Should we be worried?
First the good news, the hardest week to project and predict success for is in the books. Going forward, we have the benefit of information on our side. We now have some idea of the way teams plan on riding the horses we’ve hitched our fantasy wagons to. Players like Tyler Eifert, Keenan Allen and Marcus Mariota had tremendously encouraging days, which will boost their dynasty stock going forward. This article isn’t about them. It’s about the players we had high hopes for who completely missed the mark. Let’s take a look at some of these players and decide how we should handle them going forward.
Calvin Johnson, WR DET
After not playing a single preseason snap, it appeared as if Megatron’s armor was a bit oxidized. Hopefully, yesterday’s performance was the product of he and Matt Stafford needing more work to get in sync. There are a few things that trouble me, though. For one, he was checked by Brandon Flowers most of the day. I think Flowers is a very underrated cornerback, but he’s still eight inches shorter than Calvin. With an advantage like that, you’ve got to give the big guy a chance to win a few jump balls. They never did. Let’s take the worst case scenario and say Calvin has lost a step. I still see no reason he can’t make a living running the same underneath concepts Keenan Allen roasted the Lions defense on all day long. The next month offers little in the way of hope, as the Lions will face the Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks and Cardinals defenses in succession. Both Calvin and Stafford are in for a challenge each and every week. What will we be saying about this great receiver in a month’s time?
John Brown, WR ARI
I have always felt that as Carson Palmer goes, so goes John Brown. Well on Sunday, that wasn’t the case. Things got off to a promising start, with Brown snagging four catches for 46 yards in the first quarter, with a touchdown to boot. Then, like so many kids in their early 20’s, he got lost on Bourbon Street and didn’t turn up until it was time to catch the plane back home. Or at least that’s how it seemed as Brown didn’t have another catch for the rest of the contest. For his part, Carson went on to throw for 307 yards and three touchdowns. This outcome doesn’t entirely surprise me, as just last week I was having a conversation about Brown’s 2015 outlook,and stated that he would likely have a bunch of games with this sort of stat line, with 3-5 really big games mixed in between. Problem is, I thought yesterday would be one of those big games, against a beleaguered Saints secondary missing Keenan Lewis and Jairus Byrd. The worst thing a player can be in fantasy football is bad. The second worst thing a player can be is inconsistent. Until Brown proves to be a dependable contributor week in,and week out, it’s difficult to get excited about inserting him in your lineup. Maybe we should hold off on the “Smokey Brown” moniker, and just call him “Johnny Best-Ball” for the time being.
Melvin Gordon, RB SD
If you listen closely, you can hear a subtle drum beat of “I told you so’s” coming from the anti-Gordon crowd. In a head-to-head matchup with fellow rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, Gordon turned in far from a breakout performance, tallying just 51 yards on 14 carries, with another three receptions going for 16 yards. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead displayed his playmaking ability with over 60 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on the day. I, for one, was encouraged by what I saw from Gordon. For starters, he ran hard, refusing to go down on initial contact. He was left in on a number of passing downs, and pulled in a solid number of receptions. The San Diego offense looks to have a number of weapons to spread the ball around to, but Gordon is the best runner on the team, hands down. It won’t be long before his relentless effort starts turning those “three yards and a cloud of dust” runs into a broken tackles and a foot race. I own Gordon in a dynasty league, but he’s probably tied for third on my depth chart with Gio Bernard and Bishop Sankey right now. Looking at the Chargers upcoming schedule, I hope to break him out of moth balls in week five when the Bolts host the Steelers. From there, he has a nice stretch of games – @Green Bay, home against Oakland, @Baltimore and home against the Bears, where I think he could begin to really assert himself as a dependable asset.
Peyton Manning, QB DEN
We’ll tread lightly here, as we all remember just how finished Tom Brady looked early last season before getting his act together and winning his third Lombardi. It’s hard not to feel a sense of impending doom with Manning, however. He hasn’t just looked off going back to the end of last season, he’s looked shot. When we consider the neck injury, accompanying finger numbness, along with the quad injury which was blamed for last year’s collapse, how can you not feel this may actually be the end for the great #18? There have been small hints dropped by Manning in press conferences about the struggles they are having adapting to Gary Kubiak’s new scheme. We know John Elway and Manning went back and forth this off-season about negotiating Peyton’s salary down to help the team create cap space. One wonders what could have happened if Manning played hardball. Would the Broncos have moved on and started the Brock Osweiler era? Was there any validity to the rumors of trade talks between the Broncos and Houston Texans? Week two will be a massive challenge for Denver as they face the Chiefs who got off to a flying start by demolishing the Texans. The Kansas City Defense undoubtedly smells blood in the water, and will throw everything, including the kitchen sink at Manning. The outcome of that game could go a long way toward determining Denver’s level of patience with their struggling star, especially considering this team is otherwise built to win right now. For my money, this is the most fascinating match up of week two and we get to see it first.