Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
After the carnage of Week 2, this seems delightfully light.
Russell Wilson – MCL
Eli Rogers – Toe
Vance McDonald – Hip
Jared Cook – Ankle
Jeremy Langford – Achilles
The Rule of Three applies to the start of every NFL season. It says that until you have at least three of something, that you cannot be certain. Once is a potential fluke, twice could be a coincidence but three times and you can rely on it. That means the Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Eagles and Vikings are all legitimate division leaders without a loss. All have exceeded expectations in one major way – they sport defenses that are not giving up many points – NFL or fantasy.
The Browns are down to their third string quarterback and just lost their star rookie wideout. How they responded to that entailed using Terrelle Pryor as the first Browns player in 39 years to record multiple passes, receptions and rushes in a single game. Pryor completed three of five passes for 35 yards, ran for 21 yards and a touchdown on four rushes and led the team with eight receptions for 144 yards. He’ll be a hot free agent this week and rightfully so. Pryor provides a unique weapon for an offense that desperately needs the help. He can carve out a role that lasts even when Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman have returned.
Changing of the Tight Ends
The position is offering fewer studs and fantasy points this year but there’s a shift that needs to be recognized and taken advantage if possible.
Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) – After missing the final five games of 2015 with torn patellar tendon, Graham’s role with the team was uncertain. But after two weeks of marginal production, he came to life against the 49ers. His nine targets turned into six catches for 100 yards and one score. After changing teams and going through rehab, Graham is motivated and finally healthy.
Kyle Rudolph (Vikings) – In just two games with Sam Bradford, Rudolph scored in each and led the team with ten targets, seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Panthers. Now that Stefon Diggs demands more attention, Rudolph is picking up the slack.
Gary Barnidge (Browns) – He shocked the fantasy world with 1043 yards and nine scores in 2015. But he had no catches in the season opener and seemed missing from the game plan. Rookie quarterbacks love their tight ends and Cody Kessler’s first start saw Barnidge with five receptions for 66 yards. Only Terrelle Pryor had more targets and catches.
Cameron Brate (Buccaneers) – The surprise release of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins last week meant that Brate became the starting tight end. He responded with five catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Rams. With the Broncos and Panthers up next, Jameis Winston will continue to rely on his tight end since those secondaries will limit what the wide receivers can do.
Zach Miller (Bears) – After a marginal showing for the first two games, Miller had a breakout game with eight catches for 78 yards and two scores versus the Cowboys. Notable too was that he was playing with Brian Hoyer at quarterback for the first time.
Hunter Henry (Chargers) – The first tight end drafted in the 2016 NFL draft only had one catch over his first two weeks. But with Antonio Gates sidelined with a hamstring strain, Henry caught all five passes for 76 yards though he lost a fumble. Should Gates remain out, Henry faces the Saints and Raiders next.
Running Backs Stepping Up
Carlos Hyde (49ers) – After opening to a two-touchdown performance in Week 1, Carlos Hyde was limited to only 52 total yards in Carolina. But on the road against the Seahawks, he resumed his productive ways with 105 total yards and two more scores. No matter that Blaine Gabbert only passed for 119 yards and no touchdowns, the Chip Kelly offense still relies heavily on the primary running back. Hyde plays at home in four of the next five games and dominates the workload.
Jordan Howard (Bears) – Jeremy Langford has only averaged 3.7 yards per carry as the starter this season and left the loss in Dallas with an Achilles injury. In his place, the rookie Jordan Howard rushed nine times for 45 yards and added 47 yards on four receptions. He’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry and is carving out an increasing role. Should Langford miss more time, Howard would be facing the Lions, Colts and Jaguars next. He’s clearly outplayed Langford in his limited action.
Christine Michael (Seahawks) – With Thomas Rawls out with a leg injury, Michael made the most out of the start by gashing the 49ers for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 20 rushes. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry and pushing the injured Rawls to the side. Even when Rawls is healthy, Michael will retain the primary job with performances like last Sunday. Currently Rawls averages just 1.3 yards per carry on his 19 runs this season.
Jeremy Hill (Bengals) – Opening to a very tough schedule, Hill scored once on his nine rushes for 31 yards in New York versus the Jets. He was held to only 22 yards on 11 runs by the stout rush defense in Pittsburgh. But his home opener against the Broncos produced 97 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. That included a 50 yard run. Hill faces the Dolphins and Cowboys next.
