This article is part of our East Coast Offense series.
Horse Before The Cart
When you're a kid watching the NFL, you take things at face value. The team that won the game is the better team and scoring the touchdown or kicking the field goal is the most important event. As you learn more about statistical indicators and predictive metrics, you realize the key play was the converted 3rd-and-12 at midfield, not the one-yard TD, and even though Team A seemingly won easily, Team B dominated them statistically, but for two fumbles and a blocked punt. After a while, you stop watching the game on its own terms and instead look for indicators. You look for which team does the kinds of things that win games, rather than which team is winning this particular game.
Indicators are great – they help you project the future more accurately than if you were only to consider narrow scored-based results. But they also only go in one direction – forward in time. But once the event happens, the indicators within it have no relevance because games occur in the present and move into the past. If indicators are not how we settle NFL games – and they plainly are not because wins are solely determined by points scored – then why would one watch an event through that lens? How can one be so obsessed by what was likely to happen rather than what's actually happening in right in front one's face? It's a disease to always be focused on tomorrow and never on the present reality.
Let's not get lost in time, so to speak, using the future (what's likely to happen based on past) to negate the present (what's actually happening.) And perhaps the best coaches (and players) can sidestep the probable for the actual in real time, see the truth about the event itself and make the necessary adjustments. To put the horse before the cart.
Week 11 Sporcle Quiz
Apropos of nothing, can you name all the players who have intercepted 30 or more passes since 2000?
Guessing The Lines
|Game||My Line||Guessed Line||Actual Line||ML-AL||O/U||Actual O/U||MO-AO|
|Cardinals at Seahawks||3||3||3||0||53||58||-5|
|Bengals at Football Team||3||3||1.5||1.5||47||46.5||0.5|
|Falcons at Saints||7.5||8||4.5||3||48||51.5||-3.5|
|Steelers at Jaguars||-9.5||-9||-10||0.5||46||47.5||-1.5|
|Patriots at Texans||-3||-4||-2.5||-0.5||45||47.5||-2.5|
|Eagles at Browns||3.5||6||3.5||0||49||48||1|
|Lions at Panthers||3||2.5||2||1||53||49||4|
|Titans at Ravens||3||4||6.5||-3.5||51||49||2|
|jets at Chargers||10||11||8.5||1.5||47||47||0|
|Dolphins at Broncos||-4.5||-6||-3.5||-1||48||45||3|
|Cowboys at Vikings||7.5||8.5||7.5||0||53||49.5||0|
|Packers at Colts||4||3||2.5||1.5||49||51||-2|
|Chiefs at Raiders||-3||-3||-6.5||3.5||54||56.5||-2.5|
|Rams at Buccaneers||3||3||3.5||-0.5||51||47.5||3.5|
It looks like I'm on the Titans (again), as I think they're roughly equal to the Ravens and getting 6.5, the Saints (I know Jameis Winston looked bad, but the drop-off from this version of Drew Brees isn't that steep) and the Raiders (that's a big number on the road against a decent team.)
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind in Beating The Book.
Week 10 Observations
- The Ravens are a good team, but laying seven on the road in Foxborough was a tall order, especially in bad weather. Bill Belichick knows how to slow games down, use the running game and short, easy throws to generate first downs and have his defense bend but not break. While the Ravens could have won with a play here or there, they were never close to covering the number.
- Lamar Jackson was okay under the circumstances, save the one interception to a receiver that was well covered. He ran effectively and made some nice escapes, but the offense lacks consistency and rhythm.
- Gus Edwards was the only effective back, and it's impossible to use any of these guys locked in a four-way time share (including Jackson) now that Mark Ingram's back.
- Mark Andrews (9-7-61) saw regular looks, had one drop and had a big play called back on a hold. He's still a top-five-ish TE. Marquise Brown (6-2-14) has disappeared from the offense, and by the time he has a monster game, it'll likely be on your bench.
- I drafted Justin Tucker everywhere because he's the GOAT and was presumably on a top offense, but not only have the Ravens regressed, but half the kickers in the league are drilling 55 yarders like never before. He's still my top kicker, but the gap has narrowed considerably.
- Cam Newton played well in a caretaker role, but outsourced a passing TD to Jakobi Meyers, who seems to be the new Julian Edelman (former QB and No. 1 WR.) Meyers (7-5-59 plus the passing TD) is almost an auto-start at this point.
