Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
JAC 27, CAR 34
Imagine the Jaguars with a better offensive line. What a great game. The Panthers have one of the highest-rated defenses in the NFL and Leonard Fournette ran for 108 yards and one touchdown plus caught four passes for 29 yards. Gardner Minshew threw for 374 yards and two scores to DJ Chark (8-164, 2 TD) who has become one of the top receivers in the league. Dede Westbrook (7-82) also helped but the Jags actually have a “Big 3” – Minshew, Fournette and Chark. Imagine thinking that last August. There just cannot be any way that the Jags go back to Nick Foles.
The Panthers are really nothing more than Christian McCaffrey and yet no one can stop him. He ran for 176 yards and two scores on 19 carries and added six receptions for 61 yards and a third touchdown. D.J. Moore (6-91) pitched in as well but Kyle Allen only passed for 181 yards and one touchdown. And there is something beautiful when only the normal fantasy starters turn in the notable stats.
ARI 26, CIN 23
The Bengals only sacked Kyler Murray once. Just once. No wonder they lost. Joe Mixon ran for 93 yards on 19 carries and added a 16-yard catch. Tyler Boyd dominated all receiving with ten catches for 123 yards and one touchdown. No other receiver gained more than 38 yards though Auden Tate (3-26, TD) scored. It was a great game for Mixon (finally) and Boyd but no other Bengals did much. Or enough.
Kyler Murray passed for 253 yards and no score but was the leading rusher with 93 yards and a touchdown on ten rushes. David Johnson ran for 91 yards and added 65 yards on three catches as the leading receiver. But Chase Edmonds (8-68, TD) ran in a score. The Cards kicked four field goals to only three for the Bengals and that was the difference in the game. Zane Gonzalez kicked the 31-yard game-winner as time expired.
TB 24, NO 31
The Buccaneers’ defense varies from impressive to invisible and this was not one of the impressive efforts. Teddy Bridgewater finally looked Brees-like with 314 passing yards and four touchdowns. Michael Thomas ended with 11 receptions for 182 yards and two scores like the script was written. Alvin Kamara ran for 62 yards and added six receptions for 42 yards but no other receiver did much. Jared Cook (4-41, TD) and Ted Ginn (2-35, TD) both scored but did little else. For once, Kamara did not dominate but still ended up with more than 100 total yards.
The Buccaneers only managed 204 passing yards and two scores by Jameis Winston and both went to Chris Godwin (7-125, 2 TD) because everyone was busy shutting down Mike Evans (3 targets, no catches). Ronald Jones (9-35) and Peyton Barber (8-32, TD) finally had a game where neither was the hot hand. CB Marshon Lattimore handled Evans and Godwin had the big game, but no one else came through.
MIN 28, NYG 10
No surprises here and Daniel Jones finally looked very much like the rookie. He passes for 182 yards and one score with one interception. The only receiver with more than 50 yards or a score was Darrius Slayton (4-62, TD). Sterling Shepard (5-49) and Evan Engram (6-42) were mostly bottled up. Golden Tate’s big return only turned into three receptions for 13 yards. Wayne Gallman left with a concussion and it ends up that the Giants don’t really stock talent to the RB3 level. Probably not going to be any better next week… at the Patriots…
Hello, squeaky wheel! The complaints by Adam Thielen resulted in Kirk Cousins passing for 306 yards and two scores. He found Thielen for seven receptions for 130 yards and two scores (see – what that really so hard?) and Stefon Diggs ended with three catches for 44 yards. As expected, Dalvin Cook ran for 132 yards on 21 carries and caught six passes for 86 yards. It was a dominating win the Vikings and their new-found willingness to throw the ball will come into play next week versus the Eagles.
BAL 26, PIT 23 OT
Kudos to the Steelers despite the loss. Mason Rudolph was knocked out cold and undrafted Devlin Hodges saw his first action. He didn’t make a positive difference but he also did not lose the ball or make a mistake. He completed 7-of-9 passes for 68 yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster (7-75, TD) was the only notable receiver and that likely won’t be true if the Steelers have to stick with Hodges next week at the Chargers. James Conner ran for 55 yards and a score but never had a target.
