San Francisco 49ers 10, Cleveland Browns 24
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- San Francisco's offense hit the trifecta of what causes an offensive game this...offensive: bad luck, bad preparation, and bad execution. All three stemmed from injuries, which forced coaches to shuffle their personnel deck at tight end and left guard. That ended up being where most of the failed execution came because that's where unprepared players were thrust into larger roles than anticipated. At tight end, Blake Bell
and Brian Leonhardt
had to pick up the slack for an inactive Vance McDonald
, but the former just started playing and the latter just got promoted from the practice squad this week. At left guard, Alex Boone's season-ending injury at the beginning of the second half meant recently activated Daniel Kilgore had to play a meaningful amount of snaps for the first time this season, while Marcus Martin had to shift away to left guard, and away from the position (center) that he's played all season. The end result was a bevy of sacks and pressures, with nothing working until Cleveland's defense became indifferent in the fourth quarter.
- The Browns came to life in all facets of the game against the 49ers. They rushed for a season-high 230 yards and two touchdowns, which kept the San Francisco defense honest and gave Johnny Manziel
the time to make several big plays for the offense. The rushing touchdowns were only the third and fourth rushing touchdowns for the team all season. San Francisco's poor defense certainly had a lot to do with Cleveland's success running the ball, but the Browns were able to capitalize nonetheless.
QB Blaine Gabbert
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 28 - 194 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 19 - 0 - Gabbert's poor performance was portended on San Francisco's first drive of the game. On first down, he threw behind an open Quinton Patton
on a quick slant. On second down, he scrambled after play action produced no one open, but inexplicably ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage rather than throwing the ball away. And on third down, he overthrew Patton on a 15-yard out route. Midway through the second quarter, Gabbert's Jaguars-era happy feet returned, and it was downfill from there. He took two more sacks of the "leisurely trot out of bounds behind the line" variety, missed Shaun Draughn
on a wide-open dumpoff, and prevented Draughn from gaining any yards after the catch on another wide-open dumpoff by throwing it at his knees. The only thing that mitigates Gabbert's awfulness against the Browns was that his teammates did him no favors: 1) His offensive line blew blocks in pass protection with regularity; 2) Bruce Ellington
dropped a wide-open deep out in the first quarter that would have resulted in first down inside the Browns' 20-yard line; 3) Jerome Simpson
failed to adjust his route on a third-down blitz, thereby ending another drive just outside the red zone; and 4) a 35-yard completion to Patton was nullified due to Patton's own illegal motion penalty.
RB Shaun Draughn
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 43 - 0, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Draughn was also a victim of poor blocking. As an example, on San Francisco's first play of the second half, he had to run what seemed like 20 east-west yards just to gain 2 north-south yards in the box score. The play was an outside zone, Draughn's bread and butter, but Bruce Miller
missed a block, which eliminated one of the cutback lanes, thereby having a domino effect on all cut back lanes. Draughn reversed field to evade the defender Miller missed, and then evaded two more behind the line of scrimmage before turning upfield. On the very next play, he (and his blockers) made up for it by producing 15 yards when coaches called the same exact play. All of that said, Cleveland defended outside runs well throughout the game, which rendered the rest of Draughn's bread stale and the rest of his butter rancid.
WR Quinton Patton
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 46 - 0 (9 targets) - This game was a mixed bag for Patton. On the plus side, San Francisco finally seemed to incorproate him into their game plan, what with being the intended target on three of Gabbert's first five throws. Unfortunately, two of those were incomplete because of inaccurate passes. On Patton's other six targets, he showed he was able to defeat the man-to-man coverage of Cleveland's young cornerbacks, Charles Gaines and K'Waun Williams. He was not, however, able to beat veteran Tramon Williams. , especially against cornerback Charles Gaines. Although he finished the game as the 49ers' most-targeted receiver, he could have finished as their leading yardage gainer if not for nullifying his own 35-yard reception (after beating K'Waun Williams on a corner route) by illegally motioning towards the line of scrimmage at the snap.
WR Anquan Boldin
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - In perhaps the most surprising stat of the game considering his recent usage, Boldin's first unofficial target didn't come until midway through the third quarter. It resulted in a first down because of defensive pass interference. All three of Boldin's official targets came against soft coverage. On the last play of the third quarter, he beat Tramon Williams' off-man coverage for 14 yards. With about nine minutes left in the game, his next target fell incomplete when safety Donte Whitner jarred the ball loose before Boldin could secure it. Boldin's second reception (and final target) produced 8 yards on 3rd-and-17, this time against off-man coverage by second-year cornerback K'Waun Williams.
WR Torrey Smith
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (2 targets) - Smith's two targets came on consecutive plays midway through San Francisco's second drive. The first was knocked away by Tramon Williams on a deep out route off a play-action rollout. The second saw Smith lined up on the other side of the field, with Boldin lined up inside of him. The two ran an "indigo" route combination, with Boldin clearing out the inside with his go route, and Smith beating cornerback Charles Gaines on his dig route.
TE Blake Bell
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 49 - 0 (3 targets) - Bell led the 49ers in receiving yardage, but 9 of those 49 yards came during Cleveland's quarter of defensive indifference to end the game. Otherwise, Bell's inability to properly execute his responsibilities in pass protection played a role in (at least) two Browns sacks.
QB Johnny Manziel
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 31 - 270 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 15 - 0 - Manziel played really well against the 49ers, delivering big passes and showing excellent pocket presence. He was poised in the pocket and made good decisions throughout the game. He did a nice job hanging in the pocket with his eyes downfield and he only scrambled out of necessity. He only made a few mistakes on the day, drawing a false start penalty for moving before the snap and throwing a second quarter interception. The interception came on a poor decision where he threw the ball across his body to the middle of the field in the direction of Brian Hartline
. Gary Barnidge
was wide open down the seam, but Manziel did not see him on the pass. He almost threw a touchdown to Brian Hartline
in the first quarter, but the veteran receiver was stripped just before reaching the goal line. In the second quarter, he had another chance at a touchdown pass as he had Gary Barnidge
coming across the end zone in the second quarter, but he threw the ball too low. He made a great play on his lone touchdown pass. He faced heavy pressure but was able to backpedal away to buy himself time before making a quick throw off his back foot for a two-yard score to Gary Barnidge
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 145 - 2, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Crowell had his biggest game of the year, scoring two touchdowns and running for a career-high 145 yards. He looked decisive in hitting the hole and finally had a chance to show his blend of power and speed. With the running game clicking for one of the first times all season, Crowell was finally able to show his fantasy value as he saw multiple red zone carries against the 49ers. A good deal of his yardage came on two carries. On his fourth carry of the game he got excellent blocking and slipped through a hole on the left for a 50-yard pickup. In the fourth quarter, he received great blocking again, this time on the right side of the line, and mixed in a stiff-arm to rumble for 54 yards. Crowell received a two goal line carries the first quarter. He was stopped inches short on the first carry before scoring from the fullback spot on the second carry. Crowell could have had a bigger game as he had a 20-yard rush erased by a holding penalty early in the second quarter. His second rushing touchdown came in the fourth quarter as he powered his way into the end zone from three yards out.
RB Duke Johnson
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 78 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (3 targets) - Johnson was surprisingly not utilized much in the passing game, catching just one pass for six yards. His involvement in the passing game boiled down to that one catch in the red zone on a screen play and a pass interference call on short screen that he would have caught. Johnson did rush for a career-high 73 yards in the game. He showed his speed and elusiveness on his second carry as he turned what looked like a lost play into a seven-yard gain by reversing course and outrunning several defenders. Johnson's biggest pickup of the game came on a run where he had an excellent backside cutback towards his left and raced forward for a 19-yard gain. He showed great vision in finding the opening in the line on the run. He saw the team's first red zone carry from the 15-yard line, picking up four yards. Overall, Johnson was overshadowed by Isaiah Crowell
's two touchdowns, but he also ran well.
WR Brian Hartline
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 107 - 0 (10 targets) - Hartline turned in another excellent performance for the Browns, leading the team in receiving and coming close to scoring touchdowns on several plays. He did most of his damage on short and intermediate routes in the middle of the field, but was able to pick up significant yardage with some nice runs after the catch. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken collarbone and will not play again this year. He almost had a touchdown reception in the first quarter but he was stripped as he was nearing the goal line. Fortunately for him he was able to recover his own fumble on the two-yard line. His best catch came in the third quarter as he made a one-handed grab on the run. The play went for 24 yards. Later in the quarter he added a 34-yard reception where he was wide open down the field. He was helped on the play by a great play-action fake which froze the secondary just long enough for him to get free. He came close to scoring a touchdown yet again on that drive, catching a ball on a quick slant from the seven yard line, but he was stopped two yards short.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (7 targets) - Benjamin didn't play a major role in the game, making just four catches, all of which came in the first half. Benjamin failed to deliver any of the big plays he's been known to make, but the Johnny Manziel
didn't take any deep shots. Benjamin clearly took a backseat to Brian Hartline
in the passing game as Hartline was Manziel's primary target. Benjamin was open on a post route in the second quarter, but Manziel missed him on what would have gone for a big gain and he later dropped a pass that was in his hands in the third quarter. He should see a bigger role going forward with Hartline being lost for the remainder of the season.
TE Gary Barnidge
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 84 - 1 (7 targets) - Barnidge scored yet another red zone touchdown for the Browns and will continue to be their top red zone threat no matter who is playing quarterback. He showed good chemistry with Manziel on his first catch of the game. Manziel had been scrambling to his right and Barnidge was able to get behind his defender for a 30-yard gain. Barnidge could have had a touchdown in the second quarter, as he was open coming across the end zone, but Manziel threw the ball at his feet. Manziel did not see Barnidge wide open down the seam in the second quarter, opting to throw a poor pass across his body to Brian Hartline
instead. Barnidge scored his touchdown on a rub route where he crossed paths with Travis Benjamin
. Barnidge's defender was able to avoid Benjamin and stuck close to Barnidge, but Barnidge was able to use his big frame to put himself between the ball and the defender to secure the score.
New York Giants 31, Miami Dolphins 24
What you need to know
New York Giants
- · Odell Beckham jr. may not be able to be stopped, only contained. Defenses know he is a strong playmaker but Beckham jr. can make the toughest catches that most receivers will never make. He is routinely doubled but still makes plays in the short passing game if necessary. A staple in this offense, the Giants would be lost without him.
· In a twist and reverting to old habits, the Giants leaned on veteran running back Jennings for most of this game. This may be simply due to the production he was getting on the ground and they decided to stick with him. Perhaps the Giants are also realising that their 4 headed backfield is ineffective. Regardless, Jennings is the only playable running back for New York.
· When Beckham jr. goes off like in games like this, teammates Randle/Tye/Harris will normally suffer but both Randle and Tye got touchdowns which showed that Manning will spread the ball and anyone can score.
- Ryan Tannehill
is going to be too inconsistent to be a trusted fantasy play down the stretch, but Jarvis Landry
will continue to get fed more than enough targets to trust in PPR leagues. Lamar Miller
is extremely talented, so much so that you have to keep playing him, but even when the Dolphins see this up close and personal, they underuse him. They tried to jumpstart Dion Sims
, but his hands let the team down.
QB Eli Manning
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 31 - 337 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -2 - 0 - Eli Manning
was excellent on Monday night and highly productive for his team. Manning played one of his best games and was helped by his teammates. The Giants offensive line was much improved and gave Manning adequate pass protection several times in key pass situations. Rashad Jennings
even managed to provide somewhat of a running with over 80 yards which helped Manning keep the defense honest. Manning used slants well and converted third downs with excellent communication with his receivers at the line of scrimmage. Manning’s first touchdown was a simple curl route to Randle in the redzone. Randle found a gap in the zone coverage and held onto the pass well. Manning later successfully found Beckham deep down the field on a deep post pattern, leading his receiver well. Manning’s second touchdown was a corner route to tight end Tye, which was in large part due to the excellent pass protection he got which gave him the necessary time to survey the endzone. Manning felt the rush well at times and checked down passes to his running back before the rush got there on numerous occasions. Manning’s third touchdown was in part due to an unbelievable catch attempt by Beckham jr. Manning threw an out route pattern in the endzone and Beckham was somehow able to drag his feet just enough to keep the catch in bounds, despite the pass being thrown outside. Manning had an opportunity for a big play to Nicks on a scramble but his pass was highly erratic. Manning’s final touchdown was helped by blown coverage on Beckham jr. after a slant and up pattern was not picked up by the Miami secondary. Manning recognised it quickly, fired the pass down the field and let Beckham jr. run all the way untouched into the endzone. Manning had several clutch key passes to help seal the game and fantasy owners can’t complain about this performance one bit with the production to match his accuracy.
RB Rashad Jennings
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 81 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Rashad Jennings
normally plays the token “starter” running back role before fading into the background due to the number of running backs the Giants like to use. Monday night was different however, as Jennings was allowed to get into a rhythm and received the bulk of the workload from the Giants. Jennings had one of his best games of the season, despite posting average fantasy numbers. The Giants blocked well for Jennings for the most part and allowed him to get into the secondary on many plays up the middle. Jennings showed a lot of patience in this game on slow developing plays like tosses which paid off when his blocks were successful. Jennings did not rush to the line of scrimmage and picked many key first downs on the ground for the Giants. Jennings burst forward past the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions and fell forward to finish every run. Occasionally the Giants offensive line leaked a defender and Jennings would be blown up in the backfield for a heavy loss however. Jennings was also useful out of the backfield as a receiver when Manning was pressured and looked like a true workhorse back for this team. Whether or not this trend will continue is hard to guess as the Giants normally rotate all their running backs fairly evenly. Jennings did wear the defense down a little bit however in this game and deserves more work going forward.
WR Odell Beckham Jr
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 166 - 2 (9 targets) - Odell Beckham jr. started off slow but exploded in the second half with several monster plays. Beckham jr. started off with some short comeback routes and slants inside, showing good chemistry with Manning at the line of scrimmage. Beckham jr. was flagged for pass interference on a deep attempt but this was quickly forgotten as he hauled in a big play on a post route minutes later. Beckham beat his man inside and quickly gained separation down the field for Manning to throw into. Beckham jr. had a jaw dropping touchdown catch on the sideline of the endzone on an out route. Manning threw a pass outside and looked like it was going incomplete but Beckham jr. snagged it and dragged his feet perfectly while staying in bounds just enough to record the catch. Beckham jr. also drew pass interference when going deep on the sideline in the second half, gaining the Giants good field position. Beckham jr. did have one pass knocked out of his grasp on a high curl route but no one will remember as he scored quickly again with a big play down the field. Beckham jr. ran a slant and up pattern that the Dolphins failed to pick up down the field and Beckham jr. exploded down the field untouched for the 84 yard catch & run. Beckham jr. helped seal the game on a curl route as time was expiring and truly gave incredible effort throughout this game.
WR Dwayne Harris
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 41 - 0 (5 targets) - Dwayne Harris
had an average performance for him which can only be expected as Beckham jr. was so explosive in this game. Harris’ first catch was a crossing pattern short of the first down. The Giants continued to use Harris over the middle from the slot position, which benefits his size and quickness but somewhat lack of true speed. Harris also worked the short passing game with a slant and quick out at the line of scrimmage but wasn’t able to get many yards after the catch due to tight defense by Miami. Randle/Tye and Beckham jr. were the redzone targets for Manning unfortunately for Harris and he failed to get many looks here or down the field. Harris always has potential in this offense if teams double Beckham jr. a lot but he will have average games also. He excels at the slot position and can burn teams deep with seam routes and slants over the middle when asked to. His reliable hands and utility on third down keep him an important cog in this offense but Manning has other weapons he must also use with different skillsets.
WR Rueben Randle
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 58 - 1 (6 targets) - Randle started off this game with a series of excellent timing patterns and managed to get himself a touchdown also. Randle ran short routes such as slants/outs and curl routes against man to man coverage which he was able to win at the line of scrimmage. Randle did have one drop due to lack of concentration as a pass was thrown in traffic on a curl route however. Randle scored his touchdown on a simple curl route in the redzone. Randle found a soft spot in the zone coverage of Miami and turned around wide open for the score. Randle was somewhat of an afterthought after the first half however as second year sensation Beckham jr. began to take over the game. Randle still has potential as a number 3 receiver in PPR leagues and can score occasionally though his production is not reliable with Beckham jr. as a teammate to share the ball with.
TE Will Tye
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 30 - 1 (5 targets) - Will Tye
didn’t get many looks downfield from Manning on Monday night but fantasy owners will be happy with his touchdown. Tye worked the short passing game for most of the night and was able to get open several times against the Dolphins. Tye used good route running and quickness to haul in passes over the middle and towards the sideline on out routes. Tye managed to score a touchdown in the endzone on a corner route thanks to some excellent pass protection up front. Tye ran his route alone as the defense did not pick him up but Manning was afforded the necessary time to be able to find his tight end in the corner of the endzone. Tye was somewhat quiet after this in the passing game as superstar receiver Beckham jr. stole the show but his contribution was noted. Tye has shown excellent hands and a willingness to fight for any ball for several weeks now and has produced more consistently than injured original starter, Larry Donnell
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 41 - 236 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0 - It was another up and down game for Ryan Tannehill
and the Dolphins as they fell to the Giants on Monday Night Football. It’s likely the negatives outweighed the positives, as even though Tannehill didn’t turn the ball over, Miami relied on his arm far too often and drives stalled. In a competitive game that the Dolphins were winning as late as the third quarter, Miami still had a 41-22 pass-to-run ratio, something Dan Campbell
vowed to correct. Lamar Miller
himself ran through the Giants defense in the first half, only to see 5 carries in the second half and 12 overall. That’s not completely on Tannehill, but with the ability to audible in the offense now (which he did with some success on Monday), he should’ve taken it on himself to check out of the pass to the run. Additionally, when a quarterback attempts 41 passes, producing 236 yards (5.8 YPA) isn’t an outcome that means they won. Tannehill locked into Jarvis Landry
, which usually isn’t a terrible means of ball movement, but Landry didn’t play as well as his numbers let on. Additionally, Tannehill missed him on a number of throws.
While there were a number of negatives, Tannehill still managed to make a few plays that signify the potential he still has, but needs to further tap into. His lone touchdown came on an audible, where he identified what the Giants defense was doing pre-snap, adjusted his protection, and found Kenny Stills
on a deep corner route for a 47-yard touchdown. Tannehill also has been more than comfortable on the run, and he was able to make some plays outside the pocket. However, due to some drops from his receivers, those plays weren’t made. The Dolphins also went back to something that had been successful in 2014. The zone read plays, which had been a staple in Bill Lazor’s playbook, had been successful 3-5 times a game. Zac Taylor dove into those old plays and Tannehill added some nice gains on just 4 carries.
RB Lamar Miller
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 89 - 2 - Lamar Miller
looked unstoppable in the first half against a leaky New York run defense, repeatedly gashing through the defense for chunk yardage, including two big TDs. He then went missing in the second half, as even though the Dolphins were squarely in a competitive game, they all but abandoned the run, and the offense got stuck in the mud. Miller did his damage in a number of different ways for the Dolphins. His first touchdown came on a blitz from the Giants. The run was designed up the middle, but he instead bounced outside and was free to scamper into the end zone from 14 yards out. His next run was even better, as another designed run up the middle was nearly thwarted, but he shook off multiple Giant defenders, and finished his run through the middle of the field. In a competitive game, with the Miami defense unable to really stop Eli Manning
and Tannehill and the passing offense struggling, it would’ve made perfect sense to ride Miller in the second half. However, Campbell, Taylor, and company had other plans. The Dolphins came out throwing in the second half, scored first, to take a 24-17 lead, but never stopped attempting passes. They didn’t score the final 25 minutes of the game and never were really close. With Miller’s impending free agency, a conspiracy theorist could surmise that they’re attempting to deflate his value a bit in an effort to resign him. However, the Dolphins have never shown, consistently, that they want to give Miller the ball. His free agency will be one of the key fantasy stories of the offseason for the Dolphins.
RB Jay Ajayi
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0 - Ajayi once again played second fiddle to Lamar Miller
in the Miami backfield on Monday night. While his snap count did rise from recent weeks, he was still held in check by a Giants defense that had been gashed by Lamar Miller
. Ajayi was in mostly during early down, run situations, so the running lanes simply weren’t there for him to exploit. The rookie’s role has definitely expanded since he came off the IR/Designated for Return, so it will be interesting to see how much the Dolphins want to feature him now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoff race. With Lamar Miller
’s future in doubt, Ajayi could be auditioning for a starting role in 2016.
