Fantasy Fast Forward: Cousins proves his worth, more notes from Week 2
The Kirk Cousins Era might be upon us. After completing two of his first three pass attempts for 38 yards (the only incompletion was a drop), Robert Griffin III suffered a non-contact injury to his ankle that turned out to be a dislocation; he he is expected to miss at least eight weeks. That won’t be a killer for the Redskins' playoff hopes if Cousins plays the way he did on Sunday.
Playing in relief of Griffin, Cousins completed 22 of his 33 pass attempts for 250 yards, 7.6 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and no interceptions in Washington’s 41-10 win over Jacksonville. What’s more, he did it largely without DeSean Jackson, who suffered a shoulder injury, and with Pierre Garcon getting just four targets. In their stead, the team leaned on Alfred Morris, who churned out 85 yards and scored twice on 22 carries. Tight end Niles Paul, playing in place of the injured Jordan Reed, caught eight of his 11 targets for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Cousins should be an immediate factor in fantasy leagues. He could be without Jackson, but he’d have Garcon, Morris and a potentially sneaky-good Paul at his disposal. Washington’s next two games are against the Eagles and the Giants, both of which appear to be advantageous matchups. At the very least, Cousins will be a starting option through the next two games. If Griffin’s injury is serious, it would be worth it to empty your entire FAAB budget to land Cousins.
Other Week 2 notes
• The theme of the early games was injuries to big players. In addition to Griffin and Jackson, A.J. Green and Knowshon Moreno left their games with injuries early in the first half. Green had to sit with a toe issue, while Moreno suffered a potentially serious elbow injury. There’s no word yet as to the severity of either injury, but both, especially Moreno, could miss time. Injuries are just an unfortunate part of the game.
If Moreno is out for a significant stretch, Lamar Miller would be the main beneficiary. He didn’t do much on Sunday, running for 46 yards on 11 carries, and catching two passes for five yards. However, the game situation forced the Dolphins away from the run, as Ryan Tannehill threw 49 passes. Miller ran for 4.2 yards per carry and got five targets this week, matching his total from a week ago. He did lose a fumble last week against the Patriots, but he ran for 59 yards on 11 carries. That gives him 105 yards on 22 totes and six catches on 10 targets this year. Miller had a ton of buzz last season but never quite got it going. If he gets a second chance to be the workhorse, he would be deserving of at least flex consideration.
• Teammate Mike Wallace caught five passes for 56 yards and a ridiculous touchdown catch. He led the team with eight more targets this week and finally looks like the actual No. 1 receiver in Miami. If he’s getting the targets and making plays like he did on Sunday, he’ll be, at worst, a WR3 this season.
• Sammy Watkins completely erased any lingering concerns about the Buffalo offense holding him back. He caught eight of his 11 targets for 117 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first Buffalo rookie receiver to have 100 yards and a score in the same game since Lee Evans in 2004. The Bills lined up Watkins all over the field, and Manuel targeted him on short, intermediate and deep routes. In other words, he is not a one-trick pony. He can do everything asked of an elite wide receiver and looks worthy of the trade the Bills made to get him. You’ll want him active against the Chargers next week.
• This week shows why you don’t get too excited about players like Allen Hurns. On the plus side, he did get six more targets this week, so he’s definitely going to be a significant part of the offense. Just understand that this Jacksonville team has a restricted ceiling. Speaking of that, it’s time to sound the alarm bells on Toby Gerhart. He had seven carries for eight yards on Sunday and caught two passes for nine yards. The Jacksonville offense has looked terrible over its last six quarters, and Gerhart has been right at the center of that lackluster effort. You likely won’t be able to deal him for even 50 cents on the dollar at this point. You’re just going to have to hope he turns things around.
• With his performance on Sunday, Niles Paul needs to be on your radar. Cousins went to him early and often, and even though that likely had something to do with the way the Jaguars gameplanned for Garcon, there was noticeable chemistry between the backup quarterback and tight end. Cousins audibled out of a run to a pass on the play that ended with Paul’s touchdown when he saw an opportunity to get the tight end in single coverage. Paul is worth five to 10 percent of your FAAB budget if you’re struggling at tight end.
