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Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Two weeks is just a snippet of the NFL season, so forming strong opinions with such a small sample size on players can be dangerous. However, when a player follows up a strong finish to 2017 with an impressive start in 2018, it’s hard not to take notice.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was a revelation for the Pittsburgh Steelers over their final nine games of 2017. He provided the team with a quality No. 2 WR to pair with Antonio Brown. He’s been busy and productive over the first two games of this season. If that continues, the Steelers may have a pair of top-15 fantasy wide receivers.
The Philadelphia Eagles are far from 100 percent on offense, especially at wide receiver, so Nelson Agholor has been a featured option in the first two weeks. After playing more of a secondary role last season, Agholor has been able to handle an increased role in Alshon Jeffery’s absence. He should only get a boost from the return of Carson Wentz.
The B.S. Meter breaks down 10 situations covering the most pressing issues in fantasy football heading into Week 3. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being completely true and 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
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Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
For the second straight season, the Carolina Panthers will be without Greg Olsen for an undetermined amount of time after he refractured the foot that put him down in 2017. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Olsen hopes to return in four to five weeks with the idea he can put off surgery until after the season.
Olsen’s absence thrust Christian McCaffrey into an even busier role in the passing game than the one he usually plays. McCaffrey finished Week 2 with career highs in targets (15), receptions (14) and receiving yards (102) in addition to eight carries for 37 yards. He was a top-five fantasy running back for the week with 27.9 fantasy points.
After McCaffrey, the Panthers gave Devin Funchess nine targets (seven receptions, 77 yards) and seven each to Jarius Wright (five receptions, 62 yards, one TD) and Torrey Smith (three receptions, 33 yards, 1 TD). The Panthers trailed by as much as 14 early in the third quarter, so they had more of a need to throw, and Cam Newton completed 32 of 45 passes for 335 yards with three TDs and an INT.
In the nine games Olsen missed in 2017, McCaffrey had 70 targets with 53 receptions for 394 receiving yards and four TDs. That comes out to an average of 7.8 targets, 5.9 receptions and 43.8 receiving yards per game. If you just take the receiving production from those nine games, McCaffrey averaged 12.9 fantasy points per game. That alone would be strong enough to call him a top RB2 without even considering his rushing production.
Through two games, rookie wide receiver DJ Moore’s only reception on two targets was a 51-yard TD in Week 2. While it’s possible his role increases, the Panthers should keep feeding McCaffrey as the top target in Olsen’s absence. Don’t assume Olsen will return in that optimistic timetable, and if he does, it doesn’t mean he’ll be effective.
B.S. Meter on McCaffrey being the biggest beneficiary of Olsen’s absence: 1/10
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Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Much of the attention surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers has been about the lingering absence of Le’Veon Bell and a winless start to the season. If you’re looking for a positive, take a look what JuJu Smith-Schuster has produced in the first two games.
After catching five of eight targets for 119 yards in the opening week tie with the Cleveland Browns, Smith-Schuster raised the bar with 13 receptions for 121 yards and a TD on 19 targets in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Over than same span, Antonio Brown has 18 receptions for 160 yards and a TD on 33 targets. No other Steeler has more than 11 targets.
Smith-Schuster’s hot start shouldn’t come as a surprise. When thrust into a larger role over the final nine games of last season, he was the No. 14 fantasy wide receiver with 133.6 fantasy points in seven appearances. Of the wide receivers who played at least five games during that span, Smith-Schuster was fifth with 19.1 fantasy points per game.
If you’re wondering if Brown and Smith-Schuster can both be top-15 fantasy wide receivers, the answer is yes. During that same nine-game stretch last season, Brown was fifth in total fantasy points (163.8) and first in fantasy points per game (23.4) in seven games.
While the absence of Bell looms large, last year’s numbers prove that even if he’s playing, both Brown and Smith-Schuster can be must-start fantasy options. There’s enough to go around in the Steelers offense to support a pair of top-flight fantasy wide receivers.
B.S. Meter on the Steelers having two top-15 fantasy wide receivers: 2/10
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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Atlanta Falcons have a talented yet somewhat crowded backfield that makes it hard to expect consistently strong performances from Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The presence of both players is usually good for the Falcons, but it can be frustrating to fantasy players who have Freeman or Coleman in the starting lineup.
