2020 Week 1 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis: Chiefs 34, Texans 20
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.
This is Week 1, Game #1…so, we’re going 4,000+ words for a kickoff extravaganza…as I do. Here we go…
I’m writing this opening salvo before I re-watch this to reconsider/study what I saw live. I’ll note when this initial reaction/writing is done, and when my fresh notes start after I sleep on it and rewatch it. Perhaps, I’ll have a new perspective on this game after a good night’s sleep.
After the live watch: I walked away from this game thinking it was one of the most passionless games I’ve ever seen played by a team…that being the Houston Texans. When you consider the recent history here…you had to think the Texans would play like their hair was on fire in this game. Even if beaten…that they would go down swinging to try to avenge their embarrassment from last season’s playoffs. With months to prepare…coming off one of the most epic playoff meltdowns (to KC) in football history…the Texans came out with zero life/energy and got softly put to sleep by a barely trying Kansas City team.
I thought KC mailed this one in, mostly…but I’d also say it was likely due to the fact that the game/win was so easy for them…not because they lacked a fire. Maybe they did lack fire too, and we’ll see if any issues arise as the season wears on, but Houston gave them no reason to fight hard here.
Houston, on the other hand…with what should’ve been a huge chip on their shoulder – they rolled over and got beat in every way imaginable. It must be sad for the Texans…this team, this franchise, this staff, their fans -- no matter how good (or not) the 2020 Texans are, they have absolutely no chance to get past a Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs in the long run/season. Not now. Not if they meet in the playoffs. Not in 2021…or 2022…or 2023.
Deshaun Watson is now the second-highest paid player in the league, about 20% behind Mahomes. Watson played like he was 50% behind Mahomes in talent.
If we just saw the Texans’ future flash before our eyes…there’s going to be hell to pay soon. Bill O’Brien is going to pay that price. He is the fall guy. His crime is…trading DeAndre Hopkins, and winning the AFC South a lot, and not having Patrick Mahomes. For those crimes, he will be gone after this season…almost no matter what the Texans do. They cannot get to the next level because of Mahomes/KC in the way. It’s like the old Utah Jazz with Stockton-to-Malone, they could never get past the vaunted L.A. Lakers…and thus were forgotten in history as ‘just Final Four material, not Finals material’…much less ‘champs’.
The difference between Mahomes and Watson was once again in front of our eyes to compare and contrast…and it’s not even close which is the better NFL quarterback. Not even worth a discussion. Watson is very nice/solid/very good. He’s not Mahomes…not in his class…not even in the same zip code.
If the Texans go get beat Week 2 by a more passionate/aggressive Baltimore Ravens team…the Texans franchise is really going to be under attack by the local media, the national media, and so on. Why should the Texans fight back the rest of the season when they would have been thumped by Mahomes-Lamar…meaning they will never get past either of them because they are not good enough.
Not a good enough QB (compared to Mahomes)…not a good enough defense.
It’s a little unfair the way this is set up…I mean starting the season with KC-BAL is unfair for Houston. Last year, the Ravens played Miami and Arizona Weeks 1-2. KC faced Jacksonville and Oakland. Houston is playing for their lives, their soul, their future in Week 2. Beat Baltimore and all is forgiven, rendering Week 1 was just a bad blip. Get humiliated again and this puppy is about to go off the rails.
I’m starting to wonder what caused such a stoic game on both sides, but especially Houston.
Is it the lack of a crowd so everything feels like a scrimmage/practice? Or is this what happens when the main guys with the ball in their hands the most are suddenly making a combined $80M a year (and maybe $100M+ a year with everything else they do)? Are we about to see this when Dallas faces the Rams (a battle of bloated payroll ‘stars’)? I was so excited for the opening game of football here, but I was bored, skimming through Amazon for a new clothes hamper on my phone midway through the 3rd-quarter.
Was this just a bad day at the office for Houston…or is this a sign of things to come (undone)?
I’ve been in this business too long to jump to a full conclusion based off of one game – but this certainly got my attention. Baltimore at Houston Week 2 is going to be VERY telling, for both teams really. Can Houston bounce back from looking stupid the prior week (and most good NFL teams do)…or is Baltimore not the juggernaut they were in 2019?
End of ‘first take’ from right after the game.
