2018 EYE IN THE SKY NFL SCOUTING REPORTS
Once again in 2018, we are bringing you in-season NFL Team Reports from our "Eye in the Sky" correspondents. These reports represent a local point of view which isn't readily available on the web. We remind everyone, the views expressed within these reports contain speculation as well as fact. It's just another extra bonus from FFMastermind.com to keep all fantasy football fanatics well informed.
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The Steelers were not competative in Foxboro getting obliterated by the Patriots by the score of 33-3. A loss on the road against the defending Super Bowl Champions on the night they raise their banner is not the end of the world. The complete domination was disappointing. Next up the Seahawks travel to the east coast for a 1 pm matchup at Heinz Field. The Seahawks held off the Bengals by a point at home in their opener.
QB: Getting behind early caused QB Ben Roethlisberger to attempt 47 passes. He completed 27 for 276 yards and an interception. Last week QB Andy Dalton threw for over 400 yards in Seattle. Roethlisberger should be in for a big week at home.
RB: Opportunity especially on the ground was limited for RB James Conner. He carried the ball only 10 times for 21 yards adding 4 catches for 44 yards. There was an attempt to get RB Jaylen Samuels involved early in two back sets with Conner. It didn't work. Samuels ended up with only 2 carries for 4 yards and a catch for 2 yards. Having Conner get more touches will likely be a goal this coming Sunday. He has been slowed in practice this week due to an undisclosed illness. Make sure he is OK on game day.
WR: The leading receiver unsurprisingly was WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. He caught 6 passes for 78 yards. WR Donte Moncrief and WR Ryan Switzer got the next most playing time with disappointing results. Moncrief caught 3 passes for 7 yards and had a pair of bad drops. Switzer had a patry 29 yards on 6 catches. WR James Washington added 2 receptions for 51 yards and rookie WR Dontea Johnson 3 for 25 yards. The Seahawks secondary is no longer a top unit. Last week WR John Ross torched them for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 7 receptions. Hopefully Smith-Schuster is active and healthy on Sunday to take advantage. He was listed as limited at practice on Wednesday which is actually usually a good sign. Smith-Schuster suffered a toe injury late in the opener. Why was he still in the blowout at the time? No idea. Until the usage of the other receivers changes with Washington and Johnson getting more playing time than Moncrief and Switzer none of them are not fantasy relevant.
TE: Surprisingly TE Vance McDonald was not very involved in the offense. He caught only 2 passes for 40 yards. Depth behind him is poor. While not a top fantasy option, he has some upside. Having him active this week is not crazy.
K: The only attempt by PK Chris Boswell, a 19 yarder with the Steelers down by 20 at the begining of the third quarter, was good. HC Mike Tomlin took a lot of post game grief for kicking a filed goal instead of going for it on fourth down given the situation. Waiting to see more production from Boswell before considering using him in a fantasy lineup would be the most prudent course.
ST/DEF: The defense was uncompetative. ILB Devin Bush ended up leading the team in tackles despite not starting. OLB TJ Wat suffered a hip injury and CB Joe Haden a strained AC joint in his shoulder. Both are questionable. Missing either would be bad. The Steelers defense is not a very good fantasy option against anybody except maybe the Dolphins at the juncture.
What a terrible start to the season with a last play loss in front of a national audience!
Fantasy-wise QB Deshaun Watson was golden but needed to be gold plus for a Texans win. That OL is starting to play better, if the left side of the OL jells it will be the tell-tale sign that the O couldlight it up. The coaches muststop stepping on their hooters with super conservative play when the game is on the line.
The combination of RB Duke Johnson and RB Carlos Hyde looks promising. I don’t think either will be the goal line back with Watson’s ability to run it in.
Word is that WR Keke Coutee is healthy enough to join the party this week. With proven receivers WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Will Fuller and WR Kenny Stills around the passing game should become proficient. We’ll see.
I look for TE Jordin Akins to start making big plays this week. Pick him up in your league if you can.
Looked to me as though the D really missed DE Jadeveon Clowney. Expect the D to continue giving up points forcing the O to stay aggressive. That plus they really need another cover corner; rookie CB Lonnie Johnson will be forced into the line-up this week.Same is true for CB Keion Crossen. Both guys are learning this D and will have to develop on the job.
Pretty dull special teams play last week. Mostly fair catches and kicks through the endzone. No returns.
Start your offensive fantasy Texans this week. Watson and Hopkins always seem like a sure thing.
With $31,527,531 in cap space available look for the Texans to look for some opportunities to selectively add veterans before the trade deadline.
Hey there Colts’ fans – here are my thoughts as the 0-1 Colts travel to Nashville to challenge their AFC South rival Tennessee Titans:
Injuries: The big loss from last week was the broken clavicle of offseason free agent signee WR Devin Funchess. By going on IR, this marks him out until at least week 10 if he returns at all. I do expect WR Deon Cain to step in as the starter because he is a more similar style of receiver to Funchess and is the current backup at that spot, and the other backup receivers all have a larger role on special teams that would be compromised if they played starter snaps in the base offense. Cain is more athletic than Funchess although clearly not as experienced so the spectacular plays might now come that were lacking from anyone not named Hilton on the outside. Leading 2018 sacker DE Jabaal Sheard is “making good progress” but as of Wednesday is still being held out of practice. I would be surprised to see him anytime soon and certainly not this Sunday. DE KemokoTuray and RB Jonathan Williams were also held out of practice thus far in week 2 preparation and both are likely to be victims to the numbers game for game day inactivations due to limited practice time this week and a relatively healthy lineup otherwise.
