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2020 Week 17: Three Things from Sunday Games
Now, it’s officially over. The 2020 regular season is done.
We didn’t know if there would be a season. Then we wondered ‘how bad’ it might be with game cancellations. In the end, no games were cancelled/not played…a few reschedules, but everything got played. We made it through! We learned about conditional/designated FF-players for potential cancelled/rescheduled games. We watched many RBs of the moment appear to prominence if not just for a week due to COVID. In the end, it was a wild ride – but we made it through.
I will remember this season for three things (besides the COVID scare leading up and into the season)…
1) Diontae Johnson madness…
We had the few games early where Diontae got hurt one play/series in and cost many games that particular week. It happened twice in a span of 2-3 weeks, then he missed a whole game.
Once he returned and stayed healthy and was producing -- then we had the ‘drops’ issue.
Around all the craziness (the injuries, the drops game), Diontae was a top 3 fantasy PPR WR on a PPG basis in the ’normal’ games.
What a crazy roller coaster ride with a guy many of us acquired a lot of in Dynasty 2019 and offseason 2020 and for redraft 2020. He caused some losses, but ultimately more wins…but the early losses really derailed some FF-teams early and they couldn’t recover.
2) Josh Allen’s stunning rise to elite status.
I went into the season betting against Allen, and therefore betting against Stefon Diggs, and therefore betting on Devin Singletary and the Bills-DST to lead their run game-defense approach.
All of it wrong. Like, way wrong.
However, I realized it pretty fast and took a hard turn to acquiring Allen and Diggs (and dumping Singletary) everywhere I could.
If you would have told me in the preseason how many FF-teams I’d be associated with through clients or subscribers that had Allen-Diggs by the end of the season…I would never have believed it.
You don’t want to be wrong like this to start a campaign, BUT…if you identify ‘it’ quickly and take action on it – then you can win. Getting it right for Week 1 is awesome. But getting it right by Week 3 is great/winning too.
3) The most likely FFM tale of the typical 2020 FF-season is:
…slow start, bad start (Diontae, Marvin Jones, Higbee among the culprits) and then some of the most amazing win streaks I’ve ever seen in fantasy from Weeks 5-6 on – getting people to the FF playoffs and then many kept rolling right through.
FFM teams took the unenviable GPS map route of slow start, and then Rocketship ride straight line to the finish. Some took that fantastical ride all the way to the title. Some fell a game short. Some couldn’t maneuver out of the slow start and virtually gave up on their teams too early, which was a huge mistake as I preached against. But most stayed the course and have a story to tell, an education for the future – don’t panic into a slow start because we can recover.
All the work I do year-round on football scouting and statistical analysis – I can wriggle our way out of bad or unlucky starts. It takes time and patience and some bold maneuvers, and that’s easier said than done – but it can be done.
My greatest lesson of 2020: Trust the process…trust the scouting. When the scouting/game changes (like with Josh Allen), act upon it…trust the scouting/trust my senses. When we get to the BYE weeks of the NFL, the middle of the season, our depth/actions will beat their lack of depth and inaction.
It’s a baseball analogy, but I love this scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane is trying to reeducate players and change the unwritten rules/the axioms of baseball – and it wasn’t easy. Everyone on the outside (and some internally) told him he was a fool. They wanted him fired for what he was doing when they were nearly 10 games out of first place in June of their magical season.
Beane’s REAL culture change message in some small/brief clips from the Moneyball movie: https://youtu.be/642kB411kRc
When many would have bailed/dumped for draft picks…then this really happened to the Oakland A’s, and it will never be duplicated again: https://youtu.be/nK1jtVhimPA?t=6
It culminated with this (the movie version): https://youtu.be/NQXWnH7pre8
This was the real moment: https://youtu.be/nP29Ig9nPNs
Many of you had a nice win streak from Weeks 5-6 on (either 7-8+ wins in a row or won six of 7 or seven of 8, etc.), and you were ready to bail on all of it Weeks 3-4-5.
It’s the great lesson of the 2020 season. You have to have faith in the process…not living under an imaginary dark cloud of your own design, which is the typical thought process of bettors, fantasy players – I’ve done it to myself firsthand and see it all the time in my business now. Billy Beane said (in an earlier clip)…”I hate losing. I hate losing more than I enjoy winning.” I disagree. I understand the sentiment…and it is the predominant one in Fantasy…very much so, but I disagree. I don’t want it to be true of me, but it used to be.
We play fantasy, we joke about how a 50-50 sit-start question and how we know we’re going to get it wrong. I joke about it too. But honestly – I believe in what I’m doing. I go into every week assuming we’re all going to win. Even when the Alvin Kamara event started the title week on Christmas day. I was mad. I pouted. Then I penned the article on how to defeat the Kamara event. I didn’t do it for fun or creating false hope – I was trying to lay out a realistic road map to taking him down. I knew the odds were against it, but I also saw there was a path – and I wanted to play to the path and die on the field trying.
A few of you won titles facing Kamara. Some of you lost anyway. The important part was to keep fighting and deliberating options down to the best kicker upside to try and use in such a situation.
I don’t want to play fantasy to not-lose. I want to love to win, but understand it’s not guaranteed. It’s a lot of random events to try and predict/control. I want to non-arrogantly assume I am going to win week-to-week, and believe I’m going to be the favorite for 2021 in my Dynasty or entering my redraft.
The studies for 2021 begin now…and last for the next 8 months! Hopefully, you’ll join us at College Football Metrics and all the free content on FFM this offseason.
To put the final brush stroke on 2020 regular season, here’s the Week 17 ‘three things’ report from the Sunday games. Once I was finished writing it and once you’re finished reading it – we’re onto 2021 and a journey of discovery until opening day kickoff!!!
Have a blessed 2021 New Year!!!
-- Well, now will come the mild media ‘turn’ on Tua Tagovailoa (35-58 for 361 yards, 1 TDs/3 INTs, 6-28-0).
