The opener stretch jitters are starting to become mid season problems for many of our high profile draft picks. Then again, some are running away with their opportunities and are quickly paying off for keen owners. There’s some of the biggest names in the business included on both sides of the value coin this week. Whose slipping and whose advancing?
SET TO RISE
Saints and Falcons – Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta
In the interim, Coleman could save himself RB1 status for another week or two if he goes off in Week 3. Meaning that if he continues to look the part of a main threat, then there will be no need to rush Devonta Freeman back from his knee injury. So the Falcons would take it easy on Freeman’s recover and maybe that 1-2 week forecast turns into 3-4. In the long term, more games like Coleman’s 125 total yards against the Panthers could see him landing a huge deal, thusly an unquestioned RB1 title in a different zip code in 2019. Atlanta is very much tied to Freeman given his huge contract so it’s widely speculated that Coleman will be shown the door. Can he not only do enough to earn more weeks as the featured back this year but also find himself as a hot selection at the tail end of the first round next season? Luckily for Coleman, he gets a much softer defense than Carolina as he faces off against the Saints. We at RnF, don’t care what the numbers the Saints have against running backs imply, New Orleans’ defense simply don’t pass the eye test. Coleman is expected to match last week’s numbers as he not only frustrates Freeman owners but puts teams like the Bucs, Colts, and Jets on notice that he’ll be looking for a big contract this off-season.
Colts and Eagles – Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia
To begin 2018, it looks like whatever talent that back up QB Nick Foles had in his arm was all used up in the big game against the Patriots. The poor guy simply couldn’t build a head of steam. He did enough though to go 1-1 and keep the Eagles’ heads above water until the main man could return to the big stage. And return he shall, like Elvis re-entering the building, Wentz is back in black. Or green. Or White. Whatever the jersey color may be, it was still worth an AC/DC reference in the same sentence as an Elvis reference. Moving along, you should still very much expect a ton of rust to be kicked off here. Wentz hasn’t played a competitive game at the pro level since early December of 2017. Quarterbacks tend to rebound better from ACL surgery than most of the other positions but there are still a couple of mental road blocks for Wentz to clear before we see him back to full form. Thank goodness for the Colts as Indy is willing to donate 4 quarters of their time operating at a D3 talent level while Wentz gets his feet wet. Even in his first return to action, we’re still expecting QB1 totals. Watch his mobility (obviously), how quickly he gets the ball out when pressure comes around, and if he’s willing to get anyone not named Ertz or Agholor involved. If he manages to go 3-3 here, he’ll be a Top 5 option the rest of the way.
Lions and Patriots – Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
Quite frankly, this article could have been written about quarterback Tom Brady for the exact same reason. The Patriots needed offensive help last week. The Jacksonville game was bad with a capital B. If it weren’t for Brady, that would have been a 50-0 scoreboard in Jacksonville’s favor. No one on the Patriots could create separation. With no one able to create space, Tom Terrific was under pressure and making erratic and off target throws. The engine of the Patriots’ offense is Rob Gronkowski. His mismatch ability sets the defense off kilter and lets the running backs operate underneath. When the Jags took Gronk away, the system failed. No one could get open. The Patriots addressed this issue by trading for one of the best outside receivers in the game with Josh Gordon. Even if Gordon doesn’t catch a single pass for the rest of 2018, he’ll still serve as a great decoy for the other options to play off of. With Gordon flying down the sideline on a sprint, the corner will be turned around and the safety will be forced to peel off. That’ll leave Gronk more open then we’ve seen in 2018 to this point and he’ll be able to use the extra space for added receptions. Gordon is going to log 7 miles of sprint work down the field this week as Gronkowski reaps the benefits against linebackers.
Redskins and Packers – Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Don’t look now but over the course of two games with Alex Smith, Reed is on pace for an 800 yard and 8 touchdown season. Yes, it’s a very big stretch to start working out averages after just two games but the point remains that Reed is still, in fact, ON THE FIELD. He’s healthy, and when healthy the only guys who can match his production are named Gronkowski and Kelce. This week against the Packers, Alex Smith and the Redskins are going to need to hang at least 35 points in order to stay competitive in this one. Last week against the Vikings, the Packers’ Achilles heel was their secondary. That was more due to the talent of the Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen than it was to Green Bay’s secondary. The Pack has a few very athletic young men at cornerback and they’ll be playing with something to prove after last week’s debacle. Adding to that, is the fact that Washington’s wide receiver corp is almost virtually incapable of producing. Add up all these factors and you’ve got a top notch game on tap for the elite tight end. Reed could tattoo himself on the rankings behind only the Patriots’ and Chiefs’ tight ends if he goes bananas against Green Bay; 100 yards with a touchdown is not a bet that we would shy away from.
Panthers and Bengals – D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Carolina said after last week that they wanted to put more on rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore’s plate. Well we hope he’s hungry, because there’s a lot to go around and very little mouths to feed. The loss of Greg Olsen opens up 100 some odd targets with very little competition vying for them. Outside of Devin Funchess, no one is proven with Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey is going to end up in traction if he’s used like this for the rest of the season. Moore shined in what was pretty much junk time last week, when he took a soft pass over the middle all the way to the house. Granted, the defense was playing back in “run the clock out” mode but it still showcased his burst and yards after the catch potential. If Moore could see 8 targets a game, he could climb into WR3 weekly consideration. The Bengals secondary is not to be messed with so any sort of statistical output would be amplified in future outings against lesser competition. Something along the lines of 6 catches for 80 yards would certainly catch the eye of Moore owners.