Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
TEN 24, ATL 10
The Falcons couldn’t reach the end zone despite Matt Ryan passing for 397 yards. The lone rushing score came on Ito Smith’s 1-yard run though the only carried the ball twice. Devonta Freeman continues to disappoint with only 28 yards on 12 carries. Austin Hooper (9-130) seems to be the only player that has benefited from the new offense. Mohamed Sanu (9-91) led the wideouts while Julio Jones (4-52) and Calvin Ridley (3-32) were only fourth and fifth in targets for the Falcons. The Titans defense played a great game though the Falcons rushing offense hasn’t done much anywhere. The Falcons fall to 1-3 in the cellar of the NFC South.
Marcus Mariota only threw for 223 yards but finally used his wide receivers. A.J. Brown scored his first two touchdowns on his three catches for 94 yards and Corey Davis ended with 91 yards and a score on five receptions. That is very un-Titan-like but everything that Mariota needs to do consistently. Delanie Walker (1-4) was the eighth-best receiver which tells you how unusual this game was. Derrick Henry ran 27 times and gained 100 yards but failed to score. The Titans remained tied for the lead in the AFC South.
CLE 40, BAL 25
The Browns finally had a statement game and it said: “maybe we’re not so bad after all.” Baker Mayfield passed for 342 yards and one score to Ricky Seals-Jones as the new David Njoku. Jarvis Landry turned in eight catches for 167 before leaving with a concussion but Odell Beckham was limited to only 20 yards on receptions. The star of the day was Nick Chubb who ran 20 times for 165 yards and three scores that included an 88-yard touchdown. He also added three catches for 18 yards.
Lamar Jackson threw his first two interceptions of the year but still produced 247 passing yards and three touchdowns along with 66 rushing yards. While Miles Boykin (3-32, TD), Mark Andrews (4-31, TD) and Willie Snead (2-61, TD) all scored, no receiver caught more than four passes and Snead led the team only thanks to a 50-yard scoring catch with 30 seconds left to play in the already decided game. Mark Ingram gained 71 yards on just 12 carries and Gus Edwards was given six runs to cover 28 yards. This was not a bad game by the Ravens offense though it was at home. Losing a fumble and throwing two interceptions were very costly. The Browns are now tied at 2-2 with the Ravens in the wide-open AFC North.
NE 16, BUF 10
The Bills gave the Pats all they could handle and they won on the advantage of a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Tom Brady was limited to 150 passing yards and one interception. While Sony Michel ran for 63 yards on 17 carries, Brandon Bolden only carry in the game scored the only offensive touchdown. Other than James White’s eight catches for 57 yards, no receiver managed more than four catches or 46 yards. The Bills played a great defensive game and kept it close despite losing Josh Allen halfway through the game.
The Bills combined Allen and Matt Barkley for 280 passing yards and four interceptions. Cole Beasley (7-75) and John Brown (5-69) were tops among receivers. Frank Gore ran for 109 yards on 17 carries as the only running back with a rushing attempt. T.J. Yeldon pitched in four catches for 68 yards. Going against the Patriots defense, the offense played well considering they were onto their second-string quarterback. It was a game that was always in reach but never quite could catch up. It finally made the Patriots appear beatable. Now the 4-0 Pats lead the AFC East while the 3-1 Bills came so close…
CAR 16, HOU 10
This was a yawner unless you owned Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers entire offense star player rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown, plus led the receivers (stop me if you’ve heard this before) with ten receptions for 86 yards. Kyle Allen wasn’t nearly as productive this week with 232 yards and no scores. Greg Olsen (2-5) turned back into Greg Olsen. The Panthers won thanks to having the most field goals. The 2-2 Panthers stay in contention in the NFC South.
The Texans at home couldn’t get much going. Deshaun Watson threw for only 160 yards and while he gained just 12 rushing yards, he ran in their only touchdown. Carlos Hyde (12-58) and Duke Johnson (6-56) each had a long run to boost their totals. DeAndre Hopkins not only was held to only 41 yards on five receptions, but he also threw an interception. No other receiver totaled more than 24 yards. The Panthers defense was better than expected and the Texans offense was much worse. The 2-2 Texans are still tied for first place with the rest of their division.
OAK 31, IND 24
An upset on a day where road teams ruled. Derek Carr only threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns but Darren Waller (7-53) was the only receiver with more mediocre stats though Tyrell Williams (3-36, TD) and the rookie tight end Foster Moreau (3-30, TD) both scored. Josh Jacobs ran for 79 yards and added 29 yards on two catches for a decent showing. The win raises the Raiders to 2-2 and for once, the Raiders defense looked better.
