Well would it be a week in the NFL without an injury to a star? Currently we don't know the extent of Ben Roethlisberger's left knee injury. To make matters worse for the Steelers, they only get a couple of days of rest as they have the Thursday night game in week 4. My guess is that Michael Vick will be the starting QB on Thursday, but we will keep you updated as we get more info. Not everything was bad though on Sunday, as we saw some great performances from guys you might not have guessed. Gronkowski isn't even in this article. I had a spot reserved for him all ready to go, but he just had to go out and only put up over 100 yards and no TD. Guess I get to write about some people for the first time this year instead.
Now that all but the Monday night game has been played, it is time for a weekly look at the top performers from the games on Sunday, and on Thursday. After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 3.
QB - Andy Dalton 383 Passing Yards, 10 Rushing Yards, 4 Total TD's (1 Rushing), 2 Turnovers, 30 Fantasy Points
So how do I do this? I don't think I have ever written anything positive about Andy Dalton. Mostly I would talk about his tunnel vision, and poor play in the spotlight. Well guess what guys, he wasn't in the spotlight. If Dalton isn't playing in a Night game, he is actually putting up great fantasy numbers. You can't keep ignoring him when he puts up numbers like this. The weapons that are at his disposal are great in Green, Jones, Eifert, Bernard, and Hill. I would rather have him than Bradford at the moment, and is going to be a borderline starter in 12 team, even 10 team leagues with outing like this.
QB - Cam Newton 315 Passing Yards, 33 Rushing Yards, 3 Total TD's (1 Rushing), 29 Fantasy Points
This marks two straight weeks that Newton has put together the type of game you would have expected the last two years. I wasn't nearly as worried about Newton's value when Benjamin went down, and that is proving to be the right move currently. The fact that he has been running even after signing that contract this offseason is great news. Making a case to try and creep up from just top 10 QB, to borderline top 5.
QB - Tyrod Taylor 277 Passing Yards, 12 Rushing Yards, 3 TD's, 24 Fantasy Points
In what looks like a great decision by Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor puts together another solid performance. Taylor is proving to be the perfect QB for a Rex Ryan led team. He isn't turning the ball over, and is being efficient when throwing it, or running. Even without much in the running game this week, Taylor did enough with his arm to make up for it. I would say that Taylor is putting himself in the top 15 QB's now, and is providing a reasonable floor when starting. A slightly better Alex Smith.
RB - Devonta Freeman 30 Carries for 141 Yards and 3 TD's, 5 Catches for 52 Yards, 37 Fantasy Points
The Tevin Coleman owners support group is meeting down the hall to the left. Don't worry you will be in a safe place with a lot of other frustrated Coleman owners. Before this game, I would have told you that Coleman, when healthy, would assume the role as the lead back, with Freeman being a change of pace guy. Now after Freeman puts up a performance like this, it's hard to say that will still be the case. Freeman looked great running the ball, and added some to the passing game as well. Look for this to continue to be a timeshare when both are healthy, with more work probably going to Freeman in the short term.
RB - Chris Johnson 22 Carries for 110 Yards and 2 TD's, 1 Catches for 40 Yards, 27 Fantasy Points
So did anyone watch this full game? The Arizona Cardinals are playing like they have something to prove. This week it was the defense, and Chris Johnson making that statement. Johnson actually showed flashes of the guy he was just 3 years ago. I don't expect games like this for him, or even anything close to it going forward. The 49ers just looked like they wanted the game to be over. A matchup with the Rams defense awaits next week, and I can't recommend him as anything more than a FLEX option.
RB - Joseph Randle 14 Carry for 87 Yards and 3 TD's, 2 Catches for 18 Yards, 27 Fantasy Points
This was the kind of running game you expect when you play behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Randle did go up against a weaker Atlanta defense, which helps inflate some stats. I am a little worried about his propensity to get caught for negative yards, or no gain. Seems like he could be a boom or bust guy this season. A top 20 guy every week though, and top 15 or even top 10 when the matchup dictates.