The media has been propping him up…and outright lying about Tua; lying about how bad he is. It’s a lie, in a sense, not that they know the truth and are keeping it from you. No. It’s a lie that any of them know what they are talking about – they think they know how to scout football things when actually they are worse than generic fans at it, but they act like they are holy because they have football jobs. The fact that Kurt Warner was saying how he’s studied all these QBs and thinks Tua is arguably the best…saying it last Saturday (Week 16) during his NFL Network game coverage – it’s all you need to know. It’s not evil…it’s vapid and incorrect.
No one with a shred of football scouting acumen could look at Tua since his debut and see a potential star, or even a competent NFL QB. The questions/doubt should’ve been raised – but NO ONE in the NFL would raise it. Now, a chunk of ‘the fans’ were starting to bail on Tua a few weeks in – the fans know B.S. when they hear it…like they bailed quick on Sam Darnold being shoved down their throats, while analysts cling to him to this day. Tua, like Darnold with the Jets, will ruin Miami’s franchise for three years before they stop changing O-Cs and/or the head coach or whatever excuse they make trying to ‘fix him’.
Tua, facing a Bills defense playing with half their guys gone and many going through the motions – he could barely complete a pass – unless it was to Buffalo…when the game mattered. Tua added garbage numbers late glossing over how truly bad this was.
-- Miami with Tua in 2021. The Jets possibly with Darnold again. New England with God knows who at QB. The Buffalo Bills are the early favorites for top DST going into 2021. Three picks, 1 defensive TD, 1 special team’s TD off the great Tua in a must win spot for Miami, where the Bills were playing backups a lot.
-- Isaiah McKenzie (2-0-0, 6-65-2/9, 1 PR TD) had himself a day…3 TDs. Is this the sign of a breakout to come?
Just a solid game from a solid #4 WR/return man. He was in the right place at the right time a few times and ‘boom’. Not going to be a starter in 2021 or ever, on purpose, for Buffalo. Solid player though.
-- Before we write Marquise Brown (5-41-2/2) off…6 TDs in his last 6 games now. The problem – 50 or fewer yards in four of those games. 58 catches, 769 yards, 8 TDs for the season is nice but not good enough for a ‘#1 WR’ for fantasy (or the NFL).
I don’t know how it gets any better? Lamar is what he is now…positive and negative.
-- J.K. Dobbins (13-160-2, 0-0-0) looks more like a ‘#1’ at his position than Marquise Brown does.
JKD has 7 rushing TDs in his last 6 games…but there are FF issues lurking:
1) 13 carries in this game…15-11-13-14-11-13 carries in a game the last 6 games as ‘the lead back’. That’s not good enough for RB1 status for FF. Baltimore splits carries between Lamar and two RBs.
2) In the same span he has 7 TDs, Dobbins has just 3 catches. The lack of PPR opportunity for Ravens RBs working with Lamar – it’s a drag (for those in PPR).
A 6-game span with 7 TDs and his FF points in each game (PPR wise)…17-13-11-14-13-28. You got the Week 17 v. CIN pop week, but a lot of 11-14 action for points each game prior…with all games scoring a TD. This is ‘good’ scoring…not ‘great’ scoring. He might deserve the deadly ‘TD dependent’ label.
Dobbins more talented than this…to be split touches with others -- but the offense he plays in, the split touches with another RB…AND Lamar, it kills strong hopes he’s a top RB1 opportunity ahead. There’s hope…but it’s not ‘obvious’. His value may be top 10 RB in fantasy off this hot finish – which I would look, not force, to sell hot if it fell in your lap in Dynasty.
If you think he’s a strong RB1.5-2.0, but someone is offering top 5-6-7 fantasy RB money…you have to stop and think about it. People will calculate his last 6 games and make that his new reality…and equally weighting/really considering a huge Week 17 performance is bad business statistically scouting players.
-- The catch and run Tee Higgins (0-0-0/1) had where he hurt his leg and left the game for good early on (called back due to penalty)…when the play happened live I thought it was Tyler Boyd catching a slant and off to the races, as my mind went – damn, Tyler Boyd is fast. Then I realized it was Tee.
Tee Higgins is way faster, better a WR than I ever gave credit coming out of college. Perhaps, my biggest ‘miss’ of 2020 rookie scouting. The fact that he is going to be with Joe Burrow ahead…is just extra juice in his tank for valuation ahead.
-- The Browns are good/solid, but the fact that they couldn’t put away the Steelers without Ben or Pittsburgh’s other top stars playing is not a good sign from a team that couldn’t beat the Jets in a must-win situation the prior week. The Browns are very lucky they didn’t lose this game. The Browns have been dealing with COIVD issues, but the Steelers gave up on this game on Monday last week…and still, Cleveland barely beat them.
The win takes heat off Baker, somewhat, this offseason. Had the Browns lost, it would’ve been six months of ‘is Baker the guy?’. The media still feels that way, actually they want him gone/done in the NFL (they are just pissed he’s better than THEIR Sam Darnold, so they’re going to try and destroy him) but a Cleveland playoff appearance builds a bit of a moat away from criticism around Baker, mostly, in this offseason. They’ll have to wait ‘til next season to really start attacking him again.
-- Diontae Johnson (3-96-0/4) had some excellent grabs in this game – I mention this because of the struggles Diontae had a few weeks ago, and the massive turn around/rise up he’s made has been fantastic. Much like Davante Adams did years ago.
I keep mentioning the Adams parallel because there are signs Diontae is going to be a top dog like Davante in the future – but the difference is the QB…the stage of life his QB is in to make it happen. Diontae won’t be growing with Ben for much longer because we don’t know how longer we’ll have Ben for.
-- Nick Chubb (14-108-1, 0-0-0/1) returned to action, from his injury, 8 weeks ago and in that span, he ran for 732 yards and 7 TDs with 13 catches for 133 yards.
Double those numbers for a 16-game season: 1,464 rushing yards, 1,740 total yards, 26 catches, and 14 TDs.
