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. The team responsible for the most successful regular season fantasy football we've had as a company. Let's walk down memory lane week-by week (one per day) and re-live it because it was great, culminating with that Monday Night Football game vs. the Rams...and then we kind slid from there.
Now, enjoy the moment Patrick Mahomes went nuclear in fantasy...as many of you enjoyed the sweet benefits of my insistence of over-payment for him in fantasy 2018...especially to team with Tyreek.
2018 Week 2 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Chiefs v. Steelers
It was 21-0 Chiefs in the blink of an eye. It was soon 21-21 by halftime in another blink of an eye. Watching this game…it was not a back and forth of two heavyweight fighters exchanging blows. It was Kansas City’s offense unstoppable/bored with the ease of which they could move the ball, and the Steelers doing everything in their power to try to stay in it…all the while the Chiefs looking at them like a cat watching a mouse – intrigued, engaged, knowing it will pounce any moment and crush the thing.
The Chiefs have a bad defense, so no lead is safe…which means Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill will put up fantasy numbers beyond your wildest dreams – because they have to and because they can’t be stopped by other defenses. There is no defense for Mahomes. You just hope Mahomes makes a mistake or a ball is tipped or a fumble, etc. The Chiefs will put up 30+ every week by the sheer force of what they bring led by Mahomes (more detail on that in a moment) but the Chiefs defense will allow 30+ points every week just the same. You can’t beat the Chiefs traditionally any more, you have to play their game and hope you have enough ammo to outgun them in the end. The Steelers, Packers, Rams, and Patriots are about the only teams that will hang with the Chiefs in a shootout.
When it was 21-0, the Chiefs got a strip sack, recover and score to make it 28-0, but the play got called back for some hands to the face call or some other soul crushing defensive penalty that litters all these NFL games. The drive lived on and led to a Steelers TD and the comeback was on. This was very close to an explosive blowout. If the Chiefs can find half-a-defense – they might win the Super Bowl, they are that unstoppable on offense.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The two QBs in this game combined for 778 yards passing, 9 passing TDs, 10 TDs total. They made it look easy, especially Patrick Mahomes (23-28 for 326 yards, 6 TDs/0 INT). But why? And why are defenses at such a loss stopping them?
Just like the NFL wasn’t ready to defend Deshaun Watson’s spread offense. It’s really not ready to defend a high-end QB with no fear, huge arm talent, and a coaching staff that is just sitting back and giving them all the leash they need.
My best years in corporate America was when I had all-stars among my direct reports. When I knew that I did have a great unit, I just spent my time making sure they had all the tools they needed, that they didn’t get overworked, and that they were having fun and were rewarded properly. My job was the easiest it had ever been and the most productive – when my group was terrific. My bosses fought that reality at every turn – and it’s really the ultimate reason I quit a lucrative job to concentrate on impoverished football person full-time many years ago. My bosses saw success and then wanted more…more of my team's hands/my team's time put into more projects (draining us), more special requests handled (because other’s failed…we had to pick up their slack…more work for us for being ‘good’), more of us on ‘task forces’/work teams, and when I tried to have a day of nothing for them, of just no work and all fun…it would get rejected/blocked because 'no one else was doing that', especially my boss’s bosses. When my team was at it’s most productive…it drew the most outside people trying to put their fingers into it, and for superiors to try to squeeze more juice out of the orange.
Andy Reid, to this point, is letting Patrick Mahomes steer this ship without much interference…for better or for worse. It’s an NFL coaching rarity.
NFL head coaches are as bad/worse as most bosses at every corporation. Constant micromanaging. Constantly taking credit. Constant self-glorification for ‘managing’. Rare do you find a boss who wants to fully foster the talent underneath them, enabling ones who may surpass them someday. Rare is the boss willing to admit the people below them know the job better. NFL coaches spend 25 hours a day doing something that I have no idea what they do or why it takes so long (like what have Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks been doing all preseason? Because the output of their work from their team so far this season is an outright disaster). I’ve seen all the Amazon documentaries…NFL coaching meetings look utterly ridiculous. I don’t need 25 hours in a day to know I have to stop ‘#12’ (Aaron Rodgers). Yelling at players to ‘give their all’ and to ‘give 110%’ doesn’t matter when Patrick Mahomes is going to go out there and rip you a new one because he’s better at this than they’ll ever be.
Most NFL offenses, defenses, and players are micromanaged. They’re all used to the same drill – I see the same formations, alignments from most teams every Sunday now. The league has become a lot of three WRs lined-up to one side and then trying to figure out how to throw the safest dump/timing pass…or using it as a front to throw a screen pass. Defenses are used to the same tired plays over and over, so they are at the mercy of Mahomes and Big Ben because they are going to just take shotgun snaps and make throws all over with no fear. Everyone on both teams knew these guys were slinging it…neither team and their 25 hours a day of meetings and walkthroughs had anything close to one answer for it all.
