This new season-long mini-series is brought to you by the RotoUnderworld Game Analyst Team. The Game Analyst Team consists of over 75 individuals that chart and re-watch every snap from every game in the NFL between game end, and Monday afternoon. The guys you have generally not heard from before stop in to drop some tidbits from their weekly game charting process in hopes to give us a sneak peek into the depth of the games each Sunday. As the Head Game Analyst – I charted for two years and this idea was always in the back of my mind. People always share the broken-down, clean, processed reviews of games in the NFL. That’s not what this is. I asked everyone to gives me some Notes or Takeaways from their game this past week, and below are the raw responses I received.
Jacksonville was able to defeat the Dolphins this week with a combination of faith in Trevor Lawrence and a defensive success that looked like a murky balance between effective execution and an overly conservative approach on offense by Miami.
Much like the Patriots, Jacksonville consistently deploys additional blockers to bolster an offensive line that is far from a world-beater with a plan that is not necessarily more complex than allowing their talented QB time and space to work even at the expense of limited options down the field. This was enough as the Dolphins did lead most of the time, but had a game plan that appeared more suited toward Jacoby Brissett, a talented backup. This meant Tua did not spend a great deal of time outside of the pocket extending plays and utilizing mobility to compensate for offensive line weaknesses. Instead it meant a short passing game that limited upside and limited risk. This could be a dynamic limitation of injury return concerns making a more dynamic gameplan impossible as Tua was coming off of IR and was questionable until gameday.
Marvin Jones and James Robinson are the significant skill players this week.
Trevor Lawrence is talented enough to have an effective progression and identify good opportunities. This is good as Marvin Jones was able to capitalize on good matchups. But I did not get the impression Trevor honed in on him particularly. Jamal Agnew and Laviska Shenault had similar performances and did not appear to make any major blunders. For fantasy, as long as any of these players can consistently get open, we can expect production. But take cornerbacks and matchups seriously since none of these receivers demonstrate transcendent talent. In the backfield, the good news is Carlos Hyde was a virtual nonentity, only blocking a handful of times with James Robinson getting all the touches.
Jacksonville, at this moment at least, seems to know what they are. And in this game, they attempted to make the most of it. There are clear deficiencies. Big personnel groupings to keep a QB safe does detract from the complications a team can present a defense, and this team is horrible against more robust offenses. But they kept it together to win this week. And next week, they get a Geno Smith-led Seahawks team. Which means there is a significant possibility of a Jacksonville winning streak this year. – Robert Oberlander
LA Chargers vs Baltimore
Front 7 of BAL defense played very well; didn’t allow run game to get going and got pressure on Justin Herbert as well when needed. Disguised coverages very well and would often crowd the box/line of scrimmage with defenders pre-snap. Chargers in general looked like they were playing in quicksand; Herbert and company tried some short passes and screens to get around the pass-rush. But a few drops and a few wayward throws later and they find themselves in a big deficit early. With the LAC defense unable to stop the BAL running game, the Chargers amassed 21:53 total time of possession (compared to the 38:07 the Ravens had).
Chargers converted only one of their four 4th-down attempts; resulting in more than one drive giving Baltimore a great field position in Charger territory.
Jared Cook and Donald Parham both consume a few targets each game; Cook has the edge as far as big-play/red-zone viability, but I wouldn’t turn away from Parham in a dynasty format. The Chargers staff obviously likes Parham being out there (he starts first of all) and will line him up on the line more than they will with Cook. The leak-out touchdown at the goal-line that Cook caught, I actually thought would be a perfect Parham play call.
Austin Ekeler is still the stud to own; however, Joshua Kelley is getting ramped up more and I’d definitely favor him as the handcuff to own in this backfield. Justin Jackson is being phased out in favor of Kelley.
Overall, it was a bad day at the office for LAC. Chalk it up to the east coast travel/early kick-off, I guess. – Austin Link
The final score is not deceiving. The Colts started slow, but simply overmatched the Texans. This game was death by “1,000 cuts” for the Texans, with a few gut punches sewn in. The Colts managed three big plays in this game, and turned over the Texans on several different occasions for the perfect remedy to last week’s heartbreaker in Baltimore. Jonathan Taylor did Jonathan Taylor things and the Colts rarely had to throw the ball, especially in the second half.
Nyheim Hines will be fine and they get Quenton Nelson back soon. Marlon Mack got most of his carries in the second half probably as more of an audition prior to the trade deadline. I wouldn’t be worried about Michael Pittman, who wasn’t needed today. T.Y. Hilton had an efficient game and seemed to be on a snap count coming back from injury. Poor Parris Campbell. He got the Carpentier chef’s kiss and now looks to be out for the season. We’re one Jack Doyle lacerated internal organ away from MAC SZN. – Ryan Moloney
The Chargers not only rank last in the league in rushing defense coming into their matchup with the Ravens. They also lead the league in playing Light Fronts. Obviously, a big mismatch both statistically and philosophically. Throughout the opening drive, the Chargers played off coverage with their corners allowing soft cushion. Not to mention their light fronts. Baltimore was free to march down the field from the opening gun, and this continued throughout the first half. LA tightened up a bit in the second half, playing more base and stacked fronts, but their DBs still played off coverage for the majority of the day.
