1. Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered his first loss this week, a 31-28 nail-biter against the Rams in St. Louis. Washington had a chance to tie the game but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against wide receiver Josh Morgan pushed the team out of field goal range during the last minute of the contest. RGIII went off on the Rams this week, stating they were unprofessional and took some cheap shots at him. What he is forgetting is that the Rams formula was successful and his complaining about it after the game is only going to reinforce the notion that opposing defenses can get him off his game by playing to the whistle and slightly beyond. The reality is that it should be no surprise that the Rams were going to go after him since the Redskins entire offensive playbook is predicated on his unique set of skills. While the Rams were certainly playing on the edge and keeping with Jeff Fisher’s defensive philosophy from his days in Tennessee, we can be fairly certain that Washington’s offensive coaches apprised RGIII of what to expect during the week leading up to the game.
2. Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was cleared for contact this week, opening up the possibility that he could playing during the team’s Week 3 road game against the Raiders. However, with both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer expected to play and Pittsburgh having a Week 4 bye, look for the Steelers to sit Mendenhall this week and for him to make his 2012 season debut in the team’s Week 5 home game against the Eagles. Neither Redman nor Dwyer have done enough to wrestle the starting roll away from Mendenhall so look for him to see a normal amount of touches by Week 8 or 9, if not earlier.
3. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has had a disappointing start to the season, notching just seven receptions for 102 yards during the Cowboys first two games. While it is clearly too early to give up on the talented Dallas receiver, another disappointing effort against the Bucs and their 29th ranked passing defense just might make the alarm bells starting going off for Bryant owners. His preseason prognosis looked solid with the team seemingly lacking a proven 3rd wide receiver. Although Kevin Ogletree may not end up being a threat to Bryant’s usage, it is worth noting that Bryant is currently on pace to record just 102 targets in 2012, one less than he had in 2011. Also concerning for his owners should be the fact that he has topped 100 receiving yards just once in 29 career games and that was in Week 10 of his rookie season.
4. In Indianapolis, Donnie Avery has quickly made his mark with the Colts, catching 12 of his 18 targets over the team’s first two games for 148 yards and a score. New Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians likes what Avery has brought to the team’s offense as their only true deep threat, making it likely that he will continue to have a role in the team’s offense when fellow wide receiver Austin Collie returns from his latest concussion. The first wide receiver taken in the 2008 draft, Avery flamed out in St. Louis but may have found a home in Indianapolis in 2012. He makes for an intriguing flyer in deeper fantasy leagues.
5. You have to love Titans running back Chris Johnson. A year removed from one of the least inspiring seasons a former 2,000 yard running back has ever had, Johnson is once again struggling in 2012 and apparently laying the blame at the feet of his team’s offensive line. This week, Johnson said he wasn’t to blame for his struggles and that he wouldn’t lay the blame on others. Duh. If Johnson hasn’t performed, and he hasn’t, and he isn’t to blame, then he’s blaming the offensive line. Here’s guessing the Titans offensive line isn’t too impressed by the team’s star running back comments to the press. At this point, Johnson can’t be considered a must start and if you have a decent RB3 on a good matchup, consider putting Johnson on your bench.
6. Is the Giants Ramses Barden the real deal? While he may be a reasonably talented receiver, don’t be surprised if the Giants turn that role over to rookie 2nd round pick Rueben Randle at some point in 2012. Barden’s contract is up at the end of this season and his skill set is very similar to Randle’s. As for veteran journeyman Domenik Hixon, don’t look for him to be a key component of the team’s game planning any time soon.
7. Sticking with the Giants, the Andre Brown feel good story was a nice one and he could be a decent fantasy starter if Ahmad Bradshaw is out for a significant period of time. However, that possibility seems remote and while Brown looked good against the Panthers, it was a night in which the Giants offensive line played extremely well and Carolina’s defensive line and linebackers were mostly going through the motions. A big portion of Brown’s production came after missed tackle and while he gets credit for running hard, he clearly benefitted from a subpar night put in by the Panthers defenders.
8.In Seattle, the Seahawks are sticking to their tried and true offensive formula of pounding the ball and keeping things simple in the passing game. Despite all the hoopla about the playmaking ability of rookie 3rd round pick Russell Wilson, the team has passed the ball just 54 times in two games for 304 yards. While fantasy enthusiasts may look at the numbers and surmise that a change is in order with free agent signee Matt Flynn getting a chance to start, Seahawks management seems committed to developing Wilson as the team’s long-term starter at the position. With Wilson currently ranked 30th among fantasy quarterbacks, he is little more than a prospect in dynasty leagues and his presence is a major negative factor in wide receiver Sidney Rice’s production. With Wilson at the controls, Seattle has just one fantasy roster worthy performer in running back Marshawn Lynch.
9. In case you are wondering who the 31st rated fantasy quarterback is, that would be the Texans Matt Schaub, putting to rest the debate as to whether Houston is truly a run dominant team. Consider Schaub little more than a low end QB2 in 12-team leagues in 2012.