Is Eli Manning Done?
and Brandon Marshall
are out for the year, and Sterling Shepard
could miss some time as well. But let's focus on the loss of Beckham, a generational talent in the prime of his career, and its impact on Manning.
As a Giants fan, I've watched just about every Manning game, and I remember the ugly years after they won their second Super Bowl and before Beckham joined the team four games into his rookie season. Here are his numbers with and without Beckham since 2012 and 2013, respectively:
|from 2012 ||G ||Comp ||Att ||Comp % ||Pa Yds ||Pa TD ||INT ||YPA
|w/o OBJ ||38 ||775 ||1293 ||0.60 ||9194 ||54 ||51 ||7.11
|with OBJ ||47 ||857 ||1351 ||0.63 ||9343 ||68 ||31 ||6.92
|from 2013 ||G ||Comp ||Att ||Comp % ||Pa Yds ||Pa TD ||INT ||YPA
|w/o OBJ ||26 ||454 ||757 ||0.60 ||5246 ||28 ||36 ||6.93
|with OBJ ||47 ||857 ||1351 ||0.63 ||9343 ||68 ||31 ||6.92
The YPA is fairly constant - just below league average in both cases, but what really jumps out are the interceptions and lack of TDs when Beckham's not on the field.
Much of that is due to Ben McAdoo taking over the play calling in 2014 - so much dink and dunk passing that the completion percentage goes up, the interceptions down and the YPA plummets with it. But the YPA stayed almost constant, despite so many short throws, because Beckham (8.9 career YPT) is on the field.
Put differently, Beckham enabled Manning to get nearly the same YPA and greatly increase his TD production, despite playing in a low-risk, low-reward system. With Beckham gone, either Manning's YPA is likely to plummet, or the Giants will be behind so often, he'll be forced to take more chances, and the inteceptions will surge again. Or it could be a little of both. In either case, the Giants will hopefully use their presumably high pick on his successor.
Equanimity and Good Karma
I'm the type of person who gets angry when I feel I've been cheated or treated unfairly. It can be a person, a company with which I'm doing business or a ridiculous sequence of events in a football game. It's not so much the source of the bad outcome, but the injustice of it. And there were few outcomes more unjust than losing against the spread on the Redskins last Monday night - recall the Chiefs returned a fumble for a TD
on the last play of the game.
Usually, I'd be beside myself, stewing on that cheap loss for days, cursing all the nutless monkeys
who got credit for picking the Chiefs. But because I've been practicing a philosophy of radical subjectivity
this year, it didn't bother me that much. My process isn't rigorous, so I can't be attached to it, and I'm not responsible for outcomes, either. Sure, I'm rooting for wins, but it's not my problem when it goes the other way. My motto this year is: "To hell with process, and to hell with results." And on Wednesday, I handicapped the games as usual, with not a thought about what happened the previous week. As it turns out, I went 10-3-1 ATS, and I like to think picking with a clear and unburdened mind was helpful. But again I can't get too caught up in the actual results. By my subjective scoring I was 14-0, picking every game exactly as I saw it, even the Steelers who turned out to be the most off base in "objective" reality.
Maybe this is but another excuse to tell a story I've told at least 50 times by now, but a similar thing happened once at the poker table six years ago. Jeff Erickson and I were playing at Ballys, and I got dealt A-7 in late position. I can't remember how we got to the flop, but there were a few of us, including Jeff and me. The flop was 7-7-6. Jeff bet $20, I made it $60, saying "You don't want a piece of this, Jeff," but that donkey was all-in, forcing me to push as well, and everyone else folded. We turned the cards over: he had 10-7.
Of course, the card on the turn was a 10, and Jeff took all my money, probably about $250. I wasn't happy about it, and normally something like this might set me on tilt, but for whatever reason I didn't care that much. It was poker - bad beats happen, sometimes in your favor. I bought back in for another couple hundred, and a few hands later looked down and saw A-J of spades. Again, I can't remember how we got to the flop, but there were two other players in, and it was K (hearts), Q (spades) and 10 (spades). I had the nut straight and was four to the Royal.
At this point, I should mention there was a high-hand bonus at Ballys. I didn't know specifically what it was for a Royal Flush, but it was definitely much more than you could win at a session of 1-2 No Limit. Accordingly, I checked - I needed to keep people in to see another card. Someone bet some amount, the other guy folded, and I called. Turn card was the King of spades.
I can't remember if I checked or bet, but the other guy pushed all in because he made his lower flush, was worried I had the ace of spades and didn't want me to see a fifth card. My two biggest regrets are: (1) Flipping over the Royal immediately rather than studying his face for 30 seconds and pretending to agonize over the call; and (2) Not taking a photo. But more the latter, especially when a guy came by and put a rack of green chips next to my stack.
