Matt Ryan, Falcons
Okay, this one’s obvious but there was a lack of suitable candidates so this is recognizing that Ryan is the real deal as a fantasy starter. The Falcons are chucking it plenty even when they play soft run defenses, putting Ryan on pace to throw for over 4,500 yards and 44 touchdowns. That’s upper tier QB1 territory.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Seven picks and three lost fumbles and we’re only four games into the season. If Cassel continues to be a turnover machine and the Chiefs continue their losing ways (currently sitting 1-3), it won’t be long before Cassel finds himself riding the pine.
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
Gabbert has had his moments this season but it said a lot when he couldn’t produce this week against a Bengals secondary that was missing its four top cornerbacks. With Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Dre Kirkpatrick and Jason Allen out, Gabbert threw for just 186 yards. After a solid performance in Week 1 against the Vikings, Gabbert has thrown for 394 yards over Jacksonville’s last three games. That type of production will have him heading to the bench at some point in 2012.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Opposing defenses are forcing Detroit to march the ball down the field and the Lions and Stafford have not adjusted. With just three touchdown passes on the season, Stafford is going to have to have a monster performance over the final 12 games to match the 41 touchdown passes he threw in 2011. That seems unlikely.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said this week that backup Matt Flynn won’t start because his elbow isn’t ready to handle a full week of practice. That doesn’t mean Wilson won’t be on a short leash during this week’s matchup against the Panthers.
Chris Johnson, Titans
He’s alive! Sure – it was in a blowout loss. But Johnson looked good, gaining 141 yards on 25 carries against the Texans. CJ2K is probably still a buy low but not quite as bad as he was last week when I was offered his services for Darren Sproles and declined.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Steelers have averaged a very un-Steeler like 65 yards per game on the ground with Mendenhall out of the lineup. He’s apparently ready and he vaults to the top of the team’s depth chart at running back provided he is healthy. Look for that to happen this week.
Branden Bolden, Patriots
With 137 yards and a touchdown this week on just 16 carries, Bolden has to be Moving Up. Will he be joining my roster in any of the leagues that I am in? Probably not. Let’s remember that Danny Woodhead was claimed in many leagues based on the 16 touches he had in Week 3 and this week he touched the ball twice.
Michael Turner, Falcons
Sell high, folks! When a former stud running back who can’t catch the ball has seen his role decrease to the point where he is getting 15 touches a game pads his point total with a 60 yard touchdown pass, the first of his nine-year career, against a sad sack defense and notches 23 points on the day, you thank the fantasy gods and sell high.
Ryan Williams, Cardinals
When the Cardinals placed Chris Wells on injured reserve, everybody went gaga over Williams. But you didn’t see him Moving Up last week, did ya? Outside of Williams chalking up some garbage time points against the Eagles in Week 3 (seven rushes for 62 yards in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals blow out win), he’s been nothing short of awful. Take away the garbage time points and Williams has rushed 69 yards on 37 carries. No, that’s not a typo. Touchdowns – zero. Receiving yards – 39.
Darren McFadden, Raiders
It has been tough sledding thus far in 2012 for Run-DMC, as he has failed to top 2.6 yards per carry in three of his four games. There has been plenty of speculation as to whether the team’s new blocking scheme is to blame but really, does it matter when he’s averaging 9.3 FPts/G, a far cry from the 15.3 he put up in 2011.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
He’s averaging 3.9 yards a pop on the season and just 2.6 over his last three games. His receiving chops are helping out (16 for 114 on the season) but if the Cowboys offensive line doesn’t improve, Murray is clearly headed for RB2 status.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers
It’s a timeshare for the time being in San Diego with Mathews splitting carries with the legendary Jackie Battle. And no, Mathews isn’t the one getting the goal line looks.
Doug Martin, Bucs
Martin’s lackluster performance over the past three weeks (3.2 yards per carry) resulted in LeGarrette Blount getting his most extensive work of the season this past week, including some goal line carries.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Moving Down one week. Moving Up the next. Sure – he dropped a ton of balls but he also showed us on Monday night just how good he can be if he ever gets rid of the concentration lapses. Bryant caught eight of 13 targets for 105 yards but he could have come close to 200 yards without the drops.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Who knew Hartline was this good? Not me, that’s for sure. After failing to top 100 receiving yards during his first 45 games in the league, Hartline has topped the century mark twice in the last three weeks, including his 12-reception, 253-yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Cardinals. Let’s not go overboard here but I’m ready to make the call that Hartline is a mid-tier to low end WR3 over the balance of the season.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals
Four games, four touchdowns for Roberts to go along with 15 receptions for 229 yards. The Cardinals like Roberts although this Moving Up is tempered by the knowledge that rookie 1st round pick Michael Floyd was targeted eight times this week.
Domenik Hixon, Giants
I guess after Hixon’s six-reception, 114-yard performance this week it is safe to conclude that Ramses Barden isn’t the Giants third wide receiver after all.
Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
It appears that Robinson suffered his second concussion of the season this week. Not good.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants
Can’t seem to get healthy.
Greg Jennings, Packers
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Our preseason preview made note of the fact that Olsen was AWOL from the Panthers offense for the last few games of the 2011 season. That’s ancient history. With 21 targets over the last two games and 31 on the season, Olsen has emerged as a lower tier TE1. Better yet, he’s on a roll over his last two games with 13 receptions for 187 yards and a score.
Jermichael Finley, Packers
Seriously, folks. Will Finley ever break out? He had another okay game this week catching four of his five targets (the third week in a row that has happened) for a ho-hum 54 yards. With Greg Jennings sidelined, Finley’s owners need to ask themselves why he hasn’t been a bigger part of the Packers offense and whether it’s time to see what they can get for the talented yet enigmatic Green Bay tight end, who is on pace to finish the season with 748 receiving yards and four touchdowns.