San Francisco 49ers 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- Besides Matt Breida
's handful of explosive runs and Dante Pettis
' intermittent displays of route-running prowess, this was an all-around performance to forget. The hole began with Tampa Bay's smart defensive game plan, which focused on rushing the passer and playing man-to-man coverage behind it, paying special attention to George Kittle
. The 49ers dug he hole deeper due to their offensive line not blocking said pass rush, and their receivers not being able to consistently beat said coverage. The hole became a grave when, rather than getting back into the game, they self-imploded in the second half.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Jameis Winston
had his most efficient day of the year, avoiding turnovers and throwing touchdowns to Brate and Humphries. The Bucs missed OJ Howard, who was placed on injured reserve with foot and ankle injuries following last week's game. Desean Jackson did not miss time in week 12, but is scheduled to see a specialist this week after aggravating a hand injury that occurred in week 11. Tackle Demar Dotson left in the 2nd quarter with some sort of leg injury and did not return. Ryan Smith made a leaping interception of Nick Mullens
in the 4th quarter, then Isaiah Johnson picked him off on a deflected pass in the last minute of the game. New kicker Cairo Saintos was 3 for 3 on extra points and 2 for 2 on field goals.
QB Nick Mullens
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 221 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 - As bad as Mullens' stat line looks in the box score, it's hard to pin all -- or even most -- of the blame on him. Both of San Francisco's top two wide receivers were out. Continuing a season-long trend, their pass catchers had a hard time getting open against man coverage. Perhaps most adversely, the 49ers offensive line played one of their worst games in pass protection this season, which resulted in Mullens being pressured (i.e., sacks plus hits plus hurries) on over half of his dropbacks (19 of 36). All of that said, Mullens threw more than a handful of errant passes, primarily due to getting rid of the ball too late with respect to the timing of the route. It's also worth noting for fantasy purposes that he had such poor production in fourth-quarter garbage time, throwing for 90 yards and 2 interceptions, the first of which was an awful play on his part. Not only did he committing the cardinal sin of throwing late, across his body, over the middle. But it was also a throw into double coverage with San Francisco about to score three or seven much-needed points.
RB Matt Breida
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 106 - 0, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (4 targets) - Not good for fantasy football was Breida ceding almost of garbage time to backup du jour, Jeff Wilson
. And there was a lot of garbage time in this one! Good for fantasy football was pretty much everything else. Despite (still) nursing an ankle injury, Breida used his seemingly indestructible legs to once again show a level of agility and explosiveness he shouldn't be able to muster at the moment. On his first long run, which came on San Francisco's first play, Breida made an impromptu cutback at the line of scrimmage to turn no gain into 33 yards. On his second long run (21 yards), he followed the lead blocks of Kyle Juszczyk
and a pulling Mike McGlinchey on a toss sweep, then accelerated through the hole and avoided two tackles at the second level of the defense. Breida's fantasy day could have been even more productive if not for a 1-yard touchdown that was not awarded and was not reviewed despite it looking for all the world like the ball broke the plain of the goal line.
RB Jeff Wilson
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 33 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Wilson got such an inordinate amount of playing time because a) Alfred Morris
was inactive, and b) the 49ers put Matt Breida
in bubble wrap once they were down 27-9 midway through the fourth quarter. That said, Wilson did see 16 snaps prior to said bubble-wrapping, with the "highlight" being a 9-yard touchdown run that ended up not being a touchdown at all, as the ball was a half-yard short of the goal line when his knee hit the ground.
WR Dante Pettis
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 1 (7 targets) - Predictably given he replaced Marquise Goodwin
, Pettis was San Francisco's primary downfield wide receiver, as evidenced by his team-leading 15.0 average depth of target. The shortest of his four receptions went for 13 yards and a touchdown. On the play, he used an outside fake at the line of scrimmage to leave cornerback Carlton Davis in the dust on a quick slant route. from there, he was wide open for a walk-in score because Tampa Bay was playing man-to-man across the field and their single-high free safety was too far from the catch point to make a play. Elsewhere, his two catches of 20-plus yards came on crisply executed deep routes in the middle of the field against off-man coverage.
WR Richie James
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - James outsnapped an active Trent Taylor
31 to 9 on offense and 11 to 1 on special teams, so it appears San Francisco has finally decided to pull the trigger on inserting James as their primary slot receiver and return man for the rest of the season. The problem is that the 49ers didn't start featuring three wide receivers until they were down multiple scores in the second half. To wit, James didn't see his first target until the fourth quarter, and that was a bubble screen on 3rd-and-26 with the nearest cornerback literally lined up 15 yards off the line of scrimmage.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets) - Bourne was targeted on the 49ers' third offensive play ... and then wasn't heard from again until midway through the third quarter ... and then wasn't heard from again until midway through the fourth quarter despite Tampa Bay's already-soft pass defense playing even softer. Why? It turns out to have been a combination of a) Bourne predominately running decoy routes to clear out space for other receivers, and b) Nick Mullens
getting rid of the ball quickly to someone else before Bourne even finished his route.
TE George Kittle
, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 6 - 48 - 0 (12 targets) - Kittle's inefficient game despite heavy usage (94% snap share and 12 targets) was due to a combination of factors. First, Nick Mullens
made several errant passes when Kittle was wide open, a couple of times because he was hit as he threw the ball. Second, Mullens was late on a couple of throws, both times because Tampa Bay's pass rush got there with the quickness. Third, and most importantly, via the combination of safety Jordan White
head and linebacker Adarius Taylor, Tampa Bay's game plan in pass defense seemed to be designed to limit Kittle's yards after the catch. Indeed, after averaging 10.8 YAC on 50 receptions through Week 11, he only averaged 2.5 YAC against the Buccaneers.
QB Jameis Winston
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 38 - 312 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0 - Winston turned in one of his most solid performances of the year. Though he wasn't always spectacular, Winston was careful with the football, taking what the defense gave him and not trying to do too much every play. He did not commit any turnovers and only took one sack for an 8 yard loss. Winston's biggest play of the day was an early 1st quarter bomb to Mike Evans
down the right sideline that picked up 42 yards. Later in the first, Winston scrambled right on his first touchdown pass to buy time for Cameron Brate
, who worked his way open in the back of the end zone. Winston found Adam Humphries
for his second touchdown in the 4th quarter. Humphries lined up in the right slot and worked his way open in the middle of the field. Winston scrambled right to buy time and did a great job finding the open Humphries, who had room to run between defenders for a 28 yard touchdown.
Winston picked up a 1st down with a 15 yard scramble in the 2nd quarter. He totaled 24 yards rushing on the day.
RB Peyton Barber
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 47 - 1, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets) - Barber had a solid game as the Bucs operated with a positive game script for the first time in a while. He carried the ball up the middle for 11 yards in the 1st quarter and picked up 14 yards on his longest carry of the game later in quarter. Barber punched in a touchdown from the 2 yard line in the 3rd quarter, carrying the ball right up the middle of the defense. Winston hit Barber on a check down route in the 1st quarter for a 9 yard gain. Barber caught one more short check down from Winston in the San Francisco red zone in the 3rd quarter, but couldn't find pay dirt on the play.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 31 - 0 (5 targets) - Rodgers had a productive day backing up Peyton Barber
throughout the contest. He picked up 31 yards rushing on 5 touches and 31 yards receiving on 5 targets(4 catches). Rodgers burst up the middle of the defense for a 20 yard scamper early in the 4th quarter. Rodgers made a nice catch on a check down pass from a scrambling Winston to convert 3rd and 5 in the 1st quarter. He secured another short check down pass on 3rd and long early in the 2nd quarter. Winston continued to target him with another short out route on the next drive of the 2nd quarter. Rodgers hauled in one final short check down at the end of the 1st half.
WR Adam Humphries
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 54 - 1 (6 targets) - Humphries caught a touchdown from Winston for the second week in a row. He got his day started with a quick comeback route from the left slot on the first drive of the game. Winston hit Humphries on a WR screen in the 1st quarter that picked up just a few yards on 3rd and long. Humphries was quiet until late in the 3rd quarter when he split out wide left and hauled in a WR bubble screen for decent gain. Humphries got wide open for a touchdown at the beginning of the 4th quarter. He lined up in the right slot with two other receivers and worked his way open in the middle of the field as Winston scrambled right to buy time. The San Francisco defense lost track of Humphries, who caught the pass with plenty of room to weave between a few defenders in the secondary for a 28 yard touchdown. Humphries hauled in an out route in the 4th quarter that converted 3rd and 5.
WR Mike Evans
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 116 - 0 (8 targets) - Evans turned in his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the year, hauling in six catches total in week 12. Evans lined up wide right and beat defender Richard Sherman down the sideline for a beautiful 42 yard catch early in the 1st quarter, setting up a touchdown to Cameron Brate
shortly after. Evans and Winston converted 3rd and 8 with a deep comeback route later in the 1st. Evans caught a quick curl route to move the chains during the 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half. Winston scrambled to buy time and found Evans on a deep crossing route for a big gain in the 3rd quarter. Evans tied for a team-high 8 targets with Desean Jackson, who struggled to catch the ball in week 12. Desean Jackson is seeing a hand specialist this week and OJ Howard is already out for the season, so Winston should keep peppering Evans with targets.
WR DeSean Jackson
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (8 targets) - Jackson injured his hand in week 11, and apparently exacerbated the injury in week 12's contest. He finished the game, but was mostly ineffective and is seeing a specialist in New York for the injury this week. Jackson was dropped for a minimal gain on his first target of the day, a WR bubble screen at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. He caught another short out route and quickly ran out of bounds to stop the clock at the end of the 1st half. Jackson drew a pass interference penalty on a deep ball that he and Winston couldn't connect on in the 3rd quarter. Jackson had big catch on an out route that converted 3rd down late in the 3rd quarter. Jackson carried a sweep around left end for a 6 yard gain in the 2nd quarter. The Bucs have not issued any updates on Jackson's injury so far this week.
WR Chris Godwin
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (4 targets) - Godwin had an efficient day, securing all 4 of his targets, but couldn't break any big plays or find the end zone. He hauled in a short out route from Winston at the end of the 1st quarter. The two connected again on a short curl route during the 2 minute offense at the end of the first half. Godwin checked in again late in the 3rd quarter with a nice gain on a skinny post route. He hauled in a swing route from the left slot for 1st down yardage at the end of the quarter.
TE Cameron Brate
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 1 (4 targets) - Brate caught Winston's first touchdown pass of the day in the 1st quarter. He lined up with his hand in the dirt and worked his way open in the back of the end zone while Winston scrambled to buy time before finding the tight end in the back corner. Winston found Brate up the seam for an 11 yard gain at the end of the 2nd quarter, then again two plays later for a short gain on a curl route. Winston looked for Brate in the end zone at the end of the drive, but the tight end was well covered by multiple defenders.Brate did not have any targets after halftime.
TE Antony Auclair
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Auclair worked as the second tight end with OJ Howard done for the season. Auclair wasn't involved in the passing game much, drawing just one target in the 3rd quarter, an 8 yard completion on a curl route.
New York Giants 22, Philadelphia Eagles 25
What you need to know
New York Giants
- Eli Manning
left points on the table and could have had a better fantasy game, although a few calls also went against him. Saquon Barkley
dominated the first half and was barely heard from in the second half. Odell Beckham
wasn't used enough as a downfield receiver and he was held on one red zone target while a second was intercepted. Evan Engram
hurt his hamstring in warmups and missed a chance for a huge game against a weak Eagles defense.
- The Eagles secured a critical divisional win against the Giants. While Carson Wentz
and the passing game made enough plays to balance the offense, Josh Adams
was the story with his much-needed power run game addition. Since Jay Ajayi
’s injury the Eagles lacked the big feature back presence and Adams has been the closest representation in recent weeks. Zach Ertz
and Dallas Goedert
combined for 12 targets, 43% of the team total as Nelson Agholor
eroded to invisible status with a single target.
QB Eli Manning
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 37 - 297 - 1 TD / 1 INT - Manning’s stats were acceptable in this game, but there was a lot more there against a weak pass defense. He had time to throw on most dropbacks, but looked frozen in the headlights when he didn’t. The Giants focused on short passing and Manning only took a few shots downfield to Odell Beckham
. He did make a few third and long plays and made good throws on extended plays when he wasn’t pressured. Manning missed a two point throw to Elijhaa Penny
, a potential touchdown to Saquon Barkley
in tight coverage, and threw an interception at the goal line into double coverage intended for Beckham to limit his fantasy upside. He did use his full array of receivers and overcame some offensive penalties, but stalled out too often in the second half as the Giants were nursing a lead. On the final scoring drive, it’s possible Odell Beckham
was held in the end zone on what could have been a go-ahead score to further hold down Manning’s fantasy output. He is still competent under ideal conditions, but rarely adds value heading into a tough matchup with the Bears.
RB Saquon Barkley
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 101 - 1, Rec: 7 - 41 - 1 (8 targets) - Barkley dominated in the first half with more hard-nosed runs inside, too much speed for the Eagles defense to handle, and lots of passing game contributions. He also showed his typical elusiveness in the open field and generally gave the Eagles fits. He scored on a long run and a short reception, but was also stuffed on first and second and goal runs and covered well on a third and goal target to keep him from having an even bigger day. Barkley was barely heard from in the second half as the Giants offense lost its way for a few drives.
RB Wayne Gallman
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 25 - 0, Rec: 2 - -2 - 0 (2 targets) - Gallman got some work to spell Barkley and displayed a good burst through the hole on his carries. He was also effective on a sharp cut to get a first down later in the game. He could have a big gain on a reception if Malcolm Jenkins didn’t get a shoestring tackle.
WR Odell Beckham
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 85 - 0 (9 targets) - Beckham was underutilized against a ragtag Eagles secondary. He showed an undeniable acceleration in his routes and on a few short receptions, and easily got free for a deep reception early in the game. He was targeted in the end zone twice. Once was into double coverage and behind him and ended up intercepted an on the other he was likely held. Manning also missed him on a short throw right before the interception. Beckham did have a big third down catch in the second half but could have had a much bigger impact on this game.
WR Sterling Shepard
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (6 targets) - Shepard was mostly used in the short passing game. He was fast after the reception to tack on some yardage, but overall was quiet in this game. He did have a short catch in the red zone and got open in the middle of the field for a nice gain, but he wasn’t able to make a fantasy impact despite the good matchup.
TE Rhett Ellison
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 0 (6 targets) - Ellison was repeatedly left open by the Eagles in a good sign for tight ends facing Philadelphia in upcoming weeks. He did have one pass sail through his hands, but had a few long catch and runs, including one at a key juncture in the fourth quarter. He could have some value as a streamer if Engram is out for a multiple games.
QB Carson Wentz
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 28 - 236 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Wentz played a clean game without turnovers and led a comeback from an early 19-3 deficit for the home win against the Giants. Wentz was pressured in key moments with three drives, two in field goal range, ending with sacks. Wentz was also stuffed on a third-down read option leading to a field goal. Two of Wentz’s best throws came into small windows to Golden Tate
, but Wentz was a relative non-factor in the Eagles’ win as the team shifted to a run-centric offense for the first time in weeks with success. The critical gauntlet of games continues next week against Washington.
RB Josh Adams
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 84 - 1 (1 targets) - Adams was reported to be given more opportunity as the feature back against the Giants this week and the result was exactly that. Adams was stuffed on a number of rushing attempts, but collected 22 carries, the clear leader for the Eagles’ backfield. Adams’ best runs were with quality blocking and when he could build up momentum; when his feet stop, generally the play stops. Adams showed above-average speed to the edge and reversing his field on two notable chunk gains. Adams’ highlight sequence was willing the Eagles for a touchdown with multiple runs down to the goal line, converting the short touchdown, and then adding the two-point conversion as the Eagles tied the game. Beyond the box score, Adams went untouched for a long touchdown on his opening carry of the game, but was called back by a holding penalty. With Corey Clement
a clear secondary option, Adams has established himself as the lead back going forward.
RB Corey Clement
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 45 - 0, Rec: 2 - 31 - 0 (2 targets) - Clement was highly efficient on seven touches against the Giants, surpassing 70 total yards. Clement’s highlight on the ground was an untouched third-down draw play gaining more than 30 yards, adding a broken tackle on a screen play for more than 20 yards. Clement converted a two-play play with a perimeter run, but was the clear second back to the rising Josh Adams
entrenching himself as the starter.
WR Golden Tate
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (8 targets) - Tate saw 29% of the Eagles targets, but did little with them against the Giants. Tate was stuffed on two short receptions, including a third-down slot screen, a bread-and-butter opportunity for Tate during his career. Tate added a drop to his struggles but his highlight play was a great catch over the middle on the receiving end of a laser Carson Wentz
pass into coverage. Tate has seen a promising 16 targets over the past two games, but the big plays have eluded him since joining Philadelphia.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (3 targets) - Jeffery was a distant fourth on the team in targets against the Giants, but did draw a defensive pass interference penalty and have a high point reception called back by penalty. All of Jeffery’s targets were of the short variety and his lone big-play opportunity was on his own accord with yards-after-catch following a hitch reception. With Zach Ertz
and Golden Tate
funneled targets, Jeffery’s status in the Eagles’ pecking order was concerning this week. Jeffery has not surpassed 50 receiving yards in four straight games. Washington offered an exploitable matchup in Week 13.
TE Zach Ertz
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 91 - 1 (8 targets) - After Ertz’s most disappointing game of the season in Week 11, Ertz was back to feature status against the Giants. Ertz was active from the slot, including a high-point catch on a deep out and corralling a low pass. Ertz’s touchdown was a product of after-the-catch acumen, breaking a tackle near the goal line to convert the score. Dallas Goedert
was active early in the game, but had not effect on Ertz’s strong target share and bounce-back performance.
TE Dallas Goedert
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (4 targets) - Goedert has been near-invisible since the arrival of Golden Tate
to the Eagles’ passing game. Goedert resurfaced this week against the Giants with four targets (after four targets combined over the past three games), converting three of them into catches. All of Goedert’s receptions were close to the line of scrimmage, including a screen for a chunk gain, and Goedert did not see any touchdown opportunities. Outside of a Zach Ertz
injury, Goedert’s passing game role will highly volatile from week to week.
Green Bay Packers 17, Minnesota Vikings 24
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- The Green Bay Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 24-17 on Sunday Night Football to drop their record to 4-6-1 and all but eliminated them from playoff contention. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
had one of his worst statistical games of the season, completing 17 of 28 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown. Running back Aaron Jones
continued to be solid, rushing 17 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 21 yards. Davante Adams
caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, while fellow wideout Marques Valdes-Scalding caught one pass for three yards on two targets. Rookie Equanimeous St. Brown
was second among the Packers wideouts with three catches for 54 yards. Tight End Jimmy Graham
caught only two passes for 34 yards on four targets.
- A prime-time game against a division rival has not gone well for the Vikings so far this season, but they were able to flip the script today and pull out the tough win against the Packers. Kirk Cousins
looked a lot like the guy they thought they were getting for that massive contract, Dalvin Cook
got things going for the first time this season, Adam Thielen
and Stefon Diggs
returned to form, and the defense held Aaron Rogers in check. It was an all-around team win with contributions on offense, defense, and special teams. The rushing attack failed to surpass 100 combined yards, but the important stat is that they rushed it 29 times. The Vikings have leaned on Cousins all season long and made it a point to run the ball more in the coming weeks. Cook has fresh legs after missing a big chunk of the season due to injury and is going to be needed more than ever. One frustrating aspect of the game has been Dan Bailey
. He missed another 2 kicks this week and coach Zimmer was quoted saying he would go for it on 4th down in the second half rather than have the game decided by kicking again against the Packers. Bailey has struggled this season after missing training camp and not being signed until the season had already started. The Vikings travel to New England on the east coast and then hop a plane to Seattle on the west coast in the next 2 weeks. It is a brutal stretch of schedule that is going to go a long way in deciding if they make the playoffs this season. First up is Tom Brady
and the Patriots next week.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 28 - 198 - 1 TD / 0 INT - Aaron Rodgers
completed 17 of 28 passes for 198 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. With this loss, the Packers are no longer in playoff contention, which rarely happens with Rodgers is your quarterback. The Vikings did a great job putting pressure on Rodgers throughout the night, including sacking him four times and forcing Rodgers to get the ball out early on several other attempts. The 198 passing yards was a season low for Rodgers, and only the second time this season that he failed to register at least 250 passing yards. Rodgers has only thrown one interception to 20 touchdowns, but the combination of the Packers defense and young skill position players have made it a tough year in Green Bay. In this game, the Vikings had a strong defensive gameplan that focused on getting pressure to Rodgers and limiting what his receivers could do coming off the line. This worked very well in addition to the Vikings offense dominating the time of possession, and although the Packers were within two scores, the game never really felt that close due to the Vikings have the momentum the entire second half. Rodgers only touchdown pass came with the Packers driving at the Vikings 15 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center with Davante Adams
lined up out wide to his left. Rodgers took a quick drop and was looking to Adams the entire way, throwing the pass behind Adams to his back-shoulder at about the five yard line, and Adams did the rest, turning to catch the ball and then running across the goal line.
RB Aaron Jones
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 72 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (5 targets) - Aaron Jones
rushed 17 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 21 yards on five targets against the Vikings. Jones continued his strong play on the ground, and although he averaged only 4.2 yards per carry, he was still a big part of the Packers moving the football, especially in the first half. Jones was also very active in the passing game, tying for the second most targets on the night with five. Jones has made big strides in the passing game this season, and it is clear that the Packers want him to be on the field more in those situations because they have stopped giving back up Jamaal Williams
those touches. Jones touchdown run came with the Packers driving on the Vikings six yard line. Jones was lined up in the backfield and Rodgers took the snap with his receiver coming in motion, pivoted towards the oncoming motion, before pitching it backhand to Jones, who was diving to the left side of the formation. Jones took the pitch and used his speed to get to the left sideline, beating all the Vikings defenders before jogging into the endzone untouched.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 - Jamaal Williams
rushed one time for five yards in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Williams has now only seen three touches in his last three games and only enters the game to give Jones a quick breather from time to time.
WR Davante Adams
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 69 - 1 (8 targets) - Davante Adams
caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown on eight targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Adams once again led the Packers in every receiving category, and scored his 10th touchdown of the season. That touchdown marked the third straight season he has recorded double digit receiving touchdowns, making him the only player in the league to record that feat. Adams also went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career in this game, something that had eluded him the past two seasons as a starter. Adams, like much of the Packers receivers, went long stretches in this game without a target, as the Vikings were dominating the time of possession on offense and getting quick stops on defense. Coming into the Packers last possession, Adams had only three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown, but managed to pad his stats with two catches for 45 yards on the final drive. Adams touchdown came with the Packers lined up at the Vikings 15 yard line. Adams was lined up out to the left sideline against Xavier Rhodes and ran a straight go-route that called for him to look for a back shoulder pass at around the five yard line. Rodgers delivered a perfect pass in-stride to Adams, and Adams did a really nice job of catching the ball in that position and then pivoting so that he could get himself across the goal line. Adams is without a doubt the pre-eminent red zone receiver in the NFL today, as he has figured out a way to get pockets of separation and use his athleticism to create space in tight windows.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 53 - 0 (5 targets) - Equanimeous St. Brown
caught three passes for 54 yards on five targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday. St. Brown was targeted early and often, recording four targets in the first half. St. Brown also had two catches for 38 yards that went a long way in setting up Jones rushing touchdown. St. Brown is a big-bodied receiver that adds a different dimension to the Packers passing game. He and Valdes-Scalding have a bright future in Green Bay, although it is somewhat premature to target him for the fantasy stretch run, as Valdes-Scalding has still performed better over the course of the season. Next week should add some clues though, as the Packers could start to place more emphasis on developing their young talent with the playoffs not in their future this season.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Valdes-Scantling caught one pass for three yards against the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. Valdes-Scalding had been a big contributor over the first ten games of the season, but he has since faded the last several weeks, even with Randall Cobb
and Geranimo Allison unable to play. Scalding was only targeted twice on the night, while fellow rookie Equanimeous St. Brown
caught three passes for 53 yards on five targets.
TE Jimmy Graham
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 0 (4 targets) - Jimmy Graham
caught two passes for 34 yards on four targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Graham was active, but did not start in this game, seeing only limited snaps until the final drive of the night for the Packers. It was on this drive that Graham caught both of his passes. It was only the second time in his last five games that Graham caught more than one pass, and it will be difficult to trust him moving forward because the Packers are out of playoff contention, and he has been playing at less than 100%, physically.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 38 - 342 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0 - It has been an up and down season for Cousins, but this week was one of those high points. He surpassed 300 yards, added 3 touchdowns, ran the ball when needed, and most importantly, did not turn the ball over. He did take 2 sacks by staying in the pocket too long, but he was able to tuck the ball away and not fumble like he has in previous games this season. The first touchdown drive was a result of back to back 20+ yard plays. Cousins hit Diggs on a 24-yard slant the play before he swung it out to Cook for a 26-yard touchdown. Cousins found Cook on the outlet pass and let his young running back weave through defenders and into the end zone for the score. Green Bay took poor angles to the ball and Cook made them pay with the touchdown. The second touchdown was a beautiful 30-yard throw to Diggs. After the play action fake to Cook, Cousins found Diggs wide open down the side line and into the end zone. A crossing route between Diggs and Thielen caused his defender to get confused and fall, leaving Diggs wide open for the easy score. The third and final passing touchdown came on a scramble play. Cousins was flushed out of the pocket by the Green Bay pass rush and let loose a pass to Thielen just before he crossed the line of scrimmage. Thielen had settled into a void behind the linebackers and was able to dive his way 14 yards into the end zone. Cousins made the right decision throwing the ball rather than trying to run for the first down as he would have been stopped well short. With 2 games on the road in New England and Seattle, Cousins will be able to prove whether or not he is worth the massive contract he got in the coming weeks.
RB Dalvin Cook
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 29 - 0, Rec: 3 - 47 - 1 (3 targets) - The lack of success on the ground for the Vikings continues to frustrate fans but Cook showed flashes of why he was drafted this week against the Packers. His longest rush was only 9 yards and he averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but he made a big impact in the passing game this week. The Vikings failed to surpass 100 yards on the ground this week but committed to running the ball 29 times. Cook saw 10 of those carries while Murray was given 11. The big play for Cook this week was the first touchdown drive for the Vikings. After a big gain from Diggs, Cook leaked out of the backfield on a wheel route. Cousins threw a perfect pass to hit him in stride and gave him a chance to follow a block and then weave through the defense for a 26-yard touchdown. The defense took poor angles to the ball and Cook made them pay for the touchdown. He caught both of his other targets and had more yards through the air than he did on the ground.
RB Latavius Murray
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 33 - 0 - The return of Cook was always going to cut into the production of Murray, but he is still the trusted back in crunch time. Murray has a better history of ball security and was used more late in the game when trying to run out the clock. Cook may have been the big play style back, but Murray got the tough yards and helped to kill the clock and get the win this week. Murray was given 1 more carry than Cook and ended up averaging 3 yards per carry. The Vikings scored from 26, 30, and 14 yards out and did not have any goal to go situations to use Murray for short yardage this week. He did not have a single target in the passing game as those situations went to Cook. The Vikings are still trying to strike a balance between running and passing the ball and a lot of that will start by establishing a split between Murray and Cook. Murray remains highly touchdown dependent but is still seeing a fair amount of work for the Vikings.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 8 - 77 - 1 (11 targets) - It can be had to co-exist in an offense dominated by Thielen, but Diggs continues to carve out a big chunk every week. He continues to show that he has some of the best hands in the league and seems to make a big play every week. Diggs kicked off the first scoring drive with a 24-yard catch and run across the middle and made a tough catch on a ball behind him to get a first down on the final drive to run out the clock for the Vikings. Diggs also had a 12-yard end around rush for the longest play on the ground for the Vikings this week. The touchdown play was a thing of beauty and was the second longest pass of the game for the Vikings. After the play action fake to Cook, Cousins found Diggs wide open down the side line and into the end zone. A crossing route between Diggs and Thielen caused his defender to get confused and fall, leaving Diggs wide open for the easy score. This was high 6th touchdown on the season and Diggs has a realistic chance at over 1000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns if he keeps up his current pace.
WR Adam Thielen
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 125 - 1 (9 targets) - It was a slow start for Thielen, but everything eventually went his way by the end of the game. He had already burned the Packers for 130+ yards and a touchdown when they played earlier this season and ended the game with a very similar line this week. Thielen kicked things off with a 33-yard catch in traffic as he was falling to the ground. This was the longest play through the air for the Vikings and a great way to get things started. It was not a graceful start after Thielen collided with Diggs on the first drive and caused a massive loss on a short play, but he just kept running his routes and chipping away. Thielen ran quick outs and shallow crosses to do most of his damage and then scored his touchdown on a scramble play. Cousins was flushed from the pocket and took off towards the line like he was going to run for the first down. He then found Thielen who had settled into the void behind the linebackers for an easy first down. However, Thielen would not be denied and dove across the goal line for the third Viking touchdown of the game. It was just the cherry atop another dominant game for Thielen.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 63 - 0 (7 targets) - Cousins finally seemed to realize that he had a weapon in Rudolph this week and targeted the big tight end 7 times. This was good for 3rd on the team behind Diggs and Thielen and that is where he should be all season long. Rudolph snagged all 7 of his targets and even made an acrobatic one-handed diving catch across the middle for a first down. Rudolph did not make an impact in the red zone, but the Vikings scored from outside of it on 2 of their 3 touchdowns this week. Rudolph is a big weapon that the Vikings have not been using this season. He should see a greater volume as the rushing attack gets going. Rudolph fits the play action pop pass offensive style perfectly and that is something the Vikings could thrive on. Look for him to establish himself in the coming games this season.
Tennessee Titans 17, Houston Texans 34
What you need to know
- The Titans offense could not find a rhythm in this one despite the spectacular play from Marcus Mariota
, who threw 19 straight completions before finally missing his only pass with 1:06 remaining in the game. Poor offensive line play led to a rough day on the ground for the Titans running backs along with six sacks of Marcus Mariota
. Dion Lewis
led the team in targets, but it was Corey Davis
who busted a long touchdown reception and led the team with 96 receiving yards. Jonnu Smith
had a long touchdown of his own--61 yards--marking the third time he has scored in the past four games. Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler left the game early with a concussion and did not return.
- Once again, WR Keke Coutee
’s game was cut short due to a hamstring issue. The Texans continue to not take chances with Coulee on the field once he starts having issues again. He only caught 2 passes for 14 yards.
WR DeAndre Carter
filled in for Coutee at the slot wide receiver. He had 1 reception for 14 yards and if Coutee misses time, expect Carter to get increased snaps at wide receiver.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 23 - 303 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 28 - 0 - Marcus Mariota
put together one of the best performances of his career in the loss to Houston Monday night. He was perfect through the air without a single incompletion until 1:06 remaining in the game when a pass intended for Derrick Henry
fell incomplete. Mariota relied heavily on short passes throughout this game, but he did take some deep shots sprinkled to Corey Davis
throughout the game. One of those short passes for Mariota turned into his longest pass play of the game as Jonnu Smith
hauled in a reception just three yards from the line of scrimmage but proceeded top rumble his way to a 61-yard touchdown on the second drive of the game. Mariota’s second touchdown came just before the third quarter expired as he heaved the ball about 31-yards downfield to connect with Corey Davis
, who took it the rest of the way for a 48-yard touchdown. The ball was very slightly underthrown, but Davis managed to make the play along with a great move after the catch to find the end zone. Mariota was spectacular at extending plays and using his legs, as shown by his 28 rushing yards, but he also was guilty of holding on to the ball a little too long at times. Because of this drive to make a play along with very poor blocking, Mariota ended up getting sacked six times for 43 negative yards, which marks great day through the air did not come without mistakes though, as he did take 6 sacks due in part to his indecisiveness in the pocket, combined with poor offensive line play against the stout Texans pass rush. This marks the fourth time in the last six games that Mariota has been sacked four or more times.
RB Dion Lewis
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 8 - 0, Rec: 7 - 33 - 0 (7 targets) - Dion Lewis
had a dreadful outing on the ground as he managed to run for just eight yards on seven rushing attempts. His indecisive running style is what did Lewis in here, as he tried to shuffle and make something out of nothing far too often, resulting in four busted plays of no gain or negative yardage in the first half alone. Lewis did make a few nice plays through the air as he led the team in targets and receptions, hauling in all seven of them for 33 yards. His most notable catch may have been on the Titans’ drive to start the second quarter where Lewis just barely could not push his way across the first down marker on third down, which inevitably set up the Titans’ failed fourth down conversion attempt that turned the tide of this game.
RB Derrick Henry
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 30 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (3 targets) - Derrick Henry
was not impressive in this one despite earning more carries than Dion Lewis
for the first time since Week 6. Henry did have two nice downhill runs in the first half for decent gains of eight and seven yards, while he also fielded a few more direct snaps as the Titans continue to employ that package from time to time. Most of Henry’s work came in the second half as he was featured heavily to kick off the half, including three rushes and a well-blocked screen pass that Henry took for eight yards. Henry would end up being the target of Mariota’s only incompletion of the night, while he finished off the evening with an 11-yard reception that ended in Henry coughing up a fumble to end any hopes of another Titans score.
WR Corey Davis
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 39 - 0, Rec: 4 - 96 - 1 (4 targets) - Corey Davis
got started with a nice route to the sideline for a 19-yard catch on the first drive of the game. He then drew a defensive pass interference call 33-yards downfield on the very next play. Davis would contribute on the ground in a big way here with a 39-yard rush coming from an end around fed his way by way of Derrick Henry
, who took the direct snap. It was an innovative play call that took the Texans secondary by surprise as Davis easily accelerated past the chasing defensive linemen before finally running into a couple defenders. With this play, Davis actually finished as the leading rusher for the Titans. It was not his longest play of the evening though, as Davis ran a spec spectacular double move, cutting out and up before hauling in a big 48-yard touchdown reception at the end of the third quarter. The ball was very slightly underthrown, but Davis slowed down to make the catch before cutting back inside to split the defenders on his way to the end zone.
TE Anthony Firkser
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 52 - 0 (4 targets) - Rookie tight end Anthony Firkser
has been inconsistently involved in the Titans offense this season, but he has now seen some consistent utilization in the past two games. Firkser finished with a career-high four receptions for 52 yards this week--which was a nice follow-up to his 3-44 outing in Week 11. Nearly all of Firkser’s production came in garbage time in this week’s game though, as three of his receptions for 45 of his total 52 yards all came with less than two minutes to go in the game.