QB: Another tough defense awaits QB Jacoby Brissett this week, likely limiting his fantasy upside yet again. While not quite as talented as the Chargers on that side of the ball, they do show a lot more variety and surprise, so this week will be more of a mental test of his abilities than a physical one. Luck had a fair amount of success against this team last year running this Reich offense, whereas Brissett struggled twice in 2017 with a different game plan and supporting cast. History doesn’t tell us much, but I would guess that the games last year are more indicative and that Brissett will be just fine and perhaps a bit more volume in the air this week. I don’t think he is much more than a mid-range #2 however, so odds are that you have a better starter available….but he won’t hurt you this week either with a slightly better stat line than week 1.
RB: I have to believe that RB Marlon Mack will come back down to earth this week after a career-high and NFL-best 174 rushing yards last week. Of course, the Titans are just a much better run defense, but I also believe that the relative weakness of their pass defense will give a reduced volume to Mack this time round. It is probably still okay to count on 100 total yards with a decent chance at a score based on touch share, but I believe his upside is capped this week despite this high floor. That being said, he was at least a mid-range #3 2 in each game last year versus Tennessee. With the likelihood of an enhanced screen game this week, RB Nyheim Hines might be a decent flex or #3 in larger PPR leagues and even Mack might pick up a couple of PPR value points this week also.
WR: The secondary receivers often have good games against this defense, and last year the Colts definitely used that #2 guy a lot as well as the tight ends and backs. While WR TY Hilton did not look good to the naked eye last week, he did put up great numbers and also did so in Nashville last season – and in just about every game with Andrew Luck under center. However he was totally taken out of play in 2017 and in 3 of his last 4 games against Vrabel’s game plan. With Funchess out, I can see them doubling down on Hilton and leaving Deon Cain some chances to shine. Just a hunch that he has a better final stat line than Hilton and a better chance of a score this week. I wouldn’t hesitate to call Hilton any worse than a low-end #2 though and surely will be in your lineup anyway, but watch Cain as having a potential coming-out game. No one else is likely worth thinking about at receiver, although the nature of this defense does lead to the ball being spread around a lot and giving a lot of people touches.
TE: I like the chances for TE Eric Ebron and TE Jack Doyle to bounce back strong from last week’s egg-sucking fantasy performance. This is a much of a hunch as anything, but I like Ebron to get a scoring chance in the red zone, although I still think Doyle is the better bet for PPR leagues. I can’t recommend either as a sure fire starter this week, but if you planned on using them in last week’s dud then I think you likely will be riding with them again this week and should get better production. Again, the tight end is a valuable weapon against this defense especially for mismatch-types like Ebron near the goal line.
K: Much was made of the struggles of PK Adam Vinatieri last week. I truly believe that the vet will get a strong chance at a bounceback week on Sunday. The Titans-Colts games have traditionally afforded multiple FGAs for each side’s kicker, so I think Vinatieri will acquit himself nicely for those fantasy owners brave enough or desperate enough to stick with him again this week.
D: This Titans team has struggled mightily against the Colts defense, only scoring 10 points in each game last season. And even in a blowout win last week against the Browns, the offense looked like it could be vulnerable to some pressure allowing 4 sacks despite conservative playcalling and limited dropbacks. The absence of starting left tackle Taylor Lewan will also greatly help the D-line generate some pressure on Mariota. The Colts D is at least an average fantasy play this week based on recent history and style of play by each team.
Overall: Hard to size this one up. The Colts were 11-0 under Luck against Tennessee, but 0-2 under Brissett. The Titans looked unbeatable on the road against the trendy pick to excel, the Browns….and the balanced Colts lost to a team that was missing some key guys and had not played well in their crackerbox home stadium. Nothing went according to script for either team in the openers, and nothing looks to have precedent historically despite being divisional rivals. I will predict a down-the-middle tight game featuring a lot of FGs and field positioning with the win going to which unit wears down the other first – the Colts’ O-line versus the Titans front seven. Despite being on the road, I will give the slight edge to the Colts on overall talent and credit them for almost winning a tough road game had Vinatieri simply been almost-Vinatieri last week. Let’s say Colts 26-23 in a game every bit as close as the final score indicates.
That is all for this week from the Crossroads of America. Good luck with either rebounding from a week one loss, or extending your still-unbeaten fantasy season!
The Broncos have a strong roster at the top, but they need to stay mostly healthy-especially their offensive line where they barely have seven NFL-caliber linemen, their depleted inside linebacker corp. and their thin special teams. Denver has $11,188,874 in remaining salary cap space. (John) Elway may sit on most of the remaining cap space and let it roll over into the 2020 season. QB Joe Flacco helped create the extra cap space by converting $17million of his 2019 salary into to a signing bonus and adding two voidable years to his contract. Flacco was happy to agree to the restructure because it gave him more money up front and the Broncos were glad to get it done because it gave them more salary cap space. The Broncos will not have season-long captains. The Broncos’ captains for Monday’s season opener: QB Joe Flacco, OLB Von Miller and K Brandon McManus.
Denver 16 Oakland 24
Denver needed to be a team with a collective effort to win on offense. What it got was the same thing that has been the problem for Denver the last two seasons: offensive line troubles, inability to cover a tight end, and penalties that killed drives. The first 30 minutes, Denver looked like their last two seasons were continuing, into another very long season. The Raiders drove down the field on their first drive and scored a touchdown. Right afterwards, Denver’s offense went three and out, and the Broncos defense seemed to hurt more than help. WR Courtland Sutton made some solid plays, but the Broncos couldn’t do anything with them. The defense got gassed because the offense didn’t make enough plays. Denver was shut out 14-0 in the first half. The Raiders played with fire from the opening kick off; the stadium rocked; and the Raiders fans went crazy. The Broncos looked like a team that lost 10 games in 2018 and without much of an improvement. The second half started much better for the Broncos, who went on four scoring drives in their five possessions, but with only one touchdown. The Raiders took advantage of their red zone chances, and beat the Broncos 24-16. QB Joe Flacco did a lot of good things in the game: working the middle of the field; hitting his shots deep downfield; putting the ball where it needed to be; no turnover throws; and, not many bad decisions. The offense feels like it’s still in the early stages of development as a result of barely playing at all in the preseason. The Broncos are not all on the same page offensively. The defense gave up too many big plays, didn’t force any turnovers, and got no pressure on the quarterback. The special teams were bad. OLBs Von Miller and Bradly Chubb were nowhere to be found. Those two not providing any sort of pass rush was a big reason the Broncos lost this game. WR Courtland Sutton, showed tremendous growth in his game from last year. Sutton finished with seven receptions for 120 yards, his first NFL game with over 100 receiving yards. ROT Ja’Wuan James suffered a knee injury ("several weeks")
and was replaced by Elijah Wilkinson. WR Tim Patrick suffered a broken hand (recovery 6-8 weeks). The players took responsibility for a bad loss-which is new! As a result, the Broncos sounded like a team that stunk up the joint, but believes in the Fangio program and the direction they’re headed. Flacco 21/31-268-1-0; Freeman 10-56-0; Lindsay 11-43-0; Sutton 7/8-120-0; Sanders 5/7-86-1.
Chicago @ Denver
The Vic Fangio era got off to a rocky start. Fangio made multiple questionable coaching decisions and his defense was horrible. The Joe Flacco era also got off to a rocky start with him struggling for most of the night. If anyone knows how to attack the Bears defense, it's Fangio. The Broncos have been unbeatable at home in September since Sept. 30, 2012 (13-0). The Bears have been horrible in September road games (1-6). Fangio said small changes can bring the Broncos far more success than they found in Oakland. Defensively, they need to make some plays and make some stops no matter what the yardage is. Rookie WR Juwann Winfree will make his debut. Both teams are last in their respective divisions and win less. Denver’s running game with Lindsay and Freeman should be the difference in the game, provided the Denver defense shows up and the offensive line keeps Flacco upright. LOT Garett Bolles will look to duplicate his solid performance (no sacks/penalties) against Khalil Mack. Rookie G Dalton Risner had a stellar Week 1, but has a tougher Week 2. WR Courtland Sutton will be a matchup nightmare for Chicago with his size and physicality.
Chicago is favored by 2.5 points on the road at Mile High. Chicago 21 Denver 23.
FANTASY OUTLOOK QB Joe Flacco may be worth 11-13 points RB Phillip Lindsay may be worth 8-10 points RB Royce Freeman may be worth 5-7 points RB Devontae Booker may be worth 1-3 points WR Emmanuel Sanders may be worth 5-7 points WR Courtland Sutton may be worth 4-6 points WR DaeSean Hamilton may be worth 2-5 points WR Juwann Winfree may be worth 1-3 points TE Noah Fant may be worth 3-4 points TE Jeff Hueruman may be worth 2-3 points PK Brandon McManus may be worth 5-9 points
D/ST may be worth 6-7 points
Good luck this week!
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Week #1 Chiefs Outlook:
The longtime AFL rivalry continues in this always entertaining battle of AFC West foes… QB Mahomes has become a true sensation and it comes well-earned… even on a gimpy ankle Mahomes dismantled a supposedly tough JAX defense in wk1, tossing 378 yds (313 in the first half) and 3 TDs… he did so mostly without the playmaking chops of WR Hill who injured his shoulder and left the game… Hill is out 4-6 weeks… as I anticipated pre-game, WR Watkins would be in for a big day and the KC wideout did not disappoint… Watkins had his best game as a pro, 198 yds and 3 TDs on 11 tgts… the gifted receiver could have easily finished with 250 yds had the Chiefs not taken the foot off the gas… the Chiefs O-line did not surrender a sack in wk1… in 2 starts vs OAK last season Mahomes led the Chiefs to 35 and 40 points scored; both wins… Mahomes connected for 6 TDs and 1 INT and closed with 281 and 295 yds passing, 9.3 YPA… Mahomes avg’d 11.4 YPA in the opener and OAK gave up 8.6 YPA last week to a conservative throwing DEN QB Flacco… bet the house Watkins will be heavily involved in wk2… in 2 career games vs OAK (w/BUF) Watkins tallied up 6-113-1 TD… that looks about right for this game vs OAK… the coach-speak is Hill’s void will be filled with a combination of rookie speedster Hardman and veteran do-it-all DAT (D. Thomas)… coach-speak is often great mis-information… WR Robinson, a little used but solid receiver, garnered pre-season and camp praise from Mahomes regarding his ability to shake open and be in the right place every play… like Watkins last week, I can smell the smoke and just hunch that Robinson is set up for a breakout day of his own… I 3 career games vs OAK Robinson hauled in 7-196-1 TD, a ripping 28.0 YPR… 5-6 receptions, 90+ yds and a TD for D-Rob… Hardman is not a great outside receiver nor is he a sturdy on his pins as Hill is… Thomas is utility at most…
Robinson draws CB Worley man-up, a good advantage for D-Rob… Watkins most likely gets CB/S Joyner, another plus for the Chiefs… Hardman sets up against CB Conley if he plays; if not 2nd-round rookie Mullen likely gets the assignment… wk1 OAK got burned for 15.1 YPR by DEN wideouts, including a TD by Sanders… though OAK only let up 2 catches in wk1 to DEN TEs, those 2 receptions traveled 14.5 YPR… TE Kelce wrecks most defenses and has topped 60 yds 4 of his last 5 games vs OAK, including 2 over 100-yds… Coach Reid deploys a true RBBC, mostly a rotation of McCoy and Dm. Williams… in 2 games vs OAK last season Dm. Williams rushed for a combined 89 yds (5.6 YPC) and a TD… McCoy made the most of his 10 carries in wk1, busting it for 8.1 YPC… Dm. Williams was the pass-down back despite McCoy’s obvious skill-set in that department… McCoy is not playbook savvy yet in KC, that’s why… DEN RBs combined for 4.7 YPC on 21 carries in wk1 vs OAK… KC’s RBBC turned in exactly 4.7 YPC in their 2019 opener… Williams once again is the go-to out of the backfield on pass down, capturing 4 for 40 yds… McCoy should see a few more carries here and bang out another 80-ish yds on the ground… WR D. Robinson… just sayin’!
