A Sunday of football can be as euphoric as it is numbing. The excitement is supercharged with clashes and hits, and moments when televisions yell and Dan Dierdorf calls a football play a football play. And then quickly, it’s on to the next moment, and the next play.
It’s a cycle of joy, the greatest source of glee we have this side of tasting cake for the first time as a child. Or later on, grasping a bag of sand for the first time.
There’s only one flaw in our steady diet of weekly heaven in the fall: the constant chaos and frantic pace of an NFL Sunday shrinks our already short 2013 memories, making us forget about the last wicked football thing that happened eight minutes ago because we’re busy enjoying the next slice of awesome.
Let’s fight that great plague together.
Each week we’ll review the main sources of awesome and awful as they pertain to our fantasy football tears and fears. Let’s start with Terrelle Pryor, a guy who would have been my last guess to lead any post of this nature, but here we are.
I may have said something about Pryor pulling a 2011 Tim Tebow on us, but I won’t go head high prancing just yet. You might start pointing out all the predictions that aren’t even close, and we don’t need that.
But you do need more Pryor in your life. A lot more after he had 59 rushing yards in just the first half of Oakland’s 21-17 loss to Indianapolis on five carries (11.8 YPC), highlighted by a 29 yarder. He then finished with 112 rushing yards, along with 217 passing yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. That all adds up to 19 fantasy points, 11 of which came from Pryor’s fast moving legs.
In a week when Peyton Manning had 46 fantasy points during his obscenely ridiculous Thursday night with seven touchdown passes to tie a single-game record (it was the first time any quarterback had thrown seven TDs in a game since 1966), Pryor’s fantasy point total seems good and fine. Then when we throw in Colin Kaepernick’s 30 points with his also amazing 412 yards and three scores, Pryor gets devalued a little more.
The practice of doing that seems absurd because Kaepernick and Manning are always on an entirely different level than Pryor. But comparatively, that wasn’t true this week.
Kaepernick and Manning are universally owned, and are only available in three-team leagues where your dog is commissioner. Pryor, meanwhile, is almost universally unowned, and yet with two games remaining in Week 1, he’s currently a top 10 fantasy quarterback.
Consider the names who finished with less production and less Week 1 fantasy worth than Pryor, who’s 10th right now. Among them are other universally owned quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, and Russell Wilson, who had fine afternoons in their own right, with the exception of Newton. But yet there’s Pryor, who outproduced them all even through he’s unowned in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues, and 93 percent of ESPN leagues.
Let’s keep repeating this company line then: as long as he’s the starting quarterback in Oakland, Pryor will redefine our vision of the oddity player, the one who struggles or is average at best in reality, but can be a fantasy stud most weeks with what he’ll accomplish using his legs and running ability. What was encouraging today, though, is that he was able to make throws, showing a strong and — dare I say it — even accurate arm during a game that was far closer than it should have been.
He won’t rush for over 100 yards every week, because that’s only accomplished in video games and pleasant dreams. In one start he’s already set the Raiders’ record for quarterback rushing yards in a game, but he doesn’t have to keep breaking his own marks to maintain viability as a fantasy option. During his 11 starts in 2011, Tebow averaged 56.5 rushing yards per game while scoring six times. In doing that he maintained appeal as a top 10 fantasy quarterback through just his rushing, and Pryor is able to do more as, well, an actual quarterback.
The Raiders have the Jaguars next, the same Jaguars who allowed the Chiefs to score 28 points today. If you own one of those elite names above, you’re doing nothing. But if you’re among the many who aren’t in that privileged group and you waited for some of that sweet late-round quarterback value, Pryor has a much higher ceiling in that matchup (and most weeks) than Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, or any other similar ilk that was plucked in the 10th round and beyond.
Embrace Pryor, and next Sunday will be filled with even more awesome.
