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New York Giants 36, Carolina 7
From a fantasy perspective, evaluating Eli’s performance is a bit moot. With the game under control from the word “go” Manning was able to take a back seat and coast to victory. Just one of those days where fantasy doesn’t meet reality.
I think the “Eli is elite” phrase has worn out its welcome (but I still slid it in there didn’t I). That was no more evident than Manning holding a 'coming out party' for Ramses Barden who received 10 targets, snagging nine balls totaling 138 yards. Last season Eli helped the previously unknown Victor Cruz achieve NFL stardom, as many are now wondering what to expect from Barden moving forward? Remember, Hakeem Nicks did not play after aggravating his foot injury, so expect Barden to be relegated back to the 3rd option when Nicks returns. But as we know Nicks is a Red Flag injury prone player meaning Barden could be stashed on your bench as a player with upside if you have the roster room, or security if you own Hakeem Nicks.
As for Cruz’s performance, the Giants clearly saw a matchup they wanted to exploit with Barden as Cruz was relegated to the role of a number two wide receiver managing a meager 42 yards. Momma said there’d be days like this.
The other breakout performance pushing fantasy teams off to a fast start Thursday was running back Andre Brown. With Ahmad Bradshaw ailing from a neck injury it was Brown, and not 1st round rookie David Wilson, carrying the load for the G-Men. All Brown did was reward fantasy owners with a 130 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Brown is a great story after being cut seven times by five different teams. Finally getting his chance Brown made the most of his opportunity. Brown’s fantasy value hinges on the recovery of Ahmad Bradshaw, but he should certainly be rostered in every league.
Tight end Martellus Bennett set a Giants record scoring a touchdown in each of his first three games as a Giant. He is a lineup lock until further notice.
Two words come to mind watching Cam Newton, sophomore slump. Those are the exact same words being echoed around fantasy circles as Newton has gotten off to a very slow start. However, the phrase sophomore slump is commonly misunderstood to mean a player performing worse than he did in his rookie season. That isn’t necessarily the case. With a full year of game tape, defensive coordinators are putting together game plans to keep the second year quarterback in the pocket, forcing him to win games with his arm. He’s impossible to sit, and should bounce back sooner rather than later. (Side note: spare me the Superman celebration when you’re down 23-7 and getting your butt kicked).
DeAngelo Williams was handed his second solo start of the year with Jonathan Stewart still suffering from foot issues. Averaging 4.5 yards per carry, D-Will performed admirably but was quickly sunk by the scoreboard as the Panthers fell behind being forced to abandon the run. This will be the case again next week facing the explosive Atlanta Falcons as it’s probably best to keep Williams on your bench.
Brandon LaFell has been everybody’s favorite sleeper over the first two weeks but never woke up in this game. In what should have been a plus matchup against a beaten Giants secondary, the Panthers failed to take advantage as LaFell managed just one reception. Instead it was tight end Greg Olsen leading the team with 14 targets resulting in 98 yards. I’m not sure if this was the Panthers game plan or a circumstance of the consistent pressure delivered by the Giants fearsome front line. We should expect this trend to continue next week against a Falcons team rostering the game’s best cornerback duo.
St. Louis 6, Chicago 23
Like so many teams that struggled on Sunday, the finger can be pointed at the poor play of the Rams offensive line. Sam Bradford was harassed all game long by the Bears front four as he was sacked six times, as he was barely able to scrape together 152 yards while tossing two picks. The Sam Bradford roller coaster continues but he should expect another down week with a tough Seattle defense coming to town next week.
