Philip Rivers got 6.8 YPA while fumbling 15 times last season. Through seven games this year, he’s gotten 8.6 YPA while fumbling zero times. He’s also completed an NFL-high 73.9 percent of his passes and is on pace to finish with a career-high 34 touchdown passes. Considering he’s 31 years old and lost both of his top two wide receivers to injuries, it’s been one of the more surprising story lines of 2013. Obviously, Mike McCoy deserves plenty of credit here too. It’s a silly award since outside observers know so little, but he actually might be my pick for Coach of the Year right now (despite him throwing a challenge flag after Eddie Royal lost a fumble in the fourth quarter. At least the penalty (charged timeout) is less severe this year)…Maurice Jones-Drew is on track to have 235 rushing attempts with 722 yards…Andre Johnson may have twice as many receptions (22 vs. 44) than Eddie Royal, but the latter has six more touchdown catches (0 vs. 6)…Calvin Johnson led the NFL with a whopping 12.4 targets per game last season (which was top-five all time). Over his past seven games, Justin Blackmon has averaged 12.3 targets…Just like Wes Welker, finally freed from the Patriots system, Danny Woodhead has thrived. In all seriousness, Woodhead is somehow on pace to total 1,111 yards with 91 receptions and nine touchdowns despite average just 12.3 touches per game.
The end of the first half of this game could be a column in and of itself, but I’ll try to break it down more succinctly. Emerging star Keenan Allen caught a 36-yard pass on third down with less than a minute left, and both the catch and where he was down were in question. But Rivers rushed to the line and ran a play before the booth called for any sort of review. And then the real madness started, as the Jags committed two pass interference penalties in the end zone (smartly, I might add, since the clock doesn’t roll back, and Allen had them beat on both plays). Steve Beurlein then suggested the Chargers would obviously call in the FG unit with seven seconds left. Seven seconds! The ball was at the one! Obviously, SD ran another play instead, but that somehow resulted in Rivers trying to run it in and falling short, leading to halftime (I guess Beurlein was right!). The whole sequence had my head spinning.
Andy Dalton has thrown six touchdowns over the past two games after totaling the same amount over his previous eight contests (counting the playoffs). But man, did he underthrow A.J. Green on their 82-yard TD connection. Good thing Green is so good it didn’t matter…A weekly complaint, with Jim Schwartz being the latest culprit. With 14 seconds left in the first half at their own 27-yard line, the Lions somehow decided a draw to Joique Bell was smarter than kneeling. Have people already forgotten the Tashard Choice fumble? What kind of injury will take it take for this nonsense to stop?…Calvin Johnson sure looked close to 100 percent Sunday. Despite missing a game and being limited in others, Johnson already has more touchdowns this season than last. This TD catch while triple covered is about as good as it gets…Matthew Stafford has somehow thrown seven touchdowns over the past two weeks despite getting 6.4 YPA.
Here’s a kid regretting what he ate while on the toilet. Seriously, this “potty talk” is pretty funny.
DeAngelo Williams doesn’t catch passes and is ignored in the red zone, so he remains nothing but a RB3 in fantasy terms. I’d probably prefer Zac Stacy at this point, although the Rams offense will definitely take a hit with Sam Bradford out for the season. Bradford is far from a star, but he’s a lot better than Kellen Clemens. At least no one was banking on a St. Louis WR…I expected more from Greg Olsen this season, but it looks like Steve Smith isn’t totally washed up. And seriously, how insane do you have to be to get into an altercation with him?! For Janoris Jenkins’ sake, I really hope he never runs into Smith in the street…Jared Cook had 141 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. Since then, he’s recorded 203 receiving yards and zero scores over six games…After getting stopped on second-and-goal from the one-foot line, Mike Tolbert committed a 15-yard personal foul. That wasn’t ideal…Tavon Austin had a 63-yard TD catch nullified by a tripping penalty that didn’t’ affect the play’s outcome…Week 7 marked the first time the Rams played a game outdoors this season…St. Louis (rightfully) went for it with 5:30 left in the first quarter on fourth-and-goal from the one, and while they didn’t get it, they forced a safety on the very next play, highlighting just how much of a no-brainer it is not to kick a FG in that situation.
