Week two of the NFL will conclude tonight after Seattle faces off against Chicago in tonight’s Monday Night matchup, and as far as fantasy football goes, a lot has already happened. From injuries to running back committees, there’s a lot that needs to be addressed, so here are some quick football and fantasy takes I have through the first two weeks of the season.
Michael Thomas is making his case as the best receiver
In recent year’s past, Antonio Brown has always been widely considered as the best receiver in the NFL, and usually by quite a margin. But this year he has some serious competition for his throne. New Orleans’ Thomas has been absolutely stellar in his first two games this season, as well as a terrific start to his young career. His quarterback Drew Brees absolutely adores him, having targeted him 30 times this season. And the thing is, Thomas seems to always bring them down, catching 28 of those 30 targets. It will be interesting to see how this trend is affected once Mark Ingram returns from suspension, but I think it’s safe to say that Thomas is a great play week in and week out. Though Brown will still be an elite option at the receiver position, JuJu Smith-Shuster may be taking some valuable looks and touchdowns away from Brown, where Thomas has little to no serious competition for looks. Thomas may finally dethrone Brown as the league’s top dog, who has been the NFL’s top fantasy wide out for four years straight.
Some big name free agents will have jobs soon
After week two’s slate of games, I’m beginning to think that there are some big free agents that will land on teams soon. Dez Bryant is one that comes to mind instantly, as he still has some great years ahead of him. A few teams could really use a wide receiver, namely the 49ers, Patriots, and Cowboys, but we all know a return isn’t happening at this point. Dan Bailey is another former Cowboy that a lot of teams should be giving a call (cough cough Cleveland Browns). We saw a lot of missed field goals and extra points, 19 to be exact, preventing the Browns from their first win since Christmas Eve 2016, and granting fans the second tie in two weeks with numerous missed opportunities from the Packers and Vikings. Bailey has the second-highest conversion rate in league history, so don’t expect him to be jobless for much longer. Lastly, there’s Josh Gordon, who’s not technically a free agent yet amidst Cleveland’s attempts to trade him. They do intend to release him today if no trade offers please them, so much like Bryant, there are definitely a few teams who could use his talents as long as they can handle his potential off-field issues.
It’s finally time to label Patrick Mahomes as legit
Mahomes has been on a tear to begin the season, most recently showcasing a record-setting six touchdowns against the Steelers Sunday. No quarterback has ever thrown ten touchdowns through their team’s first two games, while also being one of only three quarterbacks to have thrown for four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games (Drew Bledsoe 1997 and Ryan Fitzpatrick 2018). Mahomes is the real deal. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal, including one of the quickest receivers in Tyreek Hill, an elite option at tight end in Travis Kelce, and one of the best receiving backs in the NFL in Kareem Hunt. His team will rely on him even more with how bad the Chief’s defense is, having given up 28 and 37 points in week one and two respectively. I don’t expect him to continue this level of production throughout the season, but Mahomes has all the weapons and talent to be a top-five fantasy quarterback this year.
“Fitzmagic” is legitimately stealing Jameis Winston’s starting job
Much like Mahomes, Fitzpatrick has had a great start to the young season as well, throwing for four touchdowns in each of his first two games for his new Tampa Bay squad. We’ve seen the brilliance before from the Harvard grad, but consistency has always been his biggest issue, so it remains to be seen if he can continue this production for longer stretches. That, however, is almost irrelevant at this point. The Buccaneers are off to a 2-0 start, but even more impressive when you look at who they beat. They beat divisional rival and last year’s divisional champion New Orleans Saints on the road, as well as last year’s Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. They face Pittsburgh next, another playoff team from last year, then Winston will return from suspension next year. Many would have predicted Tampa Bay to potentially start 0-3 after their brutal opening stretch of games, but “Fitzmagic” has been stellar. He is utilizing DeSean Jackson’s deep threat talents the way they should be, with two long touchdowns to him already this season. He’s also utilizing Jackson’s wardrobe, donning his outfit in the post game’s presser.
Never change, Ryan Fitzpatrick. 😂 pic.twitter.com/lMJ6HoXgMM
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 16, 2018
“Fitzmagic” has won the heart of not only Tampa Bay fans, but NFL fans across the nation, and if he can continue his dominance with a win over Pittsburgh, the Buccaneers will be faced with a tough decision after next week once Winston returns.
The Rams are good. Like really good
Full disclosure: I might be a little biased having been a Rams fan my whole life. However, it’s impossible to ignore their dominance through their first two games of the season. Los Angeles hasn’t given up a single point in the last six quarters of play, having shut out the Raiders in week one in the second half, and shutting out the Cardinals all game Sunday. Yes, their first two opponents aren’t exactly elite opponents, but nonetheless, their performance has been dominant. All those acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball must have defensive coordinator Wade Phillips drooling, and he’s made the most of what’s at his disposal thus far. The offense has been great too, with Gurley picking up right where he left off with last year’s Offensive Player of the Year season. Jared Goff has already established a great connection with newly acquired Brandin Cooks too. This team had a lot of expectations going into the year, and so far they are holding their own just fine.
The Bills are bad. Like really bad
On the other side of the spectrum as the Rams, we have the Bills, who just can’t seem to figure things out. Most knew they featured a very unimpressive roster, but few could predict just how bad they really would be. Buffalo traded away both Tyrod Taylor and A.J. McCarron, leaving Nathan Peterman to be their bridge quarterback for their first-round selection Josh Allen from this year’s draft. Peterman has been historically bad in his young NFL career, and have now resorted to throwing in Allen to start, which may stunt his growth as a passer. There were times where Allen had no time at all to get rid of the football, which could hurt not only his body, but his confidence as well. We’ve seen this before with rookie quarterbacks, and most teams these days are trying to ease in their rookie signal caller instead of just throwing them out to the wolves to get punished (David Carr anyone?). I mean, they are so bad that even one of their own players retired at halftime!
— NFL (@NFL) September 16, 2018
From a fantasy standpoint, playing the defense that plays Buffalo is a great option for those who stream defenses. If you do any kind of weekly survivor challenge, where you have to pick a winner each week, any team that plays Buffalo will at the least garner some consideration for play.
Saquon Barkley is an offensive line away from being an elite fantasy option
There were mixed reactions when the Giants selected Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. It showed that New York was committed to Eli Manning and were in win now mode. However, some fans wanted the Giants to select a quarterback with their pick so they can prepare for the long-term future with the void at the position Manning will soon create once he retires. But, it’s hard to argue that Barkley isn’t the best talent in this year’s draft, so personally I feel the Giants made the right choice. Barkley has put up some solid numbers through his first two weeks, but there is definitely room for improvement, and it all starts with his offensive line. When I watched him last night, he was consistently making the first defender miss their tackle. The only bad thing is usually that defender was already behind the line of scrimmage. Barkley only had 28 yards rushing, and though he did catch 14 passes (PPR owners put your hands up), it was only for 80 yards. He has one touchdown on the year, and the yardage output is uninspiring, but his usage in New York will be high. He will occasionally break out for some big touchdowns, much like how he did in week one against Jacksonville, but unless his offensive line’s play improves, there will be a limit to what he can do.