San Francisco 49ers 27, Kansas City Chiefs 38
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- The big news is that Jimmy Garoppolo
's out for the season with a torn ACL, which thrusts C.J. Beathard
back into the starting quarterback job (at least for now). The negative impact on San Francisco's offense that this will have can't be overstated. What's been less commented on is the fact that in both of the 49ers losses so far this season, they've gotten themselves into huge holes on the scoreboard before climbing back into the game in the second half. Whether this is due to Kyle Shanahan's early-game play script or the players' lack of execution, it's a problem that must be fixed going forward, especially without Garoppolo.
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 38-27, to improve to 3-0 on the season. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes continued his hot play, completing 24 of 38 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Kareem Hunt
gained 44 yards with two touchdowns on 18 carries. Tyreek Hill
caught only two passes for 51 yards, while Sammy Watkins
caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Travis Kelce
led the Chiefs receivers with eight receptions for 114 yards.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 30 - 251 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 23 - 0 - Garoppolo's out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, so it seems silly to nitpick his performance. This may sound obvious, but one thing to watch out for when he comes back in 2019 is his mobility -- inside the pocket. Over the past two games, against less than ferocious pass rushes, he's taken several sacks due to standing like a statue in the pocket. These were coverage sacks more so than blown blocks, but Garoppolo simply didn't move. With a reconstructed knee, he figures to move even less (if there's something less than not moving at all).
RB Alfred Morris
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 67 - 1 - Unlike the first two games, Morris was used in more of his conventional role as an inside runner. To wit, 12 of his 14 carries were directed in between the tackles. By far, his best drive was San Francisco's second drive of the third quarter, which started down 35-16 and ended with a Morris rushing touchdown. On that drive, he had his longest run of the game, gaining 16 yards on an outside zone, barreling over two tacklers at the end for good measure.
RB Matt Breida
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 90 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (3 targets) - Although about 40 percent of Breida's rushing yardage came with San Francisco down two or more scores, his longest run came on the first play of their second drive. The run was designed as an outside zone right, but Breida saw there was no hole to run through and cut back across the field into wide open space. He also had an odd long run (21 yards) in the third quarter, where Jimmy Garoppolo
fumbled the snap, but was able to recover it in time to pitch the ball to Breida on an improvised sweep left. Breida was relatively quiet in the passing game, although he did continue to get lined up out wide as a receiver more than most NFL backs do.
WR Marquise Goodwin
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 1 (4 targets) - Goodwin may have returned from injury, but he didn't completely return to the role he had prior to getting hurt. Whereas he played nearly 100 percent of offensive snaps before, he only played 62 percent against Kansas City. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with him physically, however, as he ran his fair share of intermediate-to-deep routes, fake jet sweeps, and actual jet sweeps. Goodwin's touchdown came on a blown coverage that was more an egregious error by Kansas City's defense than the typical wizardry of Kyle Shanahan's play design.
WR Trent Taylor
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (4 targets) - Taylor once again played about 40 percent of snaps because the 49ers spent most of the game using two running backs in the formation. All three of his targets came in the second quarter, none of which gained more than 10 yards, and two of which were dumpoffs in desperate down-and-distance situations. Taylor's only target -- and reception -- that came in the normal flow in the game was a 10-yard catch on a shallow cross, in which he found a hole in Kansas City's underneath zone coverage.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - Bourne once again produced a big play in limited usage (only 22 percent of snaps). This time, he gained 27 yards on a dig route against the press man-to-man coverage of cornerback Steven Nelson, which put San Francisco in position to score much-needed points going into half time.
WR Pierre Garcon
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (4 targets) - Garcon's quiet performance was due to Kansas City's zone coverage having him bracketed across the field on most routes. He did, however, have a golden opportunity for 40-yard gain or more when he was left uncovered on a crossing pattern, but Jimmy Garoppolo
TE George Kittle
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 79 - 0 (7 targets) - Although he dropped the pass wide open across the middle of the field, Kittle's busy day was foreshadowed on the 49ers first play from scrimmage. His longest gain came on a backside underneath route that's a staple of the West Coast offense. As designed, he was completely uncovered, hauled in the short pass, and picked up 25 yards after the catch. But his most impressive play of the game only went for 15 yards. It came on 3rd-and-16, which allowed the 49ers to convert on 4th-and-short, thereby extending a drive that kept the score within reach. On the play, Kittle leaked out into the flat after pass-blocking, caught the dumpoff 9 yards short of the sticks, made a tackler miss, and then bowled over four more.
QB Patrick Mahomes II
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 38 - 314 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 7 - 0 - Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 38 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns against the 49ers on Sunday. Mahomes could have easily had four or five touchdown passes in this game, but Andy Reid being the diplomatic coach of five legitimate fantasy starters, allowed Kareem Hunt
to score two, one yard touchdowns. Hunt’s first touchdown run was set up by screen passes to Spencer Ware
(14 yards) and Anthony Sherman
(16 yards). These are the type of plays that can be lost in the high flying act that we’ve seen in the first three games, but they are staples of Reid’s offense and near lock’s to pick up solid yardage when the defense is so spread out trying to react to the speed of the Chief’s skill position players. Mahomes showed off his ridiculous athleticism on his first touchdown pass to Chris Conley
. Lined up in the shotgun, Mahomes took the snap and was faced with a heavy 49ers pass rush. Trying to create some time to throw the ball Mahomes first took off left, but was then met with a defender closing on him. Mahomes then showed his back to the defender and threw a quick fake to the inside of the field, then a quick fake to the outside of the field, and then reversed field again so he was moving to his right. It was the type of fake that either would have lost 20 yards or given him time to throw. With Mahomes running for his life to his right, he uncorked a side arm bullet to Conley in the back of the end zone. Officially it went for a 4 yard touchdown pass, but Mahomes threw it from the 19 ½ yard line. Mahomes next touchdown pass was a rather straight forward throw to Duane Harris who had managed to find himself wide open in the end zone for a 13 yard catch. Mahomes final touchdown pass was to Sammy Watkins
on a slant to the left side of the field. Mahomes made a good throw, and Watkins did the rest to score from 13 yards out.
RB Kareem Hunt
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 44 - 2 (1 targets) - Kareem Hunt
rushed 18 times for 44 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs win over the 49ers on Sunday. Hunt managed to save his day from a fantasy perspective with the two touchdowns, but otherwise he was wildly inconsistent. Excluding the two one yard touchdown runs, seven of his 15 rushes went for 3 yards or less, and that includes three rushes of negative yards. His long gain of the day was a ten yard rush that came out of the shotgun formation with the Chiefs running out the clock in the 4th quarter. Hunt’s first touchdown came on a similar play. With the Chiefs on the one yard line and in the shotgun formation, Mahomes directed Hunt from his left to his right side before the snap. Then Mahomes gave him the ball on a draw up the middle where Hunt was not touched. Hunt’s second touchdown was a mirror image of the first play, except this time he came in motion from the slot to Mahomes right side in the shotgun. Mahomes snapped the ball and gave it to Hunt, who rushed in without so much as a 49er defender breathing on him. Hunt should not be docked for the easy touchdowns, but it is hard to say he’s played anything more than minor role in the Chiefs first three wins. Spencer Ware
and Anthony Sherman
have saw the ball come their way sparingly, but both have managed to make big plays when their number is called. Something that is not lost on Hunt owners who were hoping he was going to be more involved in the passing game. He had no catches in this game on only one target, a far cry from his production last season.
WR Sammy Watkins
, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 20 - 0, Rec: 5 - 55 - 1 (8 targets) - Watkins caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing two times for 20 yards. The Chiefs had a definite plan for Watkins when they signed him this off-season, and little by little you are starting to see why they added another high paid receiver to a group had as good a 1-2 punch at receiver and tight as any team in the league. Watkins and Hill are running similar routes in the short passing game, but Hill is seeing more routes down the field. Hill’s deep routes in a way allow them to use each other—and Travis Kelce
—to set up space for one another to make plays after the catch. Watkins receptions on the day were for nine, 12, nine, 15 and 10 yards. His touchdown catch showed off his run after the catch ability, and why the Chiefs want him to be a running back of sorts once he gets the ball in his hands, effectively displaying why he is running so many short, high percentage routes. Watkins lined up on the left side of the formation, Mahomes took the snap out of shotgun and hit Watkins perfectly in stride on a shallow slant route. Watkins made the catch and immediately made a quick move where he angled his run away from an oncoming defender. As quickly as he made that move, he made another one that angled his run down field toward the end zone. With a head of steam, Watkins hit several defenders at the three yard line, barreling through them and another defender at the one yard line to score a 12 yard touchdown.
WR Tyreek Hill
, 69 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 51 - 0 (5 targets) - Tyreek Hill
caught two passes for 51 yards on seven targets in the Chiefs win over the 49ers on Sunday. Hill also ran the ball twice for five yards. Hill drew several pass interference penalties, including one deep down the field where he had his man beat, which had it been a clean play, could have pushed Hunt into the 110 yard with a touchdown range on the day. Despite catching only two passes, Hunt still managed to make perhaps the play of the day, although it is in hot competition with the Mahomes scramble, touchdown throw to Conley that I described above. Hill has not received the credit he deserves for becoming a complete wide receiver over the past three years. He is thought of as a speedster, but the truth is he is as good as or better than 95% of the receivers in the league in terms of setting up his routes. On this play, Hill lined up on the left side of the formation, alone, but set up in the slot. Coming off the line, Hill uses his quickness to throw an in-out fake to get to the inside position of the field. At the stem of his route, he sets up his double move by running two fast steps to the outside of the field before sprinting back to the middle of the field to run a deep post. Mahomes makes a nice throw that is a 40 yard frozen rope. There are three defenders within ten yards of Hill, but none are closer than three yards to him. Mahomes puts the ball in a great place where no defenders can make a play on it, but it also shows a tremendous trust in Hill, because the throw is high and he needs to go up and make a play on the ball. Which is exactly what happens, as Hill jumps up and catches the ball at the very top of his jump, a pretty incredible feat of timing considering he was running a double move, deep post to the center of the field and made the play at top speed. Even when he catches only two passes in a game, he forces you to look at both receptions and see why he has turned himself into one of the best receivers in the game today.
TE Travis Kelce
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 114 - 0 (10 targets) - Travis Kelce
led the Chiefs receivers in catches and yards, snagging eight passes for 114 yards on 10 targets. Mahomes went to Kelce early and often in this game, with Kelce totaling 93 yards on five catches before the 1st half ended. Kelce’s best play of the day came in the 2nd quarter with the Chiefs in the two minute drill. Facing a 3rd and nine, Kelce lined up on the left side of the formation and ran a comeback route right at the first down line. With a defender draped all over him, Mahomes threw the ball high and to the outside of Kelce, which allowed him to sort of box his man out with his size and try to make a play. The ball had some heat on it, which made Kelce’s leaping one-handed catch even that more impressive. Kelce was also able to pick up five more yards after the catch despite having his defender on him the entire time. Kelce also had a 14 yard reception that bailed out Mahomes after he bobbled the snap, and made himself wide open in the middle of the field. Those two plays went a long way in setting up Sammy Watkins
touchdown catch just before the half ended. Kelce would go on to make three more catches in the 2nd half, and aside from the reception on third down mentioned above, it seemed as though Kelce was wide open on every route he ran.
New York Giants 27, Houston Texans 22
What you need to know
New York Giants
- - Barkley is relieving a lot of pressure from Manning. This is allowing Manning to use play action and rollouts to complete passes, they work very well together in the passing game also. He is a very dependable target for Manning, especially as a check down option when the rush is closing in. They only increase each others production.
- Ellison had a nice game as the back up to Engram but his production is unlikely to be repeated on a weekly basis. His talent level is below Engram and will be respectable for the Giants for should not be relied upon in fantasy.
- The offensive line for the Giants was much improved despite surrending sacks off the right side to JJ Watt at times. It remains to be seen if they can keep it as a respectable level for the reason, the talent
in the skilled positions is very high.
- Expectations are for D’Onta Foreman to come off the PUP in 3 more games and on the roster against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bill O’Brien mentioned that rookies Jordan Thomas
and Jordan Akins
need more time on the field, take note.
was injured on the 4th offensive snap injuring his left hamstring on an out route.
QB Eli Manning
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 29 - 297 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Eli Manning
was given time in the pocket for the most part in this game and played at a high level. He was sacked occasionally as the right side of the offensive line is the clear weakness in this unit but the pass protection was much improved overall. Manning was confident, accurate and well timed play calling allowed him to execute the offense. He was throwing strikes down the field for first downs, getting first downs and keeping the Giants moving.
Manning was not afraid to throw into tight coverage and trusted his teammate to come away with the ball. Though his athletic ability leaves some to be desired, his rollouts and play action worked well and kept the defense guessing. Instant pressure off the right side from Watt forced Manning to swallow some sacks but he was able to make up for this. His first touchdown came on a go route to Ellison in the redzone. Ellison got enough separation at the line and Manning fired the ball in quickly to secure the score. Manning's second touchdown pass came late in the game as he was patient in the redzone. Shepard settled down just over the goal line on a short in breaking route and Manning found the soft spot in the zone coverage. This kind of performance will buy Manning a week of freedom as he redemmed the entire Giants offense after last week. It will be interesting to see if he can keep this up.
RB Saquon Barkley
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 82 - 1, Rec: 5 - 35 - 0 (5 targets) - Saquon Barkley
hasn't put together any monster performances just yet but those might be around the corner as he delivers another solid performance in his rookie campaign. Barkley looked very tough to tackle in this game and overall displayed incredible overall talent. He is a well rounded back with big potential to break a long run on the ground but can also participate in the passing game with his solid hands. He bounced off the first tackle attempt on numerous occasions and rarely went down after making contact initially. Barkley had a lot of consistent gains on the ground and picked up many first downs to keep drives alive. He showed a strong stiff arm to keep defenders at bay and incredible acceleration. Barkley stopped at the hole in the redzone for a brief half-second but exploding to the outside and running into the endzone for his touchdown. He was also explosive with the ball in his hands on a screen pass and on a fade pass down the sideline he hauled in for a big conversion late in the game.
WR Odell Beckham Jr
, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 9 - 109 - 0 (10 targets) - Odell Beckham had a relatively quiet game for his standards but was still a strong player for fantasy owners in PPR leagues. Beckham simply was incredibly useful at picking up first downs for the Giants.
He ran slants/curls/deep in breaking patterns and hauled in balls all game long to keep the Giants alive. They tried him on another end around rush play that failed to work, perhaps they need to retire this play as it rarely works for Beckham. He showed incredible explosion as always with the ball in his hands, running away from defenders after short passes and getting as many yards as possible after the catch. Beckham looked very slippery and tough to bring down in the open field as defenders struggled to contain him. He had an excellent catch off a tipped pass late in the game but this was negated unfortunately by a holding call.
WR Sterling Shepard
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 80 - 1 (7 targets) - Sterling Shepard
played very well on Sunday and did all the Giants asked of him in the passing game. Shepard was explosive over the middle and caught every ball fired his way.
He had to contend with high balls over the middle and tightly contested throws but he made the most of this and usually won the match up. Shepard's hands were extremely reliable and had a nice diving catch over the middle.
He had a catch over the middle against a linebacker that normally he could have turned into a bigger play but the pass was slightly thrown behind him that allowed the defender to catch up with him. Shepard turned a short out pattern into a big gain as he scampered down the sideline for many yards after the catch. His touchdown was an excellent read by him, settling over the goal line in the zone coverage for the score late in the game.
TE Rhett Ellison
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 1 (3 targets) - Rhett Ellison
was forced into a bigger role than normal due to the injury sustained by Engram. Ellison made the most of this opportunity and got into the endzone. He shook his man at the line of scrimmage and got a step on a go route in the redzone which allowed Manning to fire a pass quickly for the score. Ellison got his hands on a few short balls otherwise, displaying some quickness and an ability to get open at times.
He does not possess the talent of Engram however and will not be reliable in this offense.
TE Evan Engram
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (1 targets) - Evan Engram
managed only one catch on Sunday as he left the game early with a knee injury. Engram got his hands on a rollout pass play down the sideline that he was able to convert into a big gain.
Engram also drew pass interference on another deep ball from Manning but subsequently left the game. Engram's replacement was solid but not near the talent level of the second year player.
QB Deshaun Watson
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 40 - 385 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 36 - 0 - The Texans quarterback is churning on numbers at a high level but even with his 385 yard passing game, there is so much more out there for him in the passing game. Watson missed Will Fuller
on an open post route that he sailed just to his right due to pressure coming from a missed block. Also, add in no real running game, Watson was depended on to carry the offense and continue to be the main cog in putting together anything for the Texans. He depended on his most reliable targets in in DeAndre Hopkins
and Will Fuller
. Watson used both Hopkins and Fuller to put together key drives on big throws and was able to literally spread their chances out in half. Watson was able to have 7 passes of 20+ yards and 5 passes for 25+ yards continuing his trend of being able to produce big plays.
RB Lamar Miller
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 10 - 0, Rec: 5 - 41 - 1 (6 targets) - It was a terrible day for the Texans lead back. Lamar Miller
has 13 yards on the ground and 5 receptions for 41 yards and a late garbage time touchdown reception with 1 second left in the game. He lost a key fumble in the game after the Texans were driving into Giants territory. The Texans abandoned the run game but used Miller in the passing game. If it wasn’t for the fumble it might have not been as bad of day it ended up being for Miller.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 86 - 0 (10 targets) - Despite the uptick in targets for Will Fuller
, DeAndre Hopkins
is still getting his on the field. Hopkins had a touchdown rception wiped out due to a holding penalty which would have it a much more productive day. Hopkins averaged 14.3 yards a reception and when given a chance in open field he had catches for 20 and 24 yards. One aspect of Hopkins game that is growing is his ability to run after the catch and that was something that he really didn’t do as a receiver. Hopkins is going to continue to get his in the passing game so don’t fret with the emergence of Fuller.
WR Will Fuller
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 101 - 1 (11 targets) - His growth as a receiver with Watson is something to see and in only 6 games, Fuller has turned into a prime time player. Fuller had receptions for 28 and 37 yards and showed he can run away from coverage and even was physical breaking tackles. Fuller had 5 receptions and just like last week when it came for a big play, He was called upon to to flip the field. Fuller notched a touchdown reception after Hopkins initial one was wiped out due to a penalty. It will be interesting to see what happens with his targets as the season goes on but this is the second week of high end production.
TE Ryan Griffin
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 44 - 0 (4 targets) - The Texans primarily tight end, Griffin better start handling his other duties outside of receiving the ball better or his playing time is going to be cut into. Griffin did have 2 receptions for 44 yards and had a long for 32. The Texans tight end group has been hit or miss but part of the issue is Watson not getting them the football. Griffin has been open more times than not but being a liability in blocking situations is not helping his cause which might cause the rookies of Thomas and Akins to start taking some of his time on the field.
TE Jordan Thomas
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 53 - 0 (2 targets) - The rookie tight end is getting work on the field but his chances have been limited in the passing game. Thomas only had two receptions but he made the most of it with 53 yards and a long of 39 to kick start the opening drive. Thomas, when targeted, has been open and more importantly with his wide receiver background in college he catches the ball with ease.
Green Bay Packers 17, Washington Redskins 31
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- The Green Bay Packers lost to the Washington Redskins 30-18 on Sunday. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
completed 27 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Aaron Jones
(six carries for 42 yards) and Jamaal Williams
(five carries for 29 yards) split carries nearly evenly, along with Ty Montgomery
, who also rushed four times for 16 yards. Davante Adams
led the Packers in receptions, finishing with seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Geranimo Allison continued his fine play, leading the Packers in receiving yards and finishing with two catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Randall Cobb
had another quiet game, catching four passes for 23 yards. Tight End Jimmy Graham
had five catches for 45 yards.
- Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on offense today and that lead to having an effective run game. Play action was more effective as well due to improved line play. Washington wants to run the ball and maintain efficiency in the passing game so this was huge for them to bounce back from last week's debacle. The defense did a good job of getting off the field on third downs and keeping the Packers offense in check. Consistent line play on both sides of the ball will determine Washington's success each game. However, they have to maintain an aggressive mindset and not go cold in the second half as that can get dangerous. Washington's recipe for wins will be an effective run game coupled with timely aggression downfield.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 44 - 265 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 13 - 0 - Aaron Rodgers
completed 27 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing two times for 13 yards in the Packers loss to the Redskins on Sunday. The Packers were down 7-0 before they even tied their shoes on Sunday, as the Redskins Paul Richardson
scored on a 42 yard reception with only two minutes off the clock in the 1st quarter. The Redskins scored again (two minutes left in the 1st quarter) and again (two minutes left in the 2nd quarter) to go up 21-10 by the end of the first half. The game script called for Rodgers to throw the ball a lot after getting down 18 points, and the Redskins played very good containment defense, holding the Packers to short gains. With the exception of Geranimo Allison’s 64 yard touchdown, the Packers did not have a play of 20+ yards. With two minutes and change left in the 1st half, Rodgers lined up in the shotgun formation. With Allison lined up in the slot-right, Rodgers took the snap and baited the safety with a pump fake to Allison, who was running an up-in-up double move. The pump fake worked beautifully, the safety came up to make the play and Allison ran right by him, catching an easy Rodgers pass for a 64 yard touchdown. Rodgers second touchdown pass came with the Packers on the four yard line. With four wide, Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and delivered a quick pass to Adams who was running a flat crossing route that utilized a pick from the inside receiver. Adams did the work of pushing his defender across the goal line for the score. This was a game that got away from Rodgers and the Packers, but you have to give credit to the Redskins defense, who knew exactly how to play the Packers offense to contain them in the 2nd half.
RB Ty Montgomery
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 16 - 0, Rec: 6 - 48 - 0 (7 targets) - Ty Montgomery
rushed four times for 16 yards, while also catching six passes for 48 yards. He was more involved as a receiver when the Packers were in catchup mode, but played a small role in the first half.
RB Aaron Jones
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 42 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Aaron Jones
rushed six times for 42 yards, with one catch for five yards. There is an old football saying that says, “when you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks”. The same can be said for the Packers backfield, as the three-headed monster of Williams, Jones and Montgomery all receive just enough touches to be semi-effective, yet not enough to ever get in the flow of the game and make a difference. This was the first week that Jones was back with the team following his two game suspension, and Mike McCarthy said that Jones needed to earn his spot. Anyone who follows this team and has watched Williams and Montgomery run the first two games, knew that was coach speak for “I cannot publicly say he is the starter after a suspension, but I know he will go out and outplay Williams the first chance he gets”. And that is exactly what happened, as Jones averaged eight yards per carry on six rushes, after Williams had averaged 3.4 yards per carry to start the season. Jones is the more dynamic runner, as evidenced by his 18 yard rush up the middle early in the 3rd quarter. With Rodgers lined up in shotgun, Jones took the handoff and quickly found a crease before breaking through the defensive line, getting to the second level of the Redskins secondary and running over an opposing safety. Compared to the plodding style of Williams, Jones just looks…fast, and he will play a big role in the Packers backfield moving forward, as I expect him to dominate the touches. Jones is not the receiver that Williams is though, but Williams is not the receiver that Montgomery is, so it now looks as though Williams will be the odd man out. Jones will see the most rushing attempts and Montgomery will spell him on third downs and in gadget formations.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 29 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Jamaal Williams
rushed five times for 29 yards with two catches for 16 yards. He played a much smaller role this week with Aaron Jones
back in the lineup.
WR Davante Adams
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 52 - 1 (9 targets) - Davante Adams
caught seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown on nine targets against the Redskins on Sunday. Adams had a hard time finding room on intermediate and deep routes, as the Redskins were blanketing him and forcing Randall Cobb
to beat them deep. Adams did secure catches when the passes were thrown his way, but it seemed as soon as he caught the ball, he was set upon by several Redskins defenders. Even when he could shake the first guy, there was always another one waiting. Adams does most of his damage after the catch and in the red zone, and he managed to score a touchdown in his third straight game to start the season. Adams ran a shallow crossing route at the four yard line and was able to shake his defender and carry him across the goal line. There weren’t many highlights for Adams in this game, as the entire Packers offense was forced into playing with the Redskins gave them.
WR Randall Cobb
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (11 targets) - Randall Cobb
caught four passes for 23 yards on 11 targets in the Packers week three loss to the Redskins. This was a bad game for Cobb, as not only did he have a catch rate of 36%, he also committed two egregious drops on third down in the first half, and on fourth down in the second half. Both were critical plays with the Packers trying to gain momentum and get back in the game. Still, it was his fumble in the 4th quarter that ended the game that was probably his worst play. It was a weak play that Allison, Adams or Graham would not have fumbled, and it ended what could have been one Cobb’s worst games as a professional.
WR Geronimo Allison
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 76 - 1 (4 targets) - Allison caught two passes for 76 yards and a touchdown on four targets against the Redskins on Sunday. Allison was fifth in targets among Packers receivers, yet he still managed to lead the Packers in receiving yardage and record their only play over 20 yards on the day. With Allison lined up in slot-right, he ran an up-in-up double move that fooled both Josh Norma and the Redskins safety who bit on Rodgers pump fake. Allison took off up the middle of the field untouched, and scored a 64 yard touchdown, his second on the season. Allison’s other catch was a 12 yard grab on third down, where Rodgers was chased out of the pocket and Allison worked back to him, a move that will surely help further the trust between Allison and Rodgers.
TE Jimmy Graham
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (7 targets) - Jimmy Graham
caught five passes for 45 yards on seven targets against the Redskins on Sunday. With the field a little bit saturated due to rain, Graham had a hard time getting around and it showed that he is not nearly as light on his feet as he used to be. Although Graham caught five of his seven targets, there were three plays that I saw on tape where Rodgers immediately looked to Graham on a short route but did not throw the ball because Graham could not get separation off the line and didn’t get his body in position to box out his defender. Graham made some routine catches with the Redskins giving him room underneath, which was their game plan, but did not ever come close to breaking a big play. With the Packers rarely in the red zone in this game, Graham was not able to make his presence felt and his production could have been duplicated by a number of back up tight ends across the league. This won’t always be the case, but Graham has to do a better job of using his size to his advantage if he is going to be relegated to only running short routes in the middle of the field.
QB Alex Smith
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 20 - 220 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 20 - 0 - Alex Smith
had the offense clicking on all cylinders against Green Bay. However, Alex would lead all of his touchdowns drives in the first half. It was an extremely hot and cold day for Alex and the offense but they were able to put up 31 points to secure a victory. Alex was much more aggressive passing the ball downfield in this game. It was sign of things to come as he found Paul Richardson
for a forty-six yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Alex's second touchdown was a redzone touchdown to Jamison Crowder
. It was an extremely tough pass as he threw a dime to Jamison splitting two defenders to squeeze it in a tight window. Alex had four pass attempts in this game of over 20+ yards which was necessary considering how conservative they played last week. He only attempted twenty passes in this game as they had command majority of the game. The offense sputtered the entire second half as they failed to score a touchdown. The only points came on a field goal after getting great field position from a turnover. Alex had a positive game script for a large part of this game which allowed him to play efficiently.
RB Adrian Peterson
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 120 - 2 - Adrian Peterson
quickly bounced back from last week's abysmal performance. He tallied nineteen carries for one hundred and twenty yards. The most impressive part of his performance was the 6.3 yards per carry average. The offensive line controlled the point of attach which allowed Adrian to get downhill consistently for positive gains. The decisiveness in his runs today was evident as he had 4 carries go over 12 yards. Most notably a 30+ yard gain in the first half. Adrian looked fresh and dominant in this game as the weather conditions called for a successful run game. As the offense was often on schedule today, it allowed for a much more effective Adrian Peterson
. It is clear that he can still carry the load as a bellcow running back.
RB Chris Thompson
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (2 targets) - Chris Thompson
had seven total touches for less than twenty yards. As the offense was in total control throughout this game it didn't have a need for his services. Chris did get a carry in the redzone but he was unable to convert. That would have made his stat line look differently. The offense played conservative in the second half as they built a sizable lead which lead to less passing game opportunities for Chris. He will continue to dominate the third down looks and remain heavily involved in the passing game.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 39 - 1 (4 targets) - Jamison Crowder
caught all four of his targets for thirty-nine yards. Alex found him for a ten yard slant in the redzone as well to record his first touchdown of the year. Jamison had his most productive day of the year as he became more involved throughout this game. The passing game was conservative today but it was encouraging to see Jamison get opportunities. His weekly productivity can be highly volatile as the receiving core doesn't have a definitive ‘go-to’ guy.
WR Paul Richardson
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 46 - 1 (2 targets) - Paul Richardson
caught his lone reception on the opening drive of the game. It was a forty-six yard touchdown pass as Alex found him over the top of two defenders. Paul was brought to Washington for his deep threat abilities and today they were able to capitalize. Alex tried to find him deep for another chunk gain but it was incomplete. However it did draw a pass interference call. If the run game can continue to be effective then it will allow for Paul to have more opportunities downfield. Washington will continue to dial up Paul's number off play action.
WR Josh Doctson
, 47 offensive snaps (3 targets) - Josh Doctson
failed to record a catch in this game as he was targeted 3 times. Alex tried to connect with Josh deep down the sideline for a thirty yard pass but they were unable to convert. Josh's role in the offense is highly inconsistent and he can't be trusted for redzone looks either.
TE Jordan Reed
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 65 - 0 (7 targets) - Jordan Reed
was busy in the passing game today as he caught four of his seven targets. He only recorded sixty-five yards but it was clear that Alex wanted to take advantage of his matchup. Jordan found separation in coverage all game and could have had a bigger day if not for a few errant passes. Jordan didn't have any looks while in the redzone but Washington's offense went extremely conservative in the second half as well. Jordan looked spry in this game as he showed plenty shiftiness after the catch on his receptions.
TE Vernon Davis
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 70 - 0 (2 targets) - Vernon Davis
tallied two receptions for seventy yards. Alex connected with Vernon on a fifty yard reception in the first half that ultimately set them up for a touchdown. Vernon's speed makes him a deep threat every down but the opportunities are extremely limited with Jordan Reed
Tennessee Titans 9, Jacksonville Jaguars 6
What you need to know
- In what may end up as the sloppiest game of the week, there were no touchdowns to speak of with the Titans amassing only 233 yards of total offense. Blaine Gabbert
got the start but was knocked out early with a concussion, leading to Marcus Mariota
finishing the game despite his injured arm. Mariota put up a nice rushing stat line but was unreliable through the air, which sank the production of all Titans' receivers. Derrick Henry
out-touched Dion Lewis
for a second straight week, but neither Titans' running back had eventful days with around 3.1 yards per attempt combined.
- The Jaguars offense limped into the game against Tennessee. Leonard Fournette
was inactive once again. Left tackle Josh Wells was making his fifth start in four NFL seasons. Right guard AJ Cann was inactive with a triceps injury. TJ Yeldon started the game despite having an ankle injury. The injuries were not the main culprit behind the Jaguars abysmal offensive output however. 8 penalties for 75 yards were. The Jaguars committed a penalty on almost every offensive drive, and they are not a talented enough unit (doubly so with their injuries) to be playing behind the sticks.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 18 - 100 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 51 - 0 - Marcus Mariota
started this game on the bench still dealing with his elbow injury, but he was forced into action when Blaine Gabbert
was knocked out with a concussion in the first quarter. Mariota was very noticeably having trouble throwing and gripping the ball, as many of his passes were both wobbly and errant. Mariota rarely attempted many passes beyond 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, as his longest pass play came on a short comeback route on which Corey Davis
willed his way to a 22-yard gain. These troubles in the passing game actually led to an uptick in rushing by Mariota, finishing with over 50 rushing yards. It started with a 13-yard scramble near the Titans' goal line at the end of first quarter. With only a couple minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Mariota's other rushing highlight came in a big situation on 3rd-and-1. It was a read option play where Mariota kept it, jetting through a hole in the middle to pick up the first down and 15 yards as he helped to grind down the clock on the way to a Titans win.
QB Blaine Gabbert
, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 3 - 8 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Blaine Gabbert
received the start in place of an injured Marcus Mariota
, but he attempted only three passes before taking a massive hit resulting in a concussion and potential injury to his throwing arm. Gabbert would not return to the game and was replaced by Mariota.
RB Derrick Henry
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 57 - 0 (1 targets) - Derrick Henry
was the lead back for the second week in a row, out-touching Dion Lewis
18-to-12 overall with all 18 of Henry's touches coming on the ground. Henry picked up some tough yards as he finished with an almost identical stat line as Week 2. It was a difficult matchup in a sloppy offensive contest with many of Henry's runs going for only a couple yards here and there. Henry's highlight run came near the start of the fourth quarter as he led off the Titans' drive with a 14-yard run up the middle on a well-blocked play allowing Henry to use his speed to get past the front seven before powering through some arm tackles to pick up a few extra yards. This would be his only rushing attempt of greater than six yards on the day.
RB Dion Lewis
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 26 - 0, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (3 targets) - Dion Lewis
's usage continues to drop as he finished with a season-low 12 touches compared to 18 touches from Derrick Henry
. Lewis was ineffective with his nine rushing attempts, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry. Lewis did have a few longer runs of seven and nine yards, but he also countered those with a couple runs for no gain or negative yardage. The Titans' passing game was not firing on all cylinders with Marcus Mariota
in the game despite nursing an injured arm, so Lewis certainly felt that pain as he finished with only three receptions for 14 yards. Lewis could have had a bigger game through the air, but he simply did not play a ton of snaps and was required for blocking to defend against an aggressive Jaguars front seven.
WR Taywan Taylor
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Taywan Taylor
led the team in targets and receptions, but each reception came on very short routes for meager single-digit games. He really had no highlight-worthy plays here, but the usage was encouraging to see him targeted so heavily despite this being an overall terrible day for the Titans passing offense.
WR Corey Davis
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 0 (4 targets) - Corey Davis
was only targeted four times as the Titans offense was extremely limited with an injured Marcus Mariota
at the helm for three-quarters of play. Davis did lead the team in receiving yards though, fueled by a 22-yard reception near the start of the second half. On 1st-and-20, this was a simple comeback route where Davis stopped on a dime to haul in the short pass before breaking through an arm tackle to accelerate across the first down line. Davis would have another big situational catch on 3rd-and-5 to move the chains as he hauled in shallow slant route right at the first down marker before getting a few extra yards on sheer effort for a 12-yard gain.
WR Rishard Matthews
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Rishard Matthews
was targeted only twice here, hauling in one for three yards. The Titans passing game did next to nothing in this game with Blaine Gabbert
concussed and Marcus Mariota
playing with an injured arm.
WR Tajae Sharpe
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 16 - 0 (1 targets) - Tajae Sharpe
saw just one target with no receptions, with his only involvement coming on an end around rush for 16 yards to start the second half.
TE Jonnu Smith
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Jonnu Smith
finished with just two targets as the Titans continue to give looks to tight Luke Stocker
. Despite the talent, Smith is not living up to what many would hope would be at least partially filling the shoes of Delanie Walker
QB Blake Bortles
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 34 - 155 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 27 - 0 - Started off the first drive nice, completed first two passes both for 1st downs. After his second completion, he took a delay of game penalty changing the play at the LOS and everything was downhill from there. Took a sack on the next play. Drive ended in a punt following 3rd and 14. 3 and out next drive - protection issues. Airmailed an easy out route to an open Cole on 3rd and 3 next drive. Cole killed him with two key drops on good passes in the first half. First two passes coming out of halftime batted down by DL. Converted 3rd and 10 on a Pop pass to Westbrook vs a blitz. Drive eventually stalled out on a poor throw to an open Cole on a crosser on 3rd and 4. Got more involved as a runner in the second half. Positive in terms of some yardage outcomes, but with the protection failing over the course of the 2nd half it also led to sacks.
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 44 - 0, Rec: 6 - 46 - 0 (7 targets) - Playing through an ankle injury. You could tell he was playing through pain, but looked good enough as a runner - even behind an offensive line missing two starters. He was noticeably slow releasing and cutting in his routes early, but seemed to get more comfortable as the game went along. He got the offense out from shadow of their goalpost after a Jeremy Parnell false start put them at 1st and 15 from their own 9. He made a catch and run in the flat for 13 yards. Afterwards, he failed the conversion on 3rd and 1 on an inside run from 21 personnel where the backside pursuit stoned him at the LOS.
RB Corey Grant
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 11 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (2 targets) - With Leonard Fournette
out again, Grant and Yeldon continued to split duties in the backfield. He ran a fake punt on second drive of the game, but the Titans were ready for it and stopped it. He is not effective as an inside runner from under center. . At this point, Grant is a manufactured touch player who does not offer much as a runner.
WR Keelan Cole
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (9 targets) - Cole had a rough day with two drive stalling drops. He did have some production hitting routes underneath. He caught a quick out on 1st play of game and got upfield for a 1st down. On his first bad drop he ran a good route and got himself open on a corner and dropped a very well thrown ball. He dropped another easy out on 2nd and 10 that would have gone for a 1st down.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (4 targets) - Westbrook continues to see most of his production coming on Shallow Crosses and screens. He is improving in the YAC department, but still isnít a threat that defenses divert a lot of attention to or fear. He did have one very nice 3rd and long conversion on Pop pass vs the blitz.
WR Donte Moncrief
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Moncrief was non-existent in this game. He caught a Shallow Cross on the first drive for a 13 yard pickup and was did not have a catch again until the final drive. He was called for a holding penalty on a Dede Westbrook
screen that gained all of 4 yards.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (5 targets) - Seferian-Jenkins drew a few underneath targets in the first half, but was quiet overall today. While it was quiet in the receiving department, it was probably his best day as a run blocker so far.
New York Jets 17, Cleveland Browns 21
What you need to know
New York Jets
- “Scared money don’t make none” is a phrase which describes the Jets offense, as is the phrase “Hair-pullingly frustrating.” The Jets will not let Sam Darnold
try and stretch the field which makes the entire offense predictable and not very productive. The only people worth looking at are Quincy Enunwa
, who at least will get you PPR points, to make up for the lack of yards, and either Isaiah Crowell
or Bilal Powell
. Powell seems to get more consistent yards, but the Jets are using Crowell as a short-yardage, goal line back. The result is inconsistent yards and scoring, making both ends of this RBBC dicey in lineups.
- Baker Mayfield
made his NFL debut, coming on for a concussed Tyrod Taylor
with 1:42 left in the second quarter. It was an impressive outing as Mayfield instantly brought a spark to an offense which had to settle for a punt on each of its first six possessions led by Taylor. Mayfield's presence immediately gives an uptick to all of Cleveland's fantasy relevant players. Mayfield led the Browns to their first win since the end of the 2016 season, leading two touchdown-scoring drives. Head coach Hue Jackson is expected to announce Mayfield as the team's starting quarterback early in the week.
QB Sam Darnold
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 31 - 169 - 0 TD / 2 INT - Much like the rest of the New York Jets, Sam Darnold
played two very different halves of football. While not Hall of Fame worthy, his first half was relatively mistake free. The Jets did much of their damage on the ground, but Darnold kept the Browns defense honest. In the second half, Darnold largely fell apart. While one of his two interceptions — the one which clinched the Browns win — might have been prevented by Robby Anderson
doing more to disrupt the pass, it was still underthrown. His second interception was all on him, however. Darnold rushed the play to avoid a review of the previous first down, and the Browns brought heavy pressure. Darnold failed to see two important things. First, he had a receiver open for a short gain (the only type the Jets seem willing to design for – more on that shortly) and the fact that Jermaine Kearse
was bracketed in coverage. Darnold was forced to hold the ball an extra second due to his guard being driven back into his face, but seemed to throw blindly. The Jets have refused to take the training wheels off of Darnold, and the impact is a stale, predictable offense. While Darnold’s mistakes hurt the Jets, he will never grow past them if OC Jeremy doesn’t let him loose a little. Baker Mayfield
came in cold and took chances, and it worked out. At some point the Jets should give Darnold the same chance, but it’s hard to see when that will be.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 34 - 2, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - Crowell had a tough time finding room to run during Thursday night’s game, but made up for it with a pair of touchdowns, which he then marred with an idiotic celebration on the second, drawing a penalty. His first touchdown was a nice run outside along the left side of the formation. Quarterback Sam Darnold
sold that he was going to keep the ball and a combination of solid blocking by the receivers and defensive players crashing too hard into the backfield left him with nobody between him and the end zone. His second touchdown was the result of more good blocking, including from backup center Jonotthan Harrison, who lined up in the backfield as a fullback and helped open up a fat running lane into the end zone. Crowell saw more carries than Bilal Powell
, though did less with them, and was targeted three times to Powell’s one, catching two.
RB Bilal Powell
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 73 - 0 (1 targets) - Every season it seems Bilal Powell
gets notched as the number two running back but then finds ways to perform like he’s the lead. Thursday night was another example of this, as Powell did more than Isaiah Crowell
with two fewer carries, showing good vision to find the lanes, decent speed and the grit to push for a couple of extra yards when needed. Crowell got the two scores, but Powell saw more green to run on. Interestingly, Powell saw only one target compared to Crowell’s three and didn’t catch it.
WR Quincy Enunwa
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 57 - 0 (8 targets) - The Jets’ plan to dink and dunk their way to victory didn’t work when Baker Mayfield
came in and torched the defense, but when it did work, Quincy Enunwa
was the reason. Enunwa took several screen passes and did a lot of damage after the catch. More than once, Enunwa caught a screen pass and bullied his way to a six or seven yard gain. His 57 yards were all on him, with some downfield blocking help from his fellow receivers.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (6 targets) - On the plus side, the Jets seemed to remember Jermaine Kearse
existed after all but ignoring him in Week 2. On the downside, he only caught three of his six targets and his impact is limited because the Jets won’t take Sam Darnold
’s training wheels off. Kearse is a decent receiver who isn’t being asked to do much and doesn’t seem to have much of a role on offense right now.
WR Robby Anderson
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (4 targets) - Anderson’s most impactful play was also, regrettably, his worst as he was stripped of the ball on the Jets’ 26-yard line. The Browns returned the ball to about the seven yard line. The Jets defense bailed him out, limiting the resulting damage to three points, but it does seem that between the Jets conservative offense and his inability to shake the coverage which comes from being the ostensible top target in the offense, his only impacts have been negative. This was his second fumble of the year.
WR Terrelle Pryor
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - A week after Pryor had 85 yards receiver he all but disappeared. Pryor was on the field for 70 percent of the Jets offensive snaps, but saw just three targets two of which weren’t great balls. He could be a red zone threat, but the Jets are ultra-conservative inside the 20s and frankly, given the way Pryor dogged a route in the end zone last week, which resulted in a pick, the Jets may be less concerned with rookie Sam Darnold
than they are with Pryor.
TE Eric Tomlinson
, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Like most Jets tight ends, Tomlinson is brought in as a blocker first and foremost. He did have a nice 14-yard catch in the third quarter but that was following a drive where his false start set the Jets back on to their 9 yard line.
QB Baker Mayfield
, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 23 - 201 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Cleveland fans couldn't have asked for a better debut from No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield
. Mayfield entered the game with 1:42 left in the second quarter after Tyrod Taylor
was concussed on a hit. He would have finished with a better stat line but he had at least three receivers drop catchable passes in just over two quarters of playing time. Mayfield instantly brought a spark to the offense, taking quick drops, making quick reads, and firing strikes on his passes. His first dropback was a bullet to Jarvis Landry
over the middle of the field, which he zipped between two defenders for a 14-yard gain. He followed that up with another completion to a diving David Njoku
. Mayfield did get a little lucky as he fumbled on a sack attempt during his first drive. Offensive guard Joel Bitonio was able to recover the fumble. Mayfield led his team to a field goal in the second quarter to get the scoring started. In the first drive of the third quarter, Mayfield showed great elusiveness to escape the pass rush. He scrambled to his right before hitting Duke Johnson
on the sideline for a first down. While Mayfield isn't fast, he showed awareness in the pocket and enough ability to escape to extend plays. On the second drive of the third quarter, Mayfield got lucky again as he almost threw an interception in the Jets' end zone. Mayfield targeted the middle of the end zone but didn't see the defender coming. The ball hit safety Doug Middleton in the hands but he couldn't secure the pick. On the third drive of the third quarter, Mayfield made a great downfield throw to Jarvis Landry
. Landry had two defenders on him and Mayfield put the ball where only his receiver could make the play. That pass put Cleveland on the one-yard line and led to a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Mayfield showed great touch on a deep pass to Antonio Callaway
, but Callaway dropped the catchable ball. Mayfield's skills on the football field represent an uptick for all of Cleveland's skill players. He is expected to be named the team's starter for the rest of the season early in the week.
QB Tyrod Taylor
, 31 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 14 - 19 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 22 - 0 - Taylor took a big step back in Thursday night's game against the Jets. Just four days after he played well against the Saints, the veteran quarterback played poorly against the Jets. All six of Taylor's offensive series ended in punts. Taylor struggled with his accuracy, took several big hits, and was sacked three times. He can't be blamed for all of the sacks as his offensive line was allowing defenders to get to him untouched throughout the first half. It came down to New York aggressively sending defenders after Taylor and daring him to beat them with his arm. He did rip off a 22-yard rush on the second drive where he did well to escape the pass rush. That was followed by a flea flicker which Taylor under threw to Jarvis Landry
. He did take an end zone shot to Antonio Callaway
on the drive which could have resulted in a touchdown. Callaway was tackled by a defender while the ball was in the air, but no interference flag was thrown, despite protests from the Browns and the home crowd. At the beginning of the second quarter, Taylor had Callaway wide open down the field but the ball was underthrown again. A better pass could have resulted in a score. On Taylor's final offensive series, he took a big hit and came up grabbing at his back. He then took a sack on third down where you could see his head hit the turf. He was removed from the game and later announced out with a concussion. Taylor is expected to be the team's backup to Baker Mayfield
in Week 4 and going forward.
RB Carlos Hyde
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 98 - 2, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - Hyde turned in his best game as a Cleveland Brown against the Jets in Week 3. The veteran running back got off to a slow start but got going with a nice 21-yard run at the end of the first quarter. He showed excellent vision with a nice cutback and followed his lead blocker for a big gain on the play. The insertion of Baker Mayfield
into the starting lineup also served to assist Hyde as the defense had to account for Mayfield's arm, which opened up running lanes for Hyde to exploit. Hyde continues to operate as the team's preferred option at the goal line. On the second drive of the third quarter, Hyde saw a red zone carry on 1st-and-goal at the eight-yard line. He was stuffed on the play. He bounced back on the next possession, ripping off an 11-yard carry and finishing off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. He showed a great second effort on the run to power his way over the goal line. Hyde was not finished there, however, as he came back in the fourth quarter to score again. At first, it appeared he had a 16-yard touchdown run but that was nullified by an illegal block in the back penalty against Jarvis Landry
. Hyde wound up getting his touchdown, anyway, as he powered in another one-yard score shortly after the penalty. The presence of Mayfield represents a positive for Hyde and his rest of season outlook.
RB Duke Johnson
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (2 targets) - Despite the Browns stating earlier in the week that they had to get Johnson more touches, he wound up with just two carries and two receptions in Week 3. He was on the field early in the game, but he didn't wind up seeing his first touch until the second offensive series in the second quarter. He ripped off an eight-yard gain on that run. In the fourth quarter, Johnson made a big 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-5. He wound up fumbling on the play while fighting for extra yards, but fortunately for him, Rashard Higgins
recovered. Johnson is one of Cleveland's most explosive playmakers but he remains an afterthought in the team's offense. Hopefully the insertion of Baker Mayfield
into the starting lineup will get him going.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 103 - 0 (15 targets) - Landry was slogging through a slow evening with Tyrod Taylor
under center, catching just one pass from the veteran in just under two quarters of play. Once rookie Baker Mayfield
entered the game, however, Landry came to life. He was on the receiving end of Mayfield's first NFL pass, a 14-yard completion over the middle. In the third quarter, Landry made the play of the game when he reached up to snare a 29-yard reception with two defenders draped all over him. He brought the ball down to New York's one-yard line. Landry also showed his passing skills as he completed a two-point conversion pass to Mayfield on a trick play. Landry did have a tough drop in the game as he let one of Mayfield's passes hit him in the chest and fall to the ground. That catchable pass would have gone for at least a nine-yard gain. On that same drive, Landry saw a red zone target, which he caught for a 12-yard gain, taking the ball to the Jets' eight-yard line. On 2nd-and-goal from the one-yard line, Landry caught a short shovel pass which went for no gain. Landry and Mayfield showed great chemistry together and should prove to be a productive duo going forward.
WR Antonio Callaway
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (10 targets) - Callaway finished with a pedestrian stat line but it could have been a much bigger day for the rookie. Callaway's 10 targets finished second on the team behind only Jarvis Landry
. The rookie proved that he is hard to cover, getting open with regularity against New York. On the team's first drive, Callaway got a step on the defense but Tyrod Taylor
's pass was underthrown on a deep shot. On the next drive, Callaway saw an end zone target but the defender ran into him before the ball got there. It looked like pass interference but no flag came from the officials on the play. At the beginning of the second quarter, Callaway got open deep again, but again was underthrown by Taylor. A better pass could have resulted in a touchdown. Callaway is operating as the clear No. 2 receiver in Cleveland's offense and should get plenty of looks going forward, although it appears he has a boom/bust element to his game. Cleveland is going to take some deep shots to him in most games; it will be up to him whether he reels them in or not.
WR Rashard Higgins
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (3 targets) - Higgins continues to work behind Antonio Callaway
as the Browns' No. 3 receiver. That being said, he made some big plays for his team in Week 3. Not targeted until the third quarter, Higgins caught a short five-yard pass and then later snared a high pass for a nine-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, he had a nice catch down the seam which went for 19 yards. Higgins showed awareness when he alertly scooped up a Duke Johnson
fumble in the fourth quarter.
TE David Njoku
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (2 targets) - Both of Njoku's targets came once Baker Mayfield
entered the game. He caught Mayfield's second pass attempt, making a nice adjustment to haul in a ball that was thrown a bit behind him. That play went for 17 yards. Njoku then had an excellent 19-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. The Browns have mostly focused on running the ball when they get close to the goal line, which has hurt Njoku, who profiles as one of the team's top red zone targets. He still has plenty of potential and the quarterback change to Mayfield should help him going forward.
Buffalo Bills 27, Minnesota Vikings 6
What you need to know
- Buffalo upset Minnesota on the road as a three-score underdog. Josh Allen
had his best performance of the season, flashing his athleticism as a runner to score twice, while getting another touchdown through the air. Chris Ivory
was the lead back with LeSean McCoy
missing the game with a rib injury and played well in both the running and receiving game. The passing game was low volume, with Jason Croom
scoring the lone touchdown and Kelvin Benjamin
the most targeted receiver in a game where he struggled.
- After an epic comeback for a tie last week against division rival Green Bay, the Vikings welcomed a Buffalo team to town that had been blown out the first two games of the season. Then Dalvin Cook
was ruled out with a bad hamstring, and Everson Griffin due to a bad knee. Everyone was still confident that the Vikings would win comfortably at home with all of the other offensive weapons they had. Buffalo then managed to pull off the third biggest upset at +17 in the NFL in the past 23 years. Nothing went right for the Vikings. Cousins threw the ball 55 times for almost 300 yards but did not find the end zone until late when the game was already well out of hand. The rushing attack only ran the ball 6 times as the Vikings were in catch up mode the entire game. This was supposed to be any easy game, but Josh Allen
and company made it anything but. Maybe the Vikings were already looking ahead and thought they would walk all over the lowly Bills. A Bills team that was missing their top player in LeSean McCoy
due to injury. The Vikings travel to Los Angeles for a tough matchup against the Rams on Thursday night for their week 4 matchup.
QB Josh Allen
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 22 - 196 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 10 - 39 - 2 - Josh Allen
has his best day as a professional quarterback winning at Minnesota. Allen demonstrated the appeal that led the Bills to select him with the seventh overall pick. Allen ran for two touchdowns, the first getting the corner on a red zone scramble while the second was a plunge over the line. Allen also had a wide-open look for a passing touchdown, hitting Jason Croom
down the numbers for an easy 26-yard touchdown pass on a faked screen. Allen also showed his athleticism with a highlight hurdle of Anthony Barr in the open field. Allen struggled with pressure and made some bad decisions, but the game against Minnesota showed some of his promise.
RB Chris Ivory
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 56 - 0, Rec: 3 - 70 - 0 (4 targets) - Chris Ivory
held the lead back role in relief of an injured LeSean McCoy
. Ivory was used in both the running and passing game, running with power and showed capability to get yards after contact. Ivory’s big play was a scramble drill where Ivory released out of the backfield and got a long runway down the sideline. Much of Marcus Murphy
’s workload was in gadget type plays, so Ivory should continue the lead workload if McCoy misses additional time.
RB Marcus Murphy
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 33 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Marcus Murphy
was the clear backup to Chris Ivory
with LeSean McCoy
missing the game. Murphy was not a threat to Ivory’s work as a lead back during the game. He worked to spell Ivory at times, but his primary usage was in gadget type roles. Murphy was used on a couple of screens, an option run, and on jet sweep motion type plays.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - Kelvin Benjamin
was inconsistent on Sunday against Minnesota. He had two early drops, including a red zone slant that would have set up Buffalo with a first and goal inside the five-yard line. He was better later in the game, including a good back shoulder throw. Benjamin has struggled recently with drops, but Josh Allen
has continued to look his way in the passing game.
WR Zay Jones
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (1 targets) - Zay Jones
caught his only target, a dig route across the middle. Jones was off the field in favor of Robert Foster
and Ray-Ray McCloud
at times during the game.
WR Robert Foster
, 22 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Robert Foster
was held without a catch but saw two deep targets. He was underthrown on a post and later overthrown on a deep go route where he had a step on his defender.
TE Charles Clay
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Charles Clay
caught two early passes, including a tight end screen. Clay is not getting a lot of opportunities in the passing game, because of low passing volume and additional usage of Jason Croom
in the passing game.
TE Jason Croom
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 26 - 1 (1 targets) - Jason Croom
scored a touchdown on his only target. The play was a fake screen where his defender jumped into the backfield allow Croom to slip up the numbers for an easy touchdown. Croom has been used as an ancillary receiver thus far in the season, but the usage is notably high leverage. The target was specifically designed for Croom and was designed to be a big play, with Croom the intended target instead of starter Charles Clay
QB Kirk Cousins
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 40 - 55 - 296 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0 - This was the Cousins that Redskins fans remember. A quarterback that can move the ball down the field but not get it into the end zone. A quarterback that will turn the ball over at key times in the game and put his team in a hole they cannot climb out of. After back to back great games, Cousins put up a real dud for the Vikings. He may have had almost 300 yards and a touchdown, but he also put the ball on the ground 3 times and threw an interception. He tried to force the ball to Stefon Diggs
but did not have any luck. The only receiver he seemed to be in sync with was Thielen, but he has been allergic to the end zone for the past two years. Cousins salvaged a big of fantasy value with a late touchdown to Rudolph. The pass was thrown into traffic in the direction of Rudolph who had run a comeback route. The Bills thought he had put the ball on the ground, but after a replay review the touchdown was confirmed. They then tried to connect on a two-point conversion on a very similar play, but the try failed. Cousins did not have any luck looking for Diggs or Thielen underneath and was unsuccessful every time he took a shot down the field. He put the ball on the ground 3 times and lost 2 of the fumbles. He was also sacked 4 times for a loss of 18 yards. The interception was a short check down pass over the middle to Latavius Murray
where a big hit dislodged the ball and was caught by a diving linebacker. It was not a drop or a bad throw, but instead a great hit put on by the Bills. Cousins will have his work cut out for him next week against a revamped Rams defense in what could be the preview of a playoff matchup later in the year.
RB Latavius Murray
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0, Rec: 5 - 30 - 0 (7 targets) - This was supposed to be Murrays chance to prove that he still had something left in the tank and could be a starter somewhere in the NFL. Unfortunately, the game script ruined that, and Murray only rushed 2 times the entire game. The entire Vikings rush offense only ran the ball 6 times as they trailed the entire game. Murray played a small role in the passing game despite being targeted 7 times. One of those fateful targets resulted in an interception. Cousins checked the ball down to Murray who had leaked out of the back field. The ball hit him right in the chest, but so did the middle linebackers for Buffalo. The ball shot up in the air and was intercepted by a diving defender. This play was by no fault of Murray or even Cousins, but rather a great defensive play by the Bills. Dalvin Cook
is expected to play next week against the Rams and it looks like it will be a short tenure for Murray as the Vikings starter this week. If Cook's hamstring still bothers him and he is unable to go, Murray still is not a great play against a Rams defense the boasts one of the best lines in the NFL.
WR Adam Thielen
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 14 - 105 - 0 (19 targets) - The Bills defense did a great job shutting down Diggs and were happy to leave Thielen open underneath all game long. They were not worried about him breaking a big play for a touchdown and allowed him to run free at the linebacker level. Thielen pulled in 14 of his 19 targets and only had a single play over 15 yards. He broke one deep out route for 19 yards but was pushed out of bounds before he could do any extra damage. The defense was content doubling Diggs on the outside and would give Thielen the short underneath routes. He managed over 100-yards receiving, but that was mostly due to the volume of targets and not big plays. Thielen has lived up to the hype of last season but still cannot seem to find the end zone. If he can ever start to capitalize on teams giving help over the top to Diggs, then he will be really dangerous the rest of the season.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 17 - 0 (10 targets) - Cousins and Diggs just did not have it this week. After connecting on big plays, the first 2 weeks of the year, the QB/WR duo could not get anything going this week. Diggs was targeted 10 times but outstanding coverage from the Bills and an ineffective Cousins made it tough for Diggs to get anything going. Their longest play of the game was 7 yards and Diggs was outgained by 7 other Viking players this week. This is a far cry from the 100+ yards and a touchdown that Diggs has averaged so far this season. The blanket coverage on Diggs did open things up for Thielen underneath but it was not enough for the Vikings to score or really get anything going on offense all game. Diggs will look to rebound against a tough Rams secondary next week on Thursday night.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 48 - 1 (6 targets) - It was a tough game for all of the Viking skill players, but at least Rudolph was able to find the end zone. He was the only player that got a chance around the goal line and he cashed in this week. The pass was a short 4-yard out route where Rudolph worked his way back to the ball. Cousins' pass was low, and Rudolph went to the ground to catch it. The Bills thought he had dropped the ball or at least not completed the catch to the ground. The play was eventually reviewed and upheld. Cousins then targeted Rudolph on the ensuing 2-point conversion, but the attempt failed. Rudolph had one other 17-yard catch up the seam, but no Viking player had a play over 20 yards this week. It was a disappointing week all around in Minnesota, but Rudolph managed to walk away with a touchdown.
