Fantasy Football Week 2: Skill Players Who Will Build off of Strong Openers
Several of the best performers at skill positions are poised to continue their strong start to the 2013 NFL season by putting up big fantasy numbers in Week 2.
All three of the following analyzed players were risky to insert into starting lineups, because each was adapting to a new team and a new offensive scheme. Apparently the adjustment phase was as brief as training camp and the preseason, because this trio lit it up to begin the year.
Thanks to a combination of favorable matchups, a lack of alternative options within their respective offenses and their own abilities, look for the following players to build off of last week's momentous and monstrous outings.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan hasn't had a back like Bush at his disposal in his Detroit tenure, and he made full use of Bush's talents on Sunday against the NFC North-rival Minnesota Vikings.
Bush jammed his thumb early in the game and was in visible pain as trainers tended to him on the sidelines. However, he overcame that perceptive setback to remain in the game and thrive.
In his debut for the Lions, the 28-year-old had an electric 77-yard touchdown catch in which he did most of the work and ran for 90 yards on 21 carries.
The only red flag here fantasy-wise is that Joique Bell got two rushing TDs to Bush's zero, but Bush very nearly found the end zone on one short-yardage occasion, falling just a hair's width from the goal line on a reviewed scoring play.
Against the Arizona Cardinals this coming week, look for Bush to continue running well. The passing game should continue to be dynamic as long as Matthew Stafford has a clean pocket to throw from.
That shouldn't be a problem against a Cardinals defense that failed to record a sack in Week 1's 27-24 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Bush should be an integral part to the passing game in addition to running well between the tackles.
Projections: 20 carries, 100 yards, TD; 5 receptions, 45 yards
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
There was concern that a groin injury early on against the Buffalo Bills could already made Amendola a fixture on the sideline, but he reentered the game and wound up dominating.
Even Patriots superstar QB Tom Brady couldn't necessarily find a go-to target until Amendola's ascent in the final 30 minutes, and the newly acquired free agent proved worth the lucrative five-year contract.
Amendola had 10 receptions for 104 yards on 14 targets, compared to just four catches and 45 yards for fellow wideout Kenbrell Thompkins, who had the same number of balls thrown his way.
Nine of Amendola's grabs went for first downs, which will only allow Brady to trust his new weapon—and presumed Wes Welker replacement—even more.
Plus, running back Shane Vereen—who lit it up with 101 yards rushing and seven receptions in Buffalo—will undergo surgery for a broken bone in his wrist, per FOX Sports' Jay Glazer:
Big hit for patriots, RB Shane Vereen broke a small bone in his wrist on 1st play yesterday, scheduled for surgery today. Out few weeks— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 9, 2013
That will make the Patriots even more reliant on the passing game.
It's a short week, but the New York Jets come to Foxboro with rookie quarterback Geno Smith as the starter on Thursday.
That will be quite a challenge for a first-year QB to overcome, and the Jets' lack of a potent running game—Smith led the team with 47 yards in Week 1—will likely force the former West Virginia star into obvious passing situations.
As a result, the Patriots should control time of possession with an up-tempo, quick-strike aerial assault.
Brian Costello of the New York Post points out, too, that Jets nickel corner Kyle Wilson got only 20 snaps in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay:
Kyle Wilson only played 20 snaps (33 percent) as the Jets stayed in base defense most of the day. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) September 9, 2013
Running a base defense against the likes of Brady probably won't be something Jets head coach Rex Ryan does, and it isn't what has helped him give the Patriots problems in the past.
Wilson is likely to draw Amendola most often in the slot, but his limited reps could hurt him. Thus, Brady and Amendola should continue to be a devastating combination and push the Patriots to 2-0 on the season and in the AFC East.
Projections: 8 receptions, 115 yards, TD
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
Head coach Jeff Fisher and his former Tennessee Titans tight end have reunited in St. Louis, and that merging couldn't have gotten off to a better start in Week 1.
Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams' victory. If not for a magnificent hustle play by rookie Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu—who punched the ball out of Cook's hands—the dynamic tight end would have had a third score.
Quarterback Sam Bradford made the most of his new weapons in Cook and slot dynamo Tavon Austin, who had six receptions of his own on seven targets.
Who will have the biggest game in Week 2?
It will be a game in which the Rams could make a huge statement against a team that had the NFC's reigning No. 1 playoff seed. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will likely stick with what worked previously.
That means a heavy dose of Cook.
The Falcons let up seven receptions to the New Orleans Saints' tight end tandem of Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson in the opener.
Schottenheimer helped Dustin Keller blossom into an effective pass-catching tight end with the Jets, and will continue capitalizing on Cook's huge upside by designing plays around him this Sunday as well.
Projections: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 2 TDs
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