All our week 4 content
Week 4 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 Jay Cutler, CHI
- QB Joe Flacco, BAL
- QB Carson Palmer, CIN
- QB Matt Schaub, HOU
- QB Eli Manning, NYG
- QB Brett Favre, MIN
- QB Donovan McNabb, PHI
- QB Jason Campbell, WAS
- QB Matthew Stafford, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Derek Anderson, CLE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Seneca Wallace, SEA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Kyle Boller, STL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Josh Johnson, TB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Chad Henne, MIA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- QB Peyton Manning, IND
- QB Aaron Rodgers, GB
- QB Byron Leftwich, TB
- QB Brady Quinn, CLE
- QB Chad Pennington, MIA
- QB Marc Bulger, STL
- QB Matt Cassel, KC
- QB Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
- QB Jake Delhomme, CAR
- QB Trent Edwards, BUF
- QB Tom Brady, NE
- QB Drew Brees, NO
- QB Josh Freeman, TB
- QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ
- QB Shaun Hill, SF
- QB Kevin Kolb, PHI
- QB Kyle Orton, DEN
- QB Philip Rivers, SD
- QB Kerry Collins, TEN
- QB David Garrard, JAX
- QB Tony Romo, DAL
- RB Cedric Benson, CIN
- RB Willis McGahee, BAL
- RB Pierre Thomas, NO
- RB LeSean McCoy, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Fred Taylor, NE
- RB Correll Buckhalter, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
- RB Glen Coffee, SF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Knowshon Moreno, DEN
- RB Jamaal Charles, KC *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Julius Jones, SEA
- RB Michael Bush, OAK
- RB Jerome Harrison, CLE *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Willie Parker, PIT
- RB Tashard Choice, DAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Chester Taylor, MIN
- RB Marshawn Lynch, BUF
- RB Maurice Morris, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- RB Donald Brown, IND
- RB Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
- RB Frank Gore, SF
- RB Darren Sproles, SD
- RB Larry Johnson, KC
- RB Thomas Jones, NYJ
- RB James Davis, CLE
- RB Kevin Smith, DET
- RB Justin Forsett, SEA
- RB Darren McFadden, OAK
- RB Fred Jackson, BUF
- RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR
- RB Derrick Ward, TB
- RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
- RB Chris Brown, HOU
- RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR
- RB Michael Turner, ATL
- RB Brandon Jacobs, NYG
- RB Steven Jackson, STL
- RB Ray Rice, BAL
- RB Ronnie Brown, MIA
- RB Tim Hightower, ARI
- RB Steve Slaton, HOU
- RB Brian Westbrook, PHI
- RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
- RB LenDale White, TEN
- RB Chris Johnson, TEN
- RB Felix Jones, DAL
- WR DeSean Jackson, PHI
- WR Vincent Jackson, SD
- WR Derrick Mason, BAL
- WR Mike Sims-Walker, JAX *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ
- WR Pierre Garcon, IND *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Steve Breaston, ARI
- WR Donald Driver, GB
- WR Santana Moss, WAS
- WR Nate Burleson, SEA
- WR Steve Smith, NYG
- WR Devin Hester, CHI
- WR Brandon Marshall, DEN
- WR Kevin Walter, HOU
- WR Keenan Burton, STL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Kelley Washington, BAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Andre Caldwell, CIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Mike Wallace, PIT *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Patrick Crayton, DAL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Davone Bess, MIA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Laveranues Coles, CIN
- WR Michael Jenkins, ATL
- WR Sidney Rice, MIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Bryant Johnson, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Josh Reed, BUF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Sammie Stroughter, TB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- WR Reggie Wayne, IND
- WR Braylon Edwards, CLE
- WR Antonio Bryant, TB
- WR Laurent Robinson, STL
- WR Donnie Avery, STL
- WR Chris Henry, CIN
- WR Ted Ginn, MIA
- WR Terrell Owens, BUF
- WR Chris Chambers, SD
- WR Roy Williams, DAL
- WR Joey Galloway, NE
- WR Jacoby Jones, HOU
- WR Muhsin Muhammad, CAR
- WR Julian Edelman, NE
- WR Isaac Bruce, SF
- WR Steve Smith, CAR
- WR Calvin Johnson, DET
- WR Dwayne Bowe, KC
- WR Torry Holt, JAX
- WR Austin Collie, IND
- WR James Jones, GB
- WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
- WR Roddy White, ATL
- WR Bernard Berrian, MIN
- WR Percy Harvin, MIN
- WR Josh Morgan, SF
- WR Chad Ochocinco, CIN
- WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, SEA
- WR Eddie Royal, DEN
- WR Mario Manningham, NYG
- WR Michael Clayton, TB
- TE Vernon Davis, SF
- TE Brent Celek, PHI
- TE Dante Rosario, CAR *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Todd Heap, BAL
- TE Derek Fine, BUF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Heath Miller, PIT
- TE Will Heller, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TE Jermichael Finley, GB
- TE Zach Miller, OAK
- TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL
- TE Chris Baker, NE
- TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN
- TE Kellen Winslow, TB
- PK Matt Prater, DEN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- PK Jason Hanson, DET *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- PK Jason Elam, ATL
- PK Rob Bironas, TEN
- TD New Orleans Saints, NO *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD Cincinnati Bengals, CIN *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- TD Denver Broncos, DEN
- TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL
- TD Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT
QB Derek Anderson, CLE
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Anderson replaced the benched Brady Quinn in the second half against the Ravens. While he didn't look good, throwing three interceptions during a run of poor decisions, he showed some interest in throwing the ball downfield. Eric Mangini wouldn't commit to a starter for next week, but Anderson has to be considered the better bet after Mangini essentially pulled the rug from under his anointed starter in less than two games. Anderson's erratic production is a fantasy owner's nightmare, but his connection with Braylon Edwards makes him a potential high upside option against the Bengals and Bills over the next two weeks if he's named the starter. Still, both opponents have been more opportunistic on defense this year, and against better opponents than Cleveland. And without a solid No.2 WR option opposite Edwards, don't get too excited about Anderson's prospects.
QB Kyle Boller, STL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- With Marc Bulger knocked out of the game early, Kyle Boller came in and moved the ball effectively against a tough Packers defense. He did not always throw with great accuracy and did not take any big chances downfield, but he was generally efficient with the football. With the Rams trailing early, he was in catch up mode nearly the entire time, and wound up attempting 31 passes. Most of his 16 completions were for short gains, but he made quick decisions with the football and avoided taking any sacks. His only interception came off a throw that was slightly behind his receiver and Charles Woodson made an excellent play to take the ball away. Boller also showed good mobility in the game, adding 31 yards rushing on four attempts. Combine Bulger's durability issues with an injured throwing shoulder, and there's a good chance that Boller could see quite a bit of playing time. He should make player with decent garbage-time potential.
QB Jason Campbell, WAS
- Campbell began the game by fumbling the snap and taking a sack as a result. However, he had a solid first series, spreading the ball around to Santana Moss, Malcolm Kelley and Devin Thomas. Unfortunately it would be the only time that Kelly and Thomas had any impact on the game. Campbell drove the Skins down to the one-yard line but they couldn't punch it in. He ran only eight more plays in the first half and only completed short passes in that time. In the second half, Campbell came out throwing. He rolled out well to avoid pressure and found Santana Moss multiple times, including a great throw on a corner route where Moss took it the distance to pull Washington within a score. For the rest of the game, Campbell was inconsistent. In some cases, Campbell made solid throws to Moss. In other times he missed the open man and overthrew Kelly on one deep pass. On the final two possessions, Campbell moved the offense well -- completing passes to whoever was open. Antwaan Randle El saw some action his way, and he made the most of his receptions with quick passes over the middle and down the sidelines. In the final possession, Campbell completed multiple passes over the middle to Moss, Betts and Cooley. Unfortunately he just ran out of time and the Redskins lost. If the Redskins had more time in the first half, the game would have been a different result -- Campbell played well enough for the Redskins and definitely well enough for fantasy owners.
QB Jay Cutler, CHI
- Jay Cutler was nearly perfect in Week 3 against the Seahawks, working well with Devin Hester, Greg Olsen and even Earl Bennett to move the team downfield and ratchet up three touchdowns. Cutler is heating up and getting all of his lesser-known receiving targets the ball in places where they can make plays, and he is elevating the entire offense. Chicago gets a very favorable matchup next week with the Lions heading to the Windy City in Week 4 before Chicago's Week 5 bye.
QB Brett Favre, MIN
- Last week we told you that in his role as QB for the Vikings, Brett Favre would never throw for 300 yards and 3 TDS in a game. Sure enough, Favre marched the Vikings 80 yards with 1:29 left in the game, capping it off with a 32-yard TD pass to give him 301 yards for the day. For the game, Favre was generally accurate with most of his short and medium range passes, but had several longer misses when he went downfield. In many cases, his longer passes were catchable balls that Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe dropped. To start the game, Farve was in top form, and he seemed to thrive on the frequent blitzing that the 49ers were doing, finding the open man or dumping the ball to Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. He picked the defense apart, finding the open man and marching the team down the field. On the second series, he had several perfect play action passes, setting up his laser strike to Sidney Rice for the game's first score. But once San Francisco reduced their frequency of blitzes, Favre's accuracy began to suffer. He threw a few passes that were nearly intercepted, including one near the end of the second quarter before Longwell's second FG that would have been an easy six points for the Niners. The one interception he did throw was actually not his fault, because Bernard Berrian tipped the pass that he should have caught and it was intercepted. Berrian dropped several passes on the day , and was not in sync with Farve for most of the game. The final drive was typical Favre, staying cool under pressure and working the open man with perfect passes and excellent clock management. He hung tough under pressure and took a lot of punishment, but did what needed to be done to win the game. He is definitely worth an upgrade though as he proved he can throw for 300 yards if it's needed to win the game against an improved San Francisco defense and Minnesota's toughest opponent to date. Look for Favre to be up for his Monday night match up at Lambeau Field.
QB Joe Flacco, BAL
- Flacco was smooth and poised against a scuffling Cleveland defense, and had the Baltimore offense running on all cylinders. Flacco has veteran Derrick Mason playing at the top of his game and Kelley Washington and Todd Heap emerging as underneath threats to complement the usually strong Raven rush attack. With the way the Ravens are moving the ball, Flacco should continue to put up strong numbers in coming weeks.
QB Chad Henne, MIA
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Henne took over for Chad Pennington early in the third quarter and struggled against the Chargers' pass defense. He locked onto his primary receiver, too often throwing into coverage. However, he gets the upgrade since he will become the Dolphins' starter if Pennington does miss the remainder of the season (as is currently being reported). We will finally get to see what Henne can do with a full week of practice with the first unit.
QB Josh Johnson, TB
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- The ineptness and lack of mobility from Byron Leftwich prompted Bucs HC Raheem Morris to make a change at QB in the fourth quarter. Johnson's presence provided a more mobile approach to escape from the pass rush that plagued Leftwich all game. He was able to move the ball down the field and accumulate three first downs in the team's one and only drive into the Red Zone, including a conversion on 4th and 3 where he was blitzed. He got to the five-yard line and then threw four consecutive incompletions. Michael Clayton should've caught the first pass for a TD and the second was thrown a bit too quick and behind Antonio Bryant. The third was deflected, and the fourth pass he and WR Sammie Stroughter weren't on the same page on the pattern. Overall Johnson's performance was pretty good, which might result in him starting next week. He made quick decisions when pressed, had a nice touch on a deep sideline pattern and when needed, he can zip the ball into tight coverage. All of his plays came out of the shotgun with 3 or 4 WR formations. It will be interesting to see how he can orchestrate an offense under center with a backfield behind him. Johnson is exactly what the Bucs need on offense because Leftwich is simply not mobile enough to evade a pass rush from a good defense and make accurate quick decisions. Johnson will start next week at Washington and his mobility to escape a pass rush and make plays with quick, hard passes give the Buccaneers a different look on offense that should increase the ability to sustain drives and get into scoring position. However, last week was the first time Johnson has faced live-fire in a regular season game so predicting whether he can make the adjustment quickly enough to hang onto any opportunity is dicey at best. Still, he's worth a flier if you have the luxury, or extreme need. With Josh Freeman as the No.2 QB it might mean the Buccaneers are working on getting Freeman ready to start in a couple of weeks with Johnson as the stop-gap unless the second-year QB can ignite the offense.
