Week Three of the NFL season is in the books, and now is a great time to take a step back and evaluate your fantasy squad.
Look at the matchups in the week ahead, as now you can get a better glimpse of who are the strong and weak defenses. Look at how your opponents are doing, see what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Today we saw Mark Sanchez quiet the critics for the third straight week. We saw a defense that was finally able to slow down Drew Brees, and we saw Maurice Jones-Drew finally do what his owners have been waiting patiently for through the opening weeks of the season.
Congrats to those of you that are 3-0, and for those of you who are 0-3, it might be time to do something drastic before your season gets away from you.
Let’s take a closer look at Week Three.
Baltimore Ravens 34, Cleveland Browns 3
The Cleveland Browns forgot to show up today.
I hope every owner of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee plugged these guys into your lineup. It was predicted that they would have a nice afternoon, and they did not disappoint. McGahee found the end zone twice and had 67 yards rushing. Rice got a TD and had 48 yards rushing and 27 yards receiving.
McGahee’s career resurrection has to be frustrating Rice owners a bit, but the Baltimore Ravens have found a way to get this offense clicking and both should produce nicely.
Talking about their offense, Joe Flacco throws for 342 yards with a touchdown, and that TD went to Derrick Mason. You remember him as the guy that wanted to retire this summer. Mason continues to be the No. 1 option in this passing attack. He went over the century mark in addition to his touchdown.
Now for the Cleveland Browns, things are going in the opposite direction. It seems we may have another QB controversy on our hands, which only hurts owners of Braylon Edwards. Edwards finished with just 35 yards receiving today. Combine that with Jamal Lewis being inactive today and possibly on the verge of losing his job atop Cleveland’s depth chart, and suddenly, having anybody on the Browns on your team seems like a bad idea.
Detroit Lions 19, Washington Redskins 14
The Detroit Lions finally got in the win column against the Washington Redskins today.
So how did they do it? Despite getting injured, Kevin Smith was able to go over the century mark. Smith owners need to monitor his status everyday this week, but initial signs point to him missing some time.
There was a Johnson on the Lions catching a touchdown, but it wasn’t Calvin Johnson. It was Bryant Johnson.
Megatron, on the other hand, was held to just five catches for 49 yards. Owners of CJ have got to be getting frustrated with his first three performances, but you have to be patient. This is a receiver capable of putting up huge numbers no matter who’s throwing him the ball. You know the Redskins’ defense is pretty good and they were determined to not let Johnson beat them today.
Welcome back to fantasy relevance Santana Moss. Moss caught a 57-yard touchdown, part of his 178 receiving yards. Moss was targeted 14 times, as he and Jason Campbell were in sync all day today. Everybody calm down though, like we saw in Week One, it’s not hard to have a successful aerial attack against Detroit. I’m curious to see how this combo does in the upcoming weeks.
Jacksonville Jagaurs 31, Houston Texans 24
It’s hard to determine who to select as player of the game in this one - Matt Schaub or Maurice Jones-Drew.
I’m going to start with Schaub. The most impressive thing about Schaub’s performance in this game is how much he spread the ball around. He threw three touchdowns and not one went to Andre Johnson.
Johnson still had a nice game, racking up 86 yards receiving. But Schab’s three touchdowns went to three different guys, which means this offense can still produce even if Johnson doesn’t go off.
Welcome back Kevin Walter. Walter just missed 100 yards receiving and had a TD in his first game back. He’s a tremendous weapon for Schaub, and the Houston Texans are showing why they were the third-best offense in the league last year.
MJD posted 119 yards on the ground with three touchdowns. He didn’t shine quite as much as Chris Johnson did last week, but it was still a great fantasy performance.
In the passing game, look out for Mike Sims-Walker. Today may have been the first of many days that he leads the Jacksonville Jaguars in the passing game.
Minnesota Vikings 27, San Francisco 49ers 24
The Battle of the Unbeatens went to the Minnesota Vikings today.
For those of you who are huge on playing guys who have a good history against the team they’re playing, I hope you had Brett Favre in your lineup. Favre always hurts the San Francisco 49ers and, despite his age, some things just never change. Favre threw for over 300 yards with two TDs.
Tip your hat to the Niners though, they held Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards rushing and kept him out of the endzone.
The fantasy story of this game was the injury to Frank Gore. It looks like Gore owners are going to need somebody to fill his spot in your lineup for the next week or so. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but his backup, Glenn Coffee, was the preseason’s leading rusher. Of course, the regular season is a whole different beast.
Vernon Davis was San Francisco’s shining star today, hauling in two touchdowns and 96 yards receiving. Niner fans are hoping they’re finally going to get to see the Vernon Davis they’ve been waiting for, and he may soon find himself in your starting lineup.
New England Patriots 26, Atlanta Falcons 10
After the way the New England Patriots looked last week at the Meadowlands, a lot of people expected to see the Atlanta Falcons have their way with the Patriots. I wasn’t so convinced of an easy win in Foxboro, and the Falcons did indeed struggle today.
