2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 1 Game Analysis: Chargers 16, Bengals 13
I take notes during the live watch. I re-watch the game on tape looking for hidden clues to report on. Here are my notes/takes on what I saw and how it related to FF 2020. I write anywhere from 1,000-3,000+ words on each game, and I have to move fast to get to all of them through the week…so, please forgive any typos/grammar.
The Chargers are a tough out – because of a rugged defense. Stout front four. Improved linebacking. Two good+ corners. It’s a top NFL defense. Their offense is pretty flimsy, but it plays to the defense…ball control, run game, no turnovers, hope to win 16-13 type games.
We think of the Bengals as ‘lesser’ (for good reason). They started a rookie QB in his debut game…quite a tough first matchup. A lot of things favoring LAC here, but I tell you that the Bengals played toe-to-toe here…and, for me, were the slightly better team this day (because of the QB differential mostly).
The Chargers are who you think they are…a scrappy, defense-first .500 team trying to sneak to 9-7. Four tough games ahead with KC-CAR-@TB-@NO. The Chargers should be 2-3 after Week 5, but if they are 1-4…this thing might be over already. If they come out of this stretch 3-2…the playoffs (wild card) are in sight. I think they’re going to be a 6-7-8 win team overall still.
The Bengals should’ve won…they hit a TD pass late for the win, but it was called back for a touchy P.I. They then missed a chip shot FG to tie when the kicker hurt himself approaching the kick. The Bengals are going to be the Bengals…
…but I think they might go whack the Browns on TNF Week 2 and send their Ohio brethren really reeling.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s report out on Joe Burrow’s (23-36 for 193 yards, 0 TD/1 INT, 8-46-1) debut…
My first impression (live) was it was what you’d expect from a rookie…a little wobbly, a bit underwhelming, but not bad.
My impression after the rewatch – it was, for a rookie debut against a top NFL defense, a REALLY fine debut. You have to consider how good the LAC pass defense is and watch Burrow not flinch, comfortably dissect it a lot to really grade this performance. It was a tough first ‘test’. Burrow wasn’t all that shaky. He looked mostly comfortable and in control and already 10x better than Tyrod Taylor. Burrow looked shaky at times when under the LAC pressure, but I thought he really handled it well and didn’t look like a rookie at all/overall. Very impressed.
Because Burrow breathes life into the team, because it now has a real QB who gives them a chance to win…the whole team played better/with more pep. Burrow was down 16-13 with 3:06 left and embarked on a final, 14-play drive that had his game winning TD pass called back or it would have been a legendary debut…a come from behind win against a very stout defense.
If you have Burrow as your #2 fantasy QB, which he and Gardner Minshew (and Matt Stafford) have been part of our 2nd QB plan behind Mahomes-Lamar…then you’re in good shape. Burrow is only going to get better and he will run the ball too.
I think, having to decide right now, I’d rather have Burrow over Minshew for 2020 in 4pts per pass TD (because of the running differential)…not having to need to use either for a few weeks and letting them develop more. Six points per pass TD, is a toss-up but might lean Minshew for the conditions he’ll play in and be in situations for more throwing. If I knew they were going to get equal pass attempts…if I knew that the rest of the season…in a few weeks, I’d want Burrow from that point going forward.
Burrow is as good as advertised…and he likes to run it occasionally, and he’s a savvy runner.
-- Who does Burrow like to throw to?
It’s only been a game, so we’re jumping to conclusions that might be bad, but…
A.J. Green (5-51-0/9) seemed to be preferred, but honestly Burrow was not leaning on anyone. Burrow is a smart QB and takes what is there. He doesn’t have to force or play pitch and catch.
Which that last statement hurts pitch and catch WR Tyler Boyd (4-33-0/5), who didn’t get his first catch until midway through the 3rd-quarter. There will be better days ahead for Boyd, as Burrow grows…Boyd will rise too.
What really caught my attention was how comfortable Burrow was throwing to C.J. Uzomah (4-45-0/5)…there was a near-miss 20+ yard TD that coulda/shoulda happened between them. It’s Uzomah as the FF play way over Drew Sample (1-7-0/1). CJU looking decent makes sense, when you think about it – Burrow made terrible Thaddeus Moss a star in college, he can make average CJU a viable option in the NFL. I thought Sample might hitch a ride, but it looks strongly that it's Uzomah.
Uzomah had 49 snaps, Sample 24.
-- Then there is the other QB…Tyrod Taylor (16-30 for 208 yards, 0 TD/0 INT, 6-7-0). One of the silliest/nothing QB performances of 2020 – just the way Anthony Lynn wants it.
Tyrod Taylor has two types of throws…
1) He senses one-on-one deep and just chucks a balloon out hoping for a catch…which works sometimes if the WR is a boss (see: Mitch Trubisky style Week 1), but it’s not real QB play. Anyone can loft one-on-one bombs.
2) If forced to not loft a bomb, Tyrod fires blindly and off-target to a receiver running a real short-medium tight route and it has little chance of landing.
The most basic of general QB play happens with Tyrod…so when the defenses they face improve or they need a two-minute drill comeback effort, Tyrod is going to let them down. LAC cannot win a playoff game with Tyrod…much less a Super Bowl.
-- Consider the two types of throws I just mentioned…
The #1 above favors, REALLY favors, Mike Williams (4-69-0/9). Tyrod’s main receiver is Williams (because of this ‘up for grabs’ throwing)…no further debate needed. If you can buy low into Mike Williams, it’s not a bad idea. He’s likely going to break his collarbone any week now because he’s constantly jumping and diving for these floaters – but he’s really good catching them when healthy.
Williams was 4-69-0 stat line for the game…but it was close to 6-7 catches and 100+ and a TD. ‘Stock up’ for Williams for sure.
Which leaves Tyrod throw type #2…’stock down’ for Keenan Allen (4-37-0/8). It was painful to watch he and Tyrod trying to connect. Philip Rivers is not walking through that door. I thought Cam Newton-N’Keal Harry was a bad match/pairing…Tyrod-Keenan is worse…as I suspected back to the preseason.
-- How about the LAC RBs?
Justin Jackson got hurt and sprung the door open for Josh Kelley (12-60-1), and Kelley looked very good. Not rattled at all.
I’m a fan of Kelley like many are, but I struggle to see him breaking out here for FF. The O-Line was suspect before and is now banged up already. Tyrod doesn’t scare defenses, so they cheat up to play Anthony Lynn’s run game. Tyrod doesn’t throw passes comfortably to RBs (thus the 1 target to an RB this game…while Philip Rivers had 17 of them to RBs in his debut). Philip Rivers is not walking through that door…
Kelley is good, but if he’s going to get 8-15 carries and 0-2 targets a game behind a choppy O-Line and a bad QB who isn’t going to get the team to the goal line often – why should I (redraft) go crazy for Kelley, when I could have boring, cheaper guys like Malcolm Brown…or even Adrian Peterson instead? Don’t be an ageist here.
Kelley is not the lead dog RB and will never be in 2020…that’s reserved for Austin Ekeler (19-84-0, 1-3-0/1). You know Ekeler? Speedy guy, great in space in the passing game? Anthony Lynn knew this and ran Ekeler up the middle all game and tossed him one target. Brilliant. This is why we had Ekeler on the overvalued report coming into this season…it’s not Ekeler, it’s Tyrod and Lynn.
-- IDP notes from both teams…
Rookie ILB Kenneth Murray (8 tackles) looked fine in his debut. Nothing stood out one way or the other. He was just energized and good.
Cincy ILB Germaine Pratt (12 tackles) DID catch my attention…he was quick to the ball, solid in tackling, and high energy. Quite impressed with him.
LAC DT Jerry Tillery (2 tackles, 1 sack) had a couple moments where you might think he’s the best DT in the NFL…big and fast and such reach/wingspan.
Snap Counts of Interest:
57 = Ross
55 = Boyd
45 = Green
15 = MK Thomas
15 = Higgins
40 = Mixon (weak amount of snaps for his status and a very ‘meh’ performance…his bank account statement may be weighing him down)
20 = Gio
50 = Ekeler
18 = Kelley
11 = Justin Jackson