Lamar Jackson did not need his superpowers in this one. Baltimore leaned on their running game all day and the Chargers never threatened offensively. That said, Lamar did miss a few throws to receivers that were running open. If there is any takeaway from this game, it could be a buy-low opportunity on Lamar if there ever is one.
Mark Andrews is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. This is not news. What is news is that I can make an easy argument that Andrews is just as valuable as any tight end in the league not named Travis Kelce. Andrews ran the most slot routes for the Ravens on the day and led the team with 8 targets. With 5:15 left the third quarter, Lamar missed him running open towards the pylon for what should have been an easy 21-yard touchdown strike. He looked like the best player on the field all day. Andrews is a buy high.
The box score was light for Marquise Brown today, but he didn’t do himself any favors.
On the ensuing play after Lamar’s misfire to Andrews, he hit Hollywood in the same spot on the field, right in the hands with a perfect pass. Brown botched yet another touchdown catch as his issues with drops this season continued. He still led the team in snaps and routes run and is a must-start moving forward.
I must say that I came into this game expecting Devonta Freeman to look like a JAG. But Freeman is in the perfect spot at this stage in his career. He got the most run on the first series of the ballgame and his vision is evident. His veteran presence and patience allowed him to find creases up the middle for solid yardage and he was able to bounce the rock outside for chunk plays. We see this on a play designed to run off right tackle with 8:32 remaining in the opening quarter. Freeman sees what is developing in front of him and bounces to the outside off the right end and picks up 16 yards. Make no mistake about it. This is not prime ATL Devonta, but this system and personnel produce a really nice opportunity for him to succeed.
If Latavius Murray misses any amount of time with a leg injury sustained with 2:24 left in the third quarter, Freeman will be an instant high-end RB3 with upside, depending on the matchup. With five RB1s on a bye in Week 7, and six total backs including Zack Moss, Freeman could be startable next week regardless of Murray’s health.
When comparing Murray to Freeman, there is little doubt that Murray has the better first step burst and more straight-line speed than his backfield mate. On his first-quarter 14-yard touchdown run, Murray runs untouched through the line and into the end zone without any defender laying a finger on him. Freeman does not have the speed to make the same run. Again, this came with the Chargers lining up with a light front on their own 14-yard line, while the Ravens put Patrick Ricard and Mark Andrews in-line on the right side. Considering Brandon Staley is a rising star in the coaching ranks with a defensive mind, someone needs to explain this strategy to me.
Start any running back you own against the Chargers for the rest of the season. Hell, unless they make some personnel changes on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, start your running backs against these guys in perpetuity.
Rashod Bateman did not have many opportunities in his season debut, but his polish is evident, especially for a rookie receiver. He was able to beat zone coverage on multiple catches beyond the first down marker and convert first downs consistently. He looks incredibly smooth at the top of routes. The Game Script kept Bateman out of the box score in this one, but he will make an impact in this Ravens offense in due time. He was the preferred receiver in two-wide sets, alongside Hollywood Brown, and had the second-highest snap share on the team. He should be owned in most formats. – Teddy Roth
Dallas vs New England
Both QBs looked relatively good under pressure. Mac Jones continues to look like a true stud, minus his costly interception late in the game. Jakobi Meyers is the best WR in New England, and it’s not close. He should have a receiving TD after this game, but it was called back. Nelson Agholor is a scrub. Damien Harris looked great running the ball when he could get on the field. As far as Dallas goes, I know there is a lot of weapons, but Dalton Schultz feels like he has earned Dak Prescott‘s trust and could be reliable every week even with the presence of Blake Jarwin. I know none of this is news, but just what I saw from the game. – Josh Frazin
Both of Jaylen Waddle‘s touchdowns came on plays designed for him in the red zone. In the first play, he was the only one who ran a route. He was the first and only read on a slant. His second touchdown came out of being motioned into the backfield, then running a route into the flat. He is clearly a trusted weapon of Tua Tagovailoa‘s in the red zone and they showed great chemistry.
A lot of plays for Tua were very defined. The reads were quick for easy completions and the ball was placed accurately. Waddle played the role of a possession receiver, while Mike Gesicki frequently gashed Jacksonville out of the seam. As always, he was utilized as a big slot receiver and should be thought of as a WR in your TE slot.
Salvon Ahmed didn’t begin eating into Myles Gaskin‘s snap percentage until he fumbled near the end of the first quarter. Ahmed immediately saw the field after that and the ugly three-headed rotation continued for the duration of the game. Gaskin didn’t do himself any favors though. He juggled a few well-placed passes and was overall ineffective, with 2 receptions for 5 yards on 6 targets. Yikes.
