To be honest, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I wasn’t worried about the Browns offense this week. Brandon Weeden has been bad all season, but Jason Campbell was absolutely brutal when taking the field in place of Jay Cutler for the Bears last season. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t really resembled a quality NFL quarterback since ’09 with the Redskins.
The Browns went to Kansas City to face a Chiefs defense that ranked first in scoring defense and ninth in total defense in terms of total yardage allowed. Campbell went on to complete 22 of 36 for 293 yards and a pair of touchdowns in what was the best performance by a Browns quarterback this season.
It was advisable to get Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron out of your lineups if you had viable alternatives this week. It’s now easy to see that Campbell will be just fine behind a solid Browns line that allowed just one sack against a Chiefs defense that led the league in sacks with 35.
There is no reason to go out and grab Campbell thinking he is the next messiah. There is plenty of reason to expect him to do a better job than Weeden with this offense, though. He is more accurate and doesn’t do an impersonation of a statue in the pocket. Gordon and Cameron owners should breathe a sigh of relief, as they both have a much rosier outlook for the remainder of the season.
It’s safe to say nothing Calvin Johnson does is a surprise. The guy is arguably the most gifted athlete in the NFL. His 14 grabs for 329 yards and a score were an absolute delight, though, as that yardage total was the second highest in league history. Over his last two games he has totaled 23 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns. The obvious question is – how is he doing this when everyone on the opposing defense knows where he is on the field? Then answer is crossing routes. Johnson’s size makes him virtually un-coverable across the middle because of his ability to shield defenders away from the ball. If he catches the ball in stride he has the ability to outrun them. That’s one scary proposition. Detroit’s willingness to run him across the middle is going to open him up on the outside as well. He is just a thing of beauty to watch and a godsend for his Fantasy owners.
The aforementioned Calvin Johnson is going to get a great deal of press due to his performance, but the Bengals Marvin Jones was no slouch, hauling in eight passes for 122 yards and four touchdowns against the Jets. Over his last three games, he has hauled in 15 passes for 250 yards and six scores. Mohamed Sanu has started each of those games, but has been outperformed and seems very likely to lose his job. Starting opposite A.J. Green is a great thing, as it guarantees single coverage. Jones has proven quite capable of beating substandard corners. Because of this he needs to be added immediately in all leagues. The touchdowns will fall off, but if he continues seeing eight targets a game he will provide serviceable WR3 numbers in favorable matchups.
Rashard Mendenhall’s toe injury kept him from suiting up in against Atlanta this week; ultimately, it should cost him his job. Andre Ellington rushed 15 times for 154 yards and a score and added two catches for another eight yards in the Cardinals victory over the Falcons. He ripped off a beautiful 80-yard touchdown run on a play in which he bounced a run outside and just blew past the entire defense. Mendenhall doesn’t have that kind of play in his arsenal, and because of that I truly believe we’ll see a change of guard in Arizona. The 4-4 Cardinals are right back in the thick of things in terms of a playoff berth, and feeding Ellington 20-plus touches a game gives this team their best chance at victory. He should be viewed as a RB2 moving forward in all 12-team leagues.
Darren McFadden had his best Fantasy output of the season, rushing for 73 yards on 24 carries while adding a pair of touchdowns. While his 3.0 yards-per-carry are nothing to write home about, he ran hard and looked explosive every time the ball touched his hands. Oakland’s line play has been improved from last season. Couple that with Terrelle Pryor’s ability to use his legs and you have running lanes popping up for McFadden, something he hasn’t seen since 2011. Prior’s continued development is going to go hand in hand with McFadden’s success this season. From what I have seen, though, I like Run DMC’s chances at putting together a nice second half of the season. Consider buying low now before he gets to face off against Philadelphia next week.
For a second straight week, Harry Douglas has been an absolute monster. A season ending foot injury to Julio Jones coupled with ankle and hamstring injuries to Roddy White have thrust him into the starting lineup, and he has responded in a big way. Over his last two games he has caught 19 passes for 270 yards and a score. Opposing defenses have chosen to focus all of their attention on Tony Gonzalez, limiting him to just five catches for 56 yards over the same time span. Common sense tells me opposing defenses are now going to start showing Douglas some respect and I think it starts next week in Carolina. Douglas has earned must-start status, but it’s time to start tempering expectations. Teams now have enough incentive to game plan against him.
There comes a point in every season when benching a proven performer becomes necessary. That time has arrived for the Saints Marques Colston. For the season, he has tallied 27 catches for 342 yards and a score. He ranks third on the team in both receiving yards and targets. His last three games have been brutal, as he has caught just six passes for 44 yards. His 40 targets on the season rank behind guys like Davone Bess, Jason Avant and Kris Durham. Colston no longer shows an ability to separate like he did earlier in his career. Because of this he just isn’t anything more than a WR4. Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and an emerging Kenny Stills are going to continue soaking up targets from Drew Brees. Colston, acting as the WR1 for this team is going to face off against their opponent’s best corner, a situation in which he can no longer provide reliable production.