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Dynasty-Fantasy Football Analysis – 2017 Preseason Wk 1: Lions v. Colts

September 9, 2017 3:36 AM
August 16, 2017 10:22 AM

The Lions rolled out three QBs in this game — all better than the Colts current #2 QB, and that’s pretty frightening considering #2 QB Scott Tolzien is likely to start Week 1+. So, it’s no surprise that the Lions humiliated the Colts in this game. Folks, the Colts are really pretty bad and propped up to ‘any given day’ by Andrew Luck…who may not be as great as advertised (but still great). Former GM Ryan Grigson destroyed this team and it will take a few years to fix. He left the cupboard pretty bare.

Conversely, those who remember I went nuts in love over the Lions free agent activity but cooled on their NFL Draft this season – the Lions were really impressive he on both sides of the ball here. They are starting to add depth to an already decent starting lineup. Had OT Taylor Decker not gotten hurt to miss half the season…the Lions could have been the shock NFC North champs this year. Their schedule is tough early (when they need Decker) and then eases. If the Lions get out to a 3-3 start or better…it’s an 8+ win team for sure (Vegas o/u is 7.5 wins this year, right now).

Before I get too excited by the Lions, I have to make sure to consider this was against the Colts B-team…and the Colts are opposite of the Lions – not deep.

I have a million notes from this game because so many rookies played/did some things, and a lot of IDP especially. It’s mostly quick-hit observations because guys had sporadic moments of touches/playing time and much of it against a 2nd-3rd-4th-team back drop…there were so many young players working most didn’t get enough time/touches – so, we’re left with noting the flashes we saw and wanting to see more (hopefully) the next three preseason games.

Starting with the headline story from this game and then rapid fire random notes…

— I’m not sure anyone noticed that other players worked in this game except Kenny Golladay (3-53-2/4). He was the headline story from this game. Anytime a player scores a TD they garner ‘good’ label from roto-blurbs, but score two TDs and the blurbs have to get really excited. It’s like when a no-name guy catches two TDs in Week 1 of the regular-season and then people use waiver priority and others all their FA bidding money on a guy who doesn’t catch a TD the rest of the season (anyone get burned by Kevin Ogletree a few years ago?). Sometimes, we have to cool our jets on ‘TDs’ as the basis of whether a guy had a good game or not.

Golladay did a nice job – most/all his catches were leaping, contorting, etc., so it was attention getting. Not as much was made about Seattle’s Kasen Williams doing similar later that night…similar, but better. Rookie Derangement Syndrome rules.

Golladay has great hands and makes adjustments catching the ball, I liked that about that scouting him for the NFL Draft. What I didn’t like is Golladay’s issues with physical coverage/rough play. Tougher CBs gave him a hard time in college. The good news is – he has all the physical tools. You can’t teach that. The downside is if he is just ‘a guy’, a guy with NFL athleticism, size of a star, but the spirit of a finesse player who is never a star/high-impact player — like Donte Moncrief. Golladay showed much more fire in this game; very demonstrative for a rookie. We have to also note, he had awful Colts coverage on him…and he had his favorite type of throws – jump balls, adjusting to underthrown passes. I’m ready to be excited but I want to see what happens against better/physical coverage and 1st-team play.

I’m more excited about Golladay’s fantasy prospects when I think about the Lions WR group. Golden Tate is the primary WR target, but there’s room to be the #2 WR for Golladay – even if that only means as a red zone guy…a good thing for fantasy. Marvin Jones is mediocre and not a red zone threat guy. Golladay, if he is more finesse, is in a great spot to shine and at least matter for TDs. Golladay, if he plays physical and aggressive…he’s all those other things + a natural receiver with great size/athleticism.

I’ve been negative on Golladay, but I’m putting a pause on that after this effort. I want to see more to confirm what happened here…or whether the finesse guy returns. Either way, the more I look at this – the more I appreciate Golladay has fallen into a perfect spot. On Green Bay, he’s a #4 WR at best. On Seattle or New England, he’s a #4-5. On Detroit, he might be a #2. Location-location-location.

