Week 2: Pickups of the Week
Before we get into the players fantasy owners should at least ponder picking up, let's discuss a player who literally dropped the ball Sunday on more than one occasion.
David Wilson. That hurt for all kinds of reasons. There's the practical: in standard and PPR leagues, the Giants' starting running back generated one fantasy point for owners. In leagues where fumbles are frowned upon, Wilson earned a negative score. Those winning despite this calamity, thank the Peyton Manning, Reggie Bush or Anquan Boldin-esque players on your squad. If the thanks go to a specific deity you were in constant communication with over the weekend, act accordingly.
There's the uncertainty: At this moment, the Giants aren't saying whether Wilson starts Week 2 against Denver. At this moment, we don't know what role - if any - newly signed Brandon Jacobs has going forward, though he looked nothing like a starter with the 49ers last season.
Then there is the professional: As our readers know, we touted the-you-know-what out of Wilson this offseason.
We named the former Virginia Tech star our "breakout player" of the year. We praised the speedster on the FFToolbox podcast, a fawning process that began last season before the original "fumble" and continued this summer.
When Andre Brown suffered an injury in the final preseason game, talk of using a second-round pick entered the discussion. If you wanted to elicit a chorus of "good pick" or groans from other salivating owners during drafts, selecting Wilson did the trick to almost Pavlovian levels.
As the overall pundit class and Wilson's ADP moved in our direction, we moved him higher on our board. This was our guy, our breakout pick.
Yes, we liked David Wilson. Let me rephrase that. We like Wilson. He remains our guy, even if his opening game salvo had us loopy enough to qualify for the NFL's concussion program.
Then we slept, then the sun rose, then we regrouped. Here's the thing: season projections are just that, for the season. In fantasy football, the opening week isn't a sample size. It's an opportunity for overreaction.
In the case of Wilson, we're putting on our big boy pants and staying the course. We'll drop Wilson in our weekly rankings, especially since Coughlin hasn't committed to a starter. We're talking somewhere in the 18-25 range, perhaps a flex, but not fourth-string level.
Wilson's two fumbles earned him another stay in Tom Coughlin's doghouse. Last year that decision was easy, seeing as Ahmad Bradshaw and Brown existed. That pair along with Wilson helped balance out an offense that has dynamic receiving weapons and Eli Manning directing the action.
The passing prowess remains, but Bradshaw is with the Colts; Brown is with the physical therapists for another 7-8 weeks at least.
Is Jacobs or Da'Rel Scott worth a pickup? Eh, not really. You want Scott as a handcuff type and roster space exists? Fine, but not necessary. That's what Scott is, a backup. Coughlin knows this, just as he knows the Giants cannot sign Jacobs or any RB off the street and receive Wilson's home run capabilities. With Wilson, it's about eliminating the strikeouts, not eliminating the player from the rotation.
"Not going to play unless they can hang onto the ball," Coughlin said after Sunday's loss at Dallas. "It's demoralizing to the whole team. He is a talented young man. We will get him right even if he has to run around the field with two balls. We need him!"
Coughlin no longer fears pink slips, if he ever did. For a two-time Super Bowl winning coach, it's all about the Lombardi Trophy. Not a division title, not a playoff berth, but going to Disney World.
Brown is out for at least the first eight weeks while on the temporary injured reserve with a fractured leg. Wilson's window for eliminating the "f" word from conversation might not be that long, but it won't be any longer than that.
By the way, after Wilson's 2012 opening game fumble, he didn't have another one until Sunday night.
Those owners that listened to us tout Wilson surely also heard our plea to target running backs early in drafts due to there being limited options after the top 25 or so. Grab three in the opening 3-5 rounds, absolutely.
In 12-14 team leagues, that means having bye week options like Eddie Lacy, Ryan Mathews, Rashard Mendenhall. Vick Ballard, Pierre Thomas and Knowshon Moreno as rainy day types teams have just in case. Depending on how Coughlin handles the matter, it could be pouring in Wilson-land for a week or two.
Always explore trades for any player, but don't cut bait for fifty cents on the dollar and don't think of cutting Wilson even in six-team leagues (if the Wilson owner in your league is panicking, jump in). Yes, at this moment he's risky, but more so than say an oft-injured runner like Darren McFadden? Not really.
When right, difference-maker players like Wilson can carry fantasy teams for a week, two or more. Same at the NFL level and Coughlin knows this. He's not bailing on his 2012 first-round pick, not this time. However, should that day happen, should Wilson fumble away this chance, we'll be ready to reasonably react. The draft is one component, a significant piece of the fantasy season. It's just not the only one.
For now, everyone get a grip. David Wilson, that includes you most of all.
Now, the pickups...
