The injury report is a funny thing.
Arizona had David Johnson listed as a game-time decision this week, an issue tied to his back. He was cleared before Sunday’s game at the Giants, apparently a fantasy green light. But Johnson wound up with just one touch in the contest, while understudy Chase Edmonds went bonkers (150 total yards, three touchdowns).
So score one for playing it safe, right?
But then we have the case of the Green Bay passing game. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison were out of practice all week and seemed unlikely to play against Oakland. Alas, they were both given the go-ahead Sunday against Oakland. Did you have the nerve to start either one of them? Did you move off presumed WR pivot Allen Lazard? And were you afraid to use name-brand quarterback Aaron Rodgers, given the questionable state of his receivers?
To be fair, Green Bay didn’t focus on any specific downfield option in the 42-24 thrashing of Oakland. No one had more than five targets. But MVS had a 74-yard touchdown jaunt in the second half, justifying his fantasy spot. Meanwhile, Lazard (3-42-0, one drop) and Allison (4-33-0) were quiet.
The big Packers takeaway was the undeniable brilliance of Rodgers, who rang up six total touchdowns (five by air, one by land) without star receiver Davante Adams. No referee controversy in this one. No whispers of Rodgers being compromised. He only threw six incompletions in 31 attempts, didn’t turn the ball over, only took one sack. That’s a perfect game, kids. This was a clinic.
Imagine what Rodgers could do with a healthy Adams. Rodgers should be a fun play next week against Kansas City’s spotty defense — a shame it’s Matt Moore on the other side of things — and I can’t imagine the Chargers will hold Rodgers back in Week 9. It’s been a deliberate road at times, but Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are starting to make beautiful music together.
Meanwhile, Edmonds was so dynamic in Arizona’s 27-24 victory at the Giants, we have to wonder if Arizona’s backfield is now a two-man show. Edmonds’s efficiency stats were much better than Johnson’s coming into this week, and while those stats can be misleading — Johnson normally has to deal with the burden of heavy volume and fresher defense — perhaps there’s something to be said for using a running back with five years of fresher legs. The kid is alright.
Maybe the Edmonds genie isn’t going back into the bottle. He’s now scored touchdowns in three straight games, he’s dynamic in space, and he’s averaging over six yards per touch. So many of his runs advance to the second level before anyone gets a real angle on him. The Cardinals have difficult draws the next two weeks (at New Orleans; home against San Francisco), but Edmonds at minimum is going to get flex consideration from me. Maybe he’s better than that, perhaps a top 20 back going forward, no matter the context. We’ll see what the tape and stat analysis bring over the next 48 hours; that’s how the sausage is made.
What if the Rams backfield has no right answers?
Although the Rams put up 37 points at Atlanta, it wasn’t the fantasy elixir many expected. None of the wideouts were able to score a touchdown. Jared Goff bogarted one rushing touchdown, and his two passing scores went to surprising options (Gerald Everett, Todd Gurley).
And maybe there’s no right answer in the Los Angeles backfield this year. Gurley stumbled to 2.3 a carry, while Darrell Henderson was nothing special (11-31-0). The offensive line has taken a step back. There was a time any back getting volume in this offense was an automatic fantasy start — heck, often a DFS staple. That’s not the case at the moment.
Gurley’s fantasy owners appreciate the touchdown deodorant, but given the attrition he’s dealt with — dating back to his days at Georgia — he’s the oldest 25-year-old in the league.
• Devin Singletary clearly has a bright future, but the Bills are in no hurry to get there. The LeSean McCoy cut has been misinterpreted in some circles; it clearly signified Singletary had a role with this team, but it didn’t mean a featured role would be fast-tracked. He’s still the clear secondary option, behind Frank Gore. And Josh Allen is always a mouth to feed in this rushing game, too.
• I wouldn’t say Ryan Tannehill was great, but he was certainly good enough. He threw into some tight windows, throws that Marcus Mariota generally won’t attempt. Corey Davis had a useful game, and Adam Humphries chipped in. No one is going to miss Mariota.
If the Chargers were a funeral parlor, no one would die.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 20, 2019
• I’ve always been a big fan of Kyle Shanahan, and the Niners defense is a nasty unit. But if San Francisco is going to be a true Super Bowl contender, it needs a second offensive playmaker after George Kittle, and better play from Jimmy Garoppolo. Sunday’s uneven effort would not be good enough against a contending team. Garoppolo looked like he’d never seen rain before.
• Gardner Minshew is far from a finished product, but at least he has a chance. He’s poised. He looks to press the ball downfield. He’s shown the ability to learn from mistakes. And he’s making weekly stars out of some of his receivers, something Blake Bortles rarely accomplished. As much as I love Nick Foles, I don’t see any point to shift back to him.
Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette is one of the quiet fantasy staples of the year. He has an extremely high touch floor, in part because of his quiet contributions in the passing game. He’s been unlucky in the touchdown column; that’s a sure bet to turn around. I’d have no problem paying market for Fournette in a trade.
• Once again, the Raiders overfed their primary skill guys. I still see Oakland as a losing team, but Josh Jacobs and Darren Weller are high-floor fantasy options. But Derek Carr? He’s just good enough to lose with.
• Why can’t the Colts be the AFC’s second-best team? They’ve won at Kansas City. The victory over Houston was clean. They’re deep, well coached, multiple. And these guys can also take a punch; even when a negative play hits, they just shake it off and go to the next snap. Frank Reich’s personality is all over this roster.
• The Eagles desperately need DeSean Jackson back or a wide-receiver trade. Alshon Jeffery isn’t merely on the back nine of his career, he’s putting on No. 18.
• I just want to see Kenny Stills stay healthy for a full season. There’s no reason why he couldn’t be WR25 or better.
Sterling Sharpe. Jerry Rice. Marvin Jones. Your list of wideouts with two four-touchdown games.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 20, 2019
• Lamar Jackson is undeniably electrifying, but there’s also a recklessness to his game that concerns me. I find myself afraid something bad is going to happen at the conclusion of each play. I’d like to see more polish in the pocket, too.
• Allen Robinson is the only playable thing in Chicago. Mitch Trubisky would probably be in trouble if the team had anything of note behind him. Too often, Matt Nagy is too cute for his own good. Stop trying to make everything on the menu, find 2-4 dishes you can replicate consistently.
The Bears still don’t have a 300-yard game of offense (hat tip, Jersey Mike), which is horrendous in today’s NFL.