There was pain, failure, and disappointment from the Michael Vick experience this afternoon, a thrill ride that’s progressively becoming similar to the roller coasters in all of the Final Destination movies that society actually cared about.
But first, a young hero was bestowed upon us, and he’s poured his youthful exuberance into the veins of Reggie Wayne.
Andrew Luck faced pressure, and pressure was defeated
There was never concern about Andrew Luck. That’s a word that wasn’t once associated with the most highly hyped rookie quarterback since hyping quarterbacks became a thing.
Instead, there was concern of a different kind: concern for his situation, and his ability to thrive in said situation.
The Colts averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game last year, and scored on the ground only eight times. The defense is aging and seemed unlikely to give him the ball with good field position, and Luck’s top receiver Reggie Wayne is also inching towards the grasp of father time. But none of that has mattered, because there’s a funny thing about elite talent: it compensates for all other deficiencies, and although I hesitate to play amateur, college-level psychologist, it may even motivate others to raise their play.
Or maybe it’s just one guy making the rest of the guys look really, really good. Whatever.
Luck was everything we thought he’d be on his game-winning drive that started on his own 20-yard line, and ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Wayne, and a dramatic 30-27 Colts win over the Packers. Overall, Luck finished with 362 passing yards, with two TDs and an interception. He made history, as along with Cam Newton he’s now one of two rookie QBs to pass for 300 or more yards in three of their first four games.
But beyond Luck’s individual performance, what’s most important from a fantasy perspective is the rejuvenating effect he’s had on Wayne. Turns out that drinking the blood of our youth is the key to never dying.
It was a remarkable feat of strength when Wayne still flirted with 1,000 receiving yards last year (960) despite the carrousel of calamity he dealt with at the quarterback position in Indy with Peyton Manning gone for the year. But that included only three 100-yard games, and five with less than 40.
Today Wayne had 208 yards on 13 catches, with that yardage the third highest single-game total in Colts history, and a personal best. Toss in his 138-yard outing in Week 1, and suddenly Wayne is pushing WR1 territory, as Luck begins to peak just in time for the heart of bye weeks.
Michael Vick is killing the fantasy value of every Eagle
Michael Vick is the anti-Luck, in both the simple sense that he was bad while Luck was good, and in the even simpler sense that he was incompetent. Vick is slowly eroding the value of every Eagles offensive player, while also killing his own worth. It’s actually quite impressive, especially if he also ate a whole wheel of cheese.
In a game that was far closer than what it should have been (Philly lost to Pittsburgh 16-14), Vick fumbled three times and lost two of them, committing his 10th and 11th turnovers of the season. He’s now fumbled eight times through five games (five lost).
You accept some of those mistakes as a consequence of Vick’s running, which both benefits you, the Vick owner, and those who own either of his top receivers or tight end, as his mobility creates opportunities for them too. Vick’s rushing yards today? 16 yards on five carries. Last year he had 45 per game.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson combined for just 97 yards, and were held back significantly by Vick’s inability to test the Steelers’ secondary deep, and his 5.8 yards per pass attempt. Score one for inconsistency.
Meet Josh Gordon
Brandon Weeden was also two-faced, but his excuse is that he’s a rookie quarterback, and his name isn’t Andrew Luck. Fair enough.
But the most interesting development in the Giants-Browns game that started as a potential upset and ended in a trouncing because Browns was the emergence of Josh Gordon, the supplement draft superstar, if such a thing exists. Gordon had two catches, and two touchdowns. Efficiency wins.
We knew Gordon is really fast since we were told that repeatedly in July when we had nothing else to read about. He just needed a chance to showcase that speed, and Greg Little has been kind enough to continue bathing his hands (or his entire body?) in butter before every game.The most prominent display of that speed came during Gordon’s 62-yard TD reception early in the first quarter, and then during garbage time later he added a 20-yard score.
Gordon of course benefited from the absence of Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi due to injuries. But Gordon was picked two rounds earlier than Benjamin — albeit as a supplemental pick — and given Little’s continued inability to grasp a football, today’s performance could lead to a sharp rise up the Browns’ WR depth chart.
He could be a decent flex play in the upcoming weeks depending on your bye situation.
Meet Alex Green
Cedric Benson went down with what looks to be a serious injury since the Packers RB was spotted leaving the stadium in a walking boot. That makes Alex Green the Ogletree or Amendola or Hartline or whoever of the week. He’s the first in line to get carries and become the Packers’ starter if Benson’s injury is indeed significant, and after he left today Green needed only nine carries to finish with 55 yards, most of which came on a 41-yard run when his open-field breakaway speed was on full display.
He should be the top waiver add of the week if Benson’s injury is a lengthy one, and he’s worth your waiver priority. When he runs with the job and does far more than a healthy Benson could have done anyway, we won’t say that we told you so. Promise.
Tony Gonzalez is the ageless elder
As I write this, the late afternoon games are in the third quarter, and Rob Gronkowski — one of the game’s premier tight ends — has only 35 receiving yards on four receptions. Tony Gonzalez is now the No. 1 overall fantasy tight end, and he caught 13 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown today.
Now, in fairness to Gronk in this comparison, he’s battling a hip injury that’s restricting his effectiveness. But he’s also 13 years younger than Gonzalez, and yet The Elder is still setting the benchmark for the position after coming just one reception short of a career high today.
The Chiefs don’t trust Matt Cassel at all, not even a little bit
We already touched on this while examining the broken carnage that is Matt Cassel’s remains, but now that we have the final tally of Kansas City’s severe distrust in their regular starter, the frightening contrast is worth re-visiting.
You’re aware that Jamaal Charles had 20 carries in just the first half during Kansas City’s loss to Baltimore, and that was significantly higher than his average of 14.4 per game two years ago during his last healthy season. Normally in a close game (the Chiefs lost 9-6) when the running game is doing whatever it pleases, calling a few play action plays would be an easy way to move the ball down the field far more efficiently. But that would imply that the Chiefs had any faith whatsoever in Cassel, or his backup Brady Quinn.
They don’t. While Charles had an impressive day again with 140 yards on 30 carries, it was overshadowed by the severely imbalanced Chiefs offense. They attempted 50 rushes, 46 of which were designed runs by a running back (the other four were Cassel scrambles), and only 18 passes. Prior to his injury, 15 of those attempts came from Cassel’s arm a week after he attempted 42 passes against the Chargers, and overall through four weeks he had averaged 40.3 attempts per game.
If Cassel is healthy next week and this continues, Charles’ production will decline sharply since there’s no reason for a defense to be concerned with anyone but him.