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 – Broncos 23, Chargers 20
In a game no one cared about at 4pmET with no real NFL implications…the Broncos won a game on a last play hail mary type play that actually drew a pass interference. Shocking…we actually call legit penalties late in a game. I thought we only excessively called penalties for the first 57 minutes of game and then locked the flags in briefcase at the two-minute warning. But it was a legit call.
The refs get a lot of grief, but I’d love to see a losing coach get up after a game and say, “I hated it, but it was a penalty. The refs made the right call.” They made the right call here. Anthony Lynn can cry all he wants. I get the, “They never call that at that point in the game!” feeling, but two wrongs don’t make a right. The ball was on point to the WR and as Sutton tried to move after it he was run into by the defender. If they don’t make the call, the other side of the field complains the next 24-48 hours about the calls not being made. Someone always is up in arms about something over close losses. You can never satisfy an entire field of players or viewership of fans in a game. It is what it is.
This game was 17-3 Denver in the 1st-half and it looked like the Broncos would run away with it, but they curled up in a ball and tried to let the clock win them the game…the Chargers came back to get it to a 20-20 tie with seconds remaining, and then the shocking ending for a Denver win. It wasn’t pretty but Drew Lock won his debut.
The Chargers fall to 4-8…ANOTHER disappointing season, only this time people ARE asking questions about Philip Rivers’s culpability in all this. LAC will finish around 5-11, 6-10 at best. Season over.
With the win, Denver jumps up 4-8 and sends LAC into last place in the AFC West…the Broncos sweeping the 2019 series. Half their wins this year are against the Chargers. Denver looks like they will finish 5-11 or 6-10 as well.
Two decent teams who had chances to be contenders, but they lost more of their close games than they won. Onto 2020…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The main reason for the rewatch…scouting Drew Lock’s (18-28 for 134 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) debut.
It wasn’t terrible, but not great either. Lock started hot…and by hot, I mean -- lucky. A few good, unpressured throws and then what can you say about Courtland Sutton’s one-handed 26-yard TD catch to start the scoring? If Sutton doesn’t come down with that pass, Lock might have had barely over 100 yards passing and one TD without it.
When Lock had time…he throws a great fastball. He seems like he sees the field fine under no duress, like his college tape when I studied him – but when the pressure comes, when things get any bit muddy it's trouble. Lock was trying to throw sidearm under pressure and threw some of those passes into coverage, which is what he did in college. Basically, college Drew Lock showed up here in his pro debut. And that’s not terrible because he could’ve just been a joke in his debut…but he was not terrible, as a compliment.
I would target him with opposing DSTs at this point because the Broncos protection isn’t great and Lock tries to wing it into tight spaces because it works for him plenty but in the pros it won’t. Sutton can’t bail him out all the time.
*2020 Comments: If you look back at 2019...Lock played five games. He played well in about a half of a game (1st-half against HOU) and struggled/was wobbly in all the game otherwise. This could be a rough year in Denver if Lock gets fully exposed.*
-- Speaking of Courtland Sutton (4-74-2/5) a mega-talent but now we got Kenny Golladay headwinds coming to hurt his FF upside...
Not a great QB to work with.
Offense can’t run the ball effectively because of a poor O-Line.
Conservative offense when they get any type of lead or are close in the game, trying to win/not lose by the clock.
Will get double teamed all the time because the Denver pass game is Sutton and nothing else…just fling it to Sutton. Teams are not afraid of Tim Patrick and DeSean Hamilton.
When all the above that happens, you get games like this…5 targets, and 1-2 miracle grabs to make a game of it. I’m not sure we can sit Sutton on matchup or any other reason now, he’s too talented, but he’s not a given in the passing game…but, like Golladay, they seem to find a way.
I think Sutton has moved into a top 5-7 WR talent in the NFL now. A superstar lost playing in the Mountain time zone for a dull team. However, his QB play puts a lid on his upside.
*2020 Comments: Sutton with Lock for five games last season...
4.5 rec. (8.0 targets), 56.0 yards, 0.40 TDs per game...8.0 FF PPG, 12.5 PPR PPG...WR3 level work/output.*
-- Terrible FF game for Noah Fant (1-5-0/3) but he was close to some action. Had a red zone shot just missed and a deep sprint one-on-one coverage thrown offline by Lock. They tried to use Fant as the Sutton alternative, but it just didn’t happen/connect.
Not saying something special could happen here, but I’m not writing him off completely the next few weeks…but not sure how you could use him any week ahead with any confidence.
-- Phillip Lindsay (17-58-0, 3-4-0/3) looks fine/normal running the ball…he just has no real space to maneuver. This offense has gotten so stiff it’s killing Lindsay…six of his last 7 games with 70 or fewer yards rushing and just 1 TD in his last 6 games.
Since the Broncos announced to the world he would see more touches, Lindsay has played about the same percentage of snaps with a few more carries on average and continued lower output. Not sure how it changes ahead.
-- Philip Rivers (20-29 for 265 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) didn’t play a bad game, but he wasn’t anything great. I just felt, for the first time, he played differently…had a different demeanor. I think it’s the first-time criticism has rained down on him from all places in several years. People calling for Tyrod Taylor to replace him. His contract coming up. Rivers is a suddenly unhappy employee that the organization has turned on, kinda. He’s not seen as a building block anymore…now, he’s the problem. He’s likely gone…and he knows it and might be looking forward to it.
And Rivers, above all things, has been a petulant, coddled baby. Now, that he’s not pacified by analysts, the organization, and fans – it looks/feels jolting to him. He’s not used to being uncoddled and being the target of mostly criticism of his play. It all happened in about a two-week span after years of pampering.
What was the Chargers plan, knowing this was bound to happen, given Rivers’s age? Sign Tyrod Taylor as a backup, a totally different style QB – and their youth movement option drafted this year was Easton Stick. Wonderful plan...
I wrote that last line as a cutting remark, but guess what? Easton Stick is a 6’1”/220 and runs a 4.6+ with elite punt returner/WR three-cone time of 6.65. Might he be a ‘our Lamar Jackson’ option for LAC? He’s too thin framed with too weak an arm to pull it off for long…but when everyone in the NFL wants their ‘Lamar’, Stick might get a look at that style.
-- Remember when Hunter Henry (2-10-0/3) returned from his injury and had 8 catches for 100 and 2 TDs in his return game, and everyone lost their minds at the Henry re-breakthrough?
In the six games since, Henry has just 1 TD and two games with 70+ yards receiving. He’s been 30 or fewer yards in two of his last 3 games.
-- I could see the LAC-DST mattering Week 14 at Jacksonville IF Nick Foles were starting, but the switch to Minshew lowers the sack potential and that combined with the Chargers defense being ‘meh’ for the most part…it’s a lukewarm option Week 14.
-- Man, Michael Badgley (2/3 FG, 2/2 XP) almost made me look like a genius. He had a solid game, but I had him as the kicker to grab to avoid the wind/rain issue guys Week 13 – Badgley being a solid kicker and kicking AT Denver for the altitude/distance kicks.
Badgley lined up for a 55-yarder because of the altitude and nailed it distance-wise but it drifted and hit the crossbar and went away instead of in. +5-6 points right out of many of our hands. Fantasy is like real football…watching kicks soar through the sky with our hearts beating – where else can you get a rush like that, legally? All from a stupid kicker!
Snap Counts of Interest:
32 = R Freeman
25 = Lindsay
43 = M Gordon
35 = Ekeler
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