There were plenty of big games this weekend, but the two biggest came from wide receivers, one, who is the best in the game and another who was a surprise, but has a lot of talent and room to get better. Both were exciting to watch and why I love the NFL. Let’s take a look.
Calvin Johnson: There was no stopping Johnson on Sunday. It didn’t really matter where Matthew Stafford threw the ball because he caught almost everything, even if defenders were draping him. He came just seven yards short of tying Flipper Anderson’s record for receiving yards in a game with his 14-of-16 receptions for 329 yards and a touchdown day. He is only the third receiver to top 300 yards and he now has five games with over 200 yards receiving and has tied Lance Alworth for the most games with that distinction, but I think Megatron gets the tie-breaker with his 300 yard game.
Marvin Jones: In the last three weeks Jones has caught 15 passes for 250 yards and six touchdowns. Eight receptions, 122 yards and four touchdowns all came against the Jets on Sunday. Jones was a touchdown fiend and made some great plays as he caught every one of his eight targets. He only needed one more to tie for the record, but unfortunately the Bengals had to let their cleats off the Jets throats.
That makes three straight games with a touchdown for Jones and with Mohamed Sanu only seeing three targets it looks like Jones is stepping up as the #2 target for Dalton and with the way Dalton has been playing and all the attention A.J. Green receives, he should continue having opportunities.
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Andre Ellington: Rashard Mendenhall has touched the ball 102 times and has totaled 347 yards and three touchdowns. After Andre Ellington finished with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday he had touched the ball 65 times for 531 total yards and three touchdowns this season. Ellington had an 80-yard rushing touchdown and finished with 162 yards on 17 touches. I doubt coach Bruce Arians lets him become the every down back, but it is going to be very tough to not give him more snaps going forward even if Mendenhall returns soon.
Andy Dalton: This is the first five-touchdown game in Dalton’s career and it comes after back-to-back three touchdown games. I’d say he is officially on fire. Over the last three weeks Dalton leads all quarterbacks in fantasy points with a line of 69/104 (66.3%), 1034 yards, 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions. He now has one of the best offensive groups in the NFL and the question has always been; can he lead a group like that all the way? Well, right now he’s off to a good start.
Drew Brees: While Andy Dalton was throwing his first ever five touchdown game, Brees was throwing his eighth on a day it didn’t look like his best receiver would even play. He completed 26-of-34 passes for 332 yards and the aforementioned five touchdowns as he picked apart the Buffalo Bills.
Jimmy Graham: It’s fairly difficult to be a “Weekend Winner” when you only play 20 snaps on a torn up foot and see three targets, but Jimmy Graham just went and did it. He caught those three targets for 37 yards and two touchdowns and currently leads all tight ends in fantasy points.
Jordy Nelson: Nelson is Aaron Rodgers’ most reliable target with Randall Cobb and James Jones out and he proved it against the Vikings as he caught seven of eight targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns. In each game this season he has had 82 receiving yards and/or a touchdown and is on pace for 85 receptions, 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns and with Finley and Cobb out he could easily hit those numbers.
Colin Kaepernick: I’m not sure if fantasy points from London count for American football, but if they do Colin Kaepernick got quite a few of them. He only passed 16 times all day, completing 10 of those for 164 yards and a touchdown, but he got the majority of his fake points on the ground with seven rushing attempts for 54 yards and two touchdowns. This newfound success in the running game has been a big boost to his numbers. He has three rushing touchdowns on the season, all of them in the last two games.
Kenny Stills: Stills is still maddening fantasy football player, but every deep threat for Drew Brees has been. Usually you have to get lucky and strike gold once every few games with a long touchdown, but Stills did it twice against the Bills this week. He only had four targets, but caught three of them for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Dez Bryant: Bryant didn’t put up anything near Calvin Johnson’s numbers, but he did look like a star wide receiver on both of his touchdowns. The first was an acrobatic catch on a short pass in the end zone and the next was a tough grab on the sidelines that he turned upfield showing amazing speed for a player his size. He’ll get plenty of talking-head attention this week for his sideline antics, but he’s the reason they were even in this game.
Josh Gordon: After a down game last week Gordon showed up with yet another quarterback throwing him the ball. It took a while, but Jason Campbell started to connect with Gordon right before the half and he ended up catching five balls for 132 yards and a touchdown. He’s put up big numbers under all kinds of conditions and is always a must start.