Best of the Best: NFC Week 2
It was another crazy week in the NFL where we saw a tie between divisional rivals for the second week in a row, a second-year quarterback who set the all-time mark for most touchdowns thrown in the first two games of a season, oh, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 4 TDs again and led his team to a victory over the defending World Champs, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Week three brings some interesting matchups like what I’ve been calling “The Battle of Los Angeles”, where the Rams and Chargers will face off. I said that both of these teams are Super Bowl-ready and I stand by that. At the very least, this is a clash between two playoff teams and should be a fun one to watch. Kansas City versus San Francisco also jumps out at me as a game to watch. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has been lighting up the scoreboard at a historic rate so far in 2018, defenses helpless to stop him. Can the 49ers slow the ascent of the rising star? I’m curious to see if Mahomes throws in Richard Sherman’s direction.
Let’s get on with it. The Best of the Best from the NFC in Week 2.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB
Week 2 Stats: 27/33 passing, 402 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception; 1 carry, -1 yards.
Technically this should be Kirk Cousins, who had an ever-so-slightly better day, statistically speaking. But, it wasn’t Cousins who led his real team to victory this weekend, so I’m highlighting Fitzpatrick here… again. I missed this call badly this past week. I really didn’t think Fitzpatrick would be able to do this against Philly. At this rate, who knows, maybe he’ll throw 40 TDs this year. He already has eight. I’m thinking Jameis Winston may not be getting his job back. Looking ahead, Fitzmagic has a nice matchup this week against the Steelers, who just allowed Patrick Mahomes to throw six TDs against them. I’m going to go ahead and say he’s got QB1 upside.
RB: Todd Gurley, LAR
19 carries, 42 yards, 3 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 31 yards.
Those three touchdowns really make it easy to look past the 2.2 yards per carry or the fact he was out-rushed by backup Malcolm Brown. So, he had a tough week in the yardage department, I’m not too worried about it since he ended up sitting for most of the 2nd half of the blowout.
RB: Matt Brieda, SF
11 carries, 138 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 21 yards.
The second-year running back out of Georgia Southern was thrown into the starting role after Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL. He has filled the role well, as he just torched Detroit’s defense for an insane 12.5 YPC. Yes, 66 of those yards came on one carry, but that means he was still running at a 7.2 YPC clip. Up next is Kansas City. Teams have had to throw a lot to keep up with the Chiefs’ offense, so it will be interesting to see how much Brieda is given the ball this week.
WR: Stefon Diggs, MIN
9 receptions, 128 yards, 2 touchdowns.
The fourth-year wide receiver may have started slow, but he bounced back in a big way. What are the three most important things for a WR1? Targets, Targets, and Targets. As foretold in our Start/Sit column, Stefon saw his targets increase from 6 to 13 and his point total followed. Cousins is starting to find his rhythm with his two main targets, which is not good news for the rest of the NFC.
WR: Michael Thomas, NO
12 receptions, 89 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Where do we begin with Michael Thomas? His 28 receptions through two games puts him on pace for 224 receptions. I know he can't sustain this pace for the full season, right? Cleveland seemed incapable of stopping Thomas as he caught 12 of 13 targets. Next up are the Falcons and Thomas has averaged 7.8 receptions for 102 yards and a TD over 4 career games. It doesn't look like this tank engine is slowing down at all.
TE: OJ Howard, TB
3 receptions, 96 yards, 1 touchdown.
With all of the passes being thrown in Tampa, it only makes sense that OJ would catch a few. His long TD came out of an 11 personnel grouping with OJ being split wide on as the 3rd WR on his side. He ran a 10-yard dig and outran the coverage to the opposite sideline before heading for the end zone. With only 6 targets through 2 games, I wouldn't expect many more of these days.
Matt Stafford, QB, DET
34/53 passing, 347 yards, 3 touchdowns; 1 carry, 8 yards.
Matt Stafford is alive and well. After a dismal week 1, the former Bulldog rebounded and had a solid day, saving many Late Round QB disciples from panicking. The Lions face New England, Cowboys, and Packers in the next three weeks, so expect Matty Nice to start to roll.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
8 carries, 37 yards; 14 receptions, 102 yards.
I. Love. Christian McCaffrey. I haven't cheered this hard for a Christian since Pvt. Doss climbed Hacksaw Ridge. Did you know the record was for most receptions in a game by a running back is 15 by Darren Sproles? McCaffrey should continue this level of performance as Cam's main target.
Players to Watch
Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
4 receptions, 64 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 3 yards.
It would be nice to have a rookie WR receiver have a great season.
Tavon Austin, WR, DAL
2 receptions, 79 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 carry, 15 yards.
Be still, my beating heart! It seems like Dez may have lit a fire under the Cowboys' playcallers, as the offense showed more in one week than it had in the past two seasons.