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Monday, September 22, 2014

FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 3 WRAPUP: 1:00 GAMES

Lots of game action for us to discuss so let's get right to all the action.

-Two more touchdown passes by Philip Rivers Sunday as he continues to renaissance from 2013.  Despite the Chargers being a run-first outfit, Rivers continue to sling it and reprise his past as a top ten fantasy football QB.  He got a lot of help from Donald Brown who carried the football a ridiculous 31 times for 62 yards, while also catching 5 passes for 27 more yards.  The catches were a shocker as Brown was not known for being an asset there but the early injury to Danny Woodhead necessitated such a huge workload.  Averaging only 2 yards per carry though shows you Brown's limitations.  However he will continue to be the workhorse guy with Ryan Matthews and maybe now Woodhead out.

Meanwhile Antonio Gates really hurt his owners with only 1 catch for 8 yards as the Bills doubled him throughout.  This after Gates caught three scores a week ago.  Continue to ride Gates as a TE 1 though while he is healthy. 

-Well it took two weeks for Jake Locker to remove himself completely from fantasy consideration after another awful outing versus the Cincy Bengals.   Meanwhile Andy Dalton threw his first interception of the season and managed no passing scores.  However he made up for it by catching a TD pass of all things on an option.  We'll take it.  It is nice to see Dalton protect the football better this season but the arrival of run-loving Hue Jackson has already taken away passing numbers.

Bishop Sankey might have earned himself a bigger look by picking up 61 yards on only 10 carries while Shonne Greene remained garbage.  I would pick up Sankey where available.  On the other side Giovani Bernard rushed for two touchdowns which made up for picking up only 47 total yards on the ground.  Jeremy Hill also got a rushing score but Bernard remains the clear top guy and is moving squarely into the top five among all running backs. 

What toe injury for A.J. Green?  He caught 6 balls for 102 yards Sunday as his turf toe injury seemed to cause no issues.  Big relief. 

-Brian Hoyer and Joe Flacco each tossed a TD pass but neither is a fantasy football option in anything but two-QB formats.  However the key name coming out of their meeting is Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro who came out nowhere to rush for 91 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.  Taliaferro was a fourth round pick from Coastal Carolina but he is likely to be a one-week wonder as Bernard Pierce should be back for Week 4.

-Steve Smith continued with his huge start to the season as he caught five more balls for 101 yards.  He figures to continue being a huge part of the passing offense after tight end Dennis Pitta was lost for the season with another dislocated hip.  It was the same injury that almost had Pitta missing all of 2013 as well.  Owen Daniels now becomes a very intriguing pickup as memories remain fresh from his two-TD game in Week 2.

Only one catch fro 23 yards by Jordan Cameron as he has gone almost completely bust for far this season both with his production and health.  Andrew Hawkins (7 catches for 87 yards) has won the attention of Hoyer as the top target in the passing game. 

-We thought there was going to be a shootout between the Packers and Lions but it was anything but as both guys went bust for their owners.  Stafford was shutout in the TD department and tossed two picks.  Once again Stafford is testing the patience of his owners and undermining his ability with turnovers.  Meanwhile the awful Green Bay offensive line is really hurting Rodgers as he threw for only 162 yards and 1 score.  Not good.  While I will never doubt Rodgers and you can't ever think of benching him, that now makes it two duds out of three to begin the season.

An even bigger dud so far has been Eddie Lacy who rushed for only 36 yards on 11 carries.  Lacy has already dealt with a concussion this season that may still be a factor but either way he has been horrendous.  The line once again is a key factor there but Lacy's mid-first round grade this summer is looking very ugly. 

Reggie Bush finally did something positive in rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries and one score.  He also did his PPR thing by catching 6 balls for 38 yards.  Bush has become more volatile due to the emergence of Joique Bell but retains RB 2 value in PPR formats.

A week after setting Green Bay receiving records, Jordy Nelson caught only 5 balls for 59 yards.  Andrew Quarless caught the Rodgers touchdown among his four receptions.  Quarless is knocking on the door of relevancy but not just yet.  On the other side Calvin Johnson caught 6 passes for 82 yards as he was quiet by his standards for the second week in a row.