- Damien Harris (22-121-0) doesn't get much goal line work and didn't catch a pass, but he sure was convincing between the tackles, cutting well, running people over and extending for extra yards.
- Rex Beasthead (6-31-0, 5-4-35-2) seems to have surpassed James White (2-2-8) in importance to the offense.
- The Bengals got crushed, but Tee Higgins (9-7-115-1) is emerging as their No. 1 WR, making A.J. Green (5-0-0) an afterthought.
- Ben Roethlisberger and his big three WR – Diontae Johnson (11-6-116-1), Juju Smith-Schuster (13-9-77-1) and Chase Claypool (10-4-56-2) – all produced, but James Conner (13-36-0, 2-2-12) didn't do much. There's room for three of the four most weeks if they keep the tree this narrow.
- Drew Brees injured his ribs and gave way to Jameis Winston, who did not look sharp. With Brees likely out a few weeks or more, Tom Brady will probably own all the all-time passing records.
- Alvin Kamara (8-15-2) had a tough go of it on the ground, but scored twice and went 8-7-83-1 as a receiver. He and Dalvin Cook are far and away this year's most valuable fantasy players.
- Michael Thomas (7-2-27) hasn't found his footing yet. What a lost season for a top-six pick.
- Jerick McKinnon (stinger) and JaMycal Hasty (collarbone) both got hurt. The Niners are on bye next week, but it would be crazy if they were without their top five (Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson) players at the position.
- The last two games (seven turnovers) threw freezing water at Russell Wilson's MVP chances. Not that he couldn't still win, but Patrick Mahomes and even Kyler Murray are right there with him. The Rams also sacked Wilson six times. Even all-time greats are dependent on conditions.
- Jalen Ramsey shut down DK Metcalf (4-2-28), but no doubt the pass rush helped. More teams should have ponied up when Ramsey became available at the deadline last year.
- The Rams backfield is now a three-headed monster, and none among Malcolm Brown (6-33-2, 2-2-18), Cam Akers (10-38-0) and Darrell Henderson (7-28-1, 1-1-5) can be started with much confidence.
- The NFC West has a three-way tie, and its best team, if everyone were healthy, is in last place
- DeAndre Hopkins' game winning Hail Mary catch was insane, but not in the way Odell Beckham's one-handed TD five years ago was, or even like some of Hopkins own sideline toe-tapping plays in the past. He was more like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, calmly aiming and shooting, while everyone around him was freaking out. No one has surer hands or better focus. Of course, that Murray even was able to escape the rush, roll left and throw against his body to get a catchable ball into the end zone was insane too.
- While Wilson's ridiculous pace has slowed, Murray's kept going. He had 245 passing yards, one TD, 61 more rushing yards and two more rushing TDs. He'll eclipse Lamar Jackson (2019) for the greatest fantasy QB season of all time if he keeps it up.
- Maybe it's random but Chase Edmonds seems much better as the change of pace to Kenyan Drake than as a starter.
- As lucky as the Hail Mary was, the interception off Larry Fitzgerald's hands that were on the ground two drives earlier was just as unlucky.
- Cole Beasley (13-11-109-1) is a player. He was solid in Dallas for a few years, but he's been even better and more important with the Bills. The 5-8 WR also made a leaping catch at the sidelines on a play that made me think he could dunk a basketball.
- Speaking of absurd kicking in 2020, Tyler Bass made FGs of 54, 55 and 58 yards in the first half!
- Always bet on the Dolphins. They outperform their metrics with a blocked punt or turnover seemingly every game. (Some would say that's a reason to fade the Dolphins as they're getting lucky.)
- Salvon Ahmed (21-85-1, 1-1-5) looked good again this week, and it's not clear he's giving back the job even if/when Matt Breida and/or Myles Gaskin return.
- Justin Herbert had his first bad game – 5.8 YPA, one pick – but he still had two TD passes and the easiest QB sneak of all time.
- Devontae Booker (16-81-2, 1-1-2) had a nice revenge game in relief of Josh Jacobs (21-112-2, 4-4-24), but it was mostly of the mop-up variety in a blowout win.
- If you thought Jon Gruden didn't know how to coach because he mocked analytics in a press conference, you might want to adjust your evaluative criteria.
- Drew Lock is scrappy enough to be a backup QB, but too sloppy and inaccurate to be the long-term starter.
