Fantasy Football: Jake Locker Headlines AFC 'Random Thoughts' from Week 3

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterSeptember 24, 2012

Titans QB Jake Locker accounted for 413 total yards (378 passing) and two touchdowns in his team's zany 44-41 overtime victory against the Lions.
Titans QB Jake Locker accounted for 413 total yards (378 passing) and two touchdowns in his team's zany 44-41 overtime victory against the Lions.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Here are 25 random and AFC-based deep thoughts about the action from Week 3:

To view the NFC fantasy revelations from Sunday, click here.

1. It's a shame Titans QB Jake Locker (413 total yards, two TD) won't see the Lions for another four seasons (barring a Super Bowl clash). Otherwise, Locker, receiver Nate Washington (three catches, 112 yards, one TD) and tight end Jared Cook (four catches, 77 yards, one TD) would be automatic starts in the fantasy realm.

2. And with that, it's time to address the 800-pound elephant in the room: Maybe the Titans no longer have interest in extending 25-plus touches to Chris Johnson (29 total yards) every Sunday. Subsequently, perhaps fantasy owners shouldn't feel obligated to start Johnson in the RB1 or RB2 slots.

3. Obviously, Torrey Smith has the talent to roll for six catches, 127 yards and two touchdowns against any NFL opponent. But his amazing night against the Patriots, just hours after his younger brother died in a motorcycle accident, stands as the signature emotional triumph of the young season. Secondarily, it also justified Joe Flacco (385 total yards, three TD) as a fantasy starter when playing at home.

4. It's somewhat irrelevant that Tom Brady (342 total yards, one TD) and Robert Griffin III (306 total yards, two TD) posted comparable fantasy stats on Sunday. For those who own both quarterbacks in 12-team leagues, heed the following two-pronged advice/plea:

a) NEVER bench Brady, and...

b) By not trading Griffin while his market value is off the charts, you're just wasting valuable fantasy points on the bench.

5. Jamaal Charles' 91-yard rushing touchdown against the Saints accounted for only 32 percent of his total yardage (288) on Sunday. In other words, his comeback from ACL surgery (September 2011) looks a lot more "complete" with Charles averaging 4.4 yards on his other 32 touches.

Bottom line: Charles is an automatic start in 12-team leagues, regardless of scoring. And that's not the case, find a way to trade one of his fellow "teammates" at running back.

6. It seems that reports of Wes Welker's fantasy demise have been greatly exaggerated. The slot wideout tallied eight catches, 10 targets and 142 yards against the Ravens, prompting some to wonder if Welker—and not necessarily Brandon Lloyd (nine catches, 108 yards) or Rob Gronkowski (two catches, 21 yards)—stands to benefit the most from Aaron Hernandez's injury-related absence.

7. Need further proof of why Ray Rice (150 total yards, one TD vs. New England) is the most bankable asset in points-per-reception leagues? I didn't think so.

8. It's odd that all three of Matt Schaub's four-touchdown outings (aka Al Bundy games) have occurred on the road. Of equal absurdity, how does Andre Johnson (two catches, 72 yards, one TD) collect only four targets on Schaub's red-letter day?

9. My biggest whiff of the weekend: Tabbing Philip Rivers (175 total yards, zero touchdowns) for fantasy gold against the Falcons.

10. The easiest call of the weekend: Maurice Jones-Drew bulldozing the Colts for 193 total yards and one touchdown. Since 2008, MJD has racked up 100-plus total yards against Indy eight times. And of his last games against the Colts, he has per-outing averages of 156 total yards and one touchdown.

11. How high are my fantasy expectations for Reggie Wayne with Andrew Luck (and not Dan Orlovsky/Curtis Painter) as his quarterback? I was initially disappointed with Wayne's production against the Jaguars off 15 targets (eight catches, 88 yards). In retrospect, though, he generated 16.8 points in PPR leagues. Not bad for a seemingly blah day.

12. Speaking of Luck (363 total yards, two TD vs. Jacksonville), we're steadily getting to the point of his development where he'll be a no-brainer start in 14-team leagues.

