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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.
Falcons 45 Saints 32, Atlanta now 2-1 record overall
Most games in a season I will watch live to whatever degree, sometimes nine games at once on a Sunday, but then during the week I’ll watch them again for study purposes. This was a game I only watched once. I watched the presidential debate, and then I watched this game into the wee hours of the morning. (insert sarcastic tone here) I’m so glad I did… This was a complete and utter train wreck. I don’t think I learned anything except for the fact that Sean Payton should be run out of New Orleans on a rail.
I spent the whole game thinking three things…
1: How bad are the New York Giants? They could not produce an offensive touchdown versus the Saints – at New York last week.Apparently, not that bad…
2: Did anyone tell Julio Jones this was an actual NFL game, one that he was supposed to participate in? I know he’s usually napping between 1 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, but he must’ve slept in on Monday night. *One catch for 16 yards on 7 targets
3: Is Sean Payton aware of the fact that Brandin Cooks is really good? I don’t think he is. *Two catches for 13 yards on 8 targets. The beginning of something that would boil over mid and late season. We just didn’t fully realize it at the time.
— I’m not even sure what to do with my notes here. I can’t read much into the Falcons’ performance because the Saints played the game as if they were only allowed nine players on defense. This was as piss poor a defensive performance as I’ve seen all year. Apologies to the Raiders Week 1 versus the Saints.
You’d think I’d be celebrating, after all…I did call Tevin Coleman (12-42-3, 3-47-0/3 targets) as our major upside running back of the week. I feel embarrassed to take credit for it. I could’ve run for 200 yards and three touchdowns last night. Wait…that’s too cliché, too easy. Let me try that again… I feel so embarrassed for taking credit for the Coleman call this week because even Eddie Lacy could’ve run for 200 yards and three touchdowns last night.
Devonta Freeman (14-152-0, 5-55-1/5 targets) posted 200+ total yards. Tevin Coleman rushed for three TDs. He could’ve had four or five. It was beyond an embarrassment by the Saints. I can’t believe this is the same Saints defense, injuries and all, that shut down the Giants the prior week. How do you get outplayed in your home opener against the Falcons on MNF?
I will say this about the Atlanta running back situation – it’s going to be safe sledding all year. The Falcons are a running back-based offense. They either throw to Julio Jones or rely on the running backs (run or pass). Coleman and Freeman can coexist for fantasy purposes, but you know I like Coleman better. There is no room for any other wide receiver except Julio. Sorry, Mohamed Sanu (3-31-0/4 targets), but you’re the one that signed to play here.
Don’t fear using Coleman, and don’t fear using Freeman week-to-week. Coleman is the preferred. If you watched this game, you saw what I’ve spoken of going back to the preseason – Coleman is on another level right now. However, they’re going to use both these guys, so if one gets hot – that’s going to be ‘the guy’ that week. Most weeks it will be Coleman. In terms of fantasy, Coleman has won three weeks in a row over Freeman…and that’s not a slap at Freeman.
I would soon lose my mind as the season wore on and Coleman faded into the background for more Freeman in most games. After three weeks Coleman was trending as an RB1 for fantasy. You’ve seen it with your own two eyes in the playoffs — Coleman is the superior talent. Not to Atlanta he isn’t. If Atlanta beats the Patriots Sunday — I bet it is because Coleman was the MVP.
— I’m about to become hostile on Julio Jones (1-16-0/7 targets). I’m not coming from a place of ‘angry holder of Julio Jones‘. He was one of our top ‘sell high’ dynasty players in our dynasty stash and strategy reports last season.
Who would you rather have? Odell Beckham storming around the sidelines, getting into fights with kicking nets on the sideline (and losing), and crying after losses – or Julio Jones with the face of droopy dog sleepwalking around the field every week?
I get that Julio is a superstar, but as I maintain back to our 2016 draft guide – among all the superstar choices for fantasy…Julio’s not the one I want.
I’ll display it again. Julio Jones had 6 TDs in 2016. His last four seasons of TD production: 2-6-8-6. How is this just assumed super-stardom/best in class among WRs?
— I do want Brandin Cooks (2-13-0/8 targets). I own a lot of Brandin Cooks’ stock. Brandin Cooks is not sleepwalking through games, he’s just being sent deep as a decoy on and off during the season, and it pisses me off to no end. If you’re getting walloped in a game, and you need to score fast – I think a bubble screen or two to Cooks might be in order. So what does Sean Payton do – gets the ball several times to freaking Tommy Lee Jones or whoever the hell that little guy is that Sean Payton is so smitten with. Geez, I’m shocked the Saints lost featuring Coby Fleener, Michael Thomas, and the illustrious Tommylee Lewis…the guy plays a hell of the piano and all, but he’s not taking your offense to the next level. Brandin Cooks is incredibly gifted – a weapon, but you needed him as a decoy to unleash 25 whole points on the Atlanta Falcons, at home…in your home opener?
For about two weeks, Tommylee Lewis was ‘a thing’ for some people. He disappeared after about Week 6. In this game, he got more touches than Cooks…and ‘shocker’ the Saints lost.
— Michael Thomas (7-71-1-/11 targets) and Brandon Coleman (7-78-0/8 targets) are surely to make some waiver wire list somewhere. I wouldn’t touch either of them. This is more about Willie Snead being out than the uprising of either of these two. I’m not a fan of either Thomas or Coleman, but I know they’re decent; they’re just not going to be targeted over Cooks and Snead on a regular basis.
Michael Thomas would go on to have more catches and TDs this seaosn than Julio Jones did…
I’m not a Thomas fan, but if the Saints keep Cooks and use him as the decoy…it will be another nice season. If Cooks gets traded — Thomas is going to flop as a #1, you watch.
— Craig Robertson (11 tackles) continues his hot linebacker play – now averaging 11.7 tackles per game, with double-digit tackles in all three games this season. *He finished 16th among all linebackers in total tackles this season.
— With injuries hitting the Falcons’ linebackers, Sean Weatherspoon (10 tackles, 1 TFL) has posted 9 and 10 tackles respectively the last two weeks. One of our IDP advisors has been pointing him out, but I was reluctant to bite on him because I thought he looked horrible in Arizona last year…thus he got cut by the Cardinals, but apparently he’s revitalized…or just getting a lot of tackles opportunities. Either way, it works for IDP.
He got hurt the next week and was done for the year…
— Don’t look now, but Nick Fairley (7 tackles, 1.5 sacks) is revitalizing his career in New Orleans. He had a career-high seven tackles in this game – it tied a career-high he set in 2012. Each week, his output rises a little more. Someone to watch out for – he is a deep sleeper on the D-Line suddenly.
Fairley was #5 among all DTs in sacks in 2016. #17 in total tackles among DTs.