- I had Ronald Jones (23-192-1, 2-1-6) on my bench in two of three leagues, but even after losing a fumble, he had a monster game, thanks in large part to a 98-yard TD run. Leonard Fournette (8-19-0, 3-2-11) did little, but I doubt Jones is in the clear.
- Tom Brady had 341 passing yards on 8.7 YPA, three passing TDs, no picks and one rushing TD, and that was with missing Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown on wide open deep throws. I realize he was facing the Panthers, but an offense with two 31-YO Hall of Famers and two Pro Bowlers (Chris Godwin and Mike Evans) in their primes should be fun.
- Joe Judge has the Giants ready to play every week, no matter the venue or opponent (except for that one game against the 49ers), but he punts on 4th-and-short in plus territory like a troglodyte from the 1970s.
- Daniel Jones has played better the last two weeks in part because the offensive line has been decent, and also because he's secured the football and forced fewer throws. His rushing ability (9-64-1) gives him a decent floor too, as the schedule eases up in early December.
- Wayne Gallman (18-59-2, 2-1-7) is the team's bell cow. He's running hard, competent enough and getting all the goal-line work.
- Darius Slayton (7-5-93) left early with a shoulder injury, but came back to lead the team in receiving. He had a great catch on the sideline to help seal the game too. Sterling Shepard (6-6-47) is the other main target, while Evan Engram and Golden Tate were afterthoughts.
- Graham Gano just got a new deal and why not? His only miss this year was on a 57-yarder, and he's made four kicks from 50-plus.
- Carson Wentz' longest completed pass was 22 yards to tight end Richard Rodgers. Travis Fulgham (5-1-8) disappeared entirely too.
- Miles Sanders (15-85-0, 5-2-10), looked healthy, but he dropped two passes and lost goal-line work to Corey Clement.
- The Eagles are still in first-place, but the Giants are very much in the NFC East race.
- The Packers haven't been the same since they got annihilated by the Bucs a few weeks ago. Aaron Jones, in particular, hasn't been taking over games the way he did before his injury.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6-4-149-1) is erratic, but he's gaining trust as the team's deep threat. Davante Adams (12-8-66-1) will usually get his in fantasy even if it's not especially efficient. Adams also would have had another TD but for a holding call and was caught from behind and fumbled on a slant that a faster wideout might have taken to the house.
- Keelan Cole (7-5-47-1) kept the game close with an additional return TD. It seems like he's always produced when given an opportunity, but the Jaguars don't seem like an especially functional franchise.
- I'd like to thank Matt Prater for nailing the game-winning 59-yarder and preserving the cover (WFT +3) rather than letting it go to overtime.
- Alex Smith passed for 390 yards, but it was spread out between a lot of receivers – no one had 100 receiving yards.
- D'Andre Swift (16-81-0, 5-5-68-1) finally got a real workload and did not disappoint. He could be a league winner down the stretch. Marvin Jones (10-8-96-1) is far and away the team's No. 1 with Kenny Golladay out.
- I had Nick Chubb (19-126-1) in two leagues and the Browns minus three, so I wasn't especially pleased when he took a knee rather than score what almost certainly would have been the game-winning TD. That's two pushes (that and the Cardinals who knelt rather than kick the PAT) that could have been wins had the teams wanted.
- Duke Johnson (14-54-0) didn't do much in his revenge game, but maybe he wasn't that motivated given his new team has underused him just as much as the Browns (and for David Johnson's and Carlos Hyde's carcasses.)
- The Bears slowed down Dalvin Cook (30-92-0, 4-4-16), but it wasn't enough as Kirk Cousins made only one mistake, got 8.1 YPA and found his receivers.
- Adam Thielen (7-4-43-2) and Justin Jefferson (10-8-135-0) are the narrowest of trees, though Kyle Rudolph (5-4-63) got extra targets with Irv Smith out.
- Nick Foles was under pressure the whole night, managed only 4.1 YPA and took two sacks before being carted off late in the fourth quarter.
- Cordarrelle Patterson (12-30-0, 2-2-19) provided the only offense with his eighth career kick return TD, tying him for the most all time. Allen Robinson (9-6-43-0) was the next best fantasy player for the Bears, while Jimmy Graham was shut out.
- The Bears defense couldn't get enough pressure on Cousins, who even converted a few second and 20s after holding calls. It was a tough watch if you had the Bears and the points.