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 8 – Colts 15, Broncos 13
Another game, another ‘Denver finds a way to lose a game they had won’ moment…also, ‘The Colts just find ways’.
In another world, Denver is 5-3/4-4 and right in the AFC West hunt. Instead, three 2-point losses halfway into the season and they are 2-6 and building for 2020. You think the loss of Joe Flacco is a big deal, but Denver is probably better with Brandon Allen like the Panthers are better with Kyle Allen over Cam or the Jags with Minshew over Foles or the Colts with Brissett over Luck. We’ll get into Brandon Allen in a moment.
Denver is 2-6, and not an easy schedule ahead…they are looking at approx. 4 wins. Less if Drew Lock gets into any games.
The Colts are 5-2 and play a huge game for them, Week 9 at Pitt. Beat the Steelers and the Colts are winning the AFC South. A loss opens the door for the Jags or Texans. They might just lose…they’re due for a loss. If they lose, we see the Colts with 9-10 wins and the division title. A loss this week puts them more in the 8-9 wins and fighting Houston and Jacksonville to the death.
*2020 Comments: The Colts did lose to Pittsburgh the following week and Brissett got hurt, and thus Brian Hoyer made two appearances that were so bad they effectively ended the Colts' dreams in 2019. Denver got it together later in the year...what might have been with a healthy season on offense and defense for Denver. Both the Colts and broncos finished (7-9).
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- What happens to the Denver offense, for fantasy, with Brandon Allen starting?
First off, we’re likely to see Allen the rest of the season (or until like Weeks 15-16-17) and not Drew Lock because Lock is Dwayne Haskins-like, only the NFL/Denver wasn’t as fully conned by the scouts/media on Lock as they were with Haskins…Lock is not a 1st-round pick pressure to play.
Can I remind you…? THEIR #1 ranked QB prospect, at first, was Dwayne Haskins. THEY flirted with a Drew Lock notion as top guy for a bit and then even THEY figured out he sucked and ran from him. Lock eventually falling to the 42nd pick in the draft, a 2nd-rounder. Again, these are the people still judging all college and pro QBs this week/this year/next year.
Vic Fangio knows Lock sucks as much as the Redskins know Haskins does, only Fangio isn’t being diplomatic about it. He’s taken shots at Lock since training camp and announced this week that rookie nothing QB Brett Rypien would serve as the backup to Allen. Lock stays on I.R. and away from live action for now.
Besides the fact that Lock is terrible, there is another factor why Allen is the starter with Joe Flacco essentially done for the season – Brandon Allen is a pretty good quarterback.
I posted my 2016 scouting report on Allen on the FFM homepage if you want to read the long version, but as I re-read it and as I went back and watched Brandon Allen’s work this preseason (with the Rams), I get the vibe that Allen is a poor man’s Gardner Minshew…a mix of Minshew and Kyle Allen – a.k.a. overlooked QB prospects who stepped right into the NFL and weren’t overwhelmed at all.
Brandon Allen was a 6th-round draft pick in 2016 (6th-round, like Minshew). Not a classic ‘big arm’ or ‘tall’…he just knows how to play QB – the kind of guy, like Minshew, like Kyle Allen, that the NFL overlooks as always. He stuck with Jacksonville for a year, his rookie campaign, but just couldn’t get past the great Blake Bortles and was cut to begin the 2017 season. The Rams grabbed Allen and then stashed him on I.R. – Sean McVay had an interest in Allen, and that’s a good sign. He made the Rams’ roster in 2018 but was released for roster space a few weeks into the season. He was added to the Rams practice squad and sat there for 2018 season. He stuck with the Rams in 2019 until 53-man roster cut down, where he was cut so that the Rams could have the great Blake Bortles as their backup. Denver added Allen to be their backup after the Rams let him go, and he’s been the backup all season…until now.
I think Allen is ready for this, like every backup with talent in the modern era seems to be and will probably shock everyone right away by not faceplanting (like Minshew, Allen, Rudolph/Hodges, Brissett, Kyler, etc.). Allen is a professional quarterback – he can read defenses, he is smart in the pocket, he has enough arm to make any throw necessary. He’s probably more Kyle Allen (not high-volume, restricted by conservative head coach) than Gardner Minshew (force of nature) semi-electric.
