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NFL Matchups - Week 4 Recap

Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams

Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum(Los Angeles)Thu. 9-27 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 49

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Los Angeles Rams - 38   Minnesota Vikings - 31

While I certainly don’t want to start off this week’s game recaps with a conspiracy, but does anyone else find it odd that this was the first Thursday Night game that was broadcast by Fox (they purchased the rights to air 11 Thursday night games this season) and it was this amazingly entertaining shootout? The announcers helped fuel my curiosity by continuously mentioning how they don’t understand why Thursday night games had such a bad rap. Really, guys? Come on. Just ask any fantasy owner how they felt about stacking players in this game prior to this one. In any event, let’s break it down because this one was nothing but fun.

Rams

Jared Goff headlined the prime-time festivities with one of those “one for the ages” performances as he threw for 465 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Rams to victory. It was tough not to look good as the Vikings defense went from being one of the most feared to apparently one of the most porous. Goff Had all the time in the world and methodically hit all of his primary targets for scores. What was most entertaining, really was watching how much fun he was having. Of course, it’s tough not to have fun when you’re zipping passes left and right and your guys are taking them into the end zone. Overall, this was more like a highlight reel than a game to analyze. Maybe if the Vikings defense put up more of a fight, it would be one thing, but they definitely did not.

We can probably give the same analysis for Todd Gurley who chipped in the usual yeoman’s work on the ground as he racked up 83 yards on 17 carries. He remains a dual-threat as he always looks great in the passing game, hauling in four catches for 73 yards and a score. While this game was fought through the air, though, this Rams offense still runs through Gurley. Without his efforts on the ground, this offense doesn’t stay as open as it is. Unless someone is offering a king’s ransom, he is probably the most untradeable player in fantasy.

Pretty tough to not just celebrate the fact that three different receivers all cleared the 100-yard threshold the way Goff was slinging the rock. Not to mention his Oprah-esque performance where YOU get a touchdown and YOU get a touchdown and YOU get a touchdown……of hey Cooper Kupp …..you can have two. Seriously, this was like watching my nephew play me in Madden and run the score up every chance he got.

The defense on the other hand…what happened to that? I get that Aqib Talib was out and Marcus Peters was a much less than 100-percent but they still gave up over 400 yards through the air. The front seven did their job, limiting the Vikings to just 54 yards on the ground, but this battle, again, was fought in the air, and if the rams are truly going to be Super Bowl contenders, they’re going to need to tighten up this secondary.

Vikings

Just as it was with the Rams, this performance is much more of a highlight reel than analysis. Kirk Cousins threw for 422 yard and three touchdowns, an extremely strong effort, though obviously not strong enough to pull out the win. With meager support on the ground and playing from behind, Cousins spent the day throwing (50 pass attempts) and easily supported his fantasy owners. But we expected this, didn’t we? Isn’t this why we drafted him in the first place?

People have got to stop bitching about Dalvin Cook ’s performance here. This is not the same situation as Leonard Fournette . Cook returned from his injury but was removed because the Vikings abandoned the run. When they saw they weren’t going to be able to stop the Rams offense, the Vikings just took it to the air. Cook gets to stay healthy and get another 10 days to relax and recover before Week 5. If someone in your league is dumb enough to think this was an unsuccessful performance, then you need to acquire Cook from them immediately.

Again, the receivers were able to do their thing as Cousins was chucking the ball up and down the field all night. The surprise came in the form of Aldrick Robinson catching two touchdowns. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen saw the bulk of the targets and came away with huge games (over 100 yards each with Thielen finding the end zone), but it was the lack of coverage on Robinson that Cousins focused on. Laquon Treadwell ? Well, if you saw his drops early in the game as well as during the previous few weeks, you’ll see that Cousins just doesn’t trust him. Maybe it was his past relationship with Robinson from their Washington days, but unless Treadwell improves his concentration and pass-catching skills, he’s going to be overlooked a lot more often.

Again, this defense is turning into a hot mess. The put zero pressure on Goff in the pass-rush and their coverage was just plain awful. Are we finally ready to admit that Xavier Rhodes is resting on his laurels? His reputation for being a shut-down cover-corner seems to be getting tarnished more and more each season. And then Trae Waynes ? Holy crap, that guy just can’t hang with anyone. I was kidding when I said his nickname should be “toast” because he keeps getting burnt…or was I?

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Venue: Gillette Stadium(Foxborough)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 47.5

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New England Patriots - 38 Miami Dolphins - 7

So much for the Patriots being out of sorts… Miami came into this game undefeated and leading the AFC East, while the Pats were a sickly 1-2 and coming off of one of their worst performances in the last 20 years. Even so, entering this contest, there was just an odd feeling that Belichick, Brady, and the Pats were going to blow the doors off of the Dolphins. Unsurprisingly, that is exactly what ended up happening. The final was 38-7 and it honestly felt worse than that. All is right again in the world: the Dolphins stunk and the Patriots looked unbeatable.

Patriots

A week after one of the worst performances of his career, Brady needed a big bounce back game on Sunday. While he didn’t light the world on fire, his 274 yards and three touchdowns were far better than his numbers against the Lions last week. It should be noted that even in a blowout fashion, Brady still managed to throw two interceptions. Whether it is age, lack of weapons, or early season sleepwalking, Brady still doesn’t exactly look like himself. Something to keep an eye on going forward.

While everyone exhaled after Brady showed considerable improvement, the real story of this one was rookie running back Sony Michel . The Georgia man racked up his first career 100-yard game, as he averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 25 totes. In all he finished with 112 rushing yards and a touchdown. Also on the ground, usual PPR threat James White instead offered eight rushing attempts for 44 yards and a touchdown. He added his typical work through the air as well, with eight receptions for 68 yards and a second touchdown.

