2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Preseason Wk3 Game Analysis: Bills 19, Packers 0 (For Subscribers Only)
It’s possible that I have more notes/thoughts from this one game than all the other 14 preseason games happening Week 3. As I sit to type this, as is my ‘process’…I have a bunch of chicken scratch notes from the event I just watched on tape…and I have no real plan of how I’m going to communicate it to you, I just jump on the keyboard and let the magic happen! I just know, this one is going to be a doozie. I can feel it. Might be the first 4,000+ word report of the preseason. My battered fingertips hope not, but my heart is ready to sing…I’m going to try to keep it as brief but as descriptive as I can.
What happened here that has me so fanciful? How can a Week 3 preseason game that was a 19-0 shutout have so much material to discuss? Am I going to go write a huge love letter about the Buffalo Bills?
So much was revealed to me, to all of us in this simple game…a game that was early in the preseason week and was quickly forgotten with all the games and events that came after – but to me this was the most telling/revelatory game of the preseason. I didn’t expect it to be, but here we are.
…and, ‘No’, this is not going to be a Buffalo Bills gush-fest. In fact, I’d argue Green Bay outplayed them…in a sense. And, if that’s true, that’s a touch scary for the Bills. Actually, it’s a big thumb’s up for Green Bay. I leave this game thinking – I wouldn’t be shocked if this was a bizarre preview of the Super Bowl. I’m not kidding.
Consider this was the Bills 1st-team offense (minus Diggs) for a few series vs. the Packers 2nd/3rd team defense…more 3rd-team. And also consider, this was the Packers 2nd-team offense vs. the Bills mostly 1st-team (about 60% 1st-team). The Bills should’ve destroyed the Packers off the jump, and they did…and they didn’t. We’ll get into it.
Let me first unload this note: So, in the pregame I get to listen to NFL Network’s Cynthia Freland give some ‘things to watch’ right before the opening kick. As she’s saying whatever, at the very end she says (right before they turn the camera to kickoff) and for you Fantasy players (my ears perk up), “Circle Emmanuel Sanders (as Fantasy relevant). Actually, circle everyone of the offensive players from these two teams.”
So, there you go. Why did you even subscribe to FFM this year? You could’ve just circled, then drafted all the Bills and Packers players and spared a lot of draft prep!
Actually, when you think about it – you could be pretty FF-righteous with just every GB and BUF player.
Perhaps, she’s not as crazy as I think.
Oh, and she was right about circling Emmanuel Sanders too…maybe. Let’s get into it.
Dynasty/Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s begin with an easier, lighter note: Josh Allen (20-26 for 194 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT) is not ‘regressing’. The only debate you should be having is: Is Josh Allen the best all-around QB in football?
Here’s my scouting process with QBs… I’ve been doing this long enough to know ‘it’ when I see ‘it’. Within a few throws/series, I can tell a physical and mental change occurs in me when I see ‘it’. ‘It’ then requires more study to verify…like was the opponent bad…or was it just 1-2 ‘wow’ moments that hide that there are more ‘what the ___’ moments?
‘It’ needs to be extra studied…dissected…pressed and sifted – we need to do a full probe of ‘it’, but the excitement starts with seeing ‘it’. Most QBs don’t have ‘it’, for me. And I cannot describe ‘it’. I cannot teach you to see ‘it’. Seeing/sensing ‘it’ is just a gift that I have been blessed with by God…it’s the only way I can explain it. I just know ‘it’ when I see ‘it’. And I have a long track record of success seeing or not seeing ‘it’, properly, on NFL QB prospects. Better than any football analyst out there. That’s not bragging, I got the published history to back it up.
However, I was wrong about Josh Allen in my initial scouting – the most wrong I’ve ever been, probably. I didn’t say I was flawless, just the best. But when Josh Allen broke ‘good’ (not breaking bad) in 2020…I saw ‘it’ instantly, and I jumped from his biggest detractor to buying all the shares I could before everyone else realized the full ‘it’ that was happening. Betting against Allen ruined the starts of my Fantasy 2020 – I thought they’d have to run heavy with Devin Singletary (like they started to in late 2019). I thought this was a downgrade for Stefon Diggs – with Allen being so inaccurate downfield. That the Bills would be a run and defense team. Instead, they became an offensive force behind Josh Allen.
