Trent Richardson had a rough NFL debut against Philadelphia last Sunday (19 carries, 39 yards), prompting many of us to question what his fantasy ceiling could possibly be in Cleveland. Richardson was the premier back in the 2012 draft class without question, but he's now tied to a not-so-star-studded offense and a sketchy rookie quarterback (Brandon Weeden). It's not the best possible fantasy setup.
Richardson faced Cincinnati on Sunday, and the Bengals didn't seem unusually concerned with him. These were a few of linebacker Rey Maualuga's mid-week comments:
"[Richardson] can run you over, and you can miss a tackle. At the same time, from what we've seen, he didn't do nothing spectacular [in Week 1]. From running screens, missing passes, trying to find a hole when he's running the ball, he just didn't do anything spectacular from what I've seen."
But the rookie brought plenty of spectacular with him to Cincy. Richardson carried 19 times against the Bengals, gaining 109 yards and finding the end zone on a 32-yard score in the second quarter. He added four catches for 36, including this ridiculous 23-yard touchdown reception. Richardson broke four tackles on his second score, with a Maualuga miss included. So presumably Rey was impressed.
The Browns didn't actually get a win this week, but that's hardly a fantasy concern. Richardson was tremendous, and Weeden delivered an unexpectedly clean game (26-for-37, 322 yards, 2 TDs, zero turnovers). Cleveland hosts Buffalo in Week 3, and there's no benching T-Rich in that one.
Before we hit the bullets, here's one more clip from Cincinnati. That's Andrew Hawkins doin' work, after Bengals QB Andy Dalton made a dangerous throw under pressure. Hawkins caught just two passes on Sunday, but he made plenty of noise. You'll recall that he hauled in eight balls for 86 yards in Week 1. Definitely a player of interest.
• No player in the league is able to put a bad half (or game, or season) behind him quite like Eli Manning. After tossing three picks in his first two quarters against Tampa, Eli persevered in the second half, delivering a massive fantasy line. He finished with 510 passing yards and three scores on 51 attempts. The Bucs' defense couldn't do a thing with either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz, as the pair combined for 378 receiving yards on 21 catches.
As we mentioned earlier in the day, Ahmad Bradshaw checked out with a neck issue in the first half and didn't return for New York. He was replaced not by David Wilson (still doghouse'd, had an early drop), but by Andre Brown, who finished with 71 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Bradshaw is headed for a Monday MRI; Brown is an obvious add.
We should note that Tampa put 34 points on the board against the Giants' defense. Michael Coe found his way into yet another highlight, which generally isn't a good thing for a cornerback. Last week, Kevin Ogletree torched him; this week, he was roasted by Vincent Jackson. Bucs running back Doug Martin gained just 66 yards on 20 carries in Week 2, but he crossed the goal line after making a nifty half-speed spin move in the second quarter.
• All this Kevin Kolb kid does is win, I tell ya. Just a steely-eyed assassin, that guy. Kolb's Cardinals pulled off a stunning victory at New England on Sunday, thanks mostly to a stellar defensive effort. Arizona sacked Tom Brady four times, intercepted him once, and forced long field goal attempts. Cards running back Ryan Williams tried to cough up the game with a late fumble, but Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder in the final seconds. Kolb ran for one score and threw for another, connecting again with Andre Roberts. (He only found Larry Fitzgerald once, for four yards).
The biggest fantasy storylines coming out of the Pats loss, of course, are those we touched upon earlier in the day: 1) Aaron Hernandez suffered what's believed to be a high ankle sprain, an injury that's likely to cost him several weeks; 2) Wes Welker clearly played behind Julian Edelman on Sunday. Edelman started ahead of the vet, for reasons that are known only to Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick. Welker eventually drew more targets than Edelman, leading the team in receiving yardage (5 catches for 95), but the inferior wideout was on the field for more snaps.
ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss was on the Welker story all day, and he confirmed after the game that Welker isn't injured. "I feel great," said Wes. Belichick's post-game presser was hilariously uninformative, per the usual.
• I'm sure there are a few Arian Foster owners out there who are irritated by the fact that Ben Tate rushed for a pair of scores on Sunday, but those owners can just shut up. Foster still had 34 touches on the day, he gained 147 yards, and he found the end zone once himself. The Texans simply steamrolled the Jags, piling up 411 net yards to Jacksonville's 117. That's nuts. We should note that jags QB Blaine Gabbert checked out with multiple injuries (toe, hamstring), and he'll require a Monday MRI. Chad Henne went 2-for-2 with 23 yards in Gabbert's absence.
If this Gabbert-Henne stuff actually impacts your fantasy team in any way, there's a decent chance you were already toast.
• Michael Vick had another huge yardage day (371 passing, 34 rushing), while also taking a million hits and giving away the football (two INTs, fumble). Vick passed for a score and ran for another, proving that he's almost Kolb's equal as a dual-threat QB. (Joke. Please don't attack, not for this). Jeremy Maclin aggravated his hip injury in Philly's one-point win, but not before making a house call. If Maclin can't go in Week 3 at Arizona (a clear possibility), look for another nice line from Brent Celek. The Eagles tight end caught eight balls for 157 yards against the Ravens, vaulting over Ed Reed along the way.
