Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
HOU 26, JAC 3
The London game kicked off at 6:30 AM for the West Coast as a special treat. As so often happens, one team doesn’t show up and that was the Jaguars in this one. Leonard Fournette was held to only 40 yards on 11 carries but added five catches for 32 yards. Gardner Minshew passed for 309 yards and two interceptions while Keelan Cole (5-80) and Ryquell Armstead (5-65) were their top receivers. They weren’t terribly outmatched, but turned the ball over three times and couldn’t punch it in when they got close.
Deshaun Watson threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins was blanketed but still ended with eight catches for 48 yards and one score while Duke Johnson (5-68) and Kenny Stills (4-52) were the top receivers. Carlos Hyde had a memorable day and not because he ran for 160 yards on 19 carries. Hyde ran for 58 yards and had the ball knocked out of his hands right before the goal line and the Jaguars recovered it. The Texans just played better – almost no mistakes and Hyde ran better than usual.
WAS 9, BUF 24
The first start for Dwayne Haskins could have gone better. He only threw for 144 yards but had no turnovers. The lack of passing success left all the receivers with minimal gains and even Terry McLaurin (4-39) suffered from the quarterback swap. The bright spot was that Adrian Peterson ran for 108 yards on 18 carries but he already totaled 101 yards on ten runs at half time. The Redskins outlook drops significantly with the rookie starting his learning curve.
Josh Allen passed for 160 yards and a touchdown and added another score on a quarterback sneak. Josh Brown (4-76) was the top receiver while Cole Beasley (2-13, TD) caught the lone touchdown pass. As usual, Frank Gore only gained 15 yards on 11 carries while Devin Singletary gained 90 yards and a score on 20 carries plus caught three passes for 45 yards. Gore and Singletary split carries in the first half but even the Bills coaches had to admit that the rookie was far more effective and deserved at least the bigger share.
TEN 20, CAR 30
The Titans struggled in most of the game until coming to life in the second half. Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and a touchdown and even ran in a score but only totaled 100 yards at half time. A.J. Brown (4-81) and Adam Humphries (4-65) were the top receivers. Derrick Henry ran for 63 yards and a score on 13 carries and added three receptions for 36 yards plus the lone receiving touchdown. The Titans trailed for the entire game.
If there was a more advanced and talented professional football league, Christian McCaffrey would be forced to move up out of the NFL. The No. 1 fantasy back – who everyone knows is the only real weapon of the Panthers – ran for 146 yards and two scores on 24 carries and added three catches for 20 yards and a – ‘sigh’ – third touchdown. Kyle Allen ended with 232 yards and two scores but his best play is just looking for McCaffery. DJ Moore (7-101) and Curtis Samuel (3-64) were both productive if not unnecessary.
MIN 23, KC 26
It was a good day to start Harrison Butker. Matt Moore threw for 275 yards and one score to Tyreek Hill (6-140, TD). Travis Kelce (7-62) and Sammy Watkins (7-63) were both held to a lot of short catches. Damien Williams gained 125 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries thanks to a 91-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Otherwise, the Chiefs struggled to run and LeSean McCoy was held to only nine yards on his three carries. The Chiefs won with two field goals in the final 2:30 and one of those was a 54-yarder. Butker ended with four field goals and two extra points.
The Vikings started Adam Thielen but he re-injured his hamstring without a catch. That left Kirk Cousins to only pass for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Laquon Treadwell (3-58) stepped in for Thielen and led the receivers while Stefon Diggs was held to only one catch for four yards. Dalvin Cook ran for 71 yards and caught four passes for 45 yards as the most productive Vikings. The touchdowns went to Kyle Rudolph, Ameer Abdullah, and Obisi Johnson. The Chiefs played better defense than expected though losing Thielen is a significant downgrade to the offense.
NYJ 18, MIA 26
The game didn’t feel as close as the score may suggest. And the Dolphins did the impossible by winning a game so now the Bengals are all alone in the No-Win club. The Jets ended with 260 passing yards and one score from Sam Darnold. Jamison Crowder led the receivers with eight catches for 83 yards and one touchdown but Robbie Anderson was held to just 33 yards on four catches. Le’Veon Bell ran for 66 yards on 17 carries and added eight receptions for 55 yards. Those added receptions are very encouraging for Bell’s future fantasy value. The Jets played a team that already gave up on the season and yet looked even worse. That does not bode well for the rest of the schedule.
Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns between Preston Williams (5-72, 2 TD) and DeVante Parker (4-57, TD). Mike Gesicki (6-95) led the team in receiving. Mark Walton only ran for 29 yards on 12 carries. All three passing touchdowns happened in the second quarter and the Fins just rode that 21-7 lead to the win. At least the win happened at home for the long-suffering fans. Good to see Fitzpatrick succeed with his wide receivers.
CHI 14, PHI 22
There’s something about HC Matt Nagy’s post-game interviews that reminds me of Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. Mitchell Trubisky only passed for 125 yards and that was greatly aided by the 53-yard catch by Taylor Gabriel. He still only ended with three receptions for 69 yards. No other wide receiver gained more than nine yards. David Montgomery ended with 49 rushing yards and two touchdowns plus three catches for 36 yards which were almost entirely late in the game. And for both scores, Montgomery punched it in after Tarik Cohen had failed. Forget the game score, this was yet another horrible showing by the Bears defense. Trubisky faced the No. 26 defense against quarterbacks and played like he was a redshirt freshman drawing a start against Alabama.
Carson Wentz only threw for 239 yards and one score but had no turnovers. Zach Ertz remembered that he was an elite tight end and led the team with nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown like it was 2018 and he still mattered. No other receiver gained more than 39 yards. Jordan Howard ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Miles Sanders popped several impressive plays but only ended up with 42 yards on ten carries and gained 31 yards on three catches. It didn’t take that much to beat the visiting Bears and only Zach Ertz stepped up. Finally.
IND 24, PIT 26
The Colts should have won. Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with 1:14 left to play. They lost Jacoby Brissett in the first quarter but Brian Hoyer threw for three touchdowns and 168 yards. Zach Pascal (5-76, TD) was the only notable receiver since T.Y. Hilton was out. Parris Campbell (5-53) is starting to get better and even added three runs for 27 more yards. Marlon Mack rushed for 89 yards but had no catches. Switching to Hoyer didn’t have much of a negative impact and he turned in a QB rating of 105.9. If the Colts have to use him again, they can maintain their level of play.
Mason Rudolph threw for 191 yards and one score, but JuJu Smith-Schuster was held to only 16 yards on three catches. Jaylen Samuels was the top receiver with 13 catches for 73 yards and James Washington (4-69) had one of his better efforts thanks to a 40-yard catch. Tre Edmunds was promoted up with both James Conner and Benny Snell out. He gained 73 yards on 12 runs with a 45-yard gain helping his total. Edmunds started the game and was the more effective rusher with Samuels held to only 10 yards on eight carries. The Steelers’ best and most common play was throwing short to Samuels out of the backfield.
DET 24, OAK 31
This was a great game for fantasy purposes and nearly the Game-o-the-week. Matt Stafford continues his red hot streak as a passer with 406 yards and three touchdowns. Kenny Golladay (4-132, TD) and Marvin Jones (8-126, TD) both turned in big performances and the Lions’ running back to own is… (spin wheel, listen to clacking) J.D. McKissic! With the Tra Carson era lasting one game, the Lions ran Ty Johnson nine times for 29 yards but J.D. McKissic gained 32 yards on four carries and caught three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. Paul Perkins also ran three times so the weekly game plan will continue to change.
Derek Carr threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns but no receivers gained more than the 56 yards by Jalen Richard and Hunter Renfrow (6-54, TD) was next best. Darren Waller (2-52) and Tyrell Williams (3-48) both settled for mediocre performances and it was the first time this year that Williams failed to score. Josh Jacobs ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns but did not catch any passes. This was a great game to watch since the nine scores were perfectly paced with each team taking a turn. The Raiders scored first and last.
CLE 19, DEN 24
As usual, the Browns lost a game that they could have won. The Browns failed on a fourth-and-one from the Denver 5-yard line. And later on a fourth-and-four from the Denver 28-yard line. Baker Mayfield passed for 273 yards and one score to Jarvis Landry (6-51, TD) while Odell Beckham (5-87) was the top receiver. Nick Chubb ran for 65 yards on 20 carries plus caught four passes for 26 yards. Chubbs’ moderate production was a surprise since the Broncos have been weak against running backs.
