Tennessee Titans 23, San Francisco 49ers 25
What you need to know
- The Titans offense was lackluster throughout the first half, but Marcus Mariota
got going through the air in the second half to lead three straight scoring drives on his way to 242 passing yards - his highest mark in the last four weeks and his first game with multiple passing touchdowns since Week 9. Delanie Walker
led the team in targets and found the end zone, but amassed just 37 receiving yards in the process. Rishard Matthews
had the best fantasy performance of the day as he was a deep threat for most of the game, hauling in six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. The ground game slept for most of the game as Demarco Murray out-touched Derrick Henry
19-to-9, but neither had a single highlight-reel play.
San Francisco 49ers
- Same thing, different week. Jimmy Garoppolo
connected with Marquise Goodwin
early and often -- at the expense of Carlos Hyde
. Trent Taylor
was the go-to receiver on third down. Louis Murphy
started, but No. 4 wideout Kendrick Bourne
was more involved in the passing game. Garrett Celek
and George Kittle
sprinkled in a few catches here and there, particularly because they were wide open. Speaking of which, although the stats suggest San Francisco's passing game once again fired on all cylinders with Garoppolo, a big reason for those stats was indeed that Tennessee's secondary blew coverages repeatedly.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 33 - 241 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0 - Marcus Mariota
and the Titans offense had a slow start with just a field goal to show until the last few seconds of the first half when Mariota found Delanie Walker
for a four-yard touchdown reception. From that drive forward, Mariota looked very refreshed as he led the Titans to three straight scores to help them get a lead in the fourth quarter that would ultimately be blown by their defense to lose the game. Mariota made some impressive throws throughout the day, including hooking up with Rishard Matthews
on four passes for over 20 yards as Matthews. Mariota's second touchdown pass of the day was also to Matthews, coming on a short stop-and-go route near the goal line that left Mariota with a very easy throw to make for the score. Mariota did not do much at all with his legs here as he had only two scrambles for four yards, but he was well protected as he took just one sack. This game did mark the first time in five weeks that he has thrown for multiple touchdowns and just his second game in the last seven he has finished without throwing an interception.
RB DeMarco Murray
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 59 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - Demarco Murray saw the vast majority of carries this week as he out-touched Derrick Henry
18-to-7 on the ground. The Titans really tried to establish their ground game here, but they simply could not find a rhythm with either Murray or Henry. Murray had a pair of nice nine-yard gains on first downs in the first half, including one run where he absolutely ran over rookie linebacker Reuben Foster. Outside of those plays though, Murray he was not getting much separation at all beyond the line of scrimmage as holes to run through were few and far between. His longest play of the game came just after halftime as Murray ran off the right side for 11 yards, but as the game progressed, the Titans were forced into a pass-heavy game script in which Murray was very involved as he had just one target resulting in a four-yard reception.
RB Derrick Henry
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 19 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Derrick Henry
was relatively invisible during this week's game as he was out-touched by Demarco Murray 19-9. With a pass-heavy game script for much of the game, the Titans elected to give more snaps to Murray as the better run-blocker. Henry saw just one carry in the first half before getting in the game for an entire drive to close out the third quarter on which Henry saw eight of his nine touches. Henry was actually the focal point of that drive as the ball went to him on eight of 12 plays with the drive resulting in a touchdown. The Titans have definitely had some success with Henry in the backfield, he just still is not being afforded the opportunity to contribute outside of a series here and there per game.
WR Rishard Matthews
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 95 - 1 (8 targets) - Rishard Matthews
led the team in receiving as he hauled in six of his eight targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. This was his biggest game since going out with the hamstring injury in Week 11. Matthews showed his playmaking ability in this game as his first four receptions all went for over 20 yards each, with three of them coming before halftime. Matthews showed non-stop drive after his first reception as gained an extra seven yards once he had been wrapped up just by keeping his legs pumping to push downfield. Matthews ran a great corner route during the two-minute drill before halftime to help set up a Titans touchdown. He had to make that catch on the ball thrown a bit over his head, but Matthews had no problem hauling it in and getting out of bounds. On 3rd-and-4 late in the third quarter, Matthews came up big with another 21-yard reception that he showed great power to push forward for some extra yards at the end. Shortly after that play, Matthews would easily haul in the touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from eight yards out as he fooled the 49ers linebacker with a nice stop and go to get wide open in the back of the end zone. This would mark Matthews' third touchdown in his last five games.
WR Eric Decker
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 63 - 0 (5 targets) - Eric Decker
made a few nice grabs in this game as he finished as the second-best receiver for the Titans despite not finding the end zone. He caught all five of his targets, with four of those receptions going for over 10 yards as he proved to be very effective on the intermediate-length routes. Decker was a big part of the Titans' first drive after halftime. He ran a nice route to the outside and did a good job coming back to the ball to haul in a 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 to keep that drive alive. A few plays later, Decker had his longest play of the game as he another corner route, deep to the right side this time and made the easy catch for 17 yards. Decker did make an impressive catch late in the third quarter for seven yards near the red zone as he had to jump up with a defender around his waist to bring in the ball. That would mark his last catch of the game though.
WR Corey Davis
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (5 targets) - Corey Davis
had another underwhelming day as he saw just five targets, hauling in three of them for 28 yards. Davis ran a solid out route to lead off the Titans' final drive of the game as he picked up 13 yards for his longest play of the game. Mariota tried to find Davis on a couple deep shots but simply could not connect. Davis now has three straight games with three or fewer receptions and fewer than 30 receiving yards, still having failed to match his Week 1 stat line since returning from injury.
TE Delanie Walker
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 37 - 1 (10 targets) - Delanie Walker
led the Titans in targets while scoring his third touchdown in the last four games, but he finished with his lowest yardage total since Week 6 as he had a rough day overall. If not for his four-yard touchdown reception late in the first half, Walker would have had a very forgettable half of football as he hauled in just one of four targets leading up to that play. Walker's one reception before the touchdown in the first half resulted in a fumble as he was stripped trying to push forward towards the first down. Walker made a great play with his hands to haul in a contested touchdown to close out the first half though, which saved his day from a fantasy perspective.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 43 - 381 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 1 - -6 - 0 (1 targets) - After the game, Titans cornerback Brice McCain said of Garoppolo's performance, "He didn't do anything special. He just threw to open guys." And you know what? He's not wrong: Over a quarter of Garoppolo's passing yardage came via receivers running wide open downfield. That said, although he may not have done anything "special," Garoppolo did do most everything in the job description well; certainly better than any 49ers quarterback in recent memory. As per usual, he was adept at hitting receivers in stride across the middle of the field. He also once again proved to be unfazed by the pass rush. If one had to point out a negative aspect of his performance, it would be that he overthrew Marquise Goodwin
on two bombs, threw behind him twice on quick slants, and underthrew him to the point of near-interception on a deep out route.
RB Carlos Hyde
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 25 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Continuing the trend of recent weeks, Hyde was once again a nonfactor in the passing game. And with Tennessee constantly allowing receivers to run wide open with impunity, San Francisco's pass-heavy play-calling rendered Hyde a virtual nonfactor as a runner. He still put on his usual displays of power and elusiveness from time to time, but there was simply no there there: Seven of his 16 carries went for zero or negative yardage, including a 4-yard loss on 2nd-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
WR Marquise Goodwin
, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 10 - 114 - 0 (13 targets) - For the second week in a row, Goodwin had a near-flawless performance. He had a reception on just about every type of route a wide receiver runs. He beat both man and zone coverage. He had several receptions on underthrown passes, one of which he stole out of an intercepting defender's hands. Perhaps most impressive is that Goodwin's gaudy box score stats weren't achieved via what he's most known for: He didn't catch a single deep ball.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 85 - 0 (6 targets) - Bourne produced the 49ers' longest play of the game, a 54-yard catch and run that set up the first of their two go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter. He ran a slant out of the left slot and was wide open. Jimmy Garoppolo
delivered the pass in stride, thereby allowing Bourne to weave his way for 41 yards after the catch almost completely untouched.
WR Trent Taylor
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (5 targets) - Taylor played his usual high-leverage role: Three of his five targets came on third down, another came inside the red zone, and yet another started off San Francisco's game-winning drive. A sixth target, from Tennessee's 22-yard line was nullified by a dubious offensive pass interference penalty. All of that said, Taylor's yardage total could have been considerably higher had he not turned to run with the ball before securing a wide open catch in the middle of the field with at least 20 yards of open space in front of him.
WR Louis Murphy
, 33 offensive snaps - Based on recent weeks, this may have been the Platonic ideal of a Murphy performance with the 49ers. He started. He played nearly 50 percent of snaps. He wasn't targeted at all despite his quarterback dropping back 46 times.
TE George Kittle
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 52 - 0 (5 targets) - Four of Kittle's five targets came on two pairs of consecutive plays. In the second quarter, Kittle caught a 7-yard angle route to set San Francisco up in the red zone. On the next play, he ran a corner route into the back of the end zone, but Tennessee covered it perfectly, so Jimmy Garoppolo
's pass sailed long and out of bounds. Kittle didn't see another target until the fourth quarter, when he once again saw two in a row on the Titans' half of the field. These resulted in two short completions to the outside from a tight slot right presnap alignment. His final target, a 24-yard wide open seam route, jump-started the 49ers' game-winning drive.
TE Garrett Celek
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 63 - 1 (3 targets) - Celek made the most out of his three targets. His first got San Francisco back into field goal range on 3rd-and-18. His second target produced their only touchdown of the game. And his third gained 41 yards, which comprised most of the yardage in an early fourth quarter field goal drive. On the latter two big plays, Celek was completely uncovered on his deep corner routes.
Arizona Cardinals 15, Washington Redskins 20
What you need to know
- Finally, mercifully, the Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday. While that had been a foregone conclusion for much of the season, Sunday’s confirmation allows management to begin truly looking towards 2018 and beyond. The franchise is very much at a crossroads, with a lack of talent apparent throughout the roster and age at the most vital positions (including the coaching staff); the organization has many questions in need of answers. While the present outlook for 2018 and beyond is not terribly optimistic, the offseason promises far more excitement than this dull, uninspired regular season provided, so at least there is something to look forward to.
- When Washington is struggling to control the line of scrimmage the offense isn't able to move the ball. Kirk isn't at his best facing pressure so the conditions need to be ideal for him to produce. The injuries on the offensive line have contributed to Kirk's struggles and have a domino effect on the entire offense. Defensively, if Washington can minimize the big plays and generate a pass rush they can be problematic for offenses. Overall, injuries have taken their toll on both sides of the ball for Washington.
QB Blaine Gabbert
, 85 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 41 - 189 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 28 - 0 - For the second straight week the Cardinals offense was unable to find the end zone, instead going a perfect 5-5 in field goal opportunities. Unlike last week, however, those field goals proved not enough in overcoming an opponent that is nearly as anemic. At the center of the struggles was QB Blaine Gabbert
, whose sub-50% completion percentage and fewer than 5-yards per attempt average stalled the offense all afternoon. As has been the case all season, there was blame to be spread around. The offensive line struggled to protect and aside from Fitzgerald, the offensive weapons leave much to be desired, but Gabbert’s struggles were too apparent to be ignored. He missed on touchdowns and first downs, fumbled early leading to a quick Washington touchdown, and failed to convert a single red zone opportunity. Simply put, he is still the same Blaine Gabbert
he has always been, despite how many flowery quotes Coach Arians uses when speaking about him. His one true great ball of the day, a 41-yard bomb to J.J. Nelson
coming off a play-action roll-out, was immediately followed by a stall-out red zone drive resulting in one of the team’s many field goals.
RB Kerwynn Williams
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 61 - 0 (1 targets) - The run game was a lone bright spot early in Sunday’s game, with the Cardinals finding a lot of success early running between the tackles. Williams was the primary ball carrier early on, notching the majority of his 17 carriers all before half. But the pain of the broken ribs he had been playing with became too much, forcing Elijah Penny to finish out the contest. Collectively their numbers were not bad, producing over 100-yards on a hair shy of 4-yards-per-carry, but trailing early and often prevented a full commitment to the run game, and Gabbert’s inability to provide much through the air left for a fairly unbalanced attack. Williams is an easy player to root for and his performance through the struggles of the last several weeks a lone bright spot. It would be shame to see him have to sit out the remainder of the season as well.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 84 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 60 - 0 (10 targets) - Fitzgerald kept his “consecutive games with a catch” streak alive on Sunday, and once again led the team in both targets and receptions, but beyond that, there is little to say about the future Hall of Famer. Fitzgerald amassed 60 total yards on Sunday, absurdly accounting for just under 1/3rd of the team’s total receiving yards, but with little impact worth mentioning. In fact, Fitzgerald dropped his final target of the afternoon, a pass that would have prolonged the Cardinals comeback efforts but instead ended their afternoon. A surprising end to an uninspiring offensive performance.
TE Troy Niklas
, 79 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (6 targets) - With an injured Jermaine Gresham
out, Troy Niklas
took on a prominent role in Sunday’s offense. Niklas was serviceable but inconsistent in his more robust role, providing a vital outlet for Gabbert when he was unable to push the ball downfield, but failed in the end to secure a catch which would have likely led to a Cardinals victory. Trailing by five late in the 4th quarter, Niklas ran a seam-route up the numbers and Gabbert hit him right in the hands. The catch, had he not ended up scoring, would have had the Cardinals on the 2-yard line, with many opportunities to convert. Instead, the Cardinals failed to convert a 4th-down play and the just like that the game was over.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 26 - 196 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0 - Kirk Cousins
didn't have a big day in the box score but did enough to get the win. The offense got off to a quick start as Kirk capitalized off an Arizona turnover. Kirk was able to get possession of the ball already in the red zone where he found Jamison Crowder
on a drag route. He had twenty six attempts on the day but was wildly inaccurate throughout much of this game. The second touchdown Kirk threw came on a screen pass that went for thirty-six yards. Kirk still had trouble converting third downs, but he had zero turnovers. Kirk was able to manage this game well enough to secure a win as Washington's defense continued getting Kirk the ball back. This was one of the more conservative games that Kirk has played all year.
RB Samaje Perine
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 37 - 0, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets) - Samaje Perine
played a steady roll in this game but didn't contribute significantly. He had sixteen total touches for less than seventy yards. The running game has suffered with the offensive line being banged up, so this has directly affected Samaje's production. His longest rush in this game went for six yards.
RB Kapri Bibbs
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 47 - 1 (4 targets) - Kapri Bibbs
played a significantly role in the passing game today as the change of pace running back. He had four receptions and scored one of the two touchdowns scored on offense. He wasn't used much in the running game but as a passing down option he will be valuable for Washington's offense the last couple of games.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 55 - 1 (7 targets) - Jamison Crowder
got back on track this week as the leading receiver for Washington. He led the team in receptions and yards as he scored one of only two touchdowns on the day. Jamison's score came on the team's first possession as Kirk found him on a crossing route in the end zone. Crowder's longest completion went for twenty-four yards but the offense was fairly inconsistent throughout the game. Crowder had an opportunity to have a bigger day but Kirk struggled to connect with Jamison on a few inaccurate passes.
WR Josh Doctson
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Josh Doctson
had a quiet day in the Washington offense. He tallied two receptions but didn't get involved in the game much at all. The inability to sustain drives hurt his chances to get going in this game.
WR Ryan Grant
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Ryan Grant
didn't make an impact in this game as he only recorded two receptions. The offense was stalled all day which hindered Ryan's opportunities.
TE Vernon Davis
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Vernon Davis
wasn't able to get going in this game as he only had two catches for less than twenty yards. The Cardinals paid close attention to Vernon as he has been a steady contributor all year. The offense couldn't get in a rhythm and that ultimately minimized Vernon's opportunities to contribute.
TE Niles Paul
, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Niles Paul
was a non-factor in today's game as he only recorded one reception.
Chicago Bears 10, Detroit Lions 20
What you need to know
- The Bears offense was completely contained by the Lions until the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter. Mitchell Trubisky
was held back by penalties and an ineffective running game. Kendall Wright
was the main garbage time target and the best Bears wideout to play in a good Week 16 matchup against Cleveland.
- The Detroit Lions got an early lead against the Chicago Bears, and were able to run a conservative game plan for much of the day. Theo Riddick
started but suffered an injury and was replaced by Tion Green
. Ameer Abdullah
returned to the game, but was purely an ancillary player in the offense. The passing game was muted by the game script but Marvin Jones
and Eric Ebron
continued to show good rapport with Matthew Stafford
QB Mitchell Trubisky
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 46 - 314 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0 - Trubisky didn't get the Bears into the Lions side of the field until the two-minute warning of the first half. A struggling running game set him up in lots of third and longs and the team's field goal was set up by a turnover, not offensive production. Trubisky threw a pick to open the second half and then threw another pick when the Bears were knocking on the door to open the fourth quarter. He led a long drive in garbage time and leaned on Kendall Wright
and Josh Bellamy
, capping it with a toss to Benny Cunningham
, but threw his third pick to end any chance the Bears had to be a back door cover.
RB Jordan Howard
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 37 - 0, Rec: 4 - 26 - 0 (4 targets) - Howard never got in a groove as the Bears offense had a lot of trouble sustaining drives in this loss. He had a few good gains called back by penalty and did set up the Bears on a first and goal with a strong run from the 24-yard-line. He was involved enough as a receiver to salvage something in PPR leagues, but his performance was a far cry from his Week 14 game and his strong game in Week 11 against the Lions.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0, Rec: 4 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - Cohen wasn't as involved early as he was in the first matchup and ended up being a non-factor in this game. He collected a few short receptions, had a long kick return called back by penalty and got a wildcat snap on an uneventful afternoon.
WR Kendall Wright
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 81 - 0 (13 targets) - Wright was mostly a target of incompletions and one interceptions until he racked up five catches on garbage time drives. He appears to have the best chemistry with Mitchell Trubisky
of any Bears wideout heading into a matchup with the Browns.