Mastermind Moment (by Michael Nazarek): Chiefs RB Damien Williams is sharing the backfild with RB LeSean McCoy. Until McCoy really learns the system, Williams is a solid top 25 fantasy RB play, while McCoy deserves flex consideration. WR Sammy Watkins is an auto-start while healthy and with WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder) out. Sit the other Chiefs wideouts until someone steps up and produces.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
In week 1 action, the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Indianapolis Colts 30-24 in overtime. While there are some good potential fantasy starts this week, there were also several injuries of note and a number of players who should be avoided. This report will be a review of last week’s win over the Colts as well as a preview of the upcoming Chargers at Lions game.
QB: Chargers QB Philip Rivers had a very good day, going 25/34 for 333 passing yards, 3 TDs and an INT. Against the Lions, consider Rivers a QB1 with top 10 potential.
RB: Melvin who? While RB Melvin Gordons remains a contract holdout, his back up and now starter, RB Austin Ekeler, carried 12 times for 58 yards and a TD. Ekeler had 6 receptions for 96 yards and 2 TDs as well. His backup, RB Justin Jackson, carried 6 times for 57 yards and had 1 catch for 4 yards, but did not score. It certainly appears that Ekeler is more than capable, so consider him a lower end fantasy RB1. Jackson is worth a spot on your bench, but I’d be cautious about starting him until his numbers improve. Consider him a FLEX for those in larger leagues. He will be upgraded later if he produces. But I’m in a “show me” mode for now.
WR: Last week, WR Mike Williams caught only 2 passes for 28 yards, but may not play this week due to injury. Certainly, he could produce if he plays, but the injury makes him a risky start, as he might not go and the injury could bother him if he does play. WR Keenan Allen caught 8 for 123 yards and a TD. This week, Allen, one of Rivers few healthy targets, is a WR1. No other Chargers receiver did anything worthy of discussion and none of them warrant serious fantasy consideration due to inconsistency and lack of opportunity.
TE: Bad news! TE Hunter Henry will miss at least 4-6 weeks due to injury. There are no Chargers tight ends worthy of consideration at this time, even though someone or other will score sooner or later.
PK: Speaking of injuries, PK Michael Badgley, who missed last week (groin), may or may not play this week. While Badgley is a solid kicker, recommend you find someone elsewhere who is not hurt.
DEF: The Chargers defense is pretty banged up and lacking in depth due to multiple injuries. Consider them a middle-of-the-pack option for week 2. You could do worse, but you can probably do better.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants lost their road opener in Dallas last Sunday to the Cowboys 35-17. Unfortunately, QB Dak Prescott sliced up the Giants secondary for over 400 yards primarily due to a lack of a pass rush. The Giants return home to play their opener against the Buffalo Bills who make their second visit to MetLife in two weeks.
The reviews/previews by area are below:
QB Eli Manning did a good job as he was forced to play catch up against a stout defense. He completed 30 of 44 passes for 306 yards, 1 TD’s, 0interceptions and a passer rating of 95.5. He was sacked once. The retooled offensive line did a nice job keeping him upright.
Eli is facing a Bills pass defense that was ranked 1st in the league last year. They allowed 22 TD passes and an opposing passer rating of 82.6. They also had 36 sacks and 16 interceptions. Given this tough matchup, Eli should be on your fantasy bench this week as I expect 200 yards and a TD.
RB Saquon Barkley had a good game with 11 carries for 120 yards which included along run of 59 yards where he topped out at 21.7 MPH! He also had 4 catches for 19 yards. RB Wayne Gallman had 2 carries for 17 yards and 3 receptions for 24 yards.
Saquon needs 20-25 touches a game. Are you listening Coach Shurmur? Expect 140 combined yards and a TD making him a high end RB1 against last year’s 16th ranked rush defense which allowed 115 yards per game and 17 TD’s. RB Wayne Gallman is fantasy fodder.
WR Sterling Shepardhad 6 grabs for 42 yards as he was targeted 7 times. WR Cody Latimer chipped in with 3 grabs for 72 yards with 8 targets. Reliable WR Bennie Fowler had 5 receptions for 40 yards with 5 targets.
Shepard is out with a concussion. Neither Latimer or Fowler are flex worthy as it’s unknown what the target share will be. WR Golden Tate continues to sit out his 4-game suspension.
TE Evan Engram had 11 catches for 116 yards and a short TD catch. He was targeted 14 times.
Evan will continue to benefit greatly from the absence of OBJ as well as Shepard’s this week. He should have a big week with 8 catches for 90 yards and a TD making him a top 3 tight end this week.
Zero turnovers and no sacks is putrid defensive production
Until this group shows something, they should be on the waiver wire.
PK Aldrick Rosas is a top 8 Pro Bowl kicker.
That’s all for now and good luck in Week 2!
Tony de Armas
Week 1 Recap/Analysis: Packers at Bears (TNF)
In their 100th year of existence, the Bears gave an effort on Thursday night that mirrored many of those 100 years. Great defense, horrible offense. The result: Cheeseheads 10, Bears 3. Bears head coach Matt Nagy was completely outcoached by a rookie making his debut. The penalties, missed assignments and overall sloppiness had to make you wonder if the starters (particularly on offense) could've used some snaps in the preseason.
In addition to not having his team ready to play, Nagy's offensive playcalling was not only bad but ridiculously lopsided (50 pass plays to 15 run plays) in a game where the Bears never trailed by more than a TD. Maybe he just gets bored with running the ball at times the way his mentor Andy Reid does. I get that it's sometimes hard to find motivation to keep running the ball when you're not breaking any big runs, but having QB Mitch Trubisky drop back and throw the ball 40+ times is not a formula for success. Has Nagy's razzle dazzle offense already been figured out by the league the way Gary Crowton's and Marc Trestman's were? If the answer is yes, can Nagy now adjust? Perhaps the answer is simply that the offense works just fine if you have the right quarterback running it (i.e. Patrick Mahomes).
Throughout the offseason, we kept hearing about how Trubisky had a much better grasp of Nagy's offense and could execute it quicker and more efficiently. Well, it sure looked like false advertising in this game. He looked lost for much of the contest, completing just 26 of 45 attempts for 228 yards and one INT and running three times for 11 yards. Yes, he was under pressure for many of those throws (five sacks), the Packers' defense is improved, and the lack of run/pass balance did not help matters. But his training camp troubles seemed to follow him into the season opener, namely too many missed throws and too many bad decisions (he had at least one or two other throws that should've been picked off and kept the ball when he should've handed off on a third-and-one RPO that failed).
One criticism that has been pointed out by many from the beginning is that Trubisky tends to lock onto his first read and gets into trouble if he has to go further through his progressions. On his interception in the end zone late in the game, he locked onto WR Allen Robinson to the point where former Bears safety Adrian Amos knew where the ball was going and was able to snag it. Trubisky did make a few good throws (mainly to Robinson), but his performance in this game was a big step backwards for him. I know that one game does not a season make, and we've seen him be better than this, so we know that he's capable of better. But if Trubisky does not show improvement (and quickly), more people around the league are going to follow the lead of Tramon Williams and start throwing shade at him.
This game had to be a big disappointment for RB David Montgomery's fantasy owners, as he had only five carries for 18 yards and one catch for 27 yards. He showed nice tackle breaking ability on one run for a first down and nice hands on his reception but simply did not get enough touches. RB Mike Davis had five carries for 19 yards and six catches for 17 yards. RB Tarik Cohen, who lined up mostly in the slot (40 of his 51 snaps), had no carries but caught eight passes for 49 yards. Part of the reason why he lined up in the slot so much might've been due to the absence of TE Trey Burton. The first play of the game could've been a big gain for Cohen, but he fumbled the pitch.
I still believe that Montgomery will eventually become the lead back, but Nagy said that he's still learning the intricacies of the offense like pass protection and running routes. "There's going to be a little bit of a wait here, a balance as we figure out what's best and how to use him, along with Mike and Tarik," Nagy told the Chicago Tribune. In the meantime, all three of the Bears' backs are basically no more than flex candidates in PPR leagues until we get a clearer picture of how (and how much) each back will be used.
Robinson made seven grabs (on 13 targets) for 102 yards and seemed to be the only receiver with a pulse for most of the night. We know that he's fully healthy now, and we know that he's the main receiver that Trubisky will look for when he's in trouble. The fact that Robinson was able to go over the century mark in a game where the Bears hardly did a thing on offense bodes well for his numbers this season. WR Taylor Gabriel had two catches (on five targets) for 24 yards. WR Cordarrelle Patterson had one grab (on three targets) for three yards.
WR Javon Wims was targeted twice and WR Anthony Miller once, but neither recorded a catch. Surprisingly, Wims actually had more snaps than Miller (21-16). Whether that's a sign of things to come or if the Bears were just easing Miller back from his ankle sprain, I'm not sure, but it's something to monitor. If the Bears are going to make a deep playoff run (as farfetched as that may seem after Week 1), I think at least one of the team's receivers other than Robinson needs to take a big step forward. Going into this season, I thought Miller was the most likely candidate, but I wouldn't put it past Wims to be that guy as a big-bodied, sure-handed target for Trubisky.
With Burton out, TE Adam Shaheen had one catch (on two targets) for six yards. Not having Burton as a safety valve in the middle of the field definitely hurt Trubisky and the offense.
At least one side of the ball came to play. The concerns about this defense regressing can mostly be tabled for now, as it racked up five sacks and held the Packers to ten points. One concern (2018's takeaway rate being unsustainable) did come into play, as the Bears did not force any turnovers. OLB Leonard Floyd looked great with two sacks (a third was nullified by penalty). ILB Roquan Smith looks ready for a monster season. But the Bears decided to sneak S Deon Bush on the field for one series, and Aaron Rodgers burned him twice on the two biggest plays of the game (the bomb and the TD).
Kicker PK Eddy Pineiro made his lone field goal attempt (from 38 yards) but kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. Late in the third quarter, Nagy had a chance to send Pineiro out to try a 51-yarder but declined, instead deciding to go for it on fourth-and-ten (which of course they did not convert). Based on how badly the offense was struggling, what made Nagy think that they could actually convert that fourth down?
After the game, Nagy seemed to put the decision on the shoulders of special teams coach Chris Tabor, saying that Tabor thought 51 yards was out of Pineiro's range toward the south end zone despite relatively little wind. Pineiro himself said afterward he thought he could've hit from 55-58 yards. The offseason kicker drama still seems to be stuck in Nagy's head. If you don't trust the kicker, then get another one. But if Pineiro is your guy, then let him try to do his job.
Week 2: Bears at Broncos
Coming off their offensive horror show on opening night, the Bears travel to Denver to face an old friend. An old friend who knows the Bears' offense and personnel very well. Quite possibly the last guy the Bears wanted to see right now, former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. If the Bears aren't careful here, they could be staring 0-2 right in the face.
The Broncos might not have recorded a sack in their opener, but they still have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and they'll be playing at home, where they've been nearly unbeatable in early-season games in the past 20 years. Stay far away from Trubisky here.
Nagy has heard repeatedly over the past few days about how he didn't run the ball enough in Week 1, so I expect more touches for Montgomery and Davis this Sunday. That said, until the offense wakes up, I have all three Bears backs as flex plays at best (in this order for PPR leagues: Montgomery, Cohen, Davis).
Start Robinson. Bench all other Bears receivers until further notice.
Burton (groin) was limited in practice on Wednesday. If he starts, he'd be an injury risk, and you probably have better options, but he should be good for a few grabs if you need someone to plug in at tight end.
Against a fairly immobile quarterback in Joe Flacco, this unit could have a big day. Definite start.
Perhaps the Bears will trust Pineiro more from long range in the thin air of Denver, but you really should have better kicking options.
Good luck this week!
Lions report, week 2 preview
Chargers at Lions
QB: Well, just when we spent the offseason talking about the diminished fantasy value of QB Matthew Stafford, he comes out in week 1 and blows up for 385 yards and 3 TD passes. What to make of that? Well, for one thing, it was an OT game, so while he had good numbers at the end of regulation, he got some added stats in that extra period. And I did point out last week that Arizona had some weakness in their secondary and I suggested Stafford as a good play in daily games with the good matchup. Any questions about his health were answered as he showed good mobility in the pocket, and even gained 10 yards when he kept the ball on a zone read play. He seemed to have good command of the new offense as well, although some communication issues late led to a time out being called just as the ball was snapped on what would have been a game clinching play. The protection problems could continue to be a concern as there were a bunch of plays where there were unblocked rushers. Hopefully that offensive line chemistry improves quickly as the Chargers can attack off the edge with Bosa and Ingram. Specifically, LT Taylor Decker had an awful game and that can’t continue. I think Stafford sort of regresses back to the mean this week and puts up average numbers against the Chargers. I don’t think the coaches want him throwing 45 passes again this week.
RB: A bit of a disappointing week 1 for RB Kerryon Johnson with 16-49 rushing and 2-13 receiving. I wouldn’t overreact. He’ll be fine, and I look at this as a good matchup after Marlon Mack and the Colts ran wild against the Chargers last week. I see the Lions doing a better job of getting into their base offense and establishing the run this week in the home opener where they should be fired up, against a west coast team in an early kickoff. The playing time and touches were about what we expected as RB CJ Anderson had 11 carries for 35 yards. Late waiver claim RB JD McKissic appears to have already established himself in a bit of a receiving back role. RB Ty Johnson barely played.
WR/TE: No doubt there was some hot waiver wire action this week with TE TJ Hockenson. A very impressive opener for the rookie with 6-131 and a TD. This set a record for most yards by a rookie tight end in their debut game. I was interested in seeing the snap counts for Hockenson and TE Jesse James and courtesy of MLive, it was 64 for Hock and 51 for James. James only had 1 catch on 1 target while Hockenson had 9 targets. I was skeptical of Hockenson because rookie tight ends struggle historically, but this game shows his upside. WR Danny Amendola had a big game as well, with 7 catches (13 targets) for 104 yards and a TD. This didn’t leave much for WR Kenny Golladay and WR Marvin Jones. Golladay scored a TD and had 4 grabs (9 targets) for 42 yards, with Jones catching all 4 of his targets for 56 yards. This was just one week of course. I still think Golladay has the most value in season long leagues, and Jones is capable of the occasional big game. Amendola to me still looks like the chain mover and I don’t think he can sustain a 15 yards per catch average.
K/DST: PK Matt Prater just keeps rolling along with these long kicks; he nailed a 55 yarder on Sunday and is worthy of being in lineups. The Lions defense looked good for 3 quarters, but it seemed like a combination of fatigue and conservative play created an ugly collapse late.The Chargers seem to be getting hit hard already with injuries to Hunter Henry and Mike Williams, on top of the Melvin Gordon holdout and Russell Okung is also missing. I wouldn’t want to use the Lions defense this week, but maybe they will surprise us. LB Jarrad Davis could return this week if you need him in an IDP league.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Week 1 Review: If week one is any measure the Packer defense is great and the offense needs some work. It is a good thing week one is usually not a predictor of any team’s season. Maybe it was just a case of two great defenses playing in the same game. For the record, the Packers won 10-3. Matt LaFleur became the first Packer head coach since Dan Devine to defeat the Bears in the first time they met. But none of that will soothe your fantasy feelings. QB Aaron Rodgers had 18 completions on 30 attempts for 203 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions for a 60.0% completion percentage and a 91.4 rating. He also had 8 yards rushing to bring his total yardage to 211 yards. At this rate his season will consist of 3376 yards (3248 passing plus 128 rushing) and 16 touchdowns. Not very Rodgers like. RB Aaron Jones had 13 carries for 39 yards and 0 touchdowns, and 1 reception for 16 yards. RB Jamaal Williams had 5 carries for 0 yards, and 2 receptions for 32 yards. The tight ends got some business. TE Jimmy Graham was targeted 6 times for 3 receptions, 30 yards, and 1 touchdown. TE Mercedes Lewis was targeted 3 times for 2 receptions, 14 yards, and 0 touchdowns. TE Robert Tonyan was targeted 1 time for 1 reception, 28 yards, and 0 touchdowns. The Packers used 3 different players diluting the fantasy tight end results. WR Davante Adams was targeted 8 times for 4 receptions, 36 yards, and 0 touchdowns. WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling was targeted 6 times for 4 receptions, 52 yards, and 0 touchdowns. WR Trevor Davis was targeted 1 time for 1 reception, 28 yards, and 0 touchdowns. WR Geronimo Allison was not targeted although he played. Let’s just say both starting offensive lines had trouble with the other team’s defensive front. The defense had 55 total tackles, 5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 11 pressures, 1 interception, 9 passes defended, 0 forced fumbles, and zero fumbles recovered. They also allowed 274 yards – 228 passing and 46 rushing. That passing yardage was on 45 attempts – a smidge over 5 yards per attempt. The defense was smothering, just lacked a few splash plays. The heroes were the free agents Green Bay signed, S Adrian Amos, LB Za’Darius Smith, and LB Preston Smith. CB Kevin King and CB Jaire Alexander were good too. K Mason Crosby had 1 field goal (from 39 yards out) and 1 extra point for 4 face value points. Fantasy wise and professionally the Packers have some things to work out.
