Why stop at a great first impression when you can make the second almost as good?
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who scored 37 fantasy points during his first career NFL start in Week 3, followed it up with a week-topping (entering Monday's play) 32 on Sunday. That gave him a whopping 69 standard fantasy points through his first two career starts, which is the most by any player in his first two starts during the 21st century:
What's more, Freeman became the first player since 2001 to score at least 30 fantasy points in each of his first two NFL starts and, again since 2001, only the 12th running back at any stage of his career to manage two consecutive games of at least 30 fantasy points. In addition, since 1960, only seven running backs ever accomplished it at a younger age: Le'Veon Bell (2014), Eric Dickerson (1983), Steven Jackson (2006), Walter Payton (1977), Clinton Portis (2003), Ricky Watters (1992) and Ricky Williams (2000).
Consider those names for a moment. Three of them have managed 300-point fantasy seasons (Dickerson, Jackson and Williams), and the group combined has 27 career seasons of at least 200 fantasy points. In short, what Freeman has done since being granted an expanded opportunity with Tevin Coleman sidelined puts Freeman in exclusive company with all-time fantasy greats and should increase the level of confidence his owners have in him.
Remember, this was a prospect whose speed and between-the-tackles rushing ability were often drawn into question at earlier stages of his career, so two performances like this make it clear he's a bona fide RB2 now that he has the Falcons' starting job wrapped up.
The steady rise to stardom
Speaking of second impressions, St. Louis Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley had an encouraging second career game on Sunday, scoring 15 fantasy points on 19 carries without the benefit of a touchdown. To put into perspective how meaningful that performance was, only 12 players since 1960 have scored more fantasy points in a game at a younger age than Gurley, who played Sunday's contest at the age of 21 years, 62 days:
Now remember: Gurley is only two games removed from ACL surgery on Nov. 25, 2014, making his performance all the more impressive. It's not unthinkable that Gurley could be in the discussion for RB1 status before midseason.
• By kicking seven field goals, two of which were 40-yarders and two-51 yarders, Cairo Santos of the Kansas City Chiefs finished with the third-best fantasy game by any kicker since 1960. Here are the five kickers to manage as many as 25 fantasy points in a game since that year, led by Rob Bironas, who holds the NFL record with eight field goals, accomplished in his listed game:
Perhaps most remarkable: Santos is the only one of these five to have done it in a losing effort. In fact, the other four kicked for teams that scored at least 35 points in the games in question. Santos was started in just 2.2 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
• The Rams' Tavon Austin enters Monday's play as the highest-scoring wide receiver in Week 4, with 23 fantasy points, most of those a result of his two receiving touchdowns. Strangely enough, he has had three games of exactly two receiving touchdowns in his career, those accounting for all six of his career receiving scores. They also resulted in his three best individual fantasy point totals: 31 (2013 Week 10), 23 (2015 Week 4) and 16 (2013 Week 2).