I don’t think anyone is shocked that the Patriots made the Super Bowl. What’s the point of even analyzing or critiquing them anymore?
Did any of us see the Falcons in the Super Bowl? I suspect not. Perhaps, you’re like me and predicted the Falcons for a losing record and constantly predicted their demise all season…and thought Dan Quinn would get fired during/after this season? You didn’t see it…and that’s cool. I didn’t see it…and that makes me bad at my job.
This week, in honor of the Falcons, I am reprinting all of their 2016 game recaps to embarrass myself more publicly. Laying myself naked before you. Also, I am going back through and reading to see if there were clues to what I was off on and to see what I was thinking going negative on the Falcons as a Super Bowl season was unfolding. It’s not the first time…I didn’t buy into the Panthers all last season either.
I am reprinting the Falcons 2016 season throughout the week and adding some extra commentary on how bad (or good) my commentary was at the time. In honor of the Falcons and to publicly flog myself this week, here we go…
*Original commentary from the day it was published in black text with my 2017 comments in green.
Chiefs 29, Falcons 28 — The Falcons dropped to (7-5) with this stunning loss…I mean, the way the lost was stunning. If the schedule had set up differently from this point on…there might be a whole different story written here. As it was, the Falcons would play putrid LA and SF the next two weeks, be able to right the ship and rest players, and then beat weak Carolina and New Orleans to finish off the season.
Atlanta was the better team in this game, and lost. They ‘gave’ the Chiefs the game three different times and almost overcame all of their blunders to win in the end. I’d love to love the Falcons more, but Matt Ryan is the worst ‘good QB’ in the NFL. He’s a little-higher-level version of Matt Barkley. Solid pass-screen-solid pass-bad decision but incomplete-solid pass-screen-near pick incomplete-solid pass-screen-WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING PASS-screen-solid pass…
That may have been a little over the top? However, Matt Barkley would soon be on a roll too
Some quarterbacks are just ‘C+’ talents. I wish I were a C+ quarterback in the NFL! Smart enough to throw a lot of screen and swing passes and lucky enough to have Julio Jones. There are only a few Tom Bradys and Dak Prescotts in the world. And then there are the Matt Ryans – follow the script, but then just at the wrong time…the play-call was guessed by the defense, the first-option receiver is double-covered, Ryan throws it anyway because he’s below-average at reading coverage, and a head-scratching interception results. 90% of the time those stupid throws go incomplete (or dropped INT) or the receiver (Julio) makes a crazy grab, but then about 10% of the time the silly throw gets picked. You can’t throw screens and swings to RBs every pass. Right before the half Ryan threw a pick-six, and later trying to win the game Ryan threw a two-point conversion returned to turn a one-point lead into a one-point deficit and ultimately a loss. Make Matt Ryan be a real quarterback and the opponent’s chances of winning rise dramatically.
Against the best pass defenses Ryan has faced this season, DEN-SEA-PHI-ARI-KC, he has averaged 1.0 interceptions per game, and sports a 1–4 record against them. THIS is what scares me about siding with Atlanta versus the Patriots. I think it is more likely the Patriots whack the Falcons than vice-versa. Granted, Atlanta is smoking good teams in the playoffs.
Matt Ryan is a fraud ‘star’ quarterback. He’s a ‘C’ everyone thinks is a ‘B+’, or ‘A’ whenever he rolls up some helpless pass defense. He’s good enough to beat the bad teams, but should be an underdog to any difficult opponents. Fortunately, for the Falcons – Ryan doesn’t face a team with a winning record the rest of the season. They’ll glide into the playoffs and get wiped out within two games, likely the first game. Half of that statement was right…
Kansas City is unbelievable. Nine wins now on the season and over half of them in inexplicable fashion. I keep thinking the Raiders are the luckiest team in the NFL this year. Kansas City is right there with them. That’s not to say those teams aren’t good, but the difference between awesome with a 9–3/10–2 record or a frustrating 6–6 right now is inches away for both KC and Oakland. Good teams with a lot of good fortune. Someone’s luck runs out when KC and Oakland face off this week – the winner has a huge upper hand in winning the AFC West. It was true.
— The difference between Tyreek Hill (5-53-0/6 targets, 2-19-0) and Taylor Gabriel (5-44-0/6 targets) was on full display in this game…
The very first play of the game for KC was an innovative designed run play for Hill. He almost broke it for a TD, gaining 13 yards. Hill touched the ball at least once on every drive for KC in the first half.
Gabriel did see a pass on the first drive, taking a screen pass in the red zone and darting past defenders to dive in for a TD…which was called back for offensive holding. He didn’t see the ball again for the next 20 minutes of game play. One official touch in the first half.
Hill ran the ball twice in this game, one more time than Charcandrick West. Hill was also returning kicks. Hill had plays designed for him, but also worked as a regular wide receiver. Kansas City is showing different ways they want to get Tyreek the ball. On two basic pass plays, Hill nearly took the short throws and outran everyone for a TD. He is arguably the most dangerous player in the entire NFL with the ball.
