Well, we’re now four weeks into the NFL season and that’s the quarter way point for almost every team. By now, we should have a pretty firm grasp on trends for players, right?
Not this season. Just when you think you know what you have, someone does an about face and makes you scratch you head.
|STAR| Case in point: Chris Johnson. After three weeks of stinking it up, the Titans running back decided to put all the bust talk behind him and poured in 141 yards on 25 carries, looking like the CJ that deserved to be a top eight pick in fantasy drafts. Sure, he didn’t find the end zone but this was against a strong Texans team defense. Yes, Houston had the game in hand but CH did most of his work early in this one while the game was still in doubt. But more importantly, he looked different. It felt different seeing him on the field. Now the question will be if this was a one-hit wonder or if he is back. We should find out quick next week against a stout Vikings defense that is 7th in the league, giving up just 85.3 yards per game this season.
|STAR| After throwing for just a pair of touchdowns in the Panthers first three games, the Cam Newton we grew to love last season made his first appearance, passing for two TD’s while rushing for 86 yards and a score. Now that’s more like it. But did we only get a quick glimpse? Possibly with Carolina hosting Seattle and their awesome defense which has shut down teams, especially rushing attacks. Oh Cam.
|STAR| Could the Miami Dolphins have a real, honest to goodness weapon at receiver? Don’t look now but Brian Hartline – yes, Brian Hartline! – has tore it up in two of the last three weeks. His latest performance saw him torch the Cardinals for a team record 253 yards on 12 catches. Plus, he finally got in the end zone for the first time of the season. I’m not sure if we’ll be talking about the tandem of Ryan Tannehill to Hartline in 20 years from now but for this season they are starting to build some major chemistry. Hartline still needs more consistency but he is quickly becoming a true fantasy starter.
|STAR| It looks like Michael Turner saw the big numbers his teammates had been putting up and thought “MY TURN!!!” He galloped 103 yards on just 13 carries and literally erupted for three catches and 68 yards and a TD. Whoa! Michael Turner can catch the ball! That number doubled his season total and may be the most catches he’ll have in a single game all season. Turner’s numbers will fluctuate all season with all the weapons the Falcons have so you’re still rolling the dice a bit by starting him. The best advice if you have him – trade him now. His fantasy stock won’t be higher and someone might pay big time for him.
|STAR| Peyton Manning has his arm strength back! Woohoo! Actually, I wouldn’t go that far since it wasn’t like he was connecting on 50 yard bombs. But Peyton doesn’t need to. His game is more about timing and accuracy and that’s what he did in carving up the Raiders, connecting on 30 of 38 passes for 338 yards and an impressive three touchdowns. And no interceptions. He’s should be licking his fingers while calling Poppa Bear in his travels to Foxboro next week against his arch nemesis Tom Brady and the Patriots who have had plenty of trouble against the pass.
|STAR| Ryan Mathews was a complete dud with 82 yards total from the line of scrimmage and has a better chance of dating Norv Turner’s daughter that the coach giving him the ball around the goal line at this point. That duty has been given to Jackie Battle. In the two games he has played, Mathews has been flat when he gets the ball and that hasn’t been much. Sure, he could get re-energized for one game with the Saints and their pathetic defense up next but Mathews cannot be counted on as a fantasy starter.
|STAR| And neither can Doug Martin anymore. The Bucs’ rookie has seen his numbers go down every week to just eight carries on Sunday and a total of 42 yards from scrimmage. Instead, it’s LeGarrette Blount get more touches and the more meaningful ones for Tampa Bay. The team is already bad on offense but is now about to give up on its running game altogether. At the start of the season, Martin looked like a star in the making but that has quickly died out.