Jamaal Charles' ankle is sore after three-touchdown night
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he felt good during the 41-14 win over the Patriots, but admitted afterward his injured ankle was sore, reports ESPN.com. "I'm ready to get off it and ice it up," he said.
Charles got 21 touches and scored three touchdowns, two receiving, in his first action since spraining his ankle Week 2. He'll play the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday.
After three straight strong outings, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was held to 23 receiving yards in Monday's loss at Kansas City. Edelman caught four of his eight targets and is up to 26 grabs this season.
Edelman cut his route short on Tom Brady's first interception, and he was unable to hang onto at least one catchable throw. Edelman will try to bounce back Sunday night against Cincinnati.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski drew just three targets in Monday night's loss in Kansas City. He hauled in an 18-yard pass in the first half and a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, his third score this season.
Tom Brady wasn't able to get the ball to Gronk, who saw double coverage. But rookie Jimmy Garoppolo found Gronkowski for the late score.
Gronkowski's 31 yards marked a season low, and he has not cleared 50 yards in any game. He'll play the Bengals on Sunday night.
Brandon LaFell led the Patriots in every receiving category in Monday's 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. He caught six of his 10 targets for a career-best 119 yards and a touchdown, producing his first 100-yard game since Week 5 last season when he played for Carolina.
A 6-3, 210-pounder, LaFell showed his strength late in the third quarter when he caught a slant and shed a tackle en route to a 44-yard score. This was only his third career 100-yard game.
LaFell will try to keep it going Week 5 when New England hosts the Bengals.
Patriots rookie running back James White was active for the first time Week 4, and he ended up receiving six touches as the game got out of hand. With the Chiefs winning big in the fourth quarter, White entered and ran three times for 21 yards while catching all three of his targets for 15 yards.
Patriots rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo replaced Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of Monday's blowout loss and played well, completing 6 of 7 throws for 70 yards and a touchdown. It was Garoppolo's first action this season.
Garoppolo's first NFL throw was a 5-yard completion to Julian Edelman. On the same drive he found Brandon LaFell for 37 yards, then tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 13-yard touchdown.
Garoppolo and the Pats host Cincinnati on Sunday night.
Apologies to Knile Davis and Julian Edelman, Jamaal Charles and Rob Gronkowski. I can't sit around and wait for Monday night. I need to start poring over the box scores now.
It's a ritual for me in every sport -- what I consider the most important part of playing Fantasy, short of the initial draft. How can you know you're making the right moves if you don't know what all's going on?
It's such a simple step, but one so many people skip because ... well, I guess they just don't have the time (imagine that).
So I got to thinking ... if it's so important, why keep it all to myself? Why not take you along for the ride, relating to you anything that might influence my waiver claims, trade pursuits or lineup decisions? It seems the only proper thing to do.
With that, here are my biggest takeaways for Week 4:
• I was disappointed Rashad Jennings couldn't follow up his monster Week 3 with something close to respectable in Week 4. I drafted him with an enthusiasm normally reserved for one's own offspring, and I want to see him succeed accordingly. Most likely, the score dictated the distribution of carries between him and Andre Williams, so other than securing Williams as a handcuff option if I can do so on the cheap, I'm not changing my approach to Jennings.
• I don't know what to make of Kirk Cousins' four interceptions, so I don't even want to go there. I still like him, but more as a backup than a starter in a 12-team league. What's more concerning to me is that even though he threw for 257 yards, only 9 of them went to DeSean Jackson. The former Eagle's week-to-week inconsistency has always driven me batty, and the change in scenery doesn't seem to have resolved it. Maybe his best value is as a trade chip immediately following his next big game.
• Were we too quick to write off Eli Manning? I've got to say, three straight multi-touchdown games counts for something, especially in a year when Drew Brees still has yet to deliver three in a game. I'm still taking Cousins over him -- let's not do anything crazy here -- but Manning is now part of a beautiful bounty of backups.
• Of course, that doesn't mean Larry Donnell is catching three touchdown passes every week. He's a fine Fantasy option, but not the second coming of Jimmy Graham. Let's nip that in the bud right now.
• I'm starting to get really worried about Eddie Lacy. He had the matchup this time and once again averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. Every-down backs don't grow on trees, so I don't know that unloading him makes sense at this point in time, but I'm considering running back a position of need if I own him in Fantasy.
• I'm not quite to that point for LeSean McCoy, though two straight games with less than two yards per carry is a red flag.
