On January 6, 2013, RGIII hoped to lead his resurgent Washington Redskins over Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks in a clash between two rookie quarterbacks who had taken the NFL by storm. The Redskins finished the season by winning every game after their bye week for a total of seven straight wins. This wild card game was also in front of the 80,000 plus fans in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Washington or I should say RGIII turned the season around after a start that saw them three games under.500 9 games into the season.
Entering the fourth quarter of this Wild Card game, the score was 14 – 13 Redskins. Up to this point, both of Washington’s scores came off of two TDs thrown by RG3 and Seattle had scored off one TD through the air from Wilson and two field goals from Steven Hauschka. The score stood still for the first five minutes of the 4th until a thrilling 27 yard run from Marshawn Lynch had given Seattle the lead. What made it thrilling was not only Beast Mode acting like Beast Mode, but fans witnessing a block from Russell Wilson that helped Lynch tumble into the endzone. And then two minutes later, Hauschka chipped in another field goal for 22 yards, which iced the game. Redskins fans still believed in RG3 because of his late game heroics throughout the season. However, those hopes were soon dashed a minute later when Griffin’s knee buckled after a bad snap on a late drive in their own territory. At that moment, not only did RG3’s season end, but Washington’s did too. Griffin had an entire offseason to recover from his torn ACL and LCL though and Washington would recover from the reeling loss as well, right?
Wrong. We have one week left in the 2013 NFL season and the Redskins sit dead last in the NFC East, a division they won a season ago. Even more remarkable is the fact that they have the worst record in the NFC. Their nine games under .500 serves as an indication of a team that has witnessed much controversy surrounding their star quarterback, head coach, and owner. Their losses have not even been close with five of them coming with deficits greater than 15. This might be signaling a restoration back to the times when Washington was the perpetual cellar of the NFC. The Redskins have won one playoff game since the turn of the 21st century. Meanwhile, all three of their NFC East foes have been fixtures in the playoffs in the past decade. Washington fans who were ecstatic for RG3 and the future of their team last season are now worried about the franchise and hoping for a high pick in this upcoming draft.
More recently, coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench RG3 for the remainder of the season, a move that seems to be very divided within the sports community. Shanahan claimed that Griffin shouldn’t risk his health for the last three games of the season in a dismal season that has seen the Redskins win a total of three times. In the two weeks that RG3 has been benched, backup QB Kirk Cousins has led the ‘skins to zero wins. Yet, it’s not entirely his fault. There exist a multitude of problems on defense and with the receiving corps, but more importantly, issues with confidence and demeanor. The mental aspect of “winning” has not been at the forefront of the franchise, something that persisted throughout the last three months of last season. Redskins’ fans are hoping that last season wasn’t an anomaly and the team can return to that winning mentality soon. This fan base has not seen a Super Bowl since 1991 and a Divisional Round appearance since 2005.
After last season, Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles fans were scared about the thought of their teams facing Griffin twice a year for at least the next decade. As a Giants fan, it is one less problem to worry about each season. But, the question remains: what happened to the RGIII that was supposed to lead the Redskins back to postseason relevance? His injuries have not deterred his abilities to the point where he is best suited as a backup. Rather, he has the same problem that the rest of the Redskins’ organization has. His mental confidence after the injury is virtually nonexistent. He is less likely to put his body on the line because of the fear that the injury has instilled within him. Throughout his rookie campaign, we saw him sacrifice his body in any way to gain extra yards. That same “fight” has not been evident this year. Instead of running head first, he’s deciding to step out of bounds to avoid the vicious hits. If I were in his position I’d probably do the same to lengthen my career and stay healthy. Unfortunately, compromise is necessary to win in the NFL. Griffin needs to find that confidence again and find a healthy balance between the motives of his team and himself individually in order to be more successful in this league.
The quarterback position had a solid week three because there were nine players who scored over 20 points. Many quarterbacks were able to succeed this week because of the quarterback’s dual threat ability. This week, quarterbacks may not experience similar success because many of the top quarterbacks are facing difficult defenses.
