2020 Season: Week 2 Recap


Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

Not much to say here. Let's jump right into our Week 2 recap.

Standout Performers

CH: Props to not only Dak Prescott, Week 2's QB1 (at it stands pre-MNF), but just the whole damn Dallas Cowboys team. How on earth they won that game against Atlanta is beyond me. 

Due to the massive wave of injuries, it didn't seem like there were many huge breakout games aside from some QBs, but RB Aaron Jones stole the show for the Packers much like he did last year at times. The gap between he and the next closest player for Week 2 at RB is quite sizable. With Davante Adams maybe out (check out Malcolm's injury recap piece for more on that), there's potential for Jones to go ham much like he did last year in Adams' absence. While we at The Lateral still anticipate TD regression from last year for Jones, it may not be any time soon for all we know. 

I'd also like to take a moment to shoutout Titans TE Jonnu Smith, the proud owner of back-to-back solid performances that saw him land in the end zone a total of 3 times and a good target share from QB Ryan Tannehill. With A.J. Brown presumably still sidelined, you've got to get your hands on Jonnu Smith. His ownership percentage on ESPN is still only 40.3%. Given how few quality TEs there are in fantasy football, Smith feels like a waiver priority to me.

MM: There are several players that had outstanding Week 2 performances, but Leonard Fournette had a special combination that led to his selection here. After being released by the Jacksonville Just Average Guys, he had a lackluster Week 1 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing RB65 with just 2.9 PPR points. Yes, there were expectations that 2.9 was likely a floor rather than a ceiling for Fournette as he acclimated in Tampa Bay, but this was still a far cry from the RB7 he finished at in 2019.

Which made this Sunday all that more sweet. Not even 90% rostered in either ESPN or Yahoo, Fournette was started in just 15.6% of ESPN Leagues (could not find start data for Yahoo). Yet he made the most of his opportunities and posted a stat line that was good enough to finish 10th overall in ESPN PPR leagues. Will 103 rushing yards on just 12 carries be sustainable? Probably not. But the 2 TDs are encouraging, as are the looks he is getting in the passing game. Regardless of what the future holds, Fournette should bask in the quiet spotlight, as all his haters are left silenced for at least this week.

Bitter Disappointments

CH: I don't know if you heard, but there were a few injuries that happened on Sunday. 

I don't really have much to say on Week 2 that hasn't already been said to be perfectly honest. Coming up in the next few days, I do have plans to take a look at what we can learn from the weird start to the season and how that translates to actionable items worth passing along, but for the time being I'll leave it there. Week 2 sucked.

MM: First things first: The injuries in Week 2 were absolutely insane. As disappointing as 2.8 points on 28 yards rushing were for Saquon Barkley, the real disappointment was him probably tearing his ACL early in the game against the Chicago Bears. So I am not considering anyone that picked up an injury this week for this category. That includes Julio Jones, who seems to have better hamstrings than Le'Veon Bell, but only just.

You know who was not injured though? Allen "I want a new contract" Robinson II. While I absolutely respect the desire to get paid, especially if you were WR8 in 2019, but this performance was not how to get that money. Especially since Week 1's WR33 finish was not exactly lights out. There are certainly some qualifiers here; Trubisky did not play particularly well, which was pretty apparent from the box score and the highlight reel. Still, with 9 targets against a bad New York Football Giants defense, you expect more than 3 catches and 33 yards. Hopefully Week 3 against Atlanta provides a bounce-back opportunity, but it is not like Robinson has faced stiff competition to date.

Personal Fantasy Highlight/Lowlight

CH: I appreciate the fact that I had the foresight to pick up QBs Joe Burrow and Ryan Tannehill as a streaming duo and give up on QB Carson Wentz when I did. That was pretty cool. Besides that, not much to report on highlights aside from the fact that I snagged Leonard Fournette with a late pick in my Megalabowl draft for that big tournament The Fantasy Footballers host, especially because I had the 1.01 and took Christian McCaffrey. Really dodged a bullet there at least.

Week 2 was mostly a down week for me (and I'm sure many of you as well). One could say I didn't exactly knock it out of the park with my Week 2 boom/bust picks and they would be right, and while I think I made good calls on the Saturday nightcap as to who some good last minute pickups would be, injuries wrecked that too. Between Scotty Miller and Parris Campbell going down to name a couple, my mood was not great on Sunday. 