• Martellus Bennett has somehow emerged as Jay Cutler's favorite in a receiving corps that includes Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. In every way you could want a tight end to deliver -- targets, catches, yardage, touchdowns -- he has, so I'm not interested in selling him short. The law of averages says he has to come down a little, but you shouldn't be so eager to move him in a sell-high scenario.
• I made this joke on Twitter Sunday afternoon:
And to think I couldn't unload Randall Cobb on anybody in my yardage-only league last week. #FantasyFootball
• I understand he's scored a touchdown in three of his first four games, but something about DeAndre Hopkins' emergence just doesn't sit right with me. I don't know if it's the presence of Andre Johnson, the overall lack of targets or the fact that Ryan Fizpatrick is the one throwing the ball -- I suspect all of the above -- but I wouldn't be opposed to shopping him right now.
• I thought Andrew Luck was overrated coming into the year because I didn't think the Colts would allow him to throw so much. Now that I've been proven wrong, here are my top five quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Brees, Luck, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and -- OK, a bonus sixth -- Philip Rivers.
• You can forget about Shonn Greene. If the Titans ever develop a consistent running game, he won't be a major part of it.
• I wish I could say the same for Trent Richardson with the Colts, but the heart wants what it wants. Ahmad Bradshaw has become a staple for me in FanDuel with his ever-low salary, but the Colts' fixation with Richardson could quickly put an end to that. Bradshaw, through no fault of his own, came dangerously close to giving me bupkis Sunday.
• If you haven't cut Justin Hunter yet, please do.
• Though I'd like to see him actually finish a game, Cam Newton has been a fairly efficient passer this season, completing a high percentage of his throws for about as many yards per attempt as Luck. He can't run like he used to on a bad ankle, but if he keeps throwing like he has, he'll see better results, especially with the emergence of Kelvin Benjamin. I'm not giving up on him, at least as a backup.
• All the media outlets liked to play the revenge angle with Steve Smith's monster performance against the Panthers -- and Smith didn't exactly discourage it -- but the fact is he's been that good just about every week this season, ranking third among wide receivers with 42 targets and delivering three 100-yard games already. Can you say must-start?
• Incidentally, despite scoring his first touchdown, Torrey Smith had only three targets on a day when Joe Flacco threw the ball 31 times. He has eight catches in four games and may not be beyond dropping if you're feeling a roster crunch.
• By cannibalizing one another's opportunities, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro are only making it easier for the Ravens to go back to Bernard Pierce when he's fully recovered from a thigh injury. Or maybe they'll end up with a running back situation much like the Saints'. Either way, I'm not investing much in either right now.
• Golden Tate gave us an idea what to expect from him if Calvin Johnson's ankle continues to bother him. At least for the short term, I like him.
• Bobby Rainey may have gotten only four carries to Doug Martin's 14, but there's no way I'm letting go of him after what Martin did with those carries. The touchdown was nice, but he's now averaging just 3.4 yards per carry since the start of last season.
• I'm beginning to have some concerns about Vincent Jackson. New quarterback Mike Glennon clearly preferred Mike Evans to him and then turned to Louis Murphy after Evans went down. Jackson also has a perpetual case of the dropsies, tying with Victor Cruz for the NFL lead.
• I'd like to get more excited about Heath Miller's 10 catches, but we've seen him do it in spurts before. He had two eight-catch games over a span of three weeks last year, remember? Same old, same old.
• Lamar Miller's two touchdowns were encouraging to see, but with Knowshon Moreno talking like he could be back in Week 6, his time as the go-to running back in Miami may be nearing an end. With the Dolphins on bye in Week 5, I'd be shopping Miller right now.
• Of Andre Holmes' 12 targets in Week 4, seven came in the little more than a quarter of play with Matt McGloin under center -- the same quarterback responsible for Holmes' 136-yard performance on Thanksgiving Day last year. It's a match made in Black Hole heaven and reason enough to put in a claim for Holmes if you don't mind taking on a little risk in the hope of greater upside. Derek Carr is going to be out for a while.
• But make sure you've picked up Eddie Royal first. I mean, that's just common sense at this point.
• Based on the way Donald Brown ran the ball against a Jaguars defense that entered the day ranked 32nd against the run, I've decided the Chargers are only throwing from here on out, hence my ranking of Philip Rivers earlier. OK, so maybe when Ryan Mathews returns, it changes, but only slightly.
• Thank goodness I didn't tell anyone to cut Keenan Allen.
• Er ... well, thank goodness I didn't tell anyone to cut Frank Gore.
• I'm encouraged by Colin Kaepernick's consistency but still prefer touchdown passes to rushing yards, believing them to be a better indication of an offense's design and, thus, more sustainable from week to week. In other words, I'm still ranking Nick Foles ahead of Kaepernick despite their diverging paths Sunday.
