Jesse Pantuosco

Power Rankings

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Week 2 Power Rankings

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


I’m not mad, Saints D. I’m just … disappointed. I’m not saying you singlehandedly cost me three of my season-long matchups (like Tron Carter, I plead the fifth). But allowing 48 points and over 500 yards of offense to the No. 30 team in last week’s Power Rankings wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

 

Maybe it’s on me for getting duped. I mean, starting Saints D? In fantasy? Most years, that would be a suicide mission. But I really thought 2018 would be different. Led by Ohio State standout Marshon Lattimore, the Saints’ secondary was among the league’s stingiest last year while pass-rusher Cameron Jordan (13 sacks) also enjoyed a career-best season. My gut was telling me it was too good to be true, but how could I pass up their Week 1 matchup against the Bucs? Playing at home against a 35-year-old backup quarterback—it checked off so many boxes.

 

But when has fantasy ever played by the rules? When has it catered to things like logic and common sense? When has it ever been a Good Samaritan and just DONE THE RIGHT THING ALREADY? This untamable trickster known as fantasy football doesn’t take marching orders from anyone. How else could you explain Ryan Fitzpatrick, a man who’s played on almost as many teams as Bartolo Colon, gashing the Saints for 417 yards on just 28 passing attempts? Or DeSean Jackson, a player left for dead by most of the fantasy community, exploding for a pair of long touchdowns? That’s almost as crazy as Tyreek Hill going for 169 yards against a stacked Chargers secondary. Wait, that happened too? Well then, I give up.

 

Welcome back to fantasy football, everyone. If you’re not frustrated enough to pull a Ron Swanson right now, you’re not doing it right. Cheers to 16 more weeks of gratuitous pain and torture! Because I’m a masochist, I’ll be turning to the Saints’ defense once again (they’re playing Cleveland) in Week 2. Wish me luck—Lord knows I’ll need it. Now for those Power Rankings you came here for.

 

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 1

 

Nick Foles may not have the strongest or most accurate throwing arm, but he’s a darn good receiver as Thursday proved once again. Nelson Agholor did his best Jarvis Landry impression in that game, managing only 33 yards despite nabbing a team-high eight catches. That gives the wide receiver 17 grabs over his last two games dating back to last season. The Eagles’ offense didn’t show much firepower against Atlanta, but it looks like they’ll have to tread water for a few more weeks with Carson Wentz (ACL) and Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) still on the shelf.

 

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2. Los Angeles Rams

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 2

 

Todd Gurley proved to be a rude guest in Week 1, blowing up for 147 yards and a touchdown in the house that Jon Gruden built. Those looking for clarity in the Rams’ receiving corps didn’t get any Monday night as Brandin Cooks (eight targets), Cooper Kupp (nine targets) and Robert Woods (nine targets) all saw about the same workload. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I guess this end-zone crotch grab by Marcus Peters was actually a pretty touching (no pun intended) tribute to pal Marshawn Lynch. I’ll show myself out now.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 3

 

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were up to their usual tricks in Week 1, combining for 145 yards and a touchdown on nine catches in Minnesota’s win over San Francisco. Dalvin Cook struggled in his return from a torn ACL (2.5 yards per carry with a lost fumble), though his volume was encouraging as the 23-year-old out-touched Latavius Murray by a convincing 22-11 margin while playing 57-of-71 offensive snaps. All-Pro DBs Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith picked up where they left off in 2017, recording an interception each in Sunday’s opener.

 

4. New England Patriots

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 4

 

Aside from an uncharacteristic first-half interception, Tom Brady was his usual, dominant self against the Texans, especially when he was slinging the rock to America’s favorite man-child Rob Gronkowski (seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown on eight targets). As usual, Bill Belichick pulled a fast one on us. Chris Hogan was the chalk on DFS, but instead Phillip Dorsett broke out for 66 yards on a career-high seven catches. Expect the Pats to add a running back this week after losing former 1,000-yard rusher Jeremy Hill to a season-ending ACL tear.

 

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 7

 

Taking over for an injured Leonard Fournette at running back, T.J. Yeldon handled 14 carries while also drawing a team-high seven targets against the Giants in Week 1. With Fournette in limbo, Yeldon should be a popular waiver pickup this week. The Jags will take a six-game home winning streak into Sunday’s battle with New England. That will be a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. Deep threat Keelan Cole has recorded a catch of 30-plus yards in five of his last six regular season games going back to last year.

 

6. Green Bay Packers

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 9

 

Aaron Rodgers had his Willis Reed moment in Week 1, shrugging off a painful knee injury to beat the Bears in dramatic fashion. The first half belonged to Khalil Mack (one sack, a pick-six and a fumble recovery) but Rodgers owned the final two quarters, shredding Chicago for a trio of second-half touchdowns. Seventy-five of Randall Cobb’s career-high 142 receiving yards Sunday came on his go-ahead score with 2:13 remaining. Meanwhile Jimmy Graham has averaged an embarrassing 11 yards per game with only one touchdown over his last five regular season contests.

 

7. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 14

 

With Joey Bosa (foot) absent, Patrick Mahomes went wild in Week 1, shredding the Chargers for 256 yards and four touchdowns. It’s not often you see a team win while allowing 500-plus yards, but if anyone can pull off that delicate balancing act, it’s offensive mastermind Andy Reid. Unfortunately, even Reid hasn’t been successful in resurrecting Sammy Watkins, who has averaged a disappointing 21.8 yards over his last five games going back to 2017. Including Sunday’s hat trick, Tyreek Hill has now scored 23 touchdowns over 32 NFL appearances.