RB Damien Williams
, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (3 targets) - Damien Williams
, who’s been relegated exclusively to return duty since Jay Ajayi
came off the IR, has seen a growing role as a change of pace back/3rd down back in recent weeks. While Lamar Miller
was gobbling up any running back targets early in the season (and doing a great job out of the backfield) with 33 catches over his first 9 games, he has just 6 catches over the last 4 games. While Williams hasn’t done much in that time out of backfield (5 catches in 4 games), he is snatching away some valuable targets that would help Miller negate the low-carry games that he’s had throughout the season. While Williams isn’t a fantasy option, he further hurts Lamar Miller
WR Jarvis Landry
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 11 - 99 - 0 (18 targets) - In what’s becoming a theme in recent weeks, Jarvis Landry
had another high volume-low efficiency game for the Dolphins on Monday night. He did see a season high in targets; however, he only caught 60% of them. Additionally, he was just one yard away from recording his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Yet, on 18 targets, with 11 catches, you should be able to eclipse the 100-yard mark. Landry dropped a few balls and wasn’t particularly self-aware on a few plays. Early in the game, he squirmed out of a tackle, moving backward, and into another tackle, which prevented him from picking up the first down. He dropped a ball on a comeback route when Tannehill scrambled from the pocket and delivered a perfect throw; his drop also prevented a first down. Landry didn’t get help from his quarterback when he was running free down the field, a play that would’ve resulted in a 60-yard touchdown. Tannehill overthrew him and the Dolphins continued to struggle to move the ball in the second half. Landry’s physical limitations will always prevent him from breaking into the top 15 or so WRs in football. As long as he remains a high-volume target, he will be on the WR2 landscape, but once DeVante Parker
gets up to speed (likely by 2016), expect Landry’s target and catch numbers to drop. However, the emergence of a viable WR1 could help Landry in the long-term.
WR DeVante Parker
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (5 targets) - DeVante Parker
struggled on Monday night, as it is accustomed for rookie WRs to do. Parker was in Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie’s pocket for most of the night, finding it difficult to gain separation. DRC is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with big, physical wide receivers, and Parker just wasn’t ready for the fight that the CB was going to give him. While it’s been a tough year for Parker, as he struggled to get onto the field for much of the year, it looks like the Dolphins may be forced to shut down Rishard Matthews
, and with nothing to play for, it seems like the best move. That will allow Parker to start the remaining three games of the season, gain some confidence and some chemistry with Ryan Tannehill
, and get the much needed reps that he missed early in his rookie season. He’s flashed high-level playmaking ability so far in his young career.
WR Kenny Stills
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 49 - 1 (3 targets) - Kenny Stills
came out of the woodwork for a big play in Monday night’s game against the Giants. Stills did see a slight bump in snaps with Jarvis Landry
ailing and coming out for a few plays here and there during the game. However, besides his 47-yard touchdown, he only saw two other targets and remains an afterthought outside of being a deep threat. The touchdown was very beautiful though, as Stills ran past the coverage of Prince Amukamara on a corner route and then outran Craig Dahl to the pylon after catching a perfect pass from Tannehill. The Dolphins will consistently look for 1-2 deep balls to Stills per game, but he remains off the fantasy radar.
TE Dion Sims
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (5 targets) - Dion Sims
saw some early targets, but fumbled one away to the Giants, giving them some early points. Then, on another drive later in the first quarter, Tannehill threw a perfect seam route that Sims got his hands on, but couldn’t reel in. Like Cameron, he was barely seen from over the rest of the game from a receiving aspect, usually staying in to help protect his quarterback. Sims just isn’t a naturally smooth catcher of the football, which is the easiest reason for his repeated drops, fumbles, and other mistakes. He is, however, a very good blocker, so that’s where his future likely lays.
Need to Know: Aside from Reshad Jones, who is playing at a high level, nobody on the back-7 for the Dolphins is particularly good at the moment. Asking anyone to cover Odell Beckham Jr
. is a tall task, but Brent Grimes looks like he had cinder blocks on his feet last night. The Dolphins figure to be in some shootouts over the rest of the season with their linebackers and secondary looking so poor in coverage. Anyone relying on Jarvis Landry
in the fantasy playoffs can rest easy.
TE Jordan Cameron
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (4 targets) - Jordan Cameron
started off hot on Monday night, catching a pair of passes in the first quarter. However, as he has done all season, he went missing and caught one ball the rest of the game. Tannehill was targeting the tight ends (Cameron and Sims) early and often on the opening drives, but then when silent over the rest of the game as Jarvis Landry
saw the bulk of the targets. However, his 35 yards were the most he’s seen since Week 8, underlining how much this season has been a disappointment for him. He was droppable quite a while ago and will not be on the fantasy radar for the rest of the season. Fantasy owners will have to hope the right coach finds his way to Miami this offseason to unlock the talent that Cameron possesses. He could also become a cap casualty as well.
Tennessee Titans 8, New York Jets 30
What you need to know
- • Ball security is still a concern with Mariota.
• Dexter McCluster
's return pushed David Cobb
back down the depth chart.
• Green-Beckham's inconsistency continues, Douglas' ineffectiveness does also.
• Delanie Walker
is Mariota's only reliable target.
New York Jets
- The New York Jets won their third straight game, demonstrating the urgency needed to make a serious playoff push. New York dominated Tennessee on both sides of the ball, outgaining the overmatched Titans, 439-292. Ryan Fitzpatrick
continued to dominate, tossing more three touchdown passes, while Chris Ivory
turned in his first 100-yard performance in nearly two months. While New York’s offense capitalized and made plays, Tennessee’s defensive play was putrid. Defenders resorted to arm tackling ball carriers and the secondary missed countless assignments. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall
connected for the easiest 69-yard touchdown in NFL history. Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall, so Marshall caught a quick screen and ran free for an easy touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a commanding 27-0 lead before halftime and basically ended the game.
On the other side of the ball, New York’s defensive line, namely Mouhammad Wilkerson, was all over Marcus Mariota
; Mariota was sacked five times and looked completely befuddled by New York’s defensive alignments. With Darrelle Revis back in the fold, the secondary locked down Tennesse’s middling pass catchers, giving its talented array of pass rushers to attack Mariota at will. Wilkerson had his first career three-sack game and is just 0.5 sacks away from breaking Shaun Ellis’ career record (12.5 sacks).
QB Marcus Mariota
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 39 - 274 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 3 - 0, Rec: 1 - 41 - 1 (1 targets) - It was a rough start for the Titans passing game, as Delanie Walker
dropped a first down pass on the first snap before Mariota missed him on third down with a high throw. Mariota did find Dorial Green-Beckham
deep downfield with a perfect touch pass down the seam, but it preceded a turnover. After holding the ball in the pocket on third-and-long, the quarterback overthrew Dexter McCluster
underneath with a hand in his face for the interception. The Titans were being blown out in the first half. At 27-0, Mariota began to force the ball downfield in a two-minute drill. He should have been intercepted when he overthrew his intended target downfield but two Jets defensive backs got in each other's way. After halftime, Mariota came out and made a couple of impressive throws to move the offense past midfield. He then made an unexpected touchdown reception on a wildcat throw from Antonio Andrews
. Mariota ran an impressive route to make the defender fall down before running clear down the sideline. In the fourth quarter, Mariota had a fumble that highlighted how loosely he had carried the ball at times during the game as a whole.
RB Dexter McCluster
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0, Rec: 4 - 38 - 0 (5 targets) - McCluster was the target for Marcus Mariota
's first quarter interception, but there was nothing the running back could have done to prevent it. The running back was given two carries, one off tackle and one up the middle, on the following drive but couldn't find any space. McCluster had a handful of touches before the end of the first half, but couldn't gain more than a few yards. He eventually got a first down on an angle route out of the backfield in the third quarter. McCluster added a second first down on the following drive when he converted a first-and-20 down the right sideline.
RB Antonio Andrews
, 32 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 41 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - It wasn't a day for any of the Titans running backs to be productive on the ground. Predictably, the Jets defensive line was able to completely dominate the Titans offensive line so all of the Titans backs were looking to break through a wall whenever they got the ball. Andrews did find another way to contribute though. He surprised the Jets (and everyone watching) by throwing a touchdown pass to Marcus Mariota
in the third quarter on a trick play.
RB David Cobb
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0 - It wasn't a day for any of the Titans running backs to be productive on the ground. Predictably, the Jets defensive line was able to completely dominate the Titans offensive line so all of the Titans backs were looking to break through a wall whenever they got the ball. Cobb didn't get many carries as he dropped behind Dexter McCluster
in the running back pecking order.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 53 - 0 (7 targets) - After his eventful game against the Jaguars last week, the Titans looked to Green-Beckham for the first time in the first quarter. Mariota threw a perfect touch pass to him between two defenders down the seam for a big gain. Green-Beckham wasn't targeted again until late in the second quarter when he made a play that was all too familiar. Last week against the Jaguars, Green-Beckham created an interception with a drop. In the same area of the field this week, he dropped a pass when he was wide open downfield that forced the Titans to punt. Mariota went back to Beckham on the following drive with a backshoulder throw against Antonio Cromartie for a first down. In the third quarter, Mariota looked for Green-Beckham over the middle against tight coverage but he waited on the ball. Green-Beckham added a first down on an out route in garbage time. It was another inconsistent outing from the receiver.
WR Harry Douglas
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 65 - 0 (7 targets) - As has been the case with Harry Douglas
all season, he struggled to get open against the Jets. His first reception came in the third quarter, when he lined up tight to the line of scrimmage and caught a short pass against zone coverage. In the fourth quarter, Douglas shocked everyone by gaining 51 yards on a slant. Douglas was left wide open when Cromartie was picked off so it was a clean run downfield for Douglas. The receiver's gain was impressive, but in truth he should have gone further than he did because he was unopposed before getting to top speed. Douglas followed up that play with a short reception on a curl against zone coverage to begin the following drive.
WR Andrew Turzilli
, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - With Kendall Wright
sidelined again, the Titans had few options at wide receiver. Rookie Andrew Turzilli
was unexpectedly pushed into action, but his role was always going to be minor as the Titans focused on more two tight end packages. On 2nd-and-17 in the second quarter, Turzilli saw his first target. He caught a pass down the seam for a first down. Turzilli added his second reception on his second target in the third quarter. He made a clean catch on a quick out short of the first down marker.
TE Delanie Walker
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 71 - 0 (13 targets) - After a quiet start last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans looked to Walker immediately against the Jets. Unfortunately, he dropped the ball after running a corner route when he was open. Walker was targeted on every snap of the Titans' first drive, but he didn't catch a pass. The second throw was knocked down and the third was uncatchable over his head. Walker would catch just two passes in the first half, both going for modest gains. The tight end's most impressive play of the day came in the third quarter, when he slid to the ground in order to pull the ball in from behind while on the ground. In garbage time, Walker stockpiled receptions to boost his statistical output.
TE Phillip Supernaw
, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (2 targets) - Supernaw's only reception of the game came on Third-and-Long. He caught a quick pitch running up the seam to set up a Fourth-and-14. In the same situation on the final play of the game, Supernaw dropped Mariota's pass as he looked around for the ball too late.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 36 - 263 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 23 - 0 - Another week, another dominant performance by Ryan Fitzpatrick
. Fitzpatrick extended his turnover-free streak to over 120 pass attempts while chucking another three touchdown passes. Fitzpatrick benefitted from several blown coverages and his pass catchers generating yardage after the catch. During the second quarter, Fitzpatrick set-up a short screen for Bilal Powell
and Powell was able to score from 16 yards out. New York’s offensive line did an excellent job of setting up its blocks, but credit Powell for finding space and accelerating through it. Tennessee’s defenders attempted to ‘shoulder tackle’ Powell, which proved to be a fruitless endeavor. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick benefitted from a bit of good luck, hooking up with Brandon Marshall
for a 69-yard scoring play. Simply put, Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall, so Fitzpatrick hit him with a quick screen and Marshall made the scoring play happen after the catch. Fitzpatrick also connected with Eric Decker
for a 16-yard scoring play during the first quarter. Like we’ve seen week after week, Decker ran a tight post route and Fitzpatrick threw it in a spot where only Decker could make a play. While it may go somewhat unnoticed, Fitzpatrick continued to make plays with his legs, scrambling for 19 yards and picking up a key first down during the first half. Fitzpatrick’s scramble prolonged New York’s first drive, which resulted in his scoring strike to Decker.
Over the last three games, Fitzpatrick has thrown nine touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s playing arguably the best football of his long career and his offense is peaking at the right time.
RB Chris Ivory
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 101 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Chris Ivory
went ‘back-to-basics’ against the Tennessee Titans. Ivory benefitted from seeing a lot of volume, rushing 22 times for 101 yards, but more importantly, he looked fresh. Ivory looked like an explosive, human battering ram at times, launching his body into defenders and carrying tacklers for extra yardage. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh was gored by Ivory and ended up leaving the game. While he didn’t score a touchdown, Ivory sets the tone for the rest of the offense and softens defensive fronts so the passing game can get on track.
RB Bilal Powell
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 36 - 0, Rec: 5 - 46 - 1 (5 targets) - Bilal Powell
turned in another strong performance, compiling 82 total yards and a touchdown. Powell saw nearly all of the third down work and had problem beating linebackers in one-on-one coverage. During the second quarter, Fitzpatrick set-up a quick screen in the red zone and Powell turned it into a 16-yard touchdown scrambler. Credit Powell for finding running room, but acknowledge he benefitted from some atrocious tackling Tennessee defenders. As a ball carrier, Powell was able to find running room against Tennessee’s generous run defense. Powell provides the lightning to Ivory’s thunder, which gives New York’s offense a valuable ingredient.
RB Stevan Ridley
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 23 - 0 - For the first time this season, Stevan Ridley
looked like the running back we saw in New England. Ridley’s first step was explosive and he was able to find running room against this porous defense. While the match-up was prime, it was a great confidence building performance for Ridley that he’ll hopefully build upon in future weeks.
WR Eric Decker
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 1 (10 targets) - Another week, another strong performance by Eric Decker
. Once again, Decker operated out of the slot and dominated smaller corners with regularly. During the first quarter, Decker ran an option route, pivoting to a post-route and hauled in a 16-yard touchdown strike from Ryan Fitzpatrick
. Decker won his one-on-one match-up and Fitzpatrick delivered a strike. Decker was a lynch pin on third down, hauling in passes over the middle of the field. Due to game flow, Decker only saw two targets during the second half, but made the most of his opportunities during the first half.
WR Brandon Marshall
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 125 - 1 (10 targets) - Brandon Marshall
turned in a solid performance, but his final stat line was a little inflated. During the second quarter, Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall and he caught a screen and rumbled for a 69-yard touchdown. Credit Marshall for his speed after the catch, but the majority of defense will attempt to cover him. Outside of his 69-yard catch and run, Marshall ran intermediate routes and used his size to bully smaller defenders. Marshall was instrumental on third downs. With the game virtually over by halftime, Marshall caught two passes during the second half, but was primarily a spectator.
WR Quincy Enunwa
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - Quincy Enunwa
earned another start in three wide receiver sets, but failed to make an impact. Enunwa caught a quick slant for a 10-yard gain, but otherwise, served as a blocker on perimeter. Devin Smith
suffered a serious knee injury during the game, so Enunwa may see additional snaps in the coming weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers 33, Cincinnati Bengals 20
What you need to know
- The Steelers won a hard-fought AFC North battle 33-20. The Steelers offense was efficient scoring over 30 points for the 5th consecutive game. The Steelers defense came away with 3 timely interceptions. Early in the 3rd quarter, Steelers cornerback William Gay, jumped a pass for an interception return for touchdown.
- The Bengals lost their starting quarterback and star tight end on the opening drive against the Steelers in Week 14. Dalton and Eifert both left and did not return with respective thumb and head injuries. A.J. McCarron
came into the game in relief and threw for two touchdowns and 208 yards along with two interceptions in the Cincinnati loss. A.J. Green
was used heavily in this one totaling 132 yards including a long 66-yard touchdown. Giovani Bernard
and Jeremy Hill
split carries but Bernard was the much more productive back with 40 yards to Hill’s 16 even with one less carry.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 39 - 282 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Ben Roethlisberger
was efficient and made good decisions on the majority of his pass attempts. Roethlisberger had 30 completions on 39 passing attempts for 282 yards and 1 interception. Roethlisberger started fast going 9 for 9 during the 1st quarter for 103 passing yards. During the opening series, Roethlisberger completed passes of 7 and 10 yards to Heath Miller
, 31 yards to Markus Wheaton
, and 19 yards to Antonio Brown
. Late 1st quarter, Roethlisberger completed 2 more passes to Brown both for 16 yards. Early 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger completed passes of 6 yards to DeAngelo Williams
and 11 yards to Martavis Bryant
before the Steelers kicked a field goal. Mid 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger completed passes of 13, 9, and 2 yards to Miller and 6 yards to Bryant. Late 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger completed a 18 yard screen pass to Bryant and a 9 yard pass to Miller before the Steelers kicked a field goal. The Steelers were up 16-7 at halftime and Roethlisberger had 185 passing yards. Mid 3rd quarter, Roethlisberger completed a 16 yard pass to Wheaton, a 26 yard pass to Brown, and passes of 3 and 9 yards to Miller before the Steelers kicked a field goal. Mid 4th quarter, Roethlisberger was intercepted on a deep pass down the left sideline intended for Bryant. On the play, Bengals defender Reggie Nelson, jumped in front of the pass for the interception.
RB DeAngelo Williams
, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 76 - 2, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - DeAngelo Williams
ran hard and found the end-zone twice. Williams had 23 rushes for 76 yards with 2 touchdowns and added 2 receptions on 2 targets for 15 yards. During the opening series, Williams had 13 combined rushing yards over 6 carries. On 2nd and goal, Williams ran up the middle for a 1 yard touchdown run. On the play, Williams avoided a tackle for loss by cutting back to his left. Late 1st quarter, Williams ran up the middle before bouncing out to the left side for a 9 yard gain. Early 2nd quarter, Williams caught a screen pass for a 6 yard reception. Mid 2nd quarter, Williams ran up the middle and found a large hole for a 15 yard gain. Early 3rd quarter, Williams caught a screen pass for a 9 yard reception. Late 4th quarter, Williams ran up the middle before spinning to his left for a 10 yard gain. A few plays later on 2nd and goal, Williams ran up the middle for a 1 yard touchdown run. On the play, Williams had good run-blocking as he fell into the end-zone.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 7 - 49 - 0 (9 targets) - Martavis Bryant
had 7 receptions on 9 targets for 49 yards. Early 2nd quarter, Bryant ran an out-route a 11 yard reception. Mid 2nd quarter, Bryant caught a screen pass for a 6 yard reception. Late 2nd quarter, Bryant caught a screen pass then cut to the left sideline for a 18 yard reception. Early 4th quarter, Bryant ran a comeback route for a 9 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Bryant ran a comeback-route for a 6 yard reception.
WR Antonio Brown
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 87 - 0 (10 targets) - Antonio Brown
had 7 receptions on 10 targets for 87 yards. During the opening series, Brown ran a slant-route for a 19 yard reception before being tackled on the 2 yard line. Late 1st quarter, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 16 yard reception. On the following play, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 16 yard reception. Early 2nd quarter, Brown ran a comeback-route on the right sideline for a 9 yard reception. Mid 3rd quarter, Brown ran a slant-route for a 26 yard reception.
WR Markus Wheaton
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 65 - 0 (7 targets) - Markus Wheaton
had 4 receptions on 7 targets for 65 yards. During the opening series on 3rd and 1, Wheaton ran a vertical-route down the left sideline for a 31 yard reception. Early 2nd quarter, Wheaton caught a screen pass for a 4 yard reception. Mid 3rd quarter, Wheaton had a 16 yard reception. Early 4th quarter, Wheaton ran a crossing-route for a 14 yard reception.
TE Heath Miller
, 69 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 10 - 66 - 0 (10 targets) - Heath Miller
was the go-to receiver during the game. Miller had a career-high 10 receptions on 10 targets for 66 yards. Miller started early on the opening drive with a 7 yard reception on a TE screen pass. A few plays later on 3rd and 8, Miller ran an out-route for a 10 yard reception. Late 1st quarter on a 3rd and 2, Mille ran a curl-route for a 4 yard reception. Mid 2nd quarter on a 3rd and 7, Miller ran a curl-route for a 13 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Miller caught a TE screen pass for a 9 yard reception. On the next play on 3rd and 1, Miller boxed out his defender for a 2 yard reception. Late 2nd quarter, Miller ran a slant-route for a 9 yard reception. Late 3rd quarter, Miller caught a screen pass for a 9 yard reception.
QB A.J. McCarron
, 49 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 32 - 280 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0 - AJ McCarron was thrown into a starting role in Week 14 when Andy Dalton
went down with an apparent thumb injury. He threw two touchdowns and finished with 208 yards on 22-of-32 passing but also threw two interceptions. McCarron made some plays against the Steelers as he threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green
after he roasted corner Antwon Blake deep and also threw a short five-yard touchdown to Rex Burkhead
. The ball traveled 36 yards in the air where Dalton has failed to throw a pass to Green further than 30 yards in the air all season. His first interception was floated to William Gay who returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown early in the second half. His second interception was intended for Sanu and came in the fourth quarter with 5:14 to go. He was picked off by Robert Golden and it sent Bengals fans to the exits quickly after.
QB Andy Dalton
, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 3 - 5 - 59 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Quarterback Andy Dalton
has started for 80 consecutive games in the NFL since is career began and after an injury in Week 14 that streak will end. One of the NFL’s most durable quarterbacks injured his right thumb after an attempted screen pass to Giovani Bernard
was intercepted by lineman Stephon Tuitt. He seemed to jam his right hand into the lineman’s knee and did not return. He completed three passes for 59 yards including said interception before leaving the game.
RB Jeremy Hill
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Jeremy Hill
carried the ball just seven times in a Week 14 loss against the Steelers and only accumulated 16 yards. He again split carries with Giovani Bernard
who had a much better yards per carry average rushing six times for 40 yards on the day. Hill was a victim of poor game script as he didn’t see the field much with limited snaps. The Bengals were behind much of the game as A.J. McCarron
was forced to air it out for a high volume of pass attempts. Hill did catch two passes for eight yards.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (5 targets) - The theme of the game and quite possibly the season was Giovani Bernard
outperforming Jeremy Hill
on a similar volume of carries. Bernard rushed for 40 yards on six carries in a game where the Bengals ran the ball with their running backs just 13 times. Bernard did his thing in the passing game catching three-of-five targets for 27 yards and was on the field a lot in this game. On the play Dalton was intercepted and then injured Bernard was the target of a screen pass in the red zone.
WR A.J. Green
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 132 - 1 (9 targets) - A.J. Green
has historically torched the Steelers and was essentially the Bengals entire offense in Week 14. He totaled six receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Quarterback A.J. McCarron
leaned heavily on Green after the injuries to Andy Dalton
and Tyler Eifert
on the opening drive. Green ran right past cornerback Antwon Blake for a 66-yard score in the second quarter on a deep throw by McCarron. The ball traveled 36 yards in the air, longer than any pass Dalton has thrown to Green all season without regard to yards after the catch. McCarron didn’t show a huge amount of interest in spreading the ball around unlike Dalton so this could actually be positive for Green’s fantasy value going forward. If Eifert misses time, McCarron would be smart to rely on Green extensively in the passing game.
WR Marvin Jones
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 61 - 0 (8 targets) - Marvin Jones
didn’t make a ton of big plays for the Bengals in Week 14 but had a solid day in the intermediate passing game with six receptions for 61 yards. His long reception of the game was for 23 yards and had eight targets. He could see an expanded role if Eifert misses any time but expect the McCarron offense to be funneled through A.J. Green
TE Tyler Eifert
, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (2 targets) - Tyler Eifert
injured his head making a diving catch on Cincinnati’s first drive in Week 14. Eifert was making in his return from a stinger injury this week but before leaving had two receptions for 42 yards. Eifert was leading the NFL in touchdown receptions and will enter the leagues concussion protocol after a disastrous afternoon for the Bengals.
Oakland Raiders 15, Denver Broncos 12
What you need to know
- The Raiders offense put together one long touchdown and was also able to score after taking possession in the red zone following a Denver fumble. Aside from those two drives, the offense accomplished nothing against the talented Broncos defense (they had negative yardage overall at halftime). The Broncos suffocated the running game and took away the Raiders outside weapons. The only offensive players who had some small amount of success were tight ends Clive Walford
and Mychal Rivera
- The advantage Brock Osweiler
provides Denver is supposedly that his ability to run a “purer” version of coach Gary Kubiak
’s offense allows the running game to work as intended. With the running game stuck in neutral, (in part because of the absence of C.J. Anderson
), Denver had to put the game on Osweiler’s shoulders, and he doesn’t have the experience or the pocket presence to carry a passing game at this stage of his career.
QB Derek Carr
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 29 - 135 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -4 - 0 - Carr played okay despite the horrible numbers. His only mistakes came in the form of holding the ball too long. On one third down, he saw nobody open and decided to retreat and keep looking for a receiver instead of throwing the ball away; the result was a sack and big loss that took the Raiders out of field goal range and likely cost three points. Carr fumbled on a play in which Von Miller was mistakenly left unblocked. While there was little Carr could have done to avoid the sack, he did a poor job of protecting the football. Carr’s opportunities to make plays were few and far between due to a relentless Broncos pass rush and tight coverage from the cornerbacks. He was able to make some plays to his tight ends where the matchups were more favorable. Carr marched the ball down the field on the first drive of the second half with key completions going to his tight ends and Michael Crabtree
. Facing third down in the red zone, Carr gently lofted a pretty pass into the corner of the end zone where Seth Roberts
was able to make a sliding grab for an 11-yard touchdown. After a fumble gave the Raiders possession deep in Broncos territory, Carr was able to find Mychal Rivera
wide open for a 15-yard touchdown. He pump-faked a bubble-screen to Amari Cooper
that brought the safety charging forward and then lofted the ball up to Mychal Rivera
in the end zone who took advantage of the coverage breakdown to find an open spot in the coverage.
RB Latavius Murray
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 27 - 0 (1 targets) - Murray and the Raiders offensive line had a rough game. Murray was consistently hit at or near the line of scrimmage and his longest run of the game was just seven yards. Murray is especially ineffective in these scenarios because he struggles when he is not able to build up a head of steam.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - Crabtree’s stats were unimpressive but he made some key catches in a game where yardage and first downs were at a premium. While he wasn’t able to gain much separation from the Broncos talented corners, he was able to use his strong hands to make grabs against tight coverage. He did not receive his normal amount of targets due to the Raiders looking to exploit more favorable matchups with the tight ends.
WR Seth Roberts
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 1 (4 targets) - Roberts continues to work as the third receiver and has had a knack for making plays in the red zone. He grabbed an 11-yard touchdown after a sweet double-move. He faked a quick slant that Bradley Roby jumped and then ran by him to the outside creating enough separation for Carr to drop it over the corner to a sliding Roberts in the back of the end zone.
WR Amari Cooper
, 45 offensive snaps (8 targets) - Cooper had another tough showing. He wasn’t able to shake Aqib Talib when matched up in single coverage against him. Cooper’s most notable plays were a drop on a short pass and a play in which he stopped running his route with the ball in the air as Carr targeted him in the end zone. The Raiders were able to use Cooper to their advantage as a decoy a couple times, faking the bubble screen in his direction to open space downfield for the tight ends.
TE Clive Walford
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 47 - 0 (7 targets) - Walford has been coming on of late and shows some tantalizing flashes of talent that hint at a bright future. Walford is primarily being targeted deeper down the field (either down the seam or on wheel routes down the sideline) and was able to pick up a couple long gains. He made a spectacular 25-yard catch on a seam route on which he went up and extended his hands far away from his body to catch a fastball from Carr in traffic. Walford also nearly made a second incredible catch on a sideline route for another big gain when he went up to get the ball over the defender, but the toe of his second foot came down on the line. The play was initially ruled a catch, but was overturned after a challenge flag was thrown. Walford led the team in targets and while that was largely a product of the tough matchups for the receivers, he clearly is earning a bigger role in the offense as the season progresses.
TE Mychal Rivera
, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 49 - 1 (4 targets) - Despite the emergence of Walford, Rivera was still a factor for the Raiders and led the team in receiving yards. He had the team’s biggest gain of the day grabbing a 29-yard pass down the right sideline against relatively tight coverage. Rivera also cashed in with a 15-yard touchdown on a well-designed and well-executed play that allowed Rivera to come wide open in the end zone. Rivera faked towards the corner as if he was going to block on a bubble screen to Amari Cooper
(a play the Raiders had run twice previously) and Carr pump-faked that direction, causing the Broncos defenders on that side of the field to crash towards the line of scrimmage. After faking the block, Rivera sprinted past the flat-footed defenders and came wide open. After an initial bobble, he was able to come down with the ball in the back of the end zone and get both feet in for the touchdown.
QB Brock Osweiler
, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 51 - 308 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0 - On a day where Denver’s defense played out of its minds, the Broncos merely needed the offense to play decent football to coast to victory. Unfortunately, (with blame to fall on a terrible running game and a few key late-game drops), Brock Osweiler
’s inability to convert yards into points in the first half wound up costing the Broncos dearly in the second. He’s simply not at a point in his career where he’s able to carry an offense on his shoulders.
Osweiler had several good throws and positive plays, but by and large had absolutely no feel for the pocket, leading to a career day for the Raiders’ Khalil Mack, who had 5 sacks, each one of which ended a Denver drive, and one of which resulted in a safety. Despite being one of the tallest quarterbacks in history, Osweiler also had several batted balls.
In the first half, Denver had drives of 10 plays and 57 yards, 9 plays and 61 yards, 15 plays and 63 yards, and 12 plays and 61 yards, all of which ended in red-zone, (or near-red-zone) field goals. The failure to reach the end zone wound up haunting Denver, whose defense allowed one 80-yard touchdown drive and just 49 yards on 12 other drives, (not counting kneel-downs), but lost to an Oakland team that converted its few opportunities into touchdowns.
RB Ronnie Hillman
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 20 - 0, Rec: 7 - 41 - 0 (9 targets) - With running-mate C.J. Anderson
ailing, Ronnie Hillman
had a chance to shine with a larger share of Denver’s backfield, but he responded with a miserable performance against an active and penetrating Raiders front 7. Hillman was especially woeful as Denver approached the end zone; on three touches in the red zone, Hillman had a loss of one, a loss of six, and a loss of five with a fumble at the end, (which Denver recovered). And while Hillman’s seven receptions would seem to be a positive, they were mostly no-hope dumpoffs by a flustered Osweiler; after two positive-value receptions on Denver’s first drive, Hillman didn’t have a productive target until two minutes were left in the game.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 95 - 0 (14 targets) - As has been his tendency his entire career, Demaryius Thomas
combined flashes of excellence with moments of frustration against the Oakland Raiders. On the positive side of the ledger, Thomas had a physical catch-and-run at the end of the first half where he dragged three defenders down to the goal line, (and appeared to injure his shoulder on the play). He also had a great sideline catch with a defender draped all over him, and generally was the Bronco most consistently able to get open against the Raiders. At the same time, Thomas had a drop at the goal-line that forced Denver to settle for a field goal, a horrible lost fumble after initially converting 3rd-and-3, and a bad drop on 3rd-and-4 with Denver trying to drive for the tying field goal.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (6 targets) - For the second consecutive week, (and the third time in four games), Sanders and Brock Osweiler
simply could not get on the same page, in large part because Osweiler is most comfortable on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and Sanders is at his best running more difficult intermediate routes. With little chemistry in the passing game, Sanders’ two most impactful plays came on returns; Sanders had a dazzling 29-yard punt return in the first half that was called back due to an incidental running-into-the-kicker penalty, and Sanders muffed a punt at the 11-yard line to set up Oakland’s game-winning field goal.
TE Vernon Davis
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 0 (9 targets) - Clearly becoming more comfortable in his new home, Vernon Davis
took over as one of Brock Osweiler
’s favorite targets against the Oakland Raiders. Davis was largely dependable, but had a few puzzling lapses in judgment, including back-to-back receptions in the first quarter where Vernon Davis
ended his run by turning back towards the line of scrimmage and trying to reverse field, costing Denver several yards in the process. Aside from an apparent abundance of faith in his own athleticism, Davis was a consistent outlet for Osweiler. He also stretched the field vertically on occasion, drawing two rare deep targets; the first was a 23-yard gain to set Denver up in the red zone, and the second was a horrible, crushing drop deep down the field with no defenders in sight. The fact that the drop came on 4th-and-5, with Denver down by 3 and under 4 minutes remaining, only magnified the error.
TE Owen Daniels
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (4 targets) - Despite a dumpoff-heavy gameplan that usually plays to his strength, Owen Daniels
received very little work against the Oakland Raiders as fellow tight-end Vernon Davis
was more heavily featured. Daniels received only four targets, and his only play of note came on a short catch over the middle with nothing but green grass in front of him that Daniels was able to run for 32 total yards.
New Orleans Saints 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
What you need to know
New Orleans Saints
- Nothing about Sunday’s affair was especially jaw-dropping, but the Saints’ attack played very effectively to keep the game on their terms after establishing a quick 14-0 lead. Tim Hightower
was clearly the story of the day, as he toted the ball a whopping 28 times in relief of the injured Mark Ingram
. A 3.04 YPC average doesn’t jump out from the box score, but Hightower pitched in one solid carry after another to spearhead a meaningful ground game, and he killed the clock late with a handful of positive rushes. Ben Watson
and Willie Snead
were the main cogs for Drew Brees
through the air, as both won their coverage matchups consistently in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. Individual fantasy value has proven to be a product of the overall success of this offensive unit, and the chances appear relatively high next Monday when the Saints play host to the Detroit Lions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The Tampa Bay offense was without tackle Demar Datson, who has started several games this season, and WR Vincent Jackson
left the game in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury. The Tampa defense was without rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is serving a 4 game suspension after starting the season as one of the top defensive ROY candidates. Kicker Connor Barth
was 2 for 2 on extra point attempts, and 1 of 2 on field goal attempts, narrowly missing a 47-yard attempt in the 3rd quarter. Tampa Bay was 4 of 11 on 3rd down attempts and 1 for 1 on 4th down conversions.
QB Drew Brees
, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 41 - 312 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0 - Brees started off his day sharply, moving the chains with regularity en route to an opening touchdown drive. His prime beneficiaries were Brandin Cooks
and Benjamin Watson, but Marques Colston
capitalized in the endzone with a three-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 7-0. After getting the ball back in short order, Brees and the Saints were unable to pick up a first down on their second drive. New Orleans’ aerial attack found more success on their third possession, hooking up deep down the field to Willie Snead
on a blown coverage, then Ben Watson
over the middle on a severe mismatch. Audibling out of a goal-line run, Brees found Marques Colston
by the left pylon for a one-yard touchdown, the duo’s second of the young game. Starting off the day by hitting 12 of his first 13 passes, Brees ably led his team to a 14-0 lead. Brees and the Saints embarked on a 17-play drive to finish off the opening half, as Snead and Watson remained heavily involved. A costly sack in the red zone forced New Orleans to settle for a field goal, but numerous third downs were converted to ensure a successful clock-killing drive. At the half, the Saints held a 17-10 lead. The Saints established some offensive momentum to open the second half by continuing to spread the ball around through the air, but a punt was forced from shallow Tampa territory. Brees utilized efficient short passing to run five more minutes off the clock and cap off the third period. The offense rewarded Tim Hightower
with a three-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 24-10 with a quarter and change to play. To open the final frame, a series of underneath passing set up a fourth-and-short in which the Saints elected to punt. Two first downs on the following possession were enough to burn 3:34 off the clock, but a pair of incompletions and a costly penalty kept the Saints a yard away from a first down, in which they chose to punt once more. Relying on the legs of the capable , if not flashy Tim Hightower
, the Saints were able to run out the last four minutes on the clock to secure a 24-17 victory. Brees was efficient on the day, taking advantage of mismatches in coverage and hitting his receivers in tight windows. The offense played well as a unit once an early 14-0 lead was established. Brees is just a mid-range QB1 based on volume for the season’s homestretch.
RB Tim Hightower
, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 85 - 1, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - Hightower began his busy day on the ground with successive carries for three yards. His next carry occurred much later in the drive, as he showed impressive burst up the middle for 12 quick yards. For the majority of the day, Hightower served as a reliable option between the tackles to keep the offense on schedule. None of his individual runs stood out much, but his 28 carries provided the consistency that New Orleans needed to supplement its relatively successful aerial attack. His most impressive trait was short-area burst, allowing himself to get to the second level on numerous occasions. Hightower’s well-earned touchdown came late in the third quarter, a powerful three-yard carry up the middle to put his team up two scores. His lone reception of the day came on a well-blocked screen to the right flat for 10 yards. Additionally, Hightower played a critical role in killing the clock with consistent chunk runs to bleed the clock once New Orleans established a 24-10 lead late in the third period. Hightower’s volume lends reliable RB2 value in most formats going forward.
RB C.J. Spiller
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 7 - 0 (3 targets) - Spiller’s first touch of the day came on a swing pass to the left flat on his team’s second offensive drive, but it netted a loss of three. He caught another swing pass to the opposite flat on the next series, picking up eight yards and a first down. Spiller took an inside handoff from the three yard-line later in the drive, and came within a single yard of scoring. Spiller’s third touch of the day was yet another swing pass to the left flat that went for two more uneventful yards. He lost a single yard on a carry off left tackle midway through the fourth. If there was ever a time for increased opportunity, Mark Ingram
’s injury would be the spark, but Spiller is simply in the midst of a lost season.
WR Willie Snead
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 122 - 0 (8 targets) - Snead’s first reception of his busy day came over the middle midway through the first quarter, as he sat down underneath to pick up six yards and set up a New Orleans punt. He stayed involved early on the following drive, running a short curl to the left flat for five easy yards. A few plays later, Snead inexplicably ran into wide open space up the left sideline for a 41-yard gain to convert a third-and-long. Late in the second quarter, Snead ran a deep crossing route off play-action to pick up 23 yards and set up his team in plus territory. He caught a 14-yard curl route two plays later, getting just enough to move the chains. Early in the third period, Snead ran a quick slant from the right sideline for 19 yards to break the century mark. Snead came within a yard of a first down midway through the fourth on his final catch of the day, taking a short screen to the right flat for 14 yards before falling to an impressive tackle of Lavonte David. He served as the offense’s best playmaker throughout the day and is a bankable WR2/3 commodity provided he’s playing at 100% health.
WR Marques Colston
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 36 - 2 (8 targets) - To finish off New Orleans’ first drive, Colston won quick inside leverage to the back of the end zone, providing a big window for Brees to lay in a three-yard touchdown pass. With his quarterback clearly changing the play at the line, Colston ran a flat route to the left sideline before making a nifty over-the-shoulder one-yard catch for his second touchdown of the day. The veteran receiver stayed involved early on the following drive, taking a seven-yard out route to the left sideline. Early in the third quarter, Colston caught a one-step slant for six yards. He stayed in the mix early into the fourth quarter, sitting down over the middle of the field for seven yards to set up a fourth-and-short. Probably his most important reception of the day, Colston out-jumped and outfought Alterraun Verner over the middle of the field for a 12-yard pickup to set up a first down midway through the fourth. Old-man Colston vultured two touchdowns in a complementary underneath role, but doesn’t hold any fantasy value.
WR Brandon Coleman
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (3 targets) - Coleman’s first reception came very late in the first half, a shallow slant from the left boundary that picked up six yards. Late in third quarter, Coleman ran a crossing route off play-action before making a nifty move after the catch to pick up 20 yards into enemy territory. His third and final catch of the day occurred when he came back to the football early in the final quarter to catch a wounded duck of a pass from Brees for six yards. He’s a distant fourth-option for Brees.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - On the third play of the day, Cooks ran a curl route from the right sideline for six yards to move the chains. Two plays later, Cooks ran up the left sideline for a 14-yard gain to set up third and short. The young receiver typically starts fast, and he looked to be on his way to a busy receiving day early. Cooks was targeted a few more times in the opening half, but didn’t earn a reception due to some errant throws up the left sideline. His final catch of the day occurred when he won inside leverage from the left slot before snagging a nine-yard gain between two Tampa defenders. After a busy first drive, Cooks went rogue for the majority of the game. He’s just a shaky WR2 in an inconsistent offense.
TE Ben Watson
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 70 - 0 (11 targets) - Watson’s first reception came on the fourth play of the day, a short two yard dump-off in the middle of the field off play-action. Just two downs later, Watson ran a wheel route up the left sideline for 26 yards to move his team into the redzone. Early in the second quarter on the successive drive, Watson ran a post route from the right slot for 19 yards to take the ball to the Tampa Bay three yard-line. Late in the first half, Watson snuck out of the backfield to catch a well-blocked screen pass for nine yards. The ball went back to the veteran tight end on the following play, as he leaped over his defender for seven yards near the left sideline to pick up a critical first down. Watson’s next reception came late in the third quarter when he ran a short stick pattern to the right seam, plucking the ball out of the air between two defenders for five yards. A second effort reaching over the sticks was enough for Ben Watson
late in the fourth quarter, as he took a rollout to the right flat for two yards to keep the game-ending drive intact. The reliable safety valve is a mid-range TE1 with a reasonably high floor.
QB Jameis Winston
, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 182 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 24 - 0 - Winston had a spotty day as a passer, completing 18 of 32 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Though he was only sacked once, the Tampa Bay offensive line did struggle some with protection, and Winston extended several plays with rollouts and scrambles. On the day, he had 3 rushes for 24 yards total, shaking some tackles on his way to 18 of those yards and a first down on a 2nd quarter scramble.
In the passing game, Winston struggled with accuracy at times. He overthrew some open receivers, but also had several drops from reliable targets. Winston nearly had an interception in the 3rd quarter on a play-action rollout. As he took off to the right side of the field, Winston threw the ball all the way across the field to Seferian-Jenkins, who was running a deep corner route. The pass was well off its mark and slipped through the arms of CB Brandon Browner. Winston finally found the end zone in the 4th quarter. He hooked up with Mike Evans
on a deep post route to put the Bucs inside the New Orleans 10 yard line, and then found slot receiver Humphries on a crossing route for a score on the next play. Winston was running right on a designed rollout on his touchdown pass, and had lots of success with rollout passes on the day.
RB Doug Martin
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 81 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - Martin had a great day statistically, considering his limited carries (11 for 81 yards and a TD). Tampa Bays fell behind by 14 points early, shifting the offense to a more pass-heavy game script. Martin scored on a beautiful 14 yard run in the 2nd quarter, taking a pitch to the right behind the lead blocking of fullback Lane and cutting back inside after breaking a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage. Martin's longest run of the day(24 yards) came on a pitch play to the right that Martin took up the sideline in the 4th quarter. He also recorded a 22 yard gain on his first carry of the 2nd half, a pitch to the left that he cut back up the middle untouched for the first 20 yards or so. Pitch plays were very successful for Martin in week 14; game flow just unfortunately limited his opportunities. Martin drew a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the New Orleans D after getting hit late, long after failing to secure a 2nd quarter pass target. Martin had a bad drop in the 3rd quarter on a play action pass out of the backfield, and secured his last target of the day for a short gain at the end of the 3rd quarter.
