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Mostly NFL Notes: A Week 3 Recap

Dalton Del Don
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Peyton Manning is off to an OK start (USAT)

Jordan Cameron should now be considered a top-five fantasy tight end, at minimum. Only Jimmy Graham has more than Cameron’s 31 targets among tight ends. One of his touchdowns Sunday found him wide open on a fake field goal (the same drive also included a successful fake punt conversion), but Cameron looks like a perfect fit for this tight-end friendly system, and the team might have just discovered a competent quarterback…After his first carry of the season, Adrian Peterson has gotten 2.99 YPC on 68 rushing attempts…Christian Ponder has more rushing scores this season than Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, C.J. Spiller and Stevan Ridley combined…Greg Jennings looks droppable, whereas Josh Gordon looks like he may flirt with WR2 type fantasy value, as he saw a whopping 19 targets during his first game action Sunday. He could be a monster…Brian Hoyer made some poor decisions, tossed three interceptions and got just 5.9 YPA, but he also threw three touchdowns in a hostile environment while getting little help from his rushing attack. Hoyer showed enough flashes that fantasy owners of Cameron and Gordon should root for him to keep the job once Brandon Weeden is healthy.

The Mike Lombardi experiment is off to an interesting start in Cleveland, as after he called Trent Richardson the third safest pick in the 2012 Draft, the sophomore back was shipped to Indianapolis just two weeks into the following season. I can see both sides of this trade, as Richardson has averaged only 3.5 YPC during his career and has never had a run that’s gone for 35 yards. But he also was among the league leaders in broken tackles this year, and there’s a strong defense regarding his low YPC mark. Still, a first round pick is awfully expensive for a running back, let alone one who isn’t a guaranteed improvement, although I do respect Indy going all in. In fantasy terms, Willis McGahee probably needs to be stashed in deeper formats, but I wouldn’t expect much from any of the Browns running backs. The improved environment should help Richardson’s value, even if it lights a fire under Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson should see more scoring opportunities in Indianapolis, but he needs to improve his pass protection.

Here’s my Rapid React from Thursday night’s game.

DeMarco Murray looked terrific, rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries while catching all three of his targets for an additional 28 receiving yards. Murray’s seven broken tackles were the most among all backs in Week 3. We can go back to worrying about his health, as any performance concerns over his early struggles on the field can be put to rest…The NFC East is now 1-9 outside of their division…Chris Givens secured 25 percent of the passes thrown his way, getting 6.8 YPT while losing a fumble. I certainly expected more from him, that’s for sure…I can’t see starting Daryl Richardson in fantasy leagues until he actually “proves it” and has a good game…The Rams have to be extremely frustrated with the start to their season, but one small solace is the fact they own Washington’s first round pick next year…Sam Bradford is on pace to throw 752 passes, which would easily be an NFL record.

Hilariously Crazy Guy Trolls Rich Guys in Expensive Sports Cars. “Oh hell ya pimp!”

As an Eddie Lacy owner who aggressively spent my FAAB on James Starks, it was annoying to see him go down with a knee injury, albeit not overly surprising. Rookie Johnathan Franklin, who got nothing but negative feedback all preseason, looked fantastic, rushing for 103 yards on just 13 carries, scoring a touchdown and adding 23 receiving yards against a tough Cincy front seven. Despite playing essentially one half, Franklin broke five tackles in Week 3, getting a whopping 5.8 YPC after contact. Of course, his lost fumble probably cost Green Bay the game, and this should be Lacy’s job if he can return healthy after the team’s Week 4 bye, but Franklin is clearly the new GB “handcuff” to own. He has massive upside…Jermichael Finley’s concussion looked pretty bad, and just like with Lacy fantasy owners, it was extra maddening to see Finley suffer a game-ending injury seemingly seconds after opening kickoff…Aaron Rodgers had finished with an NFL-record 35 consecutive games with a QB Rating of 85.0 or better until Sunday…Giovani Bernard isn’t going to suddenly start getting 20 touches a game, but it’s a gift to opposing defenses every time the Bengals give the ball to BenJarvus Green-Ellis instead. Bernard looks like a true star in the making.