Indianapolis Colts 16, Philadelphia Eagles 20
What you need to know
- The Colts offense was highly inefficient against the Eagles. Early in the game the Eagles seemed to have a good sense for how the Colts short passing game operates. The Eagles were able to get their hands on underneath passes and showed they were not scared of the Colts deep passing game. Luck's meager yards per attempt were boosted by their two final possessions when the Colts were trying to score with limited time remaining. Luck faced frequent pressure against the Eagles talented defensive front. TY Hilton drew two pass interference calls for 51 yards and had 2 targets inside the 5 yard line. Eric Ebron
was peppered with targets but struggled to make contested catches. With Marlon Mack
missing the game the committee of Nyheim Hines
and Jordan Wilkins
- There were no baby steps for incorporating Carson Wentz
back into the offense slowly against the Colts. Wentz was in empty formations on the first drive and delivering intermediate passes. Even without their top two running backs in Jay Ajayi
and Darren Sproles
, Philadelphia backs surpassed 30 carries and 140 yards. There was no clarity with a true foundation back; however, as Corey Clement
continued to play some special teams and Wendell Smallwood
amassed 13 touches and even Josh Adams
saw six rushes from his practice squad promotion. Dallas Goedert
had a breakout game, outshining starter Zach Ertz
, making plays down the seam and securing Wentz’s lone touchdown pass.
QB Andrew Luck
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 40 - 164 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 33 - 0 - Luck absorbed a sack on the Colts opening possession unable to find anyone open downfield. Luck was hit as he threw on the Colts ensuing possession forcing another 3 and out. Luck and the Colts put together a scoring drive on their third possession in large part due to a 33 yard pass interference penalty that was the result of an underthrown pass to TY Hilton downfield. Luck capped the drive with a nice throw to the corner of the end zone for a 5 yard touchdown. Luck escaped the pocket and scrambled for 33 yards on 3rd and 9. Luck evaded the rush and found TY Hilton downfield for 29 yards. Luck was nearly intercepted targeting Hilton downfield a few plays later. The pass was lofted into the air downfield. Luck had 4 catchable touchdowns fall incomplete, two to Chester Rogers
and two to Eric Ebron
forcing three field red zone field goals. Trailing by 4 Luck moved the Colts into scoring position with a pass interference penalty and a 22 yard completion to Ryan Grant
. The drive ended with a quick 4th down sack by Derek Barnett. Luck gave way to Jacoby Brissett
for one final Hail Mary showing Luck's arm strength is likely not where it needs to be.
RB Nyheim Hines
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0, Rec: 5 - 25 - 0 (5 targets) - Nyheim Hines
played second fiddle to Jordan Wilkins
as a runner but saw significant work later in the game as a receiver. Hines made a few nice plays in open space but likely won't see the volume needed to be a fantasy contributor barring another injury.
RB Jordan Wilkins
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 19 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Jordan Wilkins
struggled to find room to run against the Eagles. Wilkins is clearly behind Nyheim Hines
in passing situations but is the runner the Colts trust most between the tackles.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (10 targets) - TY Hilton made a 5 yard catch running a curl on the Colts first offensive play. Hilton picked up 7 yards running a quick out route. Hilton beat Jalen Mills deep and drew a 33 yard pass interference penalty on an underthrown pass from Luck. Hilton was targeted on a quick throw inside the 5 yard line but the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Hilton made a 29 yard catch working to the sideline as Luck extended the play. Hilton again beat Mills downfield and drew an 18 yard pass interference penalty. Hilton gained 8 yards running a comeback route. Hilton was targeted on fade route in the end zone but the pass was slightly over thrown.
WR Ryan Grant
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 1 (5 targets) - Ryan Grant
made a nice effort to pick up 8 yards and a conversion on 3rd and 8. Grant beat Ronald Darby on a fade route for a 5 yard touchdown. Grant picked up 22 yards running an in route.
WR Chester Rogers
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (4 targets) - Chester Rogers
made an 8 yard catch over the middle running a curl. Rogers had a potential 17 yard touchdown go through his hands. The ensuing possession Rogers had a potential 27 yard touchdown hit him in the hands but he could not make the catch. Rogers made a 6 yard catch running a curl over the middle.
TE Eric Ebron
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 33 - 0 (11 targets) - Eric Ebron
picked up 4 yards running a curl on his first reception of the game. Eric Ebron
picked up 6 yards on a check down in the flat from Luck. Ebron was again targeted in the end zone on the same route he scored on against the Bengals but the pass was broken up by Jalen Mills. Ebron racked up 3 catches for 23 yards in what was essentially garbage time.
QB Carson Wentz
, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 37 - 255 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0 - Wentz made his 2018 season debut in Week 3 against the Colts. There were no training wheels or restrictions on Wentz from the opening snap as Wentz was bold with his throws to the intermediate zones of the field and he worked from empty sets and eluded pass rushers. Wentz led the offense straight down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive, highlighted by a third down slant to Zach Ertz
and red zone seam route to a wide open Dallas Goedert
for the score. Two specific plays against pressure tested Wentz’s knee and overall mobility in the first half. Both times Wentz eluded the first defender and on the first delivered a strike to Goedert and on the second scrambled for a first down. While the game started with an outstanding opening drive, the second half showed a sputtering Eagles passing game and rust from Wentz overall. Wentz stared down Ertz for his lone interception and added a lost fumble and stalled red zone drive resulting in a field goal, all contributing to the game still being in doubt until the final moments.
RB Corey Clement
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 56 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - With Jay Ajayi
and Darren Sproles
out against the Colts, Clement projected for a strong workload. He ended up with 19 touches, but the opening drives featured plenty of snaps from Wendell Smallwood
and Clement looked to be a full-on committee. Clement remained on special teams, but was the clear better running back as he was the hurry-up back and broke three chunk runs breaking tackles along the way. Clement also had a 20-yard rush called back by penalty. Clement was in for one red zone drive but did not have any strong opportunities for a touchdown in the game. Even with a trimmed depth chart, Clement was in a heavy rotation with Smallwood and lacked clarity on his role beyond of a healthy mix of both backs atop the depth chart.
RB Wendell Smallwood
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 56 - 1, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (5 targets) - Smallwood saw a substantial increase in snaps and touches with Jay Ajayi
and Darren Sproles
out of the lineup against Indianapolis. Smallwood was on the field before Corey Clement
, running for two chunk gains on the opening drive. Smallwood lacks the tackle-breaking ability of Clement, relying more on a well-defined running lane or merely pushing the pile for his success. Smallwood was left along down the seam for his notable reception and churned in for a goal line touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the Eagles’ lone scoring chance for a running back in the game. On the positive note for Smallwood, Clement was not the clear starter over Smallwood, but the backfield did lack clarity either way for a true lead back in how they were deployed against the Colts.
WR Nelson Agholor
, 80 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 24 - 0 (5 targets) - Agholor had another clear run of wide receiver targets with Alshon Jeffery
yet to return to the lineup against the Colts. However, Agholor did not collect his typical short-range targets as previous weeks. Agholor did not see a target until the mid-second quarter and his lone deep target was tipped away. Agholor was held in check after the catch, including a screen opportunity. On the plus side, Agholor showed physicality by churning through contact for two third down conversions. Accounting for 14% of the targets is a discouraging sign with Dallas Goedert
emerging in prominence this week and Alshon Jeffery
likely to return in the next few weeks.
TE Dallas Goedert
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 73 - 1 (7 targets) - The rookie tight end enjoyed his best NFL game to-date against the Colts, Carson Wentz
’s return to the lineup. Goedert showed a variety of skills over his team-leading seven receptions, including a wide open seam touchdown and high-pointing a Wentz fast ball on another catch. Goedert’s involvement in the offense is encouraging considering their lack of wide receiver production with Alshon Jeffery
out of the lineup and Wentz’s ability to raise the tide of the passing game. Goedert and Zach Ertz
combined for 46% of the targets this week in a tight end-centric attack.
TE Zach Ertz
, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 73 - 0 (10 targets) - Ertz was peppered with early-game targets from Carson Wentz
. Ertz left production on the field with a drop plus drawing a defensive pass interference penalty. One development worth tracking is Dallas Goedert
’s breakout game and use in the red zone as Ertz has been a weak touchdown scorer in his career to-date. Ertz was active down the seam with two chunk plays, but if Goedert’s involvement maintains this level, Ertz’s weekly upside stands to take a hit especially once Alshon Jeffery
Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
What you need to know
- Like so many games to start the season, the Steelers were down early in the first quarter. After a first quarter interception by Ben Roethlisberger
the Steelers and a quick touchdown by the Buccaneers the Steelers went on a tear outscoring the Buccaneers 24-3 in the second quarter. Another familiar pattern for that Steelers is abandoning the run too early. The Steelers only had nine rush attempts at half time. In typical Steelers fashion the second half play calling made the game much closer than it needed to be. In fact, the Steelers almost duplicated their Week 1 performance against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers allowed 17 unanswered points and the Buccaneers were within three points of tying the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay fell behind early and couldn't quite recover from a terrible 2nd half that saw Fitzpatrick throw 3 interceptions on 3 consecutive pass attempts. CB Justin Evans jumped a Roethlisberger pass for an impressive interception in the 1st quarter. Tampa Bay kicker Catanzaro was perfect 2/2 on field goals and 3/3 on extra points. QB Jameis Winston
will be available next Sunday against the Bears.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 38 - 353 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - -1 - 0 - Roethlisberger started Week 3 slowly. His first possession ended with a three and out and his second possession ended on an interception was picked off. The rest of the first half Roethlisberger was on target. Ben Roethlisberger
finished the two-minute drill 8-9 for 74 yards and a touchdown. The scoring drive was capped by a short pass to Ryan Switzer
. After half time Roethlisberger only had 13 more pass attempts and struggled to sustain drives. At the end of the day the stats look good, but Ben is still missing his on deep targets (1-4 on targets of 30-yards or more).
RB James Conner
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 61 - 0, Rec: 5 - 34 - 0 (6 targets) - The running lanes were there. The offensive line was getting good push and each time Conner touched the ball he was showing the ability to get to his spot quickly and turn upfield. With two minutes left in the second quarter Conner had an 18-yard reception keeping the Steelers scoring drive alive. In a close game in the fourth quarter and down three the Steelers trusted Conner to be their closer in the waning minutes. Conner had runs of 27 and 9 yards in the fourth quarter and totaled 48 yards rushing in the second half.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 116 - 0 (11 targets) - JuJu was again Roethlisberger's go-to-receiver for the second week in a row and spent a lot of his time working out of the slot. Smith-Schuster caught a shallow crossing route against zone coverage for a big gain. During the last two minutes of the first half JuJu caught two passes and almost a third for a touchdown. The almost touchdown grab was broken up by the defender.
WR Antonio Brown
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 50 - 1 (9 targets) - Brown's highlight catch of the day was on a smoke route reception from Ben Roethlisberger
. Brown caught the ball, made a defender miss, and destroyed the angle of an oncoming defender. During the last two minutes of the first half Brown helped sustain the drive with a toe tap catch and drew a DPI in the endzone with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
TE Vance McDonald
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 112 - 1 (5 targets) - Almost all of McDonald's production came on one play. The play itself was simple outward breaking route by Vance McDonald
. McDonald threw the defender to the ground and scored a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 50 - 411 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 27 - 0 - Fitzpatrick loaded up a whopping 50 pass attempts after the Bucs fell behind early in the game. He took a physical beating throughout the contest, drawing several legitimate roughing the passer penalties. After an offensive false start in the 3rd, an unblocked defender plowed through the line and drove him to the ground. Fitzpatrick found Brate in the 1st quarter for his first touchdown. After Peyton Barber
ran the ball down inside the Steelers 5, Fitzy faked a handoff to Barber in a goal line set and found Brate wide open in the back of the end zone for an easy touchdown. Fitzpatrick's first interception wasn't his fault. Tampa Bay had driven deep into Pittsburgh territory and Fitzy was looking for another score when a free rushing linebacker tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, deflecting it to another defender. Fitzpatrick's second interception(on the very next drive) was definitely on him, as he overthrew Mike Evans
badly on a corner route, putting the ball right into a defender's numbers. Fitzpatrick's woes continued, as he threw a pick-six over the head of Jacquizz Rodgers
on the next drive, making it 3 interceptions in the 2nd quarter. Working mainly from the shotgun, Fitzpatrick and the offense battled back in the 2nd half, settling for a couple of field goals before scoring two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. After driving deep into Pittsburgh territory, Fitzpatrick lobbed a jump ball up for Godwin in the back left corner of the end zone, and the second year receiver made a nice leaping catch for the score. Later in the 4th quarter, Fitzpatrick found Evans in the back corner of the end zone after the receiver used a nice double move to separate himself from his defender. The Bucs unfortunately could not close the gap and watched Pittsburgh run the clock out with a 3 point lead. Fitzpatrick was also the Bucs' second leading rusher, piling up 27 yards on the ground and extending several more plays with his feet. Fitz's longest run was a nice 17 yard scamper to extend a 4th quarter drive.
RB Peyton Barber
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 33 - 0 (2 targets) - Barber had some success up the middle in the 1st quarter. He nearly scored on an 18 yard run, but was tripped up by a defender inside the Steelers 5 yard line. The Bucs faked a play action to Barber on the next play and scored with a pass to Brate. Barber got another goal line carry from the 5 at the end of the 2nd quarter, but he couldn't punch it in. The Bucs quickly fell behind and Barber was essentially phased out by the game plan, as he logged a few more carries to keep the defense honest on the play-action deep balls that Fitzpatrick was lobbing downfield for Evans and Godwin. Barber got once more goal line carry from the 4 yard line in the 2nd half, but couldn't punch it in. He was targeted twice on checkdown passes, but could not secure either target.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Rodgers saw minimal action in relief of Barber, as the Tampa Bay offense was forced to take shots downfield after falling behind early. Rodgers had a couple of targets in the 4th quarter. His biggest play was a checkdown pass that he took for 11 yards.
RB Shaun Wilson
, 3 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Wilson caught a short dumpoff pass out of the backfield in the 3rd quarter for his first touch of the day. Wilson split out to the left wide receiver position later in the same drive, catching a bubble screen for a short gain on the same kind of play the Bucs used to call for RB Charles Sims
WR Mike Evans
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 137 - 1 (11 targets) - Evans led the team in targets again with 11, consistently shaking defenders and getting open deep downfield for big gains. He hauled in a deep ball up the right seam in the 1st quarter for his first reception of the day. He split out wide left and got wide open on a deep crossing route early in the 2nd quarter, piling up yards after the catch for a big gain. The highlight of Evans' day was an amazing 51 yard grab down the left sideline at the end of the 2nd quarter. Fitzy loaded up a bomb and Evans made a beautiful catch in stride right between two defenders. Fitzpatrick found him early in the 3rd quarter on a comeback route up the left sideline. Fitzpatrick looked to Evans in the end zone with a 40+ yard bomb in the 4th, but the receiver was tripped up by incidental contact in the end zone. Two plays later, Evans put a beautiful double move on his defender, faking outside then taking the route deep, where Fitzpatrick found him in the back corner of the end zone.
WR Chris Godwin
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 74 - 1 (10 targets) - Godwin piled up 10 targets, second only to Evans, and found paydirt for the third game in a row. His day started out shaky as he dropped a 3rd down conversion on the first drive of the game, but he took a hard hit while trying to secure the pass. Godwin killed a 2nd quarter drive with a bad fumble. He started to turn his day around halfway through the 2nd with a big catch up the seam that converted 3rd and 14. Godwin nearly had a touchdown at the end of the 2nd quarter, but he dropped the ball as he was driven to the ground by a couple of defenders. Later in the 3rd quarter, Godwin made an amazing diving catch on a post route, and nearly had another touchdown, but Pittsburgh challenged that Godwin had been downed by contact before getting up and sprinting for the touchdown. Godwin caught a WR screen later in the same series and weaved his way down the left sideline to convert 3rd and long. Fitzpatrick found Godwin in the back of the end zone with a jump ball in the 4th quarter, making it 3 straight weeks Godwin has found the end zone.
WR Adam Humphries
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Humphries worked his usual short and intermediate routes from the slot position. He caught a swing pass from the right slot for a short gain in the 1st quarter. Fitzpatrick hit him again for a short gain on a curl route in the 2nd quarter. Humphries' biggest gain was 16 yard reception from the left slot on an out route that he took inside the Pittsburgh 5 yard line.
WR DeSean Jackson
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (5 targets) - Jackson finally cooled off after a hot start in the first two weeks. Fitzpatrick targeted him 5 times, and couldn't connect on any big plays as Evans stole the show. Djax didn't secure a catch until early in the 3rd quarter when he hauled in a curl route from the left receiver spot. Jackson caught a 17 yard post route at the end of the 3rd quarter for this biggest gain of the day. Fitzpatrick looked for him in the end zone on a deep ball the very next play, but Djax couldn't get under it. Jackson housed a punt for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, but the play was called back for holding.
TE O.J. Howard
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 72 - 0 (8 targets) - Howard drew 8 targets on the day and secured 6 of them, but it was fellow TE Cameron Brate
(4 targets) who found the end zone this week. Howard lined up with his hand in the dirt and worked his way open on a curl route, finding room to run after the catch for a 13 yard gain in the 1st. Howard made another strong catch with a defender draped over his back on a curl route later in the quartert. Fitzpatrick hit him for a short gain late in the 4th, then found him up the middle for big gain on the very next play. Howard caught another short curl route later in the 4th and juked a couple of defenders for a nifty run after the catch.
TE Cameron Brate
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 1 (4 targets) - After an 18 yard Peyton Barber
run put Bucs inside the Steelers 5 yard line in the 1st quarter, Fitzpatrick faked a play action to Barber in a goal line set, and Brate leaked into the end zone where he was wide open under the goal post for an easy score. Brate stretched the field with a nice 21 yard gain on a deep post later in the 1st quarter. Brate had to fully extend for the pass, but still managed to deliver a blow to his defender as he secured the pass and came back down to earth. Brate hauled in an out route for a short gain early in the 4th quarter, his last reception of the day. Brate drew 4 targets to OJ Howards' 8.
Chicago Bears 16, Arizona Cardinals 14
What you need to know
- The Bears continue to find a way to win this season, even if it was not pretty. The offense looks lost and does not have any sense of identity right now. Mitchell Trubisky
is still making rookie mistakes and is not finishing drives with touchdowns. The rushing attack got going this week and combined for more than 100 yards rushing, but Jordan Howard
seemed to hit a wall of defenders more times than not in an effort to get there. The only saving grace in Chicago right now is the defense and Khalil Mack. The defense had 3 interceptions, a fumble recovery, and 4 sacks (2 from Mack). Arizona switched quarterbacks mid-way through the game but Josh Rosen
could not save them from an 0-3 start. The defense is not going to be able to mask the poor play of Trubisky forever, but the Bears are one bad half of football away from a 3-0 start. The NFC North leading Bears take on a hot Tampa Bay team next week at home.
- Arizona’s offensive awoke from his two-game siesta for an early-game lead against the Bears. The momentum was short-lived however as Sam Bradford
morphed into a turnover machine. So much so that Josh Rosen
came in with four minutes to play and Arizona down by two points – not for injury, but Bradford gave the team minimal chance to win as Arizona floundered after the opening possessions. David Johnson
continued to struggle on the ground for the passing-challenged offense and fortunately added a touchdown reception. Josh Rosen
flashed a handful of promising throws in the closing minutes and Christian Kirk
had his best game of his young career as two developing talents on an otherwise stagnant Arizona offense.
QB Mitchell Trubisky
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 35 - 220 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0 - This was not a pretty game for Trubisky, but that has been the theme thus far this season. He is doing just enough to keep his team in the game and their elite defense has pushed them over the top. Trubisky did not throw a touchdown this week but did throw an interception around mid-field with about a minute left in the first half. He started down Benny Cunningham
and it was an easy read for Tre Boston to step in front of the pass. Trubisky did find Allen Robinson
on a 39-yard pass deep down the right sideline. This helped setup an eventual 1-yard touchdown plunge by Jordan Howard
. Trubisky had one other nice pass to Try Burton. The 25-yard pass to Burton helped setup the first field goal of the day for the Bears. Trubisky put Chicago behind the 8 ball this week and almost made the deficit too big to mount the comeback. He should be thankful that his defense created 4 turnovers and gave them the chance to win the game.
