One if by land, two if by sea (USP)
Although most fantasy players and pundits were in love with the Patriots offense in advance of the season, there was one common concern.
Too many mouths to feed.
With that theme in mind, let's appreciate what the Patriots did for our fake teams Sunday at Buffalo. This was one of those rare instances where any New England skill player you started came through for you.
The Pats romped to a 52-28 victory at Orchard Park, and it was just as impressive in the box score as it was on the screen (31 first downs, 580 yards of offense). Let's tally just how much fake-football goodness New England gave to us.
For Tom Brady, business as usual: 340 yards passing, three touchdown passes, one touchdown run, 120.1 rating. The last seven drives he directed in the second half went this way: TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, Field Goal. (The top scorers on the fantasy quarterback leaderboard this week will look familiar. Same as it ever was.)
Most of Brady's passing went to the three major receivers. Wes Welker gobbled up nine grabs for 129 yards, though he didn't score and he lost a fumble. Solid day. You know the drill with Welker: PPR gold, but the touchdowns are a little dicey.
Rob Gronkowski was a drop machine early - he lost the handle on two possible touchdowns, and also coughed up a fumble. But he came on late, finishing at 5-104 including a 28-yard score and spike. Gronk is who we thought he was.
Brandon Lloyd's touchdown came late, and a 3-50-1 line doesn't make anyone dance. But at least he forged his way into double digit fantasy points.
The big fun came in the New England backfield, where Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden ran over and through the shoddy and overrated Buffalo front seven (Mario Williams, no one in Houston misses you). Ridley picked up 22-106 and two scores on the ground, showing a nifty combination of vision, quickness and bounce. Bolden went the more conventional route, plowing over people en route to 137 yards and a score. He packs a lot of power at 5-11, 220 pounds; this is basically Law Firm 2.0. Ridley's hold on the starting gig is secure, but Bolden has earned the right to be included in future game plans (real and imaginary).
And if you were forced to start Danny Woodhead, you got lucky too (2-23 receiving, one score). There weren't wrong answers on this offense today.
(Brandon Bolden should heretofore be known as "Bam Bam." I don't think Hensley Meulens or Hanna-Barbera will mind.)
The Buffalo passing game certainly had its moments, too: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and four scores, and at one point the Bills had a 14-point lead. Scott Chandler was uncoverable near the goal line (5-62, two touchdowns), and Brad Smith and Donald Jones also scored.
Alas, Fitzpatrick made some loose throws when Buffalo fell behind, and he wound up chucking four interceptions. Some of them were press-the-issue attempts in the fourth period, but there's no denying he didn't play well once the situation became desperate.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson weren't invited to the party: both player lost a costly fumble (Spiller's was at the goal line) and neither player posted a strong fantasy line. Spilled was more productive on the ground (8-33 rushing), but only made five yards on two catches. Jackson needed 13 carries for 29 yards, though he did collect 50 yards on three catches (one a pretty wheel route down the left sideline, a 34-yard conversion against solid Jerod Mayo coverage). The Bills also lost LT Cordy Glenn in this game (ankle injury); he's been a lockdown anchor for most of the year.
So we're back to where we started with the Buffalo backfield: two strong running backs, one football.
The Pats better digest and forget this victory as quickly as possible, because October's schedule has serious teeth: Denver, Seattle, the Jets, St. Louis. Say whatever you want about the New York outfit right now, but those NFC West defenses are dangerous and the Broncos game won't be easy.
Buffalo has it even worse (especially from a fantasy perspective), traveling to San Francisco and Arizona in the next two weeks. A home game with Tennessee is appreciated in Week 7, but then it's a bye and a trip to Houston (and a rematch with New England). Sorry about that, Fitzy. Time to see what Chan Gailey's offense (and sputtering defense) is made of.
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