Peyton Manning will be the best quarterback this week. Last week, I thought Manning would be the top quarterback. Although he did not meet my expectations, he finished fourth with 24 points. However, Manning would have recorded the most points if he did not stop throwing in the second half. This week, Manning will probably have to pass for the whole game. The Broncos are playing the Eagles this week at home. The Eagles possess one of the worst defenses in the league. Opposing quarterbacks, Griffin, Rivers, and Smith, have averaged 18 points against the Eagles this season. However, Manning is a significantly better quarterback than the other players. Manning has been extremely consistent this season. With the help of the best receiving core in the league, Manning has been the best player in the league. Manning does not need to take risks because his receivers are great at finding holes in the defense and exposing the flaws in the opposing team’s defense. Manning has thrown 12 touchdowns, while only throwing 1 interception, and over 300 yards each season. Manning should have a great week and produce for every fantasy owner.
Quarterback with a Risk:
Matthew Stafford will not fulfill the expectations that ESPN laid out for him this week. Stafford is suppose to record 19 points against the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN. However, I do not see Stafford recording more than 15 points. Stafford has been the sixth best fantasy quarterback this season, but he has played mediocre competition, Min, Ari, and Was. Although the Bears do not resemble the 85 Bears, they are a team that knows how to take the ball away from the offense. Stafford has been known as a risk taker and a quarterback who throws interceptions. The Bears secondary should be ready intercept a few passes. The Bears have allowed an average of 14 points per game to quarterbacks this season. Stafford will be out without top running back Reggie Bush for the game this week. When Stafford has been without a running back, he has not been as successful a quarterback. Matt will have his struggles this game so owners should be wary starting him this week.
Tony Romo should have his second straight 20 point game when he plays the San Diego Chargers this week. Last week, Romo threw for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns, while accumulating 20 fantasy points. Romo will have another successful game this week because the Chargers are a horrible defense. The Chargers have been the worst team against quarterback this season. This season, the Chargers have yet to hold a quarterback under 23 fantasy points. The Chargers have not even played great quarterbacks during their first few weeks, Schaub, Vick, and Locker. The receiving core for the Cowboys is starting to become a serious threat, which will help Romo. Although Bryant has not been great this season, he is a dynamic wide receiver that can score on any possession. Witten is a steady pass catcher, especially on third down. Romo should be able to feast against the Chargers and score about 24 points this week. Unless a owner has a top 3 quarterback, I would start Romo, even over quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Vick, and Griffin.
Other underrated QBs: Luck, Rivers, Manuel, and Griffin (Pryor if healthy)
The running backs did not have a great week, as only 3 of them recorded 20 fantasy points. However, there looks a number of running backs this week will eclipse the 20 point barrier. Owners should start the running back in the flex this week because of the multitude of good options.
Top Running Back:
Adrian Peterson has yet to breakout and have a signature game this season. Week one, Peterson did run for 2 touchdowns and caught 1 TD, but he only ran for 93 yards, one attempt was for 70+ yards. Peterson should be given a lot of touches this week as the Vikes travel across the pond to play the Steelers in London. Although Peterson is the third ranked running back, the last two weeks he has combined to 22 fantasy points while fumbling twice and recording only 1 touchdown. The Vikings will be forced to start Matt Cassel at quarterback because of the injury to starter Christian Ponder. Cassel is a bad quarterback so Leslie Frazier will probably call Peterson number at least 25 times this game. The Steelers have been horrible this season at stopping the run. The Steelers are the 4th worst fantasy defense against the rush this season. Every running back has recorded at least 95+ yards and 1 touchdown against the Steelers. Peterson should be looking to capitalize on the amount of touches he receives and the lack of physicality from the Steelers. Peterson ail record over 25 fantasy points this week.