WR Josh Bellamy
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 70 - 0 (7 targets) - Bellamy had two penalties, but also had four catches of 13 yards or longer. He appears to be the main downfield threat for the Bears pass offense at this point.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 33 - 237 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Matthew Stafford
had an up and down day against the Chicago Bears. Stafford missed big throws including a red zone throw to Eric Ebron
that would have been a touchdown and deep post to Kenny Golladay
. Stafford did make other solid throws in the game, including a throw to the boundary from a muddled pocket on a comeback route to Kenny Golladay
for 13 yards. Stafford threw with better velocity this week than last week, but struggled with deep accuracy. Stafford's big play of the day was a deep throw to Marvin Jones
where Jones caught the ball in a contested jump ball situation. Stafford had one touchdown on the day, a well-thrown ball up the seam to Ebron in the red zone. Stafford has shown a good relationship with Ebron and Jones in recent weeks.
RB Theo Riddick
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 49 - 0, Rec: 3 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - Theo Riddick
started the game at running back despite Ameer Abdullah
being active. Riddick did not have much room to run and was not able to create yards after contact. His usage in the passing game out of the backfield likewise found little success. His long reception was an eight yard catch on an angle route, but he was otherwise tackled upon the catch. Riddick fumbled at the end of the first half on a carry designed to run the clock down before the half. The fumble set up Chicago for a field goal. Riddick was not used in the second half after suffering an injury, and Tion Green
handled his workload.
RB Tion Green
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 35 - 0 - Tion Green
was the second back in the game, behind Theo Riddick
but in front of Ameer Abdullah
. Green carried the primary workload in the second half after Riddick's first half fumble and injury. Green ran hard, but he is unexceptional football player, and did not have much room to run. Green tends to run hesitant, but when he makes up his mind he runs hard. Green also showed a nice stiff arm on a run where he was able to get yards after contact.
RB Ameer Abdullah
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (4 targets) - Ameer Abdullah
's first action was on the third drive of the game. His first touch came from a split backfield shared with Riddick on a pass in the flat. Abdullah was relegated primarily to passing game usage that was not effective. He did have a red zone carry but was limited to that one carry. He operated as the clear third back behind Riddick and Tion Green
WR Kenny Golladay
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - Kenny Golladay
had an up and down day in the passing game. He ran a good comeback route along the sideline, was involved in the screen game and later drew an illegal hands to the face penalty. Golladay also had a deep post where he split the corner and the safety, but was overthrown by Matthew Stafford
. While Golladay saw positive usage, he was also called for a blatant offensive pass interference on a pass down the right perimeter.
WR Golden Tate
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (5 targets) - Tate was nearly invisible in the first half of the game with his first notable involvement coming on a screen on first possession of the second half. Tate got became involved in the passing game in the second half, with another catch on the first drive of the half, and later drew a defensive pass interference. Tate's best play of the day was a screen where he put Kendall Fuller on the ground with his juke move for a 19-yard gain.
WR Marvin Jones
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 85 - 0 (5 targets) - Marvin Jones
was limited to only three catches, but produced a highlight. Jones ran a scramble drill with Stafford where Jones turned a short route up the field. Stafford threw a 50/50 ball where Jones elevated snatching the ball out of Eddie Jackson's hands. Jones was later targeted in the red zone on a slant, but never separated on the route. Stafford's throw was purposefully too high where only Jones could retrieve it, but Jones could not elevate on the play. Jones was limited on the rest of the day to three other targets all in the short and intermediate area of the field.
WR T.J. Jones
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 1 (3 targets) - T.J. Jones
contributed in an ancillary role in the offense, scoring a touchdown on a rub route. Jones also ran a comeback along the sideline where he was able to get his feet in bounds. With Golladay in the lineup, Jones is relegated to a WR4 role, but is a dependable player when called upon by Matthew Stafford
TE Eric Ebron
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 33 - 1 (7 targets) - Eric Ebron
continued his recent streak of solid play, scoring a touchdown on a red zone seam route. Stafford threw the ball where only Ebron could catch the ball, and Ebron successfully executed the catch. Ebron was also used on a shovel pass in the red zone. The remainder of his usage was underneath in the passing game where he was largely held in check, outside of a 19 yard catch and run. Ebron looks markedly better than he did in October and early November where he played with little confidence.
Philadelphia Eagles 34, New York Giants 29
What you need to know
- Everyone was wondering how the Eagles would respond after losing Carson Wentz
and despite the end result, there are still a lot of questions in Philadelphia. Nick Foles
looked good in his return to starting action and Jay Ajayi
was finally given the chance to be the lead back. However, the Eagles defense allowed Eli Manning
to throw for 434 yards and gave him a chance for the game-winning touchdown from the 11-yard line with less than a minute left. The defense really needed to step up this week to support the offense, but they were unable to deliver. With games against the Raiders and Cowboys to close out the season, the Eagles will have to play better on defense if they want to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
New York Giants
- The Giants shock everyone with an explosive performance offensively in this game. Manning played at a high level, though he was fortunate more of his passes were not picked off. This performance seems unlikely to be repeated based on the track record of this season but perhaps the offense can improve under Steve Spagnuolo. Shepard's value took a big increase as he was targeted heavily in this game, a solid play going forward. Engram remains a must play at tight end.
Darkwa has been trending downwards in recent times and Gallman is the stronger play, despite Darkwa managing to get into the endzone from time to time. Neither play is reccomended however as the Giants have not run the ball well this season.
QB Nick Foles
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 38 - 237 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0 - There were a lot of questions about how Foles would be able to fill in for Carson Wentz
and he simply responded by throwing 4 touchdowns and not turning the ball over in a close game. Foles did not do anything overly spectacular, but he did find the open receiver and was comfortable checking the ball down when needed. The first touchdown came on a 3-yard post to Alshon Jeffery
where he cut back across the field and tiptoed across the back line. The play was reviewed and upheld. The second touchdown was a 10-yard strike up the seam to Zach Ertz
. Ertz had missed the previous week under concussion protocol and made his presence felt this week. Foles third touchdown came on a 13-yard pass to back up tight end Trey Burton
, and his final was a beautiful slant route to Nelson Agholor
. Foles did not try and push the ball down the field or do too much this week and it worked out in his favor. It will be interesting to see how he responds when they are down, and he needs to make the big play to come back. In the meantime, Foles did enough this week to calm the Philadelphia fans down for another week.
RB Jay Ajayi
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 49 - 0, Rec: 2 - 40 - 0 (2 targets) - Since trading for Ajayi, the Eagles have been very noncommittal with their backfield. Blount has not exactly panned out like they expected but is still getting the bulk of the goal line carries. Corey Clement
has shown flashes of brilliance and deserves touches as well. This is the first week that Ajayi has had more touches than any other back and he did just enough with them to be deserving of more. He also chipped in a 32-yard reception that is outside of his usual skill set. Ajayi did not find the end zone this week but is slowly working his way to the top of the running back depth chart.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 21 - 0 - Blount was only given 7 carries this week and was unable to do much of anything with them. He averaged 3 yards per carry and none of the work came on the goal line this week. Ajayi has slowly taken touches away from Blount and he now looks to be the expendable piece for the Eagles this offseason. With Kenjon Barner
and Corey Clement
starting to make noise behind him, Blount is going to continue to lose touches as the season wraps up.
RB Corey Clement
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Clement was only given 5 touches this week but did everything he could to make the best of them. He tallied 10 of his 17 rushing yards on a single carry and was largely ineffective with the other 3. The most important play came on his 1-yard touchdown reception. This is usually Blount territory and it is interesting to see the Eagles go to Clement in the air rather than their high priced free agent. Clement may see more work to close out the season as he seems the better counter to Ajayi and his power running style.
WR Nelson Agholor
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 59 - 1 (9 targets) - There was no receiver that really ran away with it this week. Agholor lead a receiving core where no one topped 60 yards, but he did rank second in targets with 9 this week. Agholor's touchdown came on a back-shoulder fade where he jumps over and takes the ball away from Darryl Morris. This would be reminiscent of the catches Randy Moss
used to make. Agholor also added a 16-yard first down catch to help set up another Eagles touchdown. In a game where no one really stood out, Agholor lead the way for all receivers.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (10 targets) - Jeffrey had a very tough game despite his touchdown reception. The number one receiver was targeted 10 times but only hauled in 4 of those chances. There seemed to be some miscommunication between Jeffrey and Foles and the timing was clearly off. Jeffrey ran several option routes where the receiver and quarterback were just not on the same page. However, his touchdown catch was beautiful. Jeffrey ran a post across the middle of the field, noticed Foles scrambling in the pocket and worked his way back to the sideline. Foles hit Jeffrey in stride in the back of the end zone and the former Bear receiver was able to tiptoe the back line for a touchdown. For all of the miscues between the two, this play showed they will be a force to reckon with as they work together more.
TE Zach Ertz
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 56 - 1 (9 targets) - There were a lot of questions as to whether or not Ertz was going to play this week. He was still limited in practice the majority of the week, but he managed to clear protocol and suited up for the Eagles. Ertz tied for second on the team with 9 targets and pulled in a 10-yard touchdown grab directly up the seam. Foles laid the ball just behind the linebacker and in front of the closing in safety where only Ertz could make a play on the ball. Foles looked very comfortable throwing to both Ertz and Burton as many of his throws were check downs and short passes. If he can stay healthy, Ertz is going to play a big role in the Eagles offense for the rest of the season and throughout the playoffs.
TE Trey Burton
, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 1 (2 targets) - Burton had a touchdown last week filling in for Zach Ertz
and decided that he liked it so much that he wanted to do it again this week. His 13-yard touchdown came on a blown coverage where his cover man jumped the route by Alshon Jeffrey and there was no safety help to pick him up. Burton celebrated the easy touchdown with a spinning ball campfire celebration with Jeffrey who had pulled his man off his coverage.
QB Eli Manning
, 88 offensive snaps, Pass: 37 - 57 - 434 - 3 TD / 1 INT - Eli Manning
had a highly productive game on Sunday against the Eagles. He played well for most of the game but got lucky in many situations and the defense dropped several passes that should have been intercepted. Manning was accurate and decisive early on as he kept the Giants moving down the found. He showed excellent touch on a sideline ball to Lewis down the sideline. Manning was also successful at drawing the Eagles offsides, getting two "free" plays that he was able to take advantage of. He looked down the field for big plays whenever he was afforded time in the pocket and the slant play was available to him throughout. King got wide open on a slant n go route in the redzone and Manning had an easy touchdown pass. Manning didn't see the linebacker in coverage on the subsequent drive and was picked off as he fired a ball to the outside. He was fortunate that a defender dropped a ball that was thrown in his direction. Manning missed a few passes deep, just overthrowing his intended receiver by inches but made up for it. His second touchdown was a simple breakaway play form Shepard on a short drag route, running away from the defense that made several poor attempts to tackle him. Manning found King again on a deep pass down the sideline, who was able to extend just over the goal line for the third touchdown. Manning should have been picked again with another dropped interception and ultimately fell just short of a fourth touchdown at the goal line but got very little help from his defense.
RB Wayne Gallman
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 39 - 0, Rec: 6 - 40 - 0 (7 targets) - Wayne Gallman
has become the lead back in the Giants backfield and looks the most threatening of NYG running backs when rushing the ball. He was active in the passing game as a screen pass target and very productive on the ground, despite a low workload in this game. The Giants were forced to pass a lot as the woeful defense surrendered too many points to the Eagles. This clearly decreased Gallman's touches and hurt his production as a fantasy play for this week. He showed terrific quickness making a man miss in the hole and picking up the first down despite the defender having the advantage early on. Gallman showed excellent vision in his runs, picking the right holes and getting maximum value out of every carry. He showed good power to knock back defenders also. A decent but somewhat risky play in PPR leagues as a low end # 3 RB going forward.
RB Orleans Darkwa
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 7 - 1, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Orleans Darkwa
got very few touches in this game as the Giants had to pass a lot in this game. Darkwa has been outproduced by Gallman in the running game in recent times and should not be played in fantasy. His only saving grave is his use as a goal line back. Darkwa did manage to get into the endzone on a goal line carry, the blocking was excellent up front on the play and created an easy path into the endzone. Darkwa was almost never targeted in the passing game however and never got anything going on the ground. He can be dropped in most fantasy leagues as the trend towards Gallman as the lead back will likely continue.
WR Sterling Shepard
, 85 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 139 - 1 (16 targets) - Sterling Shepard
had a very strong game on Sunday and really was a thorn in the Eagles side throughout this game. Shepard moved the chains for the Giants on numerous occasions and accounted for a high proportion of this passing attack. He took advantage of man to man coverage with slant plays over the middle and Manning looked often to the young receiver on third down. He showed excellent speed getting wide open on a seam route and hauling in the pass. Shepard did have several drops however, and could have had an even bigger game. His concentration was not on point at times, not securing the ball before turning upfield. Shepard more than made up for it on his touchdown run however. He took a short drag route all the way to the endzone down the sideline, evading Eagle defenders and turning on his speed once he got free. Shepard was open again down the sideline late in the game but Manning overthrew him by just a yard. He was more often then not a strong, dependable target for Manning that produced in the clutch when a conversion was needed. This is a good comeback game for Shepard who has been very inconsistent this season, a decent play going forward for the rest of the season.
WR Roger Lewis
, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 74 - 0 (10 targets) - Roger Lewis
jr. never got into the endzone but made some key catches in this game to keep the Giants alive. Lewis also had a slant play negated by an offensive holding by a lineman which slightly dampered his night. He was open against the sideline and hauled in a nice touch pass from Manning early on to scare the Eagle defense. Lewis then ran slants/in breaking routes to take advantage of soft coverage in the secondary for first downs. He got open again on a corner route and secured the play in bounds. Lewis had one more shot at another deep pass but it was slightly overthrown, he was unable to control it with one hand. Lewis was quite productive by his standards but the Giants were forced to pass a lot in this game. He cannot compete for many touches with Shepard/Engram on the field at the same time so he must remain in the waiver wire unfortunately.
WR Tavarres King
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 70 - 2 (3 targets) - Tavarres King
only managed two catches in this game but he made them count as they both went for touchdowns. King used his quickness and excellent route running to get wide open on a slant n' go route in the redzone. He faked inside perfectly before breaking to the corner and easily scoring in bounds. King later took a seam route all the way down the field, making a terrific catch with a nearby defender before burning the Eagle secondary and extending just enough to secure the touchdown. King has always been a boom/bust player and not reliable as a fantasy player. He has incredible raw talent down the field but his targets are usually few and far between. This level of production is his ceiling, his floor is usually much lower however.
TE Evan Engram
, 74 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 14 - 0, Rec: 8 - 87 - 0 (13 targets) - Evan Engram
was highly involved in the offense in this game as he tends to be. He was targeted heavily from Manning and his production was crucial. Engram did not manage to score, though he did receive several targets in the endzone. Engram worked the short/intermediate of the field very well, beating linebackers in coverage and boxing out defensive backs when possible. He made a terrific grab on a curl route to the outside that could have been picked off as the coverage was very tight. Engram got wide open down the seam and made a big play, getting down the field quickly while carrying defenders upon first contact. Manning missed him in the endzone on a jump ball, just placing the pass too high. Engram even had 14 yard gain on an end-around rush which further showed his athleticism as a tight end. A solid play every week, Engram remains a strong tight end in PPR/non leagues.
Houston Texans 7, Jacksonville Jaguars 45
What you need to know
- Lamar Miller
is dealing with a knee injury, so his status is something to watch moving forward.
is dealing with what is called “Sand Toe,” an injury to the top of his toe. Intentions are to monitor him during the week to get him ready to play. Still something to watch moving forward.
- The Jaguars offense was missing three key pieces for the matchup with the Texans, with Allen Hurns
and Leonard Fournette
as injury scratches and with Marqise Lee
leaving the game early with an ankle injury. This did not matter, though, as Blake Bortles
continued the best stretch of his career and used the limited weapons at his disposal to shred the Texans defense for three quarters, before the starters were pulled for the fourth.
QB T.J. Yates
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 31 - 128 - 1 TD / 1 INT - It was a complete disaster for T.j. Yates and offense throwing for 128 yards for 1 touchdowns and 1 interception. Yates struggled with reads and the offensive line did not help with protections. Yates targeted Hopkins plenty of times during the game and hit him 4 times for 80 yards. His only touchdown came on a 25 yard touchdown strike on a solid vertical route that hit him in stride. Outside of Will Fuller
getting five receptions for 44 yards, Yates struggled all game to make a difference.
RB Alfred Blue
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 55 - 0 (1 targets) - The Texan had to turn to Alfred Blue
int he running game and he rushed for 55 yards on the day and all of his yards came on hard earned plays. His longest run was only 7 yards and he was targeted once in the passing game. The Texans running game depended on Blue with Miller’s knee issue.
RB Lamar Miller
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 32 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets) - The Texans couldn’t run the ball and dealing with a knee injury, touches were limited with 11 for 33 yards. It was easily his worst output of the season but with the Jaguars defense there was not much going on offensively. Miller did have the longest run of the day for 11 yards but he wasn’t giving much in the passing game and was eventually giving snaps to Alfred Blue
by the end of the game.
WR Will Fuller
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 44 - 0 (5 targets) - Fuller has become non-existent on being a vertical threat since the exit of Deshaun Watson
. Fuller did have 5 receptions for 44 yards but they are all under neath routes with the Jaguars playing over the top in coverage. His longest reception was 15 yards on the day and he did not have a target over 20 yards on the day.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 80 - 1 (13 targets) - The one bright spot for the offense, Hopkins had 4 receptions on 80 yards for a touchdown. He was targeted 13 times but plenty of those were not catchable for Hopkins. His best catch came on a 25 yard touchdown reception over Jalen Ramsey. Also, he had a 40 yard reception on a nice move where he turned Ramsey for a solid reception. The production is still there for Hopkins and it is coming with volume targets.
