Monday Morning Takeaway; Week 4

Fantasy Football Fanatics

Monday Morning Takeaway; Week 4

By, Eric Hartvigson


Cleveland 16, Baltimore 23


Quarterback Brandon Weeden is making strides in his rookie season finishing Thursday Night’s game with 320 passing yards. Like all young quarterbacks, Weeden is still making rookie mistakes as evident by staring down his wide receiver on a 3rd and 5 tossing a pick-six to Ravens cornerback Carey Williams. Although Weeden has zero fantasy value, his elevated play could very well render a Browns wide receiver viable by season’s end.

The ongoing question is “which of the Browns wide receivers could emerge as a fantasy starter?” Early in this contest Greg Little was looking like a waiver addition. Through the first three weeks of the season Little has been targeted just over 6 times per game, but plagued by the drop allowing a league high 11 passes to slip thorugh his fingers. Little again found difficultly hanging onto the football dropping a very catchable touchdown in a tight ballgame time ticking down. Little remains on our “watch list”, but not yet worthy of a roster spot until he can rectify these issues.

Trent Richardson put together another solid game considering the stout Ravens defense. Richardson is proving worth the 2nd round pick fantasy owners spent to draft the star running back.


Torrey Smith gave fantasy owners an early season scare after being absent from the Ravens passing game in weeks one and two. That notion has been dismissed with 20 targets over the past two games totaling 224 yards and 3 touchdowns. Smith is now a lineup lock.

Joe Flacco is slowly emerging as a fantasy option in the Ravens new high octane offense climbing up to become a mid / low QB1.

In typical Anquan Boldin fashion he is delivering one good game every three weeks. His lack of consistency is unnerving and hard to rely on as a weekly starter. Consider Boldin a sport start when the Ravens have a softer defensive matchup.


Carolina 28, Atlanta 30


As a member of my preseason sleeper list, I was starting feel like a donkey for recommending Greg Olsen in the later rounds.  However, Olsen has redeemed himself the past two weeks finally getting into the endzone along with 89 yards receiving in his matchup with the Falcons. Olsen should be viewed as a low end TE1 moving forward.

Cam Newton slow start to the season received a strong vote of confidence with a stat line that included 215 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 86 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He is impossible to bench unless you have amazing depth at the quarterback position (ie; Big Ben or Griffin III).

With Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup, both he and DeAngelo Williams had nearly identical carries. This week it was D-Will scoring the touchdown as the RBBC is alive and well in Carolina. Hard to recommend any Carolina running back.


Matt Ryan is a stud and Roddy White is the security blanket when things get tough with. However, most puzzling is the up and down performance from Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. Targeted eight times Jones only managed only one catch for 30 yards. No way this trend continues as Jones could be a “buy low” at the right price.

Aging Michael Turner ripped through the paper thin Carolina run defense accumulating 171 total yards and one touchdown. Moral of the story, start your running backs facing the Panthers.


New England 52, Buffalo 28


Quickly falling behind 21-7, the first half of this game was filled with uncharacteristic mistakes from the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski had a fumble along with 3 early drops. Welker even put the ball on the ground and normally rock solid kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed two makeable field goals.  But in the end talent prevailed as all major players on the Patriots offense ended the game with solid fantasy point production including; Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd.

Steven Ridley owners were also rewarded with 106 yards and two touchdowns. But talk round the Monday morning water cooler will be “who the heck is Brandon Bolden?” After a long history of an RBBC, Bill Bellichick is again utilizing a two-headed attack as rookie running back Brandon Bolden took 16 carries totaling 137 yards and 1 touchdown. If you doing the math, that’s 8.6 yards per carry as Bolden went beast mode through the Bills defensive line. Ridley owners should be worried as Bolden has now entrenched himself as a partner in the backfield, including sharing goal line looks. As for Bolden, he is most certainly worth adding and now a must handcuff for Ridley owners.


As predicted the Patriots made it a point to shut down the Bills strongest weapon, Steve Johnson.  That forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to find other options as Fitzpatrick obliged tossing four touchdowns including two scores to tight end Scott Chandler. Targeted eight times in this game Chandler remains a mid / low TE1 as the Bills lone red zone player.

Much of the talk throughout the week has been “who will start in the Bills backfield with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller ailing from injury?” To our surprise, both suited up and saw action. Although neither was all that impressive, Jackson looks to be the lead horse with 13 carries to Spiller’s eight.  Let the RBBC ensue along with our confusion of who to rely on in our starting lineups.


Minnesota 20, Detroit 13


Percy Harvin opened the game with a kick return for a touchdown. In the early minutes of the third quarter it was Marcus Sherels adding a punt return for a touchdown. In-between it was all Adrian Peterson as the Vikings rode their franchise player to a nearly unchallenged victory.

For those wondering, Jerome Simpson was a part of the game plan being targeted five times, reeling in four catches for 50 yards. Simpson is now a mid WR4 and climbing.


The Lions were once again outplayed and outcoached. This time by the Minnesota defense who did a phenomenal job shutting down the whole Detroit passing offense including Calvin Johnson for much of the game. What has happened to that high flying Detroit offense?

After a breakout performance last week fantasy owners are likely frustrated was the regression of Mikel Leshoure against what appears to be a very beatable Vikings defensive line. The fact is the Vikings are currently ranked 2nd in point allowed to running backs behind the 49ers. I wouldn’t overreact to this game as Leshoure’s fantasy appeal is still along the lines a mid RB2.

The stat line will show Joique Bell leading the team in receiving yards. Do not be confused as Bell was brought in late in the game when the Vikings were in “prevent coverage” eliminating the downfield threat of Megatron. Bell should remain on the waiver wire.


San Diego 37, Kansas City 20


The highlight of this game was the outstanding play of the Chargers defense who took the ball away from the Chiefs five times in the first half.  Building a commanding lead the Chargers put the game in cruise control coasting to an easy win.

The player to monitor exiting this contest is backup running back Jackie Battle. Last week’s headlines coming from San Diego had general manager AJ Smith and head coach Norv Turner frustrated with Mathews ongoing fumbling issues, especially down near the stripe. The Chargers responded splitting carries evenly between Battle and Mathews, but also giving Battle the goal line looks.  He responded in a big way finding the endzone twice. As the backup to an injury prone starter with fumbling issues Battle will certainly be hot waiver pickup this week, a near must add if you own Mathews.  Just remember, Mathews is the more explosive player as the Chargers want his to take control of the starting role.


Certain teams are easy to surmise and Chiefs are one of them.  Three things Kansas City does every week is; 1) run the football with Jamal Charles, 2) fall behind on the scoreboard and 3) throw the ball to Dwayne Bowe. Charles finished the game with 92 yards rushing and a touchdown while Bowe added 108 yards and a score of his own. The only other player worth owning is Peyton Hillis, just barely.


Seattle 13, St. Louis 19


I’m a Seahawks fan so this game is easy for me to evaluate. Nothing new in Seattle; Marshawn Lynch is a beast, the passing game is stagnant and the defense is overwhelming. From a fantasy standpoint, this is most predictable team in football.


Listed as “questionable” all week with a groin injury, Steven Jackson suited up and started the game. Facing a stiff Seattle rush defense Jackson actually played “well”, despite his meager 67 yard production. S-Jax owners should feel confident that he played the entire game, exiting with no further injury. I suggest we view Jackson as a very low end RB2 with a stiff Arizona rush defense up next.

Danny Amendola remains the only viable Rams wide receiver worth rostering.  However, rookie Brian Quick, who has been a healthy scratch through the opening three weeks, finally saw his first action of the season. Certainly not worth a roster spot just yet, but he is a physical specimen and now a member of our “watch list” as his targets begin to climb.


San Francisco 34, New York 0


This was an old fashion butt kicking as the San Fran defense made this game very, very easy for the offense.  When that happens the winning team usually finds great success on the ground as evident by the 245 rushing yards from the 9ers with three different players punching in a touchdown via the run. On the flip side, the aerial attack never needed to take flight as Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis were left grounded.

Also getting into the act was second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick who tacked on 50 yards rushing including a seven yard touchdown. He could have scored a second but instead chose to hook slide on the one yard line allowing the 9ers to assume the victory formation.


I’m not one to brag when my predictions come true, but entering the season I suggested we avoid all Jets players. Although this was a tough defense matchup, the Jets are downright awful as my prediction remains spot on. Ugh.


Tennessee 14, Houston 38


Like so many games on Sunday, the Titans were absolutely man handled by the Texans in a lopsided affair. In this game starting quarterback Jake Locker suffered a shoulder separation giving way to backup Matt Hasselbeck. The veteran didn’t fare much better throwing two pick-six touchdowns for the Texans defense. Hasselbeck did connect on two touchdowns; the first with backup tight end Craig Stevens, the second with rookie wideout Kendall Wright. With such sporadic production I find it hard to trust any member of the Tennessee passing game.

Challenged by everybody including my mother, Chis Johnson finally showed up running hard gaining 141 yards against a stiff Texans defense. On the down side, many owners had him placed firmly on the bench, myself included. Not yet in our good graces, CJ has tough matchup next week against the surprisingly 2nd ranked Minnesota rush defense.


Texans do what they always do. Run the ball effectively, short to intermediate passing and play bad a** defense. Unfortunately this does not favor Andre Johnson. Now averaging a paltry six targets per game, Dre owners should be getting accustomed to games like this. He’s nearly impossible to sit, but production will be hard to come by when playing mediocre opponents who fail to score points.

Identical to Johnson, Matt Schaub is only worth starter consideration when the Texans play an opponent capable of challenging their defense.


Oakland 6, Denver 37


Finding the positives with the Raiders offense is like finding the positive after a car accident. Darren McFadden struggled early in this contest and eventually eliminated from the game plan as the Raiders continued to fall further and further behind.

The only upside to report was the continued progression of Denarius Moore who has returned from a preseason hamstring injury to lead his team in receiving. Moore is a lower WR3 limited by his team’s inability to sustain drives.


There is one stat that summarizes this whole game.  The Broncos possessed the ball seven times and did not have a single punt. When that happens it means every member of the Broncos feasted led by Willis McGahee’s 112 yards and one touchdown.

Worries about Peyton Manning’s fantasy production should be put on hold as the old gun slinger absolutely torched the Raiders secondary to the tune of 338 yards and three touchdowns. In such a game we would also expect the wide receivers to benefit as Eric Decker finished the day with 79 yards and a touchdown complimented by Demaryius Thomas 103 yards.

The only confusion in Denver is continued tight end by committee as Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressen are still splitting reps. Tamme had more targets in this game, but Dreesen started on the field and scored the only tight end touchdown. Best advice is to find better options for the time being while this mess is sorted out.

We should note that backup running back Ronnie Hillman was the primary ball carrier behind starter Willis McGahee with 12 touches for 63 total yards. All signs point to Hillman finally becoming the McGahee handcuff. McGahee owners should lock him up while he’s cheap.


Miami 21, Arizona 24


Touted as the weakest of the rookie quarterbacks week one, Ryan Tannehill has slowly progressed into a “good” NFL starter.  Although not yet fantasy worthy, the young signal caller is giving relevancy to rest of the team’s offensive player’s including Brian Hartline.  A member of our week 2 “add-em” list, Hartline rewarded owners who took a chance with the best game of the week totaling 253 yards and one touchdown (you read that right, 253 yards from a Miami wide receiver). I think it’s probably best to start Hartline until he proves otherwise.

Miami is a confused offense when it comes to the running game. Reggie Bush rips off some nice runs, but quickly pulled from the game once the Fins near the goal line in favor of the ineffective Daniel Thomas. Drives me nuts.


Only managing 80 yards total offense in the first half Kevin Kolb and the Cards turned up the heat in the second half finishing the game with 324 yards through the air and three touchdowns.

I didn’t want to believe it, but Andre Roberts (118 yards, two touchdowns) is a legitimate fantasy option with Kolb under. The reason being Kolb doesn’t laser lock Larry Fitzgerald like fellow quarterback John Skelton.  Instead Kolb progresses through reads, utilizing the attention drawn by Larry Fitzgerald to find a single covered Roberts. If Roberts is available in your league, he is most certainly worthy of adding.

Ryan Williams owners will be scratching their heads wondering how the new bell cow back for the Cardinals could only produce two yards per carry against the Dolphins? Let me inform you that although the Miami defensive line currently ranked 14th in fantasy points allowed, they are currently ranked 3rd in rushing yards allowed. That’s after facing Arian Foster and Darren McFadden. The Fins rush defense much better than many realize, and should be recognized when setting our future lineups.


Cincinnati 27, Jacksonville 10


In only his second season Andy Dalton looks like a poised veteran playing within the offensive system, taking what the defense gives him while minimizing his mistakes. He is worthy of starter consideration as a lower QB1 depending on his matchup.

Fantasy owners of Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis should be pulling their hair out after this game. Given multiple opportunities at short yardage touchdowns, the Law Firm was not only snuffed, but fumbled on a goal line dive. Applauded for never fumbling with the Patriots, Green-Ellis has now lost two fumbles in back-to-back games. Should this problem persist, Green-Ellis could lose goal line looks all together severely hindering his fantasy value.

Bengals breakout player Andrew Hawkins should be put on hold for another week as he continues to see limited targets hindering his production. As an extension of the running game, Hawkins is only advised in games against stiff rushing defenses. Just so happens the 3rd ranked Miami rush defense is coming to Cincinnati. If you need a bye week wide receiver, Hawkins has a respectable risk / reward as a lower WR3.


Only able to muster 212 total yards of offensive production, the Jaguars new look offense is more like the old look offense. You know it’s never going to good day when Maurice Jones-Drew is held to 38 yards rushing.

The lone positive observation from the Jaguars was the increased usage of Justin Blackmon. For the first time this season the rookie wide receiver was a part of the game plan as evident by his 10 targets, 6 receptions for 48 yards. Playing within the anemic Jaguars passing attack, it’s hard to recommend Blackmon as anything more than a roster stash low end WR5.


New Orleans 27, Green Bay 28


Finally some offensive production from these two teams. Drew Brees led the way throwing the ball 54 times totaling 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Also getting into the mix for the Saints was running back Darren Sproles with 64 yards and a touchdown. Sproles remains the only week-to-week starter in the New Orleans backfield.

Marques Colston must be the new Anquan Boldin. Just as we consider sitting the guy, he shows up in a big way with 153 yards and a touchdown.  With the Saints defense giving it up like Paris Hilton on New Years, the passing game should remain in full affect making Colston a tough sit.

Side note; Darren Sproles had a clear fumble late in this game on a kick return ruled down by contact. My question is, will the media persecute the Saints the way they did Golden Tate calling Sproles a “cheater”, low class and lacking sportsmanship? I doubt it.


Not to be outdone in the quarterback battle, Aaron Rodgers nearly matched Brees fantasy production throwing for a season high 319 yards and four touchdowns. He’s really good.

One of Rodgers touchdowns went to his favorite wide receiver Greg Jennings. However Jennings would be seen in street clothes on the sidelines with what the Packers are calling a groin injury, a continuation of the same injury that caused him to miss week two’s matchup with the Bears. This is cause for concern as the recovery time for soft tissue injuries are tough to gauge.

In Jennings absence stepped James Jones who received 56 yards and two touchdowns in this game. So long as Jennings is absent, Jones is viable starter and should be added if he is available in your league.


Washington 24, Tampa Bay 22


I just have to say that Robert Griffin III is a true warrior. Being hit time and time again he just kept on coming. Despite three missed field goals from kicker Billy Cundiff, RG3 would lead his team to a much needed win in the waning moments of the game. Griffin is a rare breed.

Fred Davis has put together back-to-back solid games totaling 70 yards against the Bucs defense. Should you need tight end help, Davis is developing into a low end TE1 and may have been dropped in your league after a slow start. I’d start him over the Denver tight ends.

I can’t say it enough, I am shocked that Mike Shanahan hasn’t reverted back to his tendency of the old RBBC. It almost a non-issue as Alfred Morris is now the Skins bell cow back. Ride the hot hand.


Down 21-6, and nearing the 4th quarter, the Buccaneers finally realized they need to throw the football in order to keep this game competitive. This resulted in both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams topping 100 yards each for the first time this season. Jackson further rewarded fantasy owners adding on a touchdown.

All that passing limited Doug Martin and LeGerette Blount to 14 touches, total.  Further aggravating Martin owners was the loss of red zone carries late in the game to Blount who punched in a two yard run. The RBBC looks to be renewed in Tampa.


New York 17, Philadelphia 19


Week three sweetheart Ramses Barden was relegated back to third string duty with the re-insurgence of Dominick Hixon into the lineup. Hixon finished the night with 114 yards on six receptions. This result has two outcomes; 1) Hixon is the actual backup behind Nicks and 2) so long as Hixon or Nicks is healthy, Barden has minimal fantasy value. With everyone running to the wiaver wire and adding Barden last week, we can slowly sneak up and grab Hixon is you need wide receiver help.

With the Eagles brining the heavy pass rush the Giants were forced to use tight end Martellus Bennett as a blocker first, receiver second. Up next are the much more beatable Cleveland Browns as Bennett will return to being a mid TE1.


This game didn’t teach us much about the Eagles we didn’t already know. Michael Vick is good, DeSean Jackson is solid and LeSean McCoy is a stud.

The only real observation was the lack of production from Jeremy Maclin. Through most of the game I thought Maclin was injured, even double checking the inactive report at halftime to ensure he started the game. It wasn’t until 4:30 remaining in the contest that we finally saw a glimpse of the wide receiver. Maclin is a very risky start until he shake off his lingering injuries and return to WR3 form. Until that day comes, keep him on your bench.


Teams on bye week five; Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay

About Eric Hartvigson