With two weeks in the books, we are starting to get a feel for NFL team’s offenses as well as player’s roles within them. Obviously, players like Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are performing as expected and rookies like Amari Cooper and Marcus Mariotta are living up to their hype. However, one can not have light without the presence of darkness.
Several perennial fantasy football studs have started the season slowly such as Andrew Luck and Marshawn Lynch. When will they turn the their season around if at all? This week’s Fantasy Football Versus article will focus on struggling studs looking to reclaim their fantasy glory in week three:
Andrew Luck (Colts) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)
Big Ben has picked up right where he left off last season with back-to-back 350+ yard performances to start the 2015 campaign. Having the league’s premiere wide receiver in Antonio Brown certainly helps. However, a tough road matchup with the stingy Rams defense lies ahead. Do not be shocked if the Steelers utilize Bell as much as possible in his return this week as in an attempt to slow down the pass rush of the Ram’s imposing front line.
Where Roethlisberger has soared, Luck has flopped. Granted, Luck’s “flopping” is still better than the best day of half of the quarterbacks in the NFL. The two main reasons Luck has struggled so far this season are poor offensive line play and strong defensive opposition. While the offensive line is still working out its kinks, the trip to Tennessee should provide plenty of opportunity for Luck. In 2 games against the Titans last season, he threw for 553 yards, 6 Touchdowns and 1 interception. Not to mention the one game was week 16 when Luck’s playing time was limited. Look for Andrew Luck to outscore Roethlisberger this week.
Mark Ingram (Saints) vs. LeSean McCoy (Bills)
Ingram has exactly struggled to start the season but he hasn’t exactly been dominating either. He did have 98 yards receiving in week 1 but managed just 58 yards total week 2. He’s also averaged just over 3 yards per carry in those games. You may think that a trip to Carolina for a division battle with the Panthers is the last thing he needs. However, last season when the Saints played at Bank of America Stadium, Ingram had arguably his best game of the season. With his season high 30 carries he mustered 100 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
Add to that the fact that Brees is a bit banged up and Panthers will be without star linebacker Luke Kuechly. Ingram will be in line for a lot of work Sunday. As Ingram’s stock starts to rise, McCoy’s will be on the downturn, for this week at least. Heading to Miami against a stout defensive front and a lingering hamstring issue will likely keep Shady in check this weekend. Do not be surprised if the Bills also utilize Karlos Williams more often Sunday in an attempt to help McCoy rest his injured leg.
T.Y. Hilton (Colts) vs. Keenan Allen (Chargers)
As with Andrew Luck (see above), Hilton should be primed for a breakout week against the Titans. Not to mention another week of rest and treatment should allow for T.Y. to be at full strength on a day that could result in the Colts with 35+ points. If there is one thing that Keenan Allen is not, it’s consistent. He had a monster week 1 hauling in 15 passes for 166 yards. He followed it up the next week with 2 catches for 16 yards. Do not be surprised to see him have up and down weeks like this all season. Unfortunately, the “ups” likely will not be as high as they were week 1 and the “downs” far more common. Go with Hilton and the Colts this week.
Mike Evans (Buccaneers) vs. Amari Cooper (Raiders)
Evans has zero fantasy points so far this season. He missed the first game of the year with an injury and made his return to the field week 2 for the Bucs but had zero catches on three targets. Look for Winston to rely on Evans much more this week as the gigantic receiver is too talented and physically imposing to not get more targets.
On the other hand, Cooper broke onto to the scene week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens with 107 yards receiving and a touchdown. Unfortunately the Raiders head to Cleveland this week and Cooper draws the unfavorable assignment of Joe Haden. Furthermore, the Browns defense as a unit looked downright scary last week as they got pressure and rocked Marcus Mariota several times. Expect Cooper to struggle as he gets introduced to a real NFL cornerback this weekend while Evans is poised to officially start his season this week.
Greg Olsen (Panthers) vs. Jimmy Graham (Seahawks)
To the casual fan, Greg Olsen has struggled to start the 2015 season. However, looking deeper one would find he has been his usual self. Despite having just one catch week 1, Olsen also had a touchdown reception that was called back due to a penalty. Week 2 Olsen had 70 yards receiving on a team high 14 targets. Cam Newton continues to look his way frequently and it will result in consistent solid production from the reliable tight end.
In case you missed it, Graham left the high flying Saints offense and headed to the run heavy Seahawks this off-season. Graham is still the most targeted player on the team but has found his talent not being utilized as often as in New Orleans. Furthermore, the team Graham plays this weekend is the Bears. Chicago has done few things right this season but defending the tight end position is one of them. Bears have allowed just 4 receptions and 32 yards receiving to opposing tight ends this season. Look for the Seahawks to get Lynch the ball early and often resulting in another slow day for Graham.
Cleveland Browns vs. New England Patriots
As mentioned above, the Browns look menacing last week against the Titans. They beat up the QB and forced several turnovers in the process. Look for them to do the same this weekend against another suspect offensive line in Oakland. The Patriots D lines up against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. Whether it is out of fear or respect, the Jaguars will likely run the ball as often as possible. The Steelers had success with it week 1 against the Pats and even with improved play out of Bortles, the Jags will want to retain the rock and keep it out of Brady’s hands as much as possible. Therefore, it’s the Browns. Add in Benjamin returning punts/kicks as a wildcard and it’s a no brainer.