2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 11 – 49ers 36, Cardinals 26
There was one thing that was abundantly clear after watching this game combined with having watched the entire season/the entire last decade of football for me – from watching all the games live and rewatching for study purposes, studying everything in the offseason, scouting the NFL Draft, researching coaches – Kliff Kingsbury will never be better than Kyle Shanahan at coaching/running an organization. Shanahan is one of the rare few coaches that actually makes a difference and who sounds like a reasonable human being when asked a question. Kliff Kingsbury is a human vacancy sign wearing a pair sunglasses. He’s the guy that’s a VP at your company and you have no idea why…you suspect it’s because he looks the part/looks pretty or might be related to someone in ownership -- but you really sense he rose up the ranks because he masterfully tells people whatever they want to hear…friends with everyone they are in the same room with for that moment, but really friends with absolutely no one in the company or outside it because he might be a robot incapable of human emotion.
Now, note -- I’m going to blast Kingsbury every day/week until further notice…but his emptiness works for what I want in fantasy. As long as KK is head coach, Kyler Murray will become an NFL statistical star in the perfect fantasy offense. We NEED Kingsbury to stay employed…my fear is, he’s so bad that he might be gone/chased off in 3-4 years. However, I think Kingsbury is a brilliant opportunist – he connected his life to Kyler[‘s. Smart. As long as Kyler is the face of the franchise, Kingsbury will be the empty sunglasses head man…and that’s all I want. Make things good for Kyler and friends.
What Kingsbury is doing to David Johnson is going to come back to bite him, but it’s not just DJ…not now and not later -- and I’ll explain that in the next section. What he’s doing not having Andy Isabella in the game in certain spots is sheer game management and personnel stupidity. I’ll explain that right now in the game overview…
Arizona led this game 16-0 in the 2nd-quarter. How the hell you lose by 10 points when you started out up 16-0 is scary enough, but late in the game with minutes and then seconds remaining…needing plays to be made…and you don’t have Isabella or Johnson in? It makes no tactical sense. Even right down the bitter end of this game they weren’t in at desperate times. It was 30-26 SF, after the 49ers went down the field late and took the lead off a touchdown…leaving Arizona just 0:31 left to go 70+ yards for a shot at a TD/win, AND with all three timeouts remaining. They had some hope. The plan should’ve been to hit on some up the middle passes quickly and call timeout and get down in range for a decent end zone shot near midfield or closer. Very doable.
Instead, what happens… Kyler Murray moped out onto the field at a snail’s pace with zero energy, and the rest of the team trudged out onto the field with him and slowly lined up. Where was the coaching leadership to rally your defeated troops? There was a chance! He could’ve been firing up the offense during the entire ensuing kickoff and commercial break…but not Joe Cool…not Joe Sunglasses. No, ‘Shades’ kept his Jason Garrett-esque coaching style of staring blankly on the sidelines while non-leader of men Kyler Murray pouted onto the field. The first play, a half-hearted two-yard pass into traffic. The catch was made, but the receiver fumbled…ball game. In the most critical, desperation spot of the game…the Cardinals throw it to the slowest 40-time player on the WR depth chart (KeeSean Johnson). Why are we not running a deeper pattern to wide open middle with three timeouts…or if throwing short why not get it to one of the fastest players in the league (Andy Isabella)? Isabella would have had to have been on the field to do that – great coaching! Why is there no sense of urgency? If the QB is moping around and the coach is getting a nice tan on the sidelines…why would we think the other 10 players are going to have any urgency?
So, the Cardinals fumble it away…but then quickly stop the 49ers with the aid of their three timeouts to get the ball back for one last play. Now, note this – with the need for speed/urgency plays an issue before the fumble at 0:31 and then for sure with like 2-3 seconds left and 70+ yards to go…might you want 4.31 runner/the fastest player on the team on the field at that point? Nope. Andy Isabella was not in for the last two need-for-speed plays of the game training and trying to comeback. Any idiot could figure they’d want Isabella out there for AT LEAST that moment in time. Not ‘Shades’…he’s too cool for that. You’re not smart enough to understand the delicate genius of his offense…an offense that is basically a faster pace version of the shitstorm offense Cleveland has been running in 2019, but with better receivers in Arizona who get open every once and awhile.
I so feel like this right now about Kliff’s on-field coaching: https://youtu.be/1TsdXa_7kzs
Again, I cannot stand Kliff Kingsbury and I don’t like Kyler Murray’s persona at all…but I’m an opportunist, like Kliff…all I want to do is attach myself to Kyler (for FF) and ride his coattails to success.
