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What Did We Learn – Week 3

The Tennessee Titans’ offense is one of the most run-committed offenses in the league. Chris Johnson will continue to justify his consensus No. 1 overall selection. He put up 125 yards and two scores on Sunday. Ho-hum. Nothing else all that important though. On the New York Giants side, Eli Manning put up nice yardage totals, but the interceptions will kill you, especially if your league subtracts extra points for those thrown with your quarterback’s non-throwing arm in the end zone. (Seriously, Eli?) Ahmad Bradshaw remains the Giants running back to own, and the Giants receivers should benefit from New York’s struggling defense.

Pick up Charlie Batch. Just kidding. But he actually did play very well against the Buccaneers. Mike Wallace got deep for two long touchdowns, and Hines Ward caught another. Wallace is an interesting guy to watch, but his production will most likely be feast or famine. Rashard Mendenhall looked good again, rushing 19 times for 143 yards and a score. The Steeler defense is the best in the league, both in real life and fantasy. I have them on several teams and am enjoying myself. The Buccaneers had a rough day all around, with Josh Freeman struggling. A popular pickup for this week should be LaGarrette Blount, who saw some carries, including some goal line work, and is expected to see an increased workload going forward.

Cedric Benson looked good for the Cincinnati Bengals, running for 81 yards, and scoring by land and by air. However, he averaged only three yards a carry. Early reports indicate that Bernard Scott may begin to cut into Benson’s carries more as the season continues, so plan accordingly. Carson Palmer and his talented receiving corps put up pedestrian numbers, and that’s something you can also expect to continue. For the Carolina Panthers, Jimmy Clausen debuted, and put up predictably bad numbers. You can find a silver lining in his yardage, but all the statistical evidence points to him having a terrible day. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart continue to disappoint, with Stewart no longer startable, and Williams not getting enough carries to warrant his high draft choice. Steve Smith will be double and triple teamed every week.

Cleveland
has only one thing to be at all excited about: Peyton Hillis. Hillis ran 22 times for 144 yards and a touchdown and added 36 receiving yards as well. He’ll remain the starter going forward, especially considering his stellar performance was against the Baltimore Ravens stingy defense. Seneca Wallace is just good enough to lose close games. On the Baltimore side, Joe Flacco had a good day throwing the ball, especially to Anquan Boldin. Flacco went for 262 and three scores, with Boldin catching for 142 and all three touchdowns. Ray Rice had a decent day, but injured his knee. Owners should monitor the Rice situation closely, and should have Willis McGahee for insurance.

The Cowboys finally showed up on offense. Tony Romo had a nice game, something that he should be able to maintain. The big surprise was Roy Williams, who caught five balls for 117 yards and two touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams didn’t finish the year with 300 yards and three scores, so I really think this was just one of those situations where there were so many other guys to cover that Williams slipped through the cracks. Marion Barber shouldered most of the rushing attack and red zone carries. Houston looked off. Matt Schaub looked tentative. Arian Foster was effective, but didn’t get his number called enough. Andre Johnson hurt his ankle in the third quarter, and rumor has it that he may even be given a week off in Week 4. Beware the late scratch.

The San Francisco 49ers are officially the most confusing team to forecast. Alex Smith looked like an All-Pro at times against the Saints, and looked like a scrub against the Kansas City Chiefs. Baffling. Frank Gore was stymied rushing, but caught nine balls for 102 yards to make up for it. No one else looked all that good. Matt Cassel looked like a real-life professional quarterback this week, but I’m not buying yet. Thomas Jones played well and scored, while Jamaal Charles once again out-produced him in yards, but wound up on the short end with touches. So annoying. If you’re in a deep league and looking for a tight end, check out Tony Moeaki. For some reason, Cassel looks for him, especially in the red zone.

Jahvid Best followed up his monstrous Week 2 against Philadelphia with nine touches for 39 total yards. He also now has turf toe. Hope you sold high. By the way, if he misses time, I have no idea who to pick up, but I’d guess it’s Maurice Morris. Tony Scheffler had a nice day, but I need to see it again before I buy. Brett Favre was up and down again, as were his receivers. He also keeps throwing the ball to the wrong guys, but he’s started to just hand off to Adrian Peterson a lot more. Peterson had 23 carries for 160 yards and two touchdowns, plus 30 yards receiving. He did have an 80-yard run, which skewed the numbers, but it still counts.

The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills were in a shootout. I know it sounds crazy, but it really did happen. Tom Brady threw three scores, two to Randy Moss. Rob Gronkowski scored again and should be on your watch list. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a big day, scoring and nearly rushing for 100 yards, a guy you should target on the waiver wire. The Bills named Ryan Fitzpatrick their starting quarterback and he played alright. C.J. Spiller played well, but wasn’t given much opportunity since Marshawn Lynch was getting the majority of the work. Lynch did nothing to change that, as he gashed the Patriots for more than six yards a carry. Lynch is another guy you should target, if available.

