2019 Dynasty-Fantasy Preseason Wk1 Panthers 23, Bears 13
Well, here we go…the first real week of the preseason. The preseason is arguably my favorite time of the ‘real season’, as I get to see all these rookies I’ve scouted this draft season, and rookies who were buried last year, in action. You can do a ton of work on scouting rookies, especially smaller-school ones, but seeing them against the top athletes in the pro game…even if against backup pro talents…helps to further profile them. Professionally, I love these next four weeks.
For fans, its two things…both very dangerous for fantasy football:
1) We’re all starved for football, so these are the first cards dealt in the poker game and we couldn’t be any more excited. Too excited. As is the media. Simple performances are blown up into stories…because websites only have ‘stories’ to sell. There has to be a story, the have to make the donuts, so they find/make them. And then so many outlets copy the ones at the top and suddenly we have a story that every person is parroting.
We’re addicted to crack, and the crack dealer just arrived with some samples…a.k.a. preseason football.
My job is to see these developing ‘stories’, evaluate the fact or fiction, but also to know if they are the ‘stories’ people are going to glom onto and affect ADPs/draft strategies.
2) This next thought struck me this morning after watching the Arizona game on two different platforms at the same time… I had the Arizona game on my TV…with the announcers from Arizona. I had the Arizona game on Game Pass/NFL and they had the Chargers feed of the same game.
Realize, when you’re a (hardcore) ‘fan’ of a certain team…the two announcers that are usually not good sought after to work national broadcasting games – they are paid by the team to hype the team locally on radio and TV. I watch every one of these preseason games for years and get all the different feeds, every year. It stuck out to me watching two commentaries of the same exact game -- that two groups of humans, the Arizona announcers and the Chargers announcers, could watch the same game with two very different perspectives.
Their perspective is – every starter for THEIR team is great, every offseason move THEIR team made is great, every draft pick is promising, every UDFA might make the team with that play they just made, the coaches really love every player, this has been the greatest camp this year, the players are really picking up the new offense, the players love the new scheme, every star player gets to work at 4am and leaves at midnight.
How is this possible to be true? An NFL team without flaw?
We, as fans, are only hearing one-side of the story being beaten into our ears…and it’s typically the story/hype you want to hear as a fan. And then when I come around and say the opposite, the record needle scratches, and you think I’m some evil monster that doesn’t know what I’m talking about because I proclaimed the opposite of your state sponsored local football media.
I’m not paid from the fact that I ass-kiss ‘the team’ and hope to get retained for next game/year by said team’s buttocks smooched. I only get paid if I’m reading players, coaches, and situations properly.
We face the same issue in politics. We choose to hear one side and won’t listen to an alternative for a moment (and when you are hearing the alternative…you’re not really listening you’re working on your knee-jerk rebuttal) and the same for your favorite NFL team.
Hardcore fans are almost impossible to communicate with. But it’s beyond that -- even if you’re watching a preseason game that does not involve your favorite team, you watch a game innocently to scout/enjoy…but depending upon the announcing feed your given, the game is called/viewed/given to you through a whole different/slanted lens. A subtle, inadvertent con. Be alert on getting swayed by the preseason hype. I try to deliver you an outsider’s interpretation.
It doesn’t mean I’m always right, or that I’m super cool above-it-all…I just have a different vision/perspective of these things. I’m just a professional football analyst trying to get to the truth. I just happen to be super talented at it.
With that said… Welcome to the real preseason and ‘R.C. Pisses on Everything in the Preseason’, Season 10.
You love it when I do, mostly.
-- I guess we have to start with David Montgomery (3-16-1, 3-30-0/3), the newest member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Congrats to him for his long journey to the pinnacle.
If you have been following my work this year, you already know I’m pushing back against David Montgomery as a future/current superstar prospect. I think he’s OK, but that the legend of him is growing out of control and is making for a very overpriced fantasy asset.
