2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 14 – Ravens 24, Bills 17
What an impressive game…for the Buffalo Bills.
I’m starting to believe that the Bills are one of the 3-5 best teams in football. I originally thought they were a conservative, defensive-led team benefitting from a great schedule (a al New England/same divisional schedule rotation). The more I watch them the last few weeks, the more I’ve jumped on the bandwagon – that this is a borderline great football team.
It’s not a ‘great’ team in the classic sexy sense…they are achieving one of the truly most elusive things to become in the NFL…a really well-coached team that is so well-coached that it overcomes any talent deficiencies we might perceive. That’s a lethal thing in the NFL…when your coach builds a team away from ‘sexy’…therefore, it doesn’t spend payroll on sexy/stupid things (remember how fast McDermott dumped media golden boy Sammy Watkins upon arrival?). It builds a team via O-Line and defense and depth…and it builds via tough, disciplined players that work in a tough place to get players to play – Buffalo…for weather and ‘sexy’ quality of living purposes. You need grinders/mentally tough players there.
Stone Cold Sean McDermott is the embodiment of mentally tough – and he is pulling a Bill Belichick right under all of our noses. We’re missing it because we want to watch 48-45 high-scoring Saints-49ers pinball action. We focus on Lamar Jackson’s individual highlight reel events (as we should). Who cares about lower scoring Buffalo with Devin Singletary and Cole Beasley and a TE rotation and that turnover guy Josh Allen?
I’m beginning to understand McDermott’s masterplan to take over the world. I am starting to understand the beauty of Josh Allen…as it pertains to playing in Buffalo. You’d rather have Lamar Jackson, but Allen is built for Buffalo – tough runner, tall, can throw through the cold and wind because he has the league’s strongest arm. He’d fail with Arizona or the Rams offense. He’ll never be an NFL star. However, he is PERFECT for Buffalo. Buffalo is like New York City compared to his Wyoming background. Sam Darnold would be an abject failure in Buffalo, as would Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Kyle Allen, Jared Goff, among others.
What Allen lacks in being Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, he makes up for by not being bothered by the frigid temps and running on purpose and not sliding to protect himself. He’s built to be a great Buffalo Bill. Allen is like a more athletic, stronger-armed, less-savvy Ryan Fitzpatrick. McDermott could do better than Allen, but he could do a lot worse.
Everyone thought the Bills would get thumped here. And it started out that way. 10-0 Baltimore a few minutes into the 2nd-quarter, but you could tell Buffalo wasn’t intimidated, just a little overmatched and had a sack/turnover helping push the Ravens first TD drive. Down 10-0, Buffalo went down the field and scored to make it 10-3, a clutch scoring drive to get back in the game. The Bills kept thwarting the Ravens' drives and got it to 10-6 Baltimore at the half.
The Ravens came out and scored on a long catch-and-run TD pass to make it 17-6, and then everyone is thinking ‘it’s over’; that the Ravens were just too much. Buffalo answered right back with another field goal…17-9 Ravens. Buffalo kept hanging around in this fight…taking serious blows, but never hitting the canvass. It was a classic Rocky (I) v. Apollo Creed. The more that Rocky kept taking hits and not going down, the more confidence Rocky was getting as the fight went on and the more concerns Apollo was having, and he tried to smirk it off…but he knew.
The Ravens knew. They knew they couldn’t bully past Buffalo like they did the Rams, Texans, and Patriots.
Consider that since Baltimore became ‘Baltimore’ (Week 9 win over New England) they have destroyed every team they’ve played…I’d even go so far as to say they rocked the 49ers, it was just the constant rain making the field a mess and allowing some good fortune to keep SF close. When I rewatched that 49ers’ game – it was clear Baltimore was better. This is the first game Baltimore has been pushed back upon for real in their recent run to glory.
Baltimore went up 24-9 with 9+ minutes left, and then you really suspected it was over. Not so fast – the Bills answered the ticking clock and cut the two-score deficit with a TD drive in all of 2+ minutes. It was now 24-17 Ravens with 7:00 remaining. Then Buffalo got the key stop…the Ravens couldn’t put Buffalo away with offense when they needed to. The Bills answered that with another drive down the field…they got inside the Ravens red zone and couldn’t convert/score at the end. The Ravens held off the Bills 24-17.
In the sea of things that happened in Week 14, lost is the fact that the Buffalo Bills played one of the most eye-opening games of the week…of the season…but because they didn’t win and we all think ‘Buffalo’ is nothing anyway…and the Saints-49ers game was so cool, and ‘is the Patriots Dynasty over?’ is sooooo important to talk about that it went right past most of us (outside of Bills fans).
The was a HUGE defining moment for the Bills – who also had a ‘tell’ moment Week 4 vs. the Patriots when they got screwed by the refs and knocking Josh Allen out, and then another defining moment Week 13 by smacking Dallas in the mouth.