Overrated Running Back:
Chris Johnson should be avoided by fantasy owners this week as the Titans play the Jets at home. Johnson has not been very good this season. Chris has yet to record more than 10 points, rush for 100 yards, or score a touchdown during his first three games. Johnson does not seem to have the burst that made him one of the premier running backs a few years ago. In fantasy football, it is extremely difficult to have big fantasy days without scoring touchdowns. The Titans running backs have only reached the back of the end zone one time during the first few weeks. Although Johnson receives a lot of carries, he has is not given the ball near the end zone and has done very little with his carries. Last week, Jake Locker had one of his best games of his career. The Titans should be looking to give him more passing attempts, which will take chances away from Johnson. Chris will also be playing the Jets. The Jets have been one of the best fantasy defenses against the run, 8.3 points per game. I do not expect Johnson to record double digits so owners should keep him on the bench.
Running Back that should be started:
Darren McFadden should be started by every fantasy owner this week against the Washington Redskins. After a bizarre week where McFadden had more fantasy points than rushing yards, Darren should have a solid game for the Raiders. The Raiders will be forced to rely upon McFadden, especially if Pryor cannot play this week. McFadden will be given more carries, even if Pryor plays, because the Oakland coaching staff will not want Pryor running, while injured. Although McFadden has only recorded more than 50 yards once this season, he has recorded two touchdowns and at least 10 fantasy points every week. However, McFadden should have his best game of the season against the Redskins this week. The Skins have let running backs score at least 18 points during every game this season, 3rd to worst in the league. McFadden is expected to score 18 points according to ESPN. However, I believe he may be able to reach 20 points if the Raiders give him the ball inside the red zone this week.
Other underrated RBs: MJD, Powell, Forte, and Richardson
Week 3 was a strange week for receivers as none of the top six receivers from last week were started in more than 65% of leagues. This looks like a good week for wide receivers as many of the top guys are playing easy competition.
Top Wide Receiver:
Dez Bryant should be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for week 4. The stud wide receiver is facing the San Diego Chargers on the road. For the first time all season, Bryant’s status is not being questioned because of his nagging foot injury. When healthy Bryant is one of the most dynamic receivers in the game because of his physical attributes and skill. Although Bryant has not had huge receiving games in terms of yardage, Dez has scored a touchdown in each of the last two weeks. San Diego has been torched by stud wide receivers during the first three weeks of the schedule. In week 1, Andre Johnson tallied 146 yards in receiving and 14 fantasy points. In week 2, DeSean Jackson had 193 yards and a touchdown while recording 25 fantasy points. Dez should be the next wide out to benefit owners as the Chargers do not have a corner that can stop his physicality and skill.
Wide Receiver unlikely to meet expectations:
Larry Fitzgerald should not be started by fantasy owners unless they are absolutely desperate at wide receiver this week. Fitz has been bothered by a nagging hamstring over the last two games. After a great week 1, Fitz has totaled only nine points over the last two weeks. This week, it does not become easier for him as he must line up against Darrelle Revis, the top corner in the league. Revis Island looks great this season as the team’s top wide receivers rarely catches the ball. Although ESPN expects Larry to record 12 points, I believe he will only score 5 or less. Revis will be blanketing Larry and Carson Palmer does not have the skill to fit the ball into tight windows. Besides Revis, the Bucs have a lot of good players in their secondary, like Mark Barron and Deshon Goldson. With all of the obstacles in Larry’s way, hamstring, Revis, and bad QB, Larry should ride the bench for another week.
Wide Receiver destined to surprise owners:
Torrey Smith has a good chance of having a big game for the Ravens this week against the Buffalo Bills. Smith has been an extremely consistent receiver, but as not recorded a touchdown this season. Smith has tallied 9,8, and 9 points during the first three weeks of the season. This week, Smith is due for a touchdown. The Bills have been torched by wide receivers all season. The Bills have allowed more than 30 points to receivers twice in the last three weeks. Last week, the Jets had two receivers that had more than 15 fantasy points, which is a lot for a poor passing team. Flacco will be pressured to throw the ball since Ray Rice is recovering from an injury. Luckily, Smith is one of the few receivers that has big play ability on the Ravens. The Bills have lost a number of players in their secondary so Smith should be able to record a few big plays. Smith should record at least 15 points this week so fantasy owners should put him in their starting roster.
