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Mostly NFL Notes: Talking Monday Night Football and a look around the league in Week 3

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Fans were barely in their seats before Geno Smith tossed a pick-six 32 seconds into Monday night’s game, as Chicago’s secondary continues to be opportunistic, as they are tied for the league-lead with six interceptions. Smith was lucky a couple of others that could’ve been picked were dropped, but he finished with a fine fantasy performance, throwing for 316 yards and a score while adding 20 yards on the ground. His record at home as a starter during his career fell to 7-3 with the loss though, as the Jets scored just one touchdown during six trips inside the red zone…Eric Decker caught one pass and was a non-factor before exiting after aggravating his hamstring injury. Let’s hope he doesn’t return until he’s much closer to 100 percent. Jeremy Kerley becomes an interesting flier in the meantime…Since a decent debut with the Jets at home against the Raiders, Chris Johnson has 22 carries for 55 yards while securing just 1-of-5 targets for zero yards. He’ll probably get hurt, but Chris Ivory, who entered Monday leading the NFL with 4.4 YPC after contact (next best is James Starks with 3.7) is the preferred New York back to use moving forward.

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Jay Cutler continues to look good (Robert Deutsch-USAT)
Jay Cutler continues to look good (Robert Deutsch-USAT)

It helped that Brandon Marshall left the game for a bit and appeared hobbled throughout, but Alshon Jeffery had easily the best game of his season, turning 13 targets into 105 receiving yards while adding another 13 yards on the ground. He should be treated as a WR1 from here on out…Over his last 14 games with Jay Cutler starting, Martellus Bennett has recorded eight touchdowns…The refs straight up cost the Jets a defensive touchdown, not ruling Cutler's fumble that they easily returned for a TD until a replay overturned it (instead giving the Jets the ball at the spot of the fumble)...Matt Forte has 32 carries for 136 yards on the year, although he’s salvaged that by adding 19 receptions for 145 receiving yards. In fact, his 24 targets are five more than any other RB in the NFL. Forte has faced an extremely tough schedule that eases up in a big way over the next three games, so there’s no reason not to still consider him a top-five fantasy back.

When not facing the Bengals, their opponents this year are 5-1. Cincy’s +47 point differential easily leads the NFL. This team is clearly legit, although once again, it remains to be seen how this translates in the playoffs once QB play becomes even more important (although they are the only AFC team that’s undefeated after three weeks)…What a touchdown catch by Andy Dalton in which he was nearly crushed. An update on Mohamed Sanu’s career passing stats: 4-of-4 for 166 yards (41.5 YPA) for two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 QB Rating…Dalton still hasn’t been sacked this season and became the first QB to catch a touchdown since 2008. Finally, he’s living up to the Dalton name in which I’ve set the bar so high…Actually, Dalton threw for 169 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception, yet the Bengals had a 33-0 lead until about six minutes left in the fourth quarter…Meanwhile, Jake Locker has a 1:4 TD:INT ratio over his past two games, fumbling twice Sunday as well. The Bengals have one of the toughest pass defenses in the NFL, and while Locker did rush for 50 yards Sunday, he’s also taken eight sacks over three games and sits with a 6.8 YPA mark on the year after impressing in Week 1. Plus, he’s dealing with yet another injury…Apparently, the Bishop Sankey era may come sooner rather than later…After a scary scenario, A.J. Green looks good to go.

Here’s a woman who goes to extreme measures against those who litter

While Lorenzo Taliaferro didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, it was still surprising to see him get seven more carries than Justin Forsett with Bernard Pierce inactive. The same could be said about Isaiah Crowell getting just one fewer rushing attempt than Terrance West. Forsett managed just two yards on four receptions, although he did get 5.7 YPC while ceding a GL score to Taliaferro. West actually got a goal-line score of his own but recorded a 3.0 YPC mark compared to Crowell’s 5.0…Steve Smith, who’s 35 years old and joined a Baltimore team that ranked No. 19 in passing yards per game in 2013, is somehow on pace to finish with 96 catches for 1,547 yards and 171 targets that would’ve ranked as the fourth-most in the NFL last season. His 11 broken tackles are six more than any other WR in football. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith, who’s 25 years old and on the same team he’s been with throughout his career (he scored 15 touchdowns over the first two years of his career and got 1,128 receiving yards last year when he saw more than 100 targets for the first time ever), is on pace to finish with 32 receptions for 453 yards and no scores (getting 4.7 YPT with a 33.0% catch rate). It’s hard not to consider Smith Sr. much more valuable than Smith right now…Tough loss for Dennis Pitta owners. Owen Daniels seems like a reasonable replacement…If all we’re going to get is one catch for 23 yards, go ahead and stay inactive Jordan Cameron (and this coming with Brian Hoyer getting an impressive 11.6 YPA with a 127.1 QB Rating). What a bust he’s been so far. Hopefully Cleveland’s Week 4 bye gets him healthier.

