By Kevin Lewis
Eli Manning, Giants– Fresh off the thrashing of the Redskins defense, Eli has quietly put together three straight solid performances. In the last three weeks, Manning has completed 70% of his passes for 811 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Who knows if this is a sign of things to come for Eli, but it seems like the new system in place is reviving his career. In the short term, Manning gets to deal with the defenseless Falcons in week 5. Going forward he has five games with the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins. Maybe, just maybe, Eli is a QB1 this season.
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings– I suggested to start Bridgewater in a pinch in the “Start Em, Sit Em” column and he made me look smart with his exploits against the aforementioned defenseless Falcons. He threw for 317 yards, ran for 27 and a TD and committed 0 turnovers. I’m not suggesting to start him on a short week against the Packers but long term he is a QB2 with some upside.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars– Bortles also made his first career start on Sunday and didn’t fare as well as Bridgewater did on Sunday. Bortles faced a far tougher assignment and it showed in his play and in the Jaguars game plan as he only threw three passes further than 15 yards down the field all game. He threw two INTs but also threw for 253 yards and a TD. This week, Bortles is a good play against a weak Steelers defense that made Mike Glennon look like 1996 Drew Bledsoe. Long term, his running ability combined with his throwing ability and the garbage time appeal in Jacksonville make him an intriguing prospect.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings– Jerick McKinnon is one of the most physically gifted RBs in all of football. He showed this on Sunday on some of his long runs against the Falcons. He has struggled in pass protection and in the passing game and that’s kept his playing time curbed. He did manage 135 yards on 18 carries on Sunday however. As long as he keeps flashing that kind of talent, he will be harder to keep off the field. He won’t get the goalline touches in lieu of Matt Asiata but 10-15 touches a game isn’t out of the question. Against the weak Green Bay Packers run defense, McKinnon could be a nice flex play.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens- It’s really difficult to figure out the Baltimore Ravens RB situation right now. The only consistent theme at the moment is that Justin Forsett is slated to get the majority of the touches between the run and pass game. Bernard Pierce was healthy and didn’t manage to collect a single snap on Sunday, which can’t possibly bode well for his chances going forward. That aside, despite a pretty spotty performance outside of garbage time, I remain convinced Taliaferro is the best runner on the team and will be treated as such at some point relatively soon. In the meanwhile, just stash him.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns- Ben Tate is expected to return for the Browns in week 5. With Ben Tate’s decorated injury history and Crowell having passed Terrance West on the depth chart, there is a pretty decent shot Crowell offers RB2/flex value in many weeks going forward. He might also get goalline carries and is perhaps the most gifted back on the team. Saving a spot for him on the bench might pay off big time in the near future.
Brian Quick, Rams- Although St. Louis’ QB situation is largely unsettled, Quick has managed to put together a 16/235/1 line through three games. Given that he has seen 10 more targets than Kenny Britt, Quick could provide WR2 value some weeks depending on matchups. He is a physical specimen who seems to be coming into his own in his third year.
Andrew Hawkins, Browns- With the injury to Jordan Cameron, the Browns have become reliant on Andrew Hawkins to be a safety blanket of sorts for QB Brian Hoyer. Hawkins has been targeted 33(!!) times in the first three games and has posted a 21-244-0 line. Although Jordan Cameron coming back caps his upside a bit, the Browns next three games are against the Titans, Jaguars and the Steelers. Andrew Hawkins has some flex appeal in PPR leagues.
Marvin Jones, Bengals- The Bengals under Jay Gruden were a pass heavy team, and Jones took advantage of that to the tune of 51-712-10 despite only playing half the team’s snaps. While Sanu has a pretty good hold on the #2 job in Cincy for right now, I think Jones will take the position back from him in due time. If you have the space to stash him, do so.
Jordan Reed, Redskins- I know Jordan Reed is injury prone but his physical talents are worth marveling over. Reed might return to the lineup and Niles Paul’s concussion gives him a shot at the majority of the team’s snaps. This is a case of stashing and betting on the player’s talent in hopes that he avoids getting hurt.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Buccaneers- Sefarian-Jenkins played 71 out of 71 snaps against the Steelers. He posted a relatively pedestrian 3-44-0 on 7 targets but his upside is about more than what he actually did on Sunday. WR Mike Evans is injured and Mike Glennon took over the QB job for the moment which means there is a good possibility that the extremely athletic TE gets a high volume of targets.
Owen Daniels, Ravens-Owen Daniels is the main benefactor of Dennis Pitta’s injury. He saw four catches for 43 yards on six targets. He’s a low ceiling but high-floor option at the current juncture.