Up until yesterday, Atlanta seemed like a team that was great at home and bad on the road. But Matt Ryan looked great yesterday in New Orleans, and if he can keep it up, he can be that high end QB2 we hoped he’d be. Michael Turner played, despite leaving his Week 2 game with an injury. ‘The Dirty Birds’ didn’t seem too concerned with the injury, as he toted the rock 30 times for 114 yards and a score. Jason Snelling remained productive and needs to be owned in all formats. Tony Gonzalez showed up big, as did the very consistent Roddy White. Drew Brees put up great numbers, but two interceptions proved costly. Pierre Thomas was unable to get anything going and tweaked a knee in overtime. Lance Moore broke out in a big way with almost 150 yards receiving and two scores. Given the Saints receiving corps, I wouldn’t count on big weeks like this.

Donovan McNabb returned to earth after his 400-yard day last week. Those pesky Rams ruined his road trip to St. Louis. Clinton Portis couldn’t get started, and it was Ryan Torain, not Keiland Williams, who spelled Portis. Santana Moss was phenomenal once again, and owes Andy Reid a fruit basket or something. Sam Bradford looked alright, doing enough to get his first win. Steven Jackson broke off a 42-yard run for a score, and was off to a great start before injuring his groin. Kenneth Darby filled in admirably and is the short-term handcuff for Jackson, who may miss a week, depending on the severity of his injury.

Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid made the choice to go with Michael Vick, and you could say it worked out OK. Granted, it was the Jacksonville Jaguars swiss cheese defense, but Vick looked really good, throwing for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Vick spread it around, as DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin both made big plays time and again. LeSean McCoy couldn’t duplicate last week’s big showing, something that will frustrate owners all season long. Not much went well for the Jaguars. David Garrard was a mess. Maurice Jones-Drew was solid, but this is the first time in his career that he’s gone through the first three weeks of the season without a score. And Garrard’s not helping him.

Oakland named Bruce Gradkowski its starter, and he played well enough to keep Oakland in the game. Darren McFadden continued his fast start, eclipsing the 100-yard mark and scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season. Interestingly enough, the score was from two yards away, and if ‘Run-DMC’ is going to get goal line carries, he’s immensely valuable. Derek Anderson was terrible once again. Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells made his 2010 debut, running well and earning an expanded role going forward. Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston both managed to score to save subpar receiving days. The Cardinals’ offense scares me, and not in a good way.

San Diego Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 455 yards. That’s not a typo. He really did that, and while I wouldn’t bank on 400 every week, 300-350 is certainly reasonable. As you can imagine, his receivers benefited from Seattle’s poor defense, with Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd both having nice games. Ryan Mathews was inactive, and it was Mike Tolbert getting the bulk of the carries. Matt Hasselbeck was alright, but it was Leon Washington who stole the show, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. And Justin Forsett ran the ball 17 times for 63 yards. It seems like he’s finally made it to the top of the depth chart.

Peyton Manning was himself. He surpassed 300 yards and threw three touchdowns. Austin Collie caught 12 balls for 171 yards and two scores. The Colts’ rushing attack was a mess as Joseph Addai and Donald Brown ran a combined 20 times for 41 yards. Addai will continue to get two carries for every carry Brown gets, but neither are strong starts at the moment. For Denver, Kyle Orton apparently heard about Rivers’ passing day and decided to put up a gaudy number of his own. He passed for 476 yards, targeting Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney for more than 300 yards combined. These are performances I would not expect on a weekly basis. Knowshon Moreno missed the game, and neither Laurence Maroney nor Correll Buckhalter did anything to get excited about.

Mark Sanchez has played better for two straight weeks now, but I still don’t buy it. I feel like his numbers are good, but he set the bar so low in Week 1 that he really can’t help but amaze us now. LaDainian Tomlinson once again received the bulk of the carries and capitalized on his opportunity. Shonn Greene looks to be the early favorite for biggest bust of the year. Dustin Keller scored twice and has established himself as Sanchez’s go-to guy, especially near the end zone. Braylon Edwards played just three quarters, but caught two balls for 87 yards and a long catch-and-run score. The Miami Dolphins just don’t have enough firepower. Chad Henne played about as well as he can, and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were OK. Brandon Marshall jumps off the page with a big-time performance, which he’ll do all season long.

Aaron Rodgers had a great night, surpassing 300 yards, but only throwing one touchdown, although he did run for a score. If you were unfortunate enough to lose on the Rodgers’ halftime hail mary interception, I feel bad for you. Jermichael Finley had a nice game, despite leaving for a while with an injury. There isn’t really a Packer running back worth starting. Jay Cutler rebounded from an early interception to have a nice game, leading the Bears to a surprising win. Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen both had nice games catching the ball.

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