-It wouldn't be Tony Romo if he didn't have at least one moment where you grabbed your hair out if you are an owners.  Romo tossed a pick-6 but he also made up for it with two scoring tosses among his 217 yards.  The Cowboys have not exactly lit it up under Scott Linehan yet and Romo's numbers are down.  We are not pushing him as an every week guy just yet in single-QB formats.

Another 100 yards rushing day right on the nose by DeMarco Murray and he picked up a score as well.  Murray so far has remained healthy as his owners are always holding their breath.  He list his third fumble in three weeks though among his 4 catches for 31 yards.  Murray is leading the NFL in rushing though and is rewarding those who ignored the injury history and paid a very risky late first round price.

Dez Bryant has been unstoppable the last two weeks as he caught a long TD pass from Romo among his 6 grabs for 89 yards.  As long as the healthy cooperates, there are no issues regarding Bryant challenging for the number 2 receiver spot behind Calvin Johnson.

I am really starting to worry about Jason Witten who I personally benched for Larry Donnell this week and I didn't regret the move.  Witten caught 4 meaningless balls for 49 yards and he has yet to score through three games.  Age is looking like a factor for one of the all-time PPR greats.  Right now Witten is performing like a bench guy.

The Rams should stop with this Benny Cunningham business as he was awful for the second week in a row as opposed to Zac Stacy who rushed for 67 yards on 12 carries.  Stacy has looked solid but unspectacular the last two weeks and deserves more carries.  He is slowly inching his way back up the value ladder.

-Another game and another one with only one score for an increasingly mediocre Tom Brady.  Brady threw for only for 234 yards and the one touchdown and once again missed open throws.  We are three weeks into the season now of underwhelming Brady outings and at 37 once has to wonder if is now on the downside.  What is really stark is the fact Brady has a healthy array top-end weapons which makes his results even more ugly.  Don't give up yet but it could also be a good idea to get someone with upside behind him onto your roster.

The running games did nothing for either New England or Oakland.  Stevan Ridley remains an up and down play as he rushed for only 54 yards on 19 carries against a woeful Raiders defense.  As far as the receivers were concerned, James Jones led Oakland with 3 catches for 43 yards and remains the WR 3 he always had been.  On the other side, the Raiders had no answer for Julien Edelman who caught 10 balls for 84 yards.  There are fewer better PPR specialist than Edelman.  Brady's TD toss of course went to Rob Gronkowski who caught 3 passes for 44 yards.  While Gronk continues to score like always, his catches per game are down more than a little.  Could it be he has lost a step already due to his poor recent health?  Not likely as Gronk is too young for that and the Pats continue to work out the kinks in the passing game.

-The Teddy Bridgewater era has begun in Minnesota after Matt Cassel suffered fractures in his foot.  While Bridgewater has no fantasy football value, he has good accuracy and could be a factor later on in two-QB formats if all goes well.  On the flip side Drew Brees was nearly flawless in throwing for 293 yards and two scores.  Standard operating fare for the veteran.

The Vikings are going to have to look closely at Jerrick McKinnon as Matt Asiata was woeful for the second week in a row as he rushed for only 35 yards on 12 carries.  He has done some nice work out of the backfield in catching passes but Asiata is more a liability than a help.  Meanwhile Khiry Robinson was a popular pickup this week but didn't make much of a dent in rushing for 69 yards on 18 carries and was shut out in the passing game.  The speed is intriguing by any New Orleans runner falls into RB 3 territory due to their massive passing game.

Brandin Coooks rebounded from a quiet Week 2 by catching 8 balls for 74 yards and Marques Colston got on the board with a TD but managed only two catches total.  Colston was shut out last week of course and many still believe he is on the downside despite being only 30.  The Saints always rotate receptions outside of Jimmy Graham (6 catches for 54 yards) though so don't drop him just yet.

