INTRO: Well, we got no preseason football to watch/analyze/hyperventilate over this year…so, my normal August ‘to-do list’ is blown to smithereens.
It feels weird to have teams going to training camps and for it to be August/preseason and there not to be my favorite kind of football to watch – the preseason, where we can see a lot of the new/rookie and lesser used players get to work and I get to go on a journey of discovery combing over the tape studying them. Fantasy Football 2020 is going to be a year of great college and pro scouting in years prior…and that should give me/FFM a huge advantage going into the redraft season and the NFL/FF season.
Still, we have no preseason football to watch/get hyped about. So, for a lack of football to watch this August…I had an idea to take snapshots of the 2019 season and publish certain of my recaps/game analyses from last season every day/every week of this preseason – to re-remember things we were thinking in at the various stages of 2019 season.
I randomly chose four weeks from the 2019 season to ‘replay’ (republish) every day/week up to the start of the season.
The schedule is planned to be…
Week of 8/3: Week 3 (every team would have had at least one home game, and no byes…trends developing).
Week of 8/10: Week 8 (midseason, only two teams on a bye)
Week of 8/17: Week 13 (most fantasy regular seasons ending, no bye week for any team)
Week of 8/24: Week 15 (the end of most fantasy seasons with the FF finals for most Week 16…also, NFL teams starting to change players/give younger players a chance if they were out of the playoffs, etc.)
Week of 9/1: The NFL playoffs from start to finish.
We’ll have plenty of other current fantasy/football content all August, but I wanted to have some semblance of ‘real football’ for us to read/re-remember/consider. 2-3 games per day I will publish as they were published for subscribers in 2019…and I’ll add some lite ‘updated’ 2020 commentary/hindsight as I see fit.
Enjoy a look back, a ‘skim’ of the 2019 NFL/FF season in August 2020…
2019 Dynasty/Fantasy Football Analysis: Week 13 – Bengals 22, Jets 6
You could sense this was coming… The Jets aren’t that great of a team, despite their nice three-game win streak leading up. The Bengals weren’t rolling over in recent weeks…under-gunned but playing tough and staying close in games against better opponents. They switched back to Andy Dalton to try to win games, and they did just that here.
This game was never close, and not a fluke. The Jets jumped out 3-0 and then the Bengals scored the next 17 points, and eventually led 17-6 at halftime. The Jets would not score again while the Bengals added a safety and a field goal in a very quiet 2nd-half…22-6 Bengals with a resounding victory.
The Jets fall to 4-8 and are looking at a 5-11 finish at best. They end the season with three-straight games against playoff teams (@BAL, PIT, @BUF).
The Bengals deal a serious blow to their #1 overall 2020 draft pick chances with this win. However, their main contender (Miami) one-upped them by beating the Eagles this week. Cincy and Miami play Week 16 and what looked like the #1 pick in the draft -- instead, it looks like either Cincy or NYG will be the #1 and #2 picks in the upcoming draft…order to be determined.
*2020 Comments: The Bengals did lose to Miami Week 16 and went on to change their franchise securing the #1 overall pick and franchise-changing QB Joe Burrow. Out of depression comes a silver lining.*
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Everyone, going into this season, thought if they had Le’Veon Bell (10-32-0/4-35-0/5) and/or Joe Mixon (19-44-1, 4-26-0/4) – they had a great start to a fantasy redraft for 2019.
RB PPR YTD PPG = Bell is #15, Mixon is #27
RB Non-PPR YTD PPG = Bell is #22, Mixon is #24…you’d have been better off with Jordan Howard or Tevin Coleman, per the PPG. David Johnson is wedged between Bell-Mixon here to add to the RB redraft pain.
*2020 Comments: Mixon finished #22 PPG PPR and Bell #17.*
Le’Veon Bell has a season-high 70 yards rushing in a game. He hasn’t rushed for 100+ yards in a game since 2017. Yet, he’ll be a top 12 RB rank this week across the consensus. Which makes sense because he is facing Miami, but you know what’s worse than Miami’s run defense? The Jets’ O-Line and Le’Veon Bell’s output.
