Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
DEN 20, ATL 34
No big surprises in this one. Drew Lock passed for 313 yards and two scores between Jerry Jeudy (7-125, TD) and Tim Patrick (4-29). KJ Hamler ended with 75 yards on six catches while Lock relied on the wide receivers. Lock also added 47 yards and a touchdown on his seven runs as the Broncos’ leading rusher. Phillip Lindsay (8-23) and Melvin Gordon (6-18) were ineffective as rushers and combined for only one catch. Denver trailed 6-27 entering the fourth quarter and mounted a three-touchdown fourth quarter that fell short.
Matt Ryan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns and relied on Olamide Zaccheus (4-103, TD), Hayden Hurst (7-62), and Julio Jones (5-54, TD) while Calvin Ridley was inactive. Todd Gurley ran for 53 yards and a score on 19 runs. The Falcons dominated the Broncos through the first three quarters but the Broncos made it look much closer than it really was. The 3-5 Broncos play in Las Vegas this week while the 3-6 Falcons head onto their bye.
SEA 34, BUF 44
What a great game. And kudos to the Seahawks for not upgrading their secondary and making every week into a shootout. Russell Wilson threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns but with two uncharacteristic interceptions. DK Metcalf (7-108, TD) continues his elite level of play. David Moore (4-71, TD) and Jacob Hollister (5-60) were the top receivers while Tyler Lockett was held to only 40 yards on four catches. Chris Carson was inactive, so DeeJay Dallas (7-31, TD) and Travis Homer (6-16) handled the rushing role but the Seahawks trailed 0-17 and never had the lead so they did not run as much.
Josh Allen rekindled his early-season form facing the non-defense of the Seahawks and he ended with 415 passing yards and three touchdowns. Stefon Digs (9-118), John Brown (8-99) and Greg Davis (4-70, TD) were the main beneficiaries. There was no rushing effort other than Zack Moss (9-18, TD) ran in a score as did Josh Allen (7-14, TD). Devin Singletary was held to only one yard on two runs and caught three passes for 33 yards. The win sends the 7-2 Bills to Arizona this weekend and the 6-2 Seahawks travels to play the Rams.
BAL 24, IND 10
The Colts led 10-7 at halftime but never scored again. Lamar Jackson only passed for 170 yards and no receiver had more than 45 yards. The lack of passing success is no surprise here, but it still points at the problem that the Ravens have whenever they fall behind in games. Jackson ran for 58 yards and one score while Gus Edwards (11-23, TD) and J.K. Dobbins (12-30) were marginally effective when they tried to run. The Ravens defense was good enough to secure this win and even scored on a 65-yard fumble return.
The Colts offensive problems were back against a great defense like the Ravens. Philip Rivers passed for 227 yards and one interception. No receiver was better than Michael Pittman (4-56). Jonathan Taylor (6-27, TD) took the rushing score and Jordan Wilkins (11-39) had a heavier workload with marginal results. The Colts playoff hopes will be dim if they cannot generate offense when facing an upper-tier defense. The 6-2 Ravens head to New England this week while the 5-3 Colts face a critical divisional matchup in Tennessee.
HOU 27, JAC 25
Close game with the Jaguars getting more out of their new starting quarterback than expected. Jake Luton debut produced 304 passing yards and one touchdown plus he ran in a second score in his only rushing attempt in the game. DJ Chark ended with a team-high 146 yards on seven catches that included a 73-yard touchdown. No other receiver gained more than 52 yards or scored but Luton’s first game saw him throw to nine receivers. James Robinson ran for 99 yards and a score on 25 carries. The Jaguars trailed 27-16 in the third quarter but drew to 27-25 on their late touchdown but failed to get the two-point conversion. Still – the rookie was impressive.
Deshaun Watson passed for 281 yards and two scores and added 50 yards as a runner. Will Fuller (5-100, TD) and Brandin Cooks (3-83, TD) were the only receivers with more than 32 yards. David Johnson suffered a concussion and left Duke Johnson to run for 41 yards and a touchdown as a rusher, plus four catches for 32 yards. The 2-6 Texans get their second win on the year and play in Cleveland this week. The 1-7 Jaguars bring their new quarterback to Green Bay on Sunday where it won’t be nearly as easy.
