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2022 Week 2: Cardinals 29, Raiders 23 (Dynasty/Fantasy Analysis Game Report)

Date:
September 21, 2022 1:03 PM
September 21, 2022 1:01 PM

 

2022 Week 2: Cardinals 29, Raiders 23 (Dynasty/Fantasy Analysis Game Report)

 

Buckle up…this is going to be a semi-bombshell report.

It’s going to change the way we think about these teams for FF purposes and for handicapping, etc., if you choose to believe me.

Get ready to have your football brain re-wired…here we go…

First, this will probably be the best/hardest fought game I’ll watch this week. Two of the better teams in football played a game and it had a wild/improbable finish. You did catch that I said two of the better teams in football?

Las Vegas was the better team by far…and somehow, they lost…and somehow they are (0-2). They were leading this game 20-0 with 6+ minutes left in the 3rd-quarter. They were spanking the Cardinals. Las Vegas went toe-to-toe with the Chargers Week 1…and handled Arizona here and have an (0-2) record to show for it.

The Raiders have one of the ten best defenses in the NFL and climbing…that’s where this story begins. I’ll get into the player details on it in a moment, but D-C Patrick Graham is one of the best 1-3 defensive coordinators in the league. He turned the Giants D the past few years, and now has instantly transformed the Raiders.

The Raiders offense is good because Derek Carr is a really good NFL QB…OK/good for FF, but really good for the NFL. How he worked Arizona this game and last week the Chargers, with his shoddy/awful O-Line was a master class in smart QB play. The offensive line is the potential fatal flaw of the Raiders ever coming into their own this season.

The Raiders are one of the 10 best teams in the NFL, in my book/from my scouting eye. Their Week 3 game vs. also (0-2) Tennessee is going to be a do-or-die for-the-season war for the Raiders.

Making the Raiders excellence over Arizona for three quarters more impressive was the fact that the Arizona Cardinals are a pretty decent team too. The KC Week 1 debacle has thrown us all off track on the Cardinals, and me being the conductor of taking the train off the track…I wrote them off preseason and after Week 1, but I’m in ‘not so fast my friend’ mode on them after watching this game.

Remember how good that Arizona defense was the first half of last season? They’re coming back. Several things changed Week 1 to Week 2, and I’ll get into those in a moment. Just know -- this top defense from the 1st-half of 2021 is trying to reemerge in 2022…and worse case you need to see them not as has-beens because of their Week 1 versus KC.

The Cardinals fatal flaw is a sometimes-strength…Kyler Murray. He slept in through 2+ quarters here and then he hit a couple miracle/low probability plays and suddenly got energized and then got fully engaged and led a miraculous comeback.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a game with so many plays with 1-5% odds of working/landing as I did in this game with Arizona in the late 3rd and all 4th quarter into OT. It’s like Arizona called a coin flip correctly 50 times in a row…what are the odds?

What low probability things happened for Arizona? Kyler was floating jump ball/contested catch prayers out of desperation that started to land…several of them to get back into this game 3rd-quarter into 4th. When Arizona would get halted, a cheap penalty would come and save them. Dropped/near-miss picks by the Raiders to end the game pre-OT. An easy Maxx Crosby sack on Kyler, that would have all but ended the comeback, that Kyler somehow escaped the clutches by bending down in the grip and sprung out of the grip to then make a play in an elongated scramble around. Kyler had 2-3 throws after/from 7-10-15 second scramble arounds….and two runs from this scenario for a 2-point conversion and then a late TD. It was like a football follies video with Kyler late in this game.

The game ended on a Raiders fumble and scoop and score defensive TD for Arizona. Two plays before that the Raiders fumbled and luckily recovered it…they’d have been better off letting Arizona get it, because two plays later the same player fumbled (Renfrow) and it was scooped and scored.

The Raiders were the better team here, but don’t discredit Arizona’s win too much…once they got a spark, their defense was causing fumbles and near-picks and they were all over, like Vegas’s defense was prior. These are two really good teams…with flaws, but more good than bad, and the Raiders better overall.

 

 

Fantasy Player Notes…

 

  -- We have to talk about these defenses first, especially Arizona…because a lot of FF-ramification things happened here…

1) CB Byron Murphy (1 tackle, 1 fumble return TD) went one-on-one (mostly, like 70-80% of the time I reckon) with Davante Adams (2-12-1/7)…and Murphy shut him down. Do I need to type that again? Arguably, the league’s best technical WR was worked by Byron Murphy.

Cooper Kupp is up next for Murphy, potentially Week 3 (I assume they’ll put him on Kupp)…that could suppress Kupp some and spring Allen Robinson because they have to go away from Kupp a little bit. The reason Mack Hollins (5-66-0/8) had a better output game than Adams was because Murphy shut down Adams, and Arizona is weaker at CB otherwise…so Hollins was there and he was close to having a 6 catch, 70+ yards 1-2 TD game.

When Adams is free, Hollins falls back to 2-5 targets a game.

Kupp v. ARI Week 4 last season, back when the ARI defense was smoking…5 catches, 64 yards, 0 TDs on 13 targets…his worst game of the season.

Murphy was hurt later in the season and tried to play through it, and Kupp went 13-123-1/15 on Arizona.

2) 1st-round pick linebacker who was single handedly shutting down TEs last season has been benched, effectively.

From an ArizonaCardinals.com article Sunday…

 -- Isaiah Simmons was a starter, wearing the green dot and calling the defensive plays, on the field for almost every snap Week 1 against the Chiefs.

Then came Week 2, and the linebacker was not that guy anymore.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph cut Simmons' role significantly. Yet there he was, in a crucial situation Sunday when the Cardinals had to stop the Raiders in overtime. And it was Simmons punching the ball loose from Las Vegas wideout Hunter Renfrow, leading to Byron Murphy's game-winning fumble return in a crazy 29-23 win.

Murphy's return was the longest fumble return touchdown in overtime in NFL history. It started because Simmons made sure to keep his head in the game even after his demotion. Simmons ended up playing 15 of a possible 67 defensive snaps.

"It wasn't quite the snap count I was looking forward to, and that's disappointing," Simmons acknowledged. "But I was able to keep my head in the game and being ready when the time comes.

"It's a great feeling. Most importantly, we got the win, and being ale to come in and make a game-changing play, that's always a plus."

Simmons compared it to his rookie year, when he didn't play a lot in a home game against Seattle but ended up making an interception in overtime to set up the Cardinals' game-winning field goal.

"We asked (Isaiah) to practice better, and we reduced his role this week, and we said 'You have to earn it back,' " coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He had the best week of practice as a pro, and it showed up. He made the biggest play of the game, and I'm really proud of him for attacking that challenge like he did." --

 

If you wanna know why Darren Waller (6-50-1/8) and Foster Moreau (3-30-0/4) combined for 9 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD on 12 targets…Simmons gone exposes Arizona in the TE coverage, PLUS Adams was being shutoff, so it made sense to attack it -- which is SO smart of Derek Carr and the Raiders staff because they didn’t know Simmons would be yanked.

My system, many people’s systems, recognized Arizona as a ‘bad matchup’ for TEs -- but if Simmons is benched, then it’s time to change it from ‘bad matchup’ to totally favorable’ because Arizona is a disaster covering the TE without Simmons.

Tyler Higbee would be in line for the advantage Week 3, if they keep holding Simmons out…and I think they will.

3) Despite the TE issue…Arizona was back to flying around the ball like early 2021. J.J. Watt also debuted for 2022 here to help the cause. Byron Murphy gives them one stud CB. Their front 7 isn’t bad. Their energy can be great, like last season, and they should get back their other starting corner Week 5 off IR.