Here’s a man who goes to extreme measures to avoid his car getting towed

The Chargers were very much in danger of a letdown, having beaten the defending Super Bowl champs as nearly touchdown underdogs last week while having to travel across the country and play a 10 AM game, but instead, they dominated a Buffalo team that was off to a 2-0 start against teams that looked very good otherwise. Philip Rivers took just one sack, completed 72.0 percent of his passes and got 10.2 YPA with a 2:0 TD:INT ratio. Since the beginning of last year, Rivers has been one of the five most valuable players in the NFL…One week after catching three touchdowns against the league’s best secondary, Antonio Gates was targeted once Sunday for eight yards. Meanwhile, after Ladarius Green totaled two catches over the season’s first two weeks, he hauled in four grabs for 64 yards…Fred Jackson was targeted 10 times, hauling in eight of them for 78 yards and a score…Keenan Allen was targeted just twice (as many times as Eddie Royal scored) and is now on pace to finish with 64 catches and 581 receiving yards. I’m still a believer, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say this wasn’t worth worrying about…Donald Brown had 31 carries (36 touches) Sunday, and his previous career-high was 18 rushing attempts. He wasn’t efficient (2.0 YPC), but Brown ranked second among all rushers in DVOA last season and is going to be given all the work he can handle with both Ryan Mathews and now Danny Woodhead out, although it remains to be seen how long the previously injury-prone back can withstand a workhorse role.

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Kirk Cousins went 12-of-13 for 124 yards and two touchdowns over his first two drives. I’ve seen a lot of criticism about his ability this past week, but like Nick Foles, as a fantasy option, I sure like his setup, even if he’s not the best real life QB. I’d consider Cousins a top-12 fantasy QB moving forward…Alfred Morris owners should be used to getting trolled by now, but once again they had to witness both Darrel Young and Roy Helu Jr. hitting paydirt Sunday while he didn’t despite seeing 19 more touches than both combined…LeSean McCoy, who looked like there was no way he’d return to Sunday’s game after getting checked for a concussion, returned to action but managed just 22 yards on 19 carries. It’s remarkable how poorly the top running backs (McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Montee Ball) have performed so far…Where did that come from, Jordan Matthews? It’s safe to drop Riley Cooper even in deep leagues…Don’t give up on Zach Ertz, I promise you…Any concern regarding Pierre Garcon with Cousins (after he saw just four targets last week even without DeSean Jackson) was put to rest, as the wideout saw 16 looks, securing 11 of them for 138 yards and a score…The Eagles became the first team in NFL history to win their first three games of the season while trailing by 10 points or more in all of them…Here’s a minor brawl resulting from a hit on FolesJeremy Maclin has been targeted at least 10 times in all three games this season, scoring in each of them, which includes an 80-yard TD that was called back by a penalty Sunday. He’s going to finish as a top-10 fantasy WR on a per-game basis but injury risk remains.

Headlines of the Week: Missing Driver Says He Woke Up In Field Of DonkeysA Japanese Food Stand Is Selling These Horrifically Realistic Gummy Bug SweetsSkunk Stuck With Head In Beer Can Rescued In OhioDan Mauer Had 100-Pound Scrotum Successfully Removed ...Pennsylvania High School Suspends Student Editor For Refusing To Print The Word ‘Redskins’10-Year-Old Pet Goldfish Undergoes Brain Surgery To Treat TumorLine To Exchange Ray Rice Jersey Longer Than Line For iPhone6.

Eddie Lacy lost a fumble on his first touch, resulting in a Lions touchdown. He’s yet to gain 50 yards rushing in a game or score a touchdown, averaging just 3.1 YPC. His opponents have been three teams that all rank among defenses that have allowed at least the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs, so he’s an ideal buy-low. However, James Starks really does look more explosive…I’m still trying to figure out how the Lions beat the Packers while losing the turnover battle 3-1. Matthew Stafford got just 7.2 YPA at home, was picked off twice and lost a fumble, yet Detroit won by 12 points. It sure helps Detroit’s defense held Aaron Rodgers to just 6.0 YPA and 3.5 YPC…Here’s Stephen Tulloch suffering a season-ending injury while doing a ‘discount doublecheck’ sack celebration...The Packers reached Lions territory just three times, tying for the fewest amount of drives into an opponents’ territory in games started by Rodgers. They also allowed a fumble returned for a TD, so this loss was mostly on the offense.

