Week 3 in the NFL delivered some action-packed play. We took the time to go through all the games this past week and pull out the fantasy content you need to dominate the waiver wire and your league in Week 4.
TNF was the first time the national stage got a chance to see Gardner Minshew III for the Jaguars. The Jags' offense mostly sputtered without DJ Chark Jr playing. James Robinson was the lone bright spot, scoring both of Jacksonville's TDs on the night. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the Dolphins offense humming, completing 90% of his passes for 160 yards and 2 TDs. The Dolphins got out to an early lead and fed Myles Gaskin the ball. He had 22 carries for 66 yards and has a stranglehold on the Dolphins backfield job.
The injury bug bit the 49ers again this week against the Giants, but it didn't slow them down on the scoreboard. Nick Mullens, starting for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, threw for 346 yards, while Jerick McKinnon and Jeffrey Wilson each had rushing TDs for the 49ers. Daniel Jones struggled against a depleted 49ers defense, throwing for 179 yards and an INT. Devonta Freeman made his Giants debut, but only had 10 yards rushing on 5 carries.
Nick Mullens going back to fix the pylon is so pure 😂 @NickMullens @49ers https://t.co/pXg85vDIJg— The Checkdown (@The Checkdown)1600630132.0
Washington 20 - Browns 34
Cleveland ran the ball 35 times in their victory this week over Washington with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb had 108 yards and 2 TDs while Hunt tacked on another 46 yards with a TD reception from Baker Mayfield. Mayfield managed Cleveland's offense well, going 16/23 for 156 yards. Dwayne Haskins struggled against the Browns' defense, throwing 3 INTs to go along with 2 TDs through the air. Antonio Gibson had a rushing TD for Washington while Dontrelle Inman secured both TDs threw the air from Haskins.
Stop me if you've heard this before: The Eagles and Bengals tied this week in what was probably the ugliest game of the week. Carson Wentz threw for 225 yards and 2 INTs while the calls for Jalen Hurts to replace him have grown from a whisper to more of a murmur. Miles Sanders had 95 yards on 18 carries, while Greg Ward Jr led the eagles receivers with 92 yards and a TD. Joe Burrow threw 41 times this week, completing 31 of those passes for 312 yards. He threw 2 TDs as well, both going to rookie Tee Higgins. Joe Mixon was unspectacular on the ground, gaining 49 yards on 17 carries.
I can’t speak for any @Eagles players. But you have to go for that 4th and 12. I can’t live with accepting the tie. Frank Reich 2018.— Dan Orlovsky (@Dan Orlovsky)1601239891.0
The Patriots bounced back after a tough loss to Seattle in Week 2 with a convincing win over the Raiders at home this week. Cam Newton took a backseat this week on offense to Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. Michel had 140 all purpose yards this week while Burkhead had 3 total TDs. Newton threw for 162 yards with a TD and an INT. The Raiders offense struggled against the Patriots defense. Josh Jacobs had 71 yards on 16 carries, while Hunter Renfrow secured one of the 2 Derek Carr TD passes of the day.
Chicago, somewhat predictably given Atlanta's track record. stormed back to beat the Falcons in the third quarter to drop Atlanta to 0-3 on the year. The Bears made the switch to Nick Foles in the 3rd quarter and promptly scored 3 TDs to secure the win. Foles looks to be the starter from here on, while Mitchel Trubisky's career in Chicago is most likely over. Atlanta was down Julio Jones this week, leaving Calvin Ridley as the top WR, securing 5 catches for 110 yards. Russell Gage stepped in to the #2 role this week, but he left the game early with an injury. Matt Ryan had 238 yards and threw a game sealing INT to secure the Bears win.
What a wild game in Buffalo this week. Josh Allen led the Bills to a 28-3 lead midway through the 3rd quarter on 4 total TDs. The Rams then scored 29 unanswered points to take a 32-28 lead. With 15 second left on the clock, Allen hit Tyler Kroft for his second TD of the day to seal the win for the Bills. Allen had 311 yards passing and 5 total TDs this week, cementing himself as a must start QB as the season goes on. Devin Singletary had over 120 all purpose yards while Cole Beasley had 100 yards on 8 catches for the Bills. The Rams' Darrell Henderson had 114 yards and a TD on the round while Cooper Kupp had over 100 yards and a TD through the air.
Pittsburgh squeaked out a victory this week against the Texans, dropping them to 0-3 while the Steelers remain unbeaten. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 200+ yards with 2 TDs, while James Conner had over 100 yards again on the ground this week with a TD. Deshaun Watson had 2 TDs and 264 yards through the air with a TD and an INT. David Johnson couldn't find much room to run, but did snag a rushing TD to save his fantasy day. Diontae Johnson left the game for the Steelers with a concussion and his status is in doubt for Week 4.
Tennessee snuck by the Vikings this week, but the real story to come out of this game was the emergence of Justin Jefferson in the Vikings offense. Jefferson had 175 yards and a TD this week on 7 catches. Adam Thielen had 3 catches for 29 yards and a TD, while Kirk Cousins bounced back slightly this week with 251 yards while also throwing two more INTs. Derrick Henry finally broke out this week with 2 TDs on the ground to go along with 119 yards. Ryan Tannehill had over 300 yards passing with an INT.
Justin Jefferson breakout party 🚀 7 catches 🚀 175 yards 🚀 1 TD https://t.co/RlfETiZZ5Q— PFF (@PFF)1601237741.0
Carolina got in the win column this week against the Chargers on a solid showing from fill in RB Mike Davis. Davis had 91 all purpose yards and a TD this week to push the Panthers past a sputtering Chargers offense. Justin Herbert had another 300 yard passing performance, throwing a TD to to Keenan Allen. Allen had 132 yards on 13 catches while Austin Ekeler had 84 yards through the air as well. Ekeler also had 59 yards and a TD on the ground.
The Colts cruised to a win over the Jets with 217 yards passing from Philip Rivers. Jonathan Taylor had 59 yards on the ground with a rushing TD, but didn't see much action in the 4th quarter after the game was out of reach for the Jets. Sam Darnold threw 3 INTs while Frank Gore had 57 yards on 15 carries for the Jets. TY Hilton had his best receiving day of the year, gaining 52 yards on 3 catches.
Seattle and Dallas battled it out in a high scoring affair this week. The #LetRussCook movement is in full force in Seattle. Wilson threw for 5 TDs this week and could've had 6 if DK Metcalf hadn't started showboating before he reached the end zone. Chris Carson had a minor injury scare late in the game but was diagnosed with a mild knee sprain and shouldn't miss much time. Dak Prescott threw for 450+ yards this week with 3 TDs. He also served up 2 INTs to an opportunistic Seattle defense. Ezekiel Elliot ran for 34 yards and a TD as well.
LET. RUSS. COOK. 5 TD passes for Russell Wilson in the Seahawks' win over the Cowboys. https://t.co/TeQo1uyH5j— ESPN (@ESPN)1601251124.0
Detroit squeaked out a win this week against the Cardinals behind 270 yards passing from Matthew Stafford. The Lions DeAndre Swift only had 4 snaps in the backfield this week, which is worth watching the next few weeks. Adrian Peterson had 75 yards on 22 carries as he dominated Detroit's RB snaps. Kenny Golladay returned from a hamstring strain, gaining 65 yards on 4 catches along with 1 TD. Kyler Murray was dynamic again this week, throwing for 273 yards and 2 TDs while adding a rushing TD. He also threw 3 INTs. DeAndre Hopkins had 137 yards on 10 catches and continues to be an elite WR1 in that offense.