CAR 31 , KC 33
This was a great game. The Panthers welcomed back Christian McCaffrey who jumped right back into the heavy workload before the injury. He rushed for 69 yards and one score, plus caught a team-high ten passes for 82 yards and another score. For fantasy owners, it was the performance that was sorely missing the six previous weeks. Mike Davis still caught five passes for 34 yards but only ran once for three yards. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 310 yards and two scores and also ran in a touchdown. Curtis Samuel (9-105, TD) has really come on strong in recent weeks. Robby Anderson (9-63) was still busy but DJ Moore (2-18) gave up his normal workload to Samuel.
Patrick Mahomes ended with 372 passing yards and four touchdowns. Travis Kelce (10-159) and Tyreek Hill (9-113, 2 TD) did most of the damage while the rushing effort was anemic. Le’Veon Bell gained a total of three net yards while Clyde Edwards-Helaire was held to just 14 yards on five rushes but caught a score on his three receptions for 20 yards. The Panthers led 14-3 to start and then was in this until the final gun.
DET 20, MIN 34
The undercard of the NFC North didn’t crank out the fantasy points much other than Dalvin Cook who, yet again, went nuclear with 22 runs for 206 yards and one touchdown and two catches for 46 more yards. Kirk Cousins passed for 220 yards and three scores that were split between Ameer Abdullah (1-22, TD) and Irv Smith (2-10, 2 TD). Justin Jefferson (3-64) was the only receiver with more than 50 yards. This was another one of those games that Cook took over but at least Cousins still scored three times.
Matt Stafford threw for 211 yards and a score but had two interceptions and left with a concussion. Chase Daniel finished the game with 94 yards and one touchdown. Danny Amendola (7-77), Matt Jones (3-42, TD), and T.J. Hockenson (5-39, TD) were the top receivers but as always, the absence of Kenny Golladay made a difference. D’Andre Swift ran for 64 yards and added 33 more on three receptions. The Lions couldn’t rely on any player for a big game despite facing a weaker defense. The loss sends the 3-5 Lions back home to host Washington and the 3-5 Vikings head to Chicago.
CHI 17, TEN 24
The Bears trailed 24-3 until well into the fourth quarter when they reeled off two touchdowns to make it look like they had been there for the full game. Nick Foles passed for 335 yards and two scores and Allen Robinson ended with 81 yards on seven catches as the top receiver. Anthony Miller (5-59) and Jimmy Graham (6-55, TD) were the next best and most of the passing and both touchdowns happened later in the fourth quarter. David Montgomery only gained 30 yards on 14 rushes but left with a concussion late in the game. The Bears offense struggled badly until the Titans stopped caring later on.
Derrick Henry was held to only 68 yards on 21 carries and was never thrown any targets. Ryan Tannehill threw for just 158 yards and two scores with AJ Brown (4-101, TD) and Jonnu Smith (2-32, TD) providing all but four catches for 25 yards in the game. The Titans returned a fumble for a 63-yard touchdown to help them win the game. The Titans never lost the ball and the Bears lost two fumbles that made a difference. The 5-4 Bears head onto their bye this week while the 6-2 Titans host the Colts in an AFC South showdown.
NYG 23, WAS 20
The Giants may only have two wins, but they swept Washington this year. Daniel Jones only threw for 212 yards and one score to Evan Engram (5-48, TD). Undrafted Austin Mack led the receivers with four catches for 72 yards and only had one career reception coming into the game. He replaced Golden Tate who was suspended this week after a faux pas on Twitter regarding his own team. Wayne Gallman scored on his 14 carries for 68 yards while Alfred Morris ran for 67 yards on nine rushes. The Giants best stat was no turnovers while Washington lost the ball five times.
Kyle Allen got leg whipped and it looked like a Dak-Prescott quality injury compete with a cringe-worthy foot pointing the wrong way. Alex Smith came in and threw for 325 yards and a score but tossed three interceptions that killed any chance of a comeback. Terry McLaurin (7-115, TD) and Cam Sims (3-110) delivered on the day and J.D. McKissic kicked in nine catches for 65 yards as Smith’s preferred option. Antonio Gibson scored on a run but only totaled 55 yards in the game. The 2-7 Giants host the Eagles.
