Four down, 13 to go
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The first quarter of the NFL season is over and for the most part, I've had a blast.

Blockbuster trades, personnel changes, highlight-reel touchdowns, heroic come- from-behind victories. It's been a riveting month of football.

Entertainment value is one thing. Making it out of the fantasy wilderness with all your limbs still in tact is quite another.

On that front, there's still plenty of work left to be done. With the bye weeks wreaking havoc all over the place, I imagine you're feeling the same way.

So let's bond over our shared misfortunes (most of my teams are 2-2 at this juncture) and dive into a fresh batch of new fantasy questions. Here we go.

1. Who has been the biggest fantasy surprise this season?

My first instinct was to say Jordan Cameron because let's face it, most of you didn't even know who he was four weeks ago (ESPN still doesn't. If you type "Jordan Cameron" into the search bar it sends you to the page for Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.). But I think the real surprise has been San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers has been a fantasy disappointment for years and at age 31, the odds of him turning it around this season seemed slim to none. But somehow Rivers, bolstered in part by the arrival of Danny Woodhead and the resurrection of Eddie Royal, has morphed into a fantasy behemoth and owners who took a flyer on him couldn't be happier.

With 11 touchdowns and just two picks through four games, Rivers has produced the third-most points in fantasy this season. That comes on the heels of us ranking him 23rd in our preseason quarterback rankings. Our bad.

2. When can we start trusting Ray Rice again?

How about Sunday against Miami? Hey, I know you're mad about last week. I am too. But that's not Rice's fault. What was he supposed to do with five carries?

The Ravens didn't use him right against Buffalo and they know it. Just ask head coach John Harbaugh.

"We need to get Ray involved in every single way. Passing game, run game ... obviously we did not do a good job of that on Sunday."

Apology accepted. Now hurry up and get us some fantasy points, would ya?

3. Which Manning sibling is ...

Okay, that's a ridiculous question. Obviously Peyton Manning is the best quarterback on the planet right now. The real question is how many records is he going to break? He's already tied with Milt Plum for the most touchdowns to start a year without throwing an interception (16).

Who knows where he'll be in three months, but I think Peyton has a legitimate shot at breaking Tom Brady's single-season touchdown record (50) as well as Drew Brees' yardage mark set in 2011 (5,476). Aaron Rodgers' record for quarterback rating (122.5) could also be a goner.

The QB record book should have a very different look to it by season's end.

4. Can you sort out the Rams' running back situation?

I'm convinced that Daryl Richardson must be, at least, partly to blame for the government shutdown. He tweeted to one of his followers that he wouldn't be starting this week and it's been chaos ever since.

Most weeks we would ignore this because, frankly, the Rams are awful. But with much awfuler Jacksonville on the schedule for Week 5, suddenly, we're all on the edge of our seats. And if that wasn't enticing enough, three top running backs (Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson) are on bye this week.

But which Rams running back should you choose? Judging by their outputs this season, none of them. Benny Cunningham has 22 yards on ten carries, which puts him slightly ahead of fellow rookie Zac Stacy (four yards, one carry). And then there's Isaiah Pead, the clubhouse leader with a whopping 75 yards in two NFL seasons (Let's all join in a condescending slow clap).

Even though Twitter, a social media platform that prides itself on its accuracy, would suggest otherwise, I still think you're better off with Richardson.

"Not starting" doesn't mean "not playing." It could mean that, but we won't know for sure until Sunday, when the inactives are released. Richardson is easily the best runner out of the four and I think head coach Jeff Fisher will come to his senses and realize that before he lets Moe, Larry and Curly tear the joint down on Sunday.

5. Is Brian Hoyer worth adding?

Not as your starter, but as a bye week fill-in, I don't have a problem with it. With no running game to speak of and two rock solid receiving options in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, there's definitely potential.

But remember, just because he held the clipboard for Tom Brady doesn't make him Tom Brady. Hoyer's best quality is that he's not Brandon Weeden, which is kind of like saying the Black Eyed Peas are good because they're not Nickelback.

6. What's the ceiling for Jimmy Graham?

How high can we go? Let's see ... Mount Everest maybe? Graham isn't just the NFL's best tight end. Right now, he's the NFL's best PLAYER.

Anyone see the catch Graham made with three defenders on him Monday against the Dolphins? It was so impressive, I'm still not entirely sure it really happened (I suppose it could have been one of those Inception dream inside of a dream things).

Watch Graham (456 yards, 6 TD) for yourself. He's doing things that none of us thought tight ends were capable of. No tight end has ever won the MVP, but Graham is certainly building his case for it early in the season.

7. How wrong were you about the Chiefs?

Very wrong. I'm still not a big believer in Alex Smith, but Kansas City's defense is the real deal. No team in the NFL has allowed fewer points than Kansas City this season (excluding the Panthers, who have only played three games) and only six are allowing fewer yards per game.

Eric Berry (16 tackles, INT, 2 FR) and Justin Houston (19 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 FR, 1 FF) are both legitimate game changers and I don't see either one slowing down any time soon.

Mark your calendar for November 17th against Denver. That's when we'll find out what the Chiefs are really made of.

8. How about your World Series pick?

Well, since you asked, I'm going Red Sox over the Dodgers in seven games. And if you thought I was actually going to pick someone other than the Red Sox, you must not know me very well.

Here's to 13 more weeks of awesome.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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