Week 3 Recap: Rookie Explosion
September 22, 2014 | Jeff
Week 3 is nearly complete, and numerous stellar performances were turned in by the newest class of NFL talent. Two rookie quarterbacks took over for their respective franchises as fans and fantasy owners alike got to see the start of exciting new eras and the merciful end of retread veterans under center. The fantasy world also got a glimpse of the future of fantasy wide receivers in Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Carolina, and saw some nice efforts from fresh new rookie legs in Cleveland and Houston. Let’s jump right in and check out which rookie performances were most notable, and which fantasy veterans excelled and disappointed during a busy Sunday in Week 3…
Teddy Bridgewater: Matt Cassel left Sunday’s game with a broken foot, leading to the start of the Teddy Bridgewater era in Minnesota. The rookie completed 12 of 20 passes for 150 yards with no scores or interceptions, and also chipped in 27 rushing yards. Normal 10-12 team leagues won’t be starting Teddy anytime soon but he will surely ignite some excitement around the Vikings franchise (of the on-the-field variety). Let’s see what Teddy has in store for an encore at home in Week 4 against a beatable Atlanta defense.
Emmanuel Sanders: Wes Welker returned to the Denver lineup on Sunday but it was Emmanuel Sanders who saw the bulk of Peyton Manning’s targets as the Broncos mounted a furious comeback in Seattle. Sanders led Denver with 15 targets, catching 11 balls for 149 yards. Welker and Demaryius Thomas were each targeted nine times on the afternoon, and it will be interesting to see how many snaps each receiver played once that data comes out this week. In any event, it appears that Welker’s return won’t mean the demise of Sanders just yet.
Donald Brown: With Ryan Mathews out and Danny Woodhead injured during the game on Sunday, Donald Brown was fed carries like he was 2004 Shaun Alexander. 36 (not a typo) touches were handled by Brown on Sunday as he caught five passes and turned a monstrous workload of 31 carries into just 62 yards. With Woodhead likely out for the season with leg surgery, we will see plenty of Donald Brown in the future. Big time volume and his passing game involvement will be what keeps him relevant but let’s hope he improves on his T-Rich-esque 2.0 yards per carry.
Kirk Cousins: Robert Griffin III must have been a little uncomfortable watching Kirk Cousins on Sunday as the new Washington quarterback looked mighty impressive in a shootout with Philadelphia. Cousins ended up with 427 yards passing and three touchdowns on the day, with just one interception. Pierre Garcon (16 targets) was his primary receiver of choice on Sunday, and it appears Cousins will be a startable asset moving forward. The New York Giants are up next for Cousins and Washington, so feel free to start him once again.
LeSean McCoy: Another disappointing effort from a top fantasy pick was turned in Sunday by LeSean McCoy as he ran for 22 yards on 19 carries. Yes, 22 yards on 19 carries. Get out your calculator. That is three more yards than total carries. I am about 80% certain I could have stumbled off my couch and rumbled my way to that stat line. Anyhoo, chalk this one up to the randomness of fantasy football and a tougher than expected Washington defense, and be thankful that Darren Sproles (five touches) didn’t turn in another sterling performance.
Alfred Blue: Desperate fantasy owners who relied upon Alfred Blue on Sunday got to shout their favorite line from Old School over and over as Blue ran for 78 yards on 13 carries. Blue didn’t find the endzone in this one, but his performance wasn’t bad for a rookie making his first start. The best news for those who swiped Blue off the wire is that Jonathan Grimes only received one carry on the day. When/if Arian Foster misses time, Blue is the guy.
Rashad Jennings: The Giants picked up their first win on Sunday and were led by running back Rashad Jennings. 34 carries for 176 yards and a score was the final line for the New York running back, as he ran all over the Houston defense. It was a little odd that Jennings didn’t receive his usual passing game work, but we’ll let that slide when he shreds the defense on the ground as he did Sunday. The Washington defense is on deck for Jennings in Week 4 and if LeSean McCoy’s Week 3 performance is any indication, he will have his work cut out for him.
Lorenzo Taliaferro: Preseason The Fake Football favorite Lorenzo Taliaferro had a nice outing on Sunday, rushing for 91 yards and a score on 18 carries while filling in for the injured Bernard Pierce. Fellow backfield mate Justin Forsett (63 yards on 11 carries) was also effective, but Taliaferro looks to be the most immediate challenger to Bernard Pierce’s role in the Ravens backfield. ‘Zo will be a nice waiver target this week, but once Pierce returns we may have a messy RBBC situation on our hands. Bring some Wet-Naps.
Allen Robinson: Tied with Cecil Shorts for the Jacksonville lead in targets on Sunday (10) was rookie Allen Robinson, who caught seven passes for 79 yards. Robinson is a talented young receiver and he made the most of his opportunity with fellow rookie Marqise Lee out with an injury. Once Lee comes back, we may have a rookie log jam with Allen Hurns in the mix as well but it was nice to see a glimpse of the future in Jacksonville on Sunday.
Blake Bortles: Chad Henne was finally benched on Sunday, and rookie Blake Bortles took over at halftime. Bortles threw for 223 yards with two scores and two picks,and was a nice change from the depressing Jaguars offense led by Henne. Bortles has been crowned the starter for the remainder of 2014, so we will get a nice long look at the Jacksonville top draft pick as he attempts to improve the Jaguars offense along with his rookie receiving trio of Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns. Bortles is off the redraft map for the time being but we will surely keep tabs on his development in coming weeks.
Knile Davis: With Jamaal Charles out, Knile Davis handled a big boy workload on Sunday as he turned 32 carries into 132 yards and a touchdown. Davis did lose a fumble, but he did a decent job filling in for fantasy owners who lost Charles for the week. Knile’s shelf life may be short, however, as Charles will likely be back for Kansas City’s Week 4 MNF matchup with New England. If you own Davis but not Charles, the selling time is right……NOW.
Lamar Miller: With Knowshon Moreno out for the next month or two, now is the time for Lamar Miller to finally shine for fantasy owners and he did just that on Sunday. 15 carries for 108 yards and four catches for 24 yards was the final stat line for Miller as the Dolphins fell at home to the Chiefs. No other Miami running back received more than two carries, so it appears that Miller will be the unquestioned lead back in Bill Lazor’s offense until Moreno returns. A matchup with the Oakland Raiders awaits Miller and Miami in Week 4, where Lamar will be an upper-level RB2.
Antonio Brown: Sunday Night was another outstanding performance from Antonio Brown, and fantasy owners are simply being spoiled by the Pittsburgh receiver. Brown caught a perfect ten of ten targets for 90 yards and two scores on the night, as the Steelers won in Carolina. Wide receivers do not get any safer than Brown, as he consistently turns in solid performances every week. Large Ben loves his pal Antonio so the good times will keep on rolling for Brown’s owners, especially in PPR leagues.
Le’Veon Bell: The vaunted Carolina defense was torched by Bell on Sunday Night, to the tune of 147 yards on 21 carries. An 81-yard rumble was the highlight of the evening, leaving Bell with just 66 yards on 20 carries without the long burst. In any event, it was a solid fantasy night from Bell who is looking like a sure-fire stud so far in 2014. The wounded Tampa Bay defense awaits Bell and the Steel Curtain in Week 4.