There are winners and losers every week in the NFL, and the same goes for those playing fantasy football. Let’s take a look at who was a winner and deserves a pat on the back, and who was a loser and will not be getting a Christmas card from your family this year.
Winners (by James Morris)
Andy Dalton – QB Bengals: Dalton is an underrated QB by many, but the tandem of Dalton-Green is going to be a dangerous one for years to come. This week he was able to toss the pigskin for 328 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, good enough for 27.72 points in the Dolphins NFL.com fantasy league.
Andrew Luck – QB Colts: I told you the rookie was one to watch this weekend against a weak Jaguars defense, and he didn’t disappoint.
Jamaal Charles – RB Chiefs: Charles finally got his steam engine chugging along as he ran for 233 yards on the ground and a TD. He also added 6 catches for 55 yards and scored a nasty 40.08 points in NFL.com PPR scoring formats.
Andre Brown – RB Giants: Brown took over for injured starter Ahmad Bradshaw, and may have just stolen his job in the process. The 3-year journeyman RB finished with a robust 113 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Bradshaw is going to push it to get back for week 4 after this performance, so we will have to take a wait-and-see approach with how the carries shake out in New York.
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB Jaguars: MJD went off on the Colts defense to the tune of 177 rushing yards and a TD. The yards and TD carried him to 27.30 points in NFL.com PPR leagues.
A.J. Green – WR Bengals: Green started the game out by hauling in a 73-yard TD pass on the Bengals first drive. He finished with 9 receptions for 183 yards, and racked up 30.80 points for NFL.com fantasy leaguers.
Calvin Johnson – WR Lions: And the rich get richer as Megatron hauled in 10 passes for 164 yards and a TD. I would consider playing Johnson in his bye week because I still think the man can get you points playing Madden NFL 2013 at home!
Kyle Rudolph – TE Vikings: I told people about Rudolph all the way back in the pre-season, and the kid is showing why I was right. He is a redzone threat and finished with 2 TDs on 5 catches for 36 yards. He is owned in just 17.2 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues.
Chicago Bears defense: The Bears defense was my start ‘em defense because the Rams offense is just a train wreck. They ended up allowing just 6 points, while amassing 6 sacks, 2 INTs, and a defensive TD.
Losers (by James Morris)
Tony Romo – QB Cowboys: Romo is one of the most criticized starting QBs in the NFL for his performance under pressure. That view probably isn’t going to change much after yesterday’s game where he threw for 283 yards, no TDs, an INT, and lost 2 fumbles. For a QB projected to get 29.38 in our Dolphins fantasy league on NFL.com, his real-time 6.32 points was a major letdown.
Michael Vick – QB Eagles: I’ll admit that I was wrong here! I thought Vick was headed in the right direction with the offense, but if by right I mean completely wrong, then I was right. Vick managed to finish with 217 empty passing yards and 28 rushing yards in a blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Chris Johnson – RB Titans: CJ2K is owned in virtually every fantasy league out there, but the Titans have yet to figure out a way to get blocking for him so he can get his little engine started. The good news is that Johnson managed to up his seasonal YPC up from 1.1 YPC to a robust 1.4 YPC after his 14 carries for 24 yards on Sunday. Hey, any improvement is still improvement… right?
Frank Gore – RB 49ers: The 49ers have been called one of the best teams in the NFL over the first two weeks, if not THE best. I have argued against getting too excited about them because the offense is too conservative to keep up the pace they were on. On Sunday the Vikings put them in check and held Frank Gore to just 63 yards on the ground, and forced a fumble. Gore was projecting out with 16.60 points according to NFL.com “experts” (#19 on their RB projections), and finished with just 6.20 points (#37 for all RBs).
DeSean Jackson – WR Eagles: As I said earlier, the Eagles team as a whole looked pretty horrendous on against the Cardinals, and Jackson was far from the bright spot in their cloudy day. He finished with just 3 catches for 43 yards and no endzone visits.
