The March of the No-Names
This was a frustrating week for owners of some of Fantasy’s biggest studs. Aaron Rodgers finished with just 224 passing yards and only one touchdown, Arian Foster returned and carried the ball eight times for a disappointing 10 yards, and he fumbled; and Andre Johnson contributed absolutely nothing for the second week in a row. That’s just some of the more futile contributions that frustrated owners. But a funny thing happened in a bunch of games this week. Previously unheralded players stepped forward to make major contributions to their team’s victories. These players are not likely to be on anyone’s Fantasy team aside from perhaps the very deepest “Best Ball” formats. Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable performances.
Baltimore Ravens’ second-year WR Michael Campanaro (placed on IR after Thursday’s game) took an inside handoff and scampered nine yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He also contributed a couple of catches in the Ravens’ victory over the Steelers. Most analysts thought Miami Dolphins’ TE Jordan Cameron would be a favorite red zone target for Ryan Tannehill, but in Sunday’s game against the NY Jets in London, it was journeyman TE Jake Stoneburner who caught his second TD pass of the season. Cameron has zero TDs despite having a dozen receptions. After Devonta Freeman’s second consecutive three-TD performance was in the books, Atlanta Falcons’ RB Terron Ward came on and carried the ball 19 times for 72 yards and a TD. The Washington Redskins upset the Philadelphia Eagles with major contributions from RB Chris Thompson (6 carries, 53 yds. 2 rec, 24 yds.) and rookie WR Jamison Crowder (7 rec. 65 yds.). The San Diego Chargers scraped past the Cleveland Browns with help from WR Dontrelle Inman, making his first 2015 regular season catches (3 rec., 88 yds.). Inman took a short pass from Philip Rivers and ran for 68 yards down to the one yard line to set up a Chargers’ touchdown.
Many of these players are rookies but some are second or third year players. Let’s give them their due here and now, with the hope that their success may continue. None of these players are worthy of roster spots in mainstream Fantasy play, but they all belong on your watch list as potential future Fantasy contributors.
Freeman the Fantastic
Speaking of Devonta Freeman…If you had told me two weeks ago that Freeman was going to be the scoring leader after Week 4, I would have had a great deal of fun at your expense. Well, the joke’s on me now, isn’t it? Naturally, what we all want to know is whether or not he can keep this up. A look at the future says…maybe?
Let’s break down the upcoming schedule. Next week, the Falcons are at home against the Redskins, who’ve been pretty difficult against the run. So next week isn’t looking too good for Freeman. It is looking like a good week for Julio Jones, though. The next five weeks of Atlanta’s schedule after that game is about as soft against the run as it gets. After hosting Washington they play at New Orleans, at Tennessee, home against Tampa Bay, at San Francisco and then home against Indianapolis.
The latter part of the schedule features the Vikings, Buccaneers, Panthers (twice), Jaguars and Saints. The potential is certainly there for Freeman to put up one of the better RB seasons based on the opponents he’ll face. Of course, this assumes that he stays healthy, continues to be the starting running back and isn’t displaced or replaced at some point by Tevin Coleman. Of course, Coleman is sidelined with a rib injury, with no timetable announced for his return. If Freeman is able to continue this kind of dominating performance, Coleman may only be used as a change of pace back or to give him a breather every so often.
This might be the perfect time to shop Freeman around. His Fantasy value may never be higher than it is at this moment. If you can get a proven commodity in return for him in trade, it would be advisable to make the deal. As good as Freeman has been these last two weeks, he’s never really flashed this kind of talent in the pros on any kind of consistent basis. And let’s not forget that his big games came against the Texans and the Cowboys, teams that have struggled against the run this season. Future opponents will game plan for Freeman, so he isn’t likely to have it as easy, even against teams that we currently perceive as soft against the run. Of course, if you can’t fleece someone, hang onto Freeman, who just might surprise us all with a big season.
The Biggest Surprise of All
This certainly was a week full of surprises. The Dolphins looked surprisingly bad…again. The Bears found a way to win a game. Or maybe we should say that the Raiders found a way to lose. The Rams beat a Cardinals team that looked like a juggernaut entering Week 4, and the Colts almost lost to the Jaguars. But perhaps the biggest surprise has to be the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 36-21. That score sounds close, but it wasn’t anywhere near that close a game.
First of all, the time of possession in this affair was completely lopsided and backwards. The Chiefs had the ball for nearly 37 minutes, yet they didn’t score a single touchdown in the game. That’s right. Their 21 points came on seven field goals by Cairo Santos. Kansas City drove the ball into the red zone just three times in the game and came away with zero points for their efforts. All told, they amassed 461 net yards of offense. Quarterback Alex Smith, who is not known for his prolific passing numbers, had 386 passing yards in the game, more than any other quarterback in Week 4. How’s that for a surprise?
But we’re just getting started with the surprises. Andy Dalton put together another terrific game, passing for 321 yards and one TD with a 70.8 percent completion rate. Dalton is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt, which currently leads the NFL. He’s tied with Carson Palmer for the most completions (20) over 20 yards; he’s tied with Matt Ryan for most completions (5) over 40 yards, and he’s only been sacked twice this season. Overall, he has the second highest passer rating among starting quarterbacks this season at 123, second only to Aaron Rodgers.
That’s all great news, but the bad news is that this probably isn’t going to continue because things get a whole lot tougher for the Bengals from here on out. Cincinnati’s next two games are against the Seahawks and the Bills, two of the toughest defensive teams in the NFL. After a relatively easy trio of the Steelers, Browns and Texans, they draw the Cardinals and the Rams. Plus, they face the Ravens and the Broncos later on. There are some very tough matchups in there, so don’t expect The Red Rifle to look quite so good after Week 12. That makes Dalton a sell high candidate right now.