Leshoure, Locker see fantasy fortunes change after Week 3
Kevin Smith didn't get a carry with Mikel Leshoure starting at tailback for Detroit
After three weeks, Chris Johnson is averaging only 1.4 yards per carry this season
Cam Newton has thrown only two touchdowns against five interceptions this year
Whether it's the proliferation of passing, abhorrent officiating, incredible displays of kicking prowess or just simply parity creating evenly matched teams, this has been one of the most exciting seasons in memory. A prime example was the wild and wacky tilt in Tennessee between the Lions and Titans. The two teams slugged it out for more than four quarters, seemingly burying the other on multiple occasions only to see the advantages evaporate. Not even the loss of Matthew Stafford could stop the scoring spree.
Who came out of Week 3 with their fantasy fortunes dashed? Who emerged with their outlooks a little brighter. Stafford and his new lead running back Mikel Leshoure are just two players who make our position-by-position look at the biggest risers and fallers in fantasy from this weekend.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions -- Detroit's second round selection from the 2011 draft rushed 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. The former starter, Kevin Smith didn't see a touch as backup/breather duties went to football journeyman Joique Bell. If Leshoure is available in your league he's an instant pickup.
Andre Brown, Giants -- Since taking over for an injured Ahmad Bradshaw, Brown has toted the rock 33 times for 184 yards and three scores, including an impressive 20 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns against one of his many former teams, the Panthers. Meanwhile, shunned rookie David Wilson has managed a mere two offensive touches for a single net yard. The Giants are used to the Thunder and Lightning running back concept, so don't fear the return of Bradshaw from his neck woes. Brown is in it for the long haul.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins -- Thomas has come a long way from being reprimanded for a lack of effort by head coach Joe Philbin in a "private" meeting in front of millions of HBO viewers on Hard Knocks. On Sunday, filling in for an injured Reggie Bush. Thomas is averaging 3.6 yards per carry and will be the lead back for Miami while Bush is sidelined by a knee injury. Rookie Lamar Miller is also an intriguing option in Miami's backfield while Bush sits, but Thomas is expected to get a bulk of the work and is the better play next week against the surging Cardinals.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- There's no doubt left that Charles is fully recovered from reconstructive knee surgery after he shredded the Saints for 288 yards from scrimmage, his second 200-plus yard game of his career (259 vs. Den. in 2010). Depending on how Seattle's Marshawn Lynch fares Monday against the Packers, Charles will enter Week 4 as the league's top or second-leading rusher, averaging 0.1 yards per carry below his career mark of 6.0. This is the player I ranked No. 1 overall in fantasy prior to last season.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots -- He was solid the first two weeks in gaining 196 yards. But Sunday night he took more than a few steps back. Rookie Brandon Bolden vultured a touchdown away while scrappy Danny Woodhead received two more handoffs on the night than Ridley. It's not time to panic, but Bill Belichick is a pro at frustrating fantasy owners just when it seems like something is working for you.
Daryl Richardson, Rams -- Easy come, easy go. Up until gametime in Week 3 it appeared as if Richardson would get the nod as the Rams starter in place of an injured Steven Jackson. Alas, SJax played (and played well), relegating Richardson to a mere 16 yards on four carries. He's a good handcuff for Jackson owners or those banking on an injury from the St. Louis veteran, but with bye weeks approaching, his roster spot is more wisely used elsewhere.
Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers -- Pittsburgh goes on bye week and when they return it's expected that Rashard Mendenhall will be ready to make his season's debut in an offense that has all but abandoned the running game. In part, that's due to the play-calling of Todd Haley, but also in part to a banged up offensive line and the ineffectiveness of a pair of backs who combined for 13 carries and 26 yards against a previously-porous Oakland defense. Having any Steelers back was a good idea, but the execution didn't live up to expectations. Time to move on.
Chris Johnson, Titans -- We'd be remiss to not mention Johnson, who now is averaging 1.4 yards per run and has fewer rushing yards on the season than among the fleet-footed trio of Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and Matt Cassel.