Something about this seems out of place, but I can’t quite put my finger on it

We witnessed the changing of the guard by Jacksonville’s quarterback Sunday, as the team is going to move on from Chad Henne to the impressive looking Blake Bortles. The same might be said for the Jags’ running back, as Toby Gerhart continues to look sluggish, and Denard Robinson is likely to be given an opportunity to see what he can do. Gerhart somehow has 34 carries for 82 yards on the year, and that’s including facing a Colts defense that entered Sunday having allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing backs. To his credit, Gerhart has secured all six of his targets for 55 yards this year, and he’s playing behind a poor offensive line, but he’s a bigger candidate to drop from your fantasy team than start for it right now…Jacksonville lost its final timeout in the first half after throwing a challenge flag inside two minutes and became just the eighth team since the merger to be outscored by 75 points over the first three games…Bortles is a huge upgrade over Henne. There will be growing pains, but his insertion in the lineup makes WRs like Allen Robinson (who had 10 targets Sunday and just missed a couple of deep plays) very intriguing moving forward (and also makes me skeptical of San Diego being the obvious Survivor pick in Week 4)…Jacksonville didn’t run its first play in Indy’s territory until there was 6:45 left in the third quarter…Ahmad Bradshaw leads all running backs with five targets in the red zone and is tied with Lamar Miller for the most looks inside the 10 (with three)…Andrew Luck was playing with this overmatched Jaguars defense, leading his team to a 30-0 lead at halftime. Luck continues to confound, as he entered with a career-low 6.2 YPA but is now on pace to finish with 53(!) total touchdowns.

Here’s the first person to buy the iPhone6 dropping it on live TV

I strongly debated the Patriots and Saints for my Survivor pick this week and went with the latter, and one of my fears with doing so was Teddy Bridgewater taking over at some point. It took a Matt Cassel injury (he entered having completed ONE pass that went for longer than 10 yards this season), but the Bridgewater sighting (and a missed extra point) had me seriously concerned for the third straight week (I went with Philly and Denver in Weeks 1 & 2). Ultimately, New Orleans pulled away, avoiding an 0-3 start during the team’s first home game, but man a Raiders win would’ve been nice (OK, now I’m being greedy…This penalty helped the Saints go from punting on fourth and long to a TD drive that resulted in them extending their lead from 13-9 to 20-9…Come Week 8, I’d be very surprised if Matt Asiata is more valuable than Jerick McKinnon down the stretch…Like Bortles, I see no reason why Bridgewater shouldn’t take this job and run with it, regardless of Cassel’s health (and I promise this is nothing personal).

OK, it’s time to start worrying about Tom Brady. The offensive line hasn’t been great, Rob Gronkowski may not be 100 percent yet, but the Raiders entered giving up 7.5 YPA and Brady got 6.3 Sunday while at home. The players I liked most entering this year were Brady, Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball, so take my advice with a grain of salt. You’ve been warned…Oh, I was also really high on Shane Vereen, who somehow managed 17 yards on six targets Sunday. Meanwhile, Stevan Ridley has regained his role as New England’s workhorse…Julian Edelman is one of only two receivers with multiple 40+ yard catches this season (the other being Emmanuel Sanders)…Here’s Mark Wahlberg leaving Robert Kraft hanging…The Raiders scored a touchdown that would’ve tied the game late in the fourth quarter that was nullified by a shaky holding call, only to follow that with an interception (on a first-and-goal that hit the receiver right in his chest) that likely was somewhat caused by the sudden rain. Oakland hasn’t won on the East Coast during a 10 a.m. start in something like 38 years, and New England was 14-pont favorites.