Coleman had almost no competition for touches in Week 2, as Freeman was sidelined by a knee injury. With Freeman down, Coleman handled 65.1 percent of the snaps with 16 carries for 107 yards and four receptions for 18 yards on four targets to finish with 16.5 fantasy points in a win over the Carolina Panthers. Behind Coleman was Ito Smith, who rushed nine times for 46 yards and added a reception for eight yards on his only target while playing 28.6 percent of the snaps.
That won’t be the last time Coleman leads the Falcons backfield. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Freeman’s knee contusion will keep him out for up to three weeks. When asked about Freeman’s return, head coach Dan Quinn said he was unsure of the timetable, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
In 2017, Freeman was sidelined for two games with a concussion, so Coleman had to lead the way and did so with good results. He carried 39 times for 140 yards and three TDs and caught one of two targets for 15 yards.
Coleman has always had value independent of being a just a handcuff to Freeman, but when he’s the lead back, it’s fair to have the same expectations you’d have for Freeman. Consider Coleman to be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 until Freeman returns.
B.S. Meter on Coleman being a top-12 fantasy back until Freeman returns: 3/10
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When the Philadelphia Eagles opened their championship defense, it was clear they wouldn’t be fielding their best possible roster.
The biggest absence was that of Carson Wentz, which wasn’t a surprise, as his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in Week 14 of 2017 was not complete. In addition to Wentz, the team would enter the season without Alshon Jeffery. He had offseason shoulder surgery and never came close to going through normal practice in the preseason.
Wentz’s absence has been a little easier to handle with Nick Foles remaining in Philadelphia instead of being shipped away to a quarterback-needy team. The Eagles didn’t have a replacement for Jeffery, so Nelson Agholor was tabbed for a bigger role.
In Week 1, Agholor was tied with Zach Ertz for a team-high 10 targets, and while he caught eight of them, the result was just 33 yards. He had another busy game in Week 2, but this time, he was much more productive. His 12 targets were second only to Ertz’s 13, but it was Agholor who found the end zone during his eight-catch, 88-yard performance in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, head coach Doug Pederson said Jeffery remains “week to week,” which shouldn’t come as a surprise, although it cuts into the team’s depth at wide receiver. Pederson also announced Mike Wallace fractured his fibula in Week 2, but a decision about putting him on the injured reserve hasn’t been made.
In 2017, Agholor finished as the No. 22 fantasy wide receiver with 193.5 fantasy points and 12.1 fantasy points per game. That put him just two spots behind Jeffery, who was No. 20 with 195.9 fantasy points at 12.2 fantasy points per game. That’s nearly identical production, so Agholor finishing ahead of Jeffery this season wouldn’t be much of a stretch, even in fantasy points per game.
The return of Wentz in Week 3 is great news for the Eagles offense, even if he needs a week or two to shake off the rust. Agholor should remain a top target in the offense and has a higher ceiling with Wentz back at the helm.
B.S. Meter on Agholor being the best fantasy wide receiver in Philadelphia: 3/10
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Last week, this article covered early panic for Alex Collins following a quiet performance in Week 1. This week, fantasy players with Collins on the roster are worried about the presence of Javorius Allen.
During the Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens were down 21-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter. Baltimore never got closer than 28-23 with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. As a result, the Ravens had to throw more playing from behind, which meant more of Allen and less of Collins.
After playing 37.5 percent of the snaps in Week 1, Allen’s share jumped to 49.4 percent in Week 2 while he caught five of seven targets for 36 yards and rushed six times for eight yards and a TD. It was the second week in a row he stole a TD from Collins near the goal line. He has five receptions and at least six targets in each of the first two games. Even though he hasn’t been impressive as a runner, he turned his only two carries inside the 10 into TDs.
Playing catch-up didn’t help Collins’ fantasy production. He carried just nine times for 35 yards and caught three of four targets for 55 yards while playing 49.4 percent of the snaps. That’s a rise from the 33.8 percent he had in Week 1, but it still put him dead even with Allen for Week 2. He was unable to convert his only carry inside the 10 into a score.
