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 7 Review: Searching for Hidden Gems
Giants @ Eagles
Rookie Jason Huntley saw his first action of the year here with the Eagles after being cut by the Lions earlier in the year. The Lions selected Huntley in the 5th round out of New Mexico State. He only registered 2 official carries for 13 yards after having a third good carry called back for holding. It's always tough to ascertain a player on so few carries, but I liked what I saw from Huntley in this brief glimpse. Huntley is small but definitely fast with some jitterbug movement skills. At worst he's a useful special teams player and occasional passing game back. At best he could be a dangerous 5 carry, 5-8 catch 3rd down back. There's no way the Eagles would turn to Huntley as a feature back if Boston Scott were to get hurt, but he could find his way to decent ppr touches just by attrition.
Lions @ Falcons
Romeo Okwara registered 2 sacks against the Falcons to bring his yearly total to 4. He's definitely getting good pressure on the QB as evidenced by 10 QB hits the past 4 games, and I have to say he looks pretty darn good on tape. His athleticism is apparent when you watch him drop into coverage and then move forward to make an open-field tackle on a RB in the flats. Not many 6'4” 265lb guys can move like that. One of his sacks here was more on the lucky side as Ryan rolled right into Okwara after he was blocked past the play, but his second sack was very impressive using a swim move to blow past the LT for a sack and forced fumble. Okwara might reach 10 sacks on the year at this pace.
Browns @ Bengals
Lots of fans are wondering if Donovan Peoples-Jones, DPJ, might be an adequate replacement for OBJ, and the answer is “yes, but that's not as impressive as it sounds.” I still don't know what was going on with OBJ, but he clearly isn't the same guy as the megastar we knew from his first few years. The Browns offense instantly was much better the second he got hurt, and I think it's a blessing in disguise for the Browns. OBJ was killing this offense. But back to Peoples-Jones. He's just ok. He was barely a part of the offense even after the OBJ injury, and I see no reason why he would command more touches. His game-winning TD catch was more the product of an amazing Mayfield pass than anything DPJ did. Look elsewhere for fantasy.
Bears @ Rams
I ran across another player I had either forgotten about or never heard of. Johnny Mundt has apparently been in the league for 4 years, but I knew nothing about him before this game. He matched his 2019 season total with 4 catches here. Mundt managed 53 yards on those catches, but there was nothing at all impressive about it. He was simply a guy that the defense wasn't worried about, and he caught a few passes with nobody around him. Nothing to see here.
Steelers @ Titans
Many fans don't really pay attention to the defensive side of the ball, and it's a real shame because under the radar players like Vince Williams never get the credit they deserve. Williams isn't a star and he'll probably never get much recognition outside of Pittsburgh, but he is a fantastic role player for this Steelers defense. Williams doesn't typically rack up big tackle counts, although he got 10 in this game, he doesn't rush the QB often, he doesn't make flashy plays intercepting the ball or crushing ball-carriers in the open field, but what he does do is play the game with intelligence, technique, and physicality. He is nearly always in good position, he fills his gap, stonewalls blockers and RB's alike, and generally disrupts plays in a way that allows his teammates to make plays on the ball. He's not really useful in fantasy, but I always like to point out unselfish, talented guys like this that deserve more recognition than they get.
Packers @ Texans
Who is Krys Barnes and how does he keep racking so many tackles with so little playing time? I'm honestly not sure of either answer. I'm going to make a special note to study this guy in Week 8 because he is doing something pretty amazing right now. It's unheard of for a rookie undrafted free agent linebacker to be making this big of an impact. I thought maybe it was a fluke before rewatching the game, but no, Barnes is out there flying around making plays like an 8 year vet. Grab this guy in IDP leagues if you have the room. If he starts playing 70% of the snaps he could be a league winner. I noted early in the year that Blake Martinez was making the Packers look stupid for letting him go, but now Barnes may make them look smarter than they actually are.
Panthers @ Saints
The easy target from this game was rookie WR Marquez Callaway. Callaway snagged 8 catches for 75 yards on 10 targets, and it was quite possibly the most disappointing 8 catch game I've ever seen. Callaway might get a few stats while Thomas is out, but he's not a star or anything close to it. Every single catch was just him sitting down in a soft zone. I wouldn't waste time on this.
