The thing about any true genius is that there is always another masterpiece right around the bend. You only thought you had seen the “best” of what Arthur Smith had to offer. You were not prepared for “Bijan Robinson, one carry, which for some reason came in the very final minute of a tied game” Arthur Smith. Explanations were not forthcoming afterward, with Smith mumbling something about a “headache” before just straight up admitting he needed more time to make something up. "I'll have a better answer for you tomorrow,” Smith claimed. What is Smith going to know Monday afternoon that he didn’t know Sunday? We digress.
By now we know all too much about Smith. The “scheme” is the only thing that matters. The “scheme,” of course, exists largely in Smith’s mind and conjures roles of varying degrees of importance for players like Tyler Allgeier and Jonnu Smith. Nevermind the top-eight Maseratis sitting in the garage. Used to coaching with one hand tied behind his back going back to his days with the Titans, Smith does not allow for things to be easy on himself. There must be Mack Hollins detours, Cordarrelle Patterson trap doors. Simply giving the ball to his best players would be too simple. Anyone could do that. You don’t need a scheme for that.
Whatever this is? You need to be Arthur Smith. To get inside his mind. To see the things he’s seen. Until then, you will never appreciate it. You will never truly know what it’s like to still win a game where Desmond Ridder loses three fumbles. To lose to Sam Howell’s Commanders. To feel anything at all. While you seek cheap thrills, Smith innovates new ways to not give the ball to the best three-down running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. He is a puritan, a monk. You are but a vulgar fantasy football manager, one who couldn’t possibly know what it takes to go 7-10 and arrive right back in the top eight the next spring to do it all over again, only this time better. Bigger. Purer. More Smith-ian.
Five Week 7 Storylines
Life gets worse for Aaron Jones and the Packers. Sunday was Jordan Love’s best start in over a month. That’s a real problem since it featured 180 yards passing against the league’s worst defense. Inaccurate and not a playmaker, Love has no shot at being bailed out by a skill corps just as young and inexperienced as he is. Which brings us to Jones, who is seemingly unsure of whatever it is he does here. Yet to reach 10 carries in a game this season, Jones also isn’t catching passes and he’s bleeding carries to inferior backup AJ Dillon. What in the world is this offensive design? I know what this roster design is: Bad. GM Brian Gutekunst needs to sell Jones to the highest bidder and begin this teardown in earnest, one that frankly should not involve Love for 2024.
Deshaun Watson’s 2023 gets even more confusing. Watson made it just five throws in Indianapolis before heading back to the sideline with a shoulder tweak. Except he was never even announced with an injury? And could have kept playing? But coach Kevin Stefanski didn’t want him to? And has already said he will be the Week 8 starter against the Seahawks? Seriously, what is going on here? In his short time in the game, Watson made sure to throw a pair of ghastly picks against a bad defense, the second of which was dubiously overturned because the ball grazed the ground. Barely playing and struggling when doing so, Watson continues to look like the biggest boondoggle in recent NFL memory, one struggling to create any fantasy value in this offense beyond Amari Cooper.
Jonathan Taylor looks more like Jonathan Taylor vs. Browns. Yes, Taylor still handled as many carries as Zack Moss. He also out-produced him 120-62 and found the end zone for the first time in 2023. Moss isn’t going to be going away. Fill-in quarterback Gardner Minshew is a turnover machine, one the Colts are going to want to limit. That means as many running back touches as possible. But Taylor has finally seized the lion’s share of them. He also looks healthy and ready to contribute a few of his patented big plays. Top-five status appears a long way off, but Taylor has just about crawled back to the RB1/2 borderline for Week 8 against the Saints’ tough run D.
Jerome Ford injures ankle in Browns’ wild win over Colts. Ford was already having trouble putting Kareem Hunt away. This is going to make it a lot harder. Ford was maintaining 1A duties in the Browns’ committee by virtue of his varied skill-set and big-play ability, both of which were on display in Indianapolis. But even a 1-2 week absence with his ankle injury would give Hunt a wide berth to run through, and perhaps even establish Pierre Strong as something of a “1C,” a role the ex-Pat had already been flirting with. Fantasy managers who emptied the FAAB clip need to hope for a clean MRI and for Ford to take the field in Week 8.
Josh Palmer continues to emerge as WR3. Palmer has drawn at least seven targets in all four games since Mike Williams’ injury, producing at least 60 yards all four times out while contributing at least one catch of 26-plus yards down field. (#AtLeast) It shouldn’t have to be this way for an offense that invested a first-round pick in “boundary threat” Quentin Johnston, but it’s the undeniable reality after Johnston bookended the Chargers’ Week 6 bye with a pair of duds. He’s a nonentity. Palmer is verging on must-start territory in this targets-starved attack.
