Back again, after another exciting week of National Football League action. For those of you who read my debut last week, I will assume you enjoyed the article and have returned for more. I also would like to thank you tremendously, as many of you have spread the word and the buzz is beginning to grow. To those of you stopping by for the first time, welcome aboard! This is my weekly column (every Wednesday throughout the season) where we play a little game of Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. To recap the rules: the concept of this column is to highlight the past weeks most notable Fantasy performances from the most influential positions (Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, and Tight End). I will identify a player whom you would generally rely on as one of your starters that you Coulda started, but due to their lackluster performance should not have. Next will be a player who more than likely is on your bench or waiver wire that you Woulda started, and had you done so would have been rewarded with Starter-like numbers. And finally, I will list a player that if you could have had your pick of the entire NFL you Shoulda started, essentially the top performer at his position. Week 2 provided another offensive explosion, and there were several players who could have easily qualified for this list. Conversely, there were also many flops by some high profile guys you would normally count on. If you have any players you seek advice for, feel free to ask me on Twitter. Even if you do not have a question to ask, why not just click the follow button below anyways. You may pick up some other good information throughout the week. Comments on the article are always welcome, and encouraged. Now on to the show…
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Coulda went with Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49’ers. As I advised people wondering whether or not to play him against the Seahawks stingy defense, “You have to go with Kaep until someone can stop him.” For the first time in his short career as a starter, Kaepernick was befuddled. Seattle on their home field made things impossible for the young 49’er, limiting him to 13 of 28 for a paltry 127 yards passing with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He was able to gain some positive fantasy points when he scrambled 9 times for 87 yards and again no scores, but the overall totals were not that of a QB1. Do I think he has been figured out? No, I just think the Seattle Seahawk Defense is that good.
Woulda played Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers. Maybe the Chargers opening game on Monday night was too late, or perhaps you had already overdosed on Football for the week. But if you thought Rivers performance against the Texans that night was a fluke, he sure let you know you were wrong. Had you been able to stomach starting him on the road against Philly, you would have been rewarded quite handsomely. All Rivers did was lead his team to a victory, while amassing 419 yards through the air on 36-47 passing with 3 Touchdowns. He still is hard to buy in to, but after two solid weeks to start the season it is becoming harder and harder to ignore.
Shoulda started Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. The consensus number one quarterback reclaimed his title on Sunday when he set a team record for passing yards. Washington looked more like the Generals than the Redskins in what amounted to essentially a day of practice for the All State salesman. If you are one of the lucky ones to own Rodgers on your team, you were more than thrilled with his 34-42 for 480 yards and 4 Touchdowns. He could have had an even better day had it not been such a blowout in the first half.
Coulda relied on Frank Gore, San Francisco 49’ers. It is hard to penalize both Stephen Jackson and Eddie Lacy, as they suffered injuries early in their respective games. It is not hard to say that Gore was stymied by Seattle on Sunday night in front of a national audience. Often passed by on draft day as getting older, he was still considered to be on the cusp of remaining an RB1. 9 carries for 16 yards and no scores is not the kind of production you can count on to win games. He added 1 catch for 14 yards, which did little to boost his numbers. I still think this was a product more of the opponent than his skill, so if you can buy low on him there might not be a better time than now.
Woulda rolled the dice with Knowshown Moreno, Denver Broncos. Last year, Ronnie Hillman was supposed to be the surprise stud running back. This year, the Bronco’s drafted Monte Ball and he was perceived to be the one. Even with both on the team, Moreno has continued to be the only one you can sometimes count on. I would not expect many more games like he had in Week 2, but he was wildly successful running all over the Giants. He racked up 93 yards and 2 Touchdowns on just 13 carries, and added 3 receptions for 14 yards. Not bad for an RB3 who sat on most peoples bench.
Shoulda had a crystal ball that told you to start James Starks, Green Bay Packers. With the game all but over, and starter Eddie Lacy out with a concussion, Green Bay went to ‘ole reliable James Starks to run some clock. He proceeded to do more than just eat time, as he gobbled up yards like ‘Pack Man’ (if it sticks I want credit). Starks finished the game with 20 carries for 132 yards and 1 touchdown, while adding 4 catches for 36 yards. He more than likely is available on your leagues waivers, and will be a hot commodity. In addition to confusing me, and other #DepressedLacyOwners (mine as well), he presents a problem for when Lacy does come back. What was thought to be an empty backfield in Lambeau, has just become crowded.
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Coulda closed your eyes and penciled in Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals. That is what you are supposed to be able to do when he is on your roster. Add that to an improved receiving corps, a competent Quarterback, an offensive minded coach, and you bank on Fitz to play 16 games for you. News of an ankle sprain was alarming but he did play, and on second thought maybe he should not have. A total of 2 catches for 33 yards and no scores was more than likely surpassed by multiple receivers on your bench. It did not pay dividends this week, but starting Fitz is a chance you have to take. Do not be too hard on yourself for doing so.
