Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 17
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!
Miami Should Use The Third Overall Pick On A Quarterback
I know the Dolphins took Tua Tagovailoa in the first-round last year. And they probably still believe he’s the guy. I don’t particularly agree with them, and I don’t think it hurts to have a backup plan. Most mock drafts will have the Dolphins selecting Penei Sewell to bolster the offensive line. But I’ve complained too much to not comment on the poor finish to the season by Miami. They finish 10-6 and miss the playoffs. That’s a good season, but they made the decision early on to start Tua over Fitzpatrick after Fitzpatrick led the team to a 3-3 start. Tua led the team to a 7-3 record to finish the year, but not without Fitzpatrick coming in to save a couple games. Fitz was inactive on Sunday so he couldn’t come in to save the day after Miami got bulldozed by Buffalo.
So now Miami enters the 2021 NFL Draft with the third-and-18th overall picks in the first round. The Laremy Tunsil trade to Houston continues to pay dividends. And since I don’t think Tua is very good, Miami should be looking at a quarterback. And I don’t think this is so crazy. In the history of the NFL we’ve seen teams take multiple quarterbacks in the same draft. In 2012, Washington took Robert Griffin III in the first round and came back with Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. The Carolina Panthers technically ended up with three quarterbacks in the 2010 draft. And I remember when I was just five months old during the 1990 draft the Dallas Cowboys took Troy Aikman with the first overall pick and then followed that up by taking Steve Walsh with a first-round pick in the 1990 Supplemental Draft. That cost them the first overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. It clearly didn’t kill the future dynasty as they still landed Emmitt Smith with the 17th overall pick that year. But I digress. We’ve seen crazier things happen and I don’t see Tua as a franchise quarterback. I’m know I’m a little harsh on a rookie quarterback coming off a pretty serious hip injury. But if he doesn’t make significant improvements next year, Miami could regret missing out on Justin Fields or Zach Wilson.
The Bills Are The Best Bet To Beat The Chiefs
This isn’t necessarily a hot take but go figure that the Bills win the division for the first time since before South Park was even around and with 13 wins, they still have to play in the wild card round. The state of New York is even allowing fans to attend this game, that’s how big of an impact this team has on its fanbase. Tickets are also going for over $13,000 a piece on the secondary market. Imagine how many tables or buffalo wings you could buy as a Bills fan with $13,000. Regardless, the Bills are peaking. And we’ll be robbed of a proper AFC Championship game if it isn’t Kansas City vs. Buffalo. Even in a somewhat meaningless game on Sunday they still put up 56 points and kept Miami from making the playoffs (good riddance). Any other season and the Bills are looking at a first-round bye. But not this year and they’ll have a stiff matchup against Indianapolis. But Buffalo’s offense is rolling. The defense hasn’t been doing so bad since their bye week either. They’ve allowed just 18.3 points per game over their last six games with 11 sacks and ten forced turnovers in that span. Not to mention, they’ve scored four defensive/special teams touchdowns over their last four contests as well. The Chiefs are a handful, but the Bills pose the biggest threat to unseating them as the AFC champions this year. A lot of teams struggle going into the elements at Arrowhead Stadium, but the Bills are used to the colder weather and can stir the pot. Josh Allen and Co. are carrying a lot of swagger into the playoffs and would be a fun team to watch against Kansas City for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Seattle’s Riding The Ugliest Four-Game Winning Streak Ever
My dad is a big Seahawks fan so this was actually one of his takes since we were texting during the game and it kind of makes sense. The last few weeks featured more of the same from the offense: Russell Wilson running for his life. And it honestly doesn’t get any easier against the Rams this week. Overall this team looks out of sync. Wilson has now failed to reach 230 passing yards in four straight games. Not to mention he was sacked 11 times total in two games against the Rams this season. Jamal Adams looked a little beat up and could be dealing with an injury of his own, which sucks in its own right because he’s the heart and soul of the defense. The Seahawks struggled to win a meaningless game against San Francisco on Sunday. This doesn’t bode well for their Wild Card round matchup against the Rams, who should be getting Jared Goff back as well as one or two other pieces on offense.