Now onto the next day analysis and exploration of my notes/tape watching…
First things first, out of the gates, a few comments on the pregame activity (no, RC...don’t talk about the politics! Don’t worry. I’m not. There are bigger monsters to throw fireballs at!)
1) I made the mistake (that I almost never do any more) of putting on the NFL Network around 630-7pmET or so just to ‘get in the mood’ for the NFL return and see what they were saying. I had to turn it off after 2-3 minutes.
This may be an NFL season like no other, but Steve Mariucci and Michael Irvin are still 100% useless on any football analysis. They never change. How they stay employed is beyond me. So many businesses/lives got destroyed by the economic wrecking ball of COVID…yet, these two are still making bank. Life is unfair.
Just in case you were wondering what the NFL Network analyst’s hot take was for this game — the Chiefs are good because you can never take Patrick Mahomes lightly because he’s really good. There, I just saved you watching the two-hour pregame analysis.
2) Speaking of useless football commentary...
The chief of all useless football commentary has become Cris Collinsworth.
I love how Cris says things need to change in society (his just-before kickoff teleprompter read 20 second TED talk)...and yet his entire existence is 'good ol boys network' built/maintained.
Yes, there should be no bias in this country. There should be no favoritism. Collinsworth would agree with all that and then some…with the irony of having weaved his website (PFF) into a position of football prominence using his NBC influence and then the creme de la crème of ‘privilege’...as I fast forwarded through the NBC lead in to get to kickoff -- I saw the spawn of Collinsworth, his son (Jac) is now part of the football coverage with his big media debut/useless interview of Zeke Elliott.
Geez, I wonder how Zac got that job? It must have been an exhausting interview process and tireless global search by NBC…a search where they made sure to interview all the people of color and sex and nationality looking for THEE very best and brightest...and lo and behold the 25-year old grinder, veteran reporter/silver spoon Jac Collinsworth just happened to outshine them all.
Surprise!!! I didn’t even get a phone call for the job. Darn my luck. How could I compete with Jac Collinsworth on who knows football better/deeper? Maybe next time for me...
3) As it pertains to the social justice pregame items…
I assume some portion of the audience wanted/loved the unity and discussion of the subject on a prominent stage. Some portion of the audience rolled their eyes. A few people want to stop watching sports because of it (so I assume they didn’t see any of it?).
All I can say is — football on TV is a major ‘big media’ production. So why would we not expect the ‘big media’ to do ‘big media’ things. ‘NBC’ or ‘CBS’ or ‘Fox’ or whomever are NOT passionate fans of football the sport. They don’t love it like we all do. The ‘big media’ is into fighting about politics and keeping all of us divided and watching their news/commentary shows to get themselves higher ad rates – so they don’t care about the integrity of football or anything else but their own self-interests (my opinion). Football is another big stage platform for the media to get themselves 'over' on. This is a group of people who finds Jac Collinsworth the best of the best they could hire for their pregame in 2020. People are up in arms over social justice issues on the pregame, but Jac Collinsworth being hired doesn’t make you want to riot on NBC? These people (the media/networks), this industry perpetually keeps Michael Irvin and Steve ‘Mooch’ Mariucci employed. Why would I expect these same people/show producers/networks to try and keep politics or their ‘feelings’ out of a generic football game production/broadcast?
I cannot listen to any of them talk about football because it’s such a waste of my time. So, I never purposefully watch their pregame or halftimes or post-game. I record the games and fast forward to kickoff and go from there. So, whether the announcers or analysts or whomever handled the social issues thing appropriately or not in this game...I have no idea because I don’t watch them because they were already nothing of interest/a source of my angst just on their football talk…so I definitely do not care about what those same people think about national issues?
My relationship with the NFL is prostitutional — I bet on them via Fantasy or Handicapping. I’m trying to predict and enjoy and profit off their performance. Their political stances and off-field life are meaningless to me...as mine are totally meaningless to them. I’m trying to make money off them (as they are trying to get money from me), I’m not seeking their friendship or employment.
When I eat at a restaurant, I don’t first ask the waiter what the chef’s and busboys view on the proper running of society might be. So why would I demand football players act off the field the way I want or don’t want them to? I’m not friends with them…I just fake-own them (for this week) for fantasy…they are not coming over to my house for Thanksgiving.
