Lest we forget, this time last season we were just starting to familiarize ourselves with the name Peyton Hillis, after he scored two touchdowns in the first two weeks. Top-rated quarterback Michael Vick had yet to really scratch the surface, scoring just three touchdowns in two games, while guys like Kenny Britt and Stevie Johnson had yet to catch a single touchdown pass and were owned in less than five percent of leagues. So what I’m saying is, there’s still hope to find some top talents on the waiver wires.
There’s also a chance, however, that our top-rated players can falter as the season progresses. Larry Fitzgerald had two touchdowns in the first three games of the 2010 season and just four touchdown catches in the final 13 weeks. First-round pick Ray Rice didn’t score a touchdown until Week 5, and finished the season with just five scores. And don’t get me started on Randy Moss, who had an Average Draft Position (ADP) of nine last season, which was the total number of catches he had in the first four weeks. It just goes to show how quickly things can change, for better or for worse.
With this week’s exercise I figured we could take a look at the preseason Top 10 and where they stand as we head into Week 3. I’ll also toss out a final rankings prediction as to where we should expect to see these 10 players by the end of the season.
Foster has only played one half of football over the first two weeks, running the ball 10 times for 33 yards. Think about this; when was the last time you cared so much about another man’s hamstring? Foster’s health, as one of the top two guys picked in most drafts, can make or break your season. Unfortunately, he’s already hinting at sitting out in Week 3. It’s probably not a terrible idea for him to rest. You’d rather see Foster at 100 percent than have him out there running the ball gingerly, possibly turning a tweaked hamstring into a season-ending injury. If you picked up Ben Tate, as I suggested in my Week 1 column, you’re in good shape. If you missed out on Tate, you might want to apply some more deodorant. I wouldn’t look to trade Foster, since you’re not going to get equal value in return. Unless you’re able to convince the Chris Johnson owner in your league to trade one headache for another. For now, the best you can do is sit tight and hope that his hamstring looses up a little.
Prediction: Top 20
Peterson has looked fantastic over the first two weeks, picking up 218 yards rushing, 27 receiving yards and two touchdowns. That’s not bad for a running back playing alongside the second worst passing attack in the league. The Vikings are averaging just 120 yards passing per game, and they’ve still yet to figure out how to get their second best playmaker, Percy Harvin, involved in the offense. It’s a bit troublesome. That said, we don’t need to worry about Peterson. Even as opposing defenses know the offense in Minnesota runs through Peterson, he’s still able to explode through the running lanes and make plays. There’s no reason to explore trading Peterson.
Prediction: Top 5
All signs are pointing toward Rice having a huge bounce-back season. He’s posted 245 total yards and three total touchdowns over his first two weeks. Rice has the protection up front, he no longer has Willis McGahee pilfering touchdowns from him and his confidence level is through the roof. That’s the perfect recipe for any stud running back. There are only two, maybe three, players I would consider trading Rice for, and one of them is Adrian Peterson.
Prediction: Top 5
Nothing like losing your cornerstone running back in the second week of the season, huh? It’s only Week 2 and most likely we’ve already seen the worst injury of the season. The problem with losing Charles, unlike with the Foster situation in Houston, is that there is no real beneficiary of the injury. Thomas Jones will get extra carries, but his best days are behind him. Dexter McCluster has the boom, but moreso than that he has the bust! The best advice I can give you is to look elsewhere. Look for guys like Daniel Thomas and Delone Carter, who have better long-term value. Sadly, the days of taking Jamaal Charles in the first round are officially over.
Prediction: Top 700
Johnson’s owners are already applying the “bust” tag to his name, but I think it’s far too soon to start labeling him as such. We knew that Johnson was going to start slow, thanks to his holdout. The good news is, I can guarantee there are better days ahead for this Titan. You can almost excuse Sunday’s game against the Ravens, since the matchup was not in his favor. This week against the Broncos, however, is a bigger make-or-break matchup. Denver is allowing over 130 rushing yards per game over the first two weeks, so we need to see a much, much better performance from Johnson. If he does underwhelm, the best trade you can probably make is a Johnson-for-Foster swap. One headache for another.
Prediction: Top 40
McCoy is off to a great start, with 253 total yards and four touchdowns over his first two games. The good news is that McCoy is running the ball well on an offense that is clicking, and his team’s schedule going forward is highly favorable. There are going to be plenty of scoring opportunities for McCoy, which leads me to believe that he’ll remain a Top Five fantasy player all season long. The one minor concern I have is, what happens if and when Michael Vick goes down? A Vick injury would nearly bump him out of the Top 10.
Prediction: Top 10
It’s hard to complain about Johnson’s early performances, especially since both of his first two games were nearly identical. He had seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. It’s only a matter of time before we see a breakout, three-touchdown game, but until then you have to be pleased with his steady consistency in the early weeks.
Prediction: Top 15
With five touchdowns and 620 passing yards in the first two weeks, it’s hard to complain about Rodgers. Except, maybe, for the fact that there are five quarterbacks–yes, five!– who are ranked higher than Rodgers as of right now. Tom Brady and Drew Brees are no surprises, but Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matthew Stafford are.Still, there’s no sense in complaining just yet about Rodgers. The only complaint you can make is that you probably could have waited until the late-second or early-third round to take Brees or Brady, along with a stud running back or wide receiver in the first. In the end, I suspect he’ll finish in the Top 10, which means you got perfect value with your first-round pick.
Prediction: Top 10
We’re already seeing just how fragile Vick is. After taking a somewhat hefty hit on Sunday, Vick remains questionable in Week 3 due to a concussion. Vick’s numbers have been a bit underwhelming, with just four touchdowns and 551 total yards of offense. I’ve said this from the beginning, but I still think we’re headed toward a down year for Vick. I would much rather have Rodgers, Brady or Brees over Vick. And with this latest injury we’re seeing exactly why it was advised to proceed with caution when taking Vick in the first round.
Prediction: Top 30
McFadden has been no joke this season. He’s rushed for 222 yards, caught eight passes for 77 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first two weeks. Sure, the matchups have been favorable, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that McFadden has looked terrific both out of the backfield and in pass-catching situations. I can easily see him turn in a Top-5 season, barring injury, of course. Honestly, I would rather have McFadden over any running back not named Adrian Peterson or Ray Rice, and would put him on the same level as LeSean McCoy. That’s how good he’s looked.
Prediction: Top 5
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