Here’s a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
CAR 23, ATL 16
Defying all odds, the Panthers have improved without Christian McCaffrey and take this win by playing good defense and facing the Atlanta secondary which is just a treat in 2020. Teddy Bridgewater passed for 313 yards and two scores but mostly handed off in the second half. Robbie Anderson (8-112) and D.J. Moore (4-93, TD) both predictably tore up the cardboard cutouts parading as the Atlanta secondary. Mike Davis continues to look very McCaffrey-esque with 89 rush yards and nine receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown. The Panthers offense hasn’t been nearly as diverse as expected, and yet it’s been far more productive.
The Falcons saw Todd Gurley run 14 times for 121 yards and that included a 35-yard touchdown. For one magical day, Gurley was back to form (in a loss though). Matt Ryan only passed for 226 yards and no touchdowns. Calvin Ridley not only caught eight passes for 136 yards, but no other receiver managed more than 29 receiving yards. The 3-2 Panthers host the Bears this week while the 0-5 Falcons head to Minnesota still searching for their smile.
CIN 3, BAL 27
No big surprise here. The rookie Joe Burrow’s new record of three-straight 300-yard games came crashing down when he only managed 183 yards and one interception. Tee Higgins (4-62) and Tyler Boyd (4-42) were the top receivers while Joe Mixon was limited to only 59 yards on 24 carries. He added six catches for 35 yards to salvage some fantasy value. The Bengals only managed 253 total yards of offense in a game that they always trailed. Their field goal came with 32 seconds left to prevent the shutout.
Lamar Jackson missed practices and had a sore knee plus the stomach flu but still played. He passed for 180 yards and two touchdowns but only ran twice for three yards in a game that didn’t ask any of the offense to do that much. Marquise Brown (6-77, TD) and Mark Andrews (6-77, TD) were the only receivers that mattered. The backfield was the normal mess with Mark Ingram (11-57), Gus Edwards (7-25) and J.K. Dobbins (1-34) all mixed. This yawner sends the 4-1 Ravens to Philadelphia this week while the 1-3-1 Bengals travel to Indianapolis.
JAC 14, HOU 30
The Jaguars drew to within 14-20 in the fourth quarter before allowing the Texans to score ten unanswered points to take the win. James Robinson only gained 48 yards on 13 carries in a game that the run didn’t work. Gardner Minshew passed for 301 yards and two scores but Laviska Shenault (7-79) and Chris Conley (2-58) were the only receivers with more than 35 yards. Minshew hit nine different receivers and D.J. Chark (3-16) left late in the game with an ankle injury.
David Johnson ran for 96 yards on 17 carries but only added one catch for 11 yards. Deshaun Watson passed for 359 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Brandon Cooks (8-161, TD) was finally what they hoped when they chose him to replace DeAndre Hopkins. Will Fuller (4-58, TD) and Darren Fells (2-57, TD) were the next best. Jordan Akins was out and Fells stepped in admirably with his 44-yard touchdown catch. This is what the offense should have looked like this season but hadn’t until they fired HC Bill O’Brien. The 1-4 Texans finally get their first win to celebrate O’Brien’s departure and play at the Titans next week. The1-4 Jaguars have lost four in a row and host the Lions.
ARI 30, NYJ 10
The Cards ended their two-game losing streak while taking the NFL’s version of the “Sweaty Bye”. Not as relaxing as a real bye, but it’s a free win and everything works like it was just a practice. Kenyan Drake (finally) ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries but only added one catch for two yards. Chase Edmonds ran for 36 yard and a score on just three runs and added five catches for 66 yards as the receiver that Drake was supposed to be. Kyler Murray ran for a score and 31 yards and passed for 380 yards and a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins (6-131, TD) came to life later in the game and Christian Kirk (5-78) was the only other notable receiver.
Joe Flacco kept up the standard left behind by Sam Darnold when he passed for 195 yards and one touchdown in a game that they lost by three touchdowns. Once again, Jamison Crowder (8-116, TD) is the only receiver that matters or that is even remotely worth covering. Le’Veon Bell returned to gain 60 yards on 13 rushes and caught a seven-yard pass. He looked like a big upgrade over Frank Gore who still had nine runs to gain 30 yards. The 0-5 Jets look for their first win traveling to the Chargers while the 3-2 Cardinals head to Dallas, where everything should continue to work well.
