What We Saw: Week 5

Alvin Kamara looked like the Alvin Kamara we all know and love

Rams @ Seahawks

Final Score: Rams 26, Seahawks 17

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

This mouthwatering NFC West matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football turned into an uninspiring affair littered with penalties, missed opportunities, and misfires from both coaching staffs. The highlight of the night was provided by Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, who recovered a blocked punt, advanced the ball by rushing, and then chose to boot the ball again for another 68 yards, which was downed at the Rams 11-yard line. Apparently, that’s in the rules?! Elite bit of work from the Aussie!

 

In the first half, both quarterbacks failed to establish their offenses and turned the ball over by their own mistakes. Matthew Stafford was picked off by Quandre Diggs in the end zone when trying to throw the ball away, while Russell Wilson tried to test the Rams’ elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who deflected a pass intended for Tyler Lockett into the arms of Troy Reeder for the interception. Both teams combined to be 0-10 on third downs in the half, ugly stuff.

The game turned in the second half on a 68-yard catch and run by DeSean Jackson, setting up a go-ahead Rams touchdown from Darrell Henderson Jr. Stafford then connected with Tyler Higbee at the back corner of the endzone to extend the Rams’ lead to nine points going into the fourth quarter. Jamaal Adams was beaten on both these big plays in coverage. Ouch! And to make matters worse for the Seahawks, Wilson suffered a dislocated finger in the third quarter and left the game unable to properly grab the football. He did not return.

That brought in Geno Smith, who immediately marched the Seahawks down the field and nailed a beautiful throw to DK Metcalf for a touchdown to bring Seattle within two points. Of course, he did, did you have any doubt?! Unfortunately, for the Seahawks, Stafford did the same thing with a couple of deep connections to Cooper Kupp to allow Sony Michel to walk in from a yard out. The Seahawks couldn’t muster a reply and Smith threw an interception late to seal Seattle’s fate.

Oh, and to put the cherry on top of this Rams win a quick mention for the best defensive lineman in the league (if not the best defensive player, full stop), Aaron Donald. He became the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks thanks to this play that forced Wilson from the game. Beast!

 

Los Angeles Rams

 

Quarterback

 

Matthew Stafford: 25/37, 365 yards, TD, INT, Sack | 1 carry, -1 yard

 

A stuttering first-half performance from Matthew Stafford improved dramatically after the break to just about be good enough to get the Rams across the line in this one. Missing targets at will, consistently sailing passes over the heads of his receivers, and looking uncomfortable with his mechanics, Stafford was dreadful in the opening two quarters. The interception was akin to the kind of throw former Rams quarterback Jared Goff became notorious for in Los Angeles. Scrambling around on second-and-goal, Stafford looks to be throwing the ball away but instead found former teammate Quandre Diggs in the back of the end zone.

 

It took another finger injury to a quarterback in this game to jolt Stafford into action. After the game, Stafford said his finger “popped out” and he just “pushed it back in” – there’s a visual for you – but it seemed to settle the Rams QB, who came out firing in the second half. After the deep throw to Jackson to set up the first touchdown, Stafford was back in the red zone, connecting with Robert Woods twice on the following drive before throwing a beautiful dart to tight-end Tyler Higbee in the back of the end zone to make it a two-score game.

 

Stafford’s stats inflated the level of his performance last night but this passing game has a dynamic set of five playmakers that will always help Stafford put up big numbers. It was the first time this season the former Lions signal caller hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game.

 

Running Back

 

Darrell Henderson Jr.: 17 carries, 82 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards

Sony Michel: 11 carries, 37 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

 

Who needs Cam Akers? Take a bow, Darrell Henderson Jr. The former third-round pick out of Memphis came into the NFL as a one-speed-full-speed back who struggled mightily to adapt to Sean McVay‘s outside zone scheme, but his hard work has paid off and today’s performance highlights what an effective tool he has become for the Rams in the run game. He looked explosive in the first half before temporarily leaving the game with an arm injury. He re-emerged to hit paydirt on an impressive stretch play cutback after halftime.

 

Henderson only saw one target out of the backfield as the Rams targeted a porous Seahawks secondary deeper down the field. He also missed out on running in a late touchdown as that nod was given to Sony Michel. Michel saw eight of his 11 carries in one drive (whilst Henderson was being treated on the sideline). He was serviceable in relief but once Henderson returned, it felt like that was his night done. So, it was a surprise when he re-entered the game to vulture that final score from Henderson to seal the win.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Robert Woods: 14 targets, 12 receptions, 150 yards

Cooper Kupp: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 92 yards

DeSean Jackson: 3 targets, 1 reception, 68 yards

Van Jefferson: 4 targets, 1 reception, 16 yards

Tyler Higbee: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards, TD

 

After the Rams featured Cooper Kupp as the primary receiver over the first handful of games of the season, tonight was the breakout for Robert Woods, who led the team in targets, catches, and yards with a monster performance to expose the frailties of the Seahawks defense. Woods topped his season-highs in both catches and yards early in the second quarter and never looked back, popping up across the formation to haul in targets at all three levels. Woods flashed his elite skill set and his ability to widen defensive backs to open up a larger window for his quarterback to throw into. It really helped Stafford find a rhythm in the second half.

 

It’s not like Woods hasn’t been featured over the opening month of the year, but his fantasy production wasn’t what managers would have hoped for. Kupp on the other hand went into the contest as the top fantasy producer at the position so far this season. He failed to hit the endzone for the second match running, and McVay said prior to the game that Woods’ role was set to increase. Kupp still saw 10 targets, hauling in seven passes for 92 yards. His route running and toughness out of the slot position is second-to-none across the league. He was a menace to Seattle’s linebackers and corners, stretching the field and also making plays even when he wasn’t expecting the ball.

 

Some weeks Woods draws the attention so Kupp can thrive, this week it was the other way around. Such is the luxury of this Rams offense. The complementary pieces to the main two receivers also contributed again tonight. Tyler Higbee made that neat catch in the end zone to haul in the second touchdown and DeSean Jackson did what he does best deep down the field.

 

The only disappointing aspect was Van Jefferson‘s failure to make the most of his four targets. He looked a little bit unprepared at times and dropped a red zone target near the goal line that should have resulted in a score. He wasn’t involved in the second half as the Rams leaned on their more experienced star receivers.

 

Seattle Seahawks

 

Quarterback

 

Russell Wilson: 11/16, 152 yards, TD, INT, 2 sacks | 2 carries, 10 yards

Geno Smith: 10/17, 131 yards, TD, INT | 3 carries, 23 yards

 

Russell Wilson provided the lone bright spark of a torrid first half between the two teams with a lovely throw to find DK Metcalf just short of the goal line – the big receiver did the rest to put the Seahawks on the board first. Metcalf broke coverage and Wilson put the ball just enough in front of the safety to give his receiver time to grab the ball and protect it before contact.

 

The alternate angle is just beautiful.

 

Wilson got a little too greedy going after the Rams’ cornerstone piece in the secondary, Jalen Ramsey, and this rushed throw to Tyler Lockett when in tight coverage was easily broken up by Ramsey and deflected into the arms of Reeder. Luckily the play did not cost the Seahawks any points.

 

Wilson did have a touchdown pass to Lockett called back just before the half for offensive holding. Prior to that pass, Wilson had moved his team down the field in search of another score before the break. His downfield vision and execution were on show with this dime to DeeJay Dallas down the sideline. Unfortunately, some clock mismanagement meant that Wilson ran out of time to take another shot into the endzone before the half. Inexcusably, Jason Myers missed a routine 35-yard field goal as time expired and blew the chance to extend the Seahawks’ lead to seven. Another costly error to close out the first half.

 

The concerning play which left Wilson with a badly sprained middle finger and forced him out of the game came after pressure from who else but Aaron Donald as Wilson stepped up to pass in the pocket, missing a wide-open Tyler Lockett for what would have been a 68-yard score. Wilson stayed in for another couple of ineffective series’ and you could tell that he was struggling to effectively grip and throw the ball.

 

Geno Smith surprisingly provided the spark the Seahawks needed to answer the Rams’ second-half resurgence. The former Jets quarterback orchestrated a 10-play, 98 yard drive that finished with a terrific pass to Metcalf for his second score of the night.

 

Smith’s magic did not last, however, and a horrible interception deep in his own territory just before the two-minute warning effectively took the game away from Seattle. It looked like Lockett was appealing for a penalty and fell down during the play but replays showed it did not warrant a flag.

 

All eyes are on Russ’ injury throughout the next week.

 

Running Back

 

Alex Collins: 15 carries, 47 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Deejay Dallas: 4 carries, 7 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards

Travis Homer: 1 carry, 5 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

 

With Chris Carson ruled out due to neck problems, Alex Collins was called upon to lead the Seahawks backfield and showed excellent balance and power early in the game. Here’s a nice breakdown of his key strengths as a downhill runner from Matt Waldman (@mattwaldman on Twitter).

 

It was a serviceable performance from Collins but in truth, the Rams controlled the time of possession and he didn’t really see the opportunities to carve out a big night, which was going to be tough anyway against that rams defensive line. He didn’t see a carry near the goal line and also lost eight touches to backups Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer, which is not ideal from a fantasy perspective. He also failed to pick up a key fourth-down inside the Rams 30-yard line with a run on the Seahawks’ second drive of the day.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TD

Tyler Lockett: 10 targets, 5 receptions, 57 yards

Will Dissly: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards

Penny Hart: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Freddie Swain: 3 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Colby Parkinson: 2 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard

 

Rams receiver Robert Woods grabbed the headlines for the winning team but DK Metcalf once again showed how dominant he is by putting up the best fantasy score by a wideout on the night. Metcalf was perfect, catching 5-of-5 targets for 98 yards and the two touchdowns, one from each Seattle quarterback. Despite heavy coverage from Jalen Ramsay, Metcalf managed to create separation from the Rams cornerback for his first score and dished out the physicality to all the Rams’ defensive backs across his five-catch outing.

 

It is a wonder why the Seahawks didn’t try and feature Metcalf more against what is a talented Rams secondary. They can be rattled by physicality but the diminutive Lockett saw twice the amount of targets and was half as effective. It was a disappointing night for Lockett after Wilson missed him deep for a would-have-been score. It all looked so promising after an early 25-yard catch. But he could only manage 4 more grabs for 32 yards on 9 targets after this nab.

 

Outside of Lockett and Metcalf, this offense is a dumpster fire in terms of fantasy production. And it showed tonight.

 

Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

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