What We Learned: Week 16
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
1. A week of career-highs
Leonard Fournette, Nick Chubb, Chris Godwin, Jared Goff. The one thing they have in common? They all had career games in week four.
Fournette made his presence felt against the Broncos, finishing with a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries, as well as two receptions for 20 yards. The man was running wild. He broke free for an 81-yard rush in the third quarter, the second time in two weeks he’s had a run for 69 yards or more. Fournette has always been involved in the Jags passing game, but this season he seems to be stepping it up in that department. He has 16 catches through four games, which means he's on pace to catch 64 balls this season, which would nearly double his career high of 36 receptions in 2017. Fournette had some of us worried but he showed us he’s, without a doubt, still a franchise back.
Speaking of franchise backs, how about Nick Chubb? Chubb recorded 23 touches on his way to 183 scrimmage yards, and a career-high three rushing TD's and 39.3 PPR points. While the game is impressive, its not even Chubb's career-high in scrimmage yards, and his 88-yard TD run isn't a career high either. In week 10 last season, Chubb finished with 209 total yards on 23 touches, and recorded a 92-yard TD run. While Chubb's 88 yarder may not be a career-high, it was certainly a season high, for any player. The Browns now have the longest pass (89 yards) and the longest run (88 yards) of the 2019 season.
Chris Godwin also enjoyed a career game, his 12 catches for 171 yards and 2 TD's didn't earn him as many fantasy points as Mike Evans monster game last week, but it was more points than Godwin has ever scored in a game before. In fact, his 12 receptions and 171 yards are both career-highs After Evans exploded last week and established himself as Tampa Bay's targets, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns leader, many were quick to assume there would be a changing of the guard... Including me (see Week 4, WR Sit of the Week: Chris Godwin). But we could not have been more wrong. Some weeks may be more Evans than Godwin, and vice versa, but both are legit, both are here to stay, and both should finish well above 1,000 yards when it's all said and done.
Thanks to Godwin and the Bucs, Jared Goff and the Rams were playing catch up all afternoon. Goff ended up throwing for a MASSIVE 517 yards on 68 pass attempts. Both career-highs. Goff tied Tom Brady for the sixth-most passing yards in a single game in NFL history. He finished just 37 yards shy of the record (554). Yet, somehow, Goff finished with just 20 fantasy points. Turning the ball over four times definitely didn't help (3 INT, 1 FUM). It hasn't exactly been pretty for the Rams this season. They came in to the game against the Buccaneers averaging one full touchdown less than they did last season. It was encouraging to see them put up as many yards and points as they did though. Robert Woods and Todd Gurley both benefitted from Goffs big day, finishing with their best statistical and fantasy outputs of the season. I wouldn't expect Goff to throw for 500 every week, but it's certainly plausible to expect them to build on what they were able to accomplish in week four.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin scores past Los Angeles Rams linebacker Troy Reeder and cornerback Aqib Talib during the first of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) [MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ | AP]
2. Fantasy irrelevant TD's left and right.
Foster Moreau, Troymaine Pope, Trevor Davis, Ito Smith, Ricky Seals-Jones, Branden Bolden, Devante Parker, Jack Doyle, Miles Boykin, AJ Brown. DId you recognize any of those names? Maybe a few. Did you start any of them in fantasy? I certainly hope not.
If you were crazy enough to, however, it would have payed off on Sunday as this collection of fantasy undesirables accounted for the first TD's of week four. I can't say for sure, but if I had to guess I bet less than five percent of people played any of those guys this week.
Out of all those names, I’ll go on the record and say I think AJ Brown is the real deal. In week one, Brown had 100 yards on just three catches. He was quiet in weeks two and three, but burst back on to the scene with another three catches for 94 yards and 2 TD's in week four. Obviously volume is a concern, considering Brown has yet to top three receptions in a game so far. But he passes the eye test. He's got size, speed, hands, moves after the catch, etc. The talent is undeniable, and any replay of his week one or week four highlights will jump off the screen. The thing is, he's not exactly in the best position to prosper. If you read the TNF takeaways last week, you know I'm not a huge fan of Mariota, and you know I'm not the biggest believer in his ability to produce consistently. If you missed it, here's a recap:
Each year since 2016 Mariota has seen his yardage and touchdown totals decrease. Last season, he recorded a career-low in pass yards (2,528) and touchdowns (11). In 14 games last year, Mariota only threw 11 touchdowns. In those 14 games, he recorded less than 200 yards passing in eight of them, less than 130 in seven of those!
As long as Brown is on the Titans, and Mariota is his QB, I don't see Brown as anything more than a boom-or-bust flex option. I mean, how long have we been waiting for Corey Davis to be a thing? Temper your expectations is all I'm saying.
3. Shady is the common denominator in the Chiefs backfield
Damien Williams, Darrell Williams, Darwin Thompson... It doesn’t matter who the Chiefs list as their starter, LeSean McCoy is not going away. For the second week in a row, Shady has scored a touchdown, despite being listed as number two on the depth chart. He now has at least 11 touches in every game. Week four marked the third time this season Shady accumulated at least 80 total yards. He's got three TD's and 39.9 PPR points in the past two weeks. Regardless of who the Chiefs list as their number one, Shady is worthy of a flex spot going forward.
4. The Titans/Bills defenses are legit
The Tennessee Titans continue to hold their opponents to surprisingly low point totals. After a week four performance where they held the Atlanta Falcons to just 10 points, the Titans are allowing an average of just 15.5 points to opposing offenses. Only the Cowboys, Bears, and Patriots have held opponents to fewer points than the Titans (62) this season. Even with Matt Ryan throwing for 374 yards, they managed to only let up 10 points. What's more impressive than that, is the fact that they held Julio Jones in check (four catches, 52 yards). Jones's streak of seven straight games with a touchdown catch came to a screeching halt in week four. I view them as a top-five fantasy defense, especially for the next two weeks (vs. Buffalo and Denver).
While we're on the subject of 2019's most impressive defenses, how bout them Bills? In four quarters, the Bills held Tom Brady to 150 yards passing (46 percent completion percentage), zero TD's (no less than two in any game this season prior to this game), and caused his first interception of the season. It was ugly. They held the New England Patriots to just 16 points after they had scored no less than 30 in the previous three games. In fact, the Bills have allowed just one more point to opponents this season than the Titans (63).
Next week these two teams with formidable defenses, and sub-par offenses will square off in what is set to be possibly the most boring game we've seen in recent history. They might actually tie each other 3-3. Either way, I'm starting both of their defenses in week five.
5. Mahomes held without a TD, comes back to earth
Finally, Patrick Mahomes was held without a TD. Mahomes still threw for 300+ yards, helped the Chiefs put 34 points on the board, and led his team to a win in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t always pretty. The Lions frustrated Mahomes like few defenses are capable of. They took away the deep pass, a staple of Mahomes's game. In week four, he was 0-6 on deep passes. Prior to the game against the Lions, he was 12/19 for 469 yard and six TD's on deep passes. They held Mahomes to a passer rating of 81, a significant drop off of his 135.4 average entering this game, and the third-lowest passer rating in a game of his career. The second-worst if you don't count his first NFL start in week 17 of 2017.
Although I love to watch Mahomes ball out, it feels almost comforting to know no player is bigger than the game. Regardless of a down game, I still view him as the undisputed number one QB in fantasy.
6. Odell no catches going into the 4th
Odell Beckham Jr. finished his week four game against the Ravens with just two catches for 20 yards. It was his former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry who stole the show (8 catches, 167 yards). Landry was knocked out the game in the third quarter with an injury, yet Beckham was still rendered ineffective. To be fair, the Browns were ahead for most of the game. Nick Chubb was so effective on the ground that the Browns hardly needed to throw. Still the Browns dropped 40 points, Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards, and Odell only accounted for 20 of them? Not great Cotton.
