For all of Week 1’s antics and illusions, Week 2 brought fantasy football owners some semblance of calm. Sure, there were a few surprises and a couple of the upstarts from last week remain somewhat relevant. But at least Tom Brady is Tom Brady again and Blake Bortles is Blake Bortles.
Just take a look at Week 2’s best performances, and a few of the worst, to see how things are shaking out in the 2017 NFL fantasy football season.
Brady back as top dog
Rumors of the old man’s demise after last week’s tragedy have been laid to rest. Actually, they have been slammed into the bottom drawer of a forgotten desk deep in a hidden sub-basement to the tune of 447 yards and three touchdowns, with a 77% completion rate, no interceptions, and 31 fantasy points. It didn’t even matter that Brady only had one healthy wide receiver by the end of the game and lost Rob Gronkowski in the second half. Anyone who could legally be thrown to had a target and nine different players came down with at least one reception.
The old man on the other side of the field played with only half an offensive line and still managed the fourth-best quarterback fantasy score on the week. Drew Brees hit eight different receivers on the way to 356 yards and two touchdowns.
Two young guns snuck in between them. Carson Wentz was one of seven quarterbacks to pass for over 300 yards this week. 55 yards rushing capped off his #2 NFL fantasy quarterback finish. He was a Hail Mary away from challenging Brady for the top spot.
Meanwhile, Denver’s Trevor Siemian overcame two turnovers by throwing four touchdowns to compile the third-best score of the week. Denver fans are starting to believe in Siemian.
Bounce-back running backs
Some fantasy owners got exceptional production from the running back spot this week. Especially if they started Denver’s CJ Anderson. Anderson’s 154 total yards and two touchdowns were good for 27.4 standard points.
Todd Gurley of the Rams and Ty Montgomery of the Packers each scored a touchdown on the ground and through the air on their way to 23.6 and 23.0 fantasy points.
Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt, the Redskins’ Chris Thompson, and the Falcons’ Devonta Freeman each ran in two scores to round out six 20-point scorers. In fact, each had 23 points.
Carlos Hyde (124) and Jay Ajayi (122) were the leading rushers for the week. Neither scored a touchdown, though, leaving them ranked tenth and 14th in the running back standings.
The biggest story might have been who was not among the double-digit scorers this week. Jordan Howard (0.7), Bilal Powell (1.2), and Ezekiel Elliott (2.2) were among the lowest tier of fantasy running backs. Howard played hurt. Powell was mostly unused. But Elliott was absolutely bottled up by the Denver defense Sunday. Elliott averaged over 100 yards and a touchdown over the first 17 games of his career before Dallas’ humbling day in Denver.
Wide receivers represented in top five overall
Oakland’s Michael Crabtree grabbed three touchdowns along with 80 yards against the Jets, good for 26 NFL standard fantasy points and the third-best overall score of the week. Owners are beginning to wonder why they picked Amari Cooper two-rounds ahead of where Crabtree was drafted, who has twice as many fantasy points through two weeks on less overall targets and red zone targets.
The Jets’ Jermaine Kearse tried to keep up with his opponent but fell short with 64 yards and two touchdowns, good for second-best among wide receivers. Kearse barely edged Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders (62 yards, two touchdowns) and Arizona’s JJ Nelson (120 yards, one touchdown).
Twelve other receivers managed double-digit NFL fantasy scores this week. One who did not was New England’s Brandin Cooks. In his return to New Orleans, Cooks was only targeted four times by Tom Brady. New England started the game with only three wide receivers. Chris Hogan was limping badly by the end of the first half and Phillip Dorsett was knocked out in the fourth quarter. Cooks still finished with just 4.3 fantasy points on the night.
Tight ends had a day
Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots and the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce finished with over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown to pace the tight ends this week. Dallas’ Jason Witten had another strong game with a touchdown and 97 yards, while Tennessee’s Delanie Walker added a touchdown to his 61 yards, becoming the fourth tight end to finish with double-digit fantasy points.
In LA, Phillip Rivers rediscovered his tight ends, but it was neither Antonio Gates nor Hunter Henry he found first. Blocking tight end Sean McGrath caught a ten-yarder to get things going. Hunter Henry went on to bring in all seven of his targets for 80 yards. Gates had a quieter day with only two catches. But the first set the record for touchdowns by a tight end (112) and the second gave him 900 catches in his career.
Tampa Bay kicked off their season by destroying the Chicago Bears and tallying 19 fantasy D/ST points. They had a sack, four turnovers, and a touchdown in an impressive showing.
The Baltimore Ravens were one of only three defenses to appear in the top-ten rankings last week and this week. The Ravens followed up last week’s third-best finish with a second-best 17 points behind five turnovers.
Denver and Atlanta used defensive touchdowns to tie for third-best with 13 D/ST points. Kansas City and Buffalo finished in the next two slots behind a league-high six sacks each.
Last week’s top D/ST teams were the LA Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars. After Week 1’s impressive 28 points, the Rams were one of six teams to finish with two D/ST points. Meanwhile, the Jaguars gave up 37 points to the Titans and could not accumulate enough stats to avoid a negative (-1) score this week. At least they did not go from first to worst. The Saints (-2) and the Jets (-4) finished in the last two slots.
Kick it on down the road
Kickers are football players, too. Miami’s Cody Parkey (15 points) paced the kickers Sunday, with Matt Bryant (14) and Chris Boswell (14) right behind him.
This week, I did not have to Google many team rosters to verify the spelling of names. That’s my best indicator that things are returning to normal in NFL fantasy football. There are still a few outliers and upstarts to deal with, but we’ll see what Week 3 brings before we complain.
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