By Matt Graber
Who’s been getting it done out West? Part 3 of our trimester review.
Stud: Andre Ellington is finally healthy, and he’s beginning to really produce for fantasy owners. He’s getting the vast majority of the team’s carries, including in the red zone, and his involvement in the passing game makes him a deadly dual-threat, especially in PPR leagues.
Dud: In what’s becoming a theme in these reviews, Larry Fitzgerald is yet another former stud receiver who seems to be on a bit of a decline. He finally had a strong outing last week against the Redskins (another theme), but he’s more of a WR3 or flex at this point, and the emergence of Ellington means the Cardinals will likely throw a bit less than before.
Sleeper: John Brown has cooled off after a solid start, but he still has more fantasy points then Fitzgerald so far, and the return of Carson Palmer should improve the team’s passing attack.
Stud: Marshawn Lynch has been getting it done in the receiving game as of late, with 3 TDs in his last four games, adding another facet to his game to complement his typically solid rushing stats. He’s by far the Seahawks’ most reliable producer.
Dud: Percy Harvin hasn’t been the versatile weapons that the Seahawks were hoping for, and his fantasy value has plummeted despite solid efforts to get him the ball. The big plays just aren’t happening.
Sleeper: Ricardo Lockette won’t get a lot of targets in this offense, but he does have a couple of touchdowns, and he’s arguably been the teams best deep threat so far, with big plays in wins against the Packers and Seahawks.
San Francisco 49ers
Stud: Colin Kaepernick isn’t the most consistent fantasy option at QB, but his 343-yard, 3-TD performance against the Rams was yet another example of his tantalizing potential. He has weapons in Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, and he’s one of the best dual-threats at his position.
Dud: Vernon Davis has been a non-factor aside from a two-TD performance in the team’s opener. With questionable health and inconsistent production, he’s a risky tight end option at this point.
Sleeper: Carlos Hyde is behind Frank Gore on the depth chart, but Gore is hardly injury-proof. Hyde has been solid when given carries and is one of the better handcuffs at RB.
St. Louis Rams
Stud: Brian Quick has quietly put together a productive season, with 22 catches and 3 TDs in five games. He’s Austin Davis’ favorite receiver, so the targets will be there.
Dud: Zac Stacy is ceding a lot of carries to Benny Cunningham and has struggled with nagging injuries throughout the season. With Tre Mason starting to emerge in the backfield, he’s not in a great fantasy situation.
Sleeper: Mason looked like the Rams’ best back against the 49ers, with 62 yards on 7 touches in only 9 snaps. The former Heisman finalist has the talent to surpass Stacy and Cunningham eventually.
Stud: Julius Thomas has been historically great this season, and he’s on pace to shatter Randy Moss’ single-season receiving TD record. Whether he’ll get there or not remains to be seen, but as Peyton Manning’s go-to guy in the red zone, he’s one of the best players in fantasy football, regardless of position.
Dud: Montee Ball was disappointing even before his groin injury forced him out for a few weeks, as he didn’t look like the top-5 fantasy back owners were hoping he could become.
Sleeper: The Broncos like Juwan Thompson a lot, and he’s a good fit for their offense. Look for him to get more work alongside Ronnie Hilman with Ball Out.
San Diego Chargers
Stud: Philip Rivers is orchestrating the Chargers passing attack to perfection, spreading the ball around and playing with a rare blend of production and efficiency. He’s proven to be a top-5 QB regardless of the matchup, as evidenced by his performance against the vaunted Seahawks secondary.
Dud: Keenan Allen has failed to build on his Rookie of the Year campaign, as he’s only had one great game so far. He isn’t getting as many targets as last year and he’s been bothered by a bum quad, but there’s a good chance he can turn things around.
Sleeper: A popular preseason breakout candidate, Ladarius Green hasn’t really gotten his shot with Antonio Gates playing so well, but he has freakish speed and athleticism for his position, and with the way Rivers is playing, anyone on the team seems capable of a breakout.
Kansas City Chiefs
Stud: Now that he’s healthy, Jamaal Charles is staring to remind fans of the ridiculous talent that made him a top-5 fantasy pick. He has legitimate big-play ability, he’s a big factor in the passing game, and it doesn’t look like Knile Davis will cut into his carries.
Dud: Dwayne Bowe is getting targets, he’s just not getting any big plays or touchdowns. He’ll get you a few catches but not much else, and he doesn’t seem a likely breakout candidate due to the Chiefs’ conservative passing game.
Sleeper: DeAnthony Thomas won’t get more than a couple of touches in any given game, but if your league gives points for kick or punt returns, then this dangerous return man is worth consideration for desperate owners.
Stud: Derek Carr has probably been the most impressive rookie signal caller this season, and he’s coming off a four-TD performance. He seems more confident now, and more importantly, the team seems more confident in him, so he should have plenty of opportunities to air it out.
Dud: Maurice Jones-Drew has been virtually nonexistent so far and is well behind Darren McFadden in terms of carries and production. He’s not worth owning at this point.
Sleeper: He may not qualify as a true sleeper at this point, but if Andre Holmes is still out their in your league, he’s definitely worth a look. His size and big-play ability give him massive upside.
Matt Graber is a writer for Scouts Alley and Air Alamo and an editor at Wizards 101. Follow him on Twitter @Matt14Graber