏾♂️
After a rollercoaster season last year with being benched, to rumors of being traded, to ending the year as one of the best RBs in the league, Akers was supposed to be in the clear this season. Sean McVay even said so. But it took just one week for him to be a healthy scratch and back on the trading block. Whatever is going on behind the scenes between Akers and the team, it’s time for him to move on. The 24-year-old back should be cut from fantasy teams until further notice.
5. The Rams Are Better Than Expected
Speaking of the Rams, they hung tough with the 49ers after shellacking the Seahawks in Week 1. Despite the loss to San Francisco, no one expected the Rams to be competitive to start the season, especially without Cooper Kupp. And for fantasy football purposes, they have players who clearly can contribute each week. Puka Nacua has 266 receiving yards in two games. Tutu Atwell has 196 receiving yards in two games. And with Akers out of the picture, Kyren Williams has the backfield to himself. Nacua and Williams figure to be weekly fantasy starters, with Atwell making a strong case as a borderline WR3/flex option.
6. Zack Moss Has RB2 Upside
Much to the dismay of Jason Moore and the delight of Andy, Zack Moss is that dude. While fantasy managers chased Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Kyren Williams, and Joshua Kelley on the waiver wire last week, Moss felt like a running back consolation prize. Well, he played like the main prize on Sunday, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also caught all four of his targets for 19 yards. The Colts’ offense looks good, thanks in large part to Anthony Richardson‘s sizzling style of play, which means Moss will get his fair share of scoring opportunities. No other running back even saw a carry this week, another huge plus for Moss. If he remains healthy and Jonathan Taylor doesn’t return to the team, you’re looking at a weekly contributor for your fantasy team.
7. D’Andre Swift Made His Case
Last week in this column I declared that Kenneth Gainwell was the Eagles’ running back you wanted on your roster. He missed one game and voila, there’s a new sheriff in town. D’Andre Swift ran for a career-high 175 yards Thursday night, showing why he was an early second-round draft pick back in 2020. The Eagles’ backfield was one of the bigger mysteries heading into the season, but we’re starting to piece things together. Swift and Gainwell should be rostered, Boston Scott is going to vulture touchdowns from time to time, and Rashaad Penny should be dropped. Did Swift’s performance Thursday lock him in as the go-to RB moving forward? If Gainwell returns next week, we may need a little more time to decipher that question, but chances are he’s played his way into fantasy lineups based off of that one game.
8. This Year’s Chargers Are the Same Old Chargers
This year was supposed to be different. A healthy Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen. The arrival of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and first-round rookie wideout Quentin Johnston. They were going to give Kansas City a run for their money in the AFC West. Through two weeks, the Chargers keep on doing what the Chargers have been known to do, lose games they are supposed to win. Herbert still had a respectable fantasy performance Sunday and Allen showed why he is an elite WR as long as he stays healthy. But losing to the Titans in overtime after losing by two points to the Dolphins last week is reminiscent of unfavorable seasons past. With all that being said, the Chargers’ losses should be fantasy managers’ gains. Trailing in games should equate to more throws for Herbert and more targets for his wide receivers. Austin Ekeler should also return to the lineup soon to help boost Los Angeles’ offense. While they might not win games, their players can win you fantasy matchups.
9. Miami’s Backfield Belongs to Raheem Mostert
Much like the Eagles’ running back room, the Dolphins’ RB situation raised a lot of questions heading into the season. It cleared up rather quickly when Jeff Wilson Jr. landed on IR and Devon Achane was inactive for Week 1. The last question remaining was whether or not Raheem Mostert could carry the load, being 31 years old with a bit of an injury history. Through two weeks he has 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries (a very solid 5.6 yards per rush average). His speed is there, his elusiveness is there, and the scheme fits his running style to a tee. If Mostert can stay healthy and play the majority of the season, you’re looking at a high-end RB2 who was selected in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts.
10. Hunter Henry Is a Must Start Tight End
For the second week in a row, Hunter Henry finished as the highest-scoring tight end in the Sunday slate of games (T.J. Hockenson, who played Thursday, is this week’s overall number-one TE as of now before the Monday games). The veteran finished with six catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, putting him ahead of Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller. There was a time back in 2019 and 2020 when Henry was a weekly fantasy starter (when he played with the Chargers) but the drumbeat for him got quiet when he signed with the Patriots. In his first year in New England, he caught 50 passes for nine touchdowns and 603 yards. Last year was a little more up-and-down, which is the reason he went undrafted in redraft leagues this year. Well, if he wasn’t scooped off the waiver wire after Week 1’s top performance, he certainly will be now. It’s difficult to find a reliable tight end if you don’t have one of the top guys, but Henry has proven to be dependable in the past and is off to a great start this year.