Sunday Scene, Week 10: Marshawn Lynch unlocks new mode, beyond beast
For much of the past month, we've been fretting about Marshawn Lynch's relationship with his head coach, his future in Seattle, his tradability, his health, his not-totally-enthusiastic reaction to the Percy Harvin deal — lots of off-field noise, basically. Fantasy owners are skittish about his upcoming schedule, too.
Let's all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that Lynch remains an unholy terror, a weapons-grade ball carrier. Each run leaves a trail of devastation. Just look at this thing, for example. That was 22 yards of pure punishment.
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Lynch owned the Giants defense on Sunday, gaining 163 total yards on 22 touches, finishing with a career-high four touchdowns. He delivered 40.3 standard fantasy points, easily the highest single-game total at his position this season. Arian Foster is the only other back to top 35.
If you're thinking of placing Lynch on the trade block this week, fearing Seattle's killer rest-of-season schedule ... well, I get it. I've seen your tweets. We often say that fantasy is a matchup game, and Lynch's remaining matchups are mostly awful. The Seahawks face the Cards and Niners twice each before Week 17. Both defenses currently rank top-five against the run.
But you might recall that Arizona and San Francisco had dominant run Ds last year, too, and Lynch feasted on both. He delivered 170 total yards and one score in two games against the Cards, and 207 yards and four spikes in the regular season against San Fran (plus another 109 with a TD in the playoffs).
As a multi-league Lynch owner, I can't say I'm a motivated seller. Before you entertain trade offers, give the Sunday highlight reel a quick look. It's something beyond beastly.
• Peyton Manning shredded the Raiders in Week 10, to no one's surprise, tossing five TD passes and finishing with 340 yards. Both Thomases were involved (two more scores for Julius), while Emmanuel Sanders delivered 67 yards and two spikes. Wes Welker had another quiet day (4-24-0), per his usual. The only unexpected detail in the Denver box score was C.J. Anderson's performance. Anderson rushed 13 times for 90 yards, and he hauled in four passes for 73 yards and one TD. His touchdown was a ridiculous feat of tackle-breaking, a play that should have gained next to nothin'. Denver's backfield isn't the easiest situation to read at the moment, with Montee Ball returning and Ronnie Hillman tweaked (foot). But Anderson made a loud statement on Sunday. He belongs in your waiver plans.
• Carson Palmer suffered a left knee injury in Arizona's 31-14 win over the Rams, and the fear is that it's a season-ender...
Asked if cardinals fear Palmer has acl tear Arians says team just doesn't know.
— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) November 10, 2014
So that's terrible. Palmer had been tremendous since returning from his shoulder/nerve malfunction, with multiple TD passes in every game. Drew Stanton took over on Sunday, connecting with rookie John Brown on a 48-yard go-ahead fourth-quarter TD that was ... well, wow. It's Brown's finest work this year, which is no small achievement. That kid is a monster.
• If you had no serious rooting interest in Niners-Saints on Sunday, that thing was endless fun, an excellent watch. Jimmy Graham repeatedly made catches with defenders clinging to him, finishing with a season-high 10 receptions and two scores on 12 targets. (He also hauled in a 40-something-yard Hail Mary at the end of regulation for the apparent game-winner, but he was flagged for offensive PI — right call, sold by a high-quality flop.) Drew Brees had a sometimes-great, sometimes-horrendous afternoon, passing for 292 yards, three scores and two picks on 47 attempts. One of the interceptions was a head-scratcher into tight triple-coverage, intended for Graham; one of the touchdowns was a play-of-the-day candidate, requiring Brees to dodge multiple blitzers. Silly stuff. But in the end, the Niners defense forced a strip-sack fumble late in OT, setting up Phil Dawson for a layup 35-yard field goal.
Colin Kaepernick didn't have a stellar fantasy day, but his primary receivers were unusually drop-prone. Kap also completed an absurd 51-yard throw to Michael Crabtree on fourth-down, on the game-tying drive. Vernon Davis was a notable dud for San Francisco (1-8-0), but all other usual suspects contributed.
• Miami's Brent Grimes has really had an excellent season to this point, grading out as one of the game's better corners. But he's also 5-foot-10 and Calvin Johnson is 6-foot-5, so, well ... stuff like this can occasionally happen. That throw was simply a missile from Matthew Stafford. Grimes could not have covered 'Tron much better on that 49-yarder, yet still he had no chance. Later in the half, however, Grimes made a sensational one-handed, touchdown-saving INT on a ball slightly underthrown by Stafford. Just a fun all-day battle between the Dolphin and the Decepticon.
