2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 9 – Ravens 37, Pats 20
I saved this game for a few days before re-watching/writing up because I wanted some time to think about a couple of things. I have two feelings gnawing at me from this game, both bigger picture…and one of them ramifications for my 2020 scouting analytics and process. My first (#1) we’ll hit here in the opener, and (#2) we’ll hit in the player section. They are big deals to me, in my world…and trickles down through my fantasy projections and handicapping in the future.
There was a lot of interesting stuff to unpack from this game. I have five player notes I want to hit and four of them are bigger picture, big shift or ‘upon further review’ events potentially.
When I watched this game live, I walked away with the impression you might have… Wow, great start for the Ravens, but did anyone notice how the Patriots got right back in the game and took control and were on the verge of taking that lead back, but then that Edelman fumble turned the game back around. I left the live watch thinking…the Patriots are fine, the Ravens are good but just had ‘one of those games’, and if they met again this week -- I’d pick the Patriots.
Anyone track with those same thoughts this week?
After re-watching this game, taking study notes, observing more things from an all-22 tape view, and slow-mo watches of things, etc. – I walk away thinking (#1a)…the Patriots are really not that good…in ‘Patriots’ teams…one of the worst Patriots teams in years (but still can/will win the Super Bowl). You can never doubt Belichick, so life on the line…I’m with Bill. But, honestly, this might not be a very good Patriots team at all – we’re just head faked into their greatness because they are the Patriots and mostly because they’ve had the most garbage schedule any NFL team has ever had to start a season. Anytime the Patriots have faced a decent team (BUF, BAL) this season…they’ve been beyond mortal.
There’s always an overreaction to ‘what just happened’ last week -- ‘Patriots are the greatest’ for weeks, and then a week/a loss later ‘the dynasty is over’. That’s what the mainstream football media does…they’re constant fools. Nothing they do should sway us, but they still tend to. I am trying not to overact to this one game. I’ve been suspect of the Patriots because of this schedule for weeks – just taking a position of ‘we don’t know how good or bad they are, yet’. I’m starting to think they are just another contender…actually, worse talent than some top NFL teams…but they have Bill and that’s the great equalizer.
Thinking about this game and the season…I am left wondering/suspecting that not only are the Patriots not the obvious best team in the NFL, but they may not be a top 3 obvious team. They may be just one of the top 10 teams that needs Bill & Tom to get them over (and they usually do). That it’s not a dominating defense…it’s just ‘very good’. It’s not anywhere near ‘peak Brady’ on offense. That all the O-Line injuries and the revolving door at kicker – it’s going to catch up with them. It did here.
The Patriots as top 10 good, not top 3 good is my ‘1a’ feeling. My ‘1b’ feeling is…the Ravens truly are better than the Patriots, top to bottom, and the bonus is – the Ravens have no fear of the Patriots. John Harbaugh is Bill Belichick’s worst nightmare. Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin piss their pants/are not a real match for Bill. John Harbaugh is low key becoming one of the 3-4 best coaches in the NFL…and I’ve not been much of a fan before. Respected him but didn’t agree with some of his moves (which is why he’s fallen short so many years lately).
You have to give credit for him taking the Lamar Jackson card and winning with it. You have to adapt, and most coaches don’t, and Harbaugh did…even if by dumb luck he did. He’s making it work. This Ravens team has meticulously rebuilt the defense that was struggling early (adding Earl Thomas in the preseason and trading for Marcus Peters and him not having to be their top corner), gotten some guys back off injury (Jimmy Smith), have a top O-Line, and then the magic of Lamar…plus, the most underrated MVP candidate in the NFL – the best kicker in the history of the game, Justin Tucker. The Ravens have a lot going for them all of a sudden…it’s not just Lamar making plays.
Many of us left the live view of this thinking…yeah, but I’d take the Pats this week if they played again. I thought that too. The more I look at the season, and the latest results, and where the Ravens are at health-wise – I’d take the Ravens. I think the Ravens are better built for success, right now, than the Patriots. Me saying that…is a major shift in my life. That’s like me abandoning Christianity to worship the golden calf. I can’t believe I’m saying it – but I cannot deny what I am seeing. I’m always pro-Pats, and mostly anti-Ravens…and right about the Pats, and more wrong about the Ravens over the years. This is deeper than ‘Lamar’, but he’s a big factor.
