The second week of NFL action brought more offensive explosion, but injuries ravaged the league on Sunday afternoon. Saquon Barkley, Raheem Mostert, Parris Campbell, and many other poor souls were taken out of the day’s action, and fantasy gamers will have to react quickly to bounce back given the various roster holes that have opened up. Let’s take a look at what we learned this week through the lens of PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics.
Thursday Night Breakdown: Browns Ground Game Rolls
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both scored twice Thursday night in a surprisingly entertaining interdivision contest. It was the usage split that had been foretold all offseason. Though both players were able to cash in this time against a depleted Bengals defensive line. Chubb led the way with 22 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Hunt carried 10 times for 86 yards and a score and caught two balls for 15 yards and a touchdown.
The running backs are both rock solid fantasy starters, and it was encouraging to see the Browns offense look more cohesive after a nightmare Week 1. Kevin Stefanski dialed up play action over and over, improving Baker Mayfield‘s line and making for an easier time in the running game. Mayfield boosted Odell Beckham backers with a 43-yard touchdown strike and made crisp, high-efficiency plays throughout the night. With exploitable matchups against Washington, Dallas, and Indianapolis next, it was what Browns fans needed to see to have a bit more confidence.
Action: Both Chubb and Hunt deserve a spot in your starting lineup every week. On the other side of the ball, Joe Burrow attempted 61 passes. He spread the ball around all night, and one player had a quick rise to relevancy in the second half. Drew Sample, a former second round pick and a plus-athlete, saw nine targets and caught seven for 45 yards after C.J. Uzomah was lost to injury. Sample will be an under-the-radar waiver add after injuries decimated the league on Sunday. Don’t overlook him.
Lesson Two: Josh Allen is… Consistent?
Josh Allen produced 444 yards of offense on Sunday. This after he stacked up 369 yards last Sunday. Allen has transformed himself from a high-volatility player into, through two weeks, one of the most consistently productive players at the quarterback position. The Bills have had choice matchups, sure, but Allen’s ability to capitalize on them feels like a new wrinkle in his previously low-floor, high ceiling game.
700+ passing yards, 6+ TDs, 0 INTs, first two weeks of a season:
Peyton Manning, 2013
Tom Brady, 2015
Patrick Mahomes, 2019
Josh Allen, 2020
— ProFootballReference (@pfref) September 20, 2020
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called the most 4WR sets in the league in Week 1, and Allen rose to the occasion. His play volume went down in Week 2 (35 attempts this week after 46 last week) but the efficiency remained. This is tangible growth from a player with serious upside.
Stefon Diggs-backers were rewarded for believing in talent with Sunday’s line of 9-153-1. Diggs has returned value on his ADP thus far in Daboll’s well-oiled offense. While tougher matchups are coming (vs LAR, @LVR, @TEN up next), Diggs is a player to keep the faith on.
Action: Allen remains among the highest-ceiling DFS plays at the QB position. His rushing floor and newfound connection with Diggs represents a lower-cost stack in both cash games and tournaments.
Lesson Three: Surprised Justin Herbert Pleasantly Surprises
Justin Herbert drew his first career start against Kansas City, in a shock to both the football world and Herbert himself. Though it wasn’t the disaster it could’ve been. Herbert responded with a cool 311 yards, one pick, and one beautiful touchdown pass to Jalen Guyton. He also ran in an 11-yard score. The Oregon product responded to an underrated KC pass rush with accurate throws and a willingness to take shots.
Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert were both effective passing under pressure today.
Mahomes Under Pressure
➤ 6/11, 64 yards, TD (+1.7% CPOE)
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 21, 2020
Herbert came in completely cold and pushed the Super Bowl champs to an overtime nail-biter. He had command over his offense, and while Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley both did a ton of heavy lifting, Herbert kept the team on the field and boosted the values of Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry instantaneously.
Action: Anthony Lynn claims Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starter if he’s healthy. That’s all well and good, but if he wants his team in more competitive spots, he needs to start Herbert, who looks like a promising player. Injuries have struck the fantasy game hard and if Herbert is on waivers, he’s got to be a high priority add, primarily in Superflex and 2QB leagues.
Lesson Four: Big Ben is All the Way Back
Seeing is believing, and Ben Roethlisberger has put it all together two weeks in a row. He’s passed for over 500 yards and five touchdowns to just one pick through two games. The Von Miller-less Broncos only got to Ben once, even with the Steelers offensive line down three starters from Week 1, and James Conner returned from injury to cobble together a 100-yard game. With a healthy Roethlisberger, a wicked defense, and a running game even finding success behind a hobbled OL, this team is primed for a deep run into the winter.
Steelers target leaders through two games:
5. James Conner – 6
4. Eric Ebron – 7
3. James Washington – 8
2. JuJu Smith-Schuster – 14
1. Diontae Johnson – 23
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 20, 2020
Diontae Johnson has seen a whopping 23 targets through two weeks. He makes defenders miss, he tracks the ball well, and he’s been a clearly trusted asset despite his mistakes. Chase Claypool has also made his presence known, following up an acrobatic catch in Week 1 with a three catches for 88 yards and a score on three targets Sunday. His production all came on an 84-yard bomb in which he out-leapt a defender and burned the rest of the way down the field. He won’t be a reliable fantasy starter, but he’s about as athletic a WR3/4 as we’ll find. Kevin Colbert and his scouts are just better than everyone else at scouting wide receivers. Truly impressive.
Action: Roethlisberger and company draw the hopeless Texans next week, and he will offer a low-owned stack with his receivers. Especially Juju Smith-Schuster, who will see basement-level ownership. The Steelers were put into a competitive Game Script against the Broncos and Roethlisberger’s arm looked well up to the task. He’s a rock-solid starter from here on out with so many athletic playmakers to throw to.