Week Two Risers and Fallers

by Jonathan Lange · Fantasy Football
Week Two Rankings

Week 2 is done, and fantasy gamers are re-evaluating everything we thought we knew after fantasy football Week 1. I know I’m having to rethink my Week 2 rankings after loading up on the New York Giants D/ST. They were supposed to have a cake walk, right?! The more we see these teams in action, the better we can understand their potential outcomes. Let this be a reminder that these Risers and Fallers aren’t just aimed at chasing points or shaming those who don’t score fantasy points. We are trying to understand how teams value certain players or how position groups compare against their competition. Let’s dive in!


Puka Nacua – WR, Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams were projected for a down season. And after Cooper Kupp suffered a setback with his hamstring injury, the team seemed doomed from the start. Nobody told Puka Nacua. The Rams’ rookie receiver has had an electric start to his career. He has set records for most receptions by a rookie in a game (15), and most catches over the first two games of a career (25). Matthew Stafford has locked in on the rookie, and Nacua is a reliable target for the veteran quarterback. One observation that hurt Nacua in the rookie evaluation process was his injury history. If he can remain healthy, not even a returning Cooper Kupp should stop fantasy managers from locking Nacua into lineups.

C.J. Stroud – QB, Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud was a late addition to the injury report with arm tiredness, so he headed into Week 2 with uncertainty. Even with most of his production coming while his team was trailing, his accuracy was on full display. Stroud finished with 384 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and Tank Dell and Nico Collins looked incredible. The Texans have proven that after two games, they are content to let Stroud throw early and often in any game situation. Stroud is starting to find his groove as an NFL quarterback, and this offense will be a dangerous foe late in the season.

Sam Howell – QB, Washington Commanders

Late in the offseason, Ron Rivera said, “If I would have known how good he is, I would have played him sooner.” As tilting as it is to hear a head coach say that, Commanders fans are relieved to be 2-0. Howell was one yard away from 300 yards passing. He’s thrown one interception this season and has not been a disaster under center. If Howell can continue to limit turnovers and hit talented receivers Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, he can continue to be locked in as a safe QB2 for superflex rosters.

Mike Evans – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

During draft season, you had to hold your nose when a leaguemate drafted Mike Evans. It was hard to get excited about the deep target for Baker Mayfield. Evans seemed doomed to fail. He and Mayfield had other plans in mind, however. Evans finished both games this year with a touchdown and an average of 118 receiving yards. The Bucs have commitment issues with regard to re-signing Evans. If things don’t work out the Bucs, he’ll get a big contract with a new team next season. Tampa will be stuck in negative game scripts, so expect more targets in a pass-friendly offense.


Cam Akers – RB, Los Angeles Rams

Congratulations, Cam Akers, for being the first Faller by doing absolutely nothing! Before the first wave of kickoffs Sunday, Akers became a healthy scratch. And the team is looking to trade the Florida State product. Fantasy analysts hyped Akers up coming into the season, as the Rams did not add any depth behind him. He can land on his feet in a fruitful fantasy environment, but keep in mind this is the second time Akers has clashed with the coaching staff in LA. Akers played his last snap for the Rams, and we’re only in Week 3. Kyren Williams, who is thriving as the bell cow back for the Rams, is an honorable mention Riser. Who knows how long it will last? Fantasy gamers who acquired Williams are happy. Not so much for those who drafted Akers.

Trevor Lawrence – QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

I’m a fan of Trevor Lawrence. After his rookie season with “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” it’s been exciting to watch the passer develop. But in a marquee match up against the best QB in the NFL, Lawrence threw for 216 passing yards, 53-percent completions and zero touchdowns. If Lawrence is to take his place among the elites, he must put these games behind him. He usually sprinkles a couple bonehead throws into his starts. We’re going to need less of that. Some touted Lawrence as the next Peyton Manning coming out of college, and while he will have a full career in the NFL, I’m beginning to see more Eli Manning than Peyton. Nothing wrong with that; Eli won two Super Bowls. Lawrence is talented, but it might be time to move on from the Peyton comparisons.

Rashaad Penny – RB, Philadelphia Eagles

I realize this is from Thursday night football, but I felt obliged to share this with the public. Rashaad Penny is a promising runner, but injuries have cut his seasons short. When he signed with the Eagles, fantasy gamers hoped he would be deployed in a committee and avoid injury. He had his big moment Thursday night against a Vikings defense going all out to stop the pass, and Penny finished with nine yards on three rushes. Boston Scott left the game with a concussion, and Kenneth Gainwell was already out with a rib injury. Still, Penny was unable to find a way to stay on the field and even when he was on the field, he was holding on a pass play and wiped a touchdown off the board.

Kyle Pitts – TE, Atlanta Falcons

“Hello Darkness, my old friend. I’ve drafted too much Kyle Pitts again.” Isn’t that how the song goes? It pains me to put Pitts here, but we must be honest. This offense is limiting his potential as a receiver. Desmond Ridder and the Falcons had more pass attempts in Week 2, and the ball was distributed to more pass catchers. But the tight end that had the most receptions at the end of the game? That was Jonnu Smith, who finished with more targets, receptions, and receiving yards than Pitts. Arthur Smith should be charged with treason. Pitts is the most athletically gifted tight end in the NFL, and he’s stuck in an offense from the 1960s. Then again, rookie tight end Mike Ditka had 1,000 yards receiving in 1961 for the Chicago Bears, so this Falcons offense is more traditional than some 1960s NFL offenses.


To recap, players rising up the ranks are Puka Nacua, C.J. Stroud, Sam Howell, and Mike Evans. The fallers are Cam Akers, Trevor Lawrence, Rashaad Penny, and Kyle Pitts. And, if we’re being technical, we can add Kyren Williams as a Riser. I’m sure I’ll be a much-respected contributor to the fantasy football space when Cam Akers gets traded to the Baltimore Ravens to be their new starting running back, Kyle Pitts gets fed the target share he deserves, and Trevor Lawrence unlocks his elite potential and becomes a top 6 fantasy QB for the remainder of the season.

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