Carson Wentz has been the worst quarterback in the NFL. No qualified signal caller has a lower QB rating than Wentz’s 63.9. His six picks through three starts are just one shy of his season totals from each of the past three years. Wentz’s off-target throw percentage is an unseemly, and career worst, 23. Only Dwayne Haskins has been worse on PFF. Only Haskins and Sam Darnold have worse QBRs. You get the picture.
So it’s time for the Eagles to make a change, right? We know it’s not that simple. Coach Doug Pederson dismissed the idea out of hand Monday morning. “No, you don’t go there,” Pederson said on the radio. “That’s a knee-jerk reaction.” Pederson is right. Jalen Hurts — who is not exactly known as a paragon of accuracy — isn’t about to turn things around with a battered supporting cast that is once again down to only Zach Ertz after DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert departed with injuries against the Bengals.
This has to come from within Wentz, who has righted the ship in the past. The storm has never been this severe, but ups and downs have come to define Wentz’s play. The variable this time is an offensive line that has never been this injured before. With no time to throw to a receiver group that might as well not be on the field, what is the path to rejuvenation? It will have to include some of Wentz’s 2019 role player all stars like Greg Ward and Boston Scott. Miles Sanders taking his expected sophomore leap. Ertz once again absorbing 10-12 weekly targets. Alshon Jeffery running a few routes. D-Jax, at some point, actually staying healthy for a game or two. As much as this is a Wentz problem, it’s also an Eagles problem. Pederson and GM Howie Roseman tried to squeeze a little too much juice out of the Eagles’ 2017 championship core.
Benching Wentz won’t make the Eagles better. It will make your fantasy team better. That’s really what it comes down to right now. Wentz Houdini’d in 2019. Let’s see if he can do it again.
Five Week 3 Storylines
Darrell Henderson continues to lay down the law in Rams backfield. Henderson got the start and reached 120 yards from scrimmage for the second straight game. With Cam Akers (ribs) on the shelf, Henderson out-touched Malcolm Brown 21-7 and once again looked dangerous going downhill. He of the 8.2 YPC at Memphis didn’t hit any home runs — Henderson’s long run went for 14 — but he averaged 5.7 yards per pop by routinely gaining 6-7 yards even as he ran right into the teeth of the Bills’ defense. Coach Sean McVay has seemed enchanted by the idea of a true committee this season, but Henderson’s past two performances are going to put that to the test. Henderson has left behind his lost rookie year to look like a legitimate weapon. He will be a top-20 option with week-winning upside vs. the Giants this Sunday.
Justin Jefferson vaporizes slow start with 175-yard outburst. Jefferson has now led the Vikings in receiving in back-to-back games. The difference this time was 131 yards. The No. 22 overall pick had 100 before the break, with the highlight a 71-yard touchdown where he played the safety and corner against each other before jigging, quite literally, into the end zone. It was an impossible-to-see-coming performance that makes a little sense in hindsight. The Vikings, or any offense for that matter, simply were not going to make it with only one weapon in the passing game. They had to establish someone, anyone opposite Adam Thielen, and thankfully for them, their first-rounder was up to the task. This could still be an uphill battle in fantasy. The run-obsessed Vikings just got a 181-yard day out of Dalvin Cook. They aren’t going to all of a sudden allow Jefferson to be Stefon Diggs. But where I did not previously see a path to 2020 re-draft relevance, Jefferson showed how silly that was.
Joe Burrow rides volume to another 300-yard day. Burrow’s 91 completions through his first three games are a rookie record. Volume in and of itself, of course, isn’t necessarily good, but Burrow has known what to do with it. Playing behind a decayed offensive line, Burrow is getting the ball out quickly and decisively. PFF charts only seven quarterbacks as being quicker to the draw thus far. Burrow is also avoiding mistakes, committing only two turnovers even as he’s absorbed a ridiculous 14 sacks. That tells the real story. This won’t keep up if the Bengals can’t find more ways to keep Burrow on his feet. The rookie is so far making lemonade out of lemons. Just don’t let him fall into the Darnold drink. Burrow has Week 4 streamer appeal vs. the Jaguars.
Bears finally begin painful process of ending Mitchell Trubisky era. Sunday was a surprising time for the Trubisky era to end — really, at the end of the day, what was different? — but the long overdue decision will make the Bears better going forward, if only marginally. Whereas Trubes was struggling to move the ball against a defense that entered the week allowing over 370 passing yards per game, Nick Foles rather easily completed 16-of-29 passes for 188 yards and three scores. Miraculously, coach Matt Nagy’s quarterback crisis comes as he sits at 3-0. Foles isn’t good, but if you’re going to try to “sit on a lead” and smoke and mirrors your way through the NFC North, he is a vastly superior option to Trubisky. Despite what Sunday might suggest, Foles will not be a regular fantasy streamer. The weapons simply are not there, and the Bears are entering a much more difficult portion of the schedule.
Diontae Johnson suffers concussion vs. Texans. Third in the league in targets headed into Week 3, Johnson made it only two catchless looks before departing vs. Houston. It was actually a rush where he was injured, taking a big hit at the end of an end around. Already proven to be a critical part of the Steelers’ reviving offense, Johnson will have a plus Week 4 spot in the Titans if he can return. What follows is a dicier three-game slate of vs. PHI, vs. CLE and @BAL before a mouthwatering trio of @DAL, vs. CIN, @JAX. Johnson maintains WR2 ceiling and floor.
Five More Week 3 Storylines
Allen Lazard erupts for 6/146/1 in Davante Adams’ absence. It was the game the Packers had to have with Adams on the shelf, and an effort they have been waiting for since 2019. Adams has been single handedly keeping the Packers’ receiver corps afloat for seemingly years, but how much longer could a team with championship aspirations count on that? Running back Aaron Jones can’t be the No. 2 receiver. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has maxed out as a role player. That’s what Lazard is probably destined to be, too, though six of his seven biggest receiving performances, each greater than 45 yards, have now come since last Week 13. He’s averaging 85 yards in 2020. Lazard’s future will probably still most likely hold WR4 status in fantasy, but even if Adams returns for Week 4, Lazard will be a WR3 streamer vs. the Falcons.
Brandon Aiyuk totals 101 yards, scores rushing touchdown. 5/70 as a receiver, Aiyuk went 3/31/1 on the ground, with the rushing score coming on a 19-yard end around where he sliced through the defense. Even at full health, the Niners are low on proven playmakers. In their current state, they are downright desperate. Aiyuk has the skill and 49ers have the will to make this happen. Even if George Kittle manages to return for Week 4 against the Eagles, Aiyuk is now officially a top-48 option. He will have the upside for more in Week 5 vs. the Dolphins, but that is also the date the Niners are ticketing for Deebo Samuel’s return. Ultimately, Aiyuk’s volume in a run-first offense will probably be too limited for the No. 25 overall pick to push for WR3 value.
Recently-extended Tarik Cohen suffers torn ACL. Cohen had to be carried off the field one week after signing a three-year, $17.25 million extension. His loss leaves the Bears with one of the league’s thinnest backfields, as well as one of the shallowest receiver corps. Even as they paid him, the Bears seemed to have little idea how to properly use Cohen this season, but whomever receives his lost touches will be unlikely to be an upgrade. With only Ryan Nall behind David Montgomery on the depth chart — unless you are willing to count Cordarrelle Patterson — the Bears are going to have to dip into the free agent market for some depth. Cohen wouldn’t normally be the kind of player you cut loose in a Dynasty league, but a 5-foot-6 25-year-old, you’ve almost certainly already seen Cohen’s best football.
Andy Isabella emerges for two-touchdown game. With Christian Kirk once again injured and Larry Fitzgerald fading into old age, the Cardinals badly need someone to emerge opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Enter big-play threat Isabella, who commanded only four Sunday targets but made them count. For score No. 1, Isabella ran a perfectly-executed corner route to beat Darryl Roberts in the end zone. For No. 2, a four-yarder, Isabella shook a tackle at the goal line. A former second-round pick whose on-paper résumé says he’s capable of making big plays at every level of the field, Isabella is worth a flier as the Cardinals head into a gloriously soft portion of their schedule.
Dwayne Haskins draws closer to benching. “Any volume is good volume” isn’t a fantasy football axiom, but it should be. That is, unless your quarterback is Dwayne Haskins. One-read Dwayne is funneling targets Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas’ way, but they have to do everything themselves. McLaurin has the YAC tools. Thomas does not. Without higher-quality looks, McLaurin will be at the mercy of creating his own space while Thomas will have nowhere to go. Coach Ron Rivera admitted Monday that Haskins’ time was running short. "There is a cut-off point for me,” Rivera said of his patience, before adding that Haskins’ supporting cast “deserves better.” That is as brutal of a public quarterback assessment as you will ever hear from a head coach. Kyle Allen is Kyle Allen, but we know he would supply enough vanilla looks to stabilize McLaurin and Thomas’ floors.
1. If you aren’t firing Dan Quinn and Adam Gase today — which, you aren’t — why does the concept of firing exist at all?
2. Can anyone find the lease agreement for the 49ers’ second-string offense and MetLife Stadium?
3. What exactly would get Sean Payton to stop using Taysom Hill?
Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. SEA), Baker Mayfield (@DAL), Kirk Cousins (@HOU), Teddy Bridgewater (vs. AZ), Philip Rivers (@CHI), Justin Herbert (@TB), Derek Carr (vs. BUF), Nick Mullens (@PHI)
RB: Myles Gaskin, Carlos Hyde, Rex Burkhead, Chase Edmonds, Jeff Wilson, Lamical Perine, Brian Hill
WR: Allen Lazard, Justin Jefferson, Preston Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Corey Davis, Tre’Quan Smith, N’Keal Harry, Michael Pittman, Tee Higgins, Andy Isabella, Hunter Renfrow, Alshon Jeffery
TE: Logan Thomas, Mo Alie-Cox, Dalton Schultz, Eric Ebron, Jimmy Graham, Robert Tonyan, Drew Sample
DEF: Broncos (@NYJ), Bengals (vs. JAX), Seahawks (@MIA), Raiders (vs. BUF)
Stats of the Week
As John Daigle points out, it’s happening again for Austin Ekeler with Justin Herbert under center. Ekeler has recorded 15 targets and a 20 percent target share over Herbert’s two starts. This, after he drew one look from TyRod Taylor in Week 1.
6-5-2. That was Wayne Gallman’s “touch advantage” over Devonta Freeman and Dion Lewis. As feared, the Giants’ post Saquon Barkley “committee” is a fantasy wasteland. Freeman is the only player worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues.
Justin Jefferson has already beaten Laquon Treadwell's career high for yardage by 117
Five. The number of snaps D’Andre Swift played against the Cardinals. The Lions need to rectify this before they let Swift’s Week 1 drop become a David Wilson situation.
DeAndre Hopkins, who has 32 catches through three contests, gets the Panthers, Jets, Cowboys, Seahawks and Dolphins in his next five games.
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows lays it out for the 49ers: "49ers offense missing its top QB, RB, TE, WR, C has gone over 30 points in two straight games."
Tweet of the Week, from the Atlanta Falcons: What went wrong in the 4th quarter this week? The team breaks it down on the Postgame Breakdown presented by AT&T.
The I Am Sorry To Be Cruel Award, But… : Me going back in time and to tell 2016 Jets fans that the 2020 Dolphins will be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick with play-caller Chan Gailey and have a better offense than the 2020 Jets
The It’s The Fourth Quarter of a Game That Could Decide Home-Field Advantage Award: The Saints letting Taysom Hill lose a fumble against the Packers.
Taysom Hill Tweet of the Week, from Peter Bukowski: This is why no other teams run wildcat with their backup tight end/punt gunners.
Best Russell Wilson Theory, from Captain Serious: It took eight years of establishing the run to open things up for him.
The Boy This Is Going To Be Extra Painful This Year Award: The Eagles winning the NFC East.