Five More Week 7 Storylines
Tyrod Taylor puts the Giants in an awkward position. Straight up, Taylor has had the two best starts by any Giants quarterback all season. It’s not even really debatable. It’s also not debatable that $160 million man Daniel Jones will remain the starter when healthy. It appears that will include Week 8 … against a Jets defense with as many interceptions as passing touchdowns allowed. A player who has failed all year is being set up to fail against Gang Green, which will inevitably lead to questions about who should really be leading this offense, and not whether Jones’ contract is a fiasco, but just how big of a disaster it really is. I would start Taylor, who has reanimated Darren Waller and actually managed to target down-field demon Jalin Hyatt. Until something changes, should-be rookie breakout Hyatt will remain little more than a WR5 dart throw.
Tyson Bagent gets the Raiders to ponder the meaning of life. By now you’ve probably seen the stat. Bagent’s final career start for Division II Shepherd was a blowout loss to the “Colorado School of Mines” where he took eight sacks and tossed two interceptions. 10 months later he was easily beating the Las Vegas Raiders. Where does that leave Josh McDaniels and company? Nowhere good. The only team yet to exceed 21 points in a game this season, the Raiders have neutered Davante Adams and neutralized Josh Jacobs. The running back has yet to better 3.6 yards per carry in a game this year. Jimmy Garoppolo’s return will solve the “Bagent problem,” but can’t delay what is looking increasingly inevitable: Yet another Raiders head coach firing.
Jahmyr Gibbs lone bright spot for Lions in blowout loss. Gibbs gobbled up 86 percent of the Lions’ snaps, leaving no opening for Craig Reynolds and no doubt he’s ready for more even when David Montgomery returns. You could argue that is too broad of a reading into one garbage time-fueled performance, but Gibbs was living up to his college film in Tampa. He caught passes, provided explosive plays and looked mighty difficult to bring down. Having reached at least 4.7 yards per carry in 4-of-5 performances behind the Lions’ elite offensive line, Gibbs just needs the work. He should have it in a team-wide bounce-back spot for Week 8 against the Raiders.
Rashee Rice stakes claim to "only reliable Chiefs wideout." Catching 4-5 weekly passes and making frequent trips to the end zone, Rice has been rewarded with ever-increasing snaps and routes, reaching new season highs in both categories against the Chargers. Mecole Hardman’s returning role is something of a complicating factor, but the Chiefs are seeing the same thing we’re seeing. Of the Chiefs’ frustrating Rice/Skyy Moore/Kadarius Toney gaggle, only Rice is producing with any regularity. He already has more yards than Moore managed in all of 2022. WR3 relevance is within striking distance, and matchups like Week 8’s date with the Broncos will only make it easier.
Darrell Henderson leads Rams’ under construction backfield. Of Henderson, Royce Freeman and Zach Evans, only Evans was active when Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers went down in Week 6. And yet, Evans was the only one not to touch the ball against the Steelers, with Henderson handling 39 snaps to Freeman’s 29. The two played to a production standstill, but Henderson out-touched Freeman 19-12. There is little reason to expect any of this to change for Week 8 against the Cowboys. Henderson has the experience in coach Sean McVay’s system and a game of 2023 film to now back it up. Myles Gaskin looms as another committee member, but Henderson will be the lone Rams back worth flexing this weekend.
1. Does America really, truly understand how humiliating this Raiders loss was?
2. Did you miss Mac Jones yet?
3. Do the Lions have a fire barrel for yesterday’s tape?
Early Waivers Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
DEF: Chargers (vs. CHI), Dolphins (vs. NE), Falcons (@TEN), Giants (vs. NYJ), Jaguars (@PIT), Texans (@CAR)
Stats of the Week
With Quintin Morris inactive, Dalton Kincaid set new career highs across the board. Hopefully the Bills don’t return to their previous foolishness if Morris returns from his ankle injury in Week 8 against the Bucs.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba set new season highs in targets (seven) and receiving yards (63), but … got out-snapped by Jake Bobo. Bobo also produced an identical statline. Thankfully for JSN, Bobo’s playing time appears far more contingent on DK Metcalf’s health than JSN’s does.
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Tweet of the Week, from Pete Overzet: Arthur Smith is like a galaxy brain DFS player. “Bijan & London too chalky, C-Patt & Scotty Miller in a GPP??”
Gregg Rosenthal Tweet of the Week: Even if the Raiders lose, these are valuable reps in Hoyer’s development.
The, You Know What, Screw It, I’m Going To Put It In The Paper That I Got Mad Award, from Joe Schad: The Tush Push is not a legitimate football play. It’s not how football was meant to be played. It’s also lame and can cause injuries. Nobody except Eagles fans will miss it once it’s banned in the offseason.
Raiders Question of the Week, from Carlos Aguilar: Raider fans are currently debating if (Sunday’s loss) is worse than the Jeff Saturday one. The beat writers insist it isn’t.
Best Arthur Smith Description, from @Brewce90: The antichrist Ted Lasso.