This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
You ever drink way too much the night before, and the next morning as you're waking up there's that brief moment of forgetfulness before all the horrors of what happened come rushing back? That's how I felt this morning at 7:00 am, set to take the dog out, not quite enough sleep, but otherwise okay until I remembered: Week 7, Holy f****** s***! Suffice it to say the "Chunks is my dog" guy is now in second place.
In truth it wasn't any one disaster, like losing in Survivor or going winless against the spread, but repeated body shots and a karate kick or three to the nuts. For example, I have Ronald Jones everywhere, and it seemed he had nearly established himself as the lead back. But one drop later, and there's Leonard Fournette looking like Tom Brady's next Kevin Faulk/Shane Vereen/James White, only with the size for early downs. At least I was 5-2 ATS before Stephen Gostkowski missed the game-tying FG, and while three afternoon games were going against me, the Jaguars were up seven and getting eight late third quarter.
And while I was watching my two high-stakes fantasy teams get crushed, and rooting for Melvin Gordon who for God knows what reason I started over James Robinson (22-119-1, 6-4-18-1) in one of them, the Broncos to cover the 9.5-point spread (best bet, Supercontest pick) and against the Chiefs defense (high-stakes league opponent), Drew Lock, down only 10-6, as the Broncos were getting to Patrick Mahomes, throws a pick six, killing Gordon's game-flow, making a cover less likely, hurting my Tyreek Hill share and getting my opponent eight points. No matter, it was only 17-6, and the Broncos drove for another FG and cut it to 17-9. Then Byron Pringle took the kickoff to the house, and that was that.
But there's more. Mecole Hardman, who I started last week (zero points) with key players on bye and since dropped, led the team with 57 receiving yards and a 13-yard rush. Scotty Miller (another zero from a previous week whom I long-since dropped in a 14-team league) went 9-6-106-1, while I happened to be facing Tom Brady. I was also big on Rob Gronkowski (8-5-62-1) during draft season, but dropped him in two of three leagues. And I had Odell Beckham in three leagues and picked up and started Darren Fells (0-0-0) in two due to TE byes.
I also astutely picked up Jeff Wilson in a 14-team league, but left him on my bench, watched him score three TDs and get re-injured. Two-league bye-week kicker pickup Michael Badgley also missed a short FG and PAT for good measure.
At least I still had DK Metcalf going in the Sunday night game. Winning the matchup was out of the question, but total points are huge, and a big day from him would be a desperately needed boost. Metcalf made two big plays alright, the first an amazing touchdown-saving tackle on Budda Baker's interception (I have Baker in my only IDP league, RotoWire Steak in which I used more than a quarter of my budget on Saquon Barkley and am unsurprisingly starting down the cost of 2-3 ribeyes, copious booze, appetizers and dessert.) And the second, a would-be game-sealing TD in overtime that was called back. Otherwise he went 5-2-23.
There are probably four or five more things like that I'm not even recalling, but I'm sure they'll come back to me as I go over the games below:
- The Seahawks often have weird games, but that was one of the weirdest of all time. Why were the Cardinals running the ball so much down 10 with less than four minutes left in the game?
- Zane Gonzalez got iced by his own coach, made a game-winning FG that didn't count, missed the one that did, then miraculously got the chance to hit the game winner after Metcalf's TD was called back and Russell Wilson threw his third pick.
- Kyler Murray (360 pass yards, 3 TD, 67 rush yards, 1 TD) is having one of the greatest fantasy QB seasons of all time with an offense that almost never has a consistent rhythm.
- DeAndre Hopkins (12-10-103-1) catches everything and does not need to be especially open. Chase Edmonds (5-58-0, 7-7-87) is obviously better than Kenyan Drake both as a runner and receiver, and now Drake (ankle, pending MRI) is hurt.
- The picks notwithstanding, Wilson's (388 pass yards, three TDs, 84 rush yards) fantasy season continues to be of the all-time variety.
- I neglected to mention I was also going against Tyler Lockett (20-15-200-3), who had one of the biggest fantasy performances in the last 10 years. It appeared Patrick Peterson was mostly on Metcalf, though I thought I saw Lockett beat Peterson on his 47-yard TD.
- Chris Carson sprained his foot, so Carlos Hyde (15-68-1, 4-3-8) has a chance to be relevant. I'm not sure if/when Rashaad Penny will be back, but don't forget about him.
- Daylight savings in Portugal was this past weekend, one week earlier than in the US, so I didn't realize the games started at 5 PM instead of six until 20 minutes before kickoff. Not that it made any difference.
- Prior to the games, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, as usual citing unnamed sources, said Gardner Minshew might be benched for Mike Glennon. As a result, I briefly put Andy Dalton in my lineup before switching back to Minshew because (1) Rapoport routinely runs with rumors that don't pan out; (2) the unnamed sources didn't say it was definite; and (3) I had a terrible vibe about Dalton's match-up. It was nice to be right about one thing at least, and I shudder to think about the super volcano of invective I'd have unleashed via Twitter and Monday's SXM show had I fallen for that half-baked rumor.
- It's hilarious you get a penalty if you even touch a punter on a clean punt, but if you block it you can smash the dude.
- I say this every week, but Justin Herbert (347 yards, 3 TD) is a beast. He also showed off some of his 4.68 40 speed (faster than Josh Allen) with 66 rushing yards and another TD. It's amazing the Chargers would have squandered his rookie year had Tyrod Taylor not been stabbed by the team doctor.
- Keenan Allen (13-12-125) was everywhere. I say this as someone desperately clinging to the Jaguars +8 and needing them to make a third-down stop. They couldn't keep Allen from extending the drives.
- I like Cam Newton, and Jarrett Stidham isn't the answer, but Newton was rightly benched as his performance was positively Hoyeresque. While Bill Belichick is a wizard at in-season adjustments, this team might be his toughest project yet.
- The Niners are such a bizarre team. They got annihilated at home by the Dolphins, then handled the Rams and crushed the Patriots in Foxborough. All their running backs except Jerick Mckinnon, who barely played, look great in that system. Wilson (high-ankle sprain) looks like he's out for a while, so fourth stringer JaMychal Hasty (9-57-0, 1-1-16) could be the starter. (Editor's Note: I just discovered it was a rest day for McKinnon who of course I had in a lineup. Had I known that ahead of time, not only would I not have started McKinnon, but I would have started Wilson over Latavius Murray.)
- I almost forgot – I have Deebo Samuel in two leagues, including a the high-stakes NFFC Primetime, waited five weeks to use him, and now it looks like he'll miss time with a hamstring injury. Brandon Aiyuk (7-6-115) could be busy, though.
- Scott Hanson's unhinged glee was especially intolerable this week.
- Melvin Gordon (17-68-1) lost two fumbles, though looking at his stat line just reminded me of the botched flea-flicker that counted as one of them and undermined my cause further. Gordon should see a decent share of the workload with Phillip Lindsay concussed, at least until he gets suspended for his mid-week DUI.
- Le'Veon Bell instantly looked five years younger in a Chiefs uniform, but the game-flow from that contest was so screwed up, it's hard to read much into his usage.
- As I mentioned I liked Gronkowski before the year because he's only 31, healthy, reunited with Tom Brady and the greatest ever to play his position. He's what George Kittle would be if Kittle keeps it up for several more years. Gronk has to be a top-seven TE at this point.
- Chris Godwin (9-9-88-1) looks healthy again, and he'll be a staple in the offense, even when Antonio Brown arrives. It's going to be insane with those two, Gronk, Mike Evans (2-2-37-0) and even Miller who runs a 4.39 and rookie Tyler Johnson, who caught a TD and looks like a player. Tom Brady (369 yards, four TDs, one rush TD) should put up big numbers and has a real chance at a seventh ring.
- The Bucs defense is impossible to run on. Nelson Agholor (9-5-107-1) is the Raiders No. 1 receiver apparently.
- I don't want to overrate a bounce-back against an abominable Texans defense, but it looks like last week's game against the Bucs was the outlier, not the first four four games, for Aaron Rodgers (283 yards, four TDs, no picks.)
- Davante Adams (16-13-196-2) appears to be over his hamstring injury.
- The Texans have a great QB, but are otherwise incoherent. Maybe Duke Johnson (5-5-43) will get more involved.
- The Cowboys defense is historically bad, but without Dak Prescott, their offense is also bottom five. You have to be concerned about all the key options including Ezekiel Elliott. Oh, that reminds me, I started CeeDee Lamb in three leagues.
- Last week, J.D. McKissic (who I picked up and started in two leagues) looked better than Antonio Gibson (20-128-1), but not against Dallas. Of course, Peyton Barber (10 carries) got the extra garbage-time work, not McKissic.
- Congrats to the New York Jets – unlike the Cowboys, they finally covered a spread.
- Tyler Bass missed two field goals, but you were still happy you picked him up.
- Drew Brees played well without his top two receivers, converting 12 of 14 third downs.
- Like the Bucs, the Saints are a tough team to run against.
- Teddy Bridgewater looked like a slightly more mobile Brees to me, with 9.1 YPA, two TDs and no picks despite facing a fair amount of pressure and no running game on which to rely. He passed the eye test.
- Joey Slye attempted a would-be record-setting 65-yard FG attempt and was dead center, but short by only a yard or two.
- The Titans will be a tough out in the playoffs again this year. They play hard and physical are well coached and don't stop coming at you. The Steelers were lucky to hold on.
- A.J. Brown (8-6-153-1) is so thick he doesn't look fast, but somehow he routinely takes slants to the house, outrunning the entire defense.
- Diontae Johnson (15-9-80-2) looks like a poor man's Antonio Brown so long as he can stay in the game. He hurt his ankle late, but apparently it isn't serious. JuJu Smith-Schuster (14-9-85-0) also had a busy day, but as usual it was mostly short stuff. Chase Claypool (1-1–2) wasn't a factor. Ben Roethlisberger has yet to find his fastball.
- Baker Mayfield missed his first five throws, including the pick on which his best receiver tore an ACL while trying to make a tackle. Then he completed 22 of 23, including five touchdowns, and the one miss was on a spike to stop the clock. He essentially looked like peak Drew Brees, though keep in mind he won't draw the Bengals every week.
- Rookie Harrison Bryant (5-4-56-2) looks like a player. Austin Hooper should be back in a couple weeks, but Bryant could further establish himself next week before the bye. David Njoku (3-20-1) is also around, and Rashard Higgins (6-6-110-0) made plays, but Beckham's absence will continue to create opportunities for somebody, especially if Mayfield benefits from spreading the ball around more.
- Joe Burrow (406 pass yards, 3 TDs, 34 rush yards, 1 rush TD) had a monster game despite taking pressure behind a bad offensive line. A.J. Green (13-7-82) got a lot of action, but Tee Higgins (5-5-71-1) and Tyler Boyd (13-11-101-1) were far more efficient.
- I was aghast when the Bengals (whom I had plus 3.5) gave up the game-winning TD to go down three with the PAT pending. But miracle of miracles, Cody Parkey shanked the PAT, and I got the cover anyway.
- The Falcons-Lions, a game with a 56.5 total should have ended 17-16 Falcons, assuming Younghoe makes the FG. Of course, Todd Gurley changed the course of history, stumbling into the end zone, and sending me (Lions +2.5) into a rage. But in a second miracle in a five-minute span, Matthew Stafford drove down the field and found T.J. Hockenson for the last-second game winner, punishing Gurley for the offense against the ATS Gods. That was the last good thing that happened.