Welcome to the week eight 3M report; a look back at all the magic, mayhem, and mishaps from the weekend games.
Blake Bortles is amazing. Amazingly bad as an actual NFL quarterback, but amazingly good at saving his fantasy numbers with garbage time production. He did it again on Thursday night in Nashville. Bortles started slow and for the 21st consecutive game, the Jaguars failed to score on their opening drive. In fact, it wasn’t until the third quarter when Jacksonville was down 27-0 that Bortles was able to put together a scoring drive. He threw two more meaningless touchdowns late in the fourth quarter giving his fantasy owners a 30 point day despite a garbage performance which led to the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Allen Robinson owners are left wondering if they even have a startable asset anymore.
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Demarco Murray continues to crush the box score with 21 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown, but the most interesting takeaway from this game is the emergence of Derrick Henry. Perhaps it was mostly because of game script, but the rookie set career highs in carries and yards on 16 for 60 and a touchdown. He was involved in the passing game as well catching four for 37. There are still five weeks left to navigate in the bye week gauntlet so it’s possible we may get some startable weeks out of Henry with matchups against the Chargers and Colts looming in the next several weeks, and another game against Jacksonville in the all-important week 16.
The final London game of the 2016 season ended with a tie, which seems fitting in a place where soccer (ok, ok, futbol) is the most popular pastime. It was another game filled with kicking nightmares for both teams. Both Mike Nugent and Dustin Hopkins missed key field goals that would have given their teams the win. It was Nugent’s missed extra point that ultimately sent the game to overtime in the first place. What is going on with kickers this season?
The 27-27 final score wasn’t the only tie in this game. Four players, one receiver and one tight end from each team had nine receptions. Spooky.
All the relevant fantasy players in this one had good days for their owners. It was great seeing both Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert return to their usual dominant selves, especially in the red zone. Reed made an extremely athletic move then ran through the entire defense on his touchdown reception and Eifert made an acrobatic catch in the end zone on a poorly placed pass.
There’s been a ton of discussion in recent weeks about Seattle’s lack of talent on the offensive line finally catching up with them due to Russell Wilson’s leg injuries. That fact is highlighted by George Fant, their starting left tackle on Sunday. The last time Fant started a game was in seventh grade. It’s crazy how a guy like that even ends up in the NFL, let alone starting a regular season game. The Seahawks lose this one and Russell Wilson has now gone three straight weeks without throwing a touchdown pass. If he can’t get going against the Saints then when can we trust him as a starter? C.J. Prosise was back healthy and led the team in receiving, catching all four targets for 80 yards to go with 23 yards rushing.
Mark Ingram was benched after an early fumble that was recovered for a touchdown by Seattle. Tim Hightower took over the bulk of the duties and ran for 106 yards on 26 carries. Drew Brees spread the ball around with five players contributing at least 36 receiving yards. Brandin Cooks caught the only touchdown pass on a 2-yard slant.
Carolina got up early on Arizona when Carson Palmer fumbled and Thomas Davis took it in for a 46-yard recovery touchdown. Jonathan Stewart was productive early with two touchdowns in the first half. Cam Newton didn’t account for a single touchdown, but it didn’t matter with the way the defense played. The Panthers pass rush has been anaemic all season but got to Palmer for eight sacks on the day. At one point, in the third quarter the Cardinals faced an impressive third and 44 after several penalties, including, an unsportsmanlike 15 yarder on Palmer for aggressively arguing against an illegal use of hands penalty. JJ Nelson caught two touchdowns and John Brown scored on a 17-yard pass in the third quarter. Even David Johnson was mostly held in check with just 24 yards rushing. His fantasy owners were still happy with his seven receptions for 84 yards.
I’m a believer that Tom Brady will be able to play into his forties if he does, in fact, want to. It’s disgusting how good he still is in this offense at 39 years old. He threw four touchdowns to four different receivers, including one to Julian Edelman, who needed to get one to reassure his fantasy owners that the production was coming. Brady’s 53-yard touchdown toss to Rob Gronkowski was a thing of beauty with Gronk marauding through the defense like a barbarian charging into battle.
Buffalo’s offense just isn’t the same without LeSean McCoy. It’s a real shame they forced him back into action early, elongating his absence. Mike Gillislee played well in relief and got his owners 85 yards and a touchdown, but the offense just doesn’t have enough firepower to go toe to toe with the Patriots. Missing three of their top four receivers doesn’t give Tyrod Taylor a lot to work with so he made some plays with his feet, including a nice fourth down 26-yard rushing touchdown.
Alex Smith got knocked out of the game early for a few series after getting hit in the head. He cleared the concussion protocol quickly and only suffered a cut on his ear. While Smith was out of the game, Nick Foles came in and threw a touchdown to Travis Kelce. Smith left again early in the third quarter, this time with an actual concussion. Spencer Ware was also lost in the first half to an apparent concussion. Charcandrick West finished the game as the Chiefs’ only healthy running back. Tyreek Hill continues to be a difference maker on a small number of targets. He caught five balls for 98 yards including a 34-yard touchdown from Foles.
