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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Entertaining game… Watching two QBs throw random passes like one would go to a casino and pull-down slot machine handles and have minute-to-minute wondering if you might strike it rich. Probably throwing your money away but every once in a while, you get three cherries/a completion. These QBs have no feel for the passing game…it’s a hope and pray on every throw. I watched Baker Mayfield’s game before this…how anyone could’ve scouted Allen-Darnold-Mayfield and decided Allen or Darnold were the obvious talents should be barred from ever talking about QB scouting again…which would mean we’d lose 98% of all football analysts (good).
The Bills should’ve won this by 20+ but lost 27-23 late. Buffalo led 14-3 in the 1st quarter. All the enthusiasm and momentum were with Buffalo, but then the Bills began to stumble around, and the Jets pulled to a 20-20 tie with 12 minutes left in the game. The Bills took the lead 23-20 with 2+ minutes left, but the Jets lucked their way down the field for a quick TD. The Bills had 1:11 to get downfield and win the game…but…shocker…Josh Allen threw an interception on his 2nd throw of the drive, ball game.
Both teams are now 4-9, and no one cares about either of them.
However, there are some interesting Week 15 fantasy items/opportunities suddenly popping from these teams.
I’m going to share my notes on the players, but saving the suddenly interesting Isaiah McKenzie analysis for last, when it should be first, because it’s a big issue to discuss because we’re way ahead of the masses on this, so it’s something for you to think about/drink in all the info for this week – the risks and rewards.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Finally, Elijah McGuire (17-60-1, 3-23-0/4) got his ‘start’. Not really, but…Isaiah Crowell was questionable coming in and lasted 5 plays and was done.
McGuire took most all the RB work here…and…and it was pretty dull. He’s just not that good of an RB talent. He’ll be useful as a starter, for FF, with Crowell out -- but that’s about it. Maybe he’s a better Marlon Mack type option this week against a good-against-the-run Texans defense in the cold/rain in New York. It’s something in a week without a lot of fresh RB options.
-- I get why people are sucked in by Josh Allen (18-36 for 206 yards, 0 TDs/2 INTs, 9-101-1). There are moments where Allen looks like the greatest QB specimen to ever walk the planet – size, massive arm, good enough wheels…but God Bless him is he an awful QB as a passer.
Allen cannot see the field under any duress, and it’s gotten so bad, and his running has so paid off…that Allen will run at the first opportunity. Analysts think he’s just so savvied a runner…no, he’s wanting to run anytime he can because it’s the only thing that’s working for him. If NFL teams just rushed one less guy and dropped a spy up the middle (where Allen runs for all his damage – through the middle, off a drop back) and just forced him to beat them as a passer…he’d crumble. NFL defensive coordinators are so stupid, just like NFL scouts and GMs, that they fear the ‘big arm’ and play to that.
Will he run for 100+ yards this week, again? My instincts say ‘no’, but NFL game-planning knows no bounds of idiocy (see: Denver doesn’t realize George Kittle is a top target for the 49ers this past Sunday). Allen is not Lamar Jackson or Mitch Trubisky as a runner, he should be easily halted…and was more than once in this game forcing a fumble/turnover when they hit him trying to skate through the middle. One of these games Allen is going to get seriously hurt by a DL or LB hitting him full throttle as he tries to slice up the middle.
-- By contrast to Allen, Sam Darnold (16-24 for 130 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) looks like a 16-year old trying to wear his dad’s dress clothes to a special event – doesn’t belong/fit, and it’s obvious. Darnold is smaller, a slower runner, a very weak arm…and nearly as bad reading defenses.
The Jets and Bills are stuck with their mistakes a minimum of one more season…Jets fans will fully turn on Darnold next year because anyone with two eyes can see there’s a problem. Allen will get a pass into 2020 with a lot of ‘working on his mechanics’ and ‘gotta clean that up’ nonsense each offseason.
-- If LeSean McCoy is held out of Week 15, and then Chris Ivory is questionable…Marcus Murphy (2-10-0, 1-8-0/1) is a deep sleeper play to get either the lead role or split carries.
Every time I see Murphy work, I’m impressed with his effort and ability to force miss tackles. He looks way better than he did as a rookie.
…put me down for a nickel bet that Murphy gets suspended for PED use in the future. Murphy has gone from kinda scrawny return guy to physical runner this year…out of nowhere. Maybe he just makes really good use of his Planet Fitness membership.
-- I’m not a big Robert Foster (7-104-0/8) fan, but I’m not denying his sudden spike in activity.
Two 100+ yard games in his last 4 games, three 90+ yard games in his last 4, and a TD catch in there as well.
Foster needs to (a) get open downfield, but more importantly (b) have Allen find and hit him successfully downfield – not something I really want to rely on. Foster has been one big play makes the week, forgotten on coverage type of work. Hey, if fantasy desperate…it’s something. A 4.41 runner with 6.90 three-cone…he has the athleticism to belong in the NFL.
