2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 15 Game Analysis: Bengals 27, Steelers 17 (Short Report)
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 normally write anywhere from 1,000-3,000+ words on each game, and I must move fast to get to all of them through the week…so, please forgive any typos/grammar.
SHORT REPORT is an attempt at ‘just the facts’ report on this Week 15 game with a Week 16/title week focus for conveying what we need to know.
Do I need to add to the universal analysis of this game? I agree with the national sentiment of this game analysis: Yes, the Steelers were terrible. And, yes, it’s time for panic for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers were never really in this game – that’s the scary part. No fluky plays…just one team better at football than the other, and that better team was led by Ryan Finley at QB throwing for 89 yards in victory.
Two thoughts to add:
1) Had the Browns pulled off that Ravens game on MNF Week 14…they would be a hand’s down favorite to win the AFC North today. As it is…the Browns have a shot at this. Week 17 is CLE at PIT…and the browns are the superior team right now.
2) When will Mike Tomlin ever get blame for this Steelers running collapse of the past 3+ seasons? He is the author of this problem…a problem that has been plaguing the Steelers for years now – disappointing season after disappointing season recently. He created this nothing backfield. He watched Chase Claypool star for this team…and then went away from him by not even having him in the game 50% of the time for several weeks now.
Tomlin national blame outside of Pittsburgh = 0%
This will all be blamed on “Ben is fading.”
The Steelers fall to (11-3-0) and are about to cough up the AFC North…I hope they do to usher Tomlin out of there (never going to happen). They will lose to Indy Week 16 and then the topper, a loss at home to the Browns to lose the division. A boy can dream.
The Bengals rise to (3-10-1), and watching Cincy outright dominate the Steelers and the Jets do the same to the Rams – I will never ever gain mention a team tanking or losing on purpose. To go along with the theory that all NFL head coaches are the worst business managers ever, spare 2-3 of them - then of course they are going to try to win every game they play no matter how it hurts them for draft positioning or not playing younger players to get them ready for the future. They play to win every week with the players they are aligned with.
These are the people (these coaches) who think winning a meaningless Week 17 game leads to momentum into the next season…or that kicking a field goal in the 4th-quarter when they are down 40-0 is a morale victory (hey, at least we didn’t get shutout! Oh, good you only lost by 37…sweet…you can really build on that momentum for next week!). Players don’t care about draft positioning of the team (they’d rather they get worse picks to not threaten their jobs) and head coaches love moral victories – all the people on the field each week (coaches and players), they’re 100% into winning. ‘Tanking’ is something management would like but has no control over the people down on the field who absolutely don’t want that. Good for the Bengals here…they played hard and dominated.
I don’t care about the Steelers fall pr the Bengals surprise win here. I will only remember this game as the time where Diontae Johnson got a ton of FFMers into the FF finals! Yes!!! Congrats one and all!!
WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW FOR WEEK 16?
-- Is Big Ben (20-38 for 170 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) shot? Kinda.
He’s not so bad that he cannot manage a team or have good games here and there…like Rivers-Brees-Brady. They still have some gas in the tank, but they’re definitely racing towards ‘the end’…be it in a year or two…and it will be ugly/depressing at the end because they won’t go out on a high note (they never do)…and they’ll take the surrounding weapons down around them as they go.
Ben has been under 250 yards passing in a game in half his games this season. He’s been under 200 yards passing the last two weeks. He’s been under 60% Comp. Pct. in half of his last 6 games.
22 TDs/4 INTs the first 9 games of the season.
8 TDs/7 INTs the past five games.
Facing the Colts this week…probably not going to project well for FF output.
-- The Steelers’ WR report…
Well, Diontae Johnson (8-59-1/13) not only came up big at just the right time for FFM-nation…but he saved his career here. The guy struggling with basic catches made several tough catches in this game. Any disconnects in this game were all Ben’s doing (wildly inaccurate throws). Diontae had the weight of the world on his shoulders coming into this game…and he answered the bell on national TV. Good for him. Good for us to start him next week in the finals!
The secret WR problem for the Steelers has been JuJu Smith-Schuster (3-15-0/6) all along…which is a Mike Tomlin issue for allowing him to go on with his nonsense. Look, when you’re more famous for dancing on the opposing team’s logo for your TikTok channel then you are for being a great NFL WR – you’re done in this new era. Like 10-15 WRs entered the NFL from college this year that are already better than JuJu…not to mention about 50-75+ other existing/non-rookie WRs who are better than him.
