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 9 Review: Searching for Hidden Gems
Packers @ 49'ers:
Richie James had a monster day with every other 49'er receiver out. I wouldn't chase him too hard though as Deebo and Aiyuk should be back in a week or two. The Saints aren't likely to let him run free in their secondary either. Don't get me wrong, he's a pretty good player with speed to burn, but he's no hidden superstar. Just another solid contributor forced into action.
Ravens @ Colts:
Not sure how many Colts wide receivers I've covered this year, but I feel like it's a lot. Undrafted rookie De'Michael Harris got some decent usage here and made the most of it. The Colts seemed to have a deliberate plan to get Harris the ball on the edge with speed sweeps and a pitch from a flex receiver spot. You just wish Tyreek could get this kind of treatment in the run game! Harris actually looked like he belongs on the field which is more than I can say for some guys. He's a small fast guy like many others and can be used exactly how he was, screen passes and an occasional tricky running play. He'll probably never get enough touches to be a consistent fantasy player though.
Texans @ Jaguars:
Well I didn't expect to see rookie QB Jake Luton look quite so good. I knew he was ok, but he definitely played at a higher level than I expected. RC really is correct that most rookie QB's these days are being trained and prepared at a much higher level than in the past because many of them are walking into the NFL and making it look easy. Luton was shockingly calm and comfortable. He had a couple of overthrows but nothing egregious. Really played within himself well. Showed a bit more arm strength than I remember from college. It was a fairly simple game plan, but he ran it well and did make some impressive throws to every level of the field. Makes you wonder why teams waste high picks on guys like Darnold. I do think the Texans defense has something to do with his solid showing though. This was an impressive outing considering the circumstances, but don't go thinking we've got a star on our hands here. I still like Minshew better and you see how he fared on this team. Be wary of trying to use him against the Packers or Steelers.
Bears @ Titans:
So Ryan Nall finally got a few touches after the amazing David Montgomery left the game with a concussion. You'd think the Bears could have found a couple of carries for him somewhere along the way seeing as how the Colts can shove some carries to an undrafted WR, the Chargers can give 15 to Kalen freaking Ballage who they just called up from the practice squad, and the Jaguars can turn their entire backfield over to a rookie undrafted free agent. But apparently that's asking too much for the delicate genius Matt Nagy. Anyways, it was hard to draw any conclusions from this game because all of Nall's touches were catches, but it was very obvious that he is much bigger, much faster, and has as good or better hands than Montgomery. Add it all up and I'd say he'll do just fine if given a chance. Now I highly doubt Nagy gives him a decent chance, but Nall might just force his hand. This will start out as a split with Patterson though so don't get your hopes up. Also this Bears offensive line isn't the best. Nall will have his work cut out for him, but he very well might take this job and literally run with it. I'm excited but worried because I don't trust Nagy as far as I can throw him.
Giants @ Washington:
Another rookie had a big game out of nowhere this week. Austin Mack came up with 4 catches for 72 yards and got Giants fans excited. It's so easy to get carried away whenever rookies have big games because there's always the hope that they could turn into stars. It can happen, but I don't think this is one of those times, at least not yet. Most of Mack's damage came on a play where he got lost in coverage. Now he did show some legit speed and he got robbed out of a TD on a short catch and run, but I don't see any reason why he would suddenly start putting up good fantasy numbers. Keep an eye on this as the Giants are starved for playmakers, but I wouldn't add Mack to your roster yet.
Washington had a similar story on their side of the field. Cam Sims has been with the team for a few years and never really done much. He was considered a high upside pick by many analysts because he played for mighty Alabama in college. Is he finally fulfilling that promise? No. Two of his three catches he was literally left wide open in coverage. Don't expect anything more here. Sims is nowhere close to being a starter for this team, and I saw nothing to suggest he should be.
Dolphins @ Cardinals:
Yet another undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed got some decent time with the Dolphins this week. What is it with teams giving these practice squad level players a ton of carries, but a legitimately talented guy like Ryan Nall can't even sniff the field? I'll never understand some of the personnel decisions these coaches make. Ahmed is just another guy, plain and simple. He's small with ok speed, but definitely not a threat to be the next fantasy league winner. If Miami suddenly decides to make him their lead ball carrier over Breida and Howard you can just throw all your Miami stock in the garbage. You could probably already do that because they drafted Tua on purpose and pushed Gaskin as their lead back, but this would be the cherry on top of their cake of stupidity.
Steelers @ Cowboys:
Garrett Gilbert went out and played exactly like RC and I expected. Against a tough Steelers defense he did not embarrass himself. Actually considering how tough this defense is he played very well. Dalton should be back soon though so you can't count on Gilbert for fantasy. Again not a future star, but Gilbert should get a shot as a backup somewhere next offseason.
Saints @ Buccaneers:
I've talked about Trey Hendrickson a couple of times already this year because he's been flashing, but after watching this game I think it's safe to say he is full on arriving as a complete defensive end. Some of his sacks earlier in the year I felt were ok but not super impressive, but he's really becoming a force opposite of Cam Jordan. I saw Hendrickson rushing with speed and power here. The get off on one of his sacks was unreal for a man that size. He isn't just a pass rusher though. He played well against the run too. He even had a sack taken away for a dumb holding penalty by a defensive back on the other side of the field. If you've got him in fantasy hold onto him. He's getting a lot of 1-on-1 blocking because teams are so committed to slowing down Jordan. Those two guys plus a very good Marcus Davenport make for arguably the strongest trio of pass rushers in the league.
Yet another rookie got some action this week. Adam Trautman was actually a 3rd round pick that many analysts swooned over. There were several that actually called him the next Gronkowski so I had to take a look at his first real action. It was hard to draw many conclusions though because most of his yards came on a play where he was left wide open in the flat after blocking and caught a ball from Taysom Hill with nobody near him. His TD catch earlier in the game was actually pretty good though as he made a nice move to cross the defender's face. That matches up with his excellent 3-cone time. I don't think Truatman is likely the next Gronk, but as long as he's working with Sean Payton he could put up good numbers for fantasy in the future. The future isn't here yet though because he is definitely still the 4th TE on this roster. Also he can't block worth a darn for the moment. Check back in a couple years after he's had some time to develop, get stronger, and work on his blocking.
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