This footage of a flashflood is pretty intense

One week after Eli Manning played much better than his numbers suggested thanks to numerous drops, he completed 75.0 percent of his passes while getting 8.4 YPA with a 2:0 TD:INT ratio against a Houston secondary that had ceded just 6.7 YPA and one TD pass on the year. Manning’s 123.2 QB Rating was his highest since Week 1 in 2012…Arian Foster missing this game came out of nowhere, as it appears his huge workload over the first two weeks caught up to him. Alfred Blue looked plenty capable as his replacement and will be a RB2 whenever Foster sits this year. Blue isn’t as good as a receiver, but he got 6.0 YPC and would have seen more than 13 carries had the game’s score not made Ryan Fitzpatrick attempt 34 passes after he totaled 41 over the first two games of the year. In the right matchup, I could easily see ranking Blue as a top-10 fantasy RB in the future should Foster sit again…Early on it looked like the Giants were up to their usual selves, losing a fumble inside the five-yard line and then botching a FG attempt but ultimately were up 30-10 with two minutes left against a 2-0 team. They might not necessarily be doormats…Rueben Randle got 2.7 yards-per-target. That’s not ideal…On the other hand, Victor Cruz had a strong game, grabbing five-of-six targets for 107 yards and a score, although it was eye-opening seeing him get tackled from behind during a 61-yard gain…After hauling in eight catches over the first two games, Rashad Jennings had none Sunday, although he countered that by rushing for 176 yards, while further solidifying himself as the team’s goal-line back. He’ll remain a borderline RB1 as long as he can stay healthy…I don’t want to overreact to three games, but there’s an argument DeAndre Hopkins is the most valuable fantasy wide receiver on the Texans. As usual, Andre Johnson continues to be allergic to the end zone, while Hopkins has two scores and saw nine targets for 116 yards Sunday with another huge gain negated by an illegal formation penalty that had no bearing on the play, which was an absolutely fantastic catch. He’s the real deal.

Headlines of the Week Part TwoCalifornia Boy Gets Detention For Sharing School-Prepared Lunch With Another Student...Woman Sues Jimmy John’s For Forgetting The Sprouts On Her SandwichFerrari 458 Recalled Because Humans In Trunk Cannot EscapeLindsay Lohan Says She Picked ‘Niners’ First In Fantasy Football DraftRichmond Restaurant Encourages Bad Yelp Reviews.  

Coach Jeff Fisher did a rare thing, not announcing his starting quarterback until literally kickoff, even having Shaun Hill run more plays with the team’s “ones” during pregame warm-ups. There will be no doubt who’s starting moving forward after yet another impressive performance by Austin Davis however, as the undrafted 25-year-old is intriguing…DeMarco Murray has lost a fumble in all three games so far this season, but he’s also scored and gained 100 rushing yards in all three contests and is on pace to finish with 2,384 yards from scrimmage…Sunday marked the first time in 78 regular season games Dallas won a game in which they trailed by 21 points…The Cowboys entered as the only team not to allow a reception by an opposing running back this season. Zac Stacy, who entered with one catch on the year, pulled down five catches Sunday (Benny Cunningham added another)…After recording the third-most sacks in the NFL last year (53) and adding Aaron Donald with the No. 13 pick in this year’s draft, the Rams have a league-low one sack this season…Teammates Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are tied for the second-most targets by WRs inside the five-yard line with two…With the Cowboys having allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends through two games, I ranked Jared Cook as a top-10 TE this week. He finished with seven catches for 75 yards, which was fine, but he also dropped this sure touchdown, which for some reason later resulted in him shoving his quarterback

Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Anquan Boldin combined to secure 25-of-26 targets for 219 yards, which is pretty remarkable. But outside of Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers’ rushing game was non-existent, and the team’s defense remains a major problem, not that it’s a surprise with so many players missing early in the season. But here’s a weird quirk: over the first three games, San Francisco (to all announcers, podcasters, writers, please, please stop calling the city “San Fran”) has outscored its opponents 59-16 in the first half. They’ve been outscored 52-3 in second halves. The 49ers are the only team in football not to score in the fourth quarter this season…Apparently Drew Stanton won’t be a death knell to Michael Floyd’s fantasy value, as the signal caller took multiple deep shots downfield Sunday...This is the second consecutive game the 49ers have had 100+ penalty yards (totaling 25 penalties for 225 yards)…Props to Arizona for being aggressive and going for it on fourth down at its own 44-yard-line in the first quarter. The Cardinals are tied for second in points allowed this season without Dansby/Washington/Abraham/Dockett/Bell and a gimpy Mathieu.

Police Blotter: Cops: On-Duty Florida Bus Driver Pulls Over, Solicits ProstituteDetectives: Gig Harbor Man Fatally Run Over By His Date...Police: Dad Made Son Drink Until He Passed Out...Cops: Customer Pointed Gun At Drive-Thru Worker And Demanded A Hamburger...Pregnant Woman Fights Off Mugger In Flint, Gives Birth Same Day...Cumberland Man Charged With Drunk Driving Four Times In Day And HalfA Burglar Invaded A Huge ‘Game Of Thrones’ Nerd’s House, Ended Up Getting Stabbed With A Spear.

