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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.
Chargers 33, Atlanta 30 in OT — Two losses in a row for Atlanta, falling to (4-3)
A nice role reversal game for the San Diego Chargers, as they got down quickly, and then clawed their way back to win a game they probably shouldn’t have. It’s usually the reverse. The Chargers normally jump out to big leads, and then inexplicably lose the game late.
The whole time I’m watching this game, I’m wondering if I’m watching two of the better teams in the NFL at work…seriously. Both have top offenses, but I’m starting to believe they both have two of the better up-and-coming defenses as well. More on that in a moment.
I think both teams are making the playoffs this year, and you don’t want to play either of them. Get this – after Week 8, I would not be surprised if San Diego were to be favored in all their remaining games. Between ease of schedule and final division games at home vs. OAK and KC, San Diego is headed to 9+ wins this season…or someone deserves to be fired for the 100th time.
San Diego swung to a 3-4 record with this win, and were on the rise — defeating Denver and Atlanta back-to-back. You could have argued the Chargers should have been 6-1 or 5-2 at this point. They lost the following week and failed all the way to the finish and cleaned out the coaching staff at season’s end…rightfully, so.
Atlanta has a tougher road – GB, at PHI, ARI, KC, at LA among their final games. We’re projecting them to 9.5 wins, and the odds-on favorite to win the division today. And that was correct.
— Let’s just talk about these two defenses for a moment…
You probably know I’ve been a fan of the Chargers as an upstart/future/on-the-rise defense for the NFL/fantasy since last year. I set aside much of that enthusiasm once shutdown corner Jason Verrett was lost for the season. When the Chargers lost Verrett, I think they lost any chance they had at a backdoor run to the Super Bowl.…that’s how critical Verrett was. However, this is still a pretty good defense without him. Rookie Joey Bosa (5 tackles, 2.0 sacks) is proving he can rush the passer, or at least catch him when someone else flushes him out. Rookie Jatavis Brown (2 tackles) instantly became one of the most complete linebackers in the NFL, once forced by injuries into the starting role. Casey Hayward (6 tackles, 1 PD), a free-agent signing in the off-season, has filled in nicely in Verrett’s absence. The Chargers are not a great defense without Verrett, but they’re still a pretty decent one. One that might be usable as a streaming DST option the rest of the season.
On the other side of the field, I’m starting to believe the Falcons defense is finally ’emerging’. It was the same old same old Falcons’ defense for the first three or four weeks of the 2016 season, and then out of nowhere, they became sack-happy against the Denver Broncos – manhandling Denver at Denver…including six sacks. They had more sacks in that game than I think they had all of last season. Atlanta has been an NFL joke at getting to the quarterback. Suddenly, in Week 5 they couldn’t not get to Paxton Lynch. The following week in Seattle, the Falcons were solid, but not as terrific as they were against Denver. After a so-so performance versus Seattle, it was easy enough to write off Atlanta as just fortunate in Week 5 that Paxton Lynch was debuting and that the Denver O-Line was hampered. And then this week here comes the new high-pressure Falcons again — they sacked Rivers 4.0 times.
The Falcons have 15.0 sacks so far this season. Last season, all season, they had just 19.0 sacks.
Vic Beasley (3 tackles, 2 sacks) has turned a corner. On paper, Vic Beasley may be the best physical specimen of a pass-rusher I’ve ever seen. It’s finally going from ‘on paper’ to ‘on field’. I did not believe Deion Jones (7 tackles, 1 PD) could be an inside linebacker of note in the NFL, but here he is succeeding. Our scouting models thought De’Vondre Campbell (10 tackles, 1.5 TFLs) was OK, but when I saw him in the preseason – I realized he was better than OK. He’s a really nice addition to the team. Desmond Trufant (1 tackles, 1 PD) is trying to be a shutdown corner. He’s not there yet, but he’s very good. I’m not a huge Keanu Neal (9 tackles, 1 TFL) fan, but I see he’s racking tackles at this point. I’m still seeing too many plays where I can see Neal’s name on his jersey because he’s turned around three steps behind a running back who’s going deep on a wheel route, or behind a tight end who’s just faster than him, but, apparently, the Falcons think a lot of him.
The Falcons have a young upstart foundation that seems to be gelling. I would not hold giving up 33 points to arguably the top NFL offense (San Diego), in overtime, against them.
Atlanta’s defense would continue to improve while San Diego’s started crumbling due to injury and just poor coaching from Week 8 on.
Schedules ahead (Weeks 8–16)…
San Diego: DEN-TEN-MIA-BYE-HOU-TB-CAR-OAK-CLE
Valuations and Trends…
*San Diego defense – #8 in rushing yards per game allowed, #24 in pass yards allowed, #4 in INTs (8), #9 in most sacks…#11 in FF PPG.