While Collins was more efficient and productive than Allen as a receiver, the Ravens insist on going to Allen more when they trail. This may not be a regular occurrence because the team has a solid defense, but it is something to acknowledge, even if it’s a poor coaching decision. Hopefully, the Ravens realize the error of their ways when it comes to using Allen over Collins, but we can’t assume that will change. That does hurt Collins’ fantasy value.
B.S. Meter on the presence of Allen keeping Collins from RB2 numbers: 5/10
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For most of the preseason, David Johnson was a top-five consensus pick along with Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. Before any of the issues with Bell’s contract or Elliott’s offensive line injuries, it wasn’t as easy to find faults in these players. However, of the four, Johnson appeared to be on the worst team with the biggest offensive line problem. Through two weeks, those negatives have been glaring.
In Week 1, the Arizona Cardinals trailed the Washington Redskins 21-0 at the half and never made it closer than the 24-6 final score when Johnson scored a garbage-time TD with 5:47 left in the game. Johnson had just nine carries for 37 yards in addition to the TD, but he was busy as a receiver with five catches for 30 yards on nine targets. In a blowout, he still posted 17.7 fantasy points, so even though it took a while, he had a solid performance.
Week 2 didn’t go anywhere near as well for Johnson. The Cardinals didn’t put up much of a fight in a 34-0 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles. Much like the week prior, they escaped the first quarter with a scoreless tie only to trail 19-0 by the half. Johnson had more carries (13) but only a little more production (48 rushing yards). Obviously, the Cardinals would be smart enough to feature Johnson in the passing game, right?
They did not.
Somehow, Johnson had just one reception for three yards on two targets. You expect Larry Fitzgerald to be involved (five targets), but when Ricky Seals-Jones (six targets), Christian Kirk (five targets), Chase Edmonds (five targets) and Chad Williams (three targets) all have bigger roles as receivers, you can understand why the Cardinals are so bad.
According to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com, head coach Steve Wilks said Johnson “will be utilized more” in the slot to get him “into space.” Wilks said the team has to be more creative when it comes to getting Johnson the ball. It’s nice to hear Wilks acknowledge the need to get Johnson more involved, so let’s hope the team follows up on those words.
Buying low on Johnson isn’t a bad idea, but just know you shouldn’t have to pay up for a great player on one of the worst teams in the league. If Johnson can play an active role in the passing game on a team with a bad defense, he should make up for a lack of carries if the team continues to play from behind all the time. You can’t label him a bust, but you can see why it might be frustrating to own him this season.
B.S. Meter on Johnson already being a bust: 6/10
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Gary Landers/Associated Press
Joe Mixon had to check in and out of the Week 2 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens due to an ongoing knee injury. He was limited to just 51.3 percent of the snaps but still carried 21 times for 84 yards and added a reception for three yards on his only target. While his 22 touches matched his Week 1 total, his yards dipped from 149 to 87. The snap percentage was also down from 78.6 in the opener.
We would learn Mixon needed arthroscopic surgery for his knee issue, which will keep him out two to four weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That means the Cincinnati Bengals will turn to Giovani Bernard to lead the way in Mixon’s absence.
Last season, Mixon was out for Weeks 14 and 15 and saw just six snaps in Week 16. Over that span, Bernard racked up 208 yards and two TDs on 48 carries in addition to 16 receptions for 133 yards on 20 targets. He was the No. 6 fantasy running back during that three-week period with 62.1 fantasy points (20.7 fantasy points per game).
While Bernard might not be the same player he was before tearing his ACL in 2016, he’s more than capable of handling the majority of the workload in Mixon’s absence. At the bare minimum, Bernard should be a top-20 fantasy back.
B.S. Meter on Bernard being a major step down from Mix: 7/10
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It was hard to get a grasp for Quincy Enunwa’s 2018 role with the New York Jets after he missed all of the 2017 season with a neck injury. In his absence, Robby Anderson emerged as the top fantasy option in the Jets receiving corps while Jermaine Kearse had a career year to provide another solid fantasy producer on a team that wasn’t expect to do much.
Enunwa played just once in the preseason, so when he took the field for Week 1, it was hard to know how big of a role he’d play. While he was on the field for just 66.7 percent of the snaps, Enunwa led the team with 10 targets, six receptions, 63 yards and a TD en route to 18.3 fantasy points. He followed that up with seven receptions for 92 yards on 11 targets in 80 percent of the snaps in Week 2.
