Bumps, bruises and bowouts
Greg Olsen – Broken foot
Phillip Dorsett – Knee
Rex Burkhead – Ribs
Rob Gronkowski – Groin
Corey Davis – Hamstring
Rob Kelley – Ribs
Corey Coleman – Hand
Jordan Reed – Chest
Gerald Everett – Thigh
Jordan Howard – Shoulder
Jordy Nelson – Quad
Jimmy Graham – Knee
Randall Cobb – Shoulder
There’s nothing worse than losing a player to injury. There is nothing better than having “the next man up” since he’ll get a chance that could not be foreseen this summer. While there is a reason why they were not the primary, the next guy on the depth chart gets the most important advantage that all sleepers and breakout stars need – opportunity.
Greg Olsen/ Ed Dickson
The Panthers will be without Olsen for an extended amount of time with a broken foot. Next man up is Ed Dickson, the 30-year-old journeyman that has not caught more than three passes in any game since 2012. And rarely more than two. Dickson could be a stash in a very deep league but expectations are limited. Chances are those catches would end up with either Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield or the 6-4 Devin Funchess down the field.
Rob Gronkowski / Dwayne Allen
Gronk is already nursing a groin injury that forced him from the win over the Saints. The severity is not yet known but even if he’s back this week, it is a reminder of his durability issues. Allen is prudent insurance for the Gronk owner and worth stealing if he is on the waiver wire. He’s not Gronk, but he plays in a system that loves tight ends.
Rob Kelley/Samaje Perine
The Redskins may be without their starting running back for a few weeks since he’s feared to have fractured ribs. Chris Thompson would figure in more but Perine would get the call as the primary replacement. The ex-Sooner was given 21 carries in the win over the Redskins while Thompson was limited to three. Granted, Thompson scored twice and gained 77 yards and scored twice but Perine is a 236-pound workhorse. Next games are OAK, @KC and SF.
Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen
Howard already missed practice last week with a shoulder injury and left the loss to the Buccaneers with his arm in a sling after only gaining seven yards on nine carries. If he misses time, the Bears cannot turn to Benny Cunningham who has a high ankle sprain. Cohen is only 5-6 and 178 pounds and will not carry a heavy load. But his role would necessarily expand without Howard. The undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell could also figure in. And at the current rate, there are not a lot of carries to be sharing anyway.
As the season progresses, many players will develop into better fantasy options and are worth at least tracking if not owning. Depending on the size of your league and rosters, these are the potential free agents of note this week.
The Raiders change-of-pace and third down back turned six carries into 58 yards that included a 52-yard touchdown from the speedy second-year player. He also added two catches for 51 more yards in the win over the Jets. He’s inconsistent but improving and adds a complement to Marshawn Lynch. DeAndre Washington would figure in more if Lynch is injured, but Richard is carving out a fantasy-relevant role for every game.
He is hardly breaking out at the age of 36, but Watson comes off an eight catch, 91-yard effort in the win over the Browns. The Ravens did not pass much in the Week 1 demolition of the Bengals but Flacco threw Watson more targets than anyone else this week. So far the wide receivers have been all but invisible and the running backs are pitching in as receivers. Watson could be relied on again with the upcoming games @JAC, PIT and @OAK.
The fifth-round pick from 2016 only caught six passes as a rookie but was called up from the practice squad this week. Corey Coleman left with an apparent broken hand and Higgins became the lead receiver with 11 targets for seven catches and 95 yards. If Coleman misses time, and that seems likely, their next opponents are @IND, CIN and NYJ. Kenny Britt has two catches for 15 yards after two weeks. There is a desperate need in Cleveland for a wideout to step up.
Likely already scraped from waiver wires last week when he rushed for 71 yards on 21 carries, Allen improved again. He not only ran for 66 yards on 14 rushes but he added five catches for 35 yards and one score. Terrance West only ran eight times for 22 yards and one score and also caught two passes for 23 yards. This is a committee backfield but suddenly Allen is getting the larger share and doing more with the chance. With Danny Woodhead out, there is a need to replace his runs and catches and Allen is doing just that. It is easy to argue that Allen has been just a middling depth player for two years. But I learned long ago, don’t get too smart and don’t let the past count too much. The present is all that matters and Allen is taking advantage of it.
This is a committee backfield but suddenly Allen is getting the larger share and doing more with the chance. With Danny Woodhead out, there is a need to replace his runs and catches and Allen is doing just that. It is easy to argue that Allen has been just a middling depth player for two years. But I learned long ago, don’t get too smart and don’t let the past count too much. The present is all that matters and Allen is taking advantage of it.
