What Did We Learn? - Week 4
Sep 24, 2013
More articles from Drew Magyar
Three weeks down. This is typically the time of year Vegas starts to figure out these NFL teams. Similarly, it's a time when fantasy owners can reflect on the first three games and make some conclusions about their rosters.
Last week, I preached that fantasy owners needed to keep their composure. It was too early to panic. Starting 0-2 was OK, assuming there were certain extenuating circumstances, like injuries, suspensions, etc. With three weeks in the books, the picture is getting a little clearer.
It’s important to note that I’m discussing fantasy potential/value, not real life football. For example, I’ll be discussing that I actually think Andrew Luck has started off with more disappointing numbers than we expected. I’d love to have him quarterbacking my real life team, but I’m looking elsewhere for fantasy purposes.
Since there’s so much to get to, let’s dive right in.
Who’s Been Better Than We Thought?
DeSean Jackson - Chip Kelly’s offense needs three guys to really go: Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy , and Jackson. But Jackson is the guy that really makes it work. His speed keeps defensive coordinators up at night, and defenses have to commit two defensive backs to him or risk getting beat deep. He’ll continue to get targets and make big plays, which means some gaudy numbers for fantasy players.
Joique Bell - Bell spelled Reggie Bush through the first two games and shouldered the load in Week 3. He’s been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners, as he runs tougher than Bush typically does. He’ll continue to have his role when Bush is healthy, and he’s already shown the ability to make plays.
Sam Bradford - Bradford’s been surprisingly good this year, as St. Louis has now stocked the cupboards for their franchise quarterback. With Jared Cook and Tavon Austin added to the fold, he’s got some reliable targets, not to mention the same playbook as the year before for the first time in his career. It’s paid dividends already, as he’s averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game.
Josh Gordon - I don’t care if it’s only been one week for Gordon. He’s really good. He displayed some playmaking ability last season, and his 10/146/1 stat line from Sunday certainly supports that. I think he can go for 1,100 yards and 6-8 scores this season, which would make him extremely valuable. If someone thinks they’re selling high on him, see what it would take to grab him.
Jordan Cameron - Cameron was a preseason fantasy darling, and he’s played well early. With Brian Hoyer at the helm on Sunday, he caught three touchdowns. Those kinds of games will be few and far between, but it’s always nice to see a young guy live up to the hype.
Who’s Been Worse?
Stevan Ridley - Ridley has been a big, steaming turd on a few of my teams this season. I was so high on him this season, given that he’d run for 1,263 yards and 12 scores last season. That kind of production in the late second or third round is insane. I do think that Rob Gronkowski ’s return will open up some running lanes, but he’s been a mess.
Lamar Miller - Miller was another guy touted in the preseason, but the difference here was that he’d never done anything before. The Dolphins coaching staff is intent on giving Daniel Thomas some touches, which has limited Miller’s value early on. Neither back has done anything to distance himself.
Roddy White - I know that White is still coming back from an injury, but this has gotten annoying. In the ultimate display of selfishness, White has suited up for each game this season in an effort to keep his record going for consecutive games started. The problem is that he has basically been a high-priced decoy. You'd prefer him to get rest and get healthy sooner.
New York Giants - What a mess?! Eli has thrown eight picks already, and this past weekend’s 119 yards passing was especially poor. David Wilson is clearly the best back the Giants have, but they obviously don’t trust him to hold on to the ball [insert Brandon Jacobs joke here]. Big problems in the Big Apple.
Chris Ivory - The Jets traded for Ivory in the offseason with the intention of making him their bell cow. The problem, as pretty much any fantasy player could have told you, is that Ivory was never, ever going to be healthy enough to carry a full load. And, true to form, he’s now expected to miss some time with a hamstring injury. Who didn’t see that coming?
