Stepping In #2 ( Examining the role of the #2 WR, with guest writer, Jeff Brubach)
It's easy to target a number one WR on a prolific passing offense, and expect fantasy gold, but what about the often overlooked and undervalued #2 options? It can get muddied in big offenses, where they spread the wealth around, but I've asked razzball.com's Jeff Brubach, to impart his wisdom of the subject, and as always, two mugs are better than one. You can follow Jeff on Twitter .
Green Bay has numerous receiving weapons and Aaron Rodgers has been zinging out fantasy points as expected through two weeks. As we finally put the nail in the coffin of Donald Driver as the Green Bay #2 option, who takes his role? Despite Jordy Nelson’s 161 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season, Jermichael Finley is the answer. Finley is a monstrous target in the middle of the field and Rodgers even likes to line him up wide for fade routes near the goal line. This week against Carolina, Finley had a touchdown grab wiped out as he caught the ball but failed to “complete the catch” (which is an NFL rule I’m still grappling with), and will begin to see his touchdown numbers rise. Jordy is tough, but I can’t deny the talent and size of Finley.
Mike Wallace is the big dog here and will continue to dominate the Steeler targets and receptions. However, Large Ben hucks the ball around enough to make multiple receivers fantasy contributors. Hines Ward is ancient, and this situation feels like the Green Bay wide receiver depth chart a year ago when Driver was nearing his end. Both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are ready to take over but neither of the young receivers has pulled away from the other. Although he’s running of fumes, I anticipate Ward being the #2 option for the next few weeks as Roethlisberger continues to get familiar with the younger wide outs, then its Antonio Brown time. Speaking of which, he’s safely tucked away on my bench…jealous?
Everyone’s favorite Decepticon leads the Lions receiving crew, and while throwing for 599 yards and 7 touchies through two weeks, Matthew Stafford is in the process of making Nate Burleson one of the best #2 options in the NFL. Titus Young had a nice 5 catch, 89 yard performance against KC this week but I’m fairly certain I could haul in at least a couple bubble screens and a quick slant on the Chiefs defense this year. Young and Pettigrew will get their looks too, but with 14 targets, 12 grabs, and 153 yards through two games, Burleson is on his way to an excellent season.
Life behind Fitzgerald has been difficult this season. At first glance, popular week one waiver wire pickup Early Doucet seems to have a hold on the #2 spot in the Arizona receiving game, but I am not sold. Doucet turned a quick slant up field for a 70 yard touchdown in week one, which has heavily skewed his numbers. Tight end Jeff King’s 2 touchdowns look fancy, but his 2 for 27 yard stat lines aren’t as pretty if he doesn’t get in the end zone. The #2 option in Arizona is Andre Roberts, who is second on the team in targets with 11. I wouldn’t feel too pumped about starting him right now, but hopefully Roberts will continue to develop under the wing of Fitzgerald.
The Houston passing game has a few interesting options. Andre Johnson hogs most of the looks (20 targets in two weeks), but there are some decent players behind him who offer varying levels of fantasy risk. Kevin Walter has a bum shoulder, but is expected to be back this week. Jacoby Jones has been viewed as the Texan’s rising #2 wide out, but is wildly erratic. I would bet on the old steady, Owen Daniels as the #2 option in Houston’s air attack. Daniels has only 4 catches so far this year, but the Texan’s haven’t needed to air the ball out through the first two games (route of Indy/never trailed at Miami). I’ll skip the inconsistency of Walter and Jones and saddle up to the steady red zone beefer, Owen Daniels.
Let’s start out by stating that hunky Tom’s best buddy, Wes Welker, is the Patriot’s #1 passing option. Although the ball gets spread around quite a bit, Welker’s 23 targets so far this season put him on top of the mountain. Last night, I would’ve proclaimed Aaron Hernandez to be Brady’s #2 option, but with the news that he could be out of action for a month or more, we are forced to look elsewhere. I’m going to go with my main man Gronk. Besides being one beast of a tight end, I just enjoy watching a player who’s name feels appropriate to scream out both in celebration and in rage: “Charles tore his ACL…my team is Gronk’d” or “Austin just caught his 3rd TD…Im Gronking all over your grill this week!” At tight end, Gronkowski and Hernandez combined for 24 catches and 5 touchdowns in two games and now that will all be property of the Gronk. Big time stats are on the horizon for the young tight end.
This one is a mess. Even when Colston is healthy, handicapping this group of wide receivers is a crapshoot. For argument’s sake, we’ll say Colston takes the #1 spot when he returns. Henderson, Moore, and Meachem will all have big games with Colston out, but I’ll leave the “lets bet on which New Orleans receiver ends up with 2 catches for 17 yards this week” game up to the other people in my league… I have enough debt with the sharks downtown to get into that stuff. I’m going to stick with what will end up being the consistent option in the Saint’s passing game, and go with Jimmy Graham as the #2 option in New Orleans.
Since the Amendola injury, there has been wide spread speculation about who the hell is even an option in St. Louis, let alone a #1 or #2 wide receiver in fantasy. Until Amendola returns, it appears that Mike Sims-Walker is Bradford’s top target. Brandon Gibson is an intriguing young prospect and has produced some moderate numbers this season, but I’d stick with Sims-Walker until Amendola gets back into action and keep Gibson and Danario Alexander on deck as potential contributors as the season progresses.