Arizona falls to 3-7-1, when they should easily be 6-5 right now…and me already having booked my over/under win total bet on the ‘over’. Instead, I need three wins the next 5 games…and it’s possible but I don’t think Arizona can string two plays together in a row without screwing something up. Winning three of 5 against good-not-great teams is going to be a stretch. Dammit they should’ve had this game…and the Tampa Bay one last week. We project Arizona does get to 6-9-1, given their schedule…but it’s very shaky to get there.
The 49ers are now 9-1. They didn’t play their best game, and were missing several key players, and were down 16-0 quickly…but then they remembered they were playing the Cardinals, and the Niners just forged their way ahead and allowed the Cardinals to faceplant to the finish. A gauntlet ahead for the 49ers on the schedule, we see them finishing with 12-13 wins and Week 17 at Seattle could be for the NFC West and for the #1 seed.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s get to David Johnson (0-0-0/0…9 snaps) first…
I played DJ several leagues this week…I figured he’d play half the snaps and get 10+ touches and be something to use. I would have never guessed…active + barely plays + no touches.
If something is wrong, physically, with David Johnson…don’t activate him.
If you need him active because you’re short-handed at RB, but he’s not 100%, then don’t put him on the field unless an emergency hits.
For a face of the franchise player to be active for a game, declared healthy, and be thrown in for a few snaps and not get any touches…because ‘the guy Miami didn’t want, nor anyone in the league really’ is now the clear and obvious best RB on the team after joining three weeks ago – that is unconscionable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this happen in the NFL before.
If DJ were a locker room issue, or past his prime, or any number of things…I get taking a cold hard stance, but David Johnson was the reason for least one of their wins this season by his miraculous receiving skills and is a guy who worked his way back from injury quickly/too soon trying to get back to the lineup to help the team – this guy gets a snub? The beloved figure in the locker room. A face of the franchise player type guy. This iconic, high-end talented player is done because Kenyan Drake had a good game against the 49ers three weeks ago? He’s so toxic that he can’t even get in for passing plays/targets, which he’s shown a penchant for playing great in the passing game this year, being perhaps the best at his position in the league at…but Pharoh Cooper is in plenty and seeing targets and DJ none?
My breath is taken away by how terribly this has been handled by Kingsbury…and it’s going to have reverberations down the line, in ways we will not see happening on the surface. It has to undermine the team bond and trust in management…in favor of Kingsbury’s ‘system’. I’m sure the team could understand someone else winning the lead RB job if they are truly, obviously better than DJ…but there’s no reason for Johnson to be given no touches if sent out onto the field (he played 9 snaps this game). Johnson is the 2nd/3rd-best and/or most dangerous receiver on the team. Let’s say he’s the 2nd-best runner of the ball at RB last week (safe assumption). He’s in his prime. All that, and you don’t give him one touch because Kenyan Drake is now ‘the man’? The Rams are wasting payroll and draft picks to support physically failing Todd Gurley. James Conner will be the Steelers starter even if his shoulder falls off midgame. David Johnson is ditched to the bench and given no touches because Kenyan Drake looked good in a game three weeks ago. How difficult is this offense if a guy who has never played in it is ‘the man’ in two weeks over someone who has worked in it for months? I’ve never seen anything like this in the NFL.
If anything, guys, especially RBs, are stuck with TOO long because of their reputation or standing. David Johnson, maybe the nicest player in the league, and one of the most talented, and still in his prime…benched for recently acquired Kenyan Drake and then sent into a game and given no touches in the game. That’s all Kliff Kingsbury’s doing. It’s not an oversight.
From a 2019 piece on CBS Sports:
Baker Mayfield may have won the Heisman Trophy with Oklahoma, but the Austin, Texas, native hasn't forgotten his roots. Mayfield played one season with Texas Tech in 2013, the same year that coach Kliff Kingsbury arrived. The rookie Cleveland Browns quarterback went 5-0 as a starter that season, but in an interview with Fox Sports for the docuseries "All The Way Up," he said that Kingsbury treated Mayfield like a star -- before ghosting the quarterback when he sprained his MCL in a 54-16 win over Kansas.
"All of a sudden it was as if I hadn't played for him, hadn't done anything for him. It was just different after I got hurt," Mayfield said, per TMZ.
Mayfield's father, meanwhile, added that Kingsbury "completely withdrew his contact." In fact, he revealed that Kingsbury "didn't talk to Baker. He didn't include Baker in the meetings."
As for Mayfield, the final straw was when the former walk-on wasn't offered a scholarship for his efforts with Texas Tech.
"I've invested a lot into this and now you're telling me you don't have a scholarship for a guy who won 5 games after choosing to come here? That was the final straw for me," Mayfield said.
Mayfield threw eight touchdowns and five interceptions as a freshman with Texas Tech before the injury. Upon his return, he had four touchdowns and four interceptions, and Texas Tech lost to Kansas State, Baylor and Texas.