RB Charles Sims
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 10 - 0, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (8 targets) - Sims had a limited day on the ground, tallying 10 yards on 5 carries, but he led the team in receiving yardage. Sims lined up in the backfield and out wide throughout the game, catching mostly dumpoff passes and out routes from the backfield. Sims lined up out wide in a 5WR set in the 3rd quarter and caught a WR screen that he nearly broke for a huge play. Safety Jairus Byrd dove and was able to snag his foot and bring him down. Sims had a lot of green grass in front of him if he had avoided the tackle. Sims had a bad drop on a RB screen out of the backfield in the 4th quarter, following it up with a short reception from the WR position on the next play. He recorded his longest reception of the day in the 4th quarter, catching a short out route from the backfield and spinning out of a tackle for a 14 yard gain. He followed that play up with another reception out of the backfield for 10 yards. Sims got wide open down the right sideline late in the 4th quarter. He was being pursued by a slower linebacker in coverage and had separation and open field in front of him, but Winston overthrew him at a time when the Bucs desperately needed a touchdown.
RB Bobby Rainey
- Handled kickoff and punt return duties, mostly touchbacks and fair catches. Returned one kickoff for 31 yards. Did not record significant snaps on offense.
WR Mike Evans
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (4 targets) - Evans had a slow day despite Vincent Jackson
's injury, recording his first catch in the later minutes of the 3rd quarter for a short gain, and adding 2 more catches for a total of 3 for 39 yards on 4 targets. Evans made a spectacular leaping catch on a contested ball in the 4th quarter as Winston was scrambling and looking to keep a busted play alive.
The consistent theme with Evans this season is that there are always some bad plays to go with his spectacular moments. Evans was flagged for offensive pass interference in the 4th quarter, nullifying Russel Shepard's only catch of the day. He also drew an unnecessary roughness penalty for 15 yards a few plays later during the same drive. However, at the end of the drive, Winston drilled Evans on a deep post route for a 22 yard gain to set Tampa Bay up inside the Saints' 10 yard line. The Bucs scored on the next play.
WR Donteea Dye
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Dye saw some work after the Vincent Jackson
injury, finishing the day with 1 catch for 16 yards on 3 targets. Dye barely missed a high pass from Winston on a 2nd quarter deep ball that would have gone for a good gain. The pass was high and would have a been a very tough catch, but Dye was able to get both hands on it. Dye secured his only catch on a deep post at the end of the first half, as the Bucs attempted to march downfield with limited time for a field goal. Dye had a terrible drop late in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 10 as the Bucs attempted to drive and tie the game at 24. Dye was open and Winston hit him in the numbers for the first down, but the rookie receiver failed to secure the pass.
WR Adam Humphries
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 1 (3 targets) - Humphries caught 1 of 3 targets for 6 yards and Jameis Winston
's only touchdown of the day. His TD reception came on a shallow crossing pattern inside the New Orleans 10 yard line late in the 4th quarter as Winston ran right on a designed roll out. Humphries took off on the snap, heading across the formation from the left side to the right pylon and securing Winston's short pass for the touchdown.
Humphries a bad drop in the 2nd quarter negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty. He let the pass clang off of his hands on a short slant pattern.
WR Vincent Jackson
, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - V-Jax secured 1 target for 5 yards on the day before leaving in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury. He did not return to the game, though reports afterwards indicate he is not expected to miss a lot of time. Vjax had a huge gain on the first play of the game, catching a deep ball on play action, but the pass was negated by a holding penalty.
WR Russell Shepard
, 13 offensive snaps - Shepard played special teams and saw sparse snaps on offense. He secured his only target for a gain of 5, but the play was nullified by a Mike Evans
offensive PI penalty.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (6 targets) - ASJ snagged his first target on a quick slant route from the slot, split out to the right of the formation in the 1st quarter. He got open on a deep post route in the 1st quarter, but Winston sailed the ball high. ASJ drew a holding penalty on New Orleans CB Brandon Browner on a 2nd quarter corner route in the end zone. ASJ may have had a play on the ball if he had not been held. He had a beautiful diving catch on an out route in the 3rd quarter as QB Winston scrambled to the right side of the field and extended the play. ASJ had a clutch reception in the 4th quarter to convert 4th and 4, also drawing a facemask penalty to add another 15 yards to the gain and conversion
TE Cameron Brate
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Brate held down the second tight end spot, securing 2 of his 3 targets for 16 yards. He recorded his longest reception from the slot position, splitting out to the right on the first drive of the game and gaining 11 on a crossing route. Caught his second ball of the day at the end of the 1st half. The short reception on a quick out route helped set up a field goal before halftime.
TE Luke Stocker
, 21 offensive snaps - Brandon Myers
was again inactive as Stocker slid into the 3rd tight end spot behind ASJ and Brate. Stocker was primarily used as a blocker and on special teams. He did not receive any targets in the passing game.
Atlanta Falcons 0, Carolina Panthers 38
What you need to know
- With defensive tackle Paul Soliai out for multiple weeks, the Falcons have been incapable of stopping the run and it happened just at the time Atlanta faced a bevy of quality runners capable of gashing their unit. The Falcons gave up big plays to Jonathan Stewart
on the first drive and the run softened up the Falcons for two long touchdown receptions from Ted Ginn
. By the time the Falcons had its third offensive series Carolina was up 21-0. Atlanta earned yards on the ground when they ran up the middle and bounced the run outside, but Carolina was too fast for Atlanta’s outside zone. Atlanta continues to avoid taking shots down field in the passing games and it allows the defense to tee off on the ground game, creating a vicious cycle for Matt Ryan
, who got harassed into multiple sacks, two fumbles, and an interception. Atlanta’s offense has been found out as a one-man passing game lacking the pass protection for the coaching staff to feel comfortable going deep.
- Such was the Panthers' dominance that Cam Newton
, who to that point had tossed three touchdown passes, was allowed to sit in the fourth quarter. Newton's command of the offense and his precision passing were on show against an overmatched Atlanta defense.
picked up an injury in the first half, and did not play any snaps in the second half. However, he was on the sideline and appeared to be capable to return to the game if required.
had a scary moment when his knee buckled at an awkward angle in the end zone. The reaction of the player himself seemed to indicate it could be a serious injury, but fortunately Olsen was deemed fine and could have returned to the game.
The offensive line paved the way for a strong game from the running backs once again, and for the most part afforded Newton excellent pass protection. This unit plays well together and has such a variety of running plays that it is difficult to stop.
The Panthers' stifling defense performed terrifically and will keep this offense in favourable game scripts for the remainder of the season. The loss of starting cornerback Bene Benwikere to injured reserve will hurt, however.
QB Matt Ryan
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 34 - 224 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Ryan was limited to throwing the ball short for the first quarter and he was dumping the ball off fast to initial reads for minimal gains. He found Devonta Freeman
on a quick hitter up the middle in the second quarter against a corner blitz and then went for it with
on a back-shoulder seam route under the safety to convert a fourth down play. But Ryan was sacked by Kawann Short up the middle on a play beginning with a fake screen and the hit jarred the ball loose for a loss of 26, later forcing another punt. Ryan took another sack up the middle on 3rd down during the third series of the second quarter on third down. Then he got hammered up the middle on a blitz by Luke Kuechly to begin the second half on his first pass. Two plays later, Thomas Davis hit Ryan on 3rd and 2 and Atlanta was forced to punt. Ryan was sacked by Short again late in the third quarter after mounting a small drive nearing mid-field and fumbled it away a second time. With less than a minute in the third quarter, Luke Kuechly undercut an intermediate crossing route intended for Justin Hardy
for an interception. Atlanta reached the Carolina red zone once in this game and with Julio Jones
out on a fourth and goal from the six; Ryan found Roddy White
a yard shy of the end zone. From that point on, Sean Renfree
was put in the game to mop up this blow-out loss.
RB Devonta Freeman
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (5 targets) - The runner earned 21 yards on this second run, an attempt intended for left guard that he bounced outside thanks to a Roddy White
block inside. But this was by far his best play of the day. Luke Kuechly stopped Freeman on an outside zone play to the right just before Freeman reached the tight end’s block that would have sprung him into the secondary. He was stuffed again in the left flat on another outside zone during this third series. Once again, he was stuffed up the middle for no gain to begin the second quarter. At this point, Carolina had a commanding lead and Freeman was either a blocker or a receiver in the Falcons’ game script. He caught a pass up the middle against a corner blitz for a first down, but was stuffed again up the middle in the second series of the second quarter on 2nd and 10. Freeman made two good runs on the second series of the second half, showcasing his creativity to avoid penetration in the back field, but he fumbled the ball on a short pass up the middle when A.J. Klein stripped Freeman from behind and Carolina recovered. Fell on a circle route on 3rd and goal form the six in the fourth quarter.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - Coleman was stuffed for a loss of nearly two on an end around during the first drive where Roman Harper ran Coleman down. By the time he earned more opportunities, Atlanta was in the midst of a blow-out.
RB Patrick DiMarco
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Down 14-0, DiMarco’s first gain was a pass to the flat for five yards on the opening play of the third series. He was targeted again on 3rd and 8, but pressure got to Matt Ryan
and forced a hasty, inaccurate throw to end the second series with another punt. Down 21-0 at the end of the quarter, Ryan led off to DiMarco to the same flat for another positive gain. This was the extent of DiMarco’s production. He’s a predictable option that opposing defenses gladly give Matt Ryan
between the 20s because he’s not a big-play threat.
WR Julio Jones
, 8 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 88 - 0 (10 targets) - The receiver fumbled his first target, a short hitch in the left flat from the slot where Thomas Davis tackled and stripped the ball loose. The ball tumbled out of bounds. Josh Norman
successfully screened the ball from Jones on a 2nd and 8 slant from trail position. Norman covered Jones tightly in most matchups with the big receiver, even on completed passes like a 3rd and 7 hook route for a first down. His best play was a 46-yard gain in the second half where Jones ran through a tackle after the catch in the fourth quarter and put a hurting on CB Bene Benikere, who left the game after that play. It was the first route not against Norman where he had some room to run. Curiously, Jones was not in the game for a fourth quarter pass inside the six on 4th and goal, but with Atlanta down 38-0 it probably wasn’t a major issue.
WR Nick Williams
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (4 targets) - The reserve caught a deflected WR screen and took it 29 yards to get inside the six in the fourth quarter down 38-0. His other three catches went for a total of 11 yards in mop-up duty.
WR Roddy White
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (5 targets) - White is another player that defenses aren’t afraid of and they are alright with giving up targets between the 20s if necessary. White caught a shallow cross as the first read on 3rd and 6 for a short gain well shy of the marker while down 21-0 in the second quarter. Atlanta went for it up the right seam on a fourth-down attempt and White made the play near his back shoulder for the first down under the safety. Ryan then overshot an intermediate cross to White on the second series of the second quarter. Two plays later, Ryan hit White on a short in-cut for 14 yards. With Julio Jones
not in the game in the fourth quarter on a fourth-down pass inside the Carolina six, Ryan’s pass to White was a yard shy of the goal line.
: The rookie made a one-handed catch on a wide throw on a crossing route to earn a first down during the third series. The only other target he earned was an intermediate cross where he couldn’t outrun Luke Kuechly’s drop and the linebacker undercut the route for an interception. Until Hardy can demonstrate skill to win against defensive backs on-on-one, his good hands aren’t enough for him to become a fantasy option.
TE Jacob Tamme
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 26 - 0 (5 targets) - The tight end caught a 3rd and 7 pass in the right flat but Carolina stopped him immediately in the open field, ending their first series. He gained eight in the right flat on the second throw
QB Cam Newton
, 48 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 21 - 265 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0 - The league MVP candidate started off the contest as he finished the New Orleans one, firing precision passes and showing excellent command at the line of scrimmage. Cam Newton
's accuracy in particular stood out in this game, as he peppered his targets his passes behind an offensive line that, for the most part, protected him well. Newton saw a lot of pressure off his front side, and at times had to escape. One escape act ended in a loss of 10 yards, as the quarterback tried to do too much instead of simply throwing the ball away. Undeterred by the occasional pressure, Newton fired a beautiful touch pass to Greg Olsen
on a corner route to set the offense up for their first score, a short touchdown run for Jonathan Stewart
. Sensing the chance to build a strong lead, Newton fired another peach of a pass to Ted Ginn
Jr., who separated down the left sideline and hauled in a 74-yard touchdown pass. The ball was ideally placed for Ginn to run on to. Newton would go back to Ginn for his second touchdown pass, as the speedster bisected the Falcons' zone defense and got on top of the safeties, allowing Newton to lay the football into his path with another precision throw. Newton made it a trio of touchdown passes with another bullet pass, this time in the red zone. Turnover-free this season in this part of the field, Newton showed confidence as he fired a pass so that only his receiver, Ed Dickson
, could catch it. Dickson's tremendous effort to dive for the football made it possible, but the football was placed perfectly. Newton was fortunate a pass intended for Devin Funchess
was not intercepted after the rookie receiver appeared to be confused on the route. The Atlanta cornerback dropped the pass to the turf and could not make the play. Newton left the game for one play after appearing to hurt his hand, but showed no ill effects for the remainder of his time on the field. The coaching staff inserted Derek Anderson
in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, but Newton set the table for what was another impressive performance.
RB Jonathan Stewart
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 75 - 1, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Starting off strongly with a huge run behind a convoy of blockers, who created a terrific seal, Jonathan Stewart
set the tone early for the Panthers offense. Despite facing eight-man boxes, the quality of the blocks in front of him allowed Stewart to pick his way through traffic and gain positive yardage. He showed excellent vision on an inside give that was going nowhere; spotting the contain defender off left tackle had squeezed too far inside, Stewart bounced out the back door and turned it into a nice gain. His lone touchdown run came on a diving effort at the 1-yard line behind the interior of the Panthers offensive line, which bulldozed a path for the bullish back. Stewart picked up a slight foot injury at some point in the first half. With the game in hand, the coaching staff opted to sit him for the remainder of the game and he saw no snaps in the second half, paving the way for a committee of Fozzy Whittaker
and Mike Tolbert
RB Fozzy Whittaker
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 34 - 1, Rec: 1 - -6 - 0 (1 targets) - The forgotten back of the undefeated Panthers' backfield, Fozzy Whittaker
was the beneficiary of the injury to Jonathan Stewart
, seeing plenty of action in the second half. Whittaker's excellent vision and quickness of feet were evident on his touches, as he consistently shimmied his way around defenders to pick up positive yardage. His touchdown run off right tackle was a thing of beauty. Following his lead blockers - who sealed the lane perfectly - he turned on the jets and sprang into the end zone to finish strong.
RB Mike Tolbert
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - Involved early as a check-down option in the two-minute drill, Mike Tolbert
saw more action in the second half after Jonathan Stewart
was allowed to sit due to injury. Tolbert showed his trademark power and deceptive movement skills on his handful of touches, but most of his action came against an Atlanta defense playing out the string.
WR Devin Funchess
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (5 targets) - Playing a rotational role in the passing attack as he has most of the season, Devin Funchess
made a rookie mistake on a bubble screen. Cam Newton
threw the ball Funchess' way, when it seemed he was not running the correct route and was instead blocking downfield on a screen. The rookie was fortunate that the Falcons cornerback could not haul in the pass. Funchess made up for the error by hauling in a quick slant against tight coverage near the goal line, beating his man off the line with a nice stab step before boxing him out with his frame. Defensive pass interference was called on the play, but Funchess still made a strong catch with his hands.
WR Ted Ginn
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 120 - 2 (3 targets) - The recipient of two of Cam Newton
's three touchdown passes, Ted Ginn
exorcised some of the demons of his drops in New Orleans with this performance. An early red zone target saw Ginn run a slant route on the backside of the play as Newton rolled right; however, when Newton fired the pass in, it was well defended. Newton would soon find Ginn on a deep pass that went for a 74-yard score. Ginn got on top of the defensive back early and appeared to push off a little bit at the catch point in order to buy himself a yard. However, a defensive foul was called for illegal contact. Ginn needed only to turn on the afterburners and head for the end zone. Sensing blood in the water, the Panthers went back to Ginn on a deep route for his second touchdown reception. Against a two-deep look, Ginn bisected the safeties with a middle linebacker in trail coverage. The speedy receiver quickly separated from the underneath defender, allowing Newton to find him for what was an easy touchdown after the safety on Ginn's side of the field did not maintain his depth.
WR Jerricho Cotchery
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - Jerricho Cotchery
scooped a low pass for an impressive catch, his only one of the game. However, he saw plenty of action in a rotational role as a blocker and sealed well for a couple of Jonathan Stewart
carries. Overall, it was a day when the Panthers offense could afford to take their foot off the gas, limiting Cotchery's opportunities.
TE Greg Olsen
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 52 - 0 (4 targets) - Greg Olsen
connected well with Cam Newton
in the early stages against an overmatched Atlanta defense, with Olsen using his veteran savvy to find soft spots against the Falcons' zone and man defenses. Newton found Olsen with a dart over the middle for his first catch, which he rebounded with authority. Olsen was able to haul in a perfectly floated Newton pass on a flag pattern and establish himself as a runner before being brought down by contact; initially the play had been ruled a catch and fumble, but it was overturned. A scary moment for Olsen followed when, after the offense was set up near the goal line, Newton targeted him on a post pattern. Olsen's knee buckled at an awkward angle and his reaction seemed to indicate a serious injury. However, the tight end was seen warming up and looking spry at the beginning of the second half and was reportedly fine to return if needed. With the game in hand as it was, however, the coaching staff opted not to risk Olsen further.
Minnesota Vikings 20, Arizona Cardinals 23
What you need to know
- The offense looked much better with the shorter routes, but the team still isn’t putting much on Teddy Bridgewater
’s plate which limits everyone’s upside. That said, we’ve reached a point where the Vikings are seeing a lot of good defenses and it’s hurting Adrian Peterson
as well. Since blowing up Atlanta in Week 12, Peterson has amassed just 87 yards on the ground with five catches for 23 yards through the air and one touchdown overall. This should revers over the next two weeks against the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, but the fade is disappointing especially in the fantasy playoffs.
- With a win Sunday night against the Eagles (or an unlikely Seahawks loss earlier in the afternoon,) the Cardinals can clinch the NFC West, giving them their first division title since 2009. With the Seahawks finally hitting their stride as of late, and a Packers team still very dangerous despite their mid-season sputter, playoff seeding and home-field advantage will prove imperative if the Cardinals want to reach their ultimate goal and punch a ticket to Santa Clara. Coming off 10-days of rest and preparation, and the importance of the game very much on their minds, look for the Cardinals to be firing on all cylinders Sunday night.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 36 - 335 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0 - The best place to start with Teddy Bridgewater
’s performance is probably the last thing he did in that performance. On the final play of the game, Bridgewater was strip sacked on the Arizona 36 yard line on a slow developing play that ran contrary to almost everything the Vikings had done offensively earlier. This time, offensive coordinator Norv Turner called a slow developing play involving several drag routes which would have made it hard for the offense to make it out of bounds. With just 13 seconds left and no time outs, the team couldn’t afford to have a receiver brought down in the field of play, so Bridgewater was told not to turn the ball over. He was also told not to take a sack, but as he waited for the play to develop, Dwight Freeney blew up left tackle Matt Kalil with a spin move and took down the quarterback, knocking the ball away as he did. The Vikings had run a solid game plan for just over three quarters, finally having Bridgewater throw short routes on quick plays, something which seemed to baffle the Cardinals defense. The receivers continued to struggle any time the play called for a deeper route though, and the tough Cardinals secondary just didn’t give an inch. Still, for the majority of the game the Vikings hung in there with short passes. That changed in the last couple of drives, after the start of the fourth quarter. While they still threw short, the team mixed in more and more long shots to little effect since the coverage was good and the receivers couldn’t gain any separation. They settled back into the short-yardage offense leading to Mike Wallace
’s 7-yard touchdown with 4:55 left to play in the game. That play had Wallace running a shallow crossing route from the right side of the field to the left, with Stefon Diggs
running the same route in the opposite direction. The Vikings formation had the strength to the right, and the Cardinals rushed seven players which left just their four players in the secondary. Both safeties rotated to their left (the Vikings’ right side) with one corner pursuing Diggs on his route. The second corner was too slow picking up Wallace, and Bridgewater hit the receiver for an easy touchdown. During the last drive, Turner changed things up though. Mixing in longer (and slower) developing routes caused a sack, caused Bridgewater to check down more than once and threw off the rhythm the offense had developed. The good news is, the short and quick passing game is viable with Bridgewater and this offense. The bad news is we know Turner still loves deep routes that his receivers are unable to break free on.
RB Adrian Peterson
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 69 - 1, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (1 targets) - During the opening drive, Peterson ran hard and angry, averaging 9.5 yards a carry and capping it off with a touchdown and including a fantastic 21-yard run through the “2” hole which featured a pair of very nifty jump cuts. Peterson then showed great vision and a few nice moves to avoid or break tackles on his 9-yard touchdown run. After that though, Peterson was held up more often than not at the line of scrimmage and he gained just 31 yards on 19 carries with a 1.6 yards per carry average. He still broke a few 6 or 7 yard runs where he showed his ability to get skinny through a tight hole or catch the edge off tackle, but the Cardinals stacked the box on too many downs and hit him at or behind the line of scrimmage, which limited his overall impact for the second game in a row.
