What We Saw: Week 8

It's backup QB SZN

Patriots @ Chargers

Final Score: Patriots 27, Chargers 24

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

 

There wasn’t a lot of good QB play in this one, as Mac Jones was bad and Justin Herbert was inconsistent at best. The ground game for the Patriots was electric whenever they went to it, but poor coaching left some points on the board when they tried to get cute and throw it more often than they should have. A late touchdown gave the Chargers a bit of hope, but the onside kick was recovered by New England and they escaped Los Angeles with a victory.

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterback

 

Mac Jones: 18/35, 218 yards, sack | 4 carries, 10 yards

 

This was not the best game for Mac Jones and he’d be the first one to tell you that. He was inaccurate for much of this game, going 2/13 to end the 1st half.

 

 

It was brutal to watch after seeing him be such a high-efficiency machine so far this season. He was forced to throw in some situations where they probably should have run the ball, which I just chalk up to poor play-calling on the part of Josh McDaniels. This was especially obvious on New England’s third and fourth drives of the game.

On the third drive, after running the ball down the Chargers’ throats for much of the early going, the Patriots faced first and goal from the four. They would proceed to throw it, then run it to the one, then throw it two more times to turn it over on downs. It made absolutely no sense. Mac didn’t have anyone open on any of these plays so he was forced to make bad throws to spots where nobody would be able to catch it.

On their very next drive, New England started with the ball at the Chargers’ 36 after a poor punt and a good return by Gunner Olszewski. After passes on their first two plays resulted in only seven yards, the Patriots went on to gain 23 yards on four runs to leave them with 2nd and five at the six-yard line. From there, McDaniels once again called two passes and Mac was unable to complete either of them, leading to a field goal on a drive that really should have been an easy touchdown based on the field position.

Mac was better in the second half, but it was too late to salvage anything for fantasy purposes. He did enough to lead the Patriots to a win, which is all that matters for this Patriots fan, but it was easily Mac’s worst game as a Patriot. A good learning experience for sure.

 

Running Backs

 

Damien Harris: 23 carries, 80 yards, TD | 1 target

Rhamondre Stevenson: 8 carries, 25 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards

Brandon Bolden: 4 carries, 26 yards

Jakob Johnson: 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

J.J. Taylor was inactive for this game, meaning Rhamondre Stevenson was active again and the carousel at backup RB for this seam continues to spin around. Stevenson was alright in this one, but he didn’t look nearly as good as Damien Harris, whose final line really isn’t indicative of how good he was.

First off, New England didn’t run the ball nearly as much as they should have. They had such an easy time of running the ball, but for whatever reason, they kept trying to throw it in the red zone. It made no sense. They had success running the ball pretty much any time they tried.

Second, Harris had two long runs that were called back due to holding penalties. The first was a 28 yard touchdown, while the second was a 23 yard run. Add one or both of those plays to Harris’ final line and you’ve got yourself an RB1 day for the young guy.

 

 

This was a prime matchup for Harris and it’s unfortunate that he wasn’t able to truly break out.

After 79 yards on six catches last week, Brandon Bolden didn’t receive a single target in this one. Trust me – he’s not fantasy-relevant despite what anyone else tells you.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Kendrick Bourne: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 38 yards, Fumble (Lost)

Jakobi Meyers: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards

Nelson Agholor: 6 targets, 3 reception, 60 yards

Hunter Henry: 3 targets, 1 reception, 33 yards

Jonnu Smith: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

N’Keal Harry: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 30 yards

 

As Mac Jones goes, so goes the Patriots’ receiving corps, and with Mac struggling it was a mediocre day at best for all of these names. Those of us hoping for a Hunter Henry revenge game were sorely disappointed, though he did get his own revenge by recovering an onside kick to clinch the game. That doesn’t count for fantasy purposes, however, and his one catch on the day ended up being a major disappointment.

Jakobi Meyers was targeted nine times but most of them were either uncatchable or broken up. He was on the receiving end of a fourth-and-one target in the end zone early in the game, but it was a poor throw and he had no shot at converting his first career touchdown. He did convert a two-point conversion, however, so he did catch a ball in the end zone.

