Week 3: Fantasy Blitzkrieg
Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ”Quick Bits”, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning “blitz” war “krieg” to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
The Bills vs. the Patriots aka the shootout was only something Bills fans and fantasy owners could enjoy! Let’s get the interceptions out-of-the-way, there were a total of 6. It was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Tom Brady had 3 TDs and 1 interception and in the second half, he had 3 interceptions and 1 TD (386 yards passing total). The Bills did a good job of shutting down the run game. Rookie RB Stevan Ridley did manage 7 carries for 44 yards. The rest of the Pats running game was non-existent. The stars of the Pats were Wes Welker with 16 catches for 216 yards and 2 TDs on 20 (yes, I said it) targets, and Rob Gronkowski did not miss a beat, without Hernandez in there, catching 7 passes for 109 yards and 2 TDs on 8 targets. The Bills offense was the story after being down by 21 points came roaring back. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a ho-hum day going 27-40 attempts for 369 yards and 2 TDs. He overcame two 1st quarter picks. No name WRs David Nelson (8-84 yards) and Donald Jones (5-101 yards) came thru for their quarterback. Fred Jackson was the heart and soul of this win by rushing 12-74 yards and a TD, then adding 5 receptions for 87 yards and was a knee short of a long TD catch. The Bills are for real folks.
The classic Packers against the Bears matchup looks more exciting than it was. The Bears had a lot of trouble moving the ball which their team rushing total of 13 yards on 12 carries will tell you. Jay Cutler pressured early and often; this led to a not so great day, throwing 20-36 attempts with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. His top yardage receiver Johnny Knox went 4 catches for 84 yards, but left a few receptions on the field. Matt Forte did chip in a respectable 6 catches for 73 yards and rookie Dane Sanzenbacher had a TD with 5 receptions for 27 yards. This game breathed life into Green Bay old man Ryan Grant, who finished with 17 carries for 92 yards. Greg Jennings started the game on fire and ended with 9 receptions for 119 yards. Jermichael Finley had a monster day with 7-85 yards and 3 TDs. If you had him in a premium scoring for TE league, he might have won you the game almost by himself. Aaron Rodgers threw for almost 300 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception. Enough QB points for any fantasy team to be happy to start.
The Steelers-Colts game ended up being much more exciting than originally thought. The Colts had no answer for Mike Wallace as he caught an 81 yard touchdown bomb from Ben Roethlisberger. Wallace finished with 5-144 yards on 7 targets. Roethlisberger had a decent game going 25-37 attempts for 364 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception. Big Ben was rattled after the ball was stripped and ran back 50+ yards for a defensive Colts score, and it showed with his interception the very next play. Rashard Mendenhall had a poor outing with 21 touches for a combined 46 yards, not what fantasy owners were expecting from a poor run defense. The Colts d-line did a great job pressuring the QB and stuffing the run. Joseph Addai was a bright spot for Indy’s offense, as he finished with 87 total yards and a short TD run. QB Curtis Painter came in for an injured and ineffective Kerry Collins. After a near fatal miss of a wide open Pierce Garcon, Painter rebounded and found rhythm with Garcon (6-82 receiving on 10 targets). Troy Polamanu also had a fumble return for a short TD. The Curtis Painter experiment may be upon us now.
In the first battle of rookie signal callers, Cam Newton won the very rainy, sloppy battle. Blaine Gabbert was on tilt early with a first quarter safety, but ended up rebounding with a 36 yard scoring strike to Mike Thomas with 6 ticks left of the 1st half. The story of the Jaguars as always went threw the way of MJD. He looks to be ready to carry the team on his back. MJD had 24 rushes for 122 yards and caught 3 passes for 45 yards. The mighty Cam Newton’s stats took a hit, but he did manage to get the win. Newton threw for 158 yards completing almost 53% of his passes, while rushing for 27 yards on 7 carries. The Carolina TEs (Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen) were the passing game as they combined for 10 catches for 87 yards and Newton’s passing TD. Jonathan Stewart, if not for a pesky elbow, would have almost doubled his 85 yards on 13 touches. If you took DeAngelo Williams anything higher than a 3rd back, you are hurting now.