QB Blake Bortles
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 29 - 326 - 3 TD / 0 INT - Bortles, for the third week in a row, had one of the best games of his career. He was able to frequently escape pressure, either by rolling outside the pocket or by stepping up in the pocket, and had several downfield touch passes that gave Keelan Cole
and Dede Westbrook
chances to make plays. His best throw came on a deep crosser to Cole, similar to last week against the Seahawks. He rolled to his left and used his vision to create leverage vs the defensive lineman. He then lofted an off balance pass down the field to Cole. The pass was just over the head of the defensive back and gave Cole more than enough room for yards after the catch. On each of Bortles theee touchdown passes, he showed good vision as a passer and made the right read. On his final touchdown of the game, to Keelan Cole
, he read Cole breaking open in the middle of the end zone and completed the pass with velocity and accuracy.
RB Chris Ivory
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 42 - 0 - Ivory has had a forgettable tenure as a Jaguar and this week only added to it. He got a number of chances to score at the goal line, but he is unable to convert short yardage situations due to his lack of explosiveness. Once he gets hit at the line, he will not do much more. He didn't have any long runs or even impressive runs on the day, either, despite running room. His vision and burst have declined and when the team had 4th-and-1 at the goal line, they opted to go with a fullback dive instead of handing it to Ivory.
RB Tommy Bohanon
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 2 - 2 - Bohanon only had two carries but he turned each into a touchdown. He gets a ton of playing time, regardless of who the starting RB is, so he is always a threat to steal a TD.
WR Keelan Cole
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 186 - 1 (9 targets) - Cole dominated the Texans secondary with complete ease. He caught every deep target that came his way, a vast improvement from earlier in the season. He shows the vertical speed to beat defensive backs on go routes as well as the awareness and quickness to get consistent separation across the middle. He stepped up into the teams role for Marqise Lee
once Lee went out of the game, and was even more productive than Lee has been. His touchdown, his third week in a row with a score, was due to excellent route running and a good release.
WR Jaydon Mickens
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 61 - 2 (5 targets) - Due to the injuries to the top 3 WRs on the Jaguars week 1 depth chart, Mickens, typically used as a dynamite punt returner only, got a ton of playing time. This resulted in his first two career receiving touchdowns. The first came on a bubble screen where he fought through a tackle at the goal line, while the second one showed terrific awareness as he broke free to the left side of the end zone after Bortles began to move out of the pocket.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Westbrook had a quiet game compared to Cole but he still showed a lot of the traits that have people excited about him. He once again showed an ability to pull in the tough catch, catching two contested passes in the game. He also drew two pass interferences in the end zone that would lead to Jaguar touchdowns. He has not been used as much as a deep threat as anticipated earlier, but he has done all of the little things well and continues to do so.
WR Marqise Lee
, 11 offensive snaps - Lee left the game early with an ankle injury and was a non-factor
Atlanta Falcons 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
What you need to know
- Atlanta entered this game without guard Andy Levitre and running back Tevin Coleman
, but it didn’t hurt their ground game a bit. Devonta Freeman
and Terron Ward
routinely got into the Buccaneers secondary on toss plays to either side of the field. These gains forced Tampa to align its linebackers tight to the line of scrimmage, which opened the middle of the field for the passing game. Freeman earned 68 yards as a receiver and had a few big plays on angle routes breaking across this shallow zone with no one round. Matt Ryan
exploited Tampa’s loss of a starting quarterback with a stop-fade to Justin Hardy
to cap its second drive of the game and they built a 10-point lead in the second quarter. However, Ryan and Julio Jones
had difficulty hooking up on open deep passes and it led to stalled drives that helped Tampa cut the lead to four points. When Atlanta got too predictable late in the game, Tampa was able to force a third and long, sack Ryan, and earn a final drive that put them in field goal range with five seconds left. However, the Buccaneers missed the attempt, preserving an Atlanta win and knocking Green Bay from playoff contention.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay's defense took the field without Gerald McCoy or Lavonte David, while Doug Martin
(rules violation) was the only offensive starter unavailable. The Bucs receiving core was decimated by injury as the game went on. Tight end OJ Howard left the game with a foot injury after scoring in the 1st quarter, Desean Jackson exited the game in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury, and Cameron Brate
missed the 2nd quarter with a knee injury before returning after halftime. Tampa Bay got the ball back with a minute left to play down 24-21, and Winston led a drive into Atlanta territory that ended with Patrick Murray
missing a 54 yard attempt as time expired. Tampa Bay blocked a Matt Bryant
field goal attempt in the 3rd quarter.
QB Matt Ryan
, Pass: 17 - 31 - 212 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 29 - 0 - While on-target in the short passing game, Ryan was once again inconsistent on vertical targets greater than 25 yards. He found Justin Hardy
for 20 yards on a curl route while taking a hit to his chest during the release, giving Hardy room to gain another 7 on the play. He later found Hardy to cap the drive with a seven-yard stop fade for the score against a Buccaneers defense that had only 10 defenders on the field. He also found Jones on a deep curl in an empty middle against a deep safety on a play-action pass from inside its own five. This was the outer limits of his accuracy. He hesitated to target Jones on deep seam route in the second quarter when the receiver had position on the safety, but Ryan wanted an extra second of confirmation. By the team he released the ball, the throw was late and behind Jones, which allowed both the trailing linebacker and safety to close on Jones and break up the play. Ryan later drove Atlanta from inside its own 20 with less than 2 minutes left with several short passes. However, his placement was too high on consecutive passes after getting past midfield, and it led to a punt with 30 seconds left. In the third quarter, Ryan found Jones on a deep crossing route with a perfect throw of at least 45 yards but the ball went through Jones’ hands. While Ryan repeatedly avoided pressure and broke the pocket for gains up the left flat, the consistent second-half pressure impacted Ryan as the half progressed. He misfired to an open Hardy near the Tampa three late in the third and it led a 33-yard field goal attempt that the Buccaneers blocked. After Tampa closed the lead to three, Ryan got sacked trying to climb the pocket on 3rd and 9 with 1:24 left, which gave the Buccaneers a final chance to tie the game.
RB Devonta Freeman
, Rush: 22 - 126 - 1, Rec: 5 - 68 - 0 (7 targets) - Tampa run blitzed the correct gap to stop Freeman at the line of scrimmage for a gain of a yard on the opening play from an I formation set. That was the best defense of a run play the Buccaneers had for most of the night. Freeman and the Falcons routinely gashed Tampa with toss plays to either side of the field. Freeman found huge gaps at the line of scrimmage and no linebackers to tackle him until he was trucking safeties 9-12 yards downfield. He ran over T.J. Ward on a 22-yard gain and later did the same Chris Conte. Freeman scored on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter and a 32-yard toss play up the right flat in the fourth quarter. He had two fumbles in this game. The first was on the one-yard plunge but it was ruled that he crossed the plane. The second happened on a run up the right flat into the secondary where he tried to run over Conte a second time and lost the ball. Atlanta recovered each fumbled, even if only one was officially scored as such. His best play of the night was a critical third-down catch over the middle on a pivot route against hard contact with a little more than two minutes left after Tampa closed the lead to four points.
RB Terron Ward
, Rush: 8 - 40 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - The third-string back earned significant playing time due to Tevin Coleman
’s injury, and he played well. Ward caught an angle route to reach the 20 of Tampa for a 6-yard gain on 2nd and 12 in the middle of the first quarter. He then earned a nine yards with a hard cut downhill of right tackle to begin the third drive. He followed up with a run around right end with a cut inside Justin Hardy
for the first down. Later, Ward took a toss play up the right sideline for nine yards. He also made a strong cutback to the left flat for a first down across midfield in the middle of the fourth quarter to extend a drive. Ward runs a lot more like Freeman and he’s a good fit for a zone game. He lacks top speed, but his quickness, balance, and patience are all strong traits.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets) - He earned three yards on an end around early in the second quarter. He had to outrun good pursuit and edge containment to reach the sideline. He earned a first down on a 9-yard catch in the left flat on a crossing route with about a minute left. Gabriel caught a 3rd and 22 pass for a 6-yard gain as a check-down that forced a punt on Atlanta’s first drive of the third quarter.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (5 targets) - Ryan overshot Sanu on a corner route to the end zone but even if he pass was on-target, Robert McClain had Sanu covered step-for-step. Sanu earned a few yards up the right flat on a wide receiver screen with less than 90 seconds left in the half and later caught a scramble drill with Ryan flushing right. Sanu uncovered against the linebacker for 21 yards to the right sideline during the same drive with 49 seconds left. He then dropped a high throw to the left sideline with 39 seconds left on 2nd and 2. He was not highly involved in the second half.
WR Julio Jones
, Rec: 3 - 54 - 0 (8 targets) - It was an up-and-down game for Jones. He dropped a 3rd and 5 pass on a pivot route on the opening drive after Brent Grimes wrapped Jones’ waist on the break. He then a diving catch near the left boundary, earning eight yards and getting inside the Buccaneers’ 30 during the second drive. Jones closest shot at the end zone came on a third-down crossing route for 17 yards through a wide-open middle of the Tampa zone, reaching the Buccaneers’ 3. In the second quarter, Jones got open on an option route against a free safety in the middle of the second quarter, breaking the route to a curl and gaining 29 on the play. Matt Ryan
underthrew a wide-open Jones up the right seam later in the half because the quarterback didn’t trust what was a clear open opportunity and hesitated. Jones returned the bad favor by allowing a perfectly thrown deep crossing route through his hands that could have resulted in a long touchdown in the third quarter.
WR Justin Hardy
, Rec: 2 - 33 - 1 (4 targets) - : He earned 27 yards on a deep curl where the coverage fell to the ground while adjusting to Hardy’s break. The receiver continued up the seam for about seven of those yards after the catch. Hardy got open as the single left receiver from the Tampa seven on a stop fade against the blitz with only 10 defenders on the field for the first Atlanta touchdown. Hardy later dropped a high-point target across the middle in the end zone with Chris Conte wrapped around him late in the third quarter.
WR Andre Roberts
- He continued his strong season as a kick returner, taking the opening kickoff up the right hash to the Atlanta 36. He ran through the reach of the first defender on a 58-yard punt for a 13-yard return. He reached the 25 on his second kick return.
TE Austin Hooper
, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - He earned five yards on a short out to begin the Falcons’ second drive. It was his only target of the game.
TE Levine Toilolo
- He recovered a Devonta Freeman
fumble on a one-yard plunge, but it appears the officials rewarded the score to freeman. It was the extent of his fantasy-relevant action.
QB Jameis Winston
, Pass: 27 - 35 - 299 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 18 - 0 - Winston played one of his better games of the season, throwing three touchdowns with no turnovers. Winston hooked up with OJ Howard for an early touchdown, capitalizing when a defender fell down while covering Howard on a shallow cross. No one else was close enough to catch Howard once he took off up the left sideline, picking up most of the yards after the catch. Winston lost the ball while taking a sack in the 2nd quarter, but the fumble was recovered by an offensive lineman. Winston hit Evans down the right sideline for a beautiful 55 yard touchdown early in the 3rd quarter, but the receiver was flagged for pushing off on his defender before the catch. The two redeemed themselves shortly after with a 42 yard touchdown connection. Winston lined up under center in a run formation with two fullbacks and a tailback. Evans lined up tight to the formation and took off on a deep post as Winston faked the handoff and launched the ball deep. Evans soared over two defenders, pulling in the touchdown pass as he fell to the earth between them. Winston found Adam Humphries
for his third touchdown, capping a long drive that saw multiple completions to Humphries and Evans. On the scoring play, Winston took the snap and rolled out right to avoid pressure. Humphries took off upfield from the right slot, then made a nice adjustment to work himself open in the back of the endzone, where Winston hit him for his first touchdown of the year.
Winston and the offense got the ball back down 24-21 with less than a minute in the 4th quarter. Winston drove them down the field with multiple completions to Brate and Humphries, with backup receivers Godwin and Martino chipping in receptions as well. Patrick Murray
unfortunately missed his 54 yard field goal attempt to tie the game as the clock expired. Winston had Tampa's longest run of the day, a nifty 13 yard scramble in the 3rd quarter.
RB Peyton Barber
, Rush: 13 - 53 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - In Doug Martin
's absence(concussion) Barber was the only Tampa Bay back to receive carries. Jacquizz Rodgers
was active, but only returned kicks, seeing no time on offense. Charles Sims
was targeted a few times out of the backfield, but did not carry the ball. Barber averaged a solid 4.1 yards against a tough Atlanta run D, but the volume wasn't there as the Bucs played from behind most of the day. Barber lost a fumble inside Atlanta's five yard line near the end of the 2nd quarter, a costly mistake for the Bucs.
Barber caught a halfback screen for a short gain at the end of the 2nd quarter. He was targeted again on a shallow out early in the 3rd quarter, breaking a couple of tackles after the catch.
RB Charles Sims
, Rec: 4 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - Sims mixed in on passing downs as the only back besides Barber to receive snaps on offense. He did not log any carries, and couldn't get anything going with his pass targets. Sims flexed out to right receiver position and caught a slant early in the 1st quarter for a minimal gain. He split out wide again and caught a curl route for a short gain on the next drive. Sims caught a screen pass early in the 2nd quarter and miraculously broke three tackles before tearing up the left sideline. Atlanta challenged the play and it was determined that Sims' knee had touched down while breaking one of the tackles, negating the big gain. Sims lined up in the slot and caught a bubble screen that was blown up behind the line of scrimmage during the two-minute drill at the end of the first half.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
- Rodgers did not see any snaps on offense, even after Peyton Barber
lost a costly fumble inside the Atlanta 5 yard line. Rodgers returned kicks, with a long return of 45 yards in the 3rd quarter.
WR Adam Humphries
, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 5 - 43 - 1 (5 targets) - Humphries did not record a target or catch until the 3rd quarter when he pulled in a quick curl route from the left slot. He caught a short out route early in the 4th for no gain. Humphries heated up late, lining up in the left slot and hauling in a comeback route for a first down later in the 4th, followed by a WR screen a few plays later. Humphries capped the drive off with a 16 yard touchdown catch, his first of the season. Winston took the snap and rolled out right, extending the play while Humphries ran a deep route from the left slot, then worked his way open in back of the end zone with a nice adjustment as Winston bought time. Humphries also carried the ball once for a short gain on an end-around, and held down his usual punt return duties.
WR Mike Evans
, Rec: 5 - 79 - 1 (8 targets) - Winston narrowly missed Evans for a big gain on the left sideline with his first pass attempt. Evans hauled in a skinny post in the 2nd quarter for his first reception. Two plays later, Evans and Winston connected for a huge gain down the right sideline, but Evans drew an offensive pass interference penalty on the catch. Winston hit Evans for a couple more short gains before the end of the first half. Evans caught a beautiful 55 yard touchdown pass from Winston early in the third, but he was flagged for pushing off on his defender. Evans redeemed himself on the next drive with one of his most impressive catches of the season. Winston lined up in a run formation with two fullbacks and a halfback, then faked play action before launching the ball downfield to Evans. Evans had lined up tight to the formation and took off on a deep post at the snap, soaring over two defenders to pull down the touchdown pass. Winston found Evans once more on a slant route late in the 4th quarter that picked up 9 yards. Evans was targeted in the end zone at the end of the drive, but was badly overthrown. He finished the day with a team-high 8 targets and 79 yards, tied with Humphries for most receptions(5).
WR DeSean Jackson
, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Jackson hauled in a crossing pattern and turned it up the left sideline for a gain of 11 yards on his first target of the day. He carried the ball on an end around later in the 2nd quarter for a short gain. Shortly after, Jackson headed to the locker room with an ankle injury and did not return to the game.
WR Chris Godwin
, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (2 targets) - Despite a rash of injuries in the receiving core, Godwin wasn't targeted until the 4th quarter when he made an amazing catch in traffic on a seam route from the left wide receiver position.
WR Freddie Martino
, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Martino didn't see the field on offense until the waning minutes of the 4th quarter. He lined up wide left in a 5WR set and caught a deep comeback for a gain of 11 on his only target of the day.
TE Cameron Brate
, Rec: 4 - 49 - 0 (5 targets) - Brate took a big hit in the first quarter while hauling in a deep pass up the seam. The blow knocked the pass loose for an incompletion and sent Brate to the locker room with a knee injury. He returned after halftime, securing his first reception late in the 3rd quarter on a deep comeback route. Winston targeted him on the same route a few plays later, but a defender knocked the ball loose as Brate attempted to secure it. Brate flexed out to the slot and caught another deep comeback up the left seam late in the 4th quarter, setting up Adam Humphries
' touchdown reception two plays later. Brate picked up another 13 yard gain with less than a minute left in the game, hauling in an out route while the Bucs attempted to drive down and tie the game. Winston went right back to him two plays later for another completion up the seam with less than 20 seconds left in the game. The completions drove the Bucs into Atlanta territory, but kicker Murray missed the game-tying 54 yard attempt as time expired.
TE Antony Auclair
, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Rookie Auclair saw his first offensive snaps of the season after Howard and Brate went down with injuries. He caught a short checkdown pass on play action in the 2nd quarter, picking up 11 yards after the catch.
TE O.J. Howard
, Rec: 1 - 30 - 1 (1 targets) - Howard caught a shallow crossing route in the 1st quarter after his defender stumbled and fell, then outran everyone else up the left sideline for a 30 yard score. Unfortunately, Howard sustained a foot injury while being tackled in the end zone on the play and did not return to the game afterward. Rookie TE Auclair and fullback/TE Cross were pressed into more active receiving roles with Howard and Brate banged up.
TE Alan Cross
, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets) - Cross, a fullback/tight end hybrid who is typically employed as a lead blocker, was forced into a bigger receiving role with Brate and Howard both out of the game. Cross made the highlight catch of his career in the second quarter, shaking his linebacker with a double move at the line of scrimmage before hauling in a leaping back-shoulder catch down the left sideline. Cross missed his second target of the day, an easy out route that killed the Bucs' two minute drill at the end of the 1st half.
Green Bay Packers 24, Carolina Panthers 31
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- While some players got a bump with the return of Aaron Rodgers
, overall it was many of the same familiar faces. Jordy Nelson
continues to struggle while Randall Cobb
and Davante Adams
do well. Richard Rodgers
is an interesting player when Aaron Rodgers
is under center, but he will remain inconsistent and always dependent on that one big play for a touchdown. Without that he won’t garner many fantasy points. Aside from wondering if Jordy Nelson
will ever recover, the biggest question is when Mike McCarthy will give Aaron Jones
more reps and why he hasn’t done so already. There’s no easy answer and McCarthy doesn’t seem interested in explaining. Which means Jones is too risky a play heading into championship week.