• If you buy into things like chemistry between a wide receiver and quarterback, Jarius Wright's emergence could be a direct result of the Vikings switching to Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. The two spent plenty of time on the field together in the presesaon. I'm still prioritizing Royal and Holmes over him, though.
• I wouldn't say I'm buying into Bridgewater himself -- not because I doubt his ability, but because I doubt I'll have reason to start him with quarterback being as deep as it is. I can make better use of a roster spot in a 12-team league. Anything deeper is a different story.
• If I owned Matt Asiata in Fantasy, I'd be thankful for what he's already given me and wouldn't hold out for much more. The Falcons defense had more than a little something to do with his three touchdowns Sunday, and rookie Jerick McKinnon looked way more explosive with a nearly equal number of carries.
• Something about Devin Hester's performance makes me think Harry Douglas is still going to matter in Fantasy. If he was healthy, the majority of those targets likely would have gone to him.
• Terrance Williams certainly answered the question of whether or not he deserves to be on your roster (see my post from Sept. 25), but given the Cowboys' reliance on the running game this year, I'm still skeptical Tony Romo will have enough games where he's able to sustain both Williams and Dez Bryant while still giving Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray their usual share of the targets. And if that's the case, Bryant will come out ahead nine times out of 10.
Every week, NFL players leave Fantasy points on the board in a variety of ways, and every Monday, we will try to pick those points up.
Antonio Brownvs. Tampa Bay
Scored 25 Fantasy points; could have had at least 13 more
Brown nearly scored two long touchdowns on the same drive mid-way through the fourth quarter, but Ben Roethlisberger just overthrew him. He still had two touchdowns in the game, as he has put himself in the discussion for best Fantasy receiver.
Kendall Wrightat Indianapolis
Scored 3 Fantasy points; could have reached double figures
Wright hasn't scored since Week 1, but he nearly hauled in this 18-yarder Sunday. The erratic play of backup Charlie Whitehurst clearly cost the Titans points.
Allen Hurnsat San Diego
Scored 6 Fantasy points; could have had 12
This has become something of a recurring scene for the Jaguars. Hurns has been completely unguardable down the field this season, averaging 21.2 yards per reception with three touchdowns. But he has left at least two more on the field due to his issues catching the ball, which probably explains why he went undrafted this year.
Kelvin Benjaminat Baltimore
Scored 13 Fantasy points; could have reached 20 for the first time in his career
A Play in One Part
Random Kelvin Benjamin Fantasy Owner: Woooooooo! Two touchdowns for Kelvin Benjamin! I am a genius!
Random Kelvin Benjamin Fantasy Owner: Nooooooooo!
Still, three touchdowns in four games, for a guy you probably grabbed in the ninth round or later is a solid consolation prize.
Davante Adamsvs. Chicago
Scored 1 Fantasy point; could have had his first double-digit game
First takeaway from this play? Aaron Rodgers is a freak. This is unfair.
Second takeaway? Relying on the Packers' third wide reciever can be lucrative business, but it'll break your heart.
T.Y. Hiltonvs. Tennessee
Finished with 10 Fantasy points; could have had 16
Hilton has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, though that is mostly because he has yet to find the end zone. He has been the second-most productive receiver in arguably the league's best passing offense, but has been held out of the end zone in all four games -- he also failed to score a quarter of the way through last year's schedule.
Hilton's lack of size makes him an inconsistent red zone threat, but he has a chance to go deep on any play, even if he did get dragged down just short this time around.
Neither back did much in this game. Fantasy owners will horde to Darrin Reaves this week, but the Panthers are surely hoping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will be healthy enough to play in Week 5 anyway.
With an eye on Twitter and a seven-game 1 pm slate, I'll be posting live reactions to Sunday's action, along with anything else I see.
6:44pm: Calling what the 49ers are doing to LeSean McCoy "stifling" might be an understatement. He's averaging .63 yards per carry on 11 attempts. MAYBE IF NICK FOLES WOULD BLOCK BETTER!
But of course, guys like ANTONE SMITH are exploding for 48-yard touchdowns. Fantasy football doesn't play by the rules.
6:15 pm: Teddy Bridgewater just hit all the buttons on the controller for this 10-yard scamper. Continues to impress in his first career start.
6:02 pm: Philip Rivers has 30 Fantasy points early in the third quarter. Dang.
5:43 pm: The rookie QBs are ballin' out here. Blake Bortles completed 15 of 18 passes for 149 yards and a TD. Teddy Bridgewater also having himself a game with 138 yards and a rushing TD on 8-of-11 passing.
