Welcome to week three!
As always, there’s a ton of information out there this morning. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have week three’s personalized lineup advice for you as part of the premium content package. Again, there are 100 places you can go for game day reports, so we’re doing something different on Sundays for our premium content subscribers.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. We pick one player from each team who have our eye on and describe why their weekend performance is a key one for them in relation to their dynasty value.
Tampa Bay at Dallas
For Tampa Bay, Mike Williams is a prime player to focus on this week. Vincent Jackson has been the top option in the passing attack for the Bucs so far with 20 targets on the season. Williams has salvaged his dynasty value thus far by scoring in his team’s first two games, but he has only five catches and eight total targets so far. If those numbers don’t go up and he becomes reliant on touchdowns for fantasy points, that’s not going to be great news for his dynasty value.
In Dallas, Dez Bryant looks to bounce back from a sub-par day in Seattle last week. Perhaps the first taste of home cooking can get Bryant rolling. His seven catches for 102 yards so far aren’t enough to convince dynasty owners this is the start of his breakout season.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
All eyes are again on Blaine Gabbert this week after he was ineffective and injured last week en route to just 53 passing yards. It’s almost unfair to put so much pressure on a player who realistically should only be making his second start after redshirting last season. He was simply thrown into the fire prematurely last year, but he still needs to start producing or Chad Henne is going to be starting soon.
For the Colts, the big question is if Donnie Avery is actually back. He has 12 catches for 148 yards and a score on 18 targets so far, so the signs say yes. The Colts are going to be trailing in a lot of games this season, so Avery could really recoup some of his lost value if (and it’s a BIG if) he can stay healthy. Look there, we may have actually had one right.
Buffalo at Cleveland
How can anyone but CJ Spiller be on this list for the Bills? After all, he’s on pace for over 2,300 rushing yards after two weeks. While that’s obviously not going to hold up, he’s been the most exciting player in fantasy football thus far in 2012. At this point, the Bills should bring Fred Jackson into the legendary Cleveland training room in hopes he can get a staph infection to finally give them no reason to ever take Spiller out of the lineup.
For the Browns, no player has been more up and down as Brandon Weeden. One week after posting one of the worst quarterback debuts in NFL history, Weeden bounced back with 322 yards and two touchdowns last week. Which Weeden will we see in week three?
NY Jets at Miami
Much like Weeden, Mark Sanchez has paired one stellar performance with a total clunker. Unfortunately, the poor outing from the Sanchize came last week in a 27-10 loss against Pittsburgh. It’s not time to start calling for Tim Tebow, but that won’t stop many from doing it anyway. Sanchez needs to rally this week and it would help if someone could pick up some yards on the ground. At this point, Tebow may actually be their best running back. Perhaps the fans in New York should stop calling for Sanchez to be benched and start pointing their fingers at Shonn Greene instead.
How about the early season performance of Reggie Bush? We had a web poll this week and the DLF community was split down the middle between characterizing him as a legitimate fantasy weapon or a “sell high” candidate. What we do know is that in his last six regular season games, Bush has 760 rushing yards, 17 catches, 130 receiving yards, four touchdowns and has averaged over six yards per carry. If this type of production keeps coming, Bush may finally be close to the player many hoped he’d be coming out of USC so many years ago. His performance this week will be one to watch for sure.
Kansas City at New Orleans
Jamaal Charles had just nine touches for 22 yards last week and came out of the week with a sore knee. While it’s no time to panic, he’s currently third in fantasy points among Chiefs running backs behind both Dexter McCluster and Shaun Draughn. Charles has been being eased into the offense, but it’s tough to see just what role he’s going to have this year since the Chiefs continue to get blown out every week. It’s not going to get any easier for Charles this week as the Chiefs visit New Orleans, who is just as desperate as they are for a win.
For the Saints, it’s time to put Marques Colston in the crosshairs. With New Orleans struggling to win, Colston needs to step up and help out Drew Brees. Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles are doing their part, but Colston needs to get over his foot injury quickly and start putting up some numbers. Through two games, he has just seven catches for 120 yards. He’s tied with Lance Moore for wide receiver targets, but Moore has put up nearly twice the fantasy points thus far.
