Week 3 gets underway tonight. We're two weeks away from opening night. Color me giddy. Let's get to today's important stuff.
Offensive line woes in NY
No, it's not the Jets who are hurting on the O-line, like they are everywhere else on offense. In the span of about 96 hours, the Giants have suddenly found themselves in a precarious position. On Wednesday, the team learned offensive guard David Diehlwill miss six weeks while he recovers from thumb surgery. This came after G David Baas awkwardly bent and sprained his knee on the first drive of the game in a loss to the Colts last Sunday night. Baas is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
The Giants are left scrambling to field a formidable line. First-round pick Justin Pugh has been named a starter, and guard Kevin Boothe has been shifted over to center. This is like watching an eastern version of the Broncos. Pugh was viewed as a versatile lineman who could play anywhere they may have needed help -- reminds me a lot of Vernon Carey in Miami -- but the question on Pugh is whether he's ready to step in and become an effective blocker immediately. It may work out in the end, although most offensive linemen need to go through a period of adjustment to the NFL game.
Manning isn't a statue, but no one has or will ever label him as an ultra-elusive quarterback. In the end, he may need to start getting rid of the ball more quickly, which could limit the time his receivers have to run deep routes downfield. In other words, if your league rewards lengthy scoring plays, Giants receivers may need to make them happen by getting lots of yards after the catch. Not an easy thing to do consistently, especially since every Giants WR seems to have injury issues as Week 1 approaches.
David Wilson and Andre Brown both ran the ball impressively, but I'd really like to see how they perform in their next preseason game behind the latest patchwork line the Giants will be forced to field. They're scheduled to play the Jets this Saturday night, and since Week 3 is typically the preseason game in which starters play the longest, this game will be worth tuning into.
Yesterday's big news in fantasyville was Steelers LB Le'Veon Bell getting diagnosed with a foot sprain. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin said it was only a foot sprain and not the dreaded Lisfranc injury. The Steelers are optimistic that surgery won't ultimately be necessary. however, no timetable for Bell's return was given. It still seems as ifthe earliest we'll see Bell on the field is sometime in October.
Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer take over the RB duties for the time being, although Redman has been dealing with a shoulder stinger in recent weeks. Dwyer becomes the team's feature back, and he posted lukewarm stats from a fantasy perspective in 2012 (623 yards, 2 TDs in 13 games). That rushing yardage looks a lot less impressive when you consider that he ran for 122 and 107 in two of the 13 games he played (translation: he was an awful fantasy option the rest of the year). Pittsburgh used their second-round pick on Bell because they didn't think Dwyer was the kind of guy who could carry the load for them. He strikes me as a guy who might get 60-80 yeards each week this year -- at best.
It's going to be a long year for Pittsburgh, and reliable fantasy options from that offense will be scarce. The Steelers first-team offense still has yet to score a touchdown this preseason, and if that continues against the Chiefs this weekend, it's time to locate the biggest panic button you can find.
» Interesting. Santonio Holmes has actually been medically cleared to play, but chooses not to practice. Even since his college days, I never remember hearing anything about Holmes having a reputation for being a lazy player. Yes, the Jets are desperate for any help they can get on offense. But imagine the reaction if Holmes was rushed back too soon and reinjured his foot while practicing or playing in preseason action.
» Browns LB Barkevious Mingo was becoming a nice sleeper option for IDP leagues, but he left last week's game against the Lions after reportedly coughing up blood on the sidelines. The Browns still don't know exactly when the hit occured which bruised Mingo's lungs, and his return date is now anyone's guess. Even if he misses a week or two of the regular season, he's still likely good to register a solid number of sacks and tackles after he does return. Also, kudos to Mingo for opting to take himself out of the game instead of playing the tough guy role, and double kudos to the Browns coaching staff for getting him to a hospital immediately instead of insisting he plays through it.