Afterwards the poor sap who went all-in to a Royal as well as Erickson's undeserving carcass and everyone else at the table each got $100 just for being in the presence of greatness while it happened. Looking back, it struck me how unusually untilted I was after the earlier bad beat - it was just so uncharacteristic of me.
Full disclosure, I did see a double rainbow (which I photographed at 90 mph) while driving to Vegas the previous day, so the Royal could actually have had more to do with that than the karma brought about by my equanimitous attitude.
Week 5 Observations
The Texans-Chiefs was an incredibly frustrating game on several levels. First off, I was 10-2 against the spread heading into it, and I had the Texans plus 1.5. Not only did J.J. Watt
and Whitney Mercilus
get hurt on the first series, but Alex Smith
converted about eight third-and-longs in the first three quarters. Every time the Texans defense was set to get off the field, they'd give up a 16-yard catch. I've never seen a team dominate first and second downs and get shredded on third down so consistently.
The amount of garbage time for Deshaun Watson
and DeAndre Hopkins
was unbelievable. Two TD passes to Hopkins after the game was over, the second with literally no time left on the clock, and a two-yard, two-point conversion run for good measure. Watson is Russell Wilson
but with Brett Favre's mentality – he has no conscience when it comes to slinging the ball downfield into coverage and letting his receivers go get it. With the Texans defense decimated, I'd expect a lot of shootouts. Watson is a top-seven QB, and Hopkins is a top-three receiver.
ran well, but 15 carries is his sweet spot. D'Onta Foreman
fumbled, but is a monster to bring down.
is playing out of his mind – like a poor man's Aaron Rodgers
, scrambling, throwing on the move, attacking the deep intermediate areas of the field with precision. We've seen glimpses of it at times during his career, but it makes you wonder why no one turned him loose before.
Like last week, Kareem Hunt
quietly got to 100 yards and had a few receptions. The only disappointment was Charcandrick West
catching two touchdowns.
caught four of six targets for 68 yards, but didn't make a huge impact until his punt return TD in the fourth quarter. And what an ill-advised punt it was – the Texans were down 12 with 8:57 and had a 4th-and-5 from their own 30. The Chiefs were moving the ball at will all day against their tired defense, missing two of its stars. Terrible decision from Bill O'Brien.
Speaking of terrible coaching decisions, why did Jason Garrett call a 2nd-and-2 fade to Dez Bryant
on the Cowboys final drive? They had three plays to run for a first down and get closer to the goal-line while using up the entire clock. By stopping the clock before Dak Prescott
's TD, they gave Aaron Rodgers
more than a minute with a timeout to win the game on the final drive. Garrett was too worried about scoring and not thinking enough about what would happen next. He was coaching the way I play pool – one shot at a time, rarely considering the leave or thinking in combination. That's why I'm a below-average pool player, and he's a bad coach.
is the greatest quarterback I've ever watched. I'm 46, so I've seen peak Joe Montana, Steve Young, Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning
and Tom Brady
. Rodgers is better than any. At the start of the final drive Troy Aikman mentioned how far the Packers were from game-tying field-goal range, and I thought: "Field-goal range? The Cowboys wish."
I'm beside myself because I dropped Aaron Jones
in one of my NFFC leagues two weeks ago (he was buried behind both Ty Montgomery
and Jamaal Williams
), and had the second-highest bid to reclaim him this week only because I reduced it when it looked like Montgomery and Williams might play. Jones looked so quick and decisive, I doubt Montgomery ever gets the job back as he's battling through sore ribs, and by the time he's 100 percent, Jones will have locked it down.
I'm not sure why Jordy Nelson
wasn't on the field for the final drive, but Davante Adams
has the same rapport with Rodgers on those back-shoulder red-zone throws. Were anything to happen to Nelson, Adams might be the favorite to lead the NFL in receiving TDs.
One again, the announcers were sucking up to Jason Witten
"future Hall of Famer!" but Witten had 10 targets for 61 yards, i.e., 6.1 YPT. A nutless monkey could get 6.1 YPT.
scored a TD, but the Cowboys simply do not go out of their way to get him the ball the way other teams often do for their top receivers.
Zeke Elliott did fine, but the Cowboys offensive line isn't blowing open the holes it used to.
I watched quite a bit of the Seahawks-Rams and came away thinking Jared Goff
and that offense were for real, despite the turnovers and underwhelming showing. Goff made good throws and showed some ability to scramble, but it was also the quality and unpredictability of the offensive play calling, leading to open receivers and easy looks. The Rams offensive line also played well until the second half of the fourth quarter.
