Big day for Rodgers, Vick

BY foxsports • October 3, 2011

Earlier this week, I celebrated the bravado of Matthew Stafford in calling his shot for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. Owners had to wait for that glorious second touchdown from Calvin Johnson, but it was a touchdown that made a huge statement to the league. The Lions sit at 4-0 for the first time since 1980.

Stafford completed 21-of-40 passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The ability to throw the ball up in any situation and know “my guy will go get it” is a wonderful thing. Stafford averaged 304.3 passing yards with 11 touchdowns against three interceptions in the first quarter of the season.

Calvin Johnson posted his fourth consecutive two-touchdown game in Sunday’s improbable comeback win over Detroit. He’s averaging six receptions and 80.3 receiving yards per game. Can he make it five? The heretofore miserable Chicago pass defense arrives in Detroit for the rare Monday night tilt in Week 5.

Cam Newton closed out Sunday’s loss to Chicago in grand style with a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen (five receptions for 50 yards in his return to Chicago). He used his 6-foot-5 body to reach the ball into the end zone early and finished with two rushing touchdowns. Newton finished the game with 374 yards on 27-for-46 passing while adding 35 rushing yards. He has one turnover, an interception returned for a touchdown by D.J. Moore.

Steve Smith continued his huge start to the 2011 season by terrorizing the Chicago secondary. Smith recorded eight receptions for 181 yards, including a 53-yarder. He’s topped 150 receiving yards in three of the Panthers’ first four games. Smith needs 24 receiving yards to match his entire 2010 yardage output.

The Chicago D/ST scored two touchdowns to wash some of the taste of a dismal overall defensive effort to the wayside. I mean, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams ran well, too. D.J. Moore recorded an interception off of a deflection and returned it for a touchdown. Devin Hester recorded the 11th return touchdown of his career.

The Bears finally leaned on the running game against the Panthers with Matt Forte. Forte pummeled the Panthers for 205 yards on 25 carries and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. Chicago fans celebrated the fact that the team finally let him run instead of relegating him to life as a pass receiver. Forte did catch four passes for 23 yards.

I can’t wait to hear the backlash against Tony Romo following Sunday’s loss to Detroit. Be careful that you don’t get whiplash. Romo was awful down the stretch, to be sure, with those two interceptions returned for touchdowns. However, wait for it, Romo doesn’t run the ball!

Romo finished the game with 331 passing yards with three touchdowns to go with three interceptions and a sack. He’s averaging 318.3 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns and six turnovers.

Jason Witten starred for the Cowboys again in Sunday’s loss. Witten recorded eight receptions for 94 yards, including his first touchdown reception of the season. He’s off to another fantastic start for the Cowboys, averaging 6.8 receptions and 91.5 receiving yards per contest.

Dez Bryant rewarded gutsy fantasy owners with red zone brilliance against the Detroit secondary. Bryant caught only three passes for 37 yards, but two of them went for touchdowns.

Laurent Robinson ascended to the starting lineup and earned a late “Ninja” tag on our FOX Sports Radio show. Robinson did me proud with a seven-reception, 116-yard effort.

The return of Arian Foster to the field prompted an unenthusiastic “Sure, start him” against the Pittsburgh front. Foster ran over the heart of the Pittsburgh season and logged an amazing 155 yards on 30 carries in the Texans’ win. Welcome back, Mr. Foster. Yes, I care about you.

Owen Daniels scored on a great play-fake against the Steelers, his third consecutive game with a touchdown reception. Daniels finished the game with five receptions for 69 yards, his second consecutive game with five catches.

The mantra of the 2011 season is simple. “Throw the ball up and let your playmakers, well, make plays.” Dwayne Bowe caught a 52-yard pass from Matt Cassel for a touchdown and notched his second 100-yard game of the season (five receptions for 107 yards). He’s caught 14 passes in the past three weeks and scored in back-to-back games.

