Week 4: 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 Texans vs the Steelers game was to be a great battle of offenses. Too bad a sloppy game broke out. Andre Johnson was having a good day with 4 catches for 36 yards, but on his last reception, he ran a few steps then fell to the ground in a heap without even being touched. The Texans offense didn’t suffer as Arian Foster did a fantastic job running and found the lanes available as Pittsburgh had no answer to the same zone blocking scheme that the Ravens brought them in Week 1. Foster had 30 carries for 155 yards including a 43 yard TD run. Owen Daniels was used well as he found holes in the defense and finished with 5 catches for 69 yards and a TD. The Texans penalties kept the Steelers in the game. The Steeler defense looked especially slow in the first half. Two WRs were the Steelers only bright spots as Mike Wallace had 4 catches for 77 yards and Antonio Brown pulled in 5 for 67 yards. It took a committee of three Steeler backs to get 19 carries, 99 rushing yards, and a TD. I know Rashard Mendenhall hurt his hamstring, but he hasn’t run well all year, and as a fantasy owner I am very concerned.
It might be me, but was Richard Seymour secretly working for the Patriots? His two personal fouls led New England to their 1st score. The Pats ran the ball well with BJGE to start, 16 carries for 75 yards and a TD, and then gave the rookie Stevan Ridley a few carries as well, 10 for 97 yards. Ridley initially was dancing around, but decided to get serious and stuck his foot in the ground and ran in for a 33 yard TD. Wes Welker continued his amazing pace, catching 9 for 158 yards and a TD. He made a wonderful sideline catch that two refs couldn’t decide on for a while. Darren McFadden paced the Raiders with 18 touches for 123 yards, but had trouble getting going in between the tackles. TE Kevin Boss did what he could with 4 catches for 78 yards, while rookie sensation Denarius Moore was invisible for most of the game, but had a last-minute TD to finish with 3-19 receiving. Jason Campbell looked calm in the first half lobbing the ball up, but made a bad decision that resulted in a pick in the end zone towards the end of the first half that changed momentum. Campbell finished with 344 yards passing and the TD to Moore to help out the silly owners that started him (yes, I am one of them).
You would think a game that ended 34-17 would have a lot of offensive scoring, but that is not how the Ravens and Jets play. The Ravens defenders had three turnover touchdowns (Jameel McClain, Jarret Johnson, and Lardarius Webb). The Jets had a 107 yard kickoff return for a TD from Joe McKnight and a David Harris interception TD. Last week’s rookie superstar, Torrey Smith, had one catch for one yard. Smith did have 6 targets and had an opportunity in the end zone that didn’t work out. Ray Rice did everything he could by rushing 25 times for 66 yards with a TD, while adding 2 receptions for 64 yards. Ed Dickson caught 4 out of 12 targets for 45 yards. He dropped at least 3 outright, but Joe Flacco was not sharp. Speaking of bad nights, that would be the Jets running game that had 19 carries for 38 yards. The great LaDainian Tomlinson finished with 4 touches for 1 yard. These teams don’t like each other at all and it showed.
I guess we are all calling it the collapse of Romo, Detroit 34 Dallas 30? Dez Bryant did his best to do a Calvin Johnson impression catching 3 for 37 yards and 2 TDs on 5 targets. The oft-injured, where are they now WR, Laurent Robinson helped the ‘Boys move the ball with 7 catches for 116 yards. Jason Witten, once again, was a monster target pulling in 8 for 94 yards and a TD. We even got to see Tashard Choice effective in a limited role with 10 touches for 62 yards. Tony Romo played well in the first half and finished with 331 yards passing, 3 TDs, and 3 interceptions. The Lions returned two interceptions for TDs on back to back series in the second half, and Romo’s third interception with less than 5 minutes to go, put the Lions on the Dallas 40 yard line. I hope your new bride loves you a lot Tony, because Dallas fans aren’t happy. Matthew Stafford took a lot of chances early, completed less than 50% of his passes, but finished with 240 yards and two TDs to the often imitated, but never duplicated Calvin Johnson. Johnson has 8 TDs for the year (2 per game, every game). Brandon Pettigrew is becoming more like the Lions running game by default as he added 6 catches on 9 targets for 64 yards. Rookie Titus Young is getting more looks with 3 receptions for 41 yards and Nate Burleson appears to be losing looks to Young, only getting 2 catches for 16 yards on 4 targets.
