2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 1: Dolphins 17, Patriots 16
The best way I can describe this game is – it was like I was watching left-handed Tua (Tua) facing off against right-handed Tua (Mac Jones) in a contest of who could get rid of the ball faster. As if there were a secret device inside the football that was going to blow up at a random hot potato time, and the QBs knew they needed to be rid of the problem as quickly as possible.
The better Tua did not win in the end. As the Pats were driving into the goal-to-go area with 3+ minutes left, Damien Harris fumbled it away and that allowed Miami to run the clock out and take their 1-point lead and turn it into a lucky victory.
Both teams quick-passed and ran it heavy at each other in a boring manner. New England was better in all phases, but not by much…but they did have a stellar 37/23 time of possession win, which usually means a real NFL win -- but two lost fumbles were a killer in the ‘playing it safe’ bowl of Week 1. By every key stat…yards, yards per play, time of possession, sacks, 3rd-down conversions…the Pats should have won this game easily…but they didn’t.
This was not a good start to my Miami under win total bet for 2021 but watching the tape…I feel confident I will cash that ticket in the end.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s talk about left-handed Tua (16-27 for 202 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) first…
Another simplistic game where Tua predetermines his read and takes a quick/1-to-3-step drop and fires before anyone can react to it. It’s a short game, dink-and-dunk style offense…that works when there is no pressure. If you can get into 3rd-and-long, Tua is dead. If you make Tua go to his right, he’s dead. If I were an NFL coordinator, I would blitz Tua from his left constantly to force him to go right -- which is going to be his kryptonite…on top of the fact that he’s not a real NFL QB.
Matt Patricia is a literal rocket scientist…and couldn’t figure this out with a year of tape already. But after seeing what he did with the Lions the past few years…I am not surprised.
Tua is still Tua…a little more confident and settled this year, but same old quick pass and pray. Don’t take my word for it…read what the Patriots top CB had to say after the game:
Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson gave a candid response when asked about Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's fourth-quarter interception, which could have cost Miami the game had it not recovered a Damien Harris fumble on New England's ensuing drive.
"That's what Tua do," Jackson told reporters after the game when asked about the interception via the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan. "If he doesn't have his first read, he's just gonna throw the ball up."
Had New England not coughed this up to Miami…had Miami lost, and then lost to Buffalo Week 2 – there would be a Tua revolution starting to overthrow him. Tua gets a one-week reprieve from that. The time will be coming…
-- Right-handed Tua, Mac Jones (29-39 for 281 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) was mimicking Tua at first – a ton of 3-step drops and quick no-read fire. Hey, it worked…I guess. It moved the ball efficiently, until they get closer to the end zone/a short field then it gets crowded to try and do that as efficiently.
However, as the game went on Mac started quick firing from more 5-step drops and pushing the ball, finding receivers downfield. Mac Jones played a solid game here. He is progressing nicely. He’s already better than Tua will ever be. He looked, mostly, like a real QB from about halfway through the 2nd-quarter on.
But I wouldn’t count on a ton of Fantasy passing tallies anytime soon, for him or his receivers. But hope is on the horizon that he’s a midrange/good passer that allows for decent PPR tallies for his receivers…probably in another few weeks, and not facing any top tier defenses.
In general, Mac Jones looks like ‘the real deal’…meaning, he can play. He’s smart. Good mechanics. The more he learns his craft, the better he’s going to get. But under a Bill Belichick system and given the later season weather – it will probably never be that great for FF purposes. It won’t be bad, but it will be good/solid/better for the NFL than FF.
Tom Brady used to roll top 5-10 FF scoring numbers 4-5+ years ago, back when there were only a handful of decent QBs pushing bigger FF numbers. Now, the league has exploded with dynamic playmakers with nice footspeed – and Jones isn’t there yet and isn’t a real runner. Jones is going to be good in the end, but probably a top 15-20 Fantasy QB producer and not a top 10 one.
