Week 2 Tight Ends
TE Notes: Ex-scout Daniel Jeremiah believes Hernandez may be the toughest cover in the NFL outside of Calvin Johnson because of the separation he gains from defenders on every play. ... Finley is the Cover-2 killer. Play him against the Bears with Jennings likely out. ... Cook played 92.3 percent of the offensive snaps in the opener. It's a promising sign considering his snap-count for the 2011 season stood at 59.1 percent. ... Pettigrew flubbed a 23-yard touchdown that would have given him a 6/100/1 line against the Rams. Beyond the box score: Fleener's 10-target, 82-yard performance was artificially inflated by the Bears Cover-2 defense that leaves the middle of the field open in two-minute drills. While Fleener offers plenty of long-term potential, he's not yet a reliable TE1 option with Austin Collie returning. ... Pitta is the real deal as a solid TE2 option in the Ravens' new up-tempo offense. Going back to Week 14 of last season, he has nearly double the production of teammate Ed Dickson.Gresham hasn't reached the point where he can be trusted by Andy Dalton or fantasy owners. He ran the wrong route on Ed Reed's pick-six in the opener. It's been a persistent problem for Gresham going back to his rookie season. ... I need to see Keller take on a bigger role than blocking specialist Jeff Cumberland before I trust that his hamstring injury won't be an issue. ... Clark played fewer snaps than Luke Stocker in the opener.
Week 2 Kickers
Week 2 Defense/Special Teams
After two years of teasing frustrated fantasy owners, the Falcons and Ravens finally seem poised to put the hurry-up, no-huddle reins in the hands of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. It's no coincidence that the 791 points scored in Week 1 were the most in Kickoff Weekend history and the second-most of any week in NFL history. The up-tempo Falcons and Ravens were responsible for 84 of those points, and the Broncos' new no-huddle offense chipped in 31 of their own. Queried about the league's offensive bent, one defensive coordinator replied, "Are you kidding me? The league loved this weekend. If they could have this every weekend, they'd be [extremely happy]. They're never going to slow this down. This is the gravy train."Although we may see precocious rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III accelerate the learning curve, the lesson provided by Ryan and Flacco is that not just any quarterback can master the responsibilities of the no-huddle offense. "The biggest misnomer out there is that any quarterback can do this," former Colts president Bill Polian told Yahoo's Jason Cole this week. "Even within the quarterbacks in this league, you have to have someone with special traits, intelligence, recognition, the ability to process things both in terms of time and actual physical ability. There are a lot of great quarterbacks out there who can't run the no-huddle. It requires way too much processing for them. ... At any one time, you might have three or four quarterbacks who can really do it."The good news for the owners of fantasy players on the Falcons and Ravens is that Ryan and Flacco have finally joined that elite club. Week 1 was a harbinger of fantasy success to come.
Week 2 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Redskins VP of Football Operations Mike Shanahan already had a leg up on the Executive of the Year award after his bold trade with old crony Jeff Fisher to land franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III. If Week 1 was a sign of things to come, Shanahan is going to add Coach of the Year as well. After slow-playing the rest of the league with bland preseason game plans, Shanahan unveiled a masterpiece of screens, run-pass options, play action fakes and eight (!) fantasy-friendly designed quarterback runs in New Orleans. Don't get the idea that Griffin's record-setting performance was all scripted, though. Griffin extended the play on five occasions, three of them resulting in big plays. The rookie went 17-of-21 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and a 150.5 passer rating from inside the pocket, showing the same preternatural poise and playmaking ability that leaped off his college game film. The inimitable John Madden opined that the No. 2 overall pick was "the best player in the league in Week 1." RGIII is here to stay as a fantasy starter.Rodgers would have topped the list considering his history of success versus the Bears, but the timing has been just a bit off with his receivers. The likely absence of Greg Jennings won't help matters. ... The Saints-Panthers game has the potential to be a fantasy bonanza. ... Ditto the no-huddle Broncos and Falcons on Monday night. ... Don't sit Stafford even against the 49ers. He just tied an NFL record with four consecutive 350-yard games, averaging over 