Week 2 of the 2023 fantasy football season featured some big surprises. Who were the big winners and losers? Which players received “A” and “F” grades?
Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft offer their analysis, and Seth Walder provides his grades. We also asked NFL Nation reporters to answer questions about what happened in Sunday’s games.
Jump to a topic:
Ranking winners | Ranking losers
Who got an ‘A’ | Who got an ‘F’
Biggest injuries and what’s next
Top questions from Week 2
Ranking fantasy winners of Week 2
1. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans dropped 29.1 PPR points on the Bears’ defense, catching 6 of 8 targets for 171 yards and a score. Through two weeks, Evans has now caught 12 of 20 targets for 237 yards, with a touchdown reception in each game. Yes, I had real questions about Evans’ fit with Baker Mayfield heading into the season, but we have to look at the production and the route structure that is creating opportunities for the veteran pass-catcher. You can play Evans as a WR2 in the Week 3 matchup versus the Eagles. — Bowen
2. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
His 28.9 PPR fantasy points were third best among receivers during the 1 p.m. ET games, but recognize that they were mostly the product of the team’s catch-up circumstances — the Bengals trailed on the scoreboard for all but about 11 minutes. Higgins scored 25.2 of his points and saw 10 of his 12 targets during the second half, contributing to more than two-thirds of quarterback Joe Burrow’s fantasy point total in the game. — Cockcroft
3. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Allen’s 31.1 PPR points led all wide receivers in the early slate of games. The savvy, veteran route runner caught 8 of 10 targets in the loss to the Titans, finishing with 111 yards, in addition to adding two red zone touchdowns. We know you can bet on the volume with Allen, as he has seen a total of 19 targets over the first two weeks of the season. Schemed concepts, plus one-on-one wins there. If the red zone looks continue, however, Allen would jump into the WR1 mix. He gets the Vikings’ defense in Week 3. — Bowen
4. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks
If there was worry that Zach Charbonnet’s second-round selection might prove a significant hindrance to Walker’s fantasy prospects in 2023, we haven’t seen it yet. Walker handled 17 of the team’s 22 running back carries on Sunday, including five of the six in goal-to-go situations, and has played 63% of the offensive snaps to Charbonnet’s 27% in the first two games. The Seahawks have a clear preference for Walker in scoring situations, and he brings the requisite speed to make a difference between the 20s, too, as he did in scoring a solid 18.4 PPR fantasy points in Week 2. — Cockcroft
5. Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions
This is why you can start Goff in deeper leagues or as a matchup-dependent streamer. Yes, Goff threw a second-half interception in the loss to Seattle, but this offense in Detroit is an ideal fit for his traits as a passer. Goff finished 28-of-35 passing for 323 yards with three touchdowns. That’s good for 22.9 fantasy points. We saw the schemed play-action throws here, the deep in-breakers, plus the shot plays with max-protection. Goff will be a fringe QB1 in my ranks next week at home versus the Falcons’ defense. — Bowen
6. Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans
Collins turned nine targets into a personal-best 28.9 PPR fantasy points. Sure, Collins didn’t lead his team in targets — Tank Dell (10) held that honor — and much of his production came while his team was trailing, but credit Collins for what was a sixth consecutive game with at least a 20% target share and acknowledge that his Texans might frequently play 2023 games with a fantasy-beneficial negative game script. He’s the team’s go-to guy in the passing game and a sneaky contender for positional top-20 seasonal production. — Cockcroft
Ranking fantasy losers of Week 2
1. Cincinnati Bengals’ offense (minus the aforementioned Higgins)
Outside of Higgins’ success playing catch-up, Joe Burrow and his fellow teammates on offense looked flat in the game’s opening stages. Sure, it’s a step forward that Burrow successfully moved the football during the second half, after failing to do so in Week 1, but 15.38 fantasy points isn’t going to cut it for fantasy’s fifth-most-started quarterback (87.0% of ESPN leagues). No. 1 receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who scored a forgettable 9.1 PPR fantasy points in Week 1, delivered 8.1 this week. It’s a frustrating showing, but at least the Bengals’ matchups get better from here (LAR, @TEN, @ARI, SEA the next four weeks). — Cockcroft
2. Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense
Coming off a Week 1 in which they shredded the Colts’ defense with four different players exceeding 16 fantasy points, the Jaguars — other than Christian Kirk (21.96 PPR fantasy points) — delivered fantasy letdowns all around on Sunday. Trevor Lawrence’s 9.24 points will probably, at week’s conclusion, rank outside his position’s top 20; Travis Etienne Jr. scored 6.2 PPR fantasy points and was limited due to cramps late in the contest; Calvin Ridley had 5.2 points on eight targets; and Zay Jones was shut out on the fantasy scorecard on six targets. In fairness, this wasn’t the easiest task for the team, facing a loaded Chiefs offense that took an early lead and was plenty prepared for Lawrence from there. Fortunately, things get much easier the next two weeks, as the Jaguars host the Texans (Week 3) and Falcons (Week 4). — Cockcroft
3. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Jacobs was a bust in the run game on Sunday versus the Bills’ defensive front, finishing with minus-2 yards rushing on only nine carries. Yes, the five receptions for 51 yards allowed Jacobs to grab 9.9 PPR points, but where is the RB1 production? Last week, in the win over the Broncos, Jacobs — who held out during camp — averaged just 2.5 yards per carry (on 19 carries) and posted 9.1 PPR points. The Raiders’ lack of run game efficiency is a major issue for Jacobs managers right now, and the matchups don’t get easier as the Raiders host the Steelers in Week 3. — Bowen
4. AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers, and Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
These popular last-minute fantasy starters, following the news that their teams’ usual starters, Aaron Jones (hamstring) and Austin Ekeler (ankle), were scratched, flopped in their first chances at expanded work in 2023. Dillon, started in 36% of ESPN leagues, turned 16 touches into 7.3 PPR fantasy points, while Kelley, added in 55% of leagues over the past week and started in 42%, converted 13 rushing attempts into just 3.9 points. Both backs’ teams played most of their Sundays with positive game scripts, which makes their production look worse. Dillon should remain enough of a part of the Packers’ running game that a one-week disappointment should hardly condemn his flex-tier seasonal valuation, but Kelley’s could be a concern, as he’s typically your Ekeler insurance policy but could be pressed for the role by Elijah Dotson or Isaiah Spiller. — Cockcroft
5. Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
After another poor week, I have concerns on Pierce’s lack of rushing production in an offense that could continue to experience negative game flow. In the loss to the Colts on Sunday, Pierce rushed for only 31 yards on 15 carries, and his receiving numbers (two receptions, 4 yards) don’t push the needle. Pierce has now registered two straight games with under seven PPR points, and he gets the Jaguars’ defense in Week 3. Look for Pierce to slide down into the Flex ranks for that one. — Bowen
Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
What we know: Adams suffered a reported concussion during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.
