Peyton Manning will, of course, be in the Hall of Fame five years after he retires. It's now very fair to wonder if that will be in 2020. Manning looks done, so this could very well be his final year in the NFL.
It was almost painful to watch Manning in this game. He had zero zip on his passes, and he resembled a wounded animal that needed to be put out of its misery. In fact, Manning was extremely close to having one of the worst starts of his career. That may sound strange to anyone who didn't watch this game, given that he went 26-of-45 for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, but those numbers are very deceiving.
Manning's pick, which was returned for a score, was an inaccurate throw. That would've been fine if that was his only blemish, as the box score indicates, but he was so much worse than that. Manning nearly tossed a pick-six on the ensuing drive on a dead-armed throw. Right after that, he underthrew what seemed like a potential touchdown to Demaryius Thomas. Manning was nearly intercepted twice in the second half, including on one occasion in which two Kansas City players had their hands on the ball. Manning had other awful passes, missing Thomas on one occasion deep downfield and tossing several incomplete dead ducks. On the final drive, he had Jordan Norwood open inside the 5-yard line, but his throw was a bit too high.
Manning, however, threw a game-tying touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders. It was a perfect pass - a surprising one, at that, considering how putrid he was all night. It was bittersweet for Manning fans; the score helped win the game, but it was one of Manning's final great passes.
Of course, this all wouldn't have happened if the Chiefs were so careless with the football all afternoon. Jamaal Charles opened the game with a lost fumble inside the Denver 5-yard line. There was also a fumble on a kickoff return. Alex Smith threw two picks, one of which was his fault. The first interception was a telegraphed pass, but the other was tipped into the air. The second was a killer because it occurred in the red zone, nullifying a scoring opportunity.
The real killer, however, was Charles' late-game fumble. Following Manning's third touchdown, the Chiefs were content just to run the clock out and go to overtime. However, Charles fumbled, and Bradley Roby scooped up the ball and scored. And just like that, Denver prevailed in a game it definitely did not deserve to win. It's a shame for Charles, as the two cough-ups ruined what was otherwise a brilliant evening; he gained 125 yards and a score on 21 carries.
Why didn't the Broncos deserve to win? Outside of Manning's ineptitude, the team made so many horrible mistakes. They had three penalties on Kansas City's first drive alone. They converted a fourth-and-1 on a later possession, but there was a strange timeout that negated it. Late hits, missed tackles and unsportsmanlike penalties were prevalent throughout the evening. The Broncos were the sloppier team, and yet Kansas City had four more turnovers!
While Manning's struggles were predictable, the surprising aspect of this game was how poorly Denver's running game functioned. Both C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman struggled to find rushing room. Anderson mustered just 27 yards on 12 carries, while Hillman tallied 34 yards on nine attempts. Hillman's YPC figure looks nice, but most of his yardage came on a 16-yard burst. Anderson still remains a weekly play for now, but Denver's blocking is awfully sketchy. Maybe Kansas City's run defense is that good, but I'm beginning to have doubts.
Both of Manning's primary receivers hauled in eight passes, with Sanders securing two of the touchdowns. Sanders (8-87) is worth selling high in fantasy right now, given Manning's struggles. The same can be said for Thomas (8-116).
Manning's third score went to Virgil Green. Owen Daniels (3-19) disappointed once again. He's worth dropping at this point.
I mentioned that Smith tossed two interceptions earlier. He was 16-of-25 for 191 yards otherwise. He struggled immensely on third downs, going 0-of-7 in such situations. This game proved why the Chiefs do have any sort of chance at the Super Bowl with him at quarterback. He's so limited, and you can't even say that he takes care of the football anymore. The Chiefs would benefit from moving on after this year.
It's now a season and two games with Smith throwing a touchdown pass to a receiver. Jeremy Maclin led all wideouts in yardage, but accumulated only 57 yards on four catches. I still like Maclin though, so I don't mind him as a buy-low target.
Travis Kelce wasn't nearly as dominant as he was in the opener, but he logged four receptions for 58 yards. Exactly half of his yardage came on one play; he ran right by David Bruton, who had a poor effort on a tackle. That helped set up a Knile Davis touchdown, and at 24-17, it appeared as though Kansas City would pull through. An improbable Manning score and an inexplicable fumble changed that.
Patriots 40, Bills 32
This was the biggest game for the Bills since their playoff loss following the 1999 season, so of course, they fell completely flat on their faces. If losing to the Patriots once again wasn't bad enough, they completely embarrassed themselves in the process.
The Bills had one of the sloppiest games I've ever seen from a quality(?) team. After driving down the field very easily and holding Tom Brady to an initial three-and-out, they killed themselves with countless stupid mistakes. It began innocently enough on special teams, as two penalties ruined good field position. A long return by Danny Amendola and another infraction permitted the Patriots to start a possession inside Buffalo's red zone, which led to a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor then began screwing up, throwing an interception on a horribly inaccurate pass, allowing Malcolm Butler to come up with an impressive, diving catch, setting up yet another New England score. Taylor then took a sack because he held on to the ball too long, which was followed by a 33-yard punt.
The Patriots established a two-touchdown lead, yet the mistakes continued for the Bills. An illegal formation wiped out a 22-yard LeSean McCoy completion. A defensive hold negated a punting situation for the Patriots, which ultimately led to another New England score, thanks to a 40-yard catch by Dion Lewis, thanks to awful coverage by Nigel Bradham, who was horrible in this contest. Taylor ended the first half with a pick on a very late throw across the middle.
Did Rex Ryan manage to fix things after halftime? Nope. It just got worse. On one drive alone, the Bills saw Sammy Watkins drop a pass and commit offensive pass interference. The Bills then were called for two other infractions: an unsportsmanlike penalty and a hold by Cordy Glenn. Taylor then had Percy Harvin open downfield, but overshot him. Then, on a third-and-9, Taylor dumped a short pass to Robert Woods that was way short of the line to gain. Woods had no chance to get to the first-down marker. Again, all of this happened on just one possession. Unreal.
Adding injury to insult, Aaron Williams was knocked out on an ensuing New England touchdown and had to be taken off the field in an ambulance. And if that wasn't bad enough, the team gave its fans false hope by mounting a near-comeback. The Bills drew to within five, but more incompetence (pass interference, interception by Taylor that tipped off Watkins' hands) sealed things for New England.
The Bills gift-wrapped this victory for the Patriots with their countless, embarrassing blunders, but Tom Brady deserves all the praise in the world for his performance. Brady looked like a rotting corpse in the preseason, but has somehow been revived without any (known) cheating tactics. Brady sliced and diced Buffalo's alleged top defense, going 38-of-59 for 466 yards and three touchdowns. It didn't start well for Brady, who tossed a pair of checkdowns and then floated a ball out of bounds downfield. However, he fired a perfect, 36-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski down the seam, who was covered well. That was a sign that he'd go on to have a great afternoon, and surely enough, the Bills couldn't stop him whatsoever. He helped tally 507 net yards of offense, and his team punted just once as a result.
Brady threw two touchdowns to a single player, but it wasn't Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman snared 11 receptions for 97 yards and two scores. He saw a ridiculous 19 targets, which was double the amount of Buffalo's team leader (Sammy Watkins, 8). One of Edelman's scores came on a double team; he was able to get open when the two Buffalo players collided with each other.
It should not be a surprise that Gronkowski still had a dominant performance despite not catching a majority of Brady's touchdowns for once. Gronkowski tallied seven catches for 113 yards and a score. The touchdown came on single coverage against Stephon Gilmore, who foolishly told the media that he wanted to cover the league's best tight end one-on-one.
Despite Brady's great performance, he's not going to throw the ball 59 times, so it's safe to ignore Aaron Dobson and his seven-catch, 87-yard performance. Scott Chandler (3-23) should also be left on waivers.
One player you should have picked up last week (or drafted) is Dion Lewis, who once again was very impressive. Lewis had 138 total yards, 40 rushing (with a touchdown) and 98 receiving (on six catches). Something very telling was that Bill Belichick continued to use Lewis after he fumbled. Belichick has been notorious for benching fumblers, so he must have a lot of faith in Lewis.
On the flip side, LeGarrette Blount was barely used. He was given two carries, which he turned into four yards. This obviously has to be very disconcerting for Blount owners, but I wouldn't drop him just yet.
