Welcome to this week’s edition of the “3M Report” – a weekly look back at the mayhem, magic and mishaps from around the NFL, focusing on situations and players who caught my eye or made me scratch my head in either awe or disbelief. So, let’s take a look at week number seven of the NFL season.
I’ve never witnessed a team control the line of scrimmage like the New York Jets did during Thursday night’s contest…and still lose the game. The offensive line of the Jets was creating so much daylight on each running play that even Chris Johnson looked like a serviceable fantasy option at running back. Amazingly, the Patriots maximized just enough opportunities on offense to squeak out yet another AFC East victory.
Speaking of the Patriots, I realize all NFL teams navigate pitfalls, deal with injuries and overcome adversity, but it feels like the Patriots operate in a perpetual state of flux, constantly going through some type of metamorphosis and reinventing themselves on the fly. Looking back, they’ve endured (in no particular order) Rob Gronkowski‘s injury woes, Vince Wilfork’s achilles tear, the Aaron Hernandez incarceration and ensuing circus, the departure of Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo‘s injuries in consecutive seasons and losing Stevan Ridley for the year. I’m probably missing a few other significant trouble spots, but the point being, no other team overcomes adversity quite like the Patriots. They may spend most of time acting like the neighborhood bully in the AFC East, but as soon as an opportunity affords itself, they gravitate to the role of “victim,” circling the wagons and rallying the troops – it’s a motivating formula which works extremely well for them.
Washington tight end Niles Paul may have only secured two catches for 58 yards against the Titans, but he is one solid Jordan Reed hit away from being very fantasy football relevant again.
I like to reminisce back to a time when Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron was a top option at tight end and a focal point in the passing game each week. Ahh 2013, the good old days.
The Bills came from behind to beat the Vikings in the closing seconds Sunday afternoon, however Buffalo running backs were dropping like rain with injuries. Bryce Brown (inactive yesterday) now becomes a relevant fantasy option heading into week eight against the Jets.
I always feel shortchanged whenever wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (Bears) and Julio Jones (Falcons) come up with “ho-hum” games in the same week.
The Seattle Seahawks are in a funk both offensively and defensively. Funk or not, however, the 2014 Super Bowl champs are much tougher to defend when Russell Wilson keeps the football on a few read option plays early on in a game. If I’m Pete Carroll, I call Wilson’s number a few times in the first quarter of the next game just to open things up at the line of scrimmage.
With Percy Harvin‘s departure from the Seahawks, let’s talk a bit about their rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson from a dynasty perspective. Richardson has yet to make a significant impact at the NFL level, but he possesses a few skills which could catapult his fantasy value even in Seattle’s run first offense. The first attribute which catches your attention is Richardson’s speed and I’m not just talking about deep speed. Richardson has “sudden speed” in his moves which translates into a close quarter quickness capable of negating solid defensive coverage. He also deftly disguises his breaks and often pushes the route on the defender, forcing cornerbacks to commit before they’re ready. Richardson has terrific hands and focus and manages to get solid physicality out of his wiry 180 pound frame. The Harvin trade left the door open for Richardson, here’s hoping one of my favorite rookies form the 2014 draft class can take advantage of the opportunity.
Kyle Orton does a great Alex Smith impersonation on the football field. Or maybe it’s Alex Smith imitating Orton? Hmm.
Ryan Tannehill looks much more comfortable and establishes rhythm with his footwork when he’s able to “slide” laterally in the pocket. Completing 25-of-32 passes on Sunday for 277 yards, two touchdowns and ZERO interceptions was a direct result of finding that lateral rhythm early on in Miami’s victory over the Bears.
It’s become pretty evident Jordy Nelson is a threat to score from anywhere on the field on any down and distance.
Special teams play is often overlooked, but St. Louis’ deceptive fair catch play mid-way through the second quarter and fake punt as time was running out against the Seahawks were not just game changing plays, they were literally game winning plays.
