Some days, the NFL almost gives us too many stories.
We saw three overtime games on Sunday, one of which offered 85 total points and 1020 yards. Another involved a 233-yard rushing performance. Fantasy's No. 1 and No. 2 running backs, CJ Spiller and Reggie Bush, both suffered injuries. RGIII had another huge stat line in a loss, as did Andrew Luck. The Niners lost to Minnesota, Oakland pulled off a come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh, Matthew Stafford got hurt, the Eagles were humiliated in Arizona, and ... well, it was a busy week, loaded with actionable events.
Thus, there are many directions we could go here at the top in Sunday Scene.
I'm choosing to begin with an important fantasy PSA: Going forward, you should start everyone who faces the Saints defense.
Seriously, everyone. If you can identify any linemen who might get tackle-eligible opportunities, add 'em. Long-snappers, too. Punters. Practice squad players. Mascots. Fans seated in the first 15 rows. Every human in the building, basically. This defense is that ludicrously generous.
Through three games, New Orleans has yet to hold an opponent to fewer than 460 total net yards. The Saints allowed 510 in a loss to the Chiefs on Sunday (including 288 to Jamaal Charles), falling to 0-3. It's never a tackling clinic with this team, nor a coverage clinic.
And here's a fun fact: The three opponents that have beaten New Orleans so far — Washington, Carolina and Kansas City — are winless against the rest of the NFL. Just imagine the numbers we'll see when legitimately great offenses get to feast.
Here's the Saints' rest-of-season schedule, just for planning purposes: at Green Bay (bwahahaha. Good luck), San Diego, bye, at Tampa Bay, at Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta, at Oakland, San Francisco, at Atlanta, at NY Giants, Tampa Bay, at Dallas, Carolina.
Pick on this team as needed, all year.
• We covered the CJ Spiller shoulder injury earlier in the day, when it seemed like we might have a serious issue on our hands — maybe a collarbone break, or a severe shoulder separation. Spiller is headed for various tests on Monday, but at the moment it doesn't sound like a multi-week issue.
Here's the Bills head coach, via the Buffalo News:
"I don't believe it's long, long term," [Chan] Gailey said. "If he misses a week, that's long for me. I think he's going to be out for sure this week, and then we'll see where he goes from there."
Gailey was asked whether Spiller had suffered a broken collarbone, and responded simply, "No."
So that's decent news. Tashard Choice rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries in Spiller's absence. I'm not terribly interested in starting him against New England next week, however. There's at least a chance that Fred Jackson will return in Week 4.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a respectable fantasy day against a Joe Haden-less Browns defense (208 yards, 3 TDs), while rookie Brandon Weeden had a much rougher afternoon (5.5 Y/A, 4 sacks, 2 INTs). Note that Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron led his team in receiving on Sunday, hauling in five balls for 45 yards. No, those aren't great numbers, obviously, but he'd been a no-show in the box scores until Week 3.
• Darren McFadden began the day averaging just 2.1 yards per carry through two games, still looking for his first touchdown, and the match-up with Pittsburgh in Week 3 didn't seem too friendly. But on McFadden's first carry against the Steelers, this happened. An inside zone run finally popped for Oakland, and DMC was gone. House call, 64 yards. (Ryan Mundy could not have looked more ridiculous on the attempted tackle). McFadden finished with 113 rushing yards on 18 carries, his first 100-yard game since last September. His performance was Exhibit A this week in the case for starting your stars, regardless of the opponent.
The Raiders overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit (and a horrific injury to Darrius Heyward-Bey on a dangerous, unflagged hit) to edge Pittsburgh, 34-31. Sea Bass kicked a 43-yard game-winner. Carson Palmer had a nice-enough day against a banged-up Steelers D (209 yards, 3 TDs), and we finally had a Denarius Moore sighting (45 yards, TD). Ben Roethlisberger had the huge day you should have expected against Oakland's miserable secondary (384 yards, touchdowns to everyone). Alas, Ben is now headed into a bye week.
Let's hope DHB recovers quickly from the wicked shot that knocked him out of Sunday's game. The early word is positive, and he gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was carted off the field. Updates will follow, when they're available.
• Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Fouts: "I once was in a greased pig contest and lemme tell ya, pal, it's not easy to corral that little bugger." If someone can get me that audio clip — or video of the actual contest — I'd appreciate it.
• Andrew Luck passed for 313 yards and two scores against the Jags, connecting with rookie TY Hilton four times for 113 yards, and with Reggie Wayne eight times for 88. Highlights here. (Notably quiet: Coby Fleener. He did nothin', while Dwayne Allen caught five passes for 35 yards). But Luck's big day wasn't quite enough, as the Jaguars got yet another late-game miraculous connection between Blaine Gabbert and Cecil Shorts. More than half of Gabbert's total passing yards came via his 80-yard final-minute hook-up with Shorts. Maurice Jones-Drew was a monster for Jacksonville, rushing for 177 yards, catching two passes for 16, and crossing the goal line once. We can safely say that MJD has reclaimed last year's must-start status, despite the horrible team context.
• Reggie Bush is headed for a Monday MRI on his left knee, and Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin declined comment on the injury following his team's OT loss to the Jets. Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller are the adds-of-interest, should Bush miss significant time. Philbin really had a rough afternoon, including one of the more regrettable ice-the-kicker decisions you'll ever see. His team blocked Nick Folk's first overtime game-winner, but the coach called timeout, negating the play.
New York's win could end up as a pyrrhic victory, as corner Darrelle Revis suffered a non-contact knee injury, and the team reportedly fears an ACL tear. Brutal news for the team, clearly. Revis is one of the few NFL corners who has a serious impact on the weekly fantasy ranks.
One last Jets' note: Bilal Powell, not Shonn Greene, led the team in rushing, gaining 45 yards on 10 carries. Greene plodded for 40 yards on 19 attempts. Powell isn't the flashiest back in the player pool, but even "serviceable" would be an upgrade for the Jets.
• The Detroit-Tennessee game provided enough material to fill several Sunday Scenes, as each team topped 40 points and 400 total yards. That contest somehow managed to deliver three top-16 quarterbacks. The Titans scored twice on special teams, once on defense, and they still nearly lost. Jake Locker was excellent, passing for 378 yards (9.0 Y/A) and two TDs, rushing for 35 yards. Nate Washington gave us a catch of the year candidate among his three receptions for 112 yards. Matthew Stafford aggravated a preexisting leg injury, forcing Shaun Hill into the game for Detroit. Hilll directed an improbable comeback in the final seconds of regulation, complete with a tipped pass Hail Mary TD. Running back Mikel LeShoure rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries in his long-awaited NFL debut, as Kevin Smith was barely a rumor. (If you were watching Fantasy Football Live, you got the LeShoure scoop. Let's hope you weren't burned by Smith).
Here's perhaps the craziest detail from Tennessee's 44-41 win: In a game that featured 1020 total yards of offense, Chris Johnson accounted for just 29. I'm all out of excuses for CJ's horrid performance — and if I had some, they wouldn't matter. The numbers simply haven't been there for Johnson. We can blame the game flow, the O-line, the player himself ... at this point, no one cares. You can't reasonably start him next week at Houston. And I wouldn't want him in my lineup in Week 5 at Minnesota, or in Week 6 vs. Pittsburgh.
• If it weren't for the ridiculousness in Nashville, then Cincinnati's 38-31 win at Washington would have been the day's most insanely Tecmo-style game. AJ Green began the day with a 73-yard touchdown reception off some Wildcat madness, ultimately finishing with 183 yards on nine grabs. Andy Dalton became the third quarterback in as many weeks to throw for 300-plus yards against the Redskins defense. (Washington's upcoming schedule: at TB, ATL, MIN, at NYG, at PIT, CAR, bye).
And, of course, Robert Griffin III was again a fantasy beast, passing for 221 yards, rushing for 85, and accounting for two TDs. The kid took a beating, however, getting sacked six times and fumbling on this big hit by Carlos Dunlap. You worry for RGIII's health, but no one's arguing about the production. His team's rotten defense gives a boost to his fantasy potential.
• Is Kyle Rudolph still a free agent in your fantasy league? Please go check. He's out there in 61 percent of Yahoo! leagues, despite relentless preseason hype. Rudolph caught a pair of touchdown passes on Sunday, as the Vikes knocked off the visiting Niners. Adrian Peterson looked awfully good as well, gaining 107 total yards on 27 touches against an elite defense. Quarterback Christian Ponder passed for two scores and ran for another, and he has an appealing match-up on deck, at Detroit. He's definitely on the radar, with the bye weeks beginning.
Pretty much the only things that weren't working properly for Minnesota in Week 3 were Ragnar's hands, after made field goals.
• Hopefully you didn't spend too much time parked in front of the Chicago-St. Louis game, because that was a big steaming mess of missed chances. Jay Cutler didn't exactly deliver a confidence-inspiring bounce-back performance, but we should note that Devin Hester whiffed on a relatively easy TD reception. Brandon Marshall had a good day that might have been a great day, if he hadn't been dragged down just short of the end zone. Michael Bush broke the plane in the first half, but he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. The Rams' O-line had a terrible day, giving up six sacks and creating no rushing lanes. Steven Jackson wasn't right (11 carries, 29 yards), but we need to at least give him credit for playing with the groin injury.
• Dallas was an offensive abyss on Sunday, but Tampa Bay was something far worse. The Bucs gained only 166 total yards, they turned over the ball twice, and Josh Freeman completed just 35.7 percent of his throws. I've got nothing good to say about this game, as it hurt me in multiple fantasy leagues, for various reasons. "We need to stop being known for the kneel-down play,'' said Greg Schiano after the game. Within the fantasy community, they're also known for 100-yard passing performances. So there's that. If Freeman can't get right against Washington in Week 4, we have a problem.
• You can keep calling the Texans a run-first team if you like, but that offense can do plenty of damage through the air. No offense wants to be considered predictable, and Houston isn't an exception. Matt Schaub went 17-for-30 with 290 yards at Denver, tossing four TD passes, surviving a vicious shot to the head that separated him from his helmet (and apparently a piece of his ear). Despite all the Texans' passing success, Arian Foster still topped 100 yards and found the end zone, because that's what he does.
Peyton Manning put up a big fantasy number (323 yards, 2 TDs), thanks mostly to volume (52 pass attempts). He threw both of his passing scores in the fourth quarter, during another late rally that eventually failed. (Tim Tebow obviously would have willed that final desperation hook-and-ladder play to succeed). There's a health situation to monitor in Denver, as Willis McGahee checked out of the Broncos' loss with a rib issue. Take a lesson from me, gamers, and never put yourself in a position where a McGahee injury threatens to wreck your fantasy portfolio. [Expletive].
• I realize that when most of you think of Michael Turner, this is what comes to mind...
That's his signature play right there, the one-yard gain. But you'll note that he did the heavy lifting against San Diego in the fourth quarter on Sunday, gaining 57 of his game-high 80 rushing yards in the final frame. He also broke the plane with a late seven-yard score. Jacquizz Rodgers is a really nice supporting player, but he's a small back (5-foot-6) and he hasn't outperformed Turner on a per-touch basis. We can't bury the Burner just yet. Matt Ryan had his usual big day for Atlanta (275 yards, 3 TDs), connecting with four different receivers for five catches or more (including 'Quizz). Julio Jones gave us a brief early injury scare (hand), but he returned to haul in five balls for 67 yards and a score.
Ryan Mathews made his 2012 debut for San Diego, gaining 76 yards on 15 touches, fumbling once (of course). Things should get a bit easier for Mathews in Week 4, at KC.
• Arizona's defense is legit, friends. The Cards limited Philadelphia to just six points in Week 3, sacking Michael Vick five times and forcing three turnovers. The next four weeks bring decent-to-great matchups — Miami, at St. Louis, Buffalo, at Minnesota — so keep Arizona in your plans. Kevin Kolb had a better and much easier day than Vick, completing 17 of his 24 passes for 222 yards and a pair of scores. Someone obviously introduced him to Larry Fitzgerald, who finished with nine catches for 114 yards and one TD. Running back Ryan Williams had an unexpectedly good day for the Cards, picking up 95 yards on 14 touches.
You'll probably never believe this, but Beanie Wells is dealing with an injury (possibly turf toe).
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 4
QB Christian Ponder, Minnesota (at DET)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (vs. NE)
QB Shaun Hill, Detroit (vs. MIN)
RB Mikel LeShoure, Detroit (vs. MIN)
RB Ryan Williams, Arizona (vs. MIA)
RB Tashard Choice, Buffalo (vs. NE)
RB Daniel Thomas, Miami (at ARI)
RB Lamar Miller, Miami (at ARI)
RB Lance Ball, Denver (vs. OAK)
RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver (vs. OAK)
RB Bilal Powell, NY Jets (vs. SF)
WR Jerome Simpson, Minnesota (at DET)
WR Nate Burleson, Detroit (vs. MIN)
WR Ramses Barden, NY Giants (at PHI)
WR Brandon LaFell, Carolina (at ATL)
WR Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati (at JAC)
TE Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota (at DET)