Fire and Ice – Week 2

Welcome back to all members of the No Huddle Nation! Week one of the 2017 NFL season is in the books, which means it’s time for our first Fire and Ice column of the year. Each week we will take a look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday. Let’s do this!
On Fire

Quarterbacks:



Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs 

Matchup – Philadelphia Eagles

The 2017 NFL season kicked off last Thursday night as we watched the Chiefs and Patriots square off. We saw one quarterback throw for 368 yards and four touchdowns. It was not Tom Brady. I honestly don’t know what think of this. My gut says write it off as an anomaly and assume Alex Smith will return to the same old boring game manager we’ve seen over the course of his career. There are two things keeping me from completely writing it off, however. Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt both appear to be legitimate playmakers in the NFL. We knew about Hill, but I honestly saw him as a gadget player that wouldn’t make it as a number one receiver for his team. Perhaps I was wrong. After Spencer Ware’s injury every fantasy analyst in the country was putting Kareem Hunt on a pedestal, myself included. Nobody could’ve predicted the rookie would explode for nearly 250 total yards in his NFL debut. It’s still way too early to look at Alex Smith as a fantasy commodity but he’s certainly worth a grab on the waiver wire this week if you’re in a sticky situation at quarterback. We should know more after Smith faces a Philadelphia defense that shut down Kirk Cousins last week.
Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions

Matchup – New York Giants



I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little surprised with Stafford’s performance on Sunday. He’s always been a very solid NFL quarterback. However, his talent never has been enough to get the Lions over the hump and become an elite team. I honestly expected the Cardinals’ defense to impose their will in this game and cause Stafford to make mistakes. That obviously didn’t happen. The former Georgia star threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns against last year’s fourth ranked passing defense and defeated Arizona in a comeback effort in the second half. To be fair Detroit was completely unable to run the ball, so the passing game was all they had. Still, it’s difficult to not be encouraged with Stafford’s play considering you likely snagged him late in your draft. His next challenge will be on the road against a Giants defense that can be beat through the air. I think he finishes in the top 12 at least.
Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs



Not to pat myself on the back too much, but I called this one. Wentz looked sharp in the preseason and started off 2017 looking like a veteran instead of a sophomore quarterback. While he did have two turnovers, he was still able to put up over 20 fantasy points against Josh Norman and the Redskins defense. Wentz started off hot last season in his rookie year, but it’s encouraging to see that his late season woes have not carried over to this year. It’s to be expected with a new teammate, but I was underwhelmed with his chemistry with Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey is an elite talent when healthy, so I expect to see the rapport between the two to improve as the season goes along. As I look ahead to next week, I’m pretty apprehensive on Wentz. The Chiefs shut down Tom Brady, so Carson Wentz should be a walk in the park as the second year field general plays on the road.

Running Backs:



Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs

Matchup – Philadelphia Eagles



We all saw this coming right? A rookie running back that was thrusted into a starting role after the guy ahead of him was injured and went on to become a fantasy football staple? I’m of course taking about Jordan Howard’s situation last season. I was a big Kareem Hunt fan this preseason and had him ranked above Leonard Fournette (it’s true, ask anyone that knows me). As mentioned above, Hunt finished last week’s demolition of the Patriots with almost 250 total yards. This happened in his very first game in the NFL. Needless to say, Kareem Hunt fever is sweeping the nation. I’m told a vaccination will be available soon. I’m interested to see what Kansas City does this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia made Washington’s rushing attack look incredibly inept last week, so I’m still in wait and see mode with Hunt. Part of me thinks I’m going to regret that decision.
Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots

Matchup – New Orleans Saints 



Remember when Blount broke the single season rushing touchdown record for the Patriots last season? Well, Mike Gillislee has a chance to break it again this year. New England has had an increasingly frustrating backfield to navigate over recent years, but it certainly seems like they plan to use the former Bill as their goal line back this season. Gillislee only gained 45 yards on 15 carries, but he was able to get the ball into the end zone three times against the Chiefs last week. As expected, the Patriots backfield looks like it’s going to be a headache to manage once again. However, we saw what Blount was able to do as the main goal line back last season so Gillislee should certainly be a valuable fantasy asset moving forward. We’ll likely see his role hinge on the flow of the game. Expect to see more of James White on the field if New England falls behind like they did against the Chiefs last Thursday night. The Patriots will face off against a Saints defense that is well known to be a fantasy friendly matchup, so I like Gillislee as an RB2/Flex play this week.

Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars 

Matchup – Tennessee Titans



I’ll admit I’ve been on the fence regarding Fournette heading into this season. He’s somewhat injury prone, and there have been reports of him lacking a strong work ethic. What he does have going for him is a guaranteed heavy workload. The rookie carried the ball 26 times for 100 yards and scored a touchdown in his NFL debut, so it does appear that Jacksonville plans on giving him all he can handle in an effort to keep Blake Bortles from throwing the ball. While 3.8 yards per carry is acceptable, it would be nice to see Fournette get more involved in the passing game. I expect we’ll see more of the same this week as Jacksonville hosts Tennessee. Marshawn Lynch powered his way to 76 yards against the Titans in week one, so I like Fournette’s chances at a repeat performance.

 

Wide Receivers:

 

Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs

 Matchup – Philadelphia Eagles 

Tyreek Hill exploded onto the fantasy scene last season and was one of the more popular breakout stars in 2016. He skyrocketed up draft boards in the offseason after Jeremy Maclin left Kansas City to join Joe Flacco in Baltimore. My main concern with drafting Hill so high was in how he scored his fantasy points last season. He was mostly a gadget player and did a lot of his damage on special teams as well. My thinking was those types of big plays are not sustainable on a regular basis, and Hill would struggle as a featured receiver. I’m not willing to say I’m wrong after one game, but it does look like things could be trending in that direction. Hill was having a decent game before Alex Smith hit him for a 75 yard touchdown in the second half against the Patriots. He finished the day with seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. I’ll be interested to see what happens this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia mostly kept Kirk Cousins and company in check, and that is arguably a more talented group than what the Chiefs have.

 

Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions

 Matchup – New York Giants

There were some impressive rookie numbers in week one, so it would be easy gloss over Golladay’s performance. He finished the day against Arizona with four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. It’s still early, but the rookie has seemed to have earned the trust of Matt Stafford considering he had another similar two touchdown performance in the preseason. I think it’s too early to endorse Golladay as a player you’ll start each week, but he’s certainly worth a waiver wire addition if you’ve got someone to drop. This week’s test against the Giants will give us a better idea of where the rookie stands on Detroit’s pecking order. For the time being he’s listed below Marvin Jones on the depth chart, but another big performance could change that.

 

Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles

 Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs

The Eagles shipped off Jordan Matthews in the offseason and brought in Alshon Jeffrey. While everyone agrees that the latter is a more talented option for Carson Wentz to work with, it’s a little surprising to see them struggle to get on the same page last week. Jeffrey was targeted seven times but was only able to catch three passes for 38 yards in his debut with Philadelphia. We instead saw Nelson Agholor lead the receivers in yards as he had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Agholor has been a popular sleeper pick in fantasy over the last couple of years, but he has never quite lived up to the hype. With Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz around to soak up targets it’s hard to imagine that these types of performances will be a weekly occurrence, but Agholor is worth a grab if you have a player to spare. I do not expect a repeat performance this week against a Chiefs defense that shut down Tom Brady in the season opener.

 

Tight Ends:

 

Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons 

 Matchup – Green Bay Packers

Hooper was a popular sleeper pick this season after showing flashes last year as a rookie. The problem with Hooper isn’t his talent but the fact that he’s buried on an offense that has so many offensive weapons. He’s Matt Ryan’s third option at the very best. While the second year tight end had an impressive day with 128 yards, that production came on two big plays. The 40 and 88 yard gains were on his only two targets of the game. For that reason I don’t believe we see those types of numbers from Hooper on a regular basis. I especially think he’s a guy you leave on the bench this week against a Green Bay defense that completely shut down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks last Sunday.
Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers

 Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

James was a popular late round pick a season ago but never really developed into a weekly starter. The eight targets he saw come his way last week are an encouraging sign that this might be the year he becomes a larger part of the offense. He ended the day with six targets and 41 yards, which would be less impressive had he not hauled in two touchdowns as well. The biggest threat to James becoming a reliable fantasy tight end is the acquisition of Vance McDonald the Steelers made. While he doesn’t seem to be an immediate concern, the former 49er could start to eat into his teammate’s targets as the season moves along. I don’t think we see another big game from James against an intimidating Vikings defense this week.

