LeSean McCoy suffered some severely bruised ribs, so his status moving forward will be murky at best. For those of you unsure if it’s worth picking up his backup, the name to keep an eye on is Marcus Murphy. I know Chris Ivory scored the rushing TD this week, but anyone who follows the Bills knows that Murphy is the real #2 back here and is much more of a threat in the underneath passing game. Rookie QB Josh Allen looked great in shorts before the game and threw a flailing duck 61 yards downfield in another example of him displaying the strongest arm in the NFL already. I don’t mind it in 2QB leagues if you need to use him as a reserve or bye-week fill-in. By the time your starters will be taking their bye weeks, Allen will be working through a much easier schedule for pass defenses. I know I’m going to get killed for this, but there are rumblings that Zay Jones is a preferred target for Allen, and if you need a sneaky waiver wire pickup this week, Jones wouldn’t be the worst option in the world.
Looking at the Chargers in this game, we should really only look at the first half of play since they closed the playbook at the half being up 28-3. Phillip Rivers made Vontae Davis retire from football in just one half of play, he was that good. Melvin Gordon tallied 3 TD’s on roughly 75 total yards (mostly in the passing game). Austin Ekeler had 11 carries for 77 yards, most of which was in the first half of play. It was nice to see the Chargers get Mike Williams going on the outside and a red zone target for a TD. For those of you who are desperate for TE help, it was noticeable that Virgil Green ran more plays, routes, and had more targets/catches than Antonio Gates by quite a bit. Green is the LAC tight end you want in this offense. It was another workmanlike performance for Keenan Allen, who had Tre White shadowing him for most of the game.
For the Lions, it’s a better performance for Matt Stafford who must have owned Theo Riddick in his own PPR league. Riddick finished with 9 catches for 47 yards with 12 targets. Also important to note that Kerryon Johnson had 6 targets out of the backfield as well. The big story was how the ball was spread out between the three wideouts in Detroit. Golden Tate had 13 targets and tallied 109 yards on 7 catches. Kenny Golladay continues to impress with 6 catches on 9 targets for 89 yards and a TD. Marvin Jones was not a ghost this game, also seeing 9 targets and having 4 receptions for 54 yards and a TD. I said in my preview of this game that you could be comfortable starting all 3 of them. They all put up respectable numbers. I would be concerned about starting a RB for the Lions not named Theo Riddick in PPR leagues as the rushing splits really limit Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, with both seeing 8 carries.
Looking toward what the 49ers did in this game, the big takeaway is the Matt Breida is just a better RB than Alfred Morris both in fantasy and in real life. Morris had 3 more carries than Breida, but Brieda showed breakaway ability and saw 4 targets in the passing game. The pass catchers for San Francisco in this game were not overly helpful to many lineups as nobody saw more than 4 targets for the entire game. I’m still bullish on Dante Pettis and George Kittle, but this was not a good showing for either. Tough day for owners of 49er pass catchers.
This was about as typical of a Tyrod Taylor game as you’re going to see. He struggled for 3.5 quarters of this one. His stat line came back to pretty normal with 246 yards passing, 1 TD 1 INT and 26 yards on the ground. The standout for Cleveland had to be Antonio Callaway getting a couple of big catches. Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, and David Njoku all had 7 targets a piece, but I’m still thinking Landry is the only WR on this team you can trust. It should be noted that Tyrod has never been known to exploit the TE mismatch against defenses, so until it’s Baker Mayfield time, I would keep expectations for Njoku down. Carlos Hyde is clearly the RB1 on this team and with the volume he’s getting (16/21 rushes by RB’s were by Hyde) you should be starting him every week. The Cleveland defense however is by far the best unit on this team and should be started in all formats. I’m almost at the point where I believe the defense is matchup-proof for fantasy purposes. I also would feel weird not including in a post about the Browns that Hue Jackson stinks as a head coach. There. Now I feel better.
The Saints are pretty straightforward for their fantasy value. Obviously you’re starting Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas. Kamara has been a monster in PPR formats as a lot of the top RB’s this year have struggled out of the gate. Thomas is of course a target monster and catching everything that comes his way. It was his second game in a row with a fumble, but he makes up for it with his production on plays he’s not fumbling. For now, I’m not sure how you can start anybody else on this team.
