Julius Thomas, Lamar Miller and Week Two Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers
There’s likely no more overreactionary time in fantasy football than Week One of the regular season. Knee-jerking is at an all-time high, and often times owners have a tendency to panic too soon. I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath, relax and calm down. Calvin Johnson, C.J. Spiller and Dez Bryant will be juuuust fine.
But, of course, there are always surprises, both good and bad. I’m not here to tell you whom you should be adding and dropping, but rather what to make of stock and value of guys based on roles, etc. moving forward. Make sense?
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders
Pryor was an intriguing preseason candidate to gain fantasy relevance in a starting role with the Raiders, and he didn’t disappoint in the least in Week One. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 217 yards with a TD and two picks, but the real story came with what Pryor did with his legs. He was one of just three players in Week One to top 100 rushing yards, gaining a total of 112 on 13 attempts.
He netted you 19 points in standard scoring leagues, which is very strong considering he only accounted for one touchdown. However, you do certainly have to take into account the fact that he was facing a Colts defense that doesn’t offer a ton in terms of resistance. On the plus side, though, don’t forget that the Raiders’ offensive line is not good, and his weapons are average, at best. Pryor made quite a bit out of nothing in Week One.
With a matchup against what appears to be a terrible Jaguars defense this week, Pryor may be worth a shot as your starter, considering who else you have on the roster.
Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions
Bell only got six carries against the Vikings, but boy did he make the most of them. Two of his six carries resulted in Bell landing in the end zone, while he also caught five passes for another 67 yards as the Lions racked-up 34 points against Minnesota.
However, Reggie Bush is clearly the featured back in the Detroit backfield, and he appears poised to put up a monster year, which will leave Bell picking up the scraps. If the scraps are that delicious, though, then he’s worth a spot on your fantasy roster. To expect this kind of production from a clear backup is a risky endeavor, of course, so don’t do it. But he was a solid pass-catcher for the Lions last year, too, so he does have some value, especially as a Flex in a PPR league.
Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
With all the uncertainty and the rash of injuries taking over the fleet of Patriots pass-catchers, Julian Edelman appears to be a beneficiary. Edelman caught seven passes for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Buffalo last week, and, while I wouldn’t be buying-in under normal circumstances, there could actually be more where this came from.
With Danny Amendola likely out, and Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski certainly out against the Jets on Thursday, it stands to reason that Edelman will be targeted early and often by Tom Brady once again. While the touchdown numbers are unreasonable to expect on a weekly basis, Edelman could catch a boatload of passes.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
We all saw this coming, right?
We knew Boldin would be involved in the Niners’ passing game this season, especially without Michael Crabtree, but 13 catches for 208 yards with a touchdown? That’s crazy talk.
Suddenly, Boldin has gone from potentially-decent WR3 to a guy I’d be confident starting as a WR2 on a weekly basis. He’s obviously not going to be putting up those kinds of totals every week, but it’s reasonable to expect he’ll be a massive weapon for Colin Kaepernick. He’s sure-handed, runs crisp routes and seems to find holes in opposing defenses with regularity.
Considering the only other viable pass-catching option currently on the active roster is Vernon Davis, Boldin will be involved a ton. Start, start, start.
Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos
Honorable mention here goes to Jared Cook, who looks like the real deal for the Rams, but more people expected his performance than expected Thomas’. The Broncos’ new starting tight end played a major role in Peyton Manning’s record-breaking game against the Ravens, as he reeled-in five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Again, he’s probably not going to suddenly become Jimmy Graham or anything, but he’s a big, athletic target that’s clearly earned his way into Manning’s circle of trust. He has a favorable matchup this week against the Giants, as well, who allowed Jason Witten to score on them twice last week.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
I wasn’t expecting Big Ben to come out this season and suddenly reassert himself as a fantasy QB1 or anything, but the Steelers’ offense looked more inept than anyone could’ve expected against the Titans last week.
Without Le’Veon Bell, there’s very little talent in the Pittsburgh backfield, and Ben clearly missed Mike Wallace in the passing game, as well. Antonio Brown is a nice player, but he’s probably not a good enough talent to be a No. 1 option, while Emmanuel Sanders and Markus Wheaton are young guys with upside. We’ll see if Sanders is ready to break-out, but Wheaton will likely need some time.
