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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
The QB plague of the past three weeks continued its path of destruction on Monday Night Football. 13 starting QBs did not throw a TD pass in Week 13…including the vaunted pair of Drew Brees and Cam Newton.
Brees posted less than 6 fantasy points in this game, and Cam went for about 3.5…and because of that, many FFM fortunes changed last night. What was thought to be obvious losses because of course Brees or Cam would score 10+…well, miracles do happen. What was trending to be one of the worst weeks in FFM history, on a win percentage basis, flipped with the chaos of Week 15 and specifically the SNF game and very much so the MNF game – and, now, we’re trending past a 50%+ win percentage for the week in our tracking and samplings after we had been running 60-70-80%+ in weeks most all year.
I was worried we’d be at a 33-40% win-rate on Sunday midday. My, how crazy fantasy football is?
That doesn’t mean we didn’t take some hard losses. I’ve heard tale of some brutally close losses where one more catch or 10 more yards this game would have turned the miracle, but it didn’t come to fruition. Some of the best FFM teams built in 2018, ones that rolled through the regular season smashing everything in its way to a #1 most points scored and/or league history record setting scoring – some of those war machines got stomped in Week 15, unceremoniously. It’s no way to end what was the greatest season ever unfolding…a Buster Douglas TKO of Mike Tyson-like shocker (I do like the ESPN 30 for 30s…but hate about everything else ESPN).
I’m saddened for the fallen, but I’m so stunned at the reversal of fortune after this game. I rarely see a Brees-Cam owned with an FFM team, but there were plenty of those using them against us. You’d assume they’d score 10-15 points at minimum…but likely push 20+ in most leagues. There are so many people who were up just 6-7-8-9-10 with all their players done and facing Brees or Cam…or close/even with Christian McCaffrey vs. Kamara-Brees or worried about Michael Thomas. Almost all of it went the FFM way/against our opponents.
As I was driving a longer distance Friday, a few days back, I flipped on the XM radio for the journey. It was my wife’s car and she had left on the Christian Talk channel. I was looking for tunes for the drive…something to help with my wallowing in a state of depression due to the (what seemed like at the time) Kansas City dud by Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. Just when I needed them to go big…they went small. Oh, owe is me…
As I flipped on the radio and heard this preacher teaching on lessons from the Christmas story, I rolled my eyes. Not that I’m anti-Christmas or Christ. Definitely, ‘pro’ both…I just wanted to wallow and didn’t need to hear another message on being kind to people. I didn’t want to be kind to Andy Reid. I was about to flip the channel and then the preacher said something so simple, but it hit me like a ton of bricks while driving…like it was meant for me/this week of fantasy. He said, think of the circumstances of the events of Jesus’s birth – his theme statement for the message here was “Don’t (pre) judge the ending by the beginning.”
He was talking about Mary and Joseph unable to find suitable lodging and having a birth event that might get them thrown in jail today for child endangerment. While your kid goes to school with Purell on tap…Jesus was born in and around animal waste/debris. Not quite the birth event expected/that you would plan for the Savior of the world. He was talking Jesus’s birth, but I was thinking of that bomb hitting Tyreek in the facemask on TNF. I was letting myself doom my fantasy week by just 1-2 cards played early in an eventual 10+ cards-in-my-hand game. I felt so much better, with this obviously directed at me message, the rest of Friday into Saturday.
I don’t really remember what the preacher said after that…I was just struck with the message – “Don’t judge the ending by the beginning.” How often do we do that, especially with TNF football games (or everything in life)? Or after the 1pmET games with many things to go after that? I rarely get emails or texts or calls on Sunday afternoon, or night, on Mondays pre-MNF that say, “I’m down but if Brees gets held down and McCaffrey has a good night I will win this…” 95%+ of the time I get, “I’m screwed. They got Brees, I got McCaffrey who’s due for a bad game against that defense. I shoulda never drafted David Johnson.”
We always go to the negative, rarely go to the positive as a first reaction. We’re a glass-is-half-broken-and-I’m going-cut-myself-on-it-when-I-drink-but-it’s-probably-filled-with-carcinagens-anyways species. I’m usually very controlled and optimistic (because I’ve seen all this FF stuff change course, etc., for a decade…so it’s foolish to get too emotional too early), but even I was like…”We’re all doomed. This will be the worst week in FFM history!” around 3-4pmET Sunday and about 10-11pmET Sunday. Actually, when I saw Isaiah McKenzie taken off in a cart Sunday afternoon…I totally forgot the preacher’s message from Friday.
As fate would have it…Jared Goff would scramble to 300+ yards passing (the only QB to do so). Gerald Everett made a flurry of catches after nothing for 48 minutes. Then Drew Brees and Cam Newton (and Michael Thomas) died off on MNF, while Christian McCaffrey threw more TDs than Brees-Cam combined, and despite little from Samuel-Thomas – several miracle stories poured in to me late Monday into today.