While we're talking tight ends: Dennis Pitta had another big day for the Ravens, hauling in eight balls for 65 yards. He was targeted a few times on Baltimore's final failed drive, too. I'm now willing to concede that he's well ahead of my guy Ed Dickson in the Baltimore receiving hierarchy.
One additional Ravens note: My favorite highlight from Week 2 may have been Vonta Leach, after his five-yard rushing TD in the first quarter. Leach scored, spiked the football, then realized that a fracas had broken out on the field. He scurried over the retrieve the keepsake ball — the dude only gets a handful of carries each year — then ran into the melee to battle, ball in his arms.
• Andrew Luck and Christian Ponder had good-not-great days in Indy's narrow home win, with each passing for two TDs. Coby Fleener could have had a useful day, but he dropped a short-and-simple pass that would have gone for a three-yard score. On the game's next play, Luck connected with Dwayne Allen. So it goes. Percy Harvin caught 12 passes for 104 for Minnesota, writing another chapter in what should be a huge PPR campaign. With Austin Collie out again for the Colts, Donnie Avery led the team in receptions and yardage (9 for 111). He could find his way into your waiver plans, based on team needs. The Colts are going to be chucking the ball all year, as their defense isn't really scaring anyone.
• We've covered Reggie Bush's monster day already, so let's just give you the full highlight reel, plus final totals: 26 carries, 172 yards, two TDs, three catches, 25 yards. Brian Hartline also had a nice day (9 for 111), though I wouldn't dare buy it.
For the second week in a row, Darren McFadden couldn't do any damage on the ground. He's now up to 26 carries for 54 yards on the year, doing most of his damage as a receiver. It's a concern, particularly with the Steelers up next. Tight end Brandon Myers had another solid PPR effort for the Raiders, catching a team-high six passes for 86 yards. Not many of you are playing in formats where you'll need to jump on Myers, I realize, but it's worth noting his back-to-back useful lines.
• CJ Spiller had another huge day for the Bills, rushing for 123 yards on just 15 carries, adding three receptions for 47. Sure wish I owned that guy on all my Forte teams; that would make life much simpler. Spiller was simply a blur on Sunday. The first of his two rushing scores was perhaps the easiest touchdown run you'll see all season. Just look at this thing. The sea parted, and Spiller had an unobstructed path to the goal line. Fine effort there, KC.
Peyton Hillis, not Jamaal Charles, led the Chiefs in carries and rushing yards in Week 2 (11 for 66), though his ball security issues resurfaced. Hillis fumbled away a goal line carry on second down, late in the first half. I cannot adequately explain Charles' workload (six carries, three yards), but the guy looked just fine in KC's opener (16 carries, 87 yards). Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe connected for a pair of garbage-time scores on Sunday, piling up numbers after the team trailed 35-3.
• The Saints' defense was of collegiate-quality again, giving up 463 total net yards and 35 points to the Panthers. Last week, they allowed 464 and 40 to Washington. We're gonna see more big numbers against this team, with no end in sight. New Orleans is giving up big plays in the passing game way too often, and they barely have defenders in the camera frame. Check out this long gain by Steve Smith, a receiver who should never find himself so ludicrously wide open. As a public service, here's the upcoming schedule for New Orleans: KC, at GB, SD, bye, at TB, at DEN, PHI, ATL.
Cam Newton had the big day you just knew he'd have, leading Carolina in both passing (253 yards, 12.7 Y/A, TD) and rushing (13 carries, 71 yards, TD). If you started a Panthers running back in Week 2, you walked away happy. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both found the end zone, as did the Kool-Aid Man (Mike Tolbert). Brandon LaFell lived up to the pregame Fantasy Football Live hype, catching six balls for 90 yards and carrying once for 25.
The Saints offense was plenty productive, which everyone expected, but they'll need to be historically great in order to cover for the team's defensive inadequacies. Drew Brees threw for 325 yards and one score (but with an ugly pick-six), Darren Sproles hauled in 13 passes for 128 yards, and Jimmy Graham gave us a 7-71-1 line. Pierre Thomas came up just short of the end zone on an 11-yard run early in the fourth quarter, setting up a Mark Ingram goal line score. PT nonetheless finished with 143 scrimmage yards on 13 touches.
• Tennessee's Chris Johnson was useless again, and this time his fantasy investors didn't get a PPR bailout. Johnson rushed just eight times for 17 yards and caught only two passes for 11. The Titans were shellacked in San Diego, 38-10, so it's not as if the team lit up the scoreboard while CJ didn't participate.
I can't say that Johnson's O-line is giving him all kinds of opportunities — New England's defensive front blew 'em up in Week 1 — but that shouldn't make you feel any better about him. And of course if Tennessee's defense can't keep games competitive, there's not much hope for the ground attack. So there are really no easy answers for CJ owners — and you can't easily sell him now, while his value is at an all-time low.
