Another week of NFL action is near completion, with just the Vikings-Bears matchup and the debut of rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky left on the slate. Unfortunately, it was another week of major injuries to the league’s top stars, specifically Giants WR Odell Beckham, who suffered a broken ankle that will end his 2017 season. Here’s more on that as part of our weekly recap of the Sunday games.
The Cardinals traveled across the country for a 1:00pm game which stacked the deck against their inconsistent offense even more than normal. Veteran QB Carson Palmer continued to pile up counting stats (291 yards, one touchdown) but his team was out of the game from the start. The Cards continue to use a merry-go-round of pass catchers, making it difficult for fantasy players to choose on a weekly basis. This time, it was WR J.J. Nelson leading the way with 80 yards on four catches, but both RB Andre Ellington (9/65) and WR Larry Fitzgerald (6/51) saw 10 targets from Palmer. The Arizona running game continues to be non-existent and outside of pass-catcher Ellington, no Cardinals RB is worthy of a roster spot in any fantasy format. Ellington has become a weekly RB2, averaging over 10 targets, seven receptions and 82 total yards over the past three games.
The Eagles, led by sophomore QB Carson Wentz, took command with three first-quarter passing touchdowns and never looked back. Wentz ended the game with a career-high four scores, along with 304 passing yards, his third 300-yard game in five outings this season. Wentz is living up to the breakout hype and looks like a QB1 moving forward. As expected, the Cardinals and DB Patrick Peterson held WR Alshon Jeffery in check as he finished with three grabs for 31 yards. Jeffery’s teammates picked up the slack with WR Nelson Agholor (4/93/1), WR Torrey Smith (3/70/1) and TE Zach Ertz (6/61/1) led the way. With RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) out for the game, bruiser LeGarrette Blount controlled the touches, carrying 14 times for 74 yards. Considering the game flow and the early Eagles lead, this is disappointing production for Blount.
A fierce fourth-quarter comeback by the 49ers on the road in Indianapolis forced overtime and it looked like San Fran might get their first win of the season, but in the end QB Jacoby Brissett did enough to earn the Colts their second win of the season. It is a good thing for the Colts that Brissett is seemingly improving each week as a Sunday morning report from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora suggests it would be “highly doubtful” that QB Andrew Luck would play in a game this month. That would mean, at the earliest, a Week Nine return for Luck. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton once again proved he can get it done even without the star QB as he caught seven passes for 177 yards, including a 63-yard bomb. The good news for veteran RB Frank Gore is that he posted a season-high 96 yards from scrimmage and was once again a key part of the passing game, finishing second on the team with 38 yards. The bad news is he continued to lose backfield snaps and touches, this time to rookie RB Marlon Mack, who rank for 91 yards on just nine touches. Mack had one rushing touchdown and lost a second on an official review. I expect Mack to continue to play a larger role in this offense as the season continues.
49ers veteran QB Brian Hoyer threw for 353 yards and a pair of scores in what many viewed as a rare smash spot for the Niners offense. Hoyer and his receivers came through for fantasy players who took a chance on the winless team. While it can be argued he shouldn’t have even been playing following yet another concussion, WR Marquise Goodwin racked up 116 yards on five receptions and WR Pierre Garcon caught eight passes for 94 yards. Both wideouts saw 11 targets from Hoyer. The Niners also got some encouraging production from rookie TE George Kittle, who caught seven passes for 83 yards and a score. The story of the day for San Francisco centers on RB Carlos Hyde, who was iffy for much of the week with a hip injury. When Hyde spent much of the day’s game on the sidelines, the assumption was that his injury had flared up. Following the game though, HC Kyle Shanahan explained that the team simply went with the “hot hand” in the form of RB Matt Breida, who totaled 71 yards on 13 touches, both new career-highs for the rookie. This has the makings of a frustrating situation going forward for Hyde fantasy owners and it will make Breida one of the top waiver wire targets of the next week.
