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If you tried to take a blood sample at this point of the year, I wouldn't be shocked if a football game streamed out of my veins and into the syringe. Do you want college tape? Left arm. Oh, you're an NFL fan? Right arm.
When you watch this much ball, there are a lot of players you make mental notes about, but devoting a significant film segment or a full-blown analysis feature doesn't make sense. This week, the Gut Check is serving a heaping bowl of chili with the tasty scraps of thoughts left over from recent meals.
There's a cupboard full of delicious redraft and dynasty insights for your pleasure. Pull up a chair and serve yourself. Your favorite drink is probably in the fridge. That's the magic of imagination.
Cajun Appetizer: Kayshon Boutte
We've documented this well: The Patriots' track record with drafting outside receivers under Bill Belichick has been awful. But just like chili or barbecue, sometimes the cuts nobody wants can be expertly rendered into something amazing. Belichick's regime has been pitmasters with slot receivers, and while Boutte will see time at flanker, his highest ceiling of potential will be as a slot man.
Think of Boutte as an aspiring Robert Woods-Jarvis Landry mashup with some promise we see from Amon-Ra St. Brown. Seeing potential is difficult, especially when people lacking vision and perspective only want to note that Boutte earned four targets in the opener against a bad Philadelphia defense and didn't catch a pass.
What's worse is that Boutte actually caught two balls but carelessly stepped out of bounds. One of those targets would have put the Patriots in the red zone late and kept the game alive. Since then, Boutte hasn't been active on Sundays.
This is where you have to dig a little deeper to understand the nuance and care that the Patriots' pitmasters take with young players. If you recall, Rhamondre Stevenson played five snaps in the opener of his rookie year. He had one carry for two yards and a target for nine yards. I believe he fumbled as well. He didn't see the field again until Week 5, despite a strong preseason that got fans excited about him.
After Week 5, Stevenson gradually earned more playing time and earned fantasy value in Weeks 9-11, 13, and 17.
Julian Edelman, a seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, was inactive in Week 1 of his rookie year. In Week 2, he earned 16 targets, 8 catches, and 98 yards. From Weeks 3-6, he totaled 15 targets, 13 catches, and 90 yards. He was inactive for four of the next six weeks and didn't see more than three targets until Week 16, when he delivered a 15-target, 10-catch, 103-yard performance in the season finale.
Danny Woodhead, an undrafted free agent, saw three touches in Week 7 of his first season and three more in Week 11. He earned 30 touches as a rookie, and 21 of them didn't come until Weeks 13-17. During his nine-year career, Woodhead authored four seasons of starter production, including a top-24 and top-14 season at wide receiver and top-24 and top-20 campaigns at running back.
Edelman, one of the top slot receivers of the past 15 years, was a converted quarterback. Woodhead was a running back from the NFL hotbed, Chadron State. The stock is low on Boutte because the public had this half-baked idea that Boutte was the next Justin Jefferson-JaMarr Chase when his game was far more Woods-Landry in aspiration and that disappointment leads to sour feelings and the writing off of players who can grow into worthwhile producers.
Woods was an underutilized slot receiver in Buffalo, earning between 550-699 yards and 3-5 scores during his first four seasons with the Bills. Not everything worthwhile is instant.
Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien told the press this week that Boutte's absence from the active roster has nothing to do with the receiver's coachability. O'Brien believes in Boutte's ability to develop into a good player and praised the rookie's practice habits.
With Kendrick Bourne gone for the year with an ACL tear, Boutte could be forced into action. Regardless of whether this happens, Boutte is a cheap addition for the back end of dynasty rosters scavenging for wide receiver talent that could blossom.
If you need a reminder of what Boutte does well once he's comfortable in a pro offense, here's what to expect.
Roux: Jeff Wilson Jr.
A good chili needs a roux. It thickens the sauce and provides fatty richness. A good roux is supposed to dissolve and leave the flavor behind, binding the big-name ingredients together. This is exactly who Wilson is in the Dolphins' offense while Devon Achane rehabs a knee injury and the Dolphins determine if the rookie is ready to return in Week 11.
Although Wilson lacks the word-class speed of Raheem Mostert, Devon Achane, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle, his skillful running between the tackles and reliability as an outlet receiver affords Miami to use Mostert in Achane's role as well as providing redundancy to Mostert as the primary back if Mostert gets hurt, which has become an annual expectation.
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