Although the Dolphins escaped with a 17-14 victory over the Rams on Sunday, it was far from an artistic success. Miami won the ballgame despite a puny 12 first downs, and the Rams found a way to lose despite a 462-192 edge in total yards. St. Louis collected 6.7 yards per play, the Dolphins just 3.9.
And Brian Hartline, you ask? He didn't have much to do with Miami's victory, either. Winning smile, no stats.
Two weeks ago, it was Turn On Your Hartline as the Dolphins wideout went ballistic in Arizona (12 catches, 253 yards). Sunday, it was Turn Off Your Hartline. Miami's No. 1 wideout went without a catch and without an official target for the afternoon. Oh, there was one pass aimed his way — it turned into a pass interference call — but otherwise there's no trace of Hartline in this game.
I don't want to say too much about Hartline's no-show until I review the game tape. Ryan Tannenhill handled Hartline's absence just fine, going 21-for-29 for 185 yards and two scores. Unheralded Marlon Moore and Anthony Fasano collected the touchdowns, and Reggie Bush (5-44) and Davone Bess (6-42) had passable days in PPR formats. It wasn't the 1980 Chargers, but it was good enough.
The Rams aren't an easy bunch to beat on the outside, with cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins playing well. I'm eager to see how much those guys had a hand in the Hartline bagel. But name-brand cornerbacks generally aren't enough to steer fantasy owners away from a sound option. A.J. Green carved up Joe Haden and friends in Cleveland on Sunday, posting pinball stats (seven grabs, 135 yards, two scores). Reggie Wayne scraped together a 5-87 day in the Meadowlands. The Patriots went for 395 passing yards against Seattle's well-regarded secondary, with Wes Welker (10-138-1) leading the way.
We also have to accept that every quality receiver will have a few stinkers. Larry Fitzgerald was held to four yards at New England in Week 2. Calvin Johnson still hasn't caught a touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford. Julio Jones has been inconsistent all year. The list goes on and on.
Hartline isn't in the same class as those guys I just mentioned, but he's still a reasonable WR3 or WR4 in most pools going forward. It's okay to be frustrated by what just happened, but let's see the forest for the trees. He can't help you in Week 7 (bye) and the Jets will be a challenge in Week 8, but he looks good against the Colts, Titans and Bills after that.
Wide receiver is the variance position of Fantasy Football. Nat Moore said there'd be days like this. Share your bagel talk in the comments. We'll get through this together.