DENVER BRONCOS – Peyton Manning continues to impress, another clean sheet with three TD’s and no interceptions. The running game will continue to be a quandry for fantasy owners as Knowshown Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball all receiving right around 10 carries a piece for the game. Proceed with major caution as all are just flex options at this point.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – Terrelle Pryor showed some good things Monday in Denver but he isn’t to be trusted in an offense that won’t produce more than 14-17 points a game. Darren McFadden, who had 12 carries for only nine yards last night, did get in the end zone late but this was a tough matchup to begin with against a Denver run defense that had stifled Ray Rice and David Wilson in weeks one and two. Expect smoother sailing ahead for McFadden as the season goes on.
CHICAGO BEARS – Matt Forte continues his resurgence in the new Marc Trestman offense, totaling over 100 yards and a TD in the win over the Steelers. Nice to see Alshon Jeffery, the former South Carolina Gamecock, get involved with seven catches totaling 51 yards on eight targets, which was tied for a team high on the night. Keep an eye on him as a possible bye week fill in if he was on your bench the past few weeks.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – LeVeon Bell is scheduled to return this week, and even though this week’s opponent, Minnesota, did a nice job against the run last week, Bell will get the lion’s share of the carries this week and beyond. The rest of the Pittsburgh running game can be ignore at this point. Antonio Brown had a monster game Sunday and should continue to produce this week against a Minnesota secondary that may be without its top corner and one of their safeties in London.
BUFFALO BILLS – CJ Spiller continues to find tough sledding against eight and nine man fronts as teams force EJ Manuel to beat them through the air, but I wouldn’t panic just yet. They play three straight games against the AFC North, two of which are at home, and they are going to need him to pull a couple of upsets over teams like Baltimore and Cincinatti. Robert Woods is a name to keep an eye on, as I said after week one. The former USC standout is worth a pickup this week after a 10 target game, despite just two catches. He is getting the looks and should produce over time, especially with bye weeks approaching.
NEW YORK JETS – Bilal Powell and Santonio Holmes are the two names to come out of this game, with both totaling over 150 yards each. Holmes is easily the pickup of the week if he hasn’t been already, five catches for 154 yards on 10 targets. He is now the defacto #1 wideout for Geno Smith who had the first 300 yard game of his career. Pickup Holmes in all formats.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – In a shocker by the bay, the Colts took it to the Niners especially on the ground. Ahmad Bradshaw had 19 carries for 95 yards and a score. Trent Richardson only had 35 yards but did carry the ball 13 times and reached the end zone on the first carry of his Colts career. Start either of them going forward. TY Hilton came back to earth with just two catches this week but the Colts didn’t need to throw it. They ran it so well, guys like Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton had pedestrian games. Expect them to bounce back in a big way against the hapless Jaguars next week.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers – Kaepernick was stifled on Sunday in one of the biggest fantasy shockers of the weekend. 150 yards, no scores and an interception? Not what owners expected, and now a tougher than you think matchup in St. Louis on a short week. Remember, the Rams in two meetings last year beat them at home and tied them in San Francisco. If you have a solid backup, you may think about benching Kaepernick this week. I don’t see that being a high scoring game at all.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – What did you expect in Seattle? They weren’t 20 point underdogs for nothing. Maurice Jones Drew, who I hyped in the preseason as a comeback player of the year candidate, did show a couple of signs of life in the game, reaching the end zone and totaling over 60 yards on the day. Against Seattle’s D on the road in that building it’s a small victory for a back you probably drafted as a low end 1-high end 2. Against Indianapolis next week at home I expect an improved performance, as the Colts allowed Frank Gore to almost reach the century mark. Cecil Shorts had a 143 yard day but he is Chad Henne’s favorite target. The human pylon Blaine Gabbert will be back next week. Bench all Jacksonville receivers until further notice.
ATLANTA FALCONS – A 1-2 start has the fans panicking down here, but everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize until they lose a home game, they’re not in trouble. I said last week Roddy White needs to be benched until further notice, and with his two catch, 16 yard performance, I was vindicated. Jason Snelling was a great plug and play totaling over 110 yards and reaching the end zone. Against the Patriots this week at home, expect Snelling to have another productive game.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – The Dolphins passing game has been effective in real life, Tannehill completing 24 of his 35 passes, but as for fantasy, it’s a mess. Four guys had between four and six catches and that doesn’t even account for #1 wideout Mike Wallace who had just two catches for 22 yards. They take on the Saints in New Orleans this week, so if you need a bye week fill in for a guy like Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson, you could do worse than a Brian Hartline or Brandon Gibson.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – Jonathan Franklin had a key fumble late but did total over 100 yards on the ground and could be a factor after the Packers bye in week four. Pick him up if you have room on your bench. Eddie Lacy is still dealing with concussion issues and James Starks left the game with a leg injury. This is definitely a situation to monitor over the next two weeks. Aaron Rodgers had a subpar day but there are many favorable matchups to come, starting with six division games and moving on from there. He’ll still finish as the #1 or 2 fantasy QB at year’s end.
