Lunch Break

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Lunchbreak: Stefon Diggs Cracks NFL.com's Top Offensive Player Rankings

Posted Sep 27, 2017

Vikings teammates Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both sit just shy of 300 receiving yards heading into Week.

Diggs, who has 293 yards this season, recorded 173 of them – and scored two touchdowns – against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

His flashy outing landed him on NFL.com’s list of top offensive players in the league. Analyst David Carr penciled in Diggs at No. 15 on the list after previously being unranked. Carr wrote:

Diggs is playing great right now – this is similar to his start in 2016 before he was hurt. Diggs jelled with Sam Bradford under center, but he's continued to impress with Bradford out, posting two TD receptions with Case Keenum getting the start Sunday. Diggs totaled 173 receiving yards, second most by any player in a game this season. He's a good playmaker with great routes. Out of all receivers, he's my favorite player to watch in routes, because he's such a technician.

Diggs was one of three NFC North players included in the rankings, joining Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (No. 3) and Lions QB Matthew Stafford (No. 13), whom the Vikings will face Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Stafford was just six inches away from another fourth-quarter comeback, but I won't let a crazy ending that didn't work out in his favor drop him out of my top 15. His stats weren't overly impressive Sunday, except for this one: Per Next Gen Stats, Stafford threw 33.3 percent of his passes into tight windows, which was the second-highest rate of Week 3. (Side note: He led all QBs in tight-window throws with 42.9 percent in Week 2.) But here's the biggest takeaway from this game: Stafford looks comfortable playing in high-pressure situations.


Keenum, Diggs included in Pro Football Focus ‘Team of the Week’

Diggs’ performance was highlighted by analytics site Pro Football Focus, as well, along with quarterback Case Keenum, who stepped in for the injured Sam Bradford for the second consecutive week.

Diggs and Keenum were included in Pro Football Focus’ “Team of the Week” following their Week 3 showing against Tampa Bay. Keenum had a career day, going 25-of-33 passing for 369 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 142.1. PFF analyst Sam Monson gave Keenum a grade of 87.7 and wrote of the quarterback:

There were some fantastic quarterback performances this week, but none more surprising than that of Keenum, who had one of the best displays of his career to lead the Vikings to a beat down of the Buccaneers. Keenum had a passer rating of 150.6 when kept clean in the pocket, and even when hurried he completed nine of 11 passes for 114 yards. On deep passes he completed three of five attempts for 107 yards and a score.

Diggs, given a grade of 89.7, was included as one of two wide receivers, joining Cincinnati’s A.J. Green.

Monson pointed out that Diggs gained 5.97 yards per route run, “by far the most in the league” in Week 3.

Even without his starting quarterback, Diggs was able to go off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Vernon Hargreaves in particular. Diggs looks more like Antonio Brown by the week, and once again broke loose with some slick route running, but also displayed an ability to go up over defensive backs and make tough contested catches that put much larger receivers to shame.


Cook part of impressive rookie RB class

The NFL’s top two rushers are rookies.

Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt tops the list with 401 yards over the first three weeks. Coming in at No. 2 is Dalvin Cook, who’s racked up 288 yards thus far.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune delved into this season’s rookie running back class and the impact it’s making on the league. Craig wrote:

Five of Pro Football Focus’ top 10-ranked backs are rookies. Hunt (first) and Cook (fourth) are followed by Seattle’s Chris Carson (sixth) and Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon and Chicago’s Tarik Cohen, who are tied for ninth.

Craig called Cook’s “biggest knock” coming into the league a concern about ball security but pointed out that Cook hasn’t fumbled in 71 carries. He quoted Cook, who spoke to Twin Cities media members Monday afternoon:

“Coach KP [Kennedy Polamalu] coaches cross grip, which is something I didn’t learn until I got into the NFL,” Cook said. “He enforces it no matter what. He’s going to keep that in the back of your mind so you don’t forget it. Just putting two hands on the football and crossing your hands over the ball to keep it tight.”

As for pass protection, Cook has held his own, looking better and more willing to do it than his Hall of Fame-bound predecessor. Including one time Sunday when a missed assignment on the line turned Tampa Bay’s 300-pound All-Pro Gerald McCoy loose on a direct path to quarterback Case Keenum.