Colts @ Patriots
Final Score: Patriots 26, Colts 3
Senior Writer: Matthew Bevins (@MattBQBList on Twitter)
The Patriots got the opportunity to come back home, hot off a win against the surging Jets. The Patriots spent a month roughly without Mac Jones at quarterback, and that left them with a quarterback controversy that no one expected to see them facing. What else could be expected that just two weeks later, the Patriots are now 2-0, hot off the controversy and with Mac back at the helm. The Colts, on the other hand, can’t seem to stop themselves from circling the drain as they’ve now pulled Matt Ryan from the starters role and thrust Sam Ehlinger into the starting position. Not much has changed, however, and considering that Nick Folk had a larger scoring experience than the Colts, it seems like one-half of this game can put themselves on the “surging up” chart, while the other can put themselves succinctly in the “surging down” side.
Sam Ehlinger: 15/29, 103 yards, 1 INT | 5 carries, 39 yards
The Colts rode Ehlinger out for his second start of the year Sunday, and while there are moments of showcased quality, Ehlinger doesn’t show much on the field that leads you to believe he is ready to start. There is a big arm in the pads, however, there are inaccuracy concerns. Sam couldn’t connect often in this game and was hampered by the lack of Jonathan Taylor targets in most early-season games. Ehlinger took off on the run for five separate rushes totaling just under 40 yards and seems to be a very minimal excitement level of a lot of pocket passers. You can’t fault the Colts, looking to see what they have while clearly not in contention, but there’s truly not much that jumps out of Sam’s portfolio, as he overthrew a lot of his squad, and couldn’t make efficient or quick reads, allowing himself to be chewed up by defensive extraordinaire, Matthew Judon. The pick at the end of the game was slightly a misnomer, as it was a low deflection that ended up turned off as an amazing pick play on a ball that would normally skip like a stone that instead landed in Jonathan Jones’s hands. Ehlinger will likely get the rest of the season to start, as this team attempts to find it’s identity, however, there isn’t much for fantasy service here, even in bye/off matchups for star quarterbacks. Let him marinade on your waiver wire.
Deon Jackson: 11 carries, 23 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
Jordan Wilkins: 3 carries, 13 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 15 yards
Phillip Lindsay: 1 carry, 2 yards | 1 target
The running game for the Colts didn’t save face much either, as a few weeks ago dynamo Deon Jackson wasn’t able to save face, partly due to lack of rushing room, while also partly due to loaded boxes against an inexperienced quarterback. Judon & co haunted the Colts in the backfield most of the game, negating any opportunity that was given to Jackson. Jackson is clearly the second-best rusher left in Indy, with Nyheim Hines shipped up to Buffalo. Zack Moss may end up getting some run on this team in the near future, as Jonathan Taylor looks unable to put away the “lost season” moniker, and Jackson hasn’t fully released himself from the grips of a committee, but there’s clearly some talent there from Deon Jackson. It’s unfortunate that Jackson couldn’t do much with the opportunity today, but it’s also very likely that Deon Jackson would face loaded boxes and stacked rushing attacks due to the low bar of experience/talent that Ehlinger is currently showing. Ehlinger has the look of a pro quarterback in the pocket, but there’s not a lot of pass-leading, not much worry of deep threat passing, and the Judon sacks came against line movement that looked overcome at every angle. Jackson experienced nearly 75 percent of the carries, so it’s very clearly he is there choice when Jonathan Taylor isn’t on the field, but even then, there’s not much talent to be found on this team, and the weapons that are there may just be swarmed. The ghost of Jordan Wilkins haunted this field, and Phillip Lindsay not to be outdone also stepped out of the grave. Spooky!
