San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
A big first half (423 combined yards and 34 points) became more of a defensive battle afterward, when the 49ers dialed up the blitz. Brock Purdy had three glaring downfield misses (Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk were the targets) in what was probably the worst game of his young NFL career (and the first in which he didn’t throw two TDs). Purdy ran in a score on the last play of the first half; who is this new Kyle Shanahan, who also uncharacteristically went for it on an early fourth down last week? Let’s hope it continues.
Purdy dealt with the highest-pressure rate in the league in Week 1, but the 49ers held Aaron Donald off the stat sheet Sunday. Nonetheless, not bad for a “down” game by Purdy, whose fantasy day would’ve looked much better had they not ruled this TD to Samuel a “run:"
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
Puka Nacua shook off sore ribs/oblique and continued his historic start, recording the most catches (15) in a game (and through two games) ever by a rookie. He’s the first player to have 10+ catches and 100+ yards during their first two contests. Nacua saw a whopping 20 targets (and two carries) and should be treated as a top-12 fantasy WR as long as Cooper Kupp is sidelined. Nacua would fall to a WR3 at worst should Kupp return fully healthy (I’m skeptical), as he’s far more of a “hold” than someone to trade high in fantasy. Nacua’s college performance backs up the big start, and Matthew Stafford continues to look terrific.
Like the Seahawks last season, the Rams might be this year’s surprise offense that was left for dead (realize they faced a 49ers defense that allowed the lowest EPA/play last season), especially if Kupp somehow returns full strength. Tutu Atwell can play too! He’s a fantasy WR3 (with upside for more) with Kupp out in the right matchups.
Van Jefferson, meanwhile, had a bad fourth-quarter drop — just like you can drop him off your fantasy team.
Kyren Williams also deserves a significant fantasy upgrade after Cam Akers was a healthy inactive Sunday. Mid-game reports said Akers is dealing with the “same issues as last year — accountability.”
Williams had a tipped pass go off his hands for an interception but also had two touchdowns before halftime against a 49ers defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs by a wide margin last season. Williams hauled in a great catch in the second quarter and recorded a TD grab later that drive, becoming the first Rams RB to have a receiving TD since 2021.
Williams saw 10 (!) targets and leads the NFL with four touchdowns. He is worth a max offer in fantasy free agency and should be considered a top-15 fantasy RB moving forward given his usage (Ronnie Rivers is LAR's new RB2).
Christian McCaffrey once again dominated SF’s backfield (Elijah Mitchell didn’t see one opportunity), producing a nice touchdown run and a 50+ yard scamper on the next drive. CMC has the most rush yards over expectation and is on pace to triple last season’s leader.
QUICK HITS: Brandon Aiyuk appeared to hurt his shoulder area early on and was playing through pain throughout afterward ... Imagine using a third-round NFL draft pick on any position but a placekicker ... San Francisco fans took over SoFi Stadium ... The Rams executed the greatest backdoor cover of all time when they kicked a field goal down 10 as time expired.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons won despite entering the fourth quarter down 12 points. Jordan Love threw three TD passes without a pick but finished with a -11.9 CPOE that’s in the 10th percentile. The Packers dropped a possible pick-six in the second quarter, but Desmond Ridder was mostly serviceable while using his legs effectively.
I know running backs aren’t supposed to matter, but I’d argue the downgrade from Aaron Jones to AJ Dillon cost Green Bay Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, Bijan Robinson had a mere 173 yards from scrimmage despite losing 16 carries to Tyler Allgeier. Robinson saw 24 opportunities (including some goal-line work) and is locked in as a top-three fantasy RB.
Drake London bounced back with a score, while Jayden Reed had two touchdown grabs. Reed quietly saw the best usage among GB WRs last week (he left injured for some of the game), but Christian Watson’s return will crowd this situation some.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Buffalo Bills
The Raiders had a quick touchdown drive and then forced a three-and-out to start the game but lost 38-3 afterward. To make matters worse, Davante Adams left after taking a hit late in the fourth quarter. Adams had been Las Vegas’ lone bright spot Sunday (they missed Jakobi Meyers). The Bills entered struggling a bit on run defense but held Josh Jacobs to minus two yards on nine carries.
