Heading into Fantasy drafts this year, LeSean McCoy was my top rated player. In terms of situation and talent, I felt he was the safest pick out there. Through three games, McCoy has managed 175 yards and a touchdown on 60 carries (2.92 yards-per-carry) and caught 10 passes for 64 yards. Through three games last year he rolled up 514 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. I think it’s safe to say his owners are disappointed.
Nothing has changed in terms of McCoy’s ability; he still looks plenty explosive. The offense is still churning out yardage and points. So, what’s the deal with his production? For starters, I don’t think it has anything to do with the acquisition of Darren Sproles. In Week 2, Sproles put together an incredible individual effort, but through three weeks he has 31 touches to the 70 that McCoy has received.
That leaves one reason, the offensive line. This was a Top-5 unit on paper, but has been absolutely decimated. Tackle Lane Johnson started things off by getting popped on a four game suspension for PEDs. His replacement, Allen Barbre, was placed on injured reserve after injuring his ankle in Week 1, leaving Andrew Gardner at right tackle. Left guard Evan Mathis is on the injured reserve/designated for return list with sprained MCL, meaning he is out until Week 10. Center Jason Kelce suffered an abdominal injury this week.
As you can see, this is a messy situation, one that couldn’t have been forecast prior to drafts. Things will get better for McCoy. Problem is, we just don’t know how much better. Lane Johnson’s return should help but it won’t cure all of these problems. McCoy is talented enough to have some big games and make big plays on his own. Without help, though, he won’t have much in the way of consistency. As an owner, if I got the right deal thrown my way I would seriously consider pulling the trigger right now.
Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in targets through two weeks with 14. He didn’t do much with them, though, catching seven of them for 73 yards. In Arizona’s Week 3 victory, Fitzgerald saw seven targets but didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter. Ultimately, he ended up with three grabs for 34 yards. On this day he was thoroughly outshined by Michael Floyd and John Brown. Floyd led the team in targets and made his count, catching five of his nine for 114 yards. Brown saw six targets, catching four, two of which went for touchdowns. Those who had Floyd ranked over Fitz heading into this season were correct. He looks like the better player right now. Brown has the ability to take the top off any defense and should see his ownership in Fantasy leagues climb (and rightfully so). Fitzgerald entered this season in the WR2 conversation, and through three weeks looks like a WR4.
Bernard Pierce took a seat on the pine this week against Cleveland courtesy of a thigh injury. Justin Forsett got the “start” in his place, and found his way into a good number of lineups, performing admirably by rushing for 63 yards on 11 carries and catching four passes for two yards. Fourth round rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro was expected to be mixed in as well but ended up getting 18 carries for 91 yards on the afternoon. From what I have seen out of the Baltimore rushing game so far this season, Taliaferro was superior to Pierce. He needs to be owned in all leagues after this performance. Forsett is clearly viewed as a change-of-pace option. Pierce has seniority with the team, but his very manageable contract makes him easier to replace than a high priced veteran.
The Giants offense clicked today. After two straight games of looking like one of the most inept units in the league, they only managed to turn the ball over once and racked up 419 total yards. The biggest reason behind their success was Rashad Jennings. Heading into this week, he gained 110 yards on 34 carries. In this week’s victory over Houston, he rushed for 176 yards on a whopping 34 carries. Every time I saw him he was ripping off big gainers and punishing would-be tacklers. He wasn’t targeted in the passing game this week but he has the ability to do damage there as well. Jennings also is a true workhorse for the Giants, getting 68 of the team’s 87 rushing attempts through three games. There is no doubt in my mind that if Jennings stays on the field he will finish as a Top-8 option at the position this year. I wish I had more shares of him.
At 37 years old, I think it’s safe to say Tom Brady is no longer an elite quarterback. Earlier in his career it didn’t matter what supporting cast he was surrounded with, Brady still put up numbers. So far this season, Brady has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for an average of just 5.54 yards-per-attempt. For his career, Brady has averaged a 63.4 percent completion rate and 7.44 yards per attempt. Regression should be expected with age, but Brady’s is starting to look sharp as the sample size increases. I don’t own Brady in any of my 14 leagues. His performance last year concerned me. With Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back on the field, I was curious to see if we would see a bounce-back. That curiosity is gone. Don’t keep starting him because his name is Tom Brady.
Last week, Marques Colston was completely held off the stat sheet. He didn’t even receive a single target. It was the first time in 87 games he didn’t catch a pass. Things were supposed to be better this week with the Saints playing at home against the Vikings. When the dust settled he caught two of five targets for 25 yards and a score, not exactly encouraging, although, the touchdown did salvage the afternoon. Jimmy Graham (31 targets) and rookie Brandon Cooks (24) are not only receiving more targets than the 13 Colston has received through three games, but they are both drastically out-producing him. It’s become pretty clear that the 31-year-old Colston has moved down the pecking order for the Saints. If you were counting on him as your WR3, don’t. He is no longer a weekly play. Consider him nothing more than a bye week or injury filler.
Time to double up on the Ravens this week. This time we will focus on Steve Smith Sr. He has been an absolute monster through three weeks for this squad, catching 18 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown on 32 targets. He passed the eye test when I watched him, but I wasn’t ready to commit because of the lack of early usage of Torrey Smith. Things just had to equalize here. Well, that all changed with Dennis Pitta’s right hip dislocation in their Week 3 loss to Cleveland. He will at the very least miss a significant amount of time, if not the entire season. Smith has done his damage this year mostly working short and intermediate routes and racking up yards after the catch. With Pitta, Joe Flacco’s security blanket is gone for the foreseeable future and a good number of his targets should head to Smith. Lock him in as a weekly play now and don’t think twice about it. Owen Daniels isn’t the player Pitta was, and won’t fill the same role.