2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 18: Bucs 41, Panthers 17
It was a sluggish start for the heavily favored Buccaneers…down 7-0 early. Down 7-3 most of the 1st-half until they scored a TD with 0:15 left before halftime to take a 10-7 lead…a lead they would not relinquish as the Bucs piled on 31 points in the 2nd-half, blowing away the hapless Panthers.
Carolina enters the offseason under fire. The fans have turned on Matt Rhule (pretty much every coach past year one who didn’t go to the playoffs is ‘under fire’ or ‘on the hot seat’…i.e. ‘hated by the fans’…or they were fired already). Rhule is coming back for year three because of sunk costs and ‘what else is there?’ is my new rule on coaching changes. Two years ago, there was a bidding war for Matt Rhule, now Carolina fans are chanting for him to be fired at local sporting events. Who is more in the wrong…management or the fans? Don’t the fans clamoring for this two years ago need to shut up about it now?
The only person who wants Matt Rhule to be fired more than ‘fans’ is Matt Rhule himself. Who wants to put up with this? Rhule is taking the money, waiting to be fired so he can collect on the remainder of his huge, guaranteed contract, so he can then sign a huge deal to return to the college program of his choosing, where he will be welcomed with open/fawning arms…and thus escaping the never-satisfied NFL. The fans are creating this head coaching churn NFL-wide, they always have. The media is right there with them. The joke is on the system – guys are taking these head coaching deals to get a payday that sets the up nicely for the rest of their lives, then when they get fired in a few years and collect up their money due upon firing -- they can then run away with that money and return to their real passion…be it college coach or NFL assistant.
You know how only nutjobs want to be politicians? Who wants that kind of grief and exposure? People with some kind of mental desire or emotional need to satisfy (power/control) or spotlight they demand (or all of the above)…it’s kinda the same thing with NFL head coaches. You’re telling me Trump or Biden is our best and brightest, most capable people to run a country in the last decade? I’m watching Matt Rhule work in the pros, and listening to his press conferences, and I listened to/watched him coaching at the Senior Bowl last year – and the more I’m exposed to him, the less impressed I am. But it seemed like from his college track record this was a real hopeful? Two years ago, he was considered by everyone as one of the ‘best and brightest’ in the industry. Now look at him. Fans are never happy with their coach, for long…just like Fantasy owners look at their team and hate it when it isn’t winning in a particular week…or just think it ‘looks bad’ in the Dynasty offseason, and EVERYONE ELSE has SUCH a better roster. We love self-loathing in Fantasy.
I’ve turned full heel on these new coaching candidates or current ones ‘who need to go’ – I’m just going to assume they’re all terrible options, whether retaining what you got or trying to find a replacement…and make them prove to me otherwise. Even early Belichick…they tried, and did, run him out of Cleveland. I’m sure there was a contingent furious when he was first hired in New England. If Belichick quit the Patriots and took a job as head man of Jacksonville tomorrow…Jags fans would complain that they got Belichick past his prime. No one is satisfied in the NFL. Even when a team achieves something in a given season, there’s 4-8 months of ‘what they must do to stave off a collapse’ offseason articles and fan posts in chats online.
Where was I? Oh, Matt Rhule is staying…for one more year because he chose Sam Darnold, and when he gets fired the fans will be thrilled with the scalp they took…but Rhule will be even happier to depart the fans/NFL with a suitcase full of cash – the joke is on the fans, not Rhule. God bless Rhule’s 2023 replacement…he’ll go through the same pattern, likely, with the fans/media – all wonderment and hope going into year one and then shaky hope/skepticism year two and then calling for his head in year three.
The Panthers have had three winning seasons in the past 12 seasons. The David Tepper era has produced three five-win seasons in a row, a (15-34) record in his first three seasons (30.6%). Remember what a smart high-level investment guy Tepper was and how that was going to allow him to tear up the NFL? Not so far.
Tampa Bay has been even more pathetic than the Panthers the past decade+, but then they acquired Tom Brady last year and thus Bruce Arians is suddenly a genius. See how that works? The #1 trait I want to see in a head coach candidate – what QB does he have/is he getting? That’s all that matters. You pay a lot to choose Sam Darnold and Carson Wentz…you suffer the consequences.
The Bucs are the #2 seed in the NFC, and the only thing that stands in their way of a repeat title is ‘How cold will it be in Green Bay in two weeks’?
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- My main thrust for re-watching this game was to scout Ke’Shawn Vaughn (10-29-1, 2-12-0/2). Due to all the RB injuries for TB, he was in line for more work/snaps than he has had in 2021, or possibly in his two-year career.
So, how did he look?
He has the speed/agility of a solid NFL RB. He doesn’t appear to have the greatest instincts with the ball and is too easily tackled to my eye, but if forced some heavy work he’ll do OK. Bruce Arians has been so tentative with him it makes me worry he’s got an uphill battle to ever really FF-mattering, on purpose. Fournette and RoJo could all leave via free agency in 2022, leaving Vaughn in a great spot…but I’m pretty sure if that happened, they’d sign a veteran/star RB at a discount, who would love to work with Tom Brady…and/or draft a new future RB. Vaughn just does not seem to be it for Arians so far, but the door is not closed on it either.
