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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.
Seahawks 26, Falcons 24 — Atlanta falls to (4-2), but held up well in this test AT Seattle. It also struck me — Seattle beat both New England and Atlanta this season. You wonder why I go nuts saying Seattle had the best overall team in the NFL…and they were coached down — this is another reason why.
When I was watching this game live, I was pulling for Seattle – not only because I bet on Seattle, but because I’ve made up (in my mind) that Seattle is ready to rise and Atlanta is primed to fall. That’s the tape that has been recorded in my brain. So when I watched this live, and Seattle jumped out to a 17–3 lead, I felt righteous in my beliefs. The fact that Seattle had to scramble at the end to win was just a minor detail.
When I re-watched this game, I slowed it down and really watched it more than I have most any game this season. I was trying to observe Russell Wilson, and why he didn’t have a TD pass. I was trying to figure out what happened to Doug Baldwin. I was trying to figure out why Atlanta decided not to use Tevin Coleman in this game. Most every fantasy loss I suffered in Week 6 was centered in this game – Wilson, Baldwin, Coleman all statistical duds.
But here’s the thing after watching/studying this game — the Falcons should’ve won. I don’t mean that from the obvious standpoint that they had the lead late, and Seattle came from behind, somewhat improbably, to win. I mean Atlanta was the better team…at Seattle…in the rain. Some of that mindset change is because I undervalued Atlanta – they are better than my mind perceived going in, but there’s another hard truth to swallow – Seattle isn’t all that great.
Look at me learn…six weeks in.
Seattle delivered the first punch early, taking a 17–3 lead at halftime. Their first score set up by a gift fumble that left Seattle on the Falcons’ 9-yard line. Seattle had the momentum, and the home crowd rolling early. A ‘dominant’ Seattle team, leading 17–3 at halftime, should have put away Atlanta from there. And if the Falcons were such a flimsy team, as I wanted to believe, they certainly wouldn’t have come out in the second half and dropped 21 straight points on Seattle in the third quarter. There were no real gifts, Atlanta just put their foot up Seattle’s ass.
Because Russell Wilson is really good, with eight minutes left he drove his team down for the game tying TD – but the kicker missed the extra point. 24–23 Atlanta with 4+ minutes left. The Falcons began their drive with Matt Ryan hitting Julio Jones on a wide-open slant, but Julio bobbled the ball up into the air, leading to an easy interception – which ultimately led to a field goal, and the win for Seattle.
I walked away from this game believing Atlanta is very formidable. I still don’t see ‘great’, but they’re definitely good/worthy…better than I wanted to see. I walked away from this game thinking Seattle is a better version of Indianapolis — if it wasn’t for their quarterback being brilliant, this team would be in last place in their division, and coaches would be getting fired. If Seattle ever upgrades at offensive coordinator they will change the face of football. For now, they’re still stuck on trying to run the ball too much – but they have no running backs to work with. They’re fitting a square peg in a round hole. Last year, they abandoned the run-first mindset in the second half, and Russell Wilson was epic. Seattle is back to their old ways of trying to win by flexing their running game muscle, and it’s not working. More on that in a moment.
Seattle has beaten Miami (luckily), the Jets, the 49ers and now another lucky win vs. Atlanta at home. I’m not impressed with Seattle. The Seattle in my mind is a lot better than the one of the field.
This was the early signs of my divorce with Seattle. I still wasn’t focused enough on Atlanta.
— I don’t even know where to begin to discuss all the disappointing FFM performances in this game, so let’s start randomly withTevin Coleman (5-10-0, 1-7-0/2 targets)…
Going into the game, Coleman lead all NFL running backs in receiving yards. He just came off a game in Denver where he basically won the team the game off his stellar receiving skills – working almost like a wide receiver. To me, Coleman is by far their best pure running back, and he’s obviously their best receiver out of the backfield. The reason why Atlanta probably lost this game was because they didn’t bother with Coleman in this game. He barely touched the ball.
Honestly, this was the most jarring thing that happened to me in fantasy this week, besides watching Big Ben limping off the field. I can live with receivers like Doug Baldwin not having a big game, because we’re starting to live in an era where the top wide receivers just have randomly high and low weeks anymore. But for Coleman to be so good for the first five weeks of the season, and then basically get pissed on this game in favor of Devonta Freeman (12-40-0, 3-10-0/5 targets), who really didn’t do much with his status in this game, I don’t get it – but now it makes me worried that I rushed in too fast after Coleman last week.
Note — the prior two weeks I had been aggressively pushing trades for Coleman on the cheap…thinking he had a low floor and high ceiling. And that people were ignoring what he had already accomplished within the season.
