On one hand … I mean, have you seen Zach Wilson? Hurry up, Aaron!
On the other … Rodgers will be 40 on Dec. 2, he'll be just three and a half months removed from a serious injury, and trying to come back in the middle of what will be a hotly contested playoff race at that point. I don't want to say it's impossible for Rodgers to come back that quickly and play well enough to elevate the Jets offense, but there's absolutely no precedent for that kind of return on that kind of timetable, especially for a player as old as Rodgers.
Which is to say, I think we should probably just ignore this bit of news, for the most part. A lot of relevant, impactful stuff happened Sunday around the NFL, and most of it is a lot more likely to be relevant and impactful than Rodgers' status in five weeks. We can look forward to his potential return, but we shouldn't be counting on it to drastically reshape the Jets fortunes.
Before we get to my biggest winners and losers from Sunday's action around the NFL, make sure you check out my early waiver-wire column here, where I wrote about why Trey McBride and Joshua Dobbs both need to make the leap to universally rostered, plus why Devin Singletary, Demario Douglas, and Brandin Cooks might need to be more rostered, too.
And while there were a handful of injuries you certainly need to be aware of – Derek Carr left with a shoulder injury and Taylor Heinicke left with a hamstring issue, Baker Mayfield (thumb) and Deshaun Watson (ankle) both played through issues, and Michael Thomas hurt his knee – there's one that stands out as potentially more impactful for Fantasy than the rest: Alexander Mattison's concussion. He left the game in the second half and was replaced by Ty Chandler as the lead back, though it's worth noting that Chandler had matched Mattison eight-for-eight in carries to that point and had the short-yardage touchdown earlier.
Chandler absolutely belongs on all Fantasy radars leading up to the Week 11 waiver-wire run, and if Mattison looks like he's going to miss time, Chandler could be the top target when waivers run Tuesday night.
But we'll hopefully know more when you get Tuesday's newsletter. We'll update you on all the injuries that will impact Week 11, including some we surely don't know about yet. I'll have that for you tomorrow along with the full waiver-wire breakdown and the first-look at my Week 11 rankings. For now, here's our look back at Sunday's action:
Biggest winners and losers
Here's who has the arrow pointing up or down coming out of Sunday's action:
Over the past four games, here's where Dak Prescott has ranked among quarterbacks, per JJ Zachariason: First, third, second, and, as of Sunday's games, first this week. It coincided with a much more aggressive approach, as Prescott has an average intended air yards of at least 8.7 yards in each of those games, after being below 7.0 in each of his first four. The Cowboys are 3-1 in that stretch, and it's not like he's just been beating up on the likes of the Giants – he had 374 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Eagles.
I'm hesitant to just say Prescott is back to being a must-start, top-10 QB, because the Cowboys' more conservative tendencies could just come back. On the other hand, he threw the ball 35 times in much less than a full game where the Cowboys led by 28 at halftime, so maybe they've turned a corner. It's not a tide that has lifted all boats – more about that later – but Prescott has been tremendous lately, with CeeDee Lamb looking like a legitimate elite WR and Brandin Cooks finally coming alive Sunday. It's going to be hard to get away from Prescott moving forward.
Over the past three games, no team has dropped back to pass as often as the Commanders, who are averaging 51 dropbacks in that span. And Howell has only been sacked seven times in that span, a 4.6% rate that would be the sixth-lowest in the league for the full season – Howell was sacked on 12.8% of his dropbacks through the first seven weeks. Howell has always been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but he's a legitimately talented thrower, and if he's figuring out how to keep his worst tendencies in line without sacrificing the high-value throws that make him so fun in a sustainable way, he legitimately could be a top-12 QB moving forward.
There was some flukiness to his 312 yards and three touchdowns Sunday, with Brian Robinson breaking off several long catches, though even those showed what Howell can do at a high level. Robinson's 51-yard touchdown saw Howell evade almost immediate pressure from a corner blitz, climb the ladder and scramble with his eyes up, allowing him to see Robinson streaking past the defense. It was a great play, even if he only threw it a few yards past the line of scrimmage. It's a small sample size, so skepticism is warranted, but if Howell is figuring it out, this is what it would look like.
Look at Arthur Smith, accepting criticism, internalizing it, and growing from it. Smith got a lot of questions about Robinson's usage over the past week, and responded with Robinson's career high in carries with 22, while Tyler Allgeier only had nine. I don't think this should be taken as the lightbulb going off for Smith, or anything, but the Falcons were never trailing by more than five points, it wasn't a pass-heavy script, and Robinson still saw that big of a workload, which is different than what we've seen from this backfield for most of the season. We'll take that growth.
You've gotta admit, it's pretty funny that Gibbs got the two 1-yard touchdowns for the Lions, while David Montgomery was the one to break off a 75-yard score. The long touchdown from Montgomery wasn't something you can bet on moving forward, but Gibbs' goal-line role might be for real. The way things were working for the Lions Sunday was fairly simple: Gibbs and Montgomery were swapping drives. What that meant, however, was that when the Lions got in close, they didn't just default to Montgomery near the goal line. If Gibbs is going to be in a true split, with his playmaking and pass-catching and he's got a share of the goal-line role, we might just be talking about a top-12 RB the rest of the way. And all that bellyaching about his usage back in September will look awfully foolish.
To a certain extent, Mitchell's usage Sunday was actually kind of discouraging: Coming off a breakout game, he got just three carries and two targets, while still playing fewer snaps (11) than Justice Hill (13)? That's discouraging. However, what we need Mitchell to keep doing it putting pressure on the coaching staff to get him more involved, and that's just what he did, rushing for 34 yards on his three carries (including a long touchdown) and adding a catch for 32 yards. Mitchell nearly had a truly massive game, but he dropped a downfield target in the end zone. There's no guarantee Mitchell ever becomes the lead back here, but as long as he's routinely ripping off huge chunks of yardage, he's going to have a role, and he might just be one injury away from being a legitimate must-start Fantasy RB.
Tank Dell, WR, Texans
Dell got off to a huge start, catching four of five passes for 39 yards with a touchdown across the game's first three drives, which makes his 6-56-1 line look kind of underwhelming in comparison. But Dell was close to having another truly massive game, as evidenced by his 14 targets on 39 attempts – a 36% target share. You can't count on that target share being sustainable, especially when Nico Collins comes back next week, but Dell earning that many targets still bodes well for his chances moving forward. There might be a sell-high window here, but Dell might also just be a top-24 WR the rest of the way.
I don't know how much to blame Levis for his struggles Sunday, with the Titans offensive line dealing with a bunch of issues that led to Dillon Radunz sliding over from right guard to left tackle for his first snaps of the season there. As expected, the Titans couldn't run the ball against the Buccaneers, and the Titans just weren't equipped to win against a defense that knew they were going to pass. Levis completed just 19 of 39 passes with no touchdowns, and was barely able to get DeAndre Hopkins involved – he had three catches for 27 yards on eight targets. There are going to be more games where Levis plays better, but he's now down to a 56.1% completion rate and 6.5 yards per attempt despite that big game in his debut – he hasn't had a touchdown since. Levis is in a bad situation, and he might not be ready to overcome that yet.
Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
If you read this newsletter regularly, you know I've been pounding the table for Pollard as a buy-low the past few weeks, and I can't help but feel like the second I turn against him, things are going to start to click. But I just don't know how we can have any confidence in Pollard when he had 5.5 PPR points against the Giants, in a game the Cowboys led by 28 at halftime. Sure, the Cowboys were able to pull their starters early, but even still, Rico Dowdle was in the mix throughout the game and just looked better than Pollard. You either die the hero or you live long enough to see yourself become Ezekiel Elliott, I guess.
I don't want to write Pollard off, because this is still such a good situation that any back should be able to thrive in. He's somehow gone 0 for 9 on carries inside the 5-yard line since Week 1, while Elliott was 9 for 19 last season. Yes, Pollard has actually been significantly worse than Elliott was last season in at least one way. That just feels unsustainable, but I've been saying it for weeks and he's still putting up the same poor numbers week after week. It's hard to keep the faith at this point.
Walker has now been out-snapped by Zach Charbonnet three weeks in a row. That does coincide with Walker missing time in practice each week, first with a calf injury and then a chest issue this week, though the fact that he didn't have a game status and was a full participant in practice both Thursday and Friday this week suggests that he's not too banged up.
Which means he might just be in a true committee here. He still received 19 carries, while posting 19.7 PPR points on Sunday, so I'm not exactly hitting the panic button here. But he was targeted just twice in the passing game, and just happened to hit on a 64-yard reception. Walker is an explosive playmaker, so I'm not saying it's a fluke; I am saying it wasn't exactly the most sustainable way to get to 19.7 PPR points. Walker is still a strong starting Fantasy option, but the limited passing game workload and timeshare makes him more like the TD-dependent RB2 he was last season than the stud RB1 we thought he might be after the first few games.
I hesitate to declare Moss completely finished as a Fantasy relevant player, both because he remains a terrific handcuff to Jonathan Taylor, and because I'm not sure how sustainable a 23-to-1 carry split can actually be. But that's the case for keeping Moss stashed on your bench, which is kind of a no-brainer given Taylor's injury history. But what is also a no-brainer is that you can't throw Moss in your lineup in Week 11 when he's playing fewer than a quarter of the Colts snaps as has been the case the past two weeks. He's strictly a reserve piece now.
Kyler Murray just narrowly overthrew Brown in the end zone Saturday, but that would have only salvaged what was otherwise a pretty discouraging game. It was the first game with Murray healthy, so I certainly don't want to be too pessimistic – in fact, Murray looked good enough that I think Sunday calls for optimism as a whole. So, it's important to note that Brown had only one catch on just four targets Sunday. That's fewer than both Rondale Moore, Michael Wilson, and Trey McBride. It's just one game, like I said, but it was also our first look at Brown and Murray in a new offense, and it didn't go great for Brown. That's a bad sign.
Well, I guess we see what happens when we have faith in the Steelers offense, don't we? Johnson scored just 2.7 PPR points Sunday, his worst game since Week 8 of 2020. Johnson followed that up with 14.1, 23.6, and 23.1 points over the next three, so I'm certainly not burying him. And this was, to a certain extent, a matchups thing, as the Packers haven't been great against the run and certainly weren't Sunday, as Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren combined for 183 yards on 31 carries. Still, just four targets isn't enough for Johnson, and it's an especially discouraging showing after Johnson flashed legitimate upside in the Steelers' last couple of outings. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road, but it's tough to be too optimistic about this offense.