2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 17: Bengals 34, Chiefs 31
Rewatching this was a treat.
Heck, watching it live was a treat. One of the best games of the 2021 season to watch, for me…as a fan of such things. I called for the upset. I thought this could be the moment where the Bengals showed they are the better team than the Chiefs in the AFC…possibly the Bengals proving they are the best team in the entire AFC.
Rewatching this game quickly reminded me of a reality that I had forgotten since the live watch -- the fact that the Chiefs took a 14-0 lead in this game right away. Think of the gravity of what the Bengals just did…in a critical game for both sides, a possible coming of age moment for Cincy…one where you knew the Chiefs would use their experience and just manhandle the Bengals…the gravity, the reality of the Bengals dropping down 14 points right away and the football world that predicted ‘this’ would happen, and now it was happening – and then the Bengals took those initial punches and grinded their way back to the lead…and the win.
It was not a fluky win…it was the Bengals doing what the Chiefs usually do – get down to an inferior opponent, and then hit the gas and get right back into the game and go on to win and everyone forgets they were down at the start. The Bengals are better than the Chiefs…now…and for the future. Why? Because Joe Burrow is better than Patrick Mahomes, and Andy Reid is not a secret ‘advantage’, at best he’s a non-factor…at worst he’s holding this whole thing back from the heights it should go.
How dominant/great is Aaron Rodgers? He won a Super Bowl in 2010 and hasn’t been back since. He’s (7-8) in the playoffs since.
Same question/statement on Drew Brees, only he won his in 2009…and never went back. He’s (5-7) in the playoffs since the title season.
Ditto Ben Roethlisberger winning the title in the 2008 season…he’s (5-8) in the playoffs since the 2008 title season.
It’s very possible for great QBs to get their Super Bowl win early in their career, and then never return for a decade+. And it’s not because the QB suddenly isn’t very good. They play great for a decade – it’s the coaching and personnel around them that holds them back, to a degree.
Tom Brady isn’t the raw talent Rodgers is/was…but he always gets to the Super Bowl (and is (34-11 in the playoffs in his career). Joe Burrow is our closest ‘next Brady’. This game/win wasn’t a blip…it was an insurrection. The Bengals have pushed their way past the Chiefs in the AFC…now, and for the foreseeable future.
The Chiefs still have a chance at the #1 seed in the AFC, but they probably will fall short behind Tennessee…likely to face the Chargers/Raiders or Colts, either of which could beat them in the 1st-round.
The Bengals still have a chance at the #1 seed, but it would involve both Tennessee and KC losing, so not likely happening. Cincy will be the dangerous #3 seed and could meet the Chiefs again in the 2nd-round of the playoffs. In a rematch, everyone will assume the Chiefs will not be caught unaware and that their experience will take over for the young Bengals and defeat them…just like they thought would happen in this game. I’ll take the Bengals in a rematch, even if at KC. The Bengals are the tougher team with the better QB.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The biggest takeaway note for me from this game was the contrast of Ja’Marr Chase (11-266-3/12) and Tyreek Hill (6-40-0/10).
Let me set some ground rule statements before I make a sweeping reactionary comment…
1) I was against (scouting-wise) Ja’Marr Chase ever being a real NFL star. I thought he was an OK/good WR talent, a great athlete with question marks – my take as a scout pre-NFL Draft. And I thought he’d be a bit lost in the WR shuffle/mix for the Bengals post-NFL Draft…a random WR3 type player not a WR1 star.
2) I have watched Chase closely from the preseason on, a fascinating scouting dilemma…I, on one side saying he’s OK/good…with the entire football community on the other side of the scouting debate (as is often the case) saying he’s generational. Actually, there was no debate…there never is in the NFL…everyone believes the same, and when I’m opposite all of them, I’m just written off as ‘a nut’ or a ‘football nerd’…someone trying to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.