Early on Chubb shared too much with Kareem Hunt to be a strong RB1…but Chubb pulled away from Hunt upon his return from injury in the 2020 season. The Browns were (9-3) with Chubb playing in 2020, and (2-2) when he was out.
Chubb’s FF PPG numbers those last/return to action 8 games: 16.13 FF PPG/17.76 PPR PPG…a pace to be #4 in non-PPR, #6 in PPR this season.
-- I had more than one subscriber get off to a slow start this FF season, ‘led’ by a sluggish Marvin Jones (8-180-2/11) out of the gates. The emails to me, swearing off even using FFM again, were also ‘led’ by how terrible Marvin Jones was, and how stupid the preseason pick was (I went heavy Marvin rounds 7-11) in redrafts and Best Ball in 2020.
Well, Jones has scored 8 TDs his last 10 games and been a WR1 in that time frame. Slow first 5 weeks…terrific last 10-11 games. So…am I a football fool or not? The scouting crime…the numbers didn’t come in the order we wanted them to? I could be guilty…could be innocent of a football crime?
PPR #24 YTD WR in PPG for Marvin.
PPR #12 WR since Week 6 for Marvin.
The most moneymaking FFM players of 2020? Best Ball players (not allowed to drop/change players on their roster) who were ‘stuck’ with Marvin Jones and T.Y. Hilton early -- and then roared to the finish.
Apologetic emails from the people who emailed to crucify me after Weeks 4-5 = will be zero.
It’s the life that I lead.
Good scouting calls = just good luck to that point, that we know is doomed next week or two.
Bad calls = I’m eternally stupid and shouldn’t be in the football business.
-- The most shocking QB1 (PPR basis) of 2020 (#11)? Kirk Cousins (28-40 for 405 yards, 3 TDs/0 INT, 5-1-1) capping a nice FF season with a gem Week 17. Any reason why he won’t be a QB1 threat in 2021? I bet we’ll all bet against it happening…
-- Justin Jefferson (9-133-0/12) went for the ride with Kirk Cousins…a terrific rookie season by JJ. He’s better than I scouted but also a beneficiary of being in the right spot at the right time. JJ is nice, but he’s not more talented than Chase Claypool, among the rookie WRs, not even close.
However, Jefferson does have the edge that at least his coach is aware Jefferson is really good. Claypool’s head coach likes Chase as a special teamer as he watched him explode to start the season…and then benched him preemptively for the dreaded/mythical/BS ‘rookie wall’.
How come Jefferson or CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy (among others) didn’t hit a rookie wall?
Draft status means everything.
Claypool will probably get moved to tight end or outside linebacker this offseason, because Mike Tomlin is Anthony Lynn-bad at judging/using offensive talent.
-- Once again…Gore and Perine out means Ty Johnson (11-45-0, 2-23-0/2) gets the lead guy push, and looks better than Gore or Perine -- and then Josh Adams (11-47-1, 2-12-0/2) outproduces him despite a secondary role.
Hope for Adams for the future? Absolutely not. He’s buried in the NFL…the 4th-string RB on the Jets is like the 8th-string RB on other teams. Sad what NFL teams are going to run with while Adams gets ignored.
-- Denzel Mims (1-15-0/2) gets one catch in a Week 17 game working with terrible Sam Darnold. How are we supposed to get excited about Mims for 2021+, I ask again? It’s a shame how much the ‘stink’ of the Jets destroys players.
-- Devin Asiasi (2-39-1/3) had his best game of 2020, and first TD. What I saw live, and what I’ve seen this season – I don’t see anything to consider for 2021+.
-- Daniel Jones (17-25 for 229 yards, 2 TD/1 INT, 9-17-0) seems to have solidified his starter status for NYG for 2021…which means every receiver except Sterling Shepard (8-112-1/10, 2-24-1) is screwed…and Shepard will likely be his typical self – erratic/inconsistent PPR top 25 WR.
-- An entire season/16 games played…can someone explain to me how CeeDee Lamb (5-43-0/7) is a generational talent? Did you watch football in 2020? I’m not sure he’s one of the top 3-5 best WRs of his rookie class…much less ‘generational’. He’s good, might be really good for FF as we go – but a top WR talent. No.
In hindsight…how ridiculously off was the #1-2-3 picks of Ruggs-Jeudy-Lamb among WRs in the 2020 NFL Draft? None of them were in my top 3…or top 5 rated/graded WR prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft…some of them not even in the top 10 among the WR class. I win at scouting, again.
You are not special just because you went to Alabama – just think how poorly Tua and Jeudy have looked in the NFL so far. How bad is college football if they ruled it? How smart is Nick Saban?
-- Dante Pettis (2-43-1/2) showed a pulse the past two games for NYG, forced into playing time due to a Golden Tate injury. His presence is great value for NYG, if they stick with him…but it hurts Darius Slayton’s (2-22-0/4) FF future.
Daniel Jones at QB hurts all of their FF near-term futures.
-- The game Tom Brady (26-41 for 399 yards, 4 TDs/1 INT) was dreaming of in 2020 – no Mike Evans, so Antonio Brown (11-138-2/14) would be fully available to him. Brady winds up a top 5 NFL QB in most categories and a top 10 fantasy PPG QB. Not bad for a 43+ year old QB. I’m not sure how to argue he won’t repeat/come close to the same production in 2021 with another year of work with the receivers/offense.
-- Russell Gage (9-94-1/11) really closed the season strong. He should be a no-brainer slot WR/starting trio WR for the Falcons in 2021…a potential WR2-2.5 in PPR if Julio Jones returns…and a PPR WR2 with upside if Julio gone.
-- Bucs rookie WR Tyler Johnson (1-16-0/2) has been getting some time as the season has progressed. He’s a very underrated talent…one that’s hard to see his path on this depth chart, near-term. However, if Antonio Brown doesn’t return in 2021 (but I assume he will), it could be Johnson not Scotty Miller (1-12-0/3) running as that #3 WR.