While White led all Patriots in the receiving department, he was followed not too far behind by Phillip Dorsett (four receptions, 55 yards, one touchdown) and Cordarrelle Patterson (three receptions, 54 yards, one touchdown). The unique part of Patterson’s stat line is that he finished the day with 54 yards receiving, despite the fact that his touchdown reception went for 55 yards. On his other two catches, Patterson hauled in a three yard stay pattern and another pass for negative four yards… Thus the mind boggling stat line of 54 yards with a 55 yard touchdown reception.  

Those wondering about Rob Gronkowski and newest Patriot, Josh Gordon , will be disappointed. Gronk was clearly the focus of the Dolphins game plan, as he was held to only four receptions and 44 yards. His frequent drawing of double-coverages opened the playbook for others to shine, however. Josh Gordon unfortunately was not one of those others, as he seemed to take a while to get acclimated to his new surroundings. He was targeted by Brady only twice, but to put a positive spin on things, he at least caught both targets. He finished with 32 yards, including a long reception of 19 yards.

On the injury side of things, Patriots defensive lineman Adam Butler was helped off the field in the fourth quarter, while linebacker Elandon Roberts also limped off late. Worst of all, the aforementioned Rob Gronkowski left the game in the third quarter with an apparent ankle injury, putting his status for Thursday night’s game up in the air.

Dolphins

Just as there was a ton to positively write about the Patriots, the same can be said about the Dolphins, but instead in a negative light.

Ryan Tannehill put together one of the worst quarterbacking performances in recent fantasy memory, as he just barely threw for 100 yards, recorded no touchdowns, and added an interception to the paltry stat line. He was pulled late in the game for Brock Osweiler , who came in and threw the Dolphins only touchdown.

Frank Gore came down with that said touchdown reception, while he also led the team in rushing attempts (11) and yards (41). As bad as Ryan Tannehill was, Kenyan Drake may have been an even bigger disappointment. Drake mustered just three yards on three carries and 13 yards on one reception. He very well may have been the fantasy bust of the week.

Continuing the trend, it was also much ado about nothing for the Dolphins in the receiving department. Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills tied for the team lead in targets with six, while Stills led in yards with 40 and Wilson in receptions with four.

In terms of injuries, the Dolphins saw center Daniel Kilgore leave the game in the first half with an arm injury, while safety Bobby McCain suffered a knee injury.

Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys

Venue: AT&T Stadium(Arlington)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 43.5

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Detroit Lions – 24    Dallas Cowboys – 26

This was an all around exciting football game that saw the Lions rally back from being down 20-10 in the fourth quarter, with Dallas pulling out the win with a last second field goal. There were plenty of fantasy studs in this game with plenty of big names providing fantasy production.

 

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford had a swell day on the gridiron completing 80% of his pass attempts (24-of-30) for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns. To no surprise Golden Tate was his favorite target on the day. Tate caught all eight of his targets for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kenny Golladay had a decent day with four catches for 74 yards and Marvin Jones Jr. hauled in three passes for 56 yards.

Kerryon Johnson led all Detroit running backs, but still only had nine carries which he turned into 55 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount had just seven carries for a measly 12 yards. Perhaps a huge loss for the Lions in the short-term will be at the right guard position as T.J. Lang left with a concussion. The Lions now sit at 1-3 in a highly competitive NFC North division with a tough home matchup coming up next week against Green Bay.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott silenced the naysayers in the short-term. He only attempted 27 pass attempts, but completed 17 of them for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott was the star the Cowboys needed on Sunday rushing for 152 yards on 25 carries while bringing in four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Overall the Dallas pass catchers received an evenly distributed amount of targets. No receiver had more than five targets. Cole Beasley , Michael Gallup , Geoff Swaim , and Allen Hurns all had five targets each with Beasley leading the way with four receptions for 53 yards. Geoff Swaim had three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball Demarcus Lawrence had three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss to account for a majority of the defensive production for Dallas. Neither team forced a turnover, but Antwaun Woods who was already dealing with a groin injury, left in the first half on Sunday with a calf injury.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears

Venue: Soldier Field(Chicago)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 46.5

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10    Chicago Bears – 48

While the “Fitzmagic” may have run out the real wizardry was performed by Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday who registered a near perfect 98.9 QBR. After winning their first two games in impressive fashion, the Bucs have dropped their last two games and head into their Bye week with Jameis Winston back under center as the starting quarterback.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We’ll start with the losing team struggling to find itself after a hot start to the year that even saw them upset the defending Super Bowl champions. Ryan Fitzpatrick can return DeSean Jackson ’s gold chain as the former completed just 9-of-18 passes for 126 yards and an interception. Jameis Winston didn’t fare much better, but that’s to be expected because he as probably a bit rusty and obviously wasn’t prepared to play on such a short week. He did at least complete 16-of-20 attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown, but he did throw a pair of interceptions.

The running game has been awful for the Bucs to start 2018. Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber combined for 53 rushing yards on 17 carries. Obviously the lackluster performance from Winston and Fitzpatrick will lead to unimpressive receiving numbers save for DeSean Jackson . He caught five of his eight targets for 112 yards. Mike Evans had six catches for 59 yards and Adam Humphries had six catches for 36 yards. Mid-to-late round fantasy gem, Chris Godwin , was nearly non-existant in this game. He caught both of his targets for just 22 yards and didn’t find the end zone for the first time in a game this season. Cameron Brate caught the lone touchdown pass for Tampa. He finished with three catches for 29 yards.

As nice as it was for the Bucs to see their first-round pick, Vita Vea , active for his first game they did lose O.J. Howard to a knee injury and defensive back Carlton Davis III left the game after aggravating a groin injury. The Bucs head into a Bye week before going on the road to Atlanta where they’ll likely start Winston in a crucial divisional game.