Speaking of disappointing players, Watkins had a miserable afternoon. Sure, he caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, but most of that came in garbage time. Watkins made a number of mistakes (drops, penalties) that resulted in failed drives and turnovers. I have no idea why he's struggling so much, but he's worth unloading if you can get close to equal value for him. I'm not sure how realistic that is, however.
Another player who had misleading stats, Tyrod Taylor went 23-of-30 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and a trio of interceptions. He also scored a fourth time on the ground with five scrambles for 43 rushing yards. Taylor's interceptions were all terrible, as Belichick appeared to confuse him. Most of his yardage came in meaningless action, and once the Bills were somehow within one possession, he fired a high pass to Watkins that was picked off.
Taylor's other touchdowns were thrown to Robert Woods (3-60) and Charles Clay (3-19). The former isn't worth rostering in 12-team leagues. Clay is an OK tight end, but you can usually do better.
LeSean McCoy had a decent outing overall, but it was disappointing after what DeAngelo Williams did to New England's stop unit in the season opener. McCoy gained 89 yards on 15 carries and caught all three of his targets for 27 receiving yards. McCoy had a great opening drive, but did nothing afterward, as the Vince Wilfork- and Dominique Easley-less Patriots somehow bottled him up.
Panthers 24, Texans 17
No Kelvin Benjamin, no Luke Kuechly, no Star Lotulelei. Apparently, it doesn't matter at all. It hasn't been pretty, but the Panthers have improved to 2-0 on the season.
Things weren't going well early for the Panthers, however. In fact, they trailed heading into the second quarter and then were tied in the third frame. Cam Newton had major issues dealing with J.J. Watt, failing to even complete a pass on the first couple of drives. He was also nearly picked right away, and then had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage. Newton also threw an interception in the first half, though it wasn't his fault, as the ball tipped off the hands of Kevin Norwood.
However, despite his slow start, Newton caught fire in the second half. Though he completed just 5-of-12 passes following the break, he was able to make some big plays. He hit Philly Brown for a 36-yard touchdown bomb in the fourth quarter, and before that, he scored a touchdown on the ground by doing a 360 in mid-air and somehow landing on his feet before someone knocked him over.
Newton finished 18-of-37 for 195 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception to go along with 10 scrambles for 76 rushing yards and a third score. The completion percentage and yardage don't look very impressive, but remember that Newton was dealing with a tough Houston defense.
Along with Brown, Ted Ginn (4-41) also caught a touchdown. Despite the fact that Ginn was targeted nine times (second most on the team), he really shouldn't be used in fantasy. He's not a terrible desperation play, but Ginn isn't an efficient player, so he'll continue to be inconsistent and he'll struggle to produce many weeks.
Greg Olsen predictably led the Panthers in targets with 14. He caught six of them for 70 yards, and he would've posted a much better stat line had Newton not been so inaccurate. He didn't score, so you might be able to acquire him from a frustrated fantasy owner for a low price. Olsen is one of the top fantasy tight ends this year.
While Carolina's offense struggled at times, it looked much better than Houston's scoring attack. The Texans failed to move the ball most of the afternoon, thanks to Ryan Mallett's horrible accuracy. And that "horrible" adjective is not an exaggeration by any means. Mallett's passes were all over the place. His initial throws were low, but then he began sailing high passes, one of which nearly got his receiver killed.
Mallett had a chance to win at the very end, but he sailed some passes way wide of his targets. He also did something very stupid when he attempted to throw a pass away while getting hit. It was initially ruled a fumble, but changed to intentional grounding. Because of the 10-second run-off rule, the game would have been over at that point if the Texans didn't have a spare timeout. That was just one of Mallett's many gaffes. He threw way short of the line to gain on a fourth down during the opening half, and then he fired an interception that he heaved into tight coverage unnecessarily when down just 17-10.
Mallett failed to complete half of his passes, going 27-of-58 for 244 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He missed out on a second score because Nate Washington (3-63) tripped over his own two feet. Mallett had one very good drive in the second half when the Texans went into a no-huddle, but then he began throwing horrible passes again. It's clear that he's not Houston's long-term answer. I have the Texans taking Christian Hackenberg in the second round of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
Because of Mallett's accuracy issues, DeAndre Hopkins reeled in just five of his 11 targets for 53 yards. Better days will come against inferior defenses.
Better days won't come for Alfred Blue. Expected to be the primary runner when Arian Foster sustained an injury, Blue disappointed last week and was given just five carries for six yards in this contest. He should be dropped in all formats, and no other Houston running back is worth picking up. Chris Polk led the way with 38 yards on just 14 carries. He's a non-talent who won't produce much, and Foster will be back in a couple of weeks anyway.
A few other Texans worth noting: Washington led the team with 63 receiving yards, but most of it (48 yards) came on one pass. Cecil Shorts paced Houston with 12 targets, but caught just six balls for 34 yards because Mallett was so brutal. Garrett Graham reeled in Mallett's only touchdown, but that was his sole catch.
Cardinals 48, Bears 23
This game was over before it really began. David Johnson took the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and after they stopped getting in their own way with a couple of mistakes, they were able to establish a huge lead to improve to 2-0.
Chicago offered very little resistance, as it continued to sport one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Bears were awful on that side of the ball. The trouble began when Kyle Fuller was flagged for a 42-yard pass interference on John Brown after being beten badly, setting up a short score to Jaron Brown. Alan Ball then took his turn with a deep pass interference flag, a 38-yarder, leading to a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown. Missed tackles and blown coverages were prevalent throughout the afternoon. John Fox has a lot of work to do.
Carson Palmer went 17-of-24 for 185 yards, four touchdowns and an interception that was a swatted pass in mid-air by Jared Allen. Palmer was on fire, but Chicago's putrid defense offered no resistance. If you happen to own Palmer, I'd recommend unloading him to a team that is enduring quarterback issues. Palmer, a ticking time bomb in terms of staying healthy, won't have the luxury of going up against Chicago's weak defense each week.
Another player you should attempt to trade is Larry Fitzgerald. Securing three of Palmer's four touchdowns, Fitzgerald logged eight catches for 112 yards otherwise. Fitzgerald can still get it done, but he's coming off two games against the worst defenses in the NFL. It'll be tougher for him to produce versus superior foes, and besides, it's only a matter of time before he gets hurt.
While Fitzgerald had a huge outing, only one other Cardinal had more than 20 receiving yards. That was John Brown, who snatched all five of his targets for 45 yards. Not shown on the stat sheet were two long pass interference calls, one of which he drew on Kyle Fuller, whom he beat quite easily. Fuller was ultimately benched in the second half.
Arizona's running game was unimpressive, to say the least. Chris Johnson handled most of the workload, but managed just 72 yards on 20 carries against a horrible defense. David Johnson scored a touchdown and looked better overall, gaining 42 yards on five attempts. David needs to be on the field more than Chris before Andre Ellington returns.
One last note before moving on to Chicago: Michael Floyd can be dropped in all formats. He failed to haul in his only target, as he's no longer any sort of factor in this offense.
Of course, it helped the Cardinals that Jay Cutler left the game with a hamstring injury. Cutler completed all but one of his passes, going 8-of-9 for 120 yards and a touchdown. However, the lone misfire was a pick-six that was thrown way behind Martellus Bennett. The Bears had no chance with Jimmy Clausen (14-of-23, 121 yards, INT), but Cutler would have just given the game away with more turnovers, so it didn't really matter.
With Cutler hurt and Alshon Jeffery missing in action, the Bears couldn't get anything going. The team's leader in receiving yardage was Bennett, who had just four catches for 48 yards. Eddie Royal (7 catches, 41 yards) didn't do anything besides reel in short passes.
Matt Forte had an OK fantasy day despite the ineptitude around him. Forte rushed for 61 yards on 15 attempts and also caught four passes for 44 receiving yards. Unfortunately, rookie Jeremy Langford vultured a touchdown when Forte was taking a breather.
Bengals 24, Chargers 19
Cincinnati's regular-season dominance continues. The Bengals have been prolific early in the season, especially at home, and they managed to take down a San Diego squad that had an impressive comeback victory against the Lions last week.