So, last night Montgomery had a couple very nice runs/plays…and when you combine a good (and not bad) performance with a very willing recipient/viewership – sparks will fly. Of all the players currently in the NFL/fantasy, no one had a more ADP bumping night than Montgomery. His six touches against Carolina’s second team defense has checked all the boxes for the people who had all the boxes pre-checked out.
Montgomery is going to go from RB20-25 to RB15-20 this week in drafts, I would suspect. In Dynasty Rookie Drafts…he’s going to go ahead of Miles Sanders (which has been starting to happen the past 5-10 days anyway). I think he’s going all the way into the #2 ADP pick in Rookie Drafts…ahead of Sanders and N’Keal Harry next week, and he could leapfrog Josh Jacobs at #1 – if Jacobs is boring in his debut or reveals any issues. The Montgomery momentum is ‘lit’, as the kids say.
I still do not believe that Montgomery is going to be such a force of nature that he sends Tarik Cohen to a part-time PPR glorified Jalen Richard, and that he sends Mike Davis (3-9-0) to ‘sideline observer’. Montgomery is likely going to follow a Kerryon Johnson or Rashaad Penny path in redraft last year…people assumed they were so great and that they would win the starting job Week 1. But they don’t, not right away or at all…and then by regular season Week 2-3-4 you’re sitting there with a big investment in Montgomery and he’s a minimal/spotty touch rookie you want/need to cut to grab something else but hesitate in fear of cutting ties with a high pick rookie you covet. He’s a bad-bad-bad redraft value about to get worse.
I will grant you this…the hype is so hyper that I will buy into the pressure it will put on Matt Nagy, and he will want to please the media/fans…and he, like all of us, will have blinders on for this new toy. Tarik Cohen is 10x the receiving weapon and Mike Davis the superior inside runner and overall back Montgomery is – and thus Montgomery should be brought along slowly behind them. I thought he’d be 1-5 touches per game the first 4-8 weeks of the season, but now I’m thinking this hype is going to force a three-headed monster.
I thought, all summer, that Cohen was an RB2, Davis an RB3, and Montgomery an understudy RB4. Now, the Montgomery hype train is going to push all of them to random RB3s to try to figure out/time just right week-to-week. Howard-Cohen split last year. Cohen will split with Montgomery or with Montgomery-Davis this year. It’s moving to a full-scale cluster that I don’t want to try to mess with if I can help it.
How did Montgomery look to me in his debut? I thought he looked fine. It was only a couple touches. He had some nice adjustments and cuts to the outside but just note – he thinks he has an invincible escapability, so you notice most things he naturally looks to the outside. I wonder/worry that against 1st-team defenses playing within their scheme…that the kick to the outside is not going to be there. He needs space to do his thing and the NFL doesn’t typically have giant holes for everyone to run through. What was a nice stop-start and race outside 5-10-+ yard run in the preseason is a stop and start to move and get wiped out by a 1st-team defensive lineman for a negative play. That’s my fear on Montgomery is that his stop-start is not at a high enough level. His pause and restart won’t be quick enough to dominate.
I fear he is a better version of Theo Riddick, and not a similar Kareem Hunt. Maybe he’s just in-between.
The 2019 Montgomery debate will be decided by touch count…and I think Montgomery won’t get enough touches to give the ROI for your high price for the first half of the season or more. Then the rookie enthusiasm wears off and then a year later we’re like ‘yawn’ (like Kerryon Johnson 2018 to 2019).
I’m betting against Montgomery being a strong RB2 in redraft in August. This Week 1 preseason performance didn’t change that for me, but it’s going to be a siren call for the media and thus the masses.
Justin Jackson (LAC) and Dontrell Hilliard (CLE) showed skills as well last night, but we’re not all as hyped by their Week 1 preseason showing because the media is not camped out there. They are camped out on Montgomery…so is the public…so is the Bears coaching staff.
-- Another example of selective joy…Bears 6th-round rookie RB Kerrith Whyte (6-35-0, 1-7-0/1) had a nice showing in his debut. He showed the ability to bounce away from congestion and create yards as well…and did so to the sound of crickets in the media.
