It’s hard to stay up to date with absolutely everything that went down in NFL Week 2. Obviously you know the big storylines—Derrick Henry bulldozing the entire Seattle Seahawks defense and Cooper Kupp continuing his WR1 season both immediately come to mind—but it’s important to also note minor storylines, ones that might have more actionable fantasy football takeaways.
I’ve gone game-by-game to bring you the biggest fantasy narrative to come out of each game.
Saints at Panthers: D.J. Moore Is Officially a WR1
For the second week in a row, Moore led all Carolina Panthers’ receivers in targets and catches. Against the New Orleans Saints, Moore caught 8-of-11 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. He is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Carolina and with Sam Darnold under center, he’s playing well up to top-12 status. Moore has frustrated fantasy managers in the past with his volatility but that doesn’t seem to be an issue to start 2021. His high-target share makes him a high-end WR2/low-end WR1 moving forward.
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
Also, don’t panic Alvin Kamara managers. The entire Saints’ offense struggled Sunday and I’m not worried about Kamara’s production given his usage was still elite. Take a deep breath and hold onto a guy who’s almost a lock to finish top-3 fantasy back.
Bengals at Bears: JUSTIN FIELDS SZN IS HERE
Andy Dalton left Sunday with a non-contact knee injury, which is always worrisome (luckily for Dalton the Chicago Bears don’t believe it’s ACL related). Ideally you’d hope Fields’ big start wouldn’t come because of an injury to Dalton, but here we are. Fields came in and led the Bears to a win, going 6-for-13 for 60 yards and a pick, plus 10 carries for 31 yards on the ground. Obviously there are growing pains to be expected but Fields has top-8 QB upside, especially if he continues to see 10+ rush attempts.
1. People easily miss what made Justin Fields' 10-yard scramble for the game-sealing 1st so great.
The broken tackle was one thing, but it was his awareness to get on the ground inbounds to keep the clock moving.
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) September 20, 2021
If Fields is available in your fantasy league, add him immediately. Dalton is likely to miss time and I don’t think he’s going to get the starting job back once Fields plays. This is also an uptick for Chicago’s pass catchers, most notably Darnell Mooney who saw team-high 8 targets Sunday, catching 6 for 66 yards. The Bears’ offense is about to get a whole lot more fun.
god i hate this team so damn much https://t.co/bXBxsUjDEC
— pete astronaut aboard the pitts-8 rocket rogers (@petemrogers) September 20, 2021
Texans at Browns: Cleveland’s Receivers Just Can’t Stay Healthy
With Odell Beckham Jr. still making his way back from his ACL injury, Jarvis Landry was set to have a huge Week 2 against a bad Houston Texans’ secondary. Instead, Landry left shortly into the game with a knee injury. With Landry out, the Browns’ passing game got funneled through their tight ends, with Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant seeing 12 of Baker Mayfield’s 19 completions. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Week 1 standout Anthony Schwartz would be in-line for more work if Landry misses games, but even with Landry off the field for most of Week 2, the wide receiver duo only saw two total targets.
Also, Tyrod Taylor, please be healthy. You are amazing and fun to watch. Also Brandin Cooks and his 48% target share needs you.
Rams at Colts: Darrell Henderson Got Injured, Michael Pittman Jr. Got Targets
Starting with the Los Angeles Rams, Darrell Henderson has had a terrific start to the 2021 season looking every bit the high-end RB2 people in the fantasy community hoped him to be. However, Henderson left Sunday’s game with a rib injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. In his stead, Sony Michel came in, carrying the rock for 46 yards on 10 attempts. If Henderson does miss time or is limited moving forward, Michel is a must-add player off waivers and could go right into your starting lineup depending on the severity of Henderson’s injury.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the football, Michael Pittman Jr. made his presence felt after a down Week 1. The Indianapolis Colts defacto WR1 finished the game with 12 targets, catching 8 for 123 yards. Pittman looked every bit the No. 1 receiver in Indy and while you’re not likely able to grab him off waivers, he has proven himself to be a trust-worth start moving forward.