Mixon and Bell (and David Johnson and Saquon Barkley among others) are dealing with the same issue – it’s not a talent thing, it’s an O-Line and coaching thing (and possibly fight through an injury thing w Barkley-DJ). The talent cannot outrun their poor O-Line or their coach’s game plan. Scouting RBs for fantasy is becoming less about talent and more about the surroundings.
It’s not a ‘good team’ thing either, in fact it may be the opposite. It’s possible that among the top 7 rushers (on a per game basis) this season…only one of their team’s make the playoffs. If the season ended today, only Dalvin Cook would be in the playoffs. None of the top 7 rushers per game is on a leading-the-division team. In fact, among the top 10 rushers per game, only Ezekiel Elliott is on a team leading their division…and his team has a losing record.
Solo running back centric teams are not ‘where it is at’ in the NFL.
We all think BAL, NE, SF, NO, SEA, KC are the teams that could win the Super Bowl, right? Consider NE, SF, and KC’s backfield…not any one RB in the top 20 for rushing per game. Seattle is the most RB centric team among the top contenders, and their main guy is about to lose his main carry job.
Zero RB theory or take two RBs first two rounds right away desires…none of it means anything, by positional theory, for redrafts. Every season is its own unique snowflake to be master planned.
Only one of the top 5 current PPR scoring per game RBs was a 1st-round redraft pick (McCaffrey). Only two of the top 10 PPR RBs were 1st-round redraft picks (McCaffrey, Elliott). I pushed for doing something different (not an RB) 1st-round and leaning on Fournette-Henry later…and it was right, even if the 1st-round pick we did (Tyreek, Kelce, David Johnson) had varying degrees of success/failure. I got my ace backfield outside the redraft 1st-round.
The fact that people read/considered my Fournette-Henry theory and said/thought ‘I can’t trust Fournette staying healthy’ or ‘Henry isn’t good for PPR’ – that’s not on me. All the redraft teams that went Fournette-Henry in rounds 2-3-4 – they aren’t questioning their 2019 fantasy existence or why Mahomes-Baker-Kyler didn’t do better or why Tyreek or DJ couldn’t stay healthy.
I’m not saying this make anyone feel bad but to sober us up for the 2019 FF playoffs or going into 2020 if you didn’t make the playoffs this year (low likelihood based on our tracking).
Fantasy Football is not easy…that’s what makes it great. Betting on whether Fournette could stay healthy or not was a legit concern preseason -- and if you bet against it, you made a major mistake in 2019. You can autopsy your 2019 team/draft/season all you want and make proclamations on what you’ll never do again next year – but some must consider their ‘I’ll never draft Fournette again’ proclamation after 2018 that might have bit them in 2019 and many forget that in their examining of what things went wrong in 2019.
Every season is a new plan, opportunity, coin flip calls, adjustments…there’s a million ways to build a team and a million ways to save a team in-season racked by injury. There are a million mistakes you’ll see after the fact. It’s not an easy game we play, but it’s a great game. It takes persistence and cunning and luck because there are so many injuries, coaching changes, etc. Fantasy Football is the greatest jigsaw puzzle you can work on all year. If you pout/go into a great depression because you aren’t dominating it every single week/year…it’s a ‘you problem’. And the ‘you problem’ may be (for FFM heavy teams) no deeper than Tyreek Hill and/or Patrick Mahomes missed a chunk of games and it set you back, but now you’re going to make a million new proclamations about fantasy for 2020 (or threaten to quit it all together)…that you wouldn’t have made if Tyreek/Mahomes been healthy all season. 1-2 more wins this season would have changed the season from missed the playoffs to made the playoffs, or made the playoffs vs. won the division. Be careful shooting everything dead first to punish it and then asking questions after.
You cannot dominate this game of fantasy all the time no more than you can win every poker or blackjack hand every deal or pick a winning stock from the stock market every week/year. ‘The struggle’, the process, the theories, the curveballs in-season – it is what it makes it entertaining, challenging, great sport.