The Broncos debuted Brandon Allen who threw for 193 yards and two scores between Noah Fant (3-115, TD) and Courtland Sutton (5-56, TD). No other Broncos receivers caught more than one pass or gained more than 14 yards. Phillip Lindsay ran for 92 yards and one touchdown and his 30-yard score in the third quarter provided the winning margin. Allen’s first game was a win, but he only threw 20 passes. The Broncos go onto their bye, so they can bask in their victory for two weeks.
GB 11, LAC 26
Every team can have an off game. The Packers just had their annual head-scratching trash game. Aaron Rodgers finished with only 161 yards and one score which came late in the fourth quarter. Rodgers totaled 35 passing yards at half time. The return of Davante Adams produced seven catches for 41 yards and the touchdown was caught by Jamaal Williams but no Packer gained more than 44 yards. Aaron Jones ran for only 30 yards on eight rushes and his single catch went for a one-yard loss. Just erase the whiteboard and forget it.
Philip Rivers passed for 294 yards but no scores. Mike Williams (3-111) and Hunter Henry (7-84) led the Chargers while Keenan Allen was limited to only 40 yards on three catches. Melvin Gordon finally had a big performance with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and 29 more yards on three receptions. Even Austin Ekeler ran for 70 yards on 12 carries and caught four passes for 23 yards. The Packers had no answer for the Chargers defense and the Bolts ran the ball a total of 35 times for 159 yards. This game was all Chargers from the start.
NE 20, BAL 37
Wait – what? The Pats get kicked out of Club Unbeaten with the game plan slanted towards short-range passing over and over. The game plan left Sony Michel with only four carries for 18 yards while Jamel White rushed nine times for 38 yards and a touchdown because he was constantly on the field. White was held to only two catches for 46 yards. Tom Brady passed for 285 yards and one touchdown to Mohamed Sanu (10-81, TD) while Julian Edelman (10-89) was the only other receiver that mattered. The bigger surprise wasn’t that the Pats could only manage two touchdowns, it was that they gave up four scores that included a returned fumble from Edelman. And that the No.2 defense against the run just allowed a total of 41 rushes for 210 yards.
Lamar Jackson was the difference maker with 163 passing yards and one score plus 16 rushes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Ingram ran for 115 yards on 15 carries while Gus Edwards scored once on his seven runs for 27 yards. No receiver topped Marquise Brown (3-48) and otherwise, Jackson relied on all three tight ends and Mark Ingram when he passed. This was a classic way that the Ravens play, but the Patriots couldn’t stop Jackson. The Patriots are mortal. But Lamar Jackson wasn’t for at least this week
TB 34, SEA 40 overtime
What’s not to love about this fantasy-point bonanza? A combined 713 passing yards and nine touchdowns?
Jameis Winston passed for 335 yards and two touchdowns and almost entirely focused on Mike Evans (12-180, TD) and Chris Godwin (7-61). Breshad Perriman (4-42, TD) also scored though it was off a carom off a defender trying to keep Evans from scoring. Ronald Jones (18-67, TD) was the hot hand and produced the first points in the game.
Peyton Barber (4-15) was an afterthought in this one. The Buccaneers led 21-7 in the second quarter and 24-21 to start the fourth quarter. Dare Ogunbowale ran in a touchdown with only 46 seconds left on his only play and sent the game into overtime. The Buccaneers never saw the ball again.
Russell Wilson threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns and led his team down in overtime to throw that final touchdown to Jacob Hollister to prevent the Buccaneers from getting their own series in overtime. Tyler Lockett (13-152, 2 TD) and DK Metcalf (6-123, TD) were wonderful representatives of how bad the Buccaneers secondary is. Even Jacob Hollister caught four passes for 37 yards and two scores.
Chris Carson ran for 105 yards on 16 rushes and added 28 more yards on two catches. Every reasonable fantasy starter in this game went off with good to great fantasy points. The Seahawks had a better time than they likely will in San Francisco this week. The Buccaneers continue their slide, but at least they are spewing fantasy points as they go.