2014 Fantasy Football: Week 3 — The Good, The Mediocre, The Ugly
QB’s: The Good
Kirk Cousins: 30-48-427-3-1 INT (3 rushes-5 yards)… In his first start in relief of RG3, Cousins carved up the Eagles defense for an astounding 427 yards through the air. His rapport with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson was exceptional and he’s proven to be deadly when targeting receivers downfield. He sports a 105.8 passer rating which is fourth best in the NFL and he looks to be a QB1 from here on out. Cousins will square off against the Giants on Thursday night.
Andrew Luck: 31-39-370-4 (3 rushes-15 yards)… The former No. 1 overall pick took advantage of the turnstile defense of the Jaguars to record one of Week 3’s best efforts. Luck owns a 9:3 TD-to-INT ratio and is a matchup-proof QB1 thanks to his running prowess. He shouldn’t have much trouble putting up a good game against the Titans in Week 4.
Nick Foles: 27-41-325-3 (4 rushes-12 yards)…. Foles is the only quarterback in the NFL to have thrown for 300+ yards over the first three games and is certainly living up to his lofty draft status so far. The 49ers are on deck and while the going won’t be as easy, fire up Foles with confidence. This is an offensive unit that runs a ton of plays and Foles has an assortment of dangerous weapons at his disposal.
Russell Wilson: 24-34-258-2-1 INT (9 rushes-40 yards, 1 rec-17 yards)… In a rematch of the Super Bowl from last year, Wilson did it all as you can see by his box score. Outside of the one interception, Wilson played a flawless games and continued his dominance at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks are on bye in Week 4 so owners will obviously be without the services of the Super Bowl champion.
Matt Ryan: 21-24-286-3… The Bucs put forth their worst effort on defense and Ryan made them pay dearly for their miscues. The Ryan-Jones connection was lethal in this game and will continue to be even when Roddy White comes back. Owners should keep in mind that this great game from Ryan came in Atlanta, as most of his great games do. Upgrade him whenever he is in the Georgia Dome.
Peyton Manning: 31-49-303-2-1 INT…. Considering the opponent, this is about as good as any Manning owner could have expected coming into the game against the Seahawks. The Broncos employed a very conservative offensive plan in the early going, not wanting to duplicate their start from the Super Bowl last year, and it hurt his overall numbers. He did lead an impressive 80-yard touchdown drive with under a minute remaining and no timeouts, showing he’s still the best in the game in said situations. Manning is on bye in Week 4, hopefully owners have a backup plan.
Drew Brees: 27-35-293-2… More was expected from Brees in a matchup against the Vikings, but he was very efficient and didn’t make any big mistakes. Brees and the Saints offense as a whole is due for a breakout performance, and all signs point to that time being this week against the Cowboys laughable defense. Brees would be my top ranked QB this week.
Eli Manning: 21-28-234-2…. After a terrible Week 1 start that had many pundits questioning whether this was the beginning of the end for Eli, he’s managed to post two solid efforts in row. Gaining familiarity with the new quick-hitting offensive scheme, the younger Manning brother should be a quality QB2 against the Redskins in Week 4, who are without the services of top corner DeAngelo Hall.
Austin Davis: 30-42-327-3-2 INT…. Facing the Cowboys defense seems to be the cure for all problems this year, unless you’re Jake Locker. UDFA Austin Davis put forth a valiant effort against the ‘Boys and although it’s unlikely many had him in their lineups, congrats are in order for those who did.
Andy Dalton: 15-23-169-1 INT (1 rec-18-1)… You read that right, Dalton had a receiving touchdown but none in the air. Football is a strange sport. Dalton wasn’t asked to do much but it was still an uneven performance for fantasy owners. Dalton is on bye in Week 4, but on the bright side, A.J. Green should be much healthier come Week 5 and Marvin Jones is expected to come back as well, adding another weapon to the passing attack.
Tony Romo: 18-23-217-2-1 INT… The box score is pretty pedestrian and Romo still doesn’t look completely healthy as he recovers from offseason back surgery. The Cowboys are employing a run-heavy scheme on offense and it’s working so don’t expect Romo to be the QB1 with top-five upside we’ve come to know in the past. Until they start to throw more in general and downfield, Romo can be considered a low-end QB1.
Jay Cutler: 23-38-225-2… While he didn’t commit any turnovers, Cutler’s accuracy betrayed him at times throughout the game as he missed some easy throws to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marshall re-injuring his ankle didn’t help matters and the Jets own a stifling run defense so offense wasn’t too easy to come by. Fire him up as a high-upside QB1 against the Packers in Week 4.
Tom Brady: 24-37-234-1… Facing off against the Raiders, a team that is an annual laughingstock, Brady continued to struggle with deep passes and pocket awareness. Without a deep-field threat and a healthy Rob Gronkowski, the offense is having way more problems than one would have envisioned entering the year. Brady is no longer an auto-start if you have a better option at your disposal.
