2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 5: Game Analysis: Steelers 38, Eagles 29
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.
If I were a Steelers fan…I would start getting nervous.
The Steelers are undefeated but they’re lucky they’re not (2-2) at a minimum on the downside. Consider that they just played two of the worst operating teams in football right now in the past two weeks (HOU and PHI), and they had to come from behind late to win both games.
Week 3 against the Texans, Houston was the better team and Deshaun Watson looked pretty good for half+ of the game. That’s a ‘sign’ because Watson has looked pretty bad all season…but not against the Steelers.
Week 4 against the Eagles, the Steelers got up two+ scores and then let the Eagles/Wentz waltz right back in and gave Philly chances to win.
The good news…the Steelers find a way to put the hammer down and win. The bad news…the Steelers just beat three bad teams in-a-row (and scuffled with NYG opening week as well), struggled with all of them (DEN-HOU-PHI) and now go on to play better teams. Fortunately, for the Steelers, they play a 4th home game in-a-row Week 6…but against a suddenly VERY motivated Cleveland – and the return of Myles Garrett to face Pittsburgh. There’s going to be fighting going on in that one.
The Steelers are making bad QBs look good, and average WRs rack numbers. There’s a problem brewing here. The next three weeks will tell the tale – CLE, at TEN, at BAL. We are tracking the Steelers with 9-10 wins and a wild card at this point.
The Eagles fall to (1-3-1)…a half-game out of 1st-place in the NFC East. They face Baltimore this week to fall to (1-4-1), I’m sure. Weeks 7-8 hosting NYG then DAL will tell the tale of the Eagles season. The schedule ahead is pretty rough. We’re starting to track Philly for 5-7 wins this year, but closer to 5-6 wins…which puts them ‘in the thick of the race’ for the NFC East.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Obviously, we have to talk about Chase Claypool (7-110-3/11, 3-6-1). Six things…
1) I told you so.
It always feels good to type that. Our highest-rated 2020 WR prospect for the NFL Draft on College Football Metrics. Not our top-rated rookie WR for fantasy 2020…I thought he’d be too ‘blocked’ for the season by the very good starting trio.
He was too good to sit…kudos Mike Tomlin.
A couple weeks ago, I made the proclamation that we all needed to acquire him, grab him, whatever to get him on all FF rosters of Dynasty/Redraft and just sit on him. Those that did, now reap your rewards.
If I was right about Claypool…and I’m going to be right about Bryan Edwards and Devin Duvernay and Michael Pittman (other top WR prospect grades) – don’t lose sight of another WR we graded right up there at the top with Claypool – Denzel Mims. He's in a different/bad NFL situation, so I’m not as FF-excited…but sometimes the talent cannot be contained…as we are learning in Pittsburgh 2020.
2) This only happened because Diontae Johnson (1-0-0/1) got hurt early.
We must note the Diontae thing because after the game, Mike Tomlin rushed out to say that any of his WRs could have had that game…it was about matchups. It’s never the player, it's always the coaching, you see!!! Claypool could be a 50% snap share #4 WR Week 6. Consider that before trying to amend your sin of missing out prior by moving heaven and earth to get him this weel. I wouldn’t chase him this week at today’s prices. Let him have a down week and then see if you can weasel in.
As fast as Justin Jefferson rose…now the bloom is off the rose after a down week on national TV Sunday Night. It could happen with Claypool after a non-4 TD week or two.
As far as Diontae goes. He took a weird hit and got hurt legit, but this is becoming annoying with Diontae…and Mike Tomlin may start getting annoyed. Tomlin/Ben could think -- who needs Diontae when Claypool is a star. The rise of Claypool off the back (injury) of Diontae probably just chopped the legs out from under Diontae the next few weeks. The rising star, the giant targets…Diontae may see lesser targets ahead to give more to Claypool.
I’m not sure of that theory…it’s just thinking out loud.
3) Lost in all this – this could’ve been even more from CC…
Claypool made a terrific 33-yard catch along the sidelines, but he didn’t get his second foot down in time.