The blowout against the redhead never happened. The Bengals surprised the Bills to win a defensive struggle, 23-20. Fred Jackson led the Bills offense with 22 touches for 98 yards and a TD, that was the only part of the offense that was working. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a lot of trouble completing passes over 10 yards as the average of 5.9 yards per attempt shows. Safety Bryan Scott was the Bills other bright spot as he had a 43 yard TD interception return. The Cincinnati defense tightened up in the second half and helped their offense get back into this game. Cedric Benson kept on getting fed the ball and finished with 19 caries for 104 yards. Andy Dalton showed more mobility moving around in the pocket. Dalton threw for a 50% completion rate, almost 300 yards, had a rushing and a passing TD, and threw 2 picks. He had a busy day also finding AJ Green for 4-118. Green had a spectacular 58 yard catch that no one can make and Jermaine Gresham helped the cause with a beautiful TD catch, receiving 4 for 70 on 7 targets.
Micheal Vick had a game for the ages, but that wasn’t enough for the “Dream Team” to find a victory at home. Vick was a fantasy monster finishing with 416 passing yards, throwing for 2 TDs, and adding 8 carries for 75 yards on the ground. DeSean Jackson had 6 receptions for 171 yards and missed out on a couple of TD receptions. Jeremy Maclin had 11 targets, while catching 7 for 74 and had a big fumble with 2:06 left in the game. The Philly TE situation is unsettling as backup Clay Harbor caught all three of his targets for 55 yards and a TD, while starter Brent Celek caught 1 for 2 yards on 4 targets. Backup Ronnie Brown made the boneheaded play of the week by throwing the ball up as he was getting tackled at the 2. San Francisco recovered and that was 3 points they didn’t get back. LeSean McCoy had 15 touches for 52 yards and a TD, if you didn’t have him in PPR, it wasn’t that good. Alex Smith was serviceable with 291 yards and 2 passing TDs. Rookie Kendall Hunter got the start and ended up with 100 yards on 11 touches, but this may have been a motivational ploy on Frank Gore. Gore finished with 17 touches for 139 yards and a TD, playing the closer to run the game out. I usually leave the kicker talk out, but going a combined 4 for 8 on field goals is horrible.
The ball control approach vs. the throw 46 times approach was on display in this game. There was a different coach on the ball control side than expected, Mike Martz, who knew? Matt Forte did his best impression of HOF great Walter Payton while running for 205 yards on 25 carries and a TD against a putrid Carolina front seven. Jay Cutler wasn’t really needed (102 passing yards) as Chicago’s defense and special teams kept them in the game, so Forte could be leaned on almost exclusively. #1 draft pick Cam Newton kept the mystique alive passing for 27-46 for 374 yards 1 TD and 1 interception. Newton also called his own number twice near the goal line rushing 8 for 35 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. He still seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Steve Smith throwing at him 10 times, completing 8 for 181 yards. DeAngelo Williams finally showed some life finishing with 10 rushes for 82 yards (some of those via the wildcat). Greg Olsen aided with 5 receptions for 50 yards and a TD.
The Redskins jumped on the Rams early and almost let the game slip out of their fingers. Tim Hightower started the game doing what he does, taking what the defense gave him and that wasn’t much. Rookie Roy Helu jumped in and ran with some good wiggle, but what no one expected was the return of Ryan Torain. Torain ran straight ahead with a locomotive’s blunt force and ended the day with 19 carries for 135 hard fought yards and a TD. Rex Grossman is still throwing at spots, not receivers. He struggles with leading his receivers and his 2 interceptions on the day, could have been 4. Jabaar Gaffney was highly effective catching all 4 targets for 62 yards. John Beck your time is coming. The Washington front seven dominated the Rams offensive line by getting 7 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. Sam Bradford needs help in the worst way as he finished with 20-43 attempts for 164 yards and 1 TD, averaging only 3.8 yards per attempt. Can you say sophmore slump and when will Danny Amendola and Mark Clayton be back?
In the battle of two diminutive RBs, Darren “Mr. Electric” Sproles won with 12 touches for 131 yards and of course the game over MJD and the Jags. The Jaguars did not feed MJD early; however, he finished with 11 carries for 84 yards. Rookie Blaine Gabbert had a rough day. He completed 38% of his passes for 196 yards with a TD and an interception. Gabbert appeared very rushed with the majority of his throws and did not give the receivers a chance to get open. This game was mostly the Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham show. Graham caught 10 catches for 132 yards and a short TD. Brees completed over 70% of his passes and finished with 351 yards. Rookie Mark Ingram had another mediocre day with 19 touches for 58 yards. I would like to note that the Saints faked two goal line plays to Ingram with the before mentioned TD catch to Graham and a full back carry for a TD.
