Believe it or not, we’re less than a month away from the first NFL preseason game – the HOF game (DEN v. ATL). Weeks away from real training camp. Leading up to that time, I wanted to go back through Week 1 of 2018…just for fun and any learning/takeaways that could be had…and something to get the juices flowing to get ready for the 2019 football season.
I’m going to republish a Week 1 game every day the next 2+ weeks, publishing them as-is in the order I did them – starting with the TNF kickoff of Bears v. Packers. No extra/new commentary. Just the content/recap of things that were accessible only for In-Season subscribers Week 1 (and every week) last season.
Access to all our game recaps (and everything else we do) in-season are available via our In-Season subscription. You can sign up for that now and be ready for September 2019 new material and have access to all the private content from 2018 – BUT also note there are Combo packages/deals to get your Draft Guide and In-Season (and Dynasty Stash) all in one checkout right now as well.
Otherwise, let’s walk down memory lane to see what was important or telling or an entertaining reminder in Week 1 of 2018…
2018 Week 1 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Bears v. Packers
*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
Well, this was quite the game. I started penciling in this Bears victory right about the time I saw Aaron Rodgers taking a leisurely cruise on the injury cart.
I’m caught between two thought processes with this game: (a) be careful over-analyzing and running off a cliff with what you see in Week 1. (b) I want to over analyze and run off a cliff with what I saw in this game.
I’ll pose both cases and let you be the judge.
Last year, after Week 1 in the NFL we all walked away with a lot of ‘fresh’ beliefs…didn’t we? Things like…
-- The Kansas City Chiefs were crowned Super Bowl champions after an impressive offensive explosion beating the hated Patriots.
-- The Steelers luckily escaped the Browns last year Week 1 – it was not a good sign for Pittsburgh and we all assumed the Browns turned a bit of a corner.
-- Oakland smoked Tennessee, which obviously meant the Raiders were going to dominate the AFC West for years to come and definitely not get their coach fired by seasons end – and there was for sure no way the Titans would ever see the playoffs.
-- The Rams crushed the Colts but Todd Gurley looked sluggish again with just 40 yards rushing. The following game, Week 2, the Rams would lose late to Washington because Jared Goff looked tentative/lost/sloppy running the two-minute drill – we just knew the mainstream was right about that guy, he can’t play quarterback.
-- For several weeks into 2017, we would all be holding up the Denver defense has the gold standard DST to have in the NFL.
-- The Saints would lose their first two games and seems like their season was going to be another 8–8 type dud.
Week 1 is a temptress.
We all love football so much…and we’re so starved for it in Week 1 that as soon as we get the real thing we can’t hardly handle it. We’re so happy our beloved is back that we gorge ourselves on everything we can, watch every game possible, catch all the highlights and analysis and we figure we’re the most up-to-date we will ever be. It’s usually the case, it is the most up-to-date most fantasy players are. By weeks 4-6 interest starts to wane. Conflicting information abounds with every new week. With all the conflicting information, most fantasy GM’s stick with what they got drunk on in Week 1. It’s what the mainstream feeds us – the mainstream coverage is worse than generic fan reaction. The mainstream is going to take Week 1 and Week 2 and also jump off a cliff — trying to take you and I with them inadvertently.
Most FFM teams cruised to an easy victory led by Tyreek Hill and/or Patrick Mahomes in Week 1. It feels great, but it can also be a lethal intoxicant. A false sense of security for some. A bad mirror to judge everything by others – if it wasn’t Mahomes and Hill-like in Week 1…then everything else on your team was a massive disappointment and must be fixed immediately.
We have a bad compass watching Week 1 because it’s a sample size of one. We’re going to react to everything as if what happened in Week 1 as going to be true for the next 16 weeks. It’s rarely ever the case. Be careful getting sucked in to the hysteria and panic of Week 1, but for FFM members this year – be careful getting a lulled to sleep by Tyreek and Mahomes. Celebrate it because we played it on purpose. It’s what we all wanted to see happen…it happened. It wasn’t luck. Embrace that and enjoy it. However, now is the time to take advantage of the people in our league who were a lot like us after one week last season. Were any among you a David Johnson broken wrist panicker who lost last Week 1 and lost their franchise player going forward…and all seemed lost? Take advantage of that person in your league.
