Stars of Week 2 

QB: Tom Brady, TB: 24-36, 276 yards, 5 TDs

RB: Derrick Henry, TEN: 35 carries, 182 yards, 3 TDs

WR: Cooper Kupp, LAR: 9 catches, 163 yards, 2 TDs

TE: Rob Gronkowski, TB: 4 catches, 39 yards, 2 TDs

Forty-four year old QB Tom Brady looks like he has another good 5-6 years in him. Will he play until he’s 50? The GOAT had a tidy 5 TD tosses against the hapless Falcons. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Brady’s a weekly must start. 

King Henry earned this week’s award for “grabbing a team’s soul and holding it in front of them”, with the Seahawks the victims. Henry had a mere 35 rushing yards at halftime, only to rampage for nearly 150 rushing yards in the second half plus overtime session. Henry scored all three of the Titans’ TDs, and he looks every bit like the top 5 RB that we were expecting heading into the season.  

Matthew Stafford’s move to Los Angeles has been a rousing success through the first two weeks, and it appears that Stafford has settled on Cooper Kupp as his favorite target. Who can quibble with that? Kupp found the end zone twice while racking up 163 receiving yards against the Colts. Kupp has inched up to a high end WR2, and it’s plausible that he moves into WR1 territory. In any event, Kupp needs to be in your lineup every week. 

We leave Gronk’s name here for the second consecutive week, as he once again found the end zone twice, this time in a win versus the Falcons. While Gronk looks as spry as he has in years, a word of caution here if you’re expecting a top 5 TE moving forward. As I wrote last week, the Bucs have several mouths to feed on offense, and there’ll be many weeks coming where Gronk doesn’t find the end zone. Those games will result in a paltry 4-6 fantasy points, similar to most tight ends. Gronk should be viewed as a high end TE2. If you can find a manager in your league to pay a ransom for Gronk in a trade, pull the trigger. 

Week 2 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Justin Fields, QB – CHI: 6-13, 60 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT (10 carries, 31 yards, 0 TDs)

Analysis: After a failed attempt to trade for Russell Wilson in the offseason, the Bears made a bold trade in the 2021 draft to move up and select Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Could Fields be the answer to the Bears’ decades’ long quest to find a franchise QB? Only time will tell, but you don’t have to wait to enjoy the benefits of Fields as a fantasy QB. Placeholder Starting QB Andy Dalton suffered an unfortunate knee injury, which thrust Fields into the game against the Bengals. As you can see from the stats above, Fields’ numbers weren’t anything remarkable. But let’s give Fields a mulligan here, as he was thrust into the lineup mid-game without going through a starter’s reps during the week. Here’s the deal – rushing quarterbacks have fantasy relevancy, whether or not they’re capable passers. Remember Saints’ QB Taysom Hill from last year? Now Fields is a much better passer than Hill. Think Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts as a reasonable comp for fantasy purposes. The Bears face the Browns next week, with an even juicier matchup following in Week 4…the Detroit Lions, baby! He’s startable in Week 3, and an absolute must start in Week 4. We still need to see what happens with Dalton, but in any event, this is your last chance to pick up Fields in case you need a QB. He’s available in approximately half of leagues, and expect that percentage to drop to single digits after this waiver period.  

- Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL: 16 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD

Tony Pollard, RB – DAL: 13 carries, 109 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: For years, Ezekiel Elliott has been the bell cow for the Cowboys, with his backups only relevant in case of an injury. Through two games, it’s Tony Pollard, and not a healthy Zeke, who leads the team in rushing. Pollard has 123 rushing yards to his name thus far with 7.7 YPC (16 carries), while Elliott boasts a mere 3.9 YPC en route to 104 yards (27 carries). Even without a magnifying glass, it’s clear that Pollard has outperformed Elliott thus far. So what to make of the Cowboys’ RB situation? First off, Tony Pollard is a thing and Zeke will be sharing carries, whether he’d like to or not. Pollard has been too productive for the Cowboys to leave on the bench. Thus far, Zeke has received roughly two-thirds of the carries in the timeshare, and that’s a ratio that will likely hold as we move forward. The Cowboys’ offense will produce more than enough fantasy points to spread the wealth, both through the air and on the ground. So don’t get too nervous about Zeke if you have him. But let’s recalibrate expectations moving forward. Zeke’s no longer an RB1, but now a high end RB2. Pollard moves to flex territory, and will become a top five play in the event that Zeke misses any time. In case Pollard remains available in your league, scoop him up asap.

