Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
ARI 21, CAR 31
The Cardinals drop their second game in a row and both had them favored. The same team that opened the year winning in San Francisco looked out of sorts versus the Panthers. Kenyan Drake only gained 35 yards on 13 rushes and never had a target. He’s dropped significantly from how he ended 2019. Kyler Murray passed for 133 yards and three touchdowns and while DeAndre Hopkins led the receivers like usual, he only gained 41 yards on seven catches and no score. Christian Kirk scored but only ended with 19 yards on three receptions. That hot start to the year has cooled the last two weeks.
The Panthers are the opposite. They won their last two games after being written off as dead without Christian McCaffrey. Mike Davis ran for 84 yards and a score while catching five passes for 27 yards. Teddy Bridgewater passes for 276 yards and two scores plus ran in a touchdown on his six runs for 32 yards. Robby Anderson led the team with eight receptions for 99 yards while DJ Moore only managed 49 yards on his four catches. The 2-2 Panthers are no longer a “soft spot” on the schedule. They head to Atlanta this week where passing games come to life. The 2-2 Cardinals are back on the road to face the Jets in what should be a “turn around” game.
JAX 25, CIN 33
This matchup did not look like a 58 pointer, but here we are. The Bengals finally logged their first win with Joe Mixon rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns and he added six catches for 30 yards and a score. After three disappointing outings, Mixon finally turned in the big performance his drafters had expected. Joe Burrow passed for 300 yards and the one touchdown to Mixon. Tyler Boyd (7-90) and Tee Higgins (4-77) led the receivers. The rookie finally notched his first win thanks to Mixon finally getting on track.
The Jaguars dropped their third-straight game which kinda says “same old Jags.” James Robinson ran for 75 yards and caught four passes for 32 yards while Gardner Minshew threw for 351 yards and two scores that both went to DJ Chark (8-95, 2 TD). The rookie Laviska Shenault was next best with five catches for 86 yards but no other receiver did much. There were seven receivers with 20+ yards and Minshew didn’t lock onto anyone other than Chark. The loss sends the 1-3 Jaguars to Houston this week while the 1-2-1 Bengals head to Baltimore for a likely loss.
NO 35, DET 29
The Saints pulled this out despite trailing 14-0 in the first quarter. Alvin Kamara ran for 83 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 36 yards but failed to score twice for the first time this year. Latavius Murray ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns for one of his best games as a Saint. Drew Brees passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns that both ended up with Tre’Quan Smith (4-54, 2 TD). Emmanuel Sanders led the team with 93 yards on six catches while the team covered for Michael Thomas again. The rushing effort was the biggest help, particularly with Murray’s contribution.
Matt Stafford faced a secondary that missed its two starting cornerbacks but only ended with 206 passing yards and three scores. Kenny Golladay (4-62, TD) was the top receiver but only caught half of his eight targets. Adrian Peterson ran for 36 yards and one touchdown on his eleven runs and the rookie D’Andre Swift ran for 22 yards and scored on his four receptions for 30 yards. Only two receivers gained more than 31 yards and that’s a disappointment for a passing offense that was expected to be much better than this, especially facing a visiting secondary without their best cornerbacks. The 2-2 Saints return home to face the Chargers while the 1-3 Lions go onto their bye.
MIN 31, HOU 23
The Vikings finally got back ontop the winning track with this mild surprise upset. Dalvin Cook ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns on his 27 runs and even allowed Alexander to steal a score late in the game. Kirk Cousins passed for 260 yards and one touchdown on only 20 pass attempts. Adam Thielen (8-114, TD) came back to life to lead the team and the rookie Justin Jefferson (4-103) topped 100 yards for the second-straight week. The dominating rushing effort won the game and freed up Cousins to be both effective and efficient when he did throw.
DeSean Watson is not the problem. He threw for 300 yards and two scores with a 110.7 QB rating. Will Fuller (6-108, TD) was the only receiver with more than 50 yards but six different players ended with 20 or more receiving yards. He brought the team back from a 31-16 deficit in the fourth quarter but then fell short. The Texans reached the Minnesota one-yard line with 1:18 to play but could not punch it in on four attempts. David Johnson ran for 63 yards on 16 carries but failed to score on two runs and then fumbled the exchange from Watson on third down. The 1-3 Vikings head to Seattle this week where they’ll have a tougher time and the 0-4 Texans host the Jaguars for an excellent chance to notch their first win.