 

Chicago Bears

Trubisky was the definition of efficient yesterday. He only attempted 26 passes, but he completed 19 of them for 354 yards and six touchdowns. Not to mention he also added 53 rushing yards on the ground. It may have just been lightning in a bottle as Trubisky had just two touchdowns and three interceptions coming into this game, but if he’s finally putting it all together and taking the next step in his development then this was a phenomenal way to do so.

As great as the Bears offense was on Sunday, Jordan Howard was an absolute ghost. He had just 25 rushing yards on 11 carries and that was the extent of his fantasy production. Tarik Cohen had more carries and yards than Howard. Hell, even Trubisky finished with more rushing yards. It has been a truly frustrating start to 2018 for Howard. He’s found the end zone only once and he’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. That’s not what you were expecting when you drafted him in the second of third round of your draft.

Five different Bears pass catchers found the end zone on Sunday so there’s plenty to discuss. Tarik Cohen not only led the team in rushing yards, but receiving yards as well. He caught seven of his eight targets for 121 yards and a touchdown. Taylor Gabriel caught all seven of his targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Trey Burton only had two catches, but totaled 86 yards and a score. Allen Robinson and Josh Bellamy couldn’t top 25 receiving yards, but their afternoons were salvaged by a touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Atlanta Falcons

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium(Atlanta)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 51.5

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Cincinnati Bengals – 37    Atlanta Falcons – 36

This was another offensive spectacle in Mercedes-Benz Stadium as expected on Sunday. The two teams combined for over 900 yards of offense and 73 points. This game was a goldmine for fantasy production as there were numerous contributors from both teams that could’ve aided your own fantasy production.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

We start with the winning team who walked into Atlanta’s shiny new stadium on Sunday and forced the Dirty Birds to fall to 1-3. Andy Dalton had a great day completing 29-of-41 pass attempts for 337 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. He registered a 70.1 QBR, which is his third-lowest score of the season. That’s just how good he’s been so far. Through four games he’s on pace to set a career high in passing yards and touchdowns. Next week he has a matchup against the Miami Dolphins at home who were just torched by the New England Patriots.

The pieces around Dalton had very productive days. Giovani Bernard didn’t log a ton of yards, but he did find the end zone twice. He finished with 15 carries for 69 yards and four catches for 27 yards. Tyler Boyd was a big standout on Sunday as he was targeted 15 times with 11 catches for 100 yards. Cincinnati’s presumed top pass catching option, A.J. Green , saw nearly half as many targets (eight), but did score a touchdown to go with four catches for 78 yards. No other Bengals pass catcher saw more than four targets. Tyler Eifert was on his way to having a nice game against the Falcons depleted secondary. He brought in all four of his targets for 38 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately it looks like his season will be over due to a gruesome ankle injury he suffered while making a catch. It’s a very unfortunate injury because he was seeing more work in the offense and getting more involved as the games progressed and while he’s typically had issues with concussions, it looks like a broken ankle will end his season this time around. Bengals backup running back, Mark Walton , left the game after being looked at for a possible concussion.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Coming off a three-game home stand the Falcons went 1-2 and were not expecting to be in this kind of hole this early in the season. There’s still plenty of season to go, but they’ll need to make some big moves on defense if they aim to play in this season’s Super Bowl on their home field.

Matt Ryan was phenomenal on Sunday. He completed 29-of-39 pass attempts for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan is looking about as good as he did during his MVP campaign two years ago. The good news for Ryan owners is that he’s on pace to throw the ball significantly more this year than he did in 2016.

It was a mediocre day for Tevin Coleman owners as he did not find the end zone and he had just 51 rushing yards on 14 carries to go with three catches for 26 yards. Julio Jones led the team in targets as he caught nine of them for an amazing 173 yards. He’s already halfway to a 1,000-yard season, but he’s yet to find the end zone. Someone who isn’t having trouble finding the end zone is rookie receiver Calvin Ridley who scored twice on Sunday and has six touchdowns in his last three games. Obviously scoring touchdowns at this rate is unsustainable as he had half the targets Jones did so be aware of some regression in the coming weeks. Mohamed Sanu had a great day as well catching six passes on nine targets for 111 yards and Logan Paulsen brought in his only target for a touchdown reception. If you play in IDP leagues and own Takkarist McKinley you were more than pleased with his production as he had three sacks and three tackles for loss. The Falcons lone injury came on defense once again as Grady Jarrett left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

New York Jets vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Venue: EverBank Field(Jacksonville)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 38

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Jacksonville Jaguars - 31   New York Jets - 12

This was a pretty lopsided game from start to finish. The Jets defense got tired from being on the field for so long while the Jaguars defense remained as formidable as ever. If you’re a big football fan, you probably saw this coming as the results were telegraphed from start to finish. The Jets never really had a chance.

Jaguars

Kudos to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense as the slow, methodical drives were important in their game plan. Knowing their defense would provide a bevy of three-and-outs, Bortles moved his club up and down the field and controlled the clock the entire time. After a while he threw the ball with relative ease and was able to rack up 388 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The one interception came late in the first half and was completely innocuous. Overall, a solid performance, but again, more about ball control than anything else.

The Leonard Fournette saga continues and as an owner of him in several leagues, it’s pissing me off as much as it’s pissing you off. Maybe even more because I was recommending him so often. He left the game in the first quarter and many of us watched T.J. Yeldon , who was clearly on most, if not all, of our benches, do all the damage. As it stands right now, the MRI Fournette had Sunday did not reveal anything new. No tears, no new starins. He just re-aggravated it. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he didn’t know how long Fournette would be out because, clearly, they tried to rush him here and set him back in his recovery. This doesn’t sound like it’s going to keep him out much longer and with the team not having a bye until Week 9, they’re going to need to bring him back beforehand. Expect him to miss the game at Kansas City this week, but let’s try and be optimistic about Week 6 against Dallas. Fingers crossed!

