5 Things I care about
Patrick Mahomes is an alien
Football is an incredible sport. I love fantasy football, stats and all of that but they so often don’t encapsulate the greatness of what these players do on the field.
There isn’t a number out there that will do justice to some of the wild feats Patrick Mahomes put on the field Sunday night. From escaping pass rushers to insane arm angles to touchdown passes no human being has any business attempting — much less completing — Mahomes did it all against the Bucs.
The massive deep shots aren’t a weekly display in this version of the Chiefs offense. Mahomes averaged 7.1 air yards per attempt and just 47.8 percent of his completions traveled 10-plus yards. Instead, it was improvisational magic that moved an offense Tampa so often seemed to have in its grasp, only to see the alien slip away with a big play at the last minute.
The AFC has plenty of fun teams on the rise. The Bills might well be the best team in the NFL. The Chiefs, however, still set the standard — because of No. 15. What makes this version of the Chiefs even more fun is we’re in the middle of the chapter where Mahomes is going to elevate a wide range of roster middlemen.
Outside of Travis Kelce, this team doesn’t have a star. Even Kelce is well into the back-nine of his career. No other receiver cleared 65 yards on Sunday. Guys like Jody Forston are scoring touchdowns. Clyde Edwards-Helaire continues breaking fantasy regression models because of insane red-zone touchdown tosses like the one pictured above.
It’s just Mahomes out there elevating all the talent around him. When he’s playing like he did on Sunday night, there’s no one who is more of a treat to watch.
This version of the Chiefs offense might not be the clean-cut fantasy football unit some want. It’s more than good enough, however, for this team to run away with any sort of real-life football honors out there.
CeeDee Lamb is a No. 1 WR
I believed CeeDee Lamb was a No. 1 caliber wide receiver heading into this season and the requisite volume would come with the departure of Amari Cooper. Some folks needed to see it first. I no longer think it should be an open question after Lamb’s three-game stretch with Cooper Rush.
Lamb had target shares of 26%, 34%, 41% and 32% so far this season. After a nightmare Week 1 for everyone in Dallas, he’s totaled 259 yards on 21 catches with two scores. Lamb has been silky-smooth as a route runner, consistently working open and pulling in clutch catches when his team needed them amid a three-game win streak. His post route on a touchdown against Washington on Sunday was about as picture-perfect as it gets.
The true mark of an alpha receiver is the ability to command volume. Lamb has done that every single week.
The Cowboys offense is only going to get better from here. Michael Gallup returned from an ACL tear and ran a route on 85% of the team’s dropbacks while hauling in a touchdown. We know Dak Prescott will be back sooner than later. All of that will only put Lamb in a further position to shine.
CeeDee Lamb is a No. 1 wide receiver. We don’t need to see anything else. Case closed.
Chris Olave gets it done with Andy Dalton
The Saints rookie wide receiver was "The Air Yards King" so far this season so it was assumed most of his value was tethered to Jameis Winston’s aggressive downfield style. Chris Olave still came through with a nice outing alongside Andy Dalton … because he’s just good at the game.
Olave is a full-field route runner who wins at all three levels. The rookie made several crucial catches, including the Saints' lone receiving touchdown and a big reception to set up the late, game-tying field goal. He’s able to win with technique and timing on short and intermediate routes too, not just down the field. He looks the part of a No. 1 wide receiver already.
Olave is top-10 in the NFL in receiving yards and his play backs up the stats. Other guys will get healthy for New Orleans but it’s hard to see anyone displacing the rookie’s role. He’s a star.
Javonte Williams’ injury
The Broncos gave the Raiders their first win of the season — but that wasn't the only loss Denver suffered.
Running back Javonte Williams left the locker room after the game on crutches. He suffered a knee injury during the game and was ruled out for the rest of the day ominously fast. On Monday news broke that Williams reportedly suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.
We care about this because, for the most part, Williams has looked like the best offensive player in Denver this season.
Williams has been authoritative as a runner and surprisingly productive as a receiver. Denver has set up a variety of screen routes for their exciting young runner because he’s so electric in space and Russell Wilson has had an affinity for checking down to him. Williams is a huge loss.
It’s also troubling because it looked like Melvin Gordon might be falling out of favor with this coaching staff. Gordon fumbled the ball for the fourth time this season, a carryover issue from 2021. It was to the point that it was Mike Boone, not Gordon, who took the first carries after Williams left the game with his injury.
The Broncos' offense has struggled mightily to find any sort of consistent rhythm this year. Losing Williams only makes that discovery more complicated.
Geno Smith is executing the Seahawks offense
We’re going to get plenty of “Let Geno Cook” jokes but the reality is that Geno Smith has just straight-up been executing the offense the first month of the season.
Smith came into this week leading the NFL in completion percentage over expectation and turned in another strong outing against the Lions' defense. The structure of the Seahawks' offense combined with the talent of their top two receivers provides the quarterback with plenty of layups.
Smith, unlike his predecessor, is taking those throws.
Receivers like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were forgotten men heading into this fantasy season but with Smith keeping the train on the tracks, they’re reminding everyone why they’re one of the top receiver duos in the league. They were targeted on 18 of Smith’s 30 throws and totaled 240 yards between them.
The Seahawks' passing game has also looked better every week. This wasn’t just the Lions defense. All things considered, the Seahawks couldn’t have asked for much better under center this year.
5 Things I don’t care about
The Bucs record
At no point this year has Tampa Bay looked like it was firing on all cylinders. However, for many reasons, I’m not selling any Bucs stock.
The Bucs got taken down by the Chiefs with authority on Sunday night. The defense had been the driving force for Tampa Bay’s early success while the offense sputtered. The roles were reversed in Week 4. Todd Bowles’ defense let up a variety of big plays to the Chiefs and couldn’t contain Patrick Mahomes.
Bowles and co. won’t want to make excuses and results are what matter but it’s tough to be too hard on the defense with the way Mahomes was playing on Sunday. As mentioned above, he’s the type of player who can make a defense wrong, even when it's right.
We can expect Tampa Bay’s defense to show up for the vast majority of the weeks to come. A more notable development: The offense finally looked ready to rear its head this week.
This was the first time all season Tom Brady had all his receivers at his disposal. It was all in negative game script but we got the firework numbers we’d expect. Brady threw for 385 yards at 7.4 yards a toss. That was all needed, as the team collectively ran for THREE total yards.
Even with all-new additions like Julio Jones and Russell Gage out there, it was the mainstays at the top of the distribution. Mike Evans dominated this game, Chris Godwin made some big catches and Leonard Fournette was a fine outlet option.
Brady finished Sunday ranking eighth in EPA per dropback. The offense will get better as guys continue to get healthy.
The most important point when analyzing the Bucs: The NFC South stinks out loud. The Saints are a middling team at best and now banged up, the Panthers are a laughable operation and the Falcons have some spice on offense but aren’t a complete team.
The Bucs can figure this thing out and get all their players rolling in fantasy. Give it time.
“What’s up with (insert superstar player)?”
Stuff (I’d like to use a different word) happens. I know it’s not satisfying when you pose this question, but it’s often the correct answer.
Justin Jefferson was the latest star player to remind us that we need to just ride the wave, especially at the wide receiver position.
The Vikings wideout was coming off a two-game stretch with 62 yards but went off against a tough Saints secondary for 147 yards through the air and a rushing touchdown tacked on top. Jefferson ran excellent routes and made explosive plays throughout the afternoon. We hit the crest of the wave in Week 4.
I know everyone wants a smooth ride from all of their players in fantasy football but it’s just not realistic — for a variety of reasons.
Jefferson ran into a tough cover corner in Darius Slay and didn’t play his best game in Week 2. The Lions created a strong game plan to shut down Jefferson by lining up corner Jeff Okudah in tight press coverage right over top of him with an additional set of eyes helping out on a majority of snaps.
Jefferson didn’t do much but other players stepped up and the Vikings won the game.
We have to remember that your fantasy teams are at the mercy of REAL football. Defensive coaches get paid to put together a plan and the players get paid to execute it. Sometimes it works and limits even the best of players.