Vincent Jackson – WR Buccaneers: V-Jax jure wasn’t worth playing on Sunday as the Cowboys did a great job at shutting him down until the end of the game. That means there are 77.4 percent of NFL.com fantasy football right now wishing they had started player X over Jackson because all he did was bring on a single pass for 29 empty yards. That equals 3.90 points in our PPR league versus a projected total of 20.40 points.
Coby Fleener – TE Colts: Fleener isn’t someone I typically think of when I talk about fantasy TEs, but did you know he is owned in 39.6 percent of NFL.com leagues? Well, almost 40 percent of people playing fantasy football on NFL.com were disappointed on Sunday as Fleener failed to register a single catch against the Jaguars porous defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers defense: The Oakland Raiders offense is not an offense to take lightly, but I doubt anyone expected them to hang 34 points on the scoreboard and hand the Steelers a loss on Sunday. To make it worse, all the Steelers defense could muster for fantasy stats were a single sack and INT.
Week 4 Waiver Wire Additions (by Jon Cope)
Mikel Leshoure, RB Detroit (owned in 71.6% of NFL.com leagues)- Leshoure is the must-add of the week. The Lions have been searching for a lead back since the beginning of training camp, and when Leshoure got his opportunity on Sunday he came through in a big way; rushing for 100 yards and a score while adding 4 receptions for 34 yards. Leshoure has earned the lion share of the carries in Detroit moving forward (pun intended), and won’t have to worry about seeing too many 8-man fronts with Detroit’s prolific passing game.
Ryan Williams, RB Arizona (owned in 48.7% of NFL.com leagues)- Williams was already sharing the load in Arizona, and with Beanie Wells going down with an injury in Sunday’s game, there could be many more carries going to Williams in the coming weeks. Williams is a talented 2nd year player out of Virginia Tech who missed all of 2011 with injury, but is now presented with a chance to become the #1 running back in Arizona. With Arizona’s stingy defense, I’d expect Williams to help lead a more balanced Cardinals offense than we’ve seen in the past several years.
Leonard Hankerson, WR Washington (owned in 1.0% of NFL.com leagues)- if you’re looking for a receiver this week, there are slim pickings unless Brandon Lafell or Danny Amendola are available in your league. If neither is available, I would add Hankerson, the former University of Miami standout, to my bench. Hankerson caught 4 passes for 56 yards on Sunday and was targeted 7 times. With Santana Moss in decline and Pierre Garcon banged up, Hankerson has a chance to develop into RG III’s #1 target, provided that he can stay healthy himself.
Dennis Pitta, TE Baltimore (owned in 42.4% of NFL.com leagues), Martellus Bennett, TE New York Giants (owned in 37.4% of NFL.com leagues) & Kyle Rudolph, TE Minnesota– (owned in 17.1% of NFL.com leagues)- all three of these talented tight ends have been featured in the passing games of their respective teams over the first three weeks. I would cut bait with Jason Witten and Jacob Tamme, and I would be thinking about benching Jermichael Finley in the coming weeks depending on his performance tonight vs. the Seahawks. There are just too many productive fantasy tight ends for you to be starting an underperforming one at this point in the season.
Arizona Cardinals Defense/Special Teams (owned in 5.2% of NFL.com leagues)- it’s time to start recognizing this unit as drastically improved after they only allowed 1 touchdown over the past two weeks in a pair of games against the potent offenses of New England and Philadelphia. Another added bonus with the defense is you get their special teams unit featuring the return game of Patrick Peterson, capable of breaking a touchdown return at any time.
Week 3 Expert Tracker (by James Morris)
For those wondering how I did, I missed on Michael Vick (7.48 points, low-end QB2 numbers), Antonio Gates (5.20 points, TE3 numbers), Peyton Manning (23.20, QB1 numbers) and Carson Palmer (21.86, QB1 numbers). So, I missed on four out of the 16 picks I made, still good enough for a 75 percent rating this week. Not my best showing, but still above par and better than the experts I know at the big box websites. I did however do FAR better in my Twitter, Facebook and email answers as I was able to tell people to grab Mikel Leshoure (100 yards rushing, 34 yards receiving on 4 catches and a TD) and Andre Brown.
For more fantasy guidance, follow James on Twitter here.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.