Sat Aug 24 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Detroit. With rookie Alexander Mattison at the top of the candidate list and Ameer Abdullah returning after a late-season arrival last year, the Minnesota Vikings are looking for another running back to emerge as a reliable complement to Dalvin Cook. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez, File)
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (97) pressures Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, right, after making a reception during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (95) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Arizona Cardinals place kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) kicks a 32-yard field goal in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook celebrates with teammate CJ Ham (30) after scoring on an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Arizona Cardinals defenders Tramaine Brock (20) and D.J. Swearinger (36) during an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins runs off the field during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense during a 20-9 victory by the Vikings over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins went just 3 for 13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
Cousins was under frequent pressure and had multiple passes knocked down at the line, including one deflection by rookie Zach Allen, who had a half-sack. Another Cardinals draft pick, KeeSean Johnson, stood out on the other side of the ball with seven receptions for 85 yards on seven targets.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the performance for Kingsbury and his staff were the 14 penalties for 111 yards, including two false starts called on backup quarterback Brett Hundley in a three-snap stretch late in the second quarter for apparently lifting his leg to signal a receiver to start his motion.
THE LONG RUN
The Cardinals were last in the league last season in rushing defense, allowing an average of nearly 155 yards per game that was bumped up by the Vikings here last Oct. 14 in a 27-17 victory fueled by a career-high 155 rushing yards from Latavius Murray.
Cook made the Cardinals look bad again, when he took a handoff to the left and veered right behind a key seal block by new right guard Josh Kline. The new zone blocking scheme directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, senior offensive adviser Gary Kubiak and offensive line coach Rick Dennison ought to be a good fit for Cook with his keen cutback ability. The touchdown run was the longest in a preseason game in Vikings history, topping a 76-yarder by Jordan Todman in 2012.
Cardinals: New WR Michael Crabtree, the 11th-year veteran who signed with the team earlier this week, did not suit up. Neither did CB Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl pick facing a six-game suspension to start the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancers.
Vikings: DT Linval Joseph, who joined the team for practice this week for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery, was held out of the starting lineup, as was SS Harrison Smith. On offense, WR Adam Thielen rested, and RT Brian O'Neill stayed on the sideline again, after returning to the field this week following a three-week absence because of a right arm injury.
Cardinals: Play at Denver on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Detroit.
Vikings: Play at Tennessee on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Atlanta.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett was one completion away from breaking former quarterback Peyton Manning's team record. On the day, he finished 28-of-37 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Brissett takes care of the ball, and he makes low-risk throws. On a day where running back Marlon Mack was limited, those throws eventually added up. Brissett is unlikely to have nearly 30 completions every week, but he showed this week that he can have QB1 upside in the right circumstances.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was solid in Sunday's Week 3 loss, tossing two touchdowns. He completed 19 of his 36 passes for 259 yards. He added 33 yards on four carries as well. Wentz's touchdowns came on a 20-yard pass and a two-yard pass, both to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Even without his top two wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) in the game, Wentz was still able to move the offense for most of the game.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 19 times in Week 3, picking up 125 yards on the ground. He added two catches for 14 more yards. Elliott's 125 yards were clearly great, but his fantasy owners were likely expecting at least one touchdown against the sport's worst team, the Miami Dolphins. Elliott was on the sidelines when his backup, Tony Pollard, scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter since the Cowboys were running down the clock in an obvious win. Elliott looked back to his usual workload, and should be an easy RB1 going forward.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack continues to be a consistent player for fantasy footballers. Despite being a questionable game-time decision coming into Sunday, he was able to suit up, and he had an effective day. He finished with 16 carries for 74 yards and one touchdown. He also added two catches for 14 yards on the day. Unless he sustains a more serious injury, Mack is proving to be a consistent starter on a weekly basis.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard had an excellent game in Week 3, running the ball 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 25 more yards. Pollard scored on a fourth-quarter run from 16 yards out. In a game where the Cowboys had control all afternoon, Pollard got a bit more run than he would have in a closer contest. This game showed how much value Pollard could have if Ezekiel Elliott were forced to miss any time.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a productive Week 3, throwing two touchdowns and running one in as well. Prescott completed 19 of his 32 passes for 246 yards. His passing touchdowns both went to Amari Cooper, one for five yards and another for 19. His rushing touchdown was on an eight-yard run in the third quarter. Overall, it was a solid performance for Prescott, although his owners may have expected even more with him taking on the listless Miami Dolphins.
After leaving the game shortly before halftime with an ankle injury suffered against Tampa Bay, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley returned to the sidelines with a protective boot on his right foot. While the results of his x-rays have not yet been released, Barkley was using crutches to get around on what appeared to be a severely sprained ankle. If this is the dreaded high-ankle sprain, Barkley could be in for an extended absence and his owners are in for an extended punch to the stomach. Backup Wayne Gallman needs to be added in all leagues until more is known about the severity of Barkley's injury.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore saved his best production for last, plunging in for a late one-yard touchdown to put Buffalo up for good over the Cincinnati Bengals 21-17 on Sunday. With Devin Singletary declared inactive prior to the game, Gore rushed 14 times for 76 yards, outpacing T.J. Yeldon who rushed eight times for thirty yards - and who also had a costly second-half fumble. With the likely return of Singletary in Week 4 and facing a Patriots teams that will likely require a pass-heavy game script, Gore will be relegated to the fantasy doldrums.