20 yards is the fewest Beckham has ever had in a game since entering the league in 2014. I wouldn't necessarily call it time to panic just yet. He had no less than six receptions or 56 yards this season prior to his flop against the Ravens. If Landry misses time, he should get even more attention. This performance is likely nothing but a blip on the radar. I still view Beckham as a top-seven fantasy wide receiver.
7. Is there a blueprint to shutdown Watson/Hopkins?
Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were bottled up for the second time this season. The interesting part about it is that their totals in week four were nearly identical to their totals in week two.
In week two, Watson threw for 159 yards and zero TD's, but rushed for a short score (12 fantasy points). In week four, Watson threw for 160 yards and zero TD's, but rushed for a short score. In week two Hopkins finished with five catches for 40 yards, his longest gain was 14 yards. In week four, Hopkins finished with five catches for 41 yards, his longest gain was 14 yards. Despite finishing with one more yard, Hopkins had fewer fantasy points in week four because he somehow managed to throw an interception.
Now, the two defenses that held the Texans to these sub-par totals were not exactly pushover teams. The defenses of the Jaguars and Panthers are no joke. You could chalk it up to bad matchups. But the NFL is a copycat league, if the Watson/Hopkins combo has already been contained twice this season, I’ve got to assume there’s a blueprint in place. Of course, to make the blueprint work you'd probably need a defense as good as, or better than the two opponents that have held them in check so far. I will never sit Hopkins, and I will never tell anyone else to. But I fear Watson may be matchup dependent going forward.
8. Kerryon Johnson delivers a workhorse performance
In week four against the Chiefs, Kerryon Johnson finished with 28 touches for 157 total yards. He lost did lose a fumble in this game on a bizarre play, but I wouldn’t even call that his fault. Fumble or not, it’s great to see Johnson get 20 plus touches two weeks in a row. Clearly the release of CJ Anderson has meant Detroit has all the confidence in the world in him and it shows. Johnson displayed the skill set of a true workhorse back on Sunday.
He runs, he catches the ball out of the backfield (seven catches for 99 yards after four weeks), and he's solid in pass protection. Johnson is playing by far the most snaps and is getting a vast majority of touches amongst Lions RB's. It’s only a matter of time before the touchdowns follow and when they do, you won’t want to be playing against him.
9. Daniel Jones: A work in progress
Daniel Jones shocked the world in week three with his record setting performance, but what followed the next week was less surprising. He showed us all: he’s still a rookie. After scoring four total TD's and throwing no INT in week three, he was humbled with a 225-yard, 1 TD, 2INT performance, he should have a third interception but luckily for him the defender couldn’t hold on.
Although he's still making clutch plays with his legs (33 rush yards per game), we might need to pump the breaks a bit on Danny Dimes for now. I say give him some time to grow. I wouldn’t expect consistent fantasy superstardom from him just yet. He’s going to have weeks like this where his lack of experience becomes apparent. But if the matchup is right why not fire him up? Although, I suppose the matchup was right this week, wasn't it?
10. Will Dissly is a thing
With his 7-57-1 TD game against the Cardinals in week four, Dissly now has four TD's in his last three games. He's also seen his catch totals increase each week (five in week two, six in week three, seven in week four). He has a touchdown, at least five catches and fifty yards receiving three games in a row. The last six tight ends to do this all finished the season as a top-four fantasy tight end. (I stole that little nugget from Matthew Berry). He's caught over 86 percent of his targets this season (that one too).
Clearly the Seahawks have enough confidence in him that they traded away their third-round back up. This offense looks good and Russell Wilson is playing very good football this season (10 total TD's, one fumble). Don't forget, the last time Jimmy Graham played a full season with Wilson he caught 10 TD's and finished as TE5 in fantasy.
Surprisingly enough, there is a solid amount of depth at tight end this year, and if you missed out on guys like Darren Waller or Mark Andrews on the waiver wire, this week may be your last chance to grab Dissly before he becomes an undisputed top-ten fantasy TE. He's rostered in 67.4 percent of ESPN leagues, I suggest you check and see if he's available in yours.
Will Dissly has three games in a row of at least five catches, 50 yards and a TD. (Getty)
1. Daniel Jones: Not the hero Gotham deserves, but the one it needs.
This Sunday, Daniel Jones led the New York Giants to their largest comeback win since 1970, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32-31. Despite losing generational talent Saquon Barkley with an ankle injury early in the game, Jones led his team to their first win of the season. Down 28-10 at half time, Danny Dimes rallied his offense to 22 second-half points. In his NFL debut, Jones had 330 yards passing, two TD’s and two rushing TD’s. He joins Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Mike Vick as one of only six QB’s in NFL history to have had such a game.
Although he was prolific as a passer, he won the game with his legs, which is something we would have never said about Eli Manning in a million years. Jones converted several key third downs by taking off, including two crucial rushing TD’s. With his week three performance, Daniel Jones now has more fantasy points this season than Baker Mayfield, which should tell you how bad the Browns QB is playing.
Thanks to Jones, Sterling Shepard enjoyed a nice return. Shepard finished with seven catches on nine targets for 100 yards and a TD and is suddenly in the WR2 discussion.
Evan Engram also had a big game, catching six of his eight targets for 113 yards and a TD. If there was anyone still questioning whether or not Engram was worth a first round selection, they were silenced on Sunday. His incredible athleticism was on display from start to finish. His first reception of the game might currently be the catch of the year, and his 4.3 speed shined through on a 75-yard catch and run touchdown.
The lone drawback of the evening for the Giants was that they lost Barkley with a high ankle sprain, he'll be out for at least the next four weeks. Former Clemson back Wayne Gallman will serve as the head of the Giants backfield in the mean time, and with all the attention on Jones, he might be better fantasy-wise than you think. I’d rank him as a RB3/Flex until we see the kind of workload he receives and how he handles it.
Barkley could miss up to eight weeks and yet, it feels like everything is going to be okay in the Meadowlands. If they had lost Saquon Barkley last week, things would have seemed much worse. The difference is: this week, Saquon isn’t the only star in New York.
Daniel Jones en route to his first rushing touchdown on Sunday. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
2. Mike Evans EXPLODES against the Giants
This week, fantasy owners let out a collective sigh of relief as Mike Evans confirmed that he is in fact, still Mike Evans. Clearly, Mike Evans was only quiet the first two weeks because he needed to charge up his inner Mike Evans. #MikeEvans
But this is the guy we expected him to be when we drafted him as our WR1 right? In fantasy-land, patience is hard to come by. It’s more of a ‘what have you done for me lately’ kind of environment, and after two weeks of mediocre production, most Evans owners were looking to sell. If you bought-low, here’s to you.
The first two weeks were disappointing, no doubt about it. But a closer look at the numbers shows us that Evans hasn’t had less than 1,000 receiving yards, since he entered the league. Not to mention, he’s one of the more durable players in the league (played at least 15 games in five straight seasons). He’s scored eight or more TD’s in three out of five of those seasons. Last year, he finished with a career-high in receiving yards (1,524) and receptions of 20 or more yards (25).
I know he started slow, and Chris Godwin looks ripe, but did everyone just think Mike Evans would fall clean off the map? ESPN Senior Fantasy Analyst Field Yates tweeted that he was able to acquire him in a straight-up trade for Ted Ginn last week. If that’s not a microcosm of how thin patience is in fantasy football, then I don’t know what is.
Evans put on an absolute clinic against the Giants on Sunday. Eight catches, 190 yards (23.8 YPC), and three TD's. He routinely torched the Giants secondary, and there was literally nothing they could do to stop him. Even with under a minute left to play, up just one point, the Giants couldn’t stop Evans from imposing his will with a 44-yard gain. It’s honestly baffling the Bucs didn’t win that game because of that. Nonetheless, Evans should be locked in as a top-seven fantasy WR going forward.
3. The Broncos backfield is confusing
Phillip Lindsay is the better PPR back, and an excellent player. In week three, he had 25 touches, 130 total yards and 2 rushing TD’s. Lindsay has no less than four catches or 10 PPR points in any game so far this season. But the problem is, Royce Freeman is looming.
