Bills @ Patriots
We’re right into Week 8, watching for the first time as the Patriots take on the Bills while three games behind in the division. The Bills are full steam ahead with Josh Allen and Company, attempting to take the AFC East Division title for the first time since 1995. There’s a ton of talent to do just that, but the coaching of the Patriots and the creativity of Cam Newton could get the Patriots back into punching distance. Let’s take a dive in and see what happens!
Josh Allen: 11/18, 154 yards, 1 INT, 1 sack | 10 rushes, 23 yards, 1 TD
Josh Allen had a pretty average passing game, but once again showed how being a rushing quarterback can help create a high ceiling fantasy quarterback. Despite only throwing 11 completions, Allen produced another 8 points of fantasy production on the ground, even though the game plan was specifically designed to hinder his rushing potential. Allen was pressured pretty consistently but still managed to take a quarterback option right up the middle late in the game for a touchdown carry. The lone blip on his record was a pick that was mostly a shared mistake between Allen and his wide receiver. J.C. Jackson got a gift-wrapped present right in his hands, as a ball was underthrown on a receiver route and ended up hitting him right in the bread box. Allen continues to be a low-end QB1.
Devin Singletary: 14 carries, 86 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
Zack Moss: 14 carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs | 1 target, 0 receptions
Upon first glance, neither Devin Singletary and Zack Moss really gained an edge over the other. While Singletary is poised to be the starting of drives back of choice, Moss really is stirring up the sauce and making it extra murky. Singletary averaged 6.1 yards per carry in today’s game and looked quick out of the box, but Moss was employed closer to the goal line, despite the consistent pace and quality of carry that Singletary employed. This may not be the worst thing to see, however, as this now gives us the upside of two potential top 30 running backs in a season where not very many running backs have been consistent. While the Patriots are pretty much average or worse than average everywhere on the field, it’s nice to see the Bills surge with their rushing game, as many saw Moss as the rusher with the higher upside going into the season, fading Singletary after such a high draft pick was used on Moss. Moss was Toucan Sam and followed his nose to the endzone to the tune of two TD’s, and this is exactly what we need these days. I really like Moss and he at times reminds of Marshawn Lynch, as he’s an interesting combo of speed and force. Singletary is not by any means a bad rusher, but he, unfortunately, may lose favor from the Bills coaching staff and their obsession with Zacharia EndZone Moss. You can see the vision and rush of Moss for a 9-yard powerbomb through a table:
— QB List (@TheQBlist) November 1, 2020
Stefon Diggs: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 92 yards
Cole Beasley: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards
John Brown: 2 targets, 1 reception, 21 yards
Tyler Kroft: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards
Gabriel Davis: 2 targets, 0 receptions
The Bills’ air attack was mostly muted today by a somewhat underrated Patriots secondary. Stephon Gilmore had the week off, amidst rumors of trades and a tweaked knee ailing him. Where he was missed, the McCourty twins and J.C. Jackson filled in admirably, but the game planning seemed to have skewed towards a more run focused offense this week. The passing offense is not really scary when you’re relying on Cole Beasley and Tyler Kroft to be competitive. However, Stefon Diggs once again showed that he’s worth the move for him, as he once again led the team in both receptions and targets. Per FootballOutsiders, this New England defense is well below average, and bottom third taking into account just their secondary. With that said, it was surprising to see that Josh Allen completed less than 50 percent of his passes thrown over ten yards, and never really locked in with any specific receiving option. John Brown struggling to get back from his injury has clearly ailed Allen, as teams are focusing in on Diggs without much else needing to be covered.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton: 15/25, 174 yards, 2 sacks | 9 rushes, 54 yards, 1 TD
The final drive the Patriots had will be replayed for days to come to basically highlight the different in-game resolution between current Bucs (and former Pats) play-caller Tom Brady and current Pats play-caller, Cam Newton. Cam had the Patriots driving very late in the fourth quarter, and likely within field goal range for Nick Folk (I say likely as Folk has been difficult to watch all season) when he took a short rushing play to the middle of the field and had the ball punched out and recovered by Buffalo. This one stung. A lot. Removed from that last drive, Cam looked the best he’s looked since returning from his COVID-IR stint and actively sought to air it out against a stout Bills defense. Cam had some zip on his passes, didn’t make mistakes in the air, and rushed when need be. It was not how you would have liked this game to end, and without Julian Edelman or N’Keal Harry, it’s clear the Patriots needed to go heavy on the run, but it’s exciting to see the Patriots playing a divisional game with a chip on their shoulders and a quarterback who looks like he may have turned the corner after seemingly two entirely lost weeks.
Damien Harris: 16 rushes, 102 yards, 1 TD
Rex Burkhead: 6 rushes, 26 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards
James White: 2 rushes, 0 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 35 yards
Wow. The early-season adorers may just have been right on Damien Harris. Harris was taken two years removed from an early draft pick on Sony Michel, so it was hard to really believe that the coaching staff would anoint Harris the savior after a strong training camp, but he’s going to make the point that he’s here to stay and may even deserve the lead back role. Harris was beastly at Alabama, and that hasn’t changed much since. He spent last year on the IR, but after a game with just one less carry than Cam, James White, and Rex Burkhead combined, it’s clear the Patriots are willing to give him a chance to shine (16 carries to the combined trio’s 17). Harris doesn’t linger in the backfield like Sony Michel, and runs with a purpose, not wasting large time on runs with unnecessary movement. White will remain the premier pass receiving back, and Cam will always make a few moves out of the backfield, but Harris is making the case he is the guy to have here for the rest of the season and is climbing up dynasty rankings (including my own). Check out the clean and concise touchdown play he made in this game below!
Tie game in Buffalo 👀
— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2020
Jakobi Meyers: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 58 yards
Damiere Byrd: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards
Gunner Olszewski: 1 carry, 6 yards
Ryan Izzo: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards
Isiah Zuber: 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards
The top pass-catching option for Cam in this game was Jakobi Meyers, but in watching this game you wouldn’t have necessarily seen a team lacking receiving options. Edelman will be out for weeks with a procedure for a bone on bone injury, and Harry is seeing his injuries start to pop up, so the best receiving options going into this game were Meyers, Damiere Byrd, and Gunner Olszewski. Meyers showed some shine last year and proceeded to pace the team with more targets than all other combined receiving options. He caught sixty percent of his targets, and with Edelman and Harry likely to miss large sums of time, Meyers made the case he may just be the best option in a pretty subpar receiving core (one that didn’t make a move for Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant). Unless the Pats make a trade in just a few days, they’re looking at giving this offense over to a young receiving core as they try and decide who will stick around as this team continues to seek an identity. Meyers is nothing but a fringe deep bench stash, but you could do worse. The rest (while I like Byrd) deserve to sit on your waiver wire for the time being.
— Matthew Bevins (@MattQbList on Twitter, TheLongSpring on Reddit)