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There’s always that one team ‘I don’t get’ each season and every week I will keep saying ‘I don’t get it’, and explaining why something is 'wrong' or 'lucky'…and yet they keep winning, and it makes me look stupider every week. I’ll just go ahead and recognize that team as the Philadelphia Eagles for 2017 (just jinx them into a series of losses from here). Just plant them into the Super Bowl already. Eagles-Patriots…sounds like a fun game. Brady, down by 42 at halftime, engineers an unanswered 43-point fourth-quarter for the win. Brandin Cooks has 7 TDs in the game, more than his entire regular season…finally breaking out -- once the fantasy season is in the books.
In 2015, I didn’t get the Panthers most of their run to the Super Bowl. In 2016, I didn’t get and then whined how lucky the Falcons were winning every week…right up to the Super Bowl.
These teams then oblige by following up their great season with a dud…but the damage to my psyche has already been done. I'm 'right' a year late.
I can go back through four of the Eagles five wins to-date and tell you it was lucky and how they were outplayed or just a coin-flip winner of equally matched teams. Up to the Carolina game, they recently narrowly escaped a winless NYG, then narrowly escaped winless LAC, and beat down hapless Arizona…not impressive. In this Carolina game, the Eagles were being held in check but a couple turnovers and an unfortunate injury to Luke Kuechly set up two scores midgame, both to the tight end…his only catches…where Kuechly may have made the difference. Momentum shifted and the game ended as many keep doing…the Eagles win…and I shake my head.
I’ve watched Dallas-Green Bay, Rams-Cowboys, Seattle-L.A. Rams in recent weeks and was impressed as really good/great NFL teams battled each other with star QB play. Watching Dak-Goff-Rodgers at work is a pure treat. I watch those games and I am impressed with the talent I see. I’ve recently watched Titans-Dolphins, Jets-Browns and I know these are really bad football teams. I just watched this Panthers-Eagles game and I am not delighted like with the high-end teams, but they are better than the low-end teams. I just felt like I was watching two 'OK'/good teams play and the winner was the one who caught the breaks.
The Eagles are now (inexplicably) 5-1…and my win total over/under bet on 8.5 is about to go down in flames…maybe. Everything is riding on ‘my’ Redskins next week on MNF. If Philly loses to Washington Week 7, then beats SF the following week, then loses to Denver before their BYE – Philly is 6-3. Post-BYE, if they lose at Dallas…6-4 – now, I got some hope for an 8-8 season, for me as a bettor. They have ‘at’ Rams and Seahawks late season…so I see the path to six losses at least, with their upcoming/later season games versus CHI, at NYG, OAK, and Dallas as the determining factors for a 9+ win season or my precious 8-8. I still see 8-8 happening but the odds are starting to run against it. Everything, to me, I think, is hinging on Week 7 vs. Washington.
Honestly, I thought Carolina was the better team in this TNF game. The Panthers are a team I’m usually negative on but I’m starting to buy in…which is always the kiss of death. For the past few weeks, I’ve thought the Panthers have had a tremendous offensive game plan overall and a solid+ defense. I thought Cam Newton was playing the best football I’ve ever seen him play. When Carolina took a 10-3 lead in this game and started stuffing Carson Wentz…I was confident in my new-found Cam respect. On cue – here came the interceptions, the missed receivers, the bad bounces started happening at the wrong time and the team (and Cam) started to spiral.
For my money, Carolina (with Kuechly) was the better team here all around. My money has been ‘no good’ when it comes to the Eagles this year…so, who cares what I think.
If I had to bet it, I’d say Carolina ends up with a better record than Philly by season’s end…just based on schedule. I wouldn’t be shocked if they both ended 9-7…and this game ends up being monumental for determining ‘who’s in/out’ for the playoffs.
Did anyone hear that the Eagles lead the league in 3rd down percentage? Only like a thousand times if you watched this game. It was comical how hard they are trying to get Carson Wentz 'over'. In this game, with it being mentioned ad nausea -- a disappointing 5-of-14 (35.7%). You can't play ARI every week (9-of-14)...
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I walk away from this game thinking – I should start investing in Cam Newton (28-53 for 239 yards, 1 TD/3 INT, 71 yards rushing) as a fantasy QB2, who might be my QB1, in 4pts per pass TD leagues. This looks like a ‘bad’ Cam game on paper, but it really wasn’t that bad…and it was fine/good for fantasy. Cam’s back running more than he has in several games going back to 2016 – 44-0-71 yards rushing his last three games. He’s rushed for a TD in three of his last four games. 2015 MVP Cam is trying to shine through in 2017 after taking a siesta in 2016.
I mostly have Rodgers-Brady leading my teams, but I’d be cool with Cam as their backup in 4pts per pass TD leagues…a little less so in 6pts per pass TD leagues. Mariota v. Cam…I think it’s Cam ROS 2017. Trubisky gamble in redraft/4pts per pass TD v. Cam…Cam, considering the Bears offense. Goff v. Cam…more Cam in 4pts per pass TD leagues (and I LOVE Goff).
