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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 2

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement. The same goes for fantasy football; managing rosters effectively is key to winning that championship.

Throughout the season, players get hot and see an increased role while others struggle and fight to stay relevant. Experienced fantasy players know this happens every year. In this weekly column, we’ll showcase those who have taken important steps forward and those who have taken steps back.

These are the key risers and fallers heading into Week 2 of the NFL season. Dynasty owners, check out our separate Dynasty Risers/Fallers segment as well.

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Week 2 Risers

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

Many fantasy owners took a shot on Lamar Jackson late with the idea that he would at least have a high floor due to his rushing. Jackson did no rushing in the Ravens' Week 1 demolition of the Dolphins and was still the overall QB1 on the week. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns, which, as he described, is "not bad for a running back." It remains to be seen what Jackson will look like against an actual NFL team, but regardless, he is beginning to put to bed any concerns about his downfield accuracy.

Sammy Watkins (WR, KC)

Even before Tyreek Hill left the game with a rare shoulder-ish injury, Sammy Watkins was looking like vintage Clemson Sammy Watkins. He caught nine of 11 targets for 198 yards and three touchdowns and with Hill likely to miss half the season, Watkins is locked in as Patrick Mahomes' second option in the passing game behind Travis Kelce. The talent was always there. The health wasn't. If Watkins can stay on the field, he could return WR1 value at least while Hill is out.

DeSean Jackson (WR, PHI)

Back in Philly where he belongs, DeSean Jackson is still doing typical DeSean Jackson things, even at age 32. He caught eight of 10 targets for 154 yards and two long touchdowns. The only concern with Jackson's ability to perform on the field at his age would be any drop off in speed. I certainly didn't see it in Week 1. If DJax can still burn, then he can easily lead Eagles pass-catchers in fantasy points.

Tyrell Williams (WR, OAK)

We weren't entirely sure how the Raiders would fare in a post-Antonio Brown world. They came out firing on all cylinders and the passing attack was led by Tyrell Williams. We've seen Williams operate as a primary option before in San Diego when Keenan Allen went down in Week 1. After two middling seasons, Williams looks like the clear top target for Derek Carr, reeling in six of seven targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. He looks like an every-week WR2.

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

It wasn't as great of a week for running backs, but Devin Singletary finds his way to this list because of his usage. He had a decent, totaling 98 scoreless yards, but it was his clear passing of Frank Gore that is most encouraging. Singletary played 45 snaps to Gore's 19 and saw six targets. That is highly encouraging. Gore will probably start every game this season, but Singletary should operate as the Bills' lead back going forward.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, DET)

Rookie TEs rarely perform well for fantasy football. We've made exceptions before for Rob Gronkowski and Evan Engram. We may need to make another one for T.J. Hockenson. Big Hock posted six receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. Granted he did it against one of the league's worst defenses, but his nine targets are quite encouraging, especially considering he was targeted ahead of Marvin Jones. Hockenson could have an Engram-like rookie season.


Week 2 Fallers

Jameis Winston (QB, TB)

This is the risk when fantasy owners rely on a quarterback we know is bad at football with the hopes that he will just compile numbers. Jameis Winston is a terrible quarterback and it showed in what should've been a cupcake matchup against a bad 49ers Defense. Winston was charged with three interceptions, but he threw the ball at the wrong team a whole lot more than that. Given the Bucs' miserable backup QB situation, Winston is probably going to stave off benching, but only because there is no viable alternative. This will be the last season Winston starts in the NFL on purpose.

Curtis Samuel (WR, CAR)

The training camp superstar, who is legitimately very talented, was being talked about as if he may have passed D.J. Moore as the Panthers' WR1. Simply put, no. Curtis Samuel was barely targeted in a game where Cam Newton threw 38 passes and the Panthers scored 27 points. Preseason hype raised Samuel's ADP three rounds, which, apparently was not justified. Samuel saw just four targets and while he will have his fair share of games this season, he does not appear as if he will be a reliable weekly option.

Dante Pettis (WR, SF)

Dante Pettis was already tumbling down draft boards, but many fantasy owners still believed in the talent and usage. After playing a mere two snaps in the 49ers season opener, the question now is how long will Pettis remain on fantasy rosters?

Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)

It seems unfair to put a guy that totaled over 100 yards on 15 touches here, but Todd Gurley was a top 20 pick and looks like a middling RB2. Gurley was rested for lengthy stretches in favor of Malcolm Brown and most disconcerting was the clear preference for Brown at the goal line. It makes sense that Sean McVay would want to protect Gurley from the punishment that comes from goal-line work. It's just terrible for fantasy owners. If Gurley can't score touchdowns, he has no chance at returning anywhere near what he cost.

Sony Michel (RB, NE)

It is legitimately fair to question whether Sony Michel should remain on your fantasy roster. What more can you ask for in terms of game script and situation? The Patriots ran the ball a ton in a blowout they led wire to wire. That's exactly what we want for a one dimensional back that can't catch passes. Even in the most ideal of circumstances, Michel couldn't do anything. 14 yards on 15 carries is somehow even worse than LeGarrette Blount. I see little hope for Michel going forward.

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