Robert Griffin is no fluke. I love rookies who played college ball on a big stage, and Griffin certainly did. He was not overwhelmed by the moment of his first NFL start. He began his career with seven straight completions. The seventh was a long touchdown to Garcon. Sure, Garcon had a lot of YAC on the touchdown, but give Griffin credit for hitting him in stride. Griffin had just two incompletions at half, and just seven on the day. Along with his fantastic passing numbers, 320 yards and two scores, he also chipped in 42 rushing yards. Both feel replicatable.
He’s going to be fantasy startable most weeks.
Start the rumor mill! After an offseason in which Wes Welker’s request for a new deal fell on deaf ears, his snap count was precipitously down on Sunday.
ESPN.com notes that Welker played on 89.2 % of the Patriots offensive snaps last year. He was only in the game on 43 of 67 snaps. Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez played every down. Brandon Lloyd played on 57 snaps.
It’s very tempting to draw the conclusion that the Patriots are starting a transition away from Welker, and away from his contract demands. As we’ve seen before, the New England front office is merciless and adaptable. They’ll play with the guys they’ve got, and they’ll jettison anyone they don’t see in their future.
I’m buying on Gronk and Hernandez, and I’m selling on Welker.
Soft on Johnson
There was no more disappointing player on Sunday than Chris Johnson. 11 carries for four yards is horrific. And it’s not like we haven’t seen this before. His offensive line was lousy, and that counts for a lot. But, clearly, Johnson is not going to give you any yardage of his own accord.
Remember a few years ago, when Johnson would make something out of nothing? Now, nothing is nothing, and nothing will change that. Johnson has become the poster boy for “fat and happy after signing a big contract.”
At least he chipped in 47 receiving yards.
Some will be inclined to buy low. I suppose at the right price, I’d consider it, but I’m skeptical that this year is going to be much different than last year. He’ll post a couple good games, with far too many lousy ones mixed in.
I frequently talk about how skittish fantasy players are. At the faintest hint of trouble, fantasy players get spooked and overreact. Those people who took a chance of Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson have found themselves with top five fantasy backs at deeply discounted prices.
Jones-Drew looked a lot like his old self, and when Rashad Jennings went down, MoJo got a lot of extra carries. Jennings suffered a knee injury, which at first appearance, doesn’t seem to be too bad. Still, clearly, MoJo will continue to get the lion’s share of the carries going forward.
And, then there’s Adrian Peterson. Wow. Just wow. As I tweeted earlier today, the next time I doubt Adrian Peterson it’ll be in fantasy canasta. I was surprised when the Vikings announced him as the starter. And, I was even more surprised when he got 17 carries, averaged 5 yards per carry, and scored twice. I think everyone assumed that Peterson would return to his pre-injury form at some point. I only know one person (Paul Allen, radio voice of the Vikings) who thought it would happen in the season opener.
I can’t help but wonder if the game hadn’t been so close if Peterson would have gotten all 17 carries. It turned out to be a spine-tingler, and the Vikings needed their best players on the field to win in overtime.
Quickly from the same Vikings game, Percy Harvin surprised me with five carries. I think the coaches learned how valuable Harvin was last December, and they’re going to continue using him in a variety of ways.
Also, Blaine Gabbert is starting to look like an actual quarterback. Granted, he played against the Vikings’ lousy secondary, but he drove his team to an epic last minute touchdown to take the lead in a hostile environment. His final line is impressive: 260 yards, two scores, zero interceptions.
The worst fantasy news of the week looks like it’s going to be Fred Jackson, who suffered a knee injury. His MRI on Monday will tell us more. I’m optimistic that it’s not an ACL injury. Usually when it’s an ACL, we know about it pretty quickly, and an MRI isn’t required. MCL, maybe?
CJ Spiller went berserk in Jackson’s absence, in mop-up time. Spiller was very good as Jackson’s replacement last year, as you already know. But, because the Jets were so far ahead, it’s a little unclear if Spiller’s success came as a result of a Jets defense playing prevent, or because the Bills offense finally clicked.