- Cam Newton
played a very clean game, taking what the defense gave him and mixing aggressive shots with shorter, safer passes. The offensive line gave him an excellent platform to succeed, as they did with the running attack. Christian McCaffrey
earned the plaudits for his performance, as he consistently produced when called upon and converted key third down opportunities. Devin Funchess
was often passed over as Greg Olsen
came to the fore, looking fantastic and showing no ill effects from his foot injury. His connection with Newton is something to behold.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 45 - 290 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 6 - 43 - 0 - Any notion Aaron Rodgers
was riding in on a white horse to save the Packers season was pretty thoroughly dashed by this game. While he did find the end zone three times, he also found the other team’s defense three times. Rodgers looked rusty on more throws than looked good on. All three of his interceptions were flat out bad throws and/or bad decisions. His first came when he was under pressure, and rather than take a sack or throw the ball away he threw off his back foot and it was picked off. His other two picks were under and overthrown respectively, and he missed on a lot of other passes as well. Simply put, his timing isn’t all there yet. That’s not to say we didn’t see any of the old Rodgers, though. His touchdown to Randall Cobb
in the second quarter showed off his unreal escapability as he fled the pocket and found a wide-open Cobb for a pass. Cobb did a lot of the heavy lifting after that, but he doesn’t get the score if Rodgers takes a sack there.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 30 - 0 - Williams out-carried Aaron Jones
by seven carries but was out-rushed by 17 yards. Williams had a workmanlike game, taking what the offensive line and defense gave him while not creating much on his own. The rookie seemed to regress a little on Sunday, though this run defense was tough. Still, he wasn’t involved at all in the passing game and Jones just looked more dynamic on his carries.
RB Aaron Jones
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 47 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Given how well Jones has been running with just a few carries, it’s a wonder he is getting so few in the first place. He took his first touch, which came in the second quarter, for 23 yards and then took another one for 20 yards two plays later. Both runs showed good speed and vision and exploded out of the holes he got on those plays.
WR Randall Cobb
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 84 - 1 (14 targets) - Cobb saw one of his more productive games with Aaron Rodgers
under center, and had a nice long touchdown catch in the second quarter to boot. On that play, Cobb took a short route outside and was uncovered. Under pressure, Rodgers escaped the pocket and ran to his right, where he saw a wide-open Cobb. The receiver made the catch and turned upfield, eluding two tacklers as he slipped into the end zone. Cobb looked as good as we have seen him this year, gaining yards after the catch consistently for the first time in a while.
WR Davante Adams
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 57 - 1 (7 targets) - Adams made the first score of the game for the Packers on a leaping grab of a slightly long pass by Aaron Rodgers
. Adams was pretty well open on the pass, and did a good job of hauling in a somewhat off-target throw for the score. Adams’ two biggest plays were not ones where he had the ball in his hands, though. First, he was the target on a Rodgers interception which was badly thrown on a deep route in the second quarter. The second was when he was blasted on an illegal blindside hit by Carolina’s Thomas Davis during another Rodgers interception. Adams missed the second half with a concussion and may not be ready to play the Vikings. Given his history of concussions, there should be concern.
WR Geronimo Allison
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 33 - 0 (8 targets) - For most of the year, Allison has been very quiet, but he saw a massive uptick in targets with the return of Aaron Rodgers
. His eight targets were the most he has seen in the year, tying his Week 3 total, though that week he totaled 122 yards rather than just 33. On Sunday he was mostly hit on short routes, but did a good job of hauling them in for short gains.
WR Jordy Nelson
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (6 targets) - In what has been a disappointing season for Jordy Nelson
, no outing has been more disappointing than Sunday’s. The return of Aaron Rodgers
didn’t do anything for his favorite target, who wasn’t his favorite target against Carolina, even when Davante Adams
left the game with a concussion. There were a couple of times where he and Rodgers just weren’t synced up, and a few times Rodgers just flat out missed him on a throw. He would have had a shot at a touchdown in the third quarter on a deep pass, but Rodgers shorted it.
TE Richard Rodgers
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 1 (4 targets) - After most of a season where Richard Rodgers
was just a blocker, the tight end saw his most productive game so far with the return of Aaron Rodgers
. That includes an easy 24-yard touchdown grab on a tight end seam route late in the game.
TE Lance Kendricks
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Kendricks saw just two passes, one which fell incomplete in the third quarter and the second late in the fourth quarter. The rest of his 22 snaps he blocked or ran routes that Rodgers didn’t look for him on.
QB Cam Newton
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 31 - 242 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 14 - 58 - 0 - In one of his cleanest games in a while, Cam Newton
was good value for every one of his four touchdown tosses against the Packers. Newton started off with good rhythm, mixing run and pass well, including a key 10-yard scramble for a first down. Relying on the soft hands and route-running of Greg Olsen
and the shiftiness of Christian McCaffrey
, Newton looked to be in the groove. He capitalised with his first touchdown pass, a rocket shot to McCaffrey on a Texas route after matriculating the ball down the field. No Packers defender was close to the rookie, who waltzed in. Newton's cadence was giving the Packers trouble; in all, the visitors were called for four offsides penalties. Showing good control and poise, Newton took what the defense gave him. However, he seemed to throw caution to the wind in the second half, as the play calling got more aggressive. A 30-yard touchdown pass, his second, came on a busted coverage as Olsen blew past the Packers coverage. Newton's third touchdown pass came soon after, a bullet pass to the back of the end zone to Damiere Byrd
. Newton would finish with a flourish, adding a fourth - again to Byrd - on a skinny post route. It was a thoroughly professional display from the quarterback, who was afforded excellent protection and benefited from a rock solid ground game.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 63 - 0, Rec: 6 - 73 - 1 (7 targets) - It proved be a very productive day for Christian McCaffrey
, who has grown into his rookie season bit by bit. The Panthers fed him the ball constantly on the opening drive, lining him up all over the field, peppering him with passes and giving him carries. He showed a penchant for pressing and cutting in the ground game, as his offensive line did a fantastic job blowing open holes. He used his elite quickness to bamboozle defenders on a series of third down conversions, including one where he was lined up as the Z receiver and won at the catch point against a defensive back. McCaffrey finished the opening drive with a touchdown catch after running a quick Texas route in the red zone. Cam Newton
found him for an easy pitch and catch score. He got fewer touches later in the game, as Newton continued to spread the ball around - but he made his presence felt.
RB Jonathan Stewart
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 27 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Jonathan Stewart
took a backseat to Christian McCaffrey
this week after dominating the Vikings last time out. Stewart, notably, got a lot of touches in the red zone but failed to capitalise as the Packers shut the door. The Panthers went pass-happy in the second half as they tried to claw back the four-point deficit, leaving Stewart a bit-part player for the most part.
WR Damiere Byrd
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 2 (4 targets) - Two catches, two touchdowns for Damiere Byrd
, who has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers since second round pick Curtis Samuel
went on injured reserve. Byrd's first touchdown catch was somewhat dubious, as it appeared his sprawling effort to make a catch at the back line of the end zone would be called an incomplete pass. Upon review, it appeared Byrd had a butt cheek down in bounds and it was ruled a touchdown. After initially bobbling the bullet pass from Cam Newton
, Byrd will have been pleased that his perseverance paid off. His second touchdown came on a beautiful skinny post route in the red zone - and there was no doubt about this one. With the cornerback playing outside shade, Byrd attacked him from the snap with his quickness, before breaking inside and catching a bullet pass from his quarterback.
WR Devin Funchess
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - It was a quiet outing for Devin Funchess
, who battled through after not practicing during the week due to an injury. An early target on a post route was too high - one of Cam Newton
's rare misfires on this day - but Funchess made a beautiful grab over the middle on the first play of the second half. A subsequent end zone target looked for all the world to be a touchdown, but a vicious hit from a Packers defensive back jarred the ball loose at the last second. Funchess briefly left the game after the hit, favouring his shoulder as he crept towards the bench. By the time he returned, the Panthers were well in control and went into their shells.
TE Greg Olsen
, 73 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 116 - 1 (12 targets) - It was back to good old Greg Olsen
against the Packers, as the veteran tight end looked like he hadn't ever been injured. There was an emphasis to attack the Packers at the second level and back third of the defense with Olsen's crisp routes from the outset. Throughout the game, Cam Newton
continued to fire bullet passes to Olsen, who found room to roam against zone and man coverage. The graceful tight end made a pair of nonchalant one-handed catches that would have made Odell Beckham Jr
. proud, casually plucking the ball out of the air as if it was nothing. A busted coverage by Green Bay on a seam route handed Olsen an easy 30-yard touchdown catch; there was no defender within 10 yards of him at the catch point. Olsen did his best work on third down, keeping drives alive when Newton needed him most.
New York Jets 19, New Orleans Saints 31
What you need to know
New York Jets
- Many were expecting the New York Jets to get blown out, but that didn't happen. In fact, New York was within one score late in the game. Its defense, however, yielded numerous big plays to New Orleans' talented backfield duo that kept the game just out of reach. Given the circumstances, Bryce Petty
played well. He didn't take any sacks, limited turnovers, and threw a late touchdown pass to Elijah McGuire
. Robby Anderson
saw a team-high 12 targets as he and Petty picked up where they left off from last season. When he wasn't peppering Anderson with targets, Petty leaned on his rushing attack, which averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Two running backs, Bilal Powell
and Elijah McGuire
, scored New York's touchdowns.
New Orleans Saints
- Despite what the final score looks like, the Saints and Jets played a tightly contested ball game that the Saints needed to keep pace with the Carolina Panthers in a tough NFC South division. The score looks a little more lopsided after Mark Ingram
tacked on a long garbage time touchdown at the end of the game to seal the Saints victory. The defense was really put to the test this week after the offense turned the ball over 3 times and had 2 touchdowns overturned by replay. Michael Thomas
could have had a huge game, but had 2 touchdown catches overturned by replay. The defense really stepped up with 2 interceptions of Bryce Petty
and limited every Jet running back to under 50 yards rushing. The Saints close the season with 2 divisional matchups against the Falcons and Buccaneers. A win against the Falcons next week would knock Atlanta out of the division title contention.
QB Bryce Petty
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 39 - 179 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0 - All things considered, Bryce Petty
played well. He executed a conservative game plan by leaning on his rushing attack and making easy throws to his running backs and wide receivers. All of his reads were defined and the route concepts were fairly basic. New Orleans challenged him with third down pressure-and he handled it well by standing in and delivering the ball. Petty threw one interception, but it was a good throw that ricocheted off his receiver's body. Petty's two favorite targets were Robby Anderson
and Elijah McGuire
. Anderson, who saw a game-high 12 targets, locked horns with talented rookie corner, Marshon Lattimore. Petty gave Anderson opportunities to win-and the talented young receiver made plays. McGuire made two big plays, a 38-yard catch-and-run on a crossing route, and a 2-yard touchdown on a pylon route. While the big plays were encouraging, the game plan was very conservative. Petty played well enough to earn another start, but fans will want to see Christian Hackenburg at some point.
RB Bilal Powell
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 44 - 1 (1 targets) - Bilal Powell
ran with patience and intensity against New Orleans' front seven. Powell capped off a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with 2-yard touchdown run off left tackle. A toss sweep was called, Powell stiff-armed Vonn Bell in the backfield, and broke into the end zone. Prior to the touchdown plunge, Powell had runs of 6, 2, and 11 to put his team in the red zone.
RB Matt Forte
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (5 targets) - Alike McGuire, Forte also made his triumphant return to his home state. However, unlike McGuire, Forte failed to make an impact. He was quickly bottled up for short gains and didn't make an impact as a receiver.
RB Elijah McGuire
, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0, Rec: 3 - 48 - 1 (3 targets) - The Louisiana-Lafayette product made a triumphant return to his home state. McGuire was mixed in with Powell and Forte-and made two big plays. In the third quarter, McGuire ran a shallow crossing route, caught the pass, turned up field and ran into daylight for a 38-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, McGuire ran a quick pylon route, caught the pass and ran untouched for a 2-yard touchdown. McGuire has shined-and deserves more carries over the final two games.
WR Robby Anderson
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (12 targets) - Despite being matched up against talented rookie corner, Marshon Lattimore, Anderson was peppered with a team-high 12 targets. He ran his normal route tree, which features short-to-intermediate crossing routes and was the defined first read on the majority of his routes. Lattimore was physical with Anderson at the line of scrimmage, but the talented young receiver worked through him. He had a long grab of 15 yards on a sideline route.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (5 targets) - Kearse was the second option behind Anderson. Kearse worked the short areas of the field and did his damage on short crossing routes and screen passes. He had a long gain of 12 yards on a catch-and-run on a shallow crosser.
WR Chad Hansen
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - The rookie wide receiver was deployed in the slot on three wide sets. He had a long gain of 24 yards on a deep post route.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - Another week, another forgetful performance. The big tight end had a long gain of 9 yards on a comeback route.
QB Drew Brees
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 36 - 285 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Brees could have had a 300+ yard and 4 touchdown day if a few things had gone his way, but rather settled for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. There were 2 Michael Thomas
touchdowns overturned by replay. The first had the second-year wide receiver ruled down at the 1-yard line rather than scoring the touchdown and the second confirmed that he stepped out of the back of the end zone before getting his second foot down. Brees later rectified the 2 lost touchdowns with a 4-yard strike to Thomas and a 10-yard catch and run by Alvin Kamara
. Brees' lone interception came on a pass tipped by Brandon Coleman
. This just added to the terrible day by Coleman as he also lost 2 fumbles. Brees kept his cool throughout the game and made sure the Saints were in a position to win at the end. Brees really favored his top 3 targets in Thomas, Ingram, and Kamara with 24 of his 36 attempts going to those 3 players. There is no time to rest for the Saints as Carolina beat Green Bay and Brees will have to outduel Matt Ryan
next week to stay atop the NFC South.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 44 - 0, Rec: 6 - 45 - 1 (7 targets) - After suffering a concussion last week and having to exit the game, Kamara cleared protocol and was back to splitting time in the Saints backfield this week. It was interesting to hear that the coaching staff went back to look at old film of Reggie Bush
to find ways to best use Kamara in the Saints offense. The rookie running back had 1 more touch than Ingram but did not rip off the same big plays that he did. Kamara did add a 10-yard catch and run touchdown, but only managed a 12-yard rush as his long and 29 of his 45 receiving yards came on a single play. The touch distribution shows the coaching staff's trust in Kamara and their belief that he is totally healthy. The Saints have a two-headed rushing attack that will be difficult to stop for any team in the playoffs.
RB Mark Ingram
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 74 - 2, Rec: 5 - 77 - 0 (6 targets) - Ingram was having a subpar day in the rushing department until the final Saints drive of the game when he ripped off a 50-yard rush off the right tackle for a touchdown. He simply outran every defender who had stacked the box to stop the run up the middle. Ingram was barely touched on his way to his second touchdown of the day. His first touchdown was a power run right up the middle from the 1-yard line. Ingram also played a bigger role than usual in the passing game and managed more yards than Alvin Kamara
for the first time since the beginning of the season. With 151 total yards and 2 touchdowns, Ingram effectively retook control of the Saints backfield. It is interesting to note that Ingram and Kamara both had 12 rushing attempts, but Ingram had the big 50-yard rush to pull away. On top of that, he added a 54-yard reception. This also tells a story of how 2/3 of his yards came on two big plays. It will be interesting to see if the touch distribution is as close next week against Atlanta.
WR Michael Thomas
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 93 - 1 (11 targets) - Thomas managed 9 catches for just under 100 yards and a touchdown. Normally that would be an amazing week for any player, but Thomas could have done so much more damage. He had one touchdown overturned when the replay official ruled he was down at the 1-yard line rather than rolling into the end zone and then had a 20-yard touchdown catch taken away when his second foot came down just out of the back of the end zone. This was still a very productive game by any receiver's standards and he rectified the touchdown issue later in the game with a 4-yard reception. Thomas caught the ball 2 yards short of the end zone, made a move and walked across the goal line for a touchdown. Thomas was clearly unhappy after the second touchdown was overturned, but got to feel some redemption on his third touchdown attempt.
WR Brandon Coleman
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - Normally a player does something really good to make this recap list, but this week Coleman is added for causing 3 turnovers by himself. The Saints offense could have easily put the Jets away early and cruised to a victory, but Coleman decided he wanted to make the game closer. Coleman fumbled and lost the ball twice, and had a Drew Brees
pass tip off his hands for an interception. Despite the poor play, Coleman still ranked 4th in targets this week and figures to play a big role as long as Ted Ginn
Miami Dolphins 16, Buffalo Bills 24
What you need to know
- A week after their biggest win of the season against the Patriots, the Dolphins let a win and their playoff hopes slip with their 24-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jay Cutler
reverted back to the Jay Cutler
of old, completing 28 of 49 passes for no touchdowns and three interceptions. Running back Kenyan Drake
was spectacular once again, rushing 16 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while also catching six passes for 35 yards. Jarvis Landry
led the Dolphins in targets, receptions and yards, totaling 10 catches for 99 yards. DeVante Parker
had his most productive game of the season, catching six passes for 89 yards. Parker’s big game came at the expense of Kenny Stills
who was all but absent, catching only one pass for eight yards. Julius Thomas
played his usual role, which is to say a minimal one, catching only two passes for 15 yards.
- The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins and continue to hold onto the six seed in the AFC. Buffalo's defense played well the offense was able to get in positive game script after getting an early score. Buffalo's offense works well with positive game script where they can feed LeSean McCoy
and rely on Tyrod Taylor
's rushing ability while limiting mistakes. Tyrod Taylor
threw the ball well to Charles Clay
and had key completions to LeSean McCoy
including a red zone touchdown. LeSean McCoy
had limited running room, but managed to score a receiving and a rushing touchdown.
