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Mon Sep 21st 2020

2020 Week Two Review

Herbert is up and Tua is next

The NFL season carried on this weekend without a hitch due to COVID. However, I could argue that COVID played a part in the rash of week-two injuries, given shortened training camps and no pre-season games. It was a rough week of injuries.

I had a nice week, personally. My dynasty teams finished 6-2 this week. Win or lose; it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on what we learned after week two and its impact on our dynasty teams.

Week Two Observations

Justin Herbert earned a starting role, and Tua is next.

  • Tyrod Taylor was a last-second scratch by the Chargers, giving rookie Justin Herbert his first career start, and he made the most of it. Herbert had his fair share of mistakes, including overthrows on third downs and an unnecessary interception on a play when he could have easily run for a first down and extended a drive. Even so, he played way better than Taylor played last week and opened up the Chargers offense by throwing the ball downfield. He looked calm and in control of the offense, completing 67% of his passes for 311 yards and a beautifully thrown touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone. He also had 18 yards on the ground and a rushing TD. Statistically, he outperformed Patrick Mahomes and almost won the game against the defending Super Bowl champs, losing in overtime. After the game, the Chargers stated that Taylor is still their starting quarterback, but after his performance on Sunday, I can't see how they could give the starting role back to Taylor. The competent starts by rookies, Burrow and Herbert, have to make the 0-2 Dolphins eager to see Tua Tagovailoa. I would not be surprised to see Tua's debut on Thursday night. 

Anemic offenses stifle dynasty players' value.

  • The Jets, Washington Football Team, and Lions have played horrendously on offense and will crush their players' fantasy value, at least for this year. The Jets are averaging a league-low 265 yards per game, Washington, 277, and the Vikings 278. With Crowder out due to injury, the Jets don't have a startable player on their roster, and he's only valuable in PPR leagues. McLaurin and Thielen will get enough targets to be startable, but each needed garbage time to compile their yards and touchdowns (Thielen in week one and McLaurin in week two). Dalvin Cook is a must-start, given his talent and track record, but if Kirk Cousins continues to play this poorly even, Cook could find himself on the bench on our dynasty rosters. Washington can point to a new coach, new system, and second-year quarterback as the cause of their offensive woes. The Jets can point to the fact that they have battled injuries at running back and wide receiver. The Vikings can only point to Kirk Cousins, but he's all they've got. 

Split backfields still have startable running backs.

  • The Browns showed that they could make Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt valuable starters on dynasty rosters, and the Chargers are proving that they can do the same. While the Ravens, Lions, and Bills' backfields are proving to be too messy to determine fantasy starters. All of these backfields have startable flex position players depending on the size of leagues, but the Browns and Chargers' running backs are the only ones I'd feel confident in starting. Thus far, it seems like the Browns need a more favorable game script to involve both Chubb and Hunt. In week one, they fell behind too quickly to Baltimore, which most teams will do this season, giving Hunt more touches in their comeback effort. I believe what we saw Thursday night against Cincinnati is more likely to happen when playing most opponents. I don't think they will score two touchdowns a-piece as they did on Thursday night, but I believe they could each score one touchdown a-piece most weeks since they are a run-first team trying to limit Mayfield's passing attempts. As for the Chargers, I thought it would take time for Joshua Kelley to earn the Melvin Gordon role in LA, but he seems to have taken the role right away in his rookie year. Kelley out carried, Ekeler on Sunday 23 to 16. Ekeler had more 29 more yards on his 16 carries and caught four passes for 55 yards, but Kelley was also used in the passing game, catching two passed for 49 yards. Ekeler will be disappointing for owners who thought he would not split touches this year, but he'll continue to be a great RB-2, especially in PPR leagues. Kelley is going get 50% of the touches in LA, and he'll get almost all of the goalline carries, making him a startable flex play most weeks.

Passing the baton to new leading wide receivers.

  • It pangs me to write, but I have to admit that Julio Jones has finally passed the baton to Calvin Ridley just as Roddy White passed the baton to him so many years ago. I've been late to this party because I believed Jones was still the more dominant talent, but I will finally join the bandwagon with other dynasty analysts. It's time. Jones's touchdown deficiencies are a real thing, and Ridley's touch proficiency is now a real thing. Ridley's four touchdowns in two games really could be more than Jones scores the rest of the year. I'd still put bets on Jones gaining more receiving yards than Ridley, but this is the year Ridely scores more fantasy points than Jones and will get drafted ahead of Jones in start-up drafts. I believe the same thing is happening in Pittsburg as well, as Diontae Johnson is surpassing Juju Smith-Schuster. Johnson had 13 targets on Sunday, which is one fewer than Juju has had in his first two games combined. He has become Big Ben's primary target. I still think I would draft Juju before Johnson in start-up drafts today, but I may change my mind in a week or two.

Florida teams have found their lead backs.