Allen Hurns/Marqise Lee
While he started the year out fighting for the No. 3 role, the loss of Allen Robinson opened up a starting spot for Hurns again. He led the Jaguars with 82 yards and a touchdown on six catches. He did almost all his work in the fourth quarter just as he did in 2015 when he posted a 64-1,031-10 stat line. Marqise Lee also came to life this week with seven catches for 76 yards. This offense rarely passes to tight ends or wideouts beyond the two starters. That gives Hurns and Lee more potential – regardless of when they rack up their fantasy points.
The Jets do not have a very productive passing offense. There is really no fantasy value there aside from Kearse who ended Week 2 with a team-high four receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team with seven catches for 59 yards in the season opener. Their only success passing was with Kearse who has only been with the team for 18 days. If you are a hardcore optimist, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins comes off suspension this week. But Kearse immediately became the No. 1 receiver for the Jets which speaks volumes about just how bad those wideouts were.
He may only be 5-10 and 160 pounds but the third-year wideout is already the Cardinals leading receiver and scorer. With John Brown out, yet again, Nelson is making the most of his opportunity. He scored in both weeks and turned in five catches for 120 yards in the win over the Colts. Next up are DAL, SF and @PHI. He’s a little man making a big splash.
And I am breathing again…
Hunter Henry went from zero targets in what fantasy owners would consider a horrifying season opener to a far more respectable seven catches for 80 yards. And that in the same game when Antonio Gates caught his record-setting touchdown. Now there is no reason to favor the aged Gates over the talented future of the position.
Kelvin Benjamin only caught one pass for 25 yards in Week 1 but was back to 77 yards on six catches in the win over the Bills.
Martavis Bryant only had two catches for 14 yards in his first game back but scorched the Vikings for 91 yards and a score on three receptions.
Chris Hogan was held to a single catch by the Chiefs but on Sunday scored once on his five catches for 78 yards.
Alshon Jeffery opened his time with the Eagles with only three catches for 38 yards but in Kansas City scored once on his seven catches for 92 yards.
DeMarco Murray averages ten carries for 35 yards per game while Derrick Henry was allowed 14 rushes to gain 92 yards and a score in the win over the Jaguars. It was later disclosed that he had a tight hamstring but at best he’s letting Derrick Henry make a great case for more work.
The Skins prolific passing attack under double-franchise player Kirk Cousins has been absent thus far. That makes the departure of OC Sean McVay a bigger concern. Cousins only passed for 240 and 179 yards in the last two games with a single touchdown in each. Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor have done very little against just the Eagles and Raiders.
The Colts without Andrew Luck have killed the fantasy value of all receivers aside from Jack Doyle (8-79) this week. The schedule at least improves with the Browns visiting.
Curse my good luck
In every draft I participated in this summer, the same three players would always go first. In some order, it would be David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott (and usually that order). Elliott fell late in August but bounced back up by the start of the season.
And now David Johnson is out until December if not until next year.
Le’veon Bell has scored a touchdown yet and totals just 119 rushing yards and seven catches for 19 yards from his two games.
Ezekiel Elliott still has not scored a touchdown but opened with 140 yards against the Giants. But he just had a career-worst eight rushing yards and 14 receiving in the loss to the Broncos.
The middle of the draft is not looking quite so bad as it seemed.
MIN 9, PIT 26
Predictable enough with Sam Bradford out. The only Viking with more than 45 yards was Dalvin Cook running for 64 yards on 12 carries. Le’veon Bell only totaled 91 yards and Antonio Brown was held to just 5-62 but Martavis Bryant turned three catches into 91 yards and a score. Bell still needs a breakout game. The 1-1 Vikings host the 1-0 Buccaneers this week.
NE 35, NO 20
Safe bet this would be a fantasy gold mine. Tom Brady passed for 447 yards and three touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski (6-116, TD) left with a groin injury and we’re getting comfortable with Mike Gillislee (18-69, TD) as the rusher and James White (8-85) as the receiver. Drew Brees ended with 356 yards and two scores but Mike Thomas (5-89) was the only good fantasy play. Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson both ran eight times in a backfield that you should despise. Now the 1-1 Patriots host the Texans and the 0-2 Saints head to Carolina.