Freeman is starting to look like a very solid back, he had 19 touches for 73 total yards in week three. He should’ve also had a TD, but it was called back. Freeman now has at least 54 rushing yards in every game, and he’s starting to make an impact in the receiving game as well, 9 catches 58 yards past two weeks.
Lindsay had his best game of the season this week, which will cause his perceived value to jump, but this backfield will be very hard to predict. The way I see it, most weeks will be more like week 1-2 than they will be like week three. However, if both backs continue to split the touches and receive around 15-20 touches per game each, there's no reason to believe that both can't be fantasy relevant.
It’s getting closer every week, but I still prefer Lindsay. He’s out-snapping and out-touching Freeman. You can count on him more as a receiver as well. Through three weeks Lindsay already has 30 percent as many catches as he did in 15 games last year. Right now, I see Lindsay as a high-floor PPR RB2, while I see Freeman as more of a solid flex play, especially in non-PPR.
4. Lamar Jackson back to earth as passer
Well, it was fun while it lasted. After leading the league in passer rating through two weeks (140+), Lamar Jackson came back to earth in week three.
In the first half, Jackson went 8-19 passing for just 75 yards... He missed/overthrew several passes that could/should have been completed. When it was all said and done, he only completed 51 percent of his passes for 267, no passing TD's and finished with a dismal 54.5 passer rating.
For as bad as he was throwing the ball, he still put up 20+ fantasy points thanks his 48 rushing yards and one rushing TD. While he might not have delivered the type of high-level performance we saw from him in week one or two, he didn’t turn the ball over, and his team only lost by 5 points. Jackson is now 8-2 as a starter. His only two losses? Both to the Chiefs, in Kansas City.
Despite taking a step back as a passer in week three, he’s still a top-two fantasy QB for me.
5. Brissett starts 16-16, puts up franchise QB performance vs Falcons
Brissett began his game strong against the Falcons on Sunday, 16-16 for 173 yards and one TD. He finished it strong as well. In the end, he had 310 yards, two TD's and no turnovers. Perhaps most importantly, he converted on a late third down try to ice the game for the Colts.
Brissett is playing like a veteran (7TD’s, 1 INT), winning games (2-1 so far) and he’s making TY Hilton look like a fantasy WR1. Even though he’s typically viewed as a deep threat, Hilton has yet to eclipse 87 receiving yards in a game this year. Still, he has four TD's in three weeks. He’s never had more than seven receiving TD's in a season, but if he keeps this up he’ll likely shatter that mark this season. Believe it or not, Brissett is on pace to throw 38 touchdowns this year. Hilton has 25 targets so far, which isn’t even top-20 after week two (tied with Travis Kelce and Julian Edelman for 22nd most) but it’s by far the most on the Colts.
It looks like Hilton injured his Quad in week three, but regardless of if he suits up or not, I like Brissett against a bottom-ten Raiders pass defense. I’ve got a feeling the Oakland secondary would have even worse defensive stats if they didn’t play Joe Flacco in week one and Kirk Cousins in week three. The only real quarterback they’ve faced so far is Patrick Mahomes, and they allowed him to have the most productive single quarter by a QB in NFL history.
Brissett get’s the Tim’s Fantasy Tips seal of approval, for this week, and for the foreseeable future.
6. Dalvin Cook = RB1
Dalvin Cook is on fire. He now has at least 20 touches, 100+ rushing yards and a TD three weeks in a row.
The Vikings running game is so potent, that Cook had two short touchdowns stolen from him in week three via Alexander Mattison and Adam Thielen, and he STILL put up over 20 fantasy points!
Right now, Cook is averaging 26 PPR points per game, as well as leading the league in rushing yards and rushing TD's. Well, technically he's tied with 49ers third string back Jeff Wilson for the most rushing TD's (4) but I expect Cook to pull away from him, and leave him in the dust.
As far as I’m concerned Dalvin Cook is the undisputed RB1 in fantasy, especially now that Saquon Barkley could miss anywhere from 4-8 weeks. Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery rank as a close second and third, but until Cook has a game where he touches the ball less than 20 times, has less than 100 yards rushing, doesn’t score a rushing TD AND scores less than 20 fantasy points, he will be placed firmly atop my rankings every week. Rumble young man, rumble.
7. Mahomes needs to be nerfed
Patrick Mahomes is too good at football. Currently, Mahomes has multiple passing TD's in 14 straight games. The record is held by Peyton Manning, with 15 straight. This guy hasn’t even played two full years in the NFL, yet every week he breaks some sort of QB record.
He’s the only other player to throw for 300 and 3 tds in three straight games to begin a season since Tom Brady in 2007, who threw for 5000 yards, 50 TD's and was undefeated during that year.
Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, he just passed Kurt Warner for the most 300-yard passing games through the first 20 games of a players career (13). Mahomes has played in 19 regular season games, which means he's thrown for over 300 yards in 68 percent of his games.
No player has more pass yards (6,578), pass TD's (60) and 3+ TD pass games (13) through the first 20 games of their career than Patrick Mahomes. And, like I said, he’s only played 19 regular season games. He is on pace to throw for 53 touchdowns and 6,373 freakin' yards this season. I mean, what the hell?
He’s got probably THE fastest receiving core in the league, and more than enough arm/awareness/athleticism to get the job done several times over. Mecole Hardman (4.2 speed), Demarcus Robinson (holy crap did you see that catch last week?), and Sammy Watkins (former top-five pick) are all wicked fast and threats to explode any given week. Tyreek Hill will be back in a few weeks. Don’t even get me started on Travis Kelce. Plus, if Shady takes over this backfield, it’s starting to look like a Madden Ultimate Team!
Mahomes is on pace to put up stats that I couldn’t even put up in a season against the computer on All-Madden.
Has anyone tested this guy for PEDs? Does he have an infinity stone in his pocket? Did I put him on the sit list one time or something? No. Not even I am that crazy.
I’m really not sure there’s anyone that can stand in his way, or stop him from breaking every QB record the NFL has to offer. Only one name comes to mind.
8. Time to panic on James Conner/Stefon Diggs?
Did you spend one of your top three draft picks on someone that has delivered nothing but three duds in a row? Yeah, me too.
After three weeks, James Conner (ADP: RB8) has scored just 31.7 PPR points (10.5 per game). Those numbers don't sound horrible, but they are not the RB1 numbers fantasy owners had anticipated. Those aren't even RB2 numbers if you ask me.
After three weeks, Conner has failed to top 17 touches or 65 total yards in a game, and has scored just one touchdown. Most of his lack of usage is due to negative game-flow, but it also has a lot to do with his lack of efficiency (2.8 yards per rush). So far, the most he's gotten you is 13.5 PPR points. It begs the question, is it time to hit the panic button?
I say hold off. There's no point in trading him because his value is at an all-time low. And if you drop him, you'll probably regret it. Either way, you'll never get a solid return on investment.
While he hasn't gotten very many yards, his usage in the passing-game is encouraging. His 11 catches through three games is the ninth-most among running backs. The loss of Big Ben obviously hurts the fantasy prospects of this offense as a whole, but I still think Conner finishes as a top-15 fantasy RB this season.
Next week he gets to face a Bengals defense that is second only to the Dolphins in fantasy points allowed to RB's this season. Cincinatti has allowed opposing back's to rack up 564 total yards and six total TD's this season. If he still can't get it done this week, then we may have a problem.
When it comes Stefon Diggs, on the other hand, I'm in full-on panic mode.
Six catches for 101 yards and one TD. That should be one game for him, not his stats after three full games.
If you've been reading you know how much I love Dalvin Cook. The Vikings run-heavy approach is working wonders, so most times there is no need for them to pass the ball. Kirk Cousins has less than 180 passing yards in two of the three games this year, the Vikings are 2-0 with over 30 real-life points in both of those games. And when they do decide to throw it's mostly to Adam Thielen, who is managing to stay afloat in fantasy, unlike Diggs.
