News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Week 2 Recap: Russell Wilson, Aaron Jones blow up as NFL injuries pile up

Week 2 of the NFL season is almost in the books, with just one game remaining on Monday Night Football. The action from Sunday's slate has already provided us with enough new information to start considering fantasy football roster management as we head into Week 3.

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So let's dig into Sunday's action with an eye for fantasy implications. I'll hit on snap counts, routes run, goal-line usage, targets and target shares to make sure we're ready to roll as waiver deadlines approach and Week 3 sit/start decisions loom. Consider this a crash course on Week 2. 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill shredded the Jaguars defense, going 18-for-24 for 239 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Tennessee running game didn't fare as well, as Derrick Henry was held under 3.7 yards per attempt for the second straight week. His volume (25 carries) was a disappointment in Week 2 — Henry finished with just 84 rushing yards and two targets resulting in zero catches. If he doesn't find the end zone, he's going to have performances like this where he fails to meet expectations.

The biggest day came from tight end Jonnu Smith, who had two receiving touchdowns and 84 receiving yards on five targets, which ranked No. 2 on the team behind only Adam Humphries (six). As long as A.J. Brown continues to miss time, Smith is a lock as a TE1.

James Robinson is the no-doubt workhorse for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He led the team in carries (16) and was as involved in the passing game as Chris Thompson — both backs saw four targets. The rookie running back is in a great spot in this week's Thursday night game versus Miami.

For the second straight week, D.J. Chark Jr. was been out-targeted by other Jags wide receivers. He's sen just seven targets over the first two games but did lead the team in receiving yards in Week 2 (84).

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The matchup was great for the Buccaneers’ running backs, and the position delivered for Tampa Bay. Only it was Leonard Fournette and not Ronald Jones who led the running backs in total touches (16 vs. nine). Fournette also posted the better fantasy numbers (27.6 vs. 10.7) on the back of a 46-yard touchdown as the Buccaneers were running the clock out at the end of the game. 

Jones appeared to misplay a handoff from Tom Brady early in the second quarter. After that point, he only saw five touches (three carries, two catches, 25% snap share) vs. Fournette’s 11 touches (eight carries, three catches, 55% snap share). Even before the mishap, Fournette came out as the lead back in the second quarter with three carries.

This backfield is sure shaping up to be the Spiderman meme of New England Patriots’ backfields of yesteryear when you also consider LeSean McCoy was the primary pass-catcher with five receptions on seven targets.

Christian McCaffrey was also banged up in this game and backup Mike Davis turned out a solid effort in his place. The veteran caught eight passes on eight targets despite playing under 35% of the snaps and running just 16 routes.

If anything, it's just encouraging that Teddy Bridgewater was so willing to target the running back position, but it also shows us that should CMC miss any time, Davis would be more than a usable fantasy asset. He will be on the waiver wire radar ahead of Week 3.

Robby Anderson has now gone back-to-back games with 100-plus receiving yards, averaging nine targets per game and earning weekly starter status.

New York Giants @ Chicago Bears

On a Sunday filled with injuries, but none was more fantasy relevant than the news of Saqoun Barkley tearing his ACL. He's going to miss the rest of the 2020 season. Dion Lewis will operate as the primary running back in his place.

Lewis finished Week 2 with 14 total touches (10 carries, four catches) but played 100% of the snaps once Barkley was removed from the game. He also ranked second on the team in routes run and led all running backs in touches. Wayne Gallman was inactive, but I fully expect Lewis to be in the 15-20 touch per game range from this point forward. He'll be the top priority to add off the waiver wire for Week 3.

Wide receiver Darius Slayton did not flash in this game (three catches for 33 yards), but he still led the wide receivers in targets (six) and led all players in routes run, so there will be better days ahead. If Sterling Shepard misses any time, the history of Slayton producing when other Giants’ wide receivers are hurt is a solid bet. Consider Slayton a great buy-low candidate heading into Week 3.