WR - A.J. Green 13 Targets, 10 Receptions for 227 Yards and 2 TD's, 34 Fantasy Points
I mean come on Green, at least try to make it fair. That 80 yard TD he scored was just unfair for the opposing defense. He is about as hard to tackle as a Running Back, and with his ball skills, how do you defend him? Green is a borderline top 5 option the rest of the way, as he is firmly in that elite tier.
WR - Steve Smith Sr. 17 Targets, 13 Receptions for 186 Yards and 2 TD's, 30 Fantasy Points
Joe Flacco is looking to throw the ball to Steve Smith, and he doesn't care who knows about it. Defenses can't seem to stop the connection between the two, and why would it? The routes that Smith is running makes it seem like he went back to his prime, as that is how sharp he is running his routes. Sure the topline speed is gone, but that doesn't matter in this offense the Ravens are running. Top 20 option for sure next week, and probably going forward.
WR - Julio Jones 20 Targets, 12 Receptions for 164 Yards and 2 TD's, 28 Fantasy Points
Well Julio Jones is in the same boat as Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski. This is just what you expect out of him. He will find himself on here many more times before the end of the season. It will be an interesting race between Jones and Brown to see who has the better fantasy year, especially if Roethlisberger is out for an extended period of time.
TE - Greg Olsen 11 Targets, 8 Receptions for 134 Yards and 2 TD's, 25 Fantasy Points
This is the Greg Olsen you drafted. It took a couple of weeks, but Olsen returned with a terrific game here. Cam Newton looked good the last couple of weeks, and I believe Olsen is still a top 5 TE the rest of the way. Newton will continue to look Olsen's way each week.
TE - Gary Barnidge 10 Targets, 6 Receptions for 105 Yards and 1 TD, 16 Fantasy Points
So this wasn't so much about Barnidge having a good game, but more so the Raiders can't guard the Tight End position. Through the first three weeks, the Raiders have allowed over 100 yards a game, and a total of 5 TD's. That is great news for Martellus Bennett next week, and all other Tight Ends playing against the Raiders in the near future. Barnidge is someone who will revert back to being a borderline top 20-25 play each week going forward, unless the Browns have Josh McCown throw the ball almost 50 times again.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Sam Bradford 118 Passing Yards, 1 TD, 8 Fantasy Points
What is going on with Sam Bradford? Is this just his true talent? I thought getting into a new system with better receivers would help him succeed, but boy have I been proven wrong so far. He is falling farther down the QB ranks for me with each game like this, and I hope you either have a good backup, or someone is out on the waiver wire you can play next week. I wouldn't drop Bradford if you had someone else you can drop, but there is almost no way I am starting him after this performance and the two preceding it.
RB - Ryan Mathews 25 Carries for 101 Yards, 2 Catches for 20 Yards and 1 TD, 1 Fumble Lost, 16 Fantasy Points
With DeMarco Murray ruled inactive before the game, Mathews was the guy called upon to be the starter. I have always loved the talent of Ryan Mathews, I have just always had injury concerns with him. Well this outing is something to behold, as the Eagles had struggled to run the ball the first two weeks. With Mathews having success this week, this should make the Running Back rotation harder on Chip Kelly going forward. If you won DeMarco Murray I would be worried, as Mathews may start to take more touches away from him going forward.
TE - Delanie Walker 10 Targets, 7 Receptions for 68 Yards, 6 Fantasy Points
We saw Fasano put up a big game last week with Walker out, yet Walker's overall statline this week pales in comparison. Don't worry about Walker, as this statline is good news. Mariota looks to his Tight End often, and with that will come the numbers. The yardage output is something you can expect on a week to week basis. Now add in a TD for some of these weeks, and he makes a great starting option at TE. If you own Walker, as long as he is healthy you don't need a backup until his bye week.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.