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Sunday Scene, Week 2: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates party like it's 2009; everyone else is hurt

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If you started Philip Rivers in fantasy this week, it was almost certainly an act of pure desperation. Or gross negligence — perhaps you forgot to make lineup changes. Rivers and the Chargers were facing the league's unrivaled top defense. As a general rule, fantasy owners avoid the Seattle D like a radioactive spill. Entering Sunday's action, the Seahawks had not allowed a 200-yard passer in any regular season game since October, 2013 — that's 200 yards, not 300.

Seattle is the bear we do not poke.

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And yet Rivers, as of this writing, is the second highest-scoring fantasy quarterback of Week 2. He had an obscene afternoon against the Seahawks, completing 28 of 37 pass attempts for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He directed an offense that won time-of-possession by a silly margin — 42:15 to 17:45 — despite the fact that San Diego had almost no success running the football (2.7 YPC, no rush TDs). As promised, the Chargers weren't petrified to challenge Richard Sherman — Keenan Allen roasted him at least once. Antonio Gates hauled in all three of Rivers' TD passes, with a ridiculous one-hander included. If you're still waiting for the Ladarius Green surge ... well, keep waiting. Gates has conceded nothing.

After last year's revival under Mike McCoy, Rivers had re-entered pretty much everyone's circle of trust. Let's hope you kept him in the circle this week.

We should mention that not everything went perfectly well for San Diego on Sunday, as Ryan Mathews checked out with an early knee injury of as-yet-unknown severity. He was carted to the locker room, which of course is never a good sign. The early word is an MCL sprain. In Mathews' absence, Donald Brown received 10 touches, gaining 31 total yards. He'll presumably see plenty of work next week at Buffalo.

Jamaal Charles suffered an early ankle injury at Denver on Sunday, which brought an abrupt end to Andy Reid's presumed plan to feed him carries and targets. Charles was at least able to walk to the locker room unassisted, but he couldn't return for KC. So we wait for additional word from the team. Second-year back Knile Davis had a day in relief of Charles, carrying 22 times for 79 yards and a pair of scores, catching six passes for 26 on nine targets. I do not even want to consider what Jamaal might have done with 28 touches. [PROFANE]. Davis is a quality back, though not spectacular (and certainly not Charles-like); he'll be a necessary add this week, unless the Monday news on Charles is unexpectedly rosy.

The Saints and Browns offered an exquisite blend of excitement and hilarity on Sunday, complete with a sideline skirmish between Sean Payton and Rob Ryan. So that was a blast. We also caught our first glimpse of Cleveland's highly anticipated Johnny Manziel sub-package, which amounted to very little. Fantasy-wise, the backfields were the key stories in this one. Mark Ingram was great again, carrying 11 times for 83 yards and a TD, catching three passes for 21 yards. He won't see a full featured-back workload while all committee members are healthy, but it's hard not to be impressed by his play to this point. Cleveland again leaned on rookie RBs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, and the pair delivered 122 rushing yards and one score. West took the TD this week, plus he out-carried Crowell, 19 to 11.

Welcome back, Cam (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Welcome back, Cam (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Cam Newton was mostly excellent in his 2014 regular season debut, going 22-for-34 with 281 yards and one TD, adding four carries for 19 yards. Newton was gimpy at times, but he finished. Rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin had multiple drops for the Panthers (eight targets, two catches), yet he also hauled in a fantastic sideline catch. Jonathan Stewart didn't have the most efficient day for Carolina (2.5 YPC), but he managed to break the plane. DeAngelo Williams (thigh) seems like to return in Week 3, so don't get too excited about Stewart's potential against Pittsburgh's user-friendly run D.

Washington's decisive home win over Jacksonville has the look of a pyrrhic victory, as the team lost starting QB Robert Griffin III to a horrible-looking ankle dislocation and DeSean Jackson to a shoulder sprain. Kirk Cousins entered in relief of RG3 and quickly took advantage of a friendly matchup, completing 22 of 33 throws for 250 yards and two scores. One of the passing TDs went to backup tight end Niles Paul, who was filling in for Jordan Reed (hamstring). Paul led Washington in catches and receiving yards (8-99), while drawing 11 targets. It's not uncommon to see JV quarterbacks feed JV receivers, so that's probably a small piece of the Cousins-Paul story. But the real takeaway here is that Paul looked good, like a guy who can have value while Reed is out. Andre Roberts hauled in four of his five targets for Washington, finishing with 57 yards. And of course Alfred Morris did Morris-ish things (22-85-2)

Jacksonville's offense was ... um ... poor. Chad Henne was sacked 10 times and intercepted once. Toby Gerhart saw nine touches and gained 17 yards. No Jaguars skill player finished with more than 75 scrimmage yards. And Allen Hurns limped away with an ankle injury. Not good.

When the early games concluded on Sunday, Bills rookie Sammy Watkins was leading all receivers in Week 2 fantasy scoring. Watkins was targeted on 11 of E.J. Manuel's 26 throws, accounting for 117 of the team's 202 passing yards. He's not exactly tied to the league's most explosive offense, but Sammy is a huge talent. Buffalo is now 2-0, after rolling over the Dolphins. C.J. Spiller delivered 78 scrimmage yards on 13 touches, plus he scored from distance on a 102-yard kick return. So that guy's pretty good, too.