When you consider the team context and Johnson's pathetic recent output, I'm not sure he'll rank as much more than a flex in Week 3. Take a look at his upcoming schedule: DET, at HOU, at MIN, PIT. No way you're considering CJ in the match-ups with Houston and Pittsburgh. I can't very well suggest that you buy-low on Johnson when I'm not interested myself.
I'll give him full credit for playing with a heavy heart on Sunday, but the final numbers didn't help us. When Javon Ringer (elbow) gets healthy, that backfield might just get complicated.
One more Titans takeaway: That team has now allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends over just two games, including three by Dante Rosario on Sunday. Rosario is essentially the backup to the backup for San Diego, a guy who took full advantage of Antonio Gates' absence. Tennessee will face Brandon Pettigrew next week (and Tony Scheffler), then Owen Daniels, then Kyle Rudolph.
• Another week, another excellent fantasy line for Robert Griffin III. This time it was in a losing effort, but RGIII shouldn't shoulder much of the blame. (That would be reserved for Josh Morgan, who drew a killer unsportsmanlike penalty at an unbelievably bad time. Somehow I don't think Mike Shanahan is gonna forgive that blunder. But let's get back to RGIII...)
Griffin made a vicious move on an option keeper for the first rushing TD of his NFL career, a five-yarder in the first quarter at St. Louis, and he scored his second thanks to a defensive alignment that will never, ever stop him. Highlight here. He also showed off the well-documented arm strength on a 68-yard deep ball to Leonard Hankerson. Alfred Morris again led the 'Skins in rushing with 16 carries for 89 yards (against a notoriously poor Rams run D), but RGIII wasn't far behind (11 carries, 82 yards). I'll still take Griffin to lead Washington in rushing yards for the season; you can have all the backs.
• I've inadvertently buried the real story in the Rams 31-28 win over Washington, so I apologize to St. Louis fans. Sam Bradford passed for 310 yards and three scores, connecting 15 times with Danny Amendola in Week 2. If you started Amendola in a PPR league this week, feel free to gloat in comments. In the first half, Washington treated him as if his name didn't appear on the scouting report. Steven Jackson was sidelined for most of the game, for what sure seemed like disciplinary reasons at the time, after he drew an unsportsmanlike flag. But following the game, the Rams indicated that he was dealing with a groin issue. This from the AP:
Steven Jackson sat out most of the last three quarters after drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spiking the ball, but coach Jeff Fisher said it was because Jackson had a groin strain and not because he'd lost his cool.
''It had nothing to do with the spike,'' Fisher said. ''His groin was real tight and we just didn't want to subject him to it. I didn't think he'd be 100 percent.''
Jackson said he thought he'd be able to re-enter the game but said the groin tightened on him.
Fantasy owners were prepared to complain about Fisher this week, but not to fret about Jackson's groin. So this is no good. We'll obviously have to track this situation throughout the week. Rookie Daryl Richardson (not rookie Isaiah Pead) had a big day in relief of S-Jax, gaining 102 total yards on 17 touches.
• Ben Roethlisberger went 24-for-31 against the Jets, connecting with 10 different receivers for 275 yards and two scores. Mike Wallace made a silly catch on this 37-yard third quarter touchdown...
...twisting his right foot at an unnatural angle in order to land in-bounds.
The Steelers ground game was the subject of much conversation entering the week, but neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Isaac Redman were notably great. They each had 12 carries for not-many yards — 28 for Dwyer, 25 for Redman — with Ike getting a late touchdown.
The Jets offense was silenced by Pittsburgh's D, gaining just 219 total yards and producing only 10 points. Mark Sanchez went 10-for-27, which is obviously brutal; Shonn Greene gained only 23 yards on 11 carries, which is obviously typical.
• Seattle beat the Cowboys to mush on Sunday, in all phases. The Seahawks' defense punished Dallas, keeping all key play-makers relatively quiet, and the offense pounded the 'Boys on the ground. Marshawn Lynch finished with 122 yards and one score on 26 carries. So we're probably done with the hand-wringing over his back spasms.
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 3
QB Matt Cassel, Kansas City (at NO)
QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at WAS)
RB Pierre Thomas, New Orleans (vs. KC)
RB Mikel LeShoure, Detroit (at TEN)
RB Andre Brown, NY Giants (at CAR)
RB Daryl Richardson, St. Louis (at CHI)
RB Kahlil Bell, Chicago (vs. STL)
WR Danny Amendola, St. Louis (at CHI)
WR Brandon LaFell, Carolina (vs. NYG)
WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (at DAL)
WR Donnie Avery, Indianapolis (vs. JAC)
WR Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati (at WAS)
TE Dennis Pitta, Baltimore (vs. NE)
TE Martellus Bennett, NY Giants (at CAR)
TE Tony Scheffler, Detroit (at TEN)
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