If we tear through Week 16…I might be inclined to get a Tattoo (my first) of “Don’t judge the ending by the beginning.” I don’t know why that stuck with me so hard this past few days, but I suspect I’ll reference it in times like these many times in future articles.
As for the game itself, it was virgin birth-like shocking…Brees and Cam combined for under 10 fantasy points, so…yeah…it was a defensive struggle. The Saints scored late to take the lead and Carolina could not answer. It felt like every key penalty and ball spot/chain measurement was against the Panthers, and they lost by 3.
The Saints jump to 12-2 and are a win (or Rams loss) away from holding the #1 seed for the NFC playoffs. Facing the Steelers this week might trip them up, but getting Carolina, likely without Cam, Week 17 – there’s a for sure win.
Carolina’s long shot wild card hopes died here. Losers of six in-a-row and now 6-8, on their way to 6-7 wins depending upon if/when they sit Cam. A lost season that started with such hope. Now, Ron Rivera’s job is jeopardy.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I don’t want to say I called it, but Drew Brees (23-35 for 203 yards, 0 TDs/1 INT) was someone I wanted you to sell high on midseason because when the Saints had Ingram-Kamara in high gear last season, Brees’s FF numbers fell.
Brees has just 2 TD passes his last three games and less than 205 yards passing in each of his last 4 games. It’s not just him, it’s the QB plague that hit the whole league starting Week 12…but he got infected hard here and has been one of the worst hit.
Three road games in a row might have been part of the issue. Brees comes home for the rest of the season with PIT and CAR.
-- Cam Newton (16-29 for 131 yards, 0 TDs/1 INT) got bitten as well, but he has excuses – the Saints defense and his shoulder injury.
Now, that the season is over, if the Panthers allow Cam to take one more snap this season – they are out of their minds, which means Rivera will trot him out there for every snap and call running plays for him. NFL head coaches have zero business sense at all.
If Cam is benched, by the owner, then we got issues for the Panthers’ weapons. Taylor Heinicke is no Cam Newton. He’s not dreadful, but he’s not Cam.
-- Christian McCaffrey (15-53-0, 8-67-0/11, 1-1 for 50 yards, 1 TD/0 INT)…I don’t say enough about the guy because he’s as right as rain every week, but he just saved me arse…and a lot of yours as well.
Thinking about not judging the ending by the beginning…I remember lamenting missing out David Johnson early in redrafts because of high finishes in leagues the year prior (or just random luck stuck in late 1st-round draft slots) and ‘settling’ for McCaffrey, who we had rated higher than any ranking service I know of. I don’t give myself enough credit for this. McCaffrey was part of our – he’s your strong RB1 in PPR play while others chase the obvious names, and then we’ll draft Tyreek Hill 2nd round…and let them laugh plan.
How great have McCaffrey and Tyreek as a #1-2 punch been this year?
Even where I thought I traded CMC hot midseason, I got great players, Alvin Kamara (14-67-1, 7-36-0/9) for one, in exchange. I should’ve kept CMC instead of trading him, but in more cases than not I could not find my kind of deal for him and just stuck by CMC…and that was a beautiful thing this week.
The fact he’ll be hurt by Cam possibly being out Week 16…I’ll deal with that later. Today, thank God for all the places where I ‘settled’/reached for McCaffrey 1st-round of redrafts this season.
-- Cam out…that would kill any Curtis Samuel (1-17-0/4) hopes. Much less D.J. Moore (2-12-0/3). Much less Ian Thomas (2-14-0/4). We may not know on Cam until later this week.
Welcome to Week 16 confusion…
-- Dan Arnold (0-0-0/2) was active this week, after a surprise inactive last week…and no progress. TO watch this Saints offense…it’s like the Rams. Brees is going to Thomas or Kamara and everyone else are props in the play.
Brees completed 23 passes this game…14 of them to Thomas-Kamara. 35 pass attempts…18 targets to Kamara-Thomas.
-- Week 16 outlook…
Carolina has a juicy matchup with Atlanta, but will Cam be there…and is injured/as-of-late Cam reliable to turn the trick for the WRs and TEs?
The Saints face the Steelers, and that should be a war…might be another one of these QB plague/great defense games. The Rams should win, so the Saints want/need this win vs. PIT but could survive a loss and just beat CAR Week 17, but that could be foolhardy.
Snap Counts of Interest:
57 = Moore
55 = Samuel
36 = J Wright
11 = Funchess
69 = Mk Thomas
46 = Tre’Quan
34 = Kirkwood
14 = Arnold
11 = TommyLee