Cam Newton, Panthers
Two games, two 400-yard performances, two straight weeks Moving Up. Newton actually increased his passing yard total by ten this week, on his way to his second straight week with 36.9 fantasy points. His 422 yards in Week 1 were the most ever by a quarterback in their first start and his 432 this week were a franchise record. His 854 passing yards are the most ever by a player in their first two starts and the second most ever by any player over the first two weeks of the season (behind Tom Brady ‘s 940 yards). What record is he going to top in Week 3? His three interceptions are a bit of a red flag but Newton is getting it done on the ground and through the air and is only another week or two of solid performances away from establishing himself as a legitimate starting fantasy quarterback.
Mike Kafka, Eagles
Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick suffered a concussion this week against the Falcons, leaving his status in doubt for Week 3. Vick owners without a solid option as their backup need to find a roster spot for Kafka, who went 7 of 9 for 79 yards in relief this week. After looking a bit shaky on his first few snaps, Kafka settled down and was marching the Eagles well until a Jeremy Maclin drop that ended the Eagles comeback hopes. Vince Young remains on the roster but Kafka looked good enough to get the start in Week 3 against a hurting Giants secondary if Vick can’t go.
Chad Henne, Dolphins
While I’m not ready to write off Henne’s strong Week 1 performance as a fluke, his struggles this week against a decidedly mediocre Texans pass defense are definitely cause for concern. After throwing for a career high 416 yards in against the Patriots, it was the Henne of old this week, as he went 12 for 30 for 170 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Ah, what a difference a week makes. Apparently, reports of Thomas’ demise were greatly exaggerated (whoops). A week after appearing to be in danger of losing touches to Lex Hilliard and Larry Johnson and the Dolphins bringing in veteran running backs for workouts, Thomas was used in the featured role ahead of Reggie Bush this week against the Texans and looked solid, gaining 107 yards on 18 carries and catching a pass for ten more. Looks like the Dolphins managed to light a fire under their underperforming rookie runner, who had a terrible preseason. A fumble won’t help his cause but Thomas figures to split the workload with Reggie Bush going forward.
James Starks, Packers
It’s official. Starks is the man in Green Bay. While Ryan Grant may be the starter, that means little when Starks is on the field for a solid majority of the plays. He ran it nine times this week for 85 yards and caught three passes for 30. Look for Starks to get more touches from here on out. More on Grant below.
Ben Tate, Texans
Tate has topped the 100-yard mark in two consecutive weeks and with Foster reinjuring his hamstring, he figures to be the team’s go to guy for the Texans Week 3 matchup against a mediocre Saints rushing defense. Based on his lay over the first two weeks of the season, Tate appears to have carved out a decent role even when Foster returns. With the Texans boasting a solid offense, Tate could be a decent flex option for the balance of the season.
Willis McGahee, Broncos
While I don’t believe the Broncos are ready to write off Knowshon Moreno just yet, McGahee’s production in Week 2 likely ensures a pretty even split of the work when Moreno returns from injury. Since McGahee gets the short yardage work and Moreno is likely to get more targets in the passing game, McGahee may just be the Broncos back to own. If he can be head on the cheap, go for it.
Darren Sproles, Saints
Sproles looked solid in Week 1 against the Packers, looking dynamic as a pass receiving threat while catching seven balls for 75 yards. However, I wasn’t prepared to have him Moving Up since his usage may have been a case of game planning him as a bit of a surprise. Week 2 proved that wasn’t the case and he appears to be an integral part of the Saints offensive game plan on a weekly basis. His touches went up in Week 2 (nine to 12) and Sproles had 60 total yards and a touchdown against the Bears. He’s a great flex option and is worth starting as a RB2 in deeper leagues.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Probably should have had him here last week. The Panthers offense has looked explosive in the passing game over the first two weeks of the season but the ramifications for Williams have been a lack of production. It’s so sad that you have to scroll to the second page of FFToday’s year-to-date statistics to find him down at 56. That’s what 72 total yards in two games gets you.
Ryan Grant, Packers
Grant’s a repeat offender in Moving Down. If Week 1 didn’t provide enough evidence that he’s been passed over for James Starks as the Packers lead running back, then Week 2 did. Starks ran it nine times for 85 yards and caught three passes for 30 while Grant looked far more pedestrian, gaining 25 yards on six carries and catching three passes for 14 yards. Grant may be listed as the starter but that’s in name only. Starks is now the go to guy in the Packers rushing attack.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
Big things were expected of Moore after a solid preseason but the rookie 5th round pick put up a major dud in Week 1, going without a catch. However, the Bills pass defense was all the elixir he needed and with a number of Raiders receivers out of the lineup with injuries, Moore went off on Buffalo, catching five passes for 146 yards and making an outstanding touchdown catch on a long pass. He also chipped in 25 yards on a running play. Oakland is loaded with speedsters so it’s likely a week to week proposition on who gets the ball but Moore’s coming out party in Week 2 likely assures him a number of targets each week until he stumbles.
Danario Alexander, Rams
Alexander made his 2011 debut this week against the Giants on Monday night and made the Rams look like fools for making him inactive in Week 1. With three receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown, he also made them look like fools for not using him more in Week 2. Despite Alexander clearly being the Rams best and most explosive wide receiver, he was on the field for far less than half of the team’s offensive plays. Presumably, so-called mastermind offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will review the game film and figure out that rookie drop machine Greg Salas, taken in the 4th round on McDaniel’s recommendation along with 3rd round pick Austin Pettis who has yet to see the field, shouldn’t be getting eight targets when Alexander is getting seven. Then again, knowing McDaniels, maybe not.
Eric Decker, Broncos
With running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd out of the lineup, the Broncos had to spread the ball around and Decker took advantage of the opportunity. The 2010 3rd round pick caught five of nine targets for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns, setting career highs in each category. With Lloyd potentially a one-year wonder (although I’m not banking on it), Eddie Royal looking like a secondary option, Demaryius Thomas proving more injury prone than productive and no proven receiving options at tight end, Decker is worth taking a chance on.
Kenny Britt, Titans
Sometimes hindsight’s 20/20. In Britt’s case, a look in the rearview mirror tells us exactly why he was worth taking a chance on in 2011, despite a lengthy list of off the field indiscretions. The guy can play and with Matt Hasselbeck a solid upgrade over the team’s quarterback options in 2010 (sounds odd but it’s true), Britt has been spectacular in 2011, catching 14 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season. I’m ready to move him up to WR1 status.
David Nelson, Bills
This one’s regurgitating my Dave’s Take column from last Friday but here we go again. Nelson is the Bills secondary option to own opposite Steve Johnson, not Donald Jones. Nelson is a solid playmaker out of the slot and is a great red zone option for the Bills. This week against the Raiders, he caught ten of his 13 targets for 83 yards and a score, giving him touchdowns in four of his last six games. This week’s totals should be discounted a bit for a Raiders secondary whose backup cornerbacks consist of rookies. Nonetheless, Nelson might be ready to ascend to WR3 status in larger leagues.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Tease. He failed to step up as the Chargers top wide receiver in 2010 with Vincent Jackson out of the lineup but still shaped up as a solid fantasy option in 2011 as the third wheel in a dominant Chargers passing attack. In Week 1, he caught just three of eight targets for 45 yards and looked ready to dominate in the first quarter of this week’s game against the Patriots, making two solid catches for 59 yards. The only problem is that he suffered a groin injury on the second one. With some players, it’s always something and it just feels like Floyd is one of those guys. The trust factor just isn’t there.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals
There was some hope that Roberts would make the most of his earning the starting assignment opposite Larry Fitzgerald but his production over the first two weeks isn’t promising. Roberts was considered a raw prospect coming out of Citadel after the Cardinals used a 2010 3rd round pick on him and it doesn’t look like he’s ready to shape that label. He’s caught just five of 11 targets in two weeks for 51 yards. He won’t be starting for long unless that improves.
Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, Colts
With Peyton Manning at quarterback, there was enough to go around to feed three wide receivers and a tight end, with everybody having a full stomach With Kerry Collins, there’s barely enough to feed one wide receiver and Reggie Wayne isn’t leaving many scraps for anybody else.
Braylon Edwards, 49ers
He should have stayed in New York. Two games, seven targets, four receptions for 48 yards. Doesn’t look like taking a one-year deal in San Francisco in the hopes of having a big season and striking it rich in free agency in 2012 is going to work out for Edwards.
Fred Davis, Redskins
I know, I know. I’m a week late on this one. With Chris Cooley clearly settling into more of a secondary role, Davis is now the Redskins tight end to own. He played well as a starter subbing in for Cooley in 2009, averaging 8.2 points per game over the final ten games of the season. So far in 2011, he has caught 11 of his 13 targets for 191 yards and a touchdown. With the Redskins group of wide receivers leaving something to be desired, Davis shapes up as a low end TE1 for the remainder of the season. He’s a talented player who can split the safeties on deep patterns and he has solid hands. Great dynasty league potential.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
The thought was that of the 49ers options in the passing game, Davis was the only sure thing. So much for that. This week, he was kept in to help block against the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and he caught two passes for a measly 18 yards, giving him 65 yards on the season. The 49ers passing attack looks just pathetic enough to render all of their wide receivers and tight ends as useless fantasy plays. Davis finally gets caught up in the wash.