By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
What an odd week it was in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles, left for dead by everyone including me, stunned us all by earning their first win of the season against a New York Jets team that looked surprisingly strong after two weeks.
Ryan Mathews, starting in place of injured and beleaguered DeMarco Murray, rushed for 108 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Sam Bradford was pedestrian but didn’t hurt the Eagles’ chances like in weeks prior. It was a weird win for the Eagles, epitomized by Brandon Marshall’s inexplicable attempt to lateral the ball after catching a pass with the Jets trailing 17-0.
That play alone explained Week 3.
Add in the fact that of the stars of the week, many don’t point to future breakout games. The sum of these parts results in a somewhat pedestrian week of suggested waiver wire moves.
And yet, we must forge onward! Unless you’re the Chicago Bears, who kicked off this week by starting the Great Chicago Fire Sale of 2015, trading away Jared Allen and Jon Bostic less than 24 hours after getting shut out by the Seattle Seahawks. They’re packing it in.
Gary Barnidge, tight end, Browns (owned in 0.3 percent of ESPN leagues)
In the Browns’ deep tight end group (as in, there are four of them on the roster), we see the presence of primary blocking tight end Jim “The Franchise” Dray. I made that nickname up with friends. And now, after Sunday’s outing, WMMS-FM host Alan Cox has coined “Gary Barnidge, Attorney at Law.”
All jokes aside, Barnidge is legitimately an attractive addition for your team. With Josh McCown keeping a grip on his starting quarterback position — despite a battered throwing hand — he’s thrown the ball Barnidge’s way 12 times in one game plus that opening drive against the Jets. That resulted in six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. At one point, McCown appeared to strictly target Barnidge and wide receiver Brian Hartline. It was as if the other receivers didn’t exist.
We know how Sunday turned out. But the silver lining, if there was such a thing, was the play of Barnidge. Quarterbacks use tight ends like toddlers use security blankets. Barnidge is McCown’s mom’s old sweater.
Seahawks defense/special teams (owned in 99.8 percent of ESPN leagues)
Three career games, and two career return touchdowns for Tyler Lockett. That alone should be enough to convince you to pick up this unit, if available. Add in the return of Kam Chancellor to the team’s secondary, and suddenly the Seahawks defense is looking a lot more formidable than we thought. This is more starting lineup advice than waiver wisdom, but if you’re lucky enough to be in that 0.2 percent, pick this unit up immediately.
Derek Carr, quarterback, Oakland Raiders (owned in 19.9 percent of ESPN leagues)
Carr continues to show that he’s developing as a quarterback, and has progressed from his rookie season to year two under center. The quarterback made plenty of difficult throws against the Browns on Sunday, hooking up with Amari Cooper eight times for 134 yards.
Carr completed 20-of-32 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns while weathering various blitzes from the Browns. His season totals: 57-of-90 passing (63.3 completion percentage) for 726 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. With each game, he looks more seasoned. Believe it or not, the Raiders might not be a doormat anymore.
Bonus adds: Karlos Williams (owned in 24 percent of ESPN leagues), Rishard Matthews (owned in 16.4 percent of ESPN leagues)
Matthews had an awesome game (six catches, 113 yards, two touchdowns), but it was in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. He’s still behind my favorite receiver in that Dolphins group, Jarvis Landry, but Matthews is showing that he too can put up some points. He’s a good bench addition for your roster, especially in deeper leagues.
Williams is getting a decent amount of carries (12) as LeSean McCoy’s work is limited by nagging hamstring issues, and Williams is making the most of it. He’s a hard runner, shown by a late, 41-yard touchdown run during which he almost stumbled over nothing but his momentum. Williams gained 110 yards and scored a touchdown in the win, and is a handcuff option for your team, if you have McCoy.
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers (owned in 61.7 percent of ESPN leagues)
Run back the highlights of Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Kaepernick looks worse than ever. He floated a terrible pass that appeared to be intended for Vernon Davis, but actually traveled directly to Tyrann Mathieu late in the second quarter, for his third interception of the first half. The other two were returned for easy touchdowns.
Things aren’t good for the Niners, and Kaepernick seems to be taking it upon himself to make the uphill climb even steeper. He finished the day 9-of-19 passing for 67 yards, and four interceptions. Yikes.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, New York Jets (owned in 12.4 percent of ESPN leagues)
Fitzpatrick completed 35-of-58 pass attempts for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions. Unlike Tyrod Taylor, Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the upside to make this easy to overlook.
Fitzpatrick was also without Eric Decker and Chris Ivory, which only increased the difficulty of the task ahead of the Jets. As Geno Smith’s jaw heals and the former starter waits on the sideline, it seems inevitable that if Fitzpatrick continues to struggle, Smith will get a shot to play. I can almost hear the clock ticking.