Week 3 Late Games
Last night’s game, as expected, was a total snoozefest. I stopped watching at halftime and went to bed. Below are the rest of my notes from week 3.
Falcons @ Dolphins
The Dolphins continued to be one of the biggest surprises in the NFL, as they knocked off the Falcons on a last second TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill had a decent day, with 236 yards passing and 2 TDs. However, he also threw an interception and lost a fumble. Brian Hartline continues to be a solid PPR play, as he had 4 catches for 56 yards and a score. Mike Wallace was invisible for the second time in three games with only 2 catches for 22 yards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounce back next week to continue his string of uneven performances. Lamar Miller led the way with 62 yards rushing, but plodder Daniel Thomas stole another TD from him. Miller will get better, but Thomas is always lurking in the background for cheap TDs.
The Falcons were without workhorse Steven Jackson, but Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling played well as his replacements. Rodgers ran for 86 yards and Snelling ran for 53 yards. Both are decent flex plays in deeper leagues until Jackson returns. Matt Ryan had his usual steady game with 231 yards passing and two touchdowns. Most of his completions went to star Julio Jones, and this is becoming a weekly pattern. Jones has been unstoppable so far this year while Roddy White has been hobbled by injury. Speaking of White, he was used as a decoy again and finished with 2 catches for 16 yards. Tony Gonzalez had a quiet game with only 4 catches for 24 yards. I don’t think he is a top-flight TE like he was last year. This offense clearly revolves around Julio, as it should.
Colts @ 49ers
This has to be the shocker of the week, not because of the Colts winning, but by how dominant they were over the favored 49ers. The Colts dominated both sides of the ball and ran the ball at will against what was supposed to be a stout Niners run defense. Trent Richardson scored on a one yard run in his debut, but was otherwise fairly quiet. I didn’t expect him to get a full workload, so his value should increase over the next few weeks after he learns the system. Ahmad Bradshaw ran with a purpose and had 95 yards and a score. He may have another week or two left as a valuable flex option, so trade him now if you can find someone who wants Bradshaw. Andrew Luck had a very quiet day from a fantasy standpoint, but he was able to lead drive after drive to chew up the clock. He only had 164 yards passing and 0 TDs, but his bootleg run for a TD was the backbreaker in the game.
There really isn’t much to say for the SF offense in this one. Colin Kaepernick had his second poor performance in a row, as he had two more turnovers and 0 TDs. It really showed how vital Vernon Davis is to the offense because the Colts focused solely on Anquan Boldin, who was held in check for 5 catches and 67 yards. The other SF receivers were ineffective. It’s gotten so bad that former first round bust Jon Baldwin may make his SF debut against the Rams this week to try and take the pressure off of Boldin. There are whispers that the league has figured out how to defend Kaepernick, but I think this is just a blip in the radar. He still has less than a full season under his belt as a starter, so rough patches are to be expected. His value might be at an all time low right now, so he could be a buy low candidate. Frank Gore was fairly effective running the ball in the first half, but he only touched the ball three times in the second half and wasn’t happy about it. He finished with only 11 carries for 82 yards, so I would expect the Niners to lean on him more this Thursday night.
Bills @ Jets
This game went down to the wire. The Bills had a few chances to come back, but couldn’t pull it out. EJ Manuel had a decent day with 243 yards passing and a TD to TE Scott Chandler. Stevie Johnson led the way for the Bills again with 6 catches for 86 yards. He is becoming a fairly reliable WR3. The big story for the Bills was CJ Spiller leaving the game early with a thigh injury. Reports have said it is minor, but injuries have always been a concern with him. Fred Jackson picked up the slack and had 72 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving.
For the Jets, Geno Smith made some great plays and then made some poor plays, which is fairly typical of a rookie. He finished with 331 yards passing and two TDs. One of the scores went to Stephen Hill, who has all of the physical tools but needs to play with more consistency. Hopefully he can build on this performance and realize his potential. Santonio Holmes had a vintage game with 5 catches for 154 yards and a TD. He looks healthy and can now be considered a WR3 or flex option on a regular basis. RB Chris Ivory aggravated a hamstring injury and left the game. He could miss multiple weeks, so Bilal Powell is now the clear-cut starting RB. He finished the game with 149 yards rushing on 27 carries, so he can be started now in leagues until Ivory is back. I would expect him to be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week.