PHI 29, PIT 38
The Battle of Pennsylvannia produced 67 total points, so it was worth watching. Miles Sanders surprised with two rushing scores on his 11 runs for 80 yards and he added two catches for 19 more yards. Carson Wentz did throw two interceptions and he did not run in a touchdown like usual. But he made a lot of great throws against one of the better secondaries. He threw for 258 yards and two scores. Travis Fulgham (10-152, TD) was everything we thought
he Jalen Reagor would be. His first ever game was Week 4 when he caught a freakish 42-yard touchdown. Apparently, that was not so freakish. No other receiver had more than 37 yards. They lost, but they made a game of it and Wentz looked better.
By no means was Fulgham the most surprising rookie in this game. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns that all went to Chase Claypool (7-110, 3 TD) and he scored on another bomb that was called back on a questionable offensive pass interference call. No other receiver gained more than 43 yards and no other scored. James Conner totaled 63 yards and one touchdown while Super Man Chase Claypool also ran in a score giving him four in one game. It was a very memorable game for Claypool and all his relatives. Memorable too since he almost certainly did that while on fantasy benches since his last game only produced one catch. The 1-3-1 Eagles host the Ravens while the 4-0 Steelers host the Browns.
LAR 30, WAS 10
Alright, alright. So where’s Haskins? The Football Team flopped hard with Kyle Allen getting knocked out of the game and Alex Smith finished the game, all the while the announcers mentioning “gruesome leg injury” about every three minutes. All combined, they passed for 111 yards and no scores though Kyle Allen did rush in a touchdown. Antonio Gibson (11-27) led the rushers while J.D. McKissic (6-46) was the best receiver. It was a miserable offensive performance at home. The kind that is hard to shake and even harder for HC Ron Rivera to explain in the post-game interview.
Jared Goff passed for 309 yards and two scores with Gerald Everett (4-90) and Robert Woods (4-71, TD) as the top receivers. Cooper Kupp caught five passes for 66 yards but the Rams passed because they could, not because of need. Darrell Henderson scored on his three catches for 30 yards and rushed in a touchdown on his team-high 15 carries for 38 yards. Malcolm Brown gained 30 yards on eight rushes while Cam Akers covered 61 yards on his nine runs that included a 46-yard gain. The 1-4 Football Team travel to play the Giants this week. The 4-1 Rams head to San Francisco.
MIA 43, SF 17
The 49ers defense was already known to be missing a lot of players, but the expectation was that they would at least show up. This upset was about as bad as it gets for the 49ers who have to forget 2019 and rethink just what they are now. Raheem Mostert was back and ran for 90 yards on just 11 carries and added three receptions for 29 more yards. But Jimmy Garoppolo was benched after two interceptions and C.J. Beathard was marginally better – at home against the Dolphins. No receiver was better than George Kittle’s four catches for 44 yards. The 49ers were throttled in all aspects by the Fins. The game was exactly what you would have expected at the end of 2019 – only with teams swapping sides. The 49ers were so bad that it is hard to wrap your head around what this really means.
The win was one of the most dominating and satisfying for the Fins in years. Jordan Howard was inactive and Myles Gaskins ran 16 times for 57 yards and one score plus caught five passes for 34 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 350 yards and three touchdowns with a QB rating of 154.5. He completed 22 of 28 throws. Preston Williams (4-16, TD) and Mike Gesicki (5-91) were the top receivers and Gesicki caught a pass and rumbled for 70 yards. Devante Parker only managed two receptions but gained 50 yards and scored once. The Fins rushing didn’t work until later in the game but overall, it was a thorough win. The 2-3 Dolphins head to Denver this week while the 2-3 49ers host the Rams.
IND 23, CLE 32
The Browns led 27-10 in the third quarter but the Colts drew within 23-29 with 2:50 left to play. Jonathan Taylor ran for 57 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in a game where he was usually stuffed at the line. Philip Rivers passed for 243 yards and two interceptions with T.Y. Hilton (6-69) and Marcus Johnson (3-53) led the marginal receivers. The Colts passing game has never come into focus and by now mostly focuses on the dink-and-dunk passing instead of the deep game that Rivers was hoped to reinvigorate. The defense and running offense are good enough to win most games, but the passing effort continues to fall well short of expectations.
