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Week 2: Judgment Day

The first week of the season is always filled with shocking moments, huge disappointments and surprising performances. It’s the most puzzling week of the season, and even though owners have finally gotten a first look at their players, there are still many questions that need to be answered.

This brings us to “Week 2: Judgment Day.” There are several high-profile players who severely disappointed owners in Week 1. Fortunately, one bad performance doesn’t doom a player to be a bust for the whole season. Two underwhelming performances in a row, though, and owners can legitimately start to get worried. Let’s take a look at the top players who are facing Judgment Day in Week 2.

Chris Johnson

There might not be a player in all of fantasy football under more pressure to perform in Week 2 than Johnson. Johnson’s Week 1 stats were beyond putrid, running the ball for 24 yards with six receptions for 25 yards. For a player that was drafted in the first round and in many cases a Top 3 pick, these gosh-awful numbers made a huge majority of Johnson owners lose their games last Sunday.

I’ve heard all the excuses. He had a long holdout. He was rusty. Coach Mike
Munchak had a horrid game plan. My response to all these excuses is simply this – they were playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have had one of the worst defenses in the NFL for years. There’s a reason any time you see a Jaguars matchup on your schedule you start getting excited. Even if Munchak’s game plan was terrible and Johnson was rusty, his stats should’ve been a lot better.

The next matchup for Johnson is the Baltimore Ravens, the team that held Rashard Mendenhall to 45 rushing yards and a fumble last weekend. The Ravens’ run defense is not impenetrable anymore and most of Mendenhall’s yards were in the first half, while the Pittsburgh Steelers still had the luxury of running the ball, pre-blowout. If the Tennessee Titans can keep things relatively close and Munchak doesn’t forget about the best player on this team, Johnson should have a solid game worthy of a first-round pick, even with the tough matchup. If he doesn’t and he starts the season with two clunkers, get ready for a lot of owners across America simultaneously pushing the panic button.

LeGarrette Blount

Drafted in the third round in most leagues, Blount’s 15-yard rushing effort against the Detroit Lions last weekend had many owners already giving him the “one-year wonder” label. Coach Raheem Morris has already gone on record that he doesn’t trust Blount on passing downs, which would explain why he wasn’t featured when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were trying to keep up with the Matthew Stafford Show in Detroit. All of these are massive red flags for Blount owners to consider going forward.

Thankfully, Blount’s upcoming schedule has some tasty matchups in the next three games. He faces the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, a team that was gashed for more than 200 rushing yards last weekend against the San Diego Chargers. His next two games after the Vikings are with my beloved and overrated Atlanta Falcons and the horrid Indianapolis Colts.

Blount won’t be able to blame the schedule for a slow start. The opportunities are there for Blount to make an early fantasy impact. It all starts in Minnesota though and if Blount can’t produce against the Vikings, he might be a bust for the rest of the season.

Shonn Greene

On a national stage, playing the Dallas Cowboys in primetime last Sunday night, Greene put another nail in the coffin for the “gaining steam” theory that he’s a lifelong bust. Not just a bust last year but a bust in general. After his 10-carry, 26-rushing yard effort against the Cowboys in primetime, the whispers are beginning to start that Greene might not have what it takes to be a feature back.

Greene’s rookie season was inconclusive as he had a couple sporadic good games but was injured on and off and had to share time with Thomas Jones. The foundation of Greene’s hype began in the 2009 playoffs, where he rushed for 263 yards in the first two games and had two touchdowns. His 53-yard touchdown run in the divisional round helped seal the game for the Jets and help guarantee him a place in owner’s minds as a “running back for the future.”

Unfortunately, his second season, where he was supposed to be the featured back, was a disaster. His numbers were hugely disappointing: 766 rushing yards with only two touchdowns. He was so bad that he let an ancient LaDainian Tomlinson steal the feature back role from him. This season was supposed to be the year that Greene finally broke out, and yet again, against the Cowboys, Tomlinson seemed to be the running back who the Jets kept turning to, especially in the second half.

One of the first articles I ever wrote for this site was in the summer of 2010 where I predicted that Greene would be one of the biggest busts of the year. I’m no stranger to this kind of talk. Still, with a seemingly easy matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, if Greene can’t finally get something going, the Jets and owners will need to start seriously thinking of going in a different direction.

Knowshown Moreno

Similar to Greene, Moreno is a running back that many owners have invested a lot of faith in this season. Moreno was drafted in the fourth round in most leagues and that means that he’s probably starting as a No. 2 running back, a critical spot on owner’s rosters. With coach John Fox’s boring, run-heavy offense firmly installed in Denver, many owners understandably thought that Moreno was due for a breakout year.

And then reality set in last Sunday night and Moreno had 22 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards and a lost fumble. To make matters worse, Moreno left the game hurt in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. He’s not even a lock to play this week as he was held out of practice on Wednesday. If Moreno can’t even suit for what should be a decent matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, his standing with fantasy owners will take a huge drop.

Too fragile to be healthy enough to handle a heavy workload. He’s a better receiver out of the backfield than a runner. He has Willis McGahee as a constant threat to steal touchdowns from him. When Moreno plays he’s not consistent enough to start on a regular basis. The negatives about owning Moreno keep adding up. Judgment Week is coming early for Moreno, and if he can’t perform he might lose the lofty draft position he’s had for the last couple seasons.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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