It was the most perfect start of Aaron Rodgers’ career. Missing Davante Adams (toe) for the third straight game, Rodgers became the first quarterback since 1991 to throw for five touchdowns while adding another on the ground, turning in a 158.3 QB rating in the process. Quietly heating up in recent weeks, Rodgers’ explosion was his first three-score effort of the season. He just happened to double it.
The Raiders, of course, were a soft matchup, but Rodgers was playing with his second-team supporting cast. In addition to Adams being on the shelf, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was healthy enough for only 20 snaps. Geronimo Allison, 32. It was Allen Lazard (49) and Jake Kumerow (41) who paced the Packers’ receiver corps in plays as Rodgers threw for the fourth most yards of his career (429) and posted “just” his fifth five-score passing performance.
Rodgers did a little bit of everything, threading a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Aaron Jones in the end zone, putting Kumerow on the tightrope for a 37-yard score and sucking the safety in on Valdes-Scantling’s 74-yard TD rumble in the fourth. It was MVS who deserved the bulk of the credit for his monster YAC-a-thon, but Rodgers was doing all the little things right against the Raiders, and it finally led to his overdue big day under new coach Matt LaFleur.
Despite some early-season chatter, Rodgers is still every bit Aaron Rodgers. Another day or two like Sunday and he will retake his customary place in the MVP race. He has the schedule to get scorching, with Green Bay venturing to Kansas City for Week 8 before paying a visit to Los Angeles to pack the Chargers’ soccer stadium with Packers fans. Most importantly, Adams should finally be nearing a return. Sparking his ancillary cast during Adams’ absence should be an achievement with lasting 2019 consequences for Rodgers. Enjoy your QB1.
Five Week 7 Storylines
Matt Ryan injures ankle as Falcons bottom out. Gunning for his seventh straight 300-yard day, Ryan instead collapsed through the crust of the earth, generating just 159 yards and zero scores through three-plus quarters of work. When Aaron Donald — who else? — twisted up his leg in the fourth frame, Ryan had a difficult time making it to the locker room, though he did do so under his own power. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported later Sunday that the Falcons are optimistic their quarterback has avoided serious injury, but a Monday MRI will tell the tale. Even if that test brings back its expected good news, Ryan could be a long shot for Week 8. The 1-6 Falcons are hosting the Seahawks before heading on bye. Unless Ryan is dead set on keeping his games played streak alive — currently 153 — resting him ahead of the open date makes a lot of sense. Matt Schaub would be a terrifying proposition for Julio Jones and company in fantasy.
Lamar Jackson launches himself further into the stratosphere. Playing in rain-soaked Seattle, Jackson was missing his top vertical threat in Marquise Brown (ankle). No. 2 Mark Andrews was active, but he dropped more passes (three) than he caught (two). Jackson took matters into his own hands, emerging with 14/116/1 as a rusher, giving him back-to-back 100-yard efforts. That joins him with 2018 Josh Allen — really — as only the second quarterback to post consecutive 100-yard days on the ground in the post-merger era. Jackson’s 576 rushing yards are fifth in the league, as well as the most ever — by 72 — for a quarterback through the first seven games. Doing things we’ve never seen before, Jackson is also bringing some oldies back, like his single wing formation score in Seattle. Headed on bye, Jackson will return to the toughest test of his young career: vs. New England.
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Kerryon Johnson suffers knee injury for second time in as many years. Johnson made it only 11 snaps before departing vs. the Vikings. When he returned to the sideline, it was with a brace on his balky knee. It has Johnson looking doubtful for Week 8 against the Giants, as well as maybe lending credence to the Lions’ fixation on limiting his snaps. That is something they had been failing at recently, with the sophomore piling up both plays and touches. Now his leash might not be so long once he returns. If Johnson is out for Week 8, Ty Johnson will be a plug-and-play RB2 for a plus matchup. J.D. McKissic will have some FLEX appeal as a change-of-pace pass catcher who was already involved in the offense.
Will Fuller departs minutes into game in Indianapolis. In a cruel parody of himself, Fuller made it three snaps before his day was through. Three was how many touchdowns he scored in Week 5 and how many he dropped in Week 6. That means we’ve been treated to the “Full Fuller” over the Texans’ past three games. No one’s idea of a fast healer, Fuller will almost certainly miss his golden Week 8 date with the Raiders. Just back from a hamstring issue of his own, Kenny Stills was Fuller’s 1-for-1 replacement in Indy, corralling 4-of-5 targets for 105 yards. Stills will have WR3 appeal if Fuller does indeed miss time. Keke Coutee, who generated Deshaun Watson’s game-ending “interception” on Sunday, will be a low-ceiling WR4.
Melvin Gordon’s return continues to not go according to plan. Stoned for 32 yards on 16 carries, Gordon wasn’t content with merely having a bad day on the ground. It needed to be a game-coster. That’s what Gordon did with seven seconds remaining, fumbling away the Chargers’ chances on his second of two failed goal-line carries. Gordon’s awful day came as Austin Ekeler piled up 125 yards on 12 touches, albeit only 5/7 on the ground. Losing is always a team effort for the Chargers. Gordon is receiving atrocious run blocking. With little time to throw, Philip Rivers is struggling to get the offense into rhythm. That still doesn’t absolve Gordon’s 2.3 YPC, or the fact that he’s yet to clear 50 yards from scrimmage in three games. Gordon has not been ready following his marathon holdout. Even without Akiem Hicks, the Bears will be the opposite of a get-right spot in Week 8.
Five More Week 7 Storylines
David Johnson no-shows vs. Giants, Chase Edmonds explodes for three scores. In a flashback to fantasy horrors past, Johnson was declared “active” only for it to be on an emergency basis. Amusingly, Johnson played the first snap before disappearing for all but two more plays. Those came when Edmonds, woozy from the workload, found himself paying a visit to a sideline trash can. It’s unclear what really happened. The Cardinals had only two running backs active, suggesting they weren’t planning on Johnson’s limited day. The fact that he literally started also supports the notion. Either way, the indicators were false positives, and Johnson’s status going forward should be considered up in the air. Edmonds was already deserving of a bigger role before Sunday’s domination. However the touches are split up in Week 8, it will be for a daunting road trip to New Orleans.
Adam Thielen tweaks hamstring as Vikings’ offense continues to heat up. Thielen scored a 25-yard touchdown 10 minutes into the Vikes’ 42-30 victory and was never heard from again. Injured on an awkward slide at the back of the end zone on his score, Thielen later claimed he could be ready for Thursday’s quick turnaround against the Redskins, but Profootballtalk reports the team fears he is more week to week than day to day. A Monday MRI will provide clarity, but the fact that Thielen is undergoing an MRI in the first place is clarifying. You don’t usually undergo an MRI then play 72 hours later. Especially considering the 5-2 Vikings’ lowly short-week opponent, the odds are slim that Thielen suits up. Olabisi Johnson was the next man up on Sunday. Stefon Diggs will be a bona fide WR1 in Thielen’s absence.
Marvin Jones has four-score afternoon vs. Vikes. Playing opposite Thielen was Jones, whose four-touchdown day somehow was not even the first of his career. He joins Jerry Rice and Sterling Sharpe as just the third wideout to post multi four-score efforts. Jones, who entered the proceedings 20/294/1, finished his day 10/93/4. Despite being one of the league’s premier big-play threats, Jones has actually now been held below 10.0 yards per catch in 3-of-6 appearances. That’s with Matthew Stafford’s average intended air yards skyrocketing this season. Three of Sunday’s touchdowns came on fades. As volatile as ever, Jones does have a perfect Week 8 matchup in the Giants to keep cashing top-30 checks at receiver.
Jacoby Brissett has four-touchdown day vs. Texans. Rebounding from a zero-score effort in the Colts’ Week 5 upset of the Chiefs, Brissett immolated the Texans for a career-best 326 yards. The four-touchdown outing was his first. Brissett was mostly taking advantage of terrible defense — have the Texans ever considered defending a crossing route? — but that’s something good quarterbacks do. Brissett has been blessed with excellent coaching and better blocking and known what to do with it. Brissett has posted multiple scores in 5-of-6 starts, and at least three in 3-of-6. He has back-to-back wild card matchups in the Broncos and Steelers before a Week 10 smash spot in the Dolphins.
Mark Walton takes control of the Dolphins’ backfield. Getting the start after the Dolphins’ Tank Bowl triumph, Walton rushed 14 times for 66 yards, out-carrying Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage a combined 14-9. Ballage frustratingly vultured the goal-line look, but Walton’s usage was the culmination of a weeks-long process. The Dolphins seem desperate to trade Drake, and Ballage has proven to simply not be good. Walton is also capable of catching of passes, so he could carve out a rather large role down the stretch, one that might not be nuked by the Dolphins’ weekly negative game script. Walton’s supporting cast will make it difficult for him to rise above RB3 status, but he is now a legitimate consideration.
1. I just … how, Chargers?
2. Will Dan Quinn be coaching inside or outside linebackers for the Seahawks next season?
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Jacoby Brissett (vs. DEN), Teddy Bridgewater (vs. AZ), Ryan Tannehill (vs. TB), Sam Darnold (@JAX), Derek Carr (@HOU), Matt Moore (vs. GB), Mason Rudolph (vs. MIA)
RB: Ty Johnson, Chase Edmonds, Ronald Jones, Mark Walton, Darrell Henderson, Derrius Guice, J.D. McKissic
WR: Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Auden Tate, N’Keal Harry, Miles Boykin
TE: Vance McDonald, Chris Herndon, Kyle Rudolph, Dallas Goedert, Dawson Knox, Ricky Seals-Jones, Mike Gesicki, Jacob Hollister
DEF: Steelers (vs. MIA), Colts (vs. DEN), Panthers (@SF), Lions (vs. NYG), Eagles (@BUF), Packers (@KC), Jets (@JAX)
Stats of the Week
The Bengals have 372 yards rushing. Their opponents have 1,323. As The Lord points out, that -951 yard difference is the largest ever through the first seven games of the season.
14/197/2. Hunter Henry’s statline through two games since his return. It’s getting harder to sort the top five at tight end.
Tweet of the Week, from Bobby Big Wheel: I like to think San Diego has come to terms with losing the Chargers to a soccer stadium by LAX.
The Have You Ever Considered Diving For That Award: Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter on Sunday evening. Sometimes the camera angles can be deceptive on these plays. I have yet to see one in this instance.
The It’s Still Not Too Late To Consider Going By Mitch Award: Mitchell Trubisky.
The We Were Beaten In All Three Phases Award: The Falcons, in the words of their own coach, Dan Quinn. Not ideal since Quinn just fired all three of his coordinators last winter!
Establish The Tank Award, Via Adam Beasley: The Dolphins just controlled the ball for 9:59 and emerged from the drive with no points.
And Then For Some Reason… Award: Alex Erickson catching eight passes for 137 yards against the Jaguars.