400 yards per week going back to late December of last season. Vick didn't play well at Cleveland, but he wasn't nearly as inept as you may have read elsewhere. The play design was uninspired, the pass protection was shaky thanks to a stronger than expected Browns pass rush, and the receivers had trouble gaining separation. The relatively low rankings of Vick and Flacco aren't red flags for the future, rather a reflection of two stingy defenses in a tough matchup. ... Big Ben has tough sledding against a defense that may be Rex Ryan's best ever. ... I always wonder why more teams don't mimic the Shanahan/Kubiak offense. Every time I look up in a Texans game, receivers and tight ends are running free on a play-action fake. As long as this remains a run-first unit, though, Schaub is no more than a QB2 option.Fitzpatrick locked onto his receivers in a disastrous performance versus the Jets. With Tamba Hali and perhaps Brandon Flowers returning this week, his matchup isn't nearly as good as the one that greeted Matt Ryan in the opener. As Matchups guru Evan Silva points out, Fitzpatrick is just 216-of-372 (58.1 percent) for 2,288 yards (6.15 YPA) and a 13:19 TD-to-INT ratio in directing the Bills to a 1-9 record over their last 10 games. Silva also tells us that Dalton is responsible for 13 turnovers versus a mere eight touchdowns while directing the Bengals to a 3-7 record over their last 10. ... Ponder, on the hand, was downright excellent in the second half and overtime of the Vikings' Week 1 victory, showing accuracy, poise and field vision while completing 17 of his final 20 passes for 238 yards. ... Weeden set a record for worst quarterback grade ever handed out by Pro Football Focus.Week 2 Running Backs
RB Notes: My game-watching notes on Chris Johnson from Week 1: "First series: hesitant, indecisive, looking for the homerun, not following the design of the play. Reminiscent of a place kicker or free-throw shooter over-thinking instead of relying on muscle memory. Second and third series: Vincent Wilfork & Co. simply swallowed him up behind the line of scrimmage. Fourth series: dancing east-to-west, can't bring himself to hit a hole." Ex-scout Daniel Jeremiah was more concerned with Johnson's hesitation than acceleration because he's "not trusting his eyes." Johnson's issues are the exact same as last season. We know the explosiveness is there, but he doesn't get a chance to use it with any degree of consistency thanks to his own indecisiveness and an overwhelmed offensive line. Although the one saving grace is that Johnson's stat line could have looked drastically different with a bigger workload, he's now facing a defense that held Darren McFadden to 32 yards on 15 carries.Peterson didn't have the same extra gear in the open field versus the Jaguars, but that's to be expected. The promising signs were his excellent vision and a willingness to stick his foot in the ground and make sharp, slashing cuts. We don't believe he's all the way back to Superman level. His No. 2 ranking has as much to do with an opponent that allowed 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Matt Forte and Michael Bush last week. We know Peterson will get the ball inside the 5-yard line. While it may be true that Spiller's eight forced missed tackles on 16 touches were at least two more than any other Week 1 player, it should be noted that he was facing a lazy tackling defense in garbage time. That's not to say Spiller's stats should be written off, though. Even with Tashard Choice looming as a goal-line vulture, Spiller has legit RB1 appeal for the next month. He's been a top-three fantasy performer going back to the beginning of December. ... In four years with the Patriots, BenJarvus Green-Ellis matched or exceeded Ridley's 21 carries just four times. In 16 games as the starter a year ago, Green-Ellis' longest run was 18 yards. In addition to a 20-yard catch-and-run, Ridley had explosive runs of 17, 17, 16, 15, 15 and 14 in the opener. There's top-10 potential fantasy potential in standard scoring leagues this season.Still rounding into form, Trent Richardson was "just a guy" against the Eagles. Although he ran with power, there was no extra gear and the offensive line failed to open up running lanes. Although I have no doubt that he will regain his burst, I saw nothing in Week 1 to suggest that he's a buy-low candidate in this offense. ... I'd be bailing on Steven Jackson and all other Rams. That offensive line looks like the Battle of Chancellorsville after losing three more players in Week 1. What to do about Alfred Morris? The season opener could not have been set up more perfectly for fantasy success. Morris' two scores came via an end-zone pass interference call and a long interception return inside the 5-yard line. The Redskins' third quarter lead and time of possession