What’s next: A week after teammate and fellow wide receiver Jakobi Meyers suffered a concussion, sidelining him for Week 2, Adams will now go through the league’s concussion protocol, casting doubt on his Week 3 status. Adams’ absence would be a significant one for the Raiders, even if Meyers is able to return, as the next men up on the depth chart are Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter and Tre Tucker. — Cockcroft
Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts
What we know: Richardson suffered a concussion on his second rushing touchdown of the day, and while he played two additional series, he was sent into the league’s protocol and quickly ruled out for the game in the second quarter.
What’s next: Richardson will need to clear the league’s concussion protocol in order to return to action, which isn’t as easy a hurdle to clear as it sounds. In the event the rookie needs to miss additional time, Gardner Minshew will step in as the Colts’ starter. Richardson, by the way, has scored an outstanding 38.66 fantasy points in his first five quarters of NFL action, fueled in large part by his three rushing scores. — Cockcroft
David Montgomery, RB, Detroit Lions
What we know: Montgomery left the game with a right knee injury after making a catch in the third quarter. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game, leaving the field on a cart with a wrap on his knee.
What’s next: If Montgomery misses extended time, Jahmyr Gibbs should see a bump in rushing volume, and look for Craig Reynolds here as a priority waiver add. He can give you value in the lineup as an early-down ball carrier in Detroit, with low red zone touches.
It’s not just the 124 rushing yards or 178 total yards that caught my eye. It was the underlying numbers that demonstrate Robinson’s production was a product of skill rather than just opportunity. Robinson recorded 56 rush yards over expectation, highest of any running back in the early window, per NFL Next Gen Stats. For comparison: Behind the very same offensive line and against the same Packers defense, his teammate Tyler Allgeier — normally a very good rusher! — recorded minus-19 rush yards over expectation, worst of any running back in the early window. — Walder
Who earned an ‘F’ from the weekend?
Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Chicago Bears
The rookie second-rounder out of Miami gave up 140 yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions from 7 targets as the nearest defender over 34 coverage snaps, per NFL Next Gen Stats. On one hand, Stevenson drew a tricky assignment often covering Mike Evans. On the other, we’re talking about facing Baker Mayfield; it could be a lot tougher. In fact, Stevenson was fortunate he didn’t give up a second touchdown — this time to Chris Godwin — on a fade to the end zone that just went incomplete. — Walder
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Taylor was penalized an incredible five times Sunday against his old team, the Jaguars. The Chiefs overpaid, in my opinion, for Taylor when they signed him to a four-year, $80 million deal to play right tackle for them. Week 2 was a game for Taylor to forget. — Walder
Lingering questions from Sunday’s games
Which Packers receiver has the most fantasy upside?
It will be Christian Watson whenever he gets over his hamstring injury, but for now, you almost have to think it’s Jayden Reed. He had a nice start to the season in Week 1 and then found the end zone twice Sunday against the Falcons, and he did it two different ways. While both were receiving touchdowns, the first was on a jet-motion action with a shovel pass and the second was a more traditional catch and run. The Packers love Reed’s versatility and speed. Even when Watson returns, they’ll use Reed as the slot guy in three-receiver sets. Certainly he benefited from additional attention paid to Romeo Doubs, but he delivered. — Rob Demovsky
What should fantasy managers make of Josh Jacobs’ slow start to the season?
There was a sense Jacobs might get off to a relatively slow start after sitting out all of the offseason training program, training camp and preseason in a contract stalemate. Even Jacobs said after the season opener at Denver he had to knock some of the “rust” off. But rushing for a career-low minus-2 yards, on nine carries, in Buffalo? Pass the WD-40. “Got to do more, you know what I’m saying?” Jacobs said. “Create plays when it’s there and make the guys right, even if they mess up on the play.”
As in the offensive line. Get the O-line right, and with more reps, Jacobs should be fine. “Once you lose control of the line of scrimmage, it’s difficult to have control of the game,” said coach Josh McDaniels. — Paul Gutierrez