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We have no choice but to react and make decisions based on a tiny sampling of action after the first round of games. Week 2 gives us a lot more perspective and a much better idea if our Week 1 decisions we good or if some of those guys we picked up after strong games were products of the game plan or game flow. There are a lot of changes from week to week in the NFL, no matter what part of the season we are in.
We have not yet seen big numbers from Zaven Collins, but there is good reason to believe they are coming. He was solid against the Raiders on the field and in the box scores, going 6-2 with a forced fumble. More importantly, Collins has been on the sideline for one play over two games. That makes me feel pretty comfortable about starting him this week versus the Rams.
On the other side of that coin, Isaiah Simmons needs to be on the bench. He showed up big on the field late in Sunday’s game but his stat sheet was sparse. The reason was simple, he was not on the field much. Simmons finished 2-1 on 15 snaps. Meanwhile, Nick Vigil was 3-2 on 26 plays, and Tanner Vallejo even got into the game for 20 snaps. Simmons’ stock is virtually worthless at this point.
Jalen Thompson was questionable right up to game time with a toe injury. Once the game started, there was nothing to question. He handled the normal, every-down role, going 6-3 with a pass breakup, and seemed to come through the game as healthy as he went into it.
J.J. Watt is far from the player he once was, but if healthy, he has the potential to be a factor. Watt played 63% of the snaps in Week 2 and recorded the Cardinals’ lone sack. That is enough to put him on the radar but not enough to make Watt a starter against the Rams this week.
Markus Golden has been a virtual no-show so far with a tackle and two assists to date. Between the sore toe that had him on the injury report leading up to Week 1, and Chandler Jones moving on, it’s been tough sledding for Golden so far. I like his chances of breaking out at some point, but don’t expect it to happen this week.
There is no big news that will immediately impact the Falcons’ inside linebacker situation, but there are some interesting notes. Mykal Walker seems to be solidifying himself as the leader. He went 5-2 with an interception versus the Rams and played 92% of the snaps. Rashaan Evans, however, saw his playing time slip just a little, going 1-6 on 86%. The most interesting notes are that rookie Troy Anderson got on the field for the first time, logging nine snaps with a tackle and an assist, and Deion Jones, who is currently on IR, agreed to a restructured contract that could make it possible for him to stay with the team beyond this year.
The consensus expectation is that Anderson will eventually be the man in the middle for Atlanta but he has a long way to go in terms of experience. We’ll keep a close eye on this and see if his playing time continues to increase.
The Falcons’ pass rush, along with Grady Jarrett, went from boom in Week 1, to bust in Week 2. The Rams not only made sure Jarrett did not go off again, they shut him out completely. It’s hard to trust any player after a zero, but the Seahawks are a far more favorable matchup.
Jaylinn Hawkins was on the radar after going 5-1 and playing full-time in the opener. In Week 2 he split snaps with Eric Harris. Richie Grant’s numbers slipped from 5-5 to 3-3, but at least he played every snap. There is nothing to get overly excited about here, but there could be a little value in deep drafted leagues.
Marcus Williams came down a bit after the monster Week 1, but he is still looking like a star. The Ravens are playing a much different style of defense than what we have seen in years past and from what I can tell, there is no reason to think Williams will slow down.
When Baltimore is in their base defense with four defensive backs, Williams is working as the deep safety much of the time. When they go to the nickel, however, Kyle Hamilton is seeing most of the deep safety work, allowing Williams to work in a similar role to that of Jalen Ramsey, LJarius Snead, and Kenny Moore. He lines up in the slot and/or is free to move around and pick favorable matchups. The days of Baltimore safeties having no value seem to be over, but for now, it’s Williams and not Hamilton in the spotlight.
Patrick Queen had a slow game against the Dolphins, but that had more to do with the game flow than anything. He finished at 4-1 despite playing every snap. Miami went pass happy early and ran the ball just 16 times.
Buffalo came out with a big win on Monday night, but there was a cost. Dane Jackson and Micah Hyde both suffered neck injuries while Jordan Phillips left with a hamstring issue. Jackson’s hit looked bad but he was released from the hospital after being checked out. As I write this, there has been no update on Hyde. Both players are likely to miss at least one game and possibly several more. Jaquan Johnson should be next up at safety while rookie Kaiir Elam is in line to start on the corner.
Shaq Lawson joined a virtually equal four-man rotation at defensive end. Lawson, Greg Rousseau, Carlos Basham, and A.J. Epenesa played between 21 and 26 snaps. The count was probably affected by the blowout score.
Frankie Luvu stood out for the second straight game, This time to the tune of 14 tackles (10 solos) and a pass breakup. Every year there is a veteran or two that come from nowhere to become a major factor. Luvu is playing virtually every snap and appears to be that guy for this season.
Shaq Thompson was invisible in the first half but came later in the game to finish with a good line of 6-4. There is no concern with his playing time (92%).
Carolina is counting on Yetur Gross-Matos to step up as the starter opposite Brian Burns, but thus far, he has not impressed. In two games Gross-Matos is 1-2 and has not put much pressure on the quarterback. Don’t be surprised if Marquise Haynes pushes for a bigger role over the next few weeks.
There has been some debate about the roles of Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods. This week I had time to take a close look at this situation. What I saw was two players in interchangeable roles. On the first dozen plays against the Giants, Woods lined up strong or in the box five times, Chinn four times, and both were deep in a cover-2 look on three plays. The bottom line here is, that we are probably going to see weeks with Chinn as the more productive guy, and weeks where Woods has the upper hand. That’s not good news for managers that grabbed Chinn as their DB1
Need a corner for the rest of the season? Rookie Kyler Gordon might be your guy. He is playing on the outside in base packages, moving into the slot in the nickel, and has allowed 15 completions on the 20 passes thrown his way so far. His numbers have not been huge at 9-3 with a pass breakup over the first two games, but this guy has been around the ball a lot and has no problem putting a shoulder on the ball carrier in run support. The rookie corner rule is in play so he will have plenty of opportunity.
It would be nice to see Trevis Gipson on the field more. Right now, he is seeing passing down snaps in a time-share with starter Al-Quadin Muhammad. Gipson played less than 40% of the snaps over the first two games but is making the best of his opportunities by going 5-2-2 with a batted pass over the first two games along with some pressures.
Week 1 sensation Dominique Robinson was shut out on 21 snaps in game two.
Nick Morrow went 7-4 against the Packers, outproducing Roquan Smith who was 5-6. Smith is the better option week in and week out, but this shows us that Morrow is going to get his fair share. I expect this will happen a few more times before the season is over. The moral of the story is, don’t hesitate to make Morrow an every-week starter if you have him.
The defending AFC Champions are a hot mess right now. The offense can’t keep Joe Burrow upright, and the defense can’t get to the opposing quarterback. Cincinnati is one of five teams with two or fewer sacks to date. This could be the week Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson get right against a Jets team that has given up five sacks in two games.
Logan Wilson was a huge disappointment last week going 2-1 with a forced fumble in what should have been a great matchup. Dallas ran the ball 27 times and completed 7 passes to running backs or tight ends. Chalk this one up as a fluke and move on with Wilson as a starter.
Jesse Bates is not getting it done for us. If it were just these two games, I would suggest patience, but the fact is, his lack of production started last year and is an unwelcome carryover. It might be time to move on while there are still good options on the waiver.
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