Jacoby Brissett passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns while Zach Pascal led the receivers with 72 yards on four catches. Eric Ebron ended with a 48-yard touchdown on his only catch and committed a couple of drops. Marlon Mack was bottled up for only 39 yards on 11 carries and had no catches for a disappointing fantasy showing. The Colts lost in part because they allowed a 60-yard touchdown run by newly-signed wideout Trevor Davis plus an interception return for a touchdown. The loss drops the Colts into a tie for first in the AFC South.
LAC 30, MIA 10
They beat them with one arm tied behind their back. Maybe both. The Chargers were without Justin Jackson, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin. But it doesn’t matter versus the Dolphins. Austin Ekeler too his final start and ran for 60 yards and one score, plus caught five passes for 62 yards and a second touchdown. He was a tremendous draft pick for the first four weeks. Now it is time for Melvin Gordon to accrue another year. Philip Rivers passed for 310 yards and two scores while Keenan Allen was held to only 48 yards on five receptions. The Chargers were tied 10-10 but then took it seriously (with half of their players healthy) and secured the win. The Chargers rise to 2-2 on the season.
Josh Rosen played the entire game – a first for any Dolphin quarterback this year – and yet still ended with only 180 yards and one touchdown to Devante Parker (4-70, TD). Preston Williams was next best with only 46 yards on four catches. Kenyan Drake gained 44 yards on nine runs and caught three passes for 29 yards. That’s the best showing for a Miami back and one that was mildly fantasy relevant. But even playing at home versus an injury-wracked team wasn’t enough to prevent another 20-point loss.
WAS 3, NYG 24
Daniel Jones is 2-0 as a starter though he was less productive with only 225 passing yards and one score with two interceptions. He added 33 yards on five runs but Wayne Gallman surprised with 63 yards and a touchdown on his 18 carries plus six catches for 55 yards and a second score. Aside from Sterling Shepard (7-76), there wasn’t much happening on offense so it was sort of like Saquon Barkley never left (I said sort of). Evan Engram only managed 54 yards on four catches. The win brings the Giants up to 2-2.
The Redskins are just bad. Case Keenum only lasted for 11 passes before the Dwayne Haskins era started. The rookie only managed 107 yards and three interceptions and his 32.8 QB rating left him with plenty to build on (and yet was better than Keenum’s 23.7). Adrian Peterson ran for 28 yards and remembers last year when it was all so much easier. Chris Thompson (4-56) was the only receiver with more than 20 yards. A new era is starting in Washington but it looks a lot like the last one.
SEA 27, ARI 10
The Seahawks had little trouble taking down their rebuilding divisional rival. Russell Wilson only passed for 240 yards and one score to Will Dissly (7-57, TD). Tyler Lockett was held to 51 yards on four catches but the Seahawks only threw 28 passes. Chris Carson ran for 104 yards on 22 carries and added 41 yards on four receptions. The Seahawks also had an interception returned for a touchdown. There were no big performances and there didn’t need to be. The win brings the Seahawks to 3-1.
The Cardinals struggled to run with only 40 yards on 11 carries for David Johnson who was the leading receiver with nine catches for 99 yards. Kyler Murray passed for 240 yards plus rushed in a touchdown on his four runs for 27 yards. Larry Fitzgerald ended with only 47 yards on five receptions. The Cardinals are not improving yet, at least not against an average or better defense. They fall to 0-3-1.
KC 34, DET 30
Definite contender for Game-o-the-Week. Patrick Mahomes threw for 315 yards but did the unthinkable by failing to score any touchdowns. Travis Kelce (7-85) and Sammy Watkins (3-54) were the best receivers but LeSean McCoy totaled 89 yards and one touchdown while Darrel Williams rolled up 56 yards and two scores. Williams 1-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left won the game. The win keeps the 4-0 Chiefs perfect but there was nothing given in the game against the surprising Lions.
Matt Stafford entered the game with a sore hip but still threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Marvin Jones (3-77) and Kenny Golladay (5-67, 2 TD) were the top receivers though T.J. Hockenson scored early in the game but left with a concussion. Kerryon Johnson ran for 125 yards and added two catches for 32 yards for his best showing of the year and second-best rushing total in his career. The Lions lost by four points in the final minute but their defense slowed down the Chiefs while offering a balanced offense that was nearly good enough to win.