Looks like we got a bit of a coming out party for Dede Westbrook who racked up 130 yards on nine catches. Tough not to think he would be the primary guy as Buster Skrine is the slot corner for the Jets and he sucks. With Morris Claiborne and Trumaine Johnson on the outside, it made sense for the jaguars to attack the slot. Yes, Donte Moncrief finished with 109 yards on five catches, but that was mostly his 67-yard touchdown catch that came late in the third quarter when the Jets had seemingly given up on the game. This game will elevate Westbrook’s fantasy value somewhat, but you should be wise to recognize just how match-up based this performance was.

Jets

There’s really not much to say about the Jets side of things as expectations were incredibly low given the match-up with the Jaguars. Sam Darnold threw for just 167 yards and one touchdown, but while no interceptions were recorded, he should have been picked off at least three times in this one. Both A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey dropped what should have been easy picks.

Seriously….the running game was crap and the passing game was mediocre. I don’t think there’s anything left to add as this was nothing out of the ordinary. I do think we can continue to recognize Quincy Enunwa as a strong PPR option, but the rest of this team is more miss than it is hit when it comes to fantasy.

Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium(Indianapolis)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 47

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Houston Texans – 37    Indianapolis – 34

Frank Reich and the Colts will be dragged across the burning coals of media scrutiny this week after going for it on 4th & 4 on their own 43-yard line with 24 seconds to go in overtime. Naturally they turned it over on downs and the Texans got into field goal range and won as time expired. Reich, Luck, and the entire Colts team had an upbeat attitude claiming they were always playing for the win, not the tie. That’s respectable, but mildly insane considering they lost in hindsight.

 

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson had a great game completing 29-of-42 pass attempts for 375 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also added 41 yards on the ground and a touchdown with his legs. It’s been a frustrating start to the year for Watson, but he finally put on a fantastic performance. The same cannot be said for Lamar Miller who continues to disappoint fantasy owners. Miller rushed for just 49 yards on 14 carries, which brings his seasonal total to just 225 rushing yards on 58 carries. In PPR formats his season is salvaged by 54 receiving yards on eight catches and a touchdown.

Keke Coutee had a nice little breakout game leading the team in targets with 15. He caught 11 of those for 109 yards. DeAndre Hopkins caught ten of his 12 targets 169 yards and a touchdown, and Will Fuller V saw only five targets, but caught four of them for 49 yards while finding the end zone also. A lack of targets was due largely to Fuller leaving the game late in the first half with an ankle injury. While it wasn’t a great outing for the defense of Houston, Jadeveon Clowney did record two sacks, four tackles for loss and recovered a fumble in the end zone. J.J. Watt accounted for the other two sacks for the Texans. Linebacker Brian Peters suffered an ankle injury from which he did not return.

 

Indianapolis Colts

Remember last week when the Colts had to put in Jacoby Brissett to attempt a Hail Mary to end the game because there were some who thought Andrew Luck ’s arm strength was gone? Well that was not the case on Sunday. He attempted a whopping 62 pass attempts and completed 40 of them. In total he amassed 464 yards and four touchdowns, but did lose a fumble. No perhaps those concerned about his arm strength are on to something. He wasn’t throwing incredibly deep as he averaged just 7.5 yards per attempt, but fantasy owners certainly aren’t complaining about his production.

The running game was non-existent on Sunday for the Colts. Jordan Wilkins led the way with eight carries for just 16 yards and Nyheim Hines had four carries for just ten yards. The starting running back job is clearly Marlon Mack ’s if he can ever be healthy enough to make it on the field. However, as bad as Hines was on the ground, he was fantastic in the passing game. He caught nine of his 11 targets for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He may have some Flex appeal in PPR formats if he can prove to be a change-of-pace weapon out of the backfield.

Four players including Chester Rogers , Eric Ebron , Zach Pascal , and Hines each saw at least ten targets. Ebron and Pascal both found the end zone, but T.Y. Hilton led the way with 115 receiving yards on just six targets. Hilton’s lack of targets can be attributed to a pair of injuries he suffered. The first was a chest injury that forced him out of the game for a bit and later he would leave with a hamstring injury. The Colts defense, while giving up a large amount of yards and points, did manage to collect seven sacks on the day and they forced an interception as well. Kenny Moore II left with a concussion and did not return.

Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers

Venue: Lambeau Field(Green Bay)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

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Buffalo Bills – 0    Green Bay Packers – 22

It wasn’t a particularly outstanding day on either side of the ball, but the Packers offense had a decent day, but the defense is what really shined. They did this week what the Minnesota Vikings should have done last week; make Josh Allen perform like the rookie with accuracy problems that we all know and love.

 

Buffalo Bills

A week after turning the Minnesota Vikings into a circus, Josh Allen looked completely lost on the field. Each snap more pain staking to watch than the last. He was dreadful on Sunday as he finished with a 5.4 QBR. He completed just 16-of-33 pass attempts for 151 yards and two interceptions and a lost fumble. To be fair most of his completions came in garbage time as he actually started off completing just 5-of-19 attempts. It’s going to be a long and frustrating season for the Bills rookie quarterback.

The running game wasn’t much better. LeSean McCoy returned after missing last week’s game and had just 24 yards on five carries, but he did add three catches for 13 yards. Charles Clay led all Buffalo pass catchers with a mere 40 yards. Zay Jones had 38 yards and Travis Benjamin finished with one catch for 34 yards. Benjamin did have to leave the game in the third quarter after being evaluated for a head injury. Bills safety Micah Hyde left with a groin injury. This was clearly a game the Bills would like to forget.

 

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers didn’t pad the stat sheet as fantasy owners have grown accustom to in recent years, as he only completed 55% of his pass attempts. However, he finished with 298 passing yards with a touchdown and interception, while adding 31 yards on the ground. Those who stashed Aaron Jones had to be pleased with the fact he finished with 65 rushing yards and a touchdown while also adding a 17-yard catch. Jamaal Williams seems to be on the back burner for now as he finished with 27 yards on 11 carries.