TE Jonnu Smith
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 63 - 1 (2 targets) - Jonnu Smith
hauled in both of his targets, with one of those being the longest play of the night for the Titans. On the Titans’ second drive of the game, Smith nabbed a routine short pass just three yards from the line of scrimmage, but he then proceeded to show spectacular acceleration for a player of his size to sprint down the middle of the field nearly 50 yards before he was even touched. Smith ran right through the attempted arm tackle of a Texans defensive back as his momentum carried him right into the end zone for an impressive 61-yard touchdown that came 100% from the effort of Smith.
QB Deshaun Watson
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 24 - 210 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 9 - 70 - 1 - The pass attempts may not be there but Deshaun Watson
is maximizing his opportunities. Throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns, Watson also chipped in a designed run for 15 yards and a score. Watson continues to get comfortable with his new receiver in Demaryius Thomas
and turned to him in the redone hitting him twice for touchdowns. Watson his Thomas four times during the game and it shows a quarterback trusting his newest receiver more each week. Once again, Watson continues to lean on DeAndre Hopkins
for big plays and his best throw of the night came on a 28-yard strike against Cover-2 where he hit him in the hole between two defenders. Watson’s only incompletion on a pass more than 10-yards came on a deep ball targeted for Hopkins in the end zone but couldn’t connect. IT was one of the more active games for Watson with his legs rushing for 70 yards and his longest run in sometime with a 34-yard simperer that almost resulted in a fumble but replay review showed his elbow hitting before the ball popping out. Watson continues to be efficient as a quarterback, he hit 9 different receivers during the game.
RB Alfred Blue
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 49 - 0, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (1 targets) - The Texans continue to preserve Lamar Miller
and Alfred Blue
is getting comparable carries during the game. 13 carries for 49 yards but most of that work came in the second half when the Titans started selling out to stop the run. Blue’s longest rush was 9 yards and he did have one reception for 13-yards. The big thing with Blue is his continued carries he is getting to spell Miller.
RB Lamar Miller
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 162 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Talk about a resurgence for the veteran running back, Lamar Miller
rushed for 162 yards and with just 6 carries in the first half, it saw him rush for 21, 12 and 11 yards on three carries to open up the game. His biggest run came from the Texans own 2-yard line where he broke one tackle on a power play then outran every Titan defender to the end zone to cap off a 97-yard touchdown run. Miller’s 13.5 yards per carry were eye opening especially with the amount of yards he was ripping off. It continues to be a solid second half of the season for Miller.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 74 - 0 (6 targets) - The savvy receiver eclipsed the 1,000 yard barrier on Monday night with his 74 yard performance. Hopkins continues to be the receiver that Watson turns to in key situations. Watson hit Hopkins for a 28 pin point throw in between two defenders to keep a drive alive that resulted in a field goal. Hopkins also had a big catch on 4th and 1 beating simple press coverage on a nice out route. Hopkins continues to do work as a receiver and making plays through the air.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 38 - 2 (5 targets) - Bill O’Brien made it clear that the Texans needed to get Demaryius Thomas
more involved in the offense and they did just that, especially in the redone. Thomas caught two touchdowns for the first time since 2014 and he also had 38 yards. He was a key target to get first downs but his work against Adoree Jackson for his touchdowns saw Thomas toe-tap right before going out of bound on two well thrown ball for only Thomas to pluck out of the air.
WR Keke Coutee
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Coutee left the game with another hamstring injury after two short receptions. He has a chance to play next week, but will be very risky upon return no matter when it happens.
Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 20
What you need to know
- The Browns ripped the Bengals in Week 12, putting the game out of reach by halftime. Baker Mayfield
played his best game as a pro, repeatedly escaping pressure and firing accurate strikes downfield while on the run. If the Cincinnati offense had been able to keep up on the scoreboard, this could have been a huge day for the Cleveland offense. Instead, they went into clock-killing mode, attempting just four second-half passes. Nick Chubb
's yards per carry average doesn't look great but he continually ran into stacked boxes in the second half as the Bengals knew Cleveland was just trying to run clock. One thing becoming apparent is that Chubb continues to be much better than advertised in the passing game.
- -Andy Dalton
was lost for the season with a thumb injury.
played well, showing off his athleticism and big arm in releif.
dominated the running back touches despite a game script that should have favored Giovani Bernard
was fantastic, showing WR1 skills in AJ Green’s absence.
QB Baker Mayfield
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 26 - 258 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -4 - 0 - Mayfield put on a show in Cincinnati. The rookie quarterback spent much of the first half firing strikes to his receivers. He was excellent in the pocket, repeatedly moving away from pressure while throwing accurate passes on the run. Mayfield was also excellent in the play action game, selling run fakes and making the defense pay with accurate passes. Mayfield's first touchdown was a 13-yard strike to Antonio Callaway
, thrown while on the move. David Njoku
did most of the work on Mayfield's second TD toss, catching a short pass and muscling his way into the end zone (helped by a push from some of his offensive linemen) for a six-yard score. Mayfield's third score was a terrific pass and catch as he threw a high lob to a closely covered Nick Chubb
. Chubb went up over the back of a Cincinnati defender, snatching the ball off of the defender's helmet. With the Browns holding a 28-7 lead, Mayfield was only asked to throw four passes in the second half. One of those passes was a six-yard touchdown to tight end Darren Fells
. Mayfield showed excellent patience as he waited for Fells to cross the back of the end zone from left to right. He then fired a pin-point pass over the head of a defender for the score. Mayfield has really flourished under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. His ability to escape and accuracy while throwing on the run has become a problem for opposing defenses.
RB Nick Chubb
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 84 - 1, Rec: 3 - 44 - 1 (3 targets) - Chubb's final yards per carry numbers don't look pretty but the Browns went into a run-heavy, clock-killing approach in the second half. Cincinnati's defense knew what was coming at that point and was able to stack the box against Chubb. The rookie running back continues to impress, showing explosiveness and tackle-breaking ability. He also continues to be better than many expected as a pass-catcher. The first play of the game was a 23-yard reception to Chubb. His touchdown reception was the catch of the game as he went over the back of a Bengals defender who was covering him closely. Chubb leapt up and snatched the ball off of the defender's helmet before falling backward into the end zone. Chubb also had a one-yard touchdown run earlier in the game in which he followed Joel Bitonio's pulling block up the middle for the score. Chubb was mostly bottled up in the second half but he did rip off a 27-yard gain in the fourth quarter where he employed a nice stutter behind the line before taking off up the left sideline. Having proven his value in the passing game, Chubb has entrenched himself as one of the top young running backs in the league. He will continue to be a fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.
RB Duke Johnson
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets) - Johnson had a quiet game, mostly because the Browns had a big 28-7 lead at halftime and only threw the ball four times in the second half. This is the sort of game script that neutralizes a pass-catching specialist such as Johnson. His first touch came on a pitch left which saw him gain three yards. Later on the same drive he caught a 23-yard pass off of play action. On the third drive of the first quarter, Johnson saw a red zone target right in front of the Cincinnati goal line. The ball was thrown too high and a bit too hard for Johnson to corral it. It is unlikely he would have made it into the end zone even if the pass was catchable as there were defenders closing in on him as soon as the ball got there. At the end of the second quarter, Johnson took a delayed handoff for a 13-yard gain. Despite the slow game, Johnson's rest of the season outlook looks bright as the new coaching staff has been using him more than the previous one was.
WR Antonio Callaway
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 62 - 1 (5 targets) - Callaway turned in a big game for the Browns, with his 62 yards being the most he's gained since Week 2. In the first quarter, he caught a 13-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield
in the back left corner of the end zone on a perfect pass. He came back on the next drive to make an excellent catch on the right sideline, which went for a 21-yard gain. He did a nice job getting both feet down in bounds on the play. In the second quarter he drew a deep target down the middle of the field but the pass was overthrown. Callaway didn't do much in the second half as the Browns threw the ball just four times. Callaway, like most young rookies, is going to be inconsistent but he has shown enough flashes to show why the Browns were high on him in the draft.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Landry was the only Cleveland offensive star who didn't get in on the first half scoring. The veteran receiver had another low-volume day, catching just three of his five targets. Landry has shown over his career that he needs high volume to post numbers but Baker Mayfield
has really been spreading the ball around over the past few games instead of just locking onto Landry, which was happening earlier in the year. It also didn't help Landry's case that the Browns built a 28-7 lead by halftime and only passed the ball four times in the second half. Landry drew a deep target on the second drive of the game but the pass was thrown too low for him to catch. His first catch came out of a bunch right formation where he got open and pulled in a nine-yard gain on 3rd-and-three. At the beginning of the second quarter, Landry saw an end zone target but it was thrown too high. That pass attempt wound up getting nullified by offsetting penalties. Landry's final catch was a seven-yard gain off of a quick pass in the third quarter. Struggling to see a high volume of targets over the past few weeks, it is time to start treating Landry as more of a WR3 than the WR2 he has been over the past few seasons.
TE David Njoku
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 63 - 1 (5 targets) - Njoku had a big game for the Browns, doing most of his damage on a 96-yard touchdown drive in the first half. Njoku ripped off two straight receptions on that drive, one for 24 yards and the second for 21. He was wide open on the first catch, trucking a few defenders for extra yardage after the catch. On the second catch he made an exceptional diving grab on a low pass. Njoku's six-yard touchdown reception was an exciting play. He caught a short pass behind the line of scrimmage, around the Cincinnati 10-yard line. He then attempted to leap into the end zone from around the five-yard line. He was caught and held upright by a defender. Once his feet returned to earth, he started churning his legs in attempts to reach the goal line. He got an assist from several teammates as they combined to help push him into the end zone. From watching the replays, it appeared Njoku attempted his leap a bit too far away from the goal line. Njoku, and the rest of the Cleveland passing game, was not needed in the second half with a big lead. Only four passes were attempted. Njoku continues to be one of the league's most athletic tight ends and should be treated as an every week starting option in fantasy.
QB Jeff Driskel
, 44 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 29 - 155 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 9 - 1 - Driskel came on for an injured Dalton and acquitted himself fairly well. In fact, he was able to lead a couple touchdown drives and made the game mildly interesting late. He showed off his big arm with a dart between a pair of defenders to Tyler Boyd
for a 28-yard touchdown. The Bengals didn't do much to take advantage of Driskel’s athleticism but likely will moving forward with time to game plan for him as starter. Driskel did score a 2-yard rushing touchdown on a bizarre quarterback sneak. He burrowed forward and was somehow able to keep pushing forward until he broke the plane. Driskel made a big-time throw on the run to for a long gain to Boyd but the play was called back due to an illegal shift, which basically ended any hopes of a miracle comeback.
QB Andy Dalton
, 30 offensive snaps, Pass: 10 - 17 - 100 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 21 - 0 - In what has been a regular occurrence for Dalton and the Bengals offense of late, he quickly found himself in a big hole. The Bengals deferred and the Browns opened with a touchdown. The offense looked poised to answer, marching down the field with ease until a Giovani Bernard
holding penalty put them behind the chains and forced a long future goal attempt which was blocked. The Browns scored again, the Bengals punted, the Browns scored again, Dalton overshot Cody Core
and the pass was intercepted, the Browns scored again, and the game was basically over at 28-0 midway through the second quarter. Dalton was able to lead a touchdown drive before halftime, capped off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to John Ross
. Things quickly went from bad to worse in the second half. Less than a minute in, a bad snap sailed past Dalton and as he dove to the ground trying to recover the ball, his hand hit awkwardly and he left the game. It has been reported he has a sprained thumb but nothing is broken. However, the injury was serious enough to land Dalton on injured reserve and end his season.
RB Joe Mixon
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 89 - 0, Rec: 7 - 66 - 0 (7 targets) - Despite the Bengals falling into a huge hole early, the team stuck with Mixon over Bernard, a testament to his ability to make an impact as a receiver. Despite the demoralizing game, Mixon was able to provide an emotional spark with his spirited play. Trailing 28-0, Mixon broke off an impressive 28-yard run where he made a man miss in the hole, hurdled an attempted ankle tackle and weaved his way deep into Browns territory to set up a touchdown. Mixon showed well as a receiver again, finishing second on the team in yards. His soft hands, quick feet, and powerful running style make him a mismatch in space. Mixon deserves an assist for Driskel’s short rushing touchdown. Driskel ran a draw and Mixon came in strong behind him, pushing and then dragging him into the end zone.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets) - Bernard looked confused on a blitz pickup on the opening drive and he was forced to lunge and hold a blitzing linebacker. The holding call caused the drive to stall out and led to a blocked field goal. It was surprising to see how little Bernard was used despite a game script that should have favored him.
WR Tyler Boyd
, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 85 - 1 (8 targets) - Boyd’s play was the lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal day for the Bengals. He caught all but one target and even that incompletion was impressive. Boyd made a fantastic mid-air adjustment and nearly was able to pull it in along the sideline. He was able to get open on a post route for a 28-yard touchdown deep down the middle. Boyd made a number of tough contested catches against tight coverage, confidently snatching the ball with his hands. His best play didn't even count. Boyd went up over a pair of Browns defenders to steal the ball out of their hands for a 47-yard reception just shy of the end zone. The play came back due to a flag for an illegal shift.
WR John Ross
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 1 (7 targets) - Ross made an early 17-yard catch over the middle. He leaped high and extended away from his body to pull it in and hung on through contact. While the yards have been tough to come by, Ross has been finding the end zone regularly and extended his touchdown streak with a 2-yard grab. He motioned across the formation to the right side and took advantage of a rub route from the slot receiver to create some separation and then sat down in a hole in the zone for an easy touchdown.
WR Auden Tate
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (7 targets) - Tate frustratingly continues to run behind Cody Core
, whose lazy route led to an interception. When Tate finally got on the field, he made an impact. He dove and extended parallel to the ground to make a spectacular diving grab. He also was able to draw a flag in the end zone when given an opportunity for a jump ball. It was a small sample size, but Tate showed a strong rapport with fellow backup Jeff Driskel
TE C.J. Uzomah
, 74 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 39 - 0 (13 targets) - Uzomah was again a solid secondary target. He made a pair of nice grabs along the right sideline on the opening drive, one of which was called back due to holding.
Miami Dolphins 24, Indianapolis Colts 27
What you need to know
- The Dolphins looked as if they were going to do just enough to pull out the win against the Colts this week, and then Andrew Luck
happened in the 4th quarter. The Dolphin defense gave up 13 points in the 4th quarter and surrendered the lead for good. Ryan Tannehill
made his return to the lineup but looked out of sorts outside of his 74-yard touchdown to Leonte Carroo
. The rushing attack combined for over 100 yards, but no ball carrier averaged 5 or more yards per carry. The defense had a respectable game but could not come up with the stop late in the game. The loss moves the Dolphins to 5-6 on the season. They still have 2 games against the Bills to close out the season, but also have games against the Vikings, Patriots, and Jaguars. It would be a stretch to see the Dolphins end with a winning record, but they will look to take the first step next week at home against the Bills.
- Self inflicted wounds in the form of turnovers and penalties slowed down the Colts' offense. 3 first half turnovers and a missed field goal kept the Dolphins in the game. However, the Colts ability to generate explosive plays allowed them to overcome mistakes. Luck was outstanding throwing the ball downfield outside of interceptions on consecutive plays. TY Hilton continues to look unstoppable and made Xavien Howard look silly on a couple of occasions. Eric Ebron
continues to capitalize on almost every opportunity he sees as a receiver and seems to be improving. Ebron has shown great hands and the ability to make contested catches throughout this season. Marlon Mack
played well but left the game and was placed in concussion protocol. Nyheim Hines
filled in as the featured back and played well in Mack's absence. Jack Doyle
found the end zone but did not see any downfield targets.
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 25 - 204 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0 - After missing the last several weeks due to a mystery shoulder injury, Tannehill was finally back under center for the Dolphins this week. He eased back into it with several check down and outlet passes rather than deep shots down the field. He was not harassed by the Colts defense and was only sacked once. The first touchdown pass was a short swing pass to Drake who weaved his way through traffic for the 33-yard touchdown. The Colts were flagged for defensive offsides and rather than take a shot down the field on the free play, Tannehill played it safe and swung the ball to the outside. It was the safe play when he could have taken a shot, but it worked out for the first touchdown of the game. The second touchdown was the longest play of the game. A 74-yard bomb for a touchdown to Leonte Carroo
. Tannehill let loose the deepest pass his arm could handle down the left sideline and Carroo went up and over the defender for an amazing catch. The defender fell to the ground and Carroo was able to run the rest of the way to the end zone. It was a valiant effort in Tannehill's return, but they came up just short against the Colts. He will have a better matchup next week against the Bills as he looks to get back on track for the remainder of the season.
RB Frank Gore
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 67 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - In a race against father time, Gore keeps plugging away for the Dolphins. He led the team in carries again this week and had more success than any other back. Gore had 6 more carries than Drake this week and 35 more yards. He did not play much of a role in the passing game this week but that has been the norm this season. Gore has been the ground and pound back while Drake has come in as a change of pace and passing attack back. Gore had the longest play of the game on the ground with his 23-yard rush off the edge but was unable to find the end zone. The Dolphins continue to trust Gore late in the game as he has an established history of ball security, but it was not enough to run out the clock and beat the Colts this week. Gore passed Curtis Samuel
for 4th on the all-time rushing list earlier this season and continues to chip away for third. He is 715 yards behind Barry Sanders
and does not have a chance at the rate they are going this season. If Gore has another season in him, he has a great chance to take over that third spot next season. A great matchup against the Bills next week could help him chip away this season.