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Alec Pierce: 2 targets, 1 reception, 23 yards
Michael Pittman: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards
Parris Campbell: 5 targets. 2 receptions, 15 yards | 1 carry, 1 yard
Mo-Alie Cox: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
Jelani Woods: 3 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards
Kylen Granson: 1 target, 0 receptions
How quickly the regret sinks in. Michael Pittman was the darling of the ball, and now we all just want him to get the damn ball. The target leader in the passing game (not a super high bar, or a super high excitement point either), Pittman saw himself only able to break clear of the defense for a mere 22 yards. Ehlinger attempted under 30 passes, and their drives spent almost every moment prepping to get into punt formation. Alec Pierce has some talent (I watched this team last week, there’s definitely some opportunity talent here, but they don’t have a dominant quarterback to get it there), but was hampered and unable to break off for any deep burns on his new role as deep route aficionado. Parris Campbell had just started to find his way as de-facto Colts Curtis Samuel, a gadget guy who was able to break through on backfield routes, however, he was also hardly a factor. The offense that wasn’t named Ehlinger is hardly at fault in this game, so you could chalk it up as a mistake game, but the fact of the matter is that’s also something we need to look at for the remainder of the season. Pittman is unable to get anywhere outside of the 10-yard chain opportunities plays, as the ball was either quickly out of the backfield due to pass rushing, or under/overthrown on short check-off routes.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones: 20/30, 147 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, -2 yards
Mac Jones has clearly made the point that he needs to remain the quarterback in New England, and while the box score arrives at underneath 150 yards, and is his second straight week of not producing over 200 yards, there is clearly some reason to believe things are starting to click in New England. Jones had showings of over 200 yards up until the foot injury started to spring up at the end of September. This team has gone through some change, looking at Bailey Zappe behind the center and showcasing himself, but Mac Jones has settled in as that middle-tier quarterback who likely won’t lose you any games. The team has realized the target role that may need to soak up passes has turned to Rhamondre Stevenson, and Damien Harris going onto a free agency contract in the offseason may just find this team looking for what their offense is centered around. The Patriots have always thrived in finding ways to make their quarterback “succeed based on what they do best”. Mac Jones is starting to thrive as he targets Stevenson and Jakobi Meyers and this could help vault the season value of Rhamondre to a top 10 fantasy rusher, and Meyers may just not look back from being a top 20 points-per-reception wide out. Jones couldn’t finish any of his drives up for touchdowns, aside from a wonderful pass reception made with one hand by Rhamondre Stevenson, but hopefully, as the weeks go by, the dust will be wiped off.
Rhamondre Stevenson: 15 carries, 60 yards | 7 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD
J.J. Taylor: 10 carries, 9 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards
It’s Rha Monster Season’son, to you. Rhamondre is finding himself taking away the starter’s role right in front of the very eyes of the very injured Damien Harris. Rhamondre has burst, he has a boom, and he has hands made of feathers (thank you to James White for his tutelage in helping to show Rhamondre just how to become a better pass-catching running back.) Stevenson is finding himself on the opportunity side of running back, in a sweet spot where he can both catch passes if the need arises and also given the brutish rushes needed on goal-line work. J.J. Taylor picked up ten carries, but they seemed mostly used to spell Rhamondre as they used him on all other carries, and Taylor couldn’t do anything other than average a yard per rush on a team he used to see the field as a late scratch back prior. Rhamondre continues to get better as a receiver, and his ability to start catching passes has started to bloom his value. An amazing player to watch as well as root for.
Rhamondre RB1 SZN continues🚀
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 6, 2022
Jakobi Meyers: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 42 yards | 1 carry, 2 yards
Hunter Henry: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards
Jonnu Smith: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 21 yards
Kendrick Bourne: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards | 1 carry, 1 yard
Tyquan Thornton: 4 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards
There is not much change here in New England. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. The team has found that the key to receiving core is Jakobi Meyers, and so we’re continuing to see that happen. There were some signs weeks ago that Tyquan Thornton coming back from a preseason injury may cause the end of Jakobi’s reign as their number-one guy, but that belief has since been disarmed. Meyers makes himself available often, can and will catch passes in the middle of swamped/high-traffic coverage, and hardly ever loses a ball that is catchable. Meyers, while being undervalued time and time again has a ProFootballFocus wide receiver rating value of 14th overall, and continues to show up with his mop and bucket to do the dirty janitor work. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry have found their shadows and will show up now for a small portion of targets, but this wide receivers crew seems to go in lockstep with Jakobi and his sure-handedness, and Kendrick Bourne.
-Matt Bevins (TheLongSpring on Reddit/MattBQBList on Twitter)