What We Saw: Week 12

Is Cordarrelle Patterson the best waiver wire find of the year? Probably.

Titans @ Patriots

Final Score: Patriots 36, Titans 13

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

 

The Tennessee Titans came into a snow-dusted Gillette Stadium with a heavily depleted roster. Missing both of their starting wideouts in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, they did their best to hang with the surging Patriots, but in the end, they were outmatched by the incredibly efficient New England offense. Mac Jones continues to impress, while the Titans were left with more questions than answers. With a total of four turnovers on the day, one of those questions should be a simple one – can anyone hold onto the ball? The Titans fall to 8-4 on the season, while the Patriots improve to 8-4 as well. Both teams are still positioned for the playoffs. While we knew what to expect with the Patriots’ offense before today, this game provided some great insight into the usage the Titans have for the Derrick Henry-less backfield.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 11/21, 93 yards, TD, INT, 2 Sacks | 5 carries, 24 yards

 

I can’t say I have watched too many Ryan Tannehill games in my life, but this had to have been one of the worst. Not all of the blame can be put on Tannehill, as he is working with limited weapons on offense, but you need more out of your passing game when you find yourself playing from behind almost the entire game. Tannehill was only able to get a first down six times through the air the entire game. In comparison, the Patriots got 15. If the run game didn’t pop off for 270 yards, this game would have been much, much uglier. Tannehill did have a pretty bad game, but it was extrapolated by the lack of playmakers he was throwing to. Unfortunately without anyone due back from IR soon, I fear this passing game might suffer for the time being and may be something to avoid. While the following play is cool, it was the longest play through the air on the day for the Titans:

 

 

And that is not good.

 

Running Back

 

Dontrell Hilliard: 12 carries, 131 yards, TD, Fumble | 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

D’Onta Foreman: 19 carries, 109 yards, Fumble | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

Khari Blasingame: 3 carries, 6 yards, Fumble

Tory Carter: 1 target

 

I can’t tell you the last time a team had two 100-yard rushers and still managed to lose the football game, but, here we are. Before the game, news outlets reported that D’Onta Foreman was slated to get the majority of the carries out of Tennessee’s makeshift backfield. For once, that actually came true as Foreman proceeded to see 20 touches on the day, but failed to find the end zone and also lost a fumble. Unfortunately, he was not alone in the turnover department, as all three running backs lost a fumble on the day. Ultimately, Foreman was outshined by his backfield teammate, Dontrell Hilliard, who was more efficient with his touches and likely earned more in the future. Now, I won’t say I saw this type of game coming from Dontrell Hilliard, but he is a former Cleveland Brown, and I did get to watch him play a bit in seasons past. I knew he was talented, but, dang! Hilliard showed some top tier burst once he hit the second level on this massive 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to keep it close:

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards, TD

Cody Hollister: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Dez Fitzpatrick: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards

MyCole Pruitt: 2 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards

Geoff Swaim: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

Anthony Firkser: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Chester Rogers: 3 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

In a game with 93 total passing yards, there really wasn’t a lot to write about from this group. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine received five targets as the de-facto number one wideout on the team, and managed to flop into the end zone for a very short touchdown to salvage his fantasy day, but otherwise only secured two of those five targets. He’s simply not ready to go against top coverage yet. Former practice-squader Cody Hollister was second on the team in targets, followed by three to Chester Rogers and two to MyCole Pruitt. A handful of other players received a single target, but no one really managed to do anything. This offense is certainly suffering from the injuries that are stacking up on the offensive side of the ball.

 

 

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterback

 

Mac Jones: 23/32, 310 yards, 2 TD, 2 Sacks | 2 carries, 11 yards

 

“Hey Mac, where you get all them dimes?!” I find myself asking on a weekly basis. I was a Mac Jones doubter coming into 2021, but I have seen the light. This kid is good. He still makes some silly mistakes, like celebrating a first down after being tackled two yards short, but otherwise he continues to impress me each week. If it isn’t arm strength, it’s decision making. If it isn’t decision making, it’s pocket presence, and so on and so forth. If you look at football games like analysts tend to look at baseball games, where the pitchers are somehow going head-to-head even though they don’t face each other half the time, Mac Jones absolutely dismantled his veteran challenger and would’ve had an even better day if he didn’t miss a wide-open Hunter Henry in the end zone. Mac may not be the most physically gifted of the rookie quarterback class, but he looks like he has the highest football IQ and has found himself in the best situation possible. I was especially impressed by this throw, where Mac reads the pocket and steps to his left before rifling a dart to Jakobi Meyers.

 

 

Running Back

 

Rhamondre Stevenson: 9 carries, 46 yards | 1 target

Damien Harris: 11 carries, 40 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Brandon Bolden: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 54 yards

 

Brandon Bolden has got to be a fan-favorite in New England. It feels like he’s been their special teams/third running back since I started playing fantasy football, and due to injury, he’s filled in nicely as the third-down back for the Patriots. If you watched Rhamondre Stevenson in the pre-season, you knew he was the real deal. Unless you live under a rock, you witnessed him fill in for Damien Harris with authority. It’s hard to not give a guy like that carries, and he continued to be involved in the Patriots offense in Week 12. While it’s great for the Patriots offense in real life, it’s unfortunate for us fantasy managers. Damien Harris is still the number one option in the backfield, as he out-touched Stevenson and was provided valuable red zone work, but it’s closely approaching a 1A-1B situation. Both players are great, but at this point, I fear they will begin cannibalizing the fantasy prospects of each other. With runs like this, can you blame the Patriots OC?:

 

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Jakobi Meyers: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 98 yards

Kendrick Bourne: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 61 yards, 2 TD

Jonnu Smith: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 49 yards | 1 carry, 9 yards

Nelson Agholor: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards

Hunter Henry: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards

 

When free agency came and went, I found myself smirking at what the Patriots were doing. Henry and Jonnu? What is this, Gronk and Hernandez? Oh, you think Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor are still relevant? That’s cute. Well, eight wins later and I’ll eat that crow. I give a lot of credit to coaching these guys up to what they are doing. I’m not sure exactly what that is, but it’s working. Jakobi Meyers saw eight targets and seems to be a between-the-twenties guy for the most part – his red zone score two weeks ago was outside of the norm. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry were both relevant in this game, combining for nine targets and almost 75 total yards. Nelson Agholor is the third option at best and likely will have this sort of volume in a standard Patriots game. The highlight of the day was clearly Kendrick Bourne, who hauled in two scores from Mac Jones on the day. One was a dime in the back corner of the end zone, and the other was this tight-rope routine which was a huge factor in the momentum of the game:

 

 

If you think you read better fantasy analysis anywhere else…

 

 

— Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter) 

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