And I thought last week was wacko. Baker Mayfield carpet-bombed Tennessee, Davante Adams continued to torch anyone across from him, and the Patriots blanked Justin Herbert 40-something to nothing. Take a bow, Anthony Lynn. We also saw Taysom Hill become a man, Cam Akers continue to push for RB1 usage, and Jalen Hurts relegate Carson Wentz to the bench. Praises. Let’s break down all the action through PlayerProfiler.com’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics.
Lesson One: Taysom Hill “Outduels” Matt Ryan
Taysom Hill is evolving. Sean Payton continues to get over on everybody with his love of Hill, and his project looked more like a quarterback this time around than ever before. Hill went 27-for-37 for 232 yards and two scores on the day, adding 83 yards on the ground with a long carry of 43 yards.
Taysom Hill reached a top speed of 20.43 MPH on this 43-yard run, his fastest speed as a ball-carrier this season and the 6th-fastest speed reached by a QB in 2020.#NOvsATL | #Saints pic.twitter.com/Jo4BLcYiDB
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 6, 2020
Hill locked on to Michael Thomas, who saw 11 targets as opposed to six for Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith, though it was the latter who caught one of Hill’s scores, the other being reeled in by Jared Cook. Thomas has had a bit more success in the Hill-led offense than Alvin Kamara, who was able to finally squeak out a usable fantasy line with 88 yards and a score on the ground.
Matt Ryan got Julio Jones in this game, but that couldn’t save him. The Saints defense proved too much and Ryan completed a mere 19 of his 39 attempts for 273 mostly empty yards and a touchdown to Russell Gage. Both Jones (6-94) and Calvin Ridley (5-108) got there for fantasy players, but it wasn’t the shootout most would’ve expected with the Falcons lacking any form of running game.
Action: Hill is playable in all formats until Drew Brees returns, and he remains a viable punt play in DFS. His floor is as high as any QB2-type out there with numerous weapons to keep him afloat and he has improved each week. What a world.
Lesson Two: Baker Mayfield Immolates Titans
The highest-total game on the slate didn’t disappoint, but the vertical assault came from Baker Mayfield and not Ryan Tannehill. The first half doozy the Titans enacted on the Colts last week was essentially delivered right back to them by the Browns this week, with Mayfield shredding Tennessee’s back-end with four touchdown passes in the first half hour of play.
Baker Mayfield has been nearly perfect in the first half today. Key to his success, Mayfield has been under pressure on only 1 pass attempt.
Mayfield with no pressure: 20/24, 290 yards, 4 TD, 156.6 passer rating, +14.3% Comp Pct Over Expected, +28.8 EPA#CLEvsTEN | #Browns pic.twitter.com/34xbNqAGWU
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 6, 2020
Mayfield continued to pepper Jarvis Landry, who has seen 39 targets since Odell Beckham went down in Week 7. Landry responded with eight grabs for 62 yards and a score. The Browns QB also hit deep shots to Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones, as well as a lob to offensive lineman Kendall Lamm on a fake near the goal line. It was one of the best games of Mayfield’s career, in a season that’s now found the Browns cruising for a wildcard berth with the Ravens sputtering.
The potency of Cleveland’s running game (which has looked more like Nick Chubb as the 1A and Kareem Hunt as the 3C since the former’s return), and Mayfield’s performance, kept the team afloat in the three-week stretch where he threw zero touchdown passes. But a tune up against Jacksonville last week and this week’s smash show have the Browns looking like actual contenders.
Action: The Browns rematch with the Ravens next week in primetime (COVID-willing, of course). In Week 1, the Ravens crushed them 38-6. Expect Baker to keep the Browns upright this time, and stacking him with one of his underpriced receivers such as Higgins or Peoples-Jones will be a GPP-friendly strategy.
Lesson Three: New Look Texans Offense Shows Some Life
The Will Fuller-less Texans fell to the Colts on Sunday, but the real question was how Deshaun Watson would fare in his first game out without his top target. Keke Coutee paid off in a big way as a waiver pick-up, collecting eight of nine targets for 141 yards. The lightweight burner offered the Texans a spark with a big 64-yard reception in the first quarter, and Watson continued to go to him. Brandin Cooks was a focus of the Colts defense, being held to five catches for 65 yards on eight looks.
The surprise contributor here wasn’t surprise healthy scratch Isaiah Coulter, but Chad Hansen, a 25-year old Cal product with very little tread on the tires. Cooks and Coutee can still be counted on as the two best bets in this offense, especially with Darren Fells going untargeted and Jordan Akins catching just two of three targets for 10 yards on a day Watson dropped back 38 times.
Action: Watson is still a top tier QB with ceiling, and matchups against the Bears, Colts again, and Bengals in the fantasy playoffs have him as a top-5 QB for the stretch. Stacking him with his receivers will continue to be a high-upside strategy in DFS.
Lesson Four: Cam Akers Continues to Gain Ground
It’s been a week-by-week process, but Cam Akers is making a case to break the committee approach in Los Angeles and see more of a workload. The Florida State rookie’s Snap Share has been all over the place this season, but his 21 carries on Sunday to Darrell Henderson‘s three and Malcolm Brown‘s three was a huge step in the right direction. Henderson ripped a 38-yard score on one of his carries, of course, but Akers was the lead dog throughout a competitive game.
week 13 rb opportunity shares:
jonathan taylor: 50%
cam akers: 69% pic.twitter.com/00DNZN5mLx
— the podfather (@Fantasy_Mansion) December 7, 2020
Akers went 84 yards on his nine carries last week while Henderson mustered only 19 yards on his 10 carries. He has proven he’s the most athletic player in the backfield, and his receiving background (23 and 30 catches his final seasons in college, respectively) remains untapped. It will likely take one of the ancillary pieces leaving LA for Akers to fully establish himself, but he’s certainly trending up headed into the fantasy playoffs.
Action: Akers will be pretty hands-off against a ferocious Patriots defense that just blanked the Chargers, but he needs to be started against the Jets and Seahawks in the final weeks of the season.
Lesson Five: Jalen Hurts Sits Carson Wentz Down
Carson Wentz has been mostly awful this season, and the team had seen enough down 23-3 against the Packers. Jalen Hurts came in for the ineffective starter and immediately connected with Greg Ward for a 32-yard score on 4th and 18. Jalen Reagor then housed a punt return and the Eagles had life before Aaron Jones coffined them on a 77-yard score.
Check out Jalen Hurts on PlayerProfiler’s New DYNASTY DELUXE Rankings:
The QB controversy is on. Doug Pederson has yet to let on who will start in Week 14, but Hurts straight up gives the team a better chance to win. Factor in his rushing floor and he immediately lifts the floor and ceiling of the offense.
Action: Hurts will be an eye-emoji level GPP play against the Saints defense next week if he does indeed draw the start. His rushing upside and his ability to process the offense much faster than Wentz gives him some tools to get loose, especially if he gets more first-team rapport with his squad this week.