Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
CIN 17, BUF 21
The score wasn’t much, but the game was competitive throughout and the Bengals led 17-14 with under five minutes to play. Joe Mixon ran for 61 yards on 15 carries and added two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown so he, finally, showed up for 2019. But he was the only Bengal that did so. Andy Dalton only passed for 249 yards and one score with two interceptions. Tyler Boyd (6-67) and Auden Tate 6-88) were the only mildly productive players while John Ross (2-22) went back into hiding.
Fran Gore rushed for 76 yards and one score plus 13 yards on two catches. Since Devin Singletary was out, T.J. Yeldon gained 30 yards on eight runs and also added two receptions for 19 yards. The rookie tight end Dawson Knox (3-67, TD) led the Bills in receiving while John Brown was left with four catches for 51 yards. Josh Allen passed for 231 yards and the one score and added 46 yards on nine runs. The Bills defense was outstanding for most of the game. But neither team produced a big performance.
MIA 6, DAL 31
So close. Okay, it beat the 23-point spread and the Fins missed several chances for a bigger score. As usual, both quarterbacks played to very little effect. Kenyan Drake offered some value rushing for 44 yards and adding three receptions for 34 yards. Preston Williams (4-68) and DeVante Parker (3-56) was a good as it got for receivers which wasn’t very good considering they exist in about 50 minutes of trash time per week. Williams is still the only receiver that merits any attention.
The Cowboys seemed to take the Dolphins lightly at first (expect that from their next 13 opponents) but came around with 21 unanswered points in the second half. Dak Prescott passed for 246 yards and two scores with a third rushed in. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 125 yards while Tony Pollard played mop-up and also ran for 103 yards and a touchdown. Amari Cooper scored both passing scores on his six catches for 88 yards. Jason Witten gained 54 yards on three receptions thanks to a 33-yard catch. This was the beat down that was expected and in the way that was expected. It just didn’t happen until the second half of the game.
DEN 16, GB 27
Certainly wasn’t like a DEN-GB game a few years ago. Joe-Flacco-only® passed for 213 yards although Courtland Sutton managed to lead the team with 87 yards on five catches while Emmanuel Sanders (2-10) was a non-factor. Phillip Lindsay gained 81 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries while Royce Freeman added 63 yards on 15 runs. The Broncos never led and yet rushed 37 times to only 29 passes. At least the backfield delivered. Passing stats were padded by a 52-yard catch by Sutton and a 36-yard gain by Lindsay.
Aaron Rodgers won the game, but he only threw for 235 yards and one score to Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6-99, TD) who finally came to life this year. Davante Adams only managed 56 yards on four receptions but was the only other receiver with any production of note. Aaron Jones ran in two touchdowns but only gained 19 yards on ten carries. Jamaal Williams turned 12 rushes into 59 yards and added 27 yards on two catches. Williams just plain ran much better than Jones this week. Both teams had their primary backs run in two scores and yet split the workload in the backfield.
ATL 24, IND 27
The Colts led throughout though the game though the Falcons made it more interesting at the end. Matt Ryan passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns between Julio Jones (8-128, TD) and Austin Hooper (6-66, 2 TD). Calvin Ridley (1-6) forgot to show up. Devonta Freeman ran for 88 yards and added seven more on three catches for his best showing of the year. Ryan completed 29 of 34 passes but couldn’t keep up with what his defense was giving away.
Jacoby Brissett threw for 310 yards and two scores between T.Y. Hilton (8-65, TD) and Zach Pascal (2-53, TD). Eric Ebron was next best with three receptions for 47 yards. Marlon Mack was able to play despite being questionable and gained 74 yards and a score on 16 carries. He was healthier than he was billed given that Jordan Wilkins only ran three times for a net two-yard loss. This was an encouraging game since Hilton was successful until he pulled his quad. And the Colts won with a balanced offense. The Falcons passing game looked very good unless you counted on Calvin Ridley.
OAK 14, MIN 34
While the Raiders reloaded their offense in almost all positions, this looked a lot like last year. Derek Carr passed for 242 yards and two scores but the best receiver was the tight end (Darren Waller) with 13 catches for 134 yards. No other receiver gained more than 36 yards though at least Tyrell Williams scored on his three catches for 29 yards. Josh Jacobs gained 44 yards on ten carries, but DeAndre Washington (6-22) had a presence as well. It was about as good as the Raiders could hope for playing in Minnesota.
Kirk Cousins only threw for 174 yards and one touchdown since the Vikings were able to just run all over the Raiders. Adam Thielen (3-55, TD) caught the lone passing score while Stefon Diggs (3-15) fondly recalls back last year when he used to be a wide receiver. Dalvin Cook ran for 110 yards and a touchdown plus added four catches for 33 yards. Once he got bored, Alexander Mattison ran for 58 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. This was exactly the way that the Vikings want to play this year, much to the dismay of the non-running backs.
