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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
**All the new hire/coaching moves analysis? It will be forthcoming. Throughout January and into February, I do a deep-dive analysis of the coaches and their situation – and we got a lot of new, fresh ones to talk about. I like to wait to see all the coordinators get in place and the other teams to wrap up, etc. We’ll get to all of them in-depth for fantasy and for handicapping 2019+.
Strange game. A game I was so sure the Ravens would win/cover…the next thing I know it’s 23-3 Chargers in the 4th quarter. The next thing I know the Ravens have a chance to drive 75-yards and win with 0:45 left (spoiler alert: they didn’t).
The Chargers had every advantage possible in this game and they really couldn’t capitalize on the gifts…
*A fumble early in the game setting up LAC 15 yards from a score…settled for a field goal.
*A great punt return set LAC up well soon after that…settled for a field goal.
*A deflected LJax pass turned INT set LAC up nice again in the 2nd quarter…settled for a field goal.
12-0 Chargers at the half…four FGs. The madness continued in the 2nd-half…
*12-3 LAC, Justin Tucker about to hit a 50-yard FG like usual…missed wide-right…that never happens. LAC is set up well and drives down for a 4th & 1 goal line TD plunge after nearly fumbling it away for a BAL defensive 100+ yard scoop and score.
Nothing but gifts and advantages for LAC, and they ran out to a 23-3 lead with 9+ minutes left – and then the Ravens turned on the jets, scored 2 TDs, stopped LAC, got the ball back down 23-16 but with no timeouts it was in vain. Chargers win…but it didn’t feel like a win. It just felt like the Ravens were jinxed all game and LAC survived it in the end.
If the Chargers were a better team, given all the advantages, they would have raced out to a 30+ to little lead and put away the Ravens with impunity. They did not. I still remain unimpressed with the Chargers (which means guaranteed Super Bowl). They go to Foxborough with Bill Belichick having two weeks to prepare and the weather hitting the mid-20s/feels-like the low 20s/high teens – all the advantages are for the Patriots. I expect the Chargers’ luck to run out Sunday in a 1pm eastern game (9am Chargers’ body time…but they’ve been on the East Coast for 2 weeks now).
The Ravens are going to go into the offseason trying to figure out how to build around Lamar Jackson, which will probably end horribly or just mediocrity at some point in 2019 or 2020. You’d suspect teams will figure out this college spread, run-first attack pretty quickly. The Chargers stumbled onto a solution by accident – they started 6 DBs from the opening snap. College defenses are putting ‘big’ safeties in as their linebacker corps to have quicker hitters closer to the line of scrimmage. LAC did that his game because they ran out of starting linebackers due to injury all season, they’re all on I.R. – another weird blessing for God’s team…the L.A. Chargers (or he will continue his eternal prank of them by getting their hopes up and smashing them down in some unique way the next week or two).
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- So how do we value Lamar Jackson (14-29 for 194 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT, 9-54-0) for fantasy 2019+? It’s not easy. I can tell you this – I expect the mainstream to be all-in. All-in to the point of arguing him as a top 3-5 fantasy QB in 4pts per pass TD leagues in 2019 because of his running tallies. He should be the preeminent runner at QB in the league…and no fear of Joe Flacco taking back his job.
However, if it were so easy as ‘runner’ – Tyrod Taylor would have been a top 5 fantasy QB.
However, at-times, Tyrod pushed those top numbers because he’d rush for 50+ yards and a TD in a game…and then ‘boom’ 11-12 pts before you considered his passing numbers. 150 yards passing with 1 TD/1 INT would add 8 more FF points to the rush totals…so, 19-20 fantasy points in a game is pretty stout. Patrick Mahomes would have to go 300 yards and 2 TDs/0 INT as a baseline to hit 20 fantasy points in a game. St. Patrick does…consistently. Not many others do.
On the downside, when Tyrod/Lamar/Cam didn’t rush for a TD…they were QB2 or QB3s in a week – they’d kill you. A lot rides on the mobile-but-weak-passer QBs rushing for a TD in a given week for fantasy 4pts per pass TD. In 6pts per pass TD leagues, especially with passer bonuses – the ‘runners’ are less valuable.
I favor the elite passers for fantasy, but once we get past that select group…we’ll run into Lamar Jackson as a viable option. I’m sure he’ll be a QB1 for us to start next season – just not a guy I really want all that much. I would ‘pass’ on him to avoid the risk that his offense gets figured out as LJax flops as a passer and the whole thing falls apart. I don’t think Mahomes-Mayfield will forget how to pass/throw for stats or get benched/booed away. Jackson has some level of risk for that, so he’s not a guy I want – but I get he’s valuable if playing and it goes reasonably well. OK for the NFL, great for fantasy.
-- There’s almost no way that the Ravens will feature either Kenneth Dixon (6-13-0, 3-53-0/3) or Gus Edwards (8-23-0) next season as their main RBs. The Ravens will either sign or draft the appropriate RB to work with Lamar Jackson’s system.
Dixon is always hurt or suspended…and is designed to be a passing game back – not a real need in this LJax offense. Dixon’s upside is getting away from this offense and landing right with another team…but that’s not going to be easy for him with his track record.
Edwards was nice for his one role – run straight ahead. However, the Ravens will be able to draft bigger, faster, better versions of Edwards without spending a lot of draft capital to do it.
I bet against Dixon-Edwards for 2019.
-- Philip Rivers (22-32 for 160 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) threw for 160 yards and no TDs. The team ran 33 times for 2.7 yards per carry. Not a lot to talk about fresh for FF from LAC here…a great Ravens defensive performance despite always under the gun because of the offense’s mishaps this game.
Melvin Gordon ran a lot, followed by Austin Ekeler…and Keenan Allen saw the most targets (6) on the team. You can set your clock by the lead opportunity for Gordon-Allen every season Rivers is there.
Tyrell Williams (2-9-0/4) can’t hit free agency fast enough.
-- After a rotating carousel of kickers, Michael Badgley (5/6 FGs) seems to have become ‘the guy’. The rookie out of Miami, Fla took over Week 6 and has kicked in 11 games, so far, including playoff and is 20-of-22 in FGs (90.9%). His only misses were both from 50+ yards out.
Badgley rookie pace would extrapolate to a 29 FG season – which would have been top 10 among kickers.
Ka’imi Fairbairn led all kickers with 37 FGs on the 2018 season. Who was 2nd? Mr. Consistency (who missed a key FG here) Justin Tucker with 35.
-- Chargers rookie OLB Uchenna Nwosu (3 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 TFL) has been picking up steam as the season wore on.
1.5 sacks in his first 12 games.
3.0 sacks in his last 5 games.
10 QB hits registered this season in limited play. He’ll be a starter in 2019, and on IDP radars…but classified as an LB/OLB as a pass rusher more than tackle accumulator – not as sweet for fantasy scoring usually.