Cincinnati at Washington
Andrew Hawkins had another great fantasy day statistically for the Bengals last week, though he didn’t record a catch until the fourth quarter of the game. His electrifying highlight reel touchdown grab was a thing of beauty, but he only saw three targets on the day. Owners are going to need to see him on the field and used more before fully trusting him. Regardless, he looks like a nice waiver wire gem at the moment – there’s no denying he has some real open field ability.
This is so obvious, but the start of Robert Griffin III’s career has been incredible. At this point, he’s the number one quarterback in most fantasy leagues. If he puts up another great statistical performance, the list players who you could even consider benching him for in the future is going to be a very short one already – that’s impressive for a rookie.
St. Louis at Chicago
Well, you could say Danny Amendola is back after he recorded a ridiculous 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown last week against the Redskins. To put that day into perspective, his catch total is as many as Justin Blackmon, Dez Bryant and Randy Moss have combined so far this season. What does he have in store for an encore?
For the Bears, Jay Cutler needs a bounce back performance after his brutal four interception game against Green Bay last week. After throwing his offensive line under the bus, the pressure is on for Cutler to perform at a much higher level. He’s always been an up and down player, but the highs and lows seem to be getting even more extreme. With the weapons he has at his disposal, he needs to be playing at a much more consistent level. Does that start today?
San Francisco at Minnesota
Guess who’s tied for eighth in the league in receptions after two weeks? Yep, it’s none other than Michael Crabtree who is starting to become the go-to receiver for the 49ers. While Vernon Davis is always going to steal the show to a certain extent, Crabtree is quietly putting together a nice season, catching a robust 81% of his targets thus far. He has now caught at least four passes in nine straight regular season games – that’s a nice little streak, especially in PPR leagues.
For all the talk about John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph becoming this Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez type of dual threat at tight end, Rudolph is stealing the show with eight catches for 102 yards and a score thus far. Meanwhile, Carlson hasn’t even been targeted. Rudolph was a chic pick for a top ten fantasy tight end this year and he’s starting to make those who rolled the dice on him during drafts or in league trades look pretty good.
Detroit at Tennessee
The big news for the Lions is the return of Mikel Leshoure from his two game suspension and injury from last year. Reports are Leshoure could get as many as 15 carries in the game this week. His early season performance will go a long way in determining not only his role, but that of Kevin Smith as well. The Lions are said to be evaluating veteran free agents and Jahvid Best is still on the roster, so this situation is far from settled – Leshoure could settle it if he could fulfill the potential everyone saw before the draft last year.
How can you choose anyone but Chris Johnson this week? Simply put, another sub-par performance from Johnson could get him benched in fantasy and reality. Yes, the line has done an awful job of giving him space, but there’s more to the story here. He just doesn’t look like the same player and the collective patience of everyone is really wearing thin. Is this finally the week where he breaks loose? If it’s not, it’s time to panic.
Atlanta at San Diego
After his DUI arrest following Monday’s win, Michael Turner’s value has never been lower. His task of turning around his dreadful start won’t get any easier against San Diego this week. Turner looks as if he’s running in molasses and Jacquizz Rodgers is waiting in the wings to take over a big portion of the running game if that continues. It’s amazing how fast running backs can flame out and Turner is teetering on being droppable if this continues.
Let’s cheat a bit here and mention two players. Robert Meachem has been nowhere near the player the Chargers hoped he would be in replacement of Vincent Jackson. His well chronicled chemistry problems with Philip Rivers are apparently no fluke. After two games, Meachem has just two catches for 49 yards. We also have to mention the season debut of Ryan Mathews. After being hyped up as the next big thing in fantasy leagues, Mathews lasted all of one carry in the preseason. A solid string of healthy and productive outings for Mathews would ease the minds of his owners – let’s hope that starts this afternoon.