LV 31, LAC 26
The Chargers lost another close one but at least it wasn’t in the final minute. No, wait, it was on the final play since Justin Herbert threw for the winning touchdown that was reversed and then had an incompletion on the final play from the Raiders 4-yard line. Herbert passed for 326 yards and two touchdowns with Keenan Allen (9-103, TD) and Mike Williams (5-81) as the only receivers with more than 50 yards. Justin Jackson was hurt to start the game and Kalen Ballage took over with 15 rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown. He added two catches for 15 yards while Joshua Kelley added 28 rushing yards on nine carries and five receptions for 31 yards. It was yet another solid effort that fell short of what the Chargers defense was giving away.
The Raiders had no big performances. Derek Carr threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns between Nelson Agholor (2-55, TD) and Darren Waller (5-22, TD). Hunter Renfrow led with 60 yards on two catches while Henry Ruggs never caught any of his three targets. Justin Jacobs ran for 65 yards and one score on 14 rushes but only added one catch for three yards. Devontae Booker gained 68 yards on eight rushes including a 23-yard touchdown to start the game. It was a close game as any that involves the Chargers have been. The 5-3 Raiders host the Broncos this week while the 2-6 Chargers head to Miami.
PIT 24, DAL 19
The Steelers dropped by the post offense and mailed in this win. The Cowboys led 19-9 going into the fourth quarter before the Steelers woke up and posted 15 straight points to take the game. James Conner only ran for 22 yards on nine carries. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 306 yards and two scores that mostly happened in the final 15 minutes of playing time. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the team with six catches for 93 yards and a score while Diontae Johnson (6-77) and Chase Claypool (8-69) also pitched in. This is the only undefeated team in the NFL and one of the top defenses. They only looked like it during the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys started Garrett Gilbert who passes for a respectable 243 yards and one score to CeeDee Lamb (4-71, TD). Amari Cooper ended with 67 yards on five catches and the passing game, while mediocre, still exceeded all expectations for starting the fourth quarterback this year. Then again, the Steelers did mail in this game. Ezekiel Elliott’s hamstring healed enough to let him play and he handed 18 carries for 51 yards and added two catches for 18 yards. Tony Pollard pitched in nine runs for 57 yards as well. The 2-7 Cowboys lost but looked better than expected in the process. They go onto their bye while the 8-0 Steelers host the Bengals.
NO 38, TB 3
This is going to set the Buccaneers 2020 season back. We expected fireworks but only the Saints remembered the lighter. This was a shocking domination in all aspects. Drew Brees passed for 222 yards and four touchdowns but 11 different receivers caught a pass and none gained more than the 51 yards on five catches by Michael Thomas. No other receivers topped 40 yards and Emmanuel Sanders (4-38, TD) was the only likely fantasy start that delivered. Alvin Kamara only gained nine yards on five catches and ran for 40 yards on nine carries with one touchdown. The Saints defense shut the Buccaneers down and kept them in great field position.
Tom Brady’s duel with Brees didn’t happen. He only threw for 209 yards and three interceptions. Mike Evans (4-64) and Chris Godwin (3-41) were the top receivers and Antonio Brown’s debut ended with only three receptions for 31 yards. The Buccaneers only ran the ball five times for a net of eight yards. This was a dud of a matchup and a real headscratcher given how well the Buccaneers had played and what was on the line for them. Now the 6-2 Saints host the limping 49ers and the 6-3 Buccaneers have to play in Carolina.
MIA 34, ARI 31
Just a year or so ago, this would be a battle of the cellar-dwellers but both teams have improved dramatically. And obviously with 65 total points in a game that went down to the wire. Tua Tagovailoa was far better in his second start, throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns and running for 35 yards. Devante Parker (6-54) and Preston Williams (4-60, TD) were the top receivers and Mike Gesicki (3-42) was involved as well, unlike last week. With Myles Gaskin gone and Matt Breida out, Jordan Howard (10-19, TD) reprised his low-yardage role from earlier this season and undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed (7-38). Patrick Laird only had two touches.
Kyler Murray passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns but Christian Kirk (5-123, TD) was the only receiver of any note including DeAndre Hopkins (3-30). Murray also ran for 106 yards and a score on 11 rushes while Chase Edmonds only gained 70 yards on 25 carries and caught three passes for 18 yards. The Dolphins got the upset by somehow shrinking the Cardinals down to little more than Kyler Murray running or dinking-and-dunking when he passes. The 5-3 Cardinals host the Bills this week and the 5-3 Dolphins host the Chargers.