Tyler Johnson could be a star someday…but not sure when that day is, or if Brady will still be standing tall when Johnson is ready.
-- Hey, Darnell Mooney (11-93-0/13) had his first real breakout game of 2020…it just took 17 weeks for us to get there. I’m a broken record here, but this is not just #2 guy getting a temp spike level of work with Allen Robinson (2-37-0/5) extra covered. This is not an Anthony Miller (2-13-0/2) late 2019 flash in the pan. Mooney is a real legit WR…better than Ruggs, Jeudy, or Lamb. Yes, better than Lamb.
-- 11 TDs this season for Robert Tonyan (2-18-1/2)…ensuring his TE1 status…ensuring his ‘I’ll just get Tonyan as might TE 6th-9th rounds of redrafts’ status for next preseason.
Just note…Tonyan never had more than 6 targets in any game this season (and he only did that once). In his final 8 games of the season, he did have 6 TDs…but also got over 45 yards in a game just once and averaged just 3.5 targets per game in that span.
He didn’t finish on the rise…he just got leftover TD opps from what Davante Adams didn’t want.
Still, that’s better than 80% of the other TEs for FF scoring out there.
-- I was interested to see if A.J. Dillon (1-3-0) would get a little more work in an important game like this, after his breakout performance Week 16.
The answer to that query was a resounding, ‘No’.
We move onto the playoffs to see what happens…which will dictate what will happen between Aaron Jones and the Packers before free agency begins.
Dillon could be the #1 lead back for GB and a top 12-15 fantasy RB for redrafts in the summer…OR he’s a buried #3 RB who gets some short yardage stuff. The playoffs, and how Jones does…and whether Dillon is pushed a chance will dictate the likely answer.
-- Jerry Jeudy needed 133 yards to take down my 850 yards over/under bets on the under. 113 yards to take down 830 yards ‘under’ bets. So, of course the hapless Raiders secondary lets him get a 92-yard TD which helps push him to 140 yards and wrecked all my under bets at the last moment. Unreal.
I watch Jerry Jeudy for 16 games this season, and I’m more convinced than ever that he sucks…worse than even I had scouted coming into this season.
No one in the NFL, at WR, has worse hands than Jerry Jeudy.
-- Drew Lock (25-41 for 339 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT, 2-7-0) put up some decent numbers here…but the Raiders’ secondary is so bad it’s not even a proper evaluation game. I think Lock finished on a low note coming into this. I’m willing to see how he develops, but I just do not feel or see a real change/improvement enough needed to become a legit NFL starter.
-- We’re getting Bryan Edwards (2-51-1/2) flashes here at the end of the season. The Week 1 starter, as a rookie, then got hurt midway into the first game of 2020…which opened the door to Nelson Agholor (1-57-0/4) reviving his career. There will come a day when Edwards will get his notoriety as one of the top WRs in this class. It might be 2021…or perhaps needs until 2022 for the full effect. But it’s coming. I think we’ll see it by midseason 2021.
-- Had Frank Reich pushed Jonathan Taylor (30-253-2, 1-1-0/2), perhaps he wouldn’t be a wild card qualifier but a division winner. The five worst coaching decisions of 2020:
5) Jonathan Taylor taking a lesser role behind Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines most of the season.
4) Chase Claypool benched midseason so he didn’t hit the ‘rookie wall’ (don’t want him succeeding too much and helping win games, so let’s throttle him back and start losing).
3) Tua Tagovailoa starting over Ryan Fitzpatrick.
2) Doug Pederson sticking with Carson Wentz over Jalen Hurts.
1) Tyrod Taylor as the unquestioned starter by Anthony Lynn, while having Justin Herbert just sitting there – if Tyrod doesn’t get hurt Week 2…we likely don’t see Herbert all year because Anthony Lynn ‘didn’t think he was ready’. Great football mind. Shocked he was fired.
All of them involving rookies…and the mismanagement thereof.
I think we have a final answer in the Taylor vs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire debate…
Imagine if KC took Taylor in the NFL Draft? They could’ve.
-- I have watched the Colts defense struggle since like Week 5. A bunch of talent and terrible output…so, it’s only logical that D-C Matt Eberflus is somehow a hot head coaching candidate. Did anyone watch the Colts defense their last 12 games? 24.3 points per game allowed their last 12 games, crumbling when they stopped playing cupcakes every week.
-- There’s no doubt, unless he goes back to college for another year, which would be beyond stupid, that Trevor Lawrence is going #1 in the 2021 NFL Draft to Jacksonville. The question is – who will be his head coach? If Urban Meyer wants that job…he’ll get it.
Everyone is going to make a big deal about Lawrence, and I haven’t gone through my full scouting analysis – but based upon what I’ve seen in minor scouting of him summer of 2020…I don’t think he’s better than Herbert or Burrow. The media has already made him a Tua-like god, so we know how that hype is going to go all offseason.
-- Jalen Guyton (0-0-0/4) has a perfect audition for the past few weeks with Keenan Allen out…and Guyton failed miserably. He will likely be out of football soon. More Anthony Lynn brilliance…as Joe Reed just sits on the bench and watches. Unbelievable.
-- Darwin Thompson (14-45-1, 7-65-1/7) had a typical ‘backup RB vs. a bad team in a Week 17 game’. There is no future with Thomason here. He’s another guy who will quietly be gone from the league in another few years.
-- Just to put a bow on it…that was the best rookie QB performance I’ve ever seen – 2020 Justin Herbert (22-31 for 302 yards, 3 TDs/0 INT, 6-9-1). And to think…it may have never even happened -- Herbert may have never played a snap in 2020 had Tyrod Taylor had his lung Jeff Gillooly’d (Google it) by the medical trainer.
The medical trainer deserves some type of governmental award or something. Even he knew Anthony Lynn has no idea what he’s doing.
*Great news, as I finished this entire report and we re-editing it – news hit that Anthony Lynn has been fired. Much deserved. The future is now super-bright for Justin Herbert.
