Andy Dalton, Bengals
We can forgive Dalton for a subpar opening week performance against the Ravens but he has been on fire over the last two weeks, dismantling both the Browns and the Redskins. While neither team has an above average secondary and the Browns were without Joe Haden, Dalton’s numbers were still impressive, as he passed for over 300 yards and threw for three touchdowns in each game. Up next – Jaguars (21st ranked pass defense), Dolphins, (28th) and the Browns again (26th).
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
While the Packers skill position players have not played as well as they did in 2011, partly due to injuries, the real issue with Rodgers is the team’s offensive line, which is in shambles. And nobody is even hurt. Who knows – maybe center Jeff Saturday is having trouble with the line calls. Eight sacks to Seattle is a disgrace even if the Seahawks possess one of the league’s better (maybe best) defensive backfields. With just three touchdown passes and 745 passing yards over three games, Rodgers is currently the 23rd ranked fantasy quarterback, not what his owners had in mind, although his next two matchups look sweet (dating myself here) with the Saints and Colts up next.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions
I tried to steal this guy in a couple of leagues last week but the asking price was too high. And it just went up, courtesy of his 26 carries, 100 yards, and one touchdown on the ground this week against the Titans. Leshoure also displayed some pass catching ability, hauling in all four of his targets for 34 yards. Will he get 30 touches every week? Not a chance. But he did prove that he doesn’t need a pile of touches to rack up a decent point total. Leshoure looks like a decent RB2 from here on out.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
He’s back!!!!! But not for long if the Chiefs give him 33 carries every week.
Tashard Choice, Bills
C.J. Spiller is likely out with a sprained shoulder and Fred Jackson (knee injury) says there is a 75% chance that he will play. Let’s take that bet and go on the assumption that he won’t dress. That would make Choice the starter and he was solid against the Browns, rushing for 91 yards on 20 carries. Choice is also a solid pass catcher so even if the Bills get behind against the Patriots, he figures to get plenty of touches… provided he starts.
Andre Brown, Giants
Hello, Andre Brown! Subbing in for an injured Ahmad Bradshaw, Brown did his best Jim Brown impersonation, running roughshod over an overmatched Panthers defense last Thursday night. By game’s end, Brown had chalked up 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns on his 20 carries as well as logging three receptions for 17 yards. Sure, the Panthers D probably couldn’t have tackled a Pop Warner reject in this one and the Giants offensive line was dominant but Brown did enough to earn a share of the workload going forward. We all know Bradshaw is injury prone, rookie 1st round pick David Wilson has been a disappointment and the Giants formula in the past has been to use multiple backs.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Looks like Reggie Bush will miss some time with a knee injury and Thomas played well this week against the Jets, gaining 69 yards and scoring the first rushing touchdown of his career in the Dolphins 23-20 loss. A lost fumble didn’t help his cause but he moved ahead of rookie 4th round pick Lamar Miller on the depth chart and is the odds on favorite to get the start this week against the Cardinals if Bush can’t go.
Bilal Powell, Jets
Powell had the most extensive work of his two-year career against the Dolphins, gaining 69 yards on 12 touches. With Joe McKnight buried on the depth chart and Shonn Greene not much of a receiving threat, Powell had five targets in the passing game and may be nudging the Jets into a timeshare situation with Greene. Or maybe they reduced Greene’s workload due to the concussion he suffered last week. Either way, Powell is worth a look if you have a bench spot open.
Chris Johnson, Titans
Moving Down three weeks in a row. The funny thing is that I’m not even bitter about his pathetic performance since I refused to own him in any of my leagues this year. This is just a bit of a hate on for guys who get their money and bust and guys who won’t man up for their poor performance. CJ2K (time to replace that nickname, folks) fails on both counts.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Last week, we put Ryan Williams Moving Down and that didn’t work out so well. Williams got the majority of the work this week against the Eagles and played well, gaining 83 yards on 13 carries and catching one pass for 12 yards. Wells (turf toe) can’t stay healthy and he hasn’t produced when he’s been in there. Expect this backfield to be in flux for most of 2012.
Kevin Smith, Lions
I’m dropping in here for the second week in a row just so I can provide myself with an opportunity to say I told you so to a few people who were calling me out on having Moving Down last week. Petty, yes. With Mikel Leshoure in the line up for the first time ever, Smith was unceremoniously benched this week and given no touches. Joique Bell backed up Leshoure and unless there is an injury, Smith appears to be firmly planted on the bench and likely out of a job if Jahvid Best returns at some point this season.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Just a little reminder that the Patriots never employ a workhorse back and there will be days like this. As in, 13 carries for Ridley for 37 yards and precious little playing time in the second half when the team went no huddle. Ridley should be a solid RB3 by season’s end but not without some hiccups along the way.
Torrey Smith, Ravens
Unless you just came out of your cave, you know what I’m talking about. Heavy heart and all and Smith is the week’s top rated fantasy receiver with six receptions for 127 yards and a pair of scores.
Ramses Barden, Giants
Meet the Giants new top backup wide receiver. With Hakeem Nicks out of the lineup and the Panthers focused on shutting down Victor Cruz, Barden went wild, catching nine of his 10 targets for 138 yards. The Giants throw it enough to support three wide receivers and it looks like Barden is finally realizing the potential that he has shown since being a 3rd round pick in the 2009 draft. Nicks owners should definitely get in on the Barden action.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
Two games, 18 targets, eight receptions, 112 yards and a score. With Darrius Heyward-Bey out for an indefinite period with a concussion and Moore getting on the same page with quarterback Carson Palmer, his fantasy prospects are on the rise.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
You know, there is a line drawn somewhere in time when a player who was supposed to become something big becomes exactly what he is. It feels like Dez Bryant is about to hit that line. What he could become was always thought to be something elite. What he is right now is a guy who will score some touchdowns but doesn’t seem capable of even topping 1,000 yards. This year, Bryant’s on pace for 875 yards and he has failed to score.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks
The Seahawks are on pace to throw for 2,315 yards in 2012. Since they spread their targets around like peanut butter, Rice has just 15 looks this season, including one in Week 3.
Greg Little, Browns
Head coach Pat Shurmur says Little is on a short leash due to his propensity for dropping passes. Let’s hope you’ve had Little on a leash (as in, on your bench) thus far in 2012.
Mike Williams, Buccaneers
Yes, he has scored two touchdowns but I’m guessing that he’s not going to keep scoring at a 7:1 target to touchdown ratio. I will do the math for you. That is 14 targets on the season. Seven receptions for 104 yards. More math – 34.7 yards per game. The resurrection of Mike Williams is looking less likely as the weeks go by.
Santana Moss, Redskins
It’s officially official. The Redskins have moved on from Moss, as his target total suggests (11 on the season).
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
While Rudolph has yet to emerge as a down the field option for the Vikings, he has become a solid red zone option, hauling in three touchdowns over the past two weeks. With no proven threat opposite Percy Harvin, Rudolph looks good going forward and no, I’m not worried about the imminent return of the immortal Jerome Simpson.
Jason Witten, Cowboys
What’s wrong with Witten? The normally reliable Dallas tight end entered the season still healing from a spleen injury but has managed to catch just six of 16 targets over the past two games for a paltry 64 yards. Witten says he is healthy but you have to wonder given his low production in 2012. It might just be that some combination of injuries and age are finally catching up to the Cowboys likely Hall of Fame tight end.