What we are talking about:
He is going to win your week.
Not improving at all.
If you know anything about me, one of my most basic tenets is to always play your studs. It's a must. There is nothing worse than overthinking a matchup and then watching your stud torch a perceived bad matchup. (Marshawn Lynch did this not too long ago.)
But there are times when good judgment should rule over everything. Kind of like when the Cincinnati Bengals decided not to use Katy Perry's hit single "Roar" before their win over the Green Bay Packers. And that's not a knock on Perry at all. She's lovely. I'm just saying that if the Bengals played "Roar" and the team won big, the superstitious sort would have continued to play it before each game. And then 40 years from now people would ask, "Where the hell did this song come from?"
Kind of like what Rosie McGee did the first time she heard the "San Diego Super Chargers" theme song. So the Bengals clearly dodged a bullet there. And there are times when you need to dodge a bullet in fantasy, too.
I've gone against my tenet with Roddy White and I've kept him on the bench the entire season. He's nothing more than a decoy. And until he actually does something in a game, he's not going to start for my team.
There are three guys who scare me this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, who has battled a hamstring injury for the last few weeks, has his ticket punched to Revis Island. I don't like this. Fitzgerald has scored fewer than seven fantasy points in back-to-back weeks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed the fourth-fewest points to receivers this year, and have allowed fewer than two touchdown receptions in three of the last four games. So it looks like Fitzgerald is going to be on my bench this week.
Arian Foster is another troubling guy. He hasn't scored a touchdown in four of his last six games. He's had fewer than 100 rushing yards in seven of his last eight games. And now he's got the Seattle Seahawks? If you're one of those guys who thinks, or rather hopes, Foster can snap out of it, don't look for it to be this week, either. I dodged a bullet when I passed on this guy in numerous fantasy drafts.
Same goes for Andre Johnson. The receiver hasn't scored a touchdown in five consecutive games, and eight of his last nine. Another guy I was able to avoid, but I hope he's on the field because he makes DeAndre Hopkins that much more dangerous when he does.
You probably can't afford to bench any of these guys, but you will probably feel better if you did. Just ask the Bengals about this.
Let's move on to "Best Use of a Soap Box", voted on by our esteemed homepage editor, Patrick Crawley.
Likes and dislikes are in bold, for those of you who don't want to take the 88 minutes required to read this column. (But it's Friday: What better way to cruise through it than by checking out my thoughts on fantasy football, comic books, wrestling, TV and music?) Facebook doesn't give you the option to dislike stuff, but I certainly do.
A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.
And without further ado ...
I'm starting to feel better about my Tony Romo pick in our experts' league on NFL.com. Especially this week. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback has a fantastic matchup against the San Diego Chargers this week. The Chargers have allowed the most points to fantasy quarterbacks this year.
There is always that feeling of dread that things can go into the dumper at any point with Romo, but I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic he can keep things going this week. In a move where I've clearly put the quarterback before the horse, I've noticed Romo's Week 15 and 16 matchups are against the Packers and Redskins.
Tom Brady has scored fewer than 16 fantasy points in each week this season, but he's going up against the Atlanta Falcons who are a pretty good matchup. The Falcons have allowed seven touchdown passes this season (tied for fourth-most) and at least two touchdown passes in each game.
And seriously, Gronk will score a touchdown in his first game back. They will force the ball to him and then he'll do one of those awkward celebrations, it will be cool.
The only thing is that the Patriots play late on Sunday night. So, you're going to need to have somebody ready to go if he's a last-minute inactive. (Like Charles Clay.) But mostly, it's going to be like Trent Richardson last week. You played him because you didn't want to miss out on his touchdown. Ditto for Gronk this week.
And you'd better believe I'm going with Trent Richardson this week. I mean, it's the Jags. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the eighth-most points to fantasy running backs. Kind of surprising, right? I figured it would be more.
Reggie Wayne is a good start, too, though he hasn't scored a touchdown against the Jags in the last six games.
