Stunned. I must have uttered that word 10 times while watching events unfold Sunday. I don't think anything was more stunning than what Tom Brady and the New England Patriots did to the Tennessee Titans. I've had Brady on my buy-low list for weeks, but there's no way I expected what he did. Five touchdowns in the second quarter? A 45-0 lead at the half? They just kept scoring, showing no mercy. It was beautiful (unless you were going against Brady and/or Randy Moss).
Football is a great game because so much of what happens is unexpected, even in the big games. Sure, we figured the Patriots would have little trouble scoring against the Titans, but 59 points? Brady, Moss and Wes Welker had to be active for you.
With that, here are the 10 most important things I learned Sunday. And yes, some of them are just stunning. I learned that ...
... Drew Brees was only toying with us. In Weeks 3 and 4 against average (at best) AFC East teams, Brees scored 11 fantasy points total. Did you trade away Brees because the threat of a running game scared you? Well, on Sunday against a stellar New York Giants defense, Brees threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns. I ranked him fourth among quarterbacks, so I was playing him regardless, but now I'm wondering if he should be ranked first every week, regardless of opponent, like I do with Adrian Peterson.
... Donovan McNabb was only toying with us. In Week 5 against the awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McNabb registered 25 fantasy points. That same week a banged-up Eli Manning torched the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are awful, too, so it was reasonable to think McNabb would also have a big day. Instead, the Eagles didn't even score a touchdown. How embarrassing. This doesn't mean I write off McNabb, but if the offensive line can't protect him, he can't produce. Fantasy owners always watch for Brian Westbrook injury updates, but you'd better keep an eye on the MRI for left tackle Jason Peters. It might affect McNabb more than Westbrook's availability.
... Brian Hoyer is the Patriots' backup quarterback. I bet a lot of you didn't know who he was. Not that you really need to know since Tom Brady is clearly healthy, but Hoyer is next in line, and possibly a future Matt Cassel. We learned nothing from his performance against the Titans, but the fact that he did outscore Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme and Mark Sanchez in fantasy leagues is why this hobby is so great. And crazy.
... Jason Campbell should be a backup quarterback. Not that I'd ever want to be a Redskins fan, but that was embarrassing. And now the whole world has to deal with it on "Monday Night Football" in Week 7. Don't bother with Todd Collins, either. I will give kudos to fantasy owners, though: Despite the tasty matchup against the Chiefs, Campbell was active in fewer leagues (12.8 percent of them) than Sanchez (15.7).
... Mark Sanchez is indeed a rookie NFL quarterback. Well, I bet a lot of you didn't know a quarterback not named Rex Grossman -- see his 2006 game log -- could cost you six fantasy points. Sanchez did. Not that I expect that to happen again, but a Bills team that entered Week 6 with four interceptions left it with 10 picks. Don't trust rookie quarterbacks; Sanchez just cannot be relied upon.
... Goodbye, Willis McGahee. We thank him for his efforts the first few weeks, but it's clearly over now as Ray Rice races to stardom. I didn't think I'd view McGahee the way we do Fred Jackson, but it has happened.
... Goodbye, Sammy Morris. Notice I didn't congratulate Laurence Maroney for joining fantasy relevance ... yet. Maybe he has, and of course in deep leagues you have to take a look at him, but nice job out of Morris reminding us how brittle he is and why nobody should depend on him. I got caught in a key league.
... Goodbye, Derrick Ward. It took six weeks, but I've had enough of this guy and, further, it looks like the Buccaneers made a big mistake. Yes, I am surprised. Stunned. Disappointed. And giving up. And I say this to Ahmad Bradshaw, who will surely covet the big bucks when the Giants let him walk: Stay in New York!
... There's a reason I ranked Ryan Grant 15th at running back. Sure, he ended up with 90 yards, but he didn't score, and 41 of those yards came late on the final wasting-time drive. Even in a fortuitous matchup, the Packers are not a running team. And Grant is not a No. 1 fantasy RB. Not even close.
... There's apparently no reason for me to have ranked Carolina's Steve Smith fourth at wide receiver. I won't be cutting Smith, but unless the Panthers suddenly find a quarterback, he's essentially ... Terrell Owens. Stunning. That was a beautiful matchup for a passing game, and Delhomme wasn't trusted to throw the ball. Seventeen pass attempts, only seven after halftime? Then again, with that running game I wouldn't throw much either.