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Fantasy-Dynasty Game Recap 2016 Week 17: Cowboys v. Eagles

Date:
January 19, 2018 10:52 AM
January 3, 2017 10:00 AM

WAYYYY back in 2013, in Week 17, the Philadelphia Eagles went to Dallas and won 24–22…securing the NFC East title, and bouncing the Cowboys from the playoffs. Chip Kelly was in his first season as the Eagles coach, and became one of the most revered coaches in the NFL in the blink of an eye after that season. Nick Foles had become a rising star. The future looked so bright for the Eagles. Chip Kelly would be given more power over the entire organization. Foles was their franchise QB of the future. Meanwhile, in Dallas, another 8–8 disappointment.

Three years later, the Eagles are a disappointment. Chip Kelly was bounced from his second franchise in two years. Nick Foles is in Siberia…and Dallas has its young franchise QB and all seems bright ahead. My how things can change within a few years.

Dallas is probably more secure in its current run than the Eagles were in their 2013-14 blip. The Cowboys are one of the best run personnel teams in the NFL thanks to Assistant Director of Player Personnel Will McClay. As long he is there the Cowboys might hold onto this budding dynasty for a while. Everyone else in a Dallas is a figurehead. McClay a version of is me in Dallas  — locked in a room watching tape all the time. Chip Kelly took over personnel and was a laughingstock, picking PAC-12 players that mostly flamed out. I’ll say it to the end of time – I know how much time you have to put in studying personnel, all year, all day. You can’t have a big social life or an entire football organization to run on the side. No way a head coach can be a coach and effective GM simultaneously. I get why they want to be GMs…because GMs aren’t good at being GMs either. You have to grind for 50–70+ hours a week every week just on watching tape…and then who knows if they are even any good at. They defer to scouts who are mostly coaching wannabees (not scouts) or ex-players…no one knows if any of them are good at what they do. A GM has to run personnel and the economics of a team…no way they are putting in all that time studying players. It’s not humanly possible to work that much – they need a Will McClay. There aren’t many McClays out there.

You look out over the horizon and see Dallas with Dak Prescott and Philly with Carson Wentz…the Eagles are doomed for the next three to five years before they fold on Wentz. Dallas has a chance to dominate the NFC East for the next 5+ years.

Even though this meaningless game went to Philly, Dallas jumped out to a 10–3 lead playing some of its starters, and not others. Dallas was toying with the Eagles who were playing as hard as they could to beat the team that acted like this was the Pro Bowl/an exhibition. It was comical or sad…depending on which perspective you watched it from.

 

— The main reason I was so excited to re-watch this game – my first view of Terrell Watson (9-28-1, 1-5-0/1 target) in the NFL regular season. Watson took a smattering of carries and did well, and did score a TD, but didn’t make a major impact.

You could see how effective he could be on any NFL team – a nice, 230+ pound bruising runner between the tackles. He’s a legit power running prospect with decent hands. He’s a poor man’s Jordan Howard. On top of that, his character is impeccable. Teams should have been falling all over themselves trying to get Watson on their roster as all the RB injuries mounted. No one did so until Philly nabbed him.

I would not be surprised if Watson sticks with the Eagles. My sources are telling me the Eagles/Doug Pederson are over the moon with Watson’s personality and effort…and skills as a power runner. If that’s true, if we see Watson sign with Philly for 2017, then there is something troubling to consider for dynasty-fantasy 2017…

All year Doug Pederson did a great job mixing and matching RB talents, and playing ‘hot hand’. He used the different RB talents in ways you’d want to use those assets – Ryan Mathews as a power runner, Darren Sproles as a screen game weapon, and Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood as relief…but heavier workloads as needed with the game flow. All that to say, I don’t know that Pederson is ever going to land on one running back on purpose and just ride them like a workhorse. He seems to like his committee approach. Nothing he ever said about his RBs week to week this season was really true…as far as who the main-carry guy would be or who might be in store for extra touches. He did not give away his game plan nor was he enslaved to one RB – which is how it should be with RBs, unless you have David Johnson, et al. The smarter, cheaper way to have an NFL backfield is to deploy three to four specialists to have depth, freshness, and productivity at an economical cost…a la New England.

I like Terrell Watson and Wendell Smallwood, but I don’t know if either can be counted on as a workhorse in Philly under Doug Pederson in 2017+…especially if Sproles-Mathews are under contract. Heck, Byron Marshall (10-42-0) took some work along with Watson in this game, and he looked/ran well. Predicting the Philly backfield for 2017 is not as easy as saying, “Smallwood is their future.” I don’t think Pederson is tied to a specific future at RB. On top of that, with Carson Wentz at QB…it’s not helping the RB group.

 

— Another season, another Zach Ertz (13-139-2/16 targets) ends the year with some eye-popping output to give him huge fantasy momentum into the following season. Last year, Week 17, he had 9 catches for 152 yards. He had 13 catches for 122 yards in Week 16 last season. Week 16 back in 2014…15 catches for 115 yards.

Ertz had a great statistical finish to 2016 like he did in 2015 and 2014. Two things to consider…

1: Part of this Ertz spike is the fact that Eagles had the worst WR group in the entire NFL. They had Jordan Matthews and literally nothing else. Ertz was seeing double-digit targets in many games…10.1 targets over the last seven games of the season.

2: With all the targets…as Carson Wentz was setting passer attempt records for a rookie…Ertz was as inefficient as Wentz with all the opportunities. Sure, he had a lot of catches and a few games with bigger yards, but he most of Ertz’s games ended with him under 50 yards receiving and without a TD. He had 2 TDs in this Week 17 game…but just 2 TDs the whole season prior to Week 17. Just 4 TDs in his prior 28 games to this Week 17 multi-TD game.

