Fantasy Football Fast Forward: Crazy finishes highlight Week 2
Why do we love the NFL? The 15-minute window from about 4:10 p.m. ET until 4:25 p.m. on Sunday was a pretty good illustration.
Here's a look at a large chunk of the league-wide scoreboard when that window first opened:
Minnesota 30, Chicago 24
Carolina 23, Buffalo 17
Philadelphia 30, San Diego 30
Tennessee 24, Houston 16
By time it closed and those four games were over, the scoreboard looked like this:
Chicago 31, Minnesota 30
Buffalo 24, Carolina 23
San Diego 33, Philadelphia 30
Houston 30, Tennessee 24
That's right, all four of these games swung late. Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett hooked up for the game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left in the game. EJ Manuel and Stevie Johnson did them eight seconds better, connecting on a 2-yard score with two seconds remaining. After Alex Henery tied the Eagles-Chargers game with a 32-yard field goal with 1:51 left, Philip Rivers drove the Chargers down the field and Nick Novak drilled a 46-yarder to win it.
The craziest finish of all occurred in Houston, where Arian Foster scored on a one-yard plunge, then tied it with a two-point conversion with 1:53 left on the clock. After Houston forced a quick three-and-out, Matt Schaub and the offense set up new kicker Randy Bullock with a 50-yard field goal attempt. First, Mike Munchak iced what would have been a successful kick, then Tennessee went offsides to make it a 45-yard try. Munchak used another timeout, this time icing what would have been a miss. When Bullock finally got off a kick that counted, it hit the left upright. Houston's first drive of overtime turned into the DeAndre Hopkins show, and with Andre Johnson on the bench with a potential concussion, the rookie from Clemson scored the game winner from three yards out.
That's three games decided in the final seconds of regulation, two of which needed a touchdown to change the outcome, and a fourth that went into overtime and avoided what would have been the biggest upset of the week. That's why we love the NFL.
Let's get to the rest of the Week 2 news.
As unpredictable as football can be, sometimes we can see a huge performance coming from a mile away. From the moment it was clear the Washington defense could not handle Michael Vick and the Eagles last week, the Packers, Aaron Rodgers and his fantasy owners had to be licking their chops just waiting for this game. Rodgers, of course, did not disappoint.
The Packers stud completed 34-of-42 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns. He got 11.4 yards per attempt. He helped four separate receivers (well, three and a tight end) to huge fantasy days. James Jones caught 11 passes for 178 yards. Randall Cobb had nine receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown. Jordy Nelson only had three catches, but two of them went for six points. Jermichael Finley hauled in six balls for 65 yards and a score.
Rodgers could do no wrong this week. If his owners could lodge a complaint, it was that he was too efficient. Once the Packers built a 31-0 lead, there wasn't any reason for them to keep attacking with the same vigor they showed in the first half.
Speaking of lodging a complaint, I'd like a word with Andy Reid. Now yes, the Chiefs picked up a big win Sunday, beating the Cowboys and moving to 2-0. However, Reid apparently believed Olympic diving judges would determine the winner, because he added a degree of difficulty by not getting the ball to his best player. Jamaal Charles had just four carries in the first half. He had three more in the third quarter. He finished the game with 16 total, but most of those came with the Chiefs trying to salt away the clock. He did catch eight passes, but the box score doesn't tell the full story. These 24 touches did not feel like a true 24 touches because Charles didn't have a chance to get into any rhythm early in the game.
Emotions will doubtlessly be running high for Reid on Thursday, as he goes back to Philadelphia as a visiting coach for the first time. With the short week to prepare, hopefully he has enough time to realize who his best playmaker is.
Ray Rice and Trent Richardson were selected in the first round of pretty much every fantasy football draft this summer. The two met on the field on Sunday, and neither looked like a first rounder. Or a second rounder. Or a third rounder.
Going up against strong defenses, Rice and Richardson both failed to hit double digits in standard scoring leagues. Rice ran for just 36 yards on 13 carries and caught three passes for nine yards. Richardson didn't do much better, carrying the ball 18 times for 58 yards and catching five balls for 21 yards.
Cleveland and Baltimore both feature good defenses, so you shouldn't be trying to move heaven and earth to trade either of these guys. Still, it's disconcerting that they've both done nothing through two games. It was especially troubling to see Bernard Pierce rack up 19 carries and score a 5-yard touchdown. At least Richardson is the only show in town. With Pierce looming, Rice could end up being this year's most prominent first-round bust.