Elsewhere in amazing
A.J. Green: Green continually beat up on Charles Tillman, though the Bears cornerback still snagged two interceptions during Chicago’s win. Doing his deep ball thing often, Green caught passes for 42, 21, and 47 yards, while averaging 18 yards per ball snatching (162 yards in total).
Reggie Bush: Being a crazy freak who can play through a dislocated left thumb and a groin pull and still doing anything at all is already a fine accomplishment. But dealing with that while recording 191 total yards split almost evenly between rushing and receiving is something that mere humans aren’t capable of at all. Hey, remember the entire offseason when we talked about Bush’s rejuvenation as a receiving option? The breakaway speed he showed on a 77-yard touchdown run against the Vikings when he was barely touched looked pretty USC-y.
Larry Fitzgerald: It’s truly remarkable how much having a competent quarterback can do for a receiver who’s far more than competent. Over 16 games and 71 receptions last year, Fitzgerald caught only four touchdown passes. Today after just one game, he already has two.
Anquan Boldin: Throughout the offseason there was considerable worry about Colin Kaepernick’s receiving options, or rather a lack thereof with both Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham shelved. I was among those who expressed something that fell short of worry. Let’s call it concern, because although Boldin is a fine receiver, going deep vertically isn’t his game.
Yes, those words do taste delicious.
Anquan Boldin’s 2nd season opener w 10 receptions & 200 receiving yards (2003). No one else has done that in NFL opener since 1966
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 8, 2013
Boldin finished with 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown during the 49ers’ win over Green Bay. Last year, Boldin’s yardage total over his first three games 118, and Sunday he shattered that mark by being exactly what he was for Joe Flacco: always open, and a constantly rolling panic button who battles for and secures balls in the air. The completions mostly didn’t come through sheer speed, but instead Boldin found space while Kaepernick (who finished with a passer rating of 129.4) was being creative in the pocket and locating his own green areas to work with.
The result was an immediate connection, and four receptions for 20 yards or more.
Adrian Peterson: Hooooo hum. Just this, on the Vikings’ first play of the season. You’re silly Adrian Peterson…
That was Peterson’s fifth career rushing touchdown of +70 yards.
Jordan Cameron: There are very few things that Brandon Weeden did right while he threw three interceptions, all of which came over his first 12 attempts. In fairness to Weeden, Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner evidently think he’s an entirely different person, and they removed the ball almost entirely from Trent Richardson’s hands even when an eventual loss to the Dolphins was close until about the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Anywho, back to Cameron, who will get pretty much every Weeden target over these first two weeks with Josh Gordon out. Today that absence resulted in 13 targets, which Cameron turned into nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown (17 fantasy points using standard scoring). Just once, our fantasy overlords allowed us to have a sleeper we’ve been pumping for months.
Jared Cook: The day of the tight end was a good day. Cook is a tight end in name only, as his job description goes much deeper than that. He lined up in the slot on 76.7 percent of his snaps in 2012, versatility which, as expected, led to immediate widespread usage with the Rams, a team that won one of the eight Week 1 Sunday games decided by a touchdown or less. Cook finished with 141 yards on seven catches with two touchdowns.
Shane Vereen: As a Ridley owner, you’re excited because Vereen took advantage of Stevan Ridley’s ball turfing which deeply angered Jedi Belichick. Ridley was benched for the second half in New England’s win over Buffalo, and Vereen was then given an opportunity to run for 101 yards on just 14 carries (a mighty fine 7.2 YPC). In what’s been a generally horrible Week 1 for running backs, only Ridley and a guy who isn’t a running back (Pryor) have rushed for over 100 yards (once you let that sink in, please recall that Peterson had a 78-yard run, and yet he isn’t included in the esteemed Week 1 100-yard club).