Green Bay is at it’s best when Mike McCarthy isn’t trying to force a run game, and instead relies 100% of Aaron Rodgers. Big Ben will put up 30+ points a game when you get Todd Haley and the run game out of the way. McCarthy and Mike Tomlin types secretly want to run the ball 35+ times a game in a 14-10 smash-mouth win, and Rodgers and Ben get in the way of that...in a weird way. I wondered this preseason if the Chiefs would try to micromanage Mahomes the same way.
To their absolute credit, the Chiefs recognize what they have and have designed the offense to let Mahomes go. Andy Reid deserves Coach of the Year – he authored all of this. He traded up to draft Mahomes. He traded away Alex Smith. He is letting O-C Eric Bieniemy foster the environment, and credit to Bieniemy – he recognized right away you can be an O-C genius if you get Tyreek Hill the ball…A LOT.
The greatest act of NFL coaching in the history of the sport is taking place right here, right now – Andy Reid getting out of the way and creating a culture built around the star, generational talents.
I’m rooting for the Chiefs to go all the way to pay this back to Reid…as long as he doesn’t try to step hard in when the inevitable ‘bad game’ for Mahomes happens. And it will.
Patrick Mahomes is a superstar. A future Hall of Famer. Imagine if he were with Hue Jackson or Sean McDermott or Doug Marrone? Mahomes supplies the talent…Andy Reid supplies the finishing touch of – getting the hell out of the way. The most brilliant coaching job in the NFL is happening by less coaching.
It’s not that hard. Let talent be talent and give them the tools and compensation. Yet, 99% of businesses and head coaches do not believe in that. This Mahomes thing isn’t going to end. He might set a record for TD passes in a season because he’s smart to enough to realize you can’t NOT get Tyreek Hill the ball enough.
Four lethal ingredients in this cocktail: Supreme QB talent + a hands off coaching approach + no defense on his own team + opposing defenses are not built/not prepared to stop fearless, unbridled QBs throwing like crazy.
April 2019 comments: I agree with everything I said last year!!
-- I keep mentioning Kareem Hunt (18-75-0, 1-5-1/1) as a trade away candidate. It’s not that he’s going to bust, just that he’s an RB2, at best, who trades like an RB1 still. People see the KC offense and then equivocate Hunt will be a huge beneficiary. He will benefit some, but he’ll lose too much – Mahomes doesn’t check down like Eli-Saquon or Alex Smith-his whole career…because Mahomes is not a P-word. He attacks downfield. He doesn’t rely on 1-yard plunges…he’s confident enough to throw for the score from the 1-yard line.
Plus, Kareem Hunt really isn’t all that great an NFL RB. He had the five games of glory Weeks 1-5 last season, and then here are his per game numbers since Week 6 of 2017 through 2018 Week 2 + the playoff game, minus Week 17 last year where he had just one carry. So, 14 games since his Weeks 1-5 breakout…
Total in those 14 games: 210 carries, 849 yards rushing, (4.0 ypc), 5 rushing TDs, 33 catches, 299 yards receiving, 2 TDs
Extrapolated those numbers to 16 games: 970 yards rushing (60.3 per game), 341.7 yards receiving (21.3 per game), 8.0 TDs (0.50 per game), 37 catches (2.35 per game).
They are good numbers but not great numbers.
After two games this season: 62.0 yards rushing, 2.5 yards receiving, 1.0 catches, 0.50 TDs per game.
Not an RB1 in 2018. Fringe RB1/RB2 last 14 games. Two 100+ yard rushing days in his last 14 games…both against garbage run defenses (just like all his 100+ games have been typically).
He’s not a bust, he’s just overpriced.
April 2019 comments: I agree with everything I said last season!! I would add...as the season wore on, the Chiefs tried to get more conservative, run a bit more, Mahomes's numbers trickled down and the Chiefs stumbled to the end once again.
-- Sammy Watkins (6-100-0/7)? I want to tell anyone to ‘sell’, but someone has to get targets when teams try to overplay Tyreek Hill (5-90-0/6). Watkins looks like every fringe #5 WR on an NFL roster…but he’s lucky enough to be around MYreek (Mahomes+Tyreek).
Travis Kelce (7-109-2/10) got with the program this week and went from looking lost Week 1 to contributing this week. Again, not a primary weapon…just a guy on the field that Mahomes zipped it to when needed.
Tyreek his still ‘the guy’. I loved one point in this game where the Steelers were coming back, and it was somewhat back and forth/game in doubt, the Steelers pinned the Chiefs to their own 1-yard line off a punt. I saw the Chiefs lineup and Tyreek was being covered one-on-one to the right…because NFL teams are conditioned to think this is where the Chiefs waste a play/run the fullback up the middle for an extra yard of working space. However, because St. Patrick is not a P-word QB, I knew what he was thinking. He did it. He dropped back and cranked one off to Hill sprinting downfield. Overthrown by 2-3 yards…a near-miss 99-yard score to set your fantasy scoring ablaze even more.
-- James Conner (8-17-1, 5-48-0/5) fell back to earth, as we all figured. Not his fault, per se. This game was 21-0 quickly and no time for 3-4 yards and a cloud of dust. It was Ben-time to try to pull the plane out of its death spiral. Conner salvaged the FF-day with a TD, so he keeps up his fantasy value.
You are going to hear ‘Le’Veon may be back at the end of the month’ chatter, but that’s as much nonsense as the same people (Rappaport, Schefter, et al) saying he’d be back before the season started and the day before the season started. Those guys are just guessing…playing the odds Bell misses football so much and Steelers are going to panic and thus Bell walks back in.
The Steelers have no reason to change their stance now. Bell has no reason to change his – he literally gets to party for 10 weeks and then walk back to the team to clock half-ass time for a few weeks until he makes $60M+ guaranteed in free agency in a few months. How would you live your life if you knew you had a $60M+ check to cash in March 2019? Showing up for work on time? Care what the boss thinks?
You still have several weeks of Conner…and maybe the whole season. If the Steelers fall to 2-6 or something…what do they need Bell for? They might as well trade him. I think ‘trade’ of Bell is very much going to happen. What’s Bell’s mindset going to be like when he does walk back in the door?
60% = they’ll trade him (what value is a guy who doesn’t want to be there at the lowest concern position in the NFL?).
40% = they’ll let him walk back in like nothing happened Week 10.
April 2019 comments: Our Mahomes-Tyreek pairing call preseason 2018 was genius, but our insistence that Le'Veon was going to hold out much longer than everyone thought was pretty brilliant too.
-- You know what, the Chiefs did a decent job on Antonio Brown (9-67-0/14). Kendall Fuller did nice things (with help) and Steven Nelson (6 tackles) went to war with him a few times. You know they did a decent job because Antonio Brown did his illogical Serena Williams hissy-fit act on the sidelines during the game. Yes, Antonio…it’s a big conspiracy by the offensive coordinator and Big Ben. You’re the most targeted WR in the league like of all-time, but in this one game they picked spots because of the coverage…but go ahead and throw a fit for not getting the ball enough (was targeted 14 times) anyway.
This would be like a billionaire throwing a fit in a restaurant that he was charged 7.50% sales tax on his meal, when he thinks it should be 7.45%. Really, we are going to throw a fit on the sidelines while Ben drops 452 yards passing and 3 TDs/0 INT? You can’t be happy unless you’re the reason for success.
When AB throws a fit, Ben is then inclined to throw it to (stick a pacifier to) Brown despite coverage and the Chiefs almost picked that forced push off once potentially twice -- the one right in the hands of the DB.
I can tell you Antonio Brown doesn’t care about this team any more than most star NFL players care. You care more than they do. They care about stats and paydays, and there is logic to doing that – it’s what I would care about if I were a star…and you would too. It’s why Le’Veon isn’t coming back until he has to and he’s not re-signing in Pittsburgh.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (13-121-1/19) didn’t get all the targets because Ben has something against Antonio. Did anyone see Tyreek pouting and throwing a fit that he didn’t have a target in the first half? (Hill will probably turn into a baby as soon as the $100M+ contract ink dries).
April 2019 comments: Ha! The Steelers signed Steve Nelson in free agency. I forgot about this -- it explains they're savvy love for Nelson. Also, funny reading the early 2018 signs of the Antonio mental breakdown again...if we only knew how bad this was going to get...
-- Vance McDonald (3-26-0/5) was back and played about 45% of the snaps. Jesse James (5-138-1/50 had a couple long plays, but that’s not his norm…and he had the same number of targets as VMD. I like James a lot better without McDonald lurking.
This nice James game might be a vision of the future for VMD to have some of those big plays.
-- Well, I thought holding the Steelers-DST would be genius in Week 2. Not to start them, but to have them for Weeks 3-13 when their schedule got freed up. As with most FF-things, the game has changed on a dime…
Joe Haden is out with a hamstring. Artie Burns is banged up. Worse than that…the schedule is turning against us. Tampa Bay Week 3 was supposed to be easy…now, it looks like it’s another non start. Weeks 4-6 you get Flacco-Ryan-Dalton. A nice stretch but not awesome. If you fear Tampa, and now we have to…the Steelers are not a good DST to work with all of a sudden. They might work, but they also might be mediocre the next few weeks. I see better options to mess with.
Freaking Ryan Fitzpatrick…how is this possible?
April 2019 comments: The Steelers DST did turn things around starting with the Tampa game where they made Fitzpatrick look human for the first time last season.
-- Just one last quick note… Reggie Ragland (5 tackle) is awful and the sooner the Chiefs realize what the Bills already did…then we might be able to usher in the Dorian O’Daniel era. I mean, why not? The Chiefs’ offense will make up for the defense…get the young, athletic playmaker guys on defense ready for the playoffs. Stop playing games with Ragland. Oohhh, but he went to ALABAMA…he’s so precious!
April 2019 comments: The Chiefs started to get a few weeks later, but then put Rsgland back in to anchor one of the worst defenses of 2018.
Snap Counts of Interest:
45 = J James
37 = McDonald
40 = Hunt
09 = Damien Williams
06 = Ware
32 = Terrelle Edmunds
01 = O’Daniel
00 = Matthew Thomas
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