Welcome to the 3M report for week three. A look back on all the magic, mayhem, and mishaps from the weekend’s games.
Thursday Night Football had the potential to be a great game but the Texans failed to show up, losing 27-0 on the road to the Jacoby Brissett led Patriots. As a Packers fan it pains me to say this, but Tom Brady’s absence these first four games have cemented Bill Belichick as the greatest NFL head coach of all time. Go ahead and rename the Lombardi trophy to the Belichick. In the first two games of the 2016 season’ he prepared Jimmy Garoppolo for wins against the championship caliber Arizona Cardinals on the road and a big performance against the division rival Dolphins. With just three days to prepare Brisset for JJ Watt and the Texans defense, Belichick installed an offense that his third-round rookie, third-string quarterback was comfortable enough in to put up 27 points. The Texans blitzed without a spy to counter all the short passing but coverage felt soft negating what they were trying to do defensively. LeGarrette Blount ran all over the Texans going over 100 yards and posting two touchdowns including a 41-yard dagger in the fourth quarter. Brissett also showed off his running ability with a 27-yard rushing touchdown.
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There’s not much to say about the Texans offense. Nuk Hopkins made a couple of amazing catches as usual but Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller were largely ineffective. Is it just me or does Miller not have the same burst and explosiveness as he did in Miami? Is it the added weight or is he already wearing down under his increased workload?
I felt all week that this was going to be a “get right” game for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. In the first half, Rodgers had four touchdown passes, two to Jordy Nelson. As usual, the Packers took their foot off the gas after building a big lead in the first half and only managed to add a field goal in the second half. It was nice to see Eddie Lacy get a 100-yard game again but no touchdown leaves a bad taste in my mouth considering the game script. The Lions defense is putrid so it may be too early to say they are completely back to form. It’s certainly a feel-good kind of game though heading into the bye week.
After the Jets dismantled the Bills in week two, there were quite a lot of people on the Cardinals this week. I wasn’t one of them. This felt like an extremely trappy kind of game to me. Arizona’s offense came out flat and after a pair of LeSean McCoy touchdowns were down 0-17. On the Cardinals first five possessions they managed just two total yards of offense. A David Johnson touchdown with under a minute left in the first half closed the gap, but the Cardinals still put up less than 100 yards of offense going into the 3rd quarter. The Cardinals kicking team let them down yet again when rookie long snapper Kameron Canaday sailed the ball over injured holder Drew Butler’s hands. Carson Palmer was disappointing all day long and was intercepted on each of his final four possessions.
The Bills quite possibly could have saved Rex Ryan’s job with their performance Sunday. Because of how well the defense played, the offense was able to lean on Shady all day. Tyrod Taylor also added a 20-yard rushing touchdown.
The Vikings are legit Super Bowl contenders even with the loss of both Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater. Their defense frustrated Cam Newton all day long and forced three interceptions on the day. Newton did score a touchdown on the ground to save his fantasy day, but the performance was a far cry from his monster game last week. All week long the biggest question surrounding this game was the availability of Xavier Rhodes who was the Vikings best chance and slowing down Kelvin Benjamin. After two fantastic games, Benjamin gave his owners a goose egg in week three. Offensively, the Vikings didn’t need to do much after a return touchdown by Marcus Sherels and four takeaways by the defense, but Kyle Rudolph had a nice day with seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
In Tennessee, DeMarco Murray continues to show he is closer to the 2014 version of himself than the one Chip Kelly ruined in 2015. Murray put up 155 total yards and a touchdown, but unfortunately, some costly mistakes by Marcus Mariota allowed the Raiders to squeak out a win. Latavius Murray managed to get into the end zone but only produced 37 yards on ten carries and was largely outplayed by the more efficient running of DeAndre Washington. I get that Latavius is putting up RB2 numbers but the volume concerns make it uncomfortable to rely on him as more than a touchdown-dependent flex option for me.
