Is there any hope for a struggling every-down tailback? Is there a legit second receiving option in the Cincinnati Bengals’ passing attack? Is there finally a fantasy relevant tight end in Pittsburgh? Is there any clarity in the Indianapolis Colts backfield? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson digs into the fantasy highlights and lowlights of a crazy weekend of fantasy football action in his newest edition of Traps & Trends.
We’re just two weeks into the regular season, but…
1. Hey! Aren’t you the fantasy stud tailback who racked up 2,118 total yards and 20 touchdowns just two years ago?
The Dude: David Johnson
The Damage: A first-round selection in all fantasy drafts, Johnson is off to a terrible start. In Week 1, Johnson compiled 37 rushing yards and one touchdown on nine carries, and 30 receiving yards on five catches at home against a mediocre Washington defense. Facing a powerhouse Los Angeles Rams defense on the road this past Sunday, Johnson carried 13 times for 48 scoreless yards and caught just one pass for three yards on two targets, which is absolutely inexcusable for a gifted receiver who caught 80 balls in 2016. By the way, the Arizona offense amassed just 137 total yards versus the Rams. Is Johnson’s Week 2 showing going to be a typical DJ31 fantasy outing for the remaining 15 weeks of the regular season?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
Any resemblance between the 2016 Arizona offensive unit – the one that helped him rack up 2,118 combo yards and 20 scores – and the Cardinals’ 2018 score unit are purely coincidental. In simple terms, Johnson is still a mega-talented ball carrier, but he’s a man on island in the Arizona offense right now. Opposing defenses clearly don’t respect the Sam Bradford/Larry Fitzgerald-led aerial attack (Fitzgerald is now injured), and the Cardinals’ offensive line is bad. Arizona’s offensive boss and play caller, Mike McCoy, has close to 20 years of NFL coaching experience, including a combined nine years as an offensive coordinator and head coach, which makes his unwillingness or inability to feature Johnson in the passing attack very puzzling.
Don’t give up on Johnson just yet. If you try to trade him, you’re definitely going to receive less than first-round value…unless some idiot in your league decides to give away the farm with an awesome offer. I suspect Bradford is heading for the bench – the Cardinals offense is going nowhere fast with him starting – and we’ll see rookie Josh Rosen under center as early as Week 3. He should play better than Bradford, who averaged 3.3 yards per attempt in the Rams game. However, the other part of the equation that’s an X-factor is Johnson’s usage. Will McCoy change up how he utilizes Johnson? I honestly don’t know. Arizona’s next two games are home contests versus the beatable run defenses of the Chicago Bears (Week 3) and the Seattle Seahawks (Week 4). Johnson’s production should perk up.
2. Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be the Baltimore Ravens featured tailback?
The Dude: Alex Collins
The Damage: In Week 1, Collins compiled just 19 total yards and one rushing score on eight touches, which his owners grudgingly overlooked because it came in limited duty during his team’s blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills. However, Collins owners are a grouchy bunch right now, and will good reason. This past Thursday night, Collins disappointed again, amassing just nine carries for 35 yards and three receptions for 55 yards on four targets during the Ravens’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Collins was running well, Baltimore elected to use Javorius “Buck” Allen as a goal-line runner, and he converted a goal-line scoring chance that should have gone to Collins into a touchdown in the second quarter. During a third-and-short situation in the last quarter, instead of giving the ball to Collins, the Ravens dialed up a short run by tight end Maxx Williams, which was an unwelcome. Is it time to write off Collins as a No. 2 fantasy running back?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
I wouldn’t panic and bench Collins just yet. Losing a goal-line touch to Allen obviously was frustrating, but keep in mind that Collins had scored in seven of his last eight heading into the Bengals game. I also know Baltimore fans are screaming “bad coaching” about Collins lack of carries for the second week in a row. The Ravens fell way behind in the first half and had to throw way more than they would have preferred. On the bright side, Collins, with Kenneth Dixon (knee) out of the lineup, took on more of a pass-catching role in the Cincinnati contest, which was nice to see. Collins’ Week 3 home matchup versus the Denver Broncos is a toughie on paper, but his Week 4 road matchup against a struggling Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is more promising.
3. Is there now a clear-cut second receiving option in the Cincinnati Bengals’ passing attack?
The Dude: Tyler Boyd
The Damage: In Week 1 action, Boyd amassed just 3-26-0 on five targets, but he erupted during his team’s Week 2 victory over the Baltimore Ravens for a career-high 91 yards and one touchdown on nine targets, which tied A.J. Green for the most looks in that contest. With Andy Dalton playing much better than he did last year and the Cincinnati Bengals passing attack looking solid, is Boyd the unquestioned second option behind Green?
The Diagnosis: TREND…SORT OF
We’re only two games into the regular season, and Boyd is coming off one dud outing and one good one. That said, the opportunity is definitely there for Boyd to emerge as the Bengals’ second pass-catching option, and I like his chances. John Ross, who lines up on the outside opposite of Green, has been targeted six times in two games. Don’t forget – Ross was limited to just 17 snaps played during an injury torpedoed 2017, so this season is essentially his rookie campaign. Cincinnati is utilizing Tyler Eifert in a part-time role now, and none of the other tight ends are dominant. Boyd will operate out of the slot and makes a nice volume-based pickup. His next two somewhat challenging contests are road matchups against the Carolina Panthers (Week 3) and the Atlanta Falcons (Week 4).
4. Can the Kansas City Chiefs passing attack consistently generate enough volume to support three receivers?
The Dude: Sammy Watkins
The Damage: As you may remember, Watkins was very quiet during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 1 shootout victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. While Tyreek Hill racked up a huge outing (7-169-2 on eight targets), Watkins compiled just three receptions for 21 yards on five targets. This past Sunday, the Chiefs went out of their way to get Watkins more involved. During their Week 2 road victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, five of Watkins’ seven targets came in the first 16 minutes of the game. He finished with six receptions for 100 yards and tacked on one carry for 31 yards. Is it safe to trust Watkins as a must-start option?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Is Watkins fantasy starter material? Yes. Is he a safe weekly start? Sometimes – be careful. The Patrick Mahomes-powered Kansas City passing attack is racking up some absolutely massive weekly production at a level that I don’t think is sustainable. Watkins, a one-dimensional deep threat, also checks in as the third option in the Chiefs passing attack behind Mahomes favorite Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Expect Watkins to be boom-or-bust fantasy option. His Week 3 home matchup against the San Francisco 49ers is favorable. However, Watkins owners will have to be cautious afterwards, as the Chiefs schedule gets tougher with matchups at the Denver Broncos (Week 4), home versus the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 5) and at the New England Patriots (Week 6).