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Run 'N' Shoot: Can the Cowboys Survive?

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa has been sharing his fantasy insights for Rotowire since 2007. Mark is the 2010 and 2012 Staff Picks champion (eat your heart out, Chris Liss) and won Rotowire's 14-team Staff League II in consecutive seasons. He roots for the Bills and has season tickets on the second row, press level to the Rays.

Did you "survive" Week 2? Most Survivor players didn't. Neither did Tony Romo nor the opponents of the Raiders, Bucs, Jaguars, Browns and Redskins. Yes, five of the worst teams in the NFL in 2014 all won. Is anything predictable in the NFL anymore? Well, yeah -- the Patriots are still the class of the league. Let's try to make sense of everything else, Run'N' Shoot style.

Survivor craziness aside, the story of the NFL in Week 2, for me, was the play of the sophomore quarterbacks. Derek Carr, for the first time, looked like a possible star in the making, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles finally looked like they (might) belong, and Teddy Bridgewater may be quarterbacking a playoff team. Let Week 2 be a reminder -- things change quickly in the NFL, and we can't just assume bad teams will stay bad.

The Cowboys are 2-0, but can they survive two months without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant? My gut says "no," but who's going to win the NFC East? In a division without a dominant team, might it be the Redskins? Washington has vastly improved in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and rookie Matt Jones seems destined to relegate Alfred Morris to second string. If I'm Dallas, I'm looking at what Washington is doing -- solid defense, ball control behind a good offensive line -- as the template for staying alive until Romo and Dez can return.

Speaking of a Dez return, put me in the camp of cutting him (in leagues with short benches, anyway), or trading him for anything useful. It doesn't matter what Dez says about his injury -- players never tell the truth. See Mike Evans, who declared himself 100 percent healthy before posting a bagel against an awful Saints defense.

The Saints ... ugh. It's odd to see a Hall of Fame QB on a four-win team in today's NFL, but that might be what we're seeing here. The Saints defense is atrocious (think bottom five), Brandin Cooks isn't good enough to be a team's top option, and Drew Brees is past his prime. Even with Brees throwing from behind all year, I'd rather own Ben Roethlisberger.

DeAngelo Williams posting a hat trick fresh off a 100-yard game makes me wonder: (1) how did Carolina coaches misuse him so badly; and (2) just how insane are Le'Veon Bell's stats going to be? With a nod to Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, Bell is the top player on my board.

Dion Lewis is going to finish as an RB1 in fantasy, particularly in PPR formats. Sure, the Patriots will have 3-4 games when they go run-heavy and feature LeGarrette Blount (and we probably won't know which 3-4 games they'll be until after they start). But you want proof Lewis isn't going anywhere? Blount was basically invisible, even in running situations and even after Lewis lost another fumble. Belichick is famous for banishing players to Siberia after such gaffes -- but not Lewis.

Be careful not to upgrade any offensive players too much after they face the Bears or the Raiders. Crockett Gillmore? Nice performance, but after what Tyler Eifert did to the Raiders in Week 1, I'm not sure putting Gillmore in my fantasy lineup just yet. Larry Fitzgerald? Nice to know he's still kicking, but a lot of guys are going to post season-highs against the Bears' defense.

Anyone who owns Roddy White (zero receptions against the Giants despite playing from behind all game) can go ahead and cut him for Leonard Hankerson (6-77-1). White is still the starter, but I'd rather gamble on the theoretical upside of Hankerson than hold onto White, who I'd never trust enough to actually start.

Calvin Johnson's box score looks fine (10-83-1), but consecutive weeks without explosive, downfield plays is a red flag. If I owned Megatron, I'd play up the 10 catches and see if I could get full value in a trade. As Mike Salfino would say, big receivers like Johnson don't age well.

The Vikings, Bengals and Bills are too run-oriented, too good on defense, and have too many mouths to feed for the wideouts on any of these teams to realize their full potential. My A.J. Green for his Jordan Matthews? Charles Johnson? He might need a Mike Wallace injury to recapture the form from his 2014 breakout.

The Giants exist to wow us with ODB plays and to amuse us with impossible-to-believe endings. Leaving Julio Jones in single coverage at the end of that game was nearly as laughable as the Week 1 debacle. There just aren't enough superlatives about Julio, and this postgame quote is priceless: "I had 15 targets and I caught 13. I think I did OK. I wish I could have caught all 15."

As disappointed as I was in the Bills performance Sunday, especially on defense, Tyrod Taylor is making strides. It wasn't all good -- many of his eight sacks were a result of his being indecisive in the pocket, playing as if he wanted to run but was trying to prove he could be a pocket passer. But I've seen enough here to believe Buffalo has a quarterback. For fantasy/DFS purposes, just remember to pick your spots -- we want Taylor in games the Bills will lose; his volume will be too low otherwise.

Here are some early thoughts on players I like for Week 3 on DraftKings:

Quarterback

Andrew Luck vs. Titans, $7,900:
We might not see Luck this cheap again all year.

Russell Wilson vs. Bears, $7,000:
Blowout potential limits yardage upside, but he could have 4-5 TDs.

Cam Newton vs. Saints, $6,800:
Cam is running again, and it's the Saints.

Carson Palmer vs. 49ers, $6,600:
What does Palmer have to do to be more expensive?

Tyrod Taylor at Dolphins, $5,800:
Rushing upside at this price is great for GPP; I was shocked he was only 1 percent owned in last week's Millionaire Maker.

Running Back

Le'Veon Bell at Rams, $7,500:
Even at St. Louis, I expected a higher price; was routinely over $8K last year.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Bears, $7,400:
Obvious upside against Chicago; how will Seattle score the TDs?

Jamaal Charles at Packers, $7,300:
Charles should be over $8k in this spot.

Danny Woodhead at Vikings, $4,400:
I hate the player, but there's no denying his role in the Chargers' offense.

Dion Lewis vs. Jaguars: $4,200:
The cheapest three-down back on the board; Lewis should have been over $5K. But will this be a Blount game?

David Johnson vs. 49ers: $4,000:
Chris Johnson has to take a backseat to the more explosive rookie at some point, right? Right?

Wide Receiver

I don't need to mention Julio, Antonio or ODB, do I?

Eric Decker vs. Eagles, $4,900:
Price locked before his game against Indy on Monday night, ideal matchup vs. bad Philly secondary

John Brown vs. 49ers, $5,100:
While the masses chase Fitzgerald's points from last week (always a bad idea), I'll stack Brown with Palmer.

Stevie Johnson vs. Vikings, $4,300:
The Chargers love throwing a bubble screen to Johnson in the red zone. I'm surprised his price hasn't increased despite success both of the first two games.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski vs. Jaguars, $7,400:
Some fear of blowout potential, but Gronk should be an $8k player, at minimum, in this format.

Travis Kelce vs. Packers, $5,000:
Two-TD upside, and Chiefs will have to throw more than usual.

Greg Olsen vs. Saints, $4,800:
The opponent matters more than the results of the first two weeks.

Vernon Davis vs. Cardinals, $3,200:
Arizona has struggled against TEs for a while now, and Davis has shown life so far in 2015.