Donovan McNabb posted a solid effort against the Chiefs, but the Vikings remained winless. He passed for 202 yards with two touchdowns (Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins) against one interception in the 22-17 defeat. McNabb averaged 170 passing yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in the Vikings’ first four games. The Christian Ponder era will come soon.

Percy Harvin caught only five passes for 42 yards against Kansas City. However, he did carry the ball four times for 67 yards, including a 39-yarder. The Vikings are committed to getting him the ball after struggling to do so early in the season. For all of the ills on this squad, I supposed that notion counts as progress.

Steve Breaston caught four passes for 91 yards against the Vikings. It’s enough to put him on the radar going forward, particularly for owners with injury-riddled receiving corps as the Bye weeks begin.

Andy Dalton struggled terribly early on Sunday, but the rookie from TCU rallied late to lead the Bengals to a resounding home win. Dalton completed only 50% of his passes overall for 298 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He did score on a 14-yard touchdown run to thrust him into the “Hero” category.

Dalton connected with talented rookie receiver A.J. Green four times for 118 yards, his second 100-yard effort of the season. He’s caught 18 passes through the last three weeks.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham was the recipient of Dalton’s lone touchdown pass. He finished the game with four receptions for 70 yards, his second consecutive game with four receptions (51 yards in Week 3). Antonio Gates owners need to be mindful of Gresham and whether he’s still floating on the waiver wire. Remember, Gresham caught 52 passes as a rookie in 2010.

There weren’t many fireworks in the Buffalo-Cincinnati game, but Fred Jackson continued his steady run to fantasy greatness. Jackson scored for the third consecutive game while posting 98 total yards on 22 touches (five receptions for 32 yards). He averaged 129 total yards and a touchdown through the Bills’ first four games.

Cedric Benson wasn’t overwhelming, but he generated his second 100-yard effort of the season in Sunday’s win over Buffalo (104 yards on 19 carries). The Bengals face Jacksonville in Week 5, the final game ahead of the Week 6 Bye.

Matt Hasselbeck is “The Minimalist.” Hasselbeck continued his hot start with a 220-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Browns. He completed only 10 passes in the resounding road win. Hasselbeck averaged 288 passing yards with eight touchdowns against four turnovers in the Titans’ first four games.

Jared Cook rose up as a “Ninja” option following Kenny Britt’s injury, and he didn’t disappoint in Sunday’s win at Cleveland. Cook broke out for an 80-yard touchdown reception, finishing the day with two grabs for 93 yards.

I’m not going to overstate it. Chris Johnson ran for 101 yards on 23 carries. It wasn’t world-beating, but the triple-digit output at least made you feel a little warm and fuzzy. Johnson added two receptions for 11 yards.

Colt McCoy attempted 61 passes in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee. He completed 40 passes for 350 yards with one touchdown (Benjamin Watson, who caught six passes for 48 yards), one interception and one sack. McCoy had averaged 211.3 passing yards through the Browns’ first three games, but blowout losses will help boost things in a hurry. If Joe Thomas’ injury issue remains and Joe Haden misses Week 4, it could be a long day in Oakland.

Ryan Torain emerged from the weeds and tormented fans and fantasy owners with a big day against the Rams. Torain carried the ball 19 times for 135 yards and scored in Sunday’s win. Tim Hightower owners were incensed and cursed themselves for going down the road with Mike Shanahan again.

Santana Moss didn’t put up a huge yardage count against the Rams, but he did make a nifty catch at the edge of the end zone for his second touchdown of the season. Moss caught at least five passes in each of the Redskins’ first four games.

As we await the latest press conference to add another tag to the medical chart on Michael Vick (should we mark the non-injured portions in red?), we celebrate Vick’s powerhouse statistical output against the 49ers. Vick passed for 416 yards (30-for-46) with two touchdowns, one interception and two sacks. He added 75 rushing yards.

DeSean Jackson is a maddening proposition for fantasy owners. He logged a 100-yard effort in the opener before generating four total receptions for 51 yards against the Falcons and Giants combined. Jackson exploded for six receptions and 171 yards against the 49ers.

