1. With the bye weeks upon us, fantasy owners begin the weekly scramble of finding suitable replacements for their regular starters. In Jacksonville, Cecil Shorts and rookie Ace Sanders figure to be in line for plenty of targets during the Jaguars home game against the Colts. With Justin Blackmon serving the final game of his four-game suspension and Stephen Burton and Mike Brown both likely out, Jacksonville has just two healthy receivers on their roster. In addition, tight end Marcedes Lewis has yet to play this season due to a calf injury and figures to be a game time decision on Sunday. That makes both Shorts and Sanders decent options in leagues that start three wide receivers or use a flex postion.
2. In St. Louis, Isaiah Pead was a healthy scratch for Thursday’s home blowout loss to San Francisco. A 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft, Pead struggled mightily as a rookie losing the backup spot to Steven Jackson to fellow rookie Daryl Richardson. With Jackson having left as a free agent, Pead had a golden opportunity to earn a spot in a committee with the diminutive Richardson but a one-game suspension to start the season didn’t help his cause. Neither did a middling preseason performance or his production last week when he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per reception on 13 touches during the most extensive work of his career. Pead has plummeted down the depth chart behind a pair of rookies in 5th round pick Zac Stacy and undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham. Unless Pead sat out for disciplinary reasons (none of which were reported), he is well on his way to becoming a bust.
3. Sticking with the Rams, after Thursday night’s performance, it seems safe to conclude that the only standard league fantasy worthy starter they have on offense is tight end Jared Cook. Quarterback Sam Bradford’s play is reminiscent of Alex Smith, as he checks down early and often. With offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer unwilling to take shots down the field, he is effectively neutralizing the speed of the team’s receivers including speed merchants Chris Givens and Tavon Austin. With the running game struggling mightily and Schottenheimer unwilling to help open things up by throwing downfield, Cook is the only Ram you should consider in your starting line-up.
4. Moving to the 49ers, it appears that the buy low tag is now officially off Frank Gore. Three weeks into the season is far too early to give up on your players and Gore owners who have stuck with him were rewarded this week with his 153-yard, one-touchdown performance. The fact is that hanging on to him or buying low shouldn’t have been a tough decision as the 49ers possess a solid running quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, one of the league’s top run blocking offensive lines and little receiving talent outside of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
5. Bucs coach Greg Schiano decided to throw himself a life line this week with his decision to bench starting quarterback Josh Freeman, the team’s 2009 1st round pick, in favor of rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon. While Glennon comes from a pro style offense at North Carolina State, he struggled in the preseason, failing to complete 50% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. If he wasn’t ready then, it is unlikely that he’s ready now. While Freeman was clearly struggling, the decision to bench him is questionable and seems motivated by Schiano’s desire to buy himself more time to prove himself as a solid head coach in Tampa Bay. The Bucs best chance to win this season is with Freeman under center, a player who threw for 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions during his second season in the league in 2010. This move would make sense in a few more weeks, not three weeks into the season. Time will tell if Bucs upper management views this move as a ploy by Schiano to buy himself time or a sincere effort to improve the team. Either way, fantasy owners need to downgrade their expectations for wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as well as running back Doug Martin.
6.After three games, Broncos free agent acquisition Wes Welker is on pace to finish the season with 101 receptions for 1,013 yards and 16 touchdowns. Over the past three years, Welker has averaged 109 receptions for 1,257 yards and 7.3 touchdowns. Patriots free agent acquisition Danny Amendola has missed two games and is on pace to finish the season with 53 receptions for 555 yards and no touchdowns. Over the past three years, Amendola has averaged 51 receptions for 467 yards and two touchdowns. Sometimes what you get is exactly what you should have known you were getting. Sometimes that is good and other times it isn’t. Let’s hope fantasy owners knew what they were getting with Amendola. I’m not so sure the Patriots did.
7. With Christian Ponder out with a broken rib, the Vikings will turn to Matt Cassel at quarterback for this week’s game against the Steelers in London. With a bye in Week 5, a solid performance by Cassel will start the quarterback change rumors flying but fantasy owners shouldn’t get too excited. There have been no indications out of Minnesota that they are ready to demote Ponder and Cassel has proven to be effective only when surrounded by solid weapons.