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We Must Overreact Immediately! Week 2 Outliers


Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, we are starting to get a better handle on whether certain players are breaking out, or are one-week wonders.

After Week 1, it was unclear whether Marquise Brown would be able to sustain his fantasy production off his 18% snap share. However, in Week 2, Brown saw a huge increase to his snaps, playing on 64.6% of offensive plays which makes a full-on breakout extremely likely for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Fellow rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, on the other hand, followed up his 100-yard debut with a three catch, 25-yard performance.

Now, here is a breakdown of some of the good and bad performances from Week 2 to help guide you with lineup and roster decisions moving forward.

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Demarcus Robinson (WR, KC)

Week 2 Stats: 6 targets, 6 catches, 172 yards and 2 TD

Robinson played on 95.8% of the Chiefs offensive snaps in Week 2 and came through for fantasy owners in a big way. We have seen this before from Robinson. He’s been asked to play an expanded role due to injury in the past, and he normally fails to come through when given the opportunity. However, 2019 may be a different story for Robinson. In 2018 when Sammy Watkins missed time, Robinson played anywhere from half of the Chiefs offensive snaps, to 72.9%, and exceeded 40 yards receiving only twice. As long as Tyreek Hill is out, and Robinson continues to play almost 100% of the Chiefs offensive snaps, he will be a viable WR3 option in 12-team leagues.

Bottom Line: The Chiefs have several mouths to feed in their passing attack, and it’s very likely that Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson or Travis Kelce will absolutely explode or dud any given week. If a defense attempts to take out one of those pass-catchers, the others will burn the opposition and produce in a big way.

 

D.J. Chark (WR, JAX)

Week 2 Stats: 9 targets, 7 catches, 55 yards and 1 TD

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark played on 76.8% of the snaps in Week 2 which is about where he was in Week 1. Chark, however, had a steep increase in targets (nine) this week against the Houston Texans.

Bottom Line: Chark appears to be breaking out and should be owned in all 12-team leagues as Gardner Minshew appears to favor Chark over Dede Westbrook through his first two games. Although Chark is currently in WR1 territory, he cannot be rolled out in 12-team leagues as anything other than a WR3 until he clearly establishes himself as the lead receiver in Jacksonville.

 

Devin Smith (WR, DAL)

Week 2 Stats: 3 targets, 3 catches, 74 yards and 1 TD

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin didn’t suit up against the Redskins in Week 2 and Devin Smith took his place in the lineup. Smith saw about 18% of the snaps in Week 2 which is about the same amount Austin saw in Week 1. Smith looked explosive at times, especially on his 51-yard touchdown catch.

Bottom Line: Michael Gallup is slated to miss a few weeks due to a knee injury requiring a surgical procedure, which means Smith may be viable in Gallup's absence. The Cowboys use a lot of 11-personnel with Randall Cobb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup each playing at least 72.46% of the Cowboys' offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season. Monitor this receiver situation throughout the week, because Smith may be a viable option in deeper 12 and 14-team leagues if he starts in place of Gallup.

 

Robert Woods (WR, LAR)

Week 2 Stats: 2 targets, 2 catches, 33 yards

LA Rams wide receiver Robert Woods came up extremely small on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Although Woods didn’t produce for fantasy purposes, he led all Rams wide receivers playing on 98.6% of the offensive snaps. Meanwhile, it was Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks rewarding owners with touchdowns. In fairness to Woods, he had a touchdown catch taken off the board due to a questionable holding penalty.

Bottom Line: There are three mouths to feed in the Rams receiving corps, and bad fantasy performances are bound to happen from time to time. If a fantasy owner in your league is panicking because Woods didn’t produce in Week 2, this is a buy-low situation.

 

Josh Gordon (WR, NE)

Week 2 Stats: 5 targets, 2 catches, 19 yards

The New England Patriots looked to get newly acquired Antonio Brown involved in Week 2 against the Dolphins as Tom Brady clearly looked his way in the red zone. Although it's likely that Brown's presence will hurt Gordon's fantasy production, Gordon did see an increase in snaps from Week 1 to Week 2, going from 70% to 79.2%.

Bottom Line: The Patriots ran the ball more than they threw it in Week 2 in the blowout win over the Dolphins, so it's too early to tell if Gordon will disappear now that Brown has been added to the roster. If Brown's legal situation lands him with a suspension, then Gordon's fantasy status will be elevated. If Brown is not suspended, we really need to pay attention to snap rates and target share against an opponent other than Miami. Don't panic with Gordon just yet, but if you receive a comparable trade offer for Gordon (James White, Mike Williams, Cooper Kupp) you should strongly consider it. Gordon should only be in your fantasy lineup if he has a good cornerback matchup until we have more data with Brown in the picture.

 

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Week 2 Stats: 16 carries, 37 yards, 6 targets, 2 catches, 16 yards

After Carolina's Week 2 game against the Buccaneers, the common narrative around NFL circles was that Cam Newton is injured and can no longer throw the ball downfield. Newton quietly threw for 333-scoreless yards against the Buccaneers, and part of the reason he was able to do so (as inaccurate as he was) is because the Buccaneers keyed on stopping McCaffrey.

Bottom Line: Don't panic with McCaffrey, he is still the focal point of the Panthers offense and he will rebound. Do not sell low in a trade.

 

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Week 2 Stats: 11 carries, 17 yards, 5 targets, 3 catches, 10 yards

Joe Mixon is off to an extremely slow start for the Cincinnati Bengals. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Bengals have been without their starting left tackle Cordy Glenn. In Glenn’s absence, Andre Smith has performed very poorly, as he’s not athletic enough to block on the edge. In Week 2, Mixon had several chunk plays called back during critical moments of the game when the score was still close. These holding penalties not only negated big gains and first downs, but they put the Bengals in a hole and crippled any momentum their offense had.

Bottom Line: Things will get better for Mixon because they can’t get any worse. He played through his ankle injury and looked good running the ball. When Cordy Glenn returns to the starting lineup, the Bengals rushing attack should be much improved. Mixon is a prime buy-low player right now.

 

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Week 2 Stats: 3 targets, 3 catches, 54 yards

Kittle is currently not living up to expectations based on where you likely drafted him as TE14 through the first two weeks of the season. Against the Bengals in Week 2, the 49ers ran the ball 42 times and only put the ball in the air 26 times. Even though the 49ers didn't need to throw it a lot to beat the Bengals, George Kittle still registered as TE11 on the week.

Bottom Line: Kittle has underwhelmed early, but the 49ers have been winning in convincing fashion. As a result, Jimmy Garoppolo has only needed to put the ball in the air a total of 53 times through two games. For context, Andy Dalton threw the ball 51 times in Week 1 alone. The moment things get competitive for San Francisco, Kittle will start getting targeted more.

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