-- OK, my sudden love for Isaiah McKenzie (4-47-0/7, 4-22-0/1)… (and it only grew deeper in this re-watch). Let’s go through the history and then what has happened the last few weeks to make this a sudden story.
2017 5th-round pick out of Georgia – 5’7”/173. Known for his return skills (5 punt return TDs, 1 kick return TD in three college seasons of play), but also had a decent run as a gadget WR his final college season…44 rec., 633 yards, 7 TDs in 13 games…not bad. But he also ran the ball 19 times for 134 yards and 2 TDs. The prior college season…11 carries for 117 yards and 2 TDs.
McKenzie was a small, speedy, jet weep, gadget/homerun threat WR who you just wanted to get the ball to and see what happened. Obviously, he had some skill maneuvering through traffic with his 6 return game TDs in college.
He had the skill, and we found out how much at the 2017 NFL Combine where he ran a 4.42 40-time with a stellar 6.64 three-cone. Those kinda numbers combined with the college return game production gets you drafted in the NFL.
He was drafted by Denver and instantly pushed as a return man, of which he showed flashes but had one major issue – 6 fumbles. That can’t happen as a return guy, but it shows how talented (potentially) he is because Denver kept giving him chances. In 2018, Denver couldn’t take it any more and he was dropped. Quietly picked up by Buffalo.
He made his Buffalo debut in Week 10 and that’s where this gets very interesting…
McKenzie is instantly the starting KR and PR for the Bills, but he also sees time on offense…which he barely ever did for Denver. In Week 10, McKenzie plays 7 snaps…but sees a target and THREE carries (for 32 yards). That was a sign that Buffalo ‘believed’ in IMK as a weapon, but I didn’t pay attention.
After a Week 11 BYE, in Week 12, McKenzie sees 3 targets and two carries…and gets a goal line area carry for a jet sweep TD. McKenzie has only played in two games for BUF and he’s all the sudden getting goal line carries? I still didn’t pay attention.
Week 13, no carries (I figured ‘typical NFL’), but he got career highs with 4 targets and 4 catches for 46 yards. He played 50% of the snaps. I noticed…but I did not believe.
Week 14, the Bills cut two WRs, McKenzie is now a 3WR-set starter as a slot WR, and has a new career high 7 targets, making 4 catches for 47 yards…BUT he also saw a career high 4 carries for 22 yards, and…yes…another red zone carry TD run.
This is getting serious.
The speedy McKenzie is a purposeful weapon for the Bills…not a 20-30% of the snaps gadget guy, which would be decent too – no, he’s starting as a SLOT WR and getting an ever-growing, ever evolving set of purposed touches.
His first three touches of this game…all red zone carries, one of them for a 14-yard TD.
He wasn’t just a bubble screen guy at WR…he was a legit slot WR. A couple 15+ yard catches downfield. Allen overthrew him on a 25+ yard play. Allen threw short of a 20+ yard bullet.
If you told me, this upcoming week, that McKenzie would start in the slot and play 75% of the snaps (like he did here), I would likely believe him to see 6+ targets, 3+ catches, 40+ yards, 2-3+ carries and 20+ rushing yards and 50-50 for a TD (since he seems to be the red zone runner of note) and decent shot he houses a bubble screen or jet sweep for a 50+ yard score because he has that speed/maneuverability experience. He also might hit a punt or kick return TD.
What? You’re going to start Taylor Gabriel (who would ever like that guy?)? Adam Humphries?
Let’s look at an Adam Humphries, who I like, comparison for a moment because it proves a point and there are many other WR3+ names I could add for the comp (Reynolds, Conley, Larry Fitz, etc.).
In their last 4 games (All McKenzie’s games as a Bill), and considering a hand-off as a time with the ball in the player’s hands:
20 times with the ball in his hands, 180 total yards, 2 TDs = McKenzie
20 times with the ball in his hands, 217 total yards, 3 TDs = Humphries
21 times with the ball in his hands, 278 total yards, 2 TDs = Lockett
11 times with the ball in his hands, 135 total yards, 1 TD = JReynolds
12 times with the ball in his hands, 156 total yards, 3 TDs = Larry Fitzgerald
13 times with the ball in his hands, 330 total yards, 1 TD = Robert Foster
If I took just the last two games (McKenzie playing 50%+ snaps for the first time):
11 times with the ball in his hands, 103 yards, 1 TD = Humphries
12 times with the ball in his hands, 115 yards, 1 TD = McKenzie
All I’m saying is – this is not as crazy as it appears. You’re getting touches but you’re also getting a homerun hitter in growing touches now working as a true slot WR + gadget plays. He’s a WR2-3 this week with the upside that he pops a long TD…with the risk he fumbles and someone gets mad at him for it (but Buffalo seems engaged in McKenzie, not just seen as a disposable return man.