The NFL is the ultimate snow-globe league, where everything seems to change in 15 minutes. But one of the surest bets is the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Patriots rebounding from a losing performance.
New England wasn’t sharp in an opening-night loss to Kansas City in Week 1, but a trip to New Orleans is a cure for what ails you. Brady and Friends rolled up 555 yards of offense Sunday — the fifth-highest total in the Belichick era — en route to an easy 36-20 victory.
To be blunt, the Pats left many points on the field. They settled for three field goals, and Stephen Gostkowski also botched an extra point. But most of your New England fantasy angles were well-fed for three hours.
[Watch on Yahoo: Ravens vs. Jaguars live from London Sept. 24]
Start with Brady, who had his way against that leaky Saints secondary (30-for-39, 447 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions). It could have been an even bigger day for Brady — Rob Gronkowski (6-116-1) dropped a touchdown pass, and there was a missed connection with Brandin Cooks (43 total yards, four targets). But Brady navigated the pocket expertly, and was on target with most of his deliveries.
Cooks, ostensibly the team’s No. 1 wideout, was the only name-brand Patriot who didn’t please his fantasy owners. Meanwhile, Chris Hogan posted a solid 5-78-1 line, and the three primary backs (Mike Gillislee, James White, Rex Burkhead) turned in decent production. Heck, even Phillip Dorsett (3-68-0) looked like a useful NFL player.
The lone concern from the New England sideline was a steady stream of hobbling players. Gronkowski took an early siesta after suffering a groin injury; the decision to rest him seemed precautionary. Hogan was limping for a chunk of the day, dealing with a nagging knee injury. Fantasy owners will have to navigate the New England injury report — always something of a fool’s errand — during the week.
The Patriots face a notable challenge in Week 3, with Houston’s defense headed to Foxboro. But when Brady is as crisp as he was Sunday (and yes, “against the Saints” has to be taken into account), you like this offenses’s chances against anyone.
The Saints offense never really got clicking and made it a competitive game, though Drew Brees finished with strong numbers (27-for-45, 356 yards, two touchdowns, no picks) and had his usual garbage-time touchdown pass. Brandon Coleman (4-82-1) and Coby Fleener (3-33-1) got into the box, while Ted Ginn’s slow start continued (2-34-0, six targets). Michael Thomas posted a 5-89-0 line on 10 looks.
Mark Ingram (12 touches, 76 yards) was handy in his role, and Alvin Kamara (54 total yards) looked dynamite on one 38-yard reception. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson (8-26-0) continues to be a square peg in a round hole, a puzzling misfit with the Saints offense. He’s the team’s clear No. 3 running back, and I have no confidence he’ll turn things around anytime soon.
The Saints travel to the Panthers in Week 3. Maybe they can get Carolina’s offense going, too.
YOUNG BUCK STARS IN BALTIMORE
While no one wanted to see veteran Danny Woodhead injured in Week 1, his absence might not hurt the Ravens much. Javorius Allen wasn’t in Baltimore’s plans before the Woodhead injury, but he’s a primary factor now.
Allen flashed in Sunday’s 24-10 win over Cleveland, picking up 101 total yards on 19 touches. Allen showed nifty patience and field-awareness on a nine-yard touchdown catch, and for the second straight week, proved he could handle a heavy workload. The third-year product from USC looks like a likely breakout candidate. (Meanwhile, Terrance West, who also had a touchdown, was limited to 16 snaps.)
Some fantasy owners have been slow to get the memo. Allen was a popular pickup in Yahoo this week, but still lagged at 54 percent owned as Sunday’s action kicked in. Surely that number will spike significantly this week.
The only knock on the Allen buzz — Baltimore lost star LG Marshall Yanda (ankle) for the season. But it’s also possible the Yanda injury could push the Ravens to use the short-passing game more; perhaps it could lead to even more reliance on Allen, who’s already proven his chops in the receiving game. The Ravens face Jacksonville, in London (and on Yahoo!), next week.
— I never understood the movement away from Devonta Freeman this summer, at least in some quarters. The Falcons have two talented backs, so what? In today’s NFL, a committee starts at three, and being tied to a juggernaut offense is a wonderful thing. And while the Falcons did lose respected OC Kyle Shanahan, all the other main offensive pieces returned.
— There’s a lot wrong with the Seattle passing game, though I would still bet on Russell Wilson (who had several balls dropped on him Sunday) and Doug Baldwin. Jimmy Graham has looked terrible for two weeks, though, and might simply be cooked.
— Derrick Henry closed out Tennessee’s critical win at Jacksonville, and although a DeMarco Murray injury played into things, it sure looks like Henry is the difference-making back here.
— The Colts offense still has plenty of problems, but at least Jacoby Brissett is an improvement over Scott Tolzien. Jack Doyle (8-79-0, eight targets) was excellent Sunday.
— Kareem Hunt didn’t even have a good game, for him, Sunday, and he still wound up with 109 yards and two scores. He’s special.
— I needed to see something from Martavis Bryant before I could start ranking him proactively. I saw it Sunday. I also give Minnesota’s defense a ton of credit, keeping this game close despite minimal help from the offense.
— A little Jalen Richard and Chris Thompson goes a long way. I don’t know how many touches they’ll regularly see, but I’m always wanting more. I recognize neither has ideal body composition for a featured role (and obviously Richard is behind Marshawn Lynch), but they’re likely to play into deeper-league relevance.
— It’s hard to take the Packers result at face value, with a patchwork offensive line and the early Jordy Nelson injury. But I’ll never feel like Mike McCarthy is good at recognizing his talent, or maximizing it. That said, I’m as over the moon for Ty Montgomery as everyone else is.
— You have to be coy about it, but now is a great time to trade for Joe Mixon. The Bengals aren’t using three backs because they’re all demanding playing time (like, say, the Patriots); they’re waiting for someone to emerge. if they give Mixon even a little bit of leash, he should step through the opportunity, even despite that offensive line (a problem most teams seem to be facing these days). As poorly as the Bengals have played, they’ve also ran into a nightmare schedule.