What We Learned: Week Two
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. Lamar Jackson > Patriots Defense
For the first time all season, the New England Patriots did not hold a lead at any point in the game in week against the Ravens. For as good as the Patriots defense has been, they simply were not equipped to deal with a QB as dynamic as Lamar Jackson.
The criticism of the Pats offense playing sub-par and the defense riding high on an extra-soft schedule seemed like it was just the critics being nit-picky, but in fact, it was those exact issues and weaknesses that were exposed in week nine.
The Pats were dominated for most of the game after the Ravens got off to a 17-0 start, something New England fans aren’t used to seeing from their opponents this year. However, with seven minutes left in the third quarter, it was still close. The Patriots were down by just four points, with more than enough time to come back. But the Ravens showed no mercy closing it out, beating the Pats (37-20) by 17 points, by far the largest deficit they have seen this season.
Prior to week nine, the Patriots had coughed up a total of just four TD's all season. They surrendered four TD's to Baltimore on Sunday.
Jackson and the Ravens power-scheme proved to be too much of a challenge for the juggernaut Pats, regularly disorienting them with triple options, read options, QB scrambles, and a few well-timed perfectly placed passes, which was once thought to be a weakness of Lamar Jackson's game. Historically good or not, Jackson poses a unique challenge to any defense, regardless of their caliber.
Jackson (224 total yard, three total TD's, no turnovers in week nine) is, without a doubt, the most athletically gifted player ever to play the position. And after defeating the Pats in such a convincing manner, he is a front runner for league MVP.
He's now 12-3 in his career as a starter (does that mean Belichick has technically lost to a rookie QB?) He is just the second player ever with two rush TD's and a pass TD versus New England in the Belichick era.
Of course, Jackson didn't do it all himself, Mark Ingram helped out with
130+ total yards, and the Ravens defense suffocated the Pats offense (especially in the fourth quarter) but make no mistake, Jackson controlled this game.
He was labeled as a one-dimensional QB after displaying a run-heavy style in his first eight starts of 2018. Critics wrote Jackson off, saying he didn't have the arm talent to get it done. In week one of 2019, he went out, threw for 300+ yards, five TD's and a perfect passer rating of 158.3... But then it was 'Oh but that was against the Dolphins'... Whether it be the Dolphins defense, a Patriots defense that was on pace to be the best defense of all time, it doesn't matter. Everybody needs to stop what they're doing, and put some respect on this man's name. His true name: MVP.
Lamar Jackson keeps the ball on a read option, scoots in to the end zone for the second rushing TD allowed by the Patriots this season. Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images
2. The Jets nightmare season continues
A 26-18 loss to the 0-8, now 1-8 Miami Dolphins, it doesn't get much worse than that...
Let me just begin by saying, in my unbiased opinion, I firmly believe Adam Gase and Greg Williams should be fired... Immediately. Watching the team play it's obvious to see Gase doesn't have any idea how to manage the game, or his offense. I can't imagine, after this weeks loss, he has many fans left in the locker room either.
If Gase is allowed to stay, it will be catastrophic for this team. He's on his way to ruining Sam Darnold for good. He is committed to limiting one of the most elite athletes in the NFL, Le'Veon Bell, to a blocking role more than anything else. He doesn't know how to use explosive weapons like Demaryius Thomas, Robby Anderson, Ty Montgomery, etc. All three have yet to make a significant impact consistently this season. He seems to be doing a fine job getting Jamison Crowder involved however, and maybe someone should tell him this, but it's going to take more than prioritizing the force feeding of an efficient slot weapon to successfully run an offense.
You have LE'VEON BELL for crying out loud. If he isn't receiving at least 25 touches or more per game, that's your first problem. I'm no NFL coach, but it doesn't take one to clearly see they need to prioritize the run, set up the play action, and open things up for Darnold and his many weapons. Expose your 22-year old QB a little bit less for Christ sake...
I can understand game-flow being an issue, with the Jets trailing in most games, but Gase is making the call to pass on the goal-line when he should be running, and he runs the ball on 3rd and 3 when the defense is in an obvious run-stopping look... That 3rd and 3 is just one example, but it was a zero blitz, and even I diagnosed it before the snap! How much of that is on Gase for making the call, or Darnold not checking out of the current play is anyones guess. But either Gase can't catch a break, or he just sucks as a head coach and a play caller. (13-19 in his final two seasons as head coach of the Dolphins)
And now it's time to roast Greg Williams, shall we? The guy is a disaster. Most recently, he was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. The Jets said, "Woah... The former defensive coordinator of the 0-16 Cleveland Browns is available? The same Greg Williams that was either fired or not brought back to the last six teams he coached for? The guy who had AARON DONALD for three years as the Rams defensive coordinator, yet finished below .500 and no higher than third in their division during his tenure, yet as soon as he was let go, they went 11-5 and won their division? Let's hire him. Let's hire Greg Williams. That’ll do the trick."
From the coaches they've brought on, to the way they’ve played on the field, from the Kelechi Osemele situation, to the Jamaal Adams situation... The way the Jets have been managed this year has been nothing short of criminal. If their owner doesn’t completely clean house and start from scratch by the end of this season, he either doesn't pay attention to professional football, or he's a Patriots fan.
3. Tyler Lockett hates me
So, just for context, I have seven fantasy football teams. And, I can't make this up (trust me I wouldn't just for fun), but I had the pleasure of playing against Tyler Lockett on six of those seven teams this week. Needless to say, I lost most of them... Okay, fine. I lost them all.
If you haven't heard, Lockett went off in week nine against the Bucs. He finished with 13 catches, 153 yards, two TD's, and 40.2 PPR points, a number that I have stared at far too much in the past 24 hours.
I actually played against a guy who hasn't set his lineup since the beginning of the season. He's had Vernon Davis as his tight end for weeks. He played Todd Gurley, who was on a bye this week. He's 0-8. But sure enough, thanks mostly to Tyler Lockett, he beat me this week.
Now, I can sit here and complain that this particular team is my only team that is below .500. I could complain about how I've lost by two points twice. I could complain about how JuJu Smith-Schuster was a waste of a second round pick and that every time he’s scored five points or less for me this season, it ends up making the difference. I could sit here and complain all day long that with this team, I’ve had to play against Aaron Jones when he damn near had 50 (49.2), the Patriots defense putting up 35 in week two, Sammy Watkins when he had a 46.8 explosion, and now Tyler Lockett's 40.2 PPR point clinic (all CAREER-HIGH's by the way). I COULD complain, but that's just not what champions do... But enough about my fantasy team from Hell, how about Lockett?
He is quite literally THE perfect weapon and compliment for Russell Wilson's ultra accurate cannon of an arm. He is Doug Baldwin's hands and route running ability, with the speed and athleticism of John Brown. And most importantly, he’s a legit WR1 in fantasy. His breakout campaign continues along the heels of Russell Wilson's MVP run. From now on, I will have Lockett ranked as a top-six option each week. Hopefully that will persuade him to take it easy on me the next time we face off...
4. Metcalf: Legit WR2
DK Metcalf is living up to his potential in Seattle, especially as of late. He came in to week nine with at least 50 yards or a TD in seven of his eight games this season. Last week, he caught two TD's on just three catches. The one knock about the Ole-Miss product was that he had not caught more than four passes in any game yet. But this week, it all came together.
His 4.3 speed and 6'3 frame was on full display, catching six passes for 123 yards, and one TD. With a QB like Russell Wilson, Metcalf's potential is enormous. If he continues to be as involved as he was in week nine, I see him as a borderline top-15 fantasy WR going forward.
5. Haskins not ready to be a starter
Not once, but twice Adrian Peterson (update: still a beast) single handedly carried the Redskins in to the red zone against Buffalo in week nine. But both of those times, Washington ended up finding themselves in a third and long situation, leaving it to Haskins to make a play through the air. And both times, he just couldn't do it. Despite three trips in to Buffalo territory, the Redskins failed to score a TD in week nine.