RB Jordan Howard
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 61 - 1, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - With the defense not respecting Trubisky's ability to throw the ball down the field, Howard was running against a stacked box most of the game. He carried the ball a team high 24 times but was never truly able to break free. Tarik Cohen
found more success behind him on almost 1/5 of the carries. Howard did have a 17-yard scamper for a first down and a 1-yard touchdown plunge right up the middle to highlight his day. It is going to be hard to get anything going for until Trubisky starts to make better decisions and make the defense respect his ability to throw the ball down the field. Howard did chip in a 13-yard catch out of the back field for a 1st down but did not play a major role in the passing game otherwise.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 53 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Jordan Howard
ran into a wall of defenders time and time again this week and that helped to soften things up for Cohen. The longest play of the day on the ground came from Cohen after he took the ball off the right end for 21 yards before being pushed out of bounds. This helped get the Bears into field goal range, but after a bad sack Cody Parker missed the 46-yard field goal. Cohen was targeted 3 times in the passing game as well but did not do much with those receptions. Jordan Howard
will continue to get the bulk share of the carries throughout the season and Cohen should remain in the 8-10 touches per game range.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 34 - 0 (10 targets) - In an effort to get Trubisky going and to feel more comfortable, the coaching staff called several quick hitting plays and highlighted the ability of Gabriel. He led the team with 10 targets but only hauled in 6 of them. Trubisky never found a groove after these easy completions and Gabriel could not turn them into bigger plays. HE averaged just under 6 yards per catch and only had one reception go for 10+ yards. Arizona's defense was not overbearing by any means, but Trubisky could not make anything happen through the air. Gabriel is a boom or bust candidate for the Bears and they will have to try and utilize his speed better if they want him to fall on the boom side of that spectrum.
WR Allen Robinson
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 50 - 0 (7 targets) - The big off-season addition to the Bears secondary cannot seem to get anything going yet. He is dealing with a very inconsistent second year quarterback and has had to learn an entirely new system. Robinson was targeted 7 times but only pulled in 3 of those targets. He did have the longest play of game for the Bears with a 39-yard reception down the right sideline. Trubisky put the ball just over the outside shoulder of Robinson and setup Chicago's lone touchdown of the game. Robinson is by far the top receiving option for the Bears, but he is going to need better quarterback play to reach that potential. A matchup against a resurgent Tampa Bay team next week could be a high scoring affair and may lead to more opportunity for Robinson.
TE Trey Burton
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 55 - 0 (5 targets) - It is very rare that a tight end not named Gronkowski or Kelce leads their team in receiving yards. However, that is exactly what happened this week for the Bears and Burton. The Bears offense really struggled to move the ball, especially in the first half, and no receiver really stepped up to bail out Trubisky. Burton led the team with his 55 yards and had 1 catch go for 25 that helped set up the team's first field goal of the day. Do not expect Burton to lead the team in receiving yards again this season unless Trubisky continues to struggle to move the ball.
QB Sam Bradford
, 37 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 19 - 157 - 2 TD / 2 INT - After two poor games to open the season, this week against Chicago got off to an ideal start with two early touchdowns. Bradford hit Christian Kirk
on third down and capped a drive with a wide open Ricky Seals-Jones
on a corner route touchdown. Minutes later and staked in scoring range from a turnover, Bradford hit David Johnson
for another score. The offensive explosion was short-lived as Bradford had a sack-fumble on third down and then a sack on third down with the team on the edge of field goal range to thwart another drive. Bradford threw a long interception in the vicinity of J.J. Nelson
and another turnover came on a low throw into double coverage. The turnovers continued with a lost fumble as Bradford uncharacteristically decided to scramble in field goal range. Bradford was benched in favor of Josh Rosen
with four minutes to play and Arizona trailing by two points. Rosen flashed a few promising throws and Bradford’s time under center may have ended with three straight uninspiring games to open the season.
QB Josh Rosen
, 13 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 7 - 36 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0 - Rosen saw his regular season debut begin with four minutes left in the game and Arizona trailing by two points to Chicago. While close on the scoreboard, starter Sam Bradford
had floundered since the opening minutes of the game and racing to an early lead. Rosen had two stick throws on his opening drive, one a laser to Jermaine Gresham
and another to Christian Kirk
on a comeback route. Rosen was hit as he started his delivery, resulting in a fourth down interception. With one last chance, Rosen was sacked to end any opportunity for a comeback. With Sam Bradford
showing little through three games, Rosen projects as the likely starter going forward.
RB David Johnson
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 30 - 1 (4 targets) - Johnson was discussed as the ‘squeaky wheel’ during the week by the Arizona coaching staff to need more touches and passing game involvement. Despite a close game throughout against the Bears, Johnson had 16 touches. It was tough sledding for Johnson as a runner with his most pronounced run being a mere nine yards. As a receiver, however, Johnson had two highlight moments. The first was a corner route for a touchdown as Johnson beat a linebacker with ease. The other was a swing reception and Johnson beat three defenders after the catch for more than 10 yards. Sadly, Johnson’s 16 touches are a season-high thus far as Arizona has struggled to maintain drives, venture into the red zone with any frequency, and involve Johnson much as a receiver. One promising note is Arizona may move forward with Josh Rosen
under center after Sam Bradford
’s three straight games of lackluster results.
RB Chase Edmonds
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 10 - 0 - For the third straight game Edmonds saw at least five touches as David Johnson
’s primary backup. Edmonds did not see snaps until the second quarter, but did grind out a third-and-short conversion on his best play of the game. Edmonds projects as a high-snap player if David Johnson
were to miss time.
WR Christian Kirk
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 90 - 0 (8 targets) - While Arizona is 0-3, lost an early lead against Chicago, and faces a needed quarterback change, one bright spot was Kirk enjoying a career day. Kirk doubled the targets of any other Arizona player and nearly three times the yardage. Kirk succeeded on a variety of routes, including a comeback, seam, crosser, hitch, in-cut, and out route covering much of the route tree in the process. With Josh Rosen
likely under center going forward, Kirk is the young receiver to develop a long-lasting chemistry as focal points of the offense.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Fitzgerald struggled against Chicago, corralling two short targets in the game as Christian Kirk
enjoyed a breakout performance. Sam Bradford
did little to help Fitzgerald with his own lackluster game, but Fitzgerald struggled to separate on short and intermediate routes over the middle of the field as his physical erosion continues in his mid-30s.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 35 - 1 (3 targets) - Seals-Jones had a single catch against the Bears, a wide open corner route touchdown in the opening minutes as Arizona sprinted out to an early lead. It was a coverage bust as Seals-Jones burst to the end zone without a defender in the area. Seals-Jones also logged a drop in the game. Jermaine Gresham
’s return to the lineup softens Seals-Jones’ target upside as another viable tight end presence.
Dallas Cowboys 13, Seattle Seahawks 24
What you need to know
- After showing some signs of life against the Giants in Week 2, the Cowboys were back to their futile Week 1 selves in the sound defeat at Seattle. While Ezekiel Elliott
came to life with 138 total yards, the passing game was a clear limitation for a third straight week. There is no outside wide receiver presence and the offensive line is struggling to protect Dak Prescott
on obvious passing downs as he searches for a receiver with separation. If there was a flickering bright spot through the air, it was tight end Geoff Swaim
, who showed some consistency as a short-to-intermediate target to function as a security blanket for Prescott.
- The struggling Seahawks showed some life in their home opener. A drastically changed game plan that emphasized quick reads on passing plays, alternating with a healthy dose of smash mouth football, seemed to pay dividends as the game progressed. Russell Wilson
, the runner, has barely registered a blip on the radar this season, but he found a lot of success in the shotgun and sometimes hurry up offense, utilizing short dropbacks and quick reads to his advantage. Chris Carson
was the clear lead back against the Cowboys, with a volume-induced 102 yards on the ground. Once again, the only receiver worthy of any fantasy attention was Tyler Lockett
, and even his overall fantasy production was touchdown dependent.
QB Dak Prescott
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 34 - 168 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 21 - 0 - Prescott struggled from the outset against Seattle. The game plan was conservative and Prescott struggled to maintain any drives. Prescott was off-target on his first notable downfield attempt, a deep out towards Michael Gallup
and misfired on another third down even though he eludes a rusher to keep the play alive. Dallas did not cross midfield until the mid-second quarter. Prescott totaled a mere 40 passing yards and an interception in the first half. Already down by multiple touchdowns, Prescott showed faint signs of life in the second half with a third down conversion to Allen Hurns
into field goal range, but it quickly vanquished with a third down sack in the red down. Dallas struggled throughout the game protecting Prescott on obvious passing downs. In pure catch-up mode in the fourth quarter, Prescott led a touchdown drive, but the momentum was short lived as Prescott pressed the envelope with a throw into middle-of-the-field traffic, which was tipped and intercepted to cease any comeback effort.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 127 - 0, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (8 targets) - On paper Elliott enjoyed he best game of the season to-date with 138 total yards on 19 touches. However, Elliott’s performance was middling when accounting for his lost fumble after a chunk run, third down drop to stall a potential scoring drive, and two receptions and nearly 20-yard run accrued on meaningless drives to close each half. Elliott also had a touchdown called back due to being out of bounds before the catch. More concerning than all of Elliott’s individual gaffes is Dallas’ lack of any perimeter receiving threat, squeezing the defensive box against Elliott in all but garbage time or hurry-up drive settings. One positive is Elliott is rarely leaving the field for primary backup Rod Smith
as Elliott is one of the few true foundation backs in the NFL.
RB Tavon Austin
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 18 - 0, Rec: 3 - 2 - 1 (3 targets) - Austin found the end zone for a second straight game, a goal line shovel pass, but was a non-factor outside of the scoring play in Dallas’ road loss in Seattle. Austin was tracked down easily on a crossing route, but did add a jet sweep run for 18 yards early in the game. Austin’s deep speed is the lone differentiator for a Dallas wide receiver through three games; however he remains a situationally-used option in their struggling pass game.
WR Cole Beasley
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 46 - 0 (5 targets) - Beasley had two of the highlight passing plays for Dallas in their struggling offensive effort in Seattle. Beasley corralled a low target with one hand and late in the game converted a fourth down with a crossing route reception as Dallas stayed alive. While Beasley has been Dallas’ most consistent wide receiver through three games, the ceiling has been low with the offense struggling to maintain drives and convert third downs.
WR Michael Gallup
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Gallup saw four targets against Seattle, but continues to perform poorly. Gallup dropped a slant route, turning into an interception and failed to haul in a high-point target in the end zone. On Gallup’s lone reception, he dragged a defender for yards after the catch. Gallup has been gobbled up by defensive backs on a majority of his routes and this week was no exception to the early-season trend.
TE Geoff Swaim
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (7 targets) - After two sluggish games to start the season Swaim logged a solid game against the Seahawks. Swaim led the wide receivers and tight ends in targets and performed well in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Swaim broke a tackle on a deep out reception for his best gain on the day and churned out yards after the catch on another reception. While not seeing any touchdown opportunities this week, Swaim is emerging into a consistent option for Dak Prescott
, alongside Cole Beasley
, on a struggling Dallas passing game.
QB Russell Wilson
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 26 - 192 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 - Wilson did not have a monster day – by the numbers – but for much of the match, he had the Cowboys secondary in the palm of his hand. A combination of slightly improved blocking and a playbook relying on short drops and quick reads was responsible for that. Over the first two weeks, he was sacked six times in each game; against the Cowboys, he was sacked twice, both times in the second half of the game. Many of the downfield passes thrown were vintage Russell Wilson
, with laser accuracy, hitting his receivers in perfect stride. He exploited a breakdown in zone coverage to hit a wide open Tyler Lockett
, who ran easily for a 52-yard score. He found Jaron Brown
on a seam down the middle for another TD. Perhaps the most impressive moment was a shorter pass to Brandon Marshall
, who was as covered as he could be down the sideline, thrown perfectly into his arms in stride. The common theme here is that the ball left Wilson’s hand quickly in all cases. If he can continue to keep defenses off balance with this sort of game plan, he’s got the arm and the vision to have continued success.
RB Chris Carson
, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 32 - 102 - 1, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - Carson was a workhorse, there is no better way to put it. It took him 32 carries to get his 102 yards, but get them he did. This was a slow-and-steady, patient rushing attack, that gained just enough yardage to move the chains consistently and keep the heat off of the passing game. Carson balanced end runs with plays between the tackles, with a long gain of only 13. The Seahawks blockers seemed to dominate the line of scrimmage more as the game went on, and Carson, to his credit, stayed with his blockers 99% of the time. On one play he reversed direction for positive yardage, but mainly he read the blocks well and played a strong, patient game. His touchdown was a 5-yard draw play up the middle, out of the shotgun formation.
RB Rashaad Penny
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0 - Penny got a few reps in, but the way the team leaned on starter Chris Carson
in this game, it was likely just to spell their lead back. With his time, Penny gained a meagre 5 yards on the ground, with no catches, and one fumble that he was lucky to recover. In his short audition thus far, Penny seems to be a classic sideline-to-sideline runner – not the best way to endear yourself to the coaching staff. In short, Penny did nothing to impress, and will likely fill a similar role going forward, unless Carson falters.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 4 - 77 - 1 (6 targets) - Lockett continues to impress, but his fantasy production is still low volume and therefore TD dependent. He found himself wide open on his 52-yard scoring play, as the Cowboys blew their coverage completely, and ran the ball in easily. His other catches were quick hits – which was the prevalent theme of the passing game all day – for short gains.
WR Brandon Marshall
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (6 targets) - Marshall is simply more valuable in real football than fantasy football. He made only two catches, and both were impressive as he won the battle for the ball in extremely tight coverage for the first down. In the red zone, he still could pose a threat, but there were not many opportunities in this game, as most of the scores were longer plays.
TE Nick Vannett
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (5 targets) - Vannett tipped the scales and took over his expected role as the primary pass catching TE. He was reliable, but was never targeted on a play that might have gone for a lot of yards, or in the red zone. Vannett likely continues this role, which severely limits any fantasy upside.
TE Will Dissly
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - Dissly went back to his duties as primarily a blocking tight end, which meant he had no chance of keeping up the pace he had set so far this season. But also, it was better for the rest of the team, as his blocking contributed to keeping the Cowboys to only two sacks on the day, after giving up six in each of the first two games. He has shown how capable he is of taking the ball downfield, so perhaps we’ll see more of Dissly as the season wears on, but he will likely never be a player that you can count on from a fantasy perspective… unless your league happens to count blocks.
Oakland Raiders 20, Miami Dolphins 28
What you need to know
- -Jared Cook
’s stat line was average but he could have had a big day. His knee landed just inches shy of the goal line on two separate catches.
got off to a blazing start with a pair of 60+ yard catches and a 12-yard touchdown all in the first six minutes of the game.
-The Raiders offense again struggled in the fourth quarter, but were still in position to win the game when Derek Carr
threw an end zone interception on a jump ball to Martavis Bryant
was a non-factor for the second time in three weeks.
- The Dolphins played host to the Oakland Raiders and spoiled what was turning into a turn back the clock night for Jordy Nelson
. This game was all about the big play and it looked like it was going to come down to who had the ball last. The Raiders were able to pull it within a score with under 30 seconds left but could not convert the onside kick to have a chance. The Miami defense was able to come away with 2 turnovers and did just enough to come away with a win. This game was all about the big play and the Dolphins made just enough to walk away with the victory. Ryan Tannehill
seems to have knocked off a lot of the rust and is looking like a quarterback that could lead this team to a playoff spot. The AFC has been down as a whole and has left the door open for the Dolphins. Miami will get its first true test within the division when it travels to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in week 4.
QB Derek Carr
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 39 - 345 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Carr and the Raiders have been getting off to quick starts each week, before gradually fading. This week was no different. Carr had already thrown for 150 yards midway through the first quarter. Carr and Nelson hooked up for a pair of 60+ yard completions in the first quarter. They also connected for a 12-yard touchdown on a busted coverage, which allowed Carr to hit Nelson in the middle of the end zone with no Dolphins within 10 yards of him. Carr nearly had a second touchdown pass early. On 3rd-and-goal from the nine, a shovel pass to Jared Cook
worked well but Cook came up just inches shy of the end zone. Carr also came up inches shy of a touchdown pass on a later completion to Cook that also came up inches shy of the end zone. The play was originally ruled a touchdown but overturned on replay. Carr threw two interceptions on the day. The first was on an ill-advised deep ball to Amari Cooper
who was surrounded by three defenders. The second may have decided the game. Down 21-17 with under three minutes to play and in the red zone, Carr tried to hit Martavis Bryant
on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone. He was hit as he was released which cause the ball to flutter a bit and allowed Xavien Howard to go up and take the ball away from Bryant. Overall, it was a decent game from Carr but he made one too many mistakes to help the Raiders earn their first victory of the year.
RB Marshawn Lynch
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 64 - 1, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (4 targets) - Lynch took on a workhorse role and again managed 20+ touches. As always, he ran hard and was often able to earn an extra yard while muscling through contact. However, there was nothing easy and Lynch’s longest run of the day went for just nine yards. Lynch leaped over the top for a 1-yard touchdown on one third-and-goal chance. He also had a reception on a third-and-goal screen, but the Dolphins read it well and stopped him well short of the end zone. Lynch’s best play of the game was a 14-yard reception. He caught the ball eight yards downfield and violently ran over a defender to pick up a few extra yards. The picture of what to expect from Lynch looks pretty clear. He is getting solid volume and has cashed in on a short-yardage touchdown each of the first three weeks. But he has averaged between 3.4 and 3.7 yards per carry in each game, so the yardage totals have been underwhelming.
RB Doug Martin
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 43 - 0 - Martin was again the clear #2 back and rotated into the game early in the second series. He was a slightly more effective runner than Lynch against the Dolphins, getting through the hole quicker. Martin picked his way for a 15-yard gain on a nifty run off of left tackle, making a man miss early and weaving his way for a solid gain. He again made a man miss in the backfield on the next play, turning what should have been a short loss into a 5-yard gain. However, he was not targeted at all in the passing game and didn’t get any goal line chances. Martin has a solid weekly role, but it isn’t one that is likely to allow for much of a fantasy impact.
RB Jalen Richard
, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 59 - 0 (7 targets) - Nearly all of Richard’s production came on a garbage-time drive in the final minutes. The Raiders took over down two scores with under two minutes left and moved methodically down the field on short completions to Richard to setup a field goal but weren’t able to recover the onside kick. Richard is only rarely involved if the Raiders aren’t trailing by multiple scores.
WR Jordy Nelson
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 173 - 1 (8 targets) - Nelson did almost all of his considerable damage on the day in the first six minutes, with three catches for 139 yards and a touchdown by the 9-minute mark of the first quarter. The second play of the game, he caught a slant over the middle and broke free for a 61-yard catch and run, showing nice speed down the sideline. Two plays later, he caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on a broken coverage that left him uncovered in the middle of the end zone. A few minutes later, he ran a seam route from the slot and snagged a 66-yard reception, getting dragged down inside the Miami 10-yard line. Nelson was then a non-factor for three quarters before getting hot again in the final six minutes. He drew a pass interference on a key 3rd down. A few plays later, he caught a 16-yard pass over the middle in heavy traffic.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - With Seth Roberts
a healthy scratch, Bryant operated as the unquestioned third receiver. He was able to pick up 11 yards on a quick wide receiver screen early. The Raiders have tried to get the ball into Bryant’s hands short and let him try to make plays as a runner. So far, he has proven adept with these opportunities. The targets deeper down the field were more of a mixed bag. He was able to hang on through contact on a 19-yard completion down the sideline. However, with the game on the line in the final minutes, Bryant was targeted in the corner of the end zone on a fade route and Xavien Howard won the jump ball away from Bryant for a game-winning interception.
WR Amari Cooper
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (5 targets) - After a breakout game last week, Cooper was right back to being a non-factor. He caught a pair of short passes on quick comebacks when the defender was playing off but didn’t do anything else productive. Cooper was targeted on a deep ball but seemed to give up when seeing he was bracketed by double coverage. The ball was intercepted. Cooper also made an unforced error when he stepped out of bounds while tracking a deep ball down the sideline on a go route. It went through his hands but would have come back even if he had caught it. Cooper was shadowed by emerging cornerback Xavien Howard, but it is telling how willing the Raiders are to seemingly ignore Cooper whenever he is lined up across an above-average cornerback.
