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 the Browns turned their entire franchise around in one half of football -- this was the launch moment...
2018 Week 3 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Jets v. Browns
Well, well, well… Baker Mayfield v. Sam Darnold…
You probably think I’m going to gloat, huh?
And, as an added bonus I’m going to be very mean spirited about it. Not mean for the sake of ‘I told ya’ so’, but my entire message/my company’s mission about football scouting happened right in front of our faces Thursday night – and it must be discusses/hammered home.
I’m also going to make a pretty shocking fantasy/dynasty claim here as well, so get ready…this recap may be a doozy.
First, the game overview. You saw it… Jets take a commanding 14-0 lead. The Browns can’t move the ball under Tyrod Taylor. The termination papers are getting drawn up for Hue Jackson, as they should have been a year ago. The Jets’ defense looks like the 85’ Bears. Tyrod is a total disaster. Everything is going wrong, per usual, for the Browns.
Baker Mayfield enters right before the half, immediately looks like he’s been playing in the NFL for five years, leads the comeback and a legend is born. The Browns defense rallies with the general enthusiasm and becomes ‘that defense’, an emerging defense we’ve been predicting…it was just waiting for Mayfield to light the fuse.
Let me gloat here, top side, and then get into the fantasy radical statement I’m going to make.
80-90% of ‘fans’ thought Sam Darnold was the best QB in the 2018 NFL Draft in January-September 20th this year.
99% of NFL scouts and GMs and analysts, the ‘football establishment’, told you Sam Darnold was the best QB in this draft. They’ve been ‘all Darnold’ for two years.
100% of Troy Aikman blathered on during the telecast how all his QB studies in the offseason led him to believe Darnold was the most superior 2018 QB prospect.
110% of TV analysts and teleprompter readers were pushing Sam Darnold as the second coming after Week 1.
100% of me told you there was a Sam Darnold problem in 2016…2017, and then in 2018 all pre-Draft and into the preseason and after Week 1 and Week 2.
Every FFM draft analyst on our draft night coverage went into it/discussed having Mayfield ahead of Darnold by a mile.
Well, you saw thetwo QBs in action Thursday – you really got to see them work. You saw the obvious/what we’ve been pushing – Baker Mayfield is 5-10x the quarterbacking talent of Sam Darnold. Darnold looks damn near incompetent and noodle-armed (as I’ve said for 3 seasons) compared to off-the-bench cold Mayfield in this game. No one could look at these two guys playing quarterback in college, the preseason, and in this game and have any doubt that Sam Darnold is the wildly inferior prospect.
It’s beyond obvious.
If it is beyond obvious…then what in the hell are NFL scouts seeing when they watch tape pre-Draft? What were analysts thinking (spoiler alert: they are not). What were the GMs thinking? What were coaches thinking? What were ESPN’s and NFL Network’s draft analysts thinking? I mean this was a layup. This shouldn’t have even been a debate, ever – of course, Baker Mayfield is radically better than Darnold.
How did all the professionals get it wrong?
How do they keep getting it wrong?
Why do any of you continue to put stock in anything they say?
I’m not saying that I’m beyond reproach, but good heavens – this was the easiest scouting call in all of football scouting. Only it wasn’t a 50-50 split decision/tough call/open debate among analysts. No, it was 95-99% of them with Darnold; no doubt for them.
It’s not possible that all scouts and analysts watched the tape pre-Draft, and all magically reached the same conclusion…it’s impossible. NFL scouting isn’t a science (but it should be) -- for analysts (and fans) it is a fake religion…it’s a bunch of incompetent, highly-paid people echoing the few lead scouting voices and those lead voices are mostly bad at their jobs. This is how bad it is – if it wasn’t Darnold as their #1, then it would have been Josh Allen as their play ahead of Mayfield.
