The league is all shook up about Randy Moss, but there was a ton of other big news and things to learn from this week’s action. Follow me as I tell you the things that you need to know, and again, yes, Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings. You weren’t dreaming that.
–In the AFC North matchup of the Bengals and Browns, we learned quite a bit about one new stud and one old stud. The new face of Peyton Hillis rushed for his second straight 100 yard rushing game in a row. I honestly don’t know where this burst came from. Equally surprising was the performance from an old stud in Terrell Owens. I had him on my bench, but now he is a must start because he put up 35 fantasy points with 222 yards and a TD on 10 receptions. He was getting a ton of targets, and when teams load up to guard Ochocinco, Terrell proved that he can still burn you. Both Hillis and Owens are the real deal, start them.
–I gave you some good recommendations in my Start These Guys, and Sit Those Dudes post this week. If you followed my advice, then you were pretty pleased with both Mark Sanchez and LaDainian Tomlinson of the New York Jets. Sanchez remained clean with 2 TDs passed, but had just 150 yards. He didn’t need to keep passing with L.T. pounding the ball, gaining 133 yards and scoring 2 TDs. Vintage L.T. is here to stay. Don’t mind that Shonn Greene got more carries; LT will continue to be the starter here.
–If I had to pick the most balanced offense in the league, I would pick the Baltimore Ravens. They run consistently well and pass the ball with ease. Since Flacco’s implosion in Week 2, he picked up the pieces and has become very reliable for fantasy owners. Plus, slinging that TD pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to mount a 4th quarter comeback this week against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers was icing on the cake. Who benefits in fantasy from a balanced offense? The quarterback and his receivers do, because good fantasy running backs like Frank Gore and Chris Johnson carry their team. Right now Ray Rice isn’t carrying his team, so invest in the Ravens receiving corp.
–In a Denver Broncos game where Laurence Maroney is the best running back, you have some serious problems. The Broncos backfield is the worst in the league; don’t start any running backs here. But where they lack in running, they make up for it in their passing game. Kyle Orton is a beast and has thrown for 300 yards or more every week (alright, fine; he had 295 yards in week 1, but we can round up to 300 because he had 476 in Week 3). Anyway you slice it, Kyle Orton is an excellent fantasy quarterback and when he does sputter out, Matt Prater will bring it home by knocking in 4 field goals. He is currently 8-for-8 and has become a legitimate fantasy kicker.
–In a game where the starting quarterback and starting running back were sidelined with injuries, the Detroit Lions offense still managed to put up 26 points on the tough Green Bay Packer defense. Having Calvin Johnson to throw to helps, of course. Johnson had 86 yards and 2 TDs this week. Surprisingly, backup QB Shaun Hill has been performing very well despite a lot of interceptions, two a game to be exact. But he also had had a pair of 300-yard games and has compiled a 60 percent completion percentage this season. And as for the Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley remains the only dependable fantasy threat on that team. Rodgers completed just 12 passes in the last game. Begin chanting, “over-rated” if you’d like.
–I just looked at the stats from the San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons game. There was literally nothing good to say, but did you see that Taylor Mays TD off of the blocked punt? That was pretty cool.
–If you have been starting DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart every week, you finally got a little return for your investment when the Panthers played the Saints. Let me guess, you probably feel like you wasted your 2nd or 3rd round pick? Though there has been little to say so far, I expect with the loss of Steve Smith, the offense will be returned to the rightful owners. The Smash and Dash days will be back. On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees has been struggling, especially when getting the ball to Marquis Colston. When Drew Brees’ longest pass play is 20 yards against the Panthers, there are definite problems.
–Welcome to the Mark Clayton show. I’ve been to a bunch of St. Louis Rams games, but I’ve never seen the fans so excited. Sam Bradford is quickly becoming a legitimate fantasy quarterback. He has a very diverse receiving corps and he uses them very well. I even keep forgetting that he is a rookie.
–The Indianapolis Colts dropped to 2-2 this week after a game winning field goal by the Jacksonville Jaguars as time expired. The Colts’ defense has proved throughout the season as an easy matchup for any running back. Maurice Jones-Drew has been pretty quiet this season, but was able to rack up 105 yards and a TD against the Colts. The Colts did, however, put up good numbers with Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne. These two are must-starts in every format.
–If you are lucky enough to have Arian Foster, you are probably continually rolling in your fantasy league as he helped the Texans beat the Raiders. The man can’t be stopped. He had 131 yards and a TD on just 16 carries. He even had 56 receiving yards and a TD catch. I have been awaiting the return of Michael Bush to see how it would affect Darren McFadden’s productivity, and unfortunately Bush had a pretty big impact. He took 7 carries, 40 yards and a TD from McFadden. Wait and see on this backfield situation.
–We all saw the classy way the Philly fans greeted Donovan McNabb, but even though he had a forgettable game, McNabb stuck it to the Eagles. I don’t know if it was because Vick got injured or if it was because of the emergence of a viable Redskins ground game, but Donovan got the opportunity to prove why the Eagles shouldn’t have traded him. The biggest fantasy news to come out of this game was that Ryan Torain will probably transition into the starting back for Washington. Luckily for LeSean McCoy fantasy owners, losing Vick is the best thing that could happen to you. McCoy saw a decline in rushing attempts when Vick would carry the ball more. Though he did suffer an injury this week, it seems minor and he may only be sidelined a week or two.
–Ryan Mathews made a triumphant return this week for the Chargers as they faced the Cardinals. Mathews had 55 rushing yards and a TD on just 9 carries. He still saw FB Mike Tolbert get twice as many carries as him, but I think that Mathews numbers will go up and Tolbert’s numbers will go down. The Chargers have made it very clear that they prefer Mathews. As he nurses his ankle injury, he will be less productive, but he should be back in top shape in a few weeks. The big story from this game was Antonio Gates, who caught a pair of TDs and 144 yards. He became the 7th tight end in NFL History to get to 500 catches.
–I had a feeling that the Bears weren’t for real, and Eli Manning and his Giant defense proved it to me. When you have a running back and a receiver over 100 yards, then you are probably having a great game for your fantasy owners. Ahmad Bradshaw had 129 yards and a TD and Hakeem Nicks ended the game with 110 yards on 8 catches. Unfortunately for Eli Manning owners, you didn’t get a piece of the action. Eli had just 195 yards and 0 TDs. The Bears managed just 110 yards TOTAL and no touchdowns. Sorry to anyone who is a Bears fantasy owner.
–After a Patriots game where Randy Moss had 0 catches and was only thrown to once, it wasn’t surprising to hear that Moss is being traded to the Vikings. It is just as unbelievable to hear that the Patriots defense and special teams did all the work against the Dolphins. But luckily for the few people who snatched up “The Law Firm” BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriot run game was in full swing. BJGE ended the game with 76 yards and a TD. Fred Taylor hasn’t done that all season. With the loss of Moss, continue to start “The Law Firm.”