Mario Williams is currently in the midst of the best year of his career…Did C.J. Spiller really gain 11 yards on six carries? At least he got minus-four yards on three catches. I give up. I’m so, so sorry for my preseason advice on him…Coming off a bye (and back-to-back losses) while facing what I assumed to be a Buffalo team starting newly signed Matt Flynn at the time I made the bet, the Dolphins were a part of my teaser Sunday, so this game was brutal to watch (as I imagine it was for many in survivor). With the lead at the 50-yard line and 2:48 left in the fourth quarter, how does Ryan Tannehill lose a fumble? When the Bills moved the ball to the Dolphins’ 13-yard line, Miami should've let them score a touchdown. Tannehill really struggled in this one, including missing a wide open Brian Hartline for a game-inning touchdown after Miami had a long kick return after ceding the late FG…Three defensive touchdowns were scored within the first five minutes of Sunday’s games (another TD and safety were also recorded in the first quarter). Three more defensive/special teams TDs were scored shortly thereafter. Pretty crazy.
I get that Tom Brady is dealing with a depleted receiving corps, but there’s got to be something more going on here. His current 6.0 YPA mark is easily a career low, as is his 55.4 completion percentage. Brady is also on pace to finish with 18 TD passes. He’s averaged 36.3 over the previous three seasons. At least Rob Gronkowski, who saw a ridiculous 17 targets while playing limited snaps during his return, should be a big help moving forward…I have no idea what’s going on with Stevan Ridley, but he’s obviously not reliable…Chris Ivory’s 34 rushing attempts Sunday matched his total from the previous five games and were just six fewer than he had all of last year. I wouldn’t count on him being a workhorse from here on out, but Bilal Powell’s value takes quite a hit…Julian Edelman is tied for the NFL-lead with 46 receptions...The Jets held the Patriots to 1-for-12 on third downs and just 4.2 yards per play. New York has recorded just two interceptions but has allowed only 6.4 YPA and an NFL-low 3.1 YPC. This defense is very good. They are at home against the Raiders in Week 14 and the Browns in Week 16, so the Jets D could be a difference maker in the fantasy playoffs…The Pats had won 12 straight division games…What a crazy penalty to decide this game in overtime.
The Eagles/Cowboys game had a 56.5 over/under, so I didn’t think I was exactly going out on a limb when I said this game would be the highest scoring of the week when asked on my weekly XM 87/Sirius 210 radio hit (Fridays at 1:30 EST). I also had Tony Romo, Jason Witten, LeSean McCoy (in the vast majority of my leagues) and DeSean Jackson, so naturally, the score was 3-0 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Seriously? It didn’t get much better in the second half, especially for Philly fans. Nick Foles was highly disappointing, somehow getting just 2.8 YPA against a Cowboys defense that entered having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Foles exhibited decent movement within the pocket, which often generated a ton of time, but he still couldn’t find anyone downfield. I was dead wrong thinking he was a threat to a healthy Michael Vick. Then again, Foles looked like Joe Montana compared to Matt Barkley, who threw three interceptions after replacing an injured Foles. He was even worse than the stats suggest, as the rookie QB was also picked off during his first career pass attempt that was nullified by an inconsequential off side penalty…The Eagles have now lost nine straight home games…With 20 seconds left in the second quarter, Chip Kelly somehow decided to call for a 60-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-1. Alex Henery has made one FG from 50 yards out in his career, which went for 51 back in 2011. Troy Aikman had this to say after the missed FG: “If Kelly had to do it over, he would have probably gone for it.” You don’t say!...Tony Romo has the most passing yards over the first 100 starts by a QB in NFL history…Terrance Williams looks great. He’s easily a viable WR3 for fantasy purposes, at minimum. Miles Austin can be dropped even in deep leagues.
Headlines of the Week: Shutdown: Americans Prefer Zombies, Hemorrhoids, IRS to Congress...Oops: Azerbaijan Released Election Results Before Voting Had Even Started...Women Are Hard to Animate Because They Have Emotions, Says Disney...German Groom Forgets Bride At Gas Station.
While the Dallas/Philly game failed to live up to its shootout expectations, the Chicago/Washington contest combined for a whopping 86 points, despite Jay Cutler leaving in the middle of the second quarter. What a frustrating injury for Cutler, who was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career and will be a free agent soon…Matt Forte has been one of the worst goal-line runners in the NFL during his career, but after rushing for three scores Sunday, he’s now on pace to finish with a career-high 14 touchdowns this season. The TDs may slow down some, but Forte should remain a top-five fantasy asset, even with Cutler out…Jordan Reed caught all nine of his targets for 134 yards and a score. It’s not a stretch to consider him a top-10 fantasy tight end right now…I still have faith in Pierre Garcon, but it’s a bit frustrating that he’s on pace to finish with 179 targets and has just two touchdowns this year…Robert Griffin’s connection with Reed with 27 seconds left in the second quarter was his first TD pass in the first half this season…If you’re an Alfred Morris owner, you have to be infuriated watching Roy Helu run for three touchdowns (matching his career total in the process)…I’ve said in this space before I worry Mike Shanahan is losing his fastball, and Sunday’s end game did nothing to quell that. He called a timeout with 1:03 left when the Redskins had the ball at Chicago’s 13-yard line down three points on 3rd-and-four. If RG3’s ensuing pass fell incomplete, it would have meant Chicago got the ball back tied with 55 seconds left. The next play resulted in a first down, which resulted in the Bears using their timeouts. Seriously, what was Washington thinking there?