Relevant sidebar: Where I have Lamar Miller, I want to trade him for a top running back — because I don’t believe in Miller (I was right), and I want to take advantage of his big Sunday night performance. So I set out to write down the names of a few RBs I’d like to leverage Miller up into. Here’s the problem… there aren’t any war horse running backs left. No one’s trading David Johnson, DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy or Le’Veon Bell. They are great talents. They’re performing very well. No one is trading something that’s performing very well. Lamar Miller is not really buying me into those guys, unless I can add a second great player to it to it…that’s not the bargain I was looking for. After those top RBs, I look at the list of top guys and there’s nothing – I don’t want Melvin Gordon or CJ Anderson or Mark Ingram or Devonta Freeman, etc., I’m kind of stuck with Lamar Miller.
All that to say, the reason why I wanted to acquire Tevin Coleman as cheap as I could last week is twofold:
(1) He’s a talent. After the obvious RBs, the running backs who I see that are just on another level compared to the cluster of RB2s are Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman. Seeing Coleman used like a wide receiver, and knowing he’s a special runner, not an’ A+’, but a solid ‘B+’ – I felt last week was the time to strike because most people see him as basically a handcuff to Freeman. He is a top talent at RB – I know it. I can feel it/see it. But Atlanta didn’t, and to be fair he got hurt and missed some time.
(2) Just as big a reason why I made a move on Coleman – what the hell else is there at running back? After the top five guys, there’s like 15–20 random event guys. I believe Coleman has the talent to break through to be an RB1 because of his receiving skills for PPR. (Again…he finished just outside the top 12 RBs in PPG in both PPR and nonPPR. He was a lot better than many of us believe.)
After seeing this non-usage game, I’m rattled…but I’m not deterred on Coleman. Where I was unable to make a deal for him last week, I’m going right back after him this week – and the price is going to be even cheaper. I believe most people see Tevin Coleman as an RB3 today. In a 10 team, friends and family type of league, someone might actually even cut Coleman for like a Jay Ajayi type. I say that to establish some value – now is even a better time to take a cheap gamble on Coleman. I’m not guaranteeing Coleman — because who knows what the Falcons will do in their lust for the less-talented Devonta Freeman, as they pine away for a repeat of that amazing four-game stretch from 2015 (possibly my most prophetic statement of 2016…or top 20), but I want a cheap ticket on Coleman being fine for PPR in a split role, but also possibly taking the whole thing over as the lead back. The price for Coleman in many leagues today is unbelievably low – you should capitalize on it. What the hell else is there out there, anyway?
Valuations and Trends:
*YTD PPR PPG: 16.2 Coleman, 15.5 Freeman
*Coleman trade acquisition value – RB2.5-3.0 is the target. He is one step from being dropped in some leagues. If his current owner loves him – you won’t make a reasonable deal, walk away.
*Coleman catches in games this season, starting with Week 1: 5-2-3-3-4-1. Total yards: 117-71-89-33-164-17. The prior trends say Coleman just as valuable/better to have started than Freeman…not in this game.
*Freeman has rushed for one 100+ yard game this season, his only time in his past 14 games. He has 7 TDs in those past 14 games. Coleman has 5 TDs this season.
— The Doug Baldwin (4-31-0/5 targets) price continues to collapse. People didn’t believe in Baldwin that much to begin with, and now he’s putting up fantasy duds on top of it. He’s slipping into WR 2.5–3.0 valuation (to the masses) territory quickly.
All I can say is — what a great opportunity to buy even cheaper. The guy is a #1 wide receiver for his team working with a quarterback who has finished in the top three for fantasy in the past two seasons. Seattle has shown the ability to flip a switch in the pass game, and Doug Baldwin is Wilson’s favorite wide receiver. Baldwin’s going to pay off more than he doesn’t. You just have to be patient. Odell Beckham had a stretch of mediocrity. Julio Jones has had several disappointments this season.DeAndre Hopkins has fallen off the face of the earth. Alshon Jeffrey isn’t even the top wide receiver on his team anymore.Demaryius Thomas has had a few disappointments. All the big-name wide receivers are going into a random up-and-down performance pattern. The days of one guy seeing all the targets no matter what – those days are ending. Aside from Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, you’re hard-pressed to find guys who see all the targets, but also convert them into big fantasy numbers every week.
If you want to buy into a good passing game’s top wide receiver — Doug Baldwin is on sale yet again.
He finished the season as a WR1.
Valuations and Trends:
*Baldwin’s catch totals this season, starting from Week 1: 9-3-8-4-4 (5.6 catches per game).
*Baldwin has had less than 55 yards receiving in a game in three of his last 4 games.
*This game marks the first time Baldwin has gone two games with a TD in his last 15 games.
*Baldwin has slipped to 7.2 targets per game this season, putting him even with Pierre Garcon, and just behind Quincy Enunwa.
*I trade for Baldwin as a WR3 value. He’ll be being given away in some senses this week.
