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This game ruined the first part of my non-football Friday into Saturday life…it really did. I hate Thursday Night games when things go horribly wrong or against me to set up the fantasy week…when I get the pleasure of 48+ hours to stew/dwell on it.
My three big, stinging issues from this game…
1: I worried about how the Steelers defense would be without Joe Haden. It didn’t look so good against hapless Indy last week. Tennessee is, theoretically, better than Indy on offense. So, I sat the Steelers DST almost across the board, where I have them and had better options…just in time for them to have their best turnover-creation game in 20+ years.
2: Because we thought the Steelers might be a little weaker on defense, than the great season they had up-to-date, The Computer projected Marcus Mariota to have a top 5-10 week for FF QBs. After watching Mariota last week, I felt like he was ready to run more and have a nice FF-game. I got to watch Mariota complete 12% of his passes to the Steelers.
Now, everyone hates Mariota & Me.
3: Faced Big Ben in a few spots. Felt good about that, pre game, since he stinks for fantasy now. Of course, Ben has the game of his season, or maybe the game of the past two seasons in this one. Of course, he did. Of course, I got to watch every moment of it…begging him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop. Where was this Ben anytime I would have ever needed him the last 15-20 games?
Because it’s fantasy, and because we all live like we have a dark cloud over us…we just assume the Chargers or Jacksonville defenses won’t match or beat what the Steelers just did (LAC and JAX are who most FFM’ers without PIT or who benched PIT have right now). Why? Why am I not confident of defensive TDs coming against Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer, plus lots of sacks from defenses that get sacks at a level at/or beyond the great Steelers defense (JAX #1 in the league in sacks, LAC #3)? Sitting the Pitt DST for the Chargers may be genius…we don’t know yet. But we all assume the worst.
Mariota…he didn’t have a big-time game, but he didn’t have a nightmare. 300+ yards passing. A rushing TD. Delanie Walker dropped another TD on him. If Delanie doesn’t drop an easy score, Mariota is a top 5-10 fantasy QB for the week, despite the 4 INTs. He might still be before it’s all said and done.
Big Ben put up a huge number. I wish he didn’t, as someone who doesn’t own him but faced him a few times, but why do I assume Jared Goff or Russell Wilson, or Dak or Brady will NOT match/top what Ben just did (Goff or Brady are the QBs most FFM’ers are going to war with this week)? Goff just rocked it the past two weeks.
It took me a few hours to digest (a.k.a sulk about) this game and put it into context. We’ll get into that in the player’s analysis section.
As far as the game – there is a trend developing in midseason…the home team on TNF is starting to get up on the opponent and pour it on OR ‘bad’ teams at home are playing better than they usually do.
The Steelers rocked Tennessee this TNF week.
Last Thursday, Arizona played over their heads hosting Seattle but couldn’t close the deal.
Week 9 Thursday – the Jets hosted Buffalo and NYJ played its best game in years.
Week 8 Thursday – Baltimore hosted Miami and dropped them 40-0.
Week 7 Thursday -- Oakland shocked KC in an upset at Oakland.
Week 6 – Theory didn’t hold…Carolina fell to Philly.
Week 5 – Tampa Bay hung with New England at Tampa, had a chance to win late. Lost by 5.
Week 4 – Green Bay humiliated the Bears in Green Bay, sending Mike Glennon to the bench.
Week 3 – the 49ers played the great Rams very close…some of that late catch-up work, but they had a chance to win at the end.
Week 12 brings three Thursday games for Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving the home team won 2 of 3. The Steelers winning at Indy when Andrew Luck was a scratch and Scott Tolzien was forced to start. 2015 Thanksgiving…the home team won all three, two of them big blowouts.
What is it about Thursday Nights? Maybe, a solo night game with the home fans rowdy and players amped up for the game. Sunday and Monday haven’t been as predictable but ‘lean’ with some home cooking.
The Steelers definitely humiliated the Titans here…in a critical game for both teams. Pittsburgh was in control early, but the Titans pulled back to within two – 16-14 after a quick, long TD to start the 3rd-quarter. It looked like the Titans had pulled back all the momentum…and then the Steelers went on a 24-3 run, pulling away for a 40-17 rout. Pittsburgh’s defense is really good, even without Joe Haden. They are even better at home…and Thursday nights have a special sauce. Tennessee didn’t stand a chance.
I’m not ready to re-rank the Steelers as the AFC favorite over the Pats. This game set-up nicely for Pittsburgh and they poured it on. They’re good. They’re winning the AFC North. A first-round BYE rests in the hands of the winner of Week 15 NE at PIT.
Tennessee’s pride took a hit but their track to the playoffs is pretty easy ahead. They’re definitely going to the playoffs unless Mariota goes down again. IND-HOU-ARI-SF the next 4 weeks. If they win all four of those games, the Titans get to 10-wins before their LAR-JAX schedule to finish. Even a 3-1 stretch ahead is good for 9-wins after Week 15, and 9 wins gets you into the AFC playoffs. Tennessee has issues but they’re going to the playoffs…possibly to have a return trip to Pittsburgh for the first-round.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- So, it’s over now with Marcus Mariota (22-33 for 306 yards, 1 TD/4 INTs), huh? He’s terrible. Analysts are shoveling dirt on his grave.
Why wasn’t he killed off prior to this week? I mean, if he’s so terrible…it should have been obvious. Why now? Oh, that’s right. Everyone did extensive homework watching a particular Thursday Night Football game and stewing on it…and now broad, sweeping, damning scouting calls can be made.
Colin Cowherd, who I love, made…perhaps…the most idiotic statement I’ve ever heard him make on his Friday show. He said something to the effect of: I really tuned in on Thursday night to watch Mariota closely to figure him out. And guess what Colin concluded? The guy with 4 INTs in the game is not that good/overrated. Really?
