It was billed as the game of the young season, maybe even the game of the year. What it turned into was just another NFL blowout.
Josh Allen, you know how to throw a party, or spoil one — depending on your point of view. I can’t wait to see the fresh MVP odds Monday morning.
Allen played a letter-perfect game in Buffalo’s 48-20 romp over Miami, throwing for four touchdowns and running in a fifth. Allen had just four incompletions on the day, and finished with 320 passing yards. His scrambling was limited mostly to pocket mobility that set up downfield connections, but he did tack on an 11-yard quarterback draw for that final score. The beleaguered Dolphins didn’t even touch Allen on the final run.
Allen and Stefon Diggs have that mind-meld thing going, and Miami never found a way to stop it. Diggs caught six passes on seven targets, good for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Diggs worked his magic on the boundary, he won over the middle, he made yards after the catch. Whatever drama was surrounding Diggs and the Bills in the springtime, it’s ancient history now.
Who can you trust beyond Bills' dynamic duo?
Although Buffalo’s offense has been high octane all year, it’s not easy to find fantasy answers after Allen and Diggs. The backfield continues to split three ways, with James Cook, Damien Harris, and Latavius Murray all seeing regular work. Cook’s choppy 12-29 line was bailed out by a touchdown run and a 48-yard reception; given the fantasy wreckage at the running back position this year, you’re probably playing Cook no matter what. Murray and Harris are mostly touchdown-and-hope players, and neither had a score Sunday. And obviously Allen holds a lot of goal-line equity, too.
Gabe Davis might be another touchdown-or-bust player. He has just 12 catches on the year on a modest 18 targets, but he’s scored three times, including one Sunday. Dalton Kincaid hasn’t been an explosive receiver thus far in his rookie year, but at least he’s secured 15-of-17 targets (4-27-0 against Miami). Those catches have only netted 99 yards, however.
Down game for Dolphins, but better days are ahead
Although Miami remains one of the AFC’s primary contenders, this series has been one-sided for years. Buffalo has 12 wins in the last 14 meetings. Allen is now 9-2 against the Dolphins, and the Bills also beat Miami in the playoffs last season, albeit Tua Tagovailoa didn’t play that day.
Tagovailoa was under constant duress from the Buffalo pass rush — four sacks, several hits — but he acquitted himself respectfully, throwing for 282 yards and a touchdown, averaging 8.1 YPA. Obviously it wasn’t the laser show we saw last week, but Miami’s offense didn’t lose the game. De’Von Achane justified all those juicy FAB offers, rolling up 120 total yards and two touchdowns on a modest 11 touches. Raheem Mostert (7-9 rushing, 3-36 receiving, fumble lost) had his first quiet game of the season.
The Bills did a fine job marking Miami’s downfield threats. Tyreek Hill (3-58-0) and Jaylen Waddle (4-46-0) both were targeted just five times apiece and hardly impacted the game. Sometimes they weren’t open, sometimes Tagovailoa didn’t have time to find them. You normally don’t look at ancillary players in the Miami passing game, but perhaps Braxton Berrios (6-43-1) and Durham Smythe (4-41-0) will offer bye-week utility in deeper leagues over the next few weeks.
The best news for Miami, it should be heavily favored next week when it hosts the Giants. The Bills take to the international stage, playing the Jaguars in a Sunday morning game at London.
The 49ers offense continues to be a fantasy buzzsaw
Everyone expected the San Francisco offense to impose its will against Arizona, and that’s exactly what happened. Five touchdowns, 30 first downs, just under 400 yards of offense. Another Kyle Shanahan clinic.
That doesn’t mean all the Niners feasted for fantasy, however. Deebo Samuel wasn’t targeted on the day — he was limited to three short runs — and George Kittle saw just one catch, a nine-yard completion.
Samuel and Kittle are dynamic players, Pro Bowl-caliber players. Kittle is part of the Iowa tradition of superstar tight ends (Sam LaPorta looks like the newest entry), and Samuel was one of several wide receiver stars who came out of the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s hard to imagine that the Niners landed both of these overlords outside the first round (Samuel was a second-round pick, Kittle a fifth-round selection).
But maybe they’re the secondary pieces when all Niners are healthy. Christian McCaffrey is unfair of course — he scored four touchdowns and had 177 total yards Sunday, racing to the top of the fantasy leaderboard — and Brandon Aiyuk (6-148-0) looks like the team’s best wideout when everyone is available.
