2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 9 – Broncos 24, Browns 19
*I just watched Colin Cowherd’s Monday segment discussing the Browns, and he touched on some of the things I’ve written to start this…but I promise you I wrote mine before I watched his. And Colin was right about this all along, so he knows more about this than I do – but his take was refreshing (and apology given) and I’ll include after my opener if you want to listen/watch his discussion.
The Browns are officially done for 2019. They could’ve had a new lease on life with two things happening Sunday…they beat the Broncos (nope), and you know the Ravens would lose to the Patriots (nope). The sliver of a chance the Browns had went completely the opposite way. They are done.
You could realize they are done by looking at the standings, or you could have just watched this game. The Browns just keep getting worse…and now there is no more ‘but their schedule ahead’ to save them. Without that slim thing to hang on to…the thing that has been awful all year (the Browns) is about to have a full-scale meltdown.
The first half of the season was bad play, but now with the season effectively overcomes the internal issues…the infighting. The stars wanting to leave the team (OBJ and Landry). The GM under fire for putting together this mess. The head coach who, rightfully or wrongfully, will be the fall guy. Baker should just go quiet the rest of the season because all the people about to start chirping and fighting will be gone next year – the diva WRs and the head coach, and possibly the GM.
We all joke for years ‘it’s the Browns’, but we all would have to say that’s a real thing – and it’s not a jinx or curse…it’s that this organization is corrupted, dysfunctional from the owner and it bleeds down everywhere. Even before the current owner, they ran Bill Belichick off. They can’t fix this by accident (*see also…the Jets and Bucs).
The more I watch of this Browns team/this specific game, and think back over the season…I am asking myself today – why do I want to have a ton of fantasy confidence in Baker Mayfield through all this? Why do I think ‘next year will be better’? I have been thinking about it all day after re-watching this game – how stupid am I to say, for the future…”Well, if they just replace all the WRs and get a new head coach.” Smart, R.C.! Yes, all the Browns need to do is do something right on several critical items and it’s all fixed. Of course, you can trust the owner and the organization to fix this…why look at their track record. Easy-peasy.
Sometimes I outthink myself. Sometimes, I stick to talent and look past the organization like the fix is just so simple…just do this, this, and this, and you’ll be fine. Why do I want to throw in with the Browns being able to fix their ills THIS TIME? How many times does Lucy have to pull the football upon my approach before I just kick her instead?
After I typed the last few sentences, and after pondering it all day…I went just (literally) stopped typing and went and deleted my ‘Buy Low’ note on Baker for the long-term view and the maybe a Week 11+ bounce for this season. I’m not pushing this anymore. I believe in Baker’s talents, but at what price am I going to ram my head up against a wall with this whole organization? It cost me a lot of bad starts to fantasy 2019, betting on Baker as a cheap Mahomes alternative. I might be right down the road, but I’m not going to put a lot of energy into this anymore. They have to prove to me that something is going to go right.
I believed in Jared Goff before he hit the NFL. Then Jeff Fisher’s offense killed him, and the masses believed it was because Goff sucked and was a bust. I stuck by Goff, and then Sean McVay came in and Goff was a top 5 fantasy QB in 6pts per pass TD leagues about halfway into his 1st-year with McVay and then had another great FF season and took the team to a Super Bowl the following year. If Jeff Fisher stayed as his head coach…none of that would have happened. It all would have been a disaster and his career would probably be on the ropes today. Instead, he’s a good NFL QB. Not the best but definitely better than most. Not the bust they all thought after year one. The head coach matters. The organization matters.
Freddie Kitchens is not helping Baker Mayfield. I thought he would help him by giving him a blank check to throw, which has kinda happened – the issue is the plays are lazy…all medium/deep throws with short timing slants and no one hardly open…and most plays/routes run by two diva WRs who are dropping passes and giving 50-75% effort and then there is a collection of XFL level talent options otherwise. There was a key play in this game where KhaDarel Hodge, Antonio Callaway, and Stephen Carlson were running the routes to nowhere. And more than once I saw two guys running routes in the same area (but not as a pick play) collecting the defenders in the area to make the pass more covered because of the congestion.