13. I've gotten a few pats on the back this morning, via Twitter, for riding Santonio Holmes (nine catches, 147 yards) in a slew of start-or-sit scenarios. But there was nothing really scientific (or profound) to the pick.

It was merely the perfect-storm combination of Holmes being the Jets' best receiver (by a long shot)...and personally not being able to name two of the Dolphins' four cornerbacks on their active roster.

14. Either Tashard Choice (99 total yards in relief of an injured C.J. Spiller) is a virtual clone of Fred Jackson and the aforementioned Spiller...or the Bills' offensive line has the goods to transform any rusher into a viable threat of 95 total yards and one touchdown every week. As Abe Simpson might answer, "a little from Column A, a little from Column B."

15. Ryan Fitzpatrick owners suddenly have a dilemma on their hands: Is Fitz more like the guy who's averaging a sparse 194 yards passing per game, or the QB who's accounted for eight touchdowns in three starts? A little history lesson: In 2011, after notching nine touchdowns through three games, Fitzpatrick tallied only seven scores in his next seven games.

16. I'll be shocked if Broncos WR Eric Decker (eight catches, 136 yards vs. Houston) doesn't average 85 yards and nine targets at home this season. Peyton Manning (330 yards passing, two TD) loves targeting him between the 20s...and in the red zone.

17. It may be a waste of fantasy owners' time to start a Steelers running back in 12-team leagues, regardless of scoring. Neither Isaac Redman (51 total yards vs. Oakland) nor Jonathan Dwyer (four touches, zero yards) had any fantasy luck against one of the NFL's most forgiving rush defenses.

18. I'll buy Steelers wideout Mike Wallace (eight catches, 123 yards, one TD) as a top-10 standard-scoring and PPR receiver again, even though he's in a virtual targets time-share with Antonio Brown (seven catches, 87 yards, one TD).

But then again, Pittsburgh has to compensate for its middling rushing attack. So why not up the dosage for Wallace, Brown and tight end Heath Miller (eight catches, 10 targets, 60 yards, two TD vs. Oakland)?

19. From a fantasy perspective, it's hard to be optimistic about the Browns' playmakers when no receiver collected more than five catches or seven targets against the Bills. How does that happen on a day when Cleveland incurs a 14-point deficit just 10 minutes into the first quarter (prompting more throws from Brandon Weeden)...and Trent Richardson manages only 51 yards (27 rushing)?

20. If Darrius Heyward-Bey should miss substantial time to injury (possible concussion or neck soreness), Denarius Moore (five catches, 45 yards, one TD vs. Pittsburgh) would take a sizable leap in the wide receiver rankings. Fantasy-wise, it also helps that the Raiders have a knack for falling behind early in games.

21. The day will come when Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (199 total yards, zero TD vs. the Jets) serves as a viable fantasy quarterback in 12-team leagues. But it won't come this year. Miami could be the 2012 version of fantasy roadkill, if Reggie Bush misses substantial time with a knee injury.

22. Mark Sanchez is Week 3's leader in the clubhouse for the Do You Really Care How The Cookies Are Made? award, after piling up 310 total yards and one touchdown—despite two interceptions and a 47-percent completion rate.

23. After three weeks of play, I'm already prepared to issue a full-blown mea culpa to A.J. Green (nine catches, 183 yards, one TD vs. Washington) for underselling his immense fantasy potential during the preseason.

Back in August, Green warranted only a top-15 ranking because of the Bengals' difficult schedule...and their apparent lack of a dependable No. 2 receiver. But none of that seems to matter to Green, who's 3-for-3 in collecting double-digit targets this season.

24. If I had to predict who will emerge as Cincy's No. 2 receiver by season's end, my educated guess lies with Armon Binns (three catches, 48 yards, one TD on Sunday).

Which brings me to this...

25. Did you hear the joke about Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu demanding a trade to be the Cardinals' starting quarterback? On Sunday, Sanu (73-yard TD pass to A.J. Green) almost threw for more yards than established QBs Josh Freeman (Bucs) and Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars).


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