RB Matt Asiata
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (2 targets) - Only on the field for seven snaps, Asiata blocked for most of them and caught two passes on dumps from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
RB Zach Line
, 6 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (1 targets) - Line took a short 3-yard pass on a 1st and 20, turned upfield while shaking a block, then rumbled up the sideline for a first down and then some. He showed nice power and good balance on the play, his only target on the day.
RB Jerick McKinnon
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - McKinnon was in just a few times in relief of Adrian Peterson
and caught one shovel pass in that time.
WR Jarius Wright
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 51 - 0 (6 targets) - Wright’s biggest play of the day was just about the worst one possible, as he had the ball punched out of his grasp while he was trying to advance it after a catch in the second quarter. Luckily for him, the Cardinals didn’t take advantage of the turnover, but the Vikings were in field goal range and could have used that three points down the stretch.
WR Mike Wallace
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 42 - 1 (5 targets) - For the first time in a long time, Wallace and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
got on the same page and the result was a touchdown. On the 7-yard score, Wallace ran a shallow crossing route from the right side of the field to the left, which was mirrored by Stefon Diggs
going in the opposite direction. The The Cardinals had just four players in pass defense, which should have been enough to cover the three Vikings receivers on routes. However, both safeties rotated to their left (the Vikings’ right side) with one corner pursuing Diggs on his route. The second corner was too slow picking up Wallace, and Bridgewater hit the receiver for an easy touchdown.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (7 targets) - Whereas earlier in the year, Diggs and Teddy Bridgewater
seemed to share a brain and were always in sync. On Thursday, Diggs had to deal with Patrick Peterson and was not up to the task for the most part. Bridgewater also seemed to be so concerned with Peterson making a play that his throws were well off the mark. Bridgewater seemed to throw a little too high or a little too out of Diggs’ reach as the quarterback tried to make sure the pass wasn’t intercepted.
WR Adam Thielen
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Thielen had one catch on a short out route and nothing else. He isn’t a factor in most games, unless it was on special teams.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 67 - 0 (6 targets) - Rudolph has become one of Teddy Bridgewater
’s most reliable targets as the season has progressed and he caught all of his targets on Thursday night. Almost all of his receptions were short-to-medium distance and he did a solid job of hanging onto the ball even when he was hit. He often found himself dealing with safety Tyrann Mathieu, who while somewhat undersized is a physical and powerful player and who was able to limit Rudolph’s ability to add yards after the catch.
TE MyCole Pruitt
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (2 targets) - Pruitt made his few snaps count, most notably on a 32-yard catch with two minutes left in the first half. On the play, Pruitt ran a deep cross which split the defenders and allowed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
to deliver the ball to a wide open target. Pruitt had enough of a gap before he reached a defender that was able to add a few yards to the total.
TE Rhett Ellison
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 41 - 0 (1 targets) - Ellison continues to prove himself a tough runner after the catch. On his one reception, Ellison caught a short pass and turned upfield with a blocker leading the way. Once he lost that blocker, he ran through an arm tackle, jukes another defender, and rumbles for several more yards before being caught from behind.
QB Carson Palmer
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 35 - 310 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 3 - 0 - The box score for Palmer’s game on Thursday shows a game much in line with the MVP performances he has been putting together all season, but in reality Thursday was a much more disjointed effort than the stat line indicates. Palmer’s accuracy, pocket presence, and ability to spread the ball around were all on display, but struggled more than usual pushing the ball downfield, with both touchdown passes featuring significant yards after the catch. The 65-yard touchdown pass to John Brown
featured roughly 45 yards after the catch, while Michael Floyd
’s 42-yard score involved some 35-yards of YAC. This is not meant to denigrate Palmer’s performance, he routinely drove his team down for scoring opportunities, including a crucial drive late in the 4th-quarter for the eventual game-winning field goal, it just was a little bit sloppier than anyone anticipated with so many Viking defensive injuries. Nevertheless, playing on a Thursday prevents proper preparation, but Palmer was able to overcome the obstacles and some less than stellar pass-protection to walk away with a crucial win in a tight NFC playoff race.
RB David Johnson
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 92 - 0, Rec: 5 - 31 - 0 (7 targets) - In his second start, Johnson showed impressive patients in reading his blocks and the strong, explosive running we have begun to get used to. For much of the game Johnson outplayed his counterpart, Adrian Peterson
, and was aided by impressive run blocking from the left side of his offensive line all evening long. Johnson came close to the end zone twice on Thursday, first dropping an easy pass after an angle-route out of the backfield that would have led to a walk-in score, and then later in the game going down on a shoe-string tackle at the 2-yard line that was initially ruled a score. That play, a 24-yard run which was Johnson’s longest of the night, highlighted all his best attributes, patiently waiting for his blocks to set up before exploding around the edge and down the sideline with near break-away speed. Johnson once again came up just short of the 100-yard mark, but impressed in nearly every other way. In addition to mostly showing off his excellent receiving abilities, Johnson never once put the ball on the turf, his Achilles heal all season long. Despite the injuries at the position, the Cardinals run game has not appeared to skip a beat with Johnson filling in.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 41 - 0 (6 targets) - Despite being widely considered the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL, it is an odd occurrence when Larry Fitzgerald
’s biggest highlight of a game comes not on a spectacular catch, but from a demolishing block. Fitzgerald had fairly pedestrian numbers in the passing game, and even failed to secure the type of difficult catch late in the game that he has forever been known for, but on Michael Floyd
’s 42-yard touchdown reception, Fitzgerald made his mark on the game and the Vikings secondary. In a likely mistake, both Fitzgerald and Floyd ended up in the exact same spot, running out routes to the first down marker on the sideline with Fitzgerald having just a bit more depth than Floyd. Palmer’s pass looked to target both receivers, but it was Floyd who caught it and turned up field with Fitzgerald in front of him. Fitzgerald drove the Vikings defender 10-yards before tossing him into the ground, assisting Floyd in scoring untouched.
WR Michael Floyd
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 102 - 1 (9 targets) - While Fitzgerald stole the highlight on Floyd’s biggest play of the night, Floyd was undoubtedly the highlight of the receiving corps on Thursday. Floyd led the team in targets on his way to collecting over 100-yards for the 4th time in his last 5 games, making important chain-moving catches and showing off some impressive hands and body control on a few sideline throws. Finally healthy and fully incorporated into the offensive game plans, Floyd is showing off the potential that has had Cardinals fans so excited with a great deal more consistency than ever before. If Floyd can ever go a stretch of games without catching the injury bug that has found him at seemingly the most inopportune times, then the sky is the limit for the still-young wide receiver.
WR John Brown
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 78 - 1 (5 targets) - After weeks of dealing with hamstring issues, a fully healthy John Brown
has gone back to his playmaking ways, using his incredible speed to make his mark on a game in a single play. On Thursday, Brown did just that to provide the Cardinals with their first touchdown of the evening. Lined up in the slot to Palmer’s right, with the team at their own 35-yard line, Brown sold his route as a deep-in towards the middle of the field but after a jab-step inside, broke his route to the sideline for a deep-out route. In that process, Brown managed to shake free of his defender leaving him wide open for Palmer to find with ease, despite a broken down pocket. Much like on Floyd’s touchdown, Brown had his own end zone escort in the form of fellow speedster J.J Nelson. As Brown scampered down the sideline, Nelson provided the necessary downfield blocking to free Brown from both of the Vikings would-be tacklers, giving Brown a clear path into the end zone. Brown accumulated over 83% of his yards in the game on that one 65-yard touchdown play.
TE Darren Fells
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (4 targets) - The addition of Jermaine Gresham
late in the offseason may have in part prevented Fells from having the breakout season many predicted for him (not to mention the tremendous receiving corps, and quality run-game,) in his absence the last few weeks Fells has shown himself to be the quality outlet those predictions were based on. Big-framed and athletic, Fells provides Palmer with an impressive catch radius to find as a last read, and Fells by and large has made the most of those plays. His 43-yards outgained Larry Fitzgerald
, and his 26-yard catch and run ended up being the Cardinals 3rd longest play from scrimmage. The Cardinals very much could use Gresham’s return as a blocker, especially in the run game, but Fells has proven himself more than capable of handling the bulk of the receiving targets and making the most of them.
Buffalo Bills 20, Philadelphia Eagles 23
What you need to know
- The Eagles knew exactly how to gameplan for the Bills' offense. They employed a "bend but don't break" approach and it worked just enough get the Eagles the win. Tyrod Taylor
had one of his best rushing games on the ground and a decent game through the air but his receivers were never open enough for him to complete a large portion of his passes. LeSean McCoy
was great once again running the ball and was prolific receiving as well but the only rushing TD of the day for the Bills went to Mike Gillislee
. Sammy Watkins
is finally getting the amount of targets he asked for earlier in the season but defenses are keying in on him. Charles Clay
left the game in the first quarter and the Bills need him to be healthy if they want to somehow sneak into a Wild Card spot.
- It wasn't pretty but winning NFL games isn't a beauty contest. After shocking the New England Patriots on the road in Week 13, the Eagles returned home as slim favorites over the Buffalo Bills. Despite failing to score a touchdown in the second half, Chip Kelly's crew was able to hold onto a three-point lead for their second consecutive win. They started strong by moving the ball down the field, mostly on the strength of their running backs, and punched in a score from a yard out to take an early 7-0 lead. But then stumbled to three consecutive three-and-outs. Fortunately, the Bills special teams unit coughed up a punt and the Eagles retained possession, of which they were able to cash into another touchdown and regain the lead. But it would be the last time they visited the end zone. Their second half possessions went field goal, punt, turnover, punt, field goal, punt. Had their defense not been playing well enough to keep the Bills out of the end zone, including a game-ending interception, this may have been an ugly loss. They also got a lot of help from the Bills' 15 penalties, particularly those that came on third-and-long situations. Overall, the offense looked improved with a core of healthy running backs and solid pass protection from the offensive line. Now with a record of 6-7, the Eagles are tied for first place.
QB Tyrod Taylor
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 36 - 268 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 8 - 53 - 0 - Taylor had his best scrambling game since the very beginning of the season. Almost every time he decided that it was necessary to get upfield with the ball, he chunked the Eagles for good gains. The Eagles seemed to give Taylor the space on those runs in order to prevent his deep balls. When passing deep, it looked like Taylor's targets were always covered by a safety. Some great touch throws, including Watkins' TD, were as much as you could ask from a QB. Even Taylor's tendency to sail the ball on his receivers was not as evident today. The problem was the aforementioned safety coverage. Even with fine passes from Taylor, the Eagles' defense was good enough to prevent completions. And on the Bills last play of the game, Taylor was not able to step into the throw because of the pocket collapsing and the sailed ball went right into the safety's hands.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 64 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 74 - 0, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (7 targets) - In his "revenge game", McCoy was everywhere. His 20 carries were by far the most by any player on either team and he was tied for second in targets for the Bills. He was hard to tackle and displayed good burst, two things we've known about McCoy for a while now. He had 22 yards brought back to penalties which when added to his stat line show some very respectable numbers against a Philadelphia defensive line that made good plays. In what was probably the most time spent on a play for the smallest gain, McCoy ran east-west for a while trying multiple times to get through a hole in the line. Each time he tried to move forward he was rebuffed so he tried a different hole. Eventually he made it to an edge and was able to cut upfield. But even McCoy could not defeat the defensive line all the time; once he was tackled after having the ball for less than a second.
RB Mike Gillislee
, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 24 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Gillislee only had three carries but he will remember his TD run for a long time. He mainly had to follow his blockers to a big hole and make just one slight cut but it was enough to score. LeSean McCoy
is by far and away the only trusted (and healthy) running back; it would be very surprising if Gillislee was involved any further in this offense.
WR Sammy Watkins
, 73 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 5 - 81 - 1 (12 targets) - Throughout the game, Tyrod Taylor
force-fed Watkins the ball. Watkins was consistently beating his corner badly but the safety was shading over. On his TD it didn't matter; Watkins outran the corner and made the catch before the safety could hit him. Even in double coverage Watkins always seemed to have a chance. However, for much of the game the safety was able to make a play on the ball. Other than a dropped pass that was called back for an offensive penalty anyway, Watkins did very well considering the attention the defense was paying to him. Watkins' best ability in this game may have been taking up defensive players for Robert Woods
to run free.
WR Robert Woods
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 106 - 0 (7 targets) - Woods had his most yards all season against the Eagles with 106. He was able to get himself open with Sammy Watkins
drawing double coverage on the other side of the field. Woods did have a fumble being tackled along the sideline but luckily the ball rolled out of bounds. Tyrod Taylor
trusted Woods enough to throw him the ball on third down on the Bills' possible game-winning drive and Woods did beat his defender; however, a combination of a safety over top and the pocket collapsing onto Taylor ended both the play and the game with an interception.
WR Chris Hogan
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - Hogan had five targets but could never seem to shake his coverage for big plays. Most significantly, Hogan made an athletic catch in the endzone versus tight coverage but was pushed out of bounds while in the air. Blame can partially be put on Tyrod Taylor
for not leading Hogan more inbounds but there was not a lot of room between Hogan and the defender.
TE Charles Clay
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Unfortunately for both Clay and the Bills, Clay left the game against the Eagles in the first quarter and did not return. The Bills had 36 passing attempts plus a few more negated by penalty; they were clearly missing their second best receiving target. His value for the remainder of the season will depend on the severity of the injury.
TE Chris Gragg
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Gragg replaced Clay when he went down in the first quarter but only received two targets over the course of the game. If Clay is out, Gragg will be the starting tight end. However, his only relevant games were the games in which E.J. Manuel was the starting quarterback.
QB Sam Bradford
, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 38 - 247 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 3 - 0 - Sam Bradford
had a solid afternoon against a Bills' secondary missing its best player. His first pass attempt was a perfect 42-yard bomb to Riley Cooper
, but Cooper wasn't able to secure the ball and the ruling of a catch was overturned. He then connected on his next four including a 21-yard laser to Zach Ertz
. The highlight of the game came on their fourth series. After two consecutive holding penalties pushed them into a 1st-and-30 scenario, Bradford dialed up a long ball by stepping up into the pocket and hitting Nelson Agholor
in perfect stride for a 53-yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw that demonstrated both deep ball accuracy and pocket awareness. It also helped that Agholor finished his route and found a soft spot between two defenders. The rest of Bradford's day was comprised mostly of dink-and-dunk short passes, with the exception of a couple of long balls. His 41-yarder to Ertz late in the fourth was a pass behind the line of scrimmage, of which Ertz did the rest. When it was all said and done, Bradford connected on 60.5 percent of his passes with one touchdown to one interception. The interception should be credited to Brent Celek
. The throw was somewhat high but the placement was good. Celek had the ball ripped out of his hands by a defender after initially catching it. It was otherwise mistake-free football from the Eagles' passer, with exception an ugly sack right before the final two-minute warning. Working backwards, Bradford chose not to throw the ball away and instead occurred a 15-yard loss on third down with his team only up by three. His defense bailed him out a few plays later with an interception to end the game.
RB Ryan Mathews
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 38 - 0, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Active for his first game since Week 10, and with some uncertainty regarding DeMarco Murray
's workload, Ryan Mathews
chipped in 15 total touche - more than any other Eagles' running back. Unfortunately, those touches were met with poor run-blocking, and he wasn't used in any goal line packages, which were a rarity for the Eagles in this game. He ended up playing fewer snaps than both Murray and Sproles on his way to unspectacular box score.
RB DeMarco Murray
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - After all the talk of DeMarco Murray
being relegated to fourth string and possibly not even being active for this game, he ended up playing the second most snaps among running backs and handled the second most carries. All told, it wasn't a great day rushing for the Eagles with the exception of a few highlights. Only one of those highlights belonged to Murray when he cut and pounded ahead for a seven yard gain. The rest of his day was a combination of a few nice four-yard carries, accompanied with six carries for three yards or less. Overall, he looked effective and decisive. The offensive line struggled to make much room for any of their backs.
RB Darren Sproles
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - Darren Sproles
was named the starter against the Bills and he immediately delivered. On his first carry deep in Bills' territory, Sproles blasted ahead for a 15 yard gain and came up just short of the goal line. He punched in the score from one yard out on his next carry. Even though he had fewer carries than both DeMarco Murray
and Ryan Mathews
, Sproles was easily the most effective. His short distance acceleration and burst fits perfectly within Kelly's scheme. He also had a great punt return midway through the second half that set the Eagles up on the Bills' side of the 50. He didn't contribute much as a receiver, but ultimately played the most snaps among running backs (albeit by a thin margin).
WR Nelson Agholor
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 62 - 1 (6 targets) - Nelson Agholor
flashed what he is capable of on Sunday. Early in the first half he closed out a great route by beating his man and finding soft spot between two defenders. Sam Bradford
delivered a perfect ball for a 53-yard touchdown - the first of Agholor's professional career. It should be noted that the Bills top cover corner wasn't active for this game, but it was still good to see what the rookie can do when his quarterback is playing well and the offensive line is protecting well. He didn't get much going after that touchdown. He dropped a third down pass early in the game, and had a ball knocked out of his hands on another third down pass late in the game. His six targets were tied for second most on the team.
WR Riley Cooper
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (6 targets) - Riley Cooper
tied Nelson Agholor
for the most targets among wide receivers. His first target was a beautiful 42-yard bomb, but the ball hit the ground as he was trying to secure it (originally called a catch but overturned after a Bills' challenge). He made some nice grabs later in the game, picking up three first downs on his way to 9.3 yards per catch. His worst part of the day came when he was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on a punt return that set up the Bills in Eagles territory late in the third quarter.
WR Josh Huff
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (3 targets) - Josh Huff
played the third most snaps among receivers and contributed a nice 18 yard catch-and-run in which stiff-armed one defender to the ground and fought pass another one. He also fumbled the ball in the process but was lucky to be out of bounds. His only other reception came late in the first half on a perfect 10-yard pass from Sam Bradford
for a first down. Now that Miles Austin
has finally been released, we should see more of Huff.
TE Zach Ertz
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 98 - 0 (7 targets) - Zach Ertz
led all Eagles players in yards not counting the quarterback. The highlight of the day came when he caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage, turned up field and trucked the first would be tackler to the ground, then carried another defender for about five yards before finally being brought down at the Buffalo 18. It was perhaps the biggest play of the game as it came on a third down late in the fourth with the Eagles tied 20-20. It could have also been called back when it looked as if Josh Huff
illegally picked a defender on the play, setting up an open lane. In any case, Ertz was all over the defense in this game, catching five of his team-high seven targets and picking up the second most receiving yards of his career. He hasn't visited the end zone much this season, with only one touchdown to his name, but he's a major asset in Chip Kelly's offense.
TE Brent Celek
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Brent Celek
's only noteworthy play came when had a ball ripped out of his hands by a defender resulting in an interception for his quarterback. The throw was a touch high but still in a good spot. He initially caught it and had control when the defender was able to jump the possession before Celek could come down with it.
Indianapolis Colts 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 51
What you need to know
- The Colts offense is listless with Matt Hasselbeck
at quarterback, and we saw that again on Sunday. There have been a few isolated incidences where the Colts have been able to move the ball, but overall, this season has been clear. The Colts have been especially bad in the red zone with Hasselbeck behind center, and they kicked three field goals in the red zone on Sunday. Frank Gore
’s usage will remain high (but touchdown dependent) and T.Y. Hilton
continues to make plays, but everybody else’s fantasy production will continue to suffer until Andrew Luck
returns. Hasselbeck’s poor pocket awareness and imprecise ball placement are simply too much for an offense with an inconsistent offensive line to overcome.
- It was a tale of two halves for the offense – Bortles especially. All of the skill position players were extremely productive and made huge plays seemingly every time they touchded the ball. But in the first half, Bortles was horribly inaccurate and spotted the Colts 6 points on a goofed fumbled snap. His first pass in the second half went for an 80 yard touchdown, and from there the rout was on.
QB Matt Hasselbeck
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 35 - 252 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0 - Another week, another reminder of what Matt Hasselbeck
is. The strong performance in the second half of the team’s win over Tampa Bay in Week 12 seems like an age ago. The 40-year-old backup quarterback is playing like a 40-year-old backup at this point, and what’s happening should be no surprise. Hasselbeck has been especially bad in the red zone, where the Colts have consistently wasted opportunities this season. His passer rating of 66.8 in the red zone this season is one of the league’s worst, only Sam Bradford
, Ryan Mallett
and Nick Foles
have worse (for QBs with at least 10 RZ attempts). On Sunday, the Colts went 0-for-3 in the red zone, and Adam Vinatieri
kicked field goals of 25, 21 and 32 yards. Hasselbeck did suffer a rib injury in the fourth quarter, and his status for next week is currently unknown.
QB Charlie Whitehurst
, 14 offensive snaps, Pass: 2 - 8 - 8 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - If Matt Hasselbeck
’s injury is serious Charlie White
hurst will be forced to start against the Texans on Sunday. He replaced Hasselbeck for the majority of the fourth quarter on Sunday, the second consecutive game he’s finished for Indianapolis. He was spectacularly awful in both opportunities, however, and holds no fantasy value.
RB Frank Gore
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 60 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (5 targets) - There may not be a more sympathetic figure in Indianapolis than Frank Gore
right now, who has been solid all season, but held back by the Colts’ quarterback and offensive line issues. Gore’s numbers weren’t spectacular on Sunday, but he ran well against a stout Jacksonville front, especially considering Matt Hasselbeck
’s inability to provide any threat whatsoever through the air. Gore’s workload remains high, however, and if Luck returns at any point, Gore’s opportunities for touchdowns will dramatically rise.
