Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: 2020 Season AFC Divisional Playoff – Bills 17, Ravens 3
*Just like our in-regular-season coverage, we’ll be analyzing all of the playoff games for Dynasty/Fantasy purposes…with an eye on 2021 valuation changes, etc. During this time, I’m watching the tape and writing up an analysis on NFL Draft prospect scouting studies and prepping/studying for the Senior Bowl (still on for now) – so, I’m typing out my thoughts/notes quickly and not hardcore editing. Forgive any typos/grammar, etc.
I thought the media vibe of this game was going the wrong way all week (and was predictable) – THEY so want Lamar Jackson to have ‘arrived’ and so want Josh Allen to be a ‘fraud’, that most people were picking the Baltimore upset here. I bet/handicapped it the same way I have for half a season – take the Bills, lay whatever points, because the media (and thus the public) will not allow their minds to accept the Buffalo Bills are the best team in football. Not a perfect team, nor unbeatable…just the best executing, coached, built team in the league…with the best QB in football (that really riles ‘em up when I say that).
Because that has been true, and still is true, the media narrative from this game will be easy (to cover their tracks on): Well, if it wasn’t for the wind gusts and then if Lamar hadn’t gotten hurt…
If that makes them feel better, fine by me.
Baltimore goes into the 2021 season on a decline/fade away that could accelerate if Don ’Wink’ Martindale is plucked away as a head coach. The Ravens should be soul searching/blowing things up and retooling because of their age and construct. We might see that happen if they pay Lamar a mint this offseason – the Ravens are about to be ‘stuck’ with Lamar for the next decade. He’ll be fine, may even get to a Super Bowl if the rest of the team is right around him…but he’s also showing signs of becoming a liability, and I don’t know that a $450-500M+ contract is going to help any of that.
Buffalo has now won eight in-a-row…could’ve been 12 in-a-row had the ‘Hail Murray’ event not happened. And still they are undervalued/underappreciated in the NFL circles. The Bills will now face Kansas City as they were destined to all along. I’ll take the Bills plus the points, again.
*Probably the two best head coaching candidates from the assistant coach ranks worked against each other in this game: D-C Don Martindale vs. O-C Brian Daboll. Both should be head coaches within a few weeks, but it’s more likely just one or zero of them get gigs.
Once the season is over, we’ll begin on all our coaching studies/in depth reports. There are head coaches landing in spots now, but part of my study/overview is looking at who they hire for their staff, etc., and they cannot get to coaches still active in the playoffs right now to help fill their staff. February, we’ll look at them all from a handicapping and fantasy perspective.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The way Josh Allen (23-37 for 206 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) was used in this game is a ‘tell’ of reality, but conversely the way Al Michaels commented on Josh Allen is a ‘tell’ of the alternative reality football people emotionally tell themselves/echo what they hear about things they do not understand or (obviously) study.
First, the reality…
The Bills didn’t run the ball on purpose/with a running back until after half-time. Why? A fresh wrinkle/curveball? Not necessarily, they did the same to the Seahawks when they beat/trounced them.
I’ve been saying for most of the 2020 season, when you see/think of Josh Allen you should be thinking of what you ‘feel’ about Patrick Mahomes. Only, Allen is better in the Year of Our Lord 2020 (and 2021)…and, note, that’s coming from a guy who the leader of the band about how stupid the Josh Allen draft pick was and laughed right along as he flopped around his rookie season and in part of his second season.
When you possess Allen (i.e. Mahomes+), you don’t trifle with establishing the run game…you don’t fear the opponent’s defense, even if it is one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. That’s guts. That’s reality – the Bills know Allen is the single best QB/weapon at QB in the NFL, so no fooling around with ‘establishing the run’. Just go out and hammer them with your best player. So, they did.
The alternative universe Al Michaels lives in…(there were things spoken, not word for word but close)
-The question on Allen has always been his accuracy, but his completion percentage is way up this year…helped by all the short passes the Bills throw.
Al, have you actually watched any Buffalo games this year…or were you busy eating a 7-course meal during the broadcast and were distracted?
Michaels should be fired for such a statement because that utterance should cause him to be fired for incompetence and passing on nonsense to the consumers. That’s about on par with someone saying…well, Tom Brady is only a great/effective NFL QB because of his running skills. Imagine how stupid he’d sound if he said that ‘all the short passes’ about Mahomes? But he says it about Allen and it just rolls downhill unchallenged by the great Cris Collinsworth.
I’m not pointing this out to mock Michaels, because if I chronicled and commented on his (and Collinsworth’s) obvious lack of watching/studying the thing he (they) make comments on, I would need to clone myself and hire my clone to work fulltime to aid with all the writing. No, I point this out to show you that’s what THEY (the football hive minds) think…because it affects/reflects the public, and thus affects Fantasy valuations. THEY still think Allen is a cute fraud, an anomaly that lucked his way this far…they just try not to say it out loud.
Most football people, and thus the fans, and thus fantasy GMs share the same hive mind opinions – they will praise Allen’s season, but are secretly of the 100% belief it is not real and due to turn at any moment. Unless Allen goes all the way and wins the Super Bowl + MVP, he’s going to be available (not given away, but available) in Dynasty in the offseason – people will want out before the collapse that they KNOW is coming, per all the experts who will say it. The media case will begin with, “Well, remember Nick Foles had one magical playoff run too…”
The #1 thing that makes a fantasy owner’s heartbeat in full…getting rid of assets before they lose their value in a radical way. A fantasy owner makes up a scenario of a player going to collapse ahead, then they react to the scenario they concocted or latched onto from the media. They’ll be trying to sell Travis Kelce and Adam Thielen off due to age fears (again, for another offseason of doing so). Josh Allen will lead the offseason in players that will ‘fall back to earth’ for the upcoming season. Nothing is worse for an FF owner than to be holding a player they think might be getting ready to lose value/drop off – and Josh Allen will be that guy in 2021 offseason, especially if Brian Daboll is hired away.
-All that anti-Allen belief also led Michaels to belch out something to the effect of: Some people think Allen’s season has been so good that he’s even in the MVP discussion but there’s no way anyone but Aaron Rodgers is winning that award.
If THEY knew…if THEY were aware…they would have been making the case WHY Allen should be the MVP over Aaron Rodgers, it at least should be a 50/50 debate, but they won’t even entertain that. If you polled 100 generic football analysts of repute and gave them just two MVP choices for the 2020 season, they’d vote Rodgers MVP over Allen at about a 90-98 out of 100 for Rodgers clip. It’s important to know that that’s what they think of Allen.
The closer Allen gets to the prize, the more they will have to tear him down. If he makes it to the Super Bowl, the two weeks of press (over)coverage – the Josh Allen controversy of some offensive racial slang used in tweets/posts when he was a kid will resurface (as it did right before his NFL Draft) and be discussed. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t be – just know it’s coming only to try and tear him down for being better than the intelligentsia thought. He’s making them look bad, so they are going to do something about it. Watch and see…
-- And then there is the ‘Bizarro’ (opposite of this world) Josh Allen…Lamar Jackson (14-24 for 162 yards, 0 TD/1 INT). Jackson can do no wrong in the NFL intelligentsia. Every problem is ignored or excused. Every good thing is magnified to something amazing.
Because THEY know with 100% certainty that Jackson is better than Allen, many analysts picked the Ravens to win this game. Jackson responded with 3 points scored in 3+ quarters of play, a devastating pick-six, and outplayed (as a passer) by UDFA QB Tyler Huntley in his 4th-quarter work.
I’m not suggesting LJax is bad…just he’s more ‘C’ than the ‘A++++’ it appears after his MVP 2019 season. His running is an ‘A’ but his traditional QB play/passing has fallen to ‘C-D’ grade levels. He is what he is – a running weapon. When teams get ahead/a lead on Baltimore…LJax is a bad choice to make a comeback with.
Jackson’s playoff numbers this year:
170.5 yards passing, 0.0 TDs/1.0 INTs, sacked 4.0 times per game.
In Jackson’s last 14 games…21 TD passes (1.5 per game)/11 INTs (0.78 per game) – very solid for a run-first QB…but not special by any means.