Le’Veon Bell is better than this…but consider if you had Bell in 2017 in Dynasty – you thought you ruled the world for the future. Then he stiffed you in 2018, then he went to the Jets (WTF?) and stiffed you again. It’s like real football team management – that’s what makes this fantasy game great…and maddening.
-- OK, onto less serious topics…because that was supposed to be a quick burn on Bell and Mixon (above) and moving on, but The Spirit moved me on a deeper message as I started typing…
Sam Darnold (28-48 for 239 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) is no better than Kyle Allen as a talent. The funny/sad part of that is…Kyle Allen went from ‘he’s the franchise, who needs Cam?’ to ‘bring back Cam!’ in the span of about 5-6 weeks for the ‘what happened last week means everything forever’ analysts. Everyone will now pooh-pooh Allen as a waste. NOW, they knew he wasn’t good enough to be a franchise QB…NOW, they’re dumping Kyle Allen and attaching to how great Ryan Tannehill is. The funny/sad part – Darnold is about as talented as Kyle Allen, but his similar skills/performance will be excused and embraced and promoted for 2-3 more years because the mainstream endorsed him ‘knew’ him and didn’t know a thing about Kyle Allen.
Staying away from Darnold-related things for fantasy was the way to go in 2019…as I’ve said for two years now. The only one saying it two years ago.
-- It’s why you can’t trust Robby Anderson (7-101-0/1) or Jamison Crowder (2-8-0/9) one week to the next.
Which reminds me…
FantasyPros asked several of their analysts, in the preseason, to name one highly ranked/lauded (at the time) player at each position who would be a bust in 2019 season. I just re-looked at my submissions:
QB = Jameis Winston
RB = David Montgomery
WR = Robby Anderson
TE = Delanie Walker
Lest you forget…I know what I’m doing more times than not – and yet I cannot subdue fantasy every week/season. If I could, I’d win the DFS million dollars and retire (maybe). Fantasy Football is an everyday, week, month, year thing. I’m looking for the edge that gets me one better player, one more win in-season on the fly over the competition. Knowing one more thing about one more player or their matchup, etc., is the way…and that’s not an easy task.
I promise you you’ll be better informed on things than everyone in your league with FFM (and CFM), but I cannot promise you you’ll ‘dominate the competition’. I watch and study all year, so you don’t have to. We can know everything about everything and then one guy gets his collarbone shoved through the wrong part of his body partway into Week 1-- and the season plan changes quickly.
-- Tyler Boyd (5-59-1/10) is such a good, underrated WR talent…for the NFL and for fantasy. And he is SO much better with Andy Dalton back.
Boyd is the #32 PPG PPR WR this season to date, but more top 24 when you take out the Ryan Finley games.
Boyd becomes an unknown for 2020 because we don’t know who his QB will be. Hopefully, for him, it will be Joe Burrow.
-- Josh Ross (DNP) is back Week 14. Should we be excited? Well, Cincy is playing failing Cleveland, so there is opportunity. Ross was white hot out of the gates this season…3 TDs Weeks 1-2 and two 110+ yard games. Then he died off quick and then got hurt and missed a chunk of the season.
I don’t know how up to speed Ross is/how rusty he is, but he’s a homerun threat for DFS, etc., right away you have to assume. Not a bad guy to put on the back end of the roster for a possible pop ahead…if you need a boom-bust WR for a playoff game. They play at Miami Week 16.
-- I love the way the Jets are playing defense this season, but they’ve lost so many players to injury it’s hard to count on them. It’s been erratic the past few weeks…some great, some bad.
Week 14 against Miami? I don’t love it now because they will be missing Jamal Adams and that is a stone cold killer for them. He’s been a defensive MVP level of play this season. Him being out is a bridge too far…and opens things up for more Fitzpatrick bombs.
Snap Counts of Interest:
54 = Boyd
53 = Tate
41 = Erickson
22 = Stanley Morgan
47 = Uzomah
24 = Eifert
61 = Le’Veon
11 = Bilal
04 = Ty M
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