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LA Chargers- 27
NY Giants- 22
The matchup of a pair of surprising winless teams doubled as the faceoff of top five draft picks from 2004, who were famously traded for one another. While the swap worked out well for both players and teams, 2017 has not been kind to either. While the Chargers pulled out their first win of the season, this game was marred by the loss of Giants WR Odell Beckham, who suffered a fractured ankle late in the fourth-quarter. It was the final straw in a devastating day for the Giants. By the time Beckham was carted off the field in tears, the G-Men had already lost WRs Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris. Even rookie TE Evan Engram, who did not record a catch in the game, missed some time with an early injury. Beckham is the obvious story among the chaos. The team has announced Beckham suffered a fractured ankle and all presumptions are this will end his 2017 season. Fantasy owners need to begin looking for alternatives, which won’t be an easy task. Early reports suggest that Shepard’s injury is similar to the one that kept him out of action in the pre-season and that he is considered week-to-week. The winless Giants look like a team headed for a top-five NFL Draft pick in 2018.
Although this was the first win for the Chargers, QB Philip Rivers has been posting big-time counting stats and did so again on Sunday, throwing for 258 yards and three scores. The star for the Chargers was RB Melvin Gordon, who totaled 163 yards and caught two of Rivers’ three scoring passes. Chargers top WR Keenan Allen was disappointing, catching just four of 12 targets for 67 yards and the Giants continued to give it up easily to opposing TEs with Hunter Henry posting a 3/42/1 line.
In a sloppy field in Cincinnati, the Bengals held off the Bills to get a much-needed second win on the season. Although both took shots and were seen limping at points in the game, QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green did enough to earn a Bengals win. Dalton racked up 328 yards and a touchdown, but also threw a pair of interceptions. Green caught seven of his 13 targets for 189 yards and a score, coming on a breakaway 77-yarder. The Bengals’ ground game continues to underperform, though rookie RB Joe Mixon finally scored the Bengals first rushing touchdown of the season, along with 51 rushing yards on 15 carries. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard combined for six carries for 18 yards.
After a Week Four injury to WR Jordan Matthews, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was really just left with TE Charles Clay and RB LeSean McCoy as reliable targets in the passing game and Clay suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game. We are still awaiting word on the severity of the injury, but considering he was quickly ruled out, it could be a multiple-week absence for Taylor’s security blanket. The loss of Clay resulted in McCoy leading the team with nine targets while TE Nick O’Leary was the team’s leading receiver. This remains an offense to avoid, outside of McCoy. While he’ll likely see increased volume in the passing game, McCoy continue to underperform as a runner, averaging just 42 rushing yards over the past four games. You might think I am just copy/pasting this sentence each week, but rookie WR Zay Jones continued to struggle, catching just one of six targets for nine yards. He’s not worthy of a roster spot in season-long leagues and is bleeding dynasty value each week.
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It could certainly be an overreaction to one bad game, but this felt like the beginning of the end for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, and based on his post-game comments, he might agree. Following his five-interception performance, Roethlisberger was quoted saying, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” Whether it’s a comment of a man looking for pity after throwing the game away or representative of how Big Ben actually feels, it is certainly not good. Roethlisberger threw for over 300 yards, but failed to find the end zone, unless you count the two of his passes that were returned for Jacksonville defensive scores. The other key members of the Steelers offense somehow managed some decent fantasy production despite Roethlisberger’s subpar play. RB Le’Veon Bell totaled 93 scoreless yards, but caught all 10 of the passes aimed his way and WR Antonio Brown saw a whopping 19 targets, catching 10 for 157 yards. Rookie WR Juju Smith-Schuster continues to see his role grow as he hauled in four passes for 58 yards and WR Martavis Bryant continues his disappointing play, posting a 5/21 line.
With the Jaguars defensive play, they didn’t need much offense, but they got it once again in the form of rookie RB Leonard Fournette, who rushed 28 times for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It appeared as if the Steelers had done a decent job of bottling up Fournette, limiting him to only 91 yards and a score before he broke a 90-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. QB Blake Bortles didn’t need to do much and that’s what he does best. He threw for just 95 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. With that low volume, WR Marqise Lee led the way with only two receptions for 49 yards. It will be very difficult to use any Jaguar outside of Fournette in fantasy lineups the remainder of the year.
Here’s a surprise…a game pitting QBs Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel against one another resulted in very little offensive production. After suffering a Week Four hamstring injury, there was little hope QB Marcus Mariota would play and now there is even concern it could become a multi-week injury. Without their leader, the Titans managed just 10 points on the day. Cassel threw for only 141 yards and WRs Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews each posted 34 receiving yards to lead the way. The Titans running game was equally frustrating with RBs DeMarco Murray and
Derrick Henry combining for 18 carries for 67 yards. The near equal touch split we’d seen in recent games disappeared as Murray out-touched Henry 18-4.
The Dolphins offense continued their poor play, in large part due to QB Jay Cutler, who managed only 92 yards and a score, going to WR Jarvis Landry. While almost everyone seems to think Cutler should be benched in favor of backup Matt Moore, HC Adam Gase continues to resist, at least publicly. With WR DeVante Parker exiting with an early due to a sprained ankle, Landry saw 10 targets, catching five for 44 yards. No other Dolphin caught more than one pass. Miami RB Jay Ajayi showed some improvement on recent weeks, totaling 79 scoreless yards from scrimmage, but that won’t be enough to keep fantasy players happy.
NY Jets- 17
Another matchup of “bad” teams resulted in the Jets earning their third win of the season, which is very impressive considering some suggested this team wouldn’t (and didn’t want to) win a game all season. After just three first-half points, both teams put up a pair of second-half touchdowns as the Jets held on for the win. It’s no surprise the Jets managed little in the way of offensive production, especially considering starting RB Bilal Powell left the game early with a calf injury after just 33 total yards in the game. Rookie RB Elijah McGuire carried 11 times for just 20 yards after his breakout game a week ago. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the team’s most-targeted player, catching six balls for 29 yards and a score. He can be considered a weekly starter moving forward considering the carnage to the TE position across the league.
The story for the winless Browns was the pathetic play of rookie QB DeShone Kizer, who failed to move the ball and continued to commit turnovers before being benched following halftime. In his place, the Browns sent out QB Kevin Hogan who immediately began moving the ball, leading the team to those two second-half scores. WR Ricardo Louis was once again the Browns top receiver, catching five passes for 71 yards. RB Duke Johnson somehow found the end zone again and totaled 83 yards and Isaiah Crowell played his best game in weeks, rushing for 60 yards on 16 carries.
The comeback of QB Cam Newton continues after his terrible start to the season. Over the past two weeks, Newton is the top-scoring fantasy signal caller and on Sunday, he threw three touchdowns and racked up 355 yards as Carolina went into Detroit and got the win. While WRs Kelvin Benjamin (4/58/1) and Devin Funchess (7/53/1) continued to play well, it was veteran TE Ed Dickson who led the way with an astounding five receptions for 175 yards, which is more receiving yardage than he had in the entire 2016 season. Rookie RB Christian McCaffrey also scored his first career touchdown among his five receptions for 31 yards. He remains a weekly starter in PPR leagues despite offering almost nothing as a runner.
Down 27-10 entering the fourth quarter, the Lions once again needed a late game comeback and nearly pulled it offer after QB Matthew Stafford threw a pair of touchdowns to veteran TE Darren Fells, who entered the game with only four career scores. WRs Marvin Jones (6/54) and Golden Tate (5/48) contributed ho hum stat lines, both seeing eight targets from Stafford, while TE Eric Ebron caught just one of four targets for six yards. He’s not worthy of a roster spot in seasonal leagues.
LA Rams- 10
Despite entering the week as the NFL’s top-scoring offense, the Rams were thoroughly shut down by the Seattle defense, managing just 10 points in the loss to their division rival. With rookie RB Chris Carson going down with an injury in Week Four, all eyes were on the Seahawks backfield and in the end, it was nearly an even split, but lacked production. Thomas Rawls rushed eight times for 20 yards while RB Eddie Lacy toted it nine times for 19 yards. We saw a breakout game from RB J.D. McKissic a week ago, but he put up only 36 total yards in this game. This backfield is one to avoid for fantasy players. The Seahawks passing offense was fairly quiet, though TE Jimmy Graham did catch a touchdown among his six receptions for 37 yards, both numbers leading the team.