With that said, Allen went out in this game for a tune up session and was supremely comfortable and made some ‘wow’ throws like it was nothing. Three drives, two TD drives…and a 3rd & 20 from the Packers 31-yard line where he threw a laser beam in a perfect spot to Gabriel Davis for a 1st-down conversion/TD on the opening drive.
The Allen of 2020…he was here in 2021. Do not speak of a ‘regression’…or you’re a fool. Do not plan around the Bills things for regression for Fantasy. This is a contender for the best offense in the league, run by the best coach in the league, and you could argue Allen is the best all-around QB in the NFL (yep, even better than Mahomes). Better arm, better power runner Allen vs. the great arm and supreme vision and impeccable accuracy of Mahomes.
With that being said…the Packers 2nd/3rd-team defense somewhat halted the 1st-team offense Bills on that opening drive (into a 3rd & very long), and it took an Allen perfection throw to convert a long 3rd-down into a TD. The GB-DST thwarted the Bills on the next drive, forcing a punt. Allen was too much for them on the third drive and led another long, efficient TD drive…but it wasn’t easy. Allen had to work for it.
Allen was great, but the Packers lowly defenders really pushed the Bills 1st-team in a lot of spots. The Bills did what they should do, but the Packers defensive effort impressed me just as much, considering the talent they threw at Buffalo. Allen was just too much, as you would expect from someone of his caliber.
-- From Josh Allen love to Jordan Love (12-18 for 149 yards, 0 TDs/1 INT) love…
Jordan Love has played in two preseason games, and he didn’t do anything flashy, per se, to set the world on fire about him. The Packers have lost all their preseason games. Love has been working with backups. In this game, he didn’t throw a TD pass and was picked off. There is nothing drawing attention to him, really, this preseason. And the fact that he’s not a ‘hot rookie’, means his FF value continues to dwindle…which is logical, because he has Aaron Rodgers in front of him and when is Love even going to play?
I have no idea when he will play/be the Pack’s starter for forever, I will just say – Jordan Love looks fantastic. The box score doesn’t look like much but consider it was Love and 2nd/3rd-string surroundings against Buffalo’s mostly 1st-team, and Love was a warrior against it.
When the Bills came out and rolled right down the field and scored off that Allen 3rd & 20 TD pass…at Buffalo…it seemed like this was a Bills Mafia party that Green Bay was mistakenly invited to. However, after the Bills scored on that opening drive and then kicked off to the Packers for their first offensive drive -- Love and his band of 2nd/3rd team misfits drove right down the field on a top NFL defense with most of its 1st-team players working. The Packers drove down to 1st & goal, tried to run it in three times and then Love’s 4th & goal from the 1-yard line pass was covered and they fell short.
The Pack offense fell short on that 1st-drive, but Love was grinding through pass rush pressure and making smart throws and smart decisions and sliding around, evading pressure about as well as he could. He looked totally confident and totally in control…as he did in his first appearance.
Love’s second drive, he drove them down the field again…but as the pass rush got to him, from the Bills 21-yard line, Love threw towards the end zone a bit awkwardly with the hit coming/upon him and he adjusted and threw it up for grabs and got picked in the end zone. Bad idea, but a nice drive to that point.
Love’s third drive, he took the offense right down the field again, into the 1st & goal again…but two running plays and then a delay of game and they couldn’t convert the longer 3rd-down…and then missed the field goal attempt.
Three drives for Love in the 1st-half against the Bills 1st/2nd-team mix and he drove the ball down to the red zone three times, 1st & goal on two of the drives.
Considering the five 1st-round rookie QBs from the 2021 NFL Draft…I’m not sure if Jordan Love isn’t better than all of them, potentially. Trey Lance has more tools and upside. Zach Wilson is a bit more polished but smaller. Love is right up there in the discussion, at least. Sadly, it might not be until 2022 or 2023 before we see Love actually in full/real action.
I wondered why the Packers are being a bit hard-ball-ish with Rodgers…well, it’s because they know they got a potential ace in the hole in Love. It’s not just talk. Rodgers is still way better and who you link your future to, but having Love gave them some room to play hardball.
I thought Love was a ‘C’ grade QB prospect with worries on toughness. He’s a ‘B’ right now. Not sure he’s ‘A’ material, but ‘A’ is more on the table than ‘D’, that’s for sure.
-- A.J. Dillon (7-18-0, 0-0-0/1) people, pay attention here…
AJD started with this 2nd-team offense/Jordan Love, as you would expect. Dillon looks fine/good. No worries there.