QB Jay Cutler
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 49 - 274 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0 - Jay Cutler
completed 28 of 49 passes for 274 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions against the Bills on Sunday. I had heard it mentioned several times that Cutler did not like playing in cold weather, which is interesting considering his former teams were the Broncos and the Bears, but nevertheless, Cutler played really poorly when the Dolphins needed him most. A week after carving up the Patriots, Cutler showed why prior to being offered a cool 10 million dollars for a year’s worth of work, he was working in the booth…and not as a coach, but as a broadcaster. The 274 yards were more of a combination of his total passing volume (49 attempts) than it was Cutler creating big plays. In fact, Cutler’s longest pass of those of 49 attempts went for 36 yards, and it was DeVante Parker
who made a great catch on the play because it was not an accurate pass on Cutler’s part. Some credit goes to the Bills defense, who were in Cutler’s face the entire game and did very well in containing the Dolphins receivers. The Dolphins did a great job of making this a game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, converting a 26 field goal to cut the Buffalo lead to eight. Then they recovered an onside kick and had the ball with 39 seconds left at the Buffalo 37 yard line. Then, Jay Cutler
struck again, throwing a game sealing interception that was not even close to a Miami receiver. It was one thing to watch a rookie like Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer try to make a play in overtime and throw a bad interception, it is something completely else to see a veteran like Cutler make that mistake with the Dolphins season literally on the line. Unfortunately for him, that will end up being his career legacy. He has the arm strength of a Hall of Famer quarterback, but it always seemed like he didn’t care enough to will his team to victory. That is easy to say sitting at home watching the games on television, but for 10 million, you’d think the Dolphins could have done a lot better for the money.
RB Kenyan Drake
, 72 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 78 - 1, Rec: 6 - 35 - 0 (11 targets) - Kenyan Drake
rushed 16 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while also catching six passes for 35 yards against the Bills. Drake was the lone bright spot for the Dolphins, continually churning out yardage and really keeping Miami in the game when the rest of the offense was stagnant. Drake’s longest play of the game came on a 31 yard play where he was supposed to run off-tackle right, but he saw that his hole had closed up so he bounced the run outside and just outran the Buffalo linebackers. It was the type of play that only a few running backs in the league can make because it took not only the foresight and vision to see that the original hole had closed up, but also to have the speed to beat the rest of the defenders to the edge and break off 31 yards. If it weren’t for Drake, the Dolphins offense would be in serious trouble, because his ability to generate big plays have set up nearly all of the Dolphins touchdowns since he’s become the starter. With Damien Williams
expected back in full health next week, it will be interesting to see whether Adam Gase gives Drake his just due, and allows him to be the unquestioned bell-cow back for the Dolphins final two games.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 99 - 0 (13 targets) - Jarvis Landry
caught 10 of 13 targets for 99 yards on a day when the Dolphins offense struggled to move the ball outside of Landry and Kenyan Drake
. One a night when Jay Cutler
was consistently inaccurate, Landry came up with several nice catches, including one in traffic where he ran a crossing route and Cutler delivered the ball in a tight window. Landry made the catch, but was nearly sandwiched by two defenders right at the point of making the catch. This happens at least once a week, and it is a true testament to Landry’s toughness, because Cutler has left him out to dry so many times this year and Landry continues to not only make the catch, but continue to stay in the game.
WR DeVante Parker
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 89 - 0 (12 targets) - DeVante Parker
caught six of 12 targets for 89 yards against the Bills. On the plus side, Parker did catch his second most passes in a game, and the 89 yards was a season high for him. On the downside, Parker was only able to reel in half of his targets, and he was once again, on the wrong end of a Jay Cutler
interception. Parker’s long gain of the game on a 36 yard catch where Cutler threw the ball up and let Parker make a play, which he did. Outside of that catch, Parker’s other five catches went for 53 yards, and most of them came on short slants, crossing and comeback routes. He was targeted down the field, but Cutler routinely overthrew him or could not put the ball in a place where Parker could make a play for his team.
WR Kenny Stills
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (6 targets) - Kenny Stills
caught only one pass for eight yards on six targets against the Bills on Sunday. Still’s lack of production came at the expense of DeVante Parker
being more involved in the game plan, as one of the two of these receivers will suffer from week to week with Jarvis Landry
seeing the lion’s share of targets from Jay Cutler
. Stills has outplayed Parker for most of the season, but with the Dolphins now out of the playoffs, it will make sense for Adam Gase to get Parker more involved so that he can see whether they have a true #1 wide receiver on their team for the future.
TE Julius Thomas
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - Julius Thomas
caught two of four targets for 15 yards against the Bills on Sunday. Thomas is usually given one or two isolation plays where he lines up on the outside and has a chance to make a play down the field, he has only been able to take advantage of those plays once this season, while also drawing one pass interference call. Cutler likes to look his way in the red zone, but the Dolphins have not been down there nearly enough to make him a viable fantasy starter, and in this game, Thomas dropped what should have been an easy touchdown catch. Even worse, it looks as though he will be an off-season cap casualty, so the Dolphins coaching staff could be looking at some of the other younger tight ends on the roster in the last two games.
QB Tyrod Taylor
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 29 - 224 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 42 - 1 - Tyrod Taylor
played well against Miami. He had two big throws to Charles Clay
where he showed touch and precision in tight coverage. Taylor was able to create more time in the pocket and extend plays for key conversions. Taylor struggled in the deep passing game, unable to hit Zay Jones
and Deonte Thompson
on multiple deep throws. He did throw an on target ball to Jones that was dropped. Taylor accounted for two touchdowns in the game. His passing touchdown was a wheel route to LeSean McCoy
out of the slot that was opened up by a Charles Clay
rub technique. Taylor also rushed for a score on a designed QB draw. The play was set up well by motioning to an empty set where there were four receivers to the right side that drew the defensive attention away left side of the field where Taylor ran the draw.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 50 - 1, Rec: 4 - 46 - 1 (5 targets) - LeSean McCoy
had a high-volume but low efficiency day against the Dolphins. He touched the ball 24 times with 20 rushes and 4 receptions, but only totaled 96 yards. McCoy scored two touchdowns which buoyed his fantasy day. His first was a rushing touchdown on a red zone carry up the middle. The second was a pass where McCoy was split into the slot. He ran a wheel route with the benefit of a rub from Charles Clay
to get him open for the score. McCoy was shaken up in the first half and he needed the trainers to help him off the field, but he returned a play later and saw no limitation. McCoy struggled to find running room as the Miami front overmatched the Buffalo line for the better part of the game.
RB Travaris Cadet
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Travaris Cadet
ran as the clear second back behind LeSean McCoy
. He saw brief opportunities spelling McCoy, but was limited to only five touches. Cadet is a dependable player in the offense but operates solely as a backup. When he does enter the game, he is used in similar ways as McCoy.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - Kelvin Benjamin
had limited involvement in the Buffalo passing game with only two catches. Benjamin had success in recent games when Nathan Peterman
was under center, but is not a good fit with Tyrod Taylor
's passing style. Benjamin is best as an intermediate middle of the field route runner or along the deep perimeter, two places where Taylor does not show comfort throwing the ball which hurts Benjamin's production. Benjamin missed snaps for a portion of the game as a result of his continued knee problems.
WR Deonte Thompson
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Deonte Thompson
was limited to only one catch on a crossing route against Miami. Thompson was targeted twice deep but both throws by Taylor were off target. Thompson operated as the preferred deep threat in the Buffalo offense despite being unable to convert on his targets.
WR Zay Jones
, 44 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Zay Jones
had minimal involvement in the Buffalo offense. He had two deep targets, one that was overthrown, and another that was dropped in contested coverage. Jones has struggled throughout the season to create separation and make difficult catches. He has fallen in the order of priority behind Deonte Thompson
in the offense.
TE Charles Clay
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 68 - 0 (9 targets) - Charles Clay
had a solid day against his former team. Clay had two chunk plays across the middle of the field. He was the most dependable pass catcher in the Buffalo offense and look healthy despite his earlier struggles with injuries. The rest of Clay's day was spent in the short passing game. Clay did have a drop, but is the most dependable passing option outside of LeSean McCoy
Denver Broncos 25, Indianapolis Colts 13
What you need to know
- Brandon McManus
missed a 40 yard attempt in the 1st quarter. Trevor Siemian
left at the end of the 1st quarter and will miss the rest of the season with a separated shoulder. Brock Osweiler
came in to lead a Broncos comeback. Emmanuel Sanders
also left late with an ankle injury and is day to day. Paxton Lynch
took part in some pregame warmups but was not active.
- The Colts offense was unable to get anything going against the Denver Broncos defense. Jacoby Brissett
completed one pass downfield but was otherwise unable to generate yardage in the passing game. Brissett either could not connect with open receivers, was not given enough time to find his receivers, or no one got open. The Colts made an effort to involve TY Hilton early but most of his targets were underneath. The Colts showed some commitment to the run game but quickly abandoned it upon losing the lead. Jack Doyle
was largely uninvolved but racked up catches on the Colts final possession. Marlon Mack
was not targeted and Chester Rogers
failed to produce in limited opportunities.
QB Brock Osweiler
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 17 - 194 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 17 - 1 - Osweiler was pressed into service after Siemian injured his shoulder at the end of the 1st quarter. Osweiler ran the play-action passing game to perfection behind Anderson's strong performance on the ground. The offense went three-and-out for his first series, but Osweiler led a scoring drive at the end of the 2nd quarter, capping it with an 18 yard touchdown run. The Colts ran man coverage with no one spying on Osweiler, and he barreled up the middle of the field to the end zone. Osweiler's first touchdown pass was a beautiful corner route to Cody Latimer
, who beat his man from the left slot in a spread formation. Osweiler took the shotgun snap and lofted the the ball over the defender. Osweiler found Jeff Heuerman
later in the 3rd quarter on a play-action post route that the tight end took to the house for a 54 yard score.
QB Trevor Siemian
, 18 offensive snaps, Pass: 5 - 9 - 67 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Siemian killed the Broncos opening drive with a brutal interception, lobbing a play action pass into double coverage. He was looking for Demaryius Thomas
but never had a chance of getting the ball through the safety and linebacker that had DT bracketed. Siemian and the offense marched down the field on the next drive, supplementing several CJ Anderson runs with a deep ball down the left sideline to Sanders then a crossing route that Thomas carried inside the Indy 5 yard line. They eventually settled for a field goal, and Siemian was knocked from the game at the end of the 1st quarter with a shoulder injury. He has since been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and will be heading to IR.
RB C.J. Anderson
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 30 - 158 - 0 (1 targets) - The Broncos opened the game up with fullback Janovich leading the way for Anderson, who carried the ball for a few short gains before ripping a 14 yard run into Colts territory. Anderson had success up the middle all night, consistently carrying the ball several yards past the line of scrimmage before contact. The beleaguered Colts defense struggled to bring Anderson down at first contact, and Osweiler was able to capitalize on Anderson's success with great play-action passing. The Broncos pounded away with 2TE formations and plenty of Janovich's lead blocking. Anderson was only targeted once, but still dominated backfield touches with 30 carries.
RB Devontae Booker
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 39 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - Booker entered the game on the Broncos second offensive drive, carrying a toss play around right end for a short gain. Booker caught a swing pass late in the first half and hurdled a cornerback near the sideline before taking the pass to the end zone. Unfortunately, the highlight-reel play was called back for a holding penalty on the offensive line. Booker hauled in another short out route on the sideline on the next drive. Booker's longest carry of the day was a 12 yard run right up the middle in the 3rd quarter. Booker drew a facemask penalty that extended a drive on 3rd and 21 in the 4th quarter. His 12 touches were well behind Anderson's 30, but ahead of Jamaal Charles
, who did not log any touches on his one drive.
RB Jamaal Charles
, 2 offensive snaps - Charles entered the game with Brock Osweiler
at the beginning of the 2nd quarter, running a couple of routes and pass blocking for a brief three-and-out. He was not seen again afterwards as Anderson dominated the backfield touches with Booker relieving him.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 68 - 0 (9 targets) - Sanders missed an out route that Siemian threw out of bounds on the opening drive, but converted 3rd down later in the drive with a short curl route from a bunch formation. Sanders motioned across the formation from left to right, catching a short out route on the next drive. Sanders jumped offsides on the next play, then redeemed himself with his longest reception of the contest, a back shoulder catch down the left sideline for 26 yards. Sanders secured a tough catch on an Osweiler pass that was thrown behind him to convert 4th and 2 near the end of the first half. He was clobbered after catching a short out route later that drive, but popped right back up to catch a crossing route on the next play. Sanders tapped his toes on the sidelines to secure one final out route in the 3rd quarter. Sanders left the game late with a bone bruise on his ankle, and is listed as day-to-day. He finished with a team-high 9 targets and 7 receptions.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 69 - 0 (8 targets) - Thomas ceded a bigger share of his target total to Sanders in week 15, drawing 8 targets to Sanders' 9. He hauled in a quick slant route from Siemian on the Broncos opening drive. He was the target on Siemian's interception soon after, but the fault was on the quarterback for the terrible throw. DT hauled in a deep crossing route on the next drive, carrying the ball down to the Indy 5 yard line. Osweiler hit him on a another quick slant early in the 2nd quarter, and Thomas secured a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch on the following drive. Thomas drew a defensive holding penalty on 4th and 1 to extend a 3rd quarter drive that ended in a touchdown.
WR Cody Latimer
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 60 - 1 (4 targets) - Latimer appears to have entrenched himself as the third receiver in the rotation behind Thomas and Sanders. He was targeted with Osweiler's first pass attempt, a deep ball down the right sideline early in the 2nd quarter. Latimer didn't secure a catch until the 3rd quarter, hauling in a crossing route on flea-flicker. Latimer appeared to be the checkdown option as Demaryius Thomas
was running a deeper go route that was covered. Latimer lined up in the left slot in a spread formation and beat his man on a corner route for his first touchdown of the day. Latimer lined up in the right slot and caught a shorter corner route at the end of the 3rd quarter for a 2-point conversion. He secured one final pass with a leaping grab over a defender on a deep crossing route in the 4th.
WR Jordan Taylor
, 16 offensive snaps -
Taylor returned punts but did not run any routes on offense.
WR Bennie Fowler
, 39 offensive snaps - Fowler saw limited offensive snaps, but drew an offensive pass interference call on his only target in the 3rd quarter.
TE Jeff Heuerman
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 54 - 1 (1 targets) - Heuerman was only targeted once, but made the most of it on a 3rd quarter touchdown reception. Indy's defense, trying to stop CJ Anderson from ripping off long runs up the middle, bit hard on a play action fake by Osweiler. Heuerman, lined up on the left side of a run formation, took off on a deep post route. Heuerman shook the linebacker following him with a double move, then stiff-armed a cornerback who attempted to tackle him after the catch, outrunning one last defender for a 54 yard touchdown. Heuerman shared snaps with Virgil Green
and Austin Traylor
and shouldn't be a fantasy option at this point.
TE Virgil Green
, 36 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Green started but was not very involved in the passing game. He was targeted once on a short out route at the end of the first half.
QB Jacoby Brissett
, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 30 - 158 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 18 - 1 - Jacoby Brissett
managed to not turn the ball over and took fewer unnecessary sacks than in previous games but could not get the passing game going. Almost all of Brissett’s throws traveled less than 10 yards downfield. The limited success the offense found came from long drives and not explosive plays. Starting in excellent field position following a turnover, the Colts offense put together a touchdown drive to open the game. Brissett completed to Frank Gore
and TY Hilton before going untouched on a 7 yard touchdown scramble. Brissett set up a field goal attempt with a 20 yard completion to Ross Travis
to give the Colts a 10-0 lead. To open the second half Brissett again got the Colts into field goal range with underneath passing and reliance on the run game. Brissett’s most noteworthy throw during the possession was a throw over the middle to Chester Rogers
that should have been intercepted by Darian Stewart. The Colts managed just 2 first downs on their final three possessions as they went pass heavy trailing by 2 scores.
RB Frank Gore
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 31 - 0, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (4 targets) - Frank Gore
was effective in his limited touches. Gore gained the edge on a screen pass and rumbled for a 22 yard gain. Frank Gore
made two impressive cuts on a 9 yard run up the middle. Frank Gore
left the game with injury but returned to open the second half. Gore picked up 10 yards on a check down from Brissett to convert a 3rd and 10.
RB Marlon Mack
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Marlon Mack
continues to play second fiddle to Frank Gore
and saw no involvement in the passing game against the Broncos.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 41 - 0 (7 targets) - TY Hilton picked up 10 yards running an out route against Chris Harris. Hilton got his hands on a bullet from Brissett running a deep out route but could not haul in the pass. Hilton made a 13 yard catch running another out route the following play. TY Hilton was tackled by Aqib Talib crossing the middle of the field drawing a holding penalty. Hilton was shaken up on the play but returned to make a catch a few plays later. Hilton made a 6 yard catch running a curl. Hilton made a catch running a curl for 8 yards.
WR Chester Rogers
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets) - Chester Rogers
was targeted twice over the middle. The first pass should have been intercepted by Darian Stewart and Rogers dropped the second.
TE Jack Doyle
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 47 - 0 (8 targets) - Doyle caught his first target underneath for 7 yards. Doyle made back to back catches for gains of 5 and 15 yards on the Colts opening possession of the second half. Doyle made catches of 4, 7, 4, and 5 yards on the Colts final drive.
Dallas Cowboys 20, Oakland Raiders 17
What you need to know
- Dallas stayed alive in the NFC playoff race as they escaped with a road win in Oakland. The Cowboys were fortunate with a late-game Derek Carr
fumble at the goal line to secure the three-point victory. Dak Prescott
had an up-and-down performance as Dez Bryant
provided minimal impact beyond his single reception of 40 yards. The run game was solid in the first half, but Oakland’s defense stepped up in the second half and Tyron Smith missed a chunk of this game as a foundational offensive lineman for Dallas. The left tackle spot turned into a mismatch as Oakland created pocket pressure and Dallas needed to help to that side of the formation with regularity. Ezekiel Elliott
returns next week to hopefully restore consistency to an inconsistent offense since he left six weeks ago to serve his suspension.
