Interesting day. The early games were mostly ugly, sloppy, injury-filled. The later games were fantastic back-and-forth slugfests with highlight after highlight. The day got better as it went, ending with a battle that made you glad you were watching.
I'm not sure if I can statistically prove this, but Week 2 annually seems to be a tough week for injuries. There were a bunch of them, swinging matchups and (depending on the severity of some of them) some fantasy team fortunes in weeks to come. On to the grisly details.
Patriots at Jets: This game went pretty much as expected, aside from Zach Wilson tossing 4 interceptions. But New England with a strong defense, coming off a 4-fumble game, facing a rookie quarterback and a team without much defense...yeah. Didn't love New York's only noteworthy offensive player, Corey Davis, coming off a big game in this matchup, but obviously wasn't low enough on him. Figured below-average; instead he was invisible. Damien Harris had one of the more impressive touchdown runs you'll see, dragging a bunch of Jets into the end zone, and James White also ran one in (out of a shotgun formation). But the main story was Wilson chucking up bad picks.
Broncos at Jaguars: Jacksonville took an early 7-0 lead on a Trevor Lawrence to Marvin Jones touchdown. Their offense then proceeded to do virtually nothing the rest of the game, with their only remaining points coming on a kickoff return touchdown (2nd week in a row I've lost 5 points from my Denver defense on a meaningless late touchdown, and this one wasn't even against the defense, making it even worse). Josh Lambo misses from 52, 48 in first half. Not that he was the problem but those plays don't help. Denver hosts the Jets next week, should be another strong defensive outing. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams again split carries, Williams was better. Gordon caught 2 for 38 but one of those was a junk play with the team pitching it around on the closing seconds of the first half. James Robinson got the bulk of the backfield work for Jacksonville, such as it was. Huge day for Courtland Sutton, apparently feeling better in his ACL recovery, plus Jeudy is out. Good game for Teddy Bridgewater, hats off to him (a little more arm and a long ball to Sutton would have gone for a long touchdown, but whatever).
Bills at Dolphins: Nice game for Devin Singletary early and Zack Moss late. There won't be a lot of games both guys score, but I'll be more generous to Singletary in future Saturday recommendations. When it was a game, he was the guy; Moss did most of his work after the rout was on. Some nice plays by Josh Allen along the way too, notably a scrambling touchdown to Stefon Diggs. For the Dolphins, not much to say. Tua Tagovailoa left with a rib injury and fairly quickly thereafter Jacoby Brissett killed a drive by floating a bad interception.
49ers at Eagles: Eagles probably feel pretty bad about this one, missing out on a couple of early touchdowns in a game they lost by 6 points. An early Jalen Hurts to Jalen Reagor touchdown erased because Reagor stepped out of bounds right before catching it. Later, Hurts nearly had a 97-yard touchdown to Quez Watkins, which ultimately was a 91-yard reception, and the Eagles ended up not getting in, screwing up a "Philly Special" play on fourth down. San Francisco made Elijah Mitchell its feature back, as expected, but Mitchell had a short touchdown overturned (quarterback sneak, ultimately) and then left with a shoulder injury. Trey Sermon got his chance but on his first carry took a big hit, fumbled and apparently suffered a concussion. And JaMycal Hasty picked up an ankle injury. Mitchell returned, so possible he'll be OK, but we'll know for sure this week.
Rams at Colts: So Carson Wentz got his foot and ankle twisted awkwardly on an Aaron Donald tackle/sack (Wentz was kind of scrambling and I'm not sure what it went in the book as). That was certainly a factor in the narrow loss (Jacob Eason immediately heaved a pick down the sidelines to Jalen Ramsey), but so was Wentz's performance prior to that. Most notably, he threw an interception near the goal line on a shovel pass; not the kind of thing you see very often. When the pocket breaks down (which was happening a lot in this one) he makes the kind of mistakes that ruined last season in Philadelphia, and I'm not sure Frank Reich will be able to coach it out of him. Moot point if the injury is serious, and it looked at the time. Big game for Cooper Kupp, obviously, who's put together two of the best back-to-back games you'll see from a wide receiver. Big game for Michael Pittman on the Colts side, although Zach Pascal got the touchdown. Not much out of Jonathan Taylor, though not a huge surprise with a couple tough opening matchups for the offense. The quarterback situation is the big concern here.
Raiders at Steelers: Pretty cool leaping Najee Harris touchdown reception in this one. Steelers aren't going to be running the ball very well, but Harris' usage as a receiver and simple workhorse role will be enough to make him a weekly starter. Raiders surprisingly 2-0, Derek Carr and company playing well. Sweet long Touchdown to Henry Ruggs, and also a Bryan Edwards touchdown catch, but erased by a holding penalty. Raiders also couldn't run the ball at all, not a shock with Peyton Barber the main ballcarrier. Kenyan Drake usable in PPR for his receiving, that's it.
