Week 2 fantasy football winners and losers — Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Fitzpatrick rewriting the record books — NFL


As we do each week, we recap the week’s winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.WinnersPLAYERYEARTEAMFPTSRyan Fitzpatrick2018TB72.3Patrick Mahomes2018KC67.1Peyton Manning2013DEN66.3Tom Brady2011NE64.2George Blanda1960HOU64.0Charley Johnson1965STL60.3Michael Vick2013PHI59.8Aaron Rodgers2013GB59.5Drew Brees2009NO58.7Steve Young1998SF58.3Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs look like geniuses, first for selecting Mahomes 10th overall in the 2017 NFL draft knowing full well he’d serve as Alex Smith’s backup for the entirety of his rookie season, then for trading Smith in January to pave the way for Mahomes to take over, despite Smith having enjoyed a career year in 2017. Mahomes has been the real deal through his first three career NFL starts — the first came in Week 17 of last season — but it’s his Weeks 1-2 performances this year that are far and away the top story in fantasy football. He finished second among quarterbacks in fantasy points (through the 1 p.m. ET games) in Week 2 with 38.8, which gives him 67.1 through the first two weeks of the season. That’s the second most by any quarterback since 1950, and his 10 passing touchdowns through two games are also a record during the Super Bowl era. Naturally, Mahomes isn’t going to maintain an 80-touchdown, zero-interception seasonal pace, but he is the real deal, with his cannon arm and bevy of big-play receivers to which to throw. He’s now a locked-in weekly starter.Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The only reason Mahomes doesn’t now top the aforementioned list of fantasy points by a quarterback through Week 2 is that this guy does, as Fitzpatrick, the star of Week 1, followed it up with another eye-popping effort, as Fitzpatrick’s 30.0 fantasy points gave him 72.3 through two games. What’s more, he has done this while facing a pair of defenses that were expected to have stingy pass defenses in the New Orleans Saints (on the road, no less, in Week 1) and Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2). Fitzpatrick has taken his Buccaneers to 2-0, rekindling the debate as to whether he or Jameis Winston should be the team’s starter once the later returns from suspension in Week 4, and frankly, there’s no denying the answer to that question today is “Fitzpatrick.” For fantasy, regression is obviously coming, but he needs to be rostered in a lot more than the 26.0 percent and started in more than the 9.1 percent of ESPN leagues he was on Sunday.Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: That’s back-to-back outstanding games for Gordon, who did most of his damage during the first half as well as — for the second consecutive week — via the receiving game. He scored a position-best (during the 1 p.m. ET games) 30.6 PPR fantasy points, marking only the second time in his career that he has scored at least 25 in consecutive games (2017 Weeks 5-6), and giving him 58.2 as well as 15 receptions through his first two games of the season. While Gordon did capitalize upon two extremely favorable matchups (KC, @BUF) to begin the season and now faces a much tougher matchup in Week 3 (@LAR), his involvement in the receiving game is an extremely encouraging sign for his full-season value. He’s a locked-in RB1.PLAYERYEARTEAMFPTSAndre Rison1994ATL81.6Jimmy Smith2000JAX79.3Charley Hennigan1962HOU76.7Henry Ellard1989LAN73.9Rod Smith2001DEN71.1James Lofton1983GB70.5Tim Brown1997OAK70.2Michael Thomas2018NO68.9Marvin Harrison1999IND67.6Crazy Legs Hirsch1951LAN67.5Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: Among the many “hot starting” feats accomplished on Sunday was Thomas’ 12 receptions, giving him an NFL-record 28 through his first two games of 2018, breaking Andre Rison’s 24-year-old record (26) set in 1994. From a fantasy perspective, Thomas’ performance in the first two weeks has also been historically impressive, as his 68.9 PPR points earns him a spot on the list among the 10 best wide receivers since 1950 (see right). Drew Brees has been targeting Thomas as often — and more, actually, if you consider his targets seasonal pace is now 240 — as he did in 2017, making the wide receiver one of the most reliable weekly plays in the game.Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: Whew, silence the alarm bells. Just a week after he tallied 1.6 PPR fantasy points, the third-fewest in a game in his NFL career, Kelce rebounded with a tops-among-tight-ends — and second-best in his own career — 29.9 points on Sunday. Most encouraging was that Mahomes targeted Kelce on deeper throws on both the tight end’s 19- and 25-yard touchdowns, as well as on another 31-yard reception during the third quarter. Kelce remains a critical part of this offense, has a quarterback with a cannon arm, and should be locked into every lineup weekly.A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: The star of this week’s Thursday Night Football game, Green scored three receiving touchdowns, the first time in his career that he had managed that many in a single contest. Those amounted to three of his five catches (on nine targets), however, so Green’s final total was 29.9 PPR fantasy points, still fifth-best among wide receivers (though Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games). He now has 49.1 PPR fantasy points through two games, which is the most he has had through that many in his eight NFL seasons.Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: There’s that breakthrough game for the second-year player, as McCaffrey’s 27.9 PPR fantasy points set a personal best for him, as did his 14 receptions and 15 targets. McCaffrey, the No. 17 player selected on average during the preseason (18.3 average pick), continues to be one of the most reliable weekly options in PPR leagues thanks to his receiving ability. He faces the Bengals next.O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers: Though his wasn’t the highest PPR fantasy point total among tight ends, nor close to it, his 18.6 points were a rather promising sign for his future value. It was Howard’s 75-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter that seemed to seize momentum for the Buccaneers in an eventual victory, and he was also Fitzpatrick’s clear tight end of choice on Sunday, as Cameron Brate managed nary a target in the game. We’ll see what the postgame snap and route counts bring, but keep in mind that Howard ran more routes (12-10) and played twice as many snaps (42-21) as Brate in Week 1, signaling that the second-year player is Fitzpatrick’s preferred option between the two. And with Fitzpatrick looking more and more like the Buccaneers’ long-term starter, that could be great news for Howard, who should be one of the week’s more popular pickups.Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Want an eerie statistic? Diggs faced the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the 2016 and 2018 seasons, and he scored 33.2 PPR fantasy points in the former, and 35.9 in the latter this Sunday. That represented the second-best single-game effort of his career, and it topped all wide receivers from the 1 p.m. ET games. Better yet, teammate Adam Thielen also managed 30-plus fantasy points, scoring 31.1 of his own in the same game (keep in mind it went the distance in overtime in an eventual tie). The Vikings face the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, which is another favorable matchup for the duo, though the team might not need to throw quite so often in that one.Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: For the 12th time in his 15-year, 202-game NFL career, Roethlisberger reached the 30-point fantasy threshold, the eighth most by any quarterback in the game’s history. Unfortunately, while this one seemed like destiny considering how his game against the Chiefs and Mahomes unfolded in the first quarter, few could’ve seen it coming in advance, evidenced by his 57.0 start percentage in ESPN leagues, only barely top-10. Roethlisberger topped all quarterbacks with 39.0 fantasy points, thanks in large part to his attempting a whopping 60 passes, the second-most he has had in his career (66, 2017 Week 14). Don’t expect him to be asked to throw nearly that often most weeks, but he’s again a worthwhile starter in Week 3 when he faces the Buccaneers.LosersDuke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns: He’s off to a completely forgettable start to a season in which he was drafted 72nd overall (and RB28) on average (77.1 average pick), his 3.0 PPR fantasy points on Sunday giving him a second consecutive week finishing beneath four. To put that into perspective, Johnson scored at least four fantasy points in 15 of his 16 games last season, and at least 10 points in 12 of those contests. One might’ve thought he would see an increase in receiving work with Josh Gordon scratched, but Johnson saw only two targets in addition to his three rushing attempts on Sunday.Baltimore Ravens defense/special teams: Historically speaking, Thursday Night Football games have had a reputation for being low-scoring, defensively minded affairs. That hasn’t been quite as much the case between this and last season, with teams combining to average 46.6 (scoreboard) points per game, compared to 44.4 in the 10 seasons that preceded those (2007-16). The Ravens defense/special teams was just the latest high-profile defense — they were the second most-started D/ST of the week in ESPN leagues (88.1 percent) — scoring minus-2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. That represented a real let-down compared to the team’s 17-point opener against the Buffalo Bills, and it casts some doubt upon the defense’s trustworthiness in future matchups against tougher matchups like Week 4 at the Pittsburgh Steelers and Week 7 versus the New Orleans Saints.Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: While a 11.4 point fantasy performance is hardly catastrophic, to put it into perspective, 16 of the 18 quarterbacks to start during the Sunday 1 p.m. ET games scored more than that. Luck’s fantasy stock had seemed on the rise in recent weeks, his preseason ADP improving to eighth among quarterbacks and 79th overall (83.1 average pick) as of the Sept. 6, kickoff, and he was started in 61.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 2. This was a step backward for him, and he now has three interceptions through two weeks, casting some doubt upon his usefulness in 10- and 12-leagues with games against the Eagles, Houston Texans and New England Patriots due up the next three weeks.Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Though his late-preseason signing with the Chargers forgives him somewhat his sluggish start, a zero-PPR-points-on-1-target in fantasy terms isn’t going to keep him around on many rosters. Gates has now been shut out (or provided a negative score) in four of his past nine regular-season games and he now goes up against the Rams.Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: As Luck goes, so, often, does his tight end. Doyle’s 4.0 PPR fantasy points represented one of the position’s bigger disappointments from the 1 p.m. ET games, especially considering fellow Colts tight end Eric Ebron was the one who had the touchdown, a 11.6 point score and only one fewer target (5-4). This was Doyle’s fifth-worst score from the past three seasons (2016-18), and it was a sign that Luck seems likely to split up the position’s workload between the two players.Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He makes the list for the second consecutive week, not that the Buccaneers are hurting for it. Interestingly enough, Ronald Jones, Barber’s projected backup (and originally expected to challenge him for starting duties) was inactive for a second straight week. Barber scored just 3.9 PPR fantasy points as the Buccaneers spent much of the day throwing, though his 1.4 yards-per-carry average on 16 attempts was rather disappointing even in light of the bad matchup. There could soon be competition for carries in Tampa.



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