It’s not like this is one error I’m cherry picking. Heck, anyone can make a scouting error or two…but this is happening over and over and over and over and Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel and Johnny Manziel and DeShone Kizer and Jameis Winston and Paxton Lynch and Matt Barkley…I just named guys ‘they’ had rated as #1 overall picks, with heavy consensus, at certain points in their college careers or draft entry year. They didn’t like Tom Brady, and don’t like Jared Goff. Not only are they wrong about what QBs are going to ‘make it’ they also completely whiff on the QBs emerging.
Who is this bad at their jobs and then wakes up the next day without a conscious and starts spouting or typing more football analysis? Not only that, if you see one of them out at a restaurant, etc., you’d melt with admiration – THEY WORK IN FOOTBALL, THEY’RE SPECIAL. They think they’re special.
Not for me they aren’t. I think they are absolutely dreadful at their jobs and the crime of that is the guys who get drafted late or never get a fair shot because of the ‘analysts’ are costing them opportunity, money, etc. – it’s a literal crime perpetrated on young people and the fans with this ‘me too’ bad scouting.
I hate it for the players/prospects who deserve better.
I love it for me because I can ring the register in fantasy and handicapping time and time again playing off these buffoons. I hope they never get it.
The next person who says, “Well, they (coaches, GMs, scouts, analysts) know more because they see it every day, they know the players better” will draw my merciless wrath.
NFL scouting is not evolving – it is getting worse. The more data, analytics, tape…the worse it gets. Watching this game, watching these two QBs side-by-side only emboldens me that I’m the best in the world at this. Not perfect…just the best. You already knew that though, but it was nice to see it up close so quickly into these rookie QB’s careers.
May 2019 Notes: Well, we all just watched the 2019 NFL Draft...I think this rant holds up for the most part.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Here’s my big message from this game. The revelation I had watching it. Actually, that’s a lie. I had this idea during the week, pre-game, but I thought I’d share it after the game because there was no way Baker Mayfield (17-23 for 201 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) was going to play this week (see, I get things wrong from time to time). Then as I watched him get into the game, I was mad – I shoulda sent this message out ahead but I thought I’d have time. Actually, what I’m about to say would make less sense if you hadn’t seen this glimpse of what you did in this game, so there is a silver lining for it to be laid out right now.
Let me put the thesis out there and then discuss it…
You know how we all love my Patrick Mahomes call this preseason? Those of you enjoying its fruits… You see he’s just blowing through the NFL like it’s remedial, right? You know who the only QB in the NFL today is who could be ‘the next Patrick Mahomes’? That’s right – Baker Mayfield.
The reason why Mitchell Trubisky is not working yet, and why Jared Goff was not working fully early in his second season either is they needed time to get comfortable. The skill set is/was off the charts with Goff and Trubisky, but obviously they need(ed) time. Trubisky doesn’t fully trust himself yet and you could see it after his first two drives in Weeks 1 and 2. Mahomes has had no fear/supreme gunslinger confidence from the first moment in an NFL preseason and never lost it. He made college football look easy, and he’s making the NFL look silly.
Baker Mayfield is a more talented technical quarterback than Patrick Mahomes, and is just as/is more confident.
Let that breathe for a moment.
That’s not a slam at Mahomes.
Do not interpret that premise as – Well, if Mahomes is a god, and you’re saying Mayfield is better, so therefore Mayfield over Mahomes for fantasy, right?
There are all kinds of factors to consider in this debate. Mayfield has a height/stature issue that could hurt him a touch. The biggest problem is – Hue Jackson is a natural disaster as a head coach. Plus all the big-time weapons the Browns had have busted/been sent to/landed in New England. Mahomes has Tyreek Hill and Andy Reid…Mayfield has Hue and Jarvis Landry – it’s not even close to the same surroundings.
I would take Mahomes 100 times out of 100 today for dynasty/fantasy. I’m just saying – if there is a ‘next Mahomes’, the swagger, the making NFL defenses look stupid, it’s going to be Mayfield. I would argue Mayfield is a better QB mind, but in a lesser body -- and with a very inferior organization/surroundings.