Davante Adams led the team with 14 targets and brought in eight of those for receptions for 81 yards. Geronimo Allison had 11 targets in Randall Cobb ’s absence for six catches and 80 yards, but he did leave the game in the third quarter with a possible concussion. The only other Green Bay player to have more than four targets was Jimmy Graham who finished with just three catches for 21 yards, but he did score Green Bay’s lone receiving touchdown.

The Packers defense was very impressive on Sunday as they limited the Bills to 209 yards of offense, three turnovers, and seven sacks. 2016 third-round pick Kyler Fackrell was credited with three of those sacks. Next on tap for the Packers is a road game against the division rival Detroit Lions.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tennessee Titans

Venue: LP Field(Nashville)Sun. 9-30 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 41.5

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Philadelphia Eagles – 23    Tennessee Titans – 26

The Titans continue to stun opposing teams despite a sluggish offense and Marcus Mariota ’s injury so far, but they’re off to a 3-1 start and you can’t take that away from them. They’ve won three straight games since losing their season opener and their last two opponents were both in conference championship games last season. Whatever head coach Mike Vrabel is doing in Tennessee, it’s clearly working so far.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

As the Eagles do their best to try and get healthy, they’ve dropped another road game early in the season. They’re still easily one of the best teams in the league and aren’t counted out by any means; they’re only a half-game behind Washington in the NFC East standings. Carson Wentz threw the ball 50 times, completing 33 attempts for 348 yards and a pair of touchdowns. So it’s safe to say he’s back to form from his ACL injury he suffered last season. As great as the Eagles offensive line was in 2017, Wentz was sacked four times on Sunday. So far through four games Eagles quarterbacks have been sacked 14 times. They’ll definitely have to improve on their level of play because right guard Brandon Brooks may be dealing with an ankle injury in the short-term.

Jay Ajayi didn’t have a great afternoon, but the volume was there. Despite dealing with a few injuries he totaled 70 rushing yards and three catches for 11 yards. Zach Ertz led the team with 14 targets. He caught ten of them for 112 yards. Nelson Agholor saw 12 targets, but only caught five passes for 22 yards. That’ll be a reoccurring theme with Agholor. He’s a value in PPR formats because he already had 25 catches, but for just 167 yards. Alshon Jeffery looked great in his first game of the season. He had eight catches on nine targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. Those who started Jordan Matthews in deeper leagues got lucky with his lone catch of the day that went for a 56-yard touchdown.

 

Tennessee Titans

It was a slow start for the Titans offense as they scored just three points in the first half, but they did find a rhythm in the second half. Marcus Mariota , elbow injury be damned, completed 30-of-43 pass attempts for 344 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception. He also added 46 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The running game for the Titans continues to infuriate fantasy owners. While Mariota led the team in rushing, Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis combined for 24 rushing yards. And to be fair, all of those rushing yards belong to Henry. Fortunately Dion Lewis ’ day was salvaged with nine catches for 66 yards. Corey Davis led all Tennessee pass catchers with 15 targets, for which he caught nine for 161 yards and a touchdown. Taywan Taylor is a name to keep track of. His snaps have gradually increased as the season has progressed and he had seven receptions for 77 yards on Sunday. This was one of a few games on Sunday that went to overtime and while the Eagles salvaged a field goal on their first offensive possession in overtime, the Titans went on a 16-play drive to grind and wear down the Eagles defense that ultimately led to a Titans game-winning touchdown.

The Titans did suffer some injuries on defense. Their leading tackler Wesley Woodyard suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and didn’t return. Safety Kenny Vaccaro suffered an elbow injury in the first half and didn’t return.

Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders

Venue: O.co Coliseum(Oakland)Sun. 9-30 @ 4:05 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

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Oakland Raiders - 45   Cleveland Browns - 42

Talk about a barn burner! This one was out of control. After a wild four quarters of back and forth football, the two teams needed nearly a full 10 minute overtime period to settle the score.

After Raiders kicker Matt McCrain missed a 50 yard field goal in the middle of the overtime period, it appeared as though the Browns were going to find a way to squeak one out on the road. Instead, Cleveland managed to get in their own way, once again, by immediately going three-and-out. Given a chance at redemption, McCrain poked through the 29-yard field goal for a 45-42 Raiders home victory.

Raiders

With all of that scoring, it is no surprise that this game also featured some gaudy offensive stat lines. Translation: some great fantasy days were had out of this matchup. Most notably, much maligned quarterback Derek Carr got back on the horse this week and had arguably the best game of his career against what was considered a pretty good Browns defense heading into the contest. In all, Carr finished with 437 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

With all of that aerial success, it would make sense for the Raiders to not have had much to show for on the ground, but quite the contrary is true, as Marshawn Lynch may have also contributed his best game as a Raider. He was rumbling through wide open lanes all day long, as he racked up 130 rushing yards on 20 carries (6.5 yards per carry). While he didn’t get into the end zone this week, the fact that his yards per carry and yards after contact rates were so high is encouraging, especially considering his advanced age. Lynch may be someone to keep an eye on going forward in terms of sneaky fantasy production.

On the receiving end of things, Amari Cooper and Jared Cook led the way. Both contributed eight receptions on 12 and 13 targets respectively, while Cooper managed 128 yards and a touchdown and Cook 110 yards and two touchdowns. The only “disappointing” fantasy day from a Raiders player this week had to be Jordy Nelson and his five catches for 48 yards. Even so though, he still managed to get into the end zone. To say that 16 fantasy points is the most disappointing day from the Raiders offensive contributors is to also say that the Raiders killed it this week in the fantasy department.

While much success was had for Oakland on Sunday, it came at the price of two starting offensive linemen. Both Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn left the game with undisclosed injuries and did not return before overtime concluded. Coach Jon Gruden has yet to give a status update on their health; they should be further evaluated during the week.

