2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 15: Raiders 16, Browns 14 (By Ross Jacobs)
Two average teams played, one of them without their starting QB and several other starters due to COVID, and that team lost. That's the summary for this game.
The Raiders led 10-0 at the half, but it wasn't pretty nor impressive. Cleveland finally turned the game around in the 3rd quarter with a Carr fumble that gave them a short field. Nick Chubb punched in the score to make it 10-7. The Raiders extended their lead to 6 with a field goal, but Cleveland was able to put together a drive with just a few minutes left to take the lead.
With just 3 minutes left the Raiders needed a field goal to win, but Carr heaved a bomb into double coverage that was picked off. It looked like Cleveland was going to pull off the comeback. All they had to do was run out the clock, but it was not to be and the Raiders found themselves with one last chance. Carr dinked and dunked his way down the field, and Daniel Carlson booted the game winner with just seconds left.
This win brings the Raiders to 7-7 and keeps them alive for the playoffs. It's probably false hope though. They have remaining games against the Broncos, Colts, and Chargers. They will likely be dogs in all 3. My guess is they win one of those games at best and finish with 7 or 8 wins and out of the playoffs. I just don't see that this team has enough juice left to make a final push.
Tough break for the Browns as they almost pulled off the win without Baker Mayfield. They too are 7-7 now and technically are still alive for the playoffs, but just like with Vegas this team is dying. The offense is weak, the defense isn't great, they just have nothing to hang their hats on. Their remaining schedule is even tougher than the Raiders with the Packers, Steelers, and Bengals on deck. If they could find some way to beat both the Steelers and Bengals they could sneak out a playoff spot, but the odds of that are long. I think they finish just like the Raiders, maybe one win out of the last three games and a disappointing 7 or 8 win season.
Change is coming for both these organizations in the off-season.
--RC is absolutely correct that Donovan Peoples-Jones (4-48-0/8) has the look of a #1 WR. He knows it. The team knows it. Mullens was trying to work him here, but the connection was just off all night. It's possible DPJ could have come down with 1 or 2 more passes, but all the missed ones were very tough catches because the ball was just not in a good spot. This was definitely more on Mullens than DPJ, but if you want to be a star in the league you have to find a way to make those catches.
I don't think you can use him for the rest of the year, but depending on what happens with Mayfield and the offense this next off-season, DPJ might be on my short list of undervalued players in 2022.
--On the other side, Zay Jones (6-67-0/9) has been perking up for weeks now as we've noted. Carr left another 70-80 yards on the field with some inaccurate throws to Jones or it might have been a huge day and we'd all be chasing him for our championship matchups. Despite the tick up the last 4 weeks, I don't think this is some imminent breakout. Jones is still just a WR3, but that's better than most anything else you'll find on waivers this last week.
--While Jones has been perking up lately, you could technically say the same for Bryan Edwards (3-8-1/4), but that just means he's no longer a complete zero. Now he's just another WR5. The highlight of his day was a phenomenal TD snatch on a high back shoulder throw from Carr. After that play though, Carr barely even looked Edwards's way again. I don't understand what the problem is with him because he looks just fine to me, but clearly there's been some issue all year. Whatever it is, I want no part of Edwards now or in the future unless something massive changes.
--Hunter Renfrow got completely shut down here after several straight weeks over 100 yards. Cleveland just has a really good secondary and they were all over Renfrow here. Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier this week against an ascending Broncos defense. His targets should bounce back a little, but I'd expect more of a muted game than anything. Something in the range of 5-6 catches for 60 yards or so.
--Darren Waller still hasn't practiced this week with ankle and back injuries. It's looking like he's going to be out again this week unless he's able to get in a limited practice today (Friday).
If he can't go Foster Moreau (7-65-0/9) has some appeal, but with only 3 catches last week and 1 the week before that (all with Waller out) this game is looking like somewhat of a fluke. He's not a particularly good player and a lot of his action here came on the final drive where Carr was just dumping everything short. If you're super desperate I guess it's as good a shot as any, but I'd rather shoot my shot with a Ricky Seals-Jones for example.
--Nick Mullens (20-30 for 147 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) did about as good a job as you could hope for in this terrible offense and missing so many players. He's a decent backup, but this was just an unfair situation all things considered. Mayfield is supposed to play against the Packers on Saturday, but it likely doesn't matter. Cleveland will need a tremendous amount of luck to win that game no matter who the QB is.
Snap Counts of Interest
52 = DPJ
44 = Higgins
37 = Chubb
29 = Felton
18 = D'Ernest Johnson
59 = Zay Jones
54 = Renfrow
48 = Edwards
20 = DeSean Jackson