Myself, and a ton of others I’m sure, were nearly eliminated in survivor pools this week when the Dolphins nearly lost to the Cody Kessler led Cleveland Browns. With Corey Coleman out with a broken hand, it was the Terrelle Pryor show. He contributed in all three phases of the offense with 35 yards passing, 21 yards rushing with a rushing touchdown, in addition to catching eight passes for 144 yards.
Ryan Tannehill had an up and down game but settled in with his old buddy Jarvis Landry who once again led the team in targets with 12, catching seven of them for 120 yards and a touchdown. Tannehill also tossed touchdowns to Devante Parker and Damien Williams, but it was Jay Ajayi who ultimately was the hero, scoring on an 11-yard run in overtime to give his team the win. Rookie Kenyon Drake got his first start but didn’t contribute much from a production standpoint.
Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley has had a long leash but after his third 0-3 start in the last four seasons, you have to think that he is a candidate for being replaced if he doesn’t get this thing turned around. Another offseason of excitement about the talent assembled by GM David Caldwell hasn’t translated into success in the win column. The defense forced three straight Ravens turnovers in the fourth quarter but the offense wasn’t able to capitalize and get the win. Blake Bortles threw two interceptions in Baltimore territory and Jason Myers had a 52-yard field goal attempt blocked. Chris Ivory was back in the lineup but could only manage 14 yards on 12 carries. TJ Yeldon was equally terrible but tied Bortles for the most rushing yards with 17. The lone bright spot for fantasy owners was that Allen Robinson got into the endzone twice.
Despite throwing two interceptions late, Joe Flacco is looking more comfortable with his receivers and at one point completed 21 straight passes for the Ravens franchise record. Steve Smith almost looked like his old self with eight catches for 87 yards. The backfield in Baltimore continues to be a huge cluster and I still believe this is rookie Kenneth Dixon’s job for the taking.
Despite the best performance from Odell Beckham this season, Washington was able to avoid going 0-3 by getting a win in the Meadowlands on the leg of Dustin Hopkins. In leagues that still use kickers, Hopkins owners got a nice boost from his five field goals. Sterling Shepard got in the end zone again and continues to be the best rookie wide receiver. On a wild play in the fourth quarter, Washington punter Tress Way completed a 31-yard pass to Quinton Dunbar off a fake punt that set up a field goal.
It was a costly win for Washington in terms of injuries. Center Kory Lichtensteiger, guard Shawn Lauvao, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and safety DeAngelo Hall all fell to injuries. The rematch between Beckham and Josh Norman lived up to its billing, In the fourth quarter Beckham beat Norman twice for big plays. Norman also was flagged for a vicious hit on Shepard.
With four touchdown performances from the likes of Trevor Siemian, is there any doubt that quarterbacks in standard one-quarterback leagues really don’t matter? Siemian was the butt of jokes when he was announced as the starter but he showed up in a big way today getting the Broncos off to a 3-0 start against a tough Cincinnati team on the road. The running game suffered this game with the usually productive CJ Anderson held to just 37 yards on 14 carries. Both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders went over 100 yards and got into the end zone. Sanders got there twice. Did anyone think Siemian could support two 100 yard receivers in the same game? I certainly didn’t. If for some reason he is still on the bench in your superflex or two QB leagues,you should probably go ahead and pick him up. In single QB leagues he is certainly a streaming option. The only players in this game that showed up for Cincinnati are Jeremy Hill who had 97 yards and two touchdowns and AJ Green who caught eight of his 11 targets for 77 yards. It was nice to see the running game get going but it was a disappointing home loss for the Bengals. Once they fell behind, Andy Dalton was rendered ineffective by the Denver defense.
Bad Ryan Fitzpatrick is back. Let me put it this way, if the Vegas line for Fitzpatrick interceptions in week three was 5.5 and you bet the under, you lost. The Jets showed up in Kansas City with a huge letdown game after a great win against Buffalo in week two. All you need to know about the fantasy production from New York is that Bilal Powell was their leading receiver with six catches for 41 yards. Oof.