David Montgomery has now outproduced Tarik Cohen for two straight weeks as a pass-catcher. He ran more routes in Week 2 and went 3-for-3 on his targets, converting his opportunities into 45 yards and one score. Montgomery is also seeing 15-plus carries per game; his usage as a true bell-cow is being undersold.

Fantasy owners should be foaming out the mouth to play him against the Atlanta Falcons next week — every game they play projects to hit the over. For that same reason, you should also be targeting Allen Robinson II as a buy-low candidate after he put up a 3-33-0 line on nine targets on Sunday. 

Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sep 20, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) returns a punt against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If there was any doubt whether or not James Conner would remain the bell cow for the Steelers offense, they've been firmly put to rest. He operated as the primary back in Week 2 (16 carries, two catches), while Week 2’s hot waiver wire pick-up Benny Snell Jr. amassed just four touches.

Diontae Johnson also followed up his 10-target performance from Week 1 with 13 targets in Week 2, but this time he found the end zone. He is a weekly starter going forward.

Rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool continues to impress after earning an 89.9 PFF receiving grade over the past two weeks. He caught an 84-yard touchdown in Week 2. His overall snap count and routes run have been behind James Washington, but it’s hard to imagine the Steelers not wanting to get him more involved.

The Broncos made it close against Pittsburgh despite losing Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy at different points during the game. Noah Fant continues to have success with his high target share and Melvin Gordon III operated as the bell cow (21 touches) with Philip Lindsay inactive and Royce Freeman seeing only three carries.

With all of their receiver injuries, it might be overlooked that K.J. Hamler was impressive in his rookie debut. He tied Jeudy with a team-leading seven targets and was heavily featured down the field. His aDOT (16.9) and yards per reception (16.0) were second to only Sutton. Should the veteran miss any extended time with a new injury (knee), Hamler could benefit the most.

It’s been reported that Lock could miss anywhere from two to six weeks. When Jeff Driskel was under center, Hamler saw all seven of his targets.

Los Angeles Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles

Tight end Gerald Everett was banged up entering Week 2. That didn't change his usage from a snap and routes perspective, he did not hinder Tyler Higbee from blowing up for three touchdowns and 54 receiving yards on five targets.

But if I were a Higbee owner, this would be a prime sell-high spot for me. Five targets just isn't enough — and consider that he only ran 16 routes as well. This production is not sustainable. For perspective, Malcolm Brown ran more routes (19) and rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson had just one fewer target (four).

Cam Akers also left the game with an injury. Tto our surprise, the backfield favored Darrell Henderson, who led the way with 12 carries compared to Brown's 11 carries.  Henderson played on 42% of the team’s snaps while Brown played on 54%. Brown was never going to be the long-term answer at the position, and it looks like the Rams are more than happy to get the other guys involved.

After missing Week 1, Miles Sanders was finally able to make his 2020 season debut and did not disappoint. He had 23 total touches, seven targets, a rushing touchdown and compiled over 120 yards from scrimmage. The Bengals are up next, so expect the Eagles’ offense to get right after an 0-2 start.

San Francisco 49ers @ New York Jets

Running back Raheem Mostert has a mild MCL sprain and Jimmy Garoppolo has already been deemed out for the 49ers’ next game, so Nick Mullens will be under center for the start of Week 3 with a banged-up offense.

This is important to note because despite Jordan Reed’s fantastic “hey you remember me” game (seven catches, 50 receiving yards and two touchdowns), almost all of his production came in the first half with Jimmy G under center. In the second half, Kendrick Bourne led all receivers in targets (three) and receiving yards (49).

With Mostert out, Tevin Coleman led the team in carries (14  but was abysmal — he finished with just 12 rushing yards. If Jerick McKinnon is on the waiver wire, you need to go get him. The guy converted a 3rd & 31 with a 55 yard-rush. 

