Fantasy Football: C.J. Spiller Highlights AFC Revelations for NFL Week 2

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterSeptember 17, 2012

Bills running back C.J. Spiller (170 total yards, 2 TD vs. Kansas City) now has 364 total yards and three touchdowns for the season.
Bills running back C.J. Spiller (170 total yards, 2 TD vs. Kansas City) now has 364 total yards and three touchdowns for the season.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Here are 10 AFC-based fantasy revelations from a hectic Week 2 in the NFL.

To view 25 random thoughts on the NFC side of the fantasy ledger, click here.

1. C.J. Spiller is taking over the fantasy world in big chunks of yardage 

It was my halfhearted pledge to complete this revelation without connecting the names Fred Jackson and Wally Pipp. But how can that be done? (Who is Wally Pipp, you ask?)

In two games as Buffalo's full-time back (supplanting the injured Jackson), C.J. Spiller has rummaged through opposing defenses for 364 total yards and three touchdowns. On Sunday, he collected 170 total yards (123 rushing) and two scores against the Chiefs on just 18 touches.

All this begs the questions: Assuming Spiller's age of reckoning isn't exclusive to Weeks 1 and 2, what will be the dynamic of Spiller and Jackson once the latter returns to the field? Will they operate in a time-share situation? And if so, who garners more touches between the 20s and inside the red zone?

These are important questions to ponder right now. With each virtuoso performance by Spiller, his owners are left to speculate when his trade value will eventually max out. They're also left to wonder the following:

What if the kid never relinquishes his spot on Buffalo's depth chart, or lofty standing in the fantasy community, back to Jackson—the NFL's leading rusher before suffering a major injury last year?

2. Reggie Bush was apparently dead serious about winning a rushing title in 2012

The Raiders allowed an average of 136 rushing yards per game last season (27th in the league), so it's not like Bush was facing implausible odds Sunday. That said, his 197 total yards (172 rushing) and two touchdowns were more than enough to satisfy the home fans in Miami and carry the notion that Bush (29 touches) has evolved into a workhorse back—not just an asset in points-per-reception leagues.

Whenever healthy, Bush shall remain the Dolphins' No. 1 option in close games or easy wins. But with the club's shallow pool of playmakers and a rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill—214 total yards, two TDs vs. Oakland) presumably logging every snap, the real measurement of Bush's fantasy worth lies in assessing how competitive Miami will be in this transitional season.

If Bush is moving away from the "scatback" stereotype—is he a legitimate RB2...or just a weekly flex option with favorite-nation status? He may no longer be a weekly lock for nine receptions.

Speaking of which, Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline had a career-defining afternoon, racking up personal bests in catches (nine), targets (12) and receiving yards (111). But it's way too early to know if he'll emerge as Tannehill's favorite target, or if he's just enjoying the short-term fruits of facing a porous defense.

After all, it's not like the Dolphins play the Raiders again during the regular season.

3. You can set your watch to Arian Foster...even if you can't set a DVR for Texans-Jaguars

I didn't spend a lot of time studying Sunday's game, via DirecTV, for three reasons:

a) I got bored from watching Jacksonville punter Bryan Anger work his, uh, magic nine times for 462 yards.

b) Houston QB Matt Schaub attempted only 13 passes in the second half (and four in the fourth quarter).

c) No one buys the "Sunday Ticket" package with the intent of watching commercials.

The spotty viewing experience did it have its moments, though.

Foster (147 total yards, one TD) and Ben Tate (97 total yards, two TD) carved up the beleaguered Jaguars defense for 254 total yards and three touchdowns, perhaps the most prolific numbers of any backfield tandem by season's end. The performance also justified Foster's status as the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts, along with Tate's worth as a Round 6 pick and necessary handcuff to Foster.

By extension, there wasn't much for Schaub (195 yards passing) and receiver Andre Johnson to do on Sunday, other than rest up for Houston's Week 3 clash with Denver.

In previous years, I'd be upset that Johnson tallied only three catches for 21 yards (on four targets). But with memories of his injury-riddled campaign in 2011 still fresh, I'm happy to see Johnson's balky hamstrings live to fight another day. The next game.

4. Let Week 2 be a lesson to those who bank on rookie receivers for fantasy glory

For those with short memories, I issued a stern, revelations-based warning last week about the dangers of starting Stephen Hill off one stellar performance (two touchdowns against the Bills).

