Arian Foster may have ascended into the strata of top-5 fantasy backs with his 231-yard, 3-TD devastation against the Colts in Week 1, but the seeds of his success were sown on Aug. 28, when the Texans rolled over the Cowboys in the preseason -- benefiting from a home-field atmosphere more suitable for December or January games. Against Dallas, Foster rummaged for 110 rushing yards and one touchdown; but come this Sunday, in a game that actually counts, I'm willing to bet the Cowboys do everything in their power to contain Foster -- even if it means letting Andre Johnson (and his tender ankle) roam reasonably free downfield.
Can you believe coach Andy Reid pegged Michael Vick as the Eagles' permanent quarterback, based off one garbage-time half against the Packers and two impressive, albeit easily predictable halves against the sad-sack Lions and their pedestrian secondary? As I told one Twitter follower this week, if only football could be played in an alternate universe, then we'd realize that Vick, a healthy Kevin Kolb and even third-stringer Mike Kafka could've engineered 30-point outings against Detroit.
This group of prominent players will bounce back in Week 3: 1. RB Chris Johnson, Titans 2. RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins 3. WR Randy Moss, Patriots 4. RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers 5. WR Anquan Boldin, Ravens 6. RB Brandon Jackson, Packers 7. QB Brett Favre, Vikings 8. WR Brandon Marshall, Dolphins 9. WR Laurent Robinson, Rams 10. RB Cedric Benson, Bengals
1. Tom Brady vs. Buffalo 2. Drew Brees vs. Atlanta 3. Tony Romo @ Houston 4. Sam Bradford vs. Washington 5. Philip Rivers @ Seattle 6. Peyton Manning @ Denver 7. Jay Cutler vs. Green Bay
We've applauded Accuscore in Clicks for years; but the projections were essentially uncovered with full seasons in mind. Well, here's a short-term gem, detailing the top 15 passing leaders for Week 3: 1. Drew Brees, Saints -- 318 yards 2. Peyton Manning, Colts -- 295 3. Tony Romo, Cowboys -- 281 4. Matt Schaub, Texans -- 280 5. Jay Cutler, Bears -- 268 6. Philip Rivers, Chargers -- 248 7. Tom Brady, Patriots -- 245 8. Michael Vick, Eagles -- 244 9. Eli Manning, Giants -- 239 10. Donovan McNabb, Redskins -- 238 11. Matt Ryan, Falcons -- 238 12. Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- 237 13, Brett Favre, Vikings -- 234 14. Kyle Orton, Broncos -- 232 15. Shaun Hill, Lions -- 216
As much as I like Josh Freeman, Cadillac Williams and Mike Williams as a poor man's Big Three for the season, I cannot commit to any Bucs playmaker against the Steelers for one reason: I still view 2-0 Tampa Bay as the fantasy club that totaled 11 first downs and 210 net yards against the Jets and Giants last year -- at home! On the flip side, if rookie Mike Williams should score for a third straight game -- approaching Randy Moss territory, circa 1998 -- then I promise to start him in all four leagues next week.
Here are my revised rankings for the top 20 tight ends: 1. Dallas Clark, Colts (league-high 20 targets among tight ends)2. Jermichael Finley, Packers 3. Antonio Gates, Chargers (position-best three TDs)4. Jason Witten, Cowboys 5. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings 6. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots (caught 7 of his 8 targets for 146 yards)7. Vernon Davis, 49ers (seemingly being ignored in the red zone)8. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers 9. Brent Celek, Eagles 10. Zach Miller, Raiders 11. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons 12. Chris Cooley, Redskins 13. Dustin Keller, Jets 14. Greg Olsen, Bears 15. John Carlson, Seahawks 16. Marcedes Lewis, Jagauars 17. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs 18. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions 19. Todd Heap, Ravens 20. Heath Miller, Steelers (the drudgery will finally end upon Big Ben's return)
The Panthers have no choice but to run DeAngelo Williams and JonathanStewart approximately 45 times against the Bengals. Anything short of that will likely mean a disastrous starting debut for QB Jimmy Clausen, who had that classic deer-in-the-headlights look against Tampa Bay in Week 2.
1. Ray Rice vs. Cleveland (shooting for 170 total yards and two TDs)2. Matt Forte vs. Green Bay 3. Ronnie Brown vs. N.Y. Jets 4. Darren McFadden @ Arizona 5. Clinton Portis @ St. Louis 6. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Philadelphia 7. DeAngelo Williams vs. Cincinnati 8. Chris Johnson @ N.Y. Giants 9. Frank Gore @ Kansas City 10. Adrian Peterson vs. Detroit 11. Rashard Mendenhall @ Tampa Bay
On Thursday morning, we launched the third of 15 weekly chats on Facebook, taking lineup questions from the fantasy masses. Here are some of the highlights from Chat No. 3, which comes with a reminder for next Thursday's open forum (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST):
@ Chris Keiser -- I am contemplating two trades: Acquiring Michael Vick/Johnny Knox for Ronnie Brown/Calvin Johnson. The other deal on the table: Getting Kyle Orton/LaDainian Tomlinson for Calvin. It leaves me short at WR, but I may be able to pick up Louis Murphy or Demaryius Thomas.
Answer: I'm a little uncomfortable giving up Ronnie and Calvin for a running quarterback (Vick) who played well against the sad-sack Lions and receiver who could easily be Chicago's No. 4 target every other week (Knox). At the very least, I'd make Owner B throw in another decent running back. As for the second deal, I'd give that one stronger consideration. Orton plays in a pass-first offense and will likely be the Broncos' starter all year -- unless the team completely goes in the tank (which won't happen in the AFC West).
@ Jfree Boo -- Please pick two WRs for my non-PPR: Randy Moss, Steve Smith (NYG), Dwayne Bowe, Demaryius Thomas. Also, I need one flex pick among Jahvid Best, Jason Snelling, Ryan Mathews or Mike Tolbert. The last two weeks you recommended Bowe and Steve Smith, with minimal results.
Answer: I'd ride Steve Smith and Moss for Week 3 over Bowe and D-Thomas. I realize Demaryius is a shiny new rookie playing in a pass-first offense, but that's exactly what makes him prone to inconsistency. The Broncos have plenty of receiving options ... so his success, at least early on, will be sporadic. With your running backs, I'm guessing Ryan Mathews won't play against Seattle, but I do think Michael Turner will go against the Saints. With that in mind, I'd ride 1) Best 2) Tolbert 3) Snelling 4) Mathews this week.
@ Tim Carty -- Hey Jay, could use some advice here. I have a chance to get Rashard Mendenhall for Joe Flacco/Jamaal Charles.Matt Schaub is my first quarterback, and Frank Gore is my top running back. Should I take the deal?
Answer: Personally, I would not trade Charles under any circumstances -- my faith is simply too strong to justify in trades. However, if you already have Schaub and Gore it makes complete sense to surrender Flacco and Charles for a top-10 back like Mendenhall. That's a very potent trio to have -- the kind that would cover any other holes on your roster. Plus, I'm assuming you can find a serviceable backup QB on waivers. I may love Charles, but I'm not an idiot, either ... that's a great trade for you. Thanks.
@ Susan Caggiula Connelly -- First of all Jay, thanks for the early tip on Sidney Rice last year. You rock! I drafted Jerricho Cotchery and now need to replace him. I'm looking at Nate Washington, Mark Clayton, Eddie Royal or Kevin Walter. I'm leaning toward Washington, since Tennessee has the easiest schedule. Any thoughts for this PPR league?
Answer: I am very happy that many people benefitted from my Sidney Rice pick last year. Unfortunately, Devin Thomas isn't living up to similar expectations this year ... but it's still early. As for the present, I'd want 1)Clayton 2) Walter 3) Washington 4) Royal over Cotchery in your PPR league. All four wideouts are solid prospects in the PPR realm.
@ Shane Katz:In a 10 team PPR, would you drop Reggie Bush (already have Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Tim Hightower) and pick up Mike Tolbert, Demaryius Thomas, or another TE (Aaron Hernandez, Heath Miller, Dustin Keller or Tony Moeaki) since I have Kellen Winslow's balky knees?
Answer: I have already dropped Bush in three leagues, simply because I already had roster space devoted to Sidney Rice, another stashee who could be ready by Week 7. For your case, I would probably dump Reggie for 1) Mike Tolbert 2) Aaron Hernandez 3) Demaryius Thomas.
@ Matthew De Lima:Pick 1 QB: Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Michael VickPick 2 RB: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jamaal Charles, Mendenhall, Felix JonesPick 2 WR: Reggie Wayne, Malcom Floyd, Johnny Knox, Mark Clayton Pick 1 flex from RBs/WRs Pick 1 DST: Green Bay Packers or Miami Dolphins
Answer: Since you're new here, Matthew, I'm going to cut you a little break. But I am not a big fan of answering defensive questions, since every team (outside of the Steelers) is essentially a dime-a-dozen asset in fantasyland. It's literally a coin flip when choosing between teams on any given Sunday. That aside, I'd go Romo at QB, MJD and Mendenhall at RB, Wayne and Mark Clayton at WR, Jamaal Charles as the Flex starter and the Packers defense.
Not to be morbid here, but I intentionally removed the Broncos from my "locks" lists after learning of Kenny McKinley's death on Monday. That's not to say Kyle Orton, Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas or Brandon Lloyd won't put up big numbers against Indy this week, I just have no sense of how Denver will perform in wake of the tragedy.
Until last week, Darren McFadden had never gone back-to-back games of 100-plus total yards. So, I must be crazy for thinking he can pull off the seemingly implausible in consecutive weeks, right? Wrong. If Jason Snelling can carve up the Arizona defense for 186 total yards and three TDs, there's hope for D-Mac collecting at least 105 yards and one score.
1. Dallas @ Houston 2. Indianapolis @ Denver 3. Green Bay @ Chicago 4. Washington @ St. Louis 5. San Francisco @ Kansas City
Saturday Night Live to bring back Eddie Murphy as its host for the Nov. 20 show, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Murphy's first appearance as a 19-year-old cast member on Nov. 22, 1980 (the legendary Malcolm McDowell was the host, and I believe Murphy's first skit depicted him as America's last black Republican).
Yes, I realize that Murphy was never part of either Lorne Michaels era (1975-80, 1985-present) and apparently departed the show on bad terms in February 1984 (for reasons unknown). But come on, this is a genuine -- and highly rated November sweeps -- opportunity for NBC to make amends with its most prodigious alum (with apologies to John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Andy Samberg, Amy Poehler, etc.) and give Murphy a Hall of Fame welcome back to 30 Rock -- the building, not the TV show.
Why am I bringing this up in Clicks? 1) Murphy was my childhood acting hero; 2) Murphy needs to promote the January release of A Thousand Words; 3) I wouldn't mind seeing the on-screen reunion of Murphy, Joe Piscopo and Tim Kazurinsky, and; 4) I needed a good lead-in to the following clips:
1. Pros And Cons (SI managing editor Terry McDonell makes a cameo)2. Velvet Jones School of Technology (why didn't EM reprise Velvet in Tom Hanks'Bachelor Party?)3. Mister Robinson's Neighborhood (ah, good to see Mr. Sweetchuck)4. Buckwheat Dead: America Mourns (I'm pretty sure Arsenio Hall is one of Buckwheat's bodyguards)5. The Little Richards Simmons Show (the line "Never wear battleship gray, 10,000 sailors will want to board you" is permanently burned into my brain)