To be honest, I don't think Haskins is bad athlete or anything, he just looks like a deer in headlights to me. The game seems to be way too fast for him at this point. And I know he's a rookie. Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, and Gardner Minshew have all had their struggles this season, but none have looked nearly as bad as Haskins has.
It's a small sample size, but the former Ohio State QB is averaging just 35.5 passing yards per quarter this season.
For the Redskins sake (mostly my guy Terry McLaurin) I really hope Keenum can get on, and stay on the field. Because as long as Haskins is playing, it's a fantasy wasteland in Washington. Even the Jets would have a chance beat them. And that's saying something.
6. Steelers defense is elite
The Steelers have now recorded more than 13 fantasy points in every game since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was responsible for a 99-yard pick six on Brian Hoyer in week nine.
Disclaimer: I know I had them as the sit of the week, but if I knew TY Hilton and Jacoby Brissett would be out, they probably would have been the start of the week.
In the last four weeks, the Steelers have averaged 3.25 turnovers and 3.75 sacks per game. TJ Watt, Cameron Heyward, Devin Bush and Fitzpatrick have proved to be a very imposing, turnover causing collection of players.
From now on, regardless of matchup, the Steelers are worthy of top-seven fantasy defense consideration each week. And yes, that includes next week against the Rams, who the 49ers held to just over 100 total yards in week six.
7. Devin Singletary is legit
It's a small sample size, but Singletary is averaging 7.1 yards per touch (6.7 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per reception) on 52 total touches this season.
Over the past two weeks, he has been out-snapping and outplaying Frank Gore, who was stopped three times straight on the one yard line, and once on 4th and 2 in week nine... Brutal.
Singletary is explosive, has great vision and can clearly handle the workload of a feature back (140 total yards and one TD on 23 touches in week nine). It seems like Motor is ready to take over lead back duties in Buffalo, and the timing is great. He will face Cleveland and Miami in his next two games and is currently available in over 35% of ESPN leagues.
Dare I say, he looks the part of a high-end fantasy RB2. I will be ranking him as such until further notice.
8. The Bears defense: no longer a scary matchup
Latavius Murray, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Jordan Howard... What do all these RB's have in common? They have all scored a TD on the Chicago Bears defense in the last three weeks. The Bears pass defense is being shredded as well lately. Michael Thomas and Zach Ertz have beaten them for over 100 yards and a TD in the same span. Keenan Allen would have as well had he not dropped a would be 30-yard TD last week.
Now their defensive struggles mostly have to do with the fact the Bears offense (Mitchell Trubisky: 173.9 YPG, five passing TD's this season) can't keep them off the field. In the first half on Sunday, their offense had nine total yards. Like NFL analyst Andrew Siciliano said, it's not a typo, it's not a slam, it's just a fact.
This defense is exhausted from carrying the team these past two years, and it's starting to show. Fantasy fans rejoice, you no longer need to be worried if you see a matchup with the Bears on the schedule!
9. Ryan Tannehill: Fantasy starter
Since taking over the starting gig for Tennessee, Tannehill has at least 18 fantasy points three weeks in a row. He now has either 300 yards passing or three TD's in every game he's started this season.
Like I said two weeks ago, he's playing with perhaps the best offense he has ever been on. Tannehill is benefiting from the luxury of having Derrick Henry draw the defense down, and between AJ Brown, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries, etc. he has plenty of talented mouths to feed. Even Dion Lewis got involved this week (five catches, 33 yards).
In week nine, Tannehill spread the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers.
When Delanie Walker eventually returns, things should only improve for the Titans offense. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Tannehill is a top-15 fantasy QB for the rest of the season. Don't like it? Sue me.
10. Emmanuel Sanders has elite flex potential in SanFran
Since joining the 49ers, Emmanuel Sanders has a TD in two straight games. In week eight, Jimmy G had his best game of the season (317 yards 4 TD's), and it was Sanders who led the way with seven catches for 117 yards and one TD. It's possible Garoppolo, who had throw for less than 200 yards four times in his eight games this season, was simply missing someone to fill the WR1 role. It's also possible he went off simply because they played a very soft Cardinals defense. Either way, neither Sanders or Garoppolo is looking back.
Next up for the Niners is a matchup with an equally soft Seahawks defense that failed to force a turnover on Jameis Winston in week nine.
I'm not saying Sanders should be viewed with WR1 or even WR2 value just yet, but from what I've seen from him in SanFran, he should at the very least be plugged in at flex until he proves otherwise. You won't want to be the one sitting him if he does it again.
1. Patriots, historically good, or a product of the schedule?
For the third time in the past five seasons, the Patriots are undefeated going in to week nine. At this point, it seems routine. Yet, some are calling this 2019 squad the best Patriots team in history. Some would even go as far as to say the 2019 Pats are the best team ever, period.
"This Patriots team is the best football team I've ever watched with my own two eyeballs," said Packers super-fan/football guy, Alex Altermatt.
Unlike New England's undefeated regular-season run in 2007, the Pats are dominating on the defensive side of the ball.
"This Patriots defense is the best in NFL history," wrote ESPN staff-writer, Bill Barnwell in an article posted this morning.
Nobody can take away what New England has done this season. 43 points allowed through eight weeks (5.3 PPG) is the best rate in league history, and on pace to overshadow the '85 Bears and 2000 Ravens. They currently boast a 2:19 TD to INT ratio, and have scored six TD's, which is more than Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and JuJu Smith-Schuster to name a few. Entering week eight, from a QBR standpoint, teams had a better chance spiking the ball on every play (38.4) than actually attempting to pass against the Pats (37.9). The list goes on. But as the accolades continue to pile up, it's fair to ask the question: Are the Patriots really this good, or are they simply a product of their schedule?
Aside from the Bills, the Pats haven't played one team with more than two wins this season, including one of the two teams with zero wins this season. As I'm writing this, the Patriots 2019 opponents from weeks 1-8 have a combined 13 wins. The Bills have five of those wins, and the Pats beat them by just six, the smallest margin of any of their eight victories.
Pro Football Reference (@PFref on Twitter) claims that, by their metrics, New England has faced THE easiest schedule of all 32 NFL teams so far. According to them, in terms of quality, the Patriots average opponent has been roughly as good as the Bengals... who are 0-8.
Sure, the numbers and the eye test would suggest New England's defense has been historically good. But what if we were to give another team with an elite defense the same schedule? Take the Saints for example. Over the past five weeks, they've held their opponents to 244.8 YPG (Pats: 255.0 YPG). New Orleans is an impressive 7-1, facing a schedule of opponents with a combined 32 wins. They have had to deal with QB's such as Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and Jared Goff, while the Patriots of had the pleasure of lining up against Case Keenum, Josh Rosen/Ryan Fitzpatrick, rookie Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold (twice) and most recently, the train-wreck that has been Baker Mayfield this season. There's no way to say definitively that they would boast the same TD:INT ratio, or as many defensive TD's as the Pats, but given the same schedule, it's fair to assume we'd be talking about the Saints in the same light.
It will be interesting to see how the Patriots fare in the second half of their season, when the going gets tough. It will be an opportunity for the Patriots to either be exposed, or silence the critics altogether. In their next five games, they will face a slate of five consecutive playoff contenders. Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Kansas City and next week, for the first time this season, they will face a team that is above .500, the Baltimore Ravens.
Nobody would be surprised to see the Pats leave this game with a few turnovers, but even the most elite of defenses would struggle trying to keep Lamar Jackson from making plays with his legs. Is it possible that in week eight, Nick Chubb (20 carries, 130) exposed a weakness of this New England defense? And if so, can Harbaugh and the run-happy Ravens exploit it? There is perhaps no matchup in week nine, worth keeping an eye on more than this one. Nobody is denying the Pats are contenders, but the major question that could be answered this week is: are they pretenders?
