All our week 3 content
Week 3 Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waiver Wire Wonders
by Jeff Pasquino, Jene Bramel, Jeff Haseley, Maurile Tremblay, Aaron Rudnicki, Colin Dowling, Will Grant, and Matt Waldman, exclusive to
- QB Philip Rivers, SD
- QB Eli Manning, NYG
- QB Kevin Kolb, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Matt Schaub, HOU
- QB Peyton Manning, IND
- QB Matt Ryan, ATL
- QB Trent Edwards, BUF
- QB Kurt Warner, ARI
- QB Seneca Wallace, SEA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Brett Favre, MIN
- QB Matt Cassel, KC
- QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ
- QB Jake Delhomme, CAR
- QB Shaun Hill, SF
- QB Drew Brees, NO
- QB JaMarcus Russell, OAK
- QB Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
- QB Brady Quinn, CLE
- QB Tom Brady, NE
- QB Tony Romo, DAL
- QB Carson Palmer, CIN
- QB David Garrard, JAX
- QB Jason Campbell, WAS
- QB Matthew Stafford, DET
- RB Cedric Benson, CIN
- RB Frank Gore, SF
- RB Chris Johnson, TEN
- RB Pierre Thomas, NO
- RB Ronnie Brown, MIA
- RB LeSean McCoy, PHI
- RB Fred Jackson, BUF
- RB Willis McGahee, BAL
- RB Felix Jones, DAL
- RB Tashard Choice, DAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Donald Brown, IND
- RB Darren Sproles, SD
- RB Tim Hightower, ARI
- RB Willie Parker, PIT
- RB Knowshon Moreno, DEN
- RB Ricky Williams, MIA
- RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
- RB Kevin Smith, DET
- RB Larry Johnson, KC
- RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
- RB Mike Bell, NO
- RB Brian Westbrook, PHI
- RB Jamal Lewis, CLE
- RB Fred Taylor, NE
- RB Steve Slaton, HOU
- RB Derrick Ward, TB
- RB Earnest Graham, TB
- RB Chris Wells, ARI
- RB Darren McFadden, OAK
- RB Reggie Bush, NO
- RB Steven Jackson, STL
- RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD
- RB LenDale White, TEN
- RB Marion Barber, DAL
- RB Chester Taylor, MIN
- RB Ryan Grant, GB
- RB Ray Rice, BAL
- RB Brandon Jacobs, NYG
- RB Joseph Addai, IND
- RB Kevin Faulk, NE
- RB Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
- RB Matt Forte, CHI
- RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR
- WR Mario Manningham, NYG *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Mike Sims-Walker, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Marques Colston, NO
- WR Chad Ochocinco, CIN
- WR Steve Smith, NYG
- WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ
- WR Vincent Jackson, SD
- WR Percy Harvin, MIN
- WR Nate Washington, TEN
- WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Devery Henderson, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Laurent Robinson, STL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Bobby Wade, KC *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Maurice Stovall, TB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Antwaan Randle El, WAS *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Johnny Knox, CHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Pierre Garcon, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Braylon Edwards, CLE
- WR Bernard Berrian, MIN
- WR Steve Breaston, ARI
- WR Jacoby Jones, HOU *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Ted Ginn, MIA
- WR Robert Meachem, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Julian Edelman, NE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Joey Galloway, NE
- WR Roy Williams, DAL
- WR Donnie Avery, STL
- WR Lance Moore, NO
- WR Mark Bradley, KC
- WR Domenik Hixon, NYG
- WR Eddie Royal, DEN
- WR Michael Clayton, TB
- WR Troy Williamson, JAX
- WR Sidney Rice, MIN
- WR Josh Cribbs, CLE
- WR Josh Morgan, SF
- WR Justin Gage, TEN
- WR Greg Jennings, GB
- WR Bryant Johnson, DET
- WR Jason Avant, PHI
- WR Randy Moss, NE
- WR Calvin Johnson, DET
- WR Devin Hester, CHI
- WR Santana Moss, WAS
- WR Brandon Marshall, DEN
- WR Reggie Wayne, IND
- TE Dallas Clark, IND
- TE Kellen Winslow, TB
- TE Brent Celek, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Dustin Keller, NYJ
- TE Jermichael Finley, GB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL
- TE Alge Crumpler, TEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Martellus Bennett, DAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Kellen Davis, CHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Dante Rosario, CAR *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Tony Scheffler, DEN
- TE Zach Miller, OAK
- TE Greg Olsen, CHI
- TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN
- PK Rian Lindell, BUF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- PK Lawrence Tynes, NYG
- PK Jason Elam, ATL
- TD Denver Broncos, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD Cincinnati Bengals, CIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD New Orleans Saints, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD Arizona Cardinals, ARI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD New York Jets, NYJ
- TD Dallas Cowboys, DAL
- TD San Diego Chargers, SD
- TD Miami Dolphins, MIA
QB Drew Brees, NO
- Yes, he is already the No.1 QB in fantasy and in our rankings, but when you play as well as Drew Brees is right now then you have to push him even further up the value list. With nine touchdowns in two weeks and a trip to Buffalo coming next week, how can anyone dispute starting Brees at this point? Brees may get tested in Week 4 against the Jets but for now his value is amazingly high and most fantasy teams are thrilled to have him on the roster.
QB Matt Cassel, KC
- Cassel played better on Sunday than his stat line would indicate. Dropped passes hurt his stat line and on consecutive pass attempts early in the game, the ball glanced off the front of TE Jake O'Connell's helmet, then went right through RB Dantrell Savage's hands. Toward the end of the first half, Bobby Engram dropped what would have been a 17-yard completion to get into field goal range. But Cassel showed the ability to improvise effectively, throwing on the run and turning broken plays into positive results. Despite coming off a sprained knee, he made some gutsy runs, and showed pretty good speed once he pulled the ball down to run. Cassel has the potential to give some very nice fantasy performances once he and the Chiefs get more comfortable with Todd Haley's offense.
QB Jake Delhomme, CAR
- Delhomme played a much better game this week, hitting Steve Smith on a few deep in-cuts and even opened the game with a perfect 27-yard throw on a fly pattern in tight coverage down the sideline, playing it on Smith's outside shoulder in tight coverage. However, he still made some reckless plays. After a flea-flicker was forced to the right side, he nearly underhanded the ball to LB Curtis Lofton just he was falling to the ground. He really looked bad against pressure, appearing unconfident and jittery as he changed directions in the pocket looking for a receiver to hit. His one interception came on 4th and 10 inside the 20, targeting Steve Smith after looking at two other options but the CB broke on the ball. He isn't starter material, especially against the Cowboys prior to the bye week, and the Redskins after, but he's definitely a better option than a guy like Brady Quinn and should be moved up the rung of back ups.
QB Trent Edwards, BUF
- This was not a great performance from Edwards, but he made a couple of big plays that helped the team win. The game got off to a great start for him as he threw a beautiful deep ball to Lee Evans down the right sideline for a 32-yard TD. Edwards nearly connected on another long TD pass to Terrell Owens, but the receiver dropped the ball. He made up for it later with a 43-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away for the Bills. For much of the game, the Tampa defense was double covering the outside Bills WRs so Edwards had a lot of success working the middle of the field and moving the chains. He was sacked twice in the game, but the offensive line generally did a good job of protecting him and allowing him enough time to scan the field. Edwards showed great awareness and mobility on a play near the end of the first half when he decided to tuck the ball and run for a 20-yard gain after realizing that the defense was in man coverage. The one big negative play for Edwards in this game was a terrible interception deep in Tampa territory near the end of the third quarter when he overthrew Lee Evans who was surrounded by three defenders. Although he still hasn't taken full advantage of the great receiver weapons he has at his disposal, the offensive line and play calling has been better than expected, and Edwards looks like one of the more reliable QB2 options in the league.
QB Brett Favre, MIN
- As the QB of the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre is never going to throw for 300 yards and 3 TDS this season. He'll probably never crack 250 given the success of Adrian Peterson. However, the thing that Favre brings to the table for the Vikings is composure and leadership. In this offense, he is the consummate game manager. When the Vikings were down by 10, he didn't even blink an eye. He stuck to the game plan and the Vikings battled back. When the game was close, and the Lions were trying to get back in a groove, Favre carved them up like a Thanksgiving turkey with short, crisp passes that hit their mark every time. He marched them down the field, and showed why he deserves to be the starter. On the TD pass to Vishanthe Shiancoe in the second quarter, Favre perfectly executed a textbook roll out where he froze the defensive backs and allowed his TE to get open in the back of the end zone. Farve threw a strike and the Vikings were back in the game. Although he threw a couple bad passes when he was under extreme pressure that could have easily resulted in interceptions, Favre was almost perfect in this game. His 150 yards passing and 2 TDS won't win many fantasy games, but those stats won't lose many for you, either. You can consider him a definite alternative to an injured starter or a QB on a bye week, especially with San Francisco, Green Bay, and St. Louis on the horizon. These are all teams where he could rise to the occasion.
QB Shaun Hill, SF
- All he does is win. Shaun Hill may not best QB in the league. He may not have the best touch pass or deep ball, but he has proven to be a winner with a 9-3 record for the 49ers. This past week, he didn't need to do much to solidify the victory thanks to Frank Gore's 240+ total yard effort. Hill did not throw many passes over 15 yards, but he was efficient in finding Frank Gore, Isaac Bruce, Vernon Davis and even FB Moran Norris on several short passes that helped move the ball. Frank Gore did the rest. Hill is a borderline backup fantasy QB, but his recent play of late is cause for elevating his status into bye week filler. There are worse options out there and keep in mind, the 49ers have a good schedule with favorable divisional match ups.
QB Kevin Kolb, PHI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Kolb looked very strong in a fill-in game for Donovan McNabb, throwing an incredible 51 times and racking up 391 yards in an effort that fell short against New Orleans. The Eagles may have lost the game, but it was far from Kolb's fault and the defense let them down, not the offense. Kolb hit DeSean Jackson deep early and kept the chains moving with TE Brent Celek and moved the Eagles well all day. Week 3 brings the Eagles another home contest against Kansas City, and with Week 4 being a bye week odds are high that Kolb starts again to give Donovan McNabb two more weeks to rest up and get healthy to come out of the gate for Week 5.