• Hopefully you didn’t stay away from DeMarco Murray because of the injury concerns heading into this season. He carved up the Titans for 167 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. With Tony Romo and the passing offense looking a little shaky for the second straight game, expect the Cowboys to continue feeding Murray like the workhorse he can be. Dez Bryant showed up on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 103 yards and a score, but Jason Witten and Terrance Williams combined for just six catches for 52 yards. Recall that nearly all of Williams’ production last year was crammed into a four-game stretch in which he did progressively worse, and then faded way in the final third of the season. Outside of Bryant, there may not be a whole lot to like about the Dallas passing game.
• The Titans, meanwhile, didn’t show up in the way many expected -- myself included. Jake Locker went 18-for-34 for 234 yards, 6.9 yards per attempt, one touchdown and two interceptions. Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter combined for five catches for 61 yards. The takeaway here might be that the Dallas defense could be a whole lot better than anyone expected. They gave up just 21 points to the 49ers last week and completely shut down the Titans on Sunday. The only thing they’ve struggled to do is guard tight ends. Delanie Walker burned them for 10 catches, 142 yards and a touchdown. He looks like a top-10 tight end going forward, but this Dallas defense won’t be so easy to pick on this year.
• It had been nearly a calendar year since the Seahawks allowed a 200-yard passer. Philip Rivers nearly reached that total in the first half. By time the Chargers had pulled off their 30-21 win over the Seahawks, Rivers had piled up 284 yards, 7.7 YPA and three touchdowns. All three of those scores went to Gates, who is clearly still the tight end to own in San Diego. He caught all seven of his targets for 96 yards. On the flip side, Ladarius Green had exactly zero targets. Rivers didn’t avoid Richard Sherman, and the Chargers benefited from it, as they were able to move the ball like no one has against the Seahawks in a long time. Keenan Allen had just five catches for 55 yards on six targets. He’s an intriguing buy-low target, but make sure you are getting him at a discount. He was a tad overdrafted this summer, so his disappointing performance might also have an accompanying expectations gap.
• Ryan Mathews had to be carted off the field with a leg injury, and was diagnosed with a sprained MCL. Since Mathews could miss four-to-five weeks, Donald Brown is the waiver-wire add to make. Danny Woodhead also could see an uptick in touches, though he is likely already owned in most leagues.
• It’s pretty easy to quantify just how thoroughly the Chargers dominated this game. They had 42 minutes, 15 seconds of possession, and ran 75 plays to the Seahawks’ 40. All things, considered, Russell Wilson had a huge game with just 40 plays at his disposal. He’s becoming more and more of a regular fantasy option. Don’t put too much stock into the light usage of Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin. However, one thing to note is that, like Cordarrelle Patterson, Harvin is very dependent on big plays. Those typically are not very consistent.
• The only thing redeeming the Raiders is garbage time. After Darren McFadden ran for 37 yards on 12 carries with Maurice Jones-Drew inactive, it’s safe to say that you want nothing to do with this running game. James Jones is worth owning in deep leagues, especially for bye weeks and injuries, and Derek Carr is a backup option in two-quarterback leagues. Other than that, you can safely ignore this team.
• Arian Foster is proving his doubters wrong through two weeks of the 2014 season. He carved up the Raiders for 138 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. It appears fantasy owners can take advantage of the Raiders defense on the ground (see: Foster this week, the Jets last week). On the downside, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the passing game disappointed again. Andre Johnson is still putting up decent numbers, but it would make sense to see if you can sell him now.
• J.J. Watt caught his first career touchdown pass. There’s nothing he can’t do.
• After Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme each caught touchdown passes, Broncos tight ends now have five scores this year. Emmanuel Sanders had eight catches for 108 yards, while Demaryius Thomas got in the end zone for the first time this year. It should go without saying, but you’re still starting all your Broncos at Seattle next week.
• Jamaal Charles suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter, dragging down a number of fantasy teams. There’s no news yet on how severe the injury is, but Knile Davis should be a popular target on waiver wires this week. He filled in admirably for Charles, running for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He’d be a flex play with the Chiefs visiting Miami in Week 3. Travis Kelce got more snaps and, surprise, caught four of his six targets for 81 yards. Expect him to be a fixture of this offense going forward.