Bengals at Bears: This was a winnable game for the Bengals, but Joe Burrow was a little loose with the football (3 interceptions) and the Bears snuck away with it. Andy Dalton hurt, Justin Fields didn't do much (especially with his arm) but was good enough with his legs that they got the win. Modest rushing numbers all the way around, but a couple of Bengals wideouts scored. So did Allen Robinson, saving an otherwise quiet day (Chicago passed for only 116 yards, so...)
Texans at Browns: Houston took an early lead, having me wondering if betting against them in a Survivor Pool was a mistake. But their defense can't really stop anyone, and they're still trying to get by with a mostly forgettable set of offensive players. Some nice runs by Chubb, Hunt, Demetric Felton...and even Baker Mayfield, who left early with what looked like a left arm injury (making a tackle after an interception) but returned and ran in a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury severe enough that he's already been ruled out for Thursday night's game. Deshaun Watson? No probably Davis Mills against a vastly improved Carolina defense, that should go well.
Saints at Panthers: So that's 0 for 2 on Marquez Callaway, 1 for 2 on Juwan Johnson, and 1-1 for the Saints. I'm thinking the Jameis Winston Era in New Orleans might not be a long one. They don't seem to want him throwing much, in part because so many of them look and end bad. Winston attempted only 20 passes last week, but threw 5 TDs. This week he attempted just 22, somehow, even with the team totally incapable of running the ball and falling well behind. A couple of bad interceptions and another overturned by replay (that also looked really bad). Callaway saw just 4 targets; the only player who saw more than that was Kamara. New Orleans isn't throwing to its wide receivers at all, and while it was easy to shrug off in a blowout win, it's not as easy in an ugly loss. Team is in New England next week, which is an unlikely spot for anyone to turn things around. I will not be starting Callaway.
Vikings at Cardinals: This was arguably the best game of the day, a back-and-forth thriller with big play after big play. Great to see Kyler Murray using all his targets and youngsters like Rondale Moore stepping up with huge plays (nearly had a second touchdown). A.J. Green also scored, but I'm not buying (he had a drop near the goal line that nearly cost the team the game). Offense is better when passes are going to players not named Green. I feel the same about Chase Edmonds (good) and James Conner (not good) as I did in August. Vikings did everything but win this one, losing only when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal at the end. Painful; I kind of felt bad for the guy. Maybe Minnesota should have give Daniel Carlson more leeway a couple of years ago.
Falcons at Bucs: This was more in line with what I expected when I said some nice things about Matt Ryan in August. Yeah he threw a couple of late Pick Sixes, but in general an encouraging outing for the Atlanta offense (and a stunning one for Cordarrelle Patterson, who I clearly underestimated to someone last week. He's going to be a factor in this offense all year. Another big game for Tom Brady, who I should have in more leagues considering how high we ranked him, and Rob Gronkowski. Mike Evans too.
Titans at Seahawks: I don't know how Seattle managed to lose this one, and I was watching it. Derrick Henry got his freight train thing going in the second half, that was part of Tennessee's comeback. And Seattle too often seems to make little miscues that end up looming large. Team should be 2-0, but let this one get away. Pretty amazing to watch Russell Wilson dropping bombs in the hands of Tyler Lockett though. Big numbers, ultimately, from both offenses, and a good game from Julio Jones, even though he lost a pretty amazing touchdown on a replay review (second foot came down on the line). Weird moment when the NFL Redzone channel went to the day's highlight package rather than show the last few minutes of overtime.
Cowboys at Chargers: Another good game to watch, with mild frustration for the offensive players (Prescott, Cooper) who weren't quite as good as they could have been, and the lost touchdowns (Herbert to Cook) due to minor penalties. I did come away from this one impressed with the Chargers defense, that made some plays and probably should have been good enough to win against a great Dallas offense. Big game for Tony Pollard, who no one started; this isn't quite a committee (and note that his touchdown run came on an end-around; Elliott was in the backfield), but clearly the No. 2 will be playing a little bit more. Clutch kick by Greg Zuerlein to win it; funny to consider he was shaky in Week 1.
Kansas City at Ravens: Day ended with a classic, with big plays galore. Very tough one to watch for those of us with Tyreek Hill everywhere, since Baltimore made a point of bracketing him, so Patrick Mahomes simply threw touchdowns to pretty much everyone else on the roster. Mahomes is awesome, but Lamar Jackson made enough plays (mostly with his legs) to keep things close, and then the Ravens pulled off one of the all-time clutch calls at the end, going for it on 4th down on their own side of the field rather than punting it to Kansas City in the final minute. A late Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble lost this game. I'm not going to give him too much grief for that specifically (it was a great defensive play to punch the ball out, and CEH hasn't been a fumbler to this point), but it needs to be said that he's been handed a plum role in the league's best offense and I'm not sure what exactly he does particularly well. Ordinary back in a great situation.
Monday, Monday: So I have a 15-point lead and am facing T.J. Hockenson tonight. Considering he's the only Lions receiver I'm sure can walk and chew gum at the same time, either he's going to have a monster game and I'll lose or Green Bay will triple-cover him and I'll win. Whatever the case, it will be a major surprise to me if Aaron Rodgers doesn't come out hitting big plays to all of his receivers; ground game should be strong too. Packers 31, Lions 17.