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A Fantasy Look Back at Week 3 in the NFL

I've read it; I totally relate

I've read it; I totally relate

I should have known better than to say a few days ago that I would write about the NFL action each Sunday. An NFL Sunday to me is not just another day. It’s an exercise in stamina, thanks to fantasy football.

Every Sunday in the fall, if you ever want to find me, I’ll be at Smooth’s Sports Bar in downtown Long Beach, Calif. From my usual table, I can see 10 big-screen, high-def, plasma TVs within a 180-degree turn of my head. It’s a lovely scene, but it’s also hazardous to my health. I play in only one league a year, but that one league is the most important thing in my life every Sunday, and that turns the day into something much like a six-hour sugar rush. I spend all day swiveling my head, trying to keep up. In the moment, it’s exciting and nerve-racking. When it’s over, the crash arrives and I feel like Muhammad Ali after the “Thrilla in Manila.”

So on Sunday night, I was pretty tired — and pretty upset considering that I was facing Peyton Manning and lost my matchup by less than two points — but here is what I observed in the middle of my weariness.

Minnesota 27, San Francisco 24: OH MY GOD! BRETT FAVRE IS A MIRACLE MAN! SWEET JESUS! Truth is, through 56 minutes of this game, Favre was pretty bad. Before the 3:30 mark of the fourth quarter, Favre had thrown for an unimpressive 192 yards, one score and one interception on just 15-of-33 passing. He threw high, low and behind receivers. The fact remains that he is not a quality NFL fantasy QB. Statistically, I bet this will be his best effort of the season. Once again, I will admit that I was totally wrong on my prediction.

Much like the Bengals against Denver in week one, San Francisco should have won this game. It’s not just about the Favre prayer, but Frank Gore only had one carry in this game, which resulted in an ankle injury. Rookie Glen Coffee took over and rushed 25 times for just 53 yards. With Gore in there, there is no doubt that the Niners would have won. They were the better team. And how about 95 yards and two scores from Vernon Davis? Maybe he’s finally reaching his potential? For at least a week or two, I’m buying.

Injury update: Gore has a right ankle and foot strain. Early word is that he will miss the next three weeks and could return after a week six bye. Get Glen Coffee now! He didn’t do much against the Vikings, but most running backs are just as fortunate. He has a pretty nice schedule coming up.

Baltimore 34, Cleveland contracted 3: Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. That’s all you need to know about Cleveland. As long as they are a part of this team, the Browns aren’t going anywhere. I have already given up on Quinn as a successful quarterback in this league. Granted, he doesn’t have much around him, but he is just so conservative with the ball, he just looks scared. Derek Anderson, on the other hand, just chucks it up with no regard. The defense provides so resistance up front and is too slow at the back. They can’t run the ball, they can’t pass the ball — well, to their own team anyway — they can’t stop the run or the pass. And this week’s starting quarterback COULD BE YOU, IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT! Just forget about all Browns until further notice.

Who transplanted new legs on to Willis McGahee? Ray Rice had more touches, but this was the hardest I’ve seen Willis run since his early days with the Bills. I just can’t believe it. He is not going to score 27 touchdowns, which is what he’s on pace for, so you might want to sell high. But only an injury will keep him out of the game around the goal line. He’s been effective to an astounding extent.

Detroit 19, Washington 14: Got to start here with congrats to Detroit, but isn’t it kind of sad for Washington that many people saw this one coming? The Redskins spent all that money on Albert Haynesworth and it hasn’t added anything to its defense. It’s a very non-aggressive unit and now to add a comedic injury to insult, Haynesworth has a pain in his ass. If you own Clinton Portis, sell now. He wasn’t “ripping around” out on the field like soon-to-be-fired head coach Jim Zorn thought he would be on Friday. He is battling bone spurs on both ankles and you should get what you can. That will be a year-long injury.

Kevin Smith ran well against the Lions, but he left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and is now “week-to-week”, according to sources. Quarterback Matthew Stafford played well enough, but this was about more than some players. It was pretty cool to see Detroit finally win. Players cried. Fans cried. It was quite the scene. Here’s to a one-game winning streak.

Injury update: The Lions are being pretty mum on Smith’s shoulder injury. He is considered to be week-to-week. He delivered a great line (as he usually does) on Monday when asked about his shoulder: “I’m alive.”