Kingsbury offered up a response to TMZ, but he doesn't seem affected by Mayfield's comments.
"I've always been a huge fan of Baker and loved working with him," he said. "He had an incredible career at Oklahoma, and I wish him nothing but continued success as he begins his NFL career."
Kingsbury already has a reputation for being aloof, self-serving, and turning on players as soon as it is was deemed self-beneficial to do so. Baker Mayfield has spoken of it, and now (I think) we’re seeing it play out live midway into an NFL season. David Johnson is way too classy to ever say anything about it.
DJ tweeted a sarcastic ‘Welp…’ with a hands up/confusion Emoji on Twitter…with no other details after the game.
His wife was not so kind…she posted on Instagram: “In EIGHT football seasons… that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. SO MUCH TALENT. On a bench. we love you @davidjohnson31”
Johnson’s contract runs through 2021. He’ll be 29+ yards old then. He’s slated to make $16M in 2020 or can be cut for like $11M+ payout before 3/20/2020. You would have to assume he will be traded or released by March 2020. There is no sense bring him back for a $16M season after you just did this. You can’t unring this bell…and Kliff probably doesn’t want to anyway.
For Dynasty valuation…DJ is going to a team who wants him in 2020, either by trade or a new deal. It’s actually great for the DJ bank account. He gets paid not to play football/be at-risk right now. He’ll get a new deal with his new team after his release. Win-win. Tampa Bay. Obviously, re-teaming with Bruce Arians makes the most sense but there may be other teams in play. I’d bet money on the Bucs, but that would be in a trade. I think Johnson would personally rather not play for Arians, but he’d go to get away from Arizona pronto. Philadelphia and Indianapolis are possibilities I see/make some dot-connections to.
For Week 13+ for fantasy/right now? Assume the worst. Assume he’s like a guy who got a torn ACL. Unfortunately, he’s a guy you have to keep rostered…like to see if Drake gets hurt and DJ is elevated…except once Chase Edmonds is back, it’s probably Edmonds who will be in ahead of Drake. You’re stuck rostering DJ just in case something happens, and the RB rises up again. But likely you’re wasting your time rostering him in redraft the rest of the way…a la rostering Tony Pollard or Reggie Bonnafon, hoping for their opportunity to spring up but the injury above them never happens. Still, you’re kinda stuck holding on…how can you cut him yet?
This isn’t even a situation where they are trying to get him healthy. This is the coldest message ever sent to a star player in their prime…’you’re not wanted here’. Now that Arizona is toast for any playoff hopes, now 0-3 under the Kenyan Drake era, there’s even less reason to play DJ. Keep him non-ACL’d and try to trade him in the offseason.
David Johnson will be an RB1-RB2 threat again for a new team in 2020.
It would not shock me if Kenyan Drake is signed to a deal in Arizona before season end…before his pending free agency…further telegraphing the DJ non-future here.
If Drake sees all this happening to DJ, and if the Arizona offer is weak, he might feel better to hit the open market. If Drake ditches Arizona, and DJ is gone (and he will be), then suddenly Chase Edmonds is a shock starter/RB1 value out of nowhere in March 2020…potentially. Dynasty GMs…consider a cheap look at sitting on Edmonds if he’s dropped this BYE week thought to be behind Drake-DJ. In a few months, they may both be gone, and you have a sudden RB1 (of that moment) sitting in your lap.
There is one other possibility…Johnson gets back in Week 13, plays angry/dominant and then Kingsbury takes credit for being patient with DJ, and stating that Johnson was his guy all along. Kingsbury is like the world’s worst politician – he can be best friends with anyone in two seconds, if it serves the moment for him. He can switch allegiances in a second with no conscious.
-- As for the great Kenyan Drake, he’s run for 51.0 yards per game (3.9 ypc) and caught 12 passes (6.0 per game) for a whopping 19 yards total (1.6 yards per catch) the last two weeks as ‘the starter’.
I mean, why wouldn’t you bench DJ for production numbers like that?
Because this offense is Kyler-centric, and pass game centric…I don’t know that you want the 2020 lead RB for the Cardinals in the future. Just for PPR, with a half-a-dozen screen passes per game…maybe? Goal line opps? Arizona barely gets there because they score from longer distance pretty well…or Kyler RPOs will be in order from close range. It’s not a team built to run the ball…the RB is just another WR.
-- Kyler Murray (24-32 for 150 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT, 8-67-1) stock report…
-Still looks great, getting better every week.
-Attacked Richard Sherman with no fear here.
-Had a short passing TD taken away by stupid penalty (later turned FG)
-Had two purposeful goal line-ish run plays that came up short – designed run plays to try to solve their red zone woes. Kyler ‘the runner’ is heating up.
