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 lost their fourth game in a row, the new coaching staff losing its debut...but also was the moment the Browns were about to win five of their next 6 games and capture the hearts of America, or at least the hearts of long-suffering fans in Cleveland.
2018 Week 9 Dynasty-Fantasy Analysis: Chiefs v. Browns
I think we all expected about this kind of outcome here – Chiefs score 35+ and win by 16. Seemed ‘normal’ on the live watch. However, on the re-watch I was impressed by how well the Browns played – I’d say this was maybe the best the Browns have played all season.
Consider the Browns were one CB down to start the game (Randall) and then lost their two best CBs pretty early – E.J. Gaines and Denzel Ward. They were only down 21-15 at the half…at KC. They were kinda hanging around all game, wouldn’t go away, just KC is so good and was too much.
In Week 9, some teams quit on their coach – the Raiders and the Lions. I wondered if the Browns’ coaching changes (to awful human Gregg Williams) would backfire, but the Browns played with a lot of spunk in this game.
The Browns are 2-6-1, and I bet they find another win or two…if they keep playing with a little spark.
The Chiefs are 8-1, and they need to keep winning because the Patriots keep winning. 15-1/14-2 is very likely for KC to the finish. Three pro bowl level defenders coming back soon/now.
May 2019 Notes: This was the Browns 4th loss in a row, but it also marked their turning point....as well a turning point was happening with KC, the Chiefs were about to fade into a .500 team ahead while the Browns would become one of the best stories in the 2018 NFL season.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let me just say…Baker Mayfield (29-42 for 297 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) is really playing well. Considering the terrible offensive line and the coaching turmoil and the revolving door of practice squad WRs.
The offense run under new O-C Freddie Kitchens was better than Hue-Haley’s…it was smoother, less under duress for Mayfield. In addition, the Browns have WRs upgrading all the sudden (from nothing to something) and I want to touch on that because it has FF ripple effects…
Rashard Higgins (3-19-0/4) made his return and he’s a very capable/solid WR. Someone Mayfield can trust. With so much coverage going to Jarvis Landry, Higgins could see 4-5-6+ catches a game ahead…especially if the Browns are losing/in shootouts. Higgins could be Cleveland’s Willie Snead.
The real shocker – Breshad Perriman (2-36-0/6, 2-9-0) came back from the dead here. Not only was he second among all Browns’ WRs in targets this game, he got two rushing attempts on jet sweeps, etc. Full credit to Freddie Kitchens pushing a former super-talent and 4.26 runner.
Perriman has shown star potential in flashes with Baltimore. Keep an eye out here that he doesn’t push aside Antonio Callaway in the games ahead.
May 2019 Notes: Higgins, Callaway, and Perriman would be erratic in targets, output, and staying healthy the rest of the way. The Browns WR group was a revolving door week-to-week in 2018, which makes what Mayfield did even more amazing in that context.
-- As the WRs start to return/rise up, David Njoku (4-53-0/5) isn’t such a desperation target for Mayfield anymore. His numbers have been ticking down the past two weeks, after a few hot weeks prior. It looked like Njoku could be a top 5 TE threat…but he’s more and random/good TE1 versus being a ‘strong’ TE1 as the WRs beef up.
-- Duke Johnson (9-78-2/9) looked more like a purposed receiver in this game than at any time this season. You’d think the targets/numbers tell an obvious story, but you never know if ‘game flow’ or a bunch of cheap/dump off targets late as the game is ending – no, this was Johnson used as a plan and Mayfield recognizing how easy the option is for him.
Again, I liked everything about the way the Browns ran their offense here. I ‘buy’ that Duke Johnson can sustain as a decent PPR back…better than Riddick-Richard types. I ‘buy’ that Mayfield is improving/a beneficiary in this.
May 2019 Notes: If you bought in, you would have sold quickly after this...there was no sustained uptick with Duke Johnson -- which is why he will be traded or cut before the 2019 season begins.
-- Nick Chubb (22-85-1, 1-5-0/1) is a winner/loser on all this.
Winner because the offense is showing signs of being competent.
Loser, in that he’s not as much a part of the passing game…Duke Johnson slices into him hard in PPR.
May 2019 Notes: Soon enough Chubb would start to get the passing game work from Duke, and become a full RB1 in PPR and non.
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-- The Chiefs were the Chiefs, on offense…not much new to say.
One thought – If Sammy Watkins is going to miss this week with a foot injury. Demarcus Robinson (1-3-0/2) is going to play and possible have a game, especially if the Arizona game is a joke. I still believe Robinson not Conley benefits from Hill or Watkins going down.
May 2019 Notes: It was 'neither' backup stepping up most of the 2nd-half of the season. Conley had a good game or two, but mostly ignored.
-- I have to note again…someday Dorian O’Daniel (3 tackles) is going to be an IDP starter in fantasy. Man, does he look good…every week…in 20-30% of the snaps.
-- Speaking of the KC-DST…it is a legit play ahead/for the playoff run.
You’ll get your chance at them Week 11-12 when they hit LAR-BYE back to back. They’ll be dropped in many cases. However, you may have so many LAR-KC players on a BYE, you have no room to stash a 2nd DST.
Weeks 13-16: OAK, BAL, LAC, SEA…I think you can play them in all 4 games because of their unique set up – blowing teams out and playing for sacks, picks, etc., because they can gamble with big leads or full confidence Mahomes answers opponent scores at will.
Key defender Daniel Sorensen is returning this week. Justin Houston and Eric Berry could be any time now. This could be a shocking DST to the finish. One that gives up 25+ points but does a whole lot of other good fantasy things.
May 2019 Notes: Ummm...no. Berry never came back 'right'. The KC defense and team faded away. They allowed 33-24-29-38 points over Weeks 13-16. We dropped this case after we saw the 33 points allowed Week 13 at Oakland.
-- Fantasy Playoff Outlook for these teams…
KC likely has to keep pressing to the finish to stay ahead of NE for the #1 seed, of which the Patriots hold the tiebreaker. Week 15 vs. LAC could be for the AFC West. KC could lose Week 11 to the Rams and then they really need to win out for #1 seed hopes.
As it stands now, KC likely plays to the finish or pulls up in Week 17 not needing the game.
Cleveland’s nice schedule run comes top an end in the FF playoffs. It might not be too bad but CAR and at DEN Weeks 14-15 isn’t great. Possibly, Denver is out of the race too and rolling over. If you need the Browns fantasy assets to flourish Weeks 14-16, hope that Denver falls out of the playoffs and into chaos…likely.
May 2019 Notes: Denver did fall out of the race, and surprisingly Cleveland entered the race late...beating Denver at Denver Week 15.
Snap Counts of Interest:
73 = Landry
39 = Callaway
29 = Higgins
21 = Perriman
20 = Ratley
37 = Chubb
35 = Duke J
48 = Watkins
34 = Conley
18 = D Robinson
52 = Hitchens
36 = Ragland
33 = O’Daniel
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