Mike Wallace made another highlight grab for a TD, assisting the fantasy community for a second straight week. You'll clearly earn a profit on your Wallace investment this year if he simply remains healthy. That dude is making difficult short-range catches, with defenders clinging to him. His deep threat ability is obviously well established.

One last Dolphins note: Knowshon Moreno's injury is an elbow dislocation, and he's expected to miss at least four weeks. So that's brutal news, if not actually the worst possible outcome. Lamar Miller gets a value bump.

Here's your weekly Gronk update...

New England committed a zillion penalties on Sunday, Tom Brady passed for only 149 yards and Rob Gronkowski did nothin'. So, naturally, the Pats obliterated Minnesota, 30-7.

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was mauled (six sacks) and he tossed four picks, presumably bringing us a bit closer to the dawn of the Teddy Bridgewater era. Inexplicably, Cordarrelle Patterson didn't receive a carry all afternoon, despite delivering a long-range rushing score in each of his past three games. Matt Asiata did nothing of note on the ground (13-36-0), which wasn't a huge surprise, but he saved his fantasy day with five catches for 48 yards and a score on seven targets. Hyper-athletic rookie back Jerick McKinnon made a cameo appearance, finishing with four touches for 12 yards.

Eddie Lacy couldn't make much of a dent in one of the league's best run defenses (13-43-0), but the rest of Green Bay's offense feasted on the Jets. Aaron Rodgers passed for 346 and three scores, Jordy Nelson caught nine balls for 209 and a score, and Randall Cobb caught a pair of TDs. Rookie Davante Adams caught five balls for 50 yards on seven targets (and one near-TD), appearing to leapfrog Jarrett Boykin in the receiving hierarchy.

Geno Smith didn't quite deliver a passing clinic for New York, completing just 16 of 32 attempts for 176 yards, but he ran for one TD and threw for another. (A third touchdown was wiped out by a rogue sideline timeout. Whoops.) The Jets host Chicago on Monday night. No need to be afraid of that matchup, obviously.

Have to admit, I caught very little of the Rams-Bucs tilt, except for the play where a pass hit Brian Quick in the head and bounced away. (And also the Mike Evans-related 10-second runoff at the end. Brutal.) Greg Zuerlein handled most of the scoring for St. Louis (four field goals) and Zac Stacy broke the plane in the first quarter. Bobby Rainey had a productive, high-volume day filling in for Doug Martin, rushing 22 times for 144 yards (6.5 YPC) and catching all three of his targets for 30 yards. Josh McCown poached a pair of short-range rushing scores, which is probably not sitting well with Rainey owners. Still, you can't complain too loudly about 174 scrimmage yards.

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Gio Bernard, steamrolling the Falcons (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
Gio Bernard, steamrolling the Falcons (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill combined for a whopping 265 scrimmage yards for Cincinnati, and both backs found the end-zone. Bernard finished with 32 touches and Hill 17 — not such a bad winning formula. Atlanta's defense was lousy against the run last season, and they've already allowed 309 rushing yards in 2014. A.J. Green tapped out early with a toe/foot injury, but the team has suggested he won't miss significant time. Of course if this is a turf toe injury, Green might return as something less than his usual dominant self.

DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker accounted for something like 92 percent of all the yards in the Dallas-Tennessee game, which did not go quite as planned for those of us who streamed Jake Locker. Walker caught 10 balls on 14 looks, finishing with 142 and one score. Locker was thisclose to a second TD on multiple throws, but ... well, I won't waste your time with a fantasy loser's lament.

Can we all agree that DeMarco Murray is kind of a bad dude? He ran for 167 yards and one TD on 29 carries, and his O-line occasionally moved the Titans' defensive front out of the camera frame. If you didn't have him on the un-benchable list before, it's probably time.

Arizona started Drew Stanton at quarterback on Sunday in place of the injured Carson Palmer, and not much was required of the backup versus the Giants. Stanton attempted just 29 passes, finishing with 167 yards and no scores ... and that was enough. Four field goals, a special teams score and 101 yards from Andre Ellington did the trick. Eli Manning out-played his wideouts, as both Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle had notable drops. Rashad Jennings had a no-contact, slip-and-fall fumble that you don't often see in the NFL. Not the best day for Big Blue. That team's skill players have appeared jarringly unskilled. (Not you, Larry Donnell. The other guys.)


QB Kirk Cousins, Was (at Phi)
RB Donald Brown, SD (at Buf)
RB Matt Asiata, Min (at NO)
RB Jeremy Hill, Cin (vs. Ten)
RB Knile Davis, KC (at Mia)
RB Bobby Rainey, TB (at Atl)
WR Andrew Hawkins, Cle (vs. Bal)
WR Andre Roberts, Was (at Phi)
WR Mohamed Sanu, Cin (vs. Ten)
WR Davante Adams, GB (at Det)
TE Travis Kelce, KC (at Mia)
TE Niles Paul, Was (at Phi)
TE Larry Donnell, NYG (vs. Hou)
TE Delanie Walker, Ten (at Cin)
DEF New Orleans (vs. Min)