Is Aaron Rodgers really performing as badly as you think? Should you be excited at the prospects of 16 games of Frank Gore and Doug Martin? Just how good is this Brian Hartline fella? Can Jason Witten continue to roll the ball back to respectability after a horribly slow start to his 2012 season. All this and more in this look around the NFL as we head toward games in Week 5.
Editor's Note: Any reference below to points comes from the Sirius XM Experts League. The league is a standard PPR setup with 1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving, 1 point for 20 passing yards, four points for a passing score and six points for a running/receiving score.
Drew Brees tied the all-time record, held by Johnny Unitas, with 47-straight games with a touchdown pass. Tom Brady has thrown a scoring pass in 36-straight games, tied with Brett Favre for the third longest streak of all-time.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has tossed seven interceptions this season, but he also has an NFL leading 12 TD passes. In fact, he has the same amount of touchdowns as Carson Palmer (five) and Aaron Rodgers (seven) – combined.
Peyton Manning predictably lit up a dilapidated Raiders' defensive backfield for the 64th game in his career of 300 yards passing (338 yards in the game), the most in NFL history (he had been tied with Dan Marino).
Aaron Rodgers has struggled this year when compared to his ridiculously high standards, but he he's still on pace for a season of 4,200 yards and 28 touchdowns. Is that really a down season? In his career he's been a starter for four years. Only twice has he reached both 4,200/28 in a season. He's also averaging 266 passing yards a game this year, 13.5 yards more a game than his career rate. By the way, Rodgers is also completing 69.9 percent of his passes this season, the best mark in the league. Is he really struggling? You might want to reassess your view of his early season performance.
In the 'no duh' column, here are some Mark Sanchez facts. Through four games he is completing 49.2 percent of his passes and averaging 203.3 yards passing per game. In the second half of the season last year Tim Tebow completed 46.6 percent of his passes while averaging 149.1 yards passing per game. Those two numbers are much closer than they should be. Given Tebow's ability to move the ball on the ground, it's getting harder and harder to support the decision of the Jets to go with Sanchez under center. With Santonio Holmes now out of action (see below for more on that), it's just about time for the Jets to turn this thing over Tebow. It would be a solid idea to add Tebow at this point if you are looking at your QB position thinking that Bye Weeks are about to become an issue.
Frank Gore has been an impressive performer thus far, one that is on pace to eclipse 1,300 rushing yards while scoring 12 times. Prior to the season no one would have expected those numbers from Gore, and it's still a stretch to think he will get there this season. First, we have the continued concerns about his ability to stay healthy for 16 games. Second, Kendall Hunter has also done a very good job with his 26 carries running for 120 yards (4.6 YPC). Third, it looks like Brandon Jacobs is finally healthy enough to play this season. Add that all up and it would be wise to expect Gore's production to slow. In addition, while Jacobs might be looked at as the back more likely to see goaline work if Gore were to go down, I would still recommend Hunter as the backup you want as he would likely see the vast majority of touches in just such a scenario.
Doug Martin, everyone's choice to be an RB1 this year just hasn't lived up to expectations. With a long run of 17 yards this season, Martin is averaging a mere 3.5 yards a carry this season and has seen his production, and workload, decrease each game.
Week 1: 24 carries, 95 yards
Week 2: 20 carries, 66 yards
Week 3: 19 carries, 53 yards
Week 4: eight carries, 33 yards.
"I'm confident he will [produce explosive runs]," said HC Greg Schiano. "He's got that kind of ability.” Haven't seen it yet coach. LeGarrette Blount ran for a touchdown last week, and while he isn't going to take over the lead role with the Bucs, he shouldn't be sitting out there on the waiver-wire in many leagues either at this point.
Another RB1 on draft day has struggled this year as well. DeMarco Murray had 13 runs of negative yards last season, a total he has already surpassed this year with 14. Just like Martin he has seen his per game rushing total decrease each week (131, 44, 38 and 24) and he's averaging a mere 3.9 yards a carry. That 'Boys O-Line really needs to pick up their play.