5:28 pm: Guess we'll just have to face it: Eddie Royal might be here to stay. He's scorching the Jags right now with two first-half touchdowns. Keenan Allen owners not enthused.
5:15 pm: Let's set the scene. You're playing Madden against your friend who always picks a super fast QB and then proceeds to scramble like crazy and make ridiculous throws across his body. He scores time and time again, and you slam the controller down, shouting "This is so unrealistic." Well, sometimes football is just unreal.
4:58 pm: You had to assume the 49ers were going to roll with a steady diet of Frank Gore hand-offs. A hobbled Vernon Davis plus this latest news only confirms that hunch.
Michael Crabtree (foot) is questionable to return. #PHIvsSF
Gore already has 30 yards on four carries with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
4:45 pm: We're all for touchdowns here at CBS Fantasy Football, but you'll be hardpressed to find a more undeserving candidate to score than Toby Gerhart on that last drive. Blake Bortles did most of the heavy lifting down the field, and then they just pounded the ball to Gerhart three straight times. The third saw him tumble onto the goal line haphazardly, and the refs held their hands up for six. Not pretty, but effective.
4:31 pm: The Vikings open the game with three straight quick passes for Teddy Bridgewater to get his feet wet in his first start. Swing pass to Matt Asiata? Nothing. Screen left to Cordarrelle Patterson? nothing. Screen right to Jarius Wright? 52 yards.
4:20 pm: Vincent Jackson helps the Bucs to their first win of the season with this diving snag with seven second left. It also salvaged his day for Fantasy, as it was just his third catch on 10 targets.
4:05 pm: I am going to turn things over to Joe Polito to run the live blog through the 4 pm games, so I leave you with this.
4:01 pm: On Friday, I noted how wary Vincent Jackson's wrist injury made me, no matter how much the team or Jackson himself tried to downplay the severity of his wrist fracture. He played through it with a brace Sunday, but has just two receptions for 27 yards deep into the fourth quarter.
Jackson may be able to succeed in spite of this injury moving forward, but Week 4 was not a promising start.
3:52 pm: Four of the seven early games currently have fourth-quarter deficits. And none of them include Tampa Bay!
3:49 pm: Antonio Brown has at least 90 yards in all four of his games, and has now scored twice in each of the last two games. He's as good as any receiver in the NFL right now, and Ben Roethlisberger loves throwing to him.
3:45 pm: And you all thought Joe Philbin was bluffing! Matt Moore takes the field with the Dolphins up 24. Quarterback controversy brewing!
3:44 pm: Ahmad Bradshaw has four receiving touchdowns this season. Just hauled in another one, Andrew Luck's fourth of the game. Luck has 13 passing touchdowns through four games, including two four-score games in a row.
3:43 pm: Chris Johnson does not appreciate everyone writing him off. 35-yard touchdown run, leaves him with 44 yards on six carries. Chris Ivory still getting the bulk of the work, but that's a nice consolation prize for Johnson owners.
3:40 pm: Mike Evans caught his first career touchdown pass Sunday, but was forced to leave with an apparent groin injury. He finished the game with 65 yards on four receptions.
3:32 pm: Bishop Sankey continues to look a lot better than Shonn Greene . They've been down for much of this game and haven't used the rushing game much, but he has six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, along with two receptions for 23 yards.
Greene? Just three carries for 10 yards.
3:27 pm: Lorenzo Taliaferro was started in 24 percent of CBSSports.com leagues in Week 4, so at least some of you are breathing a sigh of relief after his 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Because he was not doing much otherwise. Just nine carries for 29 yards and no receptions in a blowout win.
Joique Bell being evaluated for head injury and is questionable to return. #DETvsNYJ
With how bad the Jaguars' rushing game has been so far, why not give this a try? Johnson likely will not see the field much, but this could be a sign that the team just isn't happy with their current options.
3:09 pm: No, Reggie Wayne doesn't look as good as ever. But, man, does he look good today. He did much of the heavy lifting in the Colts' scoring drive, including a 28-yard touchdown. Wayne now has six receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season.
3:07 pm: That wasn't Derek Carr who fumbled the snap that allowed Cortland Finnegan to score a 50-yard touchdown. It was backup Matt McGloin . Carr suffered a knee injury in what has officially become a disaster for the Raiders.
3:06 pm:Jordy Nelson TD! Dolphins DST touchdown! It's all happening!
2:56 pm: Will have more thoughts on Lamar Miller after the game, but he is running the ball so well, we might have a legitimate controversy on our hands if Knowshon Moreno is healthy enough to return after the bye week. This might get ugly for Fantasy owners of both players.
