2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 9 – 49ers 28, Cardinals 25
*I typically watch/write up the TNF game over the weekend and then publish it Monday morning to start our week, but this game had too much to discuss to let sit for a few days. So, it’s here today and the Week 8 European game (LAR-CIN) will have to be the Monday morning kickoff report.
Week 9 TNF…
If you own Kyler Murray in fantasy, and you moved heaven and earth/clogged up your roster with more QBs in order to acquire Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew, etc., to start this one week because you feared the top flight 49ers’ defense against Kyler and had him benched…well, today you are one of two kinds of fantasy owner/GM…
*And if you started Kyler because you just had to…you’re walking around thrilled today – like the governor called right before they were about to flip the switch to your electric chair. You should enjoy the moment! The beauty of fantasy and watching talented players do well…even with a pinch of big play luck – we need luck, I like luck as a strategy.
If you benched Kyler with a bunch of machinations to replace him this week, you are either feeling like…
1) You are lamenting the solid Kyler fantasy performance and are going to spend the next 24-72 hours whining internally that you wasted all this energy for a Week 9 QB and then there goes Kyler with a QB1 effort. You’re never lucky. You should’ve just stuck with Kyler (of the less than 10 FF points in a game prior two weeks). This only happens to you. You’re sure Carr or Minshew or Darnold or whomever will lay an egg now.
Why can’t Carr-Minshew-Darnold have their 88-yard TD pass moment? Why can’t they throw for 2 TDs, the same as Kyler, but go 300+ yards passing and surpass Kyler’s FF numbers? Kyler was good for FF…your other options are set up to be as good/better.
If you’re already assuming or worrying that they won’t beta Kyler…what happened to you when you were younger that brought this dark cloud upon yourself? What…you would have felt better if your Kyler put up 8 fantasy points?
Don’t psyche yourself out that your non-Kyler starter is already doomed. You could be sitting on a Sunday pot o’ gold and don’t realize it yet.
OR, you feel like…
2) You are/should be happy, possibly overjoyed – you have whatever Week 9 QBs in a position to hang with/outscore a good Kyler event…AND you had the good Kyler event against the best defense in the NFL. You can have faith going forward with Kyler. Win-win potentially this week.
I’m thrilled Kyler had this type of game, and I’ll get into more detail on it in a moment, but I’m pretty confident Stafford-Minshew-Carr-Darnold-Cousins type options will be close/better in scoring…and the majority of them will defeat Kyler with a 300+ yard effort with their 2 or more TDs in great matchups. I’ll wait to be sad if it doesn’t happen. I’m assuming they will be fine…and it’s nice to see Kyler is scoring up there among the good ones this week.
Benching Kyler was the right call pre-kickoff, for those that did. And if your replacement QBs outscore him, or even just get close, then no harm done at all – you get the best of all worlds. On Monday, you may be looking like a genius for a Week 9 win and holding the golden Kyler, with confidence, for Week 10.
Why is this not our default thinking?
To further the positive vibes, I think this game was the turning point of the Arizona Cardinals future. They jumped ahead quickly, first drive, as they tend to do, but this time finishing in the red zone for a quick 7-0 lead. The TD coming from Kenyan Drake – a player acquired on trade deadline week, when other teams made no moves/froze in fear…Arizona’s GM sent a message to the team that they were still ‘going for it’. This team has good energy.
The 49ers scored the next 21 points, and we were all like…welp, I figured Arizona couldn’t hang. 21-7 at the half with a TD as time expired…on a 4th & 1 score where the Cardinals had just stuffed the goal line play but Kliff Kingsbury had called timeout and gave SF a fresh chance they cashed in on. It may have been the thing that cost the Cards the game, in reality. It wasn’t dumb…it was just unfortunate.
Like you, Arizona down 21-7 at the half with SF getting the ball back to start the 2nd-half…I assumed it was game over and my Survivor Pool pick was safe.
The Cards stopped SF right out of the 2nd-half gates, and then went on an 83-yard drive for a TD…YES, A RED ZONE CONVERTED TD!! And cut the lead to 21-14 SF. Did we have a ballgame after all? Nope, SF went right down the field for a TD to go back up 28-14. Surely this game is over.