I went back and watched Brandon Allen’s (then with the Rams) preseason Week 3 start vs. Denver…the game that he got the Denver coaches attention. It was a preseason start with all backups (the Rams don’t care about the preseason) against Denver’s backup defense, which the Broncos 1st and 2nd-team defenses were terrorizing opponents in the preseason.
Allen started off the game, first throw, with a 51-yard bomb on the money down the sidelines. He played about a half and went 12-19 for 162 yards and 0 TD/0 INTs with a 7-yard run. Allen showed he had the arm (he made several sideline throws), command of the offense, and an ability to read the situation…while playing with backup O-Linemen and backup WRs.
I don’t think we’ll notice much of a difference between the Denver offense with Allen vs. Flacco, because they weren’t doing anything under Flacco. It’s not hard to match less than 200-yards passing and no TDs per game. Allen is not likely to come in and throw for 250+ and 2+ TDs in games because this offense isn’t set up for that. However, if opposing defenses overplay the run and dare him to throw…and Denver doesn’t hold him back, you might get some Minshew/Kyle Allen moments of production.
Facing Cleveland in his debut with a terrible O-Line is not an easy task to take on, but it’s also going to be confusing for the Browns who would’ve killed Flacco, the known commodity. They could plan for Flacco…they don’t know anything about Allen.
Allen’s debut will probably be about whatever you’d expect from Flacco vs. this Browns defense…maybe a little more energy because it’s a scrappy backup.
*2020 Comments: Allen debuted Week 9 and beat CLE with 60% Comp. Pct., 193 yards passing, 2 TDs/0 INT...a professional debut, as predicted. The following week he got up big on Minnesota, at MIN the next week...and then the team blew it in the 2nd-half. His third, and final, start the next week was crushed by Buffalo, like all QBs...but this was held against Allen and the Drew Lock era was ushered in.*
-- If Allen is the same as Flacco, then I expect Courtland Sutton (3-72-0/6) to perform as normal. Allen is no dummy. When he had his Week 3 preseason start, Mike Thomas was his best WR – he opened up with a bomb to him and he was working Thomas as best he could his entire time in the game. Sutton should be the same way.
Allen would also have experience and timing with DeSean Hamilton (0-0-0/0) and Diontae Spencer (2-18-0/2) from their days on the 2nd-team.
Sutton is great. Allen is fine. The Browns have a very good secondary. Sutton as a WR2-3 projection this week is more on the Browns defense.
*2020 Comments: Sutton went 5-56-1 with Allen in his debut v. CLE.*
-- I’d assume the same plan for the Broncos’ RBs…a split and same workload/output expectations as normal…but, initially, the Browns will overplay the run to test Allen. It might be a sluggish Week 9 for the Denver RB-duo.
-- Jacoby Brissett (15-25 for 202 yards, 0 TD/0 INT, 6-34-0) has had a really nice season…but struggled a bit here and had weak FF numbers this game. It’s because of the Broncos pass defense…they are 4th-best ranked by yards per game allowed and 5th best in opposing QB rate.
In most passing categories, the Patriots, 49ers, Bills, and Panthers rule…then a step behind them is Denver. When you see weak numbers projected for Baker Week 9…that’s why.
Same for the opposing #1 WR… T.Y. Hilton (2-54-0/6) this game versus the great Chris Harris.
-- I want to love the Colts-DST more but their secondary scares me. Rookie CB Rock Ya-Sin (5 tackles) is not my cup of tea at CB, but the Colts keep trying to push him (had to here due to starter injuries). Joe Flacco couldn’t take advantage.
The Colts have held two of their last 3 opponents to 13 points in game…including Patrick Mahomes on that SNF game. It’s not that the Colts have a dominating unit, they just have solid time of possession in games because they have a great O-Line and smart QB…and they just limit opportunities to the opponent.
Rudolph-Fitzpatick the next two weeks aren’t bad matchups.
*2020 Comments: The Colts were the #11 PPG fantasy DST from Weeks 9-16.*
Snap Counts of Interest:
60 = Hilton
59 = Pascal
40 = Rogers
08 = Parris Campbell
39 = Mack
18 = Hines
06 = Wilkins
37 = Royce
36 = Lindsay
68 = Sutton
46 = Fred Brown
45 = DeSean Hamilton
07 = Diontae Spencer
04 = Juwann Winfree
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