By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
I told you to play Peyton Manning in Week 1. I was wrong.
Manning showed the same glaring issues that were present in his late-season decline in 2014. He couldn’t throw a deep pass effectively, and the Baltimore Ravens took away the short side of the field, forcing Manning to complete short passes to the long side of the field in what NFL.com’s Marc Sessler called “a blueprint for other teams to follow.”
But then, there was Week 2. Manning started in similar fashion, but turned it around in the second half, thanks to an increase in shotgun snaps, where Manning has done a good amount of damage over his career. Manning engineered a clutch drive for a tying touchdown, and Denver won 31-24 in stunning fashion.
So, I guess I wasn’t entirely wrong. Stick with Manning for the long haul.
But keep a good backup. Carson Palmer might be your guy, if he’s available.
Ameer Abdullah, running back, Detroit Lions
Abdullah has opened the most eyes among running backs in the rookie class of 2015, and for good reason. He had 50 yards and a rushing touchdown on seven carries to go along with four catches for 44 yards.
Abdullah was a focal point of an offense that found itself in a shootout. He outperformed fellow running back Joique Bell (six carries, 14 yards; two catches, 27 yards).
This week, Abdullah and the Lions face a Minnesota Vikings defense that made Carlos Hyde (26 carries, 168 yards, two touchdowns) look like an All-World running back. Abdullah won’t get the same number of carries as Hyde, but he’s a two-dimensional threat out of the backfield, dangerous as both a runner and pass-catcher.
Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota to slice them up all afternoon, passing for four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. This success for the Saints in Week 2.
Cooks is a guy most everyone has pegged for a major season. He didn’t live up to the billing in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, catching four passes for 49 yards. But against a Tampa Bay defense that allowed Kendall Wright to catch four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, Cooks has a great matchup on deck Sunday.
Dolphins defense/special teams
Special teams were a key factor in the Dolphins’ Week 1 win over the Washington Redskins. My favorite slot receiver to add, Jarvis Landry, showed his various talents by returning a punt for a touchdown.
This week, Miami faces a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is floundering. Newly minted captain and quarterback Blake Bortles completed 22-of-40 attempts for 183 yards and a touchdown, but more importantly threw two interceptions in the 20-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Miami’s defense is an even tougher matchup for Bortles and Co., which is still without big free-agent acquisition Julius Thomas. Expect more plays — and fantasy points — from a defense that will harass Bortles all afternoon.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers
Newton lost his greatest weapon before the season even began, when wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice. That left Newton with former Ohio State receivers Corey “Philly” Brown, and Ted Ginn Jr. That duo isn’t striking fear in the hearts of anyone.
With tight end Greg Olsen remaining as Newton’s best threat, the quarterback was limited to 175 yards and one touchdown, and threw an interception. This season won’t be easy for SuperCam, and with a Week 2 matchup against the Houston Texans, good luck.
The Texans boast real-life superhero J.J. Watt at one defensive end, and Jadeveon Clowney at the other. While Newton is mobile, Watt won’t be stymied by the passer’s ability to run. I mean, the guy made a sack last week after his helmet was ripped off. If that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep at night, I don’t know what does.
If it can get to Newton, the Texans’ pass rush will cause trouble all afternoon, which will likely result in mistakes, turnovers, and few fantasy points from Newton. Sit him down this week, for his own good.
Dion Lewis, running back, New England Patriots
Lewis was a great pickup on the waiver wire after a Week 1 performance that displayed his ability to both run the ball and catch it out of the backfield. But in Week 2, starter LeGarrette Blount returns from suspension, and will take carries away from Lewis. He’s still a threat as a pass-catcher, but it’s probable to think he’ll be less effective against the Buffalo Bills’ attacking defense. He might score you a few points, but is best served in the flex position, or better yet, on the bench.
Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans
Plenty of people were quick to grab Wright off the waiver wire after his game against the Bucs. But this week, the Tennessee Titans face an actual professional defense in the form of the Browns. Yes, Cleveland was manhandled on the ground in a loss to New York, but it did manage to intercept Ryan Fitzpatrick before Brandon Marshall strong-armed the ball back into the possession of the Jets.
The Browns’ secondary is ripe to rebound in Week 2, where it still faces a rookie quarterback who won’t have such an easy go. Wright will see direct effects of the Browns’ focus on limiting Mariota. Believe it or not, the Browns’ defense, which boasts the only secondary in the NFL with four Pro Bowlers in its secondary, is still a difficult test for opposing offenses.
The future does not look bright for Wright in Week 2.
It’s 2015, which means I’m a mere 140 characters away from discussing fantasy football with you. Tweet me @TheNickShook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with all of your questions, comments and sleep-depriving lineup decisions. Feel free to criticize me for the call on Manning, or anyone else, or approach me with a more pleasant tone about your fantasy football team. I’ll happily reply.