SEA 31, MIA 23
The Seahawks are like the Cowboys in that they have a great offense and a bad defense. Unlike the Cowboys, the Seahawks still win their games. Chris Carson entered the game questionable and left to be checked for a concussion but later returned. He still ended with two touchdowns on his 16 runs for 80 yards and added 20 more on three receptions. Russell Wilson threw for 360 yards and two scores that split out mostly to the wide receivers – D.K. Metcalf (4-106), David Moore (3-95, TD) and Tyler Lockett (2-39). This was a much closer matchup than expected but the Seahawks scored twice in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
The Dolphins were unable to mount any rushing offense with Myles Gaskin leading the team with 40 yards on ten runs and the only rushing score belonged to Ryan Fitzpatrick who turned in 47 rushing yards on six runs. He also threw for 315 yards. Devante Parker (10-110) was the only receiver with more than 50 yards in the game. He had his best matchup of the year but only completed 29-of-45 with two interceptions. Mike Gesicki (1-15) and Preston Williams (1-15) were nonfactors. The 1-3 Dolphins travel to San Francisco this week while the 4-0 Seahawks return home to face the Vikings.
LAC 31, TB 38
What a wonderful point-fest. The Chargers ran for just 28 yards on 17 carries and lost Austin Ekeler for the game (or more). The impressive rookie Justin Herbert finished with 290 yards and three touchdowns and completed 20-of-25 passes. Those included Jalen Guyton (1-72, TD) and Tyron Johnson (1-53, TD) made the most of their single catches, and Keenan Allen (8-62) was the only receiver with more than three receptions. The loss digs a hole and losing Ekeler for any amount of time will have a negative impact. But it would be a surprise to see the Bolts return to using Tyrod Taylor at any point.
The Buccaneers fell behind 24-7 in the second quarter and Tom Brady threw yet another pick-six. But Ronald Jones ran for 111 yards with Leonard Fournette out and LeSean McCoy injured during the game. Brady passed for 369 yards and five scores for his best effort as a Buccaneer. Mike Evans (7-122, TD), Scott Miller (5-83, TD), and O.J. Howard (3-50, TD) were the most productive though Howard would later leave injured. This was a home game against a weaker team, but at least all the parts of the offense worked well. The win sends the 3-1 Buccaneers to Chicago this week while the 1-3 Chargers travel to play the Saints.
BAL 31, WAS 17
This game was never in doubt. Lamar Jackson made up for his struggles last week when he ran for 53 yards that included a 50-yard touchdown right up the middle of the defense. He passed for 193 yards and two scores that both ended with Mark Andrews (3-57) while Marquise Brown led the receivers with four receptions for 86 yards. Mark Ingram scored on his eight runs for 34 yards while Gus Edwards’ nine carries netted 38 yards. The Ravens defense carried this win and Jackson was efficient when he passed. He and Andrews are still the only Ravens that are must-start players in this offense.
The Football Team only got 46 yards on 13 carries by Antonio Gibson but he ran in a score. No other back gained more than nine yards. Dwayne Haskins ran in a meaningless touchdown in the final minute and passed for 314 yards and no scores. Terry McLaurin (10-118) was the only wideout with more than 29 yards and the passing favored the running backs the most between Gibson (4-82) and J.J. McKissic (7-40). Haskins has been on thin ice with poor performances this season, but the Ravens did him a favor by sitting on an early lead and letting him dink-and-dunk with running backs. The 3-1 Ravens host the Bengals this week while the 1-3 Football Team hosts the Rams.
NYG 9, LAR 17
Such a great, high-scoring weekend and then there was this flop. Is there a chance that the Rams did not take this game seriously enough? Is there a chance that they didn’t? Daniel Jones passed for only 190 yards and one interception and none of the receivers were better than Darrius Slayton’s 48 yards on three catches. Evan Engram could only turn ten targets into six catches for 35 yards. No running back rushed for more than 45 yards but Devonta Freeman totaled 68 yards with his four receptions added in. There’s not enough production here to yield a fantasy starter and yet they still divide that up with three different rushers.
The Rams only led 10-9 until late in the fourth quarter. Darrell Henderson only ran for 22 yards on eight runs and Malcolm Brown was given nine runs to produce 37 yards. The two-yard rushing touchdown was scored by tight end Gerald Everett on his only carry. Jared Goff passed for just 200 yards and one score thanks to Cooper Kupp catching a 55-yard touchdown or the game would have been even more embarrassing. The Rams mailed it in and got away with it. The 0-4 Giants head to Dallas where all things are possible and the 3-1 Rams travel to Washington to play the Football Team.
IND 19, CHI 11
Big scores in all the early games and then the afternoon mostly did a face plant. Mo Alie-Cox scored in the first quarter and that was the lone touchdown until the final minute of the game. Jonathan Taylor ran for 68 yards on 17 rushes but only caught one pass for 11 yards. The best receivers were Zack Pascal (3-58) and T.Y. Hilton (3-29). The expectations were low playing in Chicago and they were soundly met. Rivers only completed 16 of 29 passes and no receiver caught more than three passes. They took the win thanks to four field goals by Rodrigo Blankenship.
