Thursday Night Football has been a peculiar beast in recent seasons. While it gives football fans an appetizer before Sunday’s feast, the games tend to be a bit underwhelming. Just ask the Bengals and Texans. A matchup of presumed NFC West bottom-feeders was certainly not expected to provide fireworks as Week 3 got underway, but Jared Goff and Brian Hoyer lit up the fall sky with an eruption of points and fantasy goodness as the Rams held off the 49ers 41-39.
If I were a gambling man (wink), I would share with you that the folks in Las Vegas did not have particularly high hopes for this game. In fact, bettors shared this perspective with the fine folks in Nevada. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, 88% of money bet at 108 William Hill Sportsbooks in Nevada was placed on the “under” of 40.5 points in the matchup between the Rams and 49ers. Whoops. Those tickets were on their way to the dumpster at halftime in this tilt, as the teams totaled 37 points through two quarters in the surprising shootout. In fact, the Goff/Hoyer battle royale was the highest scoring Thursday night game in the history of the NFL Network’s broadcast, dating back to 2006. Now that we have a bit of context as to the absurdity of this scoreboard explosion, let’s take a glimpse at who filled fantasy box scores on Thursday night.
Todd Gurley was the headliner in Los Angeles’ second win of the season, as he pumped out a hat trick in the touchdown department. Once through the air and twice on the ground, Gurley was able to find the painted area of the field with ease and saw heaps of work inside the 49ers’ five yard line. Gurley stacked up 149 yards on 33 touches in his second consecutive multi-touchdown effort and is quickly building a serious bounce back season. Los Angeles is feeding Gurley heavily on the ground (21.0 carries per game), through the air (4.3 catches per game), and in the red zone (six touchdowns on the season) with absolutely zero players capable of sharing the rushing workload in this backfield. Malcolm Brown (hamstring) was Gurley’s backup through two weeks but was inactive on Thursday, leading to Gurley playing a staggering 61 of 61 running back snaps. Whew.
Carlos Hyde did his best to keep pace with Gurley, racking up 94 total yards and finding the end zone twice. The scores were Hyde’s first of the season but the 49ers’ lead back is averaging a cool 104.7 total yards per game through three weeks and has put his dynamic skills on display in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Hyde saw 28 touches on Thursday night and will remain the focal point of the San Francisco offense moving forward. Hyde is a solid back-end RB1 and is providing a huge boost for fantasy footballers who stacked up wide receivers early before acquiring Hyde’s services in the 4th round of drafts.
Three wide receivers topped the 100-yard mark in this game, led by Pierre Garcon’s 142 yards on seven grabs. Garcon was targeted 10 times on the night, his second outing in three weeks with double-digit looks from Hoyer. Garcon will continue to eat well in PPR leagues and will be a reliable weekly option. The Rams produced two huge receiving games on Thursday night, as former Buffalo pals Robert Woods (108 yards, six catches, seven targets) and Sammy Watkins (106 yards, six catches, seven targets) pumped out nearly identical stat lines. Watkins was the money maker on the night however, as he found the endzone twice with two impressive scores. The passing game behind Jared Goff may not always be consistent, but it looks far more promising than a year ago and Watkins is still a beast, hauling in 13 receptions on 14 targets this season.
Rams at 49ers Quick Slants
Brian Hoyer threw his first touchdown passes of the 2017 season and scored a third touchdown on the ground in his most impressive performance of the season. Hoyer showed nice touch on deep passes, connecting on two passes of 50 yards or more. Hoyer may be worth a streaming look in two weeks when San Francisco travels to Indianapolis. … Rams rookie Cooper Kupp saw just two targets, catching both for a whopping 17 yards. Kupp is still roster worthy in most leagues but should monitored moving forward. … Sammy Watkins is now in the NFL concussion protocol following Thursday’s game. Stay tuned to Rotoworld for more information. … No tight end caught more than a single pass on either team but Garrett Celek made his lone grab count, scoring a one-yard touchdown. … Goff completed 22 of 28 passes on the night for 292 yards and three scores. Goff is averaging 272.3 yards per game through three weeks, a mark he failed to top a single time in his rookie season.
In Other News….
DeMarco Murray (hamstring) missed a second-straight practice as he worked inside on a treadmill on Thursday. Murray is hoping to see game action on Sunday when the Titans host the Seahawks to fend off the impending emergence of Derrick Henry. After Murray’s bad hammy tightened up last week, Henry mashed through the Jacksonville defense for 92 yards and a score on 14 impressive carries and looks like the thunderous running back that we saw at Alabama. Murray owners should make alternate plans for Week 3 while Henry owners should hold on tight and wait to unleash this monster.
The Jets don’t own the most intriguing backfield for fantasy purposes and things are about to get even trickier according to OC John Morton. Morton told reporters on Thursday that all three Jets running backs will “play by committee,” which is not great news in our world of imaginary football teams. While Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are both uninspiring options, this situation may be ripe for snaring a potential Week 4 waiver wire target a week early. Rookie Elijah McGuire saw seven touches on 11 snaps in Week 2, while Powell played just 18 snaps and saw six touches. The future snap breakdown in this backfield is anyone’s guess but McGuire is being mixed-in and the Jets have no reason not to see what the youngster can do as their march toward the number one pick in the 2018 NFL Draft continues. Snag McGuire now before the potential Week 4 waiver wire rush.
Injury News and Notes
Jimmy Graham (ankle) missed practice on Thursday and is now a dicey bet to play on Sunday at Tennessee. Graham owners should have a backup option on deck. … Jordan Howard (shoulder) was limited on Thursday and his troublesome shoulder should be monitored as Sunday approaches. … Rob Gronkowski (groin) was limited on Thursday but should be ready to roll in Week 3 against Houston. … Miami stars Jay Ajayi (knee) and DeVante Parker (ankle) both missed practice on Thursday. Check-in on Friday to see if either player sees the practice field ahead of a tasty matchup against the Jets. … Jordan Reed (chest, toe) was limited on Thursday as he continues his annual parade of dings and dents. … Randall Cobb (chest) sat out of Green Bay’s practice and will hopefully see some action on Friday. … Terrance West (thigh) missed Thursday’s practice and a Sunday absence would make Buck Allen a big time fantasy producer once again. … Tyler Eifert (back, knee) is expected to miss Week 3.
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