49ers @ Patriots
The COVID carousel finds us looking at the Week 7 matchup between the Patriots and 49ers with some eyebrow-raising. We came into this game unsure if Jimmy Garoppolo would be a consistent quarterback, with his lack of consistent offensive weapons not named George Kittle a concern. Will the New England Patriots bounce back just a week removed from a subpar performance from Cam Newton and friends? Well, the Patriots certainly didn’t bounce back, and Jimmy G didn’t really have to do anything as the 49ers ran all over the Patriots in this one and won the game 33-6. Let’s dive in and see what we find ourselves learning from this charged and extremely close matchup!
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo: 20/25, 277 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs | 1 carry, 4 yards
Jimmy Garoppolo‘s return to New England was less about lighting up his former team in a revenge game, and more about being the terminal for a consistent rushing attack that milked the Patriots bone dry. Both a game of rushing prowess and consistently good field position, Garoppolo didn’t have to do much but show up and hand the ball off. Jeff Wilson hacked and slashed his way to well over 100 yards, and Garoppolo did throw two picks, so it likely made more sense that they continued to keep the ball on the ground. Jimmy G will likely continue to be a quarterback on the cusp of being a QB2/bye week play, but with the insurgence of Justin Herbert and the reinvigorated Derek Carr, there is plenty of talent at quarterback (if you’re in need of a replacement for comatose Cam).
Jeff Wilson: 17 carries, 112 yards, 3 TDs | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards
Jerick McKinnon: 3 carries, -1 yards
JaMycal Hasty: 9 carries, 57 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 16 yards
Kyle Jusczyk: 4 carries, 18 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 1 reception, 18 yards
Jeff Wilson, are you kidding me? He had almost 10 yards per carry against a stout Patriots defense, and the only thing that could stop the man was a self-inflicted high ankle sprain as he absolutely went scorched earth on the ground. Wilson is actually the backfield rusher in San Fran that I find most dynamic, but the lone issue lies in the fact they have 4 to 5 mouths to feed when a healthy backfield finds itself around. Wilson looked like a perennial all-star, and with zero question, put himself at the top of the depth chart. On his second touchdown below, he bounced from the offensive line to the sideline edge and with some burst, saw himself leaving defenders in the dust. Now, he has this injury to contend with going into next week, Jerick McKinnon in the waiting, and JaMycal Hasty contending for more carries after showcasing himself well with almost 10 carries in this game. Oh, and Tevin Coleman is likely days, not weeks from returning. That said, Wilson is an intriguing stash, as he has upside to shake off games like today when given the chance, and the Niners could desperately use consistency in this backfield over the sheer volume of options. Wilson, if healthy, is likely going to be one of the most picked up players for next week. Pro Football Focus writer Nathan Jahnke gives us the snap counts below.
49ers final HB snap count
Jeff Wilson Jr. 37(injured)
JaMycal Hasty 14
Jerick McKinnon 12
Out of 65 plays
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 25, 2020
— QB List (@TheQBlist) October 25, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
George Kittle: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards
Brandon Aiyuk: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 115 yards
Deebo Samuel: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards
Kendrick Bourne: 1 target, 0 receptions
The Niners took an ailing/aimless Patriots squad and capitalized on a somewhat mysterious team showcase, as they used a litany of options to bleed the Patriots out. While all of the offensive touchdowns came on rushing plays, both Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle jumped on their defensive matchups and succeeded in giving Jimmy G some options in the few times he dropped back to pass. While Deebo Samuel was in no way a slouch, Aiyuk had a coming-out party of sorts, and as a first-round selection, it’s quite possible he’s sliding his way into the second in line behind Kittle in the passing attack. He was consistent, moved quick on his routes, and bit off a huge 35-yard reception to help push the Niners. Kittle is a set it and forget it TE1 (I still like him a touch more than Kelce, due to the number of offensive weapons in KC versus Niners), but Aiyuk may have just stiff-armed Deebo from a top 30 WR and pushed himself right there in his place.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton: 9/15, 3 INTs, 1 sack | 5 carries, 19 yards
Jarrett Stidham: 6/10, 64 yards, 1 INT | 2 rushes, 3 yards
This is a quarterback showing where we really don’t need to mince words. I’m not sure if Cam Newton is still not feeling himself just weeks removed from his COVID diagnosis, but he sucked. Balls were either underthrown or overthrown all day, and he didn’t move efficiently or dynamically in the pocket. Just a month back, we were talking about Cam as a QB1; Now, I don’t know if this is a quarterback that needs to be rostered. How the mighty have fallen. This was a game expected to be tight throughout, showcasing the brand new New England quarterback against the quarterback in waiting who was pushed out to San Francisco, and I’m feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse.
