Patriots @ Texans
Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson were advertised as stars leading up to this game, but only one of them truly played like one. The announcers regaled a relationship of Watson basically growing up in his college years wanting to be a protege in waiting for Cam, who took him under his wing. This game almost felt as if it was a metaphorical passing of the torch, as Watson looked far more comfortable throughout the game, while Newton only showed up for roughly 2 quarters of relevant-looking play. The Texans defense at times was suffocating, while injuries, misplays, and penalty flags speckled the entire viewing. At the game’s close, the Texans held on to a 27-20 win, likely signaling the end of the road for a playoff hopeful Patriots team in a pretty average division. Let’s dive in!
New England Patriots
Cam Newton: 26/40, 365 yards, 1 TD, 2 sacks | 3 carries, 6 yards
Cam had another opportunity to succeed at the end of the game, and unfortunately, he couldn’t seal the deal. With a stat line that honestly isn’t so bad, it’s tough to lay full blame on Cam, but he’s just not competing for an entire 60-minute game. Some of the best offensive showcases in this game were on trick plays (see: The Flea Flicker in the first half that ended up with a twenty yard gain for Meyers). Cam opted away from his usual rushing attack that was showcased at the beginning of the season, and with that, a large portion of his fantasy value has been subdued. Now, at 4-6, it won’t be surprising to see the team opt to start looking at players they want to build their franchise around, and it’s still a mystery to me and likely many local fans if they’ll give Cam another chance to come back on another prove-it deal. Either way, this is uncharted territory for this team after so many years of success, and I don’t want to be holding the grenade that is having Cam as my starting quarterback. It’s sad to say, but he doesn’t have much to offer from this point forward.
Damien Harris: 11 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards
James White: 5 carries, 19 yards | 9 targets, 6 receptions, 64 yards
Rex Burkhead: 4 carries, 7 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards
Damien Harris continued his scorching hot world tour in Houston and quickly tossed up 25 yards of rushing on the first drive, capping it off with a 9-yard touchdown on a delightful scamper on an off-tackle run. While it’s always a gamble taking part in the New England rushing attack, Harris has more than proven he’s able to succeed week in and week out, and he deserves a chance to be the team’s lead rusher for years to come. Sony Michel was removed from IR earlier in the day but remained inactive this week, and after a scary-looking knee injury that will likely end Rex Burkhead‘s season it’s likely that Michel will be back taking snaps next week. James White finally received a healthy share of targets this week which gave him some fantasy relevance, but it may be too little, too late for many fantasy owners who have already jumped ship.
Check out Harris’ rushing touchdown below, where he gets by with a little help from his (offensive-line minded) friends!
— QB List (@TheQBlist) November 22, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Damiere Byrd: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 132 yards, TD | 1 rush, 11 yards
Ryan Izzo: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 59 yards
N’Keal Harry: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 41 yards
Jakobi Meyers: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 38 yards
Donte Moncrief: 2 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards
Jordan Thomas: 1 target, 0 receptions
After a month straight of the Jakobi Meyers show, the Patriots opted to feed Damiere Byrd instead. Byrd averaged 22 yards per catch on the day and linked up with Cam Newton for a touchdown as well. Byrd has actually been an extremely sneaky fantasy play at times this year and they clearly saw something in the matchup that warranted more looks for him this week. The targets were split relatively heavy between Byrd and N’Keal Harry, with the rest (including Meyers) grabbing for scraps of what little remained. This offense is sorely lacking in receiving talent, but we may have some dynasty sleeper appeal in keeping eyes on both Meyers and Byrd.
Harry himself came back from weeks of fighting injuries, and he finished the game with the highest target share which hopefully means he has turned the corner and will be involved in this offense going forward. Not much has changed in the way of fantasy value here, with the best values still being Meyers as a low WR3/high flex floor, but Byrd and Harry may just have put themselves in flex conversation with the opportunity to get higher in weeks to come.
Deshaun Watson: 28/37, 344 yards, 2 TDs | 6 carries, 36 yards, 1 TD
Deshaun Watson has honestly played some of his best football this season, despite the fact that it may not always show up that way in the fantasy boxscores. On Sunday, however, he helped both your fantasy team and the Texans en route to a victory. Watson ripped off 36 yards on the ground, and also eclipsed 300 yards passing for the fifth time in his ten-game log, peppering his tight ends Jordan Akins and Darren Fells often, while returning to the usual suspects in Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks. Not much has changed here for your fantasy expectations, as Watson remains a QB1, but you likely feel a bit more relieved to see Watson finding his footing a few weeks out from the fantasy playoffs. He even rushed one in on his own on a spectacular effort play.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) November 22, 2020
Duke Johnson: 10 carries, 15 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards
C.J. Prosise: 3 carries, 4 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards
After just two weeks without him, it’s safe to say the wrong D Johnson is getting time in Houston. When the Texans put David Johnson on Injured Reserve on November 14th, it’s safe to assume they thought they could get by for a few weeks with Duke Johnson. Duke has always been a reliable backup, but his best stat line so far actually came in the week David Johnson left early and his performance as a starter has been lackluster at best. Duke Johnson had a “Kalen Ballage in Miami” yards per carry today, getting an “I can’t feed my family on this” 15 yards on 10 carries today, and with only C.J. Prosise available to rush behind Duke, this is a backfield that likely will receive it’s highest rushing totals from Watson for the foreseeable future. If you thought Duke Johnson would be a reasonable fill-in, with a season lacking in great top-end rushing talent, please look elsewhere, and fast.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 85 yards
Jordan Akins: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 83 yards
Will Fuller: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 80 yards
Darren Fells: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards
Pharoah Brown: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards
Keke Coutee: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD
Randall Cobb: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards, 1 TD
Deshaun Watson had a fun time today, sending the ball all over the field to nine different targets, including two different tight ends and running backs. The Patriots have had some solid showings from defensive stars in the making (J.C. Jackson), but have truly struggled over the course of the season. It showed in this game, as Watson carved up the Patriots to the tune of 344 yards. Early in the first half, he hit Brandin Cooks for a touchdown pass that was called back due to an offensive lineman being too far down the field during the play, but he returned to the endzone by hitting Randall Cobb for a catch that ended up injuring Cobb and knocking him out for the rest of the game. Going forward, Fuller and Cooks have found themselves as an easy low-end WR1/high-end WR2 due to their ability to break out in deep field plays, but also being consistent target share leaders (Cooks just short of 7 targets per game, Fuller at 6).
— Matthew Bevins (Reddit: TheLongSpring/Twitter: MattQBList)