It’s a mess, and this game took the cake. Four of the first 6 drives (in the 1st-half) for the Browns were taken down into Denver territory…against a good Denver D…and they came away with all field goals. Several red zone opportunities blown. One of the failed end zone moments was Baker hitting someone for the score, but they landed a foot out of bounds. The next play, Baker threw to the right spot to lead Jarvis Landry, who tripped and fell in the end zone and the pass sailed away…so they went field goal next. It’s been that kind of year.
I didn’t mean to get on a Baker rant, because it’s really a Browns’ rant…a virus that cannot be cured, but I keep thinking it can be. I’m the idiot. I burned myself on it to start the fantasy season, probably cost myself a win going with Baker over Kyler early season. It’s the little things.
I don’t want to be over reactionary to one event…that’s what amateurs do, and what I try to take advantage of. But this is not a reaction to one week…this the entire season, and if anything I held faith too long.
I have no problem making mistakes. I hate it, but in FF they are going to happen. Fantasy is a game of mistakes…started Diontae Johnson over Preston Williams a few times this week, did you? That happens all the time…I just trust I will make more right decisions over time than others will. What I cannot afford to do…is keep being wrong on the same thing over and over, holding onto a bad hand trying to draw the perfect card to get it to pay off.
The Browns have talent but usurping that is the terrible organization and management and the two highest-paid players in the organization ruining the whole structure. I’ve been waiting for the turn upward since Week 1. I’ve been a defender. I’m not reacting to this game…it’s nine weeks. Colin Cowherd was 1,000% right about all of this all along -- and I was 300% wrong on it for fantasy…and as a bettor. I was the fool. I don’t want to be the fool anymore on this team. I’m late to the party…but I’m at the party, so let’s party.
You have to fear this Browns thing is really going to meltdown now. Some real ugly activity…and I fear it’s going to be Baker vs. OBJ and divide the locker room and offense, etc. I fear OBJ is just going to quit more than he already has…I saw him more than once in this game never move when the ball was snapped when it was a running play. He could’ve run a fake route and taken his defender away with him. Instead, he stood there and let the defender realize it was not coming their way and he went off to try to help…as OBJ stood there. Jarvis Landry dropped another pass over the middle in a key spot early. OBJ dropped another 1-2 passes that will be forgiven because he made a really good/highlight reel catch later in the game. Both OBJ and Landry ran the risk of getting removed from the field if they didn’t change their cleats with drawings, etc., on them. OBJ going with the cliched ‘Joker’ cleats, which is probably a window into his soul – a man being driven mad by playing a game he hates/doesn’t want to play anymore because he wants the money. I’m sure he knows he’s a whore at this stage…giving half effort for years, dropping a bunch of passes, while wowing the crowds pregame with one-handed catches in practice. Like the Joker…he’s a fraud, and lives in his own reality. OBJ has become the classic – better when there is no defender wide receiver. The great in shorts and a tshirt WR. You mocked the Giants for trading OBJ this offseason? You owe them an apology.
If OBJ and Landry are this bad now, what’s going to happen when the season is out of hand from here on in? We’ve seen NFL players throw fits and get themselves cut and traded multiple times in 2019…you know OBJ is going there. Landry is his shadow, and is a full of shit diva, overpaid WR as well…so he’ll do whatever OBJ is doing. It’s going to be UGLY real soon. OBJ and Landry have contracts that say they are the most important thing and they run the show and they can do whatever they want.
I noticed in this game – Baker wasn’t even looking at OBJ much of the game, early on. Almost like he was doing it on purpose. When the game was going down, Baker started throwing passes to OBJ all of the sudden…passes like he was trying to get him hurt/embarrassed or shut him up or I don’t know. The late throws were so uncharacteristic by Baker to OBJ…I think something was up. I think I see no confidence in OBJ by Baker now…which means a fight between them is coming. Or a bunch of throws to placate OBJ…which will then lead to more drops and picks.
