2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 14: 49ers 26, Bengals 23
The Bengals were the better team here.
I keep saying that in Bengals games they lose. I have some justification for making those claims. Cincy has lost 6 games this season…four of them by three points, two of them in OT by three.
They were better than Green Bay Week 5 in their OT loss/missed FG festival game. They were better than the Chargers Week 13, when they lost by 19…down 24-0 in a blink, and then stormed right back into it but coughed up the comeback. They were better than SF here…clearly better, but when you fumble your first four kick/punt returns and lose two of them…you’re digging a hole that’s tough to come back from.
Cincy dug themselves a 20-6 hole on dumb return game turnovers, not on bad execution, and roared back to tie the game, dropped a game winning pick six with seconds remaining, going to OT and taking the lead, only to blow it in the end.
My bombastic statement of the day: Had the Bengals drafted Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater, instead of Ja’Marr Chase…the Bengals would be the best team in the AFC today.
They have a better defense than KC-LAC-TEN.
Their QB is just as good as KC-LAC…and way better than TEN-NE.
Their rookie kicker is a weapon now.
Their problem is they have the worst O-Line among the top AFC contenders. History will judge the selection of Chase over O-Line pick at #5 in the 2021 NFL Draft as a franchise damning move…just like Dallas’s Ezekiel over Ramsey pick that’s been forgotten over time…not by me.
If there is a benevolent football god, the Bengals will win the AFC North. They are that division’s best team. They are (7-6) now, one game out…but the leaders in Baltimore are on the ropes/potentially going to lose 3-4 of their next four games and flush out. If Cincy can go to Denver and beat them this week – the Bengals are likely going to win the AFC North. If they lose to Denver, then it’s still up in the air. We project Cincy to finish (9-8) and winners of the AFC North…but (8-9) is not out of the question.
San Francisco got a real gift win here. Not that they played poorly, but they got every advantage and still barely eked it out. They are now (7-6) and should win a minimum of 9 games and make the playoffs…but they got a shot at 10 wins and then a for-sure wild card trip. We see them at 9 wins.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I’m not kidding… Joe Burrow (25-34 for 348 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT) is as good as AFC QB elite’s Mahomes-Herbert-Allen. For FF purposes, he’d run 4th in the pack – but in NFL terms he’s as good or better than them, I believe. Burrow has a Joe Montana, Tom Brady type of ability to run an offense, and over time he will be the emotional leader (he kinda already is in year two).
If Burrow is that good – there is a Fantasy future, a Dynasty opportunity. He’s not seen by the public as anywhere close to Mahomes-Herbert-Allen, but he might be there soon with big passer numbers ahead…especially if they get him an O-Line. But that’s the risk…they never do, they just keep drafting WRs instead. Arizona keeps drafting outside linebackers to not protect Kyler, so if they are missing the boat…Cincy for sure could and has.
Burrow has a tough finish, schedule-wise for FF 2021…DEN-BAL-KC, and all outdoor, potentially cold weather games. Still, he’s so good he might will his way to a string of 300+ yard and 2+ TD games.
-- Jimmy Garoppolo (27-41 for 296 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs) is pretty darn good in his own right. He’s Burrow lite…not as gifted, not as athletic but really solid with protection and is a team leader.
Jimmy G. has thrown for 2 TDs in a game in five of his last 6 games. He’s thrown for 290+ yards in a game in four of his last 7 games. He faces ATL this week…think he might do 290+/2+ again Week 15? Highly possible.
You know how to tell JG is playing really well? The amount of ‘San Francisco needs to just go ahead and start Trey Lance’ articles and social media snipes have gone from 400,000+ per week to near zero. There are more ‘maybe the 49ers should just roll with Jimmy G. in 2022’ discussions than ‘Where is Trey?’ bellyaching.
-- Deebo Samuel (8-37-1, 1-22-0/1) is having the most bizarre season I may have ever seen in my decade+ of serious football observation.
First part of the season he’s doing fine/OK enough but then he would have that one wild, long TD play to make him an FF star every week. Then he totally changes gears and becomes a total dud of a WR but is suddenly the 49ers change of pace RB who cannot-not score a TD every week.
