NFL Week 10 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 7 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
Wow. Just wow. Week 10 is almost over and it’s leaving behind many a broken fantasy season in its wake. And not just fantasy, reality as well. Raise your hand if you took either the Saints or the Colts in your Survivor Pool. Yeah, me too. Brutal. So brutal. There was a lot to love about this week and there just might have been even more to hate. So let’s wade through this river of tears and get busy dishing out some Week 10 Hot Takes.
Ryan Tannehill is the leading candidate for MVP
I’m sure this hot take will go over like a lead balloon, but facts are facts and since Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback for the Titans, offensively, the team is light years ahead of where it once was. With Marcus Mariota as the starter, the Titans went 2-4 and averaged 16.3 points per game. With Tannehill as the starter, they are 3-1 with an average of 26.3 points per game. They’ve beaten the Chargers after Melvin Gordon returned, Bruce Arians and the Bucs and yesterday, they came back down the field to take down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. As the starter, he’s sporting a 71.3% completion rate with an average of 254.3 passing yards per game and has eight touchdowns to just three interceptions. While players like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are getting all the glory, Tannehill is quietly turning the Titans into a potential playoff contender. At 5-5, they are still 1.5 games off the division lead, but neither the Texans nor the Colts look like they can stave them off. If the Titans squeeze into the playoffs on the shoulders of Tannehill, win or lose, this guy deserves all the credit.
Greg Roman is the Ultimate Guy Behind the Guy
Sorry, Lamar Jackson owners, but while the second-year QB has immense talent and game-changing abilities, if it wasn’t for the addition of Greg Roman to the coaching staff, we just might be looking at the latest incantation of Vince Young. The college game is one thing, but to succeed in the NFL as a mobile quarterback, Roman is the ultimate whisperer. He did it with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and he did it with TyRod Taylor in Buffalo. His ability to game-plan and teach a young quarterback with great legs and good but not great passing skills is beyond reproach. Between his tutelage, a supportive, veteran backfield led by Mark Ingram and talented pass-catchers like Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews , Jackson is learning how to read defenses properly and scheme against them with the help of all his weapons. Roman has done a fantastic job at teaching him how to lean on the rest of the team and not fall back into bad habits he developed over the years. There’s a reason guys like Kaepernick and Taylor regressed without Roman and if he ever leaves, the first thing you should wonder is who is keeping Jackson on the straight-and-narrow. The discipline Roman provides is the key to the Ravens’ offensive success.
The Falcons are Only Delaying the Inevitable
If I see one more report saying that team owner Arthur Blank is using this week as his time to evaluate the team and the coaching, I am going to lose my freakin’ mind. We heard it for three-straight weeks leading up to the bye and the Falcons were still atrocious. Now they come off the bye and, after having two full weeks to scheme and prepare for a match-up against the Saints, they win and Blank is still saying the same thing. Really? Listen, I get it, firing a coach puts a team in shambles the rest of the season and you have to spend the entire offseason, not just looking for a new coach with a solid track record and game-plan, but also watch how everything is implemented and whether or not, it truly is a good fit for the team. Oh no! You mean you have to work? What a friggin’ nightmare! At 2-7, this team is still lost and with four-straight divisional games followed up by a meeting with the 49ers, things aren’t likely to get better. Did they get away with one here because the Saints looked like they were sleepwalking their way through this game? Yes. Will that translate to wins moving forward? Doubtful. And after probably two more losses, we’ll be hearing how Blank is going to use the rest of the season to evaluate something he already knows is a mess.
Ronald Jones Will Be the Only Consistent Fantasy Producer on the Bucs the Rest of the Way
The above headline could also be read as: Jameis Winston sucks at football. Can we just agree on that, please? With Bruce Arians finally committing to Ronald Jones as his lead back (even though Peyton Barber still saw way too much work), we will finally get to see what an Arians-led offense can do for a running back. Remember when he had David Johnson in Arizona? It was a thing of beauty. Now go back and look at Jones, not just carrying the ball in the first half, but the extensive pass-catching he provided. Trusting Winston to sail the ball downfield has been something we’ve learned not to do as he makes ridiculous mistakes and throws more errant passes that leave us scratching our heads than we would like to see. But instituting a more chain-moving, short passing game utilizing the running back will not only help Winston from throwing another 14 interceptions, but it will help the Bucs control the clock, provide more time-consuming, sustainable drives and win more games. The days of treating Winston as some talented gunslinger who can thread the needle downfield should be over. Maybe that sucks for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin , but at least Jones will be productive.
Freddie Kitchens and the Browns Offensive Line are Killing Nick Chubb ’s Value
It was all laid out for you in the first half of the Browns’ tepid win over the Bills. Eight times in one series, thanks to two DPI in the end zone, the Browns had the ball on the Bills one-yard line and they walked away with zero points. Zero. On the downs where he actually handed off the ball to Chubb, the offensive line was complete crap. They got absolutely no push against the Bills defensive line and just when you thought there was a chance to push through the next time, Kitchens kept the ball in Baker Mayfield ’s hands and watched helplessly as he missed his target. The goal-line run-blocking scheme was complete garbage, they tried using Kareem Hunt as a lead-blocker instead of a proper fullback or extra tight end and, rather than just run it up the gut, they tried some off-tackle plays that continuously resulted in either no gain or a loss of yardage. After walking away with no points Kitchens started using Hunt more and established him as a third-down option. Yuck! Chubb walked into this game as one of the top backs in the league and now he’s walking out with a role in a shared backfield. Gross.
Clearly, he was not ready to come back when he did. All the stories about him doing a box-jump onto the trainer’s table to prove he was healthy are meaningless. The results are on the field. Who rushes for one yard on 13 carries? Who? Now yes, you can blame the offensive line for allowing so many Jets into the backfield, but Barkley is supposed to be invincible, right? Crazy fast? Super-elusive? Where was that yesterday and where has it been in the four games since his early-return? His work as a pass-catcher has been fine, but over the last four games, you’re looking at 2.6 yards per carry and no more than 72 rushing yards in a game. There was no need to rush him back. The season, thanks to an array of injuries, was a lost one anyway. Did you think rushing Barkley was going to solve your problems? Clearly it hasn’t as you’ve lost six-straight games, including all four since his return. Perhaps he should be taking a page out of A.J. Green ’s book and just not play this season. Save your body the wear-and-tear, get a nice, high draft pick for next season and when everyone else is done with their head, knee, ankle and shoulder issues, you all can move forward with confidence for the 2020 season.
The Steelers Defense is Channeling its Inner-Big Ben
If you listened to the NFL DFS Podcast with me and Jon Impemba, you would be dancing around like the Keebler Elf. Why? Because we told you to use the Steelers defense for DFS. Yup. We did. Go back and listen. The Steelers defense, at home, is money in the bank. Just like Big Ben used to be. Remember all that, “He sucks on the road, but play him at home” stuff everyone was saying? Well, here we go with the defense. And to hammer the point home, in the Playbook, I finished up the analysis with the following: “…the statistical splits we see at home vs away for this team – 26 sacks, seven interceptions, seven fumble recoveries and an average of 13.4 fantasy points per game at home. The road stats don’t look nearly as delicious.” If you whiffed on it this week, you’ve got two more bites of the apple left – Week 13 vs Cleveland and Week 15 vs Buffalo. If the Steelers are somehow sitting on your waiver wire, that’s some fantasy playoff tastiness!