Lawrence Guy was as surprised as anyone when Baker Mayfield’s shovel pass ended up in his hands for an interception.JIM DAVIS/BOSTON GLOBE STAFF
2. Stefon Diggs = Elite
From 'Should I drop him?' to 'Thank god I have him,' real quick. After an abysmal start to the season where Diggs caught just six passes for 101 yards and one TD over the first three games (remember when I said those should be single-game stats for him?), he has since been unleashed. Diggs has recorded seven catches and 140+ yards three weeks in a row, breaking Randy Moss's record for most yards by a Vikings WR in a three game span.
Diggs has now had at least seven catches and more than 100 yards four times in his past five games. That sounds like WR1 production to me. He is benefiting from Kirk Cousins playing out of his mind, who is benefiting from Dalvin Cook playing out of his mind. There may not be an offense more potent than this Minnesota squad, especially with Thielen back in the fold. It is plausible to assume Cousins and both Vikings WR's can sustain this production and both finish as top-ten fantasy receivers. And if Thielen should miss any more time due to the hamstring injury he suffered in week seven, Diggs value would shoot through the roof, even more than it has already.
If you made a trade for him during his slump, kudos to you. If you didn't, good luck getting him now.
3. Mitchell Trubisky should retire
Four trips to the RedZone, EIGHT plays within five yards of the end zone and the Bears still. couldn't. score. And that was just on one drive in the second quarter. Chicago was 0-11 in goal-to-go situations in the first half. They managed to put up just nine points in the first half after settling for several field goals. They ended up losing the game by one point. And, as you might have guessed, I blame Trubisky.
Now it's not his fault his kicker missed the game winning field goal, and it's not his fault that his coach decided it would be a good idea to burn the last 40 seconds off the clock and line up to kick rather than using the time to attempt to actually get in the end zone. EVEN THOUGH conditions were extremely windy in the... ahem... Windy City of Chicago, and Piniero had already missed earlier in the game, even with the luck they've had with their kickers, Matt Nagy thought this would be the safest bet. That should tell you how much confidence he has in his QB.
The loss clearly isn't entirely on Trubisky, but if he could score even one TD, and not turn the ball over twice against a Chargers defense that was torched by Ryan Tannehill the week before, that game doesn't come down to a field goal and the Bears win.
If I have to watch another game where Trubisky drags his team down to his own sub-par level, I might just get on a plane and apply for the position of QB1 in Chicago. And even though my throwing arm is currently in a sling, I'd give myself about a 50/50 shot.
4. Montgomery shows signs of life
If there's one good thing to be said of Chicago's offense in week eight, it's that David Montgomery finally delivered an RB1 performance. Montgomery took his 27 carries for 135 yards (5.0 YPC) and one TD. He also caught four passes (career-high) for 12 yards. All I can say is, it's about time.
Montgomery received an RB1 workload for the first time in his young NFL career, and it paid dividends. Week eight marked his first 20+ point fantasy game, and his highest scoring game of the season (24.7). As long as Trubisky continues to be terrible, they'll have to continue to ride Montgomery. At least, in theory. I still don't trust Nagy to do what makes sense offensively, but even if it isn't by much, Montgomery is clearly the more efficient runner than the highly ineffective Tarik Cohen (2.3 YPC this season).
I hesitate to call him an RB2 going forward, but at the very least he's shown he is worth flex consideration.
5. Cooper Kupp rebounds with career day
After a four week stretch of elite production, Kupp came crashing back down to Earth. He entered week eight with a total of ten catches for 67 yards in his previous two games. He made up for all the ground he lost in week eight with seven catches for 220 yards (career-high) and one TD for a season high 35 PPR points.
Not one of Kupp's catches went for less than 20 yards against a winless Bengals team, that has surprisingly been stingy towards WR's this season (fifth-least fantasy points allowed to WR's prior to week eight). He showed why he's been heralded as a WR1 in fantasy, and has seemingly taken all the attention away from his teammate Robert Woods. Now that Brandin Cooks is set to miss some time with an injury, both of their values should be elevated, which sounds crazy given Kupp's value is already sky-high.
6. Mike Evans: all or nothin
Well, it looks like you either get average production or an absolute eruption from Mike Evans. With Godwin around, it seems like there is no in between.
Evans finished with 11 catches for 198 and two TD's in week eight, his second game with 190+ yards and multiple TD's this season. Aside from his two monster games, Evans has failed to top 100 yards in any game this season. And the only game Godwin has dipped below 50 yards were those two weeks.
I personally can't believe Jameis Winston still has a job (ten turnovers in the last two games) but, say what you will, he's keeping Godwin and Evans in business. But unfortunately, it seems like it can only be one or the other. (At least on a per-game basis)
7. Welcome back Brees
Brees forced his way back to action in week eight against the Arizona Cardinals. At first, I questioned the decision to let him play. Bridgewater was undefeated in his absence (5-0), he'd have an extra week to heal if they kept him out (the Saints have a bye in week nine), and not to mention, this game meant literally nothing for them. But I can't say I wasn't excited for Brees to be back on the field.
He showed up, dropped 300+ yards and three TD's like he never left. And just like that, he's a top-seven fantasy QB. Brees will go into his bye week with a sense of renewal, when he returns, he'll get to face a dream matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. What could be better than that?
The 7-1 Saints were already one of the more formidable teams in the league, but with Brees at the helm, they're a whole different animal.
8. Le'Veon Bell: non-factor
If you drafted him first round I feel bad for you son. But I too drafted Le'Veon to be my RB1. I've rolled my eyes at Matthew Berry for placing him on the pre-season hate list, and every hate list since, but now I'm right there with him.
Bell began the season averaging seven catches per game weeks 1-5, trailing only Austin Ekeler in RB receptions. In his last three games, Bell has just five total catches, including two games with just one catch. He's still an impressive athlete, but the Jets just can't seem to get out of their own way. In their most recent contest, Bell had just 12 touches for 35 total yards and a season-low 6.5 PPR points.
Luckily for Bell, his schedule opens up at the perfect time. In the next five weeks, Bell gets to face the Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins again. It doesn't get much better than that. Now is the perfect time to trade for Bell, or stay strong if you still have him. HOWEVER, if he can't get it done against Miami next week, it's DEFCON-1 for me. I will be smashing the panic button so hard it will get sent to China.
9. Tevin Coleman: RB1
I'll admit it, I was skeptical of this San Francisco backfield. To begin the season, it was a mess. Matt Breida 'The Cheetah' obviously can't be ignored, with multiple 100+ yard games and the two fastest plays from scrimmage this season (22+ MPH). Raheem Mostert had made a case for himself, but ended up literally fumbling it away. Even Jeff Wilson had a two-week stretch where he ran for four TD's. But Tevin Coleman has secured such a commanding lead on the 49ers backfield that I'm not looking back. A lead back in Kyle Shanahan's system, as we know, is a VERY fantasy friendly position. (See Devonta Freeman, 2015)
Coleman finished with 118 total yards and four TD's (37.8 PPR points) on just 13 touches. He entered this game against the Panthers with 20+ touches two weeks in a row. He barely needed half of that to deliver over 30 fantasy points in week eight (three TD's on his first six touches).
From here on out, I'm assuming Coleman gets around 20 touches per game, and I will rank him accordingly. He is a top-ten fantasy RB going forward for me.
10. Rodgers is back
No Davante Adams, no problem. Rodgers got it done again in week eight with another 300 yards and three TD's through the air. This time, it was Aaron Jones that led the way with seven catches for 159 yards and two TD's. In fact, both RB's helped out Rodgers in the passing game, as Jamaal Williams caught a TD for the third game in a row. It was Jones's second game in a row with a TD reception, and it would've been his third in a row if Jones didn't drop a wide open pass in the end zone against the Lions, but that's beside the point. The point is, receivers or not, Rodgers will find a way to get it done.