There’s a lot of work to do from here, but Week 1 was mostly a great start in FFM-land.
So, don’t panic after one Sunday… With that being said, I think what we witnessed last night in this football game was jarring and I fear it’s something to potentially jump off a cliff with interpreting. I think this loss by the Bears, the way that it happened, just set Chicago back one year in development towards being a playoff team and gave us some unfortunate clues for fantasy that we have to decide whether to jump off a cliff on or hold steady for Week 2.
Here’s the top side problem I saw last night: Yes, I watched the game and had the same emotions as many of you – I was a heavy Bears’ bettor and got the point spread win but lost the win-win. I’m frustrated because I thought that win was in the bag. The narrative from this game is going to be Aaron Rodgers is the best player in football and that Chicago put up a good fight but they’re not ready for prime time…and there’s some truth to that as well. I think there’s a bigger problem we saw last night – as a bettor and has a Fantasy GM.
What has been the Matt Nagy narrative? That he was bringing all of his Kansas City Chiefs wisdom with him to Chicago. That’s the problem. He brought his Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs wisdom with him. He has turned the Chicago Bears into the Chiefs of 2015–2017 – the good team that turns to false hope with failure in the big spots philosophy has come to Chi-town with Nagy.
That was simply the worst coached game I’ve seen in a very long time…also known as 80%+ of the big games Andy Reid coached games in KC the past three years. Clever for a moment. Get a lead and try to win by not losing…and then lose to the ‘star’ players being stars in the end.
Matt Nagy had a brilliant offense for about two drives and then Alex Smith/KC 2015-2016’s offense emerged. Early on there was a triple-headed RB alignment, there was an O-Lineman lineup with the WRs -- it was fast-moving, fresh, caught Green Bay off-guard and it led to scores and enthusiasm. The Bears took a quick lead and were on the verge of a knockout punch and then they became Alex Smith/Andy Reid/KC with the lead…boring screens and stuffed running plays trying to milk the clock and not turn the ball over.
Mike McCarthy is even worse…he has the nuclear weapon Aaron Rodgers, and he comes out with a running game heavy with Jamaal Williams, WTF? Like every single game and season with Green Bay, the Andy Reid shtick fails too often and McCarthy reluctantly has to cut Rodgers loose in a comeback effort…and Aaron Rodgers does Aaron Rodgers things. If the Packers had an early lead we would have seen the reverse in this game -- passive Green Bay playing Andy Reid ball and maybe Chicago getting all-pass radical.
As Rodgers did Rodgers things…the Bears defense, oddly, played the same stoic style ‘trying to keep things in front of them’ and Aaron Rodgers simply destroys all the best ‘contain’ plans. The Green Bay staff shouldn’t even report to work in a week. They should just show up on Sunday and let Rodgers run the offense and sit back and take credit for it.
The Bears had everything going for them up 20-0…the win, the NFC North, the future. Matt Nagy threw it all away, so he could try to ‘not lose’; a disease that effects 99% of the football coaches and fantasy GMs. Wins = lucky, and everything must change/be tinkered with to keep the wins coming because we only got lucky. Losses = everything must change, no sleep, can’t drown out the voices in your head, panicked decisions to make the voices go away, work twice as hard to make the losses go away, and cry about it all week. NFL head coaches will do anything to avoid the losing voices in their heads.
We just watched an NFL team (Philly) win a Super Bowl by ‘going for it’ a lot on 4th-downs. Has any team in the NFL followed that? Nope. What if you don’t make it? That would be terrible and the voices comeback. Better punt away those voices away.
Matt Nagy can claim to be as clever and offensive-minded as he wants…he’s not. He’s a problem in a young coach’s clothing.
