FANTASY FOCUS – WEEK 2
Welcome back to the Fantasy Focus series here at 5 Yard Rush. The always tricky to navigate week one results are finally behind us and we have some tangible data now to make our usual “educated” predictions. There were a few eyebrow raising upsets, breakout performances and some consistent producers. Week two is now when we begin to pick up patterns. For now, let’s take a few educated predictions.
Game 1: Baltimore Ravens (1-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) (SNF – 18:00 BST)
The Ravens were granted a rather favourable opening week opponent and made light work of the Texans. It was a very rusty performance for the Ravens with Lamar Jackson largely underperforming in fantasy production. The big alarm bell for the Ravens is losing JK Dobbins for the season so it will be interesting to see who takes over this backfield workload. The Bengals and Joe Burrow had an opening week to forget. Losing to the Browns 24-3 in Cleveland. Burrow, Mixon, Chase and Higgins were all very disappointing and will be looking to bounce back in another Divisional Rival match, this time in front of their home fans.
With JK Dobbins suffering a season ending Achilles injury. The Ravens backfield job is up for grabs. Although Gus Edwards was the more efficient, Justice Hill was given the vital goal line touches resulting in two touchdowns for him. Game script against the Bengals will surely lead itself to a higher scoring game and even a negative game script for the Ravens. Gus Edwards will get the workload I believe, but Lamar Jackson and Zay Flowers are the fantasy starts for this week.
Burrow bounce back?
Joe Burrows stat line from week one surely can’t get any worse for Fantasy owners. The lack of chemistry with his offence in general was slightly worrying, but can arguably be correlated to his pre-season injury. Burrow is an elite talent and it will be a matter of time before he consistently is one of the top performers in the league. This week in front of a home crowd, with an even more important Divisional game (after losing to the Browns). I expect Burrow to bounce back on a Ravens Secondary most likely missing Marcus Williams.
- Bengals to win by 9pts+
- Burrow 300+ passing yards, Chase 100+ receiving & TD Reception
- Lamar Jackson 60+ rushing yards and rushing TD
Game 2: Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) (SNF – 18:00 BST)
The Chiefs were upset in week one by the passionate Lions. Missing Travis Kelce exposed the clear lack of elite receiving quality in the Chiefs offence. I think a few alarm bells must have gone off in Kansas as they will have to scheme better going forward. If Kelce misses anymore time. The Jaguars went about business impressively to start the season. Coming off their highs in 2022, they needed to make an instant statement in the battle for the AFC South. Lawrence continues to mature into a real stud and the addition of Ridley has only added an extra dimension to an already exciting offence. The Chiefs will want an immediate response to their week 1 defeat. Although, I actually think the Jags will be tougher opposition than the Lions. I expect the ex-Super Bowl Champs to start the season 0-2!
The big news last week for the Chiefs was the absence of Travis Kelce. Fantasy fans around the world all had an opinion on who would take over the keys to the Chiefs receiving Kingdom. Noah Gray, Rashee Rice and Kadarius Toney all received a team high of 5 targets last Thursday. Toney being the most frustrating, as he only managed 1 reception for 1 yard. I think Toney owners need to keep faith a while longer, as he will have a point to prove. His explosive tendencies should lead to him carving out an important role within this Chiefs offence.
It is as if Ridley had never left.
Ridley had last suited up for an NFL game in October 2021 prior to Sunday’s game vs the Colts. There were a lot of question marks surrounding his return. Would he be under prepared? Would he mentally be able to take on the workload again? But, the one question without a doubt that we answered prior to kick off was that Ridley had an elite passing QB under centre in Trevor Lawrence. 11 targets for 8 receptions with 101 yards and a touchdown reception. An emphatic performance to re-announce himself to the league. Ridley has clearly taken over the role as lead receiver from Christian Kirk and as long as Lawrence is fit, Ridley should be a top 12 WR throughout the season.
- Chiefs continue to stutter on offence, Jags win by less than 5 points
- Kelce back, 75+ receiving yards and 1 TD reception
- Lawrence throws for 300+ yards and 3+ TD’s including Etienne & Ridley TD receptions
Game 3: San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0) (SNF – 20:05 BST)
An NFC west historic rivalry is what lies ahead in week two, as the Rams host the 49ers. Both teams started their campaign with victories and both offences put up 30 points. The manner in which both sides won however, were two completely different stories. The 49ers were in complete control through their game against the Steelers over the weekend. With usual fantasy sweetheart Christian McCaffrey doing what he does best. Whilst Brandon Aiyuk had a field day with 2 receiving touchdowns. The Rams on the other hand came from 13-7 down at half time to put up 17 unanswered second half points as they surprised the Seattle Seahawks in a vital NFC West matchup. The real highlights from that Rams performance were the 100 yards receiving for rookie Puka Nacua and third year wideout Tutu Atwell. As well as three rushing TD’s for the Rams backfield.
After the past couple of seasons, Deebo Samuel has been considered the number one Wide Receiver in San Francisco. But, this last week we saw Aiyuk essentially stake claim to that role. Aiyuk saw eight targets and Deebo saw seven. So, the share was relatively even. However, Aiyuk caught two Touchdown passes and Deebo saw none. Aiyuk was also more of the downfield threat versus Deebo who was involved more in the screens and short dump off plays. They are both Fantasy relevant and it will be very difficult to predict each week but I would begin to label Aiyuk as the number one wide receiver to own on this offence.
Nacua straight into that Kupp role
15 targets on one’s rookie debut is pretty impressive. The fact a Super Bowl winning Quarterback in Matthew Stafford, back from injury has that much faith in Nacua is down to two factors. Either not many other options or he is going to be a serious talent and the answer could well be a bit of both. Nacua was exceptional and barely put a foot wrong. He is an excellent route navigator and that is what Stafford looks for. They seem to have built up a good rapport. Nacua is bound for up and down weeks but as long as Stafford is under centre and Cooper Kupp remains out, Nacua is a smash start week in, week out.
- Rams brought back down to earth, 49ers win by 10+ points
- TD’s shared around with Kittle and Deebo both crossing for a TD each
- Rams play from behind, Nucua another 100 yard receiving game