Claypool caught a 10-15-yard pass in this game, pushed the defender away and raced for a 42-yard TD. It was called back because of CC’s pass interference. It was the right penalty call, but in a season where formerly touchy penalties called are now legal in 2020 – it was almost another TD and 40+ more yards.
It’s silly to even do the fuzzy math, but for fun…imagine if these two catches stood and he went 9-163-4/12, 3-6-1)…5 TDs in a game ‘off the bench’?!!?!
4) Claypool…Ben’s new favorite?
I mention the ‘almost’ targets/catches above because I need to also mention – this was not a ‘matchup’ win/issue that sprung CC. This was Ben either attacking with Claypool or desperately throwing to Claypool even when other things were open in his field of vision…eschewing even an open JuJu a couple times in the end zone.
The past three games for PITT:
11 rec. (18 targets), 222 yards, 4 TDs = Claypool
15 rec. (18 targets), 129 yards, 1 TD = JuJu
10 rec. (16 targets), 83 yards, 0 TDs = Washington
Is it Claypool is a Ben fave? Is it Diontae gone so all the Diontae action over to his replacement? I think it’s that Claypool is now a Ben fave. Even if Claypool goes to the #4 WR spot…he’ll play a lot of snaps and be targeted nicely. Meaning, we can start him now for FF…with hold your breath confidence that Tomlin won’t screw him when Diontae is back.
5) The Fantasy Experts’ New Favorite WR!!!
Now, I get to be tortured this entire week. Tortured by FF analysts proclaiming their love and how ‘this is real’ and how ‘they always liked him’. I get to win/gloat here for a day and then watch as everyone takes credit for discovering him and showing you all kinds of acronym analytics as to why their system knew Claypool was going to be good all week.
Note, most of this will come from people who suggested Claypool move to tight end because he wasn’t a real good receiver in their scouting estimation.
All this will happen as I weep into my pillow quietly each night. A prophet is never welcome in his homeland.
6) What Happens Now…?
I suspect Claypool will be a #4 WR Week 6…but play a heavy amount of snaps. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I’m preparing like it will be so.
Week 2, when all PIT WRs were healthy…Claypool played 37% of the snaps, Washington 48%...Diontae-JuJu 80%+. That was when Claypool was still a ‘babe’. Diontae-JuJu-Washington will likely start Week 6, but Claypool will be in quickly and play more snaps than Washington Week 6, is my bet. And within a few weeks…Claypool will be playing starter snaps whether he starts or not.
If Diontae is out/hurt for Week 6 – Claypool will start and lead the team in targets/touches at WR again.
Claypool is too good to sit…unless Mike Tomlin is a Sean McVay-like fool, and you have to account for that. But this is beyond obvious for Tomlin. Don’t be surprised if JuJu Smith-Schuster is traded to the Jets or Eagles before the deadline.
-- Helping the Claypool valuation not get 100% in the FF-universe is the fact that Travis Fulgham (10-15-2/13) was huge (statistically) in the same game. It makes it seem to some that this game was just wacky and ‘who can you trust’ among these ‘outta nowhere’ WRs?
I know Chase Claypool. I scouted Chase Claypool extensively. I rated Claypool top of his class. You, sir…Mr. Fulgham, are no Chase Claypool.
Fulgham is a randomly solid NFL WR worker who had a terrific game. A couple things about this event:
1) Fulgham is not going to force Doug Pederson to sit Reagor-Jeffrey-DJax when they return. Nor is Wentz going heavy Fulgham when he has them + Dallas Goedert back.
2) Fulgham really played well here. He made some very nice catches in this game. He gave himself an NFL career of some sort with this tape. Nice job by him. My first thought of him, when first scouting his work at Old Dominion (and I thought his starting WR teammates were as good/better)– solid+ hands, professional-ish WR, lacking in NFL starter athleticism.