Week 2 observations
• Tom Brady can't do it all by himself. With Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen all out, Brady doesn't have any weapons he actually trusts. We saw what that looks like in that Thursday night snoozefest against the Jets. He's outside of my top 10 at the quarterback position for the rest of the season.
• Playing with decoy Roddy White and a supposedly hobbled Julio Jones, Matt Ryan put up 374 yards and two touchdowns. It was as lethal a performance as we saw on Sunday this side of Aaron Rodgers. The sky's the limit once White is healthy.
• Sam Bradford had a huge day numbers-wise, but it was totally volume-driven. He got just 6.4 YPA and completed 58.1 percent of his passes. You won't be able to count on him throwing 55 passes every week.
• We're only two games into his career, but I feel good saying EJ Manuel is going to make it in this league. He hasn't looked overmatched or out of his element. The game-winning drive he led against Carolina was quite impressive.
• On the flip side of that, Cam Newton fell short of expectations yet again. His ceiling is still as high as they come, but his inefficiency is becoming maddening.
• It was another mixed bag for Jay Cutler, but he came up huge when it mattered, completing 7-of-10 passes for 76 yards and a score on the game-winning drive.
• After a shaky first half, Christian Ponder played really well in the second half, and could have put up even better numbers if Jarius Wright hadn't dropped what would have been a walk-in touchdown. Yes, Minnesota's line gave him all sorts of time in the pocket, but he made big throw after big throw.
• Robert Griffin III is our runaway Garbage Time MVP after the first two weeks of the season. Doesn't mean a thing to fantasy owners. Stats are stats. He did appear able to drive the ball down the field with more authority this week.
• In a week with games that featured Manning vs. Manning, Kaepnernick vs. Wilson, Griffin vs. Rodgers and Henne vs. Pryor (OK, just kidding with that last one), the best dual QB performance came from Philip Rivers and Michael Vick. Rivers threw for 419 yards, 8.3 YPA and three touchdowns. Vick racked up 428 yards, 11.9 YPA, two touchdowns and a rushing score. I'm still not buying Rivers, but Vick will be a star so long as he's healthy.
• When does a 307-yard, two-touchdown performance draw yawns? When you're coming off 462 yards and seven scores. Peyton Manning is the first player in NFL history to throw for at least nine touchdowns with zero interceptions in the first two weeks of the season.
• Eli didn't live up to his end of the brotherly battle, tossing four interceptions in the loss. Whatever. I love him for the rest of the season with those weapons.
• Hey, so the Jets running backs actually cobbled together something useful between the two of them, running for 100 yards on 25 carries. Bilal Powell got the touchdown, and I still say he's the one you want over Chris Ivory.
• Stevan Ridley had just 40 yards on 16 carries. He has been in a tough spot with the passing game not really taking any pressure off him. He's a nice buy-low candidate.
• Steven Jackson caught an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter against his old team, but he had to leave the game with a thigh bruise. No word yet as to the severity of the injury, but I wouldn't necessarily rush out and add Jacquizz Rodgers or Jason Snelling.
• Daryl Richardson had 35 yards on 10 carries. I'm beginning to think he isn't very good.
• C.J. Spiller was back with a vengeance Sunday, racking up 129 yards from scrimmage. The best news for him this season is that EJ Manuel looks like a solid pro.
• I took some heat for ranking Adrian Peterson as my No. 13 running back this week. He ended up running for 100 yards on 26 carries (3.8 yards per carry), caught just one pass for seven yards and lost a fumble. So...
• Matt Forte was a monster Sunday, running for 90 yards on 19 carries and hauling in all 11 of his targets for 71 yards. Get used to days like this.
• I'd be willing to use a decent chunk of my FAAB budget on James Starks. Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion and Starks went on to give Green Bay its first 100-yard rushing game since 2010. He looked explosive in ripping of 6.6 yards per carry.
• Lamar Miller bounced back this week, running for 69 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. This is why we don't jump to conclusions after one week. Daniel Thomas had 30 yards on eight carries. This is not a committee.
• Ahmad Bradshaw had a nice game in his first game virtually alone in the backfield, rushing for 65 yards and a score on 15 carries. He's a top-20 back for the rest of the season.
• Arian Foster had two-thirds of Houston's carries and scored a touchdown. Ben Tate looked like the better runner. Sound familiar? As long as the mix continues to work, don't expect it to change.
• Reggie Bush was on the sidelines for all but two plays in the second half after tweaking his left knee before halftime. Bush was looking like a potential fantasy star this year, and it would be damaging not only to him and his owners, but the entire Detroit offense if he's out for multiple weeks. Joique Bell is a ready-made replacement. Make sure you're ready to go after him on the waiver wire this week.