QB Eli Manning, NYG
- Despite only passing for 161 yards, Manning deserves an upgrade. The Giants are playing well on both sides of the ball and it's setting things up nicely for Manning, who is orchestrating a very comfortable offense. He has a good WR corps in Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, plus his OL has been solid. It all equates to consistency, which is vital for any fantasy start, let alone a QB. Manning moved the ball well against a soft Buccaneers defense that gave him plenty of time to throw. The Bucs corners often played several yards off the Giants receivers, which opened the door for plenty of short to mid-ranged passes. The only bad possession or poor mechanics displayed by Manning was a drive that ended prematurely on check-down pass over the middle to Kevin Boss that was thrown just over his head. Manning's TD pass to Sinorice Moss was a result of CB Aqib Talib not turning his head in time to make a play. Talib was there with good coverage, but the pass was perfectly placed. Manning's last snap came with approximately twelve minutes to go in the 4th quarter with the game squarely in hand. David Carr came in to replace him. Manning should have plenty of good games going forward against tougher defenses, especially with a stronger WR corps than most thought, and OL that keeps his decision making a crisp and clean process.
QB Peyton Manning, IND
- If there were any worries that Manning would be less effective with Anthony Gonzalez out of the lineup, Manning put those concerns to rest over the past two weeks. Manning riddled the Arizona defense with touchdown passes to Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, and Pierre Garcon to every quadrant of the field. If Arizona blitzed Manning, he would respond with a hurry-up offense and short throws to open players in the zone. If Arizona played man-to-man, the Colts QB would routinely trick them with the play fake and beat them deep down the sideline with Wayne or Garcon. His only interception was a tipped ball when reserve DT Alan Branch hit Manning's passing arm as the Colts QB released the ball and Antrel Rolle caught the wounded duck that lost its way. Pierre Garcon played well enough on the outside that Manning is still an elite fantasy performer and maybe the most consistently productive of the big three QBs.
QB Donovan McNabb, PHI
- McNabb was inactive for Week 3, resting his broken rib as he awaits the bye week in Week 4. McNabb had to enjoy his offense clicking even without him, knowing that he will get all his weapons back in Week 5 against Tampa Bay in a great matchup. Now would be a great time to trade for McNabb if another fantasy owner has bye week issues at quarterback.
QB Carson Palmer, CIN
- Palmer was more effective than his numbers suggest. Though his completion percentage looks poor on paper, Palmer was comfortable enough in the pocket despite a strong pass rush to throw the ball away rather than force the ball into 50-50 spots in tight coverage or to well-covered timing routes. He looks in sync with Laveranues Coles and shows every indication that he trusts Andre Caldwell out of the slot while Chad Ochocinco continues to play four quarters without mental lapses. He seems primed for a big day against Cleveland next week. Remember that Palmer has played what has turned out to be a tough Broncos defense and an improved Packers attack, so his numbers might not be great but his performances have been better than they look on paper. The Steelers game was the kind of match ups the Bengals usually lose, so expect a more confident unit as the season progresses.
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB
- Despite coming off a huge breakout season and looking unstoppable in the preseason, Rodgers only managed to score 1 TD in each of his first two games. A big part of the problem has been a lack of protection from the offensive line in front of him, but apart from a few breakdowns and a couple sacks by Leonard Little, Rodgers consistently had enough time in the pocket to scan his options and throw downfield. The Rams defense was not very aggressive and often chose to drop extra defenders into coverage rather than blitz Rodgers. The Packers started a little slow and wound up settling for field goals on their first three drives, but they were able to take a big lead into halftime thanks to a couple of 80+ yard TD drives in the second quarter. They struggled again in the third quarter before putting the game away in the fourth. Rodgers only completed 13 passes in the game but they were good for 269 yards thanks to three big plays of 45+ yards each. In addition to his two passing touchdowns in the game, Rodgers was also very active running the ball and added 38 yards on 8 carries with a touchdown. While his fantasy production was good in this game, he'll probably need to do it more consistently and get better pass protection against some better opponents before he is ready to join the top tier of fantasy QBs.
QB Matt Schaub, HOU
- Schaub had another productive day with 300 yards passing on 26 completions in 35 attempts. He added three touchdowns against only one interception and once again connected early and often all over the field. Schaub was labeled in the past as being too focused on Andre Johnson as his main receiving option. Against the Jaguars, Schaub targeted Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels more then Johnson regardless of down and distance. Schaub appears to be completely at ease with the offense and isn't afraid to throw the ball to any receiver, regardless of down and distance. All three touchdown tosses came in the Red Zone with two (Daniels and Walter) coming inside the 10-yard line. As many folks expected in the offseason, if Schaub can stay healthy then his fantasy production should be well above average. Schaub added one rush for 5 yards against the Jaguars.
QB Matthew Stafford, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Stafford looked the most polished that he has all season. While he still has a lot to learn, he played a relatively mistake-free game. His biggest problem is he uses his arm strength too much. He does not throw very many touch passes and a few of the drops were because he threw the ball too hard. However, he managed the game well, and took what the defensives gave him. In the first half, he marched the Lions on three long drives from inside the 10 that lead to a 13-point lead a halftime. On his only TD pass, Stafford laid it up and Bryant Johnson went up to catch the ball. It was a good play by both QB and WR. In the second half, the Lions were flat as a team, but Stafford didn't panic like he did last week. He powered through the weak points, checked down to Smith, Pettigrew and Morris when he had to and kept the clock rolling whenever possible. Stafford looked good when rolling out to buy time, and did not force the ball into coverage like he did last week. Despite several key drops in the first half, he kept going back to Bryant Johnson, keeping him in the game. Stafford overthrew both Calvin and Bryant Johnson down the stretch but played a solid game to give the Lions their first win in 20 games.
QB Seneca Wallace, SEA
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Seneca Wallace stepped in for Matt Hasselbeck in Week 3, getting his number called to start against the Chicago Bears. He played adequately, but was not throwing deep and struggled to put the ball into the end zone despite 44 tries. He gets a slight uptick in value to appear on the Top 250 this week if he gets the start again in Week 4, but a game against a suddenly strong Indianapolis Colts pass defense next on the schedule may not help him improve his stats.
QB Tom Brady, NE
- Brady would have had a better game if not for his inaccurate deep ball and the evident drop-off with Joey Galloway and Julian Edelman attempting to replace Wes Welker. Brady overthrew Joey Galloway down the middle, and missed Randy Moss twice on post routes in the end zone. However, Galloway and Julian Edelman victimized their own team with untimely drops. Even Moss had an uncharacteristic drop on a deep corner route in the fourth quarter. Brady did a good job of buying time in the pocket, including a 36-yard scoring pass to Chris Baker in the fourth quarter to put the game away after shaking free from DE John Abraham's grasp. Although Brady didn't make any major mistakes, this should have been an easier win. They won't be so fortunate with Baltimore next week. However, Denver and Tennessee should present good match ups in October.
QB Drew Brees, NO
- The Bills came into the game with a banged up secondary, but they did a masterful job of slowing down the league's top passing attack. Brees drove the Saints down the field to score a rushing touchdown on their first drive, but they didn't reach the end zone again until the fourth quarter. After giving up five passing TDs and over 650 yards in the first two games, the Bills held Brees to just 172 yards and zero touchdowns. The offensive line struggled against the Bills front four, particularly at left tackle without Jammal Brown in the lineup, and that kept Brees off balance. He was sacked twice in the game and lost a fumble after being stripped by Aaron Schobel. He is still clearly one of the elite fantasy QBs in the league, but the return of a healthy Pierre Thomas might wind up shifting the offensive focus a bit more towards the running game.
QB Marc Bulger, STL
- Bulger had a decent start to the game, but it didn't last very long. In the first quarter, Aaron Kampman hit him while attempting a pass, fumbling the ball away, and sustaining an injury to his throwing shoulder. He reportedly has rotator cuff injury and he is expected to undergo an MRI. The Rams were already playing without their starting RT Jason Smith before they lost their starting WR Laurent Robinson in this game. Bulger's replacement, Kyle Boller was effective, although nothing spectacular. Bulger's injury history is probably an effective argument for NFL GMs as to why they value QBs with more prototypical size, or at least better mobility in the pocket if they lack it. Bulger has neither and injury has diminished his once-promising career.
QB Matt Cassel, KC
- Matt Cassel could do nothing yet again in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles, as his offensive line bought him zero time and his receivers were less than mediocre. With no Dwayne Bowe in the lineup, Cassel was at a distinct disadvantage and will continue to struggle unless he gets better targets and more time in the pocket. The schedule does not get any better the next two weeks with games at home against the Giants and the Cowboys the next two weeks.
QB Jake Delhomme, CAR
- Jake Delhomme threw two INTs against Dallas, including a costly one that was returned for a TD, but both picks weren't necessarily his fault. He threw his first INT into double coverage on a deep pass to Muhsin Muhammad. It can be argued that Muhammad didn't do enough to defend the interception. The play came right after a long run by DeAngelo Williams to convert a third and long that ended what little rhythm the Panthers had on drives. On the one scoring drive, before the half Delhomme hit Dante Rosario on two big plays in a row, including a 25-yard TD pass. Both catches by Rosario were great, but the throws were even better. Delhomme was 6 of 7 for 87 yards on the scoring drive to score the game's first points, but the second half was a completely different story. Delhomme has periods of brilliance, but he just can't consistently stay brilliant for an entire game. He consistently has trouble converting third downs and he has a knack for making mistakes. It's not something you want from your team's QB. As of right now, Delhomme is not considered a good backup fantasy QB.
QB Trent Edwards, BUF
- Edwards came into the game as one of the more productive fantasy QBs in the league during the first two weeks of the season. However, he was held in check all game and finished with just 104 passing yards and zero TDs, taking very few chances downfield due to an offensive line that struggled all game to give him good pass protection. As a result, he took very few chances downfield and failed to get his playmakers involved. Terrell Owens finished with zero catches, and Lee Evans had just 31 yards on four receptions. On the one play when he did throw downfield, Edwards badly overthrew a wide-open Owens. When he tried forcing the ball to Owens on a quick slant, the pass was deflected and picked off. The right side of the offensive line was really a weakness with an inexperienced Jonathan Scott taking over for Brad Butler. This was not a good performance for Edwards or the offense in general. The only points scored came after a fake field goal play at the beginning of the second quarter. When your punter finishes with more TD passes than your starting QB, that's not a good sign. However, the return of Marshawn Lynch may help loosen things up for the outside receivers if the Bills can manage to pair him effectively with the productive Fred Jackson.
QB Josh Freeman, TB
- The Bucs decision to go with Josh Johnson over Freeman when replacing Byron Leftwich suggests that Freeman is not quite ready for game action. Johnson brings a bit more experience to the game, which is something they need from their signal caller right now. Not all rookies can be like Mark Sanchez. Expect Freeman to eventually get some playing time this season, but right now he's still waiting in the wings. Since he was elevated to the No. 2 spot and starer Byron Leftwich was demoted to the No. 3, it's possible Tampa is using Josh Johnson as the stop-gap option until Freeman can get up to speed with more reps in practice. He's a slight downgrade, because he didn't appear ready in the preseason and probably won't be very effective if thrust into the line up. The depth chart movement is a reflection of this thinking.
QB Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
- Hasselbeck was inactive due to a cracked rib and it remains to be seen when he will return to the lineup. With Seneca Wallace holding down the fort with decent numbers (but not much of a deep threat) Hasselbeck may be sidelined again in Week 4. Hasselbeck would be a very iffy fantasy QB2 even if he were 100% against a suddenly strong Indianapolis Colts pass defense next on the schedule.
QB Byron Leftwich, TB
- After two games of being able to move the ball through the air fairly well, Byron Leftwich hit a major roadblock against the Giants. It's difficult to be productive when you have five three-and-outs, a turnover, and a kneel-down in the first seven possessions. He threw a bad interception in the first quarter after being hurried that should've been a sack. He threw screen passes that gained negative yards. He mistimed his throws because he couldn't stay in the pocket long enough due to defensive pressure. Leftwich thrives when he can plant his back foot, cock his arm and make an accurate throw. He was not able to do that much at all against the Giants and his throws were lousy as a result. The Bucs got their first, first down with five minutes to go in third quarter, due to his ineffectiveness. Josh Johnson came into the game in the fourth quarter to replace him and he may wind up starting next week at WAS. It has been announced that Johnson will start next week at Washington. His mobility to escape a pass rush and make plays with quick, hard passes will give the Buccaneers a different look on offense that should increase the ability to sustain drives and get into scoring position. Leftwich is dropped to the third string QB, while rookie Josh Freeman moves up to number two.
QB Chad Pennington, MIA
- Chad Pennington injured his throwing shoulder on Sunday -- the same one he's already had surgery on twice (once in 2004 and once in 2005). The glimmer of hope for Pennington is that he reported no pain after the game. However, the early reports are that he is out for the remainder of the season.
QB Brady Quinn, CLE
- After again failing to generate any offense behind a suspect offensive line, poor running game and struggling group of wide receivers, Brady Quinn was benched for Derek Anderson at the start of the second half against the Ravens. Quinn was accurate, executing what looked to be a game plan that included mostly short drops and hot reads. However it wasn't enough, and Quinn didn't see the field again in the second half despite Anderson's three interceptions as the game got out of hand. Eric Mangini wouldn't commit to a starter for next week's game, but Quinn will be looking over his shoulder if he's given the job again.
QB Kerry Collins, TEN
- Collins had a poor outing on Sunday, going 15 of 37 for just 170 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. With the game on the line, he was 0 for his last 13 pass attempts. Collins had an especially difficult time against the blitz. While he was sacked only twice, he was inaccurate under the constant pressure he faced, too often locking onto his primary target while failing to find his hot receivers on quick underneath routes and several drops from his WRs also hurt his production. However, Collins' struggles came against a Jets defense that is establishing itself as among the toughest in the league. Collins will bounce back against weaker pass defenses -- and while he is by no means a fantasy starter or even a decent fantasy QB2, he is still a solidly better fantasy prospect than the Jamarcus Russells of the world.
QB David Garrard, JAX
- David Garrard had yet another mediocre passing day, but once again his legs made him an appealing fantasy option. Garrard finished the day with 214 yards on 18/30 passing. He had no touchdowns or interceptions, but did add 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Until Garrard gets some help in the passing game from his receivers, his passing numbers aren't likely to impress. However, his scrambling skews his value upward. While Garrard isn't likely to impress many fantasy owners, he should once again finish in the top-15 of quarterbacks as long as he stays healthy.
QB Shaun Hill, SF
- Shaun Hill had a mixed performance this week against the Vikings, but he still nearly pulled off an upset to give the Niners a 3-0 start. He lost his starting RB Frank Gore on the first run of the game, and spent the entire first half playing from behind. At times, Hill looked very accurate, finding his tight end Vernon Davis for long gains and two scores. However, he was frustrated by the excellent Viking coverage, and struggled to help his team move the ball. His interception was a badly thrown ball where the receiver fell down, and the Vikings were able to make the play while falling out of bounds. The most telling sign of Hill's play was the fact that the 49ers were 0-11 on third down conversions for the game, and went "three-and-out" seven different times. Despite calling Isaac Bruce his 'go-to' guy before the game, Hill's favorite target was Davis. He found the athletic TE down the middle of the field on several occasions where Davis' speed created miss-matches with the Viking LBS, burning them for long gains. Hill did hit Josh Morgan on a couple quick slants and short passes, and found Bruce on a couple longer sideline routes, but he had trouble finding a rhythm for most of the game. His stats are a bit deceptive since it never felt like San Francisco had a good drive on offense, yet Hill moved the team a couple times and put them in a position to win it late in the 4th quarter. This was a confidence-inspiring game in that sense and with St. Louis and Atlanta next on the schedule he could be poised for an upgrade, especially with Gore's ankle issue and signs of Vernon Davis emerging.
QB Kevin Kolb, PHI
- Kevin Kolb became the first NFL quarterback ever to top 300 yards passing in his first two NFL starts. Kolb looked poised in the pocket, unaffected by the absence of both Kevin Curtis and Brian Westbrook in the backfield. Kolb heads back to the sideline at this point with McNabb expected back after the Week 4 bye. However, if McNabb gets injured again then Kolb has shown that he can lead this team and produce, so stashing him on deep fantasy rosters is not a bad idea.
QB Kyle Orton, DEN
- Orton had a small day in Week 3 versus the Raiders, but he only dropped back to throw 23 times against a tough passing defense. The Broncos clearly game-planned to stay away from the Raiders corners, so Orton took a backseat to the running game this week and was content to give the ball to his two backs who were crushing the ball up the middle against Oakland. This proved to be more than enough to get the job done for the win. Orton may be on the hook to throw more next week against Dallas, a team that gave up big yardage against the Giants in Week 2, and with evidence of some gained rapport with Brandon Marshall this week, he will likely need to throw more in Week 4.
QB Philip Rivers, SD
- A couple of years ago, Rivers' accuracy on his deep ball was considered a weakness, but now it may be his greatest strength. He hit Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson right on the money on his longest throws against the Dolphins, and the Chargers have continued their transition from a running offense to a passing offense. The Chargers have begun to use the shotgun more often recently, essentially giving up on the run on second and eight or nine. The chargers' struggles inside the red zone have limited Rivers' fantasy stats, however, as touchdowns have been difficult to come by. Rivers did run the ball in from five yards out against the Dolphins, but don't expect that to happen again. Rivers is an every-week fantasy starter, but he won't break into the top-three displacing Brees, Brady, or Manning until the Chargers figure out how to score in the red zone more consistently.
QB Tony Romo, DAL
- The Panthers didn't have a consistent pressure on Romo, especially in the second half where most of Dallas' points were scored. This enabled him to make accurate throws which moved the chains. The strong running game (200+ yards) kept Carolina guessing, which ultimately led to Dallas securing the victory, despite several questionable play calls inside the five yard line. Romo did struggle at times when Carolina was able to put pressure on him, just like the Giants did the week prior. The pressure led to inaccurate or hurried passes that fell incomplete and it usually stalled drives. He wasn't completely stopped though. At times, when the pressure came, he was able to use his hot reads (mostly Jason Witten) for short gains. He showed good poise on their first scoring drive in the third quarter and it continued from there. He did not throw a TD, but he had several chances. As long as the offense can move down the field, Romo should be able to accumulate yards, but don't expect more than 25 TD passes this year.
QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ
- The Jets rookie threw two touchdown passes and ran for another and he became the first NFL quarterback to start the first three games of his rookie season and win each one. Sanchez finished 17 of 30 for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He wasted no time putting points on the board -- for the Jets and for his fantasy owners. On the game's opening drive, Sanchez faced a third-and-10 from the Titans' 14-yard line, and made a gutsy run, plowing through safety Michael Griffin at the goal line for the touchdown (The ball came out, but after it had crossed the goal line.). After the Jets recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Sanchez sold a play-action fake to Thomas Jones and found his tight end wide open in the end zone. Sanchez' performance was uneven, including one interception and two fumbles, but while he looked like a rookie at times, he also showed poise with the game on the line. The game-winning touchdown pass, a quick slant to Jerricho Cotchery, came when Sanchez noticed a weakside safety blitz and timely hit his hot receiver. As quickly as Sanchez is developing into a solid NFL quarterback, however, he is still no better than a mediocre fantasy backup since the Jets will continue to emphasize defense and ball control.
RB Cedric Benson, CIN
- Benson struggled early, but then found running room in the second half. He continues to run hard and break tackles, and showed an impressive burst of speed to gain the corner on a long touchdown run. Bernard Scott is no threat and the offensive line should improve as they continue to gel, further strengthening Benson's case as a top RB2 and burgeoning RB1. It's even more impressive he continued to play hard and improve against a Steelers defense that remains hard-hitting and aggressive without Troy Polamalu. Benson is proving why he was considered on-par with Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams in the 2005 NFL Draft Class.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
- The combination of Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw is one of the better one-two punches in the league. Bradshaw looked great running with power, purpose and passion. His 38-yard run in the first quarter was on 3rd and 1 with Jacobs on the sidelines. Unlike Jacobs, Bradshaw runs lower, often below pad level, which makes him less injury prone. If he continues to play well, he could very easily squeeze Brandon Jacobs for the majority of carries in the Giants backfield.
RB Donald Brown, IND
- Brown didn't make an appearance in this game until the middle of the second quarter with a two-yard gain up the middle. However, it didn't take long for him to make his presence felt as a big-play threat. In the third quarter he gained 26 yards on well-blocked play to the outside, using his burst and vision to get to the sideline. He nearly scored on the play, but his foot hit the boundary trying to squeeze past his receiver's block. Brown almost scored again on a 72-yard reception off a flat route where Adrian Wilson blew the coverage. Brown raced past most of the defense down the right flat until Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie caught him from across the field and brought the rookie down by the facemask, drawing a penalty. Brown ended the game with nearly an equal share of the carries as Joseph Addai. Although he has clearly demonstrated that he is a more consistent big-play threat, Addai had a better per carry average and Peyton Manning still trusts the veteran more as a pass blocker and receiver. Expect Brown to continue seeing at least 40 percent of the carries, but he it's not likely he'll take Addai's this season without an injury.
RB Correll Buckhalter, DEN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Buckhalter is still considered the starting tailback for the Broncos, and he racked up over 100 yards on just 14 carries against a soft Oakland run defense in Week 3. Buckhalter ran very hard and pounded the rock inside, picking up several yards after first contact. The veteran's hole-busting style is a nice complement to Knowshon Moreno's workhorse effort and the Broncos racked up over 200 rushing yards on the Raiders with a 44/23 run/pass ratio. Buckhalter is averaging 7.4 yards per carry on the season and should continue to see 10-12 carries weekly. Dallas is the next team on the schedule, which may present a bigger challenge but Buckhalter's numbers cannot be ignored.
RB Michael Bush, OAK
- Michael Bush boosted his PPR production with three "cheap" catches just before halftime in Week 3 against Denver, but his bigger upside is that Darren McFadden cannot seem to hold on to the ball. Bush could easily see a heavy workload next week as the Raiders host Houston, a team that has yielded big fantasy game to running backs this season. Look for Bush to get 10+ touches and work near the goal line next week.
RB Jamaal Charles, KC
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Jamaal Charles looked faster and quicker than Larry Johnson, doing more with fewer touches and gaining yardage as both a runner and a receiver. The Chiefs are not very good on offense and they could use a younger player to spark the unit, so the odds certainly favor Charles seeing more touches going forward. The matchups are not good though in the next two weeks (home against the Giants and the Cowboys) but in PPR leagues Charles has immediate value as a flex player.
RB Tashard Choice, DAL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- With Marion Barber out with a sore quad, Tashard Choice's role increased. But his time really came when Felix Jones got hurt in the second half. The first half Choice saw limited action as Felix Jones looked dominant at times. However, Choice was the man inside the ten-yard line. He wasn't too effective running the ball in the Red Zone in the first half, but he nearly scored on a screen pass, except his knee hit the ground before he could extend the ball over the goal line and he was called down at the one. He was stuffed on the next play and then a false start forced Dallas to kick a FG. The second half was a different story. When Felix Jones left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury, Choice was the only healthy back available and 19 of his 25 touches came in the second half. He scored a TD on a delayed draw inside the ten yard line and also ran in a two point conversion. The Cowboys have one of the better running games in the league and Choice can easily get the job done if called upon. If Felix Jones misses time with a left knee strain or if Marion Barber misses another game due to his sore quad, expect more big things from Choice. If Barber plays though, he (Barber) will likely keep his position as the main red zone RB. The game against Carolina may be Choice's biggest game of the year but if needed, he could match or exceed those numbers.
