Quarterbacks: The top two draft picks in 2016, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, flashed big in Week 9. Both players led their teams (Goff’s Rams and Wentz’s Eagles) to 51 points. Both players have made outstanding strides this season. Wentz is a legitimate MVP candidate and Goff is a much different player under Rams’ coach Sean McVay than he was as a rookie in Jeff Fisher’s system. The Rams have scored 24 touchdowns this season. That is as many as they scored all last season.
Running Backs: The San Francisco 49ers are using Carlos Hyde more as a receiver. He had a season-high 11 targets in Week 9 against the Arizona Cardinals. This has been building and it is clear getting Hyde more involved as a target is a part of coach Kyle Shanahan’s master plan for the second of the season in the past three games, Hyde has had a total of 28 targets. He didn’t have more than six targets in a game in the first six weeks of the season. Hyde has 21 touches against the Cardinals and nine were on receptions. Hyde already has 40 catches this season. His previous career high was 27 last season.
The Rams’ offense came out of the bye week flying high as they scored 51 points in a blowout win at the New York Giants in Week 7. Running back Todd Gurley got in on the action. Gurley tied his season high with eight red-zone touches. He had eight touches in the red zone in Week 3, but he hadn’t had more than five in any other game. When the Rams’ offense is at its best, Gurley is a big part of the action. That will be McVay’s goal on Sunday against Houston.
Wide Receivers: The big target riser of all of Week 8 was Buffalo receiver Deonte Thompson. He was targeted 10 times. Thompson was targeted once the week before. Thompson was cut by the Bears in October and then signed by the Bills. He has 12 catches in three games with Buffalo. He had seven catches on the 10 targets against the Jets. Clearly, Thompson will be part of the Bills’ attack Sunday against the Saints. WR Targets
Jacksonville’s Marqise Lee is becoming a big part of the game plan. He tied a season high with 12 targets on Sunday. After being targeted 14 times from Weeks 3-5, Lee’s targets have increased. He has been targeted 28 times in the past three games.
Tight Ends: Baltimore’s Benjamin Watson was targeted 10 times in Week 9 against Tennessee. It was up from four targets in Week 8. Watson had seven catches for 41 yards, up from two catches for six yards the week before. A big reason why Oakland beat Miami in Week 9 was the play of Jared Cook. He was targeted a season-high nine times and had a season-high eight catches, for 126 yards. Cook has 39 catches. He is on pace for his best season of NFL career at the age of 30. He his season-high catch total is 52, set in 2014 while with St. Louis.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning’s slide is nothing new this week. It has been happening. Manning has been in a season-long funk. Really, scouts noticed Manning’s decline beginning last season. He has no zip on the ball and his accuracy is failing him. He hasn’t completed more than 58.3 percent of his passes (a meager number) since Week 4. His completion percentage has fallen in all but two weeks this season. Manning’s time may be coming to an end with the Giants.
Running Backs: Carolina Panthers’ rookie Christian McCaffrey’s biggest contribution thus far has been as a receiver. But his targets are headed south McCaffrey had six targets. McCaffrey, the No. 8 overall pick in the April draft, had a season-high 14 targets in Week 6. Since then, McCaffrey has been targeted nines, seven and six times. However, McCaffrey is not falling out of the game plan in Carolina. He had 66 yards on 15 carries in a win over Atlanta on Sunday. It was his season high for carries. He had 13 in Week 1
Wide Receivers: Miami’s offense has been out of sync. Coach Adam Gase has been publicly bashing the unit. However, in Week 9, the Miami offense came alive. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler played well after missing time with a ribs injury. However, the Dolphins produced on offense with standout receiver Jarvis Landry taking a lesser role. He was targeted seven times against the Raiders. It was his season low. He hadn’t been targeted less than 11 times in every other game. Landry was targeted a total of 37 times in the past three games.
Tight Ends: The Jets’ are going away from Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He was a targeted just twice in the Week 9 win over Buffalo. He was targeted a combined 19 times in Weeks 5 and 6. Yet, the game plan has been going away from him in recent weeks. He has been targeted just 12 times in the past three games combined.