QB Eli Manning, NYG
- Against a Cowboys defense that shut down Brandon Jacobs and generated a good pass rush, Manning routinely found the open man and made the big play. His receivers Mario Manningham and Steve Smith came through for him tonight. Smith was Keenan McCardell-like in his ability to get in the intermediate range of 10-30 yards and make the catch in tight space and Manningham was the big-play threat, routinely getting yardage after the catch on short passes and burning his opponents on deep routes. Each player had 10 catches, and they were a reflection of Manning's accuracy in the intermediate and deep range of the field. Manning did a great job of moving around to avoid the sack and find the open man. Although his accuracy and timing in the flat with his check-down options was a little spotty, Manning was on his game when the Giants needed him the most. With Tampa, Kansas City, and Oakland up next, the Giants should have bigger running lanes, but this will also mean Manning should have some big play opportunities with play action. The Giants QB has established himself as a borderline fantasy starter and if the receivers remain consistent, expect him to continue moving up.
QB Peyton Manning, IND
- Peyton Manning proved once again why he's a great quarterback. Throughout the game, the Dolphins kept the Colts in-check by effectively pressuring Manning up the middle and forcing him to release the ball early and overthrow is receivers. However, when it counted most, Manning read the blitz late in the fourth quarter and audibled to a bubble screen to Pierre Garcon that resulted in a game-winning 48-yard score. Although the Dolphins played good defense most of the game, Manning was still efficient despite losing the time of possession battle, hitting Dallas Clark at will for the TE's career-best, receiving effort and timely passes to Reggie Wayne when in single coverage. With some strong spot-play by rookie Donald Brown as both a runner and receiver, Manning still has enough weapons without Anthony Gonzalez to make him a must-start.
QB Philip Rivers, SD
- The Chargers have struggled to run the ball so far this season, and it looks like the offense will have to depend on the arm of Philip Rivers. Rivers attempted 45 passes on Sunday, the second most in his pro career, completing 25 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns. He was particularly accurate on his deep passes. Norv Turner likes his teams to establish the run in order to set up the pass, but the Chargers may have to skip that first step this season. They are looking like a passing team, and as long as Rivers keeps getting plenty of pass attempts, he will keep putting up big fantasy numbers. He has a talented group of receivers to throw to, and may be considered an every-week fantasy starter.
QB Matt Ryan, ATL
- Ryan still hasn't found his timing on deep throws and if he's hit a few times, he is apt to hurry his progressions and throw an errant ball into the teeth of coverage. However, these are minor issues that will be exploited only against top-notch defenses. Today, Ryan had three touchdown passes and consistently found Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez for big plays in the intermediate range of the field, including 11 straight completions on slants, seams, and circle rounds. He had a perfectly placed deep seam route to his new TE for a score in the first half. With a strong ground game to complement Ryan, the Falcons QB is a solid fantasy starter with upside week in and week out. The Patriots defense shouldn't be much of a test next week and they have the bye week after that to prepare for an improved San Francisco unit.
QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ
- It was a tale of two halves for Mark Sanchez. After passing for only 15 yards in the first half, he turned around a shoddy performance with a very impressive and effective second half. On the first play of the second half, Sanchez threw a 45-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery and a TD pass to Dustin Keller two plays later. That sequence of plays put the Jets in the lead for good, and it increased Sanchez's confidence that lasted the rest of the game. The first half was filled with penalties and short drives, but Sanchez found a rhythm in the second half connecting with Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey and Dustin Keller on key plays to move the ball into FG range. The Jets game plan is to run the ball and make timely throws. Sanchez is not necessarily asked to carry the team on his back, but be the QB who doesn't make mistakes. For that reason, Sanchez is not a must start fantasy QB, but he's at that point where he's serviceable as a bye week filler or bench QB.
QB Matt Schaub, HOU
- Schaub finally gave fantasy owners a reason to smile with a stellar performance on Sunday. Schaub shredded the Titan secondary to the tune of 357 yards and 4 passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He completed 63% of his passes and looked comfortable on throws all over the field. A number of people projected Schaub might break in to the top-10 (or higher) of fantasy quarterbacks and Sunday's performance was evidence that he has the ability to do so.
QB Seneca Wallace, SEA
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Wallace came into the game at the end of the first half to replace Matt Hasselbeck, who left the game with a rib injury. Wallace's first play was a TD to Julius Jones on a short swing pass inside the five yard-line. He played the entire second half and rarely handed off, due to the circumstances of trailing in the game. He completed several short passes, mostly out of the shotgun, but drives were stalled either due to a snap that went over his head or an interception that was the result of a deflection. On the interception play he had a wide-open man in the left flat, but he elected to fire a pass intended for Nate Burleson. He pumped faked, but the corner, Nate Clements wasn't looking at the QB and continued his coverage on Burleson. As soon as Wallace saw the corner not bite, he should've dumped it off to his wide-open man in the left flat, but he decided to throw the ball anyway, into tight coverage with a safety that also was ready. If Wallace has to start next week against Chicago, expect a lot of conservative short to mid-range passes to the core of the team that includes TJ Houshmandzadeh, John Carlson and Nate Burleson. His mobility should serve him well, making him a decent desperation start for fantasy owners this week and a garbage-time producer against the Colts the week after if Hasselbeck isn't ready.
QB Kurt Warner, ARI
- Warner looked great in this game and helped lead the Cardinals to a huge lead early in the second half. He was decisive, got rid of the ball quickly, and delivered the ball accurately while facing almost no pressure from the Jaguars defense. Although he was extremely accurate in the game (completed his first 15 passes and finished the game with only two incompletions on 26 attempts), Warner did not take many chances downfield and chose instead to focus on the short and intermediate passes over the middle. With the Cardinals out to a huge lead, he was replaced by backup Matt Leinart late in the third quarter so he didn't have a chance to pad his stats late in the game, but he still finished with a very efficient 243 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs in three quarters of work. After a disappointing preseason and some reports that he's playing at less than 100%, this was an impressive performance for Warner and the fact that he was not sacked once is a positive sign regarding his ability to stay healthy this year.
QB Tom Brady, NE
- Tom Brady may be averaging 50 attempts per game, but he has only two TD passes in two games, which is very un-Brady-like. The big question is why? Against the Jets, the Patriots OL struggled to give Brady enough time in the pocket to make good accurate throws down field. When he did connect it was for short yardage. Brady lined up in a shotgun formation with three, four or even five WRs on nearly every play. On a rare play where he did break out of the shotgun, Brady was intercepted by Darrelle Revis on the right sideline on a deep pass intended for Moss. No running game was ever established and the Jets blitzed often, which was enough to end drives and keep Brady from establishing a rhythm. Is that going to happen every week? No, but if the OL doesn't give him enough protection, you're not going to see many 3-4 TD games like he had in 2007.
QB Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
- Hasselbeck left the game just before the half. He fractured a rib trying to run the ball into the end zone and took a hit from Patrick Willis. Hasselbeck was replaced by Seneca Wallace and did not return. He was briefly admitted to a San Francisco hospital and it is unlikely he will be able to play next week vs. Chicago.
QB Brady Quinn, CLE
- Quinn was able to find Braylon Edwards downfield with more frequency against Denver, but still checked down more often than not, because he spent most of the second half trying to avoid pressure. Quinn is still having trouble hitting his receivers in stride and had a number of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. With the Cleveland running game non-existent and the offensive line struggling to give him time to throw, Quinn has an uphill climb to generate better than average fantasy numbers. With a road game in Baltimore and the surprisingly strong Cincinnati defense upcoming, it won't be surprising to hear Derek Anderson's name come up again soon.
QB Tony Romo, DAL
- Some players seem to shine when under the spotlight. Others just melt. Right now, there is probably a Tony Romo-shaped puddle in the middle of Jerry Jones' new stadium after a horrible, three-interception game against a strong Giants defense that out-witted the Cowboys quarterback at the line of scrimmage with pre-snap looks and last-second adjustments. Although the Giants didn't sack Romo, they were able to trick him into making quick throws into the teeth of the defense in the flat and the sideline that resulted in big-play interceptions for New York. Despite his poor play, Romo had moments of great accuracy on tough throws and he was able to spread the ball to eight different receivers. There aren't many units as good as New York and with Carolina, Denver, and Kansas City on the schedule, the Cowboys quarterback should rebound. However, the Giants showed that keeping Romo in the pocket and confusing him with more complex looks at the line of scrimmage might be a more advantageous approach.
QB JaMarcus Russell, OAK
- Russell started the day with six straight incompletions, badly missing easy targets on short throws. Things didn't get much better for him until the fourth quarter when he put together a game-winning drive by completing four passes -- giving him seven completions on the day. The only good news for Russell was that despite his awful play for most of the game, Tom Cable did not replace him with backup QB Bruce Gradkowski. That suggests that Russell has a very long leash in Oakland, and the Raiders will let him play through his mistakes until he improves. However at this point, Russell has very little fantasy value, and he drags down the rest of the Raiders' value as well.
QB Jason Campbell, WAS
- Look beyond the stat lines here. Campbell focused on short dump-off passes to Chris Cooley for most of the day against the Rams in Week 2; unable to go downfield and seemingly hesitant to even try. He looked fine in the pocket and scrambled a few times for nice gains, but he could not find Santana Moss or anyone else very deep all day long. Some of his throws downfield sailed or were out of bounds as both he and the Redskins' offense struggled. No pass was completed for more than 25 yards and few if any of his connections afforded his receivers much chance of getting extra yardage after the catch. With the Redskins poised to go up against Detroit next week, the jury remains out on Campbell (hence a "Hold" vs. "Downgrade") but if he cannot get good numbers against Detroit in Week 3, look elsewhere for another QB.
QB David Garrard, JAX
- Although most fantasy owners will be happy with the production they got from Garrard this week, his numbers were somewhat misleading in that most of them came after the game was out of reach. Garrard had some difficulty getting in synch with his weapons early and before he had a chance to really get anything going, the Jaguars were already trailing 31-3 in the third quarter. Garrard was under quite a bit of pressure from the Cardinals defense throughout the game (four sacks and three fumbles) and that made it very difficult for him to make any big plays downfield. Even when he did have time to throw, Garrard showed a tendency to take the safe option rather than force anything. Once the game appeared to be out of reach, the Jaguars abandoned the running game and put it in the hands of their QB. With the Cardinals playing a softer defense in the second half, Garrard was able to move the ball well and he finished the game with nearly 300 yards of passing and 27 yards rushing with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Both of his TD throws were the result of shorter throws that the receivers made great plays on, breaking an initial tackle or two and running the ball into the end zone. He narrowly missed out on a third passing TD when WR Nate Hughes dropped a ball in the end zone after the defender covering him fell down.