Alex Smith led the 49ers to a fantastic comeback effort against the Eagles. He passed for 291 yards with two touchdowns (Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis) and a lost fumble with three sacks. The 49ers sit atop the NFC West with a 3-1 record.

Frank Gore was a difficult proposition on Sunday against the Eagles despite the advantageous matchup against the struggling Philadelphia front. Gore powered through the Eagles for 127 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. He added two receptions for 12 yards. Gore is up to his old ways again. If he drives you insane on the injury report, he posts a big game.

Kendall Hunter was on the “Ninja” list against the Eagles, and he delivered a strong effort in tandem with Gore. Hunter logged 100 total yards on 11 touches, including a 44-yard reception.

Michael Crabtree didn’t do anything to justify a standing ovation, but he did finally make some waves in the passing game. Crabtree caught five of nine targets for 68 yards. The long road begins with a single step, right?

Jimmy Graham logged his second consecutive 100-yard game and scored for the third time in four games against the Jaguars. Graham caught 10 passes to lead the Saints to victory. He caught four or more passes in each of the Saints’ first four games.

Darren Sproles is now cemented in Flex spots for owners in PPR leagues. Sproles rushed for a season-high 75 yards against the Jaguars and offered five receptions for 56 yards. He caught at least five passes in each of the Saints’ first four games.

Maybe there was something to this Tarvaris Jackson-Sidney Rice union after all. The Seahawks didn’t shock the Falcons on Sunday, but Seattle gave them a scare after falling behind huge early. Jackson passed for 319 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. He connected with Sidney Rice on a 52-yard strike and later found Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu to make it a game (Lynch scored on the ground).

I celebrate the power of Michael Turner. Turner rushed for 70 yards on 26 carries (a woeful average, to be sure), but powered through the Seattle line for two touchdowns. He even added two receptions for 18 yards. It was a nice rebound from a terrible effort against the Buccaneers in Week 3. Turner averaged 76 rushing yards (three touchdowns) in the Falcons’ first four games.

Julio Jones registered his second straight 100-yard effort against the Seahawks. Jones caught 11 passes for 127 yards in the narrow win. He averaged six receptions and 85.5 receiving yards through the Falcons’ first four games.

Tony Gonzalez is some kind of cyborg or something. The ageless tight end went to work again on Sunday against the Seahawks. Gonzalez tied his season high with seven receptions. He recorded 56 receiving yards, including a 22-yard reception. Gonzalez has already scored four touchdowns.

Beanie Wells was a difficult play for fantasy owners. Ken Whisenhunt said he’d be available, but Wells’ history made him a risky proposition. Wells took the ball and ran … and ran … and ran. Wells finished Sunday’s loss to New York with 138 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns. He’s scored in each of the three games in which he’s appeared.

Eli Manning rallied the Giants late and posted a strong fantasy day. He was one of the “Must-Starts” this week, so the late touchdown pass let him deliver on great promise. Manning passed for 321 yards with two touchdowns and a lost fumble. He’s thrown eight touchdown passes in the past three weeks against one turnover.

Hakeem Nicks appeared on the injury report late in the week, clearly a “Rope-A-Dope” effort. Nicks caught 10 of the 14 passes for which he was intended for 162 yards and a touchdown.

Victor Cruz is in the news this week for the non-fumble/fumble call in the waning moments of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. I’ll just give him a knowing nod for delivering six receptions for 98 yards and a “Ninja” special.

Larry Fitzgerald narrowly missed notching a touchdown grab against the Giants (he was out at the one), but he did log eight receptions for 102 yards. Fitzgerald was targeted 11 times by Kevin Kolb in the loss.

Tom Brady didn’t put up a huge total, but he was efficient in his first “post-haircut” outing. Brady passed for 226 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. The race to 5,000 took paused for a week. Can he solve the Jets in Week 5?

