Week 2 Observations

I have a few close contests pending heading into the Monday Night game, but Week 2 is already a million times better than Week 1 for me. For starters, my Survivor pick, the Seahawks, cruised to an easy win after going behind 9-6 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Seriously, the Seahawks offensive line is the worst in NFL history, and this would be even more obvious if they didn’t have Russell Wilson as their QB. I’m 10-5 ATS, though really 13-2 per my new criterion for grading myself. (I should have taken the 49ers and Falcons.)

• Jordy Nelson needs to have the decency to get hurt in the fourth, rather than the first, quarter. At season’s end it’ll show as a game played, but it’s crushing to fantasy owners.

• Aaron Rodgers did his best behind an injured offensive line that collapsed around him all game, but it was borderline Russell Wilson bad. Rodgers always gets his fantasy points, though, even without Nelson.

• Ty Montgomery will be a monster in PPR for as long as he holds up.

• Martellus Bennett didn’t have much to show for it, but he got 11 targets, something that should continue if Nelson misses more time. Obviously, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb move up a few slots too.

• Devonta Freeman is peak Ray Rice. Just a rock solid, durable, consistent fantasy option at RB who produces on the ground, through the air and at the goal line.

• Would it kill Julio Jones to score a TD?

• I like the idea of Austin Hooper, but he simply isn’t a big enough part of the offense yet, and Matt Ryan doesn’t mind spreading it around to scrubs like Mohammed Sanu, Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel.

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• For a second straight week, Russell Wilson was running for his life on every play – and this time during a home game against the Niners. The Seahawks only won because of an amazing throw the right-handed Wilson made while running full speed to his left. If an Eli Manning-type were the Seahawks QB, the offense would give up more points than it scored.

• Chris Carson is the Seahawks’ lead back, and why not? Thomas Rawls is always hurt, and Eddie Lacy’s a plodder. C.J. Prosise was on the field a lot and got six targets, but it certainly looks like Carson is the early-down option.

• No Seahawks receiver can make a big play because Wilson has no time to throw. At some point, one of Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson will catch a long TD on a broken play, but it won’t be by design until they fix the line.

• What is wrong with Jimmy Graham? I realize he left the game with an injury before returning, but would it kill him to have a role? What was with all the talk this past summer that he feels better than ever and dropped 20 pounds?

• Carlos Hyde had a good game thanks to two long runs. But there’s nothing else to say about the 49ers offense.

• Rob Kelley might have broken a rib which means Samaje Perine could see regular work going forward. Perine wasn’t efficient (22 carries, 3.2 YPC), but he’s physical and passed the eye test. Chris Thompson scored two more times and has been off to a monster start, but he’s small and injury prone, i.e., I doubt he’s an option for more than a handful of touches per game.

• Jordan Reed left with a chest injury and came back, but Terrelle Pryor still had only four targets. It’s unclear as yet who Kirk Cousins will feature, and Cousins himself hasn’t been good.

• Todd Gurley had another big fantasy game. Don’t worry about efficiency – regular carries, targets and goal-line work will always pay the bills. For what it’s worth, Gurley did average 5.5 YPC, though.

• Trevor Siemian showed it was Eli and Ben McAdoo, not the Dallas defense last week.

• C.J. Anderson can be a top-seven back – durability is the only issue for him. Jamaal Charles is a good change-of-pace partner because he’s unlikely ever to push for a big workload.

• Jason Witten gets so much praise from the booth every week, but targeting him 13 times is partly how Dak Prescott managed just 4.8 YPA. The booth always loves its elder statesmen, though, and if they’re white, it’s a virtual orgy of sycophancy.

• Aqib Talib’s pick six long after the game was sealed (with a minute left) was a nice gift to those who started the Denver defense.

• The Cubs suffered from the curse of the billygoat, and the Chargers are reaping bad karma for ditching their kicker for a Younghoe. (As if their bad karma started this year.)

• Jay Cutler looked fine in his debut, showing cardiovascular fitness has little correlation to quarterback play. Unless, of course, you’re playing behind the Seahawks like in which case you better be able to win the Ironman.

• Jai Ajayi is peak Marshawn Lynch. He’s the most physical, tackle-breaking runner in the game right now.

• DeVante Parker went 4-for-85 on nine targets, but got jobbed out of a 20-yard reception he obviously caught and fumbled (and subsequently recovered) that the moronic replay officials somehow upheld as an incompletion. He’s going to have a 1,000-yard season if he and Cutler stay healthy.

