Welcome to Week 4, where we can all regroup and recover from the fantasy insanity that was Week 3.
From San Francisco’s shocking implosion against Indianapolis at home to the fantasy dominance by the likes of Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, last week’s fantasy rankings and predictions are a smoldering wreckage of broken promises and shattered fantasy hopes.
What can we glean from last week’s craziness? Let’s look at the stats.
Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions
3 targets—1 catch, 5 yards, 1 touchdown @ Washington
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions
2 targets—goose egg @ Washington
Why is this meager target count significant? Because this marks the second week out of three thus far that Joseph Fauria has outperformed Brandon Pettigrew.
The 6’7” giant has turned into a bit of a red zone favorite for Matthew Stafford, who flicked a sidearm touchdown pass to him while backpedaling in one of the worst and most brilliant throws you might see this season.
If Fauria is still available on the waiver wire, you might consider grabbing him if you need a second tight end—especially if Brandon Pettigrew is one of your tight ends.
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers
2 targets—2 receptions, 34 yards @ Titans
The Royal Bubble has burst. You didn’t think Eddie Royal was going to score 20 touchdowns this season, did you?
Granted, Royal did score a touchdown that was rightfully called back—he only scored because of offensive pass interference on Keenan Allen’s fault—but this target count and overall stat line is more par for the course of preseason expectations for him.
Chris Givens, WR, St. Louis Rams
8 targets—2 receptions, 54 yards, 1 fumble @ Cowboys
The Rams were caught in a Freddy Krueger film this week against the Cowboys, and Givens was one of the unfortunate victims.
Despite garnering the most targets on the team, Givens caught just two passes, fumbling after his second one. He had a pretty good matchup against the Cowboys, but the Rams weren’t able to get anything going all game long.
This marks two weeks out of the first three where Givens has been a dud, and the third wasn’t exactly an earth-moving performance. It’ll be interesting to see whether he can get things going—he certainly has the talent to produce big numbers—or Sam Bradford will continue to struggle getting him the ball. He might be a good buy-low candidate, but he seems like a boom-or-bust prospect.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
7 targets—3 receptions, 48 yards vs. Giants
The Panthers danced all over New York’s early grave at home, but Steve Smith didn’t get in on much of the fun.
It was more of the same for Smith, who hasn’t quite picked up his production this season yet. Guys like Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LaFell are getting all the play. Smith caught his only touchdown in the unlikeliest of his matchups—Seattle and Richard Sherman in Week 1—and isn’t even on pace for 800 receiving yards on the season.
But he has a healthy target count with 23 thus far on the season. It’s only a matter of time for Smith.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
22 touches—20 carries, 88 yards; 2 receptions, 20 yards
Once again, Doug Martin got a workhorse’s load over the weekend. Once again he couldn’t get into the end zone.
Something’s gotta give soon, right?
Martin is currently second in the league in rushing yardage. He has not been particularly efficient getting there—he is averaging just 4.1 yards per carry and 2.3 yards after contact per carry—but this isn’t new territory for the second-year back. He got off to a similarly slow start in 2012, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and scoring just one rushing touchdowns through the first five weeks before getting on a roll.
Stick with him if you’ve got him, try to trade for him if you don’t.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
14 touches—10 carries, 50 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 49 yards vs. Packers
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
10 touches—10 carries, 29 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble vs. Packers
It’s really too bad the Bengals rely on BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but the winds of change are blowing in Cincinnati.
After Bernard scored Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the game from short distance, the Bengals couldn’t resist putting the Law Firm out there for another goal line plunge that netted him a touchdown. Why teams put ineffective runners out there on goal line tries because of their size is beyond understanding, but that is another topic to tackle.
As the game wore on, however, it became clear the Bengals trusted the rookie with a bigger workload. It helped that Green-Ellis had an uncharacteristic fumble that could he put the game out of reach, though Cincinnati didn’t pull a Tom Coughlin and bench him after that.
