Every week there are a few surprises that make us rethink what we know (or think we know, anyway) about player and team values going into the rest of the season. Because it's so early in the season a lot can still change but it's important to stay on top of it. Let me help out with a little analysis from this week's surprises..
- Joe Flacco put up 327 yards and 3 TD's against Carolina.. that makes him the #10 overall QB in standard scoring fantasy leagues so far this year. Their next few matchups are against the Colts, Bucs and Falcons - all of which are in the bottom 3rd of passing defenses so far this year. Great bye week fill-in, or possible week-to-week starter for the rest of the season? Doesn't matter, really.. if you need him for a bye week, grab him now. Otherwise, hold on to him for the next few weeks and sell him as high as possible (this holds mostly true in 2 QB or very deep leagues)!
- Jerick McKinnon breaks out with 18 carries fro 135 yards and 1 reception for 17 yards against the Falcons. Matt Asiata is still the starter, but is averaging less than 3.4 yards a carry through the first 4 weeks. We're likely to see some sort of split between Asiata and McKinnon now with Asiata being the more desirable back on passing downs and McKinnon the clear winner between the tackles. Jerick is an athletic freak and should be picked up for upside in just about every league.
- Steve Smith may be 35, but he's an absolute stud and showed it out there against his former team. Putting up 7 receptions for 139 yards and 2 TD's delivered on his 'blood and guts' promise. I still think we can expect a slowdown toward the middle and end of the season based purely on his age but this guy is a fighter and every-week WR2 from here on out. If Flacco can get both Smiths on track at the same time, the Ravens are an awfully dangerous team.
- Martellus Bennett has surprised everyone this year but his production (9 for 134 against the Packers on Sunday and the fantasy points leader with 53 to Jimmy Graham's 50 in standard leagues) may not be sustainable. We only have to look at stud WR Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery's numbers here to see what's going on: both generally picked to be top-10 receivers in the preseason, Marshall is currently #13 (42.4) and Jeffery #22 (34.7). With Marshall slightly hobbled and Jeffery also having issues earlier this season (he looks alright now) I expect a regression for Bennett back to Earth and a boost for Jeffery while Marshall gets right.
- Cowboys look GREAT, Patriots look terrible out there.. Romo was the 7th highest fantasy scorer out there this week with 262 yards and 3 TD's. Murray is currently the best RB in the NFL and Bryant and Williams look great. Witten had his best game of the year with 5 receptions for 61 yards but still hasn't seen the end-zone.
Meanwhile, Brady and Co. were abyssmal with no one performing at their expected levels except for Brandon LaFell who looked comfortable out there and put up 6 receptions for 119 yards and 1 TD. Is the Chiefs defense back in business, or are we witnessing the fall of the great Tom Brady? He did say that he would play until he sucked.. well? Brady?
Eh, we'll expect to see him under center again this week vs. the Bengals but we no longer have faith in Brady or the Patriots in general on a consistent basis until they can show us otherwise. That said, Gronkowski is averaging a TD per game and Edelman is averaging over 6 catches per game so yeah.. keep those guys in.