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Week 3 Moving Up, Moving Down

By: — September 29, 2009 @ 11:47 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Week 3 of fantasy football season is in the books and it was an interesting week. While some players rebounded from a poor start to the season (Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, Santana Moss), others confirmed that it might be a long season for their fantasy owners (hello Clinton Portis, Terrell Owens and Darren McFadden). Plus, there were a couple of players who cemented their status with solid performances. Let’s get to them off the top.

Moving Up

  • Cedric Benson, Bengals – It’s official: Benson has arrived. After solid performances against the Broncos and Packers, Benson faced a stiff test this week against the Steelers and put up 76 yards and a TD on the ground. Here’s what you need to know. The Bengals defense is solid, Benson isn’t splitting time, he’s scoring against solid defenses, he’s second in the league in touches to Fred Jackson and I can’t find a reason why any of this would change.
  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – Fantasy afterthought to RB1 status. My how things can change in only three weeks. Whereas the Ravens backfield was a three-headed fantasy mess in 2008, the roles are clearly defined this year. Ray Rice gets the work between the 20’s while McGahee spells him, gets the goal line work and finishes games off. With 6 TD in 3 games, McGahee is the leading candidate for Fantasy’s Comeback Player of the Year Award (there’s no such award but it sounds nice and helps my argument).
  • Ray Rice, Ravens – McGahee is getting all the pub in fantasy circles because he’s such been such a surprise. However, Rice is on pace for 1,475 combined yards and 5 TD which makes him a solid RB2.
  • Santana Moss, Redskins – He wasn’t listed as moving down after putting up just five catches for 41 yards over the first two games because of his well earned reputation for being streaky. However, it was nice to see that head coach Jim Zorn finally figured out how to get him more involved this week against the Lions to the tune of 10 receptions for 178 yards and a score.
  • Pierre Thomas, Saints – What is there to say? Whoever runs the ball for New Orleans is apparently guaranteed of putting up a stud performance. Thomas notched 24 fantasy points this week (124 yards and 2 TD) on just 14 touches. It’s worth noting that one of Thomas and Mike Bell have had a significant injury in every game this season so we don’t yet know how head coach Sean Payton will split the carries. Nonetheless, Thomas was supposed to be the starter entering the season and this performance was good enough for him to continue in that role.
  • Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – Moreno and Correll Buckhalter split the carries in Week 1 but it’s been close to a 2-1 split since then in favour of Moreno and he has 24 fantasy points over the last two weeks. The next 8 weeks look tough with only the Chargers (twice) looking like a nice matchup but the last four weeks of the season could be bountiful for Moreno owners (Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Eagles).
  • Joe Flacco, Ravens – Flacco is off to a phenomenal start in his sophomore season and is averaging 280 passing yards and 2 TD per game. He hasn’t faced great defenses (Chiefs, Chargers and Browns) and there is an argument to sell high on him but he’s been much better than anticipated. While Matt Ryan was the consensus bust out sophomore QB candidate in most fantasy circles (not here), it looks like Flacco may take that title from him. Unfortunately, we can’t say we predicted that either.
  • Donald Brown, Colts – It’s officially a time share in Indy. Joseph Addai has had more touches every week but the difference has been reduced each week (9 to 2 to 1). Although Addai seems to be getting more red zone work, Brown is finishing off the games.
  • Brent Celek, Eagles – I liked him before the season (12th ranked TE) and I like him even more now. He’s had a pile of targets and converted them into 22 catches for 245 yards and 2 TD. The Eagles offense is moving and Celek is their leading receiver thus far.
  • Donald Driver, Packers – Defenses have been rolling coverages towards Greg Jennings and Driver is taking advantage of it. At 34 years old entering the season, Driver seemed like a candidate for a drop off but he’s on pace for his best season since 2006.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants – I wasn’t sold on Bradshaw entering the season, not because he isn’t talented but more because of his off the field issues and uncertainty surrounding how much trust the team would place on him. However, he went over 100 yards this week against the Bucs and is on pace to better Derrick Ward‘s 1,025 rushing yard campaign of a year ago. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found the end zone yet, a problem Ward also had a year ago when he only scored twice.
  • Willie Parker, Steelers – I wrote him off last week and then he puts up 93 yards on the ground to go along with 36 and a TD through the air. He’s still RB3 material and you should peddle him if the matchups aren’t good for the weeks when your starters have byes.
  • Glen Coffee, 49ers – The 3rd round pick was all the rage in the preseason but the buzz died down once he put up 10 yards on 10 carries over the first two weeks of the season. Coffee struggled this week against the Vikings tough run defense, putting up just 54 yards on 25 carries after subbing in for an injured Frank Gore. With Gore expected to miss time with an ankle strain, Coffee looks like a solid Week 4 play against a struggling Rams team.
  • LeSean McCoy, Eagles – With Brian Westbrook out with inflammation in his ankle, McCoy stepped up this week against the Chiefs, posting 20 carries for 84 yards and a TD. McCoy also ran well in Week 1 against the Panthers. With Westbrook showing signs of wear and tear, McCoy is a must have handcuff and a decent option in deep flex leagues.
  • Pierre Garcon, Colts – I said last week that Garcon may see significant time over the remainder of the season and he backed that up this week with 3 receptions for 64 yards and a nice TD.
  • Jerome Harrison, Browns – With Jamal Lewis out with a hamstring injury, Harrison put up 85 yards on 21 touches against a tough Ravens defense. Rookie 6th round pick James Davis was relegated to the backup role behind Harrison and didn’t see significant time. With the Browns likely to struggle this season and uncertainty whether the 30-year old Lewis is in the team’s plans for next season, Harrison’s role could expand as the season progresses.

Moving Down

  • Clinton Portis, Redskins – It was understandable that Portis struggled in Week 1 against the Giants but over the last two weeks against the Rams and Lions he put up 136 total yards and 0 TD. The Redskins had success through the air this week so there is some hope but the offensive line isn’t opening up any holes on the ground and Portis might finally be in decline.
  • Terrell Owens, Bills – T.O. had his first 0-fer this week since Week 7 of his rookie season back in 1996, ending his consecutive games with a reception streak at 185. Surprisingly, Mount Owens didn’t erupt during his post-game press conference. But, yes, it is coming. The eruption, that is, not necessarily the production. T.O. hasn’t topped 100 yards FOR THE SEASON and rookie offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt doesn’t seem to know how to get him involved.
  • Michael Turner, Falcons – It’s not so much that Turner hasn’t produced because he is on pace for just over 1,200 yards and 11 TD, which is fine production from your RB1. However, it’s also a far cry from last year’s 1,699 yard, 17 TD performance. With no truly bad defenses on the horizon until week 12 (the Bucs), it’s highly unlikely that Turner is going to approach his numbers from last year.
  • Tom Brady, Patriots – Similar theme to Turner. The good news this week was that the team found a way to pass protect. The bad news is that they had to settle for 4 FG to go along with 2 TD. A couple of years ago, this would have been a 42-10 thrashing of the Falcons. Brady isn’t quite as accurate as he used to be, Moss isn’t quite as explosive, Welker may be iffy all year and Joey Galloway better improve or he’s headed for the unemployment line (7 receptions for 67 yards on 19 targets).
  • Darren McFadden, Raiders – The 3 fumbles this week (4 on the year) aren’t going to cause McFadden to go to the bench because the Raiders aren’t going anywhere this year anyway. The problem is that the offense led by JaMarcus Russell is simply putrid and finding somebody now willing to predict a breakout year for McFadden is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  • T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks – With 145 yards and 0 TD over three games, he is on pace for just 77 fantasy points. He isn’t even the Seahawks best receiver (Nate Burleson is). Just saying.
  • Darren Sproles, Chargers – I honestly never thought he was up to the task of replacing LaDainian Tomlinson and the last 2 games proved it. Removing his 81-yard TD against the Ravens which was courtesy of a blown coverage, Sproles had just 124 combined yards and 0 TD in his two starts. LT owners can breathe easy that Sproles won’t be taking the job other than because of injury.
  • Chris Wells, Cardinals – It didn’t help that the Cardinals got behind early but the bottom line is that he fumbled twice in Week 2 and got 2 carries in Week 3. I guess there’s a reason they made him carry a football around all week and sent a message in how he was used this week. His time is coming but it might be further off than originally thought.
  • Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins – Ginn was moving up last week courtesy of an 11 reception, 108 yard performance in Week 2. However, he dropped a couple this week (one was difficult) and figures to suffer with Chad Henne stepping in for Chad Pennington, who suffered a shoulder injury this week and is out for the season.
  • Donnie Avery, Rams – The plus for Avery owners is that Laurent Robinson went out a knee injury and may miss significant time. The bad news is that Robinson went down early this week and Avery still didn’t produce (3 catches for 12 yards). At this point, it’s safe to conclude that the ankle injury he suffered during the preseason is still affecting his performance.
  • Chris Chambers, Chargers – I wrote him off last week and he had no catches on 3 targets this week. I like it when that happens. I just wish it would happen more.
  • Chris Brown, Texans – When you’re the goal line back, you’re not supposed to fumble at the opponents 1-yard line with time winding down. Sorry but that’s just the way it is. It also doesn’t help when you haven’t scored a TD in three weeks. With the Texans offense looking like a potential juggernaut entering the season and Brown expected to get the goal line work, he seemed like a decent flex option. Now, not so much.
  • Randy McMichael, Rams – He’s had some bad drops over the last two weeks and with Robinson out, Avery struggling and the team needing a big play, they twice went to backup TE Daniel Fells on out and up calls. End result – 2 TD for Fells and the end of McMichael’s fantasy relevance.

Not Sold Yet

  • Julius Jones, Seahawks – It’s time for some honesty. There are only two categories you will see Jones in this year. One is Not Sold Yet and the other is Moving Down. It just doesn’t matter what he does. I’ve been burned too many times. Go somewhere else if you want objectivity on Jones.
  • Nate Burleson, Seahawks – I said above that he is the Seahawks best receiver. That doesn’t mean I’m sold on him. In fact, I probably never will be but the bottom line is that he has 33 targets in 3 weeks and he’s putting up some numbers.
  • Felix Jones, Cowboys – Watching the game on Monday night, I had decided it was a good idea to trade for Jones in one of my dynasty leagues. Then Jon Gruden said he was hurt. Which made me think, this guy is always hurt. On talent, he looks like the Cowboys best RB but I’d like to see him stay healthy for a few weeks before I make a move for him.
  • Vernon Davis, 49ers – Davis had by far his best day as a pro this week, posting 96 receiving yards and 2 TD. The last time Davis scored double digit fantasy points was during Week 15. Of the 2007 season. In 43 career games, he’s hit double digit fantasy points 5 times. In case you’re not good at math, I’ll spell it out. Using the law of averages, he is likely to score double digit fantasy points one more time this season.

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