Fantasy football: Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger thriving without running game
BY JEFF AGREST firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @JeffreyA22 September 25, 2012 8:16PM
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes in the first half Sunday and is tied for the league lead with eight after three weeks. | AP
WEEK 4 OUTLOOK
GAME OF THE WEEK
Saints at Packers: The Packers figure to look like themselves again against the Saints’ bottom-ranked defense.
GAME OF THE MEEK
Seahawks at Rams: The
Seahawks rank 29th in offense, the Rams 28th. Enjoy.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
49ers RB Frank Gore: Even though Jets CB Darrelle Revis is out, the 49ers will run.
Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson: The Redskins have been getting smoked by wide receivers.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers:
Expect a bounce-back game against the Chiefs, who have allowed eight touchdown passes with one interception.
PLAYERS OF THE MEEK
Titans RB Chris Johnson: One is chance, two is coincidence, three is a trend . . . five is the Texans’ rank against the run.
Lions RB Mikel Leshoure: Don’t go crazy over his first game back. The Vikings are more stout against the run.
Cowboys QB Tony Romo: You might have to play him against the Bears, but don’t expect much.
LAST WEEK’S PICKS
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
RB Donald Brown: 62 yards rushing, 39 receiving
RB Jamaal Charles: 233 yards rushing, 55 receiving, TD run
WR Steve Johnson: 7 catches, 61 yards, TD
PLAYERS OF THE MEEK
QB Joe Flacco: 382 passing yards, 3 TD passes
WR Larry Fitzgerald: 9-114-1
Steelers RBs: 18 carries, 45 yards
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:15AM
Some quarterbacks need a consistent running game to take the pressure off them. Others don’t. The ones who don’t are fantasy gold.
Fantasy owners don’t want quarterbacks who manage games; they want quarterbacks who will take over games and put up gaudy numbers. These three quarterbacks have done that at least once this season without the benefit of a solid ground attack. Whether they can keep it up is debatable.
Jake Locker, Titans
Locker is in his first season as a full-time starter, and he needs help. He hasn’t gotten it from his running game, which ranks last in the league, thanks to Chris Johnson’s massive struggles. But Locker got help Sunday from a Lions pass defense that will help many opposing quarterbacks this season. He threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ overtime victory, and his scoring passes covered 61 and 71 yards. That’s 24 fantasy points (he also rushed for 35 yards and lost a fumble). Locker scored 20 points in the first two games combined.
But Locker won’t see the Lions again this season, and the running game is a mess. Perhaps Locker will have to throw 42 times again because of the ground attack, but the results might not be as positive. We’ll learn more about Locker this week against the Texans’ No. 2 defense. Just make sure you learn with him on your bench.
Matt Ryan, Falcons
After two games, the Falcons were going nowhere with Michael Turner. They incorporated Jacquizz Rodgers early Sunday, but the tandem combined for only 28 yards in the first half. It wasn’t until the second half, when the Falcons were comfortably ahead — thanks to Ryan — that the running game finally got going. Ryan completed 22 of 29 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns before halftime.
Though the Falcons rank 25th in rushing offense, Ryan has kept plugging along like there’s nothing wrong. He’s second among quarterbacks in fantasy points, and his eight touchdown passes are tied for the most in the league. Ryan has a touchdown run, too. He appears to have complete command of the offense, targeting nine players in the victory Sunday against the Chargers. Ryan has a great matchup this week against the Panthers’ 27th-ranked pass defense. But regardless of the matchup, Ryan is a must-play.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
What a lousy time for a bye week. Roethlisberger is coming off a 384-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Raiders, and he ranks third in quarterback fantasy points. All the while, running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have done next to nothing to give the offense balance. The Steelers’ running game ranks 30th in the league.
Maybe the situation will improve when Rashard Mendenhall returns from knee surgery, perhaps in Week 5. Whether he can look as good as Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson have in their returns from a torn anterior cruciate ligament remains to be seen. That figures to keep the pressure on Roethlisberger, whose own history of injury might repeat itself if the offense stays centered around him. With 120 passes through three games, he’s on pace for 640. His career high is 513, set last season. Keep playing him, but make sure you have a reliable backup.