[inlinead]That awful performance by Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer against Jacksonville will certainly put some premium unleaded in the tank of the “Johnny Football” tour bus. All aboard!
Tre Mason looks more dynamic as a downhill runner than Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham combined. Late fumble aside, once he develops in pass protection at the NFL level, Mason will be tough to keep off the field in the second half of the season.
Wide receiver A.J. Green just might be this year’s offensive MVP because the Cincinnati offense is completely anemic without him.
Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford must not like home cooked meals because they both seem to struggle with accuracy and decision making in the confines of their own stadiums. Home field is supposed to provide an advantage, fellas.
There has to be something in the Michigan water supply causing a negative impact on kickers. Matt Prater was automatic while kicking for the Broncos, but now that Prater is kicking in Detroit, every attempt is an absolute crossbar clanking adventure, just like the kickers before him in Detroit this season.
Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills needs to stop messing up Brandin Cooks’ stat line by catching touchdown passes. And Sean Payton needs to realize his offense can be more than just bubble screens and dump off passes even without Jimmy Graham.
Speaking of Graham, news broke Sunday that the best tight end on the planet would play through his shoulder injury against the Lions, but only in a limited capacity thereby creating quite a quandary for Graham owners. He is so dominant in the red zone and he’s set a precedent for being effective in a reduced role, so it’s tough for owners to sit him if he suits up. That said, Sunday’s stat line filled with zeros had to be tough for Graham owners to digest if they plugged him into their line ups Sunday hoping for a few red zone targets.
Just in case you didn’t notice, Vikings running back Jerrick McKinnon finished with 103 yards on 19 carries against the stingy Buffalo run defense. There have been a few writers here at DLF (besides yours truly) championing McKinnon’s abilities…hopefully you bought McKinnon early and often.
Tennessee quarterback Charlie Whitehurst looks like he’s running on broken glass with bare feet when he scrambles.
Heading into the Dallas game, the Giants talked up Andre Williams and a potentially hefty workload for their rookie running back. A blowout would’ve made it impossible for the Giants to showcase their rookie bulldozer with limited pass catching skills, but even in a close game through three quarters, the offensive line struggled to open holes for Williams, who finished with just 51 yards on 18 carries.
When everyone is trying to zig and jump on board with the latest trend, sometimes the team who decides to zag ultimately becomes the main beneficiary. Case in point – the Dallas Cowboys. While NFL coordinators salivate over prolific aerial attacks, quick hitting west coast schemes and read options, the Cowboys have built a mean, nasty, aggressively hard-hitting offensive line which sets the tone for four quarters. Anchored by three former first round selections, the Dallas offensive line has consistently beat up on smaller defensive fronts which were built for defending the speed game. Drafting offensive linemen probably caused Dallas owner Jerry Jones a ton of indigestion, but watching his Cowboys dominate the line of scrimmage each week has to be more soothing than any amount of Pepto-Bismal his money can buy.
DeMarco Murray’s seventh straight game with at least 100 yards rushing is extremely impressive, although I can’t help but think he physically breaks down sooner rather than later.
Kansas City rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas is crazy quick and exactly the kind of mismatch weapon head coach Andy Reid loves to use to exploit defenses. Thomas’ role may not expand very much this season, but his impact in specific situations could still be substantial. Now if only we could get Reid to showcase Travis Kelce, his athletic tight end in the passing game.
The Oakland Raiders may not be winning games, but rookie quarterback Derek Carr is playing well enough to instill some hope into a once proud organization and a fan base accustomed to living off of the glory days of past decades. The ship may be turning slowly, but better days are ahead for the Oakland Raiders.
Peyton Manning…timeless precision. ….congratulations!
That wraps up this edition of the 3M Report and a look back at week number seven of the NFL season. Here’s hoping all your fantasy starters perform well and avoid those nasty injuries. Follow Leo Paciga on Twitter – @FFhoudini
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