Jury’s Still Out…
Trent Richardson - I was a big believer in Richardson in the preseason. Luckily, I didn’t get him in many leagues, instead having to “settle” for LeSean McCoy. Oh darn. Richardson had a tough time finding running lanes in Cleveland, but getting traded to a much better team with a much better offense and a much better quarterback in Indianapolis can only help, right? He got his first carry as a Colt from the 1-yard line and converted on Sunday, but he’s still getting familiar with the playbook and, you know, his teammates.
Andrew Luck - As I mentioned earlier, Luck is a fantastic quarterback, and he will be for the next decade. If he’s on your team, you drafted him to be your starter, and his passing numbers have been lower than expected. He only has three passing touchdowns on the year, and he’s failed to top 180 yards through the air in two games. I’m not saying he’s not good, but his old college offense from Stanford is now being used in Indy, and it won’t provide the numbers that Bruce Arians’ pass-heavy offense allowed last season.
Mike Wallace - I don’t know what to make of Wallace. It could just be that he struggles against better defenses. Joe Haden locked him down in Cleveland in Week 1, and the Falcons defense clearly made him a focal point of theirs on Sunday, limiting him to just 22 yards on two catches. I know he tore up the Colts in Week 2, but I think I’m leaning towards selling him.
Tavon Austin - Austin is really fast, and he can be a dynamic playmaker. But the Rams haven’t done enough this season to get him the ball in space. He’s gotten six catches in each game, but he has just 118 yards. I just need to see more from Austin before making a call.
DeMarco Murray - I said last week that I’d sell Murray after his first/next good game. Well, Sunday’s performance qualifies. He ran for 175 yards and a score against the Rams. I think the Cowboys will get back to their throwing ways going forward. I also don’t trust Murray to stay healthy. I own him in a league, and I’m shopping him this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw - Bradshaw played as if his job was on the line. Probably because it was. He ran for 65 yards and a score back in Week 2, and followed it up with 95 yards and another score this week. As well as Bradshaw has played recently, I don’t think the Colts trade a first round pick for a guy that will split time. I look for Richardson to cut into Bradshaw’s early down work in a big way, relegating him to third down work and relief appearances.
Bilal Powell - With Chris Ivory ’s availability now in question, Powell becomes the lead back for the Jets, and he ran very well on Sunday against the Bills, to the tune of 149 yards. The issue is that the Bills defense isn’t all that good against the run to begin with. Ultimately, I think teams load up against the run and force Geno Smith to beat them.
Santonio Holmes -
Holmes benefited from the same poor Buffalo defense, and he capitalized, catching five balls for 154 yards and a score. He caught a long touchdown pass, which is great, but I don’t think you’re comfortable counting on that every week. If someone is willing to pay for that performance, rob them blind.
Giovani Bernard - Bernard has steadily increased his workload in each game this season. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he played on 30-of-56 snaps on Sunday, after never playing on more than 40% of snaps in either of the first two games. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re an explosive young player, and the guy in front of you is old and unimpressive, it could be a sign of things to come. He might still be under the radar at this point, so you might want to try to poach him off an unsuspecting owner if you can.
Vincent Jackson - I still think Jackson is a top receiving talent in the league. His problem is the offense. He has yet to get in the end zone, despite easily being the most talented pass catcher on the team. I think the Bucs will need to go to him if they’re going to have a chance. I also think this mystery rib injury will make his owners nervous enough to deal him, but early reports indicate that it isn’t serious.
Steve Smith - Smith continues to frustrate owners, as he’s still immensely talented, but doesn’t get as many looks as he probably should. Brandon LaFell scored twice on Sunday, and Greg Olsen has established himself as a favorite target of Cam Newton . Smith was wide open for a score on the second LaFell score, and I think he’ll let Newton know about it.
Isaiah Pead - Pead is an interesting name, because he might have had a shot to open the year as the starter if he weren’t suspended for a game. Instead, Daryl Richardson has been disappointing and injured his foot early on Sunday. Pead registered 63 total yards on 15 touches. And the good thing about Pead is that he won’t cost you as much as these other guys. And his name is Pead. Pead.
Good luck in Week 4.
Drew Magyar is a FantasySharks.com staff writer and member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .