Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – It appears Jameis Winston’s improvement in the second half of game one against the Titans carried over into the second week. Despite losing a fumble, Winston both threw for and ran for a TD in the Buccaneers’ surprise victory over the Saints. Inconsistency is to be expected for a young, developing quarterback (QB), but when all was said and done, Winston completed 66 percent of his passes (14-21) with a 114.6 QB rating. Doug Martin only averaged 3.7 yards per carry (YPC), which certainly didn’t help Winston’s cause, forcing him to put the team on his back. The Saints defense is not an elite defense, but they are respectable, so this performance should not be overlooked. There will be weeks Winston produces in the QB1 range due to his mix of passing/running ability. He added six ATT for 23 yards and a TD along with his passing TD. Mike Evans will begin to produce as his body gets healthier, which should give Winston three large, talented targets. After the pathetic offensive showing overall in week one, the Bucs week two performance promotes faith in them moving forward. Winston will continue to serve as a tournament only option until he rounds into form, however.
Drew Brees, Saints – Maybe the loss of Jimmy Graham really will cause the offense to implode. In a matchup against a beatable defense, Drew Brees only threw for 255 yards with one late TD and one INT. His performance earned him a QBR of 29.4 and passer rating of 80.5. Brees has now thrown for exactly one TD in both of his games this season. Last season Brees threw for one or less TDs six times, but didn’t do it in back-to-back games until weeks 16 and 17. The ineffectiveness of the Saints’ offense without a large go-to guy to complement 5’10” Brandin Cooks is concerning. Brees is used to the large redzone target who could consistently win one-on-one matchups who no longer exists in this offense. For that reason, the Saints are going to look to run much more in the redzone, which should depreciate Brees’ overall stats. Instead of a top-five overall QB, I value him as more of a top-10 guy until he and this offense show me otherwise… because week two was a gigantic disappointment.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Poor Tevin Coleman was carted off the field Sunday with a rib injury and never returned. One would assume this means he at least cracked, if not broke one or more of his ribs. If Coleman misses an extended period, Devonta Freeman would be in for a full workload. In 2014, Freeman’s 0.47 fantasy points per opportunity (carries plus pass routes) tied him for 19th in football with Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles. I’m not suggesting he will produce quite at their level with a full workload, but Atlanta is committed to the run and is willing to get creative in order to get their backs the ball. Coleman looks like the better overall back, but Freeman certainly is no schlub. Don’t forget he was drafted by the team in the third round just last season. Assuming the price remains similar to last week, Freeman is a viable option in all formats, even against a Cowboys team that just stymied DeMarco Murray.
Matt Jones, Redskins – Alfred Morris simply is not Jay Gruden’s guy. He was drafted before the Gruden era began, so he really has no reason to remain loyal to the guy. This year however, he did draft Matt Jones in the third round, despite already having Morris on the roster. It only took until week two for Gruden to go with his guy, as Jones actually out-carried Morris 19-18. Jones ran for 123 yards and two TD on 6.5 YPC. On the other hand, Morris only managed 59 yards with his 18 carries (3.3 YPC) and did not find the end zone. Both backs rushed for almost 5.0 YPC in week one against the Dolphins, but Jones clearly looked like the superior talent this week. I don’t think this means he immediately becomes the feature back, but he certainly earned a significant part of the timeshare. He’s an exciting young back and can take it to the house at any point, so he has my attention in tournament formats moving forward.