James Cook is the real deal. Buffalo’s coaching at the goal line is the only thing standing in the way of Cook being a top-five fantasy back right now; Latavius Murray and Damien Harris continue to limit his (short) touchdowns.
Gabe Davis with a nice touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
Josh Allen was one of the best players on the field throughout the league Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow bounced back somewhat after recording just 35 passing yards (3.2 YPA) in the first half, but he also had a bad pick in the third quarter and aggravated his calf injury toward the end of the game. Burrow still hasn’t scrambled all season and has a sub-five aDot, so it’s clear people (like myself) underestimated the impact of his injury. That said, Week 1 was a tough situation, and the Ravens defense has been the best in football since trading for Roquan Smith. It’s all about Burrow’s health moving forward.
Tee Higgins rebounded with two touchdown catches, while Nelson Agholor (?) grabbed one after Odell Beckham Jr. left with an ankle injury. I’m holding Rashod Bateman in deeper leagues, but it’s been an incredibly discouraging start.
Lamar Jackson had a long run called back by a penalty, while Zay Flowers recorded another highlight catch (that will help his aDot).
Baltimore split its backfield work evenly, with Gus Edwards getting the goal-line score (and Justice Hill the three RB targets).
An 81-yard punt return for a touchdown was the Bengals’ best play of the day.
Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions
Geno Smith and Jared Goff combined for 651 passing yards with five TD strikes in a thriller that ended on a Tyler Lockett touchdown in overtime:
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
Despite numerous injuries across its offensive line (and playing in Detroit with the Lions coming off a mini bye), Seattle’s protection held up well. Smith spread targets around, while Kenneth Walker’s two touchdown runs saved his fantasy day (but he continued to dominate work).
It was an eventful game for David Montgomery, who out-touched Jahmyr Gibbs 11-6 at halftime. Montgomery had an awesome TD catch called back by a questionable penalty but later scored during the drive. He also lost a fumble before being carted off in the third quarter with a quad injury he said it would take a few weeks to heal.
Amon-Ra St. Brown left early in the third quarter with what the team called cramps. He returned after missing time to have his ankle re-taped, but it’s worth monitoring if it was truly just cramps or something more.
Gibbs dropped a potentially long pass in the first half, and Goff missed him wide-open in the second (Goff would throw a pick-six on the next play, ending the third-longest streak without throwing an INT in NFL history). Craig Reynolds saw a late goal-line carry, but Gibbs would see a big fantasy boost should Montgomery miss time (and even more so if Sun God is limited too).
Goff has 26 touchdown passes over 10 home games since last season. He completed a nice flea flicker score Sunday too.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s average depth of target remained a concern. He’s more of an upside bench player for now given the curious usage, but things can change quickly (DK Metcalf exited Sunday’s game at one point before returning).
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Anthony Richardson was off to a monster fantasy game with two touchdown runs in the first six minutes before exiting with a concussion early in the second quarter. He appeared to injure himself at the end of his second touchdown run and obviously needs to be monitored moving forward. Richardson scored more fantasy points in one quarter of action (while attempting a left-handed pass for fun) Sunday than Justin Fields, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence finished with in Week 2. Please be healthy!
While obviously a huge fantasy downgrade, Gardner Minshew is one of the best backups in the league.
If you remove his long screen pass in Week 1, Michael Pittman Jr. has gotten just 114 yards on 22 targets (5.2 YPT) this season. But you have to love all this volume.
Dameon Pierce had 10 carries in the first half but remains game-script dependent.
Zack Moss is Indy’s new lead back and nearly had a second touchdown if not for a nice run being called back by penalty. He’s an RB2 until (if?) Jonathan Taylor returns.
C.J. Stroud, who looks exactly like Trey Lance with their helmets on, had great moments Sunday. He attacked downfield and is up to 91 attempts through two games as a rookie. I’d be incredibly encouraged if I were a Texans fan.
Nico Collins continues to look like an alpha and nearly had a second touchdown if not for being tackled at the one-yard line. He has the fifth-most receiving yards in the league. Indy’s secondary is vulnerable, but Collins is a top-25 WR and a must-start in all fantasy leagues moving forward.