Lamar Jackson is back to 2018 form with only 161 passing yards and one score with three interceptions. He added 70 yards on 14 runs to salvage his fantasy value. No Ravens receiver gained more than 51 yards though Marquise Brown (3-22, TD) caught the lone touchdown. Mark Ingram ran 19 times for 44 yards and scored once but only added five yards on two catches. The Ravens should have won this much easier than this, particularly with the Steelers down to their back-up, back-up quarterback. It was a road win in Pittsburgh, and that counts big in the AFC North.
BUF 14, TEN 7
Wake me up when it is over. Defense was on display by both teams. The Bills won thanks to Josh Allen throwing for 219 yards and two scores. John Brown (5-75) was the only notable fantasy play. Frank Gore ran for 60 yards on 14 carries with Devin Singletary still out. When the two scores are thrown to the bottom of the depth chart, you can feel safe not starting any Bills receivers. D’haquille Williams (4-29, TD), and Lee Smith (1-8, TD) are not exactly household names, let alone on anyone’s “Start ‘Em” list.
Marcus Mariota turned in his normal day with 183 yards and no passing scores with the only receiver gaining more than 30 yards was Jonnu Smith (1-57). If last week was exciting for the wideouts, it was just an aberration since Corey Davis (2-28) and A.J. Brown (2-27) turned back into pumpkins as usual. Derrick Henry ran for 78 yards and a touchdown as the only reasonable fantasy play.
NE 33, WAS 7
Steven Sims (the wideout) ran for a 65-yard touchdown with 9:35 left in the first quarter and the Redskins should have just quit at that point. Okay, maybe they kind of did. Colt McCoy only passed for 119 yards and one interception. Adrian Peterson ran for 18 yards on seven carries. Terry McLaurin suited up and led the receivers with three catches for 51 yards despite still nursing a hamstring strain. No other receiver gained over 17 yards in this beat down. The Skins are 0-5 “with a vengeance.”
The Pats were slow to get going but Tom Brady ended with 348 yards and three touchdowns. Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 110 yards and one score but Josh Gordon (5-59) was next best. Outside of Edelman, there isn’t much happening among the receivers. Sony Michel ran for 91 and a touchdown on 16 carries for one of his better efforts. Just another blowout win by the Pats who host the Giants this week. At least Michel got into gear this week.
CHI 21, OAK 24
London Game. Go figure. The Bears took the place of the team that doesn’t fully show up whenever the NFL plays overseas. Chase Daniel passed for 231 yards and two scores to Allen Robinson (7-97, 2 TD) but he also tossed two costly interceptions. No other receiver gained more than 52 yards or scored. Facing the Oakland Raiders, the Bears only ran David Montgomery 11 times for 25 yards and one touchdown. He added just one catch for 11 yards while Tarik Cohen totaled 49 yards with six catches. Daniels is considered one of the better back-up quarterbacks in the NFL, but that apparently doesn’t extend outside of the country.
The Raiders were already without Tyrell Williams and he’s been the only wideout of any note. Darren Waller (4-39) was held in check and no other receiver totaled more than 46 yards or scored. Josh Jacobs was the only working weapon with 26 carries for 123 yards and two scores and he added 20 yards on two catches. Versus the Bears. When the Raiders were without Tyrell Williams, the Bears let them turn to their rookie running back. Kudos for the Raiders for at least letting their running back take more than 11 carries.
NYJ 6, PHI 31
Another of the “freebie” games this week. Luke Falk only passed for 120 yards and two interceptions. Le’Veon Bell ran for 43 yards and caught seven passes for 45 yards as the only Jet of any note (stop me if you’ve heard this one before). The only mildly interesting item was that Demaryius Thomas led all receivers with four catches for 47 yards and his nine targets matched Bell for the team lead. No other receiver was thrown more than three passes. This all gets erased when assumedly Sam Darnold returns to host the Cowboys next week.
The only surprise was that Carson Wentz only passed for 189 yards and one score. He didn’t need to do much else and Zach Ertz (5-57, TD) and Alshon Jeffery (6-52) led the receivers with the reduced volume of passing. Jordan Howard ran for 62 yards and one touchdown but Miles Sanders was held to only 15 yards on nine rushes with 49 yards on four catches. The Eagles defense returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns as an added treat. It may get harder next week in Minnesota.