The Bengals ran all over the Chargers, but Jeremy Hill barely did any of the work. Hill had a disastrous afternoon; he rushed for just 39 yards on 10 carries, and he also fumbled twice, the second of which was actually a dropped pitch. Adding injury to insult, Hill hurt his knee in the third quarter and was sidelined for the rest of the afternoon. You have to feel terrible if you're a Hill fantasy owner, but I wouldn't give up on him. I would actually attempt to acquire him for a cheap rate. He's very talented, and the Bengals love him, so they won't give up on him.
Giovani Bernard, meanwhile, took advantage of his opportunity, tallying 123 yards on 20 attempts. He also caught three balls for 16 receiving yards. If you have Bernard, I would sell high because Cincinnati intended on giving Hill the majority of the carries going into the year. That could change in the wake of Hill's two fumbles, but Marvin Lewis is conservative and doesn't strike me as someone who would switch his strategy because of one game.
As for Andy Dalton, he went 16-of-26 for 214 yards and three touchdowns. He looked like he made a terrible blemish in this game when he was strip-sacked and had the ball returned for a touchdown by Jeremiah Attaochu, but replay review rendered it an incomplete pass.
Dalton's three scores all went to different players. Green caught the first one, which was an amazing leaping catch in the end zone. Green snatched three balls for 45 yards against a tough San Diego secondary.
Tyler Eifert (4-49) and Marvin Jones (2-48) caught Dalton's other touchdowns. Both led the Bengals with five targets. Eifert is going to continue to be a monster all year as a dominant intermediate target. Jones, on the other hand, isn't much of a factor. He actually hurt his team early on by falling down while coming out of his route to negate a potential first down.
As for the Chargers, Philip Rivers played mostly well, going 21-of-27 for 241 yards, two touchdowns and a very late interception in desperate time. The pick was just forced into tight coverage while Rivers was just trying to put together a last-minute comeback. Rivers also got lucky on the first of his scores, as the incompetent officials missed two penalties on the play: a clip and a block in the back. Rivers would've had a much better afternoon if his blocking happened to be better. Missing D.J. Fluker, San Diego had issues dealing with Geno Atkins, who terrorized Rivers for most of this contest.
Rivers spread the ball around, as three players led the team with six targets: Danny Woodhead, Ladarius Green and Stevie Johnson. The latter was the only one who caught a touchdown; Johnson logged five catches for 45 yards. He'll continue to produce, as Rivers raved about him in the preseason.
Keenan Allen had a disappointing outing. He caught just two balls for 16 yards. He also muffed a punt and dropped a pass on what was a sleepy afternoon for him. He'll bounce back. Besides, Malcom Floyd (2-55, TD) won't produce consistently. Pay no attention to him if you need a receiver. Green, meanwhile, caught five passes for 47 yards. He'll rebound as well; the Bengals made sure to take him out of San Diego's game plan.
Melvin Gordon's disappointing preseason seems like a million years ago. Gordon gashed the Bengals, who have a shaky run defense. He gained 88 yards on 16 carries, though he lost touches to Woodhead, who accumulated 36 rushing yards (seven carries) and 68 receiving yards (six catches). Gordon will continue to see the majority of the workload, and he'll have a greater percentages of touches when the team isn't in catch-up mode. However, Woodhead, who had just three touches by halftime, will be a big part of the offense when San Diego is trailing.
Browns 28, Titans 14
So much for Marcus Mariota being instantly inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mariota had one of the best debuts for a rookie quarterback in NFL history last year, but he had a rude awakening in his second start.
I wouldn't say Mariota played poorly, but he made some mistakes. He also didn't get much help from his teammates, particularly his offensive line, which lost Chance Warmack to a knee injury that required him to be carted off. Mariota took a beating throughout, taking a whopping seven sacks. It got so bad that he struggled to go to the sidelines during a timeout at some point during the second half.
Mariota had an interesting sequence in the fourth quarter that epitomized his afternoon. He threw his first incomplete pass if the second half at the 7:54 mark of the fourth quarter. It was nearly an interception, and his next throw, which was released as he was hit, was actually picked, though it was negated by a hands-to-the-face penalty. After the reprieve, Mariota threw a pass behind Harry Douglas, but then hit Dorial Green-Beckham for a touchdown as he was being tackled.
Mariota finished 21-of-37 for 257 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers look nice, but Mariota failed to complete many of his attempts because he had zero pass protection. He took so many big hits and fumbled twice as a consequence. The Browns also made sure he wouldn't run very much, as he scrambled just thrice for 19 yards. The silver lining, however, is that Mariota proved he can still be a decent fantasy producer even if he can't move around.
With Delanie Walker out, Anthony Fasano was Mariota's favorite target. Fasano caught five passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. The other tight end, Chase Coffman, was next on the receiving list with four catches for 42 yards. It goes without saying that neither should be added to your fantasy team because Walker will be back soon.
Kendall Wright had a disappointing performance, catching just two passes for 17 yards. Don't be too discouraged; Wright missed some action with a leg injury, and then struggled to get open against one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, Joe Haden.
One player who might stand out in the box score is Dexter McCluster, who gained 98 yards on 10 carries. However, most of it came on a 44-yard burst, which actually could have gone for about 80 and a touchdown if he wasn't tripped up in the open field. He's not a realistic fantasy option. Bishop Sankey, meanwhile, mustered just 42 yards on 12 carries, as he didn't get much of an opportunity to run the ball because the Titans were trailing throughout. Terrance West (3-10) was also mixed in, but lost a fumble on a promising Tennessee drive in the opening half.
Mariota is the former Heisman winner who actually has an NFL future, but Johnny Manziel won this contest because of three great plays. Two were perfect deep bombs to Travis Benjamin, one of which saw Manziel rolling out left to avoid pressure. The third terrific play was an 18-yard completion to Andrew Hawkins in which he scrambled right and impressively connected with his receiver.
However, despite the three glimpses of greatness, Manziel struggled otherwise. He finished 8-of-15 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, but take away those three plays, and he was just 5-of-12 for 44 yards. Not good, especially against a defense that isn't very talented. Having said that, I expect Manziel to keep starting until he loses. In other words, it may take Josh McCown a while to get cleared for his concussion.
As for Travis Benjamin, he needs to be ignored in 12-team leagues. Sure, Benjamin accumulated 115 yards and two touchdowns, but he was targeted only four times, and his quarterbacks still suck. Benjamin is just a situational deep threat, much like Devery Henderson was for the Saints a few years ago. He's not worth owning, and neither are Brian Hartline nor Dwayne Bowe. The two combined for four targets and zero catches.
The Browns ran the ball well, with Isaiah Crowell registering 72 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries. It's difficult to trust Crowell, despite his impressive score in which he made a defender miss, given Mike Pettine's maniacal approach to handling his running back rotation. Duke Johnson looked good (12-43), so he could receive a larger workload if Pettine decides to hate Crowell for some reason.
Vikings 26, Lions 16
The Vikings obviously weren't as bad as they looked in Week 1. They had to start a 9:20 p.m. game (local time), and in addition to Circadian rhythms, they had to battle a San Francisco team that was willing to do everything it could to prove it wasn't as bad as the media and public made it out to be. The Vikings, who were guilty of tons of blunders in that contest, were much better overall in this contest. In fact, they took advantage of some mistakes, including one play in which Captain Munnerlyn ripped the ball out of Lance Moore's hands.
Having said that, Minnesota did commit a few errors, most of which happened at the goal line, affecting Adrian Peterson. The long-time Viking running back tallied 134 yards on 29 carries and caught two passes for 58 receiving yards, but he could've enjoyed a much better afternoon. Peterson had a chance at three touchdowns, but failed to score on every occasion. The first was nullified by a review, and then Peterson was stuffed on the next play. Minnesota actually scored on the possession, with Teddy Bridgewater running into the end zone on a fourth down.
Peterson's second missed opportunity was a lost fumble on first-and-goal. Later, Peterson coughed up the ball again at the 1-yard line, though an offsides penalty negated the turnover. The Vikings gave the rock to fullback Zach Line, who vultured the touchdown.
As for Bridgewater, he must much better after a dreadful 2015 debut. Bridgewater, who was woefully inaccurate at San Francisco, misfired on just four occasions, going 14-of-18 for 153 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater's big gain was a 49-yarder to Peterson that he flipped to his running back as he was being taken down by a defender.