— The Seattle run game may help raise the Seattle pass volume. The Seahawks really cannot run the ball like they want to.Christine Michael (18-64-2, 3-19-0/3 targets) is not a ‘taking a team to the Super Bowl’ type of running back. BUT two touchdowns this week!! So, am I supposed to go get John Kuhn when he gets three short TD opportunities in a week? Melvin Gordon has a bunch of touchdowns this season and he’s the worst running back in the NFL. I’m looking at the tape and the results – and this was another low yards per carry game for Christine Michael as a heavy usage running back.
On the first drive at this game, on 3rd & 2, Michael got the call and got stuffed for a -4-yard run. Part of the issue is Seattle has blocking issues in the run game, but that’s been the case for two years – but Thomas Rawls suddenly, magically made everything all better for a stretch. Some of the issue is the O-Line, but some of it is Michael is not a lead running back. There was later a key 3rd & 1 in the third quarter, as the Falcons had pulled back the momentum away from Seattle, and Pete Carroll decided to run Michael for the first down. Michael ran off left-tackle, and you could see the first down was there if he burst away from trouble and gone to the outside. Instead he cut inside right into a wall of tacklers – terrible instincts. Most top NFL running backs would have shifted away from trouble knowing where the first-down line was. Other running backs would have used their mass to try to push through the wall for that extra yard. Michael ran straight right into a tackler, and was collapsed to the ground for no gain, and another Seattle dead drive/punt. Michael, I think, cost Seattle at least two drives in this game.
It may seem like I’m unfairly picking on Christine Michael, for weeks, because he’s been a solid revelation for fantasy. I’m telling you all this negative stuff because I see it clear as day… I don’t want you to get caught when Seattle cold replaces him. Best case scenario, he’s a part of a split backfield – which will be terrible for his FF-value. Whether a split or replaced, either of those things happen – and his value is going to plummet. Today, most fantasy analysts are jumping on Michael as the savior of the Seattle backfield. The guy with the great measurables. The guy who finally gets it. The guy who is so good he is going to bump Thomas Rawls no matter what. I’m telling you it’s not going to happen, unless all of his challengers are hurt, and Seattle is forced to have to roll with him.
There are three challengers you have to worry about coming up for Michael. I’ve recently described what’s going to happen the Michael in terms of the biblical rapture – one moment everyone is eating and drinking, and being merry…and in the blink of an eye it’s all gone. Over. That’s what’s going to happen to Christine Michael’s fantasy value in the next few weeks, I believe. Everything’s great now, and then he’s part of a split or becomes a change of pace back – and all of his value goes down the drain in an instant.
Was I right or was I right? Was anyone else in football analysis predicting this?
The three challengers to CM’s touches on the horizon…
(1) if I owned Christine Michael, I’d be scared to death when Seattle says C.J. Prosise is ready to play, and they put him as active on game day. I haven’t seen enough of Prosise in the pros to be fully confident, but I suspect he’s better than Michael in every way – he’s bigger all around, he’s fast, he runs with some shiftiness and power. He reminds me of Matt Forte as a runner, and being an ex-wide receiver he works in the pass game. Once Prosise can go, he’s going to get touches. If he starts flashing with those touches – this RB1 ‘fantasy’ with Michael is over. They’ll be ‘hot-handing’ with each other. I expect Prosise to be active in Week 7 or Week 8.
(2) Once Prosise becomes a threat, it might be a week or two after that where Thomas Rawls is ready to go. I’m a skeptic that Rawls will play this year, but the fact that Seattle has not put him on I.R. yet leads me to believe there is some kind of hope. If Rawls can go, he’s coming right back to his starting role. His first week back, he’s probably just splitting touches with Michael…and Prosise.
What kind of value are you going to have with Michael in Week 10, let’s say, if Prosise is getting touches and Rawls is knocking the rust off with touches too? How in the world is Michael going to be the featured guy while those guys sit and watch? It’s not going to happen.
(3) Lurking around in the shadows is the rookie out of Arkansas Alex Collins (1-2-1, 1-9-0/1 target). I don’t believe Alex Collins is a feature running back talent either, but he’s definitely a more physical runner than anyone who is active for Seattle right now. Every week, I see a little bit more of Collins being slipped into the game in key spots.
I forgot #4…outright cut soon after I wrote this!!!
Valuations and Trends:
*There is momentum picking up on Michael that he will be the starter for Seattle indefinitely. The fantasy community is rallying to Michael – he has a strong RB2, maybe even RB1.5 value to trade right now. I take Jerick McKinnon or Jordan Howard for him in a blink. *This was before Jordan Howard became ‘Jordan Howard’.
— IDP Vic Beasley had 3.5 sacks in Week 5 vs. Denver, and everyone wondered if he had now arrived. I believed the fault lie withPaxton Lynch, and some problems on the Denver O-Line. This week, Beasley had three tackles and no sacks, no QB hits. That’s typical Vic Beasley, I hate to say. No follow through this week. *He was about to have a bunch of follow through…