  • Leonard Fournette burst on the scene this week and laid claim to the starting running back role in Tom Brady's offense. Jones scored a walk-in touchdown on the game's first drive, but Fournette got involved in the third series of the game and dominated touches after that point. He sealed the game with a 58-yard touchdown run. Tampa Back took a chance on a high-pedigreed 1st round pick, and they may have found the running back for their future. Fournette has everything to play for in a contract year and could earn a nice contract with his new team if he continues to play as he did on Sunday. Jacksonville, the team that cut Fournette, may not look as silly for doing so after the performance of their undrafted free agent, James Robinson, on Sunday. Robinson looked great in the second game of his NFL career, carrying 16 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. He's making the most of his opportunity with Ozigbo on IR and Armstead on the COVID list. He's not going to give either of them a chance to win the job if he continues to play like this. I believe he will. Robinson could be this year's number one waiver wire pick up for owners that we wise enough to grab him before the season started.

Week Two Injuries

Saquon Barkley

  • Barkley tore his ACL on Sunday, leaving dynasty owners devastated. This sad news negatively affects the value of every player on the Giants this year. Everything will be on Daniel Jones's shoulder now, as he will have to carry the team. Dion Lewis should take over the starting role, but he does not have the frame to be an every-down back. Wayne Gallman will get work too, and I would be surprised if they did not sign another running back like Devonta Freeman. I wouldn't start any Giants running back unless I was desperate. I think the Giants will pass more, giving Daniel Jones and the Giant wide receivers more opportunities, but the whole offense will suffer without Barkley, so it is a net loss rather than a net gain in the passing game.

Cam Akers

  • Akers injured his ribs, allowing Darrell Henderson to play alongside Malcolm Brown and have his career's best game. He scored as many fantasy points on Sunday as he did all of his rookie year. If Akers misses more time, this backfield could get even muddier than it was, becoming the three-headed monster that coach McVay said he wanted this year. Henderson had all the opportunity for more than a year now, so I don't believe he'll become the future lead back in LA. I'd try to sell him while he has this short bump in his dynasty value.

Davante Adams

  • Adams injured his hamstring early in the game on Sunday, leaving Lazard and Valdes-Scantling to battle for targets the rest of the day. If Adams' injury lingers, Lazard and MVS may be worthy of a flex play, but I would not be too interested in starting them. Aaron Jones is the player most targeted on Sunday, leading to a 46-point fantasy day. While Adams is out, Jones gets the most significant bump in value for this year. The dynasty value of Jones and Adams does not change with this injury, though Jones could prove his worth and cause Green Bay to give him the new long-term contract he's been waiting for, in which case Jones' dynasty value would take a sizeable jump, dropping the dynasty value of A.J. Dillon and Jamaal Williams.

Sterling Shepard

  • Shepard hurt his toe on Sunday, making what I believed would be his breakout year far less likely. Evan Engram benefited the most on Sunday, and I presume he will continue to see more targets, especially combined with the Barkley injury. Darius Slayton was the next highest targeted pass catcher after Engram on Sunday and will be a starter in almost every offensive set while Shepard is injured, making him a safe WR-3 on dynasty rosters. Shepard suffers injuries every year. I'm going to drop him quite a bit in my dynasty rankings as a result.

Christian McCaffrey

  • McCaffrey hurt his ankle near the end of the game on Sunday, and it's reported to be a several week's long injury, crushing dynasty teams. Mike Davis should be rostered in all dynasty leagues where owners are paying attention. I added him on several teams during training camp when it was reported that he was far ahead of Reggie Bonnafon in becoming McCaffrey's back up. Davis looked good at the end of the game on Sunday and was used in similar ways as McCaffrey. I will start Davis in a few leagues this week or try to sell him to the McCaffrey owner. As for other Carolina players, I assume Bridgewater will pass more while McCaffrey is out, giving all the receivers a little more fantasy value in the coming weeks, while not changing their dynasty value.

Parris Campbell

  • Campbell tore his PCL and is out for the rest of the year. His dynasty value was finally rising after seeing his wonderful play week one after missing his entire rookie year with an injury. Sadly, his dynasty value has to fall after yet another season-ending injury. It's just going to be too difficult for him not to get passed by healthy players and new draft picks like Michael Pittman, who they drafted in the second round last year. After Campbell left the game, Pittman saw more targets, as did Mo Alie-Cox, who had over 100 yards receiving. Zach Pascal caught Rivers' lone touchdown pass. Pittman's dynasty value does not change, but it could rise quickly, given that he'll get a lot more playing time. I'm not interested in grabbing Pascal off the waiver wire this week, though I am interested in Mo Alie-Cox, as you can see below.

Jimmy Garoppolo

  • Garoppolo hurt his ankle and was replaced by Nick Mullens, who played well enough to keep the 49ers ahead of the Jets for the rest of the game. Mullens is a capable back-up and can keep the offense moving and keep the fantasy points coming. Shanahan is great at scheming things open and making things easy on his quarterbacks. He will do the same with Mullens.

Raheem Mostert

  • Mostert started the game like he did the last week with a long touchdown run, but later injured his knee. It's reportedly an MCL injury that will sideline him for several weeks. Tevin Coleman got the most carries after the injury but did not do much with them while Jerrick McKinnon looks fantastic on his few carries and one catch. I've always thought Mostert was better than Coleman and McKinnon, and it seemed like Shanahan finally started to believe that too. We'll see what he believes once Mostert is ready to come back. For now, I'm keeping Mostert's value the same and will do the same with Coleman and McKinnon. I think it will be a messy backfield until Mostert comes back healthy to lead the team in touches.