And Deebo doesn’t look great running the ball. He gets the handoff and starts scurrying, arms flailing and flapping…like a WR trying to play RB…but then it seems the defense is paralyzed by the sight of him carrying the ball and they watch him blow by everyone for a score.
In this game, the Bengals are the first team I’ve seen this season finally realize that when Deebo is lined up at RB…he’s 90% likely getting the ball. However, Deebo did shake loose for a jet sweep 27-yard untouched TD run…but 7 carries for 10 yards otherwise.
For the past three weeks, Deebo is like a Dontrell Hilliard or Tony Pollard…a secondary RB who is on a lucky TD run. In his last three games, Deebo’s receiving numbers:
Week 11 = 1 rec., 15 yards, 2 targets
Week 12 = 1 rec., 12 yards, 4 targets
Week 14 = 1 rec., 22 yards, 1 target
How can you be a ‘#1 WR’ and see 1 catch a game? But his carry counts have been 8-6-8 in a game in that same span.
If he doesn’t rush for a TD, he’d be deemed a borderline FF bust the past three games with his shift to the quasi-RB position. And he doesn’t even look that good running the ball – he’s nothing like Cordarrelle or Curtis Samuel/2020 or even Rondale Moore. But, somehow, he flaps his way to the end zone every week…so, why fight it?
-- With shift of Deebo to change of pace RB, Brandon Aiyuk (6-62-1/10) has become the team’s new #1 WR. He’s a very shaky #1 WR…12 catches on 22 targets the past three games combined. But he’s getting WR2 looks and giving WR2 outputs, so why fight it?
-- The real #1 WR among all the players in this game is Tee Higgins (5-114-0/7). Three-straight games with 110+ receiving yards. 9.7 targets per game the past three weeks. And he works with Joe Montana 2.0, so it’s onward and upward from here.
-- Ja’Marr Chase (5-77-2/8) is also getting a free ride off Joe Montana 2.0…in between several dropped passes, Chase will spring free, and Burrow will plant one on him for a score. To my wine critic, snobby football scouting eye sensibilities, Ja’Marr offends me…kinda like Deebo…not that they aren’t good players but their extreme outputs are above their reality. There are guys like Curtis Samuel, Rashod Bateman, Mike Williams, Bryan Edwards, Darnell Mooney, Michael Gallup, Deonte Harris, Chase Claypool, Courtland Sutton who are more gifted, in some cases WAY more gifted than Deebo-Ja’Marr, but they haven’t had the same luck and/or QB play to get the recognition…or FF payback.
Ja’Marr has officially dropped 11 passes, but I’d say it’s more like 17-20 so far…the ‘drop’ judgement calls by statisticians are about as bad as U.S. election tabulations. Open to interpretation and filled with bias.
-- Jeff Wilson (13-56-0) has been forced to start twice, off Elijah Mitchell injuries, and he has done crap with those starts. He looks fine to my eyes on the tape, but then I see he has 44 carries for 139 yards this season…3.2 yards per carry. Why am I interested in him Week 15 if Mitchell is out again?
-- The Bengals defense was firing in this game…it’s just their special teams kept fumbling the ball away and putting them in bad positions. 5 sacks of JG…and 9 QB hits.
Cincy LB Joe Bachie (4 tackles) starting in the middle with Logan Wilson out…I thought he looked very promising. Very rangy and athletic. There’s an upside here.
-- Evan McPherson (3/4 FGs, 2/2 XP) is averaging 2.5 FGs made per game the past 4 weeks. He’s also #1 in 50+ yard FGs (7) this season (tied with Chris Boswell). Just note for Week 15 – McPherson is a top long-distance kicker, and he plays at Denver in pretty perfect weather for December.
If Week 15 is do-or-die, and you get extra points for distance kicks, McPherson is set up to possibly be a PK savior this week.
Snap Counts of Interest:
40 = Mixon
28 = Perine
67 = Aiyuk
55 = Deebo
47 = Jauan Jennings
13 = Sherfield
42 = J Wilson
14 = Hasty