Pete Carroll almost blew the game by settling for the field goal to go up six on 4th-and-2 from the 12 with 1:09 left. if the Seahawks get the first down the game would have been over, and if they failed, the Rams would have been backed up to the 11 and playing for the tie instead of the win. Moreover, the Rams would still have had to make the field goal once they got into range. Instead, Carroll decided to have his team make the field goal, kick the ball off, giving the Rams better field possession than had they turned it over on downs at the 11, and risked losing the game outright had the Rams scored a TD, which very nearly happened when the ball went through Cooper Kupp
's hands in the end zone.
No one on the Seahawks did anything on offense, but the end-zone fade to Jimmy Graham
was encouraging – he's 6-7, and the team's three top receivers are all shorter than 6-0.
had a big game, but Robert Woods
stood out as a playmaker, able to get open and catch the ball against a tough secondary. Sammy Watkins
had some downfield looks but none we're especially close. He's a buy-low though.
and Melvin Gordon
switched places yet again.
There's not much to say about the Ravens-Raiders. Joe Flacco
was solid, but didn't throw a TD, and EJ Manuel
isn't long for the job.
is still the lead back and pass catcher, but Alex Collins
is more efficient. And Terrance West
actually started before getting hurt.
What a disastrous year for Amari Cooper
so far. And I thought he was one of the safest players on the board.
So much for the Ben Roethlisberger
home/road split theory. Or maybe the Jaguars pass defense is really that good. It's hard to know because the Jaguars played such weak opponents before this.
I lost another Survivor entry on the Steelers, and you have to wonder whether Roethlisberger is done. He contemplated retiring this offseason and speculated after the game that maybe he didn't "have it anymore."
had 19 targets, 10 catches and 155 yards. It wasn't a masterpiece of efficiency but volume is king. Le'Veon Bell
had 10 catches of his own, but for 46 yards.
simply didn't have to do anything, so he didn't
is approaching top-five overall territory. His 90-yard TD to seal the game and pad his stats was old school fantasy football – Terrell Davis or Emmitt Smith used to tack on massive totals against tired defenses late in games.
is having a nice start to Year 2, but he's spreading the ball around quite a bit, so none of his targets besides Zach Ertz
is especially reliable.
is better than Mike Gillislee
, and this might even be the case in fantasy despite Gillislee's fast start and ideal location.
had 10 targets for 51 yards. I'm not sure where Week 3 came from.
caught nine more passes. He has 24 targets and 18 catches the last two weeks, 32 targets and 23 catches the last three.
The silver lining in Beckham's injury is he gets time to come back 100 percent healthy, the Giants are more likely to get a franchise QB in the draft, and it'll be more obvious they need to fire Ben McAdoo and put Eli Manning
out to pasture.
All the star quarterbacks of the 2004 class (Roethlisberger, Manning, Philip Rivers
) are looking old. Maybe they need to get on Tom Brady
's (2000 class) diet.
Both Orleans Darkwa
and Wayne Gallman
ran well, but maybe it was the Chargers run defense.
had a monster game, both as a runner and receiver, and he passed the eye test, too – breaking tackles and hitting the hole decisively. But the Giants run defense has been one of the worst in the league this year, though it's hard to explain since most of their players from last year's excellent run defense are back (Except Johnathan Hankins
who has helped solidify the Colts run defense.) Perhaps despair has kicked in the way it seemed to for the Rams last year under Jeff Fisher.
continued the Giants streak of allowing TDs to tight ends, and he would have had a second one but for a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. It's now six in five games.
caught only four of 12 targets and had a couple drops. Tyrell Williams
saw only two targets.
At least Beckham had the decency to get hurt after putting up good numbers for you, a courtesy which Charles Clay
, DeVante Parker
, Bilal Powell
and Brandon Marshall
did not extend.
had great matchups the last two weeks and was terrible in both. Against the Titans, he had 92 passing yards, 3.5 YPA and a pick. He's still not up to speed, and you have to wonder how long the Dolphins will stick with him.
There's hardly any point in analyzing the Matt-Cassel-led Titans. They just need Marcus Mariota
Parker was spotted on crutches after the game, so it looks like his ankle injury could keep him out. It's unfortunate because he was in the midst of a breakout, despite the terrible environment, and he's also on a couple of my teams.
played hurt last week and got completely stuffed against the Colts. Apparently he's healthy, but this is one of the perils of using backs on weak teams.
ran extremely well, scored a touchdown and nearly scored a second. The Colts are still wasting carries on Frank Gore
's carcass, but Mack is worth a pickup nonetheless.
is one of the best per-play receivers in the league and had his second huge game with Jacoby Brissett
under center. Hilton had 177 yards on only nine targets.
