Lessons Learned- Week 2 NFL 2022

by Al Scherer · Matchups Start/Sit

When there is so much going on, what should fantasy gamers and sports fans focus on? This is the question I will answer for you in this series of articles entitled, “Lessons Learned.” Here are the lessons we learned in Week 2 of the NFL season.

1) Thursday Breakdown – Sell High Time for RBs?

Austin Ekeler‘s and Clyde Edwards-Helaire‘s holds on spots near the top of RB rankings are more precarious than they might seem.

Ekeler, after a 67-percent (No. 9) Snap Share, 70 receptions and over 200 carries in 2021, mentioned he wouldn’t mind seeing less playing time in 2022. So far, he’s getting his wish, with his snaps down to 57-percent after two weeks.

The Other Running Backs

Ekeler has not run the ball well so far – just 75 yards on 28 carries (2.7 Yards Per Carry) and no scores. In Week 2, when the Bolts entered the Red Zone, they gave the ball to Sony Michel and threw a touchdown to Zander Horvath. But, hey, after seeing only four targets in Week 1, Ekeler received 10 on Thursday, so he’s back to his pass-catching ways, right? Well, six of those 10 came in 4th-quarter comeback mode. Unless the Chargers struggle with other teams as much as they did with Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Thursday night (hint: they won’t), there won’t be nearly as much comeback mode in weeks to come.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire sits top-5 in RB fantasy scoring after two weeks. His early-season 19 point-a-game pace would have finished No. 3 last year. Clyde’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry and getting a few catches. But some storm clouds are rolling in amidst the Edwards-Helaire sunshine. His snap share has fallen from 59-percent (No. 17) as a rookie, to 51-percent (No. 29) last year, and now sits at 41-percent through two games in 2022. In neither game this year has Clyde had more than eight carries or four targets.

When the Chiefs reached the Chargers’ nine-yard line in the 2nd quarter Thursday, Mahomes threw to McKinnon for a score. In the 3rd quarter, down by three points and at Los Angeles’ 3-yard line, the Chiefs went McKinnon-pass-pass. When that didn’t work, they kicked a field goal rather than try again from the one yard line. A single, late 52-yard 4th quarter run boosted an otherwise muted performance. There are just too many options in Kansas City, and the Chiefs don’t seem to want to commit to Clyde.

Action: Don’t be eager to move Ekeler or Edwards-Helaire, but consider offers if you get them.

2) I drafted Trey Lance… Now What?

Trey Lance was carted off the field today with a fractured ankle; he is out for the year. While we of course wish the best for him and a complete recovery, fantasy managers must move on and take action. Here are options to consider:

Jared GoffAmon-Ra St. Brown is a stud. With nine catches today, he became just the second receiver in modern NFL history with eight or more catches in eight straight games. D’Andre Swift is a great athlete and pass receiver. Jameson Williams, who would have been the No. 1 WR selected in the NFL draft had he not torn his ACL in January, will join the team soon enough. In the fantasy playoffs, Goff will play the Jets, Panthers, and Bears.

Jimmy Garoppolo – Hey, at least he’s a starter with a good receiving corps on a team that’s going to win. He’s a good bet to still be available on the waiver wire. Pay what you must to get him because he’ll start and put up usable stats.

Joe Flacco – He’s 100 years old but has Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore and even Corey Davis to throw to. He’ll be a decent stop gap measure while you wait for rookies like Ridder or Pickett to get their chance.

Desmond Ridder – Atlanta is 0-2. They’re not going to compete in 2022. While Mariota has tried his best, when Week 9 rolls around, the Falcons will have faced the Buccaneers, 49ers, Bengals, and Chargers. They will give their rookie QB some playing time. Marcus Mariota played with head coach Arthur Smith in Tennessee but only signed a one-year deal.

Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh stunned Cincinnati in Week 1. However, that win was driven by a relentless defense. It was not a result of a barely-above 50-percent passing effort by Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky threw for five yards per attempt in Week 2 and lost to the Patriots. With upcoming matchups against Cleveland, the Bills, Bucs and suddenly-interesting Jets, it won’t be much longer before the Steel City faithful scream for their rookie QB.

Davis Mills – Mills is not likely on waivers but available in trade. After a slow start in Weeks 1 and 2 against tough Colts and Broncos defenses, the Texans’ schedule will get much better. This includes fantasy-friendly matchups against Kansas City, Tennessee, and Jacksonville in the fantasy playoffs.

