NFL Week 2 Retrospectacle: Breaking down a strange Sunday

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By ERIC MACK
FanDuel

If momma said there would be days like this NFL Week 2 Sunday, we would have said she was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. It wasn't all bad. It just was horrific for things that make sense.

The Oakland Raiders posted 37 points on a Baltimore Ravens defense that held down Peyton Manning one week prior. Johnny Manziel (14.98 points) outscored Drew Brees (13.1), who had a favorable matchup. Travis Benjamin (31) looked like a fantasy world-beater, while DeAngelo Williams (29.2) and Larry Fitzgerald (33.2) turned back the clock that seemingly has struck midnight already on their careers.

Heck, they're older than momma.

It was such a strange day, as the Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars all won their games. The Seattle Seahawks, the recent standard of NFL excellence, currently stands at 0-2. How many days in world history can stake claim to that all at once?

As bad as our one-week fantasy selections were, it paled in comparison to the Chicago Bears losing quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) and getting shellacked by the Arizona Cardinals 48-23. Even some of the big winners were losers, as the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers improved to 2-0 but lost stars Tony Romo (fractured clavicle) and Eddie Lacy (ankle) along the way.

We break down the events in this Week 2 Retrospectacle, lamenting the duds, trumpeting the studs and dropping our jaw at the surprises—all while analyzing the FanDuel values of our one-week fantasy football plays going forward.

Bums the Word

We thought the advancing weeks of the NFL season would make sense of our one-week fantasy plays. Instead, they made zero cents for us, thanks to these disappointing performances.

QB Drew Brees (13.1) — The Bucs defense went from being gashed by Marcus Mariota for four touchdowns in his first NFL start to holding Brees to 255 yards and just one touchdown with one interception. There were 23 quarterbacks who scored more FanDuel points than Brees.

We should have known better to make Brees our No. 1 quarterback this week. The Bucs picked off Brees six times in two games last year.

QB Tony Romo (7.0) — An expected shootout with the Philadelphia Eagles never materialized, and a lot of blame can be placed on the (fractured) shoulder of Romo. He did pass for 195 yards, but lost a fumble and will be out for several weeks, according to Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News.

"Just about as low as a crippled cricket's ass," owner Jerry Jones told George on Sunday.

Fire up Brandon Weeden (8.02) and Terrance Williams (4-84-1) as potential bargain plays in FanDuel lineups for the Week 3 $5M NFL Sunday Million.

TE Jimmy Graham (1.6) — Brees surely misses Graham, even if the All-Pro tight end isn't quite engrained in the Seattle Seahawks offense yet. He had just one catch for 11 yards Sunday night in a loss to the Packers.

RB DeMarco Murray (8.0) — So much for that revenge against his former team that so unceremoniously cast him off to a division rival in free agency. Murray said he wasn't going to hold a grudge against his ex-teammates this week. We wish he had. Murray rushed for just 2 yards on 13 attempts and has totaled just 11 yards on 21 carries through two games with the Eagles. Adding to the pain of it all, Murray had a short touchdown run called back on a holding penalty late in the fourth quarter. You just cannot play him against the New York Jets defensive front in Week 3—when he will, naturally, go off for someone not paying attention or just being cute in FanDuel's GPPs.

RB Jeremy Hill (0.6) — He fumbled his way to the bench, rushing 10 times for just 39 yards and two fumbles, giving backup Giovani Bernard a chance to take over.

"It's just one of those days. I just can't have that," Hill told Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I can't make any excuses and I can't really say anything because it is what it is. I'm just going to go back to the drawing board and keep working. It's all I can do."

He just might be working as Bernard's backup in Week 3. Bernard rushed 20 times for 123 yards and a touchdown, setting up a potentially confusing timeshare going forward for one-week fantasy players.

"Gio was carrying the ball, but we can't have a back fumbling the football, either," head coach Marvin Lewis told Russell. "Jeremy's a talented young player and we've got to keep the football. That wasn't part of his deal last year, and we can't let it creep in."

RB Carlos Hyde (8.1) — Like Hill, here's a riches to rags tale from Week 1 to 2. Hyde managed just 13 carries for 43 yards before leaving with a head injury and not returning to the game. Hyde was cleared, but the San Francisco 49ers held him out as a precaution, head coach Jim Tomsula told CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco.

RB Eddie Lacy (0.9) — Unlike Hill or Hyde, few slotted Lacy in FanDuel lineups against the vaunted Seahawks defense, but even fewer couldn't have predicted he would be limited to nine yards rushing on just three carries. He left the game in the first quarter and did not return.

X-Rays were negative on his injured ankle, per NFL insider Adam Schefter, but Lacy's status for Week 3 next Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs will be a big question mark. James Starks is going to be a potential sleeper play if Lacy is ruled out before lineup lock next Sunday.

RB Justin Forsett (10.0) — He didn't have a completely awful day like those above, but if we were to tell you the Ravens were going to put up 33 points, you would have figured some would come from Forsett. Instead, he was mostly a non-factor, being held out of the end zone and suffering the indignity of seeing backup Lorenzo Taliaferro (12.1) vulture the red-zone touches and score a seven-yard touchdown.

