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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+.
Honestly, I want to sue the Houston Texans for not yielding the AFC South to the Colts in the regular season. The Colts are so obviously the better team it’s ridiculous…and, yet, my 20-to-1 bet (around Week 5) on Indy to win this division remains unpaid. That money should’ve been mine. The Colts jumped right on the Texans, taking a quick 7-0…14-0…21-0 lead by the half, and then they just sat on them the rest of the way. No matter what the Texans did…they couldn’t handle the Colts defense.
What’s sad about that last sentence is – Week 16, the Colts could barely stop the NY Giants offense. Two weeks later they about shutout the Texans. Who do you blame, on Houston, for this home playoff loss? Bill O’Brien? Deshaun Watson being overhyped? The Colts just that good?
You can’t really blame Bill O’Brien. I’m not a fan, per se, but three division title/playoff appearances in the past four seasons. 2017 being the year he didn’t make it – and might have if Deshaun Watson had not gotten hurt? Granted, the AFC South has been a joke for years, but O’Brien was at the helm of the team that pulled it off…he gets some credit.
Blame Deshaun Watson? You could, but it’s not his fault as much as the media’s…THEY made him a god after 4-5 debut games in 2017, and then reality struck in 2018. The reality is Watson is good-not-great for the NFL. 1 or 2 TD passes in a game in 15 of his 17 games played this season. He’s a very solid NFL QB, more dangerous because he can run – good for the NFL, great for fantasy.
The Colts? They’re good, but their claim to fame is beating Houston a couple times the last two weeks – and if Houston is overrated, then they aren’t great ‘quality wins’ for the Colts, per se.
It is what it is – the Colts just had a better team than the Texans. The Texans had a very easy schedule (as did the Colts), so another playoff appearance…and another falling short. If Houston resided in the AFC East or NFC West…they might have never made the playoffs the past 4 years and O’Brien long since fired.
The Colts are moving on to face the Chiefs. The Colts have faced one top 10 offense (by PPG) in the NFL this season…and got drop kicked by that team…the Patriots. Ignore the Houston games, and the Colts have only faced one top 15 offense this season (the Patriots). The Colts did face offenses #16-17-18 and gave up 27 to NYG, 34 to Cincy, and 20 to PHI. Facing top 20 offenses this season, the Colts were 3-4…beating HOU twice and lucking by the Giants. The Chiefs are the #1 offense in the NFL. I think I like the Chiefs here…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- This is why I kept yammering on about Keke Coutee the last 3-4-5-6 weeks of the season, despite his tissue paper hamstring…11 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD on 14 targets.
I can’t explain it, I don’t know why it’s happening like this, but there’s something about Coutee that O’Brien/Watson love and dump targets on. Coutee is a solid player, but his targeting is ‘wow’. Second time this season he saw 14 or more targets in a game – his debut game and the playoffs (after a long layoff). It’s like…no adjustment time needed, no nothing – just back healthy after missing several weeks, no problem, here’s 14+ targets.
Coutee played in just 7 games this season (incl. playoffs) but got hurt (hammy) in-game in some. He played five games with 5 or more targets in a game. His numbers in those five games…
10.0 FF PPG/17.2 PPR on 7.2 catches (10.0 targets), 76.0 yards, 0.40 TDs per game
The downside – he has had hamstring issues going back to college, and he never stays consistently healthy.
The upside – he stays healthy and catches 100+ passes next year being used as their Julian Edelman (his WR coach is Wes Welker).
-- DeAndre Hopkins (5-37-0/10) didn’t have his best day and I felt like he was finishing the season weak, but it fact it was a small lull several weeks ago and strong finish. In fact, for the regular season, career highs in catches per game (7.2) and yards per game (98.3) and catch rate (of targets) – 70.6%.
The Hopkins-Watson connection is strong…and with Antonio Brown flaking, Hopkins has a case to be the top WR in all of fantasy.
He was #3 in PPR PPG in 2018…Davante Adams was #1.
He was #4 in non-PPR PPG in 2019…Tyreek Hill was #1.
-- I’m a trader of Marlon Mack (24-148-1, 2-6-0/3), again. I was fan to start the season…but I was interested in his sweet undervaluation – and when he popped, I was ready to sell off…and did in most places.
He’s very hot, again. We’ve gone through this roller coaster ride with Mack earlier this season. However, three 110+ yard rushing games in his last four games right now – and the RB lemmings LOVE this type of trend. Rush for 100+ this week or back-to-back week…than you’re an RB1 forever, but if next week 17 carries for 52 yards…’he’s soft’/random RB2.5.
He’s on the uptick right now…he can be sold off for a low-end RB1 value right now – like RB1.25.