-- This was a big opportunity for Cyril Grayson (0-0-0/0) to have a follow up to his past two weeks of ‘breakout’…with AB fully gone, the door was wide open for Grayson to seize the moment, seize the role from all comers on the roster (Perriman, Miller, etc.).
Grayson started and grabbed his hamstring 6 snaps in, and ‘poof’ he blew his big opportunity. He’s allowing the other guys to jump into his spot, and thus making it tougher for Grayson to jump back in when he’s ready. A huge blow to Grayson’s career. It may have been his one and only chance…and he let it slip away via injury.
Breshad Perriman (5-44-0/6) got more work with Grayson out and will likely steal the spot from Grayson going forward.
Jaelon Darden (0-0-0/1) continues to show nothing to try and jump into the mix. He still has hope/talent for the future, but sad that he isn’t seizing a golden opportunity right now.
-- Here’s why Carolina will fail in 2022, and the way they fail will damage the team for another year or two…
Carolina is likely to run with Sam Darnold (29-452 for 219 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) at QB again, because he’s the only one who talks to Matt Rhule with respect and pretends he is listening to Rhule’s rah-rah nonsense. Rhule spent millions on Darnold to have a ‘friend’ in the building. Darnold will be a ruination of the Panthers just like he was for the Jets.
Carolina will likely pursue Deshaun Watson, but if they don’t get him…they’ll stick with Darnold. Rhule will see Darnold as his only hope to get through in 2022…and it’s a bad strategy, one that should/will hang Rhule in 2023. He did it to himself. Darnold was his idea. Rhule is destroying his career through bad personnel moves…whether it’s him or the GM as the main thrust of them.
So, Darnold will be back and they’ll give big money to D.J. Moore (7-87-0/10) to keep continuity and they’ll retain Robby Anderson (7-50-1/9) for the same reason and neither will be all that great for FF because they’ll have the Darnold effect on them.
Why would Deshaun Watson (who has full control over his trade destination) choose to go to Carolina with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson at WR. Tommy Tremble at TE. A terrible O-Line. And a coach no one likes/respects who is likely on his way out after next year?
Rhule will keep all his pieces from 2021 in place, by and large, and hope to hire a magical O-C that will ‘fix it all’. Head coaches, offensive coordinators…they’re only as good as the QB they possess, and therefore everyone in Carolina is doomed.
-- But what about Christian McCaffrey? McCaffrey has played 10 games total the past two years and the only people really excited about CMC are Carolina homer fans and PPR Fantasy Football players. Free agent QBs aren’t clamoring to pair up with a great checkdown option/working for an RB-based offense.
Will Carolina trade McCaffrey? No way. Rhule can’t afford the fanbase blowback, and McCaffrey is established and Rhule needs established/ready-to-go save him players in 2022. If anything, McCaffrey is the perfect Rhule scapegoat if CMC gets hurt again.
They should trade McCaffrey, but they would pay a ton to dump…for what? What are they getting from another team in exchange for CMC/a running back who barely stays healthy and costs a ton of money? They’re stuck with CMC for one more year. They can clear him out in 2023…with Rhule.
In 2022, for the first time since 2019, McCaffrey will not be the obvious/consensus #1 overall pick in PPR leagues.
-- Once again, for another week, a Tampa Bay pass rush IDP thing happened that is telling (to me)…
With all the Tampa pass rushers out injured, two guys have had the opportunity to step up and get noticed. Here are these two guys and their Week’s 17-18 tallies as full fill-in starters…
8 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 TFLs, 1 PD = Anthony Nelson, 4th-round pick 2019
7 tackles, 0.0 sacks, 0 TFLs, 2 PDs = Joe Tryon, 1st-round pick 2021
Don’t tell me, “Well, Tryon is a rookie!” Have you seen Jaelen Phillips for Miami? It’s not that Tryon is dead, but this was a great spot against two horrible teams/O-Lines and Tryon couldn’t even register a QB hit. He’s not doomed because of it, but it doesn’t give you warm and fuzzy feeling either.
Snap Counts of Interest:
52 = Tyler J
43 = MK Evans
37 = Perriman
14 = S Miller
08 = J Darden
27 = Vaughn
23 = L Bell
09 = Barner
42 = Tremble
37 = I Thomas
11 = Stv Sullivan
**College Football Metrics 2022…new season early-signups start January 6th, 2022, NoonET**
The new season of CFM will be starting up in January, as always. A little different schedule this year as the NFL extended their season by a week and the Senior Bowl was bumped back a week as well. We should have a Senior Bowl, NFL Combine…it looks like it will be a normal scouting year!
The NFL Draft, Dynasty Rookie Draft, and regular season ahead rookie analysis all gets started through CFM in January with our usual season starter -- the past two years/2020-2021 Mock Rookie Draft re-do, along with in-depth Senior Bowl analysis, and full QB scouting reports and much more as we build towards the NFL Combine and all the other positional scouting reports. Football study never ends…
Thank you for your support of CFM for the past decade now…wow, time flies.
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