Other wide receivers: Garcon, Moore, Decker, and Bowe
The tight ends had a disappointing week as only 5 of them recorded more than 10 points. However, two tight ends, Cameron and Graham, recorded more than 20 points in their respective games.
Jimmy Graham will look to continue his success as the Saints take on the Miami Dolphins this week on Monday Night Football. Graham has been, by far, the best fantasy tight end, 59 points, through the first three games of the season. Graham has been incredibly consistent this year. Through the first three games, Graham has scored 4 touchdowns and managed at least 23 fantasy points the last two weeks. Last week, he fulfilled my expectations and scored the most fantasy points among tight ends, as I expected. Graham has another favorable matchup this week against the Dolphins. The Dolphins have allowed a touchdown to a tight end during each of their first three games. The Dolphins are ranked 29th against fantasy tight ends. The streak should continue since Brees and Graham have a connection that cannot be stopped. Fantasy owners should rely on Graham to put up at least 17 points this week.
Owen Daniels should be benched this week by fantasy owners. Daniels and the Texans are facing the Seattle Seahawks at home. The Seahawks defense is absolutely nasty, but particularly great against opposing tight ends. Tight ends average less than 3 points per game against the Seahawks and they have yet to score a touchdown. If Daniels was a great tight end, I may take a chance on him and start him this week. However, Daniels’ production has steadily decreased during every week of the season. After a great week one, Daniels has yet to tally more than 30 yards receiving in a game. Daniels’ touches will be diminished because of the emergence of DeAndre Hopkins and the return of Andre Johnson. The talented wide receivers are going to take receptions from Daniels, which hurts his fantasy value.
Heath Miller is one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL. Miller is Roethlisberger’s favorite target because he catches everything that is thrown his way and records first downs. After missing the first two games, Miller returned last week, but was ineffective. However, Miller should be huge for the Steelers against the Vikings in London. The Vikes have been the 31st best defense at stopping opposing fantasy tight ends. Fantasy tight ends have averaged about 17 points per game against the Vikings this season. Miller should be no exception. Miller’s reliabilty and ability to find openings near the red zone should result in a touchdown and double digit fantasy points.
Other TE options: Gates, Witten, Chandler, and Fleener
After a solid week from the quarterback position that saw 8 QBs eclipse 20 points, 2 QBs passing the 30 point mark, the quarterbacks, this week, should provide more points for their owners. Some of the top quarterbacks have weak opponents, which should allow them to accumulate a lot of touchdowns and points.
Peyton Manning should be the top scoring quarterback this week in fantasy football. Manning has been the best quarterback this season and faces a dreadful Oakland Raider defense at home. The Raiders secondary will be forced to guard the most talented trio of receivers in the league plus a solid tight end in Denver. The defenders will not be used to the altitude, which should give the receivers an advantage, especially late in the game. Manning is projected to score 23 points by ESPN, but I believe that he will score more than 25 points, as long as he plays the entire game. The last two weeks Manning has picked apart the past two champions, making them look horrible. Manning should be able to pass for over 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. Peyton scored 20 points last week while only scoring two touchdowns. This week, Moreno will not have another great game so Manning will be forced to carry the load and pass for a few touchdowns. If somehow you have another top quarterback, I would sit him because Manning will be the top scoring quarterback this week.
Top quarterback unlikely to meet expectations:
Tom Brady should experience another nightmare of a week. Brady and the Pats stay at home this week and play the Tampa Bay Bucs. Brady has been uncharacteristically bad this season, 23rd among quarterbacks in fantasy points. Brady does not have any weapons on the outside, which significantly detracts from his fantasy value. While the receivers continue dropping passes, Brady should be on the bench. The Patriots look like they will be without Gronk for the third straight week, which destroys Brady’s fantasy value. Although Brady is expected to account for 17 points, I believe that he will be closer to 10 points than 20 points this week. The Bucs have a solid defense, ranked 9th against quarterbacks and allowed Brees to only score 12 points last week. I would suggest picking up a quarterback, like the one I will mention later, to start for Brady, until Gronk returns from his injury. Although it is strange sitting one of the greatest QBs of all time, I am afraid that it is a must this week against the stout Bucs secondary.