Louis C.K. with a pretty strong case against America’s “Toxic” Smartphone Culture.

I apologize to those I told to start Stevan Ridley in Week 3, as I couldn’t have been more wrong. He had 12 touches compared to a combined 22 by Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. Many of Blount’s came on a clock-killing final drive, but this has headache written all over it moving forward. Bolden is clearly the team’s new passing down back, and New England’s week-to-week game plans are typically unpredictable. After getting the second-most carries inside the five-yard line last year, Ridley has zero over the first three weeks of this season…Over the last two games, Julian Edelman has gotten 4.9 yards-per-target. That’s not very good…Josh Freeman hasn’t completed 56.0 percent of his passes or gotten 7.0 YPA in any of his past eight games, a span in which he’s tossed 14 interceptions. He also may now be without Vincent Jackson, whom he targeted on 45 percent of his passes this year before the WR left with injured ribs Sunday. I’m beginning to think Freeman may not be the Bucs’ long-term answer at quarterback.

This Sumo match ends pretty definitively.

Running behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines, if Rashard Mendenhall is also going to lose goal-line work, he can be safely ignored in fantasy leagues…Even without Mark Ingram, the Saints refuse to give Pierre Thomas more than a dozen carries. Hello Khiry Robinson...Carson Palmer didn’t play well, but he also was under heavy duress nearly every time he dropped back. This Saints team might have the most improved defense in football this season…Arizona safety Rashad Johnson lost a good portion of his finger in this game, let’s not forget…Jimmy Graham looks unstoppable right now. If a draft were held today, he’d make sense as a top-10 pick…New Orleans has now won 12 straight games with Sean Payton as head coach.

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Kenny Britt didn’t haul in any of his five targets and can be dropped in fantasy leagues. Forget the inability to stay healthy or the knucklehead factor, Britt’s past injuries simply have him looking like a shell of his former self. Move on…If the Saints are the league’s most improved defense, the Titans aren’t far behind. Their pass rush has been legit despite a front four that lacks big names…Better days lie ahead for Chris Johnson, but it’s pretty disconcerting he’s seen just three targets. Hopefully his new offensive line starts jelling soon, because Tennessee’s upcoming schedule (NYJ, KC, @Sea) looks brutal…Philip Rivers has a 16:1 TD:INT ratio over his past eight games. Only Tony Romo has a higher completion percentage than Rivers this season, but the former has gotten just 6.7 YPA while the latter is at 8.0.

The Jon Jones/Alexander Gustafsson fight was the best I’ve ever seen in MMA history, with both heading directly to the hospital afterward. What a battle. Seriously, it’s hard to get any better than that. Jones had to beg to get the doctor to let him continue with such a badly damaged eye, and he was also taken down for the first time in his career (while going just 1-for-11 on offensive submission attempts). But ultimately, Bones’ elbows (and kicks) were the difference, but this was a very close fight that deserves an immediate rematch (well, maybe not immediate, as both fighters will need some recovery time).

Joique Bell got just 3.2 YPC against a poor Washington defense but who cares, as he totaled 132 yards and hit pay dirt with a highly impressive 12-yard run. Bell forced six missed tackles Sunday, which is more than Chris Johnson and Ray Rice have combined for this season. It sounds like Reggie Bush will return in Week 4, but Bell remains one of the most important “handcuffs” for fantasy owners…With 4:47 left in the fourth quarter up 20-17, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-one at Washington’s 12-yard line. I loved this decision regardless of the outcome, and it just so happened to result in a touchdown two plays later that effectively ended the game (But forget that. With the way most coaches are in today’s NFL, it’s almost MORE dangerous to be up six points than up three with your defense on the field late in a game, as the latter often leads to overtime as a worst-cast scenario)…Robert Griffin continues to look out of whack passing, but at least he physically looked the best he has all season running. Having said that, after throwing for more than 300 yards just three times during his rookie campaign, RG3 has done so in each of his first three contests in 2013.

USAF woman gets tazed, makes man next to her suffer just as much.

The scariest part about Eli Manning’s horrible game was that he was facing a Carolina secondary missing FS Charles Godfrey, SS Quintin Mikell, LCB Josh Thomas and even nickel/dime options in Josh Norman and D.J. Moore. To say they were depleted would be an understatement. Still, it didn’t matter thanks to Carolina’s awesome front seven, which absolutely dominated an overwhelmed New York offensive line. Carolina had already recorded six sacks with 13:30 left in the second quarter of Sunday’s game…Speaking of sacks, the Giants now have just six of them over their past eight games. For a team that recently won two Super Bowls predominantly from dominating in the trenches, things have changed drastically in a hurry…Remember, Cam Newton has been a slow starter before, and it was especially encouraging to see him run for 45 yards and a score, as new OC Mike Shula unleashed him a bit…I’m not sure what to say about David Wilson at this point, other than “not good.” He had a TD run called back, but he almost certainly scored only because of the hold, and his zero catches on just two targets this year is a big problem running behind an offensive line struggling mightily. Can someone explain to Tom Coughlin the risk vs. reward insanity of him calling a run play with 12 seconds left in the first half from his own 20? Wilson and company face another tough task Week 4 in Kansas City.

Here’s an epic Wheel of Fortune fail that might've been a million dollar mistake.

I actually expected a better game from Bernard Pierce, but he’s a must-start as long as Ray Rice is sidelined…During last year’s four playoff games, Joe Flacco posted an 11:0 TD:INT ratio. Over his past four regular season games, he has a 3:2 TD:INT ratio…Torrey Smith has seen 31 targets and is on pace to finish with 1,435 receiving yards. The touchdowns will come…At what point is it time to really start worrying if you’re an Arian Foster fantasy owner? I hate to keep piling on, but his upcoming schedule (Sea, @SF, STL, @KC) doesn’t exactly look favorable…Did Jacoby Jones really suffer a possibly serious head injury from getting hit by a champagne bottle from a stripper named “Sweet Pea?” Why yes, yes he reportedly did.

Lamar Miller owners like the 7.8 YPC but have to hate the eight rushing attempts. He now has just 10 catches over 16 career games (and dropped a possible would-be touchdown late in the fourth quarter Sunday) and is still searching for the first goal-line carry of his career. Miller has totaled 149 yards over the first three games this season, all of which have been Miami wins…The injury to Cameron Wake (knee) is a big loss to the Dolphins, although hopefully it’s only for two-to-three weeks…Julio Jones is on pace to finish with 144 catches for 1,989 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Life with a badly hobbled Roddy White (and a possibly washed up Tony Gonzalez) would result in a pretty epic season from Jones…The Falcons have now lost as many games (three) over their last four contests (including the playoffs) as they have over their previous 17.

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Not only did the Seahawks easily cover one of the biggest spreads you'll ever see in the NFL, but they did so while benching many of their starters for the final quarter. Russell Wilson threw a touchdown on 19.0 percent of his pass attempts. He hasn’t run as much this year, but Wilson has gotten 9.5 YPA over his past nine games (playoffs included). That’s not bad…Marshawn Lynch fantasy owners have to be heavily disappointed, however, given the matchup and final score…Nice to see Golden Tate put up some numbers, but he’s still looking for his first score of the year…Also nice to see Maurice Jones-Drew play one week after what appeared to be a serious injury, and while he didn’t rack up the yards, at least he scored a TD against an extremely tough opponent…Steve Tasker actually said this: “It doesn’t matter how lopsided a game is, turnovers can equalize it in a hurry.” The score was 31-7 at the time.

Target Demo – Emmy Predictions.

As a Niners fan, Sunday’s loss was much more worrisome than the previous week’s defeat in Seattle. Double-digit favorites coming off an embarrassing performance in primetime, a 20-point home loss to an Indy team that entered looking very shaky over its first two games was a bit unexpected, even if it was closer than the final score indicated. I’m not sure what looked worse, SF’s defense that was absolutely gashed by the run for 179 yards while recording one measly sack against a Colts offensive line that has been a major problem, or an offense that suddenly can’t move the ball. The answer is probably “both.” The 2010-11 49ers went 363 days without allowing a rushing touchdown but have allowed a league-leading six so far this year, which is just one fewer than the Jets have allowed rushing FIRST DOWNS. San Francisco has also scored just 10 points over their last two games.