- Rondale Moore, WR - ARI: 7 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Arizona Cardinals have been an offensive juggernaut these first two games, led by fantasy darling QB Kyler Murray. DeAndre Hopkins remains the team’s alpha for the team at wide receiver, but the number 2 spot has been up for grabs. While WR Christian Kirk enters year four with the team, and Bengals’ legendary WR AJ Green joined the team this past offseason, it’s rookie Rondale Moore who should have your attention. The second round pick from Purdue led the team with 8 targets against the Vikings, 7 of which were caught, resulting in 114 yards and a touchdown. Moore brings electricity to the position, serving as a threat to score any time he touches the ball. The Cardinals will keep feeding Moore the rock and will let him do his thing. Note that Moore only finished fourth in snaps at WR (per PFF), despite leading the team in Week 2 in catches and targets. Look for Moore’s snaps to continue to increase, which will solidify Moore as a weekly flex play. Moore’s a must add in all deeper leagues (12 plus teams), and a reasonable add in 10 team leagues. 

- Michael Pittman, WR – IND: 8 catches, 123 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: The Indianapolis Colts have a solid WR group, even if any individual names don’t arouse you. Hold that thought, as second year USC alum Michael Pittman announced himself ready for 2021 with 8 catches for 123 yards in Week 2. Pittman led all Colts in passing targets with 12, followed by TE Jack Doyle with 8 and fellow WR Zach Pascal with 6. No other Colts had more than 2 targets. So, QB Carson Wentz looked for Pittman early and often. While not a burner, Pittman has good hands and ability to make contested catches using his 6’4” frame. The Colts remain a run-first team, so here’s a thought on how to evaluate Pittman’s usefulness in fantasy - deploy Pittman in matchups where the Colts either 1) face a tough run defense, or 2) will need a lot of points to keep up with the other team. Pittman will provide flex value in those matchups, especially in PPR leagues. Now one more caveat, even if an obvious one – Wentz has to be the QB. I would not trust Jacob Eason or any other Colts QB backups to connect with Pittman enough to start him. The Colts face the Titans next week, who have a weak secondary. If Wentz plays, then Pittman will be a flex option. Pittman should be added in all PPR leagues and standard leagues with 12 plus teams.  

- Marquise Brown, WR – BAL: 6 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: Lamar Jackson delivered perhaps his signature regular season win to date, not only beating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on SNF, but doing so with much of his supporting cast on the injured list. During the Lamar Jackson era, the Ravens have had useful running backs and tight ends for fantasy lineups, but not so much for wide receivers. Well, that was until 2021. Third year WR Marquis Brown has made the jump this season, as he’s hauled in 6 passes (including a TD) in each of the Ravens’ first two games, while averaging 91 yards per game. The growth here belongs not only to Brown, but to Jackson as well, who’s improved his downfield throws to better utilize his receivers. Brown created separation with ease, and Jackson made good on getting him the ball. Importantly, Jackson targeted Brown 10 times against the Chiefs, showing the level of trust that has developed between the two. Brown needs to be upgraded to WR3 / flex status moving forward. In the few leagues where Brown remains available, snap him up now. If you’ve already got Brown rostered, get him into your lineups with confidence. 

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues. 

QB:                  Derek Carr, LV (vs MIA)

RB:                  James White, NE (vs NO)

RB:                  Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL (@ NYG)

WR:                 Darnell Mooney, CHI (@ CLE)

WR:                 Tim Patrick, DEN (vs NYJ)

TE:                  Jared Cook, LAC (@ KC) 

Personal Note

Thank you for reading my articles on RealGM! I have a request of you – if you enjoy my work, I kindly ask that you consider following me on Twitter if you aren’t already. My Twitter handle is @NeemaHodjatNFL. Your support is very much appreciated.