Fantasy Football: Eli Manning Headlines NFC 'Random Thoughts' from Week 2

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterSeptember 17, 2012

Giants QB Eli Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns in the Giants' 41-34 win over the Bucs, falling short of the franchise passing record by three yards. (US PRESSWIRE)
Giants QB Eli Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns in the Giants' 41-34 win over the Bucs, falling short of the franchise passing record by three yards. (US PRESSWIRE)

Here are 25 random and NFC-based deep thoughts about the action from Week 2:

To view the AFC-centric fantasy revelations from the weekend, click here.

1. Eli Manning (510 yards passing, three TD vs. Tampa Bay) may be fantasy's best quarterback when his team's trailing. That's not to say Eli converts every real-world deficit to into a harrowing victory. But the guy has no fear of airing it out when the Giants are in a tight spot.

And it's a shame Eli didn't log one more throw against the Bucs in an unwitting attempt to eclipse Phil Simms' franchise record for passing yards (513).

2. There are no more excuses for benching Brent Celek (eight catches, 157 yards vs. Baltimore) in standard-scoring or points-per-reception leagues. And if you have an elite tight end blocking Celek's path to starting glory for Week 3, I implore you to trade one of the high-end assets before Friday night. Otherwise, you're needlessly wasting valuable talent on the bench.

3. Frank Gore is an untouchable commodity in standard-scoring leagues right now. For a second straight week, the 49ers star racked up 100-plus total yards and a touchdown against an NFC North opponent. And for a second straight Sunday, Gore (19 touches) dwarfed his teammates in running back touches. So much for that "committee" hype during the preseason, huh?

4. Hailing Drew Brees (325 yards passing, one TD) and Cam Newton (324 total yards, two TD) as locks for the QB-elite threshold of 275 total yards and/or three touchdowns might have been the easiest call for Week 2. And neither quarterback required a sunny day nor serene playing conditions to pile up big numbers.

5. I have no means for quantifying the following boast, but Danny Amendola's 12 catches, 133 yards, one touchdown and 13 targets might be the single greatest first half in fantasy history—at least since the PPR format was hatched.

6. I'm finally ready to acknowledge Robert Griffin III (288 total yards, three TD) as a top-15 fantasy quarterback. In this special case, two weeks is sufficient time to learn that Griffin can handle the responsibilities of shepherding the Redskins offense on sustained drives. He's a tremendous finisher as well.

7. Hakeem Nicks (10 catches, 199 yards, one TD vs. Tampa Bay) and Victor Cruz (11 catches, 179 yards, one TD) deserve top billing when listing the NFL's premier active receiving tandems. In my (long) history of watching football, I cannot recall an NFL game where a pair of teammates combined for double-digit catches, 15-plus targets and 170-plus yards.

8. For a second straight week, Minnesota fulfilled its roundabout promise of keeping star tailback Adrian Peterson at or below the threshold of 20 touches per game. And for a second straight week, I'm reminding fantasy owners of the following: Even freakish athletes like Peterson (80 total yards vs. Indy) can only do so much on limited touches. For 2012, AP's a mere RB2 or flex play in fantasy circles.

9. Marshawn Lynch (122 rushing yards, one TD vs. Dallas) has a knack for covering up Seattle's sizable fantasy holes at receiver, tight end and yes, quarterback. Against the Cowboys, Lynch accounted for 39 percent of the Seahawks' total yardage, while crushing the team-wide competition with 26 touches (Anthony McCoy and Robert Turbin had five apiece).

10. It really doesn't matter if Rams head coach Jeff Fisher benched Steven Jackson (nine carries, 58 yards) immediately after S-Jax spiked a ball off a non-touchdown (resulting in a 15-yard penalty) or if the franchise's leading back sustained a groin injury around that same time. Either way, Jackson would be in his coach's doghouse or looking for a soft table in the Rams' training room.

11. It also doesn't matter how Michael Vick arrived at 405 total yards (371 passing) and two touchdowns against the Ravens. Whether he's supplying Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson (seven catches, 114 yards) with the ball during crunch time or helping Jeremy Maclin forge the best cameo of Week 2 (one catch, 23 yards), fantasy owners (and non-Philly residents) only care about the bottom line. Boom!

12. DeMarco Murray gets a relative free pass from Sunday's pedestrian outing (75 total yards on 16 touches). For some reason, the Cowboys treated their deficits of 10-0 (first quarter) and 20-7 (third quarter) as if they were obligated to abandon the running game and play catch-up with a string of forced passes.

13. Forgive the blasphemous statement, but I'd rather own Martellus Bennett (five catches, 10 targets, 72 yards, one TD) over Tony Gonzalez this season. And yes, I'm prepared to eat those words if Gonzo goes off against the Broncos on Monday night.

14. As predicted in The Fantasy Blog a few weeks ago (and then ridiculed shortly after), QB Christian Ponder (250 total yards, two TD vs. Indy) will cross the threshold of 250 yards and/or two TDs in the Vikings' first five games. (So far, he's 2-for-2.) Up next: Ponder gets a home date with the stout 49ers defense.

15. I wonder how many teams will steal a page out of the 49ers' defensive playbook and stack eight or nine guys in the proverbial "box" against the Lions, essentially daring Matthew Stafford to locate pass-catchers not named Calvin Johnson (eight catches, 94 yards). Which leads me to this...

16. Titus Young (one catch, 11 yards vs. San Francisco) is only a viable threat for fantasy points when the Lions are playing bad defenses. Last year's second-half flurry of 33 catches, 356 yards and five TDs (final eight games) may have been a mirage—and not a sign of future greatness.

17. I blame myself for thinking Redskins tight end Fred Davis (two catches, 14 yards vs. St. Louis) was ready to be a big-time fantasy contributor.

18. Panthers tailback Jonathan Stewart (68 total yards, one TD) once again has the green light to start in all scoring leagues for Week 3. And with Steve Smith (three catches, 104 yards), I'm begging fantasy owners to not read the injury report this week!

19. I will be disappointed if Bucs wideout Vincent Jackson (five catches, 128 yards, one TD on Sunday) doesn't average eight targets per game. He's a natural complement to Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman (243 yards passing, two TD) and a solid bet for at least three deep balls every week.

20. If the Redskins can't entrust one single carry to Roy Helu in a nip-and-tuck game against the Rams, when can they? I can think of a few NFL teams that would kill for Helu as their primary ball-carrier.

21. I like Dez Bryant's long-term upside, but I'm done apologizing to the masses for ranking him so low among receivers for Weeks 1 and 2. The proof's in the pudding.

22. If I was a betting man, Bucs rookie tailback Doug Martin (66 rushing yards, one TD vs. the Giants) won't have another zero-catch outing from this point forward.

23. If the Saints' Darren Sproles (13 catches, 128 yards vs. Carolina; zero carries) doesn't watch it, he may lose his running back status with ESPN, Yahoo or next year.

24. I honestly don't know if tight end Rob Housler (one catch, seven yards) or rookie receiver Michael Floyd (zero catches/targets on Sunday) will have any fantasy value by season's end. Both prospects have supreme upside, but neither one has been a factor in Arizona's passing game.

Which brings me to this...

25. If I had gone into a Las Vegas casino on Friday night and asked the sports-book manager to lay odds on the Cardinals defeating the Patriots outright in Foxboro—including the caveat of Larry Fitzgerald catching only one ball for four yards—would he/she have been authorized to confirm such a ludicrous bet?

Take a picture of Fitzgerald's eminently forgettable day, folks. Because there won't be another one like it all season.

Jay Clemons
can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.