Kicker struggles and questionable play calling highlighted Thursday night’s AFC North battle between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, with Joe Flacco and the Ravens squeaking out a 23-20 victory in overtime. Two late missed field goals by Pittsburgh’s Josh Scobee and two play calling scenarios reminiscent of last February’s Super Bowl allowed Baltimore to come back and grab their first win of the 2015 season.
Running backs were the notable performers in this game, with both Justin Forsett and Le’Veon Bell leading the way for their teams. Forsett finally delivered for fantasy owners, as he shook off his early-season rust and rumbled for 150 yards on 27 carries. This was by far Forsett’s largest workload of the season and although he wasn’t involved in the passing game on Thursday, Forsett’s owners were ecstatic to see their early-round selection back in 2014 form.
Le’Veon Bell was his usual outstanding self in this game, incredibly showing equal parts patience, quickness, and power on his way to 150 total yards. The fine performance from Bell left many folks scratching their heads after Pittsburgh elected not to use their workhorse back in two critical overtime fourth down plays. Despite the overtime hiccup, Bell is an absolute beast and a true three-down running back monster.
On the receiving side of things, Antonio Brown’s streak of games with five catches and 50 yards was snapped at 36. Michael Vick was far from accurate on Thursday night, but Brown did have a long touchdown pass in his hands that he could not corral in this one. With Steve Smith Sr. dealing with back issues, Baltimore wide receiver Kamar Aiken stepped up and caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Aiken now has two solid games and two duds in 2015 but if Smith misses time, Aiken will be a worthwhile fantasy option in most leagues considering the lack of depth the Ravens possess and wide receiver.
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In Other News….
Andrew Luck (shoulder) was limited again at practice on Thursday and ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Luck is “legitimately questionable” for Week 4. If Luck can’t play on Sunday, the Colts will be turning to 40-year-old backup Matt Hasselbeck to start against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Luck owners should be pouncing on any decent waiver wire quarterbacks right now in case he can’t suit up this week, but it doesn’t necessarily sound like this will be a multi-week injury situation as of this point. T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief will still be startable but all other Indianapolis receiving options will be shaky bets if Hasselbeck is under center on Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch’s Monday night playing status will be a difficult nut for fantasy owners to crack, as Seattle coach Pete Carroll plans to take “all week” to figure out whether or not Beast Mode will suit up in Week 4. Lynch owners will be wise to slip him into their flex spots and have another Seattle or Detroit option waiting in the wings in case of emergency. For owners who struck out on Week 4 waiver wire star Thomas Rawls and don’t have a backup plan, Lynch will likely need to be swapped out for a viable Sunday option. Stay tuned to Rotoworld for more updates on Lynch’s Week 4 status.
Arian Foster (groin) is still unsure about his Week 4 status, but the Houston running back has looked good in practice this week, according to coach Bill O’Brien. Foster proved last season that if he is active, he will be a top-notch fantasy option so fantasy owners will want to pay close attention this weekend as more injury news surfaces out of Houston. If Foster can’t suit up on Sunday, Alfred Blue will have a solid matchup on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.
After Joseph Randle finally exploded in Week 3, reports out of Dallas detailed Christine Michael’s increase in practice reps this week. Michael could be looking at his first “active” tag of the 2015 season this week, but won’t be a useable fantasy option at the moment. Michael is a decent flier for fantasy owners with an open bench spot, so grab Michael in case this news sprouts into actual game usage.
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Injury Quick Slants
Julio Jones (toe, hamstring) was limited on Thursday at Atlanta’s practice and should be good to continue his dominance on Sunday. … In Bills news, both LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Sammy Watkins (calf) will likely miss Week 4 when Buffalo hosts the New York Giants. Waiver wire winners who scooped up Karlos Williams will have a nice running back option this week. … Jonathan Stewart (knee) did not practice on Thursday and his Week 4 status is now in doubt. There will likely be no real fantasy-relevant options in the Carolina backfield if Stewart sits. … Eric Decker (knee) was limited on Thursday and his Week 4 status is still up in the air. Decker shredded the Colts for 97 yards and a score in Week 2 and will be back in WR2 range once he is healthy. … After an inactive/active situation last week, Chris Ivory is now practicing in full and will be a safer fantasy option this week as the Jets travel to London to face Miami. … Alshon Jeffery (calf, hamstring) was limited in practice on Thursday and could be ready to return this week for the Bears. … Andre Ellington (knee) was limited on Thursday in Arizona’s practice, and his Week 4 status is a toss-up at this point. More news will surface regarding the Arizona backfield this weekend. … Tevin Coleman (ribs) is still not practicing, meaning we will get another week of Devonta Freeman handling a sizeable workload. … DeSean Jackson (hamstring) is still not practicing and appears likely to be out on Sunday. … Charles Johnson (ribs) missed Thursday’s practice and is a dicey bet to suit up on Sunday. Johnson is a questionable fantasy play even if he is active this week. … Breshad Perriman (knee) is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery. The rookie would be a nice boost for the Baltimore receiving group, but that won’t be happening any time soon. … Travis Benjamin (ribs) was a full participant in practice on Thursday. … Victor Cruz (calf) will miss Week 4 and has no real timetable for a return.
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News and Notes
Indianapolis OC Pep Hamilton reportedly thinks Andre Johnson needs more targets in the Colts offense. Johnson has 18 targets through three weeks but did not catch a single pass in Week 3 and has been jumped by Donte Moncrief in the Indianapolis receiver pecking order. Johnson is barely a startable fantasy option right now. … Todd Gurley is reportedly still adjusting to the Rams’ offense, as he is coming off a seven touch, 14 yard performance in his NFL debut. Gurley will slowly creep into the lead role in St. Louis as the season progresses. … Browns coach Mike Pettine thinks Duke Johnson needs to be used in space more, which is not shocking considering how the team spoke of their rookie running back this summer. The Browns surprisingly gave Johnson very little work in the passing game prior to Week 3, but the receiving skills Johnson has are real. … Melvin Gordon told the Union-Tribune San Diego that he is “hungry to score” as he has yet to find the end zone this season. Gordon has looked solid while sharing the Chargers backfield with Danny Woodhead and will continue to get more work as the season moves along. … Johnny Manziel has a package of plays in the Cleveland offense for Sunday’s game at San Diego according to OC John DeFillipo. No fantasy relevancy here, but this will be fun to watch on Sunday.