1) Terrelle Pryor
2) Ryan Tannehill
3) Philip Rivers
4) Brandon Weeden
5) E.J. Manuel
6) Chad Henne
7) Geno Smith
Notes...Profiled in this space last week: Terrelle Pryor's running raced his value up the Week 2 rankings, while his passing proved spotty as expected. Continue viewing him as a short-term play. If the Raiders open the season 0-3 or 1-4, expect the coaches to turn Matt Flynn's way. ... Philip Rivers threw four touchdown's in the Chargers' brutal opening game loss, but he also completed less than half his passes. That's why he's still a deep fantasy backup. However, San Diego's next two games - at Philadelphia and Tennessee - are against two teams that possess beatable secondaries. Games against Oakland, Indy and Jacksonville come in succession before San Diego's Week 8 bye. Look further down the schedule to Week 9 when many fantasy teams will need a backup QB (Stafford, Kaepernick, Palmer and both Mannings have byes) and note Rivers faces the Redskins. ...Brandon Weeden tossing three picks in the opener doesn't inspire confidence, but he makes the list because the Ravens defense surrendered seven touchdown passes last week. Actually, expect an angry Baltimore squad to lay the wood in their home debut. In that case, Weeden would rack up garbage time points. ...Manuel and Smith showed flashes of fantasy goodness, but the potential with their respective passing games remains limited, especially for Smith.
Best pure Week 2 option: Pryor vs. Jaguars
1) Le'Veon Bell
2) Joique Bell
3) Knowshon Moreno
4) Isaiah Pead
5) Vick Ballard
6) Roy Helu Jr.
7) Jonathan Dwyer
8) Daniel Thomas
9) Alfonso Smith
10) Mike Tolbert
Others - Da'Rel Scott, Robert Turbin, Rashard Jennings, LeGarrette Blount
Notes: Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell should be owned in all formats, but putting out this reminder in case an owner dropped the injured back. It's possible he's back from his foot injury this week, though he's not an advisable start after missing several weeks...and while the Steelers' retool their offensive line. Jonathan Dwyer returns to the roster and could immediately jump into the rotation after the ground game faltered last week and LaRod Stephen-Howling suffered a season-ending knee injury. Touches are touches. ...Suspension is over for Isaiah Pead, the opportunity to supplant Daryl Richardson (20 carries for 63 yards in Wk. 1) as the starter is not. ... Ok, fine, Vick Ballard isn't a sexy play, but the guy makes yards. He rushed for 63 yards against the Raiders. Over his last six games (including the playoffs), he's averaging 83 yards on the ground. Ballard had 14 touches to Ahmad Bradshaw's eight against the Raiders. Even as Bradshaw increases his workload, Ballard will receive his share for now. ...Alfred Morris fumbled twice in the opener and Mike Shanahan is his coach. Yeah, the backup could get involved. Only two touches for Roy Helu against the Eagles, but he was on the field more than Morris when the Redskins went to their hurry-up offense. They could be in that situation the entire second half against an 0-1 Green Bay squad. ...Alfonso Smith surprisingly rushed 10 times in the opener, but managed only 26 yards. ...Dropped Da'Rel Scott to "others" section after the Giants signed Brandon Jacobs on Tuesday. Scott took over after Wilson's benching and produced 74 yards on 10 touches. Ultimately, he's just an ordinary talent and one headed back into a third-string role. Jacobs is past his prime and no threat to Wilson's job even if he steals a goal line carry or two.
Best pure Week 2 option: Joique Bell at Arizona
1) Rueben Randle
2) Julian Edelman
3) Rod Streater
4) Kenny Stills
5) Jerome Simpson
6) Marlon Brown
7) Andre Roberts
8) Darrius Heyward-Bey
9) Doug Baldwin
10) Harry Douglas
Others - Nate Washington, Robert Woods, Brandon Gibson, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Jermaine Kearse
Notes: Rueben Randle and Julian Edelman are the best bets for immediate help followed by Rod Streater and Marlon Brown. ...Kenny Stills remains a personal fave and his pair of 43-yard grabs against Atlanta did not hurt his standing. Expected inconsistent targets limits his weekly hopes...Even with Larry Fitzgerald back at a Pro Bowl production level and Michael Floyd turning spectacular, Andre Roberts isn't going away. PPR leagues could do worse as a WR5 option. ...Everybody forgot about Doug Baldwin when the Seahawks added Percy Harvin. Well, everybody other than Russell Wilson. Golden Tate remains the best bet for WR production, but I'd rather risk on Baldwin's potential than Sidney Rice's as a pure depth play.So Roddy White is dealing with a high ankle sprain. The tough guy still played against the Saints, but Harry Douglas out produced him. Until White is all the way back, Douglas has value. Once White is back, Douglas does not.
Best pure Week 2 option: Edelman
1) Julius Thomas
2) Brent Celek
3) Tyler Eifert/Jermaine Gresham
4) Dwayne Allen
5) Kellen Winslow
6) Dallas Clark
7) Coby Fleener
8) Ed Dickson
9) Joseph Fauria
Notes: So, have you heard the one about Julius Thomas catching two touchdowns in Denver's season opener? It happened so long ago perhaps folks forgot. Yeah, right, not even a little. Oh, the Giants (the team Thomas faces next) gave up two scores to Jason Witten. ...Brent Celek made last week's "Start 'Em" article. After scoring against Washington and next facing a San Diego defense that couldn't keep Owen Daniels out of the end zone, he'll make an appearance in top-12 among tight ends. ...Still tough to trust Tyler Eifert or Jermaine Gresham because of others presence, but cannot ignore them either, especially the rookie. ...I get it, Dallas Clark received lots of targets and hauled some in for catches. He just didn't look so hot in the process. The Ravens must funnel more throws toward Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown and Ray Rice than Clark and Brandon Stokley. For the long haul, I still prefer Ed Dickson.
