Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
NYG 13, CHI 17
This was the snore-fest we feared and made tragically memorable when Saquon Barkley was helped from the field with what appeared to be a torn ACL. Sterling Shepard also left the game and Daniel Jones only managed 241 yards and one interception. Even Engram (6-65) was the top receiver while Golden Tate (5-47) was the best wide receiver which was clearly just a relative term. Dion Lewis becomes the free agent of the week with Barkley out but only gained 20 yards on ten carries with one touchdown. Lewis did add four catches for 36 yards so he’ll have fantasy value. Not Saquon Barkley value by any means, but he’ll be a starting running back that catches the ball well.
The Bears lost David Montgomery temporarily but he returned to the game and ended with a credible 82 yards on 16 carries and was also the leading receiver with only three catches for 45 yards and a score. Mitchell Trukisky only threw for 190 yards and two scores with two interceptions in what may be his easy matchup of the month. Allen Robinson was held to only 33 yards on three catches and the passing game is benefitting no one so far… except for Dion Lewis. The 0-2 Giants host the 49ers this week, and the 2-0 Bears play in Atlanta.
DET 21, GB 42
The Packers appear unwilling to give the NFC North to anyone else this season. The Lions led 14-3 in the first quarter and then it all went very bad, very quickly. Matt Stafford ended with 244 yards and two scores but that was well short of what was needed to be competitive. He still misses Kenny Golladay and it shows. T.J. Hockenson led the receivers with 62 yards on four catches while D’Andre Swift is making a bigger mark as a pass-catcher than a rusher. He snared five passes for 60 yards but was held to only 12 yards on five carries. Marvin Jones (4-23, TD) scored once to salvage his fantasy value. The backfield was neatly split between the ineffective Swift, Adrian Peterson (7-41) and Kerryon Johnson (8-32, TD) so there is almost no reliable fantasy value here.
Aaron Rodgers only needed to pass for 240 yards and two scores but missed Davante Adams (3-36) who pulled his hamstring. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3-64) had one long catch and left the game temporarily. Aaron Jones was the difference maker with four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, plus he ran for 168 yards and two more scores. That included a 75-yard touchdown jaunt. The 2-0 Packers need a healthy Adams but pummeled the Lions regardless. They travel to New Orleans this week for their biggest challenge to date. The 0-2 Lions visit the Cardinals in what is becoming the desert of death.
MIN 11, IND 28
The Vikings offense has looked worse before, probably, but when was that? Dalvin Cook gained 63 yards and a score on his 14 carries but his touchdown came when they trailed 28-3 late in the fourth quarter when the Colts defense was chasing a passing ice cream truck. Kirk Cousins completed just 11-of-26 for 113 yards and three interceptions. His final QB rating was 15.9. The Colts secondary is good, but it is not usually stringing-up-barbed-wire great. Even Adam Thielen was held to three catches for 31 yards despite a team-high eight targets.
This wasn’t the pass-happy fest expected for the Colts but it was clearly not a need for the win. Jonathan Taylor ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on his 26 carries. No one likes to see an injury, but every Taylor owner is less bothered by Marlon Mack landing on IR. Philip Rivers threw for 214 yards and one score to Zach Pascal while T.Y. Hilton (3-28) still has yet to get started. Mo Alie-Cox replaced Jack Doyle as the lead receiver with five receptions for 111 yards. The 0-2 Vikings host the Titans this week while the 1-1 Colts host the Jets.
BUF 31, MIA 28
This matchup defied conventional thought be becoming a high-scoring aerial battle. Josh Allen passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns as a career-best. Stefon Diggs ended with eight catches for 153 yards and one score, while John Brown (4-82, TD) and Cole Beasley (5-70) both enjoyed above-average performances. Devin Singletary ran for 56 yards on ten carries while Zack Moss went for 37 yards on his eight rushes. CB Byron Jones left injured so the passing became easier.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 328 yards and two scores with Mike Gesicki (8-130, TD) leading the team and Isaiah Ford (7-76) popping up on the box score. Devante Parker only caught five passes for 53 yards but scored once. The backfield is still without any real fantasy value, since Myles Gaskin (7-46), Matt Brieda (7-37) and Jordan Howard (5-4, TD) all share the meager production. The 2-0 Bills host the Raiders this week while the 0-2 Dolphins travel to Jacksonville. All things considered, the Fins should be happy with “close” after last year.