Action: If any of these QBs are available on waivers, act now. If none are, look for trade candidates who might have started slower than we’d have liked.

3) Russ not Cooking at Elevation, either?

When Russell Wilson arrived in the Mile High City, the Denver Broncos jumped as high as fifth in Super Bowl odds. Wilson, finally freed from stodgy old Pete Carroll, became a top-tier MVP candidate. Were these lofty expectations too much? Based on early returns, absolutely.

There are a number of challenges that Wilson will have to overcome to live up to those great expectations.

First, Denver knows they’re not going to outgun Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, or Derek Carr. Their best chance to win will be to play strong defense, manage the clock with a strong running game, and have Russ avoid mistakes in the passing game. Hey… where have we heard that before?

Second, will Wilson’s scrambling ability keep the Broncos out of trouble? I’m guessing not so much at 33 years old. Last year, he only attempted 3.1 carries per game (No. 21) and his 13.1 Rush Yards per Game ranked No. 23 amongst quarterbacks. He’s rushed three times through two weeks this year.

Lastly, is Wilson a great deep ball thrower? He used to be. Wilson finished No. 7 or better in Deep Ball Completion Percentage three times between 2015 and 2019. But in the last two seasons, he’s finished No. 26 and No. 22. His 2022 Week 1 long scoring pass was an under-throw to Jerry Jeudy.

As Jeudy patiently waited for the ball to float into his arms, the defender ran into him and fell down, leaving Jeudy free to scamper into the end zone. 11 of Russ’s 29 Week 1 completions were to Javonte Williams with an Average Depth of Target of -0.5 yards. In Week 2, despite outlasting the Texans, Wilson couldn’t solve the Houston defense. He completed less than half his throws. Courtland Sutton was his only wide receiver to catch more than one ball.

After the loss of Tim Patrick, he’s left with Sutton and Jeudy. With Jeudy leaving Week 2 with a shoulder injury, no one would favor Denver’s receiver corps over D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Action: The Broncos’ schedule in the fantasy playoffs include the Cardinals, Rams and Chiefs. They might be high-scoring affairs, or the Broncos might try to take the wind out of the sails and slow the game down. Don’t sell low now on Russell but look for other QB options.

4) The Bengals were supposed to be better than this!

We drafted all the Cincinnati skill position players early. However, the Bengals sit 0-2 and have been bested by the likes of Mitchell Trubisky and Cooper Rush.

What’s going on here? One of the few weakness of last year’s AFC champs was their offensive line. The Bengals allowed 55 sacks, No. 3-most in the league, and barely kept Joe Burrow alive. So, they made the necessary offseason investments to protect their franchise QB and seal their upcoming dynasty by signing three new starting linemen in La’El Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. They also added tight end Hayden Hurst.

Based on 2022’s earliest returns, that investment has yet to pay off. They’re now 0-2, and, small sample notwithstanding, after two games, they’re on pace to allow 110 sacks. That, of course, won’t do. They say that offensive lines take time to gel. We can only hope.

Action: Consider this a minor Bengals buying opportunity if anyone is panicking.

5) Start all your Skill Players against Baltimore!

Even though my Scott Fish Bowl 12 opponent started both Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa against me this week, Baltimore-Miami was a thrilling game to watch. The Dolphins put up 28 4th quarter points to stun the Ravens.

Tagovailoa is now graced with two stud, speed-burning wide receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, so Miami should never be considered out of a game. Both receivers put up 11 catches, 170 yards and two TDs on Sunday.

Jaylen Waddle Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

But Baltimore’s defense and play calling did their part to help Miami, too. The Ravens’ 2021 defense was supposedly awful because of injury. Well, the New York Jets out-gained the healthy 2022 Ravens in Week 1 by more than 100 yards with Joe Flacco throwing for 307 yards. In Week 2, starting the 4th quarter with a 14-point lead and the ball, the Ravens chose not to run out the clock. Instead, the Ravens decided to throw the ball 14 times in their last 18 plays. Lamar Jackson ran the ball once himself; they handed the ball to one of their running backs just three times during that collapse.

Action: Start all skill players against Baltimore. If you play in a DST league and have rostered the Ravens, look in another direction.