Two weeks in and we’ve lost an unprecedented number of fantasy-relevant quarterbacks. Just because we waited to get Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger didn’t make it hurt any less, particularly scanning the waiver wire for replacements. Andrew Luck was a shock when he retired, but at least you know what to do with your first waiver wire.
- WR Diontae Johnson – Here’s someone to watch. The Steelers are already in disarray after losing Ben Roethlisberger, so the receiver situation takes a backseat. Over the summer, Donte Moncrief won the starting job vacated by Antonio Brown. But Moncrief fell from favor with dropped passes. Last week, he was hit in the chest, let the ball bounce over him and be intercepted. James Washington moves up and is owned in all but the smallest of leagues. Diontae Johnson moves up and his four targets ranked third last week. The 5-10, 183-pound third-round pick flashed in the summer and merits tracking as the receivers start to shift under Mason Rudolph.
- RB Marlon Mack / Jordan Wilkins – The process took too long to save Andrew Luck but the Colts offensive line built into a great unit the last couple of years. Good enough that the 14th running back drafted in 2017 peeled off five 100-rushing yard efforts last year. And he opened 2019 with 174 yards on 25 runs at the Chargers. Marlon Mack has the advantage of a good offensive line and that’s huge in the world of running backs. Now Mack hasn’t practiced and may not play. Jordan Wilkins averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry on his 60 runs last year and caught 16 passes as a fifth-round rookie in 2018. As a depth stash, he shouldn’t be on so many waiver wires out there. If Mack doesn’t play or gets hurt in the future, Wilkins would benefit from that offensive line.
- Chicago Bears – No arguing that the Bears are disappointing after two weeks. But worth considering is that they faced the Packers in Week 1 and their surprisingly stout secondary that also limited the Vikings to just 230 passing yards and a score the next week. And they played the Broncos who have only allowed one passing score this year. The point is this – Mitchell Trubisky and therefore Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller faced two very good secondaries and looked bad. This week they face the Redskins that averaged 291 yards and three touchdowns when opponents passed so far. If the Bears don’t look much better, then worry. But Week 3 is the best test for what to expect.
- Green Bay Packers – Same as Chicago. The Packers opened up against the Bears and Vikings secondaries while the new offense under HC Matt LaFleur and OC Nathaniel Hackett is installed. So far, Aaron Rodgers threw for 203 and 209 yards respectively with either one or two touchdowns. Hardly “Rodgers-like” and aside from one week from Davante Adams, the receivers have done very little. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison are disappointments. But – it is too early to give up on any of them. Facing the Broncos this week may not help. But the schedule has been as telling in their slow start than any new scheme.
- RB Joe Mixon – There are plenty of players that have struggled over the initial two weeks and Mixon certainly disappointed with only 17 carries for 27 yards after two weeks. But he was a game-time decision last week due to a sprained ankle. Starting out in Seattle and then gimpy against the much-improved 49ers defense was more than he could overcome. He hits the road for the next two weeks which is never a benefit but Mixon should be healthier and plays in Pittsburgh where the Steelers have problems of their own. In two common games last year, he ran for 64 yards and a score on 11 carries at home and then 105 yards on 13 runs in the road meeting. Too early give up on a guy that opened with two better-than-expected opponents and spraining his ankle. Mixon averaged 97 rushing yards over his final six games last year.
- QB Daniel Jones – The 1.06 pick gets his chance to start while Eli Manning takes the bench potentially forever. That’s excited fans of the 0-2 Giants. Jones never passed for more than 2,900 yards or 22 touchdowns in his three years at Duke. But Jones ran for 1,323 yards and added 17 touchdowns. Seeing a quarterback running (on the other side of the line of scrimmage, anyway) will be an entirely new facet. Oddly, part of his attractive qualities that got him drafted was working with Duke QB Guru David Cutcliffe who helped Jones learn the position. Cutliffe also ran the offense at Tennessee from 1990-98 when a guy named Peyton Manning was there. He was the head coach at Ole Miss from 1998-2004 when he spent four years with a quarterback named Eli Manning. That’s why Jones is there. He is kinda like the third Manning. Wonder if he and Eli share Cutcliffe stories?