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What Did We Learn: Week 2

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Week 2 had everything. It had injuries to big-name guys. It had big games from some guys you’d expect, and it had impact performances from guys you didn’t know about when you drafted. It had a guy throw for 500 yards. It had upsets, blowouts, and fourth quarter comebacks. And it had terrible officiating.

We’ll leave the officiating out of this, although we could easily spend this entire space talking about it. Instead, we’ll move on to all the other stuff. Let’s dig in.

With Matt Forte out, is Michael Bush a Top-20 back?

I think so. Look, he’s clearly not the same playmaker, but he’s a very capable back in a good offensive system, with an offensive coordinator in Mike Tice that loves to run the football. Chicago plays St. Louis, at Dallas, and at Jacksonville before a bye in Week 6, so Forte will be out at least until Week 7. The Rams, Cowboys, and Jaguars have allowed 259, 261, and 339 rushing yards, respectively, through two games. Besides, aren’t we as fantasy owners always looking for a lead back on a good offense that also gets the goal line touches? With Forte out, teams will key on the Cutler-Marshall combination, and Bush will reap the benefits. I like Bush to be a high-end RB2, or low-end RB1 over the next few weeks.

Does Cedric Benson have something left in the tank after all?

I think we need to chalk his shaky Week 1 up to the San Francisco defense being really, really good. Benson followed up his abysmal 9-carry, 18-yard performance in Week 1 with 20 carries for 81 yards against the Bears in Week 2. Even though the Bengals decided to show him the door, Benson was productive last year in Cincinnati, and he’s showing that he can get tough yards when needed for the Packers. He is even catching passes out of the backfield. In an offense like that, he’ll end up with plenty of wide open running lanes, and I believe he’ll end up with close to 1,000 yards and 4-6 scores on the season.

C.J. Spiller will be fantastic next week, but is it time to sell high?

First of all, Spiller leads the league in rushing, with 292 yards on 29 carries, which is ridiculous. Secondly (because if you say first of all, there really should be another point coming), he gets Cleveland this week. The Bills are saying that Fred Jackson  will only be out a few weeks, and that he’s actually ahead of schedule, but are we really buying any of that from a team that disclosed a supposed Ryan Fitzpatrick  injury only after the season? Here’s Spiller’s upcoming schedule: @CLE, NE, @SF, @ARI, TEN, bye, @HOU, @NE. After Cleveland, that’s brutal. I’m betting that he blows up again this week, and then begins to have trouble finding holes and getting into open space. If I can trade him after Week 3 for a true RB1 or WR1, I might pull the trigger, depending on what the rest of your roster looks like.

Oh, is he still that Trent Richardson?

I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting him to slowly find his stride this season, especially after being slowed in the preseason due to injury. But on Sunday, Richardson went for 109 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and added four catches for 36 yards and another score. We knew he was a stud at Alabama, but if he’s going to start doing this to NFL defenses, then maybe he was worth that seemingly high draft position needed to get him. I liked him a lot, but was unwilling to take him in the second or third round of drafts. I’d like to see more, but maybe I was wrong.

Where did that Reggie Bush performance come from?

Bush is another guy with special talent, but we had only seen flashes of it. Just a little at a time. But on Sunday, his stat line of 26-172-2, with three catches for 25 yards, reminded me of some of his games back at USC, when he’d take over a game and just do it all himself. His ability to break any big play makes him one of the more dangerous guys in the entire league. But how much of that performance was due to Oakland’s collective ineptitude? I think Oakland displayed poor discipline and tackling, but I have to believe that at least a part of that is because Bush is so gifted. I think Bush will ultimately frustrate owners with inconsistency due to his poor offense, but, assuming he remains healthy, Bush will provide that spark that will propel fantasy teams to a victory.

Did Eli Manning really go for half-a-thousand?

Apparently, yes. And just like the aforementioned Bush and the Raiders, I have to wonder how much of this performance was Manning being good, and how much was Tampa Bay being bad. And again, I think it’s a little bit of both. Eli has one of the top receiver tandems in the league, with Hakeem Nicks (10-199) and Victor Cruz (11-179). They were down 14 late in the third quarter, and so the Giants unleashed Eli and he started chucking it all over the field. I’m not really sure there’s anything to learn here. But it was 500 yards.

Do we dare to dub Alfred Morris as Mike Shanahan’s top guy?

Ugh. Mike Shanahan has messed with fantasy owners ever since Terrell Davis. It’s as though he’s trying to find another Terrell, so he gives a guy a chance for a few weeks, and then cuts the cord. It’s still early in the season, but Morris looks really good. In two games, he has 44 carries for 185 yards and a pair of scores. Robert Griffin III  is next on the team rushing list, and then it’s Evan Royster  with three carries for 14 yards. So my early season read is that Mike Shanahan is smitten with Alfred Morris, and that easily makes him a Top 20 guy. At least until Shanahan sees another running back.

Who the heck is Daryl Richardson?

Seriously, who is he? He played his college ball at Abilene Christian, and he was the Rams’ seventh round pick this past year. He had two carries for 20 yards in Week 1. But going into Week 2, he was named the backup to Steven Jackson , and when Jackson left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, Richardson made the most of an opportunity. He ran 15 times for 83 yards, including a 53-yard burst down to the Washington 6-yard line. Bradford threw a pick on the next play, but the run was still impressive. With Jackson still nursing an injury and his status for Sunday’s game at Chicago in doubt, Richardson makes for a very interesting pickup this week.

Did you forget that Ben Roethlisberger is elite?

I bet you did. When we talk about elite QBs, we usually discuss Rodgers, Brady, and Brees. Then there are a few on the fringe, like Eli, Peyton, Romo, Ryan, and Stafford. I’m leaving Newton off of this list, because he’s still figuring out how to be a quarterback. But we often neglect to include Big Ben in the conversation of elite quarterbacks. In Sunday’s matchup with the Jets, Roethlisberger completed 24-of-31 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Admittedly, it was a Jets defense without Darrelle Revis . He made all the throws, he was careful, he kept plays alive. And he didn’t make mistakes. I’m a big fan of Roethlisberger’s game, especially considering the offensive line he has in front of him.

Should Chris Johnson be allowed to use the “CJ2K” nickname?

No. I know that once you have a nickname, you should own it. But I think that only applies if you don’t completely reverse course at some point. Calvin Johnson  keeps playing like a massive, all-powerful robot, so we call him “Megatron.” Deion Sanders was always an exciting, shutdown corner, so we call him “Prime Time.” But when you run 11 times for four yards, and then follow it up with eight rushes for 17 yards, I don’t think you should be drawing any attention to yourself. After the game, Johnson complained that, "People need to step up and do their job.” I wonder if that includes hitting the hole rather than hesitate and stutter-step. Owners can’t sell low, because they’d basically be giving him away, but if Johnson can’t put up numbers against Detroit’s porous run defense in Week 3, I don’t know what to tell you.

Good luck in Week 3.

Drew Magyar is a FantasySharks.com staff writer and can be reached at drewmagyar@gmail.com . “What Did We Learn” will be posted each Tuesday morning during the season, and “Rock and a Hard Place” will be posted each Friday morning.