• Brian Quick is for real, assuming that “for real” means a solid option as a WR4. He paced the Rams in targets again, catching seven of the nine balls thrown his way for 74 yards. This is a team that is likely going to be trailing a lot this year, and Quick looks like the favored receiver in St. Louis. He should once again be a target on the waiver wire this week.
• Bobby Rainey likely sent Doug Martin owners into fits of depression on Sunday afternoon. He ran for 144 yards on 22 carries, and caught three passes for 30 yards. The Buccaneers are on a short week, so it’s possible Rainey will get the start against the Falcons on Thursday night. He’d be worth a start in most formats if that is the case.
• The Tampa Bay passing game struggled for the second week in a row, with Josh McCown throwing for just 179 yards. Vincent Jackson had four catches for 51 yards, while Mike Evans caught four passes for 49 yards. Jackson is an intriguing buy-low candidate, but like Allen, make sure it is a true discount. This offense could struggle all year because of its line, and that would keep Jackson’s ceiling low. Check in on his price, but be sure to hunt for bargains.
• Few quarterbacks can put up a quiet 346-yard, three-touchdown game. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson looked like the best quarterback-receiver duo in the league on Sunday, with Nelson catching nine of his 16 targets for 209 yards and an 80-yard touchdown. Randall Cobb caught the other two scores, but had just 39 yards and six targets. There’s no question as to who is the top dog in this passing game. Keep an eye on Davante Adams, as well, who had seven targets, catching five of them for 50 yards. Jarrett Boykin had just three targets. This will be one of the more interesting situations to check out in this week’s Target Report.
• Eddie Lacy had just 43 yards on 13 carries, but the important thing is that he made it through the game unscathed. Start him with confidence against the Lions next week.
• When you draft Chris Johnson, you know there will be days like this. He had just 21 yards on 12 carries. Chris Ivory didn’t do much better, running for 43 yards on 13 carries, though he salvaged his day with a touchdown. You’ll likely want to run both of these guys back out against the Bears next week.
• Eric Decker scored his first touchdown in a Jets uniform, but left the game late with a hamstring injury. We’ll have to check back in on this situation later this week, but if he plays against the Bears next week, he will likely be a fantasy starter. This is a Monday night game, though, so it could be one of next week’s headaches. Beyond him, every receiver in the Jets offense is a lottery ticket with even worse odds than the average lottery ticket.
At this point of his career, you’re probably not going to completely eradicate all the bad in Jay Cutler’s play. But when he plays like he did in the final 30 minutes and change of the Bears’ come-from-behind win over the 49ers on Sunday night, you understand why taking the bad is worth it. After the Bears fell behind 17-0, Cutler was masterful, leading a Bears’ offense that was playing with a clearly banged-up Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on a 28-3 run, including the final 21 points of the game. Outside of the touchdowns, the numbers weren’t necessarily gaudy, but Cutler likely silenced a large portion of his doubters.
• Marshall and Jeffery each played their usual share of snaps, but both were visibly hobbled. They weren’t able to challenge the San Francisco secondary the way they usually do, and that rendered the Bears’ offense toothless for most of the first half. It was Marshall’s ridiculous one-handed touchdown catch right at the end of the first half that seemed to spark the offense. He rewarded the owners who chose to roll the dice and wait on him, as he finished with five catches for 48 yards and three scores. With the Bears playing the Jets on Monday night next week, the two receivers could put fantasy owners through the same headaches they dealt with this week. We’ll just have to watch their participation in practice this week.
• Frank Gore ground out another productive game, going for 63 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde had just four carries for a total of zero yards. Gore is an every-week starter. Hyde is a borderline flex play. It will take a major development for this to change.
• Colin Kaepernick had a productive game for his fantasy owners, throwing for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, while adding 66 yards on the ground. The Bears, however, were able to put a ton of pressure on him in the second half, and forced him into a number of poor decisions. Given the matchup, his 17.52-point performance in standard-scoring leagues was a bit of a disappointment.
• And it only makes sense to wrap up this week’s Fast Forward with a final bit of injury news. Vernon Davis left the game late with an ankle injury. Keep an eye on his activity level in practice this week.