One Out of Many
The phrase in Latin may appear on U.S. currency but it’s no way to make money in fantasy football. Big performances are great but less so if they are just a one game phenomenon from a committee backfield. Fear the rotation.
Philadelphia Eagles – Darren Sproles comes off a six catch, 128 yard effort in the win over the Steelers and that includes a 73-yard touchdown catch and run. But the Eagles backfield is using four different backs and none of them offer any consistency. Ryan Mathews score three times over the first two games and then only ran twice for a net five yard loss last Sunday. Kenjon Barner ran for 42 yards on eight carries with one score and Wendell Smallwood turned 17 rushes into 79 yards and a touchdown as well. That’s a total of 243 yards and three scores from the backfield but none from the only scorer from the first two weeks. When the Eagles return from their Week 4 bye, they’ll face four of the next five games on the road and the lone home stand is against the Vikings.
Oakland Raiders – Latavius Murray rushed for 37 yards and a score on ten carries as the primary back in the Week 3 win over the Titans. But the rookie DeAndre Washington was the most productive with 57 yards on six carries and Jalen Richard also converted six runs into 28 yards. The Raiders are comfortable with a three-way rotation with all three taking significant chunks of the workload. Each back only had one reception and are watering down each other’s production with a growing split.
Miami Dolphins – Arian Foster was great that one week he was healthy and took 13 of the 15 carries in the season opening loss to the Seahawks. But Week 3 saw the Fins with another committee split that used four different backs. Kenyan Drake was the lead runner with just nine rushes for 37 yards; Jay Ajayi had seven carries for 28 yards and one score while Isaiah Pead turned five runs into 17 yards. Even Damien Williams had a carry. Foster is unreliable at best and the third-round rookie Drake holds the most promise. But this backfield barely has enough production for one back, let alone up to four.
The tight ends and running backs are stepping up as the season progresses. The wide receivers are still king of the fantasy points and over a dozen typically top 100 yards per week. But gaining an advantage at a lower scoring position not only still makes a difference, it is an advantage that is far easier to acquire in trades or free agency than with the more established elite wide receivers.
ARI 18, BUF 33
Should have known it was going to be a strange weekend when this happens. The Cards are not a great road team but they faced a defense that had just lost their coordinator and Carson Palmer threw four interceptions. The only players that had any fantasy value were David Johnson (111 total yards, 2 TD) and LeSean McCoy (116 total yards, 2 TD). The Bills only passed for 119 yards but that was more than what they needed with Palmer throwing all those picks. At least the Cardinals return home to face the Rams and the Bills head to New England where they will use a hot dog vendor at quarterback and still win.
MIN 22, CAR 10
It is always a few weeks to get a handle on the way the new season is going to be. And this is another one of those huge upsets that maybe won’t be viewed that way by the end of the season. The Vikings were once again nothing special on offense with 171 pass yards and just 58 rush yards. But their defense scored, sacked Cam Newton eight times and had three interceptions. The worse part about the Vikings isn’t that they win upsets or that they have a defense that likes to score, it is that no one else in the game for either team seems to do much. The Stefon Diggs Experience was limited to 40 yards on four catches this week. Now the Vikings will host the Giants and win in ways you cannot guess and the Panthers head to Atlanta.
DEN 29, CIN 17
This game was every bit the defensive struggle expected. Oh, except for that part where Trevor Siemian (312 yards, 4 TDs) led the entire NFL in fantasy points. Emmanuel Sanders (9-117, 2 TDs) and Demaryius Thomas (6-100, TD) both were nice surprises unlike C.J. Anderson (41 yards). Jeremy Hill (17-97, 2 TDs) provided almost all the offense for the Bengals. Now the Broncos head to Tampa Bay and the Bengals host the Dolphins.
DET 27, GB 34
This is how all games should be. Both sides have the right people with the fantasy points. Matt Stafford passed for 385 yards and three touchdowns while Aaron Rodgers threw for 205 yards and four scores. Marvin Jones led all NFL wideouts with a career best 205 yards on six catches with two touchdowns. Jordy Nelson (6-101, 2 TDs) and Eddie Lacy (17-103) both had nice efforts as well. The Packers offense finally looked in synch. The Lions still cannot run the ball. Now the Packers go on their bye and the Lions head to Chicago.