Jonathan Taylor’s Sophomore Slump Is Coming
It was a season of high’s and low’s for the rookie out of Wisconsin, but he went scorched Earth over his final four games rushing for 560 yards and seven total touchdowns, including a huge day on Sunday where he ran for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Colts locked up a Wild Card spot. Overall, he finished with 1,169 rushing yards and a dozen total touchdowns. Almost half of his rushing numbers came in the final four games against a softer schedule. If Philip Rivers doesn’t return to the Colts in 2021 that won’t exactly help Taylor either. We did see Taylor struggle earlier in the year, but he found his groove down the stretch against a weaker schedule. His finish to the year is similar to what Miles Sanders did last season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Taylor go in the first-round next season, which seems like a bit of a reach. The best offensive line in the NFL certainly didn’t play like it at times and rival teams now have plenty of tape on how to properly scheme for the Colts running game. And if a lesser player is at quarterback one year from now then what reason do defenses have to respect the passing game? It’s fine to marvel at Taylor’s finish to the season, but don’t let it cloud your judgment.
The Eagles Royally Screwed The Giants
I don’t know what that was last night, but it was the ultimate screw job by Philadelphia. It wasn’t quite as blatant as a fantasy football manager purposely benching his roster to try and get a better matchup in the fantasy playoffs, but it looked pretty obvious they didn’t want the Giants making the playoffs. On top of what was already one of the worst halves in the history of football, the Eagles pulled Jalen Hurts in the second half for Nate Sudfeld . Hurts was having a bad game by his standards after he completed just 35% of his pass attempts, but he also had two rushing touchdowns. The Eagles still had a shot to win the game and if they had done so, the Giants would have snuck into the playoffs with six wins. Doug Pederson alluded to possibly getting Sudfeld some playing time earlier in the week, but why? If it was a blowout, sure bring him in for some reps. But the Eagles were only down three when they decided to not go with Hurts or even Carson Wentz . This seemed to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of New York Giants players since the Eagles were mailing it in.
Why on gods green earth is Jalen Hurts not in the game— Darius Slay ton (@Young_Slay2) January 4, 2021
If we’re being honest though, the Giants had ten other games they could’ve won to have put themselves in a better spot to win the division. It’s a better story for Washington to make the postseason, sure. Ron Rivera’s battle with cancer, Alex Smith potentially losing his life/leg to being the comeback player of the year, the team changing its name, etc. are all storylines that have followed the organization and they’ve made the team fun to cheer for. But a six-win team in the playoffs would have been downright embarrassing. So sorry Giants fans, your team had no business in the postseason. At least we’ve seen seven-win teams previously make the playoffs. At the end of the day it’s pretty obvious the Eagles colluded to keep the Giants from making the playoffs.
Matthew Stafford Is The Next Patriots Quarterback
I’m not going to make myself out to be some contract/salary cap guru, but I’ve read enough articles that have vouched for the Lions saving about $20 million if they release Matthew Stafford . There may be some ramifications regarding his salary still counting a little toward the cap, but by all accounts, it looks like the Lions are going to blow it up and start over. You’ve got a talented, young running back and some pass catching weapons. Get a quarterback and build up the defense, that’s their priority. But it looks like Stafford’s time in Detroit could be over and I’m sure his wife has never been happier. New England looks like it could be a decent fit. The Patriots have about $60 million in cap space, they’ll have some players return next season that opted out this past year, and they won’t be bringing Cam Newton back. Safe to say that experiment didn’t quite work out. Stafford turns 33 in February and still has some gas in the tank and it looks like it would be a decent solution in New England to bring him in. Is he a long-term problem? No. Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports. Elite quarterbacks are a valued commodity but if New England can bring Stafford in and make some other acquisitions in free agency (looking at you, Hunter Henry ) then New England could certainly be more competitive next season than they were this year. 7-9 isn’t truly terrible, but it’s obviously not good. But they pulled out seven wins on the back of Tom Brady leaving, numerous free agent departures followed by other players opting out, and the offensive weapons were a who’s who of misfit toys. Stafford can get more out of said weapons than Newton did this year.