• Jarvis Landry caught 13 of 15 targets for 78 yards. That’s dreadful efficiency, but Landry is such a rock who catches everything that Cutler, like Ryan Tannehill, will use him as a security blanket.

• Keenan Allen is a fragile Golden Tate. He’s clearly his team’s No. 1 receiver, and he catches everything. Just don’t expect many big plays or TDs.

• It was nice to see Hunter Henry get involved after an invisible Week 1. He caught all seven targets for 80 yards. He’s the team’s No. 1 TE, especially now that Antonio Gates’ carcass has the TD record.

• Like Gurley Melvin Gordon doesn’t require efficiency to produce. Only 13 yards on nine carries Sunday, but a rushing TD and seven catches for 65 yards.

• What a monster kick from Cody Parker – 54-yarder with the game on the line. And it wasn’t a tie game, the Dolphins were down two, meaning they lose if he misses.

• It looks like Jermaine Kearse really is the Jets’ No. 1 receiver and Matt Forte their No. 1 running back.

• Marshawn Lynch had a modest day, but he avoided and broke tackles like the player we remember from a few years ago. We’ll see how long he holds up, but so far so good.

• Michael Crabtree looks like peak Cris Carter right now, catching everything in sight and making Derek Carr opt for him over the much more explosive Amari Cooper. Crabtree isn’t this good, though, and Cooper did get another red-zone target.

• Facing the Ravens in Baltimore is a tall order, but DeShone Kizer doesn’t look ready. Cody Kessler would have been a better choice, but it was Kevin Hogan who came on in relief when Kizer left with a migraine.

• Duke Johnson had a bigger role – three catches for 59 yards and four carries. It’s unclear why he wasn’t used in Week 1.

• Corey Coleman might have broken his hand again, and Kenny Britt is in the doghouse, so Rashard Higgins led the team with 11 targets and seven catches. There’s a role for Josh Gordon should he ever be reinstated.

• Javorius Allen (14 carries, 66 yards, six targets, five catches for 35 yards) looks like the back to own over Terrance West (six carries 22 yards, 1 TD) and Alex Collins (seven carries, 42 yards.) Ben Watson (eight catches 92 yards), looks like the top TE. Of course, the team lost Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda for the year, so it might get ugly all around,.

• DeMarco Murray missed snaps due to a tight hamstring, and Derrick Henry went 14-for-92 with a TD in his absence. There’s a chance this marks a permanent changing of the guard, but keep in mind Matt Forte is still the starter in New York – some veteran backs are hard to kill off.

• With Allen Robinson gone, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee should benefit about equally from Blake Bortles’ garbage time production.

• Marcus Mariota might spread the ball around to his various weapons to the point that none will be especially valuable. Corey Davis still probably has the most upside, but his Week 2 was derailed by a minor hamstring injury.

•  Cam Newton was sloppy in this game, and even left briefly with an injury, but Carolina’s defense carried him again. In particular Newton missed an easy TD throw to a wide open Christian McCaffrey at the goal line.

• “Riverboat” Ron Rivera botched the very next play, opting for a field goal to go up six, rather than the (spread-covering) TD to go up 10. The case against the FG is (1) If you get the TD, it’s game over; (2) If you fail to score the TD the other team is backed up to the shadow of their goal line rather than receiving a kick off; (3) If the opponent is down six, they play for a game-winning TD rather than a game-tying FG, i.e., you lose if they succeed rather than simply going to overtime; and (4) There’s some small chance of missing the FG, in which case you got nothing. and they get the ball seven yards closer to FG range. Of course, it’s easier for the other team to drive into FG range than score a TD, but (1) The distance is roughly the same when you consider the field-position you gave up kicking off rather than having them start at their goal line; and (2) Even if they do get into field goal range, they might still miss the kick. Rivera is on the long list of coaches who are actually underrated in their terribleness. Others include: Chuck Pagano (absolute worst), Sean Payton (when is he getting fired already?), Marvin Lewis, Ben McAdoo (people will figure it out this year, hopefully), Mike McCarthy, Jason Garrett and Bill O’Brien. I’m sure I’m leaving out a few.

• Like Reggie Bush, Christian McCaffery looks like a potentially useful NFL player, but not someone a team should have taken early in the first round. It’s only been two games though, and Newton has been a drag on his production.

• LeSean McCoy did very little, though he led the team in carries and targets.

