Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs continue their assault and other takeaways from Week 2

Jay Asser 18/09/2018
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Patrick Mahomes is very much for real and the Kansas City Chiefs have a budding star holding the reins of their offence.

One week after throwing four touchdowns in his first game as the full-time starter, the 23-year-old quarterback sizzled in the 42-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, slinging six scores and 326 yards on just 23 completions.

Mahomes had more touchdown passes than incompletions (five) and became the first player in NFL history to have 10 touchdowns in the first two games of a season.

Tyreek Hill was involved again after going off in the opener, but this time Mahomes utilised Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins more, with the former recording 109 yards and two scores, while the latter had 100 yards on six catches.

Kansas City’s attack is shaping as perhaps the best – and certainly the most explosive – in the league, with Mahomes well ahead of schedule in his development.

There were never any doubts about his potential and big-play ability coming into the season, but he’s somehow been efficient and mistake-free as well to surprisingly bringing Alex Smith’s best attributes to the table.

No player or team is more of a must-watch right now.

Here are other takeaways from Week 2.

FEAR THE BEARD

Speaking of fun quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick is making believers of the ‘Fitzmagic’ phenomenon.

Jameis Winston should be preparing to sit on the bench or be elsewhere after the way Fitzpatrick has led the team to start the season.

The veteran quarterback leads the league in passing yards (819), yards per attempt (13.4) and passer rating (151.5) as Tampa Bay are 2-0 and looking like a dark horse thanks to their high-octane attack.

Fitzpatrick has clearly won over his team-mates, not just with his play on the field, but with his leadership, as evidenced by his flashy post-game get-up on Sunday, which he says was borrowed from wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Winning is fun and at some point, Fitzpatrick will look more like the journeyman he was coming into the season and less like the All-Pro he’s been so far, but it’s not unimaginable that the Buccaneers can continue to put up a healthy amount of points considering the talented skill players on their roster.

GIANTS COMING UP SMALL

This is not how the New York Giants envisioned this going when they constructed their roster in the offseason.

A loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the opener was excusable, but following that up by being outclassed in a loss to a Dallas Cowboys team that was so uninspiring in Week 1? That’s a major concern.

It wasn’t difficult to see this coming from the outside. The Giants finished with a 3-13 record last year and it looked like it was time for Eli Manning to retire.

Instead of transitioning to a new era this season, the team decided to double down on Manning still having juice and drafted Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. They passed up a number of quarterback prospects, most notably Sam Darnold, to take a player who is great at what he does, but plays a position that has little relative value.

The offensive line, which went out and spend big money on tackle Nate Solder, continues to be an issue. Between their struggles and Manning’s ineffectiveness, New York’s skill players can’t make the same impact they otherwise could in a better situation.

The Giants believed the pieces around Manning would lift him up. Instead, he’s bringing them down.

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Fantasy NFL: Giovani Bernard's value on the rise with Joe Mixon sidelined and other top waiver wire pickups

Jay Asser 17/09/2018
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Here are the top fantasy options to pick up off the waiver wire this week.

GIOVANI BERNARD

With Joe Mixon expected to miss multiple weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Giovani Bernard becomes one of the top waiver wire targets.

The Cincinnati Bengals running back handled healthy workloads earlier in his career and he could prove especially useful in PPR leagues thanks to his abilities as a receiver.

The Bengals offence is on a roll right now, so even if Bernard only gets a week or two in the spotlight, he should make it worthwhile.

AUSTIN EKELER

Though he was already on the radar after Week 1, the Los Angeles Chargers running back reaffirmed his value on Sunday by racking up 98 yards from scrimmage and three receptions.

Melvin Gordon left the game in the fourth quarter with an upper body injury and if he misses any time, Ekeler would be in line for a hefty workload.

But even when Gordon is healthy, Ekeler has shown enough through two weeks to be considered a flex option going forward. He’s the type of player that comes in handy during bye weeks.

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COREY CLEMENT

Hopefully you’ve held on to the Philadelphia Eagles running back, because he reminded in Week 2 that he remains a valuable stash.

Starter Jay Ajayi exited the contest with a back injury before returning, and considering his injury history, it may not be the only time this season Clement gets an increased workload.

A healthy Ajayi and Darren Sproles eat into Clement’s opportunities, but as he showed in the Super Bowl, his ceiling is high as both a runner and receiver if he ever gets regular touches.