Take a hit to make the play.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 19, 2021
Broncos at Jaguars: Melvin Gordon Is Still Denver’s RB1
While Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams posted similar stat-lines against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver’s backfield is still Gordon’s to command. The veteran running back played 41 snaps (almost 60%) to Williams’ 28 and was much more involved in the passing game, running 21 routes and seeing 2 targets. Williams ran half as many routes and only saw one target. Given that Williams is the rookie—and ran better Sunday—I would be surprised to see this split continue deep into the season. However for now, Gordon has the edge in terms of opportunity and that’s worth noting.
Also, don’t panic on James Robinson just yet. While it wasn’t a great game numbers-wise from him, he saw a much higher workload than he did in Week 1. Robinson had 14 total touches after recording just 8 against the Texans.
Bills at Dolphins: Let’s Hope for a Healthy Tua
Tua Tagovailoa was carted to the Miami Dolphins’ locker room early in the first quarter with a rib injury. Jacoby Brissett came in and went 24-of-40 for 169 yards and a pick. While receivers like DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle saw plenty of targets—Parker with nine, Waddle with eight—neither had over 50 yards receiving with Brissett under center. The Buffalo Bills defense looks good this year but clearly a healthy Tua is much better for the Dolphins both in real life and fantasy than relying on Brissett. Fingers crossed the rib injury isn’t serious.
Also, Emmanuel Sanders was second on the team in targets (6) and receiving yards (48). He’s 23% rostered in Sleeper leagues. Given how pass happy this Bills offense is, rostering any part of it, let alone one that could finish second in targets any given week, is a wise fantasy decision.
Patriots at Jets: Michael Carter’s Time Is Coming
I spent much of the off-season hyping up Michael Carter’s fantasy potential in New York and I think that time had finally come. After rolling out Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson ahead of Carter in Week 1, the rookie back split snaps and routes with Johnson (33 snaps, 15 routes a piece), leaving Coleman at the bottom of the depth chart (he’s a safe drop at this point). Carter led the backfield in both rushing and receiving yards, and out-touched Johnson by one against the New England Patriots Sunday. I’m betting Carter continues to see his role increase in the backfield as we move further into the season. Stash him now and enjoy later.
Michael Carter breaking all the tackles. #TakeFlight
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
49ers at Eagles: The Niners’ Backfield Is Both a Mess and Not a Mess
Rest assured, even in the mess that is the San Francisco 49ers’ backfield, waiver wire darling Elijah Mitchell is still the RB1. So don’t panic everyone who spent 100% of their FAAB to get him. Mitchell recorded 53 total yards on 19 touches and was the clear leader in snaps. However, in classic Niners fashion, Mitchell did leave the game with a shoulder injury. Trey Sermon filled in for him and promptly got a concussion and fumbled the ball. Oh, and backup running back JaMycal Hasty suffered an ankle injury.
It seems Mitchell’s injury isn’t serious and he should be good to go come Week 3. If Hasty misses time, then I guess Kerryon Johnson would be next in-line for touches. Anyways, the Niners’ backfield is in a state of chaos but out of that chaos could come a lot of clarity.
Also, Brandon Aiyuk was second among wide receivers in snaps played so that’s a good sign for the second-year receiver.
Raiders at Steelers: Inefficient Najee Harris Is Here To Stay
I picked Najee Harris as my roast running back in last week’s Roast & Ghost because I thought against a bad Las Vegas Raiders run defense, Harris’ insane volume would make him a top-10 back this week. I also thought the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line couldn’t be bad enough to lose to the Raiders. Welp, I was wrong.
Harris only managed 38 yards rushing on 10 carries but saved his day with 43 yards and a touchdown on 5 catches. Coming off the heels of a Week 1 performance where he rushed for just 45 yards on 16 attempts, it seems like volume is what’s going to carry Harris this season and not necessarily production. Just be aware Harris managers that he might not be the regular RB1 you drafted him to be, but more of a low-end RB2 with certainly a RB1 ceiling.