Bridgewater's sole score went to Kyle Rudolph, who snared five balls for 30 yards otherwise. Rudolph led the team with seven targets, as Bridgewater didn't have to throw very much because his team was well ahead throughout the afternoon.
Both of Minnesota's starting receivers had disappointing fantasy outings. Mike Wallace (3-38) and Charles Johnson (3-10) were each targeted on three occasions. It's nice that they secured all of the passes thrown to them, but they never had much of a chance, given that Bridgewater launched the ball just 18 times. I still like Johnson more than Wallace, despite the disparity in yardage. Wallace is unreliable and inconsistent, while Johnson is Bridgewater's favorite wideout.
Meanwhile, the Lions are now 0-2. Their defense isn't nearly as effective without Ndamukong Suh, but the offense isn't doing their part. Sixteen points against a team that had trouble stopping the Vikings isn't going to cut it.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is the lack of leadership on the team. Stafford took a dirty, late hit from Anthony Barr out of bounds at one point during this game. Despite this, barely any Detroit players rushed to defend Stafford. Given Stafford's lackadaisical attitude and poor work ethic, this doesn't surprise me at all.
Stafford threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers are deceiving, as a bulk of his yardage and second score came in garbage time. Stafford was also 32-of-53 and threw an interception, so he was mostly inefficient with a Brady Quinn-esque 5.4 YPA.
I suppose it's worth noting that Stafford led the Lions in rushing, but only because it must be pointed out how ineffective Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell were. A week after being trampled by Carlos Hyde, the Vikings smothered the line of scrimmage and bottled up the Detroit backs. Abdullah managed just nine yards on six attempts, while Bell was restricted to only two yards on four carries. Bell can probably be dropped in all leagues; he can barely move at all at this point, so unless he receives some bionic leg transplant, he'll continue to struggle. Abdullah, meanwhile, is a buy-low option of sorts, but I wasn't very high on this Detroit team heading into the season, so I can't be overly excited about that opportunity.
Stafford's only touchdown of consequence went to Calvin Johnson, who impressively tapped both feet inbounds. Megatron bounced back from a poor Week 1, logging 10 catches for 83 yards otherwise. He saw a team-high 17 targets.
Both Golden Tate and Eric Beron were next in targets with 10 each. Tate collected six receptions for 80 yards, while Ebron (5-43) snatched Stafford's garbage-time score. Both will remain decent fantasy options most weeks, and it's worth noting that Tate missed out on a touchdown because he slipped as soon as Stafford released the football early in the game.
Buccaneers 26, Saints 19
I didn't think the Saints would blow out the Buccaneers despite the 10-point spread because the offense has struggled in the red zone dating back to last year. However, that aspect wasn't the issue for New Orleans in this contest. The team had issues moving the chains regardless of where it was on the field.
It's crazy that the Buccaneers outgained the Saints. It was only by 10 yards, but that includes some garbage-time movement. New Orleans accumulated just 118 net yards by halftime - and this against a defense that allowed a rookie to throw four touchdowns in his first start.
Drew Brees appeared to be diminished last season, and he once again seems as though he's in sharp decline, at least as a fantasy producer. Brees' numbers weren't terrible - he went 24-of-38 for 255 yards, one touchdown and an interception - but he compiled some of his numbers in meaningless action when the Buccaneers were up 23-7 entering the fourth quarter. Brees' pick was an underthrown wobbler, and he was also strip-sacked, but the Saints managed to retain possession.
Despite all of this, I don't want to say Brees is done. To be fair, he's not getting any help from his supporting cast. He was sacked four times, a high number for a quarterback who releases the ball so quickly. Brees was sacked thrice by some guy named Jacquies Smith, who got around the inept Zach Strief pretty easily. Meanwhile, the receivers are also letting Brees down. Austin Johnson committed a drop on the opening drive, and Willie Snead was guilty of a fumble near midfield during the second half. It also should be noted that Snead saw six targets. He shouldn't even be involved in the offense, despite his garbage-time touchdown, so it's clear that the front office needs to upgrade the team's receiving corps next offseason.
Perhaps Brees' only talented wideout, Brandin Cooks, paced the team with seven targets. He converted five of them for 62 yards - disappointing numbers for a player of his caliber. I have faith that Cooks will rebound, so getting him cheaply seems like a good idea. However, the Brees situation is bleak. The poor blocking is definitely an issue.
Other New Orleans receivers of note: Marques Colston led the way with four grabs for 69 yards, while the promising Brandon Coleman secured three of his six targets for 33 yards.
The only Saint who had a quality fantasy outing was Mark Ingram, but only because he scored a touchdown. Ingram gained 53 yards on 16 carries otherwise. He also fumbled along the sideline in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, C.J. Spiller saw his first action on his new team. He touched the ball just four times, rushing for seven yards and catching a 19-yard pass. He'll be used more going forward, but is only an option in PPR formats - and an underwhelming one at that.
It's hard to believe that the better quarterback in this matchup was Jameis Winston, especially following his horrific debut. Winston went 14-of-21 for 207 yards and a touchdown. He opened much better, hitting Austin Seferian-Jenkins with a 21-yard strike - a major improvement over his awful interception last week. Winston's sole score was a rifle throw to Vincent Jackson in the end zone just prior to halftime. Winston had only a couple of bad plays, one of which was an overthrow toward Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone. Another was a fumble on a strip-sack in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, he played well.
Winston threw the ball just nine times after intermission because the Buccaneers were way ahead at that point. It's a shame from a statistical standpoint; Winston could've enjoyed a huge game, as the Saints couldn't get any pressure on him; he had all day to throw on many occasions. The secondary sucked as well; Winston's yardage doesn't include a long pass interference on Brandon Browner.
While Jackson snatched the touchdown, he actually trailed Louis Murphy in yardage. Murphy caught three balls for 82 yards, while Jackson secured three passes for 54 yards. Mike Evans, meanwhile, failed to haul in a single ball. He saw just three targets go his way, and he appeared to be hobbled. Evans probably shouldn't have even played, but then again, he was a distraction. He's a nice buy-low target; his owners have to feel very frustrated right now, but Winston's solid performance bodes well for his future.
Seferian-Jenkins caught two passes for 29 yards, but should've had a better fantasy outing, as Winston missed him in the end zone on a high pass. He remains a low-end TE1 option.
Doug Martin ran well again, gaining 78 yards on 21 carries. He also caught two passes for 20 receiving yards. He'll continue his bounce-back season, as he's motivated for the first time in years because he's in a contract season.
Gerald McCoy, who had a sack, sustained an arm injury in the fourth quarter. He's reportedly fine.
Redskins 24, Rams 10
Congratulations to the Rams. They won the Super Bowl last week when they beat the Seahawks, so they've decided to take the rest of the year off. Bravo.
St. Louis didn't show up to play this game. The team was sloppy and disinterested, and it played with no sense of focus. The defense overpursued everything, seemingly believing that it could beat the Redskins easily. The offense, meanwhile, couldn't get into any sort of rhythm, failing to generate any explosive plays, outside of a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Excluding that play, the Rams' longest play from scrimmage was just 16 yards.
The Redskins, meanwhile, took advantage of a sleepy opponent, unlike last week. The best player on the field was Matt Jones, a third-round rookie running back. Jones generated 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and also caught three passes for 23 receiving yards. The numbers are completely legit; Jones looked every bit as good as the stats indicate. He ran with great power and explosion, and St. Louis looked completely helpless to stop him. He opened the game with a 39-yard scoring run, and he managed to out-carry Alfred Morris by one, 19-18. If Jones is available in your league, pick him up and plant a computer virus in each of your opponents' laptops and cell phones so you can secure him. Jones is the real deal, and he could definitely take over as Washington's leading rusher, given that Morris was part of the old regime.
Morris, meanwhile, managed just 59 yards on his 18 attempts, and most of that (35 yards) came on one play. If you're a Morris owner, you need to begin looking for other starting options because you may not be able to use him much longer. Jones is the better talent, and the current regime has no ties to Morris.
Kirk Cousins went 23-of-27 for 203 yards and a touchdown. It was a reminder that when things go well for Cousins, he can look very good. Cousins was very accurate, but he's always going to be several interceptions away from going into a complete tailspin. Still, it's clear that he's an upgrade over Prima donna Robert Griffin.