-- As soon as Kyler Murray (8-11 for 87 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) went down in the first series…this was game was all but over. Kyler is the Arizona offense. They have no run game/no reduced pass rush pressure without Kyler freezing defenses…so once he was gone the bad O-Line got exposed – the run game collapsed, thus it couldn’t help fill in the gap created.
Arizona scored on the first drive off an interception setting them up 14 yards away – and then they never scored again the rest of the game.
Kliff Kingsbury…offensive genius y’all.
The concern for Kyler long-term, in Dynasty…Kliff’s offense is never getting any better than it was this year, and it was 95% Kyler making up for its terrible design/flaws from within.
-- John Wolford (22-38 for 231 yards, 0 TD/1 INT, 6-56-0) game managed his way to victory. He tried to give it away a few times, but he held it together/wasn’t bad…and was much better/more comfortable than Chris Streveler (11-16 for 105 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 3-12-0). Neither QB has a future in the NFL. Wolford can be a backup at best.
-- The Rams got a steal when they signed Matt Gay (3/3 FG, 1/1 XP) midseason. He is 9 of 9 on FGs attempts the past 4 games…3 for 3 in FGs in each game the past two weeks. A powerful leg with his accuracy improving, getting to kick in a home/dome with the Rams. An upside kicker we were on early and he closed out the season very strong.
-- Like I’ve been talking about/warning of on my recent Video Q&As or in print…I think teams have finally figured out how to play D.K. Metcalf (3-21-0/9)…the way I’ve been saying they should for two years now. I’m not some football genius – I just could see the way SEC teams covered DKM in 2018 and kept a lid on him – play way off him and play him to always run deep, force him inside. I thought NFL teams would certainly notice this right away. It only took them 1.5 years to figure it out…because they’re so stellar at football scouting and work 25 hours a day at it.
Metcalf has one game over 80 yards in the 2nd-half of the season. Just two games over 61 yards in the 2nd-half/last 8 games.
8 TDs the first half of the season…2 TDs the last half of the season.
He’s quickly falling out of the high-end WR1 discussion.
-- I discussed the Week 17 upside on Tyler Lockett (12-90-2/14) this week with him needing 40+ yards and 2 TDs to hit some big incentives for 2020 and push his contract price higher (automatic trigger) for 2021. Well…he hit both levels with this game.
It’s stunning to me how easily players with reachable incentives in Week 17 can get the ball…but then it’s a struggle much of the other weeks of the season. Lockett has been a weak WR3 for weeks…until he needed numbers for money, then he perks up.
-- Russell Wilson…
26 passing TDs, five 300+ yard passing games = 1st-half of the 2020 season
12 passing TDs, zero 300+ yard passing games = 2nd-half of the 2020 season
Will the O-C be fired? Of course not. We’ll all just make more hilarious jokes about Russ not cooking or is cooking or should be cooking or something related to cooking.
-- Emmanuel Sanders (9-63-1/13) needed 8 catches for a nice contract incentive payout…so he got 13 targets, 9 catches…with a ‘long’ of 9 whole yards in this game. Again, when teams/QBs want to…they can make any receiver have a game.
-- Rodney Smith (10-40-1, 1-40/1) got the start Week 17…and he’s played a fair amount in the 2nd-half of the season. I think that I, and Matt Rhule, have seen enough to know he’s not a great NFL prospect at this stage. Great opportunity the last few weeks…showed little with it.
-- Curtis Samuel (7-118-0/11, 3-30) is going to be a wealthy man in free agency. I hope he is the top paid WR in this FA class…and I hope he leaves Carolina. He never got treated the way he deserved his entire four years with the Panthers…through 3-4 O-Cs and two head coaches. Leave them in the dust Curtis…you deserved better.
Samuel earned his numbers this season. He took them…they weren’t given to him by the offense or QB.
-- It would’ve been nice to have this David Johnson (14-84-1, 3-26-0/5)…the DJ of the past few weeks, producing earlier in the FF-season.
I just want to note for the future – DJ looked very spry and as-always great in the passing game…just this team/offense was horrible to him. No blocking in the run game and they didn’t start throwing to him until the last 3-4 games. I hope he gets released in 2021 so he can go to any team he desires.
Don’t be shocked if he is a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2021.
-- Corey Davis (5-39-0/11) nearly cost the Titans this game. He dropped several passes…he’s limping into his free agency as a very overrated WR with bad tape the past few weeks. Ending on a low note…because he’s a very average WR talent. Some dopey team will drastically overpay for him. Good luck with the Chicago Bears in 2021!
-- Jonnu Smith (1-8-0/2), in a huge game for the Titans, had one catch for 8 yards on two targets.. Jonnu has had over 35 yards in a game once in his last 10 games of 2020 season.
How can anyone think he’s a TE1 for 2021?
The good news is – he’ll be gone in free agency in a few months. He should wind up where he’s wanted. Potential TE1 for next season on the changeover.
-- If Philly wants to throw a game for a better draft pick, or because they hate the Giants, etc., I don’t really care. Just please don’t expect to be to understand/buy that you had this burning desire to take a look at Nate Sudfeld (5-12 for 32 yards, 0 TD/1 INT). What were you expecting to see from him that you hadn’t seen on the past 4 years of possessing him?
Seeing Doug Pederson make horrible QB decision after horrible QB decision since their Super Bowl lucky win (thanks to Nick Foles) – why am I shocked he wants to ‘see’ more on Sudfeld?
Did Pederson think Sudfeld would shine when thrown in cold in the 4th-quarter of a game without any O-Line, 3rd-team WRs, and facing the best defense in football the past few weeks?
Doug Pederson has lost more games making bad QB choices than any NFL Head Coach in years…and it started with picking Wentz over Foles the year AFTER they won the Super Bowl. Pederson should be fired…and I like him personally, but his QB/team mismanagement is beyond the pale. I don’t care that Nick Foles bailed him out and got him a Super Bowl win. He lost his Super Bowl win credit over the past couple years of reality.