Andrew Luck has been playing well lately, perhaps better than he has gotten credit for, but on Sunday he struggled against Kansas City. Luck was 19 for 35 with 210 passing yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception and was also sacked six times. The depleted Colts took a few more blows with Pro Bowl corner Vontae Davis and right tackle Joe Reitz both leaving the game with concussions. On a meaningless second to last play of the game Phillip Dorsett left the game with an undisclosed injury. The only good news for the Colts in this game was the return of Donte Moncrief who in his first game back led the team in receiving with nine targets, four catches, 44 yards, and a touchdown.
I thought we were on our way to a second tie of the day, but Derek Carr hit Seth Roberts on a 41-yard touchdown with just 1:45 left in overtime to give the Raiders the 30-24 victory. Carr threw for 513 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Amari Cooper made several spectacular catches on his way to 12 for 173 and a touchdown on 15 targets. Michael Crabtree was heavily involved as well with eight catches for 108 yards on 16 targets. Oakland’s backfield is still a giant mess for fantasy with all three backs cannibalizing each other’s production.
Jameis Winston struggled, overthrowing Mike Evans multiple times on downfield passes. Evans finished with just four catches for 50 yards. He was considered the number one play at WR in week eight by some experts and he certainly didn’t live up to the hype due to Winston’s play. Jacquizz Rodgers continues to fill in nicely for Doug Martin with 78 total yards and a rushing touchdown.
Brock Osweiler has struggled against good defenses this season and played well against bad defenses. He got the win at home against a bad Detroit defense who were missing several key defenders, including Darius Slay, but he didn’t do enough to support any of his targets in fantasy except C.J. Fiedorowicz. DeAndre Hopkins made a nice one-handed catch at the six-yard line which set up the short touchdown pass to Fiedorowicz. Meanwhile, Hopkins finished with just four catches for 44 yards. The Lions couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half. The lone bright spot was the return of Theo Riddick who sliced up the Texans for 133 total yards and a touchdown reception.
One of Cleveland’s best chances to get a win in 2016 was this past Sunday against the visiting Jets but they ultimately fell short 31-28. The Jets offense played poorly in the first half and was down 20-7 at halftime. They rode their running game in the second half with Matt Forte handling 25 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Bilal Powell also contributed with six carries for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The return of Josh McCown from injury injected new life into the Browns offense. McCown tossed two touchdowns to Andrew Hawkins. Terrelle Pryor continues to produce for us as well with six for 101 on the day. McCown also got Duke Johnson involved. He finally showed up big in the receiving game with six catches for 87 yards.
There were just two afternoon games and both came down to the final possession of the game.
In Atlanta, the Falcons’ Mohamed Sanu caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan with 31 seconds left on the clock to beat the Packers 33-32 in a game that lived up to its billing. Devonta Freeman was mostly held in check with just 58 yards from scrimmage but saved his fantasy owners with both rushing and receiving touchdowns. Julio Jones struggled. He caught three balls for 29 yards in the first half and received just one target after that, late in the fourth quarter. It seems like his ankle is bothering him
Without Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery who were integral to the Packers success in week seven, Aaron Rodgers was able to move the offense and threw four touchdowns to guys named Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, and Geronimo Allison. Jordy Nelson showed up in a tough matchup against Marcus Trufant with four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, restoring our faith in him as a fantasy starter for at least one week.
It seemed like the Denver defense was looking for revenge in week eight for a loss in San Diego just two weeks ago. They hit Philip Rivers 17 times with four sacks and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Bradley Roby. Melvin Gordon played well as both a rusher and receiver. San Diego had a chance to tie the game after driving down to the Denver two-yard line with three minutes to play. Instead of running with Gordon which had worked all game, the Chargers threw four consecutive incomplete passes and came away with zero points.
Trevor Siemian didn’t play great but distributed the ball well. Devontae Booker touched the ball 24 times for 84 yards and a rushing touchdown in his debut as the Broncos starting running back. He did fumble on San Diego’s two-yard line, prompting Denver to give Juwan Thompson a goal line carry and the touchdown. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are getting the targets but their production will continue to be limited by their quarterback.
Sunday Night was the battle of the two most impressive rookie quarterbacks in 2016 (Where are you, Jared Goff?). Carson Wentz played well but Dak Prescott and the Cowboys came away with the win 29-23 in overtime. Dez Bryant is back baby. He returned from a leg injury to post four catches for 113 yards and the game-tying touchdown. With 7:48 left in overtime Prescott found Jason Witten wide open in the end zone for the five-yard game-winning touchdown.
Philadelphia continues to struggle with ball security. Wendell Smallwood coughed it up in the fourth quarter which led to a Dan Bailey field goal. Jordan Matthews dominated the target share with 14 but managed just 65 yards on 11 catches, including a touchdown.
That will do it for the week eight report! Mo Brewington will be guest-writing the 3M report for week nine and I’ll see you guys again in week 10.