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2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 6: Game Analysis: Colts 31, Bengals 27 (and the story of Marcus Johnson)

This article was originally found in:
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Original Air Date:
October 22, 2020
October 25, 2020

I selected this game report from Week 6 as the free FFM email of the week because of the deeper dive on Colts WR Marcus Johnson...something I think you'll enjoy/learn more about this player. A few other nuggets included as well. Enjoy!


2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 6: Game Analysis: Colts 31, Bengals 27


I take notes during the live watch. I re-watch the game on tape looking for hidden clues to report on. Here are my notes/takes on what I saw and how it related to FF 2020. I write anywhere from 1,000-3,000+ words on each game, and I have to move fast to get to all of them through the week…so, please forgive any typos/grammar.


The Bengals raced out to a 21-0 lead in this game, scoring on the first play of the 2nd-quarter to go up three scores and leaving the Colts (and football society) stunned…and I felt great about my CIN +7.5 bet for this game. By halftime it was 24-21 Cincy, and I knew my bet was in trouble…and as the Colts took the lead in the 4th-quarter, I just prayed for the cover (and got it).

Zac Taylor should be fired for losing this game. Actually, the NFL should step and take this team away from the owners and give it to someone who knows what they are doing. This was one part, Zac Taylor is over his head -- and one part this roster is mostly a disaster outside of Joe Burrow.

This game revealed a lot of ‘truths’ for me…more than I expected, and we’ll get to player truths in a moment. But as far as the teams overall, we all already knew the Bengals stink. But here’s a truth not many would agree with – the Colts borderline stink too. A terrible (4-2) team.

The Colts have beaten (1-5) MIN, (0-6) NYJ, and (1-4-1) CIN. They also looked fairly flimsy in defeating (5-1) CHI Week 4. They’ve lost to (1-5) JAX and got manhandled by the Browns Week 5. The Jacksonville loss Week 1 was not a fluke…it was sign.

Now, the Colts aren’t Bengals bad. They just aren’t ‘win the division’ good. I don’t even know if they’ll make the playoffs without a QB change…and the QB may not even matter. If the Colts lose at DET Week 8 (Indy on bye this week) – they aren’t making the playoffs.

If Indy beats Detroit at Detroit Week 8, and that’s not a given, then we project them to go (8-8) this season with a chance at 9 wins. It’s very possible Indy is about to lose 4-6 games in-a-row from Weeks 9-14. If the Colts lose to Detroit Week 8, they the next 3 weeks after they will then lose to Baltimore and at Tennessee and then maybe to Green Bay and fall to (4-6) and has to make a QB change for Week 12 hosting TEN to save the season. From Weeks 9-16, the Colts play all playoff teams (TEN 2x, GB, LV, PIT, BAL) and Houston twice.

Here’s what is crazy about the Bengals…they are now (1-4-1), if they would have won their OT game tie with Philly Week 3, they’d be (2-3) right now. Had they not butchered this big lead/game against the Colts, at Indy, after a 21-0 lead…with the Philly hypothetical win, they could be (3-2) right now. Had they closed out the Chargers Week 1, instead of botching it…maybe (4-2) in range?

They’re too poorly coaches to have won all those games but consider that Cincy has been in and/or leading most of their games this season (except Week 5 v. CIN). This team is not terrible. I’ll take the points v. CLE this week, if CB Will Jackson is active/playing.

Cincy has three games upcoming with NFC East teams, so they might get 3-4 wins this season in the end. If the Bengals were in the NFC East, they’d be the favorite to win the division right now.

Let’s get to some interesting and/or shocking truths from this game...


Fantasy Player Notes:


 -- This may be known as the game T.Y. Hilton’s (1-11-0/5) career ended…ended as in ‘no longer a star’ and barely a starting NFL WR anymore). I don’t know or care what his official ‘drop’ count is this year (because the NFL numbers/whomever is in charge of it – they’re a joke)…but it’s shocking to watch how many passes TYH butchers now. Even simple ones. At first, I thought it was just a fluke…now, it’s ‘the norm’. I don’t know what is wrong -- secret injury, Rivers, age catching up…but it is what it is. He’s becoming borderline useless for the NFL, much less for fantasy.

