2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 14: Falcons 29, Panthers 21 (By Ross Jacobs)
I hate both of these coaching staffs so much right now. Arthur Smith and Matt Rhule both make so many inexplicable decisions but in different areas.
I will admit Smith's offense is starting to grow on me a little. They are getting better as the year wears on, especially on the offensive line. What was once one of the worst groups in the league has now turned into a decent unit. Mostly it's just the personnel holding this team back...except for one glaring issue. For the love of all that is holy, why do the Falcons not make more of an effort to get Kyle Pitts involved in the game?
I simply don't understand it. You drafted a TE 4th overall because he's clearly a generational athlete and talent, he should be breaking the game right now, but instead you've got him running boring ass routes from 1993 and there's no effort to intentionally target him. It's mystifying. I absolutely love Pitts the player. I hate how he's being used. I do think Smith is going to make this into a good offense once they get a better QB, but I'm not sure he knows how to creatively maximize the talents of Pitts. I'm getting more and more afraid that we are in for a decent career from Pitts, the kind of career where he continually finishes in the top 3-5 TE's for fantasy, good, solid, but not transcendent like he should be.
Part of the problem is Matt Ryan just sucks now and can't hit Pitts even if he's wide open (which he's usually not through no fault of his own). Ryan keeps throwing such atrocious passes to him that Pitts has to make ridiculous adjustments just to catch the ball. Ryan has possibly one more year left in Atlanta and that's only a possibility because the Falcons are going to have poor draft position to nab a top QB.
Which brings me to my beef with Matt Rhule. His fatal flaw so far has been his choice of QB's. He dumped Cam for Bridgewater, then Bridgewater for Darnold, then Darnold got hurt so he brought Cam back, and he's got Walker backing all of them up. Rhule deserves to be fired simply for his gross mismanagement of this one thing.
After this carousel of ineptitude, Carolina really only has one course of action this off-season...they have to land an elite QB through a trade. The most likely candidate, and probably their only hope, is Deshaun Watson. Get him and your problems (short-term ones anyway) are over (assuming he's cleared of all criminal charges). Don't get him and you're facing a PR nightmare heading into another season with garbage at the helm. The seat is already getting quite hot for Mr. Rhule. I would recommend he not let his wife choose any more of their draft picks and stop bringing in guys he coached in college just because he knows them. That recipe never works out well for college guys.
The Panthers’ defense has been on a skid the last three weeks against some less than stellar offenses. What happened to that nasty, aggressive defense from early in the season? Not much honestly. They are still pretty good. The issue is that the offense is doing them no favors constantly turning the ball over. Regardless of their problems though, there's no way you can start them the rest of the year, not against this schedule. The Bucs twice, the Bills, and the Saints. Not a recipe for success. Steer clear.
The Falcons defense you could think about using against the Lions in a pinch, but I can't recommend them anywhere else. They aren't terrible, but you should be able to find better streaming options.
--So what's going on with Cam Newton (15-23 for 178 yards 0 TD/1 INT, 10-47-1) and PJ Walker (6-12 for 75 yards 1 TD/1 INT)? Newton started the game and got pulled at one point because of an injury. But after a few more mistakes he was pulled for real and Walker was inserted at QB. Then for some reason Cam rotated back in for a few snaps, then was out again, and finally came back in to finish the game off after it was clear Walker was failing hard.
Honestly, Cam didn't play all that badly. He did throw a pick 6 after a LB dropped into coverage from a weird spot and lost a fumble trying to hand the ball off after slipping, but for the most part it wasn't terrible. Walker was terrible and won't be starting, that I'm sure of. Cam will start until Darnold is healthy.
If the Panthers were playing some weak teams I'd say fire Cam up in 4-pt leagues, but he's playing the Bills and Bucs and Saints...not defenses you want to mess with. I think this is going to be a bloodbath coming up for Carolina. Do not be afraid of this offense. They are very mistake prone right now. The Bills, wounded though they are, are going to kill them and the Bucs might join the party too now that they are getting healthy again. In fact, Tampa is a great stash for your week 16 championship matchups and most people won't be on them because they still remember the Bucs getting beaten up on early in the season.
--I've discussed Kyle Pitts (5-61-0/6) so much this year and I'm sick of saying the same thing every week. Nothing is changing here. You're getting 5-7 targets for 4 or 5 catches and about 50 yards every week. No touchdowns to speak of because Ryan doesn't throw many and all the scores go to Patterson anyways. Pitts is just another TE2 right now. He's not even in the TE1 discussion because he can't score. There. You're welcome. I just jinxed myself and he'll go 7-81-2/9 next week just because I said he's nothing. I'll even bench him on my own team just to guarantee it...
--Qadree Ollison (5-23-0) was strangely in the game late icing the clock with Mike Davis. Patterson wasn't seen the entire 4th quarter. I'm not sure what that was about since there doesn't seem to be any injury for Patterson. I guess Arthur Smith just wanted to give Patterson a rest and knew he could salt it away with the other two?
Whatever the reason, Ollison took some important late carries to run the clock out and looked the same he's looked whenever he's gotten the chance. He's a solid, straight ahead power runner. Think D'Onta Foreman, a very poor man's Derrick Henry, the generic brand Henry. I don't really see a future for Ollison, not as a starter. Maybe he takes some backup carries if the team moves on from Davis, but they'll draft another RB to take over for Patterson when he's done. Ollison is ok, but he's never going to be the starter here or anywhere else. Don't waste your time in dynasty.
--Robby Anderson (7-84-1/12) finally had a good game. He won't get another. A good chunk of his work here came with the Panthers trailing late and the Falcons playing soft defense. It also came with Walker at QB for obvious reasons (they played together for Rhule at Temple). Once Cam is back at QB Robby won't matter again.
--Brandon Zylstra (4-45-0/5) is rotating in over Terrace Marshall for the WR3 spot and looks like the better option. It's damning for Marshall that he couldn't take this job with everything going for him including his college coach at offensive coordinator. Joe Brady is gone now, so Marshall doesn't even have that going for him in 2022. Things are not looking up for him.
--Jeremy Chinn (13 tackles) has been on fire lately. One of the best young safeties in the game along with Kyle Duggar. His numbers could be down a little against the Bills this week because they rarely run, but he's an auto-start against the Bucs and Saints.
Snap Counts of Interest
38 = Ameer Abdullah
25 = Chuba Hubbard
62 = Robby Anderson
57 = DJ Moore
36 = Brandon Zylstra
30 = Terrace Marshall
35 = Ian Thomas
34 = Tommy Tremble