When Cam starts running…we got a top 1-3 QB on our hands for fantasy in 4pers per pass TD leagues.
In many places, Cam is mostly despised/held begrudgingly so he isn’t ‘untouchable’ or unreasonable to get…if you wanted. It's been a bad stretch for Cam going back a season+ (until the last few games).
The second I endorse Cam, he turns to crap…so, maybe ignore all this. I seem to have an opposite effect on his performance. Hate him = MVP. Cool with him…1 TD/3 INTs and losing to Philly.
Cam has one ‘tough’ defense to face the rest of 2017 – Week 14 vs. MIN.
-- I don’t buy the Carson Wentz (16-30 for 222 yards, 3 TD/0 INT). The Panthers don’t give him the ball in/near the red zone twice for passing TDs…I don’t think Wentz cracks 200 yards passing and ends up with 1 TD pass. Washington Week 7 is not favorable. Denver Week 9 is big trouble. Seattle, Dallas, Rams lurk after that.
I know Wentz is OK. I don’t think he’s good or bad…he’s just capable, smart, mobile – he's a tall Alex Smith. Ryan Tannehill ‘good’. He’s been under 55% passing in a game three of his five games, including this one. Two TD passes were gifts here. If you watched this game, you saw all the flaws…the big wind up and holds the ball too long making decisions too many times. Sometimes he scrambles his way out of it. Sometimes, too many times, incomplete passes/missed opportunities. He’s completing 68%+ of his passes at home and 54% on the road this season.
You watch 2016 draft QBs Dak-Goff-Wentz for study purposes – there's no comparison. Dak and Goff are superstars in the making. Wentz is nice, really very nice. Solid. OK. Not my cup of tea. So-so. Not bad. Savvy. Hate his mechanics.
-- I keep hearing how Nelson Agholor (4-55-1/7) is this breakout performer… I must be watching a different NFL on a different planet. He’s about as much of a breakout star as Terrance Williams was a few years ago when he had a bunch of TDs for a stretch and was proclaimed a young star.
It’s like with Devin Funchess (3-36-0/9)…sure, any decent WR can have good stretches because ‘someone has to see targets’ and if the matchups are right, etc., but over time reality wins out.
Two guys, who I don’t believe are very good NFL WRs, and guys I would sell hot, are Agholor and Funchess…but I’m sure they’ll have fine fantasy seasons in stretches or maybe a nice WR3 2017 overall. Long-term, they aren’t ‘breaking out’. They are the #2 options on shaky/up & down passing games.
Reality will set in for these two.
-- Ed Dickson (4-36-0/8) fell back to earth this week after a monster Week 5. Many people picked up Dickson and started him this week, and will probably drop him next week. I’d be a Dickson buyer on the cheap as a TE2 hopeful with TE1 moments. He nearly had another catch or two and a TD or two, again.
I didn’t believe it three weeks ago, but I do now – Dickson as a TE1 this season is very possible. Again, it’s a bad year for tight ends so the bar is low. I like Dickson’s targeting and play the past 2-3 weeks. He’s had a few near-misses that could have launched him to TE1 temporary hysteria higher than last week.
Last three weeks…
9.1 FF PPG, 14.8 PPR on 4.0 rec, 5.7 targets, 91.0 yards, 0.00 TDs (nearly 1.00+ TDs) per game
-- Christian McCaffrey (4-8-0, 10-56-1/14) had a big targeting game. He lucked out with the TD because that happened after Cam Newton went airborne for that amazing TD run/dive/flight that got called out of bounds…but wasn’t on replay, but Carolina didn't challenge. McCaffrey got the TD pass right after that.
McCaffrey is totally dependent on the game flow for heavy passing opportunity because his running of the ball has been a disaster all season. It was true all along – can’t run effectively between the tackles.
It’s also true – Cam Newton is starting to take all the rushing TDs again.
YTD: 38 carries for 104 yards, 2.7 ypc. And zero TDs.
-- What a slick little jet sweep to Curtis Samuel (1-8-0) early in this game. And then it’s like Samuel doesn’t exist after that. He’s been a colossal flop as a rookie so far – totally ignored. He gets one jet sweep and sometimes one bubble screen a game. He’s not had ‘a moment’ at all this season. He looks completely average so far.
He could be Tavon Austin-ish, but he’s getting no push at all.
Carolina is where offensive weapons tend to go to die as Cam runs for TDs and randomly works everyone else between the 10s.
-- Wow! Mychal Kendricks (17 tackles, 1 TFL) was all over the place. I didn’t realize he had 17 tackles until I saw the box score the next morning. Kendricks has been in a penalty box for two years now…a talent being shunned. He’s going to be a good free agent pick up for some team this offseason.
Is this a sign of things to come for Kendricks? We’ll see, but every time Kendricks has moments with this regime…he’s stuffed back in a box.
Snap Counts of Interest…
61 = McCaffrey
27 = JStew
52 = Russell Shepard
23 = Curtis Samuel
30 = Blount
27 = Barner
10 = Clement
55 = Mychal Kendricks (67%)