Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury, and I’m still sick to my stomach. When a 10-day clear sky forecast in the Bay Area called for an otherwise three-hour window of rainy weather only during the 49ers game this weekend, maybe it was a sign this just wasn’t the rookie QB’s year after having to play through a monsoon in Week 1.
While some may blame the injury on the weather, others are furious at Kyle Shanahan, who appeared to call as many designed runs as passes for Lance over the first 15 scripted plays Sunday (after he took a ton of hits last week). Either way, Lance has now suffered three injuries over eight NFL appearances (four starts), so he’ll again enter 2023 as a gigantic unknown.
The 49ers should feel extremely lucky how the Jimmy Garoppolo situation played out, as San Francisco still has a loaded roster in a wide-open NFC. Of course, Jimmy G doesn’t approach the same fantasy upside as Lance, so he’s only interesting in Superflex leagues. The fantasy values of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and eventually George Kittle remain mostly the same, if for no other reason than we didn’t know exactly what to expect from the change to Lance anyway … All 49ers running backs saw a significant increase in YPC with Lance on the field last season, but at least the RBs will get more goal-line scores with Garoppolo back at quarterback. Jeff Wilson Jr. led the team in carries Sunday, but it was Tyrion Davis-Price (and not Jordan Mason) who was next up. That could easily flip next week with TDP getting 2.4 YPC, but either way, a committee of mediocre runners isn’t exactly a fantasy jackpot.
The weather conditions dropped Sunday’s total from 44.5 points down to 40.5, and Tyler Lockett was the only pass catcher to record even 65 receiving yards in this game … Kenneth Walker made his NFL debut and makes Seattle’s backfield a stay-away in fantasy leagues for now.
In what will surely go down as one of the best fantasy games of the year, the Ravens opened with a kickoff-return touchdown only to later blow a 35-14 lead entering the fourth quarter. Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa combined for 10 touchdowns and finished as the top-two fantasy QBs of the week, with the No. 3 QB scoring 10+ fewer fantasy points. Concerns about Jackson not running in a contract year or Tua’s ability to throw deep were both eased Sunday … With Baltimore’s secondary once again ravaged by injuries, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle became the first teammates to record 10+ catches, 170+ yards and two TDs in NFL history ... No Baltimore running back should be counted on in fantasy leagues for the foreseeable future.
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb led all backs this week with 32 PPR fantasy points (it helps when he’s used at the goal line), Jacoby Brissett finished in the 93rd percentile in completion percentage over expectation (13.7 CPOE), and Cleveland led 30-17 with 1:55 left, yet the Jets somehow won Sunday. The comeback happened thanks to an incredible busted coverage that helped Corey Davis score a long late touchdown followed by a successful onside kick and then rookie Garrett Wilson’s second scoring grab of the day. Wilson had 14 targets, was third in air yards this week and appears to be the far better fantasy start than Elijah Moore —at least, while Joe Flacco is still starting.
Carson Wentz has opened the season with back-to-back top-three fantasy QB performances, just as no one predicted. He somehow tossed three TDs with 335+ passing yards despite Washington not picking up a first down until there were less than six minutes remaining in the first half. If two weeks are any indication, Lions games are going to be fantasy carnivals this season … Riverboat Ron was at it again.
D’Andre Swift is a beast who totaled 87 yards and scored on just seven touches, and hopefully his ankle injury doesn’t limit his snaps in the future … Amon-Ra St. Brown tied the NFL record with his eighth straight game with 8+ catches and should be considered a borderline top-5 PPR WR moving forward … Aidan Hutchinson looks like the real deal, recording three sacks in the first half before an injury slowed him (and likely helped Washington get back in the game).
Sidenote: The announcers were positively dumbfounded when the Commanders went for 2 down eight points. But that wasn’t the best part, which happened later when they used a missed extra point by Washington as further evidence the decision to go for 2 was wrong. What a world in which we live (Atlanta would later in the day go for 2 during the same situation down eight points and nearly won the game in part because of it).
The Colts badly missed Michael Pittman (and Alec Pierce), as Matt Ryan struggled mightily for the second straight week. There’s a real chance Jacksonville’s defense is much improved this season, but Indy entered as favorites and left shut out. Parris Campbell was a major bust, while Ashton Dulin needs to be added in all fantasy leagues until Pittman’s timeline becomes clearer … Aside from a nice TD run, James Robinson managed 27 yards on 22 carries after finishing last in rush yards over expectation in Week 1 by a mile. It probably won’t affect his playing time, as Jacksonville trusts his pass protection … Jonathan Taylor had five carries for four yards at halftime and finished with just one target in a massively disappointing performance (that was in no way his fault).
Given all the injuries, it wasn’t surprising Tampa Bay and New Orleans combined for just 30 points in a defensive battle that included Mike Evans getting ejected … Chris Olave lost a fumble and watched Michael Thomas score his third TD over two games, but the rookie dominated targets with 14. Olave also led the NFL in air yards in Week 2, with nearly twice as many as the next WR on the list. It was the type of performance that’s far more interesting than his final line may indicate, as the rookie now looks like a fantasy must-start moving forward, although having a QB playing through four back fractures isn’t exactly ideal …
Tom Brady’s last three lost fumbles have all come against the Saints, and his brutal game Sunday (-12.9 CPOE) can be handed a pass considering TB’s injuries to wideouts and linemen. And remember the defense Brady faced in Week 1 (Dallas) looked awfully good in Week 2.
