Patriots vs. Chargers
Entering Week 13, one of these two teams has had a bit more entertaining of a lineup for fantasy purposes, while the other is within punching distance of a playoff spot, so it was expected this game would be a lot more enjoyable than it turned out to be. The Patriots took an early league and never looked back, blanking the Chargers and likely ending some fantasy chances for those who have employed Justin Herbert on his charged run of recent. At the end of the day, the Patriots blanked the Chargers 45-0.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton: 12/19, 69 yards, 1 TD, 1 sack | 14 carries, 48 yards, 2 TDs
Jarrett Stidham: 2/3, 61 yards, 1 TD | 2 rushes, -2 yards
Cam Newton has had about a month and a half since his return from his COVID diagnosis and subsequent pause in his season, and it looks like we may finally be seeing the fantasy-friendly Cam returning at a great time for our fantasy needs. Newton threw less than 20 passes for the third time in four weeks but boosted his somewhat average stat line with two rushing touchdowns. Looking ten years younger on a couple of rushes, it was exciting to return to what Cam showed us at the beginning of the season. His passing prowess may mostly be removed, or it could be a mixture of both that and an incredibly average receiving crew, but this is easily the most fantasy friendly Cam we’ve seen in a while. The prospect of a resurgent Cam is exciting to watch for the playoff push, but it also could be an enticing fantasy add when you come into a difficult defensive matchup for a fantasy quarterback you’ve been running out every week. Cam even had an impressive pass to N’Keal Harry on a fast curl route directly to the front of the endzone. Welcome back, Cam. Hopefully, this isn’t just a mirage. We even got to see a little Jarrett Stidham after a strong showcase by the Patriots in this one.
Check out some Cam headstrong rushing for six below!
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 6, 2020
Damien Harris: 16 rushes, 80 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards
Sony Michel: 10 rushes, 35 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 23 yards
James White: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 1 yard
Jakob Johnson: 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard
The rushing attack for the Patriots may have just gotten muddier than the banks of Wishkah, as Sony Michel has returned to be the average rusher that the Patriots have drawn upon for the last year and a half. While Damien Harris has basically “ran away” with the job, it wouldn’t be New England if they didn’t torture us fantasy owners and give us just a little look at Sony Michel again and make us wonder if we can trust Harris going into the fantasy playoffs. Harris averaged a quality 5.0 per carry to Michel’s 3.4, and once again showcased what has made us so intrigued by him as weekly watchers, as he runs with conviction and little second-guessing notion, punishing defenders with his hardnosed run style. No one would argue who the more talented rusher of the two is, or which one will likely command the backfield here for years to come, but this certainly leads to some mystery and goal-line frustration for the next few weeks. Maybe there’s some hope they can take some of the load off of Harris’ after he avoided some injury scares, but either way, this could be discouraging as the team is in the midst of a late-season playoff run and could be in some tight playoff seed battles. I still find it hard to not rank Damien Harris as an RB2, but this certainly kicks him a tad lower to flex territory.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards
Gunner Olszewski: 1 target, 1 reception, 38 yards, 1 TD
N’Keal Harry: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards, 1 TD
Ryan Izzo: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
Damiere Byrd: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards
It’s kind of amazing that with a 45-0 blowout, there was little fantasy value to be gained from the receiving crew here, but as with this offense on the norm, they have no normalcy. Cam only attempted 19 passes, and Stidham three. Also, Gunner Olszewski was a swiss-army knife of sorts, scoring a touchdown on only his third reception of the year, and also returning a kick for a touchdown. Between him and Cam, they accounted for four touchdowns with their feet. Jakobi Meyers was mostly kept silent despite once again receiving the most targets of all the wide receivers, doubling the next closest at three. The toughest part of watching this squad is that Meyers and Damiere Byrd play with tenacity, and run routes well, but don’t do anything extremely flashy or well otherwise yet. So, the squad has relied on James White for squeezed-out-of-the-backfield pass plays, and Cam rushing to leverage defenses and keep them on their toes. While Meyers was starting to eek his way quietly into the top-30 of PPR wide receivers, it’s hard to say he’s still in that realm, especially without Julian Edelman to help soak up some defensive coverage. Also, add to the fact that most weeks, Cam isn’t passing much more than twenty times a game for the remainder of the season. In this offense, Meyers is your highest opportunity player, but don’t start him with ease. He’s a flex wide receiver at best. Olsewski is someone you may want to keep an eye on for dynasty leagues if he continues to impress and Edelman either moves on or retires.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 26/53, 209 yards, 2 INTs, 3 sacks
Justin Herbert likely lost some teams their fantasy games single-handedly this week and ended some team’s playoff hopes. This was a ghastly showing, and likely his worst game for a long time, but a lot of this was him playing from behind most of the game, as Bill Belichick and crew ended up scheming for Herbert to be a gunslinger, as he threw the ball 53 times, but completed less than half of them, and threw two of them for picks. His offense looked swallowed up from the start, and with the game quickly getting out from under them, there was nothing they could do but continue to air out the ball in hopes of putting up some points. While that normally could be useful for a quarterback you own in fantasy, this didn’t do much for Herbert’s line. His Quarterback Rating was an 8.8 (no, I’m not missing a digit). He placed a pick right in J.C. Jackson’s breadbasket. He did not look comfortable at any point today. I’ll likely call this game an outlier, however, as Herbert has become a consistent fantasy commodity due to his propensity to toss up so many passes. What an odd game to see someone throw over fifty passes, and have their fantasy owners yelling “Stop, Stop!”
Austin Ekeler: 8 carries, 36 yards | 9 targets, 4 receptions, 32 yards
Kalen Ballage: 7 carries, 34 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 5 yards
Joshua Kelley: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 3 yards
When Austin Ekeler returned last week, fantasy managers were rewarded immediately. This week, Ekeler crashed back to earth a bit, but his passing game involvement bailed him out in the end. Ekeler had some bite on his rushes, as he engaged in contact and actively joined the passing game. 2019 laughingstock Kalen Ballage is back, and is once again proving his season last year that so many laughed at is likely a work of Adam Gase’s doing, and not his own, as he once again looked serviceable as a backup or change of pace back. Ekeler has always been the number one back to roll with after Melvin Gordon left for Denver, but they’ve subbed out his backups at an alarming rate as they awaited his return from injury, but they may have finally found their best #2 back in Ballage. It’s unfortunate that Ekeler got wrapped up in such a horrible game going on around him but look to roll Ekeler back out next week as an RB1.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen: 11 targets, 5 receptions, 48 yards
Mike Williams: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 43 yards
Jalen Guyton: 7 targets, 2 receptions, 38 yards
Donald Parham Jr: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards
Hunter Henry: 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards
Three players in the Chargers’ receiving crew surpassed the Patriots’ number one target leader today, but it didn’t lead to very much fantasy production, as Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson locked down Keenan Allen and Mike Williams for the majority of the day, frustrating Keenan Allen owners who rely on him most weeks for well over ten points in PPR leagues. He did not surpass it this week for the first time in two months. Allen’s lockdown was mostly a Gilmore showcase as he returned from an injury saddled season. This team likely will continue to have prime matchups where Herbert tosses up about 50 passes or more, so let’s look at this one as an immense outlier. See below just how unlucky the Chargers were today. And continue to view Allen as your best wide receiver, and Mike Williams as a fringe WR3.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 6, 2020
-Matthew Bevins (Reddit:TheLongSpring/Twitter:MattQbList)