-Because he mowed through the great 49ers defense, twice, the last few weeks and is now running more purposefully…he’s now become FF-unbenchable for matchup now and for the foreseeable future.
-- Kyler attacked Richard Sherman with Christian Kirk (6-41-0/9) and won a lot with it…and nearly had a 40+ yard TD to Kirk (over Sherman) to add to this stat line.
-Kirk is now unbenchable in most every scenario along with Kyler.
-Kirk is ‘Kyler’s guy’.
-Kirk is a PPR WR1 for the ROS 2019, and to start 2020…it looks to me. Like a strong WR1.
-- Jimmy Garoppolo (34-45 for 424 yards, 4 TDs/2 INTs) is only showing out against Arizona, and kinda FF-flopping otherwise. It’s to be expected against the sad Cardinals defense.
-Garoppolo is benchable most every week at this stage…a true QB2. Matchup might get him as a QB1 for a week (like vs. ARI)
-Garoppolo still doesn’t look that good to me.
-Arizona is the ultimate ‘start them’ for your FF QB. Week 13 Goff gets them. Week 15 Baker gets them, and HE HATES Kingsbury. You got Baker for the late season schedule? Week 13 v. MIA is sweet and then Week 15 v. ARI might be an epic moment.
-- What I did love from this game… Deebo Samuel (8-134-0/10) has arrived as ‘Jimmy G’s guy’, I think. It’s not just a crime of opportunity (Kittle and Sanders out/hurt)…I think it’s Deebo becoming the 2018 Robert Woods-to-Goff like option. The Kyler-Kirk…only JG is not Kyler.
Deebo is going to be a legit WR2-3 in PPR ahead even with Kittle-Sanders back, I think. The connection and rhythm of Deebo-JG has been noticeable to me, as I spoke of on Video Q&A’s and wrote about last week.
I want to see what happens when Kittle is back, before I go full-scale excited. Kittle back may help Deebo even more.
-- Ross Dwelley (4-14-2/5) was a great temp fill-in for Kittle, for fantasy…but once Kittle returns, you’ll never hear from Dwelley again.
Against the worst defense on TEs in the NFL, Dwelley racked up 14 yards. Let’s not make too huge a deal over the 2 TDs.
-- Can I never hear of how great a sleeper play Raheem Mostert (6-13-0, 2-14-0/3) is…because ‘you know he’ll get some touches’ in the share system in SF with Breida down. I don’t want any San Francisco RBs for fantasy ever…it’s an RBBC that I can never figure out. Mostert has only mattered getting touches in blowouts. When he plays on purpose with the game on the line…not much.
-- Andy Isabella (1-6-0/4)…20 snaps and not on the field in key spots. Again.
I got the message, Kliff. Making big plays in your offense doesn’t mean much. I have no idea what game Kingsbury is playing not using Isabella, but it is what it is. I don’t think Kyler likes Isabella, and thus he’s not on the field as much. I’m not sure what other reason there could be…no bubble screens or jet sweeps here in a key game/big message if you can pull an upset? Not one real attempt to get Isabella going?
I’d assume, and that is verging on making an ass out of me, that Isabella was drafted highly for a reason and once he is in the club…he’ll become an FF star. It’s not happening Week 13, I’d assume…but with an extra week off of changes/prep and trying to now play for 2020, we’ll see.
We can only assume Isabella does not matter at all for FF right now…just a flier that he mistakenly gets a good target to then turns it into gold.
-- Kwon Alexander went on I.R./done for the season, and new LB starter rookie Dre Greenlaw (10 tackles, 1 TFL) has averaged 9.0 tackles per game the past two weeks. He looks good.
-- The great 49ers defense has allowed 25-27-26 for points the last three weeks. This is not the 85 Bears. Looking back over their season, they’ve really played garbage QBs and dysfunctional teams/offenses…and squashed them.
Here’s their opposition this season before Week 8: Winston, Dalton, Rudolph, Baker, Goff, Keenum/Haskins in the rain, Kyle Allen. Baker actually didn’t look that bad against them it’s just his team failed around him.
When the 49ers faced Kyler-Russell-Kyler…surprise! They aren’t that great. I think we all might have overrated this SF team because of the schedule, but it was more low key/less obvious than the Patriots schedule early on. Schedule is everything in a lot of cases in the NFL.
That being the case…you got SF-DST, you might have issues ahead…Rodgers-Lamar-Brees-Ryan-Goff-Wilson to finish the season. The 49ers might lose 3-4 games in their final six…if their defense is exposed as good-not-great.
Snap Counts of Interest:
61 = Drake
09 = D Johnson
68 = Kirk
55 = Fitz
23 = KeeSean
20 = Isabella
18 = Pharoh Cooper (outsnapped DJ)
38 = Mostert
38 = Tevin Coleman
01 = J Wilson