In week eight, Rodgers beat the Chiefs by delivering multiple passes that only a handful of QB's could make. In case we forgot, this is who Rodgers is. He now has back to back weeks with three or more TD passes, and 25+ points. Things can only improve for him when Davante Adams returns, if he ever does...
1. All hail Aaron Rodgers
On Sunday, Aaron Rodgers reminded everybody that he's still a very, very bad man. And boy, did we need to be reminded.
Prior to the Packers week seven showdown with the Raiders, Rodgers was averaging 265 passing yards and just 1.3 TD passes per game this season. Not very Rodgers-like... For those that drafted Rodgers with the expectation of weekly QB1 numbers, patience was wearing thin. With just one game over 20 fantasy points this season, nobody can blame you for trading or benching Rodgers. But if you stuck with him, your faith was rewarded.
In week seven against the Raiders, Aaron Rodgers completed 25 of his 31 pass attempts for 429 yards, five TD's, a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and rushed for a TD as well. It doesn't get much more impressive than that, especially considering he's been dealing with a banged up receiving core. He didn't even have his top receiving weapon, Davante Adams, available for the game. Yet, he managed to have as many incompletions as he did total TD's, which is insane.
In all of Rodgers's 11 seasons as the starter for Green Bay, he never had a performance as stellar as he did in week seven of 2019. In fact, it was the best single-game performance by any Packers QB ever, which is crazy to think for a franchise that has had QB's like Bart Starr and Brett Favre lead them to SuperBowl victories.
In case we had forgotten what Rodgers was capable of, it is this: a flawless QB1 performance. I know he's been off so far this season, but is anyone really surprised?
I'm not saying he does this every week (I'm also not going to rule out the possibility he doesn't) but I have to assume when he gets Adams back, things will only improve. Expect to see the Aaron Rodgers we know and love (the 300 yards and three TD's per game Aaron Rodgers) for the rest of the season rather than the Aaron Rodgers we've seen from weeks 1-6. Fantasy owners rejoice.
Aaron Rodgers reacts after throwing five touchdown passes and rushing for another in Sunday's Packers victory over the Raiders - MIKE ROEMER – ASSOCIATED PRESS
2. Chase Edmonds is a special player
Despite being listed as the week seven starter on the Cardinals final injury report, David Johnson received just one carry for two yards. Granted it was the first carry of the game for Arizona, so I guess technically he did start. But it was his backup who stole the show. As we saw on Sunday, Chase Edmonds is no ordinary backup.
Of course, that's nothing new. Edmonds had averaged 6.7 yards per carry this season and had scored a TD in two consecutive games prior to his week seven breakout. So, this had been brewing. All it took was a full workload.
Edmonds finished his game against the Giants with 27 carries for 126 yards and three TD's. He had 11 caries for 72 yards and two TD's by the end of the first quarter. He finished the game with three TD's of over 20 yards. In week seven, Edmonds put forth arguably a better game than DJ has all season.
It is crazy to think that Johnson is just two years removed from leading the league with 2,000 total yards and 20 TD's (1,200 yards and 16 TD's on the ground) but now is a legit threat to be traded before the NFL deadline. He's averaging just 49.6 rushing yards per game, 3.9 yards per carry and seems to have been rendered ineffective as a runner. It's easy to blame the line, but you don't see Edmonds making any excuses. The only thing he's making is plays.
Johnson is still one of the league's premier pass-catching backs and truly fits the mold as an RB1, but his struggles on the ground are not worth powering through if Edmonds can get the job done. And clearly, he can get the job done.
Is it possible that DJ becomes the third down back, and Edmonds takes over lead back duties? I'm not qualified to say. But it would certainly make sense given the small sample we've been provided with this year. I'm not so sure I'm ready to call it on DJ just yet, but I've got to assume Edmonds role will increase going forward.
3. Rams Defense significantly improves with Ramsey
In Jalen Ramsey's first game as a Ram, Los Angeles's defense took a huge step forward. In the three weeks prior to week seven, the Rams were allowing an average of 33 points per game. In three and a half quarters against the Matt Ryan led Falcons, they allowed just three.
It was Ramsey's first game matching up against Julio Jones, and the two went back and forth all day. Julio may have finished with close to 100 yards, but ultimately, it was the Rams who got the last laugh. There's not a player in this league that can hope to erase Jones completely. If it weren't for Ramsey, things would have been much worse.
Los Angeles held Matt Ryan under 300 yards for first time this season. He finished with just two fantasy points after scoring 30+ in the two games prior. To be fair, he was hurt in the middle of the fourth quarter, but I can't imagine he would have saved his own fantasy day by very much. Instead, it was backup Matt Schaub who came in to help the Falcons score their only TD of the day. The final score was 37-10.
It may not have been Ramsey making every play, but is it a coincidence in his first game as a member of the team the Rams defense scored two TD's, allowed the fewest points they have in a game this season, and scored over 20 fantasy points for the first time this year? Personally, I don't think so.
4. Darren Waller: worth the money
Earlier this week, the Oakland Raiders payed their converted wide-out of a TE, Darren Waller upwards of $9M per year. Jon Gruden even publicly stated that he believes Waller is the best TE in the NFL. On Sunday, anyone who questioned it was silenced.
Waller finished with seven catches 126 yards, two TD's against a top-seven Packers defense(in terms of defending TE's this season). Anyone who watched the game Sunday could tell you Waller was two yards, and one penalty away from having just under 200 yards and four TD's.
On paper, it was obvious Waller would be good, but nobody could have expected he'd be this good.
Moving forward, I have Waller as a top-three fantasy TE, maybe even top two. Okay, maybe I have him as TE1. What are you gonna do about it?
Given Mahomes injury, Matt Ryans complete lack of regard for Austin Hooper on Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo's inconsistency as a passer and Derek Carr's reputation as a TE whisperer, I will be ranking Darren Waller ahead of Kelce, Kittle, and Hooper for the time being. And nobody can stop me...
Unless Gronk un-retires.
5. The Colts are contenders
The Colts beat the Chiefs? Eh, it was probably a fluke. They beat Deshaun Watson and the Texans to claim the AFC South crown? Well... Now you’ve got my attention.
Brissett finished the game with over 300 yards passing, four TD's and no INT's. Brissett has played well this season, he's been on pace for 35+ TD passes for weeks. But now, I'm starting to believe he's a legitimate franchise QB.
In week seven, it was all on display. From Brissett, I saw poise, awareness, athleticism and most importantly, elite-type accuracy. But he wasn't the only Colt that impressed in week seven.
The impossible-to-predict Eric Ebron had a TE1 showing that included a candidate for catch of the year with his one-handed-TD grab that proved to be the game winner. It's that type of catch and his clear rapport with Brissett that has me re-evaluating where I stand on him as a fantasy TE.
TY Hilton showed out as well. He continued his history of success against the Texans in week seven, finishing with six catches for 74 yards and one TD. He may not have exploded like he normally does (came in to the game averaging 115 yards and one TD per game against Houston), but he certainly established his dominance yet again with multiple gains of 20+ yards.
Last but not least, how about that Indy defense? Two interceptions, three sacks and a safety. (In all honestly one of those sacks was one of the biggest blown calls I've ever seen, but at the end of the day, that's how it went down) 2018 DROY Darius Leonard was flying all over the field, disrupting plays left and right. The combination of him and Justin Houston makes for a fearsome pass rush.
Overall, what I saw from the Colts in week seven was that they are more real than not, and if this keeps up, the Texans could find themselves. playing for a wildcard spot.