Calvin finished with seven receptions for 113 yards and one score on 15 targets, putting to rest any lingering fears about his ankle issues. Golden Tate snagged 11 receptions for 109 yards on 13 targets, so there's no need to fret about a loss of value there. Stafford, we should note, made an absolutely filthy sidearm throw on the move to Theo Riddick for the game-winner. It's a play so good, it demands to be seen.
• You won't see an uglier misplay this season than Devin Hester's wide-open-in-the-end-zone drop in the second quarter at Tampa, off a perfectly thrown ball from Matt Ryan. Brutal. Atlanta managed to win the game, but Matt Bryant was responsible for a bit too much of the scoring (4/4 FGs). Ryan owners are not amused.
After all the noise about Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims this week, the Bucs' leading rusher was quarterback Josh McCown (39 yards). Sure. Of course. Rainey and Sims each handled 10 touches on Sunday, gaining 56 and 40 yards respectively. Neither back found the end-zone. Mike Evans kept rolling, hauling in another seven balls for 125 yards and one score. Vincent Jackson again led Tampa Bay's receiving corps in targets (13), but not fantasy points.
Whatever else you think of Tony Romo, let's maybe stop questioning his fortitude and pain tolerance. That dude has played through broken ribs and a punctured lung in previous seasons, and on Sunday — playing with fractures in his back — he went 20-for-27 against the Jaguars at Wembley, finishing with 246 passing yards and three touchdowns. Dez Bryant was unfair, accounting for 158 of the yards and two scores, shrugging off defenders throughout the day. DeMarco Murray ran for his usual 100 yards, but Joseph Randle poached this week's rushing score.
• Bills running back Bryce Brown flashed every trait on his scouting report on a single third-quarter carry against KC. He absolutely exploded after taking a hand-off in the red-zone, rocketing through the Chiefs defense. Alas, Brown was stripped of the ball inside the 5-yard line, fumbling through the end-zone for a touchback. Scott Chandler had a shot at the recovery for Buffalo, but he whiffed. Brown has a history of ball security issues, as most of you know. The good news is that he wasn't mothballed after the fumble — in fact, he actually led the team in receiving (6-65-0) and finished with 100 scrimmage yards. Predictably, he split the backfield touches with Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon. Sammy Watkins (groin) was something more than a decoy for Buffalo, seeing a team-high 10 targets (complete with red-zone looks), but he was held to four catches for 27 yards.
• So just when we think we have the NFL all figured out, the league's hottest quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) goes 58 minutes without a touchdown pass against the league's most user-friendly pass defense (Gang Green). Big Ben connected with ridiculous rookie Martavis Bryant on a late 80-yard score in New York, but that was the only touchdown of the afternoon against Rex Ryan's D. Entering the week, the Jets had allowed 24 TD passes this season — easily the highest total in the league — and they'd picked off just one pass. Naturally, New York forced four Steelers turnovers on Sunday, with two interceptions included. Bryant continued his insane month-long binge (4-143-1), but no other Pittsburgh skill player gave us a notable stat line.
Michael Vick had a clean day for New York, leading his team to a 17-0 first-quarter lead while tossing a pair of TD passes. He also added 39 rushing yards on eight carries, juking Brice McCain to the turf early in the game. Not a particularly busy day for Vick, exactly, but free of negative plays.
• Justin Forsett carried the mail for Baltimore on Sunday, and Scott Pianowski told the tale. Torrey Smith added a late 32-yard score, roasting Tennessee's coverage. The Titans offense was everything you thought it would be (seven points, 210 total yards), but with substantially less Justin Hunter (1-17-0).
• You're not going to make me discuss the massacre at Lambeau, right? Great. Appreciated. Let's just hit the pickups...
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 11
QB Robert Griffin III, Was (vs. TB)
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Min (at Chi)
QB Ryan Mallett, Hou (at Cle)
QB Josh McCown, TB (at Was)
RB Isaiah Crowell, Cle (vs. Hou)
RB Jonas Gray, NE (at Ind)
RB Charles Sims, TB (at Was)
RB Alfred Blue, Hou (at Cle)
RB Bryce Brown, Buf (at Mia)
RB C.J. Anderson, Den (at STL)
WR John Brown, Ari (vs. Det)
WR Allen Robinson, Jac (bye)
DEF San Diego (vs. Oak)
DEF New Orleans (vs. Cin)
DEF Cleveland (vs. Hou)