Andrew Luck is difficult, though. The Jaguars allowed five touchdown passes last week, but Russell Wilson didn't have an epic fantasy stat line against them. Still, it's Luck and he's got the matchup. However, I'm done with his long-term fantasy value going forward. As we touched on last week, he's going to start to look a lot like Tom Brady in the early part of his career. Where he's a great quarterback, but not necessarily a fantasy superstar.
I think it's the right move for the Colts, too. Jim Irsay has alluded to it, the Colts want to be more like the Patriots. The Colts were high-flying during the Peyton Manning years, but it yielded just one Super Bowl. A balanced running attack makes the defense better. Look at how the defense was able to handle the 49ers after winning the time of possession battle. So the Colts might be a better team going forward, just not a good fantasy team. At least compared to the old days.
Peyton Manning has led the Broncos offense to 127 points in three games, which is tied for the second most points scored in a team's first three games since 1940. Those 127 points are seven more than the combined totals of the 49ers (44 points), Steelers (42) and Buccaneers (34). The NFL team with the most points over its first three games, the 1968 Cowboys (led by QB Don Meredith), went 12-2 and averaged 30.8 points per game for the entire season.
Let's go ahead and just give Manning the MVP award right now. I don't even know why they should bother to vote. However, it's all going to be rather hollow if the Broncos don't win the Super Bowl. Just saying.
ImageSpeaking of MVPs, I know the whole notion of the award is to give it to the best player on the best team. I mean, how valuable can you be if your team finishes fourth? However, if there was ever a case to be made for a player from a losing team to get an MVP award, it's Mike Trout, who is by far the best player in baseball right now.
ImageRobinson Cano wants a 10-year, $305 million deal from the Yankees. The Angels should cough up a 15-year, $1 billion deal for Trout. Josh Hamilton's number will be off the books in four years. Albert Pujols will retire at some point. Backend the deal for Trout, but get it down now.
ImageIt was tough to say goodbye to Angel Stadium this weekend. Hard to believe baseball has come to an end. Or at least the Angels' season has. It seemed like just yesterday optimism was at an all-time high in the parking lot and we thought we were in for a magical season. Oh well.
You start Wes Welker and Eric Decker (not to mention the rest of the Broncos starters). The Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to receivers this year and the most completions. Welker has four touchdowns this year. This is significant because he hasn't always been a big touchdown guy.
Philip Rivers has a good matchup this week, and he might be an option for you with Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton on byes. Rivers has the second-most touchdown passes this season. The matchup is a little tougher because the Cowboys defense is getting to the quarterback, even though they have allowed the fourth-most touchdown passes.
Jordan Cameron continues to be a great play. Jimmy Graham is the only tight end I would start over him. He's had 31 targets this season. I would, however, like to say one of Cameron's touchdowns against the Vikings should have counted as a Browns D/ST touchdown because it came on a fake field goal. That's a special teams play!
The coaches said Giovani Bernard is at the peak of his touches right now. Yeah, sure. Dude is so dynamic, there is no way they can pull him off the field if he's killing it. The running back's scored three touchdowns in his last two games combined. The Browns have allowed more than 100 rushing yards in three consecutive games against the Bengals.
You don't want to rush Le'Veon Bell into your lineup too fast. But, I've seen some of your running back situations via Twitter. The Vikings have allowed the fourth-most points to running backs this season and backs are killing them in the receiving game.
Antonio Brown finally rewarded our patience last week. Now he's got the Vikings, who have allowed a league-high nine touchdowns this season. Think about that, because the Ravens allowed seven touchdown passes in one game.
The good news for Adrian Peterson as he gets set to play the Steelers in London? Five of the six games played in London since 2007 have featured a 100-plus yard running back. Brandon Jacobs (131 yards), LaDainian Tomlinson (105), Frank Gore (118), Matt Forte (145) and Stevan Ridley (127) have all cracked the century mark at Wembley Stadium.
Peterson is going to get even better with fullback Jerome Felton back from a three-game suspension.
ImageSpeaking of getting better and better: Sons of Anarchy SPOILER. The third episode was absolutely brilliant and as hard as it is to believe, actually tops the first two episodes. I'm going with the theory Tig survives once again. Seems like he can't just die, right? Kim Coates talks about the episode here.