6. Kirk continues to exceed expectations
After being dubbed the sit of the week, Captain Kirk showed out with 337 yards, four TD's and no INT's. Over the past three weeks, Cousins has played better than any QB in the NFL. He began the season by averaging 183 pass yards per gamen through the first four weeks. Since then, he has thrown for over 300 yards, multiple TD's and finished with a passer rating of 138 or higher, three games in a row. He's the only QB in NFL history that can say that... You like that?
I like that. I like that a lot. Apparently so does Stefon Diggs who has finished with seven catches and over 140 yards two weeks in a row now, has been north of 100 yards three times in his last four games.
The passing game had taken a backseat to the running game to begin the season but now it is clear, considering Dalvin Cooks 145 yards and two TD's, that the two can co-exist.
Next week, Kirk and the Vikings get to face a brutal Redskins defense that should be their easiest matchup since week one against the Falcons. So, the good times should continue to roll. Plus, don't look now, but it's Cousins first shot at a revenge game against his former team. There should be plenty of fantasy points to go around in that one.
7. Window to buy low on Hopkins has passed
It's about damn time. In week seven, DeAndre Hopkins finished with over 100 yards and a TD for the first time since week one. He should’ve had two TD's but instead Deshaun Watson was whistled down on the most 'obviously not a sack' sack I've ever seen. I digress.
D-Hop, not unlike Aaron Rodgers, reminded us why we stay patient on our studs this Sunday. For the first time in weeks, he delivered WR1 numbers. If you failed to make a trade for him the past five weeks, it only got harder for you in week seven.
I expect this to be the beginning of a streak for Hopkins, a player that has finished with double-digit TD's in three of his past four seasons. The way I see it, he's long over due.
8. Just like we drew it up:
Rhett Ellison was the Giants TE who shredded the Cardinals this week... Not Evan Engram, who finished with one catch. Just like we drew it up.
Marvin Jones scored four TD's against the Vikings and currently has the single-game record for most receiving TD's by a Lions player ever. More than Megatron ever had. Meanwhile, Detroit's number one receiver, Kenny Golladay finished with just one catch. Just like we drew it up.
Matt Schaub threw the Falcons only TD in week seven, while Matt Ryan (after back to back 30-point games) mustered just two fantasy points in three and a half quarters. Just like we drew it up.
Forget Tyler Boyd or Auden Tate, it was ALEX ERICKSON who lead the Bengals in receptions and yards in week seven. Just like we F#@$%ING drew it up, right?
9. Titans offense has life with Tannehill
In week seven, Ryan Tannehill provided the Titans offense with a much needed spark. He personally saw to it that AJ Brown (whose talent I absolutely love) caught more than three passes in a game for the first time this season (six catches, 68 yards). Former first round WR Corey Davis put up respectable WR1 numbers (six catches, 80 yards and a beauty of a TD). It's the kind of production Davis has been capable of all this time, but never had QB play reliable or consistent enough to sustain. Second string TE Jonnu Smith got some shine (three catches, 64 yards) after starter Delanie Walker left early with an injury. The elevated QB play opened things up for Derrick Henry as well (23 touches, 108 total yards, one TD).
Personally, I am a big fan of having Tannehill call the shots. Basically, he has the same skill set as Marcus Mariota. But Tannehill has the benefit of more experience. He has had multiple seasons with 4,000+ yards and 20+ TD's. For reference, Mariota has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season, and has passed for 20+ TD's in a season just once.
Tannehill has gotten it done (more or less) with a few much less talented offenses in Miami than he currently has in Tennessee. He now has the best running back he's ever played with to draw attention away from him and help him sell the play action, at least two big-play receivers, three if you count Tajae Sharpe (I don’t) and two above-average pass catching TE's in Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker. Sounds like a solid opportunity to put up QB1 numbers to me.
Is it crazy to suggest you can trust Tannehill next week against the Buccaneers? Maybe. But I'm doing it.
10. Mitchell Trubisky doesn't deserve his defense
Did I already write about this this season? Without looking, I don't know. But It feels like I say it to anyone who will listen every week. I can't stand Mitchell Trubisky.
The final score of the Bears week seven game would indicate it was close (36-25), but don't be fooled. The Saints blew Chicago out in this one.
Trubisky couldn't lead his offense to more than three points until the final three minutes of the game when the Bears bizarrely got not one, but two onside kicks to go their way. But by then it was too late. Trubisky dragged his team down all day, averaging just 4.6 YPA in the game.
I've been saying it for years, but I simply cannot believe he was drafted over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. I mean, way to blow it Chicago... After reviewing the players that came out of that draft, I can’t even believe he went in the first round to tell you the truth. Maybe I'm a little biased, but besides a little added mobility, I personally don't see the difference between him and Blake Bortles.
Nobody should have to tell you how good the Bears defense is (the best in the league last season, top-five this season). The fact that they are stuck with a QB who can barely put points on the board for them is just unfair. With a franchise QB, the Bears are a legit threat to go undefeated. Or at least, they were.
I read a stat the other day that got me enraged. It was this: the Bears are 6-1 when scoring less than 20 points in the past two seasons... Uhm, I don't know how to tell you this ESPN, but the reason they win those games is because of their defense... The only reason they score less than 20 in those games is because Mitchell Trubisky sucks at football.
I will not sleep, I will not rest until Trubisky is fully put on blast and recognized as the fraud he is. And when he does, I will be first one in line to tell you "I told you so."
1. Winston/Mariota's time is up
Since being selected first and second overall in the 2015 draft, it's been a bumpy road for Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. After a promising first two seasons, there was little doubt that these two would develop in to franchise QB's. After four years, it may be time to call it.
Both QBs have lost more games than they've won (Mariota: 30-33, Winston: 23-37), and both have turned the ball over nearly as many times as they've scored (Mariota: 87-59, WInston: 109-84).
The more I look in to it, the less I think Mariota, who actually has a playoff win under his belt, needs to be shopped as much as Winston, who leads the NFL in turnovers since being drafted. But he's not completely off the hook.
Mariota has two games with a 129+ passer rating this season, but those games came against Atlanta and Cleveland, his two easiest matchups thus far. Over the last two seasons, any time Mariota finds himself matched up with a halfway decent defense he can hardly generate more than 150 yards of total offense to save his life. And I'm not just being mean. In 14 games last season Mariota averaged 180 passing yards per contest. If you remove the two 300-yard games that year, it would be just 156 per game. Does that sound like a franchise QB to you?
Last year, he took 42 sacks (tied for eighth-most), this year he's taken 25... In six games (most in the NFL). He's currently on pace to take 67 sacks in 2019. That would have led the NFL last season. Sure, you can blame the Titans O-line, who have been brutal this season, but if you watch the tape, a lot of the sacks are Mariota's fault and his fault alone. He's simply too non-chalant in the pocket, his sense of pressure is almost non-existent at times. He's holding the ball for too long. I can appreciate never giving up on the play, but at a certain point, you gotta know when to fold 'em. As a rookie/sophomore these things can be somewhat excused as him still developing, but at this stage of his career, it's a problem. It's no wonder he was benched for Ryan Tannehill in week six.
Believe it or not, there was a time where Mariota was my favorite NFL QB, I even have his jersey to prove it. In fact, I have two. I'll never forget when he scored 35 fantasy points against the Jaguars in his rookie season, thanks to a 70-yard rushing TD. I was in awe. Winston on the other hand, I find hard to watch.
Winston was exactly as advertised coming out of FSU. He was labeled as a cannon-arm prototype QB with franchise potential, but the turnovers were a concern. Five years in, and he just can't seem to escape his turnover-prone, head-scratching decision making nature. In week six against the Panthers, Winston set a single-game career-high with six turnovers. He now has 12 interceptions in six games, putting him on pace to throw 32 this season. While he's more likely to put up gaudy numbers than Mariota (4,000+ passing yards in each of his first two seasons), he's also much more likely to cost his team the game with a poor decision. His turnovers, win-loss ratio, and downright ugly play at times speaks for itself.
NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah said it best, Mariota misses too many layups, and Winston takes too many threes. I think it's been enough time for these two teams to know what they have in their first round quarterbacks: busts. It may be too early for them to give up on the season, but it's definitely time for the Bucs and Titans to start looking at other options, because neither Winston or Mariota are the answer..
2. Nothing makes sense in London: part two
Let's see, what didn't make sense this time? Well, for starters last time the Panthers and Bucs met, the Bucs defense bullied Panthers offense... When they actually had their starting QB. This time, not so much.
What else? Christian McCaffery was held under 60 total yards. He came in to this week averaging 172 per game... Sure, he scored two TD's, but after his second quarter receiving touchdown, he was held to -5 yards on his next 12 carriers.
How about another? Coming in to week six, Jameis Winston had four straight games with 100+ passer rating and a 10-2 TD/INT ratio over that span. Sure enough, he makes it to London and has a career-high six turnovers.
To be fair, I was expecting Winston to come crashing down hard sooner or later, and McCaffery was already held to a low yardage total by the same defense earlier in the year, but still, nothing makes sense in London.
3. Terry McLaurin: Fantasy Superstar
I sat Julian Edelman on Thursday night to play Terry McLaurin on Sunday, and I was losing my mind all week after Edelman went off for 20 PPR points. Thoughts racing through my head: Wow, I’m dumb. How can I expect to provide people with fantasy advice if I’m over here sitting my studs? What kind of guru am I?
Come one o'clock Sunday afternoon, McLaurin put my mind at ease. Scary Terry opened this game up with a 25-yard touchdown on his first reception. He scored a 33-yard touchdown on his next catch. He finished the day with a gorgeous 4 catch, 100 yard, two TD stat line.
Forget being unbiased, because theres not a player I get more excited about scoring a TD than Terry McLaurin. Not only has he been excellent in fantasy, but just in case you haven't been reading the Sunday takeaways, he also set a record as the only rookie WR in NFL history to begin his career with five catches, over 50 yards and a touchdown in each of his first three games. I suspect it would have been four in a row if he wasn't held out of his week four game versus the very generous New York Giants with an injury.
His worst game this year was three catches for 51 yards, which is actually pretty impressive considering it was against the Patriots, who are currently in the same conversation as the 2000 Ravens and '85 Bears as one of the best defenses of all time (seriously, look it up). New England didn't give up a passing TD until this week when Daniel Jones delivered a perfect floater to Golden Tate (who is suddenly on the flex radar by the way). Had McLaurin scored on them with Case Keenum as his quarterback, all hell would have broken loose and he'd be drawing Odell Beckham-type comparisons, as far as rookies go.
In week six, McLaurin averaged 25 YPC. Clearly, he's got speed to burn (4.3 40-yard dash), excellent route running skills (like, really excellent), contested catch ability (when he hasn’t completely blown by his defender) and, oh yeah, he went to Ohio state. Who was the last Ohio State wide receiver that was heavily slept on after falling out of the first round? I think his name was Michael Thomas. I wonder how he's doing.
Terry went north of 100 for the second time this season, and now has five TD's in five games. He has no less than 50 yards in any game he's played. He's already played New England and scored a TD against Chicago. What I'm trying to say is, there are no longer any matchups on his schedule that scare me. And yes, I know he’s playing the 49ers next week.
McLaurin's 93.8 fantasy points through the first five games of his career are the most by any receiver since Randy Moss. That's more points than OBJ, who was downright legendary in his rookie season. The former Ohio State product is shaping up to be this seasons waiver-wire steal of the year. I personally have a LOT of stock invested in him, and you know what? I'll go on record and say Terry is my fantasy ride-or-die this year. And my new favorite player. Moving forward, I see no reason for him not to be locked in to your starting lineup.
4. Tyreek Hill/Hunter Henry make spectacular return to action
Tyreek Hill, oh my. After being drafted as many fantasy owners WR1, they had to watch in horror as he went down with an injury in week one. The same can be said of Hunter Henry who was a consensus top-five tight end coming in to this season. Both reminded us why they were so highly regarded in week six, and boy did it feel good.
If you waited for Tyreek, you were rewarded on Sunday. Hill's first catch of the day was a mind-boggling grab over two Texans defenders, that he somehow turned in to a TD. He finished the day with five catches on 10 targets for 80 yards and two TD's. It should go without saying that, as Patrick Mahomes top target, he should be locked in as a top 5-7 fantasy receiver from here on out. After a ridiculous 30 PPR points (eight catches, 100 yards, two TD's) in his return from injury, Henry should slide right in to the same range for tight ends.
Unlike Hill however, I wouldn’t invest too much stock in Henry due to his injury history, but unless you have yourself a Kelce, Kittle, Ertz, Engram, Waller, Hooper or Andrews, I see no reason not to plug Henry in each week. Until you can’t.
5. Odell Beckham not concerned with winning
Maybe this isn't news to some. But to me, it seems like Odell is more worried about making cool plays and putting up numbers for himself than he is with winning games. I saw him as a frustrated superstar being held back in New York. In Cleveland, it's become clear to me he's a pre-madonna who only cares about his personal stats and fame. He strikes me as the type of guy to celebrate a fifteen yard gain when his team is down by 20. He’s never more animated than he is when one of his plays gets called back. Except when he catches a kicking net looking at him the wrong way. Forget the fact that Baker is playing like a dumpster fire, and they're losing games left and right. To Odell Beckham, it's the Odell Beckham show.
Now, this has nothing to do with fantasy, as those numbers he wants are exactly what you're looking for. He had 100 yards this week, which was his second time hitting the mark this season. But I personally don't see him as a top-10 WR , especially given the way the Browns are playing. Not only am I down on him because I don't like him as a person anymore, but so far this season he has just one TD. After the game he had in week six, it might be a good time to sell him with the promise of WR1 value. I wouldn't be so hopeful if I was the one hanging on to him.
6. 49ers defense is scary good
I know they've played extremely well to this point, but holding the Rams to less than 150 total yards? That's something else entirely. Jared Goff finished with just 78 passing yards in week six. The same guy who threw for 500+ just two weeks ago. After that performance, San Fran is allowing the least passing yards per game (150.2), ten less yards than the New England Patriots. They are allowing just three more total yards per game than the Pats this season. Surely, I don't have to tell you how good New England has been. (See 3. Terry McLaurin: Fantasy Superstar, paragraph four)
The Niners are no less than fifth in fewest fantasy points allowed to any position. Sixth if you count kickers. It's a ridiculous turn-around from 2018 when the Niners were a top-10 matchup for every position except TE. For the past two seasons, you would lick your chops when you saw them on the upcoming schedule, but now it's the complete opposite.
Shockingly, the 49ers, depsite being the number two D/ST in fantasy, are available in 58.5 percent of ESPN leagues. I'll uh... Be right back.
7. Jets offense has life with Darnold
How bout them Cowboys? Playing in his first game since contracting mono (typing that made me laugh) Sam Darnold balled out against Dallas with 338 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yard TD to Robby Anderson which was the longest play from scrimmage this season.
Not only did Anderson shine with Darnold back at the reigns, but Jamison Crowder (15.8 PPR points) and Demaryius Thomas (10.2 PPR points) each had encouraging games as well. And just like that, there are several fantasy-relevant names worthy of flex consideration in the Meadowlands.
Le'Veon Bell, on the other hand, had another lackluster showing. It was concering to see him catch just one pass after averaging seven per game prior to this week, but now that Darnold is playing, it should open up things for him as well. My reasoning being that Darnold is enough of a threat as a passer that teams can't sell out to stop the run. The Cowboys learned that the hard way.