RB LeGarrette Blount (0.4) — Another running back no one would have considered viable in his matchup against the rugged Buffalo Bills front, but the New England Patriots rode Dion Lewis (20.8) to a big victory over Rex Ryan's squad. Blount had just two carries for four yards in his return from suspension, while Lewis looks like the Pats' back to roster with a combined 138 combined yards, one touchdown and six receptions.

WR Keenan Allen (0.6) — Two catches for 16 yards and a lost fumble, after going 15-166 in Week 1. Ouch.

WR Kendall Wright (2.7) — Two catches for 17 yards, after going 4-101-1 in the opener. Boo!

Genius Plays

Not everything went completely wrong. These expected stars came through for FanDuelers.

WR Antonio Brown (32.0) — The No. 1 wideout in fantasy went 9-195-1 against the 49ers and might just be immune to a bad matchup indefinitely.

QB Ben Roethlisberger (30.66) — Remember this preseason when people touted the Pittsburgh Steelers' early schedule as tough because they were facing the defenses of the NFC West? Meh. Big Ben went 369-3 against the 49ers and the St. Louis Rams are next up ... amid a return from suspension from Le'Veon Bell, mind you.

WR Odell Beckham Jr. (24.1) — This is the ODB we remember from 2014. He ripped off a 67-yard touchdown and went 7-146-1 after a mediocre opener.

RB Adrian Peterson (18.2) — The sky is no longer falling for Peterson's fantasy owners. He was back to being a horse with 192 total yards. Consider the 2014 rust completely knocked off the old Chevy.

WR Julio Jones (20.0) — His 13-135 would have been even better if not for having a review take away a touchdown, leaving him short at the one-yard line. Still, we have seen Jones be a must-start beast and the New York Giants secondary—even more injury-hit now—one to take advantage of in one-week fantasy play.

TE Rob Gronkowski (20.8) — Is there a price you wouldn't consider Gronk for a FanDuel lineup? His 7-113-1 ripping of that Ryan Bills defense suggests his Week 3 FanDuel price of $8,400 still leaves him as a must-play at home against the Jags.

Arizona Cardinals Defense (18.00) — A touchdown on the opening kickoff, another defensive score and another week of playing a squad against Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Hello, 0-2 Seahawks ($5,300) back at home for Week 3. Line them up.

Surprising Stars

Even in this disappointing week, there were a lot of fantasy points on the board in Week 2 — just most of it came from unexpected sources. We break down the fantasy vs. reality of these sudden standouts.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (33.2) — Playing Carson Palmer's (22.2) targets against the Bears was a good idea, but who could have seen Fitz have this kind of day (8-112-3) at this late stage of his career? It helps Michael Floyd (one target) was shut out again amid his finger issues, but we cannot advise Fitz in Week 3 against the 49ers, even if they were ripped this week.

WR Travis Benjamin (31.0) — He hit a home run from Manziel for a 60-yarder score, went 3-115-2 as a receiver and had a return touchdown. He is going to be a popular play against the Raiders in Week 3 at $5,600, especially if Manziel starts again over Josh McCown (concussion).

WR Allen Robinson (30.5) — Maybe there is hope for Blake Bortles (21.62) and the Jags. Robinson's 6-155-2 performance will make him intriguing in potential Week 3 garbage-time against Tom Brady and the Pats, especially at $6,600.

RB DeAngelo Williams (29.2) — Peterson couldn't get anything done against the 49ers defense last Monday night, so naturally an older D-Will was going to go off for 20-77-3 on the ground. Kiss his value goodbye with Bell ($8,800) back from suspension next Sunday (at St. Louis), though.

QB Tyrod Taylor (28.98) — We loved his Week 1 scoring, but lamented his inability to make Sammy Watkins productive. So much for that. Watkins (6-60-1) chimed in for us and Taylor has proven to be an incomparable value at FanDuel. His price is still very much in the bargain range at $7,000 for Week 3 (at Miami).

QBs Cam Newton (28.4), Colin Kaepernick (26.5) and Russell Wilson (23.04) — Have you seen us write about a love for the rushing quarterbacks as FanDuel plays? They get priced modestly because of their passing prowess, but they score with the elite because of their rushing production. Keep firing them up in FanDuel lineups against anyone.

RB Matt Jones (26.1) — The rookie phenom looked so good (19-123-2 rushing and 3-23-0 receiving) that fantasy players might be sticking pins in their Alfred Morris voodoo dolls. Morris ($6,600) is still the starter, but Jones ($6,400) is the breakaway play in Thursday night FanDuel contests like the $500K Thu NFL Rush against the Giants.

TE Crockett Gillmore (23.3) — We have known for years that Joe Flacco (384-2) loves throwing to his tight ends. In Week 2, we've learned Gilmore can be a productive play in FanDuel action after going 5-88-2 in a shootout. He even managed to outscore Gronk and his price is far lower for Week 3 at $5,400.

QB Derek Carr (27.34), WR Michael Crabtree (21.6) and WR Amari Cooper (20.4) — What a difference a week and a pair of potentially elite receivers make. Carr missed most of Week 1 with a hand injury, but he torched a good Ravens defense for 351-3, thanks to the production of Crabtree (9-111-1) and Cooper (7-109-1). Carr has some serious downfield juice with those two threats, making him a strong Week 3 play at $6,600 (at Cleveland) along with Cooper ($6,900) and Crabtree ($6,000).

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