Welcome to Week 3 of Tuesday Morning Buzz! The NFL once again delivered with an absolute fireworks show of a weekend. We’ve got a lot to talk about, so let’s jump right in.
Patkowskis – Bills
This win can be attributed mostly to the many Tom Brady picks, which were mostly the fault of the Patriots and not indicative of a great Buffalo secondary. Even so, how ‘bout them Buffalo Bills? They looked great in the second half of this game, and yours truly has been touting Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson since last year. It seems that many forgot how easily the Bills lit up the scoreboard in 2010. Now, I don’t believe the Bills will maintain the lead of the AFC East, and I think it will be extremely hard for them to make the playoffs in this division, but they are quickly becoming this year’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As they will likely do all season long, the Patriots continued their Kowski love on Sunday (despite releasing the other Gronkowski brother earlier in the week). Unless it’s the Patriot’s D/ST, I’m not flinching on any of the ownables. I’m good with any of the Patriots’ value right where they were drafted, and one loss to an emotional Buffalo team at home is not enough to scare me away.
Panthers – Jaguars
Cam Newton may have crashed back to fantasy earth, but Maurice Jones-Drew continues to simmer in fantasy hell. I mean, overall, is there a worse team in the league than the Jacksonville Jaguars? Want to bring up the Kansas City Chiefs? I would wager that the Chiefs would beat the Jaguars on a neutral field by a field goal—even with the stunning Jamaal Charles on IR. Jacksonville fans are hoping Blaine Gabbert gets comfortable quickly and makes the Jags an NFL team again.
49ers – Bengals
This game is tough to comment on. It was very boring and uneventful. To be honest, the only fantasy-draftable position I want from either of these teams is the San Francisco D/ST. Even then, it’s only a matchup play. As I always say, I want fantasy players on teams with their arrow pointing up. I’d rather have someone from the Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, or Raiders than any Bengal or 49er. That includes even A.J. Green, despite his early success as a rookie.
Dolphins – Browns
During the lockout, I made a bet that Miami would be the worst team in the NFL by season’s end. They had been playing with a chip on their shoulder and proving me wrong before this week. Against Cleveland, however, the Dolphins looked exactly as I thought they would coming into the season. A one-point loss to the putrid Browns is exactly how a team with a bad attitude and a low talent level performs. The Dolphins have changed my mind somewhat, but they need to keep Marshall involved in every play if they want to get even six wins this year.
As for the Browns, I have no faith in any of these guys. In a standard league, I can’t imagine starting any of them. Maybe I’d suffer if I left Peyton Hillis on my bench, but the Browns are simply the stalest team in the NFL. I sure hope those draft picks play better than Julio Jones.
Lions – Vikings
Is it possible that Calvin Johnson is even more fantastic than Andre Johnson? I had never been able to nab Megatron in a fantasy draft until this year, and he has rewarded me by picking up points by the truckload. All your Lions are firing on all cylinders right now, but you have to watch out for teams that are making their money in consecutive fourth-quarter comeback wins. Truly good teams don’t always have to come back in the fourth quarter to win.
The Vikings, on the other hand, are in the habit of starting quick then wearing out. I don’t want to be anywhere near a Viking not named Adrian Peterson. Minnesota is also the recipient of my favorite hyper-specific stat of the week, “The first team to lose the first three games of the season after leading by double digits at halftime in each consecutive game.” That type of stat cannot continue to persist. My money is on the Vikings breaking both sides of that stat this week by beating the Chiefs in a close one.
The Color Silver
On Sunday, the Lions had the ball with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter. They start at their own 20 yard line in the shotgun formation, and they’re ready to let Stafford win them a football game. Unfortunately, Jeff Backus commits two silly false starts back to back. It’s awfully hard to let Stafford throw winning passes when you can’t hike the ball without moving back five yards. On their third attempt at the first down, now first and 20, Stafford gets sacked. After giving up and calling two conservative runs, the Lions have now successfully forced their own punt. The Lions are a great offense, but they have to get out of their own way if they really want to be seen as a contender.
It seems to me that there is a tie between the color silver and silly penalties. For example, the Raiders are nearly always among the most penalized teams. This year silver has particularly dominated the total penalties category with the Raiders (1), Panthers (8), Patriots (10), and Lions (15) all in the top 15. Heading into Monday night, the Cowboys are 25th overall, but I have no doubt they will go back to their old ways soon enough.