Alex Smith was his normal boring self but did enough to get the victory and make Travis Kelce a great start this week. Spencer Ware was serviceable but didn’t get in the end zone. On an unfortunate play in the third quarter, Ware extended for what Kansas City thought was a touchdown that would put them up 24-3, but upon review officials determined he actually fumbled before breaking the plane, resulting in a touchback for the Jets. Fantasy Football is a cruel mistress when it comes to running backs in 2016.
The Chargers continue to Charger, giving away another game late. TY Hilton broke a tackle and outran several defenders on his way to a 63-yard touchdown reception with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers had another chance to win it but rookie tight end Hunter Henry who started in place of injured Antonio Gates was stripped from behind by Clayton Gathers. Melvin Gordon was mostly held in check in his first game without Danny Woodhead this season. He scored a touchdown to save his fantasy day but only gained 35 yards on 16 carries.
Outside of Antonio Brown’s 12 catches for 140 yards, no one on the Steelers showed up today in a game the Eagles dominated from start to finish. Many had Steelers atop their power rankings entering week three but the Eagles had other ideas. Rookie Carson Wentz was impressive once again for Philadelphia, throwing for 301 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews. Rookie running back Wendell Smallwood carried the load for 79 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Ryan Mathews was invisible with just two carries for negative five yards. He didn’t play a snap after the first quarter and as of this writing there has been no explanation for his absence. I have to think it has something to do with an ankle injury he has been dealing with since training camp.
In Seattle, Russell Wilson went down with another ankle injury in the third quarter, but it didn’t matter as the Seahawks were up 30-3 before the Niners sniffed the end zone. Carlos Hyde helped out his fantasy owners with two garbage time rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter in what was otherwise a depressing day for the San Francisco offense. Doug Baldwin was downright dominant on his ten catches for 164 yards and a touchdown but the story of the day was Jimmy Graham’s return to fantasy relevance. He lost a fumble but finished the day with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. With both Graham and Victor Cruz playing well early this season, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate how we view players coming off of the formerly devastating patellar tendon tear. Tyler Lockett was productive in the return game but failed to register a single target in the passing game. Momma said there’d be days like this.
Todd Gurley didn’t have an efficient day but he finally rewarded his fantasy owners with two touchdowns to go with 85 yards on his 27 carries as the Rams pulled out the road victory against the Buccaneers. Tavon Austin finally showed up as well with 5 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Jameis Winston was mostly spectacular, throwing for three touchdowns, but his one interception set up a Gurley touchdown plunge. Mike Evans was beastly going 10 for 132 and a touchdown and it felt like Tampa Bay was rallying for a comeback when officials called a weather delay during the two-minute warning due to lightning. Charles Sims filled in admirably for the injured Doug Martin with 124 total yards and a touchdown.Ultimately, it wasn’t enough and the Rams got the win and the top spot in the NFC West. You heard right, the Rams are currently in first place in the NFC West. Let that sink in for a minute.
To wrap up Sunday, the Cowboys jumped out to a 24-3 lead over the Chicago Bears at halftime. Cole Beasley continues to be rookie quarterback Dak Prescott’s favorite target but Dez Bryant got into the end zone for the second consecutive week as well. Zeke Elliot got to do what he was drafted to do – salt away a game. The rookie running back finished with 30 carries for 140 yards. On the Bears side of the ball, Zach Miller caught both of Brian Hoyer’s touchdown passes but Kevin White was the target leader with 14. Unfortunately, the 33-year old second year rookie was only able to haul in six of those for 62 yards. Jeremy Langford went down with an ankle injury in the second half. Jordan Howard filled in and had a nice 36 yard gain, but his other eight carries only yielded an additional nine.
Can you guys believe how fast the season is going? After next week we will already be a quarter of the way through the NFL regular season. Have a great week and I’ll see you next Monday with another edition of the 3M report!