RB Dan Herron
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Out-snapped and out-produced by Zurlon Tipton
, Daniel Herron seems to have slipped into a timeshare (at best) for the backup running back role. Unable to make any big plays through the air or on the ground, Herron’s unspectacular performance ensured that he’ll continue to share snaps with Tipton for the foreseeable future.
RB Zurlon Tipton
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 4 - 50 - 0 (5 targets) - Out-snapping and out-producing Daniel Herron on Sunday, Tipton put forth his case for the backup running back spot with a 50-yard receiving performance, though he had just one carry. Tipton had 14 snaps to Herron’s 12, and was much more productive, particularly as a receiver. It really just ensures that neither will be usable fantasy assets as they split the role.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 132 - 0 (7 targets) - Though the Colts’ offense was once again stuck in neutral on Sunday, T.Y. Hilton
was able to produce. As has been the case too often this year, Hilton was the only player able to make a play through the air, with a spectacular leaping catch and run for 57 yards in the first half. Even without that play, he would have led the Colts in receiving, even with Matt Hasselbeck
’s struggles leading to just four catches for the speedy Hilton. Hilton is currently 10th among all wide receivers in yards this season, and is the only receiver in the league with at least 40 catches to average at least 17 yards per reception. Despite issues at quarterback, Hilton has produced all season as a WR1 and is one of the league’s premier deep threats. His ceiling remains sky-high when Andrew Luck
is healthy, whether that is this season or in 2016.
WR Andre Johnson
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - The veteran receiver continued his consistently poor season on Sunday with his fifth consecutive game with less than 50 receiving yards (a feat he’s accomplished just twice this year). Johnson’s role as the two-or-three-short-yardage-receptions-per-game receiver has been pretty constant this year, and he should not be on standard fantasy rosters at this point.
WR Donte Moncrief
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 52 - 0 (10 targets) - Moncrief continued is inconsistent second year with just his fifth 50-yard performance of the year, most of which came in the second half with the Colts down double-digits. Held to just nine yards in the first half, Moncrief reeled in a 33-yard catch and a 10-yard catch in the second half, but the Jacksonville secondary should have been more vulnerable. For example, Moncrief missed a huge opportunity for a big play down the right sideline in the second quarter, but couldn’t track the high-arcing pass, and it went right through his outstretched hands. Still, Moncrief had two of his best performances against the Jaguars this season, totaling 127 yards in two games. Against the Texans, the Colts’ next opponent, Moncrief has not had that kind of success, catching one pass for three yards in their Week 5 matchup.
WR Phillip Dorsett
, 25 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Despite being on the field for 26 snaps in his return from injury, the Colts’ first-round pick saw just two targets and zero receptions. Dorsett’s injury and the Colts’ shaky quarterback situation has hurt his development, and he’s currently little more than a deep threat, something that’s completely wasted with Matt Hasselbeck
running the offense.
WR Griff Whalen
, 8 offensive snaps - With Phillip Dorsett
back in the mix, Whalen saw his role diminish, with just eight snaps and zero targets on Sunday. Once a deep-league waiver-wire add, Whalen should be unrostered at this point in the season.
TE Dwayne Allen
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - -3 - 0 (3 targets) - Dwayne Allen
’s surprising lack of involvement this season continued on Sunday, with a six-yard catch and a loss of nine on a screen. The screen play was particularly bad because he was also penalized for holding on the play. Allen is unusable as a fantasy asset.
TE Coby Fleener
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - Though Matt Hasselbeck
did miss a wide-open Fleener down the left sideline early in the game, Fleener’s lack of production is to be expected with the season he has had. Still, the Colts had three red zone opportunities in this one, and Fleener didn’t even get a target. With the Colts offense looking listless, so is Fleener’s fantasy outlook.
QB Blake Bortles
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 30 - 250 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 17 - 1 - Bortles took some bad sacks in the first half, especially in the two-minute drill where he didn’t notice a late blitzer and fumbled after the team had been driving downfield. He also contributed to spotting the Colts a touchdown when he dropped a slightly off target shotgun snap deep in his own territory, and the Colts recovered in the endzone. He hrew a touchdown pass on his first play of the second half, a beautiful corner route into a very tight window to Allen Hurns
, where Hurns broke the tackle and took it 80 yards. With a corner underneath and a safety right over the top, this was a high-degree difficulty throw – one that most quarterbacks wouldn’t even attempt. From there, Bortles was patient, accurate, and efficient, with his most impressive play being a strike to Rashad Greene
after making multiple subtle movements in the pocket to buy time and find a platform to throw from. He scored his rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak after a Colts interception was returned to the one very late in the game.
RB Denard Robinson
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 75 - 1, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Robinson was electric in this game, starting the day off with a 15 yard run that was unfortunately negated by a holding penalty. He subbed in for an injured Yeldon again in the third and seemed to go for 10+ yards almost every time he touched the ball in the run or pass game. He made up for the negated 30 yarder in the first half with a 30 yard run in the second, where he weaved through both the first and second level. He also displayed more violence in finishing his runs and delivering the blow to the tackler than I’ve ever seen from him in the NFL. He was rewarded for his work with a one-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 62 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Yeldon made a statement very first drive – he got solid blocking running to the right side on the first level and broke tackles on the second level to break off two 10+ yard runs. Yeldon was getting big runs almost every time he touched the ball. As explosive as Robinson was after replacing Yeldon when he exited the game with injury in the third quarter, Yeldon still finished the game as as the leading rusher.
WR Allen Hurns
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 105 - 1 (4 targets) - Hurns started the rout in this game, taking the very first pass of the second half to the house. He ran a corner route and broke the defensive back’s tackle (contact came almost immediately after the catch), and outran the defense for 80 yards. He also started the game off with a back-shoulder fade for a nice gain on the first drive. Bortles also tried to throw an endzone fade to him, but it was well defended by Vontae Davis.
WR Rashad Greene
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Greene made his second huge special teams play of the season, returning a punt back for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
WR Marqise Lee
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - Lee was once again awful. He dropped his first two targets – one an off-target screen that was Bortles fault,. The second one was blatant drop on a hitch. After the dropped hitch, they went right back to him on a slant in the hurry up, and he broke a tackle and got some nice YAC. He also misjudged a well-thrown deep ball up the sideline that probably would have gone for a touchdown, but at least drew pass interference on the play to put them in the redzone.
WR Allen Robinson
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 1 (4 targets) - Robinson was shut out in the first half and through most of the third quarter, but made his first (and only) touch count, scoring on a filthy double move from the slot in the redzone for a four yard touchdown.
TE Julius Thomas
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 54 - 1 (7 targets) - Thomas was steadily involved in the offense in terms of targets throughout the day. He had a big catch-and-run in the two minute drill on a slant where he was lined up in the slot, 30 yard gain. He got targeted multiple times throughout the drive he ended up scoring on. His touchdown came inside the five where the Jaguars split him out wide on the backside and let him run a slant, where he could just use his body to box out the defensive back for an easy touchdown.
Seattle Seahawks 35, Baltimore Ravens 6
What you need to know
- The Seattle Seahawks have now won six of their last seven games pushing for an NFC wild card bid. Russell Wilson
continued his historic stretch throwing another five touchdown passes. Three to Doug Baldwin
and two to Tyler Lockett
respectively in their Week 14 win against the Ravens. The Seahawks lost running back Thomas Rawls
to a season ending ankle injury in the first quarter and DuJuan Harris
took over as the primary early down back, not Fred Jackson
- It was a valiant effort by Jimmy Clausen
in a tough spot against a Seattle Seahawks team peaking at the right time. Clausen threw for 274 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception in Week 14. The Ravens were shut out in the second half and were completely dominated at the line of scrimmage all night not getting anything going on the ground. Kamar Aiken
led the team in receiving yards with 90, a new season high. Buck Allen was ineffective as a runner between the tackles and finished with just 14 yards although he added 44 through the air.
QB Russell Wilson
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 32 - 292 - 5 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Russell Wilson
stayed red hot in Week 14 against the Ravens in route to yet another historic effort by a Seahawks quarterback. He threw for 292 yards on 23-of-32 pass attempts with 5 touchdowns. Wilson has been dominant as a pocket passer but what goes unheralded is the improvement the offensive line has made in pass protection. Wilson was the first person to give them credit after the game stating, “And the offensive line is giving me enough time to make those decisions and get the ball out on time.” In their best stretch of the season Wilson has proved if he has time to sit back and make plays, even with a depleted backfield, he can give this team an opportunity to win games. Seattle scored a touchdown on their first possession on an 80-yard drive capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to rookie Tyler Lockett
. Wilson out in the shotgun had a ton of time in the pocket and found Lockett all alone in the back of the end zone. Off of a fumble recovery late in the second quarter Wilson would throw his second touchdown of the day two plays later to Doug Baldwin
. It was a 14-yard touchdown pass where Baldwin was able to beat one-on-one coverage in the slot and stretch the ball across the goal line being tackled from behind. Wilson found Baldwin a second time, wide open, to start the second half. He went 4-for-5 on an 80-yard drive. Possibly his best throw of the game came in the fourth quarter when he hit Tyler Lockett
in stride for a 49-yard touchdown down the right sideline. He has been playing with unparalleled confidence and accuracy and it showed on this play. His final touchdown pass came off yet another Ravens turnover when he hit Baldwin for the 16-yard score that looked way too easy out of the shotgun. Wilson is now the first Seattle quarterback to throw five touchdown passes twice in a season as well as throw at least three touchdowns in four consecutive games.
RB DuJuan Harris
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 42 - 0 - DuJuan Harris
was largely unimpressive in relief of Thomas Rawls
season-ending ankle injury managing just 2.3 yards per carry and losing a fumble in the red zone. He finished the game with 42 yards on 18 carries. He did not register a reception in the passing game as that work went to veteran Fred Jackson
. His longest run of the day was for just six yards. Harris is a noticeable drop from Rawls for the Seahawks on a talent perspective. Rawls gashed the Ravens for 47 yards on the first drive where Harris managed just 42 yards the entire game in relief though the Ravens rush defense ranks 11th in the NFL
RB Fred Jackson
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 15 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (4 targets) - Veteran Fred Jackson
only received eight touches for 23 total yards against the Ravens even with rookie Thomas Rawls
going down with a season-ending ankle injury. DuJuan Harris
in Week 14 out touched him 8-18 though he served as Seattle’s primary passing down back. He had four targets in his change-of-pace role though contributing just one catch for eight yards through the air.
RB Thomas Rawls
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 44 - 0 - Just a devastatingly tough break for rookie Thomas Rawls
and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. Rawls went down with a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter after already gaining 47-yards on Seattle’s first drive of the game. With the Seahawks in the red zone a Ravens defender fell on his ankle and though he was able to walk off the field under his own power, he was limping badly to the sideline.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 0 (8 targets) - Though an inconsistent fantasy receiver this season, Jermaine Kearse
had a nice day against the Ravens in Week 14. He had seven receptions on eight targets for 74 yards in one of his best games of late. His long pass of the game was for 20 yards and was involved consistently moving the offense down the field.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 82 - 3 (9 targets) - Wide receiver Doug Baldwin
continues to be featured in the Seattle offense down Jimmy Graham
and now Thomas Rawls
. He had six catches for 82 yards and another three touchdowns in a Week 14 win against the Baltimore Ravens. He has a staggering eight touchdowns in the last three weeks with quarterback Russell Wilson
funneling him passes as the team’s primary red-zone threat. He had nine targets against the Ravens and now has 40 total targets in his past five games since the bye, totaling nine touchdowns over that span. Eight of those touchdowns have come in the past three weeks and Baldwin won consistently in the slot against Ladarius Webb. He scored on plays of 14, 22, and 16 yards and is the clear number-one target for Wilson going forward. Baldwin was wide open on two of his scores coming off turnovers and beat Webb in one-on-one coverage before being tackled at the goal line on his first. The Seattle offense as a whole has changed their approach to shorter routes of late. The past three weeks before this game Baldwin caught passes averaging just 5.4 yards passed the line of scrimmage. Week 14 he spent more time in the intermediate game with passes caught at an average of 11.2 yards downfield. Baldwin is the first player with eight touchdowns in a three game span since Drew Bennett
WR Tyler Lockett
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 104 - 2 (7 targets) - Rookie Tyler Lockett
was electric for the Seahawks in Week 14 piling 104 yards and two touchdowns off six receptions. He was targeted seven times in this one with Russell Wilson
going off for a fourth straight game. The injury to Jimmy Graham
has given Lockett an opportunity to be more than just a return and gadget play threat in this offense. He now has four touchdowns in the Seahawks last four games and has been targeted 22 times over that stretch. His first touchdown pass came on the first drive of the game and was for 8-yards with Wilson out of the shotgun. Off a great timing throw from Russell Wilson
, Lockett would score a second time in the fourth quarter catching a ball in stride down the right sideline. He beat cornerback Ladarius Webb badly for the 40-yard score. He’s clearly a dynamic threat with the football and can stretch the field effectively for this offense.
TE Luke Willson
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Tight end Luke Willson
was not featured in Week 14, catching just one ball for eight yards. He had just two targets in this game as Seattle continues to ignore the tight end position for the most part and funnel their offense through Doug Baldwin
and Tyler Lockett
QB Jimmy Clausen
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 40 - 274 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0 - The Baltimore Ravens are now relying on their third-string quarterback signed just three weeks ago. Jimmy Clausen
finished the day completing 23-of-40 passes for 274 yards with one interception and zero touchdowns. It’s a tough spot for someone of Clausen’s skill level and kept the game close until the second half. He did not throw a touchdown in this game but did only take one sack and protected the football well outside of his lone interception. He was intercepted by Richard Sherman in second half when him and wide receiver Chris Matthews
were clearly not on the same page. Baltimore is decimated by injury at the wide receiver position but hung in there in the first half. Clausen went 4-for-7 in the first quarter connecting on a nice 23-yard pass to Jeremy Butler
that set up a field goal. He connected with Kamar Aiken
on a couple jump balls but the offense was ultimately shut out completely in the second half in route to a 35-6 loss.
RB Javorius Allen
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 14 - 0, Rec: 5 - 44 - 0 (9 targets) - Javorius “Buck” Allen had an uninspiring 14 yards on eight rush attempts in Baltimore’s Week 14 loss to Seattle. He did add five catches for 44 yards in the passing game on nine targets in a game they trailed from start to finish. Since Justin Forsett
’s season-ending injury in Week 11, Allen has averaged nine targets and seven receptions in the passing game but Baltimore’s run game was completely shut down by the Seahawks. Allen was second on the team in targets but in red zone, he also committed his first career fumble late in the first half. The Seahawks would score two plays later increasing their lead to 14-3. Our own Matt Waldman has stated that Allen isn’t the type of back to create his own momentum as a runner and he struggles to break many tackles if he is not moving down hill with momentum. Those facts were clearly evident in this game where he did not break many tackles and rarely made it to the second level outside of a 17-yard reception in the fourth quarter. However, receptions like these highlight his ability to catch targets from a variety of different angles including while his back is to the line of scrimmage.
WR Jeremy Butler
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 72 - 0 (10 targets) - Jeremy Butler
is taking advantage of his opportunity to play an expanded role with all the Ravens injuries on offense. He finished with 72 yards on seven receptions in Week 14 and had 10 total targets. He connected with Jimmy Clausen
on a nice 23-yard pass that set up a field goal in the first quarter. You know Baltimore is struggling for playmakers when Butler is leads the team in targets and is second in yards in Week 14.
WR Kamar Aiken
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 90 - 0 (7 targets) - Kamar Aiken
is the only wide receiver left on this roster that began the seasons with the team. He was surprisingly effective in Week 14 setting a season high in yards with 90. He had five catches on seven targets and set up the Ravens second field goal to end the first half with two big catches of 37 and 21 yards on back to back plays. The Ravens offense was shut out in the second half but Clausen was able to hook up with Aiken on a few jump balls. He was the Ravens only consistent threat to move the football down the field all game.
TE Maxx Williams
, 20 offensive snaps - Even with Crockett Gilmore missing this game (back) and Nick Boyle
’s suspension rookie Maxx Williams
did not register a catch in Baltimore’s Week 14 loss to the Seahawks. It’s troubling to see Williams not take advantage of a great opportunity in Baltimore with how many injuries they currently have.
Detroit Lions 14, St. Louis Rams 21
What you need to know
- The Detroit offense was out of sync for much of this game. While they were able to move the ball using their backfield on the ground and through short passing routes, Stafford was harassed and hit all game, causing his accuracy to once again dip while giving the green light to poor decision making. The Ram's defense was successful not only up front, but in the secondary as two of Stafford's sacks and the lack of involvement for Calvin Johnson
were coverage related.
St. Louis Rams
- The Rams ended a 5 game losing streak with a 21-14 win. Mid 2nd quarter, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson
jumped a pass for a 58 yard interception return for touchdown. Todd Gurley
ran well during the second half with a couple of long runs and 2 touchdowns. The Rams special teams played well controlling the field position throughout the game.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 46 - 245 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0 - While it wasn't Matthew Stafford
's worst statistical performance of the season, he and the Detroit Lions offense's overall performance felt uninspired and lethargic. Missing from this game that was so potent last week were the deep shots to Calvin Johnson
downfield. Johnson wasn't even targeted until the second quarter, and finished the game with only one reception. The ground game was moderately effective, but the offensive line allowed Stafford to be rushed, hit, and sacked throughout the game. While Stafford has mitigated the pressure the last two weeks by using his feet to escape it, the speed of the St. Louis defenders kept Stafford in the pocket and did not allow the quarterback to seek refuge. Stafford's accuracy was reminiscent of games earlier in the season, as he missed open targets in a wide variety of ways. A poor decision midway through the second quarter on a toss intended for Calvin Johnson
was easily undercut by the defender and returned for a 48 yard pick-six. The lone big play of the game came shortly thereafter when Stafford connected with Golden Tate
on a 17 yard out that Tate cut back in for an additional 20 yards after the catch. The play was unfortunately negated by penalty, and Detroit stalled after a blatant intentional grounding call before heading in for the half.
Stafford was able to find some success moving the ball in the second half, mostly on play action passes to his backs (which has been a successful staple play for Detroit lately), and check-down throws that were churned for chunks of yards after the catch. Late in the fourth quarter, with desperation setting in, a collapsing pocket forced Stafford outside and he threw an ill-advised pass that nearly resulted in another turnover. Ultimately, Stafford and his teammates couldn't muster enough offense against a beatable foe.
RB Theo Riddick
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 18 - 0, Rec: 7 - 44 - 0 (11 targets) - The most targeted receiver for Detroit, Theo Riddick
delivered both through the air and on the ground. Riddick saw the ball often on screen passes and check-downs and often gained ample yardage after the catch. On a stunning mislead run, Riddick faked left before turning back to the right to follow his blockers. As the play was quickly broken up, Riddick planted and turned back to the left, heading up field for a 16 yard gain. He continues to play a stable and critical role on the offense, and had what may have been his only gaffe for 2015 when he dropped a pass intended for him on a screen pass.
RB Ameer Abdullah
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 23 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Seeing the same amount of carries, targets, and receptions as Bell, Ameer Abdullah
made less with what he was given. Bottled up in the backfield for much of the game, Abdullah consistently flashed his ability to avoid taking a loss, but was unable to get much further down the field. Abdullah's big play on the day was a play action pass for 16 yards, similar to the play that Bell found room to work on.
RB Joique Bell
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 50 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - Joique Bell
had his second most productive game of the season, finding room to work between the tackles and being utilized through the air. On his second run of the day, Bell displayed the strength that was commonly seen last season, pounding his way through two defenders for a 13 yard run. A staple play for Detroit the last month, Bell was also used on a play action pass that he quickly turned up field for 17 yards. His most productive run on the day was an 18 yard scamper to the right where he found open field through a hole and burst for yardage.
WR Golden Tate
, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 15 - 0, Rec: 9 - 60 - 2 (10 targets) - Second in targets, but the most productive receiver for the day, Tate was used on short-to-intermediate passing routes and continued to deliver after the catch. A 17 yard out route that Tate caught and cut back inside of the defender for another 20 yards was negated by penalty, but Tate did find the end zone twice on slant routes for 9 and 2 yard touchdowns.
WR T.J. Jones
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (8 targets) - After a bit of a coming out party last week, TJ Jones was involved in the passing game once again. Showing speed and agility, Jones executed on shorter routes and dazzled on a crucial 15 yard curl for a first down to keep the chains moving. Stafford missed the receiver wide and short respectively on two other big throws, and a momentary lapse in ability caused Jones to drop an easy pass late in the game. His involvement has skyrocketed with Lance Moore
out of the picture, and it has served Detroit well to see what they have in this young receiver.
WR Calvin Johnson
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (5 targets) - Calvin Johnson
was blanketed and covered very well for the majority of this game. He saw only 5 balls thrown his direction -one of which ended in a pick-six and two others were poor decisions by Stafford. His first target of the game was midway through the second quarter when Stafford overthrew him by three yards on a wide open play. In the fourth quarter, Johnson and his quarterback did finally connect on a 16 yard post route where the receiver was unfortunately stopped on the 2 yard line, just short of a score.
TE Eric Ebron
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (5 targets) - Eric Ebron
caught three of five passes in his direction, and fortunately did not have any big drops on the day.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Brandon Pettigrew
only saw one pass in his direction, and made the catch for a 7 yard gain. Unfortunately for Pettigrew, a non-contact injury when he cut inside on a crossing route ended his season, as reports Monday are that he suffered a torn ACL.