2:54 pm: Dolphins coach Joe Philbin showed enough trust in Miller to give him the team's next goal-line carry -- he took it into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. That came about 4 minutes after his fumble, thanks to this Brent Grimes interception on the next possession:
2:49 pm:Lamar Miller scored for the first time since Week 4 of last season in the second quarter. He nearly scored his second of the game in the third quarter, but this happened…
2:42 pm: 73 of Charlie Whitehurst's 118 passing yards have gone to Delanie Walker. He's overcoming the shoulder injury and the backup quarterback situation nicely. Late touchdown in the first half helps too.
2:34 pm: Am I high on DeAndre Hopkins ? You could say that.
1:34 pm: Roethlisberger picked up 66 passing yards on his second drive, but Justin Browncouldn't hang on to the touchdown pass to end the drive.
1:25 pm:Sammy Watkins just dropped a pass from EJ Manuel . Third of the game for Bills' receivers, with plenty of time left in the first quarter.
1:24 pm: Eddie Lacy finds the end zone on his first carry, from 2 yards out. Earlier in the week, I noted just how hard his schedule has been, and how much easier it was about to get. You might not be able to buy low after today.
1:22 pm: Trent Richardson has 6 yards on four carries. And a touchdown, his first of the season.
1:17 pm: The Jets settled for a field goal on their opening drive, but not before Chris Ivoryran all over a tough Lions' rush defense. Ivory rushed for 51 yards on nine carries on the opening drive -- Chris Johnson rushed for 1 yard on one carry. That sounds about right.
1:16 pm:Brandon Marshall doesn't always score when he plays with a sprained ankle. Just in even-numbered weeks. He literally fell into the end zone just now. If you listened to me before the game, you made sure not to take him out of your lineup.
1:14 pm:Brian Leonhardt scored for the Raiders, from Derek Carr . You don't have either of them in your lineup today, don't worry.
Editor's note: FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week long $350,000 Fantasy Football contest for Week 4. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $30,000. Starts Sunday, September 28 at 1 p.m. ET. Enter now to join.
Let's say you need to have Drew Brees vs. Dallas, Calvin Johnson vs. Detroit and Julio Jones vs. Minnesota in your FanDuel.com lineup this weekened. That trio alone is going to run you $27,600, leaving you with just $33,000 to fill out the remaining six spots on the roster -- a measly $5,500 per spot.
Even if you go to the bargain bin for your defense and kicker, Jacksonville and Shayne Graham are going to set you back $9,000, leaving you with little cash to fill out the rest of your roster. You'll need to find some real bargains in order to make that roster work.
What you'll need, then, are some lottery tickets. And, like the real lottery, your chances of hitting on any of these picks might be pretty low. There won't be any obvious names on this list -- just guys who might, given the right set of extremely unlikely circumstances, pay off for you.
What I am saying, in other words, is don't get mad at me if Fozzy Whittaker doesn't score Sunday.
RBDenard Robinson, Jaguars at San Diego ($4,600)
I talked earlier in the week about how Robinson's role has increased for the Jaguars, who let him play 33 percent of the team's snaps in Week 3. The Jaguars are likely to fall behind early yet again in Week 4, so they will have incentive to experiment here. And, when the alternative is another week of watching Toby Gerhart run into the back of his guards, why not take a shot?
RB Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers at Baltimore ($4,500)
With Mike Tolbert already out and Jonathan Stewart looking unlikely to play this week, Whittaker is one tweaked DeAngelo Williams ankle or hamstring away from being the Panthers' top back. The Ravens allowed two different Browns running backs to score last week, so Whittaker might hope for some of the same patterns to continue.
RBBilal Powell, Jets vs. Detroit
The debate about the Jets' backfield centers around Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, but Powell very quietly saw the field for a quarter of the team's snaps a week ago. He even had the pleasure of having Ivory vulture a touchdown from him in the second quarter, which would be all he needs to justify you taking a shot.
WRRobert Meachem, Saints at Dallas ($4,500)
Remember that Cowboys secondary we thought would be historically bad in the preseason? They currently rank sixth in the league in Fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers, at 17.0 per game. However, that is a number that is skewed badly by a silent 83-yard performance by the Titans -- they were torched by a tight end instead. Against the Rams -- THE RAMS -- the Cowboys allowed two passing touchdowns and 164 yards to wide receivers last week. Meachem has been targeted just eight times this season, but was targeted twice in the red zone in Week 2. If he can find the end zone during a game that looks to be a big-time shootout, he will more than justify your selection.