Rams QB Jared Goff had moments that reminded onlookers of his 2016 play, throwing a pair of interceptions and 288 yards. The Rams offensive stars were the biggest disappointments as RB Todd Gurley managed 50 total scoreless yards and was rarely involved in the passing game. Speaking of not being involved in the passing game, WR Sammy Watkins drew four targets, but couldn’t record a catch. It only gets worse for Rams receivers as LA faces the Jaguars, Broncos and Giants over the next month.
Another game, another injury. The Ravens lost RB Terrance West early in the game to a calf injury, leaving the backfield to RBs Buck Allen and Alex Collins. Allen would lead the way with 85 total yards and a touchdown, while Collins rushed for 55 yards. Allen remains a solid PPR option, but the rest of this backfield is an avoid. That can also be said of the entire pass-catching corps, although WR Mike Wallace has 188 yards after posting just 21 in the first three games combined.
Missing QB Derek Carr, expectations for the Raiders offense were lowered and they still somehow disappointed. Veteran WR Michael Crabtree delivered, as he often does, with six grabs for 82 yards and a score, but RB Marshawn Lynch rushed for just 43 yards on 12 carries, saving his day with a short scoring run. WR Amari Cooper continues to look like one of the biggest fantasy busts of the season, catching one of two targets for eight yards. Until Carr returns, this is another offense to avoid, with the exception of Crabtree.
Green Bay- 35
The most anticipated game of the day lived up to expectations as the Packers and Cowboys exchanged scores and the Packers score 20 fourth-quarter points to steal the win in Dallas. The Cowboys ate up most of the fourth quarter with a clock-draining drive that ended with a touchdown run from QB Dak Prescott, giving Dallas the lead with under two minutes remaining. That was enough for QB Aaron Rodgers though, who pushed his team down the field and found WR Davante Adams, playing 10 days after suffering a concussion on a brutal hit from Chicago’s Danny Trevathan. Adams was the go-to option of the game as he saw 11 targets from Rodgers, catching seven for 66 yards and two scores. As great as Adams was, the storyline of the day for the Packers was rookie RB Aaron Jones, who was the team’s third-stringer a week ago before injuries to starter Ty Montgomery and fellow rookie Jamaal Williams forced him into action. Jones rushed 19 times for 125 yards and a touchdown and you have to think this just became a committee backfield, at least.
Cowboys QB Prescott continued his high level of play, as this was his fifth consecutive finish among the top 12 fantasy QBs, the only player to do that this season. Prescott finished with 251 yards and three scores, along with 37 rushing yards and another touchdown. RB Ezekiel Elliott had a nice game, too, but failed to find the end zone among his 132 total yards on 30 touches. WR Dez Bryant (5/52/1), WR Cole Beasley (4/23/2) and TE Jason Witten (8/61) were key contributors to the Cowboys offensive success.
Kansas City- 42
The Sunday night game started as poorly as possible for the Texans, who lost defenders Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt on the first drive of the game. We’re waiting to learn more about the severity of the Mercilus chest injury, but Watt was quickly diagnosed with a left tibial plateau fracture, which will end Watt’s season. As they learned last season, Watt is impossible to replace. Rookie QB Deshaun Watson continued to play well, despite his team’s loss. Watson threw for five scores and 261 yards, locking in a spot among the week’s top three fantasy QBs. Although WR DeAndre Hopkins was held to just one reception for much of the game, he caught three second-half touchdown passes and finished as a top two fantasy WR, pending Monday Night Football. WR Will Fuller once again caught a pair of touchdowns, just as he did in his season debut last week and looks like a weekly WR2 option in this vastly improved offense.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith continued on his path towards a career-year, throwing for over 300 yards for the second time this season and only the seventh time in his career. While the Chiefs got the win, it came at a cost. TE Travis Kelce missed the entire second half due to a possible concussion and WR Chris Conley suffered a gruesome Achilles injury late in the game that will surely keep him out of action for a while. WRs Albert Wilson also left the game with an injury. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt once again went over the 100-yard rushing mark, totaling 116 yards from scrimmage. Kelce still led the team in receiving with eight receptions for 98 yards in the first-half alone.
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