Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
CAR 37, TB 26 (London)
For once, neither defense showed up for a London game. The Buccaneers won this matchup 20-14 just a few weeks ago and while they are the only team that can contain Christian McCaffrey. He added a touchdown to both his rushing (22-31, TD) and receiving (4-26, TD). DJ Moore ended with 73 yards on seven catches and Curtis Samuel scored twice on his four catches for 70 yards. Kyle Allen only passed for 227 yards and two scores but had no turnovers, unlike Jameis Winston.
The most critical stat in the game wasn’t Winston’s 400 passing yards and one score; it was that he threw five interceptions and lost a fumble. Ronald Jones scored but no back ran for more than 28 yards. Chris Godwin led the Bucs with ten catches for 151 yards while Mike Evans ended with nine receptions for 96 yards. Cameron Brate caught the lone receiving touchdown on his two catches for 47 yards. No complaints about a London game with 63 total points and this could have been even higher scoring if Winston stuck to throwing to only his own receivers.
CIN 17, BAL 23
Perhaps closer than expected. The Ravens ran all over the Bengals with Mark Ingram (13-52, TD) and Lamar Jackson (19-152, TD). The Ravens also passed for 236 yards with Mark Andrews (6-99) as the only receiver with more than 28 yards. Even Gus Edwards rushed for 34 yards on six carries. Throw in a few runs by Justice Hill and the Ravens totaled 43 runs for 269 yards. That’ll control the clock.
Andy Dalton passed for 235 yards with Auden Tate (5-91) as the top receiver and no other receiver gaining more than 47 yards. The Bengals opened the game with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Dalton ran in the only other score but quite unlike the Ravens, the Bengals could do nothing on the ground. Joe Mixon ran eight times for only ten yards and all totaled, the Bengals ran 14 times for 33 yards. That opening kickoff score made the game appear much closer than it really was.
SEA 32, CLE 28
Another Game-o-the-Week contender. The Seahawks trailed 20-6 in the second-quarter before ripping off 19 straight points. They still needed a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Rashaad Penny was inactive and Chris Carson gained 124 yards and a score on 24 runs plus gained 35 yards on four receptions. Russell Wilson passed for 295 yards and two scores plus ran in a touchdown as well. Tyler Lockett (5-75) was the top receiver while Jaron Brown (3-29, 2 TD) did all the scoring. Wilson used ten different receivers.
Baker Mayfield threw for only 249 yards and one score with three interceptions. Ricky Seals-Jones (3-47, TD) caught the lone passing touchdown while Odell Beckham (6-101) finally showed up again. Jarvis Landry settled for just three catches for 36 yards. The Browns offense went through Nick Chubb who gained 122 yards and two scores on 20 rushes and caught five passes for 17 yards. Mayfield also ran in a touchdown. The Seahawks remain a team that is good, and the Browns are still a team that isn’t quite good enough.
NO 13, JAC 6
Defense. Defense. Defense. Final whistle. While both teams have been capable of exciting play, that didn’t happen when they met. Alvin Kamara was questionable coming into the game and only gained 31 yards on 11 runs plus 35 yards on seven receptions. Latavius Murray was better with 44 yards on eight runs and 35 yards on three catches. Teddy Bridgewater only passed for 240 yards and one score to Jared Cook (3-37, TD) but at least Michael Thomas still caught eight passes for 89 yards. It was a ho-hum offensive showing and yet better than the Jaguars.
Gardner Minshew only managed 163 passing yards and one interception. Dede Westbrook (3-53) and DJ Chark (3-43) both had mediocre games. Leonard Fournette ran 20 times for 72 yards and added 46 yards on six catches for the only reasonably good fantasy showing for the Jaguars. The defense played well even without Jalen Ramsey but the Jags passing game couldn’t get going despite the focus of the Saints to handle Fournette.
HOU 31, KC 24
This not only was a Game-o-the-Week contender, but it also signals that maybe we need to change what we thought about both teams. The Texans scored 84 points over just the last two weeks. Deshaun Watson passed for 280 yards and one score to Duke Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins (9-55) and Will Fuller (5-44) were quieter than expected though Fuller dropped at least two passes that could have been touchdowns. But Watson ran ten times for 42 yards and two scores while Carlos Hyde gained 116 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. The Texans not only posted 31 points, but they also did that without much help from Hopkins or Fuller.