RB Kenyan Drake
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 32 - 1, Rec: 5 - 64 - 1 (6 targets) - The running back quandary continues in Miami. Frank Gore
continues to get more carries, but Drake had more success again this week. He had a touchdown on the ground and through the air this week and led the team in targets. Drake kicked things off with a 33-yard touchdown reception on the first drive of the game. Tannehill got the Colts to jump and rather than take a shot down the field he swung the ball out to Drake. It looked to be a short gain, but Drake was able to follow his blocks and then weave through the defense for the score. The Colts showed poor tackling on the play, but Drake's vision proved too much as he evaded everyone for the score. His longest rush of the game was coincidently his second touchdown as well. He took the ball 14 yards up the middle of the defense just before the end of the 3rd quarter. He did not have the same success on the ground as Gore, but he played a bigger role over the course of the whole game. Drake is the back of the future and he has 2 juicy matchups against the Bills to close out the season and prove his worth for next year.
WR DeVante Parker
, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - After working his way back to relevance in recent weeks, Parker has disappeared for the Dolphins. He caught all 3 of his targets this week but could not do anything with them. He had better chemistry with Brock Osweiler
and looks to be expendable once again now that Tannehill is back. Parker's tenure in Miami could be over in the offseason.
WR Danny Amendola
, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (1 targets) - After seeing somewhat of a resurgence with Brock Osweiler
under center, Amendola faded back in the offense with Tannehill back this week. He caught his lone target for 13 yards and then was not utilized going forward. Tannehill is an immobile pocket passer that is going to need to learn to get the ball out quick to guys like Amendola if he wants to survive in the league. The Dolphins are very thin at wide receiver right now and Amendola is going to have to find a way to stand out more if they want any shot at ending the season with a winning record. A game against Buffalo and then a date with his former team in New England should help get things going again.
WR Kenny Stills
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - The regression for Stills continues this season with another subpar performance. With the return of Tannehill, there was a chance he would see a bump in production. No one was expecting a line like the first game of the season, but rather some more respectable numbers. That did not happen again today as Stills only managed to catch 1 of his 4 targets. The 4 targets were good for 2nd on the team this week, but he failed to connect with Tannehill, much like the rest of the offense. Stills now has 2 or fewer receptions in his last 6 games and has not eclipsed 40 yards since the end of September.
WR Leonte Carroo
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 74 - 1 (2 targets) - To this point, Carroo only had 1 catch this season for 20 yards. All that changed with a single pass from Tannehill. Carroo ran a streak down the left sideline and Tannehill unloaded a 50-yard pass in the air and both Carroo and the defender had to stop and wait for the ball to get there. Carroo went up and over the defender to wrestle the ball away and was able to land on his feet. The defender fell backwards and Carroo was able to sprint the rest of the way to the end zone untouched. It was a 74-yard touchdown and the longest play of the game for either team. It will be interesting to see if there is any chemistry with Tannehill and if he sees an increase in playing time in the coming weeks.
QB Andrew Luck
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 37 - 343 - 3 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - Andrew Luck
played a great game that was marred by a pair of ugly interceptions. Luck moved the Colts down the field for an effortless opening possession touchdown drive. Luck found TY Hilton for a gain of 21 and Jordan Wilkins
for 17 yards before connecting with Ebron for a 14 yard touchdown. A fumble and a holding penalty abruptly ended the Colts' next two possessions after finding success early. An unnecessary roughness penalty and a beautiful back shoulder throw to Hilton for 24 yards put the Colts at the Dolphins' 1 yard line. Luck capped the drive with a 1 yard touchdown to Jack Doyle
. Luck was intercepted by Xavien Howard on consecutive plays to end the first half. First Luck made an ill advised throw to TY Hilton who had a defender underneath and over the top of him. Luck then underthrew Ebron who was running open down the seam for a potential 45 yard touchdown. Howard was underneath the intended receiver on each play and was able to make leaping interceptions on both occasions. Trailing by 10 Luck got the Colts offense back on track when it counted. Luck found Hilton over the middle for 36 yards before firing a perfect strike down the seam to Ebron for a 12 yard touchdown. Then with the game on the line Luck made his best play of the game to duck out of a sack and somehow find Chester Rogers
open downfield for 34 yards. The completion set up a game winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri
RB Marlon Mack
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 85 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Marlon Mack
played well throughout the game and seemed to be picking up steam when he left the game with a head injury and was placed in concussion protocol. Mack gained the edge off right tackle and escaped down the side line for 16 yards. Mack caught a check down in the flat and took it 7 yards. Mack gained the edge off left tackle and zig zagged his way through defenders for 11 yards. The following play Mack found a huge crease off right guard for a 25 yard gain up the middle. Mack was hit in the backfield and did not return to the game after being place in concussion protocol. Nyheim Hines
took over the lead back role with Mack out.
RB Nyheim Hines
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 28 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - Nyheim Hines
made an outstanding move along the sideline to make Kiko Alonso miss and pick up 19 yards. Hines played very well following Mack's departure from the game with a head injury. Expect Hines to become the lead dog in the Colts' backfield if Mack misses time.
RB Jordan Wilkins
, 8 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (3 targets) - Wilkins caught a check down from Luck and found a crease for a 17 yard catch and run. Wilkins caught another check down from Luck but fumbled as he was going to the ground resulting in a turnover. Wilkins did not see any touches following his fumble but could see a larger work load if Marlon Mack
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 125 - 0 (10 targets) - TY Hilton continues to look like an unstoppable force and could have had a much bigger game. Hilton dropped a pass, was knocked out of bounds at the 1 yard line, and had a catch negated by penalty. Hilton evaded a tackle from Xavien Howard running a comeback route and got up field for a 21 yard gain. Hilton patiently waited for his blocks to develop on a screen pass before exploding up field for 24 yards. Hilton dropped what would have been a 20 yard gain running a comeback route. Hilton made an outstanding back shoulder toe tapping catch for 24 yards. Hilton was knocked out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Hilton went low to make an 8 yard catch over the middle. Hilton picked up 8 more yards running a comeback. Hilton had a 12 yard catch negated by a defensive penalty. Hilton again got wide open crossing the middle of the field and exploded up field after securing the catch for 36 yards.
WR Dontrelle Inman
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 0 (4 targets) - Dontrelle Inman
came wide open running a shallow crossing route and got up field for 22 yards. Inman picked up 11 yards running an in breaking route. Inman made a contested 7 yard catch over the middle on 3rd and 8.
TE Eric Ebron
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 2 (7 targets) - Eric Ebron
continues to be a hyper efficient touchdown scoring machine. Ebron used his size and strength running a corner route to secure a 14 yard touchdown. The pass was slightly late from Luck but Ebron made a strong play. Ebron appeared to be interfered with running a slant over the middle but the pass fell incomplete. Ebron picked up 5 yards on a quick screen from Luck. Ebron picked up 13 yards running a slant over the middle. Ebron ran up the seam and made a nice catch on his back hip to secure a 12 yard touchdown.
TE Jack Doyle
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 16 - 1 (4 targets) - Jack Doyle
got wide open in the back of the end zone after falling down on his route for a 1 yard touchdown. Doyle gained 3 yards on a check down to the flat. Doyle picked up 5 more yards on an underneath target. Doyle did not see any targets downfield after hurting his kidney and he is out for the year.
Seattle Seahawks 30, Carolina Panthers 27
What you need to know
- As long as Chris Carson
is healthy, he has clearly carved out the lion’s share of the carries. The other backs are now sharing a 3rd down/change of pace role. The WR hierarchy is finally clear -- except that it’s also not. Doug Baldwin
is still #1, but is hurting and seeing high targets with low yardage totals. Tyler Lockett
continues to be a clutch performer, and David Moore
continues to impress – but not consistently enough to be considered more than a Flex option. Russell Wilson
put up great passing numbers again, even with the run first style his club has committed to.
- Despite the heart-breaking manner of this defeat, the Panthers offense moved the ball with relative ease, with missed red zone opportunities proving critical. Cam Newton
started the game 14 for 14 in completions and offensive coordinator Norv Turner was not afraid to run the six-foot-five quarterback on zone read looks to settle him in. As a passer, Newton continued to show excellent command of the offense and made mature decisions for the most part. Christian McCaffrey
produced his finest performance as a Panther, putting the offense on his back. McCaffrey will not be pleased, however, that he fumbled the ball three times; Carolina managed to recover all three, sparing his blushes. D.J. Moore
took over as the de facto number one receiver in Devin Funchess
' absence and looked the part, running crisp routes and making several impressive catches on rocket passes from Newton. Greg Olsen
's role is diminishing, but he was unfortunate not to reel in a touchdown catch in the red zone, a good defensive play knocking the ball out. The ailing Carolina defense is leaking points at a torrid pace; the offense will have to reproduce performances like this in the coming weeks.
QB Russell Wilson
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 31 - 339 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0 - Most of Wilson’s throws were very short range. But when he did air it out, he found success with David Moore
particularly, and with Tyler Lockett
on medium routes. He connected with his go to guy, Doug Baldwin
, on several occasions, all of which were short passes. Because the Seahawks were playing from behind for much of the game, Wilson did throw a little more than he has been used to lately. Overall a nice game for him, as he not only managed the game well but was also able to limit any mistakes.
RB Chris Carson
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 55 - 1, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - They’re going to start calling him ‘The Cat’ after his highlight reel run up the middle. Carson attempted to leap a defender in the open field, who caught just enough of him to send him end over end -- but Carson somehow landed on his feet and kept going for a yard or two before being brought down. The biggest takeaway from this game is that Carson is really doing well on second and third efforts. He’s hitting the hole hard, as usual, but the fact that he so often keeps going forward after first contact, is the heart of his game. The yardage total was nothing to write home about, partly due to playing from behind, as the passing game was a little more active than usual. But, he added a short yardage touchdown, giving Carson a pretty steady fantasy day.
RB Mike Davis
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Davis looked like his usual self, strong and quick, but did not have nearly enough opportunities to do any damage. This really seems to be a downward trend at this point. Carson is commanding more carries than he had earlier in the season; meanwhile Davis is splitting what used to be ‘his’ portion of the carries, with Rashaad Penny
RB Rashaad Penny
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 4 - 0 - Penny was barely used in this one. The bright spot is that he was tabbed for a red zone carry in the second half, which at least tells us that the coaches are not afraid to put him into high pressure situations.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 5 - 107 - 1 (5 targets) - Lockett performed well overall, and especially in the clutch. In the first half, he had a nifty catch-and-run for 27 yards. To open the second half, he capped off the Seahawks drive with a low catch that was ruled just inside the goal line. And late in the game, Lockett really made his presence known, with a huge catch down the sideline, that set up the game winning field goal. His rapport with Wilson has always been strong, so expect the heroics (if not the volume) to continue.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 39 - 0 (7 targets) - Baldwin had one prime opportunity, as he leapt for a ball just out of his grasp in the end zone. He was Russell Wilson
’s #1 target, but was not able to do more than collect short passes. The knee injury is apparently pain-free; however, he spent time this week on the sidelines due to a groin injury. It’s tempting to think that maybe a fully healthy Baldwin might have caught that touchdown – but the truth is, he looks good out there: before, during, and after the catch. What has changed is his usage. The vast majority of his catches were very short throws, in which the Panthers were able to contain him fairly quickly.
WR David Moore
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 103 - 1 (5 targets) - Moore had an outstanding day. His upside is always there, since Wilson like to target him on deep patterns. Though he’s had a few inconsistent weeks lately, In Control might be the best way to describe his play against the Panthers. He was not only able to get wide open on a long sideline pass in the third quarter, but also managed to sidestep the tackle easily and gain more yards. He had one end zone chance that was overthrown; and, later in the game, he showed excellent concentration and patience as he calmly brought in his touchdown catch with the DB right in his face. When he’s in that sort of ‘Zen’ state, as he seemed to be today, Moore looks very good indeed. His targets are not high, but he is getting prime scoring opportunities.
TE Nick Vannett
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - Vannett had two targets, and though he showed excellent hands, and vision after the catch, he’s sharing targets with Ed Dickson
, so the volume is just not enough to depend upon. He’s an absolute desperation play going forward, who may get you a score if you feel like rolling the dice.
QB Cam Newton
, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 30 - 256 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 8 - 63 - 0 - Cam Newton
produced another fine performance against Seattle, beginning the game with 14 straight completions as he displayed poise and confidence throughout. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner made a concerted effort to get Newton involved as a runner early, with zone read plays a feature. Newton bit off chunks of yardage on these plays, with the threat of Christian McCaffrey
putting the Seahawks in a bind. An early drive that saw Carolina move down into the red zone ended in disappointment, a Newton scrambled ruled just inches short of the sticks on fourth down. As a passer, Newton was on point and showed excellent chemistry and timing ñ especially with rookie D.J. Moore
and McCaffrey. The offensive line gave Newton a secure pocket to work from, and he took full advantage. His first passing touchdown came in the red zone, Curtis Samuel
getting inside leverage on the defensive back as Newton fired a quick slant into his receiverís belly. Newton tried to bite off a bit more than he could chew in the third quarter, tossing a crucial red zone interception. The play saw Newton throw a pass high to the back line of the end zone intended for tight end Chris Manhertz
, but the Seahawks had excellent coverage. The safety batted the ball down to himself to end the possession. Newton continued to battle and led the Panthers down the field again on a couple of key drives, one culminating in his second touchdown pass, this one to McCaffrey on a wheel route in the right flat.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 125 - 1, Rec: 11 - 112 - 1 (11 targets) - Christian McCaffrey
appeared to tote every ball and catch every pass in this game, putting the offense on his back as he tore through Seattle's defense. The writing was on the wall for the Seahawks in the early moments, McCaffrey catching a couple of passes in the flat and scooting up the field for easy chunks of yardage. After a time, the chunks began to add up and the Panthers had a couple of red zone opportunities. McCaffrey got the call a couple of times, but the Seahawks were able to make critical stops to deny him. Despite the setback, McCaffrey was unfazed. The offensive line began to open up holes, with McCaffrey hitting the gaps with vigor and pace. Eventually McCaffrey cashed in on the ground with a touchdown run from one yard out, a defensive pass interference penalty setting him up. The play saw the offensive line gash the Seahawks and open a massive gap for McCaffrey to breeze through. McCaffrey was not done, however, and dashed up the middle in the fourth quarter for a 60+-yard scamper that came just a few yards shy of the end zone. Not appearing tired at all after the gut-busting dash, McCaffrey took the next carry and almost punched it into the end zone. A couple of plays later, Cam Newton
found him for a touchdown in the right flat after two receivers' routes managed to pick off the Seattle defenders. McCaffrey's ball security was the only blemish in this game; he fumbled three times but Carolina managed to recover all three.
WR D.J. Moore
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 8 - 91 - 0 (9 targets) - Taking over as the de facto number one receiver in Devin Funchess
' absence, Moore looked every bit the part. The rookie ran excellent routes and made some difficult catches on laser passes from Cam Newton
, creating a positive feedback loop between the pair that lasted the entire game. Moore ran a beautiful over route for his first catch, getting the correct depth and hauling in a perfect pass. As a runner after the catch, Moore consistently terrorised the Seattle defense; on several occasions he appeared to have broken the last tackle with only end zone ahead, but the Seahawks made the plays. Moore's nous as a route runner tested every level of the Seattle defense. He was unfortunate not to break a tackle and get a first down on the critical final play before Graham Gano
's doomed field goal in the fourth quarter.
WR Curtis Samuel
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 25 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 1 (2 targets) - It took some time for Curtis Samuel
to be integrated into this game, but eventually he sprung loose with a reverse that went for a big chunk of yardage. Not long after that Samuel was in the end zone, running a crisp slant route - the defensive back fell over in the process - in the red zone and corralling a rocketed Cam Newton
pass. Samuel grew into the game from that point and could have had another touchdown had it not been for a defensive pass interference penalty. Samuel had position on the defensive back, only for the Seattle player to drape himself all over him as he tried to make the play at the back corner of the end zone.
WR Jarius Wright
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - Slot weapon Jarius Wright
was largely eclipsed by other Carolina players against Seattle, his most notable play coming on a packaged look featuring a couple of play fakes. Christian McCaffrey
drew underneath coverage, allowing Wright to slip behind the linebackers and make a catch on the left sideline. Later, Wright fumbled the ball on a routine sideline catch - and fortunately managed to recover it.
TE Greg Olsen
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (4 targets) - Greg Olsen
took a back seat in this contest to the likes of young guns Christian McCaffrey
and D.J. Moore
, contributing only a check-down option. Off a play action pass, Olsen sneaked across the formation and absorbed a huge blow to haul in his first catch. In the two-minute drill at the end of the first half he provided an outlet for Cam Newton
on the sideline, wisely stepping out of bounds. Later in the game Olsen appeared to be open for a touchdown at the back of the end zone. Newton fired the ball into the tight window - a defender had good coverage - and Olsen had it momentarily, but it was knocked out at the last moment. Downfield opportunities were non-existent as the offense adhered to a short to intermediate approach.
Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Denver Broncos 24
What you need to know
- The Steelers gave this game away, were careless with the football, and played undisciplined throughout the entire game. They had every chance to win this game easily, but they kept getting in their own way. Starting in the first quarter the Steelers were in field goal range and their kick was blocked. The Steelers second possession of the game, as the offense was matriculating the ball down the field easily, Ben Roethlisberger
delivered a perfect pass to Xavier Grimble
to allow yards after the catch. At the goal line Xavier Grimble
fumbles the ball into the endzone for a touchback. In the third quarter Roethlisberger dropped back to pass and threw a bad interception. Late in the third quarter things looked to be turning around for the Steelers as they were in scoring position and moving the ball in Broncos territory again and a simple screen pass to James Conner
was punched out at the end of his run leading to another Steelers turnover. To cap the game off, late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were in the red zone, at the Broncos three-yard line, and Ben Roethlisberger
bobbles the snap, pulls the handoff from James Conner
late, and Roethlisberger threw a pass which could have been intercepted by two defenders and wasnt near Antonio Brown
. All these miscues and I havent even mentioned the two careless fumbles by Ryan Switzer
on punt returns.
- Justin Simmons blocked a Pittsburgh field goal attempt in the 1st quarter. Safety Will Parks made a huge play when he forced an Xavier Grimble
fumble at the goal line, preventing a score and resulting in a touchback that went to Denver as the ball rolled out of bounds in the end zone. Pittsburgh duped Denver with a fake field goal at the end of the 2nd quarter, with kicker Boswell tossing a touchdown to tackle Villanueva for a touchdown. Chris Harris Jr intercepted Roethlisberger in the 3rd quarter. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris intercepted Roethlisberger in the end zone with a minute left in the 4th quarter to seal the victory for the Broncos.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 41 - 56 - 462 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 18 - 0 - This was the tale of two halves for Roethlisberger. In the first half, Roethlisberger was completing distributing the ball all over the field accurately and keeping all of his receivers involved. Roethlisberger had a play in the first half where his receivers were completely covered downfield. He moved well within the pocket and pump faked the ball three or four times which allowed JuJu Smith-Schuster
to shake loose from his coverage for a completion. Roethlisberger finished the first half of the game with 25 completed pass attempts. Things were even great starting the second half. Even with turnovers by other players, Roethlisberger was keeping his team in the game with his mobility within the pocket. Things changed quickly for Roethlisberger after his 97-yard strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster
. Roethlisberger was knocked down on the play and went back to the locker room for further evaluation. Roethlisberger came back before the next series started and proceeded to throw an interception, his second worst pass of the day. Roethlisberger overthrew his receiver, stood flatfooted, and did not put any velocity on the pass. Roethlisbergers worst pass attempt came on his last attempt of the game with the Steelers only down seven points. Roethlisberger led his team down to the two-yard line and were poised to send the game into overtime. Roethlisberger bobbled the snap, pulled the ball back on an RPO when it could have been punched in for a TD by Conner, and threw a ball in the middle of the field which was intercepted by a defensive lineman. Roethlisberger didnt see the lineman drop into coverage and the ball would have likely been intercepted by the defender covering Brown if it wasnt intercepted by the lineman. The entire last play was broken from the start.
RB James Conner
, 67 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 53 - 0, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (4 targets) - Conner was relatively unused throughout the entire first half. Five total rush attempts in the first quarter and two in the second. During periods of the second half Conner started breaking long plays both in the running and receiving game. In fact, Conner had 4 rushes for 23-yards in the third quarter. When Conner finally looked to be taking over the game, he caught a ball from Roethlisberger on a wheel route and took the ball 23-yards before having the ball punched out by a Denver Broncos defender. This lead to a Broncos touchdown and Conner did not see another touch until there was under two minutes left in the game and the ball was on the three yard line. Similar to previous Steelers losses this season, they almost completed ignored the running game. In Steelers wins/tie, the team has rushed the ball almost 30 times per game. In losses, the Steelers have rushed the ball under 15 times per game.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 13 - 189 - 1 (17 targets) - With Antonio Brown
drawing shadow coverage, Smith-Schuster drew much easier coverage both in the slot and outside. The connection with Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster was string during the game and were almost playing sandlot football at times. Smith-Schuster ran one route where he broke inside, then went outside, and then turned the route back inside to find a soft spot of the zone defense and allow Roethlisberger to find him. Smith-Schusters biggest reception came in the third quarter with the Steelers backed up to the three-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger
backpedaled and threw the ball right before taking a hit from an oncoming defender. Smith-Schuster ran an out breaking route which he turned upfield. When the route was turned upfield Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster in stride which allowed Smith-Schuster to outrun his coverage. At the end of the run it looked like the safety would catch Smith-Schuster right before the end zone when Smith-Schuster stiff-armed his man to the ground and walked into the end zone. On the last drive of the game for the Steelers, Smith-Schuster was targeted three times and caught two of them. Those two catches went for 19 and 20-yards respectively and were critical to the Steelers getting into scoring position.
WR Antonio Brown
, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 9 - 67 - 0 (13 targets) - The season of shadow coverage continued in Week 12 with Antonio Brown
being covered most of the game by Chris Harris. In the 2018 version of the match-up the Steelers were trying to find creative ways to scheme Brown open. Putting him in bunch formations to allow natural pick to occur and putting him in the slot where Harris did not often lineup. The Steelers even tried some trickeration by having Antonio Brown
throw a pass to Jaylen Samuels
. If Brown would have connected with Samuels, the pass would have been an easy touchdown. Instead, Brown sailed the pass over his receivers head. Outside of his pass play, Browns usage was close to the line of scrimmage on wide receiver screens or timing out routes.
WR Ryan Switzer
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 6 - 67 - 0 (8 targets) - Switzer was almost a large part of the problem in Week 12. Switzer, who has been a big addition to both the return game and slot wide receiver, fumbled two punt returns in Week 12. The first was innocently along the sideline and went directly out of bounds. The second went right through his hands and was nearly a turnover to give the Broncos excellent field position. Switzers role on offense is much more situational. His routes were limited to within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and yards after the catch were often held to minimum.
TE Jesse James
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (4 targets) - Unfortunately, Vance McDonald
was injured, but fortunately the Steelers have another tight end to step right in and has good chemistry with Roethlisberger. The best skill of Jesse James
, which he displayed in this game, is his ability to find the soft spot in zone coverage and provide a big target for Roethlisberger. James does not display a lot after the catch, but he is a reliable target.
TE Vance McDonald
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (5 targets) - McDonald, like so many others in this game, was so close to contributing to a Steelers victory. The Steelers were at the two-yard line and McDonald was targeted in the end zone for his easies touchdown reception of the season. No one was close, and he dropped the ball. So instead of scoring six points, the Steelers lined up for the field goal and ran a fake field goal for a touchdown. McDonald left Week 12s game with a hip injury and did not return.
QB Case Keenum
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 28 - 197 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0 - Keenum had a slow but efficient performance in week 12. He passed for less than 200 yards, but found the end zone twice and did not turn the ball over at all. Keenum and the entire Denver offense were slow in the first half. He eventually led a scoring drive at the end of the 2nd quarter, setting the Broncos up in the red zone with a 17 yard connection to tight end LaCosse down the left sideline. Keenum and LaCosse connected again on the next play, with the tight end running a short curl from the left slot then barreling into the end zone for the score. Keenum loaded up a deep ball for Sanders down the right sideline in the 2nd quarter, but just barely overthrew the diving receiver. The two connected on a deep ball down the right sideline for a 38 yard gain in the 3rd quarter, setting the Broncos up on the Steelers 5 yard line. Keenum rolled out right and found Sanders open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on the very next play. Keenum found Sanders for another big gain on the next drive, but the receiver was ruled out of bounds on the diving catch. Keenum hit Sanders again on a deep post route in the 4th quarter to set the Broncos up on the Steelers 5 yard line. He targeted Sanders again on the next play, but the receiver was pushed out at the 2 yard line. Phillip Lindsay
scored a short touchdown run on the next play.
RB Phillip Lindsay
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 110 - 1 - Lindsay was incredibly efficient with his carries, averaging over 7 yards a tote. Lindsay dominated touches in the backfield, but Denver only called his name 14 times in the run game despite his success throughout the contest. Lindsay lined up in a single back set and found a hole off right tackle in the 2nd quarter, bouncing to the sideline at the 2nd level for a 32 yard gain. He ripped another 12 yard run off left tackle in the 3rd quarter, then a 13 yard run a couple plays later. Lindsay continued to pick up chunks of yards into the 4th, rushing around left tackle for 16 yards early in the quarter. Lindsay got the goal line carry in the 4th quarter, punching in a short touchdown from the 2 yard line after Emmanuel Sanders
set the Broncos up inside the 5 yard line. Lindsay couldn't secure a short swing route on his only target of the day in the passing game.
RB Royce Freeman
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0 - Freeman took a backseat as Lindsay dominated snaps and touches. Freeman didn't do much with his 6 carries, rushing for a long of 5 yards. Freeman watched Lindsay punch in a goal line touchdown from the 2 yard line in the 4th quarter. He had an 8 yard reception in the Steelers red zone that was negated by an illegal block in the back in the 1st half.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 86 - 1 (12 targets) - Sanders dominated targets with 12, while no one else on the team drew more than 4 looks from Keenum. Sanders got his day started with an out route that converted 3rd and 10 in the 1st quarter. Keenum found him for another minimal gain on an out route later the same drive. Sanders danced up the sidelines for an 11 yard gain early in the 2nd quarter. Sanders had a step on his defender on a deep ball down the right sidelines, but couldn't quite secure the fingertip catch with a diving effort.
Keenum and Sanders connected on another deep ball later in the 3rd quarter, picking up 38 yards and setting Denver up on the Pittsburgh 5 yard line. Sanders caught a touchdown pass on the very next play, working his way open in the back of the end zone on a crossing route for the score. Sanders caught another deep ball with a diving effort later in the 3rd, but was ruled out of bounds on the play. Sanders caught a skinny post in the 4th quarter and picked up 17 yards before being tackled at the 5 yard line. Keenum targeted him on the next play, but Sanders was pushed out of bounds at the 2 yard line.
WR Courtland Sutton
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (4 targets) - Sutton ran with Sanders as the starting receivers, but saw only 4 targets on a slow day for the Denver passing game. He was only able to secure one catch, a diving effort on an out route in the 1st quarter.
WR DaeSean Hamilton
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - Hamilton did not see much work on offense, working sparingly behind Sanders and Sutton. He converted a 3rd down in the 4th quarter with a 13 yard gain on a deep curl route from the left slot.
TE Matt LaCosse
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 1 (4 targets) - LaCosse had a "career day' of sorts, finding the end zone for the first time in his career. He started his day in the 2nd quarter, catching a short out route and turning upfield for an 8 yard gain. Keenum found him for a 17 yard gain up the left sideline late in the 2nd, then hit LaCosse for a short touchdown on the next play. LaCosse worked his way open on a short curl route and plowed through a couple of defenders as he crossed the goal line. LaCosse had another nice sideline reception that was ruled just barely out of bounds early in the 3rd quarter. LaCosse's 4 targets were tied with Sutton for second most on the team to Emmanuel Sanders
' 12. Jeff Heuerman
left the game late in the 4th and is done for the season with rib and lung injuries, so LaCosse could keep trending up.
TE Jeff Heuerman
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 44 - 0 (3 targets) - Heuerman and Keenum finally connected on a long ball when Keenum found him down the seam for a 29 yard gain in the 1st quarter. He was quiet in the middle of the game, but Heuerman got open up the seam on a play-action pass later in the 4th quarter for a 13 yard gain. Heuerman left the game late in the 4th quarter with what appeared to be a back injury. He has since been diagnosed with broken ribs and a bruised lung, and will miss the rest of the season. Fellow tight end LaCosse had more targets and found the end zone before Heuerman's exit.
Arizona Cardinals 10, Los Angeles Chargers 45
What you need to know
- The Cardinals lost their grip on an early lead against the Chargers, turning into a blowout loss. Arizona’s defense was mostly to blame, rarely presenting a challenge for the Chargers, but the offense did little on their own accord as Josh Rosen
was under pressure on key plays and the passing game did not stress the defense downfield. Arizona looks like a team playing out the string with little hope of a late-season uptick.
Los Angeles Chargers
- The Chargers shredded Arizona, putting on an efficiency showcase. Philip Rivers
set an NFL record for completions to start a game and tied Ryan Tannehill
for the most consecutive completions overall. Mike Williams
was in his element with two jump ball touchdowns. Melvin Gordon
was red hot until a third quarter hit to his knee sidelined him for the rest of the game. Justin Jackson
and Austin Ekeler
both performed well behind Gordon.
QB Josh Rosen
, 47 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 19 - 105 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 - Rosen was off to a hot start against the Chargers. However, the positive trend was short-lived as the Cardinals’ offense did little beyond the opening drives and turned into a blowout loss. Rosen was pressured on many obvious passing downs, shrinking the field to within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Rosen added an interception as the game unraveled in the second quarter, throwing woefully behind the fullback. By the mid-third quarter Rosen was in full catch-up mode down 25 points, but even garbage time production was an uphill journey. With minimal downfield presence in the passing game and a struggling offensive line, Rosen is in a tough situation finishing out the season.
RB David Johnson
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 63 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Johnson saw 19 touches despite the blowout road loss to the Chargers. The Arizona offense struggled mightily outside an opening touchdown drive. Johnson showed nice balance on his two best rushes of the game, but did not pad his stats through garbage time, which was most of the second half. Johnson enjoyed great blocking on one screen reception, but was stuffed on the other. Johnson had no touchdown opportunities with Arizona’s offensive deficiencies and propensity for stalled drives.
WR Christian Kirk
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (6 targets) - Kirk had a hot start against the Chargers with two receptions in the opening minutes. Kirk corralled a contested comeback target as his highlight play. Kirk had a big play opportunity with a deep sideline target, but the pass was tipped away by tight coverage. Kirk added a long punt return. On an otherwise depressing offensive showing for Arizona, Kirk did lead the team in targets and receiving yards.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 1 (2 targets) - Fitzgerald got Arizona off to a strong start against the Chargers, capping an impressive opening drive with a touchdown. Fitzgerald pivoted away from a defender on a deep in-cut, surging to the end zone for the score. Fitzgerald did not see another target until the closing minutes of the blowout loss, being stuffed on a slot screen. With only 19 passes for Arizona in the game, Fitzgerald’s touchdown was arguably the lone highlight in the lost offensive effort.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Seals-Jones was invisible against the Chargers in the blowout loss. Seals-Jones’ lone opportunity for an impact play was an end zone target broken up in tight coverage. Seals-Jones has lost snaps to Jermaine Gresham
and Arizona’s tempered passing game shifts down weekly expectations for the Seals-Jones, who has a mere 10 receiving yards over the past two games.
QB Philip Rivers
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 29 - 259 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0 - Rivers had a record-breaking day against the Cardinals in the blowout home win. Philip Rivers
set an NFL record for completions to start a game and tied Ryan Tannehill
for the most consecutive completions overall. Rivers was surgical at times with his accuracy and pocket pressure was the lone element to slow down the Chargers offense throughout the game. Rivers’ best throws including intermediate throws to Sean Culkin
down the sideline plus multiple high-point touchdowns to Mike Williams
. Rivers even scrambled away from goal line pressure to find Keenan Allen
for a toe-dragging touchdown. Rivers’ lone incompletion did not come until the mid-third quarter an Rivers was out of the game by the early fourth with a huge lead. Rivers has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every game this season and has a pivotal road matchup with Pittsburgh next week.
RB Austin Ekeler
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 35 - 1, Rec: 10 - 68 - 0 (11 targets) - Ekeler was red-hot against the Cardinals, especially seeing a team-high 11 targets and fueling a touchdown drive in hurry-up mode to close the first half. Even before Melvin Gordon
’s mid-third quarter injury Ekeler was seeing a myriad of snaps, including as a slot receiver and motioning before the snap. Ekeler had five receptions on the late-second quarter drive alone and commonly made the first defender miss on his touches. Even with Melvin Gordon
out for most of the season half, Justin Jackson
saw most of the traditional running back carries, not Ekeler. With a blowout game script as the Chargers bled the clock and even pulled Philip Rivers
for most of the fourth quarter, there was not clarity on how the running back snaps would be distributed in a more competitive game script.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 61 - 2, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Gordon injured his knee in the third quarter, absorbing a huge hit on a reverse. Gordon did not return, but was distraught on the sideline when being evaluated. Gordon was contained in the passing game, but churned out two touchdowns, one with a strong spin move at the goal line post-contact. Gordon also had a chunk touchdown with a well-blocked lane to the perimeter. Austin Ekeler
was a highlight player even before Melvin Gordon
was injured and Justin Jackson
saw more time in Gordon’s later-game absence.
RB Justin Jackson
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 57 - 0 - Jackson saw an uptick in snaps and touches in the blowout win against the Cardinals. Melvin Gordon
sustained a knee injury in the third quarter, opening up an opportunity for Jackson in mop-up duty. Jackson showed nice burst on two perimeter runs of note, breaking an arm tackle on one of them. Jackson had average-at-best long speed, but runs hard for his diminutive size. Jackson would mix in with Austin Ekeler
if Melvin Gordon
were to miss time.
WR Keenan Allen
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 72 - 1 (7 targets) - After a two-month drought without a touchdown, Allen has now scored in three games straight. Allen had two highlight catches, one a deep out route with a toe tap down to the goal line. Later, Allen hugged the sideline on a goal line touchdown, maintaining his balance through the catch. Allen, like most of the Chargers’ starters, had his production front loaded with the offense taking their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter of the blowout win.
WR Mike Williams
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 25 - 2 (4 targets) - Williams took full advantage of his four targets, turning two into touchdowns. Williams is at his best on high-point opportunities and converted both against Arizona. Williams has struggled to separate with most of the route tree, but with the ball in the air, Williams excelled this week. Williams is up to seven touchdowns on a mere 24 receptions on the season, a disappointing volume for the second-year receiver drafted in the top-10. This week had Tyrell Williams
out, which did not aid Mike Williams
in terms of volume. Williams has not seen more than four targets in a game since Week 3.