The Falcons Re-Build Will Not Take All That Long
I’m a Patriots fan living in Atlanta so Super Bowl LI was quite the time to be alive. I have really enjoyed watching the Falcons struggle the past three seasons. It’s been a treat. Julio Jones turns 32 next month and Matt Ryan turns 36 in the Spring. They’re not getting any younger and the front office knows that. Honestly, they may be better served seeing what trade value those two have. But the Falcons have two pivotal interviews on Monday for their vacant head coach position: Robert Saleh and Eric Bieniemy. Both are worthy of head coaching gigs but Saleh wouldn’t be a great fit. He’s a defensive-minded head coach and the Falcons have a ton of problems to fix on both sides of the ball. Bieniemy is long overdue for a head coaching opportunity. Houston is probably the best fit for him, but if the Falcons can somehow entice him to come to Atlanta, that could mean big things for an organization with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft with a clear need for a future quarterback. Perhaps they select Justin Fields, a Georgia native who never quite had the opportunity with the Bulldogs so he transferred to Ohio State and put on an absolute show over the weekend against Clemson. Hire Bieniemy. Draft Fields. Those two steps can go a long way to regaining the confidence of your fanbase. Atlanta sports fans have had it fairly rough the past few decades, save for an MLS Cup championship. A homegrown kid as the franchise quarterback and an offensive-minded head coach from the Andy Reid coaching tree can begin the process of turning things around.
Don’t Forget How Great Some Players Were
Whenever draft season rolls around there are always an abundance of questions regarding injured star players from the year before. A torn ACL is pretty tough, but with the right time frame a player can return from it within nine or ten months. Or if you’re Adrian Peterson , a fortnight will do. But don’t downgrade Christian McCaffrey because he only appeared in three games. He didn’t even suffer a debilitating injury that officially ended his season. It was unfortunate that an ankle and shoulder injury limited him to just three games where he was constantly a week-to-week call. But don’t forget about the 4,000 total yards and 32 touchdowns from the previous two seasons. McCaffrey is still a top five pick and if others are letting him slip then you can reap the benefits toward the back end of your draft’s first round. The same can go for Saquon Barkley if the Giants can continue to improve the offensive line. Dak Prescott was on pace to throw for over 6,000 yards before he broke his ankle. 5,000 yards is certainly more reasonable, but don’t lose sight of Dallas’ putrid defense and Prescott’s pass attempts volume. Joe Mixon burned fantasy owners with injuries this year as well. But that’s a team still trending in the right direction if they can figure out their offensive line problems. The 2020 fantasy football season took more than it gave, but don’t be one of those players that swears off drafting a player in the future simply because injuries did them in this year. That’s a terrible mindset that will likely hurt you more than it will aid you.
Tyler Lockett Is The Exception To The Last Section
I know I just preached about remembering “the good old days” with some players, but I think we can throw that notion out the window with Tyler Lockett . If you look at the broad scope of Lockett’s 2020 season, he finished with 100 catches (that’s great), over 1,000 receiving yards (still really good), and ten receiving touchdowns (still solid). However, on a week-to-week basis he was an incredibly frustrating player. In PPR formats he averaged about 16.6 fantasy points per week. That’s very good if he’s consistently giving you that production. But remember the outlier games for Lockett:
- Week 3 vs. DAL: Nine catches, 100 yards, three touchdowns
- Week 7 at ARI: 15 catches, 200 yards, three touchdowns
- Week 17 at SF: 12 catches, 90 yards, two touchdowns
The Week 17 matchup was useless for most fantasy managers but we’re looking at 36 catches, 390 yards, and eight touchdowns. Those three games accounted for nearly half his total production. In the other 13 games he averaged a shade under 11 fantasy points in PPR formats. So, while the overall numbers say he finished as a Top 15 wide receiver, just remember that most weeks he probably finished outside the Top 25 at the position.