With just 45 seconds left in the first half, Cam went upstairs with a laser to Jakobi Meyers that looked to give the team some momentum, but it didn’t matter as it was called back on a Joe Thuney holding call. Simply brutal. On the next play, Cam went right back to Meyers, but the damage was done, and the Patriots ended up walking off the field at the half down 20. Jarrett Stidham eventually took over, as New England found themselves buried 33-3 and Newton looked lost on the sideline.
What’s there to say for the fantasy impact? Worst case scenario is Cam likely gets one more start and if he has another horrific showing as this one, could see himself as a backup. This is definitely looking more and more likely by the game, but the Patriots could likely start to eye potential quarterbacks for next year in the draft, and Cam is slowly plummeting from the top 10 of quarterbacks.
Damien Harris: 10 carries, 58 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards
James White: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards
Rex Burkhead: 5 carries, 14 yards | 4 targets, 3 reception, 35 yards
James White found himself spending half the week without practice (undisclosed reasons), so it was a hard bet to figure out which backs you could play in this game, either in PPR or non-PPR. With Sony Michel continuing his IR stint and eligible to come off next week, we saw another opportunity for Damien Harris to showcase himself to the coaching staff. He’s performed admirably since his own return from IR, and has himself an average YPC of 5.2. Michel has not shined since his early draft position, so not much will tie them to Michel for the remainder of the season, and with the squad going into next week at 2-4, it would behoove the Patriots to see what they have with the 2nd year back in Harris. A dynamic rusher could greatly benefit whichever signal-caller is behind center, helping slow down a consistent pass-rushing system that knows the rushing game could challenge them at any avenue. Harris himself had a high draft position for an offensive player, and with two weeks straight receiving the lion’s share of the carries, it’s clear the Patriots are willing to give him some run.
If you’re in a fantasy league where Harris is either missed on the waiver wire because he’s only been back a couple of weeks, or you have a squad that stashed him but doesn’t see him eclipsing one hundred yards due to poor game scripting/chasing points late in games so not rushing as much as you’d like, reach out to the Harris owner (especially in Dynasty leagues) and buy low. Michel has only one more season under contract and is a 3 million dollar cap hit next year, so while it may seem early, he could be the type of player the Patriots cut to save some space in a likely rebuild.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Damiere Byrd: 2 targets, 1 reception, 16 yards
Julian Edelman: 3 targets, 1 reception, 13 yards
N’Keal Harry: 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards
Jakobi Meyers: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 60 yards
Ryan Izzo: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards
Dalton Keene: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards
This game is less about the lack of quality gameplay by the wide receiving crew and more about the inability by Cam to both keep defenses on their toes with some rushing and consistent quality passing. The best wide receiver in this game was Jakobi Meyers, someone who had a little shine on his name in last year’s preseason but didn’t live up to it. This marks the third straight game that a different wide receiver has led the scoring for the Patriots, and it’s sad to say but the days of putting in a New England wide receiver and forgetting about it are over. Julian Edelman may not end up being a dud for the season, but for the time being, there are zero reliable fantasy options in the receiving corps. Their offensive line is in shambles from injuries and COVID opt-outs, so it’s tough to see any of the current talent finding separation from defensive matchups on a consistent basis. Even on the first target made to Julian Edelman, the ball was thrown behind him, and tipped into a defender’s hands.
— Matthew Bevins (MattQbList on Twitter, TheLongSpring on Reddit)