Jacksonville 31, Houston 24: Maybe the Texans didn’t deserve to win, but this game should have definitely gone to at least overtime. On first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Matt Schaub threw what would have been his fourth touchdown pass, but it was brought back because wide receiver Kevin Walter was whistled for offensive pass interference on a questionable pick play. One play later, Chris Brown — not Steve Slaton — carried the ball from the one and fumbled. Nice. Slaton ran well for the first time this season, but he only had 12 carries. He’s still a guy I would try to buy low. The Texans were clearly over-thinking themselves by bringing Brown into the game in that situation.

Maurice Jones-Drew is just, wow. This team isn’t going far, but MJD is the best running back in fantasy behind Adrian Peterson right now. I think the season will end like that, too.

New England 26, Atlanta 10: I guess you can write this off as a bad week for the Falcons, but I had a lot of high hopes. With those weapons, Matt Ryan should have had a very nice day. Blame it on the weather (I almost said vodka), blame it on Belichick. All the deep routes were taken away. But there are still some fantasy worries for this team. Roddy White isn’t being used as a down-field threat anymore. Ryan found him early for a few catches, but it was all short stuff. Michael Turner isn’t running like someone who was drafted at No. 2 overall. I am more worried about him than White.

So Fred Taylor runs well this Sunday, but what’s to say that won’t change next week against the Ravens? I am still not trusting any Patriots running back until I see some consistency for a few weeks. Tom Brady had his best game in terms of stepping into throws. He looked a lot less tentative. Randy Moss can be lazy all he wants if he can put up 10 for 116 each week.

Green Bay 36, St. Louis 17: The Rams lost at home by 19, but at least they were able to vacate the title of worst team in the NFL for now. They looked rather decent. Steven Jackson ran well, Kyle Boller threw for a couple of scores in place of an injured Marc Bulger. This game was competitive until a couple of late Packers touchdowns. They may still lose 14 games, but the Rams showed some fight.

Greg Jennings had 103 yards, but only on two catches, which worries me when you consider that he didn’t have a catch last week. He also aggravated his wrist injury from week one. But he’s usually a very good primetime player, so I expect a very good game out of him on Monday night. On the opposite side, Donald Driver has gone from nothing but a No. 3 fantasy WR to a must-start for now.

Injury update: As seems to be a theme of the Rams’ season, even the smallest positive is quickly erased by some horrible news — the team’s leading receiver, Laurent Robinson, is out for the season with a fractured fibula. Maybe this means that Donnie Avery gets another chance to be the productive WR that many expected him to be in the preseason. He will probably be receiving passes this week from Boller, as Bulger is very questionable to play against the 49ers due to a bruised rotator cuff.

New York Giants 24, Tampa Bay 0: There isn’t much to say here. Giants, good. Bucs, putrid. The Giants’ Steve Smith is turning into a great player before our eyes. Good to see Brandon Jacobs get into the end zone, even though Ahmad Bradshaw ran better.

Byron Leftwich was not good Sunday, but he probably deserve to lose his job. In what many thought would be a revenge game, Derrick Ward started his day with a seven-yard run and then went on to gain minus-5 yards on four carries. The offensive line was atrocious, the receivers didn’t help Leftwich out, but the team apparently wants to get to the future now. The true future is Josh Freeman, but he is not quite ready. Josh Johnson is just keeping the seat warm.

Denver 23, Oakland 3: OK, so which is the worst team in the NFL right now: Cleveland, Tampa Bay or Oakland? At least the Raiders have some decent running backs. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush looked OK, but it’s tough to run when you are trailing by 20 in the fourth quarter. JaMarcus Russell, what can be said? He is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL by far and it doesn’t look like it is getting any better. He said that both of his interceptions should have been brought back due to pass interference, but the fact remains that they were both horrid throws. Yet, no demotion seems to be coming.

Correll Buckhalter got more yards, but it was encouraging to see Knowshon Moreno get more carries and score his first NFL touchdown. He may be finally healthy now, but he still won’t live up to preseason expectations in that time share. Brandon Marshall got a short touchdown. All that does is up his trade value. If you have him, start working the phones and convince your opponents that he’s back. With Kyle Orton at QB and a receiver rotation in effect, I assure you that he is not. Get something for that name value.

