Sunday Scene, Week 3: Kirk Cousins lights up the Linc

On Sunday afternoon at the Linc, Washington and Philadelphia combined for 71 points, 752 passing yards, 19 penalties, one brawl and two ejections. So that was an eventful game. The Eagles managed to escape with a win (narrowly), but Kirk Cousins was clearly the fantasy story. He piled up silly numbers, completing 30 of 48 throws for 427 yards, three TDs and one pick.

It would be an overreach to say that Cousins was flawless — his final attempt was an ugly misfire, and the interception was a bad ball intended for a well-covered receiver. But Cousins also completed tough throws into tight windows throughout the day, and ... well, c'mon: 427 yards. That ain't bad.

Scott Pianowski offered a Cousins endorsement earlier in the day, and I'll happily co-sign. The third-year QB was awfully good. Jay Gruden's offense paid the fantasy bills in Cincinnati last year, and Washington has enough talent at the skill spots to do the same this season.

Cousins gets a home date with the Giants on Thursday night in Week 4, and he'll be on the approved list for fantasy purposes. He's unowned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing, but that should climb in the days ahead, with bye-weeks looming. (Six quarterbacks are out of the mix next week, including Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton.) After a pair of unappealing matchups to open October (vs. Seattle, at Arizona), Cousins will face three non-threatening defenses in Weeks 7-9: Tennessee, Dallas, Minnesota. Deploy as needed.

Based on all we saw on Sunday, it's tough not to be bullish on Cousins. Take all the time you need, RG3. Maybe take more.

DeSean Jackson had a busy day against his former employer in Philly, we should note, snagging five receptions on 11 targets, with an 81-yard score providing most of the yardage (and a stellar end-zone celebration). Pierre Garcon also saw a zillion targets (no, 16), catching 11 balls for 138 yards and one score. Nick Foles threw for his usual 300-plus yards for the Eagles, playing through an apparent left shoulder malfunction (and generally looking like a quarterback I should have drafted everywhere I own Romo. Dammit.) Rookie receiver Jordan Matthews caught a pair of TD passes from Foles, hauling in eight of his nine targets — a nice performance from a kid who's had a few drops. Matthews has size enough to serve as a red-zone weapon (6-foot-3, 212), so keep him in your plans.

LeSean McCoy had 21 touches on Sunday, but gained only 22 yards. That won't ever happen again, I'd wager. The good news for McCoy owners is that he was cleared following an early concussion scare.

We're now three weeks into the season, and Jacksonville's defense has yet to hold any opponent to less than 34 points. The Jaguars were eviscerated by Andrew Luck and the Colts on Sunday, allowing 529 total net yards and 44 points. Luck passed for 370 and four touchdowns, going 31-for-39 through the air. Six different receivers caught at least four passes, with no one seeing more than seven targets. Both of Indy's varsity tight ends caught TD passes, as did Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. Nice work, Colts.

Lorenzo Taliaferro did bad things to various Browns defenders (Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Lorenzo Taliaferro did bad things to various Browns defenders (Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

How bad is the Jags' D these days? Over Jacksonville's last 10 quarters, the team has been outscored 119 to 27. So that's, um ... not great. As a fantasy PSA, here's a quick look at Jacksonville's rest-of-season schedule: at SD, vs. Pit, at Ten, vs. Cle, vs. Mia, at Cin, vs. Dal, bye, at Ind, vs. NYG, vs. Hou, at Bal, vs. Ten, at Hou. Plenty of QB streaming opportunities ahead, friends.

The Blake Bortles takeover finally happened on Sunday, and the final numbers weren't bad: 14-for-24, 223 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs. Allen Hurns had the highlight play, shrugging off would-be tacklers on a 63-yard fourth-quarter TD reception. Bortles will be playing from behind all year, and thus has a chance to make some garbage-time magic as a rookie.

