Pair of Vikings lead pick-ups
Week 3 brought a couple of surprising upsets as both the heavily favored Saints and 49ers lost their respective games. The replacement officials continue to be heavily scrutinized while no progress is in the works to bring back the regular officials. The Arizona Cardinals were fueled by their defense while Atlanta also relied on defense to shut down the Chargers. Throw in the Houston Texans, who used the arm of Matt Schaub and you've got the only three teams that are 3-0. Week 4 increases the value of the waiver wire since it marks the start of bye weeks. Only two teams (Pittsburgh and Indianapolis) have Week 4 byes, and then the schedule will have four teams on a bye starting Week 5. Remember the difference that Andre Brown made in Week 3 when considering waiver-wire possibilities.
Christian Ponder, QB, MIN - Ponder had an outstanding game leading his team to a big Week 3 upset. Not only did he hit Kyle Rudolph for two touchdowns, his 23-yard touchdown scamper helped build an early lead for the Vikings. Through the first three weeks he has completed 69 of 97 passes (70.1 percent) while throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions. He has a solid running game with Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harvin is always a scoring threat every time he touches the ball. This week Ponder will get back speedster Jerome Simpson who should provide the deep threat the offense has lacked.
Shaun Hill, QB, DET - Guess who had the highest passer rating this week? Obviously it was Hill who ended the day with a 157.9 rating, which included a lucky Hail Mary, in relief of the injured Matthew Stafford. Hill targeted Calvin Johnson plenty and finished 10-for-13 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If Stafford misses time, Hill would be an interesting play this week, especially in two-quarterback leagues or leagues that allow the use of a quarterback in the flex spot. He has a good matchup at home against Minnesota and has had success when Stafford has been hurt. If you're in a really deep league and looking for another possible lottery ticket at quarterback, the whispers for Nick Foles in Philadelphia could grow louder if Michael Vick struggles again or suffers the inevitable injury.
Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, RB, MIA - Reggie Bush was lucky to avoid a long-term knee injury and should return to the Dolphins within a few weeks. That leaves Daniel Thomas and rookie Lamar Miller left to handle the ball carrying. Miller is mentioned before Thomas only since Thomas already has two fumbles to his credit this season on only 24 touches. While it's a small sample size, Miller has 19 carries for 113 yards (5.9 YPC) vs. Thomas' 22 carries for 80 yards (3.6 YPC). Later this week we should have a better idea of who will get the most work, but Miller has considerable upside if the 'Fins go with him as the starter.
Tashard Choice, RB, BUF - Choice was called upon to handle the workload Sunday after C.J. Spiller left the game with a sprained shoulder. Choice finished the game with 91 rushing yards on 20 carries (4.55 YPC) and caught two passes for eight yards. Choice's numbers indicate the Bills have a very underrated offensive line, something C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson would both acknowledge. While Spiller is ruled out for this week, Jackson will try to play coming off a knee injury. He's expected to practice later this week but likely won't handle the full workload. Spiller's injury is also being downplayed at this point, which probably makes Choice a one-week rental unless either of his two teammates suffers a setback.
Jerome Simpson, WR, MIN - Simpson will return this weekend from a three-game suspension due to his off-field transgressions. He will provide the deep threat the Vikings have missed at wide receiver, as his 14.5 yards per catch mark from a season ago indicates. Teams will shadow Kyle Rudolph in the red zone, and both Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson will draw attention from Simpson, giving him plenty of man-on-man coverage. Minnesota's defense is only league average and should be in a lot of high-scoring affairs within the division, which means Simpson should carve out a nice role in the passing game.
Denarius Moore, WR, OAK - After dealing with a hamstring injury that limited Moore in preseason and cost him the team's first game, Moore made an impact Sunday. Moore caught only five catches for 45 yards but one of those was for a touchdown. It would appear that a few things are working in Moore's favor these days. First, he wasn't even listed on the injury report, so the hamstring injury shouldn't be a concern any longer. Teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey will probably miss some time after taking a devastating hit, leaving Moore the primary target for Carson Palmer. Moore has elite speed and playing on a team with a bad defense, he should continue to see the nine targets per game he averages.
Michael Floyd, WR, ARI - This is in no way an endorsement to pick up Floyd and plug him into your lineup. He's been incredibly efficient as a fantasy player, making his one catch until this point good for a touchdown. Floyd isn't playing much but could have a big impact over the second half of the season. He has the prototypical size and speed to be a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL but is buried on the depth chart. The good news is Kevin Kolb has looked serviceable and whether it's an injury or his sheer talent, Floyd should get a shot to produce at some point. For now, grab him if you have a dead spot on your bench.
Heath Miller, TE, PIT - Miller is an obvious waiver target considering he's scored in each of the first three games and had a two-touchdown game against Oakland. Miller only had four touchdowns the last two seasons, but with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Miller has been used more in the passing game this year and has not had to stay in to block as much. He's been targeted 20 times, which puts him on pace for 107 targets for the season. He won't suddenly turn into Rob Gronkowski in the red zone, but an increase an targets bodes well for his future production.
Arizona D/ST - The Cardinals are the surprise team of the league, putting together three straight games of outstanding defense. They've given up 40 points over the three games (13.3 per game), which is remarkable considering they've faced Philadelphia, New England and Seattle. They're pass defense is especially good as they've given up only 206 passing yards per game. The team has forced four fumbles (one was returned for a touchdown), which ties for the league lead, and its 12 sacks is second only to Chicago. Patrick Peterson is a ball-hawking safety who is one of the better punt returners in the game, adding to the value.
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