With DeSean Jackson out, Cousins targeted Pierre Garcon the most. Garcon snatched six of the seven balls thrown to him for only 23 yards, but he scored once. He can be used as a starter as long as Jackson is injured.
Jordan Reed (6-82) and Ryan Grant (3-45) were next on the team with six targets apiece. Reed scared his fantasy owners with a mid-week injury, but he's fine. Grant isn't any sort of fantasy option, as he'll be relegated back to the bench once Jackson returns.
While Cousins was very precise, Nick Foles barely completed half of his passes, going 17-of-32 for 150 yards and a touchdown. Foles had just one pass longer than 15 yards, a 40-yard score to Britt, which was a perfect throw. Foles didn't really have a chance to hit most of those passes, as his offensive line couldn't block very well. The Redskins swarmed his backfield and forced him to try to scramble too many times, which is obviously not a strength of his.
Britt, as mentioned, secured Foles' only touchdown. But before you rush to pick him up off of waivers, take note that he caught only two passes. Britt is a lazy bum who can't grasp the mental part of the game, as evidenced by his ridiculous taunting penalty after he scored.
The Rams' leader in receiving yardage turned out to be tight end Jared Cook, who caught five balls for 47 yards. Tavon Austin (46 total yards) wasn't much of a factor, outside of a 16-yard scamper. I'm not sure why Brian Quick isn't playing, but St. Louis could use his talent.
The Redskins have a tough run defense, which would explain why Tre Mason struggled to find any sort of running room. Mason generated 26 yards on seven carries, but half of his output came on one carry. Mason won't be worth owning when Todd Gurley returns from his knee injury, which is sounding like that's going to be quite soon. Mason can't even be started in the meantime because of how bad St. Louis' offensive line is.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It's amazing how less energetic the Giants are at home compared to how they play on the road. They just look dead as hosts for some reason. I'll have to come up with some reasons for this and post it sometime in the near future.
This game was a tag-team match of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones versus Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Ryan and Jones were the victors after they stuck with their game plan, while New York went away from Beckham in the second half. Once again, bad game management late in the contest helped give the Giants' opponents a shot to steal a win away. Neither defense had a real answer for the other's quarterback-receiver tandem, but it was Ryan and Jones who made the plays in crunch time to get Atlanta off to a 2-0 start under rookie head coach Dan Quinn.
On the Falcons' first scoring drive, Ryan moved the ball methodically for 86 yards on 13 plays. He used passes to Jones along with critical conversions to Jacob Tamme and Patrick DiMarco. Ryan hit Leonard Hankerson for a 12-yard gain to the 1-yard line, and Tevin Coleman ran the ball in on first-and-goal.
The Giants answered with a field goal drive by using Beckham to move the ball down the field. Manning lofted in an excellent throw on which Beckham made a typical great catch for a gain of 26 yards and put his team in range for Josh Brown. Atlanta answered with a field goal drive of its own thanks to a superb third-down catch by Devonta Freeman. Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas dropped an interception that would have taken critical points away from the Falcons.
Manning and Beckham answered with a post route to the middle of the field as Beckham achieved separation from Robert Alford. The pass hit Beckham in stride, and he raced down the field for a 67-yard touchdown. Just before the half, the Giants took the lead on a quick field goal drive; the big play was Manning taking off on a 23-yard run - the longest carry of his career. Beckham had ripped off 139 yards on six receptions by the half, when New York was up 13-10.
To open the third quarter, the Giants got going thanks a quick pass to Shane Vereen for a 37-yard gain. Manning finished the drive by throwing a 10-yard bullet to Larry Donnell for a touchdown. After a quick three-and-out for the Falcons, Andre Williams ripped off a 35-yard run. New York continued moving, arriving inside the 10, but Manning was strip-sacked by Kroy Bierman from behind to take the momentum back for Atlanta.
Ryan soon took advantage with a 41-yard pass to Tamme to reach midfield. To cap the drive, a well-thrown pass beat good coverage for Hankerson to reel in a 10-yard touchdown. Atlanta got the ball back, and Jones made a miraculous catch over a defensive back. Ryan kept coming with a rope to Hankerson, but a sack by Robert Ayers and a breakup by Brandon Meriweather got the Giants' defense off the field.
Some terrible clock management by New York gave the Falcons another shot with three minutes remaining while down 20-17. Atlanta took advantage with a great catch by Hankerson, and since Landon Collins forgot to touch him down, Hankerson got up and added some more yards to the gain. Ryan made the Giants pay by lofting in a bomb to Jones for a 38-yard gain. Jones had beaten Prince Amukamara to get a step. Reviews put Jones down at the 1-yard line. Freeman then scored to pull the Falcons ahead 24-20. Atlanta's defense closed the door with some pass rush and passes thrown off the mark by Manning.
Matt Ryan finished completing 30-of-46 for 363 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He had a fabulous game for Atlanta and did a superb job of executing Kyle Shanahan's offense. Ryan just missed out on a second touchdown when Jones was ruled down inches short of the goal line.
Julio Jones had 135 yards on 13 receptions. The Giants were incapable of covering him one-on-one. Jones appeared to score a touchdown late in the game, but was ruled down inches short of the goal line after replay review. Jones will continue to be a top weekly option at receiver for DFS purposes as long as he and his quarterback remain healthy.
Leonard Hankerson caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. More importantly, he saw 11 targets, which was good for second on the team behind Jones. The Falcons spoke highly of him in the preseason, so he could continue to thrive. He's worth a flier on the waiver wire.
On the ground, Atlanta's duo of Tevin Coleman (9-32) and Devonta Freeman (12-25) didn't do much in terms of yardage, but they each ran for a score. Freeman also had four receptions for 34 yards. Coleman, who missed some time with a ribs injury, once again proved to be the better runner. However, Freeman is being used in the passing game, so he's not going anywhere. It's a situation to avoid for now.
Eli Manning completed 27-of-40 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns. As long as Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy, Manning will continue to be a viable QB2 option.
Speaking of Beckham, he totaled 146 yards and seven receptions. The Giants only were able to complete one pass to Beckham in the final two quarters, but he gave the Falcons major problems early on. Beckham will serve as a WR1 as long as he remains healthy.
Shane Vereen had eight receptions for 76 yards with six carries for 19 yards. Andre Williams (6-43) and Rashad Jennings (9-12) were held in check on the ground for New York. As mentioned last week, the Giants' running back situation is one to avoid unless you have Vereen in a PPR format. Neither Jennings nor Williams is very good, and the Giants have injuries on the offensive line that will keep them from opening up big running lanes.
Rookie Vic Beasley had a sack and forced fumble for the Falcons. Cullen Jenkins and Robert Ayers recorded sacks for the Giants.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I didn't buy much into the 49ers' win in Week 1, and I wouldn't take too much into account for this loss. Their opener was a very late night game in which they took advantage of Circadian rhythms. And that's why they lost this game, as they never had much of a chance; they played a very late Monday night game and had to take the field very early on Sunday. It's ridiculous that this game wasn't scheduled at 4:25. More Roger Goodell stupidity.
When Ben Roethlisberger said he wanted the Steelers to average 30 points a game, pundits didn't blink an eye and for good reason. Even without Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers were up 29-3 at halftime and then coasted in for the 43-18 shellacking of the 49ers at Heinz Field.
The 49ers came into Pittsburgh after literally running over the Vikings at home with 168 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns from Carlos Hyde for a dominant 6.5 yards per carry. This week, Hyde rushed 14 times for 43 yards, a 3.1 yards per carry average, and also lost a fumble. He ran well at times, but took many hard hits, including one on his knee that looked like a game-, and even season-ender, but he was right back out there after a play off. Then, he suffered a concussion scare, but was cleared of that as well. I would not want to feel like Hyde tomorrow morning.
The Steelers were able to stop the run and contain Colin Kaepernick early, while throwing with ease against the 49ers' secondary with big pass plays. A big 41-yard reception by the much-maligned Darrius Heyward-Bey on Pitsburgh's second possession set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller.
The Steelers exploded in the second quarter with three touchdowns, the first of which was a 2-yard touchdown run by DeAngelo Williams after a 59-yard reception by Antonio Brown. Williams ended up with a whopping three touchdowns, all within two yards of the goal line.
