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Week 2 Review: Another Painful Week For Running Backs

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Jame Starks ended a drought in Green Bay that stretched all the way back to 2010 when he rushed for 132 yards Sunday. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Image
Jame Starks ended a drought in Green Bay that stretched all the way back to 2010 when he rushed for 132 yards Sunday. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Image

Two weeks in and we keep seeing what we already knew: The NFL is leaning more and more on the passing game, and less and less on the running game. Only James Starks and Knowshon Moreno broke the 20-point barrier in standard scoring leagues; that is absurd. With that said, let’s get into it.

          1.     Chip Kelly has rejuvenated Michael Vick’s career.

Just when you think that Vick might be done, Chip Kelly comes waltzing in with his fast-paced offense and boom, the 33-year-old is dynamic once again. If you waited and grabbed him late good for you, just hope that you’re not like me. I could’ve kept Vick for essentially nothing, opted not to, and drafted Tom Brady. Ouch. It’s still not time to panic in New England, when Rob Gronkowski returns we should see some semblance of normalcy, but the first two weeks have not been encouraging. We still need to see what happens when someone figures out how to slow down Chip Kelly’s offense and believe me, somebody will. But, it’s exciting so far.

Without even including Sunday or Monday night we already have 11 quarterbacks that have thrown for 300-plus yards this week. The likes of Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford, and Alex Smith all had solid games. There’s not much else to say here, but I do have one piece of advice: Don’t give up on your ‘stud’ just yet. Read that as: Don’t sit Tom Brady and play Alex Smith, you’re just asking to get burned. If he has a third straight down week against Tampa Bay, then I will start to get really worried

          2.     Eddie Royal will either be this season’s James Jones or Kevin Ogletree.

He has the opportunity, especially after Malcolm Floyd’s scary neck injury. Currently owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, there is no reason not to take a shot.

Vick’s success has led directly to DeSean Jackson blowing up. For the foreseeable future Jackson’s ceiling is sky-high. He is a must-start in every format.

Week 2 saw several ‘sleepers’ on everyone’s draft boards start to pan out. T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, and Chris Givens all had good weeks. Other high-upside picks like James Jones and Pierre Garçon showed their potential after frustrating fantasy owners in Week 1. One more name that’s off to a solid, but not spectacular, start is Robert Woods. The rookie receiver has made the most of his opportunities so far and is locked in as the Bills second option in the passing game.

Hopkins, Givens, Royal, Woods and (I hate to recommend a Jets WR) Stephen Hill all deserve a look on the waiver wire if you’re in need. Only Givens is owned in more than 50 percent of leagues, and eash receiver is off to a solid start.

What we’re seeing overall is Newtonian physics at work, for every running back that has had a slow start, there’s a wide receiver that’s off to a fast start. Fifteen different wide receivers (LeSean McCoy makes it 16) have 100-plus receiving yards so far this week.

          3.     I hate to use Jimmy Graham for my heading in back to back weeks but, holy crap.

Graham went off, plain and simple. After a quiet first week he posted a 10/179/1 stat line, which is great in any format and scary in PPR leagues. Martellus Bennett and Charles Clay (who?) had solid weeks as well. Both look like they should have a consistent role in the offense moving forward. Clay – who is the riskier of the two – is owned in only two percent of Yahoo! Leagues also lines up in the backfield sometimes. He vultured a one-yard touchdown Sunday, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he does it a few more times this season.

Other than those three, it was relatively quiet for tight ends in standard scoring, for PPR leagues there were a few other standouts. Greg Olsen, Jermichael Finley, Antonio Gates, and Julius Thomas all secured six or more passes. For Finley and Thomas, it was their second straight solid week. They both look like they could have serious TE1 relevance week in and week out.

          4.     James Starks ended a drought that stretched more than 40 straight games.

It’s hard to fathom that a team as good as the Packers managed to go so long without a 100-yard rusher, but at least it’s finally over. After Eddie Lacy exited early with a concussion, Starks went out and ran all over the Redskins. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and racked up 168 total yards. At the very least, he’s earned a larger role moving forward.

Elsewhere around the league we got a little bit of a better showing out of running backs than last week, with six of them reaching or breaking the century mark (as compared to two running backs and one quarterback last week). More and more teams are instead opting to pass it to their backs and giving them the opportunity to make defenders miss in open space. This trend bodes well for owners of LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte, who both saw a ton of targets out of the backfield. You know things are upside down when Knowshon Moreno and James Starks score the most points in a week. We’re talking about guys here who went undrafted in most leagues. Starks and Moreno are readily available on a lot of waiver wires, grab them if you need some running back help, it never hurts to see how a situation like this plays out.

One other point of note from Sunday is that Ben Tate continued to show that he’s the better runner than Arian Foster at this point in the season. Gary Kubiak has to seriously consider a more even timeshare from now on, which is certainly a headache for Foster owners. This has certainly been a slow start for running backs around the league but, the bright side is that it really has nowhere to go but up from here.

In summary, ride the slow starts out; it’s still too early to panic in most instances. Just like last week, buy low when you can, and sell high whenever possible. Start taking some chances on the waiver wire, if you need a wide receiver grab a couple and stash ‘em. More than likely one will be just a flash in the pan, but every year new faces emerge for the long haul. Leagues are won by owners who ride out (and exploit) the bad times, and load up their bench with whatever position they are particularly weak at. It seems like obvious advice but, just like in the stock market, fantasy owners are impulsive and act irrationally. Levelheaded owners come out on top.