Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. He will be switching up the format a little starting in Week 4. Instead of a full report on every game he will be focusing on one or two things from each game that might be flying under the radar.
2020 Week 4 Review: Searching for Hidden Gems
Broncos @ Jets:
-Jets WR Jeff Smith came out of nowhere this week to catch 7 passes on 9 targets for 81 yards. I didn't see anything special with him on the re-watch. Every catch was either a shallow cross or a short curl in zone coverage. Don't think there's anything emerging with him.
-Broncos WR Tim Patrick looked a little better. He was mostly used as a big-bodied blocker, but he did catch a couple short balls and the biggest part of his production came off two deep routes. One was a simple go-route where he got a step on the defender and shielded him away from the ball. The second was a fade route to the sideline and the corner just let him go by like he had safety help over the top. He didn't do anything super impressive, but he's a big target and possibly the best receiver on the roster now that Sutton is hurt. If you're super desperate for WR's he's worth a look.
Chargers @ Buccaneers:
-Rookie Joshua Kelley took over main carry duties after Ekeler went down with an injury and averaged an atrocious 0.8 ypc after looking pretty good in his previous three games. So what happened? Well, the Tampa Bay defense and specifically Lavonte David happened. I went back and watched every single Kelley touch, and there was simply nowhere to run. David was blasting him in the hole literally every carry. Justin Jackson didn't fare much better with a meager 1.5 ypc. I wouldn't expect Kelley to suddenly start averaging 6.0 ypc against lesser defenses, but he'll be just fine. The lesson to be learned is simply this: you're not running the ball on the Buccaneers.
Eagles @ 49'ers:
-Don't be fooled into thinking C.J. Beathard is going to save the 49'ers. He piled up all his stats against soft coverage at the end of the game. Mullen is the better QB, but it likely won't matter as Garoppolo is supposed to be back soon.
Cardinals @ Panthers
-Mike Davis looks fantastic. I'm sure RC has noticed, but I think it still needs to be said. He really looks like one of the 5 best, most athletic RB's in the league right now. And he's averaging 22.6 ppg. The Panthers play the Falcons this week. The Falcons are giving up 34.5 points per game.
Jaguars @ Bengals:
-I love Joe Mixon as a NFL runningback, but if you have him I would sell him right this second. The Jaguars have one of the worst defensive units in the entire league, and the Bengals are about to go on a stretch of playing some very good run defenses. The Ravens, Colts, Browns, Titans, Steelers, Redskins, and Giants are all coming up. 5 of those 7 teams rank in the top 10 for run defenses. The only truly bad unit is the Titans. Mixon was averaging 3.15 ypc coming into this game and had 7 total receptions for 58 yards. He looks as good as ever moving around, but there is going to be nowhere to run again very soon. Burrow is amazing beyond words, but he is not suddenly making this offense into a juggernaut. Sell Mixon.
Browns @ Cowboys:
-Well, Dallas somehow managed to do it again. I really don't believe this team is that bad. They just keep giving their opponent a bunch of free points by fumbling the ball on their own side of the field. They've lost 6 of 7 such fumbles, and that rate is probably unsustainable. There are only two really tough games still on the schedule, the Steelers and Ravens, but with Tyron Smith out for the year I'm not sure things are getting much better. The Cowboys notoriously struggle with Smith out. Still think Dallas can win this division by pure attrition.
-I've been talking for weeks about how good this Cleveland running game is. Now keep in mind a lot of their yardage here came on a couple of OBJ reverses, but still this group is really cranking out the yards. Rookie tackle Jedrick Wills is just blowing people off the ball. And if you've never heard of RB D'Ernest Johnson I suggest you go watch him. He's an Alvin Kamara clone, and I do not say that lightly. I highly doubt Johnson is going to get Kamara's passing game workload, but the Browns really should. Johnson is electric. .
Saints @ Lions:
-Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson is starting to come on a little bit. He's registered a sack in 3 of 4 games this year and had 4 and 5 solo tackles against the Buccaneers and Raiders. The tackle numbers dipped against the Packers and Lions, and that's likely because they run less. The Saints play the Chargers, Panthers, and Bears next. Lots of good sack opportunities.
Vikings @ Texans:
-Finally I have a couple of buy recommendations for fantasy. Buy David Johnson. The Texans have faced a brutal slate of run defenses to start the year, but now they get the Jaguars twice, the Titans, and the Packers in the next 4 weeks.