Kendrick Bourne made a nice catch on third down to extend a drive, but he had a bad fumble later in the game that the Chargers were able to recover. Fumbles have been an issue for the Patriots this season and Bourne went straight to the dog house, not seeing the field again for the remainder of the game. He’s come on as of late and I really thought this could be a breakout game for him, but alas he now has to make up for his mistakes in the eyes of the coaching staff.

Nelson Agholor was the recipient of a beautiful throw from Mac early in the game, and he very nearly connected with him for a second bomb later on but the ball was just a bit overthrown. He’s such an inconsistent option in this offense that it’s hard to trust him in fantasy.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Herbert: 18/35, 223 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 3 sacks | 2 carries, 9 yards

 

Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense looked like they were going to destroy the Patriots after their first drive of the game, where they went 75 yards on eight plays to score a touchdown. The Patriots put up little resistance and Herbert was on point. Things went downhill a bit from there. Herbert wasn’t very sharp on Sunday and it showed for much of the game. The Patriots got good pressure on him for most of the day, but that wasn’t the main reason Herbert and the rest of the offense were off. According to Herbert, they simply weren’t expecting a lot of Cover 2 from the Patriots’ defense.

 

 

Herbert threw two touchdowns in the game, and you can see those GIFs below. He also threw two interceptions on the day, though they weren’t entirely his fault. His first came with under two minutes to play, on a pass that went straight through Austin Ekeler‘s hands.

 

 

You could argue that the throw may have been a little high, but that’s nit-picking. Ekeler should have had that ball. This led to a New England field goal before the half.

Herbert’s second pick came on a pass to A.J. Green Jared Cook, who simply didn’t turn around for the ball. It was a poor throw, however, because instead of hitting Cook in the back it sailed over his shoulder right to Adrian Philips for his second pick of the day.

 

 

These two plays directly led to 10 points, and they were the reason the Chargers lost this game.

 

Running Back

 

Austin Ekeler: 11 carries, 64 yards, TD | 10 targets, 6 receptions, 60 yards

Justin Jackson: 3 carries, 79 yards

Larry Rountree III: 4 carries, 11 yards

 

As predicted, Austin Ekeler gained most of his fantasy production through the air, though he did have one heck of a touchdown run on the Chargers’ first drive of the game.

 

 

Ekeler’s 10 targets were second only to Keenan Allen‘s 11 in this game. He didn’t make a huge impact, but he did help keep a few drives going with third-down conversions. Take away his one 28 yard run and he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, which isn’t great, but that’s not what we’re here for anyway. 24.4 PPR points is a heck of a day and we’ll take it anytime we can get it.

Justin Jackson had the longest run of this game by far, taking one for 75 yards before running out of gas and getting tracked down from behind. He only saw two more carries all day.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Keenan Allen: 11 targets, 6 receptions, 77 yards, TD

Mike Williams: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Jared Cook: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Jalen Guyton: 2 targets, 1 reception, 18 yards

Joshua Palmer: 1 target, 1 reception, 24 yards, TD

 

J.C. Jackson shadowed Mike Williams for most of this game and took him out of it pretty much completely. Williams was nonexistent for most of this game and I honestly don’t remember seeing him much at all. That’s exactly what a shutdown corner should do.

Meanwhile, Keenan Allen did make an impact right from the get-go, catching a 41-yard strike over the middle of the field on the Chargers’ opening drive. Later in the game, with the Chargers in the red zone, Allen found a soft spot in the coverage and sat there for a wide-open touchdown catch.

 

 

He contributed a few more catches on the day but it was pretty quiet otherwise. Not that anyone is disappointed over 19.7 points from Allen, but the Patriots were certainly happy that he didn’t explode for more than that.

Josh Palmer is worth mentioning simply due to his fantastic touchdown catch with under a minute remaining. Los Angeles didn’t really have a shot to win at this point but it was nice to see him go up and make the grab.

 

 

 

Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

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