Cam Newton: 24-35-250-1… Newton got beat up the Steelers defensive front on Sunday night as he absorbed three sacks while also taking numerous other big hits. The Panthers didn’t call any zone-read plays and Newton’s ribs still seem to be a issue for him. He will undoubtedly run more as the season progresses, but without the normal amount of rushing yards and touchdowns, he may not live up to the top-five potential he has shown in years past. He faces Baltimore this week.
Josh McCown: 5-12-58-1 INT… McCown was in the midst of an abysmal outing against the Falcons before he was forced to leave the game after banging his thumb into an opponents helmet on a follow through. He’s set to miss multiple weeks with a sprained thumb and it looks like the Bears were wise to let go of McCown. Mike Glennon is next in line and is a low-end QB2.
Aaron Rodgers: 16-27-162-1… After lighting up the Jets secondary in Week 2, the same was expected of Rodgers in Week 3 against the Lions. Without any semblance of a competent run game though, the Lions defensive front had it’s way with the Packers and made the going extremely tough on the Packers offense. He should have a bounceback game against he Bears in Week 4.
Matthew Stafford: 23-34-246-2 INT… Much like Rodgers, fantasy owners were expecting a huge performance from Stafford in a good matchup against the Packers unimposing defense. As owners have come to expect though, Stafford had one of mind-numbingly bad performances that Lions fans are all too familiar with. It should be a minor blip in the radar as he gets ready to face the Jets weak secondary this weekend. On a positive note, Stafford does own a completion percentage of 62.3 percent, the second-best rate of his career.
RB’s: The Good
Knile Davis: 32-132-1… Davis proved why he is the most valuable handcuff in fantasy football with another fine showing in place of Jamaal Charles. He could have had an even bigger day if not for Joe McKnight vulturing a couple touchdowns. While Charles will likely be back Week 4, Davis is a must-own in case Charles goes down again.
DeMarco Murray: 24-100-1 (4 rec-32 yards)… The Cowboys are feeding Murray to the tune of 25 carries per game and he’s rewarding them in return. Murray is averaging 5.1 yards per tote and already has three 100+ yard games. With the general ineffectiveness of star running backs around the league, Murray would be my top-ranked running back for Week 4 against the Saints thanks to sheer volume, talent, and the mediocre defense of the opponent.
Marshawn Lynch: 26-88-1 (3-40-1)… It’s funny how Lynch and Murray were considered to be the “riskiest” out of any of the top-echelon of running backs in consideration in Round 1, yet here we are three weeks later and they have been the safest so far. Lynch is averaging a healthy 4.5 YPC and Beast Mode has registered a touchdown in 44 of his last 50 regular season games. He’s off this week, but fire him up as a top-five RB in Week 5 against the Redskins.
Giovani Bernard: 14-47-2 (1-7)… While Gio is only averaging 3.4 YPC through the first three games, his usage in the passing game is keeping him locked in as a RB1 value, although that wasn’t the case this week. Hill is more likely to get the one-yard carries at the goal-line as the season progresses, but owners will take all the cheapies they can get. The Bengals are off this week.
Rashad Jennings: 34-176-1… Jennings established a new career-high in rushing yards as the Giants rode him to victory. With Andre Williams a complete non-factor in the running game, Jennings is gobbling up all the catches and goal-line carries in the Giants backfield and his 4.2 YPC is decent enough. Jennings does face a stiff test in Week 4 against the Redskins, but volume ensures he’s a quality RB2, especially in PPR formats.
Le’Veon Bell: 21-147 (2-10)… It appears that Bell is on the verge of becoming one of the NFL’s top running backs, if he’s not considered one already. Flashing an improved physique and an assortment of open-field moves, Bell has proven to be a force to be reckoned with this year. Bell has increased his YPC from 3.5 in 2013 to a mind-boggling 5.9 YPC in 2014. He’s a true bellcow back for the Steelers and is also averaging more than four catches a game. Keep him locked and loaded as a RB1 against the pitiful Bucs defense. Bell is going to be an absolute PPR stud.
Lamar Miller: 15-108 (4-24)… Miller impressed in his audition to be the Dolphins lead back as he ripped off 7.2 YPC, so it’s actually a little disappointing he didn’t receive more carries. Look for offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to correct that next game. Miller is averaging 5.8 YPC for the season and should have a field day against the hapless Raiders in Week 4. He remains a high-end RB2.
Fred Jackson: 6-34 (8-78-1)… While Spiller is still the starter over Jackson, the Bills utilize Jackson more in situations that are very important for fantasy leagues, specifically in passing and goal-line opportunities. It would be nice to see Jackson get more touches, but his usage in the passing game is extremely encouraging nonetheless. He can be considered a weekly flex option or RB2.