RB Glen Coffee, SF
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Coffee stepped in for when Gore went down after his first carry and will be the feature back for San Francisco if Gore is out over the next two weeks. However, this week's performance should only give fantasy owners minimal excitement, as Coffee was ineffective for the entire game. He had two nice runs off tackle for 12 and 13 yards in the third quarter, but was frequently tackled in the backfield or for minimal gains. He was not used much in the passing game as the Niners looked to Vernon Davis or Isaac Bruce to move the offense through the air. If he's available in your league, he's worth grabbing this week since he will be getting 20-25 touches a game as the starter. The Niners play St. Louis and Atlanta over the next two weeks, and Coffee should be able to generate better fantasy numbers against them.
RB Jerome Harrison, CLE
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Harrison outplayed James Davis against the Ravens and may have regained the RB2 duties in Cleveland with his efforts. Although he was contained on most of his carries and didn't show much power between the tackles, he was good in space and as a receiver out of the backfield. If Jamal Lewis remains out next week, expect Harrison to again get the bulk of the work.
RB Julius Jones, SEA
- Julius Jones ran hard and escaped would-be Chicago tacklers on several occasions, including a 39-yard catch and run down the sideline for a touchdown early in the game. As long as Jones runs with this new commitment to using his strengths he should prove to be an effective runner and solid flex play or spot starter for fantasy team backfields. Jones might be available in your league if a fantasy owner panicked or bought into the Justin Forsett hype a little prematurely.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
- Maurice Jones-Drew finally had a breakout game against the Texans defense. Just like the Jets and Titans, the Jaguars ran wild on the Houston rush defense. Jones had 119 yards on 23 carries (long of 61) and three touchdowns. Jones-Drew scored once from the 8-yard line and once from the one, which should give owners confidence going forward that he will continue to be used heavily near the goalline. Jones-Drew ran well between the tackles as the Jaguars front-five controlled the line of scrimmage. He also caught four passes for 28 yards on 7 targets. Jones-Drew now has 22 targets on the season and is a must start in all formats.
RB Marshawn Lynch, BUF
- The three-game suspension is over, so expect Lynch to return to action. How he'll split touches with Fred Jackson is unclear, but Lynch merits the obvious upgrade since he'll actually be eligible.
RB LeSean McCoy, PHI
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- McCoy got his first ever NFL start and looked very quick out of the backfield, showing cuts between the tackles and exploding to the corner when he got his touches. He also was playing "Wildcat QB" on occasion, getting the direct snap and reading the blocking before rushing the ball. McCoy scored his first NFL touchdown and looked like a virtual drop-in replacement for Westbrook should he not be able to go at another point after the Week 4 bye. All Westbrook owners should try and get McCoy as an insurance policy. The Eagles could also use McCoy against weaker opposition, starting in Week 5 against Tampa Bay.
RB Willis McGahee, BAL
- With the Ravens racking up yardage in bunches with a balanced offensive attack McGahee continues to get plenty of chances inside the twenty. He continues to look quick and powerful and a priority Red Zone option for the Baltimore offense. If he stays healthy, he should continue to be a strong option, even in non-PPR leagues.
RB Knowshon Moreno, DEN
- Rookie Knowshon Moreno displayed some of the quickness, power and speed that made him a first-round draft pick for Denver back in April. He scored his first career NFL touchdown against the Raiders in Week 3 before losing time to a tweaked groin in the second half. Assuming Moreno is at full strength he is likely to see a heavy workload next week against the Cowboys.
RB Maurice Morris, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Morris stepped in as the primary ball carrier when Smith left the game and he was not nearly as effective as Smith was, stuffed frequently for little or no gain. The TD run was on a short flip after he was stopped in the backfield the play before. He caught one nice dump-off for 12 yards, but was not able to move the ball as well as Smith did in the first half. If Smith can't go next week, Morris would be the primary beneficiary. Just don't get too excited about his prospects, although he has good vision and balance, he lacks Smith's quickness.
RB Willie Parker, PIT
- Parker had a strong first half, looking quick to the hole and powerful breaking tackles before struggling to find as much space in the second half. More importantly, Parker was impressive enough to convince head coach Mike Tomlin that he deserved nearly every rushing attempt. He had 25 carries to Mewelde Moore's single carry, and Rashard Mendenhall's zero. That kind of disparity in a critical early season divisional game when Parker's production fell off sharply in the second half is a strong indication of the current pecking order among the Steeler backs.
RB Chester Taylor, MIN
- With Adrian Peterson unable to get anything going on offense, the Vikings frequently found themselves in second and long and third and long situations. In those cases, Chester Taylor was in the game, catching passes out of the backfield, and helping Favre burn the Niners when they blitzed. There were several occasions when Taylor and Peterson were both on the field, and Peterson would split wide as a receiver, leaving Taylor to act as the lone back. Taylor worked the middle of the field on passing downs and there were many times in the second half when the Vikings send him out of the backfield on passing downs. Late in the second quarter, Taylor took a short dump-off on 3rd and 9 for 30 yards. This play set up the FG that was eventually blocked, but Taylor did his part to keep the offense moving. He led the Vikings in receiving yards and receptions, and kept the Vikings moving when the offense struggled on first and second downs. Based on the past three games, it appears Taylor was simply not needed as much against the Lions and Browns. However, Taylor was used more frequently against better opposition. Expect Taylor to remain more involved against the Packers and be the cleanup back if there's a blowout in St. Louis the week after.
RB Fred Taylor, NE
- Maybe Bill Belicheck read last week's downgrade of Taylor because this week the Patriots used Taylor in more run-oriented formations and the RB didn't disappoint, running hard, and consistently gaining yardage after contact. The Patriots began the game with Laurence Maroney who got dinged before he had a chance to establish more than a glimmer or promise, but once New England switched to Taylor, they didn't look back. The Pats only rotated Taylor with Kevin Faulk and a very small dose of Sammy Morrise once the former Jaguar began picking up yardage in chunks. On one first quarter drive he gained 32 yards on three consecutive attempts yielding 8, 17, and 7 yards up the middle with the last gainer going for a touchdown. The Falcons clearly missed rookie DT Peria Jerry because the Patriots line was able to double-team Atlanta's DE's and then get into the second level on several runs in this game. When the Falcons linebackers got into the backfield, they didn't have the support of the DTs to clean up the plays, which helped Taylor gain positive yardage after breaking tackles. Taylor runs with more patience and power than the rest of the RB depth chart, and this makes him a player to have on your roster, but based on the unpredictability of the New England rotation, he's not as great an upgrade as his production indicates. He's a boom-bust proposition right now, because the Patriots would likely benefit from using him more like they used Corey Dillon and running a more balanced attack. However, if Wes Welker returns to the lineup soon, New England may not find it necessary.
RB Pierre Thomas, NO
- Thomas did not start the game, but he sure did finish it. Despite no touches in the first hafl, Thomas turn a close game into a blowout with 14 carries for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Saints passing attack struggled to find their rhythm for much of the game thanks to a strong effort from the Bills defense, but Thomas started the second half strong, ripping off gains of 19 and 13 yards on his second and third carries. The Bills kept him in check for a little while, but he eventually broke free for an impressive run down the left sideline for a 34-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. He continued to run hard down the stretch and was rewarded with a 19-yard TD run off right end. Thomas appears to be healthy and ready to take back his role as the primary runner in the Saints offensive attack. A healthy Mike Bell might steal some carries and touchdowns once he returns, but Thomas figures to be a key part of the offense going forward and a decent No. 2 RB.
RB Chris Brown, HOU
- Chris Brown once again received a fair number of carries (8 for 19 yards) but had a costly fumble in the end zone that may have been the difference in the game's outcome. Brown is being used in short yardage situations, but it remains to be seen if the fumble combined with Slaton's performance will reduce his carries. Brown was not a factor in the passing game.
RB James Davis, CLE
- Davis didn't get his first carry until the second half and again looked little like the explosive, shifty talent he was during the preseason. It's possible that his inexperience with blitz pickups kept him on the sideline while Jerome Harrison took the majority of snaps against the aggressive Baltimore defense, but his inability to generate any excitement on his runs makes it unlikely that he'll displace Harrison if Lewis remains out next week.
RB Justin Forsett, SEA
- So much for Forsett being a waiver wire darling and year-two sleeper. Forsett barely saw the field on offense, getting just two carries as a tailback as he was used more as a kick returner. With Julius Jones discovering his personal Fountain of Youth, Forsett's value plummets, as he will rarely see any touches aside from a few third down catches.
RB Frank Gore, SF
- Gore took the first carry from scrimmage for the 49ers up the middle for four yards and came up limping. He made if off the field under his own power, but was in considerable pain on the sidelines. They eventually carted him back to the locker room and he never returned. Although x-rays on his ankle were negative, he could miss the next two weeks.
RB Fred Jackson, BUF
- Jackson had another strong performance this week, finishing with nearly 100 combined yards from scrimmage on 18 carries and 4 receptions. However, with Marshawn Lynch returning from suspension in week four the days of Jackson getting 20+ touches are likely over. It's not clear how the Bills plan to use them both, but chances are they will split carries with Lynch getting more of the work on early downs and Jackson getting more work in passing situations. Jackson may continue to be a productive fantasy RB, particularly in PPR leagues, but his value will certainly take a hit.
RB Brandon Jacobs, NYG
- Jacobs started off fairly strong with three consecutive carries to begin the game, but as the game wore on he looked sluggish and lacked decisiveness. Jacobs is still very much a load but the quicker and surprisingly more effective yards after contact runner was Ahmad Bradshaw, who once again looked like the better RB. Don't be surprised to see Bradshaw get more and more carries as the season goes on. Jacobs may best be utilized as a situational RB in short yardage or goal line situations, especially if his productivity continues to decrease as the game goes on.
RB Larry Johnson, KC
- Larry Johnson has lost at least one step, possibly more. He struggled to get positive yardage, and his offensive line is doing him no favors with poor blocking. Johnson lacked explosion or quickness on the rare occasion that he did gain positive yards and he lost several touches to Jamaal Charles who looked much quicker and faster. With bad matchups looming in the next two weeks (home vs. the Giants and the Cowboys), Johnson is not a good starting option even as a flex RB.
RB Thomas Jones, NYJ
- For the third week in a row, Thomas Jones and Leon Washington have gotten roughly equal touches. (Jones now has 50 on the year to Washington's 48.) This is a full-fledged RBBC, and Washington has frankly looked better. Jones has yet to get more than 20 touches in a game this season, and appears to be more of a flex player than a fantasy starter. While it appears that the Jets will keep rookie Shonn Greene on the shelf for a while, he could become a factor late in the season, further detracting from Jones' value during the fantasy playoffs. That said, Jones will fare better in future matchups than he did against the tough Titans' run defense on Sunday.
RB Darren McFadden, OAK
- Darren McFadden was held under 50 total yards despite 14 touches against Denver, but that was the least of his issues. The number-one concern has to be McFadden's ball security. He put the ball on the ground three times, including once inside the Denver five-yard line. Oakland does get the benefit of facing a terrible run defense next week (Houston) but that may give McFadden owners the opportunity to use him in Week 4 and hopefully sell high before Week 5. McFadden continues to display the same glaring negatives he did as a college prospect: a propensity to fumble the ball, inconsistent hands on easier catches, and a lack of power against first and second level defenders. He's a boom-bust play every week, only with slightly higher numbers than one may typically see from a bust.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
- Mendenhall had no carries and no pass targets this week, while Willie Parker got 25 carries and 27 total touches. Despite Willie Parker's effectiveness falling off significantly in the second half, Mendenhall was nowhere to be found. Without any known injury, that speaks volumes about the trust Mike Tomlin may have in him. Unless Parker gets hurt, he'll need to see Mendenhall build on his production in consecutive weeks before recommending him again.
RB Kevin Smith, DET
- Smith left the game early in the second half after gaining over 100 yards rushing. He ran well, with most of his gains coming up the middle and off tackle. The Lions ran several fake reverses to Calvin Johnson where they hand the ball to Smith up the gut, and he took these for 5-8 yards every time and gave the feeling that he could do it any time he wanted. Early in the second quarter, he took one of these fake reverses for 19 yards and took an outside flip for 16 more two plays later. The injury is a bit of a concern as it's his shoulder. He should be watched this week to see what the prognosis is because if he missed the opportunity to close out Detroit's first win in 19 games the shoulder issue might cost him a game or two.
RB Darren Sproles, SD
- With LaDainian Tomlinson sidelined with a high ankle sprain, Darren Sproles has gotten most of the work at tailback, but the running game has stalled. Sproles has averaged just 2.6 yards per carry this season, and the team has been miserable in the red zone. When asked about the Chargers' red zone woes in his post-game press conference, the first thing Norv Turner said was that it will be nice to get Tomlinson back. Tomlinson is expected to return either this week against the Steelers or in the following game after the bye. When he does return, Sproles will continue to have a role in the passing game, but his number of carries will decrease sharply.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR
- Not only are the Panthers struggling in the running game, they are struggling to score points. Stewart is a good complimentary RB to DeAngelo Williams, but if the team can't be consistent on offense, both RBs will see a drop in production. Stewart has not produced enough to warrant a fantasy start at this time. The team may turn it around, but until then, reserve Stewart on your bench.
RB Michael Turner, ATL
- The Patriots defense limited Turner to less than four yards per carry and his longest gain was a seven-yard run in the first quarter. Turner demonstrated good power to bull his way for extra yardage after contact, but he could not reach the cut back lanes in this game and his offensive line allowed the Partriots front to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Turner did score a touchdown, but he also fumbled the ball late in the first half. The Falcons just don't look as committed to run the football this year and the line isn't giving Turner gaping holes for him to terrorize the opposing defense's secondary at this point in the season. With Chicago and San Francisco on the schedule after the bye week, Turner may have similar games against defenses that have performed much better than the Patriots.
RB Derrick Ward, TB
- Not only is Derrick Ward competing with Cadillac Williams for playing time, but also the team rushes only ten times all game and its difficult for any back to produce with a split of carries from that tiny sum. Tampa Bay is spending a lot of time playing from behind, which doesn't bode will for their RBs. Ward will have better games and he could wind up being the team's primary rusher, but until the offense irons out their wrinkles at QB, Ward is a risky flex-option start and gets another downgrade this week.
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR
- The Panthers running game hinges on their execution on offense. Right now their offense is not in sync and the running game is faltering, as a result. Williams is a very good RB, so he will get his yards and make plays but as of now, it's difficult to assume he'll be a Top five RB like he was last year with the way the offense is struggling. Carolina has a bye next week and then three winnable games against WAS, @TB and then BUF. If things don't turn around in those games, it could be a long year for Carolina and Williams' numbers will suffer as a result.
RB Ronnie Brown, MIA
- Brown started off strong for the Dolphins, looking unstoppable on their first drive before muffing the QB-RB exchange near the goal line (resulting in a touchback as the ball rolled out of the end zone). After that, the Dolphins inexplicably went away from the run for the most part, even though both Brown and Ricky Williams were generally having success when their numbers were called. Brown ran hard against the Chargers, often dragging tacklers with him for several yards before going down. With Pennington possibly sidelined for a while with a shoulder injury, the Dolphins should rely more heavily on Brown and the running game -- although without the threat of a passing attack running lanes may be more difficult to find.
RB Tim Hightower, ARI
- Hightower made two mistakes in this game that hurt or ended drives. The first was a poor lateral to Anquan Boldin on an attempted reverse in the first half that Boldin had to fall on. The second was a fumble inside the Colts' ten that ended the drive and resulted in a Colts touchdown. Despite these two errors, the Cardinals did not opt for Chris Wells, who received a total of two carries for --2 yards. Hightower ran hard and demonstrated good skills as a receiver, getting open for Kurt Warner against both zone and man-to-man coverage. He had a 23-yard gain up the sideline after catching a short out route, demonstrating a decisive burst and ending the run with some power. However, he did get stuffed on some key third down plays, but the play calls were slow-developing blocking schemes that were poor matches for the down and distance, and the Colts were able to get great penetration on these runs that forced Hightower to start east-west in the first place. Hightower remains a decent flex option as long as the Cardinals don't trust Wells.
RB Steven Jackson, STL
- After two disappointing weeks, Jackson showed what he is capable of in week three as the Rams workhorse from start to finish with 27 carries for 117 yards and leading his team in receiving with five catches for 46 yards. Although the Rams lost their starting QB and primary receiver, Jackson just kept grinding out yards and making plays. He's going to face plenty of eight-man fronts this year considering how weak the Rams passing attack has looked, but St. Louis is committed to running the ball. He should get plenty of touches and these opportunities should keep him among the top-12 fantasy backs at the end of the season. However he lacks the upside of other feature backs because of his lack of opportunities in the Red Zone with zero TDs through three games.
RB Chris Johnson, TEN
- A week after he set a career high with 197 rushing yards, Johnson came back to earth with 97 yards on 22 carries against a stout Jets defense. After giving Johnson a huge upgrade after last week's game, we're holding Johnson steady after his comparatively tame performance against the Titans. Johnson ran well on Sunday, but did not get the ball in space as much as the Titans would have liked. He took mostly standard hand-offs (rather than screens or pitches designed to get him the ball in the open field), and came close to breaking a few long runs when he was tripped up just before hitting daylight. Against weaker defenses, Johnson will make more big plays. We continue to consider him a legitimate fantasy stud.
RB Felix Jones, DAL
- Jones got off to a hot start with Marion Barber nursing a quad injury. He began the game with 66 total yards in the first two possessions, but the Cowboys didn't score any points. He was effective up the middle and fantastic on sweeps and draw plays, and his speed definitely plays a role in how he gets his yards. The night ended for Jones in the third quarter after he ran 40 yards and was tackled hard inside the ten-yard line. He came up limping with a knee injury and only returned as a decoy on a Wildcat play. The rest of the time he rode a stationary bike on the sideline. Jones has a left knee strain and will be further evaluated in the coming days. It is unclear if he will miss any games at this time. Jones continued to maintain a high YPC average, which can only mean an increased role as the season goes on. One point to mention, it is coming clear that Jones is a great talent on the field that can really help the Cowboys running game, however he has been fairly injury prone in his short career, which is bad news for any fantasy owner who has him on their roster.
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
- For most of the game, Adrian Peterson was held in check by a tough San Francisco defense and Chester Taylor came in on second and long, and most of the third down situations in contrast to previous weeks. Peterson bounced outside on his third run and took it for a big gain down the right side of the field. However, for most of the game he was held to short and medium gains. Peterson never reached the end zone, and had no red-zone opportunities because the Minnesota offensive scores came on passes of 30 yards or more. It's not time to panic t and sell Peterson to the highest bidder, but the 49ers have proven that even the best backs in the league can have off days. Still, it was better than that 14-carry, 3-yard performance as a rookie.
RB Ray Rice, BAL
- Rice continues to lose carries to Willis McGahee in the red zone, but the Ravens' offense has been potent enough to continue to give Rice nearly 20 touches a game. Rice was a move away from breaking a couple of long plays last week, and continues to get plenty of work as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The Ravens' backfield remains crowded, but Rice has big upside should anything happen to McGahee.
RB Steve Slaton, HOU
- Steve Slaton had his best game of the season against Jacksonville, but still didn't score a touchdown despite the Texans having the ball inside the 20 on four occasions. Slaton's 76 yards on 12 carries (6.33 ypc) to go with 37 yards on 3 receptions was much more in line with fan and fantasy owner expectations. Slaton showed a speedy burst that had been lacking in the first two games of the season, and he ran well both in traffic and on the edges. It's too early to tell if Slaton will reach the heights of last season: if the Texans run defense continues to be awful, they are likely to be playing from behind (and passing) a lot. However, Slaton's performance Sunday was very encouraging. Give him another week before you upgrade him.
RB Brian Westbrook, PHI
- Brian Westbrook got the week off against the Chiefs to rest up and get ready for the balance of the season. With two weeks to prepare for a great matchup against Tampa Bay, he is a solid option once he returns to full strength in Week 5. LeSean McCoy may take some snaps away from Westbrook, but Westbrook is explosive enough to produce big numbers with 20 or fewer touches so McCoy's involvement on the offense should not be too threatening.
RB LenDale White, TEN
- White didn't play until the second quarter, but he got five straight carries starting from first and ten from the Jets' 14-yard line. White was the Titans' whole red zone offense on that drive, and he ultimately scored a hard-fought touchdown from five yards out. White has yet to get more than eight carries in a game this season, however, and is not used much in the passing game, so he should not be considered a worthwhile fantasy starter or even a decent flex player.
WR Davone Bess, MIA
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- While Greg Camarillo got the start opposite Ted Ginn, Davone Bess led the team with 7 receptions for 54 yards, and appeared to clearly establish himself as the Dolphins' best possession WR -- actually, make that their best WR, period. Bess has reliable hands and runs hard after the catch. He now has 17 receptions this season compared to Camarillo's seven, and looks like a decent fantasy WR3 in PPR leagues.
WR Steve Breaston, ARI
- Breaston was questionable with a knee injury this week, but it didn't appear to be an issue when he took the field Sunday night. Breaston converted more than a few third downs, catching hitches, crossing patterns, and in-cuts in traffic. One conversion was a 25-yard gain on a deep, in-cut where he gained yardage after the catch and he had another called back due to a penalty. He nearly scored late in the first half on a catch between two defenders in the middle of the field, going airborne to grab the ball and taking the hit in the back before trying to extend the ball over the goal line. The broadcasters said that Kurt Warner mentioned that Breaston is very reliable in traffic and since the receiver had yet another nice game, leading all Cardinals receivers in catches and yardage, we should take Warner's word. If an impatient fantasy owner tossed Breaston aside earlier this month, snatch him up because he appears to be a strong flex-play and decent No. 3 fantasy receiver due to a mediocre ground game and opponents trying to limit Fitzgerald's big plays.
WR Nate Burleson, SEA
- Nate Burleson repeatedly got open underneath and over the middle for backup QB Seneca Wallace, slowly but surely ratcheting up his numbers to top 100 yards on nine grabs. Burleson had two catches of 20 yards or more but for the most part stayed on shorter routes for Seattle. He clearly was the top target and most productive receiver in Week 3 and should continue to post solid numbers in a similar role going forward.
WR Keenan Burton, STL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Laurent Robinson had been playing well for the Rams, but he left the game with what looked like a knee or ankle injury when an offensive lineman rolled up his leg. Burton replaced Robinson in the game and finished with 37 yards on 3 receptions. Burton started camp this year as a projected starter, but injuries derailed his chances to provide stiffer competition for Robinson. Hey may get his chance for several weeks with Robinson on crutches after the game and Donnie Avery suffering a rib injury. Burton has good leaping ability, lateral agility, and vision in the open field. However, he has some lapses in concentration as a receiver and route runner despite flashing big-play skills as a rookie. He is worth a flier, but don't expect starter production week-to-week.
WR Andre Caldwell, CIN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Caldwell is firmly entrenched as Carson Palmer's new T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He continues to be effective on a variety of underneath routes and is consistently finding the soft spots in zone coverage. Palmer has shown trust in him on third down and in the red zone, frequently coming to him when feeling pressure. The Red Zone targets make him a viable WR3 moving forward.
WR Laveranues Coles, CIN
- After a forgettable first week, Coles continues to work his way into the offense. Targeted seven times this week and frequently in high leverage third down situations, Coles is earning consideration as a WR3/flex option again.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ
- Cotchery has very clearly established himself as the Jets' top weapon in the passing game, quieting skeptics who doubted his ability to become a bona fide NFL WR1. Against the Titans, he was targeted 13 times and caught 8 balls for 108 yards while no other Jets player had more than 2 catches or 24 receiving yards. Cotchery has had at least 87 yards receiving in every game this season, and not all of his catches have been easy ones. His 46-yard TD reception against the Titans was a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab against the sidelines. Cotchery has become a focal point of the Jets offense and is moving from decent fantasy WR2 into borderline fantasy WR1 territory.
