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/Sept. 2020…
2019 Dynasty-Fantasy Wild Card Playoff Game Review: Titans 20, Patriots 13
It was logical, but kinda sad…
As the Titans took control of this game, the entire mood, the TV analysis/commentary was about one thing…not how well the Titans were playing/handling the Patriots, but how everything was related to whether the Patriots could/would make an assumed comeback or pull off a last second win…and mixed in-between those discussions was about whether Tom Brady and/or Josh McDaniels would be back in 2020.
There should’ve been more talk about whether Bill Belichick would return.
The dominoes could fall like this the next few days: Tom Brady announces he is not returning for another season, and then Bill Belichick is ready to leave and turns things over to Josh McDaniels.
Tom Brady doesn’t want to play another season without Josh McDaniels…Brady doesn’t want to start over again at this stage, you’d assume.
Does Bill Belichick want to coach, to totally rebuild his team/franchise, without Brady and McDaniels? His teams have been ripped of his assistants for years and if McDaniels goes, it’s almost like Belichick has no real staff or front office left.
The Belichick assistants, like McDaniels (and Brian Flores last year), need to cash in as fast as they can because this sinking ship (as Brady goes, so goes the ship) will sink their negotiating power. If Brady is returning, and if Belichick is returning…2020 doesn’t look good regardless. McDaniels would be wise to take a mega deal to go to Cleveland-Carolina-Dallas, but what he really wants is the mega deal to take over the Patriots, to stay home – that’s why he pulled out of the Indy job prior.
I think if Brady announces his retirement…Belichick is likely to be done and turn things over to McDaniels, for the sake of not leaving Robert Kraft with an empty cupboard for the future.
I think if Brady hems and haws about retirement, then McDaniels is forced to jump to an open head coaching job and then that makes Brady lean towards hanging them up…which leaves Belichick holding the empty bag, which then leaves Robert Kraft with no future unless Belichick is planning on another 5-10 years.
Tom Brady, out of respect, will announce his decision quickly…so that everyone else has time to react to it. I’m writing this Sunday…Monday would be the time to announce it, so as not to take away from the playoff games Sunday.
My two cents, post-game, Tom Brady sounded like a guy who was done or really unsure of the situation in New England in 2020…a guy who is facing the end of the road, a little quicker than expected (I’m sure he thought they’d win this game). He’s just too classy to play anywhere else or announce his retirement right after this game…he has to political-speak/non-answer all the questions post-game so that he can control the timing and message – and I think that will be Monday (or early this week), with a press conference later in the day or next day…as my own pure speculation. Brady needs to decide one way or the other out of respect for Josh McDaniels' job/career future.
Brady’s numbers have been a disaster, by his lofty standard, for the last 8 games/half a season – a 4-4 record in his last 8 games, three losses at home, not even completing 55% of his passes. The time to leave is now. Everyone wants to blame the receivers…but ‘old Brady’ would have made them all stars.
Tom Brady’s retirement speculation/possibly witnessing his last game…he’s earned the right to usurp the Titans’ victory story. Brady is arguably the best player to ever play the game, and with amazing longevity – he should be revered in such a manner. It will be very odd to see New England with someone else under center. Brady has been the starting QB for New England for my entire college kid’s life. It will be very odd to see non-Brady under center and non-Belichick patrolling the sidelines someday soon in New England…as soon as the 2020 season potentially.
As far as the game itself? If you thought anything different was going to happen in the playoffs than what we saw most recently in the regular season – you were fooling yourself. There is no reason to try to read things into matchups or slick game planning – NFL coaches do the same thing they always do every game all the time. They bust off the one trick play they practiced all week early in the game, and then settle in to be who they are the rest of the game.
The Bills were low scoring and defense-led and tough, but had a hard time playing from a deficit…and bingo, that’s what happened in the playoffs. Houston has been sloppy most games, nothing special, but better in the 2nd-half in frenzied comeback attempts, and then usually Deshaun makes a highlight reel out-of-body experience play to save the day…bingo, that’s what happened. The Titans want to run every play behind Derrick Henry…bingo, Tennessee completed 8 passes and ran the ball 40 times in their victory. The Patriots couldn’t move the ball on offense the 2nd-half of the season…bingo, they couldn’t move the ball here. We learned nothing new and saw nothing new from either of these teams.
I’m writing this Sunday morning, so if the NFC playoff games follow suit to the AFC…Mike Zimmer will try to run the ball past the Saints and just as you think the Saints are unstoppable, Sean Payton lives under some kind of a playoff hex and will somehow blow it. The Eagles will scuffle/struggle on offense as Pete Carroll runs Marshawn Lynch heavy and the game will be closer than it needs to be, but Russell Wilson will edge it out over Wentz in the end because the Eagles are playing with one-arm tied behind their backs due to injury.