Ray Rice will be in your starting lineup if he's able to go against the Bills. Bernard Pierce is a mild flex play, too, even if Rice is a go. The Bills are a middle-of-the-road type of team against the run.
The Chiefs defense is still the darling pickup. Good news to those of us who have stuck with them. We won't bench them again! The Chiefs lead the NFL in sacks (15) and now have a good matchup against the Giants.
The Saints defense is much better than people have given them credit for. I understand they might not have played a lot of high-powered offenses, but we shouldn't ignore what they are doing.
Drew Brees has completed 71.1 percent of his passes with 24 TDs and just five interceptions, and has a passer rating of 120.6 in his last eight appearances on "Monday Night Football". In those eight games, the Saints are 8-0.
And stop being scared of Robert Griffin III. He's had at least 300 passing yards in his first three games this season, so he can wing it. His totals last week were down a bit, but that was because he fumbled. He's going to rebound against the Raiders who haven't notched an interception this year. You know, if somebody in one of your leagues is worried about it, go take RG3 off their hands.
Joique Bell has a tough matchup this week against the Bears, but he's earned flex-start status after he scored close to 20 points against the Redskins last week. But he was doing well even before the Redskins game. In fact, he leads all NFL running backs in receiving yards.
Reggie Bush looks like he is going to play, outside of any setback. He seems like a risk to me. Like, he is one of those guys who will suit up, play about three downs and then reinjure himself. Wait, why is he in the like column? Oh yeah, most of us are (expletive) in the running back department. You'd have to have a great roster to bench Bush.
Don't trip too hard on Darren McFadden. He didn't do very well against the Broncos, but he should find success against Washington, which has allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
With the bye weeks starting to set in, here's a chance for you to get ahead and look at some of the upcoming matchups. I'm going to recommend Philip Rivers vs. the Raiders in Week 5. Andy Dalton against the Bills in Week 6. And Jay Cutler in Week 7 against the Redskins.
Rumors of the Eagles' play total may have been exaggerated. Through three games, 14 teams have run more offensive plays than the Eagles (198). However, Philadelphia has gained the most yards per play (7.0) and rushed for the highest number of yards per game (209.0). LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing (395 yards), 98 yards more than his closest rival, Doug Martin of the Buccaneers.
Through three games, five NFL receivers have at least four receptions of 25 yards or longer. Four of the names on that list are not surprising - DeSean Jackson (six catches), Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson and Torrey Smith (all with four). The fifth name on that list? The Jets' Stephen Hill, whose four receptions over 25-yards include a 51-yard TD catch against the Bills last Sunday. Wait, that's not an endorsement for Hill.
Mike Williams has a receiving touchdown in two of his last three home games. In fact, he has 61 targets in his last eight home games and he's going against the Cardinals, who have allowed seven touchdown passes this season. That's Giants bad. I know his quarterback doesn't look like he shaves, but I'd give him a chance.
Kendall Wright is the Titans receiver to have for the future. Wright has scored at least seven fantasy points in back-to-back games, with 17 targets over that stretch. His matchup isn't great this week, but he's going to emerge as the man.
And Cutler seems to have turned a corner, too. As you might have heard, I selected the Bears in Fan Free Agency this year and it's been a lot of fun. My nephew is going into the U.S. Army and he's been thrilled. We texted up a storm last week during the Bears game. The best was his "Cutler just stuck that guy" after his big run. When the Bears make a huge run this year, remember that play.
Jay Cutler has to be in the MVP consideration right now, right? He's clearly playing like an MVP. And of course, this means Marc Trestman is the coach of the year, too. And yes, it's going to be annoying that I support an NFL team now.
ImageOne of my favorite discoveries of the week is that the Chicago Bears follow WWE's Summer Rae. I just find that simply delightful. And it really strengthens my resolve in my choice of the Bears in Fan Free Agency. BTW, watch NXT. Summer Rae will soon be the Divas champ.
ImageLoved the end of RAW on Monday night. The Shield are the best wrestlers on the show not named Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Not sure why they were put into a handicap match against 11 other guys, but who cares? Brandon Stroud always does a great job with the breakdown here on With Leather.
