Week 5 Observations

I spent the first 20 minutes of action frantically trying to get one of three browsers to carry either the red-zone channel or Giants game, and they kept hanging or giving me error messages. I searched Twitter, and apparently Game Pass was having problems for its European users. I was working myself into a rage, considering what angry demands I might make with customer service when suddenly it was fixed.

Moreover, while the NFL app on my older Apple TV model doesn’t work, I finally figured out how to “airplay” the red-zone channel from a “second screen” on my laptop, leaving the laptop itself for the Giants game and Twitter, i.e., I finally had last year’s setup back, minus the ability to split the screen into two or four games, which I honestly never used that much. From the aggravation of getting my set-up together to the frustration of the games themselves, the transition was nearly seamless.

• The Texans-Chiefs was an incredibly frustrating game on several levels. First off, I was 10-2 against the spread heading into it, and I had the Texans plus 1.5. Not only did J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus get hurt on the first series, but Alex Smith converted about eight third-and-longs in the first three quarters. Every time the Texans defense was set to get off the field, they’d give up a 16-yard catch. I’ve never seen a team dominate first and second downs and get shredded on third down so consistently.

• The amount of garbage time for Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins was unbelievable. Two TD passes to Hopkins after the game was over, the second with literally no time left on the clock, and a two-yard, two-point conversion run for good measure. Watson is Russell Wilson but with Brett Favre’s mentality – he has no conscience when it comes to slinging the ball downfield into coverage and letting his receivers go get it. With the Texans defense decimated, I’d expect a lot of shootouts. Watson is a top-seven QB, and Hopkins is a top-five receiver.

• Lamar Miller ran well, but 15 carries is his sweet spot. D’Onta Foreman fumbled, but is a monster to bring down.

• Alex Smith is playing out of his mind – like a poor man’s Aaron Rodgers, scrambling, throwing on the move, attacking the deep intermediate areas of the field with precision. We’ve seen glimpses of it at times during his career, but it makes you wonder why no one turned him loose before.

• Like last week, Kareem Hunt quietly got to 100 yards and had a few receptions. The only disappointment was Charcandrick West catching two touchdowns.

• Tyreek Hill caught four of six targets for 68 yards, but didn’t make a huge impact until his punt return TD in the fourth quarter. And what an ill-advised punt it was – the Texans were down 12 with 8:57 and had a 4th-and-5 from their own 30. The Chiefs were moving the ball at will all day against their tired defense, missing two of its stars. Terrible decision from Bill O’Brien.

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• Speaking of terrible coaching decisions, why did Jason Garrett call a 2nd-and-2 fade to Dez Bryant on the Cowboys final drive? They had three plays to run for a first down and get closer to the goal-line while using up the entire clock. By stopping the clock before Dak Prescott’s TD, they gave Aaron Rodgers more than a minute with a timeout to win the game on the final drive. Garrett was too worried about scoring and not thinking enough about what would happen next. He was coaching the way I play pool – one shot at a time, rarely considering the leave or thinking in combination. That’s why I’m a below-average pool player, and he’s a bad coach.

• Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever watched. I’m 46, so I’ve seen peak Joe Montana, Steve Young, Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Rodgers is better than any. At the start of the final drive Troy Aikman mentioned how far the Packers were from game-tying field-goal range, and I thought: “Field-goal range? The Cowboys wish.”

• I’m beside myself because I dropped Aaron Jones in one of my NFFC leagues two weeks ago (he was buried behind both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams), and had the second-highest bid to reclaim him this week only because I reduced it when it looked like Montgomery and Williams might play. Jones looked so quick and decisive, I doubt Montgomery ever gets the job back as he’s battling through sore ribs, and by the time he’s 100 percent, Jones will have locked it down.

• I’m not sure why Jordy Nelson wasn’t on the field for the final drive, but Davante Adams has the same rapport with Rodgers on those back shoulder red-zone throws. Were anything to happen to Nelson, Adams might be the favorite to lead the NFL in receiving TDs.

• One again, the announcers were sucking up to Jason Witten “future Hall of Famer!” but Witten had 10 targets for 61 yards, i.e., 6.1 YPT. A nutless monkey could get 6.1 YPT.

• Dez Bryant scored a TD, but the Cowboys simply do not go out of their way to get him the ball the way other teams often do for their top receivers.

• Zeke Elliott did fine, but the Cowboys offensive line isn’t blowing open the holes it used to.

• I watched quite a bit of the Seahawks-Rams and came away thinking Jared Goff and that offense were for real, despite the turnovers and underwhelming showing. Goff made good throws and showed some ability to scramble, but it was also the quality and unpredictability of the offensive play calling, leading to open receivers and easy looks. The Rams offensive line also played well until the second half of the fourth quarter.

• Pete Carroll almost blew the game by settling for the field goal to go up six on 4th-and-2 from the 12 with 1:09 left. if the Seahawks get the first down the game would have been over, and if they failed, the Rams would have been backed up to the 11 and playing for the tie instead of the win. Moreover, the Rams would still have had to make the field goal once they got into range. Instead, Carroll decided to have his team make the field goal, kick the ball off, giving the Rams better field possession than had they turned it over on downs at the 11, and risked losing the game outright had the Rams scored a TD, which very nearly happened when the ball went through Cooper Kupp’s hands in the end zone.

• No one on the Seahawks did anything on offense, but the end-zone fade to Jimmy Graham was encouraging – he’s 6-7, and the team’s three top receivers are all shorter than 6-0.

• Tyler Higbee had a big game, but Robert Woods stood out as a playmaker, able to get open and catch the ball against a tough secondary. Sammy Watkins had some downfield looks but none we’re especially close. He’s a buy-low though.

• Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon switched places yet again.

• There’s not much to say about the Ravens-Raiders. Joe Flacco was solid, but didn’t throw a TD, and EJ Manuel isn’t long for the job.

• Javorius Allen is still the lead back and pass catcher, but Alex Collins is more efficient. And Terrance West actually started before getting hurt.

• What a disastrous year for Amari Cooper so far. And I thought he was one of the safest players on the board.

• So much for the Ben Roethlisberger home/road split theory. Or maybe the Jaguars pass defense is really that good. It’s hard to know because the Jaguars played such weak opponents before this.

• I lost another Survivor entry on the Steelers, and you have to wonder whether Roethlisberger is done. He contemplated retiring this offseason and speculated after the game that maybe he didn’t “have it anymore.”

• Antonio Brown had 19 targets, 10 catches and 155 yards. It wasn’t a masterpiece of efficiency but volume is king. Le’Veon Bell had 10 catches of his own, but for 46 yards.

• Blake Bortles simply didn’t have to do anything, so he didn’t

• Leonard Fournette is approaching top-five overall territory. His 90-yard TD to seal the game and pad his stats was old school fantasy football – Terrell Davis or Emmitt Smith used to tack on massive totals against tired defenses late in games.

• Carson Wentz is having a nice start to Year 2, but he’s spreading the ball around quite a bit, so none of his targets besides Zach Ertz is especially reliable.

• LeGarrette Blount is better than Mike Gillislee, and this might even be the case in fantasy despite Gillislee’s fast start and ideal location.

• Larry Fitzgerald had 10 targets for 51 yards. I’m not sure where Week 3 came from.

• Andre Ellington caught nine more passes. He has 24 targets and 18 catches the last two weeks, 32 targets and 23 catches the last three.

• The Giants lost four receivers in this game, Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham most likely for the year. Roger Lewis and tight end Evan Engram – who could possibly line up out wide – figure to get a ton of work in the near term, but Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard could be back in a couple weeks. Whatever happens, if you thought the Giants were terrible with Beckham, wait until you see them without him. Actually, we did see that Week 1 – when the Giants got shut down by a Cowboys defense that hasn’t stopped anyone since.

The silver lining in Beckham’s injury is he gets time to come back 100 percent healthy, the Giants are more likely to get a franchise QB in the draft, and it’ll be more obvious they need to fire Ben McAdoo and put Eli Manning out to pasture.

All the star quarterbacks of the 2004 class (Roethlisberger, Manning, Philip Rivers) are looking old. Maybe they need to get on Tom Brady’s (2000 class) diet.

• Both Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman ran well, but maybe it was the Chargers run defense.

• Melvin Gordon had a monster game, both as a runner and receiver, and he passed the eye test, too – breaking tackles and hitting the hole decisively. But the Giants run defense has been one of the worst in the league this year, though it’s hard to explain since most of their players from last year’s excellent run defense are back. Perhaps despair has kicked in the way it seemed to for the Rams last year under Jeff Fisher.

