I'm going back through some team notes from games last season, and in the following/current year I like to pick a few teams and post all their game recaps in order and make a few, quick new year/season observations -- and it gives us some spring/summer reading material when football news is slow.
The first team I selected to post from 2018 season -- the Kansas City Chiefs (see all on FFM). The second team we're going to walk through -- the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns are wildly interesting...now. It's interesting to go back and walk through the season, because it was so sad to start...because they almost beat PIT-NO right out of the gates, but Hue Hue'd it all up and his rightful punishment was soon to come. Then, just when it looked like they would fall with lovable sociopath Gregg Williams at the interim helm...the Browns became a real team, and almost got themselves into the playoffs -- they would have won 10 games and made the playoffs had the Browns canned Hue after the 2017 season and started Baker from day-one, as I probably pointed out over/under a hundred times in the game recaps all last season. So, let's re-look at the Cleveland Browns' wild 2018 campaign.
Now, enjoy the game where the Browns got rocked by Houston...with Mayfield getting picked three times, one a pick-six...and then the media saying "See!" all week about Mayfield/the Browns -- and then the Browns would make them eat those words the next three weeks, getting back into the playoff hunt miraculously.
2018 Week 13 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Browns v. Texans
I really thought the Browns had a chance for the upset here, but Baker Mayfield threw a couple of early picks, one a pick-six and a 3-0 Houston lead ballooned to 23-0 by halftime. The Browns kept fighting in the second half…holding Houston to a field goal and scoring two TDs, but the damage was already done. Houston books their 9th win in-a-row.
Houston winning and Indy getting shutout…pretty much nails the coffin shut on the Texans winning the AFC South. They can afford to lose to Indy this week and still cruise to the division title. Houston is 9-3, on their way to 11-5/12-4 with their remaining schedule. I still believe Houston is a fraud that will get exposed, but they are going to win this division and be a #3-4 seed in the playoffs. Getting the #3 vs. the #4 seed is crucial…the difference between playing the Chargers (if a 4th seed) and like Denver or Baltimore (of a 3rd seed).
Cleveland’s playoff hopes died with this loss. They could possibly win out and finish 8-7-1, but I don’t think they have the kind of team that can win four straight games…especially now that Denzel Ward is hurt and may miss time. What might have been if Hue didn’t corrupt all this.
May 2019 Notes: I remember this game well, Mayfield got picked a couple times early and Houston started running away...and the Mayfield critics came out in full force. To the bewilderment of the experts/anti-Mayfield crowd -- the Browns would win their next three in a row and get right back into the playoff possibility. Houston would continue to hold off Indy, but then host them in the playoffs and get handled by the Colts.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s talk about Baker Mayfield (29-43 for 397 yards, 1 TD/3 INTs), the man of the hour who lost this game for the Browns.
Two of his three picks were him, uncharacteristically, trying to force tight window throws into peril. Mayfield makes a lot of brilliant passes but usually on the money with receivers running away from the defense. In this game, he threw to stopped (route) receivers standing still and tried to fire it through a zone of coverage – and he was caught, twice. His 3rd pick was right before the half in a spot on the field they needed to just take a shot and he did…deep ball up for grabs and right to a defender in the end zone.
What you have to love from this is…Baker threw 3 picks in a half and got his team down. He came back out in the 2nd-half and just hit the gas pedal. On one sequence he threw a 76-yard TD beauty…called back for holding. Two plays later, to the same receiver, another bullet downfield and off to the races for a 70+ yard TD but the receiver got hit from behind heading to the goal line and fumbled it away. Baker lost a 70+ yard TD pass, twice, on the same drive.
Mayfield made some unreal throws in the game, and overall he was more brilliant than not…but with two gaffes that cost them everything. I’m not rattled a bit by this, in fact…I’m more sure than ever on Mayfield – he’s going to be a mega star.
May 2019 Notes: This 1 TD/3 INT game was my favorite game of Mayfield's in 2018, besides his debut when he embarrassed Sam Darnold and all the Darnold-ists (a.k.a. the entire NFL). This particular game really showed why Mayfield is going to be an NFL and fantasy superstar. A bad start, and he just kept pushing and if not for bad luck to start the 2nd-half -- he might have had 450-500+ yards passing and came back and won this game.
-- This is the first game I saw Mayfield have real cohesion with Jarvis Landry (6-103-0/9). They might build off this the ROS. Don’t lose sight of Landry.
Also, Mayfield-to-Callaway is a 50+ yard TD waiting to happen every game. Had Callaway not fumbled away a 70-yard TD a few yards shy…he’d have three TDs in his last 5 games with Mayfield.
Rashard Higgins (4-62-1/4) does have three TDs in his last 5 games with Mayfield.
May 2019 Notes: None of these guys could get consistent/continuity with Mayfield all season...which is a red flag for some of them in the future.
In their last five games played with Mayfield…
3.7 rec. (4.8 targets), 54.4 yards, 0.40 TDs per game = Callaway
2.4 rec. (3.1 targets), 39.8 yards, 0.60 TDs per game = Higgins
5.0 rec. (7.6 targets), 48.8 yards, 0.00 TDs per game = Landry
Both Higgins and Callaway have more TDs this season than Landry.
I could argue Callaway might be the best WR to own/use right now…
-- UDFA RB Dontrell Hilliard (4-40-0/4) looked good in his spots as a receiving RB in this game. If Duke Johnson is out this week, he might be, Hilliard might do a little something catching passes.
May 2019 Notes: Barely seen the rest of the way...
-- David Njoku (3-8-0/6) is a consistent TD threat in games with Mayfield – his best, biggest (physically) target. The week-to-week results are erratic, but he’s a legit/random TE1 hopeful each week.
May 2019 Notes: Another receiving option that could never find consistency with Mayfield when he had a golden opportunity to do so.
-- DeAndre Carter (6-32-0/6) played the Keke Coutee role…and did it well. A lot of simple bubble screens playing to Carter’s strengths. If Coutee is out again…Carter is a PPR sleeper like Bruce Ellington is.
May 2019 Notes: If Carter ever gets a real chance... (he won't).
-- Did you know, except for one game this season (Week 8 vs. Miami), Deshaun Watson (22-31 for 224 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) has either 1 or 2 TD passes in every game this season?
His TD pass pattern: 1-2-2-2-1-1-1-5-2-1-2-1. In five of his last 8 games…1 TD pass in the game.
In his last 7 games…less than 240 yards passing every game.
Just not a high-end passer. Fantasy useful…not a fantasy star.
May 2019 Notes: His final four games of 2018 season...1-2-2-0 for TD passes. In his playoff game...1 TD pass.
-- Fantasy Playoff Notes from these two teams…
The Browns have an improving Weeks 14-16…CAR, at DEN, CIN. Was worried about Week 15 at Denver, but with Chris Harris out…not as daunting.
Houston’s schedule is awesome for offense…IND-@NYJ-@PHI. All good to go on your Texans’ things. Also, Sam Darnold Week 15 is nice for the DST.
Snap Counts of Interest:
75 = Hopkins
60 = Dem Thomas
44 = Carter
46 = Landry
41 = Callaway
33 = Higgins
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