Dion Lewis, Patriots – Dion Lewis seemed like the classic case of a Bill Belichick one-week wonder with LeGarrette Blount returning this week. Apparently that assumption was a poor one though, because Lewis once again led the team in touches in week two against a solid Buffalo defense. He carried the ball seven times for 40 yards (5.7 YPC) and a TD, but the real impressive part was his impact in the passing game. Lewis hauled in six passes for 98 yards which alone (independent of the rush statistics) earned him more fantasy points, than say, Brandin Cooks or Marshawn Lynch. The one glaring issue with the line is the fact that he fumbled for the second straight week and lost the fumble this week. Still, coach Bill Belichick allowed him to re-enter the game and continue to dominate touches once again, so it appears Lewis is legit. He should slide into the similar role that Shane Vereen held all last season with inconsistency just assumed in a Belichick system. In FantasyDraft’s PPR format, that gives him around top-30 RB upside.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – There simply is no question at this point who is Blake Bortles’ top target. Allen Robinson nearly doubled his targets from week one to week two and it paid off. After one REC and 27 yards against Josh Norman and the Panthers, Robinson went off for six REC, 155 yards and two TD against the Dolphins. While the secondary was softer in week two, Robinson showed that the chemistry he developed with Bortles last season was legit. I think this shows he is the true number-one receiver in this offense, which doesn’t mean he’s a WR1 on a weekly basis, but rather should rank as a rock solid WR2 the rest of the way. I just don’t believe the offense is dominant enough nor does it have enough weapons to take the attention away from Robinson for him to produce monster lines week after week… at least not yet in both his and Bortles’ young careers.
Golden Tate, Lions – A new week and new scheme incorporated Golden Tate into the offense once again, which was a breath of fresh air for fantasy owners. The scheme seems similar to last season overall, except for the emergence of Eric Ebron and the fact that Joique Bell is not yet healthy. Otherwise, there’s no reason to believe Tate can’t push the 90-100 catch mark once again. I sort of panicked after week one (despite the eight targets) because he only hauled in four for 24 yards. Expecting a conversion rate much higher on most weeks is foolish, considering the inaccurate nature of Matthew Stafford. Regardless, my concerns were eased when Tate was targeted 10 times in week two, hauling in six of those targets and for a total of 80 yards. He’s the move-the-chains receiver in this offense and should be deemed a safe cash play just about every week.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – John Brown is not the only show in town. Remember eight-time Pro-Bowler Larry Fitzgerald? Well you should, because he turned in maybe his best regular season performance ever on Sunday: eight REC, 112 yards and three TDs. When Carson Palmer is healthy, he consistently produces as a top-10 QB. As long as the man under center remains active, there is no reason to be scared of either Fitzgerald or Brown, as they are clearly the two best options in the passing game. Fitzgerald could be due for a bounce-back season and will be worth using in cash games at the very least in matchups against teams with a true number-one cornerback. I’ll prefer Brown in games against those teams with a single shutdown corner.
Crockett Gillmore, Ravens – A starting tight end with a reasonable amount of potential is difficult to find, and this is the reason I liked Crockett Gillmore as a sleeper in week one. Unfortunately, he flopped (two REC for 23 yards) and I didn’t even consider going back to the well this week… which was a mistake. Gillmore caught not just one, but two TD passes from Joe Flacco enroute to 25.80 fantasy points (second only to Rob Gronkowski). Those waiting for Maxx Williams to break through and start for this time will have to continue waiting, as Gillmore earned himself the starting role for the foreseeable future. If you need a punt TE option, week three is probably not the week for Gillmore against the Bengals, but he is worth a gander in the weeks following.
Eric Ebron, Lions – Matthew Stafford typically likes to target his TEs in the redzone and this season he has one that stands out above the others in terms of talent. For the second straight week, Eric Ebron found pay dirt. He battled drops all last season and even during the preseason, but he appears ready to put that issue in the past. Ebron was the first TE drafted in last year’s draft, so it has never been a matter of ability. As long as the team continues to target him (especially in the redzone), he is going to continue using his size and produce. After two solid performances, he is approaching weekly low-end TE1 consideration, but I still need to see a little more before I am a full-on believer (despite putting him on my preseason sleeper list).
Gavin Escobar, Cowboys – In hindsight, it may have been an oversight to look solely at the receivers in Dez Bryant’s absence. Escobar was targeted multiple times in the redzone and let’s reason through this; Bryant was the main end zone target, so who is going to score in his absence? I would have felt much better about his prospects if Tony Romo didn’t break his collarbone, but Escobar will be a threat to score from here on out. Playing him will not be for the faint of heart, since you’ll be relying on a team being led by Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle and Terrance Williams instead of last year’s trio of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant. He is probably the Cowboy I am most willing to use in tournaments for the next week until we have a chance to gather data on how this new-look offense will go.