When I am wrong, I will be the first to admit it and I was dead wrong on Stefon Diggs. The combination of a quarterback (QB) change and the prospects of possibly having to face Sam Shields (he ended up inactive with a concussion) worried me. After Sunday, I can safely say he will not end up in the “Players to Avoid” section again this season outside of a matchup against one of the top corners. It hasn’t mattered whether Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill or even Sam Bradford has been the one throwing him the ball; he just produces. On Sunday Night Football, Diggs caught nine passes for 182 yards and one TD and clearly is the focus of the Vikings’ offense. Amazingly, even with a mediocre QB, the sky is the ceiling for Diggs in this role. If Sunday night didn’t change your opinion on this guy, you are being way too stubborn. If I were re-ranking players today, Diggs would rank just outside the top 10 of receivers moving forward.
Here are some of my other DFS-relevant observations from Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season:
Eli Manning, Giants – In just about the best matchup Eli Manning and the Giants could ask for, playing the Saints at home, Manning threw for 368 passing yards but zero touchdowns (TDs). Priced in the top five at the position, Manning only finished as QB20 for the week. Manning is a strange case where his offense is loaded with weapons at his disposal (Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz and Shane Vereen) yet his is still tough to trust at his price tag. Quarterbacks (QBs) who do not run will continue to need everything to go right in order for them put up respectable fantasy days while guys with the ability to scramble like Cam Newton possess the much higher floor. With that begin said, Manning threw three TDs in Week 1 and this week was likely the result of variance. In 2015, Manning frustrated fantasy owners regularly as he passed for one TD or less on five occasions and threw zero TDs twice. Manning is not a sure-thing start at his expensive price tag and should be valued as a borderline top-10 QB moving forward.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers – One of the biggest gainers in value after Week 2 is Melvin Gordon due to the injury to Danny Woodhead. In the first half, Woodhead was carted off with a knee injury, which is never good news. At worst it’s season-ending and at best, well, it should still be a while. While Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will still likely turn to Kenneth Farrow and Andre Williams occasionally from here on out, the injury to Woodhead further solidified Gordon’s role. In fact, he should be relied upon as the workhorse moving forward. After touching the ball just 14 times in Week 1, Gordon’s workload increased to 27 touches in Week 2…and he caught three passes after catching zero in the team’s 2016 debut. The injury to Woodhead catapults Gordon from a boom-or-bust RB3 to borderline RB1 moving forward in a balanced offense that will need to focus on him without a few of their top weapons (Woodhead, Keenan Allen). Looking ahead, the schedule looks absolutely fantastic as the Chargers will take on the Colts, Saints and then Raiders. Buy, buy, buy!
Theo Riddick, Lions – Speaking of guys whose stock is rising due to an injury, Ameer Abdullah left Sunday’s game, did not return and was seen limping in a walking boot after the game was over. Theo Riddick doesn’t project as a bellcow due to his skill set but he certainly is set to see an increase in playing time if Abdullah were to miss time. While Dwayne Washington is the downhill runner in the backfield, Riddick brings elite receiving skills and serious speed to the table. In other words, his skill set is more conducive to the daily fantasy game especially on FantasyDraft due to the point-per-reception (PPR) scoring format. Hell, the guy caught 80 passes last year, his workload increased to start the year and now it should increase once again with this news. The sky is the limit for Riddick as well as Danny Woodhead set the bar for receiving last year at RB4 in the format. Yes, only three running backs (RBs) scored more fantasy points than Woodhead on FantasyDraft in 2015. This could be the sign of big things to come for Riddick.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – He stunk again…freak out!!!!! Just kidding, let me be the voice of reason: don’t freak out at all. In his first two games, Allen Robinson has squared off against two guys who graded as top 10 cornerbacks in 2015, including the top overall player at the position (Jason Verrett), per Pro Football Focus. Arguably, the Chargers defense possesses the best pair of corners in the entire league. In Week 3, the task will get a whole lot easier as Robinson and company will square off against a Browns defense that was just roasted by Corey Coleman. Although the team selected him with a first round pick, Jimmy Smith is beatable, and the panic should only officially start on Robinson if he fails against the Ravens secondary. Throw out the results from the first two weeks and award him a clean slate in the upcoming week.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – If the worry was Jarvis Landry would struggle to repeat his 110 receptions (RECs) from a year ago due to the emergence of other receivers, the worry should be over after two weeks. He isn’t a lock for exactly 110 but he still consistently draws the ire of quarterback of Ryan Tannehill and he has been targeted 10-plus times of each of his first two games in 2016. Like last year, Landry is a rock-solid mid-tier receiving option in cash games week in and week out because of the reception upside. As an additional positive, he often lines up in the slot and is therefore rarely shadowed. DaVante Parker is not a threat to Landry’s prospects, and with the run game struggling, Landry is as reliable as ever.
Will Fuller, Texans – Amongst players who were targeted at least five times in Week 1, Will Fuller led all players in average depth of target (aDOT) at 22.5 yards. After showing his ability to stretch the field in the first game, he followed it up with an aDOT of 25.3 yards on seven targets in Week 2 and finished with four RECs for 104 yards. Not only is he able to beat the defense deep but his QB is displaying the ability to find him and this makes for the perfect complement to DeAndre Hopkins. With Lamar Miller cooking as well, this is developing into an upper-echelon offense and one that requires consideration each and every week. With the ability to stretch the field on any play, and turn his fantasy week into a productive one in any instant, Fuller should be considered a medium-risk, high-reward WR2 moving forward (and he probably will not be priced as such).
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – If there were any question who would step into the WR1 role on the Chargers following the Keenan Allen injury, Travis Benjamin ended the conversation yesterday afternoon. Benjamin put his skills on display as he caught all six receptions, finished with 115 receiving yards and scored both a 45 yard and six yard TD. In 2015, Benjamin made his presence known in fantasy circles by catching 68 passes for 966 yards and five TDs…and now he’ll work with a superior QB in a much more fantasy-friendly system. He’s clearly the top option once again so Benjamin should be expected to build upon last season’s numbers if he remains healthy. Philip Rivers will spread it around from week-to-week but deeming Benjamin a low-end WR2 moving forward feels like a safe spot to rank him without setting expectations at unattainable levels.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Against a subpar Browns defense, Dennis Pitta enjoyed his re-coming out party to the tune of nine RECs (on 11 targets) for 102 yards. Among all tight ends (TEs) targeted at least three times in Week 2, Pitta’s 0.59 PPR fantasy points per opportunity (PPO) ranked seventh best. This comes on the heels of Pitta running the most routes of any TEs on the Ravens by far in Week 1 (27 to Crockett Gillmore’s 11) so it appears he is legit. Remember Pitta caught 61 passes and seven TDs four years ago and has battled injuries ever since then. As long as he remains on the field, he warrants consideration as a mid-tier TE as he currently ranks fifth in targets at the position through two weeks.