WRJarvis Landry, Dolphins at Oakland ($4,500)
Landry played 46 percent of the team's snaps in Week 3, as the rookie's role in the offense has grown. The Raiders haven't been hurt much by wide receivers this season, but it almost feels like they are due. The Dolphins have thrown 13 passes Landry's way over the last two weeks, and a similar role could be worthwhile if he breaks just one big play.
TEEric Ebron, Lions at New York Jets ($5,100)
Ebron isn't quite as cheap as some of these other options, though that is mostly just due to the afterglow of his No. 10 overall selection in this year's draft. He has just three catches through his first three NFL games, and is no sure thing at this point. However, he has also split time as the third tight end in the offense, but should see more playing time in Week 4, with Joseph Fauria unlikely to play. He has been targeted on 11.6 percent of his offensive plays, and could play a bigger-than-expected role as he slides up the depth chart this week. The Jets gave up two touchdowns to Martellus Bennett last week.
The Kirk Cousins Experience always starts out well. In his first start a year ago, Cousins completed 64.4 percent of his 45 pass attempts for 381 yards and three touchdowns, making for a solid outing even with a pair of interceptions thrown in.
Unfortunately, his play immediately cratered, to the point where the talk of a quarterback controversy in D.C. died down at least a little bit -- at least for a few months. And, after Cousins' disastrous performance Thursday, we might be witnessing a similar scenario this season.
Cousins looked absolutely terrific in relief of Robert Griffin two weeks ago, and then more than held his own in a shootout against the Eagles last week. Unfortunately, all of the bad traits Cousins had held at bay in his first two outings came out in full force Thursday, as he made poor throw after poor throw to sink his team.
Cousins had four passes picked off Thursday, and none of them were particularly close. He faced some pressure, but the Giants weren't exactly lighting him up; of his four interceptions only one came while he was facing any sort of a pass rush.
Even when Cousins wasn't turning the ball over -- and he nearly did so two additional times in the third quarter, when he had passes tipped and nearly picked off -- his accuracy was a mess in this game. He had some success throwing short and in the middle of the field, but was way off on the longer throws to the sidelines. As you can see below, Niles Paul had a terrific opportunity to score on a long touchdown down the left sideline early, but Cousins waited a beat too long and overthrew him by about 5 yards.
Cousins' mechanics were a mess in this game, as you can see on his second interception of the day. He faced a tough situation with Washington's offense starting deep in their own territory, but he did not exactly have a pass rush breathing down his neck on this pass. He strangely lets his momentum carry him backwards, and ends up throwing a lob off his back foot that is easily taken away by the safety playing over the top.
(For a collection of some of Cousins' other lowlights, as well as his two best throws of the night, head to this YouTube playlist.)
We whiffed on Cousins this week, big time. We assumed he had put his accuracy issues behind him and would put up big numbers in a rare Thursday night shootout. The Giants held up their end of the bargain, dropping 45 points, but Cousins' erratic play put the Redskins in a big hole.
And, Fantasy owners who put in big FAAB bids on Cousins last week might be in line for some more disappointing performances. He has to take on the Seahawks in Week 5 before traveling to Arizona in Week 6, a pair of tough matchups that could see more of the same from Cousins, who has now thrown an interception on 4.7 percent of his NFL passes, a number in line with the likes of Danny Wuerffel, John Skelton, Luke McCown and Tommy Maddox.
We're certainly not ready to write Cousins off just yet, but Thursday was a nice encapsulation of his flaws as a passer; flaws he hasn't quite put behind him yet.
Normally, I tear through my inbox with the irritable haste of a 15-year-old layabout rummaging through the dryer for a matching sock, but the other day, I happened upon an email that hit me right in the feels. It came from one Todd Johnson, who, judging by his use of the third person, didn't realize that anything entered into the "writer feedback" form goes directly to the writer:
Why isn't Scott White writing about Fantasy Football? He gave the best advice and wrote the most interesting articles. Bring him back! Please.
Such earnestness. Such sincerity. It's enough to make me ... wait until my boss approaches me and says, "Scott, baseball season is over. It's time to write about football again." So Todd, this one's for you.
Of course, if you don't play Fantasy Baseball on CBSSports.com, you have at best a vague idea of who I am, what I stand for and, like Todd, where my emails go. Since you'll be seeing a lot more of me over the next three months, I figured I'd use this first post to the Fantasy Football Today blog as an introduction of sorts. We're all friends here, after all.
