Las Vegas Raiders @ New England Patriots
It’s week 3, and we go into a seemingly mundane matchup of prior years with some added excitement. The Oakland Raiders of old have become the sexy new Las Vegas Raiders, headed by Jon Gruden, and the Patriots face off against them with a speedier quarterback at the helm of their squad. The Patriots took this game in somewhat anticlimactic fashion, but what fantasy repercussions do we get out of it?
Let’s dive in!
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr: 24/32, 261 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 2 sacks |2 rushes, 10 yards
Derek Carr didn’t lose this game, he was simply outcoached. I’ve watched many a 4 pm game, after watching the last few years of Raiders football, and learned that he’s a very proficient quarterback who won’t lose you a game but will do nothing to outright win one. And now, when I get a chance to see him play against someone I’m rooting for, it once again comes up. Carr only threw eight incompletions, just a quarter of his passes. He targeted nine separate players and attempted to persuade the rest of his team to show up and shock the Patriots, leading his squad down the field to end the second quarter and get them within three points, but it just wasn’t enough. Carr is a solid bye week replacement to the eye in 14 to 16 team leagues, but expect somewhere between a 70 to 75 percent completion rate, and somewhere south of 300 yards passing. That being said, he actually out-boxscored Cam across the field, as the Patriots attempt to find a new school of offense a week ahead of potential IR returns.
Josh Jacobs: 16 carries, 71 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 12 yards
Devontae Booker: 3 carries, 31 yards
Jalen Richard: 1 carry, 14 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 8 yards
Alec Ingold: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards
Josh Jacobs had an incredible rookie season, and started off this season at relatively the same level of fireworks, scoring three touchdowns in the first week but not yet eclipsing one hundred yards on the ground. That streak didn’t end here, as the Patriots got to gameplan against one of the league’s best rushers while he was semi-hampered with a hip injury he’s playing through. Jacobs dominated the carries but didn’t do much with them, despite a pretty solid 4.4 yards per carry. Likely out there as an attempt to pull coverage/gameplan the best defensive players in the box, Devontae Booker looked solid in short carry amounts, averaging a little over 10 yards per carry himself, while also showcasing some life in him he seemingly didn’t have in Denver. Not much to see here if this isn’t a lingering injury for Jacobs, but shows you that Booker is clearly the preferred rushing option if he was forced to miss any time. If you’re a Jacobs fan, monitor this often, and look to handcuff Jacobs with Booker if you have a wishy-washy bench spot.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Hunter Renfrow: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD
Bryan Edwards: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 48 yards
Nelson Agholor: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards
Zay Jones: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards
Foster Moreau: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards, 1 TD
Darren Waller: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards
Sadly, either game-planning, lack of ability to throw it deep, or the absence of Henry Ruggs today really hamstrung the receiving crew today, as no one really came out with a solid line besides the new age Julian Edelman, Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow became Carr’s check-down valve in this game, but with three different players racking up 11, 9, and 9 targets from weeks 1 thru 3, it seems more than likely that having any part of the Raiders wide receiver crew will continuously be a boom-bust proposition. Ruggs is the most dynamic and with the most upside but is an unpolished Tyreek Hill at this point in his career, and with a less dangerous quarterback at the helm and a less adept coaching staff (no disrespect to Gruden). We could be a season or two from Ruggs being a breakout wide receiver, but it will either need to be in a situation where he has far more rapport with Carr or with a new quarterback alongside him. I don’t see much here to be gained in relying on any of these wide receivers currently. Your lone outlier remains Darren Waller, who had a very pedestrian outing and will look to recover from it after a solid defensive squad shut him down.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton: 17/28, 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks| 9 rushes, 27 yards
Cam Newton was not the centerpiece of the offense today, despite it succeeding on the ground like weeks before. This week, he ceded those duties to the running backs. I’m unsure if that’s more to prevent wear and tear on Newton, or just the team attempting to figure out their rotation for the rest of the year, as Damien Harris able to return from the IR as of next week. Either way, Cam had some solid passes and helped take the team to 2-1, but not much in terms of a highly productive fantasy evening. With only 27 yards on the ground from nine rushing attempts, it was clear that Las Vegas knew to expect Cam on the ground, and the game planning retort was to crush them with Rex Burkhead and a resurgent Sony Michel. Cam’s having fun in New England and showcasing the possibility that all his issues in Carolina were either injury, coaching, or a mixture of both. Bill Belichick has found a way to use him so far, and it’s worked to great success. This has been immensely fun to watch.
