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Fantasy Football
Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Dealings: What You Need To Know After Week 2

  • Jaime Eisner
  • September 18, 2023
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Welcome to Fantasy Dealings, the newest weekly column here on The Draft Network. Each Monday we’ll delve into the hottest (and coldest) players and topics in the fantasy football world and break down whether or not something is a big deal, little deal, or no deal at all. We’ll parse through the eye test, snap counts, production, and more to give actionable advice to fantasy football managers everywhere.

Let’s dive right into things after a wild Week 2 of NFL and fantasy football action.

Fantasy Football Dealings: Week 2

Big Deal

— We have to accept Kyle Pitts has been Arthur Smith’d: Sigh. The Falcons ran 82 offensive plays (32 passes) in Week 2, yet Pitts received just five targets—for context, they ran 50 plays (18 passes) in Week 1 and averaged 57.3 plays (24.4 passes) last season. Drake London, Mack Hollins, and Jonnu Smith (!) all had more. It’s over. We, as a fantasy football community, need to just accept it. Pitts is just a weekly flier like almost every other TE in the NFL. Raw talent be damned, the fantasy production isn’t coming with any level of consistency.

Anthony Richardson is a star; please protect yourself: I was beyond eager to see Richardson in action coming into the season and believed his learning curve would not be as pronounced as many predicted. Still, I did not expect him to look this good this soon. His ability to be dynamic as a rusher is already at an NFL level and provides a major boost to fantasy managers who play him—he had nearly 18 fantasy points in 5:47 of play against the Texans—and he’s been solid as a thrower too. The problem? He’s playing too loose and careless with his body against NFL defenders. He suffered minor injuries in Week 1 before missing 90% of Week 2’s game with a concussion. I ranked Richardson as my QB13 in my preseason rankings, but he’s a top-10 play weekly with both a high ceiling because of his rushing ability and a low floor because of injury risk.

Dameon Pierce is coming off the field a lot: That sound you hear is the last little bit of preseason Pierce hype being whisked away. After playing just 45% of Houston’s offensive snaps in Week 1, Pierce played 45% of snaps again in Week 2. He’s been taken off the field for some combination of Devin Singletary, Mike Boone, and Dare Ogunbowale. It doesn’t help that the Texans can’t stay in games long enough to establish the run, but do we think that’s going to change in a demonstrative way going forward? Pierce is a matchup-based flex play from here on out.

James Cook’s productivity despite lack of goal-line carries: Despite the work Damien Harris and Latavius Murray are getting, Cook is proving to be a viable weekly fantasy starter. He got 16 touches in Week 1 and 21 touches in Week 2 and is playing roughly 60% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps. While the lack of goal-line carries does cap his upside, he’s proving he can be an RB2 for fantasy managers without reaching the end zone.

— Rams are very, very fantasy-relevant: Puka Nacua is a MONSTER. That’s all. Play him every week… even when Cooper Kupp comes back. I don’t care. Say hello to Wally Pipp. Also, Tutu Atwell has progressed into a viable starting receiver for Los Angeles (and a flex player for fantasy). He’s caught 13 of his 17 targets through two weeks and has been much more reliable than Van Jefferson, who may be fazed out soon. Oh, and let’s not forget about Kyren Williams, who played 95% of the Rams’ offensive snaps with Cam Akers inactive and on the way out of town. He’s a weekly RB2 going forward. 

— Play Jets at your own risk: Garrett Wilson had a 68-yard touchdown to save his day, but this Jets offense is completely lost with Zach Wilson at QB. Garrett Wilson should be in your lineup every week, but he may be the only Jet that should play in 10 or 12-team leagues—at least until bye weeks start.

Brian Robinson Jr. is for real: With 20 touches in back-to-back weeks, it looks like Eric Bieniemy is fully committed to Robinson Jr. as his workhorse back. What’s even more exciting for fantasy football purposes are Robinson Jr.’s flashes in the receiving game so far. He had a 7-yard touchdown catch in Week 1 and two 21-yard catches in Week 2. I finally feel excited about having him in my lineups.

Little Deal

Roschon Johnson emerging: Khalil Herbert is still Chicago’s RB1 for now, but it won’t take long for Johnson to rip that role away and claim it as his own. He looks like the Bears’ most explosive runner and is getting (limited) opportunities to make plays in the receiving game as well. So why is this just a “little deal”? Well, it’s because the Bears’ offense is a complete mess. It’s difficult to envision Johnson cracking your fantasy lineup anytime soon, but he’s absolutely worth a stash if you have room on your bench.

Zack Moss is Colts’ RB you want: Moss made his return from injury in Week 2 and assumed the clear RB1 role for Indianapolis against the Texans. He played a whopping 98% of the Colts’ snaps compared to… *checks notes* 0 combined snaps for other running backs. Moss looked solid too, picking up 88 yards on 18 carries and 19 yards on a quartet of catches. He’s a flex play, but you can disregard the other Colts RBs in favor of Moss until Jonathan Taylor returns.