Police Blotter: Texas Man Afraid of Wife Fakes Kidnapping to go Drinking With Friends...Commuters on Phones Didn’t Notice Gun During Robbery...Man Arrested Twice in One Day at McDonald’s...Man Walks Free After Sheep Refuses to Testify.
Despite being winless, Tampa Bay entered as hardly a doormat defensively, so I must say I was impressed with Matt Ryan completing 76.9 percent of his passes while getting 10.5 YPA and a 3:0 TD:INT ratio without Julio Jones and Roddy White (and with Tony Gonzalez being completely taken out as well). He also took zero sacks while working with a running game that got 1.0 YPC. Ryan has never lost three games in a row in his career and deserves credit. On throws to Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers, he converted 15-of-16 passes for 195 yards (12.2 YPT) and three touchdowns. I didn’t see a 148.4 QB Rating coming this week…Mike Glennon is pretty bad, but Vincent Jackson fantasy owners are hardly complaining, as the WR saw 22 targets Sunday, resulting in 10 catches, 138 yards and two touchdowns. VJax has taken his previous hit-or-miss past to even more extreme levels in 2013, but it’s hard to argue with the final results…It’s unclear how long Doug Martin will be out, but the safe bet is a long time. So yes, Mike James is a must-add and top priority in all formats…Drew Davis only had one catch Sunday, but it was pretty awesome…Tampa Bay kicked a FG down 14 points with 5:00 left in the fourth quarter. I have no words.
Animal Antics: This Dog Feels Uncomfortable Driving Unless He’s Holding a Hand...Check out this photo of a seal escaping death...Sheep Revolt When Police Uproot Marijuana Plants Where Flock Grazed...Moose Die-Off Alarm Scientists...Dog Escapes Owner, Runs Half Marathon, Wins Medal, Gets Neutered...Here’s a bear playing tetherball.
It’s clear at this point Colin Kaepernick is going to be a fantasy disappointment, since he’s simply not going to attempt many passes. But he ran for a season-high 68 yards Sunday as well as his first score on the ground and is up to 7.8 YPA on the year, so he’s also not exactly been a bust either. The craziest thing about the Seahawks/49ers divisional battle (and as an SF fan, I fully admit Seattle is the clear favorite at this point) is that Russell Okung, Percy Harvin, Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are all due back within the next few weeks…Anquan Boldin made some ridiculous catches Sunday, some of which didn’t need more than one hand…Props to Jake Locker for making it back so quickly after what looked like a sure season-ending injury, but he’ll definitely welcome Tennessee’s Week 8 bye…San Francisco has forced 12 takeaways over its last three games…Down 24-0 (that’s three scores), the Titans kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter. Again, no words…If you can turn Chris Johnson’s ostensibly good game (his 66-yard TD catch came notably on the first play after Eric Reid left with an injury) in Week 7 into a Keenan Allen type, I’d make that move eight days a week…Sunday marked Frank Gore’s first multiple TD game since 2010, and San Francisco has now won four straight games by 10+ points for the first time since 1997.
Here’s an insane police chase that results in a car getting hit not once by twice by trains. The woman was remarkably fine physically after it all.
It would be easier to criticize Ray Rice if Bernard Pierce weren’t performing just as badly. Still, something appears different with Rice. I’d be highly concerned if I were a fantasy owner of his…Sunday marked the first time the Steelers rushed for 100 yards in their last 11 games...Touchdowns remain elusive, but despite securing just four catches for 73 yards over his past two games, Torrey Smith is still on track to finish with 1,438 receiving yards. He now has a bye and will face up against Joe Haden afterward. So look to target him in a couple of weeks...Le’Veon Bell’s ability to stay healthy remains in question, but Pittsburgh’s bye week is behind them, he has an elite QB on his side and is a clear workhorse. Despite being a rookie who hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success so far, I’d consider Bell a top-15 fantasy back right now. I’d obviously prefer him over Trent Richardson, but I can’t really imagine anyone arguing otherwise at this point.
