2019 Dynasty-Fantasy Preseason Wk1 Chiefs 38, Bengals 17
The big news from this game happened a day before it was played… Andy Reid shocking the fantasy community by announcing that he would be going with a running-back-by-committee approach in the backfield.
Several reactions from that statement…
1) My utter shock.
It’s rare that an NFL head coach blathers their plans to the world early on a situation, but when they do – it’s usually gold/happening for sure. They aren’t changing their minds because they don’t want to look bad/they’re obstinate.
I didn’t understand why Andy Reid was so adamant that Damien Williams was the starter back in June 2019, when he didn’t have to say anything but ‘we like all the guys we got’ and ‘best man wins, we have an embarrassment of riches in talent’. Instead, Reid proclaimed Williams starter.
Reid proclaimed it again in July as did the offensive coordinator.
When Williams missed time in camp with a hamstring, and Reid low key praised Carlos Hyde…the fantasy observers went nuts seeing an RB controversy brewing. I listened to Reid’s press Q&A, he didn’t hint at any controversy or issue with Williams…just wished he were healthy to go. He just praised Hyde for a good camp, along with praising half the team as well…the usual nonsense puff stuff meeting with the media for five minutes. “Everything and everybody is great!”
I railed against the machine that was saying there was an RB controversy here…because I thought for sure Reid would stick by his earlier guns. I felt quite confident of that belief when I saw, the next day, that Williams was sitting atop the RB depth chart. Williams was also back to practice. I felt like it was a decent time to buy Williams on the news spin against him if you could steal him.
A few days later, Reid makes the statement about an RBBC…and I look like an idiot.
2) This type of thing doesn’t happen, until it does…and it’s serious.
You just do not go from unquestioned starter Damien Williams, to passive-aggressively/oh-by-the-way mentioning your RBBC plans on satellite radio unless something not-good, for Damien Williams, has happened behind-the-scenes.
This was not a situation that sprung from an open competition and by-gosh look at Carlos Hyde take the lead. Andy Reid had to know what Hyde offered as a talent or they wouldn’t have signed him. Rare/never do established, proclaimed starting RBs lose their job because they are (minor) injured in training camp. If anything, according to NFL-ways, the coach should rally/defend Williams. The O-C was doing just that days before Reid’s statement.
Reid could have also just opened the door slightly by praising Hyde-Thompson a bunch and saying he was excited by their talent depth/options…he could have slowly backed into it over the next few days. He didn’t. He went from Williams as starter in interviews and on the recently released depth charts to ‘we’ll try an RBBC’ just days later.
It just doesn’t work that way in the NFL. It should…these coaches should shut their mouths about their internal plans anyway. But they can’t help themselves. It’s so very odd the timing of all this.
I’m trying to find out what happened from inside sources, but be on the watch for two things…
a) Maybe Williams said or did something in frustration and pissed Reid off…and now he’s in the doghouse. It cannot be just the hamstring issue. Many #1 RBs won’t even play in the preseason or work much in camp, so missing time is not the end of the world. Something turned Reid on Williams, who he loved up until 48 hours ago.
Williams was a head case in college and was kicked off of the Oklahoma Sooners late his senior season for missing meeting/event times. Suspended twice his senior year, the final one being dismissed.
b) There may be a PED or ‘other’ suspension coming, and Reid knows its possibility, but it hasn’t been announced yet, etc.
3) All roads lead to Carlos Hyde?
Be default, he’s going to be the guy…potentially. Damien Williams could get back in the race -- but if you assume Williams did something very bad (and has a history) to make Reid do a sharp turn, I don’t think we see Reid turn again and go, “Just kidding, Damien is the starter again.”
4) I was wrong, after I was right…I should’ve just stuck with my first instinct – but I was wrong recently, which is very bad.
I bought into the narrative/logic that hard-headed coaches stick to their guns and that there was no cause for concern on Williams. I went from calling him ‘a risk’ and ‘overvalued’ all summer to suggesting people trade for him as the price/rumors dropped last week. Three days later, the bottom fell out with the RBBC announcement. I may have led you down the wrong path if you went after Damien via trade. I misinterpreted the evidence and got a minor burn.
It happens, but I still hate it.
No time to cry. We got a million decisions to make on player situations in fantasy – you won’t bat 1.000 on them. We just gotta win more than the competition. If I’m interpreting the situation now…I’m leaning to the side of things that Williams is actually worse off now than we think. There’s hope he reclaims his starter’s crown, but I feel the whipsaw actions in this by Andy Reid only happened because there is a real (bad) catalyst behind it. I’m going back to my Hyde ‘undervalued’, Williams ‘overvalued’ stance until further notice.
I cannot foresee a moment ahead where Reid goes…”No, really…I was just kidding…we’re all-in on Damien.” I think he was ‘in’, and now he isn’t, and I don’t think Williams can easily get that back again. The toothpaste is out of the tube.
Now, let’s look at my preseason game notes…from the actual game itself.