But hey, I think the process was sound. The results yielded don't always end up the way you want 'em too, but it's important to remember that we are often wrong and it comes with the territory of playing a game largely steeped in skills acquired from high school level statistics and probability class. It's far too early for victory laps, self-fives, or huge panic meltdowns all the way around. Whatever happened to you this week or last week, it's important to remember it's still early and things can change quickly.

MM: Is having the entire Atlanta Falcons WR stack a possible lowlight and highlight? Yes, even Russell Gage, who continued a dominant start to the 2020 season with a 6/46/1 line. The only issue? He was on my bench, unlike Julio Jones, who went 2/24/0. 

Obviously, I cannot bench Julio Jones for Russell Gage; that is a recipe for disaster barring injury. However, I could bench Corey Davis or A.J. Brown (admittedly an easy choice at the moment), or Hollywood Brown, who is becoming the clear #1 for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. Yet we all know the second that happens, at least one of them will have a dud in a tough match-up. Ultimately, I think I am going to try and wait out the next could weeks, and try in Week 5 against the Panthers, but it is certainly an issue, albeit a good one.

Honorable mention here was definitely watching Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have good games after putting the faith of my dynasty league team in their hands. You love to see it.

What We Are Looking Forward to Next Week

CH: Jeez, I don't even know what I am necessarily looking forward to. I'm likely to end up clenching my fists and grinding my teeth watching football next week more than anything. I guess if I had to pick anything I'd say the potential shit show/goat rodeo of a game the Thursday Night Football game between the Dolphins and Jaguars is high on my list. Nothing says fun like Jacksonville on a Thursday night. 

MM: Who are going to be the next men up to replace the injured players? Do not get me wring, injuries suck (more on that later), but it is going to be exciting to see who fills in for some big names. Is Dion Lewis the answer in New York now that Saquon is likely done for the year? Wayne Gallman was inactive for Week 2; will he be back Week 3? Or has the Devonta Freeman/Lamar Miller/(insert washed-up RB's name here) era begun?

That alone would be hours of speculation, but Week 2 provided so much more than that. Parris Campbell being out could be terrible for those who added him this week (rightfully so), especially since they probably passed on Michael Pittman Jr. to do so, who could find an expanded role in Indianapolis. The San Francisco 49ers vs New York Jets game alone provided numerous scenarios. Who will be the lead back in San Fran if Raheem Mostert is out? Is Nick Mullens a plug-an-play replacement for James "Jimothy" Garoppolo? Who is Braxton Berrios, and should we all have been rostering him instead of Breshad Perriman, or was that only because of Perriman's injury? So much happened in Week 2, and the fantasy implications are massive.

What We Are Most Nervous About Going Forward

CH: Injuries, man. I'm not sure how confident we can feel about anything in this bizarre year that is 2020. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that big takes are probably a terrible idea and we need to view damn near everything as a potentially fluid situation. Obviously no one is rooting for more injuries to take place (and if you are someone who's rooting for injury because it would help a guy on your roster who is a backup, seek help and quit being an asshole) but there will be more unfortunate news to come whether we like it or not.

MM: Injuries are officially a problem.

The Lateral will take a deeper dive into the Week 2 injuries in an upcoming article, but if you got this far, you have a taste of the absolute disaster was for some players, and in the case of my beloved San Francisco 49ers, an entire team. Which is a problem, because Week 1 was not exactly without some big injuries. If you can think of a team that is unscathed so far, please let me know, because I honestly cannot.

Going into the season, the big focus was on COVID-19, and rightfully so. Luckily, barring a major scare that turned out to be "false positives" back in August, the NFL has avoided a major incident. But what can no longer be avoided is the clear impact that not being in "football shape" is having on players, and the importance of full training camps and pre-seasons. While I think there is still some room as to how many pre-season games truly need to be played since they are exhibition reps but very real mileage on a player's body, it can no longer be argued that this is not a game you can half-prepare for. Hopefully things stabilize as players get more reps, but if things do not improve soon, the NFL could have some real issues to deal with.

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