Whether it's the proliferation of passing, abhorrent officiating, incredible displays of kicking prowess or just simply parity creating evenly matched teams, this has been one of the most exciting seasons in memory. A prime example was the wild and wacky tilt in Tennessee between the Lions and Titans. The two teams slugged it out for more than four quarters, seemingly burying the other on multiple occasions only to see the advantages evaporate. Not even the loss of Matthew Stafford could stop the scoring spree.
Who came out of Week 3 with their fantasy fortunes dashed? Who emerged with their outlooks a little brighter. Stafford and his new lead running back Mikel Leshoure are just two players who make our position-by-position look at the biggest risers and fallers in fantasy from this weekend.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions -- Detroit's second round selection from the 2011 draft rushed 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. The former starter, Kevin Smith didn't see a touch as backup/breather duties went to football journeyman Joique Bell. If Leshoure is available in your league he's an instant pickup.
Andre Brown, Giants -- Since taking over for an injured Ahmad Bradshaw, Brown has toted the rock 33 times for 184 yards and three scores, including an impressive 20 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns against one of his many former teams, the Panthers. Meanwhile, shunned rookie David Wilson has managed a mere two offensive touches for a single net yard. The Giants are used to the Thunder and Lightning running back concept, so don't fear the return of Bradshaw from his neck woes. Brown is in it for the long haul.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins -- Thomas has come a long way from being reprimanded for a lack of effort by head coach Joe Philbin in a "private" meeting in front of millions of HBO viewers on Hard Knocks. On Sunday, filling in for an injured Reggie Bush. Thomas is averaging 3.6 yards per carry and will be the lead back for Miami while Bush is sidelined by a knee injury. Rookie Lamar Miller is also an intriguing option in Miami's backfield while Bush sits, but Thomas is expected to get a bulk of the work and is the better play next week against the surging Cardinals.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- There's no doubt left that Charles is fully recovered from reconstructive knee surgery after he shredded the Saints for 288 yards from scrimmage, his second 200-plus yard game of his career (259 vs. Den. in 2010). Depending on how Seattle's Marshawn Lynch fares Monday against the Packers, Charles will enter Week 4 as the league's top or second-leading rusher, averaging 0.1 yards per carry below his career mark of 6.0. This is the player I ranked No. 1 overall in fantasy prior to last season.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots -- He was solid the first two weeks in gaining 196 yards. But Sunday night he took more than a few steps back. Rookie Brandon Bolden vultured a touchdown away while scrappy Danny Woodhead received two more handoffs on the night than Ridley. It's not time to panic, but Bill Belichick is a pro at frustrating fantasy owners just when it seems like something is working for you.
Daryl Richardson, Rams -- Easy come, easy go. Up until gametime in Week 3 it appeared as if Richardson would get the nod as the Rams starter in place of an injured Steven Jackson. Alas, SJax played (and played well), relegating Richardson to a mere 16 yards on four carries. He's a good handcuff for Jackson owners or those banking on an injury from the St. Louis veteran, but with bye weeks approaching, his roster spot is more wisely used elsewhere.
Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers -- Pittsburgh goes on bye week and when they return it's expected that Rashard Mendenhall will be ready to make his season's debut in an offense that has all but abandoned the running game. In part, that's due to the play-calling of Todd Haley, but also in part to a banged up offensive line and the ineffectiveness of a pair of backs who combined for 13 carries and 26 yards against a previously-porous Oakland defense. Having any Steelers back was a good idea, but the execution didn't live up to expectations. Time to move on.
Chris Johnson, Titans -- We'd be remiss to not mention Johnson, who now is averaging 1.4 yards per run and has fewer rushing yards on the season than among the fleet-footed trio of Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and Matt Cassel.
Ramses Barden, Giants -- The 6-foot-6 Barden had the game of his life in Charlotte, shredding the Panthers secondary for nine catches and 138 yards. He's in position to take over third-wideout duties for Eli Manning, which is a boon to anyone's fantasy value.
Aldrick Robinson, Redskins -- With Pierre Garcon troubled by a bad foot and his replacement Leonard Hankerson slowed by a bad back, Robinson is in line to become Robert Griffin III's most favored receiver over the next game or so. That's not a bad position to be in.
Wes Welker, Patriots -- Welcome back to the mainstream, Slot Machine. Aaron Hernandez's injury helped Welker escape from Bill Belichick's maximum security benching. He posted very Welkerian numbers -- eight catches for 142 yards -- while drawing the attention of Baltimore's best defenders all night.
Andrew Hawkins, Bengals -- For the second straight game the Bengals' diminutive slot man caught just two balls but managed to reach the end zone. He's an electric player who is a threat to score on every touch.
Randy Moss, 49ers">49ers -- Caught up in a numbers game on a run-first team, Moss's return to Minnesota was less than triumphant, managing just three catches for 27 yards in San Francisco's loss. He's likely good for an occasional touchdown or big catch, but he isn't someone to count on for weekly productivity.
Stephen Hill, Jets -- The Week 1 darling was targeted seven times against Miami and came up with a goose egg.
Heath Miller, Steelers -- Ben Roethlisberger has made it a goal to get Miller to the Pro Bowl, and so far the veteran tight end is holding up his end of the bargain, with 15 catches -- four for touchdowns -- this season.
Martellus Bennett, Giants -- On Thursday he became the first player in Giants history to catch touchdown passes in his first three games. The former Cowboy is yet another dangerous weapon at Eli Manning's disposal.
Fred Davis, Redskins -- He found himself on many waiver wires following two straight games with very little production, but his seven-catch, 90-yard game against the Bengals shows that RG3 has him in his sights. Scoop him up if available.
Tony Moeaki, Chiefs -- He was a virtual no-show for the third straight week. Once promising, he's not someone who you need to keep track of unless you play in a three tight end league.
Kellen Winslow Jr., Patriots -- You know who you are, those of you who thought you'd be sneaky and signed Winslow believing he'd be in line for Aaron Hernandez's catches. Well, you outsmarted yourself because he's fourth on New England's depth chart at the position and is likely just a matter of weeks away from being cut by his third team this season.
Andy Dalton, Bengals -- The Redskins played without Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but Dalton averaged 12.2 yards per pass attempt and looked like a seasoned veteran more than a second-year pro. I'd want in my lineup this week in Jacksonville if I normally start Ben Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck (both on byes).
Jake Locker, Titans -- The athletic Locker out-dueled Matthew Stafford in Week 3, throwing for a career-high 378 yards with three touchdown passes. He also chipped in 35 rushing yards. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington back at full strength and no rushing game to speak of, Locker may be having more and more of these type games in the near future.
Matt Schaub, Texans -- He lost part of his ear lobe against the Broncos but he got back his status as one of fantasy football's better quarterbacks after throwing for four touchdowns in Denver. This week he gets a crack at a Titans defense that allowed a combined 450 passing yards to the Lions yesterday.
Sam Bradford, Rams -- Just when it appeared that Bradford would be taking that next step he throws in a 152-yard, two-interception clunker against the Bears. He threw for 20 fewer yards than Detroit's reliever Shaun Hill on 22 more attempts.
Cam Newton, Panthers -- We're guessing it's just a hiccup, but Newton has just two touchdown passes against five picks this season. He looked completely lost against a Giants secondary that at times made Josh Freeman look like an All Pro.