Mack is fine…now, but that value is going to leak out fast…
In 2019, the Colts HAVE TO draft a running back. Not like a 1st-round stud chase…I mean, a nice 3rd-4th-round option that can share the load with Mack. Once any decent RB joins this backfield…Le’Veon Bell or whomever, even if just a bigger-name/talent 3rd-down back – Mack’s value drops to RB2-2.5 preseason and maybe ends up worse than that when 2019 reality hits.
-- D’Onta Foreman (1-3-0, 0-0-0/1) seemed fine coming back from his 2017 Achilles injury…and he must have been healed up enough to get activated. So, in their final three games, Foreman gets 9 touches Week 16, his return game. No touches critical Week 17 and 1 touch in this playoff game.
I guess we know where Foreman stands in Bill O’Brien’s world.
Lamar Miller makes $7M next season…or gets cut for a $1 hit. I’ll assume the Texans will bash their head against the wall for more year with Miller. O’Brien’s got a thing for him. It’s unexplainable, but when old-school coaches fall for an RB…no one can replace them easily.
Foreman’s value is ‘deep sleeper’ – waiting for an injury above him top get a shot.
**Coming Very Soon – College Football Metrics 2019 subscriptions will be opening up and the new season will be under way. I have been going through the East-West game prospects and beginning the first full scouting reports since December 2018, and they’ll be the first things you see out of the gates when we open up.
I’m shocked by a few of the East-West prospects…some potential ‘wow’ prospects in a game there usually isn’t much ‘wow’ in because they all usually wind up at the Senior Bowl. Not this year. The East-West games will have dynasty rookie draft sleeper wheels turning early.
Haskins-Grier-Lock-Stidham…other? What’s up with this oft-labeled weak QB draft class? I’m not sure it’s that weak…depends upon your perspective. We’ll be analyzing and computer grading all the top QBs and discussing what I mean by ‘perspective’.
It’s NFL Draft overload season…it’s Fantasy title defense or title chase study season… Here comes our 8th year of College Football Metrics to the rescue!**
-- Andrew Luck (19-32 for 222 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) had a quite a year. I hedged my bets in the preseason thinking his arm/shoulder would not be fully back, and I was dead wrong (but I had my eye on other FF QBs ;) -- so it was OK). He looked shaky in the preseason and Week 1 – but eventually he caught serious fire and finished as the #6 fantasy QB in PPG (4pts per pass TD).
In my heart there’s the Mt. Rushmore of FF QBs for the future…Mahomes-Mayfield-Goff and eventually Trubisky (maybe). If you barred me from possessing any of them…Andrew Luck would probably be my default option for the near-future.
Home/dome stadium. South division ensures mostly good weather games in December. Clearly has the keys to the car for this franchise. He’s bigger than everyone there. Shoulder is fine. O-Line is in place. He’s a top tier QB for the next few years. Next season, he’ll be 30 years old already…my how time flies.
-- Is the Colts-DST a sleeper for top 5 for 2019? Maybe…probably not…but not out of the question.
Again, that Colts’ schedule ‘ease’ scares me on how much of this is their defense and how much the schedule.
They held six teams to under 10 points in a game this season, and the QBs they faced in those games were: Alex Smith (in the rain), Derek Anderson, Mariota/Gabbert, Kessler, Dak, Watson.
Brady-Dalton-Wentz-Eli scored 29.8 PPG against them.
Just is still out but they are not bad, just not sure they are the next ‘it’ defense. Let’s see what JAC does for a QB next season, that may change the whole division’s dynamic. I mention the ‘division dynamic’ because... Guess what? In terms of PPG, the entire AFC South was in the NFL’s top 10 in fewest PPG allowed (again, the schedule + playing their sad selves).
-- Darius Leonard (13 tackles, 1 PD)…I still marvel at how well he’s playing. A linebacker from the FCS ranks comes right in and is an all-world linebacker. Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State, the same.
I haven’t looked yet, but I’ll bet it’s either an Alabama or Clemson linebacker at the top of the mainstream 2019 NFL Draft ILB rankings. Worst case, it’s someone from the SEC for sure.
The top (PPR) fantasy scorers (PPG) this season, listed by college…
QB = Texas Tech
RB = Georgia
WR = Fresno State
TE = Cincinnati
DL = Pitt
LB = South Carolina State
DB = LSU
No Alabama. No Clemson. No USC. No Ohio State.
-- An unusual amount of me seeing Houston LB Dylan Cole (4 tackles) on the field in this game. He didn’t start but I saw him on the field a bunch. I hope this is a sign of things to come in 2019. He was in and rushing the passer more than usual.
Again, I say…Cole ever gets the chance to start…he might lead the league in tackles and be the top LB in IDP.