Cardinals' recent run of success hiding lack of fantasy value
Cardinals are 7-1 in last eight games but players have produced little in fantasy
After Aaron Hernandez's injury, Wes Welker found himself key Pats target again
C.J. Spiller is averaging 10.1 yards per carry through first two games of season
Week 2's action in the NFL was fast and furious with eye-popping performances, unbelievable comebacks and some unfathomable upsets.
Pulling off the most striking story of the day were the Arizona Cardinals going into Foxborough and leaving as the first visiting team to win a Patriots home opener in the history of Gillette Stadium. Despite the win, the Cardinals managed to leave the lightest of fantasy footprints.
Larry Fitzgerald caught one ball for four yards, which translates into roughly 1.4 points in PPR leagues, 0.4 in standard leagues that allow partial points or ZERO in those that award on 10-yard increments.
Two more widely-owned yet sparingly-started Cardinals, running backs Beanie Wells (14 rushes, 44 yards plus a 24-yard reception) and Ryan Williams (10 carries for 13 yards; two receptions, 10 yards, plus a Joe Pisarcik-like fumble with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter that gave Stephen Gostkowski a chance to kick -- and miss -- a game-winning field goal) did not lead any fantasy owners to victory.
Arizona's touchdown scorers were Andre Roberts (owned in less than one percent of leagues) and Kevin Kolb (owned in less than 0.5 percent of leagues). Kicker Jay Feely (less than 1.5 percent owned) had eight points. And tight end Todd Heap, a former fantasy starter and owned in a whopping 0.6 percent of leagues, was arguably the most effective Cardinal, catching five balls for 62 yards.
What a bunch of duds, right? Well, somehow, with a revolving door at quarterback that has produced a combined 75.8 rating and a running game that's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, the Cardinals are 2-0 this year. But the most amazing fact is since December 1, 2011, these same Cardinals have the NFL's best record at 7-1. Yet we may never see a better contrast between success on the gridiron and in fantasy football.
There was plenty of other action throughout the day. Here are the fantasy winners and losers based on the action so far this week.
Wes Welker, Patriots. Following Welker's offseason contract squabbles, it appeared that Bill Belichick was sending a loud and clear message to The Slot Machine by starting and playing Julian Edelman ahead of him. However, Aaron Hernandez's ankle injury provided Welker with some light, allowing Welker to look like Welker again, hauling in five balls (on 11 targets) for 95 yards. Hernandez may be gone until November, so Welker will have plenty of time to endear himself on the field to the Patriots brass.
Cleveland Browns rookies. On opening day the Browns' first-year tandem of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden looked completely lost against the Eagles, combining for just 157 yards of total offense. They both bounced back strong against the Bengals, with Weeden throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns while Richardson gained 109 yards on the ground with a touchdown and 36 more through the air with another touchdown. Richardson is back to starter status, and depending on the next few games and the matchup you have, Weeden could find himself as a viable option as a bye-week replacement
The Bushes. Miami's offense steam-rolled the Raiders, and Reggie Bush looked like he was back in his USC days, twisting, spinning and accelerating his way to 172 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He also chipped in another three catches for 25 yards while extending his string of 100-yard games from scrimmage to six. In Green Bay, Matt Forte suffered a multi-week high ankle sprain that will put Michael Bush, already a valuable commodity as the Bears' goal-line back, in the starting lineup. A career 4.2-yards per carry back, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound former fullback will be worth starting in most leagues in Forte's absence.
Robert Griffin III. We were all warned during the offseason not to compare RGIII to Cam Newton and how the rookie from Baylor couldn't possibly keep up with the furious pace set by Newton last season. Well, Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome, Griffin looked a lot like Newton, running for two scores and throwing for another. He displayed an advanced blend of poise, elusiveness, decision-making and arm strength. It won't be long before we'll be comparing the next wave of great, young, mobile quarterbacks with him. He's officially someone who you can start with confidence in Week 3 week against the Bengals.
Chris Johnson, Titans. Let's not beat a dead horse, but let's also acknowledge that 21 yards on 19 carries through two games could actually be a strong indicator that Johnson is, for fantasy purposes, a dead horse.
Ronnie Brown, Chargers. The former Wildcat weapon came up empty when many owners were counting on him to produce while filling in for Ryan Mathews. He has managed 13 yards on nine carries in two games, with a long run of four yards, and lost carries to Curtis Brinkley and Jackie Battle along the way. With Mathews poised for a return to the lineup there's absolutely no reason to have Brown on your roster. With the way he's playing, the Chargers may soon have the same feeling.
Fred Jackson, Bills. Jackson could well be Wally Pipped by C.J. Spiller, who is averaging 10.1 yards per carry, the most in the league through two games since Donovan McNabb (10.9 in 2003) and the best for a back since Clarence Davis had 11.4 for the 1971 Raiders (minimum 10 attempts). Barring injuries, Jackson's monopoly on Buffalo's carries is largely over, leaving many fantasy owners in a bind.
Danny Amendola, WR, Rams: A PPR machine, how was he still available in four out of every five leagues?
Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams: Steven Jackson is old and he has a sore groin. Richardson is ahead of Isaiah Pead as the Rams primary backup.
Jackie Battle, RB, Chargers: He looks to have inherited Mike Tolbert's old role, which should equate into touchdowns even after Ryan Mathews returns.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: Miami's top target drew a lot of praise over the offseason from new coach Joe Philbin, drawing Jordy Nelson comparisons.
Shaun Draughn, RB, Chiefs: On a team with two seemingly stronger running backs, he's had two solid, if unspectacular, games so far. Purely depth for the desperate at this point.
Dante Rosario, TE, Chargers: Three touchdowns in place of Antonio Gates were surely a fluke. Or were they?
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions: Look whose suspension is over. He could have an impact on a backfield in desperate need of an impact player.