The Texans vs. the Saints was another track meet. Ben Tate was not as explosive as he was the week before (19-82 rushing) as he was there to just slow down the Saints pass rush. Matt Schaub looked shaky at times, but finished with 373 yards, completing 56% of his passes while throwing for 3 TDs and 1 interception. He had a lot of issues in the red zone leaving points, namely TDs, on the field. Schaub got much of his help from his TEs. James Casey started with a 62 yard reception and finished with 5 catches for 126 yards and a TD. Owen Daniels added 5 receptions for 76 yards and a TD. “Mr. Reliable” Andre Johnson was force-fed the ball 12 times, catching 7 for 128 yards. It was the week to start Mark Ingram as he got his first TD. Other than that, Darren Sproles was the electric RB for the Saints by using his 8 touches to get 85 yards and a TD. Lance Moore returned to his explosive self by catching all 9 of his targets for 88 yards, scoring a TD, and catching two 2 point conversions. Jimmy Graham had a poor first half, but came roaring back in the second half. Graham finished with 4 receptions for 100 yards and a TD. At one point, Graham dragged three defenders towards the end zone and kept going even when his knee was down. Drew Brees showed amazing poise as he battled back from 2 interceptions to finish with 31-44 attempts for 370 yards and 3 TDs.
This was a steady match-up between the Browns and Dolphins. Rookie Daniel Thomas was determined to keep his starting job over Reggie Bush. The workhorse Thomas finished with 122 combined yards on 26 touches and a TD. Miami Reggie Bush appears to be reverting to the old New Orleans Reggie Bush, including fumbling. Chad Henne was adequately accurate, but his “robot” mechanics do not inspire. He has major issues in the red zone without the entire field at his disposal. Brian Hartline continued to be his deep threat, catching 4 for 87 yards. Colt McCoy had his struggles during the game completing less than 49% of his passes, but finished with 210 yards in the air and 2 TDs. Ben Watson (5-64 yards) and Montario Hardesty (17 touches for 86 yards) helped move the ball for the Browns. Look for Madden cover boy to see less carries with Hardesty running well. Josh Cribbs made the most of his targets grabbing a beautiful deep TD while finishing with 3-49 yards. The next question is when will backup QB Matt Moore start seeing time?
In as many weeks, the Minnesota Vikings started off strong and folded in the 2nd half as a 20-0 half time score was not enough. Adrian Peterson once again was a monster when he got the ball (21 touches for 97 yards combined and a TD). The question is why was he only used 21 times? Percy Harvin was another weapon that was used sparingly (5 touches for 88 combo yards). For some reason, Michael Jenkins (yes that one) was targeted 11 times and caught 9 for 88 yards. Donovan McNabb was average at best throwing for 21 yards and a TD. Rookie Kyle Rudolph caught all 3 of his targets for 39 yards. On the defensive side, Jared Allen sacked Matthew Stafford 3 times after Stafford had not been sacked his first two games. Speaking of the Viking defense, they held all Lions runners to 20 yards on 19 carries. Unfortunately for them, the Vikings couldn’t stop the Lions passing game. Stafford had a good day passing for 32-46 attempts, 378 yards, and 2 TDs, both to Calvin Johnson. Johnson was beastly by catching 7 for 108 yards, 2 TDs, and set up the winning field goal in overtime. Brandon Pettigrew cashed in big by hauling in 11 receptions for 112 yards. While Jahvid Best was quiet in the running game, he caught 5 passes for 74 yards to help keep the Lions undefeated.
The next game was truly a defensive battle, but more because the offenses stunk. The Bengals sacked Alex Smith 5 times and 4 of those sacks were from the defensive line that got a lot of pressure on the 49ers. Speaking of the Bengals, there isn’t much to discuss. Cedric Benson was pedestrian and rookie Andy Dalton played like the rookie he is. When Dalton threw the ball, it appeared to never travel more than 5 yards further than the line of scrimmage. His 157 passing yards and 2 interceptions were not helpful to the Bengals or his fantasy owners, but at least AJ Green caught 4 of his 5 targets for 29 yards. For the 49ers, Alex Smith when not tormented by the Bengals pass rush, found Vernon Davis 8 times for 114 yards on 9 targets. I guess Davis’ heart to heart with the head coach paid off. Frank Gore once again looked outmatched, and rookie Kendall Hunter took some of his thunder, using 11 touches to get 38 yards and a slashing short TD run.