First, a quick note on what I'll be doing. While I won't have a traditional column this year to ramble on for 2,500 words at a time, I will be making regular posts to this blog, which are sort of like mini-columns. I'll also be posting analysis directly to player pages, putting it right in the news feed like it's news or something. It's not, of course, but you'll know that by reading it. Those fact vs. opinion exercises you did in the fourth grade will really come in handy now.
You may have noticed someofthatalready from colleague Chris Towers over the last couple days. You may have also noticed that his name is a complete sentence. Yes, he towers over us all in terms of Fantasy analysis.
I believe in passing on wide receivers and tight ends in the early rounds, but I've made an exception for Jimmy Graham the last couple years. I believe in any slot receiver who gets a lot of targets, though I don't believe in giving a slot receiver a lot of targets. I believe in drafting two starting-caliber quarterbacks even though Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard ridicule me for it. (I found a really old column where I explain why in greater detail. Yes, Michael Vick was still something to behold then.)
I'm pro-Julian Edelman, pro-Rashad Jennings, pro-Travis Kelce, pro-Doug Martin (but increasingly pro-Bobby Rainey) and Pro-shon Moreno (get well soon). On a semi-related note, I'm taking Protonix for a chronic case of acid reflux. I'm also pro-tractor because it's more efficient than a hand plow and I don't believe in cutting corners.
(I'll co-sine to that!) #MathHumor
I'm also terrible at coming up with team names. "It Ertz" and "It Hurns" are two of my submissions for this year. I wish I could blame a lack of effort.
I'm a Falcons fan and have been for long enough to dream of owning a throwback Bobby Hebert jersey. I know he's all New Orleans now and played for them longer than he played for us (look at me using personal pronouns ... so unprofessional), but his No. 3 jersey harkens back to a time when it meant something to be a Falcons fan, when a 9-7 record was enough to make me weak in the knees. Plus, his name looks funny.
In the meantime, I derive far too much pleasure from wearing my Roddy White jersey (because his name's the same as mine, you see -- it's like I'm playing for the team!) but I couldn't tell you the first thing he did on Hard Knocks because my ears are too sensitive for that sh-- ... er, garbage.
My wife and I will also be welcoming our first child into the world in November, so for a stretch of about two weeks there, I won't be writing about Fantasy Football again. Bummer dudes.
If I could sum up my approach to this whole Fantasy Football thing, I'd say I make a concerted effort to treat it like the game it is. We all have our guesses about what's going to happen over the next 14 weeks, some of them more educated than others, but when push comes to shove, they're just guesses. We're going to be wrong sometimes -- that's what keeps us coming back for more. If that's not the game for you, better to know it now than waste years of your life anger trolling everyone who guesses wrong. Being wrong is part of the game and anticipating it can work to your advantage if you acknowledge from the get-go that it's going to happen. That's exactly why I believe in drafting two starting-caliber quarterbacks.
But we'll get into all of that in the days and weeks to come. Again, just a mini-column. Not going 2,500 words here. In the meantime, just know that I'm back and that like Santa Claus and The Police, I'll be watching you.
Thursday Night Football has had a slight dampening effect on scoring since it became a full-time part of the NFL schedule in 2006, with scoring down nearly 5 percent on Thursdays in that span. However, running back production has not been impacted much at all, which should be good news for Rashad Jennings and Alfred Morris, who could beat up on tired defenses in Week 4.
As Dave Richard noted a year ago, running backs have been just about the only winners in TNF from a Fantasy perspective. Looking back to 2006, 114 running backs have received at least 15 carries in games played on Thursdays, and 50 of them have run for at least 90 yards. Additionally, 59 have found the end zone at least once, for an average of 0.649 touchdowns per game.
The chart below compares per-game production for running backs with at least 15 carries on Thursday night since 2006 to running backs with at least 15 carries in a game so far this season:
TNF, since 2006
It isn't a huge gap, but it is enough that we can clearly see running backs fare better on the short week. Despite receiving nearly a full carry less per game on average, they have had more success with each carry, while finding the end zone more often -- 20 percent more often, on a per-carry basis.
The Giants defense did a fine job against the Lions running backs in Week 1, holding them to 2.8 yards per carry, but have been gashed for nearly 5 yards per carry in two games since. That should bode very well for Alfred Morris, who seems to be exactly the kind of back who can thrive after wearing down a weakened defense. He has rushed for 252 yards on 50 carries with a touchdown in two career Thursday games.
Rashad Jennings has a tougher matchup against the Redskins, who have held backs to a miniscule 2.7 yards per carry and 5.7 Fantasy points per game. That number is inflated a bit by games against the hapless Jaguars rushing attack and an Eagles' offensive line that has been destroyed by injuries so far. Still, both Dave and Jamey Eisenberg have Jennings ranked as a top-7 back for Week 3, so he should be worth the gamble, even if the team does try to limit his workload on the short week.