3) The Steelers have a huge problem on their hands if Travis Fulgham (via Wentz of all things) is going off on you. Specifically, Fulgham burned Mike Hilton repeatedly.
The Steelers went from top 10 in pass defense to #15 in yards per game allowed in a week – but understand that they’ve faced Daniel Jones, Jeff Driskel, fallen-Deshaun Watson, and Carson Wentz. I don’t think this pass defense is as good as people think. Part of the glory is the QBs they’ve faced so far.
-- What happened to Zach Ertz (1-6-0/6)?
You think you’re dying at TE ion fantasy? Who is doing well? Kelce and Waller on a consistent basis…Andrews and Kittle and Jonnu on a sporadic basis. You better hope Robert Tonyan is not going to expire too fast (spoiler alert: he probably will…like all the ‘of the moment’ TEs).
Jimmy Graham is looking better and better, no?
It’s a tough year at TE in Fantasy. Ertz has died…9 yards and 6 yards in a game the last two weeks…playing 95% of the snaps each game!!! What???
Making things worse…I saw Ertz open a few times in this game, in Wentz’s purview, but he threw to Fulgham in a tight window instead. The Ertz-Wentz love affair seems to be out of sync/over.
I’d get Dallas Goedert cheap and hope he returns Week 7 to be the old Ertz (and then Ertz maybe gets traded).
-- We live in a TE depraved world in 2020 where Eric Ebron (5-43-0/6) is a better ‘start’ for FF Week 6 than Zach Ertz.
We live in a universe where I am actually thinking those thoughts, and I HATE ERIC EBRON (as a player). Any TE port in a storm/anything is better than Tyler Higbee right now.
-- Quick note: Anthony McFarland (3-6-0) only got three touches here but showed a fresh spark running the ball…like he’s gotten over his initial nerves.
I’ve been pro-McFarland as a scout, then anti because he’s a knucklehead (talented knucklehead). I was dismissive of him here in Pittsburgh because Conner-then-Snell is the pecking order.
Well, I think I saw some early ‘Darrell Henderson’ runner attributes in McFarland here in this brief appearance (and he can be that kind of back). Very hidden, very stealthy…but I need more tape to get more excited. I’m shifting from dismissive-to-neutral/curiosity piqued on McFarland. In part, because I know Snell isn’t great and if/when Conner goes down…McFarland might seize a bigger role than I first thought. Very deep sleeper thoughts.
-- Big Ben (27-34 for 239 yards, 3 TDs/0 INT) is pacing for a career highs in…
Comp. Pct. at 69.9%
TD passes per game (2.25 per game).
BUT…it’s an 8-year low in passing yards per game (254.0).
Ben faces stiffer competition ahead in CLE-TEN-BAL…and the schedule gets great after that (except for another BAL matchup).
-- Miles Sanders (11-80-2, 2-19-0/4)…
I debated putting him on the ‘sell high’ list this week. He should be on at some level for the week. Sanders had a nice 74-yard TD run in this game…and 10 carries for 6 yards otherwise.
It’s too crappy an O-Line situation for him to thrive. Minus the long TD run, he has 52 yards rushing on his last 23 carries. BAL-NYG next two weeks is ROUGH.
Oh, the long TD…aided by the most obvious downfield holding of 2020, but it’s 2020 so it’s legal.
-- The Steelers-DST scares me, what I’m seeing, but…
Besides Week 8 at BAL and Week 12 at BAL…they have a smooth path of opponents until Week 14 at BUF. It’s an awesome schedule. Tennessee-DST might be a decent pairing with them later in the season.
-- The Eagles-DST comes into play now with Dallas having a QB change. The Eagles defense has been decent this year, but Weeks 7-10 they have NYG 2x and Dallas. The Giants and Jets are the juiciest matchups of any week for any defense.
Snap Counts of Interest:
57 = JuJu
53 = JWash
52 = Claypool
06 = Diontae
15 = Snell
05 = McFarland
48 = Hightower
46 = Fulgham
41 = Ward