No one is going to hit the high-end of their range of outcomes on a weekly basis. Almost every player can sink to their lowest lows at any given moment. It doesn’t mean they’ll stay there. For the most part, you should never panic about it.
Romeo Doubs’ big drop
There were so many positives out of Romeo Doubs’ Week 4 outing that we should choose to look past the one big negative.
It was certainly a huge letdown when the replay revealed that the rookie didn’t complete the catch as he went to the ground in the end zone. The deep catch would have won the Packers the game and put a massive exclamation point on Doubs’ fantasy day. He had already snagged a touchdown but that would have taken things to another level.
He let it slip. It was the right call.
Nevertheless, Week 4 was a win for Doubs. The rookie ran a route on 35 of Aaron Rodgers’ 37 dropbacks. He finished with 25% of the team’s targets and 89 air yards, second-most on the team. He’s still putting up big-time numbers for a Day 3 rookie.
All of the 4th+ round receivers in NFL history to record as many receptions, yards and touchdowns as Romeo Doubs through three games:
Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Largent
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) September 26, 2022
Most importantly, the cute Twitter line right after the miscue from Doubs was, “Well, Rodgers will never throw to him again.”
Wrong. Doubs made two big catches on the eventual game-winning field goal drive. In the biggest moment, Rodgers still trusted Doubs.
Despite mistakes, it looks like Doubs has a role locked down on this squad. He is here to stay.
I was willing to write off some of the early-season struggles for the Colts. We’re officially out of September and it’s now time to get concerned. With Jonathan Taylor dealing with a high-ankle sprain and already off to a slow start as it is, we’re now left with little answers as to what the Colts do well.
The run defense has been a calling card for this team. They got barreled over by Derrick Henry despite the Titans' offensive line being a compromised unit. Star linebacker Shaq Leonard suffered a concussion during this game and will be a long shot to play on Thursday in Week 5. That won’t help things.
Indianapolis' own running game has been bad this season. Taylor hasn’t been perfect but the offensive line is a problem. The Colts ranked 25th in adjusted line yards coming into Week 4. The line problems don’t stop there, either. When Matt Ryan has been under pressure, the whole operation goes to hell.
Ryan has been a huge letdown overall. He ranks 21st in EPA per dropback with a one-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio that’s somehow not his biggest issue. It's Ryan’s fumbling problem that has been a team-killing plight.
Wideout Michael Pittman is still a bright spot but he’ll be hard-pressed to have the season he was supposed to with this version of Ryan. The AFC South looked like a totally winnable division heading into this season. The Colts are losing ground and fast. It’s been about as nightmarish a start as you could script for Indy.
Kenny Pickett’s interceptions
The Steelers mercifully pulled the plug on the Mitchell Trubisky experience in Week 4. It was so clear to anyone watching that the veteran’s time had expired; he was holding this team back.
Rookie Kenny Pickett got into the game to start the second half and played pretty well, all things considered. You need to just go ahead and ignore his three interceptions.
The first has to at least be a shared blame operation with receiver Chase Claypool. Pickett threw the ball deep and, even if it wasn’t the best throw, he put it where his receiver could go and get it. Unfortunately, Claypool has been mostly a disaster in contested situations throughout his career. This was particularly egregious. His arms should be at an L-shape on that play; he needs to go get it. At the very least, that play shouldn’t end in a pick.
The second was probably ill-advised. Pickett dropped way too deep into the pocket under pressure and threw a high, short pass to Pat Freiermuth and it clanked off his hands into a Jets’ defender’s mitts. Another pick off an offensive player’s hands but it was his worst of the three.
The third and final was with zeroes left on the clock on a pure desperation heave into the end zone. Can’t hold those against the quarterback.
The rookie popped in a pair of rushing touchdowns and brought more functional mobility to the table. He never got enough credit for those skills as a prospect. Pickett also averaged 9.2 yards per attempt while completing 77% of his passes. This unit hasn’t seen much efficient downfield passing for the better part of three years.
It was past time for the Steelers to put their first-round pick on the field. This was a decent debut, interceptions aside.