NYJ 14, NE 30
Let’s be serious. Losing by 16 points in New England was a pretty big moral victory even if the touchdowns happened on an interception return and a recovered fumble from a muffed punt. Not to worry – Jared Stidham threw the pick-six. And both were late in the fourth quarter. Luke Falk threw for only 98 yards while Le’Veon Bell somehow gained 35 yards on 18 carries and added four receptions for 28 yards. When the Jets trail by 30 points and end up with 20 runs versus only 22 passes, it is safe to say they accepted their destiny.
Tom Brady ended with 306 passing yards and two scores by using all three wideouts – Josh Gordon (6-83),
Antonio Brown Phillip Dorsett (6-53, TD), and Julian Edelman (7-62, TD). Sony Michel surprised with only 11 rushing yards though he scored once. Rex Burkhead took the sloppy rest with 47 yards and a score on 11 runs and six catches for 22 yards. The Pats were good enough that they didn’t need to rely on any single player that much. But their defense was far more dominant than the score may seem to suggest.
DET 27, PHI 24
This was the only road win of the early slate of games. The Eagles trailed 20-10 at the half and were unable to complete a comeback to win. Matt Stafford ended with 201 passing yards and one score for Marvin Jones (6-101, TD) who had been very quiet until Week 3. Kenny Golladay was held to only two catches for 17 yards on eight targets. Kevin Johnson ran in a touchdown on his 20 carries for 36 yards but only caught one pass. Getting a free touchdown on a kick return always helps.
Carson Wentz threw for 259 yards and two scores both to Nelson Agholor since both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery were out. That whole T.J. Hockenson (1-1) thing has cooled significantly. Mike Sanders ran for 53 yards on 13 carries as the lead rusher and led the receivers with 73 yards on two catches (40 and 33 yards). Jordan Howard ran for 37 yards and a score on 11 rushes. The most notable was Sanders asserting himself as a rusher and a receiver though he was almost 1:1 in carries with Howard and that’s likely not going to change.
CAR 38, ARI 20
The Cardinals led 21-20 in the third quarter so this was more the reverse of Week 1 when they came back to tie the Lions. Kyler Murray threw for 173 yards and two scores but with two interceptions. Murray added 69 yards on eight runs as their leading rusher while David Johnson only managed 37 yards on 11 rushes. He scored on his six catches for 28 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (5-36, TD) scored for the third-straight week while Christian Kirk (10-59) acted as the safety blanket. The Cards played well through three quarters but ironically the #1 overall pick of the draft couldn’t keep up with the undrafted rookie quarterback Kyle Allen.
In just his second start ever, second-year quarterback Kyle Allen passed for 261 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals. That involved the three main receivers – Greg Olsen (6-75, TD), Curtis Samuel (5-53, TD), and D.J. Moore (1-52, TD). Christian McCaffrey was held to only three catches for 35 yards but blew up with 24 runs for 153 yards that included a 76-yard touchdown run. Allen made no mistake which is reason enough to celebrate but he also looked… maybe better than… ah. Just one game. Right, Cam?
BAL 28, KC 33
The Chiefs led 30-13 at the start of the fourth quarter but withstood a furious 17-point comeback. Lamar Jackson passed for 267 yards and no scores, so it is back to 2018 since he also ran for 46 yards and scored a touchdown. Marquise Brown settled for 49 yards on two receptions but led the team with nine targets. Mark Ingram shined with 103 yards and three scores on 16 runs in his first monster performance as a Raven. The offense played well enough to beat almost any team not employing Patrick Mahomes.
Damien Williams was out but Darrel Williams ran for 62 yards on nine carries and LeSean McCoy gained 54 yards and a touchdown on his eight carries. Preseason darling Darwin Thompson only totaled eight yards on four carries late in the game. Mecole Hardman totaled 97 yards on two receptions thanks to an 83-yard catch for a score. McCoy also scored as a receiver when he caught three passes for 26 yards. Travis Kelce (7-89) and Sammy Watkins (5-64) both experienced the most coverage by the defense and yet still produce moderate stats. The Ravens are still formidable on offense, just not nearly as much as the Chiefs.
HOU 27, LAC 20
The Texans mounted a comeback to take the win in Los Angeles thanks mostly to Jordan Akins catching his first two NFL touchdowns on his three receptions for 73 yards. DeAndre Hopkins (6-67), Kenny Stills (4-89), and Will Fuller (5-51) were all held to moderate production. Carlos Hyde only ran for 19 yards on ten rushes but scored the 3-yard touchdown. Deshaun Watson threw for 351 yards and three scores with no turnovers to make the difference.
Philip Rivers ended with 318 yards and two scores that both went to Keenan Allen (13-183, 2 TD) but no other receivers gained more than 45 yards or scored. Austin Ekeler only managed 36 rushing yards but added seven receptions for 45 yards to salvage his day. The Chargers turned into little but pitch-and-catch between Rivers and Allen that totaled 17 passes. That wasn’t enough when the Texans reeled off 21 unanswered points in the second half. At least Ekeler remains a safety blanket with Rivers passes.