Tank Dell had 10 targets, scored and had another TD called back in the fourth quarter as well. The rookie impressed and needs to be added in fantasy leagues. Houston is throwing the ball this year.
Kylen Granson is emerging as a fantasy option at tight end in deeper leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars
In a matchup with the highest total of the slate, this game scored the fewest points during a week that featured overs. Good thing I targeted it in DFS.
Patrick Mahomes outplayed Lawrence on his birthday, finishing with 300+ passing yards against a Jacksonville defense that entered third in DVOA. Meanwhile, Lawrence struggled mightily (-12.9 CPOE) in one of his worst games as a pro. He badly missed a wide-open Zay Jones for a TD and finished 0-for-7 passing in the red zone.
Calvin Ridley made a terrific catch but had a quiet box score. He almost had two touchdowns, with one resulting in him being injured by the goal post (he returned).
Travis Etienne had a quiet game but saw three more targets while Tank Bigsby saw zero opportunities. Christian Kirk encouragingly saw 11 more targets than he did in Week 1.
Chris Jones made an immediate impact while recording 1.5 sacks and a TFL in his return. Travis Kelce managed just 26 yards on nine targets but scored during his return.
Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Justin Fields ran in a score but four carries for three rushing yards won’t pay the fantasy bills (especially with shaky passing). Fields continued to take bad sacks and had another late pick-six to help opposing fantasy defenses. It’s been a highly discouraging start for Fields in 2023.
Baker Mayfield missed Chris Godwin for a sure first-quarter touchdown but otherwise continued to ball out. He had 150+ passing yards with 12 minutes left in the second quarter and finished with 9.3 YPA and a 15.7 CPOE in the 95th percentile. Mayfield has been anything but a fantasy downgrade for Godwin and Mike Evans (who had a 70-yard catch followed by a touchdown grab).
DJ Moore had 64 receiving yards in the first quarter and finished with 104. But just seven targets and another Fields stinker suggests maybe to offer Moore in fantasy trades this week.
Rachaad White took advantage of a favorable matchup but is another possible trade candidate coming off the nice game.
Chase Claypool’s lack of effort nearly led to a third-quarter interception, but he later scored.
With D’Onta Foreman a healthy scratch, Khalil Herbert recorded one carry in the first half (Roschon Johnson had three). Herbert led Chicago’s backfield in the second half, and the RB targets weren’t as plentiful as last week despite another lopsided score. The Bears’ running backs are to be avoided for now in fantasy leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Tennessee Titans
Justin Herbert attacked downfield more (10.4 aDot), and Ryan Tannehill bounced back (16.4 CPOE) after an awful performance in Week 1. The Chargers won the coin toss but lost in overtime, when Brandon Staley’s timeout on third-and-two led to the Titans bringing Derrick Henry into the game, who then ran for a crucial first down.
Joshua Kelley getting stuffed by arguably the league’s best run defense was no surprise, but him seeing just one target was. He’ll be worth starting in fantasy leagues if Austin Ekeler remains out, but Sunday’s lack of receiving work suggests he’ll be more matchup-dependent.
The Chargers had a big-man two-point conversion.
Keenan Allen had two touchdown grabs, thanks to Herbert’s moves on fourth down.
DeAndre Hopkins was clearly compromised by his ankle injury, while Treylon Burks pulled down a 70-yard catch.
New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals
For those who backed the Giants in Survivor this week, you owe a good meal (and drink) to Daniel Jones, who played out of his mind in a near-flawless second half (despite missing LT Andrew Thomas). The Giants had been outscored 60-0 through six quarters this season before Jones led a furious second-half comeback that included a second TD run called back by penalty. He’s one of the league’s best running quarterbacks and finished as fantasy’s No. 1 QB on Sunday.
New York’s first lead of the season came with 19 seconds left. It was the first time the Giants came back to win a game down 20+ points since 1950.
Saquon Barkley had an interception bounce off his hands in the first half and suffered a late ankle injury (after giving himself up on the play before while in FG range). He looked great at times beforehand, but the injury appeared bad. Barkley had to be helped off the field, but early reports say it could have been much worse. New York plays in San Francisco on Thursday night so a short turnaround won’t help. Matt Breida is next RB up for the Giants and is a fantasy add. Good thing Barkley is long Bitcoin!
