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.
Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis will draw the start if Jordan Reed is once again inactive, and he's facing a decent matchup if so. The Bears have allowed 15 receptions to tight ends for 133 yards and a touchdown. The question any fantasy owner must ask themselves if considering Davis for Week 3 is simply: how lucky do I feel? Davis has been targeted just 11 times in two games as Washington's primary tight end, and if you take away his 48-yard touchdown in Week 1, he's got six catches for 40 yards. If you're among those who have been decimated by O.J. Howard's lack of production at the position and missed out on the marquee waiver-wire pickups, at least there's a matchup here for Davis in a game where the Redskins should have to throw a ton. Even so, banking on his minimal target share through two weeks to yield a big day is quite the Hail Mary this early in the season.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn has seen 13 targets through two games. His team's inability to run the ball suggests he could be looking at another relatively high target share on Monday night. The Bears allowed the fourth-most receptions to opposing wideouts last season, and just got carved up by Emmanuel Sanders last Sunday. Quinn could be looking at the volume to return a decent fantasy outing on Monday night, though he hasn't quite produced at a high enough level to consider him unless you play in a deep PPR league. For those in 10 or 12-team leagues, keep an eye on his involvement in a game the Redskins might be forced to air it out often.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Paul Richardson has seen just 10 targets in two weeks. Despite Case Keenum having attempted 81 passes, Richardson just hasn't seen enough volume to believe he's in line for a big night against the Bears on Monday. Terry McLaurin, Trey Quinn, and Chris Thompson have combined for a target share near 60%, making it clear (at least for the time being) that this pass offense runs through the three of them. Richardson is a touchdown-dependent receiver that allowed just 14 of those to wideouts in 2018.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin has impressed in his first two NFL games, hauling in 10 of 16 targets for 187 yards and two touchdowns. His Week 3 opponent is the Bears, who just allowed Emmanuel Sanders to have his way against them last Sunday: 11 catches, 98 yards, one touchdown. Assuming it's business as usual in terms of the Redskins failing to get going on the ground, it stands to reason that Washington will be forced to throw the ball often on Monday night. McLaurin appears to be Case Keenum's favorite target early on, so even against a tough secondary, there is hope for fantasy-friendly volume. For everything the Bears do right defensively, they've been middle-of-the-pack since the beginning of last season in production allowed to opposing wide receivers. I'd exhaust all other options before considering McLaurin in the flex spot, but the potential is there on Monday night.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson leads the entire team in targets with 18. He's caught 12 of them for 116 yards. Thompson might be Washington's only hope out of the backfield against the Bears, who have looked every bit like the run defense we expected coming into 2019. If Chicago has bent anywhere, it's been in the short passing game. They've allowed 12 receptions for 93 yards to opposing running backs. Considering Thompson's early involvement and the Redskins' near-total inability to establish the run in either of their first two games, Thompson could be in line for another big-time target share on Monday night. You're not going to feel ecstatic about any player on a below-average offense against Chicago, but Thompson does provide some promise in this matchup.
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum has looked better than most thought he would as the new signal-caller, completing just under 70% of his passes for 601 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Keenum could reasonably be expected to chuck it early and often on Monday night, considering the Redskins' nonexistent running game and the Bears' rush defense. Just keep in mind this is the same Chicago pass defense that held Aaron Rodgers to 18 completions on 30 attempts for 203 yards and a touchdown. Keenum's early production has certainly earned him some attention in the fantasy community, but let's wait until his team shows some offensive balance and/or they get past this tough early schedule before considering him in lineups.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson had minimal success other than a short touchdown run against the Cowboys in Week 2. On Monday night, he'll face a Bears Defense that has permitted just 64.5 rushing yards per game to opposing backs and no rushing touchdowns. The Redskins have provided us with zero evidence that they have the ability to establish the run against defenses that excel at taking it away. Adrian Peterson does not belong in fantasy lineups for Week 3.
The Washington Redskins Defense has its softest matchup of the young season in the Chicago Bears on Monday night. In a perfect world, you could trust this unit to get the job done as a streamer in a week when a few of the better fantasy defenses in the league have tougher matchups (Chargers/Texans, Browns/Rams). If anything, this Monday night game looks less like Washington's first win and more like Chicago's first chance to break out on offense. Washington has been torched by the Eagles and Cowboys for six straight quarters. The Bears have the second-best OL/DL matchup in the league in terms of pass protection. If Mitch Trubisky is going to put a dreadful first two games behind him, Monday is the time to do it.