Whether the NFL handled the social justice issue in the pregame well or whether the TV people acted smart or dumb on it…I have no idea. I didn’t watch and do not care. There are better/scarier things to focus on if you’re into the politics of things. Politicians at the state and local levels have been making their bad governing clear to us in plain sight every day this entire year. The national media is trying to divide the entire country…left and right, to keep fighting each other and never reconciling/finding common grounds. In the face of that, what an NFL player has on the back of their helmet…irrelevant to me. Freedom of speech is fine by me. There are bigger bad guys/gals to worry about/dislike/’cancel’ that are on the national political stage compared to me wanting to stop watching football because of what the 3rd-string safety on the Texans does or doesn’t do during the national anthem.
And then there was a game played…
I re-watched it this morning and…
Yeah, ummm…still bad. The Texans were awful/tentative/unmotivated, in general…and the Chiefs sleepwalked through to victory. That’s the game analysis – the better team won, and the losing team played one of the worst ‘energy’ (lack of) games I can recall, for a team that had every reason to be hyped.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- That WAS for sure DJ 2016-like that you just watched in this game!!! Don’t adjust your TV sets (who still does that anyway?)!
David Johnson (11-77-1, 3-32-0/4) circa 2016 season...or close to it…was on display, by god. Many FFM’ers have DJ, and in 2020/today that means you got a high-end RB1, a top 5-10 fantasy player threat in the 4th-round months ago, or 3rd/4th-round the past month, and some paid into the 2nd-round the past week. This is how you win fantasy football…this was one of the reasons why I was pushing taking Patrick Mahomes 2nd-round in July/August, because Leonard Fournette 3rd-round and David Johnson 4th-round were like two high-end RB1s to add to the roster. Many of you are sitting with CEH (or other RB)+Mahomes+Fournette+DJ as your first 4 players in a redraft, Best Ball, etc. – and last night you saw firsthand the genius of it.
If I had been able to see David Johnson, the player from the first series of this game, in the preseason…just that one series – I would have made everyone never leave the draft without him. I was pretty much there regardless. On the first series of this game, I could see the DJ of old ‘floating’ gracefully through the line of scrimmage on his first run and then I really saw it on the pass route he ran on their first 3rd-down (that was stopped early with penalty).
All the proof you need is right here on his TD run...
*Watch the full speed play but wait and really focus on the slow-mo replay. It will take your breath away – most NFL RBs cannot do what he just did here. That first jump/hop and burst…not human. And that my friends is ‘old 2016 DJ3K’…back into our hearts once again, and good old RC has his genius status restored!!
My life is now complete…DJ is back.
All you, ‘Are you sure?’ or ‘He’s too injury prone’ naysayers…you lost this round. Now suffer DJ3K’s fantasy wrath all season.
By comparison, Duke Johnson (5-14-0, 0-0-0/1) looked terrible…and then not comparing him to DJ, Duke still looked terrible. The old Duke that was leaner and swifter years ago has added weight/muscle and slowed down and is 0.0% threat to DJ touches the rest of the season.
For sure, Duke is not a threat for Week 2…as the Texans brought up RB Scottie Phillips from the practice squad today, so expect Duke to be out a while. Please, don’t forget…there were ESPN types telling you this preseason that Duke was in a great spot to beat out David Johnson or split with him and be a sleeper (thus the 4th-round DJ rankings/availability weeks ago). Guess what? ESPN, you will suffer the wrath of DJ3K opposition as well, as you have since he first hit the league.
What is it like to be the best scout in all of football you ask? Feels pretty damn good today. Unless you were referring to Jac Collinsworth, then I’m not sure how he feels at the yacht club today drinking mimosas and getting ready for his one hour of work Sunday night, which he will make more money on then I will all year with my business.
Why were so many people wanting to hate David Johnson this year? AND yet he STILL won’t get any of the respect due. All they’ll talk about is Clyde Edwards-Helaire from this game.
Next Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, when this DJ event is somewhat forgotten in the sea of other performances Sunday/Monday, and people not really into DJ properly anyway – you can try to acquire him if you missed out. You should try. Trade some hot Week 1 WR for him or whatever head fake you can use.
