2019 Dynasty-Fantasy Preseason Analysis Wk4 – Bucs 17, Cowboys 15
Not much of a game here…I mean, Vinny Testaverde’s son played in this game. Did you know his son was an aspiring NFL QB? I forgot. He may have won like a raffle drawing at halftime and nabbed the opportunity to play in a Week 4 preseason game, like some ‘fantasy camp’ for fans.
The game itself was no big deal, but I was trying to save this game recap/notes for the conclusion of the Zeke-Pollard-Jerry saga…and here we are.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- For fantasy purposes, this is easy…
Ezekiel Elliott plays right away and doesn’t really share with Tony Pollard. No ‘Kamara’ or anything else for Pollard. The Cowboys have three easier games to start the season, so if they win big…then Pollard might take some touches late. No reason to grind Elliott down with meaningless carries. But there is no ‘take it slow’ Week 1 here…Zeke is in, Pollard is FF-toast.
We took our chances on Pollard…a 7th-15th-round pick we made over the past month in FFM-land. I wish it would have hit, but I do not regret the gamble for a moment. You only get so many shots at a legit RB1 hopeful, which Pollard could have been in PPR had Elliott sat out. You will likely cut/replace/improve on every third player you took in rounds 8-15, in redraft, if you’re an FFM’er. We take gambles in the redraft knowing that we’ll lead the league in transactions in-season. We’ll have so many shots at RBs of the moment that will spring to life the next few weeks, we won’t even remember we started the season with Pollard (unless Elliott goes down).
If you’re whining about the wasted redraft pick on Pollard, you shouldn’t. What, you were going to take Tevin Coleman instead? The RB board shifts weekly, radically. If we redrafted after Week 1, everything would be chaos compared to today’s rankings…then again in Week 2, etc. We’re a week a way from the etch-a-sketch of fantasy getting shaken and redrawn at running back. If you’re worried about your #4 RB today, and looking right past your power/depth at QB-WR-TE…that’s a YOU problem. You’ve been conditioned by the national experts to over-care about the most replaceable thing in all of fantasy…RB depth. No other position produces instant, important ‘1s’ (RB1, WR1, etc.) like running back. You care about it so much you can’t sleep about the state of the #4-5 RBs on your roster for Week 1…you’re not even using them!
Should you keep Pollard in redraft this moment? We have no real reason to. He’s as random as betting on Chase Edmonds, Reggie Bonnafon, or Wayne Gallman today.
Pollard a little more interesting because he could be the natural replacement for Randall Cobb at WR, if Cobb falls down. Edmonds and Pollard are on the same value level right now – talented backups/handcuffs who you’ll cut within 2-3 weeks unless a tragedy happens to DJ or EE.
Side thought: My worst fear as an NFL GM would be…”Well paid Ezekiel Elliott.” That’s why you won’t see him ranked all that highly as you might expect in our latest draft guide and dynasty rankings coming out.
-- For NFL purposes, this is more complex…
You probably think I’m going to rail on this decision because RBs are so replaceable. And that’s true and I could, but Dallas had to do this – their team is built on Elliott (in their minds). They have a non-high-flying passer QB who cannot carry a bad team like an Aaron Rodgers could. They have, arguably, the worst/most useless head coach. The have a very good defense. They can win with the power run game and defense. They shouldn’t be built for Zeke…but they are. All the coaches are afraid of him, and of living without him. The Cowboys can win a lot of games with this set up, right now.
They just won't ‘win it all’, because they don’t have the elite defense, elite QB, or savvy head coach. It would have taken guts to stand up to Elliott and build the team differently, but Jerry backed himself into a corner with this roster/team make up and his best chance to win now is signing Elliott.
Do you think Bill Belichick would have agreed to this deal with Elliott? That answers whether I think this was a wise NFL move. It’s a good marketing move, and Jerry is back in the spotlight some more.
Before you think Jerry is too much of an idiot… I saw him on CNBC this morning, being interviewed on set for like 20+ minutes and it was a compelling, rational 20+ minutes. Jerry can be a cartoon figure, kind of like we make all our presidents out to be if they are of the opposite party from us – but that glosses over, that they’re all pretty damn smart and obviously accomplished. Jerry talked about Elliott some on CNBC, but mostly he talked about his natural gas investments and other random items -- and he was solid gold TV. Better versed and more in control in a media setting than 30+ other owners or GMs would be sitting in the same chair.
Jerry is just a weak NFL GM, but he’s a fantastic owner and the savvy lead man negotiating everything for the NFL. If Jerry had just funded a Jimmy Johnson and stepped back from the GM role – Dallas might be the New England of the last couple decades. Instead, we have Dallas barely able to ever make the playoffs or win a game when they get there.
One last thing about this for NFL purposes… This is a major problem for the NFL, and Jerry just opened the door to it – every star player is about to sit out to pull this stunt. Especially those in the final year of their deal and can do what Melvin Gordon is doing…take 10 games off and come back Week 11 and still have a ‘year of service’ and head to free agency the following year.
Guaranteed Leonard Fournette will try this if he has a big 2019. He’ll sit out 2020 like Gordon/Elliott/Bell trying to force a deal, or just save wear and tear on his tires getting to his free agency season. He won’t be the only one.
OK, onto the game here…
-- Dare Ogunbowale (8-9-0, 2-17-0/2) started and still looks like the best Tampa Bay RB that I’ve seen this year. Before you get too-too excited, consider…
My excitement is that Ogunbowale is better than Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. That’s not a huge compliment. If/when Dare gets to split role status, he’s an RB2 at best.
I think Tampa will start Week 1 with the Barber-Jones split because Bruce Arians is obstinate (see: 2015 Andre Ellington and old Chris Johnson working ahead of then thought to be Ellington compliment young David Johnson). Dare will see limited touches for a week or two but keep growing because of the Jones failures to come. Eventually, Dare will be in a split with Barber and then everyone will want/like Ogunbowale over Barber.
I’d say by Week 3-4, there is total chaos in the Tampa backfield and Dare the one to want for fantasy. It may happen as soon as the 4th-quarter of Week 1.
Side note…Ogunbowale lined up as a receiver and ran a nice pass pattern for a catch in this game. He’s the best receiving back they have, by far, but he’s also the toughest/quickest RB runner too…just inexperienced. Assuming Tampa faceplants quickly…Dare will rise up rapidly. A Dare-T.J. Logan backfield could be ’a thing’ by midseason.
-- Dallas WR Devin Smith (2-31-0/4) looks terrific again here and has all preseason. If Amari can’t go/stumbles, and/or Cobb is shot…watch out for Devin mattering for Dallas in 2019…and maybe in fantasy as a BYE week hopeful at some point.
-- Bucs rookie UDFA RB Bruce Anderson (20-70-1, 1-7-01/) looked very capable in this game. Not a star, but you’d chase him in fantasy if he got elevated to touches as this whole Bucs backfield fell apart. He currently resides on the practice squad.
-- Bucs UDFA WR Anthony Johnson (1-16-0/2) just looks like a solid, NFL-worthy WR and he was really dominant at Buffalo in college – but he didn’t get drafted, and then was cut by the Bucs and hasn’t landed anywhere yet. Not a good sign for what he must be like off the field. He is getting totally ignored by the NFL so far.
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