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Another game for the Ravens in 2015, and another game they shoulda/coulda won…but lost. The Ravens are not playing great football, but they’re not playing terrible football either–they should not be 0-3.
The Bengals offense, especially the passing game, is clicking, obviously. The Bengals are going to be a tough out all 2015. However, we’ve all seen this before where the Bengals, and Andy Dalton, get really hot and look like world beaters, and then ‘the next thing you know’ they pull the rug out on everyone, and are stumbling into the playoffs with everyone blaming Andy Dalton for the bad play—and then losing in the first round. I hope for Dalton’s sake he makes it back to the playoffs and wins one to get people off of his back.
Dalton is playing fantastic football, and all you get among national football analysts is “Look, how the trained monkey is even throwing some feces in the right direction occasionally! It’s funny, because he has orange hair. Ha Ha…now back to thinking up more nicknames for Dalton that involve his hair color because it’s hilarious! Look at the size of my paycheck for this nonsense!” Man, we really got inside their thoughts deeper than I expected…
— Tyler Eifert (0 rec. on 3 targets) had no catches on three targets, but he was so close to four catches for 50 yards and a TD.
Eifert got a screen pass early, and bolted for 18 yards, but it got called back for an ineligible receiver downfield. A little later, he caught a 2-yard TD pass, and that was overturned on a very close judgment call. He also had a key target slanting one-on-one in the red-zone heading towards a quick TD catch, but the defender made a nice play to knock it away. Much later in the game, another beautiful screen pass setup was made for Eifert, but a rushing D-Lineman reached batted it in Dalton’s face before the ball could make its way to a wide-open Eifert…with plenty of area to run.
So before you hate Eifert on his goose egg, and try to ‘sell low’ in a panic–realize there were many things out of his control that took away a 10-15 FF point game and turned it into a big fat zero. He’s a ‘buy low’ not ‘sell low’ right now. Purposeful screen passes, and two end-zone shots—Jimmy Graham wishes he got that love from his team…
— Sometimes you just get lucky. Late rounds in many redrafts, back in August, I started drafting Steve Smith (13 rec. for 186 yards and 2 TDs on 17 targets) more than I ever have–just based on the fact that I did not trust the Breshad Perriman’s injury. As I looked at rest of the Ravens’ WR group, I realized Smith was going to be an overwhelming number one target for Joe Flacco to start 2015. I’ve never been a huge Steve Smith fan, but the computer logic made sense, and we moved him up our draft rankings higher than many around the globe, and many of us were able to get him late/cheap in drafts, but I never imagined it would work out like this.
Smith will probably have FF-legs for several more weeks, because even when Perriman gets back it’s going to take a few weeks for him to get integrated. Smith is an elder statesman, so there is a fear he tails off, physically, in the second half of the season…coinciding with Perriman likely debuting/getting up to speed.
— The reason I think Marvin Jones (5 rec. for 94 yards and 1 TD on 8 targets) works so well as a Cincy #2/useful for FF is two-fold:
1 = He has proven that he works well, and has a connection with Andy Dalton.
Marvin Jones gets a bad rap, or deserved rap, for being an up & down performer—I think because of the injuries, and the fact that he’s in the shadow of A.J. Green. Over Jones’ last 16 games, going back to 2013 and including a playoff game, here are his numbers:
9.9 FF PPG (14.7 PPR) on 61 catches (3.8 per game), 923 yards (57.7 yards) and 11 TDs (0.69) = Jones’ last 16 games
You may wisely shout, “But he had that 4 TD game versus the Jets, and that screws everything up on averages!” And you would be wise to do so. In that 16-game stretch, allow me to take out his best (Jets) and worst game (1 rec. on 7 targets), and the ‘per games’ are as follows:
8.7 FF PPG (14.4 PPR) on 5.7 catches, 57.4 yards, and 0.50 TDs per game = Jones last 16 games less high/low games
Those are pretty consistent near/around top-24 WR PPR and non-PPR type numbers. He does all this on lower targeting, and I think that spooks some folks as well (like me): 5.9 targets per game in his last 16 games.
He’s a definite WR3/Flex you can count on, but you have to live with (like most all WR3/Flex guys) great output (off a TD) one week, and boring (no TD) the next. You guess wrong on inserting him in the lineup, and you’ll hate him. However, there is hope for upside to consistency because he is more experienced, and Dalton’s playing great, and…
2 = The Cincy running game ‘blows’…
I told you Jeremy Hill (12 carries for 21 yards) was trouble, and that Gio Bernard (13 carries for 49 yards, 3 rec. for 34 yards on 4 targets) was average. All those who traded Jeremy Hill, or avoided drafting him, because of our infamous “Rewind” reports—remember me in a few weeks when I discuss 2016 ‘Rewinds’ more.
If you got away with highway robbery trading Hill ‘high’ weeks ago on my advice, my message to you:
The Bengals have arguably the best O-Line in the NFL, Dalton sacks in 2015 = zero, and still the duo of Hill and Gio can hardly get of their own way on most carries. Because of the O-Line, whichever of these sad sack RBs is getting the touches will have FF-value. I take Gio, like everyone, because at least he gets targets/catches. However, you can have them both because I don’t want to worry about “We gotta get Hill going” talk for the next 3-4-5 weeks.
— The Ravens deserve to lose any time that Crockett Gillmore (3 rec. for 40 yards on 3 targets) goes down, that they turn to wildly unimpressive rookie Maxx Williams (3 rec. for 44 yards on 7 targets). The best looking TE on that team is rookie Nick Boyle (2 rec. for 19 yards on 2 targets).
Watch for Boyle to out produce Maxx on Thursday night…in my mind. The reality: NFL coaches will go with high-pick Maxx Williams, and perish…while I complain about it. Boyle is not a FF-stud, he’s just better than Williams or Crockett, as an all-around TE—to me eyes.
— Ravens DT IDP Brandon Williams (8 tackles, 4 solo, 2 TFL) led all Ravens with 8 tackles in this game, driving his season-to-date numbers to an impressive (for a DT) 5.33 tackles per game.
Over his last 16 games, including playoffs, Williams is averaging 3.8 tackles, 0.10 sacks and 0.38 TFLs per game. Our computer scouting models were big fans when he came out of Missouri Southern State. He’s tied with Aaron Donald for the third most solo-tackles in the NFL among DTs.