People believe in the media’s lockstep football analysis more seriously, more fervently than they do the tenets of their own religion/belief system – and that’s a fact.
Watching Chase this entire year, I’m still not fully swayed that he is a ‘generational’ WR talent…but he is good, worthy, etc. He had the same numbers as Deebo Samuel this season (Deebo better all-around)…and we’re not all running around calling Deebo ‘generational’. Big production doesn’t necessarily mean ‘generational’. However, I can agree – he’s gifted, and my scouting undersold/undervalued him…especially his fit with Cincy.
Whether I’m right or wrong about Chase’s abilities, as things played out, we can all agree…he produced big-time numbers in 2021 and there’s no reason to think he won’t do so ahead.
3) I don’t think Ja’Marr Chase will ever be the overall weapon/talent that Tyreek Hill is. Tyreek is ‘special’, the once in a generation/lifetime that I’ve seen. Ja’Marr Chase, by contrast, is just really good/dangerous…he’s not Tyreek-like.
With all that said, I just watched Ja’Marr Chase get 12 targets all over the field…passes thrown to him whether he was covered or not. At the same time, on the other side of the field, I watched Tyreek Hill as a mostly decoy again getting non-exciting targets while KC ran several ‘tight end as wildcat’ plays, because they are super clever.
One of Tyreek-Ja’Marr had 2-3-6x the output of the other…the same guy who was on the winning team, and whose QB desperately went to him multiple times when the game was on the line. While the other guy was ‘taken away’…again.
What good does it do me to FF-possess the more talented guy via some esoteric, nuanced scouting of his abilities…while he is ‘taken out’ by the opposing team and/or ‘used as a decoy’ by some dunce HC/O-C? Why wouldn’t I rather have the lesser pretty piece of art who wasn’t used as a decoy and who wasn’t taken out by his opposing defense…and he has the better QB talent to work with, or just as good worst case…and who is seven years younger (for Dynasty purposes)?
Won’t the Chiefs have the same system, coaches, QB, scheme, etc., in 2022? Ditto Cincinnati? How will Tyreek go higher in production in 2022+?
We’ll be debating the Tyreek short- and long-term valuation questions over at the Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) area of FFM in the upcoming weeks.
-- We also got to watch Joe Burrow (30-39 for 446 yards, 4 TDs/0 INT) crush Patrick Mahomes (26-35 for 259 yards, 2 TD/0 INT, 2-25-0). Couple thoughts on this…
1) Mahomes ended up besting Burrow by 1+ FF PPG (4pts per pass TD) for the season 21.8 to 20.5 PPG.
However, since Week 3, Burrow scored 21.2 FF PPG to Mahomes’s 20.7.
2) I keep saying Burrow is better/equal to Mahomes as a talent, but that Mahomes is the better FF option. But is he? What if Burrow just needed time to get recovered trusting from his major leg injury last season?
3) Remember this summer when reports were that Burrow was very inaccurate and very hesitant/aware of his legs/knees in training camp? Guess he’s all better now?
4) The value of the FF QB is dropping, going forward…if Burrow is joining the party. It was Mahomes-Allen-Herbert-Kyler as the FF elites in the preseason, for us. Those four, plus…
…Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers won’t go away. Four plus these two…
And Burrow makes seven high end options.
Notice what that group of seven has in common? Since Week 3, they make up seven of the top 8 FF PPG 4pts per) QBs in Fantasy. Jalen Hurts is the outsider that was in the top 8 party (#6). Also, of the seven QBs we are focused on here – none of them are really runners, except Kyler can run a little bit but it’s not his lead punch (like Hurts, Lamar, etc.)
Again, QB valuation in this new FF world of QB talent flooding the NFL from college…big topic to debate this offseason.
Burrow has Higgins-Chase-Boyd to work with.
Mahomes has Tyreek…then DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle.
