After completing the third week of the NFL season a few things are clear. The quarterback position is producing results that very few could have predicted. The running back position is losing a player for the season while another is being asked to switch to the defensive side of the football. At the wide receivers spot there are some interesting numbers as well. Not to the level of the quarterback position, but still some interesting stuff. As for tight ends, well heck, there are some interesting things going on there. Who knew?
Remember when you were all convinced that taking a quarterback in round one or two of the draft was a good idea? Well, maybe, not so much. At least so far. Right now, here are some interesting facts that are continuing to shine a light on the fact that it's not always necessary to take a signal caller early in drafts (I've only been suggesting so for a decade now).
RGIII is the #1 quarterback in fantasy even though he was drafted outside the top-10.
Ben Roethlisberger is the #3 QB in fantasy even though he was drafted outside the top-10.
Andy Dalton is the #7 QB in fantasy even though he was drafted outside the top-10.
Carson Palmer is the #10 QB in fantasy even though he was drafted outside the top-10.
Now it's only been three weeks so we shouldn't be making any snap judgments of course, there's still more than three quarters of the season left, but it's been a vexing start for the position. Not only have some guys come out of nowhere, there is also an equally long list of “elite” quarterbacks who have fallen on hard times through three weeks. The following were the top-5 at the position based on ADP numbers.
Aaron Rodgers: The 22nd ranked QB has failed to record 14 fantasy points in his last two games. Through three games he has three touchdown passes and is averaging 248 yards passing per game.
Tom Brady: Ranked 15th, Brady is averaging an impressive 296 yards passing per game, but four scores in three games is not anyone’s idea of Brady-like excellence.
Drew Brees: The only one who is keeping the pace. Brees it the 4th ranked QB who is on pace for 4,800 yards passing and 37 touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford: Ranked 19th, Stafford is dealing with that leg injury which might turn out to be a hip situation after most of us felt it was glute/hamstring related. He's also thrown just three scores while tossing four picks.
Cam Newton: Clinging to QB1 status at #12, Cam has run for two scores in three weeks, but he's also only passed for two while throwing five interceptions. His legs have been impressive, his arm not as much.
Adding Bilal Powell on the cheap seems like an even better idea after the Jets announced that they will be moving Joe McKnight to corner back to help the team cover for the loss of All-Pro Darrelle Revis to a season ending knee injury. "He’ll have a role on offense, but we’re also teaching him how to play corner," HC Rex Ryan said. "Not quite a full-time capacity, but he’s going to be over there a ton in the meetings and everything else. ... He has the necessary skills to be able to play corner.” Oh this is going to turn out well. Playing corner in high school, as McKnight did, is one thing. Covering NFL receivers is obviously a whole other situation. I've said this before about the Jets, and this only strengthens my belief – this team is in major trouble. Major. The positive news is that Powell could see his role grow with McKnight basically out of the backfield mix. No one has been satisfied with the performance of Shonn Greene so far, not with his plodding 2.8 yards per carry (57 totes), while Powell has averaged 4.0 yards per carry. There isn't a changing of the guard here but Powell is certainly someone to monitor and consider picking up in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Now we know why Ryan Grant was signed by the Redskins. It turns out that Roy Helu's injuries are way more severe then we have been told. In fact, his season is over as he will be placed on the injured reserve list because of the issue with his Achilles. "Coach is looking out for my best interest and for the team's best interest." Helu will hit the shelf with a 4.2 yards per carry mark and 56 receptions in 18 games of less than a full workload. I still think the guy could have a bright future if he was in an offense that would allow him the chance to maximize his talents. That may not be in Washington. As for this season, Alfred Morris' hold on the starting spot is gaining even more momentum. Sure the 'Skins signed Ryan Grant, but it's not like he should be viewed as a prime challenger to Morris. Grant has all of 142 carries since the start of 2010 as he's had a hard time overcoming injuries of his own. He does have a career average of 4.3 yards a carry but 2009, when he ran for 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns is a lifetime ago in NFL years.