Also factor in that he was without his reliable tight end, Heath Miller, although Miller could return Monday night against Cincinnati. While Miller coming back would certainly help, the Steelers’ offensive line is shaky (especially with Maurkice Pouncey done for the year), and Miller’s presence alone won’t suddenly turn this offense into the ’07 Patriots.
Ben was probably nothing more than a backup, anyway, but now I’d imagine there are several other better backups you can find.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Big things are expected of Miller this season, as the Dolphins essentially tabbed him as the successor to Reggie Bush way back in April. Unfortunately, his debut as “the guy” couldn’t have gone much worse. Miller ran for a grand total of three yards on 10 carries against the Browns on Sunday. However, the Browns appear to have a talented young defensive front, and it’s not like Daniel Thomas enjoyed much more success than Miller did (eight carries, 14 yards).
Due to the fact that it’s essentially impossible to perform any worse in that area as a team than Miami did, it’s not time to panic. For all we know, this installment of the Browns could turn out to be the best run defense of all time. Probably not, but you never know.
The role will still be there for Miller this week against the Colts, and there’s reason for optimism, as I touched upon the shakiness of Indy’s defense above. Due to the scarcity of productive running backs in fantasy, you probably can’t afford to be giving up on Miller, anyway. If you have more proven backs, then I may start them this week instead, but I still think Miller will show he can be a capable RB2 this season. He’s very unproven still, of course, so temper the optimism for now.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
Wilson was set-up to have a monster year. He looked phenomenal in the preseason, and he was assured of the starting job after Andre Brown went down with a broken leg in the final preseason game. However, his debut against the Cowboys was a complete disaster, as he lost two fumbles and was promptly benched for the remainder of the game by Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin hasn’t said whether or not Wilson’s role will be diminished this week when New York hosts the Broncos, but the trust is clearly iffy at this point. Fortunately, Wilson only fumbled once all year last season (albeit in a substantially smaller role), so it’s not like he’s a complete disaster with the ball in his hands. Also, the Cowboys players made great plays in stripping Wilson, and it’s not like he was being completely reckless with the ball.
But it’s probably time to pump the brakes on his expectations, just a bit. I’m sure he’ll still be involved quite a bit, but Coughlin will likely give a few plays to backups DaRel Scott and the newly-signed Brandon Jacobs.
Like with Miller, it’s WAY too early to be throwing up the white flag on Wilson, but he may take more time to break-out than originally expected.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Jones enjoyed a breakout campaign in ’12, catching 64 passes for 784 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns, which were all career-highs. But in the first game against the 49ers, Jones did nothing of the sort. Actually, he did nothing at all.
Jones had zero catches in that game, and was targeted by Aaron Rodgers exactly zero times, too. Big games were had by Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, rendering Jones completely useless. While he’s not completely useless due to his talent and the high-flying offense he’s playing with, I’m not comfortable starting him until he actually, ya know, does something.
The Packers will be hosting the Redskins this week, and we just saw the Redskins get torched by the up-tempo Eagles on Monday Night Football. I’d expect something from Jones here, just not too much.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
White was extremely limited by a sprained ankle in Week One, and he finished the loss to the Saints with just two catches for 19 yards on two targets. Ankle injuries have a tendency to linger, and White himself has said he’s not sure he’ll be 100% in Week Two against the Rams.
White is way too productive and too important to the Falcons for you to be getting rid of him, but you may be best served seeking a temporary replacement until he’s completely healthy.
When he is back to full strength, get him back into your lineup.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
Kevin Roberts dubbed him with the dubious nickname “Dudfeld” on Monday, which, like totally made me LOL! But seriously, “Dud” might be an understatement for the Pats’ TE after Sunday’s performance.
The man replacing Rob Gronkowski was thrown-to just once by Tom Brady, and that resulted in a bobble and subsequent interception. He played just 19 plays before leaving the game with a hamstring injury, and we’re not even sure if he’ll be in the lineup when New England hosts the Jets on Thursday. And, frankly, we don’t really care.
One game of exactly zero fantasy points was enough for us to jump off the Sudfeld fantasy bandwagon. There are plenty of useful tight ends out there for you to find, and you’re a sap if you were banking on more than two or three weeks of decent production from him, anyway. Gronk will be back soon, and his return would’ve bumped Sudfeld anyway, barring some outstanding performances.
Nice knowing ya, Dudfeld.