ImageI was kind of worried about Roman Reigns when he first showed up with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, but dude has done a great job with his in-ring skills. Of course, Reigns played football at Georgia Tech under his real name Leati Anoa'i. He and Demaryius Thomas crossed paths for one year. Thomas was a redshirt freshman during Reigns' senior season.
I had picked up Sam Bradford last week in our experts' league because his matchup was excellent. Plus, I wanted to light a fire under Romo to let him know that I wouldn't be afraid to go with another quarterback. I ultimately went with Romo and now I've let Bradford go because it's Bradford.
Our Chris Wesseling offered a pretty good criticism of Sam Bradford from last night's game. And let this be a memo to the St. Louis FC, you'd better have a new quarterback when you move to Los Angeles because Bradford isn't going to cut it out here. Oh, and do you still feel good about the quarterback you traded away to Washington? Just checking. Not that it's completely fair to Bradford, but he's always going to be tied to RG3.
ImageBut seriously, Brian Schottenheimer. We all love your father, but you're not him. How this kid keeps getting coordinator jobs is beyond me (not really). And I've always liked Jeff Fisher, but dude hasn't had a winning season since 2008. Again, consider making that move before you get out here guys. We've already suffered enough with Mike D'Antoni, so we don't need any other bad coaches.
Jake Locker had a nice game against San Diego in Week 3, but let's see him get some consistency before we get too batty over him. You see the highlight reel and it looks awesome, but he missed a lot of wide-open guys.
The Jets are a pretty tough fantasy matchup, too, for Locker. The Jets had eight sacks in Week 3, their highest total since 1988. That's right, 1988. The Jets have allowed fewer than 250 pass yards in eight consecutive games. Rex Ryan has the Jets defense playing pretty well. I'm not convinced the Jets can factor into the AFC East for the long haul, but they are playing well right now.
The top three teams in the AFC East are currently 8-1. Nobody saw that coming.
Speaking of people who miss wide open guys, Michael Vick everybody! Oh man, I can only imagine how great the Eagles offense would be if Vick could put it on the money consistently. Which he hasn't been able to do.
Vick has seven touchdowns and four turnovers this season and now he faces the Denver Broncos who have an NFL-high six interceptions this season. The Broncos have allowed fewer than 250 passing yards in five of the last six games against the NFC.
Blaine Gabbert has been an obvious target of criticism over his first 25 starts, winning only five of those games. Of his five victories as an NFL starter, three have been against Indianapolis. Who knew there was one team Gabbert has "owned?"
For those of you who couldn't find Michael Anthony Hall believable as a hot-shot quarterback in the movie "Johnny Be Good" I present to you Mike Glennon. He looks like he should be headed to his high school homecoming dance, not starting a game in the NFL. I know I'm on the wrong side of 30 now, but that dude looks young.
For those on Mike Glennon alert in Tampa, listen up: Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman has the NFL's lowest completion percentage and lowest passer rating through three weeks. In addition, he ranks in the bottom five of NFL starting QBs in passing yards per game and touchdowns. Since 2011, Freeman has the most interceptions of any QB in the NFL (42).
And you have to remember Freeman had just six interceptions in 2010. So that number becomes even more staggering as we look back at his time in Tampa Bay.
Freeman told reporters that he would like to be traded to an NFL team that would like to start him. He realizes that other teams can see film on him, right?
With three touchdowns and three picks to go along with 321 passing yards in Week 3, Brian Hoyer finds himself in some interesting Cleveland Browns company. Hoyer had the third most passing yards for a quarterback making his Browns debut since 1950, behind Otto Graham in 1950 (346 yards) and Kelly Holcomb in 2002 (326 yards). Hoyer became the first Browns QB with more than 300 yards and three touchdowns since Derek Anderson, who threw for 328 yards and five TDs against the Bengals in 2007.
BTW, did you know Anderson is still in the league? He is the third quarterback in Carolina behind Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen. Anderson must have the best gig in the league. He gets to live in Charlotte, makes at least the NFL minimum, he was once a Pro Bowl quarterback and he's in no danger of ever being hit on a football field again. Who wouldn't want that life?
