New England Patriots (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at New York Jets (0-1, 0-1), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Patriots 24.25, Jets 18.25
Spread/Total Movements: 3.5 to 6, 43.5 to 42.5
Weather: 80 degrees, no rain, 5 mph
Patriots Injuries to Watch: LT Trent Brown (calf, questionable), TE Jonnu Smith (hip, questionable), LB Kyle Van Noy (throat, out), K Quinn Nordin (abdomen, out)
Jets Injuries to Watch: LT Mekhi Becton (knee, out), S Lamarcus Joyner (tricep, IR), LB Jamien Sherwod (ankle, questionable), WR Keelan Cole (knee, questionable), WR Jamison Crowder (groin, questionable)
Brolley’s Patriots Stats and Trends
The Patriots are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings in this series.
New England is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games as a favorite, and the Pats are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
The Patriots are 8-1 toward unders in their last nine games.
Mac Jones looked the part in his professional debut against a tough Dolphins defense. He completed 28/39 passes for 281 yards (7.2 YPA) with his lone touchdown coming on a seven-yard pass to Nelson Agholor. Jones did a good job of spreading the ball around with seven different receivers seeing three or more targets. Sam Darnold posted 279/1 passing and he added a short rushing TD to finish with 20.1 FP in this matchup last week.
Jakobi Meyers saw a promising 24% target share with nine targets last week, but he managed just 6/44 receiving with his aDOT sitting at just 6.4 yards. He gets a much easier matchup this week against a Jets’ secondary he posted 18/237 receiving against last season.
Nelson Agholor had a relatively quiet August, but he showed he’s going to be an active piece of New England’s passing attack in Week 1. He finished with a team-best 5/72/1 receiving on seven targets (18% share) against the Dolphins, scoring on a seven-yard pass. Robby Anderson got loose for a 57-yard touchdown against this secondary last week.
Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry saw a pretty even split in their first action together and this has the looks of an ugly committee going forward. Jonnu caught all five of his targets (13% share) for 42 yards on just 19 routes (48% of dropbacks) while Henry caught all three of his looks (8%) for 31 yards on only 23 routes (58%). The Jets weren’t tested by the Panthers TEs last week but the Jets did give up a position-high 17.8 FPG last season.
Damien Harris coughed up a potential victory for the Patriots in their season opener with his fumble inside the 10-yard line with under four minutes remaining in the game. His miscue put a major damper on his strong overall performance as the team’s clear top back. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled on his second NFL touch and he never saw another snap with Harris handling 77% of the team carries on his way to 23/100 rushing (4.3 YPC) and 2/17 receiving on three targets. Stevenson should get more opportunities in the future unless his fumbling becomes a major issue, but Harris looks locked into a massive role as the team’s top runner. Bill Belichick has been harsh on his backs in the past for fumbles, but they actively created their current backfield situation by trading away Sony Michel before the season so Harris should have a longer leash than his past backs. Christian McCaffrey averaged 4.7 YPC in this matchup last week.
James White has a fantasy pulse again with Cam Newton out of town. He finished with 6/49 receiving on seven targets (18% share) and he added 4/12 rushing while playing 37% of the snaps against the Dolphins. White saw a target on a whopping 31.0% of his routes (57 of 184) last season, and he should run a lot more routes with Jones at quarterback after he averaged 374 routes per season in 2018-19 with Tom Brady. CMC caught all nine of his targets for 89 yards last week against the Jets.
Brolley’s Jets Stats and Trends
These teams are 7-3 toward unders in their last 10 meetings but they played two over games last week.
The Jets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games.
New York has played under the total in four of its last five games.
Zach Wilson had a rough go of it for much of his professional debut but he salvaged his fantasy day with some late production to post a respectable 19.3 FP. He completed 20/37 passes for 258 yards (7.0 YPA), two touchdowns, and one INT against the Panthers. Wilson’s offensive line did him no favors — he took six sacks — and the Jets will also be without LT Mekhi Becton for 4-6 weeks after he suffered an MCL sprain in the season opener. The Patriots limited another young passer, Tua Tagovailoa, to just 207/1 passing with a one-yard rushing TD.
Corey Davis rolled over his preseason success with Wilson into the regular season with 5/97/2 receiving on seven targets (19% share). DeVante Parker posted 4/81 receiving on seven targets in this matchup last week.
Elijah Moore flopped in his professional debut, catching just one of his four targets (11% share) for a three-yard loss. He did at least run 36 routes and he had an aDOT of 22.8 yards, but Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole could be added to the mix this week. Jaylen Waddle posted 4/61/1 receiving in this matchup last week against the Patriots.