Wes Welker continued his assault on opposing defensive backs with another fantastic performance in Oakland. Welker caught nine of 14 targets for 158 yards and a touchdown. He’s already amassed 40 receptions for 616 yards with five touchdowns. Welker recorded 848 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions all of last season.

Stevan Ridley was on the board as a “Ninja” call for fantasy owners following his Week 3 emergence. He delivered a big effort on the ground alongside BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Ridley produced 100 total yards on 11 touches (97 rushing and three receiving), including a touchdown run. Go make your claim, as Danny Woodhead left this one with an injury to set up the timeshare with BJGE.

Green-Ellis bulldozed the Raiders in tandem with Ridley, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on his 16 carries (75 rushing yards) with his third touchdown of the season.

Darren McFadden put up 123 total yards on 18 touches against the Patriots (75 rushing and 48 receiving on four receptions). McFadden averaged 150 total yards through the Raiders’ first four games. Unfortunately, he watched Michael Bush receive the goal-line glory in Week 4. Bush amassed 81 total yards on 12 touches in the loss.

Jason Campbell didn’t dominate, but he delivered a solid “Ninja” appearance against the Patriots. Campbell passed for 344 yards (115 from Darrius Heyward-Bey) with one touchdown, two interceptions and 29 rushing yards.

Do I need to lay out all of Aaron Rodgers’ brilliance? He posted one of the most ridiculous fantasyland days ever and probably becomes the guy on the logo (like Jerry West). Rodgers passed for a season-high 408 yards with four touchdowns. He rushed for 36 yards and two touchdowns. The lone blemish was an interception.

Through four weeks, Rodgers has tallied 14 total touchdowns with 1,325 passing yards against two turnovers.

Greg Jennings scored for the third time in four games and posted his second straight 100-yard performance (seven receptions for 103 yards). Jennings averaged 6.25 receptions and 91.5 receiving yards through the Packers’ first four games.

Jordy Nelson generated a huge day against the Denver secondary as well. Nelson, like Jennings, scored for the third time in four games, and finished the day with five receptions for 91 yards.

James Jones and Donald Driver also found the end zone for the Packers.

Kyle Orton had an early interception returned by Charles Woodson for a touchdown. He then posted a strong fantasy day in the blowout loss. Orton passed for 273 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions and a sack. He’s thrown seven touchdowns in the past three weeks, but the calls for Tebow are getting louder by the minute.

Just keep chucking it up. Good things will happen, or you’ll at least make fantasy owners smile. Brandon Lloyd caught eight passes for 136 yards against the Packers. He’d caught 10 passes for 127 yards in the Broncos’ first two games before missing Week 3.

Eric Decker fulfilled his “Ninja” promise with two short touchdowns against the Packers. Decker caught five passes for 56 yards, his third consecutive game with at least five receptions and second two-touchdown game (Week 2 versus Cincinnati). He’s a tough play against San Diego in Week 5 unless you’re in a PPR league.

Willis McGahee took advantage of his opportunities in Sunday’s burial, rushing 15 times for 103 yards (two receptions for 10 yards). McGahee has posted two 100-yard games in the past three weeks.


Vincent Jackson caught three passes for 108 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown reception before leaving with an injury. His leg will be reevaluated on Monday, and his status for Week 5 against Denver is unknown.

Ryan Mathews didn’t find the end zone against the Dolphins, but you’re not complaining about his 149 total yards on 21 touches (81 rushing, 68 receiving). Mathews averaged 85.4 total yards with three touchdowns through the Chargers’ first four games.

Did you gamble on Mike Tolbert? If so, you were rewarded with a short touchdown plunge. Tolbert touched the ball 11 times for 68 total yards (five receptions for 51 yards).

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the major stars in the Sunday night game between the Ravens and Jets. The defenses and special teams combined to score five touchdowns with four sacks and seven turnovers.

Ray Rice was the lone offensive star in this contest. Rice amassed 130 total yards on 27 touches, including a 52-yard reception, and scored the game’s lone offensive touchdown.

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