When I talked this preseason about the quarterback class being deep, this is what I meant.
With three games to go we already had 15 quarterbacks with multiple passing touchdowns. Sure, Peyton Manning blew everyone out of the water, but you could’ve started Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer or Andy Dalton and probably today been happier than the Tom Brady and Matt Ryan owners considering what was expected of the two of them. And what’s more, EJ Manuel and Terrelle Pryor went from unknowns to matchup plays and bye-week fill-ins. In dynasty leagues, both should probably be grabbed now.
Same goes for Julius Thomas, not that you needed me to tell you that. But I should note—we more than likely saw his best game of the season on Thursday night. He’s the fourth option at best in the passing game, and Manning is going to settle in the 2-4 touchdowns per night range post haste. Plus, if they want to truly be a Super Bowl contender, they’ll need to get that running game going.
Turns out there’s still some tread on Anquan Boldin’s tires. Next week is a bit dicey going against last year’s best defense at limiting wide receiver fantasy scoring, but how to you bench a guy that just got targeted 17 times and topped 200 yards? What’ll really be interesting is how things get divvied up once Michael Crabtree is back at full strength—though that may not be until next season.
Zach Sudfeld disappointed a few fantasy owners this week with his goose-egg, including myself. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman grabbed a pair of touchdowns, and Kenbrell Thompkins was targeted 14 times. There are enough decent tight ends out there at this point that I’m not going to advocate starting Sudfeld again. That’s not to say he couldn’t go out and get 10 targets next week, but Brady’s obviously comfortable with Edelman has his lone holdover from last year’s receiving corps until Rob Gronkowski gets back. And once that happens, we’ll get a good idea of what the coaching staff really thinks of Sudfeld. But honestly, I’m more interested in how this running game will shake out.
My hope is that Bill Belichick’s message was received by Stevan Ridley, who was benched after his second-quarter fumble. Shane Vereen got most of the work thereafter and looked good doing it. If Belichick liked what he saw too, Ridley owners could be in for a previously unexpected timeshare for the foreseeable future. Great news for Vereen owners! (UPDATE: Vereen is out for 3-4 weeks after breaking a bone in his wrist. Great news for Ridley owners?)
Speaking of running back situations, the one in Miami is of personal interest to me as I wound up with Lamar Miller in three leagues. To be fair, none of the Dolphins backs looked good as the team couldn’t run the ball at all. Miller got 11 touches to Daniel Thomas’ nine, but Thomas got the fourth quarter goal-line look. For now, I wouldn’t start either guy until we get more information or hear something definitive from coach Joe Philbin.
I would, however, start both Detroit running backs if need be, as Joique Bell showed he’s a handcuff with benefits. I wouldn’t expect the Lions to produce an excess of goal-line opportunities, but it looks like Bell will get them—and also plenty of work in the passing game. Bell can be added in most leagues, and certainly be a replacement for Shonn Greene if you rostered him. Jackie Battle got the goal-line look for Tennessee despite Greene having a couple runs earlier in the drive.
At wide receiver, I’m curious to see how the Indianapolis situation continues to play out. The Colts should’ve been able to throw all over the Raiders, but while Andrew Luck was having a good fantasy day, TY Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey were combining for 53 yards on six catches. And while Dwayne Allen sneaked in some value with a touchdown, he and Coby Fleener still just managed three combined targets. I’m not worried, but I am on alert.
I like what I saw from Jared Cook—minus getting stripped at the goal line of course. He’s an early front-runner to be best of that secondary bunch of tight ends after Witten, Gonzo and Davis. And finally, welcome back Larry Fitzgerald. I expected Palmer would do plenty of good for Fitzy, but they obviously got on the same page even quicker than expected. He’s officially back on my “do not bench” list.