New York Jets 24, Tennessee 17: I never thought that the Titans would start 0-3. But once again, their defense was out … defensed? … by another team. The Jets are still the best team in the AFC. Chris Johnson had a pretty good day, considering the matchup. And it looks like you should keep Vince Young on your radar.

Mark Sanchez in for real. He may only be a fantasy backup, but if you ever need a bye-week fill-in (and starting this week, you will), he is going to be good for 10-15 fantasy points every week. Neither Thomas Jones or Leon Washington ran well, but it was a tough matchup. I still like Washington more in the long run. The touches are basically 50-50.

Philadelphia 34, Kansas City 14: Guess it’s time to believe in Kevin Kolb. He looked great while tearing up UCF while at Houston in college and he hasn’t stopped the big numbers. He’s the first player in NFL history to put up 300-yard games in his first two career starts. Too bad he’ll be out of a starting job in about two weeks. But knowing McNabb, Kolb will be back into a starting job in about four weeks. Rumor has it that Brian Westrbook and rookie LeSean McCoy will split carries for the rest of the season. That will help Westbrook probably stay healthy (or healthier), but obviously detract from his overall value. If you need a tight end, please see if Brent Celek is available. That’s two consecutive eight-catch, 104-yard games from him, but he added a touchdown against Kansas City.

It wasn’t a horrible outing for the Chiefs (no interceptions, yay!). Matt Cassel is at least looking like a competent starter. But Larry Johnson should just retire. He is soooooooooooooo done.

Injury update: The Chiefs were without their top receiver, Dwayne Bowe, due to a hamstring injury and it doesn’t sound like he will be back for week four against the Giants, according to head coach Todd Haley: “Anytime you’re talking about a hamstring, especially with a skill position, you’ve got to err on the side of caution because those things can end up being a long-term thing if you’re not careful.”

New Orleans 27, Buffalo 7: Chalk it up as a down game for Drew Brees, no worries. But you should also give credit to the Bills’ defense, which has been underrated this season and is a good play this week at Miami. Brees didn’t need to throw much considering that the running game gained 214 yards on 32 carries. Pierre Thomas looks to be completely back. Say goodnight to Lynell Hamilton and Mike Bell.

Trent Edwards put just a little too much muscle on a couple of deep balls to Terrell Owens, but TO also didn’t really help his quarterback out much. The effort was lacking and then Owens did his best Rasheed Wallace impersonation in the post-game press conference. Fred Jackson looked pretty good again, but it seems that with Marshawn Lynch back from suspension, this is going to be a backfield in which the carries are split right down the middle. Blech!!

Chicago 25, Seattle 19: Matt Forte was limited on the ground again — 21 carries for 66 yards. I heard someone say on TV yesterday that the Seahawks’ game plan was to stop Forte and have Cutler try to beat them. Well, for one, that’s preposterous. Were the Seahawks more afraid of what Shaun Hill could do to them instead of Frank Gore last week? That makes no sense. And secondly, Cutler certainly did beat them. I am not giving up on Forte. He is getting plenty of touches and is catching passes again. He’ll be fine in the long run … which is what he needs.

On the other side, Julius Jones looked OK, but I suspect that many teams will run against the Bears successfully this season without Urlacher in the middle. Nate Burleson had a big game, but I am not trusting any Seattle receiver for as long as Seneca Wallace is at QB.

Cincinnati 23, Pittsburgh 20: I didn’t see much of this game, which is unfortunate because it turned out to be a beauty. I did see Cedric Benson not running well early, but he made up for a rather average day with a 23-yard touchdown run. I guess I have no choice but to be bullish on him. He is clearly the best running back in Cincy and you probably can’t sell high on him if you wanted to because many people still see him as first-round bust Cedric Benson. Through three weeks this year, his numbers say otherwise.

Santonio Holmes dropped a few passes and is apparently battling a wrist injury, so watch out there. I am not sure what to make of Willie Parker. After one week, he was going to be losing carries. Now he’s putting up 140 yards and a touchdown against a pretty good Bengals defense. He’s still nothing more than a flex play right now. Speaking of first-round busts, Rashard Mendenhall didn’t touch the ball.