WR Patrick Crayton, DAL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Crayton has been a nice surprise this year. He is doing his part to get open, make catches and be a consistent target for Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense. Crayton made the best of his targets catching four of five thrown his way. Each catch went for a first down, two of which kept drives alive. He also had a 20-yard catch, but it was negated by holding call. Crayton has appeared and disappeared for the Cowboys in previous seasons, but this year he looks like someone who may stay consistently involved. He is stat for stat with the supposed WR1 Roy Williams, and he was probably selected several rounds after him in fantasy drafts. The way the Cowboys offense can score on any given drive makes Crayton an excellent play as a WR3 or flex-option going forward.
WR Donald Driver, GB
- This marks the second game in a row where Driver finished with more targets, more receptions, and more production than Greg Jennings. Driver only caught 4 of the 7 passes that were intended for him, but he was able to convert them into 95 yards and a touchdown while also adding 13 yards on a reverse. Jennings is clearly the best deep threat on this team who is usually good for a big play or two each week, but he also figures to face most of the attention from opposing defenses. Meanwhile, Driver has been having little difficulty getting open against man coverage and Rodgers has had no trouble finding him. He made a Randy Moss-like grab on a deep sideline route with one hand that was worthy of a play of the week nomination in this team. Given the struggles the offensive line, Rodgers does not have as much time to consistently look to Jennings on deep routes, which continues to open things up for Driver and make him the WR to own in this offense.
WR Braylon Edwards, CLE
- Edwards doesn't deserve an upgrade after a forgettable five targets and three catches against Baltimore. But fantasy owners could see his numbers trend upward if Derek Anderson, who's much more likely to force the ball downfield, remains the starter in future weeks.
WR Pierre Garcon, IND
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Although an easy roll of the dice as a waiver wire option after the game-winning reception/run last week in Miami, it was Garcon's only catch of the day. This week Garcon repeatedly victimized the Cardinals secondary. He beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a deep pass down the sideline after the CB was caught looking into the backfield for a 53-yard score, and he demonstrated good power as a runner, knocking over hard-hitting safety Adrian Wilson in the flat on a 17-yard end-around in the first half. Garcon has good speed, power after the catch, and enough consistency to be a quality No. 3 fantasy WR until Anthony Gonzalez is healthy enough to play. If Garcon can continue to gain confidence, he has the athleticism to keep the job for the long haul.
WR Devin Hester, CHI
- Hester is making plays like always, but now he is doing it more as a leading receiver for his team rather than solely on special teams. He made a stunning shoestring catch and grabbed a slant pass over the middle where he beat two defenders and screamed all the way to the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown. Hester is clicking well with QB Jay Cutler, a hookup that should continue next week at home against Detroit.
WR DeSean Jackson, PHI
- DeSean Jackson topped 100 yards again and found the end zone, showing breakaway speed and quickness both over the middle and down the sideline. Jackson is a true WR1 for the Eagles, and is pushing for similar fantasy status with big performances despite not having Donovan McNabb throwing to him in Weeks 2 and 3 and playing with a nagging groin injury that didn't effect him at all during the game. Jackson should produce well against most any matchup starting in Week 5 against Tampa Bay.
WR Vincent Jackson, SD
- The Chargers' offense has changed. For the past several years, it was a ball-control offense featuring LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. Now it is a deep aerial assault that revolves around Vincent Jackson. Philip Rivers has been accurate on his deep passes this season, and his top deep threat is Vincent Jackson. Jackson has made several big plays in each of the last two games (including one big play in triple coverage in each of the last two games), and with the Chargers' running game struggling, Jackson will be counted on to continue making them. While he is not an elusive runner after the catch, Jackson has a freaking combination of size, strength, and straight-line speed. He has joined the ranks of the top-tier fantasy WRs.
WR Michael Jenkins, ATL
- With New England taking away Roddy White in this contest, Jenkins was targeted more frequently and he made some good plays, catching a deep-in for 18 yards in the second quarter and then catching a throw placed low over the middle to the Patriots two yard-line that set up the Falcon's only touchdown. He also mad a nice one-handed catch on a corner route in tight coverage in the third quarter and then followed it up with deep sideline route for an apparently touchdown. However, Matt Ryan placed too much air under the ball -- which is common for Ryan to do -- and Jenkins had to slow down for the ball and he was called for pass interference after shielding CB Leigh Bodden downfield for the final five yards of his route. Jenkins has developed into a reliable possession receiver with some deep skills in certain play situations. Ryan clearly trusts Jenkins and if the Bears or 49ers defenses roll their coverage to White, Jenkins is a decent flex play with borderline No. 3 WR potential.
WR Bryant Johnson, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- After disappearing in the game against Minnesota last week, Bryan Johnson was the key focus of the Lion passing attack. Despite multiple drops in the first quarter, Stafford kept coming back to him and it lead to his first TD reception as a Lion and the first score of the game on a nice pass where he beat out the defender on a well thrown ball. Late in the third, Bryant Johnson was wide open on a deep pass down the middle, but Stafford overthrew him. Despite the multiple drops and overthrows, Bryant finished with 73 yards and a TD and was a key component to the Lions first win. If he retains his confidence and cuts down the drops, he could be a bigger upgrade in future weeks.
WR Brandon Marshall, DEN
- Marshall did not get the starting job for Week 3 against Oakland, but the starter designation is very overrated in the NFL. Marshall was very involved in the passing attack for the Broncos, leading all Denver players with targets, catches and yardage against the Raiders. Marshall got on the scoreboard with a short touchdown and looked to establish himself once again as the top Broncos receiver going forward. Denver faces Dallas next week, which should be a favorable matchup, but to expect Marshall to be an elite receiver with Kyle Orton's take-no-chances approach is foolhardy. He's improving to the point of being a solid No. 3 WR in most fantasy leagues with upside as a No. 2.
WR Derrick Mason, BAL
- Mason continues to be Joe Flacco's most targeted receiver, and with good reason. He's quick and explosive out of his breaks, is in sync with Flacco on timing routes and has been elusive in the open field. With the strong run game opening downfield routes with play action and Kelley Washington and Todd Heap able to draw the attention of opposing safeties over the middle, Mason looks like a WR2 at minimum moving forward.
WR Santana Moss, WAS
- Moss exploded in this game, taking advantage of a weak Detroit Secondary and breaking the biggest play of the game -- a 57-yard TD pass on an inside-out corner. Moss was all over the field, working the outside on corner routes and the inside on slants and comebacks. He frequently found the soft spots in the zone and Campbell looked to him when he was under pressure. On the final two possessions he drew heavy coverage and that opened up the field for Randle El and Ladell Betts underneath. He was the primary target on the final play, pitching the ball to Randle El when he was about to be tackled. Moss has emerged as a key component to the Redskin offense and is the 'go-to' guy when Campbell rolls out. Look for more involvement from his as the season wears on and he should receive a big upgrade after this week.
WR Josh Reed, BUF
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- While the outside receivers got most of the attention coming into the season, it looks like Josh Reed is the player who might benefit the most. Defenses continue to key on Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, which is leaving the middle of the field open for Reed. He finished the game with a team-high, six receptions on six targets for 60 yards, and often took advantage of situations where he was matched with a linebacker in coverage. He's not an exciting option, but should have some value in deeper PPR leagues.
WR Sidney Rice, MIN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Sidney Rice was a bigger part of the Viking offense this week and his first quarter TD reception was Rice's first of the year, and the longest pass play of the season for the Vikings to that point. Favre looked to Rice several more times in the game, but they were minor gains or the play was broken up. Late in the 4th quarter, Rice caught a long pass from Favre for 26 yards but Favre was beyond the line of scrimmage on the throw, and the play was reversed after a challenge. He caught another long pass down the sidelines, but was a couple feet out of bounds when he brought it in. He had a quick nine-yard gain on the game-winning drive for the Vikings, getting out of bounds to stop the clock. He still appears to be the No. 3 option on the team behind Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin, but he was definitely more involved in the offense this week.
WR Mike Sims-Walker, JAX
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Mike Sims-Walker has taken over as the Jaguars number one receiver this season. Despite a lost fumble, he had a productive game of 6 catches for 81 yards. Sims-Walker also had 10 targets, bringing his season total to 20. Quarterback David Garrard is targeting Sims-Walker regardless of down and distance yet hasn't yet begun favoring him in the redzone where he only has 4 targets on the season. Sims-Walker is averaging more then 15 yards per reception and is worth starting as a No.2 or No.3 receiver in most formats. In case your leaguemates thought his performance last week was a fluke, grab him now.
WR Steve Smith, NYG
- Smith is quickly becoming Manning's go-to guy, and one of the better possession WRs in the league. He lined up in several formations - split wide out, in the slot and also in a bunch trio formation where he caught his TD on third down. Smith often was Manning's clutch receiver on third downs, which helped keep drives alive. What's impressive is that he has very good hands and great pattern adjustment if needed. He and Eli Manning are definitely on the same page. Smith is a great weekly fantasy start. He is putting up WR1 numbers and he's probably your WR3 or WR4.
WR Sammie Stroughter, TB
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- If Josh Johnson replaces Byron Leftwich at QB, look for Stroughter to get more involved. Johnson, including a target in the end zone, targeted Stroughter three times, more than any other receiver while he was in the game. Stroughter had two catches both for first downs on the Bucs only drive into the Red Zone against the Giants. He's someone to target if you're in a deep league and you have the room to roster him.
WR Mike Wallace, PIT
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Wallace did it all against Cincinnati. He blew by the Bengal corners regardless of how much cushion he was given before the snap. He was very effective underneath as a slot receiver when matched up against corners or safeties. His speed and good awareness of the soft spots in zones should continue to increase Ben Roethlisberger's confidence in him, and might make him a strong flex option in coming weeks.
WR Kevin Walter, HOU
- Walter returned to the Texans lineup in Week 3 with a bang. Matt Schaub looked to Walter early and often, targeting him 7 times, all of which resulted in receptions. Walter finished the day with 96 yards and a touchdown at the goalline. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels will likely continue to be the top-two receivers in Houston, but the Texans passing game production makes Walter very worthy of a roster spot and occasional start in larger leagues.
WR Kelley Washington, BAL
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Washington has the confidence of Joe Flacco over the middle and in high leverage situations. He's shown good hands and a physical presence on underneath routes and he seems to have a knack to get open for Flacco when the play breaks down. He may not be a frequent option in the Red Zone, but he should continue to get enough targets to have value as a flex WR or bye week replacement.
WR Reggie Wayne, IND
- Wayne looked spectacular on a few plays, including a beautiful, diving one-handed grab for a 20-yard score on a corner route where he was able to use the ball to knock over the pylon as he landed to ensure the touchdown. He followed that up with a twisting catch on a high-thrown ball at the sideline and somehow maintaining his feet inbounds on the adjustment as he fell away from the field of play. With Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark playing so well, Wayne deserves a minor upgrade that should put him above the elite players with more hype but less consistency to their production.
WR Donnie Avery, STL
- Avery was expected to take over for Torry Holt as the No.1 WR in St. Louis this year, but he has been a bust thus far. After finishing with just one catch on six targets for 4 yards last week, he "improved" to three catches on seven targets for 12 yards against the Packers. Avery is a smaller, speedy receiver who is having trouble getting open. Even when he does manage to catch the ball, he is tackled instantly. The prospects for the Rams passing attack look very bleak if they can't find some ways to get Avery the ball in space. Keenan Burton came off the bench and out-produced Avery. Throw in a rib injury sustained yesterday and the time to abandon ship on Avery is drawing near if you couldn't trade him away earlier when he still had some value.
WR Dwayne Bowe, KC
- Bowe was inactive against the Eagles in Week 3 as he was sidelined by his hamstring injury, but his value still drops due to Kansas City's weak offense. Bowe's return to the lineup will help, but until Matt Cassel gets better protection it will be difficult for Bowe to produce at a high level. Kansas City faces the Giants and the Cowboys the next two weeks, unfavorable matchups for Bowe.