Frank Gore had more rushing yards (61) over the first 10 minutes than he had over his first two games of the year combined (60), but he mysteriously was scarcely used during the second half…Colin Kaepernick was 2-for-8 for 38 yards at halftime. That’s right, two completions! At home in a favorable matchup. I don’t care how shaky his offensive weapons are, that’s not good. What a disaster…The Colts obviously deserve some credit here, as they played a good game Sunday. Andrew Luck’s passing numbers are down in year two, but his completion percentage is way up, and he’s quietly on pace to run for 553 yards and 11 scores…With Aldon Smith out indefinitely and Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis both banged up, things may get worse before they get better for the 49ers, especially having to travel during a short week to play an equally desperate Rams team that had their number last season. This is the first time Jim Harbaugh has ever had a losing record as an NFL head coach.

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The Jets somehow won by a touchdown despite losing the turnover battle 2-0 and committing a whopping 20 penalties. Geno Smith may have an ugly 3:6 TD:INT ratio, but he also has a 7.9 YPA mark. He’s shown flashes (he’s the first Jets rookie ever to throw for 300 yards)…Robert Woods somehow managed two catches for 35 yards on 10 targets. That’s not easy to do…It was surprising to see Santonio Holmes show a pulse, turning 10 targets into 154 yards, including a game-winning 69-yard touchdown. Still, I remain more intrigued by Stephen Hill, who had 108 yards and a touchdown on half as many targets. He’s a borderline WR3 for fantasy purposes moving forward…Good to hear C.J. Spiller’s injury isn’t supposedly serious, as he’s already been one of the bigger disappointments early on in 2013. I do expect him to bounce back in a big way moving forward…Bilal Powell looked great, and it sounds like Chris Ivory will miss multiple weeks with his latest injury, making Powell plenty relevant in fantasy terms…This Jets defense is really, really good…E.J. Manuel lost a clear fumble with 13:05 left in the fourth quarter, but New York had no challenges left, so Buffalo retained possession.

Headlines of the Week Part 2: South Columbia Man Has Penis Amputated After Viagra Overdose ...Obese Toddler Has Gastric Bypass Surgery...Texas Man’s ‘Beer Gut’ Turns Food Into Alcohol Due To Rare Auto-Brewery Syndrome...Girls Bleeding From Shooting Mistaken For Period...Professor Filmed Up Student’s Skirt to ‘Prove She Wasn’t Wearing Undergarments.’

It was nice to see the Pittsburgh offense get back on track Sunday night, but unfortunately it came at my expense (I faced Antonio Brown in a bunch of leagues) while simultaneously not helping any of my preseason Steelers bets (they still lost). Coming right after that ugly SF loss, my depression was eased thanks only to another amazing “Breaking Bad” episode, although the “Dexter” series finale was awful…Pittsburgh committed five turnovers Sunday night. Their defense is the only in the NFL yet to force one this season, becoming just the sixth team ever not to record one over the first three gamesJay Cutler took 38 sacks over 15 games last year but has taken just three so far this season…Matt Forte has apparently lost his new role as goal-line back even though he’s been more successful there than at any point in his career, but he’s quietly on pace to finish with 1,936 yards from scrimmage (with 96 receptions and 11 touchdowns).

Longread of the Week: “Sexting, Shame and Suicide.”

It was encouraging to see Denarius Moore look like he might eventually live up to his once promising potential, and let’s hope Terrelle Pryor’s concussion isn’t serious. He really has performed far better than even his biggest advocates could have expected…Was something physically wrong with Knowshon Moreno? He was conspicuously absent during the second half. Montee Ball looked good at times, noticeably more explosive than Moreno, but he lost yet another fumble, ruining any goodwill he otherwise earned…What a nice touch pass by Darren McFadden…Remember when some worried about Eric Decker’s poor Week 1? Good times. He, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker somehow caught 25 of their combined 27 targets, resulting in 311 receiving yards and two scores. It sure looks like Peyton Manning is going to have the best season of his career at age 37.

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