Week 2 Moving Up, Moving Down

Week 1 in the NFL schedule generally is the one week of the season that you can put on the shelf and ignore. With teams not getting truly ready for the opening of the season due to injury concerns (hey, no point in losing your $15-million a year QB in the first game), upsets, shoddy play and poor performances are plentiful. However, by the end of week 2, trends are beginning to form. After week 1, it was a fluke that Willis McGahee scored 2 TD. After week 2, not so much.

Moving Up

  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – After his 2 TD performance in week 1, I thought he may have had his last 2 TD performance of the year. This week, McGahee not only had 2 TD against an admittedly banged up Chargers defense but he topped Ray Rice in carries, 15 to 8, and got the end of game work. This was his best performance since his time in Buffalo.
  • Kevin Kolb, Eagles – I had him down for 210 yards and 2 TD this week and he surpassed that by 181 yards. The 3 interceptions don’t help in leagues that take points away for INTs. However, he looked capable and Donovan McNabb owners can stick him in there this week against the Chiefs if McNabb isn’t ready and their backup is weak.
  • Fred Jackson, Bills – Two games, 328 total yards and a TD. Jackson’s play will almost certainly result in him retaining a significant role in the offense when Marshawn Lynch returns. Plus, with Jackson performing, look for the coaching staff to bring Lynch along slowly when he does return.
  • Santonio Holmes, Steelers – I wasn’t sold on Holmes entering the season mostly because of his history of inconsistent performances. However, after two solid games (14 receptions, 214 yards, 1 TD), it looks like he’s ready to contribute on a regular basis.
  • Felix Jones, Cowboys – This week, Marion Barber reminded us how injury prone he is (strained left quadriceps) and Jones reminded us how explosive he is (7 carries for 96 yards and a TD).
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Well, the Steelers can’t run the ball so they’re going to have to throw it. Sometimes it’s that simple.
  • Mario Manningham, Giants – Last week, we had Domenik Hixon in the moving down section and that seems prescient given Manningham’s 10 reception, 150 yard, 1 TD performance against Dallas on Sunday night. Steve Smith is getting more targets but Manningham is the team’s best big play threat at wide receiver and TDs in consecutive games likely warrant the coaching staff getting him involved on a weekly basis.
  • Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins – Ginn has clearly established himself as Chad Pennington‘s go to wideout. Although he is inconsistent and not a solid starter every week, Ginn looks capable of putting up solid numbers against mediocre and suspect secondaries.
  • Laurent Robinson, Rams – Robinson followed up his 87 yard week 1 performance with 54 yards and a TD this week against the Redskins. The TD came in the end zone where he utilized his size to outleap DeAngelo Hall. With Donnie Avery looking abysmal, Keenan Burton a non-factor and Randy McMichael not exactly having a renaissance season, Robinson figures to get plenty of targets.
  • Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars – The good news is that he caught 6 balls for 106 yards and a TD. The bad news is that it was in garbage time. The question is whether you think the Jags will be throwing it a lot in garbage time this year. It says here they will.
  • Pierre Garcon, Colts – Nice little TD run on Monday night plus it sounds like the Colts coaches are high on this guy. With Collie more of a slot player and Gonzalez also best suited in the slot, there is a decent chance Garcon could see significant time lined up outside for the remainder of the season.
  • Justin Forsett, Seahawks – Julius Jones is fantasy football’s Jekyll and Hyde. Gangbusters in week 1 against the Rams and then 9 yards on 11 touches this week (okay, he did get a receiving TD). Forsett stepped in with 92 yards on 11 touches. In deep leagues, he’s worth taking a flyer on.

