Week 9 was a tough week for favorites, for overdogs, for brand-name teams and high-flying offenses.
To be fair, the schedule played nicely for the Pokes and the Bills. Dallas hosted the Falcons on Sunday, the second-worst defense in the league. Buffalo traveled to the Jets, facing the worst defense in football. This is what you mean when you say “get right spot.”
We’ll give Dak Prescott and his mates the first lead, as Dallas blasted the Falcons, 43-3. Prescott was letter-perfect in the win, throwing for 296 yards and two scores and adding a third touchdown on the ground. He completed 24-of-31 attempts, made 9.5 yards per pass.
CeeDee Lamb asserted himself as the alpha receiver, securing 6-of-7 targets for 94 yards and two scores. The Cowboys were proactive getting him the ball quickly and in space, and Lamb also made plays in the intermediate quadrants of the field. He could be the No. 1 wideout in fantasy someday; he can run away from defenders, and also win when he’s essentially covered. For now, we’ll happily enjoy Lamb as an automatic starter.
Field-stretching wideout Michael Gallup returned to the lineup and although his 3-42-0 game (five targets) didn’t swing any fantasy matchups, he makes Dallas more difficult to defend. We have to view him as a player much better in real life than in our stat-chasing pursuit. Amari Cooper also was fairly quiet, catching all four of his targets (4-51-0).
When Dallas’s full offensive personnel is healthy, you wonder how anyone can stop them.
The Falcons actually stopped the Dallas running game fairly well, but so what? This is 2021, run defense scarcely matters. Ezekiel Elliott (14-41) bailed out his day with a couple of short touchdown plunges; he also lost a fumble. Tony Pollard picked up more work than usual — this game was a blowout before halftime — and made the most of it, parlaying 17 touches into 98 yards. No team has a better one-two punch in the backfield.
Falcons never get going
The Falcons used their starters for about three quarters before turning to the backups. The less we say about Atlanta, the better. Kyle Pitts did manage 60 yards on his seven targets. Cordarrelle Patterson only saw five touches (4-25 rushing, 1-14 receiving). Matt Ryan never got comfortable against the aggressive Dallas defense; he finished with 117 passing yards, with two interceptions ands two sacks.
Diggs finally busts out
Things were nearly as lopsided in New Jersey, where the Bills put a 45-17 beating on the Jets. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs had their first smooth start of the year; Diggs busted out for a glorious 8-162-1 afternoon, including the prettiest timing touchdown you ever did see. Allen chucked for 366 yards and two scores, rolling up 13.1 per attempt. New York’s defense can cure what ails you.
The Bills also had success running the ball, for once (something they couldn’t do against Jacksonville last week). Devin Singletary, Matt Breida, Zack Moss, and wideout Isaiah McKenzie all had rushing touchdowns, and Breida added a second one through the air. It’s a glorious day when everything you call is working. Buffalo finished with 26 first downs and 489 yards of offense.
Buffalo will get a sterner test next week, against an Indianapolis defense that grades better than average. But Dallas will probably head to the arcade again, ready to play pinball against the struggling Chiefs defense.
Game on for A.J. Dillon
At first glance, there wasn’t much of a story in Green Bay’s 17-0 whitewash of Seattle. The teams combined for just three first-half points, the lowest-scoring first half of the NFL season. Russell Wilson probably came back a week or two early; he never shook off the rust. D.K. Metcalf did little (3-26-0, eight targets), then got himself ejected in the final minute.
But fantasy leagues might swing from a piece of Green Bay news. Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury — it’s feared to be an MCL sprain — and that sets up A.J. Dillon to take over the pilot’s chair in the Packers backfield.
Dillon’s Sunday line was mostly about volume and opportunity. His 21 carries only went for 66 yards, though he punched in two short touchdowns. Dillon also had a pair of catches, one a 50-yard jaunt. His game will never be mistaken for Christian McCaffrey, but Dillon isn’t a zero in the passing game, either, despite seeing little of that work at Boston College. And his powerful inside running meshes well with the rest of the Packers offense.
The Green Bay schedule is competitive going forward, but Dillon is going to be at least a Top 10 fantasy back while Jones is out. The Packers visit Minnesota next week, then host the Rams. Green Bay takes its bye in Week 13.
Bulleted quick-hitter notes to follow after SNF