JOHN BROWN

Once a fantasy sleeper during his time in Arizona, Brown has again got the attention of the fantasy community with his early contributions for Baltimore.

On Thursday, he tied Michael Crabtree for most targets (10) and led the way in receiving yards (92), while hauling in a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.

Injuries have really been the only thing that have held Brown back in his career – he carries a sickle cell trait – so if he can stay on the field, he should be a solid WR3 with upside as a deep-ball threat.

ANTONIO CALLAWAY

Now that Josh Gordon is out of the picture in Cleveland, Callaway stands to benefit from the production left behind.

Jarvis Landry remains Tyrod Taylor’s top target, but Callaway’s speed gives the Browns a vertical threat who can take the top off the defence, as he did with his 47-yard touchdown grab on Sunday against New Orleans.

He was only targeted four times, but that number should increase as he settles into the starting role full-time.

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Jacksonville Jaguars prove to themselves and everyone else that they're legit contenders

Jay Asser 17/09/2018
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The bottom never fell out this time.

After looking eerily similar to the AFC Championship Game for three-plus quarters, the rematch between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots on Sunday had a far different ending.

Conservatism never set in for Jacksonville. Their uber-talented defence never succumbed. Blake Bortles was the hero, not a liability.

Week 2 victories aren’t usually significant, but for the Jaguars, their 31-20 win was about more than just maintaining an unbeaten record on the season.

It was a statement, perhaps more to themselves than to the rest of the league, that reaching the doorstep of the Super Bowl in January wasn’t a fluke, and that they’re more than equipped to go one or two steps further this season.

Jacksonville treated Sunday almost as if it was their Super Bowl. They wanted this one badly, in part to remove some of the sting remaining from their collapse in the AFC title game.

Tangibly speaking, the victory may only end up factoring in when home-field advantage is determined at the end of the season – not exactly a footnote, but a point that is nearly an eternity away from mattering.

However, the confidence the Jaguars gained from taking down New England is far more valuable, especially for the offence.

The other side of the ball wasn’t lacking belief, and while they now know for sure they can slow down Tom Brady’s attack, Jalen Ramsey and Co never had anything to prove.

Bortles and the offence, on the other hand, needed to show they could be the aggressors – not the team’s handicap.

Not only did they do that on Sunday, but they did it in the most convincing way possible as Bortles played arguably the game of his life and validated the faith shown in him by Nathaniel Hackett’s emboldened play-calling.

Bortles wasn’t asked to not lose the game this time – he was asked to go and win it. Even late in the fourth quarter, pass plays were called in running situations and seemingly every time, Jacksonville’s quarterback rose the occasion.

In total, Bortles attempted 45 throws, completing 29 of them for 377 yards and four touchdowns. His lone mistake, an interception in the fourth quarter, was a tipped pass off the hands of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Bortles even added 35 yards on six rushes to look like the duel-threat player Bill Belichick billed him as in the lead-up to the game.

As impressive as the performance was though, it came against a lifeless New England defence that lost safety Patrick Chung and defensive end Trey Flowers during the contest. The Patriots unit looked improved in their opener against Houston, but it’s appearing more like that was the result of the Texans’ struggles, particularly on the offensive line.

If Bortles sees the same version of New England’s defence in January, it won’t really matter how much he’s been tested by better defences.

Considering the Patriots’ track record, it’s also possible that the next time they play Jacksonville, they’ll have hit their stride.

September disappointments are nothing new for Belichick’s side. Whether it was the 41-14 beat down to Kansas City in 2014, or the 42-27 embarrassment to the Chiefs in the opener last year, the Patriots have dealt with early-season hiccups by putting them in the rearview mirror swiftly.

The offence will undoubtedly be better than it was on Sunday, which was the Patriots’ first game with their running back trio of Rex Burkhead, James White and Sony Michel all healthy. Julian Edelman, who is currently serving a four-game suspension, will return in three weeks to greatly bolster the wide receiver corps and give Brady another trusty weapon.

It’s the other side of the ball which has questions to answer. The pass rush was often lacking last season and on Sunday, their issues resurfaced as they couldn’t get to Bortles for a single sack. The secondary didn’t help matters as they were burned constantly in man coverage.

It would be too early to panic for any team, but especially for New England, who every year try to build up to the playoffs so they can hit their peak when at the right moment.

While the Jaguars enjoy the high of one of the franchise’s most important wins, the Patriots are taking the long view.

If they meet again, how both teams respond to the Week 2 result could make all the difference.

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