SF 31, NYJ 13
This was a beat-down as expected, even though the 49ers were jettisoning starters along the way. Raheem Mostert totaled 107 yards thanks to an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game but left with a knee sprain. Jimmy Garopplo was efficiently winning the game but left with a high-ankle sprain. Jordan Reed replaced Jimmy Kittle and caught both touchdown passes and ended with seven receptions for 50 yards in a very Kittle-esque performance. Jerick McKinnon becomes a red-hot free agent pick-up this week (providing Mostert remains out) thanks to his 55-yard run and a 16-yard touchdown.
The Jets came in without Le’Von Bell and Jamison Crowder and was never remotely in this game. Frank Gore gained 63 yards on 21 carries as Bell’s replacement but recorded no receptions. Sam Darnold only passed for 179 yards and one score to Braxton Berrios (6-59, TD). Chris Hogan (6-75) led the receivers but later left with a rib injury. The notion that Chris Herndon was going to have a break out season remains a secret. The banged-up (1-1) 49ers play at the Giants this week while the (0-2) Jets travel to face the Colts.
LA 37, PHI 19
After two weeks, it seems that maybe the Rams are really that good and the Eagles are really that bad. The Rams lost Cam Akers early in the game but just switched to Malcolm Brown (11-47) and Darrel Henderson (12-81, TD) for a committee situation no one wants to see. Jared Goff passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns that all ended up with Tyler Higbee (5-54, 3 TD). Cooper Kupp (5-81) was the only wideout with any significance. The Rams resorted to six different runners including Robert Woods (3-19, TD) and Van Jefferson with one carry.
The Eagles have lost significant offensive linemen and that has derailed the offense that has little time to get plays executed. Miles Sanders ran well regardless with 20 rushes for 95 yards and one score but had several stuffed rushes He also added three catches for 36 yards as the only rewarding fantasy play for the team. Carson Wentz only threw for 242 yards and two interceptions against the Rams secondary. DeSean Jackson (6-64) and Zach Ertz (5-42) were as good as it got. The (0-2) Eagles offense sputters badly outside of Sanders but host the Bengals this week when it should all work much better. The 2-0 Rams are passing and rushing well, and using a wide variety of players each week. They travel to face the Bills.
DEN 21, PIT 26
This was a very competitive game even though the Broncos were on the road and lost Drew Lock at the first of the game. Jeff Driskel passed for 256 yards and two scores in replacement. Courtland Sutton (3-66) was able to play but then later left with his knee bothering him. Jerry Jeudy (4-62) and Noah Fant (4-57, TD) were better than expected as well. Melvin Gordon took over the backfield with Phillip Lindsay out and ran for 70 yards on 19 carries plus he caught a touchdown on his two receptions for 14 yards. The Broncos lost, but they far exceeded expectations.
Ben Roethlisberger passes for 311 yards and two scores between Diontae Johnson (8-92) and Chase Claypool (3-88, TD) with the rookie including an 84-yard catch-and-score. JuJu Smith-Schuster was held to only 48 yards on his seven receptions. James Conner returned as the starter and ran for 106 yards and a score on his 16 runs while Benny Snell (3-5) took a back seat. The 2-0 Steelers host the Texans this week while the 0-2 Broncos welcome the Buccaneers to Denver.
CAR 17, TB 31
The Panthers defense will be their Achilles heel all season long. Christian McCaffrey totaled 88 yards and two scores but left the game late with an ankle injury. Teddy Bridgewater struggled to throw in the first half but finally caught fire later in the game and ended with 367 passing yards but no scores. D.J. Moore (8-120) finally came back to life and Robby Anderson (9-109) turned in his second productive showing as a Panther. Mike Davis is the backup that almost no McCaffey owner grabbed and he just caught eight passes for 74 yards and will replace McCaffrey if needed.