Miami’s complete inability to run the ball makes the offense solely reliant on the pass to pick up any positive yardage. Only a single run on the day went for more than 10 yards. Drives in the second half completely stalled out due to this reliance on the pass and it makes the offense as a whole inconsistent. Expect more games with large passing attempt totals from Tua going forward. – Brett Hewling
Najee Harris has already emerged as the workhorse of this offense and their most talented player. Diontae Johnson dominated targets again and could have had a bigger game if Ben Roethlisberger connected on a few deep shots.
Ben and Chase Claypool were out of sync all night. Sorry to see that after last week’s good performance. I do think he’ll have some big games ahead. They barely used him in the slot and that’s where he’s made defenses pay. James Washington barely saw any snaps and Ray-Ray McCloud took the majority of slot snaps.
Watch for Pat Freiermuth to take an even bigger slice of this offense. He looks to be Ben’s new security blanket now with JuJu Smith-Schuster gone. He catches everything thrown his way and Ben has said that he needs to start getting him more involved – Mark Munnell
Miami vs Jacksonville
Tua Tagovailoa was hot and cold in his return from the IR. He made a few really nice throws under pressure and has no trouble finding the open receiver when in a stable pocket. He threw one really beautiful back-shoulder pass to Mack Hollins for 23 yards in the third quarter but the play was negated by a penalty.
Still, he is making too many mistakes that the rookie on the other side of the field is not making. On one play, he throws the ball away when he had both a man open past the sticks and also plenty of running room for a first on third and two. Not sure what happened on that play.
His one turnover was a pretty egregious-looking interception. There was no pressure and the receiver was wide open by eight yards, but Tua did not put enough air under the pass and the defender was gifted an effortless pick. Could have also been a miscommunication on the route but it is hard to excuse it when the target was so open.
One more note, Miami is fully rotating their backfield in a three-man platoon. Completely useless for reliable fantasy production.
Trevor Lawrence looks more comfortable every week. It was refreshing to see him trust his X-receiver in Marvin Jones and give him a couple of back shoulder/jump balls that really paid off. The rising confidence combined with his mobility makes him a very useable bye week fill-in or second QB in SuperFlex leagues.
Houston vs Indianapolis
Davis Mills appears to be an up-and-coming NFL fantasy starter. A former five-star prospect demonstrated patience and the ability to make “money throws.” Unfortunately, Mills also has growing to do. His two interceptions represent his difficulties. He shows patience and a strong arm with the ability to escape the pocket. Mills makes good throws on bootlegs. – Mike Valverde
Kansas City vs Washington
Patrick Mahomes continues to look like a god, completing a handful of Money Throws in this one. The only way it appears you can beat him is if his pass-catchers drop the ball. The Washington Football Team should be excited about Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s return, even if all he ends up being is a slightly less-mobile version of Taylor Heinicke.
Kansas City – Another tough one to watch for almost three full quarters. They were bad in all phases for two thirds of the game. KC continues to find it difficult to erase bad mistakes unlike years past. More struggles on the horizon I’m afraid.
Major snap increase for Rookie TE Noah Gray. Played Blake Bell‘s role in his absence. The unfortunate loss of Jody Fortson for the year will further increase his role. Didn’t seem to be completely outclassed in run or pass blocking in this game.
Now the really frustrating part:
Darrel Williams: 21 carries plus 3 receptions on 4 targets with 2 TDs; was an RB1 on the week.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has seen 20-plus opportunities four times so far in his career, all last year as a rookie. Hope rapidly dwindling for CEH’s long term outlook. The volume will be a problem with three healthy RBs on the active roster.
Also, Mahomes is having ‘a down year:’ 314.5 YPG = over 5,300 passing yards, 3.167 TD/G (including rushing) = over 53 total TDs, 7.08 YPC = 521.55 yards at 4.33 ATT/G, 1.33 INT/G = 22.66 INTs (I’d take the under) – Josh Moore
The Bills were in the driver seat for the No. 1 seed for all of eight days. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary seem to be right back in that meddling 50/50 timeshare, only useful when they reach pay-dirt. Although Singletary had better stats, it was Moss who was on the field for nearly 100-percent of the two-minute drill/no-huddle plays. With Singletary in a negative Game Script and Moss in positive, avoid this backfield unless you can certainly project a one-sided game.
Stefon Diggs‘ buy-low window has slammed shut if it was even open, to begin with. Exploiting zone coverages whenever they got the chance, the Titans opted for mostly man coverage. Bad choice. Unless Diggs is double covered like a punt gunner, he can create separation at will and fits for the opposing team. – Jon Adams
Another week of the NFL season flies by. Attending the Carolina Panthers vs Minnesota Vikings game was the highlight of my weekend and I think would have been my favorite game to watch regardless. We are through six weeks in the NFL season, and currently looking at 3 three-win teams in the playoffs and multiple under .500 that are very much in the hunt. The 18th week and the seventh playoff team will surely make this one interesting heading into the middle six of the season. Have a great week.