Kirk Cousins showed off a very live arm in the Redskins' loss at the Eagles last week. For nearly all of the game his placement of his passes was excellent -- a third of his incompletions should have been caught and his interception wasn't his fault (looked like a wrong route by Niles Paul). For the most part he made excellent reads and got his passes off quickly. But he did come apart late when the Eagles brought pressure in a close game and he threw wide or behind his targets on two of his last three attempts.
Maybe the biggest concern with Cousins is that the offense he's in could become predictable, just as it ultimately did in Cincinnati. Back in Week 1 when Robert Griffin III was under center we remarked how most of the passing was kept short. That dink-and-dunk passing that Jay Gruden likes isn't unbeatable by any stretch and that's what Cousins is running. A defense with shrewd cornerbacks (like the Giants, for example) should contend to limit the Redskins' passing.
If there's an X-factor, it's the receivers Cousins throws to. DeSean Jackson's game-breaking speed makes him a threat that will force safeties to play back fairly often. And Pierre Garcon remains an outstanding receiver -- perhaps two of the best completions in the game were made by Garcon in tight coverage (even double coverage) for a total of 66 yards. These receivers really help Cousins by making tough catches like Garcon did or picking up a lot of yardage after the catch like Jackson did on his 81-yard bomb (that traveled over 55 yards through the air). Another possible X-factor: Gruden might be more comfortable dialing up longer pass attempts with Cousins than he might have with Griffin.
We can now see why the Redskins liked the fit of Cousins in this offense as his accuracy is better than Griffin's. It doesn't clinch him as a rock-solid Fantasy starter week after week. This week we'll take a chance on him, even against the Giants (who have been good against the pass) on a short week.
Use him while you can -- he plays against the Seahawks and at the Cardinals in Weeks 5 and 6.
Two of the top three rookies from this year's draft saw their first extensive playing time last weekend, and Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater are both set to get the Jaguars and Vikings' futures started in Week 4.
To get an idea of how Bridgewater and Bortles fared in their first taste of NFL action, I went back and watched all of their dropbacks from Week 3. What follows are my thoughts on both players.
Teddy Bridgewater vs. New Orleans
This was not atypical of Bridgewater's day, as the Saints' defensive line got great pressure on him. By my count, Bridgewater dropped back 26 times (including scrambles) and was pressured nine times. He did a good job evading the pass rush and keeping his eyes downfield for the most part, though this pass ended with an incompletion to Jerick McKinnon along the near sideline.
Bridgewater was forced into scrambling often Sunday, as only one of his six rushing attempts appeared to be by design. He leaned heavily on his running backs in the passing game, targeting Matt Asiata or Jerick McKinnon on nine of his 20 pass attempts, the likely result of the withering pressure.
He looked good when he did throw to his two main receivers, Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. His best throws of the day were that one above on the run to Patterson, and a deep out to Jennings later in the game. He showed fine arm strength on that throw to Jennings, and actually struggled more with his accuracy on short throws, as when he rushed a pair of passes to Jerick McKinnon in the flats in the second quarter, both resulting in incompletions.
Bridgewater's life should be a little easier in his first start, as he gets set to face a Falcons team that has just three sacks in three games. He also won't be stepping into the game down 10 and forced to pass.
Blake Bortles vs. Indianapolis
Bortles entered Sunday's game with a lot less on the line. While the Saints' defense had an incentive to pin their ears back and attack Bridgewater while holding just a 10-point lead, Bortles took the field down 30. That isn't to take anything away from Bortles, who showed some serious skills in his first NFL action.
Bortles showed off impressive athleticism of his own in this game, as seen above and on one of his two big read-option runs here. He was helped by the fact that he was sacked just once and pressured only five times in 25 dropbacks. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 223 yards, though he didn't show off much arm strength despite the high yards-per-play mark.
Bortles picked up huge chunks of yardage on three plays, none of which required much work from him. He hit Allen Hurns for a 63-yard touchdown, though Hurns did most of the work in breaking two tackles and racking up 55 yards after the catch. His other two big plays came on passes to running backs Toby Gerhart and Will Ta'ufo'ou, unlikely targets for big plays moving forward.
Bortles' high-risk, high-upside potential was on full display in Sunday's game, as he also cost the team six points with this bone-headed throw on the run that Greg Toler easily picked off and took back for six late points. Fortunately, he opens his career as a starter against a Chargers defense that has yet to pick off a pass, so this could be a relatively soft landing for the No. 3 overall pick in his first start.