Nope, wait here comes Arizona again…ehh, wait…another failed red zone effort due to a penalty. Arizona settled for Kliff’s favorite play…a field goal. They had to in that 3rd & too long. 28-17 SF with 9+ minutes left. This is getting interesting but improbable.
Arizona halted SF again, and with less than 4 minutes left…I thought this was ending with a mediocre Kyler fantasy event after all and a 49ers’ cover of the -10. Andy Isabella changed that in an instant…88 yards later it’s 28-25 -- and if the Cardinals can stop the 49ers one more time they have a chance. They didn’t, but what a valiant effort.
Teams have been getting dismantled by the 49ers. San Fran has allowed 3-7-0-13 for points in a game the last 4 weeks. They dominate opposing offenses. Well, Arizona was in the red zone or scored on four of their 9 possessions in the game…three of 4 possessions in the 2nd-half. A major test for Kyler and Kobra Ky – and they passed the test. More than you might realize they passed the test (more on that in a moment).
Arizona loses but has to feel like they won – they hung right with the #1-2 best team/defense in the NFL. The offense took on a new dimension with Drake and Isabella. If Arizona goes out an whacks Tampa Bay Week 10, they rise to 4-5-1 on the season and head to a Week 11 game at San Francisco…a game that isn’t going to scare them at all after this one. If they lose at SF to fall to 4-6-1…they then have a three-game home stand where they can win at least two of 3 and get to 6-7-1 with two games remaining. They got a shot at 6-7-8 wins. If they beat TB Week 10 and then go upset SF Week 11…watch the hell out for Arizona.
So many things trending positive for Arizona, but they are still young and choppy…but what I love is how energetic and unified this team is. They are not the walking dead. There is a bounce in this team’s step. There is a ‘team’ developing here. There is no fear in big moments. There is no depression after losses. I think this is the turning point game in the current franchise – the game where you go ‘OK, we’re definitely heading in the right direction with this Kyler-Kliff thing for the future.’ Kliff will make dumb decisions on things here and there, and Kyler will take some dumb sacks…but they are getting a little better, more refined as you chart the progress all season – and this big test, where I thought they would get smacked…they didn’t. They barely blinked. Wildly impressed with what I saw.
The 49ers may have taken the Cards too lightly, but I think they got a preview of the team that they will have to do battle with for the next few years. It was a statement game…and credit the 49ers for holding it together, holding off Arizona and getting the win. They are the better team right now. They are 8-0, on their way to 12-14 wins. I don’t think they are a great, unbeatable force…but they are very sound and well coached. They can win a Super Bowl this season. They can also get beat 1st-round at home after a BYE by Green Bay or Dallas or New Orleans.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The Kyler Murray (17-24 for 241 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs, 5-34-0) Stock Report…
No David Johnson available. Facing the top defense, arguably, in the NFL…better than the 2018 Bears, potentially…Kyler just waltzes out there without a care in the world and does his thing.
He didn’t throw for 350+ yards and 4 TDs, but against this 49ers defense 240+ yards and 2 TDs is about the equivalent performance.
Did you ever see Murray rattled or at a loss for what was going on? Most of his missed passes, of which there were only 7, were the right decision, thrown in the right spot for the WR in a crowd, or dropped.
I don’t think we can fully appreciate what we are watching unfold here…possibly the best pure QB talent in all the NFL. Shorter Patrick Mahomes with Michael Vick’s legs in an offense built specifically with him in mind. Every week or two, you could chart it on a graph, the Arizona offense efficiency and just ‘look’ climbs higher. It’s not ‘there’ yet. It may not get ‘there’ until 2020. We may lose in fantasy 2019 because it’s a 2020 thing we’re trying to get in 2019 (but he will be a top 10 YTD QB after this week closes in PPG 4pts per pass TD). I don’t know when this switch gets totally flipped, but when it does…it’s going to be something like we’ve never seen before…a video game, a pinball machine of activity. Not because of this offensive design but because of Kyler Murray being the perfect guy for this offensive design.