Brock Purdy continues to work his point-guard magic (20-for-21, 283 yards, one touchdown pass, one touchdown run). He took just one sack, threw just one incompletion, didn’t turn the ball over. Mr. Irrelevant turned into Mr. Relevant awfully quick.
The San Francisco schedule is dangerous the next two weeks. The Niners host Dallas next Sunday night, and in Week 6 it’s a road date against the formidable Cleveland defense. And when the Yahoo crew convenes for a Fantasy Football re-draft on Monday, I suspect we’ll be hearing McCaffrey’s name called first.
With bye weeks arriving, trade season begins
We've stepped into October and the bye weeks start in Week 5. Don't let the bye weeks stress you out, they are actually great opportunities to show your fantasy skill. First off, bye weeks require greater league knowledge and scouting base, and as a good player, it will help you gain an advantage.
But there's another key point of bye weeks that I want you to grasp — the first bye week signals the start of trading season in fantasy football. Managers generally aren't eager to shake things up around the draft; everyone is thinking optimistically then. But now your league standings have some personality and some separation to them; some teams have acquired leverage, while other teams might be desperate.
If you're a leverage team, it's a great time to trade for an impact player who's on a struggling team. Maybe that other manager can't wait out a bye week or an injury; he or she might need to win right away. Conversely, if you're off to a horrible start, perhaps you're the manager who needs to trade tomorrow for the best possible today. No matter where you sit, it's an important week to audit the rosters and the standings of your league.
• If you told me Isiah Pacheco was the early-round pick and Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the seventh-round story, I'd believe it. Pacheco finishes his runs and embraces contact, which can be a gift and curse. You love backs who fight for every yard, but he's also taking the heaviest shots from the defense. If healthy, he's capable of being inside the RB1 cutline.
• All we want from the Jets quarterback room is some hope, and Zach Wilson improbably gave us some Sunday night. He's never going to be a star, and even asking him to be league-average could be too tall an order. But he peppered Garrett Wilson off the bus, and that's what we want.
• If you were entering a redraft this moment, Justin Jefferson and Christian McCaffrey would go 1-2, in some order. Who's No. 3? Bijan Robinson, despite the scuffling support in Atlanta? Austin Ekeler, off a multi-week injury? Tyreek Hill? Stefon Diggs? If I don't land the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in our staff redraft for Monday (we'll write it up), I hope I land at the end of the round.
• Calvin Ridley was widely celebrated as a colossal league-winner after a monster debut, which was really a monster half. He's done little in the three games since: 7-110-1 on 17 targets. Touchdown deodorant saved him in London, and the Jaguars only targeted him twice. Perhaps Ridley is closer to being a boom-bust WR2 than a true every-week consistent WR1. His summer ADP (mostly third round) feels about right.
• The Bears remain one of the messiest franchises in the league, but Khalil Herbert separated himself from Roschon Johnson on Sunday, and DJ Moore quietly is on a 17-276-2 binge over the last three weeks. Justin Fields looks reluctant to run; bad for his fantasy value, but good for Moore.
• Sean Payton is one of the brightest play designers in the league, but his sparse use of splash-play rookie Marvin Mims makes zero sense, unless you believe the Broncos are trying to showcase their nominal starters at the wideout position. Russell Wilson's target tree was the phone book Sunday, with 11 different players drawing an opportunity. Mims only ran 10 routes, which is malpractice. Let your best players be your best players, man.
• The only coach in the league who could hold down A.J. Brown was Arthur Smith, when they were both in Tennessee. Smith is now working his magic in Atlanta, where Kyle Pitts and Drake London might as well be on milk cartons. Philadelphia's usage tree is delightfully narrow, but Dallas Goedert doing nothing for a month is a puzzler.
• There are no indelible takeaways from the Browns offense, given that they had to play with a fifth-round rookie quarterback, not Deshaun Watson. Throw this result in the shredder. But I'm surprised many fantasy pundits see Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore essentially as equals; I'll rank a healthy Cooper a full tier higher for the balance of the season. Moore is still trying to prove he belongs in the league as a starter.
• The catches and yards finally came together for Jake Ferguson, and the touchdowns aren't far behind; he's been absorbing red-zone targets. He's an easy top 10 tight end if he stays healthy, and top 5 might be doable with even average touchdown luck.