Photo: Jeff Hartman|behindthesteelcurtain.com
What a week in football. Apparently Josh Allen is Minnesota’s Kryptonite. And the 49ers’ season ended abruptly with Jimmy Garoppolo's knee injury. Then the Lions, led by rookie head coach Matt Patricia, got their first win of the year in a dominant 26-10 performance over the New England Patriots. As a Lions fan, it feels so good to write that sentence.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s action, I’m tuning-in to watch the Eagles take on the Titans in Tennessee. It may not always be pretty, but both teams are getting it done, sitting at 2-1 apiece. The Titans’ defense has looked really good and they’re coming off a dominant performance in a win over the Jaguars. How will Carson Wentz, who led the Eagles to a victory over the Colts last week, perform against that unit in just his second start of the year?
Another game to keep an eye on is Cleveland at Oakland in the “Battle of Cities Ending in ‘Land’”. Which will be victorious? Seriously though. Baker Mayfield ended Cleveland’s painful losing streak by leading a comeback win against the Jets and was named the starter for the Browns. As a fan of football, I’m excited. I think Mayfield can end up being one of the league’s best QBs in time. The ability is there. Getting to see the #1 overall draft pick in his first career start is enough reason for me to watch. And he’s got the perfect defensive matchup for it, too.
With that brief recap/outlook out of the way, here are some of the AFC's top performers from this past week.
QB: Patrick Mahomes, KC
Week 3 Stats: 24/38 passing, 314 yards, 3 touchdowns; 5 carries, 7 yards.
He just keeps getting it done. At this rate, Mahomes will take home the MVP trophy in his first year as an NFL starter. The touchdown numbers we have seen him produce are unprecedented through three weeks of a season. Keep rolling with Mahomes if you have him on your roster.
RB: Carlos Hyde, CLE
23 carries, 98 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 5 yards.
Yardage-wise, it wasn’t a great week for AFC running backs. Hyde nearly reached 100 yards, however, and punched it into the endzone twice, helping Cleveland to their first win since 2016. Going forward, Hyde has been shown as a focal point of the Browns’ offense and he’s a solid RB2/Flex going forward.
RB: Kareem Hunt, KC
18 carries, 44 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Hunt didn’t have the type of game I was expecting. We’re still waiting on the big breakout game but he turned out to be a good play this week anyway, as he scored twice. The 49ers defense did a nice job in holding him to 2.4 YPC. The touchdowns saved his week, but he’s still a no-doubt starter going forward. Even in the Mahomes offense, he’s getting a nice amount of touches each game.
WR: Jordy Nelson, OAK
6 receptions, 173 yards, 1 touchdown.
Well, the pattern I saw to suggest Amari Cooper was a solid start this week… it was right. Miami’s defense allowed a large game to a single receiver. I just picked the wrong Raider to have a big game. Nelson showed the world he can still ball out by torching the Dolphins. He was the only Raiders wide receiver to have more than 30 yards against them. However, the first two games of the year were unimpressive for Nelson. Was this just a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come?
WR: Mike Williams, LAC
4 receptions, 81 yards, 2 touchdowns.
I was unsure how to value Williams to begin the year. He’s an impressive talent but lost most of his rookie season to injuries and the talk around him seemed quiet, but maybe I was looking in the wrong places. He’s looked just alright to start 2018 but had a really nice day against the undefeated LA Rams. He will continue to trend upward as he continues to earn Philip Rivers’ trust, and more targets.
TE: Vance McDonald, PIT
4 receptions, 112 yards, 1 touchdown.
Something about those Pittsburgh tight ends lately. McDonald gained the majority of his yardage on a 75 yard touchdown, where he ruthlessly stiff-armed an unfortunate Buccaneers defensive back en-route to the endzone. It seems to be a 50/50 coinflip on which of Big Ben’s TEs will be highlighted each week. Start at your own risk.
Josh Allen, QB, BUF
15/22 passing, 196 yards, 1 touchdown; 10 carries, 39 yards, 2 touchdowns.
I wanted to give a shout out to the rookie QB who killed the Vikings and that ferocious defense -- and no one saw it coming. Congrats to the two people who thought it would be a funny joke to start Allen against Minnesota. I mean, I don’t even think his family started him this week on their fantasy teams. Will it continue? It’s possible but I’m not sold and I’m not looking to add Allen on my roster just yet. A few more games like this though…
Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN
6 receptions, 132 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 carry, 5 yards.
This could be a player to keep an eye on going forward. Boyd seems to be settling in as the #2 receiver for the Bengals and is trending up after a couple strong performances in a row. He should definitely be rostered in standard formats and might even have Flex value right now.
Players to Watch
Jakeem Grant, WR, MIA
2 receptions, 70 yards, 2 touchdowns; 105 kick return yards.
If you’re in a league that awards points for kick return yards, Grant is a must-add. He’s one to keep an eye on in all formats though due to his ability to take it to the house on every play. That could earn him more of a role in the Dolphins offense.
Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
17/23 passing, 201 yards; 2 carries, -2 yards; 2-PT conversion reception.
It’s showtime in Cleveland. I think it’s going to be a fun ride for Browns fans. There are just certain guys with that “it” factor, and Mayfield has it. He’s shown he can never be counted out and has earned his chance to play everywhere he’s ever played. He’s a hard worker and that team just rallies around him. I’m a Tyrod Taylor fan, so I feel for him on how this played out. He was injured against the Jets, causing Mayfield to have to enter the game in the first place. Mayfield isn’t on my fantasy radar yet but this week, he's one of the top players to watch.