Unfortunately for them, Bell and the Jets face off against New England next week. So for Bell owners, things should get worse before they get better. I'm still holding out hope that Bell gets it going by the end of the year, but with each passing week, I'm losing more and more patience. I labeled him as a buy-low last week, but if this keeps up for another two weeks, he should basically be free.
8. Matt Ryan... QB1?
In a league filled with QBs playing as good as Russell Wilson (15 TD's, no INT), Deshaun Watson (leading the league with 17 total TD's), Lamar Jackson (only player to ever throw for 200 yards and rush for 150+ in a single game), and Patrick Mahomes (literally a threat to break a single-game passing record every week), give me Matt Ryan as my fantasy QB1 for the rest of the season.
He's currently the only remaining QB to throw for 300+ yards in every game this year. Right now he's on pace for over 5,000 yards, yet his team is 1-5. Can the man get an MVP vote or something? Thanks to his god awful defense, Ryan has to single handedly fight to keep his team in the game every week. In the third quarter, the Falcons were down 27-10, they had 7% chance of winning at that point, and if not for a Matt Bryant missed extra point, they might have. Instead Ryan fell victim to factors he couldn't hope to control, yet again.
Ryan still has at least eight games left to play indoors this season, and as long as his defense continues to give up points at an alarming rate, he will continue to have to put up 300 passing yards every week. Unsurprisingly, he has 30 fantasy points in back to back weeks. He has no teams on his remaining schedule that should scare you (except week 15 against the 49ers, assuming they haven’t cooled down by then). In a league with some highly-mobile fantasy friendly QBs, I'll take the former MVP pocket-passer as my bet to finish as QB1 at the end of the season.
9. Stefon Diggs out of the dog-house, JuJu takes his place
This past Sunday, Stefon Diggs exploded for seven catches 167 yards and three TD’s, Diggs’s first career three TD catch game. And, of course, it came at a time where everybody had lost all their trust in him. It's safe to say he's returned from the fantasy dog house. But I wouldn't expect those kind of numbers each week. After all, he only gets to play the Eagles once. Still, he seems to have re-established himself as a WR2. Granted, a risky one, but clearly one that offers elite upside.
JuJu on the other hand... It's been rough. Like, really rough. One catch, for seven yards in week six? ONE CATCH?! SEVEN YARDS JUJU?!?! It marks the second time he's been held under 16 yards this season. To be fair, every other game he's had no less than 75 yards, but he also hasn't had more than 84 so far. It's not his fault he lost Big Ben and Mason Rudolph, but jeez man. If this is an inidication of things to come, I'm selling immediately. You never saw DeAndre Hopkins suffer catching passes from the collection of QBs he had to deal with before the Texans found their savior in Deshaun Watson. Which begs the question, is JuJu WR1 material? With a good QB, absolutely. Without one, I'm not so sure. He has a bye next week but then he gets a dream matchup with the Miami Dolphins, and if he flops in that game... Well, its good riddance for me.
10. The Steelers defense is legit
Double-digit fantasy points in three straight weeks? You don't say. Two or more turnovers in every game since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick? Shut the front door. They shut the Chargers out in the first half on Sunday Night? Eh, I guess thats not so surprising.
Still, with names like Minkah Fitzpatrick, TJ Watt, Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward, Devin Bush, and Bud Dupree flying around, there is a lot to get excited about. Who would have thought Pittsburghs defense would be the strength of their team? There's obvious concern that the Steelers QBs won't be able to keep this defense off the field very often, but they're certainly worth a look each week. They're not scaring anyone in terms of yards or points allowed but the propensity for high sack and turnover totals makes them a promising play in fantasy, especially if the matchup is right.
1. Highest scoring week ever?
Week five of the 2019 season could go down in history as the highest scoring week in fantasy football history. In PPR scoring, 52 players scored over 15 points. 28 players scored over 20, and only eight of them were QBs. 10 players and a D/ST scored over 30, five players scored over 40, and one rose above the rest and score over 50.
Will Fuller EXPLODED against the Falcons in week five for a ridiculous 53.7 PPR points. Fuller had 14 catches on 16 targets for 217 yards and three TD's. He could have had five TD's but was tackled on the one-yard line twice. Had he scored those two TD's, he would have had the record for THE most PPR points in a single game in NFL history. Jerry Rice holds the record with 65.5 points thanks to13 catches for 225 yards and five TD's, also against the Falcons. It is often referred to as the greatest receiving performance of all time. That’s pretty good company to be in.
But it wasn't just Fuller putting up otherworldly numbers. Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffery (who has the most scrimmage yards through the first five games of a season since Jim Brown), Michael Thomas and Aaron Jones all went over 40 PPR points in week five as well. DJ Chark, Chris Godwin (who is on pace for 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns by the way), Adam Thielen, Matt Ryan, Amari Cooper and the Eagles D/ST all went north of 30 points. Josh Jacobs (29.3), Russell Wilson (29.9), Allen Robinson (28.7) and Tyler Boyd (28.3) were all less than two points away from cracking the mark as well.
It's safe to say fantasy points were insanely abundant this week. To put it in to perspective, in a DraftKings double up, where all you have to do is finish in the top 50% to double your money, my lineup (in the early window of games only) scored 190 points this week... and I didn’t win. That means in a lobby of 6,000 people, at least 3,000 of them scored more than 190 points with a lineup of nine players (over 21 points per player).
As far as I can tell, this was a record setting week in terms of points scored. I tried to look it up but I refuse to scroll past the first page of Google. Right now, we’re being spoiled with potentially the most entertaining season in NFL history... Unless you’re a Jets fan *puts self in time-out*. We just need to make sure we don’t take this frenzy for granted.
Aaron Jones waves to the Cowboys' Byron Jones en route to scoring a touchdown. (Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)
2. Mike Evans: Erased
Zero catches. Zero yards. Zero idea what just happened. In a week with such an astronomical amount of fantasy points scored, Evans must not have gotten the memo. He played a second-fiddle to Chris Godwin's production for the second week in a row, and for the fourth time this season. It begs the question, is Evans still a WR1?
I want to think so, and I’m still holding out hope. I trust his talent and history of production of course, but I’m not so sure I trust his role anymore. It may be time to downgrade him to more of an elite-upside WR2.
3. Lamar Jackson continues to struggle as a passer
In week five, Jackson had a season-low 161 pass yards, while adding 70 rush yards, just one TD, and three interceptions for a season-worst 11.4 fantasy points. Week five was the first time this season Jackson scored under 20 fantasy points. He has five picks, two fumbles and has taken nine sacks over the last two games.
While his recent play would indicate Jackson is on the decline, it's worth noting he just tied his backup (RG3) as the youngest QB to reach 1,000 career rushing yards in NFL history. His rushing production provides him with possibly the highest fantasy floor of all the QB's in the league. He's in the prime of his career. Regardless of how he's looked these past two weeks, and I still view him as a top-five play/a must-start.
4. Who has a worse defense, Miami or Atlanta?
After giving up 53 points to the Texans in week five, I'm not convinced that Atlanta's defense isn't one of the worst in the NFL. But are they as bad as Miami? Let's compare.
Atlanta entered the week second only to Miami in fantasy points allowed to QBs this season. After their disastrous week five performance while the Dolphins were on bye, they’ve no doubt taken the lead. The Falcons D/ST had -10 fantasy points in week five, the worst performance since the Dolphins put up -11 in week one. Atlanta allowed five passing TD's, a perfect passer rating of 158.3, and 30+ fantasy points to Deshaun Watson in week five. Miami allowed five TD's, a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and 30+ fantasy points to Lamar Jackson in week one. Atlanta is currently allowing an average of 29 real-life PPG, Miami is allowing and average of38 real-life PPG.
