*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
The Browns and Broncos did not play great football here, but that only added to the entertainment value of this game. Two teams needing a win, or their faint playoffs would die, went back and forth and eventually the Browns pulled ahead and held off several attempts by the Broncos to win it late.
Vance Joseph was 4th & short with 4+ minutes left, down 4 and decided to kick a short field goal to cut it to 17-16/down one point -- and then try to hold the Browns and then get another field goal late…a strategy that didn’t work and he got crushed for. I get the move – assuming he knows his offense/QB sucks and TDs are hard to come by for his team so play to put your team into an FG-position and rely on your best feature, your defense, to help win the game. It almost worked, but it didn’t. Vance needed to ‘go’ (get fired) anyway, and this will probably used against him when firing him. His strategy only looked bad when it doesn’t work…given his choices it was a legit strategy, but he’ll get crushed/fired nonetheless.
The Broncos drop to 6-8 and done for 2018.
The Browns move to 6-7-1 and need a lot of help to make the playoffs. Their best shot at it flew out the window when the Steelers beat the Patriots. The Browns are essentially done for playoff hope even if they win out. So many close games they lost this year, that if just one of them flipped to a win would have made all the difference. Thanks, Hue!!!
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Baker Mayfield (18-31 for 188 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) was projected a top 5-8 QB start by us Week 15, but had a so-so output…and it seemed like a dumb top 10 QB push…but it ended up that rare few QBs this week had 1 TD pass, so 2 TD passes was like the king of the hill this week.
Mayfield looks so good for a rookie with terrible WRs to work with. It’s comical that O-C Freddie Kitchens has already about locked the permanent O-C job…like this was some coaching thing that unlocked Baker. When QBs the NFL intelligentsia does not like succeed…it’s because of the coaching. Well, pretty much everything is blamed on the coaching by analysts for everyone so there’s no sense beating a dead horse.
Now that the Browns are winning, people are waking up that Baker is ‘special’ they just don’t want to go that far with him yet. Instead, they say ‘doing well under the new coach’ or ‘pretty good for a rookie’. Baker is great for a rookie or a veteran – the best pure QB mind/instincts in the NFL right now…just lacks experience and height and better WRs to flip that final switch. Someday, he will be a great one. He’s pretty good now. No one sees the field like Mayfield…Mahomes is right there with him.
-- Mayfield’s presence makes Antonio Callaway (5-35-1/7) viable any given week. About every other week or so these two have Callaway putting up 10+ in PPR.
Callaway has scored 10 or more PPR points in a game in five of his last 7 games.
I wish Breshad Perriman (1-31-1/2) got more play but he’s running like a 4th WR. His TD catch here was sweet…most of his catches for the Browns have been impressive. He’s got the skills, I’m not sure why he isn’t ascending…I just know that he isn’t.
-- If Baker Mayfield rules the Browns for the next decade, and a coach will be brought in to support him…and, thus, this offense is going to purr for years to come – Nick Chubb (20-100-0) becomes the Kareem Hunt (minus issues) with Mahomes type of top 5 fantasy RB output guy.
Chubb will be undervalued this offseason and next redraft because people won’t see him that way…they’ll see ‘Baker’ and ‘Cleveland’ and not get as excited as they should.
-- Case Keenum (34-48 for 257 yards, 0 TDs/2 INTs) has the opposite affect as Baker…Case is ruining everything for fantasy by his lack of skills.
It’s great DaeSean Hamilton (7-46-0/12) gets 12 targets and all, but it’s minimized by the fact that there is little hope for a TD week-to-week.
Ditto for Courtland Sutton (5-42-0/6). What’s the point of being a great WR talent if your QB can’t get you the ball properly?
Until Keenum goes…I can’t take Hamilton-Sutton as seriously as I want to. We might get that dream next season with a QB change (come on Nick Foles!!).
-- Another game where I watch Matt LaCosse (4-43-0/6) and am impressed with his effort and skills. He’s a TE2 with PPR TE1 hopes in a given week. Again, “Keenum.”
-- IDP Adam Gotsis (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD) is picking up steam as the season wears on. 3.6 tackles per game the last 6 games, 1.7 tackles per game his first 8 games.
Gotsis has 4 QB hits and 2.0 sacks his last five games.
-- The Browns defense has now held four of their last 5 opponents to 20 or fewer points, and this week they face the worst QB of their current run – hosting Jeff Driskel minus A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd (likely).
-- Week 16 Outlook…
The Browns have maybe the best matchup of any team in Week 16…the terrible Bengals defense with Cincy depleted on offense.
Denver seems like they have a great matchup with Oakland…but the Raiders have been much better the past few weeks and now the Broncos have nothing to play for. I don’t love this matchup for Denver-related things as much as it feels like on the surface.
Snap Counts of Interest:
39 = Lindsay
18 = Freeman
15 = Booker
57 = Landry
49 = Callaway
30 = Higgins
28 = Perriman