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Stock Up, Stock Down: Time to start Texans’ wideouts

Barkley injured, Commanders squeak by Broncos
Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze Saquon Barkley's injury in the Giants' win vs. the Cardinals, as well as the Commanders defeating the Broncos with a controversial no-call to end the game.

They (football fans and sports media) tell you not to worry about Week 1, whether it’s too good, too bad or too ugly. Well, what about Week 2? The fact of the matter is, it all counts. Whether it’s regular season, post season or fantasy season, it all counts. After Week 2, the picture is a tad more clear as far as players’ roles within the team’s scheme. Players like Anthony Richardson (6-of-10, 56 yards passing, three rushes for 35 yards and two touchdowns) and Odell Beckham (3-29-0) likely would’ve seen their stock rise had it not been for early injury exits. For players like Josh Jacobs (nine carries, -2 yards) and Ja’Marr Chase (5-31-0) who are proven players, we’ll see if they continue to underperform. After Week 2, we have some newcomers so let’s check them out.

Stock Up

WR - Robert Woods and Nathaniel Dell, Texans

Whether you like it or not, Woods is alive and well in the fantasy football world and we will accept it. He’s seen 19 targets come his way thus far in 2023 as the Texans’ WR2 behind Nico Collins. After going 12-131-0 through the first two games, he may not be a great game breaker, but we’re flirting with the fact that he should be rostered, especially if the Texans will be playing from behind. Rookie receiver Tank Dell has emerged as well, locking in as the team’s WR3 after following up his 3-34-0 debut by going 7-72-0 on 10 targets. You should consider Dell more of a deeper league pickup with a chance for some nice production down the line. While Collins is the de facto WR1 for the Texans right now, any of the three mentioned could be that on any given Sunday.

RB - Brian Robinson, Commanders

We don’t think of Robinson as a dynamic, explosive runner who will “wow” you with his play. Some might see that as a diss and it’s not, but it is what it is. He is however, carrying the load in the Commanders’ backfield while starting to sprinkle in a little (and I mean little) bit of receiving work. In his first two games this season, he carried the ball 19 (for 59 yards) and 18 times (for 87 yards, respectively). In Week 2 he cashed in with two rushing touchdowns as he’s the most viable goal line option for the team. Furthermore, he took three targets and turned them into two receptions for 42 yards. If you’re telling me this guy is going to get three targets every game I’ve got to open my eyes to that and you should too. Real is real and fantasy is fantasy.

WR - Puka Nacua, Rams

I didn’t plan to put Nacua here after having him in this column last week, but I didn’t expect him to up the ante. He followed up his 15-target, 10-119-0 performance with a 15-147-0 outing on a whopping 20 targets. Sure, he was a nice FLEX play in a tough matchup against the 49ers, but this man has put up bona fide WR1 numbers thus far in fantasy. He is Stafford’s guy and is literally cloning what Cooper Kupp did as a triple-crown winner in 2021. Sure, he’ll have games (or will he?) where he will put up six catches for only 52 yards, but he’s an every week starter and it shouldn’t be questioned. The Rams are not running the ball with authority right now, so they’ll continue to move the ball through the air. Nacua is the receiver you need to be starting alongside that stud you drafted in rounds one or two.

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Stock Down

QB - Justin Fields, Bears

Something is just not right with Fields, the Bears offense and the team as a whole. A combination of play calling, surrounding talent and Fields’ own poor decision making and mistakes have him looking like the worst quarterback value in fantasy thus far. Being outplayed by a previously unknown (to y’all at least) Jordan Love and Baker Mayfield in back to back weeks is not a good look for the eye test, the stat sheet or however you consume football. You’re not benching Fields by any means, but it doesn’t get any easier going on the road to Kansas City in Week 3. After that, Fields and the Bears will face the Broncos, Commanders, Vikings and Raiders. That is a stretch when he can perhaps get back on track, because if not then, then when?

WR - Garrett Wilson, Jets

This poor guy; he’s literally trying to will his offense to score points. When you’re playing a dependent position like receiver where your opportunities are limited, it can be tough. In consecutive weeks, Wilson has made Herculean efforts to make sure he scored his touchdowns. In Week 2, his 68-yard catch and run for a touchdown was one of only two catches he had, despite seeing eight targets. He’s a receiver that should be a top-10 fantasy receiver every week, but unless Zach Wilson makes strides on the field, it’ll be hard for him to return that investment. Because Wilson is still producing, you’re not even thinking about benching him, but Puka Nacua (mentioned above) is a better play at this point.

TE - Kyle Pitts, Falcons

You want to talk about pain? Ok, it’s not really painful or close to anything like that at all, but why does Pitts only have four receptions for 59 yards through two games? Wait, I have a better question. Why did Jonnu Smith out-target Pitts (six to five) and out-produce him in Week 2? Smith registered four receptions for 47 yards on six targets to Pitts’ 2-15-0 on five targets. The good thing is though, we at least now know the Falcons are willing to throw more than 30 times in a single game, so there’s hope, but results work better than hope in football. In Week 3, the Falcons will face a Lions’ team that just let up 328 passing yards, so don’t bench Pitts yet, but you don’t have to love having to start him. If there is player in a better situation (i.e., Sam LaPorta), start him instead.