 

8. Atlanta Falcons

Record: 0-1

Last Week: 8

 

If Matt Ryan never plays the Eagles again, it will be too soon. Including last year’s playoff defeat, Matty Ice has posted a sluggish 70.7 quarterback rating in his last two games against the reigning World Champs. Even with Ryan in self-destruct mode, Julio Jones still erupted for 169 yards in Week 1, a total bested only by Oakland’s Jared Cook (180) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (180). Atlanta’s defense did its job against Philadelphia, though others will have to step up in the absence of Pro Bowlers Deion Jones (foot) and Keanu Neal (ACL). The Falcons will look to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2007 when they host the Panthers in Week 2.

 

9. New Orleans Saints

Record: 0-1

Last Week: 5

 

New Orleans’ loss to Tampa Bay was the highest-scoring Week 1 game in NFL history. It was also the first game to finish with a final score of 48-40 (Scorigami!). Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore was a turnstile on Sunday, earning PFF’s seventh-worst opening week grade out of 99 qualifiers at cornerback. Meanwhile Lattimore’s former Ohio State teammate Michael Thomas was unstoppable against the Bucs, hauling in a team-record 16 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. Alvin Kamara found the end zone three times in Week 1, giving him 14 touchdowns over his last 11 regular season contests.

 

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 0-0-1

Last Week: 6

 

Le’Veon Bell has yet to resurface, but I’m sure the Steelers aren’t sweating it. And why would they after James Conner’s 192-yard breakout in Week 1? Regardless of your feelings on his current haircut, Conner belongs in all fantasy lineups until further notice. Poor weather was partially to blame for Ben Roethlisberger’s erratic Week 1, but Sunday’s turnover-fueled letdown (three interceptions, two lost fumbles) won’t win him any new converts in the fantasy community. JuJu Smith-Schuster has topped 100 yards receiving in three of his last four regular season games going back to last year.

 

11. Carolina Panthers

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 11

 

Once among the most durable players in football, Greg Olsen is set to miss significant time after re-fracturing the foot he broke last season. With injuries mounting, it’s fair to wonder how much more punishment the 33-year-old can take before calling it quits. His absence will open up reps for rookie tight end Ian Thomas. First-rounder D.J. Moore came into the year with high expectations but wasn’t targeted in the Panthers’ win over Dallas. He was in on just 17 of Carolina’s 67 offensive snaps.

 

12. Baltimore Ravens

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 17

 

Nobody had an easier opening week than the Ravens, who slaughtered the hapless Bills in the most lopsided game of Week 1. With Baltimore in cruise control, rookie Lamar Jackson saw extensive run in the second half, contributing 39 yards on seven carries while adding one completion for 24 yards. Newcomers John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead each scored a touchdown as Baltimore won its opener for the third straight season. With Kenneth Dixon battling another knee injury, handcuff duties will fall in the hands of Javorius Allen.

 

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Record: 0-1

Last Week: 10

 

The Bolts kept Travis Kelce (one catch for six yards) at bay in Week 1, but forgot to cover Tyreek Hill, who went off for 169 yards and two touchdowns (three if you include his 91-yard punt return). Sunday marked Kansas City’s ninth straight win over the Chargers, who lost despite producing an obscene 541 yards of offense. L.A.’s running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler delivered the goods, combining for 295 yards (103 rushing, 192 receiving) on 35 touches. 2017 first-rounder Mike Williams went for a career-high 81 yards in the opener but has still yet to score an NFL touchdown.

 

14. Houston Texans

Record: 0-1

Last Week: 12

 

Deshaun Watson looked healthy in his return from a 10-month absence but showed he still has plenty of rust to shake off after completing just 17-of-34 passes for 176 yards in a loss to New England. The Texans are now winless in seven games at Gillette Stadium including 0-3 under coach Bill O’Brien. Tyrann Mathieu made quite the splash in his Texans debut, notching five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Seven-hundred twenty-four—that’s how many days it’s been since J.J. Watt recorded his last NFL sack.

 

15. Washington Redskins

Record: 1-0

Last Week: 23

 

Adrian Peterson still has a pulse. The 33-year-old traveled back to 2012 with a blistering performance against the Cardinals, breaking out for 166 yards (96 rushing, 70 receiving) and a touchdown in his Washington debut. Peterson’s latest end-zone visit marked the 100th rushing touchdown of his NFL career. Josh Norman gets all the press but is the Redskins’ best cornerback actually Quinton Dunbar? That might be overstating it, but Dunbar was certainly impressive in Week 1, earning PFF’s No. 1 coverage grade among cornerbacks. Sam Bradford’s quarterback rating when targeting him was a dismal 8.3.

 

16. Chicago Bears

Record: 0-1

Last Week: 16

 

Jordan Howard hit the Jugs machine this offseason and it showed as the 23-year-old impressed by snagging all five of his targets in Sunday’s opener. Howard was the Bears’ clear workhorse, out-touching backfield-mate Tarik Cohen by a commanding 20-8 margin. Khalil Mack went scorched Earth on the Packers Sunday night but fellow newcomer Trey Burton disappointed with just one grab for 16 yards on six targets. Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games going back to last season, though he did rush for one in Sunday’s defeat.


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Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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