Week 3 recap: Beyond the Box Score
New York Giants 0
- Eli Manning was sacked seven times, completed just 12-of-23 passes for 119 yards and threw another interception. Manning's abysmal 11.4 QBR in Week 3, pretty much sums it up. Against an injury-depleted secondary that made Bills rookie E.J. Manuel look good last week, Manning and the Giants offense managed nothing.
- David Wilson managed 39 yards on 11 carries and had a touchdown called back due to a holding call. If you can find an owner looking to buy-low, I wouldn't tell you not to do it, but if the Giants are going to have any chance at making a run at the playoffs (completely possible in the weak NFC East) it is going to be with Wilson, so hang in there.
- A huge win for the Carolina Panthers and one in which Cam Newton threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns (two to Brandon LaFell), added 45 yards and a score on the ground. DeAngelo Williams turned in another solid performance on the ground, rushing for 120 yards on 23 carries. The Panthers have a bye next week before returning to action against Arizona in Week 5.
Green Bay 30
- This was an insane contest as the Bengals jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Green Bay even touched the football. The Packers rattled off 30 unanswered points before Cincinnati scored the final 20 points to come away with a victory. Aaron Rodgers outdueled by Andy Dalton, wow.
- For the second consecutive week, the Packers had a running back that did not start the game, run for over 100 yards. James Starks ran for 55 yards on 14 carries before exiting with a knee injury. Rookie Johnathan Franklin had a monster game off the bench rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Alas, the UCLA product also fumbled on a fourth and short carry late in the game that was returned for the game-winning touchdown.
- Fortunately for Green Bay they are on a bye next week, giving starter Eddie Lacy extra time to recover from a concussion. Assuming he is ready to go for Week 5 against Detroit, both Starks and Franklin should be relegated to the bench, but are all worth owning in all fantasy leagues (Over the summer, Ben Standig ranked Franklin inside the top-10 on the list of dynasty rookies, but a bad preseason led to sizeable drop).
- Another injury note, Packers tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a concussion early on in this game and did not return. His status should be monitored throughout the bye next week.
- It's hard to imagine the Bengals not turning the starting job over to rookie Giovani Bernard, who ran for 50 yards on 10 carries and scored an acrobatic touchdown, diving into the end-zone. Bernard has been more productive than veteran BenJarvus Green Ellis who ran for only 29 yards and a score on 10 carries and lost a fumble.
St. Louis 7
- If only DeMarco Murray could play the St. Louis Rams every week. Murray's first 100-yard game in over a year (175 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries) came against the same team he torched for a franchise-record 253 yards the last time he faced them as a rookie two years ago. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect this type of outburst every week - this was probably Murray's best game of the season. However, the Cowboys are making a commitment to the run. As long as the Oklahoma product can stay healthy, he will produce at an elite level.
- Tony Romo took care of business against the Rams, completing 17-of-24 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Romo posted a league-best 96.7 quarterback rating in the victory.
- Miles Austin suffered a hamstring injury late in the game. History tells us that hamstring injuries tend to linger, which means that if Austin misses significant time, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will see an increase in targets. Rookie tight Gavin Escobar's lone catch went for a touchdown.
- St. Louis went 1-for-13 (7 %) on third downs and was down 24-0 before the offense finally got on the board in the third quarter. The lack of a running game is a concern, but the final line for Sam Bradford wasn't terrible (29-for-48 for 240 yards and a touchdown) from a fantasy standpoint. Bradford spread the ball around, hitting eight different receivers, with Chris Givens leading the team in targets with eight. In the right matchup, the Rams offense has fantasy value. Next week St. Louis faces the dangerous, but reeling 49ers.
- We all had this one, right? The return of wide receiver Josh Gordon (10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown on a league-high 19 targets) more than helped quarterback Brian Hoyer. Same for the matchup nightmare that is tight end Jordan Cameron (six catches for 66 yards and three touchdowns on 11 targets).
- The "Ewing Theory" popularized by columnist Bill Simmons might have another prime example in Trent Richardson, who Cleveland traded away last week. Simmons take on the trade was the most insightful that I have read anywhere and Richardson fits all of the criteria for the "Ewing Theory" which was all I could think about as I watched the Browns throw the ball all over the field. The Browns trade away their "best player" and the offense opens up finally as they abandon the run, feeding their playmakers Gordon, Cameron and Davone Bess. Hoyer (321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions) looks like a serviceable quarterback if he can limit the mistakes. This has serious "Ewing Theory" potential. Am I overreacting to one game? Probably, but I can't wait to watch this team again in Week 4 against the Bengals.
- On the Minnesota front, Adrian Peterson (88 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries) is still the best running back in football, but the lack of a clear-cut, go-to option in the Vikings passing game is a problem for fantasy owners.
- If this team could make the commitment to feeding rookie Cordarrelle Patterson regularly, he would be a must-start. After just two catches for 49 yards on four targets, he remains on your bench until that happens. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect two rushing touchdowns from Christian Ponder every week, especially when you consider that he had just two rushing touchdowns total in the first 27 games of his career. Aside from Peterson, there isn't much to like from a fantasy standpoint in the Vikings offense.
Tampa Bay 3
New England 23
- New England got off to a slow start offensively, but Tom Brady picked it up, finding rookie wideout Kenbrell Thompkins for a pair of first half scores. In a game that was never in doubt, Aaron Dobson led the Patriots with 10 targets, hauling in seven passes for 52 yards. Julian Edelman caught all seven of the passes thrown his way, but all were close to the line of scrimmage as he managed just 44 yards. Brady spread the ball around, hitting six different receivers. The Patriots had a comfortable lead the entire game, which eliminated the need to throw.
- The infusion of Brandon Bolden (finally healthy after missing the first two weeks of the season with an injury) added a new dimension to the Patriots running game. The second-year back broke a 46-yard run in the third quarter. Bolden was easily the most explosive of the Patriots running backs and was heavily involved in the passing game, catching five passes for 49 yards. Bolden is worthy of a pickup in all leagues. Stevan Ridley turned in another pedestrian effort (35 yards on 11 carries) and LeGarrette Blount churned up 65 yards on 14 carries, most of which came in the second half with the outcome already decided.
- Josh Freeman struggles only got worse as this game went on as his top two targets (Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson) suffered injuries in this game. Williams started strong catching four passes in the first two quarters, but appeared to suffer an injury on a catch in the second quarter and was limited the rest of the game, finishing with five catches for 65 yards. Jackson caught only three passes for 34 yards before being shut down with a rib injury.
- The return of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks helped pave the way for running back Doug Martin. The Muscle Hamster managed to turn in a nice fantasy performance despite the Buccaneers struggles, racking up 88 yards on 20 carries and catching two passes for 20 yards. Aside from Martin and Jackson, it is difficult to rely on any of the fantasy options in this offense, especially the QB. Freeman completed only 19 of 41 passes for 236 yards and threw an interception that lead directly to points at the end of the first half for the Patriots. After an 0-3 start littered with off the field issues and drama, it might not be long before Freeman finds himself on the bench or head coach Greg Schiano finds himself out of a job.