Since 2015, Bryant has been an underwhelming fantasy football player. He hasn’t caught more than 69 passes in a season since then, nor has he gained more than 838 yards through the air. Bryant has had injury issues, including a broken foot in 2015 and a tibial plateau fracture in 2016.
He finishes his stint with Dallas as their top touchdown receiver with 73. He’s third in total receptions (513) for the franchise and is fifth in receiving yards (7,459).
Wherever Bryant ends up, it has to be remembered that he’s been drafted too high in the last two seasons. The only way he should be on your roster is if he ends up with a top-tier quarterback and you don’t pay too much for him. If he ends up being a primary red zone target, he could be a great value as a WR2.
As for the Cowboys, Allen Hurns gets a big boost by this move. They could still draft a top rookie wideout like Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton or D.J. Moore, however. If that happens, Hurns could still end up the best wideout for Dallas, but I think his ceiling is a midrange WR2. If the Cowboys draft defense, then his upside increases a bit.
The early fantasy football season continues to offer up surprises to go along with some depressing news for fantasy owners.
Here’s a look at Week 2’s notable developments.
If you thought Travis Benjamin, Stefon Diggs and Corey Coleman would be the top fantasy receivers in Week 2 then you deserve to be congratulated. Benjamin filled the void left by Keenan Allen, catching six passes for 115 yards and two scores for the Chargers. Diggs continued to solidify himself as the no. 1 receiver in Minnesota as he hauled in nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. The rookie Coleman caught five balls for 104 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.
In addition to those somewhat surprising results, there were quite a few bounce-back performances in Week 2.
Dez Bryant caught seven passes for 102 yards to make up for a terrible start to the season. Brandon Marshall also eclipsed 100 yards receiving on Thursday night after a bad first week.
Though Cam Newton did fine in Week 1, his performance in Week 2 reminded us of how great he was last year. He threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns while adding 37 rushing yards.
Another quarterback who flashed some signs from last season was Tyrod Taylor, who had 297 yards passing, three touchdowns and 25 yards rushing.
There were a few surprising performances in the first week of the season, but Week 2 proved that a few of those players were no frauds.
Will Fuller continues to impress for the Texans as he’s the first first-round pick to have 100 yards receiving in each of his first two NFL games. Another rookie that continued to put up good numbers was the Giants’ Sterling Shepard who caught 8 passes on 8 targets for 117 yards.
On the running back front, doubters of Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray were shut up for the second week in a row. Forte scored three touchdowns and gained 100 yards on Thursday for the Jets while Murray gained 145 total yards for the Titans. Melvin Gordon paid off again as he rushed for 102 yards and scored a touchdown.
I was high on Derek Carr as the season started and he’s proving to be a top-8 quarterback so far this season. He had 299 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in Week 2.
Despite the continued success of some Week 1 heroes, Week 2 was a nightmare for a lot of fantasy owners. If you got through the weekend unscathed consider yourself lucky.
Seven fantasy running back starters were injured in Week 2. The biggest of them all was Adrian Peterson, who left the Sunday night contest with an apparent knee injury. He left the game having rushed for just 19 yards on 12 carries.
Another big blow came earlier in the day when Danny Woodhead was carted off the field in the Chargers game against the Jaguars in the first quarter. He’d already gained 27 yards on three carries as he was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game with top wideout Allen out for an extended period.
Thomas Rawls, Jonathan Stewart, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah and (big surprise) Arian Foster all went out with injuries on Sunday.
Here’s a look to the waiver wire for some help:
Dwayne Washington, Lions (4 touches-31 yards)
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings (3-1)
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay (12-28)
Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers (19-131)
Chris Johnson, Cardinals (16-54, TD)
Kenyon Drake, Dolphins (4-18, TD)
Sam Bradford, Vikings (286 yards, 2 TDs)
Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.
Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit in your upcoming fantasy matchups.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks — Seahawks-Rams likely will be a low-scoring affair as neither offense has looked great. The Seahawks will try to control the clock with their running game, especially with Russell Wilson dealing with an ankle injury. Rawls had nearly as many touches as Christine Michael last week and was named the starter for Week 2.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants — He had 19 touches last weekend in the win over the Cowboys and finished with 78 total yards. This week, he gets to face a Saints defense that is second worst in points allowed to running backs. I bet he gets into the end zone.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles — The play of Carson Wentz last week against the Browns made Matthews a top-six receiver in fantasy scoring. They’ll face the Bears, who are 23rd in points allowed to receivers.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers — Melvin Gordon scored twice last week? Well, Woodhead had more touches and more yards from scrimmage in addition to one score. Last year without Keenan Allen, Woodhead led the Chargers in receptions.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns — He had a breakout season last year, but his dismal start last week might have you ready to cut ties. Don’t be so hasty, though. He had Robert Griffin III at the helm in the opener, but with Josh McCown now starting, Barnidge may have new life. They have a solid rapport going back to last year.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers — The “slimmed-down” talk ended after it appeared that he had trouble getting a lot going against the Jaguars last week. He had just 15 touches and will face a Vikings defense that allowed only 45 yards rushing in the opener.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers — Last year, he killed the Vikings to open the season. This year, he scored twice against what was thought to be a solid Rams defense. I’m not a believer yet, and he faces a Panthers defense that looks to bounce back after giving up a great game to C.J. Anderson.
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs — I wouldn’t count on him having 363 yards passing and three touchdowns against the Texans, who are eighth best in points allowed to quarterbacks.
Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals — He faces a good Steelers run defense and hasn’t fared well against it in the past. Jeremy Hill probably has more of an opportunity to score should the Bengals get into a goal-line situation.
Any receiver facing the Ravens, Seahawks or Panthers — Got a Browns wideout? Leave him on the bench. Tavon Austin owner? Maybe next time, pal. Hopeful for points from Torrey Smith? Give it up.
No man’s land
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams — There’s no way you can sit Gurley, but you really wish you could, given that his team’s one-dimensional offense has to face the Seahawks. If the passing attack doesn’t take the pressure off of him, it could be a long day.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys — You probably used a first or early second-round pick on him and, as a result, have to start him. Dak Prescott makes no bones about hitting the check-down receiver instead of taking chances on his biggest playmaker so you’ll just have to cross your fingers.
Full disclosure, I went 0-2 in my leagues this week. It’s not the kind of start you want to see out of your trusted fantasy guru. In fantasy football there is the right play and there’s the winning play. They’re not always one and the same.
In one league I faced Drew Brees and Spencer Ware. Brees was the second-highest scoring quarterback, behind Andrew Luck, while Ware was the second highest scoring running back in Week 1.
In another league, the Office Football League here at the Statesman, I went up against DeAngelo Williams, the highest scoring running back in Week 1, in addition to Brandin Cooks and Antonio Brown. Cooks was the highest scoring receiver of the week while Brown was third best. Congratulations to Kirk Bohls on his near record-setting performance (191 points!) in the OFL.
Losing both of these games had me originally thinking about making some pickups or changing my lineup. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m going to touch a thing in one of these leagues.
Here’s my lineup from Week 1 in the OFL (standard + 6-points for TD passes, one point per two receptions):
QB: Jameis Winston
RB: David Johnson
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Mike Evans
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Antonio Gates
Flex: Demaryius Thomas
K: Dan Bailey
Bench: Philip Rivers, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, Laquon Treadwell, Tyler Boyd, Tajae Sharpe, Michael Thomas, Tyler Eifert.
There’s a lot of youth on my bench in this keeper league, but I don’t see replacing what I’ve got in my lineup. Maybe I could go with DeMarco Murray instead of Thomas at my flex, but is the top receiver in Denver really going to be held to 48 yards again? Benching Marshall seems like a bad move as well since he was targeted a decent amount of times (8) on his way to just 32 yards receiving.
In the other league I’m in I may actually end up tinkering a little bit.
Here’s that league’s lineup (standard + 6-points for TD passes):
QB: Derek Carr
RB: David Johnson
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
Flex: Christine Michael
K: Chris Boswell
Bench: Melvin Gordon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard.