Tom Brady only needed to throw for 217 yards and one score but at least he discovered Mike Evans (7-104, TD). No other receivers mattered in this one and Chris Godwin’s absence did not matter. The backfield is a bit more convoluted though since Ronald Jones (7-23, TD) started the game and scored first, but then later Leonard Fournette (12-103, 2 TD) was vastly better than his Week 1 showing of five yards on five runs. Almost as notable is that tight ends combined for only one catch and Rob Gronkowski had zero receptions. The 0-2 Panthers travel to face the Chargers while hoping that McCaffrey’s MRI is good news. The 1-1 Buccaneers play in Denver.
JAX 30, TEN 33
The Titans won on a last-second field goal but the Jaguars gave them all they could handle. James Robinson ran for 102 yards and a score and even added three receptions for 18 yards. He’s truly one of the biggest surprises that popped up right before the season started. Gardner Minshew passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns but threw to ten different receivers. DJ Chark (4-84) and Keelan Cole (6-58) were the most productive but eight of them caught at least three passes.This Jaguars team is already better on offense than expected.
Derrick Henry only gained 84 yards on 25 carries as the Jaguars defense continues to surprise. Ryan Tannehill did the damage with 239 passing yards and four touchdowns. Jonnu Smith (4-84, 2 TD) Adam Humphries (5-48, TD) stepped up with AJ Brown out and Corey Davis scored again but was held to only 36 yards on three catches. The Titans outlasted a furious comeback attempt by the Jaguars with Stephen Gostowski nailing a 49-yard field goal and he made a 51-yarder earlier in the game after missing three in Week 1. The 2-0 Titans head to Minnesota this week while the 1-1 Jaguars host the Dolphins.
WAS 15, ARI 30
The jury is still out about how good or bad Washington is this year. Not so for the Cardinals who were stellar in both games while facing good defenses. Kenyan Drake ran for 86 yards on 20 carries but only gained nine yards on two receptions. Kyler Murray threw for 286 yards and one touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins (8-68, TD) while the second-year quarterback ran for 67 yards and two scores on eight scrambles. The Washington defense was good against all facets – except for Murray running when they had no answer. So far, Hopkins is a pass-sponge and that depresses the other receivers.
The Football Team backfield is still a mess to forecast. Peyton Barber scored twice on his 17 carries in Week 1 and then had just one run for one yard versus the Cards. Antonio Gibson finally showed up with 13 runs for 55 yards and one score but only one catch that lost three yards. J.D. McKissic ran for 53 yards on eight carries and yet had no targets. This will likely all change next week anyway. Dwayne Haskins passed for 223 yards and one score which mostly went to Terry McLaurin (7-125, TD). There are no other fantasy plays among the receivers and the backfield rotation is still a’changing. The 1-1 Redskins head to Cleveland this week while the 2-0 Cardinals host the Lions.
BAL 33, HOU 16
How was it this team failed to reach the Super Bowl? Hard to tell with the way they opened the season. This is another committee backfield that is harder to read. J.K. Dobbins ran in two scores in the season opener but then had only two carries in Week 2 – and yet gained 48 yards since one went for 44 yards. Mark Ingram gained 55 yards on nine rushes and scored on a 30-yard run as a wildcat quarterback. Gus Edwards is still around with ten runs for 73 yards while Lamar Jackson settled for 54 yards on his 16 rushes. He only passed for 204 yards and one score, No receiver topped 42 yards. They were always in the lead and just did not need to throw much.
The Ravens held David Johnson to only 34 yards on 11 runs and he added just two catches for 16 yards. Deshaun Watson passed for 275 yards and one score with Brandon Cooks (5-95) finally making himself known as a Texan after a quiet Week 1. Randall Cobb turned in 59 yards on five catches while Jordan Akins led the team with seven catches for 55 yards. The Ravens defense was just too much to handle and the Texans had to settle for just two field goals in the second half. The 2-0 Ravens host the Chiefs on the next Monday night game while the 0-2 Texans play in Pittsburgh.
KC 23, LAC 20
Not many quarterbacks that can be down ten points and it only elicits a “yeah, so?” The Chiefs always have trouble with the Chargers and trailed 6-17 in the third quarter. Harrison Butker kicked his second 58-yard field goal in the game to win in overtime. Clyde Edwards-Helaire calmed down with only 38 yards on ten carries but added six catches for 20 yards. Patrick Mahomes ended with 302 yards and two touchdowns which mostly happened in the fourth quarter and overtime. The beauty of the Chiefs is that only the fantasy starters post big stats. Tyreek Hill (5-99, TD) and Travis Kelce (9-90, TD) were the two leading receivers and only ones with a score, or more than 30 yards.
Tyrod Taylor re-aggravated a chest injury in pregame warmups and the Justin Herbert era began. The rookie threw for 311 yards and one score while keeping the fantasy fortunes of Keenan Allen (7-96) and Hunter Henry (6-83) still productive. Austin Ekeler ran for 93 yards and added 55 more on four catches while the rookie Joshua Kelley gained 64 yards on 23 runs and caught two passes for 49 yards. The Chargers ran the ball 44 times in a game that they thought they won. Almost did. The 1-1 Chargers host the Panthers this week so everything should look better. The 2-0 Chiefs play in Baltimore on Monday night.
NE 30, SEA 35
Nice shoot-out to end the day. This came down to the final play and is a contender for the Game-o-the-Week. Cam Newton ran for 47 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 397 yards and one score. Julian Edelman set a career-best with eight catches for 179 yards while Damiere Byrd (6-72) and N’Keal Harry (8-72) both stepped up. There was nearly no rushing with Sony Michel held to only 19 yards on seven carries. But Newton not only rushed effectively, he looked good passing and very nearly produced the game-winning drive from his own 19-yard line in the final 1:55 and it ended on the Seattle two-yard line on a failed rushing attempt.
Chris Carson rushed for 72 yards and added three catches for 36 yards and a score. Russell Wilson completed 21-of-28 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns. D.K. Metcalf caught four passes for 92 yards that included a 54-yard scoring catch over the top of CB Stephon Gilmore. Tyler Lockett (7-67, TD) and David Moore (3-48, TD) also led the effort. Wilson played nearly flawlessly and ended with a 132.1 QB rating. This is a passing offense that handled arguably the best set of corners in the NFL. The 2-0 Seahawks host the Cowboys this week while the 1-1 Patriots host the Raiders who will be on a short week.
ATL 39, DAL 40
What a great game that the Cowboys did not even deserve to win. The Falcons led 20-0 in the first quarter since they had recovered three lost fumbles that killed Dallas drives. They led 29-10 at the half. With just under eight minutes to play, they went up 39-24. But the Cowboys reeled off two touchdowns and a last-second field goal to score 16 straight points in the final 4:57 of the game.
Matt Ryan passed for 273 yards and four touchdowns that went to Calvin Ridley (7-109, 2 TD), Hayden Hurst (5-72, TD), and Russell Gage (6-46, TD) while Julio Jones was held to only 24 yards on two catches. Jones did drop what should have been a 50-yard touchdown. Todd Gurley ran for 61 yards on 21 rushes but never had a target and Ito Smith was used at the goal line (unsuccessfully). The Falcons’ inability to run out the clock left too much time for the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott was one of the best fantasy plays of the day. He threw for 450 yards and one score and ran for three touchdowns. No one in NFL history had ever thrown for over 400 yards and rushed in three scores. CeeDee Lamb (6-106) and Amari Cooper (6-100) both hit the century mark while Dalton Schultz surprised with nine receptions for 88 yards and a score. Michael Gallup only caught two passes but gained 58 yards. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 89 yards and one score on 22 carries and added six catches for 33 yards.
This was the shootout that was expected though it seemed more likely that the Falcons would be the ones playing catch up. Somehow, the Cowboys shaky secondary could cover Julio Jones but no one else.
This was great weekend with 15 teams exceeding 30 points and generating plenty of fantasy benefit. But there were numerous injuries and the shake-out from that won’t be known until during the week.