WR Isaac Bruce, SF
- Isaac Bruce was clearly the third receiving option for the 49ers in this game. Vernon Davis was the main target as he worked the middle of the field, and Josh Morgan worked the outside of the defense with quick passes and sideline routes. QB Shaun Hill touted Bruce as the 'go-to' guy before the game, but he didn't have any receptions until the 4th quarter. He had two solid catches, including a nice 28-yard sideline pass on that same series, but was quiet for most of the game. He should be up for a matchup with his former team the Rams next week and the Falcons have been a historical favorite for him as well. However, he shouldn't be a 'go-to' option for your lineup.
WR Antonio Bryant, TB
- The poor play from Bryron Leftwich and the inability to gain a first down until the third quarter was the main reason why Bryant couldn't do anything on Sunday against the Giants. Keep in mind that Bryant is still suffering from a knee injury that swells up on him from increased contact. There were definitely times in the game where Bryant shied away from contact and didn't make a full effort to catch a pass. Bryant could eventually be a WR the Bucs can count on, but right now it's clear his knee is still bothering him. Look elsewhere at WR until he recovers physically and is mentally ready for game action.
WR Chris Chambers, SD
- Chambers has not had many targets or receptions this season, but at least in the first two games he was on the field the majority of the time. Against the Dolphins, Chambers was on the sideline in most of the Chargers' three-WR sets as Legedu Naanee and Malcom Floyd joined Vincent Jackson in the lineup. Chambers was shut out on his three targets against Miami, and appears to be the fourth-best WR on the Chargers.
WR Austin Collie, IND
- Collie made some nice plays, including a 27-yard gain in the second quarter versus a zone look and a nine-yard gain in the middle of the field to set up a first down conversion on the next play. The play-by-play analysts mentioned that Collie was seen working privately with Peyton Manning in the practices leading up to this game so the rookie could get more comfortable with certain routes and situations. Although Collie has reliable hands and a great work ethic, Garcon has locked up the outside spot opposite Reggie Wayne and only and injury will put Collie into a more viable position to be a productive fantasy receiver on a consistent basis.
WR Julian Edelman, NE
- Edelman got open but had numerous drops in this game on very accurate throws. He allowed a third and six crossing route to bounce off his chest and then followed up a nice gain on an end-around with another dropped crossing route. He did make one nice play after a cross where he ducked under the defender to get the first down in the second quarter. However, it is clear Edelman is not the same caliber receiver as Wes Welker.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
- Fitzgerald will continue to be an elite receiver this year, but this game illustrated why he's not going to be as consistent a producer as fantasy owners would like. Opposing defenses are finding success pressuring Warner and forcing the quarterback to throw shorter passes, which means more opportunities for Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. Fitzgerald made his share of catches in the short and intermediate range, but Warner didn't have time to make accurate throws on the deep passes. Fitzgerald will still provide quality fantasy numbers on days like this, but don't expect him to consistently lead the Cardinals in catches or yards now that he's a marked man and the tackles have clear issues with speed rushers.
WR Joey Galloway, NE
- Galloway was overthrown on play down the middle, but he got Brady back for that bad play with several of his own. This included stepping on the end line as he caught what would have been a touchdown, and dropping a slant in the Red Zone because he took his eyes off the ball to the safety looming a few yards in front of him. He also didn't run a slant deep enough on third down, coming up a yard short after the catch. Galloway has long-been a one-dimensional player and it's showing in this offense where he is required to be a complete route runner and receiver.
WR Ted Ginn, MIA
- Ginn is still too unreliable to count on. His speed gives him the potential to make big plays, but he drops too many balls and still is not a refined route-runner. Davone Bess has become the Dolphins' featured WR, sharply diminishing Ginn's fantasy value. Ginn dropped passes Sunday on consecutive plays. He did get several steps behind the defense on one play, but was overthrown. He ended the day with zero catches. So far this season Ginn has had one good game (11 catches for 108 yards against the Colts) and two horrible games (totaling 2 catches for 26 yards against the Falcons and Chargers) -- and that's how things will likely go for the rest of the season. A single big play can make his stat line for the day look nice, but consistency eludes him.
WR Chris Henry, CIN
- With Laveranues Coles re-establishing himself as a trustworthy outside receiver and Andre Caldwell gaining favor as an underneath target on third downs, there hasn't been enough playing time for Henry to produce. Expect Henry to have a couple of monster games this season, but the current target distribution will make them rare and difficult to project.
WR Torry Holt, JAX
- Torry Holt has been relegated to the No.2 role among Jaguar receivers due to the emergence of Mike Sims-Walker. And with Maurice Jones-Drew factoring so heavily in the passing game, Holt may not produce consistently enough to be a fantasy factor this season. He had three receptions for 57 yards against Houston bringing his season totals to 12 receptions for 169 yards and 0 touchdowns. Holt is still worth a roster spot, but isn't likely to contribute as more than a fantasy bye-week option as long as the Jaguars passing game remains so conservative and Sims-Walker remains healthy.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET
- Johnson lead the Lions in receptions for the game, but had a relatively quiet week with only 49 yards receiving. He had a big 58-yard reception early in the 3rd quarter, but was flagged for interference on a questionable call. He was used as a decoy for much of the first half with fake reverses where Kevin Smith ran the ball up the middle. It was all used as a big setup a nice 9-yard reverse late in the 4th quarter. Johnson had three nice plays in a row to help the Lions get the winning TD to Maurice Morris. However, from a fantasy prospective, if Calvin continues to be use more as a decoy than a primary weapon, he's going to break your heart. The good news is his rookie QB played turnover-free football and Johnson usually converts on a minimum of big-play opportunities. He's still a worthwhile fantasy starter with huge potential, but not a guaranteed fantasy stud week-to-week right now.
WR Jacoby Jones, HOU
- Jones scored against the Jaguars on an 18 yard reception from Matt Schaub. He only had two receptions for 23 yards on three targets. With Kevin Walter returning to the lineup, Jones' production is likely to be inconsistent.
WR James Jones, GB
- Jones saw significant playing time in the game, but he was only targeted twice on short plays and could not come up with either catch. Through three games, he has just two catches on seven targets for 24 yards. Meanwhile, Jordy Nelson, his main competition for the No. 3 WR job, finished the game with three catches on five targets for 46 yards. Jones is a talented player, but the Packers offense just isn't throwing the ball as much as most expected them to, and that is limiting the opportunities for players like Jones.
WR Muhsin Muhammad, CAR
- For Carolina to be balanced on offense, and especially the passing game, Muhsin Muhammad will need to be a good compliment to Steve Smith. Against Dallas, Muhammad routinely caught key passes for first downs in the first half. He used his size to break tackles as well as seal off blocks for the running game. However, the second half for Carolina was a different story. The team failed to move the ball and a tough break came on an offensive pass interference call against Muhammad that negated a 79-yard TD catch and run that would've put the Panthers on top. Muhammad still shows signs of being a good receiver, but if the team struggles offensively, he won't have many big games that warrant a fantasy start.
WR Terrell Owens, BUF
- The honeymoon may be over in Buffalo for Owens and the Bills. He finished the game with no catches on four targets, and looked very frustrated in the game. On the one chance he had to make a big play when he got open behind the defense, Trent Edwards overthrew him badly. On another play, Owens ran a soft route, which allowed the corner to jump in front of him and deflect the ball into the air, resulting in an interception. Owens seemed to get more frustrated as the game went on, often running routes at less than full speed. This game ended his streak of 185 consecutive games with at least one reception. To this point, Owens has done a good job of keeping his frustrations in check, and some of problems are definitely his own, but the offense has to find a way to get him more involved or his historic lack of maturity will surface both on the field and in the locker room.
WR Laurent Robinson, STL
- Robinson finished the game with two receptions on four targets for 26 yards and he looked like the Rams No. 1 receiver in the game. Unfortunately, he was injured near the end of a running play when an offensive lineman rolled into the back of his leg. It looked like an ankle or knee injury that might keep in inactive for a while and was on crutches after the game. It wouldn't hurt to add another receiver to your roster if you were relying on Robinson as a starter.
WR Steve Smith, CAR
- As we all know, Steve Smith is a great football player, and one of the best WRs in the game. However he suffers when Carolina can't be consistent on offense. If the running game is not clicking, opponents concentrate on Smith, because he becomes the primary source of offense for the team. Last night against Dallas, Smith had double coverage most of the game, and nobody else stepped up enough to consistently sustain drives. Smith made a costly blunder in the 4th quarter with the team down six, when he was not same page with Jake Delhomme on a quick slant. The result was a pick six that sealed the game for Dallas. Next week the Panthers have a bye and then face WAS, @TB and then BUF. Don't give up on Smith just yet, because he has the ability and the tools to score on any given play. Carolina has yet to play with a solid lead, which keeps defenses guessing and enables Smith to be the player you drafted him for.
WR Roddy White, ATL
- The Patriots took away White's deep routes and limited him to shorter passes. White also dropped two passes in the game and lost five yards on a short hitch that LB Adalius Thomas read perfectly. White still looked like the same good player, but Chicago and San Francisco might have a blue print after this game to take away White's big-play ability, which clearly frustrated the Falcons en route to a loss.
WR Roy Williams, DAL
- There were times in the game where the Dallas coaches subbed Miles Austin for Williams and this mean Dallas' NO.1 WR wasn't in the game in every passing situation. This is a troublesome turn of events for those relying on Williams for production based on where he was drafted. Williams caught three first-down passes and two of them were simple stop and go routes with no run after the catch. His biggest play came on a crossing pattern in the fourth quarter that netted 26 yards. He had an end zone target (fade pass) that he dropped. Right now, Williams and Patrick Crayton are neck and neck regarding stats and production. Dallas has no true WR1 unless you count TE Jason Witten. If it wasn't for that crossing route pattern, Williams' night would have been forgettable. He needs to do more as the primary WR on an offense that has the ability to score on any given drive.
WR Bernard Berrian, MIN
- While Brett Favre looked to Berrian a lot in this game they did not seem to be on the same page. Berrian frequently dropped several catchable balls from Favre, including tipping one that lead to Favre's first interception of the season. Early in the game, Berrian dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Favre that would have resulted in a 20-yard gain, and he missed several others in the first half. Late in the third quarter, Favre was backed up to his end zone and hit Berrian for a nice 20-yard gain. Berrian continued to fight for additional yards and ended up getting another 16 on the play thanks to a good block from Favre who ran down the field to help. Berrian caught another pass late in the 4th that he broke for a 15-yard gain and he had a nice seven-yard out that set up the game-winning pass to Greg Lewis. One interesting note on Berrian is that when Darius Reynaud injured his hamstring on his third punt return, Berrian stepped in and took over. It's not clear how long Reynaud will be out, but if Berrian continues to return punts, he will be an upgrade in leagues that award points for punt returns. The smart move is to remain patient with Berrian, who should become a much larger part of the offense now that he is healthy. He and Favre just need to get their timing down.
WR Michael Clayton, TB
- Clayton did not have a catch on four targets against the Giants but aside from Kellen Winslow, he may be their best receiver right now since Antonio Bryant is l not fully healthy from his knee injury. The game itself was a disaster offensively with only five first downs and not one until five minutes remaining in the third quarter. In fact, no Bucs WR caught a pass until there was about twelve minutes left in the game. It was hardly Clayton's fault. He had a pass thrown behind him on a crossing route and another pass that was 10 feet over his head, because Leftwich didn't want to take a sack. Clayton did have an end zone target on a pass from Josh Johnson, but he couldn't corral the pass and keep his feet in bounds. If Josh Johnson gets the start next week, look for Clayton to bounce back. Even so, he's a desperation option at best.
