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The Weekly Barometer - Week 3

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Are running backs falling into a state of complete and total irrelevance? It’s been discussed for years how much of a passing league the NFL has become, but through two weeks the air attack has taken on whole new levels of ludicrousness. Last season there were 184 total 100-yard individual receiving performances across the whole league. So far this year there have been 38, putting us on pace for 304. As for running backs, last year there were 116 100-yard rushing performances. The nine so far this year puts us on pace for a paltry 72.

To be fair, we’re looking at a relatively small sample size of only one eighth of a season. Regression will inevitably occur, and if every statistic from the first two weeks was to be extrapolated to a full 16, Eli Manning would finish this season with 56 interceptions, Peyton Manning  would have 72 touchdowns, and Eddie Royal  would smash the receiving TD record with 40. Obviously none of those things are going to happen. Still, even accounting for future regression to the mean, the difference between last year and this year so far is absolutely staggering. I’m not saying that the running back position is on the brink of being as inconsequential as kickers, but I will say this: Remember that guy you made fun of for not drafting a running back until round five? He’s 2-0 because he used his first four picks on Aaron Rodgers , Brandon Marshall , Jimmy Graham , and Victor Cruz , and he’s looking really smart right now.

But let’s get to this week’s barometer. First, let’s take a look at how I did with the outlier performances from last week and what you should do with those guys going forward.

Calls that made me look like a genius: I recommended benching Colin Kaepernick  (5 points), but his next six matchups are all considerably more enticing. Start him with confidence. I regarded Eric Decker  (8-97-0) as a solid flex play and he will continue to be one in the weeks to come. I strongly advocated starting Mike Wallace  (9-115-1) and advised you to continue to do so for the next two weeks against Atlanta and New Orleans. I told you to bench Anquan Boldin  (1-7-0) against the best secondary in the league, but I like him as a flex play going forward. Jerome Simpson  (2-49-0) validated my claim that his week one breakout was nothing to get excited about. Finally, I labeled Jordan Cameron  (9-95-0) and Julius Thomas  (6-47-1) as confident starts. These kids are legit. Keep them active.

Calls that made me look like an idiot: I said to start Stevan Ridley  (4 points) with confidence. I was right that he would get a decent workload (16 carries), but he failed to do much with the opportunity. I could not have been more wrong about David Wilson  (1 point) when I said to start him with confidence, but at least it’s encouraging that he got through seven touches without fumbling. He isn’t startable at the moment, and you won’t get anything for him in a trade, so stash him on your bench and hope for the best.

Telling you to start Roddy White  (3-21-0) with confidence was a bad call, but last week’s article was before increasingly dire news about his ankle and the man himself tweeting that you shouldn’t start him. By Sunday I actually ended up benching him in my money league. Keep him on benches until the news becomes more positive. Finally, Jared Cook  (1-10-0) had a miserable performance just a few short days after I declared him the No. 2 tight end in all of fantasy. Thanks, buddy. Statistical inconsistency is the hallmark of any player whose value is so dependent on red zone looks. He’s hard to trust, but I would keep rolling with him because it’s hard to find someone with more week-to-week upside.

And now onto the players from week two who either did way more or way less than expected. Let’s look at what happened, try to make sense of it, and come up with a verdict for what you should do with these guys.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady  (Week 2 vs. New York Jets: 185 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT)

The Patriots manage to eke out a wins, but Tom Brady has failed to crack the top-20 in fantasy points at the position in either contest. I’m not about to argue that Tom Brady  has fallen all the way to backup status, but it’s time to admit that he is not the no-brainer every-week start we’re used to him being. If you have a second-tier high-volume passer with a juicy matchup, don’t be afraid to give him the nod over Brady. It’s not his fault that he’s 36 and has absolutely nobody to throw to, but facts are facts. Next week he’s hosting an underrated Buccaneers pass D that held Drew Brees to 12 points.

Bench

Philip Rivers  (Week 2 at Philadelphia: 419 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT)

Don’t look now, but Rivers now has seven touchdowns and over 600 yards through two games. Injuries seem to have no effect on San Diego’s passing offense, Rivers looks considerably healthier than he did last year, and the new coaching regime has revitalized their quarterback. If you have a quarterback that you aren’t terribly confident in this week (*cough* Brady), Rivers isn’t a bad choice visiting a Titans team that allowed 298 yards and three TDs to Matt Schaub. I’m still anticipating a late season decline in arm strength and overall performance, so if you don’t need a solid week three plug and play QB, don’t hesitate to test the trade market.

Sell High

Eli Manning (Week 2 vs. Denver: 362 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT)

Yeesh. What in the world was that? Cooper or Olivia might have done better under center. The 812 total passing yards on the season show that even when he’s wildly inaccurate, Eli will put up big yardage with the potential to go off for multiple touchdowns any given week, but the violent swing from 28 points in week one to 10 points in week two remind you of how impossible he is to trust as a regular fantasy starter. If you looked at last year’s stats and saw that he was 12th in passing yardage and tied for 9th in touchdowns you’d think it wasn’t so bad, but those totals mask a five-week stretch where he only passed for two touchdowns. Furthermore, 70% of his touchdowns came in five games. If you’re crushed in the projections or desperate at QB and Eli has a plus matchup he’s worth a gamble, but that’s the extent of his potential value.

Take Anything You Can Get



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