Welcome to a new article series at Footballguys. I'm very excited to bring you the perspective of watching game tape from a coach's point of view. This isn't Xs and Os with images and videos. The goal is to provide you with quick-hitting analysis on players, which is absorbable for most people and will be valuable to your fantasy teams.
I'm very selective about whom I trust with football film analysis. Matt Waldman, Brett Kollmann, J.T. O'Sullivan, and Tim Jenkins are some of the very few I trust. I highly recommend their work. Here's a brief background before diving into the analysis. I've coached for 13 seasons, from high school to college and from assistant coach to offensive coordinator. Lucky to have had five different college stops ranging from Division 3 to Division 1, with a few SEC games sprinkled in. The most important thing is being a sponge along the way, asking questions, and continuing to learn. For example, this winter, I took time to study the Air Raid, Run N shoot, Pin N Pull, Counter, and Duo concepts. However, I'm not an expert. Just attempting to convey how much I love this game and always want to understand more about it. I hope you'll trust me enough to help you learn more about how players look on film this season and how it can help you win fantasy championships.
Each week, I will watch the All-22 coaches film(shows every play during every play) from two games and discuss some fantasy-relevant players from both teams.
Disclaimer: Coaches are critical by the nature of the profession. I will reveal the good and bad about players. It doesn't mean I'm a homer or a hater, so the kids say. It's just honesty.
San Francisco at Chicago
This game was played in the worst rain conditions for a football game in recent memory. This affected all the players, but it did rain harder during certain portions of the game. The 49ers really dominated this game in the trenches on both sides of the football. Chicago forced a couple of key turnovers, capitalized on a few big plays, and benefitted from many San Francisco penalties.
QB Trey Lance, San Francisco
- Completed a deep pass to three different players.
- Crucial thirrd downs were converted by passing the football.
- Showed the ability to throw to all areas of the field.
- Utilized in short-yardage situations to QB sneak and converted all of them.
- 49ers designed QB runs from third-and-short situations to third-and-long for Lance, which gives insight into his rushing value in this offense.
- Made defenders miss when running.
- Runs behind his pads when he needs to display some power.
- Overthrew an open Tyler Kroft on a potential touchdown play.
- Stares down his reads, which led to an interception.
- Takes too many hits because he doesn't slide when he runs.
- Went down easier than expected on sacks for a strong and athletic QB.
- Didn't perform well when pressured in the pocket.
- Inconsistent with his mental processing and progressing through reads.
Lance had a mediocre performance given the conditions. He flashed the potential as a passer and runner but also showed his rawness as a passer. Takes way too much abuse from the defense. Make sure you roster a good backup in fantasy if he's your starter. Lance needs development, but I wouldn't panic after Week 1.
RB Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco
- Played better than in 2021.
- Good vision, efficient cuts, athletic burst in the 2nd level.
- Lowered his shoulder to finish runs in a crowd.
- Wasn't involved in the passing game.
- Unfortunate knee injury, which will hold him out for two months.
Mitchell is a player I would look to acquire in dynasty on the cheap, especially if some fantasy managers are frustrated with the injuries. He looked very good, and the 49ers' rushing game is a place to invest.
RB Jeff Wilson, San Francisco
- Tough runner.
- Showed reliable hands.
- Didn't set up running plays well and was off balance at times.
- Not a great athlete.
Wilson knows the offense and filled in for injured Mitchell, but it's a big step down. I'm not confident he'll lead this backfield in touches. Don't overspend on attempting to acquire Wilson.
WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco
- Fantastic vision and toughness as a runner.
- Athletic player who showed burst and balance in the sloppy conditions.
- Frequently utilized as a runner, which increases his fantasy value.
- Had multiple drops.
- Fumbled the football in the red zone.
Samuel had a down game but still showed his fantasy value in poor conditions.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco
- Progressed in his development as a WR.
- Multiple big receptions, one of which was in traffic when the 49ers needed a play.
- Utilized on a jet sweep, which could give insight that Samuel isn't going to receive all the WR carries this season.
- It won't show up on the stat sheet due to a poor call by the officials, but Aiyuk beat the Bears' best cornerback, Jaylon Johnson, on a well-run out route.
- Didn't block well.
Aiyuk looks like a better player in 2022 from all aspects of the game and looks to have more confidence from Kyle Shanahan.
QB Justin Fields, Chicago
- Showed resilience after the offense started the game slow, and he threw an interception.
- Threw from different arm angles to complete passes.
- Possesses special athleticism from the QB position.
- Creative player who made positive plays off-script(outside of the design of the play).
- Made multiple clutch plays to help win the game.
- Slides to prevent taking many hits from defenders.
- Needs to throw with more anticipation.
- Leaves yardage on the field with his running because he's not as aggressive and he slides.
- His eyes led a defender into the passing lane to intercept a pass.
- Holds onto the football longer and it can lead to negative plays.
- Likes to take shots down the field, but passed up easier completions underneath.
Fields was inconsistent early in this game but bounced back to get the win. He played much better in space utilizing his athleticism, playing off script, and being creative. Fields made clutch plays when they needed to be made.
RB David Montgomery, Chicago
- Most targeted player in the passing game.
- Followed his blockers well on a screen.
- Tough runner, who fights for that extra yard.
- His hopping style to the line of scrimmage isn't a good match for zone scheme because it throws off timing.
- Missed open holes.
- Cutback and bounced too many runs outside when he doesn't have the athleticism to beat many defenders to the corner.
David Montgomery is the second- or third-best running back for this scheme in Chicago. I'd expect Khalil Herbert to get more of this workload as the season progresses and Trestan Ebner to get some touches.
RB Khalil Herbert, Chicago
- Smooth and efficient runner that fits this zone scheme.
- Good vision.
- Solid balance to gain yards after contact.
- Was the RB in the game to close out the game on the final touchdown drive.
- Only one target and struggled catching in the preseason.
- Missed at least one open hole.
Khalil Herbert is the best runner on this team and should continue to see more carries. He was the most efficient runner on film, statistically, and PFF grades.
Jacksonville at Washington
The early lead by the Commanders was squashed by consecutive interceptions by Carson Wentz, and then he made a comeback to win the game. The Jaguars have a very good two-headed monster in their backfield, which reminds me of the Cowboys' situation and keep the offense on schedule to create easy-to-convert down and distances. Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson are both surprisingly back in the fantasy spotlight with good performances as well.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville
- Possesses the most talented arm in the NFL that nobody talks about.
- Intelligent player, who is a good processor.
- Deep ball accuracy and can fit the football in tight windows.
- Strong arm that can afford to be a tad late on throws.
- For an athletic player, he can be stiff and off balance at times.
- Doesn't do well with pressure.
- Made a poor decision late in the game to try to make a play.
- Missed Etienne a few times that would've been touchdowns.
Trevor Lawrence is getting better and has an incredible arm. If Jacksonville protected him better, they would be a very competitive team. Buy low in fantasy.
RB Travis Etienne, Jacksonville
- Plays at another athletic gear than everyone else like his hair is on fire.
- Weapon in the passing game, who could've easily had 3 receiving touchdowns.
- Broke multiple tackles due to his hard running, athleticism, and running angles.
- Jacksonville gave him touches on the outside to maximize his speed.
- Dropped an easy touchdown.
- Only had six total touches, and a couple of others were called back due to penalties.
Etienne looked very explosive and a playmaker in that offense but didn't get a ton of touches. He was very close to having multiple receiving touchdowns, which would make the fantasy community view him differently. Etienne is a buy low in fantasy because he looked like the real deal in Week 1. Worst case scenario is Etienne is a better version of Tony Pollard.
RB James Robinson, Jacksonville
- Smart runner with instincts, who's patient and shows good vision.
- Displayed close to the same athleticism as he had prior to the injury.
- Makes good cuts and runs through tackle attempts.
- Wasn't utilized much in the passing game, despite his one reception for a touchdown.
- Could do better in pass protection.
- Never will be a game-breaking athlete.
It's a great story that James Robinson recovered from his Achilles injury, proving that in Week 1. He moved well on the field and was very productive. Robinson is a good football player that gets the most out of his athleticism. Think of Robinson as a poor version of Zeke Elliott.
WR Christian Kirk, Jacksonville
- Tracked the football well and was able to adjust to come down with a deep reception.
- Ran many option routes out of the slot, which requires him to process, read the defense and run to green grass.
- Showed good route running technique.
- The main target for Trevor Lawrence.
- Needs to improve his blocking.
Impressed with the progress in Kirk's game, which reveals why he's the top option in the Jaguars' passing game. Week 1 will continue to happen for him this season.
QB Carson Wentz, Washington
- Athletic quarterback who can buy time and gain some yards on the ground.
- Good arm talent to make many tough throws.
- Showed good resiliency to bounce back from consecutive interceptions to lead consecutive touchdown drives to win the game.
- Looks like a good fit in the Washington offense in terms of scheme fit and weapons around him.
- Threw four touchdown passes.
- Multiple passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
- Inconsistent accuracy, which leads to some passes arriving higher than intended.
- He's late with delivering some passes, which leads to contested targets.
- Wentz was late and his location was inside on a deep out to the wide side of the field, which is the worst combination of results. It led to an interception.
- Rushes decisions under pressure.
- Threw a screen in traffic, and Travon Walker made a good play to intercept the pass.
- Wentz is confident in his arm but feels like he's playing hero with some passing ideas instead of taking the layups.
Carson Wentz looked very good in his Washington debut in terms of scheme fit, utilizing his weapons, and production. He missed on a few throws, but it's a positive day for Wentz. He could be a sneaky low-end QB1 this season in fantasy.
RB Antonio Gibson, Washington
- Was utilized as a weapon in the receiving game, even down the field.
- Showed off his burst and athleticism.
- Good hands and solid route running.
- Runs hard, which allows him to break tackles at his size and speed.
- Wentz trusted him as a safety valve when plays broke down.
- More of an athlete than a running back and lacks some instincts.
- Not a creative player.
- Will occasionally miss open holes.
Gibson's usage in the passing game was promising compared to previous years, which sometimes happens with a new starting quarterback. Gibson is a big player who's a good athlete. He runs hard but lacks instincts as a runner.
WR Jahan Dotson, Washington
- Nickname him 7/11 because he's always open.
- Dotson is a very good route runner, and he takes advantage of less coverage opposite his teammate Terry McClaurin.
- Athletic player who threatens defenders deep, which allows him to break off routes in any direction underneath.
- Good hands catcher and came down with a contested target.
- Multiple other plays, he broke open on routes but wasn't targeted.
- Two touchdowns in his NFL debut.
- Smaller framed player who may never be a good blocker.
- Only saw five targets on a day Washington had 41 attempts.
Jahan Dotson showed he's the real deal in Week 1. He's athletic, a very good route runner, and makes plays. Acquire him in your fantasy leagues.
WR Curtis Samuel, Washington
- Focal point of the offense in both the passing and running game.
- Very quick twitch player who looked like he would beat the entire Jaguars defense in tag.
- Many manufactured touches to get him the football with blockers in space.
- Lost a fumble running between the tackles.
- Wasn't utilized down the field.
- Needs to develop further as a route runner.
Samuel's fantasy value has to be on the rise after how much Washington used him in Week 1. Think of how the 49ers use Deebo Samuel. He's a great athlete and looked very good with the football in his hands.
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