For now, it looks like Miami has the edge, but it’s embarrassingly close for Atlanta. This can only bode well for the fantasy prospects of the Falcons offense who will, no doubt, have to put forth a lot of points each week if they want to compete.
5. Nothing makes sense in London
I’ve been saying it to the Josh Jacobs doubters all week, it doesn’t matter what a team or their opponent is playing like, all bets are off across the pond.
After allowing no more than 15 points in any game this season, the Oakland Raiders, of all people, dropped 24 points on the Chicago Bears, handing them their second loss of the season. Josh Jacobs went off for 128 yards an d two TD's in what should have been his toughest matchup to date. Derek Carr didn’t take one sack. Khalil Mack only had three tackles, and had minimal impact on this game. Allen Robinson caught two TD's from backup QB Chase Daniel, after having zero from Mitchell Trubisky all season.
I've said it before but I'll say it again. When it comes to football, nothing, I repeat, NOTHING makes sense in London. No trends are safe. The people of London must think the Jaguars are the best team in the NFL after the games they've had there the past couple of years.
6. Cooper Kupp: Legit WR1
Four weeks in a row with 100+ yards, at least one TD in his last three games. He was one yard away from having a TD in four-straight. As I'm writing this he's the number one wide receiver in fantasy. His ADP this year was round five, after his teammates Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, who he is out playing by a mile.
Jared Goff can't get enough of Kupp. He is THE most targeted player in the NFL as of now with 63 total targets, eight more than the second-most targeted player Michael Thomas.
You're probably kicking yourself if you slept on him in this years draft, and probably raising a glass to yourself if you did the opposite. Most people likely forgot he was WR7 in fantasy prior to going down with a knee injury last year. He's a legit candidate to break 100 receptions, 1,000 yards, and double-digit TD's this season. Sounds like WR1 numbers to me. It's possible he is the biggest draft-day steal of 2019.
I doubt anybody is looking to trade him at the moment, but his value is currently sky-high. It's possible you could get multiple underperforming superstars for one Cooper Kupp right now. While I'm not encouraging you to trade him, it's certainly something worth keeping in mind. Especially if you drafted him as your flex.
7. Rookie QBs shine
Gardner Minshew may not have walked away with a win in week five, but the Mustached Magician set a new career-high in passing yards (374) and fantasy points (21.2).
Minshew, along with being the most interesting QB in the NFL, has had one of the safest floors among QB's this season (no less than 16.1 points in all five of his games). Week five marked the first time this season Minshew has scored over 20 fantasy points. I suspect it won't be the last.
Kyler Murray also shined in week five. While he had no TD passes for the second game in a row, he set a career-high for rush yards (93) and fantasy points (25.1). Murray has had his struggles this season, but he now has at least 240 yards in four of his five games, no less than 16.3 points in any game, and has scored a rushing TD in back to back weeks. He's starting to make plays with his legs and fantasy owners love to see that.
Both rookie QB's have proven themselves to be viable starting options in fantasy, and while I wouldn't label them as top-12 options just yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish there.
8. Despite 1-4 start Matt Ryan on pace for 5,000 yards
Although the Falcons have won just one game this season, a game they should have lost by the way (*cough* Nelson Agholor *cough*). Ryan is managing to stay afloat in fantasy. He joins Patrick Mahomes as one of the only two QB's in the league to have thrown for at least 300 yards in every game this season. He's averaging 331 passing yards and 21.5 fantasy PPG.
Some of it may be due to the fact that their defense is horrendous and the Falcons have no choice but to throw in order to keep up. Some of it may have to due with the fact that he's mostly playing indoors this season. Whatever the case, Matt Ryan is on pace to throw for 5,000 yards this season. Although he has just two games with over 20 fantasy points this season, I expect him to end the season as a top-five fantasy QB, especially if Atlanta's defense continues to play as bad as they have.
9. Two Words: Byron. Pringle.
Forget Demarcus Robinson, forget Mecole Hardman, forget Travis Kelce, forget Sammy Watkins, forget all your fantasy football knowledge, forget all logic and forget common sense. Patrick Mahomes doesn't seem to care about any of those things.
Instead of throwing to a player with more than two catches prior to week five, it was the receiver with the same last name as a can of potato chips that Mahomes chose as his favorite target in week five. Pringle led the Chiefs with six catches for 103 yards and one TD against the Colts. To be fair, Watkins went down in the first quarter with an injury, but Robinson and Hardman have no excuse for being out-produced by their depth chart inferior.
After throwing for 10 TD's over the first three weeks, Mahomes now has just one in his last two games. While I wouldn't expect him to be contained forever, just like I wouldn't expect to hear from Pringle ever again once Tyreek Hill returns, it is interesting to see that Patrick Mahomes is, in fact, a human being.
10. Good time to buy low on several studs
There are several big-name fantasy studs that have underwhelmed in recent aweeks, and we all know how thin patience can be in fantasy-land. This week could be your best/last chance all season to buy-low on some fantasy super stars. Without further ado, here are my top buy-low candidates:
Bell has less than 50 rush yards and 16 PPR points in back to back weeks. He has no more than 68 rush yards in any game this year. Still, even though things have been rough for the 0-4 Jets, Bell is one of my favorite buy-low candidates.
He’s averaging right around seven catches per game, has two 20+ fantasy point games under his belt this season, and should get Sam Darnold back very soon. Once Darnold returns, the Jets offensive efficiency should take a big leap forward, opening up the door for more scoring opportunities for Bell. As of now, due to the fact he’s only got one TD this season and he's on one of the worst teams in professional football, chances are whoever owns him is willing to trade him for much less than I believe he’s really worth.
Hopkins is averaging just 59 yards and has no TD’s over the past four weeks. I can’t imagine whoever owns him in your league enjoyed Will Fuller hogging all the points in week five. There's a good chance they are fed up. This week may be your last chance to get Hopkins for cheap.
A goose egg. A GOOSE EGG?!! His production took a backseat to Chris Godwin's for the second week in a row. His week three explosion is slowly starting to look like an outlier. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there is nothing like a goose egg to have fantasy owners cursing your name and wanting nothing to do with you. Especially in a week where fantasy points were so easy to come by. Evans might have to be downgraded from a bonafied WR1 to more of a high end WR2. Still, with a player as talented as him anything less than WR1 value should be considered as buy-low.
Jones now has back to back weeks with 0 TDs and less than 55 yards/10 PPR points. Julio owners will likely be more patient with him than they would be with others, ya know, considering he's Julio Jones. But still, it's worth a shot to see if his recent play has his owner worried.
Zeke has now been held under 65 rush yards three times in five games this season. He has 17 or less PPR points the past three weeks. He's maxed out at exactly 20 PPR points this season. His numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t Zeke numbers. Even though he has four TD's in five games, his value may be at the lowest it’ll be all season. Chances are whoever owns him isn’t impressed with his play as of late. It could be your best shot to acquire Zeke for less than RB1 value.
With each passing week it’ll get harder to buy-low on Hill, but it’ll be nothing like trying to trade for him once he gets back to action. I suggest you attempt to make a move for him before he scorches this first defense he plays. This may be your last week to get Tyreek for less than he’s worth.
After a ridiculous start to the season, where Allen had no less than 8 catches or 98 yards in three straight games, he’s had just a combined 9 catches for 66 yards in the two weeks following. Fantasy owners won’t be as quick to forget his early season production, but his price should be much lower than it was after week three.
Kelce is much less of a buy-low than the other players on this list. He has no less than 70 yards in any game this season, but so far has gone over 15 points just once. What sticks out most is that he only has one TD this season. some may perceive his lack of TD production as a drop in value. It can't hurt to ask the Kelce owner in your league what he'd expect in return to try and gauge his perceived value.
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.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
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 fantasy football 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.