TE Antonio Gates
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (1 targets) - After a red-hot Week 11 performance, Gates saw just a single target against Arizona. The Chargers passing game dominated this week, but Gates’ only involvement was breaking a tackle on a hitch route for a rare yards-after-catch opportunity. Secondary tight end Sean Culkin
made the highlight play of the Chargers’ tight ends against the Cardinals with a high-point catch down the sideline.
Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 16
What you need to know
- It took a little bit of time as the Bears got off to a slow start, but at the end of the day, the passing game seemingly did not miss a beat with Chase Daniel
filling in for Mitchell Trubisky
this week. The Bears game plan was simple in that they ran short routes to utilize their speed to beat the Lions underneath with Taylor Gabriel
and Tarik Cohen
. The Bears also abandoned the running game this week after struggling at the start as it was bottled up as the Lions defensive line prevented any holes from opening up.
- Detroit’s offense struggled against the Chicago Bears defense on Thanksgiving. Missing both Marvin Jones
and Kerryon Johnson
to injury, Detroit’s offense struggled to create much separation in the passing game. Kenny Golladay
was unable to create vertical opportunities consistently, while Bruce Ellington
and Theo Riddick
were used extensively in the short passing game. LeGarrette Blount
capitalized on the absence of Kerryon Johnson
, turning in his best game of the season, with two touchdowns.
QB Chase Daniel
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 37 - 230 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - The game plan was simple for the Bears this week and Chase Daniel
. Simplify the game plan, give him one to two reads and then get rid of the ball. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Daniel released the ball on an average of 2.55 seconds which would be the fastest average in the NFL this season. Daniel looked poised outside of a missed overthrow to Anthony Miller
as he was willing to take the easiest routes which were short speed routes to Taylor Gabriel
and Tarik Cohen
and did throw a perfect deep pass to Allen Robinson
for a 29-yard gain on his longest throw of the day.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0, Rec: 7 - 45 - 1 (8 targets) - The Bears all but abandoned the running game in this game and primarily used Tarik Cohen
as a receiver out of both the backfield and the slot. All but one of Cohen's catches were within three yards of the line of scrimmage as the team tried to get him the ball quickly and have him run after the catch. Cohen made the most of his one reception longer than three yards downfield as he was able to use his speed on a wheel route to run past the defender for an easy touchdown.
RB Jordan Howard
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 13 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (2 targets) - Jordan Howard
continues to struggle for the Bears and it is seemingly getting worse. Howard struggled to get anything going in this game and as a result, the Bears abandoned going back to the running back on the ground as he saw just seven carries in this game with his long being for four yards. While Howard continues to look exceptionally slow this season the struggles are not entirely his fault. The loss of Kyle Long continues to have a massive impact on the interior of this offensive line.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 49 - 0 (8 targets) - Taylor Gabriel
continues to play a possession receiver role with Allen Robinson
's return and Anthony Miller
's continued development. This week was no different as the Bears used Gabriel using him primarily on quick out routes to get the ball out of Chase Daniel
's hands quickly. The Bears also tried to get him in space on two plays throwing to Gabriel behind the backfield and while he was unable to do much it is still a great sign that the Bears are making a concerted effort to get Gabriel the ball even with a healthy receiving group back.
WR Anthony Miller
, 33 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 8 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (4 targets) - Miller was largely a non-factor in this game but did catch a 26-yard reception in which he simply outran Nevin Lawson on a deep in route over the middle. Miller is playing more of a deep threat role in this offense along with Allen Robinson
as Taylor Gabriel
and Tarik Cohen
play more of the underneath roles.
WR Allen Robinson
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (4 targets) - Allen Robinson
was in for a bit of a challenge in this game as he was frequently covered by Darius Slay and is asked to run deeper routes than Chase Daniel
was comfortable throwing. Robinson did make an incredible play on a fly route in which he ran past Darius Slay and Chase Daniel
threw a tremendous pass that only Robinson could catch the ball. Robinson also made a tremendous catch on a hitch route in which the ball was dangerously thrown inside and Robinson broke up what could have been an interception by making a diving play to cutoff Darius Slay who was closing quickly.
TE Trey Burton
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 28 - 0 (7 targets) - Burton did see an uptick in targets this week as the Bears tried to use him in the underneath role giving Chase Daniel
another option to check the ball down to. Burton has yet to show the speed that we saw against the Patriots more than a month ago.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 38 - 236 - 0 TD / 2 INT - Matthew Stafford
struggled to stretch the field against Chicago while missing Marvin Jones
and still adjusting to losing Golden Tate
to a trade. On the positive side, Stafford benefitted from improved offensive line play that protected him from Chicago’s strong pass rush and was only sacked twice. On the bad side, Stafford threw two interceptions that were both intended for Michael Roberts
. The first was clearly on Stafford as he threw the ball inside Roberts on a short flat route that was an easy pick-6. The second was less clear as Roberts looked to run an out in the end zone while Stafford threw the pass as if he anticipated a corner route. Stafford also threw a pass behind Riddick on a wheel route that should have been a touchdown. Stafford’s throw took Riddick out of stride and he was tackled short of the goal line setting up a LeGarrette Blount
rushing touchdown. Stafford will look to rebound against the Rams next week.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 88 - 2, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - LeGarrette Blount
started in the absence of Kerryon Johnson
on Thanksgiving against the Bears. Blount was involved early in the game and managed multiple big plays throughout the game after spending recent weeks struggling to develop positive runs. Blount had success behind the left side of the offensive line breaking off carries of 9 and 27 yards and had a wide-open reception for 15 yards. Blount tried to cut back to the middle of the field on the reception instead of heading toward the sideline where there were no defenders. Blount scored twice at the goal line on after struggling to punch his opportunities in for scores in recent weeks. Blount will face the Los Angeles Rams next week, but Johnson’s health is a key to monitor leading up to the game.
RB Theo Riddick
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0, Rec: 7 - 48 - 0 (7 targets) - Theo Riddick
tied with Bruce Ellington
for the second most targets behind Kenny Golladay
. Riddick has benefitted from the absence of both Kerry Johnson and Marvin Jones
with heavy use in the short passing game. Riddick was targeted on multiple screens and angle routes but had the opportunity for a long touchdown on a wheel route. Riddick caught the ball on the play, but the throw was behind him and forced him to break stride. Riddick was forced out of bounds in the red zone and it set up a LeGarrette Blount
touchdown. Riddick should benefit from negative game script against the Rams next weekend, but Johnson’s injury status is important to monitor.
WR Bruce Ellington
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 6 - 28 - 0 (7 targets) - Bruce Ellington
was featured in the short passing game against Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. He benefitted from increased volume with Marvin Jones
and Kerryon Johnson
both missing the game with injury. Ellington ran most of his routes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, including crossing routes, slants and screens. Ellington appeared to be open on a deep over route late in the fourth quarter for what would have been a touchdown, but Stafford threw the ball underneath to Kenny Golladay
. Ellington’s yardage output is limited by his short depth of target, but he would likely continue to see target volume if Jones or Johnson continue to miss time.
WR Kenny Golladay
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 90 - 0 (8 targets) - Kenny Golladay
had another game to showcase as a WR1 for Detroit and underwhelmed. With Marvin Jones
missing the game with an injury, Golladay had an early third down conversion and a drop before going missing throughout the remainder of the first half. He later was schemed up for two crossing routes, including a 43-yard reception, but struggled to separate when he was not schemed into coverage from a linebacker. Golladay also had two drops, including a post that should have been a touchdown. Golladay makes flashy plays and has a good highlight reel but is still developing the necessary skills to be a consistent professional receiver. He should have a good opportunity against the Rams next Sunday.
WR T.J. Jones
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - T.J. Jones
figured to have a larger role with Marvin Jones
injured, but was only targeted once for a 15-yard inbreaking route. He will face the Rams in week 13 but will be of little value if Marvin Jones
returns to the lineup.
TE Michael Roberts
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - Michael Roberts
saw more usage in the offense against Chicago but did not have a productive game. Roberts was targeted on both of Matthew Stafford
’s interceptions. The first interception was a pick-6 where Stafford threw the ball inside of Roberts on an out to the flat, while the second appeared to be a miscommunication on routes in the end zone. Roberts was also targeted up the seam in the end zone, but a Chicago defender made a good deflection on the pass. Roberts has been more involved in the offense throughout this season but struggles to accelerate and move in space.
Oakland Raiders 17, Baltimore Ravens 34
What you need to know
- -The lack of talent at wide receiver is a real problem. Raiders pass catchers struggled to separate.
dominated carries and ran with some authority.
received a huge share of the targets but his timing with Carr on the deep ball was off.
- It was a tale of two halves for the Ravens offense. The Ravens went with a pass heavy approach in the first half and as a result Lamar Jackson
had two passes intercepted. Both interceptions came off tipped passes but they were still ill advised attempts. The Ravens employed a run heavy attack in the second half and wore down the Raiders' defense. Gus Edwards
was the primary workhorse and showed why he was earned the trust of John Harbaugh. Michael Crabtree
and John Brown
saw more involvement than the previous week and each contributed big plays. Mark Andrews
had a 74 yard catch and run and will continue to see opportunities downfield. Ty Montgomery
has taken over the number 2 running back spot as the change of pace and third down back.
QB Derek Carr
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 34 - 194 - 1 TD / 0 INT - It was another mediocre fantasy day for Carr. He isn’t being put into position to succeed. The wide receivers did an extremely poor job of separating from the Baltimore cornerbacks and a couple long completions were called back due to offensive pass interference. The pass protection was again mediocre, especially once the Raiders fell behind. Carr was sacked three times and was forced to throw it away quite a few times as well. While the deck was stacked against him, Carr also has to shoulder some blame for the poor offensive performance. He had Marcell Ateman
open deep down the field a couple of times and overthrew him. Some of that could be chalked up to a lack of chemistry and Carr overestimating Ateman’s speed but Carr should know that he shouldn’t lead a 4.6 guy the same way he would Amari Cooper
. Even Carr’s lone touchdown pass was unimpressive. Jared Cook
was wide open on a busted coverage and Carr floated the ball behind him and too far outside, forcing Cook to twist around and make a difficult catch while falling down. The game was put away when Carr had his arm hit from behind, causing a fumble which was returned for a touchdown.
RB Doug Martin
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 51 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - Facing 2nd-and-goal from the 7-yard line on the opening drive, Martin made a nifty cut to elude a defender in the hole and kept his balance to drive to just shy of the end zone. The next play, he leaped over the pile and extended the ball with one hand for the 1-yard touchdown. It was popped out of his hand and initially ruled a fumble but on review was ruled a touchdown because he clearly crossed the line before it was knocked out. Martin had a nine-yard catch on a ball he bobbled twice before eventually securing. He has been fine as a receiver but clearly isn’t as comfortable or dangerous catching the ball as the two younger backs. Martin’s best run of the day was a 12-yard gain on a pitch sweep. He was able to get a head of steam and lowered his head to finish the run with power.
RB DeAndre Washington
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Washington caught a short pass and used a nasty spin move to elude the first tackler and pick up nine yards on the opening drive. He didn’t see another target all game. With the state of the wide receiver corps, it would seem that getting the ball into Washington’s hands in space should be a higher priority.
RB Jalen Richard
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - With Doug Martin
healthy, it was clear that last week’s bump in carries was just an outlier. Richard didn’t have a chance on two screens thrown in his general direction.
WR Marcell Ateman
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (10 targets) - From a fantasy perspective, there was good news and bad news for Ateman. The positive was that he had a whopping 63% of the wide receiver targets and 29% target share overall, clearly operating as the WR1. The bad was that he managed just 1.8 yards per target, completely failing to take advantage of the massive opportunity he was presented with. The Raiders tried to get Ateman going on the opening drive with an easy completion on a short out route from the slot, but he dropped the perfect pass. While some of the struggles were on Ateman, the lack of success wasn’t all his fault. He was credited with a target on a pass in his direction that Terrell Suggs leaped and almost intercepted at the line of scrimmage. A target on a deep post was thrown way too far in front of him. Ateman had some separation deep down he field on a play where Carr scrambled to buy time and might have been able to score a 59-yard touchdown but Carr overthrew him. Ateman’s best play of the day came on a 3rd-and-10 where he caught the ball short of the marker but used his size to push the smaller corner back and pick up 11 yards. Carr went right back to him on the next 3rd and long and Ateman nearly made an impressive contested grab but dropped the ball as he went to the ground.
WR Seth Roberts
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 2 - 54 - 0 (3 targets) - Roberts had catches of 10 and 11 yards in the first minute of the game (one catch was later switched to a run because it was thrown slightly backwards), but saw just a few targets the final 59 minutes. He pulled in a long pass on a go route down the sideline, but was flagged for offensive pass interference due to pushing off late in the route. Roberts hauled in a 44-yard pass deep down the right sideline. He got behind the corner and held on despite taking a shot from the safety.
WR Jordy Nelson
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets) - Nelson looked slow on an end around that lost yardage. He also gained no separation at all on a deep ball that wasn’t close to being completed .
TE Lee Smith
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 39 - 0 (2 targets) - Typically a blocking specialist and coming into the game with just seven catches on the season, Smith took on a slightly bigger pass-game role due to all the injuries. Both of his catches came on the opening drive, with a big 30-yard gain coming on a key 4th-down play. Off of play action, he was wide open and turned up field with a head of steam, getting chopped down inside the 10-yard line.
TE Jared Cook
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 32 - 1 (5 targets) - Cook had a bad drop along the sideline but Carr went right back to him on a very similar route the very next play and Cook was able to haul it in and explode up the field for a 16-yard gain. Cook made an impressive 25-yard diving catch down the sideline but he was flagged for pushing off. Cook made a spectacular grab for a 16-yard touchdown. He was open on a wheel route down the sideline but Carr threw a bad ball low and outside. Cook had to fall on his back and reach out with one hand to pull It in.
QB Lamar Jackson
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 25 - 178 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 11 - 71 - 1 - The Ravens went with a pass heavy attack in the first half seemingly trying to compensate for the high number carries Jackson had the previous week against the Bengals. Jackson had only two first half carries and looked hesitant to scramble for yardage even when opportunities were there. Jackson absorbed a sack on the Ravens' opening series because he was looking downfield instead of trying to outrace the defender to the sideline. Jackson found success following the sack with completions to Crabtree and John Brown
to set up a Justin Tucker
field goal. Jackson then hit Mark Andrews
in stride who got wide open behind the Raiders' secondary for a 74 yard gain. Jackson did well not to under or over throw the wide open receiver. The drive stalled in the red zone forcing another field goal attempt. On 3rd and 10 Jackson failed to see a defender underneath John Brown
resulting in a tipped pass and interception. Jackson moved the Ravens into the red zone running the two minute offense before halftime. Jackson took a shot to Crabtree down the sideline who was well covered by Gareon Conley on the play. Conley made a spectacular play to bat the pass to his teammate for Jackson's second interception. The Ravens opened the second half focusing on the run game. Their opening drive touchdown consisted almost entirely of run plays including 3 by Lamar Jackson
surpassing his first half total. Jackson capped the drive with a 5 yard dash to the end zone. Another drive fueled almost entirely by the run game moved the Ravens into scoring position again. Jackson capped the drive with an 8 yard touchdown to Crabtree who was running a slant. Jackson's best throw of the game was a 48 yard completion to John Brown
on 3rd and 7 that was negated by penalty. Jackson hit Brown perfectly in stride with pressure in his face. Jackson gained the edge on a read option play and exploded down the sideline for a 39 yard run to help run out the clock.
RB Gus Edwards
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 118 - 0 - Gus Edwards
handled a full workload with Alex Collins
sidelined with a foot injury. Edwards was very decisive and consistent on his carries. Edwards was rarely met at or behind the line of scrimmage and consistently gained 4 yards on his first down carries to keep the offense on track. Edwards followed a nice block at the second level from Matt Skura and slipped through two tackles on his way to a 19 yard gain. Edwards had 7 carries for 33 yards on the Ravens' opening possession of the second half. The Ravens noticed their game plan wasn't working and shifted their focus to Edwards and the run game. The Ravens gave Edwards a rest late in the game and allowed Ty Montgomery
to close out the game in the 4 minute offense.
RB Ty Montgomery
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 51 - 0, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - Ty Montgomery
had supplanted Buck Allen as the Raven number 2 back. Montgomery made his first catch in the flat for a gain of 6. Montgomery took a read option hand off around the edge for a 15 yard gain. Montgomery picked up 6 more yards on a check down from Jackson. Montgomery spun for an impressive 6 yard gain on 3rd and 5 showing the ability to run through tackles. Montgomery got 4 carries with the Ravens' running their 4 minute offense and totaled 24 yards to help seal the game.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 21 - 1 (6 targets) - Michael Crabtree
made some plays against his former team but left a few opportunities on the field. Crabtree made a 10 yard catch running a comeback route on 3rd and 8. Crabtree had a sideline throw 15 yards downfield hit him in the hands but he appeared to be blinded by the sun and could not secure the pass. Crabtree was targeted downfield but was well covered by Gareon Conley on the play and the pass resulted in an interception. Crabtree beat his man to the inside running a slant and made an easy catch for an 8 yard touchdown.
