What We Saw: Week 8

It's backup QB SZN

Football Team @ Broncos

Final Score: Broncos 17, Football Team 10

Writer: Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

 

In a poor offensive performance from both teams, the Broncos hung on for a win despite losing a fumble as they attempted to run out the clock, giving Washington a final desperation attempt. Both quarterbacks checked the ball down often and attempted to play mistake-free football, but the offensive lines and their lack of pocket awareness led to a combined nine sacks. Washington suddenly looks like a three-way backfield split, while the return of Jerry Jeudy may cause the rest of this Denver receiving corps to take a step back from a fantasy perspective. It’s hard to find much to be encouraged about in fantasy leagues in this one, outside of Melvin Gordon finding paydirt twice. And there doesn’t appear to be a magic fix on the horizon for either offense.

 

Washington Football Team

 

Quarterback

 

Taylor Heinicke: 24/39, 270 yards, TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks, 2 fumbles | 1 carry, 10 yards

 

It was an ugly performance overall for Taylor Heinicke, who failed to get anything going downfield in this one. It started on the first drive, where on 4th and 1 Heinkcke managed to throw short of the sticks for a failed conversion. He had a nice touch pass in the intermediate zone to Terry McLaurin on the next drive just over the linebackers, one of his few successful targets downfield. Heinicke was often throwing quickly to J.D. McKissic, seemingly as the first read, and the receivers just weren’t a factor in this game as a result.

The Football Team has begun to see the offensive line injuries pile up, and the pressure has become an issue. Heinicke was oblivious to the pass rush on a third and 3 at the end of the half and took a bad sack, which foreshadowed the issues in the second half. Heinicke seemingly took a sack on every 3rd and long attempt he faced, as he held the ball too long and wasn’t effectively sensing the pressure. Heinicke did finally hit a pass downfield to DeAndre Carter in the third quarter for a touchdown, but that would be the end of their scoring.

 

 

Overall, Heinicke was sacked five times and lost 40 yards, and threw two interceptions. Both interceptions essentially came on hail marys, which weren’t necessarily his fault, but Heinicke failed to impress in any aspect of his game. With a banged-up offensive line and limited weapons in the passing game, there isn’t a ton of hope for a turnaround either.

 

Running Back

 

Antonio Gibson: 8 carries, 34 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards

J.D. McKissic: 3 carries, 10 yards | 8 receptions, 83 yards

Jaret Patterson: 11 carries, 46 yards | 1 target

 

Disturbingly for Antionio Gibson managers, we seem to have entered a three-way timeshare in Washington. Jaret Patterson was in on the game’s opening drive and rotated in as the third option throughout the whole game. For Gibson’s part, he had back-to-back nice touches on the ground and through the air at the end of the first quarter and saw three targets in the passing game despite not playing much, if at all, on third downs. Gibson doesn’t necessarily look injured, but we know he is battling a stress fracture in his shin, which has helped limit his overall usage. Gibson finished the game playing on just 23 of the Football Team’s 70 snaps, the second-most in the backfield.

J.D. McKissic led the way with 32 snaps, and his eight targets, eight receptions, and 83 yards receiving led the team in all categories. He often appeared to be the first read on swing passes and was a major part of the offense as Heinicke checked down repeatedly. He’s a solid PPR option as Washington has few other options, and Heinicke is often unable to get the ball downfield behind his banged-up offensive line. McKissic is a near-zero on the ground, however, so his value is exclusively in PPR and half PPR formats.

For Patterson’s part, he looked like a solid between the tackles runner that took what was given to him but didn’t exactly flash on any plays. He barely converted a 4th and 1 after Gibson was stuffed on 3rd down, and he had a nice cut to get him upfield on a solid run later in the game. This offense isn’t worth stashing a handcuff on, but if Washington ever decides to sit Gibson due to health, Patterson would be an obvious waiver wire add, as he looks like he could handle the volume in a running game.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Terry McLaurin: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards | 1 carry, 12 yards

Ricky Seals-Jones: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Adam Humphries: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 35 yards

DeAndre Carter: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 51 yards, TD

Cam Sims: 1 target, 1 reception, 20 yards

 

Washington tried to get the ball to Terry McLaurin but was unable to get anything going to him downfield. He caught a couple of intermediate passes, but his lone deep ball was thrown out of bounds and was uncatchable. They gave him an end-around and attempted a poorly executed screen pass, but ultimately it wasn’t enough for a good fantasy performance. McLaurin is going to have the potential for down games like this against good defenses, considering the passing game’s overall struggles.