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end James O'Shaughnessy had two receptions for 18 yards during the win over the Titans on Thursday, pulling in a touchdown pass from quarterback Gardner Minshew II early in the first quarter. The 27-year-old still hasn't done enough to justify his presence in virtually all formats, however, but fantasy managers will want to keep an eye on his progress in the weeks ahead.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley pulled in a season-low three receptions for 30 yards in the win over the Titans. Conley's performance has dwindled since Week 1 where he recorded six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. He isn't a reliable week-to-week option, but he still could have a place on fantasy rosters in deeper formats. Look for him to turn things around against the Broncos in Week 4, hopefully.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) managed to play but caught just one of his five targets for four yards during the loss to the Jaguars on Thursday. To his credit, quarterback Marcus Mariota faced an onslaught from the Jaguars Defense as they recorded nine sacks on the night. As of now, Brown has little value outside of 14-team leagues and shouldn't be relied upon for consistent production until he, along with the rest of the Titans' offense outside of Derrick Henry, can turn things around.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis caught three passes (four targets) for 44 yards during the loss to Jacksonville in Week 3. Davis, along with the rest of the team, couldn't get anything going on Thursday as the Jaguars Defense smothered quarterback Marcus Mariota by compiling nine sacks on the night. At the moment, the 24-year-old has relatively no value in all fantasy formats until he starts producing, which is something that likely won't happen anytime soon.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker was productive against a tough Jaguars Defense on Thursday night. Despite constant pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota throughout the contest, the veteran still managed to pull in seven receptions for 64 yards. The 35-year-old has remained efficient throughout the first three games of the season and has been one of Mariota's favorite targets in a semi-struggling offense. Walker is worth a start in most formats moving ahead until he starts to fizzle.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe made two catches against Jacksonville on Thursday night but still managed to accrue 70 yards in the process. It was the best showing of the season for the 24-year-old despite the lackluster play of the Titans offense against a dominant Jaguars Defense that recorded nine sacks. Nonetheless, Sharpe hasn't done enough to earn a place on anything outside of 14-man rosters, with that even being a stretch at the moment.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries caught six of his nine targets during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday, finishing with a game-high 93 yards. After an uneventful two weeks before this one, the fifth-year man finally came to life against a tough Jaguars Defense that bombarded quarterback Marcus Mariota by recording nine sacks on the night. Though the 26-year-old hasn't done enough to earn his way on to fantasy rosters in most formats, fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on his progress in the weeks ahead.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries during the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. As the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks while limiting the Tennessee offense to just seven points on the night, Henry provided the only source of hope for a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old has been a consistent producer by scoring in each of the team's first three games. Look for him to keep it going against the Falcons in Week 4. He should continue to keep his must-start designation, at least for now.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn't get things going in the loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. Though Mariota managed to throw for 304 yards, things were miserable for the 25-year-old as the Jaguars Defense recorded nine sacks on the night while limiting the Titans' offense to just seven points. After starting off the year with three touchdown tosses against the Browns in Week 1, Mariota hasn't really done much to appease fantasy owners. He will look to get back on track in Week 4 in Atlanta against the Falcons.
Seattle Seahawks WR Jazz Ferguson was released from the practice squad on Wednesday, Sept. 18; in a corresponding move, free agent S Adrian Colbert (49ers) was signed.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been reduced to nearly equal snap count share with colleague Royce Freeman. That being said, it truly is a toss-up between which running back will see more production in Week 3 as they will likely receive the same volume once again. The Broncos face off with the Green Bay Packers, who have not had an overly intimidating run defense to start the year in 2019. If you absolutely need to play Lindsay in a deep league flex role, especially in PPR setting, he most likely will suffice with decent production, but don't expect anything crazy.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has seen significant time in the start of the 2019 season compared to where he ended last year. Freeman and teammate Phillip Lindsay have been sharing time out of the backfield and neither of them has been able to have a standout game yet this year. Therefore, it can be expected they will share duties once again in Week 3. If you need a player to throw in due to injuries in a deep league, Freeman poses an option with the potential of a breakout game or a few touchdowns looks to get some points on the board.