I know it seems like the NFL season just begun, but now it is about a quarter over. Unlike Fantasy Baseball, football is a sprint, not a marathon. You need to constantly check the waiver wire for players that have become valuable due to events that happened over the past week or for players that other impatient owners may have released. Here are some Fantasy Football trends and insights as we look ahead after Week 3.
Victor Cruz has stated that he expects to make his 2015 season debut this Sunday versus the Bills. Hooray, your Fantasy season is saved? Yeah, not so much. A quick look at the injury he is attempting to come back from (the knee, not the calf), and you will see that other players who have had similar injuries never quite got back to becoming as good as they once were. Now this doesn’t mean Cruz won’t, there plenty of different variables in play here, but it is a reason to be cautious about assuming Cruz will be doing a bunch of salsa dances anytime soon.
If TE Jordan Reed is still available in your league you need to give serious consideration to claiming him. He is extremely talented and Kirk Cousins likes to throw to him. The one caveat with Reed is that his history tells us that he is an injury waiting to happen, so there is some buyer beware here.
What to make of the Dallas Cowboys? They are an injury decimated bunch on both sides of the ball. Brandon Weeden’s final numbers yesterday, 22-26 for 232 yards, look impressive but it’s when you break down the numbers that you get concerned. Weeden did not complete a pass to an outside receiver and as a matter of fact, only attempted three such passes. The Falcons figured this out in the second half which allowed them to flood the middle of the field with defenders, something other defenses are sure to copy. Lance Dunbar will continue to eat up a lot of passes, but Weeden has to start finding Terrance Williams or he may be benched for Matt Cassel.
How nervous are Tevin Coleman (ribs) owners right now? Devonta Freeman tore up the Dallas run defense to the tune of 141 yards. Perhaps all Freeman needed was a chance. The Falcons may not be feeling the need to rush Coleman back.
Andrew Luck’s numbers weren’t great but in the end, and I mean the final quarter, perhaps he and the Colts offense have gotten untracked. Luck will be fine but it may be time to hop off the Andre Johnson bandwagon if you haven’t already done so. Donte Moncrief is receiving more snaps that Johnson is right now, and also making better use of those snaps. Frank Gore had a revival yesterday with two touchdowns but Johnson continues to look old and slow.
Is Derek Carr
ready to make the leap into being a Fantasy starter? Possibly. It’s amazing how much better a quarterback can be when he has reliable weapons. Amari Cooper is becoming a true threat at WR and Letavius Murray is better than an average running back. I’m not saying I would start Carr over the likes of Matt Ryan or Drew Brees (not yet anyway) but he is right there in the mix with Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, Phillip Rivers and such.
What is more concerning to Fantasy owners? That Jeremy Hill only had 12 carries for 21 yards or that Justin Forsett had 13 yards on 10 carries? Forsett continues what has been an extremely disappointing season. He has yet to score a touchdown, rushing or receiving, and only has 12 receptions on the season. Hill was rolling along nicely until fumbling a couple of times last week and now he has been out touched by Giovani Bernard in back to back games. I’m keeping Hill, I don’t have much doubt that he will return to justify his draft position but Forsett worries me. The problem is you would be selling low now and perhaps he was just a one year wonder last season.
LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis both had big Fantasy days Sunday but how many times will this be possible? I still don’t want to play the Bill Belichick guessing game, oh, and New England is on bye this week.
As of this writing Drew Brees is no better than 50/50 to play Sunday night versus the Cowboys. The more important fact to note may be that even if Brees does play, he may have trouble getting the ball down the field. Brees has admitted that he lacks arm strength right now and if he can’t throw the ball with any kind of zip 20-plus yards deep, then defenses will creep closer and closer to the line of scrimmage. This would mean more players in the box to stop Mark Ingram and it would also mean fewer deep passes to Brandin Cooks.