That’s not totally shocking news. Here’s what is shocking news…

Early in the game, as the Colts faltered and tried to get back into it, Rivers went to Hilton like you would expect…but to no avail. Drops, him not open, etc. I could feel, on the re-watch, that Rivers just gave up on Hilton…and thus the rise of all the other Colts options. It’s the third/fourth time I’ve seen Rivers just stop trying with TYH.

Hilton saw three of his 5 targets while they were getting down 21-0. Hilton got all five targets in the 1st-half. He was not targeted in the 2nd-half. It wasn’t because of some awesome coverage. The Colts outscored the hapless Bengals 31-6 from the 2nd-quarter on (after it was 21-0)…it was a great offensive burst and T.Y. Hilton was not a part of it on purpose -- frozen out in the 2nd-half. I think because Rivers is sick of him and is finding prosperity everywhere else.

The death of T.Y. Hilton (and Pittman/Campbell hurt) is bringing on the shock WR statement: I think Marcus Johnson (5-108-0/8) might be the Colts/Rivers’s new #1 WR. A possible Midwest version of the Travis Fulgham story happening – out of attrition, a WR rises. The 100+ yard game here, might not be a total fluke/freak event.

Down 21-0, Marcus Johnson connected with Rivers on a 55-yard bomb and Johnson was tackled at the 1-yard line...setting up a Colts easy TD right after and the comeback underway. Later in the game, Johnson was wide open on a 60+ yard bomb, 2-3 yards ahead of coverage, and Rivers overthrew it. We nearly had a 6-165-2/8 game that would have sent everyone diving to the waiver wires to make claims, even with a Colts bye week.

Johnson is an unusual story in the NFL, one of the most odd that I’ve ever seen…

-A nothing career at Texas…a bit player/producer at WR.

-Runs a 4.39 40-time at his Pro Day, along with a 37” vertical, a high-end 11’3” broad jump and 22 bench reps from a 6’1”/204 WR is pretty antique/sweet. Overall, high-end speed/power numbers (especially for his size). A 7.26 three-cone was below average for what you want to see.

-Goes undrafted in 2016. Signed by the Eagles for a tryout.

-Impressed the Eagles, and me, in his rookie preseason…enough so to put him on the practice squad for 2016.

-2017, got called up to the Eagles’ main roster and saw some playing time.

-Impressed Seattle enough to include him in a deal in 2018 to trade away Michael Bennett, exchanging picks but also Seattle wanted to add Marcus Johnson from Philly…and they got him.

-Johnson got hurt in 2018, and Seattle gave up…but Indy grabbed him and put him on their practice squad. Why Indy? Frank Reich knew him from the time in Philly 2016-2017.

-Johnson got called up to the main roster in 2019. He started a few games. He had a 3-105-1/7 game Week 14. He had a few moments but was a stuck in the Colts passing game decline late 2019.

-Back to the practice squad again for Johnson in 2020 but called up with the Parris/Pittman injuries and the past two weeks he has averaged 4.0 rec. (5.5 targets), 81.5 yards, 0.0 TDs per game.

It’s not that Johnson has received a fortuitous spike in targets that has my interest piqued…it’s a combination of things.

(a) Johnson has talent, he is above average in athleticism and seems unfazed catching the ball at the NFL level. He looks like he’s been a starter all his life. It’s been a five-year grind.  

(b) Watching Travis Fulgham go from nothing to reliable/#1 WR for a team…because of mass injury opening the door for him. Johnson is in that same boat, kinda.

(c) As Hilton dies…opportunity rises.

(d) the most important…you could see the relationship happening with Rivers-Johnson a bit Week 5, but then full scale here Week 6.

I don’t know if it’s (Rivers-Johnson) going to hold up because I don’t know if Rivers can hold up, but I know this…something is happening with Hilton-Rivers-Johnson, and it’s good for Johnson and in deeper roster leagues…I’m taking a look because I denied Fulgham in disbelief that guys like that get a real, sustainable chance. Johnson could be the next in line to benefit from his situation.


 -- Speaking of WRs I’ve slept on…Tee Higgins (6-125-0/8) really looks good. I did not see that coming. I thought for sure Tyler Boyd (5-54-0/8) would be the money and Higgins a bit player. But for two weeks now, I’ve been pushing this ‘Higgins is Burrow’s guy’ theory. That theory didn’t get derailed here.

