Things can quickly change in the NFL. One week a player’s stock is up and the next week a few key injuries on the team can derail things. There’s only two weeks of data and some things are a sign of what’s to come, while some slow starts for players require patience. Fewer players are on the field in the preseason and the first two weeks of the year felt like the preseason at times. Here is this week’s stock watch.
WR Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
Many people benched Kirk last week due to a daunting matchup on the road against the Ravens defense. After rookie quarterback Kyler Murray looked shaky for three quarters in Week 1 against the Lions and finished strong to get the Cardinals a tie, the trust needed to be earned. The Cardinals didn’t win against the Ravens, but they moved the ball well and Murray passed for 349 yards despite not throwing a touchdown. It’s a good sign for the offense moving forward and Kirk will benefit. He caught six-of-eight targets for 114 yards against the Ravens after hauling in four passes on 12 targets for 32 yards in Week 1. The Cardinals have attempted more passes than any team through two games, although they did play a full overtime. Still, the Cardinals play at a high pace and it should continue.
RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
It was an ugly start to the season for Jones in Week 1 against the Bears, with 13 carries for 39 yards and one reception for zero yards. Jones played 59.4% of the snaps, while Jamaal Williams played 40.6%. That’s not ideal for Jones, who often was drafted in round three. He played 58.1% of the snaps in Week 2 and Williams 47.3%. More importantly, Jones received most of the touches, although Williams scored a receiving touchdown early in the game. Jones was the superior back with 23 carries for 116 yards with a touchdown and four receptions for 34 yards. All Jones needs is the touches and it happened in Week 2.
WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Hopefully, you didn’t believe the 14 snaps in Week 1 were anything to worry about. Brown had a Lisfranc injury in February and didn’t do much in the preseason. In a 59-10 win over the Dolphins in Week 1, there was no need to push Brown after four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. In a more competitive game in Week 2, Brown played 64.6% of the snaps and caught eight of his 13 targets for 86 yards. Brown has 29% of the target share and is lethal after the catch. Lamar Jackson has improved his accuracy and threw a perfect pass to Brown along the sideline late in the game against the Cardinals. Brown is a full-time player and is legit.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
I am stunned how good Sanders has looked. Sanders tore his Achilles in December and at age 32 there were doubts he would be good again. He has answered emphatically and yeah, he’s still very good. Sanders has 16 receptions for 184 yards on 20 targets with two touchdowns, and leads all receivers with seven red zone targets. He’s a huge part of the passing game and one of the better draft values so far.
WR DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
There was a question as to whether Metcalf would even be ready for Week 1 after undergoing minor knee surgery in August. Eight days after surgery he was running and the rookie played in Week 1 and caught four passes for 89 yards. Last week against the Steelers, he caught three passes for 61 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass. Metcalf is a tough cover down the field at 6-foot-4 with 4.3 speed. Russell Wilson already has confidence in Metcalf making plays.
RB Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
Lindsay was a player that was overvalued in drafts. There were indications that Lindsay was going to see fewer touches and it would be closer to a split with Royce Freeman compared to last season when Lindsay got the bulk of the work. Lindsay has 32 touches to 27 for Freeman. Lindsay has 24 carries for 79 yards (3.3 yards per attempt) and eight receptions for 53 yards (6.6 yards per catch), while Freeman has 21 carries for 110 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and six receptions for 53 yards (8.8) yards per catch. Freeman and Lindsay each had seven targets in Week 2, and if Freeman becomes more involved in the passing game, it hurts Lindsay considering Freeman had 14 receptions on 20 targets last season.
TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Those with Howard on their fantasy team are searching for answers. Howard played 55 snaps last week and had no targets. He did catch a pass, but it was taken off the board due to offensive pass interference. In Week 1, Howard ran a route 55% of the time and caught four of five targets for 32 yards. Howard ran a route 69% of the time in Week 2. The concern is a new offense. Bruce Arians didn’t use a tight end in his offense in Arizona but he didn’t have anyone close to the talent of Howard, and Arians did use Heath Miller in Pittsburgh. Howard played in 10 games last season and caught 34 of 48 passes (70.8% catch rate) for 565 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch and 11.8 yards per target. If he played 16 games, he was on a pace to finish with 904 yards and eight touchdowns. Howard reached double-digit points in PPR formats in seven of his 10 games. Tight end is thin, so stay patient and don’t drop him.
WR Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers
Talk about a bad start and playing yourself out of the offense. Moncrief has dropped several passes in the first two games, including one right off his hands resulting in an interception for Mason Rudolph. Moncrief has dropped five of his 11 targets and was benched last week. James Washington will play more snaps as will Diontae Johnson. There are times to be patient and times to react quickly. No need to wait here. Drop Moncrief.
RB Duke Johnson, Houston Texans
The Texans traded a fourth-round pick that can become a third-round pick if Johnson plays 10 games, so it made sense for him to be used often. No one expected 20 touches, but the usage in Week 2 was a concern. Carlos Hyde had 20 carries for 90 yards and Johnson had six carries for 31 yards with one target, where Deshaun Watson missed him on what likely would have been a touchdown. Hyde played 60.6% of the snaps and Johnson 39.4%. Johnson’s value is in the passing game and he should see more targets. He has 88 yards on 15 carries (5.9 yards per carry). Hyde has surprisingly been good with 30 carries for 173 yards (5.8 yards per carry). Hold on to Johnson and hope he gets more touches.
RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
The Bears offense has looked horrible and Cohen saw a shift from his usage in Week 1. Cohen was used as a slot receiver often in Week 1 against the Packers and played just five snaps from the slot in Week 2. He played 37.7% of the snaps and had four carries for 18 yards, and caught two of his five targets for seven yards. David Montgomery had 19 touches and he will lead the backfield. Cohen’s going to be inconsistent from week to week.