Drew Lock

  • Lock injured his shoulder on Sunday and could miss a few weeks. His back up, Jeff Driskel, played surprisingly well and almost led the Broncos to a come-from-behind win against a very tough defense in Pittsburg. I suspect that the quarterback play will fall off a little in Denver while Lock is sidelined, but not too much. Driskel should be able to sustain the fantasy value of his pass-catchers, even though he'll be without a key one.

Courtland Sutton

  • Sutton played through his shoulder injury on Sunday only to tear his ACL. He's lost for the season. In his absence, Sunday, Fant, Jeudy, and Hamler saw the most targets. I assume this will continue throughout the year. Sutton and Jeudy's dynasty value remains the same, but Hamler has the most to gain. His value was diminished since he was drafted on a team that had Sutton and drafted Jeudy in the first round. It seemed like he would never be more than a WR-3 on the team, but not he has a chance to be the WR-2 behind Jeudy and earn a more significant role in the future if he proves himself. As for Fant, his dynasty value is rising after two incredible weeks. I need to move him up nearer to my top five tight ends.

Week Two Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire. That said, for those of you in true dynasty leagues, here is who I would be looking to pick up this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

Dalton Schultz  

  • I will admit that I was wrong on Shultz. Last week I did not recommend trying to pick him up. He looked terrible when he came into the game last week after Jarwin's injury, committing penalties and dropping balls. Maybe he just needed a week of practicing as the number one tight end because he was fantastic on Sunday. He was Dallas's most targeted pass catcher, catching nine of ten passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Dallas was playing from behind, which increased his targets for sure, but even so, he proved he can be a safety valve for Dak Prescott. He's still available in some of my leagues and will be my top priority pick-up this week. 

Mo Alie-Cox

  • Many smart owners picked up Alie-Cox last weekend just after Jack Doyle was ruled out. I did in one league but wished I would have in more. He could very well have replaced Doyle after his five-catch 111-yard day. Before the games on Sunday, Evan Silva tweeted a stat showing that Alie-Cox had the second most air yards per route run among tight ends in his short career. He improved on that stat this week. Phillip Rivers loves his tight ends, which is why I have been pumping up Doyle this whole offseason. I now think I was pumping up the wrong guy.

Drew Sample

  • Joe Burrow has proven that he loves throwing to his tight ends. For that reason, last week, I had C.J. Uzomah listed as a waiver wire pick. Uzomah was proving me right on early on Thursday night after he had four catches, 42 yards, and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he then tore his Achilles and is now lost for the season. That did not stop Burrow from targeting his tight ends, though. He targeted Sample nine times, resulting in seven catches and 72 yards. He'll do the same for the rest of the season.

Nick Mullens and Jeff Driskel

  • It looks like Mullens and Driskel will be starting for their teams for the next few weeks, at least. Therefore, they are worth trying to pick up in superflex leagues. Everyone will be trying to get them, though, so you'll have to pay up to get them, I'm sure. If I had two starting quarterbacks already, I don't think I'd be willing to pay up for one of these short-term starters. I'd wait for a season-long injury to a quarterback to pay up for a back-up.

Week Two Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

That said, here are my thoughts on trades that were made in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

Mike Evans <-----> Marquise Brown and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade was made in a 12-team, superflex, PPR league. Both teams have strong wide receivers. One team just wanted to get younger. This trade is pretty fair for what the owners wanted, but I think I lean toward the Evans side of this deal. While both wide receivers can be boom or bust guys, Evans has a safer floor and is tied to a more pass-heavy offense in Tampa Bay than the run-heavy Baltimore offense for Brown. The added first-round pick is what makes the trade pretty even, but even first-round picks can bust. I like the Evans side of this trade.

Will Fuller, Eric Ebron, and a 2021 2nd round pick <-----> Nyheim Hines and Hunter Henry

  • This trade was made in a 14-team, superflex, half PPR, tight end premium, all flex league. This trade is pretty even. Hunter Henry is the best player in this trade, but I still like the Fuller, Ebron, and a pick side. Hines may have had the best game his entire season in week one, so Hines was sold at his high point. While it's an all-flex league, the team that traded for Hines was thin at running back with only four on his roster. He likely thought Hines could fill a need, but I think he gave up too much. Ebron is a significant downgrade from Henry, but Fuller is a great addition, and the second-round pick put it over the top for me.

Jimmy Graham <-----> 2021 3rd round pick

  • This trade was made in a 12-team, half PPR league. I thought about not writing about this insignificant trade. It was made by a team that lost Uzomah on Thursday night, and Kittle was his only other tight end. Since Kittle was ruled out, he found a tight end to buy from a team in rebuild mode and compiling draft picks. Both teams got what they wanted, but I think the new Graham owner paid too much for a one-week plugin that did not help his team this week. I would have taken a chance to find a guy on the waiver wire instead.

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