Roethlisberger completed 77.8 percent of his passes and averaged 13.7 yards per attempt while taking no sacks. It was a masterful display helped out by the 49ers' defensive line's ineptitude at putting much pressure on him.
Roethlisberger's No. 1 target was, surprise, surprise, Antonio Brown. He caught big passes all day long and piled up nine receptions on 11 targets for 195 yards and a touchdown. This of course, is nothing new, but 195 yards is nothing to sneeze at. It was Brown's second-best career total; his first was 196 yards against Chicago in 2013. Brown now hasn't caught fewer than five receptions in a game since 2012.
The 49ers took too long to get their offense moving, but they did put up plenty of yardage when trying to make up the 27-point deficit. Kaepernick was the biggest beneficiary as he threw the ball 46 times, completing 33 for 335 yards and two touchdowns, while leading the team in rushing with eight carries for 51 yards. He also had one touchdown run overturned by review.
Kaepernick's 71.7 completion percentage on 46 pass attempts makes for a nice stat and also shows you just how bad the Steelers' pass defense is. His completions were pretty spread out with Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin each catching six, Vernon Davis with five and then seven other players with one to four.
Torrey Smith had the big splash play for the 49ers with a 75-yard touchdown reception, which helped him to six receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he won't get to face Pittsburgh's pass defense every week.
Anquan Boldin remains Kaepernick's favorite target, as he threw it his way 10 times, of which he caught six of them for 60 yards and a touchdown, and also had an uncharacteristic drop near the end zone. Boldin will need similar game scripts to be a force in fantasy, but he will, at least, lead the 49ers in targets.
Both defenses in this game were poor statistically, but the Steelers got after Kaepernick, sacking him five times, and didn't let the 49ers score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
The 49ers were coming off a good home win on Monday night and traveling cross-country to Pittsburgh, while the Steelers were coming off a 10-day rest and a loss to the Patriots. Also, the 49ers' weakness is their pass defense, and the Steelers' strength is their run defense. All signs pointed to this finish.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Ravens are normally great as road favorites when coming off a loss. Not in this game. Baltimore's defense lacked leadership and looks like it misses Terrell Suggs. I wouldn't count out Baltimore yet, but it's looking bleak.
The Ravens versus the Raiders might not have been the Sunday afternoon game you wanted to see, but in the end, it was the game you wish you saw. The Raiders quickly took it to Baltimore's defense and served notice that they weren't going to roll over, but the Ravens returned in kind, coming back from 10-point deficits twice, to tie or take the lead. In the end, it came down to Derek Carr with the ball in his hands for the win, and he came through big.
Baltimore was favored by almost a touchdown in Oakland, and the over/under was set at 42. Instead, the Raiders won by four and the total was 70. Defense was not at the forefront in this game as Joe Flacco threw for 384 yards and Derek Carr for 351. Together, these teams put up 941 offensive yards and 55 first downs.
To start the game, Oakland's No. 1 draft pick Amari Cooper dropped two passes, but the disappointment over those drops was quickly erased as he went right by cornerback Jimmy Smith and Carr put a post pattern right on the money for Cooper to waltz in for a 68-yard touchdown. That set the tone for an effective pass-first attack for the rest of the game.
Joe Flacco responded at the end of the first quarter with a touchdown pass to second-year tight end Crockett Gilmore, who went on to catch another touchdown, i.e. the Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert last week against the Raiders. That's four touchdowns given up by the Raiders' defense in just two games.
This back-and-forth scoring continued in the second half as Raiders running back Latavius Murray scored from one yard out and then Flacco and Gilmore responded quickly with a 9-yard touchdown pass. Add in a couple of field goals, and the score before halftime was knotted up at 20.
After halftime, the Raiders came out strong again with another field goal and a 26-yard touch strike to Michael Crabtree, who had his Raiders' breakout game with nine receptions on 16 targets for 111 and a touchdown. He's no Amari Cooper in his skill level, but Crabtree made a lot of nice plays running the ball after the catch. It was a good sign that someone other than Cooper can put up big numbers in the receiving game.
After Crabtree's touchdown put the Raiders up by 10, the Ravens went to work scoring 13 unanswered points, with two field goals and a 7-yard touchdown run by Lorenzon Taliaferro. He is the no-doubt goal-line back now that he has returned from injury, but Justin Forsett still saw 19 touches, with 15 carries for 68 yards and four receptions for 12 yards.
The true engine for this Ravens team once again was Steve Smith, who ended the day with 16 targets, 10 receptions and 150 yards. Those numbers could have actually been better with just a couple better passes from Flacco, especially toward the end of the game with the score tied. Flacco had Smith open near the pylon late, and even though Smith made a nice catch, Flacco led him out of bounds and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal that put the game at 33-30 with 2:10 seconds left.
With just over two minutes remaining, Carr moved his team down the field with short passes and a little help from defensive end Timmy Jernigan, who had an obvious late hit on Carr and cost the Ravens 15 yards in a crucial spot. Carr ended the drive with a 12-yard strike to Seth Roberts for the game-winning touchdown.
This was very much a coming-out party for Derek Carr, who set his career high in yardage with 351 yards passing and his second-best completion rate with 65 percent, which is darn good when you chuck it 42 times. His three touchdown passes were his second-most, and all of this comes after an absolutely pitiful game against the Bengals last week.
Neither defense can really be applauded for much. The Raiders' defensive line looked great in preseason, but hasn't had a sack in two games now, and the Ravens without Terrell Suggs couldn't get to Carr, which led to both quarterbacks picking apart the opposing secondary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Dolphins have had two games thus far, yet they haven't shown any effort thus far. It's a shame they're so poorly coached; otherwise, they could challenge the Patriots for the AFC East crowd.
The Jaguars had lost 10 straight games in the month of September, so it must have felt good for head coach Gus Bradley to finally get a win early in the season. With how the other teams in the AFC South have played to open 2015, one can't write off Jacksonville in the division. Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles is improved, while wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back T.J. Yeldon are flashing play-making potential.
Conversely, Miami wasn't impressive in its win against the Redskins last week and followed it up by dropping a winnable game on a road. Ryan Tannehill didn't get a lot of help, and the Dolphins' defense was prone to allowing big plays downfield. Miami played with a serious lack of discipline as 13 penalties for 112 yards played a huge role in the Dolphins dropping this game. A huge loss for the Dolphins also came when left tackle Brandon Albert suffered an injury in the first half and did not return. His injury could have a huge impact on Miami's season.
The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and moved down the field on the Dolphins' defense. The big play was a 36-yard pass to Robinson, and the drive ended with Bortles throwing a 3-yard scoring strike to the emerging No. 1 wideout.
The Dolphins answered when a tipped pass fell into Rishard Matthews, who raced down the field for a 48-yard gain. Tannehill was lucky it wasn't intercepted, but it set up a field goal for Miami. Robinson kept coming as he went up over a defensive back to haul in a 52-yard bomb from Bortles. That led to a field goal for the Jaguars. In the second quarter, Bortles took off on a 26-yard run to convert a third down. He finished the drive by finding Robinson, who was running wide open down the middle of the field, for a 46-yard touchdown. Robinson burned safety Walt Aikens on a double-move to get wide open.
Miami answered with 19- and 26-yard completions to tight end Jordan Cameron. On third-and-goal, Tannehill scrambled before finding running back Damian Williams for a score. Just before the half, the Dolphins missed a 42-yard field goal, and the Jaguars completed a couple of passes before Jason Myers made a 58-yard field goal to give Jacksonville a 20-13 lead.
To start the third quarter, Tannehill hit Jarvis Landry in the deep middle for a 36-yard gain. A play later, Landry took a run for 29 yards. A few other gains moved the ball to the 5-yard line before Tannehill threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner to tie the game at 20. After that score, both defenses hunkered down and forced a string of punts.
The Jaguars came close to the winning score with three minutes remaining when Jared Odrick beat Miami left tackle replacement Jason Fox for a blind-side strip-sack. Fox recovered the fumble at the 1-yard line, but that play still set up the Dolphins to end up punting. Jacksonville put together a drive to move into field goal range that was led by a 19-yard pass to Allen Hurns, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Olivier Vernon, and some runs by T.J. Yeldon. That set up a 28-yard field goal by Myers to take the lead with less than a minute remaining.