WR John Brown
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 25 - 0 (7 targets) - John Brown
could have had a much bigger game. Brown came wide open running a deep crossing route and made a nice move after the catch for a 25 yard gain. Lamar Jackson
and Brown were just off on 3 pass attempts. Jackson missed Brown twice on passes that would have gone for modest gains and was also a little off target on a throw to the goal line. Brown had a 48 yard catch negated by an offensive holding penalty.
TE Hayden Hurst
, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (4 targets) - Hayden Hurst
saw his most involvement in the Ravens offense and made some play. Hurst made an 11 yard catch running a curl over the middle. Hurst did well to secure the pass between two defenders. Hurst caught a shovel pass from Jackson for 9 yards. Hurst made a nice catch off of play action for 5 yards on 3rd and 5.
TE Mark Andrews
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 74 - 0 (1 targets) - Mark Andrews
released downfield and got wide open with a nice swim move on his defender. Andrews made an easy catch and raced down the sideline for a 74 yard gain the longest play from scrimmage for the Ravens this season. Andrews showed his impressive speed on the play. Expect Andrews' involvement on offense to continue to grow.
New England Patriots 27, New York Jets 13
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- -The Patriots have potential shootouts in 2 of the next 3 weeks as they play the Vikings and Steelers. Those will be interesting tests against tough teams.
was activated off I.R., but this is still likely Sony Michel
's backfield with a few touches here and there going to Burkhead.
-The o-line continues to be up and down, as does the defense.
New York Jets
- The Jets playcalling continues to be baffling, as they threw the ball 45 times with backup Josh McCown
, and only ran it a dozen times even though they were tied in the third and down just a touchdown heading into the fourth. The Jets seem intent on making things as hard as possible for themselves, which makes any fantasy impact unpredictable and negligible.
QB Tom Brady
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 31 - 283 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Continuing the up and down season for the Pats offense, and in particular the o-line, Tom Brady
held up reasonably well on most snaps and had time to execute his offense. There weren't many close calls, though Brady's deep ball is still noticeably weaker than it was last year. That said, there were still several chunk plays against the Jets, including Rob Gronkowski
's sweet deep touchdown catch. Brady threw the ball to Gronk about 35 or 40 yards in the air, and Gronk grabbed the ball while being pasted by a defender. It was great to see Gronk make the catch given his recent injuries and lack of touchdowns. However, Brady did try to force a few passes to Gronk, particularly in the end zone, and the ball should have gone elsewhere. Brady's second touchdown was a catch and run by Julian Edelman
, who had about 15 yards YAC, including smashing into a couple defenders near the goal line. Brady was also aided by a strong run game performance. Outside of a few questionable drives, the bye week clearly helped.
RB Sony Michel
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 133 - 1, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Though he came out of the game briefly with an injury, Sony Michel
ran wild over the Jets defense, ripping off several big gains, including a tackle-shedding 30+ yard run as the highlight of the day. The run blocking was well above average, so major credit goes to the o-line as well. Michel's touchdown came from 1 yard out after getting barely stuffed on the prior play. It is notable that on some of his longer runs, Michel tried to barrel over defenders as opposed to use more elusive moves, especially in 1 on 1 situations. Still, tough to complain about his day.
RB James White
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 73 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (5 targets) - As Sony Michel
did, James White
did too, with a hefty yards per carry pace on his 9 carries. His big run was through a big hole outside right tackle. He wasn't needed much in the passing game, however, as Brady truly spread the wealth on only 20 completions.
WR Josh Gordon
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 70 - 0 (5 targets) - Though he didn't reach the end zone, Gordon did have a few scripted passes thrown his way. It was also notable that Tom Brady
looked his way twice eventually on plays where the Jets covered all receivers well, indicating rapport with his QB continues to improve.
WR Julian Edelman
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 84 - 1 (5 targets) - Though he only caught 4 passes, Edelman certainly made them count, as they included a touchdown and a couple chunk gains. His touchdown was a catch and run where he simply barreled over defenders near the end zone, while his long catch saw him wide open in a soft zone spot. He was upended in a scary tackle on the play, but got up no worse for wear. Edelman will continue to be a high value receiver moving forward.
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 56 - 1 (7 targets) - The big news of the day was another Gronk spike after a multi-week back injury. On the play, Gronk split two defenders up the seam, and caught the ball while getting hit by a defender. Tom Brady
also looked Gronk's way on several other end zone targets, though those were much more questionable decisions, including one where Gronk had to play "defense" and bat at a ball heading towards a defender. Still, the hope is he came out of the week healthy.
QB Josh McCown
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 45 - 276 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 25 - 0 - McCown is a game manager, which is a role he generally executes well. Despite his one interception, an ugly and unnecessary throw to the goal line, which was short — McCown made several nice throws to his receivers, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse
on a slant. When he has a wide open receiver and some time, he can hit the receiver, but under pressure he struggles. The touchdown was a nice example of the former, while the pick was a perfect example of the latter. It didn’t help that the Jets forced McCown to throw 45 times, despite never trailing by more than a touchdown through the first three quarters, which isn’t a recipe for success with all but a few quarterbacks, certainly not McCown and absolutely not with the receivers he has to work with, who dropped more than one pass.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 30 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (4 targets) - Crowell saw the field less than Elijah McGuire
, but caught the ball more for more yards. The Jets, while not trailing by an enormous amount until the fourth quarter, rarely ran the ball even though Crowell was averaging 5 yards a carry.
RB Elijah McGuire
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 19 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets) - While McGuire looked like the better back on the roster before the bye, he didn’t do much with minimal carries after it. The Jets chose to throw the ball 45 times, which left little time for running plays, and on Sunday Isaiah Crowell
was more effective as well as more effective receiving. On the other hand, McGuire was on the field for nine more offensive snaps than Crowell. McGuire has upside, but the Jets gameplan didn’t give either back much space to succeed.
RB Trenton Cannon
, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - -3 - 0 (1 targets) - With Elijah McGuire
back and Isaiah Crowell
healthy, Cannon is relegated to occasional mop-up duty or special teams action. On Sunday he saw no carries and only one target which he caught behind the line of scrimmage where he was tackled for a loss.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 66 - 1 (12 targets) - Kearse saw a season high twelve targets, catching six, the second most he’s snagged all season. His yardage total was the second highest of the year as well. He was also the target on quarterback josh McCown’s only touchdown pass, as he was hit on an inside slant with a lot of wide-open green in front of him on the way to the end zone. He had some issues hauling in the ball on occasion though, and at least one drop, contributing to his 50 percent catch rate.
WR Quincy Enunwa
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 73 - 0 (4 targets) - Enunwa did a lot of his damage from the slot, catching all four of his targets and leading the team in yards. However, the minimal targets are surprising considering how shallow the receiving depth is, how often he was on the field (60 of 64 offensive snaps) and how often the Jets chose to throw.
WR Robby Anderson
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (5 targets) - Anderson was on the field for more offensive snaps than anyone besides Quincy Enunwa
, Chris Herndon
and josh McCown, but like Enunwa, he saw only one-third the amount of targets Jermaine Kearse
received. The Jets didn’t make use of his trademark speed and vertical game, and did not try to stretch the field with McCown under center.
TE Chris Herndon
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 57 - 0 (8 targets) - Herndon saw an uptick in targets (8 compared to 4, 4 and 2 the previous three weeks before the bye) and caught all but one of them. The big tight end is proving to be the lone bright spot on the offense this season, and mixes in some good blocking with his pass-catching ability, which gets him on the field more than any other tight end and most other offensive players not on the offensive line.
TE Jordan Leggett
, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (4 targets) - Leggett did a nice job hauling in a pair of long catches, but isn’t on the field much, showing up on just 17 of the Jets’ 64 offensive snaps. As Chris Herndon
has proven himself as a blocker, the other tight ends are seeing less field time.
Washington Redskins 23, Dallas Cowboys 31
What you need to know
- Colt has to take care of the ball if Washington is going to have a chance to win. He offers some of the same tools to run the offense as Alex but Alex did a better job with ball security. The defense has played well enough to give Washington a chance and the offense has to provide more production. The run game has cooled off the last few weeks and that has been problematic as well. If they can fight through the offensive injuries and find the running game again this team can be dangerous moving forward.
- The Cowboys offense blended rushing and passing prowess to perfection in the divisional win over Washington on Thanksgiving. Ezekiel Elliott
surged past 30 touches and 140 total yards while Amari Cooper
had his best game as a Cowboy with high-level route-running and after-the-catch acumen. The absence of Geoff Swaim
and no impact from Cole Beasley
was hardly noticeable with Elliott and Cooper carrying the offense. As Dallas battles for the divisional title, critical games against New Orleans and Philadelphia loom the next two weeks.
QB Colt McCoy
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 38 - 268 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 28 - 0 - Colt McCoy
got off to a shaky start against Dallas and never really got in a rhythm. Colt battled all game as he made plays with his feet and arm. He threw two touchdowns on the day as he found Vernon on what seemed to be a post route for fifty-three yards. Then in the third quarter he found Trey Quinn
for seven yard score. Three interceptions were the biggest factor in titling this loss as ball security was a major issue. Colt had a horrendous interception in the first quarter on a bad read. That turnover killed a nine play drive. Following the first interception, Colt attempted a screen pass that was picked off by a Dallas defensive lineman. It was telegraphed badly and DeMarcus Lawrence made an easy read to convert the turnover. He added five carries for twenty-eight yards on the day which helped extend plays. Colt didn't make as many'ìoff schedule' plays as his mobility would suggest. His aggression has to be more calculated to keep the turnovers at a minimum.
RB Adrian Peterson
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 35 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Adrian Peterson
came into this game with a shoulder injury and never really got going. He was also dinged up in this game but eventually came back to play. Adrian totaled twelve carries and sat for majority of the fourth quarter as Washington was in comeback mode. Injuries and inconsistency along the offensive line led to him averaging a meager three yards per carry. Washington's ‘run first’ offense has cooled off tremendously and it directly effects Adrian's production as well.
RB Kapri Bibbs
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 17 - 1, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (3 targets) - Kapri Bibbs
recorded three carries against Dallas and made them count with a touchdown. He also tallied three receptions but featured much on passing downs. He played a large part of the fourth quarter as the replacement passing down back. Kapri's roll will be reduced once Chris Thompson
is back from injury.
WR Josh Doctson
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 66 - 0 (10 targets) - Josh Doctson
tied his highest reception total of the season with six. He also had a team high ten targets. However, it didn't add up to much production as he only added sixty-six yards for the game. Colt missed Josh on two chunk plays that could have inflated his yardage and overall production. Colt missed Josh on an endzone attempt as well. Josh's inability to gain separation in coverage is still an issue and results in target inefficiency. Considering he is a big target it was encouraging to see him more involved the last couple of weeks.
WR Trey Quinn
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 26 - 1 (6 targets) - Trey Quinn
managed to score a seven yard touchdown but otherwise had a quiet game. He tallied five receptions for twenty-six yards on six targets. His redzone touchdown displayed his knack for getting open in tight spaces but he is too low on the passing totem pole to provide consistent production.
WR Maurice Harris
, 36 offensive snaps (5 targets) - Maurice Harris
did not record a catch while receiving five targets. He has been very involved the last couple of games but due to the tight end production versus Dallas he was held in check.
TE Jordan Reed
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 75 - 0 (8 targets) - Jordan Reed
continued his uptick in production as he led Washington in reception yards. He also tied for the team lead in receptions. It seems Colt's mobility has put him in sync with the passing game. Jordan had eight targets on the day and the depth per target was noticeably further down field. He made multiple chunk plays that were lacking earlier in the year. Jordan didn't score a touchdown in this game but his yards after catch has come back to life. If these last two games are a sign that Jordan has regained some of his health that will be a huge plus moving forward.
TE Vernon Davis
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 73 - 1 (4 targets) - Vernon Davis
recorded two catches on the day but the highlight was his fifty-three yard touchdown. Vernon can still stretch the field and he split two defenders across the field to catch his reception in stride. He won't give consistent production but he is still very capable of splash plays throughout the game. As the backup tight end his isn't featured but it might be beneficial for Washington to utilize him more with the lack of receiving weapons.
QB Dak Prescott
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 31 - 289 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 18 - 1 - Prescott played a clean game, his third straight effort without a turnover, and benefitted from quick throws and quality pass protection. Sacks stalled two drives, but Prescott also kept drives alive with his mobility and play making. Prescott’s highlight plays including a completion to Michael Gallup
on third down while being dragged down by a defender and later eluding two rushers, scrambling for a goal line touchdown to nearly ice the game in the fourth quarter. Prescott faces a mammoth task next week with a duel against Drew Brees
and the red hot Saints in Dallas as the Cowboys push for a divisional title.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 121 - 1, Rec: 5 - 22 - 0 (6 targets) - Elliott’s hot streak continued in the home win over Washington. For the third straight game Elliott had 140 or more total yards and at least 25 touches as the Cowboys’ offensive centerpiece. Elliott had tough sledding for much of the middle two quarters of the game after a hot start and was stuffed on fourth-and-one in the mid-fourth quarter with a chance to ice the game. Elliott’s best runs were finding cutback lanes and exhibiting a strong combination of power and agility to gain leverage on defenders in one-on-one situations. The Saints are a stingy running back matchup in Week 13 for Elliott.
WR Amari Cooper
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 180 - 2 (9 targets) - Cooper lived up to his investment by Dallas as a trade acquisition with a monster game against division rival Washington. Cooper showed his after-the-catch ability on two long touchdowns, both times making defensive backs look slow in transition at the top of his routes. Cooper was impactful on his other receptions as well with three third down conversions early in the game. Cooper rendered the rest of the Dallas pass-catchers irrelevant this week as the next highest yardage total was Blake Jarwin
with 25 yards. Cooper has another exploitable matchup in a showdown with New Orleans next week.
WR Michael Gallup
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (6 targets) - While Gallup saw a hearty six targets against Washington, he was invisible for the second straight week in terms of impact. Gallup converted a third down and snatched a low pass from the turf on his other reception. The acquisition and emergence of Amari Cooper
has left Gallup with a low floor each week and relying on scraps even as Dallas was without starting tight end Geoff Swaim
WR Cole Beasley
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - After Beasley’s promising seven targets a week ago, he sagged down to irrelevant status against Washington with a mere two looks from Dak Prescott
. Beasley logged a short hitch route in the first quarter and Prescott underthrew an open Beasley later in the game. Beasley also drew a third down holding penalty on a defensive back beyond the box score. After averaging 50 yards-per-game before Amari Cooper
’s addition, Beasley’s production has been nearly cut in half (27 yards-per-game) in the four games since.
Jacksonville Jaguars 21, Buffalo Bills 24
What you need to know
- The bottom finally fell out. Blake Bortles
was finally benched Monday morning, coupled with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's firing. Cody Kessler
will start the remainder of the season. Leonard Fournette
is clearly the best player on the offense right now. He will be serving a one-game suspension after rushing the field and punching someone who had his helmet on.
- Buffalo beat Jacksonville on Sunday, fueled by big plays by Josh Allen
. Allen struck on an elite deep throw to Robert Foster
over the top of Jacksonville’s defense for a long touchdown and later added a rushing touchdown in the red zone. Allen made big plays but also struggled to make simple ones. The high variance nature of Josh Allen
’s game was a threat to chain movers like LeSean McCoy
and Zay Jones
in the passing game.
QB Blake Bortles
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 23 - 127 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 39 - 0 - Before being benched Monday morning, it could be argued that Bortles has regressed every week and is playing the worst football of his career. His pocket presence is worse than at any point of his career. His accuracy is getting worse. He looks like he wants to crawl into a hole every time he has the football in his hands. He did not complete a pass in this game until 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter. His first completion to a WR appeared to be a 30 yard touchdown to Donte Moncrief
at first, but the officials overturned the call and placed the ball at the 1 yard line. The ball doesn't lie. After starting with 1st and goal at the 1 yard line, two penalties and a Bortles sack somehow ended up with the team attempting a field goal from their own 24 yard line. It missed and Buffalo scored on the ensuing drive.
RB Leonard Fournette
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 95 - 2, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - The lone bright spot for the Jaguars had over 100 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns before getting himself ejected from the game in the second half. He is a legitimately good inside runner, underrated as a receiver, and arguably the best goal line back in the NFL right now. He is automatic from inside the 5 yard line. The team rode him even after going down 14-0 in the first quarter, eventually tying the game 14-14 before halftime. In the second half, Buffalo stacked the box and called incessant run blitzes. Jacksonville couldn't hit any completions to force Buffalo to call the dogs off in the defensive front. A brawl between the two teams ended with Fournette coming off the sideline and punching Shaq Lawson. He will be suspended for one week. This momentary lapse of judgement honestly saved the franchise. If it had not happened, Fournette would have scored on the next play, the Jaguars probably would have won, and the team would be continuing on with the status quo.
RB Carlos Hyde
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 33 - 0 - Hyde mainly got spell duty until the 4th quarter after Fournette was ejected. He will probably get a significant of work next week with Fournette serving a suspension and Cody Kessler
making his first start for the Jaguars. He has actually been really good for the Jaguars as a spell RB, even though the acquisition of him came from questionable motives (the GM freaking out with Fournette out and wanting to give Bortles every possible chance to fail).
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Yeldon remains essentially a two-minute back only at this point. He did have some nice catches at the end of the second quarter, but the drive ended with a Bortles interception. He's going to depart in free agency after this season, and is going to make a great pickup for another team.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 43 - 0, Rec: 3 - 44 - 1 (4 targets) - Westbrook is the only wide receiver who did anything of note. He had the longest play of the game for the Jaguars - 43 yards on an end-around carry. He did also catch a short TD during the Jaguars 1st and goal from the 1 yard line drive, but a holding penalty nullified it and backed the Jaguars up, eventually leading to their missed field goal.