QB Case Keenum
, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 22 - 124 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0 - Case Keenum
started his 2nd game of the season. Keenum was rushed in the pocket for much of the game due to poor pass blocking. Keenum completed 14 passes on 22 attempts for 124 yards and 1 interception. During the opening series, Keenum completed passes of 7 yards to Todd Gurley
and 2 and 3 yards to Tavon Austin
. Late 2nd quarter, Keenum completed a 11 yard pass to Jared Cook
and a 14 yard pass to Austin. He followed that up with an interception before halftime. On the play, Keenum was hit from behind resulting in the pass to be off-target. The Rams led at halftime 7-0 and Keenum had 43 passing yards. Late 3rd quarter, Keenum completed a 25 yard pass to Kenny Britt
. Early 4th quarter, Keenum completed a 11 yard pass to Wes Welker
and a 10 yard pass to Britt.
RB Todd Gurley
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 140 - 2, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Todd Gurley
made an impact with a couple long runs and 2 touchdowns during the second half. Gurley had 16 rushes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was Gurley's 5th 100 yard game of the season. During the opening series, Gurley caught a screen pass for a 7 yard reception. Gurley had a slow first half with 7 rushes for 13 yards. Mid 3rd quarter, Gurley ran off the left tackle for a 49 yard gain. On the play, Gurley broke an early tackle before he got behind the defense. A couple of plays later on 2nd and goal, Gurley ran around the left side of the line for a 5 yard touchdown run. On the play, Gurley dove stretching the ball over the goal line prior to being tackled. Late 3rd quarter, Gurley broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and ran for a 25 yard gain. Early 4th quarter, Gurley ran up the middle for a 9 yard gain. On the next play, Gurley ran up the middle and cut to the right sideline for a 15 yard touchdown run. On the play, Gurley dove and stretched the ball over the pylon for the touchdown. Late 4th quarter, Gurley ran to the left breaking a tackle for a 21 yard gain.
RB Tre Mason
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Tre Mason
entered the game late 1st quarter taking a pitch for a 6 yard gain. Early 2nd quarter, Mason ran around the left side of the line for a 5 yard gain. Mid 4th quarter, Mason caught a screen pass for 3 yards.
RB Benny Cunningham
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Early 3rd quarter, Benny Cunningham
caught a screen pass for a 7 yard reception. Mid 4th quarter, Cunningham ran up the middle for a 10 yard gain.
WR Tavon Austin
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - Tavon Austin
was featured early in the game with four 1st quarter touches for 38 yards. Austin had 3 receptions on 5 targets for 19 yard with 4 rushes for 40 yards. During the opening series, Austin ran a curl-route for a 3 yard gain. A couple of plays later, Austin caught a screen pass for a 2 yard reception. Late 1st quarter, Austin ran in motion from left-to-right and took the handoff for a 20 yard gain. A few plays later Austin lined up in the backfield and ran to the left for a 13 yard gain. Late 2nd quarter, Austin ran a comeback-route for a 14 yard reception. Mid 3rd quarter, Austin ran an end-around for a 7 yard gain. Late 3rd quarter, Austin had a punt return for touchdown called back due to a holding penalty.
WR Kenny Britt
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (5 targets) - Kenny Britt
had 2 receptions on 5 targets for 35 yards. Late 3rd quarter, Britt ran a vertical-route and caught a jump-ball for a 25 yard reception. Early 4th quarter, Britt ran a slant-route for a 10 yard reception.
WR Wes Welker
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Wes Welker
ran 7 offensive snaps and had 1 reception on 2 targets for 11 yards. Early 4th quarter, Welker ran a slant-route for a 11 yard reception. It marked Welker's 900th career reception.
WR Brian Quick
, 24 offensive snaps - Brian Quick
played 24 offensive snaps and had 0 targets.
TE Jared Cook
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Jared Cook
had 1 reception on 1 target for 11 yards. Late 2nd quarter, Cook ran an out-route for a 11 yard reception.
TE Lance Kendricks
, 40 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Lance Kendricks
played 40 offensive snaps and had 0 targets.
Dallas Cowboys 7, Green Bay Packers 28
What you need to know
- While the Cowboys defense can keep Dallas in games for a quarter or two, the offensive limitations shined through against this week against Green Bay. Matt Cassel
’s lackluster arm strength to push the ball downfield and Dez Bryant
logging an inordinate number of drops marred their chances. The offensive line excelled in run blocking, paving well-defined lanes for Darren McFadden
and Robert Turbin
to run for more than 160 yards combined on 16 carries. Touchdown opportunities were once again at a premium, limiting the fantasy appeal of all skill position players in the closing weeks.
Green Bay Packers
- All the talk of a James Starks
split is a bit off base. Not only are the carries fully in Lacy’s favor (24 carries for Lacy to 11 for Starks) but the overall snaps are as well (49 snaps for Lacy compared to 32 for Starks). The team is likely to keep Starks involved, but this is Lacy’s job and he will get the nod for hard yards and big moments, not Starks. Barring another curfew violation or an injury, we expect Lacy to keep producing yards as the primary back. With Mike McCarthy calling the plays again, there is not only more running, but the passing is more effective which will make Lacy’s carries more effective.
QB Matt Cassel
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 29 - 114 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0 - Cassel struggled through another limiting performance, now with a single passing touchdown over his last four games. The Packers pushed the pocket on Cassel’s dropbacks, making Cassel look for short-range targets more than even his typical healthy rate. Cassel missed opportunities on his own with an early end zone overthrow of Jason Witten
and missing an open Terrance Williams
downfield, but Dez Bryant
did not help Cassel much either. Bryant dropped four passes, including a tipped slant route into the air (ultimately intercepted) at the goal line. While Cassel has struggled, Dez Bryant
’s lackluster play in recent weeks has limited Cassel’s effectiveness as well. Finishing the season with New York (Jets), Buffalo, and Washington on the schedule offer little optimism based on the matchups for a significant rebound.
RB Darren McFadden
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 111 - 0 (2 targets) - McFadden saw his lowest volume of touches since taking over the starting role against Green Bay. Dallas struggled to string together long drives and most of his production came from two well-blocked perimeter runs of 46 and 50 yards respectively. McFadden’s burst and open field speed are his best attributes, both contributing to his best runs of the game. On his best opportunity to score, a goal line carry, he was stuffed by the Green Bay interior. Robert Turbin
flashed in relief, including back-to-back red zone touches (and a touchdown), a notable change from recent weeks where McFadden saw a dominant share of the work. Touchdowns have been the most significant limitation for McFadden, now with three scores on 224 touches this season, including one over the last seven games. The Jets are a stingy matchup next week.
RB Robert Turbin
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 51 - 1 - Turbin had his best game as a Cowboy against Green Bay. The Dallas offensive line, while they struggled in pass protection, performed well opening running lanes. Turbin saw more playing time as the game progressed and the scoreboard deficit expanded. Turbin’s best sequence of touches came on back-to-back carries in the third quarter. After finding a defined cutback lane for 20 yards, Turbin capped off the drive with Dallas’ lone touchdown of the game. Later in the quarter Turbin showed strong cutting ability on another carry. The Dallas offense is limited as a whole, but Turbin has performed well enough to stay on the radar as the clear primary backup to Darren McFadden
in the closing weeks of the season.
WR Terrance Williams
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (5 targets) - Williams was invisible for the first half against Green Bay, finally hauling in a short reception late in the second quarter. Williams’ lone big play opportunity came where he had separation on a deep play-action target. Matt Cassel
overthrew Williams on the play. Williams logged an out route reception in clear garbage time late in the game. Williams has a single touchdown since the opening month of the season, spanning 26 receptions.
WR Dez Bryant
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (6 targets) - The lost 2015 season for Dez Bryant
continued against Green Bay. For the fourth straight game, Bryant caught less than half his targets, this time contributing four drops along the way. A high, but catchable goal line pass clanged off Bryant’s hands, turning into an interception. Bryant later dropped a back shoulder target and an easy comeback route. The closest play came on a ball skills display for Bryant down the seam. Through blanket coverage, Bryant corralled the ball for a potential huge gain. However, an official review overturned the completion as he bobbled the ball heading to the ground. He did draw a defensive holding penalty on an early-game slant route beyond the box score. With Matt Cassel
premium opportunities are few and far between, but Bryant hindered his own performance with critical drops this week.
TE Jason Witten
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (9 targets) - Witten was the lackluster leading receiver for Dallas with a mere 40 yards against Green Bay. His two highlight plays came on a red zone catch, where he was tackled at the one-yard-line, and a third down hitch route, continuing Dallas’ drive. While the volume has been steady this season (at least six targets in 10-of-13 games), the end zone continues to elude the accomplished tight end. Witten has not hit pay dirt since Week 1, spanning 57 receptions. This season is shaping up like a poor man’s version of Witten high-volume, low-touchdown and yards-per-catch campaign in 2009 and 2012. The Jets in Week 15 have been a stingy tight end matchup all season with Rob Gronkowski
the lone high-level performance against them.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 85 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 35 - 218 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 27 - 0 - With head coach Mike McCarthy reluctantly taking over play calling duties again, both Aaron Rodgers
and the whole Packers offense looked much closer to what we have come to expect. The short, quick slants were back (although not as frequently as we used to see them), along with some very creative screen passes that have been added in to get the receivers the ball in space and with some blockers in front of them. While the offense looked better and more in sync than it has, Rodgers still seems a little off. He doesn’t look like he is fully stepping into his passes and it has made for some shaky accuracy and slow passes. He has a strong arm and can overcome the occasional sloppy mechanic but it feels like we are seeing this a lot. Rodgers looked OK more often than not though, including on both touchdown passes. The first was on a 13-yard swing pass to James Starks
. It was either a great play-call or a nice adjustment at the line by Rodgers, and he got the ball out before the Cowboys could correct and account for Starks coming out of the backfield. On a 3-yard pass to Richard Rodgers
in the second quarter, A. Rodgers did a nice job of rolling out and hitting the wide open tight end. While it was a positive play, this pass also was a good example of what happens when Rodgers doesn’t set his feet as the pass was low and behind R. Rodgers, who had to slide and dig the ball off the ground. At the end of the day, the Packers look much better when McCarthy is calling plays, and that includes their quarterback who looked more comfortable than he had in some time.
RB Eddie Lacy
, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 124 - 1, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (1 targets) - Lacy was demoted for violating curfew last week and he said that allowed him to focus again (Per the Green Bay Press-Gazette). He came out on fire against the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, running as hard as we have seen him any time this season and abusing the Cowboy defenders all day. Lacy bowled his way for a short touchdown to put the finishing touches on the team’s 28-7 win. While he definitely gave way to James Starks
on occasion, Lacy was clearly the better back and the one Mike McCarthy relied on throughout the game and in the fourth quarter with a one touchdown lead, it was Lacy the team leaned on. Aside from his touchdown, Lacy showed good speed and sharp awareness as he cutback and outside on an 11-yard run and another 15-yard run off the same left tackle where he slipped around a defender and quickly got upfield for the first down. Now that he has focus, the Packers need him to stay that way to help them secure the division title and they will go to him early and often.
RB James Starks
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 71 - 1, Rec: 4 - 32 - 1 (4 targets) - Both running backs had a huge day, with Starks averaging 6.5 yards per carry on his way to 100 all-purpose yards. Starks had a fantastic run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, which put the Packers up by two touchdowns. On the play, Starks ran to the right of the center and then picked his way through a pair of blockers battling with defenders. Then he accelerated past two more Cowboys and outran the defense to the end zone. He also scored on a swing pass from the Cowboys 10-yard line. It seemed as if the Packers rotated Starks in regularly to give Lacy a breather but also help wear down the Dallas defense. We may see about the same amount of Starks going forward, but his production could be hit and miss as he likely won’t get many more carries.
RB John Kuhn
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Kuhn was on the field for 44 snaps (or 51 percent of the offensive snaps), primarily as a blocker. He had one very nice catch where he bowled over a defender for more yards and a short carry, but he is not a weapon the team looks at often.
WR Randall Cobb
, 83 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0, Rec: 8 - 81 - 0 (12 targets) - Cobb is still a bit inconsistent, and had a big drop in the fourth quarter, but had one of his best games against the Dallas Cowboys. It was finally a game where the offense seemed more comfortable and utilized a lot more short routes and quick passes than it had. That allowed Cobb to get the ball in his hands early and make plays, such as on his 11-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter. In the play, Cobb lined up wide and ran a short bubble screen. Aaron Rodgers
saw it and fired off a pass which Cobb caught behind the line of scrimmage. Once he secured the ball, Cobb moved upfield, split two defenders and got the first down before getting tackled.
WR James Jones
, 82 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 49 - 0 (7 targets) - Jones was targeted frequently this week, though he didn’t have tremendous success. Jones doesn’t have the speed or quickness to lose defenders trailing him, so Aaron Rodgers
needs a pretty clear path to get him the ball. After a hot start, Jones has continued to stay cool with occasional moments where he can make a big play, but his limitations have really come to the fore the last month or so. His biggest issue is how he handles contact early in his route or at the line. Jones doesn’t seem interested in running through contact, and is too quick to give up when a defender gets his hands on the receiver.
WR Davante Adams
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - Adams was unimpressive again during the second half of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, and the result seemed to be a benching as he was mostly absent from the field of play in the second half. The worst part of his day was an offensive pass interference call in the first half and was probably the final straw for head coach Mike McCarthy. Ty Montgomery
is set to return soon, so this could be the end of Adams season.
WR Jared Abbrederis
, 14 offensive snaps (1 targets) - After Davante Adams
was benched, Abbrederis entered the game but only saw one target, as he had no better luck than Adams in getting out from under the Cowboys’ coverage. He seems to be just a placeholder until Ty Montgomery
TE Justin Perillo
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets) - Perillo saw just one target, near the end of the first half and spent most of his 13 snaps blocking.
TE Richard Rodgers
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (2 targets) - After a tremendous Week 13, Richard Rodgers
’ production came back down to earth with a crash. He caught just one pass on two targets, though that one pass was at least a touchdown. On the play, out of a tight formation on the 3-yard line, Rodgers ran a short up and out into the end zone and with Dallas playing hard against the run, nobody picked him up. The throw was a little behind him, but Rodgers hauled it in.
Washington Redskins 24, Chicago Bears 21
What you need to know
- Washington controls its own destiny which is good but scary. Washington is a highly inconsistent team so these next few weeks will tell us all we need to know about their season. The defense has been light years better than last year and the offense is manufacturing points. Kirk Cousins
has to continue keeping the turnovers to a minimum.
- The Chicago Bears lost another winnable football game, falling 23-20 to the Washington Redskins. The John Fox-led Bears now are 1-6 at the friendly confines of Soldier Field. The biggest takeaways from the loss are very similar to the takeaways from last week’s loss -- inconsistent play-calling on offense and a missed opportunity by place kicker Robbie Gould
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase went conservative for most of the game, and the Bears’ offense struggled to move the football with any consistency. Despite the few games remaining on the schedule, the Bears’ season is over.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 31 - 300 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 13 - 1 - Kirk Cousins
had a solid game by his standards as he guided Washington to a much needed win. Kirk's day started out well as he organized a game opening drive for a touchdown. It looked as if he threw a touchdown to Jordan Reed
, but upon further review he was down at the 1 yard line. Therefore, the following play went to Alfred Morris
to cap off the touchdown drive. Kirk distributed the ball well as he found 9 different players for a reception on the day. He also followed up his game opening drive touchdown with another one on his second possession. He was accurate on an 8+ play drive that ended him using play action to run it into the end zone himself from 5 yards out. Per usual, he found a way to make it interesting as he turned the ball over in his own territory late third quarter. That resulted in Chicago being able to tie the game up. Fortunately Washington was able to muster up a field goal early 4th quarter because they went the next 3 possessions without tallying any points. Kirk manufactured just enough offense to preserve the victory.
RB Matt Jones
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 62 - 0, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Matt Jones
had a slow start to this game, but came on strong in the second half as he was the main running back. Matt had a total of 20 touches and was essentially a 3 down running back for long stretches of the second half. Matt didn't accumulate big yardage totals but his presence allowed the Washington offense to maintain versatility. His longest carry went for 11 yards but his biggest play was closing out the Bears on their final drive. His ability to be elusive and break tackles allowed him to secure two first downs that drained the clock and closed the door on a Bears last chance opportunity.
RB Alfred Morris
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 24 - 1 (1 targets) - Alfred Morris
started the game off well and looked to be featured in this game, but much like other games that wasn't the case. Alfred had 11 carries on the day and even scored the first touchdown of the game. This was a game script friendly game for Alfred to take advantage but Matt Jones
took over majority of the second half work.
WR Pierre Garcon
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 52 - 0 (7 targets) - Pierre Garcon
is still struggling to find the end zone, but his five catches on the day was second highest total for the team. He doesn't take the top off the defense so the yardage totals remain modest. He had a 19 yard reception that helped keep their drive alive in the 2nd quarter, but his impact on this game was minimal from a receiving standpoint.
WR Rashad Ross
, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - Rashad Ross
is a first year player that seemed to find his way into the receiver rotation on Sunday. He only had two catches but they seem to use him in different packages to compensate for no Chris Thompson
. It is not clear what his role will be moving forward but he was slightly involved for this game.
WR DeSean Jackson
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 43 - 0 (4 targets) - DeSean Jackson
wasn't able to build off his involvement in the prior game as he ended up with only two catches. One of them went for 29 yards as he found a crease in the defense on a shallow cross route. DeSean was fighting through a bit of leg injuries in this game as he appeared to get dinged up. The Bears payed him plenty of attention and ultimately he wasn't able to shake loose for a big play. These types of boom or bust games seem to be the norm for DeSean Jackson
WR Jamison Crowder
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (1 targets) - Jamison Crowder
was a non-factor again this week as he only tallied one catch. The presence of DeSean Jackson
has seemed to slowly diminish his role in the offense.
TE Jordan Reed
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 120 - 1 (9 targets) - Jordan Reed
was extremely productive in this game as he led the passing game for another week. He had 9 catches and a touchdown but could have easily been two touchdowns if he wasn't marked down at the 1 yard line. Jordan constantly made himself available beating line backs in coverage all game. He demonstrated excellent run after catch ability as he routinely shrugged off defenders for extra gains. He is clearly the number 1 option in the passing game as Kirk's comfort level is with the short passing game.
QB Jay Cutler
, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 31 - 315 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 - Jay Cutler
is playing decent football these days. The polarizing quarterback completed 19-of-31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-20 loss to the Redskins. Cutler isn’t the reason the Bears loss, even though his fumble of the football cost the Bears a 10-play drive that seemed destined for at least three points.
The Cutler we saw against the Redskins wasn’t making stupid throws when faced with pressure; he wasn’t throwing balls into double, even triple-coverage. The Cutler we saw used his legs to avoid pressure, extending plays long enough to complete passes when the play looked to be dead.
Late in the first half, Cutler moved out of the pocket to find Jeremy Langford
for a seven-yard completion. Only a handful of seconds later, Cutler found Deonte Thompson
for 36 yards under similar circumstances. The drive ended when Cutler found Alshon Jeffery
in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
Cutler continued the momentum early in the third quarter, when he led the Bears on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller
It wasn’t all roses for Cutler, who did fall short on a couple of key passes. Cutler threw short to Jeffery on at least two passes that would have resulted in 15-plus yard gains. Those really are the only knocks on Cutler after a very disappointing loss.
RB Jeremy Langford
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 37 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (7 targets) - Jeremy Langford
really is a mixed bag right now -- some good, some bad. Langford runs the ball extremely hard, and he hits holes much quicker than Matt Forte
, who is more of an up-and-down runner. Langford also lends the Bears a lot of versatility in the passing game. The only problem is Langford doesn’t catch very well. Frown.
Langford carried the ball a team-high 11 times in the 23-20 loss to the Redskins. He gained only 37 yards on those 11 carries, for a 3.4 yard average. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase wasn’t willing to commit to the run with any consistency. The Bears as a team only ran the ball 23 times, compared to 31 passing attempts, for Jay Cutler
, on 34 total dropbacks.
In the passing game, Langford received a good bit of targets. His seven targets were good for second on the team, behind Alshon Jeffery
’s nine. Langford only caught three of his seven targets for 27 yards. With as much as Gase loves to involve his runners in the passing game, you’d figure Langford would show some signs of improvement when it comes to hauling in passes. Sadly, the drops continue to come, despite the appearance of confidence from the coaching staff.
It you want upside as your season winds down, Langford definitely has it. The Bears want to put Langford in as many new situations as possible, which is why he lines up all over the field on Sundays. It’s likely going to be the Jeremy Langford
show from here on out.
RB Matt Forte
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 45 - 1, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - In recent weeks, Matt Forte
has been running up the middle more than anywhere else, without much success, to be frank. Well, the game plan changed slightly against the Redskins, with Forte spending more time trying to get to the outside. It worked, too.
While Forte only carried the ball 10 times, he was able to gain 45 yards, for an average of 4.5 yards. Forte was very effective in the run game. Why he didn’t receive more carries, who knows.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase called 23 total run plays -- 10 for Forte, 11 for Jeremy Langford
and one for Jay Cutler
In the Bears’ Week 13 loss to San Francisco, Forte nearly doubled Langford in carries. Now that the Bears’ playoff hopes have been completed shattered, it looks like management is attempting to put Langford in as many new situations as possible. Forte merely is riding out his time before hitting free agency in the offseason.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 107 - 1 (9 targets) - The Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver had himself a bounce-back game in the 23-20 loss to the Redskins. Coming off a subpar effort in the crushing loss to the 49ers in Week 13, Jeffery hauled in six passes on nine targets for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Jeffery found a lot of success on plays where Jay Cutler
would move out of the pocket, extending the play long enough for his receiver to beat the coverage. Four of Jeffrey’s six receptions resulted in first downs, and one resulted in a touchdown.
Despite Eddie Royal
being back on the field, giving Cutler another potentially dangerous target, the Bears’ offense wasn’t very creative in finding ways to get Jeffery open, without a play having to break down in order to make it happen.
Jeffery is the guy every opposing defense focuses on when the game starts. The Bears have no other threats in the passing game to help alleviate some of that focus. It’s too bad rookie first-round pick Kevin White
isn’t going to make a surprise appearance this season. He’s the type of player Jeffery needs on the field, a guy who can stretch coverages and command an over-the-top presence.
TE Zach Miller
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 85 - 1 (6 targets) - Zach Miller
is finding himself in a dream scenario. The Bears are without Martellus Bennett
for the remainder of the season, giving Miller an opportunity to start a couple of games in a row. If you know anything about Miller’s past, he’s battled injury his entire career -- the season-ending variety, too.
Miller played pretty well against the Redskins, despite coming out on the wrong end of the result. The tight end caught five passes on six targets for 85 yards and a touchdown. He’s quickly becoming a favorite target of Jay Cutler
While he does have some limitations, blocking, for one, Miller gives the Bears a somewhat dangerous pass-catching option who can line up anywhere on the field -- in the backfield, on the line of scrimmage or out wide.
What we’ve seen Miller do on a consistent basis is win his matchup and catch the football. There’s not a lot of analysis to it. He’s a grinder, for sure.
New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 6
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- LeGarrette Blount
was off to a good start, but left with a hip injury. Brandon Bolden
got most of the carries after that, but was unimpressive. Tom Brady
had a solid game, but didn't need to take many chances and his stat line was average because the Texans never really made this a game. Rob Gronkowski
is back, and not quite himself, but still easily the #1 tight end heading into Week 15.
- - Alfred Blue
saw zero snaps on offense. It was a coaches decision.
- C.J. Fiedorowicz
continues to take a back seat to Ryan Griffin
who has clearly taken over the tight end position.
- Akeem Hunt
is getting into the game but not enough to make a difference with minimal snaps.
- T.J. Yates
is set to start for the Texans against the Colts. Hoyer is dealing with his second concussion of the year and he also has a neck strain from the 7 sacks the Patriots put on him.
QB Tom Brady
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 30 - 226 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0 - Compared to the last few weeks, this was a great game for Brady and the Patriots offense. There was more balance, the offensive line held up better (especially in the first half), and Brady seemed more at ease in general. The Pats were also able to absolutely stifle J.J. Watt, making him look like a pick-up off the street with their gameplanning. His stat line doesn't show it with gaudy numbers, but Brady himself also had a very solid game. Smart decision making, limiting unnecessary risks, and getting the ball to the right people were key. The Pats also played the horizontal game well. Brady's first touchdown went to Keshawn Martin
, who ran a great inside-out double move to get wide open in the endzone. His second was a 1 yard corner fade to Rob Gronkowski
, who dominated his safety in coverage for an easy score. Besides a couple big gains to Gronk, most of Brady's throws were short and intermediate, though he was afforded time to throw on most occasions.
RB Brandon Bolden
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 51 - 0 - Filling in for an injured LeGarrette Blount
, this may have been one of Brandon Bolden
's best games as a Patriot. He had 2 or 3 runs where he simply took defenders with him when he should have been tackled and picked up plenty of extra yardage, moving his legs with power and consistency. If Blount's injury is major, Bolden will see a key role going forward.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 53 - 0 - Prior to going down with injury, Blount had a fairly decent day, though he had a couple odd runs where he ran straight into a pile of defenders as opposed to waiting with patience and potentially hitting other holes. His highlight run saw him ëtackled' on top of a defender, but never hit the ground. He rumbled for an additional 10 yards afterwards, much to the dismay of defenders. His injury bears watching, as it looked to be hip related.
RB James White
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 1, Rec: 4 - 38 - 0 (6 targets) - Once again, when he got the ball, White was great in space and outmaneuvering defenders, primarily used in a pass catching format. He had an amazing leaping catch called back after a questionable review process, and did score a short touchdown on a savvy draw play by the coaches. White will continue to see passing game work.
WR Danny Amendola
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 46 - 0 (8 targets) - Danny Amendola
was his usual self, making tough catches in shorter areas of the field. It was notable, however, that he tried a couple juke moves once he made receptions at different times, and none of them ended up working out. Though he's clearly one of Brady's most trusted targets at the moment, it may be plays such as this that separate Julian Edelman
WR Brandon LaFell
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 32 - 0 (8 targets) - Almost all of LaFell's catches were screens, hence his low yards per catch total. LaFell also had a patented blatant drop in the third quarter that would have gone for around 10 yards, keeping consistent with his play all year. He doesn't appear to be improving, but the coaches have attempted to mask this with screens.
WR Keshawn Martin
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 1 (4 targets) - Martin had two highlights on the day, with one being good and one not so good. His positive was his touchdown grab, in which he juked a defender on an inside out double move to score with ease. He had a couple good punt returns, but then muffed one, and was yanked from those duties after that. Martin should continue to see a bit role until Julian Edelman
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 87 - 1 (4 targets) - The big man is back, and it showed. Gronk had two huge catch and runs, beating defenders with ease. His touchdown was a corner fade against a safety, which is likely going to be a touchdown more often than not. Gronk didn't play every snap, but he looked fairly comfortable, even blocking defensive ends 1 on 1 at a couple points.
TE Scott Chandler
, 1 offensive snaps - Chandler wasn't targeted at all with Gronk back in the fold.
QB Brian Hoyer
, 51 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 22 - 155 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - For Brian Hoyer
to come out alive of this game is near amazing. The Patriots sacked him seven times and Hoyer ended up with a concussion and strained neck putting his weekend into doubt for the Colts. With that said Hoyer’s evening was plagued with drops from his receivers and some poorly thrown balls that were needed in clutch situations. He under threw a deep ball to Washington that if thrown on time could have been an easy touchdown. He also forced some throws to the sideline to Hopkins and Washington that ended up uncatchable. On a key third down play, Hoyer had Griffin wide open and threw the ball behind him resulting in one of many punts for the Texans. Hoyer struggled all game getting in sync with his receivers and ended up being one of his worst production games of the season.
RB Chris Polk
, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Polk received his first NFL start and his hard running style produced only 34 yards with nine yards being his long run. The effort is there but the talent is suspect and he continues to be a straight ahead runner with little break away speed. Polk caught a nine yard pass from Hoyer in the flats early in the first quarter but it was an overall unimpressive day for Polk on the ground and through the air.
RB Jonathan Grimes
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 53 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Jonathan Grimes
ripped off the longest run of the day with a 37 yard scamper that was the result of some timely blocking. Grimes let the blocks develop off the right side of the line and then went to work getting into the second level. Grimes did little else after that big run and was limited in the passing game.
WR Cecil Shorts
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Shorts was shut down by the Patriots and only had two receptions during the game. Shorts’ long reception came on a 10 yard catch and run in the middle of the field where he made two defenders miss. The Texans also tried to get Shorts going in the wildcat but the two carries resulted in no yards. Shorts was pretty much a non-factor all game for the Texans offense.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 52 - 0 (6 targets) - The Patriots hounded Hopkins all evening and kept him blanketed with defenders. His first target and reception did not happen until almost four minutes left in the first half on a simple out patter for seven yards. Hoyer did not look towards Hopkins much during the game but took two deep shots to Hopkins. One resulted in an over throw that was not close to Hopkins, while the other rustled in a 40-yard reception. It was an uneventful evening for Hopkins besides his one long reception.
WR Nate Washington
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 49 - 0 (4 targets) - Sooner or later Nate Washington
is going to earn his keep. The chances are there for him but he is not winning the one-on-one situations in the passing game. Washington is showing that he can stretch the defense and Hoyer is having issues hitting him in stride. Even with that, Washington had his hand on two footballs that he let the defenders knock out his his hands on the way down. The first one came on a pass to the middle of the field and Washington when up and had his hand on the football but was knocked out late. The other came on a redbone target that would have been a touchdown but once again he had his hands on the ball only to have it punched away on the way down to the ground. There was an early glimmer of hope for Washington when Hoyer hit him for a 49 yard strike on a 3rd and long situation to open up the Texans attack in the 1st quarter. The Texans are trying everything to get Washington to take some of the offensive production but he is not holding up his end of the bargain.
TE Ryan Griffin
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (6 targets) - His one catch of 20-yards was a his highlight of the game. He got to the middle of the field wide open and Hoyer hit him in stride for a solid catch and run. Majority of the game, Griffin was plagued with drops. He was wide open on two throws that would have been 20 plus yards a catch but failed to haul in the pass. He got his hands on both passes but had one bounce loose when he hit the ground and had the other fall out of his hands after a defender chopped down on his arm. Griffin’s drops have plagued him since he returned from the injured reserve.
San Diego Chargers 3, Kansas City Chiefs 10
What you need to know
San Diego Chargers
- Torrential rains throughout the game could have helped contribute to the lack of an aerial show by the two teams. Although Kansas City isn't real known for its big-play offense, and San Diego doesn't appear to have one anymore
The explosive San Diego offense of recent years and earlier this season is but a distant memory at this point. Injuries along the line and to the skill players, as well as general ineffectiveness, have relegated this unit to the type of team you want to start your fantasy defense against.
Running back Melvin Gordon
continues to get opportunities, and continues to do very little with them. At this point, the Chargers almost have to keep feeding him the ball to see if there is anything there worthwhile to build on in season two, because it seems pretty clear that his rookie year is going to end as a lost cause.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Soggy and windy conditions at Arrowhead Stadium helped to hold both the Chargers and Chiefs offenses in check on Sunday. Alex Smith
would see his streak of pass attempts without an interception halted at 312 when he threw a pick at the end of the first quarter, but he would make up for the error on the team's next drive. Smith would connect with Albert Wilson
for a 44-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the lone touchdown by either side. Charcandrick West
and Spencer Ware
shared duties at running back and combined for 106 yards. Once again, Jeremy Maclin
was the most targeted Chiefs receiver on the day with nine, which he converted into six catches for 68 yards. The Chiefs would close out the game with a solid goal-line stand to prevent the Chargers from tying the game and preserved their seventh consecutive victory in the process.
QB Philip Rivers
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 43 - 263 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0 - The early season fantasy bonanza that Rivers owners enjoyed, has come to a crashing halt over the last several weeks. Even a player of Rivers' caliber is going to have a difficult time putting up big stats with all the many injuries surrounding him. He entered this game without Keenan Allen
, Stevie Johnson, or Dontrelle Inman
, a hobbled Antonio Gates
, and an offensive line that has been decimated by injuries (he lost left tackle King Dunlap to reinjury in this one). It's no wonder, then, that he spent the majority of the game being rushed by the Kansas City pass rush. On one particular sack, one of the linemen didn't even realize the ball had been snapped. He stood there for a good 1-2 seconds as the pass rusher ran right by him and absolutely crushed Rivers for the sack. And on the rare occasions he was able to step into his throws, there was rarely anyone open. There were a few instances where he clearly tried forcing the issue to make a play, but as is often the case, they didn't work. One such pass ended up getting deflected by a defender and into the waiting arms of a defender for the interception. Furthermore, Rivers threw the pass off his back foot, which weakened the velocity enough to make the deflection easier. The Chargers only came close to scoring on two occasions, and shot themselves in the foot both times. On one instance, Rivers found a streaking Malcom Floyd
in stride at around the 5-yard line. It should have gone for an easy 58-yard touchdown that would have tied the game up, but the sure-handed Floyd inexplicably dropped the ball. On San Diego's last-gasp desperation drive to try and tie the game, Rivers brought the team downfield via three separate fourth down pass conversions. One went to Javontee Herndon
, and the other was a floater to tight end Antonio Gates
with pressure in Rivers' face. San Diego got down to the goal line, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back to the 6-yard line. Clock management was another issue Rivers faced in this game, as he twice had to call timeouts in the first half to avoid delay of game penalties. From the six, Rivers hit tight end Ladarius Green
in the hands, but the pass had a little much on it and couldn't be brought in. An ensuing false start flag backed them up to the 11-yard line. On the last try, Rivers again hit a receiver in the hands, this time running back Danny Woodhead
, but the ball rolled up his arm and couldn't be brought in, sealing the Kansas City win.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 35 - 0, Rec: 4 - 28 - 0 (4 targets) - Once again, San Diego made a concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of their prized rookie. Clearly, with the team out of the playoff race for awhile now, they've needed to see exactly what they have in Gordon heading into 2016. The problem is, it's difficult to gauge when the offensive line play is so putrid. Gordon looks to run with power at times, looks to have some nice moves at times, and shows good hands out of the backfield. But once the ball is in his hands, defenders are all over him so quickly that you've got to wonder if ANY back would have consistent success running behind it. He had a nice 15-yard gain up the left sideline early in the second half. He beat his man to the edge, showed good vision in getting around would-be tacklers, and did a nice job hanging onto the football despite getting tackled from behind. But again, with San Diego trailing for most of the game, it was tough to really establish any kind of rhythm on the ground.
RB Danny Woodhead
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 8 - 0 (6 targets) - Woodhead's role has shrunk in the second half of the season to be more of a pure backup runner than the 1 and 1A scenario he ane rookie Melvin Gordon
enjoyed early on. Woodhead got a couple of looks in the passing game, one of which was a terrific one-handed catch that he corraled over his head before cradling it into his body. But it was too little too late, as he couldn't reach the first down marker on a third and long play. His key target came on the game's final play when Rivers looked for him in the back of the end zone. The pass led him perfectly to the only spot on the field that was open, but the ball rolled off Woodhead's arms/hands and fell harmlessly incomplete, ending the game.
WR Javontee Herndon
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (7 targets) - Thrust into significant action due to several injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart (Keenan Allen
, Stevie Johnson, & Dontrelle Inman
), Herndon saw a decent amount of looks. Early on, he caught a couple of passes that would typically be Antonio Gates
-type grabs. There was a short catch over the middle on a comeback route, a diving grab along the sideline, and a quick out to the sideline to pick up 21. But he saved his best for last, with a tremendous fourth down grab in traffic late in the fourth quarter on San Diego's desperation attempt to tie the game. With three Kansas City defenders hanging around him (and one literally ON him), Herndon muscled them away and showed tremendous hands to reel it in and keep the drive (and game) alive.
WR Malcom Floyd
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 56 - 0 (9 targets) - Floyd, who has just three games left in his NFL career after this one, had a game he'd soon like to forget. Targeted in the first half in traffic, the defender had better positioning than he did, deflecting the ball up in the air where it was picked off by another Kansas City defender. And then the sure-handed Floyd had one of the worst drops of his entire career (the announcing team mentioned it was just the eleventh drop EVER for Floyd) that will stick with him for awhile. He got beyond the secondary and was wide open for what should have been an easy 58-yard touchdown. Quarterback Philip Rivers
put the ball right on Floyd's hands, but he allowed it to get to close to his body and he simply dropped it. A score there would have tied the game. On the next San Diego possession, he kind of made up for that drop by hauling in a fantastic 41-yard bomb down the right sideline. He somehow out-leaped the Kansas City defender, taking the ball away from him in mid-air and pinning it against his hip with three defenders surrounding him, for a true highlight-worthy grab.
WR Vincent Brown
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - The former Charger was re-signed this past week to provide depth in the passing game following injuries to Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman
. Little did anyone expect Brown to make the game-saving fourth down catch on the team's desperation drive. It was the third conversion of a fourth down on the drive, and Brown hung on despite a defender hanging all over him. It was his lone target of the game, and he won't be a big part of the passing game moving forward, but he made this one count at least.
TE Antonio Gates
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 76 - 0 (8 targets) - Gates was really the only Charger who salvaged something productive in this game from a fantasy perspective. Week after week, Gates continues to pretty much do the same things over and over, and defenses are almost powerless to stop it. Run 8-10 yards upfield, stop, turn around, defender can't get around the big body, catch the ball, turn upfield and dive ahead for another yard or two. Rinse, repeat. In this one, he also made a tremendous one-handed snag on a floater towards the sideline. Gates showed soft hands in first deflecting it to himself, then cradling it in and keeping his feet inbounds. He was also hit in stride on a deep ball down the seam for a nice gain. And his last significant contribution was a big one, going up in traffic over the middle on a game-saving fourth down pass play with less than a minute remaining to keep the drive alive. Later on in that drive, Rivers threw a deep ball in the end zone on a third down pass play, but Gates couldn’t get in position to make the catch. Once San Diego got close to the end zone, the offense stalled and was unable to punch one in for the tie. Curiously, Gates did not see any targets in the end zone from short yardage in that situation with the game on the line.
TE Ladarius Green
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 26 - 0 (6 targets) - Even with all the injuries to the San Diego receiving corps, Green has still mostly been an afterthought since Antonio Gates
returned to the lineup. In this one, Green made a short catch over the middle in the first half as the second or third option in the pattern. And later added a wide open catch on a crossing route to the left, getting to the edge for a nice gain. But those were his only real contributions. What was more significant was the pass he did NOT bring in, a red zone look on San Diego's last-gasp drive near the Kansas City goal line. Quarterback Philip Rivers
put the ball on Green's hands, albeit perhaps a bit too high, and the big tight end was unable to reel in what would have been the game-tying score.
QB Alex Smith
, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 23 - 191 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 40 - 0 - Alex Smith
's streak of passes attempted without an interception came to an end on Sunday, but the efficient quarterback quickly redeemed himself with a long scoring drive resulting in the game's only touchdown on the next drive. Smith engineered a nine-play, 96-yard drive in the second quarter that was capped off with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson
. The touchdown pass to Wilson was also Smith's longest completion of the day, as the wet and windy conditions at Arrowhead Stadium were not conducive to a game featuring offensive fireworks. The Chiefs employed a very balanced gameplan with 23 pass attempts versus 25 rushing attempts, with Smith relying on his typical array of short and efficient passes. Smith also picked up 40 yards on the ground, his second highest total of the season. The win over the Chargers was the Chiefs seventh consecutive victory and keeps them squarely in the mix for a playoff berth. They will look to continue their winning ways next week when they travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.
RB Charcandrick West
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 54 - 0 (1 targets) - The Chiefs again employed the running back by committee approach with both Charcandrick West
and Spencer Ware
seeing their fair share of carries, 10 for West versus eight for Ware. West's longest run of the day would come in the third quarter. Facing first and ten at the Chargers 43-yard line, West would take the handoff from Smith around the left end and advance it for a 15-yard gain before he was pushed out of bounds. All told, it was a quiet offensive game for both the Chiefs and Chargers as the game was played in some rough conditions. We can expect the backfield by committee approach to continue for the remainder of the season.
RB Spencer Ware
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 52 - 0 - Ware continued to share carries with Charcandrick West
in a relatively even fashion, with eight carries for Ware versus 10 for West. His longest run would come on the Chiefs lone touchdown drive of the day. On first and ten from the Chiefs 17-yard line, Ware took the handoff from of the right guard for a 20-yard gain. The drive was ultimately capped off by a 44-yard Alex Smith
to Albert Wilson
touchdown connection. Sunday's weather conditions were not conducive to productive offensive football, limiting the effectiveness of both Ware and West. Ware exited the game with a rib injury but is expected to be fine. We can expect the committee approach to continue for the remainder of the season.
WR Jeremy Maclin
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 6 - 68 - 0 (9 targets) - Maclin was targeted a team-high nine times, but a wet and windy day limited his overall effectiveness. He hauled in six of them for 68 yards, his lowest output since Week 11 - also against the Chargers. Maclin was the intended target on the play which broke Alex Smith
's streak of passes attempted without an interception. On first and ten from the Chargers 38-yard line, Smith attempted a deep pass into the end zone intended for Maclin which was picked off by the Chargers Jason Verrett. Maclin's longest play of the day would come just before half time, a deep right pass from Smith for a 21-yard gain. He remains the unquestioned top target for the chiefs as they continue their push for a playoff spot.
WR Albert Wilson
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 87 - 1 (6 targets) - Wilson was the most productive Chiefs receiver on the day and responsible for the game's lone touchdown. Facing second and four from the chargers 44-yard line, Alex Smith
would find an open Wilson over the middle, who would show of his wheels while finding pay dirt, capping off a nine-play, 96-yard drive. In all, Wilson was targeted six times, behind only Jeremy Maclin
's team-leading nine targets. He remains third in the passing game pecking order behind Maclin and Travis Kelce
TE Travis Kelce
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (5 targets) - Sunday's nasty conditions at Arrowhead Stadium were not conducive to effective offensive football, but Kelce had a particularly quiet day. He was targeted five times, hauling in three of them for 18 yards- 11 of which came on one play. This was the second consecutive quiet outing for Kelce, who was battling a groin injury heading into Sunday's contest. We'll have to wait and see if he can bounce back against the Ravens next week, but a third consecutive down week might point to the big tight end being more banged up than we realize.