Jackson ran for 8 TDs this season (incl. playoffs)…making it 17 rushing TDs the past two campaigns. Josh Allen has rushed for 9 TDs this season, and 18 TDs the past two seasons – and no one cares or mentions Allen’s runner skills/everyone drools over Lamar’s running ability. I know Lamar is shifty, flashy and an elite QB runner, but why isn’t Josh Allen lauded for his great power running ability as a QB (with great numbers to back it up) while at the same time is an elite/best in the league passer?
There shouldn’t even be a debate of Allen v. Lamar, but if you asked 100 TV analysts…they’d take Lamar for their team/pick about 80+ out of the 100. And, thus, any analysis is skewed through that prism.
Speaking of Ravens’ QBs… Did anyone feel like Tyler Huntley (6-13 for 60 yards, 3-32-0) wasn’t much different than Lamar, once Huntley was pressed into duty? I almost felt like Huntley was a better passer, lesser runner version of Lamar. I liked Huntley as a lesser Lamar-like prospect, a Lamar-like understudy for a team running read option offense (like Baltimore/Lamar) when I scouted him out of Utah pre-Draft 2020.
-- Massive game.
Gotta go with your best stuff.
Buffalo runs 53 offensive plays…Josh Allen is involved in 44 of them as a passer (37) or runner (7). The Bills don’t even run the ball on purpose in the 1st-half.
Buffalo shows who it is: Josh Allen-led.
Baltimore, the underdog…a run-first team, gotta control the tempo and the time of possession. Gotta run it with your top weapons.
Ravens’ carry distribution:
10 carries = Gus Edwards (10-42-0) starts, is in (too) much of the down 14 points needing to comeback in a hurry-up offense.
10 carries = J.K. Dobbins (10-42-0, 3-51-0/5) is not the starter and is equally mixed with Gus despite playing more snaps.
09 carries = Lamar Jackson…would’ve had 10+ carries to lead the way if he had not gotten hurt for the 4th-quarter.
Baltimore shows who it is: Lamar-led with an RBBC rotation.
How can you be confident in Dobbins as ‘the guy’ for the Ravens next year, an RB1 for FF? I know he’s the most talented guy. But does that matter to his touch count given by the Ravens staff that will still be there next season?
-- John Brown (8-62-0/11) finally did something for the Bills in a game. It feels like it’s been months since Brown last mattered. He wasn’t a difference maker at all…he was just there/solid. He’s going to be ditched by the Bills this offseason -- $1.6M to cut, or $9.5M to keep/play in 2021…that ain’t happening/he’s going to be cut or have his salary slashed big time.
Gabriel Davis (0-0-0/4) has been touted as a Brown replacement, but he has looked borderline terrible the 2nd-half of the season. He has caught 18 of his last 39 passes (46.2%)…a disaster working with a highly accurate, ace QB.
Davis caught all 8 of his first 8 targets of the 2020 season…and then has caught 31 of his last 62 targets…50%. Not good…and a lot of drops and just not coming up with tough catches. Davis feels like a perpetual #4 WR in the NFL.
-- Marquise Brown (4-87-0/7) closed the season strong…
5.5 FF PPG/8.7 PPR PPG on 3.2 rec., 43.1 yards, 0.20 TDs per game = Weeks 1-11
11.2 FF PPG/15.8 PPR PPG on 4.6 rec., 66.8 yards, 0.75 TDs per game = Weeks 12 thru playoffs
Dez Bryant (0-0-0/1) did not end the season strong…
-- Two of the best defenses in the NFL went at it here…
The Bills hold the Ravens to three points, despite their sketchy pass rush. Sean McDermott is the best defensive mind in the game…imagine if they find a pass rusher or two this offseason? And look at their division of QBs to face in 2021 (of what we know right now).
The Ravens are very good on defense but aging out…and division is suddenly a lot better for the future with Burrow and Baker. The key to the Ravens-DST for 2021…whether Don Martindale is back or if he gets a head coaching job somewhere.
Snap Counts of Interest:
45 = Dobbins
24 = Edwards
10 = J Hill
47 = Diggs
46 = J Brown
36 = Beasley
26 = G Davis
08 = McKenzie
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