WR Donte Moncrief
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - Moncrief had a 30 yard catch - a 50/50 ball that was initially ruled a touchdown. The officials overturned the call however.
WR Keelan Cole
, 49 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Cole finished the game without a reception. He was credited with a drop after popping the ball up in the air on Bortles' first interception. However, the pass was so far high and behind him that blame cannot be put on Cole at all.
QB Josh Allen
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 8 - 19 - 160 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 13 - 99 - 1 - Josh Allen
returned after missing several games with an elbow injury and led the Bills to a home win against Jacksonville. Allen ran early in the game and Brian Daboll’s scheme aimed to make things easy on Allen. Allen’s play showed why there was a large disparity between his evaluations in the pre-draft process. His best throw came from the pocket on an all-world throw to Robert Foster
for a long touchdown. Allen stood tall while the pocket collapsed from pressure and delivered a perfectly thrown ball to Foster up the seam. Allen was also elusive with his feet and able to avoid pressure. He scrambled multiple times, including a 45-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter that helped Buffalo maintain possession of the ball, and ran for a touchdown on a quarterback draw. Allen was not helped by his teammates at key points, with multiple drops, and two consecutive penalties that negated third down conversions on great throws. On the other hand, Allen had some bad passes, wildly missing receivers including bouncing balls on screen plays. Allen continues to be a high variance player with flashes of both promise and warnings about the future. He will play at Miami next week.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - LeSean McCoy
had a quiet fantasy day with only 53 yards of total offense on 18 touches. Buffalo’s offense was largely fueled by Josh Allen
’s arm and legs, while McCoy was never able to get a rhythm against a tough Jacksonville defense. McCoy got two red zone opportunities late in the game and nearly shook free for a touchdown but was dragged down prior to scoring. While Allen got more opportunities in the red zone, it is notable McCoy did not lose the playing time to Chris Ivory
RB Chris Ivory
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0 - Chris Ivory
returned form injury but had minimal usage, carrying only three times while operating as the lead back on one drive. Ivory is nothing more than a handcuff to McCoy at this point in the season.
WR Robert Foster
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 94 - 1 (3 targets) - Robert Foster
continued his recent stretch of strong play, catching a deep touchdown when he got over the top of Jacksonville’s secondary. He also caught a deep crossing route where he was hit as a defenseless receiver and had to leave the game in the concussion protocol. He will look to return next week against Miami.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 32 - 0 (2 targets) - Kelvin Benjamin
’s lone reception was a good catch and run across the middle. Benjamin has been inconsistent in both play and targets this season, so his continued work with Josh Allen
is important to monitor when he plays at Miami next week.
WR Zay Jones
, 55 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Zay Jones
recent stretch of strong play took a hit with the return of Josh Allen
. Allen missed Jones badly on a third down crossing route on his only legitimate target. Jones was also in the vicinity of an end of the half Hail Mary attempt but was unable to reach the ball before it fell incomplete. He will look to rebound against Miami next week.
Atlanta Falcons 17, New Orleans Saints 31
What you need to know
- : The Saints double-teamed Julio Jones
with a safety over top and Eli Apple tight and used Marshon Lattimore, its best corner, to address Calvin Ridley
one-on-one all night. Ridley earned big plays during the second half, including fourth-and-goal touchdown where he worked free along the end line off a Matt Ryan
pump fake and a long catch and run up the left flat off a Ryan scramble to set up the score. However, Ridley also dropped two deeper routes and a sideline route against tight coverage – all going through his hands. Ridley’s greatest mistake came on a 4th and 10 with 4:00 left in the game. He ran a dig route to beat Lattimore across the field and as he reached the Saints’ five with hopes of cutting Saints’ 21-point lead to 14, he let Lattimore strip the all free and New Orleans recovered inside its 1 to seal the game. Overall, it was a rough night for Atlanta. Matt Ryan
was sacked six times. He also fumbled twice in the red zone and lost one of three total fumbles. He later threw a fourth-quarter interception off a tipped pass. Ryan led the Falcons in rushing with 16 yards and the Saints defense perpetually confused Atlanta’s line with disguised looks while New Orleans’ offense used multiple looks to confuse Atlanta’s defense. By the end of the first quarter, Atlanta was out of this game and only had a chance to get back into it between the time Ridley caught the dig route and fumbled it inside the Saints’ five.
New Orleans Saints
- The Saints continue to take the NFL by storm after reeling off their 10th straight win. This week they dismantled a divisional rival in the Atlanta Falcons and the defense continues to return to form from last season. Drew Brees
threw another 4 touchdowns, each to undrafted receivers. He has now thrown a touchdown to 13 different receivers this season, tying Matt Ryan
for the NFL record. Brees also threw only his second interception of the season. The rushing attack was less of a focal point than in recent weeks, but the committee was headed by Alvin Kamara
this week. The Saints continue to show that they can win in just about any way imaginable and are looking like the best all-around team in the NFL. Drew Brees
continues to throw touchdowns to any warm body that lines up at receiver and he still has Brandon Marshall
getting up to speed on the play book. This is going to be a very scary team heading into the playoffs. The Saints get a full week of rest before taking on the Cowboys next Thursday night in Dallas.
QB Matt Ryan
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 47 - 377 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0 - The veteran quarterback had a strong yardage night, finding receivers open on dig routes, shallow routes, slants, and over routes for solid gains. Unfortunately, Ryan fumbled the ball in consecutive possessions inside the Saints’ two. The first was a well-defended quick-slant where the New Orleans edge defender leaped into the passing lane and forced Ryan to hold the ball on the short drop, which gave P.J. Williams time to reach the quarterback an create the turnover on a blitz. On the next series, Ryan did not correctly read the coverage position of the flat defender on Calvin Ridley
and missed the opportunity for an easy touchdown. This forced Ryan to look elsewhere, drift into pressure reaching the pocket and fumble the ball trying to escape the defense. Ryan recovered the ball but this forced Atlanta to kick a field goal while already down 14-0. The Saints sacked Ryan six times in the game and repeatedly shut down the offense once it crossed midfield. Although Ryan got Atlanta within 14 points late in the third quarter – thanks to some play-action passing and smart throws on the move from pressure – Ryan had a pass tipped at the line by Tyler Davidson that linebacker A.J. Klein rebounded for the interception and it allowed New Orleans to re-establish a 21-point lead late in the game and put it out of reach. Much of Ryan’s production came in garbage time.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 17 - 1 (4 targets) - The Saints repeatedly tested Coleman’s patience with penetration that forced Coleman to do one of two things: cut his stride length to run more patiently and set up a cutback or move one gap over, or attempt a dramatic bounce-out. Coleman, who lacks great footwork, chose the bounce-outs repeatedly and was shut down for most of the game with short gains and losses. His best gain of the night came late in the fourth quarter on receiver throw-out on a drive where he scored on another short pass of four yards. Matt Ryan
outgained Coleman on the ground by 10 yards in this game (16 to 6).
RB Ito Smith
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 0 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Coleman’s reserve didn’t make an impact until 30 seconds left in the half with a crossing route for a first-down conversion. When he earned touches during the second half, he didn’t gain much against the run-blitzing Saints but he showed more patience and control of his footwork, despite not earning a first down on a short-yardage run that forced an Atlanta punt.
WR Julio Jones
, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 11 - 147 - 0 (14 targets) - Jones earned most of his gains over the middle on crossing routes and slants. He made a tough catch between three defenders to begin the game for a gain of 12. He got open on a back-shoulder throw between Eli Apple and the safety but Ryan did not place the ball well enough for Jones to turn away from Apple. The target forced Jones to attempt a catch with Apple reaching to knock the ball away easily. Jones caught a crossing route and earned another 10 yards after the catch with less than 20 seconds in the half but as he was working towards the boundary, the Saints’ defense helicoptered the receiver and forced a turnover inside the 15, ending Atlanta’s drive. Ryan found Jones with pressure in his face and hit the receiver on a crossing route from an off-balanced throw but Jones could only make one defender miss before slipping to the ground at the sideline two yards shy of the marker during the first drive of the second half. Jones earned a short gain on and out against Apple and couldn’t earn yards after the six-yard catch. Ryan found Jones for a first down on a crossing route off play-action for the receiver’s seventh catch of the night to reach the Atlanta 39. Jones earn a quick slant past midfield on a drive after the Saints went up again by 21. Jones found an open space on a fourth-down dig route with 6:00 left and down by 21 but after Calvin Ridley
fumbled away a shot to cut the lead to 14, the rest of Jones’ plays were meaningless for all but fantasy owners collecting on thise 11 receptions and 147 yards.
WR Calvin Ridley
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 93 - 1 (13 targets) - Ridley’s output was not a good indication of his up-and-down performance against the Saints’ top corner Marshon Lattimore, who faced Ridley all night. The rookie earned his first target on third and nine from the Saints’ 22 during the second drive, running an out and catching the ball thrown to his back shoulder for a first down and a gain of 11. Ridley leaned to the ground on a 3rd and 14 deep go route up the right sideline during the third series and let the ball go through his hands against tight coverage. After a couple of shorter targets, Ryan followed up with a deep go route to Ridley up the left sideline against Lattimore, but Ridley could not shake Lattimore with a double move near the line of scrimmage and the pass fell incomplete. On 3rd and 13 late in the third quarter, Ryan looked right, escaped pressure to his left, and made an off-balance toss to Ridley in the left flat for a long gain to the Saints’ two. He tried to squeeze it into Ridley on 2nd and goal but Ridley dropped the ball before taking a hit by the safety coming over the top form the inside of the route – a tough target but one he should catch. Two plays later, Ryan found Ridley in the back of the end zone after a pump fake to help the receiver work clean on a 4th and goal at the end of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14. Ridley dropped a fourth-quarter out route against Lattimore on the next drive but Ryan found Ridley on a dig route across the middle inside the Saints’ 20 with 4:01 left on 4th and 10. As Ridley worked form the 10 to the 5, Lattimore stripped the ball from Ridley’s loose carriage and the Saints recovered inside its 1.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 4 - 74 - 0 (4 targets) - Ryan found Sanu on an over route near the left hash on 3rd and 10 for a first down during Atlanta’s first series. Sanu followed up with a deep cross from Ryan from midfield on a play-action pass to the Saints’ 12 yard-line. Ryan found Sanu to begin the second drive with a crossing route against a linebacker’s tight coverage for a first down. Sanu earned the first down on a wildcat keeper early in the fourth quarter. He had some meaningful plays and solid production for a third receiver.
WR Justin Hardy
, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Earned a gain up the right sideline on a route to the flat late in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
TE Austin Hooper
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 31 - 0 (5 targets) - He earned his first catch with under a minute in the half as the second read over the middle for a six-yard gain into field goal range. Ryan hit Hooper on a shallow out for about six yards to begin Atlanta’s second drive of the third quarter while down by 21. Ryan found Hooper just past midfield on a fourth-down shallow route against the safety in tight coverage for the first down. Demario Davis drew a defensive pass interference foul on an arrow route to Austin Hooper
on 2nd and 17 in the middle of the fourth quarter. Two plays later, he caught a shallow route with Davis stuffing him for a minimal gain to set up a third down. He was not a factor until the Saints were well ahead.
QB Drew Brees
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 22 - 171 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - -4 - 0 - The normal yards were not there for Brees this week, but the touchdowns were. Brees has 15 touchdowns in the last 4 games despite throwing for under 200 yards this week. Normally the lack of passing yards coordinates with the running game exceling, but it was about even this week. The success was setup for Brees by the takeaways from the defense and the return game. Brees first touchdown was a 28-yard bomb to Lewis. The route was right up the seam and Brees put the ball where only Lewis could make a play. He laid it right above his head where he had to turn and leap to make the touchdown while falling into the end zone. The second touchdown came to Carr on an easy out route into the end zone. He chipped off the defensive end and leaked out into the flat. There was no defender within 10 yards of him and Brees hit him right in the chest. The third touchdown was an amazing diving catch from Arnold into the end zone. Brees led him just a little too far on the 25-yard go route, but Arnold was able to go full extension into the end zone for the touchdown. The fourth and final touchdown was a 5-yard out route to Lewis. Brees put the ball low and hard where only Lewis could make a sliding catch. The defender had no chance to stop the pass. Brees also threw his second interception of the season. He still leads the NFL in touchdown to interception ratio. The ball was intended for Kirkwood and drifted too far after he got his feet tangled with the defender. The safety came across for the easy interception and it was the only real mistake that Brees made. There is a chance that Kirkwood could have made the catch or at least broken up the pass had he not fallen, but the pass did sail on him a little. Brees has another good test against a surprisingly good Cowboys defense next Thursday.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 89 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - The Saints have the luxury of 2 running backs who can lead the way on any given week. This week it was Kamara who had 15 touches to Ingram's 11. He was able to find more room to run through the line and cut through even the smallest hole with authority this week. Kamara averaged 6.4 yards per carry this week and was the most effective back for the Saints. The passing game took an unusual route as Brees targeted his second and third options at receiver rather than his stars. There were weeks when Kamara would have 10+ targets in the passing game and this week he only had 1. His longest rush of the night was 18 yards off tackle for a first down. The team as a whole rushed for 150 total yards and Kamara made up for about 2/3 of that total. Expect the Saints to continue to rotate their backs and keep everyone as fresh and healthy as possible going into the playoffs.
RB Mark Ingram
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 52 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - There is not much to write home about with Ingram's performance this week. He had 3 fewer carries than Kamara this week and caught both of his targets in the passing game. Ingram's 4.7 yards per carry would be more than enough to make any team happy, but the Saints elected to attack the Falcons through the air this week. Even in the red zone and in goal to go situations the Saints leaned on the pass more than the run this week. Look for the Saints to continue to ride the hot hand out of the back field and it is a true flip of the coin as to which running back is going to see more carries. Ingram's longest run of the night was 12 yards down the sideline. Brees fumbled the snap but was still able to pitch the ball to Ingram as he fell to the ground. Ingram followed his blockers up the sideline for his biggest gain of the day.
WR Michael Thomas
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 38 - 0 (6 targets) - It is very rare that you see Thomas' name second on a box score in receiving yards. It is also unusual to see 4 passing touchdowns and not a single 1 with his name on it. The passing game went through lesser known receivers this week as the Falcons keyed in on Thomas the entire game. He was constantly double covered or given safety help over the top. He still managed to finish the game tied for the team lead in targets with 6. Thomas' longest play of the game was a 13-yard catch across the middle, but he was never able to break free. The added coverage to Thomas in the red zone opened things up for the likes of Lewis, Carr, and Arnold. Do not expect this to be the norm for Thomas going forward. He was outpaced by Smith last week and Arnold this week, but he will take his rightful place back atop the receiving stat sheet in the coming weeks.
WR Keith Kirkwood
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (3 targets) - After being called up from the practice squad recently, Kirkwood is seeing more work in the Saints offense. He was third on the team with 3 targets this week, but only managed to catch a single ball. There is a clear disconnect with Brees as the pair missed on passes that would normally easily be caught by a receiver and quarterback who have worked together extensively. Kirkwood added his first career touchdown on a 5-yard bullet from Brees in a goal to go situation. Kirkwood ran a shallow out route and Brees put it low enough for Kirkwood to make a sliding catch and the defender unable to make a play. The area was cleared out by Carr on the outside and Kirkwood ended up with the score. Brandon Marshall
is expected to cut into the playing time of Kirkwood and there is even the potential that he ends up back on the practice squad.
WR Austin Carr
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 1 (1 targets) - After scoring his first career touchdown last week, Carr added another score this week on a 12-yard reception. He chipped off the defensive end and leaked out into the flat. There was no defender within 10 yards of him as the defense had keyed in on Thomas and the run fake on the inside. This will be one of the easiest touchdowns Carr will score in his career. He did not have any other targets in the game but made the most of the one he had. Carr has been used in primarily blocking situations for most of the season and now he is leaking out into the pass game on play fakes. There is no telling if he will continue to see an increase in usage as the Saints seem to change their game plan every week.
WR TommyLee Lewis
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 28 - 1 (1 targets) - Another receiver that was one and done in the game this week. Lewis made his presence felt on the first drive of the game and then did not register another target. He went up and hauled in a 28-yard pass from Brees and fell back into the end zone for the first score. Lewis ran up the seam and was untouched by his defender. Brees put the pass just up and over his head to where Lewis could go up and make a play at the highest point. Lewis has not made much of an impact this season, even for the receiver thin Saints offense.
TE Dan Arnold
, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 45 - 1 (6 targets) - The theme of backup players scoring for the Saints all started with Arnold. He led all receivers in yardage this week and hauled in the third touchdown of the game. For Arnold, it was the first touchdown of his career. He ran directly up the seam and made a diving catch on a beautifully thrown ball by Brees. Arnold went full extension into the end zone to make the catch. This one catch accounted for more than half of his yardage in the game and he still led all receivers. Arnold, Carr, and Hill have been getting more looks than Watson in recent weeks and shows how dangerous the Saints offense can be despite not having big names behind Thomas.
TE Ben Watson
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - It was another quiet game for the big tight end this week. After finally showing some signs of life in the recent weeks, Watson fell behind again this week. He had 1 great 20-yard grab for a first down and dropped his only other target. The Saints offense went through its backups this week and Watson did not have to do very much. Watson is still a weapon for the saints despite the down season.