Random Notes for Week 17 (SAT 12/29/18)…
*Opening note: The last week was crazy with the title chase…and then this week with holidays – I owe some people emails, ones I set aside if not urgent sit-start/title help issues. If you are awaiting a response – I didn’t forget, I just had the open email forum for title week and was overwhelmed (which I’m proud I was). I’ll get back to everyone ASAP this week.
*Next Week 17 projections Sunday noonET-ish.
-- For whatever it means, after watching the Week 16 game tapes – the three players I was most impressed with:
1) The best passing game of the season BY FAR for Lamar Jackson (12-22 for 204 yards, 1 TD/0 INT). On the road, huge spot against a solid LAC defense and LJax was making laser beam throws. If Jackson can be kept comfortable in the pocket with defenses overplaying him to run and he just picks apart the coverage that cannot hold/hang with WRs all day then Jackson can make hay.
However, we’ve seen Deshaun Watson do this…get over-respected on the run/confused by the spread and defenses give up a ton of plays to these QBs very early in their career – but eventually the defenses figure things out and start to expose the passing flaws. We’ll see if this is true of LJax.
Jackson has always looked like a sloppy as a passer to me, but effective enough when playing his spread-style…and he’s struggled a bit early in his NFL career as a passer – but not this game. This was the best, most dangerous version of Jackson I’ve seen. I’m interested to see if this was just a blip or Jackson is really getting comfortable holding a defense in fear if his running. Watson, RG3, Kaepernick, Tebow (to a degree)…the running QBs tend to have hot starts and then get figured out and exposed as limited passers.
I have a feeling the quick rise and sharp fall will be the fate of Jackson…or is he the beginning of the new wave for spread QB in the NFL?
2) Evan Engram (6-87-0/6, 2-26-0)…should’ve had a TD run (did, but they didn’t review what was a TD) and a 20+ yard TD catch in this game. Suddenly, THAT Evan Engram that I predicted in the preseason has finally arrived!
Since OBJ has been out, Engram has been building better performances week-after-week, with good/great fantasy output emerging. He’s become one of the best TEs in fantasy the last few weeks…scoring a hair more than Travis Kelce (in PPR) the last three games, and right there behind Ertz and Kittle in that same span.
3) Jeff Driskel (13-19 for 133 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs)…down 26-3 with 7:26 left last week vs. CLE, and the Bengals missing Boyd-AJG and looking sluggish all game, Driskel shook it all off on the road and led two late game scoring drives – 2 TDs, plus a 2-point conversion in a span of 4 minutes, 30 seconds. Drawing Cincy to within one score (26-18). The Cincy D couldn’t hold the Browns in the final 2:56, so no final shot for Driskel.
It’s not that Driskel has looked great…but he’s been so solid, unflappable, and smart with his running when he needs too. I’m not saying a star is born, but I am saying a very solid backup QB to be groomed is sitting here. AND don’t write him/Cincy off vs. the Steelers Week 17 either.
-- Brian Hill (8-115-0) was unimpressive in his pop out of nowhere last week with a 100+ yard rushing game.
Hill is a limited talent, got a few big runs in when the game was bleeding out for a disinterested Carolina defense. I didn’t see Hill emerging…just coming in late and running through gaping holes a few times but it happened in parts of the game where even the Falcons and Panthers didn’t care. There was no move to show off Hill by Atlanta, I felt.
Hill had a 60-yard run with 1+ minute left trying to run out the clock on a 24-10 victory – Carolina tried to make a big play with ATL backed up at their goal line, but Hill was sprung and ran untouched until knocked out of bounds on a 60-yard jaunt. That’s his big moment…not as impressive as you’d think.
-- DAL at NYG…we could have a lot of Cowboys’ starters sitting after a series or two – while the Giants play to win, which means it could be another big week for Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram…and maybe Eli Manning.
A ‘tell’ of how NYG is approaching this will be the 11:30amET inactives declarations. If Kyle Lauletta is put inactive…then all-in on the Giants passing game weapons. If Lauletta is active, which has not been normally, he’ll likely come in for Eli at some point after halftime.