- The Raiders offense started slowly and was shutout in the first half for the second-straight week. Derek Carr
peppered Michael Crabtree
with 17 targets (20 if you count targets on penalized plays). While the duo hooked up for a pair of short touchdowns and drew a key pass interference penalty, they racked up a pathetically small amount of yardage given the number of attempts. Marshawn Lynch
was solid again and continues to see his share of the running back snaps and touches creep upwards. He was on the field for a season-high 76% of the snaps. Carr fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback while diving for what would have been a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.
QB Dak Prescott
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 212 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 32 - 1 - Prescott’s inconsistent play has become calling card of this season; especially in the six games Ezekiel Elliott
has been suspended. Coming off his best game of the year, Prescott had notable missed throws which kept the game close against Oakland. Tyron Smith missed a portion of the second half and the run game wilted over the final two quarters, siphoning any balance the offense had early in the game. Smith’s absence forced Dallas to help on the left side of the line as they struggled to protect Prescott. After a promising start to the opening drive, Prescott airmailed a slant to Dez Bryant
in the red zone for a drive-halting interception. Prescott’s other interception was a random play where his arm was hit and the ball fluttered in the air for the defense. On a deep out to Cole Beasley
, Prescott should have had another turnover as he was late and threw into double coverage. While Prescott completed two gorgeous deep throws in the game, one to Dez Bryant
and another to James Hanna
on a corner route, Terrance Williams
also dropped a perfect deep throw from Prescott for a missed opportunity. Prescott showed off his mobility this week, but more eluding pressure in the pocket than overt rushing attempts. Prescott did have a back-to-back sequence with a red option of 15+ yards into the red zone followed by a scramble for a touchdown to take the lead in the third quarter of note on the ground.
RB Alfred Morris
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 61 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (2 targets) - Morris had one of his best segments of a game since Ezekiel Elliott
has been suspended in the first half against Oakland. The Dallas offensive line was creating well-defined lanes for Morris and he consistently found them and gained yards after contact for five or more yards. The second half was a different story, however, as the holes disappeared and Morris struggled to shed defenders. Rod Smith
’s snaps increased in the second half and played more than Morris in the fourth quarter of the close game. Morris did have an opportunity for a touchdown as a red zone carry ended at the one-yard-line and he was stuffed on a third down attempt from point blank range. With Ezekiel Elliott
set to return next week against Seattle, Morris will fight for snaps with Rod Smith
and return to his ancillary role in the backfield rotation after seeing 16 or more carries in 4-of-6 games without Ezekiel Elliott
RB Rod Smith
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 13 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - Smith scored for the fourth straight week (five touchdowns total) with Ezekiel Elliott
serving the last game of his six-game suspension against Oakland. Smith was the No.2 back throughout the first half, but elevated in snaps in the second half as Dallas struggled to run the ball. In the fourth quarter, Smith saw more snaps than Alfred Morris
, including getting a goal line touchdown. Smith was shifty on a notable reception after the catch and has been the preferred hurry-up back for Dallas. Smith did add a holding penalty in pass protection this week. Ezekiel Elliott
’s return downgrades Rod Smith
and Alfred Morris
’ roles, but Smith has challenged Morris for snaps enough during these six games to question which is the more impactful option behind Elliott to close the season.
WR Terrance Williams
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - Williams was active early against Oakland, but his involvement in the offense waned as the game progressed. Williams logged an offensive pass interference penalty to wipe off a comeback route reception, plus dropped a perfectly throw deep ball by Dak Prescott
on a flea flicker. Williams has still yet to find the end zone this season, spanning 47 receptions, and this week had opportunities to approach 100 yards with the two plays wiped away by a drop and penalty.
WR Dez Bryant
, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 59 - 0 (4 targets) - Bryant’s four targets this week marked the lowest total since Week 3 and he was fourth on the team in targets against Oakland. Bryant was impactful on his two receptions; however, has he spun away from defenders for 19 yards late in the third quarter and added a contested down-the-sideline catch for 40 yards with the game in doubt later in the half. Bryant added an end zone defensive pass interference penalty and was stuffed on a reverse, a rare rushing attempt for the veteran receiver. In what has been a lost season overall for Bryant, he has an uphill climb to hit 1,000 yards with two games remaining, has not logged 100 yards in any singular game of the season, and has been invisible within Dallas’ offense for quarters at a time.
WR Cole Beasley
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (5 targets) - Beasley led Dallas with five targets, but corralled only one of the passes in an insignificant situation in front of the sticks on third-and-long. Beasley did show full extension on the play and adjust to the ball over the middle on the play of note. Beasley added an uncharacteristic drop on a short out route and his lone deeper target was one of Dak Prescott
’s poorly thrown passes in the game.
TE Jason Witten
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (5 targets) - Witten bounced back from back-to-back games with a single reception. Witten had two notable catches against Oakland, once coming wide open on a deep out and another on one of Dak Prescott
’s best throws of the game, a stick throw in coverage to convert third-and-long. On another third down catch, Witten stretched for the first down marker but it was reversed upon replay as he was short of the conversion. Witten’s deepest target of the game was tipped away down the sideline. Also, Witten had to help out with blocking at points in the second half as Tyron Smith missed time in-game and Dallas struggled to protect Dak Prescott
in obvious passing situations.
QB Derek Carr
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 38 - 171 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 47 - 0 - Carr and the offense again got off to a miserable start, doing practically nothing until putting together a solid two-minute drive before halftime. The Raiders passing game was inefficient and unable to hit big plays throughout the day. Carr very rarely looked deep and when he did it was to throw up 50-50 balls to Michael Crabtree
against tight coverage. With Amari Cooper
out, Carr locked onto Crabtree too much and forced the ball his way even with double-coverage should have led him to look elsewhere. The duo did show off their positive red zone chemistry with a pair of two-yard touchdowns. On the first, Carr hit Crabtree with a fade to the back corner of the end zone. The second, Carr rolled to his right and completed an easy throw after the defensive back fell down after being badly beaten to the outside. With the game on the line in the final minute, Carr threw up another 50-50 deep ball to Crabtree that drew a pass interference penalty and set the Raiders up deep in Dallas territory and positioned for a game-tying field goal. Carr used his legs to pick up key third downs multiple times throughout the game and almost won the game on a late scramble. He took off from the 8-yard line and dove to extend the ball toward the pylon for a game-winning touchdown. However, he lost control and the ball fell out of the end zone for a touchback that cost the Raiders the game and effectively knocked them out of playoff contention.
RB Marshawn Lynch
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 76 - 0, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Lynch played a season-high 50 snaps (76% of the offensive snaps, also a season-high) and was a big part of the game plan. He wasn’t able to really get rolling because the Raiders couldn’t sustain drives in the first half. Unlike some past games, Lynch wasn’t consistently picking up positive gains of 3-to-6 yards on every carry. He was dropped for a loss or no gain multiple times. However, he made up for the negative carries with some chunk gains that have come with more regularity of late. He accelerated off of left tackle for a gain of 19 yards and almost bulled his way into the end zone before being brought down at the 2-yard line to set up Michael Crabtree
’s first touchdown. Lynch had a tough run for 6 yards on 2nd-and-goal from the 8-yard line to setup Crabtree’s second 2-yard touchdown. The Raiders first option down around the goal line is often to go to Crabtree if he’s single-covered, which limits Lynch’s opportunities for goal line work.
RB DeAndre Washington
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Washington made the first man miss and then lowered his shoulder to pick up a first down on a 3rd-and-7 dump off. He wasn’t effective on his two carries. With Lynch seeing an increased workload, Washington isn’t seeing enough snaps to make any real impact.
RB Jalen Richard
, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Richard caught a couple short passes when split out as a receiver but isn’t getting enough snaps to be fantasy relevant.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 39 - 2 (17 targets) - With Amari Cooper
out, Carr peppered Crabtree with targets all game. When including plays that didn’t count due to penalties, Crabtree had a whopping 20 targets. Results were mixed. An early drive stalled when Crabtree didn’t get his head around in time on a 3rd-down short crossing route. He was wide open but Carr had to get rid of the ball quickly and Crabtree wasn’t ready for the pass. Crabtree fumbled his first reception but got lucky when a Dallas defender knocked it back to him after attempting to scoop and run. Another drive stalled when Crabtree brought a third down pass in along the sideline but ran the route one yard short of the sticks. While there were some struggles, Crabtree was excellent down around the goal line. He caught a pair of 2-yard touchdown passes when matched up in single coverage. The first was a simple fade route in which he won off the line and established position to the outside. The second was a smooth out-route from the slot that took advantage of a subtle push off to gain extra separation. Crabtree was able to draw a huge pass interference penalty in the final minute of the game on a 4th-down jump ball. A couple plays later, Carr tried to fit it in to Crabtree in the middle of the end zone despite double coverage but the ball was batted down. While there were a number of positive plays, it wasn’t an efficient day for Crabtree and the offense wasn’t productive with the passing game running almost entirely through him.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Patterson was mostly an afterthought on offense, with just a pair of short targets. He was dropped for a loss on a reverse. Patterson had a 100-yard touchdown on a kick return called back due to holding.
TE Jared Cook
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Cook had an 11-yard touchdown reception wiped off the board when he was called for offensive pass interference. He pushed off of Sean Lee before snagging the ball in the front of the end zone. The play pushed the Raiders back and helped lead to a missed field goal as time expired before halftime. Cook had a drop on a third-down out route.
New England Patriots 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- -Rex Burkhead
's injury clears the way for Dion Lewis
to become the primary running back, and we may even see Mike Gillislee
active as a result. Burkhead's loss will also be felt on special teams.
was inactive a week after being active, which cascades down on the offense.
-The offensive line hasn't pass protected well for the last two or three weeks, and with Marcus Cannon on I.R., this is something to watch as the season closes.
- The Steelers were dealt a heartbreaking loss 27-24 to the Patriots. With less than 30 seconds remaining, it appeared that the Steelers took the lead with a go-ahead touchdown reception by Jesse James
. The touchdown was controversially reversed because James did not control the reception as he was falling to the ground. Two plays later, the Patriots intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone. Antonio Brown
exited the game during the second quarter with what was later reported to be a partially torn calf muscle.
QB Tom Brady
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 35 - 298 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - It wasn't the prettiest of days, but Tom Brady
found a way to get it done, thanks in large part to Rob Gronkowski
. Coming out hot, Brady and the Pats offense eventually played their way to an up and down day. There was plenty of pressure, a couple terrible decisions by Brady, and more. Brady's pick was that of the terrible decision variety, as he just chucked a pass up for grabs under pressure. The defense came away with a fairly easy pick with no Patriot in the immediate vicinity, continuing the theme of the questionable Brady interception here and there. There were also a few plays where Brady missed a few wide open players period as he locked onto other receivers, a rarity for the star quarterback. On the flip side, Brady's touchdown to Brandin Cooks
was a thing of beauty, as he stepped up in the pocket and fired a pass with a small window to operate. Pittsburgh did have a couple extended drives, including a 9 minute drive and a 7+ minute drive, as they dominated time of possession by 10 minutes, which led to Brady's lack of volume. Regardless, going into Pittsburgh and winning is no easy task, and the Pats managed to do it by the hair of their teeth.
RB Dion Lewis
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 67 - 1, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - With Rex Burkhead
injured for much of the game, Lewis became the de facto primary running back, and played relatively well. Lewis was able to pick up several intermediate chunk gains, including his 8 yard touchdown run. The offensive line did seem to run block better than they pass blocked, which certainly helped things out. Expect Lewis to see plenty of work we the season closes out.
RB Rex Burkhead
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 12 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Though he vulture a 1 yard score, the big Burkhead news was his knee injury early in the game. It is being reported as a knee sprain, which means he could be back for the playoffs. For the next couple weeks though, it looks like he will be unavailable.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 60 - 1 (7 targets) - Though he only caught 4 passes, Cooks had two big plays on the day, and nearly had a third that would have make his stat line enormous. On the first drive of the game, Cooks beat zone coverage off pay action for a huge 43 yard gain. Later in the game, he scored a touchdown on a great step up and throw by Tom Brady
. Cooks also had a long gain called back because he just stepped out of bounds on the route, which meant he wasn't allowed to touch the ball first. His volume was lower because of Gronk's insane efforts, but with Chris Hogan
once again sidelined, he's still the focal point of the wide receiver attack, and will continue to be so.
WR Danny Amendola
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (4 targets) - With Chris Hogan
sidelined, Amendola had a chance to have a decent day, but it wasn't to be. There were few opportunities as Gronk dominated the day against the Steelers.
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 168 - 0 (13 targets) - Star players have a tendency to rise up when it counts, and that's exactly what Rob Gronkowski
did against the Steelers. Coming into halftime with roughly 30 yards receiving, Gronk went supernova in the second half, including 3 catches for 69 yards on the final Pats game-winning drive. Gronk beat defenders with regularity, often finding himself two steps ahead of his defender/defenders on nearly every play. His highlight was an Edelman-like shoetop catch with just over a minute remaining in the game, putting the Patriots in eventual scoring position. Almost all his catches were chunk first down gains, and he put his stamp on his march towards becoming the best tight end of all time. This was the element the Patriots sorely lacked against the Dolphins, and with Gronk working the middle of the field at will, the Steelers had no answers.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 30 - 281 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0 - Ben Roethlisberger
had an efficient day but will be remembered for one late mistake. Late first quarter, Roethlisberger threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers
. On the play, Roethlisberger noticed that Rogers had gained separation from his defender as the middle of the field was wide open. Late second quarter on a third and goal, Roethlisberger threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant
. On the play, Roethlisberger placed the pass in a spot only where Bryant could complete the reception. Late fourth quarter and down by three, Roethlisberger completed a short pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster
, who ran for a 69-yard reception. On the next play, Roethlisberger found Jesse James
for what looked to be the game-winning touchdown. The play was controversially reversed because James did not control the reception while he was falling to the ground. With the clock running with nine seconds remaining, Roethlisberger faked a spike on third and goal before throwing an interception. On the play, Roethlisberger tried to force a pass over the middle to Eli Rogers
before it was tipped and picked.
RB LeVeon Bell
, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 117 - 1, Rec: 5 - 48 - 0 (6 targets) - Leveon Bell was the centerpiece of the Steelers offensive attack with 29 touches for 165 total yards. Bell ran strong as he gashed the Patriots defense to the tune of 4.9 yards per rush. The running back was also a factor in the short passing game continuing to move the chains. After Antonio Brown
left due to injury, the offensive game plan ran through Bell. Late third quarter on second and goal, Bell patiently ran a draw around the left side for a three-yard touchdown run. On the play, Bell waited for the Patriots safety to over-pursue than quickly hit the hole and dashed toward the goal line.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 114 - 0 (6 targets) - JuJu Smith-Schuster
finished with a team-leading six receptions for 114 yards. The Steelers rookie wide receiver was once again impressive with his ability to gain separation from his defenders. With the Steelers down by three points and only 52 seconds on the clock, Smith-Schuster delivered a key 69-yard reception. On the play, Smith-Schuster ran a crossing-route and quickly found the left sideline dashing past Patriots defenders.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 59 - 1 (6 targets) - After Antonio Brown
left early due to injury, Martavis Bryant
picked up some of the slack with four receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown. Early second quarter, Bryant got behind his defender and made a spectacular 39-yard diving reception. Late second quarter on a third and goal, Bryant scored a four-yard touchdown reception. On the play, Bryant showed great concentration by completing the reception with one hand while he was being held by a Patriots defender.
WR Antonio Brown
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Early second quarter while Brown was running a crossing route in the end zone, his left leg slammed against a Patriots defender as he was attempting to complete the reception. Brown was helped to the locker room and taken to a local hospital. After the game, it was reported by Ian Rapoport that Brown has a partially torn calf muscle. “The hope is that he’s OK for the postseason. His regular season is over. No surgery needed.”
WR Eli Rogers
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 18 - 1 (2 targets) - Late first quarter, Eli Rogers
scored an 18-yard touchdown reception. On the play, Rogers quickly got the inside track on his defender as the middle of the field was left with wide open.
TE Jesse James
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (5 targets) - Jesse James
looked to be the hero of the game with a go-ahead touchdown with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was controversially reversed because James did not control the reception as he was falling to the ground.
Los Angeles Chargers 13, Kansas City Chiefs 30
What you need to know
Los Angeles Chargers
- Philip Rivers
turned in his worst performance of the season at the worst possible time. He entered the game with the longest streak of consecutive passes without an interception, but then threw three in a short span in this one. He did manage to find the end zone to somewhat salvage his performance, but the entire passing game looked shockingly out of sync.
entered the game on fire, and left the game on a cart. With four straight 100-yard receiving games, he has appeared virtually uncoverable. He was significantly slowed down by Kansas City defenders, and was taken into the locker room late in the game with what was deemed to be a back injury. There was no immediate update available on his condition.
ran hard and was the lone bright spot for an offense that looked completely out of sorts. What's more, Austin Ekeler
made another costly turnover at a very critical juncture on a play where he broke his hand. It would be surprising if Gordon didn't get just about the entire running back workload over the final two games of the season.
Tight End Hunter Henry
suffered a lacerated kidney while blocking on an Austin Ekeler
reception. He will almost certainly need to miss some time, although no official update was given as to his status for any upcoming games.
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Kansas City beat the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13 in a game that very well could decide who wins the AFC West. Alex Smith
played an efficient game, completing 23 of 30 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing three times for 13 yards. Kareem Hunt
had a monster game for the Chiefs, rushing 24 times for a 155 yards and a touchdown, while also adding seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Tyreek Hill
led the Chiefs receivers with five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Travis Kelce
added six catches for 46 yards, with the rest of the Chiefs receivers combining for five catches and 46 yards.
QB Philip Rivers
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 36 - 227 - 1 TD / 3 INT - After spending most of the past nine games in perfect sync with his receivers, Rivers led an offense that was very out of sorts. There were numerous instances of miscommunication even with his most veteran players, and he was actually fortunate that he only turned it over three times because it could have been a lot worse. He was sacked on the opening third down of the game, as a defender came right up the middle on him virtually unblocked. It was a sign o things to come, as Rivers was under heavy duress for a lot of the game (a rare departure from most games this season, as Rivers came into the game as the least-sacked starting quarterback in the league). Losing two different offensive lineman for periods of time certainly didn't help any. Early on, Rivers made it a point to take shots deep down the field to Tyrell Williams
. On the first instance, the ball was perfectly thrown and Williams actually got his hands on it, but the defense was perfect. Following a miscommunication with Antonio Gates
and another sack, he again looked to Williams over the middle. The pass was batted down and nearly intercepted, and following the play Rivers went over to talk to Williams as there appeared to be more miscommunication about where Rivers thought his receiver would be. Late in the half, Rivers showed a lot of trust in Williams throwing him a deep ball into the end zone in double coverage. It should have been picked off, but the defenders bounced into each other. They actually deflected it up in the air and nearly into Williams' arms for the touchdown, but he couldn't corral it. In the second half, the Charger offense actually looked in sync for one really nice drive. Rivers led them down the field, culminating in a touchdown pass to Gates in the corner of the end zone. It was a perfect read, and Rivers saw the veteran break to the corner and he put it where only his guy could get to it. But on their next possession, Rivers lost LT Russell Okung to an injury. On his first play, he heaved up another deep ball to Williams. There was a hand in his face and maybe rushed the pass a bit, but this one was easily picked off. After the pick, he was seen asking Williams where he was going, as the two were again not on the same page. But it's tough to see how Williams being in a different spot would have changed anything. The ball was thrown into double coverage, and was yet another in a long line of poor decisions by Rivers. It was his first interception in 164 pass attempts (which had been the longest streak in the league). After a few Kansas City scores put the Chargers almost in desperation mode, Rivers had to force things a bit. On a fourth down pass play, he found himself under pressure and needing to flip it up for grabs. He was hit as he threw, and the wobbly floater never made it to Gates, instead getting intercepted. And late in the game, he targeted Travis Benjamin
deep down the seam but the receiver didn't turn his head in time to find the ball and Rivers was picked off for the third time in the game.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 78 - 1, Rec: 6 - 91 - 0 (8 targets) - Gordon was the lone bright spot on an otherwise tough day for this offense. While the passing game was turning the ball over repeatedly and miscommunicating on seemingly every other play, Gordon was running hard and with purpose. He had some very nice moves at the point of attack, displaying his customary patience and vision, often waiting for his spots and then quickly darting through any openings that were there. He regularly moved the pile forward, and the team fed him work despite trailing for most of the action. He was equally effective in the passing game, leading the team in both receptions and receiving yardage (including a huge 49-yard catch and run on the team's first offensive play of the second half - he outran a linebacker on the crossing route, turned upfield, and could have gotten a few more but he stumbled when trying to shake the defensive back). Late in the first half, he caught a few passes out of the backfield to help set up a first and goal from the 5-yard line. He was stuffed on first down, picked up a few yards on second down, and finally pushed his way through the line on third down for the score. There were two defenders about to hit him untouched, but he made a quick cutback just as he took the handoff so that he completely avoided them. Late in the game, the Chargers trailed by 17 with just over a minute left. Rather than take to the air, they opted to hand off to Gordon for a couple of "garbage time" carries that ended up netting him about 15 or so additional yards (for those who own him or played against him where that ended up being the difference in their fantasy matchup). Of key importance, after the game it was revealed that change of pace back Austin Ekeler
had suffered a broken hand on a reception/fumble, which likely means Gordon's workload will only go up over however many games remain in the Chargers' season.
RB Austin Ekeler
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 13 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Ekeler was in and out of the game with some regularity early on, mostly working in the change of pace role to Melvin Gordon
on third down situations. He had a nice 13-yard run up the left side in the first half, but only had one other touch until late in the game. He caught a short pass in the flat for first down yardage, but had the ball stripped away by a defender and recovered by the Chiefs. Needless to say, it was an extremely costly play and likely would have cost Ekeler playing time the remainder of the season anyway; but it was revealed after the game that he broke his hand on the play. It's unknown if he'll play the rest of the season with a cast on his hand, or if the team will just opt to shut him down.
WR Keenan Allen
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (8 targets) - Allen was in the midst of the best stretch of his career with four straight 100-yard performances coming in. But he couldn't really get going in this game, with his long gain going for just 15 yards. He nearly made a nice sideline grab on the opening drive, but couldn't quite keep his toes inbounds. In the second half, he hauled in a wide open floater to convert a third down with nobody around him. But other than that, his name wasn't really called much. And late in the contest, he was seen being carted to the locker room with what was termed a back injury. There were no immediate updates on his condition after the game.
WR Tyrell Williams
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (7 targets) - Williams was a busy receiver, if not an effective one. He was targeted on three different deep balls that all fell incomplete and all featured extremely tight coverage (or double coverage in some cases). The first was a deep ball down the right sideline that Williams actually had his hands on, but the ball was knocked away. It was a perfect pass, but didn't have a great chance of being completed. The second was thrown in the end zone and should have been picked off, but the defenders bumped into each other and actually almost tipped the deflection to Williams for a score. But he juggled it too and it fell incomplete. Later in the game, he was again targeted on a deep ball in double coverage, but this time it was actually intercepted. After the play, Rivers incredulously wondered aloud where Williams was going, but it didn't seem to matter. The ball was horribly thrown regardless of where the receiver was going. Williams did have a couple of short grabs over the middle on his trademark crossing routes, but never came close to scoring and certainly outweighed by the negatives on the deep balls.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (4 targets) - Benjamin did not play a good game. He had one rushing attempt on an end-around early, and one reception late. But in between those, he went in motion and inadvertently kicked one of his own linemen, injuring him...caught a pass with a chance to pick up a first down with a quick dive upfield but instead tried running to the sideline and avoiding contact (resulting in coming up short of the marker, which set up a desperation fourth down that turned into an interception)...and failed to turn around in time on a deep ball down the seam that the defender easily jumped in front of and intercepted. If it was a failure to get open or win a jam off the line, it would be more tolerable than the mental mistakes that Benjamin seems to be making with some regularity. And it could help explain why a player with his skill set has failed to continue producing numbers as a Charger.
TE Hunter Henry
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets) - Henry was having a solid, if not spectacular, game catching the football. He had a few short grabs over the middle and several on third down to keep drives moving. But on a short reception by Austin Ekeler
, Henry ended up getting injured and had to leave the game. Afterwards, it was revealed he had suffered a lacerated kidney on the play. His status for any upcoming games is unknown at this point, but it's not typically an injury we see players attempting to play through.
TE Antonio Gates
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 1 (3 targets) - Gates has been pushed way to the back of the pecking order for targets over the season's second half, but that didn't stop him from a perfectly classic Rivers to Gates connection early in the third quarter. As long as he's been in the league, he still is a mismatch for linebackers in one on one coverage. Gates broke upfield and to the left corner of the end zone, leaving the defender in his wake so Rivers could drop a perfect pass in his arms for the score. The two had failed to be in sync on an earlier floater over the middle, but more than made up for it once they hit the red zone. After the game, it was revealed that Hunter Henry
had suffered a lacerated kidney in the game. His status is still unknown, but it would stand to reason that Gates could potentially see some more targets over the final two weeks of the season if Henry is to miss any time.
QB Alex Smith
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 30 - 231 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0 - Alex Smith
completed 23 of 30 passes for 231 yards and two touchdown, and also ran three times for 13 yards. Smith’s total stats do not look prolific, but he played very well considering the fact that the Chiefs ran the ball 32 times compared to only 30 passes. The one constant in the Chiefs offense this year has been when Smith is able to push the ball downfield, their running game is often very effective. This was no different against the Chargers, as Smith was able to find Tyreek Hill
for a 64 yard touchdown pass. Hill ran a straight go-route right past his defender and Smith threw an accurate ball that hit Hill in stride for about as easy as you will see a 60+ yard touchdown in the NFL. This one play had a huge effect on the game, as the Chargers were forced to play more men in coverage, allowing Kareem Hunt
to gain consistent yards on first and second down, and set up easy third down conversions for the Chiefs.
RB Kareem Hunt
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 155 - 1, Rec: 7 - 51 - 1 (9 targets) - Kareem Hunt
rushed 24 times for 155 yards and a touchdown, while also catching seven passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Hunt’s 206 total yards were the most he’s gained since his week three game against, you guessed it, the Chargers (183 yards from scrimmage). Hunt’s longest play of the game went for 23 yards, so unlike the first four weeks of this season, he didn’t’ do most of his damage through long gains. Instead, the Kansas City offensive line did a great job of beat the Chargers defensive line at the line of scrimmage, and Hunt did the rest. He made several nice one-cut and go runs, where he recognized a hole and hit it hard, getting to the second level of the Chargers defense and forcing several defenders to bring him down. The Chiefs coaches also did a great job of confusing the Chargers by sending players in motion, as well as using play-action to keep the defense off balance. On one such play, Alex Smith
took the snap in shotgun formation and the entire Chiefs offensive line set up their blocks while shading to the right side of the formation. With Hunt floating through the line it looked as though it would be a screen play to Hunt the entire way. Instead, Hunt broke his route off and ran directly to the left sideline allowing Smith to hit him in stride, which set up a 21 yard first down. When the Chiefs can spread opposing defenses out and get their playmakers in space, they are as dangerous an offensive team as there is in the league.
WR Tyreek Hill
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 88 - 1 (6 targets) - Tyreek Hill
led all Kansas City receivers in yards, catching five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers on Saturday. Most of Hill’s yardage came on a 64 yard touchdown where he ran right past Casey Hayward and Alex Smith
hit him in perfect stride for an easy, long touchdown. While his other four catches only went for 24 yards, it is impossible to quantify how much that one play mattered because it came midway through the second quarter. It seemed as though the Chargers secondary was concentrated on not allowing another long play, so they were able to contain Hill while allowing Kareem Hunt
to destroy them in the run game for the rest of the game. With Travis Kelce
lining up all over the field, and with Hunt’s versatility, it is very hard for defenses to contain all three of the Chiefs star offensive players. Hill has grown leaps and bounds as a receiver in his first two seasons, and his big play ability is the single most important aspect to the Chiefs offense.
TE Travis Kelce
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 46 - 0 (7 targets) - Travis Kelce
caught six of his seven targets for 46 yards against the Chargers on Saturday. Kelce could have easily caught 100% of his passes on the night, but he made a rare drop in the red zone that could have given him a much bigger game from a fantasy perspective. On this night, it was the Kareem Hunt
show, with an assist from Tyreek Hill
, and on these nights Kelce’s stat line is sure to suffer because it is difficult for the Chiefs offense to sustain three fantasy studs in each game. While Kelce didn’t have a lot of yards or find the end zone, it was obvious how often Smith looks Kelce’s way when the Chiefs need a first down. He’s as difficult a cover as there is in the league, because he runs routes with the precision of a wide receiver, while enjoying a size/speed advantage of traditional cornerbacks and linebackers. Kelce is line for a big game next week against the Dolphins, and the Chiefs are fighting for a playoff spot so the offense will not be taking any weeks off.
Baltimore Ravens 27, Cleveland Browns 10
What you need to know
- The Ravens did what they needed to do to win against the Browns. Joe Flacco
played well and was able to make accurate throws downfield for the third consecutive week. Flacco had eyes for Mike Wallace
who made plays all over the field against the Browns’ secondary. Ben Watson
also contributed multiple plays downfield including a 33 yard catch and run touchdown. Alex Collins
struggled to find running room against the Browns stout run defense. Collins left the game with injury and returned but Buck Allen saw most of the carries following the injury. Danny Woodhead
continues to play a limited role in the passing game. Jeremy Maclin
made a nice 22 yard catch before leaving the game with a knee injury.
- In what has become a recurring theme, DeShone Kizer
followed an encouraging performance in Week 14 with one of his worst outings against the Ravens in Week 15. Kizer committed two back-breaking turnovers, including another interception in the red zone and a lost fumble in his own end zone which Baltimore recovered for a defensive score. In all it was another dismal performance for a Cleveland team that has just two chances left to avoid a 0-16 season.
QB Joe Flacco
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 42 - 288 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 3 - 1 - Joe Flacco
moved the Ravens into the red zone on their opening possession. Flacco connected with Maclin down the seam for 22 yards before completing to Wallace and Boyle underneath. An end zone target for Mike Wallace
was batted at the line of scrimmage forcing a field goal attempt. The Ravens offense went three and out on consecutive drives thanks to failure to execute in the passing game including a 3rd down drop by Chris Moore
. The Ravens offense was not able to capitalize on excellent starting field position. The Ravens were stopped on 4 consecutive plays inside the Browns’ 5 yard line and turned the ball over on downs. The Ravens responded with a touchdown drive. Flacco was nearly perfect on the drive with a very nice 30 yard completion to Mike Wallace
and a back shoulder throw to Ben Watson
up the seam. Flacco capped the drive with a 2 yard keeper from shotgun formation. Following another turnover the Ravens offense took advantage of excellent field position. Flacco hit a wide open Ben Watson
for a 33 yard catch and run touchdown giving the Ravens a two score lead. The Ravens offense was more conservative in the second half and found less success especially with a big lead after a defensive score. Flacco connected with Wallace for a 21 yard completion over the middle to set up a field goal attempt. The Ravens two possessions in the 4th quarter were comprised of almost entirely run plays outside of a 17 yard completion to Michael Campanaro on 3rd and 16.
RB Alex Collins
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 19 - 0, Rec: 5 - 33 - 0 (8 targets) - Alex Collins
was bottled up for the most part against the Browns. Collins struggled to find his way into the open field and was frequently met at the line of scrimmage on his carries. Collins caught a screen pass for 14 yards after the Ravens found little success running the ball. Alex Collins
was stuffed on consecutive goal line carries from the 1 yard line. Collins was brought down at the 2 yard line on the Ravens next trip to the red zone. Despite not registering a touchdown, Collins was close to scoring on multiple occasions. Collins made an impressive play to pick up 10 yards on a check down but was shaken up on the play after a player appeared to land on his ankle. Collins returned to the game briefly but gave way to Buck Allen who iced the game in the 4th quarter for the Ravens.
RB Javorius Allen
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 70 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - Buck Allen rushed for 65 of his 70 yards in the 4th quarter against the Browns. Allen broke runs of 12, 14, and 16 yards in the quarter with Alex Collins
dealing with a minor injury. Allen looked fresh and decisive. Allen broke more tackles and ran with more patience than in previous games. The backfield will still be led by Collins but Allen is more than capable as a backup. It is worth noting that Allen would see a greater bump in fantasy value than Danny Woodhead
if Collins misses time with an injury.
RB Danny Woodhead
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 6 - 31 - 0 (7 targets) - Danny Woodhead
made his first catch over the middle for 6 yards. Woodhead made catches on consecutive plays for 2 and 7 yard gains. Woodhead made a 7 yard catch running a quick out route. Danny Woodhead
made a 9 yard catch against man coverage to convert a 3rd down and short. Woodhead looked the most explosive he has looked since returning from injury.
WR Mike Wallace
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 89 - 0 (10 targets) - Mike Wallace
got the full attention of Joe Flacco
after Jeremy Maclin
went down with injury. Wallace made plays all over the field. Wallace made a 9 yard catch running a comeback route against Jason McCourty. Wallace was targeted in the end zone but the pass was batted at the line of scrimmage preventing what likely would have been a touchdown. Wallace made a nice contested sideline catch with McCourty in coverage for a 30 yard gain. Wallace picked up 9 more yards over the middle running a shallow cross. Wallace made another catch running a comeback route for a 12 yard gain. Wallace picked up 8 yards running a comeback route. Wallace made a 21 yard catch running a dig route.
WR Jeremy Maclin
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (1 targets) - Jeremy Maclin
made a 22 yard catch up the seam in front of safety Jabrill Peppers but absorbed a hit to his knee in the process and left the game. Maclin briefly returned but was forced to exit the game. Maclin finished the game with one catch.
WR Chris Moore
, 43 offensive snaps (3 targets) - Chris Moore
dropped a potential 20 yard completion down the seam with defenders closing in to make a hit.
TE Ben Watson
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 74 - 1 (4 targets) - Ben Watson
had one of his strongest games of the season against the Browns. Watson ran a curl over the middle for a 9 yard gain on his first target. Watson made a nice back shoulder catch for a 14 yard gain up the seam. Ben Watson
fought through traffic over the middle running a crossing route and got wide open for a 33 yard catch and run touchdown. Watson came wide open again running the exact same route as his touchdown for an 18 yard gain.
QB DeShone Kizer
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 37 - 146 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 7 - 35 - 0 - Kizer really took a step back after turning in one of his better performances in Week 14. The rookie quarterback struggled with his accuracy, missing several receivers who were open. He also added to his list of back-breaking turnovers, throwing yet another red zone interception and losing a fumble in his own end zone which Baltimore grabbed for a defensive score. Kizer's first interception came when he threw too high for Corey Coleman
. It appeared Terrell Suggs grabbed a handful of his jersey on the pass attempt which threw off his mechanics momentarily. That may have led to the inaccurate pass. His red zone interception came in the fourth quarter. He forced an end zone pass to a triple-covered Isaiah Crowell
. Nothing was open on the play and, in retrospect, he should have thrown the ball away. He came close to throwing a third interception in the third quarter on a tipped pass that went straight up in the air. Kizer himself swatted the pass down and away from the defense to prevent the pick. Kizer's accuracy issues included: throwing too high to Corey Coleman
on a crossing pattern, although that incompletion was nullified by a holding penalty. He then threw too low to David Njoku
who was streaking down the right sideline. A higher throw would have allowed his athletic tight end to go up and get the ball. This was a missed opportunity for Kizer to ‘throw Njoku open’. He also threw a pass behind Josh Gordon
that Gordon was still able to reach back and catch. Kizer's strip sack fumble showed his lack of pocket awareness as he had no idea the defender was coming on his blind side. It didn't help that left tackle Spencer Drango was beaten badly on the play but Kizer needed to step up in the pocket on that pass.
