By the standards of the modern NFL — it of the torn ACL and fourth career concussion — Week 1 was light on notable injuries. So then it was only fitting that Week 2 made up for it in spades. Ray Rice (hip), Steven Jackson (thigh) and Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) all went down — and that was just on the fantasy team I was facing (seriously). Even more astonishing? I lost, thanks in large part to the departures of Reggie Bush (knee) and Larry Fitzgerald (aggravated hamstring).
Five of the league’s most visible players, all affixed to the sideline before dinner time on the East Coast. Joining them in no particular order were Eddie Lacy (concussion), Andre Johnson (concussion), Malcom Floyd (neck), Brandon Weeden (thumb), Martellus Bennett (shoulder) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder). We’re probably forgetting somebody, but so is life on the Week 2 MASH beat.
The most concerning injury has to be Rice’s, both because of its nature (non-contact) and his injury history (nonexistent). This was a player who never gets hurt going down on a play where he wasn’t even touched. The early prognosis is good. X-rays revealed only a left hip flexor strain, while Rice supposedly won’t even undergo an MRI. That’s very hard to believe, but for now consider Rice questionable for Week 3 against the Texans with a legit shot at suiting up.
The truth, however, is that we’re unlikely to have a good bead on Rice’s status before the Ravens return to practice on Wednesday, and that’s the case for all of these players. What is claimed in Sunday or Monday’s press conference has been known to pull a complete 180 by Thursday or Friday. It’s important to remember that this time of year.
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Like Larry Fitzgerald and teammate Roddy White, Jones was playing hurt Sunday. Unlike Fitzgerald and White, Jones went off, matching a career-high with 11 catches while posting a regular-season best 182 yards. However, the 11-catch, 182-yard day was his second in three games going back to the NFC Championship Game. He scored two touchdowns against the 49ers last January. Sunday? He had to settle for one, an 81-yarder in the first quarter. Even at less than 100 percent, Jones is a top-five receiver, and a top-five physical freak.
We’re not here to talk about the fact that Royal’s touchdown rate is sustainable. That typically, a player doesn’t find the end zone on one out of every two catches. The fact that Royal has scored five times on just 14 targets. That he has four more touchdowns than the Jaguars. That he has as many scores as he did in 2009-2012 (52 games) combined. We’re just here to congratulate a player on his moment in the sun. Is it one that’s going to translate to sustained fantasy value? Almost certainly no. The above numbers should tell you that. But is there any harm in saying “what the hey,” and giving Royal one of your final bench spots for the time being? Absolutely not. Just don’t expect touchdowns six, seven and eight in Week 3.
While it was Aaron Rodgers who truly tore apart the Redskins “defense,” it was Starks who peeled away the final layer of their supposedly good Run D. The Redskins got some credit for ranking fifth against the run last season (95.8 yards per game), but that ignored the fact that they were far more ordinary in yards per carry against (4.22, 17th) and were really only “good” on the ground because they were so, so bad in the air. Rumbling for a career-high 132 yards Sunday, Starks became the first Packers’ runner in 45 games to breach the century mark. It’s a nice achievement, but don’t let it trick you into thinking Starks is going to remain ahead of Eddie Lacy (concussion) once he returns. The definition of a replacement-level talent, Starks entered Sunday averaging 4.0 yards per carry for his career. So don’t get it twisted: He only went off the way he did because of the gaping holes he was running into. Starks did his job against a bad defense, but it’s your job not to blow your entire FAAB budget on a No. 2 runner who doesn’t typically get more than what’s blocked.
1. What part about “don’t hire Mike Shula to call plays in the NFL in the year 2013” was so hard to understand?
2. Will the last Redskins defensive back to get burnt to a crisp turn the light out?
3. Why does Trent Richardson have just five more carries than Fred Jackson through the season’s first two weeks?
Stats of the Week
Aaron Rodgers’ 480 yards passing tied a Packers’ team record — Matt Flynn’s Packers’ team record. A healthy Flynn watched from the bench on Sunday in Oakland as Terrelle Pryor completed 15 passes for 126 yards.
Matt Forte’s 15 receptions are already 34.1 percent of his 2012 total.
Per NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling, Jordy Nelson leads all NFL receivers in touchdowns since the beginning of the 2011 season. Nelson scored twice Sunday.
James Jones caught 11 passes after catching zero in Week 1. Anquan Boldin caught one pass after catching 13 in Week 1.
Frank Gore through two games: 30 carries for 60 yards.
Jay Cutler has been sacked just once through two games. Coming into 2012, Cutler had averaged 2.64 sacks per game during his Bears career.
Jaguars “offensive weapon” Denard Robinson has one yard from scrimmage on three touches through two games.
Jordan Cameron has 14 catches through two games. He had 26 career catches through 22 games coming into 2013.
The Seahawks have outscored their opponents 211-53 over their past seven regular season games.
You might need to read this Gregg Rosenthal tidbit to believe it. Or maybe not if you’ve seen the games.