The Browns once again did well without Nick Chubbs. Kareem Hunt ran for 72 yards and caught three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. D’Ernest Johnson filled in as the No. 2 back and ran for 32 yards on eight runs but never fielded a target. Baker Mayfield passes for 247 yards and two scores but also two interceptions. Jarvis Landry (4-88) and Odell Beckham (5-58) were back to being good without a hint of great. The 3-2 Colts host the Bengals in Week 6 and the 4-1 Browns head to Pittsburgh for a very important AFC North matchup.
NYG 34, DAL 37
The Cowboys pulled out the last second win, again, versus a bad opponent who suddenly looked great, again. But none of the Cowboys were smiling after losing Dak Prescott for the rest of the year when his fractured ankle had his foot pointing the wrong direction. CeeDee Lamb ended with 124 yards on eight catches and Michael Gallup turned in 73 yards on four catches with his final 38-yard reception that allowed the game-winning field goal. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns on his 19 carries and added a 14-yard catch. But losing Prescott means that the Cowboys cannot rely on shootouts to compensate for everything that their defense gives away.
The Giants were in this thanks to returning an interception for a score and getting a rushing touchdown from Evan Engram. Devonta Freeman ran for 60 yards and a score on his 17 rushes and added two catches for 27 yards. Daniel Jones only passed for 222 yards but Darius Slatyon hauled in eight passes for 129 yards as the only receiver with more than 42 yards. The notable element was relying on Freeman with some success. The 0-5 Giants host the Redskins this week while the 2-3 Cowboys host the Cardinals.
MIN 26, SEA 27
The Seahawks are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. This was a great Sunday night matchup that saw the Vikings lead 13-0, fall behind 21-13 and then took the lead 26-21 with only 1:56 left to play. Russell Wilson brought them down the field and on fourth-down at the Vikings six-yard line, he hit DK Metcalf with the game-winner with only 14 seconds left to play.
Dalvin Cook left with a groin injury after gaining 65 yards and a score on 17 carries. Alexander Mattison filled in admirably with 20 rushes for 112 yards and three catches for 24 yards. Kirk Cousins passed for 249 yards and two scores to Adam Thielen (9-80, 2 TD) while Justin Jefferson only caught three passes for 23 yards.
Russell Wilson ended with 217 yards and three touchdowns passing, plus he ran for 58 yards. DK Metcalf was the hero with six catches for 93 yards and two scores including the fourth-down game-winner. No other receiver gained more than 44 yards. Chris Carson only ran eight times for 52 yards and a score but added six catches for 27 yards. The Vikings ran the ball 39 times for 196 yards but left too much time on the clock.
Raiders 40, Chiefs 32
No surprise that this matchup spawned 72 points, but it was unexpected that the Raiders would have more of them. The reigning NFL champions finally lost a game and to a divisional rival.
The game was tied at half-time 24-24 and then scoreless during the third quarter. But the Raiders were the ones with the late-game heroics while the Chiefs played the unfamiliar role of not keeping up.
Derek Carr passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns for one of his career-best efforts. Henry Ruggs (2-118, TD) finally hit his highest gear when he turned a catch into a 72-yard “you cannot catch me” touchdown. Nelson Agholor also turned in a 59-yard score with just two catches for 67 yards. Darren Waller (5-48, TD) rounded out the scoring. Almost half of their pass yardage came on just two plays and that was exactly why Ruggs was drafted.
Josh Jacobs ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his 23 runs but only added two receptions for eight yards. The game followed a well-read script, only the Chiefs and Raiders traded roles.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 340 yards and two scores, plus ran in a touchdown as well. Travis Kelce (8-108, TD) and Tyreek Hill (3-78) were the top receivers and Hill caught a beautiful 50-yard score that was called back on a hold. No other Chief had more than 50 yards which is true in most games. Clyde Edwards-Helaire only ran for 40 yards on ten carries and added three catches for 40 yards to fall short of expectations.
It is not unusual starting in the second month of the season that surprising outcomes happen. Trap games, slop-fests and surprise monster performances happen since teams get tired and just let down for a week. The Raiders are better this year, but probably not beat the Chiefs in Kansas City good. At least not usually. But for Week 5 of 2020, they were that good.