Wed Sep 22 3:08am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson gets up after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, right, throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
The rookie class of quarterbacks that entered the season full of fanfare is finding the adjustment to the NFL is not very easy.
Top two picks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson lead the league with five interceptions after opening the season with back-to-back losses, Trey Lance has barely seen the field, and Mac Jones is the only QB to get a win, and that came against Wilson.
That performance by Wilson last week was the worst yet for a rookie as the No. 2 pick threw four interceptions and no TDs in the New York Jets' 25-6 loss to New England. Wilson joined former Jets draft picks Sam Darnold and Mark Sanchez as the only top 10 rookies to throw at least four interceptions and no TDs in the past 15 seasons.
Jacksonville's Lawrence threw three interceptions in the opener against Houston and two more last week against Denver, joining Peyton Manning (six in 1998) and Matthew Stafford (five in 2009) as the only top picks to throw at least five interceptions in the first two weeks of their rookie seasons.
Lance, the third overall pick, threw a TD pass on his first attempt for San Francisco, but didn't even get on the field last week as the Niners stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo the entire way.
Fields, the 11th pick, got some extensive action for Chicago last week after Andy Dalton got hurt, and went 6 for 13 for 60 yards and an interception against Cincinnati.
Jones, the 15th pick, has been the most productive so far, completing 73.9% of his passes for 467 yards and an TD.
The rookie class overall has thrown 12 interceptions, nine TDs and posted a 67.9 rating while losing five of six starts.
In all, six rookie quarterbacks have seen action, with third-rounder Davis Mills also getting into the action for Houston. Mills is slated to start Thursday night for the Texans against Carolina in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor.
This is just the second time since the merger that six QBs have thrown passes in the first two weeks of the season, with the other coming in 1971.
There's a chance that five rookies could start this week if Fields gets the nod in Chicago, with Dalton dealing with a knee injury.
The only other time in the Super Bowl era that five rookies QBs started in a week this early in the season - with the exception of the 1987 replacement players - came in 2012 when Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson all opened the season as starter.
One impressive September streak was snapped last week while another ignominious one was extended.
Patrick Mahomes threw his first career interception in September after 38 career TD passes in the opening month. The Chiefs had thrown 44 TD passes without an interception in September since Alex Smith was picked in the 2016 opener against the Chargers.
The Jets lost their 11th straight September game, becoming the seventh team to do that. The only teams with longer September skids are the Rams with 13 in a row from 2007-10, and the Saints with 12 from 1994-97.
Tennessee's Derrick Henry is a dying breed as a workhorse back who doesn't need to share the load with anyone.
Henry had 35 carries and six receptions in last week's win at Seattle for the the most scrimmage touches in a game since Le'Veon Bell had 42 against the Bills on Dec. 11, 2016.
The only other player in Titans franchise history - which dates to their time in Houston - with at least 40 was Earl Campbell, who had 42 touches against Seattle on Oct. 11, 1981.
Henry ran for 182 yards and three TDs in the game, marking the fourth time in his career he has recorded at least 150 yards rushing and three TDs in a game. The only other players to do that are Hall of Famers Barry Sanders (six), Jim Brown (six), LaDainian Tomlinson (five) and Eric Dickerson (four).
Arizona's Kyler Murray is off to a impressive start to the season after throwing for 400 yards and three TDs and running for a score in Sunday's 34-33 win over Minnesota.
Murray also threw four TD passes and ran for a score in the opener at Tennessee, becoming the first player with at least three TD passes and a TD run in his team's first two games of a season.
Murray now has 12 career games with both a passing and rushing touchdown, the fourth most for a QB in his first three seasons. Only Cam Newton (20 games), Josh Allen (16) and Dak Prescott (13) have more.
OPENING DRIVE WOES
The Cowboys finally ended their opening drive TD drought when Tony Pollard scored on a 4-yard run on the first possession against the Chargers. Dallas had gone 20 straight games without scoring a TD on its first possession.
The Cowboys had been tied for the longest active streak with the Broncos, who have now gone 21 straight games without an opening drive TD since Drew Lock threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant against Houston on Dec. 8, 2019.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) was placed on the Injured Reserve Saturday, sidelining him for the next three weeks. McCaffrey was able to practice in a limited fashion for four straight sessions spanning from last week to the beginning of this week but was downgraded to a non-participant on Thursday and Friday, suggesting a setback likely occurred at practice. It's an eerily similar situation to last year for the All-Pro running back, who missed a total of 13 games due to a variety of injuries, with the team constantly deeming him "hopeful" to suit up but later ruling him out. It's fair to question if this move is something that should have happened a few weeks ago, given McCaffrey's recent injury history. The Panthers may have to seriously consider reducing the workload of their $64 million star halfback when he returns to preserve his body. In the meantime, Chuba Hubbard, coming off his first career 100-yard game, will be an every-week starter at running back for those lucky enough to scoop him up off waivers.