After failing to capitalize on an easy matchup with the Raiders, Diggs has got to go. If you can get any sort of usable WR in a trade for Diggs, I'd pull the trigger before his value dips even lower. Of course, you can choose to let him eat up a bench spot while you play roulette, trying to decide which week he has a big game. But the way I see it, he's a VERY low-floor boom or bust option going forward.
9. Mixon is alive !
He's alive! *Robot Chicken voice*
In week three, Mixon came through with 93 total yards and a receiving TD on 17 touches against a tough Buffalo defense. Just when things were beginning to look grim.
During the first two weeks, Mixon averaged just two yards per touch on 22 total touches. His matchups were ideal, but his usage, efficiency and fantasy output were not. It's nice to know he's willing to show up when I make him the RB sit of the week though. That must have been all the motivation he needed.
Nevertheless, it looks like Mixon has earned his way back into RB2 territory. Next week he gets a Pittsburgh defense that allowed the 49ers backfield to run wild in week three. The Steelers are allowing the most receiving yards, second-most receptions and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing RB's so far this season.
Nice of you to show up Joe, and just in time.
10. Kyle Allen, better than Cam?
Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but Kyle Allen is better than Cam Newton and should take over as the Panthers starting QB. Woah, sorry. That one kind of slipped out. But is it wrong?
In two career starts, he's undefeated, he's accounted for seven total TD's, and turned the ball over just once. On Sunday against the Cardinals, he led the Panthers to their first win of the season, throwing for 261 yards and four TD's.
Fantasy-wise, I absolutely love what he did for this offense. Allen tossed TD's to Greg Olsen (2), Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore. Carolina's run-game benefitted from his high-level play as well (McCaffery: 24 carries, 154 yards, 6.4 YPC & 1 TD).
In week three, Allen posted a higher completion percentage (73.1) than Cam Newton has since week 12 of last season. He also averaged more yards per attempt (10.0) than Cam has since WEEK FIVE OF 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen, we might have a quarterback controversy on our hands.
With the Jags win on Thursday, Gardner Minshew became the first rookie QB in NFL history to average a completion percentage of 73.9 and a passer rating of 110.6 passer rating through the first three game of his career.
From a fantasy perspective, he’s now thrown for at least 200 yards and a TD in every game he’s appeared in, and he's only turned the ball over once. Not only is he playing well beyond his years, he's acting like it too. After the game he spoke with the NFL crew, answering every question with a franchise-QB demeanor. You wouldn't expect someone who looks like the love child of Uncle Rico and White Goodman to act so polished and mature, but you've got to give him credit. He even got grief for saying the Jags are taking it one week at a time, that he just wanted to focus on the Broncos this week, like a veteran.
Minshew-mania is sweeping the nation, causing fans, coaches, and NFL analysts alike to sport the iconic fake mustache in celebration of this surprisingly capable rookie.
With Daniel Jones, Luke Falk, Mason Rudolph, and Josh Rosen all making their first start in week three, things are starting to get ugly around this league. It’s no wonder Minshew feels like a breath of fresh air.
He finished 20-30 for 204 yards and two TD's. He should have had at least 40 more yards and one more touchdown. Minshew delivered several well-placed balls that his receivers failed to make a play on, including a brutal drop by Dede Westbrook in the end-zone.
Minshew currently is 5-6 and has a perfect passer rating (158.3) on passes that travel more than 40 yards in the air this season. Second year receiver DJ Chark is enjoying the benefits. Chark now has a receiving TD and at least 17 PPR points in all three games so far this season.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Jags offense on Thursday. Leonard Fournette looked BAD. At one point in the fourth quarter, he had 11 carries for -8 yards. He FINALLY broke free for a 69-yard run late in the fourth quarter to salvage his fantasy day, but that was pretty close to being disastrous...
If you take away that long run, Fournette averages just 2.6 yards per carry this season. From an efficiency standpoint, he should be carefully monitored going forward, but the most encouraging thing I saw from him was his involvement in the passing game. Fournette had six receptions in this game, a career-high for him. He displayed good hands on Thursday and theres no reason to think he won't carve out a larger role for himself in the passing game. He now has at least 4 receptions in every game so far this season, which certainly provides him with a higher fantasy floor than he normally would have, especially in PPR.
The other RB1 in this game, Derrick Henry, didn't have it any easier. Henry took his 17 carries for 44 yards (2.6 YPC) and caught one pass for two yards. Luckily for fantasy owners, he scored the Titans only touchdown of the game.
If Mariota hadn't played so bad, they might have found themselves in more scoring situations. I know they played "Sacksonville" but the man took nine sacks... NINE! What I find hilarious is that’s not even the most times he’s been sacked in a single game.
Mariota has now been sacked 17 times in three games, the most for a QB since 2002. Some of them were thanks to excellent play by Jacksonville, some of them were thanks to the poor play of the Mariota's O-line which is obviously missing the suspended Taylor Lewan, and some of them were just his own fault. He looked awfully non-chalant in the pocket for a guy who was literally being sacked left and right. Mariota had me questioning wether or not he has adequate pocket-awareness last night... It's his fifth year in the league.
Somehow, he finished with 300+ passing yards but don’t be fooled, he didn’t play very well. He missed several throws he should have made, and took a couple of extra sacks that could have been avoided.
It’s entirely possible we've already seen Mariota reach his peak.
After a promising sophomore season in 2016 where he threw for a career-high 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns, he’s been on the decline. Each year he has seen his yardage and touchdown totals decrease. On the bright side, he had a career-high in rush yards last season (357). Unfortunately, he had a career-low in pass yards (2,528) and touchdowns (11). You read that right, in 14 games last year, Mariota only threw 11 touchdowns. In those 14 games, he had has less than 200 yards passing in eight of them, and less than 130 in seven of them! Those numbers are so gross, I might actually throw up if I have to read them again.
After being selected number two overall in the 2015 NFL draft, he's just 29-31 as a starter. The only player selected above him, Jameis Winston, has been even worse! (22-34)... I think it’s been enough time for us to confidently say: these guys are busts.
Maybe they should take the Jags/Pats lead and go for their QBs in the sixth round from now on.
Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew poses for selfie with former All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas after the game Thurday, Sept. 16. - photo courtesy of 1010xl.com
1. Someone please get Eli off the field
Plain and simple, Eli Manning has got to go. It’s harsh, I know. Believe me, I used to love Eli. I would even go as far as to call him my hero when the Giants took down the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But I can’t watch him play football anymore. It literally hurts my eyes.
He has ranked well below average in passer rating the last three seasons (no higher than 21st among qualified QB’s since 2016) and he’s never been very efficient (no less than ten interceptions in a season since 2004, three seasons with 20+ interceptions) but he’s got two Super Bowl rings, right?
So, there must be something in there worth holding on to… Right?
The Giants must think so, since they’re willing to look past the fact that they haven’t won more than half of their games in five of the past six seasons. Even though he’s visibly capping the Giants offense and limiting Saquon Barkley’s unbelievable potential, the Giants just will. not. let. go.
Saquon is literally averaging more yards per carry (7.8) than Eli is averaging yards per completion (6.2) and most of the time they’re playing against stacked boxes! Yet they throw the ball with Eli 45 times a game, and give it to Barkley less than 20. It’s kind of ridiculous when you hear yourself say it out loud.
How much longer are the Giants going to delay the inevitable, and at what cost? Eli has been ineffective for years, and he’s not going to get any better. The writing is on the wall, Manning is way past his prime. It’s time for him to go.
2. The 49ers backfield is an enigma
With Tevin Coleman injured for the foreseeable future, fantasy owners were excited to see Matt Breida have the backfield to himself. Breida played well against the Bengals, 132 yards on 13 touches (10 yards per touch). Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he was the victim of not one, not two, but three vultured TD’s on Sunday. Backup Jeff Wilson scored two short rushing TDs, while Raheem Mostert scored a 30 yard rushing TD. Mostert also scored a 30 yard receiving TD but it was called back.