TE Jared Cook
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 31 - 0 (6 targets) - Cook again played very well and came very close to having a big fantasy game. He twice caught red zone passes and nearly scored. The first came on a well-designed shovel pass on 3rd-and-goal from the nine. Cook had a hole up the middle and dove for the end zone but was ruled down inside the one. Cook later caught a 2nd-and-goal pass off of play action and dove to extend the ball into the end zone. It was initially called a touchdown but review showed the ball just short of the goal line when his knee hit the ground.
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 44 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 23 - 289 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 26 - 0 - It has been a long road to recovery for Tannehill, but he is finally starting to look like the quarterback that this team thinks can lead them to the playoffs. The run game was almost nonexistent today, but Tannehill had his full complement of receivers for the first time this season and took advantage. Tannehill had long passes of 74, 36, and 34 yards and showed the ability to move around in the pocket and extend plays when he needed to. His first touchdown was a beautiful 34-yard throw deep down the left sideline where he hit Kenny Stills
in stride in the back of the end zone. Stills had beat his corner off the ball and then simply ran past the safety to the back of the end zone and the perfect ball that only he could make a play on. The second touchdown was all Jakeem Grant
on an 18-yard touch pass end around. The receiver came in motion as the ball was snapped and Tannehill just tossed it in front of him and he took off running. This looks more like a running play, but since the ball was thrown forward it is considered a pass and registers as a passing touchdown. His third and final touchdown was the exact same play, only run to the other side and with Albert Wilson
. The receiver came in motion before the snap again and Tannehill simply tossed the ball into his path and the speedy receiver took it 74-yards for the touchdown. The blocking in front of Wilson was superb and he was not even touched on his way to the end zone. This made the score 28-17 with only 2 minutes to go. Tannehill was made to look good by receivers taking end around passes to the house, but he was also very efficient, did not turn the ball over, and was only sacked a single time. The Dolphins are playing good football right now but will travel to New England to take on a Patriots team who was just beaten by the Lions.
RB Kenyan Drake
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (4 targets) - Despite being a close game and the potential to control the clock with the run game, the Dolphins were not interested in that. As a team they only ran the ball 14 times, with Drake only seeing 5 of those carries. By comparison, the Raiders ran the ball 32 times and their lead back carried the ball 19 times. As a whole, the Miami offense only ran 38 plays, 1 shy of the amount of times Derick Carr threw the ball. With all of that said, Drake could not find any room to run with his 5 carries. He had a single run that went for 3 yards and then 2 other carries that did not net a yard. He was also targeted in the passing game 4 times but only snagged 2 of those passes for just more than double his rushing yards. This is a game where you look at the stats and wonder how they won, especially since Drake did not seem to play any role at all in the final score.
RB Frank Gore
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0 - After moving up the career rushing list, Gore looked primed to get a little more usage. The game script seemed to be favorable as well. It was late in the 4th quarter, the Dolphins were nursing a 4-point lead, and all they had to do was run out the clock. However, they elected to run their wide receiver end around pass again and neither Gore nor Drake were given a chance to run out the clock. Gore had slightly more success than Drake and was given 1 more carry. He doubled Drake's yards on a single carry but was unable to surpass 15 total yards. Ryan Tannehill
had more rushing yards on a single attempt than either running back did the entire game. It is not often that a team finds a way to win a game like this, but the Dolphins did. They are going to need a much more balanced attack against the Patriots next week if they want to continue their win streak.
WR Albert Wilson
, 10 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 52 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 2 - 74 - 1 (2 targets) - The entire game really comes down to 2 plays for Wilson. He had a 74-yard touchdown catch and threw a 52-yard touchdown on a trick play. His touchdown catch was the reverse play that Grant scored his 18-yard jet sweep on. Tannehill pitched the ball forward to Wilson as he came in motion and then a sea of blockers opened things up for him to go untouched into the end zone. The touchdown throw was a thing of beauty. Tannehill handed the ball off to Drake, who then pitched the ball to Wilson who had come in motion towards the line of scrimmage, Wilson continued to roll right, and found a wide-open Grant on a wheel route. There were a lot of moving parts with this play and it was almost amazing that there was no illegal motion or formation. This is not the kind of play that Miami is going to go to every week, but it is good to know they have it in their back pocket and that they can trust Wilson to throw a strike when needed.
WR Kenny Stills
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 61 - 1 (5 targets) - It continues to be a boom or bust type of season for Stills. After a monster game in week 1, Stills then proceeded to lay an egg in week 2. This week all of the big plays were working for the Dolphins and Stills was able to get in on the action. In week 1 he relied on breaking underneath passes for long touchdowns. This week he ran straight past his coverage for a 34-yard touchdown. Stills beat his man in a one on one situation on the outside and the safety was too late getting over to give any help. Tannehill fired a perfect strike down the field that hit Stills just over his outside shoulder, in stride, and in the back of the end zone. The ball could not have been thrown any better as Stills was the only one who could make a play. This one play accounted for a little over half of his yards and played a major factor in the overall outcome of the game. With the return of Davante Parker and the emergence of Albert Wilson
and Jakeem Grant
in the offense, it will be interesting to see if Stills loses any playing time.
WR Danny Amendola
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (3 targets) - Almost every Dolphins wide receiver made a big play, expect Amendola. He kind of got lost in the wash of big plays and the return of Davante Parker. Amendola managed to snag all 3 of his targets this week with his longest play coming in at 15 yards. This play helped to setup the Dolphins second touchdown just before the end of the third quarter. It was a short catch and run pass down the right sideline. His other catches were 13 and 14 yarders, but he just did not see enough volume in the offense today to make a bigger difference. Tannehill spread the ball around to all of the Miami receivers and that left Amendola with a mediocre game.
WR Jakeem Grant
, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 70 - 2 (3 targets) - Miami dug deep into its bag of tricks to help break Grant free this week. With Tannehill as quarterback he saw 2 targets and had 1 catch for 18 yards and a touchdown, but with Albert Wilson
throwing the ball he had 1 catch for 52 yards and a touchdown. Tannehill handed the ball off to Drake, who pitched it to Albert Wilson
who had come in motion, Wilson rolled right, and Grant was left all alone on a swing route down the right sideline. He broke one tackle and side stepped another defender for the long touchdown. His 18-yard touchdown from Tannehill was a jet sweep where the ball was tossed forward instead of backwards and resulted in a passing touchdown instead of a rushing. Miami has several speedy weapons on offense and Grant showed why he made the team out of camp. Do not expect this type of result every week for Grant, but more so only when Miami finds a hole they think they can exploit.
WR DeVante Parker
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 40 - 0 (3 targets) - This was the first game of the season where Parker has been active, and he watched as several other receivers were featured in the offense ahead of him. His broken finger did not appear to be an issue this week as he caught 2 of his 3 targets and had a big 36-yard catch deep down the right sideline to help setup an eventual touchdown. Parker outran his corner and the safety was late getting over to provide help. Tannehill laid the ball right over his outside shoulder where only he could make a play on the ball. Two plays later, Jakeem Grant
took an end around into the end zone for a touchdown. After a rough camp and a broken finger, Parker looked to be the odd man out in Miami. If the other Dolphins receivers continue to produce, Parker could find himself a trade candidate or at least have a reduced role in the offense going forward.
Denver Broncos 14, Baltimore Ravens 27
What you need to know
- Denver dealt with sporadic rain throughout the game. The Broncos blocked a Ravens punt on the opening drive of the game, recovering on the Baltimore 6 yard line and scoring on the next play. Justin Simmons blocked a Raven field goal attempt and Chris Harris returned it 58 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter, but the play was called back for an illegal block on the return.
- The Ravens offense returned to the week 1 form they showed against the Bills. Joe Flacco
played very well attacking the Broncos all over the field using a variety of targets. John Brown
is clearly Flacco's favorite target downfield with Michael Crabtree
as his preferred target on short to intermediate throws. Alex Collins
and Buck Allen split work with Collins handling a significant majority of touches. Allen ended up with two touchdowns but he scored one after Collins left the field banged up and Allen scored the other with Collins also lined up in the backfield. Mark Andrews
made a pair of big plays downfield and its clear the Ravens want to get him the ball.
QB Case Keenum
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 34 - 192 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Keenum struggled in the rain, short-arming several passes and also seeing several attempts batted down by defenders at the line of scrimmage. Denver capitalized on an blocked punt to score a rushing touchdown on their first offensive snap of the game. Emmanuel Sanders
punched in a 35 yard rushing touchdown later in the 1st, and that was the last time the Broncos found paydirt. Keenum just couldn't push the ball downfield, consistently checking down to short pass options. Keenum's longest completions were a 22 yard pickup by Thomas and a 21 yard reception by Sutton. Keenum fumbled the ball on a sack late in the 2nd quarter on the same play that saw RB Lindsay thrown out for throwing a punch. Keenum was intercepted by Baltimore linebacker Onwuasor while looking for TE Heuerman late in the 4th quarter. The linebacker was tight in coverage and undercut the out route that Keenum threw.
RB Royce Freeman
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 53 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - The Broncos blocked a Ravens punt in the Baltimore red zone on the opening drive of the game. Denver recovered at the Baltimore 6 yard line, and Freeman got the call on the next play, punching it in right up the middle from a single back set for a touchdown. Freeman's longest carry was a 16 yard tote that he bounced off right tackle in the 1st quarter, stiff-arming a couple of defenders in the process. Freeman had a couple of impressive runs right up the middle of the offense, but there were also several plays that he was dropped in the backfield for a loss. Lindsay should be back in the rotation next week. Freeman caught his first and only target of the season so far for a 5 yard gain on a checkdown pass.
RB Devontae Booker
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 10 - 0, Rec: 5 - 34 - 0 (7 targets) - Booker handled passing down work and got some extra snaps in the 2nd half after Phillip Lindsay
was ejected from the game for throwing a punch. Booker lined up in the slot on 3rd and 6 in the 1st quarter, and made an impressive catch to convert on an out route that wasn't perfectly thrown by Keenum. He hauled in a swing route out of the backfield for a 6 yard gain in the 3rd quarter. Booker faked a handoff and picked up another first down with a an 8 yard gain on a crossing route in the 4th quarter. Booker hauled in another short out route late in the 4th on 2nd and 20. Keenum targeted him one final time on a crossing route out of the backfield with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Booker finished with 5 receptions on 7 targets(second highest target total for the Broncos), and just 10 yards on his 5 carries.
RB Phillip Lindsay
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - Freeman got the first carry and touchdown after Denver blocked a punt and recovered deep in Baltimore territory to start the game. Lindsay entered on the next drive, and racked up 20 yards on 4 carries in the 1st half before he was thrown out around the 2 minute mark in the 2nd quarter for throwing a punch in the scrum that resulted from a Case Keenum
RB Andy Janovich
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Janovich threw an excellent downfield block to help spring Sanders for his rushing touchdown. Janovich carried the ball once late in the 4th quarter, converting 3rd and 1 and extending Denver's last desperate offensive drive.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 35 - 1, Rec: 5 - 38 - 0 (9 targets) - Sanders led the receiving core in targets with 8, but couldn't get any big plays going in the passing game as Keenum struggled to push the ball deep. Sanders lined up wide right and scored on an end-around rush in the 1st quarter, following excellent downfield blocks by Sutton and fullback Janovich. Sanders caught his first target on a shallow crossing route in the 2nd quarter. Sanders hauled in another short gain on a similar play later in the 2nd quarter. Sanders had a bad drop on a wide-open slant route late in the 3rd quarter, but made up for it with nice diving effort the following play. He converted 3rd and 6 later in the same drive with another tough, diving catch on a curl route.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 63 - 0 (5 targets) - Thomas didn't put up a big fantasy day, but he did look much sharper than he did in week 2. He lined up wide left and hauled in a curl route for short gain to start his day late in the 1st quarter. Thomas hauled in an out route in the 2nd quarter that missed converting 3rd and 7 by mere inches. Thomas hauled in a deep post for a huge gain in the 3rd quarter, but the play was negated by a holding penalty. DT made a beautiful adjustment on a back shoulder throw later in the drive, hauling in the pass over his defender down the right sideline for a 22 yard gain. Thomas drew a big PI flag in the 4th quarter the kept a Denver drive alive, then caught a 9 yard curl route on the next play. Keenum hit Thomas one last time late in the 4th quarter on a skinny post that took Denver inside the Baltimore red zone. Thomas finished with 5 targets, trailing Sanders(8) and Booker(7).
WR Courtland Sutton
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (3 targets) - Sutton worked as the third receiver and started his day off with an impressive catch in traffic, lining up wide right in a 4WR set and hauling in a slant route to convert 3rd and 11 with a 16 yard gain in the 1st quarter. Sutton had a bad drop at the end of the 2nd half on a quick slant route that would have converted 3rd and long. Sutton had a big reception down the left sideline in the 4th quarter that converted another 3rd and long. Sutton finished with just 3 targets.
TE Jeff Heuerman
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (4 targets) - Heuerman drew 4 targets, his highest of the season, but only managed to convert them to 7 yards on 2 catches. He caught a desperate dump off pass for a minimal gain from a scrambling Keenum near Denver's own goal line in the 1st quarter. He hauled in a short out route in the Baltimore red zone late in the 4th quarter. Keenum targeted him again on the next play, but Baltimore linebacker Onwuasor undercut the crossing route and picked off the pass.
TE Jake Butt
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Butt caught a short out route early in the 4th on his first target of the day. He hauled in a nice toe-tapper on the sidelines late in the 4th that unfortunately only netted 5 yards on 2nd and 15. Butt was targeted on a 4th down out route with less than 3 minutes left in the game, but he couldn't hold on to the underthrown pass amidst heavy coverage from linebacker Suggs.
QB Joe Flacco
, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 40 - 277 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 2 - 0 - Flacco absorbed a big hit and sack from Bradley Chubb on the Ravens opening possession but otherwise did a good job of getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks. One of the many impressive throws made on the day was a 15 yard completion to Willie Snead
over the middle between two defenders. Flacco hit Mark Andrews
over the middle who came wide open off of play action for 30 yards to set up an Alex Collins
touchdown. Flacco converted a 3rd and 9 with a 19 yard back shoulder throw to MIchael Crabtree. Flacco capped the drive hitting Buck Allen in the flat who took it for a 12 yard score. Flacco dropped a perfect bomb to John Brown
for 44 yards. Flacco held the ball a little too long and was sacked by Shane Ray forcing a fumble the Ravens recovered. Flacco threw an absolute laser down the seam to Mark Andrews
for a 29 yard gain setting up another Allen touchdown. Flacco ran a bootleg keeper on 3rd and 1 to seal the game. Flacco beat two defenders to the edge with his speed.
RB Alex Collins
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 68 - 1, Rec: 3 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - Alex Collins
dominated carries in the Ravens backfield and matched Buck Allen in receptions. For the most part Collins struggled to find room to run against the Broncos defense. Collins followed nice blocks from Alex Lewis and Maxx WIlliams for a 6 yard touchdown. Collins fought through contact on a check down from Flacco for an 8 yard gain. Collins got up slowly and left the field with some discomfort after making a reception underneath. Collins returned to open the second half with a 13 yard burst behind Matt Skura. Collins was lined up at half back and Buck Allen was lined up at fullback when Allen scored a 1 yard rushing touchdown.
RB Javorius Allen
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 7 - 1, Rec: 3 - 19 - 1 (4 targets) - Buck Allen received his first touch 5 minutes into the second quarter after making a 3 yard catch on 3rd and 1. Allen made another catch in the flat on 3rd and short and beat Von Miller to the edge for a diving 12 yard touchdown. Allen dropped a check down over the middle. Allen received 2 carries from inside the five yard line and scored a 1 yard touchdown on the second. Allen continues to score touchdowns at a greater rate than he should.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 61 - 0 (10 targets) - Michael Crabtree
was mostly used as an underneath and possession receiver using his body and strength to make plays. Crabtree made his first catch along the sideline running a comeback route for 7 yards. Crabtree made a catch over the middle but Chris Harris punched the ball free and the pass was ruled incomplete. Crabtree made a 9 yard catch on 3rd and 10 running another comeback. Crabtree made a a toe tapping catch on a back shoulder throw for a 19 yard gain. Crabtree made another sideline catch for 8 yards working back to Flacco as he scrambled. Crabtree made back to back catches for 16 total yards to set up a field goal before halftime.
WR John Brown
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 86 - 0 (9 targets) - John Brown
's first target was deep shot he caught out of bounds. Brown ran an out route from the slot and picked up 15 yards. Brown had a deep target fall just incomplete in part due to good physical coverage by Chris Harris. Brown picked up 9 yards on a check down in the flat. Brown got a step on his defender and Flacco dropped a perfect deep ball right into Brown's hands for 44 yards. Brown ran a crossing route from the slot and picked up 11 yards. Flacco peppered Brown with deep shots throughout the game and a few were just off.
WR Willie Snead
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (5 targets) - Willie Snead
made a nice catch over the middle against double coverage for 15 yards; demonstrating his chemistry with Joe Flacco
. Snead showed nice hands making a catch on pass thrown on his back hip over the middle for a 17 yard gain. Snead made a 7 yard catch on 3rd and 6 with Chris Harris in coverage.
TE Mark Andrews
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 59 - 0 (3 targets) - Mark Andrews
came wide open over the middle and secured the catch before racing downfield and hurdling a defender for 30 yards. Andrews caught an absolute bullet from Flacco down the seam with three defenders around him for 29 yards. Look for Andrews to become more involved but the return of Hayden Hurst
from injury could reduce Andrews' role.
New England Patriots 10, Detroit Lions 26
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- -The issues on offense may be fixable with Julian Edelman
and Josh Gordon
set to return. This will open things up, especially for Gronk, who is getting all the defensive attention thus far.
-The play calling was atrocious, as the Pats completely forced a non existent run game with Sony Michel
. Whether this was experimental remains to be seen, but he seems to be the clear lead dog for rushing touches as of now.
-The biggest issue is the defense. If they can't keep opposing offenses off the field, it will limit time for the Pats offense as a whole, and may force the Pats into shootouts. These issues seem less fixable than the offensive issues, so the Pats will need to get very creative.
- Detroit got their first win of the season against the New England Patriots. The Lions controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to get LeGarrette Blount
and Kerryon Johnson
running well. Matthew Stafford
was improved in the game after struggling the first two weeks of the season, throwing touchdowns to Kenny Golladay
and Marvin Jones
. Kenny Golladay
’s role continues to grow, with the passing game largely focused on Golladay, Jones and Golden Tate
QB Tom Brady
, 48 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 26 - 133 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Talk about an ugly game. The Patriots were thoroughly outclassed for the second week in a row, and Tom Brady
was no exception. A combination of awful defense, terrible playcalling, forcing a non-existent run game, weak passing game options, mediocre pass protection, and spotty QB play resulted in a game that should have been a bigger blowout. Despite being hampered by these things, Brady didn't light the world on fire. He missed open throws, including a surefire Rex Burkhead
touchdown. His interception was an ugly one, floating a deep ball into double coverage when Phillip Dorsett
was smothered in coverage. It was clear his ‘weapons’ were frustrating him, as the Lions simply double and triple teamed Gronk, giving him nowhere to go on most plays. The Pats were also dominated in time of possession in the first half due to a combo of three and outs on offense and sustained Lions drives on defense. The aforementioned playcalling was notable for Brady as well. Beyond one third quarter drive when the Pats look like themselves, it seemed the coaching staff was forcing the issue with Sony Michel
, who had no run blocking and frankly, didn't look special at all. Better days should be ahead with Julian Edelman
and Josh Gordon
joining the fold on offense, but if the defense doesn't shape up, the Pats will have serious issues that could result in either shootouts or limited Brady throws, as we saw this week.
