It's Week 3, which means we have twice as much information as we did last week. So let's make some calls, Stock Watch-style.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Many analysts were down on Philip Rivers entering this season, arguing that he was unlikely to duplicate his 8.4 YPA from last season and that his low amount of attempts would drag down his fantasy value. My colleague Michael Salfino, who wrote here that even Norv Turner would be smart enough to build his offense around his best player, astutely rejected this logic. Turner no longer even has a choice but to throw early and often in San Diego. The team's best defensive player, Jamal Williams (yes, he's better than Shawne Merriman), is out for the year and the resulting defensive lapses will force Rivers to air it out. On the other side of the ball, Rivers has several freaks to throw to, most notably Vincent Jackson (who is more valuable than Anquan Boldin, by the way) and Antonio Gates. Also, with LaDainian Tomlinson nicked up and the Chargers suffering significant injuries on their offensive line, this has become a pass-first team. Expect Rivers to finish with better fantasy stats than Peyton Manning.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: What happens when a rookie quarterback who led his team to the playoffs begins his second year in the league and has an offense filled with Pro Bowl skill players (Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Michael Turner)? He develops a ceiling as high as any fantasy quarterback except Drew Brees. Don't be surprised to see Ryan and Philip Rivers finish second and third among all fantasy quarterbacks. Given their mid-round draft selections, it's safe to say the stock of both has increased.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants: What Manningham has done is not a fluke. I'd be happy starting him this week against a Bucs defense that has given up five passing TDs of 30-plus yards in just two games.
Dallas Clark, TE, Colts: I mentioned last week that the loss of Anthony Gonzalez would help Clark and Reggie Wayne more than it would Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. But if everyone plays the Colts like the Dolphins did (doubling Wayne all game and leaving Clark one-on-one), then Clark will be the real beneficiary. Clark suddenly has a ceiling as high as any fantasy TE.
Lawrence Tynes, K, Giants: ow long do the Giants have to struggle in the red zone before you pick up Tynes off waivers? This is a top-five fantasy kicker, folks.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears and Steve Slaton, Texans: Any concerns about Forte's slow start will be eliminated the next two weeks, after he runs through the Seahawks and Lions. If you can get Forte for less than full value after facing the Steelers tough run defense, do so. Same for Steve Slaton, who had to navigate through (or, more accurately, could NOT navigate through) two of the better run defenses (Jets, Titans) the first two weeks.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Brady was getting drafted as a second-round pick in August. Would you draft him there again, right now, if you had the chance? I sure wouldn't. Yes, the name on his jersey is still the same, but this is not the Tom Brady from 2007. I've watched both Patriots games and confidently note that Brady's mechanics are off. He's not planting his left leg (the surgically-repaired one) and stepping into his throws. As a result, he's been inaccurate — maybe not by JaMarcus Russell standards, but certainly by his own. If you don't understand what I'm saying, pull out the tape from the Jets game, or watch him this week. Don't watch his arm or the ball, watch his left leg. He's not planting it and driving through his throws (particularly when he's facing the blitz, which, not coincidentally, the Jets brought all game). That's why, after two games, he's only played well were when the Bills were in prevent defense in the fourth quarter in Week 1. I'm not saying to put Brady on waivers. But until he gets over the psychological hurdle posed by his torn ACL, I'd rather have Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers. You may disagree, but the fact that we can argue about it shows that Brady's stock sunk since August. Of course, this is also a very big problem for Randy Moss owners.
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