Worried About Stafford
Matthew Stafford looked pretty shaky for most of Sunday’s game, but redeemed himself late with two touchdown drives in the last half of the fourth quarter. Undoubtedly, Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan represent serious upgrades for the Rams secondary, but Stafford’s 3+ quarters of wobbly play can’t be overlooked.
Still, it’s hard to bet against Stafford. He finished with a whopping 355 yards. And in the end, he rallied his team.
I’m not downgrading him at this point.
If you’re a Matthew Forte owner, Sunday’s game was ideal. You already knew (or should have known) that Michael Bush would steal the goal line work. And he did, scoring twice. But Forte chipped in a touchdown of his own (something you can’t count on), ran for five yards per carry, and managed 120 total yards.
The only caveat from Sunday’s strong performance by both Chicago runners is the opponent. The Colts are a terrible run defense, and they’re starting a conversion from 4-3 to 3-4, which always takes several week to gel.
Considering their ADP, Bush in the 8th round and Forte in the late first round, who is the better pick? Forte earned his ADP on Sunday. Bush outperformed his.
I wouldn’t blame Forte owners for selling high today.
TRich Leaves Owners Broke
I was happy with the number of carries Trent Richardson received, 19. But at only two yards per carry, it’s tough to find a silver lining in Sunday’s performance. Brandon Weeden was overwhelmed, and appeared far from ready to lead an offense. He threw no scores, four picks, and managed only 118 yards on 35 attempts. Yuck.
Richardson will be the focus of every defense until the passing game starts to click, either with Weeden or Colt McCoy as his replacement, which will happen quickly if Weeden keeps pissing away wins for Cleveland, like he did in the opener.
I remain bullish on Richardson, but he’s simply got to get some help from the quarterback position.
Really, the same thinking applies to Reggie Bush. Ryan Tannehill needs to perform better before he can start to reliably produce.
Turn on Turner
Michael Turner’s slow, plodding running style looks completely out of sync in Atlanta’s up-tempo high-octane offense. His three yard per carry average is almost charitable. He looked worse than three yards per carry. Jacquizz Rodgers didn’t look any better, but the change from Turner to Rodgers feels inevitable. It’s just a matter of when.
The rest of the Atlanta offense looked every bit as good as the preseason version. Granted, the Chiefs were playing shorthanded without their two best defensive players, Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali.
New York Dreaming
Shonn Greene posted nearly 100 yard and scored. Stephen Hill, who looked lost and ineffective all preseason scored twice. And Mark Sanchez threw three touchdowns en route to a 48 point explosion for a team that didn’t score a touchdown in the preseason. Go figure.
I’m not buying it.
The Bills, and Ryan Fitzpatrick specifically, handed the Jets many more opportunities than they deserved. Buffalo’s defense was bad last year, and their many offseason additions didn’t pay immediate dividends. The Jets face a much stouter test next week. I’ll believe it when they similarly torch the Steelers.
I’m not sure how Jonathan Dwyer has been on the Steelers roster for three years and hasn’t made more of a splash. On Sunday night, Dwyer showed a rare combination of power and slipperiness. He looks better than Rashard Mendenhall in 90% of his games. Dwyer looks much more dynamic than Isaac Redman, and I remain highly skeptical of the Mendenhall’s ability to play well after his return from his ACL injury.
All of the Steelers backs got some work on Sunday night. If you ask me who is going to finish the year with the most carries in Pittsburgh, I’ll take Dwyer.
- Michael Vick threw 56 times, which tells you a lot about the Eagles offense. When the game is on the line, the Eagles show their true colors: They pass.
- You can drop Ronnie Hillman and add Knowshon Moreno. Or anyone else.
- If I’m buying low on any player right now, it’s Titus Young.
- Steven Ridley’s box score is legit. Plenty more big games coming.
- Peyton Manning passed every test on Sunday night. Game on.
- Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are both near droppable status. No help from their horrible offensive line or quarterbacks.
- I was a lot more impressed with Michael Crabtree than Randy Moss.
- How was DeAngelo Williams unable to muster positive rushing yards against dubious Tampa run defense? If he was only good for -1 yards with Jonathan Stewart out, when playing against last year’s easiest run defense, when can you start him?