I… I don’t really know what to say about this game. Taking away the fake punt TD that Tennessee had, the only real highlight for me was that Mike Vrabel seems to have found out that Taywan Taylor should be getting more touches. Taylor was a deep sleeper before the season and clearly has game-breaking talent. He only had 4 targets in this game, but found a way to score on one of them and should be getting more looks ROS. It is difficult to pull much from this offense since Blaine Gabbert was the “QB” starting and looked pretty much how you’d expect Blaine Gabbert to look.
As for the Texans, Deshaun Watson had a nice game fantasy-wise and was able to find his big targets in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V as both had over 110 yards and a TD. I’ve been very impressed with Lamar Miller this season, who only had 14 carries for 68 yards this week (4.9 yards per carry) and was very efficient in their loss to New England last week. Something to keep in mind with Watson though is that through two weeks, he is by far the most frequently pressured QB in the NFL (just shy of 50% of dropbacks he is pressured). Will be interesting to see if Watson can overcome the Bill O’Brien coaching struggles and OL woes or if we will witness a regression from last season (something I said would happen before the season started) that will make his QB2 draft status look foolish.
There’s not much to say about the Dolphins in this game. They won the game, but outside of Kenyan Drake rushing for 53 yards on 11 carries with a TD, there wasn’t much to be overly pumped about. This game was a defensive struggle all day. Albert Wilson still had 5 targets and converted those into 3 receptions for 37 yards and a TD. Was a much quieter game from Kenny Stills than I was expecting, but look for a return to glory for Stills next week.
The Jets were much more interesting in this game despite only putting 12 points on the board. Sam Darnold put up 334 yards passing in his 2nd NFL start on 25/41 passing. The rushing attack from Isaiah Crowell was non-existent and pretty pitiful to be honest. The big takeway from this game is that Quincy Enunwa should be owned in 100% of all leagues and should be starting 99% of the time. He saw 11 targets in this game. I was surprised to see Terrelle Pryor come from this game with 8 targets and 84 yards on 4 receptions. The other surprising stat line was Robby Anderson only seeing 5 targets with 3 receptions for 27 yards. He feels like the 3rd wheel for this WR group and not in a good way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets end up moving Anderson to a WR-needy team here in the next few weeks. Bilal Powell had 5 receptions in this game for 74 yards and a TD, making him PPR viable as Darnold clearly is looking for him on swing passes and screens.
Let’s just go right to the RB’s because they present the biggest fantasy football dilemma. James White took 34 snaps in their game. Rex Burkhead had 15 snaps and Sony Michel had 13 snaps. Those numbers are pretty staggering. It seems fairly obvious to point out that Tom Brady feels much more comfortable with White on the field, as White led the team in targets and receptions (8 targets, 7 receptions, 73 yards through the air). Rob Gronkowski was neutralized in this matchup and Chris Hogan took 5 targets and converted them into 2 TD’s. Otherwise, this was an ugly performance for the Pats offense. Their OL is not good enough to deal with the pressure of the Jags defense. Now speaking of those Jags…
Blake Bortles is quite the poster boy for those of us who think RB’s are not at all valuable and shouldn’t be drafted with high picks. In the 4 games Leonard Fournette has missed with the Jags, Bortles averages over 310 YPG, has 9 TD’s with 1 INT and the Jags are 4-0 in those games. I’m going to be compiling some more data on this phenomenon and will be tweeting out some findings later in the week (@reidkash17). As for the rest of the offense, T.J. Yeldon looked completely fine running the ball in place of Fournette. The star of this game was Keelan Cole and I hope everyone was witness to his incredible sideline catch. Cole finished the game with 7 catches for 116 Yards and a TD. Donte Moncrief had 9 targets in this game as Bortles was spreading the ball around. Dede Westbrook finished with 5 targets for 4 catches with 83 yards and 61-yard TD to really solidify the win for Jacksonville. Corey Grant is a sneaky PPR play if Fournette misses next week. Grant brought in 6 catches for 56 yards and still saw 7 targets.
That’s it for this set of games. Thanks for reading.