RB Sony Michel
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 50 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (3 targets) - In what may have been the most ordinary running performance of the season, Sony Michel
received 14 touches on the ground and did absolutely nothing with them. His long run was 12 yards, and he left more on the field. As an example, on a rush of about 8 yards to the right side, Michel barreled into an defender engaged with a blocker instead of making a cut that would have allowed him at least 5 more yards. Though he seemed to lack vision and concerningly, explosiveness, the run blocking was not good either. Josh McDaniels also seemed to be forcing the run game in odd spots, dialing up obvious plays - Michel always ran from under center, which telegraphed play calls for the Lions defense. It was a bizarre game from the coaching staff. Michel also dropped a couple passes, showing he's still not ready for a big passing game role. Whether this was more experimental or Michel has truly taken the rushing reins remains to be seen, but he and the line will need to be better going forward.
RB James White
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 37 - 0, Rec: 3 - 14 - 1 (3 targets) - White could have had a bigger day, but the Pats were dominated in possession time and forced the run game. In fact, most of White's carries were in garbage time on the last drive of the game. His touchdown was a great contested catch with a great throw from Tom Brady
, one of the few bright spots on the day.
RB Rex Burkhead
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 26 - 0 (3 targets) - Seeing limited play time due to the Sony Michel
experiment, Burkhead didn't see a single carry, was missed on a touchdown throw from Brady, and exited the game late with a neck injury. Though Michel didn't look good, Burkhead's role remains tenuous at best.
WR Chris Hogan
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (4 targets) - Once again, Chris Hogan
was nearly invisible, further showing that he's having trouble separating. With Julian Edelman
and Josh Gordon
due back soon, he may continue to have a bit role.
WR Phillip Dorsett
, 45 offensive snaps (5 targets) - The Pats used Dorsett like they did Brandin Cooks
last season, and Phillip Dorsett
isn't Brandin Cooks
. As a result, he caught 0 passes on 5 targets. Tom Brady
's interception went Dorsett's way, but should never have been thrown, as Dorsett was smothered in double coverage.
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 51 - 0 (5 targets) - With absolutely no other weapons in the passing game, Gronk was double and tripled teamed all night. He did drop a diving catch, but there wasn't much else he could do. It was odd that more plays weren't specifically dialed up for him, but the play calling was simply bad.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 36 - 262 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0 - Matthew Stafford
was well protected against a New England defense that struggled to generate a pass rush. Stafford was more accurate, throwing with better touch than in recent weeks. Stafford’s first touchdown was a well thrown side arm pass to Kenny Golladay
at the goal line. His second was a deep over route to Marvin Jones
that was likely a blown coverage. Stafford showed the ability to escape and throw when under pressure and was only sacked once. Stafford could have had a bigger day but overthrew Marvin Jones
on a post in the end zone. Stafford’s interception was a bad throw off his back foot on third down on a crossing route to Luke Willson
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (2 targets) - The Detroit Lions had a lot of running room against New England. New England played a lot of two high safeties, and the offensive line performed well. Blount was the lead back early but rotated frequently with Kerryon Johnson
. Johnson performed better and is more dynamic, but Detroit has shown a willingness to continue including Blount as a focal point of the run game. Blount ran with power and continues driving after contact. Blount was also used twice out of the backfield for receptions.
RB Kerryon Johnson
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 101 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Kerryon Johnson
became the first Detroit Lions running back to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush
in 2013. Johnson was explosive and versatile in the game. Johnson also showed well in pass protection. Johnson can be a three down bell cow but continues to be in a timeshare with LeGarrette Blount
RB Theo Riddick
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (3 targets) - Theo Riddick
had a quiet night, with Detroit leading throughout the game and using Kerryon Johnson
and LeGarrette Blount
heavily. Riddick did convert a third down late in the game, with a good option route out of the backfield.
WR Golden Tate
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 69 - 0 (8 targets) - Golden Tate
led the Lions in targets with 8 and had an efficient night working in the short and intermediate area. Tate did drop a wheel route along the sideline, but was otherwise strong, and showed elusiveness after the catch.
WR Kenny Golladay
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 53 - 1 (7 targets) - Kenny Golladay
had another strong game, catching a crossing route along the goal line for a touchdown. Golladay has seen an expanded role in the offense this season and that trend continued against New England. Notably, Golladay saw the bulk of his targets in the underneath on drags and crossing routes, with Marvin Jones
being used on vertical and perimeter routes.
WR Marvin Jones
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 69 - 1 (6 targets) - Marvin Jones
connected on a deep ball for a touchdown after several near misses last week. Jones continues to work as the deep threat in the offense despite Kenny Golladay
’s expanded usage. Jones was used in high leverage situations including an incomplete fade where he was well covered by Stephon Gilmore.
TE Luke Willson
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - Luke Willson
was limited against the Patriots where the Lions continued to the expansive usage of Kenny Golladay
, Marvin Jones
and Golden Tate
. Willson’s targets were in the short and underneath area where he was unable to break larger gains.
Los Angeles Chargers 23, Los Angeles Rams 35
What you need to know
Los Angeles Chargers
- WR Keenan Allen
had a very quiet afternoon, and on his last route of the game, he came up hobbling following an incompletion. There was no immediate update on his condition, but he did walk off under his own power.
continues to run extremely well behind this new offensive line. Perhaps no player on the team has benefitted more from the changes they've made up front, as he's got running lanes where there were none before.
continues to compile big fantasy stats, even while his team isn't enjoying much success. He again had to spread the ball around in this game, but somehow he manages to almost always get the job done for his fantasy owners.
Los Angeles Rams
- The Rams continue to outclass the rest of the NFL, and their aggressiveness in playcalling despite holding a lead will continue to result in productive offensive days for the majority of their core players. Goff played one of his better games so far as a pro, making some really aggressive and difficult throws and showing an ability to extend the play vs pressure.
QB Philip Rivers
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 30 - 226 - 2 TD / 0 INT - Even on a day when he was constantly under pressure and was never in sync with his top option Keenan Allen
, Rivers still compiled fantasy-relevant numbers. He connected with his old pal Antonio Gates
multiple times, but saved his best for second-year man Mike Williams
. The two first hooked up on a deep bomb down the seam for a 42-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. It was an absolutely perfectly-thrown ball, and Williams made a phenomenal effort to lay out and haul it in with full extension. Some of the other highlights included a long hookup with Antonio Gates
for 27 yards (most of which Gates picked up after the catch) and another perfect pass to Allen for 25 yards to convert a 3rd and 17 pass play along the sideline. Rivers had to drop it right between defenders to convert. There was a lot more defensive pressure in the second half as the Rams led throughout and started to bring a lot more heat at Rivers. He did a decent job of avoiding sacks and finding receivers at the last moment, but he never looked fully comfortable in the pocket. Rivers did add a second touchdown pass to Williams, this time on a huge fourth down pass play midway through the third quarter. Williams had the defender all but wrapping him up at the 2-yard line, but he extended at the goal line and lunged his body across for the score. Unfortunately for Rivers and the Chargers, late in the fourth quarter they faced another fourth down with the game on the line and did not convert. He completed a short pass to Austin Ekeler
that was short of the marker, and Ekeler fumbled the ball away as he was trying to extend towards the first down marker, which all but ended the game.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 80 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (4 targets) - Considering the Chargers trailed throughout this game, it's pretty impressive that Gordon's numbers are as good as they are. He constantly ran strong, going over and through defenders throughout the game. He had an incredibly impressive run early on, hitting the left side and leaping over a would-be tackler's head. To make it even more impressive, Gordon maintained his balance upon landing and kept running straight ahead without missing a beat, to pick up another ten yards or so. On his touchdown run, he headed up the left side behind some very good blocking by his teammates. As he got to the 4-yard line, a defender met him and appeared to have an angle to take him down, but Gordon simply brushed it off and slipped by en route to the score. Gordon's second half was much quieter as the Chargers took to the air to try and mount a comeback, but he did manage to pick up his longest run of the game, a 23-yard scamper, late in the contest. Austin Ekeler
was on the field for much of the fourth quarter and was the recipient of several passing targets during that time.
RB Austin Ekeler
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 47 - 0, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - As quiet as Ekeler was in the first half, he did some damage after halftime. He picked up 32 of his 47 rushing yards on one run, slithering his way in and out of would-be tacklers up the middle. He found a small hole, then bounced across the grain after a broken tackle before covering up the ball at the end of the run en route to a career-long rush. He added a nice reception that also doubled as a way to bail out Philip Rivers
, who was under pressure from the defense. Ekeler was leaking out behind Rivers and into the flat, so Rivers dumped it off to him. Ekeler's defender thought he had him squared up, but again his surprising speed got him the edge where he then tip-toed the sideline for a 15-yard pickup. Unfortunately, Ekeler's day didn't end as well as it began. He was targeted on a fourth down pass attempt with the game on the line, but Rivers threw it short of the marker. So Ekeler had to make an effort to extend the ball past the line to convert. But he was met by multiple defenders, and the ball was punched out where it was recovered by the Rams for a turnover. Mike Williams
came very close to recovering the ball on the ground (and it might have been a first down if he had), but the Rams defender barely beat him to it.
WR Mike Williams
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 81 - 2 (7 targets) - Williams started off his afternoon about as good as can be, with a spectacular leaping/diving touchdown catch from 42 yards out. He had defenders right on him, but he managed to maintain a laser focus on the ball all the way through the catch and to the ground. Replays showed he actually hit the ground pretty hard and it took him awhile to get to his feet, but he remained in the game and seemed no worse for wear. He proved that by adding a second touchdown grab in the second half. Facing a fourth down, Philip Rivers
put a pass right on Williams' hands. With the defender hanging all over him, he kind of flopped his body forward and lunged over the goal line for the score. It was another tremendous individual effort, and this performance will certainly go a long way towards him being the second option in the passing game after Keenan Allen
(who limped off the field late in the game).
WR Keenan Allen
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 44 - 0 (7 targets) - Allen's day began and ended very inauspiciously, and it wasn't all that great in the middle either. His first target of the game resulted in a rare drop on a crossing route over the middle. Allen started turning upfield before he had fully secured the ball. The Chargers tried getting creative a little while after, using Allen on a WR option pass. But the Rams defenders had it so well-covered, that Allen was forced to tuck the ball away and lose yardage on the play so he didn't risk an interception. Fortunately for the Chargers, he shook loose from his defender on the very next play and picked up 25 yards to convert a 3rd and 17 situation. He made a leaping catch between two defenders, expertly using his body to shield off the back defender from the ball and haul it in while taking a hit. In the second half, he ran a quick comeback route for a nice first down gain, but he tried fighting just a bit too hard for extra yardage and the ball was ripped away as he was lunging for the first down (it was recovered by the Rams). And then finally late in the game, Allen was targeted on a deep ball in the end zone. The defender barely got a hand on it to knock the ball away at the last moment, but more importantly, Allen came up limping after the play and headed for the sideline. There was no immediate update on his condition after the game.
WR Tyrell Williams
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - On a day when Travis Benjamin
was inactive and the Chargers trailed throughout, one would have expected Williams to have more involvement in the passing gameplan. As it stood, second-year man Mike Williams
was the big recipient of the extra looks, as he went for two scores and a team high four receptions for 81 yards. For his part, Tyrell Williams
didn't record his first catch until early in the fourth quarter on a crossing route. He added a reverse for 14 yards and another short catch, but he wasn't a focal point of the passing game - neither over the middle nor on deep routes.
TE Antonio Gates
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (5 targets) - The big tight end had his best game of the season, and was the clear go-to guy at the tight end spot ahead of Virgil Green
. He got open near the sideline on a long first half reception that went for 27 yards. He withstood a big hit from the defender and shook it off as if it was a minor nuisance, before rumbling downfield after the catch to turn a decent gain into a big pickup. He showed excellent hands in the second half by snagging a low throw from Rivers over the middle, shielding the defender with his body and then working up the field for a 14-yard gain. And again he showed nice hands on a third down pass play from Rivers where he was hit in stride. He was targeted in the end zone, but the pass was thrown too high over his head to make a play on it. Gates won't return to his glory days anytime soon, but he showed in this game that he can still be a factor at times.
TE Virgil Green
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Green had just one short catch in the game early in the third quarter. Not only was his role almost non-existent, but Antonio Gates
was involved to the tune of three catches for 45 yards including an end zone look. Green is not a reliable target in this offense.
QB Jared Goff
, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 36 - 354 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0 - Goff had his best game of the season against the Chargers. He was really challenged to make some difficult, tight-window throws and aced the test. He also showed off his growing feel as an improviser in this game, extending a number of dropbacks for big plays. He still needs work in the redzone. He followed up a mature decision to improvise and then throw the ball away with a terrible interception due to poor accuracy on the next play. He tried throwing an Out route to Gerald Everett
in the endzone. The ball was thrown slightly behind, and Derwin James easily undercut and picked off the throw. His first throw of the 2 minute drill (deep out to Robert Woods
) is as good of a throw you'll see by an NFL QB. It was a Deep Out vs Cover 2 where he laid it up and over the sinking Flat CB and the safety over the top. It was a toe tap catch by Woods - a zero room for error type of throw and catch. His next most impressive play also came during the two minute drill - a gun barrell throw under pressure to Cooks to get the team into field goal range to close out the first half (the FG attempt missed). The second half is where Goff really showed his improvement extending the play - most notably on his touchdown throw to Cooper Kupp
. If he can keep this improvement vs pressure up, it will rise him into the upper tier of quarterbacks.
RB Todd Gurley
, 64 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 105 - 1, Rec: 5 - 51 - 0 (6 targets) - Gurley opened up the game gashing the Chargers on the first drive. However, he fumbled during a tackle attempt on him on a screen pass (Chargers recovered). He easily scored a TD in one attempt after a Brandin Cooks
reception brought the ball to the 1 yard line. Left some meat on the bone with a huge gain on a screen pass in the third quarter called back on a ticky-tack holding call. He did get more redzone work in the third quarter, but the drive was capped off by a short Robert Woods
touchdown catch. He got a huge chunk of his attempts down the stretch of the game after the Rams opened up the second half with 14 points, pulling away from the Chargers.
WR Robert Woods
, 74 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0, Rec: 10 - 104 - 2 (11 targets) - Robert Woods
has been flying under the radar for the Rams offense, despite being a few near misses away from being their most productive receiver on the season. Goff opened the game up looking for Woods early with two targets on the first drive, the first being a beautifully thrown intermediate Dig route. He consistently gets positive yardage on Jet Sweeps. He won't likely break many for big plays but did pick up 15 yards on one that was called back for a holding penalty. He continued being targeted heavily in the first quarter, scoring a TD on a quick hitch with about a minute left in the 1st qtr. He did have some negative plays - during the two minute drill he was called for OPI (blocking downfield) on a target to Gerald Everett
and he was called for a ticky-tack hold that brought back a big Todd Gurley
screen pass. Both of his touchdowns came on quick passes inside the five yard line.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 74 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 90 - 0 (8 targets) - Cooks was a table setter for other some of the other Rams' touchdowns today. His first catch was a very impressive target in the redzone. He fought through press coverage at the LOS, got inside position, and ran a bang 8 making a difficult contested catch in the process (almost scored, down at the 1 for a short Gurley touchdown on the next play). He really opened it up and showed off his speed on a screen pass from the 28 yard line that he took all the way to the 3 which led to a short Robert Woods
touchdown catch. He couldn't bring in a semi-contested 9 route that would have brought the ball to about the 3 yard line again, but did draw a penalty for illegal contact early in the route. The ball was dropped right into his arms, but the DB poked it out as the two were going to the ground. He drew yet another penalty on a downfield target in the third quarter - this time a defensive hold. For three games in a row, Cooks has extracted a ton of value for the Rams offense of penalties.
WR Cooper Kupp
, 75 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -3 - 0, Rec: 4 - 71 - 1 (6 targets) - Kupp continues to work as a chain mover and underneath target in the Rams passing game. He had his biggest play of the season so far on the third play of Los Angeles' opening drive of the second half. He ran an Out route on 3rd and 8, and broke off upfield when he was Jared Goff
started to scramble. Goff evaded pressure and hit Kupp downfield, He broke his man's tackle attempt and ran to the endzone for a 53 yard catch-and-run touchdown.
New Orleans Saints 43, Atlanta Falcons 37
What you need to know
New Orleans Saints
- This was a prime example of the offense many expected to see from New Orleans this season. There was still less emphasis on running the ball than expected, but Alvin Kamara
was featured with 20 targets in the passing game and 16 rushing attempts. This will not be sustainable over the course of the season, especially with Mark Ingram
coming back from suspension. The more surprising stat has to be the game tying and game winning rushing touchdowns for Drew Brees
. This was a back and forth affair between 2 elite offenses and was the best game of the entire weekend. We saw the emergence of Calvin Ridley
for the Falcons and we saw a Saints team that was willing to commit to their star players Michael Thomas
and Alvin Kamara
. There were 9 Saints players that had a rushing attempt and 9 players that caught a pass. This was the epitome of a team win on offense. The Saints will travel to New York next week to play the Giants in week 4.
- Atlanta leaned on Calvin Ridley
today in this offensive shootout that went to overtime, finding the rookie against tight man and off coverage for big plays, including both first-half touchdowns that gave Atlanta the lead. Although the broadcast play-by-play commentator said that Julio Jones
occupied additional coverage, the tape shows that Ridley’s big plays didn’t come from Jones drawing double coverage. Ridley simply earned deep looks against tight man or off-man and beat the defender straight up on the perimeter. This was the first game where Atlanta extensively featured Ridley on the perimeter instead of the slot where he was previously running rub routes with Austin Hooper
. Atlanta lost safety Ricardo Allen to a non-contact lower leg injury in the late fourth quarter that further debilitates an injured unit that is giving up a lot of yards in the middle of the field.
QB Drew Brees
, 79 offensive snaps, Pass: 39 - 49 - 396 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 7 - 2 - Today's game was vintage Brees but with one added element, he ran the ball. The Saints had a very dominant rushing attack last season and Brees did not have to do quite as much. Things have been different so far this year and he has had to keep his team in games. Brees completed 39 passes to 9 different receivers and even ran the ball 3 times. He was 10 for 10 throwing the ball to Michael Thomas
and targeted Alvin Kamara
20 times out of the back field. Those 30 attempts alone would have been a good day for any other quarterback, but Brees added touchdown passes to Ted Ginn
, Cameron Meredith
, and Zach Line
. Those 3 receivers combined for only 29 yards but put up the most points. The first touchdown came on the opening drive to Ginn. Brees faked the pitch and rolled right to find Ginn on a quick out. Ginn proceeded to throw his defender to the ground and walk into the end zone. The second pass was an 11-yard bullet up the seam to Meredith. This was his first game being active this season and it paid off. Brees evaded the pass rush long enough to find Meredith up the seam. The play was reviewed to ensure the runner broke the plain and was upheld as a touchdown. The final passing touchdown for Brees came on a 4th and 1 play where the defense sold out to stop the run and the play action allowed Line to break out into the flat untouched. From this point on it was Brees' legs that carried the team to victory. He took the ball off the edge for a 7-yard touchdown and then dove it in from the 1-yard line for the game winning touchdown in over time. Not only did Brees come away with the win, but he also passed Brett Farve as the all-time leader in completions. This was an amazing all-around game and should setup an epic rematch later in the season between 2 teams bound for the playoffs.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 67 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 66 - 0, Rec: 15 - 124 - 0 (20 targets) - It only took 3 weeks, but the Saints finally committed to Kamara in the offense. He had 16 carries to lead all runners and also had 20 targets in the passing game, also a team high. Kamara did not find it very easy to run against the Falcons, but his 16 carries did help soften things up underneath for the passing game. Kamara was not credited with a touchdown after his 3-yard plunge in overtime was overturned and set the Saints up on the 1-yard line. It is not very often that you see Brees take away 2 touchdowns from his running backs on the ground, but he made up for it with the 20 targets and over 100 yards in the air. Kamara's longest rush came in at 17 yards and the longest reception at 21. He may not have gotten into the end zone, but he helped keep drives alive on third down and served as a decoy all day long. The Falcons seemed committed to sell out and stop the run. There was a linebacker on a run blitz almost every play and this opened things up underneath for a streaking receiver or for Kamara to leak out as a check down. The best example was the 4th and 1 play where the play action to Kamara resulted in an easy touchdown for Zach Line
. Kamara would have been stopped in the back field and resulted in a turnover on downs, but the play resulted in a touchdown instead because of the commitment to Kamara. With the return of Mark Ingram
looming, it will be interesting to see how Kamara's usage changes down the stretch.