OK, here comes the random rapid fire in some order of interest/importance…

— Dwayne Washington (6-34-0, 1-5-0/1) worked behind the brief Ameer Abdullah start and then after Zach Zenner (6-26-0, 1-30-0/1). DW had a nice 18-yard run that he almost avoided the open field tackle and sprung for 50+ and a TD. He had a nice catch and run screen pass on what looked like trouble, he made hay.

The fact he’s working behind Zenner, who is also really good, means my Washington hopes are not looking good. I knew he’d be a backup waiting for Abdullah’s next injury but Detroit is bent on Ameer-Riddick, while Zenner-Washington are exponentially more talented in every facet you’d want. Chasing Washington for fantasy is likely banging your head against a wall, but those with deeper rosters…I try to sit and wait. When Ameer re-injures, fails via fumble…a ray of light will shine down. A ray of hope.

— The Colts UDFA RB Dalton Crossan (3-3-0, 2-11-0/2) is Zach Zenner lite. Similar running style, look, etc. He’s got some talent and is on a pretty bad roster…but likely is headed to the practice squad.

Note – Zach Zenner or Dwayne Washington would be the clear #2 for the Colts, and likely splitting/overtaking Frank Gore by mid-2017. On the Lions, they are #3-4 RBs and working special teams.

— Robert Turbin (5-6-0) looked solid. I saw headlines bemoaning an unimpressive game. Ummm…the Colts suck on offense without Luck, and have a pretty rough O-Line. Turbin got caught in the backfield instantly on one carry. His other runs were solid/productive and what you’d expect running off tackle with no passing game threat. He was fine.

— Troymaine Pope (7-31-1, 1-25-0/1) may send Josh Ferguson packing…similar guys for a similar role.

— You know who looked great…in that kinda ‘he’s great and doesn’t really know it yet‘ – Lions rookie TE Michael Roberts, who I’ve loved since the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl/NFL Draft studies on him. It may take 2-3 seasons for this to play out but he’s the future at TE for the Lions…not dropsy, non-blocking Eric Ebron.

Roberts movements on the field in this game were excellent. Some great blocks. Nice work after the catch. Botched a few targets because he hadn’t turned to look for balls already thrown early in his time, but then really settled in nicely after that. He’s really, really good.

— I wondered why the Colts wasted a late draft pick on 5’7″/160 JoJo Natson (5-51-0/7) out of Akron, but after watching him in this game you can see why. He glides around the field (4.46 40-time, 7.20 three-cone), as expected, but he caught passes better than I expected and played with the confidence of a guy much bigger. He’s not a fantasy play, but he has some pop to offer an NFL team as a speed receiver and return guy.

— Lions rookie IDP Jarrad Davis (1 tackle) was as advertised – solid, smart, not overly athletic but makes up for it with good instincts. He’s not my favorite linebacker prospect, but he’s OK.

Paul Worrilow (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD) looked good for his new team…and is relegated to backup linebacker, unbelievably.

— Colts rookie IDP LB Anthony Walker (2 tackles) was effectively starting in this game, which is what I thought could happen – he could start for a bad defense and actually produce more IDP numbers as a rookie than the much higher-lauded Jarrad Davis. Walker had a great college career as well…better than Davis’s.

— Colts rookie DB, who I didn’t like from scouting, Teez Tabor (3 tackles) showed his scrappiness in this game. I just don’t think he has the athleticism to matter in the NFL.

— Lions UDFA WRs Noel Thomas (1-13-0/1) and Dontez Ford (2-22-1/3) both shocked me in this game. I knew Thomas was pretty good, but a little limited athletically…but he looked terrific on his one catch in this one. Nice size and speed after the catch. I thought Ford was DOA for the NFL, but he looked way better than I remember him at Pitt. There’s probably only room for one of these guys on the roster. I thought Thomas would win that with ease, but Ford came to play.

— Colts top pick Malik Hooker (4 tackles) looked just fine. I thought this guy was still coming off a thousand surgeries? He looked completely ready to go. The Colts weren’t holding him back.

— The Lions stole rookie CB Jamal Agnew (2 tackles) in the draft. The more I watch him, the more I move past thinking he’s ‘good’ and wondering if he might be more ‘great’ as a cover corner. A bit undersized at 5’9″/186, but man what an athlete.

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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 >>