Browns

What a game to have been a part of for the number one overall pick, especially in his first career start. Baker Mayfield finished the shootout with decent counting numbers -- 21-of-41, 295 yards, and two touchdowns -- but he also was sacked twice, lost two fumbles, and threw two costly picks. Overall though, considering it was his first career start, I’ll give Mayfield a pass. He hung in there and battled on the road. That’s all you can really ask for from a rookie.

On the ground, it was another rookie who did most of the damage for the Browns. Nick Chubb -- a back who has been largely silent so far in his infant NFL career -- led the Browns with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Get this… He did it on only three carries! His first touch went for 63 yards and a score, while his last one; 41 yards and pay dirt. Not to be out done, Carlos Hyde racked up 82 yards and a touchdown on his 22 carries. While Chubb was the explosive back, Hyde proved to be the same consistent pace setter that he has been all season long.

Through the air, Baker did a really good job spreading the ball around. Five different receivers had over 45 receiving yards and four had four or more receptions. While star receiver Jarvis Landry didn’t fall into the over 45 receiving yards category, he did manage to see 10 targets, while he was one of two Browns receivers to get into the end zone; Darren Fells was the other.

In terms of injuries, Browns defensive back Terrance Mitchell is most notable, as he left the game with an apparent broken arm. He will miss a few weeks at least with the injury.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium(Glendale)Sun. 9-30 @ 4:05 pm EDTOver/Under: 39

   Weather

Seattle Seahawks - 20    Arizona Cardinals - 17

In stark contrast to the Browns and Raiders game, this was a matchup on the afternoon slate that was not a shootout. Instead the Cardinals and Seahawks predictably played to a lower scoring, more field position game script. In other words, a rather depressing contest to watch from a fantasy perspective.

Seahawks

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson continued his poor fantasy season on Sunday, as he notched a second consecutive week with less than 200 passing yards. For the day he finished 19-of-26 for 172 yards. He didn’t have any touchdowns or interceptions, while in the scope of long term, he has still yet to break the 300-yard passing barrier in any game this season. Whether it is a remark on the current state of the Seahawks offense, or his level of play at the moment, or both, the fact of the matter is that Wilson is becoming hard to start in any fantasy format. A real shocking development considering the fantasy stud he has been in career thus far.

Starting running back Chris Carson missed the game with a hip injury, while first round pick Rashaad Penny mustered only 49 yards on nine carries. Looking for a fantasy silver lining for Seattle? Look no further than that of , who unassumingly took the backfield reins and racked up 101 rushing yards to go along with two touchdowns on 22 carries. When asked about the current backfield situation coming out of this win, coach Pete Carroll noted that Chris Carson was definitely coming back to start, however proved that he needs more playing time too. Great! Let’s just complicate this crowded backfield even more! (sarcasm).

With Wilson’s struggles through the air, unsurprisingly his receivers followed suit. Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin tied for the team lead in catches with five, while Baldwin led the team alone with seven targets to Lockett’s six. Lockett contrarily led the team in receiving yards with 53 to Baldwin’s 41.

Despite picking up the win, things didn’t go smoothly for Seattle in the injury department either. Rookie tight end Will Dissly was carted into the locker room with a knee injury early on in the game. In more noteworthy fashion, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas fractured his leg in the end zone, defending a would-be touchdown pass, early in the fourth quarter on Sunday. In poetic and prophetic fashion, the worst case scenario came for Thomas who, throughout the summer and the first four weeks of this season thus far, openly spoke out about frustrations that he had playing under an insecure contract circumstance.

Cardinals

In his first career start, Josh Rosen hung in there and made some plays. He didn’t light the box score on fire and he couldn’t get his team the win, but he impressed with accuracy and anticipation, and most importantly proved that he gives the Cardinals a much better chance of winning than Sam Bradford – the most overrated quarterback of the last 20 years. For those keeping track, Rosen finished 15-of-27 for 180 yards and a touchdown. He also didn’t turn the ball over, which is always an accomplishment for a rookie quarterback.

In the ground department, David Johnson finally got things going, as he racked up 71 rushing yards and a touchdown, while he added an extra 41 yards on three receptions. While his yards per carry average remained unimpressive at just 3.2, the important takeaway here is that the Cardinals committed to getting him the ball at a high volume again. If they keep that up, he will return to fantasy prominence, he has just too much talent for any other outcome.

Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones led the team in receiving yards with 52, Larry Fitzgerald led in targets with seven, while Christian Kirk led the team in receptions with four. None put forth notable fantasy stat lines, except for Chad Williams , whose only catch went for 22 yards and a score.

The silver lining to the Cardinals loss is that they managed to leave the game relatively healthy. Coming out of this contest, they had no notable injuries to report.

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants

Venue: MetLife Stadium(East Rutherford)Sun. 9-30 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 50

   Weather

New Orleans Saints - 33    New York Giants - 18

It’s about damn time!

It took a month, but the Saints defense finally came to play, as they went on the road and held the Giants to under 20 points. Now, while the Giants paltry offensive line makes that less of an impressive accomplishment, the mere presence of Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley should cancel that out. To say that this was a huge road victory is quite the understatement for a Saints ball club that now appears to be in the driver’s seat going forward at 3-1, in their hopefully playoff bound 2018 season.