Our NYG projections are going to move with that info tomorrow pre-game.
-- Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are out this week…what WRs might get a bump? Tough to say…terrible matchup with the Rams. I’d say, ‘none’…but it might rather mean even more targets for George Kittle but then a possible sneaky 10+ simple targets for RB Jeff Wilson (no Breida).
In Week 13, Wilson carried the ball 15 times…but also saw 9 targets (8 catches for 73 yards). Wilson could have one of those 7-10+ catch, 70+ yard games out of the backfield + whatever he does rushing the ball.
-- James Conner v. Jaylen Samuels…what happens Week 17?
Conner has been practicing in full most of the week. You have to assume he’s ‘fine’ and goes right back into the starting lineup…and goes right back to his normal role, as the Steelers push Samuels down.
You might fear Samuels being used as a 3rd-down back/passing game weapon? Why? The Steelers have literally never used Samuels that way the entire season…and even when he started/was clear of Conner. Samuels mostly came off the field in five-wide sets the past three weeks…an amazing receiver out of the backfield, but never used/never groomed that way all year – I don’t think Week 17 is the week they realize it.
Conner back…assume Conner full throttle because that’s what delusional NFL teams do – they lock on to one RB, especially a tough one, and put blinders on to everything else. It’s a bit of a scary unknown upon his return from injury…but I’d play Conner like an RB1 if he’s active/if there’s no concerns or set backs in his pregame activity.
Any rumor that is floated about ‘they could split carries’…it’s just the same people with no knowledge guessing and reporting as something for you to fear. I would NOT believe a ‘split’ even if Mike Tomlin said it – he said Stevan Ridley would split with Samuels…and he never really did. Tomlin said Conner was day-to-day the following day after his injury…then Conner was out the last three weeks. I’ll trust the cardinal rule…NFL teams will do the obvious, unimaginative thing they’ve done all year in times of confusion/need.
I would bet Tomlin thinks (deep down) Conner is his Gurley, and Samuels will make a nice backup/special teamer for 2019+.
Tomlin loses this week…and it may not matter what he thinks about the Steelers 2019+ backfield.
-- Antonio Brown’s Week 17 status should be fine – they are being cautious with Brown, who has felt uncomfortable with his knee all week and at the end of last game. They don’t need Brown to practice and they can be smart and just rest him for Sunday.
Brown likely plays Sunday…with the risk the Steelers get way up and they throttle back on Brown’s snaps/targets. I’d say he’ll be active and then is a must start. There might be 10% odds he’s inactive.
-- The Bengals put a few players on I.R. this week and raised up one off the practice squad that caught my eye…former South Florida QB prospect turned NFL RB prospect Quinton Flowers. Anyone want to bet Cincy runs a gadget play or two against the Steelers this week using Flowers as a QB…or run-pass play as an RB?
-- Weather Check…
The weather forecasts/temps keep improving in the Northeast and Midwest, the DET at GB game is the only Week 17 contest showing any small weather impact…temps in the 20s, but might get to low 30s, with 10-15 MPH winds. Nothing crazy but a slight effect on the passing game upside.
-- The more conversations I have with contacts, the more I believe Matt Ryan will play most/all the game this week. The Falcons have no young QB to groom or look at…somehow, they only have Matt Schaub as the only other QB on the roster.
-- I’ve been travelling all week, and I just have one note from the road. And it’s an important one. Get your notebooks or cellular smart devices ready for this for your holiday shopping lists for me next year… I’m going to admit something, and I don’t care who knows it. I won’t live in the shadows anymore – I’m here to say that I really like peach-based foods and related things. That feels good to finally say out loud.
I love peach-based things but it’s hard to find good ones in my Midwest life. Here’s some of my greatest peach-based hits that I have a very hard time finding quality options on where I live…
The seasonal peach milkshake at Chick Fil A…the best.
