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You love to read it when you somehow had the foresight to start these players, you hate to read it when it's time to figure out what happened: It's The Week In Confounding Fantasy Football!
The Eagles swallow the Lions, but somehow DeVonta Smith and Jalen Hurts both dud
How did this happen?: Well, the short answer is that the Eagles ran the ball 46 times for 236 yards and four touchdowns, so they didn't need to throw. The long answer is that the Eagles also were up 17-0 at halftime and built a 38-0 lead by the end of the third quarter, so they really didn't have to throw.
Who can we blame for this?: About 60% the Detroit Lions being so bad that they couldn't do anything against the dominant schemer that is Nick Sirianni, and about 40% the emergence of Dallas Goedert as a true TE1 without Zach Ertz eating into his target share. Goedert had seven targets in a game where the Eagles had 16 total targets. This may be Goedert making a move as the No. 1 or Co-No.1 target of the offense and cutting into the volume-based shares that we idiots keep talking up when we mention Smith, who had just one target in the first half.
What's our takeaway?: The Eagles are a confounding football team that should not be relied on if better options are available, and I really doubt Jalen Hurts is going to complete enough passes to support DeVonta Smith as anything more than a FLEX player at this rate. Hurts hasn't topped 250 passing yards in a month. He'll create his own value on the ground, and a potential Jalen Reagor absence may help the receivers out, but this has been a very small pie to work with all season outside of garbage time. I want to break ties against them. Especially with the run funnel Chargers up next on the schedule.
The Jaguars build the entire offense out of Jamal Agnew and Dan Arnold
How did this happen?: Well, D.J. Chark got hurt, and apparently Urban Meyer was all out of ideas at that point. So he spent the entire bye week enjoying Jamal Agnew's speed and fantasizing about how that would work against the Seahawks even though no other team gave him more than 20 targets in a season before. Anyway, the man who had 26 career targets before the season had 12 against Seattle, including a touchdown catch. Who is Laviska Shenault? I don't know anybody by that name.
Who can we blame for this?: Urban Meyer. There is always an element of coaching ego that flows through fantasy football that we have to deal with as an ingrained concept, but rarely has it been taken so far. The Jaguars traded C.J. Henderson for Dan Arnold and a pick, so they have to be right that he's good even though he was freely available this offseason. So you've got to force-feed him the ball, and ... wait, Carlos Hyde had 8 targets too? These are real sicko hours.
What's our takeaway?: We start Arnold and Agnew as PPR options who we don't expect many scores out of because the Jaguars are bad. We bury our poor Shenault shares in the yard, and we feel bad about them, but without the slot targets in an offense that has seemed to heavily favor them, he's hard to rely on. Hosting the Bills next week will make it extremely easy to not anticipate scores and be frustrated when Shenault is moved into the slot, which is good for our collective character.
Justin Fields makes a triumphant return to goodness with Matt Nagy gone
How did this happen?: Justin Fields had an incredible 22-yard scramble for a touchdown against a fairly mediocre and banged-up 49ers defense, rushing for 103 total yards and keeping the game close until the middle of the fourth quarter. Fields did not look appreciably different as a passer -- he was competent, flashing great throws, but had his share of misses and sacks. The most important number is "10" in the carries column, one that may get some fantasy players a little more excited than they should be.
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Who can we blame for this?: Well, you should always blame Matt Nagy, that goes without saying. But in this case, the 49ers' combination of pressure and inability to tackle simply let Fields run wild. Seven of his 10 carries were scrambles, and nobody ever said the rookie wasn't a playmaker on the go.
What's our takeaway?: As much as I believe in Fields' ability to develop into a better quarterback than he's shown so far, scrambles are not what you want to rely on as the sole source of running quarterback fantasy value. Without him being a properly-integrated part of a designed run game, it's hard to believe that this was more than a flash of what could be. With the Steelers coming up on Monday Night Football, Fields will be lucky to not extend his "gams sacked at least four times" streak to four. I think he remains a QB2 at this point.
Why is Mike White much better than Zach Wilson?
How did this happen?: Well, you see, the Bengals were doing well, and nature abhors a vacuum.
White looked supremely confident in his reads and make some quick and accurate throws in short zone coverage. Both of his interceptions were ricochets off his receivers. And the Jets found yards after the catch on their short throws with aplomb. How do you create a game where two running backs have at least 71 receiving yards? Don't teams scout against this? But no team had allowed more targets to running backs than the Bengals, and so it continued to go.
Who can we blame for this?: Cincinnati's defense deserves a lot of fault. White had the lowest intended air yards figure of the week, at just 4.1. He was checking it down, throwing a swing pass, or dumping it off a fair amount of the time. And the Bengals simply did a terrible job of tackling and rallying to the ball from their deeper zone coverage responsibilities. This offense is not altogether all that different from what the Jets ran with Zach Wilson. White executed it better, but the Bengals were always vulnerable to this kind of thing.
What's our takeaway?: It's a lot of fun, but it's probably not repeatable? Sorry, I'm sorry, I'm trying to delete it.
I was impressed with how White ran the offense, and I guess it makes it a little more palatable to start your Jets. But outside of Jamison Crowder, it's not like wideouts were getting in on this train in a major way. I think the Jets will have to work against more man coverage and it's -- scientifically speaking -- usually a good bet that defenses will adjust to rookie quarterbacks and the grand adjustment game will begin from there. I don't know that White has the arm to make man coverage an easy look for the Jets pass catchers. But at least whatever he does will be more competent than what Wilson was offering earlier in the year. The Keelan Cole non-catch really does make me think White has some potential, but the number of quarterbacks who can tight-area throw like White did against the Bengals is very small.