You remember the last game Nagy coached, non-preseason before this? The KC-TEN playoff game. Remember what happened? KC jumped out 21-3 and then the Chiefs’ offense dialed everything back in order ‘not to lose’…and they inexplicable lost to a pathetic Titans team in the end with KC scoring three whole points the second half after stomping on the Titans prior. The last two games Matt Nagy has had a hand in – the same start, the same mid-game plan was enacted, and the same result happened (loss).
The Bears are going to win 7+ games this year and payoff our over-under bets. Remember, Andy Reid wins a lot of games because 28-30 other coaches are doing the same thing as him. However, Bears winning the NFC North. or Super Bowl? Hardly. Matt Nagy is not ready for prime-time. He might learn from this. Doug Pederson (from the A. Reid ‘tree’) did, but that’s rare that coaches change their ways.
Enough of the team stuff, let’s talk players…
Fantasy Player Notes:
-- Mitchell Trubisky (23-35 for 171 yards, 7-32-1) is trying to be made into Alex Smith in part of this Nagy-narrative. When Trubisky was on the attack early, he was fine. Looked good. Looked comfortable. When Trubisky got reeled in to try to bleed out the win with 'safe plays', he looked like Alex Smith. When they needed Trubisky to save them late…he was erratic and looked over his head.
1) Trubisky is going to have a solid year. Remember, Jared Goff still looked sloppy Weeks 1-2 last season and then started showing signs and then popped. The Bears are loaded on offense and Trubisky will be fine a #7-15 fantasy QB week-to-week because of his running skills.
2) Trubisky is a long way away from being a star. He’s being micromanaged. He should just put out there to run a modified spread and gun sling like Patrick Mahomes. Matt Nagy may realize it someday but he’s not there yet.
I saw flashes of the greatness to come, but Trub’s work in the two-minute drills was not good.
**It’s at this point that I decided to go back and re-watch the Bears’ final two-minute drill in slow motion. Every play.**
Re-watching that two-minute drill: It’s not as bad as you think. The alignments and routes were smart on most every play (except the final play where everyone went deep). Guys were open. I saw what Trubisky was doing. He had proper throws, mostly, but seemed way-not on the same page with the receivers. He and Trey Burton seemed like they had never met before.
I see the potential that this offense has to bring. Some of it Nagy needs to push it for 60 minutes. Some of it Trubisky has to take what they give and not try to get too cute. Simple flares to Tarik Cohen are as likely to get 10 yards as is throwing the ball 10 yards into a tight window.
This Bears team is ready to win 8+ games. It’s not ready to win playoff games. Not yet. Matt Nagy is not ready. He might be after a few weeks (or a few years). I want to panic (more so cry for the win that was ripped away), but it’s still early. Re-watching this…I see the potential. It’s not gelled yet.
-- Let me run down the various Bears’ offensive players that Trubisky worked with and we’ll assign fantasy blame, fear, or not on them after one week.
I thought Allen Robinson (4-61-0/7) looked mediocre and tentative. Four weeks from now, it could be totally different, but I’m scared of what I saw here – we don’t have a ton of time in fantasy for ‘things’ to get better. We need things now. I’m not buying low or dropping. I’m unhappily holding.
Taylor Gabriel (5-25-0/5) will be the first to emerge for fantasy among the Bears’ WR group. He’s the perfect guy working with Trubisky and the offensive/WR alignments and routes favor Gabriel. He can change the game for them and be their Tyreek…it didn’t happen here but I’m sticking by Gabriel.
Jordan Howard (15-82-0, 5-25-0/5) ran well and caught the ball better than I’ve ever seen. He is a steady, higher-end RB1…go and pursue.
After two series, I was convinced Tarik Cohen (5-25-0, 3-16-0/4) was locked and loaded as an RB2/PPR with upside for 2018. Then, they put him (and the offense) in moth balls. Much of the smart/clever alignments were with Cohen. Tarik was open all day flaring out of the backfield but Trubisky was trying to push everything downfield 2nd-half. He’ll learn quick that a dump to Cohen is their best pass play. Cohen, for his part, looked terrific.
Trey Burton (1-15-0/6) literally looked like he’d never played with any of these guys before and didn’t know the playbook. Better days will come, but the odd man out of the ‘all those mouths to feed’ might be Burton.