BAL 19, JAX 17
The biggest surprise here was that the Ravens won with just one touchdown and only Steve Smith (8-87) offered more than mediocrity. Blake Bortles passed for just 194 yards and two scores in a home game against the Ravens who are not usually nearly that good anywhere much less on the road. Chris Ivory finally played and now he and T.J. Yeldon have to split the 31 rushing yards per game. But at least Allen Robinson finally showed up with seven catches for 57 yards BUT with two touchdowns. No one expect much more from the Ravens but the Jaguars passing game is just not getting all that fourth quarter trash like last year. The Ravens host the Raiders this week and the Jaguars host the Colts. Both teams will likely waste their chance to post points.
CLE 24, MIA 30
This was nearly a big upset. Not that the Dolphins are anything special but the Browns are down to the rookie Cody Kessler who did make through an entire game without needing a stretcher. Terrelle Pryor came to life with five passes, four rushes and eight receptions that totaled 200 yards and one score. Gary Barnidge (5-66) is also finally showing up. Ryan Tannehill passed for 319 yards and three scores. Jarvis Landry (7-120, TD) and DeVante Parker (3-51, TD) did most of the damage. The Fins are now using four different running backs and none had more than nine carries. Or more than 37 yards. Now the Browns head to Washington and the Dolphins go to Cincinnati.
WAS 29, NYG 27
How can the Giants have three wideouts that good and yet Eli Manning only used them for one touchdown? Eli Manning passed for 350 yards but had two interceptions at home against the Redskins. The backfield was an even split between Shane Vereen (11-67, TD) and Orleans Darkwa (10-53, TD) so that neither had a big game. Odell Beckham (7-121) made it through a Josh Norman game with big stats and no suspensions. Kirk Cousins (296 yards, 2 TDs) mostly used DeSean Jackson (5-96, TD). Now the Giants head to Minnesota and a day of little fun while the Redskins return home to face the Browns hoping to break their home curse.
OAK 17, TEN 10
Marcus Mariota should be arrested after hosting the Raiders and only throwing for 214 yards and two interceptions. Clearly a sign of throwing a game. DeMarco Murray ran for 114 yards and was the lead receiver with 41 yards on five catches with the only Titans touchdown. Against the Raiders. Derek Carr (249 yards, TD) was another disappointment though Michael Crabtree (8-102) and Amari Cooper (4-62) combined for most of that. The Raiders gave a touchdown run to Latavius Murray (10-37, TD) but opted to spread the love with DeAndre Washington (6-57) and Jalen Richard (6-28). Better hope Murray always gets the score. Now the Raiders go to Baltimore and the Titans head to Houston.
SF 18, SEA 37
Solid and predictable game. One of the very few. Russell Wilson only passed for 243 yards and one score but that went to Doug Baldwin (8-164, TD) and Jimmy Graham (6-100, TD) who is apparently completely over his knee surgery. Christine Michael (20-106, 2 TDs) continues to defy what he was thinking for three years. The 49ers were predictably ineffective except for Carlos Hyde (21-103, 2 TDs) who surprisingly came to life. The 49ers host the Cowboys this week and the Seahawks head to New York to play the Jets.
SD 22, IND 26
Andrew Luck passed for 331 yards and one score because T.Y. Hilton (8-174, TD) went nuts and only the tight ends mattered. Philip Rivers threw for 330 yards but no scores, Tyrell Williams (6-69) and Travis Benjamin (4-82) were good but not great and encouraging was the first start for Hunter Henry (5-76) who showed there may be life after Antonio Gates after all. This was good game but only Hilton was a star. Now the Chargers host the Saints with the hopes for more points and the Colts head to Jacksonville.
NYJ 3, KC 24
This game was really little more than the Chiefs getting six interceptions and two fumble recoveries with two defensive scores. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the very rare six interceptions without getting yanked and no receiver topped 41 yards. Matt Forte totaled just 64 yards. But the Chiefs offense was little better with the lone offensive touchdown going to Travis Kelce (6-89, TD). The Chiefs just stuffed the Jets passing game and yet they continued to try to throw the ball. The Jets have to host the Seahawks this week and the Chiefs will play in Pittsburgh.