QB Carson Palmer, CIN
- Palmer started off inconsistent, struggling with his accuracy and making a number of poor decisions, but settled down in the second half. At times, Palmer looks like he may be on the verge of returning to his 2005 form, but he'll need either Laveranues Coles or Chris Henry to step up and provide a more consistent threat between the twenties. If he can follow up on his strong second half effort this week with another against the stiff pass rush of the Steelers, his confidence should go screaming upward.
QB Matthew Stafford, DET
- For Stafford, it was like watching two different games. In the first half of the game, with the Lions in the lead, Stafford was solid. He made crisp, accurate throws, both short and long, and moved the ball like a veteran QB. He rolled out well with the offensive line, and took advantage of the miss-matches that his receivers created. He got his rookie TE involved in the game as well, and checked down properly to the RB when openings were not there. His first Interception was a rookie mistake where he tried to force the ball into coverage when he was rolling out. Later in the game he had a similar play where he properly threw the ball away. However, in the second half, Stafford was clearly out of sync with his team at times. As the Vikings pulled close and eventually took the lead, Stafford made poor decisions and missed badly on several passes, including a wide-open Bryant Johnson for a sure touchdown. His second interception was another bad throw where he tried to force the ball into the secondary and Chad Greenway picked him cleanly. While it wasn't all bad news in the second half, as Stafford had several good throws and stayed strong the entire time, he was clearly a different guy. As a rookie, he'll learn to adjust and will certainly get better as the season wears on. He just needs a bit more time to learn the speed of the NFL. Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh will give him enough lessons that if he can keep his confidence intact, we'll see if he learned anything before the bye against Green Bay and afterward, versus St. Louis.
RB Cedric Benson, CIN
- The Bengals were serious about establishing Benson against the Packers and the RB was up to the task. Behind a variety of power running formations, Benson ran through wide-open holes and also showed good footwork and patience. He repeatedly broke tackles and finished his runs with his shoulder down. Bernard Scott, Benson's understudy, was nowhere to be found until after Benson had run the ball 20 times. Scott shows no sign of cutting into Benson's playing time. Benson has a much tougher matchup against the Steelers next week, but is threatening to be considered a RB1 should this kind of production and effort becomes the norm.
RB Donald Brown, IND
- Donald Brown had only four carries, but it is when he received his opportunities that should get your attention. Brown was the back put into the lineup at the end of each half. It's a telling point when a player is used in the 4th QTR, because that is when the team uses its best players. Brown didn't disappoint. In the first half, he made an excellent route adjustment against the DB playing inside to get open on a wheel route for a 24-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, he tied the game with a tough 15-yard run up the middle, breaking three tackles and bulling his way into the end zone for the score. Expect this game as a sign of things to come. Brown should earn more opportunities with his performance at key moments and fantasy owners should hold onto him with the expectation of starting him down the stretch.
RB Ronnie Brown, MIA
- Last week, Brown was limited somewhat by a rigid game plan and poor offensive line play. This week, the Dolphins coaching staff and linemen got the memo. The started the game with runs to the left that were successful versus the Falcons, but didn't go to the well enough. However, the line and effective use of the Wildcat to misdirect the Colts helped Brown get several big gains in the first half. Brown demonstrated good quickness to the outside, patience up the middle when needed, and excellent power in the second level. The Dolphins controlled the clock for most of the game and the offensive line played a much better game this week. Brown faces San Diego's weakened run defense and Buffalo the week after. He's a definite upgrade for at least the next two weeks prior to their big test versus the Jets.
RB Tashard Choice, DAL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Choice only carried the ball twice for eight yards, but he ran hard and was able to gain yardage after contact. However, Marion Barber was floored by the quadriceps strain at the end of the game and this could increase Choice's opportunities against some softer defenses. We anticipate Jones and Choice to have a more even split in carries if Barber's injury forces him to miss time.
RB Frank Gore, SF
- The 49ers offense is clearly running through Frank Gore right now. Whether it's on the ground or by air, Gore is a major contributor to the success of the team. He is one of the better RBs in the league when it comes to running the ball up the middle or between the tackles as evidenced by his two long runs against Seattle. He was barely touched on both runs, which is also a testament to the 49ers OL that gave him enough room to squeeze through and run to daylight. His run in the first quarter was right up the middle and happened to be on the first play that SEA LB Lofa Tatupu was out of the game. Coincidence? Probably not. Minnesota is a tough draw next week, but these teams have similar philosophies so the game could be close, which means Gore should remain highly involved. St. Louis and Atlanta are on the horizon, and much easier match ups.
RB Tim Hightower, ARI
- Despite a slow start to the game when he found almost no room to run, Hightower appeared to finish the game with a much stronger grasp on the starting RB job in Arizona. His backup, Chris Wells, showed some flashes early, but fumbled the ball inside the five on the first drive and then coughed it up again later. Meanwhile, Hightower ran aggressively both between the tackles and out in space. He finished the game with 72 yards on 15 carries (4.8 yards/rush) with a TD while also contributing 3 catches for 12 yards. Even if Wells starts to steal some carries from him, Hightower appears to be entrenched in the third down and goal line roles that should help him continue to be an effective RB3 option, particularly in PPR leagues.
RB Fred Jackson, BUF
- For the second week in a row, Jackson was clearly the Bills best player, and one of the best players on the field. With the Tampa defense primarily focused on preventing big plays, Jackson gouged them with 17 carries for 97 yards in the first half. The only negative play for him came on a run near the end of the first half with the Bills driving for another score. Jackson did not have a strong hold on the ball and it was knocked out of his hands into the waiting arms of Buccaneers safety Sabby Piscitelli who returned it 72 yards. With the Bills trying to protect a small lead in the second half, Jackson continued to be a workhorse and added on 66 yards on 11 more carries while also contributing 25 yards on 6 receptions. Although he did not find his way into the end zone, Jackson was workhorse and averaged a very impressive 5.8 yards per carry. Jackson continues to make a strong case that he should remain the starter even after Marshawn Lynch returns from suspension in week 4. At a minimum, Jackson should remain an integral part of a RB by committee approach in Buffalo this year and he remains a solid value in PPR leagues.
RB Chris Johnson, TEN
- Johnson was given the ball early and often and responded with the best game of his career. Johnson had three touchdowns of longer then 50 yards and showed that once he is in to the open field he is nearly impossible to catch. Johnson's 25 touches were the first time that Tennessee has so clearly made him the focus of the offense and the results would suggest that such a plan is the best thing for the Titans. Johnson is a must-start in all fantasy leagues and his ability to score at any given time puts him in elite company among the best running backs in the game.
RB Larry Johnson, KC
- Johnson ran hard on Sunday, consistently gaining yards after contact. He even showed some elusiveness in the open field as a receiver after the catch. The Chiefs were not able to consistently open holes for Johnson against a stout Oakland run defense, but the Chiefs kept feeding Johnson the ball. Johnson will be a major part of the Chiefs' offense this season, and if the offensive line gives him a crease, Johnson has the acceleration to get through it, breaking arm tackles along the way. His stat line didn't look great -- 24 rushes for 78 yards and no touchdowns -- but Johnson ran well and made the most of the holes he was given.
RB Felix Jones, DAL
- Jones looked like his old self against the Giants after not doing much against the Buccaneers due to a quadriceps injury. He showed great shiftiness and vision in tight quarters between the tackles, patiently finding holes for nice gains during his first six carries for 40 yards. He did lose a fumble in the first half during a kick return, but he was far more conscious about holding onto the ball for the rest of the game. He finished his 56-yard run in the fourth quarter with both hands around the ball as the secondary caught up with him. The fact he couldn't out-race the secondary might be an indication his quad isn't completely healthy, but his initial burst and change of direction were present. With Marion Barber suffering a quad strain at the end of the game, Jones should see more opportunities against a softer portion of the schedule.
RB LeSean McCoy, PHI
- Brian Westbrook was kept in check in Week 2 as New Orleans swarmed all over him. With no Donovan McNabb, the Saints focused on stopping Westbrook, and they forced him out of the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury. Should Philadelphia decide to rest both McNabb and Westbrook next week (home against KC) before their bye, McCoy could be in line for his audition and possibly his first NFL start.
RB Willis McGahee, BAL
- McGahee got nearly twice as many carries as Ray Rice on Sunday (15 to 8), and was extremely effective (5.3 yards per carry). It appears that McGahee and Rice will split the workload this season, with one guy or the other being featured a bit more from week to week depending on matchups. But McGahee is the one who will get most of the goal line work. He has scored two touchdowns in each of the Raven's first two games. His injury history is a concern, but he looks healthy and is playing well right now. He has a combination of speed and power that is difficult for opposing teams to stifle, and he can also be an effective receiver out of the backfield. His fantasy value is much higher now than it was before the start of the season.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
- Mendenhall had two good plays in limited time. The first was a swing pass thrown behind him that forced the RB to fall backwards to make the catch. However, Mendenhall hustled to get to his feet before the pursuit reached him and reversed his field for a 13-yard gain. Later, he followed the pulling guard through a small crease up the right side and got to the sideline for a 39-yard gain, nearly scoring on the play. With Cincinnati and San Diego on the horizon, and Willie Parker still not quite 100 percent from a hamstring pull, Mendenhall should get some opportunities and is worth a spot on your bench although Pittsburgh is clearly favoring the pass.
RB Knowshon Moreno, DEN
- Moreno was more decisive this week when given a crease between the tackles, but continues to have trouble consistently beating first contact. He looks fluid catching the ball out of the backfield. Although Correll Buckhalter is still taking plenty of snaps, Moreno will continue to get the bulk of the playing time and most of Buckhalter's yardage came on one carry. The timeshare was less consistent this week, as Buckhalter and Moreno often played during the same series in the second half. Peyton Hillis was successful on his lone goal line carry, which could hurt Moreno's upside. Still, Moreno looked good on his snaps and should be expected to show continued improvement as he gains confidence. Remember, this game is the equivalent to Moreno's third week of the preseason.
RB Willie Parker, PIT
- Parker didn't look like the vintage speedster he's expected to be, but we learned this weekend that the Steelers RB tweaked his hamstring last week before the Titans game. This week he ran much harder, lowering his shoulder into the Bears linebackers and secondary, bouncing off them for extra yardage. However, he was still ineffective when forced to bounce runs outside, even getting dragged down from the backside pursuit, which demonstrates his hamstring isn't quite 100 percent. Still, Parker and the Steelers did a much better job on plays where they pulled their linemen to the right side of the Bears defense, opening nice-sized holes. Parker should see better production against Cincinnati and San Diego to end the month now that the Steelers are figuring out which plays are most effective for their running game. Don't expect 18-20 touches per game in this passing offense, but he should be a better play on the horizon.
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
- How do you upgrade the #1 running back in the league? It's easy when you see that the Vikings are turning to him even more than before. Peterson was used frequently on third down, and ended up with more receptions than the supposed third-down back Chester Taylor. Peterson was used, even when the Vikings were down. They ran him in short and long situations. They moved him out of the backfield and threw to him on designed and check-down plays. Watching him play, it was easy to understand why he was so important to the team. When he ran into the pile and couldn't gain any yards, he had the vision and speed to bounce outside and outrun the defense for big gains. On his TD run, he changed direction after the play was dead and blew around the entire defense as he ran to the end zone. This play converted a turnover by the Lions into a seven point lead in the span of one play, and drove a spike through any hopes that the Lions had of staying close or maintaining a lead. He was the focal point of the offense and he made everyone else almost irrelevant.
RB Kevin Smith, DET
- The Vikings came into this game with the No.1 rushing defense and Kevin Smith proved that wasn't anything to be afraid of. Smith certainly had his fair share of being stuffed for a loss, but he had just as many gains of five-plus, yards. He was a big part of the offense, even when the Lions were down by 10 points and trying to get back into the game. He was used on short passes, runs up the gut and flips to the outside. He had almost 100 yards from scrimmage for the game, and had back-to-back carries of 12-plus yards in the second quarter. As the Detroit offense continues to improve, it is clear that Kevin Smith will be a big part of it. Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh will also be stiff tests, but it is clear head coach Jim Schwartz has made good that Detroit will not be abandoning the run. Although Smith's yards per carry average won't be pretty, he is receiving enough attempts to remain a worthwhile, No.2 RB and enough targets as a receiver to bump him slightly up the list.
RB Darren Sproles, SD
- Sproles has struggled in the running game, but has been the Chargers most dangerous weapon in the passing game. He now has 16 targets on the season (tied for the lead with Antonio Gates) -- seven in week one when Tomlinson played, and nine in week two when he didn't. When Tomlinson returns from his ankle injury, the Chargers would be nuts not to continue to use Sproles as an explosive receiver out of the backfield, especially in PPR leagues where Sproles appears to have continuing value in his own right.
RB Pierre Thomas, NO
- Thomas was hardly used in Week 2, but at least he was active and ready to go in case they needed him. With Mike Bell injured late in the Philadelphia game, Thomas will likely be raring to go, and starting next week for the Saints. Based on Bell's performances, Thomas should be just as good, if not better.
RB Ricky Williams, MIA
- Williams had a nice game as the motion back in the Wildcat, gaining nice yardage to the outside with a running start on the end-around, and showing toughness and balance after contact up the middle. He's now the grinder in this game with Brown as the big-play back. However, Brown should see more carries on a weekly basis as long as the game plan is proceeding as planned. Williams is a tough, savvy, decent back at this stage at his career, but not a big-play guy. He still should get some low-end, flex-play production for at least the next two weeks.
RB Joseph Addai, IND
- Joseph Addai looked quick in this game, hitting the hold hard and exploiting the edge of the defense early on for a 12-yard gain. However, as nice as his yards per attempt appeared, the Colts did not run the ball very much. When they did, they split the attempts almost evenly with rookie Donald Brown. Even more vital a point to fantasy owners is that Donald Brown was the back at the end of the first half and the fourth quarter. When a team puts a player into those situations, it's a sign of great confidence and an illustration that they prefer him when the game is on the line. Considering Brown made two big plays in those situations should tell you that Addai will not see a lot of opportunities at all these season unless Brown gets hurt. This job will remain a timeshare until Brown can overtake Addai.
RB Marion Barber, DAL
- Barber was one of the players that carried the Cowboys in this game and kept them close. He was especially effective at bouncing runs to the backside of an overly aggressive Giants front for nice gains. He came up big in the fourth quarter when Tony Romo was having a rough night and probably would have scored on his final attempt if he didn't strain his quadriceps at the run. These types of injuries are unpredictable. Felix Jones had a bruised quadriceps in week one and was ineffective. However, he made a nice recovery in week two. It's a wait-and-see situation for Barber, although signs point to him being fine. Since Dallas has the luxury of two strong backs behind him, Barber could be limited for a couple of weeks if the injury lingers. If healthy, Barber performed well enough against a strong defense to be an upgrade. Keep and eye out for Barber's ability to practice during the week.
RB Mike Bell, NO
- If this report were looking for roller coasters, Bell would be the main attraction at the amusement park for being way up after Week 1 and way down Week 2. Bell looked a step slower in Week 2 against Philadelphia compared to his opener versus Detroit. While Bell finally found the end zone, he did not gain much after first contact and picked up very little yardage on most of his touches. The Eagles collapsed quickly around him to pin him down and back for most of the day. Bell finished the game on the sidelines with ice on his knee and an apparent sprained MCL, and with Pierre Thomas nearly ready to start Mike Bell's value is plummeting.
RB Reggie Bush, NO
- Bush was injured early in the game (shoulder) but continued to play. His "rushing" was hardly part of his game as he only carried the ball as a runner in the fourth quarter after Mike Bell was injured and the Saints tried to save Pierre Thomas for next week. Bush did score on one of those three attempts but it was more a broken effort from the Eagle defense than a dramatic run. Bush will likely see nearly no carries and be primarily a receiver again next week.
RB Kevin Faulk, NE
- Faulk is supposed to be a heavily used outlet for Brady, but he has been more involved with pass protection than pass catching. There were times in the game against the Jets where Faulk was in to pass block and slide out to catch a dump off pass, but either Brady was either hurried, or there was a man right there waiting for the dump off pass. We expect Faulk to have better games, but right now, he's a risky option, even in PPR leagues.
RB Earnest Graham, TB
- Graham did not see a lot of playing time for the second week in a row. He did not see his first touch on offense until the fifth offensive possession, which came midway through the second quarter. Graham finished the game with just two rush attempts and one catch, indicating that he's not likely to be a major part of this offense as long as both Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward are healthy. Graham is still a reliable blocker and receiver and he sees playing time as a fullback, but he appears to be the forgotten man in the Bucs RB rotation so far.
RB Ryan Grant, GB
- Grant looked strong on some of his carries, and has no competition for rush attempts. However, the Packer offensive line struggled to open holes for him and Brandon Jackson's return is on the horizon. If Grant and the Packer rush offense isn't able to break out of its funk against the Rams next week, the Vikings loom in Week 4 and it could be awhile before Grant can put up strong fantasy numbers again.
RB Steven Jackson, STL
- Jackson had next to no blocking support from the Rams' offensive line against Washington in Week 2. He saved his stat line with a big 58-yard run, but the rest of his touches often had contact either at or behind the line. Jackson cannot rely on a passing game to open things up for him either, so as long as defenses key on stopping him he cannot have a big day. Jackson faces a strong Green Bay defense next week so things are unlikely to get much better.
RB Brandon Jacobs, NYG
- As Rodney Harrison mentioned on the NBC broadcast, Brandon Jacobs intimidates even the hardest-hitting defensive backs. However, the Cowboys showed that the easiest way to stop Jacobs is to bring him down before he gets a head of steam. The Cowboys routinely forced Jacobs to break tackles or change direction at the line of scrimmage by plugging up the middle and stringing Jacobs to the outside. Other than his 31-yard run, Jacobs had 15 carries for 27 yards and was not effective. In fact, Ahmad Bradshaw was more effective up the middle in this game, showing better quickness, vision, and second-effort, with a four-yard per carry average. With the Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Raiders up next, Jacobs should have better weeks, but Ahmad Bradshaw is making a case for a slightly larger split of the carries and his big-play ability should become even more apparent against these weaker defensive units.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
- Jones-Drew finished with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry in this game, but unfortunately only got 13 rush attempts. Most of his yards came on his first touch in the game when he made a great cutback behind the line of scrimmage and beat the defenders to the outside for a 36-yard gain. After that, the Cardinals generally did a good job of keeping him bottled up and preventing the Jaguars from getting any momentum going on offense. Trailing 24-3 at halftime, and 31-3 soon afterward, the Jaguars were forced to abandon the run in the second half, which made it even more difficult for Jones-Drew to make his presence felt. He was targeted 7 times in the passing game, but only finished with a disappointing 17 yards on 4 receptions. Despite the disappointing game in what looked like a strong matchup this week, Jones-Drew has a good chance to rebound next week against the Texans who have given up 430 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs through the first two games of the season.
RB Jamal Lewis, CLE
- Lewis rarely had any running room against Denver, as the Cleveland offensive line continues to struggle to open running lanes. Lewis looks slow to the hole, and nearly always went down on first contact. James Davis was inactive, but it seems only a matter of time before he begins seeing significant snaps. With Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Buffalo up next and all playing well, Lewis' future does not look bright.
RB Darren McFadden, OAK
- The Raiders running game is suffering because opposing defenses are stacking eight men in the box, daring JaMarcus Russell to beat them through the air. Until Russell presents a serious threat to do so, the Raiders RBs will find very few rushing lanes. Moreover, McFadden is not being featured the way his fantasy owners were hoping. He is sharing the workload with Michael Bush, who has been more effective than McFadden so far. The Raiders and McFadden have potential to offer a strong running game, but the passing game is going to have to offer some balance, and until that happens the whole offense will struggle to gain yards and first downs. For now, McFadden probably isn't worth starting.
RB Ray Rice, BAL
- It looks like Willis McGahee is the Ravens running back with the most fantasy value. While Rice is listed as the team's starting RB, and he currently leads the team in rushing with 144 yards, he is giving up too much of the workload to McGahee and Le'Ron McClain to have a breakout fantasy season. Importantly, McGahee, not Rice, is getting most of the goal line work. Rice will still be featured enough in the Ravens' offense to fill the flex spot in many fantasy lineups, but he is not a fantasy RB2 at this point.
RB Steve Slaton, HOU
- For the second straight week Steve Slaton struggled to run the ball. In two games, Slaton has 26 carries for a paltry 2 ypc. Subtracting Slaton's two longest runs of the year (12 and 7 yards respectively) he has produced an embarrassing 39 yards on 24 carries. Even more troubling, Slaton has three fumbles in two games (only one of which was lost) and only six total receptions. Slaton owners will need to hope that the emergence of the Texans passing game begins to loosen things up for Slaton or this could be a long season.
RB Chester Taylor, MIN
- Taylor only touched the ball twice in the first half of the game with the Vikings down by 10. He fumbled his only carry and although he recovered the ball without a turnover, he was not involved in the offense until the third quarter. Adrian Peterson ended the game with more receptions and Taylor was stuffed almost every time he touched the ball. Peterson is the only RB worth playing from the Vikings at this point.
RB Fred Taylor, NE
- The Patriots run and shoot style offense is not helping their ground game. What's worse, their running game is not helping their offense. Taylor received nearly all of his carries out of the shotgun formation against the Jets in an attempt to keep the defense off guard. It worked for the most part, but too many incomplete passes ended drives and the running game never established itself. On the bright side, Taylor ran well with authority and quickness when he was given carries but with way the offense favors the pass, he isn't getting enough opportunities, nor is he the only rushing option, which keeps him from being a reliable fantasy RB at this time.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD
- Tomlinson missed week two with a high ankle sprain. He was unable to practice at all last week, and high ankle sprains have the potential to linger for a few weeks. Moreover, with Sproles picking up right where he left off at the end of last season, Tomlinson will not get as many touches as he had for most of his career. Sproles is too talented to be used only as a kick returner; he will continue to get snaps on offense, as he is quicker and faster that Tomlinson at this stage in their respective careers. Finally, the Chargers' offensive line continues to struggle in the running game, further decreasing Tomlinson's value as a runner.
RB Derrick Ward, TB
- Despite having the most success of any Tampa running back in this game with 32 yards on 9 carries, Ward sat out much of the game in favor of Cadillac Williams. He did not receive his first touch until the third offensive possession, but he ripped off gains of 13, 9, and 5 yards on his first three runs from scrimmage. Ward was given a chance on a big fourth down play late in the third quarter but he was stuffed by the Bills defense. Based on what we've seen so far in the first two weeks, it looks like Cadillac is the feature back in Tampa while Ward is going to continue to be a change of pace. Even more concerning for Ward owners is how active Cadillac was in the passing game this week as he finished with seven receptions to just one for Ward, even though Ward is considered to be the superior receiver and blocker.
RB Chris Wells, ARI
- Wells had a promising start to the game when he broke off a 17-yard run on his first play, and then followed it up with a 9-yard gain on the next. Unfortunately, he did not protect the football very well on his third carry and fumbled the ball inside the opponent's five. The Cardinals recovered the fumble, but Tim Hightower replaced him in the lineup and scored an easy one-yard TD run on the next play. Wells did not get another touch until midway through the second quarter, when he ran for an 11-yard gain up the middle but wound up fumbling the ball again. This time he was stripped from behind, and the Jaguars recovered the football. After that point, Wells only ran the ball three more times totaling four yards. Despite the blowout win and an impressive average of 6.3 yards per carry, Wells appeared to hurt his chances of taking on a bigger role in the offense until he can reassure the coaching staff that he will protect the football.
RB Brian Westbrook, PHI
- The Saints were all over the Eagles' star running back in Week 2, as one might have expected with Philadelphia minus Donovan McNabb. Westbrook had a pedestrian game and finished the contest on a table behind the sideline with one foot bare with questions about his ankle. The Eagles play Kansas City next week then have a bye week, so Philadelphia may try and rest up and use LeSean McCoy more than Westbrook to get their top rusher and offensive weapon healthy for Week 5.
RB LenDale White, TEN
- Chris Johnson's big day came at White's expense as the burly RB received only six carries while Johnson was resting on the sidelines. All of his carries were runs up the middle, and resulted in 25 total yards. If the Titans continue to give Johnson the ball so often then predictions of a "committee" approach at running back for the Titans may be invalid for the rest of the season. White is still worth rostering and certainly may rebound in the coming weeks, but don't be shocked either if his role continues to shrink as Johnson excels.
RB Matt Forte, CHI
- Forte and the Bears offensive line have faced two Dick LeBeau-style 3-4 defenses in consecutive weeks and they struggled mightily. Their best plays were throws to the outside on screens or quick passes with Forte split outside. However, Forte was stripped on a big-play run after the catch on a fourth quarter screen pass. With only 10 yards on five carries through the first three quarters, Forte hasn't looked great, but with Seattle and Detroit on the horizon, don't overact with Forte's production thus far.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR
- Stewart demonstrated good burst and after contact skills in the secondary on runs up the middle, getting strong blocks from his receivers at the second level. He twice got the Panthers into the red area with big-play runs and twice he was removed from the game in favor of DeAngelo Williams. He had a shot at a third big play (a likely 10-yard score) on a run with good blocking off the left side, but Stewart slipped before he reached the hole.
WR Bernard Berrian, MIN
- Berrian bounced back after being shut out in week one against the Browns. Berrian led the team in receptions and was clearly the favorite target of Brett Favre when the QB threw down the field. He is perfect for a new Viking offense that focuses on short, accurate passes where the receivers make easy grabs and use their athleticism to break longer gains. Berrian took every opportunity to make good plays, taking short screens for solid gains and going over the middle on quick slants to help keep the offense moving. The entire offensive style of the team will prevent Berrian from having many big games, but he will be a solid performer from week to week and he should remain a frequent target for Farvre versus the 49ers, Packers, and Rams.
WR Steve Breaston, ARI
- After sitting out the opener with a knee injury, Breaston returned to his normal spot as the Cardinals No.3 WR this week. Although he was only targeted five times in the game, he managed to catch every pass thrown his way and finished with a team-high 83 receiving yards. His shortest catch in the game was nine yards and the rest were all 17-yard gains or longer. Also, despite some reports that the Cardinals might throw less this year due to the change in offensive coordinators, it should be noted that only one of Breaston's receptions came on a third down play. So, he was clearly a part of the base offense for the Cardinals this game and could wind up with another big season as long as Warner stays healthy.
WR Marques Colston, NO
- Colston was open all day long for QB Drew Brees, and with both of them red hot you have to get him on your fantasy team if you can. Colston grabbed everything thrown his way and seemed to be wide open in the secondary and also in the end zone on several occasions. Colston goes up against Buffalo next week before a good challenge comes in Week 4 against the Jets, but even the Eagles looked good before the Saints game to town. Get Colston and put him in your lineup.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ
- The Jets often used a two-WR formation with Dustin Keller being the third receiver coming off the line. Cotchery is considered the primary WR, but Chansi Stuckey is also seeing a lot of targets. However, it was Cotchery who had a 45-yard catch and run that sparked the Jets comeback on the first play of the third quarter that eventually led to the game-winning TD to Dustin Keller. QB Mark Sanchez plays no favorites, and doesn't appear to have a go-to receiver, but Cotchery has done a great job of catching key passes on key downs for the Jets this year. With the Jets driving, up by one point, Sanchez fired a rope 20 yards down field to a diving Cotchery that set up a FG. The catch was superb, but the pass was even more impressive. He has been making plays like that all season, which solidifies his place as a WR2 or WR3 for your roster. Next week the Jets host the Titans who have had major trouble in the pass defense department this season. Cotchery is a great start next week as a result. The week after that, the Jets travel to New Orleans. The next two games will likely be good, if not great passing match ups.
WR Julian Edelman, NE
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Edelman gets an upgrade so you can familiarize yourself with him, but chances are he will take a back seat when Wes Welker returns from his knee injury. Edelman is a former college QB turned WR in the Wes Welker mold. Welker was a last-minute scratch and Edelman essentially occupied Welker's role and played the way he plays - getting open on quick hitches, creating good separation when pressed, even breaking tackles. Edelman dropped a few balls and early in the game Moss and Brady were telling him where to line up. Edelman was inactive last week, so it's very possible that he will return to the bench when Welker returns. There is a possibility that he could replace Joey Galloway as the No.3 WR, but that's pure speculation at this point. He is someone to target as a handcuff to Welker, but adding him because you liked his performance against the Jets is a bit risky. It is unclear if he will continue to see playing time regardless of Welker's health. As for his performance, he looked the part and played the part and nearly caught a TD had Brady not overthrown him on a quick out pattern near the goal line.
WR Braylon Edwards, CLE
- Brady Quinn seemed to look downfield more often against the Denver zones and the duo of Edwards and Quinn were also more in sync. Edwards made a number of nice grabs over the middle and down the sideline, catching six passes on seven targets. Edwards will likely be inconsistent over the next couple of weeks with games against Baltimore and Cincinnati, but Quinn's play was just good enough to earn him an upgrade this week.
WR Joey Galloway, NE
- With Welker out, Galloway and Julian Edelman were the early targets for Brady. New England often lined up in multiple WR formations in the shotgun that resembled the run and shoot. Galloway showed some quickness with good hands and awareness to the blitz. He was the target of several Brady passes, especially in the first half. Like most Patriots WRs against the Jets, there were not many deep balls, due to the constant blitz when NE lined up in four- or five-WR sets. As a result, there were many quick-strike opportunities. If New England is going to continue this style of quick-strike offense, expect Galloway to be a part of it. Brady may favor Moss and Welker, but he won't let an open receiver not be rewarded. Galloway nearly had a TD that was batted away in the back of the end zone at the last moment.
WR Pierre Garcon, IND
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Rookie Austin Collie got the start over Garcon, but it was the second-year player from Mount Union who finished the game on a high note for the Colts with a 48-yard bubble screen off a Peyton Manning, blitz adjustment for the score (thanks to Collie's block to spring him). Garcon demonstrated excellent speed and patience as a runner and according to the post-game interview of Manning, Garcon was vocal in the huddle about being able to beat his coverage. Although this was Garcon's only catch, he did make an excellent over the shoulder grab in tight coverage on a deep sideline route that Manning threw too wide of the boundary for the receiver to get both feet in-bounds. With the limited number of plays that the Colts offense had due to the Miami ground attack, expect Garcon to see more targets in future weeks. He's still likely the No.3 or No.4 option in this attack, but the Colts believe he has potential to develop into a faster Reggie Wayne. It won't happen this year, but he should produce well enough as a potential flex play.
WR Ted Ginn, MIA
- Ginn did much better this week, but a lot of the credit goes to Jake Long for rebounding this week and giving his QB enough room to complete the 8-12 yard timing routes at the sideline. For the first three quarters Ginn was targeted solely on timing routes at the sideline and converted at least four third downs in the process. However Ginn had three opportunities to make game-changing plays over the the middle or down field in the end zone and the ball bounced off his hands. Ginn is simply not ready for prime time, but as long as the line gives Pennington time, he's a reasonable No. 3 WR for fantasy owners.
WR Percy Harvin, MIN
- The Minnesota rookie WR had a solid performance against the Lions, and scored in his second consecutive game. When Harvin has the ball, he runs aggressively and gets yardage after the catch. When the Lions tried to tackle him, he continued to fight for extra yards, twisting and turning, churning his legs and dragging people behind him as he ran. On his touchdown, he caught the ball and bulled his way into the end zone over the Detroit secondary. Harvin was used on end-around plays, and he was even the QB of the one Wild Cat play that the Vikings ran in the first half. For leagues that award points for special teams yardage, Harvin is even more valuable, as he is the primary kick returner for the Vikings as well. He averaged 26 yards on each of his three returns, and has the speed and skills to break longer runs in future games. He is clearly the No.2 WR for the team behind Berrian and should continue to improve as he gains confidence and gets acclimated to the speed of the game.
WR Devery Henderson, NO
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- The Saints' offense is nearly unstoppable with Drew Brees throwing as often as he wants and moving the ball downfield seemingly at will. Henderson got the start against the Eagles in Week 2 and put up decent numbers, but given how proficient that offense is, a starting wide out for the Saints is certainly worth having on your fantasy team. If Lance Moore is injured as well or dropping down the depth chart, Henderson becomes a borderline starter and a great play if Marques Colston should get injured.
WR Vincent Jackson, SD
- With the Chargers emphasizing the passing game over the running game, Vincent Jackson now has 197 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games. He has become a fantasy WR1. His deep speed, along with his size and strength, make him an ideal target in the end zone. He has improved his route-running and hands in each of the past couple years, and Philip Rivers now trusts him as much as anyone in the offense to come through with a clutch third-down catch. Jackson is proving that last year's No.12 fantasy ranking at his position was not a fluke.
WR Jacoby Jones, HOU
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Jones had only two receptions on Sunday, but both showed that quarterback Matt Schaub is gaining more and more trust in his young receiver. With Kevin Walter out, Jones will benefit from increased opportunity, particularly on deep-balls like the two he caught yesterday (44 and 39 yards). If Walter's health remains an issue the Jones will be worth a roster spot with a fair amount of upside.
WR Johnny Knox, CHI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Knox looks like a quick-learner. After helping cost the Bears the Sunday night game by not finishing a route out of his break that resulted in an interception for a score, Knox learned his lesson in this game, demonstrating good breaks to get separation and coming back to the ball when necessary. He gained yardage after the catch on slants, crosses, and improvised routes on scramble drills underneath the Steelers zone to aid his QB. He dropped a deep out after running a nice route, but Pittsburgh was off sides and he dropped a throw after initially making a leaping grab near the sideline. However, he couldn't hang onto the ball after the hit. Knox looked quick, confident, and dangerous on underneath routes in the slot on a wet field. If he continues to perform like this in future weeks, he should get open for bigger plays down field, because he will force defenses to account for him on shorter routes. Cutler was not afraid to look his direction in key situations, so this bodes well for him as a bye-week option for fantasy owners, especially with a Bears team that is struggling to run the ball.
WR Mario Manningham, NYG
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- At times, Manningham looked like the best receiver on the field. The Cowboys CBs had repeated difficulty bring Manningham down on short throws to the perimeter, whiffing on him at least twice and allowing the Giants receiver to turn 1-yard catches in to 8- to 10-yard runs or more. Manningham demonstrated excellent concentration on a 22-yard pass reception in tight coverage, where he made a juggling catch as he was sliding on the ground of the end zone for the score. He also beat the Dallas secondary for a 49-yard reception in the fourth quarter for a nice over the shoulder catch. Manningham looked electric against the Cowboys and he was consistent on hitches, slants, crossing routes, and streaks for 10 receptions in the game. He cemented his role as the Giants primary big-play threat and 1A-1B option alongside Steve Smith. When Hakeem Nicks returns, the Giants could be in far better shape as a passing attack than most anticipated, because its doubtful Manningham and Smith are coming off the field.
WR Robert Meachem, NO
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Much like Devery Henderson's value, Robert Meachem is moving up the depth chart for a prolific passing team. Drew Brees is on fire and Meachem was the third wide out for that juggernaut offense. Lance Moore is dropping in value and down the depth chart and now may be injured. Should Meachem continue to play and play well, he is certainly worth adding to your roster as a backup, and could be used as a spot starter in a pinch against a bad pass defense.
WR Chad Ochocinco, CIN
- Ochocinco earns this upgrade not because of what he did (though his numbers were strong for the second consecutive week), but for what he didn't do. After starting slowly and getting crossed up on a couple of patterns with Carson Palmer, Ochocinco showed none of the moody, sulking behavior he made a habit in 2008. Instead, he continued to block effectively for Cedric Benson and kept his head in the game before jumpstarting a strong second half with a 44-yard catch on a flea flicker late in the second quarter that led to a touchdown and gave the Bengals momentum heading into the locker room. All indications are that Palmer trusts Ochocinco again and will look for him in any situation.
WR Antwaan Randle El, WAS
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Randle El is technically the WR3 for Washington, but that's just to get him in his best spot -- the slot -- on offense. Randle El got open often and collected four balls including a nice 24-yard pass down the seam. Amazing that Randle El is still available on waiver wires out there in deep leagues since Jason Campbell certainly looks his way often. Randle El is a great sleeper for Week 3 against Detroit.
WR Laurent Robinson, STL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- There is little question that the Rams are struggling on offense. Washington focused on taking away their top WR (Donnie Avery), leaving Robinson open for shorter passes most of the day. Robinson may not put up huge numbers, but in PPR leagues he will have some value and could be a decent spot or flex starter especially with bye weeks about to come on the schedule.
WR Mike Sims-Walker, JAX
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- As a WR entering his third season, Sims-Walker was a favorite sleeper of many coming into the 2009 season. He has had a difficult time staying healthy but has flashed some intriguing potential when he has been able to play. Sims-Walker brings good size to the position and is a difficult player to tackle with the ball in his hands. Like it was for most of the Jaguars, this was a tale of two halves for Sims-Walker. His only reception in the first half came on a WR screen when he was tackled for a one-yard loss, but the offense seemed to come to life in the second half when he became a much bigger part. He exploded in the second half for five receptions (on seven targets) and 107 yards that included a 19-yard TD pass in which he effortlessly broke a tackle attempt from the corner and ran freely into the end zone. There is a clear opportunity here for Sims-Walker to emerge as a productive weapon in the Jaguars passing game. Torry Holt will likely remain the No.1 WR, but he doesn't appear to have the big-play ability that he was known for while with the Rams. Troy Williamson had a strong preseason and was expected to contribute some big plays in the offense, but he had a momentum killing fumble in this game and was knocked out with a shoulder injury. Sims-Walker will likely be one of the hottest waiver wire pickups this week and could be an excellent addition if you are looking for depth at the WR position.
WR Steve Smith, NYG
- Smith opened the game with a 32-yard reception down the right flat and continued to exploit the Cowboys defense with his excellent route running the rest of the night. His touchdown catch was the result of a great hook and go route where he dropped his hips as if he were going to break on a hook route, but ran to the post. This move was so good, Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick bit hard enough to fall on his behind once he saw Smith was moving behind him. Smith continued to make key plays in the 10-15 yards downfield, showing excellent hands after contact. He also drew an interference call in the second half when Cowboys CB Terence Newman blocked Smith's path to the ball on a sideline streak 20-30 yards down field. Smith won't be the big-play artist that Manningham is, but he will likely be the more consistent option for the Giants passing game.
WR Maurice Stovall, TB
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Stovall started the game in place of an injured Antonio Bryant and played very well. He got off to a good start with a 23-yard catch over the middle on a third down play that was helped by a breakdown in zone coverage by the Bills secondary. Stovall also made one of the best plays in the game on a huge fourth down catch when he leaped over Reggie Corner for a 38-yard gain that kept the Buccaneers hopes alive. He was also targeted for a jump ball in the end zone soon afterward, but he wasn't able to keep both feet inbounds after making the catch. Stovall is a huge receiver who looks like he could he could make a nice contribution to the Tampa offense this year and become an excellent target in the red zone.
WR Chansi Stuckey, NYJ
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- The Jets say that Jerricho Cotchery is their primary WR, but Chansi Stuckey is doing a great job as a complimentary WR2 that warrants a flex option or WR4 start for your roster. He had two end zone targets against New England, one of which was caught for a TD that was over-ruled because he didn't have both feet in bounds. That would've been his second TD in as many games. Sanchez has no clear favorite WR and Stuckey is doing his best at keeping it that way. The Jets rarely use anything more than a two-WR set, which means when Sanchez does pass down field, there's a good chance it will be intended for Cotchery, Stuckey or TE Dustin Keller. If you have Stuckey stashed on your bench, next week may be a great time to start him against the Titans horrendous pass defense that is averaging over 350 yards allowed passing per game.
WR Bobby Wade, KC
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Wade signed with the Chiefs just five days before the game against the Raiders, but learned the playbook well enough to be the Chiefs' leading receiver on Sunday. Wade was targeted a team-high nine times, catching 6 passes for 72 yards (in addition to handling punt-return duties). Wade led the Vikings in receiving last season, and appears to have displaced Mark Bradley as the team's starting WR opposite Dwayne Bowe. Wade has sure hands and is definitely worth picking up off the waiver wire.
WR Nate Washington, TEN
- Nate Washington caught 4 balls for 36 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. More importantly, he was on the field for most snaps and looks healthy and comfortable with the Tennessee offense. The overall Tennessee passing game may keep Washington from being a "must-start" player this season, but it is clear that the Titans intend on having him play a big role this season. He is worth having in deep leagues and in the very possible event that he displaces Justin Gage as the Titans' top receiving option, he could have a fair amount of value this year.
WR Donnie Avery, STL
- Avery had one catch for four yards and a fumble -- as the top wide out options for the Rams. That tells you pretty much all you need to know. Washington keyed on Avery and blanketed him, shutting him down most of the game. The Rams get Green Bay next week so the odds of Avery producing much remain low, especially with Marc Bulger under constant pressure.
WR Mark Bradley, KC
- After Bradley made a mental mistake in week one (catching the ball just short of the first down marker on a third down play), head coach Todd Haley expressed displeasure with Bradley's play, and signed Bobby Wade. After being targeted seven times in week one, Bradley was not targeted at all in week two. It appears that Bobby Wade has taken over Bradley's role in the offense, and with Wade's impressive play in week two, it looks like that won't change. Bradley can be dropped in redraft leagues.