RB Duke Johnson
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 23 - 1, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (7 targets) - Johnson scored the Browns' lone touchdown on the afternoon. It came on a nice 12-yard run where he bounced the play outside to the left and sprinted to the end zone untouched. He did lose a fumble at the end of a nine-yard reception in the second quarter. He took a big, clean hit from linebacker C.J. Mosley that popped the ball loose. Credit goes to Mosley for causing the turnover. Johnson turned in an impressive catch in the fourth quarter on a low-thrown ball by DeShone Kizer
. Johnson was able to grab the pass just before it hit the turf and turned it into a 15-yard reception. Baltimore challenged the ruling but the catch was upheld after replay.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 72 - 0, Rec: 4 - -7 - 0 (5 targets) - Crowell suffered from a lack of usage in Week 15. The veteran tailback ripped off the Browns' longest play from scrimmage on a 59-yard run in the second quarter. Strangely, he played very little after that run and saw just two second-half touches. There has been nothing of yet to suggest that Crowell got injured on the play. He was used extensively in the passing game, mostly in the first quarter, but unfortunately he finished with -7 yards on his four catches. The Ravens were ready to stop him almost immediately after he made his catches. Crowell saw an end zone target in the fourth quarter on DeShone Kizer
's ill-advised interception. Crowell had three Ravens defenders around him but Kizer threw the ball in his direction anyway.
WR Josh Gordon
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (11 targets) - Gordon turned in a slow game, partially due to the inaccuracy of his quarterback. He had two targets in the first quarter which were tipped at the line of scrimmage. Later in the first quarter he saw a deep target which was overthrown by DeShone Kizer
. There was some incidental contact on the play but nothing to suggest a pass interference penalty should have been called. Most of Gordon's receptions were of the short to intermediate variety as he and Kizer continue to struggle to connect on anything deep. Gordon did make a nice catch in the fourth quarter on a pass which was thrown behind him.
WR Corey Coleman
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Coleman was held to one or fewer catches for the second time in three games since Josh Gordon
returned to the field. Coleman had a few chances to make plays but it is clear he's going to struggle to play anything more than a secondary role in an offense that has had trouble sustaining drives. One of Coleman's best contributions in this game didn't show up in the box score. In the first quarter he drew a pass interference flag which resulted in an 11-yard gain for the Browns. In the second quarter he was wide open on a short slant route but the pass was thrown way too high for him to make the grab. It wouldn't have mattered, though, as the play was nullified by an offensive holding penalty. His only catch came in the second quarter. He made a diving grab to set his team up for a field goal. In the fourth quarter it looked like he could have made another catch but he appeared to be tripped up by the defender before the ball got to him.
TE David Njoku
, 32 offensive snaps (3 targets) - Njoku had a quiet game, getting shut out and committing a false start penalty in the second quarter. He did have one chance to make a big play as he saw a deep target in the second quarter. The pass was thrown too low which didn't give Njoku a chance to make a play on the ball. A higher pass would have allowed the athletic tight end to leap up and make the grab.
Cincinnati Bengals 7, Minnesota Vikings 34
What you need to know
- Nothing went right for the Bengals who were outclassed in every phase by the Vikings. There were few holes for Giovani Bernard
to run through and he didn’t make anybody miss. He scored a 1-yard garbage-time touchdown for the Bengals only score of the game. Andy Dalton
threw a pair of awful interceptions and the Bengals offensive line couldn’t pass protect against the Vikings pass rush.
- The Vikings were able to wrap up the NFC North this week with a big win against the Bengals. The defense was dominant, Case Keenum
was very efficient and accurate, and the running game showed some signs of life. One of the biggest stories was Teddy Bridgewater
taking his first NFL snaps since his gruesome knee injury at the end of preseason. Unfortunately, he got a little too excited and threw an interception when he threw the ball a little too hard and the ball skipped out of Jerick McKinnon
's hands. The Vikings still have something to play for as a first round Bye is not assured just yet with New Orleans and Carolina directly on their heels. With two games to go, the Vikings take on the division rival Bears and Packers to close out the season.
QB Andy Dalton
, 41 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 22 - 113 - 0 TD / 2 INT - Dalton will take more blame than he probably deserves for the debacle against the Vikings but he did throw two inexcusable interceptions. He threw late over the middle trying to fit it into tight coverage to Alex Erickson
but a dropping linebacker easily read Dalton’s eyes and picked off the pass, taking it the other way for a touchdown. On what looked to be a run-pass-option play, Dalton pulled the ball back from Giovani Bernard
and threw a quick slant trying to hit Brandon LaFell
but the route was well covered and undercut by Terence Newman for the easy interception. There was no running game to slow the pass rush, people in his face constantly and a couple costly drops.
QB A.J. McCarron
, 14 offensive snaps, Pass: 3 - 6 - 19 - 0 TD / 0 INT - McCarron came into the game in garbage time after an interception set the Bengals up just outside the red zone. He completed a 4th-and-7 slant over the middle to Alex Erickson
to keep the drive alive and eventually set up a touchdown. The next drive, McCarron badly overthrew Josh Malone
on 4th-and-5 to turn it over on downs.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 30 - 1, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (5 targets) - Bernard struggled to fall forward and get the tough yards inside the tackles. After falling behind 14-0, the Bengals ran three straight times with Bernard for nine total yards. They went back to Bernard on 4th-and-1 and were stuffed for a loss. There wasn’t much room to run but Bernard didn’t make many guys miss and mostly went down on first contact. Bernard scored a garbage-time touchdown on a 1-yard plunge over right tackle.
WR Brandon LaFell
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 53 - 0 (6 targets) - LaFell had a bad drop early on a crossing route. He had the only long gain of the day on a 45-yard catch and run down the seam.
WR A.J. Green
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (4 targets) - Green was shadowed by Xavier Rhodes and had a very quiet day. He caught a deep pass down the sideline but didn’t keep his feet in-bounds. In garbage time, Green was targeted in the end zone from 5-yards out and drew a penalty Rhodes.
TE Tyler Kroft
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets) - Kroft had a bad concentration drop on what should have been a 15-yard gain.
QB Case Keenum
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 23 - 236 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 20 - 0 - Keenum was about as efficient as a quarterback could be against the Bengals today. He only missed 3 of his passes all day and added 2 touchdown passes for good measure. It was Keenum's solid play that gave the Vikings the chance to put Teddy Bridgewater
in at the end of the game. The first touchdown pass came on a 20-yard dart to Stefon Diggs
directly up the seam. The offense had struggled in the red zone to that point, but Keenum was able to lead Diggs just far enough that he was open in the end zone. The second touchdown came on a rub route by Kyle Rudolph
where the big tight end ended up wide open in the end zone. The entire Vikings team was dominant and Keenum did not even have to put up the numbers he did. Keenum will have to outduel Aaron Rodgers
and the Packers next Saturday night to keep pace with the Eagles for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 2 - 0 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0 - This is more of a feel-good story than anything else. Bridgewater did not complete a pass but saw live action on the field for the first time since his gruesome knee injury at the end of preseason last year. He only had 2 pass attempts, one of which was intercepted, but the standing ovation he received for his return was enough for a mention this week.
RB Latavius Murray
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 76 - 1, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (1 targets) - The run game has been hot and cold all season since Dalvin Cook
went down, but Murray seems to have taken the reins and is leading the way. He still loses touches in the passing game to Jerick McKinnon
, but he is the clear lead back in regard to rushing attempts. Murray set a season-high with 20 rushing attempts this week and chipped in a touchdown for good measure. The touchdown was a 1-yard plunge after the Vikings quickly moved down the field with 3 plays of 20+ yards. Murray's longest rush was a 14-yard scamper off the right end to help set up another scoring drive and he also chipped in a 28-yard reception on the first drive of the game to help set up his own touchdown run. Murray eclipsed 100 total yards for only the third time this season but has been a solid contributor to this point. The Vikings rushing attack is going to continue to go through Murray for the final 2 games of the regular season and through the playoffs.
RB Jerick McKinnon
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 24 - 0, Rec: 7 - 114 - 0 (8 targets) - McKinnon seems to be fading towards the end of the season in the rushing department. He received 9 carries to Murray's 20 but played a major part in the passing attack against the Bengals. McKinnon was the only Viking receiver to surpass 100 yards and also lead the team in targets and receptions. The biggest play of the day came on his 41-yard catch and run down the sideline. After outrunning the linebacker in coverage, McKinnon did not have anyone in front of him and was able to scamper down the sideline until a safety was able to come over and make the stop. McKinnon seems to have taken to his role very well in recent weeks and has made the best of the passing opportunities given him.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 5 - 30 - 1 (6 targets) - Just like Adam Thielen
, Diggs was quieted by the Bengal's defense outside of a single play. 20 of his 30 yards came on that single play, but more importantly, that was also a Viking touchdown. Diggs ran straight up the seam and Keenum fit the ball in the narrow window between corner and closing in safety. Diggs took a big hit on the play but instantly bounced back up to celebrate the touchdown catch. He had 4 more receptions in the game but only managed 10 yards. Diggs was not on the field when Teddy Bridgewater
came in to relieve Case Keenum
but at that point, there were not many Viking starters left in the game. Diggs is going to need to continue to play well to close out the season if the Vikings want to secure a first-round bye.
WR Adam Thielen
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - This was a rather quiet game for Thielen as the Bengals schemed to take him out of the Viking offense. Corners were placed on him and they played press coverage at the line to disrupt any timing he may have had with Keenum. Of his 30 yards, 21 of them came on a single catch and he was effectively shut out for the rest of the game. The 21-yard catch and run by Thielen got the Vikings to the Bengal 5-yard line and set up an eventual Latavius Murray
touchdown run. With Thielen being shut down, the Viking offense showed tremendous balance and the ability to score and win without one of their top guys having a good game.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 1 (2 targets) - Despite an ankle injury and being ruled as doubtful all week, Rudolph ended up suiting up for the Vikings and having an impact. The big tight end only managed 2 catches, but one of those was for a touchdown. 16 of his 17 yards came on a single play, and the touchdown came on a 1-yard reception. Rudolph ran an out route where his linebacker in coverage was rubbed off. He was found all alone in the end zone for an easy Viking touchdown. His play was limited this week due to the injury and he was subbed out in many of the running packages. The Vikings actually ran the ball more than they threw it this week and that limited what Rudolph had to do.
Los Angeles Rams 42, Seattle Seahawks 7
What you need to know
Los Angeles Rams
- The Rams set out to make a statement this week against their division rival and managed to do just that. Both the Rams defense and offense had their way against Seattle and there was little doubt left as to who the best team in the division was. The Rams need a win or tie or a Seahawks loss in the next two weeks to wrap up the division. They are also within striking distance of a first-round bye if the Vikings happen to stumble in their last two games of the season. Jared Goff
finally got the monkey off his back and threw his first touchdown against a banged-up Seattle defense. The Rams close the season with games against Tennessee and San Francisco and are a true worst to first story.
- It was that bad, it absolutely was. Nothing softens the blow, and there are no “bright” spots this time. It wasn’t ALL Russell Wilson
’s fault, of course. Much of the credit goes to the O-line for allowing the Rams to completely dominate them to the tune of 7 sacks. It begins and ends with Wilson, though. He went to his usual bag of tricks, but this time none of them work. The more desperate the team got – and going into halftime down 34-0, they were capital-D Desperate – the more the Rams forced Wilson into mistakes. The result is a complete absence of good news for the Seahawks, real or fantasy.
QB Jared Goff
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 21 - 120 - 2 TD / 1 INT - With the game that Melvin Gordon
had, Goff simply needed to be efficient to cement the blowout. His two touchdown passes were not needed, and his lone interception came on a 4th and 1 play in a goal to go situation where all of his receivers were covered. It was a little strange that the Rams went for it on 4th down after they already had a 2-score lead early in the game, but Goff's interception actually pushed the Seahawks further back than had he thrown an incompletion. His touchdown passes came to Robert Woods
and Todd Gurley
. The first touchdown came on a 1-yard strike to Woods after Gurley had already ran the ball in from the 1 twice before. The second touchdown pass came to Gurley on a 14-yard catch and run to put the Rams up 40-0. This was a thorough thrashing that allowed the Rams to give Sean Mannion
a few reps at the end of the game and give Goff a rest. There is still plenty for the Rams to play for in the final 2 weeks of the season and Goff seems to be up to the task after this week.
QB Sean Mannion
, 15 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 2 - 4 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0 - The Rams offense was playing so well that Mannion was able to spell Goff late in the 4th quarter. There is no real risk of Goff losing any time to Mannion as the Rams still have a lot to play for in the season's final weeks. Mannion managed 7 total yards in what will most likely be his last appearance of the season.
RB Todd Gurley
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 152 - 3, Rec: 3 - 28 - 1 (3 targets) - Gurley put up his best game of the season with 3 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown for good measure. There was even potential for a 4th rushing touchdown, but Gurley was tackled on the 1-yard line and the Rams elected to throw it from the 1 instead of giving Gurley another shot. The first 2 touchdowns were of the 1-yard variety and was just straight power football up the middle. His third touchdown was a 57-yard scamper down the sideline where he made several defenders miss on his way to the end zone. Even if you took out this 57-yard run, Gurley still would have had 95 yards rushing. He was also the second-leading receiver on the team this week with 28 yards and a 14-yard touchdown catch. Gurley almost singlehandedly ran over the Seattle defense this week and he looks primed to continue that run with matchups against the Titans and 49ers to close out the season.
WR Tavon Austin
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 44 - 0 - Normally you would expect Austin to make this list because of what he did in the receiving game, but he actually did not register a catch. Interestingly enough, he carried the ball 10 times and was the third leading rusher. Austin was used primarily on end-around plays but did line up in the wildcat a few times despite not really being a risk to throw the ball. This is a trend that will most likely not continue and Austin will revert to his 2-3 carries per game that he has averaged the rest of the season.
WR Robert Woods
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 45 - 1 (7 targets) - It was not the most productive day for any receiver in the Rams offense this week, but Woods continues to be Jared Goff
's favorite target. Despite trading for Sammy Watkins
, it has been Woods that has taken over in the receiving core. Woods was rewarded this week with a 1-yard touchdown catch on a simple quick out route. Todd Gurley
had just been stopped on the 1-yard line after already scoring twice from the same spot. Goff faked to Gurley up the middle and found Woods wide open to continue the blowout. Woods did not see a lot of work outside of that and his longest play of the day was 14 yards. Receivers do not need to do very much when you have a running back that goes for over 150 yards and 4 total touchdowns.
WR Sammy Watkins
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (5 targets) - For all of the success that the Ram's offense had this week, Watkins was almost a non-factor. He was second on the team with 5 targets but only managed to pull in 2 of them. Watkins was brought in to stretch the field and for his quick hitting ability any time he touches the ball. However, Goff and Watkins just do not seem to be on the same page most games. There was no reason to try and force the ball to Watkins as the Rams held a comfortable lead almost the entire game. Todd Gurley
is not going to score 4 touchdowns every week, so Watkins and Goff will need to work on their chemistry if this team wants to make a deep run into the playoffs.
WR Cooper Kupp
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - After breaking on to the scene earlier in the season, Kupp has been rather quiet in recent weeks. He managed a 15-yard and 6-yard reception this week and has seemingly disappeared behind Robert Woods
. His 21 yards was third best on the team this week in a game that they really did not need to throw the ball very much. Kupp will need to regain his success from earlier this season if the Rams want to make a deep playoff run.
QB Russell Wilson
, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 30 - 142 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 39 - 0 - Wilson was pressured by the Rams in a way that we haven’t quite seen yet this season. They got to him hard and fast, and there was little he could do about it because they broke through so quickly, making it impossible for Wilson to get into any sort of rhythm. When he scrambled, the Rams were for the most part able to keep up with him. Wilson’s rushing yards came mostly in garbage time. The game got away from him by halftime, but for the first quarter at least, Wilson still had a chance to make a contest of it. The overall effect of the pocket pressure was a rash of mistakes by Wilson: several overthrown passes, multiple fumbles that seemed almost careless (they weren’t, if you know how Wilson doesn’t quit until he’s out of options). Every time he gave the Seahawks a step forward, he’d blow it by taking three steps back. It didn’t help that multiple catches were reversed and called incompletions, as well as an early receiver fumble; but that’s just it – everything went wrong, and not for one moment did it look like it was going to get better.
RB J.D. McKissic
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 20 - 0, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (4 targets) - McKissic’s speed and receiving skills looked like a really nice complement to Mike Davis
’s up the gut running. When the Seahawks fell behind, McKissic started to play more. He looked fantastic on a sideline catch late in the second quarter, and made a short catch for a first down as well.
RB Mike Davis
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 19 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - If there was a bright spot – I say, “IF” – it was Mike Davis
. The game plan went out the window pretty quickly, but early in the game when the Seahawks were still running the ball, Davis ran strong up the middle, and seemed to be building momentum. He also contributed as a receiver, making a big play on a screen pass, similar to one he capitalized on last week. In the second half, down 34-0, the Seahawks all but abandoned the run game, and J.D. McKissic
started taking more snaps in the backfield.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - In a game in which no Seahawks receiver had any fantasy value, Lockett was a true afterthought, with two catches for a mere eight yards. He just never really factored in, as Wilson going through his progressions, rarely got as far as Lockett before the pass rush got to him.
WR Paul Richardson
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (7 targets) - Richardson was the closest thing to reliable that the Seahawks had. He had several near misses that simply killed drives, including a couple that were thrown off target, and one sideline catch that was overturned and ruled incomplete. Richardson continues to look like the real deal, however, but simply did not get any breaks today.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - Baldwin had a couple of close-but-no-cigar chances, one in which he was pretty open over the middle, but Wilson misfired with the pass. This is not a chemistry issue, but one of Wilson not having enough time to find his receivers.
TE Jimmy Graham
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (3 targets) - Graham made a nice looking catch early in the game, but the ball bounced out when he hit the ground, and after review, they called it incomplete. He had a couple of near misses, and in the end, lacked opportunities and was simply unable to get on track.