This time next year, I will have been married for 4 months. Yeah I’m that kid: the one who gets married halfway through college. She’s a beautiful nursing student who, thankfully, will be graduating in December of 2015. But until then, as Alan Jackson puts it, we’ll be “living on love”…and very little else. Being newlyweds will be exciting as we learn more about each other everyday and experience a brand new life together. We’ll be two college students joined in wedded bliss.
Now you’re not reading this to know about my personal life, you’re waiting to get to the fantasy analysis. Well, I challenge you to look back at the wonderful football marriages that took place this offseason and the beautiful impact they’re now having on your fantasy lineup. Remember when Gary Kubiak and Steve Smith were brought together as one? Yeah we’re not talking about marriage in the traditional sense, we’re talking about the ever-important marriage of new offensive coordinators and their new toys. Let’s take a quick look at just how big of an impact three new offensive coordinators are having on your roster.
· Gary Kubiak and WR Steve Smith
o When Kubiak was let go by the Texans this past offseason, teams around the league quickly inquired about the former offensive coordinator. He was always more of an offensive mind in Houston, leaving the defense up to his staff. Now in Baltimore, there may be no one happier than former Panther wide receiver Steve Smith. Upon leaving Carolina, Smith quickly became the ‘X factor’ receiver in Kubiak’s offense. For years, none other than Texan star receiver Andre Johnson held this prominent role. During his time in Houston, Kubiak made Johnson the first, second, and third option in the passing game. Secondary receivers weren’t important because they weren’t utilized. Kubiak had one receiver he cared about and that was going to be his guy through thick and thin. All this to say, we should have seen this breakout coming from Smith. Through three weeks, the former Panther has been targeted a staggering 32 times and has reeled in 18 of them. The next most targeted receiver is Torrey Smith, targeted only 18 times (or almost less than half of Smith). If an owner in your league is letting Smith ride the pine, see what kind of deal you can put together to grab him while he’s still available. As long as he holds down the ‘X’ spot, Smith is a viable WR2 in most formats.
· Hue Jackson and RB Giovani Bernard
o Hue Jackson is in a much different situation then Kubiak. Rather than moving teams, Jackson was promoted from Bengals running backs coach to offensive coordinator upon Jay Gruden’s exit to Washington. Having coached the team’s running backs, Jackson was smart enough to know what he had in the dynamic Gio Bernard. In 2013, Gruden was still focused on splitting the carries between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But today, Green-Ellis finds himself a free agent looking for a job while Bernard shines in Cincy. This fantasy marriage has done wonders for the young back. Last season, Bernard had more than 13 carries in just two games. This year, he’s already surpassed that number, averaging more than 18 carries a game. This doesn’t even include his role in the passing game, having already accumulated 19 targets through 3 weeks. Gio is the real deal and his owners are grateful for this marriage of coordinator and star running back.
· Ben McAdoo and RB Rashad Jennings
o In the last of our three marriages, we look at the beautiful chemistry between former Packers assistant McAdoo and Giants running back Rashad Jennings. McAdoo was brought into New York to spark life in an offense that ended in the bottom-five in offense last season. Having run the West Coast offense while in Green Bay, the coordinator quickly transformed the Giants into this system. West Coast offenses are known for short passes near the line of scrimmage and a hurry-up mentality. The Giants brass hired McAdoo hoping he could raise Eli Manning’s career 58.5% completion rate (hasn’t topped 60% in a season since 2011). What they didn’t expect was the massive role Jennings would play in the new scheme. Through week 3, Jennings has carried the rock 68 times for nearly 300 yards. In the current age of football, it’s hard to find many bell cow running backs. You need not look any further to find one. Having ceded just 19 carries to backup Andre Williams, this backfield is all Jennings. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks as McAdoo and Jennings take their marriage and turn it into wedded bliss (in the form of many, many fantasy points).
Week 4 Rankings:
Here are my week 4 rankings broken down by position. I’ve also included my top 50 flex for those who can’t decide if they need to start a RB, WR, or TE in that flex spot. On to the rankings….
This tool is free and I promise to get back to you by the end of the day you send in your question. Send away!
Good luck to everyone this week!