Danny Amendola has 296 receiving yards. That's 107 yards, or a full games worth, more than everyone's top-5 darling this season, Julio Jones.
Michael Crabtree has caught 19 balls this season the same total as Roddy White and one more than Dwayne Bowe. However, due to the Niners pop-gun passing offense Crabtree has only 183 receiving yards, an average of 9.6 yards a reception. He is the only wide receiver of the 11 with at least 18 receptions who has less than 234 yards receiving.
Malcom Floyd has caught 13 balls for 227 yards through three weeks. Sixteen games at that level would lead to an effort of 52 receptions and 1,211 yards. The 31 years old receiver has never caught more than 45 passes or gone for more than 856 yards in a season in his career. If, and it's a huge if, he can stay healthy a career best season appears to be in the cards.
Just cause. For your viewing pleasure.
Hakeem Nicks has appeared in only two games but his total of 237 receiving yards is more than Mike Wallace (234), Dwayne Bowe (234) and Andre Johnson (212).
There are three wide receivers in the league who have caught at least 10 passes an are averaging 20 yards per reception. Torrey Smith leads the way with a 23.5 yard per catch mark followed by Steve Smith (CAR) 21.1 and Vincent Jackson (20.4). Nate Washington leads the way at 26.4 yards per catch, but he only has seven receptions.
Jordan Cameron's role with the Browns' offense should improve as the season wears on, that is if you believe coordinator Brad Childress. Turns out Cameron's lack of usage the first couple of weeks was because of a wonky back. We saw things start to change in Week 3 as Cameron caught five balls for 45 yards after not catching a pass the first two weeks of the season. Cameron is athletic and could serve as a safety blanket for rookie Brandon Weeden who could use it after completing 56.5 percent of his passes while throwing six interceptions through three games.
Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski both had down Week 3's as neither was a top-10 play in a PPR set up. Don't expect that to happen much, if ever again, this season. Gronkowski did a lot of blocking to help out the Pats offense, and Graham still had a touchdown even if he had only 16 yards. Don't worry about either. Graham is on pace for 91 receptions and 16 touchdowns, so I think you should be able to live with that level of production, right? Oh yeah, Graham still leads all tight ends in targets, with one more than Dennis Pitta. As for Gronk, the Patriots game plan, based on the opponent, as much as any team in the league. Just ask Wes Welker who disappeared in Week 2 and Steven Ridley who saw his role greatly reduced in Week 3. Gronk will be fine and back to his pass catching ways in Week 4.
Heath Miller a top-5 tight end? He is right now, four touchdowns will do that, but come on now. Miller has been in the league since 2005 and only one time has he caught 55 balls in a season (he had 76 receptions in 2009). Not only has he never been a big pass receiver, he's also averaged over 40 yards a game in just one of his previous seven seasons (49.3 in 2009 and 43.0 this season). Need me to stop the piling on? Can't do it. Miller scored four times in 30 games in 2010-11. As mentioned, he already has four this season. I know Big Ben said he would like to get Miller to the Pro Bowl this year, but let's keep things in perspective. When Rashad Mendenhall returns in Week 5, the Steelers figure to run a bit more. Plus, as I've clearly detailed, only once in seven years has Miller been anything other than a safety valve for the Steelers' offense. He's off to a great start but now is the perfect time to parlay Miller's hot start into a better option.
Brandon Myers of the Raiders continues to be perfect. I'm not talking about his health, he suffered a concussion in Week 3 and may or may not be active in Week 4 for the Raiders. What I'm talking about is that he has caught every one of the 15 passes that have been thrown his way by Carson Palmer. Of course you can't expect that to continue moving forward which means Myers, despite the strong showing, shouldn't be looked at anything more than than a TE2.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. You can find more of his work at BaseballGuys.com and on Twitter at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.