The New England Patriots squared off against the New York Jets in a must-win game for their playoff hopes. Despite a sluggish start, the Patriots won on a last-second field goal from Nick Folk. At 3-5, New England can still make the playoffs if they end the year with a number of key victories. The winless Jets found success in a different way on Monday night by drastically increasing their odds of securing the first overall pick.
Cam Newton Comes to Life
After returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list, Newton looked completely lost for a stretch of three weeks. From Week 6 onward, Newton threw five interceptions, did not score on a pass, and was benched for Jarrett Stidham at one point. Just as the Newton experiment appeared to be over, he came back from the dead with 274 yards through the air to go along with two rushing touchdowns on Monday night. He averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, his highest mark since Week 2. Newton wasn't perfect and all of his stats come with the caveat that he faced the Jets. It was still his most promising night in over a month.
With Julian Edelman (knee) and N'Keal Harry (concussion) both sidelined, Jakobi Meyers stepped up in a major way. He caught 12-of-14 targets for 169 yards, ultimately carrying the entire New England offense to victory along with Newton's goal line prowess. Meyers has established himself as the superior receiver to Damiere Byrd, who only brought down five of his nine targets for 65 yards. Meyers was so dominant that he will likely keep Harry on the bench even when Harry is healthy.
After ceding 27 points to the Jets, it's clear that the New England defense is a shell of its 2019 form. They were without Stephon Gilmore on Monday Night and his eventual return will help but it won't patch over all of their holes. One of their biggest weaknesses has been an inability to generate pressure. New England entered the night 25th in sacks per game and only brought Joe Flacco down once.
The Best of Both Worlds
The Jets looked like a competent NFL team in this game but ultimately choked away a 10-point lead. That means they have some talent to build upon for 2021 but are still the clear favorite to get Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the draft next year. Their biggest source of talent comes from the receiving room. Breshad Perriman posted his best day as a Jet with 101 yards and two scores. Perriman is currently playing on a one-year deal but the Jets can afford to keep him around beyond this season. He has topped 100 yards in four of his previous eight games dating back to his time in Tampa Bay. He did not reach that mark in a game even once in three and a half seasons before the end of last year. Jamison Crowder made the most of his two targets with 26 yards and a toe-dragging touchdown reception just before halftime. Denzel Mims led the team in targets and posted a career-high mark of 62 receiving yards. He was a monstrous athlete coming out of college and is making an impact early in his career. This trio could quietly be an above-average unit with a new passer next year.
Flacco posted his first game of over 220 yards in over a year and averaged 10.5 yards per attempt. He scored three times, all from at least 15 yards away from the end zone. His impressive night throwing deep was overshadowed by a costly interception on a greedy deep attempt in the fourth quarter. Flacco looked like a high-floor backup and could stick with the team as a mentor to New York's next quarterback.
Fantasy Slant: Meyers and Perriman need to be picked up in all leagues. Meyers is the priority of the two but Perriman could have some deep FLEX appeal moving forward as well. Meyers should even be able to hold onto a fantasy-relevant role once his fellow New England receivers get healthy. Damien Harris exited with a chest injury in the second half. Sony Michel (quad) returned to practice Thursday and topped 100 rushing yards in the last game he played. Many fantasy teams have been ravaged by running back injuries this year and Michel could take on a significant between-the-tackles role if Harris is sidelined in the coming weeks. Michel is worth at least a roster spot at this point. Rex Burkhead logged 12 carries and scored once versus the Jets. If neither Michel nor Harris are healthy for Week 10, Burkhead would have RB2 value.
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Christian McCaffrey suffered a shoulder injury that has his status at "day-to-day." The news is less than ideal for McCaffrey's fantasy backers but it also means he avoided a second serious injury. Mike Davis could reclaim McCaffrey's role in Week 10.
David Montgomery entered concussion protocol but does get an extra day of rest with the Bears drawing a Monday night matchup versus Minnesota next week. Cordarrelle Patterson and Ryan Nall would likely split his role. Nall is the more traditional runner and would be the preferred pickup of the two. The Chicago rushing attack has been horrid under Montgomery and doesn't project to be any better moving forward. Nall would only be a desperation play if Montgomery is out next week.
Jake Luton will start under center for Jacksonville next week. Luton topped 300 passing yards in his first NFL start and propelled D.J. Chark 146 yards and a touchdown in Week 9. He's a worthwhile streaming option in 2QB and Superflex leagues versus the Packers.