To me, backup quarterback is up there with professional golfer as the coolest sports gigs, ever. I would give the slight lean to golfer, if for nothing else but the clothes.
I would start Andrew Luck in your leagues this week against Jacksonville. But as we mentioned over on the other side, try to make some trades with him if he's on your roster. Take a look at a QB-hungry team to see if you can swing a deal. I've been doing it in my keeper league.
Alex Smith is the first Chiefs QB to win his first three starts with the team since Joe Montana, who won his first four games in 1993. Montana's Chiefs lost in 1993 AFC Championship Game at BUF (30-13). That's good news!
I like Smith as a sleeper this week, but it seems like every time we look at Smith to exploit a matchup, he fails to do it. So, if you're really jammed for a quarterback, you can start him. But you are going to pass on him in most instances.
Ryan Tannehill is owned is less than five percent of NFL.com leagues. And he's starting to show a little bit of consistency, but he's merely a matchup-based guy at this point.
Does the NFL world seem a little saner now that Eli Manning is now the worst starting quarterback in the NFL? And by worst, I just mean statistically the worst.
Eli Manning had 119 passing yards with an interception against the Panthers. He did have 14 rushing yards so he ended with 4.16 fantasy points. Eli leads the league with eight interceptions and he's been sacked 11 times this season. He's scored fewer than 11 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks.
It gets worse for Eli this week. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 15 sacks this season. They've allowed just two touchdown passes the entire season and have nine takeaways. The Chiefs have allowed 34 total points this season, good for second-fewest in the NFL.
Nicks said there is no heat between him and Eli Manning. I believe it. And when you look at Eli's history, this will likely be the week he goes nuts. Just when you think he's done as a fantasy guy, he will come through. But he'll do it from my bench because I just can't trust the guy.
David Wilson is still getting the carries, but you can't trust him in your lineup. He had a touchdown called back in that loss to the Panthers and it would have meant so much to him if he could have had that touchdown. Instead, he had his third consecutive game with less than four fantasy points. How do you feel about taking him in the second round? Sorry, that was a cheap shot.
The 0-3 Giants are last in the NFL, averaging 44.3 rushing YPG. Five players have had more rushing yards in a single game this season than the Giants have totaled (133 yards) over three games. McCoy, with individual games of 184 yards and 158 yards, has exceeded the Giants total twice. Two quarterbacks - Terrelle Pryor (198) and Michael Vick (187) - have more rushing yards than the Giants in 2013.
The once-proud Giants defense is allowing 38.3 PPG, which is worst in the NFL. Big Blue is the sixth team in NFL history to allow at least 36 points in their first three games of the season. The last team to start in similar fashion, the 2008 St. Louis FC, finished 2-14.
How does a team get to be 0-3? The Giants are tied for last in turnover differential at -9 with PIT (also 0-3). How does a team get to be 3-0? The Chiefs turnover differential of +9 is best in the NFL.
The NFC East is one of the strangest divisions around. What's funny is the Dallas Cowboys will find a way to blow this. There is no way they can cruise to an easy NFC East title.
Willis McGahee made his Browns debut and rushed for nine yards. What did you expect? He watched the first few weeks of the NFL season from home. He's not going to come and immediately make an impact. At least not a positive one. Keep him on your roster, though.
Adrian Peterson shared a story about how his daughter clowned him for losing to the Browns. It's funny, and kids say the darndest things. But AD's daughter realizes he plays for the Minnesota Vikings, right? It's not like he plays for one of the most revered franchises in the NFL.
LeGarrette Blount led the team in rushing yards and attempts against the Buccaneers in Week 3. Love how Bill Belichick does that to players' former teams. But he's not the guy I would want long-term. Brandon Bolden makes much more sense because he fits into the passing game so much better. Bolden can put up those Danny Woodhead-type games.
