Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 16
Dan Malin recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw!
With the season winding down, I’m not sure how many of these takes will necessarily pertain to the 2020 season. Most fantasy leagues are done at this point, save for the few rolling into Week 17. And don’t worry if you are in a situation like that, our content will continue to roll out as scheduled. But for now, this article and next week’s will focus more on the postseason and 2021 season. Thanks for reading over the last few months! This is one of my more enjoyable articles because I get to “let loose” per se and be more of an idiot than usual.
The 2021 Jaguars Will Be The 2020 Chargers
Okay, so they’re not identical but there are similarities. First-round quarterback making waves in their rookie season? It sure looks like that’ll be the case. Undrafted running back leading the backfield? Check. Good weapons on offense? This one’s a little reach, but Trevor Lawrence has options between DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, Keelan Cole (that’s if he’s re-signed though), etc. Both offensive lines are a work in progress, and the defenses aren’t very good either although in the Chargers’ case they were (once again) dealt some untimely injuries. But the Jaguars offense has the makings of having a similar trajectory to the Chargers. The 2019 Chargers actually improved record-wise from 5-11 last year to potentially 7-9 this year if they can beat the Chiefs next week. And next year’s Jaguars will be under a new head coaching regime and that’s likely to be one of the more sought after positions knowing they’ll land a franchise quarterback. But it shouldn’t be hard for the Jaguars to improve on a one-win season. It would truly be a bold prediction to say Lawrence performs to the standards of Justin Herbert. Herbert’s been fantastic as a rookie and we shouldn’t hold every rookie to the same expectations. However, there are similarities and with the right head coach, this offense could make some noise.
Next Season Will Be The Year Of Zero RB
Fantasy football managers and enthusiasts are reactionary creatures. Myself included! (Remember Collin Johnson being WR1 in Jacksonville?) But this was a tough year to draft a running back in the first round. Christian McCaffrey played just three games, Saquon Barkley had a cup of coffee, and others were disappointments including Ezekiel Elliott , Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Joe Mixon , Josh Jacobs , Kenyan Drake , Miles Sanders, etc. Even Alvin Kamara had a rough stretch when Taysom Hill was under center. So it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Zero RB trend rear its ugly head in 2021. And when others zig, I shall zag. This was a bizarre year. Teams didn’t have a traditional training camp. There were no preseason games. Everyone was thrown into the fire without a helmet, not like the helmet would prevent third degree burns anyway. We were bound to see more injuries than normal and that proved to be the case and this stigma will linger into August when mock draft season begins. And if that’s going to be the case, I’ll continue to take running backs early. I’ve dodged bullets in the past with the Zero RB theory, but overall I can’t pass up one or two running backs getting 15-18 carries per game. We will have a closer return to normal in 2021 than 2020. The running back position is already the most injury prone in the league, but it’s arguably the most important for fantasy football. But we can expect fewer injuries next year with a proper training camp for each team and some preseason action.
Week 17 DFS Is Like Preseason DFS
Week 17 is awful. I don’t enjoy it for DFS purposes. I may sound like an old man yelling at clouds, but I typically go very light because teams will be resting players. The Chiefs are the obvious candidate. They have the first-round bye locked up and Andy Reid is known for resting his players. There’s no sense in risking Kansas City’s superstars. Other teams that are at risk could be Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, Tennessee, etc. All those teams still have seeding to play for, but as the games and slate move forward and the playoff picture becomes more clear, then we’ll have a better idea of which players may not be playing a full game. As of Monday, I can’t tell you who to play and I can’t tell you who to fade. It’s a loaded slate with every team playing on Sunday and 30 totals teams on the docket for Sunday’s main slate. The Wild Card and Divisional DFS slates are better than Week 17. The only thing weirder than Week 17 DFS will be the fact that there will be a playoff game on Nickelodeon.
The Bears Deserve A Playoff Spot Over Arizona
This likely won’t come to fruition simply because it’s the Bears and we’ve seen Matt Nagy screw things up before. The Bears have to host the Packers next week with Green Bay on the cusp of locking up a first-round bye. The Cardinals have to play Los Angeles. And I can’t even begin to tell you who wins that game because the Rams have scored just 29 points in their last two games and the Cardinals looked like they had righted the ship but then put up a dud against San Francisco. The Bears aren’t without their faults. Perhaps they pulled the trigger too soon on replacing Mitchell Trubisky earlier in the year. Hand up, I was on board with it. But since he’s reclaimed the starting job he has the Bears currently in the last playoff spot ahead of Arizona. For all their flaws, the Bears have been fun to watch lately. David Montgomery has been rolling and the offense in general has scored 30+ points in four straight games for the first time in 55 years. It feels weird to say but the Bears are more of a playoff team at the moment over Arizona. And it still feels like they’re going to lose the last spot to Arizona, who have lost four of their last six games and are wildly inconsistent. We kind of know which team will show up for Chicago now. We don’t get that kind of clarity for Arizona, but it feels like the Cardinals sneak into the postseason over Chicago somehow.