So, the guy that’s 14-10 as a starter the past two seasons. The guy who was 9-1 in his last 10 games as a start-and-finish the game QB…a guy who had a 52 TD/25 INT ratio…90+ QB rating career before this game…this guy is now dead because against the second-best pass defense in the NFL, at Pittsburgh on TNF…he had a bad game. So, it’s all over. Case closed.
This just in – Colin (and everyone in football analysis from top-to-bottom) just realized Jameis Winston isn’t a franchise QB this week too…after pumping him as one for three years.
This also just in – Big Ben, who has thrown 20 TDs/20 INTs in his last 14 games before this game…not a peep about him Friday. All is well. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here. Why question the past when a guy has a great game on a THURSDAY night…of all nights…this night is so special.
Ben had a great night…statistically. Mariota had a lot of good moments/passes in this game and a couple of crappy ones. Delanie Walker dropped a TD. A miscommunication or two with a WR. Throwing in known-throwing situations against an on-fire defense. Things happen. A bad Thursday doesn’t destroy a career. Mariota had the second most passing yards against Pittsburgh of any QB this season. The Steelers barely allow 13 points in games…Mariota rushed for a TD, dropped a 75-yard bomb TD on them, and Delanie dropped another score…or it would have been the best QB performance against the Steelers in 2017 by an opposing QB.
Give the guy a break.
Cowherd’s giving up. Fantasy owners are giving up. All in one night. He’s a QB1 in PPG this season, still with this game…which his game/tally wasn’t FF-bad. He has IND-HOU-ARI-SF coming up…the best schedule you could imagine. Yet, people are dropping him because they are mad at his Thursday night.
Everyone wants to fix everything that seems broken RIGHT NOW. In fantasy, we take on a philosophy of: Two bad games…’that guy sucks’, so you drop him. Some other guy available as a free agent scored a TD last week, ‘he’s hot’…gotta get him. Aaron Jones is ready to take off! Austin Ekeler is going to score 2 TDs per game in perpetuity. Overcorrection, impetuous changes are killing fantasy teams. In this era of mass injuries, you cannot win/dominate at fantasy every week. If you are, you play in a weak league.
Learn to take a punch. Keep your cool. Marcus Mariota is the perfect example. For a QB2, he’s producing low-end QB1 numbers. He has a great schedule stretch coming up. Why are you tossing that away? A guy who produced at a high fantasy level in the 2nd-half of 2016, and solidly (for FF) in 2017. A ‘B’ QB with ‘A’ schedule ahead.
I got people telling me how hot Jay Cutler is now…so, they believe he can work as a QB2 instead of Mariota. Good. Yes, roll with Jay Cutler. Logical.
Mama Mia. At least, let’s see how Sunday plays out before you put your whole team on waivers based on what happened Thursday night.
Mariota’s 4 interceptions…
1: Overthrew a WR by 20 feet…something you never, ever see him do.
2: He thought rookie Corey Davis was cutting in, but Davis faked in and then backpedaled out…which made Mariota seem like he was throwing right to a defender like an idiot.
3: On the money, over-the-middle to Davis…it pops off of Davis, up into the air, and picked by a defender coming behind them.
4: 4th & 5, down 23 with 2:34 left…had to throw, tried to read Delanie Walker stopping for 1st-down yardage over the middle, but Walker kept running the route deep not turning around and it looked like Mariota was throwing right to the oncoming defender like an idiot.
I think a lot of this night is overblown for Marcus. I can criticize Mariota for a lot of things but throwing straight into a defender’s arms on a few plays…it isn’t like him. If two INTs were his fault…against the Steels this night – is that a national crisis?
-- The big takeaway from this game is – confirmation that the Steelers DST is for real without Joe Haden. I thought they’d be ‘good’, down from ‘great’, but they looked better than they have all year without Haden. Coty Sensabaugh was terrific in replacing him.
That’s the other thing about judging the Mariota meltdown – the Steelers are arguably the 2nd-best pass defense in the league behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. They #3 in passing yards per game allowed. #2 in sacks. Big Ben got picked off 5 times by Jacksonville in a similar beatdown. Not all 5 were Ben being a goof. Things happens.
You can start the Steelers DST with confidence the rest of the fantasy season, except Week 15 vs. the Patriots.
-- DeMarco Murray (8-10-0, 5-37-0/6) sucks this season…and that’s not a snap Thursday night judgment. I’ve said it every week for about 6-8 weeks now. I don’t know if he has an injury but he looks terrible. A waste of fantasy space. Hopefully, you sold him off after his 3 TD performance after last week.
You have him? You’re stuck starting him as a RB2 hoping for a decent amount of catches and goal-line hope.
-- Like I’ve been saying…the Titans aren’t using Corey Davis (3-27-0/7) like some kind of great #1 WR…he’s just a guy out there getting some decent target counts. There’s no rhyme or reason other than, usually, running down the sidelines/take a shot throws.
I’m a fan of Corey Davis but I maintain Rishard Matthews (5-11-1/6) is the Titans WR to own for fantasy.
-- JuJu Smith-Schuster (4-47-0/8) is the lesser-talented rookie WR compared to Davis but has a more defined role. I’d rather have JSS over Davis for the ROS 2017.
However, do not write off Davis – that sweet Tennessee schedule ahead may have him matter yet.
-- Rookie CB Adoree Jackson (11 tackles, 2 PDs) is putting up big IDP numbers of late – 7.0 tackles, 1.7 PDs per game the past three games. 8 or more tackles in two of his last 3 games.
Snap Counts of Interest…
52 = Demarco Murray
18 = Derrick Henry
18 = Taywan Taylor
45 = Martavis Bryant
49 = Jayron Brown