Quarterback that will surprise owners:
For the second straight week, I will pick Sam Bradford to be my overachiever. The Rams finally gave the former first overall pick some weapons and it looks like he is improving rapidly. Bradford has passed for at least 299 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks. Bradford has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks this season, fifth most points among quarterbacks. Bradford is available in about 8% of league, but he should be apart of every fantasy roster this week. Although Bradford does not have the pedigree like Tom Brady, I would start him over Brady because he has more options and a more favorable match up this week. Bradford will face another favorable matchup this week when he heads into Dallas to play the Dallas Cowboys. The Boys are ranked 28th against quarterbacks this season. As a fantasy owner myself, I know that you must ride the hot hand and Bradford has been one of the best quarterbacks during the opening quarter of the season.
Sleepers this week: Schaub, Stafford, Romo, and Flacco
After a shocking week that saw three of the top four running back performances coming from sleepers, fantasy owners should be searching to find the next great performance. The running back position has fluctuated this season because of injury and poor performance.
Top Running Back:
Marshawn Lynch should attempt to reproduced the greatness that he accomplished last week. After a 30 point, 3 touchdown performance, Lynch will have the opportunity to replicate his performance. Lynch and the Seahawks remain at home to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are one of the worst teams and defenses in football, which plays into the benefit of fantasy owners. The Seahawks should be up early and attempt to run the ball in order to slow down the game. Lynch is expected to score only 16 points according to ESPN, but I believe that he will score closer to 20 or 25 points. Lynch should be able to reach the end zone at least twice while rumbling for around 100 yards. Lynch should be the top scoring running back again this week as long as he is not injured or taken out of the game prematurely.
Top running back unlikely to meet expectations:
CJ Spiller is rated as third best running back for week 3. However, I vehemently disagree with ESPN’s assertion. Although Spiller is a great back in the NFL, he is not a great fantasy back. Since he splits carries with Fred Jackson, his production takes a major hit. Spiller averaged 16 carries per game for the first two weeks while other top runners usually average between 20-25 carries per game. Although that may not seem like a big difference between 22 and 16, the running back with 6 more touches usually gains 25 more yards and has a higher chance of reaching the end zone. During the first two games, Spiller only has 14 points and has not reached the end zone. Spiller will also run into trouble because he is facing the New York Jets. The Jets have one of the best defenses in the league and their run defense has been great so far. Besides for shutting down other top picks, Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley, in the first two games, the defense is ranked fifth among fantasy defenses against the run. I would not suggest starting Spiller unless one does not have another decent running back because I cannot see him gaining more than 12 points.
Running back who will surprise owners:
DeAngelo Williams looks like he may have a big game at home against the Giants this week. Although he has not been great this season, 15 points, he has the potential to score a lot of points. Williams is a solid fantasy back because he is the Panther’s only legitimate threat at the running back position. Williams has averaged 20 carries and 85 yards during the first two games of the season. Williams is due for a touchdown because of the number of touches he receives during the game. The Giants have been poor this season against the run. Last week, Moreno looked like one of the best backs in football and scored two touchdowns. Although I expect the Giants to play hard and get the win, Williams should be able to put up about 15 points this game, which is solid for a flex option.
Sleepers this week: Powell, Murray, McGahee, and McFadden
The wide receiver posted solid performances last week, 6 20 point performers. Wide receivers have become increasingly more valuable as teams decide to throw the ball over 40 times per game.
Top wide receiver:
The top wide receiver this week will be Calvin Johnson. Megatron is one of the most dynamic and dangerous players in the league because of his size, skill, and physicality. After a poor week one where he caught only 4 passes for 37 yards, Johnson exploded in week two by posting 117 yards and most importantly 2 touchdowns. Johnson is a machine that should be started every week. This week Johnson and the Lions are facing the Washington Redskins on the road. This season, Washington has been horrible on defense, especially against the pass. Last week, it looked like Aaron Rodgers was going to throw for 600 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, he settled for 480 and 4 touchdowns. Last week, James Jones, a big and physical receiver, dominated the Redskins because of his size and ability to find holes in the zone. Stafford should be able to post similar numbers because he has Johnson exploiting the defense. Johnson should have a huge game, 150 yards and a pair of scores.