At least we know he has a Derrick Henry-esque stiff arm:
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) September 19, 2021
Also, Derek Carr is playing out of his mind and he should be doing it for your fantasy team.
Vikings at Cardinals: Rondale Moore & K.J. Osborn Are Must-Add Receivers
Both Rondale Moore and K.J. Osborn had strong Week 1 performances and then followed them up by going off in Week 2. Moore led the Arizona Cardinals in targets (8), yards (114), and tied in receptions (7). He did all this on the lowest snap count out of all the Cardinals receivers. With this breakout performance on in the books, Moore will both likely see more time to shine in Arizona’s offense and find his way onto a lot more fantasy rosters. This is your last time to add the rookie, I promise. Go do so.
Kyler Murray avoid the pressure, buys some time, and launches one to rookie WR Rondale Moore. 77-yard TD. pic.twitter.com/OpXelsc6da
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 19, 2021
While Osborn didn’t lead the Minnesota Vikings in targets or catches, he did lead them in yards with 91, thanks to a huge 64 yard touchdown grab he made to start the game. Still, seeing six targets is nothing to scoff at and he’s a terrific add in deep leagues if you’re in need of a high boom-or-bust receiver.
Falcons at Buccaneers: Cordarrelle Patterson’s Role Isn’t a Fluke
In Week 1 against the Eagles, Cordarrelle Patterson carried the ball 7 times for 54 yards while adding 13 through the air on 2 catches. Personally, while I love Patterson as a player, I didn’t take this performance too seriously as we’ve seen surprising performances like this from random players before in Week 1. I was clearly wrong as Patterson was again heavily involved in the Atlanta Falcons’ offense Sunday. Patterson ran the ball 7 times for 11 yards but this time did his damage through the air, catching 5-of-6 targets for 58 yards and a score.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 19, 2021
With the position flexibility Patterson offers in fantasy, he’s a terrific player to have on your fantasy roster. He might not be in “must-start” territory yet, but one more good game from him and he’ll certainly be locked-in as a weekly flex play in my book.
Cowboys at Chargers: Dallas Has a Two-Headed Rushing Attack
Tony Pollard showed out in a big way Sunday afternoon as the third-year back rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also did work in the passing game, catching all 3 of his targets for 31 yards. Pollard showed plenty of fantasy potential last year but the question was would the Dallas Cowboys feature him enough on a weekly basis for him to be a regular play. So far, that question has been answered.
Tony Pollard is that dude. pic.twitter.com/70GdBhyQdF
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 20, 2021
And don’t worry just yet Ezekiel Elliott managers. Zeke still got his Sunday and was the unquestioned No. 1 back. Zeke finished with 16 carries for 71 yards and a score of his own, plus 2 catches for 26 yards. He played over 70% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps and ran over three times as many routes then Pollard. Zeke is still the RB1 in Dallas.
Titans at Seahawks: Don’t Panic About A.J. Brown & D.K. Metcalf
It’s been relatively slow starts to the year for both A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf but fantasy managers shouldn’t panic. Just not yet at least. Both receivers led their respective teams in snaps and targets in Week 2. Both players are being involved in the offense, it’s just not all clicking yet. Brown especially had a couple of BAD drops this week which would have boosted his numbers quite a bit. If you’ve already got one (or both if you’re amazing) rostered in your league, stay patient with them. If someone in your league is panicking and looking to sell, buy low on either (or both if you’re amazing).
Chiefs at Ravens: Start Marquise Brown Weekly With Confidence
You have to go all the way back to Week 11 of last season to find a game in which Marquise Brown either didn’t score a touchdown or go over 80 yards receiving. That’s eight games over the course of two years. Brown finished 2020 on fire and has picked up in 2021 right where he left off. He’s had at least 6 catches, 69 yards and a touchdown in each game this year and leads the Baltimore Ravens in every major receiving category.
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) September 20, 2021
With Rashod Bateman out, Brown has proven himself to be the top playmaker in the Ravens’ passing game and should be started every week from here on out, especially with a game against the Detroit Lions next on the schedule.