Another week, another new featured back for the Ravens. This time, Baltimore may have found a keeper. Lorenzo Taliaferro rushed for 91 yards at Cleveland on Sunday, with a 1-yard score included. He's not a flashy runner, exactly, but it would definitely not be a pleasant experience attempting to tackle him. Taliaferro finds a gap, hits it hard, then punishes someone. Playing in relief of the injured Bernard Pierce, Taliaferro saw three more touches than Justin Forsett, out-gaining the vet 91 yards to 65. It's tough to imagine Baltimore would keep him pinned to the sideline when Pierce returns. But I don't run the Ravens.

EJ Manuel is like an anti-playmaker. (A play-unmaker? Dunno.) He either puts his receivers at risk, or simply misses them. Or he checks down, when deep shots aren't the worst idea. The grounding flag in the end-zone? Yeah, that's not great. Sammy Watkins deserves so much better than this. Fred Jackson may continue to benefit — he caught eight balls for 78 yards on Sunday — but Manuel can be such a rough watch. At least he recognizes the issues...

...but it's not at all clear that he's capable of fixing things anytime soon.

Donald Brown received a whopping 36 touches against Buffalo, yet came away with a non-whopping 89 scrimmage yards. An early touchdown was negated by penalty, adding to the frustrations of Donald zealots everywhere. But with both Ryan Mathews (knee) and Danny Woodhead (ankle) injured, Brown could see another mega-workload against Jacksonville in Week 4. According to my preliminary calculations, 36 touches against the Jags should result in 649.7 yards. So keep him active for that matchup.

Rashad Jennings, shrugging off a few Texans (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Rashad Jennings, shrugging off a few Texans (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Rashad Jennings entered the day averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but he'll exit Week 3 with slightly better numbers. Jennings punished the Texans on Sunday, gaining 176 yards and crossing the goal line once on 34 carries. Victor Cruz woke up as well, hauling in five balls on six targets for 107 yards and one score. Houston got a decent day from Alfred Blue in relief of Arian Foster (hamstring), but game flow limited the rookie to 13 carries and 78 yards. DeAndre Hopkins made a ridiculous one-handed catch that didn't count, plus he made six others that did, gaining 119 yards.

New England got a win on Sunday that inspires zero confidence. The Pats edged Oakland 16-9, in a game that offered minimal fantasy goodness. All of the scoring was handled by 'Kowskis, which is kind of awesome: Janikowski, Gostkowski and Gronk. Tom Brady delivered another forgettable fantasy line (234 yards, TD), and New England's running game did nothin' with a friendly matchup. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for just 74 rushing yards on 26 carries, with neither back averaging even 3.0 YPC. Gross. Let's move on...

This was a highly entertaining use of Johnny Football, though the Browns probably can't play that card again. Too bad. Fun moment. All of Sunday's best plays were nullified by flags.

I don't want to spend much time on the Chiefs-Dolphins game, because I can't stand thinking about what a healthy Jamaal Charles would have done to Miami. (Charles is a better runner than Knile Davis, you guys. We're not having that discussion. It's fine to simply appreciate Davis without making crazy claims.) Three different Kansas City backs combined for 217 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns on Sunday, with Davis leading the team in rushing (132 yards, TD) and Joe McKnight — JOE McKNIGHT! — leading the Chiefs in receiving (6-64-2).

Here's advice you probably don't need: Do not run out and add McKnight. Charles was close to playing this week. Upon returning, he'll likely split backfield work with Davis to some extent until he fully recovers from his medley of health issues.

John Brown makes a house call (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
John Brown makes a house call (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Once again, Drew Stanton was not the most impressive of the NFL's many Michigan State quarterbacks. But once again, Stanton got a win. He passed for 244 yards and two scores (both to rookie John Brown), and he connected five times with Michael Floyd, accounting for 114 yards. Tip of the cap to head coach Bruce Arians, for starting 3-0 with a seriously banged-up roster and backup QB. If Brown wasn't on your radar before ... well, maybe you should get to know him. He's a blur.

Dennis Pitta suffered a non-contact injury to his right hip on Sunday, putting his season in jeopardy. Brutal news for the team and player. It's his second such injury in just over a year. Let's hope for the best.