I went with Michael in response to him getting the start over a recovering Thomas Rawls. Rawls did end up playing, however, and had just two fewer touches than Michael. I had to see Gordon produce well before I started him in my lineup. He did great in Week 1, though he had fewer touches than Danny Woodhead, so I’ll probably give him a shot in Week 2. I also like Sterling Shepard’s matchup with the Saints so I may sit Maclin this week.
Dez Bryant had a week to forget, but you’d think the coaching staff would make sure he gets a lot more targets in Week 2.
Let me know what you think @AAS_Cat. Would you tinker with either lineup?
The fantasy football season opened up the throttle on Sunday, and there were definitely some high-octane performances.
Andrew Luck started his attempt at a bounce-back year with a stellar performance; he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover. Drew Brees might have been the top scorer of the week had he not lost a fumble. He threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yard score to Brandin Cooks. And A.J. Green had a brilliant start, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.
The best performance by a running back came from the waiver wire pickup of the week, Spencer Ware. Once word got out that Jamaal Charles wasn’t quite ready, owners rushed to pick up his main backup before the season kicked off.
Ware didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching seven passes for an additional 129 yards.
At the tight end spot, both of the Colts’ ends found paydirt. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jack Doyle had three catches for 35 yards and two scores.
The top defense of the week started slow but turned it on in the second half. Minnesota allowed 16 points to the Titans but forced three turnovers and added two sacks in addition to scoring two touchdowns.
It wasn’t all positive in the fantasy world. Quite a few players had some games to forget:
At the top of that list has to be Dez Bryant, who caught just one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants. He had a touchdown called back when it was reviewed and determined that he didn’t control the ball before touching out of bounds in the end zone.
Brandon Marshall, the top option for the Jets, had just three catches for 32 yards despite being targeted eight times.
Sammy Watkins also disappointed as he caught four passes for 43 yards. Additionally, Tyler Lockett, who was expected to break out for the Seahawks, had just three catches for 17 yards.
At running back, we saw Devonta Freeman produce just 40 total yards as Tevin Coleman gained 117 yards on 13 touches for the Falcons.
In Tennessee, Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards as the Titans were able to key on the run with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings.
A striking theme from Sunday was the great performances from second-year players. Jameis Winston, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Donte Moncrief and Stefon Diggs all produced well to start their sophomore seasons.
Cooks, also in his second season, had 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately we saw Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL after catching six passes for 63 yards. And word broke on Monday that Robert Griffin III could be done for the season with a shoulder fracture. Russell Wilson also has a sprained ankle to be monitored.
With that, look to the waiver wire:
Alex Smith, Chiefs (363 passing yards, 3 total TDs)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (278, TD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots (264, TD)
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (227, 0 turnovers)
Will Fuller, Texans (5 catches, 107 yards, TD)
Mike Wallace, Ravens (6-91, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots (60, TD)
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (57, TD)
Sterling Shepard, Giants (43, TD)
Victor Cruz, Giants (34, TD)
Tajae Sharpe, Titans (7-76)
Michael Thomas, Saints (6-58)
The NFL season starts Thursday night as the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. With that kickoff, another fantasy football season gets underway.
Even if you’re not a fan of either team, it’s likely you’ll still be watching closely as a fantasy football owner.
If you drafted Cam Newton, you’ll be a Panthers fan for at least this season. And you’ll be rooting for the Broncos if you picked up Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s top wideout.
The opener represents a tough matchup for both of those players. Newton will have to withstand solid pressure from the Broncos’ pass rush while Thomas will have to help break in a new quarterback while also getting over last year’s case of the drops.
Regardless, both players have to be considered must-starts, alongside Greg Olsen and both defenses.
Moving on to Sunday’s action, one of the best matchups will pit Derek Carr against the Saints pass defense. The game is indoors, and Carr has Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray at his disposal. The third-year quarterback finished just outside the top-12 in standard leagues last season, and I expect him to enter that QB1 status this season.
Another great situation this week could be the Chiefs’ Spencer Ware facing the San Diego run defense. The Chargers were 29th in points allowed to running backs last season, and Ware is getting the start for Jamaal Charles, who continues to recover from a torn ACL.
Switching to wide receivers, there’s no doubt that Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins will be must-starts all season, but don’t forget about Dez Bryant just because his starting quarterback is sidelined. Bryant is a proud competitor and desperately wants to show the NFL that he’s still a top-tier wideout.
He faces a Giants pass defense that was 26th in points allowed to wide receivers last season. And rookie quarterbacks like Dak Prescott tend to rely on their star players whereas veterans like Tony Romo will try to get the ball to the open receiver. Prescott may do well to just give Bryant chances to make plays.
On the other side of the coin, Alshon Jeffery will face a tough defense this week. I’m not sold on him returning to previous form after an injury-plagued 2015 season. The Texans were fifth best in slowing receivers in fantasy scoring last year.
One running back I’d avoid starting this week would be Jeremy Hill. He’ll definitely split time with Gio Bernard and he’s facing the Jets, who were third best in points allowed to running backs last season. I do expect him to deliver more even output this season, not just one reliant on goal-line plays, but this is a bad matchup for him.
Finally, you may have to sit a typically solid fantasy quarterback if you’re a Philip Rivers owner. He’s not projected to do well against a good Chiefs defense that was fifth best in points allowed to quarterbacks last season. The Chiefs will be without Justin Houston, who is out with a knee injury, but if you have another QB with a better matchup, make that play instead.
It’s the final weekend before the fantasy football season kicks off. Here’s a look at my position rankings for the upcoming season. For quarterbacks I’ve listed two deep for a 12-team league. I’ve listed three deep for running backs and four deep for wide receivers. I’ve also listed the top 12 tight ends and defense/special teams.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Cam Newton, Panthers—I don’t think he’ll be quite as productive as he was last year, which is why I have him behind Aaron Rodgers.
3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
4. Andrew Luck, Colts
5. Drew Brees, Saints
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
7. Tom Brady, Patriots
8. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
9. Carson Palmer, Cardinals—I’ve dropped him a couple of spots from the last time out because he hasn’t looked great in preseason. Plus there’s always the fear of him getting hurt. If he stays healthy, he’s got the weapons to end up as a top-5 quarterback.
10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Philip Rivers, Chargers
12. Derek Carr, Raiders
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
14. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
15. Kirk Cousins, Redskins
16. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
17. Matthew Stafford, Lions
18. Andy Dalton, Bengals
19. Marcus Mariota, Titans
20. Matt Ryan, Falcons
21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
22. Alex Smith, Chiefs
23. Jay Cutler, Bears
24. Brock Osweiler, Texans
1. David Johnson, Cardinals—I think he has the potential to be the best back in the league. That said, he will probably not be the first running back taken in your draft. If not, make sure you don’t pass him up.
2. Todd Gurley, Rams
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
5. Lamar Miller, Texans
6. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
7. Eddie Lacy, Packers
8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
9. Mark Ingram, Saints
10. LeSean McCoy, Bills
11. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
12. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos
14. Latavius Murray, Raiders
15. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
16. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
17. Matt Forte, Jets
18. DeMarco Murray, Titans
19. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
20. Jeremy Langford, Bears
21. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
22. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
23. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
24. Frank Gore, Colts
25. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
26. Arian Foster, Dolphins
27. Matt Jones, Redskins
28. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
29. Gio Bernard, Bengals
30. Derrick Henry, Titans
31. Rashad Jennings, Giants
32. Duke Johnson, Browns
33. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
34. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
35. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
36. Christine Michael, Seahawks
1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
2. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
3. Julio Jones, Falcons
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Really excited to see what he can do with Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong and Braxton Miller spreading the defense thin.
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Jordan Reed, Redskins
3. Greg Olsen, Panthers
4. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
5. Delanie Walker, Titans
6. Coby Fleener, Saints
7. Gary Barnidge, Browns—He may not duplicate last year’s numbers, but Robert Griffin III could use him as a security blanket.
8. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
9. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
10. Antonio Gates, Chargers
11. Zach Ertz, Eagles
12. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
5. Texans—They’ve got a Week 1 matchup against a hurting Bears offense and J.J. Watt may be healthy enough to play by then.