by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was another crazy day around the NFL, with the biggest news being the injury to Aaron Rodgers (as well as Jameis Winston, though to a far lesser extent). What are the biggest things that we learned from the action on the field? Let’s take a look:
1) Will we have to downgrade the entire Green Bay offense…
Obviously there is no replacing Aaron Rodgers, who could be lost for the season, but Brett Hundley looked inept when stepping in. He completed 18 of 33 passes and threw 3 INT, as the offense looked pitiful. The passing game did little and the running backs had no room to run, with Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery combining for 69 yards on 23 carries.
Obviously we aren’t going to do anything dramatic with the skill players, and the hope has to be that getting the reps in practice will allow Hundley to significantly improve his performance. Time will tell, but for now we will have to take a cautious approach (meaning everyone is going to take a slight hit). That said New Orleans is not a very imposing defense, and that could allow Hundley and company to find their footing.
2) Maybe Adrian Peterson does have something left in the tank…
Could anyone have predicted this? Peterson turned 26 carries into 134 yards and 2 TD, after totaling 81 yards on 27 carries in four games as a member of the New Orleans Saints. This is the first time Peterson has shown any real signs of life since December 27, 2015 and we obviously aren’t about to bank on him being able to replicate it. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to completely disappear, as he’s proven that he is a viable RB2 option (at least for now) and can pop off a big day at any time.
3) Jerick McKinnon is the Vikings’ RB to own…
When Dalvin Cook was lost to injury many thought it would be Latavius Murray who emerged as the leader in Minnesota’s backfield. That simply hasn’t been the case, as McKinnon continued to be the more effective back:
- Jerick McKinnon – 21 touches, 99 yards, 2 TD
- Latavius Murray – 16 touches, 37 yards, 0 TD
The two did split carries (McKinnon had 16 to Murray’s 15), and it’s unlikely that McKinnon takes a full workload. That said over the past two weeks Murray has 59 yards on 27 carries, while McKinnon has 164 yards and 2 TD on 32 carries (not to mention his role in the passing game). Murray will play a role, but he has no value.
4) George Kittle could emerge as a TE1 in short order…
He saw 8 targets, behind only Pierre Garcon (12), and delivered 4 catches for 46 yards. He now has 17 targets over the past two weeks and should continue to be a focal point of the passing game regardless of who is under center. That said if the 49ers stick with C.J. Beathard, who replaced Brian Hoyer, you would expect an even bigger role as he could easily settle for short, safe passes. While he’s not quite a TE1 yet, he’s on the spectrum.
5) A breakout for Samaje Perine may never come…
With Rob Kelley out the hope was that Perine would finally emerge and deliver a big day. Instead we got more of the same, as he took 9 carries for 23 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and failed to have a run longer than 8 yards. He was even out-carried by Chris Thompson (16 carried for 33 yards), and his performance was the status quo for his rookie year:
- 55 carries for 166 yards (3.0 yards per carry)
- 0 rushing TD
- 12 yards is his longest run
Perine’s day was saved by a receiving TD, though that’s not something we can depend on. While you can still hold out some hope, it’s getting harder to believe. If you need the roster spot cutting bait is not unthinkable.
6) There’s a clear top option in New Orleans’ backfield…
The trade of Adrian Peterson has cleared the playing field, and the Saints’ duo delivered an impressive performance:
- Mark Ingram – 25 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD; 5 receptions, 36 yards
- Alvin Kamara – 10 carries, 75 yards; 4 receptions, 12 yards
Kamara is a big play threat and is going to play a role, but don’t confuse that with being the leader of the backfield. That’s a role Ingram is going to maintain, and he’s going to be the better play every week. Kamara is likely going to get 10-14 touches per week and is a FLEX play, but nothing more.
7) Elijah McGuire’s time as a fantasy asset could be short lived…
Sure he evenly split carries with the returning Matt Forte, but he was ineffective in a favorable matchup as he took 10 carries for 22 yards (Forte didn’t excel either). It was his second straight abysmal performance, as he now has 42 yards on 21 carries over the past two weeks. He also played second fiddle to Forte in the passing game (Forte turned all 8 of his targets into receptions, while McGuire was not targeted). Throw in that Bilal Powell is going to return and factor into the backfield and McGuire could hold only a limited role.
8) Maybe it’s time to ignore Sammy Watkins…
He turned 4 targets into just 1 catch and 11 yards. Part of it is on Jared Goff (11-21, 124 yards) and the focus being on Todd Gurley (23 carries for 116 yards), but Watkins has now posted 2 catches on 10 targets over the past three weeks and has more than 2 receptions and 30 yards in one of his last five games (2 of 6 overall). While the upside remains there, he’s got to be stuck on your bench until he shows us signs of producing.
9) The Giants may have found a running game…
There seemed to be no chance for success, with the offense in shambles and going into Denver, but shockingly Orleans Darkwa posted a monster day (21 carries for 117 yards). Obviously the numbers were buoyed by a 47 yard run, but it was still solid as two key changes were made:
- Reshuffled offensive line
- Change in play caller
Is Darkwa the long-term answer? Probably not, as Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman will continue to play a role as the Giants take a hot hand approach. That said, there’s suddenly some promise here.
10) The Chargers’ Mike Williams could gain traction quickly…
The seventh overall pick made his much awaited NFL debut, catching his only target for 15 yards. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he didn’t produce all that much, as the passing attack was buoyed by a three-headed monster:
- Melvin Gordon – 12 targers
- Keenan Allen – 9 targets
- Hunter Henry – 7 targets
Of course Gordon is not generally going to see that many opportunities in the passing game and Henry’s output has been extremely inconsistent. Williams could rise to the #2 option in short order, leap-frogging Tyrell Williams in the process. For now keep him stashed and see how things play out.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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