After two solid games, many fantasy owners were scrambling to the waiver looking to add both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. But as the offensive line goes, so goes the rest of the team, as both wide receivers were relatively unproductive as the Rams failed to sustain drives and move the football. Amdendola is a PPR lock, but otherwise a low end WR3. Gibson is high risk/high reward mid-low WR4
After speculation of a groin injury, Steven Jackson opened the game for the Rams, but seemed to lack the same violent explosion that he has shown in the past. Jackson was also plagued by the same poor offensive line play that hindered Bradford, totaling 29 yards. Also, Jackson wasn’t alone in the backfield as Daryl Richardson rotated into the game early. S-Jax did end the game as the team’s leader in carries with 11 while playing until the clock read zero, a good sign moving through the week. The bad sign is a stiff Seattle rush defense next on the schedule rendering Jackson a higher RB3.
Coming off the worst performance in franchise history (I’m assuming) Cutler and the Bears passing game failed to make any adjustments as the game plan looked identical to last week, “force feed Brandon Marshall.” In case you don’t remember, current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice was the head coach for the Vikings with Randy Moss. While in Minnesota, Tice installed an offensive system known as the 'Randy Rule' basically meaning, “chuck it to Randy.” That looks like the same offense now used in Chicago. The Rams must have read the playbook because they did a great job of playing Marshall high/low limiting his production until late in the game. Until Cutler can learn to read through his progressions, and exploit the defense, he will remain a very low QB2 (Cutler is my backup and I will be dropping him before he gives me an ulcer).
As for Marshall himself, he isn’t helping his quarterback as the drops are still a reoccurring issue. All around, both players are tough to watch.
Filling in for the injured Matt Forte, Michael Bush also had a rough outing at 3.1 yards per carry managing just 55 yards. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Bush was able to punch in a three yard touchdown run. In the Bears' incessant nature to be an RBBC we also witnessed Kahlil Bell stealing 10 touches with nine of Bell’s 10 carries totaling two yards. Ugh. Up next for Bush is a tough matchup with the Cowboys.
We should recognize that Alshon Jeffery got five receptions on mainly underneath targets with nothing deep downfield. Jeffery is a fantasy project and should remain a WR5 until Culter’s play improves.
Buffalo 24, Cleveland 14
C.J. Spiller opened this game ripping through the damaged Browns front five. He was well on his way to leading fantasy football in scoring yet again but quickly exited the game, being carted to the locker room while holding his shoulder. After the early scare, we are now hearing postgame reports of no serious damage with an early recovery period of 1-2 weeks.
In relief of Spiller stepped Tashard Choice, who is an effective runner in his own right as seen during his limited production while with the Dallas Cowboys. Although unable to match Spiller’s electricity, Choice will likely become the Bills leading rusher until Fred Jackson and/or Spiller are able to return. Given the limited 3-down RBs in the league, Choice should be added in every league.
The Browns passing defense was ranked 3rd in fantasy points allowed per game exiting the 2011 season. With the prolonged absence of Joe Haden, the Browns are currently ranked 27th. That was evident as the Bills passing attack came alive allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw three touchdowns to three different receivers including, Stevie Johnson, C.J. Spiller and T.J. Graham.
Absent was tight end Scott Chandler, who has been a preferred red zone target leading up to this game. Without a touchdown, Chandler’s fantasy value is severely hindered as he can’t survive on yardage alone. However, an upcoming matchup with the Patriots means the Bills offense will need to take to the aerial attack as Chandler remains a low end TE1.
The Bills defense that stunted the Chiefs last week stepped up once again limiting the Browns young offense to 240 total offensive yards. In this game rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was sacked on four different occasions with tossing two interceptions. Weeden’s lone highlight was a 22-yard touchdown toss to Travis Benjamin.
Coming off an explosive week two performance, rookie running back Trent Richardson was returned to mediocrity by a vastly improved Bills defensive line. Richardson did provide fantasy owners a strong run for a six yard touchdown. A tough upcoming matchup against a stiff Ravens defense has Richardson projected to be a mid/high RB3.
In the race for who is going to lead the Browns in targets we have yet to see a frontrunner. On the season we've witnessed a rotation between Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little and Josh Gordon. Of the three, this week it was Gordon leading the Browns with six targets. Until Weeden improves, no Cleveland receiver is worth owning.
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