What We Learned: 2021 Preseason
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
1. Jameis Winston is a liability
After another four interception performance in week ten (his third game with four or more turnovers this season) just one question remains... What's it going to take? When will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization admit their mistake, cut their losses and move on from Jameis Winston?
Winston has a 19:18 TD to INT ratio, four fumbles lost, and is completing just 59.6 percent of his passes through 10 games this season. He is 24-40 as a starter with a career win percentage of just .375.
Winston is in his fifth season. Of his 66 career games, he has just 18 games without a turnover, and six of those games (33 percent) came his rookie year. Dak Prescott, for example, was drafted in 2016, a year after Winston. He has 19 games without a turnover in the last three seasons alone. Of his 58 career games, Prescott has 29 games without a turnover.
Winston has 26 games with multiple turnovers (39.3%) under his belt. He has no less than five such games in any season. He has nine games with AT LEAST three interceptions. Russell Wilson, who has twice as many starts as Winston (122), has just three such games in his career.
Winston has BY FAR the most turnovers by any player since entering the league. Eli Manning was the only one giving him a run for his money, but since he's been riding the bench this season, Winston is running away with it.
For as long as Winston has been the Bucs QB, they've finished better than fourth (last place) in their division one time. They have yet to make the playoffs with him as their signal caller.
All of this damning evidence begs the question: when is enough going to be enough?
It seems like every week Tampa Bay and Bruce Arians have to convince the media that Winston is still their starter, and they still have faith in him. But how much faith can an organization possibly have? He was once described as a potential franchise QB, but the term that more accurately describes him at this stage of his career, is a liability.
Winston looks on in anguish as his fourth interception of the game seals the victory for the Saints - photo courtesy of TheAthletic.com
2. Patriots Defense still poses a major threat
After an uncharacteristic performance against the Lamar Jackson led Baltimore Ravens, football fans were ready to chalk the Patriots defensive prowess through the first eight weeks up to a soft schedule (the easiest in the league by FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics). After they were "exposed" by the Ravens, their start percentage in ESPN fantasy dropped from 97 percent in week nine, to 65 percent in week 11.
The skepticism was fair, considering the Pats surrendered 31 points and over 350 total yards of offense to the Ravens after no team came anywhere close to that in the eight weeks prior. But it is also fair to say there is no defense that has the answer for Lamar Jackson. After a week 11 beatdown of the Eagles, it's starting to look like the Patriots week nine performance against the Ravens was the real outlier.
New England held Philly to just 214 yards passing and 81 yards rushing (3.8 YPC). Carson Wentz completed just 50 percent of his passes (20-40) and finished with a passer rating of 74.4. The Eagles managed just 10 points in four quarters, and were shut out entirely in the second half.
The Patriots offense didn't fare much better, delivering another lackluster showing. In fact, the Pats finished with less total yards than the Eagles. But thanks to five sacks, a fumble recovery and an all-around phenomenal performance in the second half from their defense, they scraped out another win.
This Patriots squad reminded us in week 11 that just because they were torched by Lamar Jackson and the NFL's highest scoring offense, like pretty much everyone else, doesn't mean they are pushovers. Aside from back to back games against the Texans and Chiefs in weeks 13 & 14, the Patriots should be viewed as a top-three fantasy defense each week.
3. The Ravens defense is officially elite
Stalling the Patriots struggling offense is one thing, holding Deshaun Watson without a touchdown through four quarters is another...
In their last four games, the Ravens have allowed an average of 14.0 PPG scored five defensive TD's, and forced nine turnovers. What's more impressive is that three of those four teams were the Seahawks, the Patriots and the Texans. The only question mark surrounding this Baltimore defense (that is suddenly playing at an extremely high level) was the sacks. After recording seven against Watson in week 11, it's safe to say this defense is elite.