Minnesota Vikings @ Indianapolis Colts

It was a day to forget for the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins, who finished Week 2 with negative fantasy points. This killed the fantasy value of all the Vikings’ receivers — including Adam Thielen, but I wouldn't be too concerned with him long-term, as he still had eight targets.

The Colts featured Jonathan Taylor as their every-down back — he had 28 total touches on 66% of snaps played. He also ran more routes than Nyheim Hines (17 vs. 16), who finished the day with zero carries and just one catch.

Hines is surely going to hit the waiver wire in plenty of leagues, but he is game-flow dependent as a pass-catching back. The Colts were leading for most of this game, so they were not forced to use Hines in any capacity. He could see much more usage against the pass-funnel Jets defense in Week 3.

Parris Campbell also left this game with what looks like a serious injury, which opened up opportunities for tight end Mo-Alie Cox and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman led the team in routes run and snaps played, while Cox surprisingly led the team in receiving yards (111). Both players should be targets off the waiver wire ahead of Week 3.

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones was the highest-scoring player on Sunday (45.6 fantasy points) was despite playing on just 48% of the team’s offensive snaps and seeing just 52% of the team's carries.

Jones did a ton of damage as a receiver — four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown grab. If Davante Adams — who left the game with a hamstring injury — misses more time, expect Jones to be involved as ever as a receiver. His eight targets led the team, and his 14 targets on the season rank second overall on the Packers.

This Lions’ backfield cannot be trusted. Both Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson are switching off as the early-down running back. With neither seeing the majority of goal-line work, it’s impossible to start them with any semblance of confidence.

D’Andre Swift is at least seeing consistent pass-game usage (five targets per game), so he would be the only Lions’ back worth playing when they face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.

Atlanta Falcons @ Dallas Cowboys

Sep 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) runs with the ball after a reception late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It was the offensive shootout we all hoped for. After a slow start from the Dallas Cowboys, it became the fireworks show we were promised. Rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb led the team in receiving yards (106) and tied Amari Cooper with nine targets.

For a second-straight week, Lamb did his damage from the slot — that means he's going to see plenty of action next week. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed the most targets, receptions, yards and passing plays of at least 15 yards to the slot in 2020. 

The other major takeaway from this game is that Dak Prescott has already found his Blake Jarwin replacement. Tight end Dalton Schultz led the team in total targets (10), receptions (nine) and caught Prescott’s lone passing touchdown.

In Week 1, it was Hayden Hurst who was left out of the scoring fest for Atlanta. It was Julio Jones this week. The veteran wide receiver had an awful game, topped off by a huge touchdown drop from a perfectly thrown pass from wide receiver Russell Gage.

A report shortly after the game suggested that Jones was dealing with a hamstring injury, so that could have been a contributing factor to his performance. Either way, when an opportunity opens up to buy low on a player like Jones, you go after it.

A week after Todd Gurley II saw all the carries inside the 10-yard line, he saw zero in Week 2 while also seeing zero targets in the passing game. It’s not great when the RB1 on a team that posts 39 points scores just 6.2 fantasy points.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

A week after Josh Allen posted his first 300-yard game, he did one better the next week, throwing for over 400 yards in Week 2 against the Miami DolphinsFor two straight weeks now, the Bills have averaged 40-plus attempts per game — and that's come against teams they have been winning against. With a more formidable offense in the Los Angeles Rams coming up in Week 3, we might get our first glance at the Bills’ offense in a legitimate shootout.

For the second straight week, running back Myles Gaskin dominated the snaps (64%) over Matt Breida (22%) and Jordan Howard (11%). He was also heavily used as a receiver (six) and was extremely efficient (6.1 yards per attempt).

The Dolphins play the Jaguars on Thursday night in Week 3, and you could do much worse than deploying Gaskin as an RB3 based on his workload the past two weeks.

Washington Football Team @ Arizona Cardinals

After seeing Peyton Barber post poor production on his team-leading 17 carries in Week 1, the Washington Football Team made the smart executive decision to get Antonio Gibson more involved.