Again, it’s a mess. Freddie Kitchens might be great or terrible as a coach, but his hands are tied with OBJ and Landry because the two of them make about 50x more than Kitchens does. What I see of the pass plays, routes being run…I’ll guess Kitchens is as bad as all the other offensive coordinators and is in a no-win situation coaching divas who are in control of things on a doomed franchise. It may be that the diva WRs won’t work over the middle so he can’t go with pick plays/routes, etc. He has to send them medium-deep where they will be safer from hits. I don’t know but I watch their red zone plays in slow motion on All-22 film and Baker has nowhere to throw all the time.
The Browns schedule allows them to possibly win their next five games in-a-row, but they way they are headed…they might not win any of them. It looks like 5-6 wins total for the Browns this season. If they can beat Buffalo this week, maybe they stop the bleeding and can rally hosting the Steelers Week 11…but more likely is they lose to Buffalo and further implode. 3-4 wins wouldn’t shock me, 5-6-7 if they rally…but I need to bet against this organization not against this schedule.
Also, Denver played in this game. They were outgunned here, but they have better coaching…so, it allowed the Broncos to just play it safe, and just let the Browns make mistakes. The Broncos had just two wins going into this game, but they are well-coached and won. They gave 110% effort and won with a backup, journeyman QB in a debut game. The Broncos were lucky and hard-working, and the Browns just face planted in front of them.
I’m happy Denver did win…they jump to 3-6 and are playing better ball each week. I need Denver to get to 7 and 8 wins to push and payoff some preseason over/under win total bets…so this win gives me a slim hope Denver closes strong and gets a good bounce or two to pull it off. They are better than their 3-6 record, and Vic Fangio is a good head coach, and they should be 5-4 right now. We project 6 wins to the finish with 7 wins the max amount. 4 wins if they push Drew Lock into the mix.
Colin’s take: https://youtu.be/f_s4V2Itl5E
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- As I re-watched this game, I am fine with Baker Mayfield’s play (27-42 for 273 yards, 1 TD/0 INT). But, again, what does it matter if everything around him is a mess? Either Baker is bad…or he’s good in a bad situation – either way it’s not likely going to be shocking for fantasy the next few weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick has more swagger/effectiveness. Derek Carr is playing great football in a smart offensive scheme with nice blocking on a cohesive unit. Why am I trying to worry about Baker making some grand comeback to fantasy relevance ahead? The only thing changing is the opponent…the other messes still continue to rage on.
My only interest in Baker is on teams where I need to get on a 4-game win streak to have any hope of the playoffs, in 6pts per pass TD with 300+ bonuses and I am throwing caution to the wind/throwing a hail mary.
Week 12 Baker vs. Miami for my Kyler or Mahomes BYE week guy.
With solid FF teams, all with Kyler and/or Mahomes at QB, I’ve been grabbing Derek Carr, Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins over the past few weeks to use for the crisis -- but holding onto Baker in some of those redrafts hoping for a turn. I think I’ll just stick with Carr-Stafford-Cousins and drop Baker instead of holding him for one game to use.
Long-term, I have hope for Baker…he’s built for fantasy numbers. And things change quick in the NFL. He could be a stud in 2020…or not. But in 2019 redraft, I’m moving on fully unless I’m among the Sam Darnold or Mason Rudolph type options for Week 12.
-- If Baker is dead, so too is Odell Beckham (5-87-0/6)…and I’ve been on that for several weeks. I’ve traded him off or benched him over the past several weeks.
His lone value…in Dynasty…what if he winds up on the Patriots in 2020?
I think Odell has an Odell issue, not a team/QB issue. He will have now failed in two places, looking for #3 with the Pats or Saints or Rams. Antonio Brown has kinda ruined it for nutty WRs to be taken seriously by good teams. I would bet my life that Odell is not a Brown next year, so if I had him in Dynasty…I’d just hold and wait for the Patriots rumors and then make a deal when they peak or when it really happens.
Is Tom Brady going to be there next year?
If Odell gets cut, very possible…I could see him just walking away for good. His contract was frontloaded to get all his money in 2018 and 2019…like $20M and $20M each season. He needed to play this year to cash out. He can be cut for $3M hit before March something 2020…or if kept he gets another $11M guaranteed. That guarantee with CLE won’t happen. He’ll be traded or cut ahead of that. Odell might sucker one more big deal out of a team, but it’s likely not the Patriots. They’d be too smart for that. OBJ might take a friendly deal to play for New England, but we’ll see.
