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Cullen: 50 Points on Week Three

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Scott Cullen
9/24/2013 2:05:04 PM
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For those that follow my Twitter feed, you might be aware that I was in Dallas on the weekend, my first time seeing a game at the new Cowboys, er, AT & T Stadium. I had seen a game in the old stadium, and as a kid who grew up on the Doomsday Defence and Tony Dorsett, that was pretty cool.

The new stadium is something else. It is a complete monument to excess and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's loud and huge and everything I would expect about football in Texas, where high school teams play in 20,000-seat stadiums.

I've been to a decent number of NFL and college football games, nearly all in the Northeast and Midwest, so the Texas experience is different. Having been to Notre Dame half a dozen times, I was sure that the marriage of sports fanaticism and religion made the Notre Dame bookstore a premier juggernaut on game day, with massive lines for merchandise.

In Dallas, it was at a whole new level, with massive lines of people all waiting for the privilege of buying merchandise from the 18 cash registers that were open in the one store I happened to enter. There are many reasons that the Cowboys are the most valuable NFL franchise, but the merchandising of the silver star is part of it and the fanaticism Texans have for football feeds that machine.

As for the game itself, the Cowboys were so much better than the Rams on Sunday, it wasn't even a contest. The 31-7 final score didn't do justice to the mismatch, which only made the celebrating louder and bigger and completely over the top -- just what I expected from a football game in Big D.

On to this week's 50 points, a look back at Week Three of the NFL season, Peyton Manning brilliance, Jimmy Graham a cut above, Bilal Powell makes his mark and unstoppable Julio Jones.

1. The only other time Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (203 YDS, 1 TD, 29 touches) had played the St. Louis Rams, he rushed for 253 yards on 25 carries in 2011. Murray had an easy time of it against the Rams' run defence, a group that had surrendered 36 yards on 16 carries against the Falcons in Week Two.

2. Broncos QB Peyton Manning (32-for-37, 374 YDS, 3 TD) shredded the Raiders defence and Broncos WR Eric Decker (8 REC, 133 YDS, 1 TD, 8 targets) was the big winner, but virtually every option works in the Denver passing game.

3. WR Demaryius Thomas (10 REC, 94 YDS, 11 targets), WR Wes Welker (7 REC, 84 YDS, 1 TD, 8 targets) and TE Julius Thomas (3 REC, 37 YDS, 1 TD, 4 targets) were all involved for the Broncos.

4. Jets RB Bilal Powell (158 YDS, 29 touches) torched the Bills defence, which isn't altogether surprising. Jacksonville (507) is the only team to surrender more rushing yards than Buffalo's 465.

5. Saints TE Jimmy Graham has 19 catches for 313 yards in the last two weeks, more yardage than any other tight end has put up through three games this season.

6. Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (120 YDS, 23 carries) quietly ranks third among all runners with 291 rushing yards through the first three weeks, behind only LeSean McCoy (395) and Doug Martin (297).

7. Falcons WR Julio Jones (9 REC, 115 YDS, 12 targets) keeps rolling and leads the league with 373 receiving yards, ahead of Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson (359) who had a modest 62 yards receiving in Thursday night's loss to Kansas City. So long as Roddy White is an after-thought, playing with a high ankle sprain, Jones is clearly the Falcons' best option.

8. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (26-for-41, 406 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT) put up big numbers in another Steelers loss, this time incorporating WR Antonio Brown (9 REC, 196 YDS, 2 TD, 13 targets) into the offence. Brown has not been pleased with his use in Todd Haley's offence, so he at least got the ball, even if it didn't have much bearing on the final outcome.

9. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (158 YDS, 1 TD, 20 carries) is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, best among running backs with at least 40 carries. Alfred Morris (5.6) ranks second.

10. Another dud game for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (13-for-27, 150 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT) leaves the 49ers with a lot of questions. At his best, Kaepernick makes the game look easy because he can outrun mistakes and, as he showed in Week One, is a capable passer. But he's passed for a Tebow-esque 277 yards in the last two weeks and no amount of running is going to make up for that lack of efficiency through the air.

11. Packers RB James Starks had such a great effort in relief of an injured Eddie Lacy in Week Two, but left Sunday's game with 55 yards on 14 carries after suffering a knee injury. That led to rookie Jonathan Franklin (126 YDS, 16 touches) delivering a big game, albeit one in which his fourth-quarter fumble was returned for the game-winning score. With the Packers on a bye in Week Four, there is a better chance for their backfield to be healthy and now it appears that they have a few legitimate options as ball carriers.

12. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (172 YDS, 1 TD, 27 touches) ranks third in yards from scrimmage, among running backs, with 375, behind LeSean McCoy (514) and DeMarco Murray (402).

13. Bengals RB Gio Bernard (99 YDS, 1 TD, 14 touches) continues to take more of the action in the Cincinnati backfield, pulling ahead of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (29 YDS, 1 TD, 10 carries, one fumble).

14. Before suffering a broken arm in a car accident Monday night, Lions WR Nate Burleson (6 REC, 116 YDS, 9 targets) joined Calvin Johnson (7 REC, 115 YDS, 1 TD, 13 targets) with big receiving days against Washington.

15. Burleson leads all wide receivers with receptions on 82.6% of the passes sent his way and now that he's out, Ryan Broyles becomes more appealing in the Lions' offence.

16. Titans QB Jake Locker (23-for-37, 299 YDS, 1 TD; 68 YDS, 5 carries) had the third-most passing yards of his career in the win over San Diego, with veteran WR Nate Washington (8 REC, 131 YDS) having the big game. Enigmatic WR Kenny Britt had zero catches on five targets so, thanks for that.

17. Browns QB Brian Hoyer (30-for-54, 321 YDS, 3 TD, 3 INT) had a roller-coaster of a day in his first start for Cleveland, ultimately earning a road win.

18. Back from suspension, WR Josh Gordon (10 REC, 146 YDS, 1 TD) was a beast and TE Jordan Cameron (6 REC, 66 YDS, 3 TD) continued his stellar play. Cameron ranks second among tight ends, behind only the Saints' Jimmy Graham, with 269 receiving yards this season.

19. Patriots rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were better against Tampa Bay. Dobson (7 REC, 52 YDS, 10 targets) was still QB Tom Brady's most targeted receiver. Thompkins had three catches for 41 yards, including two touchdowns, on seven targets.

20. Bills rookie WR Robert Woods (2 REC, 35 YDS, 10 targets) had a tough day against the Jets. Among receivers targeted at least 15 times through three weeks, Wood's 38.9% receiving percentage ranks fifth-worst, ahead of Riley Cooper (37.5%), Greg Little (36.7%), Kenbrell Thompkins (32.1%) and Kenny Britt (31.3%).

21. Having traded Trent Richardson to the Colts last week, the Browns signed RB Willis McGahee (9 YDS, 8 carries) and got minimal production in his first game. Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey are looking for touches in that Cleveland backfield too, but McGahee seems the best bet of a bad lot for now.

22. Patriots RB Stevan Ridley (43 YDS, 12 touches) continues to struggle and is opening the door for LeGarrette Blount (65 YDS, 14 carries) and Brandon Bolden (100 YDS, 8 touches), who were both more productive against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Ridley has run for 121 yards (3.4 yards per carry) through three games.

23. Without Mark Ingram, Saints RB Pierre Thomas (67 YDS, 17 touches) got more touches. Darren Sproles (56 YDS, 7 touches) was effective, though he didn't get as many looks. Khiry Robinson led the Saints with 38 yards rushing on four carries, but that was all from the game's final drive when the outcome was already decided.

24. Lions QB Matthew Stafford (25-for-42, 385 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT) had a big day against the Washington D, which doesn't count as a surprise. Washington has allowed 999 passing yards in three weeks (ranking 31st), allowing a league-high 9.8 yards per pass attempt.

25. In the absence of an injured Reggie Bush, Lions RB Joique Bell had 132 yards and a touchdown on 24 touches. Bell has been productive enough to warrant fantasy considering with Bush in the lineup so when Bush is out, Bell is a prime option.

26. Washington QB Robert Griffin III continued piling up empty calories (326 YDS passing), though no touchdowns, in Washington's third straight loss. He ranks third with 975 passing yards this season, so he provides fantasy value, but he's also run for 62 yards in three games (20.7 yards per game), a far cry from the pace of last year's 815 rushing yards (50.9 yards per game).

27. Panthers QB Cam Newton (15-for-27, 223 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT; 45 YDS, 1 TD, 6 carries) didn't put up huge yardage against the Giants, but counting for four touchdowns made him a valuable performer nonetheless.

28. With Ray Rice out, Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (72 YDS, 1 TD, 26 touches) had a pedestrian game, not that it mattered much as the Ravens won easily against Houston.

29. With Steven Jackson out, Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers (93 YDS, 20 touches) and Jason Snelling (111 YDS, 15 touches) both had very productive games, even if it ultimately came in a losing effort.