advantage were the perfect storm for 25+ carries. Morris has a fine matchup against a defense that made Kevin Smith a top-five fantasy performer, but his long-term value is sketchy. I suspect Shanahan appreciates Morris -- for the moment -- because the hard-nosed rookie can handle 20 carries without getting dinged up, hasn't fumbled yet and doesn't lose yards. In short, he's a lot like BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The problem is that Morris hasn't topped 3.6 yards per carry in three of four preseason and regular season games, has no second gear and offers less playmaking ability than his backups. Knowing Shanahan's notorious fickleness, it's a recipe for fantasy heartbreak. Kevin Smith is a bonafide lead back every time he takes the field healthy. Mikel Leshoure isn't a threat to the starting job in Week 3. ... Benson's cuts were sharp enough in the opener. Facing the 49ers' brick wall on every carry, he never had a chance to take advantage of a defense on its heels as Gore did. ... Donald Brown's box score was misleading. The straight-line speed is there, but he had two brutal drops, struggled again in pass protection and shows very little lateral agility. Fortunately, he has a better matchup this week. I wasn't impressed with Shonn Greene despite the solid fantasy numbers. He fumbled twice, left yards on the field and his touchdown came deep in garbage time. ... Michael Turner is finished as a reliable fantasy asset. He has single-digit fantasy points in five of his past seven games and has found the end zone in just two of his past eight games. The only thing he's a threat to is the 3.0 YPC threshold. ... Ryan Williams' Week 1 performance inspired Pro Football Focus to pen the phrase "impressively unimpressive."
Week 2 Wide Receivers
WR Notes: If he stays healthy and out of handcuffs, Marshall is going to lead the NFL in receptions this season. Cutler targets him relentlessly regardless of coverage. ... Andre Johnson is as good as he ever was. ... It's no slight to Randall Cobb to point out that he's no Percy Harvin. Nobody is. After telling CBS color analyst Solomon Wilcots that he lost 10 pounds to gain even more explosiveness, Harvin forced at least a half-dozen missed tackles in the opener. The new NFL prototype slot receiver is on the mountain top with Julio Jones in run-after-catch ability. While it's never a good idea to make a panic trade after Week 1, Welker is going to be downgraded in Josh McDaniels' more vertical offense. The Patriots are committed to emphasizing Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd while turning to Ridley as Welker's primary replacement in the move-the-chains role. Welker's numbers are "naturally going to go down."It's still too early to make a lineup call on Garcon or Maclin. I wouldn't feel comfortable about the availability of either one at this point. ... We don't know yet whether Darrelle Revis will stick to Wallace or move on to Antonio Brown. Check Silva's Matchups column on Friday for a better read on that situation. ... Barring an unexpected setback, Collie is going to play as an every-down receiver opposite Reggie Wayne. There's a slight risk, but Collie is a fine WR3 option against a suspect secondary as long as he suits up. Blackmon has a tough matchup this week. Owners may take solace in the fact that he would have scored last week had Blaine Gabbert not slightly overthrown him wide open in the end zone from five yards out. ... Similarly, James Jones would have produced a 5/114/1 line if not for a ticky-tack offensive P.I. call on an impressive 33-yard catch. Jones is in line to play nearly every down with Jennings listed as doubtful. While we prefer Cobb's upside, it's a close call this week. See here for our early-week breakdown on Cobb, who is being used more like Darren Sproles than Harvin.A Kenny Britt history lesson: Coming off a multi-week hamstring injury in December of 2010, Britt was expected to play about 40 snaps and “more than Randy Moss.” He responded with a 4/39/0 line on 49-of-66 snaps. Disciplined for a bar fight earlier in the season, Britt’s playing status was up in the air going into an October game against the Eagles. After entering mid-way through the second quarter, Britt ended up playing 42-of-69 snaps with an eye-popping 7/225/3 stat line. Coach Mike Munchak is prescribing 15-20 plays against the Chargers. This time Britt is coming off three knee surgeries. It’s a “prove it” game for fantasy owners.Bills rookie CB Stephon Gilmore fell for a pump fake, leading to Stephen Hill's first touchdown. The second score came on a questionable call at the pylon, but Hill did show impressive run-after-catch ability. His stat line was also boosted by a 27-yard flea flicker. While Hill is certainly an intriguing Dynasty league stash, his Week 1 performance is not repeatable.