We’re through six weeks of Thursday Night Football, and we spent the last two weeks huddling over the cold remains of two touchdowns between the contests, both of which came in the second half of this one. We saw Justin Fields get beat up, we saw Carson Wentz get beat up, and we saw Al Michaels do a verbal beatdown on Dan Snyder! Ultimately, this one turned into a game where a near-touchdown ended it, but it was still a terrible game for fantasy football. Was there anything to overreact to? You betcha! Let’s dive in.
Were We Too Hasty to Crown Brian Robinson and Give Up on Antonio Gibson?
The Commanders made Brian Robinson the starting running back in this one, chalking up his 9 carries for 22 yards last week up to getting into the swing of things. Well, he didn’t do much better to start this game. Robinson had 7 carries for 19 yards in the first half of this one. He finished with 17 carries for 60 yards, making his first 8 quarters an ignominious 26 touches for 79 yards. That is 3.43 yards per touch which, if he qualified, would put him in the bottom three in the NFL.
While this could be because of the offensive line (which is bad) and the Bears’ run defense (which is good), that doesn’t account for the fact that the other running back for the Commanders, Antonio Gibson, played much better on a per-touch basis (and also flat out looked better) as he finished with 8 touches for 53 yards. If you started Brian Robinson, he had multiple bites at the apple to score a touchdown (and pulled it off, which is more than Joe Mixon can say most weeks), so starting Brian Robinson worked out for you. But you have to be concerned about that efficiency.
While volume is king, and Brian Robinson is already getting that, you have to wonder how long he will. The Commanders seem hellbent on getting Antonio Gibson as far away from important snaps as possible. But, Gibson played over half the snaps twice, and the Commanders averaged 27.5 points in those games. In the remaining games, they’ve averaged 11.75 points. It seems fairly clear that they need to go back to Antonio Gibson, as the offense worked when he played and is dysfunctional when he didn’t.
Can We Trust Darnell Mooney Again?
The Bears were set up to throw the ball at the lowest clip in two decades after the first three weeks of the season, but Justin Fields has topped 20 pass attempts in three-straight games (not really a feat for most quarterbacks, but when you’re Matt Eberflus’ QB, that seems to be a big deal). Darnell Mooney has also slowly ticked up after bottoming out in weeks two and three. He had 4 catches for 94 yards two weeks ago, 2 for 52 last week, and once again played the role of the WR on the team, getting a team-high 12 targets, which he turned into 6 catches for 68 yards… and came within a few inches of 7 catches for 69 yards and a game-winning touchdown.
Mooney dipped down into being a waiver-wire option for a lot of leagues, but he finally had WR1 volume when the offense looked real. Here’s the only problem: the Bears scored seven points. They don’t run a modern offense, and that means that he will top out at 5-6 opportunities way less often than he ends up at ten or more. He also has the Patriots and Cowboys’ passing games in the next two weeks. They currently rank outside the top ten in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, so they’re an iffy matchup at best. I wouldn’t throw Darnell Mooney into the circle of trust right now, but with bye weeks coming up, you could do a lot worse than
Is it Time to Give Up on Terry McLaurin?
Terry McLaurin finished tonight with 4 targets for 3 catches and 41 yards, which means, if the scores hold as they have, he will finish around WR75 for the week. That is right in line with what Terry McLaurin has been since the beginning of 2021, where his average finish has been about WR44. This offense has a confluence of the three worst things about an NFL offense for fantasy football: it’s slow, not very good, and has way too many options. McLaurin ranked second on the team in targets, with 4 (tying Antonio Gibson) behind the team-leading Curtis Samuel, who had 5. At this point, I’m not entirely sure you can even keep him around on your roster. I mean you can, and you should, but good gosh golly almighty (sorry for the swears) he has been completely useless for fantasy football for the majority of the games this year. You shouldn’t make the same mistake that Darnell Mooney’s managers made and cut him, but you should bury him deep on your bench for now.
Is Khalil Herbert Replacing David Montgomery?
If you just look at the box score, you see that Khalil Herbert finished with 75 yards on 7 carries and that David Montgomery finished with 16 touches for 80 yards. On paper, it looks like Herbert might be horning in on David Montgomery’s role, but in actuality, he isn’t. David Montgomery has played four full games this season, and in those games, he has 20, 17, 16, and 16 touches. Montgomery is still the lead back on this offense, and he also isn’t going to get replaced because Herbert outproduced him. What you miss on that 7/75 line from Herbert is that he had a 64-yard run, and his other 6 carries went for 11 yards. That’s what a change-of-pace back does: rips off a long one because the pace changed, and the defense wasn’t ready. Herbert is still a must-roster running back because of how good he is when Montgomery isn’t available, but he only had 10 touches in the last two weeks.
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