• Hunter Henry continued the Giants streak of allowing TDs to tight ends, and he would have had a second one but for a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. It’s now six in five games.

• Keenan Allen caught only four of 12 targets and had a couple drops. Tyrell Williams saw only two targets.

• At least Beckham had the decency to get hurt after putting up good numbers for you, a courtesy which Charles Clay, DeVante Parker, Bilal Powell and Marshall did not extend.

• Jay Cutler had great matchups the last two weeks and was terrible in both. Against the Titans, he had 92 passing yards, 3.5 YPA and a pick. He’s still not up to speed, and you have to wonder how long the Dolphins will stick with him.

• There’s hardly any point in analyzing the Matt-Cassel-led Titans. They just need Marcus Mariota back.

• Parker was spotted on crutches after the game, so it looks like his ankle injury could keep him out. It’s unfortunate because he was in the midst of a breakout, despite the terrible environment, and he’s also on a couple of my teams.

• Carlos Hyde played hurt last week and got completely stuffed against the Colts. Apparently he’s healthy, but this is one of the perils of using backs on weak teams.

• Marlon Mack ran extremely well, scored a touchdown and nearly scored a second. The Colts are still wasting carries on Frank Gore’s carcass, but Mack is worth a pickup nonetheless.

• T.Y. Hilton is one of the best per-play receivers in the league and had his second huge game with Jacoby Brissett under center. Hilton had 177 yards on only nine targets.

• The 49ers seem to like deep threat Marquise Goodwin (11 targets, 116 yards) to go along with possession man Pierre Garcon. Tight end George Kittle caught seven of nine targets for 83 yards and a score too.

• It looks like Cam Newton’s game against the Patriots was no fluke. On the road again, and against a much more stout Lions defense, Newton had 10.8 YPA, 355 passing yards, three TDs and no picks.

• I mocked people for picking up Ed Dickson just because Greg Olsen went down. You don’t pick up a career blocking TE just because the guy ahead of him was a Pro Bowl pass catcher. But Dickson’s 175 yards are the sixth most all time for a TE (per Pro-football-reference.com.) I wanted to say that was more than Olsen’s ever had, but it isn’t true – last year, Olsen had 181 yards (3rd) against the Bucs.

• Matthew Stafford had another underwhelming game – 6.5 YPA, 229 passing yards. Dink and dunk isn’t going to get the Lions anywhere against good teams.

• Up 27-10 with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, penny-slot Ron Rivera bizarrely opted for a 55-yard field goal attempt. It was 4th-and-19, so going for it wasn’t a good option, but this was the one time in his life he should have punted and didn’t. It’s like the guy on the penny slots impulsively put $100 on black while passing by the roulette wheel. Graham Gano missed the kick, the Lions got the ball on their own 45-yard line (mid-field after a penalty) and nearly mounted a comeback.

• People are excited about Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and he got a touchdown, but let’s not overdo it. He had eight targets for 29 yards against the Browns.

• The announcers were also excited about rookie David Njoku who made a nice one-handed TD catch, but he saw only three targets, fewer than Ricardo Louis, Bryce Treggs, Kasen Williams, Seth DeValve and Rashard Higgins, and the same number as running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.

• DeShone Kizer was so bad he got pulled for Kevin Hogan, and Hogan actually played well – 10.2 YPA, 16-of-19, 30 rushing yards and two TDs. I’d expect Hogan to start at Houston next week.

• Bilal Powell left early in the game, but Elijah McGuire did not capitalize – rushing for only 20 yards on 11 carries. With the Jets at 3-2, we might see Matt Forte’s carcass back as the starter again yet.

• The Bengals should have blown out the Bills but for two interceptions off A.J. Green’s hands and a subsequent Green fumble. Andy Dalton had 9.1 YPA while Tyrod Taylor had a meager 4.5.

• You have to feel for Taylor though – the Bills traded away Sammy Watkins, let Robert Woods walk in free agency, lost Jordan Matthews to an injury, and Charles Clay went down in the first half. Nick O’Leary and LeSean McCoy were Taylor’s top targets.

• Speaking of which, McCoy has been bottled up since Week 1 and is now averaging a meager 3.2 YPC on the year. Last year he averaged 5.4 YPC.

• Like McCoy, Joe Mixon is getting opportunities, but he simply can’t get it going behind the Bengals weak offensive line.