A deep Dive into some surprises from the season so far
By Martin Richardson
Last week, I said I wanted to see a few things from players and teams. I said I wanted to see a TD and some good yards from De’Van Achane and I wanted to see the Denver Broncos do something, otherwise their season could be over already. Well, I was rewarded with another massive Achane game despite the Dolphins loss; and I saw the Broncos get their first win of the season in a real shootout against the Bears, with Will Lutz kicking the winning field goal before a Broncos interception sealed the win. But some would argue that the Bears made a terrible call on 4th and 1 at the 18-yard line.
This week saw some crazy games with crazy scorelines. The Bills built on their impressive performance against the Commanders by dishing out a big win over the red hot Dolphins. The Cowboys continue to impress and send warnings to the NFC with another big win and defensive performance against the Patriots. The Jaguars took over London and got back to winning ways, ready for round two this week against the Bills.
However, it was some of the other games that really caught my eye in terms of Fantasy Football. We saw a rookie QB dish out a loss to a team that prides itself on a solid defence and we saw a team who is always in a Super Bowl window just look bereft of ideas and the ability to win, both with huge impact on fantasy teams everywhere. So, whilst I may not be offering names to pick up this week on the waiver wire, I am taking a deeper look at players who will be impacting your lineups, either positively or negatively.
THE HOUSTON TEXANS
Ok Texans, we see you. Sunday saw a performance that had a pair of Nico Collins touchdowns, an interception for the defence and a trick play with Devin Singletary and tight end Dalton Schultz. I think we can all safely say that CJ Stroud is going to be a big player for the Texans in the future and that DeMeco Ryans has got this team cooking.
Quite a sequence for the Texans:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 1, 2023
C.J. Stroud scrambles in for what looks like a TD. Upon review, it's short and 1st and goal from the 1.
Then: Dameon Pierce would have score a TD, but a false start
Then: A TD pass by Stroud, called back due to penalty
Then: A DPI gives them…
306 yards passing
This week showed us that the Texans can put together a variety of plays to keep teams guessing; you only had to watch that penalty ridden drive before the Collins touchdown as proof. It had: a scramble by Stroud that was called short, a Dameon Pierce touchdown chalked off, a passing attempt to tight end Brevin Jordan blown up for DPI and then finally the chip pass to Collins to take the lead. Add to this that Stroud does not have an interception yet from 151 pass attempts, the rookie QB makes for some serious numbers for fantasy lineups. This is also the second game that he has thrown over 300 yards and the third straight game that has thrown two touchdowns. Stroud has announced himself as a top QB for fantasy leagues and I bet when it comes to draft season again, he will be one of the top QBs taken in drafts.
This is not the first time that Collins has had a big game. But to do it against a so called top defence in the Steelers makes me stand up and take notice. What is even more impressive is the fact that he did this from 7 receptions this week. That is efficient and explosive all at once. Add to this that he did very similar in week 2 where he got 146 yards and a touchdown from 7 receptions. It was really only week 3 where he dipped but that is explained when you see that Tank Dell announced his arrival in the NFL with his 145 yards and a touchdown. I think what is clear is that the Texans are looking like a great team on offence who have weapons to really make an impact in fantasy leagues everywhere.
My Mulligan of the week: THE COLTS
By half time against the Rams, the game looked over, but a rallying second half performance by rookie QB Anthony Richardson got the Colts back to a respectable 23-23 tied game in regulation time. The heartbreak of an overtime touchdown from fantasy heartthrob Puka Nacua was the reason they lost the game.
Throwing two touchdowns this week and rushing another, the Colts look to have found a star with Anthony Richardson. His mobility to rush in for touchdowns is a massive bonus for fantasy teams and he is rostered on less than 90% of rosters, so if you can, get him into your team.
Plus, we have the return of wantaway running back Jonathan Taylor added to the matchup this week with the Titans. How much he will play, who knows, but one thing is for sure, he will certainly have an impact on this exciting looking Colts team.
So, a narrow loss to the Rams and a week five game versus the Titans is why I am giving them another shot and awarding them my mulligan of the week. The Titans will be an interesting challenge for them, so we could be in line for another Richardson game where he announces himself on the big stage.
However, my only concern is that for fantasy football, after Richardson, the points haven’t exactly been flowing. Michael Pittman has one touchdown, Zack Moss could well be in line for a decline if Taylor makes his return, and kicker Matt Gay is one of the team’s top performers, which is not ideal.
FANTASY HEADACHE- THE 1-3 CINCINNATI BENGALS
Week 4 numbers:
165 yards thrown
1 lost fumble
73 receiving yards
Tee Higgins *Injured with a rib fracture
67 rushing yards
This is a worry. A real worry if you are a Bengals fan. It makes me wonder if Burrow is truly as fit as he needs to be to make this team as exciting as it has been in the past. I know that people will make the comments about his contract and his performance since, but he isn’t right. Irrespective of that contract, he just seems off and that connection to Chase seems to be strained and they are not clicking this year. Add to this the social media clip of Chase saying less than politely that he is ‘always open’, it is clear that tempers are a little fraught. Fantasy players who took Chase in the first round must be kicking themselves with that decision, but it was probably him or Cooper Kupp, so maybe it was the right idea at the time. But there is no way this can last much longer, right? Whilst there is no way you would ever drop Chase completely; you may well have to look at alternatives to a first-round fantasy pick in your lineup.
The injury to Higgins is another big blow, for him and for the Bengals. If he misses a chunk of time, he may miss the chance to get a good contract next season if teams see him as risk, rather than an investment. That said, he has been a victim of the lacklustre offensive showing. He only has two touchdowns and they both came in one game against the Ravens. So even when back from the injury, he may well continue to ride the bench in fantasy leagues. This now means the Bengals need to rely on Tyler Boyd who hasn’t exactly been a fantasy heavyweight in recent years.
Then there is the run game. Joe Mixon looks like a shadow of the player he once was and with no solid back up to put pressure on him, he will continue to be the lead back. He is yet to have a game with over 70 yards rushing and with only one touchdown so far this season, it makes me worry that he isn’t going to be a difference maker on their offence. Some would argue that at least he is being consistent for your team with over 6 points a game, but considering the value players will have put in the player like Mixon, he needs to be doing more if you want to be successful in your league. But let’s not forget that it was just shy of a year ago that he had that monster five touchdown game that certainly turned heads.
With games against the Seahawks and Cardinals, the Bengals don’t have it easy and could easily be 1-5 before their bye in week 7 and serious inquests being made about the once Super Bowl contenders.
A Yorkshireman living in Lancashire, Martin is a massive NFL fan but his heart belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also a huge Fantasy Football enthusiast and spends far too long crunching the numbers! Follow him at @MRBucsFan31