WR Percy Harvin, MIN
- Harvin scored in his third consecutive game for the Vikings on a beautiful 101-yard kick return. He made one subtle cut early in the run and burst through the middle of the field, going untouched the entire way. Although Harvin didn't make it into the endzone as a receiver, he made the most of his time on offense and Favre looked to him often. Harvin burned the Niners for 18 yards late in the first quarter, but was dropped for a big loss on the next play when the defense wasn't fooled on a toss reverse. Favre tried to get him more involved in the offense, but a few passes were broken up and one was almost intercepted. Although Sidney Rice was more involved in the offense this week, it's clear that Harvin is a big part of the Vikings' attack and should be considered as a starting WR in many leagues given his ability to score every time he gets the ball.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, SEA
- Houshmandzadeh left the Week 3 game against Chicago briefly with a hand injury, but he returned later in the game. He struggled to get open and caught less than half of his targets, but was still a popular option for backup QB Seneca Wallace filling in for Matt Hasselbeck. Despite the off day, Houshmandzadeh should see more production as his targets remain high with either QB and he should perform even better once Hasselbeck is back under center. Just remember, that Houshmandzadeh lacks a true, No.1 WR on the other side of him, so borderline elite fantasy numbers probably aren't in his future.
WR Mario Manningham, NYG
- Steve Smith may have been the go-to guy for Eli Manning, but Manningham stretched the field against soft coverage that gave him a lot of cushion on most of the passes that went his way. Manningham did drop a third down catch that would've kept a drive alive, and he also had a catch ruled out of bounds that was very close to call. The play out of bounds was a 20-yard pass in pouring rain where he didn't fully have control of the ball after he tiptoed the sideline. He could very easily have had an extra 20 yards on the day. Manningham will continue to be a big contributor on an offense that has not had many troubles sustaining drives and getting scoring chances. As a result, he warrants a WR3 or flex-option going forward.
WR Josh Morgan, SF
- Josh Morgan was quiet in this game, but had several nice plays when he was involved. He took a side-arm pass from Shaun Hill in the second quarter and turned it into a nice 25-yard gain. He took another swing pass for 12 yards later that quarter. For the most part though, Vernon Davis was the main target and Morgan did not receive a lot of action. This should change with St. Louis and Atlanta next on the schedule.
WR Chad Ochocinco, CIN
- Ochocinco continues to be Carson Palmer's most-targeted receiver. With Palmer gaining confidence in the pocket and continuing to target him around the red zone, it would seem to be only a matter of time before Ochocinco has a breakout week. Still, with the offensive line not giving Palmer consistent protection, the deep and timing routes Ochocinco thrives upon may not be there every week.
WR Eddie Royal, DEN
- Eddie Royal had just one catch for four yards in Week 3 against the Raiders, but do not panic just yet. Oakland has a very good passing defense, and the ground game was fantastic for Denver. Royal is still involved in the passing attack despite Jabar Gaffney's presence. With Brandon Marshall beginning to get more comfortable with Orton, Royal should re-emerge against stiffer competition as a viable fantasy starter with teams forced to pay more attention to the more-heralded Marshall.
TE Brent Celek, PHI
- Brent Celek continues to put up serious numbers as he is the reliable target for the Eagles over the middle to move the chains and pick up the tough yards via the pass for the Eagles. While some may question his value going forward without Kevin Kolb targeting him often, Celek's value cannot be overlooked and McNabb will certainly get him in the mix. Celek's consecutive 100-yard games has him poised to break out and enter the list of Top 10 fantasy TEs sooner rather than later.
TE Vernon Davis, SF
- Davis was the clear 'go-to' guy for the 49ers in this game. He made several excellent grabs down the middle, where he used his great straight-line speed to blow past the LBS and make the catch in the secondary for big gains. He put a vicious lick on Cedric Griffin in the second quarter on a swing pass to Josh Morgan that was probably the hardest hit of the game. When the 49ers needed a big play, Davis was the guy that they looked to, and he came up for them time and time again. With Frank Gore out for the next two weeks, Davis could be the leading fantasy player on the San Francisco offense. Davis has flashed strong moments previously in his career, but his strong play this weekend came at times when the 49ers needed him most which makes his prospects even more encouraging than before.
TE Derek Fine, BUF
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- The Bills placed starting TE Derek Schouman on injured reserve last week after two weeks of effective production. Rookie Shawn Nelson also flashed some potential in limited playing time, but he missed the Saints game with a shoulder injury. That leaves Derek Fine as the only remaining TE option, and he was very active on Sunday with nine pass targets, converting five of those for 34 yards. Fine is a decent all-around prospect at the position and figures to see a lot of playing time. He's not a glamorous pick, but if you're in a pinch, you could do worse.
TE Todd Heap, BAL
- The improvement of the offensive line has allowed Heap to run more pass routes and he's been healthy enough to take advantage. He again looked sure-handed and strong over the middle against Cleveland. It may only be a matter of time before he gets more downfield and red zone looks.
TE Will Heller, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Heller had only two receptions in the second half, but he made the most of them. Early in the third he took a short pass and turned it into a first down to help keep the Detroit first drive alive. Late in the 4th quarter, Heller came up with a key reception on a beautiful roll out from Stafford that went for 24 yards and a key first down to keep the clock rolling for Detroit as they were trying to run out the clock and hold off the Redskins. He isn't fantasy material yet, but a name to remember in case he strings together even better efforts in future weeks.
TE Heath Miller, PIT
- Miller again showed that Ben Roethlisberger will use him frequently as a check-down option when the defense takes away the deep ball. He should be considered a solid bye week option in PPR leagues.
TE Dante Rosario, CAR
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- Carolina definitely looks like they want to get Rosario involved more in the offense. He has both of Jake Delhomme's two TDs this season, and he often gets single coverage, which is perhaps why Jake has gone to him often. He had two consecutive plays in the second quarter that really stood out. The first was a nice catch on a go route thanks to a perfectly placed throw by Delhomme. The QB went right back to him on the next play with a 25-yard strike to score Carolina's only points. Rosario has appeared and then disappeared before, but this season he looks to be a big part of their offense going forward. If or when the Panthers return to clicking on offense, Rosario could be a nice waiver wire pick up that could pay dividends on bye weeks.
TE Jermichael Finley, GB
- Coming off a strong game in week two, Finley had a great match up against the Rams. Unfortunately, the coaching staff gave Donald Lee most of the playing time early in the game and Finley wound up with zero targets. There were a few times when he was open on a short route, but Rodgers had time to go deep. Finley's fantasy value is probably going to remain low as long as he continues to split time with Lee and fight for targets with all the other receivers the Packers have.
TE Zach Miller, OAK
- Even Zach Miller is not immune to JaMarcus Russell's ineptitude at quarterback. Miller only had two catches and 17 yards with just five targets. Since the Raiders should have been throwing often to try and catch up on the scoreboard, this is notable. Unless the Raiders' passing offense picks it up substantially, Miller may find himself on several fantasy benches in the next few weeks. However, opposing defenses will find it preferable to force Russell to make the higher difficulty throws to inexperienced receivers on the outside than open the middle for Miller.
TE Chris Baker, NE
- Baker had one pass thrown behind him in the 4thquarer, but then he got open for a 36-yard score down the right sideline after making an adjustment when Tom Brady bought time in the pocket. It was a nice over the shoulder catch and short run into the end zone, showcasing nice balance after the defender tried to bring him down inside the five yard-line. With Ben Watson also making a nice, 23-yard catch and the tight ends not a huge focal point of the game plan, it's difficult to upgrade Baker on one play that was just as much about Tom Brady's pocket presence as Baker's receiving skill.
TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL
- Gonzalez's first (and only) catch came in the fourth quarter. It wasn't because he played a poor game or the Patriots did a great job of taking him away. The Falcons tried to take advantage of defense match ups on the field with a hurry-up approach and simply didn't target Gonzalez in this contest. One thing the Patriots did do well was force Matt Ryan from the pocket on third downs, which prevented the QB from focusing on his TE. This will change in future weeks because it is clear if the Falcons are going to win through the air, their prize-TE will have to be targeted far more.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN
- Shiancoe did not reach the endzone this week, but was a frequent target of Favre throughout the game. In the first quarter, Favre threw to him a couple times, but he couldn't hang on to the ball. Later in the game, with Favre under pressure, he threw to Shiancoe, but the pass was well defended and he couldn't come up with the reception. Late in the second quarter, Favre checked down to Shiancoe and he came up with the reception, and turned a 3rd and 1 into a nice 10-yard gain. His only other catch was an 11-yard gain on the first play of the game-winning drive. Favre loves his TEs and will find a way to get them involved. Shiancoe would have had much better stats if he hadn't dropped so many passes. However, this is what we have come to expect from Shiancoe: lots of promise with some eye-catching games, but too much inconsistency to be solid fantasy starter week-to-week.
TE Kellen Winslow, TB
- The Buccaneers offense could not move the ball well at all against the Giants, only reaching a total of five first downs all game. Winslow was targeted fairly often, but the incompletions were hurried, overthrown, or underthrown at his feet. When he was able to make a play it was barely a few yards down field. The Bucs replaced the ineffective Byron Leftwich with Josh Johnson, who provides a more mobile approach. Johnson has the tools to escape the pass rush and find the open man with an accurate and strong throw. This bodes well for Winslow, who should bounce back provided the Bucs correct their QB issues. Even if the QB play only improves marginally, a TE is often a young QB's best friend, so Winslow is still a viable starter.
PK Jason Hanson, DET
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- With their first win since Prohibition, the Lions can now think of themselves as a real NFL team. Even better, they have a real NFL offense. Calvin Johnson gives them a legitimate chance to score big points every week. Jason Hanson is a great kicker (he is perfect on six FGs and five PATs) and is in a good situation. He is likely available on your waiver and is a better option than top preseason options like Jason Elam and Rob Bironas.
PK Matt Prater, DEN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- While he has missed a pair of FGs this season, Matt Prater has one very important thing going for him - he's getting lots of chances. Further, Head Coach Josh McDaniels is not afraid to let Prater kick from long distance as he already has three makes from beyond 40 yards (one of which was from 50).
PK Rob Bironas, TEN
- Things are just going bad for the Titans this season. They are desperate for wins and desperate for points. Rob Bironas has been inaccurate thus far, with two missed FGs on only five attempts. There are likely better options available on your waiver wire right now.
PK Jason Elam, ATL
- The Falcons offense sputtered against the Patriots and have San Francisco and Chicago up next. Making matters worse, the usually reliable Jason Elam has already missed three kicks this season (two FGs and one PAT). Currently, there are a litany of other options that are more attractive than Elam.
TD Cincinnati Bengals, CIN
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- The Bengals continue to turn in solid outings. They are allowing just over 325 yards per game and fewer than 20 points per week. While they have only forced a pair of turnovers this year, Cincinnati is tied for the league lead with 10 sacks. If they turnovers start piling up, this will be a great fantasy unit.
TD Denver Broncos, DEN
- While they have been aided by a very easy schedule (Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Oakland), the Broncos defense leads the league in sacks (with 10), points allowed (a tiny 5.3 per game), and yards allowed (fewer than 215 per outing). Plus, they are one off the league high in sacks with eight. They certain merit mentioning here, but exercise a little caution with the upcoming schedule.
TD New Orleans Saints, NO
- *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
- It's getting easier to type - the Saints defense is an excellent fantasy option. They are holding their opponents under 19 points per game and are creating havoc. With a league-leading nine forced turnovers, seven sacks, and a return touchdown, New Orleans is getting it done on the defensive side of the ball as well. With the amount of pressure opponents feel from the Brees-led offense, the defense should continue to be provided with plenty of fantasy opportunities.
TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL
- The Falcons started the season with a nice scoring day, but they have hurt their fantasy owners over the last two games. They have forced six turnovers but are average in sacking the QB. Despite allowing only 17.7 points per game, they have allowed almost 400 yards per contest. This group looks decidedly mediocre.
TD Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT
- The Steelers have disappointed out of the gates this season, and their defense is at the forefront of that disappointment. Picked by most at the beginning of the season as the top fantasy unit, Pittsburgh has failed to live up to that billing. They have been OK with regard to points allowed (only 16.7 per game) and yards allowed (fewer than 300 per contest), but they are not forcing turnovers (only two this season) nor are they finding the quarterback (only four sacks in three games). Maybe the return of Troy Palomalu will get them back on track, but that's still a few weeks away. Until then, the Steelers are not a nice fantasy option.