DEN 20, LAC 13
Facing the No. 29 ranked defense against running backs, and playing at home in Los Angeles, the Melvin Gordon difference was only 31 yards on 12 carries and four catches for seven yards. Philip Rivers only threw for 211 yards and two interceptions in this head-scratching upset. Keenan Allen was held to four catches for 18 yards and Mike Williams returned to field six passes for 74 yards but the main receiver was Austin Ekeler with an astounding 15 catches for 86 yards. Their only touchdown was a punt return in the third quarter.
The Broncos didn’t do anything special. Courtland Sutton caught a 70-yard touchdown to account for almost half of Joe Flacco’s 182 passing yards. No other receiver managed more than 26 yards other than Philip Lindsay (4-33), who ran for 114 yards on 15 carries and scored once. Royce Freeman added 61 yards on his 13 receptions. This was a low-offense game with the Chargers oddly not showing up. The return of Melvin Gordon sparked nothing.
GB 34, DAL 24
This was all about Aaron Jones who ran for 107 yards and four touchdowns, plus led all receivers with seven receptions for 75 yards. No other Packer gained more than 41 yards or scored. Aaron Rodgers only passed for 238 yards and no scores. The absence of Davante Adams doesn’t matter when your running back is laying down four scores. The Packers were on the road and ran all over the Cowboys. They made a case for being one of the top teams in the NFC – and not the Cowboys.
Ezekiel Elliott never got out of first gear. He ended with only 12 carries for 62 yards and one score. Dak Prescott passed for 463 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions. Amari Cooper ended with a career-best 11 receptions for 226 yards and one score while Michael Gallup’s return produced seven catches for 113 yards and one touchdown. Randall Cobb faced his old team but only managed three catches for 53 yards. The Cowboys tried to mount a comeback but fell short. Two losses in a row change the perception of how good they really are.
IND 19, KC 13
Time for upsets. The Chiefs returned Damien Williams but lost Sammy Watkins and for once, it seemed to make a difference. So did Patrick Mahomes limping around. The Chiefs never had any rushing support with the backfield only turning in ten carries for 25 yards which included no runs by LeSean McCoy (though one of his two catches led to a lost fumble). Mahomes passed for 321 yards and one touchdown to Byron Pringle (6-103, TD) while Mecole Hardman (4-79) and Travis Kelce (4-70) pitched in. It was a surprising loss that was worsened by the sight of Mahomes hurting his ankle twice.
Marlon Mack was questionable to play and yet had no problems rushing for 132 yards on 29 carries and adding three catches for 16 yards. Jacoby Brissett only passed for 151 yards because he handed off the ball 39 times. T.Y. Hilton played but only caught four passes for 37 yards. The Colts just went old-school on the Chiefs running the ball down their throat. The Colts go onto their bye so Mack will be even healthier at home versus the Texans in Week 7.
ATL 32, HOU 53
This was what fantasy dreams are made of.
The Falcons did have some issues passing despite the 330 yards and three touchdowns by Matt Ryan (who added the rare rushing score as well). Calvin Ridley led the receivers with five receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown. But the rest turned in moderate games like Austin Hooper (6-56), Mohamed Sanu 5-42, TD), and Julio Jones (3-42). Six receivers gained at least 40 yards but only Ridley went over 60 yards. Devonta Freeman was limited to 11 runs for 30 yards but added five catches for 40 yards and one score to save his fantasy day.
The Texans feasted on the weak secondary of the Falcons. Deshaun Watson passed for 426 yards and five touchdowns with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Will Fuller finally showed up for 2019 with 14 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins ended with 88 yards on seven catches but they all happened in the second half. Keke Coutee (3-72) took advantage of Kenny Stills absence. Darren Fells only caught two passes for 20 yards, but both were touchdowns. Rounding out the fun was Carlos Hyde running for 60 yards and a touchdown, and Duke Johnson offering 67 total yards.
The Texans even ended the game with a 79-yard interception return for a touchdown. Other than Julio Jones, all the normal fantasy starts turned in decent points if not higher than usual.