MIN 6, CHI 16
Oh boy, lot’s of great defense. ‘Yawn’ – Kirk Cousins still pales compared to the 2018 version and only managed 233 yards and no scores. Stefon Diggs came out of his shell with seven catches for 108 yards but Adam Thielen was held to only six yards on two receptions. Dalvin Cook was finally shut down with only 35 yards on 14 carries but he still scored once and added six receptions for 35 yards. The lack of passing success became glaring once a defense finally handled Cook. The loss drops the Vikes to 2-2 which is the cellar of the NFC North.
The Bears didn’t do much different with only 16 points but did not make mistakes. Losing Mitchell Trubisky didn’t seem to bring the team down since Chase Daniel passed for 195 yards and one score while completing 22 of 30 versus the Vikings. Allen Robinson led the Bears with 77 yards on seven receptions while the touchdown went to Tarik Cohen on his two catches for seven yards. David Montgomery ran for 53 yards on 21 carries and caught three passes for 14 yards. Neither team did much, but the Vikings did even less. At 3-1, the Bears remain tied for the NFC North with the Packers.
JAC 26, DEN 24
Nailbiter until the end. The Broncos took the lead with a touchdown at 1:32 left to play and the Jags kicked a 33-yard field goal to win as time expired. Garner Minshew passed for 213 yards and two scores that went to James O’Shaughnessy and Ryquell Armstead so that helped no one. D.J. Chark caught a score but it was called back and he only ended with four catches for 44 yards, Dede Westbrook was best with 66 yards on five receptions. The hero, clearly, was Leonard Fournette rushing for a career-high 225 yards and adding 20 more on two catches. The Jags won on the road for the first time and are 2-2.
The Broncos ran Phillip Lindsay just nine times despite gaining 53 yards and Royce Freeman’s six runs for 16 yards was joined by four receptions for 34 yards. Joe Flacco threw for 303 yards and three scores versus the Jaguars. CB Jalen Ramsey’s absence was felt with Emmanuel Sanders gaining 104 yards on five catches for 104 yards. Courtland Sutton caught two touchdowns on his six catches for 62 yards. The Broncos didn’t run much and had surprising success passing even with Ramsey out.
DAL 10, NO 12
We shouldn’t be surprised. This matchup in Dallas saw the Cowboys win 13-10 last year. Dak Prescott cooled off from his fast start to the year with only 223 passing yards and one interception. Jason Witten (4-50) and Blake Jarwin (3-49) were the top receivers and that alone says this did not go well. Ezekiel Elliott ran for only 35 yards on 18 carries but scored once and added six receptions for 30 more yards. At 3-1, the Cowboys are still alone atop the NFC East but the failure to move the ball in New Orleans lowers expectations about this offense.
The Saints were no better and never scored a touchdown. Will Lutz connected on four field goals for the win. Teddy Bridgewater only threw for 193 yards and one interception. Michael Thomas (9-95) absorbed most of that with no other receiver gaining more than 29 yards. Alvin Kamara ran for 69 yards on 17 carries but only caught three passes for 20 yards which were a big surprise. The Saints played like they missed Drew Brees but their defense let them get away with it. At 3-1, the Saints are also alone at the top of their division.
TB 55, LAR 40
Okay. I can live with 95-point games.
On a weekend filled with road wins and lower-scoring games, this stands out. This should be the highest-scoring game of the year. And it was beautiful.
Ronald Jones (19-70, TD) also caught a 12-yard pass. Peyton Barber (9-19, TD) also scored. Both backs scored for Tampa Bay? Really?
Jameis Winston passed for 385 yards and four touchdowns, apparently undaunted by the Rams previously-daunting defense. Chris Godwin only had one limited practice all week and was a game-time decision. Why would you start him? Because he ended up with an NFL-best 12 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Evans pitched in 89 yards and a score on four receptions. O.J. Howard was held to only 33 yards on three catches but by now, who is surprised? Mike Evans was held to minimal stats until the fourth-quarter when he caught a 67-yard touchdown.
The Buccaneers sealed the game on a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 1:06 left to play.
Jared Goff threw for 517 yards and two touchdowns but also three interceptions. He threw 68 passes. Robert Woods (13-164), Cooper Kupp (9-121, TD) and Brandin Cooks (6-71) were the main receivers. Todd Gurley only ran for 16 yards on five carries but scored twice plus added seven receptions for 54 yards.
There were 12 touchdowns. There were 902 passing yards. In an upset on the road. All of the normal fantasy starters turned in decent to monster games. And you know what would have happened if you started Godwin, right? Not bad for a game-time decision. On the road.