Jimmy Garoppolo had never lost a game entering 2018. He’s lost his season just three games into it. Seeking extra yards down the sideline, Garoppolo made a reckless decision when he lowered his throwing shoulder into Chiefs CB Steven Nelson. He appeared to be concussed following Nelson’s thundering blow. Instead, it was actually Garoppolo’s awkward knee placement milliseconds earlier that ended his campaign. Diagnosis: Torn left ACL and MCL.
A 49ers season already off to a bumpy start is now officially over. Their best-laid plans are laid up as Garoppolo goes on the mend. Patience will be in short supply as the 49ers suffer through yet another rebuilding year but of the utmost importance. This is a roster that did not appear ready for prime time even with Garoppolo. Without him, it will be back to competing for the No. 1 overall pick. It’s a cruel development for a franchise that has done almost everything right since moving on from Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly. It deserves better.
Garoppolo remains the quarterback of the future but will be no spring chicken by the time he returns. He’ll be 27 with just 10 career starts next Week 1. Benefit of the doubt will be in shorter supply than it was this season. That’s not fair, but it certainly is football. For 2018, C.J. Beathard at least appears to have more upside than a Tom Savage. That’s about it. His insertion under center renders Marquise Goodwin a WR4 and George Kittle more of a mid-range than high-end TE1. Matt Breida and Alfred Morris’ importance only grows on the ground.
We have been robbed of one of the 2018’s most compelling storylines. Football gods, please let us keep Patrick Mahomes.
Five Week 3 Storylines
Tom Brady and the Patriots’ woes deepen against the Lions. It was an “on to Cincinnati”-type performance. The Pats got utterly dominated as Brady was erased by a defense that couldn’t contain Sam Darnold two weeks ago. Entering the game with an uncharacteristic 6.91 YPA, Brady got absolutely nothing going down the field, lofting arm punts like he was 2015 Peyton Manning. He found none of his pass catchers more than four times as he completed just 14 passes. Like any other quarterback, Brady has these games every once in a while. His most recent came last Week 14 against the Dolphins in Miami. That’s who is on tap for Week 4. The sides will be meeting in New England this time around, a place where the Dolphins have not won since 2008. Matt Cassel was under center for the Patriots that year. There are genuine reasons for concern. Miami’s defense has been upstart while Brady’s YPA has fallen all the way to 6.44. He has precious few weapons. The biggest reason for optimism is Josh Gordon’s Week 4 unveiling. It’s clearer than ever why the Patriots are rolling the dice on someone not even the Browns could find a home for. One day, Brady will begin a slump that does not end. It’s still far too early to say this is the one.
Josh Allen helps Bills spring upset in Minnesota. Over the summer, I became an expert at making the negative case for Allen. On Sunday, he put the positive one on film. Allen was fearless — sometimes too much so, as in this first quarter hurdle — helping the Bills spring quite literally one of the biggest upsets of all time. Playing with the league’s worst supporting cast, Allen generated 196 yards passing on just 22 attempts (8.90), adding 10/39/2 on the ground. The Vikings seemed ill-prepared for his dual-threat day and were in a trance as the Bills stormed out to a 27-0 halftime lead. The Bills would not score after the break, but the message had already been sent. Allen is not just a “bust” player. The “boom” is real, too. Repeat performances will remain difficult. The only thing worse than Allen’s receiver corps is his offensive line. The desperate Packers will be more ready for him in Week 4 than the Vikings were. None of that changes the fact that Sunday was a legitimate building block performance.
Calvin Ridley explodes for three touchdowns against Saints. Yes, it’s true. Ridley really did match Julio Jones’ 2017 touchdown total in one half. His three scores are also three more than his future Hall-of-Fame teammate has this season. It’s hard to say what it all means. What it does not mean is a changing of the guard at receiver in Atlanta. Jones’ 329 yards are good for fourth in the league. Ridley’s outburst came after he caught just four balls for 64 yards across Weeks 1 and 2. He will remain a volatile player going forward, but to be volatile in fantasy football means you have both upside and downside. We saw the latter Ridley’s first two games. Now we know the former. Ridley is a must add in all formats as a potential fill-in WR3 for bye weeks.
A.J. Green tweaks groin, insists it’s not serious. Green was forced from Cincinnati’s 10-point loss to the Panthers on the opening series of the second half. In his absence, Andy Dalton ended up throwing four interceptions. Afterwards, Green claimed he would be fine for the Bengals’ Week 4 matchup with the Falcons. If he sits, it would be a huge loss for the Bengals and an even bigger one for fantasy owners. Atlanta will be fresh off getting gutted by both Drew Brees and Cam Newton. An inactive would make it the second time in three years Green has missed time with a soft-tissue injury.
Evan Engram sprains MCL against Texans. Engram had caught just one pass for 19 yards before going down in the first half. He was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game, which is usually the sign of serious injury. Alas, the Monday news was good following an MRI. Engram is going to miss time — including this week’s mouthwatering matchup with the Saints — but not enough that he should be dropped in fantasy leagues. Engram’s biggest concern remains Eli Manning’s erratic play under center.
Five More Week 3 Storylines
Cardinals finally pull the plug on Sam Bradford experiment. Bradford’s best game of the season was also the one that got him benched. After a hot start — he threw his first two scores of the year in the first half — Bradford predictably cratered after the break, giving the Cardinals legitimately no shot against a Bears team experiencing dispiriting quarterback play of its own. It was an entirely predictable outcome for anyone who saw Bradford play in Weeks 1 and 2. Going to Josh Rosen should have been a no-brainer. Except … the Cardinals waited until there were four minutes remaining to do so, opting to hand off the baton after the Bears’ elite defense had finally been given a lead. The results were predictably disastrous, with Rosen throwing a pick and only escaping a pick six by the grace of an offsides penalty. The Cardinals could have given Rosen seven days to prepare for Khalil Mack. Instead, he got four minutes. The process of getting to Rosen could not have been more inept. Thankfully, the results have nowhere to go but up on Bradford’s league-worst 2018 play.
Dolphins do their best Chiefs impression. The Dolphins are 10-1 over Ryan Tannehill’s past 11 starts. Don’t look now? Whereas coach Adam Gase relied on smoke and mirrors in 2016, his 2018 approach has been Andy Reid lite. Using exotic plays and formations, Gase is putting his bevy of game-breakers in position to make plays. They delivered in spades against the Raiders. Albert Wilson threw a 52-yard touchdown ran for a 74-yard score on a shovel pass. Jakeem Grant looked like a poor man’s Tyreek Hill as he found the pay dirt twice. DeVante Parker made a huge play down the sideline. Kenny Stills caught a perfect 34-yard pass in the end zone. Gase put on a clinic with his play-calling and his players executed to perfection. Week 4 in New England has the makings of a moment of truth for both teams.
Chris Carson finally takes control of the Seahawks’ backfield. Two losses into a lost season, Pete Carroll finally put his money where his mouth is, committing to Carson for 34 touches as Rashaad Penny played just 10 snaps. Carson ground out 124 yards as the Seahawks notched their first victory. It’s unclear if the commitment would have taken place had Penny not botched a first half handoff, but the gaffe was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back, not a one-off. Penny’s snap counts have descended from 25 to 20 to 10. Desperate for an identity, the Seahawks’ offense seems all but certain to hitch its run game wagon to Carson for the foreseeable future. Despite their overall struggles, Week 4 opponent Arizona has been stout against the run since getting torched by Adrian Peterson in Week 1.
Randall Cobb has dreadful day against Redskins. Cobb was stunningly bad in Washington, committing a brutal third down drop in the first before following it up with an even worse fourth down drop in the second. For his next trick, he committed what amounted to a game-ending fumble for the rallying Packers. That’s to say nothing of the miscommunication he had with Aaron Rodgers that nearly resulted in an interception. Now awful in back-to-back weeks, Cobb has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 105 out of 109 receivers. It’s the worst start he could have had after summer rumblings that the Pack were looking to trade him. It has also happened as Geronimo Allison has continued to come into his own as a playmaker. With the Packers’ margin for error dropping as the losses pile up and Rodgers’ knee swells up, Cobb is in danger of seeing his playing time cut.
Tyler Boyd continues to emerge for Bengals. Boyd caught six passes for the second straight week, upping his Week 2 yardage total from 91 to 132. A.J. Green’s (groin) absence played a part, but Boyd is firmly entrenched as Andy Dalton’s No. 2 wideout. He has blown by John Ross on the depth chart and erased memories of a lost 2017 where he spent time as a healthy scratch. Praised by Dalton during the week, Boyd was his quarterback’s preferred target when under pressure in Carolina. Boyd has locked himself in as a WR4 and could become the fantasy WR3 behind Green the Bengals have lacked since Marvin Jones left for Detroit.
1. Steve Wilks … I have questions, namely … why?
2. Have the Patriots really thought through having a third-string running back be their No. 1 receiver?
3. Jags, what's up with the Steelersing? (Routing great team and then losing to bad team)
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Baker Mayfield (@OAK), Andy Dalton (@ATL), Ryan Tannehill (@NE), Josh Allen (@GB), Eli Manning (vs. NO), Joe Flacco (@PIT)
RB: Jordan Wilkins, Ronald Jones, Ty Montgomery, Chris Ivory
WR: Calvin Ridley, Chris Godwin, Geronimo Allison, Antonio Callaway, Tyler Boyd
TE: Ben Watson, Austin Hooper, Ricky Seals-Jones, Ian Thomas
DEF: Packers (vs. BUF), Lions (@DAL), Bucs (@CHI), Colts (vs. HOU), Jets (@JAX), Seahawks (@AZ), Cardinals (vs. SEA)
Stats of the Week
Via the Associated Press: The Raiders have not trailed for a single snap in Quarters 1-3. They are 0-3.
The Vikings had four running back carries in their blowout loss to the Bills (lol). Football Outsiders’ Scott Kacsmar found that was tied for the fewest by any team since 2001.
Drew Brees is more than one third of the way to his 2017 touchdown total through three games. Positive regression is real and spectacular.
However many of the weeks of the season there have been, just assume Patrick Mahomes holds the record for touchdowns at that juncture.
Andrew Luck’s YPA is a sub-Flacco-ian 5.34. He was yanked on a hail mary attempt for Jacoby Brissett. This is not a good situation.
Amazingly, Kirk Cousins’ 296 yards were just the 20th fewest ever for a quarterback attempting 55 or more passes.
Week 3 Fantasy All-Pro Team: QB Matt Ryan, RB Alvin Kamara, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Calvin Ridley, WR Robert Woods, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Travis Kelce
Deranged Coach Quote of the Week: John Harbaugh on Javorius Allen: "I think Buck Allen has really become one of the real legitimate players in this league — kind of quietly. He's become a top-level player. I'm really, really happy for him." Allen has 16 carries for 32 yards this season.
Tweet of the Week, From Rotoworld’s Jesse Pantuosco: This has to be the last decade of Garrett's coaching tenure in Dallas
Tweet of the Week II, From The Ringer’s Kevin Clark: Vontae Davis Ewing Theory
Literally Picked Off On A Screen Award: Mitchell Trubisky.
The Not Recommended At Home Award: Drew Brees’ ox-powered spin move against the Falcons.
Future 42-24 Victory Award: The Patriots over the Dolphins this week. (I kid … I hope).
Power Move of the Week Award: Phillip Lindsay getting ejected from the bottom of a pile.
Future Seahawk Award: Benched Giants RT Ereck Flowers.
The Futility of Trying Award: Clay Matthews attempting legal sacks.