 

Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs

Ertz was one of my favorite tight ends to target in my drafts this season. Not only did he finish in the top ten at his position last year, but he was generally available late enough to where it felt like a steal grabbing him. He and Carson Wentz showed impressive chemistry together last season, and it looks like they’re pick up right where they left off. Ertz was able to haul in eight catches for 93 yards on Sunday, which made him the Eagles’ leading receiver. While I do like Ertz moving forward this season, I’m less optimistic about his matchup this week. The Chiefs limited Gronk to two catches and 33 yards last Thursday, so Ertz will have his work cut out for him. There is some hope, however, with Eric Berry being lost for the year due to injury.

 

Ice Cold

 

Quarterbacks:

 

Tom Brady – New England Patriots 

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

Yikes. What a disappointing way to start the season if you’re a Brady owner. Considering you likely drafted him in the first few rounds, ten points in a season debut is incredibly frustrating. To be fair, the Chiefs deploy one of the best defenses in the league on a yearly basis. However, Brady has been mostly matchup proof over most of his career. I’m chalking this one up as just a bad day at the office for the future Hall of Famer. I have no doubt that he’ll bounce back this week against a New Orleans defense that was shredded to bits by Sam Bradford Monday night.

 

Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks 

 Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

Tom Brady may have had a bad day last week, but his performance was nothing compared to Russell Wilson’s. Seattle struggled on offense as a whole against the Packers and Wilson seemed completely unable to put anything together. He finished the game with only 158 yards passing with a fumble and no touchdowns. The positive note is he did look much more mobile than he did to open last season. Wilson’s biggest hurdle is going to be his ability to make things happen behind a very poor offensive line. He was sacked three times and was constantly on the run trying to escape pressure. My thought is he has a chance to bounce back this week at home against the 49ers.

 

Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins

 Matchup – Los Angeles Rams

I really thought Cousins would show up at home against the Eagles. He has still yet to sign a big contract and needs to prove he deserves the big money that comes from being paid like a franchise quarterback. Being responsible for three turnovers in the season opener isn’t necessarily a good way to prove your worth. Cousins lost two of his favorite weapons over the offseason, so it’s understandable that there will be growing pains playing with a new cast of receivers. Unfortunately, I think we’ll need to wait another week before we see Cousins settle in as the quarterback we’ve seen over the last two seasons. The Rams completely shut down the Colts last week (I know Scott Tolzien was the quarterback), and that was without Aaron Donald. He’s likely a guy you’ll play each game regardless, but I don’t feel great about him on the road against a tough Los Angeles defense.

 

Running backs:

 

Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers

 Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

What. In. The. Hell. Happened. This one was a complete no brainer. Sure, Bell had been away from the team during his contract negotiations, but he’s still Le’Veon freaking Bell. His season debut was against the Browns for heaven’s sake. He only managed a career low 47 total yards last week and is likely responsible for quite a bit of frustration from those who spent a top three pick on him. Similar to Tom Brady, I’ll mark this one down as just a poor outing. However, I’d feel a lot better about Bell’s shot at a bounce back game if he didn’t have to face the stout defense of the Vikings. Let’s be honest, you’re starting him no matter what. Let’s just cross our fingers on this one.

 

David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals 

 Matchup – Indianapolis Colts

It’s really not fair to add David Johnson to this list considering he suffered a wrist injury that ended his day. I’m only doing it to point out the fact that the unanimous top two running backs taken this season combined for 14 fantasy points in week one. Johnson’s day was somewhat salvaged by his six catches and 68 receiving yards before he exited the game. Early reports on DJ are all over the board. I’ve seen everything from he may play next week to he’ll miss 12 games. If by some miracle he does take the field this week he should shred the Colts defense.