Matt Ryan didn’t record a touchdown, though Michael Turner was able to find the end zone to salvage his fantasy day. Roddy White only had 24 yards receiving and Tony Gonzalez only had 16.
A disappointing day for Atlanta, but I just see today as a bump in the road. This still a high-powered offense. Owners of these Falcons should not panic.
Tom Brady wasn’t an offensive explosion himself. Brady finished with 277 yards, but only threw for one touchdown. Once again, Randy Moss couldn’t do a touchdown dance, but he still racked up 116 yards through the air. In two of the first three games, Moss has posted a lot of yards, he just can’t seem to catch one in the end zone.
Philadelphia Eagles 34, Kansas City Chiefs 14
Anybody who had doubts about DeSean Jackson being just one of multiple options in the passing attack for the Philadelphia Eagles has been greatly mistaken.
Jackson sprung free for another long touchdown on Sunday and has cemented himself as the Eagles’ top receiver. We still need to see how he does against a tougher defense, but even without Donovan McNabb on the field, Jackson continues to impress.
Speaking of impressive performances, Brian Westbrook better be looking over his shoulder while he sits on the training table because here comes LeSean McCoy. McCoy had 20 carries for 84 yards and a TD this week. Even when Westbrook comes back, Philly would be foolish to keep McCoy on the bench.
Brent Celek once again had a solid game, going over the century mark and catching a touchdown. It’s apparent his recent success is because of his connection with Kevin Kolb, but he’s proven to be a potent weapon in this offense.
Matt Cassel was held to under 100 yards passing, but still collected two touchdowns. Making things worse for Cassel’s production in the near future is the injury to Dwayne Bowe, who missed Sunday’s game. For many of you who own Bowe, he’s most likely your WR2. Play it safe and find a backup plan for next week.
Green Bay Packers 36, St. Louis Rams 17
I don’t really know what to make of Greg Jennings’ fantasy performance today. He did get over 100 yards receiving, but he only had two catches and three targets. Even for getting double covered, three targets is pretty slim for a receiver the caliber of Jennings.
I’m not saying Jennings owners need to panic, but definitely pay close attention to how he does next week. Be aware of the fact that he will be facing the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome.
On the flip side, Aaron Rodgers rebounded nicely after a tough Week Two. Rodgers posted 269 yards passing, threw for two touchdowns and ran for one.
Donald Driver, that guy everybody keeps writing off, had 95 yards receiving with a touchdown. You just can’t count him out.
The big stud for the St. Louis Rams, Steven Jackson, went over the century mark for the second straight game, but still has not hit paydirt. Next week, Jackson goes to San Francisco, and the San Francisco 49ers held Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards rushing today. But Jackson remains an absolute must-start.
I could get into the whole Marc Bulger-Kyle Boller scenario, but with the injury today to Laurent Robinson, the Rams’ passing attack really has zero fantasy relevance right now.
New York Giants 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0
Brandon Jacobs finally found the end zone in 2009, but he wasn’t the real story of the New York Giants’ ground attack today. Ahmad Bradshaw went over 100 yards rushing, averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
Bradshaw isn’t going away folks, and the Giants love the Jacobs-Bradshaw combo right now. Jacobs is still the goal line touchdown threat, but Bradshaw will continue to be an important part of this offense.
Everybody this week was talking about Steve Smith and Mario Manningham to grab off the wire. Well, Smith posted huge numbers today—63 yards receiving with a touchdown. Manningham had 55 yards, but no touchdown. Eli Manning should continue to find these guys all day long, which in turn will help the running game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked absolutely awful from top to bottom. What didn’t help was the injury this week to Cadillac Williams, but even Kellen Winslow, who hasn’t looked bad thus far this season, was held to just 14 yards receiving.
New York Jets 24, Tennessee Titans 17
The Tennessee Titans couldn’t possibly go 0-3, right?
Well, Mark Sanchez disagrees. Sanchez threw for two scores and ran for another to give the New York Jets the win on Sunday. To the Titans’ credit, they played better on the pass defense, but some mistakes on special teams did them in.
Jerricho Cotchery caught his first TD of the season and went over 100 yards receiving after flirting with it the past two weeks. Cotchery has done a nice job filling in as the team’s top wideout.
Chris Johnson didn’t have quite the same success that he did last week against Houston, but he still put up 97 yards rushing. In shades of 2008, Lendale White vultured a red zone touchdown from Johnson, though he hasn’t done this as much as it was predicted he would.
The Jets’ defense held Tennessee’s offense in check, as the rookie Kenny Britt was the Titans' leading receiving with just 59 yards. Nate Washington hauled in a touchdown for the second straight week, but only had 25 yards receiving.
To put it simply, New York’s defense could be for real this year.
New Orleans Saints 27, Buffalo Bills 7
The good news for the Buffalo Bills is they were the first defense to slow down Drew Brees. The bad news is they forgot about Pierre Thomas.
Thomas put up 126 yards rushing with two TDs. Our first glimpse of him in 2009 and he gave his owners a big sigh of relief. Now, he just needs to stay healthy, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see Mike Bell return to get his piece of the action once he’s healthy.