This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve
Week after week, the NFL never fails to prove why it is the pinnacle of sporting competition. At no other level of professional sports is there more unpredictability or frustration for fantasy owners. Here are the top fantasy performers, along with the biggest disappointments, from Sunday’s games in the topsy-turvy NFL:
1) Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
For the second week in a row, Colston has been the primary beneficiary of strong outings by Saints QB Drew Brees. Colston torched the San Diego Chargers in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football, grabbing nine passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Although he was injured at the start of the season, Colston has proved over the past two weeks that he is healthy and playing at a very high level. Expect more good things to come for Colston and his fantasy owners.
2) Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
Bradshaw had a huge game Sunday for the Giants, gashing the Cleveland Browns all afternoon for his strongest performance of the year. By day’s end, Bradshaw finished with 200 yards rushing and a touchdown, leading all rushers for this week. Although the Giants fell behind in an early 0-14 hole, Bradshaw put the team on his back and carried them to a 41-27 comeback victory.
3) Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Even at the age of 36, Gonzalez still manages to make it look easy. The 16-year veteran took advantage of the Redskins’ porous secondary Sunday, hauling in 13 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. Don’t look now, but Gonzalez leads the league in catches through Week 5.
1) Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
With Greg Jennings hampered by a lingering groin injury, Nelson was expected to have a big game against an inexperienced Colts secondary. Instead, he was only able to make two grabs for 29 yards. Although it was a disappointing day for the Packers as a whole, Sunday was the fourth time in five games that Nelson was held out of the end zone, a problem he rarely encountered last season.
2) Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills
Entering Sunday’s game against the 49ers, Fitzpatrick was the NFL leader in touchdown passes. However, San Francisco’s stout front seven and physical secondary had their way with him, recording an interception while limiting him to 126 passing yards and no touchdowns in a 45-3 shellacking.
3) Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
After surpassing 100 receiving yards in the Panthers’ first two games of the season, Smith has been held in check by opposing defenses. Smith was limited to four catches for 40 yards against the Seahawks, who shut down the entire Carolina offense in a 16-12 victory. Many of Smith’s struggles can be attributed to the play of QB Cam Newton, who has performed inconsistently through the first five games. Once the two begin to click again, Smith’s production will increase dramatically.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning reacts in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.
Eli Manning is the big man in the NFL after one-upping Tom Brady and leading the New York Giants to a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl — in older brother Peyton's house, at that.
Just as Manning did four years ago when the Giants ruined New England's perfect season, he guided them 88 yards to the decisive touchdown, which the Patriots didn't contest as Ahmad Bradshaw ran 6 yards with 57 seconds left.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick reasoned the Giants would run the clock down and kick a short field goal, so he gambled by allowing the six points.
The gamble failed.
And now Manning not only has stamped himself as the elite quarterback he claimed to be when the season began — in the same class as Brady — he’s beaten the Patriots in two thrilling Super Bowls. The Giants (13-7), who stood 7-7 in mid-December, now own the football world, and Manning owns two Super Bowl MVP awards — the same number as Brady.
“It's been a wild game, a wild season,” Manning said. “This isn't about one person. It's about one team, a team coming together.”
Manning led six comeback victories during the season and set an NFL record with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He showed that brilliance in the clutch on the winning drive. He completed five passes, including a sensational 38-yard sideline catch by Mario Manningham to open the drive.
On second down at the Patriots 6 and with only one timeout remaining, Belichick had his defense stand up as Bradshaw took the handoff. Bradshaw thought about stopping short of the end zone, then tumbled in untouched.
“I was yelling to him, ‘Don't score, don't score,’” Manning said. “He tried to stop, but he fell into the end zone.”
Brady couldn't answer in the final 57 seconds, although his desperation pass into the end zone on the final play fell just beyond the grasp of All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England (15-4), winner of 10 straight since a loss to the Giants in November, was done.
Brady headed off with his head bowed, holding his helmet, while around him was the wild celebration by the Giants, NFL champions for the eighth — and perhaps most unlikely — time.
“Great toughness, great faith, and great plays by a number of guys today,” Manning said, deflecting some of the attention. Still, he one-upped Brady. And Peyton.
“It just feels good to win a Super Bowl, it doesn't matter where you are,” Manning said.