His Week 2 output: zero catches and two targets against the Steelers.

The same warning applied to Justin Blackmon, the highly decorated first-round pick from Oklahoma State, in light of his rock-solid progress during the preseason.

Blackmon's Week 2 output: zero catches and four targets against the Texans.

To clarify, I'm not condemning either Blackmon or Hill as roster-worthy talents in 12-team leagues. But at this stage of their pro careers, both receivers are nothing more than unproven assets with a ton of physical upside. In other words, they're lottery tickets that may or may not be cashed in the not-too-distant future.

Week 1 breakout aside, the Jets' Hill remains the same raw athlete who tallied only 49 catches and nine touchdowns in three seasons at Georgia Tech (2009-11).

And for Blackmon, he's still a fledgling asset on one of the NFL's worst passing offenses. Although better days are certainly ahead.

5. Dwayne Bowe is the unofficial king of garbage-time greatness

Just like the old expression, Nobody cares how the hot dogs are made, I feel no ambivalence about how Dwayne Bowe tallied eight catches, 102 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo.

Yes, the Chiefs were trailing 35-3 when Bowe sprung into action, catching four balls for 60 yards and two scores. But that's been a small component of Bowe's modus operandi over the last three seasons.

It's not entirely his fault the Chiefs fall into deep holes during non-divisional games (especially on the road). Just like it shouldn't be Bowe's concern that defenses, like the Bills on Sunday, go into "prevent" mode when sitting on sizable leads.

The end result: Despite three quarters of pedestrian play, Bowe (12 targets) ended up with the second-best fantasy day amongst Kansas City and Buffalo players—behind C.J. Spiller, of course.

But at least Bowe showed up during garbage time. Running back Jamaal Charles produced 22 total yards (19 receiving) on nine measly carries.

In a bit of fairness, Charles was temporarily slowed by an in-game injury, and he's only 12 months removed from major knee surgery. But it breaks my heart to see Charles and Tennessee's Chris Johnson—my two favorite running backs—enduring similar bouts of fantasy despair with their respective teams.

It's even more galling when a certain guru has Charles and Johnson on the same fantasy team. Ouch.

For Week 3, Bowe, Charles and the Chiefs play the 0-2 Saints, a club that's similarly desperate for a victory. And you know what means? Lots and lots of passing from Drew Brees and Matt Cassel (326 total yards, two TDs vs. Buffalo), with the strong possibility of Cassel going loco after the result becomes academic.

6. Dante Rosario owes Antonio Gates a steak dinner for his three-touchdown day

For Week 1 of the 2008 season, an unknown tight end named Dante Rosario came out of nowhere to seemingly produce the game of his life in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, catching seven balls for 96 yards in the Panthers' upset win over the Chargers—including the game-winning TD reception.

Fast-forward four years and one week. Filling in for the injured Gates (a late Sunday scratch; rib injury), Rosario pulled down four catches for 48 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans. Each score came within 15 yards, and each one made it seem like San Diego QB Philip Rivers (293 total yards, three TD) was toying with an overmatched Tennessee defense.

Heading into Sunday's game, Rosario had five total touchdowns. In just one day, he nearly matched five seasons' worth of red-zone work.

Here's how it may play out this week: A good chunk of the fantasy population will spend decent resources to land Rosario in free agency, as insurance for another Gates absence or a swing-for-the-fences flier pick—just in case the Chargers invoke a Patriots-style attack of dueling tight ends.

In the Chargers' 38-10 rout, the club unearthed a viable No. 2 tight end and No. 2 running back. Jackie Battle patiently waited in the wings while Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley netted mediocre results before erupting for 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

Bottom line: Given the success of Rosario and Battle, it was easy to overlook the one bit of news that has sustainability from this point forward: Malcom Floyd caught six balls for 109 yards, clinching his status as the Chargers' primary wideout (by a healthy margin).

7. The Browns may be building a factory of happiness with Trent Richardson

The day will come when the Browns are a viable playoff contender with realistic Super Bowl dreams. The day will also come when the club is swimming with quality fantasy options at multiple positions.

In the meantime, though, it's OK to be cautiously optimistic—or even skeptical—about the progress of QB Brandon Weeden (322 yards passing, two TD), WR Greg Little (six catches, 57 yards, one TD) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (five catches, 90 yards).

Bottom line: Until Weeden can string together respectable back-to-back outings, or Little and Massaquoi can average 10 targets in successive weeks, they'll remain fantasy afterthoughts on the waiver wire. (Sadly, the same holds true for rookie receiver Josh Gordon.)

On the flip side, Trent Richardson officially emerged as a RB2 or flex starter in 10- and 12-team leagues, rolling for 145 yards (109 rushing) and two touchdowns against the Bengals.

The most encouraging part of Richardson's day: Despite incurring three separate deficits of 14, 14 and 10 points in the game, the Browns seldom shrunk from the obligation of feeding their best playmaker during crunch time.

8. Don't give up the ship on Chris Johnson just yet

At the risk of being branded a blind loyalist or apologist here, it's way too early to declare Chris Johnson the biggest bust of the fantasy season.

Yes, Johnson (28 total yards vs. San Diego) has posted consecutive outings of less than 20 yards rushing. But for a second straight Sunday, he also collected 11 or fewer touches. Given Tennessee's injuries at receiver, how is it possible for Johnson to incur such a light workload? That's not Danny Woodhead wearing uniform No. 28!

In my mind, the Titans' problems go deeper than Johnson. In a game where the club was down 17-0 after just 18 minutes, how did Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and tight end Jared Cook combine for only eight catches and 72 yards (with one Wright touchdown)?

That's perhaps the most damning aspect of tuning into Tennessee: By all accounts, Jake Locker (195 total yards, one TD) throws and runs like the quarterback of the future. But there's no simply rhyme or reason to his present plight of engineering only 40 total plays against the Chargers.

Are the Titans coaches opposed to quickening the pace between offensive snaps? For a club that's bursting with young, athletic talent at the skill positions, they're seemingly in no rush to be so mediocre on game day.

Regarding Johnson, his trade value couldn't be any lower at this point, and Locker may still be another four or five starts away from finding his rhythm in the Titans attack. Does it make sense to cut bait so early?

My rationale: Give Johnson at least one more week to right the ship (against Detroit). Give him a chance to prove his worth when given 20 or more touches.

9. Carson Palmer could average 300 yards passing per game this year and never garner one start in some fantasy leagues

Given the Raiders' sad state of affairs right now—how else could one define the club after a 22-point loss to the dreadful Dolphins?—it'd be easy to overlook Palmer's relevance in the fantasy world. But no matter how you slice it, 380 yards (373 passing) and one 380 yards and one touchdown.

Do you really care how Palmer reaches that conclusion?

Yes, Mike Goodson converted a quick hitch pass into a 64-yard touchdown reception. And yes, Denarius Moore (three catches, 67 yards) and some random cat named David Ausberry each pulled down 31-yard catches on the day. But it's all part of the Carson Palmer package (highlights galore/losses aplenty) and a big reason why he'll remain an elite-level fantasy backup throughout the season (12-team leagues).

It also helps that Palmer has Darren McFadden (41 total yards on only 13 carries), Darrius Heyward-Bey (four catches, 41 yards), tight end Brandon Myers (six catches, 86 yards) and the aforementioned Moore and Goodson aiding his weekly cause.

For a team with such little hope for a winning record in 2012, that's a solid nucleus of in-their-prime playmakers.

10. Targets-wise, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta does a spot-on impression of Reggie Wayne

Pitta (eight catches, 65 yards, one TD vs. Philly) might have been on the lesser end (production-wise) and losing end (victory-wise) of Sunday's entertaining positional clash with Brent Celek (eight catches, 157 yards). But what's not to love about Pitta posting nine or more targets on successive weekends—including a staggering 15 from Sunday?

With Torrey Smith (two catches, 51 yards) and Anquan Boldin (two catches, seven yards) struggling with consistency to date, Pitta has a golden chance to emerge as Baltimore's No. 2 pass-catcher (after Ray Rice, of course) and dramatically boost his fantasy value, among the cluster of tight ends.

With Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten in their 30s, Aaron Hernandez saddled with a substantial ankle injury (out six weeks?) and Washington's Fred Davis ceasing to be relevant after two games, the door is wide open for Pitta to become a week-in, week-out starter in 12-team leagues.

Especially if he's a reasonable bet for nine, 10 or 11 targets every Sunday.

Jay Clemons
can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.


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