The worry creeping in is… The Packers are really pushing rookie RB Kylin Hill (7-37-0, 1-7-0/1). I’m not saying Hill will leap Dillon on the depth chart or is some great event happening – but he plays with passion, the Packers people really are delighted by him, and he’s going to have some kind of role if Jones goes down. It might not be as simple as assuming Dillon has an obvious three-down backfield if Jones goes down.
In this game, Dillon started and took the first few plays, then Hill came in for a few plays, then Dillon, then Hill. There seems to be some pressure on the #2 back spot being just a Dillon and no one else type situation. Dillon would definitely get the nod, but Hill is trying to nose his way into a role…lessening the AJD full-on enthusiasm.
For his part, Hill looks good…looks like he can work a complementary role and pass catch, etc. if you think the Green Bay backfield Week 1 is 70/30 Jones-Dillon…if Jones goes down it might be Dillon-Hill 70/30, not a 90/10 for Dillon. I won’t swear to it, but it’s crept onto the table now.
Side note: If the Pack cuts RB Patrick Taylor (6-19-0. 1-15-0/2), watch to see if another team scoops him up. He’s working like a legit NFL back. Nice size, confident running. He’s just got other more coveted guys above him. When mass injury hits the NFL backfields this year…Taylor is someone to keep note of.
-- The Bills backfield seems to have shifted towards Devin Singletary (2-8-0/2) as the main guy…’main’ as in 70/30 of the limited action they have in the run game…so, still mostly useless/frustrating for FF. But better than a 50/50 Devin/Moss split.
Singletary worked the entire 12-play opening drive, no rotation with Zach Moss (4-10-0, 1-3-1/1). When the 2nd-drive started…Singletary was back out there. It wasn’t until the 1st-quarter ended (two plays into the 2nd-drive for Buffalo) that there was a break for the quarter end…AND then Zach Moss came in…WITH Matt Breida (1-16-0, 2-10-0/2), and Breida seemed as/more important than Moss, to me.
Point being…Moss is falling down hard. He scored a TD here, so it seems like he’s still that guy THEY all think is the quasi-starter with upside. Your last days to cash out on Moss (which you should’ve already done) only have a few days left before he loses another chunk of his value when people see his real role behind Singletary in Week 1.
-- Cynthia Freland was right (I shudder to type that)…circle Emmanuel Sanders (4-27-0/8) – he matters to this Bills passing game. Allen was going right at him…considering no Diggs and trying to get rapport with Sanders. I get it. Sanders is not going to be a WR1 or anything here, but he will be playing a good amount on a top passing game. He has some kind of useful value, I suspect.
I think it goes like this…
Stefon Diggs (DNP) is the obvious BFF/#1, but the Bills receiver group is improving around him, and it might slice a little bit off Diggs heavy targeting just a minor amount.
Cole Beasley (4-52-0/5) is still THAT guy.
Sanders is the respected veteran #3 option, who looked just fine here…you wouldn’t know he’s like 50 years old.
Gabriel Davis (5-75-1/5) looked as smooth as I’ve ever seen him play/catch here. Plagued with drops last year, he was terrific-looking here – but against weaker CB play. He’s definitely going to see good snaps and probably split with Sanders.
Isaiah McKenzie (DNP) will have a role but even more limited now, unless Beasley gets hurt/out with COVID quarantine every other week. Even then, Davis is going to have a role rotating in and out.
It’s Diggs-Beasley, the core…and then three guys that can all play, bring different things to the table rotating in and out. Not sure you can predict any one or the other three week-to-week.
-- The Bills TEs are not heavily in the passing game picture, and they were definitely not important in Allen’s three drives played here…which is normal. Dawson Knox (1-6-0/1) is a cheap/easy red zone weapon slipping off blocks and sliding into the end zone for TDs. Jacob Hollister (0-0-0/2) is a non-factor.
A trade is still possible for like a Zach Ertz, but if it doesn’t happen by 9/1 end, it’s not likely to happen.
-- One final note, a minor one…rookie WR Amari Rodgers (6-41-0/7) continues to improve each week. He looked like a chunky Randall Cobb Week 1…now he’s slimmed down and playing much more confidently. He won’t matter in 2021, but for the future with Jordan Love he has some hope in PPR to be his Randall Cobb someday.