Jermichael Finley looked like he may finally live up to his relentless hype, lining up out wide with Green Bay’s WR group so depleted. He hauled in all five of his targets for 72 yards and a touchdown in which he broke multiple tackles. Unfortunately, he was later concussed for the second time this year, with this one seemingly even more serious. I’d be surprised if Finley plays again this year…After a rough outing when forced into action last week, popular waiver wire add Jarrett Boykin responded by securing eight of 10 targets for 103 yards and a score. He’s firmly on the fantasy radar, especially as long as James Jones is sidelined…Brandon Weeden has been sacked 21 times over five games (he left one early), which is a season’s pace of 67, which would be the fourth highest of all time. Brain Hoyer’s injury has been a legitimate loss to the Browns (and to Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon fantasy owners)…Props to big underdog Cleveland for running a fake punt late in the first quarter…This was the first game the Browns didn’t lead at halftime this season…If a fantasy draft were held today, Eddie Lacy would easily be a first round pick.
The Chiefs arguably have the best defense in the NFL and were playing at home against an undrafted quarterback making the first start of his career. The Texans also lost Arian Foster immediately to a hamstring injury. Nevertheless, Case Keenum managed 10.8 YPA and a 110.6 QB Rating, both of which were BY FAR season-highs against KC. You’ve got to love football…I’m not saying Keenum is for sure the long-term answer at QB, but at this point I’d let him start from here on out this season if I were the Texans. This play was eye-opening. And seriously, why in the world was T.J. Yates ahead of him on the depth chart?...What a fake this was! Jamaal Charles is a genius…Among non-quarterbacks, Tamba Hali might very well be the league’s MVP up to this point. He recorded 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles Sunday and easily leads the NFL with 40 quarterback hurries (next highest is teammate Justin Houston with 28)…I’m pretty frustrated as someone who’s stashed Ben Tate this year that right after Foster gets injured, Tate apparently broke four of his ribs. With an upcoming Houston bye, it seems Foster is more likely to be ready for Week 9 than Tate…Jim Nantz kept calling Knile Davis “KNILES” Davis, but I can’t blame him for it…The Texans had as many yards (one) as fumbles lost in the fourth quarter…Alex Smith is now 26-5-1 over the past three seasons as a starter.
This “Bad Lip Reading” edition of “Game of Thrones” is pretty amazing.
While hardly a perfect game, the endlessly hyped Colts/Broncos Sunday night contest was definitely entertaining, albeit with a different outcome than most expected. Peyton Manning was pressured heavily as Denver’s offensive line woes were exposed, but he still finished with 386 passing yards and three TDs…Robert Mathis is up to 11.5 sacks this season, but Vontae Davis was the most impressive defensive player Sunday night. Facing the best passing attack in the NFL, he allowed just 12 yards on eight targets his way, covering mostly Demaryius Thomas. Just imagine how he would have performed had he prepared for Peyton Manning!…Andrew Luck doesn’t care about YPA. Seriously, he’s one of the best runners among all QBs in the NFL. But that’s a tough loss with Reggie Wayne going down for the season. T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener’s fantasy values should both rise as a result…Trent Richardson is terrible. I’m not sure what else there is to say. Indy should offer him back to Cleveland for Josh Gordon…Luck has never lost back-to-back games…Sunday night marked the first regular season loss of Trindon Holliday’s career (he entered 22-0). Speaking of which, this is pretty funny…The Colts are 9-1 over their past 10 home games…The Broncos punted seven times Sunday night, which was more than their last four games combined...The 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos have all lost to the Colts this season. They are a combined 17-1 against the rest of the league.
Longreads of the Week: “I’m Daisy Coleman, and this is what really happened.”
Monday night’s Vikings/Giants game was about as bad as it gets. Seriously ugly stuff. The Giants have allowed one fewer punt return touchdown than the rest of the NFL combined…Josh Freeman got 3.6 YPA while completing 37.7 percent of his 53 pass attempts. He was credited with 16 “overthrown” passes, which is pretty much unheard of…There were five fumbles and numerous dropped interceptions (it was the first game Eli Manning wasn’t picked off this year)…Blair Walsh missed from 50+ yards for the first time in his career, and it was solely because he was short, which was almost certainly due to his injury…Despite seeing just three targets compared to 10, it’s hard not to view Rueben Randle as the superior fantasy option compared to Hakeem Nicks moving forward…I think we’ve all wasted enough time on this game already, so let’s just end with the one redeeming play, which was this incredible Jared Allen sack.