Texans – Saints
It is ok to settle for a field goal sometimes. Especially if you have a fantastic kicker or are capitalizing on a turnover, I have no problem with being forced to take the occasional field goal. However, anytime your red zone trips result in more field goals than touchdowns, especially against a searing-hot offense like the Saints, you are asking to lose. In Week 1, the Saints lost a close one by kicking field goals while the Packers scored touchdowns. This week, the Texans did the kicking and lost in an eerily similar game.
The Saints played exactly as they were expected to, and all of those who passed on Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark to pick Jimmy Graham in the 12th round are being rewarded. After the freak-accident touchdown that Kevin Walter scored, I wrote in my notebook “I wonder how many players will pick up Kevin Walter this week.” My next note? “Wow! I wonder how many players will pick up Lance Moore this week!”
As for the Texans, between the 20s they looked as good as any elite QB-WR combo can look. Tight end Owen Daniels, much ignored in the offseason, also proved why he deserves to be in your lineup each week. They lacked execution in the red zone, but just as the Saints couldn’t be too upset with a close loss to the Packers at Lambeau, the Texans can’t be too worked up about this loss. Start your Texans and Saints no matter the matchup each week.
Eagles – Giants
So much for the defense taking the Eagles to the Superbowl. I, along with everyone else, believe that the Eagles have a great offense that can take them deep in the playoffs if Vick can stay upright. However, I recall many colleagues who were certain that the free agency acquisitions of this team cemented them in the Superbowl. Three weeks in, they were allowing Eli Manning to put up some of his best single-game passing numbers fresh off a disgusting performance against a St. Louis defense that was simultaneously getting swiss-cheesed by Joe Flacco.
We now know that Michael Vick had a contusion in his non-throwing hand and may or may not play next Sunday. However, the original understanding was that his hand was fractured. When this was the report, Vick was sitting on the sidelines with what looked like a full inch of swelling on top of his knuckles. The report from the Eagles was that Vick was “doubtful to return after breaking hand.” This doubtful tag seemed absurd, as there appeared to be no way he would re-enter the game. Has anyone ever returned after being declared doubtful in the third quarter? Was this an attempt at subterfuge by the coaching staff? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Broncos – Titans
The Broncos, a la the Seahawks and the Browns, are pretty lackluster right now. This isn’t even a discussion on W-L records but just on overall play, demeanor, and star power. It appears to only be a matter of time now before Tebow is put in to quell the cries of the fanbase in Denver. The bigger story, however, is how Orton’s contract situation will be handled. He is in the final year of his deal, and if the Broncos don’t get some wins, or at least some encouraging stats, they won’t bring him back. Just when you thought the quarterback situation in Mile High couldn’t get any muddier…
Jets – Raiders
Is it possible that Al Davis was actually making genius moves all this time that we’ve been accusing him of making draft selections from beyond the dead? I mean, JaMarcus Russell failed, but the rest of the Raiders are looking pretty good right now as Darren McFadden leads the league in rushing thanks to a great team effort.
The Jets are really very similar to the Raiders in makeup. They both have game-managing quarterbacks who can let their playmakers win the game. The Jets have a better defense, but I’m sure they would love to have a running back like Run DMC in their backfield. Surprisingly, LT is not getting too much attention despite his impressive stats. I don’t think he can keep it up, just as he couldn’t last year, but I am surprised there isn’t more hubbub about him this week.
Chiefs – Chargers
I was asked this week if I would select the Chargers at home by a margin of 14.5 in a Pick ‘Ems game. I advised, “The Chiefs have allowed 40+ points in both games this year and have struggled to get to double digits in both games. However, it’s early and the Chargers are silly enough to keep this one close. I’ll take the Chiefs.” Sure enough, the Chargers made the Chiefs look respectable and kept this one close to the end. In fantasy, however, the Chargers have been performing well as a team in comparison to their recent slow-start years.
As for the Chiefs, you probably have to start Bowe if you drafted him, but otherwise there isn’t a single player on this team that deserves to be on your roster. As is apparently becoming my motto this season, you’re better off taking David Nelson, the big man out of Buffalo, than Dexter McCluster of the Chiefs. McCluster is more talented, but his team and offense aren’t able to exploit his ability.
Ravens – Rams
This week, I put Joe Flacco on my bench with the logic that Ryan Fitzpatrick was likely to be involved in a shootout and that the Rams had previously held Eli Manning and Michael Vick to unrealistically low point totals. At the end of the first slate of games, I felt pretty good about my decision. However, Flacco came in and threw so effectively he almost doubled Fitzpatrick’s stats. Torrey Smith should be the top waiver-wire pickup this week, though keep in mind that his best game of the season is already in the books. The Ravens appear to be a little feast-or-famine, but Smith in good matchups could be a great flex play.