The rookie led the team in carries (13) while ranking second in forced missed tackles (five), fourth in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.38) and ninth in yards after contact per attempt (4.1) among running backs with at least 10 carries in Week 2. He also saw the highest snap share (65%) and ran more routes (20) than veteran J.D. McKissic (12).

Tight end Logan Thomas was also heavily featured (nine targets) but only managed to convert four catches for 26 yards. Fear not, Thomas-truthers, as his matchup against the Cleveland Browns should allow him to bounce back. The Browns have allowed over 25 fantasy points per game to tight ends the first two weeks of the 2020 season.

Christian Kirk still looks to be third in the receiving pecking order behind both Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins, but considering the Cardinals are playing a beat-up Lions secondary in Week 3, he could be primed for a bounce-back spot. Kirk is still being used downfield (27.85 aDOT), and Detroit has allowed the highest percentage of deep pass attempts in 2020.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jalen Guyton (not pictured) against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter at SoFi Stadium. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising twist, the Chargers rolled out rookie quarterback Justin Herbert instead of Tyrod Taylor after the veteran reported chest pain before the game. The rookie quarterback played nobly — over 300 passing yards, two total touchdowns — but it was not enough to hold off Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs from escaping with the win in overtime.

It was good to see Austin Ekeler involved more in the passing game (four targets, 55 receiving yards), but it was shocking to see rookie running back Joshua Kelley lead the team with a whopping 23 carries. He was not particularly efficient (1.9 yards per carry, one forced missed tackle). Meanwhile, Ekeler rushed for 6.1 yards per carry and forced 10 missed tackles — but Kelley also got all the goal-line work for a second-straight week.

Head coach Anthony Lynn has stated that Taylor will be the starter upon the veteran’s return, so Ekeler’s targets could easily dip back down, making him a prime sell-high candidate. He'll have a plus matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, but the two matchups after that are going to be tough against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire didn’t see much run as a receiver in Week 1, but this was not the case in Week 2. He ran 23 routes and had five targets, which was significantly higher than any other Kansas City Chiefs running back.

Sammy Watkins left the game with a head injury, but Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson still split snaps at wide receiver in his absence. Don’t go breaking the waiver wire budget to pick up the polarizing Hardman off the.

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans

The Baltimore Ravens’ backfield is going to be a fluid situation every single week. Gus Edwards led the team in carries in Week 2 (10) over both Mark Ingram II (nine) and J.K. Dobbins (two). But from a snap-count perspective, Ingram still led the way (42%).

Edwards only saw significant work when the game was already out of reach, so have confidence that they'll lean more on Ingram with the Chiefs on their schedule next. The last time Ingram played the Chiefs, he rushed for over 100 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries to go along with four receptions.

Will Fuller sustained a hamstring injury in Week 2, which contributed to his goose egg on the day. In his place, Brandin Cooks stepped up as the go-to target for quarterback Deshaun Watson

The player who also stood out was my tight end breakout darling Jordan Akins, who had another solid outing. He compiled seven receptions for 55 yards on seven targets — more importantly, he ranked second on the team in routes run (39) and played a significantly higher snap share (83%) than Darren Fells (40%).

New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks

The Sunday night contest did not disappoint, with both quarterbacks turning out top-four fantasy performances for Week 2. 

Russell Wilson only completed 21 passes, but five went for touchdowns. Rest assured that even on lower volume both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf need to stay in lineups. 

Cam Newton nearly threw for 400 yards and for the second-straight week led the team in carries (11) and rushing yards (47). He also added two rushing touchdowns and was on his way to a third before being stuffed at the goal-line on the final play of the game. 

Damiere Byrd led the Patriots in routes run again, but this time he was targeted in the passing game and turned out six receptions for 72 yards on nine targets. N’Keal Harry led the team with 12 targets and Julian Edelman posted a career-high in receiving yards (179). 

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