-- So, you’re also then wondering if rookie RB Darwin Thompson (5-22-0, 1-29-1/2) is now in-play as a ‘winner’ in the Damien Williams fall from grace. It doesn’t hurt but I think he’s not going to be that big of an impact for fantasy 2019.
Thompson did two things in this game that will rocket his dynasty rookie and fantasy value…
1) He caught a TD pass…a catch and run 29-yarder. We’re starved for good football news, and the media loves things on players it loves…and they seem adore Darwin Thompson. It was a pretty vanilla catch and run TD, he outraced a slow-ass linebacker in a wide-open field for the score. It was fine/good, but I saw headlines like it was the mic drop moment of 2019 play…that’s a little too hype.
2) He had a 10+ yard run in the game where he jumped high in the sky over a tackler. The fans love nothing more than leaping players. It’s a weird dynamic about fans (and game announcers and the media). If a player lowers his shoulder to drive for 2-3 more yards…it’s dull. If that same player stops running, jumps, thus losing speed/movement, and gets tackled as he lands for those same 2-3 yards…it’s seen as ‘special’ and ‘wow’.
I thought Thompson looked fine but wasn’t otherworldly. He accounted himself well, and if Damien Williams is about to ‘go down’, Thompson would be in-line for that 20-25% workload share with Hyde at 75-80%.
-- The other KC Chief crowned superstar from this game was Mecole Hardman (1 carry for -5 yards, 2-31-1/3). He looked very fast on his jet sweep/touch pass catch and run score…and that’s what will be locked into everyone’s mind…in part, because they already had a great opinion of Hardman. I saw some things differently.
For sure, his get the ball out of the backfield and race past everyone for a 17-yard score was nice. He is obviously very fast. Box checked.
What you won’t see or hear in the media are notes on his other plays. From my eye, one thing stood out (besides ‘great speed’) – Hardman still looks spastic and unpolished as an NFL wide receiver. There is little fluidity in his routes/breaks into routes. He’s flailing and flapping his arms and making erratic cuts and so wound up he’s not seeing the ball well. He’s trying to out-speed everyone but there’s more to being an NFL WR than that. The good news is – the speed is real. Sometimes fast guys are fast on paper but not with pads on. Hardman looked the speed part on his TD run. I just caution you…John Ross looks really fast all the time too, he’s just terrible at being a wide receiver. I think there should be a healthy fear of that with Hardman…not assumed, but just a caution.
We also won’t mention his true end-around running play where he was not as quick going east-west and was chased out of bounds for a loss and brought down quickly by an official who forearmed Hardman in self-defense and Hardman went down like he was shot with a tranquilizer dart while the out-of-shape middle-aged official/line judge/chain gang dude just looked down at him.
I worry that Hardman is a kick returner’s mind/movements trying to become a legit wide receiver and it’s not there yet…or may never be. He had the problem at Georgia of just not standing out as a consistent receiver, but every once in a while he’d make a splash play.
With his speed there is hope, but there are things to worry about beyond the speed.
-- The Bengals also played in this game. I’m just now mentioning that. They looked lethargic compared to the Chiefs. The final score was indicative of the reality. The Chiefs are younger, better, deeper than the Bengals. It’s going to be a long year in Cincy.
My first item to note on the Bungles…
The starting WR trio was Boyd-Core-Malone, for those keeping score. Andy Dalton started a series and he targeted Tyler Boyd on four of his first 5 throws to WRs, FYI.
Without AJG…Boyd is a week-to-week WR1 threat in PPR, on targeting projections alone.
-- Bengals rookie RB Trayveon Williams (5-5-1,1-13-0/1) started and got a nice push of touches to get work in. He looked solid. He didn’t disappoint or show out better than I remembered. He was who he was. I think the Bengals will trade/cut Gio Bernard and make Trayveon the Mixon handcuff/partner.
-- Bengals rookie UDFA WR Jamal Custis (1-14-0/1) played with the 3rd-team mostly and had a nice inside route and tough catch over-the-middle in the game. No real push seen here for a guy who has my attention but has a huge uphill battle to making fantasy waves someday.
-- Ditto that sentiment for Bengals UDFA WR Stanley Morgan (3-42-0/5), who also like a lot. The difference for Morgan vs. Custis – Custis was barely noticeable in this game. Morgan was being looked for by different QBs, he made a few nice grabs and was returning kicks as well. Morgan got a showcase, Custis was just another guy out there. Stock moving back up on Morgan.
-- Stock moving down on Chiefs 2nd-year LB Dorian O’Daniel (2 tackles). He worked his way to interior starter last midseason and then fell off and is now working 3rd-team. A great waste of talent, or there are issues off the field. The O’Daniel scarfed up quietly by the Patriots watch is on…
-- Ryan Finley (13-18 for 109 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) looked solid, not rattled in his debut. He’s on his way to the #2 role this year…and, eventually, fans whining for a QB change in-season when the Bengals stink and everyone blames it on Dalton.
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