The Giants’ wide receivers remained in a rotation, with rookie Jalin Hyatt leading the team in yards thanks to one big play.
Darius Slayton might’ve made the catch of the week but was just out of bounds.
Hand it to the Cardinals, who certainly aren’t playing like a doormat. Josh Dobbs’ TD run might have been the play of the day:
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
Marquise Brown and James Conner can remain viable fantasy options.
The TV announcers were perplexed when the Giants rightfully went for two down eight points (a false start negated it).
New York Jets @ Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott did what was needed against a tough Jets defense, while Zach Wilson had three picks and finished with a -18.8 CPOE in the third percentile. Wilson had nine passing yards late into the second quarter until he finally hit Garrett Wilson for a long TD strike. The Cowboys have a fantastic defense, but the Jets are going to have to look elsewhere at quarterback at some point.
Garrett Wilson nearly scored a second TD later (he went eight games without a touchdown with Z. Wilson last season) but finished with just two catches on eight targets. He deserves so much better.
The Jets successfully executed a fake punt inside their own 20 in the first quarter but committed four second-half turnovers in the ugly loss.
Dalvin Cooked got 1.8 YPC and lost a fumble that was nearly returned for a touchdown. His four lost fumbles last season were the most in the NFL among backs. Breece Hall’s fantasy managers just need to remain patient (and the Jets need to get a different QB).
CeeDee Lamb turned in a dominant performance against a stingy secondary, as any Week 1 usage concerns were put to rest.
Deuce Vaughn and Rico Dowdle saw multiple goal-line carries, but it’s hard to argue with 33 opportunities for Tony Pollard. Huge fantasy games are coming with that kind of usage.
Washington Commanders @ Denver Broncos
Washington came down from 18 points only to allow a Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation in a wild game (including the failed ensuing two-point attempt that could’ve drawn a PI). Bat it down, Commanders:
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
Russell Wilson was fantasy’s QB3 after Sunday (the Hail Mary helped), but Sean Payton likely has some criticisms (seven sacks). Wilson badly missed Adam Trautman for a late touchdown but led the Broncos in rushing yards, which is big after he barely ran in Week 1.
Sam Howell continued to hold onto the ball too long and was lucky he didn’t throw any picks but showed flashes. The two rushes were a disappointment, but coming back from down big in Denver was impressive (Chase Young’s return certainly helped on defense).
What a throw by Howell, and what a catch by Terry McLaurin.
Brian Robinson was the No. 1 fantasy back this week and should be treated as a top-15 RB at minimum moving forward. He had 18 carries to Antonio Gibson’s two and is up to five targets (and three touchdowns) on the year. A fully healthy Robinson not coming off a gunshot wound looks like one of fantasy’s biggest draft-day steals of 2023.
Rookie Marvin Mims ran just five routes but had a long TD catch and a long reception on the next drive during a performance that should result in more playing time. Jerry Jeudy, though, was quiet during his return.
Javonte Williams dominated Denver’s backfield work, although Jaleel McLaughlin stole a first-quarter touchdown from the five. It’s still great news for Williams’ outlook.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Tua Tagovailoa played extremely well again, while Raheem Mostert was fantasy’s RB3 after Sunday. Mostert is a long shot to stay healthy all season but is a must-start in fantasy leagues right now. He ripped off 6.7 YPC in New England against a Patriots defense that shut down the Eagles’ rushing attack last week.
Tyreek Hill scored, but Jaylen Waddle led the Dolphins with 86 receiving yards before exiting late after a big hit, which has him in the concussion protocol. His status needs to be monitored.
After finishing as fantasy’s QB2 last week, Mac Jones wasn’t top-20 in Week 2.
Rhamondre Stevenson ran hard and scored but was bottled up (3.3 YPC) by a Miami defense that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game to running backs last season.
Kendrick Bourne didn’t do much but once again led the Patriots in targets with nine (despite DeVante Parker’s return), while Hunter Henry looks locked in as a top-12 fantasy tight end.
The Patriots nearly executed an incredible lateral to continue Sunday night’s game but ultimately fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2001.