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The Teddy Bridgewater Butterfly Effect on Fantasy Football

Drew Brees tore a ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand during the first quarter of Sunday’s 27-9 loss to the Rams and did not return. Initial reports suggest surgery is likely for Brees with a return possible in six weeks. Teddy Bridgewater, the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL, relieved him. Bridgewater figures to lead the Saints in Brees’ absence, but what does that mean for fantasy football?

Changing from a future Hall of Fame QB to a backup who hasn’t played a starting role since 2015 constitutes an obvious downgrade. During his two seasons as Minnesota’s starter, he posted fantasy finishes of QB22 in 2014 and QB23 in 2015, per Fantasy Data. Since then he’s made one NFL start for the Saints, last season in Week 17. Bridgewater completed 14-of-22 passes for 118 yards, one TD, and one INT for a rating of 73.7.

Sporting a career adjusted yards per attempt of 6.6, that number in six appearances with New Orleans dropped to 4.9. He’s throw 29 career TD passes to 23 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. Drew Brees ranked No. 2 in AY/A in 2018 with a mark of 9.0.

Per game comparison of Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. Source: Pro Football Reference

Bridgewater recorded a passer rating of 72.2 against the Rams while completing 17-of-30 passes for 165 yards, no TDs, and no INTs. Not exactly a harbinger of great things.

He offers more in the run game than Brees but hasn’t been utilized as a runner by Saints coach Sean Payton. In six games with New Orleans Bridgewater rushed 11 times for five yards. He’s had two offseasons to learn the Saints playbook and should be expected to perform better than he did against the Rams, but gamers should approach with caution. Don’t expect Teddy B to produce numbers similar to Brees. However, he is surrounded by weapons with an offensive-minded coach in Payton, who will tailor the gameplan for Bridgewater moving forward.

Michael Thomas stands to lose the most in terms of fantasy potential with Bridgewater under center. However, he still led the team in targets (13), receptions (10) and receiving yards (89) in Week 2.

Big Ben Out for the Season

Another high-profile QB went down Sunday with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a season-ending elbow injury on his throwing hand. Mason Rudolph, the 2018 third-rounder from Oklahoma State, takes over under center. Mason provides hope for the struggling Steelers (0-2). In preseason action he completed 65.1-percent of his passes and threw for 368 yards and four TDs to one INT. At the college level, he ranked in the 97th-percentile for YPA per

After taking over for Roethlisberger against Seattle, Rudolph went 12-of-19 for 112 yards, two TDs, and one INT. A favorite target of Rudolph’s at Oklahoma State and in the 2019 preseason, James Washington enters the fantasy conversation for deeper leagues. 

Run Like the Wind

♦ Chicago’s Cordarrelle Patterson recorded the fastest top speed among ball carriers in Week 2, per Next Gen Stats. He reached 22.23 mph on a 46-yard rush.

♦ Rookie David Montgomery saw a spike in usage, dominating touches over Mike Davis 19-3. It’s a good sign that the Bears plan to deploy him as their lead back going forward. Davis becomes nothing more than Montgomery’s handcuff.

♦ Dalvin Cook tallied 191 scrimmage yards while averaging 7.7 YPC and scored on another huge play, this time a 75-yard run. He appears back to full health and ready for that breakout season. Cook leads the league in rushing with 265 yards.

♦ Matt Breida (12-121-0, 10.1 YPC)  assumed lead back duties for the Niners, but he’s facing competition. Jeff Wilson Jr. vultured two TDs and earned 10 carries, while Raheem Mostert saw the most passing-game work. Mostert caught 3-of-4 targets for 68 yards and a score and carried 13 times for 85 yards (6.4 YPC).

♦ Breida and Mostert are the backs to roster on a team that’s attempted the second-most run plays (72) through two weeks.

♦ Joe Mixon’s stock takes a hit with the Bengals throwing more and running less under Zac Taylor. Mixon rushed 11 times for 17 yards against the Niners.

♦ Austin Ekeler’s workhorse role remains intact. He dominated touches over Justin Jackson (23 to eight) and scored his first rushing TD of the season.

♦ The Lions are trying to establish the run but it’s not working. They rank in the top-10 for rush attempts (60) but are averaging 3.5 YPC as a team.

♦ Gamers with Aaron Jones on their roster can breathe easier after his Week 2 bounce-back game. He dominated backfield touches 27 to 12 over Jamaal Williams, though the latter managed a receiving TD. Jones averaged 5.0 YPC and racked up 150 total yards.

♦ Chris Carson fumbled, Pete Carrol punished him for it and Rashaad Penny capitalized. After barely seeing the field last week Penny rushed 10 times for 62 yards and a score, averaging a higher YPC (6.2) than Carson (4.0) along the way. Penny caught one pass; Carson didn’t see a target.

♦ Tony Pollard had his first NFL rushing TD negated by a penalty. He rushed four times for 22 yards and caught one past for three yards as Zeke Elliot’s (23-11-1, 2-9-0) breather back.

Pass the Passing and Receiving Stats Please

♦ Sammy Watkins didn’t repeat Week 1’s performance but still saw heavy usage. He led the Chiefs with 13 targets but caught just six passes for 49 yards. Travis Kelce’s 100-yard game and the blowup from Demarcus Robinson (6-172-2) serve as reminders of Watkins’ volatility going forward.

♦ Speaking of Robinson, this was a glitch-in-the-matrix type of game for him. Over his first three NFL seasons, Robinson never recorded more than five catches and 89 yards in a game. He’s worth a look only because he’s catching passes from Patrick Mahomes, but that’s worth something.

♦ Marquise Brown allayed fears with an increased role in Week 2. He followed up his breakout performance by leading the Ravens in targets (13) while catching eight passes for 86 yards with a long play of 41-yards. His usage signals that he’s Baltimore’s WR1.

♦ The Dolphins again deployed both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen at QB in an ugly 43-0 loss to the Patriots. They’ve been outscored 102-10 over two games. Neither player belongs on a redraft roster.

♦ Mitchell Trubisky averaged 4.4 yards per pass attempt against Denver. The worst YPA among qualified QBs in 2018 was Josh Rosen’s 5.8, according to Pro Football Reference.

Allen Robinson led the Bears with four catches for 41 yards. Robinson is the only Bears pass-catcher worth rostering in redraft despite the risk with Trubisky under center.

♦ Perhaps the Vikings would do well do lean on the run game this season. After attempting a league-low 10 passes in Week 1, Kirk Cousins went 14-of-32 for 230 yards, one TD and two INTs. He recorded a 4.0 QBR in Week 2.

♦ Stefon Diggs produced a TD to save his fantasy day, but on the season he has a meager three catches for 86 yards. Cousins has targeted Diggs nine times and Adam Thielen 11 times. Diggs remains the more volatile player of the two.

♦ Despite dishing out back-to-back games with more than 100 receiving yards and a TD, John Ross remains a volatile weekly play. He leads the NFL in receiving yards (270) and is the only WR on the team to catch a TD so far. A bust week approaches.

♦ After leading the team with a ridiculous 14 targets and eclipsing 100 receiving yards in Week 1, Danny Amendola didn’t catch his lone target against the Chargers. His bagel reminds gamers that he’s a desperation flex play at best.

♦ The balance shifted in favor of Davante Adams in Week 2. He led the Packers in targets, catches and receiving yards after posting a Week 1 dud (4-36-0).

♦ Offseason acquisition Adam Humphries looks out of place in the Titans offense. He’s caught three passes for a total of four yards. His contract is worth $34 million over four years.

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