WR Michael Clayton, TB
- With an injury to Antonio Bryant, Clayton was expected to serve as the No. 1 WR in this game, but he was mostly a non-factor. He finished the game with just two receptions on four targets for 27 yards and 23 of those yards came on a single play when the corner covering him fell down. Clayton ran with power and used a nice stiff arm to extend the run a few yards, but that was his only positive play in the game. He was targeted in the end zone on another play, but was flagged for offensive pass interference and dropped the ball anyway. It looks like last week's strong game may have been a bit of a fluke.
WR Josh Cribbs, CLE
- Cribbs was targeted frequently, but averaged only 4.4 yards per catch. He's still raw as a route-runner, and isn't consistently getting separation on deeper routes. With Brady Quinn reluctant to throw the ball into tight coverage downfield, Cribbs has a long way to go to earn his trust on deep balls. The Browns look likely to give Cribbs plenty of time to grow into the No. 2 WR role, because Mohammed Massaquoi continues to get very few snaps. He is very capable of breaking a short pass for a big play, but his upcoming opponents are likely to game plan their attack to force Quinn to check-down to Cribbs, feeling confident about their chances for success.
WR Justin Gage, TEN
- Nate Washington's emergence in the passing game on Sunday came at the expense of Justin Gage. As usual, the Titans' receiving corps simply doe not have enough opportunities to go around. While Gage will certainly have some productive games this season, making him worthy of a roster spot, he is unlikely to emerge as a true number one receiver in Tennessee thus making his consistency and upside questionable.
WR Domenik Hixon, NYG
- If you saw Hixon's one short catch and relegation to special teams duty against the Cowboy's while Mario Manningham broke out, then you know he just got passed on the depth chart. He has little fantasy value unless Manningham or Steve Smith gets injured, and by then, rookie Hakeem Nicks might be ready to go.
WR Greg Jennings, GB
- Jennings dropped an easy catch early in the game, and then struggled to find a rhythm with Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the contest. The five targets are reassuring that Jennings wasn't shut down by the Bengal corners, and that Rodgers was still looking to involve him in the offense. However, Rodgers was again pressured often and the potential loss of OL Chad Clifton could keep Jennings from getting his usual downfield opportunities in coming weeks. Jennings is considered an elite receiver, but he'll need to prove he can rebound from a bad week before he earns a free pass for a bad fantasy week.
WR Bryant Johnson, DET
- Bryant Johnson was a complete non-factor in this game. He was wide open on one pass play where Stafford overthrew him by a mile. Aside from that, his name barely came up during the commentary. Many figured he would be a solid No.2 for the Lions this season, but he wasn't even a consideration in this game. He'll have to show a lot more involvement in the offense to deserve being considered a legitimate fantasy WR.
WR Lance Moore, NO
- Don't look now, but Lance Moore might be coming to a milk carton near you very soon. Moore had zero targets and was allegedly injured in the third quarter in the Philadelphia game in Week 2, but the question has to be where was he all first half? Moore did not start and is listed now as Marques Colston's backup. Until he steps up and makes a real contribution to an amazing offense, get him out of your starting lineup.
WR Josh Morgan, SF
- The big game by Frank Gore was partly the reason behind Josh Morgan shutout against the Seahawks. However, Morgan did do plenty of blocking and was on the field for most of the 49er possessions and with the ground game working on all cylinders, there was not a need to pass the ball down the field. Morgan looked very impressive in the preseason and week one against the Cardinals, but this game doesn't help his standing among your roster. Keep him reserved on your bench for now if you have better options, but don't be surprised to see him excel at some point this season - perhaps sooner than later.
WR Sidney Rice, MIN
- For the second week in a row, Sidney Rice was a minor factor in the Minnesota offense. He had three solid catches, but they were for short and medium yards, and not really during key moments. He almost reached the end zone with one of his receptions, but was stopped short. He made the most of his targets, but he is clearly the No. 3 guy on the team behind Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. He might see more opportunities against tough defenses in coming weeks but with the pecking order so clear, Rice is a speculative play, at best.
WR Eddie Royal, DEN
- Kyle Orton is targeting Royal frequently, but the WR's catch percentage is way off last season's number. Royal is getting enough separation on most occasions, but Orton has struggled to fit the ball into the tighter windows on shorter routes, or hit Royal in stride on others. There's plenty of upside for Royal if Orton's issues are related to the injury to his throwing hand. Orton is wearing to protect it, which could be part of the problem. Regardless of the reason, the first two weeks haven't been encouraging.
WR Roy Williams, DAL
- If the Giants secondary is suspect, just imagine the Buccaneers DBs after Williams had a nice statistical week in the opener. Williams is supposed to the top receiver in Dallas, but against the Giants he could not get on track. He was nearly invisible with just one grab on a short pass where he ran it down the sideline for an 18-yard gain. Right now Williams' fantasy stock is falling like a rock.
WR Troy Williamson, JAX
- After a disappointing effort in the opener, Williamson followed it up with another clunker this week. He did make a nice 13-yard catch on and early 3rd and 11 to keep a drive alive, but that was his only positive play. Late in the first half with the game still in reach, the Jaguars were driving down the field and had a chance to pull within a TD before halftime. Williamson made a nice catch on a slant route and broke it outside to pick up what looked like an easy first down. Unfortunately, he fumbled the ball and suffered a shoulder injury while trying to recover it. The Cardinals jumped on the fumble and quickly marched down the field to take a big lead into halftime. Williamson never returned to the game after that, and the strong performance by Sims-Walker in the second half probably means the No. 2 WR job is now his to lose. If you need some extra roster space, Williamson is probably a safe guy to cut loose.
WR Jason Avant, PHI
- Hold on there everybody! Avant did have seven catches, but most of those came long after the game was decided and with DeSean Jackson on the sidelines resting. Avant is too far down the depth chart to have fantasy relevance. Don't waste your pick.
WR Devin Hester, CHI
- Although Hester only gained 21 yards on four catches he demonstrated improvement with his routes and hands on tough plays that should pay dividends for fantasy owners against less formidable defenses. He came back to the ball on a 3rd and 3 for 12 yards after Cutler avoided the outside rush by the LB. He also made a good catch on a low throw on third down for the conversion underneath the zone to help Chicago control the clock late in the game. We all think of Hester as a deep threat, but it's these underneath catches combined with Johnnie Knox's ascent that could help Hester break loose in future weeks against Seattle and Detroit.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET
- Calvin Johnson was a key focal point of the Lions offense during the first half where he was used both as a receiver, a runner and a decoy for Kevin Smith. Fantasy owners should feel good that the Lions used him in a variety of roles, including motioning Johnson from the outside to the backfield and then flipping it to him on a pitch play. Johnson's size and speed makes him dangerous every time he touches the ball. He was open in the end zone on the Detroit's first possession, but Matt Stafford couldn't get the ball to him. When the Lions trailed the Vikings in the second half, they couldn't get Johnson the ball. Once the Lions and Matt Stafford can figure out how to get Johnson the ball consistently late in the game, he's going to be a solid upgrade. Until then, his value is holding steady.
WR Brandon Marshall, DEN
- Marshall spent most of the first half on the bench when the Broncos used two wide receiver sets - just as he did last week. However, Marshall finally began seeing significant playing time in all sets in the second half. Marshall looked strong on an end around and began showing better chemistry with Orton on shorter routes. Orton isn't consistently looking for him downfield, which could limit Marshall's upside despite the increased playing time. As with Calvin Johnson and Devin Hester, players with great ability but adjusting to new quarterbacks, Marshall holds steady this week. However, he shouldn't be high on your list in the first place.
WR Randy Moss, NE
- After a 12-catch performance in week one, Jets CB Darrelle Revis shut down Randy Moss. No downgrade for Moss though, because he will continue to be big contributor on offense and as evidenced by Andre Johnson's week two explosion after Revis shut him down in the opener, Moss wasn't alone. He was blanketed by CB Darrelle Revis all game long despite drawing single coverage. However due to the relentless blitzing packages the Jets were throwing at Brady, Moss was only able to catch short passes mainly because Brady didn't have time to set up many deep throws. On the only deep pass to Moss, the only snap not in shotgun the whole game, Moss had single coverage, but Revis made an athletic play and had better position to grab the interception. Look for a rebound next week.
WR Santana Moss, WAS
- The Redskins cannot get anything going in the way of a deep passing attack, costing most of Santana Moss' value. Moss had one longer pass of 21 yards but that was by far his highlight for the game as the Redskins were only afforded a shorter passing game all day. Moss also fumbled after a short catch, costing the Redskins another scoring chance in St. Louis territory. Moss gets a "pass" here and is just a "hold' on the Upgrade/Downgrades for one reason: Detroit is next on the schedule. Last chance, Santana Moss, step up or stand down.
WR Reggie Wayne, IND
- Don't worry about Wayne despite his lowly stats. Dallas Clark had such a big game and the Colts had so few opportunities due to the Dolphins ground attack that Wayne just didn't see enough targets. When Manning spotted Wayne in single coverage, he took advantage with throws like a back shoulder fade stop in the fourth quarter at the sideline for a first down to move the chains and set up a game-winning play to Pierre Garcon. Clark served enough notice this week to force opposing defenses to worry about him breaking big plays, which should loosen up coverage against Wayne. However, I think the only reason Wayne was not a factor had to do with the Colts losing the time of possession battle this week. It won't be the case very week.
TE Martellus Bennett, DAL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Bennett was on the field frequently against the Cowboys as a part of two-TE sets. Tony Romo looked in Bennett's direction several time, but the QB's poor night prevented Bennett from having a bigger game. Bennett had four targets including one near the Red Zone, but he could only reel in one pass. The takeaway here is that Bennett is a bigger part of the offense than most any other No. 2 TE in the NFL and with a the WRs struggling, he should continue to see more looks and gain better game day rapport with his QB.
TE Brent Celek, PHI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Celek continued his efforts from Week 1, this time leading the Eagles in targets, receptions and yardage. Celek moved the chains with regularity with several grabs over the middle and towards the sideline as it often took two or three Saints to get him to the ground. Celek and backup QB Kevin Kolb are good friends and roommates on the road, which only adds to the chemistry between the two. Odds are that Kolb starts in Week 3 so expect another solid game for Celek against Kansas City next week.
TE Dallas Clark, IND
- It was a career game for Dallas Clark that began with the first offensive play for the Colts, a quick play-action pass to Clark for an 80-yard score where he broke the first tackle and out-raced the defense the remaining 40 yards. Whether it was deep outs against safeties or seam routes versus linebackers, Clark seemed to get open at will and repeatedly broke the first tackle. Manning's accurate is pin-point and as long as the QB is under center, Clark is an elite fantasy TE this year.
