What We Saw: Week 13

The What We Saw team recaps Week 13 of the NFL season from a fantasy perspective

Chargers @ Patriots

Final Score: Chargers 6, Patriots 0

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)


On a rainy December day in Foxborough, Brandon Staley and the Los Angeles Chargers came into Gillette Stadium and squeaked out a victory over a terrible Patriots team. It was a defensive showcase as the Patriots’ defense took away Austin Ekeler and the Chargers’ run game, forcing Justin Herbert to throw it downfield in downpour conditions. The ball was slick and led to multiple drops by Herbert’s receiving weapons. For the Chargers, their defensive front highlighted by Khalil Mack kept the pressure up on Bailey Zappe, forcing him to make quick decisions that often resulted in some very poor throws.

As bad as New England has been on offense this season, their defense has really stepped up and played well week in and week out despite key injuries to their defensive line and secondary. The Chargers punted from New England’s 38 yard line at one point, refusing to kick a field goal through the rain. Later in the game, they took a delay of game on purpose to push themselves back five yards from New England’s 36 to the 41, again, to punt. It was a truly dreadful showcase of offensive talent, or lackthereof.

A couple notes on that historically bad Patriots offense:

  • It was the first time since 1993 that the Patriots haven’t scored points in the first half of a game in back to back weeks
  • The Patriots are the first team since 1938 that has lost three straight games after allowing ten or fewer total points



One Up

  • Mother Nature – Made this game borderline unwatchable. Actually, just unwatchable.

Three Down

  • Quentin Johnston – Bad drop that killed momentum on a nice looking drive. Led to a punt.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson – Looked to sustain a severe leg injury early in the game. Looked like a season ender.
  • Keenan Allen – Simply wasn’t on the same page with Justin Herbert on multiple plays.


Los Angeles Chargers




Justin Herbert: 22/37, 212 yards | 4 carries, -5 yards

This offense was terrible on Sunday, but it wasn’t completely Justin Herbert’s fault. First, Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ defense keyed in on stopping Austin Ekeler, especially on screens. There was nowhere for Ekeler to run outside of the hashes (nor inside the hashes) as New England did a great job of containing him in this game. This forced Herbert to look downfield all day and his receivers didn’t do him any favors. More on that in a moment.

Second, the weather. It was rainy, it was gross. Not really an excuse but it clearly impacted this game in the way of multiple drops by receivers. One very egregious drop by Quentin Johnston on 3rd and 12 forced them to punt from New England territory for the second time.

Third, Herbert didn’t quite look in sync with Keenan Allen for much of the day. On two occasions, Herbert threw the ball Allen’s way but put it in one spot while Allen ran to a different spot. It’s hard to tell who was at fault but you’d think they would be on the same page for a game like this.

Herbert made some really good throws. With his back to the end zone, Herbert stood in on third and long with a free rusher barreling right at him. He delivered a strike to Johnston downfield for a huge conversion. The aforementioned drop by Johnston was also on a perfect throw as Herbert rolled out to his right.

Herbert wasn’t perfect by any means – he had multiple overthrows of open receivers and had two near interceptions. But he was not the problem on this rainy day in New England.



Running Back


Austin Ekeler: 14 carries, 18 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards

New England’s defense clearly tried to take Austin Ekeler out of this game, and they succeeded. Their run defense has been underrated all year and they had Ekeler stuffed all day. The front four played very well against Los Angeles’ perennially injured offensive line, and there was nowhere to run between the tackles. Additionally, the Patriots did a good job of keeping linebacker Jahlani Tavai locked in on Ekeler, and anythime Ekeler tried to bounce outside or attempt a screen Tavai and other help would swarm to him. They did a really good job of keeping him locked down in this game, plain and simple. Knowing that the weather would impact the Chargers’ ability to air it out likely allowed them to cheat up a bit, but this unit has been consistently good and deserves a lot of credit.


Joshua Kelley: 6 carries, 16 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Keenan Allen: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 58 yards

This was not Keenan Allen‘s day. Cornerback Jonathan Jones covered Allen for most of the day and played very well against him. Herbert often had to look to other options because of Jones and safety help that had Allen blanketed. Allen also wasn’t on the same page with Herbert on multiple occasions. Allen may have ran the wrong route twice and both times were pointed out by the broadcast. Herbert threw to one spot, but Allen went somewhere else. Allen did convert his 100th catch of the season this week on a nice diving grab across the middle of the field.