The Bears had even less success than the Colts. David Montgomery only gained 27 yards on ten carries but added 30 yards on three catches. Nick Foles finished with 249 yards and one score but only produced a 76.4 QB rating. Allen Robinson caught a team-high seven catches for 101 yards and the fourth-quarter touchdown to make it look like the offense was ever there. No other receiver ended with more than 52 yards or any score. The 3-1 Bears drop their first game and host the Buccaneers this week. The 3-1 Colts won their last three games and travel to Cleveland.
BUF 30, LV 23
This match-up was better than expected. Neither team had much success running the ball. Devin Singletary gained 55 yards and a touchdown on 18 rushes and Josh Allen lost a net yard on his three runs. He threw for 288 yards and two scores between Cole Beasley (3-32, TD) and Gabriel Davis (1-26, TD) while Stefon Diggs (6-115) continues to see high production in this offense. The Bills had to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure the win and recover the onsides kick attempt by the Raiders.
Josh Jacobs was held to only 48 yards on 15 runs and added 25 yards on three catches for a mediocre performance. Derek Carr passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns but the final came with only 1:29 left to play as they failed to finish a comeback. Darren Waller (9-88) was the top receiver and will likely stay that way with both rookie wideouts on the sideline. Hunter Renfrow (5-57) and Nelson Agholor (4-44, TD). Both teams saw success passing but mostly later in the game. The 4-0 Bills head to Tennessee (maybe) this week while the 2-2 Raiders travel to Kansas City.
PHI 25, SF 20
Nine road teams won so far this week and the Eagles are likely the biggest surprise. The 49ers led 14-8 in the third quarter but the Eagles kicked a field goal, connected on a 42-yard touchdown bomb to Travis Fulgham (signed fromm practice squad on Saturday) and then a pick-six by the defense with five minutes to play. The 49ers switched to C.J. Beathard and reached the Eagles 33-yard line when time expired. Jerick McKinnon ran for 54 yards and one score on 14 rushes and caught seven passes for 43 yards. Brandon Aiyuk only caught two short passes for ran for a 38-yard touchdown. George Kittle caught 15 passes for 183 yards and one score.
The Eagles didn’t perform much better other than fewer turnovers (1 vs. 3) and returning the interception for a score. Miles Sanders only ran for 46 yards on 13 carries and added two catches for 30 yards. Carson Wentz only passed for 193 yards and one score but rushed in a touchdown for the third-straight game. The only notable receiver was the practice-squadder Fulgham (2-57, TD). The first win is obviously important and they went in as 6.5-point underdog but the offense did not look any better. The 1-2-1 Eagles head to Pittsburgh for an even tougher task while the 2-2 49ers host the Dolphins.
CLE 49, DAL 38
The Cowboys and Seahawks seem to own this spot. This week, the Cowboys.
This was a dagger to the heart for the Cowboys that couldn’t handle the visiting Browns and gave up a franchise-record 307 rushing yards to a team that lost their starting running back at the start of the second half. Nick Chubb ran for 43 yards before leaving and Kareem Hunt gained 72 yards and scored twice on his 11 carries. D’Ernest Johnson plowed through the Cowboys defense with 95 yards on 13 rushes. Even Odell Beckham turned in a back-breaking 50-yard touchdown run to nail down the win.
Baker Mayfield faced the worst defense in the NFL but only passed for 165 yards and two scores because the rushing effort worked so well. Odell Beckham finally had his breakout game of the season when he caught five passes for 81 yards and two more touchdowns. No other receiver was better than Jarvis Landry who also threw one of the touchdowns to Beckham. The Browns trailed 14-7 and then reeled off 34 straight points before the Cowboys scored again.
Ezekiel Elliott was limited to 54 yards on 12 rushes but added eight catches for 71 yards. When he gains more as a receiver than as a rusher in a home game, chances are it did not go well. And it didn’t.
Dak Prescott threw for 502 yards and four touchdowns with one interception to kill the final comeback drive. Amari Cooper (12-134, TD), CeeDee Lamb (5-79, 2 TD), and Dalton Shultz (4-72, TD) handled the scoring. With 502 yards to distribute, it was impossible to find any Cowboys’ receiver that didn’t have a big game… except for Michael Gallup (2-29).
The 3-1 Browns host the Colts this week while the 1-3 Cowboys host the Giants for a great shot at an actual win. In other news, start your Giants’ receivers…