The New York Giants Steve Smith no longer should be considered “the other Steve Smith”. Mark Sanchez had a huge bump in the road. Michael Sims-Walker, Rashard Mendenhall, Jerome Harrison and others really stepped up to help propel fantasy rosters. Let’s look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s games:
Houston 29, Oakland 6
- Simply put, the Oakland offense is pathetic. JaMarcus Russell (12-33, 128 yards) has only completed more than 50% of his passes once this season and looks like a complete bust. Darren McFadden was handed the ball just 6 times and he managed to rush for -3 yards. That’s right, -3! With a struggling QB, no wide receiver had more than three catches on the day. At this point, you would be better off to not have any Raider players in your starting line-up until they show some sort of signs of life.
- Steve Slaton rushed for 65 yards and 1 TD while adding 24 yards in the air and another TD. That’s a really strong game, but is it enough to get you excited? He averaged just over three yards per carry, buoyed by a 32-yard run. It is actually his second best game on the ground and the first in which he scored a TD. Personally, I would have liked to have seen him get close the 100-yard mark, but at least it gives a little glimmer of hope.
- Seneca Wallace had a strong game, going 33-45 for 257 yards and 1 TD. T.J. Housmandzadeh was his favorite target, with 8 completions for 103 yards. He seems to prove that he’s capable of performing every time he steps onto the field, though he’s unlikely to get a starting gig in Seattle as long as Matt Hasselbeck is healthy. If he’s going to start again next week, he’s worth considering in two-quarterback leagues.
- We all know how good Peyton Manning is, so why bother running down his numbers? OK, fine. He went 31-41 for 353 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. He hooked up with Dallas Clark 8 times for 80 yards and Reggie Wayne 6 times for 74 yards and 1 TD. Can you imagine how scary this offense will be if Anthony Gonzalez can come back healthy and offer a true third threat in the passing game?
- Eli Manning was great, going 20-34 for 292 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT, but he was forced out of the game due to what they were calling a bruised heel. Giants fans are certainly holding their breath that the injury does not turn out to be more serious than that.
- Just how good is Steve Smith? He caught 11 passes for 134 yards and 2 TD. That gives him 34 catches for 411 yards and 4 TD in the first four games of the season. Plaxico who?
- Dwayne Bowe ultimately played but had just 1 catch for 11 yards. Hopefully you decided to go with a healthier option.
- Larry Johnson had just 53 yards on the ground, giving him just 190 yards over the first four weeks of the season. It is only a matter of time before Jamal Charles starts to see more opportunities in the backfield, so if you are in a deeper league now is the perfect time to stash him away.
- Josh Johnson’s first start in the NFL surely was an unimpressive one. He went 13-22 for 106 yards, 1 TD (to Antonio Bryant who caught 4 passes for 44 yards) and 1 INT. There certainly are better options, even in two quarterback leagues, so I wouldn’t bother with him. His presence in the backfield also may hurt the Bucs receivers, like Bryant, so you may want to consider other options as long as he’s back there.
- Clinton Portis had 25 rushes for 98 yards. I know it was against a weaker team, but it still has to make fantasy owners a little more secure with him.
- Jason Campbell followed up a great game with a bad one, throwing for 170 yards, 2 TD and 3 INT. He’s better left on the waiver wire at this point.
- Willis McGahee continues to find the end zone, despite not getting many looks. He carried the ball 5 times for 11 yards, while catching 1 pass for 13 yards and 1 TD. If he’s going to continue to score, he’s going to continue to be usable in all formats that require a FLEX.
- Wes Welker returned to the field, catching 6 passes for 48 yards. That lead the Patriots in receptions and was just shy of the lead in yards. Amazingly, they had no real standout performance on the offensive side, with no back having more than 25 yards on the ground and no receiver having more than 51 yards.
- Kenny Britt had 7 catches for 105 yards and Nate Washington had 7 catches for 66 yards and 1 TD. With all the attention going to those two, Justin Gage managed just 1 catch for 15 yards. It appears that no one is really going to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
- Michael Sims-Walker had 7 catches for 91 yards and 2 TD. After not having anything in the first week of the season he has gone off for 19 catches, 278 yards and 3 TD over the last three games. Needless to say, he’s a strong play in all formats.
- David Garrard went 27-37 for 323 yards and 3 TD. He had had just two games where he threw for over 300 yards in his career (both last season). It’s the first time he threw for three touchdowns since 12/16/07. In other words, don’t get very used to this.
- Kevin Smith, who was questionable prior to the game, ended up getting 19 carries for 30 yards and 2 TD while adding 4 catches for 21 yards. Nothing you can complain about there.
- Matthew Stafford continues to mature in his short career, going 24-36 for 296 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. It certainly helps when you have a Calvin Johnson (8 catches for 133 yards) to go to, doesn’t it?
- Jay Cutler is proving that despite being in Chicago, he still is going to have value in all formats. He went 18-28 for 141 yards and 2 TD while adding a touchdown on the ground. That’s certainly making the most of his opportunities, isn’t it?
- Carson Palmer went 23-44 for 230 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. He just continues to settle back in and is looking like a viable fantasy option in all formats once again.
- Did Jerome Harrison ensure that he’s going to be a useful fantasy player even if Jamal Lewis comes back healthy? Rushing 29 times for 121 yards as well as catching 5 passes for 31 yards certainly is making a statement.
- Mohamed Massaquoi, who had just 2 catches for 31 yards over the first three weeks exploded for 8 catches and 148 yards yesterday. Given the state of the Browns in general, he has the chance to really step up and make an impact. I’m not going to say that he’s a shoe-in, but if you are desperate for help at receiver he’s worth a look at this point.
- Terrell Owens actually had a few catches this week, getting 3 receptions for 60 yards. He’s up to a whopping 8 catches for 158 yards and 1 TD on the season. While it may not be a complete shock that he’s not loading up the numbers in Buffalo, did anyone really expect it to be this bad?
- The Dolphins leaned heavily on the runnings game this week, protecting Chad Henne (14-22, 115 yards, 1 TD). Ronnie Brown had 115 yards and 2 TD while Ricky Williams had 85 yards and 1 TD. That’s likely to be the course of attack moving forward, meaning that both will have value depending on your format. I don’t think Williams will be useful in all formats, but if you have a FLEX option he is worth stashing.
- No receiver had more than 3 catches or 47 yards (both Donnie Avery who could be usable if the QB situation gets settled). Kyle Boller was bad, throwing for just 108 yards and 1 INT. Steven Jackson (79 yards rushing, 6 yards receiving) truly is the only true offensive weapon right now, which is only going to make it tougher on him.
- Glen Coffee stepped in for the injured Frank Gore and was solid, rushing for 74 yards and catching 4 passes for 32 yards. He’s definitely a worthwhile option for all owners while Gore is out of action.
- It was another strong game for Vernon Davis, who had 3 catches for 43 yards and 1 TD. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, it was the most yards for a 49ers receiver in this one and gives him three TDs in his last two games.
- Marion Barber was able to play, going for 41 yards and 1 TD as he shared carries with Tashard Choice (33 yards). With the Cowboys getting the chiefs next week, I would look for the running game to be better.
- Speaking of getting healthy, Tony Romo threw for 255 yards, but 0 TD and 1 INT. Look for a much better game from him next week as well.
- Kyle Orton went 20-29 for 243 yards and 2 TD. He found Brandon Marshall (4 reception for 91 yards) for one of the TD. Marshall, who still has yet to reach the 100-yard plateau, has scored TDs in each of the last two games.
- You knew Mark Sanchez was going to struggle sooner or later, and struggle he did yesterday. He went 14-27 for 138 yards and 3 INT. He had just 2 INT in his first three games, so you shouldn’t write him off (obviously), but if you are going to use him in two quarterback leagues you have to be prepared for games like this.
- Pierre Thomas had another strong game, rushing for 86 yards and 1 TD while adding 4 catches for 46 yards. Even when Mike Bell returns from injury, Thomas has likely regained his starting role.
- LaDanian Tomlinson didn’t get much of an opportunity in the shootout, as the Chargers were playing from behind all game long. He rushed the ball just 7 times for 15 yards, while catching 1 pass for -1 yards. Before we complain about how ineffective he was, Darren Sproles didn’t even take a handoff and had just 1 reception. There just wasn’t many opportunities for the Charger running backs this week.
- Antonio Gates had a huge day, catching 9 passes for 124 yards and 2 TD. Just another day at the office for one of the elite tight ends in the league. He wasn’t the only tight end who had a huge game in this one, as Heath Miller had 8 catches for 70 yards and 2 TD.
- Rashard Mendenhall had a huge game in the absence of Willie Parker, rushing for 165 yards and 2 TD while adding 2 catches for 26 yards. Could he be eating into the carries of Parker at this point? It’s certainly believable, so if you can stash him away, I would.
What do you think was the biggest story coming out of yesterday’s games? Who was the brightest star? Who was the biggest disappointment?
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