PIT 3, PHI 34
This was a shocker. The Eagles are for real – there is no debate. Carson Wentz is the heavy money favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He passed for 301 yards and two scores and still has yet to turn the ball over. Darren Sproles (6-128, TD) caught a 73-yard scoring pass but no other receivers did much. Ryan Mathews went AWOL but both Wendall Smallwood (17-79, TD) and Kenjon Barner (8-42, TD) both scored their first career touchdowns and combine for yet another committee. The Steelers could do little. DeAngelo Williams was held to just 21 rushing yards and Ben Roethlisberger only managed 257 yards and no scores. Antonio Brown (12-140) was the only Steeler with more than 50 yards. Now the Eagles get their bye to relax and freak out how good they have been. The Steelers host the Chiefs.
CHI 17, DAL 31
The Bears lost Jeremy Langford but Jordan Howard ran for 45 yards and caught four passes for 47 yards. And Brian Hoyer passed for 317 yards and two scores that both went to Zach Miller (8-78, 2 TDs) who had done nearly nothing for two games. Dak Prescott (248 yards, TD) finally threw a touchdown that was caught by Dez Bryant (3-40) and he ran in a score as well. But this was all about Ezekiel Elliott who ran for 140 yards on 30 carries but lost scores to both Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar. The Bears are still struggling and the Cowboys are at least average when at home. Now the Bears will host the Lions and the Cowboys go to San Francisco.
Huddle Player of the Week
Marvin Jones – For a player that never had more than 816 yards in a season, the move to Detroit seems to suit Jones. He already had 118 yards on eight catches last week and comes off a career-shattering six catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay. How about Marvitron? MegaJones?
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Trevor Siemian||317||4||QB||Ben Roethlisberger||264||0|
|RB||Darren Sproles||127||1||RB||C.J. Anderson||41||0|
|RB||Wendall Smallwood||79||1||RB||DeAngelo Williams||46||0|
|WR||Terrelle Pryor||165||1||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||0uch||0|
|WR||Brian Quick||53||1||WR||Stefon Diggs||40||0|
|WR||Adam Humphries||94||0||WR||Mike Wallace||39||0|
|TE||Zach Miller||78||2||TE||Rob Gronkowski||0uch||0|
|PK||Dustin Hopkins||5 FG 2 XP||PK||Nick Novak||0 FG 0 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 155||Huddle Fantasy Points = 25|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
It always takes time to recognize the true changes in the NFL and not overreact to what is really either just a softer spot in the schedule or perhaps a new scheme that takes opponents a few weeks to collect enough game film on to figure out how to stop it.
We have Carson Wentz looking like an elite veteran quarterback and yet Jared Goff never puts the clip board down. Injuries have already ravaged some fantasy rosters and we’re starting to understand exactly who is just not as good as expected.
There are always far too many low scoring games but at least eight teams topped 30 points this week, even if most were completely unexpected.
The Game-O-The-Week? The one that no one saw coming.
Rams 37, Buccaneers 32
The highest point total game had the Rams in it? Really?
This game had a suspension of play due to lightning but it ended with the Buccaneers unable to score with five plays from the Rams 15-yard line. The game ended on second down when Winston was tackled at the five-yard line. Maybe should use the timeouts next time.
Case Keenum threw for 190 yards and two scores – a very big game by Ram standards. Those went to Tavon Austin (5-82, TD) and Brian Quick (2-53, TD). Todd Gurley ran for 85 yards and two scores but that needed 27 carries.
Jameis Winston passed for a career high 405 yards and three touchdowns that benefited Mike Evans (10-132, TD), Adam Humphries (9-100) and Cameron Brate (5-46, 2 TDs). Vincent Jackson still only managed 37 yards on three catches. He recently said he was as good as ever, but not really.
Charles Sims had the start with Doug Martin out and ran for 55 yards and a score on 13 carries and added six catches for 69 yards. Like any game involving the Vikings, you have to do the research and break it all down to see how the Rams actually won.
The Rams head to Arizona this week where they’ll either score 35 points or be shut out. The Buccaneers get to host the Broncos so the 405 passing yard career record is probably safe for now.
There are still plenty of head scratching performances both by teams and individual players. But starting with this week, the NFL should become more predictable and reliable. We will finally start to know who is truly good and truly bad. We won’t have to guess anymore.
I don’t buy it either.
Now get back to work…