It's Week 2 of fantasy football and we're scratching our heads in confusion/disbelief/stupidity. What's new?
The AFC East had some storylines that played out exactly how we had thought they would. Then, it had others that not only set your fantasy team back a week, but longer ... a lot longer. And you better have already trolled the life out of the waiver wire hoping for a patch-up replacement worth your time.
Thumbs-up (from Week 1):
C.J. Spiller — 169 yds, 1 TD, 2 rec for 25 yds (RB, Buffalo Bills)
Not only did the Bills' "No. 2" running back have a big game in Week 1 when his team suffered a beatdown at the hands the divisional-rival Jets, but featured back Fred Jackson is also out for several weeks going forward. Even with Jackson active last week, Spiller was still getting his fair share of touches (and yardage) vs. the Jets. Here's to rolling with the Bills' new top RB for the long haul. Spiller will be one of the NFL's Top 5 running backs at season's end if he can remain healthy for 15 more weeks.
Mark Sanchez — 266 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT (QB, New York Jets)
Yup, he did it, and he did it big. In last week's column I predicted the Jets were done being the laughing stock of the league, let alone the AFC East. On Sunday against the Bills, they made sure of it. Led by Sanchez's stellar performance and his receivers' equivalent effort on the other end, the Jets proved already that they mean business. People quickly and often forget that Sanchez led his squad to back-to-back AFC title games, one that included a beatdown of the Patriots to get there. He also increased the value of the guys around him tremendously with his Week 1 performance (Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller).
Stevan Ridley — 125 yds, 1 TD, 2 rec for 27 yds (RB, New England Patriots)
Someone had to step up and fill the shoes of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is now lining up behind Andy Dalton in Cincinatti. And Ridley did just that. And with plenty of promise. The Titans' defensive front is tough, too, so just imagine how Ridley could and should fare vs. a porous defense in the future. No. 2 RB Shane Vereen is banged up, as well, so we can expect Ridley to keep busy for a while without him.
Jeremy Kerley — 4 rec for 45 yds, 1 rec TD, 1 return TD (WR, Jets)
In addition to Sanchez becoming a sought-after asset in fantasy again, the guys around him also saw an increase in their value. Kerley's value even more so thanks to his speed and ability to quickly reach the end zone as a return man, just as he did in Week 1 on his 68-yard punt return. Kerley's performance earned himself AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, but he's also dealing with a sore back, ESPN reports, so be wary in the near future when acquiring and/or playing him. He'll be back if he does take it easy this weekend, though.
Thumbs-down (from Week 1):
Wes Welker — 3 rec for 14 yds (WR, Patriots)
Coming off his best season yet, most people drafted Welker early, especially in those PPR leagues where he was expected to dominate after hauling in more receptions than anyone last season. He didn't show much in Week 1, though. No need to panic yet. I'm starting him, and you should too. Welker needs at least five straight awful weeks before he starts riding the pine.
David Nelson — 2 rec for 31 yds (WR, Bills)
It's not his fault, but it's still disappointing. Nelson was expected to pick up where he left off last year as Ryan Fitzpatrick's second choice at receiver, racking up 658 yards and 5 TDs on 61 receptions. That won't be happening, though. Nelson tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. Look for fellow WRs Ruvell Martin and/or T.J. Graham to pick up the slack.
Fred Jackson — 15 yds (RB, Bills)
Another Bills player expected to do big things, another injury. Luckily for Jackson, the Bills and depressed fantasy owners who drafted him, it's not a season-ending injury. Jackson confirmed he sprained a ligament in his right knee after having an MRI on Monday, but also said he'll be "back in four weeks, without a doubt," according to the team's website. Jackson will be reevaluated in a week to get a better grasp of his timetable for return, but he's currently out for at least a month.
Miami Dolphins — 2 sacks, 30 points allowed (DEF)
There were a couple of bright spots for the Dolphins, but they are clearly the weakest link in the AFC East. Two sacks and restricting the Texans' ground game to only 83 yards shows there may be hope, but the problems in Miami stem deeper than its defense.
Start for now:
Stephen Hill (WR, Jets)
Hill, who caught two touchdown passes and gained 89 yards, was another Jets WR that felt the benefit of QB Sanchez’s solid play in Week 1. We can expect No. 1 WR Santonio Holmes to have a heightened role this week, but Hill should still see the end zone at least once, and he’ll be targeted plenty in an offense devoted to keeping the pass-to-run ratio evened up.
Brandon Lloyd (WR, Patriots)
Lloyd had some early chemistry stuggles with QB Tom Brady, or so it seemed, but he appears poised for a bigger performance this week. He was certainly a factor last week, gaining 69 yards off five receptions, and will continue to be targeted as the immediate deep threat formerly filled by Randy Moss and Deion Branch.
Donald Jones (WR, Bills)
With David Nelson out, Jones is sure to see an uptick in targets and (hopefully) catches. Last season he was notorious for dropped balls and being out of sync with QB Fitzpatrick. That wasn’t the case in Week 1. After being targeted seven times, hauling in five receptions and scoring a touchdown, I fully expect Jones to keep on surging and putting up numbers to rival fellow Bills WR Johnson.
Proceed with caution:
Mark Sanchez (QB, Jets)
Yeah, Sanchez looked awesome in Week 1 and the Jets and their fans certainly hope his success continues. But from a fantasy standpoint, I expect the Steelers to cause some serious problems for Sanchez, specifically in the secondary. I’m not saying he won’t toss a couple touchdowns, because I believe he will. But I also see him throwing multiple interceptions into a hungry, playing-at-home Steelers defense that adds Ryan Clark back to its roster after he missed Week 1 in Denver as a medical precaution.
Stash for later:
Shane Vereen (RB, Patriots)
When he's healthy, Vereen should be the perfect complement to Stevan Ridley and the Patriots' offense. Until then, the majority of the work will go to Ridley, but if Vereen is available, especially in deeper leagues, snatch him up. He’s probable for Sunday’s game vs. the Cardinals, but with the Patriots' lackluster schedule, you can expect him to find the end zone at least a few times this season. He could be a nice fill-in down the road.
Devone Bess (WR, Miami Dolphins)
If rookie QB Ryan Tennanhill can step it up and round out his game, Bess has the potential to give the Dolphins a well-needed jolt on offense. Still, most experts believe using any Dolphins player for fantasy purposed is a stretch, and will remain that way throughout the season. I’m going out on a limb, but I believe Bess will be the guy to really open up the Dolphins' offensive efforts. I also envision him putting up some bright numbers on Sunday against Oakland, a team that struggled mightily in the second half last week and seems to let some of the worst teams perform at their best during the season.