What We Saw: Week 8
Jets vs. Bears
With DE Khalil Mack out, perhaps the Jets thought there was the slightest of chances they could sneak away with a win. Wrong. The 24-10 Bears win showed not only the struggle the offense is facing because of injuries, but also the defenses inability to string together consistent play. Five false-starts early in the game did QB Sam Darnold and company no favors, and it was miscues by the defense that led to a big score (see RB Tarik Cohen), or a long, tiring drive that led to another touchdown. Questionable decisions (fairly common from HC Todd Bowles) came into play as well, like punting down two scores with 5:37 minutes left in the fourth. Just an overall bad game for the Jets that can’t seem to shake the 3-5 mark at the halfway point in the season; this is their third year in a row at that record.
Which WR showed up this week?
WR Jermaine Kearse came alive – for lack of a better word – in this one as opposed to his goose egg last week against Minnesota. He had 10 targets, but only three receptions for 30 yards. Surprisingly, it was undrafted rookie, fellow USC teammate to Darnold, WR Deontay Burnett who made the most of his playing time. Posting 61 yards on four targets (catching them all), his longest went for 29 yards. With a division game on tap next week verse Miami, the Jets will hopefully gain back WR Robby Anderson, who missed the Bears game with an ankle injury. I wouldn’t recommend starting any Jets receiver for the time being, though Burnett could have sneaky potential down the stretch.
Another week, another TE TD
Make that three scores in as many games for rookie TE Chris Herndon, who made franchise history by being the first rookie tight end to score in three consecutive games. A rare bright spot in a gloomy offense, Herndon is making a name for himself in a position the Jets have desperately sought production out of the past few seasons. He’s a reliable target for Darnold, especially in the red zone where they have struggled producing in. Granted, Herndon only had two targets against Chicago but caught his lone one for a touchdown. In fantasy, if your tight end, a pretty gaunt position if you don’t own the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, or Zach Ertz, scores, you’re happy with the result. With that said, I would go as far as streaming Herndon this week if your main TE is on his bye, and hoping he sees a red zone target, and even a score to boot.
Running back blues
Remember when RB Isaiah Crowell had a historic day on the ground? That sure does seem like a long time ago. It was a quiet day for Crow’ against the Bears, as he only posted 25 yards on 13 carries. With RB Bilal Powell on IR with a neck injury, people were high on rookie RB Trenton Cannon to hopefully run his way into a prominent role. Spoiler: that didn’t go to plan. Cannon only gained 10 yards on six attempts. With RB Elijah McGuire potentially season debuting Week 9 against the Dolphins, he could find himself in a lead role due to inconsistencies from both Crowell and Cannon thus far.
After a couple hard fought losses against the Dolphins and Patriots, it was nice to see the Bears get back on track with an important win against the Jets. The Bears have clearly taken a large step forward from a season ago and are looking to finish the first half of the season at 5-3–tying their win total from last year in only 8 games. Chicago was without defensive anchor Khalil Mack and top wideout Allen Robinson this week, but it didn’t really matter. Everyone remaining was involved in a 24-10 win that shouldn’t have been as close as it looked in the box score.
We had another week of inconsistent play from Mitch Trubisky, though he did enough when he needed to. He finished 16 of 29 with 220 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Still, there were missed throws that could have created a lot more breathing room early on. I thought his best series of the game came late in the game. After the Jets scored a touchdown to make it 17-10, Trubisky led a methodical drive including two passes to Anthony Miller and a scramble for 12 yards. While I like Trubisky’s mobility, I do fear that it could lead to him checking to the run too early when in panic mode. He ran for 80+ against the Patriots and another 50+ against the Jets. Tarik Cohen had the makings of a huge game before suffering a minor injury which seemed to limit him for the rest of the game. Cohen caught a short pass behind a suicide blitz and he ran it 70 yards for a touchdown. He also had 5 rushes for 40 yards in what was a great game. Jordan Howard also got in on the action with 22 rushes for 81 yards and a score of his own. I still am nervous about starting Howard in fantasy, and this could be a good time to trade him assuming Cohen is healthy. Amongst the receivers, Taylor Gabriel had 4 catches for 52 yards, Anthony Miller had 3 for 37 and a touchdown, and Trey Burton finished with only 3 catches for 18 yards. It’s not surprising to see the passing game shrink this week based on what became a defensive struggle with New York. Still, I am holding onto all mentioned passing weapons for now.
The Bears defense was relatively quiet on the stat sheet, and the fantasy value won’t live up to what happened on the field. They finished with 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and no interceptions. Still, they demoralized the Jets offensive attack: they only allowed 153 passing yards and 57 rushing yards. I’ll take this defense any week, and the potential for a monstrous matchup waits next week in Buffalo. I hope that Khalil Mack is back to 100% so that we can watch terrorize Derek Anderson and the humble Bills offense. Even if he isn’t, this should still be a great match up.