Cleveland 16, Baltimore 23
Quarterback Brandon Weeden is making strides in his rookie season, finishing Thursday Night's game with 320 passing yards. Like all young quarterbacks, Weeden is still making rookie mistakes as evident by staring down his wide receiver on a 3rd-and-5 causing a pick-six to Ravens cornerback Carey Williams. Although Weeden has zero fantasy value, his elevated play could very well render a Browns wide receiver viable by season's end.
The ongoing question is "which of the Browns wide receivers could emerge as a fantasy starter?" Early in this contest Greg Little was looking like a waiver addition. Through the first three weeks of the season Little has been targeted just over six times per game, but plagued by drops allowing a league high 11 passes to slip thorugh his fingers. Little again found it difficult to hang onto the football dropping a very catchable touchdown in a tight ballgame with time ticking down. Little remains on our "watch list", but is not yet worthy of a roster spot until he can rectify these issues.
Trent Richardson put together another solid game considering the stout Ravens defense. Richardson is proving worth the 2nd round pick fantasy owners spent to draft the star running back.
Torrey Smith gave fantasy owners an early season scare after being absent from the Ravens passing game in weeks one and two. With 20 targets over the past two games totaling 224 yards and three touchdowns Smith is now a lineup lock.
Joe Flacco is slowly emerging as a fantasy option in the Ravens new high octane offense climbing up to become a mid/low QB1.
In typical Anquan Boldin fashion he is delivering one good game every three weeks. His lack of consistency is unnerving and hard to rely on as a weekly starter. Consider Boldin is a spot start when the Ravens have a softer defensive matchup.
Carolina 28, Atlanta 30
As a member of my preseason sleeper list, I was starting feel like a donkey for recommending Greg Olsen in the later rounds. However, Olsen has redeemed himself the past two weeks finally getting into the end zone along with 89 yards receiving in his matchup with the Falcons. Olsen should be viewed as a low end TE1 moving forward.
Cam Newton, who has been slow start to the season, received a strong vote of confidence with a stat line that included 215 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 86 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He is impossible to bench unless you have amazing depth at the quarterback position (ie; Big Ben or Griffin III).
With Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup, both he and DeAngelo Williams had nearly identical carries. This week it was D-Will scoring the touchdown as the RBBC is alive and well in Carolina. Hard to recommend any Carolina running back.
Matt Ryan is a stud and Roddy White is the security blanket when things get tough. However, most puzzling is the up-and-down performance of Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. Targeted eight times, Jones only managed one catch for 30 yards. No way this trend continues as Jones could be a "buy low" at the right price.
Aging Michael Turner ripped through the paper thin Carolina run defense accumulating 171 total yards and one touchdown. Moral of the story, start your running backs facing the Panthers.
New England 52, Buffalo 28
Quickly falling behind 21-7, the first half of this game was filled with uncharacteristic mistakes from the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski had a fumble along with three early drops. Welker even put the ball on the ground and normally rock solid kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed two makeable field goals. But in the end talent prevailed as all major players on the Patriots offense ended the game with solid fantasy point production including; Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd.
Stevan Ridley owners were also rewarded with 106 yards and two touchdowns. But talk round the Monday morning water cooler will be "who the heck is Brandon Bolden?" After a long history of an RBBC, Bill Belichick is again utilizing a two-headed attack as rookie running back Brandon Bolden took 16 carries totaling 137 yards and one touchdown. If you are doing the math, that's 8.6 yards per carry as Bolden went beast mode through the Bills defensive line. Ridley owners should be worried as Bolden has now entrenched himself as a partner in the backfield, including sharing goal line looks. As for Bolden, he is most certainly worth adding and now is a must handcuff for Ridley owners.
As predicted, the Patriots made it a point to shut down the Bills strongest weapon, Steve Johnson. That forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to find other options as Fitzpatrick obliged, tossing four touchdowns including two scores to tight end Scott Chandler. Targeted eight times in this game Chandler remains a mid/low TE1 as the Bills lone red zone player.
