Anything can happen in a two-game stretch in the NFL. People forget this. The 2013 Houston Texans won their first two games following a 12-4 season in 2012 … then lost their final 14 contests.
Most fantasy owners are smart enough to hold onto their players after Week 1, but you better believe some paranoid parrots are getting a little antsy after two weeks of action to digest.
Stock watch is here to help you capitalize on those chumps. Don’t let the weird occurrences of the season’s early matchups drastically affect your perception of players whose surrounding environment suggests an eventual turnaround — whether that’s for the better or worse.
Here are two players you should look to buy, sell and hold ahead of Week 3 for your fantasy team.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts WR
Hilton’s stock has been on a steady decline since the middle of last season, as the short speedster is stuck in a seven-game touchdown drought.
Give this man some credit, though. He had to withstand Josh Freeman, Ryan Lindley, Charlie Whitehurst and Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball during this scoreless streak last year. Only Whitehurst is still active in the NFL, and that’s only because “Clipboard Jesus” was signed by Cleveland this week — presumably to lead the Browns once current starter Cody Kessler succumbs to the team’s next devastating injury.
Anyway, Hilton had to work with some truly undesirable quarterbacks last year. Now, he’s got Andrew Luck — you know, the guy who helped Hilton rack up 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014.
Donte Moncrief’s injury leaves Hilton as the only proven wideout in Luck’s arsenal. With the Chargers, Jaguars and Bears on Indianapolis’ upcoming slate, it’s only a matter of time before Hilton explodes out of his slump.
But you should refuse to believe a talented tight end like Fleener will continue to perform so poorly in an offense guided by Drew Brees. He was targeted eight times last week, more than any Saint except Brandin Cooks.
Monday night will mark the 10th anniversary of the Saints’ legendary return to the Superdome against Atlanta following Hurricane Katrina. It’s the perfect opportunity for Fleener to open his touchdown account in New Orleans against a Falcons defense that’s already allowed opposing tight ends to score three times.
Christine Michael, Seahawks RB
Given Thomas Rawls’ leg injury and a pair of decent showings from Christine Michael, the C-Mike hype train was close to breaking the sound barrier earlier this week, but I think it’ll come off the rails again pretty soon, just as it always has.
Firstly, Rawls’ injury is apparently not as serious as many thought. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he’s on track to play Sunday against San Francisco and has retained his starting tag.
And let’s not forget that even though Michael has averaged 5.0 yards per attempt, he only has 25 carries under his belt. He fumbled in Week 2, and everyone knows coaches hate turnovers. Furthermore, Seattle’s offense has looked atrocious, so there might not be many red-zone opportunities to spread around in this time-share backfield.
You shouldn’t even play Michael as a flex in standard fantasy leagues. If someone’s willing to dangle a reliable starter for him, trade this tantalizing yet frustrating tailback while you can.
Matt Ryan, Falcons QB
Ryan leads all quarterbacks in fantasy points through two weeks, even though Julio Jones has been limited due to a sprained ankle suffered during the preseason. It’s been quite the revival for Matty Ice after a substandard 2015 campaign, but don’t expect it to last.
Atlanta has played the Raiders and Buccaneers, two teams that overhauled their secondaries during the offseason and clearly need some time to gel. After a potential shootout against the Saints on Sunday, the going gets much tougher for the Falcons. They’ll have to face the vaunted defenses of the Panthers, Broncos and Seahawks in back-to-back-to-back weeks.
You can probably convince the owner in your fantasy league who’s currently panicking over Russell Wilson to take Ryan off your hands while the iron is hot.
Mark Ingram, Saints RB
I’m bearish on Ingram’s long-term outlook this season, but he has a couple easy matchups over the next couple weeks (Atlanta, San Diego) that should help him rebuild his value a bit.
The Falcons’ front seven appears to be toothless once again. The Chargers have been surprisingly feisty in the opening weeks, but color me skeptical about any prolonged turnaround from a unit that ranked 28th in overall defensive DVOA and 31st in rush defense DVOA last year. New signee Brandon Mebane was a savvy pickup, but he’s not a lineman who transforms your defense.
If there’s any two-game period this season when New Orleans should establish the run, it’s this upcoming set.
Sammy Watkins, Bills WR
Don’t sell low on this physical specimen. There’s only one discernible reason why Greg Roman was fired after the Bills put up 31 points on the Jets last Thursday — he didn’t get Watkins the ball. The 2014 first-round pick has garnered just 11 targets in two games, with no completion gaining 20 yards or more.
Expect new Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to heed the clear mandate handed down by Rex Ryan — let our best playmaker make some plays.