Bills @ Jets
Somehow Neville Hewitt is averaging 8.5 tackles a game which is pretty tasty in IDP leagues, and while you might as well use him if you have him, I have to say this guy is not someone I want on my real football team. The reason nobody knows who he is despite his tackle numbers is because he's completely useless and completely forgettable. He never actually makes a good play on his own. He is the definition of a guy that's late to the play or out of position and just happens to be the closest person to whoever gets the ball in the open field. Most of his tackles are the kind where he pushes the ball-carriers out of bounds as the guy is already running out. All his tackles are empty calories. Hewitt could be the poster-child for this entire Jets team.
Cowboys @ Washington
Good grief Cowboys. Can you not do any better than Ben DiNucci as your 3rd string QB? If this guy starts against the Eagles he is going to get murdered. It might be worse than that time the Bills started Nathan Peterman on purpose. DiNucci has no arm, no ability to read defenses, and shouldn't even be on an actual NFL roster. He might make a fine coach someday, but there is no excuse for him to be on the field. DO NOT pick him up or start him in your fantasy leagues.
Buccaneers @ Raiders
So for this game I picked a player that isn't exactly under the radar, but I was curious to see how he had developed since being picked 5th overall in the 2019 draft. He got 3 sacks here, and that piqued my interest. RC scouted Devin White as a guy with very good athleticism but no feel for the game, a guy that overran plays and just tried to hit people as hard as he could for highlight reels. RC was right on the money. White belongs in the NFL based on his athleticism but there are so many linebackers that play better ball with half the natural gifts White has just because they understand the game better. The best play White made this game he closed on Derek Carr as he stepped up to scramble with such speed that Carr didn't even make it back to the line of scrimmage. His other two sacks came on an unblocked blitz and pushing Carr out of bounds on a scramble before he could get back to the line. It was a completely fluky game from that perspective. He is averaging 8.5 tackles a game which is good for fantasy, but I wouldn't want this game anywhere near a team I was rooting for. He can't cover, his tackling is poor, and the only reason he is racking the numbers he does is because the Tampa Bay front seven is constantly disrupting the play and allowing him to clean up. He is useful in that context, but the second this defense starts to wane in the future White is going to be a real liability.
Chiefs @ Broncos
I thought the Broncos would have trouble generating a pass rush after Von Miller got hurt, but Malik Reed is really helping Denver keep the pressure on opposing QB's. Reed notched 2 sacks here to go along with 2 last week. His playing time doubled starting with the Jets game, and I can see why. He's not a top-tier pass rusher but he is useful. One sack he beat a TE easily and then covered a lot of ground to get to Mahomes. The other one was much less impressive merely grabbing Henne on a rollout. Not sure how high Reed can go this year. I need to see another game or two, but he's definitely on the radar now.
49'ers @ Patriots
Rookie JaMycal Hasty totalled 9 carries for 57 yards and a catch for 16 showing off some explosiveness, shift moves, and surprisingly tough running for a guy his size. Shanahan just seems to have a knack for finding these unheralded, athletic runners, and Hasty is the next in line. Just about any RB could succeed in this system with this terrific offensive line, but Hasty definitely has some upside were he to inherit a large number of carries. He might be in for exactly that this week, but unfortunately it comes at a rough patch of schedule where the 49'ers are facing several good run defenses in the Seahawks, Packers, and Saints. If Hasty gets the bulk of the carries this week it could be good for fantasy, but between the opponent and the uncertainty regarding his role I'd be careful expecting a huge day.
Jaguars @ Chargers
That's two long TD catches for Jalen Guyton so far this year. Those two catches account for over half of his fantasy production, and I'd be very careful assuming he's going to build off of it. His TD catch in this game was a simple fade route against man coverage with no safety help, Herbert threw a perfect pass over Guyton's outside shoulder, and Guyton probably got away with a slight push off to help him separate. He's being used as a deep threat, but he doesn't even really seem that fast, although he might be the fastest receiver on the Chargers roster. He's only getting a target or two a game right now, so unless that starts trending up I don't think he's usable for fantasy.
Seahawks @ Cardinals
Dan Arnold is such an intriguing TE, but he's trapped in this inconsistent offense where apparently nobody can get real targets outside of Hopkins. I'd love to see Arnold get some mismatches down the seam and he probably will one of these days, but there's probably no way to predict when.