Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
All the talk in the preseason regarding Patrick Mahomes was about how “high of a ceiling he had heading into his first year as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs.” The counter to that was, “Can a young, inexperienced quarterback be a reliable fantasy option in his first full season as a starter?” Through two weeks, it’s safe to say we are witnessing the former statement. Mahomes torched the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary in Week 2, completing 23-of-28 passes for 326 passing yards and SIX touchdowns! With so many legitimate weapons at his disposal (Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce), his fantasy upside is massive going forward. Sure, there will be some off weeks where the Kansas City offense hits the proverbial wall, but at this rate, you have to view Mahomes as a mid- to low-end QB1 going forward. What’s more impressive is how he’s done what he’s done these first two weeks away from Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener in Week 3, who just allowed 347 passing yards, three passing touchdowns to Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. This is another optimal matchup for Mahomes and the Chiefs, so plug him into your lineup and expect another solid performance in Week 3.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Man, this Vikings team is an absolute powerhouse. In what was a wildly exciting game vs. the Green Bay Packers that ultimately ended in a 29-29 tie (thanks, Daniel Carlson) Kirk Cousins put on a show through the air, completing 35-of-48 passes for 425 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, with one interception. The signing of Cousins this offseason was a significant upgrade at the quarterback position and is just what the Vikings needed to take them over the top in the NFC. A Week 3 matchup vs. the current laughing stock of the NFL, the Buffalo Bills, will be an easy opportunity for Cousins to light up the stat sheet once again. Having two elite wide receivers (Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs) and an above-average running back (Dalvin Cook) will result in many high-end fantasy weeks for Cousins going forward. He’s a must-start fantasy quarterback across all formats and should be viewed as a mid-level QB1 for the remainder of the season.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
After being on the field for 77% of the Houston Texans offensive snaps in Week 1, Lamar Miller saw 76% of the offensive snaps in the Texans Week 2 loss to the Titans. In a league where so many backfields are split between two (sometimes three) running backs, Miller finished in the top eight in snap percentage among running backs in both Weeks 1 and Week 2. Against the Patriots in Week 1, Miller had 20 carries for 98 rushing yards (4.9 yards per carry), compared to five carries for 38 rushing yards for Alfred Blue. In Week 2 vs. the Titans, Miller had 14 carries for 69 rushing yards (4.9 yards per carry), compared to seven carries for 36 rushing yards for Blue. He’s not much of a factor in the passing game, but Miller’s consistent workload as the go-to running back for the Texans is going to pay dividends (with rushing touchdowns) sooner rather than later. His workload cannot be overlooked, and while it hasn’t translated to a high number of fantasy points just yet, his time is coming.
The Texans offense is still trying to find an identity after going 0-2 the first two weeks of the season. Deshaun Watson has been “so-so” through two weeks, but when, not if, he gets going it will open up even more running room for Miller. Don’t be that worried about the impending return of D’Onta Foreman in a few weeks. It takes time to get back to 100% after tearing your Achilles and Foreman will be eased in slowly. A Week 3 matchup vs. a below-average Giants run defense figures to be a premier opportunity for Miller to get his first rushing touchdown of the year. In fact, I’m calling it right now; Lamar Miller will have a rushing touchdown this week vs. the Giants. He’s a solid, low-end RB2 with mid-level RB2 upside the rest of the season and should be locked into your starting lineup going forward.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
When the Chargers were in catch-up mode for most of their Week 1 game vs. the Chiefs, Austin Ekeler finished with a 27% share of the team’s running back snaps (compared to 76% for Melvin Gordon). When the Chargers got way ahead on the scoreboard this past Sunday vs. the Bills, Ekeler finished with a 42% share of the running back snaps (compared to 63% for Gordon). If Week 2 is a precursor for what’s to come, Ekeler will see approximately 35-40% of the running back snaps when the Chargers are winning, thus giving him plenty of touches to warrant RB3 production going forward. He’s been unbelievably efficient in relief of Gordon through two weeks, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 16 rushing attempts. However, his specialty and true value comes as a receiver out of the backfield, where he’s caught all eight of his targets for 108 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. It’s entirely realistic to expect RB3 numbers out of Ekeler for the rest of the season. Why? Because the Chargers are a potent offensive team that will be ahead on the scoreboard more often than not, thus creating plenty of opportunities for Ekeler to spell Gordon in the 2nd half of games. Want to know the best news? After their Week 3 matchup vs. the Rams (which will be a tough matchup), the Chargers play the 49ers, Raiders, Browns, Titans from Weeks 4 to 7. Those are what we, in the fantasy football business, consider highly favorable matchups for Ekeler and company.
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins
Ah, the apodictic pass-catching, PPR running back. Chris Thompson has been a force out of the backfield for the Washington Redskins through two weeks. In the Redskins Week 1 win vs. the Cardinals, Thompson led all Redskins pass catchers with seven targets (24.1% target share) and hauled in six receptions for 68 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. In the Skins’ Week 2 win vs. the Colts, he once again led all Redskins pass catchers with 14 targets (for a whopping 31.8% target share), and had 13 receptions for 92 receiving yards. He is third in the NFL among running backs with 21 targets through two games and has become an extremely reliable weapon out of the backfield for Alex Smith and should continue to see a hefty target share in the Washington offense. Adrian Peterson is not known for his pass-catching prowess and will remain the between-the-tackles runner in Washington. Thompson is a PPR-specialist that should be considered an RB2 in PPR formats going forward.
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
It’s Michael Thomas’ world, and we’re all living in it. In what was a below average performance from the New Orleans Saints offense, Michael Thomas still managed to light up the stat sheet to the tune of 12 receptions, 89 receiving yards, two touchdowns. He’s seen an exceptionally high number of targets through two weeks (30) and has made the most out of every opportunity. Those 30 targets rank second in the NFL behind Antonio Brown (33). He has solidified himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and in fantasy football and will continue to wreak havoc on opposing cornerbacks for the foreseeable future. Thomas has had tremendous success in his career vs. the Saints Week 3 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. In four career games, Thomas has tallied a whopping 31 receptions for 410 receiving yards and three touchdowns, easily his best numbers against any opponent. Expect another doozy of a performance in Week 3 and enjoy the top-end production you’ll continue to receive from your elite fantasy wide receiver.
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