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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
This was like an indoor/arena league game for most of the contest…28-24 Cincy at the half. The Bengals driving last/late for the dramatic TD and win 37-36. Two teams expected to have solid+ defenses and randomly struggling/producing offenses just got involved in a track meet and one out-did the other in the end.
Re-watching this, I was impressed that (it felt to me) Cincy was the better team. The one leading the way and Atlanta kinda playing catch-up the whole time. Cincy was on the verge of pulling away a few times but had some luck go against them (tipped INT, TD taken away by sketchy penalty and FG settled for, etc.). However, in the end, the Bengals rallied…actually, they just did what they did all game – consistently moved the ball downfield when needed.
Both teams were hot passing the ball, struggled running it, and in the end, Cincy had the fortune to get the late TD and the win. Could’ve really gone either way.
The Falcons fall to 1-3 but could easily be 3-1. Cincy moves to 3-1 but could easily be 1-3. Both teams fighting a lot of injuries, etc. I bet the Cincy over the 6.5 (and 6.0 and 5.5) win-total for 2018, so I’m elated. If you played the two ‘over’ win totals that I chirped about all offseason (CHI and CIN), we are well on our way to paying for your subscriptions and then some.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I want to address two ‘on the rise’ slot WRs from this game…
Calvin Ridley (4-54-2/6) is on fire…6 TDs in the last three games. It’s a great, unusual pace. He’s not known as a big TD producing WR. Nor has Matt Ryan been this hot for a while. In addition, Ridley is not really seeing super-heavy targets or (6.3 per game the last 3 games) or massive snap counts (54% of the snaps played here).
I don’t mean to say, “he’s bad,” or anything…I just don’t see indicators of something special about to take off to another level with Ridley. He’s not the primary focus of this passing game. He’s kinda working in the shadows a bit and making hay right now. He’s good…a solid WR2-2.5 – but he likely trades as a WR1-1.5. I’m not afraid to sell the hype here. I don’t see any ‘wow’ happening…just ATL passing a lot because they can’t stop anyone on defense and the shootouts are leading to sweet fantasy numbers. They face tougher defenses ahead.
Tyler Boyd (11-100-0/15) has really been the one showing a marked change in activity…10.3 targets per game the last 3 weeks, 107.7 yards per game on 7.7 catches per game in that span. He’s on fire and really making more commotion in the passing game than Ridley is, but even Boyd has a little fluff…when CIN went on their final emergency TD-or-die drive, Boyd went 4-48-0/6 on the drive – about half his game numbers came in the final 90+ seconds of play.
Boyd looks much purposed and consistent (over Ridley) right now, but people are suspect on Boyd still but all good/all-in with Ridley. I’m more the other direction, but both are looking fine.
If I had to have one ROS…it would be Boyd.
-- Tyler Eifert (4-38-1/4) got hurt and is done for the season (shocker). As I’ve said since Week 3 of the preseason…C.J. Uzomah (1-8-0/2) and not Tyler Kroft (last year’s Eifert replacement) is the TE to own with Eifert down.
Uzomah has played more snaps than Kroft in every game this year, usually by a wide margin…and Uzomah starts, not Eifert this season. Uzomah played 51 snaps (70%) here and Kroft 20 snaps (27%). Kroft’s snaps will rise by CJU will start and is a TE2 with back-end TE1 hopes…Andy Dalton likes working the TE, and teams will lend more concentration on Boyd now, and discount Uzomah – and he’ll make them pay some for that. He’s pretty athletic – a 4.62 runner (1.58 10-yard) at his 2015 Pro Day with a 7.22 three-cone.
-- Joe Mixon (DNP) is back for Week 5. I suspect he will not be all that limited, despite what Marvin Lewis was saying. He was starting to get into shape last week and might’ve played if a playoff game, etc. It’s not like Mixon just got cleared to run a few days ago. He’s been in motion for a week+ now. I don’t believe they’ll give him 30+ carries, but I don’t believe he’ll split with Mark Walton (5-9-0, 2-28-0/4) much more than he did yield some touches to Gio early in the season…unless there’s a blowout to help Mixon take a break.
-- Matt Ryan (2939 for 419 yards, 3 TDs/0 INT) is on fire the last two weeks…8 TDs/0 INTs. He’s done so against the #30 and #28 pass defenses in the NFL. He gets #29 Pittsburgh Week 5, and #32 Tampa Bay Week 6. The fire is likely to stay hot unless the Steelers rise up this week with ATL outside the dome.
My computer models are thinking Ryan may stumble this week at PITT. Starting Week 7, things get a bit tougher for the Falcons’ passing game thru Week 11.
-- Matt Ryan has been hot for 2-3 weeks, but Andy Dalton (29-41 for 339 yards, 3 TDs/3 INTs) has been producing for 18 weeks, since Bill Lazor took over as O-C after Week 2 last season. Dalton is always underrated.
Learn to appreciate Dalton because checkout this schedule ahead…(rankings by passing yards allowed):
It may be the single greatest stretch of opportunity I’ve seen a QB have in a long time…and you have to believe AJG, Boyd, and maybe Uzomah prosper as well. Baker Mayfield is going to see a lot of schedule like this too soon (same division/schedule patterns).
-- I’ve mentioned this a few times, but Tevin Coleman (14-51-0, 3-26-0/3) totally blew his chance to show off a #1/lead RB candidate in the upcoming 2019 free agency period over the past few weeks. If you’re playing/investing in him in dynasty to be a lead guy next year…you may be wasting your time.
It’s not that I think Coleman is ‘bad’, it’s just there are so many good RBs out there in free agency and in the draft (and on the streets)…why pay big for Coleman?
He might be off to San Fran to reunite with Kyle Shanahan and then you have a cluster forming with he and Jerick McKinnon.
-- Two safeties from these two teams are on IDP fire, one we predicted many weeks ago…
Cincy rookie SAF Jessie Bates (8 tackles) is more a surprise to me. I thought he was good, but he became a sudden starter via injury and has snagged 8-3-8-8 tackles in games this season (6.8 tackles per game). A very solid player in a good spot for numbers.
I’m a big Damontae Kazee (7 tackles, 1 INT) fan. Predicting a possible top 5 DB status in IDP if he became a starter. He’s started the last two games and led the team in tackles both games, averaging 8.5 tackles per game and his pick in Week 4.
-- What happened to the Bengals-DST? I had them as a top 5 projection for 2018! Basically, all my top 5 DST hopefuls are about melting down.
Actually, Cincy hasn’t been terrible for DST usage…I just expected them to grow into a lock-down defense and they have been nothing of the sort.
#28 pass defense
#12 in sacks (I thought they’d be top 3-5 this season)
#22 run defense
#20 turnover +/- with a -2.
Usually my ‘too early’ DST calls come around at some point, but not close yet on Cincy. I think they’ll start progressing as the season wears on and with Vontaze Burfict back Week 5.
Snap Counts of Interest:
40 = T Coleman
30 = Ito Smith
55 = Sanu
54 = Julio
38 = Ridley
16 = Hall
14 = Hardy
51 = Uzomah
20 = Kroft
19 = Eifert
69 = A.J. Green
62 = Boyd
36 = Erickson
18 = Ross
11 = Core
32 = Lawson
29 = Willis
68 = Kirkpatrick
49 = Dennard
46 = Will Jackson