Welcome to another edition of the SAF (Samulski's Arbitrary Fantasy) Awards! I'm your host, Eric Samulski, and we've come to the second week of this weekly awards segment where we shine a light on the best performances, the disappointing performances, and the most misleading performances in the week of NFL action.
As the name states, the SAF Awards are totally arbitrary but no less valid and desirable awards given out by me based on the committee of voices in my head. Some awards will carry over every week while others will emerge from the ether based on my mood or the mercurial winds of pop culture trends.
While you will find plenty of actionable fantasy football information here, you're not likely to get many of the fantasy football acronyms that make me feel like a real estate agent: EPA, aDOT, YACON, etc. Those are all valuable and have their place, but that place is not here. This is the place where we give out awards, talk some trash, and have some fun.
If you have players you believe are deserving of awards or want to suggest awards for the next week, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@SamskiNYC). But without further ado, let's hand out some hardware that doesn't exist and people wouldn't really want if it did!
Coming into the season, there was a popular narrative that Robinson and Antonio Gibson would operate as a committee in Eric Bieniemy's offense, but through two weeks that has been anything but the case. Robinson had 72% of the rushes in Week 1 and then 86% in Week 2 where he carried the ball 18 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns while adding 42 yards on three catches. That was good for 27.9 points in half-PPR leagues, and Robinson is the RB3 after two weeks with 41 points.
Now, Gibson is still on the field for 45% of the team's snaps and is running routes on 49% of dropbacks while playing 93% of the snaps in the two-minute offense, which appears to make him the clear passing game back if Washington were to get into a situation where they were playing catch-up (which might just be this weekend). Still, Robinson has looked good on the ground and is playing for one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL, so there's a lot to like here.
Studying some Brian Robinson for today's @FFToday Beyond The Boxscore
LOVED this run by BR. Most RBs I watch won't find this cutback lane. They'll run for -2 to 0 yards here. BR finds the lane, squeezes through a small crease & creates YAC down field after all of that.#HTTC pic.twitter.com/Tab39TtF76
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) September 18, 2023
The Office Space Award: Kyle Pitts - TE, Atlanta Falcons
This award highlights a player who we're all looking at on our rosters and thinking:
Through two weeks, Pitts has just 7.9 total points in half-PPR scoring. He played 57 snaps in Week 2 and ran 35 routes, but Jonnu Smith played 55 snaps and ran 27 routes. We know Arthur Smith liked having Jonnu Smith in Tennessee, so it's more than likely he brought Smith to Atlanta to play that more traditional TE role that is so valuable in this offense. That means Kyle Pitts will continue to share time on the field in a passing attack that doesn't really want to push the ball down the field.
In 29 career games in the NFL, Pitts is averaging 3.4 catches for 49.7 yards per game with just three total touchdowns. If he wasn't hyped up as revolutionizing the tight end position, would he be rostered in 12-team leagues? We obviously know the talent, but the performance has simply not been there. I wouldn't cut him yet, but I would make sure you have another tight end on your roster.
On another note, why draft Pitts fourth overall if you don't plan to throw to him? Seems to be a poor use of draft capital, but what do I know? I just watch football on TV and go CLICK CLACK on a keyboard.
This is the second week in a row we've given the breakout performer award to a Rams player after awarding Puka Nacua the hardware in Week 1. Nacua continued to produce in Week 2, and Williams emerged as the starting running back in Los Angeles, taking 14 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown while also adding six receptions for 48 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
With Cam Akers firmly back in the doghouse, Williams handled pretty much all the rush attempts and receiving work and clearly crushed it. There is nobody currently on the Rams roster who can challenge him for the starting job unless Akers does something to make Sean McVay totally change his tune.
With running backs dropping like flies across the league, I think it's fair to consider Kyren Williams an RB2 for now who should have a solid floor even if the Rams fall behind given his current pass-catching role.
I'm a huge Nick Cage fan, so this award is where we honor his over-the-top style of acting by highlighting the player that created the most aggressive overreactions of the week. In Week 2, that honor goes to Breece Hall , who even went on social media after the game and sent out four football emojis, a likely nod to the four carries he got in a loss to the Cowboys. (He has since deleted the post).
Given how good Hall looked in Week 1, it's a shock to see him get so few opportunities in Week 2; however, he is coming off of a major injury and the Jets could be playing it safe with their future star. However, it remains a concerning development since Hall played the exact same amount of snaps as Michael Carter and two fewer snaps than Dalvin Cook . Hall and Cook both got four carries, while Carter ran 13 routes to just eight each for Hall and Cook.
With Aaron Rodgers hurt, the Jets are playing super conservative and using the running game to hide Zach Wilson like a combover over a balding head. That led to the team running just 46 plays on Sunday, and many of them came while trailing, which favored Carter. All of that means it's likely going to be hard to trust Hall until the Jets feel he's healthy enough to allow him to take third down snaps away from Carter.
The Friend Zone Award is where we honor the player who leads us on the most heading into a matchup only to crush our dreams and give us nothing on Sunday.
In Week 1, we pined after Isaiah Likely only to be left with a broken heart, and in Week 2 we did the same with Kelley.
With Austin Ekeler out on Sunday, many people were confidently sliding Josh Kelley into their lineups after he ran for 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries when Ekeler was healthy in Week 1. However, it's hard to beat the Titans on the ground, and Kelley was contained to just 39 rushing yards on 13 carries. He was also held without a catch on just one target.
That's, um, not so helpful.
He has a chance to tease us again in Week 3 with a plus matchup against the Vikings and Ekeler's status still up in the air. I like Kelley's chances much more against Minnesota and will likely be willing to fire him up again if he gets the start. Then again, I always had a problem consistently walking myself into the friend zone.
The David Blaine Award is a weekly award where we highlight stats that are really an illusion. Sometimes that will be when a player has an appealing role but the production isn't there and other times, like today, it will be when stats can mislead us to a player's true role.
On Sunday, Mims exploded for 122 yards and a touchdown on four catches, but here's the thing: HE ONLY RAN SIX ROUTES! Mims played just 14% of the snaps for Denver and ran a route on six passes. He just happened to be targeted on four of those six passes and caught one pass for 60 yards and another for 53 yards. He's certainly talented and can clearly hit a big play, but his role in the offense is not a large one right now, and the offense is not exactly firing on all cylinders, so it might be a while before you can trust Mims.
Pay no attention to the illusion.
In Week 1 we went searching for Joe Burrow , but the NFL's highest paid quarterback did not re-appear in time for Week 2 so now we're also out searching for his top receiving option.
Through two games, Chase has 10 catches for 70 yards and no touchdowns. He's been targeted 17 times in two games, which is solid, and he continues to run the most routes and play the most snaps of any Bengals receiver. However, he and Burrow are not on the same page, which may be due to Burrow's injury or because the two of them didn't play together at all in preseason.
With Burrow possible out for Week 3 (and maybe longer?) Chase is looking like he could fall back into the big clump of WR1s that included A.J. Brown , Amon-Ra St. Brown , and Garrett Wilson and not the top tier receiver we thought we were getting.
All we know for sure is that they've both gone missing in the Upside Down together, and it seems very likely that if we don't find Burrow, we may not find Chase. Hopefully we get to them faster than those kids got to Barb. She deserved better.
Stubbed Toe Award: Craig Reynolds - RB, Detroit Lions
Have you ever been walking along, minding your own business and having a wonderful time and then you stubbed your toe on a doorframe or the leg of a chair? It sucks and just comes out of nowhere. That's how many people feel about the Week 2 performance of Craig Reynolds .
After Dan Campbell let fantasy managers down in Week 1 with his sparse usage of Jahmyr Gibbs , the Lions head coach publicly said he was planning to ramp up the rookie's usage. He kind of did that, with Gibbs catching seven passes and being targeted on 40.9% of his routes. Then, when David Montgomery went down with an injury, many people expected the Gibbs explosion to happen.
Not so fast.
After Montgomery got hurt, Gibbs didn’t see any noticeable change in his role. He played 13 snaps in the fourth quarter but Craig Reynolds played 10 snaps. Reynolds also ran the ball three times in the fourth quarter while Gibbs ran it just once. It seems that the Lions are way more comfortable with their 5'9" running back lining up as a receiver then they do as a running back.
Which makes some sense, but is not exactly helpful to fantasy managers who drafted the rookie thinking they were getting an RB1.
That's it for this week; we'll see you next Wednesday for another edition of the SAF Awards!