Peach jam/jelly/preserves for PBJs or otherwise…when done right (usually homemade by someone)…amazing. The best ‘J’ for my PBJ.
Diet Peach Fanta Soda…amazing. Sounds gross…it isn’t. Can I find it in the supermarket? Absolutely not (where I live). Where I do find it, sometimes, on those push button soda machines with the 9,000 flavors to pick from in fast food restaurants.
Peach Cobbler…the best of the cobblers. There isn’t a bad cobbler really, I just vote peach as MVP.
Peach ice cream…terrific.
Peach 0 calorie waters…my favorite water, even though I hate drinking water by and large.
A candle featuring peach scent…I’m down.
So, I’m driving from North Carolina to South Carolina this week, a drive I’ve made a ton of times, and I see the familiar giant peach water tower thing as I get into SC. I start seeing all the signs for the pull off the interstate and get some peaches and various peach things, and fireworks…because ‘why not fireworks’ in your peach-based operation. Every time I drink a peach milkshake, I wish I could set off some M80s…it’s a natural combination.
I’ve driven past the giant sky-high peach a million times in my life, and seen all the roadside cheesy advertisements, and it never dawned on me to stop along the drive and get some peach-based stuff while I’m in a good part of peach country. Why did I not think of this before? So, I finally stopped off and went into the store this holiday travel season.
First off, now I know why my instincts didn’t ever lead me to do this before. I exited off the interstate with nothing but an old gas station and this old/run down store turned into peach central. No cars in the parking lot…that’s not comforting. I walk in, and it’s empty except a 70+ year old grandma/clerk who is very happy to see another human/is thrown off by my presence. Also, I think I walked back into 1972 in this store’s design, lighting, displays. I also feel like I just walked into the beginning of a movie where the ‘stranger to these parts’ is not ever seen again.
All the peach-things have old fashioned font, plain labels on them…and prices displayed on each via that old grocery store price gun sticker thing. No dates on the products, could have been made 12/18 or 1218 B.C., I’m not sure.
I’m happy to report, I was not murdered. I set out to get some peach preserves and mission accomplished, but then I saw spicy peach-jalapeno salsa…yes, please. Oh, and what’s that – a giant shelf filled with peach bread. I asked the crypt keeper what was ‘in’ peach bread – she answered, ‘just peaches pretty much’. Well, alrighty then.
I left with my peach haul and went about my way. Tried the peach bread…yuuuppp, delightful. Tried the peach salsa…’not bad’. Tried the peach preserves, you know that was gonna work if the other two items worked. A wonderfully peachy finish to 2018.
Anyone else a peach aficionado? What am I missing in my life that I have to try? Let me know or buy it for me for Christmas 2019…or Valentine’s Day. I’m flexible.
Three things I do not like in the peach realm…
1) Peach infused alcoholic drinks. I don’t drink. Not for moral reasons, more so I have the pallet of a 5-year old. All alcohol tastes like gasoline to me…and I have siphoned gas in my life, so I know. No peach schnapps, etc., for me.
2) Peach (iced) tea. I mean, I’ll drink it if I have to…I’m just not wild about iced tea mixed with anything. I guess it would be my ‘favorite tea’, but I don’t like tea.
3) And it ends on a bizarre note…
I don’t like to eat an actual peach.
Has there ever been a properly ripened peach to eat? I think I might have had one once, the same day I found a four-leaf clover. Either peaches are not ripe enough (yuck) or so ripe they are beyond mushy. And then some of them feel like I just bit into low pile carpet or chomped into a pair of fuzzy dice you used to hang off your rear-view mirror…not my favorite food texture.
It might be that I don’t want an actual peach because it’s the healthiest of the peach consumption options – I just want everything else I consume infused with peach in some manner. Is that too much to ask?
Enjoy the last days of the holiday period. Get ready for one more round of regular season football Sunday…likely filled with wild upsets and guys you were counting on for fantasy getting pulled after two series to your surprise (I’m looking at you Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams)…