TE Alge Crumpler, TEN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Bo Scaife's injury meant that veteran Alge Crumpler was called on to fill the role as pass-catching tight end. Crumpler finished with 4 catches for 44 yards. Such a performance should only serve to keep rookie Jared Cook on the sidelines. Furthermore, Crumpler's performance showed that he still has value as a receiver. Even when Bo Scaife returns, don't be surprised to see Crumpler continue to catch a few balls each week.
TE Kellen Davis, CHI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Davis didn't have any downfield plays as a receiver, but he made good catches in traffic and tight spaces, including a touchdown at the goal line over the middle between defenders. He dropped one easy pass on drag route, but followed up with another tough catch over the middle. Davis is a big, strong, and fluid athlete who benefited from Desmond Clark's absence, and could be a decent bye-week, injury sub for a desperate fantasy owner. Since teams are focused on stopping Hester and Greg Olsen, Davis could benefit for a few weeks. His upside is good enough that he could make Desmond Clark expendable if he continues to produce.
TE Jermichael Finley, GB
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Finley was a much bigger part of the Packer offense this week. His seven targets were second only to Donald Driver, and he left a lot of potential receiving yardage on the field after dropping one long pass and narrowly missing with Aaron Rodgers on another. Unlike teammate Donald Lee, Finley is being used as a downfield receiving option and often split outside the tackles. There are too many options on this team for Finley to be a consistently top-targeted receiver, but he's showing that he'll have games where he can produce like a TE1.
TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL
- Gonzalez may not be far from the top of the heap at his position, but bump him closer to the pinnacle, because he is clearly option 1A in this Falcons passing attack. Whether he was on the line or split from the formation, he was savvy, acrobatic, and clutch. He made great catches on a fade stop in tight coverage, a leaping deep seam route for a score, and snag of a low-thrown ball that had to be reviewed for by the replay booth to see that Gonzalez made the play. He even drew a third-down interference call in the end zone at the top of the fourth quarter inside the 10-yard line. Based on the lackluster defensive play in this division and complementary weapons in Roddy White and Michael Turner, it looks like Gonzalez was wrong that he would see a minor drop-off in production this year.
TE Dustin Keller, NYJ
- Mark Sanchez is using a lot of Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey between the 20s but in the Red Zone, Keller comes alive. He had a 9-yard TD on the first possession of the second half that gave the Jets the lead over New England for good. He had a few short passes here and there and was sometimes used in pass protection, but when the need called for a quick strike or a route down the field, he often broke off the line and saw single coverage. Sanchez found him three times, but he was open on several other occasions as his QB rolled away from him. The Jets host the Titans next week in what seems like a tough match up, but Tennessee has had major problems in pass defense, which bodes well for Keller and the Jets.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- After being shut out week one against the Cleveland Browns, Brandon Pettigrew proved that he was worth the first-round draft pick that the Lions spent on him in April. Matt Stafford looked to Pettigrew frequently in this game and there were designed plays to get Pettigrew the ball in space. Stafford checked down frequently to Pettigrew when his primary pass catchers were covered. Even more encouraging was the fact that Pettigrew took some solid shots after the catch, held onto the ball, and bounced back up and returned to the huddle for more. He really shined in this game, averaging 10 yards per reception on his four catches. He will need to be more consistent before he can be considered a starter for your fantasy team, but he is definitely worth an upgrade this week, especially with Stafford having problems finding Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson's mug appearing on milk cartons in the Detroit area.
TE Dante Rosario, CAR
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Rosario converted two big plays on his three catches, gaining nine yards on a third down throw where he turned up field for the marker, running through defenders. He also caught a third down touchdown pass where he dove across the goal line in the fourth quarter to keep the Panthers in the game. Steve Smith is clearly the first option, but after that it's a toss up among Muhsin Muhammad, DeAngelo Williams, Jeff King, and Dante Rosario. However Rosario is more athletic than King, and should benefit from finding openings underneath with teams more focused on Williams and Muhammad. He's a sneaky bye-week option.
TE Kellen Winslow, TB
- Despite facing a lot of attention from the Bills defense, Winslow was the best player on the field for the Buccaneers and led all players in the game with 10 targets, 7 receptions, and 90 yards. The highlight of the game for him was clearly the 42-yard TD-catch in the second quarter. Winslow showed great speed on the play as he streaked down the seam and beat the Bills No.1 corner Terrence McGee on the play. He was effective throughout the game on both short and long passes and it certainly looks like could finish the year as Tampa's leading receiver.
TE Zach Miller, OAK
- When the team completes only seven passes on the day (and only three until the final two and a half minutes), it is hard for any of its receivers to have a big game. Miller should still be one of Russell's favorite targets going forward, but he was targeted only three times on Sunday and finished with no receptions. Moreover, when Chaz Schilens returns, possibly in week four, there may be a further shift in targets favoring the WRs over the TEs. (Even as things stand now, the two Raiders who have been most heavily targeted so far on the season are WRs Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey.) Miller is still a decent starter as a fantasy TE, but he will need much improved play from his quarterback before he can be considered top-tier.
TE Tony Scheffler, DEN
- Scheffler beat one-on-one coverage split wide on the goal line for a touchdown, but was otherwise targeted just once. He looks like he'll be targeted much less often by Kyle Orton in Josh McDaniels' offense.
TE Greg Olsen, CHI
- Olsen had two drops in this game. One was a short out from the slot that was his mistake. The second drop was a deep out where he was knocked silly and both he and the safety had to be attended to after the play. He did come back to contribute, including a 29-yard gain where the made the catch after a tough hit. The stats weren't great, but Olsen was targeted often, including a fade route in the end zone where he was breaking open but slipped before the ball arrived. Look for Olsen to have bigger days against the Seahawks and Lions. Especially with teams having to account for Johnnie Knox and Cutler's mobility.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN
- As TEs go, Shiancoe isn't considered a 'starter-quality', fantasy TE. In fact, he's not a big part of the Minnesota passing attack. However, one thing is clear from this game: Brett Favre likes his TE in the Red Zone, and Shiancoe will benefit from this. Shiancoe wasn't targeted much during the game. But when Favre was down on the goal line, and he needed to get the ball in the end zone, he rolled out and hit Shiancoe as the TE came free. It was a textbook Favre play that worked to perfection, and one that we will see more of. Shiancoe isn't going to be a big-play TE like Antonio Gates or Jason Witten. However, he will get a few goal line TDs and that makes him worth keeping an eye on in most leagues.
PK Rian Lindell, BUF
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Every year, there is at least one kicker that goes undrafted in the vast majority of fantasy leagues yet spends all season among the elite fantasy kickers. Lindell looks like a good bet to be that type of player in 2009. He is perfect on six PATs and five FGs (two of which have been over 40 yards) and faces the Saints, Dolphins and Browns in the next three weeks.
PK Lawrence Tynes, NYG
- Tynes is leading all kickers in scoring with 26 points. Already this year, he has made seven FGs and five PATs. Plus, he has been consistent with double-digit scoring each week this season. With the Buccaneers up next, expect more great scoring from Tynes.
PK Jason Elam, ATL
- In most drafts, Elam was a common top-5 pick among PKs. He has long been known for accuracy (81% for his career and 91% over the last three years), and the Falcons offense provided him with plenty of scoring opportunties in 2008. Well, the opportunities have been there this season, but the accuracy has disappeared in 2009 (two missed FGs and even a missed PAT).
TD Cincinnati Bengals, CIN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Just as everyone thought, Head Coach Marvin Lewis has brought solid defense to Cincinnati. Of course, it took a while, but this is what everyone expected way back in 2003. We'd like to see them force more turnovers (they have only one), but the Bengals lead the league in sacks with nine. This group would be fantastic in a committee as they have nice matchups throughout the remainder of the season including Cleveland twice, Oakland, Detroit and Kansas City.
TD Denver Broncos, DEN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Surprisingly, the Broncos are among the league leaders in points allowed (first in the league), yards allowed (third), yards allowed per play (fourth), and turnovers forced (tied for sixth). Sure, they have only played the Bengals and Browns, but there are other nice spots on the schedule as well (starting with the Raiders in Week 3).
TD Arizona Cardinals, ARI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- We saw hints of this in their Super Bowl run, but the Cardinals defense looks like a great fantasy unit. They are second in the league with eight sacks and have forced four turnovers so far this season. Their schedule is a tad rough over the next couple of weeks, but they look great for the fantasy playoffs (closing with Detroit and St. Louis in Weeks 15 and 16).
TD New York Jets, NYJ
- You don't need us to tell you this, but the Jets defense is for real. They made Tom Brady look like Shaun Hill, which isn't horrible but it's quite the feat considering it's Tom freakin' Brady. Gang Green believes they can handle an offense, and we have no reason to believe otherwise.
TD New Orleans Saints, NO
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- No, the Saints are not an elite NFL defense. However, they are looking like a very good fantasy defense. The reason is, obviously, the Saints offense. Drew Brees and Company are playing at such a high level that it pressures the opposing offense to try to keep up. This gives the Saints defense lots of opportunities for big plays. New Orleans already has a fumble recovery, six INTs, three sacks and a TD. Of course, their usefulness ebbs a bit in scoring systems that take into consideration yards and points allowed, but the Saints still look like one of the surprise fantasy units of 2009.
TD San Diego Chargers, SD
- The Chargers are still a viable fantasy unit, but this group took a hit late last week with the announcement that DT Jamal Williams would miss the remainder of the season due to a injured triceps. Without Williams, San Diego is vulnerable to the run. That weakness will eat into their big-play ability as teams won't have a large need to pass.
TD Dallas Cowboys, DAL
- Cowboy Nation wants Tony Romo's head right now, but this defense has been horrible in every way this season. They can't stop their opponent when it matters (see the Giants' game-winning drive in Week 2), and they can't stop their opponent when it doesn't matter (see 450 total yards by the Buccaneers in Week 1). Even worse for fantasy players, the Cowboys have zero sacks, zero INTs, zero fumble recoveries and zero business being on a fantasy roster.
TD Miami Dolphins, MIA
- The Dolphins didn't look so great statistically, but they did pressure Manning effectively up the middle to forcing quick, inaccurate throws. This create enough three and out situations for the Dolphins to maintain their offensive game plan. Rookie CB Sean Smith continues to show promise, battling Reggie Wayne with some success in single coverage and the Dolphins successful stopped the stretch play with enough consistency that the Colts didn't emphasize the run in this tight game. San Diego will likely post similar numbers on the Dolphins, but expect some sacks of Philip Rivers and Buffalo the week after is also a decent match up.