Moving Down

  • Matt Forte, Bears – It’s not so much that he had 29 yards on 13 carries against the Steelers. The bigger issue is that he had 55 yards on 25 carries against the Packers in week 1 and Cedric Benson put up 141 yards on 29 carries against Green Bay this week.
  • Steve Slaton, Texans – Slaton and the entire Texans offense looked overmatched in week 1 against the Jets. However, while the passing game bounced back in week 2 against the Titans, Slaton did not, with 34 yards on 17 carries. After two games, he is averaging less than 2 yards per carry and has 51 yards rushing.
  • Tom Brady, Patriots – Brady looked rusty in the first half against the Bills and the Jets neutralized the Pats passing game through a combination of blitzes and Darrelle Revis blanketing Randy Moss. Not every team has a Revis at their disposal but Brady can expect to see plenty of blitzes until his offensive line play improves. Matt Light looked especially bad this week. Julian Edelman looked decent this week but Wes Welker is Brady’s main option on blitzes and Brady will suffer until Welker returns.
  • Carson Palmer, Bengals – His week 1 performance could be chalked up to being rusty but after two weeks, Palmer has just 432 yards and has thrown 4 picks and 3 TD. What’s really ugly is that it came against the Broncos and the Packers. What to expect against the Ravens and Steelers? Exactly.
  • Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, Jets – For the Jets talented running back duo, it’s pick your fantasy poison. They’re going to split the carries with Jones getting the goal line work and the explosive Washington getting more opportunities in the passing game. It kills the value of both.
  • Willie Parker, Steelers – It’s not a sin to struggle against the Titans and Bears run defenses (66 yards on 27 carries, 0 TD). While there were reports Parker had hamstring problems, the bottom line is that he looks bad running the ball and offers nothing as a pass catcher. His straight line speed doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Worse yet, he’s leaving yards on the table due to a reluctance to run up the middle. Unless Parker improves, at some point, the team has to give 2008 1st round pick Rashard Mendenhall a shot.
  • Eddie Royal, Broncos – Seems like Royal is suffering a bit of a sophomore slump with five receptions for 38 yards in two games. The targets are there (13 in total) but the production isn’t.
  • Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – He had nice fantasy numbers in week 1 against the Rams but looked very bad in doing so (2 picks despite the Rams generating practically no pass rush). This week, he apparently suffered a fractured rib. Two weeks – ineffective once, hurt once. Oh yeah, he’s 34 and missed extensive time last year.
  • Lance Moore, Saints – Wasn’t sold on him in the preseason (ranked 42nd and cited as a potential bust), and certainly not sold now that he has 38 yards on 2 receptions in two games. Moore was blanked this week, suffered a hamstring injury and is getting about 20 snaps a game in the Saints wide receiver rotation of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Moore. Oh, there’s also Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell looking for touches in New Orleans.
  • Josh Morgan, 49ers – One of fantasy football’s biggest sleeper picks went 3 for 38 in week 1 and wasn’t targeted once in week 2. The bloom is off the rose.
  • JaMarcus Russell, Raiders – Russell was just 7 for 24, 109 yards this week against the lowly Chiefs. On the season, he has completed just 35.2% of his passes. So much for the hype surrounding his nice three week run at the end of last season (626 yards passing with 6 TD and 2 interceptions).
  • Chris Chambers, Chargers – Yeah, that’s right, I said he was a fantasy tease in the preseason (ranked 52nd) and he’s proven it after two games with nothing in week 1 and 30 yards this week. Despite 10 targets this week, he managed just 2 receptions. It’s worth noting that Malcom Floyd had two deep targets and hauled one of them in for 45 yards. At some point, the Chargers have to get Floyd or Legedu Naanee more involved at Chambers expense.

Not Sold Yet

  • Darren Sproles, Chargers – The good news is that Sproles had 17 touches for 150 yards and a TD against the tough Ravens defense and Michael Bennett only had 6 touches. The bad news is that 81 yards (and the TD) came on a screen pass where the defense blew the coverage and there has been no word on how long LT will be out.
  • Trent Edwards, Bills – Solid backup QB numbers with 442 passing yards and 4 TD augmented with 49 yards on the ground. However, his reluctance to go downfield leaves little upside.
  • Julian Edelman, Pats – Eight catches for 98 looks good. However, the bottom line is that Edelman is a pure slot receiver and not big enough to be successful outside, if you were thinking he could be moved there to replace the disappointing Joey Galloway. Think of him as Wes Welker’s backup. If Welker goes down for a lengthy period, Edelman is worth owning. Otherwise, forget about it.