Another week of the NFL season is in the books, and there is no shortage of fantasy football news to digest.
Each Tuesday and Saturday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters the most pressing questions heading into the weekend and what to make of the fallout after games are played. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines following Week 2 and heading into the weekend of Week 3.
How might the increased usage of Indianapolis Colts RB Zack Moss against the Texans impact the role and opportunities for Deon Jackson going forward?
Jackson’s role in practice was greatly reduced last week, making it clear the Colts’ intention all along was to ride Moss as their lead back. Moss isn’t explosive and is a minimal threat for home runs, but he is skilled at getting the yards available to him based on the existing running lanes. The combination of Jackson’s tentative running style and his lack of ball security (two fumbles) in Week 1 have put him well behind Moss as the Colts move forward. The only remaining question is whether Moss can continue to handle the workload that he took on against Houston. He played a stunning 98% of the Colts’ offensive snaps, so there remains a chance Jackson could handle some third downs in the weeks to come to give Moss a bit of a break. — Stephen Holder
How do you think the recent struggles in the Cincinnati Bengals’ passing game, coupled with Joe Burrow’s calf injury setback, might influence the direction of their offense in upcoming games?
It really depends on the calf injury. The calf has already placed limitations on the offense’s scope during the first two weeks, with Burrow’s mobility limited. That could be an even bigger issue if he tweaked the calf further. It’s hard to see the Bengals leaning into a true ground attack given their personnel and identity as a pass-first team. In the passing game, the Bengals could opt to lean more on WR Tyler Boyd and RB Joe Mixon in an effort to turn quick throws into big gains. — Ben Baby
Who on the Detroit Lions’ offense will most benefit if David Montgomery is out with his thigh injury?
Jahmyr Gibbs. The No. 12 overall pick is certainly in line to get a bigger workload without Montgomery after splitting carries in his first two games. Gibbs tallied 56 yards from scrimmage in the Week 2 loss to Seattle and 60 yards from scrimmage in his NFL debut at Kansas City as a dual threat, but he has showcased potential to be even better with more opportunities. No Lions rookie running back rookie running back has logged 55 or more yards from scrimmage in each of the team’s first two games of a season since Kevin Smith in 2008, but Gibbs might be able to find a groove as the lead back still getting adjusted to the NFL. — Eric Woodyard
Can you provide details on why RB Cam Akers was unexpectedly a healthy scratch against the 49ers and how this might impact the Los Angeles Rams backfield moving forward?
Sean McVay called the move a “coach’s decision” and said it was made in the “best interest” of the team. He said it is different from what transpired last season when Akers was away from the team for nearly a month while the Rams explored a trade for the running back. McVay said Sunday that he thinks “there’s going to be an opportunity to see what [Akers’ future with the team] looks like moving forward, but it’s not going to be a back-and-forth thing and a trade is the direction the Rams are headed. Kyren Williams impressed as the Rams’ lead back Sunday, adding a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. He’ll be the Rams’ RB1 and Ronnie Rivers will be the team’s RB2 if Akers does not play. — Sarah Barshop
What information can you share about Saquon Barkley’s injury, and how do you see the New York Giants making adjustments to their offense while he’s out?
Barkley is likely to miss three games, and there isn’t one player that will take his role. We’re taking about a guy who played 95% of the offensive snaps Sunday in Arizona. “Won’t be any one guy,” quarterback Daniel Jones said of filling that production. Matt Breida appears to be first in line, but he’s not a player who will get 15-20 touches. Still, he at least has coach Brian Daboll’s complete trust. They’ve been together for several years, dating back to Buffalo. But Gary Brightwell and Eric Gray will also get opportunities, and don’t be surprised to see some wide receivers steal some carries as well. — Jordan Raanan
Why you have to pick D’Andre Swift over Kenneth Gainwell
Eric Karabell breaks down the options for fantasy managers that have both Kenneth Gainwell and D’Andre Swift on their rosters.
What can we expect from the Philadelphia Eagles’ running back by committee moving forward following D’Andre Swift’s performance on Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings?
Swift and Kenneth Gainwell have established themselves as the top two backs, with Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny mixing in occasionally. There’s no doubt Swift will be featured in the coming weeks after a breakout night against the Vikings. That said, coach Nick Sirianni reemphasized Monday that the snap distribution could seesaw week to week depending on who has the hot hand. While Swift’s stock is on the climb, expect a mixed bag when Gainwell returns from an injury, which may be as early as this weekend. — Tim McManus
In the event that Odell Beckham Jr. is sidelined because of his ankle injury, who stands to benefit the most on the Baltimore Ravens’ offense?
Rashod Bateman. With Beckham not playing in the second half Sunday, Bateman was on the field for 22 of the Ravens’ 28 offensive snaps. He also ran eight routes after halftime, which were the most by any Baltimore wide receiver. The only problem was that participation didn’t result in productivity. Bateman wasn’t targeted in the second half. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bateman become more involved this week, especially with defenses shifting their attention toward rookie Zay Flowers. Bateman showed a strong connection with Lamar Jackson at the start of last season before suffering a foot injury. — Jamison Hensley
Do you have any concerns about the Chicago Bears offense following its performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday?
I have a lot of concerns about this Bears offense. Chicago hasn’t scored more than two touchdowns in a game since losing to Philadelphia in December. Quarterback Justin Fields is drawing Mitchell Trubisky comparisons through his first 27 NFL starts — coupled with a lower completion percentage, fewer passing yards, more turnovers and a lower passer rating — which raises the question of whether the Bears are in trouble at the position. Of course, not everything falls on Fields. There have been some tough playcalls, like the screen pass deep in Bears territory that led to a pick-six against Tampa Bay and squashed all hopes of a comeback. And where did Chicago’s identity as the league’s best rushing team go? The Bears’ rushing attack isn’t effective, nor does it utilize the designed runs for Fields (only four through two games) that helped this offense show signs of explosiveness in 2022. — Courtney Cronin
How might Green Bay Packers WR Jayden Reed’s role change, given his success when lined up on the outside against the Falcons?
Reed had a team-high eight targets Sunday. It’s hard to imagine him getting more targets than that. He caught four passes, and two were touchdowns, but the Packers would like to get him more catch-and-run opportunities, given that Reed had only 37 yards on those four catches. As far as playing outside, Reed will probably line up there less, not more, as soon as Christian Watson is back. When the Packers are at full strength, Reed will be primarily in the slot. — Rob Demovsky
Will Houston Texans WR Tank Dell become a more significant contributor in the future, and what kind of impact might he have?
Dell wasn’t a starter until Noah Brown landed on the IR with a groin injury. The third-round pick out of Houston took advantage of the opportunity and caught seven passes for 72 yards with a touchdown against the Colts. Dell’s potential impact could be him receiving a high volume of targets since he’s a shifty player in the slot and can get open. — DJ Bien-Aime
How is the wide receiver rotation evolving for the Kansas City Chiefs?
It hasn’t evolved much yet. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson are getting most of the work, though four others have played in each of the two games. But things might evolve as the season goes on once the Chiefs get more comfortable with their two most inexperienced wideouts, Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross. Kadarius Toney could also get more work as the season goes on. — Adam Teicher