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— Our offseason ‘Rewind’ reports are where we look at an individual player’s previous season(s) of work–analyzing and researching it for clues on whether it was a ‘blip’ performance, or signs of future greatness…or signs of a mega-bust approaching. We try to do two per week in the offseason. —
You might think a fantasy ‘Rewind’ report on Jalen Ramsey will be boring-ish especially if you don’t play IDP. Many longer time readers likely understand that Ramsey is talented and probably a threat to your opposing WR1 facing him – since I spent most of the 2016 season talking about Ramsey as the Rookie of the Year (along with Dak). What Dak Prescott did as a rookie QB was freaky, unusual. Ramsey can claim the same – who walks into the league and becomes a shutdown corner right away?
I will say this to my grave – had Dallas drafted Ramsey instead of Ezekiel Elliott, they would have been hoisting a Super Bowl trophy last year. Everyone celebrating Elliott and ignoring the miss on Ramsey is the height of football analysts not paying attention to anything, and having no understanding of positional values, etc. in the NFL. Someday, Dallas fans will look back with regret that the team didn’t draft Ramsey ahead of Elliott. But Elliott did jump into a giant Salvation Army kettle after a TD run, so that was so hilarious…worth a lot in wins and losses.
Back to Ramsey… Was he really as good as I said that he was in 2016? Is he just ‘good’…or is he a true shutdown corner? If he is a shutdown corner then there are serious reverberations for fantasy because of it…
1) If Ramsey is a true shutdown corner, then your #1 WR you love so much for fantasy is in trouble the week he faces Ramsey. For T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, and maybe Corey Davis...it’s even worse because they get him twice a season.
You do know the Jags’ pass defense was third in the league in yards per game allowed, right?
2) If Ramsey is a shutdown corner, then you better take the entire Jags DST seriously in 2017. They signed A.J. Bouye and Barry Church in the offseason. Jacksonville may have the best secondary in the NFL after Denver and maybe New England. The Jags might have a surprisingly good/great fantasy DST this season.
I went back and looked at a few specific games of Ramsey’s 2016, not his entire season. Why not all of it? I only needed to see him work against better QB-WR combos. Watching Ramsey hold down DeAndre Hopkins with Brock Osweiler at QB does nothing for me as a scout…because Osweiler is godawful. I only looked at games I felt were a challenge for Ramsey, and honestly there weren’t that many. I got a twinge of ‘maybe I’m overblowing Ramsey‘ when I looked over his schedule from 2016…a lot of bad QBs he had the luxury of facing.
I settled on watching Ramsey’s midseason game with Indy (not the Week 17 one). His game against Alshon Jeffrey (one of Ramsey’s worst, statistically). His game against Nick Foles/KC…did he cover Tyreek Hill or Jeremy Maclin? Finally, his game against Oakland…Carr/Cooper.
I’ll report notes of each game in the order I watched them…
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Week 4 vs. Indianapolis
T.Y. Hilton had 7 catches on 10 targets, but only 42 yards…although he did score a TD. My two standout notes: (1) It looked to me like Andrew Luck was totally avoiding anything to do with Ramsey. I’d go so far as to say Luck was scared of Ramsey…he barely looked the direction of a receiver covered by Jalen. (2) The more I watch Indianapolis Colts football, the more I wonder if Andrew Luck is really as good as everyone thinks. Not impressive at all here. I might have to do an Andrew Luck ‘Rewind’ soon…
Ramsey was all over Hilton in this game, when he wanted to be. Hilton’s TD catch was a 2-yard toss where Ramsey wasn’t covering him. Hilton’s catches came working away from Ramsey or very short/safe ones in front of Ramsey. Medium or deep for Hilton vs. Ramsey…no chance for Hilton. Ramsey is smooth in coverage, and long (reach). Luck had nowhere to throw near Ramsey and didn’t try for the most part.