Most people think Mayfield is a cute story, but they do not really believe. Being a ‘Brown’ hurts his FF-value. His size and image hurts his value. A few people thought Mahomes might be amazing. Almost no one thinks that in for Mayfield in dynasty/fantasy.
In dynasty, I implore you – go make this investment. You should not have to pay a lot to do it, but it’s more than it was last week. If you have Mahomes-Garoppolo-Goff, two of the three, maybe you don’t have room. If you can carry three QBs, and your 3rd QB is Trubisky or other speculative QB – make the move to Mayfield. Go for a chance at the next Mahomes. I think Trubisky will be a star too, but Mayfield is going to get there a lot faster potentially. A lot faster.
Redraft, you could do worse than Mayfield as your QB2, but I’d stick with Goff-Garoppolo (among others) behind Mahomes (a lot of FFM’ers have this QB depth chart). You don’t have to force it, but Mayfield could take the league by a lesser-storm than Mahomes…but a storm of some magnitude nonetheless.
I’d wait for Monday, if you were so inclined…because Hue Jackson is just the man stupid enough to announce Tyrod Taylor shouldn’t lose his job due to injury. If you think that there’s no way he’d do such a thing…did you think a guy who is 1-40 in his previous 41 games as a head coach before this game would still be employed as a head coach. Maybe you strike on Mayfield now if people think Hue will go back to Tyrod. Whatever…where you can, I think you want to get in on the Mayfield train…it’s leaving the station fast.
May 2019 Notes: Of all the things in the words above, re-reading...all I could think of is -- the next week Trubisky would drop 6 TD passes in 3 quarters and breakout. What a time it was!
-- And then there’s Sam Darnold (15-31 for 169 yards, 0 TD/2 INTs). Oh, how everyone was celebrating him after Week 1. Oh, how Jets’ fans emailed me to tell me I was a fool for doubting what EVERYONE but me knew (that Sammy D. was great). Well, enjoy losing to Miami and Cleveland with 1 TD/4 INTs…and about 4 other INTs that could’ve easily happened.
Darnold was so bad in the second half of this game, by Mayfield’s measuring stick, that even the analysts are mocking/trying to distance themselves from Darnold now. Actually, Darnold was OK-ish in this game. He’s not the worst QB ever, he’s just a backup type QB with a very weak arm and no downfield ability. He’s a good game manager, kinda.
Darnold is going to get the head coach and GM fired and he’ll set the Jets’ organization back 3-4 years as they try to ‘fix’ him but he’s not fixable. He was just scouted wrong and now the Jets will pay the price of listening to people who are almost always wrong about these things.
Sorry Jets fans…your team is headed below the Browns for the next few years/decade. Let that sink in Fireman Ed…
If the Jets had made Teddy Bridgewater the starter, they’d be 3-0 right now. That’s how EXTRA dumb this Darnold thing is/was.
I don’t get suckered by the mainstream football intelligentsia…just entire NFL organizations do.
May 2019 Notes: Darnold would go on to throw 15 picks in 13 games in his rookie season, and before anyone cries 'but he's a rookie'...yeah, so was Mayfield, so was Dak Prescott. If you were named starter the minute you got drafted, in this era, a rookie QB has to do better. Darnold is going to fall short and I cannot wait for it to happen...because EVERYONE in football has some explaining to do...but they won't, just like they didn't on sure-fire star Jameis Winston.
-- Quincy Enunwa (4-57-0/8) is even MORE of a ‘buy low’ now. Should’ve had a TD, but tripped over his own guys -- but you saw what I spoke of days prior…little bubble screens for noodle-arm and the team using Enunwa like a quasi-running back. Just get him the ball and let him go.
He’s going to be WR1-1.5 this season in PPR. And the price just dropped because of this game/the Darnold factor…but it’s the Darnold factor that helps this be a thing. Darnold has to throw these dinky passes…it’s all he’s got and he’s pretty good at it.
