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 – Bucs 28, Jaguars 11
This was a ‘who cares?’ (but fantasy players) game in the NFL. Two teams going nowhere fast. However, embedded within this game was a potential symbolic, poetic moment in NFL history.
The Buccaneers raced out to a 25-0 halftime lead. It’s not so much that the Bucs were clicking on all cylinders, but they were fine…it was that the Jaguars couldn’t protect on offense and thus couldn’t run the ball or throw it without immense pressure – thus, the turnovers mounted, and the game was out of hand quickly.
Then, the Jags changed QBs at halftime…going back to Gardner Minshew to start the 2nd-half. It was the official beginning of the Minshew era as the franchise QB for Jacksonville going forward.
It was the end official end, a symbolic end to an era of football.
It’s been ‘dying’ for several weeks, perhaps even several years, but it was put on a ventilator this season and the plug may have been pulled here in Week 13 of 2019 season.
The ‘it’ is…the traditional drop back passer and its corresponding offense in the NFL. You cannot drop 5-7 steps, plant, read progressions in a complicated playbook, and try to make the smart throw to a 2nd or 3rd progression as well in the NFL anymore. No QB/offense has that kinda time anymore. The offensive lines in the NFL cannot hold off the defensive pressure, the defensive athleticism anymore (by and large). The new QBs coming into the league are raised in up-tempo, quick reads, and/or make plays with your feet, extend time in the pocket with movement ability. Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Dan Marino would struggle in this era – the talents that they were, if never groomed through current high school and college ways. You take Joe Montana from 20-30 years ago and just drop him into the NFL today…he’d be forgettable Sam Darnold potentially.
Examples of the changing of the NFL guard from Week 13…
Minshew inserted, and almost leads a long shot come back…Nick Foles benched. Not because Foles has ‘lost it’, but because he can’t move around in the pocket to avoid pressure like Minshew. Foles drops 5-7 steps and looks over things…and by step four he was about to get killed most every pass. Minshew drops shorter, deals things quicker, and has a sixth sense to move around from pressure.
The Saints win…behind some Taysom Hill exploits.
Lamar Jackson defeats Jimmy Garoppolo.
Philip Rivers has gone from ‘Is he a Hall of Famer?’ to ‘Will he start next week?’
Deshaun Watson dominates a frustrated Tom Brady…and, because the football world hasn’t fully embraced the changing of the guard, so we’re going to make excuses for Brady…as he blame his WRs. This era isn’t built for Brady…and the Patriots have O-Line issues as part of the cause of the downfall, which means Brady can’t Brady his way out of it no more than Nick Foles could this game – Foles and Brady had the same issues in Week 13.
Russell Wilson def. Kirk Cousins.
The only place this didn’t work at all – Kyler Murray crushed by Jared Goff, but let’s assume that’s an aberration that Kliff Kingsbury is terrible, and his defense is beyond dreadful as we go.
Some of the QBs who are dead/dying for the not-to-distant future (or now) and don’t know it/won’t acknowledge it, because of the NFL shift needed to adjust to bad offensive line play with mobile/quick pass game passers…Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, Nick Foles, Jacoby Brissett, Mason Rudolph, Big Ben, Kyle Allen, Dwayne Haskins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, and Tom Brady (off the top of my head). Aaron Rodgers is about to be here too.
The QB future world belongs to Lamar, Deshaun, Mahomes, Baker, Kyler, Dak, Minshew, Russell. It could belong to Derek Carr and Mitch Trubisky, but they don’t run the ball enough despite being as fast as Deshaun or Russell…so, they will fall out and become more has-beens because they won’t transition.
Cam Newton could be revitalized if he wants to run, ditto for Carson Wentz…but multiple/critical injuries to their run style/game and excessive financial deals has probably done both of them in...from being part of the ‘new era’.
Now, in of themselves, there are various degrees of talent among that ‘dead’ group. If you put a great O-Line in front of them…you can play/win like it’s the 2000-2017 style. Only, great O-Lines are so rare…and then when you get one, one injuries ruins everything – think of how bad Dallas is when Tyron Smith goes out, for example.
You don’t need a fancy game plan offensive coordinator when you have Lamar or Deshaun…or even Mahomes or Baker – just let the QBs go do what they do, don’t overcoach them.
Gardner Minshew replaced Nick Foles in Week 13 at halftime, and the world yawned. Actually, it was a symbolic signal of the sea change in the NFL…a move half+ the league has to prepare to make in 2020+ or their franchises will become dinosaurs.
I’ll spend all offseason studying it…analyzing the new breed QBs…and studying the coaches and coordinators that gets paired with them. Most/all other fantasy football analysts will be engaged in playing fantasy baseball in the offseason. This is a year ‘round job. There is no offseason for me, so that I can summarize it for you, and you can consider the info. Knowing more player capabilities and league shifts is the difference between a 7-win fantasy team that snuck into the playoffs in an injury-ravaged season and a 6-win team that just missed due to excessive injuries – that’s the mindset I go to work with everyday all year. I need to help all of us steal another win or two just from smart in-season waiver maneuvering or DST matchups to target on opposing QBs, not even considering the team built from the preseason. Fantasy Football is a giant, ever-changing puzzle…you will never master it. You will never rule it year after year after year, because it’s always changing – that’s the beauty of this puzzle. It’s always challenging us. Some people hate it for that reason and want to quit (because they cannot subdue it every week and pout), but I love it for that reason…and I pout a lot about it. It’s better than any video game, TV drama, crossword puzzle, etc. And you can win money at it too (or lose it).