NO 33, SEA 27
Another very good game and an upset by the Saints. Teddy Bridgewater only threw for 177 yards and two scores so no question what happens the minute that Drew Brees is healthy again. Michael Thomas (5-54, TD) came to life in the second half but no other wideouts or tight ends gained more than 15 yards. Alvin Kamara not only ran for 69 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but he was the leading receiver as well with nine receptions for 92 yards and a second score. There is no shyness about using Kamara since Latavius Murray only ran twice for two yards. The Saints scored on a fumble return and a punt return to make the difference.
Russell Wilson ended with 406 yards and two passing scores, along with 51 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Chris Carson only gained 53 yards on his 15 carries while Rashaad Penny was out. Tyler Lockett (11-154, TD) turned in a great performance and his 14 targets doubled any other receiver. DK Metcalf was limited to two catches but gained 67 yards. Will Dissly also figured in heavily with six receptions for 62 yards and a score. It was a classic case of Wilson taking the team on his shoulders and he fell just a little short.
PIT 20, SF 24
The 49ers defense is much better this year and held Mason Rudolph to only 174 yards and two scores in his debut. That included the 76-yard touchdown throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster (3-81, TD) or the stats would have been an embarrassment. Diontae Johnson (3-52, TD) caught the other score and no one else gained more than 14 receiving yards. James Conner was bottled up with only 13 runs for 43 yards. This was domination by the 49ers aside from the one long score and that doesn’t grant any warm and fuzzy feelings about a future without Ben Roethlisberger.
This mix-’em-up offense spreads the wealth mostly below the fantasy-relevant line. Raheem Mostert (12-79) and Matt Breida (14-68) were upstaged by Jeff Wilson (8-18, 2 TD). Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 277 yards and a score to Dante Pettis (4-20, TD). But six other receivers gained more yardage than Pettis and yet none had more than the 57 yards that George Kittle produced on his six receptions. The 49ers are opting for committee approaches on all facets when they can. And that’s a fantasy killer.
LAR 20, CLE 13
The late game on Sunday wasn’t remotely as good as hoped with only 33 total points – the lowest of the day. The Browns offensive improvement is still missing, and Baker Mayfield seems to have regressed with only 195 yards and one score with one interception. A QB rating of only 64.0. He failed to punch in a tying score with four tries from the Rams 4-yard line. Jarvis Landry (3-62) and Odell Beckham (6-56) were tops for a Browns receiver. Nick Chubb rushed for 96 yards and added four catches for 35 more as the only notable Browns fantasy play and even he never scored.
The Rams secured the win with Jared Goff producing 269 passing yards with two scores but also threw two interceptions. Brandin Cooks (8-112) and Cooper Kupp (11-102, 2 TD) took advantage of the missing Cleveland cornerbacks but no other receiver mattered. Todd Gurley totaled only 43 rushing yards and never caught a pass. Malcolm Brown was held to only seven rushing yards. For a Sunday night game that looked intriguing in the summer, the results were surprisingly mundane. And had the Browns not lost both cornerbacks prior to this game, it would have been much worse.
NYG 32, TB 31
This game contained all the beauty and horror that is fantasy football. Daniel Jones debuted to an awe-inspiring 336 passing yards with two scores and 28 rushing yards with two more touchdowns. His first-ever start produced one of the top performances for Week 3, albeit surely on fantasy benches.
The Giants experienced the horror of Saquon Barkley getting knocked out of the game temporarily with a potential concussion, re-entering, and then leaving with an ankle injury that included an inflatable boot, crutches and a pronounced limp. Without Barkley, the Giants only produced 13 yards on five carries by Wayne Gallman.
But Evan Engram (6-113, TD) and Sterling Shepard (7-100, TD) both broke the century mark. The rookie Darrius Slayton caught three passes for 82 yards in his first playing time.
Jameis Winston ended with 380 yards and three touchdowns that all went to Mike Evans (8-190, 3 TD) in the first half. O.J. Howard fielded three passes for 66 yards seemed huge after never catching a pass in Week 2. Chris Godwin remains missing in action with only three receptions for 40 yards.
The backfield swung towards Ronald Jones in Week 1 and then Peyton Barber in Week 2. On Sunday, Jones gained 80 yards on 14 runs and added a 41-yard catch. Barber gained 48 yards on 13 carries and had two catches for seven yards.
The Buccaneers led 28-10 at the half but fell behind 32-21 with only 1:21 left to play but took over on their own 27-yard line. A pass to Godwin covered 20 yards with 34 seconds left to play. Then Winston improbably hit Evans for a 44-yard gain to the Giants 9-yard line with only 13 seconds left to play. They spiked the ball to stop the clock so with only four seconds left, Matt Gay
exorcised the demons of bad kickers in the past and won the game in front of the adoring home town fans! blew it wide-right on the 34-yard gimme field goal attempt.
The rookie in his debut throws for four touchdowns, and the best player in fantasy football left the game on crutches. That’s fantasy football.