Gerald Everett: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 44 yards

Donald Parham Jr.: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Targets were split pretty evenly between Herbert’s two tight ends. Gerald Everett found himself wide open over the middle of the field after a miscommunication between New England’s safeties left him uncovered. Everett took it for a 25 yard gain. Parham had a ball slip through his hands downfield. It was high, but it’s likely the slippery conditions were a factor on it falling incomplete.


Quentin Johnston: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 52 yards

Quentin Johnston had one of the worst drops you’ll ever see. On third and 12 in New England territory, Justin Herbert scrambled to his right and delivered a perfect throw to Johnston. The ball hit him in the hands and he bobbled it away like a bar of soap in the shower.



For a first round pick drafted one spot ahead of Zay Flowers, this has to hurt Chargers fans to no end. Johnston simply has not panned out to this point in his career. He’s lucky that Patriots’ receiver Demario Douglas missed this game, because the 6th round Douglas has shown far more on the field this year than Johnston has. Johnston is officially on bust watch.


Alex Erickson: 1 target, 1 reception, 23 yards

Jalen Guyton: 3 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards

Stone Smartt: 1 target


New England Patriots




Bailey Zappe: 13/25, 141 yards, 5 sacks

Zappe ain’t it. While he wasn’t as bad as Mac Jones has been, Zappe really struggled under pressure and looked like the perennial backup QB that he is. Zappe’s first half was nothing short of a disaster.



After finally getting some juice with a 4th and three conversion on with his legs (including a really nice pump-fake), Zappe was sacked on two straight plays to knock them out of field goal range and force a punt. He made some nice throws downfield to DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton that weren’t caught, two big plays that turned into nothing burgers. For every nice throw he had another throw short that was completely off the mark. I won’t spend anymore time on Zappe since this is a fantasy piece, but Zappe isn’t ever going to be the answer at QB for the Patriots.


Running Back


Rhamondre Stevenson: 9 carries, 40 yards, fumble (lost) | 1 target, 1 reception, 0 yards

Rhamondre looked like he was primed for a workhorse role in rainy Gillette Stadium on Sunday, tallying ten touches in New England’s first 16 plays. However, he went down with what appeared to be a significant injury to his right leg after getting tackled. He also fumbled the ball on the play. He was helped off the field and immediately went to the locker room. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a season-ending injury.


Ezekiel Elliot: 17 carries, 52 yards, fumble (recovered) | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 40 yards

With Rhamondre leaving this game early and looking like his season is over, Elliot should be gobbled up in any leagues he’s available in. He’s now the starting RB for this team and there should be very little competition from the likes of Ty Montgomery and JaMycal Hasty, with Montgomery playing almost entirely on special teams and Hasty a healthy scratch this week. Elliot has looked downright rejuvenated this season and has actually looked fresh for most of it. He was involved in the passing game again today, at one point making a nice catch on a screen and taking it for a 23 yard gain. Los Angeles’ run defense has been solid this year and they did a good job of keeping Zeke from getting to the second level of the defense. Zeke did fumble the ball at one point, a play where it simply slipped out of his hands as he went to the ground. JuJu Smith-Schuster was right there to grab it.


Ty Montgomery: 1 carry, 2 yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


JuJu Smith-Schuster: 3 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards

DeVante Parker: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 64 yards

Parker had two bad drops, one on the first play of the game and one later on. Neither really would have changed this game in a meaningful way but it’s just another example of how Parker is simply not a reliable option for the New England Patriots or for your fantasy team. He nearly had a deep catch late in the game down the left sideline but his left foot came down out of bounds. It would have put the Patriots in the red zone with under five minutes to play, but alas he was unable to get the feet down.


Hunter Henry: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards

Mike Gesicki: No involvement

Jalen Reagor: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

Demario Douglas: Inactive (Concussion)

Tyquan Thornton: 1 target | 1 carry, 39 yards

Thornton beat his defender on a seam route and Zappe threw a great ball his way. Thornton unfortunately let the ball slip right through his hands. It should have been an easy catch and he should have run in for the score but the former second round pick simply couldn’t make the grab. Later in the game he was given an opportunity on an end-around carry, taking it 39 yards downfield for a huge gain. DeVante Parker celebrated early instead of hustling to continue blocking downfield, and Thornton was tackled. I felt that if Parker kept hustling and made one more block the play would have been a touchdown.


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