Philadelphia at Arizona
It looks like Brent Celek is poised for a big season. After two weeks, he’s third in the league in receiving yards among all players (not just tight ends) after his monster performance last week. We highlighted him back in May to look ahead and see what kind of value he could have and it looks like he’s making good on one of our writer’s predictions, at least early on. With Jeremy Maclin banged up, Celek could have another big day in the desert.
It’s easy to pick the quarterback situation to focus on again this week, but lost in the madness of the Cardinals 2-0 start is the fact their rushing attack has produced just 148 yards on an anemic 2.8 yards per carry so far this season. Beanie Wells (21 carries for 58 yards) and Ryan Williams (22 yards on 19 carries) have each had their share of struggles, to say the least. A few more poor performances from this tandem could result in preseason wonder William Powell actually seeing the field. That could be really good or really bad for the Cardinals. If you want a super deep sleeper (like Rip Van Winkle deep), Powell could be worth a spot on your roster, just in case.
Pittsburgh at Oakland
With Rashard Mendenhall set to re-join the active roster after the upcoming bye week, this is the last chance Jonathan Dwyer is going to have to make an impression with the coaching staff in his quest to earn a permanent time share. The results from Dwyer have been mixed, but he’s been mostly disappointing – the Steelers actually have fewer rishing yards than the Cardinals do so far this season and that’s saying something.
Since we’re focusing on anemic running games, let’s go right down the line and talk about the Oakland Raiders and Darren McFadden. The Raiders have produced a total of just 68 rushing yards in their first two games. While McFadden has been able to salvage his value with his pass catching ability, this new offensive scheme has not been working for him at all. There’s really no reason a healthy McFadden should be averaging 2.1 yards per carry. Who does he think he is, Chris Johnson?
Houston at Denver
The distribution of carries between Arian Foster and Ben Tate will be watched closely this week. After getting just eight touches in week one, Tate had 16 in week two. Make no mistake, this is no true time share as Foster has an enormous 61 touches of his own through two games. However, if the Texans continue to play as well as they have, Tate is going to get enough opportunities on offense to be a viable flex player at worst and could be creeping to the cusp of being more.
The Texans have been pretty tough on quarterbacks this year and Peyton Manning is coming off a nightmare of a performance on Monday night. This could be a big game in determining just how “back” he really is. It’s amazing how fast people are jumping on and off the Manning bandwagon after just two weeks. The season is a marathon and patience needs to be exhibited with him, regardless of how he plays today. It sure is fun to watch, though.
New England at Baltimore
There’s no doubt Wes Welker is going to be squarely in the spotlight during the Sunday night game. After being inexplicably benched in favor of Julian Edelman last week, it took an injury to Aaron Hernandez for him to see the field. While we may not really know what his role is going to be until Hernandez comes back, his performance on Sunday night is going to be of great interest to dynasty owners.
Speaking of Aaron Hernandez, Dennis Pitta has been doing his best impression of him so far this year as he’s been lining up all over the field and producing dividends for the Ravens. The team seems to be content with letting Joe Flacco take them as far as he can and Pitta has been huge so far this season with 13 catches for 138 yards and a score. If he can keep up the pace, he’s going to prove to be a serious draft value in leagues that started this season.
Green Bay at Seattle
We’ve seen way too much of Aaron Rodgers over the past few seasons to get too concerned over his sub-par (for his standards) start to the season. With that being said, Seattle is a brutally tough place to play, especially on a Monday night. Rodgers is way too good to have a quarterback rating of 89.9 and to have a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3:2 through two games. This is a big game for Green Bay and you have to expect Rodgers to respond accordingly.
For the Seahawks, it’s all about Russell Wilson. After two games, Seattle seems content to have Wilson simply manage the game and avoid making the big mistake. With the high scoring Packers in town, it’s unlikely that strategy will result in a victory. If Seattle starts to trail, we’re going to see just how far Wilson has progressed in his development. He could easily be 2-0 as a starter if Seattle’s receivers could catch a ball in the end zone in week one. We know he’s a winner, but this is going to be a tall task. Is he ready for the big lights of Monday night?
Have a great Sunday!
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