San Diego 23, Miami 13: Boy, it is going to be an ugly season in Miami. It wasn’t going to be great to begin with and it may not be as bad as 2007, but now that Chad Pennington is out, there is absolutely no threat in that passing game (read: Chad Henne). Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are still serviceable players, but I hope they like facing eight- and nine-man boxes.

The Chargers won, but they could only get one sack and one interception against Pennington and Henne. Feel free to drop this defense. There are a lot of big names and a lot of talent on this roster, but they just aren’t creating enough pressure around the quarterback. Vincent Jackson continued to be a stud, but it was very surprising to see Darren Sproles not run anywhere. He also has to get more than two receptions. With LaDainian Tomlinson out, the Chargers HAVE TO get the ball into Sproles’ hands at least 25 times a game. He may not be big and that much work may make him in an injury risk, but isn’t every player in the NFL an injury risk? This team frustrates me.

Injury update: Chad Pennington said Sunday that he was preparing for the worst news on his injured right shoulder. At least he wasn’t let down on Monday. Pennington will miss the rest of the season with a torn capsule in his throwing shoulder, although he is expected to seek a second opinion. This will be the third major surgery on his throwing shoulder, meaning the San Diego game could have very well been the final game of Pennington’s NFL career. The Dolphins traded a late draft pick for Tyler Thigpen on Tuesday. He will play the role of second string to Henne, but after watching him in Kansas City last season, he is a pretty damn good backup.

Indianapolis 31, Arizona 10: Speaking of frustration and underwhelming performers, I move on to Cardinals. The Cardinals have a very talented and athletic secondary. And if you game plan for the Colts, you know that you want to try to make Joseph Addai beat you and keep everything in front of you. So why the hell was this defense biting so hard on play-action fakes and getting into one-on-one coverages on the outside??? Again, I lost by less than two points because of Peyton Manning, so the anger hasn’t exactly settled yet. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got absolutely lit up in that game on multiple plays. Just pathetic. On a calmer note, Donald Brown continues to look pretty good, but Addai was a little better this week. Still, I think Brown will be starting soon enough.

I was worried about the Cardinals’ offense in the preseason and those worries haven’t been quelled at all. Kurt Warner does not look like the same quarterback, plain and simple. His surgically repaired hip will be a concern all season and it is having a negative effect on players such as Larry Fitzgerald. And that running game is just non-existent right now. If that defense doesn’t start living up to its ability, the defending NFC champs will certainly miss the playoffs.

Dallas 21, Carolina 7: It’s a real shame for Felix Jones. He finally got a start, looked like his explosive self, but still had to leave the game early with an injury. He has yet to carry the ball more than 10 times in any game in his NFL career. Third-string running back Tashard Choice scored a touchdown, and should have had two if the coaches had just called the smart play instead attempting fade passes on second and third down from the 1-yard line. He looks like a strong play next week with Jones’ and Marion Barber’s status uncertain.

The Panthers also had some bad offensive play-calling in this game. They abandoned their strong running game too early and didn’t spend enough time on the field. I’m still fine with DeAngelo Williams, but Steve Smith is someone who I am looking to trade right away. His value is down from the start of the season, but so what? He’s not going to get much done with Jake Delhomme at quarterback.

Injury update: Cowboys players believe that Felix Jones will miss the next two weeks with a knee strain. Marion Barber may be back this week against Denver, but this is just another reason to go get Tashard Choice.

Whew, OK. This was probably WAY too long, but I’ll try to cut it down next week. I’ll still be exhausted after next Sunday, but I’ll try to find a way to get something like this posted before Tuesday. Start planning for week four!

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  1. dyslecix
    September 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Steve Smith, Matt Forte, Kurt Warner are three massive fantasy letdowns…and I’m lucky enough to have all three. Nothing like being 0-3 to start the year.

    Great post.

  2. spokes310
    September 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    That’s a bad break, man. I’m pretty worried about Smith and Warner (and that whole Cardinals offense, in general), but try to keep the faith with Forte. I think he’ll be fine. But I would try to see what you can get for the other two.

    Keep plugging away. It’s only week four. And thanks for reading!

  3. September 30, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Dude, you forgot about Mike Sims-Walker ripping it up again for Jax.

    Watch your back, Brandon Marshall.

    Also, this is where I start the official petition to get Marshall to sign with Jacksonville and for Detroit to trade Smith there for MJD, straight up.

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