Mon Sep 18 6:03pm ET
Field Level Media
Following a 25-24 comeback win over the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons have a chance to do something they haven't done since 2017: open a season 3-0.
If the Falcons go to Detroit and defeat the Lions -- just as they did in Week 3 of that 2017 season -- it will mark just the seventh time in 58 years that Atlanta has started a campaign with three wins.
Rookie running back Bijan Robinson, second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder and the Falcons' talented young core on offense are a big reason for Atlanta's hot start.
Robinson, as explosive a runner as they come, rushed for 124 yards on 19 carries in the win over the Packers. The No. 8 overall pick added four catches for 48 yards, proving his unique ability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
"There is a reason why we drafted him as high as we did, the same with (tight end) Kyle (Pitts) and (wide receiver) Drake (London)," Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Monday. "All of them had impacts and we hope Bijan can continue to do that and keep improving. There are plays he makes that he's very natural at, but that kinda takes the credit away from how hard he works."
Ridder played arguably his best game as a pro against Green Bay. In his sixth NFL start, Ridder completed 19 of 32 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. He also had 39 yards on the ground and scored on a crucial 6-yard run early in the fourth quarter, which sparked a 13-0 Falcons run to close the game.
"You saw some of that last year with him, and that was a thing you liked about him. He can extend plays," Smith said of Ridder's progression in and out of the pocket.
"Sometimes it wasn't necessarily the protection, it was he felt the lane, and he's got enough speed that if he takes the lane he can make the play."
Ridder also threw his first career interception, but Smith still praised his young quarterback for coming through late in the game.
"He's a winner," Smith said. "The guys believe in him. You can see it in their eyes in critical situations, he's at his best."
After not catching a pass in the season opener, London, a second-year pro, had team highs in receptions (six) and yards (67) against the Packers. His 3-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter helped trim Green Bay's lead to 10-9 at halftime.
Second-year tailback Tyler Allgeier has played his new role to a tee after setting Atlanta's franchise rookie single-season rushing record with 1,035 yards. Allgeier (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) and Robinson (5-11, 215) are almost identical in size and the two are complementing each other in the Falcons' hard-nosed rushing attack.
The Falcons head to the Motor City Sunday to take on a Lions team (1-1) coming off a 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"We know we have a tough challenge going on the road to face Detroit, who lost a tough one in overtime last week," Smith said. "I'm sure the place will be rocking. We're going into a foreign environment so I'm sure it'll be loud, a lot of energy in the building, so we will need to be ready to roll."
Outside of veteran quarterback Jared Goff, Detroit, like Atlanta, is also a young team offensively, especially at the skill spots.
First-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs has 14 carries for 59 yards and nine receptions for 57 yards this season. Starting tight end Sam LaPorta, a second-round pick, has 10 receptions for 102 yards to open his rookie year.
Third-year pros Amon-Ra St. Brown and Penei Sewell are arguably the Lions' two best players. In Detroit's first two games, St. Brown has tallied 12 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown as the Lions' top wideout. Sewell started at right tackle last year but moved to left tackle last week in place of Taylor Decker (ankle).
--Falcons all-purpose back Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) and cornerback Jeff Okudah (foot) did not play for the second straight game. Both players were limited in practice last week.
Smith said the team escaped basically injury-free in the win over the Packers.
"Nothing major, just some bumps and bruises," Smith said. "It was a physical game but nothing really of any concern."
--Robinson ranks second in the NFL in rushing behind San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey. Robinson has 180 yards on the ground in two games and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry on 29 attempts.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert had his best game of the young season in the 38-3 shellacking of the New England Patriots on Sunday in Week 4. Tolbert hauled in all four of his targets for 53 yards, which was third on the team in this one behind tight end Jake Ferguson and receiver Michael Gallup. Both the catches and receiving yards were career-highs for the 24-year-old Tolbert, and he also made a big special-teams tackle early in the game. Fantasy managers can continue to ignore Tolbert, even in deeper formats, as he's currently behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Gallup on the receiver depth chart in Dallas.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told ESPN1000 in Chicago that wide receiver Chase Claypool will remain away from the team this week as they prepare for their Week 5 matchup against the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football. The Bears made some changes to their offense heading into the Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the biggest of which was making the struggling Claypool a healthy scratch. A report on Sunday also surfaced that the Bears are seeking to trade the 25-year-old wideout to a team that is in need of receiver depth. In the first three weeks this year, Claypool has just four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. His fantasy value has hit rock bottom at this point, but a change of scenery could do him some good.
It wasn't much, but Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a season-high four passes on four targets for 27 receiving yards in the team's 38-3 blowout win over the New England Patriots in Week 4 on Sunday in Dallas. Cooks returned in Week 3 from a knee injury after missing one game and he has six receptions for 44 yards on 11 targets the last two weeks. The Cowboys really haven't had to throw the ball all that much early on this year, which has hurt Cooks in his first year with the team. That won't remain the a case all year, but the 30-year-old veteran wideout probably isn't going to have a very dynamic role in this offense unless CeeDee Lamb or Michael Gallup miss time with an injury.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) is getting his injured hamstring scanned on Monday. It's not just a tweak, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. We'll have to wait to see what the tests show on his hamstring, but at this point, he seems pretty questionable to play in Week 5 against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens. Before leaving Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, the 24-year-old had three catches on four targets for just seven yards. If you've been rolling with Freiermuth as your TE1, you'd be wise to start making backup plans for Week 5 now. If he's unable to play against Baltimore, Darnell Washington and Connor Heyward would both be in line for bigger pass-catching roles for the Steelers.
New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas hauled in two of three targets for 45 yards against the Cowboys in Week 4. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Douglas seemed to impress the Patriots' coaching staff throughout training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season, with the exception of his Week 2 fumble. The Patriots have a somewhat deep but not very top-heavy receiving corps, creating the possibility for Douglas to earn more targets if he keeps playing well. Dynasty managers would be wise to stash the Liberty product.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne hauled in two of three targets for 36 yards in Week 4 versus the Cowboys. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. This was the Bourne's worst game of the season in terms of both statistics and fantasy production. The 28-year-old had a big Week 1, playing 91 percent of snaps and scoring two touchdowns, but has come back down to earth since then. Notably, he has yet to log more than 56 percent of snaps in a single game since the opener. He has lost playing time to DeVante Parker and Demario Douglas and isn't an appealing fantasy option for the time being.
Cleveland Browns All-Pro pass-rusher Myles Garrett (ankle) rolled his ankle in the Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and was seen in a walking boot after the game, but it doesn't seem to be a major injury. The Browns are heading into their bye in Week 5, and Garrett assured reporters on Sunday that he's not going to miss any time with his ankle injury. It's great timing for the 27-year-old, the Browns defense and fantasy managers that have Garrett rostered in IDP leagues, as he should be back and ready to rock in Week 6 at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Garrett is one of the best pass-rushers in football and has nine tackles (eight solo) and 5.5 sacks through the first four weeks of the 2023 season.
Dynasty | Embattled Jets quarterback Zach Wilson completed 28-of-39 passes for 245 yards and two interceptions in the Jets close loss on SNF to the Chiefs. Dynasty Analysis: The Jets decided to stop playing it safe with Wilson and just let him loose in prime time. The results were shocking as he made difficult throws throughout the night and genuinely looked like a player who should have been taken in the top five of an NFL Draft. This is a small sample size and Wilson still made a critical mistake on a late fumble but the talk of Trevor Siemian taking over will be extinguished for now. Wilson is still off the dynasty radar but he at least has a pulse.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (finger) suffered a fractured finger on his left, non-throwing hand in the Week 4 win over the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, according to sources. Herbert's finger also suffered a gruesome nail injury, but he somehow finished the game and with the team's bye coming in Week 5, Herbert shouldn't miss any time. Once he returned to the game after having a split put on his fractured finger, he didn't take any snaps under center, except for a fourth-down sneak late in the game. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said he doesn't see this being a major issue for Herbert moving forward. The 25-year-old saved his fantasy day on Sunday with two rushing touchdowns, but he should remain a strong QB1 option coming off the bye for a Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Oct. 16.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Cowboys on Sunday evening. He also hauled in two of three targets for an additional 10 yards through the air. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Stevenson's relative struggles were the product of an ugly game that saw Mac Jones get benched in the second half. With that said, the Patriots face the Saints next week, which could be a bit more favorable. Stevenson should be treated as a low-end fantasy RB2.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens caught just three of his seven targets for 25 yards in the team's 30-6 blowout loss to the Houston Texans. Still, outside of running backs, the second-year pro led the team in receiving yards. The entire Pittsburgh offense sputtered against a beatable Houston defense. They also lost quarterback Kenny Pickett (knee) and tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) to injuries. It appears as though Mitch Trubisky could get the start against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. The passing game can't get much worse, so Pickens will still be viewed as a flex option next week.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren received 14 opportunities out of the backfield in the team's 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans. The second-year pro turned eight carries and six catches into 55 total yards. Warren and Najee Harris nearly split the touches 50/50. The starter ran the ball 14 times and caught one pass on two targets. Both backs saw 49% of the snaps in the blowout loss. Warren and the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. An already struggling offense could have a new quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, who is likely to start in place of Kenny Pickett (knee).
New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed just six times for 16 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. He added six receiving yards on two catches. The Patriots lost by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Elliott was reportedly expected to handle the workload of an RB1 on Sunday, but that certainly did not happen. Not only did he and the offense struggle, but he was out-touched by Rhamondre Stevenson, 16 to eight. Elliott should not be started in fantasy football, and he can be dropped in leagues with 10 or fewer teams.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris cobbled together a fantasy-relevant performance for the Steelers in their 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans. The third-year pro ran the ball 14 times for 71 yards and caught one pass for 32 yards. His 100-yard performance was his first of the young season, despite his lowest snap percentage of the campaign. Backup running back Jaylen Warren received 14 touches in the game. The Steelers scored just six points on the afternoon as the offense continued to sputter. Harris and the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, where quarterback Mitch Trubisky may start in place of Kenny Pickett (knee).
New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry remained the team's most involved pass-catcher on Sunday, hauling in four of five targets for 51 yards. The Patriots lost to the Cowboys by a score of 38-3, falling to 1-3 on the season. Henry has 17 catches, 176 yards, and two touchdowns so far, ranking as the overall TE6 in PPR leagues. As much as the Patriots' offense has endured sporadic struggles, Henry has remained a relatively constant force and should be started in most fantasy leagues going forward. The Patriots face the Saints in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (knee) will miss some time but it appears he's avoided a season-ending injury. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports that an MRI showed no ACL injury to Pickett's knee. We'll have a better idea about Pickett's injury soon but expect Mitchell Trubisky to start in Week 5 against Baltimore. Following their tilt against the Ravens, the Steelers will have a bye week. Pickett hasn't been good for fantasy managers this season and isn't on rosters in standard-sized redraft leagues. The Steelers' offense has been a disaster so far in 2023 and a new quarterback may not solve the problem.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) may not miss any time with what is believed to be a minor hamstring injury. The 30-year-old departed the game against New Orleans in the second quarter after snagging three catches for 40 yards. The Buccaneers are on bye in Week 5 which gives Evans more time to heal. They'll face the Detroit Lions in Week 6. If he is still unable to play two weeks from now, Chris Godwin will play the role of No. 1 wide receiver. Trey Palmer and Deven Thompkins would also earn more snaps.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen caught seven of his eight targets for 76 yards in a 21-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Thielen wound up leading all Panthers receivers in yardage while finishing second behind Terrace Marshall Jr. in targets and catches. Thielen has been productive since his Week 1 dud, going for 25 catches and two touchdowns over his past three games. Emerging as the top target in Carolina, Thielen has earned every week WR3 status in fantasy. He will look to stay hot against the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 5.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. caught nine of his 11 targets for 56 yards in a 21-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Marshall saw an uptick in playing time with rookie Jonathan Mingo (concussion) inactive and he made the most of those chances by leading the Panthers in catches and targets in the loss. The third-year receiver has been busy over the past two weeks as he has drawn 18 targets, turning those into 14 receptions for 91 scoreless yards. That being said, Marshall is likely to return to a backup role once Mingo is ready to return, which could be as soon as Week 5 against the Detroit Lions.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young completed 25 of his 32 passes for 204 yards and added 10 yards on two carries with a lost fumble in a 21-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Young did not throw any touchdowns or interceptions in the contest. The rookie signal-caller missed his team's game in Week 3 with an ankle injury but he appeared to emerge from Week 4 without any issues. Young has now thrown just two touchdowns to go along with two interceptions in three contests. He will face off against the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 5.