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Week 3 Fantasy Headlines:
GAME SUMMARIES & FANTASY COMMENTARY:
Thursday Night Game:
New York Giants 36 (2-1) | Carolina Panthers 7 (1-2)
Fantasy Focus – Giants: New York’s bad outing in Week 1 versus the Dallas Cowboys looks flukier as time passes. The biggest story here was the surprising play of backup Andre Brown (career-high 20-113-2 rushing and 3-17-0 receiving), who made his first NFL start in place of Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), shredding a very soft Carolina Panthers run defense. Victor Cruz (6-42-0 on eight targets) owners were a grouchy bunch after this one wrapped up, because a “perfect storm” of circumstances led to him having a quiet game. Yup, Cruz was double-teamed most of the night. Eli Manning (288-1-0) had success finding Hakeem Nicks’ (foot) fill-in, Ramses Barden (career-high 9-138-0 on 10 targets) and Martellus Bennett (6-73-1 on seven targets). The Big Blue defense harassed Cam Newton all night, notching three sacks and two picks.
What you should know: Although Brown is not a special talent, he clearly has locked up the No. 2 tailback job behind Bradshaw for right now. Rookie David Wilson (1-(-2)-0 rushing and 1-3-0 receiving) touched the ball just two total times during the blowout, which tells us that he still is in head coach Tom Coughlin’s dog house. It seems unlikely that Wilson will make a fantasy impact this year. Nicks is expected to return as a starter as early as next week, so Barden obviously is not a long-term prospect for your team.
Fantasy Focus – Panthers: Carolina just couldn’t get on track. The New York Giants defense harassed Cam Newton (242-0-3 passing and 6-6-1 rushing) all game long, and his touchdown plunge, which was the Panthers’ only score of the contest, came in the third quarter. Newton leaned heavily on Greg Olsen (season-best 7-98-0 on 14 targets) heavily for the first time this season, because he couldn’t get the ball to Steve Smith 4-86-0 on four targets) and Brandon LaFell (1-27-0 on five targets) consistently. With Jonathan Stewart (toe) out, DeAngelo Williams (11-50-0 rushing and 2-23-0 receiving) ran well, but he became a forgotten man in the offense during the second half when Carolina fell behind.
What you should know: So far this season, Newton has registered one good game and two bad ones. If you own Newton, yes, you should be concerned, but no, you obviously shouldn’t give up on him. Sure, the Panthers as a team had a letdown after their Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints, but we’re seeing a pattern: when the opposing defense shuts down the Panthers rushing attack (Week 1 and Week 3), Newton struggled to make plays in the passing game. However, that could change if he can get the ball to Olsen consistently.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Chicago Bears 23 (2-1) | St. Louis Rams 6 (1-2)
Fantasy Focus – Bears: Chicago’s defense is usually a must-start at home and deserves most of the credit for this victory. The Bears held the Rams to just six points while sacking Sam Bradford six times and picking him twice. Chicago safety Major Wright sealed the game with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Michael Bush (18-55-1 rushing and 2-18-0) also deserves a nod for playing solidly in place of Matt Forte (ankle – did not play). Bush scored the only offensive touchdown of the game on a three-yard plunge in the second quarter.
What you should know: Brandon Marshall remains the only fantasy relevant part of the Bears passing game right now. Chicago’s passing game didn’t make many mistakes, but it didn’t set the world on fire either. Jay Cutler (183-0-1 passing and 4-18-0 rushing) had a very quiet game. Brandon Marshall (5-71-0 on 11 targets) managed to compile a solid outing, but he faced heavy double teams for the second week in a row. Again, no other Chicago receiver, including rookie Alshon Jeffrey (5-45-0 on seven targets), Earl Bennett (1-11-0 on four targets) and Devin Hester (0-0-0 on two targets) did any damage against single coverage.
Fantasy Focus – Rams: Steven Jackson (groin) ran into brick walls of Chicago defenders all game long. However, Jackson (11-29-0 rushing and 2-5-0 receiving) insists his Week 2 groin injury did not bother him. The Bears also did a number on Sam Bradford (152-0-2) and the St. Louis passing game. Danny Amendola (5-66-0 on nine looks) led all Rams receivers.
What you should know: Amendola looks like the only worthwhile Rams fantasy star right now. Opposing defenses seem determined to stop Jackson at all costs, which is clearly bad news for his owners with games against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals coming up. Bradford torched the soft Washington Redskins secondary last week with a 310-3-1 line, but he clearly will struggle against the better defenses.
Buffalo Bills 24 (2-1) | Cleveland Browns 14 (0-3)
Fantasy Focus – Bills: It was obviously a costly win for Buffalo. C.J. Spiller (4-16-0 rushing and 2-42-1 receiving) left in the first quarter after suffering a separated shoulder, but he managed to find the end zone for his owners. With Fred Jackson (knee) still out, third-string tailback Tashard Choice (20-91-0 rushing and 2-9-0 receiving) picked up the slack in the rushing department. Ryan Fitzpatrick (208-3-0) carried the offense with help from Steve Johnson (7-61-1 on 11 targets), Donald Jones (5-42-0 on six targets) and rookie T.J. Graham (2-24-1 on five targets). Scott Chandler (2-22-0 on four targets) saw his streak of games with a score end. The Buffalo defense played solidly, amassing three sacks and two picks.
What you should know: Choice likely will get the start next week, but he is not a strong play versus the New England Patriots. However, if you’re a Spiller owner, you may have to roll with him. Although Fitzpatrick is expected to throw more in the absence of Spiller and Jackson, he still rates as a fantasy backup. Johnson remains the only consistent Bills receiver.
Fantasy Focus – Browns: As expected, the Cleveland offensive stars came crashing back down to earth following its surprisingly good Week 2 showing against the Cincinnati Bengals – especially rookie Trent Richardson (12-27-1 rushing and 6-24-0 receiving), rookie Brandon Weeden (237-1-2) and Greg Little (2-17-0 on four targets). Jordan Cameron (5-45-0 on seven targets) topped all wide outs and tight ends in receiving while Travis Benjamin (2-44-1 on four targets) hauled in Weeden’s lone touchdown pass.
What you should know: With consecutive road games against the tougher defenses of the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants on tap, you should park your Cleveland offensive stars on the bench until their Week 6 date with the porous defense of the Cincinnati Bengals.
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