Week 2 Preview: The Packers will play the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday at noon in their home opener. The Packers have won their home opener 12 of the last 13 years. The Vikings also have a very good defense – last week they forced 3 punts, 4 turnovers, and allowed 2 touchdowns – which came late in the game. Offensively the Vikings gained 172 yards on the ground and only 98 yards passing. So they have a very good rushing game which is what the Packers defended well last week. I propose the Vikings will try doing the same thing next week. Overall it looks to be a fairly even game defensively, but it seems to favors the Vikings offensively. Look for the Packers to correct their offensive short comings. But we don’t know when it will happen or how it will look yet. Therefore my top recommendation is the Packer defense. Honestly, I never thought I would be saying that. My secondary recommendations are; QB Aaron Rodgers, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Davante Adams, RB Aaron Jones, and/or K Mason Crosby. You all deserve a “I Survived NFL Week One” T-shirt. Wear it proudly and I will return to review the Vikings game and preview the Bronco game.
Well, it wasn’t a victory, but it wasn’t a loss. The Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions played two different games last Sunday. The final score shows 27-27 but for the first 3 quarters, the Detroit Lions owned the game and the Air Raid Offense was more like a Ground Raid Offensive. The Cardinals did not have a rhythm until they went to a hurry up offense and started moving the ball. Last week I recommended playing 3 players and benching 1.
RB David Johnson I recommend starting RB David Johnson and he came through with 18 carries for 82 yards and 6 catches for 55 yards and 1 TD. Nice outing!
WR Christian Kirk I recommended starting WR Christian Kirk and he came in with 4 catches and 32 yards. Not such a great day. I think these stats will improve.
WR Larry Fitzgerald. I recommended starting WR Larry Fitzgerald and he came through with 8 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD. Applause for the future first ballot HoF’er.
QB Kyler Murray. I recommended NOT to start him in his first game but his stats proved me wrong. 29 of 54 for 308 yards and 2 TD and 1 TD. Those are good stats for a first game, I was wrong!
This week, the 0-0-1 Arizona Cardinals travel all the way East to take on the high flying Baltimore Ravens! Last week the Ravens dismantled the Miami Dolphins 59-10. So the challenge is to fly to the east coast and take on one of the best teams in the league while the Cardinals continue to try to get their Air Raid Offense up and running.
Recommended Starters: QB Kyler Murray. Okay, I was wrong last week and apparently, you will need to score a ton of points to beat Baltimore this year. QB Kyler Murray will need to be sharp and keep up with QB Lamar Jackson. Should be a great battle to watch. Start: QB Kyler Murray and QB Lamar Jackson RB David Johnson is a must start this week. Johnson will be leaned on to make first downs and get into the end zone. RB David Johnson is a must start.
WR: WR Larry Fitzgerald is a must start this week as well. WR Christian Kirk needs a big game if the Cardinals are to stay in this game. WR Michael Crabtree needs to play this week and cause his former team some headaches with his height. WR Andy Isabella needs to stretch the defense and allow QB Kyler Murray to work underneath as well. Recommendation: Must Start: WR Larry Fitzgerald Should Start Flex: WR Christian Kirk. Could Start if you need a flex player: WR Michael Crabtree.
TE: No… I have not seen anything from this group at all.
K: K Zane Gonzalez is a stud. It may be smart to start him this week!
Outlook: The Cardinals have always had issues traveling to the East Coast. Let’s hope this is in the past and the Cardinals are competitive in this game. I look for Baltimore to be too tough to handle at home and an early game with the Ravens winning 38-28. The Cardinals should keep the Ravens on their toes and challenge them much more than the Dolphins could.
I guess that overthinking was the better plan last week. QB Andy Dalton owns the Seahawks and continued that last week despite his coaching change. But Seattle managed to parlay their 9ish point favorite to scrape out a 1 point victory. Don’t count on that next week in Pittsburgh.
The offensive line that was expected to appear was a no show. I have no clue why they were so bad, but boy they were. Luckily the Bengals were not as talented as Pittsburgh on defense. Unluckily … Pittsburgh is next and I never want Seattle to lose to them ever again. QB Russell Wilson did still manage to get almost as many fantasy points last week as Dalton, despite significantly less yards. Wilson will continue to find a way and he remains a top ten starter despite having to run for his life.
I hold to my position that RB CJ Prosise has shown that he could have rocked the ball last week, but he had no touches. Good grief. Are we that team again? RB Chris Carson had 46 yards and a TD for a reasonable fantasy showing. Seattle needs to find a way to run in order to win in Pittsburgh, so start Carson.
As expected WR Tyler Lockett struggled with the double team but managed to score anyway. Pittsburgh does not have a great secondary, so the numbers for the receivers should be pretty similar. WR DK Metcalf lead all receivers and showed no reason to expect that will change. Both Metcalf and Lockett are WR2 - WR3 type starters.
There may be an injury with TE Will Dissly though Coach Carroll says all is well. I still suspect that he can break out, but he is is a highly risky play. His use as a pass blocker may be more important to the team doing well.
Ho hum, PK Jason Myers only got PAT shots. That is not great for fantasy points. Much better chance to get FGs this week, but still a middle of the run fantasy producer.
Despite Seattle will starting a massively talented group of linebackers and linemen, the number of snaps certain players played was confusing. LB Bobby Wagner lead that group in fantasy production so he remains my IDP pick. But how about the team D? I think Big Ben is going to roast this secondary, but despite the yards given up the defense should be ok. So if you want a D that is ok, you can start them.
Seattle - 21
Pittsburgh - 34
LOS ANGELES RAMS
GREAT ROAD WIN! Los Angeles played a tough Carolina Panthers team in Carolina and pulled out a 30-27 victory. It was not a perfect performance as the passing game was limited and the special teams had surprising mishaps; however, the defense came up with timely turnovers and the running game carried the Rams to victory. The Rams return home this week for a battle with the New Orleans Saints and a rematch of the heated 2018 NFC Championship game. The Saints had a last second win against the Texans on Monday Night Football and will hopefully have a letdown in Los Angeles. Let’s look at the numbers for Rams players and their potential against the Saints.
QB: QB Jared Goff (23-39 for 186 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception) was a little rusty in his first game action of the year but he did enough to lead his team to victory. McVay said Carolina’s defense was schemed to prevent long completions and that is why Jared was throwing short most of the game. Look for Jared and the Ram offense to open it up more against the Saints as this game could turn into a shootout at home. I think Jared throws for 275+ yards and at least 2 touchdowns this week making him a solid QB1. Hopefully he does not turn the ball over.
RB: RB Todd Gurley (14-97 rushing and 1-4 receiving) had a slow first half but got going in the second half and was a beast in the fourth quarter when Los Angeles was trying to control the clock. RB Malcom Brown (11-53 rushing with 2 touchdowns) had a tremendous game substituting for Gurley and set a career high for touchdowns. Rookie RB Darrell Henderson (1-0 rushing) barely played and does not appear to be involved with the offensive scheme yet. Todd had a poor game in the NFC Championship at New Orleans but he should bounce back at home. Brown received the goal line carries in week one; however, Gurley should score at least 1 touchdown this week while gaining around 100 yards from scrimmage. Todd should be considered a lower tier RB1.
WR: WR Bradin Cooks (2-39) was limited in week one while WR Cooper Kupp (7-46) and WR Robert Woods (8-70) led the way. It was very encouraging to see Kupp in action coming back from last season’s knee injury. Woods is a solid player who always seems to deliver when called upon. Cooks has had success against his former team and should rebound in week two. This receiving group is one of the best in the league and any one could break out. I think Cooks has the big game against the Saints and goes for 100+ yards with a touchdown. Kupp and/or Woods could also score while getting around 75 receiving yards. If you have any of these receivers you are playing them with confidence and looking for high end WR2 numbers with upside.
TE: TE Tyler Higbee (4-20 and 1 touchdown) got a nice contract extension last week and had earned it week one. TE Gerald Everett (1-7) was supposed to be the breakout candidate this season but was hardly targeted in Carolina. It was encouraging to see a tight end score a touchdown; however, Higbee and Everett are not consistent enough to use in your Fantasy lineup for now.
K: PK Greg Zuerlein (3-4 field goals (49, 56, and 27) and 3-3 extra points) had a big game that could have been even better but he missed a 41-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that could have put the game out of reach. Greg should be one of the top kickers in the league and is an unquestioned starter every week. In what could be a shoot-out at home, Greg could kick another 3 field goals and hopefully at least 3 extra points. Personally I would prefer four extra points and two field goals.
DEF: This unit had trouble with Panther star back McCaffrey but they created three turnovers and made enough stops for the win. LB Cory Littleton (8 solos, 6 assists, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery) played a phenomenal game and was the defensive star of the game. FS John Johnson (6 solos and 5 assists) was second in tackles followed by rookie SS Taylor Rapp (3 solos and 4 assists) who filled in nicely for SS Eric Weddle who left with and injury. Rapp also contributed a special teams tackle. All-Pro DL Aaron Donald (1 solo tackle) was the focus of the Panther’s protection so he was contained for most of the game; however, that allowed DE Dante Fowler (2 solos and 2 sacks) to take advantage of the situation. Drew Brees and the Saints are a tough matchup and the Rams will need to play better than they did in Week 1. Ram Littleton is a solid IDP for this week and I think Donald and Fowler get at least one sack each.
The Rams were not as sharp and usual offensively but still got the win, which is the sign of a good team. This week will be a big test in a rematch of last season’s Conference Championship game. The Saints are still salty about the non-pass interference call and I think that emotion will actually work against them. Look for the Ram offense to get on track and lead Los Angeles to a 34-24 victory. My prayers go out to my Brother and my buddy Bill as they deal with health and family issues. It is in times of struggle that we realize how precious life is and should appreciate every day and everybody close to us. Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019
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