Over their last four games, they average 17.2 fantasy PPG. By FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, the Ravens have the sixth-easiest remaining schedule among all fantasy defenses. In the fantasy football playoffs they have matchups with the Bills, Jets, Browns and Steelers. They are currently available in 27 percent of ESPN leagues. If you have not done so already, I suggest you scoop them up.
4. John Brown is a machine
Michael Thomas, John Brown. There... I just listed the only two players in the NFL with at least 50 receiving yards in every game this season. He may not be the sexiest play, or have the most monstrous stats this season, but John Brown is an absolute machine.
As Josh Allens top weapon, Brown has been a model of consistency this season. He has finished with no less than 9.5 PPR points in any game this season. Most recently, he delivered a single-game season-high in receptions (9) yards (137) TD's (2) and, as a result, fantasy points (34.7).
There are few players (maybe none) who have had a higher floor than Brown this season. I'm not necessarily suggesting you trade him, but hear me out. If it was me, I'd use his high floor as leverage and try to deal him on the heels of his monster game. Sure, he has been a rock for fantasy owners, but consider the fact he has matchups with the Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers and Patriots left on his upcoming schedule. In fact, by FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, he has the fourth-toughest remaining schedule. I can understand if you feel attached to him, and I wouldn't be surprised if he overcame his schedules adversity, but it is something to keep in mind for a player who's value is the highest it has been (and possibly will be) all season.
5. Foles loves Chark
For anyone worried the transition from Minshew to Foles would affect Chark's production, your mind should be put at ease after week 11. While it still remains to be seen whether or not Foles is an actual real-life upgrade at QB for the Jags, Chark remains a WR1.
If you have a good memory, you'll likely recall that Foles actually tossed a 30-yard TD to Chark on the play he broke his collarbone in week one. In week 11, the duo picked up where they left off.
Foles peppered Chark with a season-high 15 targets. Chark finished with 104 yards and two TD's on eight receptions. It was his third 100+ yard effort, and his sixth game with eight or more targets this season. With this kind of increased usage, Chark may even be more valuable than he was with Minshew...
6. Dwayne Haskins is not ready to be a starter
Until the fourth quarter of their week 11 game with the Jets, the Redskins had gone 16 quarters without scoring a TD, the longest streak by any team since 2000. Dwayne Haskins was the starting quarterback for 10 of those 16 quarters, so naturally, I blame him.
Finally, the streak was broken on a 45-yard "touchdown pass" to Derrius Guice. But please, make no mistake, Guice did all the work. Before a garbage time fourth quarter that featured the Guice TD, a 41-yard prayer that Terry McLaurin bailed him out on, and a one-yard TD pass to Jeremy Sprinkle (all against the 31st ranked Jets pass defense) Haskins was on his way to another Brutal day. He passed for 119 of his 214 passing yards in the fourth quarter in week 11. Before that, Haskins was averaging just 27 pass yards per quarter this season.
It's not that he lacks the arm talent or athleticism, but the dude just looks lost on an NFL field. He's having trouble making reads, seeing the field clearly, sensing pressure and, perhaps most importantly, he's dragging Terry McLaurin down. That one I take personally. These are all things you wouldn't have to deal with/could be avoided if Case Keenum was the starter.
I get the whole 'trial by fire' approach, the best way to learn is to fail miserably, and in a season that is already pretty much over for the Redskins, why not get your rookie QB some experience? The problem is, from what I've seen, I don't think Haskins is the answer, and I'm not sure he ever will be.
7. Derrius Guice/Bo Scarborough: RB's to target
I've been in on Guice for a while. He's been featured on the top waiver claims page for three weeks now. In week 11, he displayed why.
On his 45-yard TD reception, Guice showed off the angry running/tackle breaking ability fantasy owners have long been waiting to see at the NFL level. With Dwayne Haskins playing like a disaster, expect the Redskins to lean on the run. Although Adrian Peterson has proven he can still be effective at his age, I'd expect him to be playing second fiddle to the younger more explosive Guice sooner rather than later. At least, Guice certainly made a case for himself in that regard in week 11. But he wasn't the only young RB who stood out on Sunday.