As for the Rams, they’ve been everything their detractors imagined. In a season where the Lions and Bills appear to be contenders for their divisions, the Rams are fourth in the weakest division in football. I love Sam Bradford, and I think these Rams will be a great football team, but watch for them to add another receiver or two before Bradford and company put up the numbers needed to make them draftable.
Packers – Bears
Green Bay won this game 27-17 because of the ineffectiveness of the Bears’ offense. The Packers threw it up and down the field in short passes, as per the blueprint drawn up by the Saints last week. However, at different intervals, they would decide to simply run up the middle three times into a stout Bears D-line and get stuffed. I understand staying balanced and I wholeheartedly agree. But if you are blowing up the short passing game, you don’t then elect to get stuffed at the line of scrimmage on three consecutive downs and expect to have the game in hand. As for the run game itself, Grant by far had the better day, but that was because of the defensive play of the Bears and had little to do with the runners. This is still a 50/50 split.
Luckily for the Packers, Cutler and the Bears’ passing attack were determined to keep themselves out of the game. Cutler’s playmaking ability was as absent in this game as he is from that Bears’ Play 60 commercial. Speaking of that, one of my favorite things about that commercial is how unrecognizable the Chicago players are. Where are the stars? Do you think they even asked Cutler? The kids probably would’ve booed the poor guy off the bus after this game!
Here’s a stat line for you: In the third quarter, Cutler went 2-10 for 19 yards. One of those two completions was to Matt Forte who ran it out for nine yards. Those numbers are JaMarcus Russell-esque. I really don’t mean to hate on Cutler, I hope he does well, and I have faith that he can someday turn his game around and be successful. For better or worse, though, he is always going to be the measure of his team.
Cardinals – Seahawks
There is nothing to be gleaned from this performance. Both teams are playing poorly this year, and both proved that even against another bad team they’re still not good. Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Kolb (by virtue of Larry Fitzgerald), are the only players on either team I want to own in fantasy leagues this year.
Falcons – Buccaneers
The Falcons and Buccaneers played an all-guts-no-glory football game in the trenches in Tampa on Sunday. Both of these teams are heavy run-first offenses with great quarterbacks and receivers in relief. But this Sunday, it was the youth of the Buccaneers’ offense that prevailed. When this matchup is played in Atlanta, it will likely be the Falcons’ experience and big-play potential that will win it. When the Falcons play at home, don’t worry about your starters. However, when they’re on the road, you might have to hold your breath a little bit.
Steelers – Colts
With 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter, I wrote in my notebook, “The Colts are WINNING!” Their much-maligned defense looked for real, with something to prove. I wonder if they can keep it up after relishing in their glory this week.
As for the Steelers, they looked disorganized and hurt for the second time in three weeks. I’m willing to write off the Week 1 loss as their being in the way of a raring-to-go Ravens team. In Week 2, they shut out a miserable Seahawks team that had to travel multiple time zones to Pittsburgh. Now, this week, the Steelers eked out a win against a Colts team that is missing their ad hoc head coach and play caller. All teams have low and high points of the season, but if the Steelers have another bad game in proximity to these two, they’re really going to lose a lot of steam.
On a side note, how did Indy win that Superbowl bid? They had to show a live landing at the airport just because there is nothing else there!
Redskins – Cowboys
Unlike going up against the Saints or Packers, if you kick only field goals against the Washington Redskins, you may just come out with a victory. A very banged-up and disorganized Cowboys team (four, count ‘em, four bad snaps!) meandered toward the end zone and made six of seven field goals for the win.
I’m not thrilled about the Dallas matchup versus Detroit next week, but then the Cowboys have a bye week of which they are in dire need. Perhaps after the bye, if everyone is healthy, we’ll see a great shootout in New England and the Cowboys will be able reward their patient owners with some fantasy greatness. For Redskins owners, you get the Rams next week. Let’s hope Grossman can do his best Joe Flacco impression and win your week for you.
$#^! Chris Collinsworth Says
Chris proved once again why he makes the big bucks on Sunday evening. He finds great ways to send intelligent observations, usually his own, into goofy and sometimes awkward analysis. I can’t imagine John Madden exclaiming, after he realizes that Robert Mathis is being asked to circle to the opposite end of the line before rushing , “Yeah, but this is idiotic here!” And it was idiotic! I’m just not sure that’s how I would’ve presented the information. I wrote in my notebook, “Chris Collinsworth is the Charles Barkley of NFL commentary.”
Bonus: Keyshawn Johnson took a hint from Chris and gave this stunning analysis on the Redskins’ offense: “Let’s not get carried away. There’s a reason he’s Rex Grossman.”