I think Ertz is ‘of the moment’ and not a breakout star. He’s something, a TE1 maybe in 2017, but he’s not an ‘it’ tight end of the future. If Philly adds more/better WRs, Ertz would become that 3–4 catch for 30–40 yards and no TD in games guy in a hurry.

 

— Speaking of Carson Wentz (27-43 for 245 yards, 2 TD/0 INT)…he’s still not very good. He semi-struggled against Dallas’s half a first-team defense not rushing him at all. He still scuffled against whatever Dallas was doing (shuffling personnel) in the second half.

Wentz is the new Blake Bortles. The guy who comes with the full endorsement of the football establishment, so everything they do will be ‘shaped’ to fit a narrative for a while. To me, Wentz is nothing but a dump passer. He has average foot speed, poor mechanics, and shaky instincts. He’s smart and gives a good effort. He’ll run an ultra-conservative Bill O’Brien-Mike Zimmer-Jeff Fisher offense to a ‘T’. He’s not the next fantasy or NFL star QB. He is a poor downfield thrower – just like Bortles. And like Bortles, Wentz racks numbers between the 20s when his team is getting handled and the defense is not pressuring. The moment games matter and the defenses get aggressive…”check, please.” Wentz does not have ‘it’. He looks like ‘it’ to an NFL that just paid $72M to Brock Osweiler without ever meeting with him in person. In reality, Wentz is a slightly better version of Osweiler. No one will say that now…we have to go through another year or two of excuses a la Bortles. The football intelligentsia may even have decent numbers in garbage time to comfort themselves with for a season on Wentz, but in the end, I don’t think this ends well.

Wentz is not going to help Jordan Matthews or Zach Ertz go to any higher levels in fantasy. They may have a lot of targets and catches, enough to be very fantasy relevant, but their TD accumulation outlook is not good.

 

— Tony Romo (3-4 for 29 yards, 1 TD/ 0 INT) entered the game in the second quarter and immediately led a scoring drive, culminating in a TD pass to cap it. Romo looked like he never missed a snap nor had back issues. He looked so good in a flash…it did make me wonder if Dallas would be better off with Romo right now. I know Dak is the future. Romo is probably the better pure QB for right now. I get what Jerry Jones is thinking/torn about.

This was perfect for Dallas – a brilliant glimpse. If Romo never plays in the playoffs, and all teams have is this moment…Romo will be the talk of February+ until he’s traded. Rare is there a QB talent like this hitting the market. Any team perceived as ‘close’ and just needing a QB – they should sell their souls to get Romo…with the risk that Romo is one hit away from going on the I.R. (like every season has wound up for him the past three years).

Where will he wind up?

You’d think the world is filled with possibilities, but once you ignore the Browns and Jets type bottom-feeder teams in need of a QB (because Romo isn’t going to a bottom-feeder team), most teams don’t need a QB…the ones who do aren’t places Romo would want to go.

My first thought was – I don’t think he’ll go to Denver because of the cold and it’s hard to top what Peyton similarly did. But then I thought – it’s possible he goes there because Romo may have just one good year left and would want to be with the best team/chance to get a title.

Arizona is perfect, but I don’t know if he’d want to play/work with Bruce Arians. Carson Palmer would have to formally retire to make this happen.

Minnesota makes sense now that they play indoors, but would the Vikings deal for Romo despite already being stuck with Sam Bradford? I think the world has run out of suckers for Bradford…but then again, it is the NFL. Stupidity reigns supreme.

The Houston Texans make a lot of sense, but would Romo play in the state of Texas…home of the Cowboys…helping their Texas rivals? Will the Texans carry both Romo’s and Osweiler’s salaries? I’m sure they can figure out a contractual structuring shell game…but Houston would basically be all-in on Romo for 2017…at the expense of 2017, 2018, and maybe 2019.

In the end, I am going to guess Denver. Denver could hire a coach to attract Romo, and make another run at the Super Bowl before their defense depreciates and becomes mortal. Denver represents Romo’s best chance at a 2017-18 Super Bowl…along with Houston or Arizona as close runner’s up.

You can imagine how fast Demaryius Thomas’s and Emmanuel Sanders’s fantasy values would jump upon the news.

 

— Paul Turner (2-30-0/4 targets) looked really good in this game. There is something about this guy – great routes and good hands. He is slower than the average WR but makes up for it otherwise…like a poor man’s Anquan Boldin. Only, Turner is stuck with Wentz for years to come. It’s a shame for all involved.

 

— Randy Gregory (7 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFLs) played like a man possessed in this game. Wow. That guy on tape in this game is what would get people excited. I also know Gregory has no character and is highly likely to be a repeat offender and get booted out of the league. I hope he turns his life around, but he’s been a mess for years going back to Nebraska…a bad mess. These are the types of things that are typical with Gregory – big splash under the gun, gets you excited, and then disappears again.

I wouldn’t invest much in him at all in dynasty IDP.

 

— Jordan Hicks (5 tackles, 2 PD, 2 INT) had two interceptions in this game…giving him 5 picks for the season. Hicks is a tremendous defender of the pass…specifically when it comes to covering tight ends. There’s a reason why Philly was the second-best defensive unit against tight ends in fantasy 2016. Just 4.1 FF PPG (6.9 PPR) allowed…2.8 catches for 25.9 yards per game. You don’t want your fantasy tight end having a matchup with Philly in 2016.

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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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