When are people going to start slamming the ineptness, the ruined opportunity by KC management to surround Mahomes with ‘things’? Aaron Rodgers always had a point with his disdain for the way Green Bay staffed around him. Is Mahomes the next to cry out? He should be.
-- Is Darrel Williams (14-88-2, 3-19-0/3) the RB to own for the Chiefs?
I know he is now/Week 18, with CEH hurt, but won’t the Chiefs likely ‘stand pat’ at RB going into 2022 season?
CEH + Williams, and Derrick Gore? We’ll see…Darrel is an unrestricted free agent, but I bet he’ll stay with KC. CEH has to stay, which means the Chiefs won’t draft a real RB threat.
If the Chiefs re-sign Williams…won’t that be a pretty powerful statement on where they stand with CEH?
More things to interpret his offseason for the Chiefs, for Dynasty/Fantasy…
-- Is Travis Kelce (5-25-1/7) starting the downslide on his career? Not that he will be bad in 2022, but that he’s just another good TE, not the elite TE anymore? He finishes the 2021 season as the #3 PPG PPR TE. He’ll be 33 years old in the 2022 season.
The king has been knocked off his throne.
Speaking of all things Cincy are better than all things Chiefs, all of a sudden… I wonder what the projections would be like if the Bengals draft/sign a serious receiving threat TE into the mix for 2022+? Like what if Evan Engram winds up here? Just daydreaming up things…
C.J. Uzomah (4-32-0/6) doesn’t cut it and is a free agent in 2022.
-- Lost in all the Ja’Marr explosions in this game was Tee Higgins (3-62-0/5), the WR who was previously wrecking everything on the stat sheets in recent weeks.
Since Week 10, in PPR, Ja’Marr Chase is the #5 PPG WR in Fantasy. #6 is…Tee Higgins.
Before this game, for the season, on a PPG basis, Chase was the #10 PPR PPG WR in Fantasy. Higgins 0.1 PPG behind him at #11.
Yet, the difference in love/perception/media between Ja’Marr and Tee is a huge chasm…creating a value in pursuing Higgins in 2022.
-- Another way the Bengals are better than the Chiefs is…their defense. And the Bengals rebuilt their defense from hot garbage in 2020 to really good in 2021, and all due to ‘via free agency’. The CB duo of Chidobe Awuzie (10 tackles) and Mike Hilton (5 tackles, 1 PD) have been really, really good. Trey Hendrickson (0 tackles, 2 QB hits) has been better than expected as a stud pass rusher.
All three of those players were on other teams last season.
The Bengals are 1-2 offensive lineman away from being the best all-around team in football.
…led by a coach (Zac Taylor) who shouldn’t have ever been hired as a head coach, but no one really wanted this job/to work with the Bengals. But possessing Joe Burrow and staying out of his way is the best coaching attribute anyone could have. Just ask Ed Orgeron and Joe Brady.
FYI, Urban Meyer didn’t see much in Joe Burrow at Ohio State…
Snap Counts of Interest:
64 = Chase
58 = Higgins
54 = Boyd
07 = Stanley Morgan
49 = Darr Williams
08 = D Gore
52 = Tyreek
39 = Dem Robinson
29 = Pringle
19 = Hardman
12 = J Gordon
**College Football Metrics 2022…new season early-signups start January 6th, 2022, NoonET**
The new season of CFM will be starting up in January, as always. A little different schedule this year as the NFL extended their season by a week and the Senior Bowl was bumped back a week as well. We should have a Senior Bowl, NFL Combine…it looks like it will be a normal scouting year!
The NFL Draft, Dynasty Rookie Draft, and regular season ahead rookie analysis all gets started through CFM in January with our usual season starter -- the past two years/2020-2021 Mock Rookie Draft re-do, along with in-depth Senior Bowl analysis, and full QB scouting reports and much more as we build towards the NFL Combine and all the other positional scouting reports. Football study never ends…
Thank you for your support of CFM for the past decade now…wow, time flies.