Much of the talk throughout the week has been "who will start in the Bills backfield with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller ailing from injury?" To our surprise, both suited up and saw action. Although neither was all that impressive, Jackson looks to be the lead horse with 13 carries to Spiller's eight. Let the RBBC ensue along with our confusion of who to rely on in our starting lineups.
Minnesota 20, Detroit 13
Percy Harvin opened the game with a kick return for a touchdown. In the early minutes of the third quarter it was Marcus Sherels adding a punt return for a touchdown. In-between it was all Adrian Peterson as the Vikings rode their franchise player to a nearly unchallenged victory.
For those wondering, Jerome Simpson was a part of the game plan being targeted five times, reeling in four catches for 50 yards. Simpson is now a mid WR4 and climbing.
The Lions were once again outplayed and outcoached. This time by the Minnesota defense who did a phenomenal job shutting down the whole Detroit passing offense including Calvin Johnson for much of the game. What has happened to that high-flying Detroit offense?
After a breakout performance last week fantasy owners are likely frustrated with the regression of Mikel Leshoure against what appears to be a very beatable Vikings defensive line. The fact is the Vikings are currently ranked 2nd in points allowed to running backs behind the 49ers. I wouldn't overreact to this game as Leshoure's fantasy appeal is still along the lines a mid RB2.
The stat line will show Joique Bell leading the team in receiving yards. Do not be confused as Bell was brought in late in the game when the Vikings were in "prevent coverage" eliminating the downfield threat of Megatron. Bell should remain on the waiver wire.
San Diego 37, Kansas City 20
The highlight of this game was the outstanding play of the Chargers defense which took the ball away from the Chiefs five times in the first half. Building a commanding lead the Chargers went in to cruise control coasting to an easy win.
The player to monitor exiting this contest is backup running back Jackie Battle. Last week's headlines coming from San Diego had general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner frustrated with Mathews ongoing fumbling issues, especially down near the stripe. The Chargers responded by splitting carries evenly between Battle and Mathews, but also giving Battle the goal line looks. He responded in a big way finding the end zone twice. As the backup to an injury prone starter with fumbling issues, Battle will certainly be a hot waiver pickup this week, a near must add if you own Mathews. Just remember, Mathews is the more explosive player as the Chargers want him to take control of the starting role.
Certain teams are easy to surmise and the Chiefs are one of them. Three things Kansas City does every week is; 1) run the football with Jamaal Charles, 2) fall behind on the scoreboard and 3) throw the ball to Dwayne Bowe. Charles finished the game with 92 yards rushing and a touchdown while Bowe added 108 yards and a score of his own. The only other player worth owning is Peyton Hillis, just barely.
Seattle 13, St. Louis 19
I'm a Seahawks fan so this game is easy for me to evaluate. Nothing new in Seattle; Marshawn Lynch is a beast, the passing game is stagnant and the defense is overwhelming. From a fantasy standpoint, this is the most predictable team in football.
Listed as "questionable" all week with a groin injury, Steven Jackson suited up and started the game. Facing a stiff Seattle rush defense Jackson actually played "well", despite his meager 67 yard production. S-Jax owners should feel confident that he played the entire game, exiting with no further injury. I suggest we view Jackson as a very low-end RB2 with a stiff Arizona rush defense up next.
Danny Amendola remains the only viable Rams wide receiver worth rostering. However, rookie Brian Quick, who has been a healthy scratch through the opening three weeks, finally saw his first action of the season. Certainly not worth a roster spot just yet, he is a physical specimen and now a member of our "watch list" as his targets begin to climb.
San Francisco 34, New York 0
This was an old fashion butt-kicking as the San Fran defense made this game very, very easy for the offense. When that happens the winning team usually finds great success on the ground as evident by the 245 rushing yards from the 49ers with three different players punching in a touchdown via the run. On the flip side, the aerial attack never needed to take flight as Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis were left grounded.
Also getting into the act was second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who tacked on 50 yards rushing including a seven yard touchdown. He could have scored a second but instead chose to hook slide on the one yard line allowing the 49ers to assume the victory formation.
I'm not one to brag when my predictions come true, but entering the season I suggested we...