It looks like Bernard will still have to share that backfield, but he is winning a larger share with each passing week.
Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts
13 touches—13 carries, 35 yards, 1 touchdowns @ 49ers
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts
22 touches—19 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 16 yards
What happened in San Francisco last weekend?
Trent Richardson wasn’t supposed to be productive—given he joined the team mid-week and the 49ers defense is supposed to be good—let alone Ahmad Bradshaw, who had an unexpectedly huge game. What can we infer from the tandem’s workload?
Indianapolis got Richardson into the end zone on his first carry with the team, a one-yard plunge after Ahmad Bradshaw had done the work on the drive. The Colts continued to use Richardson to little effect throughout the game while Bradshaw got stronger as it went. It was almost as if the Colts and 49ers swapped roles.
Bradshaw talked about being in a tandem with Richardson, and the Colts didn’t do anything to dispel that notion. But we expected that, given Richardson’s short week with the new team. Can we count on a true split?
The truth is, Bradshaw owners won a reprieve with this performance. Richardson is bound to take over the majority of the playing time in Indianapolis, especially if Bradshaw gets hurt again. If you don’t already own both, consider trading Bradshaw to the Richardson owner and getting a good return while you can.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots
8 touches—3 carries, 51 yards; 5 receptions, 49 yards vs. Buccaneers
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
12 touches—11 carries, 35 yards; 1 reception, 8 yards vs. Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
14 touches—14 carries, 65 yards vs. Buccaneers
Another week, another disappointment for Stevan Ridley owners.
This time, it was Brandon Bolden cutting into his productivity. The second-year running back was back on the field after a knee issue kept him out of Week 2, and he did all the things Shane Vereen is expected to do when he returns. Namely, Bolden caught the ball out of the backfield effectively.
LeGarrette Blount saw all the touches late in the game as the Patriots were simply trying to milk the clock in a blowout victory. There was no garbage time for Ridley.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
11 touches—11 carries, 39 yards @ Panthers
Da’Rel Scott, RB, New York Giants
3 touches—1 carry, 5 yards; 2 receptions, 17 yards @ Panthers
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
3 touches—3 carries, 2 yards @ Panthers
The Giants are an unmitigated disaster. But hidden in that abominable offensive display against the Panthers was a dusty, golden nugget for fantasy owners looking to buy or sell David Wilson.
The second-year back got nearly twice the touches as his running mates—Da’Rel Scott and Brandon Jacobs—did combined. Wilson played 26 offensive snaps, the most in that backfield as well. He also did much more with the ball, albeit a 3.5 yards-per-carry average isn’t exactly gaudy.
Missing in all those statistics was the fact Wilson had a 17-yard touchdown run to the outside nullified by a holding penalty on Will Beatty. Wilson is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode on your fantasy roster. The timer is running out.
Brian Hoyer, QB, Cleveland Browns
54 throws—30 completions, 321 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions; 1 carry, -2 yards
And your new, permanent starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns is Brian Hoyer!
Well, not quite yet as head coach Rob Chudzinski hasn’t made any commitments yet. After all, how comparable are Hoyer and Brandon Weeden when the latter didn’t have Josh Gordon getting wide open a few times and exploding for 146 yards and a touchdown? It’ll be tough for Chudzinski to ignore Hoyer’s game-winning performance, though it’s equally tough to believe he will come close to repeating it.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
27 throws—13 completions, 150 yards, 1 interception; 7 carries, 20 yards, 1 fumble
The Seahawks were going to be a tough matchup for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, but the Colts? They were supposed to be a cakewalk in comparison.
Instead, Kaepernick struggled for a second week in a row. The play-calling was suspect—why run away from the run when Frank Gore is gashing the opposing defense?—but Kaepernick obviously missed Vernon Davis, who was ruled out of the game with a hamstring issue. Anquan Boldin, the 33-year-old wonder, was the only reliable receiver left standing in San Francisco last week, a real problem.