 

DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans

 Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars 

I had mixed feelings on Murray heading into this season. On one hand, he was phenomenal last year. The veteran looked like a young man on the field and was the fifth highest scoring running back. On the other hand, DeMarco Murray is 29 years old and has a lot of miles on those tires. Generally speaking, there’s a huge falling off point with running backs in the NFL. It’s around 30 years old. While one 44 yard performance in the first game of the year isn’t enough to hit the panic button, I’m a little nervous if I’m a Murray owner. Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings just waiting to pounce on his opportunity, so it’s not like Tennessee doesn’t have another option. Murray will have a shot to regain everyone’s confidence this week against a Jacksonville defense that was surprisingly dominate in their matchup with Houston. I’m starting him if I have him, but it’s with great trepidation.

 

Wide receivers:

 

Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers 

 Matchup – Buffalo Bills 

Remember how excited you were to draft Kelvin Benjamin last season? This kid was a monster his rookie year and couldn’t be touched in the red zone. I won’t say last season was a disappointment, but it was close. He finished with under 1,000 receiving yards but still found himself in the top 20 at his position due to the seven touchdowns he logged. Fast forward another season. Benjamin was the Eddie Lacy of receivers. He showed up to camp with a box of donuts. He shed the weight he gained, but it didn’t matter much in week one. He logged one catch for 25 yards. If we’re throwing stones, Cam Newton didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in a game their offense should’ve been able to control through the passing game. While the Bills aren’t the defensive team we’ve seen in the past, I think I’m sitting on Big Kel until we see something out of him. If you’ve got a better option play him.

 

Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins

 Matchup – Los Angeles Rams

This one is personal. Quick background story before I begin. I have the perfect team in one of my dynasty leagues. WR1s and RB1s at every position, two great quarterbacks, options at tight end, the works. I happen to own both Jay Ajayi and Mike Evans, who unfortunately had to sit this week due to the weather. My first thought when I saw the news was, “its ok. I have Jamison Crowder. I’ll be fine”. That’s the amount of trust I had in Crowder and it back fired in my face. Three catches for 14 yards and a fumble got me an entire half point in that league. Anyway, this offense will have eventually bounce back moving forward. As I mentioned with Cousins, I’m not sure this is the week for a comeback game against the Rams. Only time will tell.

 

TY Hilton – Indianapolis Colts

 Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

I could just start this one with Scott Tolzien as the headline and be done with it, but we’re better than that at No Huddle. Seriously though, Scott Tolzien is the only reason Hilton didn’t have a better game. The Colts offense has a whole struggled mightily against the Rams, so it’s not like Hilton could’ve made a difference in a blowout game without his starting quarterback. I really like the guy in a normal situation with Andrew Luck under center, but it’s tough to determine his standing before that happens. I’m assuming the Cardinals will be fired up after losing to Matt Stafford last weekend. Hilton is a guy you’ll have to be patient with as Luck comes back from injury. Roll with the good and bad performances.

 

Tight ends: 

 

Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots 

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

I’ve vowed to never have Rob Gronkowski on my fantasy team. I agree that the guy has all the talent in the world and is easily the top tight end in the league when healthy. The last two words of that last sentence are what keep me from drafting him. He simply misses too many games each year, and I choose to allow someone else to take a high draft pick on him. The Chiefs mostly shut down the Patriots in their season opener, so I’m not willing to write off Gronk after a two catch game where he only gained 33 yards. I am, however, a little put off by the numbers. I think he comes back in a huge way this week against the Saints, who gave up big numbers to the Vikings.
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers 

Matchup – Buffalo Bills



As I mentioned before with Cam Newton, it may take a couple of games to work out the kinks after an injury riddled offseason. The good news for Olsen owners is that his 18 yard performance last week was an outlier. In fact, Olsen has only four other games out of 48 contests where he has had fewer than 20 receiving yards. He finished last season as the second highest scoring tight end and has been one of the more consistent players at his position over the course of his career. He’ll be fine moving forward and should have a solid outing against the Bills this week.

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks 

Matchup – San Francisco 49ers



Fantasy owners were relieved to see Jimmy Graham bounce back last season after struggling to stay healthy for his first couple of years in a Seahawks uniform. Unfortunately for those that grabbed him in drafts this season, he laid an egg in the first game of the season. As I mentioned earlier, the Seattle offense as a whole struggled against the Packers so Graham’s performance is tied to the play of his quarterback. The good news is the Seahawks are back home to host the 49ers this week. Graham had their number last season and combined for 10 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown in two games. Start him with confidence.
As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

 

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