The Dolphins did their best to keep up with the Chargers, but many roadblocks got in their way. Chad Henne injured his non-throwing shoulder in the 1st quarter and journeyman Matt Moore came in. Reggie Bush had 65 yards on his 15 touches and Brandon Marshall caught 5 for 52 yards. Both players left a lot of plays on the field, as Marshall look lackadaisical out there. The Miami offense had less than 250 net yards of offense (the intensity left as Henne and Daniel Thomas weren’t there). Philip Rivers threw for 307 yards, a TD, and completed 67% of his passes. The TD was a 55-yard bomb to Vincent Jackson, who fell down and then got back up. Jackson had a 108 yard day on 3 receptions. I liked what little I saw of rookie Vincent Brown who had 2 catches for 26 yards, which was the same stat line of Malcolm Floyd. Ryan Matthews continued to excel by adding 149 yards on 21 touches.
Talk about doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t. The Broncos didn’t have a chance against the mighty World Champion Packers; however, they did not go down without a fight. Willis McGahee did most of his damage on the ground with 113 yards on 17 touches. Brandon Lloyd came back from injury with a vengance catching 8 for 136 yards. Eric Decker once again came thru for fantasy owners with 5 receptions for 56 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets. Packers Charles Woodson had a pick six by under cutting Decker after Kyle Orton starred Decker down. If Orton would have been more accurate, Decker would have had at minimum 3 more receptions. Orton had 273 yards passing, 3 TDs, and 3 picks. He couldn’t take full advantage of a beautiful flea flicker to hit Lloyd for a TD as the Broncos had to settle for a big gain instead, due to his underthrown ball. Tim Tebow had one Wyld Stallyns carry for -1 yards or was that Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure? On the other side, Aaron Rodgers had the excellent fortune to play against the halpless Broncos defense without Champ Bailey. He finished with, wait for it, 408 yards, a 76% complettion rate, 4 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, and 1 interception. Greg Jennings (7-103-1 TD) and Jordy Nelson (5-91-1 TD) got caught up in the fun, too. Even rookie Randall Cobb caught 2 passes for 75 yards!
The game that should have been over in the first half went down to the wire, the Seahawks vs. the Falcons. Michael Turner aka “Mr. Volume” had 28 touches for 88 yards and rumbled in for 2 TDs. Aging Tony Gonzalez helped keep the ball moving forward including catching Matt Ryan’s only TD pass. Julio Jones was thrown to 17 times. Yes, much of that has to do with Brandon Browner covering him, however Jones finished with 11 receptions for 127 yards. Roddy White played more of the possession WR role with his thigh bruise ailing him (6-78 yards). Ryan completed 66% of his passes for 291 yards and the mentioned TD to Gonzalez. Tarvaris Jackson had his best game of the season throwing for 319 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 interceptions. He found Sidney Rice for 3 catches for 79 yards and a TD. Rookie Doug Baldwin finished with 5 receptions for 84 yards and the forgotten man, Zach Miller, had 3-21 yards on 6 targets. Most notable was the pass that bounced off Miller’s hands in the end zone that got intercepted. Don’t worry Zach, one of Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, or Landry Jones are coming next year.
Now, the Monday Night Football matchup that looked great back in March. The two most exciting plays of the night started with Curtis Painter, the guy who reminds me of David Spade. He threw a 87-yard bomb to Pierre Garcon, who tippy-toed himself down the sideline for a score. Later in the game, Painter and Garcon did it again with a 59-yard score that was almost all Garcon. Fantasy owners should be happy, but 2 receptions out of 8 targets was not what we had hoped. Painter was inaccurate for most of the night as he completed 13 of 30 while finishing with 281 yards. The Bucs played a more ground control game with LaGarrette Blount running well on 25 carries for 127 yards and added a 35 yard TD to win the game. Josh Freeman wasn’t flashy; however, he got the job done by throwing for 287 yards with a TD. Freeman also added 6 rushes for 27 yards and a TD on the ground. Preston Parker (5-70 yards and a TD) and Mike Williams (5-66 yards) both had ok games. The writing is on the wall that “Tampa” Mike will struggle to match his outstanding numbers from last year.