*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I needed/wanted a Cincy upset in this game so bad to complete my 6.5 ‘over’ win total bet from June 2018. And when the Bengals got off to a 5-3 start, I was already spending that money…The Bengals went 1-7 the rest of the way and I lost. For a time, watching this Week 17 game live, I thought I had redemption coming/a 7th win.
The Steelers looked sluggish and couldn’t move the ball right off the bat, and Cincy was playing with some passion to halt the Steelers playoff hopes. The Bengals scored on a pick-six to take a 7-0 lead, which eventually became a 10-0 lead, and 10-3 at the half. I was feeling hopeful with Cincy.
The Steelers tied it up in the 3rd quarter, then took a 13-10 lead in the 4th quarter. Cincy answered the Steelers lead on the next drive and drove down into a goal-to-go situation but couldn’t score and had to settle for a field goal to tie it 13-13. The Steelers answered with their own field goal, 16-13 Pitt with 2:00 remaining. The Bengals couldn’t answer the bell…another Week 17 wager heartbreak for me.
Marvin Lewis got fired after the game, deservedly so…a long time coming. If you think the Bengals will hit a reset button, find a fresh start head coach…I doubt it. Look for Hue Jackson or Vance Joseph to inexplicably land the head coaching gig and for things to go from worse-to-worser. We’ll break down their new head coach, whomever it might be, and the fantasy impact when the announcement is made.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I was right and wrong about the Steelers backfield for Week 17…
I was right… James Conner (14-64-0, 3-30-0/3) came right back in and took all the carries, despite Jaylen Samuels’ (2-2-0, 7-40-0/8) excellent performance the past few weeks.
I was wrong… The Steelers did use Samuels in the passing game – 7 catches on 8 targets. Had they thought to use him that way the past few weeks, maybe they would be in the playoffs. They used him stronger in the passing game here and he paid off nicely.
I was right, for weeks now… The James Conner FF valuation is going to plummet because Samuels is either going to be the 3rd-down back, pass catcher or, eventually, Samuels will push into a split workload and eventual takeover of the lead role. Samuels is just better than Conner.
I don’t believe Mike Tomlin thinks Samuels is better than Conner, today…it’s just something that will become undeniable at some point in the future. It hurts both of the RB’s fantasy valuations right now, because either is a problem for the other – unless one of them gets hurt/out for a season.
Under normal circumstances, this will be a confounding split favoring Conner to start 2019 season. However, if you’re holding Samuels in dynasty…if Conner gets hurt, you have Le’Veon Bell-lite about to happen with Samuels.
Also, the Steelers could wake up and make Samuels a freakish weapon…a giant Tarik Cohen who also lines up at tight end/H-back. If you have Conner in dynasty, the best thing you can do is possess Samuels as well…you’ll get one or the other mattering, and possibly both working at the same time like Howard-Cohen did some in 2018.
Unless you can trade Conner as an RB1, and I advocate you do if you can, then add Samuels is the next best plan – have both to have one.
-- So, Antonio Brown (DNP) has gone full diva…and if you possess him for fantasy, you should be worried. Brown minus Ben is not as a great thing, you would assume…not like AB has been for fantasy for years.
What will the Steelers do?
What did the Giants do when OBJ was a mental case? Paid him a bunch of money, looked the other way and cross their fingers he doesn’t go rogue too often. I assume the Steelers will do the same. Unless they get blown away with a trade offer, doubtful in the NFL, they aren’t dealing Brown.
I would say the Antonio odds in 2019 are:
80% = back with the Steelers like nothing happened.
20% = traded away to a Siberia team like the Bills or Raiders
Brown will be 31+ years old next season and Ben 37.5 – time has run out on the Steelers current iteration. I guess they give it one more go in 2019 before they just blow everything sky high and rebuild.
If you think that’s true…this offseason, in dynasty, is the time to sell high on these weapons if you can sell high. Wait for the Brown news to die down, and he makes amends and it’s kumbaya…then consider whether it’s time to get out ahead of the collapse, or squeeze one more season out of them.
If they get disconnected via an AB trade…I downgrade both for 2019, I don’t care where AB lands.
-- Joe Mixon (13-105-0, 1-2-0/1) ended up 4th in the NFL in rushing, but considering he missed a few games…he was 3rd in rushing yards per game in 2018. A pretty fine season considering…he had a knee procedure, Dalton went down and out, Marvin Lewis was coach, and the O-Line was broken.
Mixon has a radical upside with the right coaching staff, once they utilize him as the pass game weapon he can be – he can be your Todd Gurley in the right situation…and that situation may be upon us in 2019.
If you could flip Conner for Mixon somehow…do it, ASAP. Even with Hue or Vance, Mixon will be good, but with a better coach Mixon might be a contender for top RB in fantasy 2019.
-- I mentioned Big Ben will be 37.5 years old next season. He also has just one year left on his contract. 2019 is likely the do-or-die season for him and the Steelers as we know them…as well as Mike Tomlin’s coaching job in Pittsburgh.
In 2020, Ben could retire or otherwise be gone via free agency. Age will probably catch up to him fast – he’s a big frame guy who has taken a lot of hits. He could crash faster than a Brady would. I say all this to note, for dynasty, we watch Mason Rudolph intently this 2019 preseason – if he takes another step forward, he’s a talent. If he were in the 2019 NFL Draft…he might be the first QB taken.
Don’t forget Rudolph long-term…I won’t let you forget.
-- Nick Vigil (17 tackles) had quite the game to finish 2018. Vigil missed several games this season, but in the 11 games he did play he averaged 7.6 tackles per game – a pace to be a top 15 tackler in the NFL. His best games happening when Vontaze Burfict was out. In 2019, Vigil may be the man in the middle and Burfict retired or otherwise dumped.
Vigil is a sleeper IDP to lead the NFL in tackles in 2019.