OK…so Minshew entered the game down 25-0, and the fans got excited – and Minshew got it to down 25-11 with about 7 minutes left in the game having driven his team down to the Tampa Bay 2-yard line. He throws a pass to Dede Westbrook in the end zone for a TD that would have cut the lead to one score and would’ve got the 30% filled stadium pumped…but the ball clanks off Westbrook’s hands and right to a DB. Interception…ball game.
Tampa Bay is really playing much better ball. Had they had a new era QB, that didn’t lead the league in turnovers, they might have been a wild card hope. They are 5-7 with a shot to get to 7-7 with IND and @DET ahead, but I cannot imagine this TB team can get a win streak going because Winston will take them out of it at just the right/wrong time. They might finish 7-9, maybe even 8-8. Kudos to Bruce Arians if that happens.
Jacksonville loses their 4th in a row. The team has given up on Marrone weeks ago. They might win 1-2 more games, possibly 3…but they’ll finish under .500 for sure. They might not win a game the rest of the season either. You never know with this team, but Minshew in changes things.
*2020 Comments: I forgot I wrote this new era QB take because of this game. I was talking about the new era QBs for two years, but this one game was a re-reminder of the future to come and to watch out relying upon 'historical analytics' because the backdrop is changing so fast in the NFL, the old data is rendered useless/neutered in many cases.*
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- OK, so the Gardner Minshew (16-27 for 147 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) era is upon us…what does that mean for fantasy?
Chris Conley (4-57-0/5) is irrelevant again (he started to perk up a bit with Foles).
Dede Westbrook (5-60-1/8) will be up and down for PPR…he’s not Minshew’s favorite or default check down, but Minshew was growing in use of him as they went, before Minshew was benched. Minshew looks to Westbrook before Conley after his main options are taken away.
Leonard Fournette (14-38-0, 9-53-0/11) continues to be the Checkdown Charlie option. Fournette is only 10 catches behind Christian McCaffrey this season for most by an RB this season. Fournette is one catch ahead of Alvin Kamara this season to date. Foles really checked down to Fournette, but Minshew wasn’t shy on it either.
D.J. Chark (2-47-0/5) remains the #1 option, but now Chark can produce again because instead of Foles getting sacked/hit every other throw…Minshew will evade, buy time, and make DJC a #1 WR again. Chark belongs in that Sutton-Golladay-A.Robinson mindset – great receivers, their team’s #1 WRs, the guy defenses tend to double now…but who just find a way more times than not.
-- Jameis Winston (21-33 for 268 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) made my dinosaur/dying list that I had in the intro. Not a difference maker. Not very mobile. Heavy turnovers. Easily sackable when the O-Line is perfect.
Yet, there is no way Bruce Arians will change to the new era at all. He’ll die with Winston…he is his Big Ben/Luck or so he thinks. He’s going to show you that he can fix QBs…if it kills him.
With that…what you get this year is what you’ll get next year. Great Godwin-Evans. Winston a top 10 FF QB because of junk time stats. You can set your clock by whatever happened in 2019 is what to project in 2020. *2020 Comments: Or you get Tom Brady as a Tampa Bay Buc...I didn't see that coming!*
Including a disappointing O.J. Howard (5-61-0-/6), if he’s still in Tampa…despite this game, which is the first time I’ve seen OJH used like a real weapon. His best game of the year by far. Let’s see if it keeps up next week, and maybe something is developing?
-- Everything was weird for TB this game…
Winston threw no TDs or picks.
Godwin-Evans took a backseat to OJH-Perriman?
And Peyton Barber (17-44-2) is the starter again, I guess? That’s what I get for saying Ronald Jones (6-8-0) was looking better than ever a few weeks ago, after hating him for two years.
Oh, and how about that ‘We’re going to get Jones the ball more in the passing game’ commentary from O-C/liar Byron Leftwich? No targets in this game.
This game was upside down world Tampa Bay. Let’s see if something is changing or if this was just a game flow/blip next week.
-- I mentioned that Tampa Bay’s defense looked pretty good last week against Atlanta…when they beat my big-bet Falcons like a drum. Atlanta’s offense wasn’t bad…it was that TB’s secondary played like a real defense.
They did it again here, with help from the pass rush crushing the Jags’ QBs.
Two weeks in a row the Bucs defense looks good. The injured pass rushers are all back. The revolving door secondary may have found its starters. This group might be OK against Indy this week AND then might be really an option vs. Detroit Week 15.
11 sacks in the past two weeks for the Bucs defense and two dominant performances for three quarters and then some activity given up late in blowouts after that. The Bucs have won three of their last 4 games. Honestly, they should have won 5-6 of their last 7-8 games.
*2020 Comments: I think the Bucs-DST is going to surprise many people and be a reason why they can challenge the Saints for the NFC South title.*
Snap Counts of Interest:
47 = O’Leary
10 = Koyack
63 = OJH
28 = Brate
30 = Barber
23 = Ogunbowale
21 = Ron Jones
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