While most fantasy quarterbacks underperformed on Sunday, a few standouts came through for their owners, teams and fans. Most specifically, Andrew Luck put forth a signature performance as the Indianapolis Colts pulled an epic upset over the Green Bay Packers. Luck performed like a seasoned veteran, rallying the Colts to a comeback victory over the Packers. The first round pick in the draft was expected to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but the speed in with which Luck has ascended to a reliable and explosive quarterback in this league is astounding.
Thus far, he is having a rookie season matched by few in history and has emerged as one of two frontrunners for rookie of the year along with Robert Griffin III. With two wins on the season, the Colts have already matched last season’s win total, and appear to have a life in them unseen last year. Maybe Luck and the Colts were fueled by Head Coach Chuck Pagano’s sudden fight with leukemia, but nonetheless, they have shown that their grit and talent is much improved over last season. The shadow Peyton Manning cast over Andrew Luck was daunting, but the rookie is showing he is up to the challenge to replace one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Several of the worst teams last season, including the Colts, have improved drastically this year for a multitude of different reasons. Indianapolis improved thanks to quarterback play and a new front office in Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson. St. Louis finished last season tied with the Colts for the worst record, but with new Head Coach Jeff Fisher at the helm and a revamped defense, the Rams are above .500 for the first time since 2006 and have amassed more wins in five weeks than in all of last season.
The Rams’ defensive backfield is second in the NFL in interceptions thanks to the play of Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins. The defensive line meanwhile features three first round picks in Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers. St. Louis shut down the Cardinals last Thursday, handing Arizona its first loss of the season in an impressive defensive performance from the Rams.
In a league noted for its parity, the Colts and Rams are the perfect example of what one off-season and the personnel moves within can do for a team. St. Louis and Indianapolis are no longer the unquestioned worst teams in the league as they were last season; instead, they are middle-of-the-road teams that might even have a chance to contend for a wild card spot. It may be too early in the season to tell how they will end up, but a couple of unexpected teams always make the playoffs, and the Rams and Colts have as good a chance as any to continue surprising this year.
Regarding my fantasy advice last week, I think it went well. Hopefully I built a little bit of credibility with my advice last week, and can continue to do so for weeks to come. Let’s take a look as some potential additions for bye week owners and players in need of a roster spot alike.
Christian Ponder, Vikings: Okay, I know I wrote about Ponder last week, but you really need to add him now. He topped 250 yards to go along with two touchdowns against a bad Titans defense this week, placing him 11th amongst fantasy quarterbacks that played before Monday. Next week he faces another bad defense in the Redskins. If you are a Drew Brees, Cam Newton or Jay Cutler owner and need a quarterback this week, Ponder is your man. He won’t go off like a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, but is more than capable of having a 20 point fantasy game.
Kendall Hunter, 49ers: Take notice that Hunter is not an every down back, nor should he be started in fantasy, but he is a great handcuff option for Frank Gore owners. Hunter has fed on opposing defenses the last two weeks with over 130 yards and a touchdown, receiving plenty of playing time with the ‘Niners holding huge leads. While the same will be hard to do against the Giants this week, Hunter becomes an important bench player, and extremely valuable should Gore happen to go down with an injury.
Players mentioned in past weeks you should still pick up: Jackie Battle, Chargers
Jeremy Kerley, Jets: With Santonio Holmes likely out for the year and Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller sitting out Monday night’s game, Kerley looks to become the main option in the Jets’ passing attack. While that may not mean much, Holmes was a relevant option in fantasy and Kerley has the potential to be as well. While more of a big play receiver, if Kerley can gain some open space, a touchdown would not be out of the question. He returns punts as well, so a return for a touchdown would be a huge bonus to any owner.
Players mentioned in past weeks: Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals: Gresham won’t notch you a 15-point performance, but he is reliable for a consistent five catches and fifty yards. The Bengals will play Cleveland this week, so the opportunities will be there for Gresham. In week two against the Browns, Gresham managed four catches for 37 yards, but has the potential for so much more. After this week’s loss to the Dolphins, I expect the Bengals to be angry and look down the field plenty. Gresham should get in on that action.
Players mentioned in past weeks: Scott Chandler, Bills and Greg Olsen, Panthers
Blair Walsh, Vikings: Walsh is 12-13 on field goal attempts and is tied for the second most fantasy points on the season by a kicker behind fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein. Pick up Zuerlein if he is still available in your league, but Walsh is a solid and reliable option as well, and will have plenty of opportunities to convert field goal opportunities with the way the Vikings have played. Walsh is 3-3 from beyond 50 yards, so he can get you plenty of points with distance as well.
Players mentioned in past weeks: Greg Zuerlein, Rams
St. Louis Rams: The Rams played a ferocious defense against the Cardinals last week, putting forth 17 fantasy points, second best amongst defenses behind only the Bears. With its performance last week, St. Louis has now amassed the seventh most fantasy points amongst defenses in the league. While Miami has vastly improved over the last three weeks, the Dolphins are still manned by a rookie quarterback and thus can be turnover-prone. If the Rams can capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes, they could have another big performance in week six.