Patrick Mahomes passed for 273 yards and three scores and it was not enough. As a team, they only rushed 11 times for 53 yards and that was from four different runners. Tyreek Hill finally returned from his shoulder injury to catch five passes for 80 yards and two scores, the first being a 46-yard highly-contested catch at the goal line that he ripped from the defenders’ hands. Travis Kelce’s continues his kindler, gentler season with only four catches for 58 yards. This was disappointing at home with a healthy Tyreek Hill. The lack of defense by the Chiefs is taking their ability to run the ball out of the game plan too early.
WAS 17, MIA 16
Sadly, the worst two teams met and yet the offenses didn’t erupt on either side. Adrian Peterson chugged some water from the Fountain of Youth and ran for 118 yards on 23 carries plus caught two passes for 18 yards. But Chris Thompson left injured after only 20 total yards. Case Keenum threw for just 166 yards and two scores but they both went to the rookie Terry McLaurin (4-100, 2 TD). So anytime the 2018 Redskins produce two fantasy-relevant players, the game went very well. And they probably just gave the Dolphins the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Josh Rosen was named the starter for the rest of the season, but couldn’t make it one game without being sent to the bench and calling up Ryan Fitzpatrick for the fourth of five games containing a change in quarterback. They combined for 217 yards and one score to Devante Parker (3-28, TD). The interesting part of this game was that Kenyan Drake ran for 40 yards and caught six passes for 30 yards. But Mark Walton gained 32 yards on six runs and ended with fice receptions for 43 yards. Although Kalen Ballage is all but phased out, he was given the one-yard touchdown plunge. The Fins have to play in Buffalo this week, so enjoy this while you can.
PHI 20, MIN 38
Every Thanksgiving table should include a moment to observe the gratitude that we should all have for the Eagles defense. Kirk Cousins bounced back last week against the Giants and when the Eagles showed up on Sunday, he rekindled those glory days of 2018 by throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns that were neatly divided by Stefon Diggs (7-167, 3 TD) and Adam Thielen (6-57, TD). No other receiver gained more than 36 yards. Dalvin Cook was held to 54 total yards but ran in a score. Even Alexander Mattison ran for 63 yards on 14 carries.
Carson Wentz passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns between Alshon Jeffery (10-76, TD) and Miles Sanders (3-86, TD). Zach Ertz settled for 54 yards on four catches. The rushing effort never paid off with Jordan Howard (13-49) and Boston Scott (4-30) as the top backs and Sanders limited to only three runs for six yards. Scott was promoted from the practice squad last week when Corey Clement landed on injured reserve. The Eagles abandoned the run and couldn’t generate enough offense to keep up with what their own defense was giving away.
SF 20, LAR 7
The 49ers defense is en Fuego. Traveling to face the Rams in Los Angeles, it was expected to be a close game. But it wasn’t. The Rams entire offense was stuck in a traffic jam out on the 110 and just never showed up. Todd Gurley was out and Malcolm Brown only ran for 40 yards on 11 carries while Darrell Henderson gained 39 yards on six rushes. No one else even remotely matters. Jared Goff passed for a total of 78 yards. Tyler Higbee was the top receiver with 25 yards. Cooper Kupp (4-17) and Brandin Cooks (3-18) did little. Robert Woods ran in an eight-yard touchdown to start the game and that was the last time he touched the ball. This was a soul-crushing, home field spanking that will leave a mark.
The 49ers only passed for 243 yards and George Kittle (8-103) was the only player with more than 45 receiving yards. Tevin Coleman (18-45, TD) was the best running back and added 16 more yards on two catches while Matt Breida (13-36) also caught four passes for 27 yards. Jimmy Garoppolo ran in a score but there were no notable performances other than Kittle, who was questionable coming into the game. If the 49ers defense continues to play like that, then their offense doesn’t have to do much anyway.
TEN 0, DEN 16
The Titans are always hard to call and very inconsistent. This was another low-scoring game where one defense just dominated. The Titans were limited to only 40 rushing yards and just 28 for Derrick Henry on his 15 rushes. Marcus Mariota got the hook after throwing for 63 yards and two interceptions on his 18 passes. Ryan Tannehill was better with 13-of-16 completed for 144 yards. When Mariota left, he had a 9.5 QB rating. Adam Humphries (6-47) and Delanie Walker (3-43) were the best receivers but this was a lethargic shut out. It will be interesting to see if this was enough to finally bench Mariota for good and let Tannehill see if he can resurrect the 2-4 Titans. The only plus for the Titans was that they didn’t have to hear their home town fans booing.
