Eddie Royal, what do we make of him? I mean, the guy has just tied Marvin Harrison, Ben Hawkins, and Daryl Turner for the most receiving touchdowns in the first two games of a season, going back to 1960. That’s as many as he scored in his one fantasy relevant season, in 2008 as a rookie playing with Jay Cutler. That’s as many as he has scored in every season combined since then.
Most of the guys who had a big touchdown run in the first two games were fantasy relevant the year before (Marvin Harrison in 1998 was the lowest, at #31, thanks to missing 4 games the previous year with injury). So those guys were mostly starters and already considered good, and they had a good stretch of games with touchdowns.
Is there any precedent, though, for an Eddie Royal situation? A guy who broke out as a rookie, then basically disappeared for awhile and was a backup or unproductive starter for at least four years?
Kind of, if we look for guys who scored 120 fantasy points as a rookie, and then never did for four years, only to re-emerge after that.
Eddie Kennison would qualify, a pretty good rookie, then some down years and only a high water mark of WR38 in his fourth season, until he got to Kansas City and played in the Vermeil offense in 2002, at age 29. He had three straight top 25 finishes with the Chiefs.
After that, well, that’s about it. Every other productive rookie either fell off the face of the NFL earth never to return to prominence (think this guy) or had some other good years in the years that followed, even if they may have peaked as a rookie.
With Royal, I think you have to view him as a guy who is not likely to continue to ridiculous touchdown pace, but also a guy who has an opportunity now in San Diego, with an aging Malcom Floyd and unproven Vincent Brown, to get continued targets. I think he’ll finish between WR24 and WR36 when it is done, making him a flex play for the rest of the year. The matchup this week, against Tennessee, is not as favorable as the last.
Here are my other suggestions, based on players available in at least a third of all leagues on CBS sports.
I will still champion E.J. Manuel as the ideal QB2 if you are set at starter. I would not start him this week against the Jets, but if you are setting up future matchups, give him a look.
As for immediate matchup plays, I would go with the following in order: Alex Smith at Philadelphia, Ryan Tannehill vs. Atlanta, and Jake Locker vs. San Diego.
There are several injury situations to monitor this week, but few are certain to have the starter out. The one we know of is in Atlanta, where Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling are both low end flex options. Honestly, I might go Snelling with a choice of one, because Rodgers has been given plenty of opportunity in the past and it doesn’t seem like they want to put too many carries. Snelling might get the goal line tiebreaker looks.
James Starks came in and played a big role when Eddie Lacy left with concussion right away. Lacy may be out again, but even if not, I think Starks plays a role for at least one more week. He is the best immediate starting option among the waiver wire at running back.
Keep an eye on the Reggie Bush situation, it doesn’t sound like it is serious, but that doesn’t mean he might not rest a week. Washington is as good a matchup as you can have, so if Bush is out, Joique Bell (owned in most leagues) and even Mikel Leshoure becomes fantasy relevant.
Jordan Todman may get an opportunity with Jacksonville, but that is a dreadful situation and a matchup against Seattle (and there’s no clear indication of how carries will be split). If you can do it on the cheap, it’s nothing but a speculative add.
If you want a deep flex matchup play, look at Robert Turbin. So far, he has been getting the carries behind Lynch, while rookie Christine Michael has yet to see action. Last year, Turbin averaged 50 yards from scrimmage in the five games Seattle won by more than two touchdowns. If the Jacksonville game gets out of hand, Lynch will get rested. It’s a high variance play, but there is a possibility that Seattle pounds it with more than one back, knowing that Jacksonville can’t keep up.
Setting aside Eddie Royal as the top target, Marlon Brown is still available in most leagues and is the second option in Baltimore, and scored a touchdown last week.
After Brown as a long term add, I think there are some matchup possibilities this week. The top one is Nate Burleson against the porous Redskins secondary. Burleson is the clear second target early, as Ryan Broyles has yet to catch a pass. Kendall Wright emerged last week with a score, and gets to go against San Diego. Mohamed Sanu would be a good add in PPR leagues as the Bengals take on the Packers. Finally, if you are in really deep leagues, Donnie Avery against Philadelphia is a roll of the dice, considering what Eddie Royal just did against the same team.
Brandon Pettigrew wouldn’t be a great option, except the matchup against the Redskins has been gold. Both Celek and Finley have scored in the first two weeks. Keep an eye on my guy Dwayne Allen, who ended up missing last week with a hip injury and is under the radar.
As for matchup plays, watch the Vernon Davis news. If he is ruled out, I would take a flyer on Vance McDonald. Also, in deep leagues, take a flyer on Jordan Reed, he’s looked much better than Fred Davis and should see an expanded role.
I’m going to guess that Seattle isn’t available playing against Jacksonville. Among likely free agents, look to the BILLS going against the Jets, and the BROWNS visiting Minnesota, where Cleveland is allowing only 2.0 yards per carry so far this year.
1. Eddie Royal
2. James Starks
3. Kendall Wright
4. Marlon Brown
5. Nate Burleson
6. Jason Snelling
7. Jacquizz Rodgers
8. E.J. Manuel