*Atlanta defense – #9 in rushing yards per game allowed, #31 in pass yards allowed, #14 in most sacks (were #32 last season)…#18 in FF PPG.
*Before Jatavis Brown became a starter, the Chargers allowed 322 yards per game passing (3 games). Since Jatavis became a starter (and Bosa joined a week later), the Chargers have allowed just 241.8 yards passing per game – to Brees, Carr, Siemian, and M. Ryan.Not too soon after this, Brown would get hurt and the Chargers would start to tailspin.
*In his first 20 NFL games, Vic Beasley had 5.0 sacks. In his last three games, he has 5.5 sacks. He faces a top O-Line in green Bay in Week 8.
— I just have to mention this because it’s frustrating me that it’s frustrating you – our grand excitement over Tevin Coleman (8-64-1, 1-10-0/1 target) a couple weeks ago…
Coleman took this game over from the jump. He was almost unstoppable as the main-carry guy this week. He had a terrific 30-yard TD run, but soon after came up gimpy with a hamstring issue. He would have to miss the rest of the game, and likely will miss Week 8. I have a M*A*S*H unit going in fantasy.
Even in this partial game, Coleman outscored Devonta Freeman (15-58-0, 5-42-0/6 targets) in non-PPR, and fell a point short in PPR. Coleman is a serious talent…that’s all I know.
Valuations and Trends…
*Despite a nothing game in Week 6, and missing 75% of a game in Week 7, Tevin Coleman is #11 in fantasy PPG in non-PPR formats. Four spots ahead of Devonta Freeman.
*I’m acquiring Coleman in the next two weeks, since he’ll miss this week…at an RB3 acquisition value if I can. I’ll stick him on my bench and wait a few weeks, where I can.
— Tyrell Williams (7-140-0/10 targets)…I mean, are you serious? Can anyone have a quieter 140-yards game? He should have had 200+ yards in this game. San Diego still is not throwing the ball to him enough.
Rest assured, the Chargers did get ‘Mr. no yards per carry‘ (Melvin Gordon) 22 carries/28 touches. It’s like the NFL has a disease where coaches refuse to get their playmakers the ball. Only Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick have figured this out. Everyone else loves their clever playbooks and misdirections. If coaches admit it’s all about the players, then their ‘scratching plays on notebooks since the 7th-grade’ existence is not as important.
Anyone could design a bubble screen…or a swing pass to a mismatched RB versus a linebacker. There are only a few teams that make that a centerpiece of their offense…others just dabble in it.
Today, I was asked about the quiet dismissal of Tyrell Williams’ 2016 so far in the fantasy offseason. No one is talking about him and no one (outside of FFM-land) is excited about his future. Please remember the following, and you can apply this rule liberally to hit many players…
If you are a player that was not beloved/rated highly by draft analysts and/or didn’t go to the right school (Ohio State, Florida State, Clemson, Alabama…whatever is en vogue at the time)…you cannot be trusted. You WILL be on next year’s ‘likely to disappoint in fantasy’ — just like David Johnson in the 2016 offseason. Some analysts at ESPN were projecting Chris Johnson as the Arizona starter into August 2016.
Tyrell Williams was undrafted out of Western Oregon…so no one saw him coming, except for…well…you know. He must be torn down like a Trump cabinet selection — not on merit, but for the protection of the establishment. We cannot have players the experts didn’t all glom onto like a bunch of sheep being successful without an expert’s anointing!
I can tell you key players headed towards the ‘disappoint list’ this summer for fantasy 2017 from the experts = Tyrell Williams, Tyreek Hill, Cameron Meredith, Jordan Howard, and maybe Dak Prescott.
Youngsters they’ll love and never question = Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry (their top TE from 2016), Melvin Gordon, Michael Thomas.
It’s just the way it works. It used to just be a theory of mine…now, I know it is fact…once I heard Michael Lombardi express how it happens all the time (on some show a few months ago)…that players are overlooked all the time because of draft status, and the people driving draft status are clueless…but they do influence most NFL personnel war rooms.
All we can do is thank God for their ignorance and take advantage of it for dynasty-fantasy. You start losing confidence when you trust their talk or lack-of on a player more than what your senses and FFM are telling you. Don’t give them that power. Ever.
Valuations and Trends…
*Melvin Gordon’s last five games: 100 carries for 302 yards…3.0 yards per carry. Are you freaking kidding me? YEAHHHH he has eight short-distance rushing TDs!!! YEAHHH!!!