Buccaneers 28 - Broncos 10
Tampa Bay comfortably beat an ailing Broncos team this week behind Tom Brady's 3 TDs and 297 yards through the air. The Tampa backfield conundrum continues this week as Ronald Jones had more snaps than Leonard Fournette. Jones also had a TD on the ground. Mike Evans had 2 catches for 2 yards and 2 TDs. Yes, you read that correctly! Denver struggled on offense with backup Jeff Driskel. Jerry Jeudy was the leading receiver with 55 yards.
Sunday night's game between the Packers and the Saints did not disappoint offensively. Allan Lazard had 146 yards and a TD while Aaron Rodgers continues to show why he's elite, throwing for 283 yards and 3 TDs. The Saints looked better offensively this week, but their defense couldn't stop the Packers. Drew Brees had 288 yards and 3 TDs while Alvin Kamara had 58 yards rushing and 139 yards receiving to go along with 2 TDs.
Baltimore's offense abandoned its run mentality early against the Chiefs and were never able to play catch up after half time. Lamar Jackson looked out of sorts this week, throwing for only 97 yards while rushing for 83 yards. JK Dobbins led the Ravens backfield in snaps this week while each back's usage continues to fluctuate on a weekly basis. Patrick Mahomes was elite, throwing for 385 yards and 4 TDs while adding another TD on the ground against one of the leagues best defenses. Travis Kelce lead all Chiefs receivers with 87 yards.
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In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.
After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.
The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.
It should also be stated that Reggie Jackson has been really good for Los Angeles throughout the playoffs and is someone that the team leans on to take and make tough shots in crunch time. His fearlessness attacking the rim provides a lot of space for his teammates.
Reggie Jackson after getting his free agency bag this summer https://t.co/kgR7AUeQZ5— Josiah Johnson (@Josiah Johnson)1624936925.0
The Suns have dropped two of the last three games, and their win came in Game 4 which saw a final tally of 84-80 so it's tough to gauge how much stock to take in that victory. What I'm trying to say is the Clippers have definitely looked the part of a Western Conference Champion the past three games, and the Suns are at risk of flaming out.
Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (MCL sprain) will not play tonight in Game 5 of the WCF against the Phoenix Suns.— Chris Haynes (@Chris Haynes)1624923130.0
The Clippers' starting big man, Ivica Zubac, was out with a knee injury while Los Angeles out scored the Suns by 26 in the paint. So far in every game but one (Game 3 when L.A. beat Phoenix 106-92) the team that has scored the most points in the paint has ended up winning. Both teams are good from the free throw line and it gets the opposition into foul trouble so it is a sound strategy for either side. But Deandre Ayton wasn't able to get much going offensively in Game 5 finishing with only 10 points in 37 minutes.
For the Suns, they were quick to point out their own shortcomings following the loss. Coach Monty Williams noted, "It's just unacceptable the way we started the game," he continued on to compare the Suns and Clippers in Game 5, "We showed up in the first quarter, and they played with desperation."
Monty Williams: “Leadership is tricky - if you can’t get people to follow you, you’re just walking by yourself”— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel Nichols)1624922492.0
Chris Paul who had 22 points and eight assists talked about Phoenix's inability to hold onto advantages, "We've got to close quarters better," Paul goes on to say, "that's been a problem for us all series long."
Paul has been a leader both on and off the court helping this young team to play far above the level anyone expected them to this season, but he's also been a part of many teams that fell short in the playoffs.
A championship run is the one knock on his hall of fame resume, and it seemed destined to happen this year especially after the Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead. But he isn't the only player who has had their reputation affected by playoff performances.
The nickname Playoff P isn't an endearing one. It has become synonymous with Paul George and his failures in the postseason up to this point. Any success that the Clippers were going to have this year was always likely to be attributed to Kawhi Leonard, but now that he is sidelined it's all on PG to carry the load.
George entered rarified air Monday night joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant as players who scored 20 or more points in each of the first 18 games in a postseason. All of their teams reached the Finals. George is hoping to follow suit as the Clippers are headed back home to host Game 6.
Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.
Offense being the key word here.
Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.
For a player that relies so heavily on driving to the basket to get shots off close to the hoop, it's expected for that player to draw plenty of contact resulting in a lot of free throw opportunities. That was certainly indicative of what we saw from Simmons in the first two rounds of the 20-21 playoffs.
He got to the line 45 times against the Hawks in their second round matchup, but only converted 15 freebies which equates to a 33% free throw percentage in the series. Simmons shot just 34.2% from the stripe if you include their first round games against the Wizards, which accounts for the worst free throw percentage by a player with at least 70 attempts in a postseason in NBA playoff history.
With a minimum of 70 attempts, Ben Simmons' 34.2% free throw percentage this postseason is the worst in a postseaso… https://t.co/EvEcQxEe8m— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPN Stats & Info)1624244835.0
In the four games that Atlanta beat Philly in this series, they lost by a combined 17 points. If Ben Simmons shoots just 70% from the line and makes 31-45 during this series, that adds 16 to Philadelphia's series point total. Obviously, the attempts might not directly impact the losses, but from a very broad overview, it would draw the series significantly closer — especially taking into account that three of the four losses the 76ers took in the series were lost by four points or fewer.
Also let's not allow people to say that the free throw stat is overblown and out of context. It's not. Shaquille O'Neal, who is notoriously one of the worst free throw shooters in league history, still managed a career playoff free throw percentage of 50%. That's why we saw the conception of "Hack-a-Shaq" where teams would intentionally foul O'Neal to put him on the line rather than allowing him to hurt them in other ways.
We've begun to see teams adopt this practice now with Simmons, which is just flat out embarrassing for a player of Simmons' pedigree. We have seen what he's able to do with the ball. He flies down the court on fast breaks, is a brilliant creator for teammates, and is one of the better finishers at the rim that we have in the league today.
We've already touched on his defensive prowess that has elevated him to becoming NBA All-Defense multiple times and a three time All-Star. But what do the Sixers do with Simmons before next season?
The 24-year-old point-forward still has plenty of time to work on his game. We've seen other players add a jumper later in their careers to great success; just ask Vince Carter how that works. But, usually, in order to develop a perimeter shot, there is at least a solid foundation to build on — that being the ability to consistently hit free throws.
Simmons is a career 60% free throw shooter, and he shot right around the mean during the regular season. The decline in made shots from the charity stripe in this postseason is cause for concern that this isn't the beginning of a trend.
Add to that Simmons' reluctance to take shots further away from the basket, and defenses have the luxury of ignoring Simmons in the half court set. We have seen teams (like the Jazz and 76ers) that rely heavily on the pick and roll get shut down in these playoffs, and it's teams like Atlanta and Phoenix that are able to spread defenses thin by putting multiple shooters on the court at one time succeed.
In 34 career playoff games, Ben Simmons has made 5 shots outside of 10 feet (from the basket).— Paul Hembekides (@Paul Hembekides)1624277710.0
Joel Embiid was phenomenal in the postseason, so let's not ignore that fact. Also, he was playing on one knee and still almost willed the Sixers to a win. But again, Embiid was not 100% in the playoffs, which limited his abilities.
Doc Rivers answers a question whether Ben Simmons can be the point guard of a championship team https://t.co/8xL35u98RC— Rob Perez (@Rob Perez)1624244460.0
Following their loss, Doc Rivers was asked if he thought Ben Simmons could be the point guard of a championship team, to which he responded, "I don't know that answer to that question right now," which doesn't provide a whole lot of confidence in Simmons' status with the team next year. Trade rumors have already begun to circulate, and it would make sense for this Philly team to hit the reset button now.
If Simmons continues to be exploitable in big moments, as we've seen him be so far in his career, his value is only going to go down. Adding further complications into the situation is the team just agreed to a new contract extension with Simmons and is due to make between $33 and $40 million per season over the next four years.
As the two cornerstone pieces of The Process appear to be two Scotties without a Mike, the early departure for the East's top seed will likely mean a big shakeup in the near future. If Embiid is healthy, he is elite without question. Maybe Philadelphia will go out and add around their two stars, but unless the organization is confident that Simmons can avoid another atrocious offensive performance in future playoff series, all they have is a really good regular season team.
The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.
After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.
LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.
The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.
🗣 DEVIN BOOKER— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622601795.0
The idea of effort is something that was lacking on the purple and gold side last night though. It didn't take long after Booker started hitting everything that the Lakers team started playing sloppy and launching up bad threes in a failed attempt to not let the game get out of hand. Well it did.
The two teams were among the best defensive teams in league this season, the Suns finished seventh in overall team defensive rating and the Lakers first. The Lakers typically like to use their defensive prowess to control pace and work in the half court with their combination of speed on the wings and their combination of big men down low that includes Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis (when healthy), and former Sixth-Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell. Incase you forgot Harrell does in fact still play for the Lakers, but before last night if you blinked for too long you would've missed him on the court.
WHY ISN’T MONTREZL HARRELL GETTING PLAYING TIME?????@MONSTATREZZ #FreeMontrezl https://t.co/j55u9zg9kN— NBALakersReport (@NBALakersReport)1622603465.0
For some unknown reason Trez has been an afterthought in Frank Vogel's rotations, not only in this series, but throughout parts of the regular season. With AD being ruled out for Game 5, it would've been logical to think that we'd see an uptick in minutes for the high energy reserve, and we did. But not until the game was far out of hand in the second half. While the Suns were building a 30 point lead we saw Phoenix's guards cooking the slower big men of the Lakers off pick and rolls.
30 points is the largest lead at half in Suns playoff history. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/UoozhMf6Io— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622604230.0
It's understandable to want some size to limit Deandre Ayton, but when it's Booker, Payne, and Bridges hurting you offensively why not see how a quicker and more agile defender like Harrell might fare slowing down the pick and rolls? We saw Jae Crowder having success doing that on the other side for the Suns all night!
It's not fair to just talk about how bad the Lakers were, in fairness it looked like they were getting open looks and were just collectively having an unlucky shooting night. Maybe they all got it out of their system now? But the Suns would have beat anyone on that home court last night. Let's give all credit to them by playing one of the best games ever seen against a LeBron James-led playoff team. Devin Booker is an absolute star and this team plays with a very focused chip on their shoulder which has been manicured by Chris Paul. His leadership has made ALL the difference for this Phoenix team and it can be seen most on the defensive side of the ball. The Suns players have adopted Paul's attitude and intensity on that end and it all paid off last night.
We've seen LeBron actively frustrated during playoff games on the court, and last night is one of the most cringe-worthy to have seen. James spent way too much time talking to officials about calls, and not just between whistles. It would be interesting to know how many possessions the Lakers played four on five because James never made it back on defense before the Suns put more points on them. LeBron was seen leaving the court with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and sure it could be to start receiving treatment on the injured ankle. But we know the real reason he left. We can only hope he didn't punch anything on the way to the locker room.
While the teams will travel back to L.A. for Game 6, the Lakers know they are in a must-win situation. We saw the rest of the team around LeBron scrambling because they felt the pressure. James was the only Laker in the second half that kept the team functioning. When we've seen a visibly dejected James like we did last night, it's been because he knew his team didn't have it. I don't think that's the case with this Lakers team.
There's plenty of talent on the roster even without Anthony Davis. Maybe Game 6 is when we get to see Harrell getting some meaningful minutes. Maybe Vogel can devise a way to get Andre Drummond more involved offensively. Maybe AD plays and isn't slowed by the groin injury. Or maybe you should've listened to us back in January when we told you the Suns were a pretty good basketball team.