Through two games, Enunwa’s 21 targets lead the next-closest Jet by 10, and he paces the team in receptions (13) and yards (155). That gives him 34.5 fantasy points over the first two weeks.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold said of Enunwa after Week 1: “He’s smooth but he is also physical. He is very sudden, a very quick dude. It’s awesome to be able to throw to him. The routes he runs are very crisp, but very violent. It’s cool to be able to… see how much separation he creates for himself.”
Darnold will have his bumps in the road, but it already looks like Enunwa will be his go-to guy all season. As the targets continue to pile up, so will Enunwa’s fantasy value. He’s an excellent WR3 and will remain a consistent fantasy producer.
B.S. Meter on Enunwa struggling to keep up consistent production: 8/10
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Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
As we all expected, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the league’s leading passer with 819 yards after two weeks. He posted 42.3 fantasy points in Week 1 and then quieted the doubters, including yours truly, with nearly 30 fantasy points in Week 2. Let’s not forget he did this in New Orleans against the Saints and against a very good Philadelphia Eagles defense, so the competition hasn’t been weak.
Before Week 1, the B.S. Meter covered why Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be a downgrade from the suspended Jameis Winston, but that was admittedly more about the fantasy value of Mike Evans remaining the same. In addition to Evans producing at a high level (17 receptions, 230 yards, two TDs), DeSean Jackson is lighting it up (nine receptions, 275 yards, three TDs), and Chris Godwin is making his presence known with eight receptions for 97 yards and a pair of TDs.
There’s no doubt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are loaded with talent in their receiving corps, especially if you include tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Why would the Buccaneers automatically go back to Winston when Fitzpatrick is playing at such a high level? Winston’s off-field issues certainly haven’t earned him the benefit of the doubt.
What may be lost in this conversation is a coaching staff that might be trying to preserve its employment, specifically head coach Dirk Koetter. It makes a lot more sense to stick with what and who is working if it means more notches on the win column. Opening the season with the Saints, Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers seemed daunting regardless of the QB, so a 2-0 start with a home game against the Steelers coming in Week 3 to go undefeated is a surprising but real possibility.
Considering Peyton Barber has just 91 yards on 35 carries in the first two games, Tampa Bay needs to get everything it can out of its passing attack. If Fitzpatrick is getting the job done, the Buccaneers should stick with him, and if they do, Fitzpatrick will have more than just streaming value.
B.S. Meter on Fitzpatrick going back to the bench in Week 4: 9/10
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As a rookie, Kenny Golladay generated lots of preseason buzz and followed that up with four receptions for 69 yards and a pair of TDs in the 2017 regular-season opener. Golladay wouldn’t score again until Week 17, which was also the only time he topped 69 yards. He never had more than four receptions in any game and only hit that mark three times. It’s safe to say his 2017 Week 1 performance set the bar too high.
The Golladay buzz picked up again coming into this preseason, and once again he had a strong Week 1 debut with seven receptions for 114 yards on 12 targets. In the same game, Golden Tate caught seven of 15 targets for 79 yards and a TD while Marvin Jones caught four of eight targets for 54 yards and missed multiple chances to score.
Now, how would Golladay follow it up?
Unlike Week 2 of last year, Golladay didn’t disappoint when the Detroit Lions traveled to San Francisco for their second game of this season with the 49ers. He took advantage of a beatable matchup by turning nine targets into six receptions for 89 yards and a 30-yard TD. It was still a busy day for Tate with seven receptions for 109 yards on 13 targets and a productive outing for Jones, who once again had four receptions for 54 yards on nine targets but was able to find the end zone.
While Tate has been busy, Golladay has more targets (21-17), receptions (13-8) and yards (203-108) than Jones. In his first two games, Golladay has been on the field for 136 of 144 snaps, while Jones played 139 of 144 snaps, including every snap in Week 2. At the very least, Golladay should challenge Jones for the No. 2 role all season, although all three could remain involved and productive if the Lions can’t figure out how to establish their rushing attack.
Golladay’s time as a fantasy tease is over. He is the real deal.
B.S. Meter on Golladay still being a fantasy tease: 10/10