Best pure Week 2 option: Thomas without question, but Celek is also a TE1 this week
Notes: I can't argue with anyone dumping the Ravens after that debacle, but there is way too much front-7 talent to give up on with this unit. ...Speaking of defensive talent, the Chiefs flashed theirs in the Week one drubbing against the Jags. Tony Romo took a beating last week and we know even at 100 percent he's capable of some brutal turnovers. ...At this point any team - even the Raiders - facing Jacksonville is a good thing. Actually, the same thing can be said for the Jags facing Oakland.MyFantasyLeague availability: 96%
With Blaine Gabbert out Week 2 with a hand injury, Chad Henne takes over. If the Jaguars are lucky, the Michigan man won't relinquish the gig. When Cecil Shorts scored a touchdown in four straight weeks last season, the passes came from Henne. Neither QB is leading the Jaguars to the playoffs, but only one can lead them into relevance. It's the strong-armed one averaging over a yard per pass attempt than his competition. Henne's mention here is more about monitoring than picking up, more about how he'll help the overall offense than fantasy teams on his own. In two-QB leagues, he provides more pop than other low-end options like Christian Ponder and Jake Locker. I thought the Dolphins had their QB of the future when they selected Henne in the second round of the 2008 draft. I believe if given the job, Henne can produce like a legitimate QB2 with regularity. Regardless, I believe in him way more than the other guy. Granted, that's not saying much, but it could mean a lot for Shorts, Justin Blackmon and Maurice Jones-Drew owners.MyFantasyLeague availability: 0%
Literally only a small handful of fantasy running backs outperformed Joique Bell in the season opener. Turns out one of them was his own teammate. Fine, maybe Reggie Bush overshadowed Bell somewhat, but those numbers from the backup were standout. Obviously, we can't count on two touchdowns or even any score on a weekly basis, but racking up yards as a runner and a receiver (catching 3-6 passes) seems reasonable. Should Bush ever miss games - he's already banged up after the opener - Bell would take over as the main guy even if Mikel Leshoure gets involved on short yardage plays. Worth Flex consideration, especially in PPR, against Arizona in Week 2.
In the context of the season, Montee Ball remains the Denver back worth owning. In the context of the here and now, Knowshon Moreno is the runner the Broncos coaches feel most comfortable using (especially as a blocker). Keeping Peyton Manning upright is the biggest weekly challenge for any of the RBs and the primary reason why Moreno (37 snaps) played four more snaps than Ball (18) and Ronnie Hillman (15) combined. He turned 12 touches into 67 yards. Nothing special, but PPR leagues could tack on three receptions. The way Manning spreads the wealth makes projecting a touchdown difficult, but the way Denver scores means Moreno's number could be called as a runner or receiver in the red zone. Add for immediate depth, ponder as a flex option against the Giants.Injury Status: Out - Knee
Danny Amendola. Kenbrell Thompkins. Zach Sudfeld. These were the names bandied about during the preseason, the supposed next go-to guys for Tom Brady. In time that may be the case - at least until Rob Gronkowski returns - but it was the rare receiving holdover that caught both of the Golden Boy's touchdown passes against the Bills. Edelman often served as a junior Wes Welker, proving a nifty weapon out of the slot when utilized, which wasn't that often. Considering Amendola is a constant injury risk - and looking iffy for Week 2 - and the other receiving options (including Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce) are just kids, Edelman suddenly looks like a primary target. Roster this week, start as a WR3 where it makes sense against the Jets in Week 2 (especially if Amendola is limited or out).MyFantasyLeague availability: 31%
This one goes out primarily to owners in shallow leagues, but it's conceivable the former LSU star remains a free agent elsewhere. Don't get caught up in Randle's five receptions for 101 yards against Dallas in terms of weekly viability. As a WR3 on his NFL team, inconsistency comes with the job. The excitement comes from imagining what the 6-foot-2 target could accomplish if he moves up a slot on the depth chart. Considering Hakeem Nicks' injury history and Victor Cruz working through a preseason heel injury, stating Randle will start at times this season is not exactly going out on a limb. Even in his current situation, Randle's big play talents lend to WR3 or flex consideration; if New York falls behind to the Peyton Manning-led Broncos in Week 2, the Eli Manning-helmed Giants will throw, throw, throw while in catch-up mode. Final note: Nicks is a free agent this offseason. Randle's presence doesn't exactly have the Giants feeling pressured to strike a deal. That means by this time next season, fantasy owners with Randle on their roster likely won't have New York's No. 3 receiver anymore.