-- Speaking of FFM guys…Tyreek Hill (5-46-1-/6) looked fine too. For the first time in many years, I don’t have much Tyreek share unless we’re talking Dynasty.
Am I worried about 6 targets in this game? No…kinda, no. He seems to be becoming a lower target but high hit rate/high production off the lower targets player.
Targets in each of Hill’s last 9 games (back to 2019 and the playoffs): 8-8-7-5-5-4-7-16-6…the 16 were in the Super Bowl. Outside of the 16-target game, 7.1 targets per game the other 7 games. He’s not Michael Thomas or Davante Adams level targeting but is just as FF lethal…more so in non-PPR.
-- The KC wide receiver I would worry about is Mecole Hardman (1-6-0/1). I mean, I’ve been warning of this problem all along…and now it was a clear message in this game – Mecole Hardman isn’t a very good NFL WR.
Keep in mind – the Chiefs traded up to get Mecole, as all the NFL analysts cooed at what a genius stroke it was.
With a full offseason of prep and a year of experience gained…Hardman had one target in this game, while Demarcus Robinson (3-20-0/6) had six. Impressive speed does not mean you’re a good NFL wide receiver prospect (see: The John Ross story). *DRob played 33 snaps and Mecole just 20 on offense.
You know who else comes to mind as a then-lauded prospect that I said wasn’t a good WR in the face of all of the scouting world telling us they were: Riley Ridley. I could just see the problems on tape. I know what I’m doing. You know who this is all bad news for – Jerry Jeudy. Another highly rated WR that I just didn’t get at all/made me scared that he wasn’t just overrated…but not really good/a possible bust. We’ll see. Jeudy is better than R. Ridley or Hardman, but I still think there’s a big problem about to be revealed.
-- Speaking of wastes of time at WR...why is Kenny Stills (0-0-0/2) still in the NFL? He could at least try and look like he cares.
Randall Cobb (2-23-0/3) and Brandin Cooks (2-20-0/4) didn’t do much either but they were at least trying it seemed…their issues were more Deshaun Watson’s fault. But Kenny Stills…he’s just going through the motions, stealing paychecks.
...just like Sammy Watkins (7-82-1/9) will after this game.
Last season (2019), Watkins had 9 catches for 198 yards and 3 TDs in Week 1…and then never scored a TD the rest of the regular season. Nor did he have a game over 65 yards receiving the rest of the season – until the playoffs. Watkins is at his best on national TV games or high-profile games…when he knows most people are watching him and he needs to step it up or get caught in his ‘act’. He has one big game and goes to sleep for a while figuring ‘that’s good enough for now’.
Watkins will be on our ‘sell high’ list for sure next week.
Part of Watkins’s great game – getting a lot of Vernon Hargreaves (4 tackles) in coverage…a guy who may be the worst CB in the NFL. Lonnie Johnson (2 tackles) or John Reid (6 tackles) will be starting over a cut Hargreaves soon.
The good news for Houston is – Bradley Roby (6 tackles, 1 TFL) looks great and gives the Texans security on one side of the field. Now they just need to fix the other side of pass defense.
-- The problem with Houston’s defense is…they have no real pass rush prowess anymore. Average linebackers. A hole with Vernon Hargreaves for the moment. J.J. Watt (3 tackles, 2 QB hits) doesn’t have ‘it’ anymore.
The Chiefs defense has no such issues. A nice, high end pass rush and low-key very good cover corners. You can beat the Chiefs running the ball at their weaker linebackers, but once you’re down by 20+ points in the 3rd-quarter to them it’s hard to stick with the run game.
Is the Chiefs-DST a neat play ahead for FF? They play six teams in a row absolutely committed to the run, and all have better defenses to support the run game offense than the Texans did. It will be interesting to see if KC struggles some with the LAC-BAL-NE-LV-BUF-DEN stretch ahead with those teams trying to play ‘four corners’ against them to keep Mahomes off the field – but teams willing to stay committed to it and with defenses that might get a few stops on KC to help stick to the run game.
-- I went all this time and haven’t discussed Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25-138-1, 0-0-0/2).
This is exactly what you can expect from CEH…a Kareem Hunt-esque performer. Patrick Mahomes’s presence clears out a lot of running area, and CEH is in position to capitalize on it. Jonathan Taylor would be a 2,000+ yard rusher with KC this year, but it’s CEH who gets the gold. He looked fine…not magical, not problematic. He looked like a good running back would in this offense – and that’s great for fantasy for him.