Matt Forte: 13-33 (6-43)… Expectations had to be tempered for Forte coming into the Monday night game against the Jets vaunted run defense so hopefully you didn’t come away too bitter about his game. His usage in the passing game kept his value slightly afloat for PPR owners. He should have much more success against the Packers this week. Float some trade offers to Forte owners, they may be unhappy with their early pick and willing to deal him.
Bobby Rainey: 11-41 (7-64)…. Hopes were high for Rainey after he shredded the Rams on the ground in Week 2, but he had a game to forget on Thursday night. Rainey lost two fumbles and as a result of the Falcons having the game won after the first quarter, his rushing output suffered. Rainey owners can thank garbage time for saving his fantasy performance as he caught a bunch of short passes at the end. It’s more likely than not that Doug Martin overtakes Rainey for the RB job.
Steven Jackson: 14-54-1… Jackson scored his first touchdown of the season but with the Falcons scoring 56 points overall, owners were probably hoping for more production from S-Jax. He’s averaging 4.1 YPC, but only has two catches so far so he will need touchdowns to keep his value afloat as a RB3. He has a good chance to deliver a solid outing against the Vikings in Week 4.
Alfred Blue: 13-78 (1-10)… Hopefully you were able to snag Blue off the waiver wire as Arian Foster is dealing with hamstring issues once again. He averaged 6.0 YPC, although that was buoyed by a 46-yard-run, but owners aren’t complaining. Foster could miss more time and it’s conceivable that Blue could turn in RB3/Flex value. He will need a few more carries or more usage in the passing game to really be a fantasy factor.
Andre Ellington: 18-62 (3-13)…. Ellington faced an above average run defense and his results suffered as a result. He’s still averaging 4.5 YPC with a bum foot and is also averaging three catches a game. With Jonathan Dwyer out indefinitely, Ellington will continue to soak up all the work, excluding goal-line situations. Ellington is a RB2 in PPR formats, but he’s only a flex option in standard formats due to his lack of touchdowns.
LeSean McCoy: 19-22…. No one could have foreseen this abysmal fantasy outing from the artist known as “Shady”. The Redskins completely shut him down thanks to a dominant run defense. He’s somehow only averaging 2.9 YPC. The main problem here seems to be the play of the offensive line as the Eagles are dealing with a boatload of them to key starters. Things can only get better from here on out so McCoy is a prime buy-low target.
Darren Sproles: 2-20 (3-30)… After two sensational fantasy efforts in the first two weeks, owners were at least expecting a respectable effort out of the Butter Squirrel. As you can tell by his line, he regressed, which was to be expected as the 31-year-old was just on an unsustainable pace. With this volume, Sproles will have an extremely tough time making an impact. Sell high if you haven’t already, he has another tough test versus the 49ers this weekend. Sproles is a FLEX/RB2 option in PPR formats.
Frank Gore: 6-10… The Cardinals have had Gore’s number lately and it was no different on Sunday. Facing a stiff Cardinals front seven, Gore put forth an embarrassing effort and was also vultured by Carlos Hyde at the goal-line for a touchdown. A non-factor in the passing game with only two catches so far, Gore’s value will be wholly dependent on his ability to find pay dirt. He gets an easier test against the Eagles in Week 4.
Eddie Lacy: 11-36 (1-9)… Lacy was a universal first or second round pick throughout fantasy drafts this offseason, but he has yet to live up to his lofty draft status. For starters, he has faced three great run defenses (SEA, NYJ, DET). That has been a big factor in him only averaging 3.1 YPC with zero touchdowns. On the bright side, Lacy gets to face the Bears and Vikings in his next two games and he should breakout in one or both of those games. The touchdowns are going to come in bunches too. If he still hasn’t improved after the next two weeks, it will officially be time to worry.
C.J. Spiller: 10-25 (3-37)… Spiller faceplanted in a pretty easy matchup against the Chargers defense as it was Fred Jackson who stole the show. Without much work in the passing game and not receiving any goal-line carries, Spiller is going to be a boom-or-bust fantasy option for the year. His 4.0 YPC average would be a career-low so he needs to get it going soon. Spiller squares off against the Texans in Week 4, who were just gashed for 176 yards by Rashad Jennings.
Montee Ball: 14-38 (2-6)… Not much was expected from the Wisconsin alum against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field and Ball didn’t provide much. He lost a fumble on his first carry and was once again held out of the end zone. Ball is only averaging 3.4 YPC with one touchdown to his credit. He’s going to need to find the endzone way more often to buoy his value. Ball and the Broncos are on bye this week, then he gets to face the murderer’s row of the Cardinals, Jets, and 49ers run defenses the next three weeks. If you can get a player that benefits your squad in return, I would be looking to sell my Ball shares.
Thanks for reading and be sure to comment below with any questions or remarks you may have. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy.