Sun Sep 22 8:11pm ET
By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) breaks free for a 76-yard touchdown run as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (33) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera yells during the first half of an NFL football game agains the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Kyle Allen threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns in place of the injured Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey ran for a 76-yard touchdown, and the Carolina Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-20 on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Allen was outstanding in his second career start, making several big throws - even when there was tight coverage. He was 19 of 26, including two touchdowns to Greg Olsen and one each to Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore.
McCaffrey had 24 carries for 153 yards, including the 76-yard score, which came in the third quarter when he darted straight through the middle of Arizona's defense.
Newton was ruled out by the Panthers earlier this week because of a mid-foot sprain. The Panthers were confident Allen would be an adequate replacement and Sunday's performance was validation.
Allen outplayed Arizona's Kyler Murray, who was his former college teammate at Texas A&M. Murray also had some good moments, especially early, including a few long runs and a couple of short touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.
But Murray's costly interception late in the third quarter helped the Panthers (1-2) pull away for their first win. He finished 30 of 43 passing for 173 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 69 yards.
Murray was sacked eight times by Carolina's defense, which improved as the game progressed.
The Allen vs. Murray quarterback matchup was intriguing since they were college teammates 2015. The highly rated recruits split time under center before both eventually transferred. Murray went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma.
Allen - who was playing near his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona - looked comfortable from the moment he stepped on the field. His only other start last season was also a win, but that one came with a bit of an asterisk. The Panthers won in Week 17 against a New Orleans team that was already looking toward the playoffs.
This time, both teams were desperate for a win and Allen delivered.
He was 13 of 18 passing for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, including a 52-yard score to Moore, which pushed the Panthers ahead 14-10 just before halftime.
The Cardinals (0-2-1) went ahead 17-14 in the third quarter on Murray's 3-yard pass to Johnson, but the Panthers responded with Allen's 3-yard touchdown to Olsen.
Carolina pulled away in the second half when McCaffrey ran straight up the middle for his long touchdown and a 28-20 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Murray was picked off by Donte Jackson and the Panthers took advantage of the short field when Allen hit Olsen for another touchdown and a 35-20 lead.
JONES BIG AGAIN
For the second time in three games, Arizona's Chandler Jones forced a fumble and then recovered it.
Carolina was easily driving downfield in the first quarter before Jones sacked Allen, stripped the ball and recovered it on the Arizona 26.
Jones' 43 sacks since joining the Cardinals in 2016 are the most for any NFL player over that span.
TIGHT END TROUBLE
An opposing tight end had another big game against Arizona's defense. Olsen finished with six catches for 75 yards and the two scores.
Detroit's T.J. Hockenson had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Baltimore's Mark Andrews had eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown last weekend.
Panthers: Carolina travels to Houston to face the Texans.
Cardinals: Arizona hosts the Seahawks on Sunday for its third home game in four weeks.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson could have some luster as a flex option against the Atlanta Falcons. Running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) is doubtful this week, but Todd Gurley (thigh) is expected back. Gurley's workload could be spotty, and Henderson could see extended run. He rushed six times for 39 yards in Week 6, but he lost a key fumble to open the second half. He'll have a chance at redemption against the midrange matchup.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been irrelevant for a couple of weeks for fantasy owners. He left the Oct. 3 game with a concussion, and the entire Rams offense was plugged up last week. He had four catches for 47 yards in the two games combined. He has an awesome matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They are the worst at defending the position in the league. They've allowed just over 15 catches for 219 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game to receivers over the last five games. Cooks is a low-end WR2 option for Week 7.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp broke a four-game string with 100 receiving yards last week as the entire offense was shut down by the San Francisco 49ers. The good news, though, is the Rams face the leaky Atlanta Falcons Defense, which is the worst at defending receivers the last five weeks. Kupp is sixth in the league in fantasy points over the last five weeks at the position despite having four catches for 17 yards last week. He'll return to the WR1 section this week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has been Jekyll and Hyde in the matter of a couple of weeks. He busted out with 13 catches for 164 yards three weeks ago and didn't catch a last on four targets last week. He'll have a brighter matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who are the best matchup for opposing receivers the last five weeks. The Rams spread the ball around a lot, though, and Woods is limited to a flex option in point-per-reception formats.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been an afterthought in the offense this season with 16 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in five games. He has a good matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week, but he is too spotty to rely on in traditional leagues. He'd be someone to take at a basement price in daily formats, though.
Jacksonville rookie signal caller Gardner Minshew hit a significant bump in the road last week for the first time as a starter. The cure for that skid? It may just prove to be a matchup against a Bengals Defense yielding greater than 425 yards per game. Minshew failed to toss a touchdown last Sunday against New Orleans, the first time he did not record one in six games. While his 240.3 passing yard per contest average is far from gaudy, he has tossed nine touchdowns to just two interceptions, making him a safe option in traditional fantasy, as well as a high-upside low-priced option in DFS.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps) both missed practice all week and have officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Jackson is closer to returning than Sproles, but there remains no timetable for either player. D-Jax has been out since getting hurt in Week 2, and the Eagles offense is surely missing their deep threat, as Mack Hollins hasn't come close to replicating Jackson's production as a field-stretcher. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Hollins will continue to operate in three-receiver sets in the big divisional showdown on Sunday evening.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense shouldn't be played against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They've had their issues on the ground, but they still put up points and air it out. The Rams are amidst a tough portion of their schedule and really haven't played well enough to hang onto in traditional formats.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has a good matchup against the New York Giants in Week 7. Murray has been hot lately, and he's fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks over the last three weeks. Murray has tossed for 834 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but his legs have been the difference. He has rushed 25 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns during that stretch. The Giants allow the eighth-most fantasy points to the position on average over the last five weeks. Murray is a mid-to-low QB1 this week.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds has been a sneaky contributor over the last two games, but it's because he found the end zone each game. He had 12 carries for 102 yards and five catches for 51 yards combined in the games, and he scored on the ground and through the air. Starting running back David Johnson (ankle) is a game-time decision this week, but he practiced more than he did before he played with a back injury last week. The matchup against the New York Giants is a solid one with the Giants averaging the seventh-most points allowed to the position the last five weeks. Edmonds has flashed the big play on limited touches, but he relies on those touchdowns heavily if you use him as a flex.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Keesean Johnson has just 14 catches for 131 yards on the season despite a number of injuries that opened doors in the offense. He has a good matchup against the New York Giants this week, but he simply hasn't produced enough to warrant owning outside of dynasty formats.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a great matchup against the New York Giants this week. The Giants allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game over the last five weeks. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) and running back David Johnson (ankle) are both game-time decisions, which could put more emphasis on Fitz. He's averaging around five catches for 60 yards per game, but he has just two touchdowns on the year. He'll be a low-end WR2 in point-per-reception leagues and a WR3 in others.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd caught both of his targets for 60 yards last week, and he'll have a good matchup against the New York Giants. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) is iffy to play again this week, and receiver Keesean Johnson has done nothing in his increased looks. Byrd could wind up usurping Johnson and might be worth a speculative pickup. He just hasn't shown enough to warrant the start, though.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is coming off of one of his most futile games in recent memory as he threw for only 78 yards in the loss against the San Francisco 49ers last week. Goff owners should be happy to see the Atlanta Falcons in the forefront this week. The Falcons are the softest matchup against the position and have allowed 14 touchdowns in five games. Goff has been shaky most of the season, though, so he's just a low-end QB1 with some upside.
The Vikings Defense is again ranking among the NFL's best through six weeks. They rank fifth in yards allowed per game (310.3), fifth in yards allowed per play (4.8), sixth in points allowed per game (15.5), and 10th in sacks (17). They face the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 7 in a pivotal divisional matchup. Though the Lions have some nice weapons in Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, and veteran Matthew Stafford, the Vikings shouldn't have too much trouble keeping them contained in what projects to be a low-scoring affair. Stafford has only thrown two interceptions this year but also has four fumbles (two lost). Start the Vikings Defense as a top-eight play in Week 7.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison remains the clear backup to starter Dalvin Cook, but the rookie has started to emerge as a player who could be used as a bye week streamer in favorable matchups. Mattison rushed 14 times for 63 yards in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that ranks among the league's best at stopping the run. He has notably received at least seven carries in 4-of-6 games as the Vikings remain a very run-heavy team. The Lions are being torched by the run this year and give up the third-most fantasy points to running backs, so Mattison could provide some great value if he can approach 10 touches in this game. Only start Mattison if you're in desperate need of a deep league FLEX option in Week 7 - he's still best viewed as a high-priority handcuff.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs should be started as a low-end WR2 in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. He went nuclear in Week 6 with seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, but the Lions Defense is tough against outside receivers and there's a chance that he's shadowed by shutdown corner Darius Slay. There's also a high likelihood of the Vikings featuring Dalvin Cook in the run-game as the Lions haven't stopped anyone on the ground so far this season. Diggs should be in lineups as a WR2/3 but remains difficult to trust in tough matchups and with the Vikings' run-first attack.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should see a bump in usage with Deebo Samuel (groin) ruled out in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins. Goodwin leads all Niner wideouts in snaps but has surpassed 45 receiving yards just once this season. With the team heavy favorites and the Redskins pass defense inept at handling shorter routes, Goodwins skillset could be marginalized. Expect the Niners to keep pounding the rock on the ground and tight end George Kittle to continue dominating targets. Goodwin needs just one big play to return fantasy value but hes a low-floor WR4. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Richie James Jr. will likely share snaps voided by Samuel.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) didn't practice all week but is questionable for Week 7 against the Seahawks. Brown missed last week and is certainly on the wrong side of questionable this weekend. Making things even more difficult for fantasy owners is the fact that Brown and the Ravens kick off in the afternoon on Sunday. He's an extremely risky WR3 if he suits up. If Brown misses his second straight game, Willie Snead, rookie Miles Boykin, Seth Roberts and Chris Moore will have increased roles. Snead and Boykin have the most upside, but even they would be more of WR5 options in a run-first offense. Tight end Mark Andrews would be the only fantasy lock if Brown were inactive.
Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) is questionable for Week 7 against the Colts, but he's expected to return and will likely be tasked with slowing down wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) is questionable but is not expected to play. Safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) is questionable but is expected to play. It's good news that the Texans will have both Joseph and Gipson in their secondary, but Houston's defense/special teams is a low-upside fantasy streamer during bye weeks.