Charles in charge, LeShoure stars, Week 3 notes, Week 4 observations

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And, when you're done giving it to him, pass it to him.

Jamaal Charles, welcome back to fantasy prominence.

Sure, it was just the Saints porous run defense, but Charles wasn't healthy enough to get more than six carries the week prior. Not only did Charles' reconstructed knee prove healthy enough for 33 carries, 233 rushing yards and a 91-yard touchdown run this Sunday, he was able to relegate time-share back Peyton Hillis to being a non-factor.

Hillis was supposed to split carries with him 50-50 and take the goal-line touches. Instead, Hillis mustered just three carries for 11 yards, while Charles carried the load like he never has before and even added six catches for 55 yards.

Charles, you are in charge and, along with Chiefs playcallers, we no longer hate you in fantasy.

Here are the rest of the newsmakers in the Week 3 Fantasy Football Fast Forward:

1. He sure looks like a LeShoure thing -- In a bit of a surprise, the Lions started Mikel LeShoure coming off a two-game suspension and a 2011-season-costing Achilles' injury. And, they didn't even bother to give their previous starter, Kevin Smith, a sniff of a touch.

LeShoure is now a must-have in fantasy after his 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. He added four catches for 34 yards in the passing game, too.

In one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, LeShoure has arrived as a feature back.

Jahvid Best (PUP list, post-concussion syndrome) might eventually return in the second half of the season, but LeShoure clearly is the Lions' RB of choice for the coming weeks.

The bad news is he faces some strong run defenses -- and has a bye Week 5.

2. CJNoK please just go away -- Let's consider Chris Johnson a nobody in fantasy. Held to just 24 yards on 14 carries, he makes the Titans' running game worthless.

It figures to only get worse in the coming weeks, too. The Titans go to Houston to face one of the elite run defenses, then face an underrated Vikings run defense in Minnesota and, in Week 6, the run-stuffing Steelers come to town.

Not until Week 8 at the Colts does there look like an opportunity to start Johnson again. You have to be beyond frustrated already but sell, sell, sell -- even if you have to sell low. It is going to be worse before it gets better.

Now, if you have a stable of backs and don't need to start Johnson until the second half of the season, then maybe you buy low on him and stash him in depths of your bench. Don't dare start this guy for the next month.

3. Back to being Bush league? -- Reggie Bush has looked like a fantasy superstar through 2½ games, but he left with a knee injury that clouds his status for Week 4. There are three reasons to worry about Bush right now:

a. His knee issue may not be serious, but it does signal perhaps he is not suited to be a full feature back. There are still lingering questions about that, despite his 2011 campaign and huge Week 2.

b. Daniel Thomas is healthy again, taking goal-line carries -- scoring a short TD this week and rushing 19 times for 69 yards -- and is capable of spelling Bush for all or parts of games going forward. Also, rookie Lamar Miller (9-48) is about as capable of a third-string back as there is in fantasy.

c. A Week 4 matchup at Arizona looks incredibly tough. The Dolphins offense isn't good enough to trust on the road against even a decent defense, especially with rookie Ryan Tannehill's slow learning curve.

If you add up the above, you cannot be like having Bush on your team right now -- regardless of the status of his knee.

4. Andre the Giant takes off -- Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) owners have to be sweating, because Andre Brown's performance Thursday night made it look like he could be a new kind of pain in the neck for the veteran. Brown went for 113 yards and two TDs, showing the Giants might just have a viable running game after all.

Bradshaw reportedly can be ready for Week 4, because of the extra rest, but Brown looks capable of taking a chunk of touches. Brown is a bruising back that might even be a factor in the red zone, even if Bradshaw does the lifting between the 20s.

"I'm just going to ride this wave," Brown said. "Hopefully, it's a long wave."

At least that wasn't a wasted first-priority waiver pick-up.

5. Now it's a Spiller chiller -- C.J. Spiller has been the fantasy revelation for a few weeks, but he might not be able to shoulder the load now. After scoring on a 32-yard TD pass, he left with a shoulder injury that allowed third RB Tashard Choice to rush for 91 yards on 20 carries.

Choice is now one of the premium waiver pick-ups, depending on Spiller and Fred Jackson's (knee) health. If Spiller is out for Week 4 against the Pats, you might consider Choice if you have an RB on bye. That is a very good Pats run defense, though.

Kevin Kolb might have done the most significant thing in his career when he decided to throw to Larry Fitzgerald. Kolb went for 222 yards and two scores, but most important he made Fitzgerald a star again. Fitz reeled in nine receptions for 114 yards and a TD, beating an Eagles defense that has great corners.

It represents a veritable sigh of relief for owners of Fitzgerald, who is the only regular fantasy starter for the surprising Cardinals (save for the emerging D/ST).

Ryan Williams rebounded from his late fumble against the Pats to rush for 83 yards, putting some distance between himself and Beanie Wells as the primary ball carrier. Neither will be a viable start against a very good Dolphins run defense next week.

But at least the Cardinals finally have something with Fitzgerald.

Sam Bradford and company looked like a good offense last week against the Redskins. They looked worthless against the Bears.

It wasn't just Bradford either. Steven Jackson got just 29 yards on 11 carries and rookie backup Daryl Richardson did little in reserve, too.

We mention this in prominent space because the Rams' road looks unfairly unforgiving. Take a look at these defenses on tap: Week 4 vs. Seattle, Week 5 vs. Arizona, Week 6 at Miami (yes, the Dolphins play good defense, especially against the run), Week 7 vs. Green Bay, Week 8 vs. the Patriots, Week 9 bye, Week 10 at San Francisco, Week 11 vs. the N.Y. Jets, Week 12 at Arizona and Week 13 vs. San Francisco.

That does it for the fantasy regular season.

Shop, trade or even cut all of your Rams. This potentially promising season looks like it is headed for the tank.

One of the best teams in football dropped to 0-3. They are so much of a mess, Darren Sproles -- the leading receiving back in the league -- didn't even catch a pass.

And Sproles rushed seven times, taking carries from backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. It should have been a good week for the Saints backs against the Chiefs run defense that was ripped by Spiller a week ago.

Marques Colston hasn't done a thing. Jimmy Graham caught a TD but was mostly taken out of the game otherwise. Lance Moore, a week after doing nothing himself, wound up being the leading receiver with four catches for 70 yards and a TD.

We used to hate figuring out the Saints' best fantasy players because they spread the ball around so much, but now it has reached an all-time low.


• Matthew Stafford, Lions -- He was already proving to be a disappointment, if not an early-round bust, but now we have to add injury to insults. Stafford left in the fourth quarter with a leg injury and might not be a great play against the revived Vikings next week. Stay tuned.

• Cam Newton, Panthers -- You have to be thinking sophomore slump if you drafted Newton, but that shouldn't change the fact you have to keep running them out there. The Week 4 game at Atlanta should at least become a shootout, even if Newton and the Panthers fall to 1-3.

• Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers -- That was a matchup to take advantage of and Big Ben did with almost 400 yards and four TDs. You have to find a starter for him in Week 4 during his bye, but even a good Eagles defense with elite corners shouldn't scare you off from using him in Week 5. Big Ben does a great job making consistent fantasy stars out of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.

• Michael Vick, Eagles -- Another week on the roller coaster for Vick owners. Next week should prove to be better in the passing game against a shaky Giants secondary. Jeremy Maclin should be back, while DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek will be better plays.

• Tony Romo, Cowboys -- That is now back-to-back awful weeks for your starting QB. Check that, your backup QB. Barring bye-week issues, we probably have to move Romo back to being a marginal fantasy starter. That was a Bucs defense that made a roster full of stars when they played the Giants in Week 2.

• Philip Rivers, Chargers -- He was one of the biggest busts of the week, but the Chiefs matchups next week is a potentially tasty one. Keep him active, even if Antonio Gates is banged up and Robert Meachem is struggling to move the needle.

• Matt Schaub, Texans -- The quintessential fantasy backup QB looks like he might be a starter for you after his four-TD performance. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels are every-week fantasy-worth starters, while Kevin Walter (3-73-1) and a great running game certainly help Schaub stay at least consistent, if not spectacular like he was Sunday in Denver.

• Peyton Manning, Broncos -- You really didn't think he was done after that three-interception effort in Atlanta on Monday night, did you? That was a great fantasy game against a very good Texans defense. You should feel great about Manning and all your Broncos against the Raiders next week.

• Carson Palmer, Raiders -- He doesn't have a go-to receiver, but he does have a potentially great running game and he spreads the ball around nicely. Consider Palmer a starter-quality option next week in what should be a shootout against the Broncos.

• Jay Cutler, Bears -- His breakthrough season just isn't going the way it should be and it might get worse against those elite Cowboys corners next week. Don't start this guy, if you can afford to bench him. Outside of Brandon Marshall, who draws a lot of double teams, Cutler just doesn't have enough weapons in the passing game with Matt Forte (ankle) out. Rookie Alshon Jeffery isn't there yet, so Cutler isn't going to be posting starter-quality numbers for fantasy owners, even in favorable matchups right now.

• Alex Smith, 49ers -- We shouldn't have been sucked in by this game-manager. Sure, there will be weeks where he scores fantasy points because his team can be dominant at times, but that loss at Minnesota showed he cannot lead his team from behind and own the game through the air. Smith is closer to cutting than starting for fantasy owners, despite his promising start to the season.

• Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills -- Maybe the questions about the Bills QB are unfounded. He is off to another scorching start on the season and he draws the Patriots in Week 4, which could lead to a shootout. He is worth owning in all leagues and is a potential starter if you have a higher-rated QB on bye. We would say he's earned all-league starter status if not for that disappearing act a year ago.

• Jake Locker, Titans -- This was an impressive performance, making fantasy stars out of Nate Washington and tight end Jared Cook and a sleeper out of Kenny Britt. Locker won't be someone to consider next week against the Texans, but at least we can feel better about his primary targets now.

• Josh Freeman, Buccaneers -- It should have been apparent already, but Freeman is no better than a low-end fantasy backup QB. That 2010 season looks like a fluke.

• Brandon Weeden, Browns -- After a great Week 3, Weeden looked closer to his Week 1 self. It makes Greg Little and even rookie RB Trent Richardson less viable for fantasy owners. You probably don't want to be starting any Browns on the short week, facing that Ravens defense Thursday night.

• Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars -- Sure, he staged another dramatic fourth-quarter rally, but he does nothing for most of the game. His inability to get the ball downfield makes rookie Justin Blackmon, WR Laurent Robinson and TE Marcedes Lewis hardly worth owning, much less starting.

• Tim Tebow, Jets -- Let's call it: Tebow is a waste of roster space. With bye weeks starting, you should release Tebow from all rosters for someone that can help you. He just isn't involved enough in the offense. Cut him.

Running backs

• Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- After a stinker in Week 2, A.D. held up well against that rugged 49ers run defense. It makes Peterson a must-start in all leagues in all weeks, regardless of the matchup going forward.

• Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- It is official: MJD is no holdout bust. After he rushed for 177 yards and a TD, you have to consider MJD one of the few RBs in fantasy immune to a bad matchup. Week 4 vs. the Bengals is not a great matchup, but you're never going to sit a healthy MJD now.

• Darren McFadden, Raiders -- So much for those zone-blocking scheme questions. That 64-yard TD run to open up against the Steelers is an example of why you start McFadden regardless of the matchup.

• Michael Turner, Falcons -- He might not impress in touches or yardage, but as the bell cow in that offense, he remains a viable starter because of his goal-line back status. Jacquizz Rodgers took a reception in for a score, but speedy backup isn't a real threat to Turner's rushing attempts at this point.

• Ryan Matthews, Chargers -- His return was met with one big "Meh." He lost a fumble and was limited to 10 carries for 44 yards. The good news for PPR leagues is Mathews was the leading receiver out of the backfield with five catches for 32 yards.

• Shonn Greene, Jets -- He was brutally bad against a tough Dolphins run defense, rushing 19 times for just 40 yards and giving way to backup Bilal Powell. Powell was better on 10 carries for 45 yards, but neither back is going to muster much of anything against the 49ers run defense next week.

• Donald Brown, Colts -- This was supposed to be his coming-out party against a Jags defense that had been awful against backs the first two weeks. He was limited to just 62 yards on the ground, although he did take a pass for 39 yards. He is on bye next week and is going to be a bad start against the underrated Packers run defense in Week 5. Maybe it is time to deal him off.

• Isaac Redman, Steelers -- That running game is putrid and now Redman and Dwyer figure to give way to Rashard Mendenhall (knee) after the Week 4 bye. You can cut Redman and Dwyer to take some other fliers now. They had their chance to do something and choked it away.

• Dexter McCluster, Chiefs -- He might have cost himself a spot on fantasy rosters this week. He lost a fumble, caught just three passes and ran once for five yards, before leaving with an elbow injury. He is an uncertain member of fantasy rosters -- mostly benches -- right now. With bye weeks upon us, you can consider cutting him for the flavor of the week pick-up or a bye-week replacement.

Wide receivers

• Wes Welker, Patriots -- Welcome back! You should never have gone into purgatory for a couple of weeks. Welker is once again the PPR monster he had always been and should be counted on as a starting fantasy receiver, except for touchdowns.

• Torrey Smith, Ravens -- Sunday night offered an example of what Smith can do. With Joe Flacco capable of becoming a star fantasy quarterback, Smith is going to be a huge beneficiary. Consider Smith a potential top-15 fantasy wideout now. Those up-and-down weeks are going to smooth out as the season wears on.

• Golden Tate, Seahawks -- Regardless of whether you think that simultaneous catch Monday night was cheap, Tate was credited with two touchdowns. It makes him the Seahawks receiver of choice over the quiet Sidney Rice. But no Seahawks receiver is going to be a great option outside of being a desperation bye-week replacement with rookie QB Russell Wilson.

• Julian Edelman, Patriots -- He is still getting opportunities and he reeled in a rare touchdown, but he cannot be counted on week to week yet. Consider him merely a bye-week stopgap when the byes get heavy soon.

• Santonio Holmes, Jets -- Those who have been down on Holmes are foolish. He is easily the best receiver and one of the more dominant No. 1s for his team in the NFL. He went for nine receptions and 147 yards. You should consider him a starter in most leagues on a regular basis. He shouldn't be available in almost one-fifth of's leagues. He will be one of the most-added players off waivers.

• Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- He found the end zone but was knocked out of the game, literally, and has to be considered a non-start against the Broncos next week ... if he even plays.

• Denarius Moore, Raiders -- A TD and DHB's status makes Moore an intriguing option as a starter next week in standard leagues.

• Andrew Hawkins, Bengals -- OK, we cannot be stubborn with this 2012 breakout candidate anymore. He scored a 59-yard TD and looks like a solid option against the Jaguars in Week 4.

• Randy Moss, 49ers -- We have said it before, but we will say it again to allow it to really set in: Moss isn't worth owning in fantasy. No more to be said here. Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are the San Francisco receivers to own.

• Santana Moss, Redskins -- He reeled in a short TD, but he is getting limited snaps and limited targets. Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are better options for fantasy owners needing a sleeper at WR from the Redskins right now.

• Brian Hartline, Dolphins -- Save for a 41-yard reception in overtime, Hartline was a non-factor for fantasy owners. It was Davone Bess taking in five catches for 86 yards. Don't start any Dolphins receivers against the Cardinals next week.

• Ramses Barden, Giants -- The lanky fill-in for Hakeem Nicks starred against the Panthers with nine catches for 138 yards. He won't be useful when Nicks plays -- which will be the case in Week 4 against the Eagles -- but you might want to stash him just in case something happens to Nicks or Victor Cruz.

• T.Y. Hilton, Colts -- The rookie enjoyed a huge breakthrough with four catches for 113 yards, including a 40-yard TD. That came despite the fact Austin Collie (concussion) was active and Donny Avery started. Hilton is talented, but he is too far down the depth chart to be trusted in fantasy week to week. Don't bother taking a flier on him yet. He is headed into his bye week and you cannot expect to start him against the Packers secondary in Week 5.

• Cecil Shorts, Jaguars -- For the second time in three weeks, Shorts scored a miraculous TD in the waning moments. It might make him someone to look at, but it is hard to trust these big plays happening going forward. Because Shorts gets just a few targets a game, you probably shouldn't even bother owning him.

• T.J. Graham, Bills -- The speedy rookie got off the inactive list when David Nelson (knee) went down for the season and he found the end zone in Week 3. Graham was left wide open by a breakdown in the defense, but he can prove to be a sleeper in the second half of this season -- maybe even be a bye-week replacement option at some point.

Tight ends

• Rob Gronkowski, Patriots -- It is not yet panic time for Gronk owners. He merely was quieted in a tough matchup. Frankly, the Pats don't have too many tough matchups on their schedule this season. Gronk is going to be fine. Don't sell low.

• Dennis Pitta, Ravens -- He has so clearly blown away Ed Dickson as the go-to tight end in Baltimore now, Pitta has to be owned, if not started, in all leagues.

• Fred Davis, Redskins -- He made a return to fantasy pertinence with seven catches for 90 yards. With Pierre Garcon (foot) out, Davis is Robert Griffin III's best target. He should be considered a viable start, if not a must-start, against the Bucs in Week 4.

• Jermaine Gresham, Bengals -- With five catches for 64 yards and a TD, he looks like a must-have, if not a must-start, in fantasy again. That is a great matchup against the Jags next week for his owners.

• Martellus Bennett, Giants -- He became the first Giant to score a TD in each of his first three games. It makes him one of the must-have, must-start TEs in fantasy. Just looking at this oozing talent, you have to think he might develop into a top-five option.

• Jared Cook, Titans -- He enjoyed a breakthrough game before leaving with a shoulder injury. He did enough for this week with four catches for 77 yards and a 61-yard TD catch and run. Watch his health on the injury report for next week, although that is a tough matchup against the Texans defense.

• Kyle Rudolph, Vikings -- Those were merely short TD catches, but the fact he is his team's second-best target behind Percy Harvin makes Rudolph a solid fantasy starter in most weeks. If he can score twice against that 49ers defense, we have to consider him a TE immune to a bad matchup now.

• Greg Olsen, Panthers -- Don't give up on him, even if others might be finding the end zone at this position. He will be one of the most heavily targeted TEs in the game because of Newton's functionality and the fact they don't have elite options on the outside (Steve Smith is past his prime).

• Coby Fleener, Colts -- Not only was he held without a catch, but also fellow rookie TE Dwayne Allen reeled in five passes for 35 yards. We cannot yet call Allen a viable fantasy roster option, but it is clear we shouldn't be starting Fleener in leagues. You probably don't even have to own him during the bye season. Pick up someone above that gets more targets.


• Robbie Gould, Bears -- A great defense and a QB in Cutler struggling to stick the ball in the end zone make Gould one of the premium fantasy kickers to have right now. Pick him up if you need a bye week replacement. You will be fine with Gould as your kicker for the long haul.

Defense/Special teams

• Seattle Seahawks -- They proved they can knock out one of the best offenses in football after slowing the Cowboys and Packers at home over the last two weeks. Next week they get the suspect Rams, which makes them a must-start in all leagues.

• Cowboys -- That performance was impressive, making this one of the best units to have in fantasy now -- a must-start in all matchups. They have a great defensive coordinator that has two great corners to work with. That is a lethal combination.

• 49ers -- That was a pitiful effort for a fantasy defense that should be at the top of the scoring charts, not the bottom. You cannot give up on it, but consider dealing it to go with a matchup-streaming strategy isn't a bad idea.

• Giants -- That was quite a beating they put on Newton and showed this unit isn't done being a fantasy starter. It is a tough matchup at Philly in Week 4, but it was thought the short week against the Panthers would be tough, too. You have to run them out there.

• Bears -- Beating on the Rams might not have moved the needle for you, but the Bears defense looked like a dominant unit. They are headed for a strong couple of weeks against the struggling Cowboys and then the Jaguars.

• Cardinals -- So, that win in New England was no fluke. This is a legit hell-raising defense worth starting in all fantasy leagues. This realization comes in the week before Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins come to town with a banged-up Bush. Hello, must-start Cardinals D/ST.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for You find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).