From the poor planning department, in my plan to start the 2015 Sunday Six Packs by going through the offensive skill positions, I neglected to realize I had left tight ends for Week Four (Rob Gronkowski’s bye week). Therefore, out of respect to the only Tier 1 tight end and by exercising my unilateral control over this column, I’m punting tight ends to Week 5. Thanks in advance for understanding.
- Under the Bridgewater
It’s hard to believe that there’s nobody out there. Outside of Adrian Peterson, that’s got to be how it feels for second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Through three weeks, Mike Wallace is the PPR WR53 with just 12 receptions for 150 yards on 14 targets and no touchdowns, Jarius Wright is the PPR WR79 and has only seen ten targets and preseason breakout candidate Charles Johnson is the PPR WR95 with six receptions for 95 yards on only eight targets and no scores. Kyle Rudolph is the best of the bunch and he’s just the PPR TE16.
Clearly, the Vikings want to run, play defense and make Bridgewater a game manager. While that game plan is all well and good, in Week 4 they travel to Denver, possibly without top cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Bridgewater is going to have break out of his shell, but it will be hard with the Broncos’ pass rush and their trio of excellent corners blanketing the Vikings’ underperforming receivers. It’s going to be a long day for Minnesota. On the other side of the ball, Minnesota’s defense is ranked just 24th against the run, but that is mostly a result of the Week 1 game where they forgot to show up for. The Vikings actually limited the Lions in Week 2 so much that Matthew Stafford was their leading rusher. It could be another long day CJ Anderson owners.
- Colin Kaepernick Gives It Away
Blessed with a bucket of lucky mobility. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a ghastly 9/19 for 67 yards and four INTs, two of which were returned for touchdowns in Week 3. He has the second lowest total of passing yards of any quarterback who has started all three weeks so far (to the above-mentioned Bridgewater). If it wasn’t for his running ability (seven carries for 46 yards and a rushing touchdown), he would have put a negative on the board for his owners. What’s becoming apparent is that the 49ers’ Week 1 performance against the Vikings was an aberration and none of the 49ers offensive skill position players can be trusted on a weekly basis. There were reports the 49ers simplified the playbook for Kaepernick and then additional reports stating the Cardinals figured out what plays the 49ers were running. It looks like this season will be an unmitigated disaster in San Francisco. The 49ers are also ranked 27th in passing defense, which is an ominous sign going into a game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was a ho-hum 24/35 for 333 yards, five touchdowns and zero INTs on Monday Night Football last week. Randall Cobb is an elite WR1 in the absence of Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy should be good to as an RB1, James Jones is a good WR2 as long as Davante Adams is out with an ankle injury and Richard Rodgers and Ty Montgomery are decent enough fliers for those dealing with bye weeks or injuries. Sorry Jeff Janis.
- Knock Luck Down
If you see me getting mighty, if you see me getting high, knock me down. I’m not bigger than Aaron Rodgers. Before the season, it seems like a fait accompli that Andrew Luck was going to be the QB1. I may have mentioned this before, but offensive lines matter in the NFL. Luck is leading the league in INTs with seven and currently sits as the QB13 through three weeks. With TY Hilton struggling with injuries and Andre Johnson struggling with being old, Donte Moncrief has stepped up his game and is currently the WR18, but it hasn’t been enough. Luck has been running for his life and making bad decisions in the process (hello Darrelle Revis covering rookie receiver Phillip Dorsett). At least he gets the Jaguars at home this week. The Jags are ranked 25th in passing defense, giving up an average of 282.7 passing yards per game. They only have one interception on defense all year and are only averaging 2.0 sacks per game. Hopefully, the Colts line can give Luck a little time this week. On the other side of the ball, Indianapolis is ranked 21st against the pass, so I’m trotting Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns out there this week. Despite being largely irrelevant in the shellacking at the hands of the Patriots, I still think TJ Yeldon will get enough volume to be startable.
- Kirk Cousins is Good (in a Parallel Universe)
It’s getting harder and harder to tell what came first. How many people watched the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants and thought even Robert Griffin III isn’t this bad? At the very least, every Jordan Reed owner was cursing Kirk Cousins who badly underthrew a sure touchdown to a wide open Reed. Cousins has consistently shown he is not an NFL starter and is simply overmatched. He’ll continue to be a drag on Reed, pulling him down from potential the non-Gronkowski-elite TE1 level to a mid-range TE1. Pierre Garcon is seeing plenty of targets in the absence of DeSean Jackson (12 last week against the G-Men), so you should probably keep starting him, too. Which Eagles team will show this week – the one that looked awful in Weeks 1 and 2, or the one that showed up and gave a good Jets defense all they could handle in Week 3? Whichever team it is, it’s hard to trust any of their running backs with DeMarco Murray looking like he’s ready to return and the only pass catcher who you can really start is Jordan Matthews. Darren Sproles looks fine to start if you are semi-desperate, but his role is going to be inconsistent from week-to-week, especially if your league doesn’t award special teams touchdowns.
- Andy Dalton and His Friends
Like freaks of a feather, we rock together. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is currently the QB3 through three weeks. Largely behind the strength of his 10 receptions for 227 yards and three touchdowns last week, AJ Green is the PPR WR8. While Jeremy Hill has struggled with fumbles, Giovani Bernard has made a comeback and is currently the PPR RB13. After missing most of last year, Marvin Jones has finally gotten back into game shape and is the PPR WR24 over the last two weeks. Tyler Eifert has cooled off since his hot start, but even his Week 3 goose egg is the result of a replay-reversed touchdown and a long catch called back on a holding call. Dalton has a significant number of weapons and is playing well. There’s no reason to believe it won’t continue in a home game against a Chiefs defense that got roasted by the Packers last week in a non-prime time game. All of the aforementioned players are startable. On the Chiefs side, Travis Kelce finally received double-digit targets last week. It’s frustrating he’s not a lock for that number every week, but he continues to have elite TE1 upside. Jeremy Maclin’s 11 targets in garbage time saved his day, but his decoy role prior to that was disconcerting. I think you keep playing him as a low-end WR2 with upside, though.
- By the Clay
Standing in line to see the show tonight. The Giants are last in the league in passing defense, giving up a staggering 335.7 yards per game through the air. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten hit them for eight receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. Falcons tight end and Peyton Manning-castaway Jacob Tamme got loose for four receptions and 77 yards in Week 2. Redskins tight end Jordan Reed had six catches for 96 yards and that could have been even better if Kirk Cousins was any good. Now the red-hot Bills passing offense and Charles Clay, the PPR TE9, get their shot at the Giants defense, who are feeling the effects of their lack of talent up the middle of their defense. It should be a big day for Clay. With Sammy Watkins looking to miss the game, Robert Woods could reclaim some relevance. The Giants are actually second in the league in rushing defense, but that may say more about how easy it is to pass on them. I’d still fire up impressive rookie Karlos Williams with confidence. The only Giant I’d feel comfortable starting, on the other hand, is Odell Beckham, Jr. Don’t fall into the Rueben Randle trap – he’s unreliable and not very good.