When most of us think of resiliency in sports, we think of ... well, anything other than the Dallas Cowboys. But the 'Boys overcame a 21-0 first-half deficit on Sunday, ultimately topping the Rams, 34-31. St. Louis, naturally, had a few shameful defensive breakdowns. I cannot explain how Dez Bryant ended up alone in the camera frame, hauling in a 68-yard TD.

Brian Quick delivered another quality line (2-62-1) in an otherwise disastrous day for the Rams. Jared Cook dropped a relatively easy TD, then took out his frustration on his quarterback on the sideline, which is deeply uncool. We hereby rescind Cook's Snickers Sleeper status.

Russell Wilson completed passes to 10 different receivers in Seattle's overtime win over Denver, and one of his wideouts (Jermaine Kearse) returned the favor, completing a ball to Wilson. That game was pretty much everything we wanted from the Super Bowl, but seven months late. Marshawn Lynch ran like a Balrog, per his usual, finishing with 128 total yards and two scores. Wilson passed for 258 yards and two scores, adding 40 yards on the ground. Seattle's defense all but erased Demaryius Thomas (4-31-0) and Montee Ball (14 carries, 38 yards, fumble), but Peyton Manning managed to pass for 303 yards and two touchdowns on 49 attempts. Emmanuel Sanders accounted for nearly half of Manning's yards (149), while Wes Welker chipped in six catches for 60 yards in his return from exile.

From the perspective of a mostly impartial observer, that was simply an awesome game. Won't necessarily mind if they do it again in a few months.

Sanu-to-Dalton is so much sweeter than Dalton-to-Sanu (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Sanu-to-Dalton is so much sweeter than Dalton-to-Sanu (AP Photo/David Kohl)

It seems more than a little unfair for Cincinnati to use Domata Peko as a lead-blocker on the goal line, does it not? Cruel. Terrifying. Probably unnecessary, but still thrilling. The Bengals once again produced two useful fantasy RBs, as Giovani Bernard gave us 47 yards and two scores on 14 carries, and Jeremy Hill found the end zone once on seven touches. AJ Green toyed with anyone who tried to cover him, catching six balls for 102 yards.

As for Mohamed Sanu, all he does is throw touchdowns.

Detroit's offense was not at its best on Sunday against Green Bay, and it didn't really matter. The Lions defense, on its own, outscored the Pack, 9-7. You won't see that too often. Aaron Rodgers was harassed throughout, finishing just 16-for-27 with 162 yards and one score. Eddie Lacy had another rough outing against another excellent run defense (11-36-0), plus he lost an early fumble that led directly to Detroit points. Not good. This would be the time to buy Lacy shares, however, with the Bears on deck (and coming off a short week), then the Vikings and Dolphins to follow.

Teddy Bridgewater took over for an injured Matt Cassel on Sunday, and certainly wasn't over-matched against the Saints — relentlessly pursued, yes, but not over-matched. Bridgewater finished 12-for-20 with 150 passing yards and no picks, plus he added 27 rushing yards. Teddy has a pair of excellent wideouts at his disposal, and he's coming off an encouraging preseason (not to mention a brilliant collegiate career). Long range, he has a chance to be great. Short term, he might be able to assist the fantasy community during the plague of byes, when the matchup is right. We won't see Cassel on the field for a while, I'm afraid...

Bridgewater is at home against Atlanta next week. Unfortunately, he could be without tight end Kyle Rudolph, who checked out with a groin injury against New Orleans.


QB Kirk Cousins, Was (vs. NYG)
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Min (vs. Atl)
QB Blake Bortles, Jac (at SD)
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, Bal (vs. Car)
RB Isaiah Crowell, Cle (bye)
RB Alfred Blue, Hou (vs. Buf)
WR John Brown, Ari (bye)
WR Jordan Matthews, Phi (at SF)
WR Brian Quick, STL (bye)
WR Eddie Royal, SD (vs. Jac)
TE Owen Daniels, Bal (vs. Car)
DEF San Diego (vs. Jac)
DEF Detroit (at NYJ)