Maybe it’s obvious, but given his high TD rate, target competition, QB’s health and own durability concerns, Michael Thomas is someone to float in trade offers this week.
Did I hallucinate, or did Carolina punt down 19-16 with 2:06 left in the game?
I hope you’re sitting down, but the Panthers never saw the ball again. NFL head coaches and announcers are in a real battle for winner of "Worst at their profession in the United States of America" … Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Saquon Barkley combined for 45 scoreless yards in a wild first half that also saw Carolina somehow lose two fumbles inside the first five minutes. CMC and Moore came alive in the second half, and while Barkley’s managers probably don’t care, it’s clear Carolina’s defense emphasized stopping the run throughout practice all week after a rough season opener, for what it’s worth … Kadarius Toney started but finished with more drops than catches, while Kenny Golladay played just two snaps and wasn’t targeted despite carrying the highest cap hit among all receivers in the NFL this season. The other Kenny G likely would’ve provided more production.
Despite no Ty Montgomery or Pierre Strong, Rhamondre Stevenson finished with as many drops as catches (one) and once again took a backseat to Damien Harris … Pittsburgh is going to play in many low-scoring games this season … Nelson Agholor can be added in deeper fantasy leagues, but it’s Jakobi Meyers who’s the most reliable NE weekly pass catcher (and player in PPR leagues).
Matthew Stafford had his NFL-high seventh multi-interception game since the start of last season but finished as a top-10 fantasy QB this week anyway. Allen Robinson bounced back with a touchdown but had a second TD completely (A)robbed from him by a whistle for a medical timeout well after the snap; Cooper Kupp scored instead. Kupp had zero targets in the first quarter but went for 14-11-108-2 afterward … Darrell Henderson scored and nearly doubled his YPC but had eight fewer carries/targets than Cam Akers (2.9 YPC). Meanwhile, Atlanta’s backfield was split evenly with 10 carries apiece between Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie Tyler Allgeier with Damien Williams out, as committees continue to be a theme throughout the league … Drake London continued to impress, while Kyle Pitts continued to disappoint. No matter how tough the matchup, it’s not great when Tyler Higbee sees three times as many targets.
Ezekiel Elliott totaled 49 yards on 16 touches, while Tony Pollard totaled 98 yards and scored on 13 touches. A split is still going to continue … The last game CeeDee Lamb went for 100 yards was Cooper Rush’s first start, and the two produced a solid 11-7-75-0 line Sunday. Meanwhile, Dalton Schultz left injured and looks droppable with no Dak Prescott … Joe Burrow has already been sacked 13 times over two games behind Cincinnati’s rebuilt offensive line, as last season’s YPA leader has gotten just 6.0 yards per attempt to open 2022. He’s someone to target in fantasy trades if possible.
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos
This column isn’t long enough (and my words can’t do justice) for the Denver coaching that can best be described as performance art. Backing the Broncos (who lost Patrick Surtain and Jerry Jeudy early) in Survivor this week almost certainly wasn’t worth the years it cost my life …
Who cares if it took multiple injuries to teammates, Courtland Sutton is going to make his fantasy managers look right if Jerry Jeudy is sidelined long. Nathaniel Hackett’s ineptitude at coaching (for starters, the home team was out of timeouts with nearly 10 minutes remaining) has only been matched by Denver’s goal-to-go offense (who wouldn’t give Andrew Beck a crucial carry on third-and-short with Javonte Williams the alternative?) …
Davis Mills continues to have extreme home/road splits, as he managed just 4.7 YPA despite Houston passing on 68 percent of first downs (compared to 45% for Denver) against a Broncos secondary missing both Justin Simmons and Surtain … The lone bright spot for the Texans was Dameon Pierce, who looked terrific while suddenly being given 100% of Houston’s RB carries (15). The rookie back can be started in fantasy leagues moving forward.
Arizona Cardinals @ Las Vegas Raiders
Arizona was down 20-0 at halftime and 23-7 at the start of the fourth quarter before a miraculous overtime win. There were no 20-point comebacks in the NFL last season; there were three Sunday ... Kyler Murray (-5.6 CPOE, 5.7 YPA) and Derek Carr (-7.5 CPOE, 6.5 YPA) struggled despite playing indoors in a matchup with the weekend’s highest over/under, yet both finished as top-eight fantasy QBs anyway thanks to the matchup (Arizona ran nearly 90 plays) … Davante Adams went from leading the league in target share and air yards in Week 1 to finishing with just two catches and 12 yards while facing arguably the shakiest pair of corners in football, because NFL … James Conner left early in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and Arizona then frustratingly split work between Eno Benjamin and Darrell Williams. Not great.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
To put Arizona’s aforementioned 86 offensive plays in perspective, the Bears finished their game Sunday night with 41 plays from scrimmage. It’s hard to generate much fantasy value (or offense) while attempting only 11 pass plays in a game … Darnell Mooney needs to be benched in fantasy leagues until further notice; his splits with Justin Fields have been brutal since last season … Aaron Jones was fantasy’s RB2 in Week 2, while David Montgomery impressed Sunday night and was also a top-10 RB this week … It was nice to see Allen Lazard back catching a touchdown, but no Green Bay receiver should be started in fantasy leagues right now.