Tua Will Get Miami Bounced From The Playoffs Early
For the second time in as many months, Tua Tagovailoa was benched for poor play. Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and saved the day for the Dolphins to keep the team at 10-5 and in the playoffs. And in one of those break-your-brain decisions, Brian Flores has said Tua will start next week as well. And I just don’t get it. The Dolphins are 10-5 and have a rookie quarterback that you’ve benched twice for poor play and your backup seemingly breathes new life into the team whenever he’s on the field. And he’s a guy who did nothing to lose his job in the first place. Tua once told Mike Florio he expected the transition to the NFL to be “a lot harder” and now he’s been benched twice. Head coach Brian Flores has said it would be shortsighted to bench Tua based on the Raiders game. If that’s the case then it was extremely shortsighted to bench Ryan Fitzpatrick for no reason at all. Miami goes to Buffalo next Sunday afternoon. The conditions won’t be terrible in upstate New York next week, but there’s about a 40-degree difference in temperature right now between Miami and Buffalo. The Bills defense has been better of late and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tua struggled in this matchup only to have Fitzpatrick try and save the day once again. This game could actually be a preview of a first-round matchup in the playoffs depending on how other games in the AFC shake up on Sunday. Either way, expectations for Tua are incredibly low at the moment.
Are The Jets Good?
Haha No. As Terry Bradshaw once said “I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.” I think that was also a quote on Spongebob Squarepants, but either way, two-win teams are not good. However, they’ve been surprising some teams of late after we were all duped into thinking they were tanking. Turns out they’ve been trying their best. But Sunday’s win over the Browns comes at the expense of the Browns playing without any wide receivers. And if the Raiders don’t score on a late Hail Mary to Henry Ruggs a few weeks back then the Jets would be winners in three of their last four games and the Raiders would be riding a six-game losing streak. But we’ll take it all with a grain of salt because since the firing of Gregg Williams the Jets have held the Rams to 20 points and the Browns to 16 with seven sacks, three forced turnovers, and a blocked punt in the two-game span. They have not been the pushovers most people thought they’d be and dare I say, they’re a great punt in DFS next week at just $2,300 on DraftKings. They play the Patriots next week who can’t seem to generate any momentum with Cam Newton under center. The Jets could very well finish the season on a tried and true three-game winning streak. It can’t possibly be enough to allow Adam Gase to keep his job, but he hasn’t been fired to this point so anything is possible.
The One-Seeds Will Make The Super Bowl
I was really trying to put into words how I feel about the new playoff format with seven teams. With the top speeds being the only teams that receive a bye week, we’re in for some pretty predictable results. And if we’re delivered a Chiefs/Packers Super Bowl, so be it. That should be fun with two explosive offenses. I believe before yesterday’s games started the Chiefs had a 54% chance of reaching the Super Bowl. As of this morning they’re a +170 to win it all again and the Packers have the next-best odds at +600. But nobody really stacks up to these two teams at the moment. They’re both healthy for the most part, they have homefield advantage on lockdown (not officially yet for Green Bay), and they’ll be hosting games in outdoor, cold conditions. With only one team from each conference getting a bye week that presents a distinct advantage for those teams in terms of rest and staying healthy. Over the last seven years, all 14 Super Bowl participants had first-round bye’s in the playoffs. The last team to make the Super Bowl without a bye week was Baltimore but they did go on to win the whole thing. But it goes to show the week off certainly helps and now that the two-seeds are playing in the Wild Card round, it’s that much more of an advantage for the teams that lock up a bye week. I’m trying not to sound like a complainer, but rather I’m aiming to be more critical if that makes sense. For 2020 the writing seems to be on the wall. We’re due for the Chiefs and Packers to meet in February, a rematch of Super Bowl I.
The Bucs Are Peaking At The Right Time
Yes, I do believe we’re bound to see the Chiefs and Packers in the Super Bowl because of the importance of a bye week. However, the Buccaneers present the best option to unseat Green Bay in the NFC. That’s right, not the Saints. I’m still not fully buying into the Saints even after Alvin Kamara ’s historic game on Christmas night. Kwon Alexander ’s season is done after being traded to New Orleans less than two months ago. Remember how bad the Bucs looked heading into their bye week? They lost three of their previous four games, Tom Brady ’s body clock was on the fritz due to playing after the sun went down, and the defense looked a little exposed. Fresh off a bye week and plenty of power naps for Brady, the Bucs are a whole new team. They’ve won three straight albeit against weaker competition, but they absolutely shellacked the Lions on Saturday. It was 34-0 at halftime and Brady only needed one half to throw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. The defense has 13 sacks over their last three games with 48 points allowed in that span as well. As it stands right now, the Bucs are trending in the right direction and present the best challenge to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The NFL’s COVID Protocols Will Somehow Play A Role In The Postseason
We’ve seen games be re-scheduled, we’ve seen Tuesday night football, and even Wednesday afternoon football. We saw the Broncos have to start a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback, and we’ve seen the Browns just this past week, play without any effective wide receivers. Plus, it’s colder this time of year and we’re seeing a spike in COVID cases. Would anybody be surprised if the COVID protocols came into play in January and we had to see a game get pushed back a day or two, or possibly more? The biggest concern is that it hurts a team similar to what Cleveland experienced last week. And that would really screw a team. If there was anything to derail Kansas City’s Super Bowl run it would be a COVID outbreak in the quarterback room. I’m not trying to jinx it or predict a certain instance for any one team, but it would surprise me quite a bit if the NFL got through the playoffs unscathed.