This Rams vs. Ravens game was over seemed like before it started. It was a welcome to my world for rookie Torrey Smith, who couldn’t catch anything against the Steelers. However, he dominated with his first 3 NFL receptions that were all for TDs. Torrey Smith’s 1st catch was a 74 yard TD, his 2nd catch was a 41 yard TD, and his 3rd catch was a 19 yard TD. He slowed down to finish the day with 5 receptions for 152 yards. Ray Rice had a great combined yardage day with 162 yards on 13 touches. Anquan Boldin helped move the offense with 7 catches for 74 yards. Joe Flacco had a great fantasy day with 27-48 attempts for 389 passing yards with those 3 passing TDs to Smith. The Ravens decided to shake up Sam Bradford, sacking him 5 times. DT Haloti Ngata had the most fun returning a fumble for a TD! As the stat line shows, Bradford had little help as he completed 50% of his passes for 166 yards with a TD and an interception. Brandon Gibson did his best catching 5 passes for 55 yards with a beautiful tippy toes TD grab. Danario Alexander managed to catch 2 for 28 yards out of 8 passes thrown to him. Way to bail out your QB, Alexander.
It was a sad running day for everyone involved in the Denver/Tennessee game. Can it get worse is when your starting all-pro RB, Chris Johnson, rushes as much as your punter (21 yards) and it takes him 12 more carries? I’m going to start calling CJ2K, CJ98 for his 98 yard rushing total for the year. News got worse for the Titans as Kenny Britt is out for the season due to a knee injury. Nate Washington has stepped up and finished the day strong catching 8 for 92 yards and a TD. The old is new Matt Hasselbeck has looked good as he completed 75% of his passes for 311 yards and 2 TDs. For the Broncos, Willis McGahee had 54 yards on 25 touches, but scored a short TD, just over 2 yards a touch, ouch. Eric Decker had the catches with 7, too bad it was only for 48 yards, but was targeted 12 times. Kyle Orton did his best Jake Delhomme impression throwing 24-39 for 173 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. I hear “Timmy, Timmy” chants and they aren’t referring to South Park.
The NFC West battle for the worst team was waged by 2 qualified QBs (Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson) . Neither of these should be started unless injury or bye week emergency. The return of Sidney Rice went well as he finished with 8-109 on 10 targets and Marshawn Lynch had a decent day with 75 yards on 20 touches. Larry Fitzgerald, who is happy to be targeted by a real NFL QB, went 5-64 yards with an outstanding TD between two defenders. Todd Heap was a major part of the offense and finished with 6-61 yards. This was another ugly, sloppy game.
The Raiders-Jets game went the way only Oakland fans dreamt it would go. Darren McFadden ran all over the Jets. It only took him 19 carries, but he managed to run for 171 yards and 2 TDs. Rookie WR sensation Denarius Moore slowed down with 4-34 yards in the air, but added a 23 yard TD reverse. Jason Campbell only had to complete 66% of his passes for 156 yards to seal the win. Mark Sanchez tried to take the game on his shoulders, 27-43-369 yards passing and threw for 2 TDs and 1 interception. Dustin Keller helped his totals with 5 receptions for 87 yards. Both Jets running backs were helpful on the ground and in the air. LaDainian Tomlinson had 6-38 rushing and 5-116 receiving with a TD. Shonn Greene had 15-59 rushing and caught 7 for 47. At least we know now, Greene can catch.
This might be the beginning of the end for Michael Turner. He finished with 11 carries for 20 yards against a Bucs team that could be run on. Matt Ryan threw 26-47-330 yards with a TD and an interception. Rookie Julio Jones stepped up with 6 catches for 115 yards on 7 targets. While teammate Roddy White was targeted 17 times, White finished with 9 receptions for 140 yards, but had 2 crucial drops on the Falcons final drive. LaGarrette Blount did the heavy lifting for the Bucs as he had 26 touches for 94 yards. Rookie TE Luke Stocker showed up with 2 catches for 33 yards and Josh Freeman struggled at times in the air throwing 2 interceptions. Freeman did scramble for 35 yards and a TD run. The sophomore slump continued with Mike Williams who caught 5-43 yards out of 8 targets. This is what the Falcons offense looks on tilt.
If you watch MNF to see field goals, you were not disappointed to see 9 total for the game. For the Redskins, Rex Grossman looked adequate for most of the game with his 250 yards passing with a TD and an interception. Grossman could have thrown another 2 picks and did fumble to end the Redskins final drive. Fred Davis had a let down game with 1 catch for 23 yards while Chris Cooley stepped up with 4 catches for 41 yards. Both Santana Moss (5-70 yards) and Tim Hightower (14-41 rushing, 5-39 receiving and a TD) did their best to help Washington move the ball. Tony Romo looked like he needed the extra week of rest. He got the win, but he had major issues holding the ball. Felix Jones accounted for a bulk of the Cowboys offense, finishing with 155 combined yards on 17 touches. Dez Bryant, who also didn’t look healthy, caught all four of his targets for 63 yards. Jason Witten struggled early, but bounced back with 6 receptions for 60 yards.