Week 2 was a bit of a disaster. There were plenty of points scored, more than you usually see in Week 2. But – the injuries. Hope you were wise (or lucky) when you made your first-round pick, because anyone who picked Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams had to wince when they went to set their starting lineups this week. Let’s hope that was just an abberant week and not the start of a trend. Far too many players with “I”, “X” or “O” beside their name.
The fear was that COVID-19 would knock out a lot of players. Ends up the lack of preseason games and offseason training would have the far bigger impact.
Six things I am thinking about heading into the weekend:
- Difference between 2019 and 2020 – Besides masks, social unrest, and working in sweat pants, at least the NFL hasn’t changed much comparing Weeks 1 and 2 between last year and this season. The yardages gained by each fantasy position are all within a couple of meaningless percentage points between years. Oddly, scoring is up and yet yardage is not. Here are the only areas with any notable change for the first two weeks of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The return of Cam Newton helped spike the increase in quarterback rushing stats, but overall, defenses are not holding opponents out of the endzone as well for the start of the year. We’ll see how the spate of recent injuries changes the trends.
- NY Giants backfield – Losing Saquon Barkley turns a bad year even more bleak, but that doesn’t mean all the fantasy value has left the offense. The backfield now belongs to Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman and newly-signed Devonta Freeman. Gallman is unlikely to be more than just depth and the occasional carry. Freeman signed on for “up to $3 million”, but the Falcons released him back in March for a reason. He hasn’t been the same since 2018 when he injured his knee and foot.Lewis will be the primary back at least until Freeman gets up to speed but he’ll retain the pass-catching role that is likely more productive than the rushing. The offensive line is a problem and there won’t be much rushing success by any of these backs, but catching the ball when the quarterback is hurried should be the place to place your fantasy bets.
- WR Michael Pittman – The Colts lost Parris Campbell indefinitely with a PCL injury so the depth chart changes for now. Technically, Zach Pascal was the flanker and Campbell played the slot. But the rookie Michael Pittman went from just two catches in his Week 1 debut to tying for the team lead with six targets last week in the win over the Vikings. Mo Alie-Cox was the surprise top receiver but Pittman ended as No. 2 with four receptions for 37 yards. Pittman was the 2.02 pick in April and runs a 4.5/40 while 6-4 and 223 pounds. He’s the one to watch against the Jets this week since teams are focused on covering T.Y. Hilton.KJ
- WR KJ Hamler – The Broncos wideout drafted eight spots after Pittman finds himself in the same situation. Courtland Sutton tore his ACL and is gone for the rest of the season. Hamler stepped up after Sutton left the game in the second quarter and ended tied for the lead with Jerry Jeudy with seven targets. Hamler caught three passes for 48 yards and just missed on a 45-yard bomb before the half. The Denver situation is bad with Sutton gone and Lock out, but the Broncos will need to throw even more. And while Hamler is only 5-9 and 180 pounds, he runs a sub 4.3/40. He faces the visiting Buccaneers this week for a good test to see if his usage continues to be as high.
- RB Darrynton Evans – Who? The third-round pick by the Titans hasn’t been active yet because he injured his hamstring right before the season started. He seemed likely to return in Week 2 but suffered a setback. In this season of injuries, Evans won the No. 2 job behind Derrick Henry and initially, the Titans only had those two running backs on their active roster. The Appalachian State star was drafted because he runs a 4.4/40 and is an accomplished receiver. He’s had full practices this week and is trending towards his debut. Henry already totals 56 carries for a pace that would end with 448 rushes. The veteran needs to dial back and let Evans show why they made him the No. 2 back for the Titans.
- TE Drew Sample – The Bengals spent their 2019 second-round pick on the 6-4, 258-pound tight end from the University of Washington who only caught five passes as a rookie and missed several games with an ankle injury. But he was added as a pass-catcher first and runs a relatively quick 4.7/40. With C.J. Uzomah’s season-ending injury last week, Sample was thrust into the starting role and fielded nine targets for seven catches for 45 yards. He plays at the Eagles this week, the same defense that has already allowed four scores to the position.