The Bills #2 receiver emerged this week against Oakland, as David Nelson caught 10 balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Scott Chandler has the touchdown total, but Nelson is a fantastic wide out and his stats are actually on par with Stevie Johnson’s so far this season. As long as Fitzpatrick keeps winging the ball as he has thus far, I’ll feel comfortable rolling with Nelson and I’d be downright giddy if I owned him in a keeper/dynasty format.
I think it's safe to say that Greg Jennings is dialed in as the #1 option for Aaron Rodgers, but he does like to spread the wealth. His mobility allows him flexibility to hit his 3rd & 4th read. #2 Man?: Although Jordy Nelson is emerging, he doesn't get enough PPR love to make him viable week to week in diverse formats. Jermichael Finley is the #2 man in this offense, and if teams are fool hearted enough to single cover the beast, he'll continue to get plenty of looks from the Chico Kid.
If you're like me and you targeted Mike Wallace this year, you're thrilled with his production thus far. But with Hines Ward relegated to mainly blocking duties, who becomes Big Ben's 2nd favorite target? Heath Miller is mainly a blocker as well to help shore up a rag tag group of OL that aren't giving their QB much time to throw, so he's out of the mix by default. That leaves the sexy preseason pick of Antonio Brown & Emmanuel Sanders. Both are young, but I think Sanders is the most polished route runner, and ideally he should emerge as the #2 option.
Aren't you glad you took the "mugs" advice and waited on a QB in fantasy drafts...namely Matt Stafford? With explosive young weapons at his disposal, and an OC who isn't afraid to air it out, his production should continue throughout the season. Megaton Calvin Johnson is locked in firmly as a premier number one, but the number 2 WR may still have you a bit puzzled. #2 Man? Nate Burleson. He's high on my "Hot Garbage" waiver wire list this week, and in PPR leagues, I think he can be a nice every week flex option. With Mega seeing rolled coverage on a weekly basis, Burleson will reap the benefits. My guess is that Pettigrew & Scheffler will cancel each other out in the red zone each week, so Burleson is the most consistent option.
It's tough to get a read from a QB with a new team, like Kolb after only his 2nd start, but we'll give it a shot. Larry Fitzgerald may end up being the most targeted WR in all of football, but #2 remains a mystery. #2 Man? I'm not sold on anyone thus far, as last week it was Early Doucet looking to grab hold of the #2 job, and seemingly falling off the map. Andre Roberts? He's failing to emerge as well. My advice? TRADE FOR FITZGERALD!! Until we get another week of increased production from Doucet or Roberts, pump the brakes.
I'm a big fan the Houston offense as you know, but the big question is who gets the leftovers after Cortland Finnegan-pummeling-warrior-WR Andre Johnson is done feasting? For me, the answer is easy... #2 Man? TE Owen Daniels. After a down week one, Daniels saw the end zone. He only racked up 3 catches, but I expect that to change. Arian Foster coming up stiff after a limited workload this past Sunday means more carries for Ben Tate, but more importantly, circumventing a dinged up running game with the passing game underneath. I expect the talented Daniels to continue to command the ball more from Matt Schaub.
If you drafted Chad Ocho Cinco expecting him to emerge behind Brady binky, Wes Welker--my condolences. Chad played one less snap vs. SD than he did Miami. Not exactly a vote of confidence. Will that change? Let's review... #2 Man? Wes Welker is a PPR machine and Tom Brady's first read...on just about every play. What may surprise some (not Ol' Uncle Rummy), is that Aaron Hernandez who plays fewer snaps than fellow TE Rob Gronkowski, has one less catch than team leader Welker. Unfortunately, as I was writing this piece, we learned via @shalisemanzayoung on Twitter, Hernandez may be out multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. Gronk gets the uptick, Ocho will benefit from more snaps, and the clear cut #2 WR may have to wait a week.
Teams like the Saints may be more infuriating than most, because week to week it varies. Factor in injuries to #1 Colston, and the swamp gets murkier. But for now... #2 Man?: Believe it or not, "Hot Garbage" guy Darren Sproles is becoming a big part of this offense and is offering a calming and reliable presence for Drew Brees. Putting up WR #1 PPR numbers with 15 total catches, you have to think outside the box, especially in the unpredictable Sean Payton offense.
Sam Bradford goes into year two of his NFL career, still not knowing who his go-to guy is. With Danny Amendola on the mend, Mike Sims-Walker stepped into the #1 role. Danario Alexander is warranting attention as a deep threat with lots of risk, mostly due to two bad knees that are likely flaring up as I write this article. #1 or 2 Man? Right now? It's Brandon Gibson. I type this with little fanfare, as another WR could easily emerge as Amendola works his way back into the lineup.
The Buffalo Bills are 2-0! No, that is not a typo. Ryan Fitzpatrick was Forbes' guy last year, and he continues to just make plays and blue collar his team to wins. His #1 guy is last year's "Flex Luthor," Lil' Stevie Johnson. Number 2? Let's take a look... Again, the blue collar aspect of this team permeates throughout, as seemingly "out of nowhere" TE Scott Chandler now has 3 red zone TDs, and could continue to see looks in the red zone. David Nelson, the wideout from Florida had a breakout game to the tune of 10 catches, 83 yards and a TD. Factor in Donald Jones, and you have a full fledged, SheCHANigans going on in Orchard Park. My best guess would be this week, the Pats will try to limit Fred Jackson & Steve Johnson, so Chandler would be my bet to score, & if Stevie Johnson is limited with a groin injury, Nelson will get most of the bracket coverage. Going forward, Nelson certainly has the upside of a full fledged #2 WR with #1 potential, so keep your eye on the situation.
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