Woulda trusted more in DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles. We have heard all about Chip Kelly’s high paced college offense, but we also know about the immaturity Jackson has displayed in the past. Even with Philly’s new up tempo style, last season was probably enough to make you think his best days were behind him. A little more belief in Kelly, and Vick as well, would have prompted you to start Jackson in your lineup which equated to 9 receptions for 193 yards and 1 score. Did the real DeSean Jackson just stand up?
Shoulda known a Top 5 receiver is Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. When I projected Jones to be the #2 Wide Receiver in the pre-season, many thought I was nuts. What happened on Sunday is more the norm than the exception that I envisioned. He missed a practice on Wednesday, and there were concerns about his knee leading up to the Falcons home game against the Rams. None of that was a problem come kick off, and by the time the game was over he had collected 11 receptions for 182 yards and 1 touchdown. If that is in fact closer to what we should expect on a weekly basis, those pre-season rankings are not looking too bad.
Coulda been on board the hype train of Jared Cook, Saint Louis Rams. After last week’s opening performance, if I told you Sam Bradford had over 350 passing yards and 3 Touchdowns you would think Cook lit it up again, right? The correct answer is an emphatic No. Cook was targeted 6 times but only came up with 1 catch for 10 yards. Talk of the Rams needing an extra blocker in pass protection is generous, extremely generous. He is easily one of the team’s top 3 targets, and he was not signed as a free agent for his pass blocking skills. The talent is definitely there, but the expectations should be tempered for at least another week.
Woulda had the gumption to play Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins. When Dustin Keller suffered a horrific season ending injury during the preseason, the Dolphins decided to shift Clay from Fullback to Tight End. If you missed this news you are not alone. I do not even think my friend Alex Mena at the Miami Herald knew this, or Clay’s parents for that matter. On Sunday he went for 5 catches totaling 109 yards, but produced no scores. It is the second week in a row he has caught 5 balls, so perhaps it is time to give him some real attention. While the yardage in week two was a bit inflated, the targets are there. And for a quickly improving quarterback at that.
Shoulda been the owner to draft Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints. Remember on draft day, when you passed on Graham in the first round, and you wondered was he really head and shoulders above the rest at his position. Then in Week 1 when he caught 4 for 45 and seemed very pedestrian, you were glad you passed him over. Well, Week 2 arrived and Jimmy showed us all again why he is indeed the best amongst the Tight Ends. A monster day of 10 receptions for 179 yards and 1 Touchdown proves it to be true.
Part two of this column brings us to the Play ‘Em/Pass ‘Em segment: one guy I like, and one I do not, for the upcoming week. If you followed my advice for Week 2 I was right on 5½ of 7 predictions. How did I get that number? Despite throwing only 1 Touchdown and 4 Interceptions, Eli Manning still had 362 yards passing. Not tremendous, but far from awful. Also, injuries are not something you can easily predict. Had Brandon Merriweather not been headhunting, Eddie Lacy may very well have produced what James Starks did. The only player I will openly admit I was wrong on was Sam Bradford, who put up pretty lofty numbers in Atlanta. My picks for Week 3 of the 2013 NFL Season are as follows:
Play ‘Em: Matt Stafford, DET (@ WAS) Until the Redskins secondary can prove they can stop someone, all QB’s look good against them. Especially ones who have Megatron.
Pass ‘Em: Andrew Luck, IND (@ SF) One of my favorites returns home to Palo Alto, but the 49’ers are hungry for blood and Luck is the sacrificial lamb.
Play ‘Em: Trent Richardson, CLE (@ MIN) The Vikings have been giving up at least 90 yards to opposing rushers. The Browns have to correct their approach. This is the game T-Rich breaks out.
Pass ‘Em: Doug Martin, TB (@NE) Despite the body language of Tom Brady, the Patriot D has been outstanding. Look for them to keep Martin at bay.
Play ‘Em: Dwayne Bowe, KC (@ PHI) Andy Reid returns to Philly with the spotlight on him Thursday night. He definitely has a trick up his sleeve, and Bowe is his accomplice.
Pass ‘Em: Cecil Shorts, JAC (@ SEA) Could there currently be any more talent with worse luck? Shorts had a nice game against Oak last week. Seattle is not Oakland.
Play ‘Em: Tony Gonzalez, ATL (@MIA) While the Fish have been tough to start the season, they have not done well to stop TE’s. Gonzo is experienced and elite.
Pass ‘Em: Antonio Gates, SD (@ TEN) The Titans have done fairly well limiting TE’s so far this year. Two straight games on the road for the Chargers is too tall of a task to maintain their current pace.
There you have it, two weeks in the books. Let us hope that Week 3 gives as much excitement as the first two weeks have. I thank you for taking the time in reading this, and look forward to you returning back for the next article. Have a great week and good luck in your games!