You should be super excited about Vereen’s rushing. But since Ridley will ultimately work his way back into at least a time share, you should be far more jacked about Vereen’s 10 targets, seven of which were caught for 58 yards. Vereen’s quick emergence as a receiver is equally vital for Tom Brady owners after an offseason was spent wondering how Brady would breathe and function normally upon losing nearly all of his 2012 pass catchers. Vereen is a critical part of the solution as the closest option Brady now has to an Aaron Hernandez after the running back spent nearly 20 percent of his snaps last year lined up in the slot.
Where did you come from?
Joique Bell: Unbelievably still unowned in a healthy chunk of leagues that apparently don’t value handcuffs (33 percent of ESPN leagues, and 67 percent of Yahoo leagues), Bell proved what we’ve been saying for a while. With the rapid-fire passing of the Lions’ offense there will be plenty of footballs to distribute (Stafford led the league in passing last year, and chucked 43 times today). Bell will be a consistent PPR flex, and showed as much with his five catches for 67 yards today. For some sweet bonus gravy, he also vultured two rushing touchdowns.
Julian Edelman: Danny Amendola left with an injury briefly today, because that’s what Danny Amendola does. When he was gone, Edelman received more looks, reminding us that in the rare instance where handcuffing a wide receiver is wise, he’s your guy.
But overall even when Amendola wasn’t grabbing a part of his body on the sideline, Edelman was still targeted often by Brady. Familiarity is a wonderful thing, and for Edelman (who’s almost universally available on the waiver wire, FYI) it meant red-zone looks and two touchdowns. Prior to today Edelman had scored only four times over 48 career games.
Jerome Simpson: Also almost universally unowned (which will change in, oh, about 48 hours), Simpson kept Cordarelle Patterson firmly behind him with 140 yards on seven catches. Let’s file this under vicious numerical outliers too: look at that yardage for Simpson today, and then remember that over 12 game appearances last year he had only 274 yards.
Quotes of the week
Mike Wallace was angry at fact he had only one catch. Asked about the game plan, he responded, “ask coach not my game plan.”
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 8, 2013
Ummm, Mike, your team won the game. A win is better than a loss, and you’re making $30 million in guaranteed green, and $60 million overall. You could probably find a few more cordial words to say after one poor Sunday personally at the office.
But I suppose this reaction is understandable after looking at Wallace’s gameplan.
Colin Kaepernick: “If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one.”
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) September 9, 2013
*Says amen, claps slowly, bows*
Sundays Are Fun Days
Jason Witten played his guts out
(via Busted Coverage)
Good parents don’t let small children watch football, because a lifetime of mental scarring awaits
Pictured: More joy than eight children visiting Santa Claus
Lions rookie Joe Fauria with the screencap of the day of the year after his TD. pic.twitter.com/8lP09esnXt
— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 8, 2013
So you’d like to attend a football game as an accused murderer?
(via Ben Volin)
Let’s end with something warm and happy: a recap of the day’s notable injuries.
- Steelers center Maurice Pouncey tore is ACL and MCL, and is done for the season. It’s a devastating blow for a Steelers offensive line that was hoping to finally provide some stability in front of Ben Roethlisberger, with David DeCastro healthy.
- Colts tight end Dwayne Allen didn’t return for the second half of the win over Oakland due to a hip problem. We don’t know the extent of the injury yet, but if Allen misses time Coby Fleener could free himself from the shackles of a tight end tandem, if only briefly.
- Chill out, Jamaal Charles owners. He has a quad injury and was pulled from the Chiefs drubbing of Jacksonville, mostly because the score was 28-2. He’ll be fine for next week.
- Blaine Gabbert needed 15 stitches in his right hand to repair a laceration. But that’s not why he sucked. No, he sucked because that’s all he’s capable of right now. Supreme sucking, complete with throwing two interceptions, getting sacked six times, and leading an offense that didn’t cross the 50-yard line until the fourth quarter. But really, this is all you need to know…
Anquan Boldin has more receiving yards than the Jaguars had total offense. /logs off life
— Alfie Crow (@AlfieBCC) September 8, 2013