THIS IS NOT A KINGSBURY THING…it is a Kyler thing, and Kliff can ride his coattails all the way to the bank.
This offense + the extreme throwing talents of Kyler = the greatest QB hope for fantasy scoring in the future. We might be on the verge of just start Kyler every week (over most every fantasy QB, save a few) and see if the magic keeps clicking…to hell with all the other ‘matchup’ concerns, etc.
Re-watching this game today…I am stunned how good, how effortless Kyler Murray is. With some more protection and all his compliment of weapons healthy and more time under his belt…wow.
Kyler notes from this game…
1) Had a couple passes hit guys right in the hands that didn’t get caught. He lost two completions for 35+ yards…ones that could have been real momentum shifters. When Kyler connects more on these…the more sustained drives, Arizona scoring, and fantasy scoring.
2) Kyler had that one designed run, and for a moment it looked like he was going for a 50+ yard TD. You probably had the same thought after… How about some more of those plays, please!
3) I’ve been saying for weeks, like nine of them, that Andy Isabella is the guy that can change everything for this offense…the missing link.
You probably thought like I did, watching it live… Sure, NOW they use Kyler-to-Isabella…when I got Kyler on my bench! Why couldn’t they break that out in the two fantasy duds for Kyler the last few weeks? And Kyler was headed to another weaker fantasy result and then this +7-9-11 or more FF points event (depending upon your scoring system). Did you/do you think -- Boy, Kyler got lucky with a catch and long run by Isabella!!!
That’s about what I was thinking after the play and all night/next day. Then I re-watched the game. Please take a look at this full minute highlight of this play. First, is the normal shot. The important thing is going to be the next replay where the camera is from behind Kyler, seeing what he sees. Then the close up of the throw’s arrival…stunning.
This may have been the best throw a quarterback has made or will make in 2019 season. You can have your kicked in the eye blind toss from Deshaun Watson…I’ll take this: https://youtu.be/MLwbNKYWG3c
Who makes that throw? That was absolutely on the money, in stride, and allows the rest of the play to happen because -- how can you defense/beat that throw? It was not a stare down, lucky desperation toss. Isabella isn’t even used that much. You can see in slow motion replay that Kyler sees it like a great NBA point guard, he sees it well ahead of the reality, and then he barely uses energy to zip a bullet in the most perfect spot it could have been thrown to. I would say ‘lucky throw’ if I hadn’t seen Kyler throw passes like this all year…on the money, only where a receiver can get it, low effort from his body, no big windup, just see it quick and bang. I’m not sure there is a quarterback that is walking the planet or has walked the planet that can do what Kyler is in this offense…such quick decisions, as a rookie, against NFL speed…he’s just not fazed.
We’ll all go back to using Kyler Week 10 with great anticipation…and then he’ll have 10 fantasy points again, but FF aside – we are seeing the most brilliant rookie, pure QB play of our lifetimes, but he does not have the seal of approval from the mainstream, so it’s not fawned over properly…yet. He is the offense. He's not being managed as a young QB...he's just shoved out there to put the offense on his back.
-- OK, is it Andy Isabella (1-88-1/1) time? You would think, but if Kingsbury is stupid enough to watch his offense struggle…possessing Isabella all this time, knowing what he can do (this)…and not using him more/not playing him more snaps…who knows how dumb Kingsbury will be next week? I hope not too dumb, but aside from knowing Kyler was perfect for his system…I don’t know how Kingsbury’s mind works otherwise. He’s made some baffling decisions.
Isabella would only be this…a homerun hitter right now. Kirk-Fitzgerald are the primaries. Isabella won’t be a top target yet. Maybe 2020.
Isabella is the missing piece I was talking about for weeks. If we get fully starting, integrated Isabella…it takes Kyler to a whole new level.
…and if 6’6” Hakeem Butler gets right…Kirk-Fitz-Isabella-Butler-DJ/Edmonds will be the greatest offensive show we’ve ever seen with Kyler at the helm.
-- I haven’t even gotten to Kenyan Drake (15-110-1, 4-52-0/4) yet.