-- Logan Thomas (3-37-1/6) kept producing right to the end -- 7.0 rec., 9.0 targets, 51.7 yards, 0.43 TDs per game his last 6 games of the season…working with Smith, Haskins, and Heinicke. We will debate whether he is a top 3-5 FF TE for 2021+ in the offseason.
-- Jalen Reagor (1-15-0/1) was a ghost with Jalen Hurts taking over…2.4 rec. (4.2 targets), 34.8 yards, 0.0 TDs per game. He was starting to look strong with the final weeks of Wentz but was completely not-a-Hurts-guy when the QB switch happened.
Excellent 1st-round pick by the Eagles…a generically good, small WR…and then about five+ other better WRs were drafted the next few rounds after that.
Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021: https://youtu.be/qxUeJ8sjorw
College Football Metrics 2021 early signups are planned to open January 6th, 2021 (approx. noon ET).
There to greet you upon early sign-up will be a welcome message and the beginning of our annual Dynasty Rookie Draft Re-do – using the 2018-2019-2020 rookie prospects…and once that mock draft is completed, we will start to early sprinkle in/compare the 2021 prospects within that for an early comparison.
We will post the top five picks (2018-19-20) with commentary on January 6th/opening day and then add a pick + commentary per day throughout January 2021.
The first of our many 2021 detailed scouting reports (starting with the top of the QB class, as is our usual) will post the week of the 11th…and then we’ll be adding scouting reports daily throughout the pre-NFL Draft and post-NFL Draft process.
Everything is bumped back a few days from normal into January because of the way the 2020 NFL schedule landed/ended this year.
Jan 6th-10th is an early signup period to make sure you’re connected/set up viewing everything as desired – and then the scouting reports begin along with everything else we’ll be working on in January (Senior Bowl, all scouting reports, and more). You can sign up anytime, but January 6th-10th allows you to check that you’re all set so when the first scouting reports drop you can access them without delay.
Ready to REALLY find out about Trevor Lawrence? Justin Fields? Zach Wilson? Trey Lance? Not just buying the media’s always-wrong song-and-dance? You will soon.
At least one of these QBs is a bust prospect, if history is our guide, if not 2 or 3 or all 4 of them…and if you’ve been with CFM for a while, you know we have the best track record on defying the entirety of football scouting on finding the problems upfront (like Tua, most recently).
It’s almost time!
*Any questions on CFM sign up (same process as usual), feel free to hit up our Customer Service online (red button on FFM home page) to help you with anything, ever.
If you try and access the FFM app right now, you might get a message saying it has been cancelled...but it has not...not really. Just a tech issue cropped up and is being repaired ASAP.
I'd like to say it was ESPN or the NFL Network sabotaging us, but it's just a tech issue that hit out of nowhere and is being looked at/worked on.
I will have an open page in this section every day to post a ledger of what posted where for the day until the App is fixed.
Sorry for the hassle! We're on it.
9am ET on CFM = Xavier Cromartie Mock Draft 1st-round v 3.0
11:30am ET on CFM = Nick Niemann Scouting Report
10pm ET on CFM and DOBB = WR group preview for the 2021 Dynasty Rookie Draft (pre-NFL Draft)
This game was a joke, re-watching it weeks later – still a joke…44–6 Cardinals. Carson Palmer is still in the game throwing the ball into the 4th quarter. Jared Goff is getting blasted every time he drops back to pass. David Johnson looked like he may have torn everything with the letters ‘CL’ in his leg. A meaningless game with a ton of players at risk…welcome to your NFL.
In protest, I’m not going to talk about the game itself…because it was meaningless, so I am resting/benching my typing fingers to keep them safe, healthy.
As far as the player notes from re-watching this game:
— The QB situation in Arizona has a huge impact on all the related fantasy weapons for 2017+.
If Carson Palmer (20-38 for 255 yards, 3 TD/1 INT) returns, then you’re looking at a repeat of 2016… David Johnson makes a run at 1,000+ yards receiving. Larry Fitzgerald (5-43-1/7 targets) leads the team in receiving but doesn’t score many TDs. The team has a sub-.500 record, and the franchise wastes a season (2017) and then stares into the abyss of a 2018 season with no quarterback, no Fitz, and individual stars coming up on paydays soon (David Johnson and Deone Bucannon). Bruce Arians will likely retire for health (and recent failure) reasons and go enjoy life. The organization will be in shambles with a team built around players for Arians…and he’ll be gone. They’ll have an empty GM and out-to-lunch hanger-onner President (owner’s son) who will try to put out this forest fire with a garden hose.
If you’re an Arizona fan, you either want to kill me right now or change team affiliations. I see the crash coming.
If Tony Romo comes to Arizona, and stays healthy, then maybe there’s a chance in 2017, and we’ll see about 2018…and then all the ‘bad’ prediction stuff goes down hard in 2019.
If Palmer retires and Romo goes to Houston or wherever, all the negatives I am foretelling – it starts in 2017. I am confident in that claim, because this management group has no idea what it’s doing at quarterback. This is the Logan Thomas draft pick brain trust. This is the group already talking about the obvious trap door QB prospects in 2017 – Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. If forced to draft their way out of their quarterback dilemma – I would almost bet my life savings that they take Watson or Kizer and completely destroy their dying franchise in 2017.
Hey, at least two out of those three scenarios are OK for David Johnson. If Arizona goes with a high probable bust rookie QB in 2017 – Johnson may be in some trouble for putting up the kind of numbers he has in the past, especially the TD counts.
— I’ve already touched on what Jared Goff’s (13-20 for 120 yards) and Todd Gurley’s (14-40-0, 4-37-0/5 targets) future might look like with their new coach in this article here. Link: FFM: New Coach Analysis Sean McVay
I’ll just say quickly – Jared Goff was sacked seven times and hurried on nearly every throw. Either he’s the worst QB ever or the Rams’ offensive game plan and passing routes are a joke. Seeing that Goff, Foles, Keenum all looked the same…great passers with huge numbers in college and or the pros before they arrived to the Rams…and seeing the fear of getting killed on every play out of all of them for the past two years…I’d say it’s a Rams issue, not Goff’s at this point. It’s a joke. The team had 482 yards offense, total, in the final three games of 2016 season.
