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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 2

Did the studs on your fantasy teams decide to take Week 1 off? If that’s the case, you’re probably dealing with a nasty case of the “Week 1 Freakouts.” If you’re in a guillotine league, you’re probably feeling extra nervous and reaching for the Alka Seltzer. Take a deep breath and relax. FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson has sifted through the Week 1 action and tells us which fantasy stars will rebound in Week 2…and which ones won’t.

As I sat down in front of my computer to start typing this column for a sixth NFL season, it quickly dawned on me that evaluating fantasy players will come with a higher degree of difficulty during the early weeks of what I hope is a full 2020 season. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL wisely elected not to play any preseason games for safety reasons as you surely know. The Week 1 action was obviously the first real live playing conditions for rookies along with veterans and coaches on teams that installed new offensive or defensive schemes. With no preseason outings, it may take an extra game or two…maybe three…for some players and their teams to work out the glitches and get on track. That being said…

We’re just one week into the 2020 regular season, but…

1. Did Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur flip a switch and change his run-heavy 2019 Packers offense into a pass-heavy crew for the 2020 season?

The Dude: Aaron Rodgers

The Damage: The 36-year-old Rodgers played a virtually flawless game while shredding the Minnesota Vikings for 364 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions during the Green Bay Packers’ 43-34 victory. Did you know that Rodgers could have easily topped the 400-yard mark if Marquez Valdes-Scantling hadn’t dropped what would have been an easy 61-yard touchdown pass? Has LaFleur decided to have the Green Bay offense go back to the same pass-first philosophy that it used under now-former head coach Mike McCarthy?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Rodgers is far from washed up, but don’t expect LaFleur to dump his run-first philosophy anytime soon. Aaron Jones got off to a slow start against Minnesota, which is partially why Rodgers handled more of the offensive load than usual. If you read our VIP Preseason Report, you know that I sounded the alarm bells about possible problems with an overhauled Vikings secondary with three new top cornerbacks. Rodgers and the Packers decided to attack this very inexperienced trio, and it paid off. If you have receivers going against Minnesota, start them!

Keep in mind that Green Bay occasionally let Rodgers open up the offense last season, so this big outing versus the Vikings shouldn’t shock you. During 2019, he notched three 300-yard outings and a couple of 400-yard games, all with multiple touchdown strikes. However, he failed to eclipse 250 passing yards in 11 outings and failed to throw more than one touchdown pass in nine games. When the Jones-led ground game is clicking, expect the Packers to dial back the throwing as usual.

 

2. Kareem Hunt just signed a two-year contract extension, and he out-touched Nick Chubb and stole a goal-line series from him during the Cleveland Browns humiliating 38-6 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Are we seeing a changing of the guard in the Cleveland backfield?

The Dudes: Kareem Hunt & Nick Chubb

The Damage: Here’s the Hunt and Chubb damage against the Ravens:

  • Hunt – 13 carries for 72 yards; four catches for nine yards (six targets).
  • Chubb – 10 carries for 60 yards; one catch for six yards (one target).

Is Hunt taking over the Browns’ backfield?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Of course not, and his heavier workload against Baltimore wasn’t a surprise. Hunt handles the passing-down duties because he has the superior passing game chops of the two, and the Browns trailed the Ravens during the entire contest. The goal-line carry business? Blame game script. Hunt just happened to be in the game when Cleveland worked its way down to the Baltimore 1-yard line in the first quarter. When Hunt failed to score, Baker Mayfield threw a one-yard touchdown strike to David Njoku on the next play, to the dismay of Hunt owners. As for the contract extension, he and Chubb are now both under contract through 2022. Yawn. However, I do think we’re going to see a more even split in the touches between Chubb and Hunt than we did last season. Stay tuned. They face the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night.

 

3. Are we seeing a passing of the torch in the Baltimore Ravens backfield?

The Dudes: Mark Ingram & J.K. Dobbins

The Damage: The Ravens shellacked the Browns 38-6, as noted, but Ingram owners came away from that contest unhappy while Dobbins owners were grinning from ear to ear. Baltimore’s presumed No. 1 ball carrier, Ingram, toted the rock just 10 times for 29 scoreless yards and didn’t draw any targets, but rookie Dobbins carried seven times for 22 yards and two touchdowns (a 3-yard run and a 2-yard run) and didn’t draw any targets. Did Dobbins’ impressive NFL debut help him supplant Ingram as the starter?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Three words: No, no and no. Last season, Ingram racked up 1,265 combo yards and 15 touchdowns, and the Ravens aren’t going to demote him out of the blue and start a rookie with 22 rushing yards and two touchdown runs on his NFL career stat sheet. That’s not to knock Dobbins – the rookie second-rounder has the tools to become a lead runner. The Ravens were playing at home against a bad defense and winning, so game script allowed them to give Dobbins a bigger-than expected role. When Baltimore travels to face the Houston Texans next week, I suspect the veteran Ingram will see way more action. I also think Ingram’s workload will become more volatile from week-to-week with Dobbins in the fold. Last season, Ingram averaged 13.5 carries per contest. Expect that to drop in 2020.

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.