Saints

For the last 12 years, if the Saints score over 30 points, you could bet your bottom dollar that Drew Brees would at least have had over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Hell, you could bank on that usually if they put up over 20. This week, that surprisingly was not the case, as Brees played a secondary role to the ground game. In all, Brees finished with 217 passing yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Speaking of that ground game, what about Alvin Kamara ? We already know that he is amazing, but what’s most impressive is that each week he manages to find a different way to embarrass the opposing defense. This week, he lit up the poor New York Giants defense for 134 rushing yards on 19 carries (7.1 yards per carry!) while he added 47 more yards through the air on four receptions. His most notable carry came in the fourth quarter, on what should have been a simple kill-the-clock run play. He took a delayed first step and waited for the play to develop, as Drew Brees reverse pivoted to hand him the ball on the right side. The strong side of the offensive line all executed down blocks, while the left guard pulled and led the fullback into the second level. While the design was originally supposed to be an “off tackle” run, the right side of the line down blocked so well that Kamara ended up breaking through the front seven was actually just right of the center and right guard’s original split. From there, it was a foot race, as Kamara went untouched for 50 yards and a score. Just as the offensive line made it look easy on this play, Kamara made it look even easier. With his natural burst and athleticism, he didn’t even appear to be running at full speed, despite the fact that he managed to easily separate from the Giants fastest defenders down the sideline. On the call, even Tony Romo noted that he appeared to be jogging. This guy is special folks, and may end up being the fantasy MVP for 2018.

The receiving department for the Saints was uncharacteristically quiet, but that goes hand and hand with the timidness of Drew Brees . Of note, Michael Thomas had his worst game of the season, by far, as he managed just four receptions for 47 yards.

To top off a great week, no major injuries occurred for the Saints during the game and none were announced after it.

Giants

It was another impressive week for Eli Manning in the completion percentage department, but aside from that, much was left to be desired. In all he finished with just 255 yards and a touchdown. It has become blatantly obvious that coach Pat Shurmur is hamstrung in his playcalling due to horrendous offensive line play. Sure Eli’s sack numbers have gone down over the last couple of weeks, but that is because the game plan has been to get the ball out of his quarterback’s hands as soon as possible. Seven and five step drops are absolutely out of the question at this point and it is directly affecting the production of Eli and even worse, of Odell Beckham .

Speaking of Beckham, it was another week where the Giants did all of the creative things that they could to get him the ball, but his numbers remained pedestrian. Teams are clearly game planning around Beckham this season and the fact that there is no time in the offense to send him deep doesn’t help matters either. In all, Odell finished with seven catches for 60 yards on 11 targets, while he added a 10 yard rush into the mix. Sterling Shepard was the Giants receiver who contributed the only touchdown reception, while he added 10 receptions on 10 targets for 77 yards. Saquon Barkley continued his proof of a multi-faceted skill-set as he added six catches for 56 yards to his 10 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown rush.

On the injury front, the Giants too were blessed with good health and fortune. No players exited early, while Odell Beckham was the only notable situation, as he received an IV at halftime.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Venue: StubHub Center(Carson)Sun. 9-30 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 47.5

   Weather
Los Angeles Chargers - 29    San Francisco 49ers - 27
 
Two points the other way and we would have had the upset of the week on our hands… 
Just a week after losing their starting quarterback to a season-ending knee injury, the 49ers still managed to pick themselves up off the mat and give the Chargers all they had. While it was not enough, this is certainly a contest for them to build off of. 
 
As for Los Angeles, the fact that they slept walked through the first quarter in a home game should be alarming, however the way they battled back is the mark of a good team. I’m not sure which way to lean with them just yet, but the picture may become clearer over the next few weeks when they get the Raiders, Browns, and then the 3-1 Tennessee Titans. 

Chargers 

Philip Rivers was good, but not great in this one. He finished with 250 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. By his lofty standards and against a bad team, Rivers was a fantasy disappointment on Sunday. Melvin Gordon on the other hand was a star. He not only finished with over 4.0 yards per carry for the second straight week and the third week out of four so far this season, but he managed to do it on 15 carries and an impressive 104 yards. In the receiving department, he also chipped in with seven receptions on 10 targets for 55 yards and a score. As it stands right now, Gordon is on pace for his best season yet, and it isn’t really close. That is scary to think about for opposing fantasy owners, as Gordon has already had some great statistical seasons in his career thus far. Other names of note: Keenan Allen caught seven passes on 10 targets for 63 yards, while Antonio Gates caught his 1284748723134th career touchdown. Okay, I’m joking, but he did actually catch a touchdown and it was the 115th of his career. To put it into perspective, when he caught his first career touchdown, in November of 2003, Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” was still a month away from reaching number one on the charts, while Ruben Studdard had just won Season 2 of American Idol. Shaking my head and chuckling as I type this… Congrats to Gates and that incredibly baffling longevity.
 
On the injury front, the Chargers saw wide receiver Travis Benjamin aggravate his balky foot again, while tackle Russell Okung missed the whole second half due to a groin injury.  
 

49ers

After a rather horrendous rookie season, C.J. Beathard showed some improvement in his second go around here. He finished the day with 298 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, but most importantly he kept the Niners in a game that they had little excuse to be competitive in. He appears to be capable of handling this season going forward in the unfortunate absence of Jimmy Garoppolo

On the ground, the Niners couldn’t get much done. Matt Breida managed just 39 rushing yards and that led the team. Alfred Morris contributed just 14 yards on four carries. 
Where the backs struggled, George Kittle picked the Niners offense up. He not only finished with six catches, 125 yards, and a touchdown, but also, in the process he managed to record the longest play of the season thus far, league wide, with his 82 yard touchdown catch and run. That’s an impressive accomplishment for anyone, but especially for a tight end.  
Little known Kendrick Bourne contributed the Niners other touchdown reception in the game. He finished the day with three receptions on four targets for 34 yards and that score. 
As if they weren’t already banged up enough, the 49ers left this game with even more injuries than they started with. Left tackle Joe Staley left the game with a knee injury, as did rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis . Neither returned and will be evaluated further as the week goes on.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Venue: Heinz Field(Pittsburgh)Sun. 9-30 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 51

   Weather

Baltimore Ravens - 26    Pittsburgh Steelers - 14

This game had such an odd feeling. The Steelers were home and they were relatively healthy. They went down early, but managed to finish the first half in a fury with 14 quick points before the break. The assumption was that they would finish the game how they usually finish home games in which they got their offense humming before the end of the first half… They were supposed to blow the doors off of the Ravens. Surprisingly however, those 14 points were all that they would score for the rest of the night. To quote Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in Denmark.”

Whether it is due to all of the media circus surrounding them or just because their defense is God awful, the Steelers appear to be a shell of their typical selves. Le'Veon Bell can’t get back soon enough.

Ravens

Enough about the Steelers though, let’s talk about the impressive game plan that the Ravens put together.

Joe Flacco looked unflappable for most of this game, as he had time to throw and took his fair helping of deep shots early against this vulnerable Steelers defense. He connected on a couple of them to John Brown , one of which went for 33 yards and the first touchdown of the game. In all, Flacco finished the day with 363 passing yards and two touchdowns.

On the ground, Buck Allen and Alex Collins nearly split the workload evenly with 10 and 11 carries respectively. Collins led the way with a better yardage total – 42 to 30 – while he also added a receiving touchdown to his decent ledger. Also of note on the ground, Lamar Jackson carried four times for 17 yards, as he saw a nice chunk of reps lined up all over the formation throughout the night.

As already mentioned, John Brown had a nice night. On just three catches, he managed 116 yards and that aforementioned touchdown grab in the first quarter. Also of note was Willie Snead , who led the team with six catches. His 56 yards were good enough for second on the team, as were his seven targets. Speaking of targets, Michael Crabtree led the team with eight, but he finished with a far less efficient stat line – three catches for just 29 yards.

To keep the good vibes rolling in Baltimore, the Ravens suffered no notable injuries in this contest.

Steelers

As I said, this game was very odd, and it was mostly because of the play of Big Ben. I noted to friends via text that he appeared hungover for most of the game, as his mannerisms were lethargic and his decisions were questionable at best. In all, Roethlisberger managed 274 passing yards, just one touchdown, and an interception.

Things were even more appalling on the Ground for Pittsburgh, as they managed just 19 total rushing yards as a team on Sunday night. James Conner had 19 himself, Ryan Switzer one, and Ben negative one. As I said, Le'Veon Bell can’t come back soon enough.

On the receiving end of things, it came as no surprise to see Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster tied for the team lead in targets with 11 a piece, however both remained rather inefficient with their reception rate, as Brown hauled in just five passes and Smith-Schuster just four. For fantasy owners, at least Brown managed to catch the only touchdown of the night, which largely saved his fantasy performance. Contrarily, JuJu Smith-Schuster left fantasy owners out in the dark with his mere four catches for 60 yards and no touchdown. Other receivers of note: Ryan Switzer , whose poor man’s Wes Welker game helped him grab seven passes for 32 yards. Vance McDonald also had a solid night coming off of a week in which he stiff armed a guy to China. His Sunday night stat line reads as five catches for 62 yards.

In terms of injuries, the Steelers lost Darrius Heyward-Bey to an ankle injury, while safety Nate Behre exited the second half with a pectoral injury.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High(Denver)Mon. 10-1 @ 8:15 pm EDTOver/Under: 55.5

   Weather

Kansas City Chiefs - 27    Denver Broncos - 23

As was discussed on Monday’s Fantasy Alarm Show on SiriusXM, this game wasn’t the big, crazy shootout everyone was expecting. It wasn’t that the Chiefs secondary improved as much as the Denver offense stalled and it wasn’t that the Chiefs offense sputtered as much as it was the Broncos pass-rush applying the pressure. The last-minute win by the Chiefs certainly kept it exciting and there was lots for fantasy owners to enjoy.

Chiefs

While he failed to throw for a bazillion touchdowns again, Patrick Mahomes still looked pretty good in this one. Credit the Denver pass-rush as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb applied pressure all night and really pushed the Chiefs into the run which, surprisingly, worked real well. But Mahomes did his fantasy owners right by throwing for 304 yards and one touchdown while also running one in himself. His ability to scramble was on display and you do have to give him credit for getting that opposite-handed “throw” off to keep that last drive alive. Gotta use the quotes around the word ‘throw’ though because it hardly looked like one.

Kudos not only to Kareem Hunt for a strong effort on the ground, but also to Andy Reid for understanding that he needed to stick with the run. It was insanely effective as they went right at the Broncos with it from start to finish. Coming into the game, Denver ranked fifth overall in run defense and everyone was expecting the big aerial assault, so good job by Reid for sticking with it. Hunt owners reaped massive benefits with the 124-yard, one score effort.

Mahomes still chucked the ball around the field – 45 times to be exact – and the short passing game really worked well as Tyreek Hill , Travis Kelce , Demetrius Harris and even Demarcus Robinson were able to pick up some decent yards after the catch. Mahomes does a good job of taking his shots downfield, but he’s really come around to leading his receivers on a 10-yard slant and watching them take it another 15 yards downfield. Watching this team has actually been a treat if you like watching the growth. At 4-0, the pressure is going to be intense, but if this offense stays as well-balanced as it looked in this game, they’re going to be real tough to beat.

Broncos

It was a disappointing performance by Case Keenum and the broncos pass attack as he only threw for 245 yards and failed to hit any of his targets inside the end zone. He was sacked four times and had pressure on him throughout the night, so maybe that knee brace did him in a little as his mobility was a bit limited. Not that you want Keenum running around out there, but perhaps we could have seen stronger efforts from Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas if Keenum were able to do a better job at extending plays.

The ground game did a solid job and fantasy owners of both Royce Freeman and Philip “Lights Out” Lindsay were rewarded with trips to the end zone, but it’s tough to build momentum if you’re constantly being shuttled on and off the field. Lindsay saw 12 carries to Freeman’s eight, but was definitely outplayed by his backfield mate. At some point, Vance Joseph is going to have to decide and give one the full shot. Obviously, Freeman is better-suited, but Joseph just isn’t ready to give the reins over.

The team, overall, is solid. They just need to find a way to take that next step. Until they do, mediocrity is all we’re going to get.

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