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Sam Darnold
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The Morning After

Sam Darnold's Return

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: October 15, 2019, 1:57 am ET

Football is a team sport, but one player can still make all the difference. Sam Darnold led the Jets on three first half touchdown drives in their upset of the Cowboys. That was two more than they had all season entering Week 6.  

Darnold did more than could have reasonably been expected in his return from *checks notes* mono, sparking every single player in the Jets’ passing attack. The most vivid illustration was his 92-yard touchdown strike to Robby Anderson in the second quarter. Staring down intense pressure, Darnold uncorked a perfect throw in the nick of time, giving Anderson a step on Jeff Heath, and the Jets a 14-3 lead. Darnold found his No. 1 wideout for 5/125/1, immediately rekindling the chemistry they developed down the stretch in 2018. 

Elsewhere, Darnold also instantly re-established his Week 1 connection with Jamison Crowder, this time for a more efficient 6/98 after their checkdown fueled 14/99 in the opener. Darnold found Demaryius Thomas for a season-best 4/62 and even went 3/28/1 with TE Ryan Griffin. The first half was much better than the second, but the Jets finally looked like a football team. The good feelings will be put to the toughest of Week 7 tests when the Jets host the Patriots for Monday Night Football. However excited you might be today, Darnold will not be on the streaming radar for that one.

Five Week 6 Storylines 

The Vikings welcome Stefon Diggs to the 2019 season. Diggs having 16 catches through the first five games was an epic failure of imagination. You can’t be so paranoid of Kirk Cousins interceptions that you limit the playbook to “noon ET Big 10 game on ESPN2.” It took a soft opponent, but the Vikings finally opened it all the way up on Sunday, and Diggs responded by Will Fuller-ing to the mean. Diggs scored from 62, 51 and 11 yards out, doubling his previous 2019 fantasy production. In order he: Roasted Rasul Douglas, took advantage of a coverage bust and displayed fancy footwork in the back of the end zone. You already know this won’t be Diggs’ new normal, but after a Week 7 road block in the Lions he gets two more favorable matchups in the Redskins and Chiefs. Whether Mike Zimmer would ever cut his passing offense loose had become a legitimate question. Weeks 5 and 6 answered it.     

Titans begin to cut the ties that bind them to Marcus Mariota. The only surprising part is that it took this long. In a years-long downward spiral from his good, but hardly great, first two seasons, Mariota was barely functioning in Denver, displaying zero pocket presence and only slightly more touch. As excellent analyst Joe Dolan put it on Twitter, Mariota: “Has one of the weakest arms in the NFL, his accuracy is subpar, he takes too many sacks and he doesn't use his mobility.” A broken quarterback, Mariota is no longer capable of out-dueling even Joe Flacco or Josh Allen. Most alarming is that the final stage of Mariota’s collapse has occurred with his most talented supporting cast. Perhaps he will get one more cursory shot under center, but Ryan Tannehill is going to lead the Titans in starts going forward. Depressingly, that’s a good thing for Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Delanie Walker and A.J. Brown.   

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Jameis Winston shows 2015 draft solidarity with Mariota, face plants in London. Winston didn’t know it, but he was holding Mariota’s beer at Tottenham Stadium, committing a stupefying six turnovers in a game the Bucs lost by only 11 points. Winston’s situation is different than Mariota’s. His benching would not make the Bucs a better team. 29-year-old backup Ryan Griffin has never attempted a regular season pass. Coach Bruce Arians gave zero indication he was contemplating a change, instead zeroing in on Winston’s habit of “trying to be Superman.” There is more reason than ever to believe that Winston is not the long-term answer in Tampa, but Griffin, or anyone else who might be available between now and December, is not the short-term solution. Winston will be back and slinging it to Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and, Lord willing, O.J. Howard after the Bucs’ Week 7 bye.     

Amari Cooper aggravates quad injury in Cowboys’ latest loss. Cooper’s early departure was the first punctured tire in the Cowboys’ wheels-fall-off performance in East Rutherford. Cooper could make it only three snaps before his day was through. It’s a major concern for a player who was already playing through a foot issue and entered the game gutting out the quad ailment. With the Cowboys headed on bye in Week 8, Cooper will almost certainly be held out of the team’s Week 7 hosting of the Eagles. That’s a devastating blow for fantasy owners, as Jim Schwartz’s “defense” has essentially served as an ATM for opposing wideouts. If Cooper can make it back for Week 9, the spot will be almost as sweet in a Giants D hemorrhaging 9.3 yards per attempt. In addition to Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb, DFS players will be encouraged to go back to the Devin Smith well vs. Philly.   

Will Dissly ruptures Achilles’ tendon vs. Browns. A 2018 fourth-round pick, Dissly got off to a hot start before tearing his right patellar tendon. That’s one of the most serious injuries a football player can suffer. The 23-year-old battled back shockingly quickly before just as surprisingly becoming an integral part of the Seahawks’ passing attack. Then he went down in a non-contact heap in Cleveland. It was the other leg, with Dissly blowing out his left Achilles’. He has now suffered two career-threatening injuries in just two years on the job. Already limited athletically, it is fair to wonder if Dissly can make a second comeback. He’s a tenuous Dynasty league hold. Even at a barren position, 2019 fill-in Luke Willson will struggle to rise above zero-point floor status as a TE2.   

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Patrick Daugherty
Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .