Surprises through two weeks of NFL action

Aaron Rodgers has been very good in his first two starts this season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Two weeks into the 16-game schedule and already there have been some interesting developments - both good and bad. Let's study the results and see if they seem to indicate a permanent change in performance level or just the ups and downs of a long season.

Pleasant Surprises

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay - I thought he would struggle early from the pressure of replacing a legend, but Rodgers has been very good. No wonder head coach Mike McCarthy wasn't jumping at the chance to bring Brett Favre back to Wisconsin. Of course, the Packers have played Minnesota (last in passing defense in 2007) and Detroit (25th of 32 teams in 2008) so my approval is still pending.

Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo - Edwards has passed for more than 200 yards and one touchdown in each game while not throwing any interceptions. As rookie James Hardy develops, so too will the Bills passing offense, particularly in the "red zone" where Hardy's 6'5" frame will be a huge advantage.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee - Everybody knew the East Carolina running back was fast, but the speed at which he has blended into the Titan offense is the real story. Johnson had 18 touches in the season opener and 21 in Week 2 putting up 127 and 121 combined yards, respectively. Looks like an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago - The Bears running back is another rookie who has come in and contributed immediately. Forte has carried the ball 23 times in each game and despite being the focus of the defense has totaled more than 100 yards from scrimmage in both games.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis - So what if Marvin Harrison is back and playing. It's obvious that Reggie Wayne is the first option and Gonzalez is the second for Peyton Manning. The former Ohio State Buckeye leads the team with 185 yards receiving after his big nine-catch performance in Week 2.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia - Brought in to make the special teams more explosive, Jackson has become the Eagles home run threat on offense as well. He has begun his career with consecutive 100-yard receiving games and with a healthy Donovan McNabb and a coach who loves to throw the ball there is no reason to think he will slow down. Only two things to worry about, the health of the diminutive 5'10", 175 lb receiver and his ability to hold the ball until after he crosses the goal line.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit - We all know he has the tools, but a disappointing rookie season (injured back) led some to forget about his abilities. He has certainly shown them in the first two weeks (7-107 in Week 1 and 6-129-2 in Week 2) and with the porous Lions defense giving up points in bunches the offense will likely have to throw all year long.

Unpleasant Surprises

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati - He is usually a fast starter, so 2008 is very troubling. From 2004-2007 Palmer's average totals after Week 2 were 521 yards, 4.25 TDs and 2 INTs. So 228 yards, no touchdowns and three INTs has to be disturbing for fantasy owners. It likely won't get any better this week traveling to New York for a game against the defending Super Bowl champions. If you have another option, use it this week.

Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland - Like Palmer, Anderson is off to a slow start. Most "experts" weren't expecting as good a year in 2008 as in 2007 (3,787, 29 touchdowns), but this is ridiculous. How can an offense with Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II have just 16 points? Anderson is 29-for-56 for just 280 yards, 1 TD and two INTs. If this drought continues for one or two more games, it will not be out of the question that the Browns would start Brady Quinn at quarterback.

Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay - Grant came into camp late, then suffered a hamstring injury and it shows in his output. Plus most people expected the Packers to go conservative on offense to protect their inexperienced quarterback. Grant has just 27 carries for 112 yards and backup running back Brandon Jackson got a lot of playing time on Sunday. He might not be healthy for a couple more weeks, so you are going to have to be patient.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis - A top-five preseason choice, Jackson is struggling as is his entire St. Louis Rams team. Of course, they opened up against the Eagles and the Giants which may make thing appear bleaker than they actually are. This is a huge week for Jackson as well as for Marc Bulger and Torry Holt owners. If the Rams offense doesn't materialize on Sunday then it's time to "sell."

Randy Moss, WR, New England - With Tom Brady at quarterback, Moss was unstoppable, but with Matt Cassel he was just invisible. Will Moss go into his Oakland Raiders "funk"? Two catches for 22 yards is unacceptable for the best receiver in football.

Roddy White, WR, Atlanta - Like Moss, it looks like the change in quarterbacks has hurt his production. Just six catches for 113 yards is not good enough for those who were looking at last year's 83 receptions for 1,202 yards when they drafted him. The good news is that rookie quarterback Matt Ryan should get better each week and they don't play the Lions again. While the Falcons offense was decimating the Lions on the ground in Week 1, White got just two catches for 54 yards.

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