Jaguars @ Seahawks
The biggest mismatch of the year was exactly that. This game was never close and it was so bad that Seattle pulled most of their starters in the third quarter. Before he left, Russell Wilson finally had his breakout game, throwing for 4 TDs. Sidney Rice had two of them to go with 5 catches for 79 yards. He has been quiet so far this year, and I think this game is an aberration. Doug Baldwin caught a long TD pass on his only reception of the day and Zach Miller turned two catches into two TDs. Golden Tate actually led the Seahawks in receiving with 5 catches for 88 yards. Marshawn Lynch had a quiet game before he sat for the day, as he had 17 carries for 69 yards. Christine Michael had his first carries of his career and finished with 37 yards rushing. He may not dress most games, so don’t keep him on your fantasy radar.
The Jaguars offense was predictably awful. Chad Henne threw for 235 yards and two interceptions and is benched for week 4 in favor of the returning Blaine Gabbert. MJD had a cheap TD run and had 43 yards on 19 carries while valiantly playing on an injured ankle. Cecil Shorts was able to pad his stats in the second half because it was basically all garbage time. He finished with 8 catches for 143 yards and continued to show good chemistry with Henne. With Gabbert back, Shorts’ value decreases a bit.
Bears @ Steelers
The Steelers again showed that they aren’t a good team and will be a team on the decline. The Bears defense scored two touchdowns and kept the game out of reach for most of the night. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 2 TDs, both of which went to Antonio Brown. Brown had a career game with 9 catches for 196 yards and two scores. That won’t happen again if I had to guess. The other receiving options did nothing of note, so Brown continues to be the only fantasy asset in the passing game, at least until Heath Miller is back up to speed after major knee surgery. The Steelers running game was atrocious as usual, as Jonathan Dwyer led the way with 39 yards rushing. Luckily, Le’Veon Bell could be back this week from injury. He is the only back I would own right now, and even he is a dicey play. The Steelers offense just looks completely disjointed.
Jay Cutler had an efficient game with 159 yards passing and a TD. The TD surprisingly didn’t go to Brandon Marshall or Martellus Bennett. Instead, it went to the ‘other’ Bennett, Earl, who had a quiet game aside from that score. Marshall led the way with 5 catches for 52 yards, which is a poor game by his standards. He will be back on track shortly. Martellus had a very quiet game, as he only had 2 catches for 10 yards. Just like Marshall, this was an anomaly and he can be started every week as usual. Matt Forte had another solid game with 87 yards rushing and a score. A typical day for him so you can continue locking him in as your RB1 and not worry.
Raiders @ Broncos
I expected this game to be a blowout, and it was exactly that. The Broncos were up double digits early and never relinquished the lead. Peyton Manning put on another MVP-level performance as he threw for 374 yards and 3 TDs. He was an astonishing 32-37 on pass plays. All of his top four receiving options had great games as well. Eric Decker led the way with 8 catches for 133 yards and a score. Demaryius Thomas was right behind with 10 catches for 94 yards, and Wes Welker had his routine 7 catches for 84 yards and a TD. Julius Thomas had an “off” game compared to the other three, but he still managed 3 catches for 37 yards and a score. All four of them are every week fantasy starters going forward. Even the suspect running game was effective, as Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball each had over 60 yards rushing. Hillman even had a rushing TD to round out a good night. Starter Knowshon Moreno had only 39 yards rushing, so it appears that the three headed monster is here to stay. I can’t start any of the Broncos backs reliably.
Terrelle Pryor played fairly well and was starting to rack up garbage time stats until he left with a concussion. He threw for a long TD pass to Denarius Moore. Moore continues to tantalize owners with performances like this, but then will have like 2 catches for 20 yards next week. Other than that play, there wasn’t much to like about the Raiders offense. Darren McFadden was held to 9 yards rushing on 12 carries. Normally, this is a pathetic day, but he did punch in a goal line TD and also threw a passing TD to Marcel Reese on a trick play, so he actually ended up with a solid fantasy line. This is yet another example of where a poor real life performance can actually lead to a good fantasy night.