So here we are, week 3 with everything turned on it’s head. Players we thought would pan out, are giving us heartburn, and players we thought would be elite are hurt or underperforming. Remember, the NFL season is still young, and most players will return to a baseline (some won’t). Those studs that seem can’t miss right now will inevitably struggle at some point, and those struggling will see brighter days. I am amazed how 2 games can change perceptions 180 degrees. In this week’s edition of situations to watch I’m going to be looking at St. Louis Wide Receivers, Jacksonville’s O-line, and Minnesota’s Running Game. For projections and player values check out our week 3 projections page.
St. Louis Wide Receivers
At some point Shaun Hill is going to return as the starter, and if not it means that Austin Davis has performed at a level that shows he has talent to be a long-term starter in the NFL. Either way, I think there is sneaky value in this corp. as they project to be trailing in a lot of games, and play on the fast turf of the Edward Jones dome. I’ll be paying close attention this weekend when they play the soft Cowboys defense at home this weekend. Will Brian Quick keep up his early season production? One guy I am especially interested in is Stedman Bailey. He is a guy who could become a nice WR3/4 in yearly leagues and could provide nice value for a stretch in daily leagues. He’s got good hands and was one of Geno Smith’s top targets at West Virginia (behind Tavon Austin). I like his upside, and is a good roster stash in deep leagues. In daily leagues, I am going to focus on his snap count vs. production. If he is going to start opposite Quick, who may draw top corners against teams like Seattle and Arizona, he could be a weekly value buy in the coming weeks. I’m also curious to see Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt’s usage over the coming weeks. Both have freakish talent, but have not materialized for different reasons, Britt has been oft injured, and Austin hasn’t found his place yet. Don’t be surprised if at some point this season Austin begins to get force fed the ball, for good or bad.
The Jaguars have been arguably the worst team in football over the last 6 quarters (Northern Florida teams are struggling!). Some could say this is because of bad QB play, or bad defense, but I would argue it’s their offensive line. Toby Gerhart, my preseason darling, has averaged 2 yards per carry, and his backups have combined for 14 yards on 6 carries. That hardly will lead to success, and neither will giving up 10 sacks to the Washington Football team. Yes, 10 sacks to the football team that resides in our nation’s capital that had 36 sacks all of last year. The underlying issue can be corrected, as history has shown us worse offensive lines getting better. They have nowhere to go but up, and are a young unit. If they can begin to show improvement this weekend against a swiss cheese Colts defense I would guess we will see Bortles sooner rather than later. Henne has been awful so far this year, and in limited preseason action Bortles was making throws not many QBs can make. Now if the O-Line is going to yield 10 sacks, what’s the point of putting Bortles in the fire? Best case scenario is the Jags O-Line shows improvement, Henne still struggles, and the Jags lose so their 28 fans begin to call for Bortles. Then Bortles would instantly make the receiving core better and in turn the RBs. Worst case is they go 0-16 and set a new record for sacks allowed. It all hinges on the o-line!
Minnesota Running Game
The Vikings week 1 starting running back is sidelined indefinitely, and that leaves with with the Matt “Pulling a Wagon” Asiata, and Jerick “The Freak II” McKinnon. The trend here is that Asiata got the start last week, had a nice touchdown, but in “got-almost-all-of-what-was-blocked-for-him” fashion, he fell forward for 38 yards on 13 carries. Undoubtedly the Minnesota coaching staff recognizes Asiata’s limitations, and would like to increase their talented rookie running back from Georgia Southern. Enter Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon’s measurables are the type of stuff even the Barry Sanders of the world dream of. We know little about McKinnon outside of the fact that he is a converted QB and CB, and that makes me assume he is smart and coachable. I like all of the items mentioned above, and I will be watching this situation closely. McKinnon is going to pop and this could be the week. With a full week to prepare for the high powered New Orleans Saints, Norv Turner has an ace up his sleeve. The one thing that could hold McKinnon back is his inexperience, but he’s a guy worth taking a gamble on in daily leagues at a cheap price, and a high ceiling. Consider him a boom or bust play, but if he hits it could win you some leagues. In weekly leagues he’s a guy I have everywhere I can on my bench. At some point in the coming weeks we will see Teddy Football starting at QB and McKinnon at RB. The future is coming soon for the Vikings.