Despite Brees' struggles Marques Colston recorded 67 yards receiving to turn in a decent fantasy day. They can’t all be huge days for 16 games, folks.
The guy who is really shaking his head right now is Terrell Owens, who was held without a catch today. This shouldn’t happen to a receiver the caliber of Owens. I’m going to blast the panic flag here on Owens. I was one of the optimistic ones for Owens, but so far in 2009, going to Buffalo has seemed like a big mistake.
In his final performance before he has to make way for Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson posted 71 yards rushing without a touchdown. Still, I think it’s safe to say that Jackson will remain a part of the Billls’ offense for the time being.
Chicago Bears 25, Seattle Seahawks 19
The Seattle Seahawks almost pulled off the victory without Matt Hasselbeck, but Jay Cutler was just too good for the Hawks today. Cutler threw for 247 yards with three touchdowns. Cutler appears to be getting things together with his receivers and he finally connected with Greg Olsen for their first long-awaited TD of the year.
Matt Forte produced 100 total yards, but still hasn’t scored a touchdown. He was supposed to have a big day today and really didn’t. He came close to a score, but then he fumbled, and even after the challenge went in the Chicago Bears’ favor, he still got denied the end zone on the next play.
That’s three lackluster performances in a row for a top-three overall pick. Sophomore jinx?
Nate Burleson apparently doesn’t need Hasselbeck to please his owners. Burleson went over 100 yards receiving. Julius Jones continues to be what I would consider a bit of a pleasant fantasy surprise. He posted 98 yards on the ground and caught a touchdown, as well.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Everybody’s been drinking the Santonio Holmes kool-aid, but a week after dropping a touchdown, Holmes follows that performance with one catch for 18 yards.
I realize everybody has their quiet games, but for how much everybody expected out of Holmes, that’s not too good. I’m not saying people who have Holmes need to panic in the least, I’m just saying he has consistency issues.
Who is Mike Wallace? Well the Cincinnati Bengals got to know him today, as he caught seven balls for 102 yards. You might want to get to know him too if you play in a deep league.
For how difficult it is to run on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cedric Benson managed 76 yards on the ground with a touchdown. Benson continues to impress, and you can give him a bigger fantasy boost since he has no RBBC.
Speaking of running backs, Willie Parker put together 93 yards on the ground and caught a touchdown. The Pittsburgh Steelers hope that trend continues; owners of Holmes and Ward should not.
Denver Broncos 23, Oakland Raiders 3
The following game recap will feature nothing on the Oakland Raiders simply because there isn’t much to say about their poor offensive performance today. When your QB only throws for 61 yards and your leading rusher has 45 yards without a touchdown, there really aren’t any positives you can take away from a game like that.
Fortunately for Darren McFadden owners, he gets the Houston Texans next week.
Now, as for the Denver Broncos, Brandon Marshall finally got in on the action, snagging five catches for 67 yards with a score. However, Eddie Royal had just one catch for four yards…panic.
The ground game was working nicely for the Broncos, with Correll Buckhalter going over the century mark and Knowshon Moreno coming close to 100 rushing yards and recording a touchdown. Moreno had seven more carries than Buckhalter and took a huge stride towards becoming the team’s featured back.
San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins 13
The Wildcat was working at the outset of Sunday’s game, and Ronnie Brown ended up with 75 yards on the ground. Brown also had 40 receiving yards.
But it was Ricky Williams who secured the Miami Dolphins’ rushing touchdown. As much as Brown runs the Wildcat in Miami, Williams isn’t going anywhere.
As if the Dolphins' receiving corps didn’t look like fantasy stars already, Chad Pennington got hurt in this game and Chad Henne looked awful.
Philip Rivers posted 300 yards passing once again and ran in for a score, as well.
Darren Sproles was only able to manage 41 yards rushing. He’s still not a sure-fire fantasy bet. However, somebody who is becoming a fantasy stud more and more each week is Vincent Jackson. He didn’t get in the end zone for the first time this season, but he still collected 120 receiving yards. Jackson is off to a tremendous start in 2009 and is a must-start.
Indianapolis Colts 31, Arizona Cardinals 10
This game was supposed to be a shootout, and on one side it was indeed that.
Peyton Manning had a phenomenal game, throwing four touchdowns to four different receivers and racking up 379 passing yards. Reggie Wayne had 126 yards receiving with a score as he continues to cement himself as one of the league’s elite receivers.
On the flip side, Kurt Warner did not look like a quarterback who played in the Super Bowl last year. While Warner threw for 332 yards, he had two interceptions compared to one touchdown.
Anquan Boldin seems to be back to his old self, catching Warner’s one TD and garnering 83 receiving yards. Steve Breaston also just missed hitting the century mark.
The most alarming part of this game was how poorly the Arizona Cardinals ran the ball. For how much the Indianapolis Colts were giving up on the ground game in the first two weeks, Tim Hightower and even Beanie Wells should have been able to put up better rushing yards than a combined 20 between the two of them.
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*THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY JIMBO JONES*