The Ok Now It’s Time To Panic Award: It’s not like we were encouraged by David Wilson’s Week 1, but anyone who’s been at this game for longer than a minute knows you don’t throw in the towel after one bad week. But after two bad games? You at least have to take notice. Going to such great lengths to protect the football he made it look like an infant in swaddling clothes, Wilson managed just 17 yards on seven carries against the Broncos, notching as many touches as Da’Rel Scott and Brandon Jacobs. Wilson wasn’t targeted in the passing game, and stood on the sideline as both Scott and Jacobs found the end zone. Dropping Wilson is not the answer, but benching him against the Panthers’ stout front seven in Week 3 likely is.
The What The Heck Is Going On With This Two-Time Super Bowl Champion Quarterback Award: Eli Manning has seven interceptions through his first two games (compared to five touchdowns). Over his past 12 regular season contests — back to the start of his infamous 2012 slump — Manning has turned the ball over 18 times while posting a 20:17 TD:INT ratio. The numbers would be far worse if he hadn’t dropped five scores on the checked-out Eagles in Andy Reid’s Philly swan song last Week 17. Has “Elite Eli” peaked? Is the Giants’ talent drain finally starting to show up in their quarterback’s box scores?
The What’s A Word Good For Anyways Award: Speaking on what we presume was the behalf of his boss last month, Bills OC Nathaniel Hackett said they were going to feed C.J. Spiller the ball “until he threw up.” Two regular season games later, Spiller is out-touching Fred Jackson just 42-33. Sound familiar? It’s unlikely Spiller’s usage woes will end up plumbing the depths they did under Chan Gailey, but this is still very much a committee for the time being. Ohh, and the word of Bills coach Doug Marrone to the media? Let’s just say, it’s less than good as gold.
The He’s Still Golden Tate Award: Remember that preseason Golden Tate hype? It’s culminated in five catches for 70 yards through two games. He’s been out-targeted by Doug Baldwin. Tate is a legitimate big-play threat, a true gamebreaker. But he’s never been a consistent one, and thus far, there’s no sign that’s going to change.
The What Can Ponder Do For You Award: In no particular order, the Vikings returned the opening kickoff of Sunday’s game against the Bears for a touchdown, fumble sixed Jay Cutler, forced three more turnovers and … lost.
Most Absurd Moment of Week 2: Aaron Dobson catching a 39-yard touchdown on his first snap … and the proceeding to systematically burn down all the goodwill he built up from the literal perfect way to begin an NFL career.
Least Valuable Player, Non-Henne Division: Greg Little has been targeted 22 times. He’s turned those looks into eight catches, 59 yards and two drops. Josh Gordon’s Sunday return can’t get here soon enough for the Browns. Little can be safely dropped in all formats.
Fantasy All Pro Team: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Matt Forte, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR James Jones, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Julio Jones, TE Martellus Bennett, TE Jordan Cameron
1. Daryl Richardson — Averaging just 3.26 yards through his first 30 carries, D-Rich has re-opened the Rams’ running back competition when he could have slammed the door shut. His FLEX status is growing increasingly shaky.
2. Kenny Britt — Coming off a lost 2012, Britt has just five catches for 43 yards on 11 targets through two games. He just isn’t the same player he was before his injury.
3. Josh Freeman — Trade demand or not, Freeman is looking like a player who’s checked out of Tampa amidst an increasingly public campaign being waged against him by his coach Greg Schiano. Freeman enters Week 3 just 24-of-53 (45.3 percent) for 335 yards, two scores and two picks. He's taken four sacks. They’re Tebow-esque numbers.
1. Lamar Miller — The second-year back found running room one week after there was none, turning in 69 yards and a score on 14 carries. His afternoon could have been bigger had the Dolphins not continued to insist on mixing in Fumblin’ Daniel Thomas. You can begin to breathe easier if you used a mid-round pick on Miller.
2. DeSean Jackson — Coming off two (or is it three?) maddeningly inconsistent seasons under former coach Andy Reid, D-Jax looks like a player reborn under Chip Kelly, whipping opposing DBs for 16 catches, 297 yards and two touchdowns. The back-to-back 100-yard efforts come after Jackson had just two 100-yard days in each of 2011 and 2012.
3. T.Y. Hilton — The Colts pledged to get T.Y. Hilton more involved this week. The shocking part? They actually followed through, though they had to be nudged along by an injury to Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder). Hilton was out-playing DHB even before he went down, however, with the result being a career-high 124 yards on six catches. He’s got a tough Week 3 matchup in the 49ers, but Hilton as a weekly WR3 is here to stay.
Early Waiver Look
This is just my approximation of who might remain unowned in a large number of leagues. It is not an exhaustive effort, and the players are not listed in “add” order. For a full, much more thorough breakdown of the wire, be sure to check out Adam Levitan’s column on Tuesday.
QB: Alex Smith, E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon.
RB: Bernard Pierce, Joique Bell, James Starks, Fred Jackson, Isaiah Pead, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jordan Todman
WR: Eddie Royal, DeAndre Hopkins, Doug Baldwin, Rod Streater
TE: Charles Clay, Jordan Reed, Mychal Rivera