The Titans go on to face the Baltimore Ravens, which let’s assume normal happens – it will feature Derrick Henry and Lamar Jackson trying to out-run each other and the Ravens getting a lead and the Titans cannot keep up with their passing game and it’s another 3+ score win for the Ravens…the story of all Ravens’ games the last half of the 2019 season against inferior opponents.
*2020 Comments: After re-reading this, two thoughts came to mind...
1) I'll never speculate on a player or coach leaving football early or on time...I'm just going to assume all of them cannot live without. If anyone could've walked away for a great life and spent precious, un-get-back-able time with his young kids it's Tom Brady...but he couldn't get to any other team who would have him fast enough. How much money do you need, Tom? How much attention do you need? Classic me putting my sense into an NFL players...I'll never do it again. I'll assume they'll drag 50-year old Tom Brady body off the Jets or an XFL team's roster kicking and screaming.
Also see: Rob Gronkowski, for different but similar reasons.
2) It's remarkable how all the better run teams progressed through the playoffs...with only Patrick Mahomes able to thwart them all.
Of the top 10 rushing attempt teams, eight of them made the playoffs. The #1-2 rushing teams in 2019: #1 BAL, #2 SF...the #1-2 seeds in the playoffs.
Of the top 10 pass attempt teams in the league, two of them made the playoffs...and both lost in their playoff game.
BUT it's a passing league, now!!!*
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Either Tom Brady (20-37 for 209 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) is going to retire or he’ll come back for a sad final chapter of declining skills in 2020.
If he retires, it will be interesting to see if Jarrett Stidham becomes the real future plan. Stidham has talent. Stidham won the backup job with excellent preseason play. Is Belichick really ready to rebuild around Jarrett Stidham? Would he entertain switching over to the future of the league…drafting a mobile QB and adjusting to the changing marketplace? Why would Belichick want to bother playing in a sandbox (spread offenses) he wasn’t raised in or mastered over others?
If Belichick stays, and plans to for years to come, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the Browns a massive offer to acquire Baker Mayfield.
*2020 Comments: I see that coming mid-2020 or pre-2021 season*
If Brady and Belichick go, and Josh McDaniels takes over…I think he wants to roll with mobile QBs (a la his Denver years drafting Tim Tebow 1st-round). I’m not sure if Jarrett Stidham will be his future, not the guy who Josh wants to try to compete with Brady-Belichick’s ghost with. It’s unfair to Stidham, he’s talented but in a no-win position unless Belichick wants to rebuild with him and sees a Jimmy Garoppolo/Tom Brady-ish clone with Stidham…and there’s a case for that…but we might be talking 2-3 years away from him hitting his stride.
-- If Tom Brady hangs them up, then it’s going to send fantasy shock waves through the WR group…
Julian Edelman (3-30-0/5, 2-12-1/7) would be wise to head out if Brady retires, but Edelman’s contract begs him to return for 2020 and get one more nice payday season. So, he’ll be back…but if no Brady…Edelman’s career carriage turns into a pumpkin. He owes it all to Brady. Imagine Julian Edelman the Jacksonville Jaguar for the last 5-10 seasons.
Mohamed Sanu (1-11-0/5) never mattered for the Patriots since his costly acquisition…his career is in some peril.
Phillip Dorsett (1-6-0/4) was looking great early in the season and then as Brady died, so did Dorsett. Seeing the nothing from Sanu-Harry-etc., it’s possible that Dorsett has some NFL life left but the Patriots offense turned so bad it took Dorsett with it. Dorsett is a free agent, and he’ll likely go to some ex-Patriots team like Houston, Tennessee and be a bit player.
N’Keal Harry (2-21-0/7) has been a major disappointment, but again he rose to a role when the Patriots offense died. Was it Harry or the situation? He ends the season (reg. season + playoff) with 14 catches on 31 targets over 8 games – that’s horrific. That’s either Harry is a bust or Brady is dying very fast and no one wants to fully admit it. I think a lot of it is on Brady and some on Harry being more of a tight window receiver and not getting open like a #1 guy in 2019…and maybe he never is going to – that he’s a better #2 and not a franchise #1 WR.
2020 College Football Metrics Season Has Begun
Time to start the studies, scouting, grading, ranking of the 2020 NFL Draft/Dynasty Rookie Draft class. CFM, as always, will have scouting reports on all the top prospects and small-school sleepers and everything in-between as we grade/rank over 600+ prospects by draft day. We’ll cover the East-West Shrine, Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and NFL Draft along the way and build to our weekly Top 200+ Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings (including IDPs).
We’ll also look back at the 2019 NFL Draft and 2019 Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings and re-do the 2019 Rookie Draft to see where we’re at and what items undervalued (now) to target in 2020. So much scouting to do – the Dynasty/Fantasy studies never end and are constantly fluid. It all starts again in early-mid January 2020.
Sign-ups for CFM and/or our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) subscriptions are found from the FFM home page ‘Subscribe now’ tab.
-- Tennessee has to commit to Ryan Tannehill (8-15 for 72 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) for 2020 now for sure. Even him as just a ‘good luck charm’. I mean, 15 passes? 8 completions? They still won. This just feels like a situation where it is special one season and then the franchise makes a commitment in the moment…and then it’s regrets from there as reality returns.
It’s a charmed season.
…with an expiration date.
But how do you pull the proactively pull the plug on it/Tannehill?
-- Because this team is so run-centric, and because A.J. Brown (1-4-0/1) is better in a more air raid offense/passing game…so you’re going to get games like this in a stuffy passing game when facing better pass defenses. The Saints shutoff AJB as well a few weeks ago.
How do you possess weapons like Brown and Jonnu Smith (1-9-0/2) and in a tight game in the rain…why not run them on the jet sweeps they have been killing opponents on the last few weeks? What about bubble screens? Nope…Tennessee’s coaches are too smart for that.
I’ve called for them to make more use out of Jonnu Smith for like 25+ games in a row and they NEVER try to push him, even after he has amazing moments in games…but Derrick Henry will get a thousand carries with a gimpy hamstring any given week.
Next season…it will be all Henry and erratic Brown outputs/performances with ghost-like output from Jonnu on a lack of touches again. They will not change.
-- Remember how hot the Patriots-DST was to start the 2019 season? We made that call in spring/summer 2019, and spring drafting Best Ballers killed it to start the 2019 fantasy season with that projection. In August, I got a brilliant revelation to put the Patriots #2 behind Denver-DST and where we went DEN over NE…it killed opportunity right off the jump for 2019.
It was a great call on the NE-DST by our computer models back in the spring/summer, because of schedule analysis – but then when we moved them to slightly #2 behind DEN-DST, it was a fatal error. Denver’s defense was awesome in the preseason and had a ton of talent…but died for FF right away (they could touch the QB Weeks 1-4). Denver started to spark a few games into the season, but the damage was done…all the DEN-DST FF-plays were hitting the waiver wires and we were left streaming DSTs all season, which is fine, and what I normally do…but the NE-DST was like Christian McCaffrey in PPR scoring spread from the pack for the first 8 weeks or so.
Will the NE-DST rise again in 2020? We can’t even make that call yet until we see what happens to Brady-McDaniels-Belichick in the next week or so.
Once all the NFL coaching staffs settle, we’ll be looking at the potential ‘great’ schedule DST options – the analysis will be in the Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) area in February after the coaching staffs lock in and post-Super Bowl…and then we’ll be updating weekly with the free agency, the draft, and the actual schedule order reveals.
If Belichick is gone, I’m not sure I can name one thing on the Patriots I’d want for fantasy 2020…
Saints-Vikings analysis tomorrow, see you then!
-- The 2020 Annual Fantasy Football Metrics Draft Guide package is now available – the 2020 player scoring projections, rankings, special reports, commentary on 500+ players, IDP rankings, etc…all updated daily/weekly throughout the offseason right up to kickoff.
Our 2020 In-Season coverage (Weekly rankings, all game reports, video shows, special reports, etc.) is available for pre-purchase, so you’re ready/signed up for when the season begins. Purchase In-Season and Draft Guide as a COMBO to save a few bucks and get all set up in one session.
-- College Football Metrics statistically scouts/grades 600+ NFL Draft prospects, and deeper studies 100+ prospects pre- and post-draft with detailed scouting reports and rank the top 300+ Dynasty Rookie Draft prospects (including IDP) every week throughout the offseason. See our home page for details on our various subscriptions.
-- Our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball subscriptions are still available – Dynasty rankings for various scoring positions in downloadable/editable spreadsheet format for your use. Offseason strategy reports posting weekly…trade for/away, sleepers, deep sleepers, draft strategies, mock drafts, etc.
*The FFM App is free on Apple and Android, and is the best way to get instant alerts to new content or breaking inside info hitting. Be sure to have ‘notifications’ enabled for the FFM app!!
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