Halfway through the season, it’s time to take a look back at some of the lesser known players and storylines and how they have fared this season.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Cook has been injured the majority of the season up to this point, and his value as a running back has to be questioned. Latavius Murray has played above average in weeks where he replaced Cook. He hasn’t been on the field much, and when he was he was often stifled. He has not recorded a TD as of yet. When he does make his eventual return, it will be difficult for him to make a big impact on a pass happy offense. To many, he has been a disappointment, and it’s obvious that his role on this team is not what we expected it to be. The Vikings have survived without Cook and it raises a good question, is he really the running back of the future for John Defilippo offense?
Terrelle Pryor, Buffalo Bills
Pryor eclipsed 1,000 yards with the Browns in 2016, but since has fallen off significantly since signing elsewhere in the offseason. Following 2016 he signed with the Redskins where he played in 9 games while only catching 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. Not impressive stats for the quarterback turned wide receiver. Post release from the Redskins he signed with the Jets where he put up similar numbers to his 2017 season, but nowhere near his production in 2016. Currently the Buffalo Bills are working out the wideout, and as of now he is signed. He will look to turn over a new stone in a new environment compared to his failure to produce in New York and Washington.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott might have had one of the best rookie seasons for a QB to date. His play after his first year though hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations of Cowboys fans. Now it’s important to note that this receiving group might be the the worst one he has passed to, but his play has been disappointing to say the least. Pro Football Focus has him ranked #17 among QBs, his stock being saved by a solid outing against Jacksonville. His stats stand at a mediocre 1417 passing yards and only 8 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. The Cowboys offense often becomes stagnant and has to settle for field goals, explaining some of the issues of America’s QB. Coming off a bye things will have to change if the Cowboys want to make the playoffs, the first of which will have to be Dak’s play. Things do seem to be looking up for Dak as his receiving core is soon to be bolstered by Amari Cooper. But the problems of this offense are rooted in coaching and inconsistent quarterback play, which Dak will have to fix.
The Washington Redskins Defense
So far the Redskins unit, that was one of the worst last year, has made major improvements. In total yards per game, the team is ranked 4th allowing 322 yards per game. The defensive line is the strongest part of the defense which has snuffed run plays all year, a major reason the team is ranked second in rushing defense. The Skins’ picks of D-linemen in the draft in back to back years has really paid off for Washington. Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Da’Ron Payne headline the unit, 2 first round picks and a 2nd round selection. This unit is solid throughout, with Josh Norman and DJ Swearinger shoring up the secondary, and now HaHa Clinton-Dix as well. They face some tough matchups in the coming weeks, but so far they have been much better than expected.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon has been a very solid RB1 for the Bengals. When Bill Lazor and Marvin Lewis utilize Mixon, the Bengals win. Cincinnati is 4-2 with Mixon and in both losses the running back was not used to his potential. In both games he did not gain more than 65 yards on the ground. The opposite is true when the Bengals win, Mixon often touches the ball more often for more yards. His best game was likely last week where he recorded 123 rushing yards for 2 TDs and another 15 yards through the air. Mixon’s breakout year didn’t come out of nowhere as he showed flashes last year, but this year he has been on another level, his style mimicking that of another AFC North running back. (who is sitting out, to the dismay of his fantasy owners) So far this season he has been an elite running back when healthy, something the Bengals have not had in a long time.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
The third year quarterback out of California is on pace for another great season under Sean McVay. His numbers are impressive, especially when considering that the Rams have the No. 1 running back and rushing offense this season. He has thrown for nearly 2500 yards, 17 TDs, and only 5 INTs through 8 games, while also posting a 67.6% completion percentage. PFF has him ranked as the 4th best quarterback in the NFL, and he has been kept clean by a serviceable offensive line which has allowed him to post a 112.7 passer rating. Although McVay’s system benefits him greatly, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he has had an excellent start to the season, and seems to be the answer at quarterback for a franchise that has struggled to replace Kurt Warner.
“I mean, he’s making the throws, he’s making the calls at the line of scrimmage, he’s making the calls in the huddle.”