Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
HOU 7, BAL 41
This was never a game. The Ravens led 34-0 before the Texans finally scored in the fourth quarter. Carlos Hyde ran for 65 yards and a score on nine carries but that was thanks to the 41-yard touchdown run when no one cared anymore and the Texans had no business running anyway. DeShaun Watson was held to only 169 yards and no scores. DeAndre Hopkins led the team with 80 yards on seven catches but no other receiver gained more than 27 yards. This was a beatdown that never improved. The loss now ties the Texans with the Colts for the AFC South.
The Ravens are peaking. Mark Ingram ran for 48 yards on 18 carries and then caught three passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns. Gus Edwards turned in 112 yards and a score on just eight runs. Lamar Jackson ran for 86 yards and added 222 yards and four scores as a passer. Mark Andrews led the pack with four catches for 75 yards but no other receiver had more than 27 yards. The Ravens are dominating and won their last six games. They feature a different sort of offense but defenses seem to be getting worse against it.
ATL 29, CAR 3
The Falcons drubbed the Panthers – at their stadium – in one of the bigger surprises of the weekend. No Falcon’s rusher gained more than 30 yards by Brian Hill that required 15 carries. The rookie Qadree Ollison scored once on his four runs for 11 yards. Matt Ryan passed for 311 yards and one score but had no turnovers. That was key. Calvin Ridley (8-143, TD) and Julio Jones (6-91) were the top receivers and no others had more than two receptions for 32 yards. The Falcons returned a punt for a touchdown and otherwise just stood by while the Panthers imploded.
Christian McCaffrey ran for 70 yards on 14 carries and added 11 receptions for 121 yards as the lead receiver. DJ Moore added eight catches for 95 yards as the only other notable receiver. Kyle Allen passed for 325 yards and four interceptions. That was the most important stat in this game. Aside from McCaffrey and Moore, the Panthers did little. The loss drops them to 5-5 and realistically out of playoff contention.
DAL 35, DET 27
This game was far closer than expected considering that Jeff Driskel took the start and the Lions haven’t had a rushing offense all year. Driskel passed for 209 yards and two scores which both ended up with Marvin Jones (4-43, 2 TD). No receiver gained more than 47 yards and Kenny Golladay was held to a single catch for 34 yards. Bo Scarbrough was the surprise running back called up from the practice squad on Saturday and his first-ever NFL action resulted in 14 carries for 55 yards and one score against the team that originally drafted him and then gave up.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for just 45 yards on 16 carries but scored and added a second touchdown on his two catches for 28 yards. Dak Prescott threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns which favored Michael Gallup (9-148, TD) and Randall Cobb (4-115, TD) but not Amari Cooper (3-38) since he almost always disappears in road games. The Lions put up a great fight and the Cowboys won because they had the minimum wage quarterback, not the highest-paid running back in the league.
JAC 13, IND 33
The Jaguars never had any success rushing and Leonard Fournette was held to only 23 yards on eight rushes. He added seven catches for 34 yards to help his fantasy value but the Colts defense was stout in this one. Nick Foles returned as the starter and passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns but that only benefited DJ Chark (8-104, 2 TD) since no one gained more than 58 yards or scored for the Jaguars. The loss drops the Jags to only 4-6 and the lack of rushing production was particularly disappointing.
Jacoby Brissett only threw for 148 yards and one touchdown to Marcus Johnson (4-38, TD) but the Colts won with their rushing. Marlon Mack gained 109 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries but left after halftime with a fractured hand. Since Jordan Wilkins was out, Jonathan Williams turned in 16 carries for 116 yards. Both Brissett and Nyheim Hines ran in short touchdowns from their couple of rushes. Mack looks to be out for a while, so Williams and Jordan Wilkins will both be coveted free agents this week.
BUF 37, MIA 20
This was never really that close. The Bills had Devin Singletary run for 75 yards on 15 carries but still gave Frank Gore 11 rushes to gain just 27 yards. Josh Allen ran for 56 yards and a touchdown and passed for 256 yards and three more scores. John Brown had a big day with nine catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns while no other receiver topped 38 yards. Dawson Knox (2-32) caught the other passing score. There was a bit more passing than expected, but the game was never in doubt.
None of the Miami running backs could best Kalen Ballage’s nine yards on nine carries though he did run in a score as well. Ryan Fitzpatrick ended with 323 yards and no touchdowns but DeVante Parker (7-135) provided the only fantasy relevant performance. The Fins scored on a punt return as well. The two-game winning streak was fun but it is definitely over. There is a decent chance that Fitzpatrick will throw 45 times in every game and just as good that he doesn’t score again.
DEN 23, MIN 27
Whoa. This was almost a trap game. The Broncos jumped out to a 20-0 lead by halftime before getting steamrolled in the second half. Still – the Fins ended the game with Brandon Allen taking three shots from the MIN-4 yard line to end the game and never scoring. Allen passed for 240 yards and one touchdown and Courtland Sutton shined with 113 yards on five receptions. By now there are no safe fantasy plays for the Denver receivers besides Sutton but he is holding onto his value very well. Phillip Lindsay (16-67) led the rushing but only ended with 75 total yards.
Dalvin Cook somehow ended with only 26 yards on 11 carries but scored once and caught five passes for 31 yards. Kirk Cousins threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns that mostly went to Stefon Diggs (5-121, TD) and Kyle Rudolph (5-67, TD). The Vikings were asleep in the first half but managed to mount the 27 point comeback to win. They remain just one game behind the Packers in the NFC North and still missing Adam Thielen.