Otherwise, there isn’t much else to see here in the receiving corps. DeAndre Carter did have the second most wide receiver snaps and tied McLaurin in targets, and he scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter. And he saw a deep target early in the game, but it was a poorly thrown ball where he had no chance to make a play. Adam Humphries got wide open on a pick play on 3rd and two for a big game but isn’t a consistent part of the offense.

Ricky Seals-Jones was barely heard from in this one, despite playing every offensive snap and tying McLaurin for the most routes run on the team. Despite the disappointing performance, his role remains unchanged until Logan Thomas returns from injury.

 

Denver Broncos

 

Quarterback

 

Teddy Bridgewater: 19/26, 213 yards, TD, 4 sacks | 1 carry, 1 yard

 

Teddy Bridgewater didn’t look much better than Heinicke despite the win, getting sacked four times and throwing for just over 200 yards. He had a poor early overthrow on a wide-open Noah Fant target, and the pass should have been picked but was miraculously dropped. He did follow that play up with one of his few highlights, a deep sideline throw to Courtland Sutton, but the drive was later derailed by a holding and a sack.

Otherwise, it was a collection of sacks and safe throws for Bridgewater throughout the rest of the game. The Broncos improved to 4-4 on the year, so for as long as they think they are in the playoff hunt they will likely stick with Bridgewater, but it seems to be at the point where turning to Drew Lock may be worth it for some playmaking ability.

 

Running Back

 

Melvin Gordon III: 10 carries, 47 yards, TD, Fumble (Lost) | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards, TD

Javonte Williams: 9 carries, 35 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

 

While both running backs had an equal share of good and bad plays, this backfield remains the same split as always, and on a limited offense, it makes either hard to trust on a weekly basis.

Melvin Gordon scored two touchdowns in this one and looked good throughout. Gordon saw work on the first drive and made positive yardage on the ground most of the day. His receiving score below showed off his pass-catching ability, and he was on the positive side of the backfield timeshare. Gordon had a massive fumble on the final drive as the Broncos were running out the clock, but Washington was unable to score, and his backfield teammate also had a fumble on the final drive, so Gordon is unlikely to find the doghouse as a result.

 

 

For Javonte Williams, it was a typically mediocre fantasy performance. He had a really nice strong run up the middle at the start of the second half breaking multiple tackles, and he seems to have one of these each week. But he was still out-snapped 30-23 by Gordon and saw one fewer opportunity. On an offense as poor as this one, it’s hard for him to have much value on the short end of the snap share. Williams also fumbled before Gordon did on the final drive, though Williams’ was recovered. We are likely awaiting a Gordon injury for a true breakout, and the ceiling might be capped anyway on this mediocre offense.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Courtland Sutton: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 40 yards

Tim Patrick: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 64 yards

Jerry Jeudy: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards | 1 carry

Noah Fant: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards

Albert Okwuegbunam: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards

 

As excited as we were about Jerry Jeudy‘s return, his presence may result in one too many mouths to feed in this offense. Jeudy for his part looked good, and he caught all four of his targets and received a rushing attempt. His first catch came at the start of the second quarter for five yards, and he produced an important 3rd and 8 reception that showed off his excellent route running. We should see Jeudy’s snaps progress in his next game, as his 38 snaps were third among Broncos wide receivers.

 

 

Jeudy’s return was bad news for Courtland Sutton, however, who saw just four targets after being a volume player for much of the year. Sutton’s 31-yard reception down the sideline was one of the few deep balls in the game from Bridgewater, and while he will have better games in shootouts, there may be too much competition for targets in Denver for Sutton to be a consistent fantasy performer.

Tim Patrick led the team in receiving yardage with 64 yards, with most of it coming on a 31-yard reception on a play-action where he crossed the field and made a nice full-extension catch. The broadcast noted that he hasn’t had a drop since 2019, so while Patrick is a steady performer, his fantasy relevance is likely relegated to deep leagues going forward.

More bad news for the Broncos’ fantasy prospects comes from the return of Albert Okwuegbunam from the IR, who managed to chop up the tight end usage and lead to one of Noah Fant‘s worst games of the season. Bridgewater did miss Fant on a play he was wide open, and with as bad as the tight end position is in fantasy, Fant remains a weekly starter. But this was a bad game for Fant, who was left one on one blocking a defensive end and gave up a sack, and later committed a false start penalty.

 

Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

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