Knile Davis fully lived up to expectations that he’d be a top-10 fantasy back replacing Jamaal Charles, getting 32 carries for 132 yards and a score, although to be honest, I expected some catches, and Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight somehow “stole” three other touchdowns. Davis’ day could have been much bigger, but he’ll remain an obvious RB1 as long as Charles is sidelined. Davis is somehow tied for the lead this season with six carries inside the 10 and ranks second with four rushing attempts inside the five...Lamar Miller is averaging 5.8 YPC and has 10 catches on 15 targets over three games. He’s definitely a flex option with Knowshon Moreno out, but Miller has seen 20 rushes in a game just once during his career…Mike Wallace didn’t score Sunday for the first time this year, but he saw another 12 targets, giving him 31 on the year. He’s being utilized as a true No. 1 this year and is on pace to finish with 1,189 total yards and 11 touchdowns. He looks like a weekly must-start…He hasn’t been very good, but it’s still surprising there’s chatter of Ryan Tannehill possibly being benched. It might be worth noting only Joe Flacco has seen his receivers drop more passes (12) than Tannehill (11) this season…Here’s Brian Hartline drawing a 15-yard penalty for faking like he’s putting.

Song of the Week: Broods – “Four Walls” 

Russell Wilson had a 17-yard catch, which would have made him the third QB to haul in a reception this week had this Johnny Manziel catch not been called back. Wilson added 40 rushing yards, got 7.6 YPA and tossed two TDs. He’s good (although fantasy owners might have one complaint. Wilson is clearly a very good runner. In fact, he rushed for three scores in limited work during the preseason. But he’s now ran for just one touchdown over his past 19 regular season games)…Julius Thomas has five touchdowns on 17 targets this year, which is both impressive and quite obviously unsustainable…Despite Wes Welker’s return, Emmanuel Sanders saw a whopping 15 targets and became the first wide receiver to reach 100 yards against the Seahawks in 14 games…Peyton Manning threw an interception for the first time in his last 380 passes during September…This game marked the first Super Bowl rematch in the regular season since 1997…Up 17-3, on third-and-17 at their own one, I’m guessing Seattle’s safety actually increased their WPA, especially after the ensuing kickoff resulted in the Broncos having the ball at their own 23-yard line…Those who bet on the Seahawks went from being furious (blowing an 8-point lead having Denver pinned at its own 20 with 59 seconds left) to being extremely fortunate (hoping for the 2-point conversion to be successful and then a touchdown in overtime)…Montee Ball is getting 3.4 YPC on the year, and he lost a fumble during the team’s first offensive play from scrimmage Sunday. It’s been a rough start to the year, and as someone who touted him, I’d love to say it will get better soon, but the truth is Denver’s following schedule looks like this: BYE, ARI, @NYJ and SF. That’s rough.

Longreads of the Week: For anyone who missed it, this truly is a must-read: Rice Case: Purposeful Misdirection By Team, Scant Investigation By NFL..This isn’t actually much of a long-read, but it’s a must-read: Perceptions Haven’t Caught Up To Decline In Crime.

Carolina entered having allowed zero rushing touchdowns on the year, but Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount combined to run for 265 yards on 31 rushing attempts (8.6 YPC) and a score. Bell’s 81-yard run was the Steelers’ longest since 1970 (and the longest in the NFL that didn’t result in a TD in more than 20 years)…Pittsburgh entered having been outscored 50-9 over its previous six quarters, so it was mildly surprising to see them beat an undefeated team on the road as 3.5-point underdogs in primetime 37-19. In fact, the Steelers hadn’t scored a touchdown in the past eight quarters before Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for a score in the third quarter, and that was thanks to a fumble recovery that accounted for Pittsburgh’s first takeaway of the season, followed by an encroachment penalty during the team’s ensuing field goal attempt...This is getting repetitive, but Kelvin Benjamin looks terrific and remains my favorite to win OROY, although it was a bit worrisome that Cam Newton still appears far from 100 percent healthy…Antonio Brown secured all 10 of his targets for 90 yards and two touchdowns. It doesn’t get more efficient than that. He’s become a true star. And since he’s so valuable, the Steelers might want to consider taking him off punt return duties. Also, this happened

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