Lessons Learned During Week 3
It’s always been my belief that in Fantasy Football championships aren’t won by the most skilled player, but a combination of skill and luck, and it may be closer to a 50-50 split than we want to admit. The draft is great and most of us feel good about our team once it’s completed. The draft will rarely win or lose your league. We all know how to draft or where to look for advice on how to construct the best team. What wins championships are the moves you make during the season, skill, and players staying as healthy as possible during that season, luck. Injuries, they destroy teams. We have already seen Robert Griffin III, Dennis Pitta, Ray Rice, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Cassel, DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Roddy White, Josh McCown, Doug Martin, Vernon Davis, Josh Gordon, Wes Welker and Carson Palmer (I’m sure I missed a couple) all either miss at least one game or about to miss game action due to injury or legal troubles. We haven’t even completed three weeks of the season yet. Health and depth will win more leagues than not.
Everyone, including myself, was expecting a huge game from RB Bobby Rainey versus the Falcons at the beginning of Week 3 last Thursday, and while 17 points in PPR leagues is nothing to sneeze at, it also came with two fumbles. This kind of outing, the entire team pretty much didn’t get the memo that they were playing Thursday, could bring a host of changes. Doug Martin will more than likely be given another chance to prove that he can be a starting running back, and Josh McCown could end up losing the starting job to Mike Glennon. Some thought the Bucs could be a surprise team in the NFC South. Well they are, surprisingly bad. News just came out that WR Vincent Jackson has a small fracture in his hand. At this point, we don’t know what this means as far as his availability to play Sunday.
As if losing RB Ryan Mathews last week for 4-6 weeks wasn’t bad enough, the Chargers were dealt another blow Sunday with the Week 3 loss of RB Danny Woodhead for the season due to an ankle injury. Donald Brown was more than likely claimed in a majority of leagues prior to Week 3, but if he’s still available then he is a must grab. Brown may now be a true three down back until Mathews returns. I wouldn’t give up hope on WR Keenan Allen yet, either. Sure it’s been tough going the first three weeks, but life should get better. Don’t sell low.
[caption id="attachment_75974" align="alignright" width="300"] <em><strong>Zac Stacy is starting to look like the top back we thought he was.</strong> Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/photosbyhuck/">Guy Harbert</a></em>[/caption]
Perhaps the injuries to Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford were the best thing to happen to St. Louis. Austin Davis looks like a pretty good option at QB; not for Fantasy leagues, not yet, but for development by the Rams. Sure, a big bulk of the damage he put up was against the Dallas defense, not exactly the 1986 Bears, but still, he can sling it. All of a sudden RB Zac Stacy looks like the top back we thought he could be. Brian Quick looks like a formidable WR, one you should be looking to claim off the waiver wire if he’s still available. This Rams offense may not be dead yet.
Will Robert Griffin III get his job back even when he returns to full health? The Skins won’t have to wrestle with that problem until at least November, and maybe not until 2015. Kirk Cousins looked all-world (at least until the final drive) in lighting up the Eagles defense in Week 3, to the tune of 427 yards and three touchdowns. At this point in time, he’s just a better fit for coach Jay Gruden’s offense then Griffin is. Everyone is all hot and heavy for TE Niles Paul right now, but remember, Jordan Reed could be back in the lineup as early as Thursday versus the Giants.
If you were surprised about RB Arian Foster missing the Week 3 game, remember that he touched the ball 59 times during the first two games and, as we all know, his body is just not built for that. Alfred Blue would seem to be the guy you would want for now, although, we do believe that Foster will return Sunday to play Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick was awful yesterday. He constantly overthrew receivers, especially Andre Johnson. Maybe now we know why Johnson so badly wanted out of Houston during the offseason; DeAndre Hopkins, however, seems to have a good rapport with him.