...and if Burton is your one and only TE and now you’re in a panic – blame yourself. How many times have I said to get two TE1s and/or pay up for Gronk-Engram because it’s so hard to fix TEs after the face on waivers/free agency? Now look at you…stuck with Trey Burton only, in a panic and wondering about Will Dissly as an option. If you needed a WR for Week 2 you have a dozen to consider off free agency in a redraft. Need a TE today? Join the group crying about Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Greg Olsen, etc. today.
TIGHT END IS A PREMIUM, GET TWO when you can…so, you have at least one that works.
On a scale of 0-10, you worry about your TEs on a ‘2’ level and then stare at your RB group with a ‘34’ level out of 10 interest and run all kinds of schemes to get more RBs/swap RBs. You’re doing it to yourself in redraft/PPR especially…you’re chasing RB ghosts all the time and overlooking TE (and DST and kicker and QB).
-- Oh, and put me down for this, again: I do not see what anyone sees in Anthony Miller (2-14-0/3). It’s not a thing. Stop.
-- What about the Packers offense? Three things to note…
This was the Randall Cobb (9-142-1/10) I was referring to all summer. The guy who was at times was our #1 ranked ‘undervalued’ player in all of fantasy for 2018. Everything is better with Aaron Rodgers. This isn’t stopping unless one of them is taken off in a cart this year.
Jimmy Graham (2-8-0/4). Yes, I think it is time to panic a bit. This slow, unassuming, slug-like Graham is the same guy we whined about in Seattle the past 2+ years. I’d say ‘panic’, but there are no TEs left in the fantasy world. Graham will get 8+ TDs this season, so he’ll be fine. Just get ready for a lot of two catches for less than 20 yards with a TD moment. The upside seems all but gone here.
I’m always anti-Geronimo Allison (5-69-1/5), and I would have bet Jake Kumerow starting/impacting Week 1 if he were healthy. I overlooked Allison because I think he’s a ‘D’ NFL WR. However, if Aaron Rodgers can make Mike McCarthy look like he knows what he’s doing, and if ARodg can give James Jones an NFL career…Allison has value (until Kumerow returns).
-- The Green Bay run game is pathetic. You’re ramming your head against the wall trying to find fantasy gold here. Don’t get suckered by returning Aaron Jones either.
If Mike McCarthy didn’t have Aaron Rodgers, he’d have a bottom 10 defense, DeShone Kizer (the single worst QB in the NFL), a terrible running game, Randall Cobb would be useless, and Geronimo Allison would be a zero…equaling a bottom five NFL franchise. Instead, Aaron Rodgers makes it a Super Bowl contender standing on one leg. Danica Patrick is a very lucky woman…so is Mike McCarthy.
-- Green Bay Safety Kentrell Brice (9 tackles, 1 sack) played 100% of the defensive snaps and led all players in this game with 9 tackles. He goes strong on the IDP watch list.
And let’s watch the Packers’ defense. Mike Pettine is a great D-C, and when down 20-0…he rallied his group from there and held off the comeback on the final drive.
-- I wonder how different all this would feel had Kyle Fuller (2 tackles) not dropped that gift INT late? The Bears would have been given credit for stopping Rodgers in crunch time and we would have given grace to most all things Bears…instead of punishing them double for the stupid loss.
The Bears defense played very well…it’s just that Aaron Rodgers is maybe the best/most talented player to ever put on a uniform. The Bears-DST gets weak O-Line Seattle, Arizona, Tampa Bay the next three weeks. A bye then at Miami. It’s a nice run to use the Bears-DST.
They get that Pats Week 7, but then Jets-Bills-Lions after that.
Snap Counts of Interest:
37 = Jamaal Williams
23 = Ty Montgomery
49 = Jaire Alexander (GB rookie CB)
46 = Josh Jackson (GB rookie CB)
50 = Jordan Howard
28 = Tarik Cohen (not as much as I had hoped)
67 = ARobinson
60 = Gabriel
39 = Miller
12 = K White
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