NO 34, TB 17
This was an expected win and one of the few games that offered no surprises, at least for the Saints. Alvin Kamara ran for 75 yards on 13 carries and added ten catches for 47 yards. Drew Brees passed for 228 yards and three touchdowns but only Michael Thomas (8-114, TD) generate many fantasy points. Jared Cook also scored but only gained 33 yards on two catches. It may not have been quite as prolific with yardage as other meetings with the Bucs, but four touchdowns in total meant the fantasy starters all performed well.
The Buccaneers had nearly no rushing offense with Ronald Jones gaining just 13 yards on four runs and Peyton Barber never having a carry. Jameis Winston ended with 313 yards and two scores but his four interceptions were a killer. Though the Saints were without CB Marshon Lattimore, Mike Evans was held to only four catches for 69 yards and Chris Godwin settled for three receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Brate was the top receiver with a career-high ten catches for 73 yards. The Bucs disappointed since the matchup looked primed for Evans and Godwin to post major fantasy points.
NYJ 34, WAS 17
The Jets needed this win. Le’Veon Bell ran for 59 yards and score on 18 carries and added 33 yards on two receptions for one of his best showings as a Jet. Sam Darnold ended with 293 yards and four touchdowns as a testament to how bad the Redskins have become. Ryan Griffin led the team with 109 yards on five catches and a touchdown while Jamison Crowder turned in 76 yards and a score as well. Darnold produced a 121.2 QB rating in a road game. Granted, Robbie Anderson was held to only one catch but it was for a six-yard touchdown.
Adrian Peterson (9-25) was still the primary runner but Derrius Guice (7-24) had nearly as much work and added a 45-yard touchdown catch to make next week’s backfield just a bit tougher to call. Dwayne Haskins passed for 214 yards and two scores but Terry McLaurin (3-69) was as good as it got for receivers. The defense is bad and the offense is getting worse. But at least Guice offers something new to watch during the future losses.
CIN 10, OAK 17
Brutal game. 27 total points. Joe Mixon ran for 86 yards and a score plus caught a 17-yard pass for one of his best efforts of the year. But Ryan Finley only passed for 115 yards and completed only 13 of 31 attempts. Auden Tate (4-56) led the team but then appeared to have a severe injury to his neck and head. Mixon scored in the first quarter and the Bengals only managed one field goal in the rest of the game.
Josh Jacobs ran for 112 yards on 23 carries but only gained 12 yards on three catches. Derek Carr finished with 292 yards and one score to Foster Moreau (2-8, TD). Tyrell Williams (4-82) and Darren Waller (5-78) led the receivers but failed to score. This was a mail-in game and the Raiders got away with it. Lots of fantasy points were left on the field from what it should have been.
NE 17, PHI 10
Another snoozer. The Eagles led 10-0 at the start of the second quarter and never scored again. Carson Wentz ended with 214 yards and one score to Dallas Goedert (3-36) and Zach Ertz (9-94) was the only notable Eagle in fantasy terms. Miles Sanders totaled just 47 yards and the Eagles could generate almost no offense in the game.
The Patriots were not much better despite facing a below-average defense in most categories. Sony Michel ran for 33 yards on ten carries and added just 11yards on two catches. Tom Brady passed for only 216 yards and no score on his 26 short completions. Julian Edelman threw a touchdown on a trick play to Phillip Dorsett (3-33. TD) but Edelman’s 53 yards on five receptions were tops for the Pats. The Patriots defense won this game with surprisingly little help from Brady.
CHI 7, LAR 17
Late season games tend to include several low-scoring matchups. It appears to be starting early this year. The Bears only ran for 70 yards on 23 rushes with nearly even carries for David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen. Like past games, the commitment to the run wasn’t there and Cohen would add five catches for 35 yards and the single touchdown. Taylor Gabriel (7-57) and Anthony Miller (6-54) led the team but Mitchell Trubisky only passed for 190 yards and the one score and was replaced on the final series by Chase Daniel ostensibly from a hip injury. The Bears offense was never better than mediocre and started the game out by missing two field-goal attempts.
The Rams were no better other than Todd Gurley running for 97 yards and a touchdown on 25 rushes and added 36 yards on three catches. Jared Goff only passed 18 times and completed 11 for 173 yards. Cooper Kupp (3-53) caught a 50-yard pass and was tackled at the one-yard line so Gurley could steal the score. The one catch was about a third of all passing yards. This was just another brutally slow, unproductive game.
ARI 26, SF 36
This was far closer than expected not unlike their first meeting. The 49ers made the score look better when they recovered a fumble for a score on the final play of lateral-lateral-fumble. The Cardinals may rank No. 25 versus running backs but all combined the 49ers only ran for 27 yards on 18 carries. Deebo Samuel (8-134) had a second straight big performance but no other receivers topped 63 yards. Ross Dwelley replaced George Kittle and scored twice on his four catches for 14 yards. Emmanuel Sanders (3-33) ended up playing but then re-injured his ribs.
Kyler Murray only passed for 150 yards and two scores but ran for 67 yards and a touchdown. The passing stats were meager and Christian Kirk (6-41) led the team. Larry Fitzgerald (5-37, TD) had a rare score in this one. The biggest surprise was that David Johnson was active but never touched the ball. Kenyan Drake ran for 67 yards on 16 carries and added six receptions for 13 yards. The Cardinals led this 16-0 before the 49ers woke up in the second half.