The preeminent NFL Draft and Dynasty Rookie Draft scouting service – College Football Metrics.com has launched its sixth year of scouting analytics and detailed reports, rankings and coverage of all things NFL Draft…including the college all-star bowls, the NFL Combine, and the draft itself. Our analysis is like none other, designed to defy and confound the mainstream coverage – who else had David Johnson on par with Todd Gurley in 2015? Or Tyrell Williams as a top WR prospect in 2015? Or Jatavis Brown and Sean Davis as top defensive prospects in 2016? Who else railed against Laquon Treadwell and Jameis Winston from the jump in their draft years? What will we discover with our computer scouting models in 2017?
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— Pharoh Cooper (4-36-0/6 targets) had his most productive game of his rookie season in Week 17. Every time I see Pharoh Cooper, all I think is – ‘nothing special’.
— The best of the Rams’ rookie WRs, to me, is Southeast Missouri State UDFA Paul McRoberts (1-6-0/1 targets). He’s consistently looked like the only rookie who knew what he was doing and had reliable hands back to the preseason…and, of course, he’s the most buried. Closer to released than starting, I suspect.
— How did I fall asleep on Cardinals OLB Markus Golden’s (4 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD) great 2016? 12.5 sacks and 16 TFLs (2nd best in the NFL). He also forced 4 fumbles.
I did not love Golden coming out of Missouri in 2015. He ran a 4.90 40-time for goodness’ sake. He had a flimsy bench press (17 reps). Whatever the measurables, Golden has been a great producer when given the chance with Arizona in the 2015 season and into 2016…15.5 sacks in his last 21 games.
— More Morgan Fox (1 tackles, 2 QB Hits)…
There is something about this guy. Every time he gets a chance to work on the Rams D-Line, he gets to the backfield. Two QB hits in this game. A TFL and a FF in the prior game…his only two real chances to play in the regular season. He was a sack machine in spots in the preseason. Keep him on your IDP watchlists.
— Quick note a few have asked me about concerning the Rams and the new coach – “What about Tyler Higbee?”
Don’t make any effort to hold onto Higbee.
My Higbee interest went as far as the Rams staying in a closed offense and Higbee showing signs of a relationship with Jared Goff. The new coach is likely to look for a Jordan Reed-like weapon since he had a hand in making Jordan Reed ‘a thing’. Lance Kendricks (2-12-0/3 targets) has a better chance now.
— OK, the David Johnson (5-6-0, 3-38-0/4 targets) injury…
It looked bad. Like, I was sitting in shock when I saw it live. The announcers were solemn. The replay was gruesome. My dynasty life flashed before my eyes. He was carted off the sidelines and back to the locker room. I was dead inside drinking it all in.
True to his Superman-like abilities, Johnson later wandered out to the sidelines in jeans to cheer his team on…just a bad sprain. Unbelievable. He’s not of this world.
Of course, my first thought (when it happened) was to cry and throw every curse word I knew at Bruce Arians for even letting Johnson be out there. In reality, I get it. Johnson was on the verge of various records. How are you going to punish a guy who has carried your team by blocking him from making franchise and/or NFL history because ‘reasons’…when everyone else throws their starters out to die in meaningless Week 17 games around the league? If Arizona needed this win for the playoffs, Johnson would have been taking his normal workload. Carson Palmer or Jared Goff, for example, I sit because they have nothing to prove or gain. I’d rather preserve them. Johnson on the verge of history… how can you take it away from him? How many times do you get to make franchise or NFL history? I hate it, but I get it. If I were the owner, I’d force Johnson to sit. I’d write him a fat bonus check and thank him for sitting one out for his future…my future. The NFL coach who is ‘dad’ to these players…I can see him letting his hard-working star go out and compete. I hate it as a fantasy GM, but I get it.
A Handicapper's Early Look at the 2019 Schedule – Carolina Panthers
I’m working on analyzing/predicting/projecting some different team’s schedules with members of our Handicapper’s Group. You’ll see those transcripts in the days/weeks to come. One schedule I wanted to get to/share my thoughts on was the Carolina Panthers – because they are potentially a top three ‘over/under’ bet right now, depending upon what odds you get, to bet them ‘under’.
When I first pointed out the Panthers as an ‘under’ candidate, they were trading at 8.0 wins, but now I’m seeing they’ve dropped to 7.5 many places…even 7.0. The power of FFM when I released this early to private clients and subscribers (Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball), maybe?
I don’t hate the Panthers, in general. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cam or the management of the team, but I don’t think they’re terrible at all. It’s a good/decent team…but one with a problematic schedule for 2019.
This is a Carolina team that started out 3-1, 6-2 last season and was rolling…and then the wheels came off with a 7-game losing streak. Cam missing two games at the end. They feasted on a weaker 2018 schedule early in the campaign, and then when the schedule got tougher -- they fell apart 2nd-half of the season.
I think the Panthers’ offense is OK. Cam Newton is an average QB, who spikes high and low…he’s really not average – he’s usually great or terrible, there’s not much in between or consistency in stretches. Norv Turner is a destroyer of offenses, so they have that going against them. The defense is OK, slipping a bit…and they’ve gone through multiple defensive coordinators (due to their promotions) the past few years. Losing Sean McDermott a few years ago may have been the hidden problem/explanation for their recent declines…the ace in the hole defensive coach they had. WITH McDermott, in his last three seasons as D-C for the Panthers, Carolina finished #2-21-6 in PPG allowed, and went to a Super Bowl. Since he left, the defense has ranked #26-11-19 in PPG allowed. Meanwhile, under McDermott, the Bills defense is getting salty/really good.