-Eli Manning has thrown for two TD's the second game in a row as talk has quieted that he is not a good fit in the West Coast offense.  Victor Cruz was the main beneficiary as he scored and caught 5 passes for 107 yards.  It has been more than a full season of games since Cruz last scored but at least this is a nice sign going forward.  Joining Cruz in the firework was new tight end sensation Larry Donnell who caught 6 passes for 45 yards.  Donnell has caught 6 or more balls each of the first three weeks and already is a favorite target of Manning.  I rode with Donnell this week over Jason Witten and will continue to do so given what we have see thus far this season.

Rashad Jennings can truly be called a late bloomer as he broke out last season with Oakland and is off to a roaring start with the Giants.  Jennings was unstoppable Sunday in rushing for 176 yards on an insane 34 carries and one score.  The key is that Jennings got the goal-line work which he cashed in but the workload is a bit of a worry.  If this keeps up, Jennings could move into RB 1 territory.

Andre Johnson remains a victim of his shoddy QB as he caught only 4 balls for 24 yards.  DeAndre Hopkins did some garbage time work to put forth a better than it looks 6-catch day for 199 yards.  With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, we really can't recommend Hopkins as anything but a fill-in.

Alfred Blue did a nice job rushing for 78 yards on only 13 carries and one can only guess how long Arian Foster will be out with his balky hamstring.  Hold Blue until Foster's deal is cleared up. 

-Told you all to pick up Kirk Cousins prior to the game and hoped you listened as the new Redskins QB threw 3 touchdowns and a crazy total of 427 yards.  The Cousins era could be firmly entrenched by the time Robert Griffin III comes back.  So far he is not missed and Cousins is absolutely worth using on a weekly basis given his great cast of weapons.

Pierre Garcon was the big winner in the anointing of Cousins as he caught 11 balls for 138 yards and one score a week after being invisible on the field.  Love the immediate outlook on Garcon more than any other Redskins offensive player.  DeSean Jackson was no slouch himself in catching 5 balls for 117 yards and one score of his own which he relished against his old team.  Boost Jackson up a bit with Cousins under center as well.

Jeremy Maclin was the sleeper I just had to have this season given his place in Chip Kelly's offense but unfortunately I didn't get him.  Maclin only has to stay healthy in order for him to be potentially a blockbuster fantasy football weapon this season as he was for the second week in a row Sunday in catching 8 balls for 154 yards and a score.  Jordan Matthews was a monster in his own right as the rookie scored twice among his 8 catches for 59 yards.  It might be time to check to see if Matthews is available as his original owner might have gotten impatient with his quiet first two weeks.

Now let's get to Nick Foles.  Foles had a shaky preseason and was up and down the first two weeks but his place as the starting QB in Chip Kelly's offense locked him in as a top QB 1.  Well Foles delivered his best Sunday in passing for 325 yards with 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.  Foles has shown no signs of letting up from his awesome debut a season ago.

It was a bit of a disturbing game for LeSean McCoy who among all the offensive fireworks rushed for only 22 yards on 19 carries and took a shot to the head that sidelined him for a bit.  I said in the summer that the massive workload McCoy had a year ago could come back to bite him as it has to nearly every runner in history who had had that type of work (Jamaal Anderson anyone?), so this bears watching.

-All it took was a matchup against the awful Jacksonville Jaguars for Andrew Luck to find his groove as he passed for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also running for 15 on the ground.  I said in the summer that Luck was on the verge of being the best QB in the NFL and I won't change that assessment.  Seriously. 

T.Y. Hilton is a key injury to watch Monday and in his place Reggie Wayne, Donte Moncrief, and Hakeem Nicks all caught five passes.  Also with Toby Gerhart having his third miserable game in three tries in rushing for only 32 yards on 9 carries, Denard Robinson of all people got a look for the Jags.  Don't run to pick him up though.

The Blake Bortles era is upon us already as Chad Henne was a disgrace all season until Gus Bradley couldn't watch anymore.  Bortles has a bright future but not in fantasy football at this point.

 

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