Whyte ran in the 4.3s at his Pro Day while posting a 42.0” vertical and benching an impressive 21 reps at 5’10”/197, better athlete, on paper, in every measurable than Montgomery. Nobody even cares or gives him the time of day.
Football scouting, and fantasy, are an emotional/religious faith exercise more than a study/science for most involved.
The Bears will have a decision to make whether to keep Whyte or 2nd-year RB Ryan Nall (5-8-0, 4-21-0/4), who flashed a little as a pass catcher last night.
-- We (the football masses) used to care deeply about Cameron Artis-Payne (5-8-0, 2-30-0/2) back when he was a rookie and 2nd-year player. Now, no one cares.
I just want to note – Artis-Payne is the Christian McCaffrey handcuff, on purpose for Carolina. I don’t see anyone in his way. Certainly not UDFA rookie RB Elijah Holyfield (9-26-1).
I can remember when Holyfield was most scouts top five RB prospect back in Dec 2018/Jan 2019 in the draft season/process. Why? The emotion of the last name/relation of ‘Holyfield’ tugged at their hearts. His NFL Combine flop un-tugged it. He won’t matter for fantasy…or dynasty.
-- I thought rookie QB Will Grier (9-16 for 77 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) looked very comfortable last night in his debut. Typically, rookie debuts on bigger QB names…the QBs can be a bit jumpy. Grier was very calm and collected.
He didn’t really push the passing game more than taking a lot of safe dump passes, but he took what was there.
What makes me not want to bet Carolina as an ‘under’ on the Vegas win total this year, despite a disastrous schedule…is if Cam goes down, Will Grier is plausible to step in. If Mitch Trubisky goes down, good luck with Chase Daniel.
-- Carolina 1st-round pick Brian Burns (2 tackles, 2 sacks) had two sacks in his debut. One where Chase Daniel ran right into him while fleeing the pocket. His second sack was better, juking a backup TE and then engulfing a fleeing Daniel.
-- Should be being groomed to be a #1/#2 NFL WR but will fight to make this team Bears’ WR Javon Wims (2-15-0/3) looked as smooth as ever in his brief time playing.
I’d be worried if I were a Bears fan, that the team pushing touches to Montgomery and away from the other more experienced/talented play-maker RBs at the same time ignores Wims to push Riley Ridley and Anthony Miller. If it happens, I have a bad feeling the Bears are going to disappoint in 2019 and beyond.
Every touch counts. Playmakers not getting the ball a bunch is Nagy’s M.O. back to his Chiefs O-C days. Also, see: last season’s playoffs and Tarik Cohen’s touch count. 2019 is going to be a big judgement year for Nagy…how he balances the backfield, receivers, if he develops or harnesses Trubisky, and if the defense falters – a Bears decline in 2019 will quickly turn the headlines to how much Vic Fangio mattered in 2018, and not Nagy…especially if the Broncos are fighting for the AFC West title, as I think they might be a version of the 2018 Bears.
-- Some kicker drama in this game…
I’m about as sick of hearing about the doink-doink field goals from the Bears last year as I am the Saints fans suing the NFL over the non-pass interference call. All the silly media chatter on the Chicago kicker issues just adds more pressure to the current coaches and kickers.
I was talking to our own Handicapping Group member ‘Skol’ and we were discussing the GB-CHI season opener, and whether taking the +4 with GB was a good a bet…and he noted the Bears kicker issue could rear its head again right away in that game, which is a good point to consider for any GB +points bet in that one.
The Bears traded-for kicker Eddy Piniero missed his first FG attempt. His 2019 camp rival Elliott Fry nailed his only attempt. They have been going back in forth in camp. I’ve said it a few times this calendar year…the Bears have to/will trade for Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik to try to solve the issue. He’s got a big leg but can be erratic too.
On the Panthers’ side, oh by the way, rookie kicker Joey Slye (3/3 FGs) nailed all three of his FG attempts including punching a 55-yarder with ease. Graham Gano did struggle a bit last year, but no way he gets replaced by Frye…but maybe the Bears grab Frye during cut-downs, since they just witnessed this event?
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