So things didn’t shake out the way we expected them to for Breida, but to tell the truth, I’m not convinced Raheem Mostert isn’t the best back they have in San Fran, and Breida is really good. Mostert had the most touches by 49ers RB’s on Sunday (13 carries 83 yards, 3 receptions, 68 yards and one TD). This isn’t the first time we’ve seen him vulture TD’s and it probably won’t be the last.
The point here is, this is one of the deepest committees in the league and it will, no doubt, be impossible to predict each week. With Colemans inevitable return, things will only get worse. If you were counting on a San Francisco RB in fantasy this year, I feel bad for you son.
3. Lamar Jackson = QB1
As far as I’m concerned, in fantasy, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are in a tier of their own. They’re simply playing football at a level we’ve never seen.
In week one, Jackson got it done with his arm (158.3 passer rating). In week two, he was unleashed.
On Sunday against the Cardinals, Lamar Jackson became the only player in NFL history with 250+ passing yards and 120+ rushing yards in a single game.
With his historic performance, Jackson displayed just how high his ceiling is. We’ve seen Cam, we’ve seen Mike Vick, we’ve seen Randall Cunningham. But never before has a player done what Lamar Jackson did in just his ninth NFL start. And he even said he thought he could have had a better game!
I honestly would not be surprised if he broke his own record at some point this season, throwing for 300 and rushing for 150… It’s insane to think that something like that is not far-fetched for any player. But that’s just how good Jackson is.
He’s got weapons around him, he’s making smart decisions, accurate throws and he’s winning games (8-1 as a starter). Most importantly, he’s been a pleasure to watch.
I’ve got a feeling his 64.5 fantasy points through two weeks (32.2 PPG) is just the beginning of something very special.
4. Dak is no fluke
On Sunday against the Redskins, Dak Prescott continued his hot-start to the 2019 season, throwing for 269 yards, three TD’s, and rushing for 69 yards on five carries. Prescott’s 59 fantasy points through two weeks trails only Lamar Jackson (64).
Dak’s ADP was round 11 this year. He is currently QB 2. His upcoming schedule includes games against Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia and the Jets all within the next five weeks. With the Dallas offense firing on all cylinders, Dak is starting to look like one of this years biggest steals. If you were lucky, or smart enough, to nab him late in your draft, then kudos to you.
5. Minshew is a DOG
Held out of the end-zone all day, no timeouts, fourth and ten, 52 seconds on the clock. What do you do? A lesser quarterback might have folded, but Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew refused to quit.
After a rough outing in Houston where he was sacked four times and held to less than 200 passing yards through four quarters, Minshew got an opportunity to show what he was made of.
On their last drive, he came in clutch. Minshew put up 22 yards on the ground, plus 32 yards and a touchdown through the air, including an 18-yard run on fourth and ten. But the most important takeaway is that he marched the Jaguars down the field, and got them in the end-zone on the one drive they needed it most.
Jacksonville ended up losing the game 12-13 after a failing to convert a two-point attempt. The Jaguars struggled to run the ball all game but perplexingly decided to give the ball to Leonard Fournette (15 rushes for 47 yards) instead of putting the game in the hands of their quarterback that just put together a game winning drive. Either way, the loss isn’t on Minshew.
The guy is a competitor and a dog. He has the highest completion percentage for a rookie through his fist two games since 1970, and he has my respect.
7. Either the Packers defense is good, or Kirk sucks
Through two weeks, the Packers defense has allowed only one passing TD and just 19 points. In those same two weeks, Kirk Cousins has thrown for just 328 yards, two TD’s and two interceptions. So, did the Packers defense play good two weeks in a row? Or did Cousins just play bad two weeks in a row?
I say it could be a little bit of both.
The additions of players like Za’Darius Smith and Darnell Savage have certainly brought some life to this Green Bay unit. But on the other hand, they have only been faced with Mitchell Trubisky, and a self-sabotaging Kirk Cousins so far. Still, six sacks, three interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, a block and just 19 points allowed for 22 fantasy points through two weeks is encouraging to see from a defense. This unit should have the opportunity to capitalize/cash-in on some weak matchups this year.
But back to Kirk… Last week, he threw for just 98 yards in a game where the Vikings didn’t need him to throw, this week he turned the ball over three times in a game where they did. I don’t know that I’m ready to throw in the towel on Cousins just yet, but the Vikings might not be as patient. Minnesota paid him a LOT of money to be the guy for them and he’s just 9-8-1 as their starter. He won’t last long if he can’t find a way to overcome the tough defenses of the NFC North.
Minnesota is averaging the least wide receiver targets in the NFL through two weeks (23) yet; Theilen and Diggs are managing to somewhat stay afloat. Their weekly ceilings are obviously limited by the run first approach, these two receivers caught 100 balls each last year, but given this small sample size, it doesn’t look like they’re very likely to duplicate that success this season. I know it’s early, but things are trending in the wrong direction for the Vikings passing attack.
8. Aaron Jones has officially been freed.
Aaron Jones set a new career-high for touches in a game this week with 27 against Minnesota. He racked up 116 yards on 23 carries and caught four passes for 34 yards. He is currently tied for the third-most carries in the league. Ladies and gentlemen, Aaron Jones has been freed.
It’s crazy that it took this long for him to even have 20 carries in a game. If I knew this was the game he’d finally be freed, I would have never put him on the sit list!
Despite suffering a stolen touchdown via Jamaal Williams, Jones still had a solid fantasy day, putting up RB1 numbers thanks to RB1 volume against a Vikings defense that is solid versus the run. The week one game against Chicago where Jones was bottled up could prove to be an outlier. I for one am very excited to see what Aaron Jones can do with the workload we saw from him this week.
He faces a tough Denver run defense in week three, but I’ve got all the confidence in the world rolling Jones out from now on. Thank God for Matt LeFleur.
8. Kyler Murray = NFL QB
The legend of Kyler Murray continues. He became the first rookie to record 300 passing yards in back to back games to begin his career, since Cam Newton.
The rookie has 94 pass attempts through two weeks… I don't know off the top of my head but that's got to be some sort of record.
An important takeaway is that he didn’t turn the ball over against a solid Ravens defense. The ones benefitting the most from Murray’s high-level play are his receivers.
The Cardinals lead the league in wide receiver targets through two weeks and its not even close (73, Falcons second with 59). In week two, Murray was 4-5 for 159 yards on deep passes. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald each had at least five catches and over 100 yards in week two, and have 44 targets between the two of them so far in 2019. The Cardinals are running four-receiver sets at a higher rate than anyone in the NFL currently. Damiere Byrd and KeeSean Johnson are each benefitting as well.
Murray once again helped his team find the end-zone in the fourth, but Lamar Jackson and the Ravens didn’t give them a chance to get the ball back, and eventually won 23-17.
So far, Murray has a tie that felt like a win, and a one-possession loss. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing, it’s only a matter of time before the wins follow.
9. Wentz robbed of back-to-back game winning drives
Wentz and the Eagles got off to an ugly start yet again in week two. They were held to six points in the first half thanks Wentz’s two interceptions on throws that were highly uncharacteristic of him. He definitely missed Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery in this game, who exited early due to injury. But, rest assured, when it came down to it, Wentz was money.
On a go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter, he went 8-8 passing for 72 yards; a rushing first down and a rushing td. One throw he made on a third and long during the drive, was absolutely mind-boggling. Wentz escaped the pocket, had a defender dragging him down to his knees, and a centimeter before he hit the deck, he delivered a strike to Mack Hollins for the most clutch first down of the game.
Unfortunately for him, his defense thought it would be a good idea to give Julio Jones an inch of space and it cost them a 50-yard touchdown. So with two minutes left on the clock, Wentz was called on to do it again.
Let me be very clear about this, the Eagles should have had a touchdown on the first play of this drive and walked away 2-0. Wentz delivered one of the most perfectly placed balls I’ve ever seen thrown, to receiver Nelson Agholor in stride, the only problem was Agholor forgot to catch it.
Soon enough, they found themselves faced with a fourth and 13, in classic fashion, Wentz escaped pressure and heaved a well-placed deep shot to Nelson Agholor, who was able to hang on this time. The Eagles eventually lost on a fourth and seven try. Zach Ertz came within inches, but he shouldn’t have had to.
If Agholor catches the first pass of their last drive, Carson Wentz is a hero and scores four second-half TD’s to get his team another come from behind win. Instead, he is 1-1.
10. Brees and Big Ben go down, Fantasy Football suffers
Fantasy owners watched in horror this week as Drew Brees and Big Ben went down with injuries. Those fantasy owner fears were confirmed on Monday when the teams announced their diagnosis. Drew Brees will miss at least six weeks with a hand injury while the doctors decide whether or not he needs surgery, while Big Ben will have elbow surgery and has already been ruled out for the rest of the 2019 season.
Not only does this affect fantasy owners that had Brees and Ben, but it’s also a devastating blow for their respective offenses as well. JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner had already begun the season on a relatively quiet note, but with Big Ben now out, I’m not so sure things are going to get better for them. JuJu goes from a top-five WR down to a top-10 for me, while Conner moves from a top-ten running back to a top-20.
The Saints, on the other hand, I’m less worried about. I still think Kamara and Michael Thomas possess elite value, even without Brees on the field.
Michael Thomas is the most targeted wide receiver through two weeks (26) and just finished with 89 yards on ten catches in a game where Brees hardly played. I’d also expect Latavius Murray’s role to increase in order to accommodate Brees’s absence. As we know, this approach also helps take pressure off Kamara and allows him to thrive.
However, I definitely would not recommend playing Bridgewater or Mason Rudolph to replace either of the two injured QB’s. You're better off working a trade for someone like Jared Goff or Baker Mayfield.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Seahawks' Branden Jackson in the first quarter Sunday. Roethlisberger sat out the second half with an elbow injury. - Chaz Palla - Tribune Review
Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles are back together in Tampa Bay, and they’re picking up where they left off.
After an ugly week one game against the Niners, most us were ready to chalk up Tampa’s defensive performance as a flash in the pan.
“Eh, let’s see them do it against a real offense,” we said.
“Bet.” replied the Bucs on Thursday Night Football.
If you had Cam Newton or Christian McCaffery playing, I’m sure you’re well aware of what I’m talking about. In four quarters, Newton and the Panthers offense had nine trips inside Tampa territory. They failed to score a single touchdown. The Panthers 14 points came from four Joey Slye field goals (who I will talk about later) and a safety on defense.
Keep in mind, the Arizona Cardinals finished as a top-eight fantasy defense the last two seasons Bowles was a defensive coordinator under Arians. He’s got this Tampa defense flying around in 2019.
To begin the second half against the Panthers, the Buccaneers forced an incompletion on seven straight third-downs.
After he exploded for 200+ all-purpose yards and two TD’s in week one, the Bucs held McCaffery to 51 total yards and zero TD’s on 18 touches (2.8 yards per touch).
Cam completed just 24 of his 50 pass attempts (45 percent). Make no mistake, most of his incompletions were the result of good defense, but a good chunk of them were his own fault.
Newton just hasn’t looked like the fantasy stud we knew him as in the past. His body language looked defeated, he missed open receivers, under-threw a would-be touchdown to Curtis Samuel, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s flat-out not running the ball (-2 yards rushing in 2019). He hasn’t even scored a touchdown yet this season! There have been no big smiles, no over-the-top celebrations, and no rushing stats to speak of. Is this really Cam Newton we’re talking about? The same guy who rushed for 10 TD’s and was the League MVP in 2015? Who is this imposter, and what has he done with Super Cam?
This post was supposed to be about how I thought the Bucs defense had fantasy value... But the more I write, the more I worry about Newton, and I don’t even have him on a fantasy team this year!
If there’s one positive thing to takeaway from Cam playing badly, it’s that it opens up the door for another Panther to emerge as a fantasy stud. That’s right. Joey Slye baby.
The rookie kicker has an absolute missile of a leg. He went 4-4 on Thursday Night Football, including two 50+ yarders that had enough air under them to have been good from 60. He’s played in 6 games so far, including the preseason. He’s hit a 50+ yarder in all but one of those games (long: 59 yards). In his two regular-season games, Slye has already attempted four field goals from 50 or farther and hit three of them. For reference, in 13 NFL seasons, Stephen Gostkowski has hit more than three 50+ yard field goals in a season just three times.
This kids got a boot, and the Panthers clearly trust him enough to let him kick from distance.
Carolina will be able to move the ball better in the future, but until the real Cam Newton shows up to replace the continues-to-be-held-out-of-the-endzone Cam Newton, there’s top-five fantasy potential for Slye.
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye (4) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Is it too early to put Josh Jacobs in RB1 territory? Maybe so, but it’s worth noting he played the role of a feature back on Monday Night Football. Jacobs finished with 24 touches for 114 total yards and two TD’s. He played over 75 percent of Raiders snaps and looked like a good fit for a workhorse role. After a performance that puts him in company with Ladanian Tomlinson as one of the only two rookies to have over 100 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut, Jacobs looks like he’ll be a fantasy owners best friend for years to come. Phillip Lindsay, on the other hand, did not fare so well.
After a top-12 fantasy campaign in his rookie season, many were excited to see how Lindsay would follow it up. After all was said and done in week one, Lindsay finished with 15 touches for just 66 total yards and zero TD’s. I was a big Lindsay fan heading into the season, but I did not like what I saw on Monday Night Football.
Royce Freeman got almost as many carries as Lindsay in this game (10, Lindsay: 11) and was more efficient (56 yards rushing). While Lindsay drew five more targets than Freeman in this contest, and is still the superior PPR option, his stock took a hit this week.
If Freeman continues to be involved and keeps up his efficiency, this Broncos backfield is going to be a full-blown committee, which limits Lindsay and Freeman’s ceiling.
The Saints looked just about how we expected them to. Drew Brees is still one of the leagues deadliest quarterbacks, and one of the last people you want to give the ball to with any amount of time on the clock. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are still numbers machines and fantasy studs. The most interesting Saints player for me, however, is Latavius Murray.
I’ve made sure to scoop Murray up in the later rounds of a number of drafts because, as I suspected, he will fill in the Mark Ingram role. Murray finished the game with eight touches for 47 total yards and one TD. Kamara will still be the first RB to eat in this New Orleans offense, but there will plenty of opportunities for Murray (just like there was for Ingram) going forward. If the past is any indicator, there's no reason not to believe the Saints can support two fantasy relevant RB’s every week. The Saints offense is so potent, I might even go as far as ranking Murray above a few of the leagues starting RB’s.
The Texans offense looked about how we expected them to as well. Hopkins and Watson are still real-life and fantasy studs. Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde just can’t seem to escape their roles no matter where they go. The two RB’s received a relatively even split, and it look’s like we’ve got another comitee approach on our hands. Hyde was more efficient as a rusher (10 carries, 83 yards), but Johnson was more of a factor in the pass game (4 receptions on five targets). This backfield will be hard to predict, the split was so even in week one because both backs appeared to have the hot-hand. I’d personally rather have Johnson, especially in PPR leagues; he’s a solid flex for me. Hyde will undoubtedly have his moments, but I see him as less important to this Houston offense than Johnson will be. Hyde will likely score more goal-line touchdowns, while Johnson will likely catch the ball much more.
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 9: Oakland Raiders’ Josh Jacobs (28) celebrates his 4-yard touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
1. Lamar Jackson: Pocket Passer?
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson opened the 2019 season on a slightly different note than most expected him to. After averaging 17 rushes per game and a completion percentage of 58.2 in his seven games as a starter in 2018, most had him pegged as a one-dimensional rushing quarterback.
In week one, Jackson completed 85 percent of his passes for 324 yards, five touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while leading the Ravens to a franchise-record for points in a game (59).
If this game wasn’t such a blowout, Jackson would have played the fourth quarter and could have had a much bigger fantasy day. Jackson's benching, however, was good for Gus Edwards who paced all Ravens RB’s in touches (17). I wouldn’t buy in to that too much, as most of those touches came in garbage-time. Mark Ingram, who was also benched with the starters, was extremely efficient with his 14 touches (104 yards, two TD’s). He’ll likely receive the bulk of the carries going forward.
Marquis ‘Hollywood’ Brown (4-147-2tds) and tight end Mark Andrews (8-108-1td) were responsible for 70 percent of Jackson’s completions and are suddenly on everyone’s fantasy-radar.
Jackson attempted 20 passes overall, but the strangest thing was that, after averaging 17 carrier per game as a starter in 2018, Jackson only had three carries for six yards in this game… So much for his fantasy value depending on his legs…
Jackson hardly ran the ball and delivered an elite performance as a passer, a complete 180 from what anyone would have guessed. The fantasy implications are enormous.
If Jackson can score you 33.6 fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring) in three quarters with his arm alone, just imagine how many points he can score you when he get’s involved on the ground/plays the whole game. Think Cam Newton, but with a higher ceiling.
2. It’s Dalvin Cook’s year.
Let me just say, going back to the 2017 NFL draft, I endorsed Dalvin Cook as the best RB in the draft, over Fournette. Fournette may have stolen the show his rookie season, but make no mistake, this is Dalvin Cooks year.
The way I see it, the only reason it hasn’t been his year yet is because he hasn’t been healthy. He missed most of his rookie year with a torn ACL, and, while shaking off the rust of that injury, missed five games last year.
Let’s just make this clear; we’re talking about a running back that rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 20 touchdowns as a Seminole, two seasons in a row. Two seasons, 3,000 + rush yards, forty touchdowns.
Don’t even get me started on the efficiency (6.5 yards per carry). If you throw on the tape it’s obvious to see why he was an absolute numbers-machine. With elite speed and vision, Cook is a walking big-play. Smoking defenses was routine for him in college. We started to see it from Cook before he went down with an ACL injury in his rookie season, now it looks like its finally time for him to capitalize on his potential.
Minnesota currently has the fourteenth-most fantasy friendly schedule for running backs in 2019, but I suspect Cook will be matchup-proof before long.
3. Sammy Watkins value skyrockets
With Chiefs WR1 Tyreek Hill set to miss “a few weeks” Sammy Watkins has been launched into the WR1 discussion. Watkins finished week one with nine catches for 198 yards and three TD’s (three TD’s all of 2018) against a tough Jaguars defense.
Playing on his fourth team since being drafted top-four in the 2014 NFL draft, it finally looks like Watkins will have his chance to deliver consistent WR1 production as Mahomes's go-to guy.
On paper, Watkins is the prototypical WR1. Strong hands, excellent route-running ability, great speed (clocked at 21.33 mph on a touchdown grab in week one) and, not to mention, he’s got an MVP quarterback that threw for 5,000 yards and 50 TD’s last season to toss him the rock.
Aside from Hill’s two catches in this game, and Demarcus Robinsons one reception for zero yards, Watkins was the ONLY wide receiver catching the ball for Kansas City.
This one doesn’t require a lengthy explanation. As long as Hill is out, Watkins is a top-10 fantasy receiver.
4. Williams paces chiefs in touches, McCoy more efficient.
Speaking of the Chiefs, how about that backfield situation? If you saw what I saw, you know it’s only a matter of time before Shady assumes lead-back duties.
Damien Williams paced Kansas city RBs in touches in week one with 19, but it was LeSean McCoy who was the more effective of the two. McCoy turned his 11 touches into 93 total yards (8.4 yards per touch) as opposed to Williams who was only able to churn out 65 yards (3.4 yards per touch).
The Chiefs can’t just forget about what Williams has done for them since they lost Kareem Hunt, but if his efficiency continues to be shadowed by McCoy’s it won’t be long before Shady is the one leading Kansas City RBs, not only in yards, but in receptions and red-zone opportunities as well.
5. Derrick Henry is inevitable
Another 75+ yard touchdown. Are you kidding me? I guess not. How many times do we have to see it before we believe our eyes? This one was enough for me.
Derrick Henry is a dog; there is no denying it.
Not only is he an absolute hammer on the goal line, he’s also a threat to zoom by your defense from anywhere on the field (20.93 mph on 75 yard touchdown reception in week one).
Henry turned his 20 touches against Cleveland into 159 total yards and two TD’s. Dion Lewis hardly competed for snaps or touches in this game.
Henry is the undisputed RB1 in Tennessee and I have him as a strong RB2 in fantasy going forward. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll go broke betting against him. I’ve labeled the Heisman-winner as a fluke in the past. I won’t make that mistake again.
6. Wentz making early MVP case
Journalists are supposed to be unbiased. But I can’t be, because I love Carson Wentz. There is one moment during the 2017 season I will never forget. At the time, Wentz was leading the league with 32 touchdown passes and was on his way to a league MVP title. It was a week 14 game against the Los Angeles Rams, Wentz tore his ACL on his opponents side of the field. Instead of heading to the locker room, he stayed in the game, proceeded to drive downfield, threw a touchdown, and then exited.
In a league with some incredibly talented QB’s like Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Dak Prescott showing out in week one, give me Wentz as my early favorite for MVP.
It was Wentz who willed his team to a victory in week one. Let’s be honest, that defense wasn’t doing him any favors. After entering the half down 20-7 against Washington, Wentz rallied his team to 25 unanswered points in the second half. He finished with 313 yards and three TDs, and the Eagles defeated the Redskins 32-27.
But seriously, 27 points allowed to the Redskins practice-squad of a starting offense? You were my start of the week Eagles defense, how could you? To be fair, Case Keenum has already earned my respect, plus Terry McLaurin looks legit and Derrius Guice didn't look himself. But that spectacular Vernon Davis hurdle TD was nothing but the result of poor tackling.
Either way, Wentz looks like he’s returned to that form, and that could be a scary thing for this league. Desean Jackson looks right at home as Wentz’s deep-threat (two 50+ yard TDs in week one, zero people surprised), Alshon Jeffery and his vice-grip hands are locked in to the possession WR/red-zone threat role, combine that with one of the best pass-catching tight ends in football in Zach Ertz and… Do you smell that? It smells like a recipe for fantasy success for Carson Wentz.
7. Todd Gurley is still the lead back... I think.
What many fantasy owners feared with the announcement of Gurley’s dialed-back workload came to fruition on Sunday. While he still produced 101 total yards on 15 touches, Gurley was the victim of two vultured TD’s via second-string RB Malcolm Brown.
The confusing thing about it was that Brown had more carries (11) than Gurley (9) by the time he scored his second TD. But make no mistake, once Carolina came knocking on the door, it was Gurley who got the call. He finished the game with the most snaps and most touches amongst Rams RBs. He looked excellent running the ball and was a decisive factor in Los Angeles’s win.
This approach to keep Gurley fresh is better for the Rams in real life than it will be for fantasy owners. Gurley will likely cede red-zone touches to his backups, but he won't be kept out of the endzone forever. I say be patient fantasy owners, Gurley will eat sooner or later.
8. Who the @#%! Is Gardner Minshew?
No, really, who the @#%! Is Garder Minshew? I actually don’t know. I wrote it down as one of my points while watching the games. Before Sunday, I had never heard of him.
I’m doing some research on him as I write this.
Here what I found: In 2018, Minshew led FBS in pass completions (433), pass attempts (613), passing yards per game (367.6) was second in passing yards (4,477) and finished in the top-five with 38 touchdowns. During the Alamo Bowl, Minshew broke the Pac-12 single season record for most passing yards, a record previously held by Jared Goff. - Wikipedia
Here’s what I saw on Sunday: the guy has some stones.
After Jaguars starting QB and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles went down with what turned out to be a broken collarbone in week one, Minshew stepped up and delivered a respectable performance. Minshew’s 88 percent completion percentage on Sunday was the highest in NFL history for any player with atleast 15 pass attempts in their first game.
Minshew came out firing, going 22 for 25 with 275 yards, two TD’s and an interception in just over three quarters of play.
Although Jacksonville eventually fell to the Chiefs 26-40, it seems to me that Minshew just might breathe some fantasy-life into this Jaguars offense. He managed to get Dede Westbrook into the endzone, a good-sign for fantasy owners, but it was Chris Conley who was his favorite target. Conley finished with six receptions on seven targets for 97 yards and a TD.
DJ Chark also made a case for himself in this game. Chark caught all four of his targets for 141 yards (35 yards per catch), including a 35-yard TD from Foles on the play he was injured. Westbrook was the second-most targeted (24%) of the six players Minshew spread the ball to, but he only finished with five catches for 30 yards.
Westbrook should see better days in the future, especially if Minshew continues to play at a high level. However, it seems like he’s got more competition in the receiver-room than we expected.
9. Kyler Murray comes alive in the 4th, Showcases fantasy potential
After picking up just three first downs in three quarters, there wasn’t much light at the end of the tunnel for Arizona.
At one point in the second quarter the Lions muffed a punt, setting Murray and the Cardinals up ten yards away from the endzone. Still, they could not manage a first down and ended up settling for a field goal.
Entering the fourth quarter trailing the Lions 24-6, things were not looking good for Kyler. He had completed just nine of his 25 pass attempts for 70 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Then, Murray came alive.
He led his team to 18 unanswered points, tossing touchdowns to fantasy studs Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson to send the game into over time. He drove down the field and helped his team score first in overtime, but the game eventually ended in a 27-27 tie.
In 4Q/OT, Murray went 20/29 for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. Murray didn’t win the game for his team, but he didn’t lose it, which is more than some teams around the league can say about their quarterback this week.
The most encouraging thing I saw, from a fantasy perspective, was how when it counted, Murray got the ball to his stars. Fantasy owners love to see that, especially the ones who own David Johnson. He delivered a classic DJ performance with 134 all-purpose yards, six receptions and a touchdown. His day could have been even bigger had he not gotten careless and been forced out of bounds on a sure touchdown run.
Murray showed grit in his first NFL start and he projects to give this Cardinals offense a nice boost in fantasy.
10. Brady and AB, match made in heaven?
Antonio Brown gets signed by the Patriots. You could not imagine a more fantasy friendly sentence if you tried.
We know the kind of player Brady is, an elite quarterback, a quarterback with the ability to throw for over 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a season. He now has a collection of weapons (Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Brown and Demaryius Thomas) that has never been so deep, even without Gronk. Brown, Thomas and Gordon were each voted first-team all-pro in 2013.If you played Edelman, Gordon or Phillip Dorsett on Sunday, you know Brady has it in him to support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers at once.
We know the kind of player Brown is, a player that’s paced his position in fantasy points for half a decade. Since 2013, Brown averages 114 catches, 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns per season.
Put the two together and I shouldn’t even need to tell you how the sky is the limit. AB will have competition for targets like never-before and this could turn out to be a very short-lived tenure, but maybe, just maybe, it could be the greatest fantasy season by a wide receiver we’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully you held on to him.
Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins scores one of his three touchdowns ( Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
After the Raiders voided $30M of Antonio Brown’s money due to issues between him and GM Mike Mayock, Brown demanded his own release from the team. His wish was granted around noon ET Sep. 7, 2019.
But is anyone really surprised? After everything that’s happened, did you really expect to be able to count on Brown?
The man has been making headlines for acting like a clown for months, and the regular season hasn’t even started for the Raiders. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if the team started 1-3?
The point is, Raiders Antonio Brown was never going to get you as many points as Steelers Antonio Brown. Now it’s a fact.
So what is the Fantasy Fallout? Well, obviously you can’t use Brown. The way I see it you’ve got two options. You can: keep Brown, hope another team signs him and let him eat up one of your roster spots for the time being, or you can admit defeat and drop Brown altogether.
Either way now is no time to be feeling sorry for yourself solider! The season is still young! You’re just going to have to work with what you’ve got, play the waiver-wire and facilitate some trades damn it!
The way I see it, you would’ve been looking to trade Brown after a couple weeks anyways.
Derek Carr couldn’t make Amari Cooper work, and he looks reborn in Dallas. What makes you think Carr would be able to make Brown work any better? Oakland lacks any star-power on defense, Carr has no protection. Was Antonio Brown supposed to just fix that?
Personally, I’m done with AB in FantasyLand. Josh Jacobs however, is a different story.
Jacobs has been a popular RB2/FLEX pick over the past month or so, with Brown gone, his touches are due for an uptick.
There’s a chance the attention Brown would have taken away from Jacobs comes back to haunt him, but I could still see him rushing for 1,000 yards and, if anything, getting more red-zone looks. Oakland’s offense is still suspect, but Jacobs seems like he’ll be the bright spot.
Tyrell Williams is now the WR1 for the Raiders. Williams has finished as a 1,000 yard receiver in the past, and I wouldn’t count him out, but I didn’t love him before, and I don’t like him any better as the focus of opposing defenses. If you’ve been reading, you know I’m not high on Carr supporting a fantasy relevant wide receiver. Williams is still a WR4 in my eyes and a low-end flex. If anything, Darren Waller is my pass catcher to keep an eye on for the Raiders. The six-foot-six converted WR runs a 4.46 forty yard dash. They’ve got him as their tight end... I’ll let you calculate the fantasy possibilities of that one on your own.
Just four seasons removed from finishing as WR five in fantasy, Allen Robinson displayed flashes of his former-self on Thursday Night Football. It was almost familiar to see him acrobatically snagging jump balls, making plays on back-shoulder throws, making defenders miss after the catch... Just like the good ol' days.
In the first game of the season, Robinson finished with seven receptions for 102 yards (17.2 points). Mitchell Trubisky attempted 45 passes, he targeted Robinson on 13 of them (28.9%).
Injuries have hindered any consistent fantasy production from Robinson in recent years, but it looks like, at least for the moment, he is healthy and at 100 percent. I’m still not sold on the Bears offense, but Robinson is worth keeping an eye on. If he catches fire, he'll be a problem.
Speaking of players looking like their former selves, how about Jimmy Graham? Aaron Rodgers connected with Graham for the first touchdown of the 2019 NFL season. The play was a 50/50 ball, which was more like a 60/40 ball because of Grahams basketball-player size and Rodgers passing IQ. It was easy money. In fact, Rodgers targeted him on several plays deep downfield in the game. For me it begs the question: why has Graham’s stock reached an all-time low? I mean, the guy’s still over here scoring touchdowns and hurdling defenders.
Its true Graham struggled last season (TE11) and theres no excuse, he played a full 16 games. But people are quick to forget that 2018 was just the second time in the past nine seasons Graham failed to finish as a top-seven fantasy tight end (top-five in six of last eight seasons).
Rodgers targeted Graham on 20 percent of his passes in week 1. He finished with just three catches for 30 yards... But he scored.
It's a small sample size, but if Grahams involvement keeps up, last season could prove to be nothing but a blip on the radar. If the Rodgers-Graham connection can continue to blossom, double-digit touchdown upside isn't the craziest thing to imagine.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (80) hurdles Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) in front of Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) and Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) in the second quarter Thursday, Sept. 5,at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
The Playbook by CommishFFP
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for pro football/fantasy sports and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.