Former Alabama standout Bo Scarborough looked like the remedy for the Lions struggling run game this week. He wasn't wildly effective (55 yards on 14 carries, 3.9 YPC) but he certainly seemed to be an improvement on the ground over TY Johnson or JD McKissic. He scored a five-yard rushing TD in his first game as a Lion, something McKissic and Johnson have failed to do this season.
I'm not as high on Scarborough as I am on Guice, but if they give Bo the job, I like his talent enough from his Bama days that I believe he could prove to be a workhorse for the Lions, at least in the short term. Next up for the Lions is a tasty matchup with the Redskins...
8. David Johnson receives zero touches in week 11
It's a sad day in FantasyLand. Former Fantasy MVP David Johnson has officially lost his job.
Despite being available and fully-healthy, David Johnson has finished with zero points in back to back games. In fact, he didn't receive a single touch on Sunday. But how did it get to this point?
David Johnson, a player that has a season with 2,000 total yards and 20 total TD's under his belt, has been deemed unimportant by his team. After a disappointing 2018 campaign where he was the focal point of all opposing defenses, Johnson seemed to have come in to this season devoid of confidence. Still, despite being relatively ineffective on the ground, with 30 catches and three games of over 21 PPR points through the first six games of 2019, it seemed to be clear he was still an elite pass catching back, that was rightfully worth slating in as an RB1. But after DJ was forced to miss time with injury, Chase Edmonds and Kenyan Drake both outshined anything Johnson had done this season. It seems like this caused him to be perceived as expendable.
Personally, I don't agree with it, but as fantasy owners, we have to accept it. Johnson simply can't be trusted, and can't be played... even as a flex.
9. The real Joe Mixon surfaces
Mixon entered week 11 with two consecutive games of at least 17 PPR points, he extended that streak to three games on Sunday.
Now, let me just start by saying Mixon could have had a humongous game if he was fed just a little bit more. He took his first catch for 17 yards, and his first carry for 30 yards. He turned what should have been a five yard loss in to one of the most impressive TD's of the year. And he did it all in the first quarter.
The Bengals never trailed by more than ten points at any point in this game, so the fact that Mixon received just 10 touches for the remainder of the game is downright puzzling.
I could understand not running the ball if it was essential to pass in order to keep up or if their QB was actually an effective passer (Mixon had more rush yards than Finley had Pass yards entering the fourth quarter). But the fact they completely abandoned the run game, despite Mixon averaging 5.3 yards per carry made absolutely no sense. Then again, I guess that kind of game management would explain why they're 0-10...
On a different note, if the trade deadline in your league hasn't passed, I suggest you make a run for Mixon. I know he's been disappointing this season, but he's trending up. His talent is apparent, and has been on display often in his past couple games. In the fantasy playoffs he will find himself matched up with Miami and Cleveland twice... Just sayin'...
10. Stefon Diggs is impossible to predict
After a three week stretch of at least seven catches and 140 yards, he finishes with just one catch for four yards against the Chiefs? Then, he delivers another sub-par game against the Cowboys, basically establishing you still can't really trust him... again.
So you see a matchup with the Denver Broncos in week 11, a team giving up the fourth-least points to WR's this season. There's no Adam Thielen, so he'll no doubt be the focal point of the Broncos defense. How can you take your chances with that matchup? Especially after the duds he's put up the past two weeks... Sure enough, he rises from the dead to catch five passes for 121 yards and a TD, likely on everyones bench.
I mean, what's his problem? This guy can't just do this every week? Does he have to take every other week off? Why does he hate his fantasy owners? What's he going to do in the fantasy playoffs, retire? Owning Stefon Diggs has been a roller coaster ride this season. Thanks for listening to me complain about it.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.