• How about Rashard Mendenhall rushing for 66 yards on 15 carries against a Lions defense that was able to hold the reigning MVP Adrian Peterson to 15 yards on his 17 carries that weren't the 78-yard touchdown run? In a sneakily good offense, Mendenhall looks like a regular weekly starter.
• Maurice Jones-Drew injured his left ankle in the first half against the Raiders and did not return. We're not sure about the seriousness of the injury, but if he's out for an extended period the Jaguars could lock up the No. 1 pick in next year's draft before Halloween.
• Mark Ingram had eight carries for 20 yards. We're all ready to admit the breakout is never coming, right?
• He was a preseason darling, but I'm not buying Kenbrell Thompkins right now.
• Harry Douglas didn't come up with much, getting just five targets even with Roddy White essentially a non-factor. It was a disappointing showing.
• The EJ Manuel Express is once again making a nice fantasy player out of Stevie Johnson. He had eight catches for 111 yards and the game-winning score, pulling in 80 percent of his targets.
• With Washington down huge all game and forced to throw a lot in the second half, Pierre Garcon put up a monster, hauling in eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. He's a top-15 receiver for the rest of the season.
• Grease, meet squeaky wheel. After complaining about his usage last week, Mike Wallace had 11 balls thrown his way Sunday, catching nine of them for 115 yards and a touchdown. Methinks the Dolphins are still swimming below the radar.
• I wrote off Eddie Royal's big Week 1 as nothing more than the vagaries of the NFL. After he posted seven receptions for 90 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles, I guess I have to reconsider. He should be a waiver-wire target this week.
• DeSean Jackson went nuts again, pulling down nine passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Vick loves throwing to him, evidenced by 15 targets. He's a top-10 receiver the rest of the way.
• Marlon Brown had four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown in his first start. He could be a WR3 before it's all said and done.
• We talked about this a bit in the intro to this column, but DeAndre Hopkins looks like a potential star. He had seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown, and made a few highlight-reel plays. He should be universally owned, and should definitely be started if Andre Johnson is out next week due to a concussion.
• Larry Fitzgerald ended up not doing much after playing through a hamstring injury. You'll want to monitor his practice schedule this week, but he insisted he'll be on the field next week.
• Want to know one more thing that makes Peyton Manning great? He makes sure to get his receivers feeling good about themselves. Eric Decker really struggled in Week 1, so what does Manning do this week? Targets him 13 times. Decker had nine receptions for 87 yards.
• Jimmy Graham: 10 catches, 179 yards, one touchdown. And he was a yard away from another score. That's why you took him when you did.
• Don't be discouraged by Jared Cook's one-catch, 10-yard game. It happens.
• It wasn't the best game of Cam Newton's career, but you wouldn't know that from looking at Greg Olsen's line. He had seven catches for 84 yards and a score. I'm feeling good about my preseason bold prediction that he finishes the season as the No. 2 tight end.
• Martellus Bennett has a real rapport with Jay Cutler in the red zone. The big tight end had seven catches for 76 yards and two scores.
• Antonio Gates had a monster game, hauling in eight receptions for 124 yards. Perhaps his downfall was overstated. I have him just inside the top 10 at the position for the rest of the year.
• Effectively shutting out Jacksonville may not have been the hardest thing to do, but how about the Chiefs holding the Cowboys to 16 points and completely shutting down the run game? It could be a defense with some lasting power in fantasy leagues.
• I got a lot of questions on Sunday morning from owners asking if they should bench Seattle or San Francisco. I understand the thinking, but if you have one of those teams, you're starting them every single week. They both showed why -- especially Seattle -- on Sunday night.
• Cleveland is looking like a good stream defense this year. They shut down the Baltimore run game, sacked Joe Flacco twice, forced one turnover and held the Ravens to 14 points. It's a real challenge to throw on the Browns, as Flacco got just 6.4 YPA.
• Speaking of the defense carousel, the best defenses this year will be teams playing the Jaguars, Browns and Jets. You won't be able to grab Seattle, which plays Jacksonville, off the waiver wire, but the Vikings host the Browns next week.
MORE WEEK 3 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Fantasy football Week 3 player stat projections
SI.COM STAFF: Week 3 composite player rankings
BELLER: Trent Richardson's fantasy value increases with trade to Colts
GONOS: Start 'em or sit 'em -- Trades and injuries alter lineups
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Eddie Royal's hot streak won't last forever
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Best strategy for owners with injured running backs?
McQUADE: Risers and Sliders -- Several top running backs disappointing owners
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Crazy finishes highlight Week 2 of the NFL