JuJu dropped passes this game, fumbled…and no recourse. It’s not like the Steelers don’t have better receivers to go to if they pulled JuJu.
If you want to know which NFL team is the most poorly run in the league – see which team spends a boat load of free agent money on JuJu this offseason. JuJu is famous for being famous…not for being a great NFL WR. JuJu should tithe to Antonio Brown for giving him a career notoriety (that he does not deserve).
Chase Claypool (3-54-0/8) should be starting over JuJu…and James Washington (0-0-0/0) and Diontae Johnson – but Chase isn’t…as the Steelers lose their passing game and lose games, Claypool gets de-featured.
Seriously…nothing…not a peep about how bad Mike Tomlin has managed this offense in 2020…or 2019…or 2018? OK.
That screen pass to open up the 2nd-half…a thing of beauty, and yet Claypool was not featured before or after that play. We can’t trust CC for Week 16 because they aren’t using him heavy and Ben can’t throw passes longer than Tua Tagovailoa anymore.
-- Gio Bernard (25-83-1, 1-14-1/1) puts up this kind of stat line against the vaunted Steelers defense. I’ll never believe in ‘this team has nothing to play for and this other team has everything to play for’ – as soon as I think that I will go with/bet on the team with nothing to play for.
Also, I’m never going to try and project that any team will take a look at its younger players for the future late in the season in a lost season. In fact, I literally sent myself a note from the past to the future on this. Last year (2019), I made a note and put it on a timer reminder to myself…and it arrived to me this past weekend. It was a note from late season 2019 ‘me’ reminding late season 2020 ‘me’ NOT to assume teams will rest starters or play younger players at the end of the season, even Week 17…that the concept thought is a myth and most all starters played all their games in Week 17, even the ones with nothing to play for, because NFL coaches are totally insane. Because that’s what happened by and large in 2019 at the end, even Week 17.
Gio all the way Week 16!!! And Week 17!!!
ANY 2021 FUTURE THOUGHTS (Dynasty Offseason or Stash Items):
-- Jaylen Samuels (1-4-0, 1-12-0/1) entered the game before halftime in the two-minute offense. The most gifted talent the Steelers have at RB…he couldn’t get on the field all 1st-half when the Steelers were being shut out and not gaining an inch running the ball.
Samuels caught a pass on 3rd-down and long, with the Steelers running out the clock (I guess), and he jetted downfield (short of the 1st-down) and then headed out of bounds – not what Tomlin wanted, I guess. Samuels was never seen again.
See: Note above…NFL teams are not giving other RBs a chance when current failure is evident. NFL head coaches fall in love with one RB and you aren’t changing it. Only season-ending injuries above them can get these talented backups a chance…it has to be forced-hand due to injury.
I’m not ever going to try and guess a talented RB to overtake the known, beloved starter, again. I’ll just wait for the inevitable injury and then go pounce on them off waivers or have the talented backup stashed waiting for that injury…injury that hits most RBs in a season, even if just missing a week -- so fantasy RB opportunity will fall my way every week most season (2019 was an outlier). I don’t have to force it/over-invest at RB.
I am doing the opposite of heavy RB next year in fantasy…and every year after.
Jaylen Samuels is dead.
Bennie Snail (18-84-13-23-0/4) is the odds-on favorite to be the Steelers lead back Week 1 of 2021…as long as Mike Tomlin is there, and James Conner is not re-signed.
Anthony McFarland (1-5-0, 1-9-0/1) will get extra chances and be the handcuff…because he went to Maryland, and Tomlin loves players from Maryland. It’s all very high tech the way NFL teams are run…
-- Somehow the Steelers got their arses kicked with Ryan Finley (7-13 for 89 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 10-47-1) throwing 13 times for 7 completions for 89 yards. You’d think that would be a good sign for the Texans-DST for Week 16…but that assumes the Texans would do something they’ve not done all year – be good on defense no matter who the opposing QB is. Bad assumption.
The only real assumption…if Finley is at QB Week 16, bench all your Bengals WRs for FF.
SNAP COUNTS OF INTEREST:
38 = Gio
12 = Perine
07 = Trayveon
51 = Snail
07 = Jaylen
07 = McFarland
59 = JuJu
53 = Diontae
43 = Claypool
27 = JWash