A male crotch and a handgun isn’t involved. This was better, and much safer for the health of future Hartlines.

Brian Hartline just became everyone’s favorite Dolphins receiver

We still love you too, Davone Bess. But sorry, only winners get to sit shotgun.

Brian Hartline having a successful Sunday isn’t a surprising development. He’s only a week removed from a 111-yard outing against the Raiders, although that’s an outlier compared to his other two games, and the combined yardage of 91 that he has if we exclude Week 2. Toss in the single reception he had last week, and the picture is becoming clear. This is a receiver who has the ability to explode and is therefore the ideal flex play with the proper matchup, but those cases of booming are surrounded by many bust weeks, the product of an inconsistent offense with few trusted weapons and a rookie quarterback.

So then against a Cardinals secondary led by Patrick Peterson, he caught 12 passes and finished with 253 yards. Let’s list the reasons why that’s remarkable/utterly unbelievable:

  • Again, no one’s doubting Hartline’s skill. But prior to today he had 202 yards. On the year. Through three games.
  • Prior to today he had 13 receptions. On the year. Through three games.
  • His 80-yard touchdown catch was more yardage than two of his first three games.
  • Hartline is now four games into his fourth NFL season, and his career single-season high in receiving yards is the 615 he had in 2010. In one game, he compiled 40 percent of that yardage.
  • As Ryan Tannehill’s new favorite target, he already has 455 yards this year at just the season’s quarter mark.
  • In the digitally dusty NFL record book of the best games by wide receivers and the most single-game yards, Hartline is now tied with Plaxico Burress for 18th. That’s ahead of some guys named Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce.
  • And he did all of this against a Cardinals secondary that was ranked ninth in the league after giving up 210 yards per game. Yep, the Cards gave up more receiving yards to Hartline than they were allowing on average to any team they’d faced thus far.

Hartline is only owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues, and 26.7 percent of ESPN leagues. And if you know a guy who knows a guy who’s among either of those percentages, they sat him (*points at self, nods knowingly, collapses*).

His ownership might go up a bit this week.

Hartline’s quarterback was also sort of alright

Let’s play that comparison game with Ryan Tannehill too, who obliterated the same Cardinals secondary while playing in the same poor mathcup. Kevin Kolb’s late-game brilliance wasted two performances which were easily personal bests.

Tannehill had 431 passing yards while completing 63.4 percent of his passes with a touchdown, two interceptions, and a lost fumble, which all adds up to a passer rating of 86.5. So looking back, he was averaging just 205 yards prior to today, and his rating was 58.3, a number that dropped as low as 39 during a disastrous Week 1 loss when Tannehill threw three interceptions. His completion percentage also rose significantly today, as it was hovering at just 52.9.

This is the obligatory part when I  also remind you that Tannehill is, of course, widely available at four percent ownership in Yahoo leagues, and three percent in ESPN leagues. Still, with some stout secondaries remaining on Miami’s schedule (Cincinnati, St. Louis, Tennessee, Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco), today’s output may be far from the norm.

It’s difficult to justify owning Tannehill in anything but a two-QB league or a keeper league. But in those leagues, you’re being negligent if you don’t cast a flier out there.

Still missing: Darren McFadden

I get that it was a blowout mess in Denver, and therefore McFadden was needed only minimally. But it didn’t reach true stinker status until the third quarter when Denver scored three unanswered touchdowns. At the half it was still very much a close game, with Oakland trailing only 10-6.

So Run DMC still had one half to be productive, and even come vaguely close to repeating his Week 3 resurgence when we were reminded that he’s alive, (113 yards and a TD). That effort failed, and he had 34 yards on 13 carries, proving that he was determined to be more Chris Johnson than even Chris Johnson could be today. Meanwhile, McFadden’s backup Mike Goodson needed only three carries to get 22 yards.

Often we focus far too much on totals, because that’s really all we’re supposed to care about in fake football. The numbers arrive in a stat column, and whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent, how they made that journey from the football field to your computer screen is completely irrelevant.

With that in mind, here’s what happens when we look back now on McFadden’s supposed revival last week that — as we sit here today — now seems like a complete lie. If we treat his 64-yard touchdown run in Week 3 like the aberration it truly is because his previous longest run was, um, eight yards, then he had only 49 yards last week, and overall he’d have a per carry average of 2.4 yards.

McFadden has the early makings of 2012′s draft bust.