— Packers’ rookie WRs making an impact: With Christian Watson sidelined to start the season, rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks have emerged as viable weapons for Jordan Love. Despite being drafted three rounds later, Wicks has edged Reed in terms of overall snaps through two weeks. Both rookies scored in Week 2 but I do have some concerns about long-term viability. The rookies are playing between 54-56% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps through two weeks, but that’s sure to drop once Watson returns. Consider Reed and Wicks as inexpensive DFS plays in the short term.

Josh Reynolds is a reliable WR2 for the Lions: There’s value in the Lions’ passing game beyond Amon-Ra St. Brown. While many are not-so-patiently waiting for the return of Jameson Williams from his suspension, Reynolds is proving to be a reliable option for Jared Goff. He’s clearly the WR2 in terms of snaps and targets, gobbling up 13 through two weeks. His pair of scores in Week 2 surely got the attention of fantasy managers. He’s a viable flex play in certain matchups.

Zach Ertz is a favorite of Joshua Dobbs: With 18 targets and 12 catches through Week 2, it’s time we acknowledge that Ertz is very fantasy-relevant at a devoid position. While it was understandable why Ertz was ignored in fantasy drafts—he’s 32, coming off a major injury, and was uncertain to play in Week 1—he’s proving to be a favorite target for Dobbs early on. Ertz isn’t going to win you any matchups by himself like he did back in the day, but he needs to be on your radar.

Marvin Mims Jr.’s big day: Two catches for 113 yards and a touchdown is sure to get everyone’s attention, but I’m not rushing to the waiver wire to grab the rookie just yet. He played fewer than a quarter of Denver’s offensive snaps and is behind Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and Brandon Johnson in the Broncos’ receiver rotation.

D’Andre Swift’s breakout: It’s very possible I’m just a hater after being burned before, but I’m not fully ready to flip the switch in my mind on Swift just yet. If we get a couple more weeks of similar usage (not expecting a repeat in production) when Kenneth Gainwell returns then I’ll be sold. Right now, I’m still in wait-and-see mode. If Gainwell misses Week 3, you’re starting Swift as a top-20 RB. If Gainwell plays, I’d downgrade Swift to a flex.

No Deal

Joshua Kelley’s poor stat line: I’m sure many fantasy managers were disappointed they spent so much FAAB of Kelley this week, but don’t be deterred. The Titans are a tough team to run on and Kellen Moore didn’t try to force it. Kelley is still in flex consideration when Austin Ekeler returns and at worst should be a top option on your bench.

Ja’Marr Chase’s slow start: Don’t panic. While Joe Burrow doesn’t look right and re-aggravated his calf injury on Sunday, I wouldn’t try to bench or sell low on Chase. He and this Bengals offense are too talented—they’ll get it figured out eventually. It sucks given where you had to draft Chase, but don’t compound things by moving on when his value is at its lowest.

Told You So

Drake London is fine: Here’s a nugget from last week’s column after London had a goose egg in Week 1: “In the four games Desmond Ridder started last season, London averaged 9.0 targets, 6.3 receptions, and 83.3 receiving yards per game (with a 31.3% target share).” Well, what happened this week? London had seven targets, six catches, 67 receiving yards, and a touchdown. The Falcons’ passing offense will make you ride the wave, but Week 1 is not at all indicative of the kind of player (real life or fantasy) London is. 

— Don’t sleep on Gabe Davis: I’ve been banging the Davis drum all offseason as a major post-hype sleeper. Given his brutal Week 1 matchup, I wasn’t surprised to see some call him a bust again after a 2/32/0 performance. Well, now that he’s not facing a top cornerback duo, he ATE. Davis saw a team-high seven targets (tied with Stefon Diggs), catching six of them for 92 yards and a touchdown. Davis has double-digit touchdown potential and will get plenty of opportunities to be a top-25 fantasy receiver this season.

Javonte Williams’ return to form will take time: As optimism about Williams being ready for Week 1 grew, so did expectations. However, it was always important to realize that Williams was not going to look like his old self in September and he might not get back to full form until 2024. Williams suffered a major knee injury that was worse than just an ACL tear. As such, he’s going to be worked up to his full workload and will be less efficient with that work than he would’ve been pre-injury. Williams has played just 45% of Denver’s snaps in each of the first two games. View him as a matchup-depended flex play for now.

Raheem Mostert is a stud: There may have been no bigger Mostert fan in the fantasy football space than I was this summer. Despite his injury-riddled past, he’s been pretty healthy in Miami and has elite speed that lends itself to big-play potential. That was on display against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. He has three touchdowns and 31 touches through two weeks. He is and always was a weekly RB2 as far as I’m concerned.

Alexander Mattison isn’t Dalvin Cook: This is something I preached all offseason, as Mattison was one of my top bust candidates entering the 2023 campaign. While he’s had some big games when Cook missed time in the past, many conveniently forgot about his bad games too. Plus, over the last two seasons, Mattison has averaged a pedestrian 3.72 yards per carry. Through two games in 2023, he’s averaging 3.26 yards per carry. He’s just not as good as many fantasy football players have claimed throughout the last few years.

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Jaime Eisner