Week 4 they are at CAR and then Weeks 6-9 they get SEA 2x and NO in there. Arizona-DST is back on my streaming option list again! Not as hot as last year, which was a winner…but has my attention to see if they might be trying to get back there.

 

 -- The Las Vegas-DST looks like a version of the hot Arizona-DST that I noticed ahead of the world last season. Vegas’s defense is flying around the ball and suddenly has a lot of young talent mixed with a solid defensive front.

Las Vegas is allowing 3.7 yards per carry so far this young season…6th-toughest in the league.

They are 5th-worst in passing yardage allowed, but they battled Justin Herbert Week 1 and then had Arizona locked down until a keystone cops/luck event in the 4th-quarter/OT of Week 2.

CB Nate Hobbs (11 tackles) shutdown Mike Williams Week 1 and then shutoff Marquise Brown (6-68-0/11) when he went on him but wasn’t on him the entire time. Hobbs is becoming a top shutdown CB in the league. Him and Murphy in this game are Pro Bowl, high-end CBs now.

CB Amik Robertson (4 tackles, 1 PD) was pushed into more snaps this game and I thought he really played well.

The Raiders’ defensive flaw is pressure…just one sack so far this year. 24th in ‘pressure’ but they also have faced Hebert and then they had Kyler several times, but he escaped like a magician all over this game. I was shocked to see LV only had one sack so far this season…but it’s the truth.

I’m not ready to proclaim the Raiders as something special…but they are very squarely on my radar for two weeks in a row now. Note for future matchups, they are no joke…especially Nate Hobbs on the opposing #1 WR.

 

 -- It looked like Darrel Williams (8-59-1, 2-3-0/3) getting a push ahead of Eno Benjamin (8-31-0, 3-20-0/4), slightly, before and after the James Conner (7-25-0, 2-26-0/4) injury.

If Conner is down, then I assume a Williams-Eno split…more likely a ‘hot hand’ approach.

For the record: Conner still looks good to me. Slimmed down, more fluid than I’ve seen him before and a big part of the dump-off passing game. Conner played only 18 snaps before leaving with injury…and had 2 catches for 26 yards on 4 targets. Had he played the whole game into OT he might have had 5-7+catches for 50+ yards on 8-10+ targets…and then everyone losing their minds.

He’s an interesting buy lower for PPR. He’s kinda hiding in the PPR weeds still.

 

 -- For what it is worth, Josh Jacobs (19-69-0, 1-12-0/1) looks really good…but he has a bad O-Line and the team feels good throwing the ball for scores more than they did under Jon Gruden.

Jacobs looks good but not sure he can do much more than RB2 here.

He’s at no risk of losing touches right now. He’s fine. The offensive plan has changed his output along with the bad O-Line.

 

 -- QB notes…

Derek Carr (25-39 for 252 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT) did so many smart/subtle things in this game that I can’t/won’t recall them all here. He’s really a very good NFL QB. For FF, he’s a fringe QB1…because Josh McDaniels will go conservative with a lead, and that happened here, and it bit him a bit.

Kyler Murray (31-49 for 277 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 5-28-1) is the opposite of Derek Carr…not smart, not subtle, but is all athlete and a great scrambler. Kyler, to some degree, WON this game for Arizona by just playmaking. A LOT of lucky throws/catches into coverages, but also Kyler scrambling and extending plays/avoiding sacks.

This was quite an event for Kyler…a wild 4th-quarter, a lot of passing, extended into OT, 49 pass attempts -- and all Kyler could muster is 277 yards and 1 TD pass.

 

 

Snap Counts of Interest:

 

65 = Davante

58 = Hollins

46 = Renfrow

 

48 = Jacobs

14 = Abdullah

06 = Zamir White

 

41 = Moreau

37 = Waller

02 = Horsted

 

81 = Marquise

74 = AJ Green

62 = Dortch

19 = Baccellia

 

40 = Darr Williams

37 = Eno

18 = Conner

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

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