The Broncos were only marginally better but when the defense gets a shut out, it doesn’t take much to win. Joe Flacco passed for just 177 yards and no scores while Courtland Sutton (4-76) was the top receiver and Emmanuel Sanders was injured. Phillip Lindsay ran for 70 yards and “the” touchdown but only added two catches for five yards. Royce Freeman gained 34 yards on 11 runs but added 42 yards on five receptions. This was a brutally slow game but at least the Broncos running backs turned in moderately good performances.
DAL 22, NYJ 24
The whole “Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC” was taken to heart by their last three opponents. That included the 0-4 Jets coming off their bye. Dak Prescott threw for 277 yards and ran in a score but almost all of it came late in the game in a comeback attempt since they trailed 21-3 in the second quarter. Amari Cooper was lost after one catch and the Cowboys best receiver was Tavon Austin (5-64) which alone pays great homage to the Jets defense. Ezekiel Elliott still ran for 105 yards and a score on 28 rushes and added 47 yards on five catches but no other Cowboys did much (or enough, for that matter).
Sam Darnold’s return could not have gone better. He passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns and even brought the wide receivers back to life. Robby Anderson (5-125, TD) and Jamison Crowder (6-98) both turned in great performances and return to fantasy starter status with Darnold back. Le’Veon Bell ran for 50 yards and a score on 14 rushes but only added one catch for three yards. Bell seems likely to see a decrease in receptions with Darnold back because he doesn’t continually check down to him. The ability to throw downfield again significantly upgrades the Jets offense and gives optimism that didn’t exist without Darnold.
PIT 24, LAC 17
Rookie quarterbacks these days… Devlin Hodges debuted with 132 yards and one touchdown pass and only threw one interception. James Conner ran for 41 yards and a score plus led all receivers with seven catches for 78 yards and the other offensive touchdown. The game opened with a Steeler fumble return for a score and they were ahead 24-0 in the third quarter. No other receivers gained more than 14 yards. The defense won this game, along with the backfield gaining 116 yards on 33 carries. The Steelers go onto their bye and hope to get Mason Rudolph back in Week 8 when the Dolphins show up.
The Chargers started slowly and didn’t show up until the second half. Melvin Gordon only ran for 18 yards on eight carries while adding 30 yards on three catches. Austin Ekeler totaled only 28 yards so that crafty draft pick you made just hit its expiration date. Philip Rivers ended with 320 yards and two scores but only had eight completions for 111 yards at halftime. Hunter Henry led the team with eight catches for 100 yards and both touchdowns, Mike Williams (5-72) and Keenan Allen (2-33) were held in check. Perhaps coincidental, but Gordon returned two games ago and the Chargers look much worse and lost both games.
ATL 33, ARI 34
Neither franchise has more than two wins but this game was very kind to fantasy football and was well worth watching. With 67 total points and nearly 700 passing yards to distribute, this game helped a lot of fantasy owners on Sunday.
David Johnson only gained 34 yards on 12 carries but scored and added six catches for 68 yards and a second touchdown. Needed Chase Edmonds to cover a bye week? He rushed for 34 yards, caught two passes for 33 yards and also scored. Christian Kirk was out and Larry Fitzgerald held his own with six receptions for 69 yards. Kyler Murray passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns plus ran for 32 yards. The Cardinals led 27-10 in the third quarter before the Falcons finally mounted a comeback.
Matt Ryan ended with 356 yards and four touchdowns. Austin Hooper (8-117, TD) and Julio Jones (8-108) dominated the receiving though Calvin Ridley(4-48, TD) pitched in as well. Devonta Freeman has been a disappointment this year but not on Sunday. He rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries and added three catches for 30 yards that included two touchdowns.
Pretty much every fantasy starter turned in a good to great game. And it could have gone on longer but the Falcons battled back from the 10-27 deficit to tie the game with 1:53 left to play but… no. Matt Bryant kicked three extra points and two field goals. But he missed the final field goal wide left and the 33-34 loss remained.