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Traps & Trends – Week 2

Welcome to my new Monday morning column! Each week I’ll evaluate the fantasy players that either made you pump your first in wild celebration or made you throw things at the television during the Sunday games and give you my take on their fantasy prospects. Some are names that you already know, and some are names that you may need to know.

1) IS PEYTON’S PLACE STILL IN STARTING LINEUPS?

The Damage: Facing an admittedly stout Baltimore Ravens defense, Peyton Manning completed a very disappointing 24-of-40 passes for only 175 yards with – gasp – no touchdowns and one pick-six. Manning averaged a dismal 4.4 yards per attempt and showed absolutely no touch on his deep ball.

The Diagnosis: TREND

The Broncos made no secret of their plans to run more and throw less with new head coach Gary Kubiak calling the shots. While I think it’s important not to overreact to one dud performance, I still feel compelled to sound the alarm bell for Manning owners. Manning is no longer a must-start and a fantasy QB1. Denver blamed Manning’s collapse at the close of 2014 on a torn quadriceps muscle, but his arm doesn’t look any better now than it did then – and his quadriceps is healed as far as we know. If you own Manning but lack a good backup passer, you need to secure the services of one as soon as possible.

 

2) IS IT UH-OH TIME FOR ODELL?

The Damage: Odell Beckham, a consensus late-first or early-second round selection in a huge majority of redraft leagues disappointed against an Orlando Scandrick-less Dallas Cowboys secondary on Sunday Night football, amassing just five receptions for 44 yards on a team-high eight targets. Beckham’s streak of nine straight regular-season games with at least 90 receiving yards extending back to 2014 has ended.

The Diagnosis: TRAP

I’m sure you know that benching Beckham would be a huge knee-jerk overreaction. However, I do think this isn’t the last dud outing that we’ll see from ODB. The Cowboys seemed content to double-up on him while daring another Giants offensive star to step up. None of the other Big Blue receivers stepped up (Rueben Randle: 3-23-0 on five targets), and New York couldn’t run the ball well enough to draw the extra coverage away from Beckham. A healthy Victor Cruz (calf) would help him a lot. Beckham will rebound in Week 2 at home versus the Atlanta Falcons.

 

3) SOMETHING “SHADY” ABOUT THE BILLS’ GROUND-N-POUND?

The Damage: LeSean McCoy owners aren’t a happy bunch right now. Facing a soft Indianapolis Colts front seven, McCoy managed just 41 rushing yards on 17 carries and three grabs for 46 yards on four targets. He had a 12-yard touchdown run nullified by a penalty. Anthony Dixon pilfered a goal-line scoring opportunity. Rookie Karlos Williams also stole five carries, one of which was a 26-yard scoring run.

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Relax, McCoy owners. He was coming off a hamstring injury, so the reduced workload and loss of goal-line work in the third quarter of a game that Buffalo was winning handily wasn’t a shock. Better fantasy outings are ahead for Shady. He looks like an intriguing play in Week 2 at home versus a New England Patriots defense that was gashed on the ground by DeAngelo Williams last Thursday.

 

4) MARCUS MARIOTA…POCKET PASSER?

The Damage: All we heard about the athletic Mariota was that he would rack up fantasy points with his legs and struggle as a pocket passer while making the transition from a college spread offense to a conventional NFL one. Making his NFL regular-season debut versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mariota stayed in the pocket more times than not (just two rushes for six yards), completing 13 of his 16 passes for 209 yards and a mind-blowing four touchdowns against zero picks. Did you know Mariota went 10-of-13 for 175 yards and four touchdowns in the first half? He also sat out the fourth quarter.

The Diagnosis: TREND

Like many of you, I was totally shocked by how well Mariota played against an admittedly shoddy Buccaneers defense. The rookie showed poise in the pocket and rarely made any bad throws. Mariota is obviously worth a waiver-wire pickup as a fantasy QB2, but somebody in your league probably owns him. Mariota actually looks like a decent start in Week 2 versus a Cleveland Browns defense that yielded a solid fantasy outing to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 

5) PAGING MR. GREG OLSEN, PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY PHONE…YOUR FANTASY OWNERS ARE ON THE LINE.

The Damage: With Kelvin Benjamin (torn ACL) lost for the season, the assumption was that Cam Newton would pepper Olsen with targets. However, he hauled in just one catch for 11 yards on three targets against a beatable Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Olsen, by the way, had a touchdown reception called back on a penalty

The Diagnosis: TREND

While Olsen will have some better fantasy outings, right now I’m taking a contrarian view and guessing they’ll be few and far between. The Panthers surprisingly used him more as a blocker, way more than expected. With no threat at wideout right now (Devin Funchess: one catch for nine yards on two targets), there’s nothing to stop opposing defenses from keying on him.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.