The Panthers placed Christian McCaffrey on Injured Reserve on Saturday, meaning he will be out at least the next three games.He apparently had a setback with his hamstring injury this week, leading him to land on Injured Reserve.
The Indianapolis Colts activated wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (neck) from Injured Reserve on Saturday, and he's likely to make his season debut in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. It remains to be seen how many snaps Hilton will actually play this Sunday after Hilton was pumping the brakes earlier this week on whether he'd actually play in Week 6. The 31-year-old should eventually return to a starting role on the outside across from second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and his return is bad news for Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell moving forward. The four-time Pro Bowler started off excruciatingly slow in 2020 before picking things up late, and he finished with 56 catches (93 targets) for 762 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. It wouldn't be wise to throw Hilton into starting lineups immediately, and his chemistry with quarterback Carson Wentz will be worth watching.
The Indianapolis Colts placed kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (groin) on Injured Reserve on Saturday and elevated kicker Michael Badgley and safety Jordan Lucas from the practice squad to the active roster in corresponding moves. Blankenship had already been ruled out for Week 6 against the Houston Texans, but he'll now be forced to miss at least an additional two games now. The 24-year-old had been a weekly streaming option at the kicker position by making 11 of his 14 field-goal tries (5-for-7 from 40-plus yards) and seven of his eight extra points. Badgley was cut by the Tennessee Titans after he missed his only field goal and one of his two extra points in the season opener. He should be avoided for fantasy purposes while Blankenship is out.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton on Saturday, Oct. 16, was activated off the Reserve/Injured list, and is expected to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: You'll need to make sure he's active first, but Hilton is finally looks ready to go after recovering from a neck injury. Plug him in if you're desperate for wide receiver help, but otherwise it might be best to keep him on the bench this week and see how he fits into Indy's plans.
Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano (hamstring) on Saturday, Oct. 16, is practicing for a third straight day after missing Week 5.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) has been ruled out in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears because of a shoulder injury he suffered in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Green Bay will also be without starting corner Jaire Alexander (shoulder) after he went on Injured Reserve last week. It may not matter, though, as Chicago has the fewest passing yards (566) in the league and the second-fewest pass attempts (122) through five games. The Packers will only have one of their top three corners available on Sunday in first-rounder Eric Stokes. Stokes and Yiadom will likely start on the outside, with Chandon Sullivan in the slot in nickel packages. Green Bay will obviously be more vulnerable in the secondary this weekend, but they'll still be worth streaming consideration in Week 6 against rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
Former New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is now fully vaccinated and is still looking to find a team in 2021, according to sources. The topic of Newton not being vaccinated was a big topic of discussion in the preseason when he was still a member of the Patriots after he was forced to miss five days due to the league's COVID-19 testing protocols. Some wonder whether the Patriots decision to cut Newton had anything to do with the fact that he was not vaccinated at the time. It's questionable how much the 32-year-old has left in the tank, but he could latch on with another team as an experienced backup or emergency starter. It remains to be seen if Newton will find another team in 2021, but the fact that he's now vaccinated should make him more attractive to interested teams.
The Miami Dolphins officially activated quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) off Injured Reserve on Saturday, and he is on track to start in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Dolphins also elevated wide receivers Isaiah Ford and Kirk Merritt from the practice squad to the active roster for this weekend's game. Tagovailoa returned to practice this week and avoided any setbacks, so the 23-year-old second-year signal-caller will take over as the starter after fracturing his ribs in Week 2. His return is good news for the offense, but the dual-threat QB has largely underwhelmed since becoming the starter in Week 7 last year. Tagovailoa was 16-for-27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the season-opening loss to the New England Patriots. The Jags are a nice matchup to return to, but Tagovailoa will remain a low-end QB2 until further notice.
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith hasn't been able to make much of an impact with his new team. Through five games, Smith has 15 receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. Smith has failed to surpass 28 yards in each of the last four games, which is certainly frustrating considering the amount of upside he possess. Fellow tight end Hunter Henry has scored in each of the last two games. He appears to be the much better option between the two. Smith will be a deep league TE2 for their Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (neck) hasn't had any setbacks in his recovery from a neck injury, according to a source, but he's still not 100 percent symptom-free. The Seahawks wanted to give him more time to heal, which is why they placed him on the short-term Injured Reserve on Friday, which will keep him out for at least the next three games. Carson also missed last Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and the earliest he'll be able to return is Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers. The 27-year-old should be stashed in the majority of formats while he heals. In the meantime, Alex Collins should continue to operate as the primary back, with DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer serving as change-of-pace backs. Collins has a low ceiling as an RB3/flex with quarterback Geno Smith taking over for Russell Wilson (finger), who is also on IR.
New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry has scored a touchdown in each of the last two games. He appears to be finally getting into a groove after a slow start to the season. Now, he'll get a matchup against a Dallas Cowboys defense that has struggled to contain tight ends. This could be a pass-heavy type of game for New England, which should be good for Henry. Quarterback Mac Jones is beginning to build chemistry with his teammates. Fantasy managers should consider Henry a low-end TE1 for their Week 6 matchup with Dallas.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has done his job whenever he is called upon. Sadly for him, the Patriots have a handful of other options and don't look his way often. Last week, Bourne hauled in all three of his targets for 26 yards in the win. He usually makes the play when targeted, but has only been thrown the ball 22 times through five games. There could be an uptick in value for Bourne heading into the Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. It'll likely be a pass-heavy gameplan, which means possibly more chances for Bourne. However, he won't be anything more than a desperation PPR option while everyone is healthy in the receiving game.
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor hasn't been able to make much noise since the season opener. In fact, he has three receptions or less in every game since Week 1. That's unlikely to change against a Cowboys defense that ranks ninth in pass DVOA so far in 2021. The Patriots brought in Agholor to be their deep threat, but they don't take too many risks with the ball. Quarterback Mac Jones tends to lean on short passes, which cuts Agholor out of the gameplan. He'll be a desperation flex option against the Cowboys in Week 6.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers has not scored a touchdown this season, which continues to hinder his value. Despite that, he has been able to hold his own because he appears to be rookie Mac Jones favorite target. Meyers has seen double digit targets twice in five games this season. He might see another with Damien Harris (ribs) questionable for the Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots will likely go pass-heavy, assuming Harris is sidelined. That means, Meyers should be a fine WR3 for this game against a surprisingly decent Cowboys defense.
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden could be in line for a bigger workload heading into the Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Lead back Damien Harris (ribs) is questionable to suit up in this game. That means, Bolden and a committee of others could see increased roles. Last week, Bolden rushed the ball twice, but also hauled in four receptions through the air. No one should compare Bolden to James White, but it seems New England wants Bolden to be their receiving back. There isn't a ton of upside here and Bolden should be considered a low-end streaming option in PPR formats.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson finally was able to get into some action last week. Coming into Week 5, Stevenson had one carry on the season, but that changed versus Texans. Sadly, there wasn't much success as Stevenson carried the ball 11 times for 23 yards in the win. Lead back Damien Harris (ribs) is questionable heading into their Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. That means, Stevenson could be asked to carry the ball 10 or so times again. There isn't much upside here with Stevenson, so he should be considered a desperation deep league option. He wasn't able to move the ball versus Houston, so that's unlikely to change this week.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has failed to impress over the first five games of the season. He has posted one multi-touchdown game, but has only surpassed the 280-yard mark once through five contests. The rookie quarterback will now head into a tough matchup against the Dallas Cowboys defense. Normally, the Cowboys defense wouldn't be intimidating, but they rank ninth in pass DVOA so far in 2021. It wouldn't be surprising to see Jones struggle to move the ball in this one. He'll be a desperation streaming option, but should be avoided in most formats.
Cleveland Browns running back Demetric Felton could have an expanded role in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Browns star RB Nick Chubb (calf) was ruled out ahead of Sunday's game, and RB Kareem Hunt (wrist, knee) is questionable with a knee/wrist injury. Felton will have a complementary role and should see an uptick in carries along with D'Ernest Johnson as the backups to Hunt. The 23-year-old logged three snaps on offense and returned two punts for 17 yards in Sunday's Week 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. While Hunt is expected to suit up, the Browns have a game scheduled for Thursday next week; Felton and Johnson could see additional touches in Week 6. The UCLA product is worth stashing in deep-league formats while Chubb is sidelined and Hunt is banged up.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson could have a vital role in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Browns star RB Nick Chubb (calf) was ruled out ahead of Sunday's game, and RB Kareem Hunt (knee, wrist) is questionable with a wrist/knee injury. Johnson will have a complementary role on Sunday and is the only other running back on the Browns to see carries this season besides Hunt and Chubb. While Hunt is expected to suit up, the Browns have a game scheduled for Thursday next week; Johnson, along with Demetric Felton, could see additional touches in Week 6. The 25-year-old is worth stashing in deep-league formats while Chubb is sidelined and Hunt is banged up.