Every week a few guys have a game that makes ya think. Whether for the good or the bad, these performances made you do a double-take. Here are five guys that made me look twice after the games went final.
Five Interesting Performances: Week 3
Kirk Cousins, QB Minnesota Vikings
Week 3 – 40/55, 296 YRD, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 RUSH, 2 YRD, 2 FUM
In Week 3 Cousins and the Vikings took on the lowly Buffalo Bills. A team that’s been laughed at by almost everyone. A team that was coming to Minnesota with a rookie QB, an injured starting RB and a multitude of other issues all around the team. The defense was as rough as the offense. Coming off two games where they allowed a combined 78 points to the Chargers and Ravens, this should have been a game that Cousins and the Vikings were able to get theirs.
But what went wrong? The Vikings came into the game as 17 1/2 point favorites and left with the largest upset in 23 years. The pre-game point spread would imply a positive game script and plenty of opportunities for Cousins to put up points. He is pretty consistent in his home/road splits as we see here…
To everyone but the Bills, the Vikings only managing six points was a shock. Starting your first two possessions with a fumble is a great way to get on that path (Also a third fumble he recovered himself). The O-line didn’t help matters as Cousins was under siege most of the night. Four sacks allowed doesn’t begin to tell the tale. He was often forced to check down (5.38 Y/A) with no time for routes to develop. Add in a Stefon Diggs dropped TD in the 2nd quarter and a third-quarter interception and we’re still on track for six points. Adjusted Yards per Attempt (AY/A) is a stat that has an adjustment to factor in TDs and INTs.
Cousins AY/A through the first two games was 8.87. 1.06 yards more than his Yards per Attempt (Y/A) from weeks 1 and 2. This was the first week that his AY/A was lower than his Y/A (5.38/4.93). This tells me that he was much less effective then the stat line suggests, and that’s without factoring in the fumbles. But he completed 40/55 with over a 72% completion percentage? Well, he threw that much due to the quick and ever-increasing deficit. Shouldn’t there have been garbage time though? Well, there was… Cousins was able to guide his team down the field late in the fourth quarter for their lone TD. A methodical 13 play 92-yard drive. Only nine of those yards were aided by a penalty.
Even when the Vikings had to have it Cousins was only able to muster up a 6.23 Y/A. He only completed two passes that went for 10 yards or more before the fourth quarter when the Bills defense started to play more conservative.
As you can see above Cousins has been outperforming his career numbers a bit. This could either mean he was just off to a hot start and was bound to regress. Or that he is on a team full of explosive weapons and they had an off game. I would tend to believe it’s somewhere right in the middle. Dalvin Cook was out and Latavius Murray is a more than a serviceable back. he doesn’t pose the explosive threat that Cook does though. Cousins may have scared you with this performance but I would be more inclined to say “Any Given Sunday” and start going forward. Possible sit for a Jax type matchup but this should be an outlier game for him.
Christian McCaffrey, RB Carolina Panthers
Week 3 – 28 RUSH, 184 YRD, CAUGHT 2/2 TARGETS, 10 YRD
All the talk this off-season from Ron Rivera was that the Panthers wanted to get McCaffrey 25 – 30 touches a game. Well in week three they did it. But not in the way we would have thought. After Week twos big time PPR performance (14 REC on 15 TGT), McCaffrey had everyone excited. For good reason though. This was his biggest usage game catching passes. Ron Rivera hasn’t used an RB1 like he did McCaffrey in 2017…
… but even this was a little extreme. He had previously only had two other games with double-digit targets. He still only had 8 carries in the contest though for a total of 22 touches. Close (to 25-30 touches ) but no cigar. The 28 carries in week 3 were not only a career high in usage but it allowed him to run his way to his first career 100-yard performance. The main worry that people have had about McCaffrey has been his ability to run up the middle.
The Bengals were coming into the matchup allowing 111 yards rushing to backs total. McCaffrey smashed this mark with his yards up the middle alone. He had 143/184 yards on 12 carries into the teeth of the defense. This includes a 45-yard tote on his fourth carry of the game. He continuously gashed the Bengals D with eight 10-plus yard carries. Ron Rivera has traditionally had one back with a considerable advantage in rushing attempts until last season as you see here…
Week 3 was a step in the right direction in getting back to this.
Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals
Week 3 – CAUGHT 6/7 TARGETS, 132 YRD, 1 TD
For a long time now the Bengals have been looking for the TJ Houshmandzadeh to their current Chad Ochocinco (AJ Green). A lot of “Brandon Lafells” have come through this locker room.
With the exception of 2016 when AJ Green was injured, it has been 10 seasons since the Bengals had a reliable second wide receiver. 2007 is the last time. The search might just be over though. In the early going this year, Tyler Boyd has taken leaps and bounds towards staking his claim as the number two option. He only had five targets in week 1 but has followed that up with an average of six receptions on eight targets. He has an 18.2% target share in that time. Also finding the end zone in both games.
His Huge performance in week 3 has a little something to do with Green getting banged up but week 2 says this could be the start of a trend. Green is expected to play in week 4 but its something worth monitoring. The 18.2% target share would surely go up. Even if Green plays Boyd has seemed to develop a connection with Andy Dalton. John Ross is a non-factor and we don’t know when Joe Mixon will return. All his days won’t be this good but he should be a WR3 moving forward.
Dallas Goedert, TE Philadelphia Eagles
Week 3 – CAUGHT 7/7 TARGETS, 73 YRD, 1 TD
Throughout the history of fantasy football rookie tight ends have never really been anything more than an afterthought. With the exception of Evan Engram in 2017, this is been for good reason. Dallas Goedert is not only a rookie tight end but he has a pro-bowl-caliber stud in Zach Ertz that plays in front of him.
In week three though, Goedert showed why the Eagles are so high on him. This isn’t the first tight end other than Ertz to have a good game in the last few seasons. It is one of the few times that it happened with Ertz healthy though. Tre Burton actually averaged more points per opportunity then Ertz two of the three years they played together as you see here…
That was largely due to the fact he was primarily a red zone threat. Catching a five-yard TD is worth a lot more than a five-yard completion at the 50 so this can be expected. Goedert’s performance though was different. Not only was Ertz healthy and playing his normal complement of snaps(99%). He was highly involved catching five passes on 10 targets for 73 yards. Goedert didn’t play anywhere near the snaps that Ertz did (55%) but he was highly involved. His seven targets were second on the team. The seven receptions he had led the team and had him the top scoring tight end in fantasy in week 3.
Alshon Jeffery’s return could halt this run really quickly. If Goedert is being used only as the other big body pass catcher opposite Ertz, Jeffery’s return could render him useless in fantasy but maybe it won’t. Maybe the Eagles like him enough. Maybe he has shown enough to keep himself relevant. This could be a two-headed tight end attack like we saw with the Patriots some years ago.
Tyler Lockett, WR Seattle Seahawks
Week 3 -CAUGHT 4/6 TARGETS, 77 YRD, 1 TD
Tyler Lockett has always been a truly unknown. Such an explosive return man that he made the pro bowl his rookie year for the NFC just for that ability. His health has always made him a bit of an enigma. A multitude of injuries has limited his action since he entered the league. Plus this has been Doug Baldwins WR1 job since Russell Wilson arrived. in presence, personality, and production.
With Baldwin injured through the first three games, Lockett has run with the opportunity.
As we see above, Lockett has stepped right into Baldwin’s production. So now the Question I had was can it continue? I don’t really think there is a short yes/no answer for this though. You might ask why? Hasn’t he shown he can be productive this year? Hasn’t he scored a TD in three straight games…? He, in fact, could have had two TDs in week 2 if not for a fantastic play by Bears Safety Eddie Jackson. But “Yes he has” is the answer to both those questions. The problem for me though is in fact, Baldwin.
As long as Baldwins out, Lockett is locked in as a low-end WR2 with upside. On any given week he could give you 100 yards and 1 TD. That coupled with his return ability gives him a decently high ceiling. Returning punts and kick-offs always gives him an extra chance to score. When Baldwin returns though, one would assume he would step right back into his top wide receiver role. Lockett could go from fantasy WR2, to return specialist/ boom-bust low-end WR3.
As with Wilson and all quarterbacks, the farther the target the less frequent and accurate. WR1,s run routes all over the field. Deep threats for the most part just go deep. This heat map shows you where Wilson throws. Not only the amount but the accuracy as well. (Red the least, Green the most)
You, the fantasy manager can use this as an opportunity to sell through. Lockett’s value won’t get much higher as people tend to think Seattle’s offense is capped. See if you can move Lockett for a piece you need before Doug Baldwin returns. Sooner rather than later.