Why did the Jets not put Chris Ivory on the inactive list if they didn’t plan on using him in the game? You were probably advised not to start Ivory anyway. At best he would be in some kind of time share with Bilal Powell and the Eagles for all of their problems still play the run well. Those wondering whether the Jets were just waiting for one bad game from Ryan Fitzpatrick to put Geno Smith back in, forget it, it’s still Fitzpatrick’s job, for now.
The Eagles may have won Sunday, but they are still a mess. Sam Bradford still has accuracy problems and Nelson Agholor still isn’t a part of the offense. The good news is that signing Ryan Mathews (after signing DeMarco Murray) paid off as he rushed for over 100 yards, something Murray only wishes for at this point. It should be interesting to see how the Eagles break down the touches between these two next week, assuming Murray has recovered from his hamstring injury.
Alfred Blue rushed for 139 and a touchdown Sunday. Well it’s about time, but it looks like Arian Foster could return as soon as this Sunday. Blue may not have even been in quite a few starting lineups as he hadn’t done much so far this season and there were rumors that Chris Polk could get a shot at the starting job. Well, none of this matters if Foster comes back this week, and yes, if Foster plays, he goes into my starting lineup.
Sure the Vikings won yesterday but where is the big leap Teddy Bridgewater was supposed to make this season? He has all of his weapons. Adrian Peterson looks great. Mike Wallace gives him a deep threat. Kyle Rudolph is someone to catch passes over the middle, yet still the offense seems to flutter, and what has happened to Charles Johnson? Perhaps this offense is once again Peterson and a whole bunch of hope. That’s good for Peterson owners, but not for anyone else.
Well the squeaky wheel did get the grease Sunday as Jimmy Graham had seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. See, the Chicago Bears defense can cure just about anything. I was surprised the Hawks played Marshawn Lynch at all. It wasn’t like they were going to need him to beat up on Chicago. Lynch did injure his hamstring but it apparently is not severe, no reason to panic yet.
Colin Kaepernick is a mess. That was four picks he threw yesterday (was surprised he wasn’t benched) and 67 yards for the game. Even Carlos Hyde called him out after the game. I’m not rallying for Blaine Gabbert here, but what has happened to Kaepernick?
Andre Ellington could return next week from his knee injury which will make life even more complicated in the Arizona backfield. Chris Johnson has been the main ball carrier in his absence with David Johnson being used in a virtual utility role. Who will lose touches because of Ellington’s return? Probably both, not that the run game is all that important right now with Carson Palmer looking like an MVP candidate.
What do we make of WR Rishard Matthews? That’s back-to-back games with over 100 yards receiving. The Dolphins defense is woefully underperforming and the running game has been non-existent. This will continue to lead the Dolphins to have to throw the ball more than expected. Should Matthews be grabbed if he is still on your waiver wire? Yes, but keep in mind the Dolphins are still slowly working in rookie WR DeVante Parker, someone they believe will be the real deal. Once the team thinks he is ready for the starting job, it may be his to lose.
The Bills beat up on Miami with a RB in LeSean McCoy who is obviously still hurt and admits that he might have to sit out a game or two in order to get healthy, and a WR in Sammy Watkins who missed half the game with calf strain. I’m convinced, Tyrod Taylor is the real deal.
Should you claim Michael Vick now that Ben Roethlisberger is out at least 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury? This would depend on several factors. Do you have a current backup QB on your roster? How many backup QBs are there currently on the waiver wire? Vick is a name but not a very productive one over the past few seasons. If you have an Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Carr, or Taylor as a backup, I wouldn’t worry much about Vick, but if your backup is a Ryan Fitzpatrick or Teddy Bridgewater, I might put in a pretty strong bid to grab him. I’m not expecting big things, however. Really, what has he done in the past few years?
Well we finally were able to see Todd Gurley yesterday but six rushes for nine yards was hardly what we were hoping for. Will there be better days ahead? Of course, but let’s not forget that the Rams offensive line is as bad as their defensive line is good.
The Broncos may have won on Sunday night football and Peyton Manning looked solid, but that running game still can’t get out of its own way and that may not change anytime soon.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.