Here are the top six storylines from Week 3.
Drum roll, please…
6. SOME STUDS WERE DUDS
What do Hakeem Nicks (3-25-0), Philip Rivers (266-0-2), Steve Smith (Car) (2-15-0), Frank Gore (17-42-0 with no catches), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (9-16-0 with no catches), Michael Turner (11-20-0 with no catches), Deion Branch (0-0-0), Rashard Mendenhall (18-37-0) and Santonio Holmes (1-19-0) all have in common? They torpedoed quite a few fantasy teams. Tom Brady throws for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and Branch posts a goose egg. I still can’t get over that one.
5. NEW ORLEANS RALLIES TO UPEND HOUSTON
After facing the Kerry Collins-led Indianapolis Colts and a Miami Dolphins team that had a letdown following an emotional Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans defense clashed with a real offense – the New Orleans Saints. The result – Houston’s revamped defense needs some more revamping following a 40-33 loss in which the Texans allowed 23 fourth-quarter points. The Houston offense, however, was fine, as expected, with Ben Tate (19-82-0 and 1-8-0) filling in for Arian Foster in the short term. I was not big on Tate when the Texans drafted him, but the second-year pro is far more explosive than I had originally thought.
4. THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS CHOKE AGAIN
And Minnesota fans can’t blame it on now-former head coach Brad Childress. Two weeks ago, the Vikings flubbed a 17-0 lead and lost 24-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Week 3, the Vikings choked away a 20-10 cushion and lost 23-20 to the upstart Detroit Lions in overtime. On the bright side, Donovan McNabb showed a fantasy pulse, throwing for 201-1-0, which was his best outing in a Vikings uniform.
3. THE DREAM TEAM OFFENSE LOOKED NIGHTMARISH
The Philadelphia Eagles were coming off an intense, emotional Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and they played like it. How else could they lose 29-16 to the sputtering New York Giants? Neither Michael Vick (broken non-throwing hand) nor Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) was able to play until the end of their team’s surprising 29-16 drubbing at the hands of Big Blue. What happened to the all-star Asante Samuel-led secondary? Eli Manning tossed four touchdown passes! Come on! Eagles fans, I don’t mean to pile on, but the offensive line blocking still needs work, and the linebacker play was terrible. How do you give up a 40-yard touchdown pass to the “speedy” Brandon Jacobs?
By the way, Vick is considered questionable to play in Week 4, and I suspect Maclin will miss at least two weeks – possibly longer. I know many of you are tired of Vick news, but he was a second- or even first-round selection in a huge number of fantasy drafts.
2. MR. CJ2K, WHERE ARE YOU?
Although the Tennessee Titans prevailed over the Denver Broncos 17-14, Chris Johnson gave his owners yet another putrid outing. He managed just 21 rushing yards on 13 uninspired carries along with 4-54-0 as a receiver against a soft Denver Broncos defense that he should have shredded easily. With three games in the can, Johnson currently ranks outside the top 25 fantasy running backs in both rushing yards and total yards. His play has been inconsistent, and CJ often fails to finish his runs strong. In addition, some observers say Johnson looks disinterested. However, he should bust out at some point…I think. If you can manage it without gutting your team, buy low on him.
1. THE BUFFALO BILLS FANTASY STARS ARE THE REAL DEAL
First I want to give the Buffalo Bills credit for tripping the New England Patriots 34-31, because it’s the first time Buffalo has defeated Tom Brady and company in the last 15 tries. Aside from Stevie Johnson (8-94-1), there was some skepticism about the Bills’ fantasy stars – Ryan Fitzpatrick (369-2-2), Fred Jackson (12-74-1 and 5-87-0) and David Nelson (6-84-0) – and understandably so. In Week 1, Buffalo had defeated a train wreck of a Kansas City Chiefs team and slipped past a decent Oakland Raiders squad in Week 2. However, a triumph over the Patriots brings instant credibility. Fitzpatrick, Jackson and Nelson are not sell high fantasy players – if you own them, keep them! I also want to give a nod to a Buffalo defense that picked Brady four times, which is the same number of interceptions that he threw during the entire 2010 season.