Sony Michel: 9 rushes, 117 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards
Rex Burkhead: 6 carries, 49 yards, 2 TDs|10 targets, 7 receptions, 49 yards, 1 TD
J.J. Taylor: 11 rushes, 43 yards | 1 target, 0 receptions
Jakob Johnson: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
The Cerberus of Patriots’ running backs are as expected… Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and… J.J. Taylor? Every rusher in the Patriots backfield showcased themselves surprisingly well on Sunday. Michel looked like he was fired out of a cannon greased with espresso, Burkhead was a man possessed and looked almost impossible to take down at times, and Taylor has really shown a burst over the past two weeks, filling in when needed with James White out for an unknown period of time. Michel really showcased what the Patriots wanted when taking him early in the draft out of Georgia, averaging an astounding 13.0 yards per carry on the back of one forty-eight yard rush. Where he dazzled, Burkhead devasted, and took a large portion of the usual Julian Edelman short-yardage pickups to himself, soaking almost a third of Cam’s passes in the air, and coming down with seven receptions, one for a touchdown, and two short carries on the ground for touchdowns, as well. Burkhead was hearing murmurs on fantasy boards and Twitter that he could potentially be seeing some more run with White out, and the need to keep Cam in good health. Well, they were right. And, now we look at this backfield wondering just what we need to do going forward. I’d look at picking up Burkhead for an end of bench stash, keep an eyebrow raised at Taylor if White ends up sitting out for more games (which I totally understand, in his situation), and would look to move Michel where I can, as this is something we haven’t seen often, and I don’t expect to see much more of this for the remainder of the season. Take a look at one of those Burkhead bursts below:
— QB List (@TheQBlist) September 27, 2020
Wide Receiver/Tight Ends
N’Keal Harry: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 34 yards | 1 carry, 2 yards
Julian Edelman: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards | 1 carry, -1 yard
Damiere Byrd: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 27 yards
Ryan Izzo: 1 target, 0 receptions
Not much really can be seen from this wide receiver crew, as Julian Edelman had most of his short shots taken out from under him by Burkhead. And honestly, in a game where you’re trying to see who potentially could be cut out of the backfield with the return of Harris from IR or White from his family-related abscense, it makes sense to see what you have at running back. With that in mind, we got a relatively quiet game from the receivers here, as N’Keal Harry/Edelman/Damiere Byrd COMBINED for just 7 receptions. This offense can be frustrating for fantasy managers, and in a week where we were looking to reach just a bit with plenty of injured players, we were sorely let down if you relied on any receivers in New England. Even Edelman was a blip on the radar after an explosion last week. My hope is that this was a tryout for the backfield, and we’ll go back to your standard viewing from Edelman, so I still project him as a low WR1 in Points Per Reception leagues. Harry shows some flashes, but he’s still at best a deep league flex/onlooker off your bench. Byrd has actually been a behind the scene star for the Patriots staff, as he had the highest snap count percentage of all receivers coming into week 3, at 87 percent, so if we look at this week as “not the norm”, continue on with slotting Edelman in your lineups, keep your eyes on Harry, and put your tacks on the map if you’re in deeper dynasty leagues/deep bench leagues, as the Byrd will soar every now and then.
-Matthew Bevins (Twitter: MattQbList/ Reddit: TheLongSpring)