We are two weeks into the season and we're starting to get some clarity, which is always a good thing, no matter if it's good news or bad. It's the unknown and making important decisions involving the unknown, which makes this hobby a challenge. The more we know, the better off we are.
So what do we know? we know a lot, actually
The first three weeks of the season are my favorite. So much is being learned at this time. The cream is rising to the top. Opportunities are being presented for players and several have answered the bell with a successful first two games. Injuries are starting to mount, especially for quarterbacks. With every injury comes an opportunity for someone else to fill the void, and the cycle continues. Winning your league is about having key performers and knowing who to target before they rise to power. Although it's not a must, players on winning teams are generally more successful fantasy options.
Teams that are 2-0: Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Green Bay, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, Seattle
Teams that are 0-2: Miami, New York Jets, Cincinnati, Houston, Denver, Philadelphia, New York Giants, Minnesota, Detroit, Atlanta, Carolina
What makes a successful fantasy running back?
1. Opportunity - There is more of a chance to have success if the opportunity for carries is high. The following teams lead the way in running plays per game. You want to have running backs on these teams. These are also the backs you should target for proactive waiver claims.
- 41.5 LA Chargers - Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley
- 39.5 LA Rams - Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown
- 34.0 Tennessee - Derrick Henry
- 34.0 Arizona - Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds
- 33.5 Baltimore - Mark Ingram II, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards
- 33.5 New England - Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White
- 33.5 Green Bay - Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon
- 33.0 Las Vegas - Josh Jacobs, Devontae Booker
- 31.0 Cleveland - Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt
- 31.0 Indianapolis - Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines
2. Snap percentage (% of snaps on the field)
- 89% Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
- 88% David Johnson, HOU
- 80% Christian McCaffrey, CAR
- 78% Miles Sanders, PHI (1 game played)
- 73% Derrick Henry, TEN
- 72% Melvin Gordon III, DEN
- 70% Josh Jacobs, LSV
- 69% Dalvin Cook, MIN
- 67% Alvin Kamara, NO
- 67% Kenyan Drake, ARI
3. Touch Percentage (% of snaps with a carry or reception)
- 61% Joshua Kelley, LAC
- 58% Josh Jacobs, LSV
- 58% Raheem Mostert, SF
- 57% Jonathan Taylor, IND
- 56% Derrick Henry, TEN
- 55% Aaron Jones, GB
- 53% Frank Gore, NYJ
- 52% David Montgomery, CHI
- 52% Ronald Jones II, TB
- 51% Kareem Hunt, CLE
- 49% James Robinson, JAC
- 48% Nick Chubb, CLE
4. Yards after contact per game
- 70.5 Nick Chubb, CLE
- 68.0 Aaron Jones, GB
- 57.0 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC
- 56.5 Derrick Henry, TEN
- 56.5 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
- 51.0 Kareem Hunt, CLE
- 34.0 James Robinson, JAC
- 33.5 Josh Jacobs, LSV
Key stats for identifying wide receiver success
Target Percentage (% of snaps with a target)
- 27% Jamison Crowder, NYJ (1 game)
- 22% A.J. Green, CIN
- 21% Diontae Johnson, PIT
- 20% Julian Edelman, NE
- 19% Davante Adams, GB
- 19% Courtland Sutton, DEN (1 game)
- 18% D.J. Moore, CAR
- 18% Russell Gage, ATL
- 18% Danny Amendola, DET
- 18% Amari Cooper, DAL
- 17% Calvin Ridley, ATL
- 17% Stefon Diggs, BUF
- 16 Calvin Ridley, ATL
- 13 DeAndre Hopkins, ARI
- 12 Russell Gage, ATL
- 11 Stefon Diggs, BUF
- 11 Julian Edelman, NE
- 10 Davante Adams, GB
- 10 Corey Davis, TEN
- 10 D.J. Moore, CAR
- 9 Tyler Boyd, CIN
- 9 Diontae Johnson, PIT
- 9 Darius Slayton, NYG
Tight end production
- Evan Engram, NYG
- Zach Ertz, PHI
- Dallas Goedert, PHI
- Hunter Henry, LAC
- Travis Kelce, KC
- Logan Thomas, WAS
- Darren Waller, LSV
Have fantasy players on high scoring teams
Top scoring teams through Week 2 (points scored)
- 85 Green Bay
- 73 Seattle
- 71 Baltimore
- 68 Las Vegas
- 64 Atlanta
- 58 New Orleans
- 58 Buffalo
- 57 Dallas
- 57 LA Rams
- 57 Kansas City
- 57 Jacksonville
- 54 Tampa Bay
- 54 Arizona
- 52 Pittsburgh
- 51 San Francisco
- 51 New England
Players on my radar
Justin Herbert, LAC - Herbert was thrown into his first career start not knowing he would play at all when he woke up Sunday morning. Tyrod Taylor developed chest pains prior to the game thus elevating Herbert into, not just a starting role, not just his debut game in the league, but against the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs. And he did well. Very well, considering the circumstances. He passed for 311 yards and averaged 9.4 yards per attempt. He had a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown, and one interception. Coach Anthony Lynn insists that Taylor is still the starter when he's healthy, but the 6th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was selected to be the future franchise quarterback for the Chargers. His arrival is soon, if not already here.
Nick Mullens, SF - 49ers starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is shelved for multiple games resulting in Nick Mullens as the starter under center. Garoppolo has been less than stellar in two games this season and could wind up being in a quarterback controversy when he returns if Mullens finds success. The 49ers have been dealt a challenging hand with injuries in all areas, including their receiving corps. Mullens threw for over 2,200 yards in eight games in 2018. He knows the Shanahan offense and could be the spark the team needs to right their ship.
Jerick McKinnon, SF - Injuries to Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman have opened the door for McKinnon to showcase his skills and abilities in Shanahan's zone offense. Only the Saints have more targets to running backs (24) than San Francisco (22) and McKinnon is more than capable of being a weapon in this offense.
Leonard Fournette, TB - Ronald Jones II may have the upper hand over Leonard Fournette by knowing the Bucs offense better, but ball security issues and Fournette's pedigree may decrease his time as the team's preferred back. If Fournette continues to excel when his number is called, he could usurp Jones for the lead role sooner, rather than later.
Gus Edwards, BAL - The Ravens have a near equal split of carries between Mark Ingram II, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards. One injury to any of the three will elevate the other two. Edwards is the lowest man on the Ravens backfield totem pole, but any given week could yield an increase in production going forward. Edwards is an excellent pre-emptive pickup to stash on your roster.
Joshua Kelley, LAC - The Chargers lead the league in rush attempts by running backs with 72 in two games. Both Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler have performed equally well with both having fantasy appeal. After having just 18 snaps in Week 1, Kelley jumped up to 43 in Week 2. He is on the fast track to increased involvement and would be a boom commodity if Ekeler is forced to miss time.
K.J. Hamler, DEN - The season-ending injury to Courtland Sutton has opened the door for Jerry Jeudy to excel, but also fellow rookie K.J. Hamler. Hamler has the tools to be a speedy, downfield threat or run-after-the-catch specialist in the mold of Henry Ruggs III. Hamler could wind up being a nice fantasy gem. After 0 snaps in Week 1, he had 48 in Week 2 with 3 receptions on 7 targets for 48 yards.
Keelan Cole, JAC - Cole, not D.J. Chark Jr, or Laviska Shenault Jr leads the team in targets (12), receptions (11), and receiving touchdowns (2). Chark and Shenault may be the future for the Jaguars, but Cole is quietly showing why he's the leading man in the present. This could end as early as this week, or it could continue into the season. Gardner Minshew is making waves among fantasy quarterbacks and he's bringing his receivers with him.
Darius Slayton, NYG - Sterling Shepard (toe) is now sidelined for a few weeks making Slayton a prime candidate to see an increase in targets. The Giants were dealt a tough early schedule and it doesn't get much easier in Week 3 against the 49ers, but the winds blow in their favor looking ahead. Slayton leads the wide receiving corps in virtually every category including touchdowns. He should be heavily involved moving forward as Daniel Jones' primary target.
Michael Pittman Jr, IND - The injury to Parris Campbell has opened the door for Michael Pittman Jr to enter the fold as an emerging receiving threat for Philip Rivers and the Colts offense. T.Y. Hilton has yet to show his previous form but it could just be growing pains for both him and Rivers. Pittman's size and speed combination resembles some of Rivers' former stalwarts, like Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. Pittman's snap % jumped from 53% in Week 1 to 92% in Week 2. He answered with four catches for 37 yards. He should continue to see increased targets especially in the red zone where he can use his size and hands to his advantage.
Mo Alie-Cox, IND - An injury to Jack Doyle opened the door for Alie-Cox to shine in his first game with over 60% snap rate. The Colts and Frank Reich have long used multiple tight ends in their offense. Alie-Cox showed that he can be a productive fantasy commodity last week against the Vikings with a 5-111-1 box score. Even when Doyle returns to health, Alie-Cox should still be a part of the offense and if he continues to shine, he could supplant Doyle as the team's leading tight end.
Dalton Schultz, DAL - The season-ending injury to Blake Jarwin has opened the door for Dalton Schultz to emerge as a fantasy option. The Cowboys have the potential to be a high-scoring team. They have three receivers capable of playing well any given week. In total Dallas tight ends have 13 receptions (Schultz has 10). The next highest on the team is Amari Cooper with 16. If this trend continues, Schultz will be a key piece to the Cowboys receiving offense moving forward.
It's time to fine-tune
If you started off 0-2 or 1-1, it's not too late to turn things around. Sometimes, one player in your lineup with a big game can make the difference between a win and a loss. There are plenty of players who have yet to have a big week and some are probably on your roster. Make the right waiver picks and lineup decisions and don't be afraid to make a trade that could change your season for the better if he hits. Sometimes you have to overpay for the player you want, but if it works for your lineup, I say do it.
Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org