30. Bills RB C.J. Spiller was hurt after 11 yards on 10 touches against the Jets. Fred Jackson (109 YDS, 11 touches) made the most of his opportunity, though Spiller has indicated that he expects to play against the Ravens next week.

31. The Broncos backfield wasn't so Moreno-slanted as it might have appeared after Week Two. Against the Raiders, Ronnie Hillman (78 YDS, 1 TD, 10 touches) and Montee Ball (61 YDS, 11 carries) were at least as productive as Knowshon Moreno (45 YDS, 13 touches).

32. Jets QB Geno Smith (16-for-29, 331 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT) had a productive game, hitting wide receivers Santonio Holmes (5 REC, 154 YDS, 1 TD, 10 targets) and Stephen Hill (3 REC, 108 YDS, 1 TD) for more than 100 yards. As Smith develops, Jets receivers start to have appeal, especially as bye weeks hit the schedule.

33. In the first week with Trent Richardson in the Colts' backfield, RB Ahmad Bradshaw (111 YDS, 1 TD, 22 touches) was still the top back. Richardson scored a touchdown, but 35 yards on 13 carries was nothing special.

34. 49ers RB Frank Gore (103 YDS, 13 touches) didn't get a lot of action against Indianapolis, but was productive enough. Given the state of their passing game, maybe he could have been used more often.

35. Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (8 REC, 143 YDS, 15 targets) finally went off. Shorts leads the league with 40 targets through three games.

36. Seahawks TE Luke Willson (5 REC, 76 YDS), a Windsor, Ontario native who played at Rice, made his first mark in the Seattle passing game. With a declining Zach Miller ahead of him on the depth chart, Willson has an opportunity to see more action.

37. Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (7 REC, 141 YDS, 7 targets) had a huge game against the Eagles.

38. Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor (19-for-28, 281 YDS, 1 TD; 36 YDS, 4 carries) was productive again in a loss for the Raiders and leads the league with 7.6 yards per carry. WR Denarius Moore (6 REC, 124 YDS, 1 TD, 11 targets) was the preferred target for Pryor against Denver Monday night.

39. With mediocre production from starter Ryan Mathews (189 yards from scrimmage in three games), Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (86 YDS, 12 touches vs. Tennessee) is becoming a more valuable contributor.

40. With RB Daryl Richardson out of action for Rams, Isaiah Pead (63 YDS, 13 touches) was the replacement. It looked like a long day for the Rams backfield when the first carry of the day went to WR Tavon Austin, who lined up in the backfield.

41. Steelers running backs Jonathan Dwyer (48 YDS, 13 touches) and Felix Jones (47 YDS, 9 touches) had modestly productive days, but did nothing to dispel the notion that the Steelers need rookie Le'Veon Bell to take control of the running game as soon as possible.

42. Julio Jones leads all receivers with 208 yards after catch; DeSean Jackson (161) and Demaryius Thomas (146) are next among wideouts. Joique Bell (163) ranks second overall.

43. There are four receivers with four recorded drops through the first three games: Tavon Austin, Eric Decker, Aaron Dobson and Doug Martin.

44. Julio Jones also has the most catches (27) without recording a drop.

45. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill leads the league with five fumbles lost. Ben Roethlisberger and RGIII both have four.

46. Robert Griffin III and Terrelle Pryor have both recovered two of their own fumbles, best in the league, but also an indication of favourable bounces from a ball of that shape.

47. The top five quarterbacks in yards after catch are Matthew Stafford (625), Matt Ryan (581), Aaron Rodgers (544), Sam Bradford (526) and Robert Griffin III (508).

48. Among quarterbacks to play in all three games, Cam Newton (184), Terrelle Pryor (192) and Jake Locker (196) have the fewest yards after the catch.

49. Chiefs OLB Justin Houston (4.5 sacks against Philadelphia) now leads the league with 7.5 sacks. Robert Mathis and Mario Williams are tied for second with 4.5 sacks through three weeks.

50. Other big defensive days in Week Three: Bengals OLB Vontaze Burfict (11 tackles), DE Michael Johnson (7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 PD), Vikings MLB Erin Hendersn (8 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 PD), Buccaneers SS Mark Barron (11 tackles, 1 INT, .5 sack), Cardinals OLB Karlos Dansby (12 tackles, 2 TFL), Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett (3 sacks), Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah (7 tackles, 2 sacks), Panthers DE Greg Hardy (8 tackles, 3 sacks), Ravens ILB Daryl Smith (10 tackles, 1 INT TD), Bills OLB Manny Lawson (14 tackles, 1 TFL), Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (6 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 QB hits), Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny (12 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL)

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

DeMarco Murray (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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