The Dolphins had one chance with 40 seconds remaining, but they went four-and-out as the Jacksonville defense slammed the door. Linebacker Telvin Smith broke up Miami's pass on fourth-and-1 to clinch Jacksonville's first win of the 2015 season.
Ryan Tannehill completed 30-of-44 passes for 359 yards with two scores. His play wasn't as sparkling as the numbers suggest, but he was the only offense Miami had.
The Dolphins had no rushing attack to speak of as Lamar Miller was held to 14 yards on 10 carries. Miami's rushing attack was putrid, though it should be noted that Miller was hindered by an ankle injury. Miller is expected to bounce back, so you can buy him low from a disappointed fantasy owner.
Rishard Matthews led the Dolphins' receivers with six catches for 115 yards. A fluky performance? Perhaps, but with Jordan Cameron getting hurt, Greg Jennings doing nothing and DeVante Parker being too raw, Ryan Tannehill will have to throw to someone else besides Jarvis Landry.
Jarvis Landry had eight receptions for 110 yards. It's almost a lock at this point that he'll catch five passes each week. He's one of the most consistent fantasy receivers.
Jordan Cameron hauled in three for 62. He sustained a groin injury and didn't return. Cameron is talented, but it's not a good idea to rely on him, given his injury history.
Blake Bortles completed 18-of-33 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He played better than the numbers illustrate, as his offensive line allowed a lot of pressure in the pocket. He's not much of a fantasy option, however.
T.J. Yeldon ran for 70 yards on 25 carries to lead Jacksonville. The Dolphins have a stout front, so those numbers are more impressive than they might appear at first glance.
Allen Robinson was the offensive star for the Jaguars with six receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson struggled in the opener, but he bounced back and played to his talent level. He can be started each week. Allen Hurns (4-68) and Marqise Lee (2-27) contributed as well.
Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had one tackle, but he stuffed a number of interior runs and also got some heat on the quarterback.
Cowboys 20, Eagles 10
Where to start? This game, which was very poorly played on most accounts, is oozing with story lines for both teams. Well, why not begin with the injury to the perennial Pro Bowl quarterback?
Tony Romo broke his clavicle while being sacked and fumbling in the third quarter. At first, it seemed as though he could be out for the season, but the most-recent report says that he'll miss eight weeks. There's no question that this is a huge blow for Dallas' chances. Brandon Weeden was fine in relief, but the disparity between the two quarterbacks is immeasurable. For more on how this affects the Cowboys, check out my NFL Disaster Ratings.
The injury is a shame, especially since Romo had played well overall prior to getting hurt. Despite missing Dez Bryant, Romo finished 18-of-27 for 195 yards and the lost fumble, but his numbers could've been much better. Romo missed out on a touchdown to Gavin Escobar when the officials screwed up both the call and the replay. Romo then appeared to have Jason Witten for a score, but DeMeco Ryans made a great play to break up the pass. Romo also had a long conversion to Terrance Williams negated by an illegal formation. Williams hurt Romo with a drop as well.
Weeden, as mentioned, performed well in Romo's absence. He completed all seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Cowboy fans shouldn't be overly optimistic, however, as Weeden had the luxury of torching a poor defense, featuring Byron Maxwell, who has been brutal through two games with the Eagles thus far. Weeden might be able to win some games, but he'll have to lean on the defense, which will be getting back Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy in Week 5.
Williams, despite the drop and nullified completion, led the Cowboys with 84 receiving yards and a touchdown from Weeden. He'll continue to be targeted heavily until Bryant returns, but without Romo, Williams won't be much of a fantasy option.
In fact, the only viable fantasy option for the Cowboys for the time being will be Jason Witten, who logged seven catches for 56 yards. Witten, who saw a team-high eight targets, was banged up in this game, but fought through what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Joseph Randle out-touched Darren McFadden once again, leading in carries, 18-10. Randle turned those attempts into 51 yards. With Romo out for the next eight games, Randle can't really be started, as teams will begin to key in on the run. Randle is worth holding on to for now, but don't have him in your fantasy lineup unless you don't have any other viable options.
Moving on to the other big story, the incompetence of Philadelphia's offense has to surprise everyone who bought into the Eagles' bogus preseason results. It's hardly a surprise though, as Chip Kelly foolishly gutted the team of most of its offensive talent. The Eagles couldn't do anything when they had the ball. They managed just one first down in the opening half, controlling the clock for less than seven minutes and accumulating just 21 net yards in the process. Philadelphia padded some of its stats late in garbage time, but had the Cowboys cared at the very end, this would have been a 20-3 result.
DeMarco Murray, making his first start against his former team, seemed determined to prove that the Cowboys were foolish for not re-signing him. Instead, Murray managed just two yards on 13 carries. It was a horrific showing, though he wasn't responsible for that embarrassing stat line. He was hit as soon as he touched the ball behind the line of scrimmage, getting blown up on so many occasions. At one point, Murray had minus-15 yards rushing, but was able to pick up some yardage late in the game when the Cowboys stopped trying.
Things aren't going to get much better for Murray, considering the state of Philadelphia's offensive line. Kelly allowed Todd Herremans to walk and inexplicably cut Evan Mathis, and his replacements at the guard positions have proven to be inadequate, to say the least. Murray at least saved his PPR owners with five catches for 53 receiving yards, but this isn't the type of production you're looking for from a second-round fantasy pick.
The offensive line wasn't the only issue for the Eagles. Sam Bradford had a dreadful performance. He finished 23-of-37 for 224 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble on a botched snap - a stat line that looks way better than Bradford played. Bradford was victimized by some drops and miscommunications, but he made numerous mistakes of his own and looked very skittish throughout the afternoon, almost as if he was scared to step into his throws. He made several inaccurate passes, including an early third down that saw him get nearly intercepted. He was then picked off in the end zone, staring down a covered Zach Ertz, which Sean Lee was able to intercept easily. On a key third down a bit later, Bradford's pass was way behind Nelson Agholor, though it's possible that the rookie receiver ran the wrong route. It was so ugly that it was difficult to tell what happened.
With all that being said, I wouldn't panic on Bradford just yet. He has an easy matchup next week against the Jets, who may not have Antonio Cromartie, so he could rebound with a decent fantasy performance. However, it's difficult to justify starting him at this point until he shows that he can do something outside of garbage time. The offensive line is a huge issue, and if Bradford has to keep operating in long-yardage situations, the Eagles will be in trouble. Bradford led the team in rushing yardage (9) in this game, for crying out loud.
Jordan Matthews struggled as well. The stats may not show it, as Matthews secured six balls for 80 yards and a touchdown. However, the score came late, and Matthews dropped several passes, including a third down early in the game. He'll continue to be a strong fantasy option, but he needs to improve in real life.
Agholor, who may have botched an aforementioned play, caught three of six targets for 31 yards. He was a bigger part of the offense this week, but he's not anywhere near the fantasy radar yet, especially with Bradford and the blocking struggling.
Two other Eagles that need to be mentioned: Ertz saw seven targets, but reeled in just three grabs for 17 yards. Bradford was also intercepted while throwing the ball to him in the end zone. Ryan Mathews, meanwhile, was given just one carry, yet hilariously, his zero yardage was just two less than what Murray accumulated on his 13 tries.
Adding injury to insult, Philadelphia's defense sustained injuries to two key players. Mychal Kendricks was knocked out with a hamstring, while Kiko Alonso hurt his knee - the same one that sustained a torn ACL last year. Punter Donnie Jones also appeared to sustain an injury while trying to make a tackle following a block that was returned for a touchdown.
Packers 27, Seahawks 17
The Packers look like the best team in the NFL right now, but because I like to focus on the negatives, it needs to be pointed out that the Seahawks, who were one yard shy of winning the Super Bowl back in February, are now 0-2. And this doesn't appear to be some fluky start; there are legitimate problems on this Seattle roster.
First and foremost, the Seahawks have some major offensive line issues. The rushing attack did not work against a defense that was gashed by Matt Forte the week before, while pass-rushers flooded the backfield and forced Russell Wilson into some bad throws.