The sweet 138 yards rushing debut did conceal some ‘concerns’…
1) CEH got stuffed around the goal line several times. He’s not a great goal line back. He should get 8-10+ TDs this season just ‘being there’ but I wonder if Darrel Williams (7-23-0, 2-7-0/2) will see more goal line work if it becomes an issue.
2) CEH wasn’t a heavy part of the passing game, but it’s only Week 1 and one game result and heavy targets to him weren’t needed. I’m just noting we didn’t see anything exciting here for PPR, yet…and might Darrel Williams better 3rd-down/passing down presence lead to some PPR disappointment.
CEH is going to be a top 5-10 fantasy RB in all formats this year…he’s a good back in a GREAT situation. The best CEH news was – they showed him that respect right away. 25 carries Week 1 is a pretty nice ‘vote of confidence’ for CEH. You won’t see many/any RBs hit 25 carries this week potentially. A rookie just did in his debut with the defending champs.
-- DeShaun Watson (20-32 for 253 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 6-27-1) played about as lazy, uninspired, and ‘D’ grade level of passer skill game as a ‘top’ QB could. Wildly unimpressed with what I saw from Watson here.
Mahomes lost Tyreek last year…and never missed a beat. Tom Brady is always losing WRs and was always fine his whole career. I don’t want to hear ‘well, Hopkins was taken away’. Well, then should they have traded Watson and kept Hopkins?
I’m not dumping Watson stock based on this one game – it could be that the Chiefs are just that good on defense + the Texans need more time with this WR group to get adjusted. However, it looked terrible this week. Watson playing with little emotion, in my opinion, was most shocking of all.
It really makes me wonder what my own effort level would be as an NFL QB or as a fantasy writer/football scout, if I suddenly was handed a $500M+ contract with $300+ million guaranteed. I’m guessing my work levels would tail off a tad from superhuman to just human. As a QB, I’d not likely try to grind that extra yard versus running out of bounds…or hanging in the pocket long versus just getting rid of it to avoid a hit. Likely all of us would have some decline if suddenly paid enough for multiple lifetimes.
I’ll be very interested to see how the Texans bounce back from this. I bet Vegas hates them Week 2 vs. BAL (if the Ravens handle the Browns Week 1)…and I bet that will make Houston a good ATS bet, because of the public hate emanating from this highly visible game.
-- Will Fuller (8-112-0/10) was Watson’s top target for sure. But, were you like me – I didn’t see any ‘dazzle’ with Fuller as this new #1 WR…did you? I mean, it’s nice he was there and got the looks, especially in the deficit as the defense softened…nice for FF. But as an NFL observer…I just don’t see the big deal over Will Fuller the NFL WR. He doesn’t move, act, give the impression of a #1 and/or ‘star’ WR, ever (in my eyes).
He’ll be good for FF, though…until his typical injury pops up.
-- The one Texan that stood out, besides DJ…the one moving with urgency…the one I’d heard a lot of good vibes on in training camp, but didn’t really buy into it for FF was Jordan Akins (2-39-1/2).
I think he has to go onto deeper roster FF team’s radars to consider for TE depth/gambles ahead. He can be the main TE receiving threat here, on a team with a bunch of ‘meh’ WR2-3s.
Akins has the athleticism to matter, but the Texans don’t seem to make the TE a real/consistent receiving threat in their offense…either because of O’Brien or Watson. Akins had a 2 TD game Week 3 last season and then never had a TD in any of his other 15 games of the 2019 season…and he played a good amount of snaps (50-60%) in most games.
-- Any old kicker will do!!! That’s what you think, and then…
Ka’imi Fairbairn 2/2 XP, 0-1 FG = 1 FF point
Harrison Butker 4/4 XP, 2-2 FG = 10 FF points
Any old kicker will do just netted you -9 points this week versus paying the price for a better kicker.
Snap Counts of interest:
46 = CEH
23 = Darrel Williams
59 = Tyreek
55 = Watkins
33 = D. Robinson
20 = Hardman
47 = Fuller
46 = Cobb
31 = Cooks
22 = Stills
48 = Akins
25 = Fells