-If you haven't already traded for Adam Thielen this may be your last chance. I warned last week that he's about to go on a dominant run because of the schedule. Seahawks, Falcons, Packers, Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Panthers, and Jaguars coming up. That's as easy a stretch of pass defenses as you could ask for.
Seahawks @ Dolphins:
-We've seen flashes of David Moore before and he's looked pretty good. He popped for 3 catches, 95 yards, and a TD here. Moore is a nice 3rd receiver, but he's still the #3 guy behind Lockett and Metcalf. Wilson is hyper efficient as always and throwing more than usual, but I still don't think there's enough volume to support Moore consistently. If Metcalf were to go down though I'd snatch up Moore in a heartbeat. He's not as strong as DK, but he can get deep just as well.
Ravens @ Washington:
-Terry McClaurin needs to be mentioned as one of the best WR's in the league. I'm not kidding. He's top 5 for me. McClaurin is averaging 6.5 catches on 10 targets per game for 96 ypg playing with the worst starting QB in the entire league. That's a pace of 104 catches for 1536 yards for the season. He's snatching off-target passes, separating from coverage, and just chewing up yards after the catch at an insane rate. He has only scored 1 TD on the year and so might be flying under the radar for some people in your leagues. If you can sneak him into a multi-player deal it's worth a shot.
Giants @ Rams
-The Packers really should regret letting Blake Martinez walk to the Giants. That guy is a machine making tackles in the middle of the field and boy was he thumping people here. He's averaging 11 tackles a game and has 2 sacks on the season as well.
Packers @ Falcons
-Much like Jeff Smith and Tim Patrick, Olamide Zaccheaus broke out in a big way this week with 8 catches for 86 yards. Should Zaccheaus be picked up immediately and counted on for consistent fantasy stats? Not so much. Zaccheaus was clearly the 4th option in this passing game behind Julio, Ridley, and even Gage. He wasn't even being targeted until after Julio went down with an injury and the Packers were sitting back in soft coverage with a safe lead. Just like Jeff Smith, all of Zaccheaus's catches were curls, slants, and shallow crosses against zone coverage. Nothing to see here.
Bills @ Raiders
-I was curious to see how John Brown looked after his recent calf injury, and it seemed like he was back to normal. He was moving around just fine, and I think the team was trying to not overwork him too soon. Unfortunately news has broken that he may have re-aggravated the injury in practice on Thursday. Once he's healthy I think he's an excellent buy-low candidate. He hasn't had a huge game this year, but he's quietly averaging 4 catches for about 65 yards a game. He could easily put up WR2 numbers this year if he can get healthy.
Colts @ Bears
-This section won't matter a ton for fantasy, but I want to highlight the entire Colts defensive line. Buckner is the star and a player I've been raving about all season, but the other starting DT, Grover Stewart, is a phenomenal run stopper in his own right. Multiple times this game I saw him blow up the line and open a path for Buckner to destroy the ball carrier. On the outside Justin Houston and Denico Autry are an underrated pair of pass rushers that are helping the DT's collapse the pocket just about every play. These guys aren't superstars other than Buckner, but they are all very solid players working well together to suddenly make this Colts defense one of the best in the league. These guys are why they rank so highly this year. Good luck running on the Colts.
Patriots @ Chiefs
-RC has talked a bit about Damiere Byrd this year, but I wanted to take a closer look after he posted 5 catches for 80 yards here, and what I found is that Byrd is without a doubt the starting outside receiver for the Patriots. This isn't a high-volume passing game for sure, but there are numbers to be had here. Now I want to note a couple things here. 1) Byrd is an excellent athlete. He was a legit 4.3 runner coming out of college with a 42” vertical jump and a 6.59 3-cone. 2) His routes looked crisp and efficient and he just missed out on 2 TD's here because the QB's threw a garbage pass when he was open deep. 3) In the 3 games he's started so far he's averaging about 5 catches for 60 yards, and I believe he's getting more comfortable in the offense and more trusted by the QB's. 4) He knows Cam Newton from their time in Carolina. This situation reminds me just a little bit of Brandon Lloyd in 2010. He came out of absolutely nowhere to finish the season as the #1 WR in fantasy with 77 catches for 1448 yards and 11 TD's on a Denver team run by...Josh McDaniels. Now I am not saying that Byrd is about to do what Lloyd did, but I am saying he's useful and should absolutely be picked up especially if you're looking for solid WR's. He might be a bit up and down with Cam at QB, but he's going to bust out some big games too. There is potential here, and if you only take one thing away from me this week I would recommend this one. Go trade for Byrd or pick him up off waivers. He won't cost you much of anything, and the return could be well worth it.