Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season brought us unexpected surprises, like a New York Giants defense worth starting against quarterback Drew Brees. It also featured familiar fantasy trends—that Cam Newton guy can really put up points.
The second week introduced the fantasy world to new faces—hello, Corey Coleman—while hitting trusted favorites with the injury bug.
This past week also saw two more starting quarterbacks go down with injuries. New England Patriots fill-in Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a shoulder injury that could cause him to miss at least a week. The Cleveland Browns lost their second starter in two weeks when Josh McCown experienced a shoulder injury of his own.
We might have thought we had a solid grasp on the fantasy landscape at draft time, but it is constantly changing. How does that landscape look moving forward? We're going to take an early look at the immediate fantasy future along with Week 3 positional rankings.
Up: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan put up big numbers in Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders. Granted, the Raiders defense is a work in progress right now, but it was good to see Ryan play with efficiency and confidence.
He finished the game with 396 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
This week, Ryan and the Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints, a team whose defense is also maligned. Though New Orleans did put together a decent performance against the Giants this past week, the team is rated just 30th in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus.
Plus, Ryan gets to chuck the ball to Julio Jones, who had an injury scare Sunday but appears to be fine.
Down: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was having a wonderful 2015 season before he decided to play hero and broke his thumb following an interception. His return this season has yielded mixed results.
Dalton has racked up impressive yardage—366 yards in each of the past two games, to be exact—but he has been sacked eight times and has thrown just two touchdowns with one interception.
According to Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV Cincinnati, Dalton also got banged up a bit against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past week:
This week, he has to face the mighty Denver Broncos defense. Stay away.
Up: Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
As a rookie, San Diego Chargers back Melvin Gordon struggled to find the end zone. In fact, he didn't.
This year, Gordon has been playing a lot more like what was expected from the former first-round pick. He has 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground through two games and has also hauled in three passes.
This week, he faces an Indianapolis Colts defense that has allowed an average of 125.0 rushing yards per game, fourth-most in the league.
Gordon's value should also increase now that Danny Woodhead has been lost for the season to a torn ACL:
Down: Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson made quite a bit of noise in 2015 because of his ability to make plays in the passing game. He notched 61 catches as a rookie and totaled 913 combined rushing and receiving yards. In points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, he was a commodity.
Though Johnson already has seven receptions this season, his value took a big hit when the Browns lost their second starting quarterback of the year. Josh McCown appeared to have the Cleveland offense in a rhythm last week against the Baltimore Ravens before injuring his shoulder. He looks to be out for an extended period.
The Browns turn to rookie Cody Kessler now, which likely hurts the value of every pass-catcher on the roster.
|11||Odell Beckham Jr.||Giants|
Up: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
At various points in the 2015 season, then-rookie Stefon Diggs looked like he could be an emerging star for the Minnesota Vikings. So far this season, it appears that he is indeed headed for stardom.
This is terrific news for fantasy owners.
Through two weeks, Diggs has produced 16 receptions, 285 yards and a touchdown. He caught nine passes for 182 yards and a score from newly crowned starter Sam Bradford on Sunday. With Adrian Peterson likely out for an extended period, Bradford and Diggs will form the centerpiece of the Vikings offense.
Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has a lot of confidence in Bradford and likes what he has seen so far.
"I was impressed with pretty much everything he did," he said of Bradford, per Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press. "I thought he had great composure. I thought he had good control of things."
The Vikings face a tough challenge this week in Carolina, but expect Zimmer to attack the Panthers defense through the air.
Down: Chris Hogan, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots decided to snag wideout Chris Hogan away from the rival Buffalo Bills this offseason. For the first couple of weeks, it seemed like the move was paying off in a big way.
Hogan has seven receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown so far.
The problem for Hogan is that quarterback Tom Brady is still on suspension, and his replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, is expected to miss at least a week.
We're not saying to dump Hogan if he happens to be sitting on your roster, but you might want to examine other options for Week 3.
Up: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Tight end Delanie Walker was the most consistent pass-catcher on the Tennessee Titans roster last season, and he seems to be picking up right where he left off. Through two games, he has racked up nine receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
This week, Walker and the Titans get to host the Oakland Raiders, who have been terrible against the pass this season.
The Raiders have allowed an average of 404.0 yards passing per game thus far. Expect Walker to have a notable day.
Down: Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
Browns tight end Gary Barnidge was virtually matchup-proof in 2015, making him one of the most surprising fantasy stars of the year. Unfortunately, Barnidge is running out of guys to throw him the football.
It might be time to consider ignoring Barnidge until/unless Josh McCown returns to Cleveland's starting lineup.