Fantasy Football’s Missing in Action: Week 3 Edition

A disappointed Michael Vick hangs his head on the sidelines. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America
Michael Vick, bench fodder?

With apologies to Chris Johnson owners, no player has been more disappointing in fantasy so far this year than Michael Vick. With passing numbers hitting historic heights, Vick has yet to throw for more than 250 yards in a game, and has failed to crack the 200 mark twice. Moreover, where he used to make up for a bad day throwing with a good day running, this year’s pocket-bound Vick has stood in and taken punishment, getting knocked out twice.

The Eagles QB was drafted in the first round in many a fantasy league, and was a consensus QB1 by average draft position. But his performance currently ranks alongside behind Jason Campbell and Rex Grossman.

His week 3 disappearing act tops the list of week 3′s fantasy MIA.

Quarterbacks

Michael Vick: 204 total yards, 1 int, 1 sack, 0 TDs, 3 fumbles. Another week, another pounding for Vick behind Philadelphia’s sad joke of an offensive line. Despite DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin both shaking off minor aches to play a majority of snaps, Vick could not get the passing game going. He near-impossible to bench, though, as his breakout could come any week. A bounceback against San Francisco, who has problems in coverage, is not out of the question. Analysis: Don’t panic. Still a must-start in a loaded offense.

Philip Rivers: 266 yards, 2 ints, 2 sack, 0 TDs, 1 fumble. Rivers joins Vick as another disappointing fantasy QB overall. Twice now, the Chargers have eschewed their traditional vertical passing game plan for a more conservative approach. Against the undermanned Chiefs, the plan appeared to serve no purpose, other than to make the game uncomfortably interesting. San Diego is winning games, which may validate the approach to coach Norv Turner. But fantasy owners are perplexed.

It’s worth noting that the last time San Diego had a primary running back (Ladanian Tomlinson) averaging better than 4.5 yards per carry, Rivers passed for only 200 yards per game. The emergence of Ryan Matthews (4.6 ypc) could spell the end of Rivers’ 400-yard passing days. Analysis: Could be dealt after a big game. 

Tony Romo: 255 yards, 1 int, 1 sack, 0 TDs. Romo’s struggles on Monday night were less notable than his play, which was remarkable for a QB as banged up as he is. Romo showed a lot of mobility and patience. The trouble was that he was without top wideouts Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for part or all of the game, and Jason Witten did little to step up. Their next opponent, Detroit, is playing outstanding football and averaging only 188 yards passing allowed per game. Analysis: Monitor Austin’s status, and look for a backup.

Running Backs

Frank Gore: 42 yards, 1 fumble lost, 0 TDs. Ignore the respectable 2-1 record — if anything, San Francisco’s offense has taken a big step backwards under John Harbaugh so far. And that’s saying something, because they weren’t blowing the doors off last year. With only 213 total yards per game, this anemic offense has been killing every offensive gamepiece for Niners fantasy fans. Gore was the one reliable safe start, but with an ugly 2.5 yards per carry average and Kendall Hunter poaching red zone looks (he scored the game’s 1 TD on 9 carries last week), he has to be benched. Analysis: bury him until the O-line shows something.

Michael Turner: 20 yards, 0 TDs. Despite a close game and a gaudy 5.6 yards per carry average, Michael Turner is simply getting ignored in the Atlanta gameplan. Granted, his eleven carries didn’t amount to much against Tampa Bay, but his 25 carries before that game totaled 214 yards. Quite simply, though, the Falcons now look like a pass-first team, and until that changes Turner’s value is going to be hurt. Analysis: Still startable, but downgrade to RB2. 

Mike Tolbert: 43 total yards, 0 TDs. Ryan Matthews’ emergence is having ripple effects here, too. Tolbert went from valuable handcuff to the starting member of the Chargers’ rotation to a limbo status in the gameplan now. His awful performance in short yardage in week 2′s loss to the Patriots may have set him back significantly. Analysis: back to handcuff status until further notice.

Receivers & Tight Ends

Hakeem Nicks: 25 total yards. There’s no mystery here. Nicks is just another victim of the high-profile Philadelphia secondary, who have made a habit of erasing opponents’ WR1. A prime candidate to bounce back next week against Arizona’s sorry defensive backs. Analysis: Must-start. 

DeSean Jackson: 33 total yards. The fragile Jackson has actually been pretty durable so far, missing less than 30 of 221 offensive snaps. The problems in the Eagles passing game start up front, adding a bit more risk to an already high-risk high-reward player. Analysis: Somewhat overvalued, but still an electric playmaker.

Steve Smith: 15 yards. Smith was thrown at only seven times, and caught only two passes, both season lows by far. Though the torrential weather didn’t stop Newton from throwing the ball (38 passing attempts to only 21 called runs), it might have kept him from targeting his favorite deep threat. Analysis: Still a must-start against Chicago, but keep an eye on weather reports.

Dallas Clark: 12 yards. This may come as some surprise to you, but the Colts offense stinks without Peyton Manning in it. Through three games, Clark has yet to break 100 yards receiving. Total. With Manning done for the year, this is a complete lost cause. Analysis: If you held on tightly, time to let go lightly.

Marcedes Lewis: 15 yards. The chemistry between rookie quarterback and dependable TE outlet can be slow to grow. The good news for Jacksonville is that Blaine Gabbert is not afraid to pepper the field with downfield throws – he threw at least one to every zone past the 10 yard line in his debut, including a brilliant touchdown to Mike Thomas 30-some yards down the field. The bad news for Lewis is that he is running short routes. Analysis: Still a good red zone play, if the Jaguars start scoring.

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