What a debut! Looks like the best RB on the planet. I’m sure this week in Arizona will be filled with…”We should trade David Johnson in the offseason, and sign Drake!” There’s nothing like NFL fans and media…life only exists if a thing happened the last 1-3 days.
Oh, now you’re worried because you’re holding David Johnson in fantasy. You think Drake is better? You saw it last night!?!
There’s a big difference when defenses are geared up to stop a running back as a primary plan as compared to when they aren’t as concerned. There’s an advantage for Arizona when defenses are concerned about DJ. Edmonds was your star the last two weeks, and just a week later now you’re sure Kenyan Drake is the star. What happened to your Edmonds knee-jerk?
David Johnson is in a class by himself…an all-Pro WR playing RB in a passing game that wants to throw to RBs like they were WRs. Drake is nice, but Arizona is not moving DJ to make room for new starter Drake. There is no reason to…there are a thousand Drake’s out there to get if needed. They already have one with Edmonds, much cheaper in payroll.
DJ will go right back to lead back the moment he can, and he’ll not have big rushing days like Drake because the defense stacks him and dares Kyler to beat them. Once Kyler is beating them…then DJ or whomever will start running all over to go with as well.
You think they’re going to split or bench DJ for Drake? Next, you’ll tell me the Rams are benching Gurley for Henderson? The Bills ditching Gore for Singletary? Carroll going with Penny over Carson this week? DJ walks right back in as ‘the man’ when he can, and Drake will be a compliment a la what Edmonds was doing prior.
-- Maybe the most surprising thing I saw this game was just how beatable Patrick Peterson (3 tackles) has become…or Emmanuel Sanders (7-112-1/9) is a Hall of Famer now? Peterson was a step behind all night it seemed.
The Arizona defense has been improving since Peterson returned, but this night showed he’s not the shutdown guy to be feared like he used to be.
Jimmy Garoppolo (28-37 for 317 yards, 4 TDs/0 INT) took advantage. Jimmy G’s numbers have been terrible this season but he ‘got right’ here. The 49ers try to run all over opponents, and Arizona was smart – they overplayed the RBs and made the WRs beat them – and they did. We’ll probably see a repeat Week 11 when they meet again.
Sanders is definitely ‘the guy’ for Jimmy G. That happened fast. The Arizona defense helped. Choppy schedule ahead for Sanders.
-- Speaking of the Kenyan Drake Hall of Fame ceremonies…Tevin Coleman (12-23-0, 2-13-0/4) was the greatest RB in the world…last week. This week, not so much. Things change fast in the SF backfield. I’d just rather have no part of it if I could.
Matt Breida (15-78-0, 2-14-0/2) looks like the lead guy/starter to me, with Tevin splitting pretty evenly with him. Every week it’s a guessing game for fantasy. I hate that.
-- This was my fear for Christian Kirk (2-8-0/5, 1-8-0) – the 49ers realized Kyler throws to him way too much. Smartly, Kyler recognized it and worked elsewhere. Tampa Bay Week 10 doesn’t have the talent to shutdown WRs like SF can. Kirk will be a play next week, but not strong Week 11 at SF.
-- Budda Baker (13 tackles, 2 TFLs, 3 PDs) put up a Defensive Player of the Year tape in this game. He was the low-key reason Arizona was in this game. He broke up a few key 1st-down passes and made several impressive tackles.
-- Now, we enter a weird phase for the 49ers-DST…
Arguably the best pure defense in the league, BUT…faces Wilson-Kyler-Rodgers-Lamar-Brees the next five weeks. Which side will win…or will it just make SF ‘good’ not great?
I’m more in the ‘play them’ mode because they have shown to be so great, but just deciding to stream DSTs instead isn’t a crazy option either. No real juicy matchups remain on the SF schedule the rest of the way. Scoring opportunity/upside will be down.
Snap Counts of Interest:
48 = Drake
03 = Morris
01 = Zenner
25 = KeeSean Johnson
17 = Pharoh Cooper
13 = Isabella
03 = Sherfield
41 = Coleman
29 = Breida
02 = Mostert
02 = Wilson