NFL Today: Puka Nacua Chasing History
Puka Nacua may not win the ROY award, but he’s breaking records. (Los Angeles Rams)
George Pickens is getting frustrated in Steel City; disgraced Pokeman card seller Blake Martinez is back in the NFL, getting signed to the Panthers’ practice squad; and the Jets’ offensive woes continued in a big way in their MNF blowout by the Chargers. Here are some other stories we’re following as Week 10 creeps closer…
Offensive ROY Watch
Houston quarterback C.J. Stroud is the clear favourite to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honours this season, but it’s Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiver Puka Nacua who has really caught our attention, and frankly, we’ve been remiss in not yet chronicling his historic rookie season.
Okay, so Nacua isn’t likely to win this award, but he’s etching his name in the record book with his performance, including a NFL rookie-record 15 catches in a game and a good chance to top the greatest season by a rookie wide receiver ever (Bill Groman, who racked up 1,473 yards way back in 1960). Hell, Puka has even inspired artists…
Yes, Nacua has slowed down in recent games (topping 43 yards just once over the last four), but should still be a top 20 WR in the second half, and will soon be reaching the 1,000-yard mark. Not bad for a dude whose college career started very slowly, but given his pedigree as a stud in high school (winning the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018-19), what he’s accomplished isn’t totally out of the blue.
The Rams are on bye this week, so let’s hope that allows Nacua a bit of a reset to gain traction for a strong second half. But the big concern is who will be throwing to him: Matthew Stafford or recently signed Carson Wentz?
Game of the Year
We’ve got some tasty matchups in Week 10 (San Francisco-Jacksonville and Cleveland-Baltimore, for instance), but no games on the slate compare to the treat coming up in Week 11 when Kansas City faces Philadelphia — on Monday Night Football, to boot.
This could very well be a Super Bowl preview, and currently favours the Chiefs by 2.5 points as per FanDuel.
Philly will have the added benefit of coming off their bye week, so the Monday assignment in Week 11 provides an even longer than usual break. But even so, the Eagles will still be missing tight end Dallas Goedert, who will be placed on IR after breaking his forearm on Sunday.
Jack Stoll is likely to start at TE for Philadelphia, but as a blocking specialist, he offers very little Fantasy value. A bigger sleeper could be Albert Okwuegbunam given his experience as a pass catcher (54 career receptions for 546 yards).
Keep a close eye on how things shake out at practice during the bye week, as there could be some surprise Fantasy value to be found in Goedert’s absence. Considering Philly isn’t playing this week, you would have had to replace Goedert either way, so consider Hunter Henry, who was targeted on Sunday much more often than he’d been since the first two weeks of the season.
Chase Young Beefs Up 49er D
While Joe Burrow unsurprisingly went first overall in 2020 NFL Draft, many believed that defensive end Chase Young was actually the most talented prospect in that class.
Unfortunately, after a fine rookie season, injuries have really stalled Young’s progress, and last week his career in Washington ended after San Francisco gave up a special compensatory draft pick to acquire him at the trade deadline.
Young began practicing with the 49ers this week, and will definitely help them in the second half now that he finally seems to be 100 per cent healthy in the wake of the torn ACL he suffered in November 2021.
San Francisco isn’t likely to re-sign Young after the season, but for now he make a strong defensive team even tougher to score against. Keep this mind when your skilled Fantasy players face the 49ers and consider him a potential top 10 defensive lineman for the rest of 2023.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American psychedelic soul band The Chambers Brothers have been active since 1954, notwithstanding a two-year break in the early ’70s. In 1968, they released A New Time – A New Day, which featured “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” a track also included on the 1970 compilation album Somethin’ Else Again.