With Joe Mixon out, Bernard steps up as a solid RB2
The second week of the fantasy season affirmed some questions from Week 1 (is Patrick Mahomes for real?) and raised others (is Amari Cooper back?). For fantasy owners, some clarity was provided but trying to decide who to start and who to sit may still be a challenge.
As the season progresses, fantasy owners gather more data. They learn more about defenses and the usage of different players. Hopefully fantasy owners also are tracking targets, as this is a way to determine how involved a player is in the team’s offense. Based on all of this data, rankings are compiled. From there, it can be determined if the rankings have room for players to move about.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide. You also can see how my Week 2 calls turned out at the bottom.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
In the past two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed over 400 touchdowns and three passing touchdowns to both quarterbacks they faced (Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger). Garoppolo hasn’t been throwing the ball as much as he has in the past (33 attempts in Week 1 and 26 in Week 2). However, the Chiefs have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season, and Garoppolo should be throwing the ball more this game. Hopefully, Marquise Goodwin will be active, as that will help Garoppolo as well. He’s ranked No. 7 but could crack into the Top 5.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
After the Thursday night game in Week 2, it was announced that Joe Mixon needed to have a knee scope and would miss 2-4 weeks. This paves the way for Bernard to step in as the No. 1 running back in Cincinnati. The Bengals have given him plenty of work when Mixon has been out in the past, and this should be no exception. Bernard is ranked No. 15, putting him solidly in RB2 territory. He’ll be a RB2 while Mixon is out but he should exceed that ranking in Week 3.
Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers
While the Kansas City Chiefs give up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, they give up the second-most points to opposing running backs. Breida had the same amount of carries in both Week 1 and Week 2, but in Week 2, he managed 138 yards on his 11 carries (and a touchdown). He’s still technically behind Alfred Morris on the depth chart, but it seems like this backfield should belong to Breida. With performances like Week 2, he deserves to have more carries. He’s ranked No. 21, but he’s a solid RB2.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Even though he had seven receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown, Cole’s Week 2 highlight reel catch is what he is making headlines for. Either way, Cole showed that he has potential to be a No. 1 receiver on a team that desperately needs one. In Week 3, the Jags play the Titans, who allowed touchdowns to both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2 and two touchdowns to Kenny Stills in Week 1. Cole is ranked No. 32 but he has the potential to finish as a WR2.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks
Garbage time points count just the same as regular time points. Sure, Dissly’s Week 2 stats were padded by his garbage time touchdown, but he has 10 targets on the season (five in each game). He’s clearly being used in the passing game as much as the Seahawks throw the ball. The matchup against Chicago was tougher than the matchup against the Cowboys will be this week. Dissly may not be an elite tight end, but he should perform better than his No. 21 ranking.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz was great in 2017, throwing for nearly 3,300 yards and 33 touchdowns. However, he suffered a torn ACL near the end of the season and has been rehabbing his knee since. He has been medically cleared and will be the Eagles’ starter in Week 3. After watching Deshaun Watson return after the same knee injury, it’s hard to trust that Wentz will immediately return to top form. The matchup against the Colts is a good one, but Wentz doesn’t have Alshon Jeffery to throw to. The running game may be in disarray as well, as Jay Ajayi is banged up and will be playing hurt (assuming he’s active). Wentz should be good this season but he may fall below his No. 16 ranking for Week 3.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Cook was drafted as a RB1, and he’s ranked No. 9 for Week 3. However, he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury and has missed practice time this week. Fantasy owners should monitor the practice reports and the inactive report on Sunday to ensure that he will be on the field. However, even if he is active, if he’s even a little banged up, the Vikings may be wise to give him some rest against the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings should be able to beat the Bills without Cook and they may just do so.
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
Looking just at Hogan’s Week 2 fantasy numbers, owners should be happy. However, looking beyond the box score tells a different tale. Hogan saw five targets in Week 1 (he caught one for 11 yards). He also only saw five targets in Week 2. He managed to catch three of those for 42 yards and two touchdowns. As a result, Rob Gronkowski had a terrible game (for fantasy purposes). Now, with Josh Gordon added to the roster, and Gronk looking for a bounce-back game, Hogan will likely fall back in line for targets. He’s ranked No. 23, but he’s more of a low WR3.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
While it is hard to tell how good the Rams defense is, they have allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. They also have not let a wide receiver score a touchdown against them so far this year (to be fair, they’ve played Oakland and Arizona). The Chargers play the Rams in Week 3, and even though Keenan Allen is ranked No. 13, he should finish lower than that. It’s a tough match-up and the Chargers will likely utilize the ground game more than the passing game.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers
Week 1 for Jimmy Graham was a disappointment, but in Week 2, he had an almost-touchdown and six receptions for 95 yards. The Packers typically don’t utilize the tight end, but Graham is an exception to that. He’s ranked No. 4, but that seems awfully high for someone who hasn’t proven he is a consistent target in the passing game. Aaron Rodgers is still banged up, and trying to determine who he’s going to be able to get the ball to is still difficult at this point. Graham is a TE1, just not Top 5.
Full Disclosure, Week 2:
5 Up (4/5 correct)
Ben Roethlisberger (Ranked: 3, Finished: 1)
James White (Ranked: 36, Finished: 17)
Nelson Agholor (Ranked: 22, Finished: 11)
Chris Godwin (Ranked: 45, Finished: 29)
Jared Cook (Ranked: 11, Finished: 19)
5 Down (4/5 correct)
Aaron Rodgers (Ranked: 5, Finished: 19)
Lamar Miller (Ranked: 14, Finished: 35)
Marshawn Lynch (Ranked: 26, Finished: 15)
Larry Fitzgerald (Ranked: 14, Finished: not in top 50)
Rob Gronkowski (Ranked: 1, Finished: 41)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.