I don’t know that Tee Higgins is a star talent, but like Fulgham-Johnson…it’s working. There’s a connection happening. No reason to deny it.

I could have been way off on my Higgins scouting, but I don’t think I’m that far off – just that he is better than I scouted and he’s in a great spot where he’s growing with Burrow as Boyd-Green take the better coverage. A perfect storm scenario.


 -- Also, note…to all of you dismissing/giving up on Joe Burrow (25-39 for 313 yards, 0 TDs/1 INT) because he has 1 TD/3 INTs the past three weeks – you’re wrong to do so.

You don’t want Burrow FF-playing for you in a bad matchup…like the Ravens game Week 5. Like the Steelers game coming Week 10. But in any decent matchup…he’s safe with upside.

Note a few things on Burrow…

1) He had at least two passing TDs here in this game, a couple falling just short of the goal line. Just an unlucky outcome. Not poor play.

2) He has thrown for 300+ yards in four of his last 5 games. Only the Ravens game was a down yards game (183 yards).

3) The Bengals possibly being (2-3) or (3-2) or even (4-1) was on the table, but Cincy has a terrible O-Line and no defense and poor coaching…the only reason why the Bengals are formidable is because of Burrow putting them on his back.

The numbers Burrow is producing right away, with this team…they are stunning. He has arguably the worst O-Line in the NFL, he’s taking the most hits, and still completing 65% of his passes. Still throwing for 300+ yards. Still keeping his team in games to win them. I’m totally impressed.

4) Joe Burrow is a modern-day Joe Montana…only instead of having the most innovative coach of his era and the best run organization to work with, he has the total opposite of that.

I keep talking about Justin Herbert and we all see ‘it’…because of his size, arm, etc. But Burrow just doesn’t look like that, so he gets perceived differently…but he is…he’s differently great like Herbert. You can argue which one is better, but it shouldn’t mean Burrow isn’t also elite. He is. Buy him on sale for Dynasty, if he is.

If Cincy hires Joe Brady to be their head coach in 2021…Burrow’s stock will go through the roof.


 -- Trey Burton (4-58-1, 1-1-1) is not impressing me, but I cannot deny his touch counts. He just doesn’t look like his old self…he’s playing stiff but catching his targets. He’s useful for FF until he isn’t. But I don’t see the upside here, unless he has rust getting knocked off and gets better as he goes. With Jack Doyle (3-29-1/5) there and Mo Alie-Cox set to return soon…I just don’t love the setup…but it’s working now for FF on a small scale.


 -- Drew Sample (0-0-0/1) is not working.

Since his great 4th-quarter in Week 2, on national TV…he has averaged 1.5 rec. (2.3 targets), 17.5 yards, and 0.0 TDs per game. Joe Burrow loves tight ends, but not Sample…apparently.


 -- Another inconvenient truth…the Colts-DST is droppable. You’re holding on to them, but you’re more likely to regret it than not.

The Colts defense got pushed around by the Browns and then boat raced here by Cincy early on. Those are offenses the Colts D should’ve pounced on, even without Darrius Leonard. We’re giving the Colts-DST too much credit for crushing the Jets and Vikings and holding down the Bears. That’s not a great resume.

The Colts-DST is #2 in all of FF in PPG…how can you cut that?

If you ignore the Jets game, they would be 8th in FF PPG…down with CLE, GB.

If the Colts play the Jets – definitely start them. The problem is the schedule ahead…

You’re holding them through a BYE to what…play them at Detroit? That might be OK, but it’s not super-juicy…and then what? Lamar-Tannehill-Rodgers-Tannehill-Watson-Carr-Watson-Ben through to Week 16. You’re going to start them confidently versus any of those teams/QBs? I don’t think so. You’re better off taking any NFC East DST facing an NFC East offense.

You’re holding onto a good/OK-not-great DST…you’re holding on to a semi-myth driven by the Jets game Week 3 (two pick sixes among other things…nearly half their seasons FF scoring happened in that one game).



Snap Counts of Interest:


59 = Hilton

58 = Pascal

40 = M. Johnson


39 = Doyle

35 = Burton


37 = J Taylor

21 = Hines

04 = Wilkins


59 = Higgins

58 = AJG

57 = Boyd

01 = Ross


55 = Sample

23 = C Carter

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>


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