The New York Jets Defense got shredded by Tom Brady and the Patriots but salvaged their fantasy day late. With the Patriots up 30-7 in the fourth quarter backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham came into the game. His third pass hit Jamal Adams right between the numbers and the star safety returned it 61-yards for a garbage-time touchdown. The Jets also scored a touchdown on special teams after Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt and Arthur Maulet fell on it to score the Jets first touchdown since Week 1. Despite the scores, the Jets defense only recorded one sack and looked like a defense that shouldn't be owned in fantasy, especially with a bye in Week 4 followed by a tough matchup at Philadelphia.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 22-of-36 passes for 243 yards on Sunday, with one touchdown and an interception as the Bills held off the Cincinnati Bengals for a 21-17 victory. Allen also added 46 yards on nine rushes and a two-point conversion, with Buffalo moving to a surprising 3-0 on the season. Allen still has trouble with his decision-making at times but continues to have a high floor considering how often he's willing to run. Allen and the Bills will get their first real test of the year in Week 4 when the Patriots come into town for a showdown of the AFC East undefeated.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is questionable to return after suffering an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Bucs. He suffered a minor injury earlier in the game but returned. This one appears to be more severe and with the Giants already down 25-10, they may choose not to rush their star back. This would obviously be a massive hit to the entire Giants offense if it proves to be a multi-week injury.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin caught his only target for five yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday afternoon. Griffin now has four catches for 15 yards on the season and continues to be a non-factor in fantasy. Griffin had an opportunity to start with Chris Herndon serving a four-game suspension but has done nothing to prove he should be more than a blocking tight end when Herndon returns in Week 6. The Jets are on bye in Week 4 and Griffin will make one more start in Week 5 vs the Eagles but should not be owned in fantasy.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder made two catches for 25 yards Sunday afternoon against the Patriots. The Jets struggled to move the ball all afternoon with Luke Falk making his first career start as they had only 105 net yards against a strong Patriots Defense. Crowder made 14 catches in Week 1 but has only six since as starting QB Sam Darnold (mono) has been sidelined. The Jets will have a bye week next week and hope Darnold will be back for a game at Philadelphia in Week 5. If Darnold plays, Crowder is in the WR3 discussion in fantasy but it will be hard to trust him the Jets continue to trot out backup quarterbacks.
New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made two extra points and didn't attempt a field goal in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Ficken has now made all three attempts as a Jet after signing with the team prior to Week 2. That should be enough to keep Ficken employed with the team given the Jets kicker struggles in the preseason, but fantasy owners should look elsewhere as the Jets offense will severely limit Ficken's scoring opportunities.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught all six of his targets for 75 yards during the Week 3 loss to the Colts. Despite failing to score a touchdown yet this season, Sanu continues to be a reliable option for quarterback Matt Ryan. He isn't the best option in 10 or 12-team leagues, but his ability to pull in receptions in a pass-first offense gives him some credibility moving ahead.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had eight receptions (nine targets) for 128 yards and a touchdown against the Colts in Week 3. After catching 11 passes and racking up three trips to the end zone coming into this one, Jones caught a 10-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan late in the game for his fourth score of the year. He will look to keep it going against the Titans in Week 4. Obviously, keep him starting in all fantasy formats.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios made two catches for 29 yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Berrios led the Jets with six targets but couldn't get much done against a stout Patriots Defense. Berrios served as the team's third wide receiver today, but would see his role decrease if Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) gets healthy and joins the active roster after a bye in Week 4. Despite leading the team in targets, Berrios doesn't need to be owned in fantasy.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had six receptions for 66 yards and two scores during the loss to the Colts on Sunday. After failing to score a touchdown through the first two weeks of the year, Hooper finally came to life against Indianapolis. His absence in the end zone up to this point has been somewhat troubling, but his ability to haul in passes gives him some PPR appeal moving ahead.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson made three catches for 11 yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Anderson was targeted five times but could get nothing done as the Jets had just 105 yards of total offense with third-string QB Luke Falk making his first career start. Of all the Jets offensive weapons, Anderson has suffered the most with starting QB Sam Darnold (mono) out of action as Anderson has always been a receiver reliant on big plays and the Jets simply can't throw the ball downfield given their current QB situation. The Jets have a bye in Week 4 but will face another tough matchup in Week 5 at Philadelphia. If Darnold plays, Anderson is a boom-or-bust WR3 but he should be avoided as long as Darnold is out.
Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard was on the field for a season-high 29 snaps in the team's Week 3 loss to the Vikings. It helped that Josh Jacobs was dealing with an illness and a hip injury earlier this week, not to mention the team trailed by three scores for most of the game. Richard didn't do much with his playing time, however, picking up 29 scrimmage yards on two rushes and three catches as his involvement in the passing game has faded this year. Owners of Jacobs shouldn't worry about the rookie losing his bell-cow status, as Richard is no threat to his workload. The 25-year-old doesn't carry any standalone value and will be off the fantasy radar as long as Jacobs is active.