Now, also note… Every time I think the Ravens aren’t very good…they win/have a winning record/do good things. Whenever I have moments of clarity with the Ravens…I guarantee they will lose to Cincy this week and Lamar will tear every ACL in his body jogging onto the field pregame. That aside, I have to train my mind to think even higher of Baltimore and lesser of New England…to wash away hardcore beliefs/biases I carry from the past.
As far as the game itself…it showed me that the Ravens are very good, but beatable. I’m not saying the Ravens are the #1 team in the NFL here either. They might be, but not unbeatable.a sure Super Bowl thing by a long shot. The Ravens were spotted a 17-0 lead after a quarter and meandered on offense after that. The story of this game is more how good the Ravens defense has gotten with Jimmy Smith back. It just fits perfectly. And what a great add Earl Thomas was. I don't like spending money on safeties, I’d rather home grow them…but Thomas is still a great player, and more importantly – not intimidated by the Patriots.
New England could beat Baltimore, home or away, when next they meet…I just don’t think it is the obvious given I thought it would be after re-watching this game and re-looking over the season. If I had to pick NE v BAL this week…I’d go Ravens for another win.
The Patriots are 8-1 and they have several good teams to play ahead…@PHI-DAL-@HOU-KC. The Ravens just gave courage to some of those teams to go beat NE. I’d say the Pats will go 2-2 in those four games and then win out, if they want to. 13-3 season. Kansas City can dream of a #1 seed if they get Mahomes back, win their next two and then go to Foxboro and beat the Pats Week 14…a lot of ‘ifs’.
Baltimore is in a great situation. 6-2 in the worst division in football aside from the AFC East. They also have some rough games ahead. Week 13 hosting the 49ers should be awesome to watch. 11-12 wins for the Ravens now as a projection but if they beat either @LAR Week 12 or SF Week 13…maybe they are in the AFC #1 seed discussion. Their Week 3 loss to KC could come back to haunt them for any BYE.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Big picture, big shift note #2…
I have to further change my NFL Draft scouting to more accommodate the running/highly mobile QB. I have been shifting it for a couple of years, given the change in the NFL to some accommodating the spread offense. I’ve been slow to embrace because, like my Lamar Jackson 2018 scouting report I just reread), I see the value in them…but have no faith the NFL will do the right thing by them. That concept seems to be going by the wayside.
However, I have an additional theory on why the running QB will be all the rage from here on in. Actually, two reasons…
1) Lamar Jackson’s success will set off a ‘Me Too’ movement of NFL teams trying any half-baked QB who can run fast. Especially if Lamar wins an MVP and/or Super Bowl this year or next.
Scouts gotta be able to find real talent, not just the bad QBs who can move well…when the Giants (and analysts) start saying Daniel Jones can be their Lamar Jackson, I’m going to lose my mind.
There is a certain profile we’ll have to be able to identify…and just ’good 40-time’ is not it.
2) Most importantly…something I am thinking about more and will study this offseason:
If you assume most every offensive coordinator in the NFL is a giant idiot, and I mean…by and large it’s the worst group of coaches there is in the NFL…one way to bypass your stupid O-Cs and their dumb My Little Pony playbook they’ve been drawing up plays in since they were 13 years old – just go get a Lamar Jackson and let him make plays. No need for a complex playbook or savvy play calling. Just let Lamar win it…which Cam Newton was the forerunner of, but old-school coaches and me/old-school scouts and/or fans didn’t like that style. We wanted ‘next Tom Brady’. ‘Next Tom Brady’ is dead. You take Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, etc. -- I’ll take ‘don’t look pretty in the pocket’ Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson (or in-prime Cam Newton). That prior statement may be the future of the NFL…and that’s a shock to the system for sure.
Tim Tebow came along in the wrong era.
4th & 3 from the opponent's 35-yard line…to ice the game or keep it alive late in the contest…who do you want with the ball to make a play? Matt Ryan or Lamar Jackson? Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson? Baker Mayfield or in-prime Cam Newton?
That’s the future of football. You don’t need a fancy playbook with Lamar Jackson on 4th & 3. The Lions just lost a game on a 4th & 1 last play of the game at the goal line because they went three TEs and faked a run from a run game no one was scared of, and thus three slow TEs weren’t open on the pass, and Matt Stafford was certainly not running to extend the play. The Matt Stafford’s of the world…are dead…or they should be. It will take the NFL another 5-10+ years to wash out the old guard coaches and QBs. Watch Belichick start drafting mobile QBs, and then you’ll know…
My whole scouting model and theory was built on – ‘Finding the next Aaron Rodgers’. Guess what? That era is dead. I need to re-do my scouting models to not only identify the ‘next Brady’s’ but also the ‘next Lamar’s’ – and they are two totally different mindsets. I’ve already started in recent years (it’s why I liked Tyree Jackson as a deep sleeper this draft season…a developmental Lamar), but now I need to go after this new QB scouting even stronger.
The rise of the new era of QB is going to come in part because of their talents, but also in part because of the NFL offensive coordinators like Norv Turner, Matt Nagy, Andy Reid, etc. – they have no place in the future…and many of them kill teams with terrible offensive planning and who they sit/start and give the most touches too. Making Kyle Allen plausible is really cool…but it ain’t beating Deshaun or Lamar, or going to win any playoff games. I have to adapt to this new mindset…and it will be 3-5 years ahead of when the NFL does (fully).
For fantasy…these runner-passers are where it is at. Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson are more coveted than Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff…and, maybe, more so over Patrick Mahomes depending upon the scoring system. 4 or 6pts per pass TD really matters when deciding these things in the future.
-- I left this re-watch thinking, as well. “Oh, great…now Mohammed Sanu (10-871-1/14) is great and Phillip Dorsett (2-13-0/4) is a nobody!”. Upon further review…
Jimmy Smith man-to-man took out Dorsett. No crime there, and Brady saw it too. What the Ravens did do…is let Sanu go wherever he wanted and Brady saw that and kept using it. If teams next week+ shift to cover Sanu, and they will next time after seeing the numbers here, then Dorsett will get more action.
This Sanu thing was a crime of opportunity…not Brady forcing it to happen. Dorsett is not dead, but not a must-hold either. Sanu is not this guy every week…trade it hot if you can.
-- Sony Michel (4-18-0) had quite the game! Just remember, this game was Pats down 17-0 in a blink. The run game was abandoned, and they threw 46 times (BAL 23 times) and only ran the ball 17 times (BAL 41 times) as the Ravens had a 37/23 time of possession advantage.
Normal Patriots flow is – get a lead and stay balanced. They aren’t usually down 17 points EVER, especially not in the first 16 minutes of games.
This game, for fantasy, from the Patriots side…shouldn’t change any of our projections going forward.
-- Marquise Brown (3-48-0/4) had a dull game, as you’d expect facing the Pats defense but also note…again, the Ravens got up quick and just sat on the lead with the run game. When the Ravens want or need to throw…Brown is the guy. And I was a skeptic on him, but he just looks really good/quality to me…thin-framed but good at what he does and is Lamar’s BFF target.
Brown may not be a fantasy star of the future because of the run game dominance but in leagues with long play TD bonuses…you want Marquise. The DeSean Jackson of the future. Non-PPR better than PPR.
-- I was skeptical of the Ravens defense coming into this. Change that, I was completely mocking the Ravens defense going in…for good reason – low sacks, thumped by KC and CLE and mild/OK against PIT-CIN-SEA. But with Jimmy Smith back and (the key) the time of possession dominance the Ravens have (#1 in the league) – it helps the defense produce numbers, hold teams to lower yards.
Rookie DT Jaylon Ferguson is giving the Ravens-D a boost of late, and SAF Chuck Clark is getting better as a starting safety (for Jefferson injury).
Looking at the Ravens overall 2019, the metrics are ‘meh’…looking at the more recent results and what could be with Jimmy Smith back – you’ll see jumps more and more in our projections on them.
The problem with totally loving them is…HOU-LAR-SF the next few weeks. For those FF teams in great shape, the Baltimore-DST Weeks 14-16 schedule of @BUF, NYJ, @CLE is pretty hot.
Snap Counts of Interest:
56 = Boyle
27 = Hurst
23 = Andrews
67 = Sanu
67 = Edelman
66 = Dorsett
01 = Meyers
28 = White
24 = Burkhead
15 = Michel