-- The top targets for Tua…
I’d say, over time 2021, Jaylen Waddle (4-61-1/5) will probably be the top target. Because it works better in the flow of Tua’s style…quick 3-step or 1-step drop and fire passes quickly to receiver parallel to the line of scrimmage – like a tunnel screen, bubble screen, extended handoff, etc. Also, quick designed very short slants on occasion. Miami seems to have plays designed for Waddle that Tua can handle. Their get the ball to Waddle quickly and hope for good things plan is not a new one for a WR, it just makes sense with what Tua can do…but mostly results in a bunch of short yardage plays. A four catch for 50+ yards week is to be expected often here…and then you have to hope he finds his way for a TD. It’s not the worst thing for a speedy WR like Waddle for FF…4-5 touches a game hoping he springs one. He would be my #1 choice of the Miami lot for FF.
DeVante Parker (4-81-0/7) led in targets bit it was another low connection rate. Tua looked for Parker when he went downfield…but it’s not smooth or consistent. When Will Fuller arrives (if he ever does), it will be much of the same for him plus he’ll splitting into Parkers’ targets some, little as they may be.
-- The top target for Mac…
Jakobi Meyers (6-44-0/9) makes a nice pitch-and-catch WR option for Mac. As Jones started out with a Tua style (get rid of it fast on predesigned throws), the WRs were not as involved because they could barely get into their routes before passes were dumped off. But as this game wore on, Jones got more comfortable and was turning into more flashes of Tom Brady style – longer drop backs and then firing short and medium downfield…with success. Meyers was a nice option to find for Jones.
James White (4-12-0, 6-49-0/7) is probably Mac’s favorite throw right now, but that may be fleeting as he gets more comfortable throwing past the line of scrimmage and downfield. This works for now.
Nelson Agholor (5-72-1/7) looked like a solid target as the game wore on, and Jones got more comfortable. He and Meyers are the top targets…but I don’t see Mac really leaning on any one guy except James White as a checkdown.
The two TEs combined for a boring 8 targets combined. Jonnu Smith (5-42-0/5) was more involved of the two TEs, but it wasn’t exciting. Hunter Henry (3-31-0/3) looks like good money wasted in free agency, and a TE2 this season.
-- The same way James White is a nice checkdown in a short/get-rid-of-it-quick passing game, Myles Gaskin (9-49-0, 5-27-0/5) is that guy for Tua. It’s a safe, quick pass for him. Gaskin showed all the signs of being the #1 back here. Malcolm Brown (5-16-0/5) was a limited presence…who ran a couple of useless wildcat plays as his big contribution.
-- Damien Harris (23-100-0, 2-17-0/3) rules the ground in this game for NE…a lot of carries, for a lot of short yardage gains but efficient enough, Harris opened the game with a 35-yard run, then had 75 yards on 22 carries (3.4 ypc) the rest of the way.
-- I was hoping the Patriots-DST would be good+ with a great early season schedule. They were solid here, but minus Stephon Gilmore…and Tua just quick passing and so willing to punt and play defense, it was hard to get bigger DST numbers in this one. However, they did drop 1-2 easy picks of Tua…and they did hit him 9 times, but only got two sacks to show for it. Overall, not bad…but no major DST numbers in this one, but not bad.
The Pats-DST faces Z. Wilson, Winston before Brady comes to town…then Tyrod. Still a good option for three of the next 4 weeks, in theory.
-- Kyle Dugger (7 tackles) was constantly listed as a 2nd-teamer on depth charts this offseason…but he started and played 95% of the snaps. As a starter, he will lead the Pats in tackles, I bet…and be a DB1 performer.
Snap Counts of Interest:
74 = Meyers
74 = Agholor
55 = Jonnu
54 = H Henry
33 = Bourne
40 = Dam Harris
28 = J White
05 = Rhamondre
45 = D Parker
43 = Waddle
38 = Smythe
21 = Gesicki
26 = Barmore (49%)
24 = Jevon Holland (32%)