Overrated Wide Receiver:
Julian Edelman is projected to score the fourth most fantasy points for wide receivers according to ESPN. However, I disagree with that statement because he is facing the Bucs. Julian Edelman is the top receiver on the Pats so he will be blanketed by Darrelle Revis. Revis is the best corner in the game and should shut Edelman down on the outside. Even when Revis lays off Edelman, he will be smothered by safeties Mark Barron and Deshon Goldson. Edelman may be Brady’s favorite target, but he is not a big play receiver and does not score a lot of touchdowns. Last week, Edelman had a good game, 13 catches, but he only accumulated 78 yards. In order for Edelman to be a top wide receiver, he must score at least two touchdowns. However, I do not see that occurring. Edelman will probably score in the 5-10 point range so owners should keep him on the bench, unless their wide receivers are depleted, like the Pats.
Wide Receiver who will have a surprisingly good game:
The rookie out of Clemson, DeAndre Hopkins, should have his second straight good day at wide receiver. Hopkins is a physically imposing player that can dominate corners and score a lot of touchdowns. Last week, Hopkins broke out for 117 yards and the game winning touchdown. With Andre Johnson’s status in flux, Hopkins could become the number one receiver for the Texans against the Ravens. Even if Johnson does play, Hopkins should have a good game because Johnson will demand double coverage. Although he is old, Johnson is still a great wide receiver and teams must put a safety to limit his success. Against 1-1 match ups, Hopkins has the physical ability to catch the ball when the defender is in his face. The Ravens have been a bad defense this year. Currently, they rank 27th against the pass. Hopkins is the complementary wide receiver that the Texans have wanted for a long time.
Sleepers at Wide Receiver: Austin, Brown, Hill, and Steve Johnson
The tight end position had a poor week as only one player recorded more than 20 points. However, with the possible addition of Gronk, the tight end position will grow deeper.
Jimmy Graham should have a solid game for the Saints this week against the poor Arizona defense at home. Graham is tied for the most points among tight ends, after his great performance against the Bucs. Graham is currently the best tight end in the game because of his size, speed, and skill. Graham is slated to be the number one tight end this week and I agree with ESPN’s prediction. In week one, the Cardinals were devastated when they had to play a tight end like Jared Cook. However, this week they will be in a lot of trouble because Graham should be able to put on a show at home. Last week, Graham scored 23 points while totalling 179 yards and 1 touchdown. Although he will not put up better or similar numbers, I think that Graham will finish with more than 100 yards and one or two touchdowns.
Overrated tight end:
Jason Witten looks like he may have another tough week against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have been a solid defense, especially against tight ends. The Ram’s safeties and linebackers have done a great job at containing the tight end position. After a great game, I expect Tony Romo to throw at Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, instead of Witten. Last week, the Chiefs were able to limit Witten to 3 catches and 12 yards. The Rams will use a similar tactic in order to limit the Cowboys offense and stop them from gaining first downs. Last week, the Rams were able Tony Gonzalez to 37 yards and almost won the game. The Rams seem dedicated to stopping the tight end, which will spell trouble for Witten and his owners this weekend.
Underrated tight end:
Many owners should consider starting Greg Olsen this week against the New York Giants at home. Olsen has been solid this season, 19 points, including 14 from last week. Olsen and Cam Newton seem to have a relationship that should make owners happy. Last week, Olsen caught seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. The Giants have been one of the worst teams at defending the run for a long time because of their poor safety and linebacker performances. Over the past two weeks, the Giants have allowed 29 points and 3 touchdowns to tight ends, which ranks 26th in the NFL. Cam should be able to find his safety blanket for 75 yards and a touchdown this week. Unless you have a top five tight end, every owner should consider starting Olsen this week at tight end.
Sleepers at Tight End: Bennett, Winslow, Fleener, and Pettigrew