ST. LOUIS RAMS – Isaiah Pead is the waiver wire pickup of the week for me at running back, even more than the aforementioned Franklin for Green Bay. Pead only had 20 yards on the ground but caught seven balls out of the backfield for 43 yards and in a PPR league those seven catches are as good as gold. With Daryl Richardson banged up and the Rams on a short week, expect Pead to get the majority of touches in Thursday’s game against a suddenly vulnerable San Francisco defense.
DALLAS COWBOYS – Demarco Murray rewarded his owners with a 175 yard game on the ground reaching the end zone once as the home team romped. The Cowboys didn’t need to throw it in this one with Tony Romo only attempting 24 passes. They ran it so well, they abandoned the passing game midway through the game and just fed Murray 26 times. Expect the passing game to ramp up this week as Dallas travels to San Diego.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Philip Rivers won an Emmy this week for best supporting actor playing “Checkdown Charlie” in a game that he completed just two passes over 15 yards the entire game. This was a big change from previous weeks where he was slinging it all over the field. Danny Woodhead of all people had seven catches to lead the team, and also had five carries for 31 yards. In a PPR league, Woodhead totaled a respectable 15 points, and can be considered a viable bye week flex option if you’re in a pinch. Every Charger receiver can be ignored until further notice, and that includes Eddie Royal who crashed back down to earth with a paltry two catch, 34 yard performance.
TENNESSEE TITANS – In probably the best performance of his young career, Jake Locker led the Titans down the field with no timeouts, under a minute to go and unleashed a 34 yard strike to rookie Justin Hunter for the game winning TD. Both are off of fantasy radars for now but it made for the best finish of the weekend. Nate Washington, however, should be monitored but not picked up right away. He did have eight catches for 131 yards on 10 targets, but for me Kenny Britt will get back into the act at some point. Britt was shutout on Sunday, but I expect them to lean on him going forward even though he is a malcontent on and off the field.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – This is word for word what I said about Josh Gordon last week. “Josh Gordon returns this week for the Browns, and if he is still available on your waiver wire, he should be a plug and play starter immediately. They take on the Vikings who gave up a ton of yards to the Bears last week and should do the same this week.” Like clockwork, folks. Gordon should be started in every league going forward. The running game, however, should be avoided. Gordon and Jordan Cameron, who had a hat trick of scores including one on a fake field goal, should be the only Browns started at this point.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Where to begin? A shocking loss at home to the Browns featured a mess in the passing game, with six players receiving between four and eight targets. Until Christian Ponder shows he is capable of consistently driving the ball down the field, I wouldn’t start any Viking receivers. Kyle Rudolph is still to me a low end #1 TE and with bye week approaching can be left in your lineup this week against Pittsburgh.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – The lopsided score would have you believe this was a blowout, but Tampa had just 30 less total yards than New England over the course of the entire game. Problem was the Bucs were just 5-for-14 on third downs and 0-for-4 on fourth down. Not a recipe for victory on the road. Mike Williams, a guy who I said was overlooked going into drafts back in August, had another productive day in defeat with five catches for 65 yards. As they play teams like Arizona, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Carolina over the next five weeks with a bye squeezed in there, expect the Tampa passing game to improve. That is if Josh Freeman can ever get his head screwed on straight.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Stevan Ridley is the back I get asked most about, whether it be by text, Twitter or in conversation. I was willing to give him one more shot last week, but now, he has to be benched. Owners need to make alternative plans because this New England running game isn’t showing any signs of breaking out of this season long funk now that Shane Vereen is on the IR till the second half of the season. Sit Ridley and try and grab a Isaiah Pead or a Danny Woodhead off of waivers. That’s how bad it’s gotten. Picking up a Patriot castoff and sitting the Patriots “starter”. Sigh.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – After leading 7-0 early, the Cardinals offense went into the tank for the final three quarters in New Orleans. Carson Palmer barely completed 50 percent of his passes in defeat, failing to reach the 200 yard mark in a game that most had pegged as a shootout. Not the case, and only two players caught more than three balls – Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Those two can be started in Tampa, but the Bucs secondary held Tom Brady to around 200 yards last week. Limit expectations.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – We know how good the Saints passing game is, but as for the running game, Mark Ingram is currently out with an injury which makes Pierre Thomas a viable option in the weeks to come. Even though he didn’t have many yards on the ground, in a PPR league he is certainly an option, catching six balls last week. I would even start him over a guy like Stevan Ridley this week.
