Something has been wrong with Matthew Stafford for a while. During the preseason and early this year his passes haven’t come out of his hand the same way. Wounded quail and wobbly pigskins aren’t what we are used to seeing from the Lions quarterback, but both have been on display intermittently throughout the preseason and the first three games of the regular season. I ask you, did Stafford suddenly forget how to throw? Stafford left Sunday’s overtime clash with the Titans with a hamstring ailment. He admitted that it had been bothering him earlier in the game and throughout the week. Interesting. I wonder what else the Georgia Bulldog hasn’t told us. After the ride Detroit has taken us on with Jahvid Best, I trust health reports out of the Motor City as much as I trust used car salesmen.
Something is also amiss with what the Motor City is telling us about their backfield situation. Jim Schwartz expressed displeasure with Kevin Smith’s production against San Francisco 49ers following their week 2 loss out west. That’s like scolding a wide receiver for not producing while stranded on Revis Island. Just how ‘terrible’ has number 30 been? In week one Smith put up 4.8 YPC against the Saint Louis Rams. In week two that figure understandably fell to 3.3 against the toughest run defense in the entire NFL. The 49ers yield an average of 2.9 YPC to opposing running backs, so Smith was better than average. The Tennessee Titans run defense is giving up 4.1 YPC. Mikel LeShoure produced only 3.8 YPC. That performance has been greeted with glowing praise. So what gives? Why was Kevin Smith demoted from first string to third string when his production was better than average? He didn’t miss any assignments. I watched the film and after a quick fly through the tape I didn’t see him miss one blocking assignment. However, when healthy, Kevin Smith normally has elite lateral quickness, speed and explosion through holes. His lateral moves against the Niners were very deliberate. There weren’t many lanes for him to run through, but when there were, he only exploded through them a couple of times. Midway through the fourth quarter Smith’s ankle gave out on him during a run after catch out in the open field. The announcer said he slipped. That’s not what I saw. I saw the same thing late in the season last year when he tried to play through his ankle injury.
I think the Lions are resting him so that he’ll heal up. They’re also not mentioning the injury to protect him. They don’t want to talk about the ankle and guarantee that a Greg Williams disciple will try to aggravate the injury by twisting it in the next pile up he’s involved in. Bounty gate revealed the dark side of the NFL that leads some teams to be occasionally dishonest about injuries. Smith’s fantasy future remains sketchy. Even when he’s back the Lions may be tired of his brittle ways. Again, I’m not aware of any reports from the team that he’s hurt; it’s just the tale of the tape.
Clearly Joe Flacco had an arm transplant in the off-season. I see no other logical explanation for his unprecedented deep ball accuracy. Torrey Smith would have had 30 points every week last year if Flacco was half this good in 2011.
When Michael Vick has time and he has wide-open targets he is an elite fantasy QB. When he’s under pressure or his receivers are covered, fuggedaboutit.
Damaris Johnson is a well-kept secret. All he did during the preseason was make plays. He’s worth a stash in case Jeremy Maclin misses more time.
The Brows’ Greg Little’s bout with the dropsies continues. Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Gordon, and Travis Benjamin don’t pose much of an offensive threat either. Enter athletic tight end Jordan Cameron as a possibly stash if you can afford the roster space. An Alex Smith injury opened the door for increased snaps in week three. He hauled in 5 catches on 7 targets and obviously has greater value in 1.5 PPR formats.
Colt speedster TY Hilton broke out with 4 catches on 8 targets and 113 yards. He can’t be relied on yet, but with Collie out for the season and roles still emerging in the Colts young offense, you could do worse with your flex.
Former Colt and Peyton Manning teammate Brandon Stokely made a late impact for the Broncos in their comeback attempt with 6 catches for 73 and a touchdown. He’s someone to track in coming weeks. I’m also going to keep an eye on burners TJ Graham and Chris Givens. Any of these are worth a $1 lotto ticket purchase if you have a dead roster spot.