The Teddy Bridgewater era has begun in Minnesota. Matt Cassel broke several bones in his foot versus the Saints on Sunday, and unless the Vikings decide to go with Christian Ponder, Bridgewater is now the man. This has to be good news for WR Cordarrelle Patterson. He is their only true playmaker now that RB Adrian Peterson is on the restricted list. They need to find a way to get him the ball, and since Cassel seems to be reluctant to throw the ball into the secondary, good times may not be far behind for Patterson owners. Still though, he doesn’t run the best of routes, not even close; he is someone I wouldn’t mind trading if I was able to get a useful piece back. One weapon Bridgewater won’t have is TE Kyle Rudolph; he’s out for the next six weeks.
Are the Bengals the best team in the AFC? The defense may certainly be and the offense is pretty good also. There will always be worries about QB Andy Dalton and how well he will play during crunch time, but with Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill forming an impressive duo in the run game, and A.J. Green still one of the best receivers in the game, I’m on board with the Bengals. Now, would I start Dalton in my Fantasy league? I would over Tom Brady, Tony Romo, and Colin Kaepernick right now.
The Ravens run game is going to get really interesting over the next few weeks. Bernard Pierce missed Week 3 due to thigh injury. We knew this would increase the touches for Justin Forsett and make him a starter, but what we didn’t know was how rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro would perform. Well, he had 91 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. He may end up being the starter there before long but it could also be a three headed monster there, something no Fantasy owner wants. Tight End Dennis Pitta was lost for the season with a dislocated hip, the same injury that ended his 2013 season. Owen Daniels will replace him and could be an add if you were a Pitta owner or need help at the position.
I know everyone wants to throw RB Eddie Lacy over a cliff. I also know he has barely eclipsed the 100 yard rushing total in three games, but I’m still not selling low. Listen, the Packers have come up against three of the best run defenses in the game in the Seahawks, Jets, and Lions. Life will get better come this week versus the Bears. What should be more of a concern to Packers owners is the play of the offensive line. It’s not very good and it’s not only the run game that is suffering. They only scored seven points Sunday. The passing game hasn’t been able to get untracked either.
The Blake Bortles era will begin in Jacksonville, not because of an injury to QB Chad Henne, but due to ineffective play. Will Bortles cure what ails Jacksonville? No, but at least he can inject some energy into the offense. I’m about ready to call it a day on RB Toby Gerhart. I wasn’t all that high on him to begin with and he has done little to noting to change my opinion of him.
Trading OL Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay just before the season started may end up being the undoing of the Patriots this season. That offensive line can’t pass protect. QB Tom Brady has little to no time to throw and is taking more hits now than at any other time in his career. The Pats may have to continue to run the ball with Stevan Ridley to keep defenses honest and allow the play action pass to work. I’m very concerned right now if Brady is my number one quarterback.
No one really knows when QB Carson Palmer will return. He’s dealing with a nerve issues in his neck that is sapping the strength out of his arm and hand. The Cardinals seem to be as much in the dark about this injury as the rest of us are. Until his return, Drew Stanton will remain at the helm, and while he doesn’t always look pretty, he is 2-0. Last week in his first start, he had trouble finding WR Michael Floyd but had no such issues yesterday, as Floyd led the team in receptions (5) and targets (9). The reports of his demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
Much like Eddie Lacy owners, Montee Ball owners can’t be very happy either. It was thought that Ball would pretty much pick up right where Knowshon Moreno left off last season and be a must start back. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but once again, I would remain patient. Teams are still going to have to play the pass over the run and it should be only a matter of time until Ball takes advantage of this. After watching yesterday’s game, there should be enough footballs to go around for both Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker to make Fantasy owners happy.
The Dolphins are making noise that QB Ryan Tannehill could be replaced my Matt Moore. This is probably more of just a wakeup call rather than a true option, but another game or two of poor play could force coach Joe Philbin’s hand. Running back Lamar Miller looked good, however, as he surpassed 100 yards rushing, but TE Charles Clay is still hobbled by an ankle injury and it may be about time to start to look for a replacement.
That was 264 yards rushing the Steelers had in Week 3, against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell is the real deal and looks great. After his marijuana arrest, Bell’s ADP fell into the third round; that is certainly looking like a gift from God right now.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz