I didn’t realize what Brian Hartline’s stat line looked like until he caught an 80-yard touchdown from Ryan Tannehill in the 4th quarter. And even after the touchdown occurred, I still didn’t believe it.
How could Brian Hartline catch 12 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown against one of 2012’s best defenses? Better yet, how could Ryan Tannehill, a quarterback very few thought would be NFL-ready his rookie season, throw for 431 yards against that same defense?
And man, what about Davone Bess? The guy caught a modest 7 balls for 123 yards in the same game. Guess who’s talking about that? Nobody. He’s been completely overshadowed by Tannehill’s favorite target (no, not Legedu Naanee), Brian Hartline.
Other than the wild game in Arizona, what else did I learn on Sunday?
Chris Johnson is still bad at football.
One big thing that Chris Johnson hadn’t had over the first three games of the season was touches. He received 11 carries in Week 1, 8 in Week 2, and 14 in Week 3. During those games, he never rushed for more than 24 yards.
Against the Texans yesterday, Johnson received 25. That’s 11 more than he’s gotten in a game all season. The result? 141 yards on the ground for a 5.6 yards per carry average.
Is that all he needed? Touches?
No. What he needed was a soft defense playing a prevent defense. Take a look at the breakdown of Chris Johnson’s 25 runs yesterday:
Line designates start of second half.
If you’d like to make the argument that this is Johnson’s best game this season to date, I wouldn’t fight back. But if you’re trying to make the argument that Chris Johnson is “back”, you may want to think again.
First, we have a small sample size. It’s one game. Should we be judging a performance from here on out based on that, when we’ve seen nothing but gloom thus far in the season?
Second, there’s the idea that the Texans played a conservative, pass-stopping defense after going up early. While a 14-0 lead in the first half is nothing huge, it still will alter the way you play defense.
And lastly, are we to assume that bulk equates to yardage in Chris Johnson’s case? He gained 44 yards on his final 6 attempts, but the Titans were also down by 31 points at this point in the game. Given that Johnson has been so miserable in games where he received 8-14 carries, does 6 or 7 more (to get him to the 20 mark) really make a difference?
My thoughts on Chris Johnson are to wait. Hold your horses. Could he be back? Sure, but Brian Hartline could also be the league’s best receiver from here on out.
The Bengals defense may no longer be “matchup heaven”.
Yeah, it’s the Jags. But the Bengals have Carlos Dunlap back, and it’s clear they’ve got a different kind of pass rush and overall defense with him in the lineup. They held Maurice Jones-Drew to just 38 yards on the ground this week, and now have a mediocre Dolphins team next week. I wouldn’t fault you for starting them as your defense in Week 5, just watch for the second half of the season when their schedule gets brutal.
Where did Josh Freeman’s first half go?
I watched some of this game, and man, Josh Freeman looked dreadful in the first half against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Fantasy owners did luck out that he turned things around in the second half, throwing for 299 yards in the game, but his inconsistent play is worrisome. I don’t think he’s a worthwhile start each week.
Jamaal Charles bounces back again.
He had fumblitis in the first half, but bounced back to have another great game. Charles is becoming the elite fantasy player he was previous to his ACL tear, and if there are still skeptical owners out there, try to snatch him up.
The Jets’ offense is about as good as my flag football teams’ offense.
I think it’s pretty clear that the Week 1 matchup against the Bills was just a favorable one for the Jets offense. With Santonio Holmes now out with a foot injury, the offense is going to look even worse. Not that Mark Sanchez was ever a viable fantasy play in standard leagues, but now, I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole. Before it was like, a 7-foot one.
The Lions’ offense is baffling.
If anyone watched the Lions game, you’d notice that Matt Stafford was under pressure nearly the entire game. And doesn’t it seem like that offense can only get things going when their backs are against the wall? Talk about frustrating.
Mikel Leshoure looked pretty mediocre against a newly impressive Vikings defense. That’s slightly worrisome, considering Leshoure’s “breakout game” came against one of the league’s worst rush defense.
As for Stafford – he should continue to get garbage work. It seems like he puts up 8 or 9 points up until the 4th quarter, and magically ends up with 18 or 19 by the end of the game. But that’s not something you’d like to gamble on each week. If I’m a Stafford owner (which I am in my big keeper league – he was my late-round quarterback last year), I’m looking to trade him. His stats look better than they were because of his lone rushing touchdown.
Matt Ryan continues to dominate.
What else can you say other than “Neat”? Matt Ryan has solidified himself as an elite starter in fantasy this season, and much of it has to do with his unbelievable weapons on offense. The only bad part about this team is that it will be difficult to spread the wealth between Julio Jones and Roddy White. There was concern from the Julio Jones camp post-game that he had a nagging injury throughout the game, but considering many took Jones in the second round of their fantasy drafts, he has to step up.
Peyton Manning looks like his old self.
If your quarterback is playing Oakland, feel blessed. If there’s a waiver wire quarterback playing Oakland, pick him up. That secondary is awful, surrendering back-to-back monster games to Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning.
How in God’s name did the Steelers lose to that dreadful team?
Shouldn’t Andre Brown be getting more carries?
We tend to overreact, as humans, by the recency effect. We saw Andre Brown run all over a porous Panthers’ defense, and assumed he’d take over as the lead back (or at least take some of the load off of Ahmad Bradshaw) in New York.
After seeing how the role was divvied up against the Cowboys, Andre Brown looks like he’ll be nothing more than a flex play during weeks with favorable matchups. If I own him, I’d try to sell him to my league’s Ahmad Bradshaw owner.
Oh hey there, elite quarterbacks!
I wrote last week on how the elite quarterbacks haven’t performed, and guess what? They pulled a Chris Johnson.
But really, it was to be expected. It has little to nothing to do with the replacement refs, as some on Twitter have pointed out to me, but it has everything to do with matchups.
Aaron Rodgers faced the Saints secondary who has given up the 9th most points to fantasy quarterbacks. And, moreover, he just came off facing the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks defenses. Of course Rodgers would produce.
And Brees was in the same boat. The Packers secondary is nothing to get excited about, even if they’ve been stingy against fantasy quarterback competition. Can’t we credit that to Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and Russell Wilson, too?
Brady faced the Bills, who make little sense on defense and seem to collapse under any sort of pressure. And Stafford honestly played pretty poorly against the Vikings.
The one surprise was with Cam Newton, who seemed to find himself again as a passer against a pretty good Falcons defense. If you’re a Cam owner, feel good that you didn’t jump the gun and trade him while he was low.
Even with these performances, we have to remember: the value of these quarterbacks still are not even close to where they were last year. Not only are other quarterbacks playing at a higher level from a fantasy perspective (e.g. Flacco, Fitzpatrick, Dalton, Roethlisberger), but top-tier, first-round running backs and receivers are performing well, too. Remember, the idea of drafting a quarterback early is not based solely on point production. It’s based on the notion that your opportunity cost is higher when you decide to draft one instead of waiting.
This year, like almost any other, shows us that it’s not worth drafting one early. Even if Rodgers, Brady and Brees continue to play at a high level, their counterparts are playing at a high level as well. To put this in simple terms, they’re just not that much better than their peers. Their value is small.
You should’ve listened.