I can tell you this…I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m betting big on Buffalo +2.0 at Pittsburgh this week.
Buffalo is 9-4, assuming they split with @PIT, @NE the next two games and then beat NYJ Week 17 (if they need to)…they will be 11-5, which should be good enough for the #5 seed…which is huge because the top wild card is going to get a very beatable Houston or Tennessee AFC South winner. The winner of that game goes to Baltimore – a team Buffalo is not afraid of even more now.
Credit to Baltimore…if this Bills team is this good, then going to their place and holding a lead over them the entire game and holding them off at the end – that’s a great sign of the domination of this team. I’ll keep saying it…the Ravens are the best team in the NFL in 5-10+ years. With the Patriots losing, the Ravens are all but assured of a #1 seed…which they will use to dance right through to a Super Bowl win.
…unless the Bills get them first.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I’m telling you, Devin Singletary (17-89-0, 6-29-0/8) is not good…he’s great. He’s going to be the RB1 value I want to build my 2020 dynasty and fantasy teams with.
Bold prediction – he leads the AFC in rushing in 2020 and pushes towards 1,800+ total yards. If healthy. In dynasty leagues, as soon as trading resumes – where I don’t have him already, I’m coming after him hard. I have to see who the Bills add to that backfield this offseason before I go fully nuts.
Rookies Josh Jacobs or Devin Singletary? Singletary…for the price/value.
-- Mark Ingram (15-50-0, 3-29-0/3) scored 5 TDs his first three weeks of the season with two 100+ yard rushing games, but since the Ravens’ offense has evolved more towards all-Lamar since Week 4…Ingram’s numbers are slowing.
Since Week 4, Ingram is the #21 RB in PPR PPG (Singletary #22), and #14 in non-PPR PPG (Singletary #16).
You thought my Singletary enthusiasm in the preseason was misguided after the first few weeks of the season, didn’t you? Who’s laughing now?
-- Mark Andrews (1-14-0/3) is another hot start and then fade as Lamar has stolen all the FF gold.
Weeks 1-2, Andrews ruled the FF world. Since Week 3, Andrews is the #9 non-PPR and PPR TE in PPG. Still good, but not as amazing.
To be fair, Andrews has been dealing with minor injury issues all midseason…but I think he’s just dealing with the same issues Ingram and Marquise Brown (3-0-0/3) are dealing with – Lamar is the money, usually running the ball so a lack of great passer numbers for the receivers, and he’s not totally beholden to any one receiver.
If Andrews is out this week, Hayden Hurst (3-73-1/3) steps into a larger role but is beholden to the same constrictions Andrews has – low targets, low opportunity, needs that TD to make the FF journey worth it.
-- Josh Allen (17-39 for 146 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) has a good chance to finish as a top 12 FF QB this season, when I did not think it would be possible. In fact, I saw Allen as more of a target for a backup QB to push past because of his turnover issues…and a guy to target with opposing DSTs.
It looked smart early on – Allen’s first 4 games this season…3 TDs/6 INTs. Just as planned. Since Week 4, Allen has 14 TDs/2 INTs. He’s also rushed for 8 TDs this season…one more than Lamar Jackson has.
I still see Allen as a passing liability, but he’s playing smarter/safer. He’s not built to bring the Bills from two+ scores down (as he fell short here of it, as an example) but playing within the system, and staying close/getting a lead he’s your guy in frigid temps and higher winds.
-- Josh Allen’s #1 receiver…it’s not John Brown (3-26-0/8) it’s becoming Cole Beasley (4-29-1/7).
Beasley has 6 TDs his last 8 games. 4 or more catches in a game in his past 5 games.
Brown has been under 40 yards in a game, in three straight games.
As teams take away Brown, easy to do…the not as easy to takeaway, and perfect for Allen is playing fast pitch-and-catch with, is Beasley. The one thing Allen has over all QBs in the NFL…he can deliver the ball so quickly that if the short route is simple, and open, he’s going to get it there before a defender can make a second step in coverage.
Beasley is becoming a solid WR2-2.5…and faces a Steelers team that cannot cover slot WRs well. Could be a huge week for Beasley this week.
-- Can you trust the Bills-DST this week against the Steelers?
I think so. The Steelers have the worst QB-RB tandem in the league, which hampers the WRs. The thing is – the Steelers play it even more conservative than the Bills on offense and block well, so it will be low scoring but also lo chances for sacks and turnovers for the Bills-DST.
It’s an OK play, not a great/obvious one.
Snap Counts of Interest:
61 = Singletary
14 = Gore
54 = Boyle
28 = Hurst
09 = M Andrews
33 = Ingram
20 = Edwards
06 = J Hill