Gabriel has some plays set for him, but not like Hill. Gabriel did not run the ball in this game. Gabriel has run the ball well the past 3–4 games. He has three carries the past few weeks – runs of 15-11-27 (17.0 yards per carry). With that stellar track record, Atlanta did not think to run the ball with Gabriel in this game. Gabriel got nothing as a runner here. Hill has the same record of success running the ball – and the first play of the game was an innovative running play for him. On several occasions, Hill came across in motion for a possible hand-off/fake hand-off to throw the defense off. Defenses fear Hill. Defenses have to just keep tabs on Gabriel. Hill is used as a primary weapon by KC. Gabriel is a special golf club the Falcons leave in the bag too much because they forget they have it on too many occasions.
The Eric Berry pick-six in this game was a traditional, medium-deep pass to Gabriel where he was completely covered.
Taylor Gabriel is a poor man’s version of Tyreek Hill. The glaring difference, and why we had Hill as the #1 dynasty stash WR weeks ago before his big breakout – KC is using Hill on purpose and Hill is working like a real WR, plus he’s a notorious big-play speedster threat on bubble screens, etc. Gabriel just gets the big-play, speedster treatment.
The fantasy opportunity here is that most people see Hill and Gabriel about the same. ‘Little speedsters’. Gimmicks. If Hill didn’t have 3 TDs on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago, he’d be a fringe WR3 for the masses. Not startable for many for fantasy. People don’t really believe in Hill. I think Hill has much more in the tank. The way KC is using him is great, but they’re still only scratching the surface.
This is a great week to make a trade for Hill in dynasty if you can. Weak fantasy numbers this week after ‘awesome’ a few weeks ago. Fantasy experts are equivocating him as a gimmick. What you think of Taylor Gabriel is what most think of Hill. I think you can get Hill for a WR2.5 valuation. I think you want in on Hill. Play up Jeremy Maclin returning – because that’s what the fantasy talking heads are saying/worried about.
You still have opportunities to get in on Hill reasonably in some leagues – this week is one of the better opportunities remaining. He’s going to be a starting WR for you in fantasy in 2017. He’s a fantasy starter every week now in 2016 for the ROS.
No sense rehashing how right I was and how far ahead on Tyreek Hill. I just want to note — I’m already seeing him on 20127 bust lists and ‘time to trade’ lists. Deals can still be had.
— Julio Jones (7-113-0/9 targets) had a nice game versus the Chiefs. I would say he had a nice game versus Marcus Peters (1 tackle, 1 PD), but that would be a lie. The Chiefs never really put Peters on Julio that much. Of course, once the Falcons saw that,Matt Ryan went to work right away. When Peters was on Julio…Ryan avoided it like the plague. I really don’t understand what Kansas City was doing in coverage…but, hey, they won.
Chiefs CB Steven Nelson (6 tackles 1 PD) was on Julio a lot. And when Nelson was on someone else…that receiver saw targets. Nelson is getting picked on…and thus he has 6.3 tackles, 1.0 PDs per game his past three games. Nelson has 8 PDs is in his last five games (1.6 per). He has 11 PDs in his last nine games (1.2 per).
— I love Spencer Ware (14-29-1, 3-23-1), and he got out to such a great start to this season…and all that has blinded me to the fact that his numbers have been pretty pedestrian the past five games. I don’t see anything different physically or anything of concern – besides this offense is head-scratching to me a lot of times.
Ware has just one 100+ yard rushing game this season. He should have much more. He had 7 catches opening day, and then 1–3 receptions in all games since. He’s underutilized in the passing game since his hot start. Ware was racking a bunch of 100+ total yardage days early on this season, but he’s not hit that mark the past five games.
Thank goodness Ware cashed in on two TDs in this game to help push many in FFM-land to critical victories this past week. Ware has just three rushing TDs this season – that’s pathetic, and not because of Ware.
My system analysis always pushes Ware as a high-end RB1 in PPR. The fact is, lately, he’s not been an RB1. Just a nice RB2. In my mind, he’s RB1 on potential each game. He gets the touches. He is the man. The Oakland matchup is awesome this week. His only 100+ yard rushing game this year was against the Raiders.
I’m still mystified of how hot Ware was to start 2016 and then watched as the Chiefs throttled him back. I still think Ware can be in the RB1 argument. He could be a hell of a pass game threat. Still untapped.
— Thanks, Mohamed Sanu (2-26-0/3 targets)! After several weeks of high targeting and nice output, I get this. Hell, in an early trip to the red zone, Sanu and Julio came out for Aldrick Robinson and Justin Hardy. OK. I guess that’s a way to play it by the Falcons…confuse the defense by removing your starters and putting in your backups.
I always get burned by Sanu for fantasy. I’m done. If he succeeds from here it won’t be with me.
— The Falcons DST the next two weeks – versus Jared Goff and Colin Kaepernick(?). Since losing their top corner, Desmond Trufant, the Falcons held the Cardinals to 19 points (and some of that garbage points) and this week KC posted 29 points, but deduct a pick-six, a fake punt TD, and a pick-two (off the conversion attempt)…KC had 2 TDs offensively otherwise.
All not-Denver defenses stink right now. Atlanta is less smelly than most with two cherry matchups the next two weeks. And they held those next two opponents to 14 and 13 points respectively.
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