RB Zach Line
, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 6 - 1 (2 targets) - There were several spots where the Saints could have used a power run by their fullback, but instead it was Brees taking the ball up the gut for the game winning touchdown. Line did however get his chance on a 4th and 1 play from the 1-yard line. Line leaked out into the flat after the play action to Kamara and it was an easy pitch and catch for the touchdown from there. The Saints spread the ball all over the offensive depth chart and while Line may not have racked up the yards, he did cash in for a touchdown.
WR Michael Thomas
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 129 - 0 (10 targets) - The hot streak continues for Brees and Thomas. The only down side to this week was the duo did not find the end zone. Thomas snared 10 of his 10 targets and surpassed 100 yards receiving for the third time this season. The first play of the game was also the longest of any receiver for the Saints. Thomas hauled in a deep ball down the sideline and shrugged off one defender for a 35-yard catch. From there he had 1 other player over 20 yards and continued to make his living underneath and on quick hitting plays. Thomas works best when he gets the ball in his hands quickly and can break tackles. In a game where his team scored 43 points it is hard to imagine that 10 catches and over 100 yards is a quiet game, but that is the way it felt after he did not get into the end zone. Brees and Thomas have shown the most chemistry this season in the passing game and he will have another favorable matchup next week against the Giants.
WR Ted Ginn
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 20 - 0, Rec: 3 - 12 - 1 (6 targets) - This game was all about spreading the ball around and Ginn got his chance early. It was Ginn who scored the first touchdown of the game on the first drive. Brees rolled right on play action and Ginn streaked out into the flat. They completed a short pass and Ginn stiff armed his defender to the ground before walking into the end zone. There was no help on the outside and the safety was busy providing help on Michael Thomas
on the other side. Ginn is usually a boom or bust candidate and relies on the big play to score. This week he muscled up and scored one in tight after breaking a tackle. He was very quiet the rest of the game and the only other play worth noting was a 6-yard catch near the end of the first quarter. But the Saints ended up punting on that drive.
WR Cameron Meredith
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 1 (1 targets) - The Saints finally felt that Meredith had picked up enough of the offense to be active this week, and it paid dividend right away. He was given a limited role for his first game and made the best of it with 1 target, 1 catch, and a touchdown. Brees was nearly sacked in the back field but managed to scramble free and found Meredith up the seam for 11 yards. The play ended up being reviewed after it looked that he was tackled short of the goal line, but the touchdown call was upheld. This was the only target Meredith received this week. It will be interesting to see how much his role increases and who will lose touches when that happens.
TE Ben Watson
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 71 - 0 (6 targets) - After not showing any real chemistry in the first 2 weeks, Brees and Watson seemed to be in the same page this week. The big tight end had more targets, receptions, and yards than any other game this season. He also had his longest play with a 27-yard reception. This play helped setup an eventual field goal but was also disappointing. Brees hit a diving Watson down the right hash mark and setup a 1st and goal from the 6-yard line. The Saints were unable to punch it in and settled for a field goal. It was very encouraging to see Watson getting involved in the offense after not being featured much in the first 2 weeks. There is a lot of competition for targets in New Orleans, but Watson remains the best option from the tight end spot.
QB Matt Ryan
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 35 - 374 - 5 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0 - The veteran felt pressure repeatedly during the first quarter and either had to throw the ball away or behind receivers. However, he also converted multiple third-down targets during his second drive, including a dig route to Calvin Ridley
, which he followed with a stutter-go for a touchdown to tie the game. Ryan took a sack from rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport who bulled through Alex Mack on a third down during Atlanta’s third drive. Ryan overshot Ridley on a deep post in the middle of the second quarter and two Saints defenders committed uncalled fouls on Ridley during the route. Ryan underthrew a deep post to Ridley that resulted in a 45-yard penalty on the defense and put Atlanta in the red zone to begin the second half. Ryan found Ridley along the end line for the third touchdown. Ryan re-took the lead with his fourth touchdown pass – this one to Tevin Coleman
at the right sideline in the red zone. Ryan found Jones on a deep post and laid it up there to let Jones run under it and even slow down for it in the fourth quarter. However, pressure continued to hound Ryan. Cameron Jordan got his second sack of Ryan in the game—this time on a third down in the red zone that forced Atlanta to kick a field goal to take a two-point lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, but the Saints committed a personal foul and gave Atlanta a first and goal inside the Saints’ three. Ryan found Sanu on the next play off a sprint right to the front pylon but the Saints forced overtime, won the toss, and scored a touchdown on the opening possession for the win.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 1 (3 targets) - The Saints limited Coleman to modest gains early. His best run of the half was an eight-yard draw play with a little more than a minute left deep in their own territory in a passing-down situation. Atlanta ran the same play to him on the next play for a loss, forcing a time out. Atlanta finally got Coleman outside on a run to left end with Coleman making a nice stutter towards the cutback inside and then continued bouncing to the sideline for a gain to the Falcons’ 38. Coleman scored on a short pass, ducking through a wrap at the sideline and extending the ball to the pylon early in the fourth quarter to retake the lead. He earned a second red zone pass in as many drives, getting Atlanta to the Saints’ three. He was stuffed on the next play due to good penetration up the middle.
RB Ito Smith
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - -6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (4 targets) - The rookie took a check-down from a play-action pass to cross midfield, taking it up the left sideline during the Falcons’ second drive. He earned a toss left in the red zone after Calvin Ridley
torched a pair of defensive backs for a 45-yard defensive pass interference penalty. The Saints stuffed Smith. He made two men miss on a check-down late in the third quarter to earn a first down late in the third quarter. He earned 19 more on a check-down up the middle and earned most of it untouched.
WR Calvin Ridley
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 7 - 146 - 3 (8 targets) - Ridley got open over the middle for a first down from the slot on a trips set during the second drive. Ridley followed with an end around for nine yards. Ridley converted a third down during his drive on a dig route, juggling the ball after a good route and managing to hang on. On the next play, he ran a stutter-go for the touchdown. Ridley began the next drive with curl for a first down. Ryan overshot Ridley on a deep post in the middle of the second quarter and two Saints defenders committed uncalled fouls on Ridley during the route. Ridley then beat two defensive backs on a deep post on the first drive of the third quarter and forced a 45-yard defensive pass interference foul that put Atlanta in the Saints red zone. Saints defensive back Patrick Robinson was carted off after the play. Ridley then worked back to the football along the end line for his third touchdown. He earned a first down with Jones working deeper on a third down and opening up the flat for Ridley on the crossing route in the late third quarter.
WR Julio Jones
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 96 - 0 (6 targets) - He converted a third down with a shallow choice route against a linebacker from the slot during the second drive of the game. Julio earned a first down near mid-field in the middle of the second quarter on a route breaking inside the defense for 17 yards. Jones earned a huge fourth-quarter catch on a 58-yard post.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 36 - 1 (7 targets) - He began the game with a short out for a first down in the first quarter. Sanu made a great catch reaching for the ball over the middle on the move to reach the Atlanta 49 early in the third quarter. Ryan tried to squeeze a ball on the run in the tight pocket to Sanu against linebacker A.J. Klein but could not reach the receiver, setting up a 3rd and 13. He took a short out up the left sideline after breaking a tackle, reaching midfield after the catch late in the third quarter. P.J. Williams committed defensive pass interference in the red zone against Sanu on a pivot route breaking inside. Sanu scored off a personal foul penalty that negated a field goal and put Atlanta inside the three. Sanu worked to the right front pylon on a sprint right for the touchdown. Sanu then worked back to Ryan for the two-point conversion to go up by seven.
TE Austin Hooper
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (4 targets) - He made the first man miss with a mini-hurdle in the right flat during the first drive. He earned a few yards in the left flat two drives later on another flat route. Hooper earned a two-point conversion on a quick seam route that came wide open early in the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati Bengals 21, Carolina Panthers 31
What you need to know
- -Giovani Bernard
was productive as both a runner and receiver with Joe Mixon
on the shelf. He will be a fantasy RB1 again next week if Mixon can’t return from injury.
left midway through the game with a strained groin and didn’t return. It doesn’t appear serious enough to keep him out of action next week.
led the team in receiving for the second-straight week and is having a breakout third season. He is the clear #2 over John Ross
was excellent and is quickly rounding into form.
- The Panthers have expertly dealt with crushing offensive line injuries, with their cohesiveness typical of a unit that has played together for years. The line's excellent play both as run blockers and pass protectors gave Cam Newton
the perfect platform to attack the Bengals downfield. Norv Turner's offense suits Newton's deep to short mindset as a passer down to the ground, and the quarterback looked poised and confident. His role as a runner remains a big part of the offense and if anything has been reemphasised under Turner's watch. Christian McCaffrey
produced his finest rushing performance as a Panther, dodging and weaving past tacklers as often as he lowered the shoulder to initiate contact, often breaking tackles. Such was the success the Panthers had running the ball that McCaffrey was a non-factor in the passing game. Devin Funchess
continues to be the most trustworthy downfield option for Newton, although the pair missed a few connections due to high, erratic passes. Ian Thomas
played almost 80% of the snaps and is beginning to build a rapport with his quarterback.
QB Andy Dalton
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 46 - 352 - 2 TD / 4 INT - Dalton made some nice passes and was able to move the ball through the air against a tough Panthers defense. While the four interceptions on the stat sheet look bad, only one was really on Dalton. The Bengals effectively utilized what looked to be an RPO scheme with Dalton having the option to pull the ball back from Gio Bernard and hit the backside slant to either A.J. Green
or Tyler Eifert
. The play was a go-to for the offense. It produced gains of 9 yards to Green and 11 yards to Eifert on the opening drive. Dalton should have had a touchdown pass on the opening drive, but Green dropped a perfect pass in the end zone and Bernard ran it in the next play. Dalton’s first interception came on a 3rd-and-17 when he threw up a jump ball downfield to John Ross
. The cornerback outfought Ross for the ball. Dalton’s second cornerback came on the backside slant that had been so successful. With Green out, his replacement Josh Malone
was slow to cut inside and the cornerback was able to arrive and make a hit at the same time as the ball arrived, which popped it up into the air. Dalton’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd
was one of his more impressive throws of the season. The pocket broke down and Dalton pulled the ball and left. He threw a dart across his body to hit Boyd in stride in the back of the end zone. Dalton later hit Boyd for a 49-yard gain on a similar broken play scrambling to his left and lofting it to Boyd down the sideline. Dalton’s third interception came late in the fourth quarter. After a sack backed the Bengals up deep, Dalton tried to hit Ross on a deep route. Dalton threw the ball outside to the seam while Ross seemed to break the route off an jog toward the inside. The usually sedate Dalton was irate at Ross and while it was unclear where the route was supposed to go, it is clear the two are not on the same page and Dalton is growing extremely frustrated with Ross. The final interception was on an irrelevant Hail Mary on the final play of the game with the Bengals trailing by 10.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 61 - 1, Rec: 5 - 25 - 0 (9 targets) - The Bengals leaned heavily on Bernard early, feeding him six touches on the opening drive of the game, which Bernard capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run. It was an impressive effort. It looked like he was stacked up a yard short, but Bernard kept his legs driving and was able to take advantage of a late push by the line to surge into the end zone. Bernard’s best run went for 23 yards. It looked like he was bottled up at the line but he was able to bounce it outside and then weave his way back to the center of the field. It was a solid game for Bernard but the Bengals seemed to have to game plan differently without Mixon, mostly trying to get Bernard outside with very few attempts up the middle.
WR Tyler Boyd
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 6 - 132 - 1 (7 targets) - Boyd was the star of the game for the Bengals, leading the team in receiving for the second-straight week. Boyd’s first few touches came on plays designed to get him the ball in space. The first was a short crossing route off of play action. The next came on a jet sweep handoff. He caught a 23-yard pass on a deep out route. Boyd did most of his damage late in the game, after A.J. Green
left with injury to leave Boyd as the clear top remaining receiver. Boyd had a 27-yard touchdown reception on a scramble drill. Dalton escaped the pocket and sprinted toward the sideline while Boyd ran in the same direction across the back of the end zone. Boyd’s other big gain, a 49-yard catch, came on a similar broken play with Dalton scrambling to the left. Boyd sprinted downfield and got behind the defense, allowing Dalton to loft it deep down the sideline to him.
WR A.J. Green
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 58 - 0 (8 targets) - Green looked headed toward another big game but had to leave the game with a strained groin on the first drive of the second half and didn’t return. Early indications are the injury isn’t serious and he should be back next week. With 1st-and-goal inside the 5-yard line on the opening drive, Green was targeted twice in a row in the end zone. He was only able to get one hand on a fade attempt into the corner of the end zone. The next play, he ran a crossing route and was wide open. Dalton hit him in the chest and it looked like Green had pulled it in, but his knee took a huge divot of turf and he landed hard, which caused the ball to come close. Green made a spectacular 31-yard catch along the sideline with an incredible toe drag while securing the ball heading out of bounds.
WR John Ross
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (7 targets) - It was another brutal outing for Ross, who needs to show more focus, effort, and toughness. Ross was at least partially at fault for two interceptions. The first was a jump ball where Ross made a mediocre effort and the cornerback simply went up more aggressively and made the play on the ball over Ross. The second, Ross was double covered on a post route and gave up on the play. Dalton threw the ball anyway and it was easily intercepted. Ross also got a step on a defender on a post route and could have had a 50-yard touchdown, but let the ball go right through his hands. Ross had a nice 8-yard catch on a slant from the slot and was tackled just short of the end zone. He held on through contact to setup the Bengals second touchdown on the next play.
TE Tyler Eifert
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 74 - 0 (8 targets) - Eifert had his best game in years and looked fantastic. He was deadly on what looked to be an RPO play (or at least a play-action). Dalton would put the ball in Bernard’s chest while the line run blocked. On the backside, Eifert would run a slant, often matched up against a linebacker. With the inside defenders drawn up by the run threat, Eifert was able to easily establish inside position and pick up yards in chunks. He showed some real physicality after the catch as well, lowering his pads and running through attempted tackles. Eifert made an impossible-looking grab for 20 yards. He went up high to make the grab and somehow held on even though the defender had two arms between Eifert and the ball.
QB Cam Newton
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 24 - 150 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 10 - 36 - 2 - Cam Newton
played a very controlled game behind an offensive line that is outdoing itself. The pocket for Newton was clean most of the day - a forced fumble the only blemish on an otherwise unspoiled card - and he took full advantage. Newton often looked deep to short with his passes, tossing some lovely downfield darts to the likes of Devin Funchess
and Torrey Smith
. However, Newton's usual erratic accuracy came into play early as he threw passes too high for either Funchess or Smith to haul in. When he settled down, however, buoyed by a stellar rushing attack, he began to pick out his targets. Newton scored his first of two rushing touchdowns off a bootleg on 3rd and goal, taking a gap when he saw it to barrel his way in. Later, he would reach pay dirt again off a veer look, doing an excellent job of holding the ball in Christian McCaffrey
's belly before pulling it at the last second. Newton tossed his first touchdown pass with the offense set up in the red zone, firing a bullet pass into Funchess on a slant off play action. It was an exquisitely executed fake that had the Bengals on their heels. Newton added a second touchdown pass later on a backside screen pass to C.J. Anderson
, who following his blocks to the end zone as Newton watched on gleefully. With the ground attack humming, Newton maintained control of the offense late on, firing some key strikes to his receivers on third down to convert and get enough breathing room to finish the game off.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 67 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 184 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - In a performance that is certain to turn the heads of some critics, Christian McCaffrey
put to bed any notion that he can't run between the tackles. From the first snap, McCaffrey showed his toughness, grit and no-nonsense approach as he shrugged off tacklers on his way to steady chunks of yardage. The offensive line provided an excellent platform for McCaffrey, but his patience and vision to wait for blocks to develop and holes to run through were exemplary. McCaffrey was predominantly asked to run between the tackles, which he did with great efficiency, but at times he showed off his ability on stretch plays, another element of his game that he clearly has room for growth in. He got the nod in the red zone on several occasions but was stopped each time by a stubborn Bengals defense. However, he played a big role in Cam Newton
's second rushing touchdown. Off the veer look, Newton rode the exchange point with McCaffrey, who was darting left to right parallel to the line of scrimmage and caught the eyes of some Bengals defenders. That opened a crease for Newton to exploit. When the Panthers were trying to chew up the clock, McCaffrey got the call again and delivered, breaking off some powerful interior runs.
RB C.J. Anderson
, 3 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 24 - 1 (1 targets) - C.J. Anderson
played second fiddle to the irrepressible Christian McCaffrey
but managed to take advantage of all the defensive attention on his backfield mate. With both backs flanking Newton in the shotgun, McCaffrey veered out to the right flat, forcing a reaction from Cincinnati's defenders. Meanwhile, Anderson sneaked out to the left, caught a lofted pass from Newton and trucked upfield behind some excellent blocks from his offensive linemen. Anderson waltzed into the end zone for the easy score. Otherwise, Anderson was only on the field for two more snaps and contributed little.
WR Devin Funchess
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 67 - 1 (7 targets) - If the passing attack for Carolina had an engine against the Bengals, it was Devin Funchess
, who made the best of some errant Cam Newton
passes at times. The very first target of the game from Newton saw Funchess get wide open on a standard dig route, but the pass was too high even for the lanky receiver to haul in. Funchess remained focused and had to slide to save a Newton pass from hitting the ground a few plays after that. Funchess cashed in on his red zone opportunity, a beautiful quick slant off play action that Newton fired between the 1 and the 7 on Funchess' jersey. Funchess showed terrific leaping ability in the final stages, vaulting into the air to catch a high Newton pass on a key third down.
WR Torrey Smith
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (6 targets) - Torrey Smith
endured a mixed bag of a game; from dropping an easy pass on a perfectly thrown dart from Cam Newton
to producing a pair of critical third down catches with smooth route-running. Smith was the target on the opening play of the game, a deep shot down the right sideline that floated too far outside for the receiver to run underneath. Later in the game, a defensive back read Smith's route - an inside-breaking dig pattern - and undercut it, but was unable to make the interception as Newton targeted his speedster.
WR D.J. Moore
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Even after the proclamations and promises of head coach Ron Rivera to get rookie D.J. Moore
more involved, it was not to be against Cincinnati. Moore played a little under half the snaps and was only targeted downfield once, a corner route that was out of his reach. Moore was utilised again as ‘window dressing' on jet sweeps and backfield motions, but did little with these opportunities, drawing a facemask penalty on a jet sweep handoff and getting tackled quickly on a quick screen.
WR Jarius Wright
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Jarius Wright
was quiet for the most part against the Bengals, playing less than 40% of the snaps. With the rushing attack firing on all cylinders, Wright wasn't required in multiple wide receiver sets as the Panthers leaned on two tight end sets more often. Wright's lone reception went for a first down, a key catch that helped to kick start Carolina's first touchdown drive.
TE Ian Thomas
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - For a rookie, Ian Thomas
has taken to this offense with aplomb and doesn't look out of place. The young tight end played almost 80% of the snaps and produced a highlight moment on a seam route, catching the ball as he was contacted low by a torpedoing defender. Thomas was targeted on a sideline toss from Cam Newton
, but the pass was too late for the tight end to adjust and secure it in bounds.