Beanie Wells went down with that toe injury, and the fervor around Ryan Williams became pretty darn acute. At this point the thought, that Williams could be a breakout star in the backfield this season, doesn't seem like one that is going to come to fruition. Williams ran for just 26 yards last week on 13 carries, and through 44 carries this year he has run for just 131 yards (3.0 YPC). Toss in two fumbles and it hasn't exactly been a stand out effort thus far for Williams. HC Ken Whisenhunt also said something we all kinda already knew, and that is that Williams just isn't up to speed enough right now to be a part of the Cardinals no-huddle package. As long as the team runs its base offense Williams will be out there, but if they fall behind and have to pass a lot, Williams will see his snap count curtailed.
Malcom Floyd has had a solid start to the year with 15 receptions for 250 yards an a score for the Chargers. Still, he's caught only five balls for 75 yards the past two weeks and his per game pace of 62.5 yards per game is below his 65.2 yard mark of 2010 and his 71.3 mark in 2011. If he can stay healthy it will end up being his best season, but he's not quite been the breakout player we were hoping for.
Brian Hartline leads the NFL with 455 receiving yards, and he is also second in the NFL in targets (48) through four weeks. Obviously he's been a star and shouldn't be on a single waiver-wire given the way that he has been relentlessly targeted by Ryan Tannehill. At the same time, let's be honest. Is he going to catch 100 passes this year with 1,821 yards as he is currently on pace for? You don't need me to answer to that. He's a WR3 type, just don't get too far ahead of yourself.
Santonio Holmes 2012 season is over as he will have surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture. He should be healthy in time to start the 2013 season. Get ready Jets fans for Jason Hill, recently signed, and Chaz Schilens.
At this point of the week it's completely uncertain whether or not Hakeem Nicks will be playing this weekend. It seems quite likely that he won't play. It also seems probable that Ramses Barden will also find it very difficult to be on the field this weekend after he suffered a concussion in Week 4 that wasn't diagnosed until today (he was tested after complaining of headaches). That means Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle – in that order – should be targets off the waiver-wire if you need help at WR.
There are eight wide receivers with 350 yards receiving this season an only one of them hasn't gotten into the end zone. The lone holdout is Wes Welker who has caught 25 balls for 380 yards and zero scores.
Demaryius Thomas is the lone wide receiver in the league who has caught at least 20 passes while averaging more than 10 yards after the catch. That's a good thing since I'm not sure that Peyton Manning can throw the ball on a line more than 20 yards. OK, that was a low blow, but you get the point. With Manning's lack of oomph anymore it is really beneficial that he has a weapon like Thomas who can do so much on his own.
Owen Daniels has recorded at least 10.7 points each of the four games this season, and his overall total of 54.2 points is the 5th best in football for a tight end. Hell, even Rob Gronkowski hasn't recorded at least 10 points each game this season (4.1 in Week 3). Still, before we get all giddy with Daniels it should be noted that he has two games this season with less than 50-yards, and he only scored five times the past two years. He already has two scores this season.
Vernon Davis, Heath Miller and Scott Chandler have all recorded four scores this year which is four more than Brett Celek, Fred Davis and Antonio Gates.
Tony Gonzalez is only averaging 10.2 yards a catch, but that doesn't mean that he isn't helping to move the chains. Of his 26 receptions, the most at the position, he's also recorded 20 first downs, again the highest mark in tight end-dome.
Marcedes Lewis posted 16.2 points in Week 1. In his last three contests he's registered 14 points. Way to go Blaine Gabbert.
Jacob Tamme was supposed to have some great connection with Peyton Manning, right? Well he did in Week 1 as he posted 15.3 points, but over the last three games Tamme has recorded just 18.2 points, an average of just over six points a game which is slightly lower than the 6.62 points a game that his teammate, Joel Dreessen, has recorded over the course of the season.
Jason Witten finally looked like, well, Jason Witten in Week 4 on MNF. Witten caught every one of his 13 targets leading to 112 yards and a touchdown for the Cowboys. His 30.2 points give him the highest scoring game this season of any tight end in football. With the effort he's back up to being the 14th most effective PPR tight end and there is little reason to think that he won't continue to climb until he is well within the top-10 by years end.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. For more of Ray's analysis check out BaseballGuys.com and follow him on Twitter at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.