Ramsey did somewhat give up a long TD to Philip Dorsett, as he was kinda lined up on Dorsett (with Hilton near by on the line) but Ramsey chose to break off coverage to chase Hilton cutting and left the safety with a streaking Dorsett, but the safety went for Hilton too and Dorsett was WIDE open…with Ramsey realizing the error and trying to catch up to no avail. Other than that, Ramsey roamed around handling all his business. Hilton looked helpless.
Week 7 vs. Oakland
Amari Cooper was held to four catches for 29 yards,…and was lucky to get that. Cooper had no answer for Ramsey. I will say this, after watching Ramsey for four games – he can play nonchalant a lot…because everything is so easy for him. He’s toying with WRs at times but allowing them some space…baiting them, maybe. But he gives space for short catches. However, Amari did something that made Ramsey mad and suddenly I saw Ramsey no longer aloof, but pressed right up on Amari for a stretch and hand fighting him off the snap…Amari is tough but Ramsey is bigger/tougher. Ramsey really shut off Cooper in this one. It was a war at times.
And again, QBs seem to know to stay away…they barely look in Ramsey’s direction. Carr did the same.
Week 9 vs. Kansas City
Nick Foles started for head-injured Alex Smith. Foles is a smart QB and made some plays in this game that were brilliant. Foles was also brilliant enough to avoid Ramsey. The unusual thing in this game was that Ramsey started out on Chris Conley. Tyreek Hill was a thing by now, and the Jags didn’t seem to have noticed. Ramsey started on Conley but moved to Jeremy Maclin a lot until Maclin got hurt, and then all on Tyreek (mostly) the second half…and Hill had one of his worst games of 2016. Ramsey even covered Travis Kelce some…you don’t see many corners pulling that off. From Conley to Tyreek to Kelce, a diversity of receivers, and Ramsey shut them all down.
The best game for KC was turned in by…Albert Wilson. That tells you a lot about the effect Ramsey had…when Wilson is the KC focus.
Week 6 vs. Chicago
I saved this for last because I remembered it the most. It was the game that Ramsey came of age/caught my full attention watching it last year.
Jeffrey had 7 catches for 93 yards. Much of it against Ramsey. Most all of it in the second half. It was a war. Jeffrey is a monster of a WR. I didn’t remember how good Jeffrey really was, how big/massive he is until watching him with a focus here. In the first half, he pushed/shoved off of Ramsey several times and made a bunch of timing catches and just outphysicalled Ramsey…and Ramsey was PISSED!!!
In the second half, Ramsey shut down Jeffery…and Jeffrey was PISSED!! Jeffrey was demonstrably frustrated as the second half unfurled…and as the Bears started losing. Ramsey was brilliant battling the behemoth Jeffrey. The final drive, final play to stay alive for Chicago…4th down and long. Jeffrey darted straight ahead and then quick-slanted to the middle for a first down/drive-extending catch…except Ramsey hung back, but near/with him, and then broke on the throw and nearly picked off the pass (he dropped it). Game over, Jags win. Ramsey was the MVP for his second half work. Ramsey so shut off Jeffrey in the second half that Brian Hoyer discovered a new option that worked for him – 11 catches for 113 yards for Mr. Cameron Meredith.
Ramsey has it all. He has elite speed/agility to cover any speedster WR at will, but he’s also big/physical/long enough to battle/shut off Alshon Jeffrey or Travis Kelce. The stats bear out the premise – most every opposing WR taking on Ramsey had horrible FF output. Those that did something usually did it away from Ramsey.
You have to know that if your #1 WR is taking on Ramsey in 2017…you’re in trouble. I can’t wait to see 2017 Week – Ramsey vs. Antonio Brown.
Ramsey was one of the most impressive CBs that I watched last season. The other is A.J. Bouye…who just joined the Jags as a free agent. Arguably, the best cornerback duo in the NFL aside from Talib-Harris and maybe Gillmore-Butler. The Jags defense will be a no-fly zone this year, potentially…shockingly.