The Jets’ backfield is an absolute abomination for fantasy early in the season. Ty Johnson led the group with a 53% snap share in Week 1 with the Jets playing from behind most of the game, but he produced just 4/15 rushing and 1/11 receiving on three targets and 20 routes. Tevin Coleman was the preferred runner with just 9/24 rushing on 25% of the snaps while fourth-round pick Michael Carter posted 4/6 rushing and 1/14 receiving on two targets and 10 routes on 27% of the snaps. The Patriots allowed 19.0 FPG to Miami RBs last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.8 (28th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 72 (25th)
Week 1 – Pass: 57.1% (21st) | Run: 42.9% (12th)
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 22.6 (11th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 67 (20th)
Week 1 – Pass: 74.6% (5th) | Run: 25.4% (28th)
The Jets had to abandon the run game and chase the Panthers down in the second-half, leading to some gaudy Week 1 passing numbers. The Jets passed the ball 80% of the time when trailing (third-highest rate on the slate) and it culminated in Zach Wilson dropping back to pass 44 times. Carolina’s front-seven overwhelmed the Jets offensive line – especially after Mekhi Becton went down, and I’m expecting another tough day at the office again here. Wilson was pressured on 42% of his dropbacks last week (fourth-highest rate) and it resulted in six sacks. Rookie QBs rarely have success against HC Bill Belichick and that should lend itself to a run-heavy game-script for the Patriots offense. We’re working off tiny samples right now, but the Patriots were very balanced (51% pass | 49% run) on early-downs (1st and 2nd) in Week 1 and I think we’ll see a continuation of that plan here with Mac Jones still getting his feet wet.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
One matchup I’m really focused on here is Patriot slot WR Jakobi Meyers against the slot coverage of rookie CB Michael Carter II (no, not the running back, the other rookie). I recommended Meyers as a target last week due to the likelihood that he’d see double-digit targets. He fell short of that mark in Week 1… with 9. While 6/44/0 may not induce excitement, it should when considering he did his work against Xavien Howard and, for much of the afternoon, Nik Needham — one of the breakout performers from Week 1.
With most slot WRs, route percentages can be deflated by game script. That’s not the case for Meyers. Even with New England reverting to heavy personnel on 43% of passing snaps, Meyers only left the field on two-of-40 plays. While Carter did a rock-solid job on fellow rookie Terrace Marshall last week, I think the savvy Meyers is a different beast.
I also think the Patriots’ coverage schemes — which haven’t changed much, given Bill Belichick is still calling the shots — set up well for Jet WR Corey Davis, who has to be the only Jet really worthy of consideration.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
This game is a battle of two rookie QBs who played better than the box scores would indicate. Both Mac Jones and Zach Wilson impressed our Greg Cosell, and Wilson especially showed significant toughness behind an offensive line that had him under siege the entire game and now is without LT Mekhi Becton.
The Patriots are, obviously, the more interesting team from a fantasy perspective. I agree with Wes that the top target here is Jakobi Meyers, as he saw a team-high 9 targets in Week 1, but don’t forget that Robby Anderson scored a long TD on New York last week — that could set up for Nelson Agholor to make a splash play if need be. Agholor looked good last week and scored on Jones’ first career passing TD.
The backfield is where we need more information. The irony is that Bill Belichick doghousing Rhamondre Stevenson for an early fumble might have led to a later fumble by Damien Harris as a result of being overworked.
Story: Damien Harris looked a bit fatigued shortly before his late fumble, perhaps a result of a lopsided workload (40 snaps vs. 5 for Rhamondre Stevenson). Now Bill Belichick must assess how much to reduce Harris' load in Sunday's game against the Jets. https://t.co/t4WrTWbZfy— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 13, 2021
After Harris put up 117 yards from scrimmage on 25 touches, I think benching him would, frankly, be dumb on Belichick’s part. But we have seen BB give RBs this treatment in the past (Stevan Ridley). What I do expect is more work for ol’ reliable James White, and I think he’s the “safest” option here as a FLEX. Harris has RB2 upside with the Patriots home favorites, but there’s massive downside if he’s now in the doghouse. JJ Taylor could be active this week after being a healthy scratch.
We’ll see what the TE rotation looks like in the coming weeks, but for now, both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are low-end starters for fantasy. Jonnu caught all 5 of his targets 42 yards on just 19 routes last week, while Henry caught all 3 of his looks (8%) for 31 yards on only 23 routes. The Jets did give up the most FPG to the TE position a season ago, however, and Jonnu was added to the injury report this week, which makes Henry more appealing.
For the Jets, the only fantasy option is Corey Davis, and he’s a superb WR3. Elijah Moore dropped a perfect throw from Wilson last week for a potential huge gain, so he could be out of the rotation for the time being with Jamison Crowder (COVID/groin) and Keelan Cole (knee) both potentially back this week. They are both game-time decisions.
.@nyjets @ZachWilson and his talent. Just an example! The Panthers pounded him but he just kept fighting! Love what this #rookie is all about. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/Fy9aOY2TBQ— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 15, 2021
There is absolutely no way anyone can play a Jet RB until further notice.