PHI 20, KC 27
The Eagles held their own in Kansas City. Carson Wentz passed for 333 yards and two scores plus ran for 55 yards. LeGarrette Blount was never given a carry and Darren Sproles (10-48) did all the rushing damage. Alshon Jeffery (7-92, TD) had his first big game as an Eagle. Alex Smith passed for 251 yards and one score in a much more typical game than Week 1. Travis Kelce (8-103, TD) was the stud and Tyreek Hill was held to only 45 total yards. The Kareem Hunt Magical Mystery Tour continues with 125 total yards and two scores. The 1-1 Eagles host the Giants this week and the 2-0 Chiefs head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers.
TEN 37, JAX 16
The Titans made up for last week with a dominating win over the Jaguars. DeMarco Murray only ran for 25 yards on 9 carries and almost none in the second half. Derrick Henry (14-92, TD) had one of his best games. No receivers did much for the Titans. Allen Hurns (6-82, TD) and Marqise Lee (7-76) replaced Allen Robinson. Leonard Fournette only totaled 61 yards but scored once. The 1-1 Titans host the Seahawks and the 1-1 Jaguars welcome the Ravens this week.
ARI 16, IND 13
Yawn. Really? Carson Palmer threw for 332 yards and one score thanks mostly to J.J. Nelson (5-120, TD). The absence of David Johnson was glaring and resulted in Chris Johnson and Kerwynn Williams splitting 20 carries to gain 66 yards. Jacoby Brissett passed for just 216 yards but only one interception. Frank Gore ran for 46 yards and the only Colts touchdown. The Cardinals without Johnson become very, very average. The Colts without Luck cannot hope to reach mediocre. The 1-1 Cardinals host the Cowboys this week while the 0-2 Colts face the visiting Browns.
BUF 3, CAR 9
Make it stop. This is the game that touchdowns forgot. LeSean McCoy ran for nine yards on 12 carries. Tyrod Taylor passed for 125 yards. Cam Newton only threw for 228 yards but at least connected with Kelvin Benjamin (6-77). Christian McCaffrey (8-10) and Jonathan Stewart (15-40) were nonfactors though the rookie caught four passes for 34 yards. The 1-1 Bills host the Broncos this week and the 1-0 Panthers… get to… play against the visiting Saints. And suddenly everything was right with the world.
CLE 10 BAL 24
No surprise but DeShone Kizer missed some of the game with a migraine but still managed to throw three interceptions. The two best receivers for the Browns were Seth DeValve (2-61) and Rashard Higgins (7-95) who just caught more passes than he did has a rookie last year. Buck Allen totaled 101 yards and a score in his bid to suddenly matter after two years. The only notable was Ben Watson catching eight passes for 91 yards. The 0-2 Browns head to Indianapolis on Sunday and the 2-0 Ravens head to Jacksonville.
CHI 7, TB 29
A whole lot of nothing is what went on for the Bears. Tarik Cohen caught eight passes for 55 yards but the Bears rushed for only 20 yards on 16 carries. Mike Glennon threw for 301 yards and one score but had two interceptions and was nowhere near “good”. Jameis Winston’s first game was only 204 yards and a score because that’s all that was needed. Mike Evans (7-93, TD) was the only notable receiver and Jacquizz Rodgers scored once on his 19 carries for 67 yards. The 0-2 Bears host the Steelers this week and the 1-0 Buccaneers travel to Minnesota.
MIA 19, LAC 17
This was a surprise if you forgot the Chargers are absolutely cursed in close games. Missed final second kick caused a loss again. Jay Cutler (230 yards, TD) wasn’t terrible and both DeVante Parker (4-85) and Jarvis Landry (13-78) were the only productive receivers. Jay Ajayi ran for 122 yards on 28 carries. Philip Rivers threw for 331 yards and one score to Antonio Gates that set his touchdown record. Melvin Gordon only rushed for 13 yards but scored once and had 7-65 as a receiver. Keenan Allen (9-100) and Hunter Henry (7-80) were the best receivers. A disappointing home opener for the 0-2 Los Angeles Chargers that host the Chiefs on Sunday. The 1-0 Dolphins play the Jets in New York.
NYJ 20, OAK 45
Josh McCown threw two touchdowns to Jermaine Kearse (4-64, 2 TD) who is the only Jet receiver with any fantasy value. Matt Forte totaled 91 unreliable yards while the Bilal Powell (13 yards) hype this summer was really overblown. Michael Crabtree (6-80, 3 TD) had a big game unlike Amari Cooper (4-33). The Raiders rushed for three scores in this game that was over early. Now the 0-2 Jets host the Dolphins and the 2-0 Raiders travel to Washington.
DAL 17, DEN 42
Safe to say the Broncos defense is doing well. They just held Ezekiel Elliott to 8 yards on nine carries. The Dallas secondary gave up four passing touchdowns with Emmanuel Sanders (6-62) catching two of them. C.J. Anderson totaled 164 yards and two scores for his best game in two years. Jason Witten (10-97, TD) and Dez Bryant (7-59, TD) were the only Cowboys with any success. Now the 2-0 Broncos head to Buffalo and the 1-1 Cowboys travel to Arizona.
SF 9, SEA 12
(Using stern, fatherly voice) See! What did I tell you? What did I say? You have to have an offensive line! You cannot ignore that! You have to have blockers! Now go to your room and think about what almost just happened! This horror show of a game had the Seahawks take the lead back in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson (198 yards, TD) couldn’t get much going and Thomas Rawls (5-4) should have just stayed inactive. Chris Carson ran for 93 yards to ensure he’s a waiver wire darling this week but 57 of the yards came in the fourth quarter in home against the 49ers. Now the 0-2 49ers host the Rams and the 1-1 Seahawks head to Tennessee.
WAS 27, LAR 20
The Skins rushed their way to a win even though Rob Kelley (12-78) was injured and Samaje Perine (21-67) replaced him. Chris Thompson (3-77, 2 TD) had his most productive rushing game but no receiver gained more than 48 yards. The Rams were no better other than Gerald Everett (3-95) and Todd Gurley who totaled 136 yards and two scores. The (1-1) Skins host the Raiders on Sunday and the (1-1) Rams head to San Francisco.
Huddle player of the week
Michael Crabtree – He’s clearly considered as the No. 2 wideout for the Raiders even though he scored eight times last year to lead the team. And he had more fantasy points than Amari Cooper as well. Crabtree once again showed his value with six catches for 80 yards and three touchdowns. I’ll take a No. 2 wideout like that on any day.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry
|QB||Carson Wentz||333||2||QB||Cam Newton||255||0|
|RB||Chris Thompson||106||2||RB||Ezekiel Elliott||22||0|
|RB||Jalen Richard||109||1||RB||DeMarco Murray||28||0|
|WR||Jermaine Kearse||64||2||WR||Brandin Cooks||37||0|
|WR||Allen Hurns||82||1||WR||Amari Cooper||33||0|
|WR||Brandon Coleman||82||1||WR||Doug Baldwin||44||0|
|TE||Ben Watson||91||0||TE||Jimmy Graham||1||0|
|PK||Chris Boswell||2 FG 4 XP||PK||Dan Bailey||2 XP 1 FG|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 118||Huddle Fantasy Points = 30|
Sunday’s couch commentary
This is not good. There has been an ongoing concern about the NFL having lost some audience. Aside from factors like politics and National Anthem protests, one problem area is with games being less competitive – the world apparently loves a last-minute win by one point (Personally, I love a good blowout just as much). And that scoring is down which it is.
The reduction in practices and in particular full-pad practices have affected the team’s abilities to produce the chemistry and precision needed to optimize an offense. And so defenses are more effective stopping them.
Of the 30 teams that have played this week, only nine scored more than two touchdowns. Another nine had just two touchdowns and seven only managed one. Five had no touchdowns. The Bengals and Panthers are both waiting on their first one of the year. That’s a whole lot of players with nothing in the TD column.
Half of the quarterbacks are falling below 225 passing yards per week. About two-thirds are not throwing for more than one touchdown if even that.
This all makes those stud players even more of an advantage.
Packers 23, Falcons 34
Late night game after a weekend filled with so many low-scoring affairs was mercifully productive with the fantasy points. As long as you did not own Jordy Nelson who never caught a pass thanks to injury.
The Falcons won with Julio Jones catching five passes for 108 yards and Mohamed Sanu (5-85) pitching in as well. But no other Falcon gained more than 19 yards as a receiver. Matt Ryan only passed for 252 yards and one score to Tevin Coleman. Devonta Freeman scored twice during his 19 runs for 84 yards. And the Falcons returned a fumble 15-yards for a touchdown.
The Packers only tried 12 rushes from the running backs but at least Ty Montgomery rushed for 35 yards and caught six passes for 75 more yards and a total of two touchdowns. Devante Adams stepped up with Nelson out and led the team with 99 yards and a score on eight receptions.
It was never as close as the score suggested since the Packers scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
We can only hope that lower scoring and lower passing stats are not the new normal. Injuries as always are hitting some fantasy teams hard and when the #1 consensus pick is already gone, you can assume it is going to be a brutal year.
And even more so if you did not draft Kareem Hunt.
Now get back to work…