The 49ers seem to like deep threat Marquise Goodwin
(11 targets, 116 yards) to go along with possession man Pierre Garcon
. Tight end George Kittle
caught seven of nine targets for 83 yards and a score too.
It looks like Cam Newton
's game against the Patriots was no fluke. On the road again, and against a much more stout Lions defense, Newton had 10.8 YPA, 355 passing yards, three TDs and no picks.
I mocked people for picking up Ed Dickson
just because Greg Olsen
went down. You don't pick up a career blocking TE just because the guy ahead of him was a Pro Bowl pass catcher. But Dickson's 175 yards are the sixth most all time
for a TE (per Pro-football-reference.com.) I wanted to say that was more than Olsen's ever had, but it isn't true – last year, Olsen had 181 yards (3rd) against the Bucs.
had another underwhelming game – 6.5 YPA, 229 passing yards. Dink and dunk isn't going to get the Lions anywhere against good teams.
Up 27-10 with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, penny-slot Ron Rivera bizarrely opted for a 55-yard field goal attempt. It was 4th-and-19, so going for it wasn't a good option, but this was the one time in his life he should have punted and didn't. It's like the guy on the penny slots impulsively put $100 on black while passing by the roulette wheel. Graham Gano
missed the kick, the Lions got the ball on their own 45-yard line (mid-field after a penalty) and nearly mounted a comeback.
People are excited about Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, and he got a touchdown, but let's not overdo it. He had eight targets for 29 yards against the Browns.
The announcers were also excited about rookie David Njoku
who made a nice one-handed TD catch, but he saw only three targets, fewer than Ricardo Louis
, Bryce Treggs
, Kasen Williams
, Seth DeValve
and Rashard Higgins
, and the same number as running backs Isaiah Crowell
and Duke Johnson
was so bad he got pulled for Kevin Hogan
, and Hogan actually played well – 10.2 YPA, 16-of-19, 30 rushing yards and two TDs. I'd expect Hogan to start at Houston next week.
left early in the game, but Elijah McGuire
did not capitalize – rushing for only 20 yards on 11 carries. With the Jets at 3-2, we might see Matt Forte
's carcass back as the starter again yet.
The Bengals should have blown out the Bills but for two interceptions off A.J. Green
's hands and a subsequent Green fumble. Andy Dalton
had 9.1 YPA while Tyrod Taylor
had a meager 4.5.
You have to feel for Taylor though – the Bills traded away Sammy Watkins
, let Robert Woods
walk in free agency, lost Jordan Matthews
to an injury, and Charles Clay
went down in the first half. Nick O'Leary
and LeSean McCoy
were Taylor's top targets.
Speaking of which, McCoy has been bottled up since Week 1 and is now averaging a meager 3.2 YPC on the year. Last year he averaged 5.4 YPC.
Like McCoy, Joe Mixon
is getting opportunities, but he simply can't get it going behind the Bengals weak offensive line.
Why was Sam Bradford
cleared to play? He was a statue on the field and went down at the slightest touch from the Bears defensive line. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes on IR this week. I wish Bradford had stayed in though because I would have won my fantasy matchup and also covered rather than pushed against the spread.
I also would have won my matchup had I not started Tyler Lockett
at the flex over Jerick McKinnon
. McKinnon could be a force the rest of the way because the Vikings offensive line is far better this year, he catches passes, he's fast and he can make defenders miss. Latavius Murray
didn't look terrible despite the meager per-carry numbers, but his upside is low.
Apparently Stefon Diggs
was bothered by a groin injury, but he returned to the game. None of the Vikings receivers did much with either quarterback.
(5.1 YPA) had terrible stats in his debut, but he passed the eye test for me, and this despite his biggest play and only TD coming on a tipped pass that could have been picked. He moved well, threw accurately and seemed awfully poised for someone taking the field for the first time during a standalone national game. The receivers will hold him back stats-wise, but the Bears could have a franchise QB.
had a good game, and it should have been a great game had his long TD run not been nullified by a ticky-tack holding call on Markus Wheaton
. There were a couple other calls that struck me as fishy, but the NFL is so full of discretionary holding, hands to the face and personal fouls, it's impossible to know without doing a rigorous study. And though I am a conspiracy nut, I almost never suspect malfeasance in sporting events when incompetence serves as a perfectly good explanation. But this game set off my radar a bit.
In any event, Howard has a little bit of Le'Veon Bell
in him – lots of patience waiting for the right hole and good feel for getting the most of what's blocked by twisting and propelling forward while being tackled.
couldn't find any room – he needs more space at the outset.
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