The Seahawks also appear to not be completely focused. They opened the game with 12 men on the field, negating a Green Bay punt. Michael Bennett was offsides on multiple occasions, resulting in big gains for the Packers. The Seahawks, on their first possession, held on a kickoff and then had to call a timeout because they had 12 men in the huddle. J.R. Sweezy was flagged for a penalty because he hit a player a minute after the whistle was blown. The Seahawks didn't run the clock down at the end of the first half while punting, giving Aaron Rodgers extra time. Richard Sherman, who struggled once again, quite possibly because he's filming too many commercials, was flagged twice. Wilson telegraphed an interception. K.J. Wright was ejected because he tried to rip a Packer player's helmet off. Fred Jackson fumbled at the very end when Wilson repeatedly kept dinking and dunking with almost no time available. They had no timeouts late because they squandered a pair earlier in the half. I'm sure there are other things as well that I'm missing. Regardless, the Seahawks need to get their act together before they fall too far behind the Cardinals in the divisional race.
Wilson finished 19-of-30 for 206 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The good news is that he scrambled 10 times for 78 rushing yards. The bad news is Wilson didn't look as good as the passing stats indicate. Wilson, who was constantly under siege behind a poor offensive line, threw several inaccurate passes. Even his completions were way off the mark, as Luke Willson reeled in a one-handed ball thrown way behind him. Wilson will continue to be a QB1 because of his running ability, but his protection needs to improve for Seattle to win some real games.
Marshawn Lynch's inability to run against the Packers was a big surprise, considering the outing Matt Forte enjoyed the week before. The Packers dominated the line of scrimmage, often tackling Lynch behind the line of scrimmage. Lynch did have a few nice gains, but he finished with just 41 yards on 15 carries. He tried to help his PPR owners with three catches for 21 receiving yards. He lost a fumble on a botched handoff, but an offsides penalty bailed him out.
Another week, another Seattle receiver leading the team in yardage. It was Jermaine Kearse last week, yet he failed to reel in a single reception. Doug Baldwin led the way instead, catching seven balls for 92 yards and a touchdown. No Seattle wideout should be on any roster in 12-team leagues.
Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown in the opener, but managed to secure just one catch in this game. He was targeted just twice. Graham will continue to struggle because he's not a good fit in Seattle's offense. I would attempt to unload him.
As for the Packers, they trailed 17-13 in the third quarter, but Aaron Rodgers went nuts and closed the game out on a 14-0 run. Rodgers was perfect in the final quarter. Literally. He was 9-of-9 for 91 yards and a touchdown in the final frame despite dealing with a key injury in his backfield.
Rodgers went 25-of-33 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled six times for 23 rushing yards. He did a great job of repeatedly drawing the Seahawks offsides and torching Richard Sherman, who was flagged twice.
Rodgers' performance was particularly impressive considering that he was missing Eddie Lacy. The big back was knocked out early with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative, but Lacy could be out for a game or two. If so, James Starks needs to be picked up in every league. Starks gained 95 yards on 20 carries, highlighted by a 35-yard burst, which is quite impressive considering his opponent.
The other prominent Packer to get hurt was Davante Adams, who was carted into the locker room. However, Adams returned to the game later on, and he finished with five catches for 33 yards. He remains a WR3 option, as does James Jones, who caught a 29-yard touchdown, beating Sherman easily. That was Jones' only reception - he was targeted thrice - but he'll have more catches against worst divisions.
Randall Cobb was the only Packer receiver who logged more than 40 receiving yards. He snared eight of his 11 targets for 116 yards. Rookie Ty Montgomery was next on the list with four grabs for 37 yards.
Jets 20, Colts 7
With the Colts favored by six, a 20-7 result in favor of the Jets seemed unfathomable prior to kickoff. But surely enough, the Jets completely dominated Indianapolis in every facet of the game.
The Colts could be in major trouble. Thanks to general manager Ryan Grigson's incompetence, their offensive line is a disaster. Andrew Luck barely had any time to throw. The box score doesn't show it because the Jets didn't accumulate any sacks, but the front seven smothered Luck and forced rushed throws. Luck, as a consequence, was guilty of three turnovers.
Luck went 21-of-37 for 250 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and a lost fumble, which took place while he tried stretching for a first down, despite the marker being several yards away. The first pick was way behind his receiver on a second-and-long play. The second occurred when Luck was hit upon releasing the football, allowing Darrelle Revis to make a great catch. The third transpired under more pressure.
Despite the disappointing stat line, Luck actually played worse than his numbers indicate. He was nearly picked on numerous other occasions. He made a careless pass when he was hit as a consequence of Josh Robinson's blown pass protection. Another pick was dropped by Antonio Cromartie, who had a chance to snatch the ball because Andre Johnson couldn't separate. Luck also missed a touchdown to a tackle-eligible player in the opening half because of a poor throw - one of many errant passes Luck was guilty of throughout the evening.
Despite all of this, Luck is an obvious buy-low option. It's easy to be down on him after a dreadful game - one of his worst ever as a pro - but he's still one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL. I have faith that he'll get it together.
A healthier T.Y. Hilton will help Luck rebound. Hilton was questionable entering this contest, but managed to suit up. However, he clearly wasn't 100 percent, as he caught just four passes for 45 yards. Hilton hurt his knee during a 27-yard reception in the fourth quarter in which he made Revis miss.
Luck's leading receiver was Donte Moncrief, who collected seven receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. I'd normally recommend Moncrief as a sell-high option, but he could be the starting receiver across from Hilton for most of the season - at least beginning when Andre Johnson is benched. Johnson was dreadful once again, catching just three passes for 27 yards despite seeing seven targets. Johnson, who was guilty of a drop, couldn't separate whatsoever, and based on how he's playing, I wouldn't be surprised if this is his final year in the NFL. He can be dropped in all formats.
Frank Gore ran well for the most part, though he churned out just 57 yards. He also fumbled at the Jets' 1-yard line in the third quarter to conclude a 10-minute drive, effectively costing his team a chance at a victory. Gore carried the ball just 15 times, and he had two long runs called back by bogus holding penalties that left Jon Gruden speechless.
By the way, there were numerous terrible calls all night, and most happened to go against the Colts. Either the fix was in, or the official just wanted to be on national TV as often as possible. My favorite gaffe of his was when he announced that the Jets weren't flagged for roughing the punter because the "kicker was able to land on his own two feet," yet ESPN cut to replay, which showed Pat McAfee falling down over someone.
The Jets moved the chains primarily through the air, as the Colts were missing their second and third cornerbacks due to injury entering this contest. The situation went from bad to worse when Vontae Davis was removed from the game with a concussion. Davis was whistled for two holding flags, though one was very questionable.
Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 22-of-34 for 244 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, which was a great play by safety Mike Adams, who made a spectacular catch along the sidelines off a tipped ball while falling out of bounds. Fitzpatrick was otherwise very precise, helping the Jets move the chains throughout and control the clock longer than Indianapolis. It helped that he had all the time in the world to find his receivers for intermediate gains. The Colts had zero pass rush.
Fitzpatrick isn't any sort of fantasy option, but it's nice to know that he can help Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker be viable fantasy options. Marshall looked like he had a rough matchup heading into this contest, but was able to finish with seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, thanks to Vontae Davis' concussion. Marshall drew some defensive holds early and scored late when Davis was long gone. Marshall, who is trying hard after taking all of 2014 off, will remain a weekly WR2 as long as Fitzpatrick doesn't regress.
As for Decker, he snatched eight balls for 97 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. His status is unknown; he'll undergo an MRI on Tuesday.
Chris Ivory was stymied for most of the night by a surprisingly tough Indianapolis rush defense. He was able to break a couple of big gains late when the Colts were gassed, but he still finished with an unimpressive line of 14 carries and 57 yards. He can still be started most weeks.
One last point: It needs to be mentioned that Todd Bowles coached circles around Chuck Pagano. Bowles put together a brilliant defensive strategy, while Pagano was conservative and stupid. Pagano's unwillingness to go for it on fourth-and-shorts, attempt onside kicks, especially after a 15-yard penalty, and bench a very ineffective Andre Johnson was alarming. Perhaps Pagano's worst move occurred when the Jets stalled at the end of the first half. Armed with three timeouts, Pagano failed to use one with 40 seconds remaining. As it turned out, the Jets whiffed on field goal, so Indianapolis would've had good field position to attempt a kick of its own prior to the break.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.