• The Bears WR corps is so bad, Tarik Cohen might be their best pass catcher. Cohen fumbled and was bottled up as a runner, but had eight catches for 55 yards.

• Jordan Howard had nowhere to run and wound up on the sidelines with a sling on his arm.

• Kendall Wrong led the team with 10 targets, but it was all dink and dunk. Markus Wheaton could be the team’s No. 1 if he ever gets healthy.

• Mike Evans had a solid game, but the Bucs’ passing game wasn’t needed much – Jameis Winston attempted only 30 passes.

• Le’Veon Bell was inefficient again this week, but he faced a tough defense and saw 27 carries and four catches.

• Antonio Brown was supposed to be matchup-proof, especially at home, but had only five catches for 62 yards against Xavier Rhodes. Martavis Bryant had 91 yards and a TD on four targets. Like the Bucs, the Steelers didn’t need to throw much against a weak opposing offense.

• With Case Keenum under center, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Laquon Treadwell each had six targets.

• I’m getting slightly worried about Brandin Cooks. Last week he had only three catches, but drew a holding penalty and two PIs at the goal line. This week, he saw only four of Tom Brady’s 39 targets. I haven’t seen the snap counts yet, but while it looked like Cooks was on the field most of the time, the plays simply were not designed for him. I still think his talent wins out, but it’s well known free agent (or traded) receivers often struggle with their new teams in Year 1, and maybe Cooks, despite the rave reviews this summer, won’t be an exception. I hope that’s not the case as I have a few Cooks shares, and he was one of the players I touted most.

• Mike Gillislee looks like a plodder to me, but he’s their plodder, scoring his fourth TD in two games.

• Rob Gronkowski dominated the game until he hurt his back in the third quarter. He was in uniform on the exercise bike, so it doesn’t look too serious, but you never know. Gronk’s TD was a good illustration of why he’s so good after the catch despite being slow. He ran as far as he could before the DB caught up to him, stopped and easily stepped out of the smaller man’s attempted tackle. Most players simply run until they’re caught, accepting the death of the play, while Gronk, knowing he’ll be caught, readies for some hand to hand combat in an effort to stay alive.

• James White caught all eight of his targets for 85 yards. The Super Bowl hero should be among the league leaders in receptions and yards for backs by season’s end. If Rex Burkhead (ribs) misses any time, White’s reps should only increase.

• Tom Brady went 30-for-39 for 447 and three TDs, without involving big-play WR Cooks, but it was against the Saints, so let’s wait another game before we get too excited for an all-time season. (Consider what Sam Bradford did to New Orleans last week.)

• Carson Wentz might be a star fantasy QB because the Eagles simply don’t run very much. Darren Sproles led the team with 10 carries, and LeGarrette Blount had none. Wentz had 55 yards rushing and 333 passes on 46 attempts.

• Nelson Agholor caught a last minute TD, but Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are the team’s go-to targets, and Torrey Smith is probably No. 3.

• After a slow start, Kareem Hunt managed 109 YFS and two TDs. He’s arguably the No. 1 overall fantasy player right now with David Johnson out, Bell struggling and a possible suspension still hanging over Ezekiel Elliott.

 Tyreek Hill had six targets and four catches for 43 yards. He added a six-yard rush, but the verdict is not yet in as to whether he can be a legitimate No. 1 outside WR. Aside from a play where the Patriots defensive back fell down, and Hill ran 75 yards untouched for a TD, he’s had 13 targets with 11 catches for 101 yards through two games.

• Travis Kelce led the team with 10 targets, eight catches, 103 yards and a TD, while Chris Conley led the wideouts with 55 yards receiving.

• The Cardinals and Colts are both terrible. J.J. Nelson had a good game in John Brown’s and David Johnson’s absence, but he’s too small for a huge role. Jaron Brown had more targets (11) but caught only four passes for 73 yards.

• Chris Johnson led the miserable Arizona RB committee, and I don’t expect that to change.

• Carson Palmer’s arm looked okay – from the plays I watched.

• Larry Fitzgerald caught three of six targets for 21 yards against the Colts. There’s a decent chance he’s done.

• Jack Doyle looks like Jacoby Brissett’s security blanket, and it should be Brissett’s job for the foreseeable future unless the team finds the courage to sign Colin Kaepernick.

T.Y. Hilton deserves better, but it’s T.Y. Econolodge for the time being as Andrew Luck is reportedly at least four weeks away.