Knowing the Panthers are good/decent, in general, but fading a bit…let’s take a look at each week of their schedule and assign their win possibilities into three buckets (and then we’ll do the math at the end):
75% chance to win (games they should likely win, but considering a factor for ‘anything can happen’)
50% chance to win (toss up type games)
25% chance to win (games they will be underdogs for sure, and facing better teams, usually on the road)
OK, let us begin…
Week 1 vs. LAR = Opening at home, but against the defending NFC champs. You don’t want to play the Rams in general but give Sean McVay extra time to prep and this has to be in the 25% camp.
Week 2 vs. TB = A home game with Tampa, and it’s a TNF game…so, that’s a 75% win probability game for sure.
Week 3 at ARI = The new Cardinals should still be in the stage of confusing opponents, and considering this game is at home for Arizona, I’d give the edge to the Cards. Missing Patrick Peterson will be tough here. Let’s put it in the 50% bucket for now.
Week 4 at HOU = On the road vs. a better team…25% win probability.
Through 4 games, doing the math we’d show a 1.75 wins and 2.25 loss record at this stage.
Week 5 vs. JAX = This is where the schedule is going to get turbulent for the next several weeks. Here it is a home game, yes, but facing the high-end defense of the Jaguars is not a good thing for Cam’s game. I like the Jags to win, but it’s at Carolina, so let’s say it’s a 50-50 game.
Week 6 vs. TB (European game) = A road game across the pond. European games are erratic. Let’s say 50-50 here.
Week 7 = BYE
Through 6 games, we would have Carolina as 2.75 wins and 3.25 losses. I’d project a 2-4 record here on a definitive winner tally.
Week 8 at SF = Playing a good team on a west coast roadie…that’s a 25% win probability.
Week 9 vs. TEN = Facing another good team/tough defense but hosting the Titans. Carolina will be a slight favorite from Vegas here…50% chance type game.
Week 10 at GB = Mid-November in Green Bay favors the Packers…a 25% chance for the Panthers.
Week 11 vs. ATL = Hosting a division foe they know well. This would be more in the 75% win camp.
Week 12 at NO = Their first game with the Saints in 2019, and it’s at New Orleans…that’s a 25% win chance.
The rugged schedule stretch takes a pause. To this point, we’d track Carolina 4.75 wins and 6.25 losses. 4-7 on a definitive winner count.
Some betting houses had/started Carolina at 8.0 wins for the over/under…I loved this early bet on the ‘under’ 8.0. From here, in our projections, for the Panthers to force the 8.0 to lose, they’d need to win out…and they wouldn’t. Many betting places have switched to Carolina at 7.0 or 7.5 wins now…so, from here, they need to win four of their final five to beat the line. Doubtful.
Week 13 vs. WAS = This seems like a gimme. At home, versus a shaky rookie QB (likely facing Haskins). 75% win chance.
Week 14 at ATL = Carolina beat ATL in a home game, so odds are a loss in the second affair on the road…25% win chance.
Week 15 vs. SEA = Carolina always plays Seattle tough, and they host them in this one…75% for Carolina.
Week 16 at IND = Going on the road after the Seattle game, facing Indy indoors…and Carolina likely out of the playoff picture at this stage…25% chance to win.
With one game to go, we’d project Carolina 6.75 wins and 8.25 losses or 6-9 making definitive calls. The season effectively over for Carolina and would’ve been feeling that way much of the 2nd-half of the season. Hard for Carolina to get any momentum/win streaks with this schedule layout.
Week 17 vs. NO = Hosting the Saints, but Carolina nothing to play for and the Saints likely in the thick of a seeding race…25% chance for Carolina who will probably go with rookies/young players for some/all of this game vs. a needing to win Saints team.
Final tallies: 7.00 wins and 9.00 losses with the three percentage buckets we played with. 6-10 by picking a definite winner in each according to me. My computer simulation shows Carolina below the 7-win mark as well (Faux season projections under way on FFM).
Carolina has one of the tougher schedules out there in 2019. We show the NFC West and the AFC South as the two best divisions top-to-bottom, and the NFC South teams drew both of those divisions in the rotation this season. For the two random out-of-division games it was a split for tougher/easier…at Green Bay and hosting Washington.
The Panthers’ NFC West rotation did not schedule as easy either -- Rams at home kills some home field advantage because the Rams are so good. Going at Arizona early in the season when the Cards will be a mysterious offense still…not great advantage. You want to play Arizona later in the season.
2019 road games going to SF, ARI, HOU, GB, IND are longer trips than the Panthers would like to make, plus a European game. Last season, the Panthers left the Eastern time zone once…and it was just to the Central time zone for Detroit. In 2019, the Panthers go west or international three times.
Weeks 10 to 17, the Panthers will face the following teams in-a-row by QB… Rodgers, Ryan, Brees, Haskins(?), Ryan, Wilson, Luck, Brees – all trouble except the WAS/Haskins game). Last season, the Panthers never faced a high-end QB more than one game in-a-row…until the end of the season with Mayfield-Brees-Ryan Weeks 14-16, and they went 0-3 against them.
I don’t think the Panthers are a bad team at all. I just think the schedule rotation drawing the NFC West and AFC South along with the way the schedule is laid out, and all those high-end QBs to face with their suspect defense and Norv Turner heading up the offense – I just see getting past 7 wins as unlikely, and our simulations of the season (at this stage) sees them falling quite short as well.
When I bet ‘unders’ I like a mediocre team with a tough schedule, starting a non-elite passing QB, and a joke of a backup QB. If Cam goes down, the Panthers have Will Grier now…and he’s plausible. I don’t like the backup QB angle to bet against here, now, as much as I would if it were Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen.
I loved this ‘under’ bet at 8.0, it’s good at 7.5, and it’s OK at 7.0. I probably won’t play 7.0 or even 7.5 at all. Took some small bites on the 8.0 ‘under’ after the NFL Draft was complete. If you can get 8.0, go for it reasonably. In the 7’s…it’s bet-able, but not my favorite ‘under’ of 2019.
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