FANTASY FOOTBALL WINNERS AND LOSERS: WEEK 2

by ANDREW HORN

Two weeks played; two wins under my belt. Week 2 was not as pretty as Week 1, but I still managed to put up 106 points. I am one of three 2-0 teams in our league, along with the Commissioner and my father. It is only two weeks in, but the season is already shaping up to be one of tight contests and heartbreaking losses. There is still a lot of season to go, but those sitting at 0-2 should look at this week’s winners and losers and make some roster changes.

Quarterback

Winner: Derek Carr (OAK)- 41.9 points

Raise your hand if you guessed that Derek Carr, the younger brother of the infamous David Carr, would throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens defense. Well, my hand is raised for two reasons.

First, Derek Carr is flat out better than his older brother. The comparisons were going to happen, no matter how badly people didn’t want them to. The younger Carr has a better arm and more importantly, a better offensive line than his brother was blessed with in Houston. The Raiders did a good job of protecting him against a defense that knows how to sack the quarterback, even without All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Second, his supporting cast is far better than what any analyst could imagine. A quarterback can only be successful if his receivers catch the ball. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper is benefitting from having another former top draft pick, Michael Crabtree, mentor him about the NFL. Crabtree, once regarded as the next Jerry Rice, has had a taste of successful and unsuccessful teams, as well as good years and down years in his career. HE will pass that knowledge on to Cooper, who will develop. Carr looks like he has a great young offense to build around. As for his Week 3 status, I would sit him against the Cleveland Browns. Young Quarterbacks do not fair well against the Browns defense. Start somebody else.

Loser: Alex Smith (KC)- 7.1 points

I will not beat up on Tony Romo who had a very unfortunate collarbone injury sideline him for the next 10 weeks. I will talk about how Alex Smith threw two costly interceptions against the Broncos on Thursday night. Smith followed his three touchdown performance with a zero touchdown one against a division rival they have not beaten since Peyton Manning has been their quarterback. If the Chiefs want to take the next great leap, they will need to show Denver they aren’t the little brother anymore. That starts with Alex Smith winning games instead of managing them. Jamaal Charles is a weapon every quarterback needs, but few of them have. Use him. But Jamaal Charles’ rushing totals have gone down each of the past three seasons. Smith needs to step up and take the pressure off of Charles to produce the offense for the Chiefs. That starts week 3 on Monday night against the Packers. Start Smith because he will have 11 days rest.

Running Backs

Winners: Rookie Running backs

Three rookie running backs got their first career touchdowns. Washington rookie Matt Jones exploded against a good Rams defense for 146 total yards and two touchdowns. Jones led Washington in the preseason averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Monitor his progress on a short week against the New York Giants, but claim him if you can.

Arizona rookie David Johnson scored his first rushing and kick return touchdown in Week 2 as the Cardinals dismantled the Chicago Bears. Johnson now has three touchdowns in two weeks and with Andre Ellington expected to miss another week or two, the two Johnsons in the Cardinals backfield could transform them into one of the most dangerous offenses in football. Again, monitor his work load one more week, but claim him if you can.

Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman also scored his first touchdown of the season, but also fractured a rib in the process. Coleman will be out only a few weeks. Hang on to him now because if Devonta Freeman is hurt or struggles, then Coleman will get his opportunity to start.

Loser: DeAngelo Williams (PIT)- 30.2 points

Like mankind, my week-to-week analysis of situations has evolved. So before Steeler nation gangs up on me and defends their team, just hear me out.

The Steelers have a guy by the name of Le’Veon Bell, a third year back from Michigan State who already has more than 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his career. He has 3,474 total yards in 29 career regular season games, an average of nearly 120 yards per game.

Are you telling me that the NFL’s most dangerous dual-threat back is going to take a backseat to a back that is almost 10 years older? Mike Tomlin has an interesting situation now because DeAngelo Williams is running wild on defenses (three touchdowns in Week 2, 127 yards in Week 1). Do you just bench him for your franchise player? Do you play both and see what happens? Only time will tell, but for now, play Williams until he proves to be taken out.

Wide Receivers

Winner: Travis Benjamin (CLE)- 43.2 points

No offense to Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and Allen Robinson who all scored more than 30 points each, but Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin takes the cake. Benjamin made the most of his three catches by scoring two touchdowns en route to a 115 yard receiving day. That is a great day by itself, but Benjamin had more in him as he took a punt return for a touchdown. This season, Benjamin has only six catches, but is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards. I think “Big Play Potential” is an understatement. Next up for the Browns is an Oakland team that has given up 33 points in each of their first two games. Fantasy owners of Benjamin should be salivating at this opportunity.

Loser: Andre Johnson (IND)- 2.7 points

I dread writing this section every week because it seems that it is always filled with a receiver who I grew up watching and adoring, now struggling to be anything that resembles productive. It’s not like Johnson is putting up 60-70 yards a game, he has 51 yards on the season. He speed and strength have decreased, you cannot argue this. Just like with Reggie Wayne last year, the future Hall of Famer is on his last legs of his playing career. Johnson may come out and have a vintage performance or two, but I cannot justify having him in my starting lineup and with Travis Benjamin owned in only 37 percent of leagues, I think Johnson’s time has come. Drop Johnson and hope that vintage performance doesn’t come against your team.

Tight Ends

Winner: Crockett Gilmore (BAL)- 22.8 points

Crockett Gilmore is not only the NFL’s best name, but also the top TE for Week 2. Gilmore had had five catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders defense. Baltimore should be concerned because they are 0-2 to start the season. Fantasy owners should love where the Ravens are sitting. High scoring offense means high scoring players. Here is some next level analysis: Gilmore is the third Ravens tight end from a school in the Mountain Time zone to have a multiple touchdown game in his second season as a starter. If history was poetic, Week 1 would have been his multi-touchdown when the Ravens played Denver. That is the team Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta played. Gilmore will see his fair share of touches and may put up another similar stat line this year. Pick him and if you don’t have a decent tight end, start him.

Loser: Jimmy Graham (SEA)- 1.1 points

I can’t explain this one. The Seahawks have one of the NFL’s best tight end. So they target him only two times in the game. I guess this isn’t the first time the Seahawks have been criticized for questionable play calling. That being said, he is still football Jimmy Graham and not Miami basketball Jimmy Graham. He will figure it out soon.

D/ST

Cleveland: 41.5 points- The defense swarmed Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee offense all day. Special teams got them more points and decent field position. This was an all-around fantastic performance. Expect another good week against Oakland.

Arizona: 30.3 points- The Chicago Bears are not what they used to be. Arizona came in a made Chicago their home field again (for you youngsters, look up the Chicago Cardinals). Arizona will always get defensive points because there is just too much talent on that team. If David Johnson develops his return game further, It will 2008 all over again in Glendale.

Denver: 26.1 points- Opportunistic against a self-destructing Chiefs team. Five turnovers will always net a defense some points. Denver get four extra days of rest, which is always welcome for older players. Denver returns to the field in a Sunday night game against Detroit. Start Denver.