It’s also why Robby Anderson (2-22-0/4) is screwed, like I said from this summer. Darnold can’t work well downfield. It’s almost like I knew the future…I did. When you really KNOW Darnold, you know how he’ll affect everything for fantasy.
May 2019 Notes: Enunwa would soon get hurt and get flushed down the drain for 2018. Bad call/bad timing by me, but I'm still a big Enunwa guy. You'll see...
-- Who on the Browns benefits from Baker Mayfield ‘happening’?
Everybody gets a bump, but two guys who might get a bigger kick…
1) Antonio Callaway (4-20-0/10)…he is the best athlete among the WRs, kinda like a homeless man’s Tyreek for him – it’s the only thing close to a ‘weapon’/athlete Mayfield has. Mayfield makes stars, so he might make Callaway since Gordon/Coleman are gone.
2) David Njoku (2-36-0/2)…I’m not a big fan of his but Mayfield makes stars and Njoku can be a mismatch nightmare. Sure, he’ll drop easy passes, but he’ll get some perfect placement throws from Baker to help him along.
May 2019 Notes: Both popped on and off with Mayfield, but no true consistency. Njoku was rolling for a bit, but then flopped.
-- Carlos Hyde (23-98-2, 2-5-0/3) benefits big-time. This is now a real offense that scores…so Hyde will be a 10+ TD threat as THE GUY. Also helping Hyde – Nick Chubb is awful.
And Duke Johnson (2-9-0, 2-24-0/2) is still a random RB3.5/bye week flex…because he is. Actually, I could see Duke getting back to RB2.5 in PPR if Baker so deemed it.
May 2019 Notes: Hyde can now be a 10+ TD guy for KC this year...
-- The Browns-DST benefits from sustained drives by the offense and ‘leads’. One of the most talented, young defensive groups in the NFL now gets a savior boost.
Larry Ogunjobi (8 tackles, 2 TFLs) is headed to the Pro Bowl and a great IDP season, as we’ve crowed about since last year.
Myles Garrett’s chances for 20+ sacks jumped because now teams will not always be winning and running out the clock. They will be passing a lot more against the Browns…because they’re in a shootout or losing, which is novel for the Browns.
May 2019 Notes: 0-fer-2 on those claims, but Ogunjobi will be a Pro Bowl'er.
If Hue Jackson names Tyrod as starter Week 4, I take it all back and put it on ice for another week until he goes to Baker. But the Baker stuff – act on it regardless. He’s the future and the future is now or after Week 4. If Hue announces Tyrod back as starter the fans may burn the stadium down.
May 2019 Notes: Hue did waiver a bit towards Tyrod, but then officially announced Mayfield. A few weeks from now, Hue would be a Bengals coach and Mayfield would be figuratively sticking a football right up Hue's ass and then staring him down while doing it. But for now, Hue actually doubled his win count as head coach over his last 42 games.
Snap Counts of Interest…
69 = Callaway
66 = Landry
54 = Higgins
45 = Hyde
29 = Duke Johnson
34 = Powell
29 = Crowell
-- College Football Metrics statistically scouts/grades 600+ NFL Draft prospects, and deeper studies 100+ prospects pre- and post-draft with detailed scouting reports and rank the top 300+ Dynasty Rookie Draft prospects (including IDP) every week throughout the offseason. See our home page for details on our various subscriptions.
-- The debut season of our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball is now available – Dynasty rankings for various scoring positions in downloadable/editable spreadsheet format for your use. Offseason strategy reports posting weekly…trade for/away, sleepers, deep sleepers, draft strategies, mock drafts, etc.
-- The 2019 Annual Fantasy Football Metrics Draft Guide will be available in June 2019 – the 2019 player scoring projections, rankings, special reports, commentary on 600+ players, IDP rankings…all updated daily/weekly throughout the offseason right
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