-- Jarvis Landry (6-51-1/13) will not stay in Cleveland and be happy once OBJ is ditched. Landry is as good as gone as well. He either gets cut for a $4.5M hit, or in March 2020 his $13M contract becomes guaranteed if rostered.
Landry got overpaid and is a limited talent…and he will find work, but he is not much of a fantasy factor in the future. It would have to be the perfect place at the perfect time. What smart organization is overpaying a big deal to Landry in 2020?
-- Nick Chubb (20-65-0, 4-26-0/5) is quietly hurt (for FF) by all this chaos – if the Browns can’t move the ball and score, it hurts Chubb. And, now…they need to showcase Kareem Hunt so they can trade him in the offseason.
If the Browns were back in the thick of the playoff hunt…the Browns ride Chubb. Now, we get some Hunt…even if just to give Chubb less wear and tear. I don’t think it’s a 50-50 split by any means, but it will be like 5-8 carries and 2-4 targets for Hunt, the 3rd-down back instead of Hilliard.
I wanted Cleveland-alive Chubb for fantasy ahead…I don’t love, as much, Cleveland-dead Chubb for fantasy.
-- Let’s stop talking about the stupid Browns…
Brandon Allen (12-20 for 193 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT) made his debut, and had decent numbers and got a win. He was Kyle Allen capable. Safe throws. Got lucky with a Courtland Sutton circus catch TD and then the Noah Fant breaks three tackles and takes a 10-yard play and makes it into a 75-yard TD.
If Fant was simply tackled, Allen might not have hit 150 yards and a TD. Vic Fangio is a good NFL head coach…but he’s not good for fantasy. They are going to play small ball and try to win every game 17-14.
All we can say is…Allen isn’t terrible, which is what I thought. He’s fine. He’s solid.
-- I like that Allen was smart enough to just put it out there to Courtland Sutton (5-56-1/8). Allen was just going to Sutton any time he could. Sutton will be as-good, better with Allen than Flacco because Allen knows where the talent is. If the Broncos are down in a game, and have to throw more (than this 12 completion game)…Sutton could have some nice garbage fantasy work.
Ditto Noah Fant (3-115-1/4). Suddenly, Fant is being taken more seriously by the team as a real passing game threat.
2.3 catches on 3.3 targets per game = Fant, Weeks 1-6
3.0 catches on 6.0 targets per game = Fant, Weeks 7-9
I’m seeing the very early signs of Denver’s awareness that Fant is a talent to use more much like 2018 Darren Waller in Oakland late in the prior season. I don’t know that we’ll get to use it for fantasy…but with all the BYE weeks, you could do worse for a one-week gamble among the waiver TEs.
Sutton and Fant has 12 targets combined…the rest of the team combined for 6 targets.
-- Denver 2nd-year CB Devonate Harris (7 tackles, 2 PDs) has started at corner the last 4 games…4 games the Broncos’ defense has allowed 0-23-15-19 offensive points in games. His tackle counts are rising and now making some pass defenses as well.
-- Should we take the Broncos-DST seriously ahead? The last five games they have allowed 13-0-23-15-19 offensive points in games (14.0 PPG). They are getting better every week under Fangio. They are the #12 DST in PPG the last five weeks in fantasy.
I want to get onboard, as I was in Week 1 in too many leagues, but all their injuries PLUS this schedule ahead…hard to trust. BYE-@MIN-@BUF-LAC-@HOU-@KC-DET-OAK to finish the season. They might be solid Weeks 12-13 with BUF-LAC, but not so hot you need to do anything about it now.
Snap Counts of Interest:
47 = Sutton
43 = Fant
32 = DaeSean Hamilton
25 = Dionte Spencer
26 = Royce
23 = Lindsay
36 = Callaway
15 = Higgins
08 = Hodge
51 = Dem. Harris
23 = Stv Carlson
22 = Seals-Jones