DETROIT LIONS – Joique Bell had over 100 yards and a touchdown on the ground and catching balls out of the backfield, but with the pending return of Reggie Bush next week, Bell is nothing more than a flex option going forward. Nate Burleson broke his arm in a car accident early Tuesday morning and is out indefinitely, so this bumps up a guy like Ryan Broyles who did catch three balls last week and should receive more targets going forward.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Pierre Garcon is a guy I would target in a trade right now. The Redskins have nowhere to go but up, Garcon received a team high 13 targets in week three and caught eight balls for 73 yards. If there is an owner out there willing to give up on him after a few weeks, I would pounce. The rest of the Washington passing game including Santana Moss can be ignore at this point even though Moss did catch seven balls for 77 yards against Detroit in a losing effort.
NEW YORK GIANTS – Probably the worst performance of Eli Manning’s career. Probably the worst of Hakeem Nicks also. In fact, probably the worst the Giants have played in a game since before Tom Coughlin got there. Nowhere to go but up this week for guys like Victor Cruz who had three catches for 25 yards, David Wilson who had 11 carries for 39 yards and a 20 yard TD wiped out by a bogus holding call, and of course, Hakeem Nicks who had the big goose egg. Yes, they take on the Chiefs in Arrowhead but the urgency is front and center after an 0-3 start. Get all your Giants (Manning, Nicks, Wilson, Cruz) in there in a must win game for New York.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – Brandon LaFell should be added in all leagues if he isn’t on someone’s bench. The former LSU star had two TD’s, easily beating the Giant corners to the back of the end zone on each occasion. Only three catches but going forward they will need to pass the ball against teams like New Orleans and Atlanta to keep up with their opponents high powered offenses. LaFell will be involved and should be rostered at this point.
HOUSTON TEXANS – As I said on OT w/ Jim Murray Friday night, you should try and sell Arian Foster at this point. I preached how he wasn’t worth a top five pick citing several reasons including health. 12 carries for 54 yards and a matchup with Seattle this week. Good luck trying to get as much for him as you can. DeAndre Hopkins with another nice week totaling 60 yards on six catches in a down week for the Houston offense as a whole. If Andre Johnson continues to be hobbled by injury, expect targets, catches and especially TD’s to go up for the rookie from Clemson.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – In Ray Rice’s absence, Bernard Pierce did an admirable job (24 carries for 65 yards and a TD) against a tough Houston defense. He can be started going forward as long as Rice is out. Another guy who should be targeted in a trade just like Pierre Garcon for the Redskins is Torrey Smith. Still with no TD’s, he had five catches for 92 yards including a beautiful 48 yard rainbow thrown by Flacco in the second half. Smith is a guy who I would target in a trade right now before he blows up with a 150 yard, two TD performance.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Dwyane Bowe with one catch. Donnie Avery with seven. Bowe had four yards. Avery 141. Going forward, do not expect this to be the norm. The Eagles couldn’t for the life of them defend those shallow crosses which is basically the only route Avery ran all game. Bowe will get more involved against a Giants secondary that is one of the worst in the league at defending the pass. I’d start Bowe this week, and as for Avery, he’s a nice fill in for a guy who’s on a bye. I rhymed there. Our own Jon Jeffries would be proud.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – LeSean McCoy had quite a day and is a top three running back going forward but five turnovers cost the Eagles this one Thursday against the Chiefs. Even though he failed to perform well in this one, there will be better days ahead for Michael Vick starting this week against a Champ Bailey-less Denver secondary. Peyton Manning is going to light up the Eagles, so I expect Vick to do the same even if it is in garbage time. Jason Avant is a guy who I have in my queue to pickup this week come off of a five catch, 87 yard performance. In a game that sees the Vegas over/under at 58, you can expect a boatload of points for both teams, both in real life and in fantasy. Avant is another nice fill in at flex or even as a third wide receiver in Denver.
Till next time,