Stevan Ridley has been terrible, too. He would be buried on the bench if Shane Vereen was around. Ridley has scored less than five fantasy points in each game this season. He's had fewer than 100 rushing yards in 11 consecutive games. It's crazy, he's one of those "dodged a bullet" guys we talked about above.
Brian Hartline seems like such a fantasy tease. But before you want to put him in your lineup, realize his targets, receptions and yards have decreased in each week this season. He's had one total touchdown in his last eight road games. Plus the Saints are a tough matchup.
The Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest yards in the NFL this season, and have kept their three opponents under 18 points in each game. The Saints were my preseason pick for the Super Bowl and I'm feeling pretty confident about it. I'm not as crazy about my pick of the New England Patriots. But for the Patriots to play as poorly as they have so far and still be in the mix, well, I'm cool with that.
C.J. Spiller will be ready to go in Week 4, but I don't care for his matchup. He hasn't scored in five consecutive games. The Ravens have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year, and not a single rushing touchdown. This is the one bullet you wish you dodged, right?
The problem is, you really can't afford to sit him. I've seen a lot of your running back dilemmas on Twitter. Not many of us are working from a position of strength to put him on the bench.
I will give you an example in my NFL AM league: I have Spiller along with Forte and McFadden. My other options are Bernard Pierce, Ben Tate and Brandon Bolden. I can't really play those guys because of the matchup. Although if Ray Rice is out, I might sneak in Pierce. So maybe I could afford to sit this guy. All right, I've just about talked myself into it. I would flex Danny Amendola in there if he was healthy enough. Fine, you can bench him.
If you freaked out because you saw all of those names over on this side, please don't. I was just using my NFL AM team as an example. The fun part of that league is that I can kind of play around with it and experiment with things. Don't tell anybody in the league, but it's like the fantasy football equivalent of an open mic.
I'm telling you, we knew Eddie Royal was going to come back to Earth. Just two targets against the Titans? This is why you don't chase points. And this is why I wouldn't flex Josh Gordon into the lineup in that NFL AM league. I have him on the bench there.
I once had season tickets for the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers. Obviously, I don't get out to games much these days. But, come on San Diego fans please fill up the stands against the Cowboys. There is nothing worse than the Cowboys fans taking over a stadium. I know it still happens in places like New York, too. But let's stand up to this.
The Chargers have had two brutal losses this year, too. Man, this team should be 3-0. There have been 18 fourth-quarter comebacks this season, the second-most through Week 3 of any season in NFL history. In Week 3, four teams rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to win. There have been eight games this season in which a team trailing has scored the winning points in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the most through the first three weeks of a season since at least the 1970 merger.
Stevie Johnson leads the Bills in most receiving categories, and he's been great. You would even think the matchup with the Ravens is rather enticing. But the Ravens defense hasn't allowed a receiving touchdown in back-to-back weeks after they allowed seven in Week 1. It's not a great matchup.
Tony Gonzalez looks like a guy who was retired and has just returned to the NFL. He has just one touchdown in his last five games. And with the Falcons being so beat up at receiver, he still hasn't been a leader on this team. Maybe he should have gone to training camp. It's tough to count on these guys who retired and then returned.
Same deal with Carson Palmer, too. I mean, this dude was slamming beers at a USC tailgate party and then he returned to the NFL. I don't like him this week, either.
Ryan Broyles will be able to kick off the training wheels this week against the Bears. But don't be in such a hurry to get him into your lineups. I'm excited about him. So while he's on my roster, he's not in my starting lineup unless it's a PPR league.
I had a DirecTV appointment last week and the technician said my appointment time was between noon and Miles Austin's next hamstring injury. The weird thing was, it made total sense.
The "What the What?" story of the week comes from the fine folks at EA Sports, who will not publish a college football game for at least one year while it settles a case with the NCAA. This is not good news. I love Madden to play kids one-on-one. But the franchise mode in the NCAA can't be topped. It's too much fun. There's nothing better than working your way from Logan, Utah, to Las Cruces, N.M., to turning UNLV into a mega college football power. Hey, it can happen. I hope they get this stuff worked out because the NCAA title continued to improve each and every season.
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 100,000 followers, and Fabiano has 100,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."