What We Saw: Week 6

Jaylen Waddle feasted and Jonathan Taylor beasted

Vikings @ Panthers

Final Score: Vikings 34, Panthers 28 (OT)

Writer: James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)

 

A slow start and sloppy first half gave way to one of Sunday’s most exciting games. The Vikings, no strangers to a thriller, finished their fifth one-possession game in dramatic fashion with a walk-off touchdown from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn. This play capped off another spectacular game for Cousins as he made mincemeat of Carolina’s decimated secondary. You like that?!

Sam Darnold had no such luck on the other side of the ball. A furious fourth-quarter saved his stat line, but perhaps we were a bit too anxious to call his hot start a career-altering triumph. He flashed brilliance despite some wild inconsistencies to go along with plenty of drops from his pass-catchers.

 

Minnesota Vikings

 

Quarterback

 

Kirk Cousins: 33/48, 373 yards, 3 TD | 2 carries, 16 yards

 

Over his last 17 games, Cousins has 43 touchdowns and just five interceptions. That is real, those are real numbers. The Panthers’ have dealt with some serious injuries to their secondary so Cousins force-fed his alpha dogs, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, all afternoon.

They were open almost every time he looked their way, but Cousins had to squeeze one in a tight window on this ridiculous touchdown to Thielen.

 

 

He also tossed this beautiful back-shoulder throw to Jefferson for a massive third-down conversion.

 

 

That window was microscopic and Cousins put it precisely where it needed to be. For years the book on Cousins says he can not come through in big spots. Both of these plays trump that. Cousins has also been known for making a fatal error in the waning moments of tight contests. There was a play towards the end of regulation where it looked like that could have happened again.

 

 

What savviness from the veteran! As Ben said, this looks like a sure-fire sack by Burns and possibly even a strip-sack. Cousins felt the rush, dodged the hit, and even had the wherewithal to see a hole and get a first down. Cousins had it all going on today in Carolina.

 

Running Backs

 

Dalvin Cook: 29 carries, 140 yards, TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 3 yards

Alexander Mattison: 3 carries, 10 yards

C.J. Ham: 1 carry, 30 yards

 

That week off seemed to serve Dalvin Cook well. He dominated back in his usual bell-cow role, gashing the Panthers solid front all afternoon. These same Panthers held Cook to a measly 63 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, in their matchup last year. Well, Cook nearly eclipsed that number in the first half of this affair and stayed hot into the third quarter with a big TD.

 

 

The flipside to Cook’s monster game was Alexander Mattison once again shifting to a reserve role. He looked spry when on the field but is useless from a fantasy perspective while Cook is active.

Do you like fullback highlights? Because I LOVE fullback highlights and C.J. Ham gave the best one of 2021 during his 30-yard scamper.

 

 

Ham has much more wiggle than the average fullback and is good for a handful of big plays a year. I can’t wait to hear Chris Berman’s ‘WHOOOOPPPPP’ for this one during the Fastest 2 Minutes on Monday night.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Justin Jefferson: 14 targets, 8 receptions, 80 yards | Fumble

Adam Thielen: 13 targets, 11 receptions, 126 yards, TD | 1 carry, 2 yards

K.J. Osborn: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 78 yards, TD

Tyler Conklin: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 71 yards

Dede Westbrook: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

Chris Herndon: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, TD

 

Phew,  Jefferson and Thielen were all over the field in this one. I touched on it during Cousins’ write-up but not enough credit can be lauded upon these two. Jefferson, specifically, just seemed to be open on every play. The guy moves differently than other receivers with his array of sharp, crisp movements.

So, the Panthers made a point to guard Jefferson with multiple players leaving Thielen free to feast on single coverage. And feast he did! He was targeted at every level and made an absolutely spectacular catch on his TD. I know I showed this video before, but not at THIS ANGLE.

 

 

Thielen was not the only Viking who benefitted from the increased attention on Jefferson. Osborn and Conklin each made some big plays for their ball club and none bigger than Osborn’s walk-off TD in overtime.

 

 

Osborn’s development has been a massive boon to this offense and is a welcome change of pace as the third WR from Olabisi Johnson and Chad Beebe.

It’s also worth noting that Chris Herndon caught his first TD for Minnesota today on a nice slip route.

 

 

You know things have gotten out of hand when Chris Herndon gets in on the action.

 

Carolina Panthers

 

Quarterback

 

Sam Darnold: 17/41, 207 yards, TD, INT | 4 carries, 48 yards, 1 fumble

 

Oh man, I hope no one celebrated their Darnold ‘victory laps’ too early. He was dreadful last week against the Eagles and threw an interception on his first play of the afternoon.

 

 

All in all, it turned out to be a complete STINKER of a first half of this one.

 

 

He completely reverted back to his Jets days: holding the ball too long, indecisive in the pocket, sloppy footwork, and not being able to react appropriately when his first read was not available.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Darnold did have a fantastic end to this game. He faced a 4th and 10 on his own goalline down by one possession in the two-minute drill and made what I think was the best throw leaguewide today.

 

 

Simply ridiculous. There is no way this ball should have made it to Ian Thomas streaking up the seam. This got the Panthers in business and set up Darnold to make another huge throw in a 4th down, this one to D.J. Moore.

 

 

Darnold finished the job too and got his Panthers into the endzone with this short touchdown to Robby Anderson.

 

 

Darnold was very bad in this one while still flashing his ridiculous talent. Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

Running Backs

 

Chubba Hubbard: 16 carries, 61 yards, TD | 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards

Royce Freeman: 1 carry, 3 yards

 

Christian McCaffrey is out for the foreseeable future and Hubbard has affirmed his role as the bell-cow in this offense. Certainly, this offense has taken multiple steps back without McCaffrey, but a starting running back is a starting running back and Hubbard is most definitely a starting running back.

 

 

This workload put Hubbard in a position to return great fantasy value despite not being particularly explosive (3.8 YPC). He did get into the endzone, his first TD as a professional.

 

 

Today felt like Hubbard’s floor, and that is a good thing.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

DJ Moore: 13 targets, 5 receptions, 73 yards | 1 carry, 6 yards, 1 fumble

Robby Anderson: 11 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards, TD

Brandon Zylstra: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards

Ian Thomas: 2 targets, 1 reception, 41 yards

Terrace Marshall Jr: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Shi Smith: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards

Tommy Tremble: 2 targets | 1 carry, 0 yards

Alex Erickson: 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards

 

This was a very rough game for the Panthers’ receivers. Darnold did not do them any favors early, but they found every way to make it tough on him as well. Anderson had one of the most peculiar games I have ever seen. There were multiple occasions where he was wide open, sometimes deep down the field, and Darnold could not get him the ball. He also had multiple drops that should have been caught.

 

 

At the worst, this should have been a first down. It could have been a touchdown. Anderson saved his day from a fantasy perspective with a late touchdown, but you will be hard-pressed to find a less